As communities across the United States (and countries worldwide) loosen coronavirus restrictions, travel advisors are saying it’s looking increasingly like travel this spring break season is going to be bigger than ever.
“The desire for fun, action-filled adventures or simply to escape and spend time with family and friends in a new location—after many months and in some cases years of planning and postponing travel—is pushing the demand to historic levels,” said travel advisor Kate Doty, adding that this is coming at a time when many previously scheduled trips from 2020 and 2021 are finally being taken. According to a study by Vacasa, a vacation rental management company, 37 percent of Americans are planning to travel during spring break, an increase from the 29 percent who did in 2021.
Although there’s high demand for travel, industry insiders like Doty say there are still opportunities to get away—it just may take flexibility and a willingness to spend more than you would have in years past. Especially if you don’t act fast.
Book your flights now
Analysis from Hopper, the travel booking app, found that domestic airfare for spring break is still down 6 percent from 2019. But, those prices aren’t expected to last for long—Hopper predicts that airfare will rise 45 percent between now and the weeks before spring break (loosely defined as mid-February through the end of March).
Similarly, prices for international flights are currently averaging about $610 round-trip, but that figure will rise to roughly $800 the week before departure. Already hotels and rental cars are more expensive, said travel advisor Will Kiburz—in some places as much as 300 percent more.
Opt for alternative destinations that are still warm-ish
Predictably, the most popular destinations are those with high temperatures and beach access. Expedia found that the most popular destinations for spring break 2022 include Las Vegas, Orlando, New York City, Orange County, and Cancun. That largely jives with Hopper’s data, which listed Miami, Las Vegas, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Los Angeles as the most booked flights domestically and San Juan, Cancun, Mexico City, Cabo, and Paris for international travel.
With that in mind, travel advisor Martha Rhodes recommends seeking a location with mild weather and more open spaces than open water.
“Top spots that fit this category are in the Southwest—Scottsdale, Sante Fe, and Sedona, for instance,” Rhodes said. “Families can still find multi-bedroom lodging options, easy flights to major airports, and warmish weather for hiking, biking, and relaxing in a poolside lounge chair.”
Consider shoulder-season destinations or countries that just reopened borders
Shelley Rapp, another travel advisor, echoed Rhodes, saying that if you’re willing to forgo sun and sand, many European cities, like Rome and Barcelona, are less crowded in the spring. Although a second option, she said, is considering destinations that have only recently started welcoming visitors again—places like Australia, Argentina, Chile, and Vietnam.
“Many travelers booked locations in advance that they believed would be open for their trips, which has left newly opened destinations with more availability,” Rapp explained.
When in doubt, consider hiring a professional
Having a travel advisor, whose job it is to know where there’s availability (and who can guide travelers through coronavirus protocols and testing), can take the stress out of planning.
“There are so many ways to make the most of your last-minute spring trip, COVID restrictions and all,” Rapp said.
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