The Nashville Ledger
FLIGHT. 46 | NO. 2 | Friday, January 14, 2022
By Catherine Mayhew
Updated at 7:24 a.m.
The two words that sum up travel in 2022 are “cautiously optimistic”. Certainly, travel is one of the top priorities for many pandemic-weary people. An Expedia 2022 Travel Trends Report found that more than 68% of U.S. travelers are planning a big trip for their first foray, whether it’s a trip to a foreign country or an upgrade in luxury accommodation in the United States.
“Since March 2020, there has not been a period as promising as today,” Sebastian Modak, editor of Lonely Planet and New York Times 52 Places Traveler told CNBC in 2019, of the Trips abroad. “It really comes down to the risk and comfort threshold of the traveler that things might go a little wrong.”
There’s even a new term for this type of travel – GOAT. It signifies the greatest of all journeys. Top international destinations include London, Paris, Rome and Bali, Expedia reports. Those who remain in the United States are looking to hot destinations such as Maui, Panama City, Orlando and Destin.
“People are spending more because many haven’t traveled in almost two years,” says Kim Ann Snodgrass of Belle Meade Vacations. “It can be a trip upgrade or doing two to three trips where they normally only do one a year.
“Of the family trips I’ve booked, most are Disney World, cruises, skiing, or something out west like ranch vacations. Cruising is definitely a trend, and an undercurrent would be European river cruises. People are also attracted to ‘small boat’ cruises and private guided tours, and they are willing to pay for it. Now that most of Europe is open, people have their suitcases ready and their plans reserved.”
Is the cruise back?
There was no greater pariah than the cruise ship at the start of the pandemic. Cruise ships have become breeding ground for the coronavirus with thousands of people crammed into cramped quarters. The images of ships just out of port with isolated passengers in their rooms still resonate.
The three largest cruise lines – Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line – lost nearly $900 million every month during the height of the pandemic.
And the latest news is not good. Royal Caribbean International has announced that it is suspending operations on several ships due to COVID-19. Some cruises have been canceled while others have been postponed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised against cruise travel in the coming weeks.
Still, cruising is a popular choice for 2022. Bookings are up and some cruises are even sold out. Cruise lines were offering something that turned out to be a silver lining for would-be travelers – incentives to delay their trips rather than cancel them.
That’s exactly what Chrysty Fortner decided to do.
Fortner, the director of programs and special projects for Echo Power Engineering in Nashville, had planned a Viking cruise to Prague and Budapest with her sister for August 2020.
“Then COVID happened,” she says. “Viking said, hey, you can cancel your trip or you can reschedule and we’ll give you a 125% credit. So we said, door number two.
Thanks to the credit, Fortner was able to upgrade his accommodation to a two-balcony suite and will leave in September.
“My sister and I try to take one big trip every year,” Fortner says. “What we ended up doing instead of the 2020 trip, we ended up going to Hawaii in 2021. There are a lot of hoops you have to go through in testing, but it was well worth an escape on what we thought be the end of the pandemic. »
Snodgrass confirms the growing popularity of cruising.
“I had clients last week trying to book a suite for a specific river cruise,” she says. “We searched from March to November 2022 and found nothing so they must have booked for summer 2023.”
Sharmila Patel’s GOAT trip will take her to Italy in May. TMA Group Grants and Procurement Manager at Franklin, Patel, will be traveling with her husband, Philip Phillips, and a group of MTSU students for two weeks.
“Philip is the associate dean of the honors college at MTSU,” she says. “He runs the specialized study abroad program. In 2018, we went to Thailand as part of the specialization studies abroad. It was the best travel experience I have ever had. We didn’t have to worry about finding a hotel and we had a guide.
“There were so many things we couldn’t have done,” she continues. “We took part in two cooking classes, we went to a real Thai farmers’ market. We went to one of the temples and they coordinated a chat with one of the Buddhist monks. There was no stress of being in a foreign place.
They originally planned their trip to Italy with the students for 2021, but the pandemic delayed that. “It gave Philip more time to plan. They added different locations and changed the destination of some day trips.”
Week one stops will include trips to Pompeii and Ostia Antica, an ancient port city, from their home port of Rome, followed by a trip to Florence for week two and excursions to Venice and the Italian Riviera.
Jennifer Justus, head of marketing and events at the Nashville Food Project, is up for the most exotic GOAT trip of 2022. She’s heading to Nepal to combine her love of culture and yoga.
The Food Project’s Growing Together program invites refugee farmers to grow produce native to their own land in gardens near Haywood Lane. Many of them come from countries close to Nepal.
“I worked a lot with the Growing Together program and got to know the farmers,” she says. “I felt interested in this part of the world. And also the yoga part. I am intrigued by Buddhism. I started reading a book during the pandemic, “Awakening the Buddhist Within”. Then this trip came into being and there seemed to be a lot of reasons to go.
Participants will practice yoga daily, led by Nashville yoga instructor Cory Bryant of Yoga Shala. They will also visit monasteries and venture into the foothills of the Himalayas
Nashville’s Brian Jackson moved to Bethel, Alaska a year ago for a job nursing his wife Angie. Winter comes early and stays late in Bethel, so the Jacksons take their two daughters to Hawaii in February.
“We thought it would be nice to be warm in this cold winter time,” he said. “Angie found a conference not far from Waikiki. The conference lasts three days. We will stay there for eight. The company will pay a little vacation. The first nights we stay in Waikiki, then we travel and visit the national parks.”
They hope the third time will be a charm, having canceled two trips before due to the pandemic.
“We were going to go to Las Vegas, but that’s when we started hitting this second round of COVID and we thought going to Vegas would be a terrible idea with all these people crammed in there. “
They also tried to return to Nashville for a visit.
“We were going to go to Nashville in January 2021 to let the girls hang out with their friends,” he adds. “We had to tell them that we weren’t going to be able to date everyone we wanted to. We didn’t want to expose the girls. Angie is in healthcare, and it would be super irresponsible to give travel advice and then go do it.
The threat of the coronavirus hangs over all these major travel plans. Just as we thought we had some control over the Delta variant, the Omicron variant appeared. And everyone traveling in 2022 is holding their collective breath waiting to see what will happen next.
As JRR Tolkien wrote in The Hobbit, “There’s no point in leaving a living dragon out of your calculations, if you live nearby.”
Snodgrass says your “to do” list is much longer with COVID precautions.
“Logistically, there’s more to it,” she says. “For example, if you are not fully vaccinated, the list of places you can go is short. Greece, Belize, and Croatia are a few the unvaccinated can do (at the time of this writing).
“Most countries require you to take a COVID test, normally three days before you arrive, and the United States requires you to take another COVID test three days after you return. It’s easy, because cruise lines and hotels can help.
“I also see more people thinking outside the box in what they normally do on vacation, such as expedition trips. Even some national locations like New York require you to upload your vaccination card to enter restaurants. and Broadway shows.
Fortner specifically chose a river cruise to reduce the risk of being exposed to the virus.
“I feel very lucky that we could do this, and part of the reason we wanted a smaller ship was because there weren’t 9,000 people on board,” she says.
“It’s a very small ship. The smallest ship, the fact that we won’t be on the high seas if anything were to happen. We can easily disembark. And we have a balcony so you have access to fresh air .
Justus was due to travel to Nepal last October.
“Now I’m holding my breath for March with this new variant,” she says. “I fear it will be a difficult journey. It will not be a walk in the park.
And Patel is comforted that everyone on her fully vaccinated trip has been eager to get stung.
“Philip is feeling (positive) based on when he got his shots at the MTSU clinic. When he went to pick up his booster, he said there was a constant stream of students and members of the staff. He feels that MTSU students, in general, are supportive of vaccination. We don’t know what the next variant will look like next year.
And Snodgrass has some tips for planning your trip.
“Three things – book early, book early, and book early,” she says. “Also contact a travel professional for car rental, as we can research several options and be flexible. Automakers have increased the cost of their cars, in some cases by as much as 80%, and yet the demand is still there.
“Of course, booking early is also important for flights and if you want high demand options like a direct flight, frequent flyer or business class, that’s even more true.
“I would also like to mention the importance of reading the terms and conditions of what you book,” she adds. “You need to know your cancellation options, stay on top of COVID requirements, and get travel insurance. There are many insurance options and coverage varies, so it’s important to understand what you’re buying when it comes to insurance.
“Remember that you need to purchase travel insurance before you need it. There’s a saying in the industry, “You’re not allowed to buy flood insurance when you’re in 3 feet of water.” Same for travel. »