Post-Covid experiences with Hawaii, Mexico, and cruising
It’s happening: people are getting brave. They’re venturing out and starting to travel. Believe me, I am so excited about being able to travel again, I can hardly stand it! But this post-Covid travel world is different from the pre-Covid world. And I’m not just talking about needing to be vaccinated or having a pre-travel Covid test. Travel mishaps are happening now that weren’t ever part of our pre-Covid world. Can we do anything to avoid them? Here are some of my clients’ and my recent experiences, with takeaways for our own travel.
Bri’s Hawaii trip
Bri and three friends wanted to schedule a last-minute trip to Hawaii. Thankfully, this post-Covid world isn’t so crowded with sold-out flights and hotels that people can’t travel last-minute. So with flights and hotels all scheduled, we started working on excursions. Bri gave me a list of a handful of things they wanted to do: something for every day, to maximize their time on the island.
And I started checking. What I discovered was that about half of the things on their Hawaii bucket list weren’t available. They were all sold out. No luau. No Polynesian Cultural center. No ziplines. The list continued. Even when an excursion was available one day when I talked to her, by the next day it was gone. I was able to find some fun alternatives, but I didn’t fill up the whole week, and left them all a bit disappointed. The outcome: Bri and friends still had a great time, but it looked a little different from what they’d originally wanted.
The takeaway: Excursions are limiting the number of people they’re taking, so be flexible with what you want to do on vacation.
Michelle’s Mexico trip
Michelle, her husband and five kids were all set to go to an all-inclusive resort in the Riviera Maya in Mexico, May of 2020. Of course, that trip never happened because of Covid, so they rescheduled for July 2021. Things looked great; their oldest daughter just graduated from high school, so it was perfect timing for a graduation trip. It’s still easy to travel to Mexico, and since it was all-inclusive, it was going to be a great way for the parents and five kids to enjoy fun activities, great food, and relaxation.
About three weeks prior to the trip, Michelle said, “We still haven’t seen the kids’ passports. Should I be worried?” They had applied for passports three months earlier; I wasn’t too concerned. Some other clients of mine, Stacy and Jordan, had been really tight on timing; they received theirs just 3 days before their honeymoon. So I assured Michelle that they still had time.
The days flew by, and soon we were just a week prior to travel. We were worried. Michelle contacted her senator’s office after checking with the passport office; the kids’ passports were still saying “processing.” It was a nail-biter of a week for both Michelle and me. Every day we went back and forth trying to decide whether to cancel the Mexico trip or not. The family still wanted to travel that next week, since everyone had the time off; we just didn’t know where it would be. I researched options for them that didn’t require passports, and we waited. Finally, the day before their trip, Michelle decided to pull the plug on Mexico and schedule a trip to Orlando. Two of their kids’ passports arrived that day, but the other three didn’t arrive in time. They had a fun week vacationing in Orlando, but it was a different conclusion to their vacation plans than they had hoped.
The takeaway: Apply for or renew your passport NOW, even if you’re not traveling right away. Passports are taking up to 6 MONTHS to process! And, you might need to be flexible with your destination.
Joyce is a cruise lover. Cruises are her time to de-stress and travel the world. After being shut down for 18 months during Covid, cruises are starting back up, and Joyce was now ready for a break. She scheduled a Greek cruise just a few weeks ago, departing in July from Cyprus. We knew that there would be some hiccups, such as needing to be vaccinated, having to distance and wear masks, and that some excursions and the buffet would look different, but Joyce was prepped and ready to go.
Joyce flew to Washington D.C., but missed her connecting flight due to an uninformed airport official who incorrectly held hundreds of people from getting on their international connecting flights. Luckily, she’d planned to arrive a day before the cruise departed, because the only available flights got her to Cyprus just as the ship was boarding.
Joyce arrived at the ship on time—but her luggage didn’t. Royal Caribbean offered to reimburse her for anything she needed to buy onboard to replace what was in her checked bag. She had a wonderful time on the cruise; she enjoyed the small numbers and short lines everywhere, both on and off the ship.
Everyone was Covid tested before disembarking from the cruise. Joyce was staying two additional nights in Cyprus and knew that she’d need another test before arriving home; she planned to get one either at the Cyprus airport, or at the Vienna airport on her connecting flight home. Her luggage had caught up with her once she arrived back in Cyprus. Unfortunately, when she got to the airport, she discovered that the airport Covid testing center wasn’t open yet, and that the test she’d received on the cruise would not allow her to fly to Vienna. Joyce missed her flight as she waited for the airport testing center to open. I was able to get her on some replacement flights after getting her negative test, and she arrived home a day later than she’d planned from her vacation. She had a wonderful time on the cruise, but the whole experience wasn’t what it had been prior to Covid.
The takeaway: Give yourself time to get places. Bring a great carry-on with all of your essentials packed, in case your luggage never arrives. When booking a cruise, it helps to book through the cruise line, so they can take care of you if something goes wrong. And, think flexibility when you depart on that international vacation.
One more example: all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean are a little different right now as well. Many of them lost employees during the Covid shut-down, as people left the hospitality industry and found other employment. Now that they’re up and running again, they are still feeling the loss. So if you’re at an all-inclusive resort and the service is a little slow, or all of the restaurants aren’t open, or your room isn’t cleaned very early in the day, be patient.
The takeaway: Some of our pre-Covid expectations won’t be met, as resorts are trying their best to get back to normal. Be flexible.
That’s the reality of what people are experiencing right now, and it’s definitely different from pre-Covid. We all want things to go back to how they were, but just like most other things in life, we’ve just got to give it time and be patient. Flexibility is the key with traveling right now. Things may still go wrong, but if our expectations are managed, we’ll still come away with a great trip.