Over the last several years, the U.S. government has been warning everyone that a new type of ID will be required if you ever need to fly domestically, or access certain federal buildings.
Louisiana has been offering the Real ID since 2016, but there are many states throughout the country that are still not fully compliant which is why the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced earlier this year that the deadline is extended until May 7 of 2025.
In order to get the Real ID, mainly identified by a star in the corner of your driver's license, you need to come to the DMV with certain documentation, including a birth certificate or passport, your social security card, and 2 documents to establish residency, such as a utility bill or bank statement.
In case you were wondering, only about 30% of Louisiana residents currently have the REAL ID.
If you don't ever plan on flying anywhere or entering a federal building, then you may be ok - but if there's the slightest possibility that a loved one might pass away in another state you need to fly to, or you enter a contest that requires you to show up on the other side of the country to claim your winnings - you might want to get it.
Just to be safe.
Speaking of being safe, if you're planning on traveling to another country and you need to renew or get a new passport in the next year or so, you might want to go ahead and apply for it - like yesterday. The U.S. State Department announced this past spring that due to demand, processing times are much longer. Up to 9 weeks if you pay the fee to expedite - up to 13 weeks if you don't. The government has even resorted to offering special events called "Passport Fairs" ... which is great if you live in California or New Jersey... but not so great if you don't.
If you're taking a cruise you may be inclined to think that you don't need a passport. That's because many cruises that leave from U.S. soil and return to U.S. soil are considered a "closed loop" cruise which means you can show a birth certificate and driver's license and avoid needing a passport. Sure, you can certainly do it this way, but like it is with most attempts to take the easy way out... there's a risk. When you enter another country without a passport, there's a risk you'll end up stranded should something happen - the Segway you're riding on your Cozumel excursion gets hit by a car or your appendix bursts and while you're in the hospital trying to get it all sorted out, your cruise ship goes on to the next port and you're stuck in another country waiting for the U.S. embassy or your Congressman back home to help you fast-track a passport.
Whether you're renewing your about-to-expire passport, or need a new one altogether, pay for the expedited process, and pay for the quicker mail return. Otherwise, you're at the mercy of the passport processor AND the U.S. mail. And that's a whole other subject, isn't it?
As more vaccines are made available, we are hearing from more and more clients who are ready to schedule travel and sign up for tours. Our summer and fall travel seasons are looking strong! So, are you still trying to decide where you want to travel this year? We have some suggestions - in no specific order - but don't wait too long to choose, because we'd hate for you to end up on a waitlist.
1. Grand Canyon
Enjoy walking in wide open spaces and the beauty of the West when you join us for this tour that explores places like Oak Creek Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon and Monument Valley, famous for being a filming location for Western-themed movies.
2. Best of Arkansas Summer
This was a tour that we first introduced in 2020 with great interest from clients that had to be delayed due to the pandemic. We're currently a little over halfway full for this tour that offers the chance to stay at 3 different historic and beautiful resort lodges, and visits to the Crystal Bridges Museum, Walmart Museum and a performance of the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs. Can't make it for this one? We also have an Arkansas Fall tour happening.
3. Kentucky/Noah's Ark Summer
Our Noah's Ark/Kentucky tour has been a popular one since we introduced it a few years ago. Clients can enjoy a full day at the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter, exploring what it might have been like to have lived aboard the Ark during the Great Flood talked about in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Other highlights include the Corvette Museum and the Kentucky Horse Park. This tour is almost full and has a very limited number of openings left before we go to waitlist.
4. Yellowstone/Mt. Rushmore
Celebrate the 4th of July at Mount Rushmore, get a scoop of Huckleberry ice-cream, and gaze in amazement at all of the incredible wildlife that Yellowstone offers like bison, bighorn sheep, elk, moose and more. Other highlights include the Badlands, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Grand Tetons. This is another tour that is almost full and has a very limited number of openings left before we go to waitlist.
5. Cape Cod
Lobster, lobster, lobster! Did we mention we love the lobster on this tour? But we also can't leave out the mussels and clams - the food alone is worth going on this trip, and being from Louisiana, you know if we're mentioning the food, it must be delicious! This tour includes 4 nights in the same hotel with visits to the Islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.
One of our client favorites, our Colorado with Trains tour is a trip NOT TO MISS if you love the idea of seeing panoramic views from the comfort of your train car. Our clients can't stop raving about the beauty of the fall foliage they encounter, including the golden hues of the Quaking Golden Aspens and many sign up for this trip multiple times because it's just that good.
7. Pioneer Woman
Travel to Pawhuska, Oklahoma with us and enjoy all the fan-girling (or fan-guying) you want over all things Pioneer Woman! Home of Food Network Star Ree Drummond, also known as the Pioneer Woman, we'll spend time in the Pioneer Woman's Mercantile, and enjoy an included dinner featuring a couple of the Pioneer Woman's recipes, and we may even get a chance to tour the Drummond Lodge (subject to production schedules). We'll also visit a few other highlights around town as well. This trip has received strong interest in recent days so don't wait to book your spot!
8. New England
Our New England Fall Foliage tour has remained our most popular tour out of any of the tours we do, and typically fills up early, which is why we offer this tour twice each year. The blaze of color you see - reds, greens, oranges, and yellows, the quaint Norman Rockwell-esque towns you travel through, the covered bridges all offer a sense of nostalgia and a chance to slow down and bask in the beauty of the Fall season. See Niagara Falls, the Norman Rockwell Museum, and Plymouth Rock to name just a few of the amazing stops we make on this tour. We are currently at waitlist for both trips this year, but since it's still early in the year and the possibility is strong that our covid-19 capacity limits will be increased, we encourage you to go ahead and get on the list.
9. Nashville Christmas
Enjoy this fun holiday-filled trip to Nashville where we stay at the beautiful Opryland Hotel, all decorated for Christmas and get a taste of a Tennessee Christmas with a special Country Christmas Dinner & Show, a performance at the Grand Ole Opry, and plenty of time to explore downtown Nashville on your own or the resort and all of its many Christmas activities.
10. Biltmore/Greenbrier Christmas
We combined our Biltmore and Greenbrier tours into one merry holiday tour a couple of years ago to rave reviews from our clients. This tour combines the beauty and the spirit of the holidays as you visit one historic home and one historic hotel, both beautifully decorated and both offering wonderful, entertaining stories of times gone by. This tour still has plenty of space but we encourage you to sign up early.
As we continue to work towards bringing back travel, we want to keep you up to date with the rapid changes happening when it comes to travel and the COVID-19 pandemic.
From our partners at ALG Vacations...
On Jan. 12, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers entering the United States. This requirement will go into effect on Jan. 26, 2021.
According to the CDC, air passengers entering the U.S. will be required to present documentation of a negative COVID-19 viral test (called a Qualifying Test) conducted within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs.
Alternatively, passengers may provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 with documentation of test results conducted during the three months preceding the flight’s departure from a foreign country.
Finally, all airline passengers will be required to present a simple CDC attestation form to the airline for collection prior to boarding. That form can be found here for reference.
For more information, you may reference the FAQs on the CDC website, which can be found here.
Dear Travel Friends,
When we started our travels this year, we were excited about 2020 and the many beautiful destinations scheduled. We saw great groups for our Yellowstone in Winter, our Key West tour, our Iceland tour, as well as our Hawaii group cruise. More people showed interest in traveling and the possibility of expanding our tours was on the horizon. Little did any of us know how quickly a pandemic would put the brakes on our travels and normal life routines.
As you might imagine, this was an extremely devastating year for the travel industry, and Zachary Travel did not go untouched. All totaled, we were forced to cancel 36 of our tours this year. But, together with our general manager, Nancy Horn, I made the commitment back in March that first, this agency would not shut our doors and second, every client whose tour was cancelled would receive a full refund.
We made the very difficult decision to lay off our entire staff early on, and I am grateful for their willingness to still volunteer to help out when they could. I’m also very thankful to Nancy, who manned the office for months by herself while we waited for suppliers to refund us so we could in turn refund our clients.
Let me also say thank you to so many of you who patiently waited for those refunds to come. We know it wasn’t easy waiting months to receive your money back for tours that didn’t go. I believe it speaks to the strong relationships we have with you, as evidenced by the fact that we did not have one chargeback against our agency by a client - something that the credit card merchants have told us is certainly not the norm for travel agencies this year.
I’m also very happy to report that in a year where many travelers found their money completely lost or only partially recovered from travel suppliers, our office has refunded all of our clients who had group tours scheduled with us, and our staff are back and working. It is good to see activity in the office once again and it is wonderful hearing from you, our clients.
2021 will certainly be a rebuilding year for travel. We have tried to schedule our year with pandemic restrictions in mind, placing our international tours in the second half of the year with hopes that borders will open and restrictions will lessen once a vaccine is offered. For the time being, we will still limit our domestic motor coach tours to half capacity (28 travelers on a 56-passenger coach) and face coverings will be required when moving on and off and about the coach or when unable to social distance from others not in your party.
We have been back leading tours since the beginning of September and while different, we have seen that traveling during a pandemic can still be done safely. We’ve taken groups to Kentucky, the Smokies, and we’re looking forward to our Nashville and Biltmore/Greenbrier tours to complete this unusual year. If you’d like to see pictures of our tours, I’d encourage you to visit our Facebook and Instagram pages (keyword Zachary Travel).
If you haven't yet done so, you can see our complete list of 2021 tours here on our website. Please be aware that because of our limited number for signups, it’s important that you get your deposits in early to avoid the waitlist. Tours that we’re already seeing good response to include the Kansas City Quilt Show (a quilting tour), South Africa, Yellowstone, Washington/Oregon, Canadian Rockies, Holy Land in Fall and New England Fall Foliage.
For the most up-to-date information concerning any of our trips, or specific itineraries, please call our office at (225) 654-9210 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sara, Becky and Jessy will be happy to assist with any questions you may have.
Many of you enjoyed using the discount we offered last year; we are once again offering this to our travelers though slightly modified.
If you know of anyone who would like to be added to our database and receive our mailouts, please send us their names and addresses, or pass this information on to them so they can contact us. If you would prefer that your name be removed from our database, please call and let us know. We are utilizing email more often due to the problems we’ve seen with mail this year, so if you are not on our email list, you may sign up at zacharytravel.com. You can also keep up with us on our Facebook and Instagram pages.
I’ve greatly enjoyed traveling with many of you over the years and this year of not traveling has been very hard, but the hope of traveling again is what keeps us all going. Your participation in our survey is appreciated as it helps us gain fresh understanding on what our clients want to do in a post-pandemic travel year. I hope to see you on one or more of our 2021 tours very soon. Stay healthy and well.
Owner, Zachary Travel
The first half of 2020 has certainly been filled with much uncertainty and quite frankly, disappointment for our staff and our clients who had so many plans for travel this year. The travel industry as a whole has been dealt an enormous blow due to the pandemic and COVID-19. Many of you have called or written over the past few months expressing your concern for our agency and for our staff. Please know that we greatly appreciate hearing from you. We miss seeing your faces and experiencing the sights, sounds and destinations so many of us were anticipating seeing this year.
So far, we have cancelled 29 of our tours this year - all of our spring and summer tours as well as all of our international and domestic flight tours to the end of the year. As you can imagine, it takes time to process the numerous refunds that come with those cancellations, and while we have refunded many, we have many more left to refund that our staff are diligently working to complete. We appreciate your patience with us as we know the delays can be frustrating, but please be assured, that if you are still waiting, you will receive your refund.
We have eight fall tours and five Christmas tours still on the schedule and we are anticipating that we will still be able to go. We want you to know about some changes we are making as we implement new policies and procedures in order to ensure the health of our clients and guides while still being able to visit and explore.
Our tours this fall, beginning with our rescheduled Kentucky/Noah’s Ark tour, September 1-5, will have twice the space as we are limiting signups to 28 passengers on our 56-passenger motor coaches. Coaches will be cleaned and sterilized at each break and stop, and temperatures will be checked each morning. Masks will be required except for eating and drinking. Insurance and liability waivers (enclosed) must also be signed and returned in order to travel with us.
We still have some or more availability on all of our remaining tours if you have interest or know friends and family who do. Full itineraries can be found by clicking on each tour below.
Please contact our office by phone (225.654.9210) or by email (email@example.com) with any questions or concerns. Beginning July 6, our office is open from 9am-1pm Monday through Friday if you need to stop by. Please wear a mask or face covering. You can also check our website at zacharytravel.com for updates.
These are certainly unusual days we are all dealing with. We hope you’re staying healthy and well.
We are sad to announce that due to numerous cancellations by clients and low numbers for our trips we were still planning to take to Arkansas, Yellowstone, and Canadian Rockies, we have cancelled all of our group tours through the end of July. We are still hopeful that our tour to Nova Scotia at the end of August will still go, along with our fall motor coach tours.
If you purchased travel insurance through us, you do not need to contact the insurance company. We will submit a list of clients with travel insurance for each tour to Allianz requesting that your premiums be refunded.
Please be aware that due to the volume of refunds that everyone in the travel industry is dealing with along with limited staffing challenges, there could be longer delays than normal. This includes the insurance company as well as our office. It is realistic to expect your refund within 30 to 60 days and not before. This is not our normal mode of operation and we apologize for the inconvenience but unfortunately, these are not normal times we are working in.
Changes in Travel
The health and safety of our clients is our top priority. As the country works towards restarting the economy and people begin traveling again, we wanted you to know of the extra precautions and policies we are implementing for these first trips on the road after the stay-at-home orders are lifted, until further notice.
How we are handling final payment deadlines and cancellations:
If you change your mind about a trip, you must cancel before the final payment deadline in order to receive a refund. If you cancel after the final payment deadline, you must have travel insurance to receive a refund - and the cancellation reason must be a covered reason by the insurance company.
If you are traveling with us, please go ahead and send in your final payment by your tour's final payment deadline. We will hold your payment until 30 days before the tour when we will make our final decision on whether the trip will still go. As more areas open up and restrictions are loosened, this may change in the fall.
Insurance and cancellations:
Should we as an agency decide to cancel the trip and you have not already cancelled with us, you will receive a full refund and we will request that the insurance company return your insurance premium.
PLEASE NOTE: if you cancel your reservation after the final payment deadline but before our agency cancels a tour, you will have to file an insurance claim in order to receive a refund, and you will not be eligible to get your insurance premium back.
If you do not purchase insurance and cancel after the final payment deadline, you will not receive a refund. In the past, we have made many exceptions for clients who found themselves in this situation, but we are unable to do this going forward. You are strongly encouraged to purchase travel insurance.
We hope these additional steps will help alleviate concerns you may have for traveling as we look towards departing for our fall tours. Of course, all of our tours are contingent upon state and federal government guidelines, and a decrease in COVID-19 cases. We will be in touch with any updates or changes as we get closer to our tours departing.
Please submit your travel liability and travel insurance waivers (enclosed) with your final payments which you will receive in the mail from us as we get closer to each tour. We must have these on file in order for you to travel with us. You may mail them, or scan them and email them if your payment has already been made.
Thank you for your business. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, you can contact us at the office at 225.654.9210 during our limited office hours from 9am-12 noon Monday through Friday or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Travel and Tourism Week is May 3-9 this year, and as you might imagine, this year feels a little different. While we're still celebrating love of travel and the #SpiritOfTravel, most of us are, in fact, not traveling at the moment thanks to COVID-19.
We miss our clients and we miss traveling. This pandemic has hit the travel industry and everyone who works in it in painfully hard ways, and it’s been hard to put our feelings and our experience as an agency into words when we know so many other industries and businesses have been impacted as well.
But we can’t offer curbside delivery.
We can't offer "trips to go", though the thought is funny to think about, in a wry, ironic sort of way.
We can’t sell products online, because what we sell isn't really a product.
We sell experiences.
We get people going.
We get people moving.
We help people discover all of the wonderful places and history and food and stories this amazing world offers.
So when the world goes still, so does travel.
But we will come back, and our tours will resume and our personal trip planning for families and individuals will start up once again. And when that time comes, we hope you’ll consider supporting us the way you (and we) have supported other small businesses during this time.
Don’t book that flight online - let us do it for you.
Instead of that Air BnB (which doesn’t work with travel agencies), let us find a great beach house or condo for you.
Let us plan your first family road trip back out, and book your hotels.
Let us do the booking for your next Disney or Universal trip.
Get together with your friends and sign up for one of our group tours and leave all of the planning to us.
No, you won’t always get “a deal” when you use a travel agency. You won’t always get cheaper. But cheaper isn’t always better when it comes to travel. “You get what you pay for” can sometimes ring really true, and you won’t get “cheap” with us because we don’t sell cheap trips. We won’t book you in substandard hotels or put you with subpar tour operators. Remember, we sell experiences and we want your experience to be amazing.
So… you won’t get “cheap” with us. What you will get is amazing value. And you will get excellent service. You will get people who love travel and love helping people travel and have the resources and experience to help you plan an amazing trip. You will get people who remember you, who know you by name, who learn what you like and what you don’t like, and who will go above and beyond when something doesn’t go right and a flight gets delayed or a hotel gives you problems or a cruise gets canceled.
We are the ones who will be on the phone at 10pm on a Saturday when your international flight gets canceled and you just want to get home.
We are the ones on the phone navigating all of the rescheduling with airlines and hotels and tour operators when your first flight gets delayed and threatens to completely mess up your entire vacation.
We are the ones who will get up at 6am to book those Disney fast passes for you while you get your child ready for their first day of school.
We are the ones ready to answer all of your questions no matter how many you have, and if we don’t know the answer, we will find out.
We aren’t just in the travel business. We’re in the people business. And we’re looking forward to being with our people again very soon.
Happy National Travel Week! Let's plan a trip!
NOTE TO OUR CLIENTS: We are in the process of sending a letter out by mail to each of our clients impacted by our current tour cancellations (this is a large number), but we are posting this on our website as well for those who are comfortable online and may see this update sooner through this format. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work with limited staffing and resources during this time.
April 1, 2020
I hope this finds you staying safe and healthy and at home. I wanted to send you an update on our tours for 2020.
As we have monitored world events and government updates related to COVID-19, we’ve also been in ongoing communication with our travel suppliers and industry experts. We have made the difficult decision to cancel all tours scheduled through the end of May, as well as the majority of our domestic tours by air and all of our international tours by air through the end of this year.
This decision includes the following: Big Bend, Pioneer Woman/Oklahoma, Grand Canyon, Holy Land Summer, South Africa, Russia, San Francisco, Alaska Land, Albuquerque/Balloon Fest, Italy, Nile River/Egypt, and Australia/New Zealand.
Refunds will take longer to process than usual. This is because we must wait to receive refunds from our suppliers. Unfortunately, due to the shutdowns around the country as well as the volume of cancellations that everyone in our industry is dealing with, we have to expect a longer delay than what is the norm. Please know your money is safe and our staff is working hard to process your refunds as we are able.
Some of our clients have asked us to transfer their deposits/payments to another tour or to hold their payments to apply to another tour later and this option is available for those who want it. We can do this on a request basis, but you must contact us and let us know you’d like to do this. Otherwise, we will issue you a refund. We do hope to release our 2021 tour schedule in June.
Please contact our office by phone (225.654.9210) or by email (email@example.com) with any questions or concerns. Our staffing is extremely limited at this time (currently 9am-12noon Monday-Friday), as we follow the state and federal stay-at-home guidelines, but we are checking voicemail and will respond as soon as possible. You can also check our website at zacharytravel.com for updates.
Due to the current stay-at-home order for the state of Louisiana, our office hours are from 9am-noon, Monday through Friday, with limited staffing as we are rotating staff who will take turns working in the office and working from home. We are not accepting walk-ins or in-person visits at this time. Please call us at 225.654.9210 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Zachary Travel is a full-service travel agency that's served the travel needs of Zachary, Baton Rouge, and clients in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and beyond for almost 40 years. Contact us at 225.654.9210 or email us at email@example.com.