Couple watching Moraine Lake at dawn, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Photographer: Matteo Colombo / Digital Vision Photographer: Matteo Colombo / Digital Vision Josephine Darwin, 65, marked March 3 on her calendar with the importance of a golden birthday and planned to celebrate it with the same enthusiasm. On that date, she and her husband, John, 67, would be officially immune – or as close as possible – to Covid-19. Freshly vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine, Nashville retirees are wasting no time getting back to travel: they plan to fly to Charleston, SC next week for a post-vaccine vacation. Call it a “vaxication”. “I can’t begin to describe our enthusiasm for going out and meeting people again,” says Josephine, who hasn’t left her home since March 17, 2020, except for brief walks around the neighborhood and to have fun. prick. As soon as she and her husband had their immunization appointments, they started planning their trip. A two-week vacation in Newfoundland is now scheduled for September, assuming the borders are open by then. (They may not be very well; the eastern provinces of Canada have been so strict about travel bans in the event of a pandemic that they have even denied entry to their fellow Canadians.) hikers enjoy the view of the narrow streets in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada.Photographer: Seth K Hughes / Image Source As the rollout of vaccination in the United States has accelerated, so have requests for vaxications. “We’ve seen a 25% increase in travel inquiries since the first round of vaccinations became available,” says Leah Smith, president of Denver-based Tafari Travel. “Almost every week I get emails from clients saying they just got their first vaccination and are ready to plan for the next two years of travel.” “It’s not uncommon to receive up to four travel requests in a single email,” Smith continues. “Many customers don’t even wait for the second round to book a trip.” More and they are not going to visit their grandchildren, says Brooke Lavery, partner of upscale travel consultancy Local Foreigner. “People who normally take five to seven trips a year and for whom travel has been a way of life for decades are taking celebratory trips,” she says. The movement may be premature. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has delayed the release of the updated Covid safety guidelines for fully vaccinated Americans. To this day, the organization has continued to encourage those vaccinated among us to wear masks, to continue to distance themselves and to avoid crowds. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has publicly expressed his caution about post-vaccination travel, given the possibility of spreading the virus along the way. “Traveling was our life” Charlotte Benedict, 74, is one of many willing to take the risk. She is three weeks away for her second dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, and her husband Roy is a few weeks behind her. Next month, the retired Dallas-based couple plan to celebrate the immunity with a golf trip to St. George, Utah. A golfer starts in southern Utah. Photographer: RichVintage / E + “Travel was our life,” says Charlotte. “We canceled five trips last year and are ready to resume our trips.” A more distant Kenya safari plan with their adult daughter, however, is on hold until 2022. Destinations that offer outdoor settings and naturally socially remote activities are still the most popular, even for immune travelers. “People want to start in remote places, where they can be outdoors most of the time,” says Lavery, travel consultant. “They are still not ready to return to busy resorts.” Ted Martens, marketing director for Boulder, Colorado-based wildlife travel operator Natural Habitat Adventures, says bookings spiked as soon as vaccines began rolling out in December. “We’ve been riding pent-up demand for two months,” he says. “After months of booking rates hovering around 35% to 45%, we saw a jump in January and have hovered around 80% of normal booking volume in recent months.” Tourists watch a humpback whale feed in Antarctica.Photographer: David Merron Photography / Moment RF In many cases, this thirst for the great outdoors is an excuse to tick off a great vacation, which is why places like Antarctica have paved the way for the recovery of the travel industry. and Rwanda, has driven a considerable share of the demand for Melissa Biggs Bradley, the founder of luxury travel company Indagare, who adds that most of the demands are for immediate, not long-term projects. “We’re seeing much shorter registration windows,” she says. “People who have just been vaccinated can’t wait to leave in a month or two to places where they would typically spend months planning.” Finally the recovery? These demands keep tour operators busier than they have been in a long time. Biggs Bradley says Indagare reservations remained fairly anemic from March through October. But in November, following the news of the first promising vaccine results, she saw a surge that has continued to grow.A safari in Masai Mara, Kenya.Photographer: Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond / RF timing of week-to-week bookings, hitting the highest volumes the company has seen since the lockdown began. At the end of the month, the company was making two to three times as many bookings on a weekly basis as it was for the entire month of October last year. This steady growth is perhaps the best sign of optimism the struggling travel industry has seen since the start of the pandemic. Craig Beal, owner of Travel Beyond, a boutique safari specialist based in Minnesota, says that in the past two weeks at least five customers have mentioned vaccinations as a reason for initiating trips. Its customers are among the lucky demographics that have not been financially impacted by the pandemic – in fact, the lockdowns have reduced their spending. Now they want to travel as soon as possible, he says. “After a year of no travel, no restaurant or no entertainment, customers find they have a lot more money than they did a year ago,” Beal says. “They’re improving the trips they’ve postponed to 2020 with that extra money.” Changing Realities There’s always a problem: Immunizations don’t take the hassle of travel away during a global pandemic. Passengers in masks on an American Airlines plane last May.Photographer: Eleonore Sens / AFP / Getty Images “There is a whole series of procedures and regulations that people are not used to, and that keeps changing”, Biggs Bradley explains. “It’s not as easy as having a passport and a vaccine.” Many customers believe they can spread their wings two weeks after their second shot, and his team had to bring them back to the realities of the quarantine rules and border closures that still apply to vaccinated travelers. Some vaccinated travelers, like Josephine Darwin, still take important precautions – in line with current recommendations. She even bought a face shield for her first flight. “We spent the last year dreaming of travel and planning trips,” she says. “I’d rather wear a mask than stay at home.” Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg terminal. LEARN MORE.