July 4th Weekend travel: Here's when NOT to hit the road

by Bailey Schulz, USA Today

Planning to get away for a Fourth of July? Be prepared to share the road with a whole lot of other drivers.

With more than 47.7 million Americans expected to travel between July 1 and 5 for Independence Day, more than 91%, or 43.6 million travelers, will be hitting the roads this year. It’s the second-largest travel volume on record, even with commuting traffic still below pre-pandemic rates.

All those vehicles mean travel volumes are expected to jump 15% over normal, according to Bob Pishue, an analyst with transportation analytics company INRIX.

“Since Memorial Day, we’ve continued to see growth in the amount of people who are traveling,” Pishue said. “(At) almost every metro area that we looked at, we see (traffic) increases” during the upcoming holiday weekend.

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EU Members Agree To Lift Travel Restrictions On U.S. Tourists

by Gregorio Borgia, Associated Press

The European Union is recommending that its 27 member countries start lifting restrictions on tourists from the United States.

EU members agreed Wednesday to add the U.S. to the list of countries for which they should gradually remove restrictions on non-essential travel. The move was adopted during a meeting in Brussels of permanent representatives to the bloc.

The recommendation is non-binding, and national governments have authority to require test results or vaccination records and to set other entry conditions.

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Memorial Day Weekend Traffic: When to go, when to stay, what to expect

by Bailey Schultz, USA Today

Millions of Americans are ready to hit the road again this Memorial Day weekend, which means trips in several regions could be twice as long as usual.

Road traffic during the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend is expected to eclipse what travelers experienced last year, now that Americans are feeling more confident about traveling with U.S. COVID-19 cases dwindling and COVID-19 vaccinations widely available.

AAA reported earlier this month that more than 37 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home between Thursday and Monday – a 60% jump compared to last year, but still 6 million people fewer than the pre-pandemic Memorial Day weekend in 2019.

So how can travelers make sure they're hitting the road at the best time for Memorial Day trips? 

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COVID mask fights make plane travel more dangerous. Listen to your flight attendants.

by Sara Nelson, published at NBC

Excitement. Joy. Relief. As passengers return to our planes, the emotion is palpable.

But even for passengers who are thrilled to be embarking on a long-delayed vacation or reuniting with loved ones, there’s also an undercurrent of anxiety.

How could there not be? For most passengers, the flight they’re boarding may be the first time in more than a year they’ve been in close company with strangers.

And let’s be real — sitting shoulder to shoulder with a stranger on a plane wasn’t much fun before we started giving one another a 6-foot berth.

With all the ambient stress, it’s easy to see how a conflict can escalate. And conflicts on board are escalating fast. As NBC News reported earlier this week, airlines have referred more than 1,300 unruly passenger cases to the FAA since the start of 2021. In a normal year, we’d see around 150 referrals. Just four months into this year — and with passenger volume still barely half of 2019 numbers — we’ve already seen nearly 10 times the normal number of incidents for a whole year.

What’s causing these incidents? Overwhelmingly, it’s passengers who refuse to wear masks.

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How long will masks be required on planes? Flight attendants say mandate should be extended

by Dawn Gilbertson from USA Today

With several states lifting mask mandates and COVID-19 vaccination rates on the rise, travelers are starting to ask when they will be able to fly without wearing a mask. 

It shouldn't be anytime soon, flight attendants say.

The federal mask mandate on planes and in airports, signed by President Joe Biden in January and due to expire May 11, should be extended through September, the president of the largest flight attendants union said during a U.S. Senate subcommittee meeting Wednesday.

"We are still in the middle of the crisis,'' Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said during a meeting of the Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation subcommittee of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee. "I do think it's important that we recognize that and stay the course here with the mask policies, with all of our diligence (and) with the efforts to get the vaccine out to everyone.''

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Fully vaccinated against COVID-19? CDC says it's safe to travel but still recommends staying home

by Dawn Goldstein, USA Today

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can resume travel at low risk to themselves, but the agency is still not recommending travel given rising case counts.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, who earlier this week issued an urgent plea to limit travel due to fears of another COVID-19 surge, said Friday that the new guidance is based on studies showing the "real-world'' effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccinated travelers no longer have to follow the CDC's recommendations to get a COVID-19 test before and after travel unless required by the destination. They still need to wear masks and take other precautions. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last recommended vaccine dose.

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River cruising was gaining popularity when COVID-19 hit. Is the smaller-ship experience even more appealing now?

From USA Today, by Morgan Hines

River cruising has seen a spike in interest over the past few years, but is ocean cruising's counterpart seeing a new rise in interest thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic? Maybe.

Michelle Fee, CEO of travel agency Cruise Planners, told USA TODAY her company has seen "incredible demand" for river cruising both internationally and domestically.

“River cruise purchases have nearly doubled since same time last year, and they represent 21% of all Cruise Planners departures for 2022," Fee said, cautioning that it's hard to compare bookings between 2020 and 2021 since large ocean cruise ships haven't sailed in U.S. waters since last March.

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2021 travel survival guide: Pack a Plan B to deal with lockdowns at your destination

Christopher Elliot, USA Today

If you're planning to travel somewhere soon, here's a little advice: Don't listen to the advice.

It's dated and maybe dangerous. The rules for travel in 2021 have changed. Ignore the talking heads. You don't need travel tips for next year – you need a survival guide.

"Anything can happen when you're traveling," says Daniel Durazo, a spokesman for Allianz Travel.

But anything doesn't have to happen to you. If you take a few precautions and plan ahead, you can avoid most problems. You'll need the right insurance and a backup plan – and you have to book with the right companies.

So how do you travel in 2021?

Here's a travel survival guide for next year:

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COVID Travel Update, October 14

Courtesy of Sceptre Vacations


US visitors 15 and older are required to fill out a health assessment. You must also have a negative Covid-19 test result with either a test prior to travel, a test upon arrival or a dual-testing process. You must also purchase specific Aruba visitors insurance.

See Aruba travel requirements here.

The Bahamas

Visitors to these islands must request an online health visa before travel. Then upload and later present negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test results no more than five days before travel.

Full details here.

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Resorts to RV parks: Families take school year on the road for 'schoolcations'

Leanne Italie, Associated Press  Click the image for original article at USA Today

In RVs, rental homes and five-star resorts, families untethered by the constraints of physical classrooms for their kids have turned the new school year into an extended summer vacation, some lured by the ailing hotel industry catering to parents with remote learners through “roadschooling” amenities.

With the coronavirus pandemic ongoing, the change of scene for desperate work- and school-from-home families boils down to “risk versus reward,” said Amanda Poses, a travel consultant and mother of two teenagers in Austin, Texas. “God willing, we don't have the opportunity to do this again.”

Poses and her husband let 13-year-old Addison attend school from Park City, Utah, for three days of a five-night stay in early September. In search of a flight of three hours or less, they rode horses, hiked and zip-lined. They went tubing and enjoyed an alpine slide. And, yes, there was a bit of logging in to school.

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