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Eager To Get Back To Traveling This Summer? Here Are Some Tips To Stay Safe And Save Money

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Avoid the roads if you can later today. It's the start of Memorial Day Weekend, and AAA predicts Chicago's worst holiday traffic will pick up before 3 p.m. this afternoon.

Travel is a hot topic now that vaccinations are opening the door to fun. CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory shares a few trip tips.

We asked CBS News Travel editor Peter Greenberg for the number one headline in travel news right now.

"There's not [just] one. That's the problem," said Greenberg, smiling.

He's very busy.

When we spoke, Greenberg was in a Tampa, Florida, hotel room; but will be taking flight to St. Maarten soon, where he'll set sail on the first Celebrity Cruises Trip from that Caribbean Island.

U.S. ports are still closed to cruise ships.

"The cruise lines aren't waiting. They're home porting their ships in Bermuda, Bahamas, St. Maarten, Greece, Iceland, and a number of other locations. Why not? And they're selling out," said Greenberg.

Cruise ships were quarantined off our coast at the beginning of the pandemic and likened to petri dishes. Now boats might be the safest travel option. Celebrity Cruises is not only advertising a fully vaccinated crew, but also requiring all passengers 16 and up be immunized. By August 1, that mandate applies to all guests 12 and older.

Speaking of shots, the fully vaccinated can now flash their vaccination card to fly to Europe. How does an inexpensive summer vacation in Paris sound?

"In many cases, business class airfare to Europe (business class!) might be cheaper than a coach class fare somewhere in the United States right now," said Greenberg, who added that masking requirements, social distancing rules, and capacity limits vary country by country.

You may have noticed that domestic travel costs are soaring, especially for rental cars, because of supply and demand. Many rental car companies pared down their fleets when COVID-19 hit, leaving them short of vehicles as travel is rebounding. Greenberg shared his Number 1 rental car tip: Never rent it at the airport.

But even a car from an Enterprise North Center location will set you back almost $600 for the holiday weekend (through Tuesday because the facility is closed Monday).

Prices may calm down when new cars come in.

"You won't see the fleet start to stabilize until November, December," Greenberg said.

Another travel warning from him: flight change fees are back (at least for basic economy trips on several airlines). His advice is to stick to your plans or upgrade your ticket.

Meanwhile, local transportation expert Joe Schwieterman, from DePaul University, just released a brief that found your best bargain is on the bus. Fares are dropping for companies like Greyhound and Megabus. The key: book at least three days in advance.

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