Articles

As the World Reopens: Indagare Members Share Their Travel Stories

A year ago, most of the world was closed off to American travelers. Even domestic trips were a hassle, with quarantines required in multiple states. This year is a different story, and many of Indagare members’ favorite destinations are welcoming back visitors. It’s a recent switch: much of the E.U. reopened to U.S. arrivals only by late June, and Hawaii dropped its quarantine requirements for vaccinated Americans just a few weeks ago. Indagare members and staff have been among the first U.S. travelers to embrace the reopenings, heading to Italy, Greece, France, Spain and Switzerland within weeks of the rule changes. They have also continued to travel to destinations near and far that had already been open, from New England and Napa Valley to the Nile. Read on for highlights from seven Indagare members’ recent travels for insights into why they chose to go on trips now, what it’s like on the ground, and how—when done responsibly—this may be a window of opportunity to experience beloved destinations like never before.

Have you traveled recently? We’d love to hear from Indagare members about their summer 2021 trips. Email content@indagare.com to share your stories with us.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to learn more about planning safe and meaningful trips, this year and beyond. Our team can provide information on destination requirements, hotel policies and insurance options, transportation and much more.

Related: The Indagare Guide to Travel During Covid

The Trip: 8 Days in the Galápagos

Indagare arranged a three-generation family yacht charter in the Galápagos for 18 people.

“It’s hard to plan for 2021—you have to grab the moment. Our trip had been set for 2021 since before Covid, since none of us had been before. But was obviously touch and go whether we’d be able to make it. Getting vaccinations was really key to moving forward. Our family lives all over the country, from California to Texas to Rhode Island, and to be able to have us all in one place again was important. Of the 18 of us, only our 11-year-old grandson didn’t have his shot yet.

Flights were changing daily, and Colin from Indagare helped make a lot of modifications: We didn’t go to Quito, for example, spending a few days instead at Hacienda Jimenita. And since we were concerned about interacting with unvaccinated travelers on a Galápagos cruise, Indagare chartered the MV Evolution yacht for us—without any strangers on the boat. The crew was vaccinated and still wore masks. (During meals, we were asked to put on masks when we went to the buffet, too. We are all used to wearing masks by now, so it didn’t matter—we all appreciated the safety aspect.) The whole time on the Evolution, we were out in clean, fresh open air. So really, it was the ideal trip. We could move from place to place, but our bubble remained the same.

On our last night, the kids were ordering these drinks—non-alcoholic piña coladas and such. They decided with the bartender to have a dance party. They were happy, they were excited and they had had a great trip. It was a joy to see.” – Ben and Peggy Schapiro, Indagare members since 2007

Related: Join our 2022 Insider Journeys trip to the Galápagos. There is only one cabin left!

The Trip: 12 Days in France

Indagare arranged a 12-day trip to Paris and the South of France for a family of three after the daughter’s high school graduation.

“My daughter, Catherine, really wanted to go to Europe for her post-high school graduation trip. We waited until very late to book our trip because timetables for country openings kept shifting. France seemed to have a pretty firm plan in place, so we went with it knowing that it would be a risk. We wanted to stay in one country and not have to worry about crossing borders or testing requirements in different locales. My daughter has been to Paris before, but never to other areas of France, and we knew we could have a fabulous 12-day trip exploring new regions of France.

I expected that we would have to wear masks everywhere in France, and just accepted this as the price of being able to go. However, masks were really only required indoors, and so much of our vacation was outdoors. We explored the Riviera, Provence and Paris. The weather could not have been more beautiful. I also thought several things might not have fully reopened, but this was not the case.

As for surprises, we only had pleasant ones! I thought that the Riviera would be quite crowded with a lot of European travelers, but this was also not the case. We never had a problem getting a dinner reservation, a pool chair, or a lovely table for cocktails. Paris was a surprise and delight! There were no lines at the Louvre or the Mona Lisa, and no large tour groups anywhere in the city. I think we visited at a unique time in history, and I am likely never to witness it again.

The French people were absolutely lovely and were clearly happy to have Americans there again. When I was buying something at a small shop in Avignon, the shop owner spoke to me in French. I told him I spoke English. He asked if I was American, and I said yes. He turned to his wife and with a look of joy and relief, said to her, “American.” I may have been the first American customer they had had in a year and a half, but I was a sign of better days to come.” – Susan Touchton, Indagare member since 2017

Related: Why to Go to Europe Now: France and Italy Are Empty

The Trip: 12 Days in Egypt

Indagare transformed a long-planned multi-country trip into a deep dive tour of Egypt for a family of five.

“Our travel philosophy while the kids were growing was to see all the far off places we could. We figured this was a period of our lives when we would all be able to take extended time off (2+ weeks at a time). We’ve traveled to all seven continents and the kids have been to about 30 countries (I’ve been to 55+).

Egypt has been on our wish list for a while, along with a handful of other spots in the region. When summer was upon us, we surveyed what was open and what was not. There was no quarantine in Egypt, and the protocols looked very safe, so we felt very comfortable traveling there. We usually like to cover a lot of ground (most people would think we’re nuts!). There were a lot of places we wanted to see and we knew our days to be able to take extended vacations with the kids were numbered. We were willing to endure all the nose swabs required to country hop, but the problem was the flight connections. Given reduced flight schedules and our 12-day limit (due to kids’ schedules), the logistics just didn’t work for multi-country. Even though we were “limited” to Egypt, it was fantastic. The extra time there allowed us to spend time in Sharm el-Sheikh, which was a great experience.

One of the most surreal moments was our family, alone, in front of the Abu Simbel temples. In the two hours we were there we counted only 20 people! It was a combination of Corona (fewer tourists and canceled flights) and being there during summer/low season. We know that was a very unique experience. The other amazing takeaway was being there in-person and seeing what Egypt is all about. I guess I studied Egypt at some point, but seeing it first hand really made it real. The three-hour drive through the desert from Aswan to Abu Simbel (due to cancelled flights) brought us firsthand to the reality that basically the majority of the country is desert, but for the ribbon of green that is the Nile snaking through it (and the delta, but we didn’t go there). You really appreciate how central that river is to the whole civilization. Then you think about the history over thousands of years, all intertwined with the Nile. It was so powerful and moving.” – Chris Miller, Indagare member since 2020

Related: Coronavirus Travel Information: What’s Open to Americans

The Trip: 10 Days in Greece

Indagare arranged a 10-day trip to Athens, Paros and Santorini for two Indagare members belatedly celebrating their college graduations.

“We graduated in 2020 and had a ton of trips planned for summer after graduation: Southeast Asia, Colombia…those trips obviously didn’t happen. A year later, we still wanted to go someplace, maybe glamping in Yosemite. But when Europe started to open up, we thought we’d much rather do that. We landed on Greece because it was someplace new for both of us, and it was opening a month before we would be traveling. We didn’t want to be the absolute first. We liked that it had a month of streamlining first.” – Hadley Noble, Indagare member since 2007

“I’ve always loved history, so having the chance to see the ruins of Athens and doing something relaxing felt like a good combination. It was a vacation that wasn’t too sedentary. Once we got there, we knew vaccination rates were lower than the U.S., so that did feel different, but still safe—especially when we were around other travelers, since to get into the country, you needed to show a negative PCR test or be vaccinated. Getting to see the Acropolis when it wasn’t overwhelmed by tourists felt life-changing.” – Eliza Bower, Indagare member since 2007

Related: Traveling to Europe in Summer 2021: What to Know

The Trip: 14 Days in Hawaii

Indagare arranged a mother-daughter trip to Maui and the Big Island.

“I wanted to take my 18-year-old daughter, Paloma, on a trip to celebrate her high school graduation. After a senior year spent almost entirely in remote learning (we live in California and her school did not re-open for in-person learning until May), I wanted her to have a blast and for us to have a trip that we would both remember as a highlight of an otherwise difficult year.

We made our plans in the spring, before [Hawaii’s travel] rules were relaxed. I felt pretty confident that despite Covid, we would have a good experience in Hawaii regardless of travel restrictions. I was a little bit more uncertain about planning a trip at that time out of the country. We were able to take advantage of the relaxed rules on inter-island travel while we were there, which was a welcome relief so that we did not need to spend vacation time finding a Covid test on Maui before traveling to the Big Island.

I expected a few inconveniences along the way (test protocols, capacity restrictions making reservations a little harder to get, etc.), but in actuality, these were all extremely minor as compared to the opportunity to get away, relax in a new environment and reconnect with family and friends. I was surprised by how seriously Hawaii followed its Covid protocols. For example, we had to share our negative Covid test results before we could rent a car, check into our hotel or go on our pre-booked excursions and day trips. [Note: Businesses now use the SafeTravels Hawaii Portal to verify your information]

As for how traveling felt different than from pre-Covid, I feel like we appreciated it all more! We took full advantage of every opportunity to explore and stretch out of our comfort zones. Even if it meant a 3:00 a.m. wakeup to catch the sunrise above the clouds at the top of the Haleakala volcano (9,000 feet)! We were reminded that the opportunity to travel is such a gift and we loved every minute of our experience.” – Lesley Freeman, Indagare member since 2018

Have you traveled recently? We’d love to hear from Indagare members about their summer 2021 trips. Email content@indagare.com to share your stories with us.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to learn more about planning safe and meaningful trips, this year and beyond. Our team can provide information on destination requirements, hotel policies and insurance options, transportation and much more.

– Peter Schlesinger on July 28, 2021

Quotable

It’s hard to plan for 2021—you have to grab the moment.
~ Ben and Peggy Schapiro

Become an Indagare Member Today!

Join Indagare sign in