Never Stop Planning

Like everyone else, we are ready to strap ourselves to the wing of a plane, just to get back to traveling. One thing we believe strongly in is to never stop planning. So, logically we thought we would make this blog about getting back on that plane, train or automobile. (I think Jen would get on the back of a camel if it was her only way to get to a far away destination right now.) Travel is a vital part of life that refills your soul. It is time for that refill.

Doing some vacation planning with some of our favorite coffee.

The past year has been difficult for so many reasons. The world stopped and now we wonder how do we get back to the things we love? While we are far from the glory days of 2019, we are slowly but surely shifting in that direction. As you know (since we have mentioned it 1,001 times) we had to cancel a family trip to Italy three times due to the virus who shall not be named. This was a family trip and with child #3 graduating this year, our time-table was shrinking by the day. Time to make a decision on the fate of this thing. Never stop planning.

We know, we know- travel is still a bit limited, but it is still possible. Take a little time to do some homework and research the regulations for places that are open for business (there are a lot!) For us, we decided domestic travel would be the safest bet. If you live in the United States you can travel to any state or US Territory. Many states have no quarantine or have a simple negative test requirement. Be careful though because while a state may not have any requirements, a city might.

We recommend checking your home state guidelines first. If you have to quarantine for ten days when you get back home, then this may change your plans. Most states have greatly reduced or eliminated this requirement. International travel has additional hoops to jump through when you return, but it is still possible if you have the time to quarantine.

Like many of you, we did not have the time to waste locked up in our house, so staying within the borders of the US was the way to go. If you are a New Yorker, you are in luck- no quarantine if you travel within the US or its territories. As soon as that news hit, Jen pulled out the suitcases and gave Craig “that” look. You know the one; the one that says buy the plane tickets and let’s go!

Bring out your bucket list journal, like we discussed in a previous blog, and start a list of possibilities. Never stop planning. We had Hawaii, Alaska and a Las Vegas/Grand Canyon combination to choose from. Alaska did get thrown out because we want to make that a cruise trip, which is out of the question right now. Also, this is on Jen’s bucket list and not Craig’s. He will only go here because he has to uphold his reputation on the whole #whatwouldcraigdo thing. (After all, how often do you get your own hashtag?)

On the other end of the spectrum, the desert, we mean Las Vegas/Grand Canyon. This destination is way down on Jen’s list, but up there on Craig’s. This is mostly due to the fact that when he traveled to the Grand Canyon in his youth he stood on the edge during an epic snow storm and saw nothing. Literally nothing. Well, nothing other than a squirrel hanging out in a snow storm. So it’s down to Hawaii and the desert….guess which one our kids voted for? Hawaii it is!!

The only thing Craig saw at the Grand Canyon was this squirrel……

The first thing we did was see their restrictions. If we had to quarantine in a hotel for three days, that would not work for us. Each state has its own travel website, you will know it is official if it ends in .gov. Beware of fake websites charging fees for necessary safety travel forms. They are everywhere!

We pulled up and read up on how to make this trip possible. The state of Hawaii currently requires a negative Covid test 72 hours prior to the last leg of your flight to avoid quarantine when you land. This does need to be done at one of their affiliated labs and must be digitally uploaded. For those curious, we found the closest lab for northern New York at Walgreens in North Syracuse. They provide a list of locations that offer the specific test needed. At the time of this blog the vaccine passport is not available, but they are working on it.

We admit that planning a trip at this time is not quite the same. There is that little edge of anxiety, maybe more so for us since we had three trips in a row cancelled on us (in case you forgot, we thought we would mention it again.) While there is a little fear, do not let that hold you back. It is like riding a bike; get back on! Many airlines are now offering generous refund policies or zero fee transfer options if for some reason you do have to postpone or cancel. This allows you to MAKE THE PLAN! Never stop planning.

For us, we are getting on that plane with a full load! WE do not do anything half way. We are go big or go home. For our return to travel we are bringing the entire family, plus one, for a total of seven. SEVEN! This came with its own set of challenges.

In our first big trip we booked for two. So easy. We are fortunate that we enjoy the same things, so planning our trips was a cake walk. Our second trip, we upped the ante and booked for four. Our travel companions were easy going and only made one request, “I want to see the chopping block at the Tower of London.” Done. Booking tickets and reserving time slots for two to four people can be done in your sleep. Seven on the other hand….

First, we want to say we are overjoyed to be taking our entire family to Hawaii! Who gets to do that in their lifetime? Not many, and we are beyond grateful to share this experience with them. No amount of money would be too much to create the memories we will have. Eeekkk, we are going to HAWAII!!!!

Back to planning for seven. One fun fact we discovered is that most reservation sites have a limit of six. How helpful. There are of course ways around this, you need to send some emails and make some phone calls. Hawaii is a huge tourist destination, so if one place can not accommodate your party, there are at least a dozen others that can. Keep digging.

Planning our Hawaii trip!

Family trip planning versus couple trip planning are two different animals. We wanted input from our kids, but also knew we could not make the trip individualized to each person. Could you imagine? We pulled our knowledge of our boys and paired that with options available. This was one of the most difficult trips to plan an itinerary for. Normally we build our top attractions and pare it down from there. Jen especially had a hard time getting to the meat of this trip.

If you have been following along you will know that we are not a beach/relaxing trip taking couple. Don’t get us wrong, we love to relax! But the part we love most about travel is the new discoveries and our only knowledge of Hawaii was Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Ocean. Oh, and they have a volcano or two. Some are active maybe? That is all we’ve got here folks- Pearl Harbor, an ocean sprinkled with volcanoes that may or may not be active. This is a great start! Cue the Amazon order of Hawaii guidebook.

Get the guidebook!! We spent a couple Sundays with coffee and our journal reading and getting to know the amazing islands of Hawaii. We highlighted activities that we thought everyone would enjoy and started to get the skeleton of our trip built. A word of advice for parents- pick the activities and do NOT put it to a vote. Honestly, who isn’t going to like riding ATV’s through the wonders of Hawaii’s backroads? Or the boat ride around the island with various stops at different ports. Make the executive decision and let them know what the plan is.

For our home base we went with the island of O’ahu. The pandemic again made our decision for us. At the time of booking there wasn’t any inter-island travel allowed, so where you stayed is literally where you stayed. The rules are constantly evolving and some of those restrictions are beginning to lift at the time of this blog, but we did not want to risk it. It was an easy choice due to Pearl Harbor and Waikiki Beach.

In a future blog post we will get into the nitty gritty of our trip and have some amazing stories to tell……July 2021! Until then, go for it and get your trip plans in order. You can travel NOW! Why wait? Pick your date and book your flight. The rest will fall into place. Never stop planning!

Where are you going on your next trip? We’d love to hear from you!

Thank you for reading, and Never Stop Planning.

Jen and Craig

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