One year after the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic which devastated the international travel industry, signs of a comeback are afoot. The arrival of vaccines, waning coronavirus cases, and easing of travel restrictions have more Americans looking to scratch that international travel itch. "January and February have been some of our record months (for bookings), because people are tired of being quarantined," says Shayla Northcutt, owner of Houston-based Northcutt Travel Agency. "They're tired of being at home, they want to go and see and do."
Indeed, a recent survey found 58% of Americans plan to travel this year, with a good portion of them looking to international destinations. Northcutt says they're already seeing a surge in advanced bookings. "We are booking for the summertime mainly right now, but even as far out as December," she tells KTRH. "So people are putting down that deposit with us, and making sure to buy the insurance just in case things change."
That insurance just in case is a good idea, with various pandemic protocols in place for different countries and destinations. There has even been speculation that some countries could eventually require a COVID passport before traveling. That hasn't happened yet, but it's a good reason Northcutt recommends checking with a travel agent before booking anything. "Policies change every day, and it is our full-time job to stay on top of everything," she says. "So using a travel agent is the way to go."
Northcutt's other big recommendation is acting fast, since prices and demand will only go up this summer. "My best piece of advice is jump on it now, and plan that trip for the summertime," she says. "Because the last-minute availability might not be there when it comes time."