Where to Travel Before Winter Comes

Winter is coming. That’s not just relevant for the characters in “Game of Thrones.” After a summer spent rediscovering the great American road trip, we’re headed toward cold weather again. We’ve been keeping you up to date with openings and regulations in the Caribbean, and starting Oct. 15 visitors to Hawaii will be able to avoid a 14-day quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test and health declaration form. That will come in especially handy when the first snows fall. Meanwhile on the U.S. mainland, a lot of destinations will get a lot less pleasant to be outside in soon. These places are great to check out before winter arrives.

New York City

Sadly, it will be well into next spring before Broadway is back. But NYC is hardly “dead forever” as some have opined. Autumn in New York is so lovely there’s a jazz standard and a movie about it. Without international visitors, the businesses that depend on tourism could really use some income, and prices for accommodations are far below their typical highs. New York is still New York, and there are a million things to do. Be aware, though, that only visitors from certain states are allowed to travel to New York without a 14-day quarantine, so consult with your travel advisor — who can also set up private and behind-the-scenes touring — before planning a trip.

The Mountain West

The aspen trees are golden in Colorado and the Tetons. The Big Sky Country of Montana has a few more weeks before that sky is filled with snowflakes. The temperatures for hiking and biking are becoming much more bearable in the national parks. There’s one last chance to save the fresh air of the great outdoors before Old Man Winter creeps in and much of the wildlife goes into hibernation. Alaska’s Katmai National Park has already crowned a “Fat Bear Week” champion, so it’s only a matter of time before the Lower 48 bears start heading to their winter quarters.

New England

The fall foliage is always a sight to behold. This year there are far fewer cruise options since ships with more than 250 passengers are under a no-sail order. A car trip through the region going from one great boutique inn or wellness resort to the next is the relaxing getaway you need before settling in for a long winter. Again, be sure to plan your route with your travel advisor to ensure you’re following state-by-state travel advisories.

Lakeside

Wherever you live, you’re bound to be within a few hours of a lake. The fishing is just as tranquil and the calm of the water just as soothing as it was in summertime. Now there might even be a mist rising off the water in the mornings as the cool night air starts to warm. The leaves are changing colors and reflecting off the glassy surface of the water, making for a picture perfect scene as you kayak or paddle across, or just take the scene in from afar.

Why Travel Advisors Are More Important Than Ever

Do you know which countries—even states—you can travel to right now? Do you know what the requirements are? The list changes every week. It’s not fun to do, but think back to  March when countries first started shutting down borders. Thousands upon thousands of people had to scramble to get home with little or conflicting information. Those who booked with online travel agencies had an unbelievably difficult time getting a person on the phone and often got little help when they could talk to someone. If you were traveling during that time, it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Those who worked with travel advisors not only got through to them, they most often found that their advisors were already working to rebook them and get them home safely. We advisors worked tirelessly with our partners to get refunds and future travel credits for our clients, and as restrictions stretched on for weeks and then months we helped them dream of future travels. We advised on booking early for next year as places fill up fast given the huge increase in demand and limited capacity.

We remain up to date on the ever-changing regulations, safety protocols and trends to enable socially distanced travel. It’s a lot of work, but it’s reflective of what we do. We are our experts in the field of travel and have relationships with partners on the ground all over the world. Our clients have a VIP experience wherever they go. Now that safety is the new luxury, it’s just another thing we’ve added to our repertoire. We work with the best of the best, and they help us make sure your experience is safe and enjoyable.

We don’t just handle the nitty-gritty details of getting you from Point A to Point B so you can focus on having a great time. We also craft indelible life moments you can’t find on the internet, and maybe couldn’t even find in your imagination. With the Virtuoso Wanderlist tool, we can help envision your next adventure or series of adventures and discover excursions you didn’t know existed. You might even find that there’s a destination you never would have thought about that matches your wish list. Dream with us. Plan with us. Let’s get back to creating the good kind of unforgettable experience. Reach Stefany at (917) 653-9346 and or stefany@largaytravel.com and or info@dmctraveltailor.com to get started.

The Safe Return of Cruising

If you’re a cruiser, you love cruising and probably already have one booked for 2021. If you’re not a cruiser, you might be thinking there are some deals to be had. To an extent, you’re right, but you shouldn’t wait too long to make your booking for next year. That’s because demand is sky-high (thanks to all those dedicated cruisers). With the CDC likely to extend its no-sail order for ships with more than 250 passengers through the end of the year, most lines aren’t restarting until 2021. And when they do start, they won’t be at 100% occupancy. So just like with premium hotels and tours, space will be limited and if you don’t book early you could end up waiting for a year or two.

During their time away, the cruise lines have been busy putting together panels of experts in infectious disease, public health, hospitality and maritime operations to ensure they can deliver safe and fun experiences on the high seas. The measures they’re implementing will begin before you even board the ship, with enhanced screening in the terminal before passengers board and negative COVID tests likely to be required. The traditional muster drills at the beginning of the cruise will be done electronically, either via app or in-cabin TV to avoid gathering in large crowds. Masks will be required in public areas, and extra space will be allotted for distancing in restaurants and at shows.

Cleaning protocols will be stringent, with every surface throughout the ship routinely sanitized. Even before the pandemic, Lindblad Expeditions introduced the industry’s first self-disinfecting fleet, powered by the ACT CleanCoat system that breaks down unwanted microbes via a photocatalytic process.

If you want to secure space but still not sure how you’ll feel about cruising next year, that’s OK. Cancellation policies are incredibly flexible, with most giving you until 48 or even 24 hours before sailing to change your mind without losing money. The cruise lines and your advisor want you to feel comfortable, not pressured. If you’re not sure what your schedule will look like next year—and let’s be honest, who among us is?—it’s easy to adjust your cruise dates without penalty, so long as there’s space.

Remember, that no-sail order applies only to ships with 250 or more passengers. Small ships, already a fantastic way to have a more intimate experience and get into smaller ports the big ships can’t even reach, can still sail. That means small ships such as those from UnCruise Adventures, SeaDream Yacht Club, Azamara and others are sailing, and adding some unique itineraries to their repertoires.

Cruises will be back and better than ever. The question is, will there be any space left by the time you book?

Dream Travel Destinations: Botswana, Africa

Is Africa one of your dream travel destinations? If so, Botswana should be on your list.

Seeing the animals from the water offers a different amazing vantage point. I did a land and boat safari in Chobe National Park when I was in Botswana and the highlight was seeing so many elephants playing in the water on the boat safari. The Okavango Delta is a great spot for a safari in a mokoro which is an adventure! Botswana can be paired with Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and or South Africa.

Keep in mind, it is best to plan at least a year in advance for Africa as many of the top lodges fill up quickly as they are limited in space. When you are ready, I am excited to plan your African adventure! Email Stefany at: stefany@largaytravel.com and or info@dmctraveltailor.com.

With passion and adventure,

Stefany

The Lowcountry & Sea Islands

Though we often go abroad to capture a sense of an older way of life and unique culture, it’s good to remember how diverse this country can be and how many distinct regions the U.S. has. The Lowcountry of South Carolina and Sea Islands of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida contain a great deal of history among the people, food and architecture. The mention of Charleston or Savannah conjures up images of Spanish moss hanging from ancient oaks, the roots of the U.S. and some of the best meals you could ever hope to have. Venture farther south to Amelia Island and St. Augustine in Florida, and you reach back to even before the founding.

The capital of the region is Charleston, founded more than a century before the Declaration of Independence was written. There, you can have a wonderful dinner at the famous Hall’s Chophouse or enjoy a more modern take on Southern favorites at the award-winning Husk. Out in Charleston Harbor, you can tour Fort Sumter, where the first battle of the Civil War took place. Down the coast are the inviting beaches and verdant golf courses of Kiawah Island, home to Virtuoso-preferred resort The Sanctuary.

All throughout the region, you’ll encounter the Gullah-Geechee culture, kept alive by the descendants of slaves brought from West Africa in the 1700s. They make their homes primarily on barrier islands of the region, just as their ancestors did. Isolated from the mainland, the Gullah-Geechee have managed to preserve their cooking traditions, music and language. At the Virtuoso-preferred Lodge & Cloister at Sea Island, you’ll be in the heart of the barrier islands.

From Charleston or Sea Island, you’re in prime position to journey to Savannah, the first capital of Georgia and a storybook city that reflects its 18th-century beginnings in every square, street and cemetery. One thing that’s quite modern about Savannah is its arts scene, and you’ll find some of the best works among the collection at Virtuoso-preferred Perry Lane Hotel.

The southernmost of the Sea Islands, Amelia Island has seen eight flags fly over its pristine beaches and hiking trails. Arts lovers will not be disappointed here, either, as the island is home to annual jazz, blues, chamber music and film festivals. It’s also just over an hour to St. Augustine, the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in what is now the U.S., founded in 1565. Whatever your interests, you can rest easy laying your head at the Virtuoso-preferred Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

The Lowcountry and Sea Islands offer a journey that both preserves hundreds of years of history and carves a path to the future of cuisine and culture, right here in the U.S.

Where We Can Travel Now

The list of countries we can visit is slowly but surely expanding. But it’s not as simple as booking a plane ticket and showing up. Good thing for you, you have a travel advisor who is constantly staying on top of the latest opening and requirements.

Most openings are in the Caribbean, and pretty much all the islands have testing and health declaration requirements. You might also be subject to additional screening on arrival. Anguilla actually requires hopeful travelers to apply for a spot. The island is COVID-free and would like to keep it that way. Should you be approved for your dates, you’ll need a negative test taken three to five days before travel. Antigua requires a negative test taken within 48 hours. Anguilla is also requiring a donation of $1,000 for individuals or $1,500 for families of up to four, with an additional $250 for each family member beyond four. Aruba’s testing window is 72 hours, though it only applies to residents of certain hotspot states. Barbados’ is also 72 hours, or you can take a test on arrival and quarantine until results are back. Bermuda requires a negative test taken within seven days, and the health declaration comes with a $75 fee. Dominica’s test window is 24-72 hours before travel, and the Dominican Republic’s is five days. To go to Jamaica, you’ll need a negative test and application approval if you live in one of a few hotspot states; otherwise, Americans have a temperature check on arrival. Turks & Caicos and St. Vincent & the Grenadines require a negative test taken within five days, while St. Lucia’s window is seven days and St. Maarten/St. Martin’s is 72 hours.

Expanding our net a bit into Latin America, Costa Rica will open Sept. 1 to residents of New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut who have a valid driver’s license from one of those states and a negative test taken within 48 hours of arrival. While the land border with Mexico remains closed for at least another month, the main tourist areas are open with no entry requirements; resorts are capped at 50% capacity. In South America, Ecuador requires a negative test taken within 10 days (rules differ for the Galapagos, where Silversea’s 100-passenger Silver Origin will begin sailing in September). Brazil requires travelers to present proof of health insurance but no test or quarantine.

If you have safari on your mind, Kenya is open to those who have a negative test taken within seven days of arrival, and Tanzania has no testing requirement but a health declaration to fill out before landing. Rwanda’s testing window is five days, and arriving travelers will quarantine for 24 hours before taking a second test. Egypt requires a negative test within 72 hours along with a visa and health insurance.

Despite European Union rules, some European countries are accepting Americans. Croatia doesn’t require a quarantine for travelers presenting a negative test taken within 48 hours of arrival, though it does require proof of accommodation. Albania has no test or quarantine requirements, nor does Serbia—unless you’re entering Serbia from neighbors Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia or Romania, in which case you’ll need a negative test taken within 48 hours. North Macedonia has a screening on arrival but no test requirement. Visitors to Ukraine will take a test on arrival and quarantine for 24 hours while awaiting the results.

In Asia, Turkey has no testing requirements. The UAE allows visitors to enter Dubai with a negative test taken within four days of arrival and travel insurance, or to Ras Al Khaimah with those same protocols plus proof of accommodation. Cambodia requires a negative test taken within 72 hours of arrival, travel insurance with at least $50,000 of coverage and a $3,000 deposit in case you’re hospitalized.

French Polynesia is once again welcoming visitors, provided they present a negative test taken within 72 hours of arrival and travel insurance. The Maldives require proof of accommodation and a health declaration.

Technically you can travel to the Bahamas, St. Barths, Ireland, the UK and Ethiopia, but they all require 14-day quarantines so you’d better have a lot of time. No matter where you’re going, be sure to bring your mask because it’s required in public spaces almost everywhere.

Confirm specific requirements for your destination with Stefany Di Manno Ceccato, she can be reached at: info@dmctraveltailor.com and or stefany@largaytravel.com.