WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 2, 2022) – AAA Travel bookings suggest folks have grown weary of COVID, have had enough of the COLD, and are ready and willing to getaway.
In recent weeks, AAA travel advisors have experienced some of their busiest days since last summer, booking travel for Spring Break, summer getaways, and more extravagant trips – including cruises, well into 2023 and even 2024.
“Despite flight cancellations, the omicron variant and potential weather-related disruptions, travel inquiries, and bookings reflect a renewed sense of determination to get going again,” says Brenda Hunsburger, Senior Vice President of Travel for AAA Club Alliance. “Not only are we seeing more people making plans for the future, with winter upon us, but AAA is also hearing from travelers who want to know where they can go right now.”
According to the latest survey by Destination Analysts, almost 80% of American travelers state they have at least one trip already planned for 2022 and nearly 60% say they are making travel spending a priority this year.
“Travel may require additional planning and perhaps additional protections as compared to pre-pandemic, but travelers are willing to take necessary precautions and abide by new procedures for the chance to get away with family and friends,” says Chip Morgan, Vice President of Leisure Travel for AAA Club Alliance. “What we are seeing is an acceptance that this is the ‘new normal.”
This ‘new normal’ includes understanding COVID-related restrictions and requirements, increased consideration of travel insurance, as well as increased use of travel advisors. Travel advisors not only assist in the planning and booking of a vacation but may also provide invaluable support when flights are canceled or other issues arise.
AAA Offers Top Three Tips for Navigating the ‘New Normal’
- Prepare And Plan
Preparation and planning have always been critical to ensuring travel go as smoothly as possible but now there are additional considerations:
- Understand your destination’s COVID-19 restrictions and requirements including if you will need to take a test ahead of leaving and/or returning home. If so, make an appointment for a COVID-19 PCR test at least one month before departure and make sure the date of your results adheres to the timeline set by your destination (i.e. 1 day, 3 days). AAA suggests requesting a QR code from the PCR tester since more destinations require this.
- Have photos of your vaccination card and other important documents (like your passport) on your phone as a backup.
- Budget in accordance with supply and demand. Staffing issues and other pandemic-related challenges have impacted the availability of flights, hotel rooms and rental cars. The ‘new normal’ means travelers should expect to pay more.
- Anticipate the expenses associated with delays and cancellations, including the possibility of having to stay longer than planned.
- Work With A Travel Advisor
Travelers who previously enjoyed booking their own flights, cruises, hotels and rental cars are now placing greater value on the travel advisor so they won’t have to go it alone when a trip doesn’t go as planned. In fact, a recent AAA survey found that the majority of Americans now see the benefit of working with a travel advisor.
- A trusted travel advisor can:
- Help you explore travel options that best meet your needs, your budget and your timeline.
- Save you time and money by handling all research and booking details.
- Ensure travelers understand the complexities of the current travel landscape, and any changes that may arise.
- Advise travelers of the latest COVID-related restrictions or requirements traveling to or returning from their destination
- Advocate on your behalf as needed to cancel or reschedule travel due to situations beyond your control.
- Find alternative flights or accommodations for you in the event of flight changes or cancellations or weather-related disruptions
- Consider Travel Insurance
The ‘new normal’ is reflective of the old adage ‘hope for the best, plan for the worse’ as travelers have come to accept that plans may change for any number of reasons.
- AAA recommends purchasing travel insurance, including flight protection, to cover unexpected delays or trip interruptions.
- Some destinations actually require travelers to carry travel insurance.
- There are a variety of policies to choose from depending on the type of trip, destination and mode of travel. The expertise of a travel advisor can guide you on the best options.
- Insurance may add a little to the trip’s overall cost, but the peace of mind it buys is priceless.
AAA Bookings Indicate Cruise Lovers Are Optimistic
Despite CDC guidelines urging people to avoid cruise travel at this time, AAA bookings indicate that those who love to cruise are optimistic about the future.
“Those who have a passion for cruising are making plans to return to the open waters as soon as possible,” Hunsburger adds. “There is an understanding and acceptance that the ‘new normal’ on cruise lines will include protocols put in place to make it as safe as possible for all passengers and crew.”
Regardless of where they are going and how they plan to get there, AAA continues to encourage all travelers to understand and abide by CDC guidelines.
Travelers can find additional tips and guidance at AAA.com/travel.