People are searching for safe ways to resume their summer vacations as the summer of 2021 draws near.

Three local travel agencies have assessed a large, rapid increase in demand for travel as compared to last year.

Common travel hotspots include, but are not limited to, domestic areas such as Florida, Hawaii, and the national parks, as well as destinations outside the U.S. such as Mexico, Jamaica and Costa Rica.

Trudy Lagerman, manager of the Liberty Travel Agency at the Susquehanna Valley Mall, said the travel industry is “in 100 percent better shape” as compared to last year, and business has continued to increase weekly thus far.

Liberty Travel has deemed Florida as the top hotspot in the U.S for summer travel in 2021, with Hawaii following close behind.

Lagerman said that trips to Alaska as well as river cruises will likely sell out.

“When the demand comes back like it is now, and the more people are booking, the more the rates will go up,” she said. “I see anybody thinking of doing any kind of traveling needing to book ahead.”

Miller Travel Agency in Middleburg also logged a rapid increase in summer vacation scheduling this spring. The agency has been busy rebooking trips that were postponed last year and still receives new business, as well.

Amie Miller, senior travel consultant at Miller Agency, said that all trips for 2022 are quickly selling out.

From what the Miller Travel Agency sees, the most popular U.S. destinations for travel in summer of 2021 include Florida, Hawaii, Colorado, Yellowstone and other national parks.

People are avoiding online booking for trips due to COVID-19 changing regulations and because it hurt them last year; calling it a “nightmare,” Miller explained that people were not getting reimbursed if they got sick before vacations. “But everyone who went through an agent, we have contacts, so we have our clients taken care of,” Miller said.

The sudden “mad dash” for flying as summer approaches keeps the agency busy, according to Miller. “People are just ready to go,” Miller said. “The wheels are starting to grind and locally, our phones are ringing off the hook right now. It’s insane, like, crazy.”

According to Miller, U.S. domestic travel is heavily booked, but international travel for this summer is “just very cold.”

The Miller Agency has rebooked all international travel that was scheduled for this year to 2022 already. Alaska and Canada will likely not be options for travel this summer.

Although overseas vacations this summer are not currently as popular, trips to Hawaii and Mexico are in high demand.

Vacation spots in Mexico have laid out clear COVID protocols and new health standards for entering the country, helping to make planning easier.

“Everything we put out, they came up with a solution for almost within 24 hours,” Miller said. “There are definitely going to be some new things that have not taken place in the past.” Mexico destinations have expressed intent to give extra nights and assistance to visitors if they happen to catch COVID-19.

She recognizes the disparity among opinions about how inclined people feel to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine. She thinks a vaccination may eventually be necessary for travel when it is made more largely available to the public.

“I think what they’re going to do is be somewhat lenient with the vaccine for a while,” Miller said, “and then I think, when it becomes really available, it may come down to, ‘if you want to travel, you have to get a vaccine.’”

Travel Leaders Agency in Lewisburg has also handled an increase in travel inquiries for this summer.

As of Jan. 26, COVID-19 restrictions slowed spring business for the Lewisburg agency. The policy of needing a negative COVID test within three days of entering the U.S. again diminished interest in international travel for that time being. Emerging from the halt, they saw a large rise in demand for March, April and May travel, mostly in the United States.

Sarah Newbury, office manager at Travel Leaders Agency, noticed that people are “doing more last-minute travel” because the pandemic has made circumstances unpredictable, especially when seeking international vacation destinations.

She agrees that people are growing more comfortable with flying in 2021 when planning vacations. According to Newbury, Delta is ranked no. 1 in COVID-19 response out of all airlines.

Travel agencies always tend to have clients seeking a Disney World getaway, and the trend continues. Vacations to Walt Disney World in Orlando are still being booked, helped by a crowd reduction.

The park operates at a maximum of 35 percent capacity for safety reasons. “This is very appealing to a lot of travelers because they won’t have as many people to weave in and out of, so to speak,” Newbury said.

As circumstances grow slightly more certain, travel agents collectively suggest booking as soon as possible so families can ensure they get either a spot at a resort or on a cruise before they run out, and before prices rise even higher.

Miller recommends traveling to western states this summer summer because there is a vast amount of space to keep a safe distance from others while appreciating the beautiful landscapes.

“It’s not like you’re wall-to-wall with people,” Miller noted. “You’re out in the national parks with the buffaloes and the mountains, and it’s not like you’re crowded to get on rides.”

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