PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Last summer, AAA reported that travel bookings were 11% higher than pre-pandemic 2019. With summer just months away, travel leaders said they expect another strong showing.
For many travelers, the summer months are a time they look forward to.
“Every summer we like to usually try to get out of Peoria, maybe Chicago, somewhere warm, Colorado,” said Nekko Maenza, Peoria resident.
For some, the urge to travel may be even stronger this year.
“It looks like there’s been a break in the virus, thank the Lord for that. We have family trips too, sometimes we go down to Nashville or Florida,” said Felton Beck, Peoria resident.
AAA spokesperson Molly Hart said during the pandemic, many avoided traveling, which may now lead to a surge in people looking to take a trip.
“There’s a lot of pent-up energy to get out there and to explore,” Hart said.
One sign of increased demand for travel is cruise bookings. AAA said cruise bookings have doubled over the last month compared to the same time last year.
“What’s interesting is, it’s millennials. A lot of millennials want to go on these cruises, 52% as a matter of fact,” Hart said.
Fran Strebing, deputy director of marketing at Central Illinois Regional Airport, said the beginning of summer is a big time for flights, especially June.
“It’s typical for kids being out of school, people getting ready to go on those vacations, family vacation,” Strebing said.
With numbers coming in strong for March, boosted by spring break, Strebing said trends for the summer appear to be headed in the same direction.
“With some pent-up demand, people haven’t taken that big summer vacation for a couple of years, and they’re ready to go,” Strebing said.
Hart said she does not expect that gas prices will prevent people from traveling entirely. Instead, she said people may change how far they’re willing to travel or spend less money once they reach their destination.