Where do you want to travel, now and in the future? My list remains long, especially since last year the travels were short since travel, was, for the most part, halted in its tracks. It is now time to make up for the lost time. Really, though, we can’t make up for lost time as time continues to move on. We never get that time back, be it for travel, family, friends or whatever is most important to you. All we can do is make the best of the situation of which we had no control. We still have to be vigilant, but also optimistic. We will travel again, and that said, the Wandering Puffin will be doing just that in less than two months to a country, that with the proper protocol, including proof of the vaccine regimen completed, will allow Americans in. I am crossing the pond and truly excited to return to this continent, almost 15 months to the day I left.
Where you ask? I am glad you did!!! I will tell you and share my experiences I have while there. Oh, almost forgot!!! I am returning to Croatia to attend the ASTA Destination Expo which will be held in Dubrovnik, an amazing walled city on the Adriatic Sea. While I have been there before, I will have a new perspective of this destination which will also include a mini island hopping cruise out of Split, time truffle hunting and other experiences in Istria and ending in the capital, Zagreb. Some places will be a return visit, but with a new appreciation in this time of Covid, some totally new, but the Wandering Puffin is spreading his wings again.
Croatia, known for its amazing landscape, wonderful national parks, a beautiful coastline, colorful history and culture, not to mention the delicious foods, locally sourced, and wine for any palette and contrary and with apologies to my Italian colleagues and friends, the Crljenak grape from Croatia, is the original zinfandel varietal, not the Primitivo grape from Italy. I will be sharing my experiences with the GoPro and doing Facebook Live presentations at every opportunity sharing an amazing destination in a very different time.
Where do you want to travel when you are ready? The Wandering Puffin wants to know and thanks you for following me and for your support of this small business. Your comments, questions and thoughts are always welcome, so please join the discourse. I look forward to hearing from you on this subject or from previous blogs.
Welcome to spring in full bloom and the celebration of Easter, Passover and Ramadan. This spring is hopefully a return to some sense of normalcy for everyone in many industries including mine, travel. I see the signs where there are peaks of light emerging. Clients and potential new clients are reaching out to me for scheduling and re-scheduling their travels, looking at the latest destinations to open and I am simply seeing the signs that maybe, just maybe, we have turned a corner, and yet, I know, we still have a ways to go.
Safety is paramount in any case, even as the guidelines continually evolve. The CDC has now stated that those with the two-shot vaccine (Moderna and Pfizer) or the one shot vaccine (Johnson & Johnson), plus the two weeks post shot window, will be able to depart from domestic airports without having a negative Covid test result and as I understand it, even leaving for international destinations, as well. American announced that they will start flying to Milan and Rome as a test for quarantine free flights in May, which personally excites me. I know that other airlines had test flights to Italy, but only for those designated as essential.
Well this is unexpected!!
As I mentioned in my blog post on Monday, there are currently some beautiful volcanic eruptions happening in Iceland as we speak. Huge shoutout and photo credit to my friend and colleague Sven Strumann who has just sent me this amazing photography which shows up close the power and beauty of the volcanos.
Iceland just erupted and I am not just talking about the volcanic eruption that happened a few days ago. Don’t worry, no one is in danger unlike the last eruption that happened during the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano (Get a link for this volcanic eruption) which erupted a little over 10 years ago and caused lots of delays, cancellations and other discomfort across Europe and also parts of Iceland. This latest eruption is that of the Icelanders opening up their borders to Americans again, and if you have valid proof of having had the vaccines for Covid, then you are allowed to return. I know I spoke about a vaccine passport, so it is nice that certain countries are figuring out a way.
Why the Wandering Puffin for those who have not read this on my website? The name goes back many years, 1987 to be exact, where my passion (perhaps obsession) started for those cute and very sociable little birds, of which there are three species, the Atlantic (or Common), the Tufted and the Horned with their colorful beaks and sometimes known as clown birds. They are commonly confused with penguins, but are definitely different and while both penguins and puffins are seabirds and both black and white with the added colorful features, that is where the similarities end. Puffins fly, penguins don’t. Penguins are found in the southern hemisphere, puffins in the northern hemisphere. They are not related but it does seem that they do wander the globe quite a bit and offered me the the perfect name when I started Wandering Puffin!
Looking at the destinations that are open or are opening up sooner than others, I think the key is the vaccine passport as the future, and as the yellow fever card is the standard for many destinations around the world, this vaccine passport will provide the same. Getting it standardized and followed by all, if not a majority of the countries of the world will be the difficult thing, although, it seems it should not be, given its huge benefit for our collective future. The vaccine card should not be politicized and I am not saying it is. It should be a world card accepted by all and have the pertinent and undeniable information on there to allow the world to open up again safely and in this 21st century, be electronic so that it is easily manageable.
With everything in the world going on and not going on, keeping up with the destinations open to travel is ever changing. I heard the other day that Romania and Poland would accept the two vaccine doses as proof and then read, but they could also still require a negative Covid test. Russia just opened up and countries like Mexico and Costa Rica have been open all along, for the most part. One of the places and for those wanting to go to the Caribbean, is Puerto Rico and as part of the US, you do not need a negative Covid test when you return the mainland, because, it is part of the US. Think about that, but also remember that coming in the US from another destination (not part of the US), US citizen or not, you will have to test negative or have to quarantine.
Some of the ways I have tried to stay out in front of my clientele is to do presentations for them, do travel videos from several places around the world from, now a year ago, and more, connect them via email, text and the old-fashioned phone call and even the occasional call to action on a particular destination that may be less restrictive in terms of their Covid requirements, but mostly it has been sharing my thoughts about travel as each of the clients whose trips have been cancelled or better, postponed, only not educate them on the new options in this new normal, but also educate myself and finding other outlets of the industry to share and connect and let people know that I am still here, even in a socially distant environment.
While many of the changes occurring are non-revenue, they show that I (and we collectively) in the travel industry are still here, including the small business, the home-based consultants and those willing to stay out front will make it through. I have other avenues as an educator by training, to earn a living for now fortunately and blessed for that, so that when my passion for being your travel advisor and planner for the foreseeable future, and the world says it is safe to travel or you are feeling comfortable to travel, I want to be here as I live, breathe and immerse myself in this amazing industry whose payoff are the smiles and stories people are able to share. I do not plan on letting 25 years of my life to go to waste due to the pandemic, so let me know your thoughts and comments and as always, thank you for supporting this small business in good times and bad and we will get through this.
As the first two pieces I have written are more of my personal journey and not business oriented, I thought it was time to give my thoughts on the current state of affairs in the travel industry as now a year has gone by this pandemic has started. As most in the travel industry, I too, have been hit hard and have had to find ways to keep myself afloat, help my clientele sift through the debris that has landed all over including cancelled and postponed travel planned, sometimes more than once in some instances and trying to make sense of it all as the rules and regulations have been in constant flux. It has offered me a chance to continue to train, experience the zoom meetings and in some few and far-reaching opportunities, planned adventures for those of my valued clients, mostly domestically and inspire others to keep the faith.
After the fallout from last year, I was able to arrange an amazing Amtrak train adventure for clients, which thrilled me that there were still chances to help make dreams come true. This year, looking at sending clients to Hawaii and Alaska, and yes, there are still restrictions in place, but armed with the knowledge and understanding, we expect them to happen. Most others, are truly hoping that in the 3rd or 4th quarter, we see movement to other places around the world, but those may still be further on the horizon, albeit the desire to travel is building up. Those whose trips were re-scheduled to this year, now moved to next year, but as the winds change, the vaccines given, the borders, hopefully opening up as the desire to wander and explore build, I remain cautiously optimistic that I will see business build and the passion for travel flow again. Let me know your thoughts and thank you for your support of the Wandering Puffin.