Have your day-to-day activities left their Covid 19-induced routine behind, or are you somewhere between that and "what it used to be"? Is there a new normal you're having to adjust to (aside from mask-wearing, not hugging, and one-way lanes in the grocery store)? Have you dined at a local restaurant yet? Do you prefer to assemble with friends and family in that socially responsible way or do you prefer something more devil-may-care? I'm just being nosey, I'm not gonna tell. Myself, I'm looking forward to a carry-out dinner tonight (I've been eating home-food too long, and I'm seriously hankering for a dine-out night. As always, I get so fired up when it's time to write my newsletter. There are many developments afoot and there's more news every week, if not every day. Remember the three imaginary (but totally possible) itineraries I wrote for you a few weeks ago? They have inspired me to keep an eye on the passenger rail industry for you, and I've noticed that their practices for keeping passengers safe are quite detailed and all-encompassing. Dare I say, they are ahead of the airlines in this regard. Social distancing, and sanitization are alive on well on passenger cars, as well as inside the stations; ticketing is touchless, and passenger compliment is reduced.
By the way, two of the best parts of a rail journey, in my opinion, are these: baggage allowances as liberal as two free checked and two free carry-on bags, and (...wait for it...) NO DRIVING!!!!! That last one can be expanded to include eat, sleep, leg-stretch and potty when you want without having to search for that perfect pull-off, and the unexpected, unspoiled scenery you'd never see from the highway. Convinced yet? Okay, the new news. Some of these you may have heard already floating around in the general public; everything I mention here is current as of this writing. Beyond the second it leaves my "pen" all bets are off, which is why I encourage you to check with me for the latest update. Deal? Plus you'll need to know the restrictions, precautions, or requirements for entry to your destination. I'll save you the time searching for that. Here are some news tidbits to keep in mind.
First, the not-the-best-news category:
1. Starting July 8, Delta Airlines is suspending routes to some low-volume destinations. They are Aspen, Co., Bangor, Me., Erie, Pa., Flint, Mich., Fort Smith, Ark., Lincoln, Neb., New Bern/Morehead/Beaufort, N.C., Peoria, Ill., Santa Barbara, Calif., Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa., and Williston, N.D. In addition, Delta is indefinitely suspending service to Ottawa International Airport, effective June 21.
2. Canada's boundary with the US will remain closed to travelers until October 31, 2020. This has really put a dent in the tourism-dependent coastal areas of Canada, and the cruise industry's Alaska and Maritime routes. Come on October! 3. Considering travel to another state? Keep in mind that all states have public health and safety rules in place while they slowly reopen; keep in mind that even if tourists are welcome, highway rest stops, welcome centers, and the like may have limited hours of operation or none at all. Several states still have travel restrictions for out-of state visitors; they are Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky (scroll way down the page to April 4, the most current travel instruction), Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont. You might also find this helpful - it has the current situation in all states.
The good news:
1. Keep your fingers crossed for this one: the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA is a TA's best friend!) is pushing Congress to get the passport approval/renewal process moving again. Since March 19, only passports needed for emergency (read: "life or death") travel have been processed. Everyone else is waiting patiently for theirs.
2. Small-ship cruise companies are aiming for re-launch this month. The Centers for Disease Control's no-sail policy for US-based vessels, which runs until July 31, does not apply to ships with a 250-person passenger/crew complement. That puts domestic river cruise lines on track to be back in business sooner than soon. Remember them from this? 3. The Caribbean/Gulf coast of Mexico re-opened to domestic (i.e. Mexican) tourists on June 9th. Non-essential travel from the US to Mexico is still prohibited until June 22. Fingers crossed! 4. Safety procedures are in place at airports in Montego Bay and Kingston, Jamaica, as that island re-opens to tourists on June 15! Aruba reopens on that date also. That's enough for now, but there is a lot more to know. Reach out to me with your specific questions as you continue to dream the dream. Remember, it's a great time to get a plan in place for the summer, for later this year, for next year, even for a road trip, because you deserve the best stress-free vacation possible.
'til next week,