If you have a family vacation planned or are in the midst of planning one for spring 2022, you’re in good company. In fact, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) projects that travel and tourism in the United States will reach pre-pandemic levels this year, giving our economy a $2 trillion boost. This makes sense, since infection rates are dropping significantly all over the country and it appears that the omicron variant just might be in our rear-view windows.
People are feeling more confident about domestic and international travel as they get vaccinated or have post-infection antibodies, says Sandy Pappas, owner of boutique travel consultancy Sandy Pappas Travel.
“Countries are also starting to loosen the restrictions a bit more, now that the rates of vaccinations have gone up and less hospitalizations have taken place,” she says. “Many destinations won’t be requiring the time-consuming testing protocols they once did and will, instead, go based on vaccination status.”
After two years of lockdown, this is exciting news. Many families are ready to make travel memories, not only with their immediate relatives, but with grandparents and others as well.
If you’re looking for trip ideas, here are some of the family-friendly spots that travel pros are recommending for 2022.
Countless families had to cancel their planned Disney trips over the last two years, so the demand for a trip to the “most magical place on earth” is higher than ever. Fortunately, prices have stayed comparable to 2019 levels, says John Lovell, President of Travel Leaders Group, a division of Internova Travel Group. Disney has introduced new attractions, including a Ratatouille adventure, a Moana-themed restaurant, and the immersive, much-anticipated and very expensive Galactic Starcruiser resort. Orlando may not be a beach town, but it offers lots of hotels to choose from, as well as Universal Orlando, the Orlando Science Center, and more.
Los Cabos, Mexico
While you do need a passport to travel to Mexico, you don’t need to provide a negative PCR test or have to quarantine once you arrive. For this reason, Mexico has remained a popular travel spot throughout the pandemic. Cabo is one of Pappas’s favorite spots for families because it has a wide range of accommodation options, water activities and opportunities to embrace the local culture with activities such as cooking classes and TK. Many of the resorts also have fantastic kids programming. “Grand Velas, for example, has a teen club with karaoke, rock climbing wall and kids club for younger kids with very fun, experiential activities,” she says. “Montage and Four Seasons are known for their kids programming.” Many resorts in Los Cabos also have residences in addition to rooms and suites, which is great for larger groups.
The Caribbean archipelago has a lot to offer families—history, culture, cuisine, and an abundance of natural resources. Atmospheric Old San Juan has two UNESCO World Heritage-listed forts, Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) and Castillo San Cristobal, and is a great place to experience traditional Puerto Rican cuisine, including mofongo, says Terika Haynes, owner of Dynamite Travel in Orlando, Fla. El Yunque Rainforest, is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. national forest system, and also one of the most biologically diverse. Haynes also recommends taking a tour of a bioluminescent bay. “You can do this at night by boat to see dinoflagellates that glow in the dark,” she says. U.S. citizens don’t need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico. But they do have to show proof of a negative test taken within 48 hours prior to their arriving flight.
Hawaii has always been a popular destination for couples and families alike. But tough Covid restrictions have made it difficult to visit the islands over the past couple of years. Luckily, these are about to be lifted.. “Hawaii offers so many water and nature experiences, the culture is wonderful and there are so many resorts to choose from, both big and small, at all different price points,” Pappas says. Oahu is known for landmarks like Pearl Harbor and Kualoa Ranch, where part of Jurassic Park was filmed. Visitors can take ATV tours, go ziplining, visit beaches, go fishing, learn to surf, and much more.
Pappas loves to recommend Tuscany for families with kids of all ages. She especially loves to book them in agriturismos—accommodations on Italian farms. “You can get the best of both worlds: apartment-style accommodations, and amenities like a hotel, including a pool and concierge,” she says. “Some will offer experiences like cooking classes.” These kinds of properties usually only allow Saturday-to-Saturday guests, which is great for settling in and exploring all that Tuscany has to offer—including enchanting landscapes, historic towns, renowned wines and Renaissance masterpieces. It’s less ideal for families who are short on time.
This South American country isn’t just rich in culture and natural beauty—it boasts high vaccination rates and sophisticated tourism infrastructure. Plus, it can be exceptionally affordable for U.S. travelers. “Inflation is quite high,” saysMarianne Perez-Fransius, CEO of family travel community Bébé Voyage, an Expedition partner. “But if you are coming in with U.S. dollars and exchanging them at the ‘blue’ informal market rate, you get double the pesos of the official rate—which can stretch your budget quite a bit.” Argentina’s seasons are the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere’s, which means that in March or April—the end of summer there—you can enjoy dining outdoors in Buenos Aires.