HOUSTON - If you have the itch to travel, you may be able to take up to a $4000 tax credit for taking a vacation. President Trump is pushing a proposal aimed at resuscitating the hard-hit travel industry.
The U.S. Travel Association says a study shows spending on travel is expected to be nine times worse this year than it was after 9-11. But they're hoping the proposed Explore America tax credit could turn things around.
AAA Texas says people are starting to make some travel plans again, especially for road trips or hitting the rails.
"Our AAA agents are finding a lot of people really want to do rail journeys, whether that's through the Grand Canyon or other national parks. It's a great way to do social distancing," said Josh Zuber with AAA Texas.
Others are rebooking bigger trips for late this year or next year.
"We're getting a lot of interest for Mexico, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand for later this year, and next year European travel seems to be a popular destination," said Zuber.
But travel spending is expected to be down 45% this year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. President Trump is pushing for Congress to pass a proposed travel tax credit, the Explore America credit. It has travelers and the travel industry buzzing.
Here's how it would work: You could write off 50% of your expenses for travel within the U.S. for airfare, hotels, car rentals, theme parks, and restaurants, up to a total of $4000. It would be for trips taken through 2021.
AAA offers travel planning resources and the latest on COVID-19 travel restrictions through the following links:
• For road trip ideas around the country: https://www.aaa.com/roadtrips/
• For the latest COVID-19 travel restrictions and to plan road trips to attractions, campgrounds, hotels, gas stations and more: https://triptik.aaa.com/
• AAA Travel Guides have a numerous ideas when planning a trip: https://www.aaa.com/travelguides/
• AAA Diamond program has a team of inspectors which visits thousands of hotels and restaurants across North America: https://www.aaa.com/diamonds/
AAA also offers these tips to help you stay safe and healthy while traveling:
• Plan in advance
• Pack extra food
• Hand sanitizer
• Disinfectant wipes/spray
• Disposable gloves
• Remember to be patient and plan extra time to get to your destination
At rest stops
When you stop along the way at a restaurant or rest stop, be sure not to touch anything. Wear gloves or use a tissue or disinfectant wipe. After you wash your hands, be sure to put a barrier between your hand and faucets as well as door handles. Keeping cleanliness at top of mind is paramount right now.
At gas stations
When stopping for gas, use disposable gloves or something between your hand and the nozzle handle. If you don’t have gloves, you can use a plastic sandwich bag to put your hand in and use that as a barrier.
Also, use a credit card instead of cash. By paying at the pump with plastic, you’re minimizing contact with gas station attendants. Be sure to wipe down the credit card with a disinfectant wipe when done. These tips can keep you safe on your journey.
Make sure you know what’s open.
If restaurants offer in-house dining, keep in mind there may be longer lines and longer waits due to reduced maximum capacity limits in dining rooms, so you want to anticipate that.
Stopping at places that have drive-thrus or offer curbside pick-up is your best bet, so you can maximize your time and minimize the amount of contact you have with others while on the road.
Packing extra food is helpful so you can minimize those stops
Or, pack food for a picnic to enjoy time with your family along your journey. Everyone is looking forward to being in the great outdoors again and a picnic stop could be a great way to have fun and also eat while on the road.
Call ahead to make sure they’re open.
Understand what the hotel’s safety protocols are.
• Using electrostatic disinfectant sprayers
• Cleaning common areas more frequently
• Enforcing social distancing on the properties
• Using contactless key entry methods
• And sanitizing rooms and making sure nobody enters them after they’ve been cleaned
Make sure when you do get in the room for the first time:
Clean some of the main surfaces yourself with sanitizing wipes or spray. Wipe down tabletops, sinks, and bathroom counters. Also clean other things that may not get as cleaned as well, including door handles, light switches, locks, key chains and the remote control. A sandwich or quart-size plastic bag could come in handy by using it to put the remote control in and keep your hands off the remote but still be able to use it to operate the tv.