The summer travel season, which traditionally kicks off with Memorial Day weekend, is only a few weeks away. And it will be the first time since coronavirus lockdowns that many Americans will consider taking a vacation. But many are wondering what they should expect.
“People will think things are back to normal,” predicts Elizabeth Squillante, a travel advisor from New Canaan, Connecticut. “I don’t believe they will be.”
The summer of 2021 will be unlike any other. On the one hand, you have travelers waiting for more security before they book their vacations. On the other hand, you have short supplies of vacation rentals, rental cars and maybe other travel products.
And though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can resume travel at low risk to themselves, the agency is still not recommending travel given rising COVID case counts.
There’s still so much uncertainty, and it’s creating new obstacles – and opportunities — for travelers.
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What’s going to happen this summer?
Problem one: It’s impossible to predict the future. “That’s going to be a major challenge for travelers,” predicts Daniel Guttentag, director of the College of Charleston’s office of tourism analysis. “Given the continued uncertainty for many people about when they will be able to get vaccinated and what the infection rates will look like when summer rolls around, many tourists will undoubtedly remain drawn toward flexible cancellation policies.”
Where should I take a vacation?
No one knows for sure which countries will be open for international travel, says Robert Goldstein, a travel advisor with Ovation Travel Group. “I think the biggest issue is going to be where to go.” At the same time, Goldstein has been hearing from travelers who have received their second dose of vaccine and are ready to plan. Travel advisors are keeping a running list of countries that are allowing visitors. But Goldstein cautions that they could change at a moment’s notice.
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Higher resort hotel prices
American travelers have enjoyed discounted hotel prices for the better part of last year. They’re also used to stretching their dollar by taking a vacation in Mexico or the Caribbean. But with foreign travel restrictions, those same travelers will look to domestic destinations, hoping to make their vacation budgets last, according to Heather Keller, a travel advisor with Perfect Landing Travel. “Availability is already limited, and pricing is at a premium, especially for any resort or hotel that naturally lends itself to easy social distancing,” she says. The fix? Reserve early and set realistic expectations. U.S. hotels will be pricey this summer.