Tag Archives: pandemic travel

Aerial view at famous european travel destination in Croatia, Dubrovnik old town.

Where You Can Travel If You’re Vaccinated—No Testing Required

Below are the countries you can enter without taking a Covid test prior to or on arrival, as long as you’re fully vaccinated. (Update: As of June 12, 2022, the U.S. no longer requires air travelers to show a negative test to enter the country.)

A growing number of countries have lifted all Covid requirements and don’t require either proof of vaccination or a negative test; you can find those here.

Additional countries welcome vaccinated travelers with a negative test or other requirements. You can find the full list of where you can travel here.



Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

A lit Christmas tree at night in front of Santa Maria del Fiore Florence Italy

Where to Go for the 2022-23 Holidays

Time is running out to book a trip over the December/January holidays. We’ve tapped the experts on Wendy’s WOW List—the well informed, on-the-ground trip planners who’ve been wowing our readers throughout the pandemic—to find destinations that are still able to be booked for Christmas or New Year’s vacations. These are places where they can still find you charming hotel rooms and savvy private guides and can put together a high-caliber trip.

To understand what makes a trip WOW, read these recent reviews from our travelers. And don’t miss the rest of our “Where to Go” series on the best destinations for every month of the year.


A lit Christmas tree at night in front of Santa Maria del Fiore Florence Italy

Florence lights up for the holidays. Photo: Shutterstock

Italy was incredibly crowded and pricey this summer. For a true taste of the country, the answer is to go in winter, when the weather is mild and the cities and countryside have a more local flavor. Ride a Vespa around Rome; learn how to row a gondola in Venice; gather with your family at a private villa on Sicily or Lake Como; take in an opera at La Scala in Milan; or stroll holiday markets in the Dolomites.



The Champs-Élysées at Christmas time, Paris, France

The Champs-Élysées at Christmas time, Paris. Photo: Paris Perfect

If you got shut out of France this summer, now is your chance to book a December trip. The light in Provence in winter is why so many famous artists moved there, and this month is prime time for the region’s acclaimed truffles. Of course, Paris is fabulous for Christmas and New Year’s—the City of Lights gets even more dressed up for the holidays. France’s best Christmas markets are in Strasbourg and run until December 24. If your trip dates include December 25 or 31, don’t worry that everything will be closed: The right expert can arrange a private cooking class on Christmas, or concert tickets on New Year’s Eve.


Costa Rica

beach, coastline lined with green jungle at Costa Rica Carrillo and Samara Beaches in Costa Rica

Carrillo and Samara Beaches, Costa Rica.

From beach to cloud forest to volcanoes, Costa Rica packs a lot of highlights in a small country. The skies are generally dry in December, but the land is lush and green from the recent rainy season. If you’re having trouble finding hotel rooms for your family over the holidays, our experts can help: They’ve blocked rooms at their favorite properties expressly for you last-minute planners.



Tiny island with coconut trees and boat in Belize

Belize. Photo: Shutterstock

Nonstop flights to Belize take off from several U.S. cities that are only about three hours away. Once you’re there you can explore world-class coral reefs, visit uncrowded Mayan ruins, learn to scuba dive as Wendy’s son did, fish for 100-pound tarpon (which kept her husband busy), and laze beside sparkling Caribbean waters. Accommodations range from beach resorts to overwater bungalows to remote jungle tree houses. If you’re traveling the week leading up to Christmas, you can even charter your own private yacht to enjoy fabulous snorkeling, sunbathing, kayaking, and endless horizons.


Canadian Rockies

Lake Louise Canada in winter

Lake Louise. Photo: Billie Cohen

The Rockies are absolutely gorgeous when covered with snow, making it a winter wonderland that is perfect for the active family…think snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and ice canyons. You can go dogsledding near Lake Louise, cross-country skiing near Jasper, and snowmobiling outside Banff. Wind down your day in a cozy private cabin or a cushy resort with spa treatments to ease any sore spots from your snowy adventures.



London skyline with Nelson's Column and Big Ben at dusk

London skyline. Photo: Julian Love/London and Partners – Visit London

Enjoy a Dickensian Christmas in London, which puts on a display of spectacular lights and holiday markets. A knowledgeable local guide can make the city’s stories come alive, whether via an after-hours tour of the Tower of London, an exploration of the city’s street-art scene, or a pub crawl to the best local watering holes.


A castle in the English countryside

Broughton Hall Christmas

Broughton Hall, in the Yorkshire Dales, at Christmastime.

Looking for a place to gather with extended family? Consider a stately home—even your very own castle—that suits a group of 16 or more in England. These houses are tastefully decorated throughout, tree and all, and come fully staffed, so you need not worry about cooking or cleaning over the holidays. Nearby you’ll often find Christmas markets to stroll, but you can just as easily stay on property and enjoy plenty of activities that bring your family together and put you in the Christmas spirit: wreath-making workshops, cocktail masterclasses, even a brass band recital.



pier and overwater bungalows in Bocas del Toro Panama

Bocas del Toro on Panama’s Caribbean Coast. Photo: Costa Travel

Under-the-radar Panama has hotels and private villas on both the Caribbean and Pacific coastlines—which deserve to be better known for their diverse marine life and prime surfing spots—not to mention verdant highland landscapes, VIP Panama Canal tours for would-be engineers, and coffee and chocolate fincas that will welcome you for tours and tastes.



A view from the beginning of the hike towards Cocora Valley which is famous for its tall wax palm trees in Colombia

Cocora Valley, Colombia.

Colombia’s charms range from Bogota, sitting 8,000 feet up in the Andes, to Cartagena, with its charming walled Old City on the Caribbean coast. In between you’ll find boutique haciendas in the coffee regions, cable cars to scale the mountains around Medellin, and a rich diversity of wildlife. The interior cities are quieter over the holidays—a plus when it comes to exploring museums and navigating traffic—while places along the coast often demand multi-night stays. Not all of Cartagena’s beaches are alike; work with an expert to find the right strand for you.



Northern lights in Norway.

Enjoy a cozy holiday with your family in Norway: Ride a sled pulled by reindeer in search of the northern lights, go snowmobiling above the Arctic Circle, learn about the indigenous Sami culture, enjoy locally sourced meals inside your timber lodge or ice hotel, and warm up between outdoor pursuits in a wood-fired sauna.


The Maldives

Beautiful beach landscape with overwater bungalows Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives

Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives. Photo: Shutterstock

What better tropical getaway than jetting off to these idyllic islands in the Indian Ocean? Most are home to just a single resort, where you can spend your days snorkeling with manta rays, digging your toes into the sand at beachside restaurants, and relaxing in your private overwater bungalow. Pure bliss.


The Alps

Ski Resort of Corvara at Night, Alta Badia, Dolomites Alps, Italy

Corvara ski resort, Alta Badia, Dolomites Alps, Italy. Photo: Shutterstock

Wintertime Alpine fun comes in many flavors, from rustic huts on the Italian slopes to chic French ski towns to Zermatt’s après-ski scene. Whether you’re after a private guide to take you off-piste skiing, a hut-to-hut adventure, or a more civilized locale with options for non-skiiers, we can probably connect you with the right expert. Deciding between the Alps or a ski trip out west? You’ll pay more for the flights to Europe, but lift tickets there are considerably more affordable.



Gorgeous view of Teotihuacan, The Sun´s Pyramid surrounded by hot air balloons, shot take at the dawn.

Mexico City is vibrant with arts, restaurants, and parks—and the historic Teotihuacan pyramid is nearby too. Photo: Shutterstock

Our southern neighbor is a perennial favorite for the winter holidays, but several corners of the country still have good availability in December. Head to the Riviera Nayarit, north of Puerto Vallarta, or to Los Cabos for gorgeous beaches and great dining options. For an urban experience without the crowds (because the locals are all at the beach), try Mexico City, where the springlike weather brings warm days and cool evenings. Southeast of the capital is Puebla, known for its colonial history, colorful architecture, and culinary and art scenes. And on the Yucatán Peninsula there’s Mérida, a hotspot during both the Mayan and colonial eras, today rich in history and culture.


Galapagos Islands and Ecuador

Hacienda Zuleta, Ecuador. Photo: Hacienda Zuleta

Options are dwindling in the Galapagos for the holiday weeks, but availability is easier to come by at Galapagos hotels than for boat-based journeys. In mainland Ecuador, where December temperatures are in the 70s, it’s easy to combine Quito’s Old Town with a historic hacienda in the nearby Andean highlands, where you can explore craft villages, hike in ecological reserves, and horseback ride among quilt-like pastures.




machu picchu ruins

The ruins at Machu Picchu, Peru. Photo: Aracari

Imagine spending the holidays at Machu Picchu, or riding the rails in luxury on the Andean Explorer train line from Cusco to Lake Titicaca to Arequipa. There can be afternoon showers in Peru at this time of year, but smart planning can focus your outdoor activities on the mornings—you can even hike the last few miles of the Inca Trail and arrive at Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate, which has a spectacular, panoramic view of the ruins.


Safari in Botswana or Zimbabwe

Rhino-spotting on safari in Botswana. Photo: Brook Wilkinson

South Africa and Kenya may be booked up, but there’s still availability in Botswana and Zimbabwe, where December falls during the green season. In return for the possibility of an afternoon or evening rain shower you get lush vegetation (which makes for great photos), more prolific predators (because the grazing species are having their babies), and significantly lower rates at many camps and lodges.


Antarctica Cruises

Zodiac cruise through the ice, Antarctica. Photo: Abby Suplizio

Zodiac cruise through the ice, Antarctica. Photo: Abby Suplizio

If seeing wildlife is your goal, the latter half of December is the very best time to cruise to Antarctica. By then, thousands of penguins, including their fluffy chicks, have made their home along the coastline, the sea ice has usually broken up enough to allow great access, and the weather is generally better than earlier or later in the season.


Southeast Asia

Sri Panwa, Phuket, Thailand hotel pool

Sri Panwa, Phuket, Thailand.

2023 is Southeast Asia’s moment: Nonstop flights are coming back, and the crowds that descended on Europe this summer haven’t yet arrived. With so many great new hotels opening in Bangkok, it won’t be hard to find room over the holidays; there are still rooms aplenty in Hanoi and Saigon too. Flight options into Cambodia are more limited, but the reward is wide hotel availability in Siem Reap, and far fewer tourists at Angkor Wat than you’d have seen there in December 2019.


Bora Bora and Tahiti (French Polynesia)

Hiva Oa Marquesas Islands French Polynesia

The Aranui 5.

Many resorts are booked up for the period between Christmas and New Year’s, but you can still snag an idyllic overwater bungalow for the week leading up to Christmas. You can also still book a cabin on the Aranui 5, a supply boat that doubles as a passenger ship and sails 12-day itineraries through the remote Marquesas archipelago.


Europe’s Christmas Markets

Christmas tree and projected snowflake lights on a building at the Warsaw Christmas market in Warsaw Poland

Warsaw’s Christmas market. Photo: Polish Tourist Board

Many of Europe’s charming Christmas markets close on December 24, but a growing number are staying open past the holiday. That’s true at many markets in Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Belgium; in the Netherlands, the Amsterdam Light Festival runs all the way until January 22. A savvy specialist will work your itinerary to hit the markets that still have a truly local feel.


Sri Lanka

sigiriya rock Sri Lanka

Sigiriya Rock, Sri Lanka. Photo: Pixabay

Last year’s political unrest is over, but Sri Lanka has yet to see tourism bounce back. That’s great news for intrepid travelers: Many hotels aren’t charging peak rates, and the dollar is very strong against the rupee. Combine the country’s cultural landmarks with a scenic train ride through tea plantations in the hill country, then overnight in a tented “cocoon” near a national park that abuts the ocean and offers frequent leopard sightings.



Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

hammock between palm trees on a beach in Fiji with turquoise ocean in background

Solutions to the Most Common Covid Travel Concerns

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about travel during Covid:

Do I need to get tested before leaving the U.S., and how do I do it?

To enter certain countries, you need to show negative results from a Covid test taken within anywhere from 24 hours to a few days of your arrival. Check our list of entry rules by country for testing requirements and time frames. Then review your options (home-testing kits, in-person clinics, etc.) in How to Get a Quick Covid Test for Travel.

Do I need to get tested to return to the U.S.?

As of June 12, 2022, the CDC no longer requires a negative test to board a flight to the U.S.

If I should test positive during my trip, how long would I have to isolate?

The length of isolation depends on the country, so it’s a good idea to discuss this with your WOW List trip planner (and your insurance provider; see below).

In some places, you may be able to exit isolation early after getting a designated number of negative tests; in others, you’ll still have to complete the full term.

Where would I isolate?

It varies from country to country, but it’s often your hotel.  WendyPerrin.com travelers have even received free stays or room upgrades during their isolation.

Who pays the quarantine expenses?

It varies by location and also depends on whether and what travel insurance you bought. See more below about insurance, but also talk to your trip planner because they will know if the local government covers any of the costs.

If I test positive, can my travel companions fly home without me?

It depends on the rules in your destination; they may also need to self-certify with the airline that they haven’t been exposed.

What insurance do I get to protect myself?  Will it cover health care costs overseas, the hotel for quarantine, and getting me back home?

Each travel insurance provider is handling Covid differently. Many policies will cover Covid-related medical bills; some will reimburse a portion of quarantine-related expenses under their “Trip Delay” coverage.

We lay out all the big questions (and answers) in How to Buy Travel Insurance: What It Covers, When You Need It. But we recommend asking your WOW List expert if there’s a particular insurance they recommend: They will know if their country has specific requirements for insurance (as, for instance, Argentina and the Seychelles do), and they may also know of a policy that is better tailored for their location.

When it comes to medical evacuation, only a few services will transport travelers with Covid. To learn more about your options for that, read What Medical Evacuation Coverage Do You Need?.

The Best Way to See Egypt. Especially If You Don’t Like Boats.

I am not a boat person.

I have no interest in cruise ships, I’m not overly fond of short ferry rides either, and I’ve even gotten seasick on one of those supposedly too-big-to-rock, giant family-vacation ships…while it was moored for a special event. So when our WOW List Egypt expert Jim Berkeley tried to tell me that the Nile was so calm, and that my private six-cabin dahabiya sailboat would be so smooth that I wouldn’t even feel the movement, I dismissed him outright. People who don’t suffer from seasickness are not reliable sources.

But I wanted to go to Egypt, and I wanted to cruise the Nile, and they make drugs for this. So I packed a ton of anti-nausea medication and resigned myself to the expectation that I’d just be meclizine-dazed for four days. But I didn’t end up needing a single pill. What’s even crazier is that my time on the dahabiya turned out to be my favorite part of the whole trip. No one is more surprised than me.

I tell you all of this so that you’ll know that I am the last person who would steer you wrong about a boat vacation, and what I have to say on the topic is this: A dahabiya trip is the best way to experience Egypt.

Here are three reasons why.

It’s a breezy, outdoor experience.

Sailing on a dahabiya allows you to spend a good chunk of your day in the open air without overheating, despite the often-high temperatures in Egypt. My friends and I, along with the family of four from Belgium with whom we shared the boat, spent much of our time enjoying the views from the shaded top deck; that’s also where all of our meals were served. The cabins below deck were small, but none of us used them much except to sleep. Even so, they each had large windows (and two of the cabins had balconies) that allowed in plenty of fresh air. (You can see all my photos below.)

It feels very private and keeps you away from the crowds.

The boat’s small size allowed us to dock at sites where the mass-tourism Nile boats can’t. So we got to see several fascinating places completely alone. My favorite: the rock quarries of Gebel Silsileh, a valley that provided the stone for the famed ancient temples at Luxor, Karnak, and Kom Ombo, among others. We chose to hike to the quarry rather than ferry right to it from our boat (which is an option), and that turned out to be a really special morning. For two kilometers, we walked right along the stark border between the desert and the green fertile strip next to the river. I couldn’t take my eyes off that well defined natural line—except for when we were watching local farmers harvest dates and mangoes, and when an entire school of children poured out to their balconies to wave and shout hello to us.

Even when we visited the sights that all the boats go to, we usually were able to arrive before or after the rush—or on a different day entirely—since the big boats all follow a very rigid, fast-paced itinerary. (I recommend talking to your guide to find out what kind of flexibility you might have in your daily schedules; our guide sailed with us and that was a real perk.) For me, the trip felt like a relaxed meandering through off-the-beaten-path sites, rather than a to-do list of must-see temples.

It’s so relaxing and fun.

Our days quickly fell into a delicious rhythm: In the morning, we’d tour some fascinating sight, and then come back to the boat for lunch made fresh by our incredibly accommodating chef, Ali. Then we’d spend the rest of the day lounging around on the comfortably shaded open-air deck watching the green and yellow scenery go by. (As we got closer to Aswan, I saw more and more of the big ships, and very few of those had covered top decks—I couldn’t imagine how anyone could sit up there in Egypt’s strong sun.) At night, we’d feast again and then play games and talk until the generator went off around 10 or 11 and we all turned in for the night. In those four days, I laughed so much, and cemented friendships all across the boat.

Finally, one of the more subtle bonuses of the wind-powered dahabiya is how blissfully quiet it is. Every day I could hear the gentle splash of water against the hull, the ripple of the main sail in the breeze, and the afternoon call to prayer rising from villages on both sides of the river.

I’m not sure if all of this means I’m finally becoming a boat person. But I can say one thing for certain: I’m now definitely a dahabiya person.


We boarded the boat in a small village called Esna, just outside Luxor. At this point, I'm excited about the trip, but I'm also mentally preparing for motion sickness.
Cold hibiscus juice is a typical welcome drink in Egypt, and it's delicious—tart and refreshing. If you order it at a restaurant, ask them to go easy on the sugar; as our guide told us (and we soon learned for ourselves), Egyptians like their drinks to be very sweet.
Our home for the next four days. When we weren't touring on land or sleeping downstairs at night, we spent all of our time up here on the deck. We ate all our meals outside at the big dining table (except for one night when we had a picnic on land), and we read, lounged, talked, and played games in the various comfortable sitting areas. We had a wi-fi hot spot that went on with the generator (and lights and outlets) around 4pm each day and stayed on until sometime between 10pm and 11pm each night.
Egypt's iconic blue, green, and yellow view.
Me, not feeling the least bit seasick. I still can't believe it.
They even let me steer the boat.
But these guys did it much better.
A standard room. They're small (it is a boat, after all), but I was happy to see they all have such big breezy windows. I left them open during the day to air out the room, and then turned the air conditioner on for about an hour at night before the generator went off to cool down the room.
The two suites at the stern of the boat have balconies.
The balcony is great for lounging, reading, and napping, but consider yourself warned: If you happen to hang your laundry out here, sneaky crows might try to steal your socks. File under: Things I didn't know about boats. Or crows.
We sailed from Luxor to Aswan (the direction is south, but it's "up river"), and as we got closer to Aswan we saw more and more of these typical big white Nile cruise ships race by us.
What a dahabiya looks like next to one of those.
Our walk to the quarries of Gebel Silsileh. I took dozens of photos of the way the desert just ended and the narrow green jungle started. The green part wasn't that wide, and it ran all along the Nile like that.
Gebel Silsileh was one of my favorite stops. It was fascinating to see where giant blocks of sandstone had been carved out of the hills and imagine them being floated to Luxor to build the Karnak and Luxor temples we'd just seen days before. We were the only travelers at the site.
Our dahabiya docked at a site the big ships skip: Daraw market, where we stood in line behind a slew of locals to get our chance to sample handmade falafel.
The verdict: My friend said it was the best falafel he's ever eaten.
Of course I was more interested in the candy vendor across the way. Verdict: very sweet and very chewy.
Sails up, stresses gone. I'll miss this dahabiya lifestyle.


Transparency disclosure: So that I could experience Egypt, WOW Lister Jim Berkeley arranged reduced rates for my trip. Everything I did on my trip is accessible to every traveler who contacts Jim via Wendy’s WOW questionnaire. Thanks to Wendy’s WOW system, you’ll get marked as a VIP traveler.

Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

Why You Should Go to Egypt Now

Egypt is on most people’s bucket list, and with good reason: 5,000 year-old feats of engineering genius, fascinating historical drama, rich traditions and culture. While the pyramids and temples will still be around if you wait a few years to go, right now you can experience them in a rare and special way. I traveled in Egypt for two weeks at the end of October (you can see more of my photos here and here) and am so glad I did. Here’s why it felt comfortable to me during Covid:

Almost all the sights are open air.

Nearly every place you’ll visit in Egypt is outdoors. So whether I was at the Great Pyramid of Giza or the soaring mountain temple of Hatshepsut (the only female pharaoh), the grounds were so sprawling that they rarely felt crowded. I remember when we arrived at the temple of Kom Ombo on the Nile, there were maybe half a dozen large cruise boats clustered right outside (which was still fewer than the 20 or so you could expect in pre-pandemic times), and I expected to find all of those tourists clogging my path. But once we passed through the entrance arch, I was surprised. Everyone had dispersed throughout the grounds.

Obligatory shot of me at the pyramids at Giza—and it really was this empty. We saw some crowds at the entrance to the tomb inside the Great Pyramid, but we skipped that because (a) Covid and (b) we were going to see some much more impressive tombs later in our trip. And we did.
Not only was the Sphinx area free of the usual crowds, we had an additional VIP perk: We got to walk right up to its paws rather than view the famed man-lion from the elevated distant viewing platforms (you can see a group there across the way).
I even got to sit right between its paws, and walk all the way around the perimeter, see its tail (I didn’t even know it had a tail!) and shine a flashlight into a hole at the base where archaeologists had dug to see if there was anything under the statue. (Spoiler: There wasn't.)
tour guide teaching traveler to read hieroglyphs in Setau's tomb in El Kab Egypt
I learned to read a few hieroglyphs!
When we landed in Luxor city, we went straight to Karnak Temple, and it was the most crowded place we visited. But our guide had an idea to save the rest of the day: Continue right on to the air-conditioned Luxor Museum and the Luxor Temple (pictured), because while all the other tourists would be eating lunch and checking into their hotels, we would have those two places to ourselves.
view of Abu Simbel mountain temples in Egypt
Abu Simbel’s grounds are sprawling, so even though we flew there with a full plane of maybe 100 travelers, it didn’t feel like that many people once we were on the ground. Plus, since we were a small private trio rather than a big bus group, we were quicker out of the airport and got to the temples before them so we had the place to ourselves for a short while.

Most places aren’t crowded.

The fact is that almost everyone who goes to Egypt follows the same route. Unless you’re going to the beach resorts on the Sinai Peninsula, you’re on the well-trodden track between Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan, probably with part of the trip spent on a boat. And yet, I rarely felt like I was one of those masses being led along a conveyer belt.

Thanks to the pandemic, the world’s most popular places are not as busy as they’ve been in the past because tourism isn’t back up to its usual numbers. Egypt is no exception, and this holiday season is likely to be one of the most enjoyable as a result. The Great Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx are two of the most visited tourist sights in the world, but when I was there in mid-October, they had less than 50% of their usual number of visitors. The temple of Abu Simbel had less than 25%.

The few crowded places can be made uncrowded by the right local fixer.

At the Giza Plateau, my savvy local guide assigned by WOW List Egypt specialist Jim Berkeley arranged special access to the Sphinx’s paws. Regular visitors have to view the famous lion-pharaoh from an elevated distant road, but we were able to saunter right up to its feet, stand under its imposing noseless face, and even stroll around the entire perimeter of its body (have you ever seen the Sphinx’s tail? I hadn’t!). After that, he led us along unconventional routes through the park so that we rarely saw other travelers until we headed back to the main entrance. Then, on the day we flew to Luxor, he suggested we hit Luxor Temple over the lunch hour, when all the other tourists would be eating and checking into their hotels. And he was right.

Even before our trip began, Jim had orchestrated the timing of our itinerary right from the get-go so that it could alternate with the timing of the mass-group trips where possible. For example, while the big Nile boats all race to pre-set stops and unload at the same time on the same days, our nimble, private dahabiya boat could mosey up to those same stops after the big groups had all gone, or on a different day entirely.

“Indoor” sights are Covid-manageable.

While most temples I visited were completely open to the elements (except for a small few where the roofs were still amazingly intact), the tombs were enclosed, meaning you’ll descend staircases into underground rooms (as at Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens) or duck into nooks carved into the side of mountains (as at the ancient necropolis of El-Kab).

Even so, I found every tomb manageable in terms of my own comfort with Covid. If there was a group inside, I could always wait to enter until they came out. Keep in mind that some tombs are manned by a local “caretaker” who will enthusiastically point out artwork details and side rooms you may not have noticed, offer to take your photo, and expect a few Egyptian pounds in return. He will also, most likely, not be wearing a mask. But since I was double-masked and vaccinated, and in most tombs for only a few minutes, I didn’t mind. In fact, I really enjoyed those interactions: It’s always fun to meet locals and try to have piecemeal conversations. What’s more, tourism has been thin during the pandemic and these guys have been out of work—and they were clearly happy to have us back.

Pharoah Seti’s tomb (ca. 1279 BC) is one of the deepest tombs in the Valley of the Kings and it has incredibly vibrant paint colors and detailed artwork. My guide took me to the Valley really early one morning (we were there by 7:30am), and there was only one other group in the entire area. I had Seti’s multi-room resting place to myself, except for the caretaker and a trio of academics who were 3-D scanning the tomb for the Factum Foundation and showed me how it worked. So cool!

In all of my trip, there was no place where I felt stuck in a Covid situation I couldn’t easily remedy. And that includes the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which was the only place that really felt unsafe to me, due to its lack of air conditioning, hot rooms with no air flow, and swarms of large international tour groups who didn’t wear masks. But even there, I wasn’t trapped—I could just leave. And I did. Although my private guide did his best to navigate around the masses inside the Museum, and offered to bring us back at the end of the day when it might be less crowded, I opted to leave and wait outside, happily resting in the shade and reading my book about the history of the Nile. In contrast, my two friends felt comfortable enough to remain inside—so, again, it’s a personal decision. (And one that will be a moot point once the enormous Grand Egyptian Museum opens, sometime in 2022.)

You can use private guides and drivers who are vaccinated.

Each of our guides and drivers was vaccinated and wore a mask religiously. Even if the three of us travelers in the back took ours off, they kept theirs on. Hotel staff wore masks too (as well as gloves at some of the hotel restaurants). But other than that, very few people in Egypt—both Egyptians and international tourists—wore masks. (Although I could always spot an American group, because they all wore their masks.) But like I said above, the lack of masks rarely affected me because we were outside so much and, when I went indoors, I put mine on.

You can stick to hotel rooms that have balconies or windows that open.

Now that I’m traveling again during the Covid era, I prefer to stay in hotels that are well ventilated. A great view doesn’t hurt either. During my two weeks in Egypt, I stayed in four hotels, and each room had a balcony or window that opened.

At the Four Seasons Cairo, my balcony overlooked the Nile. In Luxor, Jim smartly put us in a hotel on the west bank of the river (the charming, courtyard-dotted Al Moudira)—which meant we were only a 20-minute drive from the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, rather than 45 if we’d stayed on the east bank like all the big tour groups. In Aswan, we stayed at the gorgeous and storied Old Cataract Hotel, where Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile, and enjoyed large balconies with views of Aswan’s tropical section of the Nile and the uniquely shaped rocks of Elephantine Island across the way. Even our airport-adjacent hotel on our last night in Cairo, the InterContinental City Stars Hotel, had two “Juliet”-style terraces with sliding-glass doors I could open for airflow.

A word of caution: In Cairo, most restaurants are indoors only. And people smoke. However, I’ve already been eating indoors in New York for months, and I felt that the restaurants we ate at in Cairo were less crowded than at home.

The view from my balcony at The Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan. That's Elephantine Island across the river, where you can walk through the remnants of an ancient village.
My room at The Old Cataract.
The charming, green-filled courtyard of Al Moudira in Luxor where we ate all our meals.
I loved the design of Al Moudira—a mix of ochres and bright gemstone colors, plus patios and outdoor sitting nooks all over the place. This indoor lounge shows the decor really well but whether due to Covid or the warm nights, all the guests preferred to hang out in the courtyard.
My balcony view at the Four Seasons Cairo Nile Plaza. It was fascinating to chart how different the river looked as we traveled south.
We spent our last night close to the airport at the InterContinental Cairo City Stars. We hung out by the pool and ate dinner at an open-air Egyptian restaurant that looked onto the pool deck. The hotel is also attached to an enormous, modern indoor mall and we explored that too.


There’s availability aboard private dahabiya boats that keep you from the crowds and get you to special sights.

We spent morning exploring ancient sights, and afternoons lounging on our own private boat.

Jim recommended I sail up the Nile on a dahabiya—a shallow-bottomed boat powered by two sails—and now I know why it is the best way to experience the Nile. For one thing, these smaller vessels can maneuver into ports that the big boats can’t access, which meant I got to visit more off-the-conveyer-belt sights. It also meant that when we did hit the big-ticket spots, we usually arrived before or after the rigidly scheduled times that the larger Nile boats have to follow. For another, I felt very Covid-comfortable onboard our floating home. My small group of three shared this boat with only one other party (a family of four from Belgium, who had told us they were vaccinated by the time we had our first afternoon tea) and the small crew (also vaccinated, as required by the government). After mornings of touring, we spent almost all our time outdoors on the covered, open-air deck, whether we were eating meals cooked fresh by our very accommodating private chef, relaxing in the many chaises longues, or talking and playing games with our new friends long into the night.

Egypt is simply amazing.

As I walked, dazed, through all the temples and tombs on our trip, I said “amazing” so many times that it became a running joke with our guide—each of us trying to outdo the other with better synonyms. Spectacular. Astounding. Incredible. Awesome. No matter what words we came up with, the experience of getting so close to Egypt’s ancient manmade marvels, and seeing the enduring details (and unexpectedly bright paint) of their artwork, is truly special. And to be able to do all that without battling crowds or jockeying for views between the heads of a hundred other visitors…well, that truly was amazing.




Transparency disclosure: So that I could experience Egypt, WOW Lister Jim Berkeley arranged reduced rates for my trip. Everything I did on my trip is accessible to every traveler who contacts Jim via Wendy’s WOW questionnaire. Thanks to Wendy’s WOW system, you’ll get marked as a VIP traveler.


Be a smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. Read real travelers’ reviews, then use the black CONTACT buttons on Wendy’s WOW List to reach out to the right local fixer for your trip.

Abbot BinaxNow antigen home test for Covid, laid out on a laptop computer

My Covid Test Experience Flying Home from Egypt

We get a lot of questions from travelers about how to manage the Covid testing needed to return to the U.S. after an international trip. When I was coming back from Egypt, it was on my mind too.

I’d originally packed a few self-administered, video-monitored eMed rapid antigen tests because I knew that they are CDC-approved, and I liked the idea of being able to get immediate results at the time of my own choosing, which turned out to be midnight. The whole process—from logging on with an eMed official to receiving the results—took me about 25 minutes (35 if you count the time it took me to call the hotel concierge and get my result printed and delivered to my room).

But since I also knew from my previous international pandemic-era trips (and from Wendy’s and Brook’s too) that the real gatekeepers of who gets to board a plane are the airline staff at check-in, I decided to test out these “at-home” tests vs. a standard PCR.

So I did some research. First, I emailed Egypt Air’s customer service center and received a response saying that they would accept antigen, NAAT, RT-LAMP, RT-PCR or TMA tests. Great!

But that response was in contrast to what I was hearing from some people on the ground in Egypt, who were saying that EgyptAir would only accept a PCR test.


Hedging on the side of caution, the WOW List Trusted Travel Expert for Egypt who planned my trip, Jim Berkeley, has all his travelers take PCRs. And he makes it super easy: A doctor comes right to your hotel, emails you the results, and then you get the printed-out results on your way to the airport.

To test out what would really happen at the airport, I took both tests. At airport check-in, I handed the first gatekeeper my eMed antigen results. I had the PCR results in my bag too, just in case I needed it, but it turned out that I didn’t. He waved me through. Then, when I approached the desk, I handed that agent my eMed antigen results too. She didn’t even blink an eye, even though the two friends I was traveling with handed her PCR documentation.

The moral? You have options for testing, and they’re all easy and don’t take much time or energy. I recommend you talk to your WOW List trip planner to find out if they know any additional local information, but don’t stress about it. Getting tested to come home is simple and should not keep you from getting back out there when you’re ready.

Abbot BinaxNow antigen home test for Covid, laid out on a laptop computer
The kit comes in the box on the left. When it's time, you log into the eMed website, and a representative guides you throgh the process. I held the test's QR code up to the camera, and then had to tilt my laptop screen so he could see the test as I prepared it. Next I tilted the screen up so he could monitor me as I swabbed my nose.
negative result of a rapid antigen covid test from self-adminisered eMed Abbot Binax covid testing kit
After 10 minutes, a guide came back on the call, had me position the card so they could see it through my laptop camera and confirmed that it was indeed negative. A few minutes later, I had the results in my inbox.
traveler's feet on balcony of Old Cataract Hotel room in Aswan Egypt Overlooking the Nile and elephantine island
It was nearly midnight when I took my test—but if I'd done it earlier in the day, this would have been my view while taking it.


My additional thoughts

eMed test

Pros: They’re easy and fast. They’re also economical if you are traveling with family or a group, because they’re sold as a pack of six for $150. You can also re-test yourself immediately if you get an invalid result or positive result you suspect is false. The video process is smooth and uncomplicated, and I didn’t have to wait at all before being connected to my “test guide,” even though I called in at midnight.

Cons: The test boxes are bulky and, per eMed instructions, they must be packed in your carry-on. So depending how many you take with you, that could be annoying. Once you get the emailed results, you’ll have to ask your TTE team or your hotel to print them out for you. Also, while this isn’t really a con, note that you must have access to strong enough wifi to support a 25-minute video call (you can use your phone or laptop).

PCR test

Pros: They’re easy and require no thought on your part. Most WOW Listers can arrange to have a medical worker come to your hotel and administer the test at a time that won’t interrupt your day and then have the results sent to you by email and printed out for you.

Cons: You may have to wait a day or two to get your results. In Egypt, I had them the next morning; but in Greece, it took two days (partly because the doctor had misspelled my name and I had to have that corrected). Also, the cost can add up. My Greece test cost 100 euros (about $115). In Egypt, it cost me $73. In both cases, I had to pay in cash.


Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

Staying Safe in a Global City: Wendy’s Trip to Istanbul

I’m just back from Istanbul, where I checked out how an iconic global crossroads has learned to manage Covid for the throngs of travelers who have continued coming here almost throughout the pandemic. Unlike the great majority of countries, Turkey has been welcoming international travelers for more than a year now, and when it got ready to vaccinate its citizens, it chose to vaccinate everyone in its travel industry first. This means that everyone who has regular contact with tourists is double-vaccinated. Turkey’s caseload is lower than the caseload back home (Turkey is currently averaging 23 cases per 100,000 people, vs. 47 cases per 100,000 in the U.S.), and its vaccination rate is catching up to that of the United States (57% of Turkey’s population has received one shot, vs. 61% in the US).

Turkey is a country where it’s easy to eat every meal outdoors—in the spring, summer, or fall—and to focus your sightseeing outside too, as the country is an outdoor museum. The first portion of this family trip—our sail in a private boat along the Turquoise Coast—was a Covid-safe experience from start to finish. Istanbul was more challenging: It’s a big, bustling city full of museums, mosques, and other indoor spaces that are tourist magnets, some with single-entry points. Since this was my fifth trip to Turkey, I’ve got a good sense of what’s normal for travelers in Istanbul, which helped as I investigated what’s changed, what hasn’t, what’s open, what’s closed, what’s safe, what’s not, what’s easy, what’s hard, and how to enjoy one of the world’s most vibrant and exotic cities to the max while staying safe. If you’d like to take a trip like mine, or plan one anywhere else in the world, contact us via the black buttons on The WOW List. In the meantime, enjoy my photos!

My number-one hotel tip

Book hotel rooms with balconies (or at least windows that open) for ventilation and where you can eat your breakfast (typically included in your hotel price) outdoors.  It’s easy to eat all your meals outdoors in the spring, summer, or fall. And, of course, spend time in neighborhoods where the throngs of tourists aren’t.  Check out these scenes from our stroll through Üsküdar, on the Asian side of Istanbul. When there wasn’t enough space on the sidewalks to stay socially distanced, people just walked in the street (which were empty enough for it). Check out our lunch too: We ate indoors, but next to a big window with a strong breeze, at Ismet Baba Fish Restaurant.

At night, we watched sunset turn to night from Mikla restaurant on the roof of The Marmara Pera. In how many restaurants can you sit in Europe and overlook Asia?!

The one indoor thing you do not want to miss

Turkey is a country where it’s easy to do most things in the open air—including dining and sightseeing—but there’s one indoor thing you do not want to miss: Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. When we went to the Grand Bazaar, it was mid-afternoon, and the main passageways were crowded, with about 20% of the people not wearing their masks. It was ventilated, though—the windows were open, and cool air was blowing through—and it was pretty easy to quickly access offshoot passageways that were nearly empty and the occasional open-air courtyard (both pictured). My advice:  Go to the Grand Bazaar at 9 am, when the shops start to open and there are the fewest people.


And if it gets too crowded…

If the Grand Bazaar gets too crowded, head to safe havens nearby. One block away sits Orient Handmade, a clean, spacious, professional, trusted carpet emporium where we acquired a little souvenir.


How to see the Spice Bazaar safely

Thanks to Covid protocols in place, Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar feels safe to me. It wasn’t at all crowded when we went at 10 am. (Go when the shops open in the morning, instead of in the busier afternoons.) The bazaar’s windows were open, and cool air was blowing through. At the entrances are hand disinfectant dispensers, and they check the temperature of every person entering (see demonstration by yours truly). Plus the shops we purchased tea and spices from served us out of sanitized bins in the back, rather than from the display areas up front.



How to visit Hagia Sophia safely

Hagia Sophia means “holy wisdom,” but when we visited, there were a lot of unwise people inside not wearing masks (about 20%). The mosque was closed for disinfection when we first arrived—apparently they disinfect every couple of hours—and we were told to come back in half an hour. At about 1:00 pm when we returned, it was impossible to stay 1.5 meters away from other people (1.5 meters = 4.9 feet = the social distancing that Turkish signs advise). This was on a Monday in August, so it was a peak day and month. Lesson learned: Go when it’s least crowded, which is first thing in the morning—8 or 9 am—and not on a Friday. (And, given how many people are removing their shoes, remember which shelf you left yours on!)


My favorite mosque in Istanbul

The Sülimaniye Mosque has always been my favorite mosque in Istanbul: It’s bright and pretty and peaceful, with panoramic views and airy gardens. When we visited at a peak time for sightseers (midday on a weekday in August), it was uncrowded and well ventilated and felt Covid-safe. By contrast, the Blue Mosque was the most jam-packed and stuffy place we visited in Istanbul, with no social distancing—AND it’s under restoration, so there’s little to see. So, during Covid, you might skip the Blue Mosque in favor of Sülimaniye.


What it’s like at Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace! Social distancing wasn’t really possible in the security line, which is the single entry point to the Palace, but it’s a quick line and outdoors. It was better than an airport security line!  After that, the crowd disperses. The arms and relics rooms were hopping, but the Harem and the Sultan’s bedroom were empty. Check out the Topkapi Dagger!


Transparency disclosure: So that I could experience Istanbul on your behalf, WOW Lister Karen Fedorko Sefer arranged for complimentary accommodations and transportation in Istanbul. Everything I did on my trip is accessible to every traveler who contacts Karen via my WOW questionnaire. Thanks to my WOW system, you’ll get marked as a VIP traveler.



We’re Here to Help

Right now is a remarkable opportunity for global travelers. When your friends say that travel is problematic as a result of the pandemic—rental cars aren’t available, service even at 5-star hotels is shoddy—the problem is they’re not planning their trips right! Travel can be spectacular now if you choose the right destination, know the savviest local fixers, and approach them the optimal way. Check out these recent trip reviews to see the difference that Wendy’s WOW approach to trip planning makes. And if you’re looking for a similarly carefree travel experience, contact us at Ask Wendy.

Barcelona Spain beach-June 2021

Barcelona Without the Crowds and Cruise Ships

Barcelona Spain beach-June 2021
Barcelona's beach was lively, even at 9:30 at night.
Barcelona Spain Sagrada Familia - market outside
But there were so few crowds at Gaudi's famous Sagrada Familia church that a market popped up outside. In pre-pandemic times, this street would have been elbow-to-elbow with tourists.
Barcelona Spain Sagrada Familia 1-June 2021 interior
I was mesmerized by the light coming through the stained glass windows. I never would have been able to take this picture in 2019. There would have been throngs of people all through this corridor.
Barcelona Spain Sagrada Familia interior
This was as crowded as it got in the main part of the nave.
Barcelona Spain Las Ramblas-June 2021
Las Ramblas were wide open.
Barcelona Spain Gotchic quarter street-June 2021
So were the tiny streets in the Gothic Quarter, which made it so much more enjoyable to wander and visit the shops.
Barcelona Spain La Boqueria Market June 2021
La Boqueria market was calm and I had plenty of space (partly because I visited late in the day).
people eating outside of vBasilica of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona Spain
But it's not like the city was empty or deserted — it was lively in all the ways you'd want it to be. People were eating at a cute café outside the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar.
Barcelona Spain port restaurants-June 2021
They were having late dinner at the restaurants along the port.
Barcelona Spain Vila Viniteca food
I ate well too. At Vila Viniteca, my guide and I sat for nearly two hours with one of the shop's managers, just getting to know each other and tasting delicious Spanish cheeses and wines and fresh salad. That's tomato bread on the left, a simple yet delicious Catalan tapas of grilled bread, fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and salt served everywhere in Barcelona.
Barcelona Spain Vila Viniteca market with tomatoes-June 2021
But, as my guide pointed out, you have to use the right tomatoes for it.
3 women posing at La Manual Alpargatera, oldest espadrilles shop in Barcelona
Every shopkeeper I spoke to was thrilled that travelers were starting to come back. At La Manual Alpargatera, the oldest espadrille maker in Barcelona, the staff even applauded me and I got a special tour of the shop and even learned a bit about shoemaking!
Barcelona Spain La Plata tapas restaurant with bartender
The tapas and pintxos crawl experience is a little different because of the pandemic. At La Plata, beers are served in plastic cups and you have to order from your table.
Barcelona Spain Sagardi tapas restaurant with covered food-June 2021
And at Sagardi, the tapas are kept behind glass — you can no longer just grab them off the counter yourself. But the food is still delicious, and I saw many groups of friends out at night to grab a drink and a skewered snack.
Barcelona Spain Serras Hotel room
I found it so interesting (and helpful) that you can eat dinner earlier these days, if you prefer. Restaurants started opening earlier during the pandemic to account for curfews (now lifted), and so far they are continuing that trend. I wasn't able to stay up as late as a true Barcelonian, but maybe that was because I had this cool hotel room to come back to at The Serras.
Barcelona Spain Serras Hotel room-June 2021
The Serras Hotel is where Picasso had his first studio in Barcelona. The building overlooks the ocean, has a cool mod design, and my room had two balconies and a bathtub with a view!


When I posted photos of my experience at Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, taken just a few days after the country had reopened, the comments I got back were full of awe. Not awe of the eye-popping details of Antoni Gaudí’s elaborate and famously unfinished church, but of the lack of people crowding into it.

The Sagrada Familia is the biggest tourism draw in Barcelona (and arguably, in Spain), but if you were to visit now, you may not even realize it. Because as Spain welcomes back visitors, there is a special opportunity: You can have it to yourself. Travelers arriving directly from the U.S. don’t even need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. All we have to do is fill out one simple health declaration form.

Barcelona, in particular, feels different as it emerges from the pandemic—in the best way possible. The Gothic Quarter isn’t clogged with tourists, you can actually stroll along Las Ramblas rather than be pushed along by the swarm, La Boqueria Market is calmer, shopkeepers have time to chat, restaurants are open for dinner earlier than usual so you don’t have to wait until 10pm to eat (though you can—there’s no curfew in Spain!), and museums have plenty of tickets.

The major reason for this change? No cruise ships. In years past, Barcelona had been Europe’s busiest cruise destination (more than 800 ships docked there in 2019), and the city’s mayor, neighborhood groups, and local organizations were all working to limit the swarm. Now, as a result of the pandemic, cruises are still extremely limited throughout the country. And when I visited in mid-June, I didn’t spot a single ship in the harbor (which I could take in from my balcony at the lovely Serras Hotel).

The beach, however, was buzzing. Masks are no longer required outdoors in Spain, and Barcelonians were reveling in the open air and warm weather. In fact, all of Barcelona had the vibe of a summer beach town that hadn’t been slowed down at all by the pandemic. At 9:30 pm on a Sunday, people were still out on the sand, playing beach volleyball, picnicking, and hanging out by the water. The restaurants and bars that line the beach and port were all open, and a few blocks away, in the little neighborhood of Barceloneta, spots were even livelier, dotted with groups of friends laughing, reconnecting, and watching football. The whole scene felt alive and fresh in a way that only a beach city can be—and after a year and a half in insular, cramped New York, I breathed deeper and more freely than I thought possible.

As I talked to locals (not only my guides, but shopkeepers, waiters, hotel staff, bartenders, cheesemongers, candymakers, cobblers), I realized they were no longer holding their breath either. Barcelonians are happy to have us back. If you’d asked them the same question in 2018 or 2019, you might have heard grumbles about the overwhelming waves of tourists spilling through the city. But now, the warmth is palpable.

In fact, the staff at one store (the oldest espadrille shop in Barcelona) were so happy to have international travelers back that they applauded me when they learned I was visiting from the U.S. I then spent an hour hanging out with them, learning about the store’s history, and swapping stories about our pandemic experiences. It was one of many moments during my two weeks in Europe that made me realize that (a) masks cannot hinder true connection and (b) the pandemic gave us travelers the unexpected gift of common ground with everyone we meet no matter where we go. And that’s not a downer—it’s common ground people were eager to discuss. Especially, if you’re chatting over a spread of Spanish wines and cheeses, which I did for a couple hours at Vila Viniteca, a wine distributor, shop and market founded in 1932 where I sat in a private wine cellar with my guide Veronica and a couple staff members as we sampled their wares.

If you find yourself grazing through Barcelona’s many snack spots like I did, be sure to save room for pintxos and tapas, because the restaurants are definitely open and ready for hungry guests. During the pandemic, they started opening earlier to accommodate an earlier curfew. But now that the curfew is lifted, many are still choosing to open at 7 or 8pm in order to serve more people (and, hopefully, make more money). When I visited, QR menus were the norm, and instead of grabbing snacks off an open bar, you had to sit and order at your table (you can read more about my tapas experience in Madrid), but the food was still delicious and the gregarious, fun atmosphere was still there, the crowds were merely smaller and had moved outside into the cool air.

Getting there

In addition to easy access to culture, food, and camaraderie, the logistics of getting to and from Barcelona are easy too. I flew into Barcelona from Paris, and filled out the required health declaration form online, received a QR code by email a few seconds later, and then showed it at a health-security checkpoint after deplaning. Totally hassle-free.

I also took a three-hour train ride from Barcelona to Madrid, and it could not have been easier or more relaxing. I booked my ticket online and I chose the quiet car for two reasons: First, so that I wouldn’t have to listen to loud talkers on their cell phones the whole way, but also as an added safety measure, since talking spreads particles and the train windows didn’t open. That said, I wasn’t too worried: I am vaccinated, and all passengers and staff were required to wear masks, plus I had a two-seater to myself, as did everyone else in my car. The train ride ended up being a surprisingly restful and enjoyable little break. It was very comfortable (air-conditioned, smooth, and nearly silent), and the scenery of villages and vineyards passing by was beautiful.

But even as I was pulling out of Barcelona, I was already missing it. The city is coming alive now, and it’s having a kind of aaaah moment to stretch, sparkle, and rejuvenate. Travelers who can get there soon, before all of the mass tourists and cruise ship passengers flood back in, will be revitalized by that energy (not to mention the joy of being in the Sagrada Familia without fighting for space and sightlines). We’ve all just spent more than a year living through the bad side of Covid; for pete’s sake, take advantage and reward yourself with the one upside.

Transparency disclosure: So that I could investigate Spain on your behalf, The Serras Hotel provided two nights’ complimentary accommodations, and Virginia Irurita arranged for two private guiding experiences.


Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

3 women posing at La Manual Alpargatera, oldest espadrilles shop in Barcelona

What I Learned About People from Traveling During Covid

3 women posing at La Manual Alpargatera, oldest espadrilles shop in Barcelona
Asilde, me, and Aurora
exterior shop view of La Manual Alpargatera, oldest espadrilles shop in Barcelona
worker at work table at La Manual Alpargatera, oldest espadrilles shop in Barcelona
shoe molds on shelf at La Manual Alpargatera, oldest espadrilles shop in Barcelona
wall of shoes up to the ceiling at La Manual Alpargatera, oldest espadrilles shop in Barcelona
queue ticket numbers in shape of shoes at La Manual Alpargatera, oldest espadrilles shop in Barcelona
photo of owners meeting pope in backroom at La Manual Alpargatera, oldest espadrilles shop in Barcelona


I’ve never been applauded in a store before. But that’s what happened about a minute after I walked into La Manual Alpargatera, the oldest espadrille shop in Barcelona. A few seconds into my broken-Spanish chit-chat with the clerk who’d come over to help me, she realized I was visiting from America…and a bright smile suddenly lit up her entire face. No mask could hide it.

She called out to her two colleagues who were busy making espadrilles by hand at the back table, pointed at me excitedly, and announced that I was here from the U.S. The next thing I know, they’re clapping, we’re all laughing, and my new BFF Aurora is introducing me to Asilde and Alberto, who tell me that it’s been more than a year since they’ve had a traveler from America in the shop.

Asilde is the owner’s wife, and she serves as my translator for the next hour as I talk to the trio about what it’s been like for them during the pandemic, learn a few fun facts about espadrille history and construction, and get a guided tour through the 80-year-old shop (which includes a large framed photo of Asilde’s father-in-law meeting the Pope, who bought a pair of their shoes).

Before the pandemic, Asilde explained, the store would be so busy that all 51 of the espadrille-shaped, numbered queue tickets would be taken—and they’d need even more. But during the hour I spent with them, only three other people came in. Fortunately, now that Spain is open to U.S. travelers and its Covid restrictions are easing (no quarantine or testing is required for vaccinated travelers; no masks are required outdoors as of June 26; indoor dining is permitted) it’s only a matter of time before travelers and cruise ships return to Barcelona and businesses like La Manual Alpargatera begin to recover.

Of course I bought a pair of espadrilles (with Aurora’s expert help and everyone’s feedback on styles), but the thing I’ll remember most about that afternoon is how uplifting and heartening it was. I laughed and bonded with three perfect strangers, simply because we had all just emerged from a difficult, shared global experience.

Turns out, something quite surprising and good is coming out of this pandemic—and it’s the dismantling of the wall between “tourist” and “local.” Everywhere I went on this trip, I had immediate common ground with the people I met, Equally surprising, what we had in common—a familiar tale of suffering and survival—wasn’t a downer.

Guides, shop keepers, ticket takers, even a baker in Madrid and a hotel maid in Paris, were eager to share their stories and hear mine. Regardless of whether we spoke the same language, we understood one another because we’ve all been through similar things—like when Olga, a maid at my Paris hotel, blanked on the name of a famous museum and then tapped her head three times, repeating the French for “Covid brain.” I’d never heard that term spoken in French before, but I knew exactly what she meant. We both burst out laughing.

Maybe you’d expect that all the mask mandates and social distancing rules would make it harder to forge any real human connections; maybe you’d think that if a person’s mouth and nose are hidden, you won’t be able to have a meaningful conversation. But that was not my experience at all. In fact, it was the opposite. After being cooped up and isolated from one another for so long, most people I met seemed to crave and appreciate human connection more than ever. Bittersweetly, we now all have the past difficult year and the upcoming brighter one as common ground to build on. Travelers especially will get to understand more about this strange moment in time and the people around the world who are going through it. And, maybe if they walk into the right shop or take the time to look at the Paris skyline with a hotel housekeeper, they’ll also make a friend.


Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

Parthenon Acropolis Greece

What Athens is Like Right Now

Greece opened to U.S. travelers on May 15, and I flew there this week to see what it’s really like to be there now. First stop: Athens, where tourism had skyrocketed so high in 2019 that it caused concern about overcrowding. But as I peered out from the Acropolis, there was not a cruise ship to be seen in the port, and sights that would have been mobbed in pre-pandemic times were lively but comfortable. Here’s a tour through Athens and some insight into what has changed and what hasn’t.

The Acropolis

It’s the sight in Athens, of course, and it’s a good barometer for the tourism scene. As I walked up with my guide, Ifigenia, she remarked that, in pre-pandemic times, the wide path we were following would have been a sea of people. In fact, Greece had broken its own tourism records in 2019, topping 34 million visitors, and if you were at the Acropolis that summer, it would have felt like every single one of them was there (especially on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which were cruise ship arrival days). The Acropolis in June 2021 is a stark contrast: At 10:30 am on a Friday, the ticket area, main entrance, and trails around the monuments were only sparsely peppered with people. I never had to jostle with anyone to get a good view or worry about anyone accidentally walking into my photos. Ifigenia got a kick out of the fact that we could simply stop walking at certain spots so that she could point out architectural details; before the pandemic, the momentum of the crowd would not have allowed for standing in place like that.

Logistics were easy: You can walk up to the ticket office and just buy your ticket—no advance online purchase necessary, no timed entries, no limited capacity. I do wonder if all of that will stay the same as the crowds build up again in the future, but for now the only rules I saw were: (1) You had to be masked (keep your ears open for a whistle: that’s the cue that someone is getting scolded for not having one on). (2) There was a limit to the number of people who could be at one particular lookout point. (3) Group tours are supposed to be limited to 14 (but we saw one that numbered 16).

Empty path to the Acropolis Athens Greece
My guide and I walked this path from the street below to the ticket booth and entrance to the Acropolis site. On a busy pre-pandemic day, the ticket line could stretch down it.
The Odeon of Herodes Atticus at the Acropolis Athens Greece
At this point along the path through the Acropolis, there'd normally be a line of people taking photos of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.
Acropolis Athens Greece small crowd at main entrance (1)
These stairs to enter the main area of the ruins are usually packed with people.
Parthenon Acropolis Greece
Without all the crowds, I had no trouble finding a shady bench to relax on while my guide told me stories of Athena and Poseidon. No way those benches would have been empty in 2019.
selfie of a woman wearing a mask in front of the Parthenon at the Acropolis in Athens Greece
Everyone had to wear masks as they toured the ruins at the Acropolis, even though we were outside. And everyone did.
A guard limited the number of people allowed on this lookout point.
The rooftop restaurant at the Hotel Grand Bretagne has a clear view to the Acropolis.
The rooftop restaurant at the Hotel Grand Bretagne has a clear view to the Acropolis.


The Acropolis Museum

This beautiful, modern-looking museum is a great compliment to the ruins on the Acropolis—it’s ingeniously built with glass floors overlooking excavations too—and it is open pretty much as usual. You can get tickets online or at the desk when you walk in. I felt comfortable being indoors, as masks are required and there is a capacity limit\\. Besides, the space is sprawling and the ceilings are high, so even when there were other people around me, we were able to keep plenty of distance, and most of the layout is open—no small galleries or low ceilings. The museum’s outdoor restaurant is open too. Just a few areas and amenities (audio guides, gallery talks, the kids corner, the reading room, etc.) were unavailable.

The modern architecture of the Acropolis Museum still manages to take its ancient artifacts into account.
The museum is built over excavations, and you can see down to them when you're outside…
…and when you're inside.


The Hotel Grande Bretagne

I stayed at this historic hotel located on Syntagma Square, right across from the Parliament building. Built as a mansion for a wealthy Greek in 1842, the hotel still has that old-world, regal charm, but it doesn’t feel stuffy or dated.  Cases in point: Internet is free and fast, there are enough outlets for all my devices (including a USB port), and there are Pringles in the mini bar.

The hotel is part of the Marriott family and follows the Covid-era cleaning protocols of that umbrella brand: e.g., the TV remote is sanitized between guests and then enclosed in a plastic bag; the mini bar is sealed with a sticker to show it’s been cleaned since the last guest (a QR code on the sticker takes you to a page with all the cleaning protocols); and, in addition to the usual robe-and-slippers amenities, there’s a gift-boxed “safety kit” with wipes, a mask, and hand sanitizer. But the best perk of all: a window that opens! Ask for a room facing the Parliament building; mine had the one big window, but some others have balconies. And if your room is well placed, you’ll be able to watch the changing of the guard (see below) without leaving your room.

You could also watch the changing of the guard from the rooftop garden (where breakfast is served), but you’ll probably be too busy looking up: from here, you’ve got a sweeping panorama of the Athens skyline, from the Acropolis to Panathenaic Stadium. It’s a gorgeous way to start the day, especially if you can nab one of the tables that’s fully outdoors (the rest of the space is sort of semi-indoors). Although you can order a la carte, which I did, I found it surprising that the hotel was still serving a breakfast buffet; most of the food was kept behind Plexiglas and guests could only be served by the staff, but there was one table (breads and pastries) that was DIY and not well covered. And since people were getting up to go back to the buffet for several rounds, they didn’t always put their masks back on.

The hotel’s restaurants, shop, pool, spa, and pool bar are also open, and a welcome video kiosk in the hotel’s main lobby ran through some of the safety upgrades for those (socially distanced pool chairs, e.g.). I didn’t have enough time to check out all of those areas, but I did notice that while the video stated that a maximum of two people were allowed per elevator, I never saw any staff person monitoring any elevator, and I ended up on several lifts with three to four people. I could have easily avoided this by waiting for the next elevator to ride alone or by taking the stairs, but since I’m vaccinated and I was always double-masked indoors (and the other guests were masked too), I didn’t mind too much.

Overall, the hotel was really lovely, very comfortable, and made for an easy, stress-free stay.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Billie Cohen (@billietravels)

The changing of the guard

The changing of the guard might be one of the most Instagrammed events in Athens. All day every day, two members of the Evzones (the Presidential guard) stand motionless in front of the Hellenic Parliament and watch over the monument to the Unknown Soldier. They don’t crack smiles and they barely blink, and they even have a helper to make sure the kilt, tassles, pom-poms, and hat of their unique uniforms are all exactly in place. Then, at the top of every hour, they swing into action. The guards and their replacements lift knees, kick out legs, flex toes adorned with pom-poms, spin their rifles, drag their shoes to make a scuffing sound, and stomp their heels to make a click. It’s mesmerizing to watch—and it helps that their uniforms are so remarkable. During the week, they wear skirted summer khakis, but on Sundays at 11am the ceremony gets kicked up a notch: There’s a band, and the guards switch to their traditional white uniform that dates to the guards’ creation in 1868 — it’s intricately handmade and every piece has a symbolic meaning. For instance, the white kilt has 400 pleats to symbolize Greece’s 400 years of freedom from the Ottoman empire; and a taxi driver (so often full of great information!) told me that the shoe pom-poms used to hide knives for sneak attacks during battle.

The mini-show happens 24 hours a day, and even if you choose to watch at a peak time rather than in the middle of the night, you won’t have to share the plaza with the pre-pandemic hordes of tourists all jostling to take photos. Since it was right across from my hotel, I passed by several times, and I saw maybe 50 people at most in the plaza (at sunset), but usually only about a dozen. Other than that, the only about this ceremony that has changed because of Covid is that the guards wear masks.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Billie Cohen (@billietravels)

Shopping, dining, and neighborhood life

Plaka is the shopping and eating district around the Acropolis. Lined with souvenir stands, I expected it to be overly touristy and garish, but somehow its village-y charm keeps it from veering too far in that direction. Normally these streets would be thronged with visitors on their way to or from the Parthenon (and plenty of cruisers), but right now there are just enough people to make it feel lively but not overrun. The adjacent neighborhood of Monastiraki—where you’ll find a flea market, antique shops, and cool artsy coffee houses and restaurants—was similarly crowd-free and pleasant to stroll around. And I found Syntagma Square to be a hopping little park, with a color-changing fountain that glowed in the evening, groups of friends hanging out, and at least two busking musicians. At night, shops in all three neighborhoods stayed open late and restaurants were buzzing; their outdoor areas were cheerful and bright as diners lingered over meals. It all felt…normal. And invigorating too. It was clear that Greek locals and international visitors alike were happy to be out and about.

In Plaka, a more touristy neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis, shops were open and people were browsing, but it never felt overcrowded.
In Plaka, a more touristy neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis, shops were open and people were browsing, but it never felt overcrowded.
In Plaka, people were sitting outside cafes for coffee and lunch.
For a few short weeks at the end of May and beginning of June, the purple jacaranda trees in the National Garden bloom. If you're in the city during this time, it's worth walking through the park.
Many restaurants in Syntagma, Plaka, and other central neighborhoods had adorable outdoor set-ups.
Syntagma Square, right across from the Parliament building and the Grande Bretagne hotel, felt festive and safe. People strolled and stopped to listen to musicians.


Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

Understanding Travel Insurance in the Covid Era: What you need and where to get it

We’ve gotten so many questions about travel insurance during Covid that we devoted one of our WOW Week travel talks to the topic. The WendyPerrin.com team was joined by three experts on travel insurance and evacuation assistance: Stan Sandberg of travelinsurance.com, Meghan Walch of insuremytrip.com, and Sheri Howell of Medjet. Below are the top six takeaways from our talk, and you can watch the full video above.

Many travel insurance plans have added coverage for pandemics.

Before Covid, it was standard for insurance plans to exclude coverage due to an epidemic or pandemic. Now, some plans—but not all of them—are treating Covid like any other medical illness; they will cover trip cancellation or interruption due to Covid, or medical bills if you are diagnosed with it during your trip. To confirm your policy’s particular coverage, read the disclosures or speak with an agent before you purchase.

Standalone medical coverage is cheap.

Most travelers are looking for a “comprehensive” travel insurance policy: one that covers their nonrefundable trip payments plus any medical expenses that arise during travel. If your main concern is covering illness or injury, you can save hundreds of dollars by foregoing coverage for trip cancellation or interruption. (Annual policies generally only provide medical coverage, and are a good option if you take more than four trips per year.)

For insurance that covers preexisting medical conditions or allows you to “cancel for any reason,” act quickly.

These pieces of coverage are time-sensitive, which means that you’re only eligible for them if you purchase your policy within 10 to 21 days (depending on the carrier) of making your first trip deposit. For more details on “cancel for any reason” insurance, see “Cancel For Any Reason” CFAR Travel Insurance: What It Is and How It Works.

Travel insurance typically covers default of a hotel or other supplier, but not of a travel agency.

Say you put down a deposit for a reservation at a hotel that subsequently goes out of business. Many plans will cover you for financial default of a hotel. However, if your deposit is being held by a travel agency or other intermediary that goes under, your insurance might not reimburse you. To confirm that your financial investment is protected, speak with a representative of the insurance provider whose policy you plan to purchase and explain your specific situation. Click here to read more about travel insurance coverage for financial default.

If travel insurance is the cake, evacuation assistance that gets you back home is the icing.

If you have a medical emergency, most policies will cover your transportation to the nearest acceptable medical facility. If you fall off a horse at a ranch in Argentina, that could mean an ambulance ride to Buenos Aires. If you want to be transported back home, you need additional coverage from a program such as Medjet: Once you are hospitalized, they will transport you back home to the hospital of your choice. See also What Medical Evacuation Coverage Do You Need?

Don’t buy the insurance your airline tries to sell you when you book your flights.

Travel insurance is not one-size-fits-all. Use a comparison site such as travelinsurance.com or insuremytrip.com to search for the most cost-effective policies that best fit your particular needs, with the coverage limits you want.

There was a lot more great info shared by our travel-insurance experts; watch the video above to hear it all. And for a primer on the basics of travel insurance, read this article.




View of Arenal volcano in Costa Rica.

Dispatch from Costa Rica: More Nature, Fewer People

View of Arenal volcano in Costa Rica
Arenal volcano (All photos: Richard and Irene Edwards)
sunset on the beach on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica
Sunset on the Pacific Coast
deckchairs lined up overlooking the pool and ocean at Arenas Del Mar resort in Costa Rica
Arenas Del Mar resort
sunset over Arenal volcano in Costa Rica
Sunset over Arenal
Daytime view of Pacific Coast beach in Costa Rica
Pacific coast
Sunset at Nosara beach in Costa Rica


A native Costa Rican, Irene Edwards has a local’s-eye view on how the country has been faring during the pandemic. What’s more, as one of Wendy’s recommended trip designers for Costa Rica (she’s been on The WOW List since 2014), she also has a traveler’s perspective on what it’s like to experience the country’s jungles, beaches, volcanoes, and hot springs right now.

Irene and her husband, Richard, who together co-founded Greenspot, have been living and working in-country throughout the pandemic. Travelers were allowed to return starting TK, with the completion of a health pass and proof of medical insurance that covers Covid-related bills (for more information on this, see “The Countries That Are Open to U.S. Travelers and What You’ll Find There.”)

Since then, Irene and Richard have been keeping close tabs on how the local tourism landscape is adapting—and also dreaming up new ways for visitors to connect with the culture. We called them at home in La Fortuna to find out more.

*This article is part of a series in which we are following the pioneers on Wendy’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts as they road-test their reopened destinations anew. Remember, these are the trip planners with the highest standards in the world—they’ve earned these stellar reviews—so we’ll ask them how local safety protocols measure up; the savviest ways to sightsee and explore; and the safest places to stay, eat, and get health care if necessary. In other words, we’ll follow them as they do all the in-country legwork so that you don’t have to.

You live in Costa Rica, so you have first-hand knowledge of what it’s been like this past year. Where have you traveled in the country during the pandemic?

Richard: Nearly everywhere. We’ve been out to the Pacific coast several times, where a big chunk of our travelers go for the beach: the Nosara area in the north and Corcovado National Park area on the southern coast. Irene just got back from Manuel Antonio. We have a condo near San Jose, but also spend time near Irene’s mom’s farm near Arenal in La Fortuna. So we’ve got a really good handle on the hot spots.

What activities were most popular pre-Covid, and are they still possible now?

Irene: Hanging bridges, canopy tours, rafting, hiking, exploring national parks (which are now open to the public), wildlife refuges, and cultural activities such as cooking classes—including making tortillas with my mom in her house—and school visits.  Because the pandemic has closed schools, school visits aren’t happening right now, but most of the tours in the country are operating. Local tour providers now have smaller groups. Before, they could handle up to about 15 people; now it’s perhaps eight. We actually book these experiences to be private (instead of a group). The only activity that we are a little hesitant on our part to recommend is the canopy tours because they need maintenance and some companies aren’t doing that. But most of the tours are open and running.

Richard: Costa Rica is intact. What you come here to do—the beach, the jungle, and all these outdoor activities—you can still do them. That’s the good news for everybody.

What about cultural and indoor experiences? How are those different?

Irene: Because of the pandemic, a lot of people have been forced to be creative and develop new travel experiences. For example, we met with a local señor here who needed an income; he wasn’t in tourism at all before, but now he is willing to show people, even locals, how he processes cinnamon; it’s outdoors, and you go with him to the trees and see how he harvests it. We have another guy who makes cheese; he’s who we get our own cheese from, so I asked him about his farm, and we’re thinking about making that an excursion for travelers. Things like that are possible, and we are trying to find more local people who are developing such experiences. My mom, too, has been making her own spices— mixing orange peels with herbs, for example. It’s happening more and more, all around the country.

Richard: In the end, it will be a win for travelers: They will have new and more authentic things to do. We needed a recalibration anyway, because Costa Rica was getting commercial. But we, and the people around us in the eco-travel sector, are realizing this is an opportunity to go back to basics and back to your origins.

That sounds great. But for now, what are you finding that travelers want to do when they visit? Are they ready for those interpersonal experiences?

Richard: Travelers are less inclined to do those activities right now. They’re more vegging out. They are trying to limit their exposure—so they’re eating in their hotels, for example— and they are doing fewer activities than before.

Irene: In the past, people wanted to come for a week and explore as many destinations as possible. Now, they are limiting themselves to the beach or two places max and just enjoying themselves. They are also waiting until they’re in Costa Rica to book activities, rather than booking them in advance. I think it’s related to them getting a sense of how things are when they arrive, and then feeling more secure. The activities they choose are focused on nature and being outdoors.

How are the hotels that you’re visiting?

Irene: We are re-inspecting the hotels we recommend, to make sure that the services and maintenance are still there. It’s been interesting to go back and re-evaluate their environment and ambience. We’ve all been having a break. Most of the hotels are not operating 100% and they don’t have a full staff. Arenas Del Mar is one of our preferred lodges, but the ambience is very different right now; they’re slowly getting back to what they are used to. It’s going to take time to really be normal. When I went to Manuel Antonio, it’s like they are in sort of a trance. That was my comment to the lodge managers: we can’t lose that chispa, that spark! We have to get it going again, because that’s what is attractive to the visitors who come to Costa Rica.

Also, we have seen a great interest in rental homes and villas. Right now, we are trying to be a villa specialist and building a database of very select rental homes. That has been my homework: finding unique rental homes, especially on the beach.

What protocols are hotels putting in place?

Irene: They are cleaning the rooms very well, disinfecting luggage, not allowing anyone into the room after check-in (except for the guest). The in-room snacks are touchless—they have created electronic menus, and you can scan the menu with your phone and order from your phone. Check-in is handled electronically. Some of the more remote hotels have limited internet access, so we do check-in for travelers before they get there; the only thing they have to do at the hotel is give their credit card.

What is it like to dine in a restaurant?

Irene: At hotel restaurants, the only thing on the table is the hand sanitizer. They bring plates and silverware afterward. The servers wear masks, but you can take yours off once you start eating. The tables are spaced 1.8 meters apart, because that’s six feet. Reservations must be made beforehand. They are also offering the option of having your meal outdoors..

Richard: They used to charge to set up tables on the beach and outside, but now that’s something you can just ask for.

What about non-hotel restaurants?

Irene: Local restaurants have certain protocols but, in general, they are not as elaborate as the ones that the hotels use. We are not going to say don’t eat at the local restaurants, because that is part of the whole experience of Costa Rica, but we have eaten at some of them, and our advice is to always wear your mask and wash your hands and keep your gel handy. Our customers always ask for restaurants, and we have a list of the best. Plus, when our travelers have a private guide, that’s very helpful because the guides know which places are safest.

What Covid protocols have you put in place yourself with your own staff and expert guides?

Irene: All of our drivers and guides are required to wear masks, which we provide, at all times. Even if the traveler doesn’t, our guides and drivers must. We keep hand sanitizer in the car. We provide refillable water bottles that are different colors, so everyone knows which is theirs. We offer Covid tests for staff upon client request.

Who is traveling to Costa Rica now, and where are they going?

Irene: We are seeing a lot of families with young kids traveling right now. They are sticking to the more usual routes, like Manuel Antonio, Arenal, and Monteverde, but mostly beach. Before the pandemic, we were seeing a lot of families with grandparents, but not now.

Richard: They’re not heading off the beaten path, and we’re not encouraging that anyway, because the beaten path is doing the best job of sticking to the protocols.

If it’s the beaten path, how do you make that special?

Richard: It is special! Before the pandemic, you had to work hard to make it special because there were too many people. So we spent all our time curating an uncrowded, relaxing experience. Now, though, that’s a given! [Laughs.] We can focus on the details even more than before—all the little things that would be special to individual members of the family. It’s not anything Irene wasn’t doing before, but we have the ability to spend more time on that now.

The one and only reason you come to Costa Rica is to be outdoors, so you’re here in the jungle or on the beach, and now you’ve got exponentially less people to share all that with. Last night, I was watching the local news, and a local guy was sitting in front of a family of four tapirs! I’ve seen maybe three tapirs in the 35 years I’ve been here, but he was just sitting in the stream, and the tapirs were just totally relaxed, plodding around behind him. Even on our farm, we are seeing great green macaws, which are endangered, flying all over. It’s like paradise.



We’re Here to Help

Right now is a remarkable opportunity for global travelers who are vaccinated. When your friends say that travel is problematic as a result of the pandemic—rental cars aren’t available, service even at 5-star hotels is shoddy—the problem is they’re not planning their trips right! Travel can be spectacular now if you choose the right destination, know the savviest local fixers, and approach them the optimal way. Check out these recent trip reviews to see the difference that Wendy’s WOW approach to trip planning makes. And if you’re looking for a similarly carefree travel experience, contact us at Ask Wendy.