Planning Private Journeys in a Time of Uncertainty

Planning Private Journeys in a Time of Uncertainty

Sep 24, 2020|Independent JourneysNews| by Holbrook Travel
Special guest post by Andrea Holbrook, Holbrook Travel President

Just as I was about to say goodbye to my dear friend and morning walking partner, she called out: 

“We need to plan something to look forward to!”

My friend’s comment resonated with me as I thought about how, during this pandemic, we have been adapting to uncertainty. We have not known what will happen with aspects of our life that before were immutable events: the end of school semesters, graduations, summer trips, and even the beginning of school. All of this ambiguity has made planning very difficult — the only certainty is that we will have to wait and see.

However, there are ways in which it can make sense to plan. For many of us, travel is a way of life. The thirst to experience a beloved destination again or to explore a new one is just part of who we are. And for many families or small groups of friends that are used to traveling together, these journeys are important and meaningful events.

We call these types of private journeys “FIT” (Free Independent Travel). It could be a couple traveling to the Galápagos Islands, a family to Costa Rica, or a group of friends going birding to Colombia. 

 Photo by Kayak Jaco

Although it might seem counterintuitive to think about planning an international FIT now, there are some important reasons why this is actually a very good time to plan.

Time flies

International travel takes time to coordinate. Is there a graduation coming up? An anniversary? An important milestone in 2021 or 2022? You can select a program from our FIT offerings or customize a program for your private group for next year and have something on hold as you and your party evaluate things and decide if you feel comfortable traveling. 


You can reserve the dates for your group at no risk until 95 days prior to the scheduled departure. Your land reservations can be held now and you can wait until closer to your departure to purchase air tickets. Additionally, regardless of the number of days before departure, if borders close either in your destination or in the US, the program is fully refundable (with some rare exceptions, in which case a credit will be offered).

Beat the rush

As countries continue to re-open, there will be pent-up demand for some key regions. Especially if you are interested in traveling during what is traditionally a high season for a particular destination (e.g. summer in Peru or Galápagos), waiting could mean missing out.

An opportune time to visit

For many early birds getting out into the field, the experience is going to be amazing. The lack of crowds and low volume of tourism is such a special treat when it comes to experiencing a destination. You will be welcomed like long-lost friends in the destinations where we work, and your tourism dollars are helping to restart a vital industry that supports the sustainability of the destination.

Extra safety with a private group

Perhaps most importantly, you and your party can travel within your “bubble” in a way that is self-contained. Not only does this allow you to maximize your time and adjust your plans to your party’s needs and interests, but it also limits any close contact with others. Holbrook is currently working with its network of partners overseas to ensure testing is in place for guides/drivers. Throughout your program, hotels and service providers will adhere to protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

As you can see, there are many reasons why now is a good time to plan. We recently undertook a survey to gauge traveler feelings during this time—especially vis-à-vis traveling within a private journey—that showed many travelers are making plans based on health and safety protocols in place.

We believe that a vaccine notwithstanding, the improvements in COVID-19 testing may well prove to be an important factor for travel. As tests become faster, more affordable, and widely available, so too will activities like travel become safer and more accessible.

Despite the uncertainty, for many, it is worthwhile to have something to look forward to. So, by all means, go ahead and schedule a 15-minute call with a member of our team and put something on the horizon that you can look forward to.

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