Travel back in full swing as COVID pandemic subsides, expert says
PHOENIX — Holiday travel for Memorial Day will look a lot different this year than last as COVID-19 cases go down and vaccination numbers go up.
“Travel is back, we are back to 2019 crowd levels,” Kari Mollan, travel advisor with Stellar Travels, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.
AAA Travel forecasts more than 37 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from their home during Memorial Day weekend, an increase of 60% from last year.
With closures and quarantine grinding travel to a halt last year, Mollan says people are itching to get out and experience the world again.
“This year, people are vaccinated, things are opened up, many destinations are opened up almost to 100% so people are antsy and they are ready to go,” she said.
The national trend for this summer seems to be national parks and road trips, Mollan said, making car rentals a huge challenge and very expensive.
Auto travel is expected to increase 52% this year compared to last, according to the AAA forecast, with 34 million Americans hitting the road.
Meanwhile, the forecast predicts nearly 2.5 million Americans will board an airplane, nearly six times the amount of people last year.
Mollan said people will have to get used to being patient again, as she has witnessed airports with lines that are a couple of hours long.
“People have gotten a little bit spoiled and are used to going to the airport at the last minute and having empty flights and it’s not that way at all, it’s busy again,” Mollan said.
Mollan explains the delay is due to COVID protocols and airports still being grossly understaffed as they work on bringing people back to work.
“Good news is people are traveling again and I think everybody has a really positive attitude about it,” Mollan said.
“Have a good time and get out there and see the world.”
She recommends those who want to travel internationally check to make sure the passport is not expiring as passport offices are backed up.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.