With travel bans, increased airline cancellations, and general uncertainty related to the Delta variant, people are booking overlapping vacations to ensure that they’ll be able to travel — what’s known as “trip stacking.” Basically, it’s a back-up plan that ensures you’ll still travel on the days you’ve already booked off, even if your initial travel plans fall apart. Here’s a look at how it works.
What’s “trip stacking”?
Trip stacking is when you book more than one vacation for the same time, with the intention to cancel all but one. Usually it involves booking one big ambitious trip (overseas travel) and a lesser trip that’s either in the U.S. or closer to home, like Mexico or the Caribbean.
The reasoning is simple: COVID-era travel restrictions have been unpredictable, making it difficult to plan a vacation with any certainty, especially since most people plan big trips months in advance. For example, many European countries have imposed travel restrictions after the European Union recently removed the United States from a “safe list” of countries for inbound travel. If you had been planning a trip since earlier this summer — when most people were expecting the borders to open by fall — you would have been forced to cancel your plans.
Thing is, many airlines and hotels have flexible cancellation policies that allow you to cancel or change plans with minimal to no cost, which makes them that much more tempting to book. In that case, the real issue is that most travellers have the time booked off already, and that sudden cancellation is forcing them to change their plans on-the-fly. Sure, those vacation days could be rebooked, but that’s not always easy to do, especially if those days don’t rollover and have to be taken before the end of the year.
That’s where a pre-booked backup plan comes in: If your ambitious travel plans fall apart, you still have another vacation as a back-up (you could still take a cancellable Florida trip instead of Spain, for example). After all, a staycation might be fine normally, but that might be underwhelming if you had three weeks booked off for international travel already.
Just make sure you actually cancel early
By booking more vacation that you intend to take, you’re taking slots away from other people that want to take the same trip. For that reason, it’s possible that airlines and hotels will eventually start scaling back their flexible cancellation policies if more people start ghosting their reservations. If you plan to stack trips, try to cancel all your back-up reservations as soon as possible, not just because it’s the courteous thing to do, but also because you’re less likely to overlook any last-minute cancellation fees.