How About a Luxury Tour of Your Own Backyard?

Caroline Turenne, 17, of Seekonk, Massachusetts, booked a hike to Utah with G Adventures in July based on the company’s knowledge of the area.

“When we looked at Airbnb prices, we thought we’d better travel with a guide who knows the area, has the best things to do, and shows us around,” she said.

Group departures will of course be different this year. As the pandemic continues, operators are reducing group size to allow social distancing and making sure that their guides are at least tested for Covid-19 if they are not vaccinated.

“In a small group, all group guests are required to wear masks indoors or outdoors if they are unable to socially distance themselves,” said Stefanie Schmudde, vice president of product development and operations at Abercrombie & Kent, where new seven-day itineraries include custom excursions in national parks in the west (from 6,195 USD) and a winter safari in Yellowstone (from 12,495 USD). For small group departures, coaches are limited to half capacity, journeys are no larger than 18 people, and each group has their own table for meals.

A handful of operators require guests to be vaccinated, including two small US-based cruise lines, American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines. The travel company Globus and its subsidiary Cosmos and Monograms require proof of vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test before departure or proof of recovery from the virus.

With the growing number of Americans vaccinated, some companies are counting on vaccinated travelers. Collette, where the average traveler is 65, plans to resume operations in April with eight domestic trips to places like San Antonio, Texas, Utah National Parks, and a music-focused tour to Nashville, Memphis, and New Orleans.

Seniors “were at higher risk last year and are number one this year,” said Jeff Roy, executive vice president of Collette. While vaccination is not required to travel, he is confident that a majority will be and encourages them to bring their vaccination certificates. Unvaccinated travelers must provide a negative Covid-19 test result or proof of recovery from the virus within three months of the end of the tour.

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