Do you have the urge to travel this summer, fall or even next year but don’t know exactly where to start?

Yes, we’ve all been asking that question. Our wanderlust is reaching new heights! We are all so anxious to go somewhere, have something to look forward to and just escape the last few months of having to be at home and not be able to be with friends, family and to be able to travel.

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If you are flying, here’s what we know from what we were told by the Transportation Security Administration and the Memphis Airport Authority.

Here are a few of the questions that many have asked along with the answers:

1. What air filtration/ circulation is happening when a person deplanes/boards the aircraft? Delta has advised they use HEPA filters on the airplane but not sure once they are at the gate if they are on their own air system still or the airport's.

2. Do all airlines have self bag check? Each airline is a bit different and have their own protocol. It also may be different for each airport!

3. Will passengers be required to complete a simple health acknowledgement form during check-in to confirm that they are not ill and that they understand the airline’s new health policies? This is still being decided, but we do know that when arriving at different destinations, especially when traveling out of the country, you will have a form that you will need to fill out!

4. Are the airport employees wearing masks and gloves? Each organization--including airline, TSA and retail/restaurant employees -- has its own employee policies for masks and gloves, but many of the passenger-facing employees are wearing facial coverings. Most airline employees are required to wear them, and ticketing agents are also wearing gloves. TSA officers are wearing masks/gloves while at the checkpoint. You will also be asked to wear a facemask.

5 . What about the social distancing? At airports, there are markers showing you where you need to stand.

6. What about on the airplanes and social distancing? Delta is extending their commitment to make more space for safer travel by continuing to block the selection of middle seats and capping seating in every cabin through Sept. 30.

7. How will the hotels be different?

During all times in which the usage of face coverings are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and/or other local health authorities, health and hygiene reminders will be placed at high-traffic areas on properties, including the front lobby area, indicating the proper way to wear, handle and dispose of coverings.

There will be “well-being” checks of all employees, including virtual health checks, that should be carried out in accordance with CDC guidelines and/or as required by law.

All employees will receive COVID-19 safety and facility sanitation protocols training recommendations from the CDC with more comprehensive training, consistent with the CDC, for employees with frequent guest contact including housekeeping, food and beverage, public area department, hotel operations, security, valet/door/bell services, and maintenance/ engineering.

Cleaning and disinfecting protocols will require that particular attention is paid to high-touch, hard nonporous items including television remote controls, toilet seats and handles, door and furniture handles, water faucet handles, nightstands, telephones, in-room control panels, light switches, temperature control panels, alarm clocks, luggage racks and flooring. The frequency of room cleaning during a guest’s stay may be altered based on guest requirements.

Social distancing: guests should be advised to practice physical distancing by standing at least six feet away from other groups of people not traveling with them, including any area where guests or employees queue.

Minimize traffic in enclosed spaces, such as elevators and stairwells.

Hygiene, of course, is the top concern, and the American Hotel & Lodging Association has released industry-wide Stay Safe standards. Many major hotel groups have also outlined new policies. All the hotels will have to comply by the CDC guidelines. For more information on the resorts and what each are doing, ask your travel agent.

Now, on a happy note … let’s talk about where you might want to vacation!

Will it be in the United States?

There are several domestic travel ideas for you to choose from. With enough research and help from a travel agent, you can find something almost as exotic to explore here in the U.S. as going on an international trip.

For those of you who like hiking, biking, water sports and other vigorous activities, you are in luck. The U.S. offers endless destinations for all of this. Taking a bike tour—not only will you get to take in the scenery from a bike, but we have several of our suppliers that offer well thought out itineraries and small or even private groups.

During the winter months, there is the option for a ski vacation. Take the family out to Utah or Colorado to hit the slopes and those in the group who aren’t interested in skiing can visit the spa, participate in yoga or explore the nearby shops.

Looking for something a bit different? One of our favorites is exploring by taking in a new area by train. It can provide people with the freedom of traveling solo without the restrictions that come with a guided tour, yet the mode of transportation is covered. Companies such as Railbookers and Amtrak Vacations have itineraries all throughout North America and right now, we’ve got some great specials on fall travel exclusively through Travel Leaders!

Some other domestic destinations you come across may even surprise you. For example, islands may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Midwest, but there are actually several islands to explore in this area including Washington Island and the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin and Mackinac Island in Michigan, among others.

Between North America’s breathtaking national parks, cool emerging cities and tiny historic towns, there’s a surplus of sights you haven’t seen in your own backyard.

From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you to see.

As the Caribbean prepared to reopen for international tourists, the border re-openings are accompanied by strict new public health protocols and procedures, some of which require air travelers to produce proof of a Covid-free test result administered within 48 hours prior to travel. You may also receive daily temperature checks once you arrive at the resorts.

We have found that not all of the resorts have opened so you will want to check your travel agency to make sure they are open for business.

Barbara May is owner of Travel Leaders. Travel Leaders is keeping up to date with the different resorts opening up and knowing all the protocols for them, such as Disney, Las Vegas, Hawaii, Alaska, the Caribbean and all over the world to help our clients plan their vacations to these destinations. Call 901-377-6600 or 901-853-6200. Our Memphis office is located at 2765 Wolf Creek Pkwy., Ste. 104, Memphis, TN 38133, next door to David’s Bridal. Or if you are in the Collierville office, it is by appointment only.

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