Then came the pandemic.
“We were looking to travel in August and had a hard time finding a country we were both allowed to visit,” says Merlo. “And if we were allowed in, we needed to find a country where we didn’t have to quarantine. Let’s just say it wasn’t that easy.”
The new travel game plan
Traveling to meet up with friends and family who live in other cities or countries has always been a logistical challenge. The upside, of course, was a fantastic vacation with loved ones, making memories that last a lifetime.
During this pandemic, any kind of traditional multi-city vacation planning been nearly impossible — but it is a bit more doable as destinations reopen.
First you need to know the latest in border restrictions and quarantine rules.
Are you covered by medical insurance if you should fall ill while traveling? Are you OK with the possibility of being trapped by unexpected border closures or other restrictions? These are not small things to consider.
How they did it
As Merlo and Miller planned their August getaway, they were focused on finding the best possible destination: As a US citizen, Miller was unable to travel to Spain, so meeting up there was out. The same rule applied to Merlo if he visited the United States. In fact, the EU travel ban meant that Miller wasn’t allowed to visit most European nations, at least not without quarantining. Merlo wasn’t as limited but also ran into roadblocks.
“We had to do our research, but it was worth the effort,” says Merlo. “We traveled along the coast to cities like Dubrovnik and had an incredible time.”
Following their weeklong trip, Merlo went back to Spain while Miller flew to Istanbul to meet another friend, this time from Chicago. Turkey is also welcoming US citizens, even without a Covid test, and for Miller and his friend, vacationing in the country together was an obvious choice.
“Illinois is on New York’s quarantine list, and it’s crazy that my friend wouldn’t have been able to visit me there, but we could meet in Turkey,” he says.
Quarantines and border closings
To Miller’s point, US residents are discovering that international border restrictions aren’t the only impediment to finding destinations for reunion trips. With different quarantine rules between states, a domestic getaway isn’t straightforward the way it may have been in a pre-Covid world.
Rebecca Alesia and her family on their family reunion trip in Pennsylvania.
Courtesy Rebecca Alesia
“We scrambled to find an alternative and ended up renting a house in Pennsylvania for two weeks because the state wasn’t on any quarantine list,” says Alesia.
The Alesia family rented a house in a remote, scenic part of Pennsylvania for their reunion trip.
Courtesy Rebecca Alesia
Turkey and Mexico emerge as go-to countries amid restrictions
Limitations for travel in the United States has led to determined travelers meeting up in a handful of countries abroad where all parties involved are allowed in.
Miller, for one, is among the unknown number of people who are reuniting with friends and family in Turkey — a country that most foreign nationals can enter without any restrictions.
Also, Turkish Airlines, while operating at a reduced capacity, offers nonstop flights from nine cities in the United States to Istanbul including Houston, Los Angeles and New York. Within Europe, the airline offers flights between Istanbul and more than 30 cities.
“The fact that Turkey is open makes it popular right now as a common meeting ground,” she says. “It’s also affordable when it comes to meals and shopping, which makes it even more attractive.”
In addition to Turkey, Mexico is in demand for travelers reuniting with loved ones from different locales.
Palmasola, a nine-bedroom beachfront estate in Punta Mita, Mexico, has been booked by groups of friends and family, reuniting after months apart.
The fall and winter season are also largely booked. “Our guests are all groups of friends and family who are reuniting after months of not seeing each other,” she says.
Danny Peykoff, a Newport Beach, California, resident and entrepreneur, stayed at Palmasola in August with 15 family members including his wife and children, his in-laws and their kids, who live in Las Vegas. Everyone flew to Mexico on a private jet and enjoyed a week of swimming, fishing, golfing and relaxing.
The group was celebrating his father-in-law’s 70th birthday.
“We wanted to do something spectacular and looked at going to Bahamas, but travel is restricted there,” says Peykoff. “Mexico is easy to get to and open. Being at Palmasola was just amazing and a great way for us to bond and celebrate a birthday as well as the world opening up again.”