By Alicia Doyle
Sunday Signal Staff Writer
While the pandemic continues to cause a range of challenges, planning a vacation in 2022 shouldn’t be one of them, even if it means booking in advance to ensure your desired price range and dates are available this year and beyond.
“People think they can’t travel and that’s just not the case – travel has always been open and will always be open,” said Tiffany Grummer, owner of Travel with Tiffany in Santa Clarita.
However, “be smart about it,” Grummer advised. “Read up on what that country’s guidelines are and read the information e-mails that your travel agent and airlines send you. Be patient – with guidelines changing all the time, there could be longer wait times.”
The constant changes in COVID-19 guidelines have created a lot of problems for the travel industry, and the uncertainty has caused a lot of people to choose domestic travel, said Shayna Anderson of the Anderson Girls’ Adventures Travel Agency in Santa Clarita.
Anderson conducted a survey in November to find out what people are doing in 2022. Out of 28 people who responded, 60% already had vacation plans for 2022 and 10% said they have plans for 2023; only 10% were waiting for restrictions to lift and an additional 18% said they couldn’t afford to travel. Of the 60% who planned to travel in 2022, 43% are traveling international, 32% said they didn’t have a problem booking international, and 3% said Hawaii and Mexico because of fewer restrictions.
“Out of all 28 people, 50% are fully vaccinated and plan to travel; nearly 18% said they are traveling domestically to avoid travel restrictions; only 14% are not vaccinated and hoping to wait things out; and only 7% were hesitant to travel due to uncertainty of how to do so,” Anderson said. Additionally, “40% said they would book a cruise, only 3% said they would wait for COVID restrictions to go away, and 30% said it just doesn’t appeal to them.”
As we head into 2022, “uncertainty has halted a lot of travelers,” Anderson said.
This uncertainty has put a big damper on travel, especially for international travel – uncertainty as to whether countries would be open, whether vaccination is required or simply testing, and how much testing, Anderson said.
“Travelers are concerned about the testing requirements to get into countries, as well as how to get home if they test positive while international,” said Anderson, adding that the constant changes in COVID guidelines have created a lot of problems for the travel industry, and the uncertainty has caused a lot of people to choose domestic travel.
The uncertainty has also caused people to plan last minute, instead of booking in advance, Anderson noted. “However, canceled trips are rescheduled into late 2022, 2023 and even 2024,” she said, adding that advance booking is recommended to ensure your desired price range and dates available.
Typically, January through March is “Wave Season” for the travel industry – the busy season when everyone books for the year.
“However, it’s been very quiet with not many bookings,” Anderson noted. “Travelers are hesitant to wade through the restrictions. Now more than ever, people need a travel advisor to navigate the guidelines for each destination.”
Local travel agents who can assist include Newhall-Valencia Travel in Newhall, which specializes in trips including family vacations, culinary adventures, cruises and European vacations. The AAA Santa Clarita branch offers a wide range of services, including booking hotels and car rentals, providing free maps and tour books for members, and offering information about popular things to see and do at destinations.
If you’re planning a vacation this year, “be flexible and use a travel advisor,” re-emphasized Anderson, adding that a travel advisor “is not someone who just books a trip for you.”
“A travel advisor is going to have more knowledge of what is happening in travel right now,” explained Anderson, adding that COVID guidelines are constantly changing and can be very confusing.
“For instance, Hawaii has changed their COVID guidelines every three months,” Anderson said. “Additionally, a lot of companies are offering great values – not discounts – which means that you may end up getting more for your money. Let a travel advisor do the research for you, so you can enjoy your vacation more.”
Above all, “have fun – don’t stress,” Grummer emphasized. For those thinking about travelling internationally, she added that “Americans support so many other countries… when we don’t travel, people in other countries don’t eat. Support them, go on vacation, support tourism, they need you.”
Don’t let the uncertainty keep you from traveling, Anderson said.
“This world is an amazing place with incredible locations to explore,” Anderson added. “This year is the best time to travel, especially as international travel will see fewer crowds. This means you can explore more with the time you have. Everyone is looking forward to the day when the restrictions are lifted. When that happens, we will see a huge increase in travel, as we saw in spring of 2021 with all its challenges. Go now, and enjoy the exploration of the destination so much more.”