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Why you should put Fiji on your radar

People kayaking in the waters of Fiji islands

I want to share why you should put Fiji on your radar for your next family vacation or romantic getaway! I am so excited that Fiji is reopening. I know many of my West Coast clients are not too excited about Hawaii anymore as it’s so close and been there often.  Lately, you also hear about the overtourism there. Mexico doesn’t appeal. The Caribbean is too far.  Tahiti is not family-friendly ( although I disagree! ).   Fiji in the South Pacific plans to open the borders again on December 1, 2021.  Just in time for the holidays. The Fijians have been getting ready for the last year and a half. They have prepped well and have health and safety protocols in place and now an 80% vaccination rate as well. 

Some quick facts about Fiji:

No visa is required for US or Canadian citizens.
English is the official language.
Tipping is not customary.
Their currency is Fijian Dollar FJD

Fiji is a year-round tropical destination.  It is a 10hrs flight from Los Angeles. 2 meals, 2 movies, and a quick nap and you’ll arrive in paradise.  Once you arrive, you will really feel a sense of relaxation like no other.  It is a place for visitors to reconnect—with nature, with their loved ones, with themselves.  There are no nightlives or high rise or lots of shopping. It’s a place to disconnect from every day and reconnect with your family and loved ones.

Royal Davui Sunset-Plunge-Pool-Villa-Livingroom
pc: Royal Davui resort

There are 2 large islands with multiple little ones.  Most vacations I plan either have clients go straight to their island resort and spend a week enjoying water sports and some hikes offered on that island, or they stay in Viti Levu, the large island you arrive on, which offers much more tours and cultural activities when staying along the Coral Coast.  Another fun way to see the country is to combine a resort stay with a 3-day island cruise.

Fijians are very friendly and many families take advantage of their resort staff as full-time nannies while parents enjoy R&R.  Or enjoy tours like river tubing, ATV, zip-lining, golf, sailing, diving, kayaking, and more. It’s a place for adventures.

Some resorts are brands you’re familiar with—Marriott, Hilton, Intercontinental, but most are luxurious independent resorts offering a very delicious travel experience. Instead of bungalows or hotel rooms, you stay in bures. There are garden bures and more popular beachfront bures. Steps from the warm water.  Some properties also have overwater bures where you can just jump into the water and snorkel and swim just like Tahiti.

Fiji is a great place for divers and nature lovers.  While she has some very luxurious 4, 5, and 6-star resorts, they are not overdeveloped. They are conscious of sustainable tourism. Some islands are small enough that you can take over the entire island with your own party.

I like Fiji as a destination because it exudes the no worry vibes.  You arrive.  You relax at the resort. If you choose to do some tours, drivers pick you up. No need to worry about driving or GPS.  It’s a place with great hospitality and for some much-needed sun & fun, but learn about a different culture that is unique.

beachfront resort in Fiji
pc:JeanMichelCousteau Resort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been immersed in more training the last few weeks and onwards because a lot of resorts have done renovations and upgraded their experience and I always try to stay up to date!  If I can help share more about Fiji or help you plan a nice family or romantic vacation, pls go to the Plan a Trip page to get started!

Why I recommend Guided Vacations for your next Family Vacation

The biggest benefit, I say, is to have someone on the ground with you, taking care of everything for you. If you’re are reading this blog, chances are your desire to travel the world is high. Some of us have put our passports away for almost 1.5yrs.  We long to travel but feel unsure still if it’s safe or how things will be the same or not.  Our desire to travel remains high. Though I’ve planned a lot of custom-tailored independent travel, I do feel that guided, escorted vacations are going to be your best friend and can elevate your travel experience especially in the next year or 2 as we get the pandemic under control.

Many people have misconceptions about guided tours.  Thinking you will be stuck on the bus all day? Or that your schedule is so rigid and you have to go to tourist sites one after another all day long? Or that you’re staying at boring hotels and eating standard American dishes? Perhaps thinking you’ll be fighting for space with 50 other travelers?  Please think again. Or be informed.

Guided vacations are so much more in tune with the demands of travelers. Since Covid, a lot of tour operators are running small group tours of 12-16 guests. Even better, gather 6-8 friends and form your own private group with discounts built-in.  Everyone is either tested or has been vaccinated before they can sign up so you can feel comfortable with your travel mates.

There is a lot of leisure time built into the itineraries.  There are also choices.  Some tour companies now offer a few options for each city—maybe you want to go to a museum with a guide, or you want to go do a round of golf instead, or you want to have free time and do some shopping, these are all possible.

Transportation is almost always door-to-door service and you don’t have to stand in lines to get admission tickets. And now with the pandemic, they have special team handling and being on top of the travel entry requirements.  If anything changes, they’re on it.  They figure out the logistics of getting your Covid test done before returning to the USA.  And if anything becomes an issue, they’re responsible to help you with the next steps.  Can you feel the peace and security that can come with this? I say it’s priceless!

See this other long list of benefits:

All-inclusive pricing:  you have your lodging, your meals, your tours all budgeted in advance.

Exclusive experiences: because of their connections and network, you have privileged experiences… such as an after-hours visit to the Sistine Chapel or King Tut’s tomb with your own group vs in a room packed with hundreds of others.  Or having creative dining experiences that you cannot buy on your own.

Flexibility: it’s not as rigid a schedule as before.  Lots of free time and also choices of activities.  Some tours travel between cities using trains or flights or even yachts!

Guides and Tour Directors: Your best friend!  They really are so passionate about their work and care about you.  I often have clients who sign up with whatever tours their guide does next.

Destinations:  there is a tour for almost every destination.  It’s especially great for places where you feel you can have more hand-holding due to the language barrier or difficulty of transport. Egypt, China, Africa, S. America area is great for guided tours.

Pricing:  there are a variety of tour companies and each has different programs.  Whether you need something affordable or very luxurious with extraordinary experiences, I can find something that matches.

Great Company: Guided tours are great for solo travelers to meet others, families wanting to meet other families so kids have same-age companions, and also great for multi-generation travel!  Imagine taking your family of 12 everywhere!

There are so many tour companies and within each, so many tour options. Take advantage of my service and knowledge to help select the right tour for you.  Plus, I can arrange airline tickets and offer insurance recommendations.  Get in touch and get started planning your next trip!

More USA Travel Ideas

American flagged suitcase to represent some US Travel Ideas

I know many more countries are opening their borders this summer and we are hitting record numbers in air travel.  Yet, many people still have hesitation to travel cross countries and want to wait a little longer.  Maybe you don’t want to be on a long flight with mask on, or you don’t want to worry about getting Covid-tested to return home and to deal with the “What if” situation. What else can we do here in the US?   Here are a few quick family vacation ideas.  I hope it serves.

Rail Travel:

Rocky Mountaineer Trains are operating a brand new routing in the US starting in August.   This is a luxury train experience and I don’t know if it’ll still be available next year! So take advantage of it if you’ve always wanted a nice train service with beautiful sights along the way.  It’s a quick trip. Find more info on this link: https://www.bit.ly/RockyMountaineerPromo

Amtrak is celebrating 50 years and is also another great way to travel the country.  Whether you’re interested in Glacier National Park or catching the foliage in New England, this can be a great experience. Ditch the rental car and hop on board.  You can have private rooms, some even with private bathrooms.  There are some good dining offered too.
Check out some offers here: https://www.amtrakvacations.com/vacation-types/famous-routes

Biking and Hiking Trips:

Backroads has lots of great ideas if you want to stay in the US and stay active during your vacation. Not all of their trips are challenging. In fact, many go at an enjoyable pace. You get to visit cities and towns and enjoy nice meals and companies and have a friendly trained guide to escort you for a few days of hiking or walking. Bye maps, phones & GPS. There are different adventures for families, for couples, even trips tailored for olden teens or young adults.   Check out this trip for Washington San Juan Islands for inspiration: https://www.backroads.com/trips/WPSI/washington-hiking-tour#Overview
What I highly recommend to make it more fun is to find a few friends or family to form your own private trip! You get to pick your dates and travel with those you love to spend time with.

Cruising Lakes & Rivers of America:
I’ll be watching closely for the resumption of Great Lakes Cruises.  I think with the CDC now allowing operations of cruises from US ports, this cruise might still return this summer? Or Fall? And hopefully, vaccine administration will pick up faster with our northern neighbor, and that we can travel to Canada again. That will help open up this lovely cruise itinerary and allow us to explore the Great Lakes cities and towns in a different way.  Check out the options here: https://www.victorycruiselines.com/cruises/great-lakes-cruises/

If lakes are not your cup of tea, check out the river options. Mississippi, Ohio, and Columbia Rivers. I especially like the Columbia River cruises due to the scenery.  You don’t have to wait for Canada. You can go this summer!  http://bit.ly/ColumbiaRiverCruise

Well, I covered bikes, trains, and cruise-mobiles. Feel free to call or schedule a chat to brainstorm ideas for your next trip!  Enjoy the freedom of being able to travel freely again now that the pandemic is under control here in the US.  And if you would like more tips and updates like this, please subscribe to the newsletter!

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!

 

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.

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!