Yahoo Finance personal finance contributor Vera Gibbons joins the live show to discuss travel prospects for 2022 and research international travel destinations despite recent spikes in COVID-19 cases.
AKIKO FUJITA: Today we see major airline stocks taking a boost off the back of Delta Airlines, posting higher than expected earnings. Admittedly, these major carriers have faced a lot of disruption over the past month from the Omicron variant. But a new study indicates that Americans are ready to travel again and plan to spend their money on it this year.
Let’s bring in Vera Gibbons. She is a Yahoo Finance contributor. And Vera, for once, it’s nice to talk about people wanting to go out, instead of being told to stay home because of the virus. But tell me what people are thinking, because a lot of it is inner travel for now. Are we starting to see a recovery in international travel or planning for that?
VERA GIBBONS: The answers are yes and yes. The overall outlook for 2022 is therefore very positive and looks very solid. I spoke to experts at Expedia. I spoke to a few other travel experts. I spoke to Flash Packages, Adventure Travel. And they say people are really excited to book again. And they do so with renewed confidence and enthusiasm. They want to come back there. They feel like they’ve given up a few years of their lives. And they really, really miss traveling.
Obviously, the main action is at the national level because there is still a lot of hesitation, a little nervousness about traveling abroad. Expedia actually did a survey showing that 59% of travelers say they will primarily visit these warm climate destinations. Here in Florida, it continues to be a very hot spot. Mexico is also doing very well.
Internationally, yes, there are trips there to the traditional hotspots – London, Paris, Rome, Madrid. But there is also some interest in the exotic – more exotic places like Tanzania, Argentina, the Maldives. So I think it’s quite interesting to see that. People are actually researching these places, trying to figure out if they want to go there or if they can go there. But it’s a bit more complicated, obviously, to travel internationally.
So there is always this feeling of hesitation. You must constantly follow these restrictions and regulations or work with a travel agent who does so for you. But it’s good to see that people want to get back on the travel train and come back there. We have been locked in our homes for so long. People tell me – you know, one woman I interviewed said it’s been like being under house arrest for the last two years because she’s not only working from home full time, but she’s also a mother of four children. So people want to come back there.
ZACK GUZMAN: I mean, it’s not… yeah, it’s not hard to believe that a lot of people feel like they’re desperate to get out of it. And I mean, I guess, you know, it raises the issue of prices and whether or not people are going to spend like they really spent nothing on travel as we move forward. And I was looking at the prices of some of these things. Doesn’t seem that expensive if you book now. But I guess all of that could change pretty quickly, as we saw last year. I mean, how do you expect to see maybe some of the booking trends get a little shaken up, shall we say, this year?
VERA GIBBONS: Well, Zack, people spend and they spend big. I think the general attitude is dream big or go home. And like I said, nobody wants to go home. So there’s quite a bit of luxury spending going on. People are upgrading on various equipment. I spoke to a person who is going to Italy this summer. And rather than stay in any old hotel, she will opt for the five star hotel. She flies first class with her husband. She no longer wants to fly in the back of the plane in the middle seat. They’re done with that.
Another woman I spoke to who travels overseas rented a villa and eventually hired a private chef to come to her house. So everyone says, tells me that traveling in 2022 will be about quality. And in many cases, it incorporates conveniences and luxuries that they wouldn’t have splurged on before. And then for other travelers, they say, listen, I just want to spend more time outdoors. I want to incorporate some excitement into my trip. I may want to try new foods. I want to try new experiences. Maybe sleeping under the stars or trying new foods, things they’ve never done before.
So the big trend for travel in 2022 is, again, quality travel and great travel. People really, really feel like they’ve been sitting at home for too long. They missed a few years of their lives. And for people who travel regularly, it’s a big part of their life. They want to come back there. They want to live again.
AKIKO FUJITA: Vera, we’ve seen these really long test lines and heard stories, quite frankly, over the last month about people who had vacation plans but couldn’t get test results in time and who did not take their flight. On the other hand, we’ve also heard of many of these major destinations trying to lower quarantine requirements because they’ve noticed it’s kept many travelers from getting through. I wonder, when you look at these great destinations for international travel, how much of that has been determined by these quarantine requirements and those who, quite frankly, aren’t as strict?
VERA GIBBONS: This is the big problem with international travel. In fact, I spoke to a woman who was traveling from Chicago to the Turks and Caicos Islands with her family. She thought she had followed all the protocols. She uploaded the necessary documents. She thought she had all the papers. But when she did land in the Turks and Caicos Islands, she and her daughter were deported because they had only taken the rapid test and did not have the PCR test. So her husband and son stayed, but she and her daughter were actually deported.
And she was upset about it because they let her fly from Chicago on United, thinking everything was fine, only to be met by the agents there saying, no, no, no, you have to go back. On a second attempt after getting the PCR test results – or actually, she took the PCR test, but she didn’t get the results in time. She therefore tried twice to go to the Turks and Caicos Islands, both unsuccessful attempts. And now she’s making her third attempt because she doesn’t really want to lose the money she prepaid.
AKIKO FUJITA: It’s so frustrating. I mean, I can imagine that’s probably just a story too. I mean, we’ve heard all the stories of… I’ve had friends who tried to travel and so they could get their test in time and had to cancel their flight. So those challenges continue, but at least good to see that the optimism is there. Vera Gibbons, Yahoo Finance contributor joining us today, thank you very much for that.