Well, we did it! We made it to 2021! And although the first two weeks or so of this long-awaited year don’t look that much different than the last few weeks of 2020 – there is hope on the horizon. We have a vaccine – two in fact – with a third one being approved in the UK. Immunizations have started, and for the first time in months there is a light at the end of that tunnel that seemed to get longer and longer as each month of 2020 came and went. We still have a long way to go – there is no doubt about that – but it is with a very hopeful heart that I move towards that light and get back to the business of doing what I so love to do – curate adventures for my clients that are not just simply vacations – but something so much deeper – life changing, eye opening journeys to destinations everywhere and anywhere on this marvelous planet. So, in honor of National Plan Your Vacation Day – which is designated as the last Tuesday of January – making it January 26th this year - let’s talk about getting back out there to continue seeing the world and all of its wonders in 2021.
Now, while there is absolutely no arguing that the past ten months have seen much heartbreak and sorrow -there are certainly positives that came about thanks to COVID-19 if we choose to look for them. In my beloved travel industry alone, I have seen new trends that are going to guarantee travelers a safer, more hygienic experience - one that in truth should have been in play long before this.
I have heard it said that travel will never be the same again – and a lot of the time the tone of those words insinuated that it was a negative thing – and obviously, I disagree. Hotels, airplanes, theme parks, trains, cruise ships and more have all taken measures that are above and beyond anything we have ever seen before to ensure the health and well-being of everyone who stays, fly’s, plays, rides or cruises with them. From partnering with cleaning companies, creating more and more touchless environments and requiring negative COVID-19 tests - just to name a few - they are committed to their guest’s wellbeing like never before.
That being said where exactly can we travel to at this point? What are our options? There are actually quite a few destinations that are open and welcoming tourists. Depending on the type of vacation experience you are looking for – whether it be a beach getaway, adventure travel or a back to nature excursion – they are all viable options as we head into this new year.
Fun in the Sun
If you are longing for a Caribbean getaway where you can experience two separate islands – it used to be that cruising was the way to go. However, with the cruise industry at a standstill a great alterative is venturing to islands that are close enough that you can hop between them. Two such destinations are the islands of Antigua and Barbuda. Described as a place of beautiful barefoot elegance – these Leeward Islands offer you the opportunity to lay on the beach with a drink and book in hand - they literally have a beach for each day of the year - or immerse yourself in the history and culture that abounds across both. As of this writing a negative corona virus test taken within seven days of arrival and a temperature check and health screening upon arrival are the COVID-19 requirements to enter both islands.
Another option for island hopping? How about the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao? Aruba – who’s tagline is One Happy Island is also known as the Sunniest Destination in the Caribbean and I know we can all use a little Vitamin D about now. Entrance to this island includes completion of an online embarkation / disembarkation card and a health assessment, plus a negative coronavirus test (for everyone 15 and older) taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. Bonaire – which is consistently recognized as one of the top destinations in the world for sustainable tourism – is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the US with a pace that is slow and stress free – and is abundant with marine life. Though there are no direct flights from the US to Bonaire at the moment, Bonaire is accepting US citizens who travel through Curacao and comply with the Curacao entry requirements. And of course, Curacao with its charming colonial pastel-colored buildings and the unique pontoon bridge across St. Anna Bay – the Queen Emma Bridge - offers plenty of gorgeous white sand beaches with turquoise waters and Instagramable moments. US citizens are welcome here with the stipulation that they show a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival, have adequate insurance, a completed digital immigration card and a Health Department passenger locator card.
All About Adventure
Looking for some adventure travel? How about a multi-country trip to the South American countries of Brazil and Chile? Brazil offers plenty of opportunities for adventure! Home to the designated UNESCO World Heritage Site Iguassu Falls - which are stunning semicircular waterfalls that together make up the largest waterfall in the world, the Amazon Rainforest, and the amazing phenomena The Meeting of the Water where two rivers – the dark Rio Negro and the sandy colored Amazon meet – but do not mix. Americans are permitted with proof of a negative Coronavirus test taken no more than 72 hours prior to boarding the plane and there are some health screening procedures in place at airports but no required quarantine period upon arrival. Not to be outdone, Chile offers a chance to explore glaciers, trek through world-famous Torres del Paine National Park or sand surf in the world’s driest desert – Atacama. Getting into Chili requires a completed “Affidavit of Travelers” electronic form, negative results from a COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel and proof of insurance coverage that will take care of any coronavirus-related health issues.
Another alternative? You can always head to Central America and get your Indiana Jones on with a trifecta of Costa Rica, Belize and Guatemala which are three more destinations that are open and awaiting visitors! In Costa Rica, a visit to Arenal Volcano National Park is just the ticket to get your adrenaline going – be it white water rafting, venturing out on to hanging bridges or ziplining. To gain entry here visitors are required to purchase medical insurance to cover any possible coronavirus-related costs they may incur and complete health pass forms. Heading to Guatemala you can partake in a helicopter ride to the Mayan Ruins deep in the jungle for a look up close – and a climb up – ancient pyramids rising above the forest canopy. Entry here means a health screening and completing a health pass form online as well as proof of a negative coronavirus test taken no more than 96 hours before arrival. Belize – which is pretty much an off the beaten path haven – and perfect for social distancing - offers you the opportunity to swim, snorkel or dive in the infamous Blue Hole or go cave exploring at Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave where you can check out the skeletal remains from a Mayan family burial! Requirements here are a stay at a Gold Standard hotel which ensures travelers are vacationing in spots that place a high emphasis on cleanliness and health. In addition, you are required to present a negative coronavirus test taken no more than 72 hours prior to departure. If you don’t present a negative test, you’ll have to front a $50 fee and take a test upon arrival.
Wild About the Wilderness
Into wildlife? Head to Africa for a bucket list safari in Tanzania! This beautiful East African destination - featuring the popular plains of Serengeti National Park and home to Mount Kilimanjaro - is a must for that perfect out of Africa experience! Here the requirements are a bit different as the necessity for a negative COVID-19 test depends on the airline's requirements rather than the country's rules, but visitors are required to partake in health screenings upon arrival. Combine your Tanzania adventure this with a stop in Botswana in Southern Africa where 38% of the total land area of the country is devoted to national parks, reserves and wildlife management areas giving you ample opportunities to get up close to lions, rhinos, giraffes, hyenas, jackal, leopards and much, much more. Stipulations for entry are proof of a negative coronavirus test taken no more than 72 hours before departure to avoid a 14-day quarantine.
So what do you say? Let's get the planning started - Book Here, Give Here would love to help you curate your next adventure!
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