Planning for 2021 Travel
We talk regularly with our clients about planning early for travel, and I write it about it regularly here on the blog. The earlier you plan your trip, the more likely you are to get exactly the trip experience you want: the hotel room with the perfect view, the cruise cabin in the best location, the plane seat that is not between strangers, or the rental car that will fit everyone and their luggage comfortably.
Never has this advice been more relevant than it is right now. Think about the travel and tourism landscape over the past 6 months. So many people have had to cancel their 2020 plans. The majority of those didn’t really cancel; they rescheduled for 2021. Most cruise lines, both river cruises and ocean cruises, are reporting that their 2021 itineraries are booking very quickly. Some are already sold out. The same is true for escorted tours.
For travelers who may be hesitant to book something right now, a number of tour operators are offering attractive trip insurance rates, flexible cancellation policies, and delayed payments to entice travelers to book now for 2021.
This adds up to a great position for our clients. We can likely get you on the trip of your dreams, with protection if you need to change those plans in the future. We don’t know how long this sweet spot will last, though. One thing that all travel professionals are predicting: last-minute travelers will find limited success getting the trips they want in 2021.
What is your dream destination? Where have you always wanted to go? It’s time to turn that dream into a plan by taking action now for 2021 travel. Give us a call at 434-390-8233 and let us know your dream destination. We can get you booked for 2021 so that you can sit back and just relax, knowing your plans are in place.
Patagonia: The New Alaska
Let’s think about your next vacation. When the world is ready to cruise again, consider a cruise to an area of the world that is sometimes referred to as “the new Alaska”: Patagonia. It is an area of vast, unspoiled, natural beauty. Majestic mountains. Crystal clear lakes. Sparkling glaciers. And not a lot of other visitors. While visitors are a key part of the economy in many Patagonian ports, this is a very authentic cruise because you will have a lot of opportunity to interact with locals, slow down, and enjoy the lack of over-commercialization.
Cruises to Patagonia generally start in Santiago, Chile, go south along the Pacific coast, around Cape Horn at the southern-most point of South America, and come north up the Atlantic coast to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Or they go in the reverse. This is not a port-intensive cruise. You will have a few days in a row at sea going from one port to the next because this is such a vast land area. It encompasses approximately the lower third of the South American continent, and your cruise will primarily have ports in 2 countries: Chile and Argentina.
You will see all the key sights along the coast. (If you are a trekker or hiker interested in Patagonia, you should consider a land tour instead. A cruise really doesn’t give you enough time to go deep into the national parks that the area is famous for.) A cruise is an excellent overview of the area, focused equally on the gorgeous scenery, the local history and culture, and the area’s unique wildlife. For example, in Puerto Montt, Chile, you will be in the country’s Lake District with snow-capped mountains and a volcano along the edges of pristine lakes.
Farther south in Patagonia, near Punta Arenas and Ushuaia, you will see more wind-swept prairies and a terrain that supports vast sheep ranches. Punta Arenas is located on the Strait of Magellan, which was a main trade route before the Panama Canal was built, enabling ships to avoid the treacherous seas of Cape Horn. Ushuaia is the southern-most city in Patagonia. A former Argentine penal colony, it bills itself today as “the end of the world.” It marks the end of the Pan-American Highway that begins in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska and follows the Rockies and Andes Mountains south through two continents. Cape Horn is the actual southern-most land and sits on a small island. If the weather cooperates, your ship will sail to or around Cape Horn. Some cruises will use Ushuaia as a jumping off point for Antarctica. We’ll save that topic for another post, because Antarctica is fascinating and beautifully wild.
Coming north up the Atlantic Ocean side, you may take a small detour east to the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory that has more sheep and penguins than people. This island feels very British with tea shops and classic red telephone boxes. But pairing that with thousands of penguins and acres and acres of sheep ranches gives the Falklands a unique vibe.
Also on the Atlantic side, you will find some larger cities in Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Montevideo, Uruguay; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Puerto Madryn is a buzzing beach city that is famous for its wildlife, especially its penguins and sea lions. You will see thousands of them! Montevideo and Buenos Aires are very cosmopolitan, vibrant South American cities where you are sure to see some tango.
As you can see, a Patagonia cruise offers a little bit of everything. It is an off-the-beaten-path cruise for someone who has been to the main cruise destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, and Alaska. Cruises to this region are popular, but limited compared to other cruise destinations. You will find small-ship expedition cruises, small-ship luxury lines, and large-ship premium lines all sailing in this region. They only offer a few sailings each year, though, and they book up quickly. The Patagonia itinerary is sometimes offered as part of a larger world cruise where you could add on additional legs along the Pacific and Atlantic oceans before and after the Patagonia leg. For example, cruise to Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru before getting to Chile, or visit Brazil and Caribbean islands after leaving Buenos Aires. If you’re ready to expand your cruising horizons, consider a Patagonia cruise. We’ll be happy to help you pick the right cruise experience and cruise line to give you the best trip based on your interests.
Details and Recommendations
Getting there: Because South America is so far south, the flights are usually overnight. There is very little, if any, time change, so it tends to be less stressful on the body than an overnight flight that goes east or west. Santiago and Buenos Aires are both major airports with easy connections from the US.
How long: The Patagonia cruise itinerary generally takes 2 weeks. If your itinerary also includes Antarctica, it will take about 5 days longer. Buenos Aires is such a wonderful city, that we recommend some additional time there before or after your cruise.
Don’t miss: Penguins. They are every bit as cute in real life as they are on the TV or in the movies. In real life, though, you can also hear how loud they are and smell them. (When the colony is large, they are a little bit smelly!) Also, don’t miss eating local meat in Argentina. In Buenos Aires, they are known for beef. In Patagonia, they are known for lamb. Try both; they’re delicious!
Contact: Globe Travel at 434-390-8233 or email@example.com to help you plan your perfect Patagonia experience!
Fall in the Caribbean? Yes, please!
Those of you with children or grandchildren may think it’s not practical to travel in the fall because kids are back in school and you’re in your “normal” routine. Well, nothing about 2020 has been normal, has it? And we have an opportunity for a really unique fall!
Some of our favorite all-inclusive resorts have debuted programs that allow families to work and learn virtually from a tropical location in the Caribbean. These all-inclusive resorts have become even more inclusive, offering great perks like quiet spaces for kids to do virtual school, access to the business center so adults can get work done, fitness programs, laundry services, upgraded suites, and more. These resorts are making it a breeze to continue your “new normal” of working and learning from home, while doing it in a gorgeous setting that gives you some time away from home for a mini-vacation.
With most tropical destinations closed to Americans for the summer, fall is the perfect time to plan a getaway. And if you are doing virtual work and school, you can do it without taking vacation time or interrupting your children’s education. Imagine a daily schedule like this: swim in the morning instead of commuting, a fresh breakfast prepared for you, work, light lunch waiting for you, work, late afternoon yoga, delicious dinner with the family, evening walk on the beach. Throw in kids’ activities and educational programs so you don’t have to supervise virtual learning, as well as no household chores like cleaning, cooking, or laundry. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?!
Most of these specials require a minimum 14 night stay. Prices start at $900/person—what a deal! The Caribbean resorts offering these programs are taking COVID safety very seriously and taking many extra steps to ensure guests have a safe experience. If you’re interested in taking advantage of these great rates and fewer crowds in the Caribbean, give us a call and we can help you find just the right package—whether you want to work and learn from a tropical island or whether you simply want to get away from it all and do absolutely nothing!
Cancel-For-Any-Reason Trip Insurance
With everything that is happening right now in the world, we are strongly recommending to our clients trip insurance—not just the regular trip insurance that we always recommend, but cancel-for-any-reason coverage. Let’s review some trip insurance basics to give you an idea of how this coverage might benefit you for a future trip.
Trip insurance includes a list of covered reasons, which are specific situations that your insurance will cover if you file a claim. For example, most trip insurance will cover you for cancellation if you are so sick that your doctor has advised you not to travel. Other covered reasons often include being in an accident en route to the departure of your trip, theft of your passport, and your home becoming uninhabitable due to fire, flood, etc. Each policy includes a list of specific covered reasons. The list of covered reasons is important because these are the ONLY situations where you will be reimbursed for the cost of your trip if you need to cancel. It is important to recognize when you purchase insurance that you are only covered in the event of a “covered reason.” In addition to a list of covered reasons, most policies also include a list of exclusions, reasons they will not cover your claim, such as participating in illegal activities.
Sometimes you may find that you need to cancel your trip, but the reason is not in the covered reason list, nor in the exclusion list. Maybe your niece has decided to get married on the weekend you were planning a trip. Or maybe you got an awful haircut and you don’t want to leave the house for at least 3 weeks. For these situations, it is up to your insurance company to determine whether or not they will cover your claim. Most likely, they will not cover anything that is not a covered reason.
For these scenarios, many insurance companies offer you the option of a cancel-for-any-reason (CFAR) policy. This policy provides coverage for all of those events that are not on the covered reason list but also not on the exclusion list. With a CFAR policy, you will most likely be reimbursed if you decide to attend your niece’s wedding or if your haircut is so bad that you can’t be seen in public! The list of exclusions still applies, so you will be denied coverage for anything that is an excluded reason. But for other reasons, you will be covered.
CFAR policies offer you a lot more flexibility. Ordinarily, concern about health risks associated with travelling is not a covered reason, but if you have CFAR coverage and a pandemic is not on the exclusion list, it will most likely be covered. It is because of this flexibility and the state of travel in the current environment that we are strongly recommending CFAR policies right now.
Two important notes about CFAR policies. 1) They are more expensive than regular policies because they offer greater flexibility. 2) They often do not cover 100% of the cost of your trip if you need to cancel. Most offer about 75% reimbursement.
If you’re planning a trip in the near future, talk to us about your insurance options, including the CFAR option. Make sure you read the plan documentation carefully to determine if this may be a good fit for you, your travel style, and the circumstances. We find that, in these uncertain travel times, they provide peace of mind to our clients.
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