by Jordan DeWald
Lila Glazener opened First Travel of Burleson in October of 1989. She has seen the travel agency through over three decades of changes, starting during a time where computers were not even a part of the process in travel planning. She has spent the decades building relationships with her clients, adapting to the changes in technology and economies, and grown her business through it. One thing that has remained a constant is the service she and her team can offer. Lila has a dedicated team: Amanda Weir and Sherry Cotton in the office, Judy Smyth in outside sales, and Dixie Broady who helps with the popular bus trips.
The travel industry has never faced a more difficult time than the spring and summer of 2020. The spread of Covid-19 brought on mandated closures, closed borders, a halt to leisure travel, and uncertainty for the traveler. Lila said she has never seen a time like this in her thirty years in the industry. It was not predicted and even something travel insurance did not know to account for. The team at First Travel of Burleson has been busy throughout the entire time, helping their clients recover and reschedule the investments made for travel plans. They have spent up to six hours on the phone with vendors and airlines on behalf of their clients. This is a unique service that only comes when a traveler has used a travel agent. Countless people who booked their airline tickets, trips, and hotel rooms ended up out of money and frustrated by the lack of response they got from the vendors they booked with. They have had to face the challenge on their own. The staff at First Travel has fought for their clients, proving how valuable their services are.
Many of First Travel’s clients are return customers or from word of mouth referrals. Clients continue to find benefit in the services offered and the money they save. A customer of First Travel does not pay a fee when they book a trip so an additional cost is not incurred. Instead, the client receives the benefit of First Travel’s experience and connections.
When asked what they would advise regarding travel during this time, their experience comes in handy once again. They stay in the know so they are aware of what changes are made and are up to date on what safety precautions and changes the different airlines, resorts, and other vendors have made. They have direct contact with representatives in the industry so they get a straight answer about what the current status is in the travel industry. The team also understands that it is a personal decision for each person and family regarding what they are comfortable with in regard to travel right now. They can offer personalized plans for people ready to travel now and can help others plan their travel for 2021.
Many families have decided to stay stateside in their travels, looking for locations with outside activities and house or condo rental. First Travel can help people book condos and places to stay in popular locations such as Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, AL, the Smokey Mountains, Colorado, and New Mexico. Those are easily driveable from North Texas and provide activities where people can remain socially distant.
Whether they are helping individuals, families, city officials, the local school district, or groups the team at First Travel makes each client’s travel experience a priority. It is why they have been in business for over thirty years through all of the changes and are continuing to serve their clients despite any challenges.
Staycations and Safecations
Kids have been out of school since March. Families have been home together for weeks. Adults have faced a variety of stressors. If there was ever a time that people were needing a summer vacation, it is now! Unfortunately, the threat of Covid-19 is still present leaving people wondering if they’ll be able to do any traveling over the next few months. The good news is if a person is comfortable with traveling most stateside attractions and locations are opening up and ready for visitors.
How will you get there?
Consider whether or not you want to drive or if you are comfortable with flying. Many people still have concerns about airline travel. Most airlines are taking significant precautions though, making them a safe option. A travel agency would be able to help you research what airline you would feel most comfortable with, find a low rate and help you in case the need for a cancellation arises.
Road trips are a popular option right now, as gas prices are significantly lower than typical summers. When taking the family car, travelers control with whom they share a closed space and can get to several locations with ease. A rental or purchase of a Recreational Vehicles is another option, allowing for even greater social distancing from other travelers at hotels or rest stops.
Where will you go?
Many travelers are choosing to stay stateside, according to the staff at First Travel of Burleson. Every state in the United States is open for visitors and a good portion of the country is easily driveable from North Texas. Be sure to check the most up to date restrictions and allowances each location has. Make sure you are aware of what phase of reopening the state is in because that could limit your activities. Different counties and cities within a state may be allowed to make their own regulations so pay attention at each stop you make.
Places with outdoor activities are safe options that can allow for social distancing. Beaches, national parks, rivers, or the mountains are great spots for a vacation and are all easily driveable from North Texas. An outdoor activity allows someone to stay further away from people and reports show that the disease is spread less easily outside rather than in a confined space. Plus, being outside is great for mental clarity and physical activity which is needed after a stressful spring.
Where will you stay?
Once you have chosen a location, the next step is to find a place to stay. Consider what you w\ill use the lodging for. Are you planning to only sleep there or will you spend most of your time at that spot? For people looking to take extra precautions when they travel, a good option is to rent a house or condo. There the group can cook their own meals, avoid lobbies and elevators, and have a place to spend time when other activities are limited.
What should you pack?
Traveling during Covid-19 will mean you need to pack some extra items. Keep your own stock of hand sanitizer, paper towels, and disinfecting wipes. You do not want to be without those items if your destination does not provide them. You will also need to pack a mask, as many places are recommending them if not requiring them. It will also make other fellow travelers feel more at ease and reduces the chance you could unknowingly infect someone else. Pack as many items from home as you can to reduce the amount of shopping you have to do. Double-check your toiletries, medications, and what items you’ll need at the destination. Remember some items are being restocked at a slower rate. You do not want to have to go hunting for items when you’re on vacation.
Whether you choose to make this summer’s vacation a “staycation” or a “safecation,” following the recommended guidelines by the CDC can make your trip a fun experience with great memories even in the midst of an outbreak. Go with a good attitude and be ready to be flexible.