Categories
COVID Travel

Traveling During COVID

Some folks said I was crazy to start a travel agency in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We opened on December 2, 2020. I felt it was time to go out on my own (I came from a brick-and-mortar travel agency) as travel started to open back up.  Although the pandemic continues to plague our planet, we have learned how to help those that want to travel with all the restrictions, regulations, and mandates.  Over the last 2 years of the pandemic, we have sent many clients on trips all over the world, and we have traveled to many countries ourselves.  Here are some tips we advise our clients:

  • Use a Travel Advisor – Did you know that we at Hey Hey Vacay do not charge any service fees for vacation packages?  That means using our professional travel services does not cost any more to do all your travel plans (air, hotel, car rental, tours, resorts, cruises, etc.) than if you did all of that yourself.   In our earlier article, we explained why a travel advisor is the best option when planning your trip.
  • Plan Early – If you start early, we can advise you which destinations are the easiest to visit and give you options.  If you know where you want to go, planning early gives us time to research the COVID testing/vaccine requirements. 
  • Get Travel Insurance – This is one area where, 2 years ago, many people were skeptical on the benefit.  Today, almost 100% of our clients purchase travel insurance.  Traveling during a pandemic is challenging enough.  Having the coverage in case something goes wrong is a huge piece of mind and protects your investment.  We have had clients test positive just days before departing on their vacation.  Without insurance, they could have lost most of their money they paid.  We also have insurance plans that pay for your extended stay at your destination in case you test positive before coming home.  Contact us for more detail information on pre and post departure travel insurance.
  • US State Dept. S.T.E.P. – The US State Department has had the STEP (Safe Traveler Enrollment Program) service for many years.  We feel it is more important than ever to make sure you register your trip with STEP if you are traveling internationally.  This will allow the US government to know who is traveling and where they are in case of an emergency.  It also helps your family reach you in case of an emergency.  After registering with STEP, you will be kept up to date on all important news for US travelers to that country. Visit https://step.state.gov/step/ to enroll and register your travels. 
  • Be Patient! – With staffing issues in all aspects of travel around the globe, there will be delays and some mistakes made.  The best advise we can give is to be patient and understanding.  Traveling today is unlike any other time in modern history.  A lot of travel service staff were laid off during the onset of COVID-19.  Many of these folks found other jobs to make a living.  That left a huge shortage of travel service staff.  It wasn’t uncommon for us to be on hold with a vendor for 5-10 hours last year.  These hold times have been getting better, but still far from pre-pandemic times. 
    The staffing shortages are felt around the world.  When you visit another country, don’t be surprised if there are longer than normal waits for your food, fewer activities available, and your room not tended to each night.  Knowing and accepting these delays/shortages, you will enjoy yourself much more while traveling during the pandemic.
  • Enjoy the Small Crowds – One of the positives about the pandemic is the low number of tourists.  2 ½ years ago we visited Dubrovnik, Croatia.  It was very crowded throughout Old Town, but we made the best of it and had a great time.  A few months ago, we re-visited Dubrovnik.  This time there were about 90% less people in Old Town.  It made it much easier to get around and see everything.  We also experienced the small crowds in Athens, Greece, at the Acropolis.  If you want to avoid the larger crowds, the time to travel is now.

Here are a couple resources to help you research travel restrictions/requirements:

US State Department COVID-19 Country Specific Information:  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html

Travel Restrictions Interactive Map:
https://apply.joinsherpa.com/map

We help guide clients through the massive amount of information regarding their trips.  If you are planning or thinking about a trip, please contact us.  We can help! 

Categories
COVID Travel

Getting Out During COVID

We know that the current state of the world has been hard on a lot of people. For some of us, it’s prevented us from seeing loved ones, or even interrupted a trip we were looking forward to for a long time. We’re all getting a little anxious to do some traveling, but want to balance our wanderlust with staying safe; that’s why we came up with some ways to get out and enjoy locations close to home while we all wait for travel to open more widely.

Park Day-Use Areas

Take advantage of large park day-use areas, especially those near bodies of water like rivers, lakes, and beaches. They offer a variety of options for activities while enjoying the warmer late summer and early autumn months. Before going, verify that the location is open to the public. Be sure to pack the essentials: towel, sun protection, food, water, and sanitizer along with the fun stuff: floaties, paddleboards, books, cards, etc. Preparing well beforehand can help limit contact by minimizing the need to go to a store or other unnecessary stops.

Camping

Maybe you want to get away longer than the day. Camping is an excellent option for this! Like going to a river or lake, camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get out of the house while still being able to stay distant from others. Again, you’ll want to double-check availability before heading out for your getaway.

Backyard Oasis

Camping is a great place to start if you’re trying to travel and stay distanced, but camping isn’t for everyone! For those with yards, consider investing in it as your getaway and turning it into your oasis. To some, it might be grabbing a blow-up pool and mimicking what you would do at a resort. Dip your feet into the pool, drink in one hand, and favorite book in the other and relax! To others, an oasis might mean setting up a backyard game, while listening to music and BBQing with your family. Whatever your oasis looks like, recreate it in your backyard and see what you come up with!

More Ideas

Be a tourist in your own town. Here’s a website that will tell you what places are unique to your city and state: https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/. It’s interesting to view how many places you may or may not have visited that are special to your city. And who knows, maybe after visiting some new spots, you might find a new favorite!

Similarly, you can view the website Rails to Trails to view hiking trails that were once railroad tracks: https://www.railstotrails.org/. This website will help navigate where you can find trails close to you. This is a great way to get outdoors and potentially explore new parts of town that you never go to, or if you’re headed to a different city, you can find trails in that area that you can adventure on!

But what about the kids? Even though all these activities can be done with kids, there are a wide range of virtual summer camps happening this summer. Here’s one website that can help find the perfect summer camp for your kids: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/a32611709/virtual-summer-camp-ideas/. Or, do a quick Google search to find one that might be more specific to your child’s interests.

Plan a Future Trip

It’s more important now than ever to give yourself something to look forward to; this limitation on travel won’t last forever! Contact us to help you plan that special trip for the future to give you a light at the end of the tunnel.