What It's Like To Travel Now - Covid Travel - Sept 2021
The First Part
After a 20 month hiatus, was finally able to start traveling internationally again! This is a two-part trip - any guesses where I'm heading to first?
As soon as I was fully vaccinated, I made the decision to book a trip - that travel itch was just begging to be scratched. My experiences allow me to be a better travel advisor to you.
You may not feel comfortable traveling right now, and that’s ok! When the time IS right for you reach out to me and we can start planning.
For the first trip in so many months, I booked WestJet Premium Seats. This is a bit of a splurge, but in my mind it was absolutely worth it. Sometimes the cost for premium seats can be prohibitive, but sometimes you can get a good deal - especially when you factor in the cost for:
- Included checked luggage
- Included seat selection in large seats with plenty of leg room
- Included meals (on the longer flights)
- Priority boarding and baggage handling (being first off the plane, and having your luggage come off the carousel first is so satisfying)
- Plus included alcoholic beverages is a real win in my book (it's a great way to start a trip, if you drink alcohol.
It’s great when you are looking to splurge!
For anyone who guessed Disneyland as the first destination - you are correct!!!!!
Travel is absolute possible right now, but with the understanding that there are risks and processes to go through. We had to have a negative antigen test completed within 3 days of travel, and an attestation that the results were valid. Big shout out to The Medicine Shoppe in Sherwood Park on Baseline road - service was quick and with a smile.
While officially you do not need to be vaccinated to enter California, we were all fully vaccinated. Disney is mandating masks only in all indoor places, though we chose to wear them everywhere when we were not eating. While we found Disney good at making sure everyone wore masks, there was not a lot of social distancing, so we had go work to make our own social distancing as much as possible.
Disney is also recommending that everyone over 11 be vaccinated or have a negative covid test prior to visiting (though at the time that we traveled, they were not actually checking for this). Along with a park ticket, we also needed to reserve a park entrance in advance so that Disney could control capacity.
Disneyland’s Oogie Boogie Bash (OBB) is a separately ticketed event that happens on select nights in September and October. It’s a great way to experience the parks all dressed up. The decorations are outstanding and they have multiple villains in select locations. Because it is a separately ticketed event attendance is limited, so it’s a bit quieter and ride lines are short.
We were fortunate enough to grab tickets when they first went on sale, and we were able to enter California Adventure just after 3:00pm (the party started at 6pm).
I was a bit worried about finding a quiet spot to watch the parade- but lucked out at the last minute. We were able to watch while still socially distanced across from the Jumping Jellyfish.
My apologies for the shaky video!
Villains Grove, while not a ride, was a fabulous visual experience, and a must do if you attend OBB.
While I love Disneyland itself as the original, this was my first time visiting California Adventure, and I absolutely loved this park. Especially at night, California Adventure is a visually beautiful park and completely encapsulates the best parts of an amusement park.
Well, after around 80,000 steps over four days, we are not heading home!
Instead we are heading to rest and relaxation. Flying Alaska Air, and we were fortunate enough to upgrade to First Class upon check-in for a reasonable price. That extra legroom is fantastic! Ps: for those who know I’m gluten free - the gluteny crackers were separately packaged, so it was easy to enjoy the fruit and cheese tray.
We arrived as the sun was setting to the most amazing views of the city and the resort. What an amazingly beautiful, historic resort nestled in the cliff side with the marina on one side and the ocean on the other.
I always highly recommend booking private transfers from the airport to your hotel for a number of reasons:
- You don't have to share the transfer with strangers
- You get to depart the airport when you are ready - not when the bus is full
- You don't have to stop at multiple resorts before getting to your resort, so you get there quicker than the shuttle - you typically have no crowds at the check in desk because of this so check in is easier.
- You get to chat with the driver to find out more about the region you are visiting.
- On the way back to the airport when you leave, you get to stay at your resort a bit longer as the drive will be shorter since you don't need to stop at all the different other resorts.
Ahhhh Cabo! The view from this oceanview room is simply phenomenal. Admittedly, the room itself is a bit rough around the edges - nothing fancy, but clean, large, and functional. Sitting up here with your coffee in the morning, or a glass of your favorite beverage in the evening, is lovely. You can people watch, as they go to and fro from the resort to the pools, or just listen to the waves crash on the beach. The sandy area on the left is used for a turtle nesting area, and as an activities area for guests.
Sandos Finisterra was built up around a cliffside, providing stunning views and beautiful architecture.
After our 80,000 steps at Disneyland, we decided to splurge on a massage at the spa at our resort. Let me tell you - Sandos Finisterra has a BEAUTIFUL spa. With the rock features in every session room - it really feels special. The massage was sooooo nice - but as always - felt too short! I could have stayed there all day.
After the business of Disney, we needed a few pool days to just rest and relax. Sandos Finisterra has a great large pool that is right by the beach. At this small resort with only 272 rooms, you really felt the personal level of service, especially the poolside service. Our drinks (whether hydrating or not), were never empty.
We were fortunate enough to see Sandos Finisterra setting up for a private romantic dinner on the beach. With the waves crashing on the beach - this is a perfect spot for that special occasion. Later they set off fireworks, and rumor has it, that it was an engagement proposal - it was a magical evening!
The Whale Watchers bar on the cliffside at Sandos Finisterra was the perfect place to enjoy a glass of your favorite beverage at sunset. While we did not travel during whale season and didn't see any whales, we did see all of the ships from the Cabo marina heading out giving Sunset and Dinner Cruises. Once the Sunset was over, they would start heading back.
Below is a great time-lapse video of the view from the Whale Watchers bar where I was able to capture nightfall.
As night fell, the mood changed and the beauty of this resort really shines. It is an absolutely stunning resort at night.
Don't forget to pack your Whites! On our final night at @SandosFinisterra there was a "White Party" for all of the guests. They ask if you have some, to dress in as much white as you can. The beach is setup with lights, and a grand buffet, and they introduce you to the Sandos team. There are also fire dancers and other performances. Note that not all of the other restaurants are open during this time - so plan to attend the White Party on Wednesdays.
Well, our time in Mexico was coming to an end. We did require a new molecular test to travel back to Canada. This test was quick and easy and done at the resort. Once we had the results of that, we needed to complete the ArriveCan app. This was also quick and painless.
Never have I had so many things to keep track of while travelling! We had to keep track of the entry requirements for both of the countries we visited, as well as the requirements to return to Canada. While it was relatively painless, we did have to have all of our ducks in a row to ensure we could travel without issues. With a little bit of luck, and a lot of planning and organizing, our trip went off without a hitch. We arrived back in Canada with no issues.
When the time is right to travel, let me guide you through all of the processes, forms, and tests you need to do to travel smoothly. Requirements are changing all the time, so what I experienced may not be the same a month from now. As your travel advisor, I would let you know what the requirements are before you book, before final payment, and before you travel - so nothing is a surprise.
To book your next dream vacation - when the time is right to travel - reach out to me through email at Alicia@EveningStarTravel.ca, or by calling 587 772 2525. I am located in Sherwood Park, Alberta (a suburb of Edmonton), and am a Travel Advisor specializing in River Cruising, Beach Escapes, and Custom Vacations. I am the owner/operator of Evening Star Travel, and I book travel for clients all across Canada.