Navigating travel in 2021 into 2022

Hello travel partners


This square in front of the Milan Cathedral is usually filled with people. The shopping arcade to the left the same. Today may not be the time to be there, but soon it will. So it is time to plan for 2022. If you’re ready to safely explore, a Virtuoso travel advisor, me, can help you get the most out of your trips right now with their up-to-the-minute expertise. Below, we’ve gathered some of their best advice for navigating travel right now.


If Possible, Extend Your Trip


In general, travelers are booking longer stays in a single destination. For people who can work from wherever there is Wi-Fi, they can do 30 days in Italy now. Travelers best stick with destinations that are already open to visitors, rather than waiting to see if somewhere new will open. Staying for longer periods of time is a great idea, to get the most out of a trip and avoid the hassle of testing and quarantining that comes with jetting off to multiple countries at once.


Know the Requirements


While it’s a personal choice, those who are interested in international travel need to be aware that many destinations are requiring travelers to be vaccinated. Even museums and restaurants are starting to require proof of vaccination so that visitors can enjoy their indoor experiences. I can assist with the information, but in the end you are responsible.


Pack Your Flexibility


More than anything else, bring a healthy dose of patience with you when you walk out your front door. And while last-minute hiccups may not be your idea of a relaxing vacation, they can lead to new adventures. Be flexible and enjoy the moment. The unexpected may create opportunities. Things are changing on almost a daily basis as travel restarts, so having an advisor, me, in your corner who can keep you informed is so important.


Be Prepared to Wait


Travel advisors have been seeing the effects of travel’s rapid return. The increased number of travelers means that you may come across long wait times. Many businesses are operating with skeletal crew and they’re trying their best to take care of everyone. At the airport, allot enough time to park, check in, and get to your gate. A lot of things are out of your control, so accept the current situation and choose a positive attitude. Store your energy for your trip and bring snacks – stores have limited hours and the lines are long.


Look to the Great Outdoors


When it comes to planning spring and summer trips, think outside the box. You’ve been cooped up indoors for most of the year. For now, bypass the indoor museums and churches. Let your travels for the end of 2021 and into 2022 be about outdoor exploration in big open spaces.


Ready to plan a trip? Connect with your Virtuoso travel advisor, Harriet


Edited from Virtuoso Newsletter 

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Preparing for traveling event in the COVID-Era

We have all realized that the days of traveling with just a driving license and nothing printed out are long gone. There’s a whole list of things that you need to prepare ahead in the COVID-era. Here are top tips:


Print everything out.


And we mean everything. For cruising, passenger locator form, negative COVID test result, cruise ticket, itinerary, proof of COVID insurance and anything else we could that we felt we needed to. Even though most cruise lines and tour operators are moving towards a paperless world, certainly for the COVID era many are demanding paper copies of everything.


Book everything early.


Historically, we have tended to do things last minute, but no longer. Book hotels, car parking, guides, admission tickets, PCR tests etc. well ahead of your traveling.


Get COVID travel insurance.


This is essential and is now being demanded by some cruise lines. You may be turned away or forced to buy it at the terminal. And if you already have travel insurance, ensure you understand it as not every policy covers illness due to COVID19, as some providers will not cover coronavirus or travel aboard cruise ships. If you’re going overseas, make sure your coverage also includes your hotel and related costs in case you run into a quarantine situation. Understand your window for documents and testing. This is slightly different from booking everything early. Many countries require a certain window when your test can be taken to be valid, which is usually within 72 hours. Make sure you count backward accurately, and also make sure you are taking the right kind of test, as there are different requirements.


Plan with a pro


With all of the airline issues this summer, we’ve had delays, cancellations and missed connections that would have caused you to miss out. Book all pieces through a travel agent. That way, you’ll have an advocate working for you (rather than waiting for hours on the phone for the airlines to maybe answer your call). Booking through an agent who can go to bat for you is your absolute best bet for removing stress if things change — which, this summer, was often the case. (This past week I fixed a schedule change that was three flights across the country, when two or one is the usual.)


Check and re-check policies for airlines, countries and cruise lines regularly, as they can change overnight. One day it wasn’t there, the next it was. Same thing with mixed vaccinations — they went from being not allowed to maybe allowed to not allowed again. AstraZeneca was also banned, then quietly unbanned, as long as the doses weren’t mixed. Things like that have been happening all the time, so keep an eye on the news — or speak to your travel agent.


Bring plenty of masks — disposable and cloth.


Tip: Check mask requirements — certain mask types are mandated in different countries and on different airline. Lufthansa, for example, requires a 95 or KN95 mask. Don’t be caught out having to buy masks at airports.


Think about quarantine – and take a COVID-19 test before you go. If you’re traveling overseas, read up on the quarantine policies for where you’re going. Hopefully, you won’t test positive on your trip, but it’s at least good to know what could happen if you do. You might want to bring extra medication, reading material and — if you’re still working — your laptop, in the unfortunate case you test positive. We also recommend getting a COVID-19 test before your trip, even if the country or cruise line doesn’t require it, just to make sure. If you are sick, it’s better to go through it at home, rather than in a cramped hotel room in a foreign country.


Updated August 20 2021 Edited from CruiseCritic

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Detoxing off the grid while on holiday!

The best way to connect with a place and its people: Stash the phone and leave the tablet at home. When I travel in Europe I take little to no electronics. I plan ahead and take maps. Disconnecting is a wonderful experience.


A few years ago, I took a one-week rafting trip on the Snake River with my son. The white water was smashing good fun, and the soaring geology more startling than I’d imagined. But what was most indelible was something I hadn’t considered: In the beautiful canyon, there’s no cell service and no Wi-Fi. For me this was no big deal, but others in the group were very conscious of their un-connectedness. They were having a ball!


Connectivity is all but ubiquitous in most places. According to UN data, as of 2019, two-thirds of people worldwide had mobile devices, and, given that many people have multiple devices, there were more than a billion more mobile connections than human beings. More than 50 percent of the global population has Internet access, and that number is surging. Meanwhile, 41 percent of travelers say they feel obligated to work while on vacation, even as the National Institutes of Health now links cell phone and Internet addictions to sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression – and it’s hard to find places where you can’t be found these days. Technology has brought us many great advances, but the expectations for instant communication and the increasing pace of change in the world can have negative impacts on our well-being.


That’s why the white water rafting was so eye-opening. Everyone was completely disconnected, something most had never done for years. Even though I slept on the ground and gave up showers, the lack of external commitments felt more indulgent than a stay at any five-star resort. And it’s not just me: Research links digital detoxing to enhanced attention spans, less stress, and more-fulfilling relationships. In the name of unplugged travel, here are a few favorite adventures and retreats to truly break away.


Travelers won’t find Wi-Fi on UnCruise Adventures’ Alaskan expedition ships, a feature designed to encourage better engagement with wildlife and landscapes. Daily activities on the 15-day sailing from Ketchikan to Sitka aboard the 76-passenger Wilderness Discoverer range from Zodiac outings to spot whales and paddling past sea lions in kayaks to hiking to the Mendenhall Glacier.


Many African safari operators have “modernized” with Internet connectivity, but Ker & Downey’s off-grid camps in Botswana are excellent for getting away from it all. Highlights of one of the company’s 12-day trips include walking safaris in the Okavango Delta, a wetland profuse with hippos and elephants in the country’s north, followed by overland and canoe explorations of the Selinda Spillway, an exclusive concession known for intimate big-game sightings. Even after leaving the bush, the Victoria Falls finale should drown out any thoughts of plugging in.


Nestled in a thick rain-forest canopy just outside Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano National Park, 35-villa, adults-only Nayara Springs has always focused on tranquility and seclusion, but now detox packages make it official. Upon check-in, guests hand over cell phones and laptops to be placed in resort safes, and plug into nature with bird-watching walks, open-air yoga classes, and soaks in each villa’s private, mineral-hot-springs plunge pool. Thermal-water facials and hot-stone massages add to the relaxation. Detox programs include three nights’ accommodations and breakfast daily.


The antidote for #southbeach overload: the 326-room Mandarin Oriental, Miami’s digital detox, where guests store cell phones in mini sleeping bags and check into a suite stocked with a basket of puzzles and games in place of TV. A spa consultation provides Mayo Clinic tips on how to manage technology in life, while yoga, a singing bowl session, a massage designed to remove the strain of device overuse, and a healthy bento-box lunch at the pool ensure relaxation. Digital detox includes two nights’ accommodations, breakfast daily, and a $100 spa credit.


I remember so clearly 30 some years ago, when I suggested to a Harvard professor to go to a Club Med which at the time had no telephones or TV’s in the room, let alone room keys, he just about freaked out. Being in the moment, just stopping can be the best holiday ever. Let me help you plan your escape.   

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Create It

The best way to predict the future is to create it.”—Abraham Lincoln

It is clearly time to create your future! Slowly but surely I am getting requests for travel in 2022. I do see the light at this very, very long tunnel. Yes, the Covid numbers are not where they need to be worldwide, but they are getting better. Have you had your vaccine? It is the only way to end this horrible story.


Meanwhile, let us look ahead. Domestic travel has picked up significantly for a while now. I will take my third air flight soon. It is the international travel that remains low for 2021. But 2022 is clearly picking up. I would not say there are ‘deals’ in air fares, because the airlines need to make up for lost revenue, but I would say the flights, especially the premium seats are getting very busy.


The airlines are slowing reinstating flights, while some still need to cancel. I regularly get notices for schedule changes. This way I can keep you posted without your needing to check.


So, now is clearly the time to begin planning that holiday you were not able to take. A family villa in Tuscany, a couple’s river boat cruise, an anniversary luxury resort, or that solo trip to Africa. What got canceled or postponed for you? It is now time for you to create your future. Though summer may be a time for rest and relaxation, it is also a time to dream. ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’, they say. In order to do it, you need to create it! All I need are your ideas, names, and dates. Then we can begin to create your future!


Need ideas and inspiration? Go to https://www.virtuoso.com/travel/inspiration and we can create together!

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A summer treat.

Lobster made simple


You do not need to travel far for a delicious summer treat. If you do not live in New England, where lobsters are readily available, I am sure you can use a frozen option. Every year I go to a favorite place in East Boston, Belle Isle, for the best ever lobster roll. It is not just me who says it is the best!


Lobster is the perfect main course for a special occasion, but many people think it can be difficult to prepare. Boiled whole lobster is the most common, but broiling is worth exploring. Broiled lobster tails contain minimal ingredients and can be expertly prepared by any home cook. Chefs in New England and around the Caribbean are able to get fresh Lobster tails, which are butterflied and then coated in garlic butter and broiled to perfection. This simple preparation really lets the fresh flavors shine through and it’s almost a fool proof way to enjoy this fabulous seafood! Enjoy!


INGREDIENTS

6 lobster tails, butterflied
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
Lemon wedges


DIRECTIONS


1. Preheat the broiler. Add cooking spray to a sheet pan; arrange lobster tails on the pan.
2. Add butter, garlic, parsley, paprika and salt to a bowl; microwave until butter is melted; stir.
3. Drizzle ½ of the butter mixture over the lobster tails.
4. Broil for 10 minutes or until lobster meat is opaque—do not overcook.
5. Warm up the remaining ½ of the butter mixture; brush over the cooked lobster.
6. Garnish with additional parsley and lemon wedges on the side.


TIPS


Serve a salad or soup to start, and a starch and veggies for sides. String beans and broccoli covered in butter and fresh grated Parmesan cheese is delicious, as well as herbed mashed potatoes.


A nice Chardonnay or Chablis wine pairs well with this recipe.


If you would rather have a Spiny Caribbean lobster, I can arrange for you to go most anywhere in the Caribbean. One of the best I ever had was on a beach!


Edited from Star Clippers

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Going to the airport

Airport Hassles


Even before the pandemic, being in an airport or airplane was never particularly relaxing. And as air travel resumes on a large scale this summer, it might feel even more stressful and unfamiliar.


For many of us, the past 16 months have had basic repetitive routines. COVID-19 has changed the look and general routine of airports, making it potentially more difficult to ease back in. When we have multiple demands on our attention and cognitive ability, it cognitively depletes you, and you start losing your energy. There’s also the fact that you will be in a sea of strangers after more than a year of limited contact with those outside your social circle. This can increase your irritability as you wait in long lines, grab a coffee, or sit at a boarding gate around people who may do things like cough and sneeze.


How can you mentally prepare to be in an airport and airplane again?


Though entering these less-familiar and crowded places has the potential to spike stress levels, experts say there are ways to regulate your emotions and travel anxiety before you get to the airport.


Start practicing good mental health hygiene before the trip.


You wouldn’t expect your body to be able to lift 200 pounds all of a sudden, so why do we expect our brains to keep its cool and its ability to regulate under new and stressful situations.
To build up your ability to cope with stressors, start supporting your mental health once you’ve booked your trip, or even prior to this. Incorporate some of the following supportive activities; such as eating nutritious foods, doing exercise you enjoy, practicing self-care, scheduling in regular leisure activities, connecting with loved ones and spending time outside to soak up sunlight.


At least a few days prior to the trip to the airport, pack what you can of your suitcase and carry-on. Read up on the things you’re not allowed to bring on the plane. This can reduce your travel anxiety and stress ahead of time and help take some load off on the travel day.


Rehearse going to and through an airport


The processes beginning from; how you are getting to the airport, when you enter an airport until you board a plane, so you’re prepared for the “unusual” requirements, like removing your face mask when showing your driver’s license with your boarding pass or removing your shoes at the security screen. Did any of you watch Phil Mickelson win the PGA golf? Before each stroke he visualized the stroke. When I was scuba diving, I would sit quietly and visualize the entry. Thinking it through will help calm you a great deal. Imagine what is the worst thing that can happen, and of course rarely does, then you can go with the flow.

Ready set lets go…

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What is happening!

A year ago, I would never have sent this newsletter, but the world is changing. As cruise lines are eager to resume sailings, and many restart outside of the U.S. because of delays in approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some are ensuring a safe return by requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to board. If you are interested in sailing in 2021 or 2022 I suggest you make reservations very soon! Today a cruise ship may be one of the safest ways to travel, especially a smaller ship. Here is why….


Here’s which cruise lines have already committed to vaccination requirements:


American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines, two sister brands sailing U.S. rivers, will both require a COVID-19 vaccination for all guests and crewmembers beginning on July 1, 2021. According to the cruise lines, the requirement will remain in place “until the CDC recommends otherwise.”


Azamara, which plans to begin sailing to Greece at the end of August, will require all guests and crew to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding a ship.


To board Celebrity Cruise Lines, guests 18 and older must be vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding. Those under 18 and older than 2 years old will be required to show proof of a negative PCR test. Celebrity will return to the Galapagos first with Celebrity Flora, the brand’s state-of-the-art mega-yacht, on July 4, and then will follow with Celebrity Xpedition on July 24 and Celebrity Xploration on Sept. 18. Celebrity Cruises will depart out of Greece this summer with the launch of the new Celebrity Apex. The seven-night sailings will kick off on June 19 out of Athens and stop at the Greek islands of Mykonos, Rhodes, and Santorini; in Limassol, Cyprus; and Haifa and Jerusalem, Israel.


Crystal Cruises will require all guests to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding. It will begin sailing seven-night trips from Nassau and Bimini starting in July on the Crystal Serenity and 10-night cruises from St. John’s in Antigua in August.


Cunard will first return to sailing with a series of UK voyages on board Queen Elizabeth (up to and including departures through until Oct. 1, 2021) for UK resident, COVID-19 vaccinated, guests only. Proof of vaccination and the dates given will be required. All other Cunard vacations currently on sale do not currently require guests to be vaccinated, including all voyages departing on Queen Elizabeth on or after Oct. 2, departing on Queen Mary 2 on or after Nov. 13, and departing on Queen Victoria on or after Aug. 28.


Disney Cruise Line sailings this summer from U.K. ports, including London Tilbury, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Southampton, will require all guests age 18 and over to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.


Norwegian Cruise Line will require all guests will be required to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding for sailings through at least Oct. 31. Norwegian will restart operations in Europe from Barcelona and Rome as well as itineraries to the Mediterranean and Greek Isles beginning Sept. 5, 2021. Norwegian Epic will cruise seven-night Western Mediterranean itineraries from Sept. 5 through Oct. 24. Norwegian Getaway will sail a mix of 10 to 11-day Greek Isles voyages from Rome (Civitavecchia) from Sept. 13 to Oct. 25.


When Ocean Cruises restarts sailing to Scandinavia and Western Europe in August, all guests and crewmembers must be vaccinated in order to be allowed on board. Oceania will also require COVID-19 antigen testing prior to boarding and a second test prior to disembarkation.


Ponant will require all guests and crew members to be vaccinated when the French cruise line resumes sailing on June 16. The new policy will require all passengers and crew members over 16 years old to be vaccinated before the cruise. Guests and crew will also need to show proof of a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours of boarding the ship.


Guests 18 and older aboard Royal Caribbean International ships will be required to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding. Guests under 18 must show proof of a negative RT-PCR test. Jewel of the Seas will kick off Mediterranean sailings on July 10 sailing out of Cyprus. Jewel will remain in the Mediterranean until October.


Princess Cruises Summer Seacation voyages on Regal and Sky Princess will be for UK resident Covid-19 vaccinated guests only. All other Princess Cruises holidays currently on sale do not require guests to be vaccinated.


Regent Seven Seas Cruises will require all guests and crew must be fully vaccinated at least two weeks before boarding.


All Seabourn guests aboard Greece cruises this summer must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to boarding.


Luxury cruise line Silversea will require all guests to have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 when it launches new sailings aboard Silver Moon – the cruise line’s new flagship – beginning June 18. The 10-day itineraries will sail the Eastern Mediterranean from Greece, with calls to Santorini, Paros, Mykonos, and Crete, as well as Haifa (Israel) and Cyprus.


Viking will require guests to be fully vaccinated to board its slate of summer cruises. Viking has added more sailing dates this summer from Iceland and Bermuda, and will homeport two ships in the Maltese capital city of Valletta for 11-day roundtrip itineraries in the Mediterranean between July and early October 2021.

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Time is NOW

The travel industry is fueled by people like me. People that get up every morning with the belief that today will be a better day than yesterday. People who love what we do and are passionate about showing the world to our clients. Together, we have the ability to bring this industry back to service in a brand new way. We can introduce you to a safer, healthier and more inclusive way to travel.


Location, Location… Just like real estate, hotels and resorts location is most important. The price yes, the amenities yes, the size yes, the brand yes, but for me location trumps all. Being where you want to be; whether on the beach, in the city center or in a village; where you want to be is where you need to be! Those that know me, know I look at maps all the time. Thank goodness for Google Maps. I want to know all the details; highways, streets, hills and rivers, and beach before I recommend a property. Then with your guidance and needs, we select what is best for you.


Now where would you like to go? Currently I have my first few requests in over a year. It’s my view that there’s going to be a growing demand! These first months are going to be a real treat for any traveler as Americans start venturing out again. How good does that sound!! Yes, there are some restrictions. There are going to be restrictions for many months to come. Masks for all will be required. Many of us will wear a mask when we gather for years to come, if not always. We surely did not get a winter cold or the flu this past year! Anyhow, now that we have all these decorative masks let’s wear them!


Let’s lead the way. Looking forward to what can be!

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With your help!

• Well, we here in New England are in a drought. That’s my reasoning and justification so I don’t walk around complaining all day. I’m talking about the Nor’Easter that paid us a visit last week, dumping chilly, much-needed rain and snow on our homes and surrounding lands. I needed to get my hair cut so I was far from thrilled, putting on my winter shoes and going outside. “I’m not going to melt! I can do this…!”


“We can do this!” How many times have I convinced myself of this through each seismic obstacle that blocked my path this year? And I have, even if it wasn’t pretty. Now I just need to convince myself I have what it takes, and continue the march to… whatever comes next. Out of adversity comes opportunity. Since we’ve had so much of the former I know there will be heaps of the latter!


How many words and phrases are we going to tab to our COVID experience that we’ll never be able to use the same way? “Pivot”. Unprecedented”. “Groundhog Day”. “Fog”.


The pandemic fog is for real. I’m navigating through a particularly dense patch big time. Sometimes my fingers have no idea what to do! I think it’s important that we’re allowed to be honest. I’m not complaining. Seriously. I am generally feeling pretty fortunate, all things considered (and add that to the All-COVID phrase list!).


I’ve witnessed firsthand how some of us (myself very much included) are really acting out of sorts sometimes. We’re burnt out, ornery and less tolerant. I think it’s OK to blame the pandemic, but let’s also hold ourselves accountable, own it, and take steps to rectify our behavior. I’m going to be first in line. I’m committed to ratcheting up my levels of sincerity. As overwhelming as some days seem right now I am still committed to the greater good. If there’s a friend in need, I am there. We need to be there for each other, now more than ever.


The volume of the conversation about the travel and tourism industry appears to have diminished significantly during the past month or so. I did two domestic air tickets this week! But let me tell you, the struggle is real. We’re all scrambling to figure out what we can advise. I am not convinced the world is a safe place to explore today, but we can begin to plan and make reservations for tomorrows. I’m battered and bruised, and now I have to muster up the energy to build my business back better. With your help I can. Thank you

Edited from Tony Maws, Craigie on Main, Cambridge

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Here’s to the future!

We’ve locked down, canceled trips and spent countless milestones – birthdays, graduations and honeymoons – cooped up at home. But with an end in sight, it’s time for a do-over. Time to dream again. To book that cruise (2022), map out an epic road trip, or plan a family reunion. To remind ourselves why we travel in the first place – to celebrate ourselves, one another, and the world.


Usually at this time of year I begin planning your holidays for summer, fall and winter. It is not too early. We may never know again, world prior to 2019, but that does not mean we cannot go out and explore it. We need to be responsible and respectful, and we can go.


To where will your first journeys be? Some questions you can ask yourself to help decide.


If you could eat anywhere right now, where would it be?


What is the place you are most fixated on visiting next?


Your favorite place in the world for a return visit?


What picture have you seen you want to see in person?


Make a wish list of 20 places and priorities. Sometimes it is the twentieth idea that becomes your first priority. If you are looking for a family outing, have everyone make a list and then explore what overlaps. Included in your list will be a budget. Some places cost a lot less than others. The Grand Canyon is most reasonable while the Galapagos can be expensive. But then I can usually move a budget up or down in most locations.


So time is of the essence if you want to travel after September 2021. Now is the time to plan and execute. Let us talk soon.  

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