It is possible to travel in this unpredictable world and actually have a great time! I just returned from a wonderful river cruise with Avalon Waterways visiting the Christmas Markets in Germany, France and Switzerland.
Of course, travel isn’t the same as it was a few years ago but with a little patience and the help of a travel expert and a respectable tour operator, the trip you’ve been dreaming of is possible.
ALWAYS WORK WITH A TRAVEL EXPERT! As a travel expert, my job is to listen to my client and arrange the best experience based on the given criteria. We try to keep up with the protocol and requirements for travel in the world today, especially outside the US. We have several outlets in which to obtain up to date requirements for entry into countries around the world.
This is where patience comes in to play. While getting prepared for my own trip, the protocol continued to change, even after boarding the ship. I know this can be stressful for anyone looking forward to a trip they’ve had planned for 2 years! BREATHE…we’re here to help. As I mentioned, our job is to match our guests requests with the right tour operator, hence, the following helpful hint.
ALWAYS TRAVEL WITH A RESPECTABLE TOUR OPERATOR! Especially during these times of COVID and the unpredictability of closures and requirements throughout the world, you will be less stressed if you travel under the umbrella of a tour operator who will take responsibility of making sure you are protected while traveling. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to take responsibility for yourself. For example, in order for me to enter France while on my cruise, the entire ship needed a COVID test…negative results, of course. Avalon did not send guests to find a pharmacy in a foreign country in order to take the test. They brought health care workers on board during a down time and our entire ship tested negative! As everyone knows, if you travel abroad, you are required to take a COVID test, with negative results, in order to return to the US. Again, Avalon brought healthcare workers on board, and everyone was able to return home, healthy and happy! Avalon did their best to alleviate trip interruption.
SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES! The itinerary for my cruise changed a few weeks prior to departure. I was disappointed about not getting to visit the Heidelberg Christmas Markets due to closures, but Avalon arranged for a visit to Mainz, Germany, the home of Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. We received a private tour of the Gutenberg Museum then free time to stroll the Christmas Markets. Strasbourg, France was amazing, and their Christmas Markets were fabulous. Some people may be uncomfortable with police walking the streets with very large guns, but I never felt unsafe for a second! I just had to remember I was in another country, and this is how they kept their citizens safe, especially in the open Christmas Markets. Our next stop was the Black Forest of Germany and Colmar, France…oh and maybe a little wine tasting! Colmar has the distinction of being the home of the architect of the Statue of Liberty…and again, the most amazing Christmas Markets. Our trip ended in Basel, Switzerland with a transport to Zurich for an extra night. Try not to go to Zurich on a Sunday…everything was closed except for the Christmas Markets! The city was very busy, though. I’m not sure where everyone was going but it was fun, none the less.
ONE LAST THING…If you ever find yourself at CDG (Paris airport) for a layover less than 4 hours, purchase a VIP service with Universal Sky Services. I was concerned about my 1.5-hour layover in Paris on my return flight. I knew I was going to be short on time. I purchased this service which requires submitting your passport, vaccine card and flight itinerary, to be cleared with immigration. I stepped off the plane and the rep was waiting right there. He took my carryon and off we went. We bypassed immigration, jumped several lines including security and made it to our gate with only 15 minutes to spare. I would still be in Paris if it weren’t for Najib!