Caroline Turenne, 17, of Seekonk, Mass., booked a July hiking trip in Utah with G Adventures, based on the company’s knowledge of the area.
“When we were looking at Airbnb rates, we figured we’d be better off traveling with a guide that would know the area, the best things to do, and to walk us through it,” she said.
Health and safety protocols
Group departures will, of course, be different this year. As the pandemic continues, operators are cutting group sizes to allow for social distancing and ensuring their guides are at least tested for Covid-19, if not vaccinated.
“In a small group setting, we require all group guests wear masks indoors or outdoors when not able to socially distance,” said Stefanie Schmudde, the vice president of product development and operations at Abercrombie & Kent, where new seven-day itineraries include custom trips to national parks in the West (from $6,195) and a winter safari in Yellowstone (from $12,495). On small group departures, motor coaches are restricted to half capacity, trips are no larger than 18 people, and at meals each party has their own table.
A handful of operators require guests to be vaccinated, including two small United States-based cruise lines, American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines. The tour company Globus and its affiliates Cosmos and Monograms require proof of vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test before departure or proof of recovery from the virus.
With the growing numbers of vaccinated Americans, some companies are counting on immunized travelers. Collette, where the average traveler is 65, plans to resume operations in April with eight domestic trips to places like San Antonio, Texas, the national parks of Utah and a music-focused tour to Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans.
Seniors “were higher risk last year and now first in line this year,” said Jeff Roy, the executive vice president of Collette. While vaccination won’t be a requirement to travel, he is confident a majority will be and is encouraging them to bring their vaccination certificates. Unvaccinated travelers must show a negative Covid-19 test result or proof of recovery from the virus within three months of the date the tour ends.