Is this the start of post-pandemic travel? Hopefully! I am kicking it off with this three-continent trip around the globe. Here’s my plan.
Like many, I have not left my home country in over two years. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was driving around the Nevada desert in a dune buggy. At the same time, it somehow feels like an eternity. Regardless, I am finally getting back out there with another unique trip. I am still putting the finishing touches together on my first international trip in over two years but so far, it’s shaping up to be a good one. Here are all the details.
Although not as epic as my pre-pandemic travel plans, this post-pandemic travel route quickly got away from me. Initially, I was just going to a friend’s wedding in Mexico before heading to Montreal for a few days. This quickly escalated into a trip that has me visiting eight countries on three continents. Along the way, I will be enjoying new experiences and places as well as my very first time travelling in 1st class. Can’t. Wait.
Here’s a full breakdown of my trip including what I have lined up along the way.
This trip kicks off with a weekend visit to Cancun, Mexico. I have a friend who lives there and I am going to attend his wedding before continuing east. I am not normally one to sit still in a resort however after the last two years we have collectively had, I am very much looking forward to doing nothing at a fancy hotel.
Panama City Layover
From Cancun, I make my way south to Panama City. I have always wanted to check out the locks that connect the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and thanks to ToursByLocals, I will get to do just that. This great tour company puts you in contact with locals who love their city and want to show it off. This means I get a local guide that is going to pick me up from the airport and tour me through the lock system and city before dropping me off for my next flight. I am super excited about this stop as it was originally part of my crazy trip planned for 2020 that got cancelled.
Speaking of trips that got cancelled in 2020, from Panama City I am heading to Tbliis Gorigia via Istanbul! In my 2020 travel plan I was supposed to meet my brother there and am happy to say that, two years later, we are picking up this plan. We will be there for a full seven days which is out of the norm for me as I generally try and cram the most in as possible on my trips and stick to ~three days max in a location.
We opted for a week in Georgia as it looks like there is a ton to see, do, and eat. The current plan is to tour the city, take a cooking class (I had Georgian food the last time I was in Turkey and it was incredible!), and take a couple of day trips into the Caucasus Mountains. Georgia is the birthplace of wine so will be sure to trace those roots as well.
For me, the trouble with going as far away from home as a place like Georgia is that I start looking at what else is nearby. If I’m going all that way, what’s another hour to check out Baku, Azerbaijan?
We will be spending a short two days exploring the unique mix of old and new architecture along with bubbling mud volcanos and ancient petroglyphs. Stay tuned for this completely off the map location for me.
From Baku, I say goodbye to my brother and head to southern Turkey. Antalya has long been on my list of places to visit, mainly due to its massive waterfall that flows directly into the Mediterranean. I loved my time in Turkey as the food and hospitality are absolutely tops so any excuse to return is OK with me. Also, I worked with someone who visited Antalya and liked it so much that he and his wife named their daughter after it!
Along with some beachside R&R, I plan to do some photo tours of the old town, a day trip to visit the ancient ruins nearby and possibly make it all the way to Palmuke to experience the unique cascading carbonate minerals created by centuries of thermal spring waters.
From Antalya, I make my way south to the tiny island kingdom of Bahrain. I am only there for a short layover but am jamming in all the highlights including the Tree of Life to the giant causeway connecting the country to mainland Saudia Arabia.
From Bahrain, I pick up my 2020 travel plans again with a visit to Muscat, Oman. This is another country I have wanted to visit for some time. Unlike my time in Dubai, I expect Muscat to offer a more cultured and authentic middle east experience. The city is home to some historic sites like the Mutrah Fort and the countryside includes some incredible natural beauty. This includes Wadi Shab and Wadi Ghul, the Grand Canyon of Oman.Compare prices on Business Class flights with Skyscanner
From Oman, I make my long trek home. My 2020 travel plans had me continuing east through Thailand and Taiwan however, with the pandemic still very much a thing, I thought it best to leave those stops for another day. That and there is a direct flight to London on Oman Air in First Class that was too good to pass on!
How I Booked This Amazing Trip
Not only is this my first international trip, but it’s also my first major and complex Aeroplan booking in over two years. Over this gap, much has changed with the Aeroplan program. With that in mind, I have broken down exactly how I was able to book these 11 flights in business class (and 1st!) using Aeroplan.
From adding a stopover to dealing with call-centre agents and using eUpgrade credits, it’s covered in this extensive Aeroplan post. I hope it helps you with your future bookings!
Since this is my first international trip since the pandemic has started I will be subject to some inconvenient but necessary restrictions along the way. As much as we would hope that this is the start of post-pandemic travel, we are not out of the woods just yet. That said, my hope is these restrictions fade by the time I leave however, currently, the following is still in place.
- Mexico – No testing or quarantine required.
- Panama – No testing or quarantine required.
- Georgia – No testing or quarantine required.
- Azerbaijan -Pre-departure Covid-19 Antigen test required.
- Turkey – No testing or quarantine required.
- Bahrain – No testing or quarantine required.
- Oman – No testing or quarantine required.
- Great Britan – No testing or quarantine required.
- Canada – Pre-departure Covid-19 Antigen test required.
To get back home to Canada I am subject to antigen testing. Although downgraded from a PCR test, it still needs to be done by an approved medical clinic.
JUST after I wrote this, I got Covid. Call it ironic but literally as my province announced they are lifting mandates I get Covid. On the positive (pun intended) I am triple vaxed and symptoms were limited to flu and fever for a day and then a bad head cold. Also on the positive, this may negate any future Covid tests on this trip. With a positive PRC test result, I can avoid the testing requirements in Azerbaijan and when I come home to Canada if they are still required at the time. To be safe, I ordered an at-home PRC test that you send away to a lab for results. It is through Switchhealth which partners with Aeroplan. I just ordered it today so hopefully, it will be here in time to still test positive. Worst case, it nets me 1,000 Aeroplan points and keeps me out of the public while still sick.
The War in Ukraine
This trip is very much in jeopardy due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. I pray for the people of Ukraine and that this senseless occupation ends soon. For myself, I am not concerned about being in such close proximity mainly because I will be arriving from the south. I worry that air space may shut down in parts of Europe and could cause disruptions. There is also concerns with Nuclear Plants being attacked. Again, I will monitor and adjust accordingly. For those looking for ways to help, please consider donating to the Red Cross or other validated charities and causes listed on Charity Intelligence Canada.
On the flip side, I very much look forward to visiting Georgia to discuss the situation with locals there. They have had their own issues with Russia occupying their land and losing a chunk of it in the process.
Hopefully, this trip kicks off the start of post-pandemic travel for me. Time, of course, will tell. One thing for sure, and as I outlined in my new year look ahead post, is I intend to travel during valleys in the pandemic. If it is deemed safe to travel, I will do so.
What about you? Are you ready to travel internationally again? Let me know about your plans in the comments below! Until then, be sure to follow along as I will be sharing the experience along the way through Instagram stories and, of course, this website.
What say you?
Thoughts on this epic Post Pandemic Travel Plan?
Let’s hear it!
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