Tag Archives: vaccinations

Vaccinated…Get Ready to Travel?!

So, pandemic month 13 is about to end as we watch the vaccines rapidly roll out in many countries across the world.  We are close to 30 percent fully vaccinated.  We will be ready to travel soon as we see countries beginning to prepare to open and more or less return to some kind of new normal.

There’s talk everywhere of developing corridors of safe travel and in many cases, we see countries opening only to fully vaccinated travelers.   And yet… the USA just over a week ago elevated most countries in the world to travel advisory Level 4.  Essentially, “Do Not Travel.”  So, while the USA is moving faster than every country in the world except Israel to vaccinate its entire “willing” population we are being encouraged to wait and hold.  It’s not a bad move.  We are nearly there.  But there are hot spots and danger areas.  Let’s vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated and then open up the borders.  And, yes, we see Greece, Croatia and Iceland opening up their borders, albeit with strong caveats, but why not wait a few more weeks.  Makes sense.

Our travel machinery is ramping up.  Plane schedules are being filled and hotels are starting to take bookings after 1 year of hibernation.  There will be a summer season of travel and from September we should see our skies full, and our favorite destinations back.  Roma…Ci manca!

And what will the return look like.  Some things will seem and feel different.  Rental cars are scarce, and prices are higher.  Uber takes longer and is less available.  People are reluctant to take public transportation in general.  Masks will be a feature, not mandatory, but as in Japan, a feature of everyday life.  Restaurants will emphasize outdoor seating and slowly but surely expand their indoor potential. Although, many restaurants we love will not be returning.  Casualties of the pandemic months.

Airlines are increasing their flights.  But airlines are also more cautious and wary of losing even more money than they have experienced so far.  Cheap flights will be available but less so than before. Transatlantic capacity will ramp up and group travel will almost certainly make fully vaccinated people the rule rather than a recommendation.  Restaurants, airlines, and entry to sporting events and theatres will almost certainly demand a Vaccine ID type passport/card.  In Europe it will be a matter of months before they introduce a card showing a vaccination.  No card….No entry, No boarding, No go!

Will everything return as if this was a blip on the landscape.  Will we be confronted by crowded museums and lines at places like Versailles and St. Peter’s as we phase back to the crazy days of a bygone era.  I don’t think it will ever quite be the same.  We will adapt and will do things differently and most importantly we will never take for granted the wonder of a crowded vaporetto in Venice or a pedestrian traffic jam along Oxford Street in London.  Maybe we will have become more tolerant and more conscious of the things that drive our economy.  Maybe we will be kinder to each other.  Do things  with a smile rather than a weary look of frustration.  Remembering all those lost months of no travel and no business.  Locked in and working remote.  Zooming to places rather than being there!  Good to hold those memories and never forget how grateful we are for busy people racing through those airline terminals, dashing for an Uber or the metro.

The pandemic days will remind us all that we have just lived through something that will change us forever.  And honestly, it hopefully will make us better travelers and better ambassadors as we explore new places and touch the tip of possibility once more.

See you out there somewhere.

Peter

 

Thoughts on Covid, Vaccinations and Resuming Travel!

What’s happening.

It has been a year without travel.  A year lost in many ways.  A year when we have stayed at home, learned new things about ourselves and spent more time with our loved ones.  Ironically, we have also spent more time reaching out over Zoom or whichever platform we use to connect frequently with friends and family we may not necessarily be in touch with as often.  We are all remote in more ways than one.  We have lived under this dark cloud for a year, and only now, do we find ourselves coming up for air.  For those of us who love to travel, it has been a year of not traveling.  For businesses it has more often been a year of heartbreak and failure as the pandemic has ruptured large parts of the economy.  In Travel, in entertainment, restaurants and bars it has been as close to a disaster as one can imagine.  And yet we endured.  Reinvented ourselves, changed our models and our perspective and moved sideways or backwards or jumped through barriers that we previously were too fearful to jump through.

And here we are. March 2021. Ironically as spring surges ahead and the first buds appear around the shrubs in Western Mass, the metaphor reminds me that we are slowly lightly moving along.

Vaccines are rapidly being deployed, Covid testing is fast and efficient and rates of Covid are dropping.  Yep, there are surges and still it’s chaotic in places but overall, the signs are good. The world has changed and won’t be quite the same, but we will get back to a near normal routine.  The economy will recover and travel…beloved travel will start up again.

We already have groups departing for Costa Rica, the DR and Ecuador.  Slowly Europe will reopen and even though masks will remain in place, even though there will be strict rules on Covid testing and vaccines, travel will return. Global airline travel fell by 66% in 2020.  The largest decline in history.  Tourism accounts for 1 – 10 jobs around the world. In some parts of the world, tourism is the economy. International arrivals in those countries fell as dramatically as 97%.  It will take some time to recover. On a positive note, we have had a 50% decrease in carbon emissions and our oceans and canals are cleaner than ever.  And we read more than any other year we have ever read! Books….and Netflix!

As we move to our second Easter under the pandemic, this one brings hope and optimism.  The sky is still empty over my house as I look out into the western horizon, but a few more planes have passed by this month. The snow is gone.  Let’s hope that the pandemic continues to melt away with it.

Destination Updates

Iceland is open to vaccinated travelers and people who are prepared to have a Covid test on arrival.  Even if you show a recent Covid test. If you test positive, then you are quarantined at your expense in a quarantine hotel.

Ecuador is open as is Galapagos with proof of vaccine or negative Covid test.  No test on arrival.

Costa Rica/Dominican Republic… Vaccine or negative Covid test.

Vaccines, Vacations and How We’ll Have to Travel Differently

So here we are…it’s February 1. Nearly a year and we’re still moving through the pandemic. The great news is that the vaccine is being rolled out, more or less, across the world. Yes, it’s not equal dibs and it’s not necessarily fair but the main fight to get the vaccine out inevitably means that the more advanced economic countries will see it first. There’s also a lot of distribution and supply problems. England seems to be holding up vaccine that was guaranteed to the European community and the Europeans are noticeably not happy. Who can blame them?

However, the Brits have done something right. Of the three main vaccines, the Oxford one can be stored at fridge temperatures and uses a tried and tested means of getting the virus to fight the virus in and out of your body. AstraZeneca/Oxford is simply more tested and more storable. Moderna and Pfizer are part of the top three, but the clear leader is AstraZeneca/Oxford. After the Brexit debacle and an early Covid nightmare the Brits are now showing some leadership. Furthermore, the Brits are ahead of the game compared to most of the world except Israel. God bless the National Health Service. A National strategy in a global crisis makes sense!

There’s more and more of a mask mandate. In Europe it’s full on and now in the US, masks are also being required across the board. At last. In addition, of course, the groovy masks we’ve all been wearing (the cloth and designer ones) are apparently not so effective. Airlines are refusing to accept them and we’re all queuing up looking for our Covid masks.

The news this week is that there is mandatory testing to reenter the USA which is a good thing. Although that pretty much takes care of the Caribbean vacation dreams of many. Some resorts are trying to scramble to figure out ways to test on site.

Canada has just effectively shut down all traffic heading to warmer climates. Let’s face it, there should be an exception for Canadians. Its cold up there! The USA has this week insisted that anybody traveling on an airplane anywhere must have a negative Covid test before they can board the plane. Once the vaccine is rolled out, no doubt there will be vaccine hierarchy. The real question is what will change as we move through the vaccination rollout. The answer is lots.

Some things simply will not go back to the way they were. In the same way that after 9/11 we were suddenly confronted with TSA and security screening before we went airside to board our flights. Something we could never have imagined prior to 9/11. So, what will change for all of us as we move through this pandemic and the vaccine is rolled out?

Safety and cleanliness will be more important than ever before. Things will take a little longer at check-in. We’ll all have to carry evidence of vaccination so that we can move around freely. It will probably be something eventually put into our passport. Testing is here to stay. Random, yes, but here to stay. Let’s get the right people vaccinated first. No cheating lines. Vaccines will enable us to skip quarantines. Get the right one. Masks will not disappear.

If you travel to Asia, you probably have noticed that a lot of people were wearing masks prior to this pandemic. That is going to hang around. In the end, the safety and security of everyone is paramount. That’s what will enable us to travel again. A vaccine and sensible precautions. I don’t want to sit next to someone that is not masked up and want to be sure that everyone on the plane is vaccinated.

Post pandemic, we need to be kinder and more respectful of other people. Be good citizens. When we take our students on trips across the world it’s one of the things that we hope will emerge from the experience. Being more tolerant, being a global ambassador for our country and being socially aware. So, there are good things that will emerge from this.

When this day is done, and this pandemic moves on out of here we will have almost certainly lived through one of the most extraordinary times and one of the most extraordinary tragedies in the history of our world. Travel will be one of the last things that will fully open. But the vaccine is the key and travel will return.

I’m a traveler and have been traveling all my life. We’re just going to have to travel a little differently and with the vaccine in hand we will still be able to take on the world and enjoy the incredible things that are out there. We have a couple of months to go almost certainly, but slowly and surely the curtain will come up and I for one can’t wait to get back on the road again.

Let the show begin!