The Ottumwa Courier

November 20, 2012

Travel plans ramp up

Southern Iowans looking for holiday getaways

Courier editor

ELDON — Thanksgiving is more than the start of the holiday shopping season, it’s also the beginning of the holiday travel season.

This year, AAA estimates slightly more Americans will hit the road — 43.6 million will travel at least 50 miles from home, up 0.7 percent from 2011.

However, airline passengers will likely be down this Thanksgiving, AAA estimates 3.14 million, down from 3.2 million last Thanksgiving.

But Shauna Snyder of Destinations by Shauna in Eldon, said there are plenty of southern Iowans who will be traveling this holiday season, especially around Christmas.

“Cruises have been very popular for me this year,” she said.

Snyder added that traditional winter getaways — Mexico, Hawaii and Walt Disney World in Florida — are still popular for southern Iowans.

“And Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic is another good alternative,” the Eldon travel agent suggests.

But Snyder is quick to point out that most of her clients scheduled their winter/holiday vacations well in advance.

“You know, maybe with some cruises, you can still book (last minute), but airfares you really have to book ahead,” she said.

How far ahead?

Travelers might want to start firming up plans for the 2013 holiday season no later than this spring, even February or March.

And while there are low-fare carriers like Allegiant and Southwest now flying out of Des Moines, Snyder hasn’t seen a great drop in prices, yet.

And while it may be too late to find a great last-minute deal for a winter getaway now, Snyder said southern Iowans may want to start planning now for summer travel.

“Alaskan cruises for sure, Europe, it’s good to book those things early,” she said.

But what about the veteran travel agent? Where does want to go on her next trip?

“I would love to go to Bora Bora ... the South Pacific is fabulous,” Snyder said.