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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

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IU experts, local travel agent discuss summer travel during COVID-19 


Marc Papier was going to take a trip to Mexico in March, but now is looking to go this summer. 

“We played it safe at that point,” he said. “We’re all a little bit more educated at this point.” 

Tara Lynn rescheduled her Europe tour for October, but now she doesn’t think she’ll go until next year.

“I’m not going to feel particularly comfortable traveling internationally until there’s a vaccine or there’s been some more understanding or data,” she said. 

Dean Puckett has continued to travel domestically and just returned from Texas where he said things were crowded and most restaurants were open. 

“My views may be different than a lot of people, but you take a risk with your life everyday, so it’s just another day for me,” Puckett said. 

These Bloomington residents echo sentiments IU travel experts are seeing on a wider scale. 

Becky Liu-Lastres, IUPUI assistant professor of Tourism, Event and Sport Management, and Evan Jordan, IU assistant professor in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies both said people can start looking at making summer travel plans, but to prepare for a different experience than pre-coronavirus travel. 

Jordan said research shows that traveling can reduce stress, which can improve both mental health and support your immune system. The problem is right now, traveling could hurt your physical health if you’re not careful. 

“You’ve got to try and strike a balance,” Jordan said. 

Liu-Lastres worries people are rushing to travel and not thinking about following CDC guidelines. 

“It’s okay to start planning for summer travel, but you need to remember this is slightly different than before,” she said. “You cannot pretend like nothing has happened.” 

Jordan calls it “traveling with modifications," which means continuing social distancing, going to places that may not be as crowded and wearing a mask.

He also said it is important to check the government websites of a place before you go to make sure you’ll be allowed to travel, especially if it is a place outside of the U.S.

Liu-Lastres recommends checking local tourism websites before going as well. These sites will show restrictions in a given area and many have COVID-19 dedicated pages that can give helpful information. 

Bloomington travel agent Steve Coopersmith said many travel companies canceled their vacation programs early on, such as guided bus tours and cruises.

He said he doesn’t have the answers for travelers on when is the best time to rebook their vacations.

“I had people who wanted to know if I had the crystal ball,” he said. “They'd ask 'When are we going to be able to go?'”

He said he tells his clients to make their own decisions on travel, and sees his job as to provide information. He will look at the U.S. Department of State travel advisories and other advisements for an area. 

Coopersmith said some of his clients have pushed back vacations to late summer and early fall, but many are looking to next year instead. He said bookings for 2021 vacations are already up more than 24% from pre-coronavirus 2020 numbers for his company and up 16% industry-wide. 

“The recovery doesn’t happen in one day,” Liu-Lastres said. ”I think it will still take probably at least a year to get to what we say is normal.” 

Jordan equates it to the way airports changed forever after 9/11. 

“People’s perceptions of the safety of travel are shaken,” Jordan said. “There won’t be a normal travel. There will be a new normal travel.” 

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