Florida has opened for business, with visitors from some states needing to quarantine. Iceland will soon welcome international travelers—also with restrictions. Many Caribbean islands are reopening. Large parts of California are back in business, with hotels, restaurants, and wineries cautiously inviting socially distanced guests back. TSA screening numbers are climbing, from a low of around 80,000 per day to 440,000 plus. Travel is tentatively starting up again.
And, according to a recent survey of 1,126 AFAR readers (most in North America), our own travel community is raring to get back out there, with a few caveats.
Eighty percent of you told us you plan to travel domestically in the next 12 months, hoping to safely and responsibly explore the United States, while nearly half of survey respondents intend to travel internationally in the same period. The most important requirement for you to get those bags out of the closet and go? Flexible travel policies. Eighty-four percent of you said flexible booking is more important now than before COVID-19 (though cheap deals aren’t top of mind), and 65 percent are waiting to book closer to the travel date than before.
The industry has taken note of this sentiment. Airlines have extended their flight change flexibility policies, with bookings made until the end of June subject to no change fees on most major operators. Hotels, too, have been similarly forgiving; many major chains are waiving cancellation fees. Here’s more on how to make a flexible travel booking in uncertain times.
You’re also much more likely to get out there soon than the average American. Just 15 percent of you are waiting until 2021 to travel again, compared to 33 percent of the general population (according to a May 25 Destination Analysts poll). And 80 percent of you plan to take a domestic trip in the next 12 months, versus just 36 percent overall (according to a May 18 report from marketing agency MMGY).
Where are you thinking of heading? Florida and California top the U.S. destination list, while France remains the favorite abroad, followed by the United Kingdom (perhaps once it drops the controversial 14-day quarantine) and Italy. And readers are, like much of the country, increasingly interested in RV vacations. Many of you also told us you’re looking more seriously into river cruises, too.
Many of you told us you were “cautiously optimistic” about travel in the near future, but several admitted feeling “scared,” “frustrated,” and “wary.” Air travel in particular is of concern (18 percent fewer of you expect to take flights in the next 12 months compared to the past 12).
And, of course, as we ask ourselves can we travel now, we need to decide should we travel? One reader in particular summed up how many of us feel: “Can’t wait to be comfortable with traveling again. It’s in my blood.”