3.30.2021

pro tip | DON'T laminate your vaccination card

 

use a name badge holder to keep your vaccination card safe

I just heard this pro tip today and wanted to pass it along. I had been planning to get my Vaccination Card laminated ... but I just got the news that some airlines and cruise companies won't accept vaccine cards that have been laminated.

Another reason not to laminate ... if and when we get booster shots, there's no way to update a laminated card.

Tips to protect your vaccination card — 

  • keep it in a protective plastic sleeve, the kind you use when you attend a large convention or trade show
  • take a photo of each side of your card and save them on your cell phone

Your ticket to go! A completed vaccination cards is an extremely valuable document. It means you're largely protected from the very nasty Covid-19 virus ... and in time, it will be your ticket to travel, reopening the world to you.

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copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.

3.18.2021

Aman New York | suite reveal

 

Aman New York suites revealed


Aman New York, located at the corner of 5th Avenue and W. 57th Street in the Crown Building (originally built in 1921, one hundred years ago). With an enviable location in midtown Manhattan, the hotel is just two blocks from Central Park and Fifth Avenue shopping. While the exact opening date is yet unknown, I've just gotten a first glimpse of the hotel's room product.

Suites have generous dimensions, a large living room adjoining a master bedroom. Room rates are yet to be announced ... but Aman New York promises to be a bucket list destination for Amanjunkies around the world.

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copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.

2.23.2021

travel advisors | saving time, money, and energy

Place de la Concorde, Paris (c) 2021 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved


It wasn't the primary purpose of our meeting. I was in my banker's office taking care of business with our checking account. As soon as our business was concluded, my banker wanted to talk about travel. He spoke of the Viking river cruises he had enjoyed with his wife and how much he loved traveling to Europe. He shared his plans to travel with his parents this summer to London. His parents being first-time visitors to Europe, he feels they will feel more comfortable visiting where English is spoken.

But it would be a shame, he thought, to go all the way to London without setting foot in Paris. He talked about his plans for their final day, a day trip to Paris. They'd take the Eurostar to Paris in the morning, spend several hours seeing some of the major sights in the City of Light, then take the train back to London in the evening.

My mind immediately saw the problem with this scheme. It's doable to take the Eurostar round-trip in single day, but it's not ideal. You'll be spending four-and-one-half total hours on trains. It will take added time to get transfers to train stations ... and even more time to get processed through French passport control going ... and UK passport control on the return. This day trip will require probably 7 total hours of traveling time. It will turn out to be quite an exhausting day.

So I shared Plan B. Don't buy round-trip flights to London. Book an open-jaw itinerary (fly outbound to London, return from Paris). The cost is virtually the same. Spend your entire last day in Paris.

Begin the day taking an early morning train to Paris. Arriving at perhaps 10 a.m., you have time to spend an entire day in Paris. Invest in a great local guide who can work with you in advance to plan an itinerary that will let you experience Paris the way you want. Then celebrate your trip with a final dinner, perhaps in a typical French bistro such as Chez Janou. Spend the evening in a cute Left Bank hotel such as Relais Christine, then leave for the Paris airport the next morning.

I wasn't trying to sell travel services to my banker, but with my mention of open-jaw tickets, he saw possibilities he hadn't considered. We live in a plan-it-yourself, google-can-be-my-travel-agent world, but think about the value of working with an experienced travel advisor, someone who will sweat the logistics, create an itinerary you can sit back and enjoy, and help you make the most of your precious time, money, and energy.

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copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.





2.19.2021

avoid this $388 mistake


Ritz-Carlton Cancun has been in the news in the last couple of days due to the stay of a prominent family from Texas. The family has frequently enjoyed this resort and chose this week to escape the freezing temperatures back home and enjoy the warm, sandy beaches of Cancun. I honestly have to sympathize with the Dad who had to cut short his time in the sun due to work obligations back home ... but what a great way for the rest of the family to enjoy four days together being pampered Ritz-Carlton style.

The mom texted friends, inviting them to come along and noting the $309 room rate, an incredible value for a stay at a luxury resort. But she could have told her friends about an even more phenomenal value, had she only known about it!

Here's a much better value at Ritz-Carlton Cancun:
  • four nights in an Ocean View guest room with balcony — $300 per night + tax
  • complimentary daily buffet breakfast for two at El Cafe Mexicano — a $72 daily value
  • $100 resort credit (one time) to spend on food and beverage or spa services
  • room upgrade at time of arrival if available
  • welcome amenity
  • early check-in and late check-out if available
  • complimentary WiFi

$388 extra value, exclusively yours by booking through a STARS travel advisor


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copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.


2.03.2021

why you should plan that trip to Europe NOW!


itinerary of Tauck's river cruise The Rhine and Moselle


Now is the time to plan your next trip to Europe. Though most of Europe is currently closed to travelers from the USA, just as the US is currently closed to travelers from the EU, that's going to change. Here's why you should make your plans now.

COVID vaccines. I received my first Pfizer shot earlier this week, with an appointment set for my second shot on February 19. Within several months, vaccines should be available to everyone who wants them in the US, the EU, and the UK. Inexpensive, at-home COVID tests are also promised. Once a critical mass of people have been vaccinated, the travel floodgates should open up wide.

Hotel availability. With hotels are showing plenty of availability at reasonable room rates, you should take advantage. Once travel opens up, those rooms will quickly sell ... and as inventory goes down, prices will rise. If you can get a cancellable reservation with just a credit card guarantee, grab it! (You can even do it yourself on the Virtuoso booking engine for reservations with Virtuoso amenities — free breakfasts and $100 hotel credits).

High demand for cruises and tours. I just rebooked the Tauck river cruise I had originally planned to take last April, The Rhine and Moselle. Eight of the nine cruises in 2021 were already sold out, but I was able to secure a cabin on the one available sailing. I'm so excited to be flying to Amsterdam in October and experiencing Tauck's all-inclusive luxury river cruise to Basel.

Award flights. Before COVID struck, it was practically impossible to get "Saver Awards," but it can be done if you act now. I speak from experience. As soon as I booked my Tauck river cruise, I researched flights using miles in United Business Class from AVL-AMS and ZRH-AVL. I just had to make one small change to find Saver Award availability (departing for Amsterdam one day earlier). There were two available Saver Award seats for the flights I wanted, so I grabbed them!

I recommend planning travel to Europe this fall. Now's the time to contact your travel advisor while she or he has lots of time to work with you.

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copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.







1.28.2021

an amazing video of a safari encounter


No words are necessary, this video tells the story so beautifully in just three minutes. Alice Mantaine, a guide at Angama, came upon a herd of elephants during an afternoon game drive with guests. Watch to see what happens next.

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copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.

1.07.2021

Covid-19 tests for travel — easy and painless

Many vacation destinations require visitors to submit a negative Covid-19 test before traveling to their destination. Hawaii requires a negative test taken within three days of arrival. Turks & Caicos (where Claire and I will be traveling this Sunday) requires a negative test taken within five days of arrival.

How can you get this done and what's the process like? Here's our own experience.

1. Find a test site. CVS Pharmacy is a nationwide chain that provides testing at many of its locations. CVS offers a website that will locate testing locations convenient to your zip code.

2. Register in advance to schedule an appointment. As the reason for your test is travel (rather than symptoms you're experiencing), you'll have click the link on the next page informing you of the $139 testing fee. The page you need to get to looks like this...



3. Make an appointment. You can select available times over a three day range, the only choices being same day, next day, and the second day. I logged in first thing on Sunday morning to schedule a Tuesday morning test. 

Print out your confirmation, as you'll be asked for the registration number when you show up for your test.

4. Bring required documents with you for your test. We were told to bring our photo IDs, insurance cards, and the registrations. You'll get a text message the morning of your test with the link to a short video showing what to expect. This is helpful, so be sure to watch the video.



5. Go to the test site in time for your appointment. In our case, the site provided drive-through testing. We drove up to the pharmacy's drive-through window. We were asked for our confirmation numbers, dates of birth, etc., and we were each given a plastic pouch that included the nasal swab and the vial in which to insert the swab after the test was completed.

6. We self-administered our tests. The process consisted of inserting the swab one inch into each nostril and rotating it for fifteen seconds. When accomplished, we inserted the swab into the vial, sealed the cap, and placed it in the zip-lock plastic bag. We then dropped the bag containing paperwork and our completed tests into the LabCorp drop box right next to the drive-through window.

7. I received a text message two days later informing me that my test results were available. Clicking the link took me to a webpage where I could download the test results. Both of us had (thankfully) negative results.

8. With negative tests in hand, I applied for Travel Authorizations for Turks and Caicos. Each traveler will have to complete the online form individually; the form provides fields to upload your (a) Covid test result and (b) proof of travel insurance providing medical coverage and evacuation. Turks and Caicos approves (and I recommend) Travelex Travel Select.

9. Within minutes, our Travel Authorization forms arrived by email. Print out the form for each passenger, for these will be required to board your flight and enter the country. It's recommended also to bring a hard copy of your test results and certificate of travel insurance.

10. Travel and enjoy the world!


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copyright (c) 2021 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.