In last week’s blog I spoke about some international places that I recommend for Travel Lovers. Some of you commented about other places like Tanzania and Egypt. I like them a lot and I would recommend them as well.
I was really hoping for more input from you, travel experts, about other places you recommend to your clients.
Now, I want to suggest some places in the US for those who are Travel Lovers but feel safer staying in the country; maybe traveling by car or RV, or flying a shorter distance. Here is my list and again, I appreciate your input.
PARK CITY/DEER VALLEY:
Top ski destination in general, and Deer Valley always limits the number of people on the mountains.
Great properties to chose from with residential/villa-style feel.
Easy to get to with direct flights
Quick and easy flights
Great for getting out in nature (what people are looking for if you live in a city)
Good option for active families (particularly skiers)
Aspen is very popular right now. Most lively and luxe options in Colorado.
Drivable from both San Francisco and Los Angeles
Great hotel and villa selections (particularly homes on the lake)
Family oriented destination
Florida is an alternative for those looking for warm weather but not wanting to go to the Caribbean.
I would love to hear other options from you. Travel lovers are always looking for safe options to continue enjoying life. They truly understand that life should be lived to the fullest and every day is a gift.
We are at the end of October of the very long and infinite year of 2020, (it seems like we started this year 5 years ago!) and I want to address Travel Lovers.
Based on my personal opinion that it is better to travel safely than to be home miserably, I want to mention places that Travel Lovers can take advantage of and have a good time. Croatia is still a great choice where cases of Covid are very low. Travelers need proof of a hotel reservation. In Croatia, they can also book a cruise from Katarina Line from April to the end of October. They have over 60 vessels and have been family owned since 1992. Cruises visit Dubrovnik, Split and many other towns. People there are very friendly. Croatia is located in Central and Southeast Europe, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. It borders Hungary to the northeast, Serbia to the east, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro to the southeast, and Slovenia to the northwest. Traveling via border to those countries is open (please always confirm prior to travel date) and most of those countries are using safety measures for Covid 19.
There are countries in South America open for Tourism like Brazil and Peru. Even though the cases of Covid are still higher, using a good DMC in those countries will assure the safety of the trip.
As I believe, life is to be lived safely, and to be enjoyed humbly. For Travel Lovers, there is always a safe way to enjoy life: trusting the work of an exceptional travel agent/advisor who will match you up to an exceptional DMC in the foreign country.
I want to talk about the situation with travel now, and in the near future. How are your clients behaving with booking trips now? Are they booking travel for 2021 or 2022?
I know many people are scared to travel because of Covid. Meanwhile, there are incredible deals on flights, future cruises, and many countries are now opening for tourism.
When approaching your clients and asking if they are ready to book a trip, take the time to listen carefully to their answers. Pay attention to their concerns. For example, if they say that they are not ready to buy a ticket to London for New Year’s because they don’t know if the airline will still be in business, or if London will be hit with a third wave of Covid, those are real FEARS and the easiest way to address them is by offering travel insurance.
Anxiety on the other hand, can be much more difficult to deal with. The person sounds more vague, with no acceptance of any ideas. An anxious person can’t explain their reasons not to book a trip, but with every suggestion there is a reaction of overwhelming negativity.
I am not trying to be a therapist here, but I am making sure that once you, the travel agent/advisor, listens carefully to your client and understands that you are dealing with fear, you can offer tools so your client can book a safe trip and have something to look forward to. Meanwhile if your client is having anxiety, it may better to send a nice card that says, “Thinking of you” and let them find a good therapist and/or psychiatrist to help them get through these hard times.
We know that many therapists and psychiatrists are now working overtime. It is undoubtedly a very tough time for many people.
I am not judging your clients. I am just making sure that travel agents/advisors can be successful during this time by listening carefully and helping those who have fears and by respecting and giving space to the anxious ones. Know they will come back to you later when they are ready.
I have over 800 followers and over 4,700 “friends” on my Facebook. It is not private, and anyone who googles or finds my name can check me out and read my postings and weekly blogs.
After I left my tour company with over 25 years of experience in travel, I decided to give back – or pay it forward to all the travel agents I have served (both the ones I knew personally and the ones I didn’t) by offering guidance and cheering them up.
Truly, this has been a blessing for me. Every week I think about what I should write (especially now, during the pandemic). I get messages and emails from travel agents/advisors and DMCs from other countries telling me how much they appreciate my enthusiasm and guidance.
This is a tough time for everyone. Not only for businesses, but many people, including me, are going through personal problems. A smile, a message, or even a “like” on a post or on a blog makes a great difference in someone’s day.
A “like” makes a great difference in someone’s day.
I have often heard people say that they like certain posts, or that they’ve seen a post. Why not click a feeling under it? That is the only way I/we know you’ve read it.
During this Covid period I have been stressing the importance of using travel experts, giving tips on how to build your businesses stronger, and create a bigger clientele by promoting how good you are.
Now (if you haven’t started already) it is time to show your prospective and regular clients where they can travel and feel good about it.
Before I give you the list of countries that you can offer them, let me make two observations:
1) I see that the younger generation is very protective towards their seniors. When Covid started, my husband and I became very protective of my 90-year-old mother in law. She is very independent and got very depressed from being confined inside her home. She told us she would rather go to the supermarket and take the risk of dying even after taking all the necessary precautions, rather than being miserable at home all the time. We listened to her wishes and going to the supermarket makes her very happy, and so far, she has been very healthy.
Keep this in mind when talking to your clients. If they take the proper measures, they can enjoy life and be happy, despite their loved ones worrying so much.
2) If you haven’t heard yet, there are flights and cruises to nowhere for those who want to just “put their toes in the water” but are not yet ready to go swimming. Check those out, see where they are available, and maybe you have the kind of clients interested in that.
Now, a list of countries where US citizens don’t need to quarantine. This list can change at any time, so make sure it is accurate before booking your clients.
Where US citizens can visit with no testing or quarantine required
Note that though a test isn’t required, you may be tested upon arrival (randomly, or if you’re showing symptoms) and asked to isolate until you get your results. If you’re sick and do need to quarantine, it may be at your own expense.
Brazil (health insurance covering Covid is required)
Dominican Republic (passengers will be randomly selected for a breath test)
Maldives (confirmed hotel required)
Malta (only if you spend 14 days in an approved country first)
Mexico (travelers must arrive by plane)
Tanzania (health screening may include a test on arrival)
Where US citizens can visit with a negative Covid test and no quarantine required
Testing rules are all over the place. Some countries require a negative test from the last 72 hours while some allow tests that are five days old; some require a test before you board, and others test on arrival. In some countries, a single test is all that’s needed and in others you may need to be tested again depending on the length of your stay. Bottom line: check each country’s requirements carefully.
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Costa Rica (only visitors from select states are allowed)
Croatia (with proof of booked accommodation)
Kenya (travelers from California, Florida, and Texas must quarantine for 14 days)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Turks and Caicos
Additionally, Belize, El Salvador, and Namibia have announced plans to reopen soon. Unfortunately, at this time there’s no word on when other countries, including those in the EU, may begin welcoming Americans again.
For those who feel resilient and uplifted, this is not a blog for you!
I am writing to those who are truly feeling “When is this going to be over?” “What is really the new normal?” “What facts do scientists know?” “Am I going to be happy again?” – and thoughts like that.
If you are asking any of the questions above, despite what you tell others or post on your social media, I recommend you read this. Feel free to comment, like it, or “pretend” you didn’t see it 😜.
For those who feel sad, let me tell you that you are not alone. Psychiatrists and psychologists are working full time. Divorce attorneys are being called, people are gaining weight and drinking booze like there is no tomorrow. The sales of cigarettes and vapes is going up. Americans are not welcome in lots of countries because of Covid, so traveling is prohibited for those who used to travel to recharge from stressful times.
I encourage each of everyone to verify the information I’ve provided. Check which countries prohibit Americans flying into them, especially those that have safer levels of Covid. Check how psychiatrists and psychologists are busy dealing with patients. Also see the news about the increased sales of booze, cigarettes and vapes.
Let me give you the good news now: Everyone who was born without the gene called “patience” and have a hard time “seeing” the light at the end of the tunnel, should remember that time will pass and when we all least expect it (even though it seems like light years from today) we will be in a much better place!
We have good news to share about rapid tests being approved for cruise lines once they reopen for the United States. This is really the silver lining for cruise lovers.
So far, cruise passengers have experienced 3 different approaches:
1- The one we have all heard about has no tests, only temperature checks and passenger screening questions: the most famous case of this was the Hurtigruten cruise line outbreak where many got Covid and they had to cancel all cruises.
2- When testing 72 or 48 hours before a cruise, many found out about their results once they had already sailed out. One cruise line partner of RCL had a passenger who got positive test results for Covid once they were already arriving in Alaska. They had to come back. Once they retested everyone, even the person who got positive results was then negative (false positive) but by then, they had already cancelled all their Alaska season.
3- MSC was checking all passengers before embarking and since the test did not have rapid results, the boarding was taking over 3 hours. Once everyone was on the cruise, all passengers were kept in a bubble, meaning all excursions could only be done by the cruise line. There was one French passenger who tested positive for Covid, and his embarkation was declined, together with his whole family.
Royal Caribbean group, including Celebrity, Silversea and Azamara stated that they very likely will be using the rapid test. Norwegian will be doing the same.
Carnival Group was less explicit about what they will be doing but they are already using rapid tests for Costa Cruises (Italy) and Aida Cruises (Germany).
Virgin will definitely use the rapid tests.
We should keep in mind that rapid tests are never 100% accurate; with a false positive all your group can miss the embarkation, and most Travel Insurance policies do not include missing a trip because of Covid.
I predict that cruises will come back even better than before, and cruise lovers will be able to enjoy life at sea!
Life is a great journey and a beautiful trip. We are in charge, and we create own journey and our own trips (safely, and with the help of experts).
We are not in this life to compete with others, nor are we here to prove to others that ours is better than theirs (despite what social media tries to show).
Each and every person is in this life (especially now with this pandemic) trying to do our best, finding our best path in life and in travel, the one that will make us feel the happiest.
As I have said so many times before, nobody leaves this life alive – but between now and then we owe it to ourselves to be happy and to do what feels right.
Laugh like there is no tomorrow, love yourself first in order to love someone else, don’t rush towards anything and don’t feel pressure to prove anything to anyone. Pause, breathe, and smile. Smell the coffee and the roses, connect to all sorts of people and all cultures. Live with a pure heart, and most importantly, do what your heart tells you to do.
Who cares what others will think of you! Care how you see yourself and explore this beautiful world because you are unique!
This is to you, to every individual who cares about life, travel and happiness.
As I read about the family that was kicked off of a MSC ship in Europe because they didn’t follow protocols and decided to take their “own” excursion at one of the ports, I started to wonder how Americans will feel about having to book all their excursions through the cruise line.
As a cruise lover and a cruise addict myself, I know my husband and I enjoy private excursions. We get recommendations of great tour guides in different cities and enjoy being selfish and going to places that we choose, and not having to wait for the last of the other passenger to ask all their questions, go to the toilet or buy a new souvenir. Honestly, we don’t like those bus excursions – even if they give them to us for free.
It makes complete sense though, that with the pandemic still not totally in control, cruise lines are trying to foresee any possible situation that could bring in outside contagion, such as cruisers going on private excursions and not being careful.
I believe travel agents/advisors should make sure that these are the precautions that all cruises are taking and advise your clients. Many Americans feel like me and prefer to save money and explore the port/city by themselves with a map and speaking to locals. Lots of cruisers do this in the Caribbean.
Apply the same idea and make sure to understand about the concept of “free time” on land group packages. Do travelers have really free time or free days to explore on their own, or will that be monitored as well?
The last thing travel agents need is to deal with regretful clients demanding refunds because they had to spend “extra” on excursions or tours when they did not expect to. Let it all be known in advance to avoid inconvenience and headaches.
This is for all who have felt my pain and for those who haven’t experienced the same situation yet, and hopefully never will. Social media is a great tool, FREE if you are not paying for advertising, and basically you can post most of your opinions.
Unfortunately, not everyone who comes to social media has the same good intentions.
Late last Friday afternoon I got a message from a follower on Instagram telling me that someone had cloned my account and was using my personal pictures and asking for money for a relief fund. Honestly, my first thought was that their message was fake (why not, there is so much fake news all the time, right?)
So, I checked my name and found “my other account” – one that I didn’t create. I thanked my follower and started to work on how to report the cloned account.
There is no phone number or email to communicate with anyone at social media companies. It is not easy to report this kind of situation, especially when you are feeling so violated.
I reported the problem account through the few options that the social media company offered, and they said that they would check it out.
Meanwhile, the other “Rosana” befriended my friends and followers. I saw my personal friends and family following that account, and over 80 of my followers being followed by that account.
I was feeling more and more violated.
I contacted all the people following and followers of my cloned account and advised them what had happened. I asked them to please report the issue and block that account. Also – to keep reporting it every hour. I got very nice responses from my followers and people being followed. That was the silver lining of this whole experience. By the next morning the cloned account was gone.
My suggestion is that if this happens to you, be proactive and keep reporting it. Ask your friends and followers to report it. Unfortunately, there is no one you can talk to at the social media companies to take care of you. You need to care for yourself. Be kind, be your own best advocate, and believe that most people on social media are nice and caring, like you are.