Leisure travel is starting to make a comeback after a more than year-long hiatus.
“Things are looking up,” said Jill Robinson, vice president of the Morgantown operations for National Travel. “Leisure is starting to pick up again; people are starting to travel.”
Robinson said domestic travel is growing in popularity again as well as travel to surrounding countries, like Mexico. Florida has been a top destination for many of her clients as well as national parks in the western United States.
Beverly Slider, owner of Travel Emporium in Fairmont, has also seen a rise in individuals and families ready to get back on the road.
“I have people on a honeymoon right now, [and] I’m working on a graduation trip for a family that wants to go to Universal Studios and spend some time and then go on to Key West,” Slider said.
International travel is also returning as restrictions continue to loosen. Recently, Slider said, she has helped book a hiking trip to Peru and is working with someone looking to travel to Iceland.
Domestic and international travel is becoming more viable, but Slider said one form of travel that has remained slow is with cruise lines. She said cruises have been canceled throughout the past year, and many are not booking trips until late fall or early 2022.
As of May 5, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends avoiding cruise ship travel as the chance of getting COVID-19 on cruise ships is high. According to the CDC, “the virus appears to spread more easily between people in close quarters aboard ships.”
Looking forward, Robinson said she expects some cruise lines to set sail again in July.
Although leisure travel is returning, Robinson said it is more important now to be wary when booking vacations. Restrictions are still in place and can vary depending on the destination and changes to restrictions can occur frequently.
“I think it’s probably more important right now than ever for people to use the service of an agency,” she said. “There are just so many restrictions out there, and the advantage of using an agency is they’re going to explain all of those to you.”
Along with navigating through restrictions, Slider said finding deals on car rentals has also been a challenge for travelers while booking trips.
“All prices are up, and availability is limited,” she said. “Good deals that people are used to finding are really not out there.”
Whether someone is vaccinated or unvaccinated, there are several tips to staying safe and keeping others safe when traveling. If unvaccinated, the CDC recommends:
Wearing a mask in public. Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth is required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations whether you are vaccinated or not.
Avoiding crowds and staying at least six feet from anyone who is not traveling with you.
Washing hands often or using hand sanitizer (with at least 60%) alcohol.
Things are looking up for the travel industry, but Slider said it has been a tough year.
“The past year has been terrible,” she said. “So many places that people want to go, they weren’t allowed. But places are opening up.”
Robinson also said the travel industry is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and is looking forward to helping people explore new destinations.
“We’re looking for a much brighter next few months,” she said.