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A Year Into Pandemic, A Different World For Central, South Coast Leisure Travelers

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Virginia and Harold Hyman of Westlake Village are at a point in their lives where they can spend a lot of time travelling.

But, the pandemic brought the couple’s globetrotting to a screeching halt last year. They had to cancel two cruises and a planned trip to Europe because of the COVID-19 crisis. Even with conditions improving, they aren’t planning international travel for the near future.

Travel experts say their surveys show the Westlake Village couple’s views are common, with many people thinking about closer to home vacations this year.

Gabe Saglie is a Senior Editor with Travelzoo, the online site known for collecting and offering deals on travel, accommodations, meals and entertainment.

He says there are some pretty good deals for domestic travel, especially if you are flexible. Saglie says there are deals on flights to many major cities. And, with business travel a fraction of what it was pre-pandemic, there are bargains many upper end hotels Sundays through Thursdays.

The surveys show many people are thinking about road trips for spring and summer trips, which could be good news for tourism-oriented drive destinations like Ventura, Santa Barbara, the Santa Ynez Valley and San Luis Obispo.

International leisure travel is still out for much of the world, but many vacation spots are trying to get would-be travelers to plan ahead, and buy now. Saglie says if you are in a position to plan a trip several months down the road, or even next year, there are some major international travel deals. Most have the safety net of being refundable.

The travel expert says one major improvement that’s come out of the situation for consumers is what’s happened with airline flight change fees. He says on standard, and extra comfort seats, as well as business and first class change fees have been eliminated.

But, he says time has just about run out on waved fees for deep discount tickets. He says if you have one, you need to do something with it in the next week. Many airlines which have waived fees as a courtesy during the pandemic are going to start charging them again after March 31st. Saglie says in some cases, the change fee could be two or three times the value of the original discount ticket.

After a year of being stuck at home, like most people, Vivian and Howard Hyman are finally going on a trip again. While they aren’t ready to think about going abroad, on Wednesday they are headed to Maui. They admit they’re excited

So, when will they be ready to go overseas? They say it won’t be anytime soon. If things improve enough, they will consider this fall, but more likely 2022.