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.



12.21.2020

a beautiful resort outside Santa Fe

sunset at Four Seasons Santa Fe (c) 2020 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved


We had planned to spend two evenings at Four Seasons Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I'm resuming Travel Horizons after a hiatus of about three weeks. As most of my readers will know, we have just moved cross country from Berkeley, CA to Asheville, NC. As it would take a couple of weeks for our furniture to rejoin us, we took advantage of the situation with a cross-country road trip. After delightful stays at the Beverly Hills Hotel and Auberge de Sedona, we headed north through Arizona towards I-40, then drove east towards New Mexico.

We were upgraded to an Encantado Suite, the same size as the resort's 1100 square foot Sunset Suites but located at the very top of the resort with the panoramic view pictured above. Our suite boasted a King bedroom, separate living room with pull-out queen sofabed, and a large master bathroom with dual vanities, soaking tub, and step-in shower. There was also a powder room off the living area.

Santa Fe has beautiful hiking trails. Claire and I enjoyed walking the trails pictured below. Part of the Dale Ball trail system, it's right on the outskirts of Santa Fe at the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The views were scenic with patches of snow on the ground, and the air was cool and crisp. I regretted not bringing along my good camera, but this iPhoto snapshot will give a sense of the winter landscape.


Our hosts at Four Seasons were looking out for us, and the GM personally informed us about the winter weather system forecasted to arrive early the next morning. We sadly left FS Rancho Encantado after only one night, getting out of the mountains before the next morning's anticipated snowstorm. This proved to be fortuitous advice, as the snow came earlier and accumulation was greater than anticipated. After spending a night in Tucumcari, NM, we headed out the next morning toward our next destination. Stay tuned!

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copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.

11.29.2020

hiking in Sedona

animal face in the rock (c) 2020 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Sedona is all about taking hikes in the national forest and viewing spectacular rock formations. Our hike this morning began at the Brins Mesa Trailhead parking lot, less than a 2 miles from downtown Sedona. Our route took us up the Brins Mesa Trail where we turned onto Soldiers Pass trail. This eventually linked with the Jordan and then the Cibola Pass trails, returning us to the parking lot where we began our journey. In all, it was a 5.2 mile loop, a bit more than we had bargained for! Click the link for a good description of the hike.

My recommendation: stick to the Brins Mesa Trail. It was the most scenic part of our hike. After ascending to the mesa (altitude 5100 feet) and enjoying the panoramic views, just turn around and go back (downhill) to the parking lot. If you take the hike during the morning hours, the eastern sun will illuminate the rock faces. Well worth doing ... you'll be well rewarded with enchanting views.

sunrise view from our Vista Cottage at L'Auberge de Sodona (c) 2020 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Where to stay in Sedona? We are spending our two nights at L'Auberge de Sedona where we were upgraded to a beautiful Vista Cottage. With 470 square feet of space, a jetted soaking tub, and both indoor and outdoor showers, choose this room for the red rock views. The photo above gives an idea of the view I enjoyed this morning as the morning sun illuminated a rock formation in the distance over the autumn leaves.


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copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.

11.27.2020

complimentary breakfasts at luxury hotels

Breakfast prices can sometimes seem frightening when staying at luxury hotels. Pictured above is a page from the room service menu at one of my very favorite hotels, the Beverly Hills Hotel. Many guests would want to order the American breakfast — for instance, two eggs with sausage, toast and a pastry, a fruit plate, a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, and a Cappuccino. The price is $55 plus $3.75 pp for room service delivery, and 20% service. With sales tax, that's $75 per person. $150 for breakfast for two? That's too much!

Here's how to enjoy the same breakfast for free! Don't use the hotel's website, but reserve your stay through a Virtuoso travel advisor. He or she will book the Virtuoso rate (typically the same as the best available "regular" rate on the hotel's website). These are typical Virtuoso amenities at nearly 1500 luxury hotels and resorts around the world:

  • daily complimentary breakfast for two
  • an additional $100 hotel credit (usually for food & beverage or Spa services)
  • one category room upgrade at check-in if available

Virtuoso amenities are available at nearly 1,500 luxury hotels and resorts around the world. And even better than Virtuoso amenities are the preferred partner amenities a well-connected travel advisor can score for you at luxury chains. For instance, at the Beverly Hills Hotel (whose room service menu is pictured), my Diamond Club amenities will get you a confirmed upgrade at booking (up to the Jr. Suite category), a full breakfast in any venue including gratuities, and your $100 credit can come off the room rate room rate, if you wish.

You can check out Virtuoso amenities and book many Virtuoso hotels on virtuoso.com. Your Virtuoso travel advisor will be informed of your booking and will follow up by VIP'ing your stay with their contacts.

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copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.

11.24.2020

the perfect gift for a world traveler...

 


... who has everything!


A Medjet membership is a gift few people would think of. Imagine a traveler who has to be hospitalized while on safari in Africa ... or who suffers a life-threatening illness halfway around the world in Asia or Europe. A Medjet membership provides them with air medical transport all the way back to their hospital of choice in their home country — it's included with the membership. Here's how Medjet describes the benefit:

Regardless of medical necessity, if a member is hospitalized 150 miles or more from home, Medjet will arrange medical transfer to the hospital of their choice within their home country with no pre-existing condition exclusions (under age 75), health questions, deductibles or claim forms. There are no monetary limits to the program's benefits and no restrictions on the amount or type of travel taken annually.

Put Medjet on your shopping list for Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday Sale — $50 off an Annual Individual Membership, $75 off an Annual Family Membership.

When can you take advantage? Only on Monday, 30NOV. The sale begins at 12:01 a.m. and extends until 11:59 p.m., Central Standard Time.

Limitations — The sale applies to NEW memberships only, is available online only, and excludes Diamond memberships (age 75-84).

To give Medjet as a gift, you'll need to know the full names and birthdays of the recipients, their home residence address, and the date you'd like the policy to take effect. Medjet can mail the Membership Cards to you so you can present them as gifts.

(P.S. — You can also take advantage of the sale for yourself and your family)

The Medjet website will ask, "How did you hear about Medjet?" Please write that you heard about it here, from David Ourisman of Brownell Travel.

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copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.


11.12.2020

24 hours in New Zealand | amazing time lapse video

This video needs no words. It poignantly makes the point I've often stated — New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places in the world, especially the Queenstown area of the South Island. Just sit back and enjoy!

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copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.

11.06.2020

Mauna Lani reopening tomorrow

Travel to Hawaii is back, and I'm happy to announce that the Mauna Lani will be reopening to guests tomorrow, Saturday, November 7th, after an extensive renovation of the entire property. I've seen photographs, and the new room product is light, bright, and wonderful. The Big Island is an incredible place to golf, explore varied landscapes ranging from volcanoes to rain forests, walk on a sandy beaches, or lounge by a resort pool with a cool drink in your hand.

Mauna Lani is offering an incredible promotion, the Virtuoso Mauna Lani Journey. With a minimum five night stay, the resort is offering guests a $1000 resort credit ($200 per night ... so 7 nights = $1400 credit, etc.). This is on top of the Virtuoso amenities which add these money-saving perks to your stay:

  • daily breakfast for two ($80 value)
  • $100 resort credit
  • one category upgrade if available

What about Covid pre-testing? Mauna Lani is collaborating with Vault Health to provide you with a safe, fast, and easy testing experience in the privacy of your own home.

Team Ourisman is here to help you plan your next trip to Hawaii. Click here to email us!


Click here to sign up for the Ourisman Travel Newsletter.


copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.