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Top 10 Travel Ideas You Can Use Now

excited little traveler sitting on suitcase with arms extended

A lot of my clients are feeling that we’re finally seeing the end of the tunnel. After all, it’s been a full year of extremes. The pandemic hit so sudden and changed our lives in so many ways. Many are truly feeling a big relief and freedom from getting the protection of the vaccine and are ready to travel again.

Here are some of the many ideas that you can consider. I might come back with part 2 next time!

1. Iceland   Iceland's waterfalls Iceland has announced it will open to all tourists who have been fully vaccinated or have been previously infected with Covid. They will not need to quarantine or test. Iceland has had very good control of the disease cases. If you travel a little beyond Reykjavik and the usual waterfalls that attract tourists, you’ll see there are so many vast landscapes and adventures to experience and be very socially distanced and feel safe. I plan many custom-tailored itineraries so do connect if you are interested. OR I can find you the right tour. The short distance from the US makes it very attractive, no?

 

2. Greece Though still fighting a surge in cases, Greece believes they will have it under control by mid-May as more citizens get vaccinated. picture of Santorini GreeceStarting May 15th, they will allow travelers who have been vaccinated, had Covid-19 antibodies or a negative covid test to enter. You can experience all the historical culture, the food, the beach. Cruises here, unlike Iceland, will resume. Celestyal Cruise line, a preferred partner of our agency, is worth checking out. I also have other travel partners who can whisk you off to a remote island if you prefer to stay away from the usual Mykonos, Santorini, or Crete.

 

 

3. Alaska   Alaska without the large cruise ships guests will be the perfect place to visit! And there are no testing requirements to return home as you’re still in US soil. You will need a negative Covid test result to visit but I think it’s worth it. I can design a land-based touring itinerary for you and you will be able to see the glaciers, the polar bears, and bald eagles in natural habitat, and how about dog sledding on ice or glacier trekking for those who want real adventures? If you still want to cruise, my clients always rave about Uncruise Adventures. It may be the only cruise player this season. It’s a small ship and will clear CDC requirements to operate.

4. Caribbean Cruises   Crystal Cruises led the pack and announced it will resume sailing in June with a 7 days Bahamas itinerary to ONLY fully vaccinated guests. They prioritize safety for crew and guests and this is what their loyal guests want to start cruising again. You ask, they give. Then, other cruises like Royal Caribbean and Celebrity will follow as well. For Royal Caribbean, adults must be fully vaccinated and children will need a negative Covid test to board.  This will be the first time medium and large size ships will be sailing since last March.

5. Galapagos   Combine a Galapagos cruise with a visit to Ecuador and you’ll have a full itinerary of culture, nature, and wildlife for sure.a pair of blue footed booby from Galapagos There are small yachts and small ships perfect for navigating the islands and you’ll have an experience just like pre-pandemic. If you’re interested, hurry because of the small size of ships and large demand. Don’t miss the boat!

 

 

 

6. Africa.   If you can handle the long flights, you’ll enjoy an even more untouched Africa. Many of my colleagues have traveled and returned and had a fantastic experience on their safaris. My recommendation will be to Tanzania and finish with a beach escape in Zanzibar. Other countries are requiring negative tests and can be tricky over there when you travel from one country to another.
Here’s a wonderful itinerary to consider: https://africantravelinc.com/safari/discover-the-wonders-of-tanzania

Arenal Volcano Costa Rica
Arenal Volcano Costa Rica

7. Costa Rica

a great destination with a diverse array of activities. Whether you want to visit the coffee farms or hike to the volcanos, zipline across the rainforest, or bird watch in the cloud forest, then finish with a beach escape in the Pacific coast in a luxury resort or private villa, Costa Rica will not disappoint. You have so much space and the Ticos are so friendly. This is a top choice for families with teens.

 

 

 

a Jungle Lodge in Belize, the Blancaneaux
PC: Blancaneaux Lodge, a Cappola Family Hideaway

8. Belize  another fabulous sort of off-the-radar Central American country. This small country is full of natural attractions such as pristine beaches, lush tropical rainforests, Mayan ruins, challenging cave systems that you can explore, and the second-longest barrier reef in the world! I love combining a jungle & reef itinerary and introducing my clients to the numerous eco-lodges in the jungles on treetops! An amazing experience for couples or families with teens.

 

 

9. Disneyland   After a year-long closure, Disneyland is reopening its doors in June. Combine with a stay at the Disneyland Resort or the Grand California resort and you will have kids showering you with hugs and kisses all the way. Invite the Grandparents and let’s visit The Happiest Place On Earth.

 

10. Kauai     Kauai is finally relaxing quarantine requirements. Starting April 1, you can visit just like other Hawaii islands with a negative Covid test from a trusted testing partner. The islands are still trying to figure out if they will lift that requirement for fully vaccinated travelers. The lush jungles, the Waimea Canyon, and of course, the lovely beaches that Are Hawaii. How can you resist? All the resorts will be welcoming with open arms. And don’t forget to check out the Ultimate Hawaii Guide to your right.

Na Pali cliffs coastline, Kauai, Hawaii
Na Pali cliffs, Kauai, Hawaii

There are at least another 10 ideas I can offer. So, feel free to call, email or schedule a time to chat to get started with planning. Make up the year lost and save it with a family vacation that you know you want.

Hit the Plan a Trip button above and let a travel expert help take care of you. From brainstorming travel ideas, to planning the perfect itinerary and making all the reservations, we are with you all the way. We’ll even deliver your travel itinerary and documents in a digital app.

We will be just a text away when you travel.  The peace of mind… priceless!

 

How will Covid Vaccine Passport Get Us Back to Travel Again

Sample covid passport

I know many of us are just sick of the cold, tired of being indoors and of not having traveled for so long. Things are looking up.   People are feeling more confident and a lot more comfortable now with traveling now that they are getting vaccinated.  Although it is not 100% safe from getting infected, if we continue to practice safety protocols, I think it is really the key to getting back to normal.

On Feb 22, UK has announced their plans to reopen travel.  It may come as early as May for international travel.  Europe though is still struggling with a slow roll-out of the vaccine so it remains to be seen whether they will open by this summer. But countries are still figuring things out and planning for it. A lot of talks are happening around a Vaccine Passport.

sample covid passport which is showing a digital image of a covid 19 vaccine with QR code and a check box for vaccine taken

What is a Vaccine Passport?

It’s a proof that the holder of it has been vaccinated against COVID, and will allow them to travel freely between countries again. It will not be a passport book.  It will be in the form of a digital certificate.  An app that people will download to their mobile device and can be checked quickly by each countries’ customs and border control officers.  The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has plans to have it ready in a few weeks, named the Travel Pass. Countries will need to enroll and participate. But it will streamline the verification process if they have this as a standardized certificate.

 

Concerns about Vaccine Passport:

While it seems like a good idea, there are obstacles.  Funding, security of such passport, as well as other ethical concerns. Will this be discrimination because not everyone is able to get vaccine due to medical reasons, not by choice?  So, maybe it will be a proof that someone has a negative COVID-test, instead of a vaccine.  Plus, not all countries are having a successful rollout of the vaccines due to supply. This creates a sense of inequality.

Suppliers requiring Vaccine for traveling?

Some cruise lines have already said they will only accept customers who have been fully vaccinated starting July 2021.  Most are requiring crew members to be vaccinated.  The US cruise lines include American Queen Steamboat and Victory Cruise lines that does a lot of US river cruises as well as Crystal Cruises, which is a luxury cruise line. They said it’s the peace of mind their guests are asking for.  But other cruise line are taking a wait and see.  There are cruises in Germany and Italy that has been operating safely without much incidents even without vaccinated guests.

Some countries allow visitors who are fully vaccinated, but not yet for US visitors!   

There are countries jumping ahead of the vaccine passport, and allowing travelers to enter when they are fully vaccinated, waiving requirements for quarantines and negative COVID-test.
These include Iceland, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Seychelles, and Thailand, to name a few. But there are still restrictions for US travelers.  Yet it offers a glimmer of hope!

How do you feel about this concept of Covid Vaccine Passport? Share a comment with us!

Why you should consider Tauck tour and cruises for your next family vacation

a brochure cover from Tauck tours with some lake and mountain scenery

Tauck has been around for over 95 years. They are a family owned tour company. Started with a local tour in New England.  Their commitment to service has won them a loyal following and they have greatly expanded their tour offerings across the globe and now also offers their own river cruise ships and have chartered small ships to different parts of the world with a showcase of interesting itineraries.  Whether it’s their land tours in Europe and Africa or the very popular family river cruises for multi-generational groups, Tauck products have consistently win the highest mark from my clients. They truly excel in all aspects of a tour.

Many of their guests are repeat guests.  Most enjoy traveling as a group with other like minded travelers and who enjoy cultural explorations and traveling with ease.  When tours started canceling last April due to the pandemic shutdown, over 80% of their guests have chosen to rebook the exact same tour with them for a year later.  And for those who did not rebook, got all their money back.  That isn’t the case with all travel / tour companies. Many chose to hang on to the guests’ funds.  It is a testament to Tauck’s strong financials and integrity.

a large family all wearing berets posing in front of Eiffel Tower in Paris during their Tauck tour
pc:Tauck; Tauck Family Adventures in Paris

Tauck has won Travel & Leisure’s “World’s Best” list for 23 consecutive years.  What made Tauck so popular?

  1. A wide presence, offering tours everywhere. You can choose to travel all 7 continents with Tauck if you love their consistent service.
  2. Exclusive access. Tauck’s long standing relationships have gained them partnerships with suppliers and museums to create unique experiences built in to their itineraries.  For example, they have exclusive after-hours access to the Sistine Chapel so you’re visiting with your own group of 40 or 20 fellow tour mates and not packed with the general public of thousands.
    They have special lunch in castles or exclusive performances arranged for their guests that turns every trip into a trip of a lifetime.
  3. Tour directors and local guides are their true assets. Their tour directors not only ensure a seamless travel experience, but their knowledge and caring attitude fosters a deep connection with guests.  Sometimes, I get requests to do the next tour with the same tour director wherever he/she is assigned due to their thoughtful, personal service.
  4. Great value. Tauck is not about spending as little as possible. But about giving you the best they can give for your money.  Quality hotels & ships, exclusive access and experiences, and itinerary planning that showcases the best a destination has to offer so that everything you should see is already included in the tour price and nothing extra to offer on tour.  In addition, gratuities are included in tour price so you don’t have to stress about getting local currency during tour.

You’ve heard from me and my clients’ feedbacks. Would you like to hear from Tauck directly?
This Thursday, 2/4/21, at 3pm PT, or 6pm ET, will you please join me on this virtual live presentation with Tauck? Hosted by Steve Spivak, Vice President of Global Sales and Partner Relations, the event will cover the current status of travel and what you can expect this year, along with great destinations to consider.  Here is the link to register.
https://tauck.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VWcu3823SE2-e_G0YvphGw
If you have another commitment, you can register and they will send you a recording afterwards. But if you can attend live, there will be opportunity for Q&A.

Space is Limited! Register now by clicking the link below:

Thursday, February 4, 2021 3:00 PM PST

https://tauck.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VWcu3823SE2-e_G0YvphGw

Maybe I’ll see you on Thursday! And of course, if after the presentation and you are interested in finding out more about joining their tours or need help selecting an itinerary, I’ll be honored to help.  email me, call me, or click the plan a trip button up on top!

Here are a few of Tauck’s popular tours:
America’s Canyonland

Danube Family River Cruise and Tour

Galapagos Island Family Tour and Cruise

All other guests favorites

If you’ve missed this event and would like to be notified of future opportunities, please sign up for our newsletter!

New CDC Travel Requirement for entry to USA from international travel

image of items needed to travel during pandemic--mask, sanitizer, passport, and negative covid test

image of items needed to travel during pandemic--mask, sanitizer, passport, and negative covid test

On Tuesday, 1/12, the US CDC announced that it was adding a mandatory COVID-19 test requirement for all inbound international travelers, regardless of where they are coming from. Starting on Jan. 26, all air passengers will have to get a viral test within three days of their flight to the U.S. and bring documentation of either the test (can be electronic) or documentation that they were infected and recovered, to their airline. Airlines, according to the CDC rules, must then confirm the negative test for all passengers before boarding, and any passenger without the documentation must be denied boarding. While this is the strictest requirement US has issued since the pandemic started, it generally puts the country in line with a lot of European countries who have seen recent case surges and implemented the same requirement.

I have been working on some travel requests for Mexico and Costa Rica for example, as they do not require any testing before traveling.  Now, with this requirement, it puts another roadblock to travel. Where will travelers go get tested? Will they get test results back in time?  What if they tested positive?  Where will they quarantine and how will the cost be paid for? Those were just some of the questions that were jamming travel forums and started a wave of panic phone calls.  But it’s not the end to it all.

Within 48hrs, many of the resorts in Mexico and Caribbean have come up with plans to help travelers get tested in the resort.  Antigen tests are usually free, and the PCR tests are offered free at some resorts or reduced rates at others.  AND… some have dedicated space for quarantines. Some resorts even offer you extended free stay if you tested positive.  Bottom line: If you are ready to travel, there is nothing that can stop you.

Traveling in this new day and age is not the same as the past anymore.  There are constantly changing travel requirements.  We may soon see mask mandates for air travel by the Biden Administration.  Each country has their own travel requirements to protect their citizens.  Some require a test to enter. Some require you to re-test a few days after arrival.  Some require you only stay in certain quarantine resorts, or use certain approved tour providers.  Yet others, many others, require you to have specific travel insurance that will cover expenses for flying home on a medical jet or expenses to stay in destination if you need hospital care or extended hotel stay.  And now, US wants you to get tested when entering.

All I can say is, Please, do yourself a favor and use a travel advisor to plan your next family vacation.  Let us help you navigate all of these overwhelming and confusing travel requirements. It doesn’t have to be with me. But if you work with me, I have partnerships with travel consortium which provides a daily updated dashboard for me to review which country requires what to enter and leave.  I have travel suppliers who not only put together travel packages or custom itinerary for you, but also be available to provide assistance 24×7 in destination should you can’t reach me.  It will not only save you time, it will also make sure that someone is watching out for you and be there to guide you if something just changes suddenly.

So, be brave.  It’s ok to keep planning your vacations.  And if you missed my last newsletter about why NOW is the time to plan 2021 and even 2022 vacations, you can find it on my blog or use this link: https://www.bravobeachvacations.com/why-you-should-start-planning-2021-and-2022-vacations-now/

2021 travel planning with airplane, book, sunglasses and palm trees

 

 

 

 

 

Or, you can also plan some domestic travel and put some happiness back to your calendar.  There are so much to see! Oh and let me remind you, Hawaii does not require another test on return to mainland.  It does require you to get a negative Covid test to travel to Hawaii, but not depart Hawaii! However, it is starting a new Mandatory Contact Tracing requirement if you are visiting Maui.  And for more information about Hawaii, don’t forget to check out our Hawaii travel guide.  We try our best to keep it updated.  You can get it free on the right side bar.

Why you should start planning 2021 and 2022 vacations now

20221 and 2022 vacation planning

Traveling in 2020 has become a very difficult decision for many of us.  It is very personal for sure. Some of my clients are ready to travel.  Some wish to travel but still hesitate due to health and safety concerns.  But with the recent rollout of the vaccine and an estimate that many will be vaccinated in spring and summer and throughout 2021, hopefully, it is the good news we have been waiting for.  Looking at trends, travelers are optimistic and ready to travel again …. and if you’ve not started putting 2021 or even 2022 vacations on your calendar, I suggest you better start taking action right after the holidays.  Here are a few reasons why:

funnel for 2021 and 2021

#1. Demand will be high, and supply will be low!
A lot of travelers have transferred their 2020 vacation to the exact same plan but a 2021 date.  They already have a seat! Yet, a lot of tour companies and hotels will be subject to limited capacity to still provide social distance for guests.   They’re also going with smaller group size as that is preferred now. As people start getting vaccinated and ready to travel, any remaining seats will be filled very quickly.  Don’t miss the boat!

#2.  Travel companies and cruise lines are ready… for months already

Every sector of the travel industry has a safe travel protocol in place. They’ve spent months developing those plans and getting the supplies and staff training they need in order to start providing the tours and experience travelers have been so hungry for.  They are committed to your health and safety. Many are just waiting for international borders to open and without asking people to quarantine.  It’ll be easier to travel.  Airlines have started providing Covid testing to passengers before they take off. Airports will have rapid testing centers.  Multiple airlines have formed alliance to set up “digital health passports” to aid travelers to more easily comply with travel restrictions for traveling overseas. Hotels and resorts now provide contactless stays and have elevated cleaning protocols.

River cruises and cruise lines are still pouring over the CDC manual to comply with new guidelines and most plan to start sailing again in April and beyond, if not sooner.  Some will provide testing to their guests while onboard. But again, they likely cannot have 100% capacity so, you will need to reserve early.

#3 Flexible change policy and small payment commitments

Many airlines have eliminated change fees for domestic AND international travel. Tour companies and hotels and cruises are doing the same.  They understand that uncertainty and disruption is still out there and they are doing everything they can to make you feel comfortable.  I’ve never seen such low deposit requirements.  Most also postponed the final payment due dates so you really have a very low commitment needed to put some happiness back to your calendar.  Great peace of mind offers.

 

excited young traveler sitting on flying suitcase with arms spreadout like wings

#4   2021 and 2022 schedules and itineraries are published

There are some exciting new itinerary options and many are already at full capacity.  Most have begun to offer small group tours or very attractive private tour discounts. Maybe you’d still like to be close to home. There are new USA tours, new ships, new resorts.  I’m especially excited about a new Rocky Mountaineer train itinerary in the Southwest through national parks. Ask me about it if interested, but hurry.

There has been studies that confirm people derive more happiness from anticipation of a planned vacation than the vacation itself! Wouldn’t it make you feel so good to have a plan locked in place and something wonderful to look forward to?

Reach out when you’re ready and I’ll be so honored to help you with your next vacation. I’ll help you understand all the travel restrictions, supplier terms and policies, and put together a plan to protect you with the right travel insurance.

Christmas Holidays River Cruises Virtual Vacations

River cruise along Danube river

As we all know, this has not been an easy year with the pandemic. Many travel plans canceled and postponed.
I know many of us dream of traveling again.  International borders remain closed for most countries in order to control the pandemic.
I wonder what I can share to cheer you up and keep your holiday spirits high.

River cruise along Danube riverViking River Cruises is doing a series of 12 days of Christmas virtual vacations that features Christmas traditions around Europe and the World.
You can sign up and watch them over zoom during the live broadcast, or you can register and they will send you a recording if you can’t make
the time.  You can still view at your convenience.  Maybe have a watch party with your friends.

Here are a lists of them with a quick descriptions and sign up links.  You can use our agency info for the invitation!
Bravo Travel, Los Altos, CA — your advisor: Debby Leong  

I hope you’ll find these 12 days of Christmas events enjoyable and keep dreaming!

Reservations for 2021 and 2022 cruises are open.  When you are ready, please contact us and we can help you find the best cruise, the best itinerary and
arrange everything for you!  Put some hope and travel dreams back to your calendar!


Discover British Isles Explorer & Christmas Traditions of the UK
Dec 7th, 2020  12:00PM PT

Immerse yourself in the British Isles, with overnight stays in Bergen, Norway, and Greenwich, England. Discover Scotland’s legendary Highlands and Western Isles and the capital of Edinburgh. Visit the Shetland and Orkney Islands and contrast modern Belfast with traditional Dublin. Witness Welsh culture in Snowdonia. In England, visit maritime Liverpool, see historic Dover and enjoy a tour of London.
Sign up : https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5ylL1X7wTEKKyyRNy31ktw

Experience the Romantic Danube & learn about Christmas in Hungary
Dec 8th, 2020 12:00PM PT

Visit Budapest’s Castle District and cross the famous Chain Bridge. Explore Göttweig Abbey, one of Austria’s most revered monastic centers, and make dumplings with Wachau Valley apricots. Visit historic Salzburg. Spend two days in Vienna, and celebrate the city’s musical heritage at a concert featuring works by Mozart and Strauss. With medieval towns, grand cities and stunning scenery, this 8-day journey on the “Blue Danube” is one you are sure to love.
Sign up: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_NKKZFer1SPOw3um-bH9t-Q

Discover the Danube Waltz and Christmas in Austria
Dec 9th, 2020 12:00PM PT

Soak up soothing steam at a Budapest thermal bath. Learn to waltz at a Viennese dance school. Savor Austro-Hungarian cuisine in Vienna and Budapest. Admire the Wachau Valley’s beauty. Explore lesser-known Central European cities like Bratislava and Passau. Witness daily life in an abbey on an exclusive visit to Göttweig. This 8-day itinerary reveals the best of these places, while cruising leisurely through spectacular scenery.

Sign up: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_caHVt9h5TfG3-557Y99h-Q

Explore Paris & the Heart of Normandy & Christmas traditions of France
Dec 10th, 2020 12:00PM PT

Explore Giverny and visit the beautiful gardens and charming farmhouse where Claude Monet lived and worked, the setting that inspired many of his masterpieces. Trace the footsteps of Joan of Arc in Rouen. Walk hallowed ground at Normandy’s American Military Cemetery and World War II beaches. Savor Normandy cuisine. This 8-day cruise along the Seine River celebrates history, art, food and customs in the country’s most dazzling urbane and pastoral settings.

Sign up: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_6-TolZcNT3ar4w5JMqIFeg

Tour Viking Homelands & Christmas traditions of Norway
Dec 11th, 2020 12:00PM PT

Sail the clear waters of Scandinavia and the Baltic on this 15-day cruise. Enjoy overnights in cosmopolitan Stockholm, majestic St. Petersburg and scenic Bergen, and explore charming historic city centers in Tallinn and Gdańsk. Visit Helsinki, Berlin and Copenhagen and witness breathtaking scenery from your ship as she glides through majestic Norwegian fjords in the legendary homelands of the Vikings.

Sign up: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Hy6t9J08QduQFOR9zhLNjg

Experience the magic of Europe’s Christmas Markets
Dec 14th, 2020 12:00PM PT

A Viking holiday river cruise is pure magic. From Nuremburg to Vienna, Germany and Austria light up with Christmas markets offering hand-carved toys and ornaments, spicy glühwein and aromatic gingerbread. Celebrate an Old World Christmas on the Danube or Rhine.

Sign up: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_UVc4PpRSRT2B_ew383ZonQ

Experience Bordeaux and learn about Christmas in France
Dec 15th, 2020 9:00AM PT

Discover the ports, vineyards, farms and forests of Aquitaine, once Europe’s richest kingdom. See Bordeaux’s fountains and cellars. Hunt for truffles in Périgord, and create your own personal blend of Cognac at the Camus distillery. Savor France’s finest oysters fresh from the bay at Arcachon. Sip Saint-Émilion, Médoc and Sauternes in their own ”terroir” on an 8-day cruise through Bordeaux—a region synonymous with fine wine and finer living.

Sign up : https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_p99HqCn8QZqo4-7nka6vMA

Discover Tulips & Windmills & Christmas in the Low Countries
Dec 16th, 2020 9:00AM  PT

Admire the genius of the Dutch Masters at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. Explore Hoorn’s seafaring heritage, Arnhem’s World War II history and Antwerp’s Renaissance splendor. See colorful ribbons of farmland as Dutch tulips come into bloom. Sample Belgian beers and chocolates. Step into the Middle Ages in Bruges. Roam Keukenhof Gardens, the world’s largest floral park. The best time to see the Low Countries is spring, and the best way to see them is on our 10-day cruise.

Sign up: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jn_hZMsMTDy-W5auAo08XQ

Sail West Indies Explorer and learn about Christmas in the Caribbean
Dec 17th, 2020 12:00PM PT

Set sail on a roundtrip voyage from San Juan to explore the colorful Caribbean. Start deep in the heart of the Caribbean and avoid the long sea days associated with most Caribbean cruises—allowing you to visit more ports and spend more time discovering rich island cultures. Immerse yourself in the British, French and Dutch cultures of the Lesser Antilles as you cruise azure waters from Tortola and St. Lucia to Dominica, St. Martin and St. Thomas.

Sign up: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_RE6xN9Z-TnamuBkncCe1zg

Sail Passage to Eastern Europe discover Christmas traditions of the region
Dec 18th, 2020 9:00AM PT

See Bucharest’s 3,000-room Palace of Parliament. Make banitsa bread with a home cook in Vidin. Explore Belgrade’s Ottoman and European treasures, including 6th-century Kalemegdan Fortress. View the Danube’s towering Iron Gate. Visit a Croatian family’s Osijek home. Witness Hungary’s daredevil Puszta horsemen. Behold Budapest’s grandeur. Once hidden behind the Iron Curtain, the eastern Danube still has secrets to reveal on this enriching cruisetour.

Sign up: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WhTtaXZUQsmVBRnKvwkmdA

Discover Christmas along the Elbe and German Christmas traditions
Dec 21st, 2020 9:00AM PT

Linger longer with multi-night city stays as you explore the historic sites along the Elbe and Vltava Rivers. Experience Berlin’s modern chic, Dresden’s baroque castles and Prague’s architectural gems. This journey offers a rich blend of traditional hotel stays, Viking ships showcasing their elegance as fine floating hotels, and scenic excursions. Unlike our traditional cruises, every night is spent in port, providing an opportunity to experience enriching Viking evening excursions.

Sign up: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_hlmYQFUtQyipSGcWP08Dug

Experience the magic of Europe’s Christmas Markets
Dec 22nd, 2020 9:00AM PT

A Viking holiday river cruise is pure magic. From Nuremburg to Vienna, Germany and Austria light up with Christmas markets offering hand-carved toys and ornaments, spicy glühwein and aromatic gingerbread. Celebrate an Old World Christmas on the Danube or Rhine.

Sign up: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WTF64E7yTY2rm1WKEUcHNA

Again, I hope you’ll enjoy these virtual vacations.  Please contact us if we can help you with your next river cruise vacation.
Allow us to take care of all your travel arrangements so you can fully enjoy the experience.  Click here to get in touch!

where are US travelers visiting this Fall?

a flower lei on a beach in Hawaii

Many of my clients have been reaching out lately.  I think so many of us is so tired of this virus and just need an escape somewhere!  You might have seen social media posts of friends or others traveling and exploring new places.  You have seen news articles and media sharing actually how safe it is to travel.  Maybe you’re still on the fence though because you are just not ready to travel yet.  And it is ok.  but if you are curious where everyone is comfortable traveling to, I’ll share that my top 3 requests are : Hawaii, Mexico, and private home rental within driving distance.

This past few weeks has been all about Hawaii for me! Not only am I filling more requests for traveling to Hawaii, I feel I’m also becoming an expert of Covid-testing for Hawaii! As of Oct 15th, Hawaii has been allowing visitors to bypass the 14 days quarantine with a negative covid-test pre-arrival. It has been a slight challenge with many visitors. Changes happen weekly but mostly in the right way and to keep island residents and visitors safe. I think that’s great! And, I’m here to help you with it all!

I attended a 2 day Hawaii Virtual Conference last week with all the islands, hotels, and tour suppliers.
Normally, we would meet in San Jose with some lovely immersive island music and dance experience. But a zoom will have to do this year. I still get to hear all the New Updates for all the islands so that will be helpful in planning your future getaways. I’m excited for what’s in store for you when you feel ready to travel again.

Just to quickly summarize, beginning 11/24/20, in order to not have to quarantine in a hotel room for 14days upon arrival to the islands, all travelers MUST take a Covid test within 72hrs of their flight departure, and MUST have a negative Covid-test result BEFORE they board their flight.  They cannot wait for results while they quarantine anymore.  Everyone will have to quarantine 14 days or the duration of your intended stay if you do not have a proof of  negative Covid-test before you take off.    You must also be tested by a specific list of test partners that is approved by the State of Hawaii, or again, your results will not be validated.

There are a couple more requirements that I can share with you when you’re ready to plan.

Hawaii has been welcoming visitors from US and Japan, and will be welcoming Canadian visitors mid Dec with a similar testing Safe Travels protocol.

I’ve also created a simple guide.  Click on the image and check it out.  It has a quick overview of all the islands, and different ways to see and experience the islands,  plus, a few pages dedicated to traveling to Hawaii during the pandemic.   I hope you find this resource helpful.  And that you can use it to plan your next Hawaii family vacation!

woman performing a hula dance
Let me also share this lovely video of Hawaii with you. It’s a beautiful story of the legacy of Hula dance. Or you might enjoy this article: Building a Hula Legacy. Enjoy! Keep dreaming of your next family vacation in the beautiful islands.

Great ways to see our US National Parks for your next family vacation

Family hiking in Yellowstone National Park

I know many of us enjoy traveling overseas to foreign countries and experience different cultures and local customs.  We get excited visiting iconic sites and creating lifetime memories. But we often forget to take advantage of visiting our own national parks in the US.  Without a passport or long haul flight, it is easy to do and can provide a great family vacation.   Let me show you how to elevate your experience though.  Forget packing your family into the car and do a road trip.  Drop the DIY vacation.  Instead, use a tour operator.  Join a guided tour.  Preferably one that is small group of no more than 12 guests, or better yet, one just for your family, or maybe your own multi-generational family group.  Or another family or friends you enjoy traveling with.  Form your own exclusive tour.

Let me share a few benefits of joining a small group or private guided tour:

1. They can do it better.
You can do all the driving, plan out the lodging, figure out where to eat or what to see or where to hike. But imagine having someone do it all FOR YOU.  And not just anyone, but someone who has experience leading tours every day and know the ins and outs. They're the experts of the destination you're visiting. They can take care of all the details so you can truly      have a vacation.  Doesn’t that feel good???

family hiking in Yellowstone National Park
family hiking in Yellowstone National Park, pc: Austin Adventures

2. The Guides
Guides from great tour companies are passionate about sharing their knowledge and ensuring you have a trip of a lifetime.  They keep the trip fun. They can share about the history of the parks and knowledge of the wildlife and plants you came across. And they can also tell you the best restaurants in town.  More importantly, they show you the best way to see the parks and sites given the limited vacation time you have.  They know the best hikes and bike rides, the best spot for your pictures for the Instagram post, the hidden gems.

3. Connections
In these times of traveling during a pandemic, you want to travel with guidance.  A tour operator who has the behind the scenes access to information or partnerships with a hotel or a sought after activity provider.  Or even insider connections with National Park Service.  Let someone take care of the details so you can enjoy the moment and be present. Someone who takes care of the safety protocols and provide a stress free experience.

Maybe this is something you can consider for next summer vacation. It’s great for our mental and physical health to spend time outdoors.  Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Bryce/Zion, what’s your pick?  I have partnerships with some great tour operators. I work with the best and I know you can trust.   Some of these small group scheduled tours are very popular and already beginning to get booked up for 2021.  I can design custom itineraries. RV guided tours.  Or I can set up a luxury home stay with guided activities for you based on your wish and interests.  I know you miss traveling.  I hope I can send you on another adventure soon.  Reach out if you want to get started with planning.

Private Home and Villa Rentals for your next Family Vacation

Mexico Villa Rental

a family gathering over the holidays

I know many of us are really getting tired of the same view at home, plus, we long to spend time with our extended families.  Grandparents want to see their grand-kids.  Cousins want to hang out. Siblings want to wine and dine and catch up in person vs. over Zoom or Facetime.  What if you can do that?
Plus, how are we going to handle the Turkey and all the holiday trimmings for our festive holiday meals?
Perhaps you can consider having a small get together of maybe 12 or less family members over the holidays at a large home rental that can fit everyone.  I recommend prior to the gathering, everyone try to be extra careful with hygiene and social distancing for 2 weeks.  You can even get Covid tested first before the gathering to give yourself more peace of mind.

I don’t arrange Air B&B or VRBO rentals for my clients.  It’s mostly because there is just no way I can guarantee the quality and service of each rental.  If something has to go through me, they have to be vetted and secured and that I know you will have access to a great customer service team should any unexpected issues arise.  I’ve been partnering with multiple villa rentals service providers over the years.  I have a large inventory and access to many home rentals throughout the world.  Most only work through travel advisors and not direct with consumers.  These companies have strict policies that they make each homeowners abide by, before they let them join the rental program.  Even before Covid, the cleaning standards are high, and now each has agreed to even more to keep guests safe.

10 Reasons to consider a private home & villa stay:

  1. It’s just you and your family, not thousands of strangers.
  2. Large portfolio of vetted, inspected, guaranteed and managed properties to choose from.
    ( 2 bedrooms to 12 bedrooms; amenities like private pools, gym, arcade, home theatre)
  3. Many villas feature impeccable landscaping and views, outdoor spaces, interior design and furnishings, and more.
  4. Each home is cleaned and staffed by professionals and maintenance team.
  5. Some homes come with Your Own Villa Concierge who is committed to providing around-the-clock personalized services.
  6. Explore the local attractions, national parks, best beaches, and more. We can arrange everything you need to craft a truly unique experience designed around your wants and wishes.
  7. Arrange your own cooking classes, pizza party, wine tasting, private chefs, even yoga classes in your villa!
  8. We can stock the villas with groceries pre-arrival, and provide on site staff like chefs, nanny, head housekeeper, driver and gardeners.
  9. Security: many villas are in gated communities and also some has night watchman
  10. A unique way to celebrate with your family and make memories that last.

 

Ideas for your next villa.

United States:

There’s no need to travel far for the getaway of your dreams! We have coastal and mountain homes with amazing views and hiking trails throughout California, fun themed homes in Florida, and mountain retreats in Colorado and Utah for your next ski trip.  And of course, now that Hawaii is lifting quarantine with a negative Covid-test starting Oct 15, it’s always a good idea too!   I can find the perfect villa for you. A one-of-a-kind getaway may only be a short flight (or drive) away.

Mexico:

The easiest international destination to travel to currently.  No testing required. And only a short flight from US airports, with consistent reliable flight schedules.  You can land and be transported straight to your villa for your week long stay.  We can arrange private services for your snorkeling trip or sunset cruises so you can enjoy the view and warm water that is Mexico.  Just make sure your passport is not expired!

Caribbean:

Turks & Caicos, Aruba, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Antigua are already open to visitors for a few months now. More islands are considering reopening their borders to international travelers soon.  Whether you’re looking for a 1-bedroom couple’s retreat or a sprawling seaside estate for the whole family, I will help deliver that to you.

Villa in Mexico facing the ocean
pc: Villas of Distinction
kitchen and dining room in a rental villa in Colorado
pc: Villas of Distinction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More affordable than you think.

Villas can accommodate larger groups so you can have more share the cost.  The cost per person is often less than a hotel room or a resort stay. You get far more space. Food & Beverage expenses are significantly lower.  You can have a more personalized experience with more privacy.

I have suppliers offering attractive promotion.  Some are offering up to $2000 destination credits for you to use during your stay.  Some villas even offer 1 or 2 free nights stay.

Peace of mind booking policies:
Most villas now have a more flexible payment terms policy. Most have late final payments due date and a more relaxed cancellation policy. Plus, I can always recommend travel insurance policy to protect your vacation investment.

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Do you feel ready?  Or still have concerns or lingering questions? Please reach out to me to get started before all the inventory is gone.  If you want to explore some more before contacting me, here is a link for your to preview some homes.

Remember, it is always my wish to help you plan an effortless vacation and one that you can cherish the memories forever. Renting a villa is simple and I’m here to help guide you along the way. Start Planning!

 

Mexico, Caribbean, Tahiti and Hawaii opened for travel during pandemic

image with title of Global Safe Travel Protocols , hashtag Safe Travels

The pandemic has impacted our travel industry like little else in our lifetime yet travel always comes back. It’s not purely a luxury ‘item’ anymore – it’s a way of life to stay connected to family, friends and our sanity.  There is something extraordinary about travel. Exploring new places and sharing new experiences together help brings us closer.  Though most cruise lines have decided to pause sailings until at least Sep 15, a lot of destinations have opened up to tourism again.  Let me share here what it’s like for some of these destinations. You know the beach is calling you!

Hawaii Waikiki Beach

Mexico.  Although you may hear Mexico still has a large number of virus cases, their beach towns have kept things under control and has been welcoming travelers since June 1. They have achieved seal of approval from the World Travel and Tourism Council as a safe destination by following straight global protocol guidelinesGlobal Safe Travel Protocols

This is a great option with a short direct flight from most US cities. No Covid testing is required to go. Just a health form.  Of course, anyone not feeling well should stay home. There will be health screenings and temperature scans at airports. Regular precautions like face masks and frequent hand washing will be the new normal.  I’ve attended many trainings of different resorts and with the tourism board of Cancun, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta area and I feel most confident of this destination.  Hotels & resorts have elevated their cleaning measures to meet our even higher expectations now.  They are also required to have only 30% occupancy now. Dining and pool areas will be less dense.  Buffet serving formats will be changed if it’s available. Occupancy will slowly increase as things improve.  There are many amazing resorts here. You can have hotel rooms to suites to villa style stay. Lots of space to spread out.  In the Fall, there is also the turtle nesting season if you want to observe it.

Caribbean.  Many islands are also beginning to open up. Some islands require a negative Covid-19 test or quarantine. Some also require travel insurance and a travel declaration form submitted prior to arrival. Lots of variations here, so best to consult your friendly travel advisor.

Tahiti.  Opening July 15. Again, a negative Covid-19 test within 3 days of arrival is required. Officials can conduct random tests a few days after arrival. Some resorts are not opening right away.  Since there are already limited number of hotels here and not every hotel is open, expect limited availability. Flight schedules are also limited. The nonstop flights from SFO is now gone.  But still have nonstop from LAX.

Hawaii.  Hawaii was never closed, but it was requiring a 14day quarantine upon arrival. Beginning Aug 1, that requirement has lifted.   Travelers will need a negative Covid-19 test within 3 days of arrival. Once you get there, it’s paradise!  I also have lots of lodging options that can align with your comfort level.

So, what does all these mean? What if someone reserves a trip and then as it gets closer to vacation, got tested positive for Covid-19? Well, just like all other times, you should have travel insurance.  A few travel suppliers I work with have now implemented flexible cancellation policy as well as good insurance coverage options.  I will not let you leave home without one as I will always watch out for your safety and travel investment.

COVID-19 virus testing differs by location. Many testing locations require an appointment and a doctor’s order while some Urgent Care locations permit walk-in or drive-thru testing. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has partnered with several pharmacy and retail locations to accelerate testing in more communities across the country. HHS provides links for testing locations.

If you’re feeling ready, flights and hotels are ready to give you that nice vacation you know you so want to have.  Please reach out to me to discuss your options and get further clarity on different entry requirements or how to travel safely. Start Planning!