The return to travel continues gaining momentum across the United States and around the world.
“Interest and enthusiasm for travel has gone through the roof,” said Debbie Haas, Vice President of Travel for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “The pent-up demand is being released and our AAA Travel Advisors have been inundated with calls from people who want to take a trip this year.
“With this big wave of travel enthusiasm, cruises and flights are filling up fast,” Haas continued. “The great news is new travel options are being announced daily. People who work with a travel agent have advantages over other travelers. Travel agents are often the first to know about new itineraries, often have negotiated added traveler benefits, and can help ensure travelers are informed about pandemic-related restrictions and requirements.”
AIR TRAVEL RETURNING TO NORMAL LEVELS – The Transportation Security Administration says the Friday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend were the busiest days for US air travel since March 2020.
- AAA Advice: There are still great airfares for people who can book before the pent-up demand is fully unleashed. On average, airfares during the Memorial Day weekend were 14% more than the year before. As more vaccinated Americans return to travel, airlines will continue adding flights, which will broaden availability and potentially reduce airfares.
MORE EUROPEAN COUNTRIES REOPEN FOR TRAVEL AND CRUISING – Countries like France, Portugal and Spain have announced plans to reopen their borders to vaccinated travelers. This also enables river cruising to resume at destinations like these. Sailings are scheduled to depart as early as July.
- AAA Advice: River cruise sailings are booking up quickly due to strong demand and limited supply. In the short term, river cruise lines plan to sail at reduced capacity. That means increased competition for travelers to find the trip they want. New sailings are being announced in phases and oftentimes travel agents are the first to know.
CRUISING OUT OF US PORTS TO RESUME IN JUNE – Travelers are now also able to book ocean cruises from many major US ports, with sailings expected to resume as early as this month.
The CDC is allowing cruise lines to resume sailing if they meet one of the two criteria:
- A cruise line conducts test cruises that successfully demonstrate the effectiveness of the ship’s COVID-19 safety protocols.
- Require 98% of the crew and 95% of passengers to provide proof of vaccination.
- The remaining 5% of capacity would be reserved for children under the age of 12, who are currently not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Cruises are booking rapidly,” Haas continued. “Prices are higher this year, due to reduced inventory and strong demand. However, after waiting through a long pandemic, travelers seem to care most about having a confirmed trip on the horizon.”
- Cruise lines are expected to announce more sailings in phases.
- Ship capacity will likely be reduced at first, but will also gradually increase.
- Most ships will require passengers to be vaccinated, if eligible (based on age).
- How passengers will be required to prove their vaccination status is still being reviewed in states like Florida.
“The current travel landscape is exciting, but can be very confusing, even for a frequent traveler,” Haas said. “Vaccine requirements can vary depending on the destination and type of trip you take. In such an evolving environment, the value of a travel advisor cannot be overstated. They have the inside track to helping you find the right trip for you. Plus, they’ll help you be informed, prepared, and even protected with travel insurance so you can relax and enjoy your vacation.”
IMPORTANCE OF TRAVEL INSURANCE
Whatever your plans, AAA encourages you to consider travel insurance. There are various coverage options to protect your health and financial investments from unexpected circumstances before and during your trip. If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s that you have to be prepared for the unexpected.