Monday, September 28, 2020

Let Hawaii Happen!!

Travel to Hawaii will be possible without a 14-day quarantine starting Oct. 15 - enabled through a quick test (at the airport); but be prepared to pay for the "convenience"!!

- Hawaiian has matched United in planning to offer pre-departure COVID-19 testing for their passengers. Hawaiian Airline’s partnership with Worksite Labs gives exclusive access to drive-through PCR testing ($90/results within 36 hours, or $150 day-of-travel express service) from dedicated, conveniently located labs near LAX and SFO. It's expected that the Droplet Digital PCR shallow nasal swab tests – a “gold standard” COVID-19 screening that meets state of Hawai‘i guidelines – will be available around Oct. 15.

- United has partnered with GoHealth Urgent Care at SFO, and testing will be available from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily to offer rapid tests to their Hawaii-bound passengers for $250 per person (or to save money, opt to use a self-administered sampling kit from a firm called Color, which requires longer lead time and costs $80 plus shipping).
Hawaii guidelines are not completely clear yet though and will need to be updated and clarified before booking any flights to avoid any possible unpleasant surprises.

Hawaii has lined up partnerships with Kaiser Permanente, CVS and Walgreens to provide necessary pre-departure testing on the mainland.

According to Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green, the state’s point man for the testing plans, apparently - in addition to the standard deep nasal swab tests - Hawaii will also accept results from Abbott Labs’ Abbott ID Now test, which uses a swab from the front of the nose and produces results in less than 15 minutes.

Hawaii is currently also negotiating with the company Vault which provides saliva tests (especially for children under 12).
Stay tuned for more changes to undoubtedly come...

As always, you should work with your trusted Travel Professional to book your trip so that we can keep you apprised of all new developments!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Luggage Tips!

Have you ever wondered what you should or shouldn't do when it comes to your luggage?   Well, I am here to share with you a few very good tips!

1.  Make sure you have a Luggage Tag.  On that Tag, be sure to include your name, email address and phone number.   Do NOT include your home address as you could be setting yourself up to be a target of a home robbery while you are away.   I know some people will use their business cards as their luggage tag & this works well as long as you know the business address is secure.

2.  It is also a good idea to put a piece of paper INSIDE your luggage with the address of your destination along with your contact information just in case your luggage becomes damaged and/or the tag is lost.  

3.  In the digital age, this is super easy - take a photo of your luggage and even of the contents.  If your luggage does become lost, the photo will help the airline or cruise line when trying to locate the lost item.  It will also help should you get to the point of needing to file an insurance claim should your luggage be lost forever.

4.  Always lock your luggage.  You can purchase TSA approved luggage locks.  With these locks, the security folks can open your bag if needed, but they can lock it back up again.  If you have a non-TSA approved lock & security finds reason to open your suitcase, they will break your lock & then your suitcase and contents are vulnerable the rest of the trip.   If you don't lock your suitcase at all, that is an open invitation to any person who may come into contact with your suitcase along the journey.  Don't make it easy for thieves! 

5.  This should go without saying, but do not put anything valuable in your checked luggage.  Medications, electronics, camera equipment, jewelry & anything else of value should always be with you in your carry-on luggage.  Consider leaving anything of great value at home & really determine if it's really necessary for your trip.  

6.  In the Covid-19 traveling era, try to keep your carry on bag "simple".  You want to minimize any contact that others could have with your luggage.  Try not to over-pack, you want the TSA agents to have a clear visual through the x-ray machines, if they don't they will want to unpack your bag to see what the item of question might be.  

Hope these tips help you when packing for your next trip!
When you are ready to plan that next trip, I would love if you would reach out to me!  I'd love to make your trip as memorable as possible.


Thursday, August 27, 2020

30 years ago, I walked into my 1st Travel Agency job & the ride has been amazing. Never imagined that my 30th year would be marked by a global pandemic that brought the traveling world to a screeching halt, but alas here we are. Travel is slowly starting to pick up & I plan to celebrate this milestone with my 1st vacation of 2020 very soon. I have had many colleagues and a few friends travel recently to Mexico and have heard nothing but wonderful things! The planning has begun and we will return to a favorite destination, Los Cabos. I need to work out all of the details as I would like to experience a few properties that I have not experienced before so that I can report back to everyone about protocols from place to place!

I am hopeful that this business & industry that I love so dearly will be showing great recovery by this time next year!! When you're ready to travel, I will be here to help you plan! With 30 years under my belt, you can trust that I will see to it that you have a wonderful vacation & makes plenty of wonderful memories.

Today I was reminded that life is short, a classmate from High School passed away this week after suffering from a stroke on Monday. We're not OLD!! I have no idea of her health, but it's a great reminder that we all need to do what we can to stay healthy, build our immune systems, do what makes you happy because stress & unhappiness is not good for your health & don't forget about your mental wellness. I know personally that these last few months have played a huge toll on my own mental welfare & this vacation will be the absolute best medicine!

Friday, August 7, 2020

Travel-State Dept Global Health Advisory Update


Yesterday the U.S. Department of State issued this update to the Travel Advisory page.  Previous to this, the U.S. was under a Level 4 Travel Advisory, which meant that international travel was not advised.  It was never a travel ban, but simply meant that the U.S. Government may not be able to help you in a foreign country as their Embassies could be closed, there may not be any repatriation assistance should borders close, etc.

Because so many parts of the world are beginning to open up to foreign travelers, the U.S. has now removed the Global Travel Advisory & has reverted back to a country by country assessment of the current travel situation.  It is important to know that a country may be classified as a Level 4, but that doesn't mean that the entire country fits the unsafe criteria be it due to crime, health reasons, etc.   It's important to read the advisory completely to determine if a particular destination that you may be considering is considered safe for a visit.

Though we have a long way to go before the world is open to U.S. Citizens, still many are banning Americans due to our current number of Covid cases & hot spots, but this is a hopeful start of the Global Travel Economy's recovery.

When you are ready to travel the world, I am here to help you.  Together we can work on a trip plan that excites you while also keeps you comfortable with safety in mind.

Where Can I Go?

It's becoming clearer that Covid-19 is going to be with us for some time.  I know that some people will not travel until there is a vaccine or a cure & that's OK.  But for those who want to travel & are ready to travel now with proper precautions, here is a list of places that are currently welcoming U.S. Citizens.  I would be very grateful if you contact me, your trusted Travel Advisor to help you plan your next vacation! 

CARIBBEAN / MEXICO Entry Requirements for US citizens:
(from today - subject to change at any time).
Health forms on the websites provided.

Travelers also need to provide original versions of a negative test result upon arrival. Those experiencing symptoms must quarantine at their hotels/villas until they receive a negative result. They may also be taken to a government facility and treated for at least 14 days at their cost (housing/medical).

Negative COVID-19 RT PCR test taken w/in 7 ds of arrival flight (includes passengers in-transit):

Travelers must quarantine for 14 ds upon arrival, at own expense in a government facility + take a real time polymerase chain reaction COVID-19 lab test at the end of isolation:

Negative COVID-19 PCR test taken w/in 3 ds of arrival flight. Embarkation/Disembarkation (ED) form will be available for completion 72 hrs prior to travel and submitted no less than 24 hrs before departure:

Traveling to/through PUJ Airport you must show negative test results - not older than 5 ds before arrival (not just if you are staying in the DR, but also if you just transit through). Additionally, everyone will have their health condition evaluated and - if test or symptoms associated with COVID-19 are positive, there will be isolation in an authorized location mandated by the government.

Aug 1 - Sep 30:
Travelers from AZ, FL, NY, TX (12 years+) are required to upload a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from a College of American Pathologists (CAP) accredited medical laboratory not older than 10 days of the arrival date to get a Travel Authorization:

Negative COVID-19 RT PCR test taken w/in 3 ds of arrival flight. A test will be performed upon arrival to symptomatic travelers. 14-day-quarantine is mandated until the traveler provides proof of a negative test result. Curfew from 10pm-5am through Aug. 15:

Negative COVID-19 RT PCR test taken w/in 3 ds of arrival flight. Travelers must take - and pay for - another test if staying longer than 7 ds, (cost 150 EUR)

Negative result from a PCR test needed - done less than 7 ds. prior to arrival. All symptomatic passengers will be immediately isolated/tested. Following positive results for COVID-19, travelers get treated at the Respiratory Hospital at their cost.

Need negative COVID-19 RT PCR test taken w/in 3 ds of arrival flight +travel insurance:

Negative COVID-19 RT PCR test w/in 5 ds of arrival for all travelers (10+). Mandatory travel insurance that covers COVID-19 in-country medical treatment, cost of quarantine, and repatriation/medivac. Travelers start application process 72 hrs prior to arrival in the islands:

No restrictions
We have partnered with hotels to bring you the most attractive complimentary vacation add-ons in above destinations.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Puerto Vallarta- Covid-19 Travel

                                       Photo Courtesy of Visit Puerto Vallarta

One of my trusted travel colleagues just returned from her first "covid" trip, you know that 1st trip that you take in the middle of a pandemic because you know that this virus is not going away anytime soon.  When you're in the travel business, it's hard to stay home for any great length of time.   Though I have yet to take a trip myself, I definitely have the itch & when I do eventually take that first trip of 2020, I will do so with an abundance of caution and plan to be a responsible tourist.  I don't want to see my beloved industry become any more decimated than it already is & destinations are beginning to re-open.

However, there are not many destinations who are welcoming Americans at this point because our Covid-19 outbreak control is out of control in many parts of our country at this time.  I can't blame them at all.  Many destinations are imposing test requirements either in advance or upon arrival.  Testing upon arrival usually comes with a mandatory quarantine until test results are processed.  There are a lot of things to consider when planning a trip in 2020.

Currently, Mexico is welcoming all visitors from all countries without any testing or quarantine requirements.  Of course, this can change at any moment and as your trusted Travel Advisor when booking your trip, I would give you current information and update you as necessary through to your departure date.   I have had several colleagues and a few friends with timeshares visit Mexico in the past couple of weeks & everyone has said it was so necessary to recharge, to have that change of scenery, that they felt very safe & well taken care of while in Mexico.  I've heard many people say that they have felt safer at their resorts vs. the USA.

This is one summary from my trusted colleague, Patti, who gave me permission to share her trip review:

We left Saturday on a packed flight out of PHX.  Every seat was booked.  Masks are mandatory all throughout the airport and for the duration of the flight.  There are no services on AA flights, they hand you a paper bag with a tiny bottle of water and a bag of pretzels as you board.   They do say up front that anyone not wearing masks will be escorted off of the aircraft and not allowed to fly AA in the future so there is no messing around, you wear your mask! Upon landing and while inside of PVR airport masks are required.  Nothing is needed as far as testing etc to enter Mexico.  They take your temperature when you are in line at Customs and that is it.  The scent in the airport was of cleaner. You can tell it is constantly mopped, and disinfected. Very clean.  Our transfer was there waiting ( LOVE Mayaland!) and our driver was wearing a mask as well and for the duration of the transfer.   As we drove through downtown on the way to Garza Blanca, I noticed most all stores and restaurants are open.  Tourists and locals alike were lining the streets.  Most locals were wearing masks, even outside as they walked. They are NOT mandatory there.
 Arriving at the hotel,  ALL hotel employees wore masks and that never changed.  Guests are not required to wear them anywhere, but I think they wanted the guests to feel comfortable.  The Greeter, the front desk, concierge, all waitstaff at every outlet, pool servers, groundskeepers, housekeeping etc.. all had masks.  The changes to the resort were evident but in no way took away from the experience, it actually made it better.  Lounge chairs at the pool and beach were grouped in two’s with space between others ( love that).  The hotel is at maybe 50% occupancy so restaurants weren’t crowded, plenty of space.  If you wanted to use the gym you made an appt to be sure there wouldn’t be too many in it at one time.  Each time you jumped on the shuttle to go to the upper towers the driver had hand sanitizer he plopped in your hand as you boarded.
 The best part was everyone seemed happy.  The staff was happy to have guests again.  The guest all seemed so happy and relaxed.  I talked to many over drinks in the pool that said they were always hesitant to go to Mexico but decided to go now as they wanted to go SOMEWHERE and they could not believe how beautiful it is and how safe they felt.
 Please, sell Mexico with confidence.  They love having tourists back and no country takes better care of you than Mexico.  The people, the beaches, the service, just that feeling of AHHHHHH.  Relaxation.  

She will be returning to Puerto Vallarta in a few weeks with her daughter and youngest grandson (about 6 months old) and staying at another resort, which I know will be equally as wonderful.

I realize that traveling right now is a very personal decision and rightly so.  I also know that some feel it's completely irresponsible to travel non-essentially right now & that's OK.   There are those who might argue that mental health and well-being is worth taking that trip & that's OK.  The world-wide economy has taken a huge hit with Covid-19 & can't sustain much more.  The world wants to get back to some version of "normal",  I know we all do.   If you feel that you do want to take that vacation to recharge, to change your scenery, I would greatly appreciate if you contact me for my assistance to book your trip.  This is how I make my living.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Never hit a "BOOK NOW" Button EVER Again...PLEASE

Travel & tourism account for 1 in 10 jobs worldwide. 🌎
I am that 1 out of 10. 🙋🏼‍♀️
Many people surely think that my job working in the travel business is to travel for free (I wish!). ✈️🛳🏖🕍
In reality, 90% of my job is spent sitting at my desk designing itineraries for couples, families and clients from around the world. I spend hours, weeks, sometimes even months working on single trips, making sure every detail is thought out and planned. And truly I LOVE doing so!! ❤️
The travel industry has been dealing with the Coronavirus since January — an additional two full months before it really began impacting daily life here in the US. 😢
Fun fact: travel agents only get paid after their clients actually travel. Many agents have been refunding their hard-earned money back to their clients by the thousands. They’ve spent these last four months working tirelessly to negotiate refunds, postponements, and cancellations. And most haven’t had new trips booked now for months.
But we do it without question because we have wonderful, personal relationships with our clients - something that credit card companies & Expedia do not.  We also know travel will come back stronger than ever once this is all over.

**So when you do decide to travel again - PLEASE use a travel advisor. It doesn't matter who, or what company - we're all on the same team. But please use a live person. Do not click a “book” button on a website ever again.**

Of course, I'd prefer that person to be ME! 

To my industry colleagues - you are warriors. Until we all travel again. **Written by a friend in the industry**