travel

Travel jitters. Now due to the delta variant

(This is a slightly different version of a story we wrote for NBC News online)

This was supposed to be the summer of “revenge travel,” catch-up trips, and rescheduled family reunions — but the surge in coronavirus cases, and in particular, the highly contagious delta variant has some travelers pausing their plans.

Summer 2021 has come with soaring prices for everything from rental cars to lobster rolls. Wildfires, heatwaves, delays, worker shortages, and an uptick in unruly passengers have all already tested the patience of the hardiest traveler.

But it wasn’t until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged even vaccinated people to resume wearing masks indoors that the ramifications started to ripple through the travel and tourism industry.

Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, which operates sites such as Kayak and Priceline, said the rise of the delta variant and the new travel restrictions “have led to a modest pullback in our booking trends in the month of July relative to June.”

Around the country, major tourist destinations, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles County, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. reinstated mask requirements in public indoor settings. Many communities are taking it a step further — a growing list of bars and restaurants in Seattle now require that patrons show proof of vaccination for entry. And nationwide, Yelp now has a filter that allows users to see if a restaurant or business has instituted a ‘proof of vaccination’ rule.

Later this month, New York City will begin requiring proof of vacation for indoor dining, performances, and other leisure activities. At least one hotel, Ian Schrager’s Public Hotel, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, said it will require guests and workers to present proof of vaccination.

With changing rules and ever-tightening restrictions, travelers say they are beginning to think twice about their plans.

“I’m in the fretting stage. There’s so much that’s uncertain,” said Frieda Werden, who has a trip to Durham, North Carolina, planned for September. “I want to go see my mother, who is about to turn 96 and feels she is declining. But I don’t want either of us to get the variant.”

In Coupeville, Washington, Moe Bébé Fraser Bowman is adding concerns of the delta variant to the list of reasons why she keeps “putting off the notion of checking off the travel bucket list.”

Other travelers say they are still willing to travel, even abroad, despite the risks.

Nicole Woolcock of New York City says she won’t cancel her family’s trip to Portugal in September.

The family is booked into hotels that are taking extra precautions, she said. However, “if it looks like we won’t be able to leave our hotel and really experience Portugal, we’d reconsider our travel,” Woolcock said.

Tania Swasbrook, a luxury travel adviser at California-based Travelworld International Group, said many of her clients are also forging ahead.

“It is revenge travel with a hint of ‘the world may close down again so let’s go now,’” she said.

Deciding whether to take a trip is just one part of the puzzle, however. Travelers, or their agents, need to keep up with what can feel like a rollercoaster of changing protocols and rules. For some, the solution is to book “insurance” trips.

“Travelers are getting savvy, taking advantage of flexible cancellation policies, and booking multiple vacations for the same time but to different areas,” said Misty Belles, vice president for global public relations at Virtuoso Travel Network.

With several plans in place, “they know one will go through even if something happens in the other destinations,” Belles said.

Adding to the uncertainty of traveling right now is the fact that hotels, restaurants, and airlines are struggling to find enough workers to meet the demand.

“It is very bad right now,” said Jan Louise Jones, professor of hospitality and tourism in the Pompea College of Business at the University of New Haven. “And the variant? That’s not helping.”

Space Travel for us? Looking possible.

What can we say? Space Travel for mortals, well, rich mortals, is now much more of a reality. Thanks, Richard Branson, and your enthusiasm, for kicking it off.

What we’re watching: Museum Masterpiece Moments

Yayoi Kusama’s “Pumpkin” at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

We are getting ready to get on the road. And we are making a list of museums we want to visit and art we want to see.

So we were pleased to find the “Masterpiece Moments” series of short, 5-7 minute videos that Bank of America started putting out in January.

The features showcase works of art in the collections of 25 museums across the country. And there’s a new video rolling out every two weeks.

Here are just a few of our favorites. You can sign up to get alerts when a new video is released and see the full list of participating museums here.

Come Fly With Me: Book Features Celebs in Transit

Photo by Dennis Stone/Shutterstock. Joan Collins JOAN COLLINS

Have you ever spotted a celebrity in the airport or on your flight during your travels? It’s a bit of a thrill, right?

A new book coming out from Rizzoli called Come Fly With Me: Flying in Style, is filled with paparazzi-taken images of actors, rock stars, and others coming and going from airports around the world.

Jodi Peckman an award-winning creative director, photo editor, and writer who spent thirty years working with Rolling Stone magazine, chose the images for the book, which you can read about in our story on The Runway Girl Network

Before yo go, here are a few other images from the book.

Frank Zappa with straw boater hat at London’s Heathrow airport. April 1975

Visit France in this new Air France Safety Video

Right about now everything – including the safety videos we’ve seen 100 times – are among the things we miss about flying.

We especially miss the fun safety videos that airlines offer up in an effort to get us to pay attention when we’re on the planes – or off.

So if France on your list of places you’ll go as soon as the coast is clear, then take a look at this new safety video out from Air France.

In it, two flight attendants lay out all the important instructions that you’ll see in any safety video, but while also visiting iconic French landmarks such as the Opéra Garnier, the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, and the sunny French Riviera. The virtual tour continues through the vineyards of Provence, past museums, a fashion show, a typical French café terrace, and along the banks of the Seine and its famous booksellers.

The safety briefing ends where you might expect: at the top of the Eiffel Tower.