Friday, 03 February 2023 11:02

Tips to make traveling easier & worry-free

Crowds, delays, staffing challenges, and weather can all throw a wrench for our Globe Aware volunteers’ long-planned dream volunteer vacation. That said, here are a few tips for smart travel that may be more important than ever.


 

Top tips to make traveling easier & worry-free

By MOIRA MCCARTHY
January 22, 2023
THE SUN

Lately, travel hasn’t been easy.

Crowds, delays, staffing challenges, weather; it can all throw a wrench into your long-planned dream trip – or even a quick trip you’ve taken many times before.

That said, there are tips for smart travel that may be more important than ever; ways to ensure that – should things go sideways – you’ll come through with your sanity, property and hopefully the serenity you’re looking for from a getaway.

Here are my “Must Do” Travel Tips for the current travel climate.

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Protect your luggage

It’s easy to declare “never check luggage and you’ll always know where it is!” but life is not that simple. Some trips require more than you can pack into a carry on; sometimes even when you carry on, you end up being forced to check your bag.

Best bet? While many airline apps do a good job of keeping you somewhat informed of your current luggage location, they’re semi-vague (“Your luggage has arrived at your first stop and will be transferred,” For instance).

How to know exactly where it is at all times? Just get smart, like I finally have, and toss an Apple AirTag (https://www.apple.com/airtag) in any and all checked bags.

With an AirTag in action, you can see every movement of your bag in real time. As you walk to a connecting gate, you can actually see your luggage moving on your AirTag as you go along. And should your bag go wayward, you’ll know immediately where it is – a huge help.

A friend on a recent trip had his luggage disappear on a connecting flight and ended up stuck in the Canadian Rockies with no winter gear. Ends up it was sitting in the arrival airport the entire time, lost in a corner. AirTag would have solved that.

They’re easy to use (connect in the Find My part of your Apple device), their batteries last a full year and they’re waterproof. I’ll never travel without them again (and by the way, toss one in your carry on as well, just in case you forget something).

Pad your trip

If you’re going someplace that requires a rock solid arrival day and time (say, a cruise or another adventure that leaves from your flight destination), pad your trip by 24 hours. While it means an additional hotel night, it could also be the difference between making your big trip or not. I look at this as a chance for a mini-destination within a destination.

I’m traveling in late February with an exact arrival need via Vancouver. Rather than get there within a few hours (fingers crossed), I’m arriving a day early and exploring the city. Should I be late from a cancelation, I only miss that, not the start of my important trip. And if I get there on time? An added experience is a good thing.

Dress smart on the plane

In the new era of travel challenges, it’s a good idea to think ahead when you dress for the flight. (Sidenote: remember when flying was glamorous and you dressed up? Times have changed). Think destination, but stopovers too.

If you’re heading from a warm destination to a cold, err on the side of cold. If the opposite, stick with your cold weather clothes but layer or pack one warm weather change of clothing in your carry on. With this, should your luggage be lost or you get stuck someplace, you’ll have both a warm weather and cold weather option. Trust me, the guy I saw in Canada last week stuck in shorts and a T-shirt for days wishes he had.

Don’t assume food and drink on board is a sure thing
While some flights do offer meals for sale (and of course, we’re talking those of us not in first class here), many do not—and sometimes even if they’ve advertised they do, they may just have a small bag of pretzels and some water or – should the flight be a rocky one – not allow flight attendants to serve.

If for some reason you need food and drink on board, bring it yourself to be sure. Carry an empty water bottle through security and then fill it. Make a PB and J at home (but not tuna; no one likes a tuna fish eater on a flight) or purchase a meal at the terminal before boarding. That way, you’re sure to have what you want or need on your flight.

Download the airline AP and join their frequent flyer program
Even if you never use that airline again, the app is almost always your best way to get in touch with customer service (should you need to rebook a flight or have another issue), keep track of flight updates and in some cases, even make purchases on board.

On a recent United Airlines Flight the only option for purchasing things like wifi and snacks was to use the app. Many give discounts for those who have joined as well. Download it and get familiar with it at home before you travel.

Carry on all necessities

Medications, devices, chargers for them and other things you absolutely need should always be carried on (and if you are asked to check a bag gate side, be sure to take those things out of your carry on before they whisk it away. You don’t want to have to spend a day, night or longer without your insulin, other meds or a way to charge your phone.

Don’t let all this planning deter you: Flying still transports you to the places that you dream of visiting. And once you’re there, with smart planning, it all ends well.

Additional Info

  • Source The Sun

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and for loved-up couples, Valentine’s provides the perfect opportunity to spoil someone special and celebrate love with a holiday. Are our Globe Aware volunteers headed to any of the destinations mentioned?


 

Top 20 holiday destinations for Valentine’s Day 2023

By Kristin Mariano
Jan 25, 2023
Travel Daily

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and for loved-up couples, Valentine’s provides the perfect opportunity to spoil someone special and celebrate love with a holiday.

But where are people looking at going this Valentine’s? Looking at average monthly searches across January and February, engagement ring and wedding experts at Queensmith have revealed the most popular holiday destinations to visit with the one you love this Valentine’s Day.

Rank

Keywords

Average monthly searches (Jan-Feb)

1

Barcelona

413,50,000

2

Milan

9,140,000

3

Paris

6,800,000

4

London

4,090,000

5

Madrid

3,720,000

6

Lyon

3,720,000

7

Amsterdam

3,350,000

8

Porto

3,045,000

9

Berlin

2,740,000

10

Istanbul

2,740,000

11

Malta

2,7400,00

12

Belfast

2,590,000

13

Budapest

2,240,000

14

Newcastle

2,240,000

15

Malaga

1,830,000

16

Santorini

1,830,000

17

Tenerife

1,830,000

18

Manchester

1,665,000

19

Rome

1,500,000

20

Dublin

1,360,000

The 20 most popular Valentines holiday destinations

1 Barcelona

Barcelona is the most popular holiday destination during Valentine’s with a huge 413,50,000 average monthly searches across January and February. Barcelona is a fantastic holiday destination with delicious food, beautiful architecture and a fun atmosphere throughout the city. Barcelona makes the perfect Valentine’s holiday destination with a mix of a city break with a beach holiday. Enjoy a romantic date night sipping sangria and eating tapas on a rooftop in the city and then head to the beach for a frolic in the sea, watching the sunset.

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2 Milan

Milan ranked the second most popular holiday destination over the Valentine’s period with 9,140,000 monthly searches. Arguably one of the world’s most stylish cities, Milan is the perfect example of both old and new romance. Beneath the glitz and glamour of the beautiful city, you can find dreamy romantic spots such as a walk along the scenic canals, watching the sunset from the Duomo or heading to the opera.

3 Paris

Widely known as the “city of love”, it’s no surprise Paris is in the top three destinations for Valentine’s Day with 6,800,000 monthly searches. The recent Netflix series ‘Emily in Paris’ has no doubt added to Paris’ popularity. Paris has plenty of romantic restaurants and bars with picturesque backdrops such as the twinkling lights of the Eiffel tower. With beautiful landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre Pyramid, Paris also offers an abundance of romantic proposal opportunities.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Daily

Traveling makes us all empathetic human beings, but traveling with children also makes parenting them a beautiful and enriching experience. Globe Aware volunteers can choose from a variety of family-friendly volunteer vacations.


Why you should travel with your kids more often

Travelling makes us all empathetic human beings, but travelling with children also makes parenting them a beautiful and enriching experience

Author and historian Yuval Noah Harari had said that the ability to share stories is what makes us human. And to me and my kids, travelling as a family is an opportunity to listen to and share endless stories.

By Mansi Zaveri
January 22, 2023
mintlounge


As I write this article, my house is filled with the aroma of lemongrass: our next meal is my favourite Vietnamese Pho, being made per the recipe I from my travels 3 years ago. Near my desk, lie my friend’s binoculars that I borrowed for a recent Jungle Safari to Tadoba National Park, Maharashtra.

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My love for travel stems from my father who booked tickets for every summer holiday 3 months in advance, when we would spend time in the hills as a family, carrying a camera and a Kodak film roll that yielded 36 photos (and how judiciously and wisely we used to spend it!).

In the same way, I have travelled with my kids since they were 4 months old. I call my kids my best travel buddies because they've never made me carry a rice cooker or a mini kitchen ever and they have forgiven me for so many things I’ve forgotten to carry. They can now also knock off to sleep on a flight, bus, train or car ride.

When I look back at my childhood my best memories come from my family holidays. That's probably why I have prioritised travelling with my kids over everything else like lavish birthday parties. Give them a choice, and they too will choose travel over other indulgences.

We find joy in the whole process — planning included. We’d watch videos to put together our itinerary, list out the food we’d love to try; we’d read about the family tree of the many tigers in that forest or learn a bit of the local language. The joys during our travels also come from taking a bite of the fresh produce and local cuisine, be it the creamy hummus and tabouleh in the Middle East, or the Sea Buckthorn juice in Ladakh, or the freshly made Nariyali Bhat in the Konkan belt. These small joys create everlasting memories for me and for them.

I recently interviewed historian and author Yuval Noah Harari. He’d told me that the ability to share stories is what makes us human. And to me and my kids, travelling as a family is an opportunity to listen to and share endless stories.

Be it the story of the ex-Army officer on our recent Ladakh trip who drove our cab, or of the locals who let us into their homes on our trip to the Northeastern states in India, there are stories and unplanned experiences in every one of our travels that we would remember for a long time. Showing my children how different people and their families live, and exposing them to different languages and food makes them aware of the world outside, makes them more compassionate, and makes them patient young human beings. It is anyway what we strive for, but this also makes parenting them a beautiful and enriching experience.

Travel also teaches you life skills — from sharing your food in the train compartment with fellow passengers to waiting for your turn during treks. I distinctly remember one of our travels where my daughter was bitten by a wasp and our local neighbours immediately put some rust on the sting. That is a memory she will carry for a long time, unlike the lessons from her textbooks that she reads day in and day out.

Despite the challenges and stress at times—like the time in remote Pangong Lake when I had a sleepless night caring for my kids battling altitude sickness—the lasting memory is of the spectacular view of the lake. My daughter recently reflected on her experiences from that trip for a school project about lakes and valleys.

Another interesting thing I’ve noticed is that travel lets my children see me in a different light, too. Travelling brings out the child inside me. I remember screaming in joy and calling out for my daughters when I spotted a stingray right outside our villa in Soneva Jani, so they don’t miss it, and of course, so we could capture it in our cameras for posterity.

It’s tough to rank the joys of travel we have had as a family, but 2 instances stand out for me, as a parent. The first is when we went snorkelling in Soneva Jani, with no phones and no distractions, but just shoals of fishes swimming by— that’d made me pause and appreciate the calm quietude surrounding us. The second unforgettable experience was watching a tiger cub and his mom in Tadoba. The cub was playing near the mother, yearning for her attention, as she napped. When the mom finally woke up, she showered the cub with love and licks! We were lucky to get this sight after 4 tiger reserve visits and 24 safaris, but it was well worth the wait — my children saw first-hand, the universality in the language of love between parents and children.

As I finish writing this piece, reminiscing through the endless pictures we’ve clicked from our travels, a card sitting by my daughter’s desk grabs my attention. With flowers and trees all over it, she has written: “My goal is to run out of pages in my passport!”

If I can help my daughter achieve that goal, I would consider it a job, as a parent, well done!

Mansi Zaveri is the founder and CEO of Kidsstoppress.com. She is @mansi.zaveri on Instagram and LinkedIn

Additional Info

  • Source mintlounge

With so many events planned for 2023, and beautiful sites to see, Globe Aware volunteers are guaranteed an exciting time in Jaipur, India. Book a volunteer vacation for spring break, just in time for the Holi festival.


At Jaipur Lit Fest? Here Are MUST HAVE Experiences When In The Pink City

Are you at the Jaipur Literature Festival already? Then are few best things to do when in this royal city.

January 19, 2023
By Jigyasa Sahay
INDIA.COM

Jaipur

Hues of Jaipur Literature Festival is live and blooming. The internationally famed lit fest has kickstarted from today and hosting literary scholars, authors, politicians, business tycoons, and all literature enthusiasts. So, when in Jaipur it is a sin to not explore the colourful royalty of the pink city.

While there is a treasure-load of things to do and unwind in the Jaipur way, here are some of the MUST DO things here.

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Sunset at Jal Mahal

A uniquely designed royal palace, the Jal Mahal gloriously stays afloat on water. The exotic architecture is a combination of Mughal and Rajput characteristics. This water palace is bejeweled and looks stunning when lit up in the evening. Therefore, take a boat ride and enjoy a dusky sunset at this palace.

Shopping Spree at Bappu Bazaar

Go for a shop till you drop moment in colourful bazaars in Jaipur (Pixabay)

When in Jaipur, go crazy over the royal and traditional trinkets, shoes, food and souvenirs. From famous Johari Bazaar, Bapu Bazaar, and more, find some of the most exotics things of Rajasthan here.

Rajasthani culture At Chokhi Dhani

This village exudes the traditional and cultural aspect of Rajasthan. From traditional open air food, camel rides, folk dance, puppet shows , Chokhi Dhani is a thronged by visitors every season. You can also try the colorful Rajasthani turbans eat like a Maharaja!

Explore Iconic Landmarks

City palace – located in the city’s heart, this palace is an example of glorious artwork built with pink and red sandstone. However, the thing which will win your heart just in a fraction of a second is its architecture.

Amer Fort- One of the enthralling things to do in Jaipur that outstands amongst the rest is an elephant ride at Amer Fort. With the large gateways and cobbled path, the fort looks mesmerizing. A light show conducted here every evening makes the fort a must-visit destination in Jaipur with your family.

Nahargarh Fort – People also prefer cycling to this grand fort. A stunning feature of this palace is the Madhavendra Bhawan that has 12 identical suites for the queens. The suites were constructed in such a way that the Maharaja could visit any of the queen’s rooms without the others finding out.

Galtaji Temple - The Galtaji temple is one of the best pilgrimage and prehistoric sites to witness in Jaipur. The walls of this temple are well decorated and attract tourists. This temple is constructed in a way that it looks like a Palace.

Unmissable Food At Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar

The LMB is one of the age-old city classic that has a legacy in Jaipur. Before you head out, make a pit stop at Laxmi Misthan Bhandar (LMB) to pick up boxes of the famous kachoris and ghevar.

So, plan your itinerary and get a wholesome experience in the pink city of Jaipur!

Additional Info

  • Source India.com

Happy Lunar New Year to our celebrating Globe Aware volunteers. Find out what the celebrations are all about and why they are held all over the world!


 Lunar New Year 2023: When is the holiday and what does the Year of the Rabbit represent?

Olivia Munson
Jan 9, 2023
USA TODAY

For some, the new year is rung in on when the calendar turns from December 31 to January 1. But there are many others who celebrate the new year on a different day. The Lunar New Year is an international holiday celebrated in many Asian countries, but not all, and the United States even has its own celebrations.

Unlike western New Year's, the date of Lunar New Year changes depending on the year. But regardless of the date, each culture that celebrates the Lunar New Year has lasting customs, traditions and beliefs.

Globally, around two billion people celebrate the Lunar New Year. Here is what you need to know about the Lunar New Year in 2023: when it is, how long it is and what the Year of the Rabbit represents.

Jan. 22, 2023 marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year also known as the Chinese New Year

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When is Lunar New Year 2023?

Lunar New Year will be Jan. 22, 2023.

How long is Lunar New Year?

Unlike western New Year, Lunar New Year lasts longer than one day. The amount of celebration days depends on the culture. Some observances are longer than others.

The Lunar New Year is based on a different calendar than the Gregorian calendar, which many western countries, including the U.S., use. The calendar is based on the moon's 12 phases. Each phase lasts about 29 days, and the full calendar is around 354 days long.

In China, Lunar New Year lasts from the new moon to the next full moon. This is a fifteen day span until the fifth day of the lunar month, said Xiaoquan Raphael Zhang, director of the Chinese program at American University.

In 2023, Lunar New Year begins on Sunday, January 22 and ends on Sunday, February 5.

The first day of Lunar New Year is called the Spring Festival, and the final day is the Lantern Festival in Chinese culture, said Zhang.

Who celebrates Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year is celebrated throughout many Asian cultures, Zhang said. Among those are Chinese, South Korean, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Filipino and Indonesian culture.

Additionally, each has its own name for New Year. For example, in South Korea, Lunar New Year is called Seollal. In Vietnam, Lunar New Year is called Tết, short for Tết Nguyên Đán.

The number of celebration days also varies depending on the country. In South Korea, Seollal usually lasts for three days, while in China, Lunar New Year spans 15 days. In Vietnam, Tết Nguyên Đán is a week long.

Each country has its own name for Lunar New Year. In Vietnam, Lunar New Year is called Tết, short for Tết Nguyên Đán.

What does Lunar New Year signify?

Similar to how people celebrate December 31 and January 1 each year, Lunar New Year represents letting go of the past year to bring in the new one and all its possibilities.

"This is a big celebration," said Zhang. "Saying goodbye to the past year to pass and also welcome in the new year; peace, abundance and also prosperity."

Another key aspect to Lunar New Year is community. Families will come together to eat feasts and practice cultural customs.

For instance, people will clean their homes to get rid of the bad luck from the previous year. In China, there is a tradition to eat fish, as it is a sign of good luck and abundance, Zhang said. But the fish is not finished since the leftovers are said to provide extra money, savings or surplus for the new year.

It also important for families for pay respects to the older generations. Likewise, elders will give to the younger generations for health and progress into the new year. In many cultures, younger people will receive red envelopes with money.

"They want to give out and show their kindness to the young generation," said Zhang.

"This family reunion that signifies peace, abundance, prosperity also carries people (who are) waiting for the whole community, for the whole country, to be peaceful."

What does the Year of the Rabbit represent?

In the Chinese Zodiac, there are 12 animals; each with its own attributes and characteristics. These 12 animals coincide with the lunar calendar and fall in a 12-year cycle.

The order of the Chinese Zodiac is:

  1. Rat
  2. Ox
  3. Tiger
  4. Rabbit (in Vietnam, the rabbit is replaced by cat)
  5. Dragon
  6. Snake
  7. Horse
  8. Goat
  9. Monkey
  10. Rooster
  11. Dog
  12. Pig

Last year, 2022, was represented by the tiger, which is commonly associated with bravery, courage and strength. This year, 2023, will be the year of the rabbit.

"People believe that the people born in that year will carry some of the nature or the property of these animals," said Zhang.

For the rabbit, people born in its year are seen as caring, attentive to details and likely to follow rules, he said. They are also said to be successful in their careers and good at making friends.

 

Additional Info

  • Source USAToday
Thursday, 19 January 2023 10:16

Now is the time to book travel for 2023

Many Globe Aware volunteers are still recovering from holiday travel, but now is the time to book your 2023 volunteer vacation! See what tips you could follow to help book your flights for cheaper.


Now is the time to book travel for 2023

Many Texas families are still recovering from holiday travel disasters, but now is the time to book your travel for 2023.

By Niccole Caan
January 10, 2023
KENS5


SAN ANTONIO — There are perks to traveling off-peak.

“It’s a sneaky good time to always find a great deal,” said Katy Nastro of Scott’s Cheap Flights.

You can find cheap flights for this month and next. Look at these flight fares available now:

“San Antonio over to Hawaii, you can get a round trip ticket for $399,” Nastro said. “That’s roundtrip on a full-service domestic airline, which is fantastic. So maybe you want to take advantage of winter weather outdoor activities. You could go from San Antonio to Denver, hit the slopes, for $155 roundtrip, again on a full-service domestic airline like Delta, American, or United. Then maybe you want to head outside of the country. I just recently did a search and found San Antonio to Madrid $583 roundtrip.”

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Plus, now is the time to start planning and booking spring break travel.

“Flights are only going to get more expensive. If you find a deal, you need to jump on it right now,” said Clint Henderson with the travel website The Points Guy. “But here’s the thing, don’t immediately book your flights, but set a Google alert. Just do some price comparison.”

Use Google Flights to find fares and set an alert to track the price. Also, adjust the days you plan to travel. Try this trick:

“Traveling on a Tuesday or Wednesday and a Saturday are potentially always cheaper,” Nastro said. “You’re going to find you’ll have a better chance of finding a better price on those days and traveling between those days just because Mondays and Fridays are actually considered business traveler days.”

Nastro said the “Goldilocks Window” to book a flight to find the best price is three to seven months for domestic fares and four to 10 months for international flights.

Next, book not just your flight but a full vacation package through the airline for a deal.

“You combine the airfare with the hotel whenever you’re going for savings as much as 40% off,” Henderson said. “There’s some real big savings to be had by booking vacation packages.”

Consider only taking a carry-on bag on your flight to further save. Plus, continue tracking the price of your flight even after you buy it.

“If it does in fact decrease in price, you can always call the airline, cancel your ticket, get a credit, and then rebook that same flight at that new price because you’re doing it within the hour,” Nastro said.

She said that if you do cancel and rebook a flight at a lower price, it is essential you do it within an hour so the price does not change.

Both Henderson and Nastro said to look at using any loyalty points toward your flight.

“We tend to forget that we have these (points) accrued,” Nastro said. “It doesn’t hurt to just check that and see if you can save there.”

“Use points and miles you’ve been hoarding during the pandemic,” Henderson said. “We’ve already seen, this year, devaluation of some of the loyalty programs. So those points, those miles you’ve accumulated, they only go down in value. If you’re seeing high cash fares and you have a points balance, now is the time to cash those points in.”

Another place to find serious savings is on the seas. You can save 20-40% on a trip by taking a cruise.

“It’s sort of the last area of the travel industry to recover and they still need to fill those ships, which they sometimes still have trouble doing,” Henderson said.

A flight or cruise may not be in the budget, but you can still save.

“It’s actually a great time to check out activities and even get great prices on hotels and rental cars and all of the things that really involve taking a trip just because it is a low season,” Nastro said.

That means low prices for any trip near or far.

Additional Info

  • Source KENS5
Tuesday, 17 January 2023 09:16

Seven Wonders of the World to Visit in 2023

The long-awaited Trans Bhutan Trail, a 250-mile long distance-trekking route that crosses the country is now awaiting our eager Globe Aware volunteers. Visit the wondrous country of Bhutan and explore villages, temples, and 12 mountain passes to experience the ultimate way to see one of the last great Himalayan kingdoms.


Seven Wonders of the World to Visit in 2023

Author Aaron Millar elects seven new wonders every year—the most awe-inspiring places on the planet for star-gazing, wildlife spotting, and astonishing panoramas

BY AARON MILLAR
Condé Nast Traveller U.K.
January 6, 2023

Seven Wonders of the World for 2023

Of the original Seven Wonders of the World, only one—the Great Pyramids of Giza—still exists. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Temple of Artemis, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus have all faded to dust and memory. These, instead, are seven new wonders for our time. They are the Acropolis of our day, the Stonehenge of now. Which also means they can be seen firsthand. And so they should. Because the real magic of wonder is not in the thing itself, but in the fact that the more you look for wonder in the world the more the wonder of the world becomes a part of you.

Wonder is nourishment for the soul. We are the only animal on earth, as far as we know, that can be moved to tears by a sunset, that marvels at the stars at night, that feels awe, and humility, at the achievements of our past. Wonder defines us as human beings. Socrates said: “Wisdom begins in wonder.” Studies show that the awe induces deeper levels of cognitive processing; it boosts empathy and helps us connect with the world around us in meaningful ways. Art and science are borne from it. Wonder is more than just a good feeling; it is a seed from which our greatest treasures grow.

Explore, dream and feed your spirit well. These are 7 new wonders of the world for 2023.

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1. Mont Saint-Michel, France

1,000 years ago, in 1023, work began building this astonishing Gothic-style Benedictine abbey, known throughout the medieval world as the ‘Wonder of the West’.

It’s easy to see why. Teetering on top of a rocky outcrop, half a mile out to sea in the middle of the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, it looks like something dreamt up in a fairytale. Located on the border of Normandy and Brittany, the bay is home to Europe’s largest tidal range, reaching close to 50 feet in spring. At low tide, it’s possible to walk barefoot to the abbey crossing the vast sandflats that surround it. At high tide, it appears to float on the sea like an ocean mirage.

It took 500 years for it to be completed and drew pilgrims from across the world. And though the abbey is itself an architectural marvel, it is the combination of sea and stone that sets it apart. Perhaps, nowhere else in Europe is the aesthetic brilliance of architecture complimented so alluringly by the natural world.

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2. Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Argentina may have won the World Cup, but Lionel Messi’s not the country’s only wonder. Perito Moreno is considered by many to be the most beautiful glacier on Earth. Located in Los Glaciares National Park, in the far southern reaches of Patagonia, this vast wall of jagged turquoise ice covers more than 100 square miles and reaches almost 200 feet high.

It is a powerful place. Hike to a viewpoint or take a boat to the edge of the glacial wall, and you can hear the thunder of cracking ice as enormous icebergs are calved into the deep blue waters of Lake Argentino. Sparkling in the sun like crystals, they drift across the bay in dazzling forms and glowing colour, dwarfed by the vast tongue of ice from which they’re borne.

Messi might score the goals, but if you only see one glacier in your entire life, make it this one.

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3. AlUla, Saudi Arabia

AlUla is a place of extraordinary history and cultural heritage. But until recently almost no one had heard of it, let alone visited. That’s changing. At the end of 2022, the site officially opened its doors to visitors and, in doing so, unveiled a more than 200,000-year-old piece of Arabian history.

Located in the heart of Saudi Arabia’s northwestern desert, much of it is still undiscovered too. It is estimated that less than 5 per cent of the site has been excavated. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Hegra is famous for its elaborate monumental tombs carved into stark red sandstone cliffs; AlUla Old Town is a labyrinth of now abandoned mud brick houses strewn with the earthy hues of the desert. There’s ancient rock art and restaurants from to-name chefs – including Maraya, set up by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, and located on top of the largest mirrored building in the world.

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4. Tiger's Nest Monastery, Bhutan

The end of 2022 saw the completion of the long-awaited Trans Bhutan Trail, a 250-mile long-distance trekking route that crosses the country from Haa in the west to Trashigang in the east. Passing through 27 local villages, dozens of temples, and 12 mountain passes it is, perhaps, the ultimate way to see one of the last great Himalayan kingdoms.

In many ways, the country itself is a true wonder, surrounded as it by the world’s highest peaks, and a deeply authentic Himalayan culture. But Tiger’s Nest Monastery or Paro Taktsang is special. Perched literally on the edge of a cliff 3,000 feet above the Paro Valley, this complex of four Buddhist temples and residential buildings, with whitewashed walls, bright red roofs and golden-domed ceilings, is almost too precarious to be real.

But perhaps that’s the point. The monastery was built on the site of a cave where it is believed that Guru Rinpoche, one of the founders of Buddhism in the region, meditated in the 8th century. It’s not easy to get there, requiring a steep two-hour hike, but if you make it, some of the enlightenment he sought might just rub off on you too.

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5. Cappadocia, Turkey

2023 marks 100 years since the end of the Ottoman Empire, and the beginning of modern Turkey. Sitting at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Turkey is rich with awe-inspiring culture and heritage. But it’s also home to one of the world’s great natural wonders: Cappadocia.

This otherworldly expanse of enormous rock towers, called ‘Fairy Chimneys’, streaked in red and ochre with wind-sculpted crowns, is one of the most surreal landscapes on Earth. But it’s what’s inside them that makes Cappadocia truly special.

Starting around 1200 B.C. people began carving homes inside the rock itself. But these are no ordinary caves. The rock homes of Cappadocia are like works of art, with detailed facades, doors, windows, and staircases hewn from the mountain within. Entire towns have been hollowed out under the ground like inverted skyscrapers.

You can stay in some too. There are gorgeous boutique luxury cave hotels, balloon rides over the valley, and vineyards of sweet local wine. In a country seeped in mystery and myth, Cappadocia may just be the most alluring place of all.

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6. The Lake District, Great Britain

The author Alfred Wainwright called Britain’s ‘Coast to Coast’ path, which he designed and wrote the now famous guidebook for, “one of the world’s great walks.” This year it turns 50, and there’s no better time to explore it for yourself.

Spanning 190 miles across Northern England from St Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood Bay on the North Sea, it has grown to become the most popular long-distance hike in the country. There are many highlights, but undoubtedly the most beautiful part of all is the section which crosses the Lake District.

This treasured national park is filled to the brim with wonders: Lake Windemere, the largest body of water in the park; Stock Ghyll Force, one of the country’s most spectacular waterfalls; Scafell Pike, the 3,209-feet highest peak in England, and more.

The poet Wordsworth, while sitting on the banks of Grassmere Lake, called it “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found.” His poetry, and the legacy of Wainwright, ring through these valleys. Come, walk its greatest trail, and you might just hear some of that poetry echoing among the fells still to this day.

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7. The Sardine Run, South Africa

The Sardine Run is one of the ocean’s most remarkable events. Every year from May through July, tens of millions of sardines migrate along South Africa’s Wild Coast. It is estimated that, in terms of biomass, it rivals even the great wildebeest migration in Africa. Shoals can reach up to nine miles long. The activity in the water is so intense it can be witnessed from an airplane.

But the sardines are only half the story. Following in their wake are scores of Great White Sharks, Orcas, and numerous other predators who herd them into tightly packed bait balls to make them easier to catch. It is a feeding frenzy on an epic scale.

Those intrepid enough to dive or snorkel with them will be surrounded by enormous globes of silver scales darting through the water, trying to escape the hungry mouths that follow them. Luckily, those mouths are too busy gorging themselves to care about us humans sharing the water with them. They call it the ‘Blue Serengeti’ and it is one of the most exhilarating underwater adventures on the planet. Jump in if you dare.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

Globe Aware volunteers should know that Thailand has just reinstated some entry requirements for inbound international travelers. Requirements begin on January 9th, read more to find out.


 

Thailand Reimposes COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

LAURIE BARATTI
JANUARY 08, 2023
TRAVEL PULSE

Thailand today took a step backward in the evolution of its COVID-related border policies, having just released new updates to its travel restrictions on inbound international visitors.

It is reinstating some entry requirements, starting Monday, January 9.

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The latest official guidelines from the Thai Embassy state that all incoming airline passengers ages 18 and older will need to provide proof that they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or, alternatively, were infected and recovered within the previous six months (180 days). In the case of the latter, travelers will need to produce a letter from their doctor to that effect.

Non-nationals visiting from countries whose requirements might prevent their re-entry if they test positive will also need to produce proof of a travel health insurance policy with coverage enough for at least USD $10,000 of COVID-19 treatment during their planned stay, plus an additional seven days spent in Thailand. Preferred provider plans are available here. Incidentally, health insurance is also mandatory for passengers who will be traveling onward from Thailand to another country where an RT-PCR or ATK (rapid antigen) test is required for entry.

Transfer and transit passengers, and those who hold a Thai passport, are exempted from the renewed vaccination and insurance requirements. Airlines will be responsible for ensuring that travelers produce the proper documentation before boarding flights to Thailand. If a passenger cannot provide proof of vaccination, the rules state that they will be subject to testing at the port of arrival.

After suffering the strain on its tourism-reliant economy for two-and-a-half years, the ‘Land of Smiles’ dropped the last of its pandemic-related travel restrictions at the start of October, no longer requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative tests from foreign arrivals.

However, with China abruptly eliminating lockdowns and reopening its borders after nearly three years of strict adherence to a “Zero COVID” policy—which has resulted in a tidal wave of COVID-19 transmission across the massive Asian country—other nations are concerned about the ripple effects this move might have on their own populations, potentially breeding new variants and causing infections to surge yet again.

The U.S. was among a multitude of countries that restarted COVID-19 testing requirements for inbound travelers from China, and the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, almost immediately after China announced that it would lift its restrictions starting January 8.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse
Wednesday, 11 January 2023 11:56

China opens borders to quarantine-free travel

After nearly three years this is great news right before the Chinese New Year! We will update our Globe Aware volunteers as China hopefully lifts more rules and regulations, allowing us to resume our volunteer vacation there.


Excitement as China opens borders to quarantine-free travel

China lifts quarantine rules for inbound travellers, ending nearly three years of self-imposed isolation.

8 Jan 2023
AL JAZEERA

China has lifted pandemic restrictions on foreign travel, ending quarantine requirements for inbound travellers and with it, nearly three years of self-imposed isolation.

The first passengers to arrive under the new rules landed at airports in the southern cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen just after midnight on Sunday, according to the state-owned China Global Television Network (CGTN)

The 387 passengers on board flights from Singapore and Canada’s Toronto were not subject to COVID-19 tests on arrival and did not have to undergo five days of quarantine at centralised government facilities, it reported.

The easing of curbs on foreign travel marks the final unravelling of China’s strict “zero-COVID” policy.

Beijing began dismantling the hardline strategy of mandatory quarantines, gruelling lockdowns and frequent testing following historic protests against the curbs last month. But the abrupt changes have exposed many of its 1.4 billion population to the virus for the first time, triggering a wave of infections that is overwhelming some hospitals, emptying pharmacy shelves of medicines, and causing long lines to form at crematoriums.

The lifting of quarantine rules effectively opens the door for many Chinese to go abroad for the first time since borders slammed shut nearly three years ago, without fear of having to isolate at government facilities on their return.

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China’s borders remain closed to tourists, however, with foreigners only allowed to travel to the country for business or family visits.

Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, said that for many people in China, Sunday marked “the real end of the ‘zero-COVID’ policy”.

“That’s because, before today, it was impossible to leave and enter China without having to undergo quarantine at government facilities and at home. So people feel very excited and quite liberated to go and travel outside the country,” she said. “Popular travel sites say searches for outbound flights have jumped by about 80 percent compared with this time last year, and the favourite destination was Thailand. Others include Japan, South Korea, the US and Australia,” she added.

But the expected surge in visitors has led more than a dozen countries to impose mandatory COVID-19 tests on travellers from China, citing concerns over Beijing’s “under-representation” of infections and deaths from the illness, as well as the potential for the emergence of new and more virulent subvariants of the coronavirus.

Despite the testing requirements, 28-year-old Zhang Kai told the AFP news agency he is planning a trip to either South Korea or Japan.

“I am happy, now finally [I can] let go,” Zhang said.

Friends of his have already landed in Japan and undergone tests, he said, dismissing the testing requirement as a “small matter”.

In Tokyo, caricaturist Masashi Higashitani said he was thrilled about China’s reopening and was dusting off his Chinese language skills to prepare for more holidaymakers. But he admitted some apprehension.

“I wonder if an influx of too many of them might overwhelm our capacity. I’m also worried that we need to be more careful about anti-virus measures,” he told AFP.

Experts say while concerns about travellers from China were understandable, given the scale of the outbreak in the country, the likelihood of Chinese passengers causing a spike in infections in the countries they visit was minimal.

“People have reason to be concerned about high volume of travellers from China,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, a United States-based think tank.

“But I don’t think it’s reasonable to view these passengers as diseased or dangerous,” he told Al Jazeera. “So far, there is no evidence of emerging new subvariants from China. And given that most of these destination countries have learned to exist with the virus, the influx of the Chinese visitors is not going to lead to a spike in cases in those countries.”

China’s ‘great migration’

The lifting of curbs on overseas travel comes as China also marks Chunyun, the 40-day period of Lunar New Year travel, with millions of people expected to travel from cities hard-hit by COVID to the countryside to visit their relatives, including vulnerable older family members.

This Lunar New Year public holiday, which officially runs from January 21, will be the first since 2020 without domestic travel restrictions.

The Ministry of Transport said on Friday that it expects more than 2 billion passenger trips over the next 40 days, an increase of 99.5 percent year-on-year and reaching 70.3 percent of trip numbers in 2019.

There was mixed reaction online to that news, with some comments hailing the freedom to return to hometowns and celebrate the Lunar New Year with family for the first time in years.

Many others, however, said they would not travel this year, with the worry of infecting elderly relatives a common theme.

“I dare not go back to my hometown, for fear of bringing the poison back,” one person wrote on microblogging site Weibo.

There are widespread concerns that the great migration of workers from cities to their hometowns will cause a surge in infections in smaller towns and rural areas that are less well-equipped with intensive care unit (ICU) beds and ventilators to deal with them.

Authorities say they are boosting grassroots medical services, opening more rural fever clinics and instituting a “green channel” for high-risk patients, especially elderly people with underlying health conditions, to be transferred from villages directly to higher-level hospitals.

“China’s rural areas are wide, the population is large, and the per capita medical resources are relatively insufficient,” National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said on Saturday.

“It’s necessary to provide convenient services, accelerate vaccination for the elderly in rural areas and the construction of grassroots lines of defence.”

Some analysts are now saying the current wave of infections may have already peaked.

Ernan Cui, an analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics in Beijing, cited several online surveys as indicating that rural areas were already more widely exposed to COVID infections than initially thought, with an infection peak having already been reached in most regions, noting there was “not much difference between urban and rural areas”.

Sunday also saw a relaxation of cross-border travel restrictions between the Chinese mainland and the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong.

Up to 50,000 Hong Kong residents will be able to cross the border daily at three land checkpoints after registering online, and another 10,000 will be allowed to enter by sea, air or bridge without needing to register in advance.

More than 410,000 in total had registered to make the journey by Saturday, public broadcaster RTHK reported.

Jillian Xin, who has three children and lives in Hong Kong, said she was “incredibly excited” about the border opening, especially as it means seeing family in Beijing more easily.

“For us, the border opening means my kids can finally meet their grandparents for the first time since the pandemic began,” she told the Reuters news agency. “Two of our children have never been able to see their grandpa, so we cannot wait for them to meet.”

Teresa Chow, another Hong Kong resident, said she was planning to go visit her hometown in the eastern city of Ningbo.

“I’m so happy, so happy, so excited. I haven’t seen my parents for many years,” she said as she and dozens of other travellers prepared to cross into mainland China from Hong Kong’s Lok Ma Chau checkpoint early on Sunday.

“My parents are not in good health, and I couldn’t go back to see them even when they had colon cancer, so I’m really happy to go back and see them now,” she added.

Additional Info

  • Source AL JAZEERA

Countries around the world celebrated New Year, after two years of muted or canceled events due to the Covid pandemic. Here's a summer of celebrations and world news for our Globe Aware volunteers, as we begin a brand new year!


 

New Year: Countries around the world celebrate after Covid lull

By Elsa Maishman
BBC News
Jan 1, 2023

Countries around the world have celebrated New Year, after two years of muted or cancelled events due to the Covid pandemic.

Celebrations have taken place on the east coast of the United States, and in Brazil, Argentina and the Caribbean.

Cities across Europe, Africa and Asia have also held firework-filled festivities marking the start of 2023.

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In China, huge crowds gathered to take advantage of recently-lifted restrictions.

Until recently, the country had been following a zero-Covid approach, continuing to enforce strict lockdowns even as other nations around the world appeared to return to normal.

However, the disease is surging across the country, and many places are placing travel restrictions on travellers from China - Australia has become the latest to do so.

The president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, used her New Year address to offer help to China to combat the recent surge in Covid cases.

In London, there was a drone display as part of a tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth, while in Edinburgh, thousands enjoyed the first full Hogmanay celebrations in three years.

There was also a tribute to Ukraine - with the London Eye lit up in blue and yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

In Ukraine, the conflict with Russia continued as air raid alerts sounded shortly after midnight and there were further strikes on Kyiv, officials said. There were no reports of injuries.

It came shortly after new year addresses from both President Vladimir Putin and President Volodymyr Zelenksy.

Mr Putin delivered a New Year address flanked by soldiers clad in full uniform, saying the country's future was at stake.

Directly addressing soldiers in Ukraine, the 70-year-old leader praised their efforts since the invasion was launched in February, and told them that "historical rightness" was on their side.

Meanwhile, Mr Zelensky addressed Russians in their own language, telling them their president was "hiding behind you, and he's burning your country and your future".

And he pledged to Ukrainians that his troops would fight until "victory".

"We fight as one team - the whole country, all our regions. I admire you all. I want to thank every invincible region of Ukraine," he said.

Meanwhile, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, pledged to significantly increase the production of nuclear weapons. He also tested his first ballistic missile of the year early on New Year's Day.

Croatia started 2023 with a new currency, joining the eurozone.

It also joined the Schengen zone, in which people can travel without border controls.

Additional Info

  • Source BBC Travel
Thursday, 05 January 2023 12:27

Top Seven Foodie Destinations for 2023

We know so many of our Globe Aware volunteers are true foodies! You'll love this list, and you can try many of these on our volunteer vacations!


Top 7 Foodie Destinations To Visit In 2023

Keeping up with the yearly tradition, TasteAtlas has unveiled its World’s Best Cuisine ranking. 95 major tourist destinations were assessed for food excellency, taking into account ingredients, regional varieties and quality of national beverages, but there are 7 mouth-watering picks in particular you might want to bookmark for 2023. That is, if you’re a true foodie:

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7. Turkiye

Turkiye (formerly Turkey) is a country straddling the Eurasian border with a History spanning millennia. Sharing close ties to Greece and having existed under several different empires, from the earliest Hellenic kingdoms, to the Ancient Romans, to the Ottomans, the country has incorporated a cross-national Mediterranean culture and diet.

According to TasteAtlas, the best rated Turkish foods are Kaymak, a creamy dairy product resembling clotted cream, except it’s thicker, traditionally made from water buffalo, sheep or goat milk, Sujuk, a spicy, fermented sausage popular not only in Turkiye, but in the Balkan Peninsula as a whole, and Cağ kebabı, a horizontally-roasted lamb kebab.

6. Mexico

America’s undisputed favorite, Mexico is highly sought-after not only as an upscale winter sun getaway – though the popularity of Cancun certainly cannot be understated – but as a cultural destination with a distinct menu drawing on ancient Mesoamerican cuisine, rich in maize, beans and hot peppers, and later on, other Spanish and pan-European influences.

Traveling Mexico as a foodie, you must not forget to try the world-famous Oaxaca cheese, a white semi-hard originating from the namesake state, Cajetas de Celaya, a type of dulce de leche made from sweetened, caramelized goat milk, and of course, all the well-known Mexican classics: corn tortillas (chilaquiles), ranch eggs (huevos rancheros) and tacos.

5. India

With 4.54 star-rating on TasteAtlas, Indian is one of the highest-peaking Asian cuisines on the ranking. Some of the most popular and defining ingredients found around the territory are cumin, Garam masala, a blend of ground spices added to dishes for flavor and color, Ghee butter and tamarind.

It is worth noting there are at least 28 administrative regions in India, and within those, countless more provincial divisions with diverse ethnic compositions, where specific customs and cooking practices are observed. Indian foods are rarely a homogeneous bunch, and that’s what makes the country such an alluring place to explore as a food connoisseur.

4. Japan

Traditionally based on rice and seafood, served either raw as sushi or sashimi, or grilled, Japanese food has expanded far beyond Japan’s own national borders through its expat community (and their descendants), becoming as internationalized as pizza or burritos. Japanese is, in fact, one of the top 15 most ordered takeout foods in America.

This may lead some to believe they don’t need to fly to the other side of the world to experience Japanese dietary culture, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. TasteAtlas lists over 1200 local restaurants with exceptional culinary choices that are worth the long journey from the U.S., from Kyoto’s popular Sushi Rakumi to Sapporo’s award-winning Miyakawa.

3. Spain

Spain is a tried and true European foodie destination, and the third best rated country on TasteAtlas. Spanning most of the Iberian Peninsula, which it shares with neighboring Portugal and parts of France, it is the ancestral home of paella, churros, patatas bravas and a wide assortment of Mediterranean seafood recipes.

If you’re looking for some truly remarkable gastronomic experiences, then you shouldn’t miss Casa Bigote, in the historical pueblo of Sanlucar de Barrameda, Del Oso, a Michelin-reviewed eatery close to Cantabria in Northern Spain, Barcelona’s trendy Bar La Plata, and Anaco in Santiago de Compostela, capital of the autonomous province of Galicia.

2. Greece

Greek food traces its origins back to Ancient Greece and Byzantium, though it’s also incorporated other elements from foreign cultures, notably Turkish, Italian and South Slavic. Whether you’re in Athens, nestled cozily in the Balkan mainland, or one of the many paradisaical Aegean islands, locally-sourced products remain staple ingredients in many dishes:

Wheat, olive oil, vegetables, grains, fish and meat, the most widely-used being pork, poultry, beef and lamb. As the runner-up on the latest TasteAtlas ranking, and having reopened for tourism with no health-related entry requirements whatsoever, Greece is sure to benefit from the latest surge in travel demand – and a revived interest in the Hellenic World.

1. Italy

Boasting a 4.72-star rating, more than any other destination surveyed, Italy is the number one vacation spot for foodies in 2023. From arancini to zabaglione, all of your culinary favorites from A to Z can be found here, as well as a whole range of world-class restaurants, with Trattoria Trippa in Milan, and Amerigo dal 1934 in Savigno to name a couple.

Italy is also eager to introduce Americans to lesser-known destinations, offering to cover their transportation costs traveling from within Italy to Friuli Venezia Giulia, where chefs have specialized in duck ragù with pappardelle. Other incredible off-path regions serving scrumptious food include the mountainous Abruzzo and the Adriatic Apulia.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path
Wednesday, 28 December 2022 12:55

Where to Travel in 2023- astrological advice

See what your ideal destination is based on your astrological sign! Calling all Aries and Scorpios, lucky for you, Globe Aware has volunteer vacations in your two destinations, find out what they are and more!

Where to Travel in 2023, According to Your Sign

From an adventure on the water for Pisces, to a bustling arts hub for Leo, we share the best 2023 travel destinations for every zodiac sign.

BY KIRAH TABOURN
December 23, 2022
Conde Nast Traveler

We love to look to our astrological charts when it comes to travel planning, and the stars align on a few themes in every sign's horoscope for 2023: It's going to be an exciting year for travel, with all signs seeing some form of revived hope, invitations to create new patterns, and heightened interests in exploring new ways of living. What better than a well-planned trip to embody all of the above?

As you look ahead at how—and why—you plan to travel in 2023 based on your zodiac sign, it may be hard to decide which destination is best suited to you and the astrological weather to come. We have good news. Pulling from Condé Nast Traveler's list of The Best Places to Go in 2023, we've selected the ideal destination for each sign's wants, desires, and cravings in the year ahead. From an adventure on the water for Pisces, to a bustling city for Leo, we share the best places to go in 2023 according to your sign—plus, when to travel (and even the best time to make your bookings).

[Astrologer's note: For the most comprehensive result, read the answer for both your sun sign (the sign determined by your birthday), and your rising, or ascendant, sign (determined using your birth time and location; you can quickly find your rising sign online here in less than 30 seconds).]

For Aries an extremely curious traveler who loves trying new things Kenya has plenty to offer.

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Aries: Kenya

You’re always ready for a true adventure, and you’re willing to travel great lengths for a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Culture shock never really seems to shake you much, as you truly enjoy immersing yourself in new places. When exploring, you’re also extremely curious, you want to learn as much as possible, and you love trying new things. It should be no surprise, then, that Kenya is the perfect travel destination for you in 2023. It has it a little bit of everything: dazzling city hotspots, beautiful island stays, incredible and unique restaurants, and of course, safari.

These Unexpected Kenya Destinations Have Wildlife Encounters Without Any of the Crowds

Here's where to go when everyone else is at Giraffe Manor.

Let’s talk timing. The first half of the year is an exciting time for you as Jupiter, the planet of expansion, wisdom, faith, and opportunity, will be in Aries until May 16, which brings travel and the expansion of horizons straight to the forefront of your desires and experiences.

If you’ve been nursing a travel bug all winter and you’re ready to start planning, you may want to wait until the Mars, Mercury, and Uranus retrogrades end (January 12, 18, and 22, respectively) as all three planets’ have a hand in any travel spending or planning you do. When planets are direct, you’re less likely to make choices you'll later want to change. Take a green light to move forward with plans from late January onward.

In terms of great times to travel to Kenya, Aries season (March 20 to April 20) could be a fun time filled with tons of activity and avenues for self-discovery. However, if you want more time to plan, Sagittarius season (November 22 to December 22) is a perfect time to touch down in Nairobi. Mars, your ruling planet, will be journeying through Sagittarius during this time, which creates a period where you’ll be craving adventure and exploring new personal frontiers.

Wales aligns with Taurus's appreciation for places where locals live in harmony with the land.

Taurus: Wales

Look, after the year you’ve had, you deserve a delicious, relaxing holiday. Yes—delicious. Tasting, sipping, and dining your way through a destination to delight your senses is the ultimate treat—and Wales is the place to do it. The destination is undergoing a foodie renaissance, one that celebrates freshly foraged ingredients; expect to see local seafood, meats, and truffles being used in special menus at one-of-a-kind and hard-to-reach restaurants throughout the countryside.

You’re likely someone who cares about the environmental impact of tourism, especially on the local communities and habitats that you visit. It’s also likely that you have an interest in destinations where people are living in harmony with the land and in which you can learn more about different environments and conservation efforts. Wales checks all of these boxes with the added bonus of beautiful forest hotels and saunas. What more could you ask for in a responsibly indulgent getaway?

In terms of timing, from May 16, 2023, until May 25, 2024, Jupiter, the planet of expansion, wisdom, faith, and opportunity, will be in Taurus, giving you a broader outlook on life as well as a nice dose of optimism and a craving for exploration and adventure. The Capricorn full moon on July 3 lights up your ninth house of foreign travel, making the first weekend in July a great time for you to land in Wales.

Big changes are coming for Geminis—and Queensland, Australia, speaks to the new way this sign will choose to travel in 2023.

Gemini: Queensland, Australia

This may sound dramatic, but March 2023 is the beginning of the end of travel as you knew it. A pretty major shift occurs on March 23 when Pluto leaves Capricorn (the sign it’s been in since 2008) to dip its toes in Aquarius until June 11, then returning to Capricorn until 2024. Pluto is associated with complete and total change, extremes, power, destruction, and cellular-level transformation. With its entrance into Aquarius, Pluto brings these themes to your world view, heightening your sense adventure and exploration, and challenging how you experience cultures different from your own, and how you share those experiences with the world. This is huge. While Pluto will only be in Aquarius for a little over two months in 2023, it’s the beginning of a 20-year transformation in your mental and spiritual experience.

With that being said, you may become drawn to more ethical and sustainable travel moving forward, specifically in a way that centers decolonization, environmental sustainability, and conservation, with the goal to learn how to be a better human. Something you may choose to explore is developing a greater understanding of Indigenous communities and their cohabitation with nature. All of the above makes Queensland, Australia, a top 2023 travel destination for you.

At One of Australia's Oldest Museums, A New Emphasis on Indigenous Artists

You’re the type of traveler who enjoys getting lost in a busy city crowd as much as you love getting off the grid and disappearing into nature. You also enjoy feeling like you’re on the edge of the world, so coastal destinations where you can feel the sun on your skin as you stare out into an abyss is a nice touch. The Australian government has been taking steps to return land to its Native people, leading to new Indigenous-led travel experiences throughout Queensland in particular. You may want to plan ahead to explore the sprawling northeastern state during their spring or summer time, in the last few months of 2023; however, Leo season (July 23 to August 23) tends to be warm and dry in Queensland and would be a great time to spend an extended holiday down under.

The wineries beach towns and chic new restaurants on California's central coast hit all the right notes for Cancers.

Cancer: Central California Coast, U.S.

You’re the type of traveler who loves to learn through immersive experiences while traveling; you’d love an activity like a vineyard tour that allows you to learn about the processes and systems involved in wine-making. Speaking of wine, you do love to treat yourself on vacation. More than anything, you’re seeking magical, even spiritual moments when you travel, and that's what you're likely to find on California's central coast.

Sharing your zodiac sign, the U.S. is a nation with a Cancer Sun, Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter, so it’s not difficult to find Cancerian-like comfort in certain classic American experiences—like a road trip or a rail journey. Americans and visitors alike can make an incredible vacation out of road or rail trips up or down the coast of California, where not only the landscapes are breathtaking, but the people, food, and culture are too. In the case of the central coast, the landscape includes redwoods, beach towns, tasting rooms, and chic new restaurants in an overlooked swath of California wine country. A trip like this is an excellent way to reconnect with your body, the land, and loved ones.

How to Spend a Weekend in California’s Santa Ynez Valley

After all, 2023 will bring you some ease in your relationships and genuinely fun times with friends. A few periods throughout the year promise to make this trip even more enjoyable: On March 7, Saturn enters Pisces, making way for less restriction and heaviness in your relationships and marking a shift in your worldview that signals the start of new ways of engaging with the world around you. Two months later, on May 16, Jupiter will enter Taurus, a part of your chart that corresponds to friends and community. This could lead to opportunities to connect with new people, especially through travel. From this point on, throughout the year, consider it always a good time to take this trip with ones you love.

Marrakech offers the adventure Leos crave alongside beauty in the form of gorgeous riads sweeping desert landscapes and...

Leo: Marrakech, Morocco

When you travel, you like to adventure and look good doing it—from enjoying every meal at a dreamy restaurant to taking long walks through city centers while absorbing all of its sights, smells, and sounds. Marrakech has everything you look for. It's a bustling city you could explore for days or even weeks, with serene hotel stays, and an exciting art scene. Plus, imagine the gorgeous photos you'll be able to snap in the rocky otherworldly desert. Marrakech is perfect for you as someone who can definitely take the heat and make the most of a city dense with culture.

The last few years have been trying to say the least, but a certain type of relief arrives in the spring of 2023, giving you space to take a breath and pour back into yourself—consider this the time to take your rejuvenating vacation. Jupiter, planet of expansion, faith, wisdom and opportunity, is traveling through your ninth house of travel, spirituality, and foreign lands until May 15. Additionally, eclipses in Aries and Libra in April and October start to shake up your desire to explore the world and learn more about it. In sum: Aries Season (March 20 to April 20) is a great time for traveling abroad, but the entire time Jupiter is in Aries (until May 15) is a nice window for your trip to Marrakech.

The Loire Valley is home to stunning châteaux and dreamy landscapes—ideal for Virgos that appreciate refined dining, culture, and nature.

Virgo: Loire Valley, France

You have been in a non-stop grind since the beginning of 2020, and you’re long overdue for a proper treat-yourself type of vacation. The great news is that 2023 offers plenty of opportunities to let loose and expand your horizons. Our suggestion? Head to the Loire Valley in France. After all, you aim for sensual and immersive travel experiences; you look to sink your teeth into a new location by seeking out the most delicious local food, cultural attractions, and nature it has to offer. And let’s be honest, you like an air of luxury to your accommodations as well—what’s the point of a vacation if you’re not going to treat yourself? The Loire Valley is the perfect place to spend a week or two, as you tour stunning châteaux and breathtaking landscapes living a real-life dream. The region will hit all of your notes and then some, giving you a one-of-a-kind experience of luxury, romance, and true rest and leisure that you need after three years of hard work. You deserve it.

In 2023, Libras will be on a transformative path to self-discovery, and destinations like Sharjah—home to dazzling new art galleries and historic architecture—are the perfect setting.

Libra: Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

You care a lot about learning new things while traveling, soaking up facts about the local customs and geography, and finding opportunities to practice the language whenever you can. You’re a true traveler who loves to meet others during your explorations. This is why Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates is the perfect 2023 destination for you. Sharjah is quickly becoming the new cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates, and it's home to dazzling new art galleries and incredible architecture–but it also has luxury beachfront resorts you can relax at.

You'll be craving all of the above next year, as 2023 marks the beginning of a new transformative cycle for you that leads to self-discovery through new supportive partnerships. While the work grind gears up when Saturn enters Pisces starting on March 7, entertainment, fun, and pleasure become more accessible to you then as well. Use any newfound confidence and creativity emerging during this time to expand out of your comfort zone and find new ways of enjoying life.

Gemini season (May 21 to June 22) tends to be a particularly fun time for you to travel, and a particularly nice window is when Mercury travels through Gemini from June 11 to 26, signaling a period where you can really immerse yourself in a new place and learn a lot. If Sharjah's June temperatures put you off (typically ranging from 80 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit), then consider Sagittarius season (November 23 to December 20) the next best time for you to travel. Talk about a great holiday trip.

The Yucatán Peninsula, with archaeological sites and strong food traditions, appeals to Scorpio's desire to immerse itself in a destination's heritage.

Scorpio: Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

When you travel, you like to immerse yourself in the traditions and heritage of the places you visit. In particular, you may find a lot of enjoyment in visiting cultural monuments and taking in the architecture, which makes the Yucatán such a great place for you. There are stunning sites to visit in between delicious meals at local restaurants. You may choose to book a few nights in a boutique property where you can experience a luxurious stay and truly unwind in the ways your body and spirit really need and deserve.

A Mayan Temple-Filled Road Trip Through Mexico’s Campeche State

Scorpio is a sign often associated with transformation, after all, but that word feels like an understatement when referring to what you’ve been moving through over the last three years. But it’s time for congratulations—change and relief greets you in the spring of 2023. On March 7, Saturn leaves fixed air sign Aquarius for the more adaptable water sign Pisces, releasing the feeling of being anchored and held in place that you’ve been experiencing since early 2020. Your focus will then shift from building a stable foundation for your life toward the need to prioritize your pleasure, enjoyment, and creativity. A particularly good time for long-distance travel for you is right after this, when your ruling planet, Mars, journeys through the sign Cancer from March 25 to May 20. Venus, the planet of love, beauty and relationships, also joins Mars in Cancer from May 7 to June 5, making the entire spring a lovely time to head to the Yucatán and explore.

Sagittarius is ready to explore this year, and places with the grandeur of antiquity have a special type of appeal.

Sagittarius: Egypt

As a true student of life and the designated traveler of the zodiac, you are no stranger to adventure. Over the last few years, however, you may have experienced restrictions and limitations in your ability to jet set around the world, with the pandemic being only one reason you’ve been more tethered to your local environment. In 2023, you encounter shifts to that reality, as Saturn leaves Aquarius for Pisces on March 7. This could lead to a deeper interest in your heritage and ancestry, sparking travel plans to visit homelands or relatives.

You likely appreciate visiting old kingdoms, palaces, and places that show the grandeur of antiquity this year. You may also have a soft spot for places where the sun is an important aspect of the culture, which is why Egypt (the ancient epicenter of Western astrology) is a perfect destination for you in 2023. There hasn’t been a better time to visit now that the Grand Egyptian Museum in Giza is set to open. Maybe you'll also want to spend time cruising up the Nile River, or check out a brand new eco-resort on the Red Sea. You’ll thank yourself for prioritizing fun when you finally touch down for vacation amidst a busy year.

When it comes to timing, note that your ruling planet Jupiter spends the first five months of the year in Aries, marking a period where fun, creative, and pleasurable experiences are a top priority. This is an excellent time for travel, especially for any type of exploration that gets your blood flowing and adrenaline pumping. Summer is a special period for travel as well, notably during Leo season (July 23 to August 23), when the sun lights up your ninth house of foreign travel.

Mustang allows Capricorns a much-appreciated the chance to rest and refresh amid beautiful landscapes.

Capricorn: Mustang, Nepal

When it comes to travel, you prefer to escape for peace of mind, with a particular interest in spiritual retreats and beautiful destinations where you can either go to work or to just get back in touch with nature. This is why Mustang, Nepal, could be an ideal travel destination for you in 2023. While you don’t necessarily need flashy accommodations, you do pay attention to detail and are appreciative of ease and well-designed, functional builds. The new Mountain Lodges of Nepal, opening throughout 2023, could be exactly the type of accommodations you’re looking for, where you can unplug and tune in to the splendid nature of this magical landscape. It’s time to get out of the house and stretch your legs in 2023, after all—you’ve spent the last five years dealing with some form of restriction or limitation, and the last three years may have been particularly tight financially.

But a major shift occurs when your ruling planet, Saturn, leaves Aquarius for flexible and dreamy water sign Pisces on March 7. Finally, you'll feel some relief from the constrictive state you’ve been in for so long. This change shifts your focus from supporting yourself in survival mode to a burgeoning responsibility to explore more of the world around you. Virgo season (August 23 to September 22) is a great time to travel to Mustang as you’re usually feeling intense wanderlust that time of year. Just be careful not to plan travel on the days that Mercury goes retrograde and direct (August 24 and September 16 respectively)—other than that you should have a great trip.

Recently reopened Taiwan, with two years worth of hotel and restaurant openings and a new performing arts center, taps into Aquarius's love of the arts and culture.

Aquarius: Taiwan

When it comes to travel, you enjoy immersing yourself in art and culture. You have a special ability to hold your own and blend in anywhere, even if you stand out with an eclectic look. While you can have a great time exploring new places solo, you do prefer a travel partner, especially for international journeys. Consider inviting your favorite person to a vacation in Taiwan. This exciting country is a great destination for scratching that itch for true cultural stimulation, as there are two years’ worth of hotel and restaurant openings to check out alongside the spectacular, recently opened Taipei Performing Arts Center.

That's not the only reason Taiwan will speak to you, though. Looking at your horoscope, you’ve undergone massive transformation over the last three years and deserve a moment to reflect on how far you’ve come since March 2020 when Saturn, your ruling planet, first entered Aquarius. Your journey toward self-discovery since then has likely been treacherous, but hopefully rewarding as you wrap it up and embark on a new one when Saturn enters Pisces on March 7. From that point forward, your focus will shift toward ways you can invest in yourself. Your ruling planet transits Pisces for three years, giving you plenty of time to explore your newfound freedom and financially plan for your future. You may start to feel a tighter grip around your wallet, so it may make more sense to plan one big trip for the end of the year as your priorities shift in the spring. All that is to say, fall is likely the best time for you to visit Taiwan, especially while Venus transits Libra, your ninth house of foreign travel from November 8 to December 4. Get ready to have the art-filled vacation of your dreams.

Western Japan will satiate the travel desires of Pisces with stunning natural spaces and plenty of water.

Pisces: Western Japan

As a born explorer, you’ll take almost any excuse to get out of town and see different parts of the world. You’re the type of traveler who craves intensity and immersion in the destinations you visit, and you’re a bit of a romantic at heart who seeks out transformative experiences. Your appetite for adventure is also much like your taste for beautiful accommodations and stunning natural environments: insatiable.

For someone who wants to be transported to a different world when you travel, western Japan is the perfect destination to satiate your wanderlust. Water tends to be an important element to your life in general, and intentionally seeking out locations with deep ties to water will be soothing to your soul and psyche. Consider an expedition cruise from Osaka while you island hop and explore the breathtaking land and seascapes.

Scorpio season (October 23 to November 21) is an excellent time for you to plan international travel, especially in 2023 as Mars will be transiting Scorpio throughout the season, making a special alignment with the Sun on November 18. You’ll likely want to be in a faraway land at this time anyway, so why not plan ahead?

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

Globe Aware volunteers are ready and eager to explore Asia once again. We are delighted to offer open volunteer vacation programs in the trending destinations of Vietnam and Thailand!


 

Travelers Are Heading Back To Asia In 2023: These Are The Top 7 Trending Destinations

DECEMBER 25, 2022
BY: VINICIUS COSTA
Travel off Path

Travelers are eager to return to Asia and explore its natural wonders and colossal Buddhist temples now that it’s slowly reopening for tourism following nearly three years of closure. In fact, demand for country-hopping experiences in the continent is so high it now accounts for 7 out of the top 10 trending destinations for 2023.

Although Asia is yet to fully reinstate normality like Europe, there’s no denying it is in a much better place now than it was at the beginning of the year. For instance, several Asian countries that had completely banned tourism in response to the health crisis now welcome them with open arms, without all of the usual pandemic-era bureaucracy.

But which ones are generating the most buzz, and what are their entry requirements heading into 2023?

Is This The Definitive Comeback Of Asia?

Popular online travel agency Kayak has named Asia and the South Pacific as the ‘region of the year’ for international travel in 2023, based on a significant increase in searches for vacations in the area, especially now that a growing number of Asian countries and other insular, Pacific destinations have lifted all of their anti-tourism measures.

According to the company’s experts, 2022 was the year of European travel after the Old World abandoned its hardline policies, granting seamless entry and newfound freedom to restriction-wary Americans who’d had enough of the social curbs imposed by their Government or simply wanted to get away from the political and ideological wars fought at home.

The fact that the U.S. has an extensive list of air routes linking it to Europe’s main entry points, no matter where you are in the country, is also a major incentive for Transatlantic tourism. In Kayak‘s opinion, however, 2023 will see travelers ‘branch out’ to lands further away, even to places where nonstop flights from their city are not available.

More specifically, to Asia. Based on their recent data, these are the top Asian destinations for you to consider in the upcoming year:

tel aviv 3621085 1280

7. Tel Aviv, Israel

Technically located in Central Asia, Tel Aviv in Israel is a History-charged metropolis straddling the Mediterranean coast. Over the years, it has developed a reputation for being the ‘most liberal’ enclave in the Middle East, but a little-known fact about Tel Aviv is that it can be an incredible foodie and cultural destination if you know where to look.

Searches for Tel Aviv on Kayak are now up 134% year over year, making it the seventh most sought-after Asian city break heading into 2023. Fortunately for visitors, Israel has changed tactics and removed all of its entry requirements, returning to their pre-2020 travel guidelines: no mandatory vaccination and definitely no testing or quarantine.

6. Tokyo, Japan

The beautiful, organized chaos that is Tokyo is the next Asian hub on Kayak‘s list. Famous for its traditional temples, scenic gardens, art museums, and a modern skyline pierced by neon-lit skyscrapers, the Japanese capital has never looked more inviting now that the country has let go of its draconian measures and fully reopened.

The move has certainly helped rekindle interest in Japan, with searches for Tokyo up 150%, and if you’re a resident of the United States, you’re in luck: numerous flights that had been axed in the wake of Covid have relaunched on top of a much-needed frequency boost, including daily service between LAX and Tokyo-Haneda until March 24.

5. Bangkok, Thailand

Undoubtedly the most popular destination for Americans in Southeast Asia, tourism in Thailand continues to be headed by its bustling capital. Bangkok is an ancient queen dripping with imperial gems, such as the colossal Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan Temple, the majestic Grand Palace, and the colorful Wat Phra Chetuphon Buddhist shrine.

Taking into account that Thailand is as open as it ever was, it should come as no surprise that Kayak searches for Bangkok are up 166%. Other than cultural immersions, the ‘Big Mango’ (as it is affectionately called by locals and tourists alike) offers short-term guests a vibrant nightlife, divine food at incredibly affordable rates, and Thai fleamarkets.

4. Hong Kong

A special administrative region of China, the city-state of Hong Kong is not quite on the same page as Japan or Thailand when it comes to pandemic management: tourists can enter, but they are subject to a strict testing regime and continued monitoring for up to 5 years following arrival, so it may not be the best of times to visit just yet.

Nevertheless, it has seen a 190% uptick in Kayak searches year-on-year. The region’s distinct Western feel, its Bohemian districts’ edginess, and relative openness to the outside world, in spite of recent attempts by mainland China to force it into a state of submission, may be a possible explanation for its popularity rise among explorers.

3. Singapore

Often referred to as the most developed nation in Southeast Asia, Singapore is yet another city-state brimming with the kind of high-tech, futuristic architecture that needs to be seen to be believed. From gorgeous fountain displays and modern marina promenades lined with beautiful Asian specimens to leisure complexes, it is truly a sight to behold.

Searches on Kayak have shot up by 201%, proving it has never been trendier. The only downside to traveling to Singapore? It has not yet lifted its health-related entry rules: all unvaccinated arrivals must present proof of a negative Covid test issued no later than two days before travel, as well as present proof of travel insurance.

2. Taipei, Taiwan

Located in the disputed territory of Taiwan, off the coast of mainland China, Taipei is a fast-paced, energetic capital that feels somewhat Chinese, though not quite – it is a democracy, for starters – and that borrows heavily from Western culture, but still feels ‘foreign’ enough for American visitors who are seeking an escape from the familiarity of home.

Year-on-year, searches have been up 289%, though Taiwan’s tougher border controls may act as a deterrent in the end for thousands of tourists planning a trip to Asia in 2023: only those who obtain a permit under one of the Government’s special programs, and who fulfill all requirements listed under said permit, can board a flight to Taipei.

1. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

The trendiest Asian destination for 2023, and the most sought-after destination overall, Ho Chi Minh is the cultural capital of Vietnam, known formerly by its historical name of Saigon. Here, tourists will a wide assortment of architectural influences: Buddhist, French colonial, Communist-era modernist, and so on.

In terms of Kayak searches, Ho Chi Minh is an absolute leader with a 769% increase in clicks, 480% more than Taipei, the closest competitor. Americans are heading to Vietnam in droves in 2023, and we can understand why: Covid regulations no longer apply, international flights have resumed, and most importantly, it is perfectly safe to visit.

The top ten, including destinations outside Asia, can be seen in full below:

  1. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  2. Taipei City, Taiwan
  3. Auckland, New Zealand
  4. Singapore
  5. Hong Kong
  6. Melbourne, Australia
  7. Bangkok, Thailand
  8. Tokyo, Japan
  9. Sydney, Australia
  10. Tel Aviv, Israel 

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

Would Globe Aware volunteers be interested in some Christmas barbeque in the summer of Australia, a holiday feast of seven fishes in Italy, or an elaborate dinner affair in France!? Read to find out what other dishes are served around the world!


Christmas 2022: 7 Curious Food Traditions Around The World

By Aanchal Mathur
December 19, 2022
SLURRP

Christmas is much beyond a turkey or a roast, a glass of eggnog, and plenty of festive cookies like in the US. If you look at other regions in the world, it is also about barbeque in the summer of Australia, a feast of seven fishes in Italy, and an elaborate affair in France.

Christmas is just around the corner and one can already feel the festive vibe in the air, as people have started decorating Christmas trees with lights, exchanging gifts, baking cakes and celebrating with friends and family. And just like any other festival, food is an intrinsic part of Christmas celebrations too. However, not every part of the world celebrates the festival the same way or has the same delicacies. While in the US, traditional Christmas meals usually consist of a turkey or a roast, a glass of eggnog, and plenty of festive cookies, it isn’t the same across the globe. Several regions have specific, very interesting food traditions, which people religiously follow.

From Germany’s Christmas goose to Australia’s BBQ and Italy’s feast of seven fish, we’ve rounded up some of the best Christmas food traditions that are worth knowing about or trying out at home.

italy christmas

1. Italy

While traditional Christmas feasts in Italy vary between different parts of the country, one that is most popular throughout is the ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’. A tradition from Southern Italy, it consists of seven seafood dishes, symbolic of the number seven - the most repeated number in the Bible. From baccala (salt cod), baked cod, fried calamari, and fried shrimp to linguine with clam or lobster sauce, octopus salad, and shrimp cocktail, the feast can have a variety of seafood delicacies.

2. Australia

Christmas in Australia is very different from the rest of the world, specifically because of the weather which too is unlike most parts of the world. It is summertime in Australia during Christmas, which means there is a lot more grilling and eating outside than sitting around a cosy fire with a roast. So, for most Australians, it is usually about BBQ-ing during the festival. They include ham as a main dish, but seafood is also very popular, especially ‘Shrimp on the Barbie’, which is basically grilled shrimp made on the barbecue.

3. Greece

Christmas is big in Greece, making the feast even more special. Traditional foods like Avgolemono, a chicken and rice soup with an egg yolk and lemon base, is generally served as the first meal of the day followed by pork, stuffed cabbage. ‘Christopsomo’, which means Christ’s bread, and Baklava, a phyllo dough stuffed with a cinnamon-spiced nut filling, are also popular.

4. France

Christmas dinner in France is a very elaborate affair, and it includes two very popular dishes - oysters and foie gras. The main dish is usually meat, like capon or turkey, which are usually roasted and stuffed with chestnuts. The biggest treat of the night, though, is the Bûche de Noël, the French version of a Yule Log. This is a rich cake often decorated with tiny meringue ‘mushrooms’.

5. Germany

Weihnachtsgans, or Christmas goose, is one of the most important Christmas traditions in Germany. It is always roasted, and served with other typical German foods, like Spätzle, Knödel, and red cabbage. For dessert, it is often Lebkuchen, a soft gingerbread cookie.

6. England

A popular British Christmas tradition that you may have already heard of is the mince pie. According to the BBC, this tradition can be dated back to the 13th Century. It is said that when knights returned from the Crusades with new spices like nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, they were made into a big pie with a dried fruit mixture, called ‘mincemeat’. It came to be known as Christmas Pie.

7. Finland

Unlike other regions, Christmas dinner in Finland is eaten on Christmas Eve, and includes many traditional Finnish dishes, like ham, mixed beetroot salad, liver casserole, and smoked salmon, besides the traditional Lanttulaatikko, a rutabaga casserole.

Additional Info

  • Source Slurrp

Christmas is a special time of year full of beliefs, rituals, traditions, and special foods. Globe Aware volunteers may be surprised to learn about these traditions, or may even participate in themselves!


 

10 (More) Unique Christmas Traditions From Around The World

By Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey
November 27, 2022
TRAVEL AWAITS

Christmas is a special time of year full of beliefs, rituals, traditions, and special foods. Some of the traditions feature in pretty much every family, such as, for example, the good old Christmas tree, as first started by the Germans. Then there are traditions that vary from country to country, such as, say, the English celebrating Christmas on Christmas Day, the 25th, whereas in Germany, it is Christmas Eve, the 24th, which is the important night.

There are traditional dishes, which vary from country to country, and there are different decorations, but, on the whole, we all pretty much think that we’d recognize a Christmas tradition when we see one. Well, think again.

While European Christmas is one thing, there are some traditions around the world that are truly unique. How about eating KFC for Christmas, like they do in Japan? Or roller skating to church, as they do in Venezuela, or celebrating with a pooping log, as in Catalunya, and then some?

You’d think in two TravelAwaits articles, the most unusual Christmas traditions would be covered, right? But no, there are still some others to marvel at.

What I like even better than just learning about other cultures’ customs and traditions around this time of year, is that you are free to pick and choose and add whatever you like to your own family’s tradition. That’s how traditions evolve. In my family, for example, we celebrate twice — on Christmas Eve for me, being German, and on Christmas Day, for my English husband — with our daughter getting the best of both worlds. We also cover our tree in ornaments collected as souvenirs from all around the world, each one attached to a memory. And I am very tempted to add a certain Icelandic tradition to ours.

Intrigued? Read on for some more ideas to add to your festive season.

germany christmas

1. Filling Your Boots

Germany

Let’s start with one that I know very well. As a child, I always put one of my winter boots outside the front door on the evening of December 5. Saint Nicholas arrived overnight and filled the boot with candy, nuts, clementines, and if I was lucky, a small present or two, not unlike the English stocking fillers. Funnily enough, Saint Nicholas looks just like Santa Claus, and it is from his legend that Santa Claus evolved in the 19th century. The name Santa Claus surely comes from the Dutch St. Nicholas equivalent, Sinterklaas, who also gives out presents on the morning of December 6.

Pro Tip: When in Germany before St. Nicholas time, you will see plenty of chocolate figures shaped like a boot or like Santa Claus, which are an easy way out of the tradition or maybe aimed at those who don’t want cold boots in the morning.

2. Find The Pickle

Germany

Now this is a tradition that is much written about and is attributed to Germany, but I have never experienced this personally. According to legend, there is a tradition that involves putting a pickle ornament (it used to be a real one, reportedly) somewhere on your Christmas tree, among all the other decorations. The child who finds it first gets an extra present, and according to lore, the adult who spots it first (clearly the adult who put it up is disqualified) gets good luck for the next year. But, who knows a German family who actually does this? I don’t.

Pro Tip: If you feel like decorating your tree with pickles and then some, pop into the Bon Marché next time you find yourself in Paris at Christmas. On the first floor, you can buy ornaments that range from bulbs of garlic to little baguettes and croissants. Maybe a new tradition for food lovers?

3. Mari Lwyd, A Creepy Horse

Wales

Parading a horse’s skull around town, stuck on a pole like a hobby horse, draped in a sheet, and looking rather creepy? That is Wales for you. In this land steeped in tradition and superstition, the Mari Lwyd (pronounced something like Marie Loyd) tradition is thought to go back to Celtic times and involved a group of wassailing men carrying the hobby horse from house to house, demanding entry through song. The homeowners sang back, denying entry, and after a bit of to-and-fro, the singsong — probably a forerunner of caroling — ended and the horse-carrying party was invited in for some food and drink.

Pro Tip: You might rather consider adding this tradition to your repertoire: Noson Gyflaith, or Toffee Night, when slabs of toffee are made and eaten around the open fire, during an evening full of games, storytelling, and, no doubt, a nice drink or two.

4. Jólakötturinn, The Yule Cat

Iceland

Does anybody in your family always get socks for Christmas? There is always one. But they should not complain, because if they were celebrating in Iceland, they would be the only ones not being eaten by Jólakötturinn, a large cat that goes around and eats everybody that did not receive new clothes for Christmas. Not unlike Elf on the Shelf, the cat, reportedly dating back to the Dark Ages, was an enforcer of good behavior, because only children who finished all their chores before Christmas were given the gift of new clothes; those who didn’t have to face the cat.

Pro Tip: This is still better than eating smelly, lactic acid-cured whale blubber, as many still do in Iceland for Christmas.

5. Jolabokaflod, The Christmas Book Flood

Iceland

Now, this is one tradition that should be adopted by everyone around the world. Jolabokaflod, the book flood, is the loveliest of the traditions. It involves not only everybody giving each other books, which (hint hint!) is my favorite present, but also reading them. Together. There are two told origins of this tradition, one dating back to the 1930s, when the Reykjavik Library wanted to encourage people to read more; while the other is earlier, dating to the 1800s, when only some 50 percent of Icelanders were found to be literate and were thus encouraged to read. So, today, people give each other books for Christmas and spend an evening curled up with their new books, often reading them to each other.

Pro Tip: A similar tradition is that of St. Jordi in Catalonia, when, on April 23, people give each other either a rose or a book. All across cities such as Barcelona, stalls with roses and books spring up for the day.

6. Christmas Crackers

UK

When I celebrated my first Christmas in England with my English in-laws, I was fascinated by the Christmas crackers. Not salty crackers you could eat with cheese, instead, they are like a giant candy, whose paper is twirled shut at both ends. Everybody gets one cracker before their Christmas meal, then you cross arms, and grab one end of your cracker and the end of your neighbor’s cracker on either side of you, so everybody around the table holds two ends, and pulls. They open with a bang and out falls a paper hat which you put on (a tradition I have never liked much), a small gift, and a silly joke which you read out to all. You can buy crackers ranging from those filled with cheap plastic toys to crackers from Tiffany’s filled with glittering jewels. My mother-in-law makes her own and personalizes the small gift inside.

Pro Tip: The tradition has gone around the world, with the world’s largest cracker pull recorded in Japan, when 1,478 people pulled open a huge cracker. It does not say if inside there were 1,478 paper hats.

7. Radish Carving

Mexico

The Noche de Rábanos, “Night of the Radishes,” is a tradition taking place on December 23 in Oaxaca City, Mexico. It was reportedly started by the city’s wood carvers trying to attract the attention of shoppers at the annual Christmas markets during a year of bumper radish crops. Instead of carving wood, people applied their skill to the local oversized radishes, using the misshaped ones, which make for a spectacular art medium with their red exterior and white inside. Today the tradition has turned into a spectacular competition marking the start of Christmas.

Pro Tip: Visitors queue to view the carvings for hours, so maybe stock up on some Bunuelos, a traditional Christmas pastry, fried and topped with cinnamon, for the wait.

8. Donald Duck For Christmas

Sweden

From All of Us to All of You, a 1958 Disney classic, is the film that brings families together on the sofa in Sweden. It is not unusual for there to be Christmas films that are a must-see over Christmas — just think of Hallmark, dedicating an entire channel to Christmas feel-good movies. Love Actually (2003) has become a tradition in the UK, while Home Alone (1990), Elf (2003), and The Grinch (2018) occupy the top spots in the US.

Pro Tip: In Germany, it’s not New Year’s Eve until you have watched Dinner for One, a 1963 black-and-white sketch in English, where an old lady enjoys a Christmas dinner with her butler standing in for her long-dead friends around the table, becoming increasingly drunk. I have watched it every year so far and still laugh every time.

9. Christmas In July

Australia

When I lived in Australia, one of the hardest things to get used to was that Christmas took place in the middle of summer. Everybody goes to the beach, and celebrations take place in the garden in shorts. Coming from Germany, my Christmas enthusiasm sank to below zero, not feeling in the mood at all.

But luckily, even those Australians who love a summer Christmas appreciate that Christmas is usually associated with snow and colder temperatures, a warm mulled wine rather than a cold beer. So, they celebrate Christmas in July. Reportedly, this tradition started sometime in the 1930s, and now, even the large department stores decorate the windows in July, resorts where snow does fall in July decorate with trees and twinkle lights, and some even go so far as to actually embrace the whole thing with presents and all.

Pro Tip: If you find yourself near Melbourne, pop to Ballarat, where there is not only a year-round Christmas store, but also the Winter Wonderlights festival.

10. Engraved Christmas Apples

China

China, with only roughly one percent of the population being Christian, are not into big celebrations of Christmas but have one interesting tradition. They give each other apples, nicely wrapped and presented in pretty boxes, and often the apples are engraved, with pictures and good wishes on the skin. The reason for this is that in China, Christmas is called Night of Safety, or Peace, and, as is so often the case in the Mandarin language, the characters for that phrase are very close to the characters for apple. So, one thing led to the next and now the giving of apples is so popular that even the price for apples rises sharply before Christmas.

Pro Tip: Christian or not, the Chinese like a good excuse to decorate, so don’t be surprised to find malls decked out in lights, trees lit up, and Santa accompanied by his “sisters” instead of elves.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Awaits
Wednesday, 14 December 2022 10:48

Facing travel challenges this Christmas

Gas prices may be falling, but Globe Aware volunteers need to be wary of travel on these days for the holidays. Find out which days you should try to avoid driving on!


Pack your patience: The worst days for Christmas travel in 2022

NEWS 4 JAX

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nearly 6.3 million Floridians are expected to hit the road this holiday season. Drivers could see travel times increase by 25 percent around major cities.

The most congested day before Christmas will be next Friday, Dec. 23. The single busiest travel day of the season — which includes New Year’s Eve — will be Tuesday, Dec. 27.

The good news? Gas prices continue to fall.

The state average has declined 41 cents per gallon since last month and should get even cheaper as we approach the holidays. Right now the state average is $3.16. That’s compared to the national average of $3.27.

In Georgia, prices are well below $3 — at $2.88.

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To make sure you can get to your destination on time, AAA recommends you leave early so you’re not in a rush.

Also, keep an eye on the weather and adjust your departure time so you won’t have to worry about driving in a storm.

Never drive distracted. Put in the address on your GPS before leaving and put the cell phone down while driving.

Make sure you wear your seatbelt and never drive impaired.

AAA expects to rescue almost 899,000 stranded drivers over the next few weeks. The most common reasons are dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts.

Before you hit the road, make sure your tires, brakes, lights, and batteries are in good shape. Build an emergency kit for your car in case you get stranded. This includes jumper cables, a first aid kit, portable phone chargers, bottled water and snacks.

AAA Advice for Air Travelers

Strong demand will create long lines at airports, yet winter weather is the wild card. Snow and other winter conditions can not only cause delays and cancellations, but combine with strong demand during this season, and you can have a hard time getting re-booked in a hurry.

“If you plan on flying this time of year, travel insurance can be extremely valuable for air travelers,” Haas said. “There are policies that can provide compensation for flight delays for as little as three hours. And if your flight is canceled, passengers can receive compensation for covered out-of-pocket expenses.”

Other Air Travel Tips

  • Check-in early online.
  • Monitor your flight status using your air carrier’s mobile app.
  • Arrive 2-3 hours before scheduled departure.
  • Pack medications and an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag, just in case your flight is delayed or canceled.

If you Have Not Booked your Flight:

  • Book a flight that leaves early in the day. Flights in the afternoon and evening are more susceptible to delays and cancellations.
  • Book a direct flight. Otherwise, build in extra time between connections, in case your first flight is delayed.
  • Consider traveling on Christmas Day. This could offer the best combination of availability and price.

Additional Info

  • Source News 4 Jax

These are the most popular international destinations where Americans are traveling this holiday season. Mexico pops up a few times, and we just had over 30 Globe Aware volunteers in Mexico this month!


 

Top 10 International Destinations Americans Are Heading To This Christmas

These are the most popular international destinations where Americans are traveling this holiday season.

According to data gathered by travel insurance company Allianz, holiday travel is up 17% compared to 2021.

Aerial view of cancun hotel zone with a boat in the ocean, destinations

Although U.S. destinations like New York City and Orlando top the charts for domestic travel, these are the 10 most popular international destinations for American travelers this Christmas.

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1. Cancun, Mexico

Cancun regularly tops the list of most popular destinations for American travelers, especially those from the East Coast.

This Mexican destination is set to reach 95% occupancy rates this winter as Americans flock to its beautiful beaches to escape the cold.

2. San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

Another beach destination in Mexico that’s exploding in popularity this winter is Cabo.

On the Pacific Coast of the country, many Americans are discovering that they like Cabo more than Cancun. Cabo is known for its stunning beaches and for being the “wellness capital” of Mexico.

3. London, England

Many Americans are heading across the pond this Christmas, with London topping the charts for most popular European destinations.

London at Christmas is a magical experience. The city’s streets are transformed with Christmas lights and decorations, and there’s so much to do, from seeing the iconic Big Ben clock to visiting Buckingham Palace to admiring the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

4. Montego Bay, Jamaica

Sunny Jamaica is another one of the top international destinations for Americans this Christmas.

If you want to escape the cold winter weather back home, there’s nowhere better to go than Montego Bay, where you can sip a cold drink on the beach and listen to the sounds of reggae music.

5. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Another Pacific Coast destination in Mexico that’s popular with Americans is Puerto Vallarta.

This city is known for its great beaches, water sports, and nightlife. If you’re looking for a fun Christmas getaway abroad, you’re guaranteed to find it in Puerto Vallarta.

6. Nassau, Bahamas

The Bahamas are a chain of islands that are in close proximity for many U.S. travelers, just 50 miles away from Florida.

Visitors are attracted to Nassau because of its great beaches, resorts, and beautiful coral reefs, popular with scuba divers and snorkelers. Short and frequent flights from the U.S. make this island destination an easy getaway for American travelers.

7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is known for being one of the cheapest Caribbean islands to visit this winter.

Punta Cana is a popular destination because of its beautiful beaches and affordable all-inclusive resorts. For a Christmas getaway that won’t break the bank, this is a great place to go.

8. Oranjestad, Aruba

Although it’s a little more far-flung, located in the Southern Caribbean not far from the coast of Venezuela, Aruba has long been a tourism hotspot.

With plenty of resorts, beautiful beaches, and nightlife, Aruba’s status as “One Happy Island” makes it a great place to spend a tropical Christmas.

9. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

For a truly unforgettable Caribbean vacation, many Americans head to Turks and Caicos. These islands are a paradise on Earth, with white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters.

Turks and Caicos is known for being a great scuba diving destination. It’s also home to many luxury resorts if you want to splurge on a relaxing Christmas vacation.

10. Paris, France

Finally, Paris is another European destination Americans are heading to this Christmas.

The City of Love is more beautiful than ever around Christmas, with decorations, lights, Christmas markets, and holiday shopping.

Although the majority of the most popular international destinations for travelers involve warm weather, sunshine, and tropical beaches, Paris is a great choice for travelers who want to experience Christmas in Europe.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path
Tuesday, 06 December 2022 10:58

15 of the best Christmas vacation destinations

Many places have plans to return to a livelier season after two years of subdued or canceled festivities because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Globe Aware volunteers who have been to the Philippines this Christmas will agree with it being on the list!


 

Christmas vacations: 15 of the best places to go for holiday spirit

December 5, 2022
CNN

(CNN) — Anyplace can throw up a few lights and call it a holiday celebration, but travelers who really love Christmas want more.

Many places have plans to return to a livelier season after two years of subdued or canceled festivities because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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From Finland to Mexico, these 15 destinations around the world traditionally offer up some of the best holiday atmosphere for a Christmas-themed vacation:

Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

While popular lore would have us believe the North Pole as the official home of Santa Claus and his jolly missus, the Finns would have us believe otherwise.

For them, Rovaniemi is Christmas HQ, located just north of the Arctic Circle in Lapland. Children here make gingerbread cookies with Mrs. Claus, enroll in Elf School or take a calligraphy class and compose their Christmas wish lists with a traditional quill.

You may also want to visit the Ranua Wildlife Park, home to baby polar bears, wolverines and moose.

The Arktikum is a science center where the mystery of the northern lights is revealed.

Those in search of a truly frosty experience can stay in the Arctic Snow Hotel, made entirely of snow and ice, but equipped with saunas and hot tubs in which to thaw.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Close to Philadelphia and New York City, Bethlehem offers a smaller-city Christmas escape.

Settled in the 1700s by Moravian colonists, Bethlehem is justifiably proud of its Live Advent Calendar, which can be enjoyed starting at 5:30 p.m. from December 1 to 23.

It is a free, family-friendly event in which a town crier rings a bell up and down Main Street to call visitors to the Goundie House (the oldest house on Main Street). A child from the crowd is invited to come knock three times, and then a local business comes out with a surprise for everyone.

"The Christmas City" also has added new decorations, including a giant LED star, life-sized toy soldiers and thousands of lights strung up all over the place.

Bath, England

This historic city in southwest England celebrates both the birth of Jesus and the birth of Jane Austen with plenty of fanfare.

The Jane Austen Centre -- and on-site Regency Tearoom -- is the best place to learn about the city's most famous resident.

The Theatre Royal, which Austen mentions in "Northanger Abbey" and "Persuasion," has a varied program of holiday drama, musicals, opera and concerts.

The Bath Christmas Market has a multitude of wooden chalets selling distinctively British handmade crafts in a quaint Georgian setting. Straddled between the imposing Bath Abbey and the venerable Roman Baths, the market offers a festive way to discover the character of this historic city.

Bath on Ice is a great excuse to bundle up and lace up skates.

San Fernando, Philippines

If Asia were to have a Christmas capital, San Fernando in the heavily Roman Catholic Philippines would be a top nomination.

The city, northwest of Manila, is renowned for its Giant Lantern Festival, which starts on December 17 and ends January 1. San Fernando's lantern-making tradition dates back to the late 18th century.

The highlight of a visit here is the parol, a colorful, electric Christmas lantern that symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem. The parols recall psychedelic kaleidoscopes, brilliant stained glass windows, prismatic pinwheels or oversized snowflakes.

Barcelona, Spain

Anyone who can manage to extend their holiday until the 12th day of Christmas -- aka Three Kings Day or Epiphany -- can catch up with Melchior, Gaspar and Balthazar in Barcelona.

On the evening of January 5, the kings (also known as the "three wise men") arrive in bearded and velvet-robed splendor at the city's port on the Santa Eulalia, their very own ship.

Cannons are fired, fireworks are set off, and as the mayor hands them the keys to the city, the magic of the Magi officially commences.

They parade through the streets in a magnificent cavalcade of floats that includes camels, elephants, giraffes and dazzling costumes.

New York City

Rockefeller Center lies at the core of the New York Christmas. Its famed ice rink has been around since 1936; the decorated tree has been a holiday tradition since 1931.

Nearby Radio City hosts the annual Christmas Spectacular, starring the Rockettes.

On the southwest corner of Central Park, Columbus Circle hosts more than 100 vendors selling clothes, gifts, snacks and drinks at the Holiday Market.

Fashion's biggest labels join in the festivities, making appearances in elaborate Christmas displays at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's Herald Square flagship store and other department stores.

Nairobi, Kenya

The magic of Christmas is in the holiday chaos of the Kenyan capital.

Visitors will find boisterous carol music blaring in different languages at various stores, on public transportation and in the long lines at restaurants and supermarkets.

A visit to a friend's house or popular eatery might mean a plate heaped with chapati (flat bread), a spicy rice known as pilau and grilled meat -- or nyama choma in Swahili -- just to name a few.

Revelers can burn off the calories with a hike at the scenic Karura Forest Reserve, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts made popular by Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai.

Iconic Nairobi National Park offers safari options for visitors to see rhinos, lions, giraffes, and other animals within a backdrop of the sprawling city.

For Christmas gifts, the bustling open-air markets such as Maasai offer authentic African paintings, jewelry, clothes and fabrics unique to Kenya.

Nuremberg, Germany

The Nuremberg Christmas market (Nurnberger Christkindlesmarkt) is a German institution, traditionally pulling in more than 2 million visitors each year. It has a lot of history behind it -- its first known written mention dates to 1628.

In "the little city of wood and cloth," visitors to market booths can find traditional, often handmade Christmas decorations, wooden toys and all sorts of food and drink.

Adults can enjoy Nuremberg spicy gingerbread and mugs of mulled wine.

And for families with the kids along, there's the Toy Museum.

Bogotá, Colombia

Colombia's high-altitude capital brightens up each year with Christmas lights galore.

In Bogotá, there's the tradition of "Ruta Navideña," or the Christmas Route. Celebrants stroll popular spots around the city to take in the dazzling displays. Click here for some of best places to go, including breathtaking Monserrate, a high mountain that dominates the city.

Día de las Velitas (Little Candles' Day) is celebrated on December 7, which is the eve of the Immaculate Conception. It officially marks the start of Christmas in Colombia. People light small candles and paper lanterns, placing them on windowsills and balconies.

Christmas is sweet here. Natilla is a custard dish that resembles a flan or pudding and is eaten alongside other festive favorites such as buñuelos (fried dough balls served hot)

There's a travel bonus to coming to Bogotá at Christmastime: It's the beginning of the dry season.

Malta

While December is off-season, this heavily Roman Catholic island in the Mediterranean Sea has a festive and spiritual vibe at Christmas.

Visiting presepju, or nativity scenes, is an integral part of Christmas here. Every year, residents proudly open their shutters, and sometimes even their garage doors, to display their holy crib confections to the public.

Downtown Valletta is home to a lively holiday spirit, with carolers singing outside the Baroque St. John's Co-Cathedral during Advent. See a dizzying display of Christmas lights on Republic Street.

A visit to the privately owned Malta Toy Museum, featuring dolls, soldiers, train sets, and clockwork tin trinkets dating as far back as the 1790s, is a heartwarming homage to childhood.

Quebec City, Canada

A haven for environmentally friendly, outdoor enthusiasts, Quebec bustles with winter activity, offering holiday programs for all tastes.

Old Quebec is turned into a picturesque Christmas village. Sausage and roast chestnut lovers can browse the wares at the German Christmas market. The more religiously inclined can wander an exposition of nativity scenes from around the world.

The nearby Sentier des Caps de Charlevoix offers family-friendly hiking, snowshoeing and skiing.

Speed devils can zoom around in a snowmobile from Nord Expe.

Can't make it for Christmas? There's still the Quebec Winter Carnival from February 3 to 12, 2023.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Piñatas, posadas and ponche sum up the festivities in this colorful town in central interior Mexico, where Christmas is both a solemn and celebratory affair.

Leading up to December 24, visitors are likely to stumble upon Mary and Joseph strolling the streets, as locals make pilgrimages from home to home, singing to beg for "posada" (or "shelter") as they reenact the journey to Bethlehem.

Piñatas and ponche (a mulled fruit drink) cap a long evening of peregrinations around this cobblestoned city, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wealth of grand churches, well-preserved architecture and grand zocalos.

Salzburg and Oberndorf, Austria

Birthplace of Mozart and filming location for "The Sound of Music," Salzburg is chocolate-box perfect. Think snow-capped mountains, baroque architecture and traditional Christmas markets.

It's even the home of "Silent Night." The popular hymn was performed for the first time in nearby Oberndorf bei Salzburg on Christmas Eve 1818.

The town also plays host to a more unusual Yuletide tradition.

Across Austria and Bavaria (in nearby Germany), people dress up as a terrifying Alpine beast known as Krampus and rampage through the streets in search of naughty children in need of punishment. The Krampus runs in Salzburg are held on various dates in December.

Strasbourg, France

Get both French and German flavors of Christmas in this border city that feels the influences of both cultures. Dating back to 1570, Strasbourg claims to be the oldest Christmas market in France and one of the oldest in Europe.

Strasbourg's series of themed Christmas villages morph the city into a visual and gastronomic wonderland. Hundreds of stalls are spread out in numerous locations.

Make photographic and visual memories with a 30-meter-tall (98-foot-tall) Christmas tree that is brought to the central square of Place Kléber each year and decorated with ornaments and lights.

Alongside the traditional market, there's the OFF alternative Christmas fair, featuring live music and a street art trail.

Queenstown, New Zealand

The traditional Christmas colors of red, green and white take on an entirely new meaning in New Zealand.

Here, red represents the pōhutukawa (New Zealand's ruby-red flowering Christmas tree). White represents the pristine sandy beaches. And green? The kiwi, of course!

Sun-lovers who want to join Santa in his surf shorts should definitely head to Queenstown, where warm summer temperatures mean folks can jetboat, river surf or paraglide on Lake Wakatipu.

Or visitors can simply set up camp along the lakefront and enjoy a hearty Christmas meal of lamb, seafood and chicken on the barbie.

Forrest Brown, Roseann Lake, Laura Ma, Faith Karimi, Maureen O'Hare and Al Gerard de la Cruz contributed to this article.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Tuesday, 06 December 2022 09:47

Travel tips ahead of the holidays

Holiday travel for 2022 is set to be one of the busiest and the most expensive on record. Travel experts expect Christmas travel will boast pre-pandemic level numbers too, so Globe Aware volunteers should be prepared!


 

Travel tips ahead of the holidays

By Glenn Kittle
Dec. 5, 2022
Gray Television

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) -Holiday travel for 2022 is set to be one of the busiest and the most expensive on record. The average price of a domestic round-trip flight for Christmas is set to cost travelers over $400.

The TSA reports 24.6 million travelers chose the sky over the highway for Thanksgiving this year and travel experts expect Christmas travel will boast pre-pandemic level numbers too.

We asked flyers coming home from the holiday weekend how they handled the holiday travel.

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“Not as busy as I expected it to be. I’ve traveled a few times before for thanksgiving. I’ve definitely had more roadblocks at TSA and stuff like that, delays,” said David Jones.

Aridania Ovalle said, “We traveled on actual Thanksgiving morning, and it was a breeze. The flight back was also easy too.”

“It wasn’t crazy chaotic as usual, but I think we just planned it out correctly,” said David De Leon

Now, airports and airlines are preparing for the second round of the holiday rush in late December

According to the travel booking group Hopper. Christmas travel in 2022 is set to have one of the highest price tags on record with a domestic round-trip costing customers an average of $463.

AAA travel sales manager Anne Lichwe tells Western Mass News one of the best ways to save when booking your flight is to be flexible with your travel dates.

“Avoid the most popular travel days and travel times. The few days before Christmas, the 22nd the 23rd, those are going to be the busiest almost of the whole year. avoid those days right around Christmas even right around New Year as well. because those are the busiest those are going to be the most expensive.”

When it comes to beating out lines at the terminal, Bradley International Airport has some tips for you to stay on time for your flight.

  • Confirm Your Flight Before you come to the airport or confirm your flight with your airline and check-in for your flight online.
  • Arrive Early, with more individuals traveling during a condensed timeframe, the airport will be busy.

Passengers who need assistance from an airline are advised to arrive at the ticket counter at least 90 minutes prior to their flight’s departure.

  • Plan for Parking, Visit the airport’s parking website ahead of your arrival for the latest information on parking availability and follow directional signage at the airport to guide you to open lots.

De Leon and Ovalle tell Western Mass News, holiday travelers should try to get TSA pre-check to save them from waiting in line.

Aridania Ovalle, “Check them bags.”

“Yeah pre-checking, anything you can do to expedite the process so you’re not standing in line,” said David De Leon.

Travel experts also suggest that you stay ahead of flight cancellations this holiday season. While most airlines offer a 24-hour notice of cancellation. Experts say you should keep up to date on the airlines’ websites or on their app to stay up to date with your travel plans.

Copyright 2022. Western Mass News (WGGB/WSHM). All rights reserved.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Gray Television
Wednesday, 30 November 2022 08:12

India discontinues Air Suvidha

Good news for Globe Aware volunteers planning a volunteer vacation to India. The ministry of Civil Aviation of the Indian Government has lifted the mandate to fill up the Air Suvidha form for all international passengers. The decision was declared on Monday, 21 November.


India discontinues Air Suvidha for all international passengers

23 Nov 2022
by Anithya Balachandran
India travel

The ministry of Civil Aviation of the Indian Government has decided to lift off the mandate to fill up Air Suvidha form for all international passengers. The decision was made and declared on Monday, 21 November.

Air Suvidha is an online system for International passengers to submit a mandatory self declaration form to declare their current health status. This form had been made mandatory and all international pasengers entering the country via flights had to fill it before boarding. Last year, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare had mandated contactless self-declaration at Air Suvidha Portal to ensure the smooth passage of international travellers arriving in India.

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“AirSuvidha was introduced when Covid was at its peak, aiming to track people landing in Indian airports. With normal life back, why is it still mandatory for flyers to India to submit #AirSuvidha? Urge @JM_Scindia to review this requirement & lift the dead hand of bureaucracy” tweeted Congress leader Shashi Tharoor recently.

The revised guidelines for international arrivals state, “Planning for Travel: All travellers should preferably be fully vaccinated as per approved primary schedule against Covid-19 in their country.”

During air travel, the ministry said that in-flight announcement about the ongoing pandemic, including precautionary measures to be followed such as preferable use of masks and following physical distances, should be made in flights/travel at all points of entry. In the wake of the pandemic, scheduled domestic flight services were suspended for two months starting from March 25, 2020. Scheduled international flight services, which was also suspended from the same day, was restored only from March 27 this year.

Additional Info

  • Source Business Travel News
Tuesday, 29 November 2022 01:12

Flight attendants' travel secrets

It feels like the summer of travel chaos only just subsided, but the holiday travel season is now upon us. Globe Aware volunteers might be interested to learn these air travel secrets to help with the travel.


Flight attendants share their air travel secrets

Francesca Street
CNN
November 23, 2022

(CNN) — It feels like the summer of travel chaos only just subsided, but the holiday travel season is now upon us.

More than four million Americans are set to take to the skies for US Thanksgiving, kicking off one of the busiest stretches of the year for travel.

Navigating the world of airports and airplanes at this time can be stressful, but if anyone's an expert in holiday travel, it's flight attendants.

Intrigued to find out their tips and tricks, CNN Travel spoke to two veteran cabin crew, British flight attendant Kris Major and American Allie Malis, to get their takes on some of the key travel questions.

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What's the best time for flying?

Some destinations offer multiple flights throughout the day, so is it best to go early or leave it late?

Malis votes for first thing in the morning when she's making personal trips.

"That's my trick," she says. "I don't know if I should actually be telling everyone. Otherwise, they're going to take all my morning flights."

Malis' logic is weather is less likely to disrupt flying first thing, even if there were delays the day before, the system has usually reset overnight.

When it comes to holiday travel, Malis -- who is also the government affairs representative at the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, a union representing American Airlines air crew -- suggests leaving some buffer time if you're able to.

For instance, flying on the day before Christmas Eve, rather than on the 24th, gives you a bit of leeway.

What can I do if my flight is delayed?

Delays happen and Malis reminds passengers that flight attendants and passengers are "on the same team."

Fellow flight attendant, Major, who's worked long haul and short haul over his career, and also serves as chair of the European Transport Workers Federation's Joint Aircrew Committee, representing European flight attendants and pilots, echoes this.

"If we can't go, we can't go," he says. "We will be doing everything we can in our power to go -- because it's in our interest to."

And contrary to what some passengers might think, flight attendants don't hide information from passengers. "There's no point," says Major.

So if you're sitting on a delayed flight, stressing about missed connections, don't hesitate to ask your flight attendant for all the information you can. Major says he'll direct passengers to the right desk to rebook a flight, and let them know "the questions you need to ask."

How do you beat jet lag?

If you're crossing time zones, Major is a big believer in a power nap upon arrival -- with one caveat: keep it short, and then stay up until night falls.

"Don't just go to sleep and just sleep your way through, because you're staying on your own time, you're not helping your own body clock to readjust your circadian rhythm," he says.

That said, sometimes flight attendants are only in a destination for 24 hours. If that's the case, Major says they'll usually stay in their home time zone. And Malis reckons some travelers might find that helpful during the holiday season.

"You might only be traveling for a few days, it's going to be jet lag when you adjust to the new time zone and jet lag when you get back a few days later, so possibly staying on your home timezone might be helpful," she says.

Malis also stresses the importance of "hydration, eating nutritious food, and exercise." And "staying in sync with your body as best you can."

"Really the only way I've made it this far in my career as a flight attendant, is by prioritizing rest," she says.

"Being tired can affect everything, the holidays can be stressful, so give yourself the best chance of proper rest to enjoy the holiday season in the most positive and celebratory ways."

Do you ever upgrade passengers on board?

It's the scenario most fliers dream of, being shifted from your crowded economy seat to something more luxurious.

Malis explains upgrades are supposed to happen on the ground, not on board, but there are exceptions, and sometimes a ground agent will let flight attendants know certain travelers can be upgraded.

"But there's a list," she says. "And there's a method to the madness, the way that the list is ordered and prioritized."

Sometimes flight attendants will also move passengers so that families can sit together, or to resolve a seat duplicate situation.

But once the flight is in the air, passengers will only be moved in exceptional situations -- such as if one passenger is making another uncomfortable.

Can passengers swap seats?

"If a passenger wants to ask another passenger, we can't stop them," says Major, who says that in his experience, travelers are often happy to swap to allow parents to sit with kids.

Flight attendants support this kind of switching about, but will try not to interfere unless there are issues.

"It's in our interest to get people together, because you don't want the grief of people being separated," he says.

Malis says she also strives to make sure parents and kids are together, but suggests these situations should be resolved before boarding if possible.

"It puts a lot of pressure on us to ask favors of passengers to switch around and it's a very time-sensitive part of flight when we're boarding," she says.

People moving seats can also be controversial if they're moving to an area of the airplane where other passengers have paid more to sit there.

"From a practical standpoint, I understand...If you have three people crammed in one seat and an empty row up there, shouldn't everyone just be able to spread out? What a treat that is when the flight allows you to," says Malis. "But then also respecting that there's people who have paid extra to be there and that someone hasn't and that's unfair."

Malis also thinks it's a little ironic that the emergency exit rows are sometimes marketed as premium seating, with a free drink included.

"People that are asked to be willing and able to assist in the event of an emergency are maybe more likely to have a couple of drinks if they're sitting there. But that's how it is, that's how those seats are marketed," says Malis. "Thankfully, we don't have a lot of emergency evacuations."

Who has the right to the middle armrest?

Major jokingly describes the scramble for the middle armrest as a "brutal fight," but comes down firmly on the position that the person in the middle should take it.

Malis agrees: "It's not written down anywhere as far as I'm aware, but I think the unspoken courtesy is that the person in the center seat, in the middle seat, gets the armrest."

Should window blinds be kept closed or open?

Some people want them up, some people want them down. Major says window blinds can be a contentious issue, particularly on long-haul flights, but the answer is often pretty clear.

"If it's a night flight, close them," says Major. "Just one person opening the blinds, the light comes in and keeps people awake and it can really have an impact on people. You understand it though -- people want to have a look down. If you're flying over the Himalayas, you want to have a look at Mount Everest. Why would you not?"

Blinds also need to be open upon arrival due to safety regulations, much to the annoyance of some sleepy passengers. Major says if travelers push back, he'll try to explain that the crew needs to be able to see out to adjust to the light in case there are any problems.

"I think people deal with an explanation an awful lot better than an order," he says. "An explanation -- it gives some mutual respect."

How do you cope with being on your feet all day?

Working as a flight attendant is a physically demanding job. Flying long or short haul, you can be on your feet for hours.

"I've got insoles in my shoes," says Major, adding it's harder for female flight attendants, who are sometimes expected to wear heels.

Those who can will pick the comfiest smart shoes possible, says Major, who says Doc Martens are a popular choice.

Malis says high heels, "definitely add another strain to our feet," but some flight attendants have inflight shoes they change into, which are more comfortable.

"It's definitely a job where you get some good steps in. I think standing is almost just as exhausting as walking though, it can be hard on the lower back," she says.

What do you do in your downtime on flights?

Ultra long-haul flights include structured rest periods for cabin crew. Flight attendants will retire to a separate area of the airplane during this downtime. Facilities vary depending on the airline, route and aircraft.

"Some have beds, some are just comfortable seats in remote places on the aircraft," says Major. "What facilities they offer will depend on how much rest you're supposed to have -- and then how much work you can do is based on that."

Still, it's not always easy to sleep on a plane -- even if you're a flight attendant and you need to recharge before getting back to work.

"I know crew that don't, and they'll read a book or watch a movie on their iPad or something," says Major.

Major says flight attendants working on low-cost carriers sometimes have more downtime on board, as they don't serve much in the way of food and drink. Cabin crew might try to make the most of those pauses.

"A lot of people do higher educational courses, they use the downtime in hotels and places like that, and even on the flights, to do the work," he says.

Malis says she rarely has time to herself on her domestic US flights. If she does, she'll eat a quick snack to refuel.

Do flight attendants eat and drink the same food as passengers?

Malis and Major say flight attendants are able to eat and drink airline culinary offerings, but may choose not.

"Airplane options aren't always the foods that are going to keep me the most alert," says Malis, who says she usually packs light snacks like hummus, apples and popcorn.

"I drink plenty of airplane coffee I will say, but I usually bring my own -- at least have one on my way to work or at the airport that's a little stronger -- and sip on that all morning long."

Major says he avoids foods that might make him feel bloated. His main focus is drinking lots of water on board.

"You'll always find the crew have got a bottle of water and a hot drink somewhere, they'll have a tea or coffee."

Major says some crew will also bring their own meals on board, often due to dietary requirements, but his airline doesn't allow crew to heat up food from home in the inflight ovens.

Malis says her airline does -- in theory -- allow flight attendants to heat up food brought from home, but you have to bring the right container and ovens can be unpredictable when you're trying to get the temperature right.

On holiday flights, Malis says some crew members might get creative, bringing in food to add to the festive vibe and "to cheer the crew up if they're missing out on spending the day with their family."

"There's some pretty clever little things that flight attendants can do in the galley," she adds. "But for the most part, there's not a lot of time to be doing that. Mostly flight attendants are just trying to find any spare moments to grab a bite of food to keep going on some of these marathon days."

How do you deal with nervous fliers?

For some passengers, it's the fact they're not in control. Other travelers hate the unidentified noises that soundtrack the flight.

"When I find someone who's scared of flying, I try to find out what's the driver behind it," says Major. "If you can talk to people and find out why they're frightened, then you can alleviate their fears, because the chances of anything mechanical creating a situation where the plane would crash -- it's beyond remote."

Some people find learning more about the mechanics and logistics helpful. Other passengers just need distraction, and speaking to flight attendants might help.

"The crew, that's down to their skills to find out what it is that person needs to get them through the flight," says Major.

If Major is speaking to an anxious passenger before the aircraft takes off, there's also another layer at play -- flight attendants want to avoid someone deciding to deplane at the last minute, which could delay the flight and mean the aircraft misses its takeoff slot.

Major and his team have to decide as quickly as possible whether the passenger is able to fly that day.

"That again, comes down to the skills of the crew," says Major, who will always strive to remain calm in those moments. "I don't want the passengers to think my primary concern is, 'Are you going to delay me closing the doors and getting this thing up in the air?'"

Malis advises that anxious fliers make themselves known to air crew. If she knows a passenger is nervous, she'll try to keep tabs on them for the duration of the flight. She recommends breathing techniques, and also advises bringing along an engrossing book, or losing yourself in a TV show or movie.

Major also advises bringing an iPad, coloring books or toys to entertain children and keep them as calm as possible during the flight.

Do you worry about bad turbulence?

When she's working a flight, Malis views turbulence as "more of a nuisance and inconvenience."

"But it's kind of funny, when I'm a passenger and I hit turbulence, I feel like I'm just like every other passenger, which doesn't make any sense. I'm always like, 'What was that bump? Is everything okay?'"

It's a reminder that a bumpy flight isn't pleasant for anyone -- even if it's usually nothing to worry about.

What do you do in an inflight medical situation?

Major says that how crew approach an inflight medical situation depends on several factors, including the nature of the situation and the preferences of the crew.

He doesn't generally opt for the classic "is there a doctor on board?" callout.

"In the UK, you'll find that most crews won't ask for a doctor, they'll do it themselves. We wouldn't want someone involved that doesn't know our environment."

Flight attendants have medical supplies on board in case of emergencies, although they can only administer certain drugs under the direction of a radio call to the ground.

"They can talk us through what we need to know if we need to," says Major, who says he's never delivered a baby on board, but has come close.

"If someone's having a cardiac arrest, we've got the defib, we can do it. If a doctor wants to help us they can, but it depends what they're a doctor in."

Malis says on her US-based flights, cabin crew will also put in calls to physicians on the ground in the case of a medical emergency. But unlike Major, she says "having a doctor or a nurse on the flight is definitely preferable or helpful.

"Personally, I would prefer to page a doctor on a plane. I think they're obviously the best trained for those types of circumstances. But we do have resources on the ground and our own basic training that covers a lot of things."

What's it like when there's a celebrity on the flight?

Everyone has to find a way to get from point A to point B, even celebrities. In fact, Major says that on pretty much every transatlantic flight, there's likely to be someone at least moderately famous among the hundreds of passengers.

Generally speaking, the cabin crew aren't given any warning that a celebrity is going to be on board -- they'll usually only realize when they see their name on the passenger list.

There are a few exceptions though.

"Sometimes you will be notified that there is a VIP on board -- that tends to be royal families," says Major.

And yes, some celebrities have a reputation for being rude, and that reputation will spread among flight attendants.

Equally, some celebrities are known among cabin crew for being friendly and charming.

Malis says other passengers often have no idea they're rubbing shoulders with A-listers.

"If you're sitting in the back of a plane, there's a very good chance there's a celebrity in first class that you never even knew about," she says.

Do you have codes you use to refer to passengers?

Major says when he first started flying two decades ago, flight attendants would sometimes use the code "BOB" AKA "best on board," to refer to the passenger they deemed most good-looking.

"It's just a bit of fun," he says, adding it's not as commonplace now. "We're talking years ago."

What do you think when passengers applaud when the plane lands?

Major suggests this is a regional thing and it's more common on European flights.

"Italians do it every single flight, every single time. Sometimes after bad turbulence you'll get it. You understand that one -- people are just relieved to get there because they don't really understand turbulence," he says.

Malis says in the US, passengers usually only clap after a very bumpy flight.

"I guess people are surprised the plane landed, I'm not sure? Most planes do land," she says. "Personally, I think it's kind of cheesy. I think a lot of flight attendants would agree with me on that."

What strange things do people leave behind in the cabin?

It's best not to go there.

"Everything your imagination can drum up, we'll have found it," says Major.

Have you ever befriended a passenger?

Major once gave a stranded passenger a lift in his car and they're still connected on social media today.

As for Malis, she says whether or not flight attendants connect with passengers depends on their personal comfort level, and boundaries should always be respected.

"There's been instances of passengers stalking flight attendants and stuff like that. So it's important that we do keep somewhat of a professional line drawn," she says.

But one time she ended up flying with her fifth grade basketball coach, by pure coincidence, which was fun.

And both Malis and Major know stories of flight attendants who've married passengers.

Can you accept gifts from passengers?

Major says flight attendants can only accept sealed packages, due to the security implications.

Malis says the crew genuinely appreciate tokens of appreciation.

"It really does brighten our days when people have the forefront to recognize us like that," she says.

"We are the recipients of chocolate, a lot. Starbucks gift cards are great."

Malis isn't sure of the current policy, but recalls at one time flight attendants were told to decline cash three times, but that they could accept it on the fourth try.

While it's lovely when crew are acknowledged with gifts on the holidays, Malis says even just a smile makes a big difference and can change the atmosphere on board.

"You'd actually be surprised how many people just ignore you, as you say hello, and they don't even look at you or say anything to you," she says.

"I don't know if anyone's first choice is to be flying on the holidays. But we're all kind of all in it together."

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Tuesday, 22 November 2022 09:47

12 Traditional Dishes of Ghana

Although Ghana is a relatively small country in Western Africa, it is famous for a cuisine that is deeply rooted in it's culture and history. Globe Aware volunteers may find themselves unfamiliar with many of these traditional dishes.


Ghanaian Food: 12 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of Ghana

October 7, 2022
Travel Food Atlas

Although Ghana is a relatively small country in Western Africa, it has a population of 30 million and was the first sub-Saharan country to achieve independence from colonialism. The country is not only famous for their great leaders, but also for a cuisine that is deeply rooted in their culture and history.

ghana food

Most Popular Ghanaian Dishes

With the prevalence of tropical ingredients such as corn, beans, millet, plantains, cassava, hot peppers and tomatoes, most dishes utilise at least one of these in their preparation. A starchy staple such as yams, corn dough or plantain is typically paired with a stew or soup along with meat or beans.

So without further ado, here are the most popular traditional foods of Ghana, along with our favorite recipes for you to try yourself.

Banku

Banku is a solidified mixture of fermented corn dough and cassava dough that is combined and swirled in boiling water. It is a delicacy in Ghana’s southern, eastern, and western regions.

Banku is served with a variety of soups, stews, and sauces, ranging from peanut butter to pounded palm nut soup. Okra stew or soup, on the other hand, is the most famous soup that matches well with banku. Cowskin, often known as ‘wele,’ is applied to any seafood of your preference.

Banku Recipe


 

Fufu

Fufu is a renowned delicacy throughout Ghana and its neighbouring countries. In Francophone areas, it is known as foufou or foutou, whereas in English-speaking areas, such as Nigeria, it is known as fufu.

Fufu is made with a mixture of simmering tropical cassava and plantain or yam, and is served with a mild soup. Peanut butter soup, pounded-palm-nut soup and vegetable soup derived from spinach or cocoyam leaves are all good combinations for fufu. Snails, mushrooms and fish are common ingredients in such soups.

Fufu Recipe


 

Yam Pottage

Yam, like many other Ghanaian staple foods, may be used to create a bunch of dishes including yam pottage. Yams are boiled and cooked with tomatoes, peppers, onions, oil and herbs.

Dried sardines and salted dry tilapia are often incorporated into the dish to add extra flavor.

Yam Pottage Recipe


 

Kelewele

Kelewele is a side dish that consists of fried plantains that have been seasoned with a variety of spices and served alongside a stew or even just on their own. It is widely popular in Ghana and in neighboring countries due to its fragrant flavors and versatility.

Kelewele Recipe


 

Waakye

Waakye is a dish of Ghanian style rice and beans. White rice and beans like black eyed peas, cow peas or red beans are boiled along with waakye leaves and a little salt until they are soft. While Waakye is the name of the dish, it is also the name of the leaves that give this dish its reddish color.

Pronounced “Waa-chee” or “Waa-chey”, the leaves can be millet, sorghum or red hibiscus flowers which is called sobolo in Ghana. As the leaves cook, they release a red pigment which colors the rice and beans.

Waakye Recipe


 

Tuo Zaafi

Tuo Zaafi, or TZ, is a popular dish amongst the people of Northern Ghana, particularly the Dagombas. It is made by preparing three separate dishes and combining them to create a meat stew.

Tuo Zaafi Recipe


 

Wasawasa (Yam Flour Meal)

Wasawasa is a dish made from the peelings of dried yams which are ground into flour and then cooked. The dish is widely popular in Northern Ghana.

It has a sweet flavor and is typically served with a spicy black pepper sauce and a stew, topped with sliced onions and tomatoes.

Wasawasa Recipe


 

Jollof Rice

Jollof rice, one of the most popular dishes throughout Western Africa, is made by cooking rice in a tomato stew. It is easy to make and can be done in about an hour.

Jollof rice is also a staple dish in Nigeria and Senegal, with each claiming to be the original creators. It is typically served with salad or with chicken, goat, or cow meat.

Jollof Rice Recipe


 

Kenkey

Kenkey is a dumpling-like dish made with a maize dough that is fermented over a number of days. It is therefore quite a time-consuming dish to make.

Kenkey is usually served with fried fish and pepper sauce or spicy black pepper sauce (shito).

Kenkey Recipe


 

Red Red

Red Red, as you might imagine, is a dish of deep-red color made from black eyed peas and plantain. Fish, scotch bonnet peppers, onions and tomatoes are also added.

The most common fish used are pilchards or mackerel. It is then often served with rice or fried plantain.

Red Red Recipe


 

Shito

Shito, also known as shitor din, is a Ghanaian hot black pepper sauce generally prepared using fish or vegetable oil, ginger, dried fish, prawns, crustaceans, tomatoes, garlic, peppers and many different spices. The ingredients are generally blended and prepared in vegetable or corn oil for more than an hour to make the sauce.

Shito Recipe


 

Omo Tuo

Omo Tuo are soft-boiled grains of rice that are formed into balls, cooked and served with a variety of soups. It is a versatile side dish that can be paired with plenty of meals.

 Omo Tuo Recipe

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Food Atlas

As millions of Americans gear up to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday week, many will have to deal with rain, snow, blustery winds and cold temperatures. Globe Aware volunteers on the move should know what to be on the look out for!


Snow and thunderstorms could hinder holiday travel this week

By Allison Chinchar
CNN Meteorologist
November 20, 2022

As millions of Americans gear up to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday week, many will have to deal with rain, snow, blustery winds and cold temperatures.

Over 5 million people from Michigan to New York are under winter weather alerts as additional lake-effect snow is expected to fall Sunday.

Meanwhile, rain and thunderstorms will be the main concern for some southern states.

travel snow

More than 2 feet of snow has fallen across portions of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota the past few days, and a blockbuster over 6 feet of snow has fallen in New York state. Since temperatures will barely exceed the low 40s the next few days, a lot of that snow will be sticking around.

The cold temperatures after the snow ends can also be dangerous.

“On a day where you have snow that quickly falls, you’re already almost blinded visibility-wise while driving,” Jonathan Guseman, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in State College, Pennsylvania, tells CNN. “The snow melts on the highway and then the cold surge of air behind the snow squall freezes that melted snow and produces what we call a flash freeze, where it makes it almost impossible to keep traction and drive safely on the highway.”

This week more than 70% of the US population (over 230 million people) will see temperatures at or below freezing.

Sunday will start with practically everyone east of the Mississippi River and most of Texas feeling more like January than November with temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below normal.

St. Louis is forecast to have a high temperature on Sunday of only 40 degrees – that is their normal high temperature for January of 10 degrees.

Cincinnati is forecast to have a high temperature on Sunday of only 32 degrees – 20 degrees colder than their normal high temperature of 52 degrees.

Even a southern city like San Antonio isn’t much better. Their forecast to have a high temperatures on Sunday of only 49 degrees – their normal high temperature is 70 degrees.

Rain returns to the Pacific Northwest and southern states

A series of storms will push into the Pacific Northwest bringing rain to the coast and valleys, and snow to the Olympic and Cascade mountains this week.

“A weak weather system moves through the area late Sunday night or Monday morning, followed by a stronger one Tuesday,” the National Weather Service office in Portland said.

The northern Rockies will also see precipitation chances on Tuesday through Wednesday with the frontal system passing through.

Rain accumulation is not expected to be very high, with most areas picking up less than 1 inch through Wednesday.

The southern US, however, will see slightly higher amounts of rain this week.

A low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico is allowing for rain showers across Texas Sunday, pushing into Louisiana Monday and Alabama and Georgia on Tuesday.

Areas of Florida, however, have rain chances every day from Sunday through Wednesday, including Orlando, Miami, and Key West.

In total rain accumulations across Texas and Louisiana will remain between 1-2 inches, but slightly higher along the east coast of Florida which could pick up as much as 3 inches through mid-week.

The Weather Prediction Center (WPC) cautions that isolated flash flooding could be a concern across urban areas.

The biggest weather concern this holiday week looks to take place starting Thursday across the middle of the country.

Here's a preview of the Thanksgiving holiday forecast. It appears that unsettled weather will spread into the eastern half of the U.S. with an intensifying storm possible near the East Coast. However, details are uncertain at this time so please stay tuned to forecast updates. pic.twitter.com/lI2154AQfY

— NWS Weather Prediction Center (@NWSWPC) November 19, 2022

For now, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York should be able to play out without rain, but by Friday you may need that umbrella in the Northeast for any Black Friday shopping.

“A couple of low pressure systems including a possible Nor’easter could cause meaningful precipitation across eastern parts of the US late next week,” the WPC said this weekend.

This could bring rain/snow and nasty travel conditions to many major cities east of the Mississippi River through Saturday.

“Current forecasts indicate that wintry precipitation is a better possibility for the Interior Northeast while the metropolitan areas along the I-95 corridor are more likely to get rain,” the WPC said.

But stay tuned to future forecasts this week as details like snow versus rain could change over the next few days.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 16 November 2022 08:48

Best Early Black Friday Deals on Luggage

With these deals, you can get a quality carry-on, duffle, or other luggage for less. Globe Aware volunteers who need new travel gear, this is right time to stock up!


 

Best Early Black Friday Deals on Luggage Right Now

With these deals, you can get a quality carry-on, duffle, or other luggage for less.

By Samantha B Gordon
November 9, 2022
Consumer Reports

If you’re planning a trip for the holidays and like to travel light—or very light—you’ll want a bag that’s budget friendly and performs well in CR’s evaluations of carry-on suitcases, weekender bags, backpacks, and slim wallets.

The good news is that, thanks to a slew of early Black Friday sales, you can find great deals on luggage that performed well in our tests. We found the best ones, so you can buy with confidence, knowing you’re not just getting a good price, but a great product. And we’re keeping an eye out for more discounts and offers throughout the holidays, so check back later to see if there’s anything new.

In Consumer Reports’ tests, we put 12 hard-shell carry-on bags from as many brands through 31 different evaluations of use, durability, ergonomics, safety, and other aspects of ownership. We’ve also evaluated weekender bags, slim wallets, and travel backpacks.

Delsey St. Tropez 21" Hardside Carry-On Spinner

PRICE: $168-$170404977 carry on luggage delsey st tropez 21 hardside carry on spinner 10026841

SOLD BY: Amazon, Belk, Kohl's

This expandable hard-shell carry-on from Delsey is easy to use and performed well in most of our tests—though it suffered in some of our impact tests. Its 10-year limited warranty is not as generous as some other brands’ lifetime warranties, but not as stingy as some others. It comes in pink, navy, black, and graphite.

Why it’s a good deal: This luggage usually sells for around $190, so you’re really only saving about $22. But this price matches the best price we’ve seen for this carry-on, which was only available once before during Amazon’s fall sale.


Hartmann 21" Vigor Carry-On Spinner

PRICE: $171.50404980 carry on luggage hartmann 21 hartmann vigor carry on spinner 10026838

SOLD BY: Belk

This hard-shell Hartmann carry-on performed very well in our durability tests. It’s not expandable, however, and its handle only telescopes to two heights. Its 10-year limited warranty is not as generous as some other brands’ lifetime warranties, but not as stingy as some others. The Vigor comes in black, bronze, and navy.

Why it’s a good deal: This is $25 better than the best price we’ve seen.


Ekster Senate Cardholder

PRICE: $63.00CR PC OTL Thin Wallets Ekster 05 22

SOLD BY: Ekster

The Ekster Senate Cardholder features a design that keeps that pop-up switch level with the aluminum cardholder. It includes a cash strap and single cardholder to hold your bills on the outside with the company’s logo emblazoned on the front and keep a card on the outside, such as a Metro card for tap-to-go. Thoughtfully, the company includes an extra strap without the cardholder, to slim things down even further, inside a very beautiful box.

Why it’s a good deal: This 20 percent discount is a good reason to splurge on your next wallet.


Travando RFID Blocking Bifold Credit Card Holder

 PRICE: $26.95CR PC OTL Thin Wallets Travando 05 22

SOLD BY: Amazon

This faux leather wallet from Travando features a full-size non-removable money clip inside. Its design includes a window sleeve, a front sleeve that exposes part of the card held there, and enough pockets to hold 11 cards.

Why it’s a good deal: It’s not the best slim wallet we evaluated, but the price is right. Be sure to click to add the coupon for 10 percent off.


Nimalist Air Tag Wallet

PRICE: $39.95CR PC OTL Thin Wallets Nimalist 05 22

SOLD BY: Nimalist

This Nimalist slim wallet accommodates Apple products by incorporating Apple’s puck-shaped, rounded-top tracking device, sold separately, into its design. AirTags aren’t the greatest shape for slim wallets, and the indent is very noticeable when put in the front or back pocket. However, this is an otherwise great wallet, with soft leather and seven very thin pockets that hold up to 12 cards.

Why it’s a good deal: If you’re an Apple person, this is a great way to track the whereabouts of your wallet for half the price.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler
Tuesday, 15 November 2022 10:31

AAA: Inflation hasn't slowed travel spending

The price of just about everything has increased in the past year, but that doesn’t seem to have slowed interest in travel or Americans’ spending on it, according to travel experts. Globe Aware volunteers will be interested to find out why!


 

AAA: Inflation hasn't slowed travel spending

BY SARAH BLAZONIS
SPECTRUM NEWS
NOV. 13, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. — The price of just about everything has increased in the past year, but that doesn’t seem to have slowed interest in travel or Americans’ spending on it, according to travel experts.

"Despite the inflationary pressures, gas prices being high, people are still spending on travel. In fact, travel spending is at its highest level since the pandemic," said Mark Jenkins, a spokesperson for AAA Auto Club Group.

travel passport

The Expedia Group's Traveler Insights Report for the fourth quarter cites its Traveler Value Index study, which shows 46% of travelers they surveyed worldwide said travel is more important to them now than it was before the pandemic. Stephen Couture of Roanoke, Va., traveled through Tampa International Airport Sunday. He said he's feeling the urge to travel more.

"Absolutely," Couture said. "We even traveled a little bit during the pandemic, but over the last year, we've gone on cruises and have gotten back to flying. All the planes are full. I mean, there's not a single seat left that's empty."

According to the Expedia Group report, searches for travel during November and December are up 60% from last year, pointing to a possibly busier holiday travel season. Diego, a traveler flying from Tampa to Chicago, said he postponed his holiday travel plans until February due to what he said were rising ticket prices.

"Like, double maybe — especially for the peak periods," Diego said of price increases he's noticed. "Then, you do find deals for the non-peak."

Diego said airfare prices have impacted his travel plans in general.

"I need to really know when I'm going. It changes my schedule, actually, the prices," Diego said.

The Expedia Group report said inflation and what deals travelers can get are likely to begin influencing the details of more trips.

Jenkins said when it comes to holiday travel, it's important to book sooner than later to get the best prices and availability.

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Wednesday, 09 November 2022 10:10

A travel fee that's going down

The Transportation Security Administration announced that TSA PreCheck, the service aimed at expediting airport security screening for members, will now cost less for enrollment and in-person renewal. Globe Aware volunteers can read to find out the new price!


A travel fee that's going down: Price drops for TSA PreCheck

Marnie Hunter
CNN
November 4, 2022

(CNN) — At a moment when it seems like everything is getting more expensive, there's at least one travel convenience that will cost air travelers less.

The Transportation Security Administration announced on Friday that TSA PreCheck, the service aimed at expediting airport security screening for members, will now cost less for enrollment and in-person renewal.

Enrollment provider IDEMIA has dropped those fees from $85 to $78. The cost to renew membership online remains $70.

Membership, which requires application and approval, is good for five years before renewal is required.

Those travelers applying for TSA PreCheck membership must provide "biometric and biographic information that TSA uses to conduct a security threat assessment," TSA said in a news release.

airport security tsa

PreCheck in time for the holidays

Now is the time to enroll for the holiday season, TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in a statement.

"TSA PreCheck offers significant benefits to those who meet its enrollment standards -- less physical contact, fewer items on the conveyor belt and faster screening," Pekoske said.

Applying involves an in-person enrollment appointment. According to the TSA, there are 500 enrollment centers in the United States. Most travelers receive a "Known Traveler Number" (KTN) within about three to five days, the agency says.

That number must be added to passengers' flight reservations to receive the expedited screening. With TSA PreCheck membership, travelers are allowed to leave on shoes, belts and jackets and electronics and liquids complying with the 3-1-1 rule may stay in carry-on bags.

Faster security lanes

Designated lanes for members generally move more quickly than non-PreCheck lanes.

According to the TSA, 93% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes at airport security in September 2022.

The move comes as the number of passengers screened at TSA checkpoints approaches pre-pandemic figures.

On November 3, some 2,236,880 passengers were screened at US airports, about 90% of the number screened in 2019.

After a busy summer plagued by air travel disruptions, the busy holiday season will soon put airlines and airports to the test again.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Tuesday, 08 November 2022 08:59

The friendliest countries in the world

Our planet is home to some seriously friendly countries, and our Globe Aware volunteers will delighted to see some of our own program locations on the list. Get ready for warm welcomes in locations like the Philippines, Peru and more!


 

The friendliest countries in the world: 2022 Readers' Choice Awards

The most welcoming destinations from all four corners of the globe, as voted for by you.

CONDÉ NAST TRAVELLER
October 4, 2022

They say you can travel the world and you'll never find anywhere as welcoming as home, but we don't quite think that's true. From the ever-beaming people of Sri Lanka to the famously open-armed population of New Zealand, our planet is home to some seriously friendly countries, ready to share the love they feel for their country with you. So, once again, we asked our readers to vote for the countries they consider to be home to the friendliest people in our 2022 Readers' Choice Awards. This is how you voted – counting backwards from 10 to one.

10. Philippines

Just making it into the top 10, the Philippines (made up of around 7,641 islands) inclusion is proof that the famous Filipino hospitality is alive and kicking. The country has often been praised for its seemingly effortless ability to lavish genuine hospitality on visitors, foreigners, or expatriates. Many people consider the Banaue Rice Terraces here to be the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World,' though plenty of other beauty spots abound here. The islands are peppered with majestic mountainscapes, decorative churches and sprawling sandy beaches.

9. Sri Lanka

From children to the elderly, the people of Sri Lanka are known for their love of visitors, and genuine desire to help. On the south coast, set sail on a whale watching expedition in Mirissa, shop the colourful boutiques of the fort city of Galle or shack up at the uber-luxe Cape Weligama hotel, occupying a cliff next to the ocean. Make the climb up to the Tea District, where precarious winding roads will lead you into the heart of the country's tea plantations, or, towards the centre, climb Sigiriya Rock for views far and wide.

belize

8. Belize

Described by educator and civil advocate Sebastian Cayetano as “the melting pot of Central America,” Belize is a country with a rich and variety of cultures, traditions and histories. Many visitors take advantage of the perfect snorkelling surrounds, heading to Belize Barrier Reef to see the coral garden, head underground to explore the caves, dripping with flora and fauna, or pay a visit to Hopkins Village, on the coast of the Stann Creek District, where you'll be able to see cassava bread being made (it takes two days to prepare) and hike the waterfalls at Bocawina National Park.

7. Peru

Home to no less than 28 of the world's 32 climates, Peru is a country that seems to band together every landscape you could experience. From the jagged Andes (the longest continental mountain range in the world) to the tropical Amazon basin and fringing the outskirts, some pretty exquisite - if a-typical - coastline. The 15th-century Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is perhaps the country's most famous landmark, though locals will tell you that the Lost City of Choquequirao is much more extensive (though harder to reach on foot).

6. Botswana

The Batswana people (the name commonly given to inhabitants here), never shy away from being outwardly proud of their culture and open communication is an important part of it, predominantly respecting the elderly and making eye contact (avoiding this is thought to be suspicious). Spread across the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, game reserves and safaris are big business here, with open jeep tours treating visitors to fossilised river valleys and rippling grasslands, as well as a wide variety of species, from giraffes to hyenas.

5. Costa Rica

Costa Rica's mix of national parks, diverse wildlife and idyllic beaches has made it a popular destination for a wide melting pot of people, whether they're drawn here by the promise of hiking through the sloth-inhabited rainforest, an adrenaline rush on the rapids of free-flying rivers or, and this one isn't to be underestimated, the promise of some of the best coffee in the world.

4. Thailand

From the bustling hypermarkets and twinkling skyscrapers of Bangkok to the calm azure waters of Khao Lak and Pranburi, Thailand is a country of contrast, taking visitors from streets where you can barely move for people, tuk tuks and street food vendors to sprawling spa resorts that feel all but deserted. A whistle-stop tour might also include Phuket, an island chock full of flashy, grand hotels that draw tourists by the bucketload, Koh Phi Phi, made famous thanks to it being the setting for Leonardo DiCaprio's movie The Beach and the beautiful ancient temples of Chiang Mai.

3. New Zealand

Famed the world over for their laidback, positive attitude towards life, the native inhabitants of New Zealand (known as Māori) have only called the island home for 800 years. And it is perhaps the Māori people who first started the friendly outlook toward visitors, with the idea of manaakitanga (Māori for hospitality) - a sign of mutual respect for others - helping to boost the value of friendly generosity among the people here.

2. Colombia

The colourful, bold and open-hearted culture of Colombia can be immediately felt on arrival. Cities give way to swathes of lush jungle, punctuated by the tips of mountains (their pathways weaving this way and that) and at the base, a burgeoning marine ecosystem, with rainbow-coloured coral reefs and honey-hued beaches. In short, it's impossible not to become wrapped up in the music, the joyful atmosphere and the zest for life here.

1. French Polynesia

The friendliest country in the world according to you, our readers, is French Polynesia, a collection of more than 100 islands in the South Pacific. The mild climate makes it a year-round destination, and the locals here are only too happy to accommodate. Divided into the Austral, Gambier, Marquesas, Society and Tuamotu archipelagos, avid divers revel in the coral-fringed lagoons here, keen hikers are treated to waterfalls that loom large, varied, mountainous terrain and all sorts of exotic plant life, while over-water hotels make it a favourite among honeymooners too.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

Many students who have been on a mission trip or volunteer service abroad program think it is the ideal topic for their college admissions essay. However there are some very key points to think through, otherwise writing about your program will not be helpful at all. Here watch Dr. Crystal Rose and Globe Aware founder Kimberly Haley-Coleman discuss the ins and outs of the decision.

Many high school students think that writing about their service abroad experience for their college application essay is the perfect thing to do, but watch parts one, two and three of our series on this subject to see if this really makes sense for YOUR application.

You can view part one here

You can view part two here

You can view part three here

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Many students who have been on a mission trip or volunteer service abroad program think it is the ideal topic for their college admissions essay. However there are some very key points to think through, otherwise writing about your program will not be helpful at all. Here watch Dr. Crystal Rose and Globe Aware founder Kimberly Haley-Coleman discuss the ins and outs of the decision.

Many high school students think that writing about their service abroad experience for their college application essay is the perfect thing to do, but watch parts one, two and four of our series on this subject to see if this really makes sense for YOUR application.

You can view part one here

You can view part two here

You can view part four here

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Many students who have been on a mission trip or volunteer service abroad program think it is the ideal topic for their college admissions essay. However there are some very key points to think through, otherwise writing about your program will not be helpful at all. Here watch Dr. Crystal Rose and Globe Aware founder Kimberly Haley-Coleman discuss the ins and outs of the decision.

Many high school students think that writing about their service abroad experience for their college application essay is the perfect thing to do, but watch parts one, two and four of our series on this subject to see if this really makes sense for YOUR application.

You can view part one here

You can view part three here

You can view part four here

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Thursday, 03 November 2022 09:17

Take a Photo of Your Luggage Before Checking It

Do any of our Globe Aware volunteers do this already before they head out to travel? Find out why snapping photos of luggage might help if they ever get lost!


 

Why You Should Always Take a Photo of Your Luggage Before Checking It

It could save you a massive headache — and money.

By Stacey Leasca
October 16, 2022
Travel + Leisure

Preparing for a trip always comes with a long to-do list and even though you may have thought of everything, from calling your bank to buying travelers insurance, taking a photo of your luggage — contents and all — may be just as important.

As airlines recover from a summer of delays, cancellations and yes, lost bags, having proof of what your belongings look like may help you receive compensation in case your checked luggage doesn't arrive to your destination, or arrives damaged.

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“Airlines are required to compensate passengers if their bags are damaged, delayed, or lost,” the Department of Transportation's website reads. “Airlines are required to compensate passengers for reasonable, verifiable, and actual incidental expenses that they may incur while their bags are delayed — subject to the maximum liability limits.”

And FYI, those “liability limits” are $3,800 for domestic delays and $1,780 for international.

“This is the most that airlines must pay a passenger for a lost, damaged, or delayed bag," the DOT added. "Airlines are free to pay more than the limit but are not required to do so.”

This money can be used to cover the cost of items needed during a trip, like new clothing, toiletries, or other necessary goods. If you do go out and purchase items while your bag is delayed and before you are granted compensation by the airline, make sure to hold onto the receipts to help with your claim later.

If your luggage seems to be (sadly) lost for good, check in with your airline as the rules vary from carrier to carrier. However, the DOT noted that most airlines declare a bag lost between five and fourteen days after the flight. And, again, importantly, the DOT explained, for lost luggage claims, “airlines may require receipts or other proof for valuable items that were in the lost bags.”

So go ahead, have a little photoshoot with your luggage — just in case.

Passenger advocate group AirHelp also advised to not only take a picture of your luggage and packed items — including valuables — but to snap a photo of your bag tag before it heads off onto the carousel at check-in. This should help airline staff track down where your bags may be — on the wrong plane, left at the departure airport, or somewhere in between.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure

By now there are 118 countries completely open, there are still quite a few with restrictions or closed borders. Globe Aware volunteers will want to know where our Nepal and China programs stand.


 

No entry: These are all the countries that are still closed to tourists thanks to COVID

By Charlotte Elton
28/10/2022
Euronews

After two years of tough restrictions, travel has started to resemble the pre-pandemic ‘normal.’

From vaccination certificates to testing to last-minute border closures, would-be jetsetters have abided by stringent rules.

But this year, the tide has turned. Over the past few months, 30 countries have scrapped their remaining entry rules.

Though 109 countries still have some travel restrictions in place, 118 are completely open - at least to vaccinated travellers, who we have focused on here.

A few countries still have closed borders - even to vaccinated travellers. So where are they, and what are the rules?

Which countries have the strictest COVID rules for vaccinated travellers?

China

China is still pursuing a ‘zero-COVID’ policy, so all incoming travellers face 10 days of hotel quarantine at their own expense. They must also test negative on arrival.

Tourists are not currently permitted. However, according to a draft policy document released by China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism in September, tour groups organised by travel agencies may soon be permitted.

Nauru

All travellers must isolate until a PCR test returns a negative result. If it is positive, they must quarantine for 14 days.

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan

All foreign travellers are banned.

North Korea

All foreign travellers are banned, though this has been the case since before COVID.

Where is quarantine still required for vaccinated travellers who test positive?

In some countries, vaccinated travellers must still quarantine - but only if they test positive on a mandatory COVID test performed on arrival.

  • Indonesia
  • Myanmar
  • Nepal (only symptomatic travellers are required to test)
  • Bangladesh (only symptomatic travellers are required to test)
  • Iran (pre-flight test required)
  • Burundi
  • Congo
  • Cameroon
  • Burkina Faso (Travellers with a positive COVID lateral flow test on arrival must quarantine for 72 hours in a hotel at their own cost and wait for the PCR test result. Travellers who test COVID PCR positive must quarantine in medical facilities.)
  • Mali (only symptomatic travellers are required to test)
  • Mauritania (10 days quarantine if you test positive)
  • Venezuela
  • Taiwan

These countries have varying reasons for retaining border restrictions. In some nations, the vaccine rollout has stalled due to a lack of available doses. In Burundi, for example, less than one per cent of the population have had two doses of the jab.

Places where unvaccinated travellers are still completely banned

  • United States
  • China
  • Indonesia

In addition to this, some countries still require unvaccinated travellers to quarantine, or to return a negative test. See country-by-country restrictions here.

Additional Info

  • Source Euronews Travel

Many students who have been on a mission trip or volunteer service abroad program think it is the ideal topic for their college admissions essay. However there are some very key points to think through, otherwise writing about your program will not be helpful at all. Here watch Dr. Crystal Rose and Globe Aware founder Kimberly Haley-Coleman discuss the ins and outs of the decision.

Many high school students think that writing about their service abroad experience for their college application essay is the perfect thing to do, but watch parts two, three and four of our series on this subject to see if this really makes sense for YOUR application.

You can view part two here

You can view part three here

You can view part four here

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Friday, 28 October 2022 08:58

Best Places to Visit in December 2022

Summer starts in December in South Africa with temperatures in the 70s, ideal for being outdoors. Globe Aware volunteers can enjoy hiking and the beaches comfortably during their volunteer vacation there.


11 Best Places to Travel in December 2022

These are the best places to visit in December in the U.S. and around the world.

By Patricia Doherty
October 15, 2022

From frosty ski resorts to warm-weather destinations, there are many fantastic places to travel in December. Love winter, snow, and chilly weather? Mountain ski resorts like Vail are already booking plenty of December reservations, so it’s time to start planning your cold-weather getaway.

Want to stay warm and relax on the beach or by the pool? Cancun and Anguilla are sunny options. Miami in December offers warm weather and annual festivities centered around art. Summer fans might want to head to the southern hemisphere where the season is just beginning in Cape Town and northern Chile. Travelers still wishing for a trip to Europe might consider Portugal’s island of Madeira.

Others want to get into the holiday spirit with glittering lights, decorated trees, and festive entertainment. We have a few suggestions including Ocala, Branson, Alexandria, and Solvang, where the holiday spirit is on full display. These are the best places to travel in December this year.

Ocala, Florida

Set in north central Florida about 80 miles from Orlando, Ocala offers parks, rivers, lakes, golf, fishing, water sports, and mild December weather with temperatures in the low 70s. Ocala has been named “Horse Capital of the World” for its horse farms, training facilities, shows, and horseback tours. The World Equestrian Center, the country’s largest equestrian complex, is located there, with a variety of competition venues and facilities. It’s also home to the five-star Equestrian Hotel featuring superb dining, the Calluna Spa, sumptuous decor, and unique shops for toys, jewelry, clothing, leather goods, and more. From Nov. 25-Dec. 24, Winter Wonderland celebrates the season with twinkling lights, a 60’ Christmas tree, skating rink, carolers, entertainment, and breakfast with Santa at Stirrups restaurant.

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Branson, Missouri

There’s plenty to do in Branson year round, from theme parks to live entertainment, outdoor activities, golf, and water sports. In winter, visitors can enjoy museums, shopping, and fresh mountain air. The holiday season brings over-the-top light displays and family fun with the Polar Express, parades, shows, snow tubing, reindeer, and shopping. Silver Dollar City will feature more than 6.5 million lights from Nov. 5-Dec. 30 along with seasonal foods and shows. Big Cedar Lodge, with accommodations that include cottages, log cabins, and guest rooms, welcomes the holidays with visits from Santa and his elves, gingerbread houses, campfires, crafts, and an ice skating rink.

Alexandria, Virginia

Just across the Potomac River from Washington D.C., Alexandria is a favorite city for its downtown district, history, and architecture. The holiday season starts there with a tree lighting on Nov. 19. The Annual Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade on Dec. 3 is part of the “Biggest Holiday Weekend” that also includes the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. At George Washington’s Mount Vernon home, Christmas Illuminations will return Dec. 16-17 with fireworks and a light show over the Potomac River. Candlelight tours will take place on select weekends in November and December. A visit to the nation’s capital in December is a perfect opportunity to enjoy its holiday decorations, museums, tours, and markets.

Cape Town, South Africa

Summer starts in December in Cape Town with temperatures in the 70s, ideal for being outdoors. Hiking, biking, and visiting the city’s gardens attract nature enthusiasts, and the “Mother City” offers a diverse food scene, from fine dining to street food. Table Mountain features stunning views from a cable car ride to its summit. Stay at Mount Nelson, a Belmond Hotel, and enjoy their new marine experiences like the ocean expedition through kelp forests, where the award-winning documentary "My Octopus Teacher" was filmed. Travel to Cape Town with non-stop flights from Atlanta on Delta and from Washington’s Dulles Airport on United Airlines beginning Nov. 17.

Solvang, California

Solvang, founded by Danish settlers in 1911, is located in Santa Barbara County in Central Coast wine country. It’s a favorite destination for restaurants, shops, bakeries, and its European atmosphere. Solvang celebrates Christmas Danish-style with festive lights, Christmas trees, Santa’s Village in the park, a Julefest parade, food tours, and holiday markets. Stay in town at The Winston or Vinland Hotel + Lounge, both pet-friendly, convenient destinations. Nearby, the new boutique Hotel Ynez is set on two acres among redwood, oak, and madrone trees. The Santa Ynez Inn, just minutes from Solvang, features a new signature restaurant, The Victor.

Cancun, Mexico

Cancun, on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, offers gorgeous December weather in the low 80s, ideal for the beach as well as for exploring nearby Mayan ruins and shopping downtown. With a range of places to stay for families, couples, and groups, visitors can choose resorts or all-inclusive hotels. The new Waldorf Astoria Cancun is set on 100 acres of coastline, and the NIZUC Resort & Spa is another luxury option. Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla is convenient for dining, shopping, and entertainment. Less than an hour from the airport in Cancun, the destination community of Mayakoba features beaches, lagoons, golf, restaurants, and four resorts: Andaz, Banyan Tree, Fairmont, and Rosewood.

Anguilla

Located in the eastern Caribbean about 12 miles north of St. Martin, Anguilla offers great December weather with temperatures in the low 80s and little rainfall. The month of December starts slowly, with more visitors arriving from about mid-month through New Year's week, as is the case in most warm-weather resort areas. Gorgeous white-sand beaches, water sports, and friendly citizens make Anguilla a destination where guests can relax in the sun or stay busy snorkeling, fishing, or exploring the island. Stay at the oceanfront Zemi Beach House or Four Seasons Anguilla Resort on the island’s northwest shore. Aurora Anguilla Resort & Golf Club, with the only golf course on the island, offers charter flights from New York, Washington D.C., and Fort Lauderdale.

Miami, Florida

Art is the focus in early December for Miami, with Art Basel from Dec. 1-3, Art Miami from Nov. 29-Dec. 4, and art institutions throughout the city creating what has become Miami Art Week. Events, exhibitions, galleries, and a variety of venues including the Miami Beach Convention Center will attract crowds of artists, collectors, and fans. Later in the month, the beaches, pools, restaurants, and clubs will be the star attractions as the year-end travel season begins. Stay in luxury at The Setai, the historic Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club, or one of many great Miami resorts. Explore one of Miami’s original neighborhoods in South Beach, Española Way, with a stay at the charming Esmé Hotel.

Madeira, Portugal

Located in the Atlantic Ocean, the Portuguese island of Madeira is the largest in the archipelago of the same name. Mountains, valleys, beaches, and rugged scenery make it a beautiful destination, and December temperatures are typically in the 50s. It may not be swimming weather, but it’s a great time to be outdoors hiking, exploring, and sipping the famous local wines. Christmas traditions, decorations, holiday markets, and festivities are celebrated throughout December. The flight from New York to Funchal, the capital, is about seven hours, and non-stop flights will operate year round beginning in November on SATA Azores Airlines.

Chile

It’s the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere, and because of Chile’s unique geography, the weather varies greatly from north to south, a distance of nearly 2,700 miles. Set between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, the country includes deserts, lakes, volcanoes, and in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego in the south, glaciers and fjords. For beaches and watersports, the town of Navidad is a perfect destination and appropriate for December. The capital, Santiago, is home to museums, restaurants, nightlife, and historic buildings. For wildlife, scenery, and adventure, head to Patagonia in the south.

Vail, Colorado

Vail, located in the central Rocky Mountains, is about 100 miles west of Denver and 30 miles east of Eagle County Regional Airport. From Dec. 1-4, the Vail Film Festival will attract travelers early in the month, and skiers, snowboarders, and winter sports enthusiasts will continue to arrive through the month, filling hotels and ski resorts. Places to stay include The Hythe, a Luxury Collection Resort, with a spa, four dining venues, and curated experiences. The ski-in/ski-out Grand Hyatt Vail is located near Vail Village. Residential vacation rentals are available through onefinestay, and family-sized accommodations can be booked at Antlers Vail.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure
Wednesday, 26 October 2022 10:42

October Traditions Around the World

Globe Aware volunteers won't be surprised to know that Halloween dominates October in much of the Western world. But the rest of the world also celebrate a variety of other traditions in October.


 

October Traditions Around the World

While Halloween dominates October in much of the Western world, a variety of other traditions are observed that month.

By Brianna Navarre
Oct. 21, 2022
U.S. News & World Report

Though many English-speaking countries spend October awaiting the thrills and chills of Halloween, the month is also marked by a host of other traditions across the world – from daylong holidays to full festivals.

While some, such as Oktoberfest, share the carnivalesque tone of Halloween, many highlight religious customs or pay tribute to local lore. Here is a non-exhaustive smattering of October traditions across the globe:

Halloween

While surrounded by hundreds of pumpkins, a girl stops to look at the illuminating jack o' lanterns at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, R.I., Monday, Oct. 8, 2012. Some 5,000 carved pumpkins are on display for this year's Jack-o-lantern Spectacular, one of the nation's largest jack-o-lantern shows. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

A young girl takes a look at the jack-o'-lanterns at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, R.I., on Oct. 8, 2012.(CHARLES KRUPA/AP PHOTO)

The holiday today known as Halloween grew from the Celtic festival Samhain, which marked the end of the harvest season. In the eighth century A.D., the Catholic Church designated Nov. 1 as All Saints Day, and the evening before eventually became All Hallows Eve or Halloween. Bonfires, costumes and a connection between the lands of the living and dead are among the ideas that survived the holiday’s Catholization.

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El Día De Los Muertos

El Día De Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, originated in Mexico. Though celebrations in many areas begin on Oct. 31 and preparations can take weeks, most festivities occur on Nov. 1 and 2. Though it has much in common with Halloween – including an emphasis on the dead and often communal celebrations – the two are separate holidays. With celebrations that often include candy skulls and painted faces, the holiday has something for all ages. However, the heart of the tradition goes beyond tricks and treats. El Día de Los Muertos is steeped in remembrance and commemoration of loved ones, including through the creation of altars and “ofrendas,” or offerings, made in their honor in homes or in cemeteries

The holiday harkens back to Aztec beliefs regarding the afterlife, which, following the 16th century, were married to Spanish Catholicism, hence the overlap with All Saints Day.

Diwali

A slum colony is decorated with lanterns and lights as they celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in Mumbai, India, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020. India's festival season this year started on a subdued note with Dussehra celebrations last month, but traders say now people have come out of homes and are flocking to shopping areas in key Indian cities, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Patna, this week. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

Diwali, which translates from Hindi to “festival of lights,” is a five-day festival celebrated in late October to early November, depending on the Hindu lunar calendar, with this year’s festival beginning on Oct. 24. While it is observed by four of India’s major religious groups – Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists – it has a slightly different significance for each, and it is celebrated in much of southern Asia. For Hindus, for example, Diwali is associated with various legends, in particular the return of Lord Rama and his wife Sita to the ancient Indian city of Ayodhya, which is celebrated with firecrackers, and the honoring of deities such as Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth.

However, all celebrations are marked by visits with family, gift-exchanging, fireworks, and diyas, earthenware lamps lit during rituals and celebrations.

Oktoberfest

Despite its name, Oktoberfest straddles both September and October, with this year’s festival opening on Sept. 17 and closing on Oct. 3. Well known for its promotion of beer – of which 5.6 million liters were consumed this year alone – the festival, now in its 187th year, also celebrates the culture of Bavaria, the German state where the festivities take place.

Bavarians in traditional dress and millions of tourists flood the festival’s fairgrounds, led by the “Münchner Kindl” (or "Munich child”), the city of Munich’s mascot. Though its official home is in Munich, Germany, celebrations have sprung up across the globe – from Argentina to Australia to the U.S.

Pchum Ben

Pchum Ben marks the final day of a 15-day festival of the same name in Cambodia. Though this year’s festivities fell on Sept. 25, it varies year-to-year from mid-September to mid-October.

Similar to Día de Los Muertos, this tradition also stresses remembrance and veneration of ancestors, though it is also associated with Buddhist beliefs around karma and incorporates Buddhist temples and monks. In the Khmer language, “pchum” means to gather and “ben” a ball of food, especially rice, so observers give food offerings to their departed loved ones and celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent, Vassa.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is considered the most sacred holiday in Judaism, and like the aforementioned traditions, its date is variable, falling between late September and mid-October, or 10 days after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. As the “Sabbath of Sabbaths,” Jewish observers fast from sunset to sunset, pray and avoid work as a means to atone and purify. After all, “Yom Kippur” is Hebrew for Day of Atonement.

Following sunset on the second day, the fast is broken with a large, festive meal.

 

Additional Info

  • Source U.S. News & World Report

Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup considered a national dish, ranked 34th in a list of 100 most popular dishes in the world as complied by an international food magazine. Globe Aware volunteers can taste authentic pho when they visit our Hoi An volunteer vacation site!


 Vietnamese pho among world's 100 most popular dishes

By Hoang Phong
October 13, 2022
VN Express International

Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup considered a national dish, ranked 34th in a list of 100 most popular dishes in the world as complied by an international food magazine. Globe Aware volunteers can taste authentic pho when they visit our Hoi An volunteer vacation site!

Pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup considered a national dish, ranked 34th in a list of 100 most popular dishes in the world as complied by international food magazine TasteAtlas.
"It is also one of the most beloved Vietnamese dishes in the western hemisphere due to its complex, unique flavors, and elegant simplicity," according to TasteAtlas, an experiential travel guide to traditional food that collates authentic recipes, food critic reviews, and research articles about popular ingredients and dishes.

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The soup is traditionally served with chicken or beef broth where the bones simmer lazily for at least three hours until the broth is perfect.

"The addition of herbs and spices accentuates the flavors, and the chewy rice noodles, juicy beef slices, and crunchy sprouts elevate the dish to another level," it added.

The magazine also recommended the best places in Vietnam to try the dish like Quynh's and the Hoa Pasteur stall in Ho Chi Minh City and Thin's stall or Gia Truyen's in Hanoi.

Italian pizza topped the world list, followed by Japanese sushi and the American burger.

 

Additional Info

  • Source VN Express International
Wednesday, 19 October 2022 05:07

Spontaneous Travel Trend Increases Happiness

Since, over the past two-and-a-half years, the effects of COVID-19 forced travelers to be more flexible in their plans and book their trips relatively last minute and so a spirit of spontaneity and flexibility is emerging as the new norm in travel. Globe Aware volunteers can learn the psychological effects of this new trend!


Psychology Suggests Spontaneous Travel Trend Increases Happiness

By LAURIE BARATTI
OCTOBER 16, 2022
Travel Pulse

It seems that Americans are becoming accustomed to travel’s unpredictability during the pandemic, as many are now embracing this era of uncertainty and exhibiting highly spontaneous behavior when heading off on their getaways.

Since, over the past two-and-a-half years, the effects of COVID-19 forced travelers to be more flexible in their plans and book their trips relatively last minute, some vacationers now appear to be taking that trend to the extreme. In fact, a spirit of spontaneity and flexibility is emerging as the new norm in travel.

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How COVID-19 Sparked Spontaneity

Pent-up demand and latent frustrations produced by two-plus years of global travel restrictions have led Americans to adopt a more impromptu approach, preferring to make travel arrangements at a moment’s notice.

The evidence comes from a recent survey conducted by travel metasearch engine Skyscanner, which revealed that more than half (53 percent) of American respondents have booked trips to destinations they know nothing about. Still more shocking is the discovery that over half of U.S. participants (56 percent) have actually arrived at the airport with no destination in mind.

According to the study, American jetsetters take pride in their adventurous nature, with more than three-fourths of the survey group (77 percent) saying they consider themselves to be spontaneous. Fifty-four percent of respondents reported having previously booked a spontaneous trip and almost half (46 percent) of those said that it felt more exciting.

Among U.S. survey participants, 68 percent agreed that the pandemic hindered their ability to take off on vacation spontaneously, resulting in the “revenge travel” trend that has largely characterized 2022.

Skyscanner’s Global Travel Expert Laura Lindsay explained, "The impact of the pandemic and ever-evolving travel restrictions has reignited the appetite for spontaneous travel, with three-fourths of U.S. respondents (75 percent) saying that the events of the last two-and-a-half years have made them want to be more spontaneous."

The Benefits of Impromptu Travel

Skyscanner also consulted with esteemed psychologist Emma Kenny to examine the psychology behind this new trend and the benefits of spontaneous travel. She explained, “One common stress is the decision-making involved in the holiday planning process. This is why forgoing the methodical organization that so often goes hand in hand with a planned holiday and instead choosing to enjoy an impromptu break can be so liberating. She added, “Nothing is quite as thrilling as seeing a new place for the first time, and the excitement and instant gratification that comes with that.

“Whilst it may seem scary to just pack a bag and hop on a plane to take a chance on an unknown destination, you will psychologically benefit, as this creates a ‘can do’ attitude and will remind you of the limitless possibilities that are out there. And because you have no clear set agenda, or plans, every step you take will involve a sense of adventure, which is truly freeing."

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

Here are some tips that can help Globe Aware volunteers avoid some common holiday travel concerns and get you to your destination on time, without (too much) stress.


Five Tips To Take the Stress Out of Traveling This Holiday Season

GUEST AUTHOR
OCTOBER 07, 2022
TRAVEL PULSE

‘Tis the season to travel. It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are almost here.

The 2022 holiday travel season is likely to be a busy one. Passengers are gearing up for potential flight delays and cancellations, baggage issues, staff shortages, price hikes, and long security lines.

Here are some tips that can help you avoid some common holiday travel concerns and get you to your destination on time, without (too much) stress.

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Don’t Wait

The price of a plane ticket is already high and increasing by the day. So, if you’re looking for the best deal on a flight for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might want to buy now.

Passenger numbers are up as more Americans look to get away after staying home the past two years because of the pandemic. With demand up, that pushes prices up.

According to Hopper, those traveling this Thanksgiving can expect to pay 43 percent more than last year. And flights for Christmas are already averaging 39 percent higher than in 2021. So, you will likely find the best deals if you book sooner rather than later.

Avoid Busy Travel Days

The day before and after Thanksgiving or Christmas tend to be the busiest for travel. Again, with high demand for these flights, prices may also be higher.

So, if you’re looking to pay less and avoid crowds, possibly travel on Thanksgiving or Christmas. If that doesn’t work for you, consider traveling several days before and after the holiday.

Give Yourself Room to Breathe

Timing matters. As flight delays continue to trouble the airlines, it’s best to book a direct flight. However, direct can be more expensive, so if a layover is necessary, give yourself some breathing room.

Make sure there is enough time between your flights, so if your first flight is delayed, you will still have time to make your connection. This also applies if you’re planning a cruise for the holidays. Be sure to book a flight that lands well before the cruise is set to depart. If possible, fly in the day before.

You can expect crowds at the airport around the holidays, so check-in and security lines may be long. Get to the airport early, so you don’t miss your flight.

Pack Like a Pro

Having your luggage lost or delayed is a real possibility. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports more than one million bags were mishandled by airlines between January and June 2022. That’s up from 629,000 in 2021.

So, if you’re traveling this holiday season you may want to avoid checking your bags, especially if you're traveling with presents. Try and fit everything into a carry-on to ensure your belongings and gifts make it to your destination.

If packing light just isn’t for you, and you need to check a bag, consider throwing in a tracking device. This won’t get your bags back to you any faster, but it can provide some peace of mind knowing exactly where your luggage is located.

Plan for the Worst

Even if you book early, travel on "off-days," give yourself enough time, and pack only a carry-on, there is still plenty that could go wrong while traveling this holiday season. So, while hoping for the best is great and all, be sure to also plan for the worst.

Before heading to the airport, check to make sure your flight is on time. Download that airline’s app or have the customer service number programmed into your phone just in case you need to rebook a flight. It’s also important to read the cancellation and delay policies for your airline to know your rights. Also, consider travel insurance.

Travel insurance, like the Atlas Journey plans from WorldTrips, can address or provide reimbursement for most of the issues you may face while traveling. Including:

  • A trip is canceled or delayed for reasons out of your control
  • Your baggage is delayed, lost, stolen, or damaged
  • You could get sick or hurt and need medical treatment

There is even a coverage option known as Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) that could allow you to cancel a trip for something other than a covered reason – like fear or unwillingness to travel because it’s going to cost too much. CFAR may provide reimbursement (often 50 to 75 percent) for payments made toward a trip if you cancel. However, this is a time-sensitive benefit and there are eligibility requirements.

Bottom Line

The holidays are stressful enough, without adding in the travel factor. While you can’t prevent things like crowds, flight delays, or lost luggage, you can set yourself up for success. Buy your plane ticket early, travel on less popular days, give yourself plenty of time to make a flight, pack only a carry-on, and most importantly, be as prepared as possible if something goes wrong.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse
Wednesday, 12 October 2022 10:42

When is Diwali 2022?

Did our Globe Aware volunteers know that this year Diwali falls on Monday, October 24!? The celebrations for this auspicious Hindu festival last for five days, read on to know all the details!


 

Diwali 2022 Date: When is Diwali?

Know all about the auspicious five days of Deepavali

By Krishna Priya Pallavi
Hindustan Times
Oct 10, 2022

Diwali 2022 Dates: This year, Diwali falls on Monday, October 24. The celebrations for this auspicious Hindu festival last for five days.

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The most significant and holy festival of Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is almost here. Hindus celebrate this auspicious festival to observe the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair. Diwali also marks the death of many demons like Narkasur by Lord Krishna, the arrival of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after killing Ravana, and Lord Vamana defeating Bali. People pray to Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali by performing the auspicious Lakshmi Puja at their homes and offices and ask the goddess to bless them with prosperity, happiness, peace and wealth. In most places in the country, Diwali is celebrated for five days. The festive period begins with Dhanteras and ends on Bhaiya Dooj. However, according to Drik Panchang, in Maharashtra, Diwali begins one day earlier on Govatsa Dwadashi.

When is Diwali?

This year, Diwali or Deepavali will be celebrated on Monday, October 24. According to Drik Panchang, Lakshmi Puja muhurat will begin at 06:53 pm and end at 08:16 pm. Additionally, the Pradosh Kaal will last from 05:43 pm to 08:16 pm, and Amavasya will last from 05:27 pm on October 24 to 04:18 pm on October 25.

The five auspicious days of Deepavali

Govatsa Dwadashi (October 21)

In Maharashtra, Diwali celebrations begin with Govatsa Dwadashi and are marked a day before Dhanteras. This year, it falls on Friday, October 21. On this day, Hindus worship cows and calves and offer them wheat products. The day is also known as Nandini Vrat.

Dhanteras (October 22)

Dhanteras Puja will be marked on Saturday, October 22. Also known as Dhantrayodashi, Dhanteras marks the beginning of Diwali festivities. Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Kubera, who is the God of wealth, are worshipped on this auspicious day.

Kali Chaudas (October 23)

Kali Chaudas will be marked on Sunday, October 23. It is also known as Bhut Chaturdashi and is mainly observed in Gujarat during Chaturdashi Tithi.

Chhoti Diwali and Badi Diwali (October 24)

This year, Chhoti and Badi Diwali fall on October 24. On this day, people will celebrate the festival by worshipping Goddess Lakshmi, lighting their homes with diyas to mark the victory of light over darkness, wearing new clothes, and distributing sweets, dry fruits and gifts among their loved ones and the needy.

Govardhan Puja (October 25)

Diwali festivities end with Govardhan Puja, also known as Annakut Puja, which falls on October 25 this year. On this day, Lord Krishna defeated God Indra. The celebrations begin during the Pratipada Tithi of Kartik month.

Additional Info

  • Source Hindustan Times
Friday, 07 October 2022 10:09

The Spooky History of Halloween

Globe Aware volunteers who are big fans of the Halloween season, how well do you know the history behind this spooky holiday!? Here's what you should know and why we celebrate!


History of Halloween: Spooky season is here! But how well do you know the holiday?

By Anna Kaufman
USA TODAY
Oct. 1, 2022

Whether you're going for a spooky, sexy, or sophisticated look, Halloween is right around the corner so it's best to start brainstorming costume ideas now. The holiday, celebrated by many with pumpkin carving and sugar overload, falls on the same date each year: October 31.

It's an opportunity for children and adults alike to become someone else, disguise themselves with wigs and makeup, and participate in the rites of Fall's first holiday.

If you're already making plans for this year, here's what you need to know about Halloween 2022, and why we celebrate it.

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When is Halloween 2022?

Halloween will be Monday, October 31, 2022.

That means "Halloweekend" the popular term coined for the Saturday and Sunday closest to the Holiday in which costume, candy, and grog enthusiasts alike can celebrate outside of work will be the October 29th and 30th.

What is Halloween and why do we celebrate it?

The History Channel reports that Halloween as a holiday originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts believed October 31 was a day where the lines between the world of the living and the world of the dead might be blurred and ghosts would return to earth. To ward the unholy spirits of, Celts founded the festival of Samhain which involved the lighting of bonfires and dressing up in costumes.

Later, in the 8th Century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as All Saints Day, meant to be a celebration of all earthly deities. The day preceding it was dubbed 'All Hallows Eve." Over time, the Celtic traditions and those of All Hallows Eve blended together, eventually evolving into Halloween in its modern iteration.

The uniquely American celebration of Halloween came about in part as different groups of Europeans immigrated to the U.S., particularly the Irish, and their traditions blended with those of American Indians. In the 19th Century, new traditions involving ghost stories, harvest festivals and even trick-or-treating were beginning to gain popularity.

By the 1920s and '30s The History Channel reports that the Holiday was in many ways scrubbed of it's hyper-religious past and had evolved into a more secular, community-based celebration.

Today, Halloween is somewhat removed from religion, though it remains a violation of certain religious doctrines. It has evolved into a commercial boon for candy and costume sellers alike, and an occasion for Americans to celebrate into the night.

Additional Info

  • Source USAToday

Hurricane Ian continues to disrupt travel for many travelers including Globe Aware volunteers. Here's what to know when planning travel to Florida.


Is it safe to travel to Florida now? What travelers need to know about Hurricane Ian's travel impacts

Sean Cudahy
Sept. 30, 2022
The Points Guy

Hurricane Ian continues to disrupt travel as it churns across the Southeast, where it is expected to make a second landfall today in the Carolinas as a Category 1 storm.

The National Weather Service is warning of life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions by Friday afternoon from Georgia to North Carolina. Meanwhile, Florida is beginning the cleanup process two days after Ian plowed into the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm. Popular vacation areas like Fort Myers, Naples and Sanibel Island were hard hit, while heavy rain plagued many parts of the state, including Central Florida and parts of Florida's eastern coast.

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So what does all of this mean for travel to and through the area? Here's what we know:

Which Florida airports are operating as normal?

Airline service to Florida began to pick up Friday as several of the state’s airports along the storm's path resumed or announced plans to resume operations after closing for Hurricane Ian.

Tampa International Airport (TPA) resumed operations on Friday at 10 a.m.

At Orlando International Airport (MCO), the state’s busiest airport in 2021, operations were resuming at noon. However, many of the day's flights are still showing as canceled as delayed — so double-check your flight's status if you are planning to fly in or out in the coming days.

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) reopened to both air carriers and general aviation traffic on Thursday evening, though both American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have canceled all of Friday’s flights. Southwest Airlines plans to operate some flights later Friday. An American Airlines spokesperson told TPG on Thursday that the carrier does not expect to resume operations there until Sunday.

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers is, as of now, formally closed until Wednesday, though that date could be pushed forward — or the closure could be extended. United Airlines on Thursday announced a waiver for its flights to and from RSW until Oct. 11.

Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) is formally closed until Monday, though that is also subject to change.

About 2,000 flights that were scheduled to depart Florida’s airports were canceled between Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, according to FlightAware data.

Meanwhile, as Ian bolts toward the Southeastern U.S., airports in that region are beginning to announce their own closures.

For example, Charleston International Airport (CHS) formally closed on Friday morning as Ian’s winds exceeded 35 knots at the airport — the threshold for a closure. Boeing, which assembles its 787 at the North Charleston, South Carolina, airport, announced in a tweet on Thursday afternoon that it will suspend operations until Sunday.

Current status of cruise line operations

Three home ports for cruise ships in the state — Port Tampa Bay, Jacksonville’s JAXPort and Port Canaveral — remain closed to marine traffic in the wake of Ian.

The closures have forced five cruise lines to cancel voyages out of the three ports that had been scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

At the same time, two of Florida’s three largest ports — PortMiami and Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades — are back open with cruise departures scheduled to take place as normal over the next few days.

The three ports that are closed were the closest to the track that Ian took as it barreled into Florida and crossed the state on Wednesday and Thursday. The U.S. Coast Guard and port workers at the three ports will do damage assessments over the next day or two to determine when they may be safe to reopen.

Orlando theme parks begin to reopen

All Orlando- and Tampa-area theme parks closed temporarily in preparation for Hurricane Ian. Now that Central Florida is on the other side of the storm and moving into the damage assessment and cleanup phase, local theme parks are reopening.

That said, many parks suffered damage, debris, flooding and high water levels. Even as area theme parks do reopen, select attractions and experiences may be unavailable.

Additionally, the parks may not be fully staffed in the coming days, since some staffers live in areas that saw extensive flooding and damage, affecting their ability to come to work.

Here is a current reopening timeline for Central Florida theme parks:

  • Disney World began a phased reopening on Friday. All four theme parks and Disney Springs will reopen Friday on a modified schedule, though Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park will not reopen until Sunday. Some resorts and lodging types, such as Fort Wilderness, remain closed.
  • Universal Orlando will reopen to hotel guests only on Friday. Further updates will be provided via its website and social media.
  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay plans to reopen Saturday.
  • SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove plan to reopen Saturday.
  • Peppa Pig Theme Park Florida plans to reopen Saturday.
  • Legoland Florida plans to reopen Saturday.

If you currently have tickets affected by the closures, some parks are giving refunds while others are automatically extending expiration dates. Check with the park you had plans to attend for details.

Is it safe to travel to Florida?

If you have an upcoming trip scheduled to Florida, you'll want to stay abreast of the developments in your specific area, as the fallout from the damage from Hurricane Ian largely depends on the area you are planning on visiting.

The most severely affected areas — including Naples, Fort Myers and the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, are unlikely to resume normal tourist operations for an extended period of time. Representatives of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and Lee County governments in the area said Thursday that they were focused in the near term on things like recovery efforts and assessing damage to infrastructure like bridges.

Officials from Cape Coral, which is just southeast of Naples, were also urging people to stay off the roads on Thursday.

In Sarasota, which sits between Tampa and Fort Myers Beach, damage assessments were also underway.

"We are in close communication with government officials to understand when it will be completely safe to welcome visitors again to our destination. Efforts are currently underway to ensure roadways are clear and all critical assessments are made," a spokesperson for Visit Sarasota said. "It is our number one priority to continue to provide the enjoyable experiences we are known for, in the safest environment possible."

For travelers who had planned on visiting Disney World, Universal Orlando and other Central Florida locations that have begun a phased reopening, Orlando Police officers said Thursday that they continued to asses flooding in the area.

"The City of Orlando experienced historic flooding throughout the city due to the amount of rain. Many areas of the city experienced water in excess of 14 inches," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the City of Orlando said in a joint media release on Sept. 29. "This water must recede naturally reiterating the shelter in place precautions as these bodies of water can be electrically charged and/or contain debris."

Visit Orlando, the city's official tourism organization, is urging travelers with plans to visit Orlando to reach out to the organization's Vacation Planners for more information, which can be reached via phone, email or live chat here.

Just about the only city affected that has issued a clear statement indicating it is safe for travelers to resume travel thus far is Tampa.

"Tampa was extraordinarily lucky, and Mayor Jane Castor and other leaders are busy mobilizing resources to help our neighbors south of us," said a spokesperson for the City of Tampa. "Tampa is absolutely safe for tourists."

There, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Kansas City Chiefs for a home game as scheduled on Sunday night.

Here are some resources for the most up-to-date information on these locations:

Bottom line

In the hardest hit areas, including Naples, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel, expect reopening efforts to take some time as those communities grapple with immense damage.

However, in Orlando, the main theme parks tourist attractions -- and the infrastructure that supports them -- will be mostly back up and running in the coming days, with a phased opening already underway.

As we look into the weekend, expect the storm's immediate impacts to shift to the Carolinas and potentially beyond.

While the airlines, theme parks, and more have activated more flexible change and cancellation rules, remember that if you booked an trip with a credit card that provides for some built-in trip insurance, look at the terms of those benefits to learn what expenses you may be able to recoup in the event of any non-refundable expenses you may have incurred.

Although this goes without saying, you should not travel to any hurricane-impacted part of a state where local officials are urging residents to stay off the roads. Check back with TPG regularly for the latest information on what is open and what remains closed.

Additional reporting by Clint Henderson, Caroline Tanner, Tarah Chieffi, Gene Sloan, Ethan Klapper and Summer Hull.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy
Thursday, 29 September 2022 12:43

Save Time Re-entering The U.S. With This Free App

Last week, we mentioned the TSA-Precheck, but did our Globe Aware volunteers know about this app!? The Mobile Passport Control App may be just what you need to clear the airport lines at your volunteer vacation destination.


Save Time Re-entering The U.S. With This Free App

By TYLER FOX
Travel Off Path
July 18, 2022

Have you ever come back from an international trip and noticed signs displaying “Mobile Passport” as you make your way through U.S. Customs? If so, you’ve probably noticed that the line was much shorter than the one you were in. What you may not know is that it is completely free and easy to hop in the shorter line using a U.S. Customs and Border Protection phone app called Mobile Passport Control (MPC). The app is available on iOS and Android, is free of charge, and requires no application or membership fees. This sets it apart from Global Entry, which requires a $100 application fee, with membership only lasting five years.

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Who Can Use It and Where?

Using Mobile Passport Control is a great way to speed up your processing time through customs when returning to the United States from an international trip. The app can be used by U.S. citizens and Canadian citizen visitors who have a B1/B2 visa. Currently, 31 U.S. international airports offer the service, as well as four seaports. Some popular airports that offer the service include:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

How Does It Work?

You’d think that everyone would be using the app to be able to get through Customs faster. However, many people either don’t know about the app or don’t know how to use the service. It is easy to use once you begin. The steps, in order, are below:

  1. Download the app on either an iOS or Android device.
  2. Using Wi-Fi or data, enter your passport number and personal information, including your arrival airport and terminal.
  3. Take a selfie.
  4. Answer trip and declaration questions and submit. This replaces the paper forms often handed out on planes before landing.
  5. After submitting, you will receive a QR code on your device.
  6. Go to the MPC processing lane and breeze through Customs by showing your QR code and passport to a Border Patrol Officer who will finalize your entry into the U.S.

It’s That Easy

That’s really all there is to it. Using Mobile Passport is simple, easy, and free. Most importantly, however, it can save you loads of time coming back into the United States. Amid staffing shortages and the airport chaos that has emerged this summer, any amount of time savings is worth investigating, especially if it is free.

What Do Users Think?

As with every app, program, or service, user reviews are mixed. For this particular service, reviews don’t vary much and are generally all or nothing. If the app and the process go smoothly, users rate it five stars, citing the time saved and ease of use. In contrast, a one-star review followed when users had trouble with the app or the processing lane.

The biggest complaint about the app is actually not about the app itself but rather the airport’s processing lanes and use (or lack of use) of the system. According to one user, they were able to use the app to gain their QR code prior to arrival at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). However, when they got to Customs, they were told that Mobile Passport was no longer accepted.

In contrast, another review says it only took 3 minutes to get through Customs and Border Patrol at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) after taking advantage of the dedicated MPC lane, though it also states that it did not work at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) as the airline was not utilizing the system. Both airlines are listed on the Mobile Passport Control’s listed of locations offering the service, leaving travelers wondering why there is inconsistency.

The Verdict?

In either case, it seems worth the effort to at least try and use the app. As one user pointed out, it only took five minutes to download the app, input all information, and submit it. Even if travelers are told they will have to wait in the longer line due to it “no longer being accepted,” five minutes on the tarmac is a worthy gamble for a considerably shorter line and processing time.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path
Tuesday, 27 September 2022 08:34

Seven scenic drives in the United States

Excited about your next Globe Aware volunteer vacation, but can't wait to travel! Here are seven fantastic scenic drives scattered around the continental United States where our volunteers can enjoy fall weather, autumn color and more.


Seven scenic drives across the United States for your fall foliage fix

Forrest Brown
CNN
September 25, 2022

The United States is a car-obsessed nation, and a road trip feels like a natural right to many.

With gas prices slipping from their dizzying early summer heights and other folks wary of taking their chances with the air travel system, the fall road trip possibilities look pretty darn good this year.

In no particular order, here are seven fantastic scenic drives scattered around the continental United States where you can enjoy autumn color and more. Some are well-known; others are a bit under the radar.

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Blue Ridge Parkway: Virginia and North Carolina

This sumptuous, curving road threads its way through the Blue Ridge Mountains. It starts in Virginia and continues southwest into North Carolina, and the total length is 469 miles (755 kilometers).

A few good aspects about the parkway:

  • It's free to use and open 24 hours a day unless portions are closed by things such as weather or landslides.
  • It's free of all commercial clutter -- no billboards and businesses in sight. Just cars, the road and nature.
  • You don't have to tackle the whole thing unless you want a really big trip; just carve out a portion and drive that.

In Virginia, the automotive and travel club AAA suggests that you pull off and enjoy Mabry Mill at milepost 176, where Ed Mabry and his wife, Lizzy, ground corn and sawed lumber for three decades. Also check out the Blue Ridge Music Center at milepost 213.

In North Carolina, see what life was like for the Cherokee at Oconaluftee Indian Village at milepost 469.1 or explore the tallest peak east of the Mississippi at Mount Mitchell State Park.

Peak to Peak Scenic Byway: Colorado

For eye-poppin' and ear-poppin' scenery, it's hard to go wrong in the high altitudes of the Centennial State. It has 26 scenic byways, and half of those have national designation.

Still, you can only take one at a time. Why not start with Peak to Peak Scenic Byway? Its 55 miles (89 kilometers) of roadway showcases memorable views of the Continental Divide, and it's all less than an hour from urban hubs Denver or Boulder.

And you might end up spending more time out of your vehicle than in it at a string of natural sites along the way:

  • Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests: See an enticing mix of woodlands and grasslands.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park: Take in meadows, lakes and more on 300 miles of hiking trails -- and maybe spot a moose or bear at a distance.
  • Golden Gate Canyon State Park: State parks can often make a good alternative when national parks are too crowded.

Covered Bridges Scenic Byway: Iowa

America's heartland is sometimes overlooked, but it has its fair share of lovely drives, too.

Jessica O'Riley, tourism communications manager for the Iowa Tourism Office, suggested the Covered Bridges Scenic Byway.

Made famous by the 1992 novel "The Bridges of Madison County" and subsequent 1995 movie, its roughly 82 miles (132 kilometers) focuses not only on covered bridges but scenic natural areas and historical and cultural sites, too, O'Riley said.

Want to get out of the car and stretch your legs? In Winterset, there's a birthplace and museum dedicated to Marion Robert Morrison -- that's actor John Wayne to you and me, pilgrim.

The annual Covered Bridges Festival is scheduled for October 8-9.

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Oregon

In central Oregon, the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway "offers a one-of-a-kind view with dazzling red vine maple juxtaposed against black lava," according to Allison Keeney, manager of global communications at Travel Oregon.

Its 66 miles (106 kilometers) run past several lakes in the central Cascade Mountains.

"This route is known not only for the scenery it provides, but also by the sheer number of adventures found along the way," Kenney said.

"Those who want to get up close and personal with the trees as their leaves turn from green to yellow and orange should get out of the car and enjoy views at Sparks Lake or hiking opportunities in the Three Sisters Wilderness."

She said colors are most vivid there around mid-October, but they might peak earlier this year because of the hot, dry summer.

Natchez Trace Parkway: Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee

Covering 444 miles (715 kilometers) and three states, the Natchez Trace Parkway roughly follows the "Old Natchez Trace" an historic travel corridor used by Native Americans and later European settlers.

Take the entire parkway and enjoy two very different cities at the start and end points. Little Natchez, Mississippi, is known for its historical homes overlooking the Mississippi River. Big-city Nashville has exploded from a country music haven to all-around entertainment destination.

In between: A perfectly lovely drive that transitions from Deep South coastal plain to much hillier terrain. Peak color comes earliest up in Tennessee (usually late October to early November). But the southernmost parts of the Trace in Mississippi can peak late into November.

Love to ride bicycles? The parkway is popular with bicyclists in autumn. Click here for advice before you pedal.

Hocking Hills Scenic Byway: Ohio

Hey, oh, way to go Ohio for your 25 miles (40 kilometers) of lovely roadway southeast of Columbus.

The Hocking Hills Scenic Byway is another AAA-endorsed route for people who want to see fall foliage and take a nice relaxing afternoon drive.

Hocking Hills State Park practically demands you park the car and explore its waterfalls, cliffs and gorges.

There are seven major hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult. Whispering Cave Trail features the "swinging" Hemlock Bridge and the second-largest cave in the region with a 105-foot seasonal waterfall.

About 30 miles (48 kilometers) away is the small city of Athens, which holds a farmers market and arts market every Saturday and plenty of special events this fall.

Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway: Maine

If the roads around Acadia National Park in coastal Maine are too crowded for you, consider Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway.

AAA gives this roughly 50-mile (80-kilometer) route in interior western Maine -- close to the borders of New Hampshire and Canada -- a hearty endorsement.

The Height of Land on Route 17 "is the route's showstopper," according to Explore Maine, "with stunning views" of lakes and mountains. The site also touts the excellent fall foliage viewing on the byway. Generally, peak color comes around October 6 to 13 in this part of Maine.

AAA also likes the nearby Saddleback ski resort, where you can enjoy activities such as mountain biking before ski season kicks in.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 21 September 2022 09:25

10 Reasons To Visit Ghana

They say that Ghana is near the center of the world, enough reason for those bitten by the travel bug to visit this African nation. Find out the reasons why Globe Aware volunteers are pulled towards this volunteer vacation.


 

Ghana Have A Good Time: 10 Reasons To Visit This African Country

Ghana is one African nation tourists shouldn't miss

BRYAN REYES
SEPTEMBER 18, 2022
The Travel

They say that Ghana is near the “center” of the world, enough reason for those bitten by the travel bug to visit this African nation. This country is bordered by the Gulf of Guinea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the less-traveled Togo, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast, one of the most beginner-friendly African destinations.

Thanks to the coast, this West African nation has a warm climate that attracts sun-worshippers. Beyond the shores, it has grasslands, shrublands, forests, savannahs, and mangroves where wildlife thrives. Its bustling urban centers are places of awe, too.

Tourists who plan to swim, stroll the city, or be within lush forests will have a good time in Ghana.

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10 The Capital Accra Is Awesome

Accra is Ghana’s capital, and once tourists land in this bustling city, they would understand why it’s the heart of this nation.

Not only is the city thriving, but it has stunning sightseeing spots that reflect Ghanaian history and culture. For starters, it has an expansive independence square highlighted by an arch.

Kwame Nkrumah Park and Mausoleum, meanwhile, is a place of statues, fountains, peacocks, and items related to the country’s first president.

The National Museum is perfect for history buffs, while the Legon Botanical Gardens await thrill-seekers. Accra is an accredited place of fun, indeed.

9 Ghana Is Home To Majestic Waterfalls

Those who want a quick dip after enjoying the hustle and bustle of Accra can visit a stunning waterfall. Wli is a must-see because it is the tallest waterfall in West Africa.

While tourists hike to the falls, they might spot fruit bats, baboons, monkeys, and birds, guiding them to their destination.

Another majestic cascade is Kintampo, a favorite picnic spot, thanks to the shades of towering trees. Tagbo Falls, meanwhile, might interest hikers since it's within a rainforest. The falls of Ghana are grand.

8 Find Stunning Atlantic Beaches

Ghana has over 340 miles of Atlantic coastline, something to excite beachgoers.

Its busiest beach is Labadi, made popular by its wide shore and location near Accra. Bojo Beach is also near the capital, so families frequent this sandy destination.

Those who love partying by the shore should feel the vibe of Kokrobite, while cultural immersion is a thing in Butre Beach.

If sun-worshippers are staying away from the crowd, they should place their picnic mats on the beaches of Cape Three Points and Cocoloco.

Lastly, surfers will enjoy hanging ten on Busua Beach. The warm weather and the fine water make Ghana a place of sun-kissed memories.

7 Ghana's Tallest Peak Is Welcoming

Hikers who want to conquer Ghana’s highest peak, Mount Afadja, should prepare for a day of fun courtesy of Mother Nature.

This 2,904-foot charmer in the Agumatsa Range is a place of relaxation, thanks to the greenery. It will take 2.5 hours to reach the summit, and hikers can also visit the falls of Wli and Tagbo, inviting caves, relaxing streams, and a monkey sanctuary.

The tropical rainforest knows how to hide its wonders, so lucky are those who can conquer its trails.

6 The Country Has Castles And Forts

Ghana has a long colonial history, so it’s not surprising that it is dotted with forts and castles made by traders from Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

It’s like there are pockets of Europe in this African nation. Its most famous castles are Cape Coast, St. George's d’Elmina, and Christiansborg, all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Many of its forts are also inscribed in the said list, like Good Hope, Patience, and Metal Cross, among others.

Visiting Ghanaian castles and forts — ruined or well-preserved — is a worthwhile trip.

5 An Ancient Impact Crater Is A Ghanaian Attraction

There’s only one natural lake in Ghana: Lake Bosumtwi, a meteorite impact crater. This lake is considered by UNESCO a biosphere reserve, praising it for its diversity.

Thanks to the area's lushness, the nearby community is sustained through fishing, farming, and tourism.

The lake is a popular recreational spot where families and groups of friends can have a picnic, swim, enjoy a boat ride, spot some wildlife, and hike the hills, villages, and sacred sites.

Bosumtwi is Ghana’s lone lake, but it is never lonely.

4 Ghana Has One Of The World’s Largest Man-Made Reservoirs

What is now Lake Volta was formed in the mid-1960s when the Akosombo Dam flooded the area. Said lake is now one of the largest artificial reservoirs in the world.

This waterway has a busy fishing and timber industry, and tourism is yet to boom. Boat trips are top recreational pursuits, the perfect activity to take in the sights and sounds of the lake, the dam, and the villages near it.

Boating is usually patronized by domestic tourists, and foreign travelers who want to try it will have a fine time.

3 The National Parks In Ghana Are Diverse

Nature lovers will have a wonderful time exploring Ghana’s nature reserves. They can start in Mole National Park, the largest and home to elephants, hippopotamuses, warthogs, and buffalo.

The coastal Kakum National Park is a birdwatcher's paradise, while Ankasa Conservation Area is the perfect place to unwind, thanks to its teeming tropical rainforest.

Not to be outdone is Digya National Park, the oldest and hosts elephants, primates, antelopes, and otters and manatees on its lake. Being one with Mother Nature has never been this good.

2 There Are Well-Preserved Traditional Buildings

Asante Traditional Buildings In Ghana Architecture from the Asante Empire Late 1600's AD - 1900 AD pic.twitter.com/tR8AGXszn2 — African World History (@AfricanWorldH) July 20, 2022

Aside from castles and forts, another Ghanaian World Heritage Site is a complex of well-preserved structures known as Asante Traditional Buildings.

These 10 structures made of wood, straw, and clay stood the test of time. They date back to the period of the Ashanti Empire, a reminder of its rich history and culture.

UNESCO praised the traditional architecture employed in the structures, something that should be protected for future generations. Taking a step back in time has never been this easy.

1 The Markets Are Thriving

When tourists want to feel the vibe of the community and be in the presence of an authentic Ghana, they should head to its bustling open markets.

In Accra, they can visit the markets of Kantamanto and Makola where clothes, shoes, and good food abound. In Kumasi, Kejetia Market is a must-see, especially since it’s considered the largest of its kind in West Africa.

Meanwhile, in the city of Cape Coast, near the famous castle, tourists can look for souvenirs in Kotokoraba Market.

Business is thriving in Ghana, and tourists should not miss scoring an item.

 

Additional Info

  • Source The Travel
Monday, 19 September 2022 10:06

Hurricane Fiona pummels Puerto Rico

Hurricane Fiona made landfall in southwestern Puerto Rico last Sunday afternoon, and the entire island is reeling from the knockout of its electricity grid. Globe Aware will continue to monitor the situation in order to understand we and our volunteers can help.


 

Puerto Rico is without electricity as Hurricane Fiona pummels the island

September 19, 2022
Juliana Kim
NPR

Hurricane Fiona made landfall in southwestern Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon, as the entire island continues to reel from the knockout of its electricity grid.

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said the damage on the island is "catastrophic in many areas," calling it a "very delicate and sad situation." Heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding was continuing across the island Sunday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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The Category 1 hurricane was predicted to produce dangerous landslides and heavy flooding on an already storm-battered island.

As of Sunday evening, the storm was centered 45 miles west of Mayagüez, a community on Puerto Rico's western coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. It had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and was moving northwest at 9 mph. It is now making its way toward the Dominican Republic.

Rain is expected to last all night on Puerto Rico, triggering at least 12 to 18 inches of rainfall across Puerto Rico and up to 30 inches in the island's eastern and southern regions.

More than 1,400,000 customers — more than 3 million people — lost electricity due to a transmission grid failure from the current hurricane, according to utility companies' reports tracked by PowerOutage.US. The website says some power circuits are being restored but is unable to say if any customers have regained power.

Luma Energy, the island's private electric utility, says full restoration of power service on Puerto Rico "could take several days."

In a news conference on Sunday late afternoon, Pierluisi said power crews have begun the effort to restore electricity, adding that it will be a "gradual process" to get the lights back on to critical areas including hospitals, which are currently on generators, and highly populated urban centers.

Dozens of roads have been closed because of landslides, fallen trees or being washed out. Several bridges have also been washed away as a result of the storm and 125 shelters have been opened to house those in need.

The Luis Muñoz Marín international airport in San Juan remains open — but all flights were canceled on Sunday and, as of now, there's no determination whether passenger service will resume on Monday.

Puerto Rico's fragile power grid makes matters worse

It was not long ago when the island's power grid was devastated by Hurricane Maria — a category 4 storm that caused about 3,000 deaths in 2017. More than 80% of the transmission and distribution system was ruined and the restoration process has been slow.

As a result, blackouts have been an ongoing issue on the island.

Leomar Rodríguez González, from Utuado, a town in central Puerto Rico, told NPR he and his family have been anxious as the scenes of heavy flooding and landslides remind them of Hurricane Maria.

"I'm worried about a lot of things but in the moment, flooding is worrying me," he said.

Rodríguez González said Maria devastated his family's home and businesses. It's why they have been preparing for the storm for several days: they stocked up on canned foods, bought extra batteries and trimmed trees near electric poles.

Fernando Vera, who is also from Utuado, told NPR his family has never fully recovered from Hurricane Maria. His home still needs some repair and experiences some outages. "We still struggle from the consequences of Maria and it's kind of difficult knowing we're going to probably have to start over again," he said.

Every year since Maria, the Puerto Rican government has been promising it would be much better prepared for the next storm. This is considered the first real test of that promise.

The government's response plan now included making sure that backup generators are working at hospitals and stocking warehouses with food and cots and other essential supplies. But efforts to ensure that the power grid would be better prepared to handle the storm fell short.

Gov. Pierluisi said the restoration of power will not be like what happened after Hurricane Maria in 2017 and that it will be a "matter of days," not months, to get the grid at least partially up and running. But he could give no estimate when power might be fully restored.

President Biden approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico on Sunday, which authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

The storm is moving toward the Dominican Republic

As of 2:00 a.m. Monday, Fiona was about 20 miles from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, with wind speeds of 85 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Both the northern and southern coasts of the country are under both hurricane and tropical advisories, along with Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas.

The flash flooding will likely be "life threatening and catastrophic" across the eastern Dominican Republic, according to officials monitoring the storm, with rainfall totals expected to reach 4 to 8 inches in northern and eastern Dominican Republic, and up to 12 inches along the northeastern coast.

The combination of a storm surge and the tide could produce rising waters up to three feet in the southern coast of the island.

Earlier, Fiona wreaked havoc on the eastern Caribbean, damaging roads, destroying properties and killing person in the French territory of Guadeloupe, Sylvie Gustave Dit Duflo, an official for the region, wrote on Twitter.

The storm is forecasted to be potentially devastating for parts of the Dominican Republic, northern Haiti and the southern end of the Bahamas in the coming days, and is expected to make landfall in the east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, leaving 3 to 6 inches of rain.

Additional Info

  • Source NPR
Thursday, 15 September 2022 12:56

TSA PreCheck : is it worth it?

Coming off a summer of flight delays, lost luggage, cancellations and long lines at airports, Globe Aware volunteers are looking for ways to ease the process. TSA PreCheck may not guarantee an on-time flight, but it can save travelers some time.


 

Airport lines too long? Here's what you get with TSA PreCheck and how much it costs

Josh Rivera
USA TODAY
Sept 10 2022

When looking to fly, travel time is not just the duration of the flight. There is the commute to the airport, check-in lines, bag drop-off lines, customs (if traveling internationally) and the always popular Transportation Security Administration line.

The lines add up, and travelers' schedules get tighter.

Coming off a summer of flight delays, cancellations, lost bags and long lines at airports, travelers are looking for ways to ease the process. TSA PreCheck may not guarantee an on-time flight, but it can save travelers some time.

Here's what travelers need to know about the TSA PreCheck program.

TSA PreCheck

What is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is a program that provides travelers an expedited security screening at U.S. airports.

Once in the program, travelers provide their fingerprints, pay a nonrefundable fee and submit to a background check. They then receive a Known Traveler Number. TSA PreCheck does not include an ID card.

Is TSA PreCheck worth it?

It depends on what travelers value. Flyers definitely do not need it to travel, but those who visit an airport more than a couple of times a year may find it useful.

A TSA spokesperson told USA TODAY that 95% of passengers with PreCheck waited less than five minutes in August.

One of the biggest attractions, however, is the ease the program provides. Travelers with PreCheck do not need to remove their shoes, belts, light jackets or laptops from their bags when going through the security line.

Children ages 12 and under can join their guardian in dedicated PreCheck lanes.

How much does TSA PreCheck cost?

The initial application includes a nonrefundable fee of $85. Online renewals require a nonrefundable fee of $70.

There's a list of credit cards and loyalty programs that cover the application fee as a member benefit, or allow travelers to use rewards points to pay for it.

How do I apply to get TSA PreCheck?

Travelers can visit tsa.gov/precheck to learn more about the program, and can get started by clicking on this link.

If a traveler fills out the form online, they can make an appointment at an enrollment center to finish the process by providing documentation, fingerprints and payment. Some centers accept walk-ins – but travelers need to make sure they have all the required documents with them.

What happens in the 'interview' for TSA PreCheck?

Not much.

Once a traveler registers with the required identification documents, an agent will call them in for the "interview," where they'll be asked to register all their fingerprints. The applicant will also be asked to confirm their address, take a quick photo and pay the application fee.

How long does the TSA PreCheck application take?

If approved, most applicants receive their KTN about three to five days after their enrollment center appointments, TSA says. Some applications can take up to 60 days.

When does my TSA PreCheck expire?

TSA PreCheck membership expires after five years.

Travelers will receive notifications to renew about six months before their expiration date.

 

Additional Info

  • Source USAToday

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the UK is set to enter a period of mourning that will last between 10 and 12 days. Public gatherings, business closures, event cancellations and transport disruptions are likely during this time. If you're a Globe Aware volunteer traveling through the UK in the coming days, here's what you need to know.


Death of Queen Elizabeth: how the mourning period will impact travelers in the UK

Lonely Planet
Sep 12, 2022

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II last Thursday, the UK is in a 10-day period of mourning. Public gatherings, business closures, event cancellations, and transport disruptions are likely during this time, culminating with a National Day of mourning next Monday, September 19 to coincide with the state funeral. If you are traveling to the UK in the coming days, here's what you need to know.

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Are museums, restaurants, and shops open?

Even though the UK is in a period of national mourning, it will be business as usual for most places with a statement from the government confirming that "there is no obligation on organizations to suspend business". That said, you may still find that some will close or operate at shorter hours during this time, particularly on September 19 - the day the state funeral will take place.

It's a good idea to check ahead to make sure that opening times haven't changed, especially when visiting a museum or cultural establishment. The Royal Collection Trust, which manages royal estates and attractions, has closed all six of its sites for the duration of the mourning period. Westminster Abbey is also closed to tourists until September 21.

Will events be canceled?

Yes. If you are traveling to the UK for a particular event that's not connected to the queen's passing, your plans will probably go awry. All major sporting events were canceled last weekend including football (soccer), golf, cricket, racing, and rugby fixtures. Games will be impacted on the weekend of September 17 and 18 too.

London's Hackney Carnival, a major celebration of Caribbean culture in the UK, was called off on September 11 and a number of film festivals, Pride events, and other big occasions have either been scaled back or canceled outright.

Again, it's a good idea to confirm that plans haven't changed before going anywhere as it's likely schedules will continue to change over the coming days.

Get local insight on destinations all over the world with our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox.

Will trains run? Can I expect transport disruptions?

You'll likely encounter transport disruptions across the UK but particularly in London and Edinburgh where much of the official ceremonial arrangements are taking place. In London, access to some areas in the city center will be restricted with road closures and diversions as people travel to Buckingham Palace to commemorate the queen. "We expect large crowds, which can pose risks to public safety," the government said in an earlier statement.

Planned industrial action across rail networks has been canceled for September but expect train and bus schedules to be impacted throughout the mourning period. Planning journeys in advance "will be essential," according to a joint statement from Network Rail and Transport for London. London, they said, will be "exceptionally busy" and Tube stations could temporarily close to avoid overcrowding.

"As Her Majesty’s coffin travels to London to lie in state at the Palace of Westminster, it is expected that we will see unprecedented travel demand in the capital, especially from Wednesday, September 14," the statement from the rail companies reads. "Transport providers have well-developed plans with extra staff and services coming on-stream to help people get to where they need to be."

London Underground passengers are asked to avoid Green Park station, the nearest one to Buckingham Palace due to "high numbers of customers passing through and try other nearby options including Victoria, Piccadilly Circus, and St James’ Park.

Airports and flight schedules shouldn't be impacted, but trains and busses to London's airports may suffer delays and overcrowding.

How can I take part in commemorations?

The state funeral is taking place at Westminster Abbey in London on the 10th day of mourning, that is Monday, September 19. But beforehand, people have an opportunity to commemorate the queen at various events and gatherings across the UK.

Edinburgh

Following her death at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the queen’s coffin made a five-hour journey from Balmoral Castle to Edinburgh this weekend, where it stayed overnight in the Throne Room at the Palace of the Holyroodhouse, her official residence in the city.

Today, Monday, it will be taken in the afternoon in a procession to St Giles’ Cathedral, with King Charles III expected to lead the royal family in from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to nearby St Giles’ Cathedral for a service of thanksgiving. Thousands are once again expected again to line the city's Royal Mile as they did on Sonday. Members of the public are permitted access to the cathedral to pay tribute from 5pm on Monday until 3pm on Tuesday. A queuing system is in place with wristbands allocated and security checks and mobile phone use restricted.

London - How to attend the queen's lying in state at Westminster Hall

On Tuesday evening the queen's coffin is set to be flown to London, where it will be taken first to her former home at Buckingham Palace. It is expected that the coffin will be taken in a procession on a gun carriage on Wednesday from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, the oldest building at the Houses of Parliament, where it will lie in state for five days, until the nation holds a minute's silence on Sunday, September 18 at 8pm.

All roads in central London are expected to close to traffic for the public to stand along the route. The Hall will be open to the public for 24 hours each day, with over three-quarters of a million visitors expected to file past the coffin which will be closed and placed on top of a raised platform known as a catafalque.

The British government issued guidance for anyone planning to go to parliament: "You will need to stand for many hours, possibly overnight, as the queue will keep moving." People have been told to reconsider bringing young children given the long waiting times expected and to pack food and drink and any medication they may need.

Those wishing to witness the historic event will need to pass through airport-like security screening before entering Westminster Hall, so no liquids will be permitted through. Once inside photography is banned and those wishing to attend have been told to dress appropriately, anyone wearing clothes that are heavily marked with branding or marketing messages will not be allowed entry. Larger bags can be left at the bag-drop facility but capacity is limited.

Where can I leave flowers?

Buckingham Palace has become a focal point for people to congregate since her passing. Any flowers left at the Palace gates are being moved to nearby Hyde Park and the Green Park Floral Tribute Garden, which is also becoming a gathering point for visitors.

What about the coronation of King Charles?

That event won't happen for another few months. It probably won't even happen this year. Queen Elizabeth II's coronation took place 16 months after her accession in 1953, so her son's coronation will likely take some time. Details haven't been made public yet but it's likely, despite the current cost of living crisis, it will be a major event with plenty of pomp, pageantry, and anachronistic traditions.

How do I approach discussing the queen with people in the UK?

While there's no universality of sentiment in the UK - as even a cursory scan of the polarised world of social media will reveal - this is going to be an extraordinary few days to be in the United Kingdom. People will be going into new shared experiences and visitors will be a part of something unique. Expect wall-to-wall media coverage of funeral arrangements, and pundits discussing the queen's legacy and what the future has in store for the monarchy.

Bear in mind that the royal family is a symbol of many things in today's UK - tradition, privilege and, of course, colonialism. When talking to people there's no need to shy away from the queen's death but on the other hand, no one will expect to be offered sympathy. Meanwhile, away from royal honeypots like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle which will be busy and strewn with floral tributes, Brits will be (mostly) keeping calm and carrying on. Away from grappling with constitutional questions, most people are more worried about energy bills and inflation.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Globe Aware volunteers will be delighted to learn that Costa Rica has this week been crowned the leading destination for travelers in all of Central America for 2022. We offer three unique volunteer vacations in this picturesque country, that are open all year round!


 Costa Rica Crowned Central America’s Leading Destination

Sept 5 2022
Breaking Travel News

Costa Rica has this week been crowned the leading destination for travelers in all of Central America for 2022. The picturesque country – famed for its stunning natural landscapes and near unrivaled levels of biodiversity – received the much sought-after accolade from the World Travel Awards this week. In winning the award, Costa Rica beat off stiff competition from the likes of Mexico, Belize and Honduras, whilst also managing to win several other awards in the process.

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Whilst it may not have quite the same reputation or global appeal as its regional rival Mexico – or anything near the number of tourists it receives – Costa Rica’s win in this category was extremely well deserved, as those who have been lucky enough to visit the country will attest to. Here’s a look at Costa Rica’s big win, why travelers should make plans to go there plus a look at the other awards that the country managed to scoop this week.

The 29th edition of the World Travel Awards saw the winners for all of the categories announced just this week in what was undoubtedly an exciting time for all in the travel industry. Facing stern competition from Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and El Salvador Costa Rica was voted Mexico & Central America’s Leading Destination 2022. This is the second year in the row that Costa Rica was crowned the best in the region, with previous winners of the award being Belize and Mexico.

Despite being such a small country, Costa Rica certainly packs a punch. The country is remarkably home to a total of 5% of all of the world’s biodiversity, making it a true nature lover’s paradise. Costa Rica’s varied landscapes and geographical features mean that travelers can take in such natural wonders as volcanoes, tropical rainforests, deep lagoons, winding rivers and golden beaches all in the same place – and even all in the same weekend should they wish to do so.

With such a diverse natural landscape, the opportunity for adventure is around every corner. Costa Rica offers outdoor adventures in abundance, leading the country to also be crowned Mexico & Central America’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination in this year’s awards. Whether it’s surfing at Tamarindo, exploring the country’s well-preserved natural parks or trying your hand at spotting the sloths, crocodiles and jaguars that roam the country, Costa Rica certainly won’t disappoint.

Additional Info

  • Source Breaking Travel News
Wednesday, 07 September 2022 11:51

Now Is the Best Time to Book Holiday Flights

Even though summer may not be over just yet, it’s time for Globe Aware volunteers to start thinking about booking holiday flights if you're looking for a deal. Prices for Thanksgiving and Christmas flights have already started to increase in the last couple months, but the good news is there are still potential deals to be found!


Why Now Is the Best Time to Book Holiday Flights, According to Travel Experts

By Alison Fox
August 31, 2022
Travel + Leisure

Even though summer may not be over just yet, it’s time to start thinking about booking holiday flights if you're looking for a deal.

Flights for Thanksgiving and Christmas have already started to increase from the last couple months, but the good news is there are still potential deals to be found, Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott's Cheap Flights, told Travel + Leisure.

In fact, the worst thing someone can do is wait until the last minute hoping prices drop (because spoiler: they probably won’t).

“It’s difficult and somewhat rare to see cheap holiday flights — they do happen, but they happen well in advance...when everyone else is thinking about their summer flights,” Keyes said. “The best fares probably were a month or two ago and now most of the fares are just decent but exceedingly likely to get a lot more expensive in the coming months.”

Take the tips below into consideration for booking holiday flights, and hopefully save in the process.

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The Time to Book Is Now

Generally, the best time to find a Thanksgiving flight is 36 to 74 days before departure (think: just after Labor Day), while the average price for Christmas flights tend to drop 22 days before departure, according to Google data shared with T+L. But the search engine cautions that may be “cutting it close” as Christmas prices can drop anywhere between 20 and 88 days before departure.

“It’s a good idea to book on the early side for any major holiday, especially if you already know your destination and dates of travel,” James Byers, group product manager at Google Flights, told T+L. “This way you can make sure you don’t miss out on the specific flights that best suit your travel plans.”

The good news for travelers is many airlines in the United States have done away with cancellation and change fees, allowing travelers to book now and rebook later if they find a cheaper deal.

“It gives you a lot more ability to take advantage if you don't get the time exactly right,” Keyes said. “It gives you an opportunity to have a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ situation with the airlines that before this was pretty rare.”

Consider Going International

Another way to save on a dreamy vacation abroad is to go during the week of Thanksgiving when international flight prices tend to drop, Keyes shared. A flight from New York to Lisbon during that week, for example, cost less than a flight from New York to Minneapolis.

“Thanksgiving is my hidden best week for international travel,” he said. “People don't associate Thanksgiving with cheap flights because everybody is traveling domestically. All those people who are traveling domestically are not traveling internationally, and late November is low season.”

Travelers likely won’t find the same level of discounts over Christmas, but winter flights overall are starting to drop in price.

“Travel during the summer tends to be quite a bit more expensive than travel during the fall and that was exacerbated this year because of the pent up demand. I think that's largely started to dissipate,” Keyes said. “I think we're going to be entering something closer to a renormalization. That will mean still-expensive flights over the holidays, but exceptionally cheap flights in the fall and winter aside from those weeks.”

Book Strategically to Minimize Disruptions

After a summer of chaos that saw more than 100,000 flights canceled in the U.S. and nearly a million flights delayed, it’s fair to try everything to stay above the fray. Overall, airline delays have generally been blamed on a combination of staffing shortages and air traffic control issues, and several airlines have cut back on fall schedules in an effort to minimize disruptions, including American Airlines and United Airlines.

Choosing early morning flights and direct flights are two “tried and true strategies” travelers can use for a smoother travel experience, Keyes said.

However, only opting for non-stop flights, for example, comes with a tradeoff: on average, nonstop fares have been 20% more expensive compared to those with stops, according to Google.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure
Wednesday, 31 August 2022 12:15

Stunning Palaces And Forts to Visit In Jaipur

History buffs love this part of their volunteer vacation week in Jaipur, India. You'll have the chance to experience these famous cultural forts and palaces when you visit the charming Pink City with Globe Aware!


Travel Back In Time At These Stunning Palaces And Forts In Jaipur

BY KARAN KAUSHIK
25 Aug 2022
Travel + Leisure

Planning a heritage trip to Jaipur is always a great idea. The charming Pink City offers a bewitching experience to history buffs from around the globe. If you are planning a trip to the beautiful city sometime soon, here are some of the best palaces and forts in Jaipur that you must visit. By Karan Kaushik

These are the must-visit palaces and forts in Jaipur

City Palace

Dotted with grand courtyards, gateways, and well-manicured gardens, the City Palace is modelled around the Walled City of Jaipur. The palace serves as the residence of the family of the former maharaja. Begin with the Mubarak Mahal. This palace is known for its intricate marble and sandstone exterior. To its north is the Sileh Khana, which used to serve as the department of music and dance. Today, it houses an armoury.

Other prominent spots in the City Palace complex are Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan-i-Aam. The Diwan-i-Khas houses two huge silver water containers, which hold the Guinness Record for being the largest in the world. At the Diwan-i-Aam, intricate miniature paintings, old manuscripts, and other artworks are of interest. Then there’s Chandra Mahal, which serves as the present home for the erstwhile royals. The City Palace is home to the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum. The main highlights of this museum are the Toshakhana or the royal wardrobe section and the Pothikhana or the manuscript section.

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Amer Fort

Also spelt as Amber Fort, Amer served as the capital of the Kachhwaha Rajputs for as many as 700 years. Constructed in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh, the grand fort stands in all its glory overlooking Maota Lake. Man Singh’s successors added to the fort. Prominent spots inside the fort are Diwan-i-Aam, Ganesh Pol, Sukh Niwas, Jai Mahal, Jas Mandir, and Sheesh Mahal.

The fort has been constructed using pale yellow and pink sandstone. White marble has also been used in some places. The central courtyard of the fort is called Jaleb Chowk, which can be entered via either the Chand Pol or the Suraj Pol. For the best experience, do attend the incredible sound and light show that tells a great deal about the fort’s glorious history.

Nahargarh Fort

Perched atop a ridge of the Aravalli Hills, the Nahargarh Fort is perhaps the most-loved spot among Jaipurites. The fort shot to sudden fame after it was featured in the iconic movie Rang De Basanti. Built during the reign of Maharaja Jai Singh in 1734, the fort offers amazing views of the Pink City, especially after sunset.

This is exactly why most locals and tourists flock to the fort. The prime attractions inside the fort are Madhavendra Bhawan, which used to serve as the summer retreat for the erstwhile royals. It was constructed by Sawai Madho Singh and features 12 similar bedrooms that were used by the queens. At one end of these rooms is the king’s suite. Lovely corridors embellished with attractive murals connect these rooms and the king’s suite.

Jaigarh Fort

Not very far from the Amber Fort lies the Jaigarh Fort. The fort once served as the royal treasury for the erstwhile royals of Jaipur. The major attraction at this fort is Jai Vana, a massive canon on wheels. When Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was ruling over India, Jaigarh Fort was famous as the most efficient cannon foundry in the world.

The word Jaigarh Fort translates into victory fort. The credit for its construction goes to King Jai Singh II, who built it in 1726. The fort offers a bird’s eye view of the Amber Fort and the sylvan Aravalli Hills that encompass it. The underground pathway between Amer and Jaigarh will leave you fascinated.

Jal Mahal Palace

This one-of-its-kind palace stands in the middle of the tranquil Man Sagar Lake. Its literal translation means water palace. The palace was constructed by Maharaja Madho Singh I as a hunting lodge for himself and his entourage.

Designed in the classical Rajput style of architecture, the palace is spread over five floors, of which only one is visible while the others remain submerged in the lake. Locals and tourists flock to the banks of the lake during the evening hours. On offer here are camel and elephant rides, handicraft shops, eateries, photo booths, and more. The Man Sagar lake also serves as a haven for birdwatchers.

Hawa Mahal

One of the most iconic heritage monuments of India, Jaipur’s Hawa Mahal was built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. The aim behind its construction was to give the royal women some much-needed respite from the scorching heat. The palace resembles a honeycomb in its structure and spreads over five stories.

It boasts tastefully carved windows, balconies, curvilinear roofs, and domes. The palace was used by the women of the royal family to savour the views of the Johari Bazaar. Its pyramidal shape has helped the fort stand its ground over all these centuries. The palace stands as a fine blend of Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure
Tuesday, 30 August 2022 11:19

Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling

It’s imperative to feel comfortable and safe while traveling, especially for Globe Aware volunteers just starting to get back into flying abroad. Follow these easy tips to stay healthy and make the most of your volunteer vacation!


 

9 Tips For Staying Healthy While Traveling, According To A Retired Physician

 

TERESA OTTO, MD
MAY.15.2021

In December of 2018, I retired from practicing medicine. As an anesthesiologist, I spent my days in an operating room putting people to sleep and waking them up when their surgeries were finished. It’s a package deal that I was happy to deliver to several thousand patients over the course of my 26-year career.

I have traveled at every opportunity, including several times this past year. I’m going to share the tips I follow to stay healthy while traveling — tips I used pre-COVID and during the pandemic.

Regarding COVID-19, I’m not going to weigh in on the pros and cons of the COVID vaccines or of wearing a mask — I think you can find enough opinions on both already.

And with respect to any vitamin, supplement, medication, or non-COVID vaccine advice that follows, please use this as a starting point for a discussion with your healthcare provider. This is not meant to be a substitute for a visit with someone who knows you and your medical conditions.

Here are nine tips for staying healthy while traveling.

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1. Stay Hydrated

Since your body is about 60 percent water, hydration is a key component to feeling your best. Travel is dehydrating. The air on a plane is at most half as humid as the air in your home (10 to 25 percent on a plane and around 50 percent in your house, depending on where you live).

Then there’s that issue of cutting back on your water intake because you don’t know when or where you’ll use the restroom next. This might be in the back of your mind if you’re on an organized tour and not in control of the comfort stops you make.

So what’s recommended? If you’re traveling by air, try to drink 8 ounces of water an hour. If you drink alcohol, you’ll have to increase the amount of water you drink to make up for alcohol’s dehydrating effects. Try to avoid alcohol during your flight. If you must drink, do so only in moderation.

On the ground, aim for about eight glasses of water a day, but let your thirst guide you.

2. Get Plenty Of Sleep

The importance of sleeping at least 7 hours a night can’t be underestimated, whether you’re at home or traveling. Recent studies link sleep deprivation to obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, dementia, and early death.

I am awful when it comes to this one. I know I would be better if I stopped drinking caffeine well before bedtime and shut off my phone and laptop earlier, too. Here are some additional habits to adopt for better sleep.

If you’re planning on a long international trip across many time zones, you might want to consider adding an overnight stay in a city where you’ll be catching a connecting flight. Hotels adjoining airports make this fairly easy to do, and often there is little difference in the fare with a prolonged layover.

3. Stretch Your Legs

Long car and plane trips increase your risk of a blood clot in your legs because you’re sitting for prolonged periods of time. This video shows some simple exercises you can do in your seat to prevent clotting.

If possible, stop the car every hour or so to walk. On flights, I opt for an aisle seat so I’m free to walk up and down the aisle when the seat belt sign is off. Consider wearing compression stockings that minimize blood pooling in your legs.

If you’ve had a blood clot before, consult with your physician about the need for blood thinners or medical-grade compression stockings before you travel.

4. Practice Good Hygiene

According to the CDC’s statistics, flu cases in the United States plummeted during the 2020–2021 season. In the midst of the pandemic, not only were we not congregating with each other, but we were practicing our very best hand hygiene and covering our coughs.

Thorough hand washing and using hand sanitizer are the best ways to prevent the spread of infections.

Pro Tip: When you fly, wipe down your seat’s armrests and tray table. According to studies conducted before COVID-19 and the advanced cleaning techniques that resulted from it, the tables were dirtier than the toilet handles.

5. Guard Against Travelers’ Diarrhea

Most bacterial and viral illnesses are spread by inhalation, ingestion, or inoculation (rubbing your eyes). That being said, for travelers to developing countries, food and waterborne illnesses are common, with the incidence of diarrhea between 30 and 60 percent. Usually, diarrhea resolves without treatment in two to seven days.

The CDC’s website provides a common-sense guide to eating and drinking in countries where North Americans might be at risk. To summarize: Eat fully cooked food, wash and peel fresh fruits and vegetables with bottled water, and drink only boiled or bottled water. Avoid ice cubes, and don’t forget to brush your teeth with bottled water, too.

Pepto-Bismol (two tablets four times a day) has some mild antibacterial effects and seems to reduce the chance of getting travelers’ diarrhea. If you are allergic to aspirin, take blood thinners, or have kidney problems or gout, you’ll need to avoid Pepto-Bismol, however.

Should you take prophylactic antibiotics to prevent diarrhea? No. Should you bring antibiotics on a trip to a developing country, just in case? Yes. I recommend bringing antibiotics in case the diarrhea is severe or causes dehydration.

Here are additional recommendations for preventing and treating travelers’ diarrhea.

6. Visit A Travelers’ Clinic Before You Leave

If you’re planning on traveling internationally, a visit to a travelers’ clinic at least a month before your trip can help you get any vaccines or prophylactic antibiotics you will need (for diarrhea or malaria, for example).

If you’ve never been vaccinated against hepatitis A, I recommend that you get the vaccine. Hepatitis A is a virus that affects your liver, and it’s transmitted through contaminated food or water.

Pro Tip: Bring your immunization record to your appointment.

7. Research Doctors And Clinics At Your Destination

The CDC has a guide that covers getting healthcare on your travels. It has a number of resources on evacuation insurance (evacuation — which costs thousands of dollars — may not be included in your travel insurance, and it’s not covered by most health insurance plans), travel health insurance, and finding a doctor or clinic abroad.

Medicare does not cover care outside of the U.S. or its territories under most circumstances. For exceptions, visit their website.

Cruise ships usually have a doctor onboard. The Silk Road train I took did as well. If you are sick, seek medical attention sooner rather than later. It is much easier to treat someone in the early stages of an illness.

If I’m traveling internationally independent of a group, I jot down the names and addresses of accredited clinics with English-speaking physicians before I leave home.

8. Consider Taking Vitamins Or Supplements

It would take an entire book to talk about the pros and cons of each vitamin and supplement. Everything from ashwagandha (a stress hormone-reducing supplement) to zinc is mentioned as something that should be in your suitcase.

Mostly, studies show that vitamins and supplements like Airborne (with vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements) support your health. With respect to preventing and treating COVID-19, ongoing research is looking at how effective vitamins and supplements are.

A recent study on vitamin D suggests that a deficiency leads to a greater chance of getting COVID-19 and having a worse outcome. Many people in the northern part of the U.S. and in Canada are deficient because of less exposure to the sun.

Pro Tip: I recommend getting a vitamin D level (a blood sample) first to determine whether you need to take supplemental vitamin D. Your healthcare provider can recommend a dose based on your results.

9. Watch What You Eat

When I went to medical school in the 1980s, very little time was devoted to teaching nutrition. But I am convinced that good nutrition promotes your health at home and on the road.

We ought to feed ourselves with the best fruits, vegetables, and protein we can find. Organic is even better for foods labeled the “dirty dozen” — those that are highly contaminated with pesticides and herbicides. A manual for a high-end car will recommend that you fill the tank with premium gas. We ought to fill our tanks with the best food we can afford.

We should limit our intake of refined sugars, highly processed foods, and fast foods that are easy to grab and eat on the go. Because of wonderful things like Cheetos and chocolate and peanut butter ice cream, this is another “do as I say, not as I do” — just like getting enough sleep.

Pro Tip: If you’d like to read more about nutrition, I recommend Why We Get Fat and The Case Against Sugar, both written by Gary Taubes. He’s a lawyer who makes a convincing case against refined sugar.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Awaits
Wednesday, 24 August 2022 10:36

Ten most colourful places to visit

Jaipur, Havana and Cusco, all these Globe Aware volunteer vacation destinations make the list! These colorful locations should definitely be added to your bucket list!


 Little India to Havana: 10 most colourful places to add to your travel wishlist

PALLABI BOSE
Travel 19 Jul 2022
LIFESTYLE ASIA

The world is full of beautiful places that you can admire as a traveller. While some of the most colourful places on earth are a result of natural phenomena, others are man-made.

For instance, the serene mountains and seas, the endless dunes in deserts, the earthy aroma of jungles and the bustling cities, all bring out the spectacular hues of various regions in a country that can leave you spellbound.

However, even as a globetrotter, you may have a preferred type of destination you enjoy the most. To make picking your next tour destination easier, we have created a list of some of the most colourful places in the world.

While the bright technicolour visuals make these places unique and can brighten up the mood of a weary traveller, these places are great for clicking some Instagram-worthy pics to boost your social media game as well. These unearthly visuals can fuel the hodophile in you and make you feel like you are in an alternate reality. Additionally, you can visit these places solo, with friends, family or with your significant other.

Here are some of the most colourful places in the world to add to your bucket list

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Rainbow Mountain, Peru

Vinicunca, also known as the Rainbow Mountain, is a geological wonder discovered in the Peruvian Andes in Cusco in 2015. But what gives Peru’s Rainbow Mountain its unique multicoloured look?

When the snow covering the mountains melted away, the hidden rocks in turquoise, lavender, gold and other colours emerged. Since then, it has been a hotspot for national and international tourists. With an altitude of 5,200 metres, which measures a height that is slightly more than half of Mt. Everest, the Rainbow Mountain comprises 14 vibrant minerals, responsible for the rainbow-like appearance.

When visiting Vinicunca, carry warm clothes as the temperature gets pretty low sometimes. Additionally, since the weather tends to change abruptly here, carry rain jackets, sun hats and sunglasses. A pair of durable trekking shoes and socks will make climbing Vinicunca easier. You can also bring some coca leaves to prevent altitude sickness.

According to the local authorities, the best time to visit is from March to November, especially from June to August, as you can enjoy the blue skies. But the sudden weather change is just a risk you have to take. You can also witness animals like llamas, horses and alpacas in the area.

Burano Island, Italy

One of the most colourful places in the world, Burano is a small island in Northern Venetian Lagoon. It has approximately 3,000 inhabitants. A 45-minute boat ride from Venice will take you to the colourful island. Spring and autumn are both suitable seasons to visit this place.

Most tourists visit Burano to see the vibrant houses and their hues reflecting on the green water of the channels in the city. It is believed that the houses were painted in distinct colours so that fishermen at sea could spot land through thick fog in the olden days.

Every once in a while, the residents paint the façade of their houses in shades decided by the local government. If residents want to colour the exterior of their home a different colour, they will have to get their request approved by the government. The cheerful hues of the houses and the beautiful flowers adorning their balconies can brighten your mood even on a gloomy day.

The island is also popular for lace-making, lume glass work and dishes made with fish. You can visit and watch the older ladies embroider the authentic Burano lace with their tombolo (a lace pillow) and maybe purchase a souvenir, too. Travellers can also have delectable pizzas, ice-creams as well as the special cookie of Burano at one of the pastry stores.

Havana, Cuba

The capital of Cuba, Havana, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Art, culture and music — it has it all, which makes it one of the hottest destinations for all sorts of tourists.

The streets of Havana are full of vibrant, tropical, Mediterranean and pastel hues. The chromatic murals, artistic stores and vibrant paints on the walls and windows are perfect for taking some Instagram-worthy snaps. These colours range from earth browns, teals and ubiquitous Havana blue to shiny and bright bubblegum pink. Do not forget to visit the Callejon de Hamel, one of the most famous streets of the city with stunning vistas of vibrant murals, street art and installations reminiscent of Afro-Cuban art and the Santeria religion at every turn.

However, the diverse colours are not just seen in the form of art and architecture the city boasts. Another remarkable aspect of Havana is the mobile carpark, where several cars in unique colours and different styles wait for you to take you on a ride.

From November to April, especially during winter, is the best time to visit this cultural haven of Cuba.

Jaipur, India

The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur, is also known as the Pink City. But how did it get this name?

In 1876, when the then Prince of Wales visited India, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted all the buildings of the city pink, as the colour symbolises hospitality. Ever since, it has retained the pinkish hue.

Additionally, the city also showcases an impressive palette of colours in clothes the locals wear, as well as printed fabrics, gems, jewellery and shoes sold at the busy bazaars.

Jaipur makes for a perfect place for history buffs through its magnificent palaces and forts. For those who would like to witness grand architecture with a dash of a metropolitan vibe, the Pick City in the place to be.

Visitors can enjoy their time in Jaipur from October to January, as the summer months are too hot to tour the city, which holds the title of being the first planned city of India.

Little India, Singapore

As the name suggests, Little India is a small place on the east of the Singapore River that perfectly captures the charming vibe and the varied culture of India.

In the 19th century, many Europeans lived here for its racecourses while traders would hire Indian immigrant workers. Over time, it has become one of the most popular and vibrant districts of Singapore.

Travellers to Little India can see Hindu, Chinese and Buddhist temples, mosques and churches in one place. The scenic beauty of the place is enhanced by the colourful buildings. An excellent example is one of the remaining iconic structures showcasing Chinese architecture – the House of Tan Teng Niah. It is known for its vibrant and photographic masonry.

What makes the alleys of Little India even more lively is the intricate mural works depicting Singapore’s history and street art in bright colours that will make you marvel at the artists’ expertise with colours. However, the street art in the area does not include graffitis.

The weather here stays mostly the same throughout the year, which makes visiting Little India convenient for globe trotters. However, you can plan your trip during Indian festivals like Navaratri or Diwali to enjoy celebrations.

La Boca, Argentina

The Spanish term ‘La Boca’ loosely translates into ‘mouth.’ Located at the entrance of Riachuelo, Buenos Aires, La Boca is one of the most beautiful and colourful places in the country.

In the 1960s, artist Benito Quinquela Martín decided to breathe life into an otherwise abandoned street in his neighbourhood, which birthed the vibrant La Boca as we know it. La Boca also served as one of the largest ports in the city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Perhaps, this is why visitors can spot the depiction of activities involving ports in the street artworks of Martín. The place is popular for its houses in bright colours, renowned Argentine soccer team Boca Junior and the dance form Tango.

Touted as the most colourful streets of the city, El Caminito was hailed as an open-air museum in 1959, where you can also witness the works of other artists. The streets are more like a painted canvas you can walk through. Conventillos are the old houses in El Caminito that serve as art galleries. It is one of the most Instagrammable places in the country.

Another spectacle of this area is the Estadio Boca Juniors (aka La Bombonera), a huge building painted in blue and yellow stripes, which is the home of the Boca Junior.

Spring is a great time to visit Buenos Aires. Visitors, however, must avoid visiting La Boca at night as it is infamous for pick-pocketing.

Rainbow Village, Taiwan

This village in Taichung City got a colourful makeover in 2007 when war veteran Huang Yong-fu learned that his home, where he had been living for over 30 years, was going to be demolished. However, little did he know that in his attempt to bid goodbye to his abode, he would not just be turning the exteriors of his home but also the abandoned neighbourhood into a piece of art featuring vivid colours. This earned him the nickname ‘Grandpa Rainbow’.

Huang’s artworks on 11 bright buildings, showcasing quirky illustrations and imaginative creatures, soon went viral. Drawing artists and visitors from world over, the village quickly was renowned for its playful yet artistic look. This led to a petition campaign, which began in 2010, to stop the demolition of the village. Although it took four years for the Taichung City government to change its mind to bring down the Rainbow Village, which has no residents today, its beautifully painted buildings have been preserved and are frequented by students from nearby universities and tourists.

The most favourable time to visit Taichung City is spring.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

The most comfortable time to visit Chefchaouen, also known as the blue diamond of Morocco, is spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October).

Located high up in the country’s Rif Mountains, the city is famous for its blue-tinted paints on buildings and pathways, which look straight out of a fairy tale. The azure colour is believed to symbolise the Jewish faith, which began with using dyed blue threads in prayer shawls — a gesture that would remind the citizens of the city of god. This gradually led to the Chefchaouen being bathed in the shade of blue. However, others believe it represents the colour of the Mediterranean Sea, which was replicated across the city to attract tourists.

Unlike the other bustling cities of Morocco, Chefchaouen has a soothing vibe, owing to the mountains, lush gardens and waterfalls surrounding the city. Long walks in the place are a heavenly feeling as the winding lanes will take you to the centre of Chaouen, as the city is commonly called. You can also find white-blue paintings on different canvas sizes to buy as a souvenir, as well as a collection of old weapons and textiles housed in a museum here.

Additionally, do not miss mingling with the locals and tasting freshly baked bread and tagines while touring the picturesque city in the north-African country.

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, stretches over 2,300 kilometres along the northeast coast of Australia.

Adventure enthusiasts can take a plunge into the clear blue waters to witness the world’s largest collection of coral reefs or stroll on the picture-perfect tropical island with golden beaches and lush greenery.

Supporting a diverse underwater ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef is home to more than 9,000 species, including around 3,000 individual reef systems, 1,600 fish species, venomous sea snakes, brightly coloured worms and algae. Along with the beautiful coral formations, divers can also see giant clams, rare species of whales and six of the world’s seven marine turtle species.

To get more out of this beautiful place, visitors can choose from an array of activities, including scuba diving, snorkelling, aircraft and helicopter trips, glass-bottom boat viewing, whale watching and swimming with dolphins. May to October is the ideal time to tour The Great Barrier Reef.

Norway

The northern region of Norway, from late September to late March, witnesses longer nights as it gets dark starting in the early afternoon. This is when the northern lights, or the aurora borealis, form beautiful patterns of lights that seem to be dancing in the dark sky.

To view this remarkable atmospheric phenomenon, visitors have to travel to the north of the country to reach the Aurora Zone. You can also book one of the organised tours for travellers, hoping to catch a glimpse of the spectacle, which is caused when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s magnetic field down the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. This creates horseshoe-shaped particles in green and sometimes brown and red that move over the Arctic Circle.

Gamcheon Culture Village, South Korea

Known as the ‘Machu Picchu of Korea’, Gamcheon Culture Village is a coastal city in west Busan where history meets art. The labyrinth of steep alleys, stairways, sculptures, street art painted in vibrant shades and pastel-coloured houses with bright rooftops make for one of the most colourful places in the world.

However, it has a rather painful past. The village served as a settlement for refugees during the Korean War, who cultivated the mountainous terrain to make a living. Several years later, as part of the Village Art Project by the government’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, artists, residents and students flocked to the village to give it a facelift in 2009. Today, a visit to Busan will be incomplete without taking a trip to Gamcheon Culture Village.

The best time to visit Busan is during spring and autumn. Remember to carry a map of Gamcheon to avoid getting lost in one of the most colourful places in the world.

Additional Info

  • Source LIFESTYLE ASIA
Tuesday, 23 August 2022 14:06

What is the Mid-Autumn Festival?

The mid-autumn festival lands on September 10th 2022, and is celebrated throughout Asia. Globe Aware volunteers in Vietnam during this month will be lucky enough to experience this special harvest celebration, also known as the "children's festival."


What is the Mid-Autumn Festival, and how is it celebrated around Asia?

29 Jul 2022
PYUSHA CHATTERJEE
Lifestyle Asia

The Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival is celebrated across East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, especially those with Chinese communities, but what does it really entail?

Falling on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month (as per the Chinese lunar calendar), it is observed for a few days (mostly three) around the main day, wherein the city streets are decorated with bright and colourful lanterns and dazzling lights. During this period, people typically celebrate by savouring delectable mooncakes — which, as their name suggest, represent the full moon. The snack also symbolises happiness and family reunions.

This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on 10 September. Mooncakes aside, not everyone might know what the event is all about. 

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All about Mid-Autumn Festival and mooncakes

The history of the Chinese festival and its different names

Although the Chinese festival finds its roots in the Tang (618-907 CE) and Song (960-1279 CE) dynasties, it became popular during the Ming (1368-1644 CE) and Qing (1644-1912 CE) dynasties and came to be known as the Spring Festival thereafter. In 2008, it was declared a public holiday by China.

Known as Zhōngqiū Jié in Mandarin in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, it is called Tết Trung Thu in Vietnam and Chuseok in Korea. Additionally, it is known as the Mooncake Festival, too, going by the festival-specific dessert.

Meanwhile, those with Chinese heritage in Indonesia celebrate another variation of the festival called the Lantern Festival (not the one celebrated in China).

Mid-Autumn Festival folklore

Based on various beliefs, Asian parents tell different stories revolving around the festival to their children. One of the popular ones is about the Jade Emperor whose ten sons altered themselves as ten suns and began disturbing life on earth with their scorching heat. The emperor hired the famous archer Hou Yi, who brought nine of them down. For this, he was awarded the immortality elixir for his bravery.

However, he gave the elixir to his wife Chang-e who once drank it to save it from being stolen by his followers. She then floated to the moon and stayed there as a deity. It was believed that she would return to her husband on Mid-Autumn day.

Meanwhile, Hou Yi started burning incense and offering food to the moon after losing his wife. His love touched people across various Chinese communities and similar traditions related to the festival came into practice.

Another tale narrates the story of a beautiful singer Diaochan, who lived during the Han dynasty (206-220 CE). After knowing about the ongoing politics in the royal court where she lived, she prayed to the moon for peace at midnight. Seeing her beauty, Chang-e, the goddess residing on the moon hid amid the clouds as she felt inferior. Diaochan’s beauty has been regarded as higher than Chang-e’s since then.

Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

The Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival is a favourite among kids. Also known as the ‘Children’s Festival’ in the country, every child looks forward to preparing their own lanterns and nibbling on the scrumptious mooncakes.

The harvest festival has much folklore attached to it, but the one which is the most popular in Vietnam is about a man named Cuội. He was said to have hung from a magical banyan tree that led to the moon. The Vietnamese believe that a man’s shadow can be seen if one looks closely at the moon, and the children light lanterns to help him find his way back to the earth.

As the city preps for the sparkling festival, one can easily witness lion dance by performers rehearsing on the streets. Add to it stalls with gorgeous lanterns, toys, masks and aromatic mooncakes.

On the full moon night, a vibrantly dressed male dancer can be seen amid the festivities. He represents the Earth God, Ông Địa, known for abundance and his mask symbolises the moon. He tells the lion dancers to perform for the crowd who cheer onlookers with their comical moves.

Múa lân or lion dance is one of the major attractions of this festival. This act is carried out by professional acrobatic dancers who comprise the lion’s body. Much to the awe of children, the dancers move closer to them to entertain and make them laugh.

If you are planning to visit the country during this bright festival, Hanoi, Hội An and Ho Chi Minh City are the best ones to be in. Don’t forget to catch the lion dances live.

Scrumptious mooncakes and other delicacies

One of the best things to look forward to during the festival is mooncakes. And, it has an interesting anecdote as it holds much importance in Chinese history. While the Han Chinese revolted against the Mongols during the Yuan dynasty period (1279-1368 CE), it is believed that some revolutionaries exchanged secret messages through mooncakes.

The full moon-shaped delicacy come in traditional filling, which includes lotus seeds and roots, melon seeds, fruits and chocolates. However, if you wish to try something unconventional, go for the ones prepared with fillings of spicy beef, leek and fermented bean curd.

Mooncakes come in a varied price range. These include normal ones with an average price and luxury mooncakes costing a few thousand yuan.

Besides mooncakes, other delicacies include Osmanthus wine, river snails, pumpkins, deep-fried lotus root sandwiches, and taro (sweet potato).

Other countries that celebrate the harvest festival

Other than China and Vietnam, countries including Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines celebrate the festival, which is all about three important concepts — gathering, thanksgiving and praying.

Other than organizing family reunions and other rituals related to worshipping the moon, the people of Korea worship their ancestors too. While the men of the family stand together for the ‘worshipping ceremony,’ the eldest son invites the ancestors by opening the front door and offering flowers, drinks, and food items. While paying their respect to them with other family members, he burns the incense. They begin the feast after this ceremony.

The Japanese, on the other hand, follow a different way of worshipping the moon and celebrating the festival, and it is known as Tsukimi there. Along with dressing in traditional attires and visiting their place of worship, they decorate their houses in a specific manner using pampas grass. It symbolizes the beginning of autumn and is believed to keep bad energies away.

For the people of Malaysia, going for the lantern parades during this festival is a major attraction. One of the best places to witness the Mid-Autumn festivities is Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur, which is said to be one of the oldest and largest temples in Southeast Asia. You can also visit the ‘river of lights’ parade in Penang when it comes alive with brightly lit lamps and lanterns.

India, too, celebrates the autumnal harvest festival, known by different names in different states, including Mim Kut in Mizoram, Nuakhai in Odisha, Pham Kho Sowai in Arunachal Pradesh and Onam in Kerala.

Additional Info

  • Source LIFESTYLE ASIA

From October, Thailand will downgrade Covid to the same category as the flu virus. Thailand is re-asserting itself as a friendly destination for tourists and our Globe Aware volunteers.


 

Thailand To Start Treating Covid Like The Flu From October

By 
Travel Off Path
August 13 2022

In a new development even the most optimistic didn’t see coming, Thailand will outpace the vast majority of Asia, and even the Western Hemisphere, in treating Covid as an endemic disease. From October, the once ultra-strict country will downgrade the pathogen to the same category as the flu virus, effectively treating both the same.

After more than two years of enforcing strict regulations aimed at curbing the viral spread, Thailand has progressively eased its stance this year, dropping the highly controversial Thailand Pass, which was seen as a barrier for most foreign visitors, and rescinding all mask requirements. Now, it will be taking yet another huge step in reinstating normality.

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Here is everything you need to know about Thailand’s reclassifying of Covid and what it means for tourists:

Thailand Close To Fully Reinstating Normality

Unlike other popular tourist hotspots, like Germany and Cyprus, that have recently made a U-turn and tightened pandemic rules once more, Thailand is pursuing a different path irrespective of the rise of new Omicron sub-variants. You may be wondering why, seeing that it stood among some of the most conservative Asian states not that long ago.

In sum, the Ministry of Public Health, responsible for the anti-Covid response, has finally conceded the situation has begun to ‘stabilize’, and the virus, albeit still ‘dangerous’, no longer justifies a state of emergency. Interestingly, cases in Thailand have remained stable while other neighboring countries have seen new spikes.

According to data shared by Worldometers, the moving average of new reported cases is 2,190 for the 7-day period ending on, and preceding August 11 – roughly the same as a month ago on July 11, when the rolling average was 2,134. There has been a slight increase, yes, but this has not strained the local health sector, nor led to a surge in deaths.

For that reason, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, a central figure in Thailand politics during the pandemic years, has confirmed Covid will join other viruses such as influenza, perpetrator of the flu, and dengue, responsible for dengue fever, on a list of communicable diseases that simply need ‘monitoring’.

Visiting Thailand Is The Easiest It’s Been Since 2020

This will happen as soon as October, and will ‘reflect the reality‘ of the pandemic in Thailand, according ot Charnvirakul himself. Previously, Thailand had resorted to numerous lockdowns and social curbs to keep the virus under control, going as far as barring entry of foreigners into numerous destinations in an attempt to keep new variants out.

Up until recently, tourists had also been subject to strict vaccine, testing, and isolation mandates, as well as Thailand’s infamously confusing quarantine entry schemes. While it has yet to mimic the likes of Mexico, or even its fellow Asian partner Vietnam, in fully scrapping entry requirements, visiting Thailand is now the easiest it’s been since 2020.

Essentially, foreigners must provide one of the following documents to be granted quarantine-free entry:

  • An active vaccination certificate, or
  • A negative Covid test (RT-PCR or Lateral Flow) within 72 hours of boarding their flight

Is Covid Finally Taking A Back Seat?

By effectively declaring the disease as endemic, as it previously indicated it would, Thailand is re-asserting itself as a friendly tourist destination, and completely shifting their Covid strategy. Not our words, the Health Minister’s: he believes it is now up to the public to look after their own health, instead of being closely guarded by the national government.

In his statement, the Minister lists the ‘readiness’ of Thailand’s healthcare system, as well as access to treatment, as reasons why Covid is no longer as disruptive as it once was. Prior to this update, the virus had shared the same status as the plague and smallpox, two other conditions that indeed threaten lives and the functioning of society.

As a matter of fact, monkeypox, an entity closely related to the latter, has been doing the rounds lately and prompted numerous destinations, and even the World Health Organization, to sound the alarm. As new, more pressing issues face travelers, including new health concerns, Covid seems to be finally taking a back seat.

In Thailand, this will be official beginning this fall.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

Many countries have their own laws regarding the importation of food items, and the United States is no exception, having issued 7,190 violations in 2021. Globe Aware volunteers should be aware of what food items could result in expensive consequences.


 

Think Twice About Flying With Food, Huge Fines Could Be Waiting

By Tyler Fox
August 15 2022
Travel Off Path

Grabbing a last-minute breakfast before flying is common practice when rushing through the airport. However, that breakfast could cost you much more than anticipated if you aren’t careful. Recently, a passenger heading to Australia was fined $1,874 USD for bringing his McDonald’s breakfast with him from Bali. That breakfast will end up costing more than the original flight to Bali, and it should serve as a warning to other travelers. Many countries have their own laws regarding the importation of food items, and the case above shows how serious the repercussions can be. The United States is no exception and issued 7,190 violations in 2021 for “failures to declare prohibited agriculture items.”

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Which Countries Issue Fines?

Every country will have its own policies regarding the importation of food items. Australia has recently heightened its biosecurity measures in an effort to combat the spread of foot and mouth disease, leading to the case above. Australia will fine passengers up to $1,874 USD for failing to declare food items. But what about other countries?

  • United States – Fines up to $10,000 USD
  • Canada – Fines up to $1017 USD
  • United Kingdom – Fines can range from about $300 to $3,000 USD or more, depending on the severity of the discrepancy.

What Foods Are Prohibited?

Prohibited foods vary from country to country, but using the U.S. as a guide to understanding what foods most countries are looking for is a good starting point. Passengers flying into the U.S. must declare all food products. There are specific food items that cannot come into the country, including:

  • Almost all fresh and frozen fruits or vegetables
  • Home-canned products. Commercially canned products are alright, however.
  • Most dried fruits and vegetables.
  • Meat or poultry

Travelers should always declare their food items in every country they visit, as any import tax is likely to be far less than any fines they would otherwise face.

Why Are Foods An Issue?

Each country will have its own specific reasons for restricting different foods. However, the most common reason for limiting the importation of various foods is to protect against disease and pests. Several diseases are commonly carried in meats, including foot-and-mouth disease, swine fever, and others. Most fruits and vegetables are prohibited because of their potential for carrying foreign pests and diseases that would be harmful to the local produce. Much like when centuries-old travelers would bring diseases with them when discovering new places, fruits and vegetables can have just as devastating an impact on local agriculture.

In 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discovered 264 instances of pests at ports of entry. And while it may seem overboard to throw away an apple because of the slight chance it has an unseen pest aboard; the risk is certainly there. In 2021 at the Port of Gulfport, CBP officials found a butterfly larvae pest while inspecting a container of pineapples from Costa Rica. The butterfly’s larvae are pests and feed on various plants. If it were to gain a foothold in the U.S., it could adversely affect the country’s agriculture.

What Should Travelers Do?

In short, always declare food items when going through customs and border control after flying to any country. By declaring food items, travelers will ensure that they don’t incur any fines and, more importantly, don’t accidentally cause an agricultural disaster by introducing a new pest or disease to the area. In the U.S., if passengers declare all their food items, they will have nothing to worry about. Even if an inspector decides that a particular item is prohibited from entering the country, travelers will not be held liable as long as the item was declared.

Some items are typically nothing to worry about, such as candy or crackers in packaging. However, travelers should always research the country they are visiting before flying with food items. Otherwise, the consequences can be severe.

Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path
Thursday, 11 August 2022 10:12

Luggage delayed, lost or damaged?

The prospect of delayed, lost or damaged baggage can make any Globe Aware volunteer nervous about flying. There are things you can do and strategies you can take to help avoid or at least minimize the impact of lost and delayed luggage.


What should I do if my luggage is delayed, lost or damaged?

By Forrest Brown
CNN
August 7, 2022

(CNN) — It's enough to give anyone already nervous about the chaos in the skies yet another reason to pop an antacid: the prospect of delayed, lost or damaged baggage.

The concern is valid.

After all, Delta Air Lines recently decided to fly a plane from London to its hub in Detroit packed with 1,000 lost bags and zero passengers because of a now-notorious meltdown in service at Heathrow Airport. Waves of cancellations and delays are becoming commonplace.

Handing over checked suitcases can almost feel like a leap of faith these days.

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How bad is the problem?

A recent report from the US Department of Transportation shows an increase in the number of "mishandled" bags. (Any baggage that is lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered is considered mishandled.)

In May 2021, 0.38 out of 100 bags enplaned were mishandled. That figure went up to 0.56 per 100 bags enplaned in May 2022.

At 0.93 bags per 100 enplaned, regional carrier Republic Aiways Republic Airlines had the most mishandled bags in May 2022 among 17 US airlines in the report. Republic operates flights for American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express).

However, that still puts more than 99 out of 100 bags going where they needed to go without incident.

Scott Keyes, the founder of flight deals and travel advice site Scott's Cheap Flights, said he's encouraging people not to let news of baggage issues put them off their flights and vacations.

"Every bag that gets lost is a huge disruption for the people whose bag that is -- and I certainly don't want to downplay that -- but I do want folks to have the proper perspective that in the vast majority cases, your flight is going to fly and your checked bag is going to arrive," he told CNN Travel.

Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel for AAA, sees better days ahead.

"As staffing improves, more pilots are trained and flight frequency increases, we will see this issue start to disappear," she said in an email to CNN Travel.

In the meantime, you're not totally powerless. There are things you can do and strategies you can take to help avoid or at least minimize the impact of lost and delayed luggage.

Before you go to the airport

Book nonstop flights: If you're really concerned about your checked luggage, prioritize nonstop flights or at least layovers with a generous amount of time, Keyes said.

"Bags are most likely to get lost in that transfer between planes at connection, especially if there's a tight connection." And he said that's doubly so for international flights with tight connections.

Consider discount airlines: He said full-service airlines are more likely to lose your bags than the discount airlines, which tend to have more nonstop flights that have a lower likelihood of losing a bag in transit.

Legacy airlines tend to have more connecting flights. Keyes said he wouldn't make a booking decision based solely on this, but it's "an interesting side factor to consider."

Take pictures of your luggage and its contents: Jo Hoban, a travel agent in Spanish Fork, Utah, about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City, told CNN Travel that she advises her clients to "take a picture of their bags because the first things airline offices will ask you is what is the brand name of the bag, what is the color of the bag, the size of the bag and the contents of the bag."

She also said people should lay out what they are planning to pack on the bed and take a picture of that, too. If the bag is lost, that helps create a content record.

Use baggage tracking: "Many airlines allow you to see the status of your bags in their apps, which can help give you peace of mind that your bag is on the flight with you — or at least give you insight into your bag's location should it get delayed," Scott's Cheap Flights said in an email news release.

Twidale says you can set up independent tracking yourself. One option is called AirTag, and it connects with an Apple device so you can track the tag's location.

Properly ID your suitcases on the inside, too: The consumer advocate group Travelers United says put your info on the inside, too, in case your outside tag gets torn off. Hoban makes the same suggestion.

"I have had a bag taken off the carousel at the airport in Salt Lake [City]. Luckily, I knew the people who took my bag so it was easy to exchange it," she said. "But again, what if I did not know those people? What if they were total strangers and got my bag home? Hopefully, they're good, honest people and see that I have a name and phone number in the bag that they can call me and let me know the mistake."

Samantha Brown has been crossing the globe as a TV travel host for 20 years. She often just takes a carry on bag, and offers her best tips for packing up your luggage. First tip: go with a hardside suitcase

The power of carry-ons: The airlines can't lose baggage you never check in. Twidale suggests packing as light as you can and use just carry-ons. You'll save time leaving the airport and have more peace of mind.

Review your credit card coverage: Before you buy extra travel insurance, Keyes suggested you check your credit card policy for travel protection.

You might get supplemental compensation (for what the airlines don't cover) not only for lost bags, but also for reimbursements for things you may need to buy while you're waiting for your bag.

At the airport before you fly

Check your bags in a timely manner: Travelers United says last-minute baggage check-ins can lead to a greater chance of trouble.

"Don't push the system. The smallest delay can have serious consequences when your luggage is cruising down the conveyor belt and selected for security examination with little time to spare," its website says.

Work that phone camera again: Keyes suggested that just before handing over your checked suitcases, open them up and take a picture.

"If your bag does get lost, and you've got any valuables in there ... having a photograph of what was in there is really going to bolster your case to get compensation after the fact."

Check your baggage tag's destination: Travelers United also advises you double-check your airline luggage tags and make sure they're going to where you are going, especially if you're doing curbside check-in. And the North Carolina Consumers Council reminds people to keep hold of their the baggage claim ticket or sticker.

If your baggage is delayed

Scope out other spots at the airport: If your suitcases aren't on the designated pick-up carousel, The Points Guy travel advice website suggests checking nearby carousels and if you don't see them there, try the airline's baggage office. This is also a good time to put those aforementioned tracking apps to work.

Report your issue and fill out forms at the airport: If your bags haven't shown up, let the airline know.

"Many times, airline personnel will explain that the luggage has been located but will be delayed until the next flight," Travelers United says. "If you have the time, wait. If not, fill out the appropriate lost luggage forms at the airport."

Let the airline deliver your bags: Keyes said if an airline can locate your suitcases but it's going to be hours before they arrive, make sure the reps have the address where you'll be and use the airline's delivery service.

Keep receipts: "If you buy anything to get you through the days without your luggage — from a new swimsuit to toothpaste — keep the receipts. You may need these to get reimbursed," Scott's Cheap Flights advises.

If your luggage is lost

Check your airline's claims and compensation policy: Each airline should have website information on what to do if your bag is lost. For example, this is Delta Air Lines' page. This is American Airlines' page. And this is Southwest Airlines' page. And airlines based outside the United States have their own systems. This is what to do if flying British Airways.

If the airline isn't being helpful: "If the airline is dragging its feet on compensation ... don't be afraid to complain to the Department of Transportation, Keyes said regarding US airlines. You can file a complaint here.

"They've got a special aviation enforcement office where they're being much more pro-active about protecting consumers and trying to clamp down on airlines when they're not providing customers with the type of compensation or reimbursement that they're required to do under federal laws."

For information of making claims for UK flights, click here. And check the UK's Civil Aviation Authority's site here. Get more information on Canadian flights here.

Liability limits: There's fine print, exceptions and paperwork / documentation hurdles, but you can eventually get cash for your lost bags.

For US domestic flights, the maximum liability amount allowed by DOT regulation is $3,800. Airlines are free to pay more than the limit, but are not required to do so. For international flights, that figure is $1,780. Find out more from the DOT here.

Damaged bags: If you see your luggage is damaged while still at the airport, report it there. Airlines aren't required to pay for damages to items caused by improper packing, according to the DOT, nor are they responsible for "certain categories of items (for example: fragile items, electronics, cash, perishable items ...)"

They are liable for damage to wheels, handles and straps.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Monday, 08 August 2022 11:36

Traveling to Costa Rica during Covid-19

If you’re planning to travel to Costa Rica, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to travel to this popular Globe Aware destination.


Travel to Costa Rica during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN Staff
July 2, 2021

If you’re planning to travel to Costa Rica, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

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The basics

Costa Rica was one of the first countries to open back up for tourism, which it did in November 2020. Around 1 million travelers visited the country in 2021 — back to almost 70% of pre-pandemic levels.

However, the Delta variant hit the country hard in 2021, with hospitals “dangerously full” at the peak, and Costa Rica ending high up on the board of the most new cases globally. Cases then dropped to some of the lowest levels seen in months, but are currently at an all-time high because of the Omicron variant.

On January 24, the US CDC moved Costa Rica to its Level 4 risk — or “do not travel” list. However, with the CDC revising its listings, Costa Rica is now classified as Level 3, classed as high risk.

Since March 2022, the country has been implementing a “responsible and gradual opening,” as restrictions begin to relax.

The government says that Costa Rica has one of the lowest death rates per million of population in the world.

What’s on offer

Costa Rica is known for its “pura vida” (pure life), and, pandemic aside, the vida is still pura here. This is a country for nature lovers, with both a Caribbean and Pacific coast, and jungle covering about a quarter of the country.

Whether you’re here for the cloud forests, the volcanoes or the incredible nature and wildlife, your shoulders will definitely drop a few inches.

Most visitors pass through capital San José as a mere routing point, but it’s a beautiful city, with stunning architecture, public art and museums.

Who can go

Everyone. Costa Rica opened back up — even for tourism — on November 1, 2020. However, there are of course restrictions. And standard visa regulations still apply.

Since January 2022, many activities are restricted to those who’ve been vaccinated. Although entry rules aren’t set to change, restrictions on the ground will make it less attractive for the unvaccinated. You now cannot enter a hotel, restaurant, bar or museum without proof of vaccination.

In August, Costa Rica’s president signed a law that allows “digital nomads” to remain in the country for up to two years. To qualify, individuals must earn at least $3,000 a year, and families must make at least $5,000. Benefits include the ability to open a Costa Rican bank account and their local US driver’s licenses being honored locally.

What are the restrictions?

There’s no need for a negative Covid-19 PCR test result as there was initially, and the country dropped the requirement of filling out a Health Pass before arrival on March 1.

The requirement for non-vaccinated arrivals to have travel insurance covering Covid-19 treatment was dropped on April 1. Free vaccinations are now on offer to tourists at San Jose’s airport, if they so wish.

Residents and Costa Rican nationals may be subject to self-isolation on arrival.

The land borders, which had been closed to nonresidents, reopened April 2020 to visitors not needing a visa.

American Airlines launched flights from Chicago and Austin to San Jose on November 2, 2021. Avianca launched flights from Cancún on December 2. British Airways returned after a pandemic break on December 15.

What can visitors expect?

All commercial spaces — whether restaurants, bars or entertainment venues — can now operate at full capacity.

There is some confusion around face masks. A recent government ruling suggests they are no longer mandatory, but local media reports that individual business can still mandate the use of masks on their premises. The UK government states that masks are mandatory at health establishments such as doctor’s surgeries and hospitals, while private businesses can require you wear one, too.

Over 1 million cases have been registered as of August 5, with 8,740 deaths.

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Wednesday, 03 August 2022 11:58

Bhutan sets reopening date

Bhutan will reopen for international tourists from September for the first time since the pandemic began more than two years ago, officials said on June 30. Globe Aware volunteers will be delighted to know that we offer a volunteer vacation week in this tiny Himalayan kingdom.


 

Bhutan sets reopening date -- and increases daily tourist tax

June 30, 2022
Reuters

Bhutan will reopen for international tourists from September for the first time since the pandemic began more than two years ago, officials said on June 30, as the tiny Himalayan kingdom looks to revive its economy.

Wedged between China and India, the country with scenic natural beauty and ancient Buddhist culture, took drastic early steps and banned tourism, a major source of income, in March 2020 when the first COVID-19 case was detected there.

The constitutional monarchy of less than 800,000 people has reported fewer than 60,000 infections and only 21 deaths, but the $3 billion economy contracted in the last two fiscal years, pushing more people into poverty.

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) said tourists would be allowed to enter from September 23.

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They will, however, be charged a Sustainable Development Fee of $200 per tourist per night, up from the $65 charged for three decades. Officials said the new fee would offset tourists' carbon impact.

"COVID-19 has allowed us to reset -- to rethink how the sector can be best structured and operated... while keeping carbon footprints low," Tandi Dorji, TCB chairman and the country's foreign minister, said in a statement.

Authorities said Bhutan had revised standards for service providers, such as hotels, guides, tour operators, and drivers.

Tourism employs 50,000 people and contributed an annual average of about $84 million in the three years before the pandemic in direct foreign exchange.

Bhutan opened to high-end tourists in 1974 when it received 300 visitors. The number soared to 315,600 in 2019, up 15.1% from a year earlier, TCB data showed.

Tour operators said visitors would be free to choose their own operators and plan itineraries, whereas before they could choose only from the packages offered by their operators.

Sangay Phuntso, who runs the Always Bhutan Travel company in the capital Thimphu, said the fees may deter some, but not the wealthier visitors.

"Those who can spend are welcome," Phuntso said. "We are excited."

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Wednesday, 03 August 2022 11:40

Traveling to Ghana during Covid-19

Ghana has been open to international flights for some time. If you're planning to travel to Ghana, here's what Globe Aware volunteers will need to know!


Traveling to Ghana during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

August 1, 2022
CNN

(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to Ghana, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

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The basics

Ghana has been open to international flights for some time, but on March 28 it finally reopened its land and sea borders. All non-resident adults who are not Ghanaian citizens must be fully vaccinated in order to enter the country.

What's on offer

Ghana may be blessed with some of West Africa's finest beaches, but it's so much more than a place to sunbathe. Its coastal forts offer an unflinching insight into the slave trade which was run by the British from these shores. The rambling Kejetia Market, in Kumasi, in the southwest of the country, is said to be the largest in this part of the continent, selling everything from jewelry to footwear. In the north, Mole National Park is the ideal place to see some of Africa's most famous animals, including elephants, hippos and warthogs.

Who can go

Travelers aged 18 years and over who are not Ghanaian citizens or resident foreigners must be fully vaccinated in order to enter.

Ghanaians and resident foreigners who are not fully vaccinated are allowed entry but restrictions apply (see below).

Entry requirements

Non-resident travelers aged 18 years and over must be fully vaccinated in order to enter. They no longer need to undergo any Covid-19 testing.

Ghanaians and resident foreigners who are not fully vaccinated will be offered vaccination on arrival. Alternatively, they can undergo mandatory quarantine at a government-assigned facility for seven days at their own expense.

They must also have proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure and also undertake an additional antigen test on arrival.

This costs $50 per passenger for Ghanaians and citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and $150 for everyone else, with results available within 30 minutes. Payment must be made online prior to boarding the flight to Ghana.

Anyone testing positive on arrival will be assessed by the Port Health Unit for quarantine either in a government health facility or isolation center. The cost of the mandatory seven-day stay must be covered by passengers at their own expense.

All passengers must complete an online health declaration form and may be asked to do so again on board before landing.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

BBC Travel Show - Passengers with a Purpose

Jul 14, 2022
BBC

Emeline Nsingi Nkosi finds out what life’s like as an international volunteer onboard the world’s biggest civilian hospital ship. The Green Guide’s back - asking how to travel sustainably on a budget, and the team’s in India taking a look at a new record breaking railway bridge in the Himalayas.

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Wednesday, 27 July 2022 13:02

19 Travel Prep Tips

With summer travel season in full swing, you might be counting down the days until your Globe Aware volunteer vacation! But impending travel means a heap of logistics to manage, and you might find your excitement is overshadowed by stress. Here are some helpful travel tips to make things easier!


 

Reduce Pre-Vacation Stress With These 19 Travel Prep Tips

Here's what you can do now to make your upcoming summer trip go smoothly.

Mary King
July 20, 2022
CNET

With summer travel season in full swing, you might be counting down the days until your next trip -- already imagining the warm sand between your toes or the stunning landmarks you've longed to see in person. (If you're hoping to capture those sweet vacation memories on camera, here's the essential travel photography gear to pack.) But impending travel means a heap of logistics to manage, and you might find your excitement is overshadowed by stress.

First, you'll likely encounter pricier-than-ever airfares as you book the trip itself. After you arrange your time out of office, you have to prepare your home for your absence and make sure it's secure. Then there's figuring out what to pack, not to mention fitting it all into your suitcase.

But although travel requires hours of planning ahead, it's all easier to tackle once you've put together a clear list of to-dos. The tips below will make your vacation a walk in the park. Or, preferably, a walk on the beach.

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Packing list essentials most people don't think about

A few small additions to your suitcase can minimize hassle and maximize comfort when you're traveling. Here are some essentials you probably already have in your home. (If you're interested in bringing your computer or tablet on your trip, be sure to also check our list of must-have travel gadgets.)

1. Pack a reusable water bottle
With heat waves happening now, this one is a must — especially if you're not staying in an environment where free water is easily accessible. A hydration bladder (a pouch that fits in your backpack and sends water to your mouth via a long tube) is a handy option for more hiking-oriented trips, though keep in mind it's a little more complicated to clean. Either way, you need some sort of reusable vessel to keep you hydrated consistently. Otherwise you'll have to rely on buying water bottles, which is expensive in tourist hubs and not always feasible in more rural areas. Here's a list of our favorite water bottles for 2022. If your destination's tap water isn't drinkable, try a water bottle with a built-in filter.

2. Bring dryer sheets
Ironically, they're bad for your dryer. But dryer sheets will do wonders for your foul-smelling shoes. Bunch them up and stick them inside (or, for sandals, on top of the footbeds) before you go to bed. This will alleviate the stench that will inevitably accumulate after days of walking. Dryer sheets can also get rid of deodorant stains on clothes and flatten down your hair's flyaways. (Here are 20 unexpected ways that dryer sheets can come in handy.)

3. Don't forget plastic bags
Nothing fancy, just the disposable grocery bags you stuffed in the back of your pantry. While they're not the most luxurious of travel take-alongs, plastic bags prove their usefulness in a number of situations. You can fold and stuff your already-worn outfits into plastic bags to partition dirty laundry from the rest of your suitcase and keep it from stinking up the rest of your clothes. They can also offer some temporary storage for wet swimsuits and grubby shoes. Plus, if there's any chance you'll be grocery shopping on your trip, you can reuse those plastic shopping bags in countries that ban stores from providing them or require stores to charge extra for them.

Packing tips to fit more and travel easier
Once you've determined what to pack, next comes figuring out how to pack. Whether you're trying to squeeze your belongings into a compact carry-on or you're filling up a roomier suitcase you plan to check at the airport, packing strategically can maximize space in your luggage and make it easier to access the things you need most.

4. Fold, roll and cube your clothes
Every traveler has their preferred method of packing clothes: Some fold their garments, others roll them into logs and still others flatten them into packing cubes. We recommend mixing these three strategies. Fold your more structured, bulky clothes: jeans, trousers, formal dresses and button-downs. Then roll up the rest of your garments and stuff them into the remaining gaps in your suitcase. For some extra flattening down, squeeze some of those rolled clothes into packing cubes.

5. Prepare for TSA
To bring a carry-on through security, you'll need easy access to your electronics and liquids so you can place them on the conveyor belt. Stick them in the top layer or outer pocket of your suitcase (or your allotted personal item). Otherwise, you'll have to jumble your perfect packing as you dig around for your laptop, stalling the line behind you in the process.

6. Put the most important things in your carry-on
When you check your luggage, you run the risk of losing it. That's why your carry-on or personal item is the optimal place for the essentials that would be most difficult to replace: your wallet, contact lenses, glasses, medication, electronics or anything you would hate to be stuck without for a few days.

7. Track your bags
To give your luggage some extra protection from loss and theft, outfit both your carry-on and checked bag with tracking devices, like Tiles or Apple AirTags. Knowing your suitcases' exact location will certainly save you some headaches if something goes awry: AirTags enabled Ross Feinstein, of CNET's sibling site The Points Guy, to find his missing bag and board a connecting flight on time.

8. Leave luggage wiggle room if necessary
Is there a chance you'll hit the shops or bring back some souvenirs? As you're loading up your luggage, take into account any extra space you might need on the way back. You don't want to end up in a situation in which you've bought, say, a fabulous pair of pants at your destination, but your suitcase is so stuffed you have to consider sacrificing some other belongings in order to make them fit. (True story.)

Pre-vacation home checklist
Handling some quick chores before you leave will help ensure that you'll come back to find your home just as you left it. Check out our full list of pre-vacation household tasks.

9. Unplug your electronics
This will lower your energy bill and reduce the risk of electrical fires. Before you depart, unplug your appliances, lamps, chargers, routers, computers and TVs.

10. Lock your windows
In addition to triple-checking all your doors, make sure you secure your windows, the next easiest entry point for thieves. Better yet, a smart lock can alert you when a window is unlocked and allow you to lock it remotely.

11. Put timers on your lights
To make it look like you're home, plug light timers into your outlets or install a remotely controllable smart bulb. Set your indoor lights to turn on and off as they normally would, and set your outdoor lights to turn on at night.

12. Keep your plants alive while you're away
Don't doom them to wither in your absence. You can fashion a drip system out of a plastic water bottle by filling it with water, drilling some holes toward the top, turning it over and tucking it into the soil deep enough that the holes are covered. For big pots, water-filled wine bottles work well. (There's no need to drill any extra drainage holes: Just leave the bottle open.) For more ideas, check out our guide to helping your plants thrive while you're away.

13. Stay cool
It's possible to keep the summer heat out of your home without running up your electric bill. Close your shades if you're in a sunny area, and run a dehumidifier if your local weather calls for it. Set your thermostat 5 degrees higher than you normally keep it, or get a smart thermostat that you can set to vacation mode.

Figure out how your phone will work abroad
If you keep your phone's default settings while traveling abroad, it won't work the same way. At least, not without your provider slapping hefty international charges onto your phone bill.

14. Sort out your SIM situation
To get the full range of calling, SMS texting and data, you'll need to get another SIM card that's supported abroad. Some newer phones have eSIM technology that lets you do this digitally, but many still require you to physically remove your SIM card and replace it with another.

15. Know where to get a SIM if necessary
International airports typically have counters or self-serve kiosks where you can buy prepaid local SIM cards once you get to your destination. But if you'd rather figure it out in advance and have service right as your plane touches down, CNET has previously recommended KnowRoaming, which now offers eSIMs.

16. Let your contacts know what's happening
With a new phone number comes potential snafus you'll want to anticipate. If you don't want to deal with texting your contacts from a number they won't recognize, let them know you'll be going abroad and tell them to reach you on apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, which just use data.

17. Work around two-factor authentication obstacles
You might need to access services or accounts that require two-factor authentication to log in. Before you go, make sure the authentication method is set to email instead of your phone number.

Stash money safely while traveling
Your mind is often in a million places at once as you're traveling, so it's all too easy to let your guard down and lose track of your money. With a bit of planning ahead, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood of your funds getting lost or pickpocketed.

18. Don't be an easy target
Stuff your cash in a money belt or fanny pack, which makes it far more difficult to steal than a tote or the outer pocket of a backpack.

19. Hide your money
Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket... or all your funds in one place. Stick an extra card in your carry-on or some small bills in a second wallet. That way, if you lose one bag or wallet, you're not stuck penniless. (Just make sure you remember all your hiding places; maybe keep track of them in a password-protected note on your phone.)

Additional Info

  • Source CNET
Monday, 25 July 2022 11:10

Monkeypox virus and travel

Although The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern,” Globe Aware volunteers can be relieved to know it does not impact travel, according to health experts. Still it's important to learn the facts about this virus, and practice precaution.


 

Monkeypox virus declared a public health emergency: How does this impact travel?

Bill Fink
The Points Guy
July 23 2022

It’s official. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined monkeypox constitutes a global health emergency, calling it a “public health emergency of international concern” due to a multi-country outbreak.

But will it impact travel?

The short answer from the health experts we’ve talked to is “no,” but let’s dive into the facts.

According to the WHO, anyone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox or has signs and symptoms compatible with the virus infection should avoid any travel until they are no longer considered a public health risk.

Most of the nearly 17,000 monkeypox cases reported so far are in Europe.

Nearly 3,000 have been reported in the U.S., but the WHO and local doctors caution that these numbers may be much lower than actual figures due to underreporting.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest news on the disease and what impact it may have on global travel.

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What is the potential monkeypox impact on travel?

Although a monkeypox vaccine is available, there are no requirements to be vaccinated against it in order to travel. But travelers should be aware of areas with high infection rates. You can check this map to see rates by country.

“For most travelers, this should not cause alarm, but it is worth understanding the risk numbers in the travel destination,” says Dr. Jenny Yu from Healthline. (Healthline is owned by Red Ventures which also owns The Points Guy). “As this is a re-emerging disease, not all healthcare providers are familiar with diagnosis and treatment, which may delay diagnosis, something to consider when traveling. People should take the necessary precautions but should not panic from a travel standpoint.”

The U.K., Belgium and Germany, all with increasing monkeypox numbers, have issued 21-day quarantine recommendations for people diagnosed with the disease. However, such quarantines are thought to be inefficient for preventing its spread due to the virus’s long incubation period, especially when compared to COVID-19, according to a Cowen market analysis report.

Still, monkeypox “shouldn’t be an issue when traveling,” says New York-based Dr. Jake Deutsch, a former emergency room physician at Mt. Sinai Hospital who now runs a private practice focused on men’s health. Deutsch says most travelers shouldn’t worry, “unless you’re engaging in higher risk behavior while in countries with high infection rates.”

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a virus “characterized by a fever, swollen lymph nodes and a widespread rash,” according to a guide by Healthline. The monkeypox-induced rashes can cause many unsightly and sometimes painful lesions, particularly on the face and extremities.

The monkeypox disease was first identified in the 1950s among monkeys, with the first human case occurring in the Congo in the 1970s. Before the recent outbreak, the virus was mainly active in rural regions in central and western Africa.

Symptoms of monkeypox are similar (but milder) than those of smallpox. After contracting the virus, people may suffer from fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and chills within five to 21 days. Then the distinctive rash and lesions can appear 1-3 days later, primarily around the face, hands, feet and genitals.

Monkeypox symptoms “generally last two to four weeks and go away without treatment,” according to Healthline. There are potentially more dangerous complications in rare situations, leading to fatalities in 3% to 6% of cases in past outbreaks, according to the WHO.

However, WHO data also says the recent outbreak has only resulted in five deaths worldwide.

But in terms of the monkeypox outbreak, “what we’re seeing now is only the tip of the iceberg,” says Dr. Deutsch. He believes the numbers are being underreported due to the stigma around the illness and the fact that it can be sexually transmitted.

Help reduce the stigma of Monkeypox (MPV)! Anyone can get MPV, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation. Seek medical attention if you have a few or unexplained rash and have open conversations with your sexual partners about your status and theirs. pic.twitter.com/4w88Y9o37S
— Callen-Lorde Community Health Center (@CallenLorde) July 23, 2022

Plus, he says “we’re seeing it travel across borders for the first time … it’s expanding across Europe, in Spain, in the U.K., in Germany, everywhere people are going this summer, the virus is going, too.”

How can I avoid monkeypox?

Monkeypox spreads through direct contact and exchange of fluids between humans, or humans and animals. Respiratory droplets can spread the disease, but this is “very rare,” according to Dr. Deutsch. Blood, bodily fluids, the mucous from lesions, and even bedding and clothes infused with those substances can spread the virus, according to a CDC advisory.

To help lower your chances of catching monkeypox, the CDC strongly recommends these important steps:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people with a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels or clothing of a person with monkeypox.

General health recommendations apply as well: wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer when in a public setting. To be safe, avoid close contact with others and reduce skin-to-skin contact.

According to Dr. Deutsch and multiple studies, the virus has been expanding rapidly in the gay male community. “We’re trying to get the word out, educate higher risk people about the risks for spreading, about getting vaccinated and the viral treatments that are available,” he said.

No recommendations have been issued suggesting mask-wearing or vaccination for the general population related to monkeypox except in the case of healthcare workers directly dealing with patients or those exposed to it already. The U.S. is currently stockpiling both vaccines and antiviral treatments in case of more widespread and severe outbreaks.

Bottom line

While we don’t yet know all the facts about it and its full impact on travel, monkeypox has been spreading rapidly enough for the World Health Organization to declare it a public health emergency.

People should avoid close contact when interacting with someone who may have the disease and follow other WHO guidelines.

While there are currently no travel restrictions or requirements, stay tuned to The Points Guy, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for news. We are keeping a close eye on this developing story.

Additional reporting by Clint Henderson and Rosemarie Clancy..

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

Monsoon season may be here but that doesn't mean a lot of travel destinations have cooled down just yet. Globe Aware volunteers should be careful not to get overheated and follow some of these simple tips while traveling.


 How to keep cool if you have to travel during the record-breaking heatwave

Tips for staying cool in the heatwave as Brits are being urged not to travel unless it's absolutely necessary - we take a look at simple ways to cool down

TRAVEL
By Milo Boyd
Jul 18, 2022


Brits are being urged to avoid public transport in the extreme heat, but if you have to travel then there are some easy tips to help you keep safe and cool.

The UK is braced to endure its hottest ever day on record, with a temperature of 41C likely today or tomorrow.

The Met Office has issued a red extreme heat warning for much of England, from London and the south-east up to York and Manchester, while Brits have been advised not to travel if necessary.

If you do have to make a journey today or tomorrow - whether that be in the currently sweltering UK or in a hot country abroad - you should be careful not to get overheated.

Heatstroke and dehydration can be incredibly dangerous, and are made more likely when stuck on a cramped train or busy airport departure lounge.

If you are worried about the heat today and don't need to travel, then stay indoors, drink lots of water and follow these tips to keep cool.

If you do need to travel, then these bits of advice may be useful.

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Water is your friend

Make sure you drink as much water as possible and regularly wash your hands and face to keep your body temperature low.

As tempting as it might be, drinking alcohol and coffee is a sure-fire way to make yourself dehydrated.

If possible, travel next to or on bodies of water rather than on trains, tubes and buses, as the breeze from the water's surface will be cooler and wetter.

Wear cotton

When the temperatures are soaring the best fabrics you can wear are ones that retain water, keeping you wet and cool.

Quick drying synthetic fabrics are terrible in the heat and will offer little protection against the sun.

Cotton holds in moisture well, can flow and hang off the body, and provides against protection against the sun's UV rays if woven tightly enough.

Cool clothing includes loose-fitting outfits, tunics, A-line dresses, cropped trousers and natural fabric shirts and blouses, left untucked.

Electrolytes are key

However much water you're drinking, if your body can't keep it in, then it's not much use.

Water should be coupled with electrolytes, which maintain the balance between fluids inside and outside your cells.

Consuming salty potato crisps, sugary sweets, coconut water or an electrolyte tablet are all good ways to keep your levels up.

Wear a hat

A fairly obvious tip but a key one.

Keep the direct sunshine off your head is the best way to stop yourself from overheating, particularly when shaded areas aren't accessible during trips.

Keep your neck cool

Splashing water on your wrists is a great way to keep your body's core temperature low.

Equally, draping a wet towel or a gel wrap around your neck will also keep your body temperature down.

Wearing a hat with a broad brim and neck protector is also a smart move.

Plan when you travel

However prepared you are, if you're heading out in the blazing early sun, then you may overheat.

If you can, travel early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun hasn't had a chance to heat up the air too much.

The further away you are from when the sun is at its highest, the more shade there will be due to the sun's angle.

Check your accommodation

If you are off on a holiday or staying away from home for another reason, then make sure that your accommodation is suitable for the heat.

Hotels will be able to tell you if your room has air conditioning or a balcony to cool off in.

Having two windows on opposite sides of a room is a great asset, as they can both be opened to create a through flow.

Ask the hotel managers or whoever is running the accommodation whether they can provide you with a fan and light bedding.

It's always worth checking reviews before you travel to find out how others have dealt with the heat.

Choose your activities wisely

If you are on holiday during the heatwave and are keen to make the most of your trip, then be smart about how you do it.

Minimise the number of journeys you're making each day by clustering activities in certain areas, and avoid planning those outside without any shade for the height of the day.

Additional Info

  • Source The Mirror
Wednesday, 20 July 2022 11:56

50 greatest places of 2022

Globe Aware volunteers will be delighted to see we offer volunteer vacations at two of these locations, Zimbabwe and Bhutan! If you're looking for adventure abroad, while still making a positive impact on a community, book with us today!


World's 50 greatest places of 2022, according to TIME magazine

Maureen O'Hare
CNN
July 12, 2022

(CNN) — Get your credit card out and your favorite booking platforms at the ready: US magazine and news website TIME has just released its list of the world's 50 greatest places of 2022.

The list was compiled by its international network of correspondents and contributors, and, says TIME in a statement, "with an eye toward those offering new and exciting experiences."

The 50 destinations to make the cut include both classic big-hitters and less-explored spots, but what unites them is that they are "thriving, growing and changing," says TIME, "charting a path to economic recovery" and "investing in sustainability."

North America

In the United States, TIME is recommending the hip West Coast centers of Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, the Florida coastal cool of Miami, and Michigan's "Comeback City" Detroit. The winter skiing destination Park City, Utah, also gets a nod.

In Canada, Ontario capital Toronto and the little surfing town of Tofino, British Columbia, are the picks, and further north again, Illuissat, on Greenland's mainland, opens onto Disko Bay, the "Grand Canyon of the Arctic Circle."

The ever-popular beach destinations of Jamaica and Mexico's Riviera Nayarit also make the 2022 list.

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South America

The city of Salta, in Argentina's mountainous northwest, and the village of El Chaltén, in the country's Los Glaciares National Park, caught TIME's eye this year.

Chile's Rapa Nui -- better known as Easter Island -- and Ecuador's Galápagos Islands are two volcanic wonders to have made the list.

The buzzing metropolises of Bogotá, Colombia, and São Paulo, Brazil, are two more of TIME's urban recommendations.

Europe

In Britain, the bucolic charms of the English county of Devon and the town of Portree, on the Scottish Isle of Skye, get the thumbs up this year.

The Western European cities of Marseilles (France), Copenhagen (Denmark), Skellefteå (Sweden) and València (Spain) all receive a nod.

Then there's the Italian region of Calabria, the ancient Greek city of Thessaloniki, the Portuguese region of Alentejo and the archipelago of Madeira.

The little Czech ski resort of Dolni Morava and the Lithuanian fortress city of Kaunas make the list, as does the historic splendor of Turkish capital Istanbul.

Asia-Pacific

India's Kerala and Ahmedabad are among the Asian recommendations, as are the Japanese islands of Setouchi and Kyushu.

The South Korean capital of Seoul is a top tip, as is the Indonesian province of Bali and the central Philippines island of Boracay.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the port city of Fremantle both get nods, as does New Zealand's Queenstown, a hub for adventure sports on South Island.

Finally, Bhutan's Trans-Bhutan Trail and the historic Silk Roads of Uzbekistan are some of the less traveled ground in this year's picks.

Middle East

Qatar and its capital Doha have everyone's attention this year, due to hosting the 2022 World Cup this December, while the emerging adventure ports destination of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates also made the cut.

Africa

The Kenyan capital of Nairobi and the Rwandan capital of Kigali are TIME's urban picks from Africa. South Africa's Franschhoek, known for its wineries, and Zambia's Lower Zambezi National Park are also recommended.

Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park is the final selection from the continent.

The great beyond

For the most intrepid of travelers, TIME's 2022 picks also include the Arctic polar region and the International Space Station, which just makes the list criteria by being in low Earth orbit.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 13 July 2022 11:32

Monsoon travel tips

If you are not well-prepared for the upcoming monsoon season, then it could affect your overall experience abroad. Here's a curated a list of travel tips, do’s and don’ts for the monsoon travel for our Globe Aware volunteers.


Monsoon travel tips you must remember

1 Be Prepared

A rainy-day trip for some means looking out the car window and imagining themselves in an emotional Bollywood scene, and for some it’s the petrichor, must-inhale-the-vibe kind. The bottomline is, it is fun. Everything around you looks fresh and vibrant, you witness nature refresh itself and you in the process.

The sky may be overcast, the sound of distant thunder coming at regular intervals, and you are looking forward to reaching the destination of your choice. It's a different kind of fun travelling during the monsoon season.

But, if you are not well-prepared for the season, this could easily be one of the worst experiences as well. We don’t want you to go through that so we have curated a list of travel tips, do’s and don’ts for the monsoon travel.

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2 Check the weather forecast

Probably the most important thing in the list, the weather forecast. Always check the weather forecast for the day and the following day, depending on the nature of your trip. If the forecast says extreme weather conditions like heavy rainfall, hailstones, or storms, it’s best to stay put. Keep in mind, no destination is worth taking this kind of risk. If you are travelling to the hills, it is imperative that you check the weather forecast first, as there might be chances of landslides and cloudbursts in hilly areas.

3 First-aid and insect repellants

The weather has cleared and you can see that it’s the perfect time to pitch a tent, make sure that you have packed insect repellants. Monsoon is when a lot of pesky bugs come out, especially mosquitoes and leeches (depending on where you are). Also, make sure you have your first-aid kit fully stocked for any emergencies like cuts and scrapes. You do not want infection when you are out and about. Always carry ONLY physician-prescribed medicines.

4 Say No to street-food

It’s best to keep away from street-food during the monsoon season. There is a high chance of contaminated water during this season, and that could land you in some serious trouble. Avoid eating uncovered food, we have talked about unwanted insects coming out in large numbers during this season. If you are out hiking or camping, make sure you drink ONLY boiled or purified water. Think portable purifiers!

5 Pick the right footwear

We cannot stress enough on the importance of proper footwear for any occasion. Since we are talking about monsoon, two things to keep in mind: waterproof shoes with good grip and sturdy sandals. Both are very important for the season. Things can get slippery very soon on a rainy day and you want to have reliable waterproof shoes with a good grip. Of course, sturdy sandals over flipflops any day. For walking short distances, sturdy sandals are good and they will have better support than a flip flop and will dry faster too.

6 Synthetic over cottonwear

Nothing worse than having to pack wet clothes that will not only add to the weight of the bag, but also is a stinky business. Nobody likes the smell of a damp cloth. Synthetic clothes are a good choice for they are lighter in weight and are quick-drying too.

7 Waterproof everything

Yes, you need to waterproof everything. From your luggage to backpack to your devices, everything needs to have a waterproof cover. If you can’t find a waterproof cover for your bags, make sure you at least waterproof your belongings. Zip-lock bags, normal polybags or special waterproof pouches are easily available for your belongings.

8 Avoid stepping out during the rush hour

It’s the monsoon season and you don’t know when it will start to rain; to be on the safer side, avoid stepping out during the peak rush hour. There is nothing fun about being stuck in traffic for a long time when it is raining outside. Also, when it rains, especially in cities and big towns, traffic will come to a standstill because of waterlogging problems. The normal traffic time will get extended and you do not want to be stuck in traffic when that happens.

9 Raincoat is an essential item

We prefer raincoats over umbrellas just for the fact that it’s travel we are talking about and luggage space is always limited. A raincoat will not take a lot of space, it is super light, can be folded easily and tucked into any kind of space. Whereas, an umbrella, no matter how dry it can keep you, is a bit of a hassle to carry around. Though there are umbrellas that can be folded and tucked inside your bag easily, they will still not fully protect you and your backpack (if you are carrying one) like a raincoat will.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

Sometimes cancellations and delays are unavoidable, even for our seasoned Globe Aware volunteers. Here are ten great trips to help ease the frustration of air travel these days.


10 TRAVEL TIPS TO DEAL WITH FLIGHT DELAYS OR CANCELLATIONS

By SAM CHUI
JULY 11, 2022

I recently had 2 delays out of 3 flights taken on domestic U.S. trips. With a shortage of staff at airports and a sharp rebound in demand for air travel, I think no traveler can escape from flight disruption.

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Let's take a look at some stats on airport delays and airline cancellations:

Airports with most cancellations in Europe

  1. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport: 14,200 flights
  2. Frankfurt Airport: 8,600 flights
  3. London Heathrow: 8,200 flights
  4. London Gatwick: 6,800 flights
  5. Munich Airport: 6,400 flights
    *Flight cancellations between 1st April and 29th June

UK Flight Cancellations

  • Air France/KLM: 2,135 scheduled departures, 113 cancellations (5.3%)
  • EasyJet: 15,601 scheduled departures, 738 cancellations (4.7%)
  • British Airways: 11,590 scheduled departures, 419 cancellations (3.6%)
  • Lufthansa: 1,080 scheduled departures, 38 cancellations (3.5%)
  • Ryanair: 12,105 scheduled departures, 32 cancellations (0.3%)

Airline Delay and Cancellations in the US

US Flights Stats June 8-July 7:

  • Scheduled Flights: 782,267
  • Cancelled Flights: 19,640 (2.5%)
  • Delayed Flights: 179,468 (22.9%)

Cancellation and delay stats for the U.S. airlines (mainline flights)

  1. American Airlines: 93,040 scheduled flights, 4,358 cancelled (4.68%), 26,105 delayed (28%)
  2. Delta Air Lines: 86,689 scheduled flights, 2,678 cancelled (3%), 17,508 delayed (20%)
  3. United Airlines: 68,794 scheduled flights, 1,863 cancelled (2.7%), 15,404 delayed (22%)
  4. Southwest Airlines: 115,833 scheduled flights, 1,058 cancelled (0.91%), 33,615 delayed (29%)

Additional Info

  • Source SAM CHUI
Wednesday, 06 July 2022 09:02

Seven best things to see in Cusco

Cusco is a city in southeastern Peru, with great history and culture and is often called the “historic capital” of the country. Find out what beautiful sights our Globe Aware volunteers will have the chance to see on their volunteer vacation in and around this South American city.


Cusco highlights - 7 best things to see

July 4, 2022
Breaking Travel News

Cusco is a city in southeastern Peru, with great history and culture. It’s often called the “historic capital” of the country, as it was the capital of the Inca Empire, until the Spanish conquest. The best Cusco hotels are even built on colonial houses, experiencing a modern and classic colonial fusion.

The vast history and culture of the city and its proximity to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu have made Cusco one of the most visited cities in Peru. The Inca architecture is so precise and resistant that it has survived even major earthquakes, such as the one in 1950 that damaged and even toppled several of the colonial buildings. There are plenty of activities, and many places in and around the city to visit.

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1. Plaza de Armas
The historic center of Cusco, the Plaza de Armas, is a strategic place to start visiting Cusco. The best Cusco hotels are in the surroundings, as well as many other historic places in the vicinity. You can visit the church, and it’s especially recommended to have a drink in the bars or restaurants located in the square.

2. The Twelve-Angled Stone
Although a visit to a stone may seem irrelevant, this rock is a representation of the precision of Inca architecture. It’s considered an archaeological artifact and of national heritage. Inca architecture is so resistant to the passage of time and natural disasters thanks to structures like this one, as the twelve angles of the stone fit precisely into each of the stones around it. It is currently located on one of the walls of the archbishop’s palace.

3. Casa Concha Museum
Also known as the Machu Picchu Museum, while this museum is not well known, it holds a collection of over three hundred pieces and artifacts that were returned by Yale University, a dynamic exhibit with photos from National Geographic, an Inca house, interactive videos, and even an interactive map of Machu Picchu. Most of the Inca artifacts found in archeological excavations are located at this museum.

4. ChocoMuseo
If you are looking to learn about cocoa and chocolate, there is no better place. In addition to visiting the museum about the history of chocolate and the plantations, there are activities to make your own chocolate, cooking classes, tours to the chocolate plantations, workshops, and a store with a great variety of chocolates to try. Definitely a very different museum from what we are used to.

5. Sacred Valley
Beginning the visit to the surroundings of Cusco, the best place to start is the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Now part of the Cusco region, this valley is full of small towns like Chinchero, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, also Maras with its more than three thousand white basins where salt is extracted by evaporation, and Moray, with circular agricultural terraces.

6. Machu Picchu
Definitely, the best place to admire the grandeur of the Inca empire. Hidden among green mountains and built of huge blocks of stone, it’s much better appreciated from above to really see “the whole picture”. Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and chosen as one of the New 7 Wonders of the Modern World. Its architecture is a classic Inca style, mainly made of polished dry-stone walls.

7. Rainbow Mountain
Its official name is Vinicunca, famous for its unique coloring. The mixture of quartz, sand, clay, phyllites, calcium, iron and other minerals are arranged in different layers that make the mountain look different colors at different angles. Red, yellow, green, orange, and even some shades of blue are some of the colors that can be perceived. It’s recommended to visit in late summer when the weather is drier, and the colors are more vivid.

Additional Info

  • Source Breaking Travel News

Just because COVID-19 testing is no longer required for travelers bound for the U.S., that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack a few COVID-19 tests. There are still plenty of good reasons to for our Globe Aware volunteers, find out what they are!


 

Why I’m still traveling with COVID-19 tests

Kyle Olsen
The Points Guy

After two years, the COVID-19 testing requirement for travel to the U.S. has finally been dropped, which means there’s one less hurdle for international travelers. However, if you’re like me, you still have several unused eMed proctored tests. Is it time to stash them in the back of the closet?

That’s not what I’m doing. Here’s why:

There’s still a risk of getting COVID-19

One of the most obvious reasons I still travel with COVID-19 tests is because the pandemic is far from over. In the U.S., we’re still averaging around 100,000 cases per day.

Travelers need to be prepared, which is why I’m thinking ahead. I certainly hope to never catch COVID-19 on a trip, but it could happen. Smart travelers need to be ready for that very real possibility. If I test positive, I will want to test myself regularly until I’m once again testing negative. Because of that, I need to carry at least three or four COVID-19 tests.

When I travel, I take at least one eMed proctored test and my NHS Trace & Test box, which was given to me for free during my last trip to London. The NHS box is portable, at about six inches long, and it includes about half a dozen tests.

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Some countries still ask for negative COVID-19 test results

As you know, each country has specific COVID-19 requirements. COVID-19 testing requirements still remain in place throughout the world, particularly for unvaccinated travelers. Even if you plan to travel to a country that doesn’t have a COVID-19 testing requirement, your plans could change. With a proctored test on hand, you have additional flexibility to travel as you please.

You definitely don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you can’t board a plane because you don’t have a negative COVID-19 test result on hand.

The requirement could come back at any point

Perhaps the most obvious reason to travel with a COVID-19 proctored test is that the testing requirement could come back at any time without significant advance notice — even though it might be unlikely. And there’s a chance that if the testing requirement returns, there would be a shortage of COVID-19 proctored tests.

As a result, when my fellow U.S.-bound travelers scurry to get tested, I’ll be ready to go.

Bottom line

Just because COVID-19 testing is no longer required for travelers bound for the U.S., that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack a few COVID-19 tests. I wouldn’t go out and buy new proctored tests today. However, if you still have some unused tests, there’s no harm in throwing one into your backpack before you leave for the airport.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

Recently South Africa's government made the decision to drop all of the country’s remaining pandemic-era restrictions. For Globe Aware volunteers, the primary change is the removal of vaccination and testing requirements for entry into South Africa, but other revisions include the lifting of the nation’s indoor mask mandates and the limits on gathering sizes, and the elimination of COVID-19 border checks.


 

South Africa Drops All Remaining COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

LAURIE BARATTI
JUNE 23, 2022
Travel Pulse

On Wednesday evening, South Africa’s government made the decision to drop all of the country’s remaining pandemic-era restrictions, after the Presidential Coordinating Council and Cabinet determined that they’d served their purpose and were no longer needed.

For travelers, the primary change is the removal of vaccination and testing requirements for entry into South Africa, but other revisions include the lifting of the nation’s indoor mask mandates and the limits on gathering sizes, and the elimination of COVID-19 border checks.

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“Today is a very historic day as we have reached a turning point since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the world and in the country,” Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla said today in an official statement. His repeal of the last three COVID-era regulations marks the end of a 26-month-long period defined by state-led management of the global pandemic.

Welcoming the news on behalf of South African Tourism, the national tourism agency’s Acting CEO Themba Khumalo said, “It’s time to step into a brave new world.” In its reaction statement, the destination marketing organization called the move “a step in the right direction” and presaged that it will, “significantly benefit the entire tourism sector value chain.”

“As custodians of tourism, we believe that the end of the restrictions is the tonic the sector needs to accelerate the rebound to pre-pandemic tourist arrival numbers and profitability levels,” South African Tourism said in a statement.

Two years prior to the pandemic’s onset, the travel and tourism sector generated 1.5 million jobs and contributed R425.8 billion (US$26.62 billion) to the nation’s economy, representing 8.6 percent of the country’s total economic activity. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s 2018 annual review, that made South Africa's the largest tourism economy in the entire African continent.

Per the country’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, tourism has already been identified as a critical factor when it comes to rebooting the nation’s economy. The abolition of these final restrictions effectively gives South African Tourism the green light to “go full steam” in implementing measures aimed at regaining the sector’s lost ground.

It also means that constraints placed on live social events, business meetings, conferences, trade shows and exhibitions for the past two-plus years will finally be a thing of the past, making way for the return of delegates, exhibitors and business travelers from around the globe, helping to kickstart activity across a variety of other industries.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse
Wednesday, 29 June 2022 07:23

Traveling tips for July Fourth

Nearly 48 million Americans are planning to travel this Independence Day weekend and setting expectations now and planning ahead can help ease the blow of spending more time and money on the trip. Here are five things Globe Aware volunteers should know before heading to the airport for the Fourth of July and beyond.


 

Traveling for July Fourth? Here are 5 things to know before flying, driving this weekend.

Eve Chen
USA TODAY
June 28, 2022

Flight cancellations, high gas prices and inflation have already soured countless vacations this summer.

With no quick fixes in sight and nearly 48 million Americans planning to travel at least 50 miles from home this Independence Day weekend, according to AAA, the holiday weekend could feel extra long in more ways than one. Setting expectations now and planning ahead can help ease the blow of spending more time and money on the trip than planned months ago.

Here are five things travelers should know before heading to the airport or hitting the road for the Fourth of July and beyond.

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1. Arrive at the airport even earlier than usual

The Transportation Security Administration and airlines recommend passengers arrive at airports at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights on a regular basis.

Even more time is needed to navigate airports and get through security around holidays, but that's especially true now that "revenge travelers" are finally taking trips they put off during the pandemic. TSA screened 2.45 million travelers last Friday. That's the most for any day since February 2020, before COVID-19 shut leisure travel down.

2. Know rights and benefits when flights are canceled or delayed

Travelers should check their flight status well before leaving for the airport. If their flight is canceled for any reason or "significantly delayed" and they choose not to take a different flight, airline customers are entitled to full refunds per Department of Transportation guidelines.

Some airlines may offer travelers who stick with them meal vouchers or hotel stays, depending on the circumstances of the disruption, but they're not required to refund incidental expenses.

Tickets purchased with a credit card may have some trip protection benefits built-in. Travelers should check with their credit card companies instead of assuming they have to eat all the costs out of pocket.

Travel insurance also covers extra expenses due to cancellations and unexpected delays, but it may be too late to purchase last-minute coverage for this weekend.

3. Pack essentials in carry-on luggage

When flights are delayed or luggage gets lost, the last thing travelers need is to be without necessities like medication or even diapers and phone chargers. Pack essentials in carry-on bags in case waits at the airport go longer than planned.

4. Plan to spend more money, especially on gas

The price of gasoline may be ticking down, but it's still high. Tuesday's national average was $4.88 per gallon of regular unleaded, according to AAA. That's less than the $4.97 average a week earlier but significantly more than drivers paid over Memorial Day weekend, when the national average was $4.60.

Just over 50% of respondents surveyed by the travel planning site The Vacationer say gas prices will affect their July Fourth travel plans. And gas prices aren't the only thing going up. Inflation is touching just about everything in travel and elsewhere.

5. Hit the road early

Roads will be busiest Thursday and Friday afternoon and evening, as well as Saturday afternoon, according to transportation analysis provider INRIX and AAA.

Traffic is expected to be light all day Sunday and Monday. Travelers who can't wait until then should aim to drive during off peak hours:

  • Thursday: Before 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m.
  • Friday: Before 10 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Saturday: Before noon or after 7 p.m.

Additional Info

  • Source USAToday

The Indian government is considering doing away with the Air Suvidha portal as travel restrictions ease worldwide, a change that will make entry easier for visitors, including Globe Aware volunteers. The Health Ministry has stated they will review the possible changes in August.


COVID-19: India considers dropping Air Suvidha as global travel restrictions ease

Health Ministry to review programme in August

Khaleej Times
June 19, 2022

The Indian government is considering doing away with the Air Suvidha portal as travel restrictions ease worldwide.

"We have written to the Health Ministry seeking removal of Air Suvidha requirements given that it could add to the convenience of flying as international traffic grows. But the Health Ministry has replied saying they will review the programme in August and decide on this," a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official told The Indian Express.

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However, the decision may be at least two months away as the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare monitors the international Covid-19 numbers.

Introduced in August 2020, the Air Suvidha portal mandates travellers from overseas to register before arriving at an Indian airport. This allows the government to determine a passenger's vaccination status and if they are arriving from a high-risk location.

However, passengers have complained that the portal was down several times and subsequently being denied boarding at foreign airports.

Additional Info

  • Source Khaleej Times

Thailand is lifting a pre-arrival registration requirement for foreign visitors and it's current outdoor mask mandate would be dropped as of July 1 except in crowded venues. Globe Aware volunteers should still pack masks for their volunteer vacation in case of changes in regulations.


Thailand drops registration for visitors, outdoor mask rule

Thailand is lifting a pre-arrival registration requirement for foreign visitors that was seen as onerous and a drag on the recovery for a tourism industry battered by the coronavirus pandemic

By The Associated Press
June 17, 2022

BANGKOK -- Thailand is lifting a pre-arrival registration requirement for foreign visitors that was seen as onerous and a drag on the recovery for its ailing tourism industry.

The government's COVID-19 center also said Friday that an outdoor mask mandate would be dropped as of July 1 except in crowded venues. The mask mandate was not controversial in Thailand and generally obeyed.

Thailand began gradually easing entry requirements late last year. But through April, it still required even fully vaccinated travelers to undergo RT-PCR tests upon arrival and stay in a government-approved hotel for one night until the results were known.

Registering for the “Thailand Pass” required online copies of vaccination documents, insurance policies and other documents to be submitted, after which visitors would receive a QR code for use during travel. The requirement had already been dropped for Thais and will be dropped for foreign visitors on July 1.

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The registration process — beset at times by delays and glitches — was seen as discouraging tourists to Thailand, where the lucrative tourism sector was battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Arriving foreigners must still show proof they have been vaccinated or provide negative COVID-19 test results, the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration announced. But a requirement to hold an insurance policy has been dropped.

Many countries in Southeast Asia count on tourism as an important source of revenue, and in the past few months have eased their entry requirements.

Thai health officials said Friday 1,967 new cases and 19 deaths related to COVID-19 were confirmed in the previous 24 hours. The country has had more than 4.4 million cases and 30,422 fatalities since the pandemic began.

Additional Info

  • Source AP

Costa Rica has long been the region’s most popular destination for Globe Aware volunteers! Our programs there showcase the land's abundant biodiversity, vast rainforests and emphasizes sustainability, making it the perfect volunteer vacation to post-pandemic.


Why everyone is travelling to Costa Rica right now

You’re not the only one whose feed has been swamped with rainforest snaps in recent months

By Anna Prendergast
Friday 10 June 2022
Time Out England

Strung between Nicaragua and Panama like a pendant on Central America’s isthmus chain of countries, Costa Rica has long been the region’s most popular destination for travellers from the USA. But if you’ve noticed your Instagram feed increasingly full of friends geo-tagging Costa Rica and returning home with tales of its tropical climate, endless coastlines, extraordinary encounters with wildlife and epic adventures, you’re not alone. With its abundant biodiversity, vast protected areas and emphasis on education as a damage prevention tool, it’s not just a pioneer of ecotourism but an industry leader. Here’s why it’s become the perfect antidote to pandemic-induced ennui.

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1. It’s doing its bit for the planet
Costa Rica works hard to protect its environment: not least because it’s why so many bird-watchers, adventure-seekers and whale-spotters visit in the first place. In 2019, the country launched plans to decarbonise its economy (with tourism alone representing 13.5 percent of GDP) by 2050. In 2021, the protected marine reserve of Cocos Island National Park grew 27 times in size. And in 2022, the suburb of Curridabat gave citizenship to bees, trees and plants. Around 98 percent of Costa Rica’s energy has come from renewable sources since 2014, and its well-rounded approach to protecting the environment has attracted tourists who want to have a positive impact as well as a positive experience.

2. We’re craving a sense of adventure
Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to mean taking the longest zip line in Latin America (although you can, at Monteverde’s Aventura Canopy Tour). Post-pandemic, our comfort zones shrunk to the size of our living rooms – so it could just involve talking to a stranger or practising your Spanish. With many dirt tracks and some tricky terrain, even driving a car can feel like an adventure here, but there’s also a phenomenal range of landscapes that offer up opportunities for hiking active volcanoes in La Fortuna (we recommend the Arenal 1968 Trail), surfing the country’s best breaks in Santa Teresa (beginners should head to Playa Hermosa) and scuba diving on the Caribbean coast (join Diving with a Purpose for a truly eye-opening underwater experience).

3. You can get stuck in with locals
It’s increasingly clear how much we can learn from indigenous cultures and communities that live in harmony with the land, and travel itineraries reflect that growing curiosity. From Cielo Lodge’s craft workshops, where you can learn to make a traditional Boruca mask, to restaurant Sikwa’s kitchen, which sources its ingredients from Bribri farmers, there are plenty of ways to connect with native communities. Montana Tours offers an immersive day out in a Maleku village, where you can watch dance performances and learn about medicinal plants, while hotel Olas Verdes’s Pack for a Purpose programme invites guests to bring much-needed school supplies.

4. It’s made for longer, slower trips
The most intuitive way to travel in 2022 is longer, slower, smarter. Post-Covid, people are prioritising authentic experiences over instant gratification: from beach clean-ups with the local community in Puerto Viejo to volunteering on a permaculture farm in Puntarenas, many experiences in Costa Rica allow you to aid conservation, connect with nature and meet locals lifting up their community. Restrictions on our movement during the pandemic has also inspired ‘revenge travel’, whereby we want to make the most of our annual leave and the ability to work remotely. Time your trip so that you can minimise flights – British Airways operates direct flights between November and May – and make the most of public transport when you arrive.

5. Remote working is the new normal
Ever wanted to run your business from the beach? Last year, Costa Rica launched a new digital nomad visa that allows remote workers, business owners and freelancers to spend longer in the country than a standard tourist visa. The longer a traveller stays in one place, the better their spending is distributed throughout the community. Hostel-hotel hybrids such as Selina, which has six locations in Costa Rica, offer networking nights, co-working spaces and social events for digital nomads. Meanwhile, a handful of new spaces that are angled towards remote workers who want a residential community are springing up, such as Santa Teresa’s Yoko Village – launching next year – which aims to help inspire balance between productivity and wellbeing.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Time Out

Globe Aware volunteers should know that the Biden administration has lifted its requirement that international air travelers to the U.S. take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights. The CDC may reevaluate the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and that it could be reinstated if a troubling new variant emerges.


US lifts COVID-19 test requirement for international travel

By ZEKE MILLER
AP
JUNE 10 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is lifting its requirement that international air travelers to the U.S. take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights, easing one of the last remaining government mandates meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A senior administration official said Friday that the mandate will expire Sunday at 12:01 a.m. EDT, adding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined it is no longer necessary.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to preview the formal announcement, said that the agency would reevaluate the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and that it could be reinstated if a troubling new variant emerges.

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The Biden administration put in place the testing requirement last year, as it has moved away from restrictions that banned nonessential travel from several dozen countries — most of Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Iran — and instead focus on classifying individuals by the risk they pose to others. It was coupled with a requirement that foreign, non-immigrant adults traveling to the United States need to be fully vaccinated, with only limited exceptions.

In November, as the highly transmissible omicron variant swept the world, the Biden administration toughened the requirement and required all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to test within a day of travel to the U.S.

Airline and tourism groups have been pressing the administration for months to eliminate the testing requirement, saying it discourages people from booking international trips because they could be stranded overseas if they contract the virus on their trip.

Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, called lifting the testing rule “another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States.”

While domestic U.S. travel has returned nearly to pre-pandemic levels, international travel — which is very lucrative for the airlines — has continued to lag. In May, U.S. international air travel remained 24% below 2019 levels, with declines among both U.S. and foreign citizens, according to trade group Airlines for America.

Many other countries have lifted their testing requirements for fully vaccinated and boosted travelers in a bid to increase tourism.

In February, travel groups argued that the testing requirement was obsolete because of the high number of omicron cases already in every state, higher vaccination rates, and new treatments for the virus.

“I’m glad CDC suspended the burdensome coronavirus testing requirement for international travelers, and I’ll continue to do all I can to support the strong recovery of our hospitality industry,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., said in a statement.

The requirement for a negative COVID-19 test before flying to the U.S. dates to January 2021. It is the most visible remaining U.S. travel restriction of the pandemic era.

In April, a federal judge in Florida struck down a requirement that passengers wear masks on planes and public transportation, saying that the CDC had exceeded its authority. The Biden administration is appealing that ruling, saying it aims to protect the CDC’s ability to respond to future health emergencies.

Despite ending the testing requirement, the CDC will continue to recommend COVID-19 testing prior to air travel of any kind as a safety precaution, according to the senior administration official.

Travelers found creative ways to avoid the rule. This spring, several Canadian teams in the National Hockey League flew to cities near the border, then took buses into the U.S. to avoid the risk of losing players who tested positive.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Travel industry officials have recently pressed the Biden administration to end its requirements that vaccinated international travelers take a coronavirus test before flying to the United States. Currently, all travelers, including Globe Aware volunteers, need to fulfill this requirement when returning to the states from their volunteer vacation.


 

US airlines, travel industry push White House to end pre-travel testing

Gregory Wallace and Pete Muntean
CNN
May 31, 2022

(CNN) — White House officials met Tuesday with travel industry officials, who pressed the Biden administration to end its requirements that vaccinated international travelers take a coronavirus test before flying to the United States.

Airlines for America, representing major US air carriers, and the US Travel Association, representing the broad travel and tourism industry, said they argued the requirement does not match the current threat from Covid-19.

They also say the requirement is harming the US economy.

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"Quite frankly, the only impact the pre-departure testing requirement is having is a chilling effect on an already fragile economy here in the U.S.," Airlines for America chief Nick Calio said in a statement after the meeting.

Roger Dow of the US Travel Association said in a separate statement that while restrictions on many other businesses have been lifted, "the travel industry remains disproportionately harmed by this requirement."

"Other countries with whom we directly compete for global travelers have removed their pre-departure testing requirements and reopened their tourism economies, putting the U.S. at a serious competitive disadvantage for export dollars," Dow said.

Airlines for America said its members -- including American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines -- believe lifting the requirements would lead more foreigners to visit the US.

The trade association says that in mid-May, domestic travel came within 7 percentage points of pre-pandemic levels, but international travel lagged at 14% below normal.

The industry has criticized the policy as out of date for months.

Some medical experts have also questioned the policy's utility.

Testing international arrivals doesn't make much sense to Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

"I've been bemused about that for a long time because we've got plenty of Covid here! It's not as though we're trying to keep Covid out," Schaffner told CNN Travel in March. "It's here already."

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 08 June 2022 11:43

Summer travel costs rising

Worried about rising flight prices this summer? Globe Aware volunteers can manage their budget and expectations on summer travel with these helpful tips!


 

What to know about summer travel with rising costs

Manage your budget and expectations on summer travel.

By Kelly Mccarthy
June 01, 2022, 9:09 AM
ABC News

With more travelers ready to take to the skies this season, the Transportation Security Administration predicts a summer of record-breaking proportions.

According to the agency, it could screen more than 3 million people in a day with the summer surge demand.

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Airfare, ticket prices soar

Scott Keyes, who dedicates his life to helping travelers find cheap flights with his brand, Scott's Cheap Flights, told "Good Morning America" that "It's not just your imagination -- summer flights right now are indeed extraordinarily expensive."

His suggestion? Book sooner than later.

"Don't wait to book your flights until the very last minute, because last-minute flights are generally going to get more expensive, not less expensive," he said.

One family said their recent cross-country trip to California was astronomical compared to years past.

"A flight [to] the San Francisco for us would typically be about $1,600. And it was about $2,800," Karen Brennan told "Good Morning America."

Brennan said she saved and paid for the flights, "but then all the hotels and everything else that would normally be in our usual budget just added into it."

According to experts, the July 4 holiday is the most expensive summer weekend to fly with domestic airfares averaging $412.

When to Find Cheaper Summer Deals

Waiting until the end of summer can save travelers.Hayley Berg, an economist for the flight savings and booking app Hopper, told "GMA."

"If you're willing to wait until late August to take your summer vacation. You can save as much as $118 off of domestic airfare and more than $100 off a three-night hotel stay," she said.

Destinations That Don't Break the Bank

Berg also said that some of the most expensive stays include Seattle, San Diego and Portland. But some less expensive places include Houston, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

Other Money Saving Tips

For families, try booking just one ticket at a time, rather than all together, Keyes suggested .

"A few months ago, we had a flight from Portland to New York, and we were searching for four tickets. And those tickets came back at $187 per person," Keyes said. "When I reduced it down to one ticket, all of a sudden the price dropped to $113 per person."

Keyes said what's happening is "the airline will only sell you four tickets if they are in the same -- 'fare bucket' -- so maybe they only had three tickets available at that $113 rate. And so by searching for four tickets, I got bumped up to $187 rate."

Another savings option is to try searching for one-way ticket fares. While one airline may have a good offer for your departure, another airline could have a good option for the return flight. Once you book, travelers can periodically go back and check the flight's current price, so if it drops you can call the airline and ask to get a credit.

Additional Info

  • Source ABC World News Tonight
Thursday, 02 June 2022 11:28

Free COVID rapid tests are available

Globe Aware volunteers can stock up on COVID-19 test kits. This past May, the Biden administration announced that it will provide eight more home test kits free to any U.S. household that wants them.


 

More free COVID rapid tests are available. Here’s how to get yours

BY JON HEALEY
MAY 17, 2022
LA TIMES


Want to stock up on COVID-19 test kits? The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it will provide eight more home test kits free to any U.S. household that wants them.

The offer, like the one the administration made in January, comes with no strings attached. You can order the kits online or by phone, and the kits will be delivered to any address in the United States, in U.S. territories, on U.S. military bases and at diplomatic installations.

The only restriction is that each household is limited to eight tests this go-around, on top of up to eight mailed previously.

Although documented COVID cases remain far below the peak they hit in January, they have been rising nationally and in Los Angeles County, along with hospitalizations. The country recently recorded its 1 millionth death from a pandemic that has lingered for more than two years.

That’s why L.A. County health officials are urging residents to don masks indoors again and why the administration is urging people to continue testing themselves. Response to the administration’s previous offer of free kits wasn’t exactly overwhelming, though — according to the White House, more than 70 million households ordered kits online, out of about 130 million households across the U.S.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest offer of free test kits.

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How do I order them?
The drill is the same as with the last round of free test kits. The easiest way is to visit COVID.gov/tests, where you can place an order through the U.S. Postal Service. The only information you have to provide is your name and address.

It’s important to specify your apartment or unit number to avoid running afoul of the limit on orders per household. If you do have trouble getting tests because you share a residence with other households, you can call the postal service at (800) 275-8777 or ask for help online.

And if you can’t go online or need the information in a different language, you can call (800) 232-0233 (TTY (888) 720-7489) any day of the week between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Pacific time to get help in more than 150 languages. The Disability Information and Access Line can also assist people with disabilities with their orders; you can reach DIAL by email at DIAL@usaginganddisability.org or by phone at (888) 677-1199 Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time.

The kits will come in two packages with four tests in each. Not only are the tests free, but there is no charge for shipping. The White House says the postal service has delivered most kits within 48 hours of receiving an order.

If you didn’t order tests before, you can still order them now. For answers to frequently asked questions about the free test program, go to covid.gov/tests/faq.

People with health insurance can also be reimbursed for up to eight tests per month — and in some cases obtain the tests with no out-of-pocket costs. Check with your insurer to find out whether any local pharmacies are offering tests with no up-front cost and if not, how to submit a claim for reimbursement.

What kind of tests are they?
The kits contain antigen tests, which look to see whether a sample taken from your nostrils contains a protein that binds to the coronavirus’ RNA. They deliver results quickly and at low cost — in stores, boxes of two tests cost between $16 and $24 — but the more expensive molecular tests can detect lower amounts of the coronavirus in your system.

Antigen tests have proven to be as good as molecular tests at avoiding false positive results. And according to the CDC, these tests are also just as good when it comes to detecting COVID-19 in someone who is showing symptoms of the disease, such as a cough, a fever and a sore throat.

Where the tests fall short, the CDC warns, is with people who have the virus but show no symptoms, especially if they’re in the early stages of infection and may not yet have enough of a viral load to infect others. The agency recommends that people perform a second antigen test a few days after the first one, which is why the kits are sold as two-packs.

The tests don’t last forever; the kits come with expiration dates printed on the box. But the postal service noted that the CareStart branded tests distributed earlier this year have been approved for three additional months past their printed expiration dates by the Food and Drug Administration.

When should I take a test?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list five possible triggers for taking a COVID test:

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If you know or suspect you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 (in which case you should test yourself five days afterward).
  • If your school, workplace or other group setting is testing to screen for infections.
  • Before and after you travel.
  • When you’re asked by a healthcare professional or public health official to take a test.

One problem on that first point, though, is that COVID shares a number of symptoms with colds, allergies and the flu. The Mayo Clinic has an online guide to help you sort among all three. The Times offered this rundown of the differences between allergy and COVID symptoms. And here is the CDC’s guide to distinguishing between COVID and the flu.

Additional Info

  • Source LA Times
Wednesday, 01 June 2022 11:19

COVID-19 Testing for Travel

COVID-19 testing can make travel safer for our Globe Aware volunteers. Read on strategies to follow before, during, and after your volunteer vacation.


COVID-19 Testing for Travel: If, When, Where, and How

COVID-19 testing can make travel safer — but you need to do it right. Here, experts weigh in on strategies to follow before, during, and after a trip.

By Salma Abdelnour Gilman
Everyday Health
May 27, 2022

Test before you leave home, experts say — as close to the date of your departure as possible.

It’s the third summer of the pandemic, and by now we know one thing: If you're traveling, you may need to ponder if, when, where, and how to get a test for COVID-19.

If you're an American flying to another country, you will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test (or documentation of recent recovery from COVID-19) before you can board a plane back to the United States.

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Plus you might need or want to get tested for COVID-19 once or multiple times while you’re away. This will depend on where you’re going, what you’re doing, whom you’ll be spending time with, and how you feel day to day.

Generally speaking, the higher the COVID-19 rates at your destination, the more likely testing will be part of your travel experience. With infections once again on the rise in many states and other countries, it’s important to stay informed — and testing-ready.

“A lot of things are changing very quickly,” says David Banach, MD, MPH, a hospital epidemiologist at UConn Health in Farmington, Connecticut. “I think the key is to be alert to what’s happening right before you travel.”

Here, doctors and other expert sources offer advice on how and when to test, and how to keep yourself and those around you safe no matter where you travel.

1. Well Before You Leave Home, Get Up to Speed on Your Destination
Especially for international travel, you’ll want to do your research to learn the latest COVID-19 entry regulations and figure out a strategy.

Many countries, such as England and Mexico, currently have no COVID-related entry rules in effect, either involving testing or vaccination.

But if you plan to travel to France from the United States and are unvaccinated, you'll need to show proof of either a negative PCR test taken less than 72 hours before departure or a negative antigen (rapid) test administered less than 48 hours prior to your flight.

The only way to get out of this testing requirement is to show documentation of recent recovery from COVID-19 or of a medical exemption from vaccination.

2. Rules or No Rules, Consider Testing Before You Travel
Regardless of the regulations at your destination, “Generally a cautious approach would be to test before traveling,” says Dr. Banach.

The CDC advises anyone traveling within the United States or internationally to “consider getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than three days) before your trip.”

Should you get a PCR test, or is an antigen test or at-home test just as good? “The increased sensitivity of the PCR test provides a higher level of reassurance,” says Banach.

3. Pack At-Home Tests in Case You Start Feeling Sick While You’re Away
Bring a stash of at-home testing kits with you so it’s more convenient to do a quick check during your trip. “When you travel, if you develop any symptoms, you’ll want to have ready access to tests,” says Luis Ostrosky, MD, the chief of infectious diseases with UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.

“You should definitely test when you have the slightest symptoms,” he adds. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘I thought it was just allergies.’”

He explains that FDA-authorized at-home test kits are good at detecting COVID-19 in people who have symptoms, such as sore throat or cough. If your at-home test is positive, you’ve got COVID-19.

There is a higher chance of false negatives with at-home kits, meaning your test result tells you that you are not infected when in fact you are. Don’t let a negative result from a single at-home test give you a false sense of security, Dr. Ostrosky emphasizes.

To increase accuracy, “We recommend retesting a couple of times,” he says. That’s why kits generally contain two tests, to be used 24 to 48 hours apart.

4. Find Out Where You Can Get a PCR Test at Your Destination
If you’re experiencing symptoms but test negative on multiple home tests, it’s best to get a PCR test too.

Plus, if you’re feeling perfectly fine but want to be sure you’re infection-free — because you’re planning to spend time with an elderly person at risk of severe COVID-19, for instance — you may want to get a PCR test on top of taking other precautions like masking.

For domestic travelers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site can point you to a testing location near you anywhere in the United States.

If you’re traveling internationally, you might want to do some digging ahead of time. A quick internet search may be all you need to find a PCR testing site, or the staff at your hotel might be able to point you to a local hospital, urgent care center, or other testing location.

Make sure to find out if your insurance will cover the test, or expect to pay out of pocket.

5. If You’re an American Traveling Abroad, Be Prepared to Test Before Boarding Your Flight Home
Anyone flying home to the United States from a different country needs to show a negative test taken no more than one day before departure, or proof of recent recovery from COVID-19; check the CDC site for more info.

In many international destinations, local pharmacies administer antigen tests and provide the documentation you’ll need for the airline. Airports may also offer tests, but factor in time in case you have to wait in line.

As another option, you can use an at-home test linked to telehealth services. With these types of tests, a proctor watches over a video call while you test yourself; you then receive proof of the result via an app.

This is the only type of self-test that meets CDC requirements for reentry to the States, so you might want to pack one in your luggage and download the app before departing on your trip.

Among the most widely used choices are Abbott’s BinaxNOW home tests paired with telehealth services by eMed (note: Everyday Health’s chief health and medical editor, Patrice Harris, MD, FAPA, is eMed’s cofounder and CEO) and Ellume home tests accompanied by video supervision from Azova.

6. Consider Whether You Should Test Again on Arrival Home
Should you test when you get back from your trip? The CDC recommends you do so in certain scenarios, even if you don’t have symptoms (as long as you haven’t had COVID-19 in the past 90 days).

“Get tested after travel if your trip involved situations with greater risk of exposure, such as being in crowded places while not wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator,” the agency advises.

You also want to think about what you’ll be doing once you’re home, and the likelihood that if you’re infected you might spread the virus to other people. “Will you be engaging in group activities? With others at higher risk? There are a lot of factors,” says Banach.

Note that any infection you may have picked up while in transit could spread to others even before virus levels rise high enough for an at-home or rapid test to detect, so plan your first few days at home accordingly.

7. Practice COVID-19 Safety Throughout Your Trip, and After You Get Home
COVID-19 testing won’t keep you from getting COVID. You still need to practice other key safety measures — including staying up-to-date on your vaccines and boosters, masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene — to help keep yourself safe and lower the risk that you’ll infect others.

Even though airlines no longer require masks, wearing one when you’re in the airport and on the plane is still a smart idea, says Banach: “I think masking during travel, particularly air travel, is still important. I encourage people to wear a high-quality mask during travel, to protect yourself and others who will be on the flight with you. Also, [wear a mask] if you’re using another travel modality, like a train or bus.”

Ostrosky adds, “The airflow in airplanes is excellent and HEPA-filtered. The problem is when you’re sitting right next to someone with COVID — the airflow won’t help you. You should be masking, either with a double surgical mask or with an N95 or KN95, and not remove it at all.”

Says Ostrosky. “The best thing to keep yourself safe is to mask in high-density public settings like airports, airplanes, concerts, amusement parks — indoors or outdoors. And it’s definitely preferable to do outdoor dining versus indoor dining.”

Regardless of where you’re going and how often you plan to test, keep this one tip in mind throughout your trip, says Ostrosky: “Mask, mask, and mask.”

Additional Info

  • Source Everyday Health
Thursday, 26 May 2022 11:12

Changes to Cuba Travel Rules

The island of Cuba will allow group travel for educational or professional exchanges. Globe Aware volunteers will be able to spend a volunteer vacation week in Cuba this summer, contact us to learn more.


Travel To Cuba Could Soon Be Easier, Here’s What You Need To Know

By GREG ROBERTSON
Travel Awaits

The Biden administration is taking steps to expand flights into Cuba, including locations other than Havana, as part of an overall plan to support the island nation and its residents.

Travel to and from the island was severely restricted under the previous administration, but the Biden White House is working to reverse those policies.

“The measures today again are practical steps that we are taking to address the humanitarian situation and to respond to the needs of the Cuban people,” a senior administration official told NPR.

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“President Biden is also fulfilling his commitment to the Cuban-American community and their family members in Cuba by announcing measures in four key areas which we plan to implement in the coming weeks,” the official continued.

While the travel moves do not include opening the island to tourism, it will allow group travel for educational or professional exchanges. It also lifts caps on money sent to families in Cuba.

The group travel is part of the people-to-people educational travel category created during the Obama administration, the Miami Herald reported. The category allows Americans to visit Cuba on organized tours and to promote exchanges between the countries.

More changes could be coming to allow for more professional research and meetings, but strictly tourist travel will remain banned for now. Administration officials told the Associated Press that the Treasury Department will audit groups that are organizing travel to Cuba to ensure it is purposeful.

Cuban officials called the moves a step in the right direction, but that they didn’t go far enough.

“This decision in no way modifies the blockade, Cuba’s fraudulent inclusion in the list of countries sponsors of terrorism or most of Trump’s maximum pressure coercive measures that still affect the Cuban people,” wrote Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez on his Twitter account.

“Understanding true dimension of this announcement would require waiting for the publication of implementing regulations,” Rodríguez wrote.

As part of the plan, the U.S. will allow charter flights to Cuban airports outside of Havana. During the Trump administration, flights were restricted to a single airport in Havana.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Awaits

Summer is just around the corner, and Globe Aware volunteers who have been patiently awaiting safe travel since the start of the pandemic are ready to buy flights and head out on their volunteer vacations. Though COVID infection rates have slowed, vaccines are readily available, and many people feel safe traveling again, the pandemic is still having an impact on air traffic.


 

‘Flightmare’ looms for summer, travel expert warns

by: Tori Gaines, Alix Martichoux
Nexstar Media Wire
May 22, 2022

Summer is just around the corner, and travelers who have been patiently awaiting safe travel since the start of the pandemic are ready to buy flights and head out on vacations. Though COVID infection rates have slowed, vaccines are readily available, and many people feel safe traveling again, the pandemic is still having an impact on air traffic.

“While it is great news that travel has fully opened up and families can finally have proper vacations, the combination of increased demand and staff shortages have the potential to cause significant delays and an overall sub-par travel experience,” said Rose Ackerman, the executive editor at Family Destinations Guide.

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Biden says monkeypox cases something to ‘be concerned about’
An increase in demand for air travel combined with staffing shortages could create a perfect storm for a “flightmare” including flight delays or even cancellations.


Family Destinations Guide shared some tips to ease travel concerns amid a potential “flightmare”:

  • Choose flights that depart early in the day. If your flight is canceled last minute, having an earlier flight time increases your chances of being rebooked and arriving at your destination the same day.
  • Plan ahead for delays. Delays are likely at every step from check in to security. You will thank yourself for leaving extra time for long lines.
    Familiarize yourself with your travel insurance policies. If you don’t typically purchase travel insurance, it may benefit you to consider it when traveling in a post-pandemic world.
  • Remember to be patient with airport and airline staffers. Traveling can be a stressful experience for anyone, but being kind towards airline staffers will make the experience easier for everyone.
  • According to the Transportation Safety Authority (TSA), air passenger travel is expected to be more concentrated over peak periods, with volumes that could match — or even exceed — those in previous years for the first time since the pandemic began and travel restrictions were implemented.

Beyond staffing shortages and potential delays, there’s another hurdle for would-be summer travelers: cost. Inflation is at a 40-year high, and it’s impacting the travel sector. Domestic airfare prices are up 40% since the beginning of the year, according to airfare comparison site Hopper.

Gas prices have also spiked 48% since March. That obviously makes road trips more expensive, but it also makes flying more expensive. Airlines pass on those prices to the consumer.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Nexstar Media Wire

Could our Globe Aware volunteers imagine doing this!? Sometimes travel can go terribly wrong, but this passenger did something astounding to save everyone on a flight.


 

Passenger with no flying experience lands plane at a Florida airport after the pilot became incapacitated

By Jamiel Lynch, Dakin Andone and Pete Muntean
CNN
11th May 2022

"I have no idea how to fly the airplane."

The pilot on his single-engine Cessna 208 had "gone incoherent," the passenger was telling air traffic controllers Tuesday afternoon, according to audio from LiveATC.net.

It was, he stressed, a "serious situation."

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Air Traffic Controller Robert Morgan, a certified flight instructor, was on a break when the call came in from the plane, headed out from the Bahamas.

"I rush over there and I walk in and the room is really busy ... and they're like, 'Hey, this pilot's incapacitated. The passengers are flying the plane. They have no flying experience," Morgan told CNN's "New Day" on Wednesday.

"I said, 'Oh boy.'"

Morgan learned the passenger on the line had never flown a plane -- but had been around aviation and seen other pilots fly.

"He was really calm," Morgan said. "He said, 'I don't know how to fly. I don't know how to stop this thing if I do get on the runway.'"

Morgan had never flown this model Cessna. He pulled up a picture of the instrument panel's layout and started guiding his new student step-by-step.

"Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate," the air traffic controller can be heard telling the fledgling pilot in LiveATC audio.

"Try to follow the coast either north or southbound. We're trying to locate you."

Morgan made the key decision to guide the aircraft to the area's biggest airport, helping the passenger-turned-pilot position his aircraft 8 miles out from Palm Beach International, "just so he could just have a really big target to aim at."

Together, they got the Cessna to touch down on the runway, footage obtained by CNN affiliate WPBF shows -- something that takes about 20 hours to learn with typical flight instruction.

The landing rated 10-out-of-10, in Morgan's view.

"I felt like I was going to cry then, because I had so much adrenaline built up," Morgan said. "I was really happy that it worked out and that nobody got hurt."

Other pilots were stunned, as another air traffic controller relayed across the airwaves what had just unfolded, other audio captured by LiveATC.net indicates.

"You just witnessed a couple of passengers land that plane," the tower operator can be heard telling an American Airlines pilot waiting to take off for Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Did you say the passengers landed the airplane?" the American Airlines pilot asked. "Oh, my God. Great job," he said.

The condition of the original Cessna pilot, who had a "possible medical issue," was not immediately known, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.
After the Cessna's landing, Morgan met his new student, who gave him a big hug and said thank you.

"It was an emotional moment. He said that he just wanted to get home to his pregnant wife," Morgan said. "And that felt even better."

"In my eyes, he was the hero," Morgan said. "I was just doing my job."

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

When it comes to wish list travel spots, Peru's Machu Picchu is a favorite, and is now open again to travelers. A guided tour can be arranged with Globe Aware when booking your Peru volunteer vacation, as a separate excursion.


Why Machu Picchu, Peru, should be on every traveller's wishlist

14 May, 2022
NZ Herald
By Sara Bunny

After a string of closures due to Covid precautions, Peru's ancient Inca trails are again open to visitors.

When it comes to wishlist travel spots, Peru's Machu Picchu is a perennial favourite. The jewel in the crown of the Inca Empire, it's a crumbling citadel of more than 100 buildings and a network of walkways and terraces, dating back to about 1450. Perched on a dramatic mountain range where the Peruvian Andes meet the Amazon Basin, the lack of tourists has made it unusually quiet of late. But recently, the Peruvian Government reopened most of the area's famous trails.

If you're planning a trip, book in with a tour guide to help navigate the various circuits and their opening times, as well as logistics with connecting buses and trains. New rules are in place for 2022, including limits on the numbers of visitors allowed on tracks at any one time and time restrictions at some of the more popular attractions.

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Regardless of what route you choose, here are a few of the many highlights along the way:

Temple of the Sun

Thought to be the spot where the Incas worshipped their sun god, Inti, it's likely that only priests and high-ranking community members were allowed inside. As Machu Picchu's only round building, its windows were carefully designed for observing the sun at the summer and winter solstice. Visitors are not permitted inside due to the temple's delicate structure, and it's best viewed from the lookout above.

Huayna Picchu

A popular backdrop for tourist photos, the sacred mountain features a series of steps carved into the cliff face. Some researchers believe it was used as a surveillance centre against attacks on the citadel below, while another theory is that is served as the seat of the high priest. You need to be fit to hike to the summit, but walkers are rewarded with once-in-a-lifetime views over the ancient city and surrounding lush mountains.

Temple of the Condor

Displaying the Incas' incredible skill at stonework, the temple was carved to resemble the open wings of an Andean condor. With an altar inside, it's thought the temple was used to make sacrifices to the gods, and there's also evidence it served as a prison. Find the temple in the Hurin area of Machu Picchu, near the city's main square.

Checklist:

Travellers to Peru must present an International Travel Vaccination Certificate, or a Covid-19 RT-PCR Report for a negative test taken at most 24 hours before departure. Check with your travel agent or airline for details.

 

Additional Info

  • Source New Zealand Herald
Thursday, 12 May 2022 11:38

Mask-wearing mandate lifted in Cambodia

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen lifted the government-instituted mask-wearing mandate, leaving it to people across the country to decide for themselves. Globe Aware volunteers should know that mask-wearing requirements, however, still apply to enclosed settings such as air-conditioned offices, meeting rooms or movie theatres.


Mask-wearing mandate lifted in Cambodia

Borneo Bulletin
May 8, 2022

PHNOM PENH POST/ANN – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen lifted the government-instituted mask-wearing mandate, leaving it to people across the country to decide for themselves.

Mask-wearing requirements, however, still apply to enclosed settings such as air-conditioned offices, meeting rooms or movie theatres.

The premier made the announcement, effectively immediately, in a special audio address to the nation.

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“From the time you receive this audio message, you can decide for yourself whether to continue wearing mask in open space or not,” he said.

At public gardens or parks and tourist attractions or recreational areas, mask-wearing is also optional.

People in certain areas – such as crowded places or where there are suspected cases of Covid-19 – are “encouraged” but not required to wear mask.

Hun Sen reiterated his call for the public to get vaccinated against Covid-19, at least with a third dose which is now compulsory.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian Ministry of Health yesterday reported two new Omicron community case, with five recoveries and no new deaths.

As of yesterday, Cambodia had recorded a total of 136,262 Covid-19 cases with 133,177 recoveries and 3,056 fatalities.

Additional Info

  • Source Borneo Bulletin

Cambodia reported no new Covid-19 cases on Saturday night (May 7), the first time since the third wave of community transmission broke out in February last year, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said. This is great news for volunteers wishing to vacation in Cambodia. Feel free to contact a Globe Aware team member in regards to entry regulations and safety.


Cambodia reports zero new Covid-19 cases for first time in over a year, says PM Hun Sen

08 May 2022
The Star

PHNOM PENH, May 8 (Xinhua): Cambodia reported no new Covid-19 cases on Saturday night (May 7), the first time since the third wave of community transmission broke out in February last year, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said.

"Today, it is the first time since Feb. 20, 2021 that Cambodia has found not even a single new case of Covid-19," he said in a special audio message.

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"This is a great success that resulted from our joint efforts in the fight against Covid-19, and I'd like to thank all compatriots for participating in the anti-COVID-19 movement," he added.

However, Cambodia is not Covid-19 free yet, as it still has 29 active cases, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH).

Hun Sen attributed the success in the fight against Covid-19 to the kingdom's high vaccination rates and urged eligible people to go for booster doses, the third or the fourth shots, when their turns come.

"We'd like to thank all foreign friends for providing vaccines to us, enabling us to give them free of charge to our people," he said. "Vaccines have given us an opportunity to reopen our economy and businesses."

The Southeast Asian nation launched a national vaccination campaign against Covid-19 in February 2021, with China being the key vaccine supplier and most of the vaccines used in the kingdom are Sinovac and Sinopharm.


The country has so far vaccinated at least one dose of vaccines to almost 15 million people, or 93.7 percent of its 16 million population, the MoH said, adding that of them, 14.22 million, or 89 percent, have been fully vaccinated with two required shots.

Buoyed by high vaccination coverage, Cambodia has resumed all socioeconomic activities and reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers without quarantine since November last year.

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said vaccines have protected lives, stabilized health system and helped restore the economy.

"The royal government of Cambodia has made the correct decision to choose China as a strategic supplier of Covid-19 vaccines so that's why Cambodia has enough vaccines for its people," he told Xinhua.

According to the MoH, since the pandemic hit Cambodia in January 2020, the kingdom has recorded a total of 136,262 confirmed cases with 133,177 recoveries and 3,056 deaths. - Xinhua

Additional Info

  • Source The Star
Wednesday, 04 May 2022 10:13

Four new Google trip-planning tools

Today, Google is launching a new set of travel search tools that can help you plan for your dream Globe Aware summer vacation. The set of four new functions will enable you to better customize searches and works on your desktop or mobile device.


 

Check out these four great new Google trip-planning tools

By Bill Fink
The Points Guy
May 2 2022

Today, Google is launching a new set of travel search tools to help you plan for that upcoming weekend escape, summer vacation or long-delayed dream getaway.

The set of four new functions will enable you to better customize searches and quickly sort through targeted destination, pricing and lodging choices before saving all the results in a personalized tab that works on your desktop or mobile device.

Want to be notified whenever your bucket list destination has a flight sale? Curious about road trips you can take from your in-laws’ hometown? Have to find a hotel or restaurant within a 10-minute walk from your convention center? Regardless of the details surrounding your search, Google has you covered.

Here’s everything to know about Google’s four new features.

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Updates to Google Flights

Google Flights has created a new feature that may inspire you to take that long-desired but seemingly out-of-reach trip.

With the latest Google Flights iteration, users can now track future flight prices between any cities by clicking on the new “Any dates” toggle switch. You could previously set flight alerts, but this takes the search process a step further.

If Google detects lower-than-usual fares anytime in the next three to six months, you will receive an email notification. This is great for planning for far-flung dream destinations or getting suggestions for spur-of-the-moment deals.

Users can also click on price grids and price graphs to evaluate flight options in selected date ranges.

Addition of ‘Explore Nearby’ function

Perfect for planning road trips, Google’s new “Explore Nearby” function is located under the Explore tool of Google Travel. It will allow you to pick a location (your home base or your future destination) and then add filters like budget and trip length to explore additional destinations nearby. Google will then suggest road trip-ready escapes.

Click on a highlighted photo and Google will populate a side tab with trip information like average drive time, hotel prices and weather.

More search options for hotels and attractions

Google is also introducing new map-based “interest layer” search options for Google Travel. You can now find lodging within a selected walking or driving time or distance from a particular landmark or address.

For example, you can search for accommodation options within a 15-minute walk of the Eiffel Tower. Enter the specific address or landmark in the search bar and select dates plus “hotels” and/or “vacation rentals” to see a shaded section of the map that shows nearby lodging options.

Or, if you want to find a particular neighborhood’s dining, shopping or sightseeing options, you can click new “interest layer” icons on the map along with walk or drive times. Even very specific search options like “kid-friendly hotels in Orlando under $200 with a pool” will return results (in this example, you’ll see a mapped list with 123 choices on a sidebar with photos, prices and booking links).

Additional hotel tabs of “When to visit” and “What you’ll pay” will show typical price ranges and weather patterns for selected time periods. Price tabs will include links to compare options across multiple web-based booking sites.

Creation of a travel bookmarking tool

Great for saving both dream travel research and practical details for upcoming trips, Google’s new bookmarking tool will allow you to tap a bookmark icon on any hotel for it to become a “saved property.” Then, you can return at a later time and hit the “saved” tab under “Your travel plans” to see all your targeted hotels and continue your aspirational or soon-to-be-booked trip planning.

Google has also created a travel icon that can be easily added to the home screen of your iOS or Android smartphone, giving you one-touch access to all your scheduled trips and future travel research.

Bottom line

The newly added Google search options will make it easier than ever to customize your travel research, consolidate flight and lodging options and save it all for future viewing.

The neighborhood searches and “Explore Nearby” search functions should be particularly useful when looking for travel ideas in cities or countries you have never visited before. Meanwhile, the seasonal flight pricing and hotel pricing searches will prove beneficial for finding deals.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

Thailand has removed all testing requirements for vaccinated tourists, which includes Globe Aware volunteers. Entry procedures have been simplified and the country is planning to launch a new vaccine passport soon.


 

Thailand Plans To Launch New Vaccine Passport For Entry

Here we go again. After Thailand removed all testing requirements for vaccinated tourists, many believed it was finally prepared to abandon its infamously strict Covid policies. Although entry procedures have been simplified, those who had been expecting a full reopening to follow will be surprised to learn the country is, in fact, planning to launch a new vaccine passport soon.

During Covid, very few foreigners traveled to Thailand as a result of the country’s complex entry rules, which included multiple testing and quarantine post-arrival. Those rules have all been relaxed, and even though visiting Thailand now may be certainly a lot easier than it was in 2020 or 2021, this Southeast Asian nation remains extremely reluctant to fully drop its guard.

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Now, health authorities in the country are looking to replace the much-criticized Thailand Pass with a Thai Vaccine Pass. While it would de-bureaucratize travel for vaccinated tourists, the announcement has raised concerns the unvaccinated may be locked out of the country for good this time.

Here is what we have learned about Thailand’s proposed new vaccine pass and how it could affect tourists:

Thailand Pass To Be Replaced By A Vaccine Pass Soon

As announced by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on April 26, the ministry is mulling over the introduction of a new vaccine pass that will tentatively replace the existing Thai Pass. According to Charnvirakul himself, this will not present obstacles, but will instead ‘facilitate entry to Thailand by overseas tourists‘.

Elaborating on the topic, the Minister suggested Thailand could benefit from a vaccine passport, as they have been the ‘international standard used to screen foreign arrivals based on each visitor’s vaccination history’. He also confirmed his ministry is already currently ‘designing the process’, which should be operational by June.

At present, all travelers must apply for permission before arriving in Thailand. This means obtaining a Thailand Pass in advance, and preferably up to a week before travel, as waiting times vary and longer delays have been highly publicized. On top of that, visitors must either present a vaccination certificate or, when unvaccinated, apply to enter via one of the Quarantine Schemes.

Even when eligible, some travelers have been denied a Thai Pass, with the Tourism Ministry confirming that, while 2.1 million tourists have applied since the border reopened, only 1.5 million were accepted. Over 600,000 were unable to satisfy Thai requirements, had their applications refused and were subsequently unable to visit the country.

When saying travel will be ‘facilitated’ once a Vaccine Pass is in place, the Health Minister is likely referring to fully vaccinated travelers, as they would no longer need to apply for a Thailand Pass. Instead, they would have an option to simply present their certificate in order to ensure smoother entry into Thailand.

What About The Unvaccinated?

On the other hand, as expected with mandatory vaccine requirements, a tweak in the rules would be of little benefit to the unvaccinated, who have been allowed to visit the country, albeit under strict quarantine rules, and could have this route blocked should a vaccine passport become mandatory.

After all, little is known yet about the upgraded Thai Vaccine Pass. Here are some of the things we do know:

  • The system is being developed and should be operational by June
  • Only travelers who have had at least three doses of an approved vaccine will be able to apply
  • Filling out the immigration arrival form Tor Mor 6 (TM6) will remain mandatory
  • Covid insurance will still be a prerequisite for entry into Thailand

The Health Minister was quoted saying ‘two jabs alone are not enough to raise immunity for a prolonged period’, backing his ministry’s decision to launch the Vaccine Pass with a 3-dose minimum requirement. In summary, traveling to Thailand is becoming progressively easier for the vaccinated, and the vaccinated only.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, another one of Thailand’s leading figures in Covid management, reiterated he will be advocating for a Vaccine Passport himself. Ratchakitprakarn plans to present the proposal at the next CCSA – Covid-19 Situation Administration meeting.

Thailand Will Not Be Joining 36 Other Countries That Have Fully Reopened

Both Ministers have held meetings and have already agreed on the implementation of a Vaccine Passport, though they have come to the conclusion the new 3-dose requirement should be applied ‘selectively’. As some countries struggle with uneven vaccine distribution, certain foreign nationals would face greater challenges and could be offered a grace period.

This would most certainly not apply to U.S., Canadian, British and European citizens, who reside in countries with high vaccination coverage and wide availability of vaccines. While there are 36 other countries in the world the unvaccinated can travel to hassle-free, Thailand does not aim to be one of them, at least for now.

In other news, Thailand is seeking to implement soon a 300 baht entry fee, further adding to the woes of travelers. According to the tourism minister, 50 baht of the so-called ‘landing fees’ would be used as insurance coverage for all tourists, on top of the already mandatory travel insurance, and the remaining 250 baht will fund tourism initiatives in the country.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

Not sure what you're dealing with since all three have commons symptoms? Globe Aware volunteers can read on to learn more about the symptoms of food poisoning, stomach flu, and COVID-19 and how to determine which condition you have.


 

Is This Food Poisoning, Stomach Flu, or COVID-19?

by Emily Cronkleton
March 17, 2022
healthline

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, you may wonder if the cause is food poisoning, stomach flu, or COVID-19. These conditions share similar symptoms, though there are some key differences between them.

Read on to learn more about the symptoms of food poisoning, stomach flu, and COVID-19 and how to determine which condition you have. You’ll also learn how to treat each condition, when to seek medical care, and how to test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

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How to tell if my symptoms are food poisoning, stomach flu, or COVID?

To determine what is causing your gastrointestinal symptoms, it’s important to consider factors such as severity, accompanying symptoms, and possible causes. You may need to take a test to get a diagnosis.

Typical food poisoning symptoms

Eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites can cause food poisoning.

Symptoms can occur within a few hours, days, or weeks of consuming contaminated food. They tend to be more severe than symptoms of the stomach flu.

Common food poisoning symptomsTrusted Source include:

  • nausea
  • abdominal cramps
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • weakness
  • headache
  • loss of appetite

Usually, symptoms are mild to moderate and get better within a week, with or without treatment. However, severe and chronic (long-term) cases may require hospitalization.

Typical stomach flu symptoms

A viral infection causes the stomach flu, called viral gastroenteritis. Usually, symptoms occur 1 to 3 days after exposure to the virus and improve within 1 to 3 days.

Common symptomsTrusted Source of the stomach flu include:

  • nausea
  • abdominal cramps
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • dehydration
  • muscle aches
  • achy joints

As you can see, the stomach flu can give you many of the same symptoms as food poisoning, but with additional pain in the joints and muscles due to the viral infection.

Typical COVID-19 symptoms

People who develop COVID-19 from SARS-CoV-2 may have a wide variety of symptoms that are mild to severe. Usually, symptoms occur 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

Gastrointestinal symptoms often occur during the early phase of COVID-19. They may appear before respiratory symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19Trusted Source include:

  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever or chills
  • headache
  • muscle or body aches
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • fatigue
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • congestion or runny nose

Unlike food poisoning or the stomach flu, COVID-19 usually causes respiratory symptoms as well as gastrointestinal. If you’ve developed a cough or are experiencing a lack of taste or smell, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor and get tested for SARS-CoV-2.

Getting treatment for food poisoning or stomach flu during the COVID-19 pandemic

To treat mild to moderate food poisoning or stomach flu, there are several home remedies you can try.

Home remedies to treat food poisoning and stomach flu include:

  • Staying hydrated. Symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Consume plenty of water and beverages with electrolytes, such as coconut water, fruit juice, and sports drinks.
  • Using a heating pad. To alleviate abdominal pain and relax your stomach muscles, apply a heating pad to your stomach for 15 minutes at a time.
    Consuming ginger and mint. Ginger and mint may help alleviate nausea. You can take the herbs in supplement form or drink them in tea.
  • Drinking herbal teas. Drink licorice, fennel, and chamomile tea to calm and soothe your stomach.

If you have symptoms of dehydration, severe symptoms, or symptoms that do not improve within a few days, visit a healthcare professional.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • decreased urination
  • dry mouth, lips, or throat
  • dizziness when standing
  • extreme thirst
  • fatigue

See a healthcare professional if you have severe symptoms such as:

  • bloody diarrhea
  • high fever (103°F or 39.4°C, or above)
  • frequent vomiting, which can cause dehydration
  • diarrhea that lasts longer than 3 days

If you’re concerned about visiting a doctor’s office or hospital due to the possibility of contracting SARS-CoV-2, you can take precautions to maximize your safety by:

  • wearing a mask
  • maintaining a distance of 6 feet
  • using hand sanitizer regularly
  • scheduling your appointment in the morning, since the waiting and exam rooms are likely to be the cleanest

Healthcare workers and staff are taking precautions as well, most of whom are fully vaccinated. Some precautions they may take include:

  • regularly cleaning and disinfecting clinics
  • spacing out appointments to minimize the number of people in the waiting room
  • giving you the option to skip the waiting room altogether
  • performing tests and other procedures in the exam room instead of having you visit multiple locations, in some cases

Getting tested for COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source recommends getting tested if you experience COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19.

A rapid self-test involving a nasal swab will provide quick results. Laboratory tests involving saliva or a nasal swab provide results within 1 to 3 days. Usually, laboratory tests are more accurate than self-tests.

While you’re waiting for the results of your test, it’s a good idea to stay at home, both to quarantine and to take care of yourself. At-home treatments for COVID-19 are similar to treatments for other viruses and include:

  • getting plenty of rest
  • staying hydrated
  • taking prebiotics and probiotics to treat gastrointestinal symptoms
  • taking acetaminophen to alleviate headaches, body aches, and fever
  • applying an ice pack for 15 minutes at a time to reduce fever

Takeaway

Some symptoms of food poisoning, stomach flu, and COVID-19 are similar, which may make it tricky to determine which condition you have. In most cases, people can treat food poisoning or stomach flu by resting, staying hydrated, and using home remedies.

If your symptoms are severe or do not improve within a few days, make an appointment with a healthcare professional. They can provide you with an accurate diagnosis, determine if there are any underlying causes, and choose the best course of treatment.

If you think your symptoms are from COVID-19, follow the usual safety precautions and self-isolate. Take a test as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Thottacherry, MD — Written 
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What You Need to Know About Food Poisoning, Its Causes, and Treatments
Symptoms
Causes
Chart
Treatments
Diet
Diagnosis
Risk factors
Prevention
Outlook
What is food poisoning?
Foodborne illness, more commonly referred to as food poisoning, is the result of eating contaminated, spoiled, or toxic food. The most common symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Although it’s quite uncomfortable, food poisoning isn’t unusual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, 48 million people in the United States (or around 1 out of 7) contract some form of food poisoning every year. Of those 48 million people, 128,000 are hospitalized.

Food poisoning symptoms
If you have food poisoning, chances are it won’t go undetected.

Symptoms can vary depending on the source of the infection.

Common cases of food poisoning will typically include a few of the following symptoms:

abdominal cramps
diarrhea
nausea
vomiting
loss of appetite
mild fever
weakness
headache
Symptoms of potentially life threatening food poisoning include:

diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days
a fever higher than 102°F (38.9°C)
difficulty seeing or speaking
symptoms of severe dehydration, which may include dry mouth, passing little to no urine, and difficulty keeping fluids down
bloody urine
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact a doctor or seek medical treatment immediately.

How long does food poisoning last?
The length of time it takes for symptoms to appear depends on the source of the infection, but it can range from as little as 30 minutesTrusted Source to as long as 8 weeksTrusted Source.

With or without treatment, most cases will resolve in 1 week.

Causes of food poisoning
Most food poisoning can be traced to one of three major causes: bacteria, parasites, or viruses.

These pathogens can be found on almost all of the food humans eat. However, heat from cooking usually kills pathogens on food before it reaches our plate. Foods eaten raw are common sources of food poisoning because they don’t go through the cooking process.

Occasionally, food will come in contact with the organisms in fecal matter or vomit. This is most likely to occur when an ill person prepares food and doesn’t wash their hands before cooking.

Meat, eggs, and dairy products are frequently contaminated. Water may also be contaminated with organisms that cause illness.

Bacteria
Bacteria are by far the most common cause of food poisoning. Bacterial causes of food poisoning include:

E. coli, in particular Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)
Listeria monocytogenes
Salmonella
Campylobacter
Clostridium botulinum
Staphylococcus aureus
Shigella
Vibrio vulnificus
When thinking of dangerous bacteria, names such as E. coli and Salmonella come to mind for good reason.

Salmonella is the biggest bacterial causeTrusted Source of food poisoning cases in the United States. According to the CDCTrusted Source, an estimated 1,350,000 cases of food poisoning, including 26,500 hospitalizations, can be traced to salmonella infection each year.

Campylobacter and C. botulinum are two lesser-known and potentially lethal bacteria that can lurk in our food.

Parasites
Food poisoning caused by parasites isn’t as common as food poisoning caused by bacteria, but parasites that spread through food are still very dangerous. They include:

Toxoplasma gondii
Giardia lamblia
various tapeworms, such as:
Taenia saginata (beef tapeworm)
Taenia solium (pork tapeworm)
Diphyllobothrium latum (fish tapeworm)
Cryptosporidium
Ascaris lumbricoides, a type of roundworm
flukes (flatworms), such as Opisthorchiidae (liver fluke) and Paragonimus (lung fluke)
pinworms, or Enterobiasis
Trichinella
According to the CDCTrusted Source, toxoplasmosis is a leading cause of death attributed to food poisoning in the United States. Toxoplasma gondii is also found in cat litter boxes.

Parasites can live in your digestive tract and go undetected for years. People with weakened immune systems and pregnant people are at risk of more serious side effects if certain parasites take up residence in their intestines.

Viruses
Food poisoning can also be caused by a virus, such as:

norovirus, which is sometimes known as Norwalk virus
rotavirus
astrovirus
sapovirus
hepatitis A virus
The norovirus causes 19 to 21 million casesTrusted Source of vomiting and diarrhea in the United States each year. In rare cases, it can be fatal. Other viruses bring on similar symptoms, but they’re less common.

The virus that causes the liver condition hepatitis A can also be transmitted through food.

Additional Info

  • Source healthline

All travel restrictions for entering Romania related to the coronavirus were lifted on March 9th, 2022. Globe Aware volunteers can book their volunteer vacation to this beautiful European country with ease.


 

These countries have lifted all coronavirus travel restrictions

These are all the destinations in Europe that currently have no Covid-related entry requirements. This list is being regularly updated

BY SARAH JAMES
20 April 2022
CONDÉ NAST TRAVELLER

Since 2020, we’ve all needed to stay on top of the Covid-related rules for different countries – from where you can travel without a vaccine to which destinations require a Covid booster jab for travel. By spring 2022, however, a handful of European countries (including the UK since Friday 18 March 2022) have lifted all restrictions relating to coronavirus and travel, allowing international visitors to enter without proof of vaccination, a negative test, recent recovery or even filling in a passenger locator form. These are the places that have dropped all such rules – although, of course, we still recommend following UK health advice, including having your Covid vaccine and booster if you are able to.

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Czech Republic
On Saturday 9 April 2022, the Czech Republic lifted all coronavirus-related entry requirements for people arriving from other countries. Visitors do not need to show any proof of vaccination or negative tests and do not need to fill out a passenger locator form.

Denmark
At the time of writing (Wednesday 20 April 2022), there are no coronavirus-related requirements regarding testing or quarantining when entering Denmark regardless of vaccination status. However, you can only enter Greenland if you can prove that you are fully vaccinated or have previously been infected with coronavirus in the past 12 weeks.

Hungary
The Hungarian government lifted all coronavirus restrictions upon entering the country on Monday 7 March 2022. You do not need to show vaccination proof or any negative tests.

Iceland
There are currently no rules about coronavirus vaccinations or tests to enter Iceland as an international visitor.

Ireland
Since Sunday 6 March 2022, international visitors have not been required to follow any restrictions regarding coronavirus. If travellers develop coronavirus symptoms while staying in Ireland, they should follow the current HSE guidance.

Montenegro
There are no coronavirus-related travel rules for those travelling to Montenegro.

Norway
Entry requirements for Norway are the same for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. You do not need to show any negative tests, fill out any forms or self-isolate.

Poland
Since Monday 28 March 2022, pre-departure testing and proof of vaccination have not been required to enter Poland.

Romania
All travel restrictions for entering Romania related to coronavirus were lifted on Wednesday 9 March 2022.

Sweden
As of Friday 1 April 2022, travellers to Sweden are no longer required to present a negative test or proof of vaccination to enter.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday updated its warning level policy for international travel, now reserving its Level 4 warning only for instances of extreme Covid-19 threats. Globe Aware volunteers will now have a more actionable alert for when they should not travel to a certain destination.


U.S. CDC Restructures Covid-19 Travel Warning System

By Michael B. Baker
April 18, 2022
Business Travel News

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday updated its warning level policy for international travel, now reserving its Level 4 warning only for instances of extreme Covid-19 threats.

A Level 4 warning, at which the CDC advises travelers not to visit regardless of vaccination status, now indicates "special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse," according to the CDC. The other levels still will be determined by case counts and incidents during a 28-day period.

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"With this new configuration, travelers will have a more actionable alert for when they should not travel to a certain destination, regardless of vaccination status, until we have a clearer understanding of the Covid-19 situation at that destination," the CDC said in a media statement.

Prior to the change, the CDC's Level 4 list still covered about 90 countries and destinations, including most of Europe. As of Monday afternoon, no destinations were listed at Level 4, and more than 120 were listed at Level 3, at which the CDC recommends unvaccinated travelers avoid travel.

Ending the "avoid travel" advisories was one of the recommendations of U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow in a letter to White House Covid-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha last month. "The CDC should ensure that Americans are not dissuaded from traveling to any place with Covid-19 case rates that are equal to, or less than, the case rates prevailing in the U.S.," Dow said in the letter

 

Additional Info

  • Source Business Travel News

Mexico makes for a perfect first international vacation destination for a number of reasons. Here are some of the best our Globe Aware volunteers can check out!


8 Reasons To Make Mexico Your First International Vacation

BY CYNTHIA LEVY
April 18, 2022

Mexico makes for a perfect first international vacation destination for a number of reasons, but there are some of the best.

Many people are unaware of how amazing Mexico can be to visit. It is a country with many destinations, but a good number of people don't know where to go. One may have heard stories about beaches in Mexico, heritage sites, museums, villages, valleys, and hiking trails and have an interest in visiting.

Due to the great climate of Mexico, one can visit almost any time of the year and there will be a variety of things to enjoy. Here are some of the best reasons why Mexico is practically the perfect vacation destination for first-time international travelers.

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8 Enjoy Authentic Mexican Cuisine

One of the things that make Mexico so popular for vacations is the country’s unique and delicious cuisine. Many people know about Mexican tortas and tacos, but there is so much more than that. When visiting the north, one will enjoy the cabrito or carne asada. These are kinds of seafood from Sinaloa. For those visiting the western region, dining in Mayan or Jalisco delicacies will be the ultimate treat for sure. Mayan delicacies are sourced from the Yucatan Peninsula and represent the true western Mexican cuisines.

7 Appreciate Mexican Music

Many travelers have seen and listened to the unique Mexican music in films and on TV. Going on a vacation to the country is a special chance to enjoy authentic Mexican dances and music that is available in both English and Spanish. The traditional music is diverse in many ways, therefore giving visitors more than enough varieties to enjoy. There are popular band groups in almost every town, ready to play their best songs. Having a band of talented Mexican musicians with a variety of guitars is a reason to go to Mexico.

6 Explore Historic Monuments

Mexico is a country with so many monuments, mostly from ancient civilizations. These are impressive monuments showcasing extraordinary architecture and telling the story of the ancient civilizations. Many people do not know that there are ancient pyramids in Mexico. However, they are different from those in Egypt. The pyramids of Teotihuacan are the most popular monuments in Mexico. Visitors will also get a chance to visit several archeological sites and places such as El Tajin, and Chichen Itza.

5 Relax On Beautiful Mexican Beaches

Mexico has some of the best beaches in all of America. Due to the great warm weather of the country, the beaches are a good spot for vacation, especially for someone coming from a cold region. Many beaches are rated first-class, with clean white sands as well as turquoise waters. The list of beaches where one can vacation is long. Some of the most popular include Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Playa del Carmen, Huatulco, and Mazatlan. Most beaches are also very clean.

4 It's Affordable To Plan

Mexico is a very affordable country to visit for a vacation when compared to countries in Europe, or areas of Canada or the United States. It all starts with the airlines that operate in Mexico, which offer affordable deals. By traveling during off-peak seasons, when there are few holidays, one gets to spend even less. The country has a moderately good economy and the cost of living is low. Since there are many open markets, bargaining for commodities is easy and allows a person to get affordable products. The government has also provided many free destinations for tourists.

3 You Can Find Great Vacation Packages

Traveling for a vacation in a new country is different from getting a vacation package from a travel company. One does not have to necessarily travel on their own to enjoy Mexico. Private traveling can be expensive. However, several travel companies operate in Mexico and offer vacation packages. These are packages with well-packed itineraries and fun activities. One can get as short as two days’ vacation on Cancun beach. The best way to acquire this is by going through different travel companies in Mexico and identifying suitable packages. Booking early is the best way to get affordable deals.

2 Visiting The Mystical Mayan Ruins Is A Must

The Mystical Mayan ruins are one of the most popular attractions in Mexico. These ancient Mayan artifacts show a great civilization from a bygone age that no longer exists. These ruins are characterized by amazing works of innovation done by people of that time. Many things were built – including majestic temples, agricultural systems, and other advanced infrastructures. A visit to these ruins is reason enough to visit Mexico. One will also get a chance to visit the Chichen Itza ruins, which are equally as impressive.

1 See Its Unique Wildlife In Person

Mexico is also a country with great wildlife. The best part is that the most fascinating animals in the country are unique and only found in Mexico. There are also a few jungles and forests to visit. The ocean also is home to many animals. Visitors will get a chance to sport endangered axolotl and cacomistle, which is a mammal native to Mexico. On the northern side of Mexico, there is a chance to see Mexican prairie dogs, and in the Baja waters, there is vaquita porpoise.

 

Additional Info

  • Source The Travel

Officials from major airlines said they expect to offset their higher fuel bills with raised airlines tickets. Thanks to travel demand from vacationers, and Thanksgiving-like crowds returning this Easter, that's concerning news for Globe Aware volunteers who have not booked their summer trips yet.


 

Haven't booked those airline tickets yet? Don't dawdle. Bookings are bonkers, pushing prices up

Dawn Gilbertson
USA TODAY

Thanksgiving-like crowds are returning to security checkpoints and airport parking lots are filling up in popular destinations.

But few things say air travel is roaring back more than airline executives taking a spike in oil prices in stride. Fuel is airlines' second-biggest expense after labor.

In presentations at an investor conference in New York Tuesday, officials from Delta, American, United, Southwest and JetBlue said they expect to offset their higher fuel bills thanks to sizzling travel demand from vacationers and an uptick in business travel.

That's bad news for travelers who haven't bought tickets for spring break or summer vacation yet, as strong bookings enable airlines to raise ticket prices.

Delta Air Lines President Glen Hauenstein said the airline needs to collect an extra $30 or $40 per the average $400 round trip ticket to cover its rising fuel costs and so far is having no trouble doing so given a surge in bookings.

"We are very, very confident of our ability to recapture over 100% of the fuel price run-up in the second quarter and through probably the end of the summer," he said at the J.P. Morgan Industrials Conference.

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Hauenstein said he has never seen travel demand rebound as quickly as it has following the sharp decline in bookings from the omicron variant in late 2021 and early this year. One day last week, the airline had the highest sales day in its 100-year history, he said.

Delta is not alone in its confidence in the industry's recovery and ability to pass along fare increases.

"The pandemic really does seem to be behind us here in the U.S.," Nocella said. "Bookings across most of the network are at normal levels.''

Nocella said United expects to be able to offset a "large chunk" of its higher fuel bill by boosting fares and will cover the rest by trimming some flights.

United purposely held back seats for sale for summer travel in anticipation of a rebound so it could charge more for tickets when bookings resumed post-omicron. And it's working, he said.

"We're pretty happy about that," he said.

He said a key revenue metric for Easter travel in mid-April is ahead of 2019 levels despite an increased number of flights.

It all adds up to more sticker shock for consumers fighting inflation on every front this year. Another COVID-19 wave and other factors could hurt bookings again and reduce airlines' ability to raise fares, but for now, the trend in ticket prices is up. With domestic travel bookings and revenue surpassing pre-pandemic levels for the first time in the second week of February and ticket prices were up 5%, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.

"This is a major turning point, and it shows a level of consumer confidence we've not seen in many months," Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights said in a statement.

'How much can the consumer bear?'

The big question for airlines and travelers is how high ticket prices can go before travelers resist.

"How much can the consumer bear?" J.P. Morgan airline analyst Jamie Baker asked airline executives.

Delta's Hauenstein said the airline is pricing summer flights to a level that will cover higher fuel costs and so far, bookings are above 2019 levels.

"We haven't actually found the breakpoint yet," he said.

JetBlue's Hayes said the airline also has not seen any so-called "demand destruction."

"We're still dealing with pent-up demand from people," he said.

Airfares are on the rise: 5 tips for travelers shopping for airline tickets

  • Don't wait for prices to go down, especially to popular spring and summer vacation destinations. If you see a palatable ticket price on the dates and times you need, book it and don't look back. (Or look back occasionally and rebook if the flight price has dropped since major airlines have dropped change fees on most tickets and Southwest has never charged change fees. You'll receive a credit for any fare difference.)
  • Don't overlook airline and travel website flexible date calendars and airfare alerts from apps including Hopper and Kayak if your travel plans are flexible.
  • Do include online travel agencies like Expedia and search engines like Google Flights and Kayak in your research as they combine flights from different airlines for the itinerary, which can save money over flying one airline for the trip. Just make sure you aren't flying into one airport and out of another in metro areas with more than one option if that's a dealbreaker.
  • Don't limit your search to the major airlines. Discount airlines Spirit and Frontier, which recently announced plans to merge, and Allegiant have been expanding rapidly. As have newcomers Avelo and Breeze. On all, add up the fees for extras, including a carry-on bag or seat assignment to make an apples-to-apples comparison with major airlines.
  • Do skip that summer trip in favor of a fall or other off-season getaway if your travel plans are flexible and you're on a budget.

Additional Info

  • Source USAToday
Tuesday, 12 April 2022 09:08

Test positive for COVID-19 abroad?

While traveling into countries may have become easier, it's still important Globe Aware volunteers be prepared for re-entry back into the United States. Our volunteer vacations provide testing on site or at your accommodations, provide travel insurance and assist with understanding government regulations and procedures.


 

5 things I learned after testing positive for COVID-19 abroad

Taylor Jenkins
April 9, 2022
The Points Guy

After a great adventure in Argentina, it was time to come home.

Then, seven hours before my return flight from Buenos Aires to Atlanta, I received the results of my COVID-19 test required for re-entry to the United States. The news sealed my fate for the next few days. With a positive test, I was not going to be able to board my Delta Air Lines flight that evening.

In the days that followed, five lessons about traveling during COVID-19 became abundantly clear to me. So long as negative tests are required for re-entry into the U.S., these lessons will remain true — so I am sharing them here so anyone traveling abroad can embrace them.

It had been three months since my last trip to Argentina. This time, my wife and I were returning for the wedding of two close friends and a quick escape to Argentina’s famous wine region of Mendoza. As a fully vaccinated and boosted U.S. traveler with a negative COVID-19 test, I was able to enter Argentina with ease. I would not have guessed that my entry into Argentina was going to be easier than my re-entry to the U.S.

Here’s a brief overview of the current entry requirements for Argentina and a little bit of background:

Argentina entry requirements

As a fully vaccinated traveler, I needed three things to enter Argentina. Like many countries, Argentina requires you to fill out an affidavit form within 48 hours of departure. The form is straightforward, only requiring typical traveler information: arrival, departure, passport number, etc. Additionally, I needed a negative PCR test taken with 72 hours of departure and proof of medical travel insurance. The U.S. embassy in Argentina provides a great overview of all requirements.

The trip to Mendoza

My wife and I spent the days leading up to the wedding exploring the bodegas and vineyards of Mendoza. Traveling within Argentina also proved easy. There were no additional requirements for travel within the country. A first for me, we flew the low-cost local carrier, Fly Bondi, from Aeroparque Internacional Jorge Newbery (AEP) in Buenos Aires to Governor Francisco Gabrielli International Airport (MDZ) in Mendoza. While a full review isn’t necessary, I will say that I would use Fly Bondi again, but will certainly anticipate frequent (and drastic) changes to my originally scheduled flight leading up to the day of departure.

It was on day two of our vineyard tours in Mendoza that my congestion started. As it was the only symptom to manifest itself, I didn’t think much of it. Congestion has been pretty par for the course for me each time I’ve made the journey from our U.S. winter to summer in Argentina. My congestion cleared up over the next few days, and was mostly gone just in time for the Saturday wedding. Little did I know my brief bout of congestion would have larger ramifications.

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The test

We were scheduled to return to the U.S. on Monday night aboard the Delta red-eye to Atlanta. With the U.S. still requiring a negative antigen test taken no more than one day prior to departure, we scheduled our tests for Monday morning. As a side note: If you find yourself needing a test in Argentina, I highly recommend using Stramboulian. Scheduling was easy and there are multiple locations in popular areas.

Within a few hours, we received our test results: negative for my wife and positive for me. What transpired over the next few hours and days consisted of a lot of research into quarantine requirements and travel requirements to understand what I needed to do locally and what I needed to do in order to return to the U.S. as quickly — and safely — as possible. The rules mandated 7 days of quarantine from the onset of symptoms with at least 48 hours symptom-free plus three days of “special care,” meaning not going out in crowds. I ended up in Argentina about five days longer than planned.

After a few conversations with my primary doctor and a few days without symptoms, I ultimately flew home on Friday evening with my positive test and a signed letter indicating proof of recovery. Luckily for me, the entire experience was nothing more than a minor inconvenience. However, five lessons became abundantly clear.

My lessons learned

Travel with take-home tests
Before leaving for your international trip, purchase at least one take-home test to take with you. Depending on your destination, tests can be difficult to find or, at the very least, inconvenient to find. Considering my symptoms were never more than mild congestion, I never felt the need to seek out a testing center prior to my mandatory test for returning home. However, if I had a take-home test on hand, there’s a good chance I would have used it and had a few days’ head start on planning my next moves regarding quarantine and my return trip.

‘No more than one day before you travel’ does not mean ‘No more than 24 hours before you travel’

The United States’ testing requirement for international travel states that travelers “are required [to] show a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than one day before travel…” I had interpreted this to mean that for a 9 p.m. flight on Monday, your test could be conducted no earlier than 9 p.m. on Sunday. After testing positive, I learned “one day before travel” means that your test can be taken at any time during the day before your travel date. While this knowledge would not have changed my circumstances, earlier awareness of my predicament would certainly have reduced my stress levels in the short seven hours between learning my test results and my scheduled departure.

Required or not, purchase trip insurance

To satisfy Argentina’s insurance requirement, I purchased the bare minimum $12 plan from Trawick International. While it remains to be seen how the claims process goes, my plan included $150 per day of trip delay insurance.

Luckily for me, I was able to stay with local friends. However, had I been in a different destination, I would likely have needed a lot more coverage to find a suitable hotel for my extended stay. For my needs, the $150 was plenty to cover food and other costs I incurred. In the future, I will make a deliberate calculation to ensure my trip delay coverage matches my potential needs at my destination.

If you’re able to work remotely, travel with your work computer

So long as there is a testing requirement in place necessary for re-entry to the U.S., all travelers should anticipate the possibility of testing positive abroad. Having recognized this prior to my trip, I made the decision to bring my work computer with me. While it stayed in my backpack for the entire first part of the trip, I was certainly glad I was able to work remotely after my planned return was disrupted.

Don’t upgrade your flight until you have your negative test in hand

The day before our original return trip, I had upgraded our seats to Delta Premium Select using miles that transferred from American Express. When it came time to change my return flight, I was reminded that upgrades made using miles are non-refundable. The miles I used to upgrade my original ticket disappeared in an instant. To make matters worse, the additional price of the upgrade was not part of the equation in determining the price difference between my original fare and my new fare (the only remaining element of change fees after Delta dropped nearly all change fees in 2020).

Fortunately, it only cost me $68 to change my ticket — but you may not be so lucky.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Globe Aware Makes Volunteering Easy, Safe and Fun

By Hyeyeun Jeon
The University Network

For students in high school and college, volunteering is beneficial in many ways.

Through volunteering, not only can you make meaningful impacts and learn to live as a part of a wider community, but also network with people from various career paths and improve your school applications.

Of course there are numerous local volunteering opportunities available. However, as air travel normalizes again, students can look into opportunities in international communities as well.

With Globe Aware, you can reap the same benefits of volunteering while traveling to various wonders of our beautiful world.

Founded in 2000, Globe Aware is a nonprofit that develops short-term service abroad programs for those interested in volunteer travel.

Volunteering with Globe Aware

Volunteer travel aims to combine the best intentions of the non-profit sector with the excitement of the tourism sector to create stimulating, service-oriented vacations.

With a special consultative status with the United Nations, Globe Aware develops a safe, fun and culturally interesting experience for volunteers interested in service across the world.

The organization’s service projects focus on working side-by-side with locals as equals on community projects that are important to them. Previous projects include installing concrete floors in the homes of single mothers in Guatemala and assembling and distributing wheelchairs for landmine victims in Cambodia.

Simultaneously, Globe Aware provides several cultural excursions throughout every program, such as swimming in deep, water-filled sinkholes formed in limestone known as cenotes in Mexico, and spectacular nature hikes into the Carara Rainforest Reserve of Costa Rica.

None of Globe Aware trips require special skills or the ability to speak a specific foreign language because Globe Aware employees lay the groundwork prior to your arrival and accompany you during the entire volunteer vacation.

Globe Aware Makes Volunteering Easy Safe and Fun

How Students Can Volunteer with Globe Aware

Globe Aware has volunteer programs for high school and college students. These programs typically run for about a week, but programs can be extended up to three weeks upon request.

Destinations vary widely, ranging from a quaint village in Romania to a Rainforest village in Costa Rica. You can look through all programs operating in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean here.

Note that India, Thailand and Nepal programs are set to reopen this summer after being temporarily closed during the pandemic.

Service Hours

On top of a life-changing experience, Globe Aware trips provide service hours. High school students can use the hours worked during a program (usually 40 hours per week) for their required number of service hours to graduate or to qualify for the distinguished President’s Volunteer Service Award.

And all volunteers can request to receive a Community Service Certificate upon completion of their programs.

Also, there are discounts available for students. For example, participants under 17 years of age or groups of 10 or more can receive a 10 percent discount.

To register for a volunteer travel trip, you can sign up here.

Internship opportunities

For students looking for internship opportunities, Globe Aware provides internships that can be as short as one week and as long as four weeks, which are held virtually from India.

Depending on your interests, you will be directed to one of various organizations, ranging from local schools to elephant welfare nonprofits.

For example, as an intern at a local community center for children from low-income families, you will be working on weekly tasks such as creating educational videos that will be used in virtual lessons.

Though volunteering can be done anywhere, a Globe Aware program is truly one of few opportunities in life that offer the ability to experience another culture while also serving in a deeply meaningful way.

 

Additional Info

  • Source The University Network

With the no-passport-required ease of traveling, and direct flights available from dozens of cities, it’s no wonder that the vacation-deprived are rushing to this island. Globe Aware volunteers headed to Puerto Rico can figure out what they need to pack with these helpful tips!


 

8 items to pack when traveling to Puerto Rico, according to residents

BY REGAN STEPHENS
June 13, 2021

In late May, traveling to Puerto Rico just got a little easier. The U.S. territory loosened its requirements for domestic travelers, with vaccinated visitors now able to skip COVID-19 entry testing, and instead upload their vaccination card via a portal.

With the no-passport-required ease of traveling to the Caribbean island, and direct flights available from dozens of cities, it’s no wonder that the vacation-deprived are heading south in droves. Puerto Rico has seen an uptick in travelers since last fall, with overall hotel demand outpacing 2019 rates.

“There’s been a pent-up demand to travel from the past year because of COVID-19, and as Puerto Rico has always been a popular destination for U.S. mainland travelers, naturally an influx of people have booked trips to our tropical island,” says Adrian Mercado, director of sales and marketing at Hotel El Convento and Palacio Provincial. The two historic properties located in Old San Juan have seen a 30% increase in occupancy over the past couple of months. “We credit this to the convenience in getting to Puerto Rico with no passport necessary, as well as the recent ease in testing restrictions.”

While it’s true the island has a bounty of scenic beaches—and who couldn’t use some R&R in the form of seaside piña coladas and a juicy novel?—Puerto Rico also has a rich history, abundant natural beauty, and a vibrant cocktail scene. (Fun fact: That piña colada was actually invented here.) All that, plus it's blessed with year-round sunshine.

Read on for locals’ best tips on what you should pack for exploring everything Puerto Rico has to offer.

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An insulated cup

Bring along an insulated beverage cup, like a Yeti, says Gigí Nieves Bosch, the writer behind OMG ¡Qué Rico!

“The heat can be intense, and sometimes a few minutes in the sun can completely melt the ice in your drink,” she says. “I take my Yeti cup everywhere. It's amazing for going to the beach and honestly the best option for keeping your beer cold when you're in the water.”

Nieves also notes that using an insulated cup cuts down on plastic usage, which is more environmentally friendly and keeps the beaches cleaner. Her Yeti is decorated with stickers from her favorite local shops, and she suggests—for a unique souvenir—doing the same, “to showcase the small, local businesses you supported on your trip!”

Reef-safe sunscreen

“People underestimate the strength of the sun here,” says Claudia González, a front desk agent at Palacio Provincial in Old San Juan. To avoid a vacation-ruining burn, and to ensure the island’s surrounding coral reefs stay healthy, choose a reef-safe sunscreen like Supergoop! PLAY or Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense. Both are easy to apply, don’t leave a thick film, and are available in a three-ounce (or under) carry-on-approved size.

A wide-brimmed hat

Some of the local beaches have a dearth of shade, says Claudia González, so it’s wise to wear a hat that will protect your scalp and face, even if you’re consistently reapplying that reef-safe sunscreen. Plenty of Instagram-worthy options abound (we love the Goorin Bros. Vodka Soda straw hat), and if you’re optimizing for packable, the Athleta wide brim sun hat is breathable, water-repellent, and doesn’t take up much room in your bag.

A pair of sneakers

With over 270 miles of coastline, Puerto Rico is home to an array of beautiful beaches. While many are located in front of private resorts, there are countless lesser-traveled public spots that highlight the island’s pristine natural beauty, many with calm waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling. But to visit them, you’ll need to plan ahead.

“If you’re trying to explore our local beaches, bring comfortable sneakers or close-toed shoes,” says Aida Bauzá, Palacio Provincial ambassador. “In order to get there, you usually have to hike a little, and it’s not recommended to go in flip-flops.”

Efrén David Robles, cofounder of Frutos del Guacabo, agrees that sneakers are imperative, adding, “There are so many beautiful places to see [in Puerto Rico] which you can only experience by walking.” One of them is his agro-tourism farm, where you can walk the acres of crops like microgreens and tamarind, visit with the baby goats, and refresh with a homemade limber, a Puerto Rican–style icy treat.

A handheld fan

Pack a fan, either a foldable option you can easily fit in your bag, or a natural fiber, handmade version. Average temperatures hover between 75 and 85 degrees, year-round, and “you never know when heat will strike,” says Lulu Santaliz, a manager at Cool Hope Creamery in Lote 23, a gastronomic park. Or opt for a battery-powered device. About the size of a cell phone, this Tripole Mini handheld fan will cool you down in a snap, whether you’re touring the Unesco World Heritage sites or lounging on a beach chair.

Waterproof shoes

Beyond packing sneakers, waterproof shoes are an ideal option for hiking some of the island’s trails that lead to beaches, caves, or natural swimming pools. “I would recommend bringing a good pair of waterproof shoes,” says resident Lynette Cabrera. “One of my favorite sites in Puerto Rico is El Yunque rain forest, which happens to be the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest Service. Waterproof shoes are great for hiking the trails and jumping in waterfalls you may come across.”

A driver’s license

While areas like charming Old San Juan, Santurce, and Condado are easy to explore on foot, so much of Puerto Rico’s treasures are a bit farther afield. Since most are reachable in less than a two-hour drive, though, Lulu Santaliz recommends bringing your driver’s license, noting, “If you're older than 25, renting a car might be a good option to be able to explore the island.” (Note: It’s also recommended to book a car prior to visiting, as the inventory goes quickly.)

Some options: El Yunque is about 45 minutes by car from Old San Juan. Or one of the island’s bioluminescent bays—or bio bays, as they’re called—Mosquito Bay on Vieques, the island off the coast of Puerto Rico, Laguna Grande in the northeast in Fajardo, and La Parguera.

The latter, in the southwest in Lajas, about a two-hour drive from Old San Juan, is the only one of the three that allows swimming. Visitors can book a kayak or boat tour in the evening to fully experience the glowing waters, which come from microorganisms called dinoflagellates. Finally, visit the coffee haciendas of the south—about an hour and half away from the city, in Puerto Rico’s mountainous region—to learn about the island’s history of coffee agriculture and production, and to sample some of the best coffee on earth.

Bug-repellent spray

Don’t let pests put a damper on a perfectly pleasant hike through the scenic Toro Negro State Forest or El Yunque. Claudia González of Palacio Provincial keeps natural bug-repellent spray on hand at the hotel’s front desk to lend to visitors who are on their way to places like the rain forest or even just the beach.

Some options include California Baby and Badger Anti-Bug Shake & Spray, or, if you’re not checking luggage, stash these Babyganics single-use wipes in your carry-on. They’re DEET-free, spill-proof, and simple to apply.

Additional Info

  • Source Fortune

Cambodia is aiming to attract more tourists into the country by relaxing covid tests. You can contact our office to learn more about entry regulations because an impactful Globe Aware volunteer vacation awaits you in Cambodia!


 

No more covid tests for fully vaccinated travellers going to Cambodia

TIMESOFINDIA.COM/
TRAVEL NEWS, CAMBODIA
Mar 19, 2022, 12:36 IST

Cambodia has now announced that travellers are not required to take COVID 19 tests to enter the country, thus hoping to boost tourism in the coming months. The country has gone ahead of its neighbours to relax restrictions, so that tourism can get the much needed boost.

The country’s Prime Minister said in a speech, "Now it's the stage to open the economy by learning how to live with COVID.”

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Cambodia has one of the highest vaccination rates in the region, with 92.3 percent of its population being vaccinated against the virus.

However, visitors coming into the country are still required to be fully vaccinated. Moreover, any traveller who is unable to show proof of vaccination, must quarantine themselves for 14 days. Cambodian authorities have asked visitors to test themselves, even though there is no mandatory testing.

Cambodia is also planning to resume the visa on arrival programme, but it has not yet confirmed a date for the same. The visa on arrival programme was suspended throughout the length of the pandemic.

According to the World Bank, Cambodia’s international arrivals took a 90.6 percent dip in the first seven months of 2021. The entrance fees of Angkor Temple Complex, which is one of its most popular tourist sites, also saw a 98.7 percent drop.

Cambodia reported 140 new covid infections, and 3049 deaths on Wednesday.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

Have you ever considered volunteering? Whether it’s for a church, school, or another place, many organizations benefit from (and in some cases, completely depend on) volunteers to help. Volunteers also benefit from donating their time and effort to a cause they support: they gain a better understanding of the situation and culture surrounding the cause –– especially if it’s a volunteer program abroad. If you volunteer in a country where another language is spoken, you’ll also probably start to pick it up and actually learn it!

Beyond these core benefits of volunteerism however, there are also some specific upsides to doing your volunteer work through an NGO, as opposed to independently. Below, we'll get into some of those benefits and explain why, more often than not, you're best off going through an established organization.

ngos

Opportunity

The clearest benefit of volunteering through an NGO, rather than as an individual, is that you'll have more opportunities to work where you're needed. To give some sense of what we mean, among the most notable nongovernmental organizations you can work for are Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, and the international Red Cross. These are sprawling organizations with global reach that can help you to find the kind of work you're looking for and make the impact you want to make –– and they're only a few examples! Others associated specifically with IVPA include Globe Aware, Global Brigades, Good Hope Volunteers, International Service Learning, Projects Abroad, and American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad.

In contrast to working with established organizations like these, when you set out as an individual volunteer, finding specific opportunities is up to you, and it's not as easy as it may seem. Particularly if you're looking to go abroad, you may not always be able to contact a given church, school, or community. And even if you can get in touch, there may not be much of a chance to get involved. Which brings us to our next point:

Effectiveness

We just touched on the idea that there may not always be a chance to get involved with an entity you reach out to as an individual. And the truth of the matter is that this is a more complex issue than some might assume. Most of the time, Individual churches, schools, and so on, simply aren't prepared to accommodate and host volunteers by themselves. They may not have space or supplies for you to operate with and there may be issues with language and translation. They often won't have liability insurance, whereas when you work with an IVPA member you're covered by medical and liability insurance. In some cases, they may not even be able to provide meals or accommodations for unprepared travelers. On top of all of these issues, there's also a high likelihood that by volunteering without the support of an organization, you'll be pulling someone away from their own tasks; someone will have to assist or train you, such that you are inadvertently reducing the resource of the school, church, or community that you are trying to help.

The beauty of NGOs, among other things, is that they take all of this into account and have thoroughly established processes in place to make work as comfortable and effective as possible. Indeed, when you volunteer through organizations that have been vetted by quality affirming entities such as IVPA, you're not only supported, but even spared your own costs, in a sense. The cost to participate is tax deductible against your income (as is any related airfare).

Travel

When you travel on your own to volunteer –– even if you mean well and take proper precautions –– there is always the chance that you violate cultural or societal norms you're unaware of. For example, if you're volunteering in Cuba, you may not realize that Cuban culture all but forbids people from accepting charity. However, a "gift of friendship" is acceptable. This is the kind of local detail an NGO will be aware of, and will prepare you for. Generally speaking, these organizations will help you to understand in advance what you're walking into, such that you don't offend, embarrass, or even inadvertently endanger the very people you're trying to help.

Meanwhile, to briefly touch on a more personal perk, there's also something to be said for the opportunity to go abroad! For the most part, NGOs offer the possibility of traveling across borders in order to participate in volunteer projects. While many volunteers had to return home during the pandemic, some NGOs are starting to send volunteers out once more. If you enjoy traveling, volunteering for an NGO can be one of the most rewarding ways to appease your travel bug –– whereas when you volunteer as an individual, it's not quite as easy (or sometimes even as doable) to find a reasonable opportunity to do good work abroad.

Socialization

Humans are social creatures, and we enjoy the company of others. Volunteering for an NGO gives us the opportunity to socialize more than we normally would, which is great news for those of us who have found ourselves rather isolated over the last few years. Volunteering for an NGO whose advocacies you support also means that you’ll be in more contact with like-minded people with similar ideas and beliefs. This not only makes for more effective work on the ground, more often than not, but also opens the door to establishing relationships that can result in more service opportunities in the future.

Language

Have you thought about learning a new language? Studies show that the most effective way to learn a language is to be immersed in it. If you’re keen on learning Spanish, for example, you can look for NGOs that have a presence in a Spanish-speaking country. Chances are, you’ll pick up some of the language passively. Besides, you’ll be in the perfect place to take some courses and learn from native speakers.

Job Opportunities

Having a well-known NGO on your resume can do wonders for your job search. Volunteering often helps you develop certain skills, such as effective communication and critical thinking - which is something recruiters keep an eye out for.

On top of this, remember that NGOs don’t depend solely on volunteers - they also have employees on payroll. An NGO may be more inclined to hire a former or current volunteer from “inside” first before hiring externally, which means that you could possibly work for the NGO if you meet the qualifications for the job.

Volunteering is an extremely rewarding experience that offers an incredible array of benefits. While it may not be for everyone, it’s worth taking a look to see what opportunities are out there and if they (and their benefits) are a good fit for you.

Authored by Rosalie Janelle
Article exclusively submitted to volunteerinternational.org

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Friday, 01 April 2022 02:17

10 most romantic places in the world

Globe Aware destination Hoi An makes it on the list as one of the most romantic places in the world! The location is famous for its lantern-lined streets and well-preserved historic architecture.


The 10 most romantic places in the world

From Montreal and the Maldives to Las Vegas and Lake Malawi, these are the most romantic places in the world according to us

Written by John Bills
Tuesday 8 February 2022

You can never have enough love in your life, especially when the world around us seems more chaotic than ever. Luckily for lovers worldwide, the planet is packed with romantic places that will simultaneously take your breath away and steal your heart, filling the lungs with love and excitement in equal measure. We live in an incredible corner of the universe, that cannot be denied.

From idyllic island paradises to charming cities and vibrant villages, we’ve scoured the globe in search of the most romantic places in the world. The final selection covers the classics while introducing a couple of places you might not be aware of: secret spots for you and yours to plan the rest of eternity together.

1. Montreal, Canada
Swoon. There’s something about magical Montreal that really sets it apart from other cities in North America, something that screams ‘romance’ and promises to never let go. It could be the curious combination of Canadian confidence and European elegance, or it could be the tangible history that sparkles from every corner of the city’s historic heart. In truth, it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as whatever ‘it’ is keeps on shining. Seek out one of the many rooftop bars in the Old Town and soak it all in. 

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2. Herzegovina
With the heart in its name and wine flowing from every corner, Herzegovina remains one of Europe’s final hidden treasures. The use of the word ‘hidden’ isn’t entirely accurate, of course, as any summertime visitor to Mostar, Kravice Waterfalls or Medjugorje will attest, but the passionate southern portion of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a beautiful region filled with romance-friendly adventures for lovers of all shapes and sizes. From exploring wild rivers by kayak to the shimmering allure of the Tekija in Blagaj, Herzegovina is a destination defined by the heart. If the sight of Počitelj doesn’t make you fall head over heels in love, you might want to check your pulse.

3. Venice, Italy
Where else to begin? No city on the planet encapsulates the idyllic concept of romance quite like Venice. There is beauty around every corner here, from sunrise to sunset and beyond, with narrow canals and Renaissance architecture transporting visitors to a rose-tinted wonderland. The romantic restaurants don’t hurt, while the many bridges of Venice seem tailor-made for proclamations of passion. All this without mentioning the inherent romance of a gondola ride? Venice is a city for lovers, old and young.

4. Marrakech, Morocco
With the colours, the smells, the sounds and the sights, Marrakech is the sort of place that reawakens the senses with a cacophony of excitement. Somehow it manages to be forthright and wistful all at the same time, a dizzying destination that is perfect for the passionate, making it a thrilling destination for romantic visitors of all types. It also happens to be known as the City of Luxury, with all the ornate palaces and life-giving spa and wellness options anyone could need.

5. Kyoto, Japan
Tokyo gets all the noise, but Kyoto is where it’s at. The historic and cultural capital of this most fascinating nation, Kyoto is a picture-postcard city of classical Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, traditional wooden houses and imperial gardens. The food is incredible, the people are magnificent, the atmosphere is spellbinding. Kyoto is Japan at its most romantic, with bamboo forests offering a breathtaking backdrop for a starry-eyed stroll. The city has become something of a hotspot for proposals, and it isn’t hard to understand why.

6. Prague, Czech Republic
The City of a Hundred Spires seems to have been built with love in mind. That can be the only takeaway from a moment spent looking over the Czech capital from the viewpoint at Letna Hill, a beer in one hand and beloved in the other. Prague is a postcard city of stories, a famous old wonder that has inspired generations of authors for centuries and will continue to do so as the years fly by. The Old Town gets most of the attention, but don’t be afraid to explore further afield either; each district has its own unique feel, from the modern stylings of Karlin to the grandeur of Vinohrady and beyond.

7. Zanzibar
Zanzibar’s dazzling beaches have long made it a popular honeymoon destination, but there is more to the island than the natural beauty of where sand meets sea meets sun. Traditions are important here, and that makes for a more sedate pace of life in the very best way. Zanzibar is a place where couples can step back and fall in love with what they have all over again, complete with shimmering coral reefs and all the spices the palate can handle.

8. Niagara Falls, Canada/USA
The Honeymoon Capital of the World? That’ll be Niagara Falls. The world’s most famous waterfall is a take-your-breath-away sight if ever there was one, and isn’t that one of the great experiences of love? The thrilling moments of realisation that this person is the one, the sort of experience that always hits different when backed by 3,160 tons of water rushing by every single second. It might not be the most original of honeymoon spots, but who cares about originality when it’s the heart we’re talking about?

9. Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An’s famous lantern-lined streets are an idyllic spot for twilight walks and candid conversations, backed by well-preserved historic Vietnamese architecture that tells plenty of stories. The town’s lantern boat rides are the thing of romantic dreams – a tremendous combination of natural delicacy and impressive confidence – while Hoi An also has one of the best cocktail scenes in the country.

10. Iceland
Iceland can feel like another world, a world filled with all the best bits of nature from thrilling geysers to moon-like craters and more. There’s nowhere quite like it, and it’s that unique atmosphere that brings lovers here in search of something special. It doesn’t get more special than the staggering light show of the Aurora Borealis, an achingly gorgeous experience that everyone should seek out at least once in their lives. The eccentric side of capital Reykjavik is plenty romantic in its own right.

Additional Info

  • Source Time Out

Interested in a Globe Aware volunteer vacation in Kenya? Here’s how to make the most of a trip to this East African nation, from safety and visas to clothing and etiquette.


 

Here are the things you need to know before traveling to Kenya

MEERA DATTANI
Lonely Planet Writer
8 MARCH 2022


Think of Kenya and safari jeeps and beach scenes come to mind, but Nairobi has exciting city life and rich cultural encounters, too.

Here’s how to make the most of a trip to this East African nation, from safety and visas to clothing and etiquette.

Check the visa requirements for Kenya

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many nationalities could obtain a visa on arrival, but now, a visa in advance might be necessary. Check Kenya’s official visa website and allow time to complete the application. Random checks can mean extra questions for some travelers, even after submitting and payment.

You won’t receive an email confirmation of your Kenya visa application or payment, so you need to log in to check its status. Once issued, print a color copy (or two) of the visa and payment and keep them to hand, even for domestic flights, such as between Nairobi and Mombasa. You may also need to upload COVID-19 test results, health status and vaccination records, so check the current entry requirements.

Pack smart for Kenya – it’s not always hot

Early morning safaris can be chilly, so it’s wise to take layers for a trip to Kenya. Similarly, temperatures can drop at night in the highlands, so fleeces and even windproof waterproofs are recommended. On the other hand, staying cool is key by the coast or in the city. Pack cool, breathable fabrics and cover up in the midday sun.

Leave your plastics at home

Kenya banned single-use plastics in 2017, so leave any carrier bags (and preferably single-use plastic water bottles and straws) at home. The bag ban is countrywide – luggage is often scanned so don’t pack shoes or other items in plastic bags. Single-use plastic bottles and straws are banned in national parks – bring a reusable water bottle from home.

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Do you need malaria tablets for Kenya? Probably.

The risk of malaria is low in Nairobi, and in the highlands above 2500m (8200ft), but you should still avoid being bitten. The majority of Kenya falls into a malarial zone, so take advice on which antimalarial is best suited to you between atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline or mefloquine. Brand names you might be more familiar with include Malarone and Lariam, but check with your physician, pharmacy or travel clinic.

Greet people with “mambo” or “niaje”

“Jambo” is the best-known greeting in Kenya, but if you want to show off your sheng (a Swahili and English combo originating among Nairobi’s younger population), try greeting people with “mambo vipi.” The common reply is “poa.” Alternatively, say “niaje,” to which someone will reply with “niaje.”

Feel free to bargain, but don’t go too far

A sense of humor is essential when bargaining. It’s fine to offer a lower price in markets and some shops – many sellers will start with a higher price, and it can be fun to barter and meet in the middle. Few sellers will accept too low an offer so have some fun with it – just bear in mind what you’re prepared to pay and don’t over-haggle.

Leaving a tip goes down a treat

Tipping isn’t expected in Kenya, but if you’ve had a good meal or service, leaving around 10% is appreciated. In hotels, you can also tip porters and housekeeping staff. Some calculate it at Ksh100 to Ksh200 (US$1 to US$2) a day while others round it up at the end. Keep small change on you for tips and shopping in markets.

If you’re taking a taxi, round up to the nearest 100, but tips are not always necessary. Taxi apps are popular, and you can add a tip at the end of the journey through the app. Avoid giving money in exchange for preferential service.

Be respectful of local communities

Don’t take photos of people without asking permission, particularly in rural areas. If you want to publish any photos, even on social media, it’s respectful to carry a consent form and say “asante” (thank you).

Be particularly conscious around children or other vulnerable people. If you’re given the OK to take a photo, show them the photo. Think twice before visiting a school or another place that would be strange in your home country.

Dress appropriately – but don’t overthink it

Kenya is moderately conservative, but that doesn’t mean you need to cover your shoulders and knees everywhere. In Nairobi, in towns and on safari, shorts, dresses and sleeveless tops are fine to wear, and the same goes for most beach resorts, although walking around in swimwear isn’t appropriate. In Muslim communities such as Lamu Town, dressing more conservatively is advised. Loose clothing can be more comfortable in the heat.

Don’t rush – go with the flow

It’s misleading to suggest the whole of Kenya operates on some slower “Kenya time” – Nairobi can have the same pace and rhythm as any major city. But the heat and humidity of the coastal areas, around Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu for example, can mean life is lived at a more relaxed pace. Bear that in mind before expecting certain tasks and services to be carried out immediately, and instead, go with the flow and enjoy a pole pole (“slowly” in Swahili) way of life.

You can boil the tap water in Kenya and drink it

Tap water in Kenya isn’t off-limits. If you have the facilities, you can boil the tap water – it’s soft and sweet – and drink it once cooled. That’s not always an option, in which case filtered water in restaurants and hotels is safe. You can buy plastic-bottled water, but it’s better to bring your own reusable bottle and filter.

Pack a power bank

Power cuts in Kenya can occur (they’re usually not for long, in most places), so if you rely on your smartphone, take a power bank and ensure it’s always charged. If you’re going on safari, a spare camera battery for a DSLR is handy, as is a decent flashlight in case of power cuts but also when walking around the safari camp at night. In addition to helping you navigate in low light, it will help you look out for insects and snakes. Headlamps are especially handy if you’re camping, for reading and nighttime bathroom trips.

Don’t be scared by headlines, but know your geography

People often ask, “Is Kenya safe for tourists?” Few incidents involve tourists, especially in game reserves and tourist areas, but a few areas are better to avoid, including but not limited to, within 60km (37 miles) of the Kenya-Somali border, Garissa county and Lamu county (excluding Lamu Island and Manda Island – travel by air if you do). Check the latest guidelines from your government before traveling. In Nairobi, as with any city, keep valuables safe and your wits about you.

Keep embassy and consulate details to hand

Wherever you’re from, it’s savvy to know contact details of your embassy or consulate. Take photos of your passport, visa and other documents, such as your vaccination proof, and keep them to hand in your phone and on email. Carry an original form of ID if possible. A driver's license is useful if you don’t want to carry your passport.

Additional Info

  • Source Lonely Planet
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