It’s ‘National Plan Your Vacation Day’ — here’s how to make your dream trip a reality

Jan 25, 2022

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Raise your hand if you actually took all of your PTO in 2021.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many people have continued to opt for takeout instead of dining indoors, and have had to cancel even more vacations.

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Even if you want to take a few days to relax and unwind and take a vacation at home, that’s important. It’s a well-known fact that Americans don’t take enough time off (even without a global health crisis), but the pandemic didn’t make it easier.

Just one-quarter of Americans used all of their earned time off in 2021, according to data from the U.S. Travel Association. And a whopping 91% of Americans say it’s important to use their paid time off to travel.

Planning a vacation may be more critical than ever. Whether you want to know the hottest places to travel to or the most relaxing place to staycation, there’s a ton of inspiration out there to encourage you to finally book that dream trip.

But just in case you need a little extra nudge, today is National Plan Your Vacation Day. In honor of this most auspicious “holiday,” we’re rounding up some of our favorite tips to help you, well, plan a vacation today.

So, get out your pen and paper and take notes, because the vacation-planning class is in session.

In This Post

Be flexible and patient

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

This is especially true given the pandemic.

Millions of travelers around the country are fully vaccinated. Still, there are operational delays and supply chain problems as workers call out sick due to the omicron variant.

I canceled some of my travel plans for the winter and spring, but I am cautiously optimistic about the months to come.

Last year, travel spiked around big holidays like Memorial Day weekend, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I expect that will continue this year, so if you want to book trips during National Plan Your Vacation Day, you may want to focus on the upcoming holidays, when it pays to book far in advance and you’ll have a better sense of how the pandemic is progressing.

Be aware of change and cancellation policies

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Early in the pandemic, travelers who had to cancel flights were given travel credits instead of a cash refund.

Many carriers have since improved their refund policies, but some travelers struggle to make sense of ongoing changes and claim a refund when it’s due.

When booking your flights, pay close attention to the cancellation and rebooking policies. Many airlines now allow new tickets to be changed or canceled for no fee. If rebooking, you may need to pay a difference between the original and the new fare. If you cancel, you’ll typically get a flight credit that can be put toward a new reservation.

Related: Why you should think twice before accepting an airline voucher

Maximize your elite status

(Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

One of the best moves hotel providers made during the pandemic was extending elite status. Many hotel programs have extended elite status through the winter of 2023. If you’re looking to camp out in a suite for a few nights, elite status can get you there.

For instance, a World of Hyatt stay in New York City last year earned me Globalist status through the beginning of next year.

I’m already planning another staycation for later in the year, this time at a swankier hotel in the New York area. With Globalist status, I’ll get a slew of perks like complimentary breakfast, club lounge access, and — best of all — suite upgrades.

Having Hyatt Globalist status means being eligible for complimentary space-available standard suite upgrades at check-in. Globalists can also enjoy suites by securing them in advance using complimentary suite upgrade awards. These upgrades are technically no longer earned just because you’re a Hyatt Globalist, but they still come as a byproduct of earning the status.

So, if you’re interested in enjoying a relaxing hotel stay, take a look at your preferred hotel’s relaxed elite status to knock out some nights to earn top-tier status down the line.

Keep an eye out for deals

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

You don’t have to splurge to have the vacation of a lifetime.

Following us on social media is a great way to keep up with the latest points, miles and cash deals, and if you see one you want, jump on it. Several travel providers are also offering deals to celebrate the day. Remember, you (almost) always have 24 hours to cancel or change a flight from, to or within the U.S., assuming the flight was booked at least seven days ahead of departure. So, book now and plan later.

Delta SkyMiles are some of my favorites to use for short-haul domestic and Caribbean flights, as well as to parts of South America. I’m already planning a trip to either Mexico City or Colombia. That means I keep a close eye on flights from New York to Mexico City (MEX) and Bogota (BOG).

If you have a destination in mind, make sure you’re checking cash and miles rates at least once a day — you might just snag a fantastic deal.

Bottom line

With flexible change and cancellation policies, you’re at least protected if you need to cancel, which I hope doesn’t have to happen if the pandemic gets more under control.

It can be hard to consider planning travel for 2022, especially if you didn’t take many vacations in 2021. But that’s precisely why you should plan travel. If the pandemic taught me nothing else, I learned that life was short and to live up every moment — when it’s safe to do so, of course.

Featured image courtesy of ©thierrydehove.com/Getty Images

Additional reporting by Samantha Rosen. 

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