Value of a Travel Advisor, Part 3
A few months ago, I did a couple of articles about the value of a travel advisor and the wide array of services that we provide. With what has been happening in the travel industry lately, I thought I might expand on that topic a little bit in a COVID-related post. Almost everyone in the US has had their travel plans for 2020 changed. One of the things that we have been hearing from our clients over and over is how much they appreciate us navigating the changing landscape of policies, insurance, and closings. Our clients have talked to friends who have booked on their own or used internet sites to book, and they are spending hours trying to reach someone in a call center, hoping they can help them. For our clients, it is a much easier process where they know that we are going to look out for their best interests and find the best possible solution to a difficult situation for everyone.
Every travel supplier’s policy is different. There is one policy if the client cancels the trip, and another policy if the supplier cancels the trip. And both of those change with regularity. Sometimes the amount paid is nonrefundable and clients receive credit toward a future trip. Sometimes the amount is refundable and clients need to be patient to receive a refund. Sometimes there is a change fee or a cancellation fee, and sometimes those fees are waived. As travel advisors, we work hard to stay on top of these changing policies so that we can advise you of all your options and help you make the best decision for your specific situation.
Another area where we stay on top of the changing information so you don’t have to…is closings. Right now, much of the world is closed to American visitors. Those openings and closings change, just like tour operator policies. For example, Puerto Rico opened to visitors on July 15, and about a week later asked visitors to only come if their travel was essential. Puerto Rico has re-closed most non-essential businesses and beaches. Bahamas did something similar. After opening to visitors, they are now restricting travel again. Some locations are permitting travel, but requiring COVID test results that may be difficult to get—and may make your trip impossible. For Globe Travel clients, we stay on top of what is happening in your destination so that we can give you the guidance you need about your upcoming trip.
If you’re a Globe Travel client, you know how hard we’ve been working for you, navigating you through all of the changes that are happening daily in the travel industry. If you’re not a Globe Travel client, and if you’ve been frustrated by trying to figure out the status of your vacation and what your next move should be, let us help you plan your next vacation. We can remove a lot of that stress and frustration. We know what is going on in the travel industry, and providing outstanding, personal service is what we do each and every day!
Safer Group Travel
We know you’re looking for safer travel options in this time of COVID. We also know, though, that many of you love the convenience of escorted tours or cruises. We’ve started to see an interesting trend in small group travel options that is worth mentioning: private tours with your own friends and family.
It used to be that private tours were exclusive and expensive. A number of tour operators are now offering private options that are much more affordable so that you and those within your bubble can travel together more safely.
Imagine sailing around the British Virgin Islands for a week. Your catamaran comes with a skipper to take you to private coves and secluded coastlines. Enjoy the tropical breezes while you sail along the azure waters of the Caribbean. With a maximum of 8 guests, this is the perfect way to enjoy a safer vacation. Invite 7 other people from your bubble, and enjoy time together and away from your home. Other sailing expeditions can have you on a dhoni in the Maldives, a yacht in Greece, or a catamaran in Thailand. There are plenty of sailing options for a small group.
Many tour operators are now also offering private versions of their popular escorted tours. You have the ability to customize them to suit the tastes of your small group. No large groups or big buses for you. Travel with trusted friends and family instead. Want to see all of Costa Rica? We can arrange a private tour for that. Safari in South Africa? North to South Vietnam? Hiking in Patagonia? All available for small group travel of approximately 6-12 people. The beauty of this approach is that it is completely customizable. You can make it a solo private tour, or you can have a bigger group. We work with tour operators that will do it all for you. The most important thing is that you are traveling with people you feel safe with and want to see the world with.
Now that private tours are more available, they are more affordable than you think and can be a great alternative to large escorted tours or cruises. Are you thinking about who is in your bubble, or where you could all go together? Give us a call and let us know what you’re thinking, and we’d be happy to find a private tour that will be a perfect match for your unique interests.
Journeys of Faith: Holy Land
In last week’s blog, I wrote an overview of faith travel and listed a few of the popular places associated with it. Today, I thought it might be interesting to share more about selecting a trip to the most popular destination for Christian travel: Israel.
Spiritual travel allows you to explore your faith more deeply and to really experience the locations and stories from the Bible. For most people, the faith and experiential components make it a more meaningful experience than a traditional tour because they bring your faith to life. Israel has been at the heart of the Christian religion, and the opportunity to visit traditional sites is often an unforgettable, life-changing experience.
Typical Holy Land itineraries include two major areas of Israel: around the Sea of Galilee and in Jerusalem. In the Galilee area, you’ll visit towns and sites related to Bible stories, including Cana Nazareth, Capernaum, and the Mt. of Beatitudes. One of the highlights in the Galilee area is a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, sailing the same waters that Jesus would have sailed. Some itineraries also include a baptism in the Sea of Galilee area.
In Jerusalem, visitors typically go to sites associated with Jesus’ life and death, such as the Garden of Gethsemane, the Garden Tomb, Via Dolorosa, and the Mt. of Olives. A highlight of Jerusalem is the old city and walking the streets to get a feel for what Jerusalem might have been like in the time that the Bible was written.
Holy Land itineraries always include these two locations, but there are other locations in the country and vicinity that visitors often go to as well. Some other options, that might be part of your tour or could be places you add on, are the desert and Dead Sea area, Bethlehem, and the nearby country of Jordan.
We always advise travelers to the Holy Land to pack plenty of clothing options that cover shoulders and knees. This is often a requirement at holy sites, so having plenty of clothing that meets these criteria is important for any trip to the Holy Land. Another uniqueness about traveling to the Holy Land is that many sites are not accessible to those with mobility difficulties. You will often find steps and cobblestones that can be limiting for some travelers.
You will never read your Bible the same after visiting the sites of the stories, walking the streets that Jesus walked, and praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. If you’re interested in growing your faith through a life-changing experience in the Holy Land, give us a call to discuss the many options available to you. You also might want to consider putting together a church group to travel with you, because sharing the experience with others makes it even richer.
Details and Recommendations
Getting there: Most travelers to Israel fly in and out of Tel Aviv. It is a convenient international airport for all destinations in the country, and known as one of the world’s most secure airports.
Staying there: You will likely have a hotel in the Galilee region and another in Jerusalem. Most destinations can be accessed from these two places. There are a number of excellent hotels that cater to American expectations.
How long: We recommend at least a week in Israel. If you want to add other destinations to your Holy Land tour, such as Jordan, Egypt, and/or an Israel beach resort, plan on a few extra days before or after your Holy Land trip.
Don’t miss: Wandering the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem and recognizing the important role this holy city plays in 3 religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Contact: Globe Travel at 434-390-8233 or email@example.com to help you plan your faith journey of a lifetime!
Journeys of Faith
As we’ve been working with clients to plan their 2021 and 2022 vacations, we’ve noticed a trend of people requesting destinations that are related to their faith. Since it seems to be a hot topic in travel, we thought we’d share a few thoughts on selecting a journey of faith.
Spiritual travel allows you to explore your faith more deeply and to really experience the locations and stories that serve as the foundation of your faith. For most people, the faith and experiential components make it a more meaningful and inspirational experience than a traditional tour because they bring your faith to life. One of the comments that we hear from people returning from a faith journey is that they feel it has been a life-changing experience. Travel can do that, especially faith travel!
You may be wondering about popular travel destinations related to your faith. Here we’ll outline a few of the more popular options, but know that we can work with you to find a tour or create a trip that meets your specific needs and interests as you search for an experiential way to grow your faith.
* Holy Land (Israel)
* Bible Lands (Greece, Turkey, Italy, Israel)—in addition to land tours, there are some excellent cruise options for Bible Lands
* Reformation/Martin Luther (Germany)
* Reformation/John Knox (Scotland)
* Anglican and Methodist Heritage (England)
* Camino de Santiago/The Way of St. James (Spain)
* Catholic Heritage (Italy and France)
* Jewish Heritage (Israel)
* Holocaust/Jewish Heritage (Eastern and Western Europe)
* Muslim Heritage (Spain, Morocco)
Give us a call to discuss your interest in faith travel, and we’ll work with you to find an ideal destination and experience to help you grow in your faith. Expect a trip that will change your life!
Traveling during the Pandemic
So many of us have changed our vacation plans this year, but some of us are still planning to travel in the last half of the year. If you are traveling during the COVID pandemic, here are a few tips and tricks to make it easier:
* Know the new requirements/changes for each part of your journey so you aren’t surprised. For example, is there a quarantine requirement at your destination? Is your hotel still serving breakfast? What can you expect on your flight?
* If you are traveling by air, take some pre-packaged snacks with you. Restaurant availability in some airports is limited.
* Take a handful of masks. If you have fabric ones, you’ll want to wash them regularly, so make sure you have plenty of extras. And please make sure you wear your masks!
* Consider asking your credit card for an increase in your credit limit. If you get stuck somewhere because of quarantine, or if you need to pay for medical care upfront, this may come in handy.
* Take extra of the essentials, like prescription medication. Usually we advise to take enough for the length of your trip, but now we are advising to take up to two weeks’ extra, in case you are quarantined or your return flight is cancelled.
* If you are travelling internationally, enroll in the State Department’s STEP program to receive information about safety conditions in your destination country so you can make informed travel decisions.
* Expect that things will be different and be willing to go with the flow. If you planned this trip a year ago, it probably isn’t going to be just like you planned. Embrace the unexpected. Mindset makes the difference.
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