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Planning a Trip during COVID

You Can Still be Excited About Planning your Honeymoon or Destination Wedding!

Ann Meyer LeFiles, Jacksonville Premier Bride

May 19, 2021

Weddings have been difficult to navigate during the COVID pandemic but travel has changed completely. Many couples spend years or months planning their wedding and the honeymoon is time when they can relax, decompress and unwind. While weddings have resumed to a somewhat normal basis, many couples have decided to postpone their long-awaited honeymoon. Some are concerned with traveling during a pandemic, but a lot of people are worried about getting stuck in other countries during these unprecedented times.

The GREAT news is that travel is NOT shut down. In fact, many countries and states are open for business and there are great deals to be had if you want to travel.

Premier Bride of Northeast Florida reached out to several of our top travel agents in our area for their advise on travel during this time. Lori Osgood (LO) with Cruise Planners and Shawnee Doster (SD) with Palm Travel Group provided some amazing tips and feedback if you are thinking about packing your bags and dusting off that passport.

We asked both agents what countries are the easiest to travel too at this time and here is the long list of places they recommend:

  • Aruba
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bermuda
  • Bonaire
  • British Virgin Island
  • Costa Rica
  • Curacao
  • Dominican Republic
  • French Polynesia
  • Greece
  • Grenada
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • Maldives
  • Mexico
  • Panama

Keep in mind that most countries are requiring that you present a negative COVID PCR test within a certain number of hours prior to travel or to show proof of vaccination. Some countries require a special travel insurance too.

Shawnee believes Mexico has the most flexibility. You don’t need a COVID test to travel into Mexico (but it’s not a bad idea to get one). To return to the USA, you need to test negative. Many resorts are providing these tests free of charge. If you are positive, you need to stay in Mexico until negative.

What should couples consider when booking their honeymoon?

Both travel agents agree to use a professional travel agent to help you navigate any restrictions and special considerations you need to be aware of. A travel agent will be able to listen to what you are looking for and advise you to make sure you have smooth travels. Also, please be aware that all of the requirements are fluid and have changed and adjusted several times as it is dependent upon COVID rates by destination & entry requirements based upon destination. A good travel agent can assure and advise on destinations. But compliancy is the client’s responsibility with regard to testing and filling out forms per destination prior to arrival.

Lori Osgood adds that couples should not settle! If the country you really want to visit is not open, plan something smaller and keep planning the trip you have always wanted for a later date. Shawnee added that being fully vaccinated is a safer course of action for clients who want to travel internationally.

As for countries that you should avoid, they suggest visiting the U.S. Dept. of State’s website to see what the current travel conditions are for the country that you are looking to visit and any updates and travel advisories on the horizon. Requirements are changing all of the time, so working with an agent will help you navigate the ever changing situation.

Lori specializes in cruises and we asked her what the current situation is as of Mid-May. Here was her response:

The cruise industry is making a comeback with many cruises beginning to set sail again this summer. As of now, it looks like cruises will only sail with vaccinated crew and guests. Cruise lines are allowing a small percentage of people onboard that are not vaccinated but it seems as though this would be for children and they would have to present a negative test within a certain number of hours prior to boarding. The protocol for life on the ship is ever changing as well. As of now, it seems many will adopt similar restrictions that we are used to – masks required while moving around the ship but they can be taken off while dining/drinking, seated and while outside…required anywhere where social distancing is not possible. Each line is handling things differently and new protocols are being announced daily.

Shawnee handles a lot of European travel and this is her current advice:

Some European destinations are open for travel and also requiring COVID testing 72 hours or so prior to arrival. With that being said, there are some places that are not open at this time. We expect most European destinations to be open to travel by the Fall of 2021. This is, of course, speculation based upon COVID experience per country, vaccines, and herd immunity. Here is an article I found that lists this info out by country. This information is also fluid and can change quickly. It is projected that by fall of 2021, more European travel will be readily available.

We asked both travel agents what advice can they give couples.

Lori Osgood: You can still be excited about planning your honeymoon or destination wedding! There are many countries open and eager for you to come visit. Most resorts have made it very easy to comply with the CDC requirements requiring you to present a negative COVID test upon re-entry into the US by providing onsite testing so as not to interrupt your honeymoon. As a travel advisor, my company Cruise Planners, actually has made it even easier for my clients to get their COVID-19 PCR tests. We have partnered with ImmunitiRx, a service that offers convenient at-home COVID-19 PCR tests that can be self-administered prior to traveling. If you do plan to travel internationally for your honeymoon and do not already have your passport or need it renewed, I highly recommend doing so as soon as possible. With more countries opening for travel and cruise lines slowly beginning to start sailing again the demand for passports will be high and therefore there could be a bit of a delay in getting them back.

Shawnee: Do not fear international travel. Destinations and resorts want and need your travel business. It is their livelihood and their business. Resorts, depending on the destination, have limited capacity based on their COVID number per island/country. Resorts have really stepped up in their cleaning and sanitizing to help assure safety of guests. The places I have been have also removed tables in restaurants so as not to be too overcrowded. Almost everywhere I have been, staff wear masks throughout the resort, even outside to protect themselves and guests. I have personally traveled to Mexico – once in November 2020 and just recently a week ago to visit about 12 resorts and I felt very safe.

Advice for couples: If you want to travel internationally, become fully vaccinated to help protect yourself and others against COVID. This will insure your safety even more and give you a safer feeling while traveling.

Use a trusted travel agent/advisor is more important than ever. We are in the know and have contacts the general public does not have. Thank your agent and appreciate them.

One thing the travel industry realized is that vendors and phone systems were not set up to handle the volume of calls and cancellations that happened when COVID hit the world. A good and trusted travel agent has contacts and phone numbers that the average person doesn’t have. Phone systems were overwhelmed and the average consumer could spend hours on hold with their phone call ultimately being dropped.

Travel agents have worked hard during the pandemic cancelling and rescheduling trips (often without compensation) and along with other wedding professionals, are among the many professionals working hard for their clients in hopes that together we’ll make it thru this pandemic.  If you are not working with a travel agent already, please considering supporting either of these two professionals. You don’t have to live in the same state or area as your agent…they can help you anywhere!

 


Shawnee Doster, Travel Consultant
Full Service Travel Agent Specializing in Romance Travel
Certified Destination Wedding & Honeymoon Planning Specialist
Sandals Preferred Agency, Certified Specialist
GIVC Agent – Karisma Resorts, Palace Pro Agent
Master Agent – AM Resorts
904-322-7123
PalmTravelGroup.com

Lori Osgood, Franchise Owner
Land & Cruise Specialist
An Independent Agent of Cruise Planners, An American Express Travel Representative
904-482-3996
cruiseplannerpro.com