The future of travel in unprecedented times: a message from Megan…


Some have told me over the years, over the years that I suffer from a disease called travel. I like to correct those people and say I have a passion called wanderlust. I was born with it, born into it.

The Background

My parents are avid travelers. Through my father’s work, I was lucky enough to be “dragged” around the United States and Europe many times before becoming an adult. I worked my way through university with a defined purpose. To be able to explore the world on my own dime. That philosophy continued throughout the beginning of my career. Europe more than a dozen times. Then Bali, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Egypt, Turkey, and back to Europe (namely Italy) a few more times. There was no getting enough.  I still can’t!  Starting to plan my friends’ vacations was a way for me to vicariously live through their adventures. It seemed quite natural that I would start a boutique travel company once I eventually moved permanently to Italy.

So here I am, 16 years later, like so many of you living out the most surreal experience of my lifetime. I am also watching a very promising year of tourism turn into the forbidden fruit of 2020. This year will be forever known as the year the world went on hold. We are living through an experience foreign to all of us.  The unknown comes with a good deal of anxiety on how we will get out of this physically, economically, and emotionally. But we will.

I’ve been thinking heavily about how this virus has affected our industry.  How many of our wonderful colleagues and suppliers have truly suffered a financial blow that will take a long time to recover. And in some unfortunate cases, will not be able to. It breaks my heart knowing how hard they have worked. What amazing experiences they offer. While we may not be able to help them economically at the moment, we can assist them with continuous support through what I call “intelligent wanderlust promotion”. This blog is just a start.

Our Goals

Our goal at BVT is to highlight these amazing people, places, and experiences over the course of the upcoming few months. Consider it a way to feed your wanderlust!  The reason you chose to work with Bella Vita is the same reason that we have chosen to work with our colleagues and suppliers.  Quality is more important than quantity. Seeing a destination is more than just checking off a box.  Hopefully, we will also be able to introduce you to a few new ideas for your next travel adventure, when the time comes. 

We can help you dream now and travel later.

So, when will we be able to travel again?

That is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? I cautiously believe that sometime this summer.  There could be a turn for the better. The fall shows a bit more promise. Many experts predict a dissipation in the strength of the virus.  (I can’t tell you how many fabulous, warm Octobers we’ve had on the Mediterranean in the last 17 years!) As we have all learned, COVID-19 does not seem to have a timeline nor does it have borders. While some countries may recover earlier, others will still be riding out their wave. They will need more time to heal.

At Bella Vita Travels, we are taking a cautious approach to trips already scheduled or being planned for late summer and early fall. We are working closely with all our partners to ensure the most flexible booking policies possible. With our spring and early summer clients, we were able to apply credit towards a future trip usually through the end of 2021. We will continue to do this for as long as necessary.

Can I Start Planning Now or Should I Wait?

There is no wrong time to start planning. It’s the first step of wanderlust! Create that list of “must-see” destinations. And then give it a good look on a regular basis. I actually keep an old, handwritten written list of these places and experiences for future travel. These include:

  • seeing the Aurora Borealis from an igloo,
  • swimming with great white sharks (from a cage of course!)
  • a safari with my son (the perpetual animal lover)
  • and so on…

I look at it every once in a while. Then I usually end up wasting at least a half-hour of web surfing to see what the latest experiences are being offered for my list. It’s a wonderful escape, even for a few minutes. It recharges my travel battery. Give it a try!

How Far in Advance Can I Plan?

In a “normal” year, we have always encouraged at least 6 months in advance.  And even more for particular places at certain times of the year. For example, Positano anytime between May and September. By those standards, it would be the perfect time to plan for the fall. Going back to my statement about flexibility, my good guess is that most travel companies and their partners will still be offering as much of this as possible. Therefore, taking your travel wishes from a list to an itinerary should not be seen as a risky endeavor.  But rather a chance to let your wanderlust resume as our lives get back to normal.

How should we be planning?

I think there is no better time than right now to recognize the value of using a travel specialist.  Travelers put their trust in us because of our expertise and inside knowledge of a destination. And also what it takes to get there and experience it the right way. Bundle that with flexible travel options and you can avoid the haze of third-party travel sites that do not provide much more beyond a low price (always be wary of why). As well as the risk of losing deposits and more.  We have heard of so many people wasting hours, days trying to get in touch with a helpline or a third-party booker only to be given the run around as they frustratingly try and get back their money.  Using a travel planner means that this will never happen to you.  Our job is to do the research and organization for you. Should you need to make revisions to your dates and even destinations, we are there to make that happen seamlessly.

How Will Travel Be Different Post-virus?

Few things will be the same immediately after this global crisis as the world starts to pull itself back up economically and emotionally.  What is promising is the amount of people that want to travel immediately – many industry surveys are estimating 50-60% of travelers would book a trip within 6 months of getting out of quarantine.  All this time at home is making everyone ready to get exploring again!  What will be really interesting is what effect this will have on “mass” tourism.  So many destinations close to our hearts usually require a good bit of planning and expert assistance to experience them without hordes of crowds in the summer months… but as this crisis wanes, we might see these places in a new, tranquil light, and cities waiting to embrace travelers with open arms. 

What about Travel Insurance?

Yes, absolutely, but please do not think it will cover a pandemic, God forbid we should ever be in this situation again. One of the more eye-opening things we have all learned from this experience is just how far travel insurance will take you. Most insurance companies have actually terminated their CFAR (Cancellation for Any Reason) policy which, frankly, is not a surprise. When the world returns to “normal”, however, it is always wise to ensure your trip. You never know what can happen before or during a trip, and the better prepared you are, the less you run the risk of being disappointed. Your trip is an investment, just like any other – protect it.

Do we need a Reality-check?

Yes and no. As we are all taking a forced step back from the everyday grind, we can take time to reflect on what is most important to us and the future opportunity to bring to fruition our ideas, goals and dreams. We keep telling our clients that while their trips may be on temporary pause, that does not mean their travel dreams and wishes should be. So while it is absolutely not the time to travel now, the day will come when the world returns to being ours to explore, and we can embrace the freedom of travel once again.

There is one thing we can say with complete certainty – we will travel again.  It’s our nature as human beings, this desire and passion to explore and experience this amazing world.  We hope that after this crisis, we will all be able to see how much of a blessing and a privilege it is to be able to do something as simple as leave our home, and that our clients will continue to discover new destinations and experiences that truly show them the heart and soul of a place rather than simply seeing it.  We are all staying put for now, but as soon as we can, the world is again a present that we cannot wait to unwrap, and Bella Vita Travels cannot wait to help you do it.

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