Pack Your Bags: Winter Travel Seeing an Uptick

Egypt on your travel bucket list? This might be the perfect year to see the pyramids.

By Steve Dinnen

Karla Urwitz is packing her bags for a flight next week to Cairo, Egypt.

To be fair, Urwitz is a professional traveler. She owns BWK Travel,, and is jetting to Egypt to size it up as a destination for her clients. It doesn’t hurt that she gets to explore the pyramids amid 70-degree daytime temperatures. At this time of year, she’s booking a lot of trips to Jamaica and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. And of course, Mexico is open for business. (The country worked hard to avoid shutting down during the pandemic.)

“I think people are more comfortable and tired of hiding,” Urwitz said of a rebound in travel.

Cruising is also seeing an uptick, she said. COVID-imposed restrictions and masking have pretty much fallen by the wayside. Tapping into the cruise market, American Airlines offers seasonal nonstop service from Des Moines to Miami, the jumping-off point for cruising. Take care when booking; these flights, which operate only on Saturdays to and from Miami, can run as little as $567 or as high as $1,680. Allegiant also has direct flights to Fort Lauderdale with Monday and Friday departures.

Des Moines residents are also spreading their wings farther abroad, Urwitz said. She has booked two groups to Italy and another to Denmark. She has also seen renewed interest in Japan, which at this time last year was battling COVID and managing the Winter Olympics.

Urwitz has seen zero interest in China, perhaps for good measure. It’s experiencing a surge in COVID. (I personally have spoken with three Chinese nationals living in Des Moines, and all report COVID is rampant among their family members back home.) The United States is in the process of reintroducing compulsory preflight COVID tests for people traveling from China.

Colombia is a “little iffy,” said Urwitz, and at this time she said she would not recommend travel to Cuba.

Cuba aside, Des Moines people are traveling. And they’re heading for the sun; for proof,  just check the departure board at Des Moines International Airport. Fully a quarter of its nonstop destinations are to cities in Florida. Add in Sun Belt destinations in Arizona, California and Texas, and the total rises to one-half.

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