By April Cole.
I’ve always felt that travel is good for the soul. There are many ways travel nourishes your soul - you see new sights, you meet new people, you open your heart to new cultures and experiences. Another way to have travel nourish your soul is to embrace the beauty of incorporating local spiritual practices while you’re traveling. In this blog I’ve outlined some of the more special and unique spiritual experiences you can have whilst traveling in Southeast Asia that can be arranged by your Kaanect Travel Coach.
The Erawan Shrine in Bangkok was built in 1956 to ward off bad luck from a hotel that was built nearby. Since then it has been known to locals as a shrine that grants good luck. With your private guide, visit the shrine and learn how to prepare a proper offering and present it to the shine. Many locals and travelers have had their wishes and prayers come true!
In the late morning you will be transferred to a Buddhist temple, where you will have an opportunity to meet with a Buddhist monk, who will share Buddhism’s concepts and beliefs. Feel free to ask the monk any questions about Buddhism or meditation you would like. The hope is for an open and honest conversation so that you understand more about Buddhism at the end of the chat.
Silent meditation retreat
Spend two days, one night at a monastery in Chiang Mai where you will learn the art of mediation from local monks. These two days are spent in silence, so that you can learn to calm your “monkey mind,” and practice wellness of your brain.
Yoga and Meditation retreat
There are many single, multi-day and multi-week yoga, nutrition and meditation retreats in Thailand. If you’re interested in a retreat, consult a Kaanect Travel Coach with the specifics of what you’re looking for in the retreat so that your travel expert can recommend the best option just for you.
One of our favorite retreats is the Kamalaya in Koh Samui. A great combination of beautiful accommodation and beach access, with quality practitioners and a variety of programs to support all your wellness needs.
“Srouch Tec” Water blessing
This morning, head to Angkor Wat with your guide in an air-conditioned car. Explore this majestic temple throughout the morning while it is still cool and has fewer tourists. Your guide will take you to an active Wat, where you should change to clothes you can get wet in as here you will experience the ceremony “Srouch Tec,” which roughly translates into “pour water.” A monk will chant in ancient Pali as he splashes water over you, washing away your sins and bad luck so you can start fresh and by being a good person can increase your good luck.
Fortune Teller and Blessing from Monk
Cambodia has a deeply spiritual culture which is still actively observed today. Many local people look to the spirits for guidance and today you will gain a brief glimpse into this long-standing and well-respected tradition. To begin your Southeast Asia travel tour, you will pay a visit to a local fortune teller. This man is very well respected by our local Khmer team, who visit him frequently for guidance. Your reading will be conducted in Khmer language and will be translated for you by your guide. You are welcome to record this on your phone for deeper analysis later if you like. From here you will move on to visit the pagodas of Siem Reap city. Pagodas are well attended by most Cambodians to receive blessings and give alms to the spirit world, a very important part of the Buddhist religion. You will receive a blessing performed by a monk from the pagoda to cleanse your spirit from which you will take away a small red ribbon tied around your wrist to protect you for the rest of your travels.
Visit Reiki Master
Southeast Asia is known for having very strong energy, and many Reiki masters come to the region as they have noted their ability to work with energy is amplified in the area. While in Siem Reap, we have arranged a visit to work with a highly sought-after reiki master who now calls the area home. She has worked as a Reiki master for decades and is known best for her healing work. Experience a one-hour session with the local master at her healing center.
Traditional Baci Ceremony
This evening you will take part in a traditional Baci ceremony. The baci ceremony, referred to as, su kwan, which means “calling of the soul” will be performed by a local village elder, maw pawn. This blessing is meant to welcome you by giving you a blessing to bring harmony and balance to your body and soul. The Lao believe that this blessing will bring the believed 32 kwan, souls, that watch over you, back to your body so that you may be blessed and healthy. Your guide and the locals will help to lead you through the steps of the ceremony. During the ceremony there will be blessings, chanting and Pook Kwan. Pook Kwan is the tying of the white baci threads on each of your wrists from the elders. The white cotton is a symbol of peace, good fortune, honesty and comfort. They are traditionally worn for at least 3 days and should be untied rather than cut off. After the closing of the ceremony you will have the opportunity to ask any questions about the ceremony with your guide and your ceremony’s hosts.
Early Morning Alms to Monks
Wake up at sunrise to give monks morning alms. You’ll be accompanied by your guide who can demonstrate the proper method of alms giving and explain this daily Buddhist ceremony. Return to your hotel for breakfast.
Sacred Cham ceremony
The journey starts at dusk with a gentle walk to our hidden spot set in the middle of nature. The Sacred Cham lets you explore this ethnic culture in its most authentic way. The Cham is well-known for their cuisine -- therefore you will start your evening experience with a Cham feast.
In this culture, a Cham Master is the most respected person who is the only one allowed to conduct important ceremonies. There are very few Masters in a Cham society, due to high requirements of deep knowledge, practices and skills. Join this Cham Master for a blessing ceremony in the Cham style -- a unique and interesting way to feel something you have never experienced before.
*tour exclusively arranged at the Amanoi Resort
Visit with a local healer
During your private visit with a dukun (Balinese healer or medicine man) you will discuss the healing process using traditional medicines and acupressure -- and in some cases, magical drawings.
Spirit of Belimbing
Start the tour early from your hotel and enjoy a comfortable scenic journey along country roads to the Tabanan area in the remote region of Belimbing. Along the way, you will observe many beautiful sculpted-terrace rice paddies. When you arrive at the start point of the tour, you will be served refreshing tea or coffee plus tasty cookies before starting the 7km trek around the coffee and chocolate plantations. The trek is not arduous but will take you up and down the rice-paddy terraces. The trek ends at the secluded Benben Waterfall, considered sacred by the Belimbing inhabitants. Bring your bathing suit and take a few minutes to bathe in the waters and thus cleanse away bad spirits and ensure good fortune for you in love for your future. From Benben Waterfall, you will be transferred by road back to the starting point for lunch followed by some relaxation time.
Later, around 4 pm, you will be attired in suitable Balinese national dress and taken to one of Belimbing’s ancient Hindu temples located in the jungle. There you will encounter the sacred monkeys that live in the temple. A temple priest will enact a Hindu offering-to-the-gods ceremony involving bantens (ornate creations of meals cooked with meat and vegetables and decorated with flowers) followed by the drinking and spraying of holy water, an essential element of Balinese Hinduism. After the ceremony, you will be transferred back to your hotel where you can enjoy the rest of the evening at your leisure.
Agni Hotra Fire Ceremony & Meditation
Agni Hotra is an ancient fire ceremony originating from the sacred vedic hindu texts. Agni refers to fire and Hotra means healing. Specially trained priests make offerings of ghee and grains into the fire while reciting Sanskrit mantras to invoke blessings of health, abundance and transformation. Participants are also invited to join the priests at specified times, offering rice into the fire, as a symbol of divine light. The ritual is for cleansing, purification and integration of all things, creating harmony and healing for the participants.
**I want to stress the importance of not being voyeuristic or disrespectful of local cultures and beliefs in your travels. If you choose to incorporate a spiritual aspect into your travels, it’s vital to do so in a manner that is respectful and non-invasive. Kaanect Travel and our local partners on the ground have well-developed relationships with the partners offering travelers the opportunity to take part in these local experiences.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can incorporate these experiences as you travel in Southeast Asia, feel free to reach out to a Kaanect Travel Coach here!
by: Heidi Bloomer
For the average traveler, realizing their next best trip will mean researching and choosing between countless of “hope for the best” options. While most people are perfectly capable of doing the leg work and booking on their own, let’s be honest. You wouldn’t approach your finances this way by making random guesses on investments, so why would you approach your vacation time in this manner?
Just as a financial advisor would help manage your assets and portfolio, I will ensure you get maximum value and return on your travel investment. I have acquired a wealth of information in my lifetime of travel. My passion is helping you sort through what an ideal travel experience would look like for you, and then sharing information with you to make it the best it can be! Save yourself the headache of reading countless unverified reviews to make sure your vacation is a success. I give my clients undivided attention, timely communication, and honest reviews based on first-hand experience. And if you want to hire a travel expert to help you book (or simply just take another to-do item off of your list), I, or one of Kaanect’s valued travel partners, would be happy to assist.
I value a good recommendation and am conscientious when sharing my experience because of how it reflects on Kaanect, my personal “brand” and values, and the potential impact it could have for someone else. If I receive lackluster service at a five-star property, I’ll give you a balanced and fair review. If I discover above-and-beyond courtesy from a local bakery and they just happen to make the most decadent buttery soft croissants… you are going to know the local head baker by name. I’ll help make the connection so you can enjoy fresh pastries for breakfast on Vacation Day One.
When I travel, I seek out these types of special experiences to guarantee memorable vacations. I also keep a curious mind to find off-the-beaten path gems, and this has rewarded me with several incredible experiences to draw from and many new friendships to share. I can’t wait for you to experience the wanderlust and magic that awaits!
Our world is physically huge and at the same time, it feels small and extremely interconnected to me. The pandemic reiterated how important it is to be on top of changing guidelines and requirements. It also reminded me that self-care is not self indulgent. Self-care is essential to mental health and emotional well-being. We are best able to care for others when we manage our own stress. Sometimes this means delegating, asking for help, and yes, taking that much needed trip. There are safe and smart ways to make it all happen! I prioritize safe and healthy experiences and work well with others who share those same values.
So, whether you are seeking a carefree weekend getaway stateside, an opportunity to deepen connection and create memories with family abroad, or aiming to increase your understanding of the world through cultural immersion, I have done and can help with each of these things!
by: Heidi Bloomer
Paris is so special because it is celebrated as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and filled with renowned attractions. My family and I were excited to check it out for ourselves and cross it off our own “must-see” list this summer. It was a first visit to France for all of us and my 30th country! We enjoyed leisurely days of sleeping in, biking under gorgeous skies, seeing famous sites, experiencing the culture and shopping galore.
From the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, and everything in between, we agreed. Paris has something for everyone.
We originated from Chicago, IL and flew Delta from ORD to Detroit and then onto Paris. Delta is our preferred airline and our loyalty throughout the years has paid off so many times. We still had several global upgrade certificates banked from COVID days. We used them on this trip to enjoy perks of convenient in-flight food and good sleep! For the return flight, we all flew Air France, a partner of Delta, directly back to Chicago. This was such a treat. Delta and Air France have consistently delivered us excellent customer service and we will continue to make them our preferred airline for travel.
ARRIVING, LUGGAGE, ACCOMMODATIONS:
We arrived on a Monday morning and decided to take an Uber into the city. This ended up being a bad idea in that it took two hours due to the morning rush-hour traffic. We couldn’t check into our Airbnb until 3 pm, so we used an app called Nannybag. This is a super cool concept. People are available to “nanny” your bags - at malls, restaurants, shops - for a nominal fee per hour, while you wait for accommodations. Most hotels will allow you to keep bags onsite until your room is available, but this was especially useful to us this trip because we were staying at an Airbnb without that option.
For this trip we decided to keep things simple by staying in one location the entire duration of the trip (six days). This allowed us to unpack once and just enjoy. Our Airbnb was neat - and super economical compared to the hotels available during this time of peak season.
We booked a private guide through Boutique Bike Tours. Our guide, Marie, was amazing. We leisurely biked the city streets for hours and snapped pics at all the must-see spots. Boutique Bike Tours offers small group and private tours. I would highly recommend to ensure you don’t miss a single hot spot.
We did a one-hour river cruise, complete with champagne, as well! This provided an alternate view of some of the same key spots. There are a variety of boat tour companies available and each vary in length, time of day, and amenities. Choose the one that suits you and Bon Voyage!
Of course, we went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa. The lines were extremely long and it turns out this is a relatively small painting! We snapped a pic from afar and called it good. The Louvre is huge! A person could easily spend days there and get lost.
If going up the Eiffel Tower is a goal, book ahead! We booked a few weeks before our trip and only had one option available that worked for our schedule. We ended up with a 9:30 pm slot which turned out to be incredible. We saw a lovely sunset and by the time we came down the tower was lit up and sparkly. Dreamy!
There are many French products including beauty care, purses, accessories and clothing, which are much less expensive when purchased in France. Be on the lookout for your favorite French brands (e.g., Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Cartier) as you just may need to make shopping a priority!
We ate some amazing cuisine. The restaurants 6 New York and Junglii were two of my favorite places. We also had our pick of at least a dozen cafes within a few steps of our apartment. The whole family enjoyed coffee and fresh pastries each morning. My husband and I connected each evening over champagne. We only made a reservation at 6 New York - otherwise it was easy to walk in and find seating everywhere else.
This was a non-negotiable activity for our family. In addition to achieving so many travel milestones on this trip we now have bragging rights of visiting all the Disney parks in the world.
Tickets: We booked ahead of time and picked the days as well. This is a current requirement due to COVID and park capacity. We chose two, one-day/one-park tickets: Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. There is also a “Disney Village,” much like a smaller version of Disney Springs in Florida, which is connected to both parks and the train station. The Village offers additional shopping and dining options.
Transport: There is an option to book your visit with bus transport to and from the parks. We added this option but would highly recommend against it. The bussing is only offered one time each way, takes 50 minutes (without traffic), and involves lots of waiting. After one time of using this option, we voted to take the train for the other three trips. This proved to be inexpensive and easy!
Accommodations: As noted above, we stayed at our Airbnb in the city. Staying at an official Disney-branded hotel is always a fun experience, but we did not feel it was necessary for us this time around. Note: The main Disneyland Hotel is closed for renovations at this time anyway.
Fast Passes: The main tickets include entry into the park. You’ll want to download the app and link your tickets ahead of time. Many of the rides have individual fast passes you can buy on your app, after you enter the park for the day. The cost per person, per ride, seems to vary depending on supply and demand on that day at that time. If someone from your group doesn’t want to go on that ride, you can uncheck them and avoid paying for their slot. The pass assigns you a timeframe of one hour for that ride. If you have an active pass, you must wait until the timeframe has “started” to order another one. We utilized a mix of regular wait times and Fast Pass. We were able to get through seven rides at Disneyland from 10 am - 4 pm, including a break for lunch and a parade: and four rides at Walt Disney Studios from 10 am - 1:30 pm including time for our lunch. If you don’t need to go to every ride or event and are ok doing some Fast Passes, you could totally do both parks in one day. If you’d prefer not to pay for the Fast Pass and/or you want to hit up everything - then definitely allow for one day in each park.
by: Heidi Bloomer
We ate well… very well. A lot of restaurants are closed for business on Sundays. Businesses that remain open typically break mid-day between lunch and dinner. This is something to note especially if traveling with children, or partners who like to eat on schedule. Darjeeling Express is number one on my list to highlight. Chef and Owner of Darjeeling Express, Asma Khan, was the first British chef to feature in Netflix’s Emmy nominated Chef’s Table. The restaurant offers three eight-course dinner tasting menus, lunch a la carte and Sunday brunch. Reservations highly recommended to secure a coveted spot. We were able to visit on a special “Supper Club” evening, where Ms. Khan spoke to the patrons – it was very rewarding!
For an authentic and upscale British dining experience, try the “Fish and Chips” at Gillray’s Steakhouse. We came upon this gem because it was conveniently attached to the Marriott where we stayed, but also came recommended by the concierge as the perfect place for pre-theatre dining. Gillray’s had instant menu appeal because of their commitment to using locally sourced farm ingredients. Diners also enjoy a quick and quirky history lesson via original satirical political cartoons displayed throughout the restaurant. James Gillray, the restaurant’s historical namesake and “father of political cartooning,” created these cartoons.
My daughter and I saw Mamma Mia. The whole family saw Wicked. (This was the second time seeing Wicked for my daughter and I because we love the story so much!) My ten-year-old son loved the London Eye. Maybe because it reminded him of the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel back home in Chicago. We booked a “tour guide” through Tours by Locals (Elizabeth) from 9 am to 3 pm one day. She was knowledgeable and kind. She went at our pace and took time to understand and highlight the things we were interested in. My son asked at least 100 questions. I’m quite sure he learned enough to cover History/Social Studies for at least a semester. The world is truly our classroom.
We stayed at the Marriott County Hall – and if given the chance, I would be happy to stay again. This hotel has family rooms as well as spacious king and double rooms. It appeared recently remodeled but maintained the integrity and vibe of the historic building. The location and proximity to an array of famed attractions can’t be beat.
Safety and COVID restrictions
Compared to other trips I’ve taken out of the USA over the last year, this one was a breeze for COVID with easy-to-navigate COVID protocols. That doesn’t mean I didn’t check daily leading up to the trip to verify I hadn’t missed something. I typically check the airline info page as well as find a local government page for the country and specific area we are visiting. This time all countries on our itinerary, as well as the transit city (Amsterdam) accepted our (USA) proof of vaccination cards and didn’t require COVID testing. We voluntarily tested the day before we left just to be respectful – and we tested the day before our return to the USA per protocol. The USA accepts an antigen test – so we tried the “self” kit that is proctored this time. This promotes increased flexibility by allowing us to take the test on our own instead of having a local agency come to our hotel or going to a local facility.
Next on this itinerary: Finland!
Piercing blue skies. Untouched white snowscapes contrasted by patches of majestic pine forests waiting for visitors to lay the first snowmobile tracks. Air so clear we could see Russia in the remote distance.
The inspiration behind our trip to Finland came from the fact that my daughter’s BFF from our ‘Shanghai Days,’ lives in Helsinki. (My family previously lived abroad in Tokyo, Japan & Shanghai, China.)
These two besties last saw each other in January 2020 and never got a proper goodbye due to our abrupt move back to the US. They have been diligent at staying connected despite the time zone difference and social calendars of two teenagers. They schedule calls, prioritize check-ins via text, and just generally make a beautiful effort to stay friends. It was such a joy to be able to reunite them in person. They are already planning their next reunion in the US.
I love the concept that travel can turn someone’s ordinary into your extraordinary. Friendships like this one are beautiful examples of that.
All I’ll say is that we tried Reindeer (their main source of protein/meat in Finnish Laplan) and it was delicious!
We met Heather, the owner and operator of Heather Helsinki’s Tours for a history/food tour. We lucked out again with another knowledgeable and sweet soul. We like to include some element of “formal” learning in all of our travels with the kids, so they have a richer appreciation for the places we visit.
Then we headed to Kakslauttanen in Finnish Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle. This was definitely a once in a lifetime bucket list experience. I hate the chill of winter and even I was able to get lost in the surreal moments and forget about the cold. We met many local families and business owners, enjoyed delicious local food, snowmobiled, went dog sledding, went for a reindeer sleigh ride and slept underneath the stars in a glass igloo.
If you know my daughter, you’ll know she did her research on the care of all the animals that work for these experiences – including the reindeer, huskies and horses. These magnificent creatures are all so beautiful and well taken care of. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the Northern Lights this trip (bad timing and uncooperative weather), but this just gives us an excuse to visit and try again!
Apart from the arctic resort, we stayed at the Hilton Airport Hotel Helsinki which was beneficial due to being an airport-hotel location. Rooms and food were what you would expect from a convenient stay with a reputable commercial brand. We also stayed at the Hilton Strand Helsinki a couple of nights which offered great location, solid dining options and rooms that were on the small side but nice and met our basic needs.
Our hearts (and minds) are full of wonder given the new experiences, massive history lessons and family time over this Spring Break vacation.
by: Heidi Bloomer
During the month of April we had the opportunity to spend quality family time in St Thomas, USVI, for a long weekend with my parents and my brother and his wife/kids. This was a welcome break from the long stretch of never-ending Midwest winter this year. A great time had by all and super relaxing. Another place added to the “would definitely return and recommend,” list!
Ultimate Chef Services of the USVI was amazing. They come directly to your Villa and cook custom menus with authentic fresh flavors of the Caribbean. This is a perfect option for a group. We also had some yummy beach bar food and treated ourselves to some delicious meals at both the Caribbean Fish Market and one of the most famous beach bars in the islands -- Iggies Beach Bar.
We chartered a boat to accommodate four adults and three kids with Local Legends. It likely could have fit two to three more people on it, if needed. Apply sunscreen liberally as the boat offers minimal shade. Captain Kyle was an excellent host and driver. We cruised around St. Thomas and St. John’s, stopped three times to snorkel in crystal clear waters and made it to Lime Out - a famous floating taco spot on the water! Local Legends also does charters to the British VI, but we opted out due to short stay and knowing it would have added a layer of complexity due to current COVID-19 protocols. The highlight was definitely visiting Lime Out for lunch! Documented as a “Top 100 Things To Do In The World,” by Time Magazine - it is a taco floating bar in Coral Harbor, St. John, USVI. The drinks were tasty as well! Captain Kyle got us there safely from St. Thomas. We devoured the tacos so quickly there was no time for photographs. You’ll have to visit yourself to see (and taste) their deliciousness!
We visited Coki Beach (local, beach bar, beach side food & beverage service with music), Magen’s Bay (big, empty in the morning, but cars lined up to enter by noon, limited food service, quieter/family friendly), and Secret Harbor (small beach, sort of rocky so wear water shoes, with a nice restaurant (Sunsets) on site, and a dive center with a snack bar). We navigated each with ease and felt safe and comfortable with each of them. During our stay, the weather was perfect - 82 and sunny every day – with random five to ten-minute showers (mostly at night).
There are a plethora of Airbnb options scattered throughout the island. We choose to stay in the Red Hook area. Villa Mirino was a five-bed, four-bath house that easily slept ten people, plus could probably accommodate two to four more (if kids), as well as a pack-n-play and/or a crib. The lanai was huge, and the views were stunning. The grill and pool area were awesome! When traveling with multiple generations and staying for a shorter time, it really makes a difference to have access to a private pool and amenities. Nap attacks happen quickly in the Caribbean and you want to crash somewhere easy and breezy.
Safety, COVID And Other Logistics
COVID: USVI currently requires a test up to five days prior to your flight for unvaccinated travelers. If fully vaccinated, no testing is needed. Simply fill out a travel application form a few days before traveling and you will get a QR code to use. When you land in the USVI, you will get a temp check at the airport, show the QR code scan you received, and you’ll be on your way. To travel back to the mainland, no testing is needed. However, the check-in process at STT airport is generally horrible and inefficient. I recommend arriving a minimum of two to three hours before your scheduled flight.
Also in regards to flights, I noticed that flights were frequently late going to and from the island from all points of origin. If you have connecting flights to make I would suggest building in a decent layover time (one-and-a-half to two hours) to ensure you don’t have any issue with making layovers.
In April, masks were still mandatory at the STT airport, but were not mandatory at anywhere else on the island. When we returned from our trip we got to experience being in the Atlanta airport as the federal mask mandate in airports was officially lifted. What a site to watch people slowly take off masks as the “mask required” signs were being taken down. Another moment in history for the books.
Car Rental: Amalie Car rental was amazing. Easy to book online via email. What I liked the most was their personal service. Someone met us right outside baggage claim and got us all set up into the car. It was the most efficient activity at the airport and only took about 15 minutes max. Upon return, they met us on the curb of the airport check-in desks and we were off in 30 seconds! While one might think the island would be walkable, it’s not. Getting around was definitely easier in a car. Taxis are not as popular, there is no Uber, and depending on where you stay -- walking is a maybe. Know before you go: Roads in USVI are not marked well, especially in residential areas and you drive on the left side of the road. Perfect for the adventurous soul!
Here are the details of what you need to know to enter Thailand now and what to expect if you test positive for Covid19 while traveling.
Fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no less than 14 days before traveling
If unvaccinated / not fully vaccinated- Have a COVID-19 RT-PCR test result issued no more than 72 hours before departure (attach on Thailand Pass only)
Certificate of Vaccination
Insurance with minimum coverage of $10,000 USD
COVID-19 RT-PCR test result issued no more than 72 hours before departure (If unvaccinated / not fully vaccinated)
Travelers must register with Thailand Pass to upload required documents prior to arrival!
To register with Thailand Pass follow this link: https://tp.consular.go.th/
Required during stay:
No testing requirements during stay
Masks are generally required inside all buildings - regulations vary, but travelers should expect mask requirements everywhere as the norm.
If you test positive for COVID-19 during your trip in Thailand:
A traveler would only test for COVID-19 if they are experiencing symptoms and need to be treated for COVID-19. If this is the case, if you have booked a trip through us, we can assist you with a transfer to the best local hospital to continue care for you. As all travelers are required to have insurance coverage that covers medical care for COVID-19, your insurance carrier will be informed to support the financial obligations of your COVID-19 care needs.
Thailand is fully open for US travelers that comply with the post-pandemic entry and travel requirements as outlined above.
As the country has opened up, the main highlights such as the Grand Palace, Elephant Nature Park, Night Markets, local restaurants - are open and everyone on the ground is working really hard to make sure that the experience of the visit is as good as ever.
Hotel wise, luxury properties are up and running at the caliber which one would expect at that level. These properties had investment through the pandemic and were able to hold on to a lot of employees, which has really helped in the quality remaining high.
Budget hotels and properties (3 stars and under), are struggling right now to come back online and have the quality of service they offered before. We expect these properties to see improved quality and more staffing in the next few months as travel rebounds, but at this time, we’d recommend guests look within their budget to see if they can stay at a higher level hotel for a more consistent quality experience.
Air travel within the country is also seeing an impact, with less frequent departures. Again, we expect this to adjust over the next few months as demand increases.
In these first few months we all need to extend our kindness and patience as everyone emerges from closed borders. Office teams are proactively expanding again and refreshing their knowledge in readiness for excellent service, but responses may remain a little slower than pre-pandemic times at present whilst everyone ramps up again.
If you have any questions about travel in Thailand right now, or for travel in the upcoming months - book a free 30 minute travel coaching call today!
by April Cole
In 2006, Andrea was working in Cambodia running Journeys Within Tour Company and B & B and she had done such an incredible job of creating the best travel experiences in Cambodia, she was named to the Conde Nast Top Travel Specialists List. The list at this time was said to be harder to get onto than getting into Harvard. For her to have just started Journeys Within a few years prior, this was an especially great honor for a travel consultant.
When she was named to the list, she knew that she needed to ensure that the level of guest experience was elevated, and decided to open a US office as a travel coach. That’s where I came in ; ) Andrea hired me to support the travel expert business on the US side, while she split her time between the US and Cambodia - and our business journey evolved from there. Since that time, we have gone through a few iterations of names and even ownership - but our team, our tour experiences and our commitment to creating trips worthy of being named as the best by Conde Nast Traveler - has remained the same.
Why am I blogging about this now? Well, because for the 16th year in a row for Andrea and for the 5th year in a row for me Conde Nast Traveler has named us as Top Travel Specialists.
I’m so grateful to once again be named among the Top Travel Specialists in the world. But I’m even more grateful that this list brought Andrea and I together as business partners and friends, and that we get to continue to offer the best tour experiences to our guests all these years later.
By April Cole
They have said “It’s all about who you know,” and that’s the reason why we started the Travel Partners section of Kaanect. We don’t don’t just promote providers because we think they’re good; we refer clients to our travel partners because those providers are exactly who we trust to create epic travel experiences for ourselves too!
Just this past month I hired Brooke of Tumbleweed Travel to help me plan a last-minute RV trip through the Southwestern U.S. for my family. I was incredibly busy with work and life, and knew we wanted to get away during the kids’ fast-approaching winter break, but I simply did not have the time to put together a trip.
I love researching where to stay and what to see along the way, and I have a fair bit of experience planning trips 😉 But I also know myself and know that I would have spent far too much time researching every option and wondering if I was picking the best sites and best routing for this road trip, and I knew that working with someone who knows the region better than I do would ultimately create a great experience for my family.
I emailed Brooke and asked if she ever planned trips for people who already have an RV, but need help with all the rest, and she said she absolutely does. I was so excited! I gave her my dates, where we were hoping to go, the length of my RV and the number of people traveling, and then left everything in her incredibly capable hands.
Within a few days she sent an amazing itinerary that outlined the routing, places to see along the way, as well as all the nitty gritty details and the bookings for the best RV parks in each location. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
I can honestly say that her planning was better than I could have done on my own. She adjusted the direction of travel to allow us to stay in the better RV parks, and the routing which we took minimized overall drive time.
We started by driving from Lake Tahoe to Las Vegas and spent a night at a cute place off the strip with a hot tub and a pool - which was perfect after the long leg of driving that day.
The next day we went from Las Vegas to Sedona, with a planned stop at the Hoover Dam and the Road Kill Cafe on Route 66. As my son was a huge Pixar “Cars” fan, Route 66 was a highlight that day!
We then spent two nights in Sedona. Brooke offered some planned touring options, but we opted to plan our own hiking adventures those days. We explored a few different spots, and really loved checking out a few of the vortexes Sedona is known for.
Next, we went to the South Rim Grand Canyon and stayed in the park. The RV park was a 1 mile walk from the rim - but you also had the option of taking the park bus that picked you up right at the park. As it snowed while we were there, we opted for the heated bus most of the time 😉
While it snowed while we were there, we weren’t sad about it. We were the only people at the canyon most of the time, and the canyon covered with a few inches of snow was one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen.
After two nights at the Grand Canyon we were slated to continue on to Zion National Park. We were all really excited to head to Zion, and this was something Brooke recommended we add, as it added a new location and it shortened our drive on the way back home. But, after three nights of snow and four big humans in one small RV, we decided to leave on a high note and cut out Zion and went back through Vegas again. This change was a last-minute decision and Brooke was quick to help us make the changes to our reservations.
So we went back up to Vegas and spent time in the warmth and played in the pool. Then we added in some quirky art activities, with a visit to Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart exhibit.
Then we journeyed home, stopping at everything strange and fun along the way - The Car Forest, Clown Museum and a fireworks stand that let you shoot fireworks right on the spot. (Living in fire-prone California, we were excited for this!)
All in all, I could not have done this trip in the time-frame I wanted without Brooke's help. She made the booking easy and fun, and I highly recommend you work with her and Tumbleweed Travel. If you have your own RV or trailer or if you’re looking to rent one, she can help you create a great trip, and better yet, great memories with your family on the road.