We were so excited when Ann Abel, a wonderful writer for Forbes Travel came to us to get our thoughts on where people should be heading for 2022 and beyond. She used a couple of Andrea's suggestions in the article, as well as an amazing photo from Narla and one of Andrea on a Puerto Rican beach that makes us jealous every time! We had pitched a few places to Ann so below is the article, but we've also included some of our coaches favorites for 2022 as well!

UAE: Has a high vaccination rate, low positive case #s, and great healthcare should it be needed. They also have a fairly straightforward Covid policy.  Most activities are also outside, and large venues - like the Atlantis Waterpark - are still only at 70% capacity which means not only “Covid safety” but also less lines! - Heidi Bloomer, Kaanect Travel Coach

Iceland: Before traveling to Iceland this fall, I thought it would be packed with tourists. I felt like everyone I know had been or was planning to go to Iceland, since they also are open to US citizens (with a relatively easy to navigate Covid policy). Boy was I wrong! In most places there was only a handful of people. We were never in a crowded situation except for later in the evening at a restaurant and on a food tour (all by choice). It was also just astonishingly beautiful. - Heidi Bloomer, Kaanect Travel Coach

Disney World, Florida: with Disney’s 50th anniversary celebration occurring - the magic will be extra special! - Heidi Bloomer, Kaanect Travel Coach

Wine Country - Willamette, Napa, Sonoma: most wineries and tasting rooms are open but have a reservation only policy, or still limit the # of guests in the space. This not only creates peace of mind, but also provides a very individualized tasting experience for those wanting to stay in the US! - Heidi Bloomer, Kaanect Travel Coach

Thailand and Cambodia: While Thailand officially opened November 2021, we really see early 2022 as the optimum time to visit! By then they will be truly opened with services available, but the crowds won't have come back en-mass. Cambodia is opening this month and the idea of seeing Angkor Wat without the crowds is amazing. I will say, we also want to get travelers back to Southeast Asia to help the drivers, guides and communities on the ground. Both these countries are heavily reliant on tourism and there are very few support systems so many are struggling with the lack of income in the last two years. We can't wait to get travelers back, both to enjoy these countries without the crowds, but also to be a positive part of their regrowth and recovery! - Andrea Ross, Kaanect Travel Coach

Puerto Rico Islands: While the main island of Puerto Rico is lovely (and a quick and cheap flight from Atlanta) if you want a more undeveloped destination the island of Vieques, off the Eastern shore of Puerto Rico is the perfect escape. Accessible by small plane or ferry it's as remote as easy-to-get-to can be! Horseback riding along the beach, diving on gorgeous coral reefs, kayaking through the world's largest bioluminescent bay...you get the remote feeling of a tropical paradise with the ease of domestic travel. I visited here with the kids this October and we just loved this sweet little island! - Andrea Ross, Kaanect Travel Coach

Belize: My first international trip post covid was to Belize and it did not disappoint. They have had strict covid mandates so vaccination numbers are high and hotels, drivers and guides are all diligent in their safety measures as mandated by the government. We spent time in the interior jumping off waterfalls and hiking through gorgeous scenery to Mayan ruins and then headed to the coast for some of the best diving in the world. Prices are reduced and tourist numbers are still low and it's a great entree back into travel with easy flights from the US, including new flights with Alaska Airlines opening up this fall. - Andrea Ross, Kaanet Travel Coach

Nicaragua: Old world Costa Rica. Untouched beauty, inexpensive and amazing places to explore jungle, beach and colonial city. A negative PCR test to enter, no masks were needed when around town, resorts etc. - Michelle Schomp, Kaanect Travel Coach

Yucatán Mexico: Easy to rent a car and explore various towns, whether it’s upscale Tulum, laid back Bacalar, cultural Valladolid, incredible ruins, cenotes and of course, delicious food.  No entry requirements and easy testing available when it's time to come home. - Michelle Schomp, Kaanect Travel Coach

Masa Mara, Kenya:  In four days we only saw one other vehicle! This is unheard of this time of year. Travelers have an amazing opportunity to get out there and see the animals and environment without the tourist crowds. Safari camps are embracing covid protocol and the open air atmosphere of most camps lends itself well to safety standards. This is an incredible time to visit this area, support the return of tourism and have a unique experience! - April Cole, Kaanect Travel Coach

As a note for all international travel, “Covid travel” takes diligent & frequent research + documentation - sometimes upwards of a couple of hours of prep time if having to do tests, fill out numerous forms, download apps, for many people in a family. You also always have to check the layover / transit countries - as they can frequently have different rules than the departure or arrival countries.

As a note for domestic travel, due to car rental shortages, as well as supply chain shortages, you may need to plan ahead when renting cars and booking restaurants, more so than pre-pandemic. In Hawaii, Hawaii this March - we really felt this.

By: Southeast Asia Journeys

We have all been looking forward to being able to travel back to our favorite countries in Southeast Asia and as the region slowly opens up to tourism, we know everyone is wondering, how safe is it to travel? Is the Covid situation under control? What are the vaccination rates like?

No one wants to put a country's population at risk, and there are many things to consider, so we hope the numbers below can bring some clarity and help in your travel planning.

CAMBODIA
Cambodia is currently reporting very low infection numbers, which is attributed to the country’s successful vaccination campaign. The vaccination campaign has received praise around the world and not only does Cambodia have a higher vaccination rate than its neighbors Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, but it is now one of the most vaccinated countries in the world.

Covid Case Numbers
Confirmed new cases as of November 6, 2021: 73
3 infections per 100K people reported in the last 7 days
9% of peak

Vaccination rates
Please note that the Cambodian government does not have an accurate census of the population which throws off their vaccination percentages (which is why the reported numbers are sometimes greater than 100%).
Adults 18+: 100%
Children 12-18: 98%
Children 6-11: 102%
Children 5 and under: 51%

THAILAND
Covid infections are decreasing in Thailand and are at their lowest since Thailand entered their 3rd wave of Covid in April 2021. The government is aiming to have 70% of the population fully vaccinated by the end of November.

Covid Case Numbers

Confirmed new cases as of November 6: 8,467
81 infections per 100K people reported the last 7 days
37% of peak

Vaccination rates
Thailand started the vaccination of children ages 12-17 in October and plans to vaccinate 3 to 11 year olds at the start of 2022.
Adults 18+: 46%

LAOS
Laos is currently experiencing its worst Covid wave with new infections reaching new highs every day. The vaccinations are going slowly and the country is dependent on donations from COVAX. At the current vaccination rate, the government’s goal is to have 50% of the population fully vaccinated by the end of the year.

Covid Case Numbers
Confirmed new cases as of November 6: 960
89 infections per 100K people reported the last 7 days

Vaccination rates
The Lao government are currently only vaccinating adults and no decision has been made on vaccinations of children.
Adults 18+: 39%

VIETNAM
The "new normal" began in October 2021 and Vietnam is feeling its way into post-pandemic life. Daily cases are increasing mainly outside the main cities as the movement of people has increased, but new infections are less severe amongst those vaccinated. As more people are vaccinated daily the trend should show numbers begin to decline again within the next couple of weeks.

Covid Case Numbers
Confirmed new cases as of November 6: 7,491
41 infections per 100K people reported the last 7 days
47% of peak

Vaccination rates
Vietnam is rapidly picking up the pace of administering vaccinations to its population now that there is an increase in vaccine deliveries arriving and being made available. Until September the focus was on vaccinating the 18+ adult population. From October there is now a proactive push on vaccinating 12 to 17 year olds. The decision around ages up to 11 years old is still pending.
Adults 18+: 29,8%

CONCLUSIONS
The decision to travel to a country that’s still being majorly impacted by the Covid pandemic is one to be thought through. If you’d like some help planning your trip or simply deciding if now is the right time to go, consider a one-hour Travel Coaching call with one of Kaanect’s Southeast Asia specialists.

This week we have had some exciting, if not crystal clear, news from Southeast Asia… Thailand just announced plans to reopen November 1 to international travelers! Cambodia is starting to open, but still requires quarantine periods at this point; Vietnam is still saying it won’t reopen until sometime in 2022; and Laos hasn’t announced any plans yet.

If you’re guessing that this news added a little pep to our step this week, you’re right. We can’t wait to get travelers back to the region and support our guides, drivers and teams; but with anything Covid-related, it isn’t quite that cut and dry.

Thailand is reopening to vaccinated travelers on November 1, 2021, with no quarantine period required and travel around the country possible. This is great news for our teams on the ground and for the hotels that want to be back up and running. 

But however excited we all are for our teams and partners on the ground, we’re still advocating taking it slow to most of our travel clients. We know that some of our travelers are hungry to be the first ones back to these destinations. Heck, we even put together this First Travelers Back Thailand Itinerary (PDF). But we also know that this is only the right experience for the right person; because when November 1 rolls around, while we might be allowed back in the country, the country might not be ready for us. 

As the “Phuket sandbox” experiment proved, a country can be open, but unless the hotels, restaurants and experiences are open, it might not be what you’re looking for.

As travel coaches we’re always trying to match our travelers to the right experience, so based upon what we know now (October 2021), here is who should go to Thailand in November and who should wait...

Get On a Plane Bound for Bangkok November 1!

If you’re the type of traveler that can purchase a flight and head to an amazing destination with a passport, some local knowledge and a basic plan, then returning to Thailand in November will be an incredible experience for you!

Flights out of San Francisco to Bangkok were under $800 roundtrip when we checked recently, and you can book the Anantara Riverside Resort in Bangkok for $50 a night! These are incredible rates and will suit the independent, spontaneous, up-for-anything, aware-it-might-not-all-be-possible traveler. You might not be able to do all the things, but temples, national parks and monuments will be open, and hotels will be treating these first travelers back like royalty. 

How our travel coaches can help: If you want a full itinerary check out our First Ones Back or set up a call to put together an itinerary for your time, understanding that there might be last minute changes and things that aren’t open in time so the itinerary will need to be flexible. 

Or, go it alone, but with our insider knowledge in your back pocket. Book a one hour Southeast Asia Coaching call and we’ll go over what to expect when you get to the Land of Smiles - everything from our favorite hotels and activities, to how to balance your time, budget and interests.

Book Your Trip for Early 2022 with a Travel Expert

While I think it will be amazing to be in Thailand (and potentially Cambodia) in the next couple of months, it might not be the smooth-sailing trip that some travelers prefer. Restaurants might not be open yet, attractions may not have the staffing levels to run at full capacity, and things you want to do - cooking classes, elephant visits and snorkeling trips - may not yet be functioning. 

But in early 2022 we expect all this to be back up and running close to normally, but there will still be significantly fewer crowds. If you like to plan an itinerary, this allows you to take your time working with a travel coach to perfect it, and you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that the hotels and attractions will have had a couple of months under their reopening belt to ensure things are fully operational. 

How our travel coaches can help: Our First Travelers Back itinerary is still going to be great in early 2022, even if you’re maybe the second wave back! Or, schedule a call with one of our Southeast Asia travel coaches to discuss your trip and make sure you’re booking the perfect experience for you and your group.

Need help planning your trip? Our travel coaches are here to help you! We have a group of talented coaches that have vast travel expertise in Southeast Asia. Book a consultation today!

 

Great news for those of us who have been waiting to return to Thailand!

As of today, tourists from 66 countries are allowed back into Thailand without quarantine for the first time sincegoing into a full lockdown in April 2020.

Like the rest of the world, Thailand’s tourism industry took a massive hit when the borders closed. International arrivals were down by more than 80% and it is estimated to have cost the country more than 40 billion dollars.  The hope is that the pilot project “Phuket Sandbox” will be the starting point of recovery for the very important tourism industry.

Bringing Tourism Back to Thailand - Phuket Sandbox Project

Phuket Sandbox is a pilot project to open the Kingdom of Thailand to tourists from around the world over the coming months. Under this plan, Phuket Island needed to have vaccinated 70% of its population to achieve herd immunity. This has been achieved and the plan received the final go ahead yesterday by the government.

What do you have to do to be one of the first tourists back in Thailand and be able to enjoy the pristine beaches of Phuket?

First of all, you have to be fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the World Health Organization. Proof of vaccination is to be submitted when applying for a Certificate of Entry at the Thai embassy. In addition to being fully vaccinated, you have to have a negative PCR test issued no more than 72 hours before departure and medical insurance for the whole duration of stay.

Accommodation is to be pre booked for a minimum of 14 days and only at SHA Plus
approved accommodation (certification to reassure that the hotel has taken steps to prevent
the spread of the COVID-19 virus intensely and guarantee that more than 70% of employees
have been vaccinated). Once in Phuket, you can move freely on the island but have to follow
some strict precautions like wearing a mask in public areas, social distancing and allowing the
authorities to track your movement through an app. In addition to these measures, travelers
will have to undergo three Covid-19 tests which are to be prepaid before arrival. The first test is
taken on arrival, second test on day 6 or 7 and third test on day 12 or 13. In the case a traveler
tests positive, they will be referred to specific facilities for medical treatment at their own
expense which needs to be covered by the pre-bought insurance. If you test negative on all
three tests you will be allowed to travel to other regions of Thailand before returning to your
home country.

The project has received its share of criticism as it has been labeled too complicated and critics
are skeptical whether tourists will take the risk of coming to Phuket. There is no doubt that the
first few weeks will be complicated but it is a first step, a very important first step, to reviving
the travel industry and I for one am excited! If all goes well, the rest of Thailand is expected to
open its doors completely in the next 120 days. One thing is certain, all of Asia’s eyes will be on
project Sandbox. The success of the project will determine how Thailand and the rest of the
region will open.

If you’re interested in heading to Thailand and playing in the sandbox let us know and we’d be
happy to help you navigate the requirements. If you’re looking at Thailand after the restrictions
have been lifted, check out our First Ones Back Thailand Itinerary!

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