ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — It’s been about a year since the coronavirus threw a wrench into our every day lives – including breaking a lot of spring break plans.
What about this year?
Now that spring break 2021 is upon us, the quarantine fatigue, coupled with the vaccine rollout, may prompt some folks to book trips at the last minute.
So, I sat down with a travel professional for some budget-friendly advice. But first I chatted with a mom to find out what worked best for her family.
Julie Pendell of Ann Arbor and her sons have hit the beach before for spring break, but this year, they’re going to Washington, D.C.
“I have seventh-grade twin boys, and they are huge American history buffs. I think it probably goes back to 'Hamilton,'” said Pendell with a chuckle.
Pendell explained that she was aiming for a “COVID-safe vacation.” She wanted to drive – not fly.
She also didn’t want to deal with a hotel or a crowded lobby.
So, she booked an Airbnb within the last week-and-a-half for a pretty good deal.
“If it doesn’t have to be 80 degrees, you know, there’s all kinds of fun things,” said Jill jones – a travel professional with Cadillac Travel Group in Southfield.
She said if you had your hopes set on sunny Florida – say, Miami.. South Beach.. Fort Lauderdale – good luck finding a flight or a hotel at this point.
She said, “think outside of the beach box.”
She recommended five destinations that would have better availability and pricing than most places in Florida right now.
Arizona is her favorite pick -- especially for families.
“They can have a ranch experience. They can ride a horse. They can go see the Grand Canyon. Not everybody gets to see the Grand Canyon. They can go hiking. They can sit by a campfire,” Jones said.
Another great option is Las Vegas.
“Vegas has spent a decade becoming a family destination,” she said.
Jones explained that there are many kid friendly shows, theme parks, and free attractions on “The Strip” plus a lot of cool experiences no matter what the weather -- from Freemont Street to AdventureDome and even the “Fun Dungeon” at Excalibur.
AUSTIN & SAN ANTONIO
You could also consider a combo trip.
Jones suggested splitting up a week between Austin and San Antonio, Texas.
“They’re not that far from each other. You can put that together -- two completely different atmospheres. You’ve got the beautiful San Antonio riverwalk – all of that. And then Austin this kind of funky, fun really amazing city.
She said you can’t go wrong with Chicago – exploring Shedd Aquarium, Millennium Park.. Navy Pier.. just to name a few.
And the Windy City within driving distance of Michigan if you don’t want to fly.
And Washington, D.C. -- the cultural center of the U.S. – has a plethora of sights to see.
Julie Pendell already has a pandemic itinerary in mind.
"There are still a lot of restrictions in D.C., so I don’t think we’ll be doing any museums, but we plan to do all of the outdoor activities that we can do,” said Pendell.
BEFORE YOU BOOK
Of course, COVID-19 restrictions are changing by the day across the U.S. So, Jones said you need to research what’s open.
To check, just search online for “what’s open right now” plus the name of the city where you are considering going. The latest information should pop up.
Also, Jones said you’ll get better rates if you’re flexible with your arrival and departure dates. Leaving on a weekday could save you money.
Also, consider a shorter stay – maybe four or five nights instead of seven.
And if you plan to travel internationally, prepare to show negative COVID-19 test results.
Airlines bound for the U.S. will not let you board without seeing your negative result or documentation of your recovery.
That’s another reason Jones is suggesting options here in the U.S. for spring break 2021.