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2021 Travel Trends - Summer Vaxications

Summer of Travel Vaxications
After a year of lockdowns due to the pandemic, an increase in relaxed restrictions and vaccinated US citizens is leading to a surge in "vaxications." According to the US Travel Association, more than half of Americans are set to take a trip in the next three months. As more and more get vaccinated, summer travel is feeling more feasible and this means that the time to plan that trip now before popular destinations book up. People have over a year of pent up travel to events, family gatherings and vacations to catch up on. 

In a signal of what high demand is likely to come for the next several months, the TSA said it’s hiring more than 6,000 security officers nationwide before the summer. Somestic travel will likely be robust to popular leisure destinations this summer. I expect hotels, car rentals, airlines and private accomodations to be sold out domestically in all the nation's hotspots.

On the other hand, international destinations and travel will likely be difficult to plan for - countries have different entry and quarantining criteria (some outright banning travelers from the US and other places); they may require proof of insurance, vaccination, negative tests; situations can change seemingly arbitrarily at moments notice and restrictions could be reimposed with additional lockdowns. Furthermore, with testing required in order to return to the US, finding a test becomes a necessity and risky during travel. Universally accepted "vaccine passports" - generally accepted proof of vaccinations - are still very new as a concept so they cannot be relied upon just yet.

An interesting note - passengers whose flights or travel plans were canceled during the pandemic are also sitting on billions of dollars of travel vouchers, many of which expire soon. Airlines want people to use and complete these credits to put these days behind, so this summer presents a perfect opportunity. 

President Biden Signals Optimism
On March 11, President Biden provided optimism on the pandemic directing states to make all adults eligible for vaccination by May 1 with a normal July 4th as the goal. Americans started to make travel plans accordingly - airline ticket prices for summer travel shot up the week after the speech.

The speech was joined by other encouraging events related to travel - Johnson & Johnson's vaccine received emergency approval and stimulus checks started arriving in bank accounts. Because airfare is typically purchased weeks or months in advance, it can indicate how the public is feeling about the pace of recovery. Prices now suggest a travel recovery could be in full effect as early as this summer.

Key Takeaways
-   If you plan to travel this summer, plan and execute all segments / facets of the trip now
-   Be flexible on your plans and read the fine print at the time of booking
-   With high demand to fewer places outstripping supply, expect to pay more during all parts of the journey - cars, planes, accomodations, activities etc. 
-   Exercise great caution traveling - e.g. double masking, social distancing, being vaccinated etc.
-   Do your diligence on the destination and make sure you are comfortable

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