A Stay At Home Retreat
Have you tested positive for needing a vacation?
I think we are all suffering emotionally and physically during this latest round of lockdowns. Our vacations are being cancelled, more and more people are testing positive, the kids are home AGAIN, and on it goes....
Below are some ideas for taking a mental health break right in the comfort of your own home to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit, while you dream of your next holiday.
Plan your ME day. Think about what you hope to accomplish. It is rest and relaxation, rejuvenation, exercise, pampering? Some ideas may include:
-reading ( perhaps a travel guide to a destination you want to visit)
-taking a steam shower or a long hot bath
-watching a travel related movie or tv show
-taking a walk or hike
-doing an online cooking class (think Italian, Greek, Caribbean dishes you've been wanting to try)
-booking yourself in for a hot stone massage to help reduce stress and anxiety and relieve muscle tension.
Set the scene in a calming area of your home. Ocean scented or coconut scented candles, soft nature inspired music, surround yourself with plants (palm plants are my favorite), a throw, some pillows and a soft rug. Having a facial roller, a microwave heat bag, a facial oil or facial mist on hand is like having a little spa at home.
Finally, don't forget the healthy snacks and lots of water to hydrate and perhaps a Pina Colada or two just to keep with the travel theme...lol.
As the variants take hold, it now seems it isn't a matter of IF you will contract COVID, it is WHEN.
You have been planning for months and are determined to take this holiday. It is true, that the chances of contracting COVID while on vacation have been very low In fact, cruise lines and airlines will tell you it has been less than 1%. Pre-OMICRON. As we all know, in order to return to Canada from your vacation a PCR test is required a maximum of 72 hours before your flight. Getting the test is relatively easy in most places. Costs vary. Cuba does testing right on site at most resorts for $30USD per person. Higher end islands like St. Lucia or Antigua, prices can be as much as $300USD per person. You've been enjoying those Pina Coladas all week, taking measures entering common areas of hotel by wearing your mask, using hand sanitizer as much as possible and suddenly a few days before returning home, your test comes back POSITIVE. Let's walk thru what this can look like and hopefully avoid chaos, should it happen to you while out of Canada.
Firstly, ensure you have Out of Country Medical Insurance that includes COVID coverage. For example, I sell Manulife COVID Travel Plan insurance and am now insisting my clients pay the minimal cost for the additional coverage. This will ensure, should you test positive while in destination, your quarantine accommodations and hospital expenses (should there be any) are covered.
Second, I highly recommend you test prior to leaving Canada, even if you are going to a country that doesn't require pre-testing. If you are carrying it and are asymptomatic, wouldn't you rather know here before arriving in a foreign country?
Third, ensure you can actually afford this holiday and any additional expenses that may arise. If you are travelling to Cuba on a $599 sell off just because you only have $599 to your name, please don't travel right now. Yes, I said it. Going forward, when it comes to travel, you need to expect the unexpected. In some locations, you may need to have money on your credit card to pay upfront for your quarantine nights and get reimbursed by insurance upon return. Some resorts are offering discounted quarantine stays but not all and it changes by the minute. Do you have money set aside for emergencies?
Fourth, if you are travelling on a package with a supplier like Air Canada Vacations, Transat or Sunwing, you should consider attending the welcome briefing a mandatory part of your trip. This is where they are not only going to review the optional excursions but they are going to discuss testing locations and costs, as well as what happens should you test positive.
And finally, don't panic. Your professional travel advisor will be there for you. They will walk you thru required entry forms to travel to another country, update you on all the latest info in regards to travel, and guide you in the right direction should you, God forbid, test positive while in destination. They are worth every cent.
Don't have a professional? Click on my website under process and fees, to see how we can work together.
"Why should I pay you to research and book my trip when I can do it myself for free?"
"Don't you make commission?"
I was recently asked these questions by a potential new client during our initial zoom consultation and I have to admit, my heart jumped a bit. Since leaving an agency and starting my own business in May, this is actually the first time a client has came right out and asked me this question. With her permission, I am sharing my response (in point form):
1. Much like other professionals in your life (think personal trainer, lawyer, financial planner, mechanic etc. ), I charge a fee for my services. With 30 years in the business I provide my time, knowledge, expertise, and commitment to each and every client. Working with a select number of clients a year, allows me to work with more intention. This commitment to high-level customer experience is what keeps clients coming back. You will find I am extremely flexible, approachable and accessible and I believe in collaboration with my clients. I am working with you for YOU!
2. Travel is much more complex than it was pre-COVID. You need a professional who is dedicated to ensuring every detail of your trip is looked after. I walk you thru each and every aspect (from health authorization forms, to vaccination requirements), alert you to possible obstacles, interact with you as needed during your trip and follow up upon your return.
3. On average I spend 10-20 hours in time per file from initial consultation until the client returns. Yes, it is true, our suppliers do pay us a small commission for recommending their product but not until travel is complete. Sometimes this can be a year or more later. They DON'T pay us for our time. Do you have 10 to 20 hours of free time to spend researching, booking and deal with any issues should they arise?
4. Providing each and every client with a peace of mind knowing they have an advisor, advocate and professional on their side, is what sets me apart.
During our initial consultation we discussed her and her spouses likes/dislikes, previous trips, current travel requirements, special needs and how they had previously booked trips. Her current request involved a cruise, land stay with 2-3 locations, rail passes, apartment style accommodations, and local excursions. Her budget was modest (by her own admission) but do-able and she had a little bit of wiggle room. At the end of our conversation, I advised her of my fee for this type of trip and the amount of work involved.. She felt it was high. She wanted to think about it. Absolutely, is always my response. Our working relationship has to be built on trust and communication.
A few days later she called me back and asked me to send over my client agreement and she provided her credit card for my professional fee. I thanked her and asked what made her decide to proceed. She told me in addition to being highly recommended, she had tried piecing her idea together online but got frustrated. She contacted her local agency, keeping our conversation top of mind. She felt the agent wasn't listening to her or asking the right questions and was giving her suggestions way outside her budget. She received 2 options for the cruise portion with no explanation of the choices. In fairness, during their initial conversation, the agent mentioned she was busy, the phone was ringing in the background and she disclosed she was working alone. Everyone is short staffed.
The clients latest comment to me was this:
"All travel professionals should be doing what you are doing- working with less clients , charging what they are worth to be able to provide a more personalized experience to their customers is a game-changer."