Episode 11: Travel Tips As COVID Restrictions Relax
Jun 1, 2021
As COVID restrictions are easing, the momentum around creating some great experiences through travel are at an all-time high! On today’s program, we are going to talk pros and cons of where and how to travel to make the most of that overdue vacation!
- Why use a travel agent for setting the right agenda for your trip.
- Should traveling outside the U.S. be on your bucket list right now?
- Where to travel locally if you are not ready to fly…and more!
Isaac Wright: Well, thank you for tuning in to Wright Money Tips. This episode is going to be a nice one because as we come out of COVID and really, I think all of us can agree, getting out, enjoying ourselves, hitting in through the summer, figuring out where possibly to travel to and all the rules and restrictions that are either being lifted or moved. We were really excited today to bring in our guest Kim Ennis. Kim, how are you?
Kim Ennis: Hi, I’m doing great. Thank you so much for having me.
Isaac Wright: So, Kim is a leisure consultant with Classic Travel and Tours. She specializes in Europe abroad and Caribbean trips. But the good thing I think about our conversation today is the fact that when we kind of look at COVID and the fact of all the things that we’ve heard about traveling outside of the U.S. and inside of the U.S. What my goal is today is to try to give people some direction and to be able to enjoy the fact that we’re coming out of this crazy situation we’ve been in for over a year.
So, I know you have probably run up onto every possible scenario, getting people in and around. The thing I want everybody also to know is this, even though I’m having you in here discussing travel, I’ve known you for a very long time. You actually helped my son in preschool as his teacher. It’s just crazy how, as y’all probably know, Richmond’s really not that large of a city. So, really happy just to be able to circle the wagons and see you. It’s been so long but in a whole different environment. You built a good career doing leisure consulting and travel.
And so with that being said, maybe a good place for us to start today is just a conversation around what you’re seeing out there in general. I know you’re busier than you said you’ve ever been and people are trying to figure out where they can go and a lot of places are booking up really fast. And so, maybe just talk about the, let’s call it the pros and cons just real quick about using somebody like yourself, who’s a travel and leisure consultant in today’s weird world where everybody’s trying to get out.
Kim Ennis: That’s a great point. Yes, I think COVID has definitely taught us all the pros and cons of how to navigate this new world we’re in. Contrary to what some people might think, using a travel agent actually does not cost any more where the same, in fact, we can also often save travelers money. And we’re able to do this through a wide network of suppliers. So, we price shop. We always meet if not beat what you’d see online.
Isaac Wright: So, if I were to look at a trip and I think a lot of you probably need to know this because my wife and I have done this and really have only started using travel agents as of very recently. But when I go on Google and can find a trip, my interpretation of that was like, if I use a travel agent, it’s going to be more expensive. And obviously we know now that that’s not the case in a lot of respects. You’ve saved us a lot of time too.
Kim Ennis: That’s exactly right. Definitely, it’s the same price, if not better. Like I said, also there’s some extra parts that might end up saving the traveler some money. The fine print you know, a lot of times, if you’re shopping directly, you’ll see they’ll drop down screen and it’ll have the various promotions.
Those are all the different rates and they have different cancellation clauses, whether or not it’s refundable payment due dates. And, in light of COVID, anyone that may have potentially gotten a bit hosed and were out thousands of dollars when they couldn’t get their money back last March, I think really understands the value of what we can bring to the table.
Isaac Wright: Let me ask this. So, you know, we’re hitting through June. We’re in a situation where a lot of restrictions and a lot of states are, you know, kind of moving in that direction. Granted they’re at different paces. Where are you finding, let’s call it, where are you finding the opportunities where people do want to travel? And we can talk a little bit about in or outside the U.S., I’ll let you run the show with that. But I really want people to feel on today’s program about what I would say are some spots that you have felt like maybe it had been either over or under exaggerated when it comes to just dealing with the landscape of the day. What would you recommend maybe as a couple of decent spots that you’ve been able to use? You know, again, inside or outside of the U.S.?
Kim Ennis: Oh, they’re definitely both domestic and international places that have been super popular in our post-pandemic life. The domestic remains the hot ticket.
Of course, and you know, everybody is in a good mood when they see a sunny beach. So popular destinations people are going to have been South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and of course, Hawaii.
Isaac Wright: I’ve heard that Hawaii is still kind of being a little bit restrictive and just been hard to get back and forth, but that’s good.
Kim Ennis: That one definitely, you know, there are some COVID requirements, some entry requirements. Obviously with it being an island, a series of islands, and they’re so reliant on tourism, they need to be extra careful. So, they’re just being mindful of that and it keeps their population safe, keeps the tourist safe. So, it’s kind of worth filling out that extra paperwork for a little slice of Hawaiian paradise, in my opinion.
There’s also other domestic destinations that have been very popular and that are super booked anywhere out west: the ranches, Jackson Hole, Colorado, the national parks. That’s what I would consider the standard vacations for the U.S. right now. But you know, why not to your point, just think outside the box a little bit.
Isaac Wright: Well, if I can interrupt real quick, you know, inside of the U.S. and I think almost every location you’ve said, and we’ve talked about this directly between myself, my family and looking at what we want to do later this year. Everything is booking up.
But, maybe let’s call it for what it is as we come out of COVID. Let’s call it this, the scare tactics. And maybe rightfully so, I shouldn’t say that it hasn’t been completely legit, but when you leave the U.S. and having to test and retest, and granted, by the time we air this show, it may change again. It seems like it changes every week.
But realistically, how difficult have you found it to travel outside the U.S., whether it’s to the Caribbean or Europe. Share a little insight if you will, about that and what do you see coming up here through the summer for people that maybe would like to get out of the U.S.
Kim Ennis: It’s not hard and there are a lot of benefits. And again, a little plug for the travel agent, that’s our job. Our job is to stay current with the entry requirements that is an ever-moving target. And we just heard more news about France and Italy, for example. But if you’re willing to venture out, you have a passport, you are vaccinated or okay to take a test and fill out the paperwork, it’s a great scene. Because unlike U.S. destinations, many of the international hotspots are still at reduced capacities. So, they’re not going to feel as crowded. And because those countries that are inherently outdoors, take the Caribbean for example, it’s a series of beautiful islands, you’re outside, so it’s easy to remain socially distant. They’re still at 30 to 50% capacity for their resorts, where in the U.S., we’re back up to almost 100% capacity again. So, you’re not going to feel as crowded. And then those countries are helping from a financial standpoint. Knowing that as a U.S. citizen, when we need to get back home, they have taken on the cost of the rapid testing for us to get back home. They’re working with the airlines to upload our documentation.
Isaac Wright: So, it’s because they’re trying to make money and figure out how their economy is going to get off the eggs. No pun intended.
Kim Ennis: It’s very true. And you know, not all the countries are ready. Others, some countries are farther ahead than others and their vaccinations and the way they handle it. And so you’ve just got to do your research or have me do it for you.
Isaac Wright: Well, it’s good. I think, you know, all said, and a lot of you watching the program or listening to the program today. Either way if you use a travel agent or maybe if you have, or you’ve considered using a travel agent, I would strongly recommend talking to Kim.
I think overall too, one of the things I want to ask you when it comes to travel and the aspects of being able to put all the trips and time, you know, just dealing with all the minutiae, how much time do you say you save people relative to the fact? Because I know when my wife, because I really don’t do this. But my wife will jump on, and again she has literally put herself into like a little cubby hole because it’s taken hours and hours and ultimately the trip doesn’t work. I can’t imagine the amount of time that you can save people right now.
Kim Ennis: I think you, nail on the head. You save dollars, but you know, time is money. And unless you’re super familiar with the destination, it takes hours and hours of research because there’s so many components.
You’ve got the logistics. Where is it? How are you going to get there at the transportation? Do you want a rental car? Do you need it? Can you do Uber, private driver? You know, depending on that. What are you going to eat? Where are you going to eat? What’s cool to see? How are you going to see it?
COVID, what are the rules?
Isaac Wright: Especially with that. I was going to say that it’s a whole other layer, but it’s an important layer that I think will be around for a bit.
Kim Ennis: Yeah. So yeah, we definitely, that say it’s. That goal is of course, to save the client all of that trouble, but then there’s other intangibles too.
We have developed, you know, we are part of a global consortium and so we have boots on the ground if you will all over. Thousands of developed relationships with thousands of hoteliers, tour guides, personal chefs, you name it. I mean, that’s kind of my favorite part is to develop those relationships.
Plan ahead. It’s time. I mean, we’ve all been sequestered for a year and a half now. And as the country reopens, states relax, and you’re ready to get out of your four walls, don’t be scared to dream. I think part of the fun right now, as we’ve had all this time to save and to dream and travel is coming back.
And I think people are going to be more passionate and enthusiastic than we’ve seen in a long time. So, if you want to see Italy, swim with the turtles in Galapagos. Do that Mekong, cruise in Vietnam, hike Machu Picchu. I mean dream big and we’ll make it happen.
Isaac Wright: Hey, listen, you sold me. I’m good. For somebody that may still be concerned about traveling via airplane, more importantly here, the share reaches a lot of people here locally. What are some, one or two thoughts you have around, let’s call it, a closer to home trip? Maybe, creating the right experience. I’d love to hear a little bit about that for sure.
Kim Ennis: Sure. To your point, not everybody’s ready to board a plane yet, and that’s absolutely fine. We’re in a great part of the country.
Maybe during COVID, you took up biking for example, and craft beer is a pretty big deal around Richmond. So, turn that into a trip. We could send you on a small or group, private mountain biking tour of the Blue Ridge Mountains and around Asheville, North Carolina. Stay in some really cool boutique lodges, drink some craft beer at night, work hard, play hard type of deal.
You could go over for the retired citizens. Recent retirees have really grown to love the American river cruises. I mean, you could do a barbecue, Memphis, Blues, and barbecue down the Mississippi River. That’s open air and small group, and you can drive. You don’t have to get on a plane to do that. Or go up to new England.
I mean, there’s just so much to see.
Isaac Wright: You’ve got all the experiences in your back pocket. This is something that, you know, I would sometimes not even think about. And well, that’s what you do best. So, well, Kim, listen, I think based on what we’ve covered today, whether the travel itinerary is inside or outside of the U.S. It sounds to me that, you know, yourself, a travel agency obviously can come to the table and bring together a plan. Make it exciting for somebody to be able to feel like, “Hey, they have something to look forward to for the second half of the year.” If you notice here on our show today, we’re going to be able to put down Kim’s information directly for you guys.
If you have any concerns, you can reach out. If you want to put together a travel plan.
When I say concerns, it really shouldn’t be a concern. It should be exciting for you to be able to do something. But we really just wanted to step back today and just have a conversation, something that outside of the realm of finance, but ultimately part of our job is for people to live their best lifestyle.
And, you know, again, we’ve been very hampered, not being able to really go after things that didn’t encapsulate enjoyment up until very recently. So, I couldn’t thank you enough for being on the program today. Hopefully we’ll have you back. It’d be interesting to see how this progresses over the next three or six months.
If you have any concerns or questions you can visit wrightmoneytips.com to request some time on our calendar. Or please subscribe when visiting wrightmoneytips.com to receive notifications on new episodes, our newsletter, and even upcoming events.
We’ll Kim, it’s a pleasure. Again, you will definitely be back in good graces here whenever you would like to come. And, for all of you out there today, we appreciate you tuning in to Wright Money Tips. Until next time have a good one.