Covid-19 and travel

Clearly, the world has changed in the last 10 days. Clearly.

Coronavirus or COVID19 is now a reality, affecting everyone. Everyone.  Every industry.

At the epicentre of all this is, healthcare, travel & government. These people are working around the clock.

Your best source of information is their OFFICIAL websites.  Not Facebook, not a friend’s cousin who knows somebody who is a professor, but the official government and health care sites.

Travel.gc.ca is my go-to.

14 days. Let’s wait this out. Let’s self-quarantine but keep together with our loved ones by phone and Skype and whatever electronic means can bridge the distance between our homes & our hearts.

And here’s the thing about travel… it will wait. It will be there next year, or next whenever. Don’t stress over trips lost right now. Believe in your heart there will be weekend trips, epic travel and spirited adventure, in the future.

Stay well.
xo Cathie

Don’t fear the charter

I get it, you’re nervous about travelling with so much in the news about COVID-19 (aka Coronavirus). It’s definitely top of mind for everyone. The more accurate information you gather, on any subject, the better decisions you can make.

The only official website that speaks for the Canadian government and can issue public travel advisories is www.travel.gc.ca. Please don’t take something you read on Twitter or other social platforms (including blogs) as gospel. The best source of information is our Canadian Government.

When people talk about being afraid to fly I would encourage them to think about the logistics and routes of specific flights they are considering.   For example charter planes that service one or two specific routes are very low risk, in my opinion. Here’s why. I’ll use an example of a plane that flies direct from Winnipeg to Cancun twice a week, and then Winnipeg to Puerto Vallarta twice more. This plane does NOT connect in Toronto or any other major hub. There are not people using this plane to connect to Europe or anywhere else. It simply goes back & forth from Winnipeg to Mexico. This specific plane does NOT fly to Italy, nor China at all. The people aboard this plane (Winnipeg to Mexico) are leisure travellers. They are going on a holiday. These are not folks coming back from a business trip in China, thru Cancun and on to Winnipeg.

The pilots and crew of the charter plane do not work for full service airlines and do not fly in/out of Korea on their days off. They work for a specific, single airline whose business is to take Canadians to/from hot holidays December thru March. They are Canadians who live and work in our communities just like you and I.

What can you do on holiday to stay healthy? The same things you do at home.  Be wary of contaminated surfaces like door handles and touchscreens. Wash your hands rigorously and often, with soap. If you feel ill, stay home. Stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.

Would I go on a hot holiday right now? Absolutely, positively. Without a doubt. Yes. If I had days off and a vacation budget, yes I would. I would book the trip, buy the insurance and pack my bags.

 

‘Deal of the Day’ room

So, what IS the ‘Deal of the Day’ room? You’ll often see it come up on last minute travel sites…. and 9 times out of 10 it’s a heck of a bargain.

So, what IS it? Well, honestly, it could be the worst room at the resort. It could be at the end of the  hall, or over the nightclub or facing the parking lot. But…. what if it’s not?  What if it’s just a way to sell off some perfectly amazing vacant space at an amazing hotel?

It’s a gamble, that’s for sure. However, I think it’s worth it.

If I was offered ANY room at a resort like DREAMS, NOW, ROYALTON or SECRETS, for $500 less than the normal price, I would say hell yes. Put me in a closet at the end of the hall if I get 100% of the value of the restaurants, location, service and relaxation. Honestly, at that kind of savings, I’d make my own bed & help supervise kids’ activities. Lol Give me a name tag & put me to work!

The ‘Deal of the Day’ Room is NOT for you, if a view of the ocean would make or break your vacation. The ‘DOD’ is NOT for you if you fuss and rant trying to get a better deal or something you didn’t pay for. The DOD is NOT for you if don’t like taking risks or trying new things.

The DOD is perfect for happy, optimistic people who make the most of life, and value the unique opportunities that sometimes present themselves.

If your travel agent is a friend & knows his/her average prices, AND he/she tells you it’s a legit deal, you should believe them.

I saw a DOD the other day & hollered across the room to my colleague, “OMG you have to see this!! We should go!!”

The resort was NOW Sapphire. (Look it up!)  And the savings was $500 per person off the normal rate.

Manitoba March Break


It’s fairly commonly known that Manitoba has a late school spring break (end of March) while Saskatchewan  has theirs in mid February.

This creates an opportunity for Manitobans to find a travel bargain at the end of March, by departing from Regina instead of Winnipeg. (As their airport is not busy, as it is a regular work week, not a holiday).

Did you know there is a Sunwing flight on Saturdays to Los Cabos, MX out of Regina? (Reflect Krystal Grand Los Cabos $3k per couple, Tax included)

Did you know there is a flight to Varadero, Cuba  on Sundays from Regina?  (And really good flight times!)

If you can sneak out of school a day early (Friday March 27th) you could go to Mazatlan MX, which is typically the most affordable direct flight to in the sun.

A family of 4, (2 kids under 12) could stay at the Riu Emerald Bay resort,  in a family room, for $4572 total (taxes included).

The Riu is a good choice because it is a family friendly resort, right on the beach. It also has a newly built waterpark, plus kids’ clubs and nightly entertainment.

 

 

The $1200 challenge

You’d be surprised how many people come to me with 5 star dreams and a budget of $1200.

I’d hazard a guess to say that 80% of the time they’re going to be disappointed with the answer. However, there are a few specific times of the year when $1200 will do just fine.

1) the first week of December. You should be able to find 7 nights in Mexico at a 4 star or better.
2) late March, but not school spring break. (Right now, Puerto Vallarta at the Grand Palladium is about $1225 tax in, per person, double occ. Book now for travel this March.)
3) June. There won’t be direct flights but you can typically grab a package to the Dominican Republic for about $1200.

If you are looking for peak winter (February) $1200 will buy 4 star Cuba with a middle of the night flight (arrive in destination 1AM) and, I will advise that you check the weather & be prepared for 21 degree days and sweater evenings. Depending on the weather (remember they are so close to Florida that their weather is similar. Cold spell on main land equals cold spell on the island too)

Alternately, the warmest, cheapest Mexico  $1200 will buy you last minute Mazatlán. (Buy on  2 week’s notice.) Ixtapa though similarly priced in quiet weeks, is almost always sold out.

Lastly, I spied a $1200 gem just yesterday. $1200 Aruba. Same day connecting flights, no airport overnights, and at a resort with a decent location. What’s the catch? Dates are May 30 to June 6. The resort is NOT all inclusive. (For an AI, even in summer, expect $2400 per person, double occ) But I surely am calling this a bargain. $1200 plus food & a bottle of rum, would be an incredible chance to see Aruba. It’s definitely on my personal wish list.

Don’t forget your insurance. It’s the best $100 investment in your vacation and your health. Don’t leave home without it.

I apologize for the extended absence. It’s probably one of the longest breaks I’ve had from writing.  It can be best explained two ways.

Firstly, work has been very busy. The most intense time of the year in the travel industry. With hundreds of people going and coming each week, plus all of the snowstorms, insurance claims, and ever changing weekly specials, I’ve more than had my hands full. And I’m still learning. I’m trying so hard to be fabulous at my job, I’ve let all the personal stuff slide.

The other reason for being quiet is that I have the no-travel blues. I haven’t been anywhere, other than the occasional small town hockey rink, in 9 months or so. I have no trips planned, other than Europe in July. (And that I feel like I’ve done a lousy, half-ass job planning that so far. Just no time. And I have this habit of putting myself last.)

So, what’s going to get me out of this funk and inspire me? Not sure. It’s a coin toss right now. Sunshine & a new plant or two maybe. My next “trip”could  be to the greenhouse down the road.

Writing this was a good first step. Thanks for reading. Hope to talk with you again soon.
xo Cathie