Author: Kathryn GerkenReconnect Travel Planning Travel Tips
Sunset in Florida

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst

One of my stepfather’s favorite sayings while I was growing up was, “We will go until we are turned back.” This applied to many of our family camping trips in the rainy Pacific NW. This philosophy is what I use today in my personal life as well.

Best laid plans

Tim and I planned, last May 2020, to spend Christmas with our sons. One living in Seattle and the other in Hawaii. The plan was to pick up one son in Seattle on our way from London, with a stop to see our parents in Seattle and then proceed to Hawaii for Christmas. Surely, we will be able to travel by December, right?

Our family in Honolulu, Hawaii

Our first flight from London to Seattle was cancelled, so we re-booked to fly through Miami. More on that later. We made it to Seattle on December 14th. We scheduled and took our COVID-19 test to enter Hawaii and were able to spend the holiday with our sons. That, of course is the easy sounding version. There was a lot of rescheduling and what ifs and contingency plans.

Be flexible

Our flight from Seattle to London was also cancelled, so we decided to come back to Florida for a while. On our initial trip through Florida in December, we purchased land for a home to be built. Design appointments and closing were going to be done remotely, but with the cancellation of our flight we decided to do this in person. The UK, then went into additional lockdowns, so I am currently writing to you from Florida.

Caspersen Beach, Venice, Florida

Having been through and still going through the uncertainty of travel, I am here to tell you that it is possible, but you must plan and have a backup plan for your backup plan.

My outlook for the return of tourism is cautiously optimistic for the latter half of 2021. We must all consider our own risk factors when traveling, as we each bring something different to the table.

Some destinations are welcoming guests

If you are squirming in your chair to travel, consider a domestic location. You can get to Florida, New Orleans, Arizona, or New Mexico to name a few places without (at the time of this writing) requiring a test. Restrictions are constantly changing, which is why travel agents are here to help you navigate these waters. Hawaii requires testing to enter the state (again, at the time of this writing). The airlines and the state have worked to make this as seamless as possible.

With the additional restrictions to enter the US from an international destination, many have crossed Mexico and the Caribbean from their list. Tourism, however, is swiftly adapting to help you as well. I have a list of all hotels that are offering in-house testing to return to the US for their guests. If you are ready to travel, they are ready to welcome you.

Plan for the worst

Make sure that you have enough extra time built into your trip to be able to absorb any delays or illnesses that you may experience while you are away from home. Make sure you have extra medications packed in case your trip is unexpectedly extended like ours has been. If your prescription is written by a US doctor, a local pharmacy should be able to provide an emergency refill for you. If your prescription is written by a foreign doctor (like one of ours), you will need to visit a local walk-in clinic to have an emergency or bridge prescription written by a physician there which can then be filled at a local pharmacy.

Don’t leave it to the last minute

There is already pent-up demand for 2022 travel, and I can book into 2022 even now. It is not too early to book. Many companies are offering refundable deposits or future credit vouchers if you decide to cancel. If it is still unsafe to travel, many companies offer refunds provided they are the ones to cancel a tour. For this reason, small group tours, river cruises and ocean cruises offer the best guarantees for your money. Independent travel would have a lot more moving parts that are potentially non-refundable. Make sure you know which parts of your trip are refundable and which parts will be replaced with a credit for future travel.

Is your passport up to date?

Whether you are thinking of traveling domestically or internationally, please remember that the Real-ID are slated to go into effect in October 2021. From that date forward you will need to have a passport or other acceptable form of ID to fly. You can read more here. Passports are taking longer than usual to process. They must not expire earlier than 6 months after your return date to be considered valid for travel.

Travel with me!

Here is how I am hoping for the future. I have three trips that I am currently booked for with a group or on my own. I plan to go until I am turned back. You are welcome to join me for any or all.

  • 03 September 2021 – Cosmos Tour of Ireland and Scotland, 12 days
  • 05 December 2021 – Avalon Christmas Market River Cruise from Vienna to Nuremburg and two nights in Prague, 6 nights river cruise and two nights in Prague.
  • 05 September 2022 – Celebrity Cruise Venice, Turkey and the Greek Islands, 10 nights
Other thoughts for later in 2021 or 2022
  • Rocky Mountaineer Train Voyages in Canada
  • Mississippi River Cruise – Memphis Music Theme
  • Columbia River Cruise – Wine Theme

Long Weekend Getaways or Work Remotely Trips:

  • New Orleans
  • Savannah
  • Nashville
  • Memphis
  • Charleston

I am busy with online training during this time to keep myself informed of the constantly changing regulations and the updates in health and safety protocols from my many suppliers. By the end of February, I plan to have a certification with ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors) as a verified agent.

I hope that you have found my update helpful. I am cautiously optimistic for travel this year and in 2022. The industry is poised for a quick comeback as vaccines are issued and the world gets to move forward into a new normal. I am looking forward to partnering with you for your future travel plans.

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