It has been roughly a year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With warmer weather approaching and vaccines becoming more available, many Americans are looking forward to being able to travel safely again.
Spring break is typically from late March to early April, but this year, plenty of would-be travelers are feeling uncertain about making plans.
Are people still going on spring break? Are they flying to somewhere sunny and warm, staying closer to home or forgoing travel this season? Here’s what we know about spring break 2021, according to recent surveys and after talking to some experts.
Note: Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis, please see official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.
Who’s going on spring break 2021?
Only 12% of Americans are planning to take a trip for spring break, according to a report by Destination Analysts. When you think of spring break, the first demographic that comes to mind is probably college students. This year, however, will likely find more participation from older Americans, largely thanks to their increased access to COVID-19 vaccinations.
As of the start of March 2021, over 75 million vaccines had been administered to Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What’s more, “over one-third of Baby Boomer travelers report they have already received their COVID-19 vaccine,” according to Destination Analysts.
“While younger and millennial generations have been eager to travel for some time, we are seeing an increase in older travelers – recently vaccinated or soon-to-be planning trips – as well as families taking advantage of spring school vacation,” said Chuck Nardozza, managing director of travel sales for AAA Northeast. “There are a lot of multi-generational requests. Families have been visiting through computer screens, and now they want to get out there and travel together. Especially grandparents that have already received their vaccinations – they want to travel with their grandchildren.”
How will people travel?
Contracting COVID-19 is still a concern in the U.S., leading Americans to prefer certain modes of transportation over others.
“We saw the return of the American road trip in 2020, and I am sure that will continue this summer,” said Nardozza. “However, many people that did the close-to-home road trips last year are looking to try something different this year – maybe trading in the car for an RV or going on a rail vacation so they can take in the sights while traveling.”
A recent Harvest Hosts study supports the theory that both RVing and domestic travel will be popular this year. Of the 10,000 polled, 53% said they would travel by RV in 2021 while 81% would not travel internationally.
If you plan to travel by car or RV, tools like AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik can help you check the latest state and local travel restrictions and find which rest stops, gas stations, restaurants and hotels are open along your route.
Where are people going?
“Starting in spring, expect to see more outdoor adventures, national parks and vacation rentals trending, with families and the older generation venturing back out into the world,” Nardozza said. “Wide-open spaces are going to be very popular once again.”
For those looking for warm getaways within the U.S., the most popular domestic destinations will likely be Florida and Hawaii.
“We will see a lot of travel within North America in spring 2021,” said Nardozza. “Travelers are looking to travel close to home in the next year, but after that, big, bucket list trips to the other side of the world are picking up.”
If traveling is part of your plans for 2021, take necessary precautions and do your research. State and local governments may have travel restrictions, including testing and quarantine requirements upon arrival. The CDC recommends wearing a mask (in fact, most modes of transportation in the U.S. now require users to wear a mask), keeping at least 6 feet away from other people and washing your hands often.
Check local and state health departments where you live, along your route and at your destination. Also, prepare to be flexible, as policies may change during your trip.
The CDC recommends taking a viral COVID-19 test one to three days before your trip and keeping a copy of your negative test results with you during your travels.
Make plans to get tested again three to five days after you return. Self-quarantine for seven days after your trip, even if you test negative. If you don’t get tested, the CDC advises staying home and self-quarantining for 10 days.
If you are eligible, consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Federal, state and local governments are in charge of vaccine rollout, and so eligibility varies state-by-state. Contact your local health department for more information or use the COVID vaccine finder to locate vaccination distribution sites near you.
The CDC says to wait two weeks after getting your second dose before traveling so your body can build up protection. Even if you received your vaccination, you should still use caution when out in public. Wear a mask (consider double-masking in populated areas), stay at least 6 feet away from non-household members and avoid crowds.
“If you’re considering travel sometime this year, it’s more important than ever to do your due diligence ahead of any trip to ensure it is safe and enjoyable,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “As vaccines help boost consumer confidence to begin traveling again, we have to remember that wearing masks and social distancing are still a requirement.”
If you choose to travel this year, it’s important to understand the risks and take steps to protect the health of yourself and others.
A AAA Travel advisor can help guide you through planning, offering insight into what to expect along your way to minimize surprises and maximize positive experiences.
To find a travel advisor or more information, visit AAA.com/Travel.
What are your plans for spring break 2021? Tell us in the comments.