(NEXSTAR) – With the omicron variant surging, and some countries reimposing restrictions, planning travel for 2022 can feel a bit uncertain. Is it possible to plan ahead for a trip that’s safe, cheap, and won’t get canceled?
We turned to Melanie Lieberman, senior travel editor of The Points Guy, for tips on where to go. The safest bet — if there is such a thing — are domestic travel options, especially destinations that center around nature and the outdoors.
“One of the destinations we’re really excited about is Wyoming,” said Lieberman. She said the state made its way onto The Points Guy’s roundup of top travel destinations in 2022 because of its natural beauty in all seasons. Yellowstone National Park is also celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2022.
National Parks in general are a great place to look at as travel options. They’ve all stayed open consistently since the first wave of the pandemic passed — though some popular parks like Yosemite and Zion have both implemented different systems to help control crowds. While lodging in and around national parks can be costly if you’re not camping, some may be within driving distance, which can cut down on costs significantly.
Another idea for cheap travel right now comes from the polar opposite side of the spectrum: Head into the big cities.
“For people who are really thinking about where they can get great value, it’s most likely going to be in cities in terms of hotels, because cities are not filling hotels the way they used to,” Lieberman said. She suggested looking at cities that are typically big-business travel destinations, like New York, for cheap hotel rooms.
If you’re hoping to venture abroad, Lieberman recommended looking at places that have stayed consistently open throughout the pandemic to minimize the chance you’ll have to cancel due to a change in travel restrictions.
She said Mexico and different Caribbean islands have had great deals recently, and people should keep an eye out for flash sales to both of those places. This month, Lieberman said she’s spotted flight deals to St. Martin, the Bahamas, and Jamaica.
“Deals can change and are very short-lived,” she emphasized, so be ready to book if you find a good deal on travel or lodging at one of the places you have your heart set on.
Travel to Europe, especially flights, remains expensive compared to places closer to home. However, there are a few countries that have been vocal about their commitment to staying open, Lieberman said, including popular destinations like Greece and Italy.
The deals aren’t as good as early in the pandemic, Lieberman admitted, when the tourism industry and airlines were slashing prices to try and drum up demand. “It doesn’t mean you can’t find a deal, it just means they might not be as steep as you might have expected,” she said.
One final tip if you’re looking to get away on the cheap: Be mindful of route frequency.
“If you’re traveling on what was a popular business travel route, a lot of airlines have cut back on the frequency so you have more people competing for fewer seats,” she said. Look for destinations that still have lots of incoming flights to avoid overpaying.