There is no doubt that “cabin fever” has hit many of us, especially those of us that love to travel. We are slowly seeing some parts of the world open back up, allowing us to travel there. As a travel advisor, I am called almost daily by folks asking about traveling domestically versus internationally. I hear the phrase “false positive” which causes many travelers to lean towards traveling within the U.S., including Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. These are all great destinations – but guess what? They are packed with Americans! Poor service due to shortage of staff, no rental cars to be found, and high-priced hotels due to lack of supply, are just a few of the obstacles faced by domestic travelers. One client who traveled to Hawaii said it took two and a half hours to check into her hotel, and the food at her luau was more like a TV dinner! I have booked folks wanting to travel within the U.S. and have gotten less than stellar comments about their trip experiences. Although we are a worldwide travel company, much of the world has not re-opened so we are focusing on Central and South American travel destinations. I have recently booked guests to Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and Belize, and the reviews have all been wonderful. The locals are so excited to have tourists back that they provide fabulous service and have amazing protocols in place for Covid-19 protection.
Here are just a few examples of client feedback. I booked two ladies that love to travel on a trip to Costa Rica. In the days before their trip, they started to get nervous and we gladly offered them the chance to reschedule, but in the end they decided to go for ten days and came back raving. They said the measures taken to keep them away from crowds, personal service, masked drivers and guides when needed, and high standards for cleanliness at the hotels, had them saying they felt safer in Costa Rica than in the U.S. They were even pleased with the ease of obtaining a COVID test to return to the U.S. The going rate in Colombia for testing seems to range from $50 -$150, so do your homework on where to get it done.
I booked a single lady to Ecuador and the Galapagos. She said her local guide was attentive to her as a single passenger and helped her navigate within the airport and to her hotel. For her flight to the Galapagos, the guide was there to help with the necessary documentation, including a required negative COVID test. The good news now is, as long as you are vaccinated, you no longer need to present a negative Covid test. Anyway, on her return to Quito after being in the Galapagos, we were able to arrange a rapid COVID test at the airport for her return to the U.S., and she stayed on one extra day to tour a beautiful region of Ecuador including the Otavalo area and also a rose plantation. This was an excellent way to end her Ecuador adventure. She says she felt safe and secure throughout the trip and appreciated the service provided locally to keep her free from any worries.
A family of six that I booked to Peru spent most of their time in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and at Aguas Caliente to visit Machu Picchu. From the moment they arrived, they were whisked about safely and securely. Peru does have some strict masking requirements and does still require a COVID test on arrival even if vaccinated, but they no longer require testing to fly domestically, which is simplifying travel throughout the country. For flights within Peru, they provide N-95 masks to all passengers. Also, they are limiting the number of entrances to Machu Picchu, so it is not crowded, which makes it nice to take pictures and explore. Definitely reserve in advance, which we do for all our clients. They are not selling the train to capacity, so reservations are strongly recommended. Two days prior to travel, we had the clinic supplier come to the hotel to do the test for $30 per person.
I personally just returned from Belize. When you arrive to the airport, they have two lines, one for vaccinated guests and one for those that have a negative PCR test. It was very efficient. They also did temperature checks at some locations, and in all public areas masking is still required. My time was spent in country as well as on one of the popular out-islands. At the two properties where I stayed, all staff wore masks but guests were not required to. I found it interesting that virtually all the staff at both properties had recently received their first vaccine, but not their second one. Vaccination efforts internationally are still well behind the U.S. The cases in Belize are low, and this country is listed as a level two for travel. On our second to last day we went to a local clinic to do our COVID test to return to the U.S. They charged us $75 which seems to be the going rate, and we had our results in 15 minutes, provided on a nice form letter from their Health Department and accepted without any questions by the airline.
Colombia is now allowing arrivals with a vaccine. Panama does still require a COVID test to enter. I will be going to Panama myself in July, so I will be able to share a bit more when I return. Chile, Argentina and Brazil have yet to re-open. Chile’s numbers are quite low, but they are just playing it safe a bit longer. Argentina’s and Chile’s peak travel season begins in September, and all indications are that they will indeed open for travel by then. Vaccination efforts are still a bit behind in Argentina, but Chile is about the same as we are in the U.S.
Using a travel advisor to navigate world travel is the smart way to go, as we have the resources to share and knowledge to arrange services allowing for safe travel. At Condor Tours & Travel, we have come out with a line of “A Safe Escape” travel packages to Latin America, where we have the tools and protocols to help you feel safe while traveling. We are happy to assist you with travel. Contact us at 770-339-9961 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . You may also visit our web site to see our complete line of destination travel packages at www.Condortoursandtravel.com