January 26, 2021 — Today is "National Plan for a Vacation Day," according to the U.S. Travel Association. The occasion takes on a whole new meaning this year, given the number of Americans anxious to get going again―and the many COVID-19-related guidelines and restrictions that make planning ahead more important than ever.
A new order by the Centers for Disease Control goes into effect today, requiring anyone traveling by air into the U.S. to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous three days.
"With the vaccine rolling out and the cold of winter settling in, AAA travel bookings are starting to ramp up as those who are anxious to get away begin exploring possibilities," says Micki Dudas, managing director, leisure travel sales and group programs, AAA Club Alliance. “There is no doubt that COVID-19-related restrictions will add a layer of complexity to planning, but what we are seeing at AAA Travel is that those who want to make the best travel decisions will make the extra effort to ensure everyone's safety."
National Plan for Vacation Day aims to inspire more Americans to take time off and use those days to travel. With the anticipated easing of COVID-19, there will be greater opportunity to do so in the months ahead.
Surveys by the travel industry―including surveys prior to COVID-19―have consistently revealed that workers across America are not using all their dedicated vacation days, negatively affecting health, relationships and companies. Survey data also found that those who actually plan vacations take more time off, and as a result, are happier and healthier. Americans also indicated they are happier when they take time off to travel.
“Regardless of when and where folks decide to travel, it is critical they plan in advance and they understand the guidelines and restrictions, not just where they are headed but also upon their return,” Dudas adds. "Understanding change and cancellation options is also critical and gives those who are ready to book travel at this time a greater sense of comfort in doing so."
AAA Tips for planning a vacation in the coming months:
- Follow Public Health Guidance. Be sure you are aware of the most current changes to public health recommendations.
- For domestic travel, the CDC recommends taking a COVID-19 test one to three days before travel and another three to five days after travel, plus reducing nonessential activities for seven days after travel.
- For international travel, the CDC requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test three days prior to air travel into the U.S.
- Travelers should be aware of these and other local and state travel restrictions, including testing requirements and quarantine orders, as well as additional CDC guidance for before, during and after their travels.
- Consistent use of face masks combined with social distancing (at least 6 feet) and regular handwashing are the best ways to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19. Be sure to pack face masks, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer and a thermometer to help protect and monitor your health. Also pack water and extra snacks to reduce the need to stop along your trip.
- Work with a travel advisor. Travel guidelines and restrictions vary dramatically, depending upon the destination.
- AAA travel advisors can explain guidelines and restrictions, many of which are changing day to day.
- Ensure Flexibility. Understand change and cancellation options and insurance policies for greatest peace of mind
- Verify Before You Go. Call ahead to minimize any last-minute surprises.
- Hotels: Prior to any hotel stay, call ahead to ensure your hotel is open and ask what precautions they are taking to protect guests. Ask about social distancing protocols like capacity reductions in common spaces, hotel staff requirements to wear masks at all times and if all amenities are available, like restaurant dining.
- Car rentals: 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, gearshift and control panels.