By Robert Sinclair
After a one-year hiatus from normal activities due to the coronavirus, millions of Americans are receiving the vaccine daily and are eager to resume interrupted activities, including family vacations. The lockdowns have prevented what is at least an annual rite for Americans who look forward to their vacations with enthusiasm and joy. New guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide assurance that travel can be safely taken by people who have been vaccinated and even unvaccinated, if certain precautions are taken.
The eagerness to take vacations is seen at AAA Travel with a 40% increase in travel bookings in the last month alone, a trend that is expected to continue. Disney Orlando is the most popular, followed by Aruba, Hawaii, and Universal Florida. River cruises, national and foreign, are also highly sought after. Ocean cruise lines are preparing to resume cruises to select Caribbean and Mediterranean ports from June. Bookings are strong for the whole of 2021 and through 2022. With limited capacity on many tours and cruises, it is recommended to book in advance to guarantee your place and the best price if you book trips from weeks and months.
Advance bookings will also ensure your destination is open and allow you to check test requirements to re-enter the U.S. We also see plenty of last-minute travel plans for Florida, the Caribbean, and domestic travel. with car rentals and a theme. sale of park tickets near capacity. Either way, a travel agent can be helpful, providing the latest information on availability, the ability to make last-minute changes, and knowledge of insurance options and up-to-date safety information.
While plane, cruise, train, and bus travel are popular options, many US vacation trips are made by car. Loading the family vehicle to explore a place in our vast geographically diverse country is still a great way to relax, unwind and bond as a family. Sadly, 2020 has turned out to be a particularly deadly year on the roads despite significantly less traffic. Preliminary data from last year shows that more than 40,000 people have died in traffic accidents.
In percentage terms, this was the largest year-over-year increase in road fatalities since 1924, according to the National Safety Council. These frightening numbers remind us of the need to be safe on our roads. Maintaining the vehicle after long periods of non-driving is essential to safety. Motorists should have their vehicles inspected and repaired by a qualified technician before a long road trip, ensuring proper tire pressure and battery service, the main items we receive at AAA. Fluid checks and examining belts and hoses are also essential.
The impending increase in car travel this summer draws attention to the poor infrastructure in our country. Horrific pavement conditions, along with masses of functionally obsolete and structurally deficient bridges, cost drivers billions of dollars in repairs, create congestion, and lead to fatalities and injuries. New York State is meeting the need with a record $ 6.1 billion in funding for road and bridge repair and construction in the latest budget. The federal government is negotiating a massive infrastructure bill that promises to dramatically improve conditions.
Travel is an important part of the US economy. As we emerge from the dark days of the pandemic, taking a trip will be part of what allows our nation to regain its economic strength. We need to do everything we can to make sure this happens safely.