Tag Archives: travel

Getting a Covid Test Abroad is Easy

Don’t let fear of a required Covid test outside the U.S.—either for a return flight to the U.S. or to cross borders during a multi-country trip—scare you away from overseas travel.

First, all you need for re-entering the U.S. is an antigen test—and that means you can carry an at-home kit with you. If you use one of the international test kits described in How to Get a Quick Covid Test for Travel, you can self-administer the test from anywhere you can make a video call, and you’ll receive results within one hour. We recommend doing this as early as your flight home allows, so that if you encounter any issues connecting to the telemed visit or obtaining negative results, you have time to test again.

Second, if your trip is being arranged by a local expert, such as those on The WOW List, they know the easiest, fastest ways to get tested locally and will organize it for you. Typically, they’ll arrange for a health-care technician to administer the test at your hotel in the morning, with the results delivered to your mobile phone a few hours later. WOW Listers have been doing this for travelers for a year now—since long before the U.S. even started requiring a test for re-entering. We know this from the trip reviews we receive….

Croatia: “We did not have to worry about a single thing—Ala took care of everything including organizing our covid test for our flight home.” — Jennifer Andrews

Costa Rica: “Pierre and Michael ensured that our trip was stress-free by arranging everything – private transportation, wonderful activities, professional guides, and beautiful lodging. They even arranged for our Covid tests to be taken in San Jose the night before returning to the US.” —Daena Craven

Ecuador: “The details on one of the PCR tests for our US return was incorrect — Allie was able to immediately contact the lab and get a corrected report emailed to us.” —Julie Heimark

Mexico: “We weren’t comfortable going elsewhere to get a COVID test to travel. Our agent was able to easily organize health techs to come to the house to administer the test.” —Garrett Bandy

Kenya: “Even though a negative Covid-19 test was not required for my return trip to Georgia, Julian assisted me and was able to schedule a Covid-19 test prior to leaving Kenya so that I could have a high degree of assurance that I was not infected prior to returning home.” —Jeremy Lynch

Here’s how the WendyPerrin.com team has been handling overseas Covid testing on our own trips this summer:

On Wendy’s August trip to Turkey, the Trusted Travel Expert who arranged her trip could have made things super-easy by having someone come to her hotel one morning before sightseeing to give her the test. But Wendy wanted to try the Abbott BinaxNOW at-home test kits she’d packed. This nasal-swab antigen test took less than 25 minutes. She and her family received the results by email (and a QR code to their apps) immediately, and the hotel’s front desk printed them out so they’d have paper copies.

Billie’s trip to Europe in June required two tests—the first in Greece, so that she could enter France, and the second in Spain, so she could re-enter the U.S. “Both experiences were easy and stress-free,” Billie reports, “although I can’t say it was painless, because no matter how many times I do it, that Q-tip up the nose still smarts.”

Billie’s first test occurred on the Greek island of Paros on June 7. The Greece specialist on The WOW List who booked her trip, Mina Agnos, arranged for a doctor to come to Billie’s hotel before she headed out for a day of touring. He administered the test and emailed the results when they were ready. (The cost: 100 euros.) Billie printed out the results at her hotel, showed the print-out to the attendants at the Air France check-in desk at the Santorini airport, and flew to Paris with no problem.

Billie’s second test was in Madrid on June 15, two days before her flight back to the U.S. “Delta offered a test at the Madrid airport that wasn’t convenient for me, but there was another clinic that was right near my hotel. It had a website in English, simple online booking, and cost only 50 euros. It could not have been easier. The staff spoke English, and I was in and out in less than five minutes. About 20 minutes later, I had the results in my inbox. Again, I asked my hotel to print out the results for me (the lab had, helpfully, returned them in both Spanish and English). I showed the document to the Delta check-in agent at Madrid’s airport. Interestingly, no one at JFK asked to see it.”

Don’t assume that getting a Covid test is harder in remote areas… if those remote areas depend on attracting luxury travelers. When Brook traveled to a private island in the Maldives last October, she needed a test in order to be allowed to stop in Dubai on her way home. Her resort, JOALI Maldives, had a medical clinic where she was swabbed; her sample was picked up by boat and sent across the atoll, and she had her results the next day. The test came to about $250.

In July, Brook headed to Africa on safari. For the required test to enter Zimbabwe, a clinician traveled to the private reserve in Botswana where Brook was staying and carried her sample (along with 19 others she collected that day) back to a lab in the city of Maun. The cost was $330, which included both the clinician’s travel and the test itself. The test didn’t take away one moment of game viewing, as the helicopter touched down right where Brook was having breakfast during her morning game drive.


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.

Paris is one of the world's most expensive cities this summer, but there are easy ways to make your dollar go farther.

Smart Travel Strategies for Summer

As TripAdvisor’s Travel Advocate, I’ve been sharing a lot of summer travel advice over on the TripAdvisor blog. In case you’ve missed my posts, here are links to the tips I think you’ll find most useful:

* Traveling Overseas? Make Your Dollar Go Farther.  Here’s a list of the world’s most expensive cities this summer (including Paris)—and six actions to take that will not only save you money but also reward you with more local color.

* How to Plan a Family Beach Vacation That Won’t Break the Bank.  Are you finding that every four- or five-star beach resort you’ve contacted has hiked its rates sky-high this summer?  Here are the tricks I’ve used for my own family’s summer getaways.

* Easy Ways to Avoid Airline Baggage Fees.  Of all the fees airlines hit us with, the one that most travelers find most annoying is the fee for checking luggage. For those of you who don’t have elite status with an airline, here are three ways to avoid getting stung.

Improve Your Trip With an Overnight Layover (No Kidding!)  Do you dread overnight layovers?  It’s time to change your attitude and use them to give your trip a fun kick-off or a grand finale.

* When to Save Money with a Vacation Rental.  You get more space and privacy than in a hotel, and you get to live like a local, but renting a home without staff or hotel infrastructure can mean spending your vacation doing household chores. If you’re looking for that perfect villa in Tuscany or farmhouse in Provence where it’s an easy walk into town for dinner and you needn’t worry about wrestling with unfamiliar appliances or taking out the garbage, feel free to shoot me an email (click on “Contact,” above) and I can connect you with the right trusted villa expert for your destination.

Happy summer travels, everyone!

Luxembourg Gardens boat pond, Paris

One of many inexpensive activities in Paris is to sail boats in the Luxembourg Gardens, as my younger son is doing here.

Wendy in Arctic Alaska with a satellite phone

Why You Need a Satellite Phone


Hi Wendy,

My husband travels to Canada and Alaska often and I would like to get him a satellite phone for safety.  Have you ever reviewed them?




A satellite phone or messaging device can be a lifesaver in remote regions where there are no cellular networks. They can also be a lifesaver in emergency or disaster situations where cellular networks crash or become overloaded.

Sharon, while I’ve carried a satellite phone with me to remote corners of the globe—including Arctic Alaska—mercifully I’ve been spared any emergencies and thus am hardly an expert on which device is best. So I’ve reached out to just such an expert for you.  Dan Richards is the CEO and founder of Global Rescue, which provides worldwide emergency-evacuation and medical-assistance services.  In fact, last week his team rescued John All, the American climber who fell into the Himalayan crevasse in Nepal. All was carrying a DeLorme inReach satellite messenger device, which allows two-way text messaging by satellite anywhere in the world, and that’s how Global Rescue coached him on how to survive until the rescue helicopter arrived.

Here’s Richards’ advice for you:

“An Iridium satellite phone is a great choice. It offers voice capabilities and, with a reliably clear signal, nothing is left to interpretation. The Iridium has an emergency button so you can input emergency phone and email contacts. The Iridium also offers SMS text and email capabilities. The Iridium Extreme is the top of the line and offers GPS and tracking services. You can expect to spend in the range of $500-$1,500 on a satellite phone.  Many vendors also rent satellite phones for about $75 per week plus airtime.

A less expensive alternative to consider is a satellite messaging device. There is no voice option, but you get 160-character two-way text messaging anywhere in the world.

Since satellite phones rely on line-of-sight with their satellites to establish a connection, they work best in open areas with a clear view of the sky.  Using them indoors, in vehicles, and even in a city surrounded by tall building and wires may hinder your signal.”

Richards adds that satellite phone use is restricted or even illegal in certain countries—including India, Myanmar, Cuba, Iran, Poland, and Hungary—so it’s wise to confirm coverage with your provider before purchasing or renting a phone and to research possible restrictions imposed by the countries you’ll be visiting.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Get Exotic Luxury For Less in Southeast Asia


Hi Wendy,

My wife and I are interested in how to do exotic luxury travel on a reduced budget.  We’ve enjoyed a lot of far-flung adventures over the years, but we just bought a new house, so our pockets are a little emptier than usual. We are absolutely craving a trip to Southeast Asia and are trying to figure out how to pull something off.





You’re in luck, Adam, because Southeast Asia is one of those parts of the world where your dollar stretches far. It’s chock full of spoil-you-rotten hotels with relatively affordable rates, thanks to the combination of a low cost of labor and a culture that values the art of hospitality.  Your dollar buys a lot at the non-luxury level too: Skyscanner just named Vietnam, Bali, and Cambodia three of the world’s 10 best-value vacation spots of 2014.

One of my favorite Southeast Asia travel planners, Andrea Ross of Journeys Within Tour Company, is expert at orchestrating luxurious yet affordable itineraries (and she even writes her own Southeast Asia travel blog).  Here’s her advice–and how she does it:

1. Find seasonal promotions. “Right now Four Seasons is offering some amazing summer specials,” says Andrea. “If you stay three nights at their Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai, Thailand, you get two nights free at any of their other Thailand properties, including the Four Seasons Koh Samui beach property.  These deals won’t be available in high season, but if you don’t mind a little afternoon rain, or warmer temperatures, then going in shoulder season can be your best bet for getting luxury at a reasonable rate.”

2. Pepper your itinerary with boutique hotels that offer stellar service but also real value for the money. Andrea’s picks cost only $120 to $260 per night—hotels like Ariyasomvilla in Bangkok; 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai, Thailand; Mekong Riverview in Luang Prabang, Laos; and Journeys Within Boutique Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia. “These hotels are winning TripAdvisor awards and daily go above and beyond for their guests,” says Andrea.  “They also offer a window onto the history and culture of the locations they’re set in.”

3. Scrimp on your hotel in certain locations so you can splurge in locations where it matters more. “Splurge on your hotel at the beach, where you’re going to be spending more time in your room and using the hotel’s facilities. But when your schedule is packed and you’re going to be out and about—which is the case in Chiang Mai, which is a really fun town with lots of markets and restaurants and shopping—then luxury in your hotel isn’t necessary. In fact, often travelers in a luxury hotel will feel torn: They’ll want to get out and explore, but they’ll hesitate because they don’t want to leave the property.”

You can also read Andrea’s Insider’s Guide to Cambodia and her Insider’s Guide to Angkor Wat.

Who else has tips for getting exotic luxury on a budget in Southeast Asia?