Travel providers are pivoting to provide more of what consumers demand in the new post-pandemic era, including small group tours, adventure-themed outdoor trips, and luxury “bucket list” vacations, according to AAA Texas.
AAA Texas travel advisors are now busy booking destinations such as Europe, Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, and West Coast cruises.
We are currently in what is known as “Wave Season.” That is the time of year from January to March when cruise lines offer some of their best promotions and many travelers book their cruise vacations during this period. After canceled sailings and travel restrictions due to the pandemic, consumer demand to return to seas and rivers is expected to be very high this year.
A new AAA survey finds 52% of U.S. adults are just as likely or more likely to consider taking a cruise vacation than they were before the pandemic. That number is up from 45% one year ago.
“2023 is showing a much wider diversity of vacation interests for our members,” said Heather Felix, AAA Texas vice president for travel products and services.
The Galapagos Islands, Japan, Iceland and Egypt are among the emerging trending destinations for the next couple of years as bookings for luxury trips are increasing at AAA Texas branches due to heightened interest in small group travel, Felix said. European destinations such as Italy and Ireland remain strong favorites, with United Airlines recently announcing it is expanding its European flights this year.
For those wanting off-the-beaten path vacations, Felix noted that vendors are offering adventure travel packages to explore Morocco, tour South Africa’s wineries and hike through some of the lesser-known American national parks.
Travelers seeking out the best value for this upcoming year, and beyond, should check out some of the newer all-inclusive cruise price offerings, Felix said. The upfront all-inclusive prices offer a lower overall cost for specialty dining, drinks, Wi-Fi and staff tips.
To assist travel planners, AAA Texas is hosting two travel shows in early 2023 featuring dozens of the top domestic and international travel providers:
- Saturday, January 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the AAA Texas Woodlands Branch at 27726 Interstate 45 N, Conroe, TX 77385
- Saturday, February 18 from Noon to 4 p.m. at the Royal Sonesta at 2222 West Loop South Houston, TX 77027
Members and non-members can attend the show and book vacations or learn more about destinations of interest, and special member benefits and discounts will be available for those who book at the show.
To RSVP to attend a travel show, call your local AAA Texas branch.
For those planning 2023 vacations, AAA Texas has the following tips:
- When considering accommodations, look into booking a suite or villa rather than individual guest rooms, especially when traveling together as a family. It often can cost less while providing more spacious accommodations.
- Book Travel Protection Plans to ensure you’re covered for unexpected occurrences.
- Book activities or shore excursions early, since they are likely to sell out.
- When traveling internationally, passports must be valid for at least six months prior to your return. AAA Travel can help you rush your passport as well as take your photo.
- Always carry a change of clothes, your medications, your itinerary and any other must-have items in your carry-on luggage.
- Look into arriving a day earlier than the formal start of your tour or cruise and/or staying a day later by booking a hotel room so that you are not too rushed or tired to enjoy your vacation.
- Arrive at the airport early. Recommended time for domestic is 2+ hours and international is 3+ hours.
- Consult with your travel advisor for other vitally important information specific to your destination.
AAA provides more than 63 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of independently owned motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, AAA has been a leader and advocate for the motorist and safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas.