Spring Break

How to travel during a pandemic
By Alison Rentschler

You may have visions of sunny ocean beaches or flights far away for your family during spring break 2021. Many people would like to escape Minnesota after a cold winter and sit on a beach with a book and a drink. But can you travel during the COVID-19 pandemic? And, if so, how can you travel safely? 

If you choose to travel during spring break 2021, research your options. Consider whether your destination can be reached by road trip or if flying makes more sense. Think about if you may want to travel closer to home this year.

You might ask for advice from a travel professional. Sandy Haddick, owner and travel and vacation specialist at Dreams are Forever Travel in Rochester has helped people book travel for several years. She explains, “Planning early is key. People have to realize the world has changed.” She suggests making reservations as early as possible.

When buying tickets or tours, Haddick suggests, “Read the fine print. Travel agents are more important now than ever. Make sure all tickets are refundable or changeable. The travel industry is a lot more flexible now.”

“One thing that really helps people is that Delta, American and United are having a no change fee beginning in 2021,” notes Haddick. This means they won’t charge fees for ticket changes.

Regarding travel changes, Haddick explains, “There’s always a risk, no matter if we are in pandemic or not.” She suggests that people purchase travel protection if they buy tickets for tours or flights and remember to be flexible. “There are so many unknowns,” she says.

“People need to have patience,” Haddick suggests. “Travel with the right frame of mind and understand things are going to change.” To learn about safety precautions and how airlines are following safety protocols, she recommends asking specific questions from your travel agent and the airline.

Safety precautions in airplanes might include wearing masks, seating passengers with some social distance, and loading passengers from the back of the plane to the front. Passengers may be given a pouch with a snack and water bottle, rather than flight attendants going through the cabin with a beverage cart. In airports, there are social distance reminders and sanitizer stations.

Haddick explains, “Many people are taking driving vacations for a night or two. Lots have gone to the North Shore.”

“Mexico has been great for an international destination,” explains Haddick. She says that the resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya have health screens and great customer service and are currently at low capacity.

While many have been concerned about traveling, Haddick says, “My prediction is that as soon as they have a solid vaccine, then people will be willing to travel again.”

Haddick says during spring break 2021, “People won’t be opposed to driving vacations.” She says popular destinations for people in our area may include the North Shore of Lake Superior, the Black Hills in South Dakota, Door County in Wisconsin and the Great Lakes.

Even day trips can be a getaway. Consider visiting one of the many state parks in Minnesota. Or go to a nearby town and try out a restaurant you haven’t been to before. Visit a museum.

Warm destinations will continue to be popular. “There will be a trend of people driving somewhere south,” Haddick predicts. “People can drive to warmer places such as Florida and South Carolina.”

No matter your destination, Haddick suggests looking at apartment or house rental options at your destination, in addition to hotels and resorts.

Whether you plan a road trip or reserve airline tickets to a warm destination, take time to review the details, get travel protection and consider how and where you can travel safely. Then start planning your trip!