It’s that time of year when we get antsy — and travel agents get busy.

“Snow and ice are always good for our business, no question,” said local agent, Dean Burtch.

Simply planning a vacation for later in the year can send our souls on an immediate one.

“Someplace warm,” said Jody Valentine, another local agent. “This time of year it’s Caribbean destinations, Mexico…”

At Allied Travel in Johnston, things are good right now, but bring up the past and the mood turns. The pandemic pain is still fresh.

“I don’t know if I can describe it to you without getting emotional,” said Valentine, holding back tears.

“We did have to furlough all of our employees,” Burtch adds.

“A lot of agents just said ‘we’re not doing this anymore’, closed their doors, and found something else to do,” Valentine said.

“I think that we are really the only travel agency, brick and mortar, left open in Des Moines,” Burtch said.

If the pandemic is over, its aftershock certainly isn’t. Around the world, labor is still scarce, resorts are full, prices are up.

And then there are the airlines.

“The schedules we were seeing before the pandemic are a lot more limited now than they were before,” said Valentine.

And despite it all, demand is still sky high. Americans bought more travel last year than in 2019.

Tails around here are still being chased.

“We really need to see what happens in 2023 to gauge how much business is back,” Burtch said. But right now it’s hard for us to even keep up with answering the phones.”

Some parting advice, from those who’ve seen a thing or two:

Even if you’re dying to get out of this snow, ice, slush, cold — don’t rush.

“Book far in advance,” said Valentine. “When you return from spring break this year, book spring break for next year.”

“Last-minute deals, at least in the first half of 2023, are not gonna be available,” said Burtch. “There just is no space.”

A few more tips from the experts:

-Check your passports now. For many of us, it’s been a while since we’ve used them.

-Consider Mexico. It’s still the best international deal out of Iowa.

-And use a travel agent! They rarely cost more than booking the trip yourself and their knowledge and service can improve every part of your vacation.