CLEVELAND — With more than half of Ohio's 12 million people fully vaccinated against COVID-19, experts plan to see quite a few more people traveling this holiday season.
AAA expects to see travel within five percent of pre-pandemic levels.
It comes at a time where airlines and other travel continues to recover and deal with ongoing staffing shortages as well as delays and cancellations.
Off the coast of the Bahamas aboard the Celebrity Apex ship, Jim Garrity with AAA East Central explains there is a rise in travel bookings, especially coming from cruises.
“These cruise ships are going to fill up, as the longtime cruisers come back and especially as the ships begin offering wider itineraries and more capacity on their ships,” he explained. “More people are thinking about traveling and thinking about cruising.”
More than a year after COVID-19 spread throughout her South American cruise, Hudson resident Lynn Remly sees the seas a little differently nowadays.
She went on one cruise this past June, and is planning for another this upcoming April.
“I have trouble thinking about not traveling again,” she said. “That would be very difficult for me again.”
It's a trend cruise lines are reporting in their latest stock filings as more ships return to the ports, including Royal Caribbean seeing 60% more bookings for 2022 compared to the monthly average during Spring/Summer of 2021.
Art Nittskoff with Gamble America Travel has made a career dealing with traveling logistics for the past nearly 40 years and he sees firsthand the crowds that are coming and will fill up airports.
“We’re sending a lot of people back to the same places for this Christmas that they were supposed to go last Christmas,” he said. “We’re back to levels higher than two years ago and I think it's because there's a lot of pent up demand.”
The biggest difference between now and pre-pandemic, experts say, is how you should prepare for your trip first and foremost when you book.
“We always sold insurance to probably 70% of people with an expensive trip, but since COVID-19, we’re selling it to 100% of the people,” Nittskoff added.
On top of that, it means keeping up with increased COVID-19 protocols.
“To get on this ship, I had to prove I was vaccinated but also I had to provide a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of boarding on the ship,” Garrity said.
In general, Wednesday and Sunday afternoons both before and after the holiday tend to be the most congested times to travel on the roads.
As air travel continues to soar this year, AAA finds that the average lowest airfare is 27.3% less than last year coming in at $132. Tuesday and Wednesday are still the most expensive and heaviest travel days with Monday being the lightest and least expensive.