Categories
Solo Travel

Travel Solo – Know Before You Go

Traveling solo can be a thrilling experience that pushes the boundaries of your comfort zone. However, you want to make sure you prepare before venturing off! Here are some “know before you go” on solo travel.

Leave Your Contact Info with Someone at Home

When traveling, especially overseas where communication might be trickier, it’s important to let someone know your travel plans. Let them know where you’re going, where you’ll be staying, and the travel dates. This will keep your loved ones at home in the loop just in case they need to get ahold of you.

Keep Copies of Important Documents

Always keep copies of your important documents, such as your passport, social security card, and other necessary paperwork. These copies can come in handy in case you misplace one during your travels!

Network

Talk to your contacts about where you’ll be traveling to, they may have connections in those places and could connect you with other people in their network. This is great for solo traveling because it can help give you more insight from locals into where you’re going and, if you feel so inclined, you can meet up!

Bring a Book and a Journal

You may face some long travel days, and since you’ll be traveling solo, having a book to read can help entertain you. Journaling is another excellent way to keep yourself entertained; it’s also great to have so you can document your journey! Trust us on this! It’s fun and special to find your travel journals and read back and recall those travel moments later in life.

Learn How to be Alone

Traveling solo means spending time alone. Depending on your personality, this might be the most challenging part of traveling solo. Being with yourself alone in another country is a big deal but learning to slow down can create a lot of growth, and you can learn more about who you are.

You May Never Feel 100% Ready

This one speaks for itself. It’s hard to find the time and energy to commit to traveling internationally with our busy lives. But is there ever really a “perfect” time to go? You might also be thinking that you aren’t ready to travel solo yet, but again, is there really going to be a “perfect” time? If you’re considering traveling alone, take the leap!

Things Will Go Wrong… That’s Okay

No matter if you’re traveling alone or with others, something will go wrong. If you’re traveling solo and something goes wrong, it might be stressful in the moment, but it’s going to make great stores to tell and will help you learn to be more flexible. Roll with it!

Keep Emergency Contact Info on You

It’s crucial that you give someone at home your information on where you’ll be traveling, but it’s also essential to keep their information on you as well. Ideally, it’s great to keep this information in multiple places, such as your mobile device and your journal. This is important just in case your phone is out of battery or misplaced and you need to call home.

Understand The Cultures You’re Entering

When entering new countries, we highly recommend learning more about the local cultures before visiting. This can help prepare you for anything you might face, such as clothing restrictions or norms and understanding mannerisms.

Stay Someplace Where You’ll Meet Others

One of the coolest parts about traveling solo is the people you meet. Staying at a place like a hostel, situates you perfectly to meet like-minded individuals who might be traveling solo as well. And who knows, the people you meet on your solo adventure might turn into life-long friends!

Know Where You’re Going

It’s always a good idea to create some kind of plan before your travels. This will help give you an idea of any transportation you might need to take and how to visit each place on your list effectively.

Ask Locals for Recommendations

Talking to locals is a wonderful way to learn about the place you’re visiting. They can tell you the best places to visit that you might miss if you’re just going to the tourist attractions, and as an added bonus, they’re likely to be much less busy!

Try Not to Overpack

When traveling solo, you’re in charge of all your bags. Make sure you’re able to carry all your items before you leave and have room left for any souvenirs you might be bringing back with you.

Try to Act Confidently in Public

Acting confident is key, especially if you’re not sure where you are or where you’re going. When you show confidence, it’s less likely someone will try and take advantage of you. We’d like to believe that most people you meet wouldn’t do this, but you can never be too cautious.

Traveling solo is truly an adventure of a lifetime, and we believe it can add so much value to your life. It can be a scary one, but well worth it!

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
Children Travel

Why Children Should Travel

Traveling with children can seem daunting, especially if you’re traveling internationally. With long flights and long travel days, differences in cultures, and many other obstacles that can occur, it makes sense why some parents might be reluctant to bring their children on the journey with them. However, traveling with your children, particularly internationally, can provide a vast number of benefits to your children’s lives. Here are just a few reasons that you should bring your offspring along on your travels.

Learning Firsthand

Most children learn about other countries’ history and cultures in their classrooms at school, but when you travel with your children, they get to experience these places firsthand. Your kids will get submerged into different cultures and learn about the people, traditions, food, agriculture, and much more. This can help children better understand and learn while at school since they can relate it to their personal experiences.

More Adaptable

When you travel, no matter how prepared, there is always an opportunity for a roadblock to arise, such as lost luggage or a late flight. Many things are out of our control that interfere with our plan, which is a part of traveling, and it is an excellent way for children to learn to problem-solve and make the best of these situations when they happen.

Children may also learn that there could be different amenities than what they are used to at home. And depending on where you are traveling to, items or tools may not be as accessible as they usually would be, which is another great way children learn to adapt and go with the flow.

Compassion

As you are traveling, your children may meet other kids from those countries and might learn that those kids’ way of living looks different from their own. They might recognize the differences in socioeconomic backgrounds and realize that not all children in the world have as much as they have, leading them to compassion towards others who do not have as much and appreciating what they do have.

Memories

I bet many people can recall most, if not all, the trips they have taken. What about the first toy you were gifted? Can you remember all the toys you had when you were younger? Toys are wonderful, but they’re not generally as impactful as the memories we create with traveling. When children grow up, they can look back and recall all their memories from traveling, whether those memories were good, funny, or bizarre, and remember the ones they spent time with and met along the way.

Self-Discovery

When traveling to new countries, we might be stepping out of our comfort zone a little bit. Yet, each time we do, we feel a bit more confident in ourselves. Similarly, with children, someone might be nervous about the activities/excursions that you have planned. When they start to travel, and these opportunities become more common, they get braver and confidence starts to build within them. This confidence then rolls over to when they are back into their regular routine of life.

Traveling can also help children figure out their interests more imaginatively and creatively by seeing the world firsthand. For example, maybe you notice that your child loves the adventure aspect of traveling, and each time you travel to a new country, they want to figure out all the outdoor adventures they can do. Maybe your child is interested in art and is intrigued by the details of buildings and desires to visit art museums. Learning this about themselves can help guide them in figuring out hobbies they want to involve themselves in or even potential career pathways that might be enticing for them.

Taking on responsibilities is another aspect of self-discovery that children might learn while traveling. At some point, all children will have to learn to take on responsibilities. When you give children responsibilities while traveling, this can provide children with more confidence in their own abilities. Maybe their responsibilities at first are to make sure they have their belongings, and when moving hotels or going between airports, they must oversee their items. These responsibilities might increase by having them plan a portion of the trip (with guidance, of course). Not only can this build confidence in children, but it keeps them involved and allows them to express what their interests are.

Bringing your children on international trips can seem overwhelming, but we genuinely believe that you and your children can benefit from these types of travels together.

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.