What Is Trip Stacking, and Should You Do It?

Have you heard of trip stacking? Here's what the trend is all about, and whether or not it's here to stay.

I always like to have a backup plan, in case something doesn’t go how I planned. This is usually in relation to, say, having a savings account for emergencies, or keeping candles around in case a storm knocks out the power.

But these days, a growing number of people are setting up backup plans for their vacations. It’s called trip stacking, and it involves booking multiple trips during the same travel period.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, you’re likely to start hearing more about it. It’s a fairly new trend that’s been picking up steam thanks to the lasting effects of the pandemic.

Why Travelers Are Turning to Trip Stacking

Imagine waiting months – or even years – to travel, only to have your vacation plans scrapped at the last minute thanks to canceled flights, ever-changing travel restrictions, staffing shortages, and closures. Talk about a major disappointment and a waste of vacation days.

That scenario is exactly why people have turned to trip stacking. Travelers book two, three, or even more trips at the same exact time. Obviously, you can’t be in multiple places at once. The idea is that you have a plan B, a plan C, and even a plan D in case one or more of your trips is unexpectedly canceled.

Airplane landing at dusk

Having a solid backup plan, or even a couple of them, is pretty appealing to people whose vacation days are not flexible. With so many people feeling burned out and in need of a break, vacations are starting to become more important. No one wants to waste the time they set aside for a special trip. That time off from work is precious.

As you can see, the whole idea is a strategy for those detail-oriented travelers who believe in having a solid backup plan. It does come at a price, though, considering you have to have the cash to make several deposits at once. And you have to be alright with potentially losing some of that deposit money, too.

Of course, this only works when dealing with flight and hotel reservations that are refundable. You absolutely need to ensure that your flight and hotel reservations are fully refundable before you start trip stacking. Luckily, many cancellation policies have stayed really flexible, allowing travelers to get full or partial refunds. Whether or not those policies change in response to the rising trend of trip stacking, we’ll have to wait and see.

It can also cost travelers extra if they don’t read the fine print. Not every cancellation policy is created the same. If you don’t cancel in a certain time frame, you could be charged for that last-minute cancellation. No one wants to pay for two vacations when you can only enjoy one of them.

Will Trip Stacking Stick Around?

It’s hard to predict if trip stacking will stick around, or fade away as fast as it arrived. I do think we’ll see it happening for at least a little while. There are fewer travel restrictions ruining trips last minute this year compared to last year, but we are seeing a lot of cancellations and delays due to other issues, like staffing shortages.

Related: Tips to Make Your Next Flight Less of a Headache

While trip stacking may be popular at the moment, I don’t really see it lasting forever, though. Eventually, we will likely see hotels and airlines tighten up their cancellation policies to combat it. At this point, it seems like only travelers and travel agents are the only ones who benefit from it.

Should You Take Advantage of Trip Stacking?

So, should you do it? Well, it depends.

Trip stacking is really only beneficial when dealing with certain destinations – usually for travelers going abroad. I don’t think you necessarily need to book multiple trips if you’re just hoping to go a few states over.

Some destinations abroad have been consistently easy to visit, too. For instance, a trip to Mexico is less likely to get canceled. However, France’s travel restrictions have changed a lot since 2020, and it has likely caused some snags for travelers.

A Less Risky Backup Plan

writing in a planner or calendar, making plans

If you’re more flexible on when you can travel, there is another (less risky) way to have a backup. And it also means visiting the destination you really want to see.

Instead of booking multiple flights and hotels in different locations during the same time period, book the trip you really want to go on. And then, book it again on a different date. This way, you’re moving the trip along a calendar rather than being locked into a specific date. If the first trip is canceled, you still have a backup. If the first trip goes according to plan, you can simply cancel the second.

Again, this isn’t an option for everyone. However, it is a good solution for those who aren’t locked into a specific travel period.

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