Travel experts hopeful for 'vaxications' to give tourism industry boost

SAN FRANCISCO -- It's a term some travel experts are calling "vaxication," the vacations people are planning after they get vaccinated.

It's a trend that Madhu Unnikrishnan, editor at two travel publications -- Airline Weekly and Skift, has been noticing, too,

"Vaxication, I mean, people are really, as soon as they get their shots and they're safe to go, they're buying tickets," said Unnikrishnan.

Last week, TSA reported screening more than a million passengers at airports across the country in one day, the highest number since March 15, 2020, prompting their spokesperson to tweet : If you fly, wear a mask.

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Even more important to highlight -- CDC is still advising people against all non-essential travel, concerned that cases may surge.

For Julia Cosgrove, vice president and editor-in-chief for San Francisco-based AFAR Media, the goal is to encourage more mindful and responsible travel, post-pandemic.

"I really do think it's going to be a big comeback. But, I hope that we can do it better. That we think about the local communities that we're visiting. We think about the role of traveler as steward and caretaker of the planet," said Cosgrove.

That comeback may not be here yet, but signs show it may be on the horizon. It's a welcome sight for those in the industry that have been devastated by the pandemic. At AFAR, Cosgrove says they want businesses to come back slowly but surely.

"As we get into the summer, my hope is that more people start to kind of go out in their concentric circles and start exploring. Whether that's a road trip, whether that is a flight to somewhere. There are countries that are open right now to American travelers who can show proof of vaccination. And my hope is that it will continue to expand in the next couple of months," said Cosgrove.

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Those countries are: Estonia, Georgia, the Seychelles, Slovenia.

For those who are traveling now, Unnikrishnan says start planning for the spring and summer months.

"First tip I'd say is, if you can plan ahead, plan ahead, like you would have back in 2019, or before, and snap up tickets," he said.

Next tip, Unnikrishnan says expect national parks and outdoor recreation to be very popular.

"You will see a lot of demand in places like Montana, Yellowstone, here in California, Yosemite. Plan those trips far in advance."

Finally, remember that every destination may have varying rules and limits.

"Just keep on top of local regulations and plan as far in advance as you can. Wear your masks, stay safe," he said.

Stay safe and also conscientious, Cosgrove encourages. She adds that locals and travels must be more mindful of each other, more than ever.

"It is a very symbiotic relationship. Locals need to feel like the people coming in are being respectful and responsible about their destination," she said, "Can we as travelers commit to being better and more purposeful and maybe slowing down. Maybe it's not about seeing six places in one week. It's instead about going and getting a deeper experience while you're in one place."
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