Weary travelers became even less motivated to jump on a plane during the ongoing pandemic when airlines ended their COVID-19 policies of blocking middle seats, and stories of packed planes are seemingly the norm again. Combined with deals (more on that below), rising vaccine numbers and increased concern and focus on the ways travelers can immediately reduce their carbon emissions, our crystal ball tells us train travel will be full steam ahead this summer.
Regardless of your vaccine status at that time, Amtrak's trains are already equipped with onboard filtration systems with a fresh air exchange rate every four to five minutes, a rep tells us, and right now, prospective passengers can also see the percentage of seats sold on their trains at the time of booking, allowing you to book less-crowded trains, or even swap out your ticket without incurring a fee.
7. Procrastination has left the station
Current booking windows give us an interesting view into where travelers’ heads are at today when it comes to travel. According to Expedia, in 2020, booking windows shortened significantly as people were making more last-minute decisions or were only traveling out of sheer necessity. Now, they’re seeing booking windows lengthening again, nearing 2019’s levels. What this means is people are already making their summer travel plans, so if you procrastinate because you think “no one is really traveling right now,” you may risk missing out or end up paying more in popular, competitive destinations, or for those dream hotels or coveted direct flights you’ve bookmarked.
“What we know: Travel players spend a lot of time optimizing demand and supply by actively managing their pricing and, given the returning demand levels for both leisure and business travel, we expect them to try to maximize their profits from this returning demand,” Jason Guggenheim, Boston Consulting Group’s Global Head of Travel, tells us. “We do believe that, as business travel slowly returns over the summer and fall, airlines and hotels will see a shift to demand around their premium offerings, and this should impact their yield realization.” Translation: Yup, you guessed it—again, book ahead especially for premium seats or experiences, or you may risk paying hair-scratching rates for travel.
8. We’re traveling closer to home
As travelers return to the scene, get ready to see a lot of location-tagging on your ‘gram in Las Vegas, Orlando, Key West and Honolulu—naturally—as well as warm-weather destinations like Myrtle Beach, S.C., Destin, .F..L, Panama City Beach, F.L. and seasonal favorites like the Outer Banks, Cape Cod and the Jersey Shore.
Right now, search data from Expedia analyzed from March 1 to April 27, 2021 for destinations from June 1 to August 31, 2021, reveals short-haul international travelers are all about Mexico—which makes sense, when you consider it’s familiarity for most Americans and its closer-to-home location for a quick, post-vaccine trip. No surprise here, Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Los Cabos have all seen surges in searches on Expedia, likely due in part to the competitive nature of those markets and all the available deals for summer travel.
Another spot visitors are currently charmed by: Costa Rica. When examining the top ten most popular destinations for summertime travel, Costa Rica ranks sixth and is up 13 spots from 2019, KAYAK’s searches reveal. When compared to last month, search interest is up 24 percent for this Central American destination, with flight prices averaging about $407—not too shabby for a plane ride anywhere outside of the country.
Opening up to travelers earlier than many other destinations, Costa Rica is also popular for value and its ease of travel. In fact, many of the resorts quickly pivoted to offer on-site COVID-19 testing options for guests when, earlier this year, the U.S. announced it would require said tests for re-entry. Aside from giving travelers a sense of security in knowing they could return home with ease, Costa Rica’s government also requires travelers to purchase relatively inexpensive travel insurance that covers the cost of an extended stay should you test positive for the virus and subsequently need to quarantine.