U.S. travel: Five places to visit after the pandemic is over

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought U.S. travel to a crawl but someday, hopefully soon, the country will open back up and the mask mandate will go away. When it does, look for the travel industry to explode.

People across the world have been quarantined, sitting at home, going stir crazy, like never before. Forget about the snow and freezing temperatures that have kept people indoors, this has been going on for almost a year.

In March of 2020, my family and I headed to Williamsburg, Va. for a nice vacation, and like a scene from a movie all hell broke out while we were there. We watched as our plans to visit Washington, D.C. crashed as the city closed down and the museums around us began to shutter as well.

We have traveled since but it has been restrictive and not without its hazards. Like everyone, getting out of the house will be a welcome reprieve from the mundane that we are growing accustomed to.

The question is where should you go when you finally, can, you know, go?

Disney World/theme parks – Say what you want because it’s not a copout location. Restrictions in Florida have been far less than in other parts of the country but when everything opens back up to normal, the parks at Disney are going to rise quickly. Going early will save you a lot of headaches and allow you to avoid incredibly high crowd levels.

Disney is readying for their 50th anniversary and that is going to bring a lot of fans to the parks as well. The trick is to beat the crowds. From hotel deals to park admission deals, the earlier the better as soon as you can. This doesn’t have to be for Disney, it literally should be for any theme park you wish to visit. Once things get back to a normal routine, park capacities will as well.

Theaters – Yes, movie theaters will be back in business but we are talking about Broadway theater. Whether it is in New York City or San Francisco, getting out and about the city of your choosing is an incredible way to re-integrate into the real world.

The stage business has been hard hit over the last year with hundreds and thousands without work. If you are into plays, stage performances, or even orchestra and concerts, then start making your plans now. New York City is the big destination for the United States theater industry and planning a trip to NYC can offer so much more than just a stage show. Still, it will be nice to get back to the storytelling that has been missing and simply not really as good on television.

The Beach – Whether your are going to a lake, the ocean, or the gulf coast, sun and sand is the perfect remedy for a year of being locked up inside. While many beaches around the country have been open with restrictions, let us be honest, many of us haven’t gone simply because of the restrictions in place.

I know the idea of an empty beach is enticing and for many people over the year, the beach has offered an escape and the social distancing has helped keep things more personal. A lot of us don’t live near the beach, close enough to drive to and from in one day. For those of us who are inland, the lifting of restrictions gives an opportunity to get out and hit the sand, sit back, and soak in something that isn’t enclosed by walls.

Family – I never in my life consider visiting family a vacation. I love my family but it is never a vacation, it’s a visit. With the last year of travel restrictions, there are many in my family that I have not visited. Not my brand new shiny niece or my aging inlaws. Spread our around the eastern U.S., we have all been hunkered down and waiting for normalcy and when it finally gets here, visiting family may be at the top of the list.

The question is this, is going to visit family breaking away from quarantine? Maybe, maybe not. Depending on where you may be going then it might feel as though you’re getting out but they too may be tired of seeing the same four walls as well. Maybe you should meet somewhere in between and celebrate together the freedom of not being kept.

Cruise – Cruise ships are not for everyone. There are certain types of people that love being stuck on a boat for four or five days with complete strangers while you drink and eat your way to a blissful vacation. The cruise industry has been shut down for over a year and that means those who love to cruise have been kept at home as well.

Cruise prices should be very good when they get the all-clear to sail again and like the theme parks, early cruises may see you sitting pretty without a lot of others onboard. We have to assume that initially there will some trepidation of returning to the sea but if that is what you long for, you can’t beat the potential for a half-empty ship and plenty of sunshine.