Vacation on the brain? Your dream vacation could look different this year — but here’s how to plan one

Oh, what a year we’ve had.

In an industry hit had by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a local travel consultant immersed in the changes that have taken place within the industry, it has been my job to make sure clients understand the new ways of travel.

Gone are the days of simply picking out our dream vacation because we saw beautiful pictures of exotic places. Now, we need to know about regulations, vaccines and quarantines. Let’s not forget that changes continue to take place daily.

Where to begin

A quick trip to CDC.gov will help you make your dream vacation a reality — if possible. Getting information from random websites or your co-worker who knows everything about travel because they fly to Florida every other year is not the place to start. There is too much false information out there. Stick with the professionals.

Ask questions

Curiosity never really killed the cat, and the only dumb question is the one never asked. It’s important to ask:

• Do I have to wear a mask?

• Is the plane sanitized?

• Is the swim-up bar open?

• What are the in destination regulations for COVID-19?

• Can I go on excursions once I get there?

Asking questions is a crucial part of the planning process to be sure you will be safe and satisfied on your trip. To date, I have not found a destination that hasn’t included COVID-19-related questions on its website.

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Be realistic

Things are not going to be the same. We are dealing with unprecedented times. You might not be able to expect to experience the same vacation this year as you took prior to the pandemic.

Grape-stomping in a vineyard in Tuscany might have to wait. And there are going to be limitations as to what, where and when you can safely travel to certain places.

Be honest with yourself

If you’re nervous about going to the grocery store, you probably are not ready to travel. And that’s OK. Your time will come.

But why spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on an elaborate European vacation if you’re never going to leave your hotel room? Maybe going on a shorter trip within the United States would be a better place to start.

Consider a three-night stay in Las Vegas, with prices starting at $399 per person or a seven-night all-inclusive vacation to the Dominican Republic starting at $1,100 per person. Take a train versus air travel.

There are different options available. A conversation with a travel consultant can help you understand what’s available for your comfort level and budget.

Although travel might continue to look different, the industry will survive. We’ve proven that time and time again. Ships will sail, planes will fly, countries will reopen. Once we get past the hardships and adversity of COVID-19, people will once again take their dream vacations.

Lori Velte is the owner of Memories Tour & Travel in Platteville, Wis.

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