Major airports were experiencing delays Friday as the FAA reported staffing shortages at two regional air traffic control centers in Washington and Florida. As the longest U.S. government shutdown on record continues for over a month now, air travel is impacted as both the FAA and TSA are experiencing increased staffing issues.
These staffing shortages and delays have been as a direct result of the government shutdown. Both agencies have reported an increase in employee sickouts and “no-shows” with many workers citing financial limitations as preventing them from working.
The FAA ordered a ground stop Friday at LaGuardia Airport causing delays at other major airports. Trish Gilbert, executive vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) told CNN Friday, “We predicted that you cannot continue to operate a system this complex, for this long without the support structure of the people that are furloughed.”
Since Sunday, staffing issues and extended wait times have been acknowledged and reported at John F. Kennedy International Airport; LaGuardia Airport; Baltimore-Washington International Airport; George Bush Intercontinental Airport; Newark Liberty International Airport; Philadelphia International Airport; Miami International Airport; Orlando International Airport; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Tampa International Airport.
On Friday, the longest wait times were reported at LaGuardia Airport at nearly an hour and a half. Chicago O’Hare International Airport has been maintaining wait times at under 20 minutes. For updates on wait times at the busiest international airports, travelers can check the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website. Additionally, checking airport websites and social media feeds for updates on wait times can help travelers mitigate unforeseen circumstances while traveling during this shutdown.
Finding cheap travel during the holidays can be tricky, but if you’re looking to shrug off those winter blues, we’ve got you covered! Below, you’ll find a list of warm and tropical destinations along with some travel tips to help you plan your next Christmas and New Year’s vacation abroad.
Travel to India
There’s no other place in India quite like Goa with it’s unique blend of spirituality, spices, and sunshine. Among the best months to visit are December and January. Goa is a small state on the Western coast of India with more than a dozen different low-key beach towns, and is known for its heavenly cuisine, striking beaches, beautiful architecture, and grand festival celebrations.
With its pictorial beauty, Goa is a paradise for nature lovers. It draws millions of tourists from all over the world every year. You can enjoy the sights of the Sahyadri (Benevolent Mountains) mountain range, which runs parallel to the western coast of the Indian Peninsula or enjoy the picturesque view of the Arabian Sea.
Room rates are quite reasonable even during this busy time of year. Although it’s important to note that the cheapest hotels in Goa (and all over India) tend to be disappointing and rarely worth the savings, the 4-star hotels in Goa are mostly quite good and an excellent value during the Christmas and New Year holidays. Just be sure to do some research before choosing a beach hotel here. The old adage “you get what you pay for” may ring truer than you’d like.
Travel to Thailand
Phuket Island, Thailand
Phuket for New Year…it’s Asia’s most popular beach destination and truly has something for every taste and budget. With hundreds of hotels to choose from, different beach areas, and a wide choice of dining and partying options, Phukett is another destination where hotel research is critical.
Although none of the beaches require an admission fee, Patong Beach is by far the biggest and most crowded of the beach areas, so if you prefer something a bit more peaceful, you may want to consider one of the other beaches. Karon and Kata are both nearby beach areas that are a little more serene and also have several other enclaves of upscale luxury hotels and resorts.
Phuket for Christmas has been a very popular destination and yet it’s still quite affordable even during its peak season. Hotels on or near the beach are going to cost quite a bit more, but those who don’t mind walking a bit can get great value even during these two holidays.
Travel to Vietnam
Hoi An, Vietnam
Da Nang Vietnam
Hoi An is Vietnam’s most charming, atmospheric and delightful town and has been a favorite among visitors to Vietnam for decades. Hội An is known for its diverse and excellent food: a legacy of the many nationalities, including Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese, that lived or traded here. In addition to this, one of the many other reasons why Hoi An is so popular is due to its cheap hotels.
Da Nang, 30 kilometers north of Hoi An, is more of a newcomer to the tourist scene after it built a string of large beachfront hotels meant for foreign guests. Many tourists stay in nearby Da Nang to enjoy the casinos and bus to Hoi An for a day trip. Both of these towns have an abundance of great and affordable restaurants serving several varieties. This is one destination to think about if it feels like you’ve been everywhere else.
Travel to the Philippines
Boracay Island, Philippines
Having recently reopened in the fall of 2018, after being closed for 6 months, experts say the island is still recovering. The island closed itself to visitors in April of 2018 for repair & restoration citing over-tourism. While Boracay is still one of the best destinations for Christmas & New Year travel, some things have changed, so be sure to research these recent changes before booking your next flight.
There are no super-cheap hotels on Boracay Island, but that’s mainly because every hotel is within 100 meters or less of the sandy beach. Additionally, there are plans to cap the number of visitors to the island to prevent a re-occurrence of over-tourism, so you may want to make your plans sooner rather than later if you decide to choose Borocay as you next holiday destination.
Borocay also offers many choices of international cuisine here, including many chain restaurants. The most obvious choices are the great number of affordable all-you-can-eat buffets that set up every evening right on the beach. There’s also plenty of live music, as you’d expect in the Philippines. Certainly a destination to try if you’ve not had the pleasure.
Travel to Spain
Canary Islands Spain
Tenerife is the largest and most ‘English language friendly’ of Spain’s Canary Islands, which are just west of Morocco. Tenerife has year round sunshine, and perfect weather even in December. which makes this travel destination perfect if you’re looking for warmer climates during the winter months. With its otherworldly beauty, over 5 million travelers make this trip every year to enjoy spectacular beaches, numerous water-sports, and everything that this island has to offer.
Partly because December & January are not considered “beach season” months, hotels in Tenerife are still quite cheap during the Christmas holiday period. Most everything else is quite affordable too, at least compared to many other places in Europe and the U.S. Especially if you are looking for a place with reasonable airfares from elsewhere in Europe, this could be a good choice. The areas around Los Cristianos and Playa de la Americas are the most accommodating for English speaking travelers and has the most consistent warm weather.
There are more than 700 different Caribbean islands, islets, reefs and caves. These islands are divided into different island groups. We’re just going to list the Top 3 according to travelers around the globe.
British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands, or BVI for short, are some of the most exclusive and least developed islands of the Caribbean, but this only adds to their appeal. The resorts, villas, restaurants and other tourist attractions in this paradise are known to emphasize spare luxury over sprawling expansion, and they attract travelers with deep pockets and a love for sailing and seclusion. Many travelers who visit come by ferry boat from another Caribbean isle, especially as some find opulent exile too hard to enjoy for longer than a day or two. And some say it’s better to split your time between here, the nearby U.S. Virgin Islands and Anguilla to the east.
Lush, unspoiled St. Lucia has a growing fan base. Some of its vacationers are music lovers, letting loose at the springtime St. Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival, or adrenaline junkies, testing their limits climbing The Pitons or zip lining through the Chassin region’s rain forest. Others are honeymooners, unwinding on one of the island’s chalky beaches or holing up in one of its isolated resorts.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands are “America’s Caribbean Paradise” — the place to see moko jumbies dance at a Carnival parade, hear the lilting patois of a Creole dialect or smell the spices in a saltfish pate (all without losing cell phone reception). You can visit either St. Thomas, St. John or St. Croix, or better yet, spend a little time on all three islands. That way you’ll get plenty of pampering, undisturbed nature and colonial history jammed into one vacation. And bonus: you can pay for everything with U.S. dollars.