Lee Weikert and her husband are Major League Baseball fans and plan to visit Phoenix in March for Cactus League spring training. But like many Americans, they are unsure what will happen to their spring break travel plans.
Instead of flying, the Weikerts intend to make the 12-hour drive from Diamond Springs in northern California. They hope to be vaccinated beforehand. And they most definitely will have a Plan B.
"I realize that no fans may be allowed at games or that spring training might be postponed," says Weikert, a retired public welfare policy analyst. "But we’re prepared to go and do other things, such as the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, which would keep us outdoors and allow social distancing."
The Weikerts are in good company. It may be one of the most difficult decisions of 2021: whether to plan a spring break vacation.
And if you do, how?
"Spring break will look a little different this year," says Cindy Salik, a travel adviser with Ovation Travel Group. Her clients are taking shorter, safer trips in late February, March and April. Their biggest fear is being stuck on a beach with thousands of other spring break vacationers.
"Now, maybe three or four families are getting together to rent a villa or house that can accommodate everyone," Salik says.
This year, many people will either opt to stay home for spring break (that’s the safest option) or take extra precautions as they plan their trips.
For some, a spring break vacation is out of the question.
"I’m not going anywhere," says Peggy Blair, a retiree from Folsom, California. For people like Blair, the risks far outweigh the rewards. International travel bans, public health warnings, and local quarantines and restrictions all add up. They’re waiting until vaccinations go up, infection rates go down and travel gets a green light from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Others, eager to get away, are looking for low-risk options. Allianz Travel is bracing for travel to increase this spring. Research conducted by the travel insurance company in 2020 suggested that the emergence of a coronavirus vaccine would do the most to make people feel it was safe enough to travel.
"Assessing risk factors and being aware of your surroundings when you travel will be paramount," says Daniel Durazo, director of marketing and communications at Allianz. "It’s important to know what travel regulations are in place at your destination, to plan ahead to obtain a coronavirus test if needed and make sure everyone in the family has a quality mask."
Now perhaps more than ever, experts are recommending travel insurance. This could include a standard trip insurance policy, a pricier "cancel for any reason" policy, or a medical evacuation membership such as that provided by Medjet.
"If you are a fan of nature, consider going camping or renting a cabin where you’re more secluded from other people," says Jacklyn Krol, a photographer from Schererville, Indiana.
Diana Hechler, president of D. Tours Travel, says resorts in Jamaica, Turks and Caicos Islands, and St. Lucia offer either free-standing cabins or suites with eating facilities and multiple bedrooms.
"If you can create a travel bubble somewhere warm, you should be just fine," she says.