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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!

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!

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.