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Travel Lifestyle

The State Of Travel

Right now, there are so very many articles on how Coronavirus is affecting the travel industry are overwhelming. But, fellow travelers, I will jump in the pool and do my best to report to you the state of travel. Ready?

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The Overall Picture

To really understand the staggering numbers of COVID-19, check out the World-O-Meter Coronavirus Count. While the numbers are self-reporting, it gives you a look at the big picture country by country and state by state.

As for looking at a classic two week vacation now, consider this: most countries, including the U.S. are requiring 2 weeks of quarantine upon arrival. So lets put that together. Two weeks of quarantine upon arrival plus two weeks of limited touring (depending on what’s open and available) then two weeks quarantine upon arrival back in the States. Basically, you’re looking at a six week commitment. Ouch. In other words, yes, you can go to Ireland but do you have the time and will the locals be welcoming?

The State Status

If you do want to get a stamp in your passport, your first stop is the State Department. According to them, most travel advisories are at a level 3 meaning “reconsider travel”. Get that? It does NOT say “no travel”. Check out the full list of State Department Travel Advisories.

Interestingly enough, two countries had a Level 1 advisory meaning “travel as normal” : Macau and Taiwan! Who knew? Similarly, New Zealand, New Caldonia, and Thailand all found themselves with a travel Level 2 “exercise increased caution”.

Regardless of how The State Department feels, you’ll also need to check to see if American passports are allowed at your destination. So, who is welcoming American? Not the Mexicans or Canadians. Our neighbors are so concerned about virus spread that they’ve pretty much closed down their borders. However, tons of islands in the Carribean like Aruba and Barbados as well as countries like Belize are open with screening and/or negative testing results. A few others are Croatia, the UAE, French Polynesia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Sinai tourist area of Egypt. It’s certainly an interesting mix!

No matter where you land, expect required testing (or handing over of results) and temperature checks.

Cruise Crisis

Here’s an easy one- you can’t. Ports of call are not accepting ships so they can’t schedule anything. The American government (along with most others) is literally enforcing no sail ban.The cruise industry has their eyes on the future and is working on booking the 2021 season. River cruising seems to be taking the lead in this race as booking have almost doubled. Perhaps consumers feel comfortable with a small, floating home base.

It’s All Up In The Air

Since March, the airline industry has probably shown the most ebb and flow. From sanitizing aircraft to reducing the flight load, airlines have been experimenting with what is going to work.

For example, most airlines are doing away with the empty middle seat policy with Southwest looking to bow out on September 30th. And while airplanes have never sparked so much, I still recommend bringing your own wipes to wipe down your immediate area.

With shrunk down fight loads comes unexpected delays and lots of rescheduling. With airlines working with a fraction of the normal schedule, domestic planes seem packed to the brim as travelers look for options closer to home. Meanwhile, international flights seem to have plenty of room due to the aforementioned government restrictions. For more on individual airlines check out this Travel and Leisure Coronavirus Airline Update.

With so much chaos, some travelers are looking at out of the box options like JSX Hop On Charters which lets you tag on to a private charter for a reasonable cost at the last minute. A very cool option.

Predicting The Future

So, with everything topsy-turvey, what’s a traveler supposed to expect? My reliable Magic Eight Ball is ready to wow you with scientific precision. Here are my five travel predictions as we climb out of the Coronavirus abyss.

  • National Parks Will Be Packed! Travel junkies are going to get out somehow and the park system is waiting. In fact, the National Park System has not seen the drastic drop in numbers that most other areas of the industry have dealt with. Expect prices to stay at retail and reservations to be at a premium.
  • Cleanliness will be important currency. Expect marketing campaigns to let you know that they value cleanliness more than anything. Airplanes will continue to sparkle and hotel rooms will be break the seal ready for your arrival.
  • Slow travel is king. The days of 21 European countries in 10 days are gone. Instead, look for trends that drop you in a singular destination for an extended amount of time. Slow travel also seems to benefit the environment by cutting into that carbon footprint just a bit.
  • River cruising will continue to power over ocean liners. River cruising is already feeling the love and that will continue. Huge ocean craft have gotten a bad rap lately while little known river long boats are just starting to find their place. The smaller boats have a cozier feel and are more welcome in ports like Amsterdam and Venice.
  • The age of the American road trip is back. With a feel of semi-isolation, road tripping is a comfort zone for many. In fact, RV sales are up and people are on the road already. As Americans continue to dip theirs toes back in the travel pool, road trips will, at a minimum, be the first step back to their travel mojo.
Travel Think Tank

When the news gets in the way of your travel….

This post originally was created when there were worker strikes in France in 2019. It seems rather appropriate during these COVID-19 times…. because, just like in 2019, we will travel again!

I’m posting this today in honor of my best friend. She and her daughter were meant to board a plane today and take off for a well deserved trip to Europe. It’s hard when your hopes are high only to be dashed by something so far out of your control. I know it’s a hard pill to swallow but we will travel again!

Way back in 2019…

My sister-in-law and I were recently chatting about her upcoming trip to Europe. They are excited to spend some time in London and Paris. A great idea to enjoy in January to my mind! She, however, is now a bit concerned with the Paris leg of her trip due to the recent events that have shut down icons such as the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. A very real concern for any traveler.

So what do you do when your perfect plans are flung into the chaos of current events? Well, first thing’s first: check on your travel insurance options. Does the inconvenient payment you made when you booked cover a refund? Probably not however it is possible that it could cover a reservation change. Additionally, if you used travel services through your credit card, like American Express, check in with them to see if their services can assist you in any changes you need to make.

COVID-19 Note: It looks as if EVERYONE is on the refund bandwagon, so you should be good to go! If you don’t have a reasonable refund option don’t forget to try and negotiate a voucher for future use.

Pivot

Many times, however, we are locked into our plans because of time and money. So, how do you make the most of what you do have? It’s time to think out of the box. Can’t get to Rome? Swing on down to Sorrento. Athens is all caught up at Syntagma Square? Hydrofoil to Hydra. Paris in Protests? Check out stunning Strasbourg or romantic Reimes. A quick shift to a second city like this allows you to keep on track, enjoy, but stay clear of whatever issues are going on.

COVID-19 Note: Think about second cities and alternate destinations when you get around to using all of those travel refund vouchers. Your voucher may extend your vacation options later on.

Clever and careful planning will always be the cornerstone to good travel but just as important is the ability to be resilient and keep our eye on the prize: good, educational travel experience. For now, I hope that the people of Paris can work out their differences and my sister-in-law gets to enjoy a little shopping on the Champs Elysees.

COVID-19 Note: Paris indeed rallied back in plenty of time for a great January visit. Today, Europe is slowly starting to emerge from the Coronavirus crisis. Because it will take quite a while for Americans to start crossing the pond, look for the travel industry to take the next three years to lick its wounds and get back on track.

When things change during your planning or while you're traveling, what are your options?
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