OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – With the cold temperatures and COVID-19 now becoming endemic, many Americans are making plans to get out and travel. AAA experts shared with KFOR some tips vacationers should consider before they go.
AAA reported seeing a significant increase in new vacation bookings in January 2022 versus January 2021.
“We are definitely seeing that the pent up demand, the desire certainly to escape from COVID and to escape from the stresses of the past several years are definitely driving an increase in behavior in terms of travel planning and booking,” said Brenda Hunsberger, Senior Vice President, Travel Services, AAA Club Alliance.
According to AAA some travel trends include family travel, domestic road trips, extended vacations and “revenge spending.”
“Two out of three people indicate that they are looking forward to traveling as a family, and this not only includes the traditional family, but multi-generational trips, family reunions, either at resorts or on a cruise,” said Amy Short, Manager, Travel Strategic Partnerships & Online Sales, AAA Club Alliance. “We’re also seeing what we call ‘revenge spending.’ So this is a term that was coined because people are spending more money and taking longer vacations to make up for what they missed out on in the last few years.”
If you’re planning for a road trip, make sure to note any changes with your hotel stay.
“This includes changes to the check in process. Many hotel chains have adopted technology like mobile check-ins that allow guests to bypass the front desk and to use a smartphone to unlock the room door,” said Debra Calvert, Managing Director, Auto Travel and Merchandise, AAA Club Alliance. “There’s also new cleaning processes that are the norm in the hotel industry. In many cases, daily housekeeping services have been discontinued and instead available upon request. Guest room cleaning protocols have also been enhanced at hotels across the country to help with the guest comfort levels, and unnecessary high touch items have been removed from the rooms, and this includes decorative pillows, beds, scarves, notepads and pens.”
Another important aspect travels should note is changes to hotel personnel, including staffing shortage and higher occupancy rates.
“We recommend travelers confirm which amenities and services are available prior to arriving at their hotel and always confirm your hotel’s cancellation and change policies before locking in a reservation. So that way you’re not surprised by unexpected penalties,” said Calvert.
AAA said a popular vacation on many peoples’ minds is taking a cruise. However, the water getaway has experienced some change over the last couple years…
“The cruise lines have really worked closely with the CDC to ensure that their resumption of cruising is done in a responsible way and in line with the CDC guidelines. You probably know that in recent weeks, the CDC has warned travelers against cruising,” said Hunsberger. “However, many, many people are continuing to cruise. Regardless of that, that advice strongly recommends that the people who are considering cruising work directly with a travel advisor so that they can understand what to expect while on board, so that they are sure to have all of the the guidelines and the necessary documentation, and so that they can make sure that they understand what to expect when they get on that ship and decide whether or not they still want to cruise at this point.”
Some of the new guidelines for taking a cruise include being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and in some cases, a booster is required.
But for those traveling by air, along with being patient with the ever-changing flight schedules and cancellations, here’s what else you should know.
“One of the things I always recommend is really to look for flights early in the morning,” said Chip Morgan, Vice President, Leisure Travel, AAA Club Alliance. “Many times things happen throughout the day that could cause delays or potential cancellations. So trying to be a little proactive on the front end booking early morning departures is helpful when you’re looking at your flights… The airlines will pay a full refund if the flight is significantly delayed. Now, of course, significantly delayed can be defined differently. So you must, or I recommend, checking with your carrier and specifically to find out what that means.”
AAA said a good option to consider that could help protect your vacation is to get travel insurance and consult a travel agent for your trip.