Stacey Vincenzentti began planning for a trip to Jamaica in 2019 for 2020. However, the COVID-19 outbreak caused her to move her vacation a year.
“We were there for eight nights, and we planned in 2019 but couldn’t go in 2020 because of COVID. We were able to go in 2021,” Vincenzentti said.
She and her husband were able to spend Masters Week at a resort in Jamaica. She is among the many people starting to travel outside the United States as COVID restrictions are being lifted, people get vaccinated and people feel more comfortable traveling.
Julie Lanham, owner of Vacations to Remember travel agency, said traveling has definitely returned to pre-pandemic numbers. According to U.S. Transportation Security Administration, more than 7.1 million people passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints throughout Memorial Day weekend.
“This time last year, we were working 16-hour days cancelling everything we did in 2019 for 2020 and now we are working 16-hour days booking new stuff. We are thrilled but it is taking five times as long to process booking because there are so many questions, protocols, schedule changes on flights,” she said.
Lanham said their first post-COVID travelers actually began taking trips last July and quite a few people traveled in August and September. She thought things would return back to normal in January, which is usually their busiest month, but people became scared and started to cancel after the CDC announced that a COVID-19 test was required to return to the United States.
“For whatever reason, in the last 30 days, people are like, ‘I don’t care what I got to do, get me out of town’,” she said. “A lot of people are under the impression that if they are vaccinated, they can travel without restrictions. As of this moment, that is not the case.”
Lanham said a lot of destinations are still requiring travelers to take a COVID-19 test before traveling and upon return, regardless of vaccination status. She said people who want to travel this summer already missed their chance.
“If they want to travel soon, I would say, summer has come and gone,” she said. “Availability drives the price of airline tickets and summer airfares are just so crazy high.”
In April, Lanham said they were booking flights to Cancun for around $300 roundtrip, now traveling to Cancun for June and July is anywhere between $700 to $1,500 roundtrip. She encouraged people to instead wait and save their money instead of overspending on a summer trip.
“Right now, there is no such thing as a travel deal, it’s the survival of the fittest, whoever is willing to pay the most gets to travel first,” Lanham said.
Get a travel agent
Vincenzentti encouraged people to use travel agents, like Lanham, if they are planning to take a trip over the next couple of months. Without Lanham, she said, there are a lot of things she and her husband wouldn’t have known about as they were planning their vacation. She is already planning two trips for 2022 and 2023.
Lanham said travelers have been a mix of recently married couples going on their honeymoon and families going on vacation. Most common destinations seem to be Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Angola and places where there are fewer requirements to travel.
She has recently seen an increase in people planning trips to Hawaii and Puerto Rico but pricing is too high for a lot of travelers. Although some countries in Europe have announced that, with proper paperwork, people can travel there, Lanham is avoiding booking trips across the Atlantic.
“We are not booking Europe right now,” she said. “We are not booking any summer or fall Europe trips for this year because even though you can go in certain cases if you follow all of the protocols, it’s not the same experience you would have pre-COVID.”