BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — According to the Automobile Club of Southern California, this years holiday travel is expected to be the third busiest on record. AAA projects nearly 8 million Southern Californians are expected to get away for the holidays. However, with new travel restrictions and rising COVID-19 cases, many people may be rethinking their holiday travel plans.
According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association. In 2018, consumers spent about $4 billion on travel insurance, giving them a peace of mind that if their trip is canceled or delayed, baggage is lost, or any other event occurs, the expenses are covered. Amid the pandemic, these uncertainties can increase and one local travel agent says it's better to be safe than sorry.
“I tell my clients don’t fall in love with your flights because they’re going to change," Kathleen Lowry said.
Traveling during the holidays and COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful. Owner of LEG Travel, Kathleen Lowry says purchasing travel insurance is more important now than ever before.
“I won’t send out a quote without insurance attached to it. If the flight changes on you for weather, whether it's weather or not if they say it's weather then you don’t get reimbursed from the airline, you’re out. So if you have to stay overnight at a hotel, rebook your flights, that’s all on you," Lowry said.
Types of travel insurance include: trip cancellation, travel medical and major medical, emergency medical evacuation, accidental death and dismemberment, baggage loss and cancel for any reason policies. However, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, because COVID-19 is a known event, if you are diagnosed with the virus before your trip, it's not likely insurance policies will cover changes and plans or cancellations.
“I had one client that was stuck in Hawaii, didn’t get insurance and didn’t get his test results back in time and got on the flight and had to quarantine and had to come back home," Lowry said.
Which is why AAA Spokesperson Doug Shupe says most people are traveling by car this year.
"You can leave and return when you are ready and especially during the pandemic people feel more comfortable in their own vehicles with their own family members," Shupe said.
However, with the surge in COVID-19 cases, air travel has also increased.
“We’ve actually had growth in our passenger travel out of Meadows Field airport," Mark Whitsoe with Meadows Field Airport said.
Lowry says if you experience cancellations or issues with your trip, a travel agency can help you navigate the rebooking process.
“I would definitely say use a travel agent because we are there for you, we have all of the information and things change so much that you really need someone on your side," Lowry said.
Lowry says spending that extra money can go a long way.
"Pack your patience because you never know what's going to happen these days and to not let anything ruin your vacation," Lowry said.
If you're traveling from the Meadows Field Airport, the airport advises you to be ready two hours before departure. Shupe says popular travel destinations this year include Las Vegas, San Diego, Grand Canyon, Orlando, New York City, Hawaii, and South Florida.