Yahoo Finance’s Personal Finance Contributor Vera Gibbons joins the Live show to discuss the travel outlook for 2022 and searches for international travel destinations despite recent spikes in COVID-19 cases.
AKIKO FUJITA: We are watching shares of major airlines today getting a lift off the back of Delta Airlines, posting stronger than expected earnings. Certainly, these major carriers having to deal with a lot of disruption over the last month coming from the Omicron variant. But a new study out says Americans are ready to travel again in a big way and plan to put their money towards that this year.
Let’s bring in Vera Gibbons. She’s a Yahoo Finance contributor. And Vera, for once, it’s nice to talk about people wanting to get out, instead of being told to stay at home because of the virus. But talk to me about what people are thinking about because it’s largely been domestic travel for now. Are we starting to see a bit of a pickup in international travel or planning for that?
VERA GIBBONS: The answers are yes and yes. So the outlook overall for 2022 is very positive, looking very strong. I spoke to Expedia experts. I spoke to a couple of other travel experts. I spoke to Flash Packages, Adventure Travel. And they’re saying that people are really excited to book again. And they’re doing so with renewed confidence and excitement. They want to get back out there. They feel like they’ve given up a couple of years of their life. And they really, really miss traveling.
Obviously, domestically is where the primary action is because there’s still a lot of hesitation, a little nerves about traveling internationally. Expedia actually did a survey showing 59% of travelers say they will be going domestically primarily to those warm weather destinations. Here in Florida, this continues to be a very hot spot. Mexico is also doing very well.
Internationally, yes, there is some travel there to the traditional hot spots– London, Paris, Rome, Madrid. But there’s also some interest in exotic– more exotic locations like Tanzania, Argentina, the Maldives. So I think that that’s pretty interesting to actually see that. People are actually doing searches on these locations, trying to figure out whether they want to go or whether they can go. But it is a little more complicated, obviously, to travel internationally.
So there is still that sense of hesitation. You’ve got to follow those restrictions and regulations constantly or work with a travel agent who does it for you. But it’s good to see that people want to get back on the travel bandwagon and get back out there. We’ve been cooped up in our homes for so, so long. People are telling me– you know, one woman I actually interviewed said it’s like being on house arrest for the past couple of years because she’s not only working from home full-time, but she’s also a mother of four children. So people want to get back out there.
ZACK GUZMAN: I mean, it’s not– yeah, it’s not hard to believe that a lot of people are feeling like they are desperate to kind of get out there. And I mean, I guess, you know, that raises the question of pricing and whether or not people are going to spend as if they really haven’t spent anything on travel as we move forward. And I was looking at prices for a few of these things. It doesn’t seem that expensive if you’re booking right now. But I guess all that could change rather quickly, as we saw play out last year. I mean, how are you expecting to see maybe some of the booking trends get a little bit shaken up, shall we say, this year?
VERA GIBBONS: Well, Zack, people are spending and they’re spending big. I think the general attitude is go big or go home. And as I say, no one wants to go home. So there is quite a bit of luxurious spending going on. People are upgrading on various amenities. I spoke to one person who’s going to Italy in the summer. And rather than stay in any old hotel, she’s going to go for the five star hotel. She is flying first class with her husband. She doesn’t want to fly in the back of the plane in the middle seat anymore. They’re finished with that.
Another woman I spoke to who is traveling internationally has rented a villa, and they eventually hired a private chef to come into their home. So everyone’s saying, telling me that travel in 2022 is going to be about quality. And in many cases, that is incorporating amenities and luxuries they previously would not have splurged on. And then for other travelers, they’re saying, look, I just want to spend more time outdoors. I want to incorporate some excitement into my travel. I maybe want to try new food. I want to try new experiences. Maybe sleep under the stars or try new food, stuff they haven’t actually done before.
So the big trend for travel 2022 is, again, quality travel and big travel. People really, really feel that they have been sitting at home for too long. They’ve missed a couple of years of their life. And for people who travel regularly, this is a big part of their life. They want to get back out there. They want to live again.
AKIKO FUJITA: Vera, we have seen those very long testing lines and heard the stories, quite frankly, over the last month about people who had the vacation plans, but couldn’t get the test results in time and did not make their flight. On the other side, we’ve also heard of a lot of these big destinations trying to trim down the quarantine requirements because they’ve noticed that has kept a lot of travelers from coming through. I wonder when you look at those big destinations for international travel, how much of that has been determined by those quarantine requirements and those who, quite frankly, are not as strict?
VERA GIBBONS: This is the big problem with international travel. In fact, I spoke to one woman who was traveling from Chicago to Turks and Caicos with her family. She thought she had followed all the protocols. She downloaded the necessary documents. She thought she had all the paperwork. But when she actually landed in Turks and Caicos, she and her daughter were deported because they had only done the rapid test and they didn’t have the PCR test. So her husband and son got to stay, but she and her daughter were actually deported.
And she was upset about this because they let her fly from Chicago on United, thinking everything was fine, only to be met with the agents there saying, no, no, no, you’ve got to go back. On a second attempt after she got those PCR test results– or actually, she took the PCR test, but she didn’t have the results in time. So she actually tried to go to Turks and Caicos twice, two failed attempts. And now she’s making her third attempt because she doesn’t actually want to lose the money she prepaid.
AKIKO FUJITA: That is so frustrating. I mean, I can imagine that’s probably just one story, too. I mean, we’ve heard all the stories of– I’ve had friends who’ve tried to travel and so they can get their test in time and had to cancel their flight. So those challenges continuing, but at least good to see that the optimism is there. Vera Gibbons, Yahoo Finance contributor joining us today, thanks so much for that.