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.

 

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

Last minute bargain?

Availability as of 12:05pm December 16th, for travel December 20th. Price shown PER PERSON, double occupancy.

There is a common misconception that waiting until the very last minute can net a travel bargain. That absolutely isn’t always the case.

The above shown screenshot for travel to Puerto Vallarta is less than 4 days away. To go, you would have to pay about $3500 per person.

Similarly, if that was booked in June the cost to plan early was approximately $2600 per person, depending on hotel. And, you would have received Price Drop Protection as part of your early booking bonus.

Yes, there are sometimes genuine bargains on short notice. But it pays to ask someone in the industry. For example, your travel agent might know of recent activities or changes that make a property less desirable and thus cheap at the last minute.  Or she might know of an absolute gem that’s available (Majestic Elegance,  Playa Mujeres OR Barcelo Maya Riviera) because they just recently opened and weren’t widely sold earlier because no one could be positive about the Grand Opening/ construction process.

In my opinion, the last minute bargain for Manitoba departures is about 2 weeks before take off.  And/or before the temperature drops to -30C. Then demand spikes and availability is scarce.

 

 

Gift of travel

At this time of year, you might be tempted to buy someone a trip.

My suggestion is to consider a gift card,  a travel fund, a piggy bank or a gift certificate rather than committing your recipient to dates and a destination that might not be suitable or might be very costly/difficult to change.

If someone has no desire to go to destination “xyz” and you’ve committed them, the intended gift is now instead a burden and harder to return or regift than ugly socks.

You might see 4 nights in Vegas as a generous $700 gift, but the reality is that with resort fees, transportation, entertainment and meals, the recipient will have to spent about another $700 to actually fulfill the trip.

My suggestion is to stop by the travel agency, pick up a brochure and wrap that, with cash or gift certificate and give your loved one the opportunity to dream & select for themselves.