Two years’ worth of pent-up travel demand has suddenly been unleashed, and now it seems like everyone in the world is flooding back to Italy, France, and Greece all at once. Given the sold-out hotels and astronomical pricing in dream locations such as Paris and Italy’s Amalfi Coast, where can you still get a Covid-safe and iconic experience this summer? In this talk, we discussed your smartest options.
Wendy’s big tip: Go to a country the first summer after it re-opens. If you wait until the second summer, you’ll encounter the sort of sky-high demand that we’re now seeing in Italy, France, and Greece (which were all open throughout last summer). Consider countries that did not reopen in a sustained, workable manner until after last summer—countries that include Norway, the Netherlands, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand. For under-the-radar trip ideas and unique opportunities for this summer—including cruise deals galore—watch the video below.
Italy, France, and England (starts at 05:00)
May and June are booked solid in France and Italy, but availability of charming 4-star and 5-star accommodations can be uncovered here and there in July and August if you know where to look. A city break in August this year—in Paris, Rome, or Florence—will be hot but could be a way to avoid some of the crowds that are flocking to the beach areas. London is lovely in August—not too hot or crowded.
Portugal and Spain (starts at 8:45)
May and June are sold out, but in July and August, there is good availability for charming hotels in the Douro Valley and the Alentejo. Plus, much of Spain’s Basque Country is off the beaten path and has milder temperatures. However, as in France and Italy, the coastlines and beach areas are packed.
Croatia (starts at 11:25)
Croatia just dropped all Covid-related entry requirements, and it’s busy but not sold out. The key to a fabulous experience of Croatia this summer is flexibility in your travel dates. Check hotel availability before you book your flights. Also, combining Croatia with nearby countries (Montenegro or Slovenia, for instance) is easier now than it was earlier in the pandemic, since nearby countries have dropped their Covid-related entry requirements too.
Switzerland (starts at 15:30)
Lots of activities in Switzerland are outdoors, and there are many opportunities for hiking. Also, because the country is small, many things can be done in a day trip. That gives travelers more hotel options, as there are many places where they can base themselves and still enjoy the country. Nina also recommended that if you can’t find availability in Italy this summer, consider the Italian region of Switzerland (such as Lake Lugano and Ticino).
Norway and Scandinavia (starts at 18:50)
Norway has so much more than fjords: There are mountains, forests, and more than 200,000 islands. And even in the last days of August and in September, it’s dark enough at night that you can see the Northern Lights!
Beaches in Hawaii and Mexico, and ski resorts in summertime (starts at 22:20)
Meg is seeing summer specials in Hawaii and on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. She also recommends that families consider ski resorts in summertime: There are a ton of outdoor adventure activities on offer, and top places to stay are much more affordable than in ski season.
Mexico (starts at 27:50)
Zach says that, since there’s a lot of sargassum on Mexico’s Riviera Maya this summer, he is pointing travelers to Mexico’s Pacific Coast instead. There are now four nonstop flights a week from New York’s JFK to Puerto Vallarta, which is also the gateway to Punta Mita. Travelers should also think about Mexico City for its lively arts and culinary scene. Mexico City is relatively cool in summer because it’s 7,000 feet above sea level; temperatures are only in the 70s during the day and the 50s at night. The museums and restaurants are all open in summertime, and there’s good value to be found because hotels are eager for visitors.
Cruises (starts at 32:10)
Prices for cruises in Alaska, the Caribbean, Canada, and the Mediterranean are lower now than they were before the pandemic. There’s still a lot of availability on Alaska cruises, which is highly unusual so close to summertime, so that’s a real pocket of opportunity now. In terms of safety, Tom says now is a good time to cruise because there are relatively few passengers onboard, because the ships are still monitored by the CDC, and because there’s plenty of staff onboard (unlike in many hotels nowadays). Take advantage of this moment, as cruise ships may be packed full again in 2023. There are also great deals for solo travelers.
Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia (starts at 37:15)
Dan says that traveling in Southeast Asia right now is like traveling there 30 years ago. The number of tourists is about 10% to 15% of the usual number. Many people have the mistaken impression that Southeast Asia is not a summer destination: Thanks to a wide variety of environments, many places are at their best in July and August, such as Koh Samui in Thailand and Nha Trang in Vietnam.
Wendy and the WOW Listers take questions from the audience. (starts at 43:28)
To start planning your own trip, reach out to one of the recommended local experts on The WOW List using Wendy’s introduction form—that way, you’ll be designated a VIP traveler and get the other benefits of using Wendy’s WOW approach to securing an extraordinary, safe trip. If you’re not sure who the right WOW Lister is or where to go that will meet your specific trip needs and goals, use the Ask Wendy questionnaire for a personalized recommendation.
Here are links to some of the useful resources that we mentioned during the Zoom: