News: The Travel Season Is Here, But Things Have Changed
Travel is different in the COVID era, and here’s how it could impact your travel plans and budget.
Contributing Writer at Tally
April 8, 2022
Spring has officially arrived, marking the start of the travel season. With restrictions beginning to ease worldwide, many people are ready to satiate their appetite for travel. However, before planning that big vacation — domestic or international — you’ll need to consider how travel has changed in the COVID-19 era.
Here are some of the more common procedures and new expenses to consider before planning that trip.
Travel prices are on the rise
As COVID restrictions ease and spring break travel increases, so do prices, according to the Los Angeles Times. Vacasa told the LA Times that 40% of Americans plan to travel this spring, up from 29% last year. Vrbo also noted that demand for its vacation rental homes is up 50% this year compared to 2021.
Travel site Hopper notes domestic airfare during spring break is up 21% from last year, and hotels are up 30%.
Road-trip lovers are also feeling the pinch as gasoline prices continue to surge. According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $4.176. That’s a $1.316 increase since this time last year.
Pilot shortages have been an ongoing issue since post-9/11 requirements that sent the cost of getting the training needed to be a commercial pilot over the $100,000 mark.
The pandemic worsened matters, as slumping travel pushed airlines to offer early retirements. With travel demand surging, airlines have canceled routes — sometimes at the last minute — because there are no available pilots.
This can lead to frustrating delays and changes in travel plans. It’s best to prepare for this and have flexibility. You may also want to keep some wiggle room in your budget to cover short hotel stays for longer delays. Read your ticket carefully, as many airlines will cover accommodation costs for extended delays.
How COVID-19 rules will impact your travel
While countries are opening their borders to travelers, rules remain in place to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. There have also been changes in the travel industry as a whole. Here are some common rules and changes you may encounter when traveling internationally.
The U.S. Department of State issues travel advisories for every country. Generally, advisories are due to increased crime, violence or terrorism, but COVID-19 has changed that. Numerous countries that normally had no warnings now have the highest warning of “Level 4: Do Not Travel” due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
You can check the country you’re planning to vacation in on the State Department’s travel advisory site.
These warnings don’t prevent you from traveling, but they let you know the risk level of traveling there and what precautions to take if you decide to visit.
COVID has shaken up the process at many hotels due to staff shortages and to prevent the spread of the virus. Many have eliminated daily housekeeping and only do so upon request. Also, some have eliminated or scaled down their free breakfast offerings.
COVID-19 vaccine or quarantine
Many countries now admit vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, but each has differing rules. Fully vaccinated individuals generally have little to no quarantine requirements.
For example, Colombia admits most fully vaccinated travelers without quarantine. However, Thailand requires an RT-PCR test upon arrival and a one-night stay at an approved hotel as you await the results. Thailand also requires a self-administered rapid antigen test on the fifth day after your arrival.
Unvaccinated individuals, however, often face long quarantines and additional COVID-19 testing. For example, Thailand will accept unvaccinated individuals. But you must quarantine for five nights — this was reduced from 10 days on April 1, 2022 — at an approved hotel in Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Pattaya, Phuket or Samui.
Between the in-country testing and quarantine requirements, be prepared to spend at least a few hundred dollars upon arrival.
Returning to the U.S.
When returning to the U.S., you must take a COVID-19 test and have a negative result no more than 24 hours before your departure. This can be either a PCR or antigen test. You’re exempt from testing if you’ve recovered from COVID-19 within the last 90 days and have documentation certifying this.
This is also at your expense and is typically inexpensive. However, it can cost several hundred dollars in some areas.
Travel is open, but things are changing
Traveling has returned, but you now need to consider new expenses when calculating your vacation budget and plan for some potential delays along the way. Be sure to check the restrictions and regulations for the country or state you plan to visit ahead of time.