Apologies to my friend Albert. He sent me this to publish a couple of weeks ago and I just ran out of time given all the duty I have performed lately. Hopefully, this post has not been overcome by events.
Greetings, Fellow Travelers!
BLUF: My global travels will continue in 2020 albeit with some modifications due to work and, of course, the Coronavirus outbreak. Still, with reasonable precaution and strategy, 2020 is looking to be a great travel year.
Today’s ALL HANDS focuses on my upcoming 2020 U.S. domestic and international travels.
First, TMFF blog is not necessarily a “breaking news” kind of travel blog. Fellow travel writers and blogs track airline, travel, and global news much better than we do, especially since Glenn and I have full-time jobs. Still, some stories overtake the travel world so much we start to think about “reporting” how the news affects our travels.
The Coronavirus news story is one such story. If you recall, Joe and I spent five days/four nights in Guangzhou, China in mid-December. This was approx. five weeks before the virus story hit the global news. Given we currently hold ten-year Chinese visas, we had plans to return rather frequently to China over the next few years. As Marriott loyalists, China has one of the largest collection of luxury hotel properties in the world—all at reasonably affordable prices.
Already this year, we had a March 2020 trip to Chengdu (pandas and hot pots!) planned with tentative plans to travel to Xi’an (Terracotta warriors!) and Harbin (ice festival!) soon. Sadly, we’ve had to cancel our Chengdu plans due to the travel restrictions in and out of China. I will also hold off on any more travels into China for at least the end of 2020. Prudent decisions yet still disappointing.
Given the volatility of the Coronavirus and reactions (in an abundance of caution) from counties and airlines, we’ve had to reshape further our March 2020 trip. We scheduled a trip to Seoul for five-nights, but after the reporting of the outbreak in southern South Korea, Cathay Pacific canceled our ICN out-going flight. Moreover, with a pre-paid rate at the Four Points Seoul Namsan, Marriott was able to cancel that reservation with no penalty. Cathay, of course, provided the full points refund on the award ticket.
We’ve swapped out China and South Korea with Vietnam and more time in Thailand. We will spend four-nights in Ho Chi Minh City and three-nights in Chiang Mail before spending the rest of our time in and around Bangkok. Luckily, both countries have reasonable public health countermeasures in place both with immigration and airline transit. We will of course take precautions such as washing our hands, avoiding large public areas, using hand sanitizers, and wearing masks (mainly, as a way of reminding us not to touch our face).
All and all, our March 2020 trip (which I’m starting today!) will still be a great journey back to one of our most favorite parts of the world.
Second, by limiting my international travels, I’ve re-focused on U.S. domestic and North American travel. Already, I’ve booked a trip to Vancouver and Victoria, Canada in late summer. This is the height of British Columbia tourist season when side-walk cafes are booming, Asian dumplings are flowing, and western Canada is at peak hiking season. This trip, if you recall, is made even sweeter by the amazing Alaska Airlines companion fare from my Bank of America Alaska Airlines credit card. An awesome benefit!
On the U.S. front, happening at the end of a mid-summer work trip, I’ve scheduled a week in Maine to explore the burgeoning food city of Portland and the Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park areas of the state. Since I’ve never been to Maine, this is the perfect opportunity to tack on some Leave with a work trip. Joe will join me, and we are excited about visiting the state.
We’ve also planned a visit to Boston in the fall. October is reportedly one of the most beautiful times to visit Boston as the leaves are changing and the chowder is nice and hot for the crisp temperatures. We plan to focus on the Freedom Trail as we are staying close to Boston Commons. Prices at Marriott properties begin to creep up to the $200+/night range in October, but I was luckily enough to combine a paid night with a one-night certificate from my Chase Marriott Boundless credit card. Valued at 35,000 Marriott Points, that standard award price was available on a Monday (we paid for the Sunday) at the Moxy Boston Downtown. This is a hipper (hipster-er?) property than we usually stay, but you go where the deals are!
I also already have on the calendar a three-night stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort (a Marriott property) for January 2021. Disney is never inexpensive, but going right after the New Year resulted is some of the lowest rates ($280/night) for the year. The Dolphin is located outside the Disney’s Hollywood Studios park, and our goal is to enjoy the new Star Wars’ Galaxy’s Edge park. If we can get our Star Wars fill, then we will head to Animal Kingdom to sample the new Avatar World, but Galaxy’s Edge is our focus—hence the shorter stay.
Back to international traffic, already in the books are a trip to Australia in June 2020 and a return trip to Japan over Thanksgiving 2020. The Coronavirus could affect both trip, and I’m tracking the Australia trip most closely right now. Both Joe and I (on different dates) have Cathay Pacific First Class award flights booked via Hong Kong, so should a change or cancelation occur, we could be scrambling to get to Australia. Still, we will adapt!
I’m less concerned (right now, at least) about our Japan trip. We plan to see our USN friend while we’re there as well as base ourselves out of Osaka and enjoy the high-speed Shinkansen train to see more of central Japan. We also have designs to head up to Sapporo to check out the northern island.
In sum, travel in 2020 is not slowing down…although, it is definitely changing due to the current Coronavirus news. I urge everyone to take whatever precautions you can and listen to experts on how to keep yourself safe and healthy as you travel now and anytime of the year no matter your destination. TMFF will still be here providing you reviews, advice, and sharing our travel experiences with our readers!
Albert Guerrero, USAF, Ret.
“Let’s Travel Farther, Together!”
Follow my travels on Instagram: @albert_traveler