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Cold Weather Heats Up Business for Area Travel Agencies

by on January 29, 2014 1:45 PM

With State College experiencing bracing cold and bitter wind chills, phones are ringing off the hook at travel agencies.

People are desperate to escape to warmer weather.

"Cold makes our phones ring," says Ray McGill, owner of Nittany Travel, located on East College Avenue. "When it's zero, people want to get out of dodge."

McGill says most customers are looking for anything warm, adding that the Caribbean is a popular destination this time of year. With an eye toward spring break, customers are searching for deals during what people in the travel business call the "wave season" - the time of year when cruise liners and hotels offer low rates.

"It's good for travel business for sure," says Yvonne Smith, a travel agent at One 2 One Travel in State College, She lists Cancun, Dominican Republic, Florida, and Belize, a small country located just south of Mexico, as popular destinations. "People get tired of the cold and many hours of darkness - including myself."

Both McGill and Smith say that while booking travel plans online may seem like the fastest and cheapest option, travel agencies can help make your trip a better experience. Heavy snowfall and bad weather often cause delays -- disrupting car rentals and hotel plans. Travel agencies can rearrange reservations for you, taking the stress out of your vacation.

"People often find that online is not quite as easy as they thought," says McGill. "Our slogan is 'we've been there,' which means we can can offer you first hand advice and recommendations."

Sandy Berardis, travel specialist at Kish Travel, says couples who routinely travel to Florida this time of year are asking to head farther south to escape the Sunshine State's unseasonably cold temperatures. Business people are calling up to see if they can squeeze in a quick get-away before the next round of frigid temperatures roll in.

One couple tried to plan a trip to Hawaii last year, but it ultimately fell through, Berardis says. When they called to make new arrangements this year, the couple told Berardis they didn't care where they go, just as long as it's warm. They would even travel as far as Costa Rica.

"I don't see this many people want to get away right now in March," says Berardis, noting that chilly weather drives business. "People are coming up to me in restaurants and saying, 'can you get us away?'"

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C.J. Doon is a frequent contributor to Onward State. A Long Island native, Doon is studying print journalism at Penn State.
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