Going Places Educational Travel Blog - Real Travel Talk with Dave - April 2022
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April 18, 2022

Real Travel Talk with Dave - April 2022

Hello! This is Dave Markle, the President of Passports. I've been in Europe for almost two months visiting as many groups as possible and generally overseeing the operation of our tours. Here are some questions I've been asked!

Covid Stuff

What kind of new rules are there for travel to Europe?

Not many! Europe has removed testing requirements, so you don't need to take a test before coming to Europe. Some countries have entry forms that you have to fill out in advance, but those are being fazed out in favor of simpler methods, like demonstrating vaccination.

So, is Europe requiring vaccination?

Pretty much, yes. There are a couple of countries that don't technically require vaccination, but they have different rules for the unvaccinated, like testing before entering or quarantining upon arrival. So, in effect, for group tours, yes, vaccination is required. Some countries do allow a recent positive covid recovery in lieu of vaccination, but this differs country by country.

What about masks?

Much like at home, depending on where you go, the rules are different. Some countries, like Spain, still require masking in indoor places. In most other countries, they require masks only on public transportation. In some countries, like the Netherlands and UK, masks are not required anywhere and are barely seen at all.

Alright, but what is it really like in Europe? What's the mood like?

Once you've landed, you'll barely notice a difference from how it's always been. You might have to wear a mask in a museum or two, or on a train, but that's about the only difference. Tourism is back in full force. There are crowds on the streets and the cafes are all open and ready for business. The mood is jubilant. Everyone is glad to be out and about.

Isn't there a test to come home?

Yes, there is! The United States is one of the few countries in the world that still requires a test to enter, even for the vaccinated. Passports made the decision to utilize online, telehealth covid tests for the returning groups. This means our groups test in the comfort of their hotel at a time that is convenient for them. We prepared instructional videos, pdf instructions and sent on-site representatives (mostly me) to ensure the process went smoothly. There can be stress doing Covid testing and we've tried to take on every bit of that possible so that our group leaders don't have to worry. Every single Passports traveler this Spring has returned home on-time without quarantine.

Will we still have to test in the summer?

We don't know! Airlines and travel groups are lobbying the government to remove the restrictions but the CDC recently (April 13) extended the mask mandate and testing requirement for two more weeks until May 3. Maybe they'll extend it again. Maybe they'll remove it. Tough to say. Either way, we'll be prepared!

Tell me the good news!

Little by little, Covid restrictions are being removed throughout Europe and at home. 

Non-Covid Stuff

What's new in sales?

Gosh, it feels like Covid is all I talk about these days, but it's a great time to get started with Passports for 2023/2024. Why? We're offering a free, orientation tour to first-time Passports group leaders.

A free, orientation tour for first-time Passports group leaders??? Amazing!

Yes! It is. Something that we've learned is that most group leaders with other tour companies, (ahem, EF & Explorica), don't realize that for just a bit more money, you can seriously upgrade your tour by traveling with Passports. When we say, 'city-center hotels', we mean right in the middle of the city!

We've heard Explorica representatives say that they don't believe that Passports offers individual beds in city-center hotels because it would be too expensive. Passports participants all get their own beds!!! We've heard EF reps say that the food can't be that much better. The food on our tours is amazing! It's delicious and often too much for this grown man.

You seem confident about the quality of your tours. How about you guarantee it?

Passports offers the best-quality tours - for an affordable price. If you can't give us an 'A' on your post-tour evaluation, we'll give an extra $200 per participant off your next tour! That's how confident we are that you will have an amazing tour and that you'll love the value that we offer.

If you're even a bit curious, give us a shot to win you over.

We'll put you in touch with group leaders, like yourself, who have taken groups with EF/Explorica/Worldstrides/ACIS and have since made the switch to Passports. They will tell you what our tours are like and how much more value Passports offers.

We want to introduce group leaders to the Passports way of traveling with a group. Great hotels. Great food. Amazing, life-altering, A+ customer service. I, Dave Markle, the President of the company, have been in Europe for two months, meeting every group leader possible and making sure that everything was going to plan - and it has.

You've been in Europe for two months? Where?

London, York, the English countryside, Paris, Loire Valley, Nice, Florence, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Seville, Lisbon, Dublin and Amsterdam. I have met with dozens of groups and personally seen to the return Covid testing for hundreds of our travelers.

So, how has the travel year gone?

It's been nearly perfect. We've had a bad hotel and a bad dessert (sorry, Quincy Notre Dame, hope you enjoyed your plastic ice cream cup!). Other than those hiccups, the travel services have been A+. Our team has worked 24/7 for months to make this year happen and have it go so smoothly. From air and land operations, customer service, sales, the tour directors and overseas support staff - everyone has done an amazing job. Let's go, team!!!

Note: no Passports group will ever stay at the bad hotel or eat at the restaurant that served ice cream in plastic cups. These things happen sometimes. It's unavoidable. What matters is what you do about it.

I appreciate you all. Together, we can build the world that we want to see.

Dave Markle

Category: For Teachers, Dave's Desk


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passports Educational Group Travel partners with teachers across the United States to provide high-quality educational travel experiences to their students. Educational tours visit destinations around the world - primarily France, Italy, England, Spain and Costa Rica - at low, guaranteed prices.

Passports, Inc., ToursOperators & Promoters, Spencer, MA


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