by Elizabeth Stoddard
Traveling internationally can be a nightmare these days. Covid has thrown so many curves to travelers - curves that can change on a dime. So unexpected restrictions, requirements and changes have become the norm. And perhaps that is one reason to travel with a small group now more than ever before - particularly with us, as I will explain.
We recently traveled to the Caribbean for a family vacation with Mark's ninety-nine year-old mother. Five of us left from Salt Lake City to New York on a flight that was delayed three hours so we arrived in the early morning hours. By that time, most baggage handlers had gone home so it took more than an hour to get our luggage and then we discovered we had to take a train to a station where the hotel could pick us up.
With a wheelchair and lots of luggage we managed to get halfway there when we finally realized that if we continued to the hotel we were likely to get one hour of sleep and then had to be back for our morning flight to St. Maartins. So we decided to turn around and go back to American Airlines where we could get an early start and be well ahead of the game for our next flight.
Or so we thought.
When we arrived at the AA departure terminal four hours before our flight and started the check in process we were informed that besides the covid test results, our vaccination record and airline tickets, St. Maartins required an online form that was to be filled out 12 hours before departure. To our shocked reaction, we were told we should have researched the destination and then we would have known about this form.
The cruise line we were traveling with and the airline had neglected to inform us of this additional hoop to jump through, so as a result, we had a tortured beginning to a wonderful trip. We missed two flights, the first day of the cruise and had to be re-routed through Miami with an unexpected night in a hotel there. In addition, we were required to purchase trip insurance. Then, since we were rerouted to St. Kitts, there was another totally different online form to be navigated (and both required uploaded photos of our test results and our vaccination records).
Then when we arrived in St. Kitts, Mark, mom and I were almost unable to enter as we had received spit pcr tests and St. Kitts requires nasal pcr test. Mark finally convinced the young man that we were going directly to the cruise ship and would not contaminate the islanders. And we finally joined the cruise.
So, the point to this long tortured diatribe is that we, your tour directors know what a pain international travel can be and we are here to remove the roadblocks ... as much as humanly possible. We are grateful to be aware that yes, there is a form to fill out to go to Croatia and there will be other forms and changing requirements. We are spending hours each day researching, planning and finding those who can be there to assist us in making your trip like traveling used to be.
So please don't worry. Be mindful and read all that we send you - we'll keep updates coming as needed, and you are welcome to call. Just know we are seasoned travelers who have recently experienced the horror of traveling and are determined to give you the information you will need to safely and serenely navigate this trip. Perhaps now more than ever it is good to go with a group and let us do the groundwork for you.
Besides, we are taking you to the best cruise you've never heard of - really, it has been on the bucket list for us and for the Proctors ever since we were there last time. It's a country rich in history, culture and beauty. And we're planning some additional activities you've never done before on an international trip - guaranteed.