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European travel in the distance for those coming from the U.S.

UPDATED: Tue., June 30, 2020

Moored gondolas are reflected on the water of the Grand Canal, in Venice on  (Associated Press)
Moored gondolas are reflected on the water of the Grand Canal, in Venice on (Associated Press)

Ashley Talarico had been planning her Aug. 31 trip to Italy for a long time. Pat Talarico is Ashley’s father-in-law, and his family is from the southern Italian village of Positano. Other than a trip Pat took as a young boy that he only remembers from stories and pictures, he has not visited.

The family had been brushing up on Italian so they could communicate with a cousin. They planned to look up birth certificates and marriage licenses. Ashley hasn’t canceled the trip because she’s hasn’t had the heart to do it – though the hotel they booked in Positano sent her a letter informing her they won’t be open. She has little hope the family will be making the trip.

Pat is healthy, but he’s 81, and the family is already dealing with loss – Pat’s wife died a year ago on Sunday.

On Tuesday, the European Union announced it would open borders for 14 countries, but not the U.S. Ashley isn’t angry – they don’t want Pat to travel without a COVID-19 vaccine, anyway – but she is disappointed.

“My husband and him are very close,” Ashley said. “I just hope that we can reschedule and do this while (Pat) is in good health and be able to do it, because it’s a memory that you’ll have forever.”

Ashley booked her vacation through Edwards LaLone Travel, which is owned by her friend, Cathy Nystrom. Nystrom is seeing a lot of European vacations rescheduled to 2021, and an increase in bookings to Hawaii. Hawaii has a 14-day quarantine period for anyone entering their state, but starting Aug. 1, you can gain entry by bringing proof of a negative coronavirus test.

“If you plan a little further out, fares to Hawaii right now are great,” Nystrom said. “It’s just that capacity is so limited. Airlines are operating at such a lower capacity than normal that there aren’t that many seats.”

Both Delta Airlines and Southwest Airlines have committed to keeping middle seats open, unless a someone is seated next to members of their own party.

Nystrom has heard from clients that airplanes are cleaner than they’ve ever been.

“We really need people that have good experiences to get other people back out there, and we need to keep people safe,” Nystrom said.

At Global Travel, President Kevin Loveless said Iceland has been a popular choice but, there have been a few roadblocks. Iceland initially announced it would test people as they came into the country – but now it’s dealing with a shortage of tests, Loveless said.

“Iceland kind of made the press,” Loveless said. “We’re opening earlier, we’re ready to go. And then when they said they were providing testing on the way in, some people said, ‘I’ll go just to get a test and a vacation.’ ”

Both Loveless and Nystrom have seen an uptick in travel insurance, and customers are eager to verify that a pandemic – and the resulting chaos – is covered. Nystrom said one of the best bets is Delta Vacations.

“Delta Vacations has this cancel-for-any-reason policy,” Nystrom said. “We almost always quote them. We have had a lot of travelers who bought that and got their money back no questions asked. Didn’t have to file a claim, didn’t matter why, didn’t matter they canceled because they were afraid of the virus.”

Megan Rowe can be reached at (509) 459-5382 or at meganr@spokesman.com.

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