As parts of the world begin their initial phases for re-opening during COVID-19, we are starting to see a glimmer of what hotel and resorts stays could look like as people move forward with vacation plans.
As we touched on in a previous post about what to expect when you travel next, the new normal for accommodations will look a little different than what you’re used to. While certain factors will be similar across the board, each hotel – whether it’s state specific here in the United States, or abiding by country regulations that differ from place to place – will also have their own take on how they are choosing to incorporate safety and sanitation protocols in the future.
With the above in mind, I wanted to give you a heads up about what you might expect in the near future.
- Speedy Check-In? Don't Mind if I do! -
While this won’t necessarily be implemented in every hotel, we’ve received confirmation that a high percentage will be instituting a contactless check-in experience. Your smartphone is going to be used for a lot more than sharing memes and applying filters in the future and it’s not all bad! Contactless check-in in many cases will be done via an app or through a website online and will often allow you to bypass the lobby and head straight to your room!
In cases where that isn’t possible, you’ll find social distancing markers in lobbies and staggered approaches to checking in guests – and I don’t think any of us are going to be unhappy about streamlined check-in processes so that we can get started on our vacay stat!
As you’ve probably anticipated, health screenings are going to be a lot more prevalent in our lives for a while. In addition to airport and customs screenings, many countries and individual hotels are instituting their own health screenings. Depending on the property these could be as simple as filling in a health questionnaire or as cautionary as temperature checks and a visit with an on-site nurse or doctor.
Adjusted Staffing Measures
Visitors and staff on property will all have rigorous sanitization and safety protocols – most often even prior to entering the grounds. Some locations will have completely separate entrances where staff are required to enter via a sanitation tunnel, others are requiring that staff change into uniforms upon arrival at work so that each uniform can be appropriately laundered prior to their next shift and not be exposed to any elements outside of the property.
You’ll also likely view a decrease in staff who enter your room – rather than a butler filling the mini-fridge, a porter bringing extra amenities, etc, all tasks that need to be completed within a guest room will be completed by one staff member – minimizing exposure for both staff and guests. Additionally, staff will likely be required to wear gloves and masks and will be greeting you in contactless ways.
Social Distancing Requirements
As previously mentioned, all locations will be implementing various social distancing measures. Depending on the country that you visit those social distancing measures could be anywhere from 6-10 feet but all destinations and properties have confirmed that social distancing will be required. You’ll find markers in highly trafficked areas of the property and restaurant tables, pool and beach loungers, and gym equipment will all be separated by the appropriate distances required.
Limited Amenities and Services
Building upon our previous prediction that guests could expect to see some services, amenities and activities halted or reduced once travel resumes again, we have received confirmation that that certainly will be the case in many locations.
Depending on the property and service, these will differ – and it’s important to keep in mind that what may be in place when you plan your vacation may not be once you arrive.
A few things seem to be prevalent mostly industry wide such as buffet service either being suspended altogether in favor of a'la carte options or self-service not being an option at buffets – rather, you'll be served by a specific server at each station.
Likewise, restaurants will have a reduced capacity in order to abide by social distancing guidelines and there will be limits on the number of guests who can be seated together. For large groups it will be paramount to plan early and to work with your travel agent in order to arrange for group dining options.
Swim-up bars could be closed entirely or open with restrictions, and on-property watersports, in some locations, are requiring that guests are present while machines are sterilized prior to their use.
Like all of the above, this one is fluid and ever-changing, but we know that this can be a make or break factor for many travelers.
Thus far, there are destinations which will require masks to be worn in all areas that guests congregate together and again, in other destinations, this might not be required and swim up bars may be closed or open with restriction along with water sports and other activities.
While all of this can seem daunting to wrap your head around, for the most part those in the industry who have already begun traveling have nothing but good news to report!
Most of the above changes are allowing for more personalized services to be administered to each guest, and you can rest soundly in the knowledge that cleanliness and hygiene standards have never been higher!
When it comes to planning where you want to go next and understanding the new protocols, my best advice is to reach out so that we can discuss the kind of experience that you're looking for and tailor a vacation to suit your needs.
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
If you are anything like me, your travel bug is getting anxious to explore again! It's been great to see many destinations starting to re-open and accepting tourists again these past few weeks, and I'm looking forward to seeing even more this summer.
As I have started planning new vacations again, there is one thing I noticed trending in regards to the immediate future of vacation planning... You must plan in advance and prepare more than you normally would. Let me take you on a quick imaginative journey of one of these exclusive experiences you must pre-plan, even earlier than before, to guarantee your spot!
Imagine breathtaking views that are still largely untouched by commercialism and not overrun with tourists. Picture mountain views, canyons carved by rushing waters, and stunning landscapes. Now imagine being able to view it all from a world-class train that puts you up close with nature while transporting you in luxury. You can enjoy all this and more with one of the many Rocky Mountaineer luxury train tours.
While this year is a no go for this adventure - there are already limited options for the 2021 season as everyone had to reschedule from their cancelled 2020 trip. They have a short season any how (from late April to October), so you should jump on pre-planning now or you may be stuck with waiting until 2022!
- Travel by Day, Sleep by Night -
One of the biggest problems with many train tours, is that you often end up sleeping through a large portion of your travels. Of course, this means you miss much of the scenery. Perhaps one of the most enticing aspects of the train tours offered by Rocky Mountaineer is that they feature daylight-only train tours so you won’t miss anything along the way!
While you ride in comfort viewing picture-perfect landscapes, you’ll be treated to outstanding service, gourmet meals, complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, sweet and savory snacks, and much more. The train cars give you the best seat possible to discover the wildlife and the surroundings thanks to the glass-dome windows that allow you to take in the sights without obstruction, and without the need to worry about the elements. Then, once the sun goes down, the train will stop and transfer you to a hotel where you can explore the area, before you settle in for a comfortable night of sleep.
There are three (3) main routes offered, but you also have three (3) journeys to choose from to customize the length of your trip. In addition, to deciding the type of journey and route you prefer to take, they also offer two (2) service levels that give you distinct experiences for different budgets, both offering an effortless and unforgettable vacation.
The short journey's range from spending 2-3 days onboard the train before returning to Vancouver. The most popular journey's ranges from 5-9 nights, which can go in reverse order however you choose, from Vancouver and at the other end being in Jasper or Calgary. To see even more of the incredible scenery that the Rocky Mountains has to offer, you can also combine TWO itineraries that allow you to start and end your journey from the same place. These combination tours range from just 6 to 12 nights and is a great way to see it all!
While all those options may seem overwhelming, we make it simple and help you through all the options to determine what is the best for you. Each offers it's own budget, style and inclusions, and it's our job to help you design the most perfect package! Below is a brief overview of the available routes...
Three Rail Routes Available
1). First Passage to the West
This two-day rail journey takes you from the Pacific Coast to Banff Lake Louise along the same route that was traveled more than 125 years ago. Along the way, you will witness mountains and wilderness that remains largely unchanged since those days of the first explorers.
2). Journey through the Clouds
This is another two-day rail journey, on which you will travel through the heart of the Canadian Rockies, with all of nature’s raw beauty on full display. The highlights of this tour include the majestic Mount Robson and the postcard-perfect Pyramid Falls. Stops include Vancouver, Kamloops, and Jasper.
3). Rainforest to Gold Rush
Finally is the three-day rail tour with stops in Vancouver, Whistler, Quesnel, and Jasper. This tour will take you from one extreme to another - from the world’s largest temperate rainforest to the arid ranchlands of the historic Cariboo Gold Rush region. Although there’s no gold left, the area is still rich in natural beauty.
Did I Mention the Additional Inclusions?!
From luxury accommodation in the heart of Vancouver, to a rustic inn in a quaint train stop town in the Rockies and the height of indulgence in a lake view room in a chateau overlooking stunning Lake Louise.
- Meals & Drinks Onboard:
Decadent flavors to savor with locally inspired cuisine for breakfasts and lunches as you make your way through the untamed beauty of the wilderness. Dinner and drink options are varied and available to suit every taste and diet.
- Included Adventures:
Go on an ice tour across glaciers, take a skytram across the mountains and even helicopter above some of the most sweeping vistas you'll ever see; all included, all inspiring.
- Travel Host:
Dedicated host that will make your onboard experience as memorable as the journey. You will get to know them like family with the stories they share as they take care of your every need onboard. They will also provide insight on the historic site, flora, fauna and wildlife.
As the world begins to implement various reopening strategies, so too is the travel industry and we think it’s important to take a look at what travel in the foreseeable might look like.
Although we all want to spring back into things and get back to celebrating, traveling and experience all that this amazing world has to offer, things are not going to be the “same” for a while.
As we prepare each of our clients as best as we can for their adventures going forward, we also want to share with you some new expectations to keep in mind when for your future travel.
Moving forward, travel is going to look a bit different – at this point vendors throughout the industry are beginning to release their new policies and procedures, and we can continue seeing changes as we proceed. Please read on for some things you will most likely expect when you travel next...
- Good Hygiene is the Only Jean That Doesn't Go Out of Style! -
Anticipated Resort Sanitation Protocols:
Properties are increasing their hygiene and sanitation protocols (which, honestly, is a great thing!) You can expect to find new “greetings” other than handshakes and hugs, along with a contactless guest interaction experience. You can anticipate the following (but not limited to):
The measures listed above are going to be implemented in various locales, but are not limited to the above and nor are these measures being implemented in every destination.
It’s important to remember that we are all visitors to these other nations and each company in that destination is at the mercy of whatever new policies, requirements and protocols the governments of each nation and their states decide to implement, in addition to their own personal company guidelines should they feel the need to increase provisions. These are all subject to change at any time and may continue to evolve as the re-openings progress.
None of this means that travel is halted and services will be completely non-existent of course, but it would be smart to plan your travel with the expectation of a different reality – which is not necessarily a bad thing! I think that we can all agree that increased sanitation and hygiene protocols were probably warranted and are a good thing for the health of all of us – after all - good hygiene is the only jean that doesn't go out of style! 😉
On top of that – think about the fact that check-in and check-out will now be far more expedited than ever before and you won’t be crammed onto a beach or pool area with loungers in rows upon rows touching each other or shuttle buses full of people and those are pretty great things to look forward to!
When you are ready to start planning your next getaway, just schedule your consultation and we can get the conversation started!
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I know that there are so many of us who won’t be able to celebrate our mother’s, mother figures, and the outstanding father’s who’ve played both Mom and Dad to us, in quite the same way this year.
With travel restrictions slowly lifting however, we can give the Gift of Reconnection in the form of a future travel certificate – and start thinking about the kind of travel that we can safely embark on as we enter our new normal way of life.
For those of us wanting to get back into the world and see new places or different scenery, but who are still wary of jumping right back into the fray of extensive multi-destination trips or mega-resorts, there are a number of smaller boutique and secluded style options available that are ideal to start. Let's explore a few of those today...
- Traveling in the New World as of Today -
Here are a few of my recommendations that may offer you some peace of mind as you start to venture into the new normal travel world.
While we are all excited to travel again and get back into the swing of living our lives and socializing, we understand that part of our new normal will include new and different ways to travel – safely, in a socially conscious manner – and I’m pleased that my boutique agency is able to help offer these alternative options.
Remember, travel will be booking up fast as the world begins to open up again, so even if you’re not sure when you want to make the leap to travel yet, you can absolutely schedule a free consultation to go over your needs and desires to discuss your options sooner rather than later.
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
As you can imagine, I’ve been working 'round the clock recently assisting clients with refunds, rescheduling and cancellations of everything from the quick 4-day getaways to Mexico, to rearranging entire wedding groups, as well as, month-long European adventures.
Throughout these last couple of months, as the situation has continued to evolve, I’ve noticed significant differences in vendor/supplier responses and treatment towards their guests, travel partners and staff members.
As a result, it’s made me appreciate the additional levels of security, protection, and options that are available when choosing to work with vendors that are stable enough to provide most (if not all) components for a lengthy multi-destination adventure versus securing each individual travel component with multi-vendors.
As a small business owner, I strongly believe in supporting the local communities and businesses abroad when I travel, but it’s important to understand that when working with a larger vendor, it doesn’t actually mean that you’re choosing “big business” over small and local.
Quality vendors, partner with locals in the community to ensure that they help the local economies and people, in addition to providing travelers with an immersive local experience.
To this end, I want to shine a spotlight on the “tour” experiences offered for multi-destination vacations. There are still a lot of misconceptions about taking tours, and the most common one is that a tour is squeezing onto a bus with a group of strangers and being driven past sights to snap some pictures before quickly moving on to the next place.
While those kinds of tours do exist and can be the right choice for some, there are a multitude of other ways to take advantage of the tour benefits while maintaining the flexibility of independent travel. You want to ensure that your trip is protected and that you work with the suppliers who have your best interest at heart!
- It's Better to Travel Well, Than to Arrive -
With all that in mind, I wanted to point out a few of the styles and benefits of different tour experience opportunities...
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
I hope you have been staying safe and well during this period of uncertainty we all are sharing! I have been overwhelmed by the kind words and support I've received from so many of my clients about the travel industry and how they can help us.
I know a lot of people have been displaced from their work and income amidst the pandemic, and to see the community unite to support small and local businesses where they can, has been truly inspirational!
I feel so blessed to have amazing clients like you! Since so many of you have reached out asking, I felt like it was a great opportunity to write about all the ways Destinations HD could use your support if you should feel compelled.
- Just a Few Ways You Can Help Destinations HD Endure -
Most of you are aware that I founded, built, and run this boutique travel agency – but what you might not know, is that travel advisors are commission based and that I pay my staff, and all costs associated with the business out of those commissions.
My greatest concern during this crisis has been to ensure that I am there for my clients. For the last month, I have assisted over 250 clients who have been impacted by what’s going on, and there are still many more I'm currently working with. As a travel concierge, I'm not only on your side when making your reservation by providing all the travel tips, tricks, and suggestions for your trip, but I'm also your point person should anything go awry – and it’s safe to say things have definitely gone awry.
I am so pleased to have the resources and network that I have spent a decade building, which has enabled me to assist clients as swiftly as possible during these times. However, as this crisis and worldwide travel restrictions continue, the financial impact to my business can’t be ignored.
To that end, for those that have the inclination, I'd like to share how you can provide support to Destinations HD so that once we get through this, we are able to move forward and thrive stronger than before.
Here are some simple and easy options you can do to show us your support and appreciation!
Thank you so much for your kindness and taking your time to show us your support. Together we can get through anything!
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
Book your consultation or call (913) 244-9195!
It’s crazy to think that just two weeks ago I was sharing my journey to Africa with you, and now many of us are under "stay at home" orders as we face one of the most widespread pandemics that humanity has ever seen.
While you’re probably overwhelmed with news and updates regarding COVID-19, I wanted to touch on a few things related to your travel – whether you currently have travel booked with us, another agent, or booked on your own.
Sorry it's a little long - there is a lot to go through. Thank you for reading me :)
Here are a few things to consider if you have travel plans currently booked.
Throughout this evolving situation, most all suppliers (airlines, resorts, car rentals, tours, etc) have remained consistent in assisting those who are departing first.
Anyone who is slated to depart after early May are asked to remain patient and wait for the industry to catch up on those departing earlier than you.
There are two benefits to this:
Many personnel are trying to do their job from home amidst the same health concerns the entire world is facing, the only difference is their workload has increased dramatically and they are attempting to complete their duties without access to the same systems they had in the office.
Remember this is a GLOBAL crisis, so trillions of people are in need of assistance at the same time, in addition to you. Unfortunately, this circumstance is unlike anything we have ever seen, and it will take some time, patience and understanding as everyone is adapting to the changes and massive workload. The one consistency across the travel industry is the need to assist those who in order of travel dates - so those who are supposed to be traveling soon can receive help first.
At this time, the people scheduled to travel between now and mid-May may be eligible for credits, and possibly refunds. However, if you are traveling further out than that, the odds are you will still fall under the standard cancellation policies and would need to assume all penalties associated with canceling. This is why it could be in your best interest to hang tight and wait closer to your travel dates and see what the suppliers are offering at that time. Many companies are posting their updated terms on their website, so you can go online to visit your travel suppliers website to view what their most current terms are.
I had some clients asking about cancelling weeks ago and had they done, so they would have lost thousands in payments already made, but as they waited and their travel dates got closer, I was able to secure credits and even refunds, depending on the situation and supplier.
I can honestly say that the industry has been doing a wonderful job of being there for our clients and all they’re asking for is a little patience so they have time to help everyone around the globe.
If you've booked your travel through a travel advisor, you're in luck - we are here to help you navigate terms and conditions, waivers, cancellation policies and be a liaison between you and the different vendors that are coordinated to create your travel package.
Many of you have a number of different components to your packages and my job is to help sort those out - whether it's getting train tickets in Europe refunded, submitting documentation and filling out forms for refunds, or supplying you with alternate tour, cruise, or reservation options for you to use your new credits towards.
Additionally, your travel advisor often has different phone numbers to access suppliers and other connections within the industry that we can reach out to in order to facilitate a resolution and obtain answers to questions that are not readily available. No need for you to sit on hold for 7+ hours or deal with crashing phone systems during a crisis - we alleviate that stress!
I've unfortunately seen a number of people struggling to reach the company they booked through, and in some cases, many travelers have been left with no one to speak to or anyone to help because of devious business practices and simply put, the lack of care and support for you as a client. If you have a good travel agent on your side, you can rest assure that we are doing everything we can to provide you as seamless experience as possible in a situation like this. No one should have to worry about anything but their health, communities and families at this time and if we can help ease our clients' lives right now, we will!
An important fact to bear in mind is that suppliers aren't required to change their policies if the travel can still be completed – terms and conditions are legally binding and the fact that they really are trying to do the right thing throughout this tumultuous and unprecedented time, is commendable.
We are paying very close attention to those companies treating our clients fairly and honorably, so we can move forward after life returns to normal and develop stronger professional relationships with those vendors. You can remain confident that we only work with the best in the industry - and this crisis is a good reminder of the difference in the level of support and service you can receive.
I hope I managed to answer some questions today and was able to convey a little more insight into why it might seem like the travel industry is taking a little longer than preferable to assist with your cancellations or rescheduling.
Rest assured that we are all doing everything in our power to shoulder the burden and help you so that you can spend time with your family knowing that we are diligently working to ensure that you get fair treatment and resolutions.
I began this business over a decade ago because I wanted to help people experience the world through travel and I plan to continue helping my clients - old and new - well after this is over and for many years to come.
Thank you for your support and business over the years! Together we can get through anything!
Stay safe, positive and hopeful!
*PS* For those quarantined and looking for ways to support small business at home... Please follow us on Facebook and/or Instagram and engage with our posts. Conversations are important to the algorithm behind the scenes that consider us "relevant" to be seen. That would be a huge help to us so we can continue to grow our business and hopefully find some new clients too - which will be needed as soon as we can travel again. Travel agents are paid on commission when clients travel, so it's important for us to continue to build our name and support. You're the best!!
Book your consultation or call (913) 244-9195!
The last decade was an eye-opener when it came to the real problem that plastic is having on our environment. We saw countries and citizens around the world taking action to cut down on plastic use.
But what about when you travel? Trial size toiletries, plastic cups at hotels, ziplock bags for TSA screening – the list goes on and on. Some countries (and even some local US states) have banned the use of plastics, so be sure to check your destination before getting on that jet plane.
So what can we as travelers do to minimize our impact on the beautiful destinations we visit and reduce plastic waste?
- Top 5 Ways You Can Help When Vacationing -
Luckily – it’s actually pretty easy! When the whole world jumps on board with solutions, we can implement small changes to reduce our plastic waste AND end up saving money and the planet in the long run!
These are only a few of the ways that you can help minimize your use of plastic when traveling and keep these wonderful destinations beautiful for years to come – as well as, save some money to put towards your next trip!
If you’re interested in finding out about other ways that you can contribute to being an eco-conscious traveler or need help finding the next perfect destination for your next adventure - just Book your consultation or call (913) 244-9195 today!
Well, this newsletter was supposed to be about my recent trip to a bucket list dream of mine – specifically Exuma, in the Bahamas.
If you don’t know about the famous swimming pigs of the Bahamas, give me a call and I can fill you in! It’s been a personal dream of mine to swim with the pigs in the crystal-clear waters, and this year I finally booked the trip!
As the departure date got closer, I got more and more excited – I was packed and ready to go a week before we had to leave, the house was clean, and I was tying up loose ends at work – next stop, Bahamas!
Until three days before I had to leave...
- Vitamin Sea is not an effective treatment for pneumonia -
It started with a scratchy throat and sniffle here and there, but by the next day I knew I had to go to the doctor before it got worse. I was determined to fight what I thought was just a cold before my trip, but little did I know I would be diagnosed with pneumonia. I still had a couple of days before we left though, so I took my antibiotics, went home to rest and planned to use my sheer strength of will to kick the pneumonia in two days. I got this!
Unfortunately, I was wrong, and the worst was yet to come, which is why instead of sharing my experiences and pictures from Exuma with you, I’m telling you about how life just happens sometimes - whether we think it will or not.
As upset as I was about having to cancel my trip, it would have been a million times worse if I hadn’t bought travel insurance. Luckily, I was able to get fully reimbursed for the vacation and I decided to put that money towards a different bucket list item of mine – an African Safari! (You’ll have to wait until March to hear more about that though!!) I will get another chance to get to Exuma and will try again when the timing is right.
I know it’s tempting to “wing it” when it comes to travel insurance, but the amount of things that can go wrong when you’re leaving your home are significant, and many of the instances that can occur are completely out of your control - which is what insurance is all about - unexpected situations.
Additionally, there seems to be a misconception that travel insurance is solely for if you need to cancel your trip, or that's it's a gimmick for the suppliers to make more money, but that is not the case at all.
Let's take a look at the 4 major protections that travel insurance offers:
As you can see, travel insurance can be beneficial for a number of reasons and simply put, should just be built into the cost of anyone’s getaway. You wouldn’t drive without car insurance or leave your prized possessions un-insured, so give yourself and the trip investment the same kind of protection.
No one ever intends or wants to cancel a fun and exciting trip - especially when traveling for a special celebration! I never thought I'd cancel my bucketlist trip, but coming down with pneumonia sure created a new plan for me :)
With a great travel agent and travel insurance, you’re setting yourself up for vacation success while minimizing stress! Book your consultation or call (913) 244-9195 today if you’d like to see if you’re eligible to add insurance to your already booked trip OR if you’d like to chat about creating a new vacation experience!
I can't believe this year is almost over! I'm squeezing in one last trip for the year, and heading to Exuma with the hubby tomorrow. I can't wait to share my adventure around this charming Bahamas island - be sure to follow my Facebook or Instagram pages to learn about all the fascinating experiences you can enjoy on this beautiful island.
If you are struggling with those harder to buy for people on your holiday list - I have the perfect alternative you might consider as a gift this year that they will remember for a lifetime.
Travel Is Way Better Than Stuff!
Travel is so memorable and gives pleasure that simply can’t be created from commercial goods. The truth is most people don’t remember gifts that were given to them for any given occasion, regardless of how much money you spent on it. But, ask them about trips they've been on, and they will likely be able to tell you with unbelievable accuracy the details of that trip!
Stuff comes and goes, but memories are there forever. Traveling provides us stories to tell, and inspires new dreams within us. Travel helps us to share experiences in a way objects cannot.
Travel Yields Deeper Bonds!
Consider for a moment what happens when you give the gift of an object. You hand it to the recipient. They may or may not light up with joy in the moment, but then it’s over. You have nothing further to discuss other than a comment if they wear it or use it from time to time.
Now consider what happens when you go on a trip... You can plan it together. You can visit the various sites together. You share the views, the culture, the food, etc... You’re experiencing the trip together. Then, when you get back you have memories to call upon together. It’s not a one-sided experience anymore. It’s something you can truly bond over for a lifetime.
As we travel and interact with new things, we are mentally stimulated. We ask more questions. We feel more engaged. We feel present in the moment, and more excited to be with those we’re experiencing the trip with.
Now, I know what you may be thinking - what if you give the gift of travel to someone, and you’re not going on the trip with them? You’ll still enjoy many benefits that you wouldn’t get to have with gifts of objects. For example:
Would you like help creating the perfect travel gift? Book your consultation or call (913) 244-9195 today and see how we can help plan the ultimate, treasured gift of all time! We even offer gift certificates!