Airbnb is cracking down on parties. They are now basically the equivalent of your parents when you were in high school. Even if you refer to it as a “small gathering,” there is still the possibility of making a mess or other types of property damage. So to avoid these situations, they’re instituting a new policy for…Read more...
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Airbnb definitely does not want people to rent properties on their site for the purpose of...Airbnb definitely does not want people to rent properties on their site for the purpose of hosting parties. First, they came out with a global ban on parties in August. Then, they instituted a policy that blocks people from making last-minute bookings in their hometown. Now, Airbnb has issued new guidelines for…Read more...
Important cancellation policies and dates for 2020 holiday travel: Marriott, Airbnb, Hilton, and more
Summary List Placement Despite the pandemic, many will likely consider holiday travel this year to visit...Summary List Placement Despite the pandemic, many will likely consider holiday travel this year to visit family and take deferred vacations after months of isolation. Cheap fares, hotel rates, and packages are also aiming to lure those who are comfortable with the risks associated with travel. If you're considering booking a great deal but want to watch and see what happens, it's important to understand cancellation policies. We compiled key 2020 holiday dates and cancellation policies for hotel brands, vacation rental platforms, and online booking sites. Read more: Is it safe to travel for the holidays? Here's what doctors, a microbiologist, and a travel pro told us. Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky The holiday travel season is going to look very different in 2020. Many people will be weighing whether they should go anywhere at all, not just because of safety, but because of social responsibility. And while some will stay home, others will still plan to travel by plane, train, or car to see loved ones after months of separation, or to take a long-anticipated vacation. After all, exceptionally low prices are being promoted right now on everything from flights to hotels and vacation packages, adding serious temptation. "In normal years, the holidays are one of the most expensive times of year to travel," explains Scott's Cheap Flights founder Scott Keyes. "That's because it's such a popular time not only to see family, but for many students, teachers, and families with kids, it may be one of the few coordinated vacation breaks they get. With all those people traveling at the same time, fares are bound to go up." He cautions, however, "But this isn't a normal year." Because far fewer people are booking holiday travel, Keyes says the opposite has occurred, and holiday fares have precipitously dropped. "We have found more cheap Christmas flights in 2020 than the past five years combined. So while people mistakenly assume that all cheap flights these days are a result of the pandemic, the one area where cheap fares are directly attributable to coronavirus is for holiday travel." And while many travelers will want to take advantage of such lucrative deals, the situation surrounding the novel coronavirus is fast-evolving. While one destination may seem safe right now, it could easily emerge as a new hotspot in two to three months if a second wave of the pandemic occurs, and as cold and flu season begins. For those that want to book travel, but lack confidence that they will actually be able to go, or may not ultimately feel comfortable doing so, it's important to know that your travel purchase is protected amid so much uncertainty. Fortunately, right now is also a good time to find more generous cancellation policies than ever before, with flexible options that allow travelers to back out without added fees, for any reason at all. Like airlines, major hotel brands and third-party booking engines are offering similarly lenient policies, competitive pricing, and refund options for both new and holiday bookings. They're also promoting stringent new cleaning procedures in an attempt to reassure concerned travelers. I did some heavy online digging to see how this side of hospitality is responding, and while few travel outlets are publishing special cancellation periods specifically targeted at holiday travel, some do specify a mid-December cutoff — approximately the week before Christmas — for refunds. That means most Thanksgiving travel may be booked right now, worry-free. For an at-a-glance guide to cancellation periods, we rounded up the current published policies from major hotels, online travel agencies, and home rental platforms. And if you do decide to book, here's what experts say you should know about whether it's safe to fly over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the holiday season, specifically. Keep reading for key dates and cancellation policies from hotels and online travel booking platforms for 2020 holiday travel. Airbnb Airbnb hosts set their own cancellation policies, which vary depending on the listing as well as the amount of time from booking, or until check-in. Individual cancellation details are available towards the bottom of each listing page, and you can also search by this filter for more flexible options. Available policies hosts can choose include Flexible, Moderate, and Strict. For some places, hosts offer a choice of refundable or non-refundable booking with a different price and terms. Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, with a check-in date between that date and October 31, are covered by Airbnb's extenuating circumstances policy and may be canceled before check-in. Guests who cancel their bookings will see cancellation and refund options: Airbnb will either refund, or issue travel credit that includes, all service fees for covered cancellations. Booking.com Look for bookings that state flexible cancellation policies; if you don't book a flexible rate, you may not be entitled to a refund. If you already have a booking that is non-refundable or no longer free to cancel, you may face a cancellation fee if you cancel. You may also try calling the hotel property booked directly as they may be willing to change your dates at no additional cost. If your reservation ends up being a no-go because of pandemic-related events — like a border closure — sign into your account and check your options. In these situations, the property must provide a refund, offer a free date change, or a credit for a future stay. Expedia For future travel, look for the filters labeled "free cancellation" (for lodging) and "no change fee" (for flights) to avoid penalties. Car rentals are flexible. For existing travel, many reservations made through Expedia already qualify for either free cancellation or no-fee change. Sign into your account and check your itinerary. If you qualify, you can change or cancel your reservations from within your itinerary. If you booked a package vacation, you'll have to cancel your lodging and your flight separately, subject to the cancellation policies of your specific booking. If you don't have an account, you can use your itinerary or confirmation number. Four Seasons For any future arrival date, reservations (even pre-paid ones) qualify for any changes or cancellations at no charge up to 24 hours before arrival, as long as the change or cancellation is made by December 31 — which generously includes the entire 2020 holiday period. But some exclusions do apply during holidays, so check your individual rate rules when booking to confirm. Changes to any reservations will be subject to availability as well as any potential rate differences. Hilton Hotels All reservations made through September 30 can be changed or canceled at no charge, up to 24 hours before check-in date. If you're booking a new reservation now (in other words, past that cutoff date), your reservation is subject to published cancellation policies. If you are a Hilton Honors member, and cancel an advance purchase rate, you may be eligible for a free night certificate for each canceled night, to use by August 31, 2021. Hotels.com If you haven't yet made your booking, look for rates stating flexible cancellation policies. If you have already booked one that offers free cancellation, you'll get a refund for the amount that you paid. If you made a non-refundable booking, but your destination is considered inaccessible, you qualify for a full refund or a hotel voucher if you cancel at least 24 hours in advance. But that's just under those circumstances: If your destination is considered open for travel but you just want to cancel anyway, your booking's original cancellation policy applies. Hyatt Hotels New reservations booked on or after July 1 for arrival dates through July 31, 2021, can be canceled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival (with few limited exceptions), making all holiday travel flexible. Find a list of change and cancellation fee waiver exceptions online to check before booking. Some individual hotel properties may adjust this cancellation policy during high-demand periods like holidays, so review the rate rules when booking. These will show the current cancellation and deposit policies for your specific stay. Reservations can be changed or canceled on hyatt.com or via the app. Changes to existing reservations are subject to availability and possible rate differences. Note that these policies apply to reservations made directly through Hyatt directly. Online travel agents or other third parties may have different policies. InterContinental Hotel Group The hotel group offered more flexible cancellation policies due to COVID-19, but those are mainly not applicable to the 2020 holiday period because all non-refundable and pre-paid bookings from October 1 onward will be subject to the terms and conditions stated during booking. Some rates do have flexible cancellation built-in, so check your booking for the details. Langham Hotels & Resorts Langham will provide a full refund (including related fees) on cancellations for bookings as long as they're made at least 24 hours prior to arrival date. This applies for stays up to and including December 18. Outside of that window, policies differ for individual Langham hotels. If you made your booking through a third party, you'll have to contact that entity, as their policies will apply. Lowes Hotels Lowes' flexible policy allows cancellation with 24 hours notice for any new and existing reservations. Pre-paid and non-refundable reservations may not be included in this policy. Reservations made through a third party are subject to that entity's terms. Marriott Bonvoy Existing reservations for future travel are subject to the policies stated at the time of booking. Late cancellation booking may be equivalent to the room night cost. For guests with reservations made on or after July 6 for arrival dates through December 30, Marriott will allow changes or cancellations without a fee up to 24 hours before the scheduled arrival date. Pre-paid reservations and a few other exclusions will be subject to the policies stated at the time of booking, such as the responsibility to pay the nightly room rate if canceling late. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts For new individual reservations booked as of March 14, for stays through December 19, a flexible 24-hour, no-fee cancellation policy applies. Travelocity Travelocity doesn't charge its own cancellation fees, and as long as you're canceling with three days' notice of your stay, most hotels in your itinerary won't charge one either. If you need to cancel a flight within 24 hours of booking it, most airlines don't charge a fee, and neither does the online agency. Vrbo (and HomeAway) Note that Vrbo and HomeAway are now the same platform, except in name, and as such, they have the same cancellation policies. With the summer COVID-19 policies now past, the host's standard cancellation policy currently applies. It falls into three categories. The first is called Relaxed. Bookings canceled at least 14 days before the start of the stay receive a full refund. Those canceled at least seven days in advance receive a 50% refund. The next category is Moderate. Bookings canceled 30 days or more from check-in receive a full refund. Two weeks or more from check-in and guests can receive a 50% refund. The most stringent policy is Firm. Bookings canceled 60 days out receive a full refund; then guests can receive a 50% refund until 30 days before check-in. Wyndham Hotels For new or existing direct bookings, all properties are required to accommodate non-cancelable rate reservation changes without penalty if the request is received at least 48 hours prior to arrival, and the same number of room nights or more are booked for a future stay. This policy does not apply to group bookings, such as meetings or events. Guests who are prohibited from traveling to their booked hotel will have their cancellation or change penalties waived on direct bookings. Join the conversation about this story »
5 trip-booking sites where you can find last-minute camping reservations, including for private campsites
Summary List Placement When it comes to traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic, vacation rentals are generally...Summary List Placement When it comes to traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic, vacation rentals are generally agreed upon by experts to be safer than hotels. Camping, however, is likely to quell nerves even further as there's far less risk when staying in remote areas and pitching your own tent. According to the North American Camping Report, 47% of leisure travelers who like to camp plan to do so in place of one of their canceled trips this year. As a result, many traditional campsites are booking up fast, but these lesser-known sites offer convenient alternatives when national parks are full or if you're new to camping. Read more: 17 best campsites across the US for a scenic outdoor getaway After hitting another dead end on Recreation.gov, I was just about to give up on my dream of a last-minute, mid-September camping trip to Washington's Central Cascades. The site was either already booked up for every weekend until Thanksgiving, was located too far, or didn't provide enough amenities to satisfy my camping troupe. As my desired weekend inched closer, I felt more and more like I was in over my head, until I remembered, "doesn't Airbnb list campsites?" Indeed they do. Scroll through the search filters and you'll find a box to check: Campsite. I quickly came across a private campsite that fit all my needs. Not only was it available, but as with all Airbnb listings, I could see that it was well-reviewed, with a clear breakdown of pricing and policies. However, at approximately $100 per night, the site I booked was admittedly five times more expensive than a federal campsite. But, it was located on private property with panoramic views, included a toilet and running water, and was very remote for safe social distancing. As my trip approached, I discovered another benefit to booking this way. Wildfires were resulting in toxic air actually hovering above my weekend plans. Thankfully, rescheduling on Airbnb was easy. All I had to do was directly communicate my concerns to the host who graciously allowed me to postpone twice while waiting for the smoke to clear. Had I managed to squeeze in a reservation at a federal campsite, there wouldn't have been an easy way to reschedule and I would have incurred a cancellation fee. As such, if you're a latecomer to camping like I am, it's important to know that there are many options to consider besides federal sites, which are likely to be booked in your area as well. And Airbnb is only one such other offering. But you may still encounter some competition as many travelers seek safer ways to travel close to home right now. In May, RV booking sites reported over 1000% increases in RV rentals and Kampgrounds of America (KOA) reported that advanced reservations for the fall months are 28% higher than they were in 2019. Keep in mind that while campgrounds, and especially private campsites, are largely a safer alternative to hotel stays, there is still no guarantee of safety when it comes to travel right now. We always recommend following guidelines from the CDC and checking local and state regulations before making any travel plans. It's also wise to read up on the CDC's recommendations for best practices for visiting parks and recreation facilities. Additionally, there are currently unprecedented wildland fire conditions in the US and some campsite locations may be closed right now. That said, if you do want to pitch a tent, these platforms make it easy to search for, plan, and book, great camping getaways. Additionally, KOA and ReserveAmerica are two good resources to keep in mind where you can easily search a large number of campgrounds quickly for availability. However, many of the campsites listed are the same as those you'll find on Recreation.gov and other popular aggregator sites — which means they may not help you out when it comes to finding under-the-radar spots to book in a pinch. Experienced campers can also look to pitch a tent on public lands away from developed recreation facilities on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas. But for those not quite ready to set off on a backcountry trek, I've compiled the following list and recommendations based on my experiences, along with extensive research, and selected platforms that offer an easy booking experience and solid availability of campsites over the next few months. Additionally, several sites listed below offer private campsite bookings, which is particularly relevant in the COVID era. These are the best lesser-known websites for finding a last-minute campsite.Airbnb Book a camping trip through Airbnb The world's largest vacation rental site is filled with people who are more than happy to let you pitch a tent in their backyard, as well as small independent campgrounds that promote listings on the site, too. All you have to do is plug in your desired location and filter for campsites specifically. You can still find plenty of the unique experiences that Airbnb is famous for, like camping on a farm in Maine or in a riverside meadow in California. Although you won't be able to find a private campsite inside a national or state park, you can still find campsites close to the entrance like this well-stocked campground just 7 miles from Utah's Zion National Park or this beautiful forest-adjacent field just 10 minutes Washington's Olympia National Park. Pros: It's familiar and if you've built up a high rating as an Airbnb guest, you might be more inclined to stay on the platform. Cons: It's not commonly known as a place to list campsites, so it may not offer a good representation of all the private campgrounds in the area. Additionally, service, cleaning, and occupancy taxes may be applied to the total bill. COVID-19 cleaning procedures: In April, Airbnb announced a new optional cleaning protocol that would distinguish listings that commit to them. If a campground has shared amenities like a pool or hot tub, these may not be available. Hipcamp Book a camping trip through Hipcamp A site that is touted as the "Airbnb of Camping," Hipcamp lists hundreds of campsites, RV sites, and glamping tents on its streamlined platform. Built with campers in mind, you can filter specifically for your camping needs from running water to ADA accessibility to equestrian access. You'll also be able to find many listings near popular national parks like this plateau plot near the Grand Canyon, or this site at the largest campground overlooking the sweeping views of Shenandoah National Park. Hipcamp is also a great resource for less traditional camping alternatives and you can rent everything from open-air treehouses to shipping containers. Pros: Campsite listings are incredibly thorough and they don't stop at just listing amenities. You can also filter by available activities like swimming and climbing or terrain features like hot springs, waterfalls, and caves. Unlike Airbnb, reviewers are able to upload photographs with their reviews which helps create a realistic picture of what to expect. Cons: You will have to pay a non-refundable 8% to 18% service fee with every listing. COVID-19 protocol: Hipcamp has introduced a set of safety standards for their hosts to commit to. This includes adjusting the space between sites to ensure social distancing and disinfecting shared spaces and allowing for contactless or physically-distant check-in. The Dyrt Book a camping trip through The Dyrt Like Trip Advisor, but specifically for the outdoors, The Dyrt is an incredible resource for planning a camping or hiking trip. It's full of detailed information, reviews, and user-uploaded photographs that can help provide a realistic expectation of what you find before you head out into the great outdoors. Although you can't book campsites directly on the website, you can still use the website to find thoroughly-reviewed cabins and campsites in state and national parks, as well as private campsites. Every campsite listing includes a link where you can book directly, whether it be on recreation.gov, KOA, or an independent campground. Pros: Along with campsites, you can also find information about nearby hikes and other things to do, which can help you thoroughly plan your whole trip. Cons: You can't book directly on this website, but you will be able to check availability for state and national parks. COVID-19 protocol: Because it's a resource and not a direct booking platform, the Dyrt cannot influence how campsites are managed, but they are compiling information on which campgrounds are open. Glamping Hub Book a camping trip through Glamping Hub If you're not quite ready to rough it at a traditional campsite, there's always glamping. Glamping Hub has listings all over the world with over 15,000 glamorous camping sites in the US alone. This booking site is chock-full of unique accommodations from cabins and tiny houses to train cabooses and geodesic domes and there's no need to pack a sleeping bag. Granted, you're not going to convince everyone that a weekend in a cabin with running water and Wi-Fi is still camping, but with a little digging, you can still find off-the-grid locations, like this romantic tent on Washington's Whidbey Island, and hosts that offer traditional camping with a twist like this hanging tent playground in California. Pros: Glamping Hub's specialty is in unique accommodations, so if your travel tastes align with the eccentric, this is a great place to find hidden gems. Cons: Prices for some of the most upscale and decked-out glamping sites will be much more similar to a hotel stay than a traditional campsite. COVID-19 protocol: Glamping Hub has not introduced a standard cleaning protocol for their hosts to follow, but has instead encouraged hosts to highlight their sanitation practices on the listing. Tentrr Book a camping trip through Tentrr A site that is exclusive to listings from private landowners, and even includes property in state parks, Tentrr features listings in 41 states and Puerto Rico. You can filter by the website's "signature" or "backcountry" campsites depending on whether or not you want to bring your own camping equipment or shack up in a glamping tent. The model of this site offers unique camping opportunities like this abandoned zoo in the Catskills or this quiet forest just five miles away from the Oregon Coast. Tentrr also lets you purchase extras for your trip right when you book your reservation. These extras are offered by the hosts and vary based on the site. They could be anything from a prepaid firewood bundle and a cooking set to a tour of the on-site apiary or a needle felting workshop. Pros: Booking a campsite on private property offers seclusion and the opportunity to enjoy landscapes not accessible at any other time. Tentrr also sells its own glamping tents, so many listings will have both a backcountry and signature option. Cons: At the time of writing, the majority of listings are concentrated on the east coast, particularly in New York. Also, the platform does not allow you to click through to a user profile to see other posts by reviewers. COVID-19 protocol: Tentrr requires all hosts to follow strict guidelines and an enhanced cleaning procedure that includes providing guests with potable water and disinfectant, allowing self check-in, and thoroughly disinfecting campsites between stays.