Enjoying Your Options

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

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.

  • Albania
  • Belarus
  • Brazil (health insurance covering Covid is required)
  • Dominican Republic (passengers will be randomly selected for a breath test)
  • Kosovo
  • Maldives (confirmed hotel required)
  • Malta (only if you spend 14 days in an approved country first)
  • Mexico (travelers must arrive by plane)
  • North Macedonia
  • Serbia
  • Tanzania (health screening may include a test on arrival)
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey

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
  • Aruba
  • Armenia
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Costa Rica (only visitors from select states are allowed)
  • Croatia (with proof of booked accommodation)
  • Dominica
  • Dubai
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • French Polynesia
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya (travelers from California, Florida, and Texas must quarantine for 14 days)
  • Montenegro
  • Rwanda
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Barts
  • St. Maarten
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • The Seychelles
  • 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.

Bon Voyage!

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Is it time now?

Dear All,

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!

Cheers and God bless you!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

Testing on Cruises

Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

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!

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

What is your journey?

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Dear All,

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.

Cheers,

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

Free Excursions

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

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.

Cheers!

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

Feeling Violated

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Dear All,

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.

Be safe and well.

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Blogs @ http://www.travelwithrosana.com

Ferris Wheel Ride

fair-4003075_640Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

Those who don’t feel like you are riding a Ferris Wheel during these pandemic times, raise your hand!

I need to be honest and share some feelings I had last week – especially when I heard that New Zealand was celebrating 100 days with not even one case of Covid.  At first I was jealous, then I shared with my husband the idea of moving to New Zealand. Yes, I got this beautiful sense of high, imagining that somehow I could get my “old” life back and live Covid free. Sure, I didn’t think about immigration laws and where exactly we would live, but playing with the idea made me feel good again.

Then, as you have probably heard, New Zealand began to get Covid cases again and my dreams of moving to this Covid- free country went down the drain.

How about trying to book a cruise? Every single cruise line is postponing their departure dates, some will resume only by the middle of 2021. Europe is concerned about the increase of Covid cases based on incoming travelers.

I still believe that the best cure for these ups and downs is traveling. If you are not ready to take a plane, travel locally.  Either way, make a list of places in the US and go visit. Rent an RV or rent a big car, stay close to nature, there are wonderful places to visit. Disconnect from everything else and just get the good energy of a fun vacation. Staying in the US has many advantages: you can speak the language, you understand the culture (or try to, LOL!) and you’ll have the opportunity to realize how big this country really is. Maybe you can even ride a real Ferris Wheel!

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Why charge a fee?

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

In my last blog, I mentioned charging fees for creating or helping to create an itinerary for your clients. In this blog, I want to focus on why you should (if you are not doing so yet) and how to do it.

Allow me to disclose that I have read many posts in different groups discouraging travel agents/advisors from putting together itineraries for RVs lovers and clients who prefer to drive to enjoy their vacation because the commission from the hotels would not justify the load of work being done by the agent.

It does require tremendous work and knowledge to put together the best itinerary for a family who wants to drive from one place to eventually arrive someplace else. Where do they stop for bathroom breaks? Which gas stations can they feel safe stopping at, and at the same time, find a place to eat? Which hotels along the route offer the best and safest amenities? What are the safest places to visit including parks, hiking places, and other activities based on interest and age of the clients?

That is a lot of work, and I am sure a smart client or prospective one would be thrilled to pay someone who knows what he/she is doing to put all that together. The same thing goes when a client comes with a budget of let’s say $5,000 and wants to go to 4 countries in Europe and wants a complete itinerary. Why should you work for free?

Don’t put your knowledge, time, and effort into creating an itinerary for a client, expecting to make commission only IF the client/prospective doesn’t change their minds or cancels to do something else. Who likes to work for free?

I have compared the work of a travel agent/advisor to that of a doctor or an attorney many times. For those who don’t believe I should use that comparison, let me give you another example so maybe you will feel better about charging for your work. Now that many schools around the country will be closed because of Covid, who will you trust to be home with your children?  ANY adult or teenager, or a person who is better qualified to guide your kids with home schooling? I am sure that many young adults or adults with experience in math, English and teaching will be in great demand to watch kids and parents will pay for that – because it is worth it.

The same idea goes for a safe and fun vacation.

Don’t be afraid to charge for your time and knowledge. When you value yourself, clients and prospective ones will follow you!

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Cabin Fever

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

People who haven’t traveled at all this year are getting antsy, impatient, and irritated. Am I the only one who is noticing that?

August is starting, and those who have had their travel canceled, their dreams shattered, are stuck with Zoom meetings for most of their social interaction.

Actually, Zoom is a great tool to bring people together, and if you are careful enough, you can wear a nice top with pajama bottoms and nobody will know. Nicely comb your hair, do a little grooming and add some makeup (for women) and you are ready to go. Very convenient! But after 5 months of Zoom meetings, people seem to be getting less careful, or maybe they’re just tired of it. My last Zoom was very distracting, there were all kind of noises in the background, 2  people fell asleep (seriously, one was sitting down on a sofa), and 2 were doing Zoom laying down in bed. It was really hard to concentrate on the discussion. FYI – it was not a Happy Hour Zoom! LOL!

People are so ready for some type of vacation. They really need an expert to help them to do it safely. Think about promoting and charging for your expertise (if you haven’t done so yet). Putting an itinerary together takes time, even if it is a self-drive trip. Maybe you are not getting a commission, but you certainly deserve to charge upfront for your knowledge.

I believe in you! Your clients trust you. Do for yourself what is right: help your clients travel safe – and like a doctor or an attorney, charge them for your expertise.

I’ll have more about this topic – don’t miss my blog next week!

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Blogs http://www.travelwithrosana.com

 

The Experience of 2020

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Dear Travel Agents/Advisors,

I truly believe that in life you win or you learn. I do not believe in defeat and I avoid negative thoughts and negative people – PERIOD! The only negative people I like are the Covid-negative ones!

We don’t need a blog to tell us what a difficult year we are having. I leave memes about 2020 for the incredible people out there to create. My intention here is to bring some light to the end of the tunnel for those who are having a hard time seeing it. I admire those who are using every skill they possess to improve themselves, and who are taking this year as a gift as much as they can.

I for example, love to read books, mostly whodunnits and novels – this helps me escape reality, and it brings me happiness when I build my bucket list of places to visit based on those books.

My bucket list is not dead, kicked down the road, in the toilet, or being used in the garden; it is very much alive in my head and in my daydreams, and ready for when it is safe to go ahead stronger and with more purpose than before. We have ALL somehow been touched by the COVID experience, and now more than ever, understand how life is precious and fragile. The only thing that we know for sure in life is that one day we will be dead – in the meantime, it is our obligation to make the best of it.

For most of us, I can say for sure, the best of life involves travel. Travel when you feel safe but until then, be strong and build your bucket lists. Read books, watch movies, eat ethnic foods, experience the world with all of your senses, and believe that the light at the end of the tunnel is closer than your fear tells you it is.

Find your blessings and keep your bucket list ready to go. I am your cheerleader!

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