FROM THE BALTIC TO THE BLACK SEA
Published: 09 June 2020
How will we travel post-Covid?
The start of 2020 for Baltic Holidays was looking as rosy as the formal flower beds at Rundale Palace. We had some detailed and charming itineraries booked for our clients, more guests wanting to experience things ‘off the beaten track’, more clients stepping away from the main tourist sites and appreciating the smaller things - our message was getting across; stay overnight in a manor house, venture out to the coast, try Kaliningrad or a Lithuanian farm-stay for something completely different …
Then Covid-19 hit. We found ourselves trapped in the ‘koshmaras’ (nightmare in Lithuanian) of shielding our own families, some of us getting ill, worldwide panic and the bottom falling out of the travel industry. The last year has been an emotional whirlwind working closely with our clients and suppliers, postponing travel dates, and trying to find a solution for every unique and intricate bespoke itinerary. It has been heart-breaking to cancel itineraries that we worked so hard to create, and heart-warming to find that so many of our clients want to postpone their travels to a later date. As we start to take stock and look to the future, our commitment is to honour our clients’ tours responsibly and safely.
As a small independent family-run travel company our aim has never been to be big, but we want to be brilliant – quality has always been the goal, not quantity. We are the tour operator equivalent of a local specialist shop. We have no shareholders or hidden management. The profits from our tours really do buy school shoes for our kids! We think these small, personal, grassroots connections that we have worked so hard to create with our clients, suppliers, and officials – as well as within our team - will help us to recover that rosy outlook, post-pandemic.
It’s easy to social distance in our ‘escape from it all’ destinations.
We can’t wait to welcome you back – but what will travel be like?
Throughout the pandemic, there has been a lot of talk in the media about what travel will be like in the future. Is this the chance to reassess global travel trends? An opportunity to reduce tourism’s impact on the environment? The consensus is that things must change, with a lot of references to mindful, slow travel, sustainable travel, and responsible travel … The vibe seems to be as follows:
- Take fewer short city breaks, replace those with one longer trip to reduce the time travelling and number of flights taken; to travel less but more meaningfully.
We’re happy with that! We’ve always advised clients that if they want to get under the skin of a destination, they need time to really explore. Travel should be relaxing, enlightening and enriching – not a constant flight hop from place to place and under constant pressure to be ‘moving on.’
- Support local communities by staying in locally owned hotels, eat local seasonal produce in local restaurants and cafes, visit local craftspeople or independent shops – making sure that the local economy and communities benefit directly from your custom.
This is what we encourage! We have built-up long-term relationships with our suppliers and only work with people we know and trust. Many of our suppliers have, over time, become friends. And like us, we know that many of our suppliers also use their profits to pay for their kids’ school shoes!
- Explore lesser-known destinations with access to nature; choose private rentals, self-drive tours, private tours, and private guides.
We love to get you off the beaten track and our network of driver guides offer a personal touch that is hard to beat. Private tours mean that we can tailor your itinerary especially for you and it provides flexibility to take into account unexpected circumstances (something that has become even more important in recent times and probably won’t go away any time soon…)
- Cycling, walking, visiting gardens, national parks, outdoor exhibits all provide opportunities for healthy socially distanced activities.
Our destinations are perfectly suited for these and the BH team are all big fans of nature. Our families have personally road tested many of the more unusual activities that you might not have considered and there are things for all ages and abilities. (Anyone for ice fishing or moonlit bog walking?!)
- The advice of a travel professional has never been more valuable; an independent tour operator will be there to help with date changes, recouping money, and know that standards are being met with suppliers.
Let us do the work for you. We’ll negotiate things on your behalf and ask the questions that need answering for you to feel reassured, comfortable, and able to enjoy your trip. We handpick our hotels and local suppliers for their exemplary standards to ensure a clean and conscientious service.
- Clients need financial confidence through flexible booking policies that allow for date or itinerary changes.
We always do our best to be flexible and we know that everyone’s circumstances are different. We will always go out of our way to do the best for our clients – our business has been built on these values and we are not about to change our philosophy now! You can find our new flexible booking policy here.
As I see these recommendations pop up again and again, I'm thinking ‘but this is our ethos already'. In fact, this is the heart and soul of what we do – Stay local, eat local, buy local, meet locals.
Most of our clients are already discerning travellers who share these values. For us, the future of travel isn’t too many steps away from what we have been used to in the past.
We have some wonderful accommodation perfect for social distancing!
During lockdown, I was editing our website and this testimonial popped up – it couldn’t have been better timed. It reminded me that we are experts, and that we do our utmost for our clients, that we have a wonderful team, and this is why we work hard to make Baltic Holidays the best it can be. I had a tear in my eye as I forwarded it to the team to boost morale:
“WITHOUT DOUBT THE FINEST TOUR COMPANY I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED”
They put together an amazing, personalised 1-month tour of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. They drove me to the capitals of each and also to 3 of their incredible beach resorts on the Baltic Sea. There were a lot of moving parts on this tour and it ran like clockwork and any minor hiccup was remedied immediately. I have travelled the world and they are without doubt the finest tour company I have ever encountered, and I will be using them soon for a tour of Russia and Ukraine. The team are terrific and great fun to work with. They go way out of their way to create a flawless experience. Kudos to Jurga, Sarah and Linas for all their amazing work and kindness. If you want to tour the Baltic States, make sure your first call is to Baltic Holidays!!
(Tailor-made Baltic tour, Mr Freston, August 2018)
Whether you have postponed your trip with us or are booking a new tour for 2021/22 we look forward to welcoming you back when it is safe to do so.
Let’s travel less - but better. Forge new connections with local communities, venture further afield and experience more, take our time to appreciate details. Let’s make every holiday moment matter…
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Check out our 2022 Private Tours here
And please get in touch if you have any concerns or queries on [email protected]
Published: 09 June 2020