(NEXSTAR) – An estimated 109 million Americans will travel out of town between Christmas and New Year’s Day this year. According to AAA, that’s 34% more than last year.
Unlike last year, when many destinations had strict COVID protocols in place and the vaccine was not as accessible, more Americans are expected to visit places with warm temperatures and theme-park-heavy destinations.
Based on booking data through October, AAA has found the 11 most popular travel spots for the 2021 holiday season. Topping the list are Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California – home to Disney World and Disneyland, respectively.
Other top destinations include:
- Las Vegas
- New York City
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Tampa, Florida
- San Diego
In December 2020, when health care workers and older Americans began receiving the first administered doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, many of these popular travel locations had various safety protocols in place. While many of these restrictions have been lifted, some remain in effect. California, for example, just reinstated its indoor mask mandate through Jan. 15.
Last year, California was recommending people from out-of-state quarantine for 14 days upon arriving in the Golden State. Additionally, hotels were unable to accept out-of-state reservations for non-essential travel unless the reservation was for the minimum time period for quarantining. Disneyland didn’t even reopen until April of this year after closing its gates in March 2020.
Across the country in Florida, Disney World was opening at the end of 2020. At the time, guests were required to wear face coverings, undergo temperature screenings, and make a reservation before visiting any of the parks. This year, reservations are still required throughout the holidays and into 2022.
In 2020, travelers heading to New York needed to have a COVID test within 72 hours before arriving in the state. Regardless of their test result, visitors needed to quarantine for three days upon arrival and get a COVID test again on the fourth day. If both tests came back negative, the traveler could exit quarantine.
That isn’t necessary this year. However, visitors to New York should pack a few masks. On Dec. 13, Gov. Kathy Hochul ordered New York businesses to require mask wearing or implement a vaccine mandate.
Last year, Hawaii required everyone traveling to the islands to secure a negative COVID test 72 hours before departure, or else they’d have to quarantine upon arrival. Kauai went even further – mandating visitors quarantine for 14 days, regardless of a negative COVID test. This year, fully vaccinated travelers heading to Hawaii won’t need to take a COVID test or self-quarantine.
Travelers weren’t restricted to Nevada in 2020, but gatherings were. Through Christmas and New Year’s Eve, gatherings were limited to 25% capacity with everyone wearing masks. For the 2021 holidays, some capacity guidelines remain in place throughout Nevada and masks are required in most counties, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor public spaces.
If you are traveling this holiday season or will be in public, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding large gatherings.