COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — After years of disappointment and travel cancellations due to COVID-19, people are increasingly booking vacations now.

“January and February are peak booking times for travel every single year, and believe it or not, this year is no exception,” says Kimberly Schwind, Director of Public Affairs for AAA. “People have a pent-up demand for travel, and they want to get away.”

As Q3 and Q4 fill up, some destinations are opening bookings for 2023, Schwind explained. Meanwhile, spots are filling up for domestic travel, including destinations like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, vacation houses, and RV rentals.

“The travel agent can be your advocate,” said Schwind. “During the booking process, before your vacation, and even during your vacation should something go wrong.”

The pandemic has complicated travel, bringing in new requirements around COVID-19 testing and vaccination. Schwind advises that travelers understand the cancellation policies regarding refunds and rebooking.

Before COVID-19, travel insurance didn’t include pandemics or epidemics. Make sure your policy has been modernized and purchase travel insurance that takes COVID into account.

“AAA did a recent survey and found that about a third of travelers say that they’re more likely to purchase travel insurance because of the pandemic,” said Schwind. “And the ability to cancel a trip and get a refund is by far the most frequently cited benefit of travel insurance. Sixty-nine percent of travelers say that’s what’s most important to them when considering travel insurance.

“Not all travel insurance policies include that so you need to make sure that your travel insurance policy includes a ‘cancel for any reason’ component.”

Travel agents now operate remotely with video chats, plus AAA shops are open for people who prefer to see a travel agent face-to-face, and the service is free, Schwind said. The AAA January travel expo on Jan. 15 and 16 will be remote this year.