More than 1 million travelers passed through U.S. airports over four consecutive days this weekend as Spring Break got underway — even as officials urged vacationers to stay home.
The TSA screened more than 1.35 million people on Friday, followed by about 1.34 million people on Sunday, 1.28 million people on Thursday, and 1.22 million people on Saturday, according to the agency. The passenger numbers were about half of what the agency saw for the same days in 2019, but represented the most travelers to pass through security since the pandemic stymied travel last year.
While the travel numbers are significant, airline passenger demand was still down 63% in January, Reuters reported.
Despite warnings from officials to stay home as the country continues to record COVID-19 cases — including Dr. Anthony Fauci telling Spring Breakers "don't put your guard down completely" — travelers are nonetheless taking advantage of loosening restrictions and remote learning to plan a vacation — even buying out all of Disney World's reservations.
One college traveller in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, told Business Insider he planned a trip with friends after his school's Spring Break was cancelled, going on a bar crawl — at least until the 11 p.m. pandemic-era curfew ended his night.
"I thought, 'Why not just go?'" he told Insider. "The virus has been going on for a while now, so I might as well go because it's not going to end anytime soon."
Another college student said she was planning to drive from Houston to Colorado to spend time with friends, adding she was "over" the pandemic. Yet another college student told Insider she booked a trip to Fort Lauderdale with a group of friends, laptops in tow to attend remote classes by the pool.
While many are traveling, at least one school in California is paying students not to go on Spring Break. The University of California, Davis said it would pay students $75 if they agree to stay home.
For those who do choose not to travel, there are ways to get away while remaining closer to home. Try booking a staycation or take advantage of warming temperatures to turn your backyard into a vacation-esque escape.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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