EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Across the country, Americans are ready to get away. New numbers from AAA show online travel bookings for January are up 247% compared to January of 2021, and they've even surpassed pre-pandemic levels- up 20% when compared to January 2019.
Warmer destinations top the list of getaways.
Through April the top five destinations booked through AAA Western and Central New York include:
- Fort Lauderdale and Miami – cruises and South Florida beaches
- Punta Cana
- Montego Bay
As you can see from the top two destinations, many people are opting to stay within the continental United States right now - some are even changing international travel plans to stay within the country.
The Thompson Family from East Aurora did exactly that for their winter getaway this year. The family of five planned to visit an all-inclusive resort on the Carribbean Island nation of St. Lucia - but decided to adjust the trip because of COVID-19.
"We thought - maybe St. Lucia isn't such a good idea given what could happen," explained Jerry Thompson.
Right now when you fly back to the US from another country, the CDC requires you show a negative COVID test. The family decided leaving the country was too much of a risk right now. Instead of going to St. Lucia, they decided to stay within the United States, and booked to Naples, Florida.
"We weren't so much fearful of getting sick, we were fearful of the results if we did. What's the healthcare system like in St. Lucia? What happens if one of us tests positive a day before we return? Am I going to leave my 18-year-old in St. Lucia?" Thompson asked. "We had visions of all five of us quarantining for an extra week before we could come back to the United States - And it costing me ten thousand bucks at an all inclusive resort to sit in a room."
Those are concerns Triple A travel advisers say they're hearing every day.
"There is the chance of testing positive to come home - which does concern a lot of people," explained Matthew Covert, a senior travel adviser with the company.
He says people are more comfortable traveling these days, but they might not be ready to make an international trip yet.
"We are getting a lot of people wanting to travel the U.S. We have 50 beautiful states here. A lot to explore. Hawaii and Walt Disney World are two spots seeing huge travel demand these days," he said.
If you are comfortable traveling internationally, Matthew says make sure you plan ahead, and build in the flexibility you might need.
"Everybody should be prepared, he said. "The possibility is there. We don't ever plan to test positive, but things happen. Making sure that you have the proper
insurance - that's the big thing. As long as you're having the proper travel insurance policy - coverage is there for you for those situations."
Thompson says he had the insurance he needed in place, so the trip changes weren't a big deal for his family.
"Not a problem at all," he said. "We called our travel agent Joann, she took care of everything, gave us some alternatives right away."
The family says this time around - Florida was a perfect, warm getaway
"It was probably one of the best times we've ever had. We're looking forward to the next one."