After a year without travel, we’re all dreaming of places near and far that will allow us to fulfill our wanderlust while also ensuring the safety of our travel bubble. In our pursuit of privacy, the world’s great outdoors and natural wonders await. Our planet is full of remote, yet idyllic, islands where you can have all the distance you need while rediscovering the joy of exploring the world. Here are six remote islands and archipelagoes that you’ve probably never heard of but fuel our travel dreams.

1  |  Shetland Islands, Scotland

This archipelago, located off the coast of mainland Scotland, comprises about 100 islands, only 15 of which are inhabited. The Shetland Islands are part of a UNESCO Global Geopark aiming to protect the land’s varied geo-diversity as well as its links to cultural heritage and to make it accessible in a sustainable way. So, whether you feel like mingling with the 7,000 locals in the capital, Lerwick – made famous by BBC’s Shetland TV series – finding Shetland ponies roaming wild, or diving into history at one of Europe’s richest Viking heritage sites in Unst, the northernmost of the inhabited British Isles, these “Islands of Opportunity” offer a host of possibilities.

2  |  Gull Island, United States

If you’ve never heard of this island, it’s because the most exciting aspect of it is not on it… but rather around it! This rocky outcropping about a mile off the southwestern coast of California, part of the Channel Islands archipelago, is the island to visit if you’re looking for a truly unique dive closer to home. Part of a state marine reserve protecting delicate marine life and habitats, Gull Island is one of the few places in California where divers can see well-preserved purple hydrocoral at shallow depths, as well as schools of fish, a kelp forest, and sea lions.

3  |  Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Blissful beaches, swaying palm trees and warm waters – Bequia (pronounced “Beck-way”) has it all and even more. Yet, its greatest advantage may be that it falls off the touristy path. This anonymity offers travelers savvy enough to know its existence moments of perfect solitude in a laid-back and welcoming environment. While the island – the second biggest of the 32 that make up the Grenadines – has no sprawling resorts or traffic lights and only one main town, it doesn’t lack in things to do. Besides the obvious afternoon lounging on the sand, you can take a stroll on the coast-hugging boardwalk, go yachting in Admiralty Bay, or enjoy steel band music at a local bar.

4  |  Magdalen Islands, Canada

Located a five-hour ferry ride away from the closest land of Prince Edward Island, Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Magdalen Islands) is an archipelago of a dozen islands, some of which are linked by sand dunes. The seven inhabited islands are joined by a 55-mile road, making it easy to explore the region by rental car. Along the way, you’ll drive past rolling green hills, colorful houses and steep red cliffs that glow at sunset. Be sure to get acquainted with local Madelinots (residents of the islands), known for their warm hospitality, always eager to teach visitors about their origins and enliven evenings with music and lyrics.

5  |  San Blas Islands, Panama

Unknown to many, the San Blas Islands are a group of over 375 picturesque islands – most of them uninhabited – in the Caribbean Sea between mainland Panama and Colombia. San Blas is a little piece of paradise, off the beaten track of mass tourism and fully controlled by the native Kuna people. From Panama City, it’s a two-hour drive to the coast, where sailors can charter a catamaran or embark on a boat shuttle to the islands. Expect untouched nature, excellent snorkeling, and ample space to swim with barely another soul around. Adventure lovers will enjoy spending the night à la Robinson Crusoe in their own eco-friendly hideaway.

6  |  Lofoten Islands, Norway

Did you ever dream of surfing above the Arctic Circle? If so, head to the Lofoten Islands! Unstad Beach is said to be among the best surfing spots in Europe, while not one for the faint of heart. But, beyond that, the Lofoten archipelago – 95 miles north of the Arctic Circle in the Norwegian Sea – is a place of unparalleled beauty, with craggy mountains, deep fjords, colorful fishing villages, and waters as clear and as blue as the Mediterranean – only colder. The water is more than a simple backdrop here; it’s the lifeblood of the community. Pyramid-shaped racks used for drying cod are a common sight throughout the fishing season, and one town’s unofficial motto reads “In Cod We Trust.” When visiting, travelers can stay in a fisherman’s hut, go kayaking or hiking to immerse themselves in the scenery, and experience the midnight sun.

content courtesy of Ensemble Travel

Contact us for expert advice or to book your next vacation.

When it comes to purchasing travel insurance during this unprecedented time, choosing a plan can feel daunting. Confused by the options? Don’t fret. We asked Allianz Travel Insurance in the U.S. and Manulife in Canada, two of our travel insurance partners, for their professional insight.

Here are six things they recommend travelers consider when purchasing travel insurance.

1. Your credit card coverage might not cover all your needs.

Manulife mentioned many people assume their credit card’s travel insurance is enough but be sure to read the fine print. Some credit cards have age limits for medical coverage, or they may offer trip interruption but not trip cancellation prior to departure.

2. Purchase travel insurance early to get the most protection out of your plan.

Allianz Travel Insurance said it’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance at the time of your initial trip deposit to receive the longest possible window of protection. This is particularly important when your plan offers a pre-existing condition exclusion waiver. You’ll want to be sure you purchase your plan within the specified timeframe to meet the criteria for this added benefit.

3. Protect yourself on journeys both near and far.

Allianz Travel Insurance added that even if you’re traveling relatively close to home, you’ll want expert help in an emergency — and Allianz Travel Insurance includes access to an award-winning assistance team that’s available around the clock. Depending on your plan, you may also have primary medical benefits to protect you whether you’re 100 or 1,000 miles from home — helping you avoid deductibles and co-pays, plus substantial emergency transportation fees. It’s important to remember most health insurance plans (including Medicare and Medicaid) won’t cover you outside your country. Plus, you can get reimbursed for non-refundable cancellations if you or someone named on your plan becomes ill with COVID-19 before or during your trip.

4. Make sure the insurance you purchase has 24/7 multilingual assistance.

Manulife noted you will want to be able to reach your travel insurance provider at any time of day. Additionally, they should be able to communicate with hospital staff in any language.

5. Plan for unexpected emergencies in your extended family.

Allianz Travel Insurance plans include more family members under covered reasons than you might think. For example, if your employed, live-in caregiver gets sick and can’t care for your children while you’re away, and one of your plan’s covered reasons is “illness of a family member,” you could cancel or cut your trip short and cite this as a covered reason for your claim. Check with your travel advisor for a full list of who’s considered family under covered reasons.

6. Consider purchasing a Trip Cancellation and Interruption Plan.

Manulife said trip cancellation and interruption are the most common travel insurance claims. It can be easy to overlook this coverage and just go with emergency medical insurance, but it’s important to keep it in mind. It can save you thousands of dollars if you must cancel an expensive trip.

IMPORTANT: Before purchasing a travel protection plan, please read the Allianz Travel Insurance Coverage Alert for details on how policy limits or excludes coverage related to COVID-19, as well as temporary, specific accommodations offered. Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply

 

For more info on travel insurance check out Allianz Travel Insurance for your travel policy needs.

It’s a typical day on a tropical beach somewhere in the Caribbean, or perhaps Mexico. The breezes are cool, the ocean is warm, and the hours are languorous. Butlers carry cocktails to waiting for guests who are happy to accept them. Farther inland, children play at a kids’ club and teens chat over games. Diners travel around the world without ever leaving the resort, sampling hibachi, ceviche, and the delectable, edible works of art offered up as dessert. In the spa, tranquil, almost-hypnotic music casts a spell of quieting relaxation — a rare moment of genuine peace.

No, it’s not a flashback to the days before COVID-19 (seven months or more like 100 years ago). It’s a portrait of the present, at an all-inclusive resort.

On the beach, the loungers are spaced widely apart. The staff all wear masks and carry hand sanitizer. At the kids and teens clubs, temperatures are checked, and new protocols are explained (most memorably at Iberostar Hotels & Resorts’ Star Camp, where a “medic superhero” unriddles social distancing). In restaurants, menus are posted to digital boards and accessible by phone, buffets have been reimagined, and new individual takeaway portions have been introduced. Meanwhile, at the spa, beds are disinfected before and after each use, and amenities are sanitized and sealed.

With over 70 years of evolution behind the all-inclusive, it’s unsurprising that when we found ourselves facing a history-making pandemic, these hotels were some of the quickest to act, pivoting without pause to become pacesetters in health and hygiene.

Adapting rapidly, premier all-inclusive brands from across the globe partnered with world-class organizations to establish broad-gauge guidelines for safety, sanitation, and quality … and give us all hope that vacationing can be safe once again.

Spick-and-Span from Top to Bottom

When you go to an all-inclusive, you expect the beach to be pristine. Now, new cleaning practices are making every inch of hotel grounds as unblemished as the sands they sit on. Constant disinfecting of common areas? Check. Air purification and water systems testing? Check. Strict requirements for suppliers dropping off products? Check. If it’s in any way part of your experience or a staff function, it’s been scrutinized and sanitized.

New Standards, Same Mission

For all these changes, however, the heart of an all-inclusive stay remains the same. The luxury is still there — but more innovative. The recreation is still there — but safer. The selection is still there — but with a focus on hygiene. Because, even though new sanitation requirements are rigorous, they’re also unobtrusive. Whether staying at a RIU hotel or a Blue Diamond resort, a Bahia Principe property or a Palladium one, you’ll continue to get that vacation feeling you’ve always known. Plus, with reduced occupancy, getaways feel more private and services more personalized, actually enhancing your experience.

Far-Reaching Value

One of the greatest things about all-inclusives has always been their value. When you stay at one, everything — room, food, drinks, entertainment — is rolled up into one price, meaning you never have to worry about a budget. Before the pandemic, hotels were busily adding even more to that list: spa treatments, excursions, cultural experiences. Now, more than ever, you can unwind and let go. And that’s the true value of these resorts. Because, when you don’t need to leave the property, you can relax like normal — no worrying about unknown protocols or uncontrolled crowds.

A Trip You Can Trust

From Cristal International Standards® to Ecolab, brands like AMResorts, Karisma Hotels & Resorts, and the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotels have teamed up with some of the biggest names in safety certification. Brands are now making it easy to see their exact sanitation standards by listing it on their website and with just one glance, you can rest assured your resort is taking every precaution.

This era of new health awareness isn’t ending any time soon. But, thankfully, with all-inclusive hotels helping lead the way, neither is travel. 

Have you thought about planning your next All-Inclusive vacation?

Your next international vacation should be full of excitement, magical moments, and unforgettable stops at the most extraordinary restaurants, shops and destinations the world has to offer.

The last thing you need, then, is to show up at the airport simply to get turned away due to an expired passport, or even too many stamps in your book. (Who knew?!)

Check out these five surprising passport mistakes you’ll want to avoid making so you can reach your destination (and return home) with no problems at all!


Mistake #1: Not Checking the Expiration Date

This doesn’t even just mean a passport long since expired. Some countries only accept passports that won’t expire for six months or more. So if you have four months left till your expiration date, it’s probably safer to get a new one than be turned away at the gate!

Mistake #2: Waiting Too Long to Apply

It’s pretty common knowledge that passports take forever to receive and/or renew, but with all the stress of a trip, this important detail can sometimes be forgotten. In general, passports take at least six weeks to arrive on time. If you require it sooner, expedited services will cost $60 and take about three weeks.

Need it even sooner than that? Check out this page to learn how to book an appointment at a passport agency or center.

Mistake #3: Not Correctly Filling Out the Form

We’ve all made some typos here and there, but an error on your passport application will result in a missed flight. Even if the printer was to blame, you’ll still need to correct it before heading through security. The bright side? The correction process is free. You’ll just need a DS-5504 form that you can either mail in or fill out online

Mistake #4: Not Updating Your Name After a Change

Legally changed your name recently? Passports don’t automatically update, so you’ll have to go through the renewal process. You’ll need to use a passport renewal form (DS-82), submit a color passport photo, an official document showing your name change, and your current passport (plus the fees that go along with it). We suggest ensuring you’re eligible for the DS-82 form.

If it’s been less than a year since your passport with your old name was issued, you might be able to update for free with the DS-5504 form.

Mistake #5: Having Too Many Stamps

Who knew that being a world traveler can have its downsides? Though you’re very lucky to have so many stamps in your book, some countries require you to have two to four blank pages in your passport.

If you love traveling as much as we do, make sure you’re always on top of your passport status to avoid any mishaps at the airport and reach your destination as soon as possible!

STEP 1 | SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION CALL

To begin my hiring process, you must schedule a 20 minute consultation call. Consultations allow me and my team to properly assess what you need, decide which services will best suit you, craft your experience to your expectations, and get started immediately!

STEP 2 | SIGN HIRING CONTRACT AND PAY INITIAL RETAINER

After you agree that you want to move forward with the hiring process, I will discuss my hiring fees. If you decide to go forward you will receive an invoice along with a services agreement.

Here Are Our Price Tiers

Our Base Fee is $50 for Couples ( 2 Guest)

Groups under 20 guests require an initial retainer fee of $250 + $25 retainer per person for each additional guest in the travel party.

Groups over 20 guests require an initial retainer fee of $500 + $50 retainer per person for each additional guest in the travel party.

To begin researching accommodations and amenities, ONLY the initial retainer fee must be paid by the lead traveler. This amount is not applied to your trip is paid directly to me as the Travel Professional and is nonrefundable and nontransferable.

STEP 3 | VACATION QUOTE PRESENTATION

Once the initial retainer is paid, it will take 5-7 business days to create your vacation quote, unless I state otherwise. After it’s created, I will schedule a time with you to go over the quote. During this time, we will review your vacation quote together and if you have any questions or modifications we can discuss those at that time.

STEP 4 | SECURE YOUR VACATION!

After you decide that you want to move forward with the quote and your group is ready to pay their initial deposit, we will schedule a date for everyone to make their payment. Everyone in your travel group will pay their retainer fee along with their deposit. Again, the retainer fee does not apply to the trip and is nonrefundable. Once your guests make their deposit; your payment collection, announcements, and vacation preparation will be seamless and automated so you can focus on other things that matter… like picking out swimsuits with your besties!

READY TO SCHEDULE YOUR CALL? CLICK THE LINK BUTTON BELOW TO GET STARTED.

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