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:
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!