Thanks to vaccines and the relaxation of mask requirements, people are booking vacations for spring break and beyond, according to AAA Missouri.
“I think people are becoming just a little bit more comfortable with the idea of getting outside their home and traveling,” said Nick Chabarria, an AAA spokesperson in the St. Louis regional headquarters. “AAA travel advisers have seen an increased interest not only for travel in general, but … for the summer, later in the year and into 2022.”
There’s pent-up demand, he said, especially since vacation plans were interrupted last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. “They’re really kind of looking to taking that dream vacation this year.” AAA is seeing interest from its Missouri members “for beaches and Florida and along the Gulf Coast,” he said.
Travel this time last year was done mostly by car, said Chabarria. “People felt a lot more comfortable in their vehicles. You obviously had a lot more control over the environment, who was in there with you, where you were going.” He noted a spike in visits in 2020 to state and national parks and outdoor recreation areas. “We’re still seeing that interest this year as well.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends delaying travel and staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but Chabarria offers suggestions for people who’ve made a personal choice to travel.
“Keep those healthy habits that we’ve developed over the last year,” he said, which includes packing a mask or two, and carrying hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. For families traveling by car, they may wish to pack a picnic lunch.
Although local and state mask mandates are being lifted across the country, individual businesses and attractions may “keep their own requirements in place for the health and safety of their visitors,” Chabarria said. “Folks can expect some of those health requirements to remain in place, at least for the time being.”
Federal mandates require travelers to wear face masks on airplanes, trains, taxis and other modes of public transportation. Chabarria also advised travelers to monitor how vaccine requirements will play a part in travel. “We’ve already seen some cruise lines put out policies that anybody who boards the ship must have a vaccine card and must have proof of vaccine,” he said, adding that airlines are in talks to implement similar measures.
To help travelers “know what to expect and what lies ahead,” Chabarria recommends visiting AAA Triptik, a free online resource that includes a U.S. map outlining city and county COVID restrictions.