Some people beginning to break out of COVID-19 pandemic bubbles are thinking about taking vacations, and travel experts at AAA warn that situations are fluid, so people should plan early and check back often.
“This is not the year of spontaneity. This is the year of planning and being aware and really doing some preparation before you go,” AAA Vice President of Leisure Travel Chip Morgan said.
“There are so many things that are different. Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally — you need to understand the requirements,” he said.
Morgan joined other travel expert colleagues covering multiple topics during a Thursday briefing.
Brenda Hunsberger, AAA senior vice president of Travel Services, explained the updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pertaining to cruise lines.
New rules for when ships can sail include them hosting practice runs with volunteers.
“Trial sailings so to speak. Or, the ability to waive those trial sailings with a vaccine rate of 98% crew and 95% guests,” Hunsberger said.
Cruises with combined passenger and crew numbers fewer than 250 have not been subject to CDC rules and have continued to operate along the Mississippi River, for example. Hunsberger expects larger cruise lines will begin operating out of the U.S. this summer or even sooner; operators in Europe and other locations are already lifting restrictions.
“Cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Viking Ocean and Holland America, have all announced deployments from foreign ports,” Hunsberger said.
Countries open to American visitors include Croatia, Malta, Greece and Iceland. A cruise out of Reykjavik recently sold out within 48 hours.
Hunsberger said the industry has been hearing positive discussions about travel bans potentially being lifted to welcome Americans soon in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Folks interested in staying closer to home need to be aware of the rental car situation.
During the pandemic, agencies sold off many cars, and fleet numbers aren’t bouncing back as quickly as demand is rising.
“The lower availability plus the increase in demand has driven prices really high in the car rental world,” Debra Calvert, the managing director of AAA’s Auto Travel and Travel Product Services, said.
The first part of planning a trip should include booking a car, Calvert recommended. Also, a day or two before traveling, people are urged to call to confirm the reservation.
“That will help ensure that a car is available. Or, look for an alternate form of transportation for your vacation,” Calvert said.
Vacationing families preferring to preserve a bit of their pandemic bubble might consider packing into a recreational vehicle — essentially a mini house on wheels. Calvert said AAA can help them rent an RV, plan the route to their destination and assist with reservations along the way.
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