Expedia reveals top holiday destinations

Expedia reveals top holiday destinationsHotel Business | Hotel Business

New data released by Expedia indicates holiday travel planning is underway and the top choices for Thanksgiving and Christmas escapes are sunny beachside destinations across Mexico, the southern U.S. and the Caribbean. Mountaintop getaways to Utah and Colorado are also shaping up to be popular for travelers this holiday season. While many of these destinations are already seeing strong demand, it’s important to know that it’s not too late to book.

Holiday trip planning tips

Flight booking tips: Booking holiday airfare is all about timing. While booking well in advance can yield savings, often it’s just as important to be flexible with travel dates to avoid the busiest travel days. According to Expedia data, the most expensive travel dates around the holidays are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 24) and Thursday, Dec. 23. And for those planning a post-Christmas trip, avoid departing on Tuesday, Dec. 28. Here’s when to fly:

  • Historically, shifting departure dates to the week before or after each holiday will yield savings. For example, departing on or before Nov. 19 in 2019 resulted in a savings of nearly 15% compared to departing the day before Thanksgiving. For Christmas, departing between Dec. 13-17 could save travelers more than 10%. Traveling on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day also often results in cheaper fares.
  • Consider a trip in between the holidays: Currently, prices for domestic flights in early December (from the 6-17) are around 15-2% cheaper than they were for the same timeframe in 2019.
  • Start the year off right: The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a very popular travel week and prices often reflect that. A more budget-friendly itinerary would be to depart on New Year’s Eve and spend the first week of the year on vacation.

Getting the best value on accommodations: It’s no secret that average daily lodging rates have gone up since travel began to recover earlier in the year, and the trend is likely to continue into the busy holiday season. Current demand data shows prices are generally lower during the Thanksgiving holiday compared to the week of Christmas. For popular resort destinations in Mexico or the Caribbean such as Cancun or Punta Cana, for example, those savings could amount to around $70 or more per night.

Car rental: For travelers in need of a car during their holiday trips, pricing trends reveal that now is a great time to lock it in. Average rates per day for the holiday time periods are currently trending downward, but as pricing can fluctuate there’s no guarantee how long these rates will last. Filter for options that allow “free cancellation” or “pay at pick up” to score even more flexibility when planning ahead.

Budget-friendly destinations: City destinations like New York, San Francisco and Boston continue to offer up some the best deals around in terms of hotel prices, with savings for the holidays ranging from 10-35% compared to 2019. But if a beach escape is preferred, the winter months are a great time to go, with many warm-weather destinations like Miami, Orange County and Myrtle Beach offering better rates compared to the summer months.

Top destinations

Beach destinations are always a favorite for the holidays and 2021 sees this trend going strong. The bottom line for travelers: if any of these hotspots sound appealing, be sure to firm up travel plans soon for the best options and availability.

Thanksgiving week

  1. Cancun, Mexico
  2. Nashville
  3. Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Mexico
  4. Oahu, HI
  5. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  6. Charleston, SC
  7. Myrtle Beach, SC
  8. Salt Lake City
  9. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
  10. Indianapolis, IN


  1. Christmas
  2. Orlando
  3. Cancun, Mexico
  4. Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Mexico
  5. Oahu, HI
  6. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  7. Kansas City, MO
  8. Salt Lake City
  9. Palm Beach area, FL
  10. Rapid City—Mount Rushmore, SD
  11. Sarasota area, FL

Not all travelers are heading to their normal vacation spots, however. Looking at which destinations are seeing the biggest jumps in terms of search interest for Thanksgiving and Christmas proves some travelers are thinking outside the box. From an ecotourism mecca in Costa Rica to the ski slopes of Colorado, these trending destinations clearly have a lot to entice holiday travelers.

Thanksgiving week

  1. St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands
  2. Salt Lake City
  3. Acapulco, Mexico
  4. Estes Park, CO
  5. Park City, UT
  6. Chatanooga, TN
  7. Monteverde, Costa Rica
  8. Boulder, CO
  9. Fresno, CA
  10. Yucatan, Mexico


  1. Gainsville, FL
  2. Allentown, PA
  3. Estes Park, CO
  4. Knoxville, TN
  5. Chatanooga, TN
  6. Salt Lake City
  7. Cherokee, NC
  8. Oregon Coast, OR
  9. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  10. Ocean City, MD

Flexibility is key for holiday and winter travel

  • Book refundable stays
  • Try to avoid restrictive or non-refundable airfare
  • Take direct flights and avoid taking the last flight of the day whenever possible during the winter months to reduce the chances of missed connections or delays due to canceled flights or winter storms.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 restrictions and requirements for airlines, hotels and destinations. Some hotels require proof of vaccination while others might require a negative test result from an approved list of providers.

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