Travel concerns push vacation prices lower

Zika Virus among travel worries

By Bruce Hamilton - The Morning Show anchor

TAMPA, Fla. - Publicity regarding terrorism, the stock market, and now the Zika virus is weighing on the minds of travelers.

Americans are encouraged  to be cautious when traveling the world, and to be aware of any health or security alerts before leaving. Although much has been made about the Zika virus, and travelers should stay informed, Federal health officials have not issued travel restrictions to those countries with active virus transmission.

“Ultimately, the decision to travel is a personal one that must be made by each individual,” said Brent Stahlheber, Sr. Vice President, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “…. Travelers are urged to follow CDC recommendations, which urges women who are pregnant - or plan to become pregnant in the near future - to consider postponing vacations to areas affected by the Zika virus. .”Although AAA has not seen an unusual surge in trip cancellations, travel agents are seeing an increase in people wishing to alter itineraries or push vacation dates back to later in the year. However, those considering a vacation this year could benefit as travel providers are responding to market concerns by cutting prices, offering some of the best valued vacation packages in quite some time.

"Traveling by car this year was already going to be more cost effective thanks to the lowest gas prices in seven years, but now people can find some really good deals across the board,” Stahlheber said. “As you might expect, we are seeing tremendous discounts to areas like the Caribbean, South America, and Europe, but there are also great deals on vacations to Canada,

The current strength of the dollar makes international travel especially affordable right now. Favorable conversion rates means Americans will get more for their money when visiting far-off destinations like Europe and Australia.

"In fact, many travelers who are uneasy about going overseas often consider Canada a great 'Plan B' because it’s not far from home, but still offers an international experience,” Stahlheber said. “Domestic destinations like Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. National Parks are also growing in popularity among travelers who want to stay within the United States."