Travel is back … but is your passport?

Travel is back! We’re excited to see countries opening and to see protocols for fully vaccinated travelers becoming easier. But, now that global exploration is back on the table, it’s time to make sure the basics are covered.

Check Your Travel Documents

If you’re planning on traveling outside of the United States (including travel to the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico), you must have a passport book that expires at least 6 months after your date of return.

For even the most seasoned of travelers, the last 15 months have meant no international travel at all. For many, those passport expiration dates could have gone by unnoticed and now, passport processing times are much longer than normal.

According to a recent New York Times article, “Routine passport service by mail, according to the State Department, can now take up to 18 weeks, compared to six to eight weeks before the pandemic.” And, the article goes on to say, “expedited service, which costs an additional $60 and took anywhere from a few days to three weeks before Covid-19, can now take up to 12 weeks.”

passport

Go. Now. Check your passport. Do you have at least 18 months left before it expires? If you don’t and if you have plans to travel in the next 12 months, begin your renewal process now.

And, if your passport is not valid through February 2022, that last minute, pre-school term, Mexican beach getaway- isn’t happening. Instead, contact your KaliKosmos Travel advisor and let us help you discover some great domestic travel options.

Buy Travel Insurance

Some places require travel insurance but it is still, mainly, up to travelers if they want to protect their investment with the purchase of travel insurance. We love insurance not only because it protects our clients when they have to cancel due to illness, job loss, or death; but we also love it because it helps with the unexpected costs associated with airline issues.

According to Bryan Del Monte, president of the Aviation Agency, “bad weather, a labor shortage and capacity problems” were to blame for the most recent disruptions of flights over the past month.

And, when events like weather cause delays, which snowball into timed-out crew and cancelled flights, and end with a passenger pile up that can take several days to iron out- passengers are often left with the cost of hotel stays and meals.

Flight Delayed

But when you have travel insurance, and you have a written statement from the airline about the issue that occurred, you can file for reimbursement of those unexpected costs.

Insurance pricing is based on several factors and some coverage has limitations based on the date of when you made your first payment towards your travel services. Contact your KaliKosmos Travel advisor for more details.

Arrive Early

There have been moments in the last 15 months when traffic at the airport was basically you and the one other person the next to you. Checking in at the airline desk was quick. TSA lines were short. You could show up without a lot of worry.

This is not then.

Airlines furloughed many check-in agents over the last 15 months and they haven’t all returned to work. There are also fewer TSA workers and more travelers. In some places three hours is now tight for making it through to the gate on time.

Some tips for helping the airport experience run smoother:

  • Plan to arrive at least three hours before your flight
  • Pack in a carry on (if possible) to avoid having to check bags
  • When you do have to check bags, use the skycap service (where available) to reduce the baggage check wait times
  • Use the MyTSA app to find average TSA line wait times
  • Enroll in TSA-Pre to cut down on time in line
MyTSA app
photo source: TSA App

Now is the time to check the basics and now is the time to plan for that next travel experience.

When you’re ready to turn your travel dreams into amazing travel stories, Contact KaliKosmos Travel and let us work for you.

Bella Ciao!

I love Italy.

I spent a semester living in a 16th century villa during my sophomore year in college and loved every minute of my time there.

I traveled back to Italy 10 years later to explore the area with my mother and grandmother. My second serving of Italy did not disappoint.

I can’t wait for Italy to fully open again and Dino’s recent article in a Travel Leader’s Insider Guide whet my appetite even more! In his write up, Dino highlights many off-the-beaten-path options, like Castel Gandolfo, the Dolomites, and Lago D’Orta.

Castel Gandolfo, Dino writes, “is a quaint little village overlooking the gorgeous lake Albano.” While there, Dino recommends eating at ristorante Pagnanelli and exploring their “labyrinth-like wine cellar.”

The Dolomites, not far from Venice, offers a mountain retreat “not just for skiers;” says Dino. While there “you can hike, walk, climb or just relax at one of the new luxury spa resorts.” Be sure to save time for the towns of Madonna di Campiglio & San Casciano.

Dino labels Lago D’Orta “the most quaint northern Lake in all of Italy” with many up-and-coming boutique restaurants and hotels.

Do you have an off-the-beaten-path area in Italy you’re looking forward to exploring? Contact KaliKosmos Travel and let us work for you.

There’s still ways to see Alaska

Another step towards large-ship cruising in Alaska in 2021 was made yesterday, when the House passed the The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act. This means cruising on a larger vessel in Alaska could still be possible this summer, pending a signature by President Biden.

But, did you know, large-ship cruising isn’t the only way to see Alaska?

Alaska offers rail journeys, overland guided tours, city stays, and small ship/expedition cruising. And, these options are open without a presidential signature.

Travel Leaders advisor, Diane M., recently cruised the coast of Alaska with UnCruise Adventures, an award-winning small boat cruise line built for adventure.

In her Travel Leaders blogpost, Diane wrote, “UnCruise is a small-ship expedition cruise line that’s all about adventure and appreciating the local cultures. And since there was only 86 total guests onboard, we never felt crowded.”

One of the parts Diane appreciated most is how UnCruise’s size offered the ability to pivot each day’s activities. “Each day’s activities took advantage of the current conditions and opportunities,” Diane said. “We could be kayaking one morning and taking the inflatable skiffs out to a seal colony the next. Or another day may offer a leisurely afternoon shore walk or a rigorous mountain hike. … Since it was a small ship, the captain stopped the boat whenever we saw whales or bears. It was amazing to be out in the wilderness and see Alaska without the crowds,” she continued.

Are you ready to experience Alaska by small ship, rail, or overland travel? Would you like to be contacted when large-ship cruising returns to the Alaskan coast? Contact KaliKosmos Travel and let us work for you!

On The Road With Julie Grauf

“Who says you only ski in Colorado?” 

I’ve been to Colorado many times growing up, but always for skiing. This year we took our family and another to explore the small little tourist town of Manitou Springs. It’s actually closer to Pikes Peak than Colorado Springs and usually gets a little more snow because of it.

We beat the snowstorm that dropped two feet of snow in our area! We definitely enjoyed sitting in front of a warm fireplace at the house we rented, drinking hot chocolate and playing games. 

Julie and her husband, Chris, on a trail in Colorado.

The first days were spent sledding and exploring our area and hiking Red Rock Canyon open space. Glad we brought a good pair of boots! There is something magical about a walk through the quiet falling snow and viewing the mountains all around you. We even had visiting deer that would walk through the neighborhood eating berries off the trees. 

We drove an hour and a half to the Royal Gorge and walked through all the States represented on the bridge. 

Manitou Springs is known for its mineral springs that are still there today- be sure to stop and taste the healing waters. 

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods was a favorite site for all our party. There are paved trails with beautiful views and large red rocks shooting up to the sky. Kids even built a snowman village to leave for the other patrons. 

Hiking is our favorite past time and we took the trails up Pikes Peak walking over frozen waterfalls. During the summer you can drive to the top or take the Cog Railway (which will be up and running starting May 2021.)

Kids standing in front of Manitou ducks.

We spent an afternoon strolling the local shops in Manitou- everything is on the main street and plenty of places to “duck in” to get warm.

We might have been the only people to stop and get frozen custard on a 40 degree day but the worker at the Colorado Custard Company entertained us with jokes for tips!

Loved our trip to the Colorado mountains! 

at Pikes Peak

Are you ready to plan your time on the road? Contact KaliKosmos Travel and experience the difference of Professionally Planned Travel.

The current state of traveling

I won’t say “unprecedented.” I won’t say “uncertain times.” I won’t even say “out of an abundance of caution.” We’ve all heard, we know, and we thought we’d be farther past it by now.

But, there is sunlight breaking on the horizon. The Caribbean and Mexico are open and accepting travelers, smaller cruise lines are gearing up for their return to the water, and domestic locations are more open as well. Even yesterday Alaska took away the “testing on arrival” requirement.

Since the start of 2021 more travel requests have been coming to our inboxes. People are not only ready to plan, they are ready to go. And when they go, they want to know a professional is here for them. That’s why they turn to KaliKosmos Travel advisors. We’re here to work for them and for you- turning travel dreams into amazing travel stories. … Yes, even in the midst of COVID protocols.

As travel plans begin to come together and more people hit the road and take to the skies, we’d like to remind all travelers of ways they can be safe and ready before and during their travel experience.

BEFORE YOU DEPART

  • Discuss travel insurance policies with your travel advisor, discovering what is and is not covered.
  • Understand the entry, exit, and re-entry requirements you will need to meet and be prepared.
  • Get tested for COVID-19 — even though some places do not have this requirement, knowing your COVID status before traveling keeps you from unintentionally spreading the virus.
  • Pack extra safety measures, such as additional masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. To help, the TSA has increased the amount of hand sanitizer passengers can bring on board to 12oz per person.
  • Bring any medicines you may need on your vacation and pack at least 15 to 30 days’ worth of extra medicine, just in case.

WHILE TRAVELING

  • At the airport, use touchless check-in options, ditch the bins at TSA checkpoints and maintain social distance while boarding. If you arrive at the airport early, wait at an empty gate until boarding is called.
  • On your flight, wear your face mask, wipe down the surfaces you will be touching, sit next to the window to decrease people walking near you and open the air vent to increase circulation.
  • If you check bags, stand back at baggage claim until most other passengers have left.
  • When renting a car, use advance check-in online or via the rental company’s smartphone app to speed the process and reduce, or eliminate, the need for person-to-person touchpoints.
  • At the hotel, use options for online check-in, mobile room key and contactless payment, and ask for less frequent room cleanings to decrease other people in your room.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially when arriving at new locations.
  • During any activities — such as eating at restaurants or visiting attractions, wear your mask as much as possible and keep a distance from others not in your party.

When you’re ready to travel again, KaliKosmos Travel advisors will be here to put our professional planning skills to work for you. Contact us for details.

New year, new services

packing list

As avid travelers, we know that packing is usually the least exciting part of the travel experience. Writing down a list (and then re-writing it because we can’t remember where we put the envelope we were using as paper to write the first one), finding out the local weather, deciding what we need to take and what we need to leave at home, remembering to buy a new adapter because we left one at the resort on our last vacation, finding the right place to buy a great new outfit for a special night out –  we know, packing can be rough. 

So, we started asking ourselves-

Why should the ease of Professionally Planned Travel end when the packing starts?

We don’t think it should.

Introducing customized packing guides from KaliKosmos Travel

Our packing guides make suggestions based on your destination, dates of travel, gender, vacation activities, and the local weather forecast.

With access to products from brands like Anatomie, Kari Traa, Cotopaxi, Patagonia, Tumi, and Tory Burch, our guides also offer the ability to shop while you plan. From hand sanitizers to airplane seat covers, from lounge wear to the perfect dress for a night on the town, these products will have you covered. 

And, our customized packing guides include a check list so you know what you need to buy and what you need to pack. You can even use it when you’re packing to return home (to cut down on those lost adapters!). 

Beginning this year, every Professionally Planned Vacation, Customized Itinerary, and Rental Experience will include a customized packing guide!

For clients who utilize our Professionally Planned Flight Experiences or our Single Reservation Solutions, you can create your own KaliKosmos packing guide here.

And the exciting new services don’t stop there!

Travel in 2020 didn’t happen like most of us thought it would and who’s to say how 2021 will pan out (fingers crossed!). Even if travel isn’t on your calendar just yet, we think you should still have access to the amazing products offered within our packing guides.  The next time you’re in the market for anything from toiletries to clothing or from luggage to ski boots

Our Travel Store is your place to access it all.

items available in the Travel Store

And, because KaliKosmos Travel wants all people to enjoy this beautiful world, we’re actively working to add brands like Safe Place Bedding that supply special needs products to our Travel Store. We’re excited to provide access to great products that can assist people with special needs, not only for travel but also for every day life.

Special Needs items from the Travel Store.

At KaliKosmos Travel we believe this is a beautiful world and our commitment is to help you discover it your own unique way.  With our new packing guides and access to our Travel Store, we’re excited to have ways to help you discover it even better.

Welcome to 2020

2020 on beach

Welcome to the start of a new year.  The ball has dropped, the page has turned, a new year lies before us, a year full of potential.  A year that is waiting and ready for each of us to make our mark upon it.  The beginning of a new year is a time of reflection, dedication, and anticipation.

At KaliKosmos Travel, we take this moment and reflect on where we’ve been. We reflect on our beginnings, taking a moment to share with you the story of how KaliKosmos Travel came to be. We also reflect on the past 11 years of service we have provided to you; to plan amazing adventures for you, to assist you when the unexpected occurred, and to hear about all of the memories you made when you returned from your trip.  It has been an honor to serve you in this way.  At the beginning of this new year, we also take a moment and reflect on the changes we made in 2019, not only on Julie’s move to leisure-only reservations, but also her new focus and specialization: special needs travel.  And, we reflect on the educational opportunities we had this past year, such as Katie’s completion of the American Express Pay with Points program and her new participation in the Travel Collection by the Travel Leaders Group. Our past has given us an excellent foundation for the year to come, and for that, we are thankful.

suitcase with camera

With the start of the new year, KaliKosmos Travel, like many others around the world, is making resolutions of dedications for the coming year.  We resolve to remain dedicated to our commitment to our clients.  We remain dedicated to delivering exceptional customer service to all clients, past, present, and future.  And we remain dedicated to showing future clients why they should not only use a travel advisor but, more importantly, why they should choose a KaliKosmos Travel advisor to plan and reserve their next trip.

We know the reason we have continued to have growth year after year is because we have carried through these resolutions of dedication year in and year out.  We know our growth in 2020 will continue because we know these resolutions will continue.

girl on mountain

As 2020 begins, we are full of anticipation for the year to come.  We are excited to see more of you and your travels when you post your “Where in the World?” video on our KaliKosmos Travel Facebook page.  We are also excited to roll out improved pre-travel email communications for clients.  In 2020 we are taking steps toward helping you be better prepared for your upcoming adventures.  And we are excited to share more about ourselves and the world of travel through the new KaliKosmos Travel blog. Like our Facebook page and visit our blog to keep up to date on these wonderful enhancements.  It is going to be a fantastic year and we can’t wait to see it all unfold.

where in the world flyer

Welcome to 2020. We hope the coming year brings with it moments of awe, moments of joy, and moments that will last a lifetime.  We hope this year will provide you with times of reflection, dedication, and anticipation.  We hope the next 12 months will be everything you dream it to be and more.