Food on your mind

Italy boasts a wealth of postcard-perfect coastal towns, each with its own panorama of breathtaking ocean views. With their rows of colored houses blanketing the dramatic cliff faces, the towns are easy on the eye from the sea, too.

Part of the Cinque Terre National Park (comprised of five villages) in Liguria, Manarola is reputed to be the most colorful city in the world. With its vibrant buildings jostling for space, the town that is famed for its Manarolese dialect resembles an artist’s palette. Every year, visitors flock here to hike between the five villages, with numbers soaring in peak season. I went in the off season of November. Much was closed, but I could enjoy the whole experience, with a great guide.

Not matter where you are in Italy there are great tasting foods. When in Italy, here are some of the foods enjoyed!!
In addition to being the birthplace of the Renaissance, Tuscany is central Italy’s most important wine region—and the country’s sixth largest wine-producing region. If the wine begins with a B it surely is delicious.

So here is to Italy.. Salute for food, wine and olives.. Of course I also go for the art, architecture, history, culture, rolling countryside, snowcapped mountains, opera, shopping and its friendly people!!
Happy Thanksgiving to all. 
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With caution!

I am beginning to offer airline reservations for the short term. Let us say until early January. I am not as concerned about the airplanes, but the airports can be congested. Mid December I am planning on going to Seattle. Midweek travel and first class are my best options. Many of the airlines are keeping a middle seat empty, but no guarantee. I look regularly at flights and many planes are very empty. With two weeks or so of travel, we can explore the best flights.

The travel experience looks a little different now, and I am here to help you arrive prepared.

In recent months, several states and countries have adopted new guidelines that may be applicable to your trip and we are continuing to monitor the latest safety and security protocols to ensure you have the latest information. Learn about self-quarantine, COVID-19 testing, health screening, documentation submission, app downloads, and additional information from your local airports of origin and destination. Here is a short list of restricted states.

Keep in mind

The travel restrictions are updated based on current information. Here is a quick glance of restrictions on the Delta website.

In addition, some countries have imposed temporary entry requirements, such as limiting entry to citizens, permanent residents, and select visa holders, or restricting to essential travel. We recommend you check directly with your destination’s embassy or immigrations office to confirm whether you are eligible to travel. In general, I am not recommending international travel. Please also confirm any requirements for connecting airport destinations if applicable to your itinerary as additional restrictions may apply. Additional global travel regulation information can be found through the U.S. Department of State. If you are traveling, learn your destination requirements. This website may be helpful.

As I said to my daughter-in-law, ‘our mental health is as important as our physical health.’ They are very inter-related. Hugs are essential as well as distance and masks. So, with extreme caution we can and will celebrate this festive season.

Do let me know how I can assist you. Best way to reach me is by email as I do not check the office messages very often. Stay well, stay safe.

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Shift the dates

Moving our typical holiday travel to February, April, or October can redound to your benefit in the form of lower rates, more space, and more flexibility. Not to mention that it allows you to shop for flights that will not just be cheaper, but likely filled with less anxious fellow passengers. It also lets you design a holiday to be whatever you wish it to be. Want to spend the morning surfing with your brother before having a huge picnic on the beach? Have Christmas in July. Want to blow off cooking entirely? An all-inclusive in the Caribbean next Easter. Come next summer Europe may be open for that wonderful exploring.

Family traditions are hard to change, but if the most important part of the tradition for your family is simply being together, it does not matter when you do it. So why not make it a little easier on yourself. After the last eight months, you deserve it. Remember, we need to get the countrywide daily numbers below 10,000 before we will be able to travel comfortably.

Meanwhile I continue to take interesting webinars. Have learned a great deal about rail travel in Europe and North America. And an excellent tour operator. One webinar on Rome I learned about places I have not been, despite my many visits. One of my favorite travel experiences is to go someplace I have already been. Feels like home! For now, I am watching movies, no matter how bad, if the setting is in a favorite location!! I stop the movie to figure out where it is, on what city street, or at which museum or hotel. We can still travel in our minds!

Stay well, stay safe, and call your friends. We all now need more connection.

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Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer

What is sustaining me all these months is the memory of all the marks that have been made on me. I remember the conversations with complete strangers in a foreign language. And yet we shared thoughts and pleasures. Some of the things that made me richer also made me much poorer! A great Michelin star meal here or there, a wonderful private guide, and the four-star hotel! But no, they also made me much richer. It is the memories that sustain us. Let me hear about your favorite memories that made you richer.

Keep up the good work! We will see the end of this pandemic. Continue to help make it sooner. Remember the newsletter 28 – 3. We may still be at three, but the game has a long way to go. Other pandemics are history, we read about them, and we will read about this one too! Stay well.  

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Back to the Basics – Air Travel

It’s been a while since you purchased an airline ticket. Whether you book on your own or contact me, here is some basic lingo!

Types of Flights

For most people traveling by air, the only thing that matters is that your flight is safe, on time, and as fast and simple as possible. The simplicity of a flight depends on the stops. A stop occurs whenever a plane lands, and there are different types. A connection is a stop that occurs when the passenger gets off a plane with the sole purpose of boarding another plane. A stopover is a planned break in a journey. Stops count as stopovers whenever the traveler stays at a domestic location for more than four hours—or, for international flights, 24 hours—unless no flight to the destination is available on that airline. If such a flight is available, you must take the next available flight to avoid paying for a stopover. Often, extended stopovers cost more money.

Types of Journeys

No matter the type of flight, you always will take four basic types of journeys:

• A one-way trip is a journey from an originating city to a destination city, with no return to the origin. The journey may be made on one or more flights and may or may not require you to change planes.

• A round-trip is a journey that returns to the city where it began, without additional stopovers. Thus, the ultimate destination is the originating city, with the same route used going and coming.

• A circle trip is like a round-trip except that the route on the return trip differs from the route on the outgoing trip. The journey involves two or more stopovers and returns to the originating city.

• An open-jaw trip is like a round-trip except that you either: (1) returns to a city different from the point of origin, or (2) departs for the return trip from a city other than the original destination.

As you can see, air can be complex. Let alone involving more than one carrier. Some work together and others do not!


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Turn off the Pause Button

Slowly in the weeks to come I will begin to reopen my business. There will be a very new business plan. As the past several months have shown the travel industry, all of us; suppliers, agencies and consultants, and clients that the old model does not work. First, the old model was just too relaxed. As a result, we all got hurt during this pandemic. With better details and guidelines, we can all have a better travel experience. A new model is mandatory if I am to continue to be able to provide you with the level of expertise and service you have come to expect and deserve.

The travel industry will never be quite the same. Most, but not all, travel companies I book for you pay me commission for the service I provide for them, but no longer enough for the service I provide for you. So, the business model is changing. More to follow in weeks to come.

For those of you most eager to travel there are some bright spots in the industry. A few countries are opening to US travelers with restrictions, especially for tests. Many states are still requiring a quarantine upon arrival if you are departing from highly infected state. Caution is most advised and learn the restrictions before you depart. We are all learning to live with the virus. Yet we need to remain vigilant. To fully open our country and others for US traveler, the USA numbers need to get down. Currently the USA has about 40,000 new virus cases a day, we need to get that number down to under 10,000. If you want to travel it is up to us.

WEAR THE MASK, STAY DISTANT AND USE THE WIPES. We are all in this together. Until all co-operate, none will be safe to travel.

Meanwhile, begin to plan and think about the future. Click on the Wanderlist icon and dream. Fall of 2021 and 2022 are not that far away! Stay well.

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The VIP Lounge

If you do not have a membership or credit card that gives you access to the VIP Lounges, when this is all over, do get one, even if you travel only occasionally. They are clean, comfortable, and most relaxing.

But the VIP Lounge I am referring to is a column in the Sunday Boston Globe. A celebrity is interviewed about their travel preferences. Of course, I read it each weekend. I like to rethink my travel wishes. Maybe you will too! Questions like Favorite destination, (Florence), Favorite food or drink while vacationing, (pasta and a Nebbiolo), and Aisle or window (aisle). What are your preferences?

But my favorite is Where would you like to travel but haven’t? Often the answer is someplace I have traveled but then I get to get my own answer. For now, when we can/may travel again I would like to find a friend or two and experience Sicily. I planned the trip years ago, but then could not go. I often imagine that trip. Want to join me?

Another question ‘one item you can’t leave home without when you’re traveling? Most of you will respond with electronic items, me none of them. But I cannot imagine being without a book.

Guilty pleasure when traveling? Truth be told, I have two and often arrange both prior to leaving home. I like a massage right away to get rid of all those airplane aches, sometime a pool will do. This gets me into a holiday mood! My greatest pleasure is a Michelin star restaurant. An elegantly delicious meal served in a foreign place is my idea of a great holiday.

Lastly, Best travel tip. Make plans. You may have lots of ideas, knowing the details is most important. Then make space for spontaneity, life happens while you are living it. Let the journey be your guide.  

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Talking Points

Many of you may hear me talk about all the emails I get daily. It is 9:30 am and I have already 54. Some are political and one is personal, from my sister. The majority are mostly for me to tell you what is happening here and there. A new hotel in Chile or a tour in Croatia. Who knows what all will be when we can travel? I am not interested in encouraging your traveling anywhere right now. We all need to stay home so we all can travel again. Meanwhile I continue to take webinars on how the industry will change and destinations you may like to explore.

The Boston Globe has a section called Talking Points. It is amazing how much is about the travel and hospitality industry. Today alone; “Lufthansa to cut more staff, sideline more jets as travel ends with summer; Cruise industry looking to test all guests and crew in order to set sail again; Airbus unveils three designs for hydrogen powered planes; And lastly for today’s Talking Points.. Whistle blower says more changes needed to retooled 737 Max.” Do you have any idea how many 737 Max planes there are grounded? At least 387!

Beyond this section are articles on the west coast wildfires and how they hurt tourism, Hurricane Sally and more are destroying beaches and property, Deaths due to the Pandemic pass 200,000 keeping US citizens within our borders, the airline industry, hospitality, and travel agencies in dire economic straits.

It is a wonder I still get out of bed and read the paper! We will survive! We will travel again! We may experience a tour in Croatia. Meanwhile we do need to stay home, always stay distant and wear our masks outside our homes.

PS Last Friday I did my 5th and 6th domestic tickets since the first of March. It was fun to use my brain!   

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New Beginnings

Several times a year we can begin anew, depending on your faith and activities. September has both a new ’school’ and faith renewals. Though we all know this year’s will be most different,we can still begin anew.

Though I may not be ready to fully open my business, little windows may begin to let in the fresh air. The festive holidays are not far away, and several places are open for business. This may be a time for the family to come together. A few of the Caribbean islands are allowing travelers. My favorite St. Lucia is one of them. Resorts are eager for business and have extensive cleaning and health measures in place.  Many resorts have villas to accommodate multi-generational families. 

As Europe is still not open for Americans, we need to continue to extend our plans until 2021. We can travel within the USA with restrictions; states are different. Ski season is soon upon us and the southern states have warm weather. So, we can make some plans for a winter holiday. We just all need to be most flexible. Airlines are being flexible by allowing changes without a fee. Many hotels and resorts have reduced their cancellation policies. Each and all are different so careful decisions are important. This is where I can help you understand all the red tape. And help make the changes if need be.  

So, let us begin to look out the window and let in fresh air. That does not mean today but soon. The festive season will not be as crowded this year so maybe a great time to go out. Plus, we do not need to celebrate a holiday on a particular date this year, maybe we can go early or late.  The middle of December and January are low times in the season and often less money. If you have students learning online… well they can learn from St. Lucia!  

Call and let us begin to travel again together.  Stay well and stay safe.

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As the world begins to reopen to international travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, we face a new dilemma.

As communities around the globe begin to open after months of lockdown, and it appears we can travel to select destinations, many of us travelers are wondering whether we indeed should travel. After sheltering in place to protect our health and be responsible citizens, how far do we go in opening up ourselves?

COVID-19 has certainly not been beaten. We have made some progress with treatments but still have no vaccine. The virus remains a mystery to us in many ways. But we have also learned that asking all nonessential workers to shelter in place brings enormous personal and economic costs. The unemployment rate in the United States has ballooned, with certain communities and sectors of the economy hit particularly hard. The U.S. leisure and hospitality industries have lost over 50 percent of their jobs in the past months, and in countries that are more dependent on travel and hospitality, the impact has been even worse.

I am a huge believer in travel as a force for good in the world. Travel is responsible for approximately 10 percent of global GDP and spreads wealth across the globe. And as we all know, the benefits of travel go far beyond economics. Done right, travel fosters creativity, cross-cultural understanding, and empathy in both the traveler and the host. Of course, I want everyone to be able to experience all those benefits as soon as we can.

The question of whether we should travel has become very personal. I am a big believer in trying to act out of caution rather than fear. Caution, to me, implies responding to rational concerns. Fear implies responding to emotions. If you or someone close to you is vulnerable to COVID-19, you are going to be especially cautious. If you have been staying home out of a sense of civic responsibility, then you may feel ready to travel as soon as restrictions are loosened in your community.

I think travelers’ first step from sheltering in place is to travel in their communities and regions. And as we take even those first, small steps, we will need to be sensitive. We will encounter people who we think are being overly cavalier and others who are more cautious than we are. After sheltering with mostly like-minded people, this will take some getting used to. We will likely find ourselves in some uncomfortable situations. This will all be part of the process, for us as individuals and as a community. We are starting to incrementally spread out and seeing what happens. As I mentioned above, there are still so many unknowns: Will infection rates jump? Why do some communities have lower rates than others? We should learn from all this.

Once you are comfortable within your own community, you can decide what is most critical for you as you travel farther from home. At this time of heightened sensitivity, I can be especially helpful. What you are comfortable with and uncomfortable with. I can research the situations in the places you are considering and speak to the hotels in person to help reduce unpleasant surprises.

While we were sheltering in place, the travel and hospitality industries responded quickly to reset their operations to deal with our new world. We should all expect more touchless interactions, more plexiglass, and masks, more and better cleaning, and so on. We also need to ask our hosts what their expectations are of us as their guests. Of course, not everything can be worked out in advance, and we must be respectful of each other as we face new challenges. But when a good host welcomes a good guest, our travel experiences can be as rich and fulfilling as ever.

We are each going to have to go at our own pace, and of course we need to pay careful attention to what local officials are saying about the rules for visiting a destination. But if destinations are open to respectful visitors, then we can be open to visiting.
Where are you thinking of going? We can certainly think!!

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