May 2021. It has been 15 months now. The travel industry has been idled, airports are deserted, hotels have been converted to quarantine services, cruise ships have been docked, tour busses have been parked, travel agencies and agents have been stressing about both the present and the future of their industry, their personal life, their employment and their future. Three of those agencies, their owners and their staff are servicing the Hawkesbury/Champlain/surrounding areas; beyond their duties, these men and women are our neighbours, our friends, our golf buddies, our reading club acolytes, our kids/their kids share sleepover parties. Life hasn’t been rosy for them all these past 15 months. What if we showed them a little empathy and boost their moral? I have an idea to share with you.
My E-mailbox has been inundated with travel promotions lately: Expedia, Sunwing, Westjet, Travelzoo, VacationsToGo, Royal Carribean Cruises, Wingbuddy… All of them offer great deals at much discounted prices, with option to cancel and re-schedule, AND Covid travel insurance as a bonus! Through the last 40-some years my wife and I have been traveling, my personal strategy has been to shop online through all these offers from all these providers, to narrow down our choices to a few options we can afford, AND TO BOOK LOCALLY! Expedia doesn’t raise funds for your son’s soccer league hot-dog party, nor Travelzoo purchase advertising for your theatre group production: local enterprises always show a great commitment to financially support you and your family. In all fairness and gratitude, it would be most appropriate of us to return the favor.
Here’s the idea: from now until the end of May, let’s go shopping, travel-shopping! Go online and visit travel sites, whether they are bucket-list destinations or simple family summer vacations, exotic wedding & honeymoon or quiet down time pilgrimage, gambling trips or golf trips with your best friends. List all your preferences and then, narrow down your wish-list to ‘the-absolute-top-3-options’. To kick start the exercise and set the tone, I’ll share mine; although I have traveled a lot and saw hundreds of theatre performances and hundreds of artists in ‘live’ shows, I never saw Céline ‘live’; and since she will soon start a new residency in Vegas, this is my 1st choice: CÉLINE IN VEGAS! As a 2nd choice, for the music man that I am, I’d like to spend a week in New York, nice hotel in the theatre district (anything but the Trump) and attend a great musical every night: Hamilton, Phantom, Miz, Rent, … And as a 3rd choice, since I’ve been watching the series ISLAND OF BRYAN on HGTV, I’d love to go and spend an all-inclusive week at their Caerula Mar resort in the Bahamas. Your turn now! Step 2: let’s write everything down and send our choices via email to our local travel agent (email address available on their website). Firstly, they will realize we haven’t forgotten about them and so they will be able to plan groups packages accordingly to our preferred destinations and shop the best deals for us. And we might end up on the same group tours! They will surely appreciate seeing their mailboxes invaded by prospective business propositions, from their friends, neighbours, co-workers…
I have to admit that although confined since March 2020, I travelled all over the world during those long months of travel restrictions: every weeknight on PBS, Rick Steves’ travel shows take me to places I can only dream of! Projections from world politicians, health decision-makers and travel industry specialists forecast that borders will soon re-open between countries whose vaccination ratio has been reached: Vegas is presently at 50% and will soon be at 100%, New York will open fully to its tourist business this summer, Florida and Texas too, so will some European countries like Italy. Cruise companies are planning their re-launch too. Although thrilled that things will be soon back to ‘normal’ in the travel world, there might be an hesitation, a reluctance to sit in a cramped airplane with 300 other passengers, to share close quarters on a cruise ship with 4000 other guests, to attend a Céline’s concert in Vegas in a theatre that holds 2000 other fans… We will have to re-learn to use our social skills, to acclimatize ourselves to the new reality of physically interacting with others; but as the wise old saying goes, ‘Once you know how to ride a bike, …’ HAPPY TRAILS EVERYONE!