Ready to Travel Again? AAA has Advice on Planning Spring and Summer Trips

Car trips, warm weather destinations most popular for spring break

PORTLAND, Ore., – More than one year since the COVID-19 pandemic upended nearly all travel plans, many Americans are eagerly awaiting their next chance to get out once again and explore. Whether planning a trip for spring break or summer or dreaming of a bucket-list trip later on, AAA advises would-be travelers that things will look very different than the last time many took a vacation.

“Like everything else in our lives, travel has been transformed by COVID-19. If you’re considering travel sometime this year, it’s more important than ever to do your homework ahead of any trip to make sure it’s safe and enjoyable,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

“We’re seeing a pent-up demand for travel and people are eager to venture out again,” says Doreen Loofburrow, vice president of travel at AAA Oregon/Idaho. “As vaccines help make people feel more confident about traveling again, we have to remember that wearing masks and social distancing are still a requirement.”

The CDC continues to urge Americans to delay traveling, warning that doing so increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. For those who make the personal decision to travel, AAA advises travelers to take proper precautions to help keep themselves and others safe while away from home.

AAA has developed an interactive TripTik map with COVID-19 travel information. Just click on the destination you’d like to visit for the latest information. AAA.com/Covidmap.

AAA Covid Map North America
Find the latest COVID-19 travel restrictions and mandates at AAA.com/Covidmap.

AAA Covid Map Oregon

What can I expect when I travel again? 

  • Check in advance on mandates and travel restrictions for each destination you plan to visit. Many states, counties, cities, and countries still have mandates, such as mask wearing, and/or travel restrictions in place. AAA has developed an interactive TripTik map with COVID-19 travel information. Just click on the destination you’d like to visit for the latest information. AAA.com/Covidmap. (Photos above.)
  • Masks – Face coverings are required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations. Outside of these transportation requirements, states—and some establishments—have mandates and/or restrictions on where and when masks must be worn.
  • Travel by car – Road trips continue to be the preferred way for many to travel, but these trips also require additional planning and preparation. Those who make the decision to travel by car can refer to AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map and TripTik.AAA.com for the latest state and local travel restrictions.
    • Plan your stops for food, gasoline, EV charging and lodging along the way.
    • If renting a car, ask what has been done to clean the vehicle. Hertz, for example, has introduced Hertz Gold Standard Clean, an enhanced vehicle disinfectant and sanitization process. For extra peace of mind, use disinfecting wipes to wipe down door handles, steering wheels, shifters and control panels.
  • Book your lodging, camping and rental car in advance. Many providers are limiting the number of guests and/or allowing more time between guests, so availabilities will likely be reduced.
  • Hotels, campgrounds and other lodging – Prior to any stay, ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests. Ask about social distancing protocols such as capacity reductions, staff requirements to wear masks at all times, and if all amenities are available, such as restaurant dining, pools and fitness facilities.
  • Air travel – AAA cautions air travelers that in-flight amenities, including food and beverage services, may be limited or unavailable. Some airlines continue to limit flight capacities or block middle seats to allow for social distancing. Due to COVID-19, TSA is allowing one oversized liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags, rather than limiting those to 3.4 ounces. Masks are also required at airports and on planes.
  • International Air Travel – All air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID‑19 before they board a flight to the United States. Travelers who don’t provide this to their airline will be denied boarding. There are no test requirements for domestic travel at this time.
  • Cruise – Even with the CDC’s no-sail order lifted, many cruise lines have voluntarily extended their suspension of sailing operations further into 2021. Anyone considering a future cruise vacation should talk to the cruise line or a travel agent about the ship’s cancelation policy and to understand what you can expect on a cruise when they start sailing again.
  • Museums, parks, attractions, etc. – Consider purchasing tickets in advance. Many still have reduced operating hours and limit the number of visitors at a time. Many also require face masks.
  • COVID-19 Vaccines – If you are eligible, consider getting vaccinated for COVID-19. The CDC says to wait two weeks after getting your second dose to travel for your body to build protection after vaccination. Even if you’ve been vaccinated, continue to follow all official travel requirements and guidelines.
  • Testing – The CDC recommends taking a viral COVID-19 test 1 to 3 days before your trip. Do not travel if you test positive. Keep a copy of your negative test results with you during your trip and make plans to get tested again with a viral test 3 to 5 days after you return. Self-quarantine for a full seven days after trip, even if your test is negative. If you don’t get tested, the CDC advises staying home and self-quarantining for 10 days.

Travel agents are more important than ever during a pandemic.

 Travel professionals serve as your advocate before, during and after a trip. Yes, everyone can book their own trip online. But how do you know if the destination is really as nice as shown on the website? Travel agents can help you get the best trip for your budget and be your advocate before and during your trip.

Travel pros can answer questions related to:

  • travel insurance options,
  • what destinations and attractions are open both domestically and internationally,
  • destination-specific testing and quarantine requirements,
  • what to do if you need to make last-minute changes to a trip, and much more.

“We recommend anyone considering making a trip seek the expertise of a trusted travel agent. They are an invaluable resource for travelers navigating evolving travel and public health guidelines,” adds Loofburrow. “Travel pros can also help you get the most bang for your travel dollars and be there to assist you every step of the way, especially if plans change unexpectedly.”

Spring Break Travel

The great American road trip is the most popular way to travel for spring break, but we’re also seeing people return to air travel, especially to warm weather destinations such as Palm Springs, Phoenix, Hawaii and Mexico.  Here are the top bookings and searches at AAA.com by members of AAA Oregon/Idaho over the past 60 days:

  1. Las Vegas, NV
  2. Lincoln City, OR
  3. Glacier National Park, MT
  4. Palm Springs, CA
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Zion National Park, Utah
  7. Phoenix, AZ
  8. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
  9. Kahului, Maui
  10. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

National parks, state parks and locations that provide outdoor recreation and an escape from crowds are also of great interest. Crater Lake, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks are very popular destinations during the late spring and summer, but can still be impacted by winter weather this time of year.

Booking Future Travel

Even if you’re not ready to travel in the next few months, now is a great time to book future travel. Prices on airfare and lodging are still lower than they were before the pandemic, and many travel providers have waived or relaxed change and cancellation policies, making it easier for you to change your plans. “However, be sure and read all the fine print and know what you can and cannot cancel. For example, some providers won’t give you a refund but will give you credit for a future trip,” says Loofburrow. “A travel pro can help you with this.”

AAA offers essential information and resources. Check these out:

  • AAA Road Trips – find the perfect road trip in Oregon, the Pacific Northwest, or any other part of North America along with travel tips and expert advice, and AAA Diamond properties along the way.
  • AAA Travel Guides – find expert insight about where to go, how to get around, what to do and see, and what not to miss. These vacation planners offer suggested itineraries and more to help you best know how to plan a trip without missing anything along the way.
  • For more information and to get started planning a future trip, visit AAA.com/Travel.
  • Visit AAA.com/covidmap for an interactive map with the latest travel restrictions and policies for North America. Find AAA’s latest COVID-19 information for travelers here.

Drivers can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

AAA news releases, high resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

 Find local news releases at https://oregon.aaa.com/community/media/media-contacts.html

Fuel prices are updated daily at AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge at AAA Gas Prices. For more info go www.AAA.com.  AAA Oregon/Idaho provides more than 840,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services, and is an affiliate of AAA National, serving more than 61 million members in North America.