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Family Focus: Here are top ways to salvage your family travel plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Start planning by joining email alert lists, look for summer deals now and get familiar with hotels' sanitary policies for your next trip.

TOLEDO, Ohio — The COVID-19 pandemic really did a number on our travel plans in 2020, but there are ways to salvage your family travel plans in the new year.

A recent survey, commissioned by Hilton, reveals that 95% of Americans are missing travel right now, and 188 million reported they are experiencing a "travel memory deficit."

Travel expert Samantha Brown says travel memory deficit plays off the notion that "our travel memories are our fondest memories that we have and actually become family heirlooms that we keep and we pass down to others. Travel memories strengthen the bonds of friendship and family, they reinforce our own sense of self and we feel that loss after a year of not having traveled."

Brown says one way to start salvaging your year is to get on email alert lists, maybe travel magazines or those you find on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. She says it's also a great time to start planning summer travel because there are many deals to be had.

You should also think about trips that stretch your sense of adventure and not just reminiscing about the past. You want to be optimistic about what's ahead.

Of course, asking about sanitary policies at hotels will keep you healthy while traveling. For example, Hilton Hotels have a clean stay program, which Brown say is " a collaboration with Lysol as well as the Mayo Clinic which brings hospital-grade sanitizing practices to your hotel stay."

For anyone traveling, you'll also want to keep the three W's in mind:  wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands.  

And finally, think of traveling as an economic stimulus that you have a hand in because travelers and the money they spend are vital to our local economies.