As the pandemic continues, the local travel agency sees more and more travelers staying in the United States

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Tuesday was the national plan for a day off, and although it’s only January, it’s not too early to plan.

The Wishing Well travel agency in Harrisonburg is seeing more and more people willing to book travel, but many are finding treasured destinations hidden across the United States or within driving distance, and prefer to book domestically due to the evolving COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.

“Travel is still a very fluid situation. We are still seeing the restrictions shift from day to day and week to week,” said Terrie Dean, co-owner of Wishing Well. “They are modified as necessary as COVID-19 increases in certain areas or decreases.”

To travel overseas, Dean said there is still additional paperwork and COVID-19 testing to do, which leaves some travelers hesitant they will test positive and need to quarantine.

But if you want to plan a getaway, Dean suggests planning at least six months in advance. She said one challenge has been that things book up quickly.

“The availability of where you might want to go might not be there if you wait three months to go,” Dean said. “International destinations, not really a problem, but here domestically you can bet you’re going to have a problem if you want up to three months before.”

Another challenge facing the travel industry continues to be staff shortages at hotels, resorts, cruise lines and airlines.

“They’re not all running at 100% capacity and COVID continues to wreak havoc on the industry, but we’re dealing with it,” Dean said. “People are learning new ways to adapt and they are more accepting of new habits and travel protocols.”

On Monday, the CDC added five more Caribbean island destinations to its highest level of travel risk for COVID-19: the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, St. Barthelemy and St. Martin.

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Willie R. Golden