Travel is back, and it looks a lot like local real estate: it costs more, there’s less availability, and there are lots of people bidding against you.
If you haven’t already planned this summer’s travel, you’re going to be challenged, say local travel experts.
The demand is exploding, says Debbie Pham, luxury travel specialist at Live Travel in Pasadena.
“From the business perspective,” Pham told Pasadena Now this week, “the demand is coming in more and coming faster, with more people wanting it now. They’re panicking, with everything being sold out and because they’re traveling at the last minute — waiting for the official country openings, or waiting for the level of COVID advisories to go down.”
But how does one make the decision on where to go? Domestic? International?
“It would have to depend on, one, whether or not they’re vaccinated,” said Pham. “Two, on their personal level of comfort, and, three, whether they’re willing to go now, or wait it out. Those first two will influence the international or domestic destination.”
International travel won’t be a viable option if you are not vaccinated, Pham notes. Vaccinate or stay home, she said.
“Travelers can best prepare by being fully vaccinated and having a vaccination card. Two, be realistic with your level of comfort. Three, plan ahead of where you want to go.”
Pham stresses that the keyword these days is “flexibility.” Travel demand has skyrocketed, she says, and the world is adjusting to it as fast as it possibly can.
“But,” she explains, “A lot of the time airports, hotels, and restaurants are still not having enough flexibility and patience to realize that things are still not the best and things will sell out very fast.”
She suggests you might get better value for your money (and a better experience) if you use your travel budget on a plan for next year and forgo a major trip right now.
“That flexibility would help with your planning and help with your travel. Be patient and have a backup plan,” she said.
According to Pham, half of her bookings are for this year and half are for the next year. Half of her clients are ready to go wherever they are accepted. The other half of her clients “want to see how things pan out.” Those clients are booking for next year.
What destinations are tops?
“It’s Greece, and then Italy, and for domestic, it’s Vegas — and the Caribbean and Mexico. The top domestic destination is Vegas, and Alaska is coming in, as the cruise lines are coming back.”
Otherwise, says Pham, a lot of“domestic” more likely means a road trip.
But Frank Fish, president of Travel Gallery in Pasadena, has a completely different take on the current travel scene. Based on what he is seeing, people just want to go — somewhere, anywhere.
“People are all over the map,” Fish said this week.
There are no destination trends he can see, Fish said.
“We have no consistency,” he explained. “Some people are going to see family and friends. Some people are driving, some people are flying, other people are going someplace that they really wouldn’t care to go necessarily, but they want to go someplace.”
Pasadena travel specialist Annie Perez at Cruise Planners emphasizes that right now, it’s all about the timing.
“It’s tough right now because six months ago was the time to book for this summer. Stuff is booked out and hard to get for the summer. Every national park everywhere is booked for most travel until next year.”
Perez said that much of the travel she is booking these days is for two and three years out.
“But flights are [almost] impossible,” said Perez. “Car rentals are even more impossible. So I recommend places you can get, [such as] a home, or else stay somewhere where you can drive.”
If you really want to travel to Europe, though, you might be confronted at some point with the concept of vaccine passports.
According to one EU website, The European Union has made available its COVID-19 passport for all EU citizens and residents, as well as for specific categories of travellers from third countries, since July 1.
The procedures for the launch of the certificate have been completed on the side of the EU Commission since the beginning of June, and some Member states have begun implementing it.
SchengenVisaInfo.com announced on June 1 that seven EU countries had already started to issue EU COVID-19 passports – Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland. On June 4, Iceland also started to implement the pilot system for the issuance of COVID certificates.
According to CNN, only EU citizens and their families, and legal residents, are eligible so far. President Biden has said more than once that he doesnt anticipate a Vaccine passport for Americans in the foreseeable future.
Biden would also leave passport vaccines to the private sector, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki back in May, adding that it should also be private and secure. Psaki told CBS News that the Biden administration is “mostly focused on creating guidelines that can be used as a basis for private sector endeavors.”
However, an EU spokesperson told CNN that the bloc expects to open the vaccine passport plan up to non-citizens — including Americans. Access will depend on individual countries providing certificates for their visitors.
The EU has also said that it is “working to make sure that the certificates can be compatible with systems in other countries,” for holders traveling outside the bloc.