Additional Info

  • Source Self

Positive news to share with our Globe Aware volunteers and coordinators! The U.S. announced it will send 55 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, in order to "defeat COVID-19 and to achieve global health security.”


U.S. to split 55 million Covid vaccine doses between Latin America, Asia and Africa

JUN 21 2021
Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

The Biden administration announced Monday it will send 55 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread in low- and middle-income nations.

The 55 million vaccine doses are the remaining portion of 80 million shots President Joe Biden has committed to donating abroad. Earlier this month, the administration said it would send the first 25 million doses to South and Central America, Asia, Africa, neighboring countries and U.S. allies.

The U.S. plans to allocate 75% of its initial 80 million doses through COVAX, the nonprofit that distributes vaccines mostly to poor countries, while the remaining shots will be sent to countries currently dealing with surges in new infections, the administration said Monday.

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The administration said about 14 million doses will go to places in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Uruguay, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Panama and Costa Rica.

About 16 million will go to countries in Asia like India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos and Thailand, the administration said. About 10 million doses will go to Africa and are expected to be shared with countries that will be selected in coordination with the African Union, it said.

Another 14 million will be shared with “regional priorities and other recipients” such as Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia and Ukraine, the administration said.

“Sharing millions of U.S. vaccines with other countries signals a major commitment by the U.S. government,” the administration said in a release detailing its plan. “Just like we have in our domestic response, we will move as expeditiously as possible, while abiding by U.S. and host country regulatory and legal requirements.”

The announcement Monday comes as more than half of the U.S. population has had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and new cases and deaths have fallen sharply.

As of Sunday, more than 177 million Americans, or 53.3% of the population, have had at least one shot, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 149 million Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the agency.

The pandemic outlook in other countries is more bleak, however, with some places such as Africa reporting an increasingly worrying rise in Covid cases.

The World Health Organization is urging wealthy nations to donate doses. Many countries have made pledges to share millions of shots around the world, but WHO officials say those doses need to make their way to low-income countries immediately and without delay.

Earlier this month, the administration said it would buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer Covid vaccine to share through the global COVAX alliance to donate to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union over the next year.

The administration said the doses are vital “component of our overall global effort to lead the world in the fight to defeat COVID-19 and to achieve global health security.”

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  • Source CNBC

Hoi An is much loved for its peaceful atmosphere, centuries-old houses, and unique cuisine. Consider a Globe Aware volunteer vacation in Vietnam for summer 2022!


Hoi An among 10 cheapest global tourist destinations

By Nguyen Quy
June 21, 2021

Hoi An Town in central Vietnam is eighth on this year’s annual list of 10 cheapest tourist destinations in the world.

The ancient town in Quang Nam Province and Bali in Indonesia are the only two Southeast Asian destinations to break into the top 10, with the latter standing in fourth position, according to the annual Holiday Money report released by the Post Office, the U.K.’s leading currency exchange agency.

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The ranking is based on the minimum required budget for eight staple items that holidaymakers are likely to purchase – a cup of coffee, a pint of beer, a can/bottle of Coca-Cola, a bottle of water, sun cream, insect repellent, and a three-course dinner for two with a bottle of wine at 46 tourist destinations worldwide.

According to the report, the average cost in Hoi An is £58.39 ($80.51) per day, which is more expensive than the famous resort island of Bali at £55.01 ($75.89).

In Hoi An, a can/bottle of beer at a resort would cost around £2.85 ($3.93), and a cup of coffee, £0.71 ($0.97), the report said. A romantic dinner for two - a three-course evening meal, including a bottle of house wine, would cost tourists around £34.37 ($75.9) while a glass of wine would cost £2.6 ($3.58).

Sunny Beach in Bulgaria topped the lowest cost destination ranking, with an average daily cost of just £27.71 ($38.22). Turkey's Marmaris was the second cheapest tourist destination at £37.19 ($51.33).

Hoi An, much loved for its peaceful atmosphere and its centuries-old houses, pagodas and even its unique cuisine, has repeatedly featured in best-value destination lists.

A UNESCO heritage site and home to beautiful beaches like An Bang, it was named among world's 25 most popular travel destinations in the 2021 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards.

Additional Info

  • Source VnExpress
Thursday, 17 June 2021 16:48

Here's A Guide if You are Flying Overseas

Face shields required in airports at Peru, 21-day quarantines in some countries...with international air travel surging in the summer our Globe Aware volunteers will run into quite a range of travel restrictions and entry requirements.


Flying Overseas? There's A LOT You Need To Know. Here's A Guide

June 11, 2021
FRAN KRITZ and DAVID SCHAPER

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions." See an archive of our FAQs here.

I live in the U.S. and am considering a trip to another country. What do I need to know about international air travel at this stage of pandemic?

First of all, you have plenty of company. International air travel is expected to surge this summer. Americans are thinking of European vacations again. "We've had people asking a lot about Europe," says Chicago-area travel adviser Kendra Thornton of Royal Travel & Tours. "Not necessarily booking but wanting to keep tabs on it."

In addition, residents of the U.S. with family members in other countries are eager for a reunion after pandemic-enforced separations. People may be traveling abroad for work as well.

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They'll run into quite a range of travel restrictions and entry requirements.

NPR correspondent Jason Beaubien was surprised to see his face on a giant screen in an airport in Sierra Leone, where thermal scanners take the temperature of everyone in the crowd simultaneously. Airport personnel takes aside anyone who registers a fever for evaluation.

Travelers headed to Peru should pack a face shield. You have to wear it in crowded spaces such as an airport.

What's more, the protocols may change as new variants, such as the highly contagious Delta variant, spread and take hold in different countries.

So if you're itching to travel abroad or have already booked a trip, you probably have a lot of questions. Here are some guidelines that might help you deal with the new rules of international flight:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says to get vaccinated before you go. Air travelers should be fully vaccinated regardless of the risk level in the country you're visiting, according to the health agency. There's still a lot of virus circulating.

Keep track of the ever-changing guidelines and restrictions for your destination. You can check specific travel requirements through the U.S. State Department website or your destination's Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health.

In addition, the CDC provides guidance on travel to other countries, which are ranked from "very high" risk of COVID-19 transmission to "low" (among them China, Iceland and Rwanda).

Avoid countries in the "very high" category unless it is essential travel. There are 60 countries on this list, ranging from Argentina to Yemen.

Some countries are closed to visitors but make exceptions. Belgium, Canada, the United Kingdom and Uruguay are a few examples. But some of these "no visitor" countries may make exceptions for the death or serious illness of a family member. If those are your circumstances, you may be able to visit. But the authorities might not/will not take your word for it. Expect to have to show proof of the reason for the visit, such as a death certificate or a doctor's note about a family member's illness. You can inquire about rules in your destination by contacting the American Embassy or Consulate there, or the country's embassy in the United States.

And changes occur almost daily in this matter, so it's good to keep an eye on the State Department's or the country's official website for updates.

Bring your vaccination card. Some countries want to see your vaccination card, so make sure your official CDC vaccination card is filled out with the date of your dose or doses (if you received a two-dose vaccine). It's a good idea to make a copy of the card or have a photo on your phone as backup, suggests Thornton, the travel adviser.

Lost your card? Reach out to your vaccination provider or contact your state health department's immunization information system.

You can also present the World Health Organization international certificate of vaccination, also known as a yellow card. You can ask your vaccine provider to add your COVID-19 vaccination info if you already have a card. Or if you need one, you can purchase it through the U.S. Government Bookstore, which tells NPR it has seen a 55% increase in sales in the last six months. Cards are on back order but should be available by the end of June. Or you can purchase one from the WHO, which means waiting at least a week for shipment from Switzerland.

What about vaccine apps? Vaccine apps that show your record could be accepted as well, but there's no guarantee that border control will accept these as proof, so bringing a paper record is a good idea.

Citizens of the European Union will soon have a Digital COVID Certificate system that provides a scannable QR code to verify vaccination status and coronavirus test results. This should smooth travel between member states but won't help a vaccinated tourist from outside the EU.

Airlines are trying to help their customers meet the vaccination and testing requirements of various countries by developing their own apps. The International Air Transport Association has rolled out its own IATA Travel Pass, which many major airlines around the world will use.

But officials say calling it a vaccine passport, as many people are, is a bit of a misnomer.

"It's more of a digital credential associated with your vaccination or testing profile," the IATA's Nick Careen says. "So the consumer can use that to help them through their passenger journey."

British Airways, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways and Emirates are among the global airlines running trials of IATA's travel pass app, which is expected to go live soon.

Other airlines, including American, will be using an app called VeriFly.

American's Preston Peterson told NPR that "because the requirements for entry differ by almost every single country and, in some cases, by the region within a country," the app will give the customer "the peace of mind to know that they comply with those different regulations."

"A customer can submit their documentation, have it verified and then they receive a green check mark, or effectively, an OK to travel status, that we as the airline trust, the customer can trust and then they know they're ready to go," Peterson says, adding that the app will update in real time as entry requirements for various destinations change.

But even proof of vaccination may not be sufficient to ease your entry. Some countries don't care if you have a vaccine card, as they can be easily faked or forged, or a digital vaccine pass on an app. They'll still insist on a PCR test to determine if you're infected several days before flying into and out of their airports. Most countries are asking airline personnel to verify the test. A positive result means the trip is off. That's the case in Egypt, some European countries and Israel. And you can't leave Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, after arrival in the country without taking a coronavirus test; airport personnel usher everyone to the clinic tent right after baggage claim.

Even if you're vaccinated and tested negative for the coronavirus, you may have to quarantine. Samoa, for example, requires a minimum 21-day quarantine for all incoming passengers.

Keep up on testing requirements before your departure. They definitely change. Because of the high rate of cases, Namibia on June 1 changed its visitor entry rules from a simple self-test for the coronavirus to a typically more expensive laboratory test conducted before leaving your home country and not older than seven days before your arrival.

The State Department site dates its updates so you can see when a change was made, and it also provides links to specific country guidelines provided by U.S. consulates and embassies.

Check the latest requirements three days before your flight just to make sure. Some airports, such as Chicago's O'Hare International and Los Angeles International, offer on-site coronavirus tests, but these can be pricier options than you might find elsewhere. And airport testing sites might have limited hours, so check before you head to the airport.

Get alerted. It's a good idea to sign up for notices on international travel from the State Department, says Zane Kerby, president of the American Society of Travel Advisors. In Portugal, for example, increased cases of the COVID-19 variant known as Delta, identified as likely more transmissible and causing more severe disease, has put the country at a higher risk level.

Bring proof of health insurance. Even if you're a veteran traveler who knows that your insurance carrier covers you overseas, be sure to check on COVID-19 coverage before you leave. Some countries, such as Argentina, require that you have a notice from your health insurer that specifically mentions COVID-19 coverage as proof that you are covered for the virus. Cambodia requires all foreigners to purchase insurance from the government on arrival: $90 for 20 days of coverage. Also check to see if your policy covers medical evacuation insurance, or consider buying a separate policy if not. Travel specialists say it's a wise investment during a pandemic.

The CDC offers great background information on health insurance and foreign travel on its site. If you buy a supplemental plan, the State Department site recommends looking for one that will pay for care directly rather than reimburse you so out-of-pocket expenses are limited.

Brush up on testing requirements. All air passengers coming to the United States — residents who have traveled abroad and visitors as well — are required to have a negative coronavirus viral test no more than three days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past three months before they will be allowed to board a flight to the United States.

That test can be either a so-called molecular test done at a laboratory that can detect specific genetic material from the virus and is the most precise test, or an antigen test — which can be done as a self-test — which detects proteins on the surface of the virus if you were infected.

Embassy and consular notes on the State Department's travel website offer detailed information on locations for a molecular test in each country if available. In some countries. the test is free. Or it could cost up to $200. Check the State Department travel site, which offers frequently updated, detailed testing requirements and resources for many countries.

Self-tests are a limited option. Right now, only two airlines are making self-tests easily available United and American – and you need to be able to perform the self-test while conducting a telehealth visit with a designated clinic. For more information, contact United or American if you will be returning home on either carrier or eMed.com, a telehealth company handling the testing to see if you qualify for the self-test, even if you're on another carrier.

If you're not vaccinated, though, you may want to choose a lab test rather than the self-test for re-entry, "especially if you're returning from a country experiencing high rates of COVID-19," says Matthew Binnicker, vice chair of practice in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the Mayo Clinic. That's because the lab test can be more accurate than the self-test, according to guidelines published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Don't forget your mask. While some jurisdictions around the world are beginning to loosen COVID-19 restrictions, the Transportation Security Administration in late April extended its mask requirement to Sept. 13 (and could extend it further) for U.S. airports and on board U.S. airlines. Many foreign carriers have the same rule.

Fran Kritz is a health policy reporter based in Washington, D.C., who has contributed to The Washington Post and Kaiser Health News. Find her on Twitter: @fkritz

Additional Info

  • Source NPR
Wednesday, 16 June 2021 10:38

Puerto Rico Eases Covid Entry Protocols

Traveling to Puerto Rico is now even easier with updated entry requirements. Fully vaccinated Globe Aware volunteers arriving from the U.S. can visit without a negative COVID-19 test and don't need to wear masks at beaches and parks.


 

Puerto Rico Eases Entry Protocols

JUNE 07, 2021

Puerto Rico further eased COVID-19 protocols, allowing for more access to public facilities and increased capacities at commercial businesses effective June 7. The updated measures were announced in a June 3 executive order.

Under the changes, Puerto Rico bars and game rooms may now reopen at 50 percent capacity. Outdoor bars and "chinchorros" are not subject to capacity limits, but patrons not from the same family unit must maintain a physical distance of six feet from one another.

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In addition, a 75 percent capacity threshold is now authorized for restaurants, malls, casinos, theaters, museums and hotel pool facilities. Social activities, including corporate and business events, may also proceed at 75 percent capacity. Attendees are required to provide proof of a negative PCR antigen test result or proof of full vaccination.

Puerto Rico’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is providing Johnson and Johnson vaccination in Terminal B. Vaccination is also being offered on the Puerto Rican islands of Vieques and Culebra via the Maritime Transportation Authority ferry terminal in Ceiba.

The revised measures follow the government’s recent move to eliminate negative COVID-19 PCR test requirements for fully vaccinated travelers arriving on domestic flights and the lifting of the local curfew.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

Globe Aware volunteers could see some major changes in the not-so-distant future when it comes to air travel. This could include multi-level cabins and stand-up seats. 


Double-Decker Airplane Cabins Might Be the Future of Air Travel

Air travel could see some major changes in the not-so-distant future, including multi-level cabins.

By Caitlyn Hitt
6/3/2021

Air travel has evolved a lot since the days of Lewis and Clark, but one thing remains constant: Uncomfortably cramped quarters. However, plane designers have been hard at work trying to change this without having to cut the number of passengers a plane can fit (aka profit for airlines).

Plane designers have toyed with several different seating concepts, including stand-up seats, but it’s multi-level airplane cabins that are really catching on lately: Zephyr introduced such double-decker lie-flat seats last year, which quickly went viral.

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At this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards, which judges aircraft interior innovation, a similar dual-level cabin was introduced, called the Chaise Longue Economy Seat Project. It was designed by 21-year-old Alejandro Nuñez Vicente, a Spanish native who’s studying at TU Delft University in the Netherlands.

His concept differed from other multi-level cabin ideas in that it suggested alternating each row of seats between on-floor seating and elevated seating, getting rid of overhead bins to make more space, instead storing carry-ons under seats. He told CNN Travel that he believed doing so would increase leg room.

“The lower row has the advantage of passengers having the lounge experience of a couch by stretching the legs, whilst the upper row provides an SUV experience, making it possible for instance to cross the legs due to the increased leg room and overall living space,” he said.

Vicente’s design wouldn’t just give people more leg room and more room to move about the aisles, it would also allow for more space to recline, without worrying about lying in another passenger’s lap behind you, or getting kicked in the back the whole flight.

Right now, Vicente’s concept is just that: A concept. However, he’s working with a few professors from TU Delft to present his idea to airlines and get the ball rolling, meaning there’s a very real possibility you may see double-decker airline cabins before long.

“At the moment, this is an internal student-led university project that still hasn’t been formally presented to airlines. However, some companies in the aerospace sector have already shown interest in the Chaise Lounge Economy Seat project, presenting possible chances for future collaborations,” he said.

Additional Info

  • Source Thrillist
Wednesday, 09 June 2021 16:24

How to Plan a Trip Again

Air travel is officially up and travelers are scrambling to make up for a year of missed adventures. A Globe Aware adventure is the perfect way to ease yourself back into travel with a planned volunteer vacation.


How to Plan a Trip Again, According to Experts

The lowdown on safety protocols, under-the-radar car rental alternatives, and tricks for getting the best flight deals.

By Vanita Salisbury

You’re vaxxed, you’re snaxxed, you’ve got your essential apps, and now you’re itchin’ to break out of town. And you’re not the only one: Air travel is officially up, with the TSA screening 1.85 million travelers on Sunday, May 16 at US airports, the highest number since March 2020.

Travelers are scrambling to make up for a year of missed adventures: Airbnbs and campsite reservations are filling up months in advance, rental cars are the new unicorns, and airfares aren't as cheap as you'd think.

Over 70% of American travelers say they are excited and open to trips in the near-term, according to the most recent data by Destination Analysts. 46.3% of American travelers say they’re planning low key close-to-home escapes, while 40.7% plan to get more ambitious with the vacation plans. 1-in-10 are going all in and booking that bucket list trip.

So, um, how do you plan a trip again? We’ve been housebound for over a year so it’s understandable that some of the details have fallen out of your brain. In the past year some new important details have sprung up—like safety protocols, under-the-radar car rental alternatives, and tricks for getting the best deals. We’re here to guide you through all of it. Buckle up.

Take extra care to be respectful of your destination

Just because your community feels somewhat back to "normal," keep in mind that may not be the case at your destination. Some communities may still be experiencing high rates of Covid-19; others may be in emotional recovery mode. And with dangerous new variants and the virus’s continued impact around the world, even vaccinated travelers need to remain vigilant and extra conscientious. Do a little research, contact your hotel, or check with local authorities to get a feel for what you're walking into.

Kylie Shmida, Director of Experience at The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Honolulu, recommends travelers check the Hawaii Tourism Authority website for regular updates. “Keeping the harmony that is part of Hawaii’s charm is important to us,” she says. “We greatly appreciate travelers of Oahu who are respectful of current guidelines and have made it a priority to stay up to date on the island’s current regulations.”

No matter where you're traveling, practice kindness, patience, and empathy. Some workers in the tourism sector have been working non-stop throughout the pandemic, often with reduced wages. There are new systems in place that everyone is still getting used to. So mask up when asked, respect boundaries, maintain your distance, and be safe out there.

Book flights now, but know you have flexibility

At the start of the pandemic, domestic flight prices plummeted and last-minute fares were a steal. But alas, all good things must come to an end—or, in this case, revert back to the relatively cheap fares we had pre-pandemic.

“Business travel has been slowly inching back up, whereas vacation travel has rebounded much more quickly,” says Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights. “Summer travel, especially at this point, will likely start to get pretty expensive, because summer flights always get more expensive."

Planes are also, once again, packed. Airlines are no longer blocking out middle seats for social distancing—Delta was the last holdout—despite findings from the CDC that spacing on airplanes was beneficial to reducing the spread of Covid-19. If your comfort level hinges on space, pay extra for a seat with more room or look for a less popular flight. For their part, airlines are still enforcing mandatory mask wearing.

Here's one silver lining to come out of the pandemic: Flexible cancellation and flight change policies have now become the norm. "US airlines—all the big ones: Delta, United, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Alaska—they all joined Southwest in permanently getting rid of change fees,” says Keyes. (The one exception is that it doesn’t apply to basic economy tickets.)

One of Keyes’s favorite tips for finding cheap flights in his new book Take More Vacations: How to Search Better, Book Cheaper, and Travel the World is that if you see an exceptionally low fare to an awesome destination—even one you weren’t necessarily looking to go to—book it, and figure out logistics later. That’s even easier now that you're free to reschedule or cancel your flight should the situation change.

ABCP: Always Be Covid Prepared

We’ll come up with a better acronym later. That means packing a few masks for hotels, transportation, attractions, amusement parks, or just emergencies (KN95s are your best bet for protection). The abundantly cautious among us may want a travel thermometer, but everyone should have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to sanitize surfaces on your plane and at your destination.

Bring a pen in your carry-on to fill out customs and immigration forms ahead of time to avoid waiting hours in a line once you land (plus it’s good for crossword puzzles). Snacks are back on some airlines like Delta, but you may want to pack your own just in case. Squirrel away a straw for sipping beverages under your mask. A metal option might give you some trouble at TSA (we’re speaking from experience) so bamboo might be your best bet. Or for a fun snack after, a Twizzler.

Know your testing and mask requirements

The CDC recommends delaying any trip until you're fully inoculated. If you’re not fully vaccinated and must travel, follow their recommendations for unvaccinated people: get tested three days before you travel and stay six feet apart from other people. Honestly, that’s good advice for everyone: many countries open to US travelers require proof of a negative Covid test taken within a few days before traveling, even if you’re vaccinated. Check the requirements of your destination before jumping on a plane.

Though there’s not yet proof of vaccination required to board a flight domestically—or even proof of a negative Covid test beyond the honor system—that will probably change soon. Have some documentation on hand, even if it’s just a photo of your vaccination card on your phone.

“I bought just a plastic sleeve—you can get them at any office supply store,” says Keyes. “I didn’t want to spill and damage or lose this card because it’s going to be really important for international travel, and second I put it in a sleeve rather than laminating it just in case we need to have booster shots in the fall; you want to be able to add that to your card. And it’ll be a lot more difficult if it’s been laminated.”

For traveling back into the US from an international destination, per the CDC website you need to get tested no more than 72 hours before you fly back, and show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight. This does not apply to US territories.

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Be efficient in the airport

If you’re the type to beeline to the airport bar for your traditional pre-flight beer because hey, you’re on airport time and anything goes, these days you may have to adjust your carefree airport expectations. “It’s less a fun and joyous and relaxed place to be and more of an ‘alright I’m here to take this flight,’ mentality,” says Keyes. “But everybody just kind of understands, ‘okay let’s all get through this.’”

Airports these days are streamlined to function as efficiently and safely as possible. Which means some stores and restaurants are still closed, and the ones that are open have long lines. Seating in the airport terminals may also be at a premium, with some seats removed to promote social distancing, plus an uptick in travelers. If you can, get a day pass to an airport lounge, which mostly still invokes capacity limits.

Many airports are going touchless, with more check-in kiosks, self-serve baggage drops, utilization of the mobile food ordering app Grab, and hands-free sinks and soap dispensers in bathrooms (some go into the future: Dubai International Airport has adopted widespread facial recognition and Singapore's Changi Airport has cleaning robots!). Be ready for temperature checks — maybe fancy ones like the thermal scanning at Hawaii’s five large airports — and by federal mandate, face masks are still required. And good news: TSA now allows liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 oz in your carry-on, up from the regular 3.4 oz for other liquids. That’s the size of a can of Coke!

Maybe just ball out with a private jet

Got loads of cash for a private jet? Good for you! Figure it out yourself.

Jk, jk, with membership programs you don’t actually need a ton of cash to fly private these days. Private jet users unsurprisingly skyrocketed for their obvious safety benefits: less touch points (about 20 points vs 700 on a commercial flight), more room, and with access to 5,000 airports versus the 500 that serve commercial flights, dropping you closer to your destination. Companies like XO, Blade, FlyJet and Air Charter Service allow you to purchase a membership and share a plane with other passengers, with flights sometimes working out cheaper than if you book traditionally.

Weigh your rental car options

When travel slowed down last year, rental car companies compensated for losses by selling off large portions of their fleet—we’re talking hundreds of thousands of cars. Which now means that there are less cars in rotation. So even if there is a rental car available for you, the price will definitely be significantly higher than it was pre-pandemic.

If you think you’re going to want a rental car, book as early as possible. And don’t rely on search engines: this is where tenacity and charm will be your best friend. Pick up the phone to call about inventory, or, better yet, visit the rental company. And make note of who you spoke with, just in case somehow your reservation gets “lost.”

If traditional car rental places fail, try alternatives like Zipcar or the car sharing app Turo, which is like Airbnb for rental cars. Browse by location or make (we spotted a Maserati on there) and cancel for free up to 24 hours before your trip. And if that doesn’t work, why not consider the RV? Apps like RVShare and Outdoorsy connect you with owners of camper vans, Class As, and everything in between, and it’s a way to travel the country in a style you may not thought possible before.

The bottom line? Be flexible. You may not score what you think is your ideal car, but it might turn out to be something even better. And if it’s an RV, watch out: your friends may crash your new sweet ride.

Additional Info

  • Source Thrillist

If you are fully vaccinated, the chance of being infected with Covid-19 is low however you could test positive during travel. In order to prepare for a Globe Aware volunteer vacation, make sure to check with your country's entry guidelines and airline policies.


What happens if you test positive during a COVID-tested flight?

Katie Genter
May 20, 2021

Sitting in the COVID-19 testing area at several airports recently, I wondered, “What happens if my test comes back positive?”

After all, one of the most significant risks of taking COVID-19 tests while traveling is that you could test positive. Whether you contract COVID-19 or have the misfortune of a rare false positive, getting a positive result certainly complicates your trip.

Multiple TPG staffers have gotten positive test results unexpectedly while away from home. For example, one TPG staffer tested positive on a layover in San Francisco. Another saw a three-night spring break turn into a 15-day quarantined mess. So, getting an unexpected positive result during your trip is certainly possible.

As of May 16, 2021, American tourists can visit Italy without quarantine when arriving on a COVID-tested flight. But, these flights require one or two COVID-19 tests before departure. You’ll also need to take a COVID-19 test when you land in Italy. So, what happens if you test positive at any point during the journey?

Since I flew on a Delta-operated COVID-tested flight recently and picked up some documentation about what happens in the case of a positive result, I’ll focus primarily on what happens if you test positive on one of Delta’s COVID-tested flights from New York-JFK to Milan, Italy (MXP). But, much of this information will also apply to American and United COVID-tested flights.

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Testing positive before travel begins

Delta, United and American all require travelers to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before check-in for COVID-tested flights to Italy.

You typically need to take your test within 48 to 72 hours of the scheduled departure time for your flight to Italy. But, each airline has different requirements regarding what tests are acceptable.

Delta’s website provides the following information about what happens if you test positive before beginning travel:

Customers who receive a positive PCR test result will need to postpone their trip, should self-isolate in accordance with health guidelines and should not come to the airport for check-in. Customers will receive an eCredit for the unflown portion of their ticket and change fees will be waived.

When asked about what happens if a passenger tests positive, an American Airlines spokesperson said, “We have an existing policy that makes exceptions for people with illnesses or health-related issues prior to traveling on American. With proper documentation, we work with the customer to meet their travel needs.”

A United spokesperson echoed the sentiment, saying, “All of our normal change and cancellation [or] refund options would apply if a customer tested positive during their travels.”

So, in short, if you test positive before travel, you should follow the advice given to you by your health care provider. This may involve retesting but will likely also mean you’ll need to cancel or postpone your trip. After all, the formal statement I had to fill out and give to a border police officer when entering Italy required me to declare:

  • Not to have tested positive for COVID-19
  • To have tested positive for COVID-19 with an RT-PCR test abroad but to have:
    • Scrupulously implemented the health protocols required by the authorities of the country where the test has been carried out
    • Observed 14 days of isolation from the last date on which symptoms appeared
    • No longer be subjected to isolation or quarantine measures established by local authorities


If you tested positive on an antigen test and then negative on a molecular test, your health professional may clear you for travel. When I checked in for my Delta flights, I had to check that “In the past 10 days, [I] have not had a COVID-19 diagnosis and have not experienced the onset of any one of the primary symptoms of COVID-19.”

But, a United spokesperson told TPG that “customers need to confirm that they have not tested positive in the last 14 days in order to travel.”

That’s why I recommend getting a molecular test instead of an antigen test whenever possible. After all, molecular tests are the current gold standard to diagnose COVID-19 infections because they detect the specific genetic makeup of the virus.

Testing positive at the airport before departure

If you’re flying on a Delta COVID-tested flight, you’ll also need to take a second COVID-19 test at the airport before boarding your flight to Italy. Delta’s website notes:

Customers who receive positive COVID-19 results at the airport prior to boarding will undergo a second test to confirm the result. Once confirmed, local regulatory guidelines for medical treatment and quarantine will be followed. Affected customers who test positive at the airport will be issued an eCredit and may request a refund of the remainder of their Delta ticket.

When I got a test at the XpresCheck JFK before my Delta flight last Sunday, the lab analyzed my sample using the BinaxNOW antigen test. But, if I’d tested positive on the initial examination, I assume a molecular test would have been used to confirm the result.

It’s unclear whether I’d be allowed to fly if my initial result was positive, but the second test was negative. I reached out to Delta for confirmation but didn’t receive a response in time for publication.

Finally, I didn’t need to pay anything extra for the initial test at JFK. But, it’s unclear whether I would need to pay for a required follow-up test if my initial results come back positive.

Testing positive upon arrival

And finally, if you’re flying on a COVID-tested flight to Italy, you’ll need to take a rapid COVID-19 antigen test at the airport when you arrive. Based on documents I received at the Milan airport when agreeing to the test, the following will occur in the case of a positive or inconclusive result:

  • You’ll “undergo a viral RNA diagnostic investigation by means of an additional nasopharyngeal swab”
  • The health personnel will activate procedures involving home isolation for you and your close contacts. Home isolation will continue until a new viral RNA swab is negative.

The result certification sheet I received in Milan showing my negative test result gave slightly more information. This sheet noted

In the event of a positive test result, the positivity to SARS CoV-2 infection must be confirmed with a second swab performed with a molecular method within 12 hours.

So, it’s unclear whether you can do the second swab at the airport or whether you’d need to go elsewhere in Milan to get a molecular test. But, based on how organized testing was in the Milan airport when I arrived Monday morning, I assume you’ll get more detailed instructions if you test positive.

Bottom line

I didn’t worry much about testing positive during my recent COVID-tested flight to Italy as I’m fully vaccinated. So, my chances of becoming infected with COVID-19 are low — especially when combined with masks, social distancing and other risk-mitigation techniques.

Plus, I took an RT-PCR molecular test about 24 hours before my first flight, so I knew I was negative at that point.

There’s still a risk, however, that I could test positive along the way. And, this is the reason some travelers don’t want to travel outside the U.S. until the U.S. removes its reentry testing requirement. So, you should carefully consider your risk as well as your willingness to change plans last minute or even quarantine away from home. The risk may not be worth the reward for some travelers.

But for me, I decided my risk was adequately low and I enjoyed my last-minute quarantine-free trip to Italy.

Additional Info

  • Source THE POINTS GUY

As travel evolves from virtual to actual, many tourists can get caught up in the excitement of actually planning a trip again -- which may make them more vulnerable to unscrupulous schemes. Globe Aware has been providing reputable volunteer vacations for years, and is happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.


 

Travel is back -- and so are travel scams

Blane Bachelor

CNN

May 26, 2021

(CNN) — With more widespread vaccinations and relaxed travel restrictions, many people are making long-awaited vacation plans. But scammers are making plans of their own to separate eager travelers from their money via too-good-to-be-true vacation packages, fake airfare deals and other shady schemes.

Consumer advocacy organizations such as Better Business Bureau are issuing warnings about an increase in incidents involving scammers who often pose as airline ticket brokers and travel agents via telemarketing calls.

Another common tactic is imposter or "spoofed" websites that mimic legitimate booking platforms for airfare, hotels or rental cars -- but do not deliver the product as promised.

These kinds of scams are surging as leisure travel re-emerges -- and are likely to remain a hassle for the near future. According to data from RoboKiller, a spam call and text blocker app, the estimated number of automated, unsolicited telemarketing calls (or robocalls) with a travel focus -- for example, promising a free hotel stay or a deeply discounted booking -- will grow to a staggering 4.9 billion in the United States in 2021, representing an 80% increase from last year.

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"Scammers do tend to follow what people are doing, because people are susceptible to scams that are believable and relevant to their daily life," says Giulia Porter, vice president of marketing at TelTech, the mobile communications company that owns RoboKiller.

"During Covid, we saw a lot of PPE and contact tracing scams, because that was what was going on in the world. Now we're seeing travel scams because everyone is getting vaccinated and they want to travel again."

Porter says one recent scamming strategy is using a pre-recorded, unauthorized introduction from a well-known travel brand -- Delta, Booking.com and Marriott have been popular choices within the last month -- as a way to build trust with potential targets.

Spam texts promising a free cruise or other vacation deal also are on the rise, with RoboKiller projecting 2.25 billion travel-related messages sent in 2021, a 300% increase from last year.

Whatever their form, travel-centric schemes rely on a different type of psychology than other common types of scams, such as a caller demanding your credit card info to correct a problem with your Social Security number or that you owe taxes to the IRS -- often with the threat of jail time if you don't pay up.

"The end goal is the same: to get your personal and financial information so that they can then use that however they want," Porter explains. "That comes in two different forms: more financial-based scams are using fear ... whereas travel scams are more getting people to sign up for offers that are possibly too good to be true.

"If it's truly a scammer, they're trying to get your credit card information to use it however they'd like."

The financial fallout can be disastrous. According to data from the Federal Trade Commission, $26 million was lost to travel, timeshare and vacation rental fraud from January to March 2021, with a median reported loss of approximately $1,100 per incident.

Scams are on the rise elsewhere, too. In the UK and other parts of Europe where pandemic restrictions are relaxing, authorities are warning travelers planning summer holidays to be aware of bogus lodging offers, fake vaccine passports and other schemes circulating online and on social media.

Decreasing deals and pent-up demand

One factor likely playing a role in the current spate of travel scams is that many consumers are still looking to score rock-bottom deals on airfare, hotel rooms and rental cars that were commonplace during the pandemic.

But now that demand is back, prices have rebounded, especially in the car rental industry, where widespread shortages have spiked rates in many markets, especially warm-weather destinations like Florida and Hawaii.

As a result, many consumers still determined to get a deal then explore alternate or unfamiliar companies they would normally overlook, creating a "perfect storm" for scammers to swoop in with deals and offers that seem too good to pass up, explains Charlie Leocha, chairman of Travelers United, a traveler advocacy nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

"It's becoming prime time for scammers because the scammer can come in with lower airfare or a lower total price of a package," Leocha told CNN. "When people don't know what they're buying, this is when they really become victims."

Scammers have become increasingly tech-savvy as well. In addition to "spoofing" official websites with fraudulent ones, they're acutely aware of consumers' purchasing patterns and how to create ads or sponsored links that pop up during a web search for keywords like "cheap car rentals" along with a desired destination.

"They can target these things in a very specific, narrow way, where they only want people who are searching for car rentals in Maui to see this ad," explains Scott Keyes, founder of Scott's Cheap Flights, an airfare deal site. "Try to ignore those ads in general, but even if you click them, if you come [to a website] from an ad you need to have your guard up. Even if they claim to be Avis or Alamo, the service number they provide might not be the actual one."

Then, there's the very powerful driver of wanderlust. As travel evolves from virtual to actual, many people with unspent vacation funds burning a hole in their pocket can get caught up in the excitement of actually planning a trip again -- which may make them more vulnerable to unscrupulous schemes (or even just not reading the fine print).

"You've been cooped up, you want to go somewhere, and you've got the money, and when you're a little flush with money, you're more likely to make a dumb decision, sending money to maybe somebody who is not reputable, or not understanding what the refund policies are or what happens with trip cancellations," explains Dave Seminara, author of "Mad Travelers: A Tale of Wanderlust, Greed & the Quest to Reach the Ends of the Earth," which tells the true story of a young British con artist who scammed many of the world's most traveled people. "When you're dreaming of a trip and dreaming of travel, you're not thinking about negative scenarios like that."

Fighting back against fraud

Some politicians are calling on government to take more action against travel-focused scams. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) MN and Sen. Steve Daines (R) MT, wrote a May 13 letter to the FTC asking the agency to provide more information about how it's addressed such fraud and how it plans to prevent it moving forward, noting in their letter that some 67% of Americans say they have plans to travel this summer.

Big-name travel brands are fighting back, too.

On May 19, Marriott filed a federal lawsuit against the unknown perpetrators, or "John Does," that the hotel giant claims have been illegally misrepresenting themselves as Marriott agents or representatives in millions of robocalls to consumers. According to a Marriott release, these calls increased dramatically to a peak of seven million a month in 2020.

On an individual level, consumers also can take several steps to keep themselves safe. For starters, BBB recommends researching any company that sounds unfamiliar before making any purchases.

Pay particular attention to the URL, making sure it's correct before entering any personal or payment information, as it can be easy to click on a sponsored ad or a spoofed website without noticing. (Secure links, the BBB notes, start with "https://" and include a lock icon on the purchase page.) Misspelled words and pixelated images are also possible signs of a scammer.

Porter also points out that even something as seemingly harmless as sharing your phone number or email address on a web form can put you on the radar of scammers, who are known to share contact information of possible targets.

"Always do your research before you sign up for anything travel-wise online," Porter says. "To our knowledge, a lot of instances of these online scams is that even if you're just submitting for more information, you're giving them your phone number or your email address, so your information is feeding into this list of phone numbers that is then fueling phone scams, text scams."

When you do book that trip, be sure to use a credit card instead of a prepaid gift or debit card, cryptocurrency or wire transfer, as most credit card companies can help fight fraudulent charges. It also bears repeating that suspicious or "unknown" phone calls should go unanswered, and if you do pick up, hang up right away and resist the temptation to press a number to opt out -- which usually just confirms to the spammers that it's a live number.

Finally, don't expect scammers to go away anytime soon.

"They'll stop at nothing," Porter says. "Covid didn't stop them, natural disasters -- we've seen scammers impersonate FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) officials and trying to steal from people that way. It's like, people want to go on vacation. Just give them a break."

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

Many people believe that traveling has great educational benefits for students. Globe Aware offers internships year-round for young learners, ready to improve themselves and their skills.


Educational Benefits of Travel for Students

The process of learning is long and pretty complex. Students face a lot of difficulties related to poor learning skills, a lack of knowledge and time, some personal hardships, and something of the kind.

Clever folks try to improve themselves and their skills in a variety of ways, and traveling is one of such methods. Many people believe that this activity has great educational benefits for learners. They can travel to educate themselves.

Lauren Bradshaw is a highly qualified blogger and essay writer at an academic writing service - Custom Writings. She knows a lot about paper writing and its combination with traveling. Here is her interesting opinion: “If students want to improve their academic performance, they should travel as frequently as they can with the purpose of educating. This activity helps to boost skills and obtain experience that will help to become a good writer.” Our article analyzes this interesting claim and provides important explanations.

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Enhanced Learning Experience

The first benefit of traveling is a huge boost of a learning experience. We strongly recommend visiting local schools or colleges to check how other educational institutions conduct their lessons and what methods they apply. Besides, your experience can be redoubled if you’re on a trip to another country. Afterward, this experience can be successfully used to develop your learning skills.

When you attend lessons in another school or college, make sure to:

Take instant notes;

  • Ask questions about everything you did not understand;
  • Participate in class events (if possible);
  • Discuss new methods with others (your mates, teachers, etc.).

Improved Cultural Learning

When a person travels, he/she inevitably meets people with other traditions, habits, and worldviews. You can enrich your cultural experience. In the meanwhile, your educational travels also improve your “cultural learning.” Even if you go to a neighboring state, you will see great differences in the attitude toward education in general and in detail. Don’t miss a great chance to learn and adapt to something new. You also expand your worldviews.

Mastering a New Language

In case you travel abroad, you receive a rare opportunity to communicate with native speakers. A foreign country has a different attitude towards many things, and you may change your worldview. In the meanwhile, it happens when you communicate with the locals. If you’re on a lasting journey, use this time to work out your language skills.

It’s much better to visit countries with a familiar foreign language. For example, you study German at school. Use this chance to boost your language skills. Go to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, or Lichtenstein. German is the main language in these countries. After you talk to native speakers, you will surely improve your command of German.

Make sure to:

  • Speak in a foreign language only (if your skills are good enough);
  • Ask the explanations of unknown words;
  • Work out your pronunciation and grammar;
  • Use new words by writing essays in a foreign language.

Boosting Compassion and Empathy

You can enhance your classroom experience in a variety of ways, and an emotional level is one of the best possibilities. It’s especially important when you go to a foreign country. You will see the conditions other students have. Not all countries provide high-quality learning benefits. This experience will teach you to never care from the first glance. You’ll develop empathy, which will benefit your personal and educational growth.

Improving Social and Teamwork Skills

Travels to other locations and educational institutions also help to improve your social skills. It’s very important for your education. Socializing helps to boost teamwork and collaboration. Students always work together to solve the same projects. They may be paired or divided into micro-groups that consist of 3-6 participants. If your communication skills are weak, you may face serious problems with your classmates.

When students travel (especially aboard), they interact with new people. It may be frightening, but your courage will help you out of confusion. You’ll steadily master how to deal with quite different people. Afterward, you won’t have any difficulties while cooperating with your classmates.

Therefore, traveling develops the next skills:

  • Social;
  • Teamwork;
  • Collaboration;
  • Communication.

Gaining Independence

If you go to a foreign location on your own, you will face any possible challenges alone. It may be scary, but it is very beneficial for your social and educational life. You will have to face all the problems without somebody’s support. It’s good for you because you will boost your self-awareness. You will finally realize what you’re capable of.

You’ll overcome any difficulty using your ideas and strategies. Every time you enjoy success, you boost your self-esteem. You will realize how good you are, and there is nothing impossible for you. Use this experience to handle all academic issues you have. An independent and self-confident student always enjoys success! Remember this simple rule for good.

Personal Development

As you go on educational trips, you learn many new things. They will surely affect your inner world. You will:

Master new skills;

  • Learn a new language (if you travel abroad);
  • Realize the differences of educational systems;
  • Obtain a different classroom experience;
  • Develop socializing and teamwork;
  • Become self-confident and independent;
  • Enrich your cultural learning experience, etc.

These benefits will surely help to succeed in learning.

Establishing Important Relations

You should not forget about the possibility of establishing beneficial relations with others. You may be lucky to meet famous educators or potential employers. Thus, you may ensure your future by acquiring a good job thanks to a recruiter or receiving positive feedback from an educator. Besides, you may simply meet new friends and communicate with them remotely, and visiting each other.

Try to keep in memory the points we have highlighted above. They prove that traveling helps students to improve their learning skills. Try to travel from time to time to gain the necessary experience, which helps to become an effective student and writer. Perhaps one day, you will start your travel blog.

Additional Info

  • Source ftnNEWS

The novelty that a trip provides is one reason that travel can have an enduring impact on our happiness. During the lockdown, many Globe Aware volunteers showed memories of past volunteer vacations on social media, sharing the happiness that it brought them.


After A Year Of Staying Close To Home, Travel Has Become An Emotional Journey

OLIVIA HARRISON
MAY 17, 2021

When Jennie Larson finally became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, she jumped into action and added three big events to her calendar: Her two vaccine appointments and a trip to Atlanta, Georgia from her home in Washington, D.C. Exactly two weeks and one day after receiving her second Moderna shot, and thus fully immunized, she'll be boarding a plane for the first time in over a year. "I have some loose plans to meet up with some friends, but mostly I plan on a quick solo weekend trip just enjoying the fact that I can travel again," she tells Refinery29.

Larson says that Atlanta is her second favorite city in the country after her own, but that's not the only reason she's decided to head there for her first post-vaccine vacation — it was also the last place she traveled before the pandemic, about 10 days before the country shut down. "This trip feels symbolic in a way, like I am bookending the uncertainty and fear that the pandemic brought for so long," she says. "One trip before we all really knew the hell COVID-19 was going to release on the world, and one trip 14 months later, fully vaccinated, that marks the beginning of our return to normalcy."

For Larson, normalcy means traveling. Before the pandemic, trips were a huge part of her life. "With the expendable income of a single woman in her late 20s, unlimited PTO at work, and a knack for finding cheap flights, impulse weekend trips were something I used to do regularly — whether it's a day trip to New York via Amtrak, a weekend trip to Detroit to explore a new city, or a cross-country flight to visit my parents in California, I was traveling in some capacity at least once a month." She's not the only one for whom travel feels vital. "I love to travel and missed the normalcy of it," says Leslie Tayne, who recently took her first post-vaccination trip to Boca, Florida where she visited with her mom and some friends. "I missed being able to take a break, visit new places, and explore." Within that normalcy, though, is an escape into novelty. "It keeps things interesting to step out of your daily routine and experience something different," Tayne shares. "Different climates, different food, and different people and experiences than you're used to can make everyday life more exciting."

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The novelty that a trip provides is one reason that travel can have an enduring impact on our happiness. Dr. Amit Kumar, assistant professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, studies how happiness is affected by experiential purchases versus material ones. According to him, though material purchases like clothing or tech gadgets may physically last, the emotional value they provide us is often fleeting because we get used to seeing them in our closet or in that tech drawer among a tangled mess of errant wires. That's not the case with experiential purchases like travel. "It's not like we want some other trip aside from the great trip that we took," Dr. Kumar explains. "We look back at it fondly, we often have these positive memories of our experiences. The psychology of material goods doesn't work in quite the same way."
Tayne enjoys getting away to a new environment because it helps keep her grounded. "It allows me to re-energize and revitalize, which then translates into my work and daily life," she shares. "There's always an emotional connection when learning about new cultures, ways of life, food, and experiencing new places." That emotional connection to something outside of our regular routines is one aspect Tori Stark has also missed about being able to take trips this past year. "My favorite part of traveling is plugging into the local culture and imagining myself having a life there," she says "After a year of monotony and feeling stagnant, I'm looking forward to being reminded of the whole big world out there and just feeling part of something bigger!”

Stark is currently in the process of planning two post-vaccine trips. First, she's heading to Portland, Oregon with her boyfriend. "I live in L.A. and wanted to celebrate being fully vaccinated with a quick trip somewhere relatively close, but new to me," she says. "While we've looked into some restaurants and tourist attractions, we're honestly just looking forward to being anywhere different from our apartment, and strolling through a neighborhood we haven't seen every day for the past year." One week later, she and her mother are going to surprise her sister who lives in Maui, Hawaii. Though she hasn't even boarded a plane yet, Stark says she's already reaping some of the benefits of travel. "I really missed having trips to look forward to," she explains. "Simply having something on the calendar is so refreshing and helps me orient myself."
Then, too, the activities leading up to the trip have provided her with a major mood boost. "I really missed the planning stages where you're researching what to do in a new destination and finding that balance of hitting all the must-sees, while leaving wiggle room in your plans in case, for example, the hotel concierge has a recommendation for a cool local spot," she says. "Getting to indulge my love of planning and researching and busting out my Excel sheet with links to Airbnb or hotel options, restaurants, parks, museums, and other attractions has honestly been the most fun I've had in a year. And then it all comes to life when you're on the actual trip!"

For so long, conditions of the pandemic and vaccine rollout were so uncertain that it was impossible to make concrete plans, especially for something like a vacation. Now, we've finally arrived at a place where we know it's safe to travel after we've been fully vaccinated, which means we've entered into an anticipatory period that can provide emotional benefits. According to Dr. Kumar, waiting can feel good or it can feel bad. When it comes to waiting for the arrival of material possessions — like perhaps all those purchases you made online throughout the last 14 months just to feel something — we tend to feel impatience, anxiety, or frustration.
Waiting for an experiential purchase like a trip to Portland or Maui, on the other hand, tends to be more positive or even pleasurable and exciting. "You can start deriving satisfaction from these experiences now, before you've even engaged in the travel," Dr. Kumar explains. "That's why it makes sense to book your flights ahead of time, of course, to start planning that vacation, to maybe look at restaurants that you might go to, menus, maybe buy tickets to things that you're going to do. Essentially, that increases the time that you can spend savoring this future consumption."
For Stark, one key part of that planning process and the trips themselves is how they can be shared with others. "Traveling has so many relational opportunities to express care for one another because you're creating a brand new experience together from scratch," she says, which is exactly why she can't wait to explore Portland with her boyfriend and visit with her mom and sister in Maui. "What can we prioritize that you're most excited about? What can I do to contribute to you having a relaxing, fulfilling time on this trip? I love answering those questions together and using a trip as a way to learn new things about each other."

According to Dr. Kumar, it is the social value of experiential purchases like trips that, more than anything else, contribute to people deriving more satisfaction from them versus material purchases. "With these experiences, we engage in, like travel, they're actually more likely to be talked about than material purchases," he explains. "Travel makes for better story material, and experiences like that are more likely to be discussed with others and contribute to our social relationships." And, fostering our social relationships, Dr. Kumar says, happens to be one the best things we can do for ourselves. "It's one of the strongest predictors of happiness. It's basically essential to our wellbeing.” And, of course, the pandemic, has made tending to those relationships more complicated, as the act of social distancing was necessary for our physical well-being, but impeded our ability to maintain social connections, which in turn, likely impacted our emotional well-being. Now that we're able to once again plan trips, we've regained one way of facilitating those social connections with others. "Even if you can't yet engage in this travel right now, at least you can talk about the travel that you're going to engage in with other people, and those interactions, those discussions are going to make you happy in the moment as well," he explains.

For so many, connecting with loved ones is the sole motivation behind their first post-vaccine trips. Linda Ostrom and her husband Chris, for instance, recently flew from where they live in San Francisco, California to Houston, Texas to visit their son, daughter-in-law, and two grandkids, one of whom they met for the very first time. Initially, upon finding out that they would be getting another grandchild, the couple told their son and daughter-in-law that they wouldn't be able to visit when the baby arrived. "This was before the vaccine, it was too far to drive, and we were not comfortable flying," Ostrom shares. "Chris and I had been pretty conservative throughout the pandemic and more so since my mom moved in with us in January. Our son and his wife were disappointed but understood." Then, in February, they were able to get vaccinated and book a surprise trip to Houston. "We kept telling them we couldn't make the trip," she says. "Finally, when they were going into labor, we couldn't keep the secret anymore and told them we were coming!"

The anticipatory excitement combined with the opportunity to connect with their kids and grandkids that this trip provided brought the couple a lot of joy. Ostrom says that simply spending time together made the vacation extremely memorable. "We helped a little around the house, helped with [our grandsons], ate takeout," she recounts. One day, all six of them went over to her daughter-in-law's parents' house. There, Ostrom and her family ate brunch outside. She sat around watching the older of her two grandsons play in the pool and holding the new baby. "We just 'were.' It was one of the best days of our lives!" she says.

The second trip that Ostrom and her husband took post-vaccine is also all about connection. They're currently in Honolulu, and while they will be checking in on her mother-in-law who lives there, this trip is mostly a vacation filled with quality time as a couple. When asked what she's looking forward to most about the trip, Ostrom shares a thrilling list: "Reconnecting with my husband, taking care of each other, doing whatever we want all day, sleeping in, snorkeling, eating out, doing nothing, vacation sex!" After a year of lockdowns, isolation, fear, and grief, even reading about that experience for someone else likely brings a smile to your face.

Travel, it turns out, can also make us feel more connected to and appreciative of our everyday lives. "It might sound weird after being home for over 13 months, but I think my upcoming trips will have an 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' effect on my relationship with my home city," Stark says. "I've been grateful for the refuge my little apartment has provided during this hard year, but I'm excited to be away for a little while so the return is that much sweeter. In a very meta way, I miss the feeling of missing home." Increased feelings of gratitude, it turns out, are a common side effect of travel.

"What we find is that reflecting on the experiential purchases that you've made — so maybe the travel that you've engaged in in the past — that tends to inspire stronger feelings of gratitude than reflecting on significant material purchases that you've made," Dr. Kumar explains. "So when you think about the trips that you've taken, or the venues that you visited, or the amazing meals that you've eaten or something like that, you tend to feel more grateful than when you think about all of the gadgets that you own or the furniture you've bought or the stuff that you have." According to Dr. Kumar's studies, that increased gratitude prompted by experiences like travel, in turn, often prompts altruistic behavior. Tayne has certainly felt this phenomenon when she travels. "It's easy to forget that not everyone lives the same way you do in your part of the country or world, so being taken out of my element carries into my professional life and allows me to practice empathy and gratitude with clients and colleagues upon returning," she shares.

For many, these post-vaccination trips will have the added benefit of feeling like that return to normal they've been craving. "It was nostalgic to walk in Waikiki on a Friday night and hear folks dancing and laughing to a live band, see couples holding hands, and smelling exotic flowers!" Ostrom shares. "Like how it used to be."

Larson can't wait for that experience. "The second my immunocompromised brother FaceTimed me to tell me he had just gotten his first vaccine, I felt immediate relief from extreme fear and anxiety I didn't know I had been carrying. I expect that the first time I step on a plane fully vaccinated, the feeling will be somewhat similar," she says. "Not only is it one more step toward normalcy — whatever that ends up meaning post-pandemic — but it's also participating in something that brings me joy after a year of so much fear and anxiety."

Additional Info

  • Source Refinery 29

Families are combining traveling and being together, two practices sorely missed during the pandemic lockdowns. Globe Aware has a long tradition of mobilizing volunteer programs around the world for families of all ages and sizes, and have a variety of dates open this year!


 

US post Covid: As restrictions loosen, families travel far and spend big

Far-flung families are combining traveling and being together — two of the most longed-for practices during more than a year of pandemic lockdowns — into elaborate new twists on the old-fashioned family reunion.

Written by Debra Kamin
May 20, 2021

Jeff Belcher, 41, wouldn’t necessarily have chosen Williamsburg, Virginia, as the destination for his family’s first vacation since travel restrictions began to ease. But when his extended family decided to travel to the American Revolution-era town for a reunion this summer, he knew that he, his wife and their three children wouldn’t miss it.

Their group of 18, which will include his parents, his sister, his aunt and uncle, and his mother-in-law and sister-in-law, will gather at the end of July and stay in several adjoining rented condos. There are plans to visit historical battlefields, check out the recreations of Jamestown Settlement ships, and enjoy outdoor meals while the family’s youngest generation — eight kids in total — play together after more than a year apart.

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Far-flung families are combining traveling and being together — two of the most longed-for practices during more than a year of pandemic lockdowns — into elaborate new twists on the old-fashioned family reunion. In a recent survey by Wyndham Destinations, the nation’s largest timeshare company, 75% of respondents said they were planning to travel for a family reunion in 2021; in a March survey from American Express Travel, 71% of respondents said they planned to travel to visit loved ones they hadn’t been able to see during the pandemic, and 60% said a 2021 family reunion was in the works.

Properties that cater to large-scale gatherings are feeling the windfall. At Woodloch, a Pennsylvania family resort in the Pocono Mountains, multigenerational travel has always been their bread and butter. But bookings for 2021 are already outpacing 2019, with 117 reservations currently on the books (2019 saw 162 bookings total). “Demand is stronger than it has ever been,” said Rory O’Fee, Woodloch’s director of marketing.

Salamander Hotels & Resorts, which has five properties in Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and Jamaica, has seen 506 family reunions already booked in 2021, accounting for $2.47 million in revenue. In the full calendar year of 2019, they saw only 368 events total, worth about $1.31 million. Club Med said that 16% of its 2021 bookings are multigenerational, compared with 3% in 2019.

Guided tours are also newly becoming more popular with families looking to reunite: Guy Young, president of Insight Vacations, launched several new small private group trips — which can be booked for as few as 12 people and include a private bus and travel director — after noting that extended families accounted for 20% of his business in March and April, compared to a prepandemic average of 8%. “Coming out of COVID, with families separated for many months, we saw a significant increase in demand for multigenerational family travel,” he said.

Reuniting at long last

Traveling together will also offer families a chance to reconnect offline after many months of Skype and screen time.

Esther Palevsky, 70, lives in Solon, Ohio, and hasn’t seen her 7-year-old grandson, Sylvester, since before the pandemic. So this summer, she and her husband, Mark, 71, will fly to Reno, Nevada — their first flight in more than a year — and then drive to California’s Lake Tahoe. Palevsky’s daughter, Stacey, and her son-in-law, Ben Lewis, will drive with Sylvester from San Francisco to meet them, and the family will spend several nights at an Airbnb in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It will be a new experience for the Palevskys, who prefer to take cruises when they have vacation time. Neither has ever been to Lake Tahoe, and they have limited experience with Airbnb. The location and accommodations, said Esther Palevsky, didn’t matter much. She just wants to squeeze her grandson.

“Just thinking about hugging him again, I get teary-eyed,” said Palevsky, who has been reading chapter books with Sylvester over video chat throughout the pandemic in order to stay in touch. “I’m sure I’ll see Sylvester and think about how big he looks. On the tablet, you just can’t tell.”

Sandy Pappas, the owner of Sandy Pappas Travel, said that on an average year, 5% of her clients are booking family reunion trips. This year, that number is already between 15% and 20%.

“I do a lot of family travel but it’s usually just a family of four or five. Now I’m getting two adult kids and their families and grandparents, and sometimes both sets of grandparents. And everyone is spending more money because nobody ate out or traveled in 2020, so they have funds left over,” she said.

Not your old-fashioned family reunion

While the demand for travel across all sectors is high, family travel was predicted to eventually lead the way for the industry’s rebound after a staggering collapse. Travel advisers spent most of 2020 creating socially distanced itineraries for nuclear families that were already living together during lockdown. But now, they say, the most popular type of family trip is the reunion that brings far-flung relatives back into the fold.

Kate Johnson, owner of KJ Travel in Houston, says she has seen a sixfold increase in family reunion travel compared to last year, and she expects the number to continue to climb. She is also planning her own family reunion trip with 17 family members, including her daughters, their grandparents, cousins and aunts, to Disney World in Florida, in November.

“When I get requests and I see how tight availability is for accommodation, it definitely makes me feel a sense of urgency to get my own family to start planning,” she said.

Properties are leaning into the trend, rolling out packages geared toward family reunions and even hiring dedicated staff to shepherd the events.

After noticing that a nearly 20% spike in bookings was coming from seniors looking to reconnect with younger family, the Deer Path Inn, in Lake Forest, Illinois, relaunched its Gramping Getaway Package, which includes an outdoor scavenger hunt and an afternoon tea that can be enjoyed by all ages, including little ones as well as Gram and Gramps.

Meanwhile, the Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village created a new staff position to oversee such group trips: chief reunion officer. Tosha Wollney, who was promoted to the position from her previous post of senior catering sales executive, will be busy: In 2019 the property had two family reunions, and in the last five weeks alone, they’ve booked five.

Private jets, budget-busting plans

And after using the act of planning for future travel to get many isolated families through the darkest months of the pandemic, many of the reunions on the books are truly budget-busting. Private jet travel, which surged during the pandemic, is increasingly popular among large families. Jessica Fisher, founder of the aviation marketplace Flyjets, said private jet bookings for families on her site have doubled since last year.

“There is this readiness to ‘move’ in safe ways among groups, especially for those who are choosing to reunite with extended family,” she said in an email.

Spending is up, as well, as families splurge on longer and more elaborate trips together than they might have prepandemic.

“During the worst of COVID, when people were unable to see their grandparents, what started happening was clients planning these epic, complex itineraries for the future,” said Brendan Drewniany, communications director for luxury-travel company Black Tomato. “The rise of multigenerational is the biggest trend we can track.”

Additional Info

  • Source The Indian Express

Optimism returns for the summer travel in the United States, more than three-quarters of Americans plan to take a trip this summer. For those looking to travel abroad for the first time in a year, Globe Aware offers Central and South America programs, all closer to home.


 

America is Back to A Ready to Travel State of Mind

Özgür Töre
17 May 2021

Optimism returns for the summer travel in the United States. According to survey findings from The Harris Poll, Americans are ready to travel this Summer.

More than three-quarters of Americans (77%) plan to take a trip this summer.

When thinking about traveling out of town now, 55% of Americans responded they are either ready to go (26%) or optimistic (29%). Males, Parents and Millennials are the most likely to be ready to go, and just 17% of Americans are ‘unlikely to travel for the foreseeable future’ with Baby Boomers the most hesitant.

The strong number represents a stark one-year turnaround: a similar Harris Poll conducted in June 2020 found that just 29% of Americans planned summer leisure travel amid the grip of the COVID pandemic.

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The latest poll’s sample reflects the sentiments of all Americans. The poll also found:

Two-thirds of Americans have a summer trip either already planned out (36%) or booked (30%).

Of the Americans who have summer travel either planned or booked, more than half (53%) will be traveling for the very first time since the start of the pandemic.

When thinking about traveling out of town right now, 55% of Americans responded they are either ready to go (26%) or optimistic (29%).

When asked what they are most looking forward to about traveling this summer, “reconnecting with friends and family” (19%) was the top response given, followed closely by “rest and relaxation” (18%).

The poll is welcome news for a travel industry that has felt historic devastation for over a year. A staggering 65% of all U.S. jobs lost in 2020 were supported by travel, and the pandemic’s total economic impact on the industry is expected to be 10 times worse than 9/11.

Significant improvements in the health landscape have helped to turn the tide. In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued formal guidance stating that domestic travel is safe for vaccinated persons—which followed substantial research findings that travel could be low-risk in general with appropriate safeguards in place. The White House has since announced that more than a third of U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated, and set an ambitious goal to get that number to 70% by July 4.

Those developments—coupled with polling indicating a coming surge in domestic leisure travel demand—is prompting a shift in near-term messaging from the travel industry.

The Let’s Go There coalition launched in September with the mission of keeping travel on the minds of Americans even as traveling was virtually halted by the pandemic. Previous phases of the Let’s Go There campaign urged Americans to take advantage of the personal benefits of thinking, dreaming about and planning for future travel with the tagline “When it’s time for you, we’ll be ready.”

The tagline for the next phase of the Let’s Go There campaign: “Ready? So are we.”

Thousands of travel businesses and organizations across the country are joining in the Let’s Go There initiative, beginning May 17, with unified messaging that encourages Americans to plan visits to their sites and destinations this summer. Social media content is organized using the hashtag #LetsGoThere.

“It’s time to stop dreaming, and start exploring. The moment has finally arrived when most of us can scratch the travel itch that’s been building in us for over a year,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow.

“Polling confirms that Americans are fired up to get back out on the road for a host of reasons. The 100 million or so Americans who are vaccinated need not have any lingering hesitation about booking that trip to get out and see the country this summer.”

“With summer just weeks away, we know travelers are ready to go—whether that means exploring favorite destinations they missed over the past year, discovering new outdoor activities, or reconnecting with their families,” said Julius Robinson, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, U.S. and Canada for Marriott International and co-chair of the Let’s Go There Coalition.

“At Marriott, we are excited to continue to support this industry-wide effort as Americans begin to enjoy summer travel once again, as well as think about their 2022 vacation plans and the future travel experiences that await them.”

Let’s Go There coalition leaders stressed that consumer confidence in traveling will only continue to build through sustaining the strong commitment to health and safety. The U.S. Travel Association continues to urge Americans to receive a vaccine as soon as they can get one, and last month the association supported the Transportation Security Administration’s decision to extend the federal mandate on wearing masks for interstate travel until September.

Additional Info

  • Source ftnNEWS

Americans are planning to splurge in order to keep family safe when traveling, by booking private trips or renting an entire villa. Globe Aware volunteer vacations allow families to book and experience a private week in an international destination, following proper safety guidelines and providing outdoor projects.


‘Ready to make up for lost time:’ Americans plan to splurge on travel this summer

By Stephanie Asymkos
26 April 2021

After a year of living under pandemic restrictions, Americans are ready to hit the open road and spend big this summer.

“Some Americans may not have had a summer vacation since 2019, and so there's clearly a lot of pent-up demand,” Melanie Lieberman, senior travel editor at The Points Guy, told Yahoo Finance Live. “Nearly half of prospective travelers plan to spend more than $1,000 on their summer vacations, which indicates they're ready to make up for lost time by spending more for bigger trips.”

Half of U.S. adults — and 54% of vaccinated ones — are likely to take at least one vacation this June through September, according to a survey of 2,575 adults from The Points Guy and Healthline Media. More than 2 in 5 plan to spend over $1,000 — including 1 in 5 who intend to spend more than $2,000. Baby Boomers are poised to spend the most, followed by Gen Xers, then Millennials, with Gen Zers spending the least.

Among the big spenders, Lieberman speculated that people want to “splash out” and create that “big experience,” but might not be spending in obvious ways like luxe accommodations or splurging at pricier restaurants. Americans are instead making spending priorities based on safety relative to the pandemic.

“People might be upgrading to first class, they might be booking a private villa, or vacation rental,” she said, “things [that] can give them more peace of mind and help them really enjoy that first trip.”

Domestic trips still reign supreme. When international destinations were off limits to U.S. passport holders last summer, Americans explored domestic locations like national parks, lakes, and beaches, and gave the road trip its renaissance moment. Lieberman forecasts that the summer road trip trend will carry over into 2021 as well as any destination where travelers “can stay outside” and “enjoy the nice weather.”

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Since Hawaii has reopened to tourists from the mainland, Americans are flying to the Aloha State and it tops the list of destinations, Lieberman said. It’s joined by hot spots like the country’s national parks and Florida. Outside the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean “continue to be really popular because international travel is still quite difficult and the options are quite limited for Americans at this time,” she said.

The duration of trips also mirror the trend established in 2020 with people opting for longer trips and staying at short-term vacation rental properties since the pandemic has made for “a slightly more complicated travel experience,” as Lieberman put it. “When people do travel, they're often looking to stay there and spend more to have that experience.”

With Americans flocking to the same destinations, scoring a good deal is still possible, Lieberman said, provided travelers are willing to bend on some specifics.

“To get those deals, you're going to have to be really flexible and you might need to think outside the box a little bit,” she said, suggesting visiting a more affordable city over a pricey beach resort and getting flexible with dates and length of stay. She also shared that “value added incentives” like resort or property credits are not to be overlooked and bring an experience that was previously outside of your budget within reach.

Additional Info

  • Source yahoo! finance

Traveling alone isn't always easy especially as a solo female traveler in a post-pandemic world. Globe Aware is the perfect option, providing a personal itinerary and English speaking coordinator at all of our program locations, including Laos, one of the destination's mentioned.


8 Destinations for Female Solo Travelers, According to the Pros

From Amsterdam to Cartagena.

BY SHANNON MCMAHON
May 5, 2021

Empowering, exciting, challenging: Few things are more rewarding than solo travel—and pre-pandemic, research showed it was on the rise, especially with women. Sure, you might have to ask a complete stranger to take that photo of you walking across Tokyo's Shibuya Crossing or standing outside of Barcelona's Sagrada Família, but it's a small price to pay for the freedom to plan a trip exactly how you want it, when you want it.

That said, traveling alone isn't always easy; choosing the right destination can be equal parts exhilarating and overwhelming when you (and you alone) are responsible for all the research, travel planning, and packing. And while there's lots of data-fueled consensus out there about the “safest” places for women to go alone, some of the most beloved spots for a solo getaway are places that might not cross the radar of those big-city rankings, yet boast welcoming locals, walkable old towns, and vibrant food and art scenes. To help you start planning that first post-vaccine solo trip, we tapped six experienced solo travelers for their tips. Here, the places that stood out to them the most when they saw them firsthand—totally alone—and why some of them couldn't pick just one.

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Granada, Nicaragua

Getting off the beaten path is no problem in Central America, especially alone and as a woman. “Nicaragua is an exciting under-the-radar option to consider traveling solo [to], and in the many times I have visited, I have met several other women traveling solo throughout the country,” says Katalina Mayorga, co-founder of El Camino Travel and the Casa Violeta hotel in Granada. “Not only is it welcoming, but it has everything Costa Rica has plus more, and at a much more accessible price point. You have volcanos, expansive deserted beaches, colonial towns, rich culture, and stunning boutique hotel options galore.”

If you're looking for a place to stay like a local, Mayorga recommends embedding yourself into “towns like Granada, Popoyo, and San Juan del Sur [that] have super tight-knit communities of foreigners from around the world. They are really welcoming to travelers passing through and openly bring you into their community with open arms. I have been invited to private dinners, jam sessions, secret surf spots, and artist studios.”

Istanbul, Turkey

Celebrating your return to travel by plotting a far-flung getaway? Consider using a solo trip to cross a destination off of your bucket list, like Condé Nast Traveler contributing editor and Nomadness Travel Tribe founder Evita Robinson did in Turkey in 2019. “Turkey had lived on the top of my bucket list for years. Through photos, and stories of Nomadness Travel Tribe members who'd gone, I fell in love with images of the Blue Mosque and the fantasy-like nature of Cappadocia,” says Robinson.

“As a solo trip, a gift to myself, I traveled to both Istanbul and Cappadocia in November of 2019. Istanbul immediately sucked me in. The people, the energy, the food, the favorable conversion rate! I was hooked. I appreciated the safety I felt; I found myself outside, on my own, at a packed restaurant, enjoying pizza, my journal, and wine at 1 a.m. It reminded me of New York. I'm always soothed by the call to prayer in countries, and hearing that in Istanbul only added to the calm I felt there. I walked everywhere I could. It's the city dweller in me. The flight to Cappadocia was quick, and to finally see its playfulness and wonder in real life was breathtaking. To date, Turkey has been one of my most fulfilling and safe solo trips I've ever taken in my life. I can't wait to go back and explore more.”

Portland, Oregon

For outdoor adventure paired with big-city culture, follow rock climber and photographer Nikki Smith's advice for staying stateside. “My favorite cities to visit have great outdoor access close to, or in town. Portland, Oregon’s Forest Park has over 80 miles of beautiful trail,” says Smith, who contributes to rock-climbing guide books and has notched first ascents in over 150 locales. “Lush ferns line the pine needle-covered trails shaded by towering western hemlock and Douglas fir trees. After a long trail run, Portland’s famous food scene allows even the most discerning eater to find a delicious après-meal. I love that I can be outdoors all day, and then throw on a dress and go to an amazing art exhibit, dinner, and drinks, all within a few-mile radius.”

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

Another outdoor locale that Smith recommends as a favorite place to visit solo? Las Vegas—but far from the city's Strip. “One of my favorite places to visit alone in the colder months is Las Vegas. Most people's idea of Vegas is the strip, but there is so much more,” says Smith. “Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area is host to miles of amazing hiking, biking, and running trails, as well as a world-class rock climbing destination. I usually stay in the Summerlin area as it’s closer to Red Rock and much quieter than downtown. You can find great restaurants, bars, and shopping in the area, but you are still a short drive to downtown if you want to go out for a wild night.”

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Alone time in Europe almost needs no introduction, but if you're finding it hard to choose one place, take a page from the travel book of Martinique Lewis, a diversity in travel consultant and president of Black Travel Alliance. “I absolutely adore Amsterdam as a solo traveler. Even though you come alone, you leave with a whole community of people who welcomed you,” says Lewis who is also a member of Traveler's advisory board. “Especially for Black travelers, there are so many different communities to tap into, like Amsterdam Black Women, which can be found on Facebook and on Instagram. They changed my trip 100-percent as I participated in their meetups. Jennifer Tosch's Black Heritage Tours also introduced me to other travelers and some ins and outs of the city. Amsterdam is super safe, and you can get anywhere with Google Maps. I highly recommend it.”

Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv's beaches, food, and nightlife scenes are treasures of delight for any traveler, but Washington Post travel-advice writer Natalie Compton swears by the city for solo travel in particular. “There were about a million reasons Tel Aviv was one of my favorite places to travel solo. It's a city for people-watching, appreciating sunsets, all of the magic you're too busy to enjoy at home,” says Compton. “The food, the ocean, the markets, the climate were all obvious selling points, but the hospitality was what made me feel less like a person visiting Tel Aviv and more like someone truly experiencing it. Everywhere I went—restaurants, nightclubs, surf shops—there was someone friendly ready to embrace a lone foreigner. If you're a person who loves sitting at a bar and seeing where life takes you, Tel Aviv is for you.”

Cartagena, Colombia

If you're looking for a solo adventure abroad and speak some Spanish, Jessica Nabongo, the first Black woman to have visited every country in the world, says to consider colorful Cartagena. The cobblestoned port city tops her list of places she's visited solo (which includes dozens of locales), and without hiring a local guide. “Cartagena was an easy place to do solo, I didn't take public transit because it is small enough to walk everywhere on your own,” says Nabongo. “It felt safe, and people are so nice. I'm someone who loves to talk to local people to get recommendations and in Cartagena, in particular, people were so open to helping me.” Nabongo notes her Spanish is limited, and that visitors should feel open to practicing their language skills with the locals.

Luang Prabang, Laos

For a further-off solo escape, Nabongo also holds Luang Prabang, Laos among her top solo adventures without a guide. “It was very easy to navigate by riding a bike, and you get there and this spirit of zen just comes over you,” Nabongo says. “My favorite thing about it was the alms giving [ceremonies], waking up at 5 a.m. when the people line the streets to give food to the monks, clad in their orange robes. It's so beautiful in so many ways, and just the way in which the community is supporting them and you can see it.”

Additional Info

  • Source Self

If you suffer from pandemic-related anxiety, traveling in many ways is a highly enjoyable treatment for anxiety. Globe Aware volunteer vacations are structured one week programs, so you can make an impact and enjoy your time abroad, and leave your anxieties behind.


Do You Feel Like You Have Pandemic Anxiety? Travel Could Actually Be Good

By Judith Fein
April 28, 2021

When traveling, you immerse yourself where you are. You are in the present, the now. That is where healing from anxiety takes place.

If you or anyone you know—or, perhaps everyone you know–suffers from pandemic-related or generalized anxiety, you probably check often to see what the local and federal experts recommend for travel. Sometimes their statements relieve anxiety and inform you that, post-vaccination, you can travel as soon as you can purchase a ticket. Other times, you reach through the hair you haven’t washed for a week and scratch your head in confusion: It’s safe to fly internationally, but they don’t recommend you do so?

While the messaging might be confusing, what’s clear is this: If you decided to hit the road, you will discover the many ways that travel is a highly enjoyable treatment for anxiety.

So, You Have Pandemic-Induced Agoraphobia?

You followed the guidelines and stayed home. You were part of the collective army that de-mobilized to fight the virus. But now, alas, you are afraid of leaving the house. Before, you may have had FOMO (fear of missing out) but now you have FOJI (fear of joining in). You feel secure within the confines of your own dwelling and have figured out the perfect lighting for Zoom calls. But how will you interact with other humans in person? The idea frightens you.

In my experience, you can’t make fear go away–it’s not a laundry stain you can eliminate with a few spritzes, it’s a habit of thinking that must be replaced by something else. In this case, travel is the “something else.” It pulls you out of your daily life by engaging you with new people, sites, foods, customs, and information. You are fascinated, rather than fearful. In the famous poem by T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, the protagonist asks the question: “Do I dare to eat a peach?” In your case, your biggest concern is that you will miss tasting the regional peach pie specialty, or you won’t be able to choose between all the mouth-watering local specialties on each restaurant menu.

If you look over your shoulder, you barely remember when you were afraid to see people. Now you are fascinated by the local music and excited when you meet a musician who invites you to a jam. You enroll in a cooking class and make a perfect paella. You go horseback riding on a beach. You visit the house where your grandmother or great grandfather grew up and are moved to tears.

While you have to remember to abide by local pandemic recommendations, you get to be emotionally free as you emerge yourself in your destination.

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Pandemic Has You Feeling Out of Control?

Few things create more anxiety than situations where you have no control. Maybe your nasty, Napoleonic boss controls the purse strings and you have to put up with it because you can’t pay the bank that holds your mortgage or a landlord who holds your lease with a tale of workplace woe. The only control you have is when the workday ends, or when you stop thinking about how frustrating it was. Or perhaps your computer is like a stubborn child, and no one can figure out how to stop its tech tantrums. There is nothing you can do about it because you were born without the tech gene. Or worse, you cannot tolerate heat, and the planet is sizzling as we speak.

When you travel, the things that are out of control lead to adventures. You can’t get into your restaurant of choice, but you find a fabulous mom-and-pop eatery and the owners befriend you. It’s your discovery, not something you read about and now you get to stop other visitors to tell them about it. Or you ogle the clothes in the shopping district, and the prices are, to put it politely, gouging. Then a waitperson tells you about a cool market where locals shop for colorful, unique ethnic clothes at great prices.

You’ll be delighted by how many times in the course of a traveling day you are in control of the experience. And your nervous system will thank you.

Fortune-Telling Anxiety

If we are honest with ourselves, we spend a lot of time worrying about what will happen next month, next year, tomorrow, or in the next hour. Fortune telling or, rather, not being able to tell the future, is the BFF of anxiety. Anxiety is a hungry beast that feeds on your thoughts about the future.

When you are traveling, if you keep an open heart, eyes, and ears, you get excited because you can’t know the future. A local or fellow traveler invites you to a little-known festival, party, family dinner, or unusual tour which takes you to eateries that may not even have an official address or sign on the door. You look forward to the experiences rather than dreading the unknown.

When you go to Muslim Arab countries, you may hear people say, “Inshallah” (“God willing”) any time someone refers to the future. “Would you like to meet me for tea?” you inquire. The answer is a smiling, “Inshallah.” You ask your guide what time she will meet you the next morning. “Inshallah, 9 o’clock.” It’s a cultural acceptance of the fact that if God wills it, it will happen. Yes, your new friends and acquaintances and guide want to join you for tea or intend to meet you at nine, but there is room for Divine Intervention in the plans.

At first, you may be confused or frustrated, but then you relax into the humility of accepting that the unknown future is part of life.

The Gnawing Anxiety of Issues at Home

You have spent so much time at home, and your world has been so circumscribed and limited that everything takes on importance and even keeps you up at night. Your kid hasn’t learned enough online. Your computer has been slowing down. You’ve been buying so much online that your credit card was hacked. The furniture looks tired and needs to be replaced. Your best friend refuses to wear a mask. Your old back injury has flared up, and the more you focus on it the more discomfort you have. But you can’t stop thinking and worrying about it.

When you are traveling, after a day or so, you stop sending agitated texts and emails and forget about the daily issues at home. You immerse yourself where you are. You are in the present, the now. That is where healing from anxiety takes place. This is the miraculous zen of travel.

Me, Myself, and I

If anxiety is your companion and enemy, you know very well that it feeds on self-involvement. You become afraid of the anxiety, and the more you focus on it, the more liberties it takes with your life. You worry about your health, your financial state, your future. You are alert to every twitch and twinge of discomfort. If you only sleep a couple of hours one night, you imagine you have chronic insomnia. You look in the mirror and think you look awful. After a phone conversation, you are sure you said the wrong thing. You worry that people don’t like you. You are angry with your friend, and then angry with yourself for not talking to him about why you are angry.

Your world revolves around yourself and your feelings, and anxiety does a happy dance to have you in its thrall.

But when your plane takes off, you become lifted out of yourself. When it lands, you focus on where you are, the architecture, language, museums, nature, restaurants, and the other travelers who are staying at your Airbnb or hotel. The stimulation is the cure. And when you are out of yourself, anxiety does a sad dance because you have slipped out of its control.

Talking About the Pandemic

The pandemic and Colonel Coronavirus have likely hijacked your conversation. You talk with everyone about anything pandemic-related. Someone tells you about a new side effect. You read about long haulers who got the virus and rising cases. Other countries are locking down again.

Do you notice that the more information you get, the more it feeds your anxiety? Does it make you feel calm to think that the enemy virus lurks at the perimeter of your life and can infiltrate at any time?

Here’s the good news for those who choose to travel to foreign countries. You can’t discuss the virus with people who only speak Serbo-Croatian, Urdu, or Swahili. You can check the internet once or twice a day to make sure you and yours are still alive and to get the lay of the COVID land, but then you will be forced to talk about other things.

Before You Go

Whenever you decide it’s safe enough to travel, expect to have a certain amount of anxiety. You’ve accumulated a lot of things to worry about before and during isolation. Don’t fight it. Use whatever strategies you have to push the concerns out of your mind but, if you can’t, just accept that they are temporarily unavoidable. Shrug and let them do their thing while you do your thing—packing, checking on your flight, making sure you have your debit card.

Freedom is on the horizon.

Additional Info

  • Source Fodor's Travel

As vaccine distribution continues at pace, the number of nations opening up to vaccinated travelers from the States is also increasing. There is growing interest by American volunteers to travel abroad this year, especially to Globe Aware locations such as  Central and South America.


 

Where Can Vaccinated US Travelers Fly This Summer?

By Joanna Bailey

April 30, 2021

As vaccine distribution continues at pace, the number of nations opening up to vaccinated travelers from the States is also increasing. While the rules for travel remain complex in many cases, there is a growing potential for US citizens to travel abroad this year. Let’s take a look at where they could fly.

43% of the US is now ‘vaccinated’

According to information from Our World In Data, the United States has deployed at least one dose of the vaccine to 43% of the population. All in, it has delivered more than 237 million doses of the vaccine since the program began in January. This puts it behind only the UK and Israel in terms of the proportion of the population vaccinated.

However, some countries only recognize ‘vaccinated’ travelers as those who have received both doses. For the United States, this number is, understandably, rather lower. Just over 29% of the population are currently classed as ‘fully vaccinated,’ which could have a bearing on which countries are open.

Adding to the complication is the varying requirements for pre- and post-travel testing, as well as the rejection of some types of vaccines by some countries. Others may still require a quarantine period, although it’s likely to be significantly shorter for a vaccinated traveler.

With all this in mind, anyone thinking of traveling this summer should double-check all the requirements of the country they plan to visit. Nevertheless, some nations are making it much easier to travel and are looking forward to welcoming their American visitors. Here’s where they are.

The Caribbean

Popular vacation hotspots in the Caribbean are keen to get travelers back on their beaches. Anguilla has had to temporarily close due to an outbreak but plans to reopen from July 1st to fully vaccinated travelers.

Nearby Barbados is opening from May 8th but still requires a PCR test within three days of travel. On arrival, vaccinated travelers can take a rapid PCR test and will only be subject to quarantine if there is a delay in getting the results of this test. Grenada has a similar rule, promising no more than 48 hours in quarantine.

The British Virgin Islands have the same rule in place, but requires a full PCR test on arrival, which means waiting in quarantine for 24 hours or more for the result. They also don’t approve every vaccine, so check which one you’ve had.

Belize makes it easiest of all, with incoming travelers not even required to test before arriving on the island.

Central and South America

Ecuador is are opening for the summer for those who are vaccinated. Proof of vaccination replaces the need to test, and those who have had COVID and recovered can also enter the country. No quarantines are needed, and unvaccinated travelers can enter too, with a negative test result.

Guatemala isn’t yet looking at vaccine status, but does require either a negative test or proof of recovery for everyone aged 10 and above.

Africa

Popular destination Seychelles has been open to vaccinated travelers since January and was the first country in the world to do so. In March, it opened up to all visitors, with or without vaccination. Now, it is restricting arrivals from some countries, notably India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, all of whom require a vaccine to arrive.

Those who have spent time in Brazil or South Africa are banned from entry. Although there is no vaccine requirement for travelers from the US, the government does ‘strongly encourage’ visitors to get vaccinated before traveling.

Asia

Over in the Maldives, tourism is already restarting. Where an island’s local population is at least 60% vaccinated, visitors can arrive with or without the vaccine with no quarantine necessary. They will still require a test, however. Vaccinated travelers can avoid quarantine and testing at all Maldives islands, but unvaccinated children will need to take a test.

In Sri Lanka, vaccinated travelers still have to have a PCR test before departing the US. However, they only have to take one more PCR test on arrival, and only need to enter quarantine until the test results return. Sri Lanka’s ‘bio bubble,’ designed to stop tourists mixing with locals, will not be enforced for fully vaccinated travelers.

Nepal just asks for a PCR test on arrival; no pre-flight test is required. Other countries, including Thailand, are still struggling to meaningfully reopen amid growing cases of COVID in their populations.

seljalandsfoss 1751463 1920

Europe

Some European countries have been well-publicized to be opening to vaccinated travelers. Airlines noted a significant uptick in bookings for both Greece and Iceland after they were announced as being open to inoculated arrivals. But these aren’t the only places open for US arrivals.

Croatia is open to travelers with both doses of the vaccine, as well as those with a negative PCR test or evidence of recovery from COVID. Cyprus is allowing arrivals from Europe, the US, Canada and Russia, as well as some others, if they are vaccinated, with no testing. Unusually, Cyprus doesn’t require any wait time between the second vaccine dose and arriving in the country.

In contrast, Slovenia is allowing its 10-day quarantine to be bypassed by vaccinated travelers, but only if there has been a certain window of time since their last shot. This ranges from seven to 21 days, depending on the vaccine brand.

Estonia is allowing vaccinated travelers who received their shots in the last six months. Georgia is open to all, provided they have not been to India in the past 14 days. Poland, Montenegro and Madeira are open to vaccinated travelers, but with varying testing requirements.

The EU, as a whole, is formulating a plan for vaccinated travelers to be allowed entry to all 27 member states. The vaccines taken need to be EU-approved (so Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca), but no timeline has been given for this to take effect.

Middle East

Israel was planning to welcome vaccinated tourists by July, and will welcome a limited number of groups in May. However, the emergence of new COVID variants has brought doubt to this plan. The Israeli cabinet will discuss the way forward at a forthcoming meeting.

Lebanon is also open to vaccinated travelers, but only those who have been vaccinated in a specific country. The US is included, as are Canada, Australia and most of Europe.

Additional Info

  • Source Simple Flying
Thursday, 29 April 2021 11:18

“Revenge Travel” Is Trending

“Revenge travel” is when vacationers are ready to hit the roads, rails, seas, and skies in an attempt to make up for lost time from last year. Globe Aware volunteer vacations have dates open all year round, and the staff is ready to assist you with your "revenge travel" booking! 


 “Revenge Travel” Is Booming

APR 29, 2021

It’s been nicknamed “revenge travel”, and Kansans are getting into it in a big way.

“Revenge travel” is when vacationers are ready to hit the roads, rails, seas, and skies in an attempt to make up for lost time from last year, and travel agencies are seeing it in large numbers.

Shawn Steward, AAA Kansas spokesman, says that “travel advisors are seeing a trend towards extended, more lavish vacations with family and friends who they may not have been able to see for a year or more.

Travelers are upgrading their accommodations, merging two vacations into one, and, overall, taking things up a notch after having missed one or even two previously planned trips.”

Vaccinations are adding to the excitement, with over 80% of travelers surveyed by Destination Analysts saying they are more comfortable traveling once they are fully vaccinated.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Self

The arrival of summer is an opportunity to go on holiday, and if you’re looking for something special, then a volunteer vacation to Romania is the solution. Globe Aware's Brasov location has you visiting the infamous Transylvania castle, mentioned in this list. 


 

3 Top Summer Destinations for a Holiday in Romania

The arrival of summer is definitely an opportunity to go on holiday. And if you’re looking for something absolutely special, then a trip to Romania is the solution.

Buckle your seatbelts; we have compiled a list of 3 summer destinations that will make you want to visit Romania at the drop of a hat.

1. Bucharest

There is no point in beating around the bush, Bucharest is beautiful without a doubt. It is a city between worlds, blending post-communism with the ever-expanding influences of the West.

Bucharest still offers visitors the possibility to see how things once were, as it preserves many buildings that date all the way back to the interwar and communist times.

You can experience the city through our guided Bucharest tour and get the chance to see many of its iconic landmarks in one fell swoop. These include the Romanian Arch of Triumph, Victoriei Square, the Romanian Athenaeum, and many more.

Also, the grass is greener on the other side of a park’s fence – quite literally. Among its top attractions, the parks of Bucharest make for great summer retreats and are an ideal place to visit for those looking to go for a relaxing walk.

2. Constanța

Being only a train ride away from Bucharest, Constanța is located at the edge of the country where the land and the sea meet. It is the largest of Romania’s harbor cities and it is worth mentioning that it’s the oldest attested town in the country’s history.

Being close to the seaside ranks Constanța high among the best summer destinations in Romania. And from the get-go, you could pack your towel and umbrella to lay down at the beach and enjoy a warm afternoon.

However, Constanța has much more to offer than just the seaside. You can visit the city to see the Museum of Archeology and History, The Orthodox Cathedral, The Aquarium and Constanța Casino, the latter being very popular among tourist attractions. It is a disused casino, now considered a historic monument, that is situated along the Black Sea Boardwalk.

3. Transylvania

If Bucharest or Constanța prove themselves to be too urban for your tastes, then why not shake things up with something truly remarkable?

Transylvania is a must-visit for those spending a holiday in Romania and it ranks high among the country’s top summer destinations.

If you are looking to escape the heat, then you’d be hard-pressed not to find a place to cool down in the 100.000 km2 of thick forest which make up the region.

dracula 4741842 1920

Countryside Romania
Transylvania is the home for the Legend of Dracula, a fact which influences everyone’s perspective of the area, giving it an aura of mystery and peril.

On the other side, the region has a rich backstory and visitors will get a glimpse of it through the many fortresses and castles which are scattered across the area, such as Peleș Castle, Bran Castle, and Râșnov Fortress.

That is why, for a culturally enriching experience, we can suggest a Transylvania tour. It offers complete exposure to all Transylvanian things, including its most iconic locations, such as Sinaia, Brașov, and Sighișoara.

For More Summer Destinations in Romania
We hope that this article proved itself useful and gave you reasons to spend your holiday on a trip to Romania.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Nepal has introduced new travel rules for COVID vaccinated travelers, and one among them is removing the quarantine policy for fully vaccinated foreign travelers. Volunteers can now book Globe Aware's Nepal program starting this summer!


Nepal scraps quarantine policy for vaccinated tourists

TRAVEL NEWS, NEPAL
March 27, 2021

Nepal has introduced new travel rules for COVID vaccinated travellers, and one among them is removing quarantine policy for fully-vaccinated foreign travellers. People who have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine are not required to quarantine any more. The decision was taken to boost travel and tourism in the pandemic-hit country.

As per new travel protocols, Nepal's Tourism Ministry said that vaccinated foreign tourists entering Nepal need to submit a negative PCR test report form within 72 hours prior to departure. They also need to submit documents proving that both doses of vaccines have been taken.

After reaching Nepal, tourists need to take another PCR test (at their own cost) and stay in isolation until the report comes.

The new protocol reads, "If the report is positive, they should, as per the rules, remain for further isolation in the hotel at their own costs. With a negative PCR result, they can continue on their tour.” It further states that the new rule replaces all the travel rules issued by the government earlier.

nepal

For Indian tourists, the new rule states that the travellers must follow arrangements as per Nepal-India Travel Bubble Agreement. They must submit their PCR negative reports, along with documents stating that they have been fully vaccinated.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

Ramadan Mubarak to all our Muslim volunteers, friends, and family! Globe Aware celebrates cultural diversity and welcomes volunteers from all faiths to our international volunteer vacations.


 

Ramadan 2021: These countries will fast for 23 hours every day this year

Web report/Dubai
April 12, 2021

Countries near the North Pole observe longer hours.

For the second year in a row, the holy month of Ramadan will be observed under exceptional circumstances imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fasting hours vary from country to country, according to geographical location. Countries near the North Pole observe longer hours, while those numbers decrease as one heads toward the South Pole.

ramadan 3434919 1920

The number of fasting hours in Finland this year will hit 23 hours and five minutes, making it the longest to observe fasting hours in the world, together wtih other Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Sweden.

In Australia, the number of fasting hours will last 11 hours and 59 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the Arab countries, Algeria and Tunisia top the list with 14 hours and 39 minutes on the first day of Ramadan, and 15 hours and 50 minutes on the last day.

The shortest fasting hours in the Arab world will be observed in the Comoros, with about 13 hours and 12 minutes on the first day of Ramadan, and 12 hours and 59 minutes on the last day in the capital, Moroni.

In Makkah, fasting hours will last 13 hours and 51 minutes on the first day, and 14 hours and 7 minutes on the last day of Ramadan.

Additional Info

  • Source Khaleej Times
Wednesday, 14 April 2021 10:53

The Most Searched Travel Questions Right Now

From travel insurance to safety issues, these are the questions travelers are researching online right now. Globe Aware is also ready to answer your questions and concerns about our volunteer vacations.


 

These Are the Most Searched Travel Questions Right Now — and We Have the Answers

From travel insurance to safety issues, these are the questions travelers are researching online right now.

BY JESSICA POITEVIEN
MARCH 04, 2021

The world of travel has always changed at a rapid pace, but never has that been more true than now. Between figuring out where Americans can travel to keeping track of new COVID safety protocols, at times, it can seem like there are more questions than answers.

But what are the most searched travel questions these days? Using Google search data from the last month, Club Med determined what questions are boggling the minds of travelers the most. From basic queries about the existence of travel agents and the best travel credit cards to hot topics like when we can travel again, these are some of the most researched travel questions, along with our answers.

#4: Is it safe to travel right now?

Safety is always a concern when it comes to travel, but these questions usually surround a specific destination. A global pandemic changes things. We recently spoke with medical, aviation, and travel experts to answer the question of whether or not it's safe to fly during the pandemic. Factors they say you should consider include safety protocols, seat spacing, aircraft cleanliness, and flight time. In the end, though, the answer is complicated, full of caveats, and, ultimately, a personal decision.

#3: Is travel insurance worth it?

Leave it to a global pandemic to make people reevaluate the need for travel insurance. The popularity of Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) policies has skyrocketed since last year, but there are many factors to consider when choosing travel insurance, including whether or not COVID-related coverage (i.e. unexpected quarantine) is actually part of the deal. Whatever you decide, here are more details on making an informed choice when it comes to travel insurance.

#2: Why is traveling important?

It's not just the travel industry that promotes the benefits of getting out to explore or taking a relaxing vacation. It seems like there's some scientific evidence to back up that claim, too. Recent research has revealed that there are tangible health benefits to going on vacation and traveling in general. Beyond simply having fun, other travel perks include reducing stress, boosting brain power, and improving heart health.

#1: Is travel a hobby?

This probably wasn't what you were expecting for the top travel question right now. Perhaps it's the avid travelers trying to validate their sadness about not going on trips at the moment, or maybe it's the lockdown-weary folks who are ready to prioritize travel once it's possible again. Either way, travel is most definitely a hobby. And apparently, it's so important that 38% of Americans would give up sex to travel right now.

Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but she's always on the lookout for her next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure

Vietnam is eyeing the resumption of regular international passenger flights, targeting daily flights in September. Globe Aware offers an impactful program in the city of Hoi An, and hopes to resume this fall, following the country's guidelines.


Vietnam targets daily international flights from September

Vietnam is eyeing the resumption of regular international passenger flights, targeting daily flights to partnering jurisdictions in September.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Transport to ramp up international flights in three phases, it says in a 31 March statement.

This comes as Vietnam’s prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued a call on 17 March for preparations to reopen international air travel, including the possibility of introducing “vaccine passports”.

vietnam travel covid

In phase one, flights are targeted at bundled flight and hotel travel packages for Vietnamese citizens serving 14-day quarantines. No timeline was provided.

Phase two will be implemented from July, focusing on re-establishing air connectivity with other countries. There will be four weekly return flights for each airline in each destination country, which includes Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The flights are also subject to the quarantine capacity at Vietnam and the arrival airports.

The third and final stage begins in September. Vietnam is targeting daily return flights to each destination country. In this phase, Vietnam will allow entry to foreigners with a negative Covid-19 test result or vaccine certificate to serve a shortened seven- to 14-day home-quarantine.

The launch of the final phase will depend on the progress of Vietnam’s vaccination programme, and it plans to restore air connectivity with countries that have similar vaccination standards and protocols to curb the spread of Covid-19.

CAAV says that local authorities will recognise international vaccine certificates issued by government-approved immunisation establishments or the World Health Organization’s vaccination system.

Cirium data shows that seat capacity on international flights to Vietnam from January to March was 115,000-149,000 each month, a far cry from the 1.8-1.96 million seats for the same period in 2019.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released a highly anticipated update to travel guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, declaring that they can travel at low risk to themselves, as long as coronavirus precautions are taken. Globe Aware takes these precautions seriously, and assures our volunteers that we will continue to follow them.


Fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves, new CDC guidance says

By Lauren Mascarenhas and Jacqueline Howard
April 2, 2021

(CNN)The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday released a highly anticipated update to travel guidance for people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, eliminating some testing and quarantine recommendations.

Fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Friday, but travel still isn't recommended at this time because of rising numbers of coronavirus cases.

The agency said that as long as coronavirus precautions are taken, including mask wearing, fully vaccinated people can travel within the United States without getting tested for Covid-19 before or self-quarantining after.

cdc travel recommendations

For international travel, fully vaccinated people don't need a Covid-19 test prior to travel -- unless it is required by the destination -- and do not need to self-quarantine after returning to the United States. They should still have a negative Covid-19 test before boarding a flight to the US, and a follow up test three to five days after their return, the CDC noted.

The CDC considers someone fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last required dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The updated guidance does not apply to unvaccinated people. The CDC advises anyone who hasn't been fully vaccinated to continue to avoid travel.

Unvaccinated people who must travel should get tested one to three days before travel and again three to five days after travel. They should self-quarantine at home for seven days after travel, or 10 days, if they do not get tested post-travel.

The CDC said all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask and practice public health measures when traveling, such as physical distancing and washing hands frequently.

During a White House briefing on Friday, Walensky said she continues to worry about the coronavirus pandemic -- and with rising case numbers, she still recommends against nonessential travel.

"We haven't changed our guidance for nonessential travel at all. We are not recommending travel at this time, especially for unvaccinated people," Walensky said, emphasizing that the update is meant for those who are vaccinated -- only about 20% of the adult population.

"I still continue to worry that with 80% of the population unvaccinated that we still have a lot of work to do to control this pandemic," Walensky said.

More updates expected

Last month, the CDC released its first iteration of guidance for fully vaccinated Americans, in which the agency said they should avoid travel. Some critics at the time said the CDC's stance on travel for fully vaccinated people was too rigid.

Walensky defended the agency's initial travel guidance at the time, explaining that changes to guidance would be ongoing as more people are vaccinated in the US and that scientific data would inform any recommendations.

"We are very worried about transmissible variants. A lot of them have come through our travel corridors, so we're being extra cautious right now with travel," Walensky told CNN's Anderson Cooper in March. She noted that every time travel picks up, a surge in coronavirus cases follows, citing Independence Day, Labor Day and the holiday season.

Experts say that the US appears to be entering into another fresh surge this spring, which is partially due to more travel. The US averaged 63,974 daily cases over the last 7-days, up 11% since last week.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

Enhanced sanitation protocols and relaxed policies are here to stay, as well as an increase in contactless check-in, mobile check-ins. Globe Aware is here to assist you when planning your volunteer vacation, with our updated policies and flexible booking.


 Here’s what post-pandemic travel might look like

MAR 30 2021
Kenneth Kiesnoski

  • After a year of pandemic-induced lockdowns, Americans are looking to travel again as vaccinations against Covid become more widely available.
  • Much has changed since last spring, and travel suppliers say many changes — for better or worse — are here to stay.

Many Americans are thinking of travel again.

And who can blame them? After all, it’s been more than a year of seesawing coronavirus infection rates, on-again, off-again lockdown restrictions, and simple quarantine fatigue.

As Covid-19 vaccination efforts gather steam nationwide, tourism suppliers are tracking increased interest, and even business, in vacations departing as early as this spring. Many aspects of the travel experience, however, have changed and may become permanent — for better or worse.

“We’re increasingly seeing people optimistic about traveling, either as soon as this spring or into the summer,” said Jeff Hurst, president of online vacation home rental site Vrbo in Austin, Texas, and marketing co-lead at parent company Expedia Group.

travel

“What’s encouraging is that people are essentially putting their money where their mouth is and booking that trip,” he said.

A recent Vrbo survey of 8,000-plus people found that 65% of Americans plan on traveling more in 2021 than they did pre-Covid.

A March survey of 535 adults by website The Vacationer found that once the pandemic is “officially” over, a quarter of people plan to travel more, while just over 58% will return to pre-Covid travel habits. The same study found that 67.72% of respondents plan to travel this summer.

Expedia Group’s 2021 Travel Trends Report, conducted in December, found that 46% of people said they’d be more likely to travel when a vaccine became widely available. By Wednesday, nine states will offer all their residents vaccinations, and President Joe Biden wants to make every U.S. adult eligible for vaccination by May 1.

Jon Grutzner, president of Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold — two high-end guided vacation brands owned by Cypress, California-based The Travel Corporation — said that “as the vaccine rollout continues to evolve, we’ve seen a dramatic uptick in our bookings.”

Reservations are now coming in for Q3 and Q4 of this year. “But it’s 2022 that is going to be a record year, I think, for all folks,” Grutzner said.

Air travel is surging, CNBC has reported, and both short- and long-term hotel bookings are beginning to recover, according to Nicholas Ward, president and co-founder of Koddi, a Fort Worth, Texas-based travel booking technology company.

Ward said he sees increased vaccination rates, more travel demand and good travel sentiment data as pointing to “the possibility of a great summer period, even if we don’t fully recover in 2021.”

While demand for traditional hotel accommodations remains down about 13% from last year and 20% vs. 2019, “that’s the least it’s been down for in some time,” he said. “We’re seeing things generally going in the right direction from a travel demand perspective and continuing to improve week on week.”

For all that, industry executives don’t see a return to the pre-pandemic status quo. There’s a new travel normal, they say, for better or worse.

“I don’t think there will be a future year that feels normal in the context of the past,” said Vrbo’s Hurst. “I’m not really not planning that way, and I’m not sure consumers are, either.”

James Ferrara, co-founder and president of Delray Beach, Florida-based InteleTravel — a network of some 60,000 home-based travel advisors — agreed.

“We’ll never return to what the industry looked like pre-pandemic, nor should we,” he said. “We have grown through the last year, we’ve learned some stuff — and so have consumers.

Ferrara said some changes, such as continued masking or cruise ships sailing at half capacity, will only be temporary, while others — like enhanced sanitation protocols and relaxed cancellation and rebooking policies from airlines and other travel suppliers — are here to stay. “This looks like a long-term change to me, and I think that’s excellent business for everyone.”

Koddi’s Ward agreed and predicted that the safe and “frictionless” check-in protocols that hotels, resorts and other accommodations instituted during the pandemic represent a sea change, with suppliers focused on upgrading technology such as smartphone apps.

“We’re seeing contactless check-in, mobile check-ins, really pick up quite significantly,” he said. “It’s a net win for consumers and really can for hotels, as well.

“They’re looking to operate — and in many cases have to operate — much more efficiently,” said Ward, noting it will take some time for accommodation staffing levels to rebound, so tech shortcuts are crucial.

Speaking of staff, Ferrara said the silver lining to the pandemic for travel advisors — or travel agents, as they were once more commonly known — was that it proved their worth to consumers. A profession that has suffered repeated blows, from commission cuts to the rise of online booking engines, since the turn of the century finally got to prove it has the right stuff when Covid hit and vacations were scrubbed en masse.

“Here we are a year later, and we’re seeing some customers still struggle to get their refunds,” said Ferrara. “A professional travel advisor would do all that work for you and often at no cost.”

When he founded InteleTravel in the early 1990s, the credibility of travel advisors “fell somewhere around used car salesmen,” Ferrara said. But “consumers have learned the value of a professional travel advisor, particularly when things don’t go the way they want them to go.”

“In my career, which is over 30 years now, I’ve never seen interest and confidence in travel agents as high as it is now,” he added, noting he has seen surveys showing that two-thirds of prospective travelers plan to use a travel advisor for future trips.

Where are they headed?

Vrbo’s Top 5 Drivable U.S. Destinations for 2021

  • Broken Bow, Oklahoma
  • Boone, North Carolina
  • Naples, Florida
  • Miramar & Rosemary Beach, Florida
  • Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
  • Source: The 2021 Vrbo Trend Report

Look for continued interest in domestic travel, beach vacations, vacation home rentals and “bleisure” trips mixing business travel and vacations — all trends that took hold or took off during the pandemic. Another is the road trip.

In a recent survey by Erie Insurance, 51.2% of respondents said they plan on taking at least one road trip in their own vehicle this year, while another 30% would like to but say it depends on the state of the pandemic. Of those who will travel, 55% plan to drive more than 500 miles from home.

Hurst at Vrbo says local, drive-to travel is here to stay. “The wanderlust to explore what’s close by, you know, has in particular for the younger generations potentially durable benefits,” he said. “You’re not going to be in the air as much.

“It is a different type of economically sustainable travel, and that you can invest more in local communities and things you might feel a different type of connectiveness to.”

Grutzner agreed that “travel with a purpose” is in. “We’re getting more questions now about what our company does to give back.” (All 40 The Travel Corporation brands collectively founded TreadRight Foundation, which supports 50 projects worldwide dedicated to sustainable tourism and community and environmental support.)

Grutzner also expects a resurgence of interest in escorted vacations, or group tours, although travelers may now prefer smaller contingents.

“We’re careful and very selective about hotels we stay in, the restaurants where we eat and the places that we go, so that we’re not putting our guests in danger,” he said, adding that Insight’s average tour includes fewer than 24 participants and Luxury Gold’s, under 20. “I do believe this will be more and more something that people will seek out.”

Something they’ll also look for — or be required to have — is travel insurance, especially for medical care outside U.S. borders. Grutzner said 85% of clients now buy insurance, compared with 40% to 45% pre-Covid.

“I can tell you that everyone should add travel insurance to every transaction,” said Ferrara, noting that travel suppliers relaxing change penalties does not mean vacationers don’t have to worry. “You do have to worry about being airlifted somewhere you trust the medical services,” he said. “And those bills — I’ve seen people put through claims for a quarter of a million dollars.”

While today’s travelers will largely be vaccinated and insured, the travel sector itself will end up healthier than it was pre-pandemic, Hurst said.

“We’ll have a new muscle as it relates to … how … we deal with hopefully a much more minor version of this in the future,” he said. “I think we’re all more prepared … so I’m optimistic that future such events are both smaller and less disruptive.”

Additional Info

  • Source CNBC

TSA officials announced over 1.5 million passengers passed through airport security this last Sunday, marking the first time the milestone was reached since March 2020. Globe Aware has also seen an increase in bookings and travel amongst it's volunteers, signaling a demand for travel.


 

Air Travel Continues Rebound as TSA Surpasses 1.5 Million Screened Passengers

AIRLINES & AIRPORTS
DONALD WOOD
MARCH 23, 2021

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials announced over 1.5 million passengers passed through airport security on Sunday, marking the first time the milestone was reached since March 2020.

According to Reuters.com, TSA officials revealed they screened 1.54 million people Sunday, the highest single total since March 13, 2020, and the 11th consecutive day screening volume exceeded one million passengers per day.

airplane3

Despite the surge in travelers at American airports, air travel in the United States was still down on Sunday by about 30 percent compared to pre-COVID 19 levels. While domestic flights are starting to rebound, international and business demand remains weak.

As a result of the spike in domestic travel, U.S. airline executives expressed optimism last week over further increases in demand this summer. Officials also acknowledged that financial losses were declining, as United Airlines revealed it would halt its cash burn in March.

Air travel was down 60 percent in 2020, but demand and advanced bookings have shown positive signs for the future, thanks in part to the successful launch of COVID-19 vaccination centers across the country.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

Thailand cautiously reopened its borders in October 2020 and is further relaxing restrictions starting in April 2021. Further details of Thailand’s Covid protection measures will be announced and shared by Globe Aware to it's volunteers.


 

Thailand Easing Covid Travel Restrictions In April

Johanna Read Contributor
Travel

Thailand, one of the few countries known for successfully managing the Covid pandemic, cautiously reopened its borders in October 2020 and is further relaxing restrictions starting in April 2021.

By the time the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives the green light for international travel to resume, further details of Thailand’s Covid protection measures should be available. Travelers can once again enjoy the Land of Smiles, even if smiles still need to be covered by masks for now.

Further relaxation of Thailand’s Covid rules as of April 1, 2021

Thailand has begun vaccinating its citizens and, as of April 1, the popular tourism country is lifting some of its Covid restrictions. As of that date, Thailand’s strict 14-day quarantine will be relaxed to ten days for most travelers. An exception is travelers from countries with virus variants of concern—those quarantines remain at 14 days.

To help ensure the safety of Thais and fellow travelers, people arriving in Thailand will receive two Covid tests during their quarantine period, one between days three and five of arrival and another between days nine and ten. Thailand’s “Fit to Fly” health certificate is no longer required, but people arriving in Thailand still need to present confirmation of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours.

thailand travel

Even more easing of restrictions to come?

Details are still being confirmed, but The Guardian also reported that travelers who test negative after three days may be allowed to leave their quarantine hotel room under certain conditions.

As well, Reuters reported that travelers who have been vaccinated within the most recent three months may be able to have their quarantine period reduced from 10 days to seven. However, other news outlets say that this decision is yet to be confirmed. As clinical trials show how long Covid vaccines provide immunity and how they behave against the new variants of concern, the three-month restriction may no longer apply.

October goal for quarantine-free travel

Thailand hopes to have 70% of its high-risk groups vaccinated by October 2021, to allow further relaxation of travel rules by then—perhaps even quarantine-free travel—Reuters reported.

The Independent reported that the first provinces to be open for international tourists are the capital, Bangkok; Chiang Mai in the north; the popular resort island of Phuket; Surat Thani—known as the “province of a thousand islands”—which includes Ko Samui and Ko Tao; and the province of Chonburi, which is on the Gulf of Thailand about 50 miles from Bangkok.

The doors are more fully opening for tourists to indulge in Thailand’s excellent cuisine, enjoy its sandy beaches, and explore the country’s vibrant history and culture.

Thailand fully reopened by January 2022?

Plans are underway for tourists to be able to visit Thailand’s most popular areas without needing to quarantine by October 2021. Thailand aims to reopen completely by January 2022.

Crucial to the safe reopening of all countries is distribution of Covid vaccines worldwide as soon as possible. As well, conclusive evidence is needed that vaccines are as effective at protecting against transmitting the virus as they are protecting against serious illness and death. Clinical trials are underway now, with results expected in autumn 2021 and early 2022.

Until then, where are you planning to visit during your Thailand vacation?

Additional Info

  • Source Forbes
Friday, 19 March 2021 15:12

Tips for traveling during the pandemic

You may be considering a trip abroad this spring break or other future travel plans. Globe Aware recommends you check out this short list for safe and smart traveling tips before you travel!


Safe and smart traveling tips during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of life and that includes travel. As vaccinations are administered and positive cases begin to drop, you may be considering that spring break trip or other travel plans. The question remains: how do you travel safely?

Edyta Satchell answers that very questions with advice on how to pack, getting through the airport, and more.

Smart packing– the travel wellness starts before your leave the house. New items to pack are multiple face-covering masks, sanitizing wipes, body thermometers, and plastic bags for food.

Check the rules and restrictions – for all travel suppliers (airlines, hotels, car rentals), all your trip destinations, border crossing to and from the US (effective January 26th travelers returning to the US must present a negative Covid test document.)

Going through airport security – remove food from your hand luggage, and opt-in for TSA Pre-Check.

Contamination zones awareness – at every step of your trip the moment you leave the house, in the taxi, on the plane or train, in the metro. The zones are the same: anything in front of you, anything behind you, anything above you, windows, and doors.

Travel Insurance – additional coverage is a must and it should include additional coverage in the event of a global pandemic to avoid any penalties or cancellation fees.

Additional Info

  • Source Scripps Media, Inc
Sunday, 07 March 2021 10:56

Spring Break travel numbers increase

Spring break is one of the busiest times of the year for travel and after a year of stay-at-home orders, travel experts are optimistic for travel to pick back up. Globe Aware offers one-week volunteer vacations, with the perfect itinerary to make the most of your spring break! 


Local travel agents and airport leaders see an uptick in Spring Break travel

By Nina McFarlane
Mar 7, 2021

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – Spring break is one of the busiest times of the year for travel and after a year of stay-at-home orders, travel experts are optimistic for travel to pick back up.

For some, spring break is a week spent on vacation, but in March of 2020, many people canceled flights and refunded trips as the world prepared for lockdown and COVID-19 spread.

“I think it’s 1973, you have to go back to that year to see numbers this low,” said Peoria International Airport Director of Airports Gene Olson.

Now a year later as vaccinations roll out across the nation, Olson said he’s optimistic numbers will start to pick back up again.

“Hopefully there will be more than what we had in 2020. It’s not going to be hard to beat April’s tally of 3,000 passengers. I think the exact number was 2,928 so that one should be easy to beat,” said Olson.

Local travel agents say they’re already busy booking vacations. Peoria Charter Travel Agent Amanda Schott said the phone keeps ringing and people are ready to travel again but in the new normal.

“Even though the airlines are doing their job, I still bring my own sanitizing wipes and I am wiping down my seats, you know you can only really protect yourself. I’m not going to let his pandemic keep me away from doing the things that I love, but I am going to do it safely,” said Schott.

Olson said the airflow on planes is a common misconception.

“You know people think you’re jammed together on an airplane with other people and it’s the same air, well it’s not the airplane actually draws in outside air and they can control the rate that happens and so they have turned all those things up full so it’s exchanging air as much as possible,” said Olson.

Spring break aside, Olson said the biggest jump in travel numbers will happen once business travel picks back up again.

Additional Info

  • Source Nexstar

Digital health passports gain momentum in being likely crucial as the travel industry rebounds. Globe Aware will assist all volunteers in understanding what will be expected in preparation for your volunteer vacation.


5 things to know about IATA’s Travel Pass app right now

Victoria M. Walker
Feb 26, 2021

If you’ve been plugged into travel news during the pandemic, you’ve probably heard the term “vaccine passport” or “immunity passport” more than once. After all, these digital health passports will likely be a crucial part of the travel industry as it rebounds.

Right now, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a physical vaccination card that tells you key facts about your inoculation, including the date you received the vaccine and the type you received.

But the industry is searching for ways to convert this information into a digital health passport you could display on your phone. In addition to details about the COVID-19 vaccine, it could track and organize other pieces of health information too, such as recent coronavirus test results and other inoculations needed for travel, such as the yellow fever vaccine.

Many people have questions about digital health passports and how they will play a role in travel.

To find out more about what digital health passports might look like, TPG spoke with Nick Careen, a senior vice president at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade association of airlines around the world. IATA is developing a Travel Pass app that will host both verified COVID-19 test results and vaccine information.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

What is the IATA Travel Pass and how will it work?
Careen: What the Travel Pass is designed to do is to digitize [paper COVID-19 results], so instead of having to show up at the airport with your piece of paper and queue up in a line and wait for someone to validate it, and then subsequently get through a check-in process and then onboard an aircraft, we’re proposing that you would be able to do that electronically. It’s digitizing an existing manual process as it stands today.

Can the app be standardized?
Careen: There is no standard in place in terms of what the key elements of a certificate would look like nor even the digitalization of a certificate … from one country to another, and no one is following any level of consistency whatsoever.

The first step is to work with our two regulators. And that is ongoing work. That is anticipated to come to completion at some point between now and May, where the World Health Organization (WHO) will, hopefully, at that point, have settled on a digital version of what a health vaccination certificate would need to look like for COVID-19.

What if you’ve already been vaccinated?
Careen: We’re going to need to have processes in place that would allow consumers to upload their current vaccination status. That may take multiple forms that could be an [optical character recognition that] formats pictures or PDF files. Those types of things will need to be incorporated into the app to [accommodate] those who have been vaccinated prior to a standard being released.

How will the app weed out fake COVID-19 results or vaccine certificates?
Careen: Given the variations [of COVID-19 test results and vaccine certificates] out there and the way it’s being dealt with [using] a piece of paper, it’s difficult. It’s very difficult to ask any normal check-in agent in an airline environment to validate what’s real and what isn’t. We simply don’t have that capability, and we do our best to train them as much as possible [about] things to look for, but it is wrought with risk.

There needs to be a certified list of registered labs to issue that [testing] certificate. That [certificate] would need to be matched against your digital identity and the app that makes it foolproof. [Your results] would reside on your app as a verifiable credential, and that would eliminate the issues around fraudulent testing. Subsequently, when we get to the vaccination piece, it would work the same way.

How will travelers add information to the app?
Careen: In this case, what we’re thinking is you would take a picture or a scan of that particular credential, which would, in this case, be a CDC vaccination card with your name on it. We would need to verify that against your digital credential that has been created in the app to make sure that the content is accurate because we don’t want to have a situation where we’ve created a case where someone has a fake card that’s uploaded.

There has to be some verification in the background that we would interrogate against your name and location to ensure that the certificate was valid. But again, we don’t set those standards — the government does.

Victoria M. Walker covers travel deep-dives and features. She previously taught multimedia journalism at Howard University and was the breaking news video editor at The Washington Post.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

Some countries have said they’ll allow international travellers to enter without negative coronavirus tests or having to quarantine – once they’ve had the Covid vaccination. Here’s what you need to know


WHICH COUNTRIES ARE OPEN TO VACCINATED TRAVELLERS?

By ABIGAIL MALBON
February 26 2021


The UK is currently in lockdown, meaning international travel isn’t currently allowed. However, following the announcement of the planned road map by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday 22 February, it seems UK staycations are looking more likely by Monday 12 April, while overseas breaks may be permitted from Monday 17 May at the earliest. Read 'When will we travel?' for all the latest information. And in more good news, some countries have said they’ll allow travellers to enter once they’ve been vaccinated, something the UK is hoping to achieve for the entire adult population by autumn 2021.

While the UK government has not yet 100 per cent confirmed whether vaccine passports will go ahead, these are the countries that have said they will welcome travellers, potentially without a negative Covid-19 test or having to quaratine upon arrival if they have official proof of having had a coronavirus vaccine, or, in some places, if passengers have evidence that they have recently had and recovered from the virus, and therefore still have the necessary antibodies in their system.

ESTONIA

The Estonian ministry has confirmed the country will welcome travellers in these circumstances: ‘From 1 February, 10-day self-isolation and Covid-19 testing are not mandatory for individuals, including those arriving from the UK or a third country, who either have suffered from Covid-19 and no more than six months have passed since they have been declared cured, or who have undergone Covid-19 vaccination and no more than six months have passed since its completion.’

Where to stay: The unique capital, Tallinn, shimmers in beautiful Northern light and can be both endearingly shabby and stunningly attractive. The Three Sisters Hotel was Tallinn's first contemporary-style hotel, and is housed in three adjacent 14th-century buildings, the so-called 'sisters'.

What to do: A morning can easily be spent wandering through the old town, visiting the Town Hall and Upper Town for a special view of the majestic city. Follow this up with a visit to the National Art Museum, which houses an impressive 59,000 items, many of which are on show in the 18th-century noble's house.

THE SEYCHELLES

The Seychelles is planning to remove all quarantine requirements for those who have had a Covid vaccine. However, a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travelling will still need to be shown.

Where to stay: The nation of 115 islands has plenty of choice, but the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island is a firm favourite. Alternatively, check out more of the most beautiful places to stay in the Seychelles.

What to do: Explore a few of the islands to make the most out of your trip. Getting around is relatively easy thanks to inter-island plane transfers.

CYPRUS

The UK is not currently in the green category, meaning the new rules don’t apply for Cyprus yet. However, it is expected that we will be included once infection rates drop. The Minister of Transport for Cyprus, Yiannis Karousos commented: ‘The amended action plan is expected to further boost the interest of airline companies to carry out additional flights to Cyprus, improve connectivity and increase passenger traffic.’

Where to stay: Sumptuous scenery is pretty much guaranteed wherever you choose to stay in Cyprus, although Paphos stands out thanks to its ancient ruins and stunning harbour. Stay at Almyra design hotel for top-notch food: the chef is a Nobu alumnus.

What to do: A visit to Paphos' ancient ruins is a must, but we'd recommend hiring a car and driving north of the island for some of the dreamiest beaches.

ICELAND

Covid measures for travellers to Iceland include testing and quarantine, but it’s expected that people who can prove they have had a vaccine will be able to bypass this from Saturday 1 May 2021. Authorities are also accepting certificates proving previous Covid infection, enabling those with antibodies to be exempt from testing or quarantine requirements.

Where to stay: Most head to Reykjavik for its café culture, boutiques and world-class bars. For a particularly special trip, book into The Retreat – a 62-suite spa hotel in a private extension of the famous Blue Lagoon.

What to do: A bucket-list blitz, of course: see the Northern Lights, swim in the Blue Lagoon and go on a whale tour. For something a little more unusual, horseback riding in the cold, open air is equally as memorable.

ROMANIA

Arrivals into Romania will not need to quarantine, provided they can show proof of two Covid vaccinations, the second dose having been given more than 10 days before travel.

Where to stay: Transylvania is a glorious throwback to go-slow, rural living, filled with 12th-century buildings and Gothic castles, horse-drawn carts, brown bears roaming the mountains and farmers busily ploughing fields. There's also some excitingly fresh places to stay there too, thanks to Bethlen Estates.

What to do: Take a trip to the Carpathian Mountains to see Bran Castle – also known as Dracula's Castle, due to its similarity to the fortress described in Bram Stoker's novel. Or choose to explore one of the many, many other beautiful places in Romania.

LEBANON

In Lebanon travellers will be able to skip longer quarantine measures as long as they have a negative PCR test taken 96 hours before flying. Upon arrival, they are then required to take another test and quarantine for 72 hours.

GEORGIA

As of Monday 1 February 2021, all international tourists can enter Georgia (the country, not the American state) as long as they can prove that they have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

POLAND

The 10-day quarantine requirement for those travelling to Poland will be lifted for anyone who has been fully vaccinated. You will need to have a Covid test issued within 48 hours before arrival, but both PCR and antigen tests will be accepted.

WHICH COUNTRIES ARE RUMOURED TO BE CONSIDERING LETTING IN VACCINATED TRAVELLERS?

Greece is said to be considering allowing tourists to enter the country. This would mean the country would be breaking from the European Union, which is pushing for a cautious approach to reopening for non-essential travel from outside the bloc. However, Greece has already forged a ‘vaccine bubble’ agreement with Israel and Cyprus, which means it's feasible that the process could be applied to UK travellers, too.

Spain is also reportedly considering allowing British travellers to visit if they have had a Covid vaccine. In late February, the country’s tourism chief said travel could return as soon as summer, although this has not been confirmed by the UK government.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

More than 80% of folks surveyed by Trivago somewhat or strongly agreed that travel is a part of a well-rounded life, and most felt that being prevented from travelling freely is one of the worst aspects of the pandemic. Globe Aware staff and volunteers also know that meaningful travel brings about a positive impact to the locations traveled.


 

Trivago poll shows how freedom to travel is vital for people’s sense of wellbeing

By Lee Hayhurst
Feb 19, 2021

Latest polling of British travellers by hotel price comparison site Trivago has found that being unable to travel is one of the worst aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In January, Trivago asked 1,000 adults for their opinions as part of a wider survey that also looked at the opinions of US travellers.

More than 80% of Brits surveyed somewhat or strongly agreed that travel is a part of a well-rounded life.

Most felt that being prevented from travelling freely is one of the worst aspects of the pandemic (82%) and that because of the pandemic this is the most they’ve ever felt like traveling (61%).

The survey also found that people’s definition of what constitutes a dream holiday has changed.

Trivago said the typical idea of a big trip is becoming obsolete with travel restrictions and the ability to plan ahead all but impossible.

In addition, the isolation and distance of lockdowns has “changed the dynamic of dream vacations as we think of them”, the site said.

The top choice for Brits for their dream holiday was the chance to spend “time with the family and friends I’ve missed” (34%), particularly among older respondents (47%).

Asked about their first trip after the pandemic, most said it makes them feel “excited” (U54%) and/or “happy” (52%).

And 25% of both Britons said they’d give up all their savings to do it now, and around two-fifths (40%) even said they’d give up sex for a year to get away now.

One in five said they would give up their partner to travel now and nearly half would give up their job (41%).

Trivago said the study underlines how emotional wellbeing is another driver for travel and the need to get away.

When they do travel, respondents said they are likely to incorporate new interests with more than half (56%) of Brtis saying they have picked up a new hobby since the start of the pandemic.

The vast majority of those (64%) think it is at least somewhat likely they’ll pick a holiday connected to the new hobby once the pandemic ends.

Trivago said: “Given all this, a travel boom post-pandemic is likely as consumers strive to make up for lost time.

“Overall, travelling again is inevitable. More than four in five of the respondents (87%) see travel as fundamental to a good life and two-thirds or more (66%) say they plan to travel even more than they have in the past once the pandemic ends.

To help with this desire to a break, Trivago is poised to launch a tool for inspiring and booking options for local trips while international travel remains curtailed.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Travolution

The pace of Covid-19 vaccinations, consumer confidence and 2022 travel bookings are ramping up. Globe Aware volunteers can feel optimistic about being able to vacation abroad this year.


 

Travel agencies, cruise lines and airlines gear up for rebound in bookings

"Many people are already actively planning their next big trip," said one travel expert. "And it is not too early to book for 2022, especially with trip protection."

Feb. 12, 2021
By Harriet Baskas

As the pace of Covid-19 vaccinations is ramping up, so is consumer confidence — and with it, a surge in travel bookings for later this year and for 2022.

"Many travelers are feeling optimistic that they will be able to vacation abroad this year. Many people are already actively planning their next big trip — even for trips more than four months out," said Shibani Walia, senior research analyst at Tripadvisor.

2020 was the worst year in history for air travel demand, according to the International Air Transport Association, with global passenger traffic falling more than 65 percent, compared to 2019. The hotel industry also tanked, surpassing 1 billion unsold room nights, according to hotel industry research firm STR. The story was much the same for cruises, attractions and tours, with the World Tourism Organization calling 2020 the worst year on record.

But now, with a comprehensive vaccine schedule and pent-up demand for leaving home, vacation planning and bookings are on the rise for late 2021, 2022 and beyond.

Spirit Airlines announced Thursday it would start training new pilots and flight attendants as of next month, in preparation for a spike in leisure travel.

“Vaccine deployment, lowering total Covid case numbers should lead to more confidence from the traveling public and a loosening of restrictions,” CEO Ted Christie said.

A recent Tripadvisor survey found that 80 percent of U.S. consumers planned to take at least one overnight domestic leisure trip in 2021, with just over one-third of respondents planning at least three domestic trips this year. Popular destinations such as Orlando are already seeing a hopeful booking rebound.

“The region expects 2021 spring break travel to mirror the Christmas and New Year holidays, when occupancy reached 50 percent," said Daryl Cronk, senior director of market research for Visit Orlando. “This would be a significant improvement over last year’s 12 percent, one of the lowest points of the year.”

Tripadvisor’s survey also found a lot of interest in international travel planning. Nearly half (47%) of all respondents said they are planning to travel internationally in 2021.

“Already, the majority of hotel clicks for trips taking place from May onwards are to international destinations,” Tripadvisor noted. “This is an early signal that travelers are feeling increasingly confident they will be able to travel abroad in 2021, at least in the back half of the year.”

Italy, France, Japan, Australia and Greece are at the top of most travelers' lists, said Misty Belles, managing director at Virtuoso travel network, citing customer planning.

Travelers are also eyeing cruises, a good sign for the many cruise lines that had to abandon entire sailing seasons.

“We’re seeing growing confidence from cruisers as vaccines begin to be distributed,” Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief at Cruise Critic, told NBC News. “Both because they see it as a step in the right direction for the return of travel, and because they’ll feel most comfortable sailing knowing that they — and their fellow passengers — have been vaccinated.”

Rich and Suzi McClear of Sitka, Alaska, whose 2020 Holland America Line world cruise was cut short due to the pandemic, are anxious to go back to sea. “We’re rebooked for a 2022 world cruise. We’re also booked for the 2023 world cruise, which we view as an insurance policy in case the 2022 does not go,” they said in an email.

Most travel companies now have flexible and more generous booking and cancellation policies, and prices are historically low. So, it can be a good time to book future trips.

Airfares, for example, are 20 percent lower compared to last year, said Adit Damodaran, economist for travel app Hopper. "Domestic airfare prices are expected to rise in mid-to-late March and gradually return to 2019 levels over the course of the year. And it is not too early to book for 2022, especially if you're booking with trip protection or flexible booking options.”

Additional Info

  • Source NBC News

Fully vaccinated Globe Aware volunteers do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19, according to new guidance from the CDC. Currently, that means two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine as well as a two-week wait for their immunity to kick-in.


Fully Vaccinated Americans Won't Need to Quarantine After COVID-19 Exposure, CDC Says

Travel quarantine rules still apply regardless of whether a traveler has been vaccinated or not.

BY ALISON FOX
FEBRUARY 11, 2021

Fully vaccinated Americans do not need to quarantine if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new recommendation, released on Wednesday, exempts those who have received the full dose of one of the approved vaccines from having to self-isolate if they are exposed. Currently, that means two doses of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Moderna vaccine as well as a two-week wait for their immunity to kick-in.

Individuals must also remain asymptomatic since their exposure but should watch for symptoms for 14 days.

However, the CDC recommends Americans only take advantage of this guidance if they have received their vaccine within three months of being exposed because it remains unclear as to how long vaccine immunity lasts.

covid travel cdc

"Although the risk of [COVID-19] transmission from vaccinated persons to others is still uncertain, vaccination has been demonstrated to prevent symptomatic COVID-19," the agency wrote, noting "symptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission is thought to have a greater role in transmission" than asymptomatic cases.

"Additionally, individual and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine may outweigh the potential but unknown risk of transmission," the agency added.

Vaccinated international travelers are also not exempt from quarantine or the CDC's requirement to get tested before boarding a flight to the U.S. Vaccinated healthcare workers should also continue to quarantine, the agency advised.

 But just because vaccinated Americans don't have to quarantine, the vaccine doesn't exempt them from following health protocols like mask-wearing and social distancing.

"At this time, vaccinated persons should continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others, including wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, covering coughs and sneezes, washing hands often, following CDC travel guidance, and following any applicable workplace or school guidance, including guidance related to personal protective equipment use or [COVID-19] testing," the agency wrote.

The CDC also recommended double masking or opting for a tightly fitting mask on Wednesday, with findings showing that doing so can reduce the spread of COVID-19 by 95.6%.

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

A recent BOTT survey shows that 52 per cent millennials are eager to take an international holiday this summer as COVID-19 vaccine ushered in hope that the end to the pandemic is on the horizon. Locations such as Thailand are high on the list of preferred destinations as well, where Globe Aware runs two of our volunteer vacations.


 

52% millennials keen on international holiday this summer: Survey

Feb 06, 2021

Financial Express

Things are looking up for 2021, as 52 per cent millennials are eager to take an international holiday this summer as COVID-19 vaccine ushered in hope that the end to the pandemic is on the horizon, according to a survey by BOTT (Business of Travel Trade) Travel Sentiment Tracker.

With vaccination drive against COVID-19 gathering steam across the world and restrictions on movements easing gradually, many millennials are keen on taking an international holiday this summer, according to a survey.

Things are looking up for 2021, as 52 per cent millennials are eager to take an international holiday this summer as COVID-19 vaccine ushered in hope that the end to the pandemic is on the horizon, according to a survey by BOTT (Business of Travel Trade) Travel Sentiment Tracker.

The survey was done online with over 6,000 millennial travellers across the country during January 2021.

As per the survey, 75 per cent millennials would prefer to go to foreign destinations with fewer COVID-19 cases while 71 per cent would opt for destinations with defined protocols for the pandemic to avoid unnecessary hassles.

The industry finds survey findings encouraging for the travel industry. The findings, they believe, will generate more confidence in an industry, which is currently disappointed by being ignored in the Union Budget.

“However, inbound and outbound are two verticals of travel that go hand in hand. We hope the government will look into opening up borders in India soon, and so will other countries,” Travel Agents Association of India president and the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism and Hospitality vice chairperson Jyoti Mayal opined.

The survey also showed that 62 per cent millennials would prefer Thailand, followed by Singapore (58 per cent), UAE (52 per cent), Maldives (46 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (40 per cent) in the short-haul category of foreign destinations.

Malaysia and Indonesia are chosen by 39 per cent millennials each Sri Lanka (36 per cent), Bhutan (31 per cent), Turkey (28 per cent) and Seychelles (24 per cent) coming close among the top preferred short-haul foreign destinations, it noted.

In the long-haul category, the top-ranked international destinations include France (53 per cent), Germany (51 per cent), Australia (50 per cent), Switzerland (49 per cent), the USA (46 per cent), Britain (45 per cent), Canada (44 per cent), Japan (38 per cent).

The ongoing vaccine drive coupled with dropping COVID-19 cases in India has instilled confidence in the travellers, especially the millennials, according to Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) President Riaz Munshi.

“The road to complete recovery is long and tough but we are definitely seeing an uptick in trip-planning and requests right now for the holidays and into 2021, as well as far-flung international trips. Many of our members are planning trips for 2021 and 2022 because they know demand will be high in popular destinations eventually,” he added.

The survey showed that 40 per cent millennials are open to spend between Rs 2-5 lakh for their holidays while 35 per cent would spend between Rs 5-10 lakh.

Around 34 per cent millennials would like to book luxury hotels with limited inventory while 25 per cent each would go for boutique and budget properties, it said.

Travellers are still looking for places with fewer crowds, it added.

Additional Info

  • Source Financial Express

COVID-19 hasn’t made dating easy but virtual opportunities have arisen to help couples spend time together. Why not treat you and a loved one to a Globe Aware virtual experience, you can enjoy a romantic date by making cocktails live from South Africa, or even cooking Pad Thai together, live from Thailand!


Virtual date ideas for a COVID-19-safe Valentine’s Day

Virtual Date Night

BY SWETHAA SURESH
FEB 8, 2021

COVID-19 hasn’t made dating any easier. As people adjusted to a new lifestyle, relationships and in-person dates around the world have been put on pause. Though Valentine’s day will be different this year, many virtual opportunities have arisen to help couples spend time together. A perk of virtual dating is that it is designed to fit a college student’s budget and schedule, since they rarely involve additional costs or travel time.

Virtual tours (museum and world)

Confined to the indoors with limited options to hang out, many college students are missing out on the perks of being in New York City. If you’ve missed exploring the Museum Mile hand in hand with your loved one, some museums around the world have got you covered with their online, interactive exhibits. Here are some great ones to check out:

Google Arts & Culture allows you to explore artists, mediums, and art movements (including 360-degree videos that capture every angle). The Louvre is offering tours that show off its collections while preserving the architecture and views of the physical location. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has also gone virtual, allowing you and your partner to explore millions of specimens behind your computer screen. With the National Women’s History Museum’s online Women in NASA exhibit, you and your partner can discuss your views on anything from astronomy to history.

valentines day

If travel is more up you and your partner’s alleyway, some countries have turned their biggest attractions virtual:

If either of you loves history, visit the Palace of Versailles to explore a wealth of history, from how French royalty lived before the revolution to how the palace hosted the formal end of World War I. China’s terracotta warriors are an impressive sight even from across the world. Hike through Yellowstone without worrying about winter temperatures or injuring yourself in a hot spring.. While we may not be able to tour the International Space Station in-person regardless of the pandemic, put on 3D glasses while watching this video to feel like you’re really there. If you love Harry Potter, explore the Warner Bros. Studio in London with a quick stroll through Diagon Alley.

Building a virtual world together

There is nothing like working together with your partner to create something great. Some great platforms to build virtual worlds together include Stardew Valley, Minecraft and Animal Crossing. Each has its own perks, but can be boiled down to creating the perfect world, alone or with your partner.

Stardew Valley and Minecraft are both available on computers, mobile devices, and consoles including the Nintendo Switch. They both host servers where you can build a multiplayer world completely online with your partner. Animal Crossing is available on the Nintendo Switch, and allows other players to visit your island with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.

Teleparty and chill

Teleparty (once Netflix Party) has expanded to cater to Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and HBO. The free platform offers synchronized playback to anyone who joins the link, alongside a live chat. Unfortunately, in order to use Teleparty, all users must have subscribed to the platform in question.

For those without subscriptions, there are free synchronized streaming platforms, such as Squad. If you’re not sure which TV show or movie that both of you would enjoy, we recommend The Queen’s Gambit, Money Heist, The Witcher, Vagabond, and The Umbrella Academy.

Boardless game night

Playing games is a great way to learn about your partner. Life can be hectic as a college student, and game nights can help you take a break from the stress of upcoming midterms or approaching deadlines. Over quarantine, a graduate of Pomona College put together this list of games, which are categorized by genre and include the recommended number of players.

Make a meal together or order each other food

The way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. While you may not be able to cook together in-person, you can certainly cook together online, whether it’s by playing Cooking Mama or by video calling while making the same meal (or your own). If neither of you are particularly kitchen-savvy, you can simply order each other some delicious meals. Then, you can have your significant other try your favorite meals and restaurants while you try theirs, or try new food from cultures and restaurants that you normally might not have ordered from. Some great delivery sites include Postmates, Grubhub, Uber Eats, and DoorDash. If you live internationally, try foodpanda, or ask your partner what their preferred delivery method is. Once you both have your food, dig in together and chat as you would on a date!

If you don’t have a date for this Valentine’s Day, try some of these ideas with your friends (even if they’re on the other side of the globe) for Galentine’s Day!

Staff Writer Swethaa Suresh can be contacted at swethaa.suresh@columbiaspectator.com.
Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.
Follow Spectrum on Twitter @CUSpectrum.

Additional Info

  • Source Columbia Spectator

In an effort to limit the spread of new coronavirus variants, many countries are requiring incoming travelers to show a recent negative test. For our U.S. volunteers, Globe Aware recommends two types of tests. The first is a test that detects the genetic material of the virus or a rapid test that looks for viral proteins called antigens.


 

Which COVID-19 tests are required for international travel?

It depends on where you’re going.

In an effort to limit the spread of new coronavirus variants, many countries are requiring incoming travelers to show a recent negative test.

The U.S., for example, will accept results from either a test that detects the genetic material of the virus — considered the most sensitive type of test — or a rapid test that looks for viral proteins called antigens. The tests must have been taken no more than three days before departing for the U.S.

Health professionals usually give more sensitive lab tests via a nasal swab that take a day or more to yield results. Rapid tests have a turnaround time of about 15 to 30 minutes and are increasingly used to screen people at testing sites, offices, schools and nursing homes. For some rapid tests, users can swab themselves at home.

child covid mask

With either test, the U.S. requires electronic or printed proof of the negative result from a medical laboratory. That means that even if you plan to get the faster test you’ll likely need to see a health care provider who can provide documentation.

England has a similar setup, accepting results from both types of tests. But health authorities there are imposing extra requirements, including that the tests meet certain thresholds for accuracy. Travelers are told to check to make sure their test meets the standards.

After countries instituted varying requirements, officials in the European Union agreed to standardize requirements across the 27-nation bloc.

Additional Info

  • Source AP
Tuesday, 02 February 2021 16:14

Sustainable Travel 2021

National Geographic Traveler (UK) has included Costa Rica as part of its Best of the World 2021 list, which Globe certainly agrees. One of our most popular volunteer vocation locations, we offer three sustainable programs in this tropical paradise.


 

Best of the World: eight sustainable destinations for 2021 and beyond

From carbon-neutral cities in the making to destinations offering a blueprint for sustainable nature and wildlife tourism, these are the pick of the places that aim to safeguard our precious planet’s natural wonders.

BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S GLOBAL TRAVEL EDITORS
PUBLISHED 17 NOV 2020, 12:42 GMT

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1. Copenhagen, Denmark

Europe’s sustainable city pioneer

The widespread inequalities revealed by the pandemic have ignited global interest in making cities more resilient, equitable and healthy. One example, Copenhagen, is set to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.

“In Copenhagen we insist on green solutions because they pay off,” the city’s mayor, Frank Jensen, says in We Have the Power to Move the World, the sustainable transport guidebook for mayors produced by C40, a network of cities committed to addressing climate change.

Denmark’s capital has long targeted sustainability. The city has an efficient public transport network, and all its buses are switching from diesel to electric. CopenHill, a waste-to-energy power plant, meanwhile, produces clean energy for 60,000 families and heats 120,000 homes. In 2019, it opened outdoor play areas to the public. These included a rooftop green space and a climbing wall.

Planet-friendly urban planning — such as the cycle paths that over 60 percent of residents use every day — has resulted in Copenhagen having five times more bicycles than cars. A tour on an electric bike easily takes in the city’s most well-known places, from Nyhavn, a former industrial port now lined with restaurants and bars, to Rundetaarn, a 17th-century astronomical observatory housing exhibitions.

costa rica

2. Costa Rica

Celebrations for the pioneer of sustainable tourism

So, you want to escape? Imagine a country that’s one-quarter national park, a place where you could hike in a rainforest in the morning and surf tropical waves in the afternoon. Imagine an adventure Eden where sustainability was a strategy long before the world caught on, where jaguars prowl in the jungle, harpy eagles fly and Jesus Christ lizards walk on water before your eyes.

That country is Costa Rica. 2021 is the bicentennial of its independence, an anniversary it aims to celebrate by becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral country. Already one of the greenest nations, conservation has been cultivated here since the 1970s, with drives to protect areas, close zoos and reverse deforestation.

For a deep immersion, plot a course for the Osa Peninsula at the tip of Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast; an astonishing 2.5% of the Earth’s biodiversity is squeezed into 0.001% of its surface area. This was one of the last frontiers to be inhabited in Costa Rica, when the discovery of gold prompted a wave of migration in the 1930s. Today, the gold rush has gone, and much of the region is accessible only by boat, horse or hiking trail.

Some 80% of the peninsula is protected; much of it in Corcovado National Park, where visitors can follow guided trails with local groups like Caminos de Osa or Dos Brazos de Rio Tigre. Based out of luxury and backpacker jungle lodges around Drake Bay, activity options range from rainforest hikes to mangrove swamp tours, whale-watching, snorkelling or diving at Isla del Cano and surfing at Cabo Matapalo.

2020 will be remembered as a year with few upsides, but a desire to re-connect with nature and the great outdoors was certainly one. James Thornton of Intrepid Travel, itself a carbon-neutral travel company, says: “Time outdoors after a year of lockdowns and increased screen time will seem more important than ever”.

Costa Rica has been laying the green groundwork for decades. In 2021, its message could be perfectly tailor-made for post-pandemic trips.

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3. Helsinki, Finland

Sustainable travel, made easy

Sustainability isn’t just a buzz word in Helsinki. The Finnish capital has vowed to be carbon neutral by 2035 and it’s part of the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance. Helsinki’s bid to go green has also involved tourism, with a campaign by the city’s tourist board to ‘Think Sustainably’, which shows you how to put together the trip of a lifetime while going easy on the planet.

The Think Sustainably microsite on the tourist board’s website has all the information you need — not just pointing you in the direction of where and what is sustainable but explaining why. For example, the ‘what to do’ page carries an interview with a representative from the Amos Rex contemporary art gallery, talking about museum ventilation and renewable energy. Even the Löyly sauna — which has the potential to be the most wasteful of all attractions — has worked out an efficient wood-burning programme to heat the saunas.

As well as highlighting what to see and do, the microsite also shines a sustainable spotlight on places to eat, drink and shop. These include Juuri, a sustainability-focused restaurant which has been working with small, organic producers for 15 years, and sibling restaurant Pikha, which has upped its vegetarian and vegan options, in order to cut down on guests’ carbon footprint. There’s also an innovative burger bar, Bun2Bun, which has swapped beef for vegan ‘mince’, and uses biodegradable cutlery and wrappers.

Finland’s design scene is of course legendary, and the website has crafted a sustainability checklist, which allows customers to rent merchandise, among other things. But it’s a boon for shoppers, too, directing travellers to places such as Pure Waste, where clothes are made from 100% recycled material, and LUMI, which produces eco-friendly bags and accessories. To get that cosy Nordic feel, Lapuan Kankurit sells handwoven soft furnishings with colour-popping modern patterns. With your sustainable trip mapped out, you’ll feel better about making the journey.

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4. Denver, USA

A green giant in the American West

Despite financial challenges related to Covid-19, Denver is powering forward with its goal of achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2023. Among the latest forward-thinking initiatives are 125 miles of new bike lanes by 2023 and solar gardens to be ‘planted’ on municipal parking lots, rooftops and vacant land in 2021.

“Investments in Denver’s clean energy economy will strengthen our community and address multiple concerns, including our carbon footprint,” says Grace Rink, executive director of Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability and Resiliency. Along with producing clean energy for public buildings, vehicle charging stations, and nearby low-income neighbourhoods, the gardens will grow jobs and a paid training program during construction.

Connecting climate action and sustainability to economic prosperity and social justice has helped Denver earn the coveted LEED for Cities Platinum Certification. To encourage business owners to join the effort by putting eco-friendly solutions to work, Colorado’s capital offers free, customised sustainability plans through Certifiably Green Denver. Thanks to the program, nearly 2,000 Denver business owners are creating greener, more efficient operations that use less water and energy, and produce less air pollution and waste.

“We’re so fortunate to live in this beautiful place, and with that fortune comes the responsibility to protect it,” says Adam Schlegel, co-founder of Chook, a Certifiably Green restaurant that champions sustainable food practices.

5. New Caledonia

Where marine life thrives in the south Pacific

Humpback whales, green sea turtles and dugongs gather in the waters of New Caledonia. This French territory comprises a group of islands that bejewel the southwest Pacific Ocean, 900 miles off Australia’s east coast.

Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008, New Caledonia’s lagoons represent one of the world’s most extensive reef systems, with pristine waters and more than 9,000 marine species. In 2014, the government created the 500,000-square-mile Coral Sea Natural Park, which extends well beyond the UNESCO site. Christophe Chevillon, senior manager at the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy, says setting up the park was a “critical step for the conservation of New Caledonia’s waters, as well as the protection of the last virgin coral reefs in the world”.

Now, the territory has taken further steps to protect its marine sanctuary. Fishing, nautical sports and boats carrying more than 200 passengers are banned in large swathes, while in some areas all human activity except scientific research is off-limits. A coral farm will open on Lifou Island to restore reefs damaged by tourism.

Inland, the government is promoting ecotours and a new plastic law aiming to ban all disposable plastic products by 2022.

Alonissos Greece

6. Alonissos, Greece

Dive into the Parthenon of shipwrecks

Called ‘the Parthenon of shipwrecks’, the eerie remains of the ancient Peristera ship recently opened as the first underwater museum in Greece accessible to recreational divers. Located below the surface in the National Marine Park of Alonissos and Northern Sporades, the site is thought to hold cargo from a large Athenian barge that sank in the fifth century B.C. Limiting human activity in the 873-square-mile marine park — established in 1992, primarily to save the endangered Mediterranean monk seal — helped keep archaeological looters at bay, preserving the wreck site and its bounty of intact, two-handled wine jars.

To explore the submerged museum in person, you’ll need to be able to dive to depths of 80 feet or more on a guided tour (slated to resume in summer 2021). Or, visit the information centre on the small island of Alonissos and embark on a virtual reality tour of the wreck — no swimming required.

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7. Gabon

Africa’s ‘last Eden’

Gabon is a rare natural beauty. With 13 national parks encompassing 11% of its land, this is a place where elephants and hippos roam free; where dense inland forests, which make up 80% of its landmass, are home to critically endangered western lowland gorillas.

A remote central African spot, not all of Gabon’s national parks are readily accessible, but beach-blessed Loango is a boon for wildlife-lovers. Set on a lush river, just inland from Gabon’s Atlantic coastline, Loango Lodge offers electrifying encounters with a local population of western lowland gorillas. Closely regulated, just one group of four visitors per day is permitted to set out into the forest to try and find them; an exclusive, sustainable wildlife experience that’s hard to top.

In the north of the country, near the coastal capital of Libreville, Pongara is one of five national parks protecting important sea turtle habitats. Beachfront Pongara Lodge is the place for front-row views of critically endangered leatherbacks and migratory whales and dolphins. Global investment in the country’s transportation networks should soon make Gabon easier to reach; a sustainable development strategy that also promises to expand eco-tourism — helping ensure the country’s wildest places stay wild.

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8. Freiburg, Germany

Schooling the world on green practices

One of early medieval Germany’s five great Stamm (tribal) duchies, the historic region of Swabia spans parts of southwestern Germany, eastern Switzerland and northeastern France. Swabians have a reputation for being resourceful, thrifty and inventive; no wonder, then, that residents of the region’s vibrant university city, Freiburg, readily embrace sustainable living.

The gateway to the Black Forest, Freiburg is remarkably green, both in appearance and in action. Woodland covers more than 40 percent of the urban area. Renewables, such as solar, biomass, wind and hydroelectricity power the city, which converts its trash into biomass energy. Walking, biking, e-buses and trams are the main modes of transport, boosting chances Freiburg will meet its goals of cutting CO2 emissions in half or more by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Cooperative housing with solar panels, urban gardens and incentives for living car-free are integral to Freiburg’s Vauban district, built on a reclaimed brownfield site and acknowledged as one of the world’s most sustainable city quarters. Quartier Vauban, meanwhile, has grown into Freiburg’s most densely populated district, proving that if cities build sustainably, people will come.

Additional Info

  • Source National Geographic

Trying to keep out COVID, tiny Bhutan relies on its Gross National Happiness index, and hopes tourists will return

By Natalie Jesionka
Sat., Jan. 23, 2021

Travelling through the beautiful mountainous Kingdom of Bhutan with its cloud-covered forests sounds idyllic in a pandemic lockdown — a dream being marketed by the tiny landlocked nation whose vital tourism business has been crushed by COVID.

With a population of 750,000, the eastern Himalayan kingdom has reported just 850 COVID-19 cases and one death from the virus in early January, and is negotiating the purchase of a million vaccines from India. But there are challenges ahead as the nation begins to consider easing its lockdown restrictions in a bid to reopen.

The country is banking on its remote location, COVID response strategy and its unique Gross National Happiness index (GNH) to help guide restoration of its biggest source of employment.

bhutan covid

Online, there are rumblings on social media and comments on articles in local newspapers questioning the lockdown, and expressing worries over lost livelihoods should the lockdown be extended.

And according to Bhutan’s national newspaper, the Kunsel, there is concern about evictions and rent increases, and retail businesses are struggling to make sales with few customers. Bhutan’s economy has contracted 6.8 per cent since the start of the pandemic.

But while the economy is an important metric, the country’s Gross National Happiness index, which measures equitable socio-economic development, environmental conservation, preservation of culture, and good governance, is equally important.

“The use of the phrase ‘happiness’ is a little bit unfortunate — they aren’t speaking of happiness in the Western sense, it’s very much rooted in the Buddhist understanding of deep-seated contentment,” said Kent Schroeder, an expert on GNH and executive director of the Toronto-based Bhutan Canada Foundation.

“Some people dismiss GNH, thinking the Bhutanese aren’t all that happy, but GNH puts the enabling conditions in place for people to choose happy lives. You want to create a society that has health care, education and employment.”

Things are not so happy these days for Sangay Wangchuk, owner of Dhumra Farm Resort, a luxury agricultural farm hotel with spectacular views of the mountains of Phunaka, in western Bhutan. Business was strong until the end of last February, and in March the resort shut down completely during Bhutan’s first lockdown.

“In 2019, we had 1,500 tourists come to the resort, but in 2020 we didn’t even get to 100 people,” said Wangchuk, who has been able to avoid layoffs because of the working farm on the property, and a small grant from the royal COVID relief fund. His staff are cultivating new crops such as bananas and using the time to make repairs around the property, waiting and hoping that tourism will return.

Since March, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has implemented a COVID strategy that uses the complex metrics of GNH index including psychological well-being, time use, community vitality, good governance and living standards while working to mitigate spread of the virus by closing borders, waiving loan interest and tapping into his relief fund built up over years from a special tourism levy, to provide a basic income for Bhutan’s 150,000 jobless workers.

The king also rented apartments for the diaspora community affected by COVID in New York City, and ordered the government airline DrukAir to fly to different countries to pick up Bhutanese living abroad and bring them home.

Some of those who tested positive for the virus received phone calls and visits from the king, who is known for travelling the country on foot to meet his subjects.

Officials had hoped tourism could restart in March, but Bhutan’s director general of tourism, Dasho Dorji Dhradhul, now says reopening will be reliant on whether neighbouring countries can gain control over the pandemic. The tourism council has been supporting out-of-work guides with jobs in infrastructure construction projects and giving them language lessons.

Much of this support comes from a daily $315 tariff that tourists must pay. It includes housing and guides, but $80 is also put toward a sustainable development fund that is usually used to support free health care and education.

Bhutan is well prepared for tourism to resume, says Dhradhul.

“There will be a so-called new normal post-COVID for many destinations,” he says. “But it won’t be new to Bhutan. We have been practising this for the last 50 years. High value, low volume.” Dhradhul expects to see a shift in global tourism with individual travel, less crowding, and avoidance of over-tourism as priorities.

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Stephen Couchman is a Canadian who left Clarksburg, Ont., for Bhutan in October 2019, to work as a project director building the Trans-Bhutan trail, a 16th-century path running 430 kilometres from Haa to Trashigang. In a month-long hike on the trail, trekkers can discover red pandas, black neck cranes and snow leopards in a rhododendron forest.

“Bhutan is putting up a strong defence partially because they don’t have the desire or capacity to fight COVID-19 head-on medically,” Couchman says. “The crisis has been a reminder of the country’s need for independence from India and others for food, fuel and labour, and of their reliance on tourism, which will impact the economy for many years to come.”

Couchman points to Desupps, a mandatory national service organization, also known as the Bhutanese guardians of peace, as an example of the Bhutanese commitment to co-operation. Desupps, who serve for one year, are highly honoured, and are trained in preparedness for national calamities. They fight fires, serve as a border patrol, and now they are handing out masks, and staffing COVID response centres.

“There is no question as to what needs to be done and that community takes precedence over individual freedoms. From an outsider’s perspective, the intentionality and co-ordination here represents humanity at its best,” said Couchman.

The trail is part of the king’s vision for a symbol of national unity, and part of the infrastructure building pandemic response plan for jobless guides.

Matt DeSantis is the founder of MyBhutan, a tour operator that connects travellers and schools with authentic local experiences in Bhutan. Ten years ago, DeSantis left Connecticut for Bhutan for a month-long trip. He now largely lives there full time.

“Life is very comfortable in Bhutan,” he says. “It is a very safe and peaceful community surrounded by undisturbed nature. The two coexist with each other.”

DeSantis says he has helped reshape travel in Bhutan by making the experience more seamless, so travellers would not have to use bank transfers and instead, could send payments directly to Bhutanese tour operators.

Tours are already booking as early as April, DeSantis says, and certainly in September. But he’s quick to add that the reopening is in flux.

Desantis is working with the voluntourism organization Globe Aware and he plans to bring 150 volunteers in from Canada and the U.S. in the fall to help build a community centre just outside the capital, Thimphu.

“Even with Bhutanese becoming more exposed to outside cultures,” says Desantis “their roots remain true to this concept of finding well-being via natural, responsible and sustainable practices.”

Natalie Jesionka is fellow in global journalism at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto

Additional Info

  • Source The Star
Saturday, 16 January 2021 14:23

US Covid-19 test requirement for travelers

Last week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that all air passengers ages two and older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter the United States. Globe Aware is ensuring you can be tested safely at your volunteer vacation location before traveling back home.


The new US Covid-19 test requirement for travelers: What you need to know

Shivani Vora
CNN
January 16, 2021

(CNN) — Earlier this week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that, as of Tuesday, January 26, all air passengers ages two and older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to enter the United States.

The new rule includes US citizens and legal permanent residents.

Following the travel news, panic and confusion ensued, according to Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and founder of Atmosphere Research Group.

covid 19 traveller tests

"The order created a lot of anxiety, partly because the timeline from the announcement to when it goes into effect is so short and partly because it was unclear exactly what it meant," he says.

Both US residents who are currently abroad or had plans to go abroad and return January 26 or later as well as international travelers who are scheduled to fly to the United States have numerous questions about what they need to do to ensure their entry into the country, says Harteveldt.

In addition, some resorts and local governments are scrambling to get prepared to offer testing to US-bound fliers.

Questions -- from what kind of negative Covid-19 test you need to the documentation you're required to show when you're at the airport, and to whom -- are addressed below:

US testing questions answered

What kind of Covid-19 test is considered acceptable for travelers?

Travelers bound for the United State on international flights must have a viral test, according to the CDC. PCR and antigen tests both qualify.

How far in advance can I get tested before entering the country?

The test time frame is no more than three days before your flight.

CDC spokesperson Caitlin Shockey says that if you are flying on a connecting flight into the US, a valid test is one that is taken no more than three days before your flight departs to the United States but only if the entire trip was booked under a single passenger record.

Also, each layover between those connections can't be longer than 24 hours.

If your connecting flight to the US was booked separately or you have a longer connection, you need to get tested within the three days before your final flight departs for the US.

If you are flying out of the country for less than three days, you can take a test in the US before you depart and use it for your return or take a rapid test before your return flight.

If your flight is delayed past the three-day window, you must take another test to board your flight.

What happens if I'm traveling internationally now and come back after January 26?

It doesn't matter when you left, according to Shockey: If you are returning to the US on or after January 26, you will have to be tested and show proof of being Covid-19 negative before being allowed to board.

I'm visiting a US territory, do I need to get tested?

No. US territories and possessions of the US are exempt, according to the CDC.

If I'm a US resident and have to pay for a test while I'm abroad, will my health insurance cover it?

It depends on your insurance plan, says Zach Honig, the editor at large of the travel site The Points Guy.

But Honig says that you should definitely file for reimbursement. "It never hurts to ask," he says.

Who is checking test results at the airport?

It depends on the destination, but you'll likely be asked for documentation of a negative test result from the first airline employee you have contact with when you're at the airport, says Harteveldt.

That could be at the ticket counter if you're checking in bags or with the gate agent if you have no checked bags.

Airlines must confirm the negative test result for all passengers before boarding and must deny boarding to anyone who doesn't provide documentation of a negative test or documentation of having recovered from Covid-19, according to the CDC.

Honig says that the new mandate may mean that you won't be able to check in online for your flight to the US. "You'll have to check in at the airport, so be sure to arrive in advance to give yourself enough time to do so," he says.

I'm flying to the US by private plane. Does this new requirement apply to me?

Yes, the order applies to commercial and private flights, according to the CDC.

What kind of documentation do I need to show?

The CDC is requiring fliers to have a paper or electronic copy of their negative test results.

Harteveldt highly recommends that travelers have a hard copy of their negative test results as opposed to having them only on their phones.

"It may be difficult for an agent to read the document on your phone, and you don't want to give them an excuse not to board you," he says.

I already had Covid-19. What kind of documentation do I need?

If you've recovered from Covid-19 within the past three months, you will need both proof that you tested positive in the past three months before your flight and a letter from your doctor stating that you're cleared for travel.

If you recovered from the virus more than three months ago, the CDC's Shockey says that you will need to retest and show proof of negative results before being allowed to board your plane.

People who have been vaccinated are still required to have a Covid-19 test before entering the US.

People who have been vaccinated are still required to have a Covid-19 test before entering the US.

I've gotten the Covid-19 vaccine. Do I still need to test?

Yes, the same requirements apply.

How do I find a local testing site while I'm abroad?

It will vary by country, but Honig strongly recommends making sure that you'll be able to get a test at your destination before you leave the US. "It can be challenging in some places to get tested, so it's important to get confirmation of a place before your trip," he says.

You can find a testing location by asking your hotel in advance of your trip or checking the destination's official tourism site.

In addition, in the past week, a growing number of hotels, especially in destinations that are popular with American travelers, have started to offer on-site testing.

In St. Lucia, for example, more than 20 properties and villas will offer free rapid testing.

Baha Mar in the Bahamas has rapid tests for $25 and PCR tests for $125. At La Colección Resorts throughout the Dominican Republic and Mexico, rapid testing is free. And at Curtain Bluff in Antigua, testing is $250 a person for either PCR or rapid test results.

The return time for test results varies by property.

Are airlines allowing passengers to change their flights so that they can arrive in the US before the testing requirements take effect?

Some are allowing free changes including waiving the difference in fare.

Delta, for example, is waiving the fare difference through February 9 for customers who were booked to travel internationally to the US through February 9, if they rebook their trip to begin on or before January 25.

American Airlines and United Airlines are also waiving the fare difference for customers because of the new requirements.

With American, customers who have flights scheduled from January 12 to February 9 can rebook for no charge if they're departing from and arriving into the destinations on their original ticket. However, their trips must start on or before January 25.

With United, the fare difference will be waived for fliers rebooking international tickets purchased on or before January 12 for scheduled travel to the US through February 15.

My test result came back positive. Now what?

Shockey says that you should self-isolate and delay travel if symptoms develop or a predeparture test result is positive until you recover from Covid-19.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

Dallas Tickle Bar Creates Sensation

By Eric Griffey Dallas
Jan. 09, 2021

DALLAS — There is nothing lewd about the Tickle Bar. The website and Facebook page of the new Mockingbird-area business make it clear that illicit activities are strictly forbidden here. Yes, the half-naked woman splayed on a bed whose image is prominently featured on the place’s website appears to be in mid-moan, but that’s strategic, according to owner Kimberly Haley-Coleman.

What You Need To Know

The Tickle Bar offers experiences, like tracing and scratching, designed to produce endorphines

The business does not offer massage or traditional spa treatments

tickle mockup5The Bar's owner, Kimberly Haley-Coleman, founded the business when the pandemic slowedher nonprofit, Globe Aware

New business offers services that benefit children on the autism spectrum

“I knew we weren't going to spend millions of dollars advertising,” she said. “So, if I did this with a bit of a wink, we would be able to get more attention. If I’d called this a ‘back-scratch store,’ I wouldn't have had as much attention, and we needed that.”

The Tickle Bar is a Mecca for sensory indulgence. The “bar” offers services that include scratching, skin tracing, and other light-touch-induced modes of serotonin-drenched euphoria — all while enjoying a sweet treat or a glass of wine. What you won’t find at The Tickle Bar is a massage package. Haley-Coleman said her model was the Drybar, which focuses only on blow-drying hair with no cutting, coloring, or any other services normally offered by salons.

“There's a sense of luxury to your surroundings,” she said. “So the idea is that you're getting kind of a feast for all the senses, not just for your skin, but you're getting a little cookie and a little wine, you've got all these soft gauzy textures, quiet music, and people are whispering.”

Her business is one of a growing number of pandemic pivots. While many small businesses around the country have been crushed by the COVID-19 shutdowns and other restrictions, there has also been a surge in new businesses this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By the week ending Dec. 5, the bureau reported, business applications were up 43.3% over the same period in 2019.

This uptick, however, is offset by the fact that about 28.8% of small businesses were closed for good as of mid-November, compared with the start of the year, based on data tracked by Opportunity Insights, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit research organization based at Harvard University.

For her day job over the last 20 years, Haley-Coleman has served as executive director of Globe Aware, a Dallas-based nonprofit that offers people “volunteer vacations,” combining wanderlust and altruism.

When COVID-19 strangled the U.S. economy and ground travel to a halt back in March, Globe Aware limped along, hosting online events and virtual fundraising. Haley-Coleman brainstormed ideas for ways to bring in money — a business that could support her and donate its profits to the nonprofit she founded.

She said she asked herself a series of questions that led to the creation of The Tickle Bar: “What do people want? What are they hungry for? What did they not have right now? And what do I want? what do I miss?”

“Frankly, if I had all the money in the world, I'd rather get my back tickled than a massage,” she added. “I just started thinking, ‘You know what? That is so crazy that I think I'm going to do it. And if I'm ever going to do it, now's the time.’ ”

The reaction to her business has been mixed, she said. Some people find the idea of a tickle bar brilliant, while others just don’t understand the concept.

“It tends to evoke a very hot or cold response,” she said.

Though the name might conjure certain salacious or just plain silly imagery for some, the work of The Tickle Bar is backed by science.

Some of the techniques employed by Haley-Coleman’s staff have proven beneficial and calming for people on the autism spectrum, for example. Still, that hasn’t stopped the imaginations of faceless internet trolls from weighing in.

“I get that there might be a sense of humor around anything that has the word tickle in it,” Haley-Coleman said. “There seems to be 20 or 30% of the population that can't get past the giggling nature of it, despite the fact that there is a very serious [health benefit] to sense of touch, whether it's massage, kids on the spectrum, or even people enjoying getting their scalps scrubbed from getting shampooed.

“That sense of touch, to me, has nothing to do with giggling or anything inappropriate,” she continued. “But for a certain segment, it's hard for them to get past that for whatever reason.”

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Coronavirus vaccines are starting to roll out in the US and abroad, and many people may be dreaming of travel, but they may eventually need a vaccine passport application. Globe Aware is keeping an eye on this passport app being a requirement for future volunteer vacations.


New apps make COVID-19 vaccine passports possible for travel

By Rishi Iyengar
CNN Business
Monday, December 28, 2020

Now that coronavirus vaccines are being administered across the U.S. and around the world, several companies are developing a so-called 'vaccine passport.'

Now that coronavirus vaccines are starting to roll out in the US and abroad, many people may be dreaming of the day when they can travel, shop and go to the movies again. But in order to do those activities, you may eventually need something in addition to the vaccine: a vaccine passport application.

Several companies and technology groups have begun developing smartphone apps or systems for individuals to upload details of their COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, creating digital credentials that could be shown in order to enter concert venues, stadiums, movie theaters, offices, or even countries.

covid travel

The Common Trust Network, an initiative by Geneva-based nonprofit The Commons Project and the World Economic Forum, has partnered with several airlines including Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, as well as hundreds of health systems across the United States and the government of Aruba.

The CommonPass app created by the group allows users to upload medical data such as a COVID-19 test result or, eventually, a proof of vaccination by a hospital or medical professional, generating a health certificate or pass in the form of a QR code that can be shown to authorities without revealing sensitive information. For travel, the app lists health pass requirements at the points of departure and arrival based on your itinerary.

"You can be tested every time you cross a border. You cannot be vaccinated every time you cross a border," Thomas Crampton, chief marketing and communications officer for The Commons Project, told CNN Business. He stressed the need for a simple and easily transferable set of credentials, or a "digital yellow card," referring to the paper document generally issued as proof of vaccination.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.S. is at a critical phase of the pandemic, with the worst probably still ahead.

Large tech firms are also getting in on the act. IBM developed its own app, called Digital Health Pass, which allows companies and venues to customize indicators they would require for entry including coronavirus tests, temperature checks and vaccination records. Credentials corresponding to those indicators are then stored in a mobile wallet.

In an effort to address one challenge around returning to normalcy after vaccines are distributed widely, developers may now have to confront other challenges, ranging from privacy issues to representing the varied effectiveness of different vaccines. But the most pressing challenge may simply be avoiding the disjointed implementation and mixed success of tech's previous attempt to address the public health crisis: contact tracing apps.

Early on in the pandemic, Apple and Google set aside their smartphone rivalry to jointly develop a Bluetooth-based system to notify users if they'd been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Many countries and state governments around the world also developed and used their own apps.

"I think where exposure notification ran into some challenges was more of the piecemeal implementation choices, lack of federal leadership ... where each state had to go it alone and so each state had to figure it out independently," said Jenny Wanger, who leads the exposure notification initiatives for Linux Foundation Public Health, a tech-focused organization helping public health authorities around the world combat COVID-19.

To encourage better coordination this time, The Linux Foundation has partnered with the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative, a collective of more than 300 people representing dozens of organizations across five continents and is also working with IBM and CommonPass to help develop a set of universal standards for vaccine credential apps.

"If we're successful, you should be able to say: I've got a vaccine certificate on my phone that I got when I was vaccinated in one country, with a whole set of its own kind of health management practices... that I use to get on a plane to an entirely different country and then I presented in that new country a vaccination credential so I could go to that concert that was happening indoors for which attendance was limited to those who have demonstrated that they've had the vaccine," said Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Linux Foundation.

"It should be interoperable in the same way that email is interoperable, the same way that the web is interoperable," he said. "Right now, we're in a situation where there's some moving parts that get us closer to that, but I think there's a sincere commitment from everybody in the industry."

Part of ensuring wide usage for vaccine passports is accounting for the large subset of the global population that still doesn't use or have access to smartphones. A few companies within the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative are also developing a smart card that strikes a middle ground between the traditional paper vaccine certificates and an online version that's easier to store and reproduce.

"For us it's [about] how that digital credential can be stored, can be presented, not only through smartphones but also in other ways for those people who don't have access to stable internet and also who don't own smartphones," said Lucy Yang, co-lead of the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative. "We're looking into it, and there are companies who are doing really promising work.

Once they build a vaccine passport, companies will need to make sure people are comfortable using it. That means confronting concerns about the handling of private medical information.

CommonPass, IBM and the Linux Foundation have all stressed privacy as central to their initiatives. IBM says it allows users to control and consent to the use of their health data and allows them to choose the level of detail they want to provide to authorities.

"Trust and transparency remain paramount when developing a platform like a digital health passport, or any solution that handles sensitive personal information," the company said in a blog post. "Putting privacy first is an important priority for managing and analyzing data in response to these complex times."

With vaccines manufactured by multiple companies across several countries in varying stages of development, there are a lot of variables that passport makers will need to account for.

"A point of entry - whether that's a border, whether that's a venue - is going to want to know, did you get the Pfizer vaccine, did you get the Russian vaccine, did you get the Chinese vaccine, so they can make a decision accordingly," said Crampton. The variance can be wide: the vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm, for example, has an efficacy of 86% against COVID-19, while the vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna each have an efficacy of around 95%.

It's also unclear how effective the vaccines are in stopping the transmission of the virus, says Dr. Julie Parsonnet, an infectious disease specialist at Stanford University. So while a vaccine passport app will show that you've received the shot, it may not be a guarantee that you safely attend an event or get on a flight.

"We still don't know if vaccinated people can transmit infection or not," she told CNN Business. "Until that is clarified, we won't know whether 'passports' will be effective."

Still, Behlendorf anticipates that the rollout and adoption of vaccine passports will happen rather quickly once everything falls into place and expects a variety of apps that can work with each other to be "widely available" within the first half of 2021.

"Rest assured, the nerds are on it," he said.

The-CNN-Wire ™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Tuesday, 08 December 2020 15:11

Travel Tips for the 2020 Holiday Season

The TSA released a list of winter travel tips, helping Americans navigate traveling during this holiday season. Globe Aware wants to make sure our volunteers are up to date and safe when it comes to any winter travel.


 

5 Tips From the TSA to Make Traveling During the 2020 Holiday Season a Little Easier

Leave your wrapping paper behind.

BY ALISON FOX
DECEMBER 08, 2020

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) released a list of winter travel tips on Monday, helping Americans navigate flying during the COVID-19 pandemic, just in time for a potential holiday rush.

With advice from mask-wearing and reducing contact, to more familiar tips surrounding how to wrap gifts for loved ones, the agency focused on how to expedite the security process. The tips come as the agency screened a record more than 3 million passengers at airports around Thanksgiving, despite experts saying people shouldn’t travel.

And of course, the tips will help travelers “ensure that you avoid Santa’s ‘Naughty’ list when you get to a [TSA] security checkpoint at the airport," the advice read.

“TSA is well aware that many people haven’t traveled in several months, here is what you need to do now to be prepared this holiday season — whether you’re traveling for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or to celebrate the New Year,” the agency added.

These are the TSA’s tips for flying during the holidays this year.

air travel

Tip 1: Don’t wait: download the free myTSA app

The agency suggested people download its app before heading to the airport to clear up any confusion about what they can and can’t bring, as well as get information on flight delays and where to find TSA PreCheck lanes. For any last-minute questions, the TSA recommends checking out their Twitter page.

Tip 2: Enroll in TSA PreCheck now

The agency said its PreCheck program will expedite travelers through security and create fewer touchpoints as participants do not have to remove their shoes, belts, and some jackets, and don’t have to take their liquids or electronics out of their bags.

Tip 3: Pack those gifts, but don't use wrapping paper

While most winter travel tips concerning how to protect travelers and others from the coronavirus, the agency also reminded fliers in time for the holidays thatt they should leave the wrapping paper behind. Instead, the TSA recommended people choose a gift bag or even a festive bow.

“Because if a wrapped gift triggers an alarm, it will need to be unwrapped to determine whether the contents of the wrapped item present a security threat,” the agency wrote. “TSA’s officer-elves don’t want to take on the role of Scrooge and unwrap someone else’s gift. However, they will have to if the item triggers a security alarm.”

Tip 4: Please don’t forget your mask

Along with other things that have changed since COVID-19 starting sweeping across the country, masks are required in airports and on airplanes. Passengers will be asked to remove it quickly so an officer can verify their identity and can expect to social distance while in line.

The agency has installed acrylic barriers and officers may be wearing eye protection or a face shield in addition to a mask and gloves, the agency noted.

Tip 5: Pack the essentials

In addition to masks, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer have also become must-have items for flying. In fact, travelers are allowed to bring up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer, which they have to remove from their luggage during the screening (all other liquids are still limited to 3.4 ounces).

Beyond cleaning supplies, the TSA said passengers should bring their photo ID’s (even if they expired on or after March 1 and they haven’t been able to renew it), as well as some extra masks, just in case.

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
Friday, 11 December 2020 14:33

Optimistic about travel in 2021

According to research, the pandemic has driven a large shift in traveler preferences, and understanding these changes is critical to tourism recovery efforts. Globe Aware is ready to meet the pent-up demand of volunteers, especially since one in two travelers are optimistic about taking a trip next year.


 

An Optimistic Sign for Travel in 2021

FEATURES & ADVICE
JANEEN CHRISTOFF
DECEMBER 11, 2020

Americans have hope for travel in 2021.

One in two travelers is optimistic about taking a trip in the next 12 months, according to research from Expedia.

More than half (53 percent) of Americans who usually take a vacation have not done so since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, nearly 31 percent are dreaming of travel and actively planning for 2021.

“As the world keeps a watchful eye on vaccine news, and people continue to crave a change of scenery or opportunity to catch up with loved ones, we know the pent-up demand for travel will grow,” said Monya Mandich, vice president of global marketing, Expedia Group Media Solutions. “COVID-19 has driven a seismic shift in traveler preferences and influences, and understanding these changes is critical to recovery efforts and future marketing strategies. The new research provides insights into the steps travel brands can take to reassure and connect with travelers as they begin researching, planning and booking again.”

When they do travel again, Americans are looking to safety regulations that will make them feel more comfortable. Seventy-five percent of travelers said measures such as mask enforcement, contactless services and flexibility, including easy refunds or cancellation policies, will inform their decisions on where they stay, Expedia’s research showed.

Findings from Expedia’s Traveler Sentiment and Influences survey also found that just one-third of travelers took a trip during the pandemic. Of those who chose to travel, 80 percent did so for rejuvenation—to enjoy a change of scenery, different weather or to see family or friends.

Globally, Gen-Z and Millennial travelers are one-and-a-half times more likely than other generations to take a leisure trip in January to March 2021, and travelers are more likely to take trips between April and September 2021.

A vaccine will definitely get people on the move again. Fifty-seven percent of travelers said they would be comfortable traveling if a vaccine was widely available.

Six in 10 travelers said that they would be most comfortable traveling if social distancing measures were in place when it came to air travel. Overall, travelers are looking for safety measures such as mask-wearing to be enforced.

When it comes to lodging, more than half of travelers want to know that proper COVID-19 hygiene protocols are in place. Other considerations such as contactless room service and takeout (24 percent) and contactless check-in options (23 percent) will also inform decisions.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse
Monday, 07 December 2020 13:03

Sustainable Tourism after COVID-19

Two experts recently analyzed the effects of the pandemic on travel behavior and found out that people are likely to skip major cities and vacation for longer going forward. Post-quarantine and -lockdown, travelers seem more concerned about sustainability and the need to support local businesses, something Globe Aware programs specialize in!


 Future Travel and Sustainable Tourism after COVID-19: STUDY by Tea Ceremony Kyoto Maikoya

December 7, 2020

KYOTO, Japan, Dec. 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Kimono Tea Ceremony Maikoya and Samurai & Ninja Museum, two key experience providers from Japan, recently studied and analyzed the effects of the pandemic on travel behavior in depth and found out that people are likely to skip major cities and vacation for longer going forward. Post-quarantine and -lockdown, travelers generally seem more concerned about sustainability and the need to support local businesses. However, the only lasting changes may come with extra safety precautions and sustainable travel choices, with other aspects reverting more or less back to normal.

For example, most travelers think virtual tours and online experiences are no substitutes for real-life activities. Most also have no intention of giving up on shared group activities or museums and prefer traditional accommodation options to AirBnB. Little change is apparent, other than increased demand for premium and safe travel experiences and the potential positive impact of working from home on the intentions to travel abroad.

photographer 407068 1920 1

Background

Recently, there have been news stories in the mainstream media that travel after the Coronavirus pandemic would change the behavior of tourists fundamentally. Many stories mentioned how people would avoid indoor places and favor home rentals over hotels . The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) declared that the future of tourism still has many uncertainties after recording a 60~80% decline in 2020.

In response to this new environment and to understand travelers' priorities, Tea Ceremony Maikoya and Samurai & Ninja Museum conducted a survey asking international travelers about their future plans and also checked whether the survey findings matched recent Google search trends, a practice common in tourism research.

Survey Findings

 Table I: Behavioral intentions of Future International Travelers

 Q: If you travel internationally, would you do the following more often or less often? (After the borders are open and it is safe to travel again)  More often Same as before  Less often 
 Visiting small towns instead of big historic cities  62% 35%  3% 
 Staying at an AirBnB or Vrbo  22% 58%  20% 
 Visiting famous museums  22% 64%  14% 
 Joining a food tasting tour  53%  37%  10% 
 Taking long trips (e.g. multiple weeks or longer)  54% 39%  7% 
 Traveling in general (Will you travel more or less?)  52% 41%  7% 
IMPORTANT NOTE!!! These findings were further compared to and confirmed with Google search trends; please read below and check Appendix I~IV for detailed information.

1. People will try to visit small towns more (but first-timers may not)

By now it is clear that people are likely to avoid major crowded cities and explore remote towns with secluded areas after the pandemic. This finding was clear in answers to both our open-ended and closed-ended survey questions. However, this finding did not apply when we compared monthly travel-related search queries on Google for small towns and big cities from 2019 and 2020. We expected that the decline for travel-related search queries would be low for small towns and huge for major cities but the level of decline was almost the same. We think this may be attributable to the fact that most first-time travelers still want to see famous landmarks and check out things to do in big cities where major airports are located.

2. Less frequent but longer trips

More than half our survey respondents indicated that their future travels would be longer as can be seen in Table I. We also confirmed this finding with our Google search query comparisons. We were surprised to find out that the decline for "1-month Japan itinerary" search queries in 2020 was far smaller than the query for "1-week Japan itinerary." The same pattern existed for search queries of "1-week Europe itinerary" and "1-month Europe itinerary."

3. Travelers will still visit indoor museums and join group activities

As Table I shows, most of the travelers intended to visit (indoor) museums and join food tours which involve interacting with a group of strangers. To our great surprise, almost a quarter of the respondents wanted to visit museums more than before. Moreover, most travelers indicated a greater willingness to participate in food tasting tours after the pandemic. This finding tallied with Google search frequencies: the decline in queries for local museums and food tours was lower than for generic travel queries. Apparently, people's interest in food and culture has intensified while being stuck at home for an extended period during the pandemic.

4. Travelers will not necessarily choose AirBnB and home rentals over hotels

Our survey showed that travelers' intentions to choose AirBnB over hotels slightly changed after the pandemic (Table I), but that this change was not necessarily positive. While about a quarter of respondents intended to choose AirBnB over hotels, about the same percentage indicated that they were less willing to consider AirBnB. When we compared the frequencies of Google search queries for AirBnB and hotels in major cities in 2019 and 2020, we found that AirBnB was actually getting less popular than hotels. The decline for AirBnB queries on Google was significantly higher compared to searches for hotels. While this may have to do with mistrust of third-party hosts' sanitation practices, it may also have to do with new post-Corona regulations or AirBnB's marketing practices or the safety perceptions of upscale hotels.

5. Sustainability and supporting local businesses will be trendier

We asked an open-ended question to all participants about how they thought their travel behavior would differ in future. About half stated that provided the pandemic ended, their approach to travel would remain unchanged. Numerous travelers reaffirmed how they would still care about hygiene, sanitation and safety even after the pandemic. About one fifth of respondents mentioned the importance of taking fewer but longer trips and supporting local experience providers and local businesses. The fact that these were spontaneous answers reflect a steady shift towards sustainability. The sample unprompted open-ended sample responses are provided in Appendix III.

6. Wealthy people will be first to travel abroad

We did not ask the survey respondents when they were planning to travel as international travel depends on whether the borders are open and the kind of governmental policies applied in each country. However, when we analyzed Google Search queries for various hotels, we noticed that luxury hotels were impacted less than all the other types in general. It was interesting to see that the number of queries for "budget Tokyo hotels" dropped almost twice more than the queries for "5-star hotels in Tokyo."

7. Working from home means slightly more opportunities to take vacations

Another pattern that emerged from our data was that those who worked from home plan to travel more in future (Appendix II). As remote working gives people more opportunities to travel, those working from home tend to prefer more trips that are longer. At the same time, 43% of office workers thought they would be taking more trips than they used to after the pandemic ends. A side note that should be mentioned here is the difference between remote workers and office workers when it comes to intentions to travel was only 10%. While working from home means people can go on "workations" anytime they want, it also means that people may take fewer family holidays as now they have more time to spend with their families.

8. Virtual tours and online experiences will be for special occasions only

We asked the respondents whether they would be interested in online cultural experiences and virtual walking tours for approximately half the price of what it would cost for an in-person equivalent. Most respondents said they would not be interested in virtual experiences because it would not be the same as the real thing, unless it was a cooking class where they could get the ingredients beforehand. Meanwhile, over the past half year, Maikoya Tea Ceremony, Geisha Maikoya and Samurai & Ninja Museum have received a number of inquiries for teambuilding and cultural group activities via Zoom for special occasions (celebrations, birthdays, etc.). We thus concluded that virtual tours and online experiences are usually for special occasions and unlikely to replace actual tours and experiences in the near future. See Appendix IV more information.

9. Masks will be around for a while

Respondents mentioned that even after the pandemic they would pack masks and sanitation materials whenever traveling abroad. Accordingly, we can expect mask-wearing habits to persist and hotels and ryokans will be careful in providing extra sanitization services, even after the pandemic. See Appendix III.

10. Women care more about travel safety

Consistent with the past tourism studies, we found that female respondents were more concerned about safety in general and cited safety and hygiene concerns more frequently than male respondents in the sample. We also noted that females were more likely to choose hotels over AirBnB based on the tabulations of Table I.

What are travelers' concerns about online experiences and virtual tours & classes?

Our Open ended Responses and Google Trends analysis yielded these results:

  • Time Zone Differences: Any online experience during the day time would exclude about half the world population.
  • Labor is the same but perceived value is lower: Travelers don't think online experiences can have the same value despite the fact that experience providers need to spend about the same amount of time and effort, if not more.
  • Problems with shipping the ingredients overseas: Our survey shows that participants want the ingredients or tools necessary for online experiences.
  • Diminishing novelty: The number of Google searches for typical virtual tours and online cultural experiences is decreasing except for the demand forvirtualteam building that Maikoya focuses on.

Differences between domestic travelers and International tourists

Comparisons of Google search queries in Japanese and English yielded these results:

  • Weekends only: Domestic tourists usually consider local cultural experiences mostly on weekends because of their jobs or family obligations.
  • Certain times of the year only: Domestic tourists usually don't stay overnight except for certain seasons and the searches peak just before the national holidays.
  • Not Once-in-a-lifetime: Most locals do not search for history tours or bucket list cultural experiences in their home countries.

Additional Info

  • Source yahoo! finance
Sunday, 06 December 2020 11:06

Holiday Travel Products Gift Guide 2020

As small business owners have been hit hard by the pandemic-related economic brunt, consider their products and services as holiday gift options. Globe Aware encourages the support of small businesses.


 

Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Travel Products Made By Women

By Michele Herrmann
Contributor
Travel

As small business owners have been hit hard by the pandemic-related economic brunt, consider their products and services as holiday gift options. In buying what they make to give to others, it’s a way of giving back by financially supporting them in return. Here are our gift suggestions for travel-related or inspired products by women business owners and entrepreneurs.

“The Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico,” $39.95

Food and travel writer Jessica van Dop DeJesus — also known by her brand’s name, “The Dining Traveler” — enlisted documentary photographer Italo Morales to go on a month-long journey across Puerto Rico. The result of their collaboration is this pictorial guide to this island, which transports readers through photography, accounts from locals, and a more in-depth look at Puerto Rico’s lesser-known regions.

Customized Road Trip Guides by CrushGlobal

Through her travel company, Kristin Braswell has developed a series of U.S. road trip guides focusing on not only places to go to but also emphasizing inclusivity across the travel and hospitality spectrum. Each guide lists businesses that are black, women and/or LGBTQ-owned, recommendations for culinary, outdoor and other personal interests, and notes regarding any safety precautions and COVID-19 mandates. Custom itineraries begin at $299 and can vary based on how many days and experiences. Ready-to-use guides range from $29 to $59 and cover Northern and Southern California, the Northeast, and the South.

Food Tour In A Box Series, Global Tours Connect, starting at $35

Co-run by Midgi Moore and Lauren McCabe Herpich, to support fellow women food tour operators, Global Tours Connect offers themed and boxed epicurean experiences with food products from various U.S. destinations. Get wild Alaska salmon or goodies sold at Cincinnati’s historic Findlay Market or key lime delectables from Key West.

Shampoo and conditioner bar travel sets, Unwrapped Life, $32

A plastic-free beauty brand by sisters Allison and Arden Teasdale, Unwrapped Life’s line of shampoo and conditioner bars suit various hair types and needs. The bars are described as being vegan and cruelty-free and can last at least up to 50 washes. They all come with a pair of rust-resistant matte gold travel tins.

Mrs. Hanes' Moravian Cookies

Various cookie tins and containers, Mrs. Hanes' Moravian Cookies MRS. HANES' MORAVIAN COOKIES
Mrs. Hanes' Moravian Cookies, various containers, starting at $23
Oprah Winfrey named this North Carolina delicacy as one of her “favorite things” in 2010. Located in Clemmons, a suburb of Winston-Salem, this bakery led by Evva Hanes continues this culinary tradition by the Moravians who came to settle in the state in the mid-16th century. These thin and crispy cookies come in six flavors: sugar, lemon, black walnut, chocolate, butterscotch and traditional Moravian ginger.

Quick Dry Microfiber Travel Towel With Pocket, DryFoxCo, $39.95

Samantha Peck came up with a solution for making towels able to store your valuables — as in your phone — and be less susceptible to getting and staying soaked. Her lightweight and quick-drying design does incorporate a water-resistant pocket for securing valuables and can fold up to fit in a daypack.

Various Gift Sets, Naples Soap Company, starting at $30

Nurse-turned-entrepreneur Deanna Wallin started experimenting with making soaps to find a solution for treating her child’s skin condition and turned her result into a full-line of all-natural bath and body care. Along with evergreen products, Naples Soap Company has gift sets with soaps, shower bombs, and other self-care body and facial staples in a variety of fragrances.

Catalina Deluxe Collection Totes, Lo & Sons, starting at $205

Founded Helen Lo, and her two sons, Jan and Derek, this bag company’s Catalina Deluxe line of totes are lightweight but also manage to be quite functional, versatile and stylish. They are made from either a recycled poly exterior, an organic cotton canvas and a washed canvas and have features such as a luggage sleeve that can attach to most luggage handles.

Pardy Wrap, Sh*t That I Knit, $185

This knitwear brand gets its handcrafted accessories from a community of artisan Peruvian women in Lima, which founder and CEO Christina Fagan Pardy outsourced its production to in 2016. Among these accessories, this soft wrap is made from 100 percent baby alpaca wool and comes in a range of colors.

Atomiser Trio Christmas Cracker, men’s and women’s sets, Lili Bermuda, $60

At this 90-year-old perfumery at the historic Stewart Hall in Bermuda, Master Perfumer Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone uses the island’s botanicals in making their variety of scents. Along with these holiday sets, the perfumery’s website has a fragrance quiz for helping pick out the perfect scent for yourself or another recipient.

Peppermint Vodka, Sonoma Coast Spirits, $28

Run by Jill Olson and her children, this craft distillery in Petaluma, Calif. has released a new holiday vodka that could go nicely with hot chocolate or perhaps in a White Russian made at home. Along with this vodka, all of this distillery’s spirits are gluten free and vegan.

Vietnamese Coffee Pourover Sets, Copper Cow Coffee, starting at $15

For those who got into preparing Vietnamese coffee at home this year, this company run by Vietnamese-American Debbie Wei Mullin provides individual serving packets for each step in making single-use pourovers for a freshly-brewed organic cup. There is a basic five-packet set, plus latte flavors including Churro Latte, Lavender and Peppermint.

Mountain Jewelry Collection, Jen Lesea Designs, starting at $65

Made in Boulder, Colo., from recycled materials, this handcrafted jewelry collection by Jen Lesea-Ames is inspired by the Rocky Mountains and designed to make you feel connected to them. Along with rings, necklaces and pendants, her business also has mountain themed men's accessories such as money clips and cufflinks. A portion of online sales is donated to the National Park Foundation.

The Wanderr, OME Gear, $379

Having to lug a lot around while you’re on the go? This eco-friendly, five-in-one utility product from this women-owned outdoor gear company can haul up to 150 pounds to the beach or campsite or wherever you’re heading outdoors. Its patented wheels can handle hard and soft surfaces, plus its armrests are removable.

Curated Box Series, She Lives Aloha, various pricing

This co-women run company brings the feeling of the Hawaiian Islands right to your doorstep with this specialty kit service. Inside these single or quarterly sent kits, find products from businesses in or connected to Hawaii that showcase what makes this 50th state great. A single Lives Aloha Kit costs $59.95, with seasonal subscriptions being $49.95 every three months.

Leather Passport Covers, P. Sherrod & Co., $35

This black-owned leather lifestyle brand puts on a selection of passport covers in a variety of brilliant colors. Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., the company’s CVO, Donna King, came across a small family-owned leather manufacturer while on vacation in South America and thus combined her sense of travel and her entrepreneurial spirit in creating this business.

Mumi Packing Cubes, Mumi, $49.90

This Miami-based brand is founded by Gabriella Melker and Maribel Moreno, two Latina moms who were frustrated by not being able to find the right products to satisfy their packing and tidying-up needs. This set contains five cubes in different sizes and are available in a wide array of colors.

Curated Travel Images, Raising for Change, various prices

Launched by travel photographer Kirsten Alana, this collective of well-traveled photographers is selling digital and fine art versions of their images for good causes. Pricing and offerings start as mobile wallpapers for $1, with fine art prints beginning at $125 and ranging in size.

Additional Info

  • Source Forbes
Thursday, 03 December 2020 11:43

New Dallas spa has a unique draw

‘Tickle Bar’ now open in Texas. No, it’s not a fetish thing, it’s about relaxation

BY TJ MACIAS
DECEMBER 02, 2020

The Tickle Bar in Dallas, TX is open for business.

A new Dallas spa has a unique draw that appears to walk a fine line.

It’s called “The Tickle Bar” and the owner, Kimberly Haley-Coleman, says it’s about relaxation, not fetishes.

The concept came to her when thinking up a new idea to generate income and continue to employ people in Globe Aware, her nonprofit organization that “offers global volunteer vacations that combine personal travel with work assisting foreign communities,” the Dallas Observer said.

And yes, the concept is exactly what the name suggests.

“I thought, ‘I wish I could get somebody to tickle my back. Why don’t people do that?’ So I decided I’m going to freakin’ do it,” she says. “Who knows if it’s going to work, but I’m going to do it.”

According to the Advocate Magazine, “guests can choose from two basic services: hair play or back tickle. The 25- or 50-minute sessions incorporate a variety of shiver-inducing strokes to release tension from the body using fingers, feather dusters, makeup brushes and more. If you’re especially ticklish, try the basic scratch for relaxation with a firmer touch.”

The Tickle Bar website, which includes the phrase “Get Tickled Pink,” also features the sound of a woman’s soft giggle.

Haley-Coleman told the Observer that she is steering into the skid when it comes to the “prurient interest” associated with tickling.

“Even though it isn’t, if it gives me a double-take, I’m going to take that,” she said to the Observer. “Because when they look twice they’re going to see that it’s people like me, an over-50 woman, who is the client, not the 20-year-old fraternity guy looking for a happy ending.”

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Wednesday, 02 December 2020 13:50

There's a Tickle Bar Opening in Dallas

There's a Tickle Bar Opening in Dallas. Yeah, You Heard Us

BRITTANY NUNN
DECEMBER 2, 2020

Remember the back tickles you loved as a kid, the black magic your mom used to put you straight to sleep? How about the times you almost dozed off while someone played with your hair? Are you relaxed just thinking about it?

Kimberly Haley-Coleman wants to sell you that experience with the launch of her new business, The Tickle Bar, and she doesn’t know if her idea is crazy, brilliant or maybe a little of both.

“When I tell people I get a really polarized reaction,” Haley-Coleman says. “It’s either, ‘Oh my God, that’s genius, why hasn’t anyone done that before?’ or it’s ‘No one is going to do that. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.’ That’s when I knew I had to try it.”

Haley-Coleman is somewhat familiar with controversy, as this isn’t her first polarizing business. She started a “voluntourism” nonprofit called Globe Aware in Dallas in 2001, which offers global volunteer vacations that combine personal travel with work assisting foreign communities.

kimberly haley coleman credit ashley woodruff

Despite some people’s perceptions that voluntourism is just a way for rich Americans to stroke their god complexes, the nonprofit thrived in Dallas for nearly 20 years until COVID-19 and the border closures that came along with it brought its operations to a halt.

“That’s a big reason why I’m doing what I’m doing,” Haley-Coleman explains. “We really rely on borders being open and planes flying and people feeling up for travel, so it’s been a rough year.”

The businesswoman needed a fresh idea to pay the rent on her then-empty office building off Hillside and Mockingbird.

“I thought, ‘I wish I could get somebody to tickle my back. Why don’t people do that?’ So I decided I’m going to freakin’ do it,” she says. “Who knows if it’s going to work, but I’m going to do it.”

If you hear the name "The Tickle Bar" and it reminds you of Dry Bar, that parallel is intentional, even though The Tickle Bar doesn’t offer any of the same services (so don’t go there expecting a hair wash and a blowout). The Tickle Bar is more of a massage/spa experience, but Haley-Coleman wants people to envision the same affordable luxury they get when they go to Dry Bar. Think pampering and relaxation.

“I thought, ‘I wish I could get somebody to tickle my back. Why don’t people do that?’ So I decided I’m going to freakin’ do it.” – The Tickle Bar owner Kimberly Haley-Coleman

The Tickle Bar is located in Globe Aware’s previous office at 6500 Mockingbird Lane, which has now been reoutfitted to accommodate the new gig. Starting Dec. 7, Dallasites eager to have someone tickle their fancy will be able to book appointments online.

At the appointment time, guests will be greeted at the door by a masked technician, and as long as they are also wearing masks — yes, this is a "no mask no service" business — the guest will be taken to a waiting area and served pink cookies and a glass of rosé.

From there, guests will be taken into one of the five “tickle tents," Moroccan-style tents adorned with fairy lights, where they’ll be given the options to take their shirts off, as well as to close the tent flap for privacy.

The list of shiver-inducing services is short and sweet: hair play, back tickles, or both, for 25 or 50 minutes.

Back tickles can involve feathers and textures, “shape tracing," and a soft touch or firmer scratches for more ticklish individuals. Likewise, the hair play sessions can also involve a variety or combs or devices.

For those who want to try before they buy, Haley-Coleman is hosting an outdoor, masked, socially distant Tickled Pink event on Dec. 5 at 3:30 p.m. Drop by for a free T-shirt and pink feather boa and some Instaworthy pictures of shirtless guys in feather wings. If you’d like a “tickle teaser” you must notify them in advance. Otherwise, you can watch and see what all the oooh-ahh is about.

Haley-Coleman admits she’s “leaning a bit on the prurient interest of people when they hear about tickles.” And she’s embracing it.

“Even though it isn’t, if it gives me a double-take, I’m going to take that,” she says. “Because when they look twice they’re going to see that it’s people like me, an over-50 woman, who is the client, not the 20-year-old fraternity guy looking for a happy ending.”

At the end of the day, Haley-Coleman just wants to put some smiles back on people’s faces after a long year of social isolation.

“We’re all just so sick of [COVID] and we’re really missing touch,” she says. “I just hope we’re doing this in a fun and innovative enough way that people go, ‘Yeah that’s something that I want to do.’ Jobs and joy, that’s what I’m really wanting to create.”

The Tickle Bar was originally created as a way to keep the lights on for another business (necessity is the mother of invention, after all), and it's Haley-Coleman’s hope that the concept will stick. However, the first five months will be a trial period.

“If I build it, will they come?” Haley-Coleman says. “If it doesn’t go well in five months then I’ll shut it down and go back to only doing Globe Aware. And if it goes really well, then I’d like to go buy a retail space and outfit it the way I really want to do it in my dream world. I’d really like to do both businesses simultaneously for the rest of my life.”

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  • Source DALLAS OBSERVER

Two of the biggest travel holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, are just around the corner, and travelers are debating whether they should meet up with friends and family. An infectious disease specialist encourages everyone to assess what they consider is an acceptable amount of risk in their lives, and follow precautions accordingly.


 

Holiday Travel Tips From an Infectious Disease Specialist

From Getting a Flu Shot to Quarantining Before Gathering, Catherine Le, MD, Says the 2020 Holidays Are All About Reducing Risk

Newswise — LOS ANGELES (Nov. 19, 2020) -- With the two biggest travel holidays – Thanksgiving and Christmas – around the corner, many are debating whether they should gather with family and friends as usual.

"There is no easy solution," says Cedars-Sinai infectious disease specialist Catherine Le, MD. "When my patients ask me if it’s safe to travel or spend time together with loved ones, I talk to them about risk mitigation and encourage them to find what they consider is an acceptable amount of risk in their lives."

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Risk mitigation, according to Le, is an individual decision based on preparing for, or lessening the effects of, any type of threat. In today’s world, risk mitigation conversations are centered around being exposed to or contracting COVID-19.

"I can never say anything is 100% safe," said Le. "But what I can do is encourage individuals to reduce their own risk and follow best practices, including avoiding interacting with large numbers of people, frequent hand-washing, wearing a mask, staying socially distanced whenever possible, and importantly, getting a flu shot."

A flu shot not only lessens a person’s likelihood of contracting the flu but helps ensure healthcare systems do not become overwhelmed with flu and COVID-19 patients at the same time.

"If we have a patient who has both the flu and COVID-19, it could be disastrous on the individual level, but also disastrous for the healthcare system," said Le. "If there are more sick patients than hospitals can accommodate, it causes problems for the community in general."

Le has additional recommendations for those who insist on visiting or hosting relatives and friends:

Traveling by air: The most important thing to avoid is airport congestion, says Le, who recommends being aware of your surroundings and trying to maintain social distancing whenever possible. She also recommends checking airline policies, as they vary across companies.
"Not all airlines are blocking middle seats, so take the airline's policy into account before booking," said Le. "Also, travel with a 70% alcohol-based sanitizer, use sanitizing wipes on your airplane seat and tray table, and, wear your mask the entire time."

Hosting holiday guests: Is it safe to host guests in your home for a holiday meal? And, what about having visitors stay overnight in your home?
"This is a really hard discussion and choice," said Le. "Before opening your home, you should do a risk assessment. If anything gives you reason for concern, then consider alternative ideas."

Le strongly urges all holiday hosts follow mandates from the Los Angeles Department of Public Health (LADPH), which prohibits gatherings of more than three households – including hosts and guests.

If you move forward accommodating three households or less of guests, Le says to again follow LADPH guidelines, which state that all gatherings should be held outdoors and participants should remain socially distanced. If being outdoors is not an option, Le says to at least open windows and doors to increase airflow.

Le also recommends frequent sanitation of high-touch surfaces like door handles, bathroom sinks, light switches and refrigerator doors.

"If possible, I recommend cleaning those high-touch surfaces at least once a day," said Le, "although high-touch surfaces are becoming less of a concern as we learn more about how the disease is transmitted."

The ideal situation, says Le, is if all parties gathering together quarantine for 10 to 14 days prior to seeing each other and travel by car, which limits interaction with others. Le also suggests getting tested for COVID-19 before arriving at your destination.

"This is especially beneficial for those who may have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic and don’t know that they could infect their friends and families," said Le. "However, even if a test is negative, you should still follow guidelines to only congregate outdoors, wear masks and remain physically distanced."

Hotel lodging: "If you stay at a hotel, you have the option not to have housecleaning come into your room," said Le. "That’s an extra level of protection."
Food safety: Whether your holiday meal is homemade or catered, Le says the most critical aspect is keeping food covered in airtight containers until serving time to prevent contamination from respiratory particles. She also recommends waiting until it is time to eat to set the table or lay out serving pieces and having one, or two, masked people serve all guests after sanitizing their hands.
"It’s all about limiting exposure on high-touch surfaces like serving utensils," said Le.

Declining invitations and handling tough conversations: If you have assessed your risk and decide to forgo holiday gatherings, Le says it is natural to feel badly about declining invitations or disappointing loved ones.
"But it’s not an unfounded fear to be worried about gathering with loved ones," said Le. "The best advice I can offer is to be honest with your feelings and clear with how this choice affects you personally and emotionally."

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Sunday, 22 November 2020 12:33

Travel trends for 2021

This year is coming quickly coming to an end, and there are some hopeful signs for travel and Globe Aware volunteers. This includes more widely available testing, safe destination openings without needing travelers to quarantine for long, and new vaccines on the horizon.


11 Trending Destinations for 2021, According to Internet Searches

Expedia's 2021 Travel Trends report breaks down the most-searched destinations.

November 11, 2020

BY JESSICA PUCKETT

As 2020 winds to a close, there are hopeful signs for travel amid the pandemic: Tests for COVID-19 are more widely available, destinations are finding ways to safely reopen without needing travelers to quarantine for two weeks, and a vaccine might finally be on the horizon.

Next year, many travelers are hoping to get back out there—and they're already researching where to book. According to Expedia's 2021 Travel Trends report, most travelers are looking for destinations that offer seclusion, sun and sand, and are easily accessible by plenty of flights.

Here are the 11 destinations Expedia says travelers are most interested in visiting next year.

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11. The Maldives

U.S. travelers are more interested than ever in planning a trip to the Maldives, a serene chain of atolls in the Indian Ocean. The island nation is likely trending because it is currently open to travelers from any country (visitors must produce a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before departure). Flight operations to the Maldives have also restarted from the U.S., with top international carriers like Emirates, Singapore, Qatar ferrying U.S. fliers to the secluded oceanfront paradise.

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10. French Polynesia

Another far-flung destination travelers are dreaming of visiting next year? The islands of French Polynesia. The sun-drenched atolls are currently open to international tourists who can present a negative PCR test taken within three days of arrival.

Both Air Tahiti Nui and United Airlines have resumed flights to Tahiti out of Los Angeles. Fiji Airways has also launched a new private jet charter program out of LAX in partnership with private resort island Laucala (the jet plus an all-inclusive week for 20 guests on the island will set you back $450,000). Those hoping to fly commercial to Fiji, on the other hand, will have to wait for next year as the islands have halted standard airline arrivals until at least spring of 2021.

Los Cabos Mexico

9. Los Cabos, Mexico

One leisure market with enduring popularity among vacationers is Mexico. That trend doesn't seem to be changing in 2021, with Los Cabos—and several other Mexican resort towns—picking up a top spot on Expedia's report. The town, perched on the Baja California Peninsula, is full of top-notch hotels, and nearby San José del Cabo has plenty of vibrant restaurants and shops to explore. If you're planning a Cabo trip next year, you'll have plenty of transport options: Many U.S. airlines have been pivoting their route offerings to these types of sunny places and adding Cabo as a destination.

8. Miami

Domestic beach destinations also scored high with travelers researching 2021 trips. And next year, travelers have Miami's famous white sand beaches in their sights—add in the city's lively craft cocktail scene and world-class seafood and Cuban restaurants, and it's not hard to see why this destination ranks in the eighth spot. South Florida has always been a strong market for airlines like JetBlue and Southwest—the latter is doubling down by launching flights to Miami International Airport for the first time on November 15.

6. & 7. Maui and Oahu

With the lifting of its two-week quarantine for visitors who test negative for COVID-19, Hawaii is once again topping lists of travelers' dream destinations. Air carriers like Hawaiian Airlines and United are offering passengers an array of airport testing options, simplifying matters. Many air routes to the Aloha State are either running or set to restart, including the newly launched Newark to Maui route from United and Hawaiian Airlines' Boston to Honolulu route—which is the longest domestic flight in the U.S. For 2021, travelers looking at Maui, with its multitude of sprawling beach resorts, and Oahu, home to bustling Honolulu, most closely.

Punta Cana

5. Punta Cana

The Dominican Republic opened its borders to international travelers in July, and as of October, the island's 101 resorts also began welcoming back tourists. One of the most popular destinations in the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana, is ranking high with potential travelers ready to park on the beach with a cold drink. Our recommendation? Check out Tortuga Bay Puntacana Resort & Beach Club, one of Traveler readers' favorite properties on the island.

4. Orlando

Each year, Orlando secures its spot as a top destination with families as they head to Disney World, and in 2021 it seems that the theme park's draw is just as strong. Officially reopened as of July 11 after a four-month closure, Disney World is currently operating at a limited capacity and requiring online reservations for all guests, while seasonal festivities like Christmas celebrations also toned down this year to allow for social distancing.

3. Las Vegas

As resorts and casinos slowly reopen in Sin City, travelers are eyeing a return to Vegas next year, too. Tourists might find that the glamorous strip looks a bit different amid the pandemic, but the city's extravagant restaurant scene is adapting well. JetBlue, Delta, and Southwest have all brought back nonstop flights from numerous markets around the country, yet another signal that Las Vegas is an in-demand destination with U.S. travelers.

2. Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum

One thing about 2021 is sure: Travelers want to be in Mexico. This trio of ultra-popular neighboring resort towns takes the No. 2 spot in Expedia's trends report. Sun-seekers seem determined to experience the state of Quintana Roo's vast array of upscale, beachfront hotels, so much so that another city in this region took the top spot on the list.

1. Cancun

Travelers yearning for relaxation, sun, and sand culminates with Cancun being next year's top trending destination. A perennial favorite among vacationers from all over the country, the majority of U.S. airlines—including United, Southwest, American, and JetBlue—are all adding flights to the city. After reopening for tourists over the summer, Cancun is once again attracting waves of beach-bound travelers: In October 2020, the city's airport surpassed 1 million monthly passengers for the first time since the pandemic began.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler
Monday, 16 November 2020 12:03

A Covid-19 vaccine will change travel

On November 9 it was announced that one of the candidates for a Covid-19 vaccine, made by Pfizer and BioNTech, was over 90% in preventing volunteers from contracting the virus. This is great news for Globe Aware, our communities & volunteers, and look forward to safe travels in 2021 for everyone.


 

How a Covid-19 vaccine could change travel for good

Julia Buckley
CNN
16th November 2020

It was the good news that gave the world hope.

On November 9 it was announced that one of the candidates for a Covid-19 vaccine, made by Pfizer and BioNTech, was over 90% effective in preventing volunteers from contracting the virus.

The beleaguered travel industry immediately got a boost, with airline and cruise company share prices rallying, and tour operators seeing upticks in searches and bookings for 2021. Finally, it feels as if vacations might be in our future.

But will travel post-vaccine go back to how things were, or has your vacation been irrevocably changed?

For starters, it'll be a while before we know the answer to that, says travel specialist Dr. Felicity Nicholson, lead doctor at Trailfinders Travel Clinic in the UK.

"I think it's just a matter of time before things come back to some degree of normality, but it'll take quite a long time," she says.

"At the moment, travel is way down the pecking order of vaccination." She says that countries will first be looking to vaccinate the vulnerable, then healthworkers and keyworkers, before making inroads into the general population. That's not to mention the practical issues around the transportation and storage of the Pfizer vaccination, meaning that if that's the one that wins the race, it could take even longer to distribute.

"We should be encouraged but understand it's unlikely to be as rapid as governments are suggesting," she says.

"If they can find a way to transport it properly (it needs to be stored at minus 70 C, or minus 94 F), it could be early next year before things start to get going. Countries whose economies are based on tourism will be desperate to get people back and moving, but most people (in the travel industry) aren't hopeful that things will really pick up until the fall of 2021."

And don't assume that once a vaccination program starts rolling out, you can jump on the next plane, whether or not you've had it. Nicholson reckons that proof of vaccination might become advisory, or even mandatory, for destinations.

An international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis (ICVP) -- which travelers must carry to enter certain countries which mandate a yellow fever vaccination, or to exit those with high polio risk -- could be the next addition to your travel kit.

"I think we'll have a formal certificate, either online or on paper, showing that you've been vaccinated at a recognized, accredited clinic, as we do for yellow fever," she says.

"It'll be the destination demanding it -- and that could be everyone.

"Most countries where there's a vulnerable or older population will certainly be demanding proof because we know how devastating the disease can be."

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Making up for lost time

So, you've had your jab, and are carrying your certificate -- what next?

Well, you might be off on the trip of a lifetime, according to tour operators.

John Bevan, CEO of Dnata Travel Group, which owns brands Travelbag, Travel Republic and Netflights as well as trade brand Gold Medal, says that there's been a noticeable uptick in bookings since news of the vaccine was announced.

And of those who can afford to go abroad next year, many are splashing out, he says, with the average booking value increasing by about 20% this week, compared to pre-Covid times. "People didn't get a vacation this year, so they're treating themselves. They're booking higher category rooms, and we're seeing more family groups, too," he says. Netflights just took a booking for a group of 19 people to go to Dubai for Easter 2021.

Tom Marchant, co-founder of luxury tour operator Black Tomato, agrees.

"People have desperately missed the chance to travel, and want something to look forward to," he says. "They're saying, 'That first trip, I'm going to make it special'."

The demand for something out of the ordinary is so strong that in October the company launched a new lineup of once-in-a-lifetime trips, Journeys to Come -- anything from seeing the solar eclipse in Patagonia to swimming with whales under the midnight sun in Iceland. "We wanted to create something to make people say, 'That'll get me through these challenging times'," he says.

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Winning destinations

Interestingly, in what he thinks might be a "Biden bounce," Bevan says his brands have seen a triple-digit growth in trips to the US for next year, from May onwards. The Maldives and the UAE are other popular destinations for Europeans wanting to escape next year -- he earmarks Dubai in particular as a destination that's working hard to get tourists safely back, and also predicts the Caribbean will do very well.

However, he thinks Australia and New Zealand will be off-limits until the last quarter of 2021.

Marchant says his clients are starting to look towards Asia -- although he thinks that the typical country-hopping trip through Southeast Asia will be off the cards for a while, because of the bureaucracy of testing and certificates at every border or on every flight.

"Instead of hopping around, I think people will just go to a couple of places and really immerse themselves, and I think that's really positive," he says. "There'll be a shift in how people enjoy places -- it won't be just box-ticking anymore."

For the same reason, he thinks that multiple weekend breaks will be replaced by longer, two-week trips.

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Bucket list safaris

However, it's not all plain sailing yet. According to Nigel Vere Nicoll, president of the African Travel and Tourism Association (ATTA), the trade body for travel to sub-Saharan Africa, the biggest problem with travel in 2021 won't have anything to do with a vaccine -- it'll be to do with flight availability.

This is particularly the case for this part of the continent, which has just three main international hubs: Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Johannesburg. South African Airways, based at the latter, are currently not flying, while Kenya Airways is hoping for a cash injection from the government. Ethiopian Airlines, however, is expanding.

"From there, you have to get an extra flight and domestic airlines have cut back," says Vere Nicoll. "And airlines won't increase flights unless they're sure there's enough business. It'll take time but we have to support them.

"The vaccine is a very, very exciting step -- the first brick in rebuilding everything -- but I can't see it rolling out until the middle of next year." For what it's worth, he doesn't think African countries -- which have emerged relatively unscathed by the pandemic -- will mandate the vaccine for travelers.

Safari destinations have been particularly hard hit by the collapse of tourism, with poaching on the rise in national parks, and economic devastation for those working in lodges.

And "grossly unfair" travel bans from the likes of the UK government -- who impose a two-week quarantine on travelers coming from any African country, most of which have seen under 1,000 deaths from the virus, compared to the UK's 50,000 -- haven't helped.

And yet, Vere Nicoll says that the future could be bright for those looking for the holiday of a lifetime. "The Great Migration was better this year than it has been for years, and there are great initiatives going on -- people have used this time to get tourism ready for when we come." And, of course, a safari trip is largely outdoors.

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Champing at the bit to get to Europe

Are there any destinations which have been so marred by the virus that we won't want to go there for a while?

Despite the US heading up the league table of Covid-19 deaths, from John Bevan's data it appears that visitors are keen to get there -- he thinks that could be optimism regarding the Biden administration's pledge to curb the virus.

But he warns that Europe, which has been in the center of the pandemic, may not be so attractive to travelers from countries who've controlled it better.

However, Tom Jenkins, CEO of the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA), disagrees.

"The response to being told you can't do something is to want to do it, so if you've not been to Europe for a year, you'll want to go to Europe," he says.

"You'll never see it this empty, you'll never see prices this competitive, you'll never have this experience again. There's real latent demand."

He says that tour operators are already looking at a relatively good year, with plenty of trips postponed from 2020 to 2021, and search engine data showing big interest in travel to Europe from other continents.

And with numbers not expected to recover until 2022, the continent will be emptier than it has been in many of our lifetimes.

However, he warns that "there's no momentum in the market" -- nobody traveling to Europe and inspiring people to follow them. Post-vaccine, it'll all hinge on the airlines to lay on flights, and the destinations making sure they're ready to go. "Cities bounce back fairly quickly but it may not be that straightforward," he says.

Touchless travel

Even with a potential vaccine, John Bevan thinks that the travel experience itself will have changed -- particularly at the airport, where he thinks airlines will move to a largely touchless experience.

On board, he thinks the Covid-induced rule of deplaning row by row will continue -- and that's a great thing.

"I flew on EasyJet to Greece in August and it was immaculate -- they made us stay seated till the row in front had got off, and there wasn't that horrendous bunfight. It was so calming," he says.

And at the other end, he thinks the restrictions on buffets, with staff doling out the food, will stay "till people feel more comfortable." Ditto keeping our personal space -- "I think we'll be more careful for a long time," he says. "I can't see us hugging or shaking hands with people we don't know for quite a while."

Flexibility is here to stay

One good thing to come out of the pandemic? Flexibility. Many deals on offer for 2021 are fully flexible, and it looks like that will continue, at least in the short to medium term.

"The industry has handled the refunds (from earlier in the pandemic) with various degrees of effectiveness, and I think the consumer is going to be far more mindful of what they're booking and what they expect," says Tom Marchant.

"Suppliers should be able to offer flexibility, and the customer will expect transparency."

Under a new policy, Black Tomato is offering a full refund up to 30 days before departure on most new bookings -- and although Marchant won't be drawn on how long that'll last, he says, "I don't see it as a flash in the pan."

Bevan agrees, and reckons flexibility is how the industry will recover. For the traveler, he says, the flexibility that airlines are currently offering means that there's "not a huge amount of risk" for those wanting to book. His only caveat -- he advises would-be travelers to book as soon as they see a deal with flexible terms, because airline capacity will still be low in 2021.

A wakeup call for us all

Other upsides might emerge from the pandemic, too.

Dr. Nicholson thinks that the resources poured into the vaccine effort will benefit the fight against other diseases -- and predicts better vaccinations for viruses including Ebola.

And she thinks travelers' own attitudes towards health while on the road will improve.

"People are much more aware of infectious diseases now," she says, adding that, before the pandemic, the number of travelers who booked a pre-trip consultation was pretty low. "Before, they might have gone abroad without consulting anyone. (If the vaccine is mandatory) they'll have to come in for a consultation and we can talk to them about other risks in that destination.

"In western countries, we tend to be cavalier, but perhaps people will respect how serious viruses can be now.

"Everyone's had a wake-up call and learned about virology, and that can only help."

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Airlines in the U.S. are trying to be as varied as possible. They are offering potential travelers different options to fly during the upcoming all-important holiday season that starts Nov. 23 with Thanksgiving week.


US Carriers Offering Varied Options for Thanksgiving Holiday Travel

RICH THOMASELLI
NOVEMBER 10, 2020

U.S. airlines are trying to be as varied as possible, offering potential travelers different options to fly during the upcoming all-important holiday season that starts Nov. 23 with Thanksgiving week.

The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s has always been lucrative for the airlines, and many – United included – are hoping it continues to be just that in the face of a new surge of coronavirus cases across the country. Many carriers are projecting that the week of Nov. 23 will be its busiest since March, according to Fox Business.

United, in fact, says it's adding more than 1,400 domestic flights during the week of Thanksgiving.

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But it's more than that. JetBlue is adding 25 flights from the New York Cita area to Florida, California and markets in the Caribbean including Port-au-Prince, San Juan, Santiago and Santo Domingo. American Airlines told FOX Business Monday that the carrier will also increase its flights from Nov. 24- 25 and Nov. 28 - 30.

"During the Thanksgiving holiday, we will increase our flying by approximately 15% compared to the rest of the month, from an average of 3,500 flights to more than 4,000 flights," an American Airlines spokesperson told Fox Business.

Delta will also be increasing capacity around the holidays with over 3,800 peak-day flights during Thanksgiving.

Air travel has been picking up since dropping in April to just six percent of what capacity was at the time last year. it is now slowly on the rise but still only had 40 percent, and could use the much-needed boost that holiday travel would bring.

"Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen that customers continue to gain confidence in booking travel, in response to expert medical research on the safety of air travel and Delta’s multi-layered approach of cleanliness, space and safer service through the Delta CareStandard," a Delta spokesperson told FOX Business.

In addition, United will also monitor last minute bookings in the event that the company needs "to swap in larger aircraft" to accommodate for the last-minute demand.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse
Friday, 30 October 2020 13:51

Best Travel Destinations in December

December is the holiday season, and there are plenty of places you can visit to slough off the stress of the year and immerse yourself in feel-good festivities. This includes the Globe Aware location of Puerto Rico.


Best Places to Travel in December

Destinations to consider for this winter, or to be bookmarked for next year.

BY MARK ELLWOOD
October 30, 2020

December is the holiday season, and there are plenty of places you can visit to slough off the stress of the year and immerse yourself in feel-good festivities. If frosted trees and mulled wine leave you cold, there are several warm-weather getaways we’d suggest, including Caribbean nations reopening after closing their borders for much of 2020.

If you’re staying domestic, check entry requirements at each state you’re visiting—and what your home state guidelines are when you return. If you're comfortable traveling overseas, make sure to check the CDC guidelines on your destination. Remember, as well, to update your travel insurance, ensuring that the coverage you have will apply during the pandemic, whether it’s a standalone policy or insurance that’s bundled with one of many travel-focused credit cards. And if you’re not quite ready to travel yet, bookmark this list for a potential getaway next year.

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The British Virgin Islands

Three years ago, much of the BVI was devastated by the arrival of Hurricane Irma, the first of two category 5 hurricanes to tear through the Leeward Islands that fall. No wonder, then, that it took more than two years for many of the resorts to rebuild—only to find themselves stymied by pandemic-related border closures. On December 1, though, the country reopens to foreign visitors again, following protocols that the government is still workshopping at the time of writing (check for updates here). Once there, you’ll be able to indulge at one of the ultra-luxury resorts, many of which sit on their own private islands. Richard Branson’s Necker Island is arguably the most famous, freshly reconstructed with an emphasis on sustainability. New wind turbines join the existing solar farm so that the resort runs on 90 percent renewable energy. Even the staff uniforms are made from recycled plastic. It’s also available now on a non-exclusive basis, for groups renting eight or more rooms; before it required a total buyout. Traveling solo or in a couple? Consider booking an individual room at Guana, the 850-acre island close to Tortola, instead.

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Puerto Rico

Locals claim that this Caribbean island has the longest holiday season in the world, lasting a full two months. Christmas celebrations kick off the moment Thanksgiving has wrapped and continue well into January, usually capped by the San Sebastian Street Festival. But since there’s no visa required, no currency difference, or even roaming charges, why not move here and work remotely for a stint? On weekends, you’ll be able to explore some of the island’s al fresco spaces, from the El Yunque National Forest (now accessible via reservation, to prevent overcrowding) to ToroVerde Adventure Park. Hop on a 30-minute ferry from the east coast town of Ceiba to Vieques, where you can plunge into the bioluminescent bay or sunbathe on black sand at Playa Negrita. However long the stay, all visitors must follow COVID-19 safety protocols, as mandated by the local tourism authority: requirements are outlined here.

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St Louis, Missouri

St. Louis has embraced its role as one of America’s yuletide capitals ever since it was serenaded by Judy Garland at the end of Meet Me in St. Louis more than 75 years ago. The Polar Express­-themed train ride at Union Station will feature a visit with Santa this year, although the trains will remain stationary in 2020 to help maintain social distancing; if you go, book a spot at one of six pancake breakfasts with Santa this December. The $187 million makeover of the grand terminal has seen the waiting room and its surroundings reborn as an upscale hotel from Curio Collection by Hilton. Meanwhile, a historically protected section at the back has been repurposed as a family entertainment complex, complete with the city’s first big wheel (take a turn for a great view of the Arch on the horizon). Don’t miss the St. Louis Aquarium, either, and its main draw, Lord Stanley, an incredibly rare, naturally blue lobster rescued from the boiling pot to live here as unofficial mascot.

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The Hamptons, New York

Forget summer—that’s amateur hour in the Hamptons. Insiders head to the tip of Long Island off season, when it’s quieter, calmer, and frankly, far more glamorous. In winter, most parking permits at the beaches are effectively suspended, so you can explore the coastline freely. Dress warmly and wander the deserted Georgica Beach in East Hampton or Southampton’s Coopers Beach, where the dunes are fringed by grand old mansions. It’s a smart time to go surfing if you can stomach the cold, too; conditions are often more consistent on good days, even if those are less frequent than at peak season. Montauk, of course, is the surfer HQ and the opportunity to surf Point Break at Montauk Point is a winter-only bonus, as it’s reserved for fishing much of the year. Go wine-tasting at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard; it's renowned for rosé but also makes some hearty reds, ideal for chilly winter evenings. Among the hotels that remain open year-round, the pick of them is undoubtedly Gurney’s Montauk, which offers heated igloos for up to four people in exchange for a $25 donation per head to local charities. New York’s Executive Order 205 mandates 14-day quarantine for arrivals from a rolling list of states with high rates of COVID-19 transmission. It is regularly updated here.

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South Lake Tahoe, California

After carefully adjusting activities to allow for social distancing, resorts are beginning another season in late November. North Lake Tahoe is charming, if a little sleepy, but the southern rim of the lake is livelier and more energetic. It’s equal parts après-ski and mountain runs—all of them operating in safe ways, thanks to the careful efforts of local authorities, outlined here. Tube Tahoe is a new asset this season, focusing on family-friendly runs from Tahoe Paradise Golf Course. For grown-ups, there’s also an ice skating rink at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort, complete with a mobile Veuve Clicquot bar to toast the season after you kick off your skates. Edgewood’s an ideal base for overnighting, too, as it’s close to Heavenly Mountain, one of the best ski complexes, with almost 100 runs across four base facilities. The 235-acre, 154-room resort sits right on the waterfront; get up early, and take a brisk morning stroll along the area’s only private beach.

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Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii acted swiftly in the early days of the pandemic, aiming to tamp down its case levels by enacting a stringent 14-day quarantine on any visitors to the island, whether American or international. After careful consideration, it has lifted that regulation, albeit with testing protocols in place (find the latest requirements here). Just in time, too, as whale-watching season kicks off in December. By one estimate, two thirds of the North Pacific humpback population will be on the move, and there’s nowhere better to glimpse them than the shallow ‘Au‘au Channel between Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. Hawaii’s outdoorsy appeal is only re-emphasized in the pandemic era, with the chance to take bracing hikes—the Pipiwai Trail is a four-mile long cardio workout—as well as explore places like Hamoa Beach on the east coast, which is a family-friendly place to swim. The best overnighting option, of course, is the number one resort in Hawaii per this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards: the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, set on 15 waterfront acres with direct access to Mokapu Beach.

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Curaçao

Curaçao has allowed Americans to visit for some time, but there’s been a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival. That changes in December, when Tri-State residents (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut) can skip that process by providing a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of traveling. In response, flights are restarting from the area: United’s first direct from Newark on December 7, and JetBlue out of JFK two days later. A rugged, outdoorsy island, Curaçao is set up for social distancing, with plenty of options for bikers or hikers to choose from. (Head up to the peak of Mount Christoffel for a view of Venezuela on a clear day.) There are beaches, too—this is the Caribbean, after all—most of them cove-like and tucked away. Ditch a resort and follow the local habit of camping on the uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao, just eight miles off the main island’s southeast coast. A short boat ride away, you can pitch a tent on the beach or string a hammock between the trees; even better, the snorkel and scuba diving is top tier with its sparkling coral and underwater caves.

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Death Valley, California

There are only eight Gold Tier International Dark Sky Parks in America, denoting a location so free of light pollution that the Milky Way is visible with the naked eye. One of them is Death Valley, where the dry air and isolation make it seem like the universe is right on your doorstep. Stargazing isn’t the only after-dark activity here, either: Take a moonlit horse ride, or dip in one of the pools filled by natural springs that keep the water at a balmy 84.5 degrees, even on a crisp winter night. You’ll find those pools at the Oasis at Death Valley, a sprawling, multi-site resort built here in the 1920s and once popular with Golden Age A-listers like Clark Gable. It underwent a $100 million dollar renovation barely a year ago that upgraded its room amenities significantly. For families, the rooms that open directly onto the outdoors at The Ranch at Death Valley are particularly appealing. At the time of writing, there are no regulations restricting out-of-state visitors, but always check the quarantine mandates for when you arrive back in your home state. Though it’s located in California, the best access point by plane is Las Vegas, a two-hour drive away.

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Tulsa, Oklahoma

There’s a newfound energy in Oklahoma’s second largest city—and one that doesn’t rely on oil. Recent additions include a neon sign park, nodding to its place on the iconic Route 66 (the longest drivable stretch slices right past Tulsa), as well as upgraded dining, including a 10-course tasting menu at FarmBar, the restaurant offshoot of a local farm and dairy. For the holidays, head to the Winter Wonderland at Tulsa’s fun park, Gathering Place, masterminded by some erstwhile Disney Imagineers. Oklahoma did not issue comprehensive pandemic-related guidelines, but Tulsa’s metropolitan authority has mandated mask-wearing and social distancing; read the full Tulsa Safely protocols here. Tulsa is keen to turn one-time visitors into long-term locals, so if you’re curious to make it a permanent home after a trip, check out Tulsa Remote, a program that incentivizes at-home workers to move here with a $10,000 grant.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

Machu Picchu, located in Cusco, will officially reopen its doors to international travelers, under a series of health rules and protocols. Our Globe Aware Peru program offers a separate tour to the famous Inca grounds, but requires booking ahead of time.


Peru: Machu Picchu reopens its doors to national and foreign tourists

The emblematic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, located in the Andean region of Cusco, will officially reopen its doors to national and foreign tourists today, under a series of health rules and protocols —after being closed for almost eight months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expectations caused by the reopening of this tourist jewel was so colossal that it caused entrance tickets —valid for local and national tourists thru November 15— to sell out fast.

The emotion —without any doubt— is immense, because tourism in Machu Picchu will officially resume, after a first attempt in July, which was discarded since coronavirus infections continued to increase in Cusco —the region hosting the citadel.

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Since Machu Picchu opened its doors for tourism purposes in 1948, it had only closed for two months in 2010, when a flood destroyed the railway from Cusco.

The numbers registered in Machu Picchu —declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on December 9, 1983— were impressive.

Before the pandemic began in Peru last March, between 2,000 and 3,000 people used to enter the citadel per day and in high season up to 5,000.

That month, on the last day of visits, 2,500 people were registered in the area.

Protocol

According to the protocol established to prevent the spread of COVID-19, daily access to the world wonder will be limited to 675 visitors per day —30% of the total authorized number in a normal season.

Visitors must enter the archaeological park in groups of 8 guests —including a guide— and must comply with social distancing of 1.5 to 2 meters.

Likewise, each sightseer must wear a face mask, avoid crowds, and have his/her temperature measured to verify that he/she do not have a fever, as part of the biosafety protocols at this stage of the new normality.

The official reopening ceremony will kick off today at 6:00 p.m. (local time).

Additional Info

  • Source Andina
Thursday, 29 October 2020 11:42

Safe Trick-or-Treating During the COVID-19

Globe Aware wishes our volunteers a safe and happy Halloween, whether you choose to stay home or travel. Make sure to follow these safety tips in order to enjoy the holiday weekend.


Is It Safe to Trick-or-Treat During the COVID-19 Pandemic? Experts Share Halloween Health Safety Tips

CDC health officials have ranked different holiday traditions by risk — and we asked a virologist and a researcher weigh in.

BY ZEE KRSTIC
Oct 28, 2020

While the novel coronavirus pandemic has interrupted many of our favorite holiday traditions, it seems many families are dead-set on celebrating Halloween during quarantine. A recent Harris Poll survey suggests that more than 70% of millennial moms are planning to make "the most" of Halloween with their families, with 80% of all surveyed saying that heading out to trick-or-treat is at the top of their list of things to do on Halloween.

But is trick-or-treating in 2020 safe? It's a complicated question: Activities like house parties and school dances carry more risk, but trick-or-treating outside (especially in areas where outbreaks are mitigated) is less risky. But heading outside won't eliminate all of the risks you must consider, as health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight risk factors that can impede your fun even in the open air.

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"In an area where there's still ongoing community spread [and things] haven't gotten to the point where things are opening up again, I don't think trick-or-treating is a great idea," explains Sandra Kesh, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and the deputy medical director at New York's Westmed Medical Group. "In areas where the community prevalence is lower, I think it's okay to plan to trick-or-treat, but it's going to be a different experience than it was last year."

Believe it or not, the biggest risk in trick-or-treating may not be the candy you or your kids will be receiving from each of your neighbors: "[Scientists] have found that most of the surface [bacteria], it's thought to not be the main mode of SARS-CoV-2 transmission… Getting a piece of candy from a house, bringing it home, and then eating it, I think that's less problematic," Dr. Kesh says.

But we may still have to adapt the way we distribute candy, as CDC officials maintain that having children head door to door comes with the most risk this Halloween. With consideration to families wishing to celebrate the holiday this year, the CDC breaks down activities that carry more risk than other socially-distanced options. These kinds of plans are considered among "higher risk" for Americans:

  1. Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door.
  2. Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
  3. Attending crowded costume parties held indoors.
  4. Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.
  5. Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.
  6. Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

CDC officials say risk can be lowered in a multitude of ways, mainly by keeping activities to your own home or backyard, or in a controlled walk around the neighborhood. Carving pumpkins, decorating your home inside and on the front porch as well as in the backyard, virtual Halloween costume contests, or movie nights at home. The lowest risk comparative to traditional trick-or-treating may be doing a "scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance."

As more information about the coronavirus pandemic develops, some of the information in this story may have changed since it was last updated. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit the online resources provided by the CDC, WHO, and your local public health department. You can view the CDC's full Halloween safety guidelines here.

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The main risks when it comes to trick-or-treating are:

While the CDC offers many different alternatives to traditional trick-or-treating, if you're still thinking about organizing a trick-or-treat outing, independent health experts say these considerations should be front of mind. The most significant risk may hinge on who you're actually trick-or-treating with, because close contact is defined as those "who are within six feet of you for more than 10 to 15 minutes," Dr. Kesh explains.

  1. Joining a big group of trick-or-treaters: Planning to team up with a group of friends to trick-or-treat this Halloween? Know that visiting people from another household or staying close together for hours on end brings with it a risk of transmission, especially in tight quarters where kids can't keep their masks on (no haunted houses this year!).

  2. Face-to-face exposure: Hopefully, your "trick or treat?" interaction at any given doorway or front porch is very brief, which means there's less risk here. But the more households you visit, the greater the chance that germs may be spread and linger — especially as others head from door to door, too.

  3. Touching candy, toys, doors and other surfaces: It's the least concerning risk for parents, as washing your hands frequently (or using hand sanitizer) can prevent little ones from carrying germs home. Parents should be concerned if their child is likely to rub their eyes, pick their nose, or put their fingers in their mouth while out and about with dirty hands.

Is it safe to trick or treat with friends?

House parties (or any event involving welcoming your neighbors into your home) aren't safe by any means, Dr. Kesh explains. But you can limit the COVID-19 risks associated with trick-or-treating outside your home by making sure your trick-or-treat group stays small. "I wouldn't have a big pack of 10 kids from school going out together; I would limit it to 3 or 4 kids at most, and choose those who you know have also been practicing social distancing," Dr. Kesh explains, adding that some families may choose to trick-or-treat alone simply because they have at-risk family members at home.

And of course, wear a mask. Since Halloween already involves plenty of masks, it should be easy to incorporate a face covering into your child's costume, Dr. Kesh says. Nearly all parents should also be wearing a face mask, too, but if a costume involves a mask that doesn't sufficiently cover the face, consider skipping it altogether in favor of a regular cloth mask. "Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume mask makes it hard to breathe," the CDC advises. "Instead, consider using a Halloween-themed cloth mask."

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Other ways to keep your trick-or-treating session safe:

  • Establish ground rules. "Your child shouldn't be digging around a candy bowl, touching multiple pieces. Ask them to choose one and stick with it," Dr. Kesh advises. "And while it's hard to ask kids not to run around the street, you should ask them to stay as far away from people outside of your household, to continue to do social distancing even outside."
  • Don't share props, toys or bowls. Keep the swords, wands and tiaras from being passed around if you can. Ask each of your children to hold onto their own candy bags.
  • Bring hand sanitizer, and practice not touching your face. "It's always good to take a break, do a check in and give kids some hand sanitizer to clean their hands between multiple homes," Dr. Kesh adds. This is also an opportunity to give kids a break from wearing a mask if they need it, in a safe spot away from others where they can remove their mask with clean hands.

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Should I answer the door for trick-or-treaters?

You're not a holiday grinch if you decide to skip handing out candy this year. "The best thing you can do to reduce your risk is to limit your interaction with others as much as possible," explains Molly Hyde, MHS, CIC, an infection control practitioner in Maryland-based GBMC Healthcare. "If you are going to hand out candy in person, make sure you are wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth when giving out candy."

Hyde says COVID-19 risk is lower if the face-to-face interaction is kept short, but you can also wash your hands frequently to ensure you're not accidentally bringing germs back into your house. It goes without saying that you should also keep all strangers outside of your home, and on your front porch or in your front yard instead. Dr. Kesh adds that at the end of the night, it might be a good idea to disinfect any doorknobs, doorbells, buzzers or other high-touch surfaces outside your home.

Should I use a candy bowl this Halloween?

If you're anxious about COVID-19, a candy bowl is a perfectly acceptable solution for trick-or-treaters and their hosts. "If you're at higher risk for severe coronavirus symptoms, I think a candy bowl is the way to go, especially if you live in a high transmission area," Dr. Kesh explains. As a courtesy to your neighbors, you might consider grouping candy in grab-and-go bags that each visitor can take — it reduces the need for kids to reach into a communal bowl. You can have a bit of fun creating Halloween goodie bags that can be simply left on your porch for visitors to take.

Should I travel to a different neighborhood to trick or treat or for an event?

The short answer: No. Officials at the CDC say that traveling to a seasonal locale for trick-or -treating or any sort of local event tied to Halloween is among the riskiest things you can do this year. The reasoning for that, Dr. Kesh explains, is that every community has a different rate of infection or COVID-19 spread. Traveling can either contribute to an outbreak in local cases in your destination, or should you become sick, your Halloween excursion could cause an uptick in cases in your own neighborhood when you return.

States have different regulations for visitors from neighboring states and travelers in general (AARP has compiled a master list right here). You should refrain from using public transportation to pursue trick-or-treating, but you may be able to visit locally sponsored drive-by parades or socially distanced community events in your state by car. If your family has an annual Halloween tradition that pulls you to an attraction or event in a nearby state, check the organizers' COVID-19 response first before you plan to head out this year — there's a good chance that safety guidelines has caused them to cancel altogether.

Should I disinfect my child's candy?

Don't freak out if your child rips open a chocolate bar and pops it into their mouth while trick-or-treating. "It isn't thought to be transmitted this way, but we always worry about the risk of touching something that's carrying infected matter," Dr. Kesh explains. "Try to really encourage your kids to hold off on eating candy until you get home, and make sure they wash their hands first."

It's true that SARS-CoV-2 particles can last up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces, but this landmark discovery was made in a laboratory setting, and most Halloween candy holds less surface area to harbor germs. Disinfecting each candy wrapper may be a bit over the top, Dr. Kesh explains, especially since you can naturally allow any potentially infectious surface germs to die off with time. "Something that you can also do is to put most of the candy away for the first three days that it's in your home, and then the rest of the candy is safe to eat after the time has passed," she advises.

Additional Info

  • Source Good Housekeeping

Globe Aware volunteers can visit some of these haunted sites on their volunteer vacation! Locations include South Africa, Rajasthan, Romania, Puerto Rico and Mexico!


 

43 Most Haunted Places in the World That Are Beautifully Scary

Even the faint of heart will find something to love.

BY CAITLIN MORTON
October 18, 2019

Nothing beats a good ghost story on Halloween, and our planet is chock full of 'em: UFO sightings in Transylvania, murders on luxury cruise ships, and spirits wandering the halls of British castles. No matter where you're traveling, you're sure to find some sort of haunted site, as well as a ghost tour to go along with it. But even if you're not a fan of paranormal activities, some of the spookiest locations are still worth your time, whether for their beautiful architecture, jaw-dropping locations, or fascinating histories. Here, the 43 most haunted places in the world you'll want to visit any day of the year—not just on October 31.

Hoia-Baciu Forest, Romania

From the moment a military technician captured a photograph of a "UFO" hovering over the forest in 1968, Hoia-Baciu has gained paranormal notoriety around the world, with some believing it to be a portal that causes visitors to disappear. Those who have passed through the forest without being zapped into another realm have reported rashes, nausea, and feelings of anxiety, according to The Independent. Known as the "Bermuda Triangle of Transylvania," the spooky curved trees that populate the forest just add to the eerie atmosphere.

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Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Canada

Built in 1888 to encourage tourism and sell train tickets, this chateau-style hotel sits pretty by the Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park. But it gets a tad more Gothic once you get inside—and we aren't talking about the architecture. The Calgary Herald has reported several resident ghosts, including a bride who supposedly fell down the stone staircase during her wedding. But there’s a less tragic spirit, too: Sam the bellman, who worked at the hotel until 1975 and claimed he’d come back to haunt the joint. His spirit supposedly pulls shifts helping people with their bags before disappearing.

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Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA

The castle-like Eastern State Penitentiary took solitary confinement to new levels when it was built in 1829. Prisoners lived alone, exercised alone, and ate alone; when an inmate left his cell, a guard would cover his head with a hood so he couldn't see or be seen. The prison had to abandon its solitary system due to overcrowding in 1913, although the forms of punishment did not get any less severe (chaining an inmate's tongue to his wrists is one example) before it closed for good in 1970. The site now welcomes thousands of visitors every year, both for its museum and Halloween celebrations. Reported paranormal happenings have included disembodied laughter, shadowy figures, and pacing footsteps.

Bhangarh Fort, India

Located just 100 miles southwest of Delhi, the lush ruins of Bhangarh Fort make for a curious juxtaposition against the desert landscape of Rajasthan. To this day, the oasis remains largely uninhabited due to an alleged curse cast by a disgruntled sorcerer after his advances were rebuffed by a local princess. If you prefer your trips to skew more spiritual than haunted, Traveler's former editor-at-large Hanya Yanagihara suggests saluting the sun during a session of pre-dusk yoga at the site.

Château de Brissac, Brissac-Quincé, France

One of the tallest castles in all of France, the seven-story Château de Brissac is perhaps best known as the home of "The Green Lady," aka the ghost of Charlotte of France. The chateau's website tells the legend of Charlotte, the illegitimate daughter of King Charles VII, who was murdered by her husband after he discovered her having an affair. Named for the color of her dress when she was killed, the Green Lady can be found roaming the chapel's tower room and moaning in the early hours of morning.

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Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, CO

The Stanley Hotel's stately Georgian architecture and world-renowned whiskey bar have lured travelers to Estes Park since opening in 1909, but the hotel reached new levels of fame after inspiring Stephen King to create the The Shining's fictional Overlook Hotel. That eerie association aside, many other ghost sightings and some mysterious piano music have been connected to the hotel, and the Stanley Hotel leans into its reputation with nightly ghost tours and psychic consultations from the in-house Madame Vera.

La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina

You don't have to be religious to be moved by La Recoleta Cemetery, which features thousands of statues, mausoleums, fairytale grottoes, and intricate tombstones, as well as the remains of Argentina's most iconic figure—Eva Perón. The stone walkways and labyrinth of mausoleums are as beautiful as they are eerie, and Recoleta has a couple haunted legends of its own. One of the most famous stories involves David Alleno, a former grave-digger and caretaker who worked at the cemetery for 30 years before killing himself. Today, people report hearing Alleno's keys jangling as his ghost walks the pathways at dawn.

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Tower of London, England

Built by William the Conqueror in 1066, this uncompromising fortress has had many functions. But it’s best known for its bloody history as a prison and execution site—Henry VIII famously ordered the execution of two of his wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, here. It's also where two young princes were imprisoned after the death of their father, King Edward IV; they disappeared shortly after in 1483, and their remains weren't found until 1647. Unsurprisingly, ghost stories of the Tower's victims—and ghost tours through Historic Royal Palaces—abound.

Jazirat Al Hamra, United Arab Emirates

You'll find the nearly-abandoned town of Jazirat Al Hamra about 14 miles southwest of Ras Al Khaimah in northern UAE—located between a huge mall and a huge waterpark. Established in the 14th century, the town grew into a thriving pearl fishing village in the 1830s before it was suddenly abandoned in 1968. The town now consists of dirt roads, 13 mosques, and more than 300 coral-and-mud houses—and, of course, some resident spirits. People claim that visitors are bound to experience strange noises and chilling apparitions, usually djinns (genies) in the form of animals.

St. Augustine Lighthouse, FL

The St. Augustine Lighthouse is visited by nearly 225,000 people annually, but it's just as well-known for its otherworldly visitors. Several tragic events that occurred at the now-historic site have contributed to the alleged paranormal activity. The ghost of a lighthouse keeper who fell to his death while painting the tower has been spotted watching over the grounds. And ever since the horrific death of three young girls, who drowned when the cart they were playing in broke and fell into the ocean, visitors have claimed to hear the sounds of children playing in and around the lighthouse.

Whaley House, San Diego, CA

Thomas Whaley built this family estate in 1857, on the former site of San Diego's first public gallows. Shortly after he moved in, he reported hearing the heavy footsteps of "Yankee" Jim Robinson, a drifter and thief who was hanged on the site four years before the house was built. Whaley's family history ended up being filled with tragic deaths and suicides—many of which occurred inside the home itself. According to the Whaley House Museum, some of the family members still haunt the landmark, often accompanied by cigar smoke and the smell of heavy perfume.

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Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

People have been placing crosses at this spot in northern Lithuania since the 14th century, and for various reasons: Throughout the medieval period, the symbols expressed a desire for Lithuanian independence. Then, after a peasant uprising in 1831, people began adding to the site in remembrance of dead rebels, and the hill became a place of defiance once again during Soviet occupation from 1944 to 1991. While the hill and crosses were bulldozed by Soviets three times, locals kept rebuilding it—there are now more than 100,000 crosses crowded together. "As the wind blows across the fields of rural Siauliai County, ornate rosaries clink against metal and wooden crucifixes, filling the air with eerie chimes," Egle Gerulaityte wrote for the BBC in 2017.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

One of the biggest attractions in Scotland’s capital city is also considered to be one of its most haunted. With sections dating back more than 900 years, the historic fortress’s ancient dungeons have led visitors to the castle to report sightings of colonial prisoners from the American Revolutionary War, French prisoners from the Seven Years War—and even the ghost of a dog wandering the castle's dog cemetery.

Forsyth Park, Savannah, GA

The entire city of Savannah is pretty much one giant ghost story, due in large part to the mysterious tunnels that run below the town's streets. The underground structures play a major role in many of Savannah's most haunted locations, including Forsyth Park, the fountained green space you probably recognize from a postcard or two. According to Savannah Magazine, doctors at the adjacent Candler Hospital (now the Savannah Law School) performed autopsies in the tunnels below. Maria Pinheiro, a historian and spokesperson with Ghost City Tours, says these below-the-surface rumblings make Forsyth Park particularly ripe for sightings of shadowy, now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t figures.

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Obvodny Canal, St. Petersburg, Russia

Running five miles through St. Petersburg, the Obvodny Canal goes by another, much more sinister name: Suicide Canal. Ever since the artificial canal started being built in the late 18th century, strange events have surrounded the site, including construction workers complaining of headaches, sudden outbursts of violence, and, of course, suicides. While most of the suicide attempts have been successful, people who have been saved claim they don't know why they jumped in the water, or an invisible force pulled them off the banks. Some claim the force comes from restless souls lurking beneath the water, even claiming to see a woman in white floating just beneath the surface before suddenly disappearing. So if you ever find yourself in St. Petersburg on a gloomy day, maybe stick to the sidewalks.

Oriental Theater (formerly Iroquois Theater), Chicago

Ghosts are said to haunt the Oriental Theater (formerly the Iroquois Theater) in the Loop area of downtown Chicago, where almost 600 people perished after a fire famously broke out in 1903, writes Atlas Obscura. Even though the theater was completely rebuilt and rebranded, spirits of the dead remained: apparitions have been seen in "Death Alley," the street behind the theater where bodies were stacked after the disaster (and a common stop on many a Chicago ghost tour).

Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England

Built around 1620, the 7000-acre Raynham Hall is one of the most impressive estates in Norfolk. As is the case with most historic buildings, the home also has its fair share of legends and ghost stories, most notably ones surrounding Lady Dorothy ("Dolly") Townshend. Dolly was the wife of Viscount "Turnip" Townshend, and the couple lived in Raynham Hall during the 18th century, during which time Dolly was reportedly locked up in the house by her husband. Lady Dorothy's ghost is now said to haunt the estate, as "proven" by a photo taken of her in the 1930s. "No one has proved the picture taken of her is a fake," Lord Charles Raynham (the home's current resident) told the BBC.

Höfði House, Reykjavik, Iceland

Overlooking Reykjavik's waterfront, the Höfði House is most famous for hosting a meeting between Ronald Regan and Michael Gorbachev in 1986, a historic moment during the end of the Cold War. The house has housed many other famous figures over the years, including Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill, and Marlene Dietrich, plus a handful of British ambassadors. It was one such ambassador who first experienced "The White Lady," a ghost who many believe to be a victim of suicide. The phantom lady apparently caused so much panic and distress, the ambassador persuaded the British Foreign office to sell the house immediately.

The Forbidden City, Beijing, China

No trip to Beijing is complete without a visit to the Forbidden City, China's former imperial palace that now serves as a museum. But you might not know that the popular tourist destination has quite the reputation among supernatural enthusiasts. During its 600-year tenure as a palace, the complex had its fair share of murders, whether from jealous concubines poisoning one another or executions performed at the emperor's behest. Needless to say, there have been many reports of strange phenomena since the palace opened to the public in the 1940s. The most common story involves a woman dressed in white (as most good ghost stories do) strolling around the grounds and sobbing.

RMS Queen Mary, Long Beach, CA

Aside from a brief stint as a war ship in World War II, the RMS Queen Mary served as a luxury ocean liner from 1936 to 1967. During that time, it was the site of at least one murder, a sailor being crushed to death by a door in the engine room, and children drowning in the pool. The city of Long Beach purchased the ship in 1967 and turned it into a hotel, and it still serves that purpose today—although the reported ghosts of the deceased passengers get to stay for free. (For an extra dose of spine-tingling experiences, try and visit the ship's engine room, considered by many to be a "hotbed" of paranormal activity.)

Leap Castle, Coolderry, Ireland

Built some time between the 13th and late 15th century, this Irish castle has seen more gruesome deaths than a Game of Thrones wedding. As legend has it, during a struggle for power within the O'Carroll clan (which had a fondness for poisoning dinner guests), one member plunged a sword into his brother—a priest—as he was holding mass in the castle's chapel. The room is now called "The Bloody Chapel," and the priest is said to haunt the church at night. The horror doesn't end there—at least not according to the macabre history outlined on Leap Castle's website. During renovations in the early 1900s, workmen found a secret dungeon in the Bloody Chapel with so many human skeletons, they filled three cartloads when hauled away. The dungeon was designed so that prisoners would fall through a trap door, have their lungs punctured by wooden spikes on the ground, and die a slow, horrific death within earshot of the sinister clan members above.

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Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town, South Africa

A sprawling building near the shoreline of Table Bay, the Castle of Good Hope dates back to 1666, making it the oldest colonial building in South Africa. Originally built by the Dutch East India Company as a replenishment station for ships, the site also served as a military fortress and prison during the Second Boer War from 1899 to 1902. Today, you can tour the fort's many rooms and buildings (including the gruesome torture chamber) but you might want to prepare yourself for a ghost sighting. Back in the 1700s, Governor Pieter van Noodt condemned several men to be hanged to death; one of the men cursed the governor from the gallows, and van Noodt died of a heart attack later that day. According to the Castle of Good Hope's official website, his ghost has been haunting the battlements ever since.

Crumlin Road Gaol, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Crumlin Road Gaol, a Victorian-era prison in Belfast, is said to be one of the most haunted sites in Ireland. Often referred to Europe's Alcatraz, the jail contained some 25,000 inmates (men, women, and children) during its 150 years of operation, publicly hung many prisoners, and buried their bodies within the prison walls. The institution officially shut its doors in 1996, but the ghosts of deceased inmates are said to still roam the iron walkways today. If this sounds like the sort of place you want to spend time in, you're in luck—Crumlin Road Gaol offers daily tours, live concerts, and reasonably priced meals at its in-house (in-prison?) restaurant. It even serves as a venue for conferences and....weddings.

Poveglia Island, Venice, Italy

Less than half a mile from the canals of Venice, Poveglia Island has served as a quarantine zone for bubonic plague victims, storage space for Napoleon's weapons, and the site of an early 20th-century insane asylum. The asylum played host to horrific medical experiments, reports The Travel Channel, and finally closed for good when a doctor threw himself off the institution's bell tower. Locals still claim to hear echoing chimes from the island—even though the bell was removed decades ago. It's illegal to visit Poveglia today, but you can see the island and decaying hospital safely from the beaches of nearby Lido.

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Catacombs of Paris, France

After a prolonged bout of heavy rains flooded and unearthed the overcrowded Les Innocents cemetery in the spring of 1780, a wave of rotting corpses tumbled onto the property next door. According to Smithsonian Mag, this horrifying event started a 12-year project to move bodies from Paris's cemeteries down into the city's former limestone quarries, eventually packing the underground tunnels with some 6 million bodies. Today, about a mile of the subterranean labyrinth is open to visitors, who can take tours of the tunnels and artfully arranged displays of bones.

Larnach Castle, New Zealand

Larnach was built between 1871 and 1887 to serve as the residence of William Larnach, a prominent local politician. Most notable is a 3,000-square-foot ballroom, which Larnach had built as a 21st birthday present for his favorite daughter Kate, who later died of typhoid at age 26, and is said to still haunt the ballroom. Don’t chalk those taps on your shoulder and whispers in your ear as all up to imagination: The building has been visited by paranormal investigators and featured on Ghost Hunters International.

Ancient Ram Inn, Wotton-under-Edge, England

Built in 1145, England's Ancient Ram Inn has played many roles over the centuries: a former priest's residence, housing for masons and slaves, an inn, and a public house. It also happens to be one seriously haunted spot. Architectural Digest writes: "With ghostly children, a high priestess, and even an incubus (Google it, but don’t say you weren’t warned) wandering the halls, guests have reportedly leapt from the windows in a frenzy to escape."

Xunantunich, Belize

Deep in the jungles of Belize, less than a mile from the Guatemala border, Xunantunich is an ancient Mayan ruin that has sat abandoned for the past millennium. An earthquake caused the original civilization to crumble, but the complex was re-discovered by explorers in the 1890s. Since then, Xunantunich has served as an important archaeological site, under-the-radar tourist attraction, and hotbed of ghostly sightings. The ancient city is said to be haunted by one female ghost—a black-haired lady with red, glowing eyes. She was first spotted by one of the earliest research teams in 1893, and has been spotted near El Castillo (the tallest building in the complex) many times since then. No one knows exactly who the so-called "Stone Lady" is, but many speculate that she may have been a human sacrifice whose death ritual was performed on the top of the El Castillo pyramid.

Eden Brown Estate, Nevis

Often overshadowed by neighboring St. Kitts, Nevis has just as much to offer travelers—in fact, it offers even more for the more morbidly-inclined. Case in point: The Eden Brown Estate, a former plantation that now lies in ruins. The estate was originally owned by a wealthy businessman who intended to give the property to his daughter as a wedding present. However, a mysterious duel between the groom and the best man left both men dead the day of the wedding, and the the daughter remained unmarried and alone for the rest of her life. Today, many visitors say they have seen the reclusive woman's spirit roaming throughout the estate.

Ponte Sisto, Rome, Italy

In a city as ancient as Rome, practically every brick in every building has a story that goes along with it. In some cases, those stories are downright creepy. One such story surrounds the Ponte Sisto, a romantic bridge spanning the Tiber near Rome's city center. Local legend has it that if you visit the bridge at sunrise, you'll see a charging carriage helmed by the ghost of Olimpia Maidalchini, Pope Innocent X's advisor (hence her nickname, the "female pope"). The spectral occurrence is said to be Olimpia's attempt to flee the city with the church's gold, just as she allegedly did after Pope Innocent X's death in 1655. While the Ponte Sisto is closed to pedestrian traffic, you can visit the bridge as part of Dark Rome's daily “Ghosts, Mysteries and Legends of Rome Night Walking Tour.”

The Langham Hotel, London, England

The spirits are so active at this 153-year-old hotel, they drove out several English national team cricket players back in 2014, who cited sudden heat and lights, and an unexplained presence during the night. Ghosts have long been associated with the tony hotel, says Visit Britain, and it's thought to house elite spirits such as former resident Emperor Louis Napoleon III and a German prince who jumped to his death from his upper-level window.

Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls), Mexico

Despite its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its well-preserved example of Aztec life, the neighborhood of Xochimilco has reached a certain amount of internet fame for its Island of the Dolls. Hidden among the region’s many canals, the site is famous for the hundreds of dolls—and doll parts—hanging from trees and scattered among the grass. While it might look more like a horror movie set, the chinampa (akin to an artificial island) used to be the residence of a now-deceased man named Julian Santa Barrera. After finding a dead girl's body in a nearby canal, Barrera collected and displayed the toys in the hopes of warding off evil spirits, reports National Geographic. Daring souls can hire their own boat and view the island safely from the water.

Borgvattnet Haunted Vicarage, Ragunda, Sweden

Originally built in 1876, weird happenings have been noted in this parsonage since the 1960s. The gray wooden structure now serves as a bed and breakfast in a rural area with snowmobiling, fishing, and...not a lot else. Guests at Borgvattnet have claimed to hear footsteps, music, and the sound of three crying ladies coming from the inn—and the proprietors will reward you with a certificate that says you stayed through the night.

Teatro Tapia, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is known for its natural beauty and rich history, the latter of which lends itself quite well to eerie experiences. One of the most famous spooky sites on the island is Teatro Tapia, a San Juan theater known for its plays, concerts, and paranormal activity. According to urban myth, an actress who fell to her death while performing at the theater returned to haunt the venue. Some visitors claim to have seen her ghost wandering the theater grounds, with others report mysterious footsteps, doors swinging open and shut, and an unseen choir of voices coming from the stage. Teatro Tapia still holds frequent ballet and music performances, so purchase a ticket to see some local acts—and maybe a local ghost while you're at it.

Lawang Sewu, Semarang, Indonesia

Built in the early 20th century by Dutch colonialists, Lawang Sewu (or "Thousand Doors") served as head office for the Dutch East Indian Railway Company before the Japanese turned it into a detention camp during WWII. During the war, many harsh interrogations, tortures, and violent executions occurred within the building's walls—all of which contribute to its current status as one of Indonesia's most haunted sites, says the country's Ministry of Tourism. Tourists are free to visit the abandoned site today, perhaps to confirm whether the many circulating ghost stories tied to Lawang Sewu have any truth to them.

Aokigahara Forest, Japan

This seemingly serene forest at the foot of Mount Fuji has a tormented past. Colloquially known as “Suicide Forest,” Aokigahara has been the site of 500 reported suicides since the 1950s, reports the BBC. Some blame this trend on the forest’s association with demons in Japanese mythology. Others point towards large underground deposits of iron, which interfere with compasses and make it easy to get lost. In fact, many hikers will mark their path with tape or string to make it easier to find their way back out again.

Port Arthur, Tasmania

Port Arthur began as a penal colony in 1833, housing British convicts until it was abandoned in 1877. During those decades, the island—touted as "inescapable"—focused on correcting the inmates' morality, using methods like solitary confinement and mandatory church services. The settlement has been a destination for curious tourists since the time of its abandonment, and was officially preserved as a historical site in 1979. Today, you'll find what The New York Times describes as "an impressive apparatus for remembering, complete with a ferry, interactive exhibit for children and well-trained guides." Ghost tours are available of the ruins and open-air museum, as well as the nearby "Isle of the Dead," an island housing the bodies of deceased convicts in unmarked graves.

Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, India

Dubbed one of the best hotels in India by our readers, the five-star Taj Mahal Palace is located right in the heart of Mumbai. Yet along with amazing views and interiors fit for a royal, one of the hotel's more macabre claims to fame is its aura of mystery. According to legend, the building's architect jumped to his death from the fifth floor after discovering the hotel was facing the wrong direction. His spirit now roams the halls, running into guests in the hallways and walking around the roof.

Dock Street Theatre, Charleston, SC

Renovated in 2010, Charleston's Dock Street Theatre is a beautiful downtown venue, hosting plays and concerts throughout the year. But the site has quite a tumultuous history, according to Charleston's official city website. Aside from a fire burning town the original theater in 1740, the building suffered damage from an earthquake in 1886 and fell into abandon during the early 20th century. To make matters even more spooky, a prostitute named Nettie Dickerson was supposedly struck by lightning while standing on the balcony in the mid-1800s, and her ghost is said to glide along the theater's second floor.

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Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, CA

Following the death of her husband, rifle magnate William Wirt Winchester, Sarah Winchester commissioned a Victorian labyrinth designed to repel the vengeful spirits of the lives taken by her husband’s guns. The sprawling Queen Anne–style mansion—comprising four stories, 160 rooms, 10,000 window panes, and 47 stairways—is appointed with curious elements, like staircases leading directly into the ceiling and windows opening onto secret passages. This year, the Winchester House is hosting a line-up of activities for Halloween, including a themed dinner, trick-or-treat trail for kids, and "Unhinged," which is touted as an "immersive horror experience" through November 2. Check out the website for more details.

Canberra, Australia

Much like Savannah, the entire city of Canberra seems to be a paranormal hotspot—especially when it comes to the buildings in the Parliamentary Triangle. Hotel Kurrajong, a four-star hotel with some serious A-list ghosts roaming its halls, is thought to house the ghost of former Prime Minister Ben Chifley, who died on the night of June 13, 1951 after suffering a heart attack in room 214. His gray-suited ghost is known to appear in that same room from time to time, writes The Canberra Times. And then there's the Old Parliament House itself, where security guards and cleaning staff have reported hearing their names whispered in the night.

First World Hotel, Pahang, Malaysia

With 7,351 rooms, Malaysia's First World Hotel makes sure it has something for everyone on its massive guest list. There's an indoor theme park for thrill seekers, a tropical rainforest for nature lovers, and even a touch of paranormal activity for ghost hunters. Most legends involve wandering ghosts of high-rolling gamblers who committed suicide after losing everything at the in-house casinos. After staying in the hotel, one TripAdvisor user gave a firsthand account of his spooky stay, warning of "unseen forces pressing onto your body while you're sleeping."

Carl Beck House, Ontario, Canada

Built by lumber magnate Carl Beck in the late 1800s, this house in Penetanguishene is known as one of the most haunted houses in Ontario. According to legend, Beck and his family lived in the house together; after his wife passed away, the eldest daughter, Mary, was put in charge of raising the younger children. Years later, when Carl died, he inexplicably left Mary $1 in his will. Today, an angry, female ghost—presumably Mary—is said to appear in the upstairs windows. (You'd probably haunt the house too if your dad gave you a $1 inheritance. #TeamMary.) For any travelers curious in Victorian architecture with a side of paranormality, you can actually rent the Carl Beck House on Airbnb, starting at $95 per night.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

Traveling is fine if you're willing to be cautious, follow the rules and adapt easily to changes of plan. If you do choose to travel, Globe Aware is taking these precautions, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene.


 

Is it safe to travel for the holidays this year?

Marnie Hunter
CNN
October 20 2020

(CNN) — The end of the year is sneaking up, and people are weighing travel plans to join friends and family for the holidays -- all against the backdrop of a surge of the deadly pandemic.

Gathering with others -- probably the most universal holiday tradition -- has never required so much meticulous forethought.

Should you travel for the holidays in 2020? What precautions will make it safer? Who will be there and how careful have they been?

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that travel increases the chances of contracting and spreading Covid-19, and health officials are reminding people that clusters are emerging from gatherings of family and friends.

"We've seen a great deal of community spread from household gatherings," said Alex Azar, US Health and Human Services Secretary, on October 19.

Azar said people need to use common sense and assess the circumstances in the community to determine if they should have gatherings over the holidays.

CNN spoke with medical experts on how to reduce the risks around holiday travel and when you really should skip it altogether.

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Should you travel for the holidays this year?

"I think the threshold for travel at this time should still be higher than before the pandemic," says Dr. Henry Wu, director of Emory TravelWell Center and associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

"If you do choose to travel, try to keep gatherings small and take precautions," such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene, Wu said.

Traveling is fine if you're willing to be cautious, follow the rules and adapt easily to changes of plan, says Dr. Richard Dawood, a travel medicine specialist and director at Fleet Street Clinic in London. The United Kingdom is experiencing a rapid increase in coronavirus cases this fall.

"Probably not, if you are anxious or vulnerable," he says.

Who should skip it?

People who are especially vulnerable to severe Covid-19 illness are safest staying home.

"Are you older, are you frail, do you have chronic underlying illnesses?" are the questions to ask, says Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

People who are considering meeting up with vulnerable relatives or friends should really weigh the implications of introducing illness to them, Wu said.

"There are well-documented Covid-19 clusters associated with family gatherings, including ones that resulted in deaths," he said.

Are some locations safer than others?

Gatherings are likely safer in areas around the world where infections remain low, although the standard precautions still apply.

For example, it may be possible to have a "relatively normal" Thanksgiving gathering in parts of the United States where infections are very low, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"But in other areas of the country ... you'd better hold off and maybe just have immediate family," Fauci told CNN's Chris Cuomo in early October. As always, wear masks and keep gatherings small to reduce the risk of infection.

"I'd like to say that everything is going to be great by Thanksgiving, but honestly ... I'm not so sure it is," he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds people that the risk of infection increases when you travel from or to communities with high numbers and rate of disease.

Does testing provide protection?

Testing can help catch coronavirus infections before travel, Wu said,"but testing is not foolproof."

"It can be falsely negative, or just miss infections you are still incubating," he said. "You could certainly also get infected during travel and potentially infect others after that."

Testing can offer "a level of reassurance if the people who are attending are negative at the time they were tested," Schaffner said. "You still have to be cautious."

Would a vaccine make travel safe?

Even if a vaccine becomes available in time for the holidays, it's likely to provide partial protection much like the flu vaccine, says Schaffner.

If it's 70% effective, then three people out of every 10 won't be protected, plus a sizable percentage of the population won't have been vaccinated yet.

It's not a "suit of armor," he says, and the other standard precautions would still apply.

What's the safest way to get there?

Driving generally allows travelers more control of their interactions with other people than flying or other forms of communal transportation, the experts say.

"Your own vehicle, or a private jet!" is the safest way to travel, Dawood says.

Minimizing contact when you get out of the car is key, Schaffner says. Mask up when you're outside the vehicle, make very few, very brief stops and opt for drive-thru food over going inside a restaurant.

With air travel, "you're more at the mercy of what's happening around you," Schaffner said. Still, wearing masks, good hand hygiene and maintaining as much social distance as possible is important.

Should you stay with family?

Schaffner sees hotels as offering more control of your environment than staying in a relative's home, provided you avoid close encounters in elevators and other public areas and skip restaurant dining in favor of takeout or room service.

Whether you choose to stay in someone's home "has a lot to do with who's the relative and how careful have they been," Schaffner said.

Anytime you're gathering in close contact with friends or relatives, it's important to discuss these things in detail beforehand: Is anyone at elevated risk for severe disease? What kinds of precautions and risks are guests and hosts taking day to day?

Schaffner knows people who have stayed in the homes of friends or relatives after carefully quarantining for a couple of weeks before visiting or receiving guests. That's the kind of safety measure that's good to consider and agree upon in advance.

Wu doesn't have a strict answer on whether staying with friends and family or in a hotel is safer. A number of factors come into play, he says, including your ability to safely distance. For stays in the same house with other people, "consider if the family you are visiting has been able to isolate and take precautions," he says.

Can you safely gather with people outside your household?

Even if you do stay in a hotel, chances are good that you'll want to gather with other households to celebrate the holiday season.

Schaffner has been to relatives' homes during the pandemic and they've been to his, but they've stayed far apart and worn masks and only stayed together for a couple of hours, he says.

Food is served, but they sit at the far ends of the dining room table and take their masks off only to eat and drink.

"It is prudent to keep the mask on during a family gathering, especially if indoors and you (or others) have risk factors for severe illness," Wu said. Gathering outdoors is preferable, whenever possible.

In the United Kingdom, many areas have officially restricted the size of gatherings to control the spread of the virus.

"The 'rule of six' shows no sign of letting up, restricting gatherings to groups of six, but people are finding innovative ways to meet while respecting the rules, including 'drive-by' weddings, and setting a rota of events through the day," Dawood says.

Small, outdoor, socially distanced gatherings are safest.

"Large groups, especially if coming from different households or geographic locations, could increase the risk of infection," Wu said.

The very safest option? "Get a small turkey and stay at home," Schaffner says.

CNN Health's Jen Christensen contributed to this report.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 21 October 2020 05:00

Meet Kimberly Haley-Coleman

Meet Kimberly Haley-Coleman | Founder & CEO Globe Aware

October 21, 2020
Shoutout DFW

We had the good fortune of connecting with Kimberly Haley-Coleman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kimberly, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When stuck abroad on business over weekends, I sought meaningful, organized short-term volunteer experiences, and just couldn’t’ find any. When I started pulling together my own, I found so many others wanted to do these alongside me, that there was clearly a demand for these programs. Doing good is quite naturally one of the best ways to feel good.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Before Globe Aware, there were no organizations that offered short-term organized experiences abroad that were a good fit for most working North Americans. Most were geared toward high school and college students with weeks or a whole summer to burn, and were fairly unstructured, with the thought that you would eventually find out how to use your own time. Our culture is focused on productivity and making the most with the small amount of free time most of us have. This is at odds with the perspective in many cultures, especially those cultures that have less material resources. Therefore the big challenge was to find a way to tailor such experiences that would be provide a meaningful, productive opportunity to give back but would also NOT infringe on the local/receiving culture/way of life. Our staff coordinators in each country are the key to finding this balance. Additionally, the lions’ share of our peers in this industry will not used donated funds toward materials in the thought that it creates local dependency. We do not agree. Funds can be spent in a way that enable capacity rather than create dependency. As an example when we assemble and donate wheelchairs to landmine victims in Cambodia, they are given mobility in a way that allows them to support themselves. That is the magic win-win we week.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hands down, the Dallas Arboretum is my favorite place to take locals. It is such a glorious spot, every day of the year. I love that you can bring a picnic and your own wine and on certain “cool Tuesdays and Thursdays” listen to music and watch the sunset over downtown in the distance. For a meal, I also love taking out of towners to Pecan Lodge for the best bacon infused, sinful macaroni and cheese ever, and that ridiculously amazing brisket!

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Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am so grateful my tribe supported me, from my family to my friends, neighbors, and past colleagues. So many people stepped forward to help publicize my organization, I certainly would not have succeeded without them. I was shocked that we got so much media coverage. I remember early on when the NBC Today show did a story on us, without our knowledge. It really made me think that when you do something the world needs or wants, they then the world will enable you.

Additional Info

  • Source Shoutout DFW
Sunday, 18 October 2020 10:24

Travel Trends Look Positive for 2021

Finally. Travelers are preparing to pack their bags and take to the air, road and sea again, according to travel advisors who said bookings are gaining momentum for 2021 and beyond.


Interest in 2021 Travel Is on the Rise

CLAUDETTE COVEY
TRAVEL AGENT
OCTOBER 18, 2020

Finally. Travelers are preparing to pack their bags and take to the air, road and sea again, according to anecdotal reports from travel advisors, who said bookings are gaining momentum for 2021 and beyond.

“Interest for 2021 travel began to rise in the past few weeks for myself and for my colleagues,” said Becky Lukovic of Bella Travel Planning, a Travel Experts affiliate. “The requests are still pretty all over the place: Hawaii, Caribbean, Colorado, Italy and Greece. A number [of clients] have started actually booking their plans with refundable arrangements or cancel for any reason insurance.”

For Richard Turen of Churchill & Turen, clients’ interest has been increasing over the past three months. “Bookings for 2021 are within 15 percent of ‘normal,’” he said. “The number of guests planning more than one international trip in the 24 months beginning Jan. 1 is very close to the number that just have one trip deposited.”

Claire Schoeder of Elevations Travel, a Signature Travel Network affiliate, said she is witnessing an uptick in 2021 business, especially for the summer and fall in Europe. “Clients are optimistic that cases will decline and countries will once again be open,” she said. “Discussion of rapid tests at airports is helping, and some clients are optimistic about a vaccine.”

Both Schoeder and Turen noted that their cruise bookings have also been picking up steam.

“Surprisingly, the trust in cruise protocols seems to be way ahead of expressed uncertainties about the components that make up group touring involving travel by motorcoach. The consumer media may have gotten this one wrong,” Turen said.

What comes as less of a surprise is that agents are seeing strong sales to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. “Most of the vacations that I have booked for 2021 have been tropical beach vacations,” said Jemica Archer of TruBlue Travels. “People want to rest and relax after such an intense year. Mexico, Antigua and the Dominican Republic have been popular for us.”

While TruBlue Travels received some bookings for the first quarter of 2021, most reservations have been for the second quarter of the year. “I think people are still nervous about traveling during the pandemic – but I will say about 50 percent of my inquiries for travel have converted into reservations.”

travel 2021 globe aware

For her part, Sarah Kline of Time for Travel is seeing a boost in Caribbean and Mexico inquiries for the first quarter of next year. “My spring 2021-2022 weddings are booking in full force,” she said. “I am getting inquiries from new couples, as well as robust bookings from guests attending spring 2021 weddings. I think it’s because other family members are going so it feels safe.”

Although James Berglie of Be All Inclusive said he continues to receive a few cancellations from guests within groups that were already booked before the pandemic struck, there is nonetheless some good news. “At the same time, we are now seeing an equal number of guests requesting to upgrade their stays to higher-end room categories, and/or requesting to lengthen their stays,” he said. “Additionally we’ve seen a big increase in last-minute reservations, [for those] traveling within the next one-to-two months,” he said.

Berglie, too, noted that clients are expressing interest in Mexico and Caribbean destinations.

“Mexico and the Dominican Republic remain at the top of our guests’ lists as they are honestly narrowing down destinations by the number of hoops they have to jump through with regard to COVID restrictions,” he said. “Our guests are ready to vacation, and don’t want to have to worry about travel authorizations and test requirements.”

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse
Wednesday, 07 October 2020 10:56

Costa Rica Has Re-opened to All U.S. Travelers

Starting on November 1, all U.S. travelers will be welcome to Costa Rica. Globe Aware volunteers from all 50 states will be able to participate in any of three programs in Costa Rica, with proper safety guidelines and precautions taken.


Costa Rica Opens to All U.S. Travelers

Starting November 1, any American who presents a negative COVID-19 test can travel to Costa Rica.

By Michelle Baran
Oct 7, 2020

On September 1, Costa Rica began allowing international travelers from the United States to fly into the country as long as they were residents of one of the following eight states: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, or Virginia, plus the District of Columbia. Starting September 15, travelers from Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wyoming were able to join them. As of October 1, Californians could head to Costa Rica, too. And on October 15, residents of Florida, Georgia, and Texas get the green light.

But starting on November 1, all U.S. travelers will be welcome.

After closing its borders to international travelers on March 18 (other than to those who submitted to a 14-day quarantine order) to control the spread of coronavirus, the Central American country began welcoming international travelers back on August 1.

Since August 19, citizens and residents from these regions and countries have been able to enter Costa Rica: the European Union, the Schengen Zone, the United Kingdom, Canada, Uruguay, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, China, and New Zealand.

Starting in September, residents from the U.S. states listed above were welcomed back to Costa Rica—they must provide a driver’s license or a state I.D. as proof that they live in one of the authorized states. Beginning November 1, proof of residency will no longer be required.volcano costa rica

Travelers to Costa Rica must provide a negative COVID-19 test result

Before flying to Costa Rica, visitors will need to fill out an epidemiological ​health​ form online. All visitors (with the exception of minors traveling with their families) will also need to get a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnostic test (also known as the nasal swab test) and furnish evidence of a negative COVID-19 result that was procured within 72 hours prior to arrival in Costa Rica.

International arrivals will also be required to show proof of international health insurance coverage, either from their own provider or that they purchased in Costa Rica (local insurance policies authorized for travelers are available through the National Insurance Institute​ and through insurance company Sagicor). For international insurance policies, tourists must provide verification that their insurance company will cover them in Costa Rica; will cover at least $50,000 in medical expenses in the event they contract COVID-19 while in Costa Rica; and will cover a minimum of $2,000 in lodging expenses for any issues related to the pandemic (such as the need to quarantine).

Commercial flights are operating into and out of Costa Rica’s three international airports: Juan Santamaría International Airport outside of the capital San José, Daniel Oduber Quirós Airport in Liberia, and Tobías Bolaños Airport in San José. Starting on September 13, United Airlines added daily flights from Houston, Texas, to Juan Santamaría International Airport, and three flights a week from Houston to Daniel Oduber Quirós Airport. United plans to add flights from Newark International Airport to Juan Santamaría International Airport and to Daniel Oduber Quirós Airport in October as well as flights from Colorado. American Airlines is adding flights to Daniel Oduber Quirós Airport from Miami and from Dallas, Texas. Delta plans to fly to Costa Rica from Atlanta, Georgia, as well.

Starting October 15, American Airlines customers traveling from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to Costa Rica will have access to the airline’s newly implecement preflight COVID-19 testing program. The options for getting tested prior to the Dallas–Costa Rica flights will be an at-home test kit provided by LetsGetChecked (with results provided within 48 hours on average) that costs $129, including shipping; in-person testing at a CareNow urgent care location in the Dallas area; or a rapid-result test administered by CareNow at the DFW airport. American has not yet said what the in-person tests will cost. At-home testing will also be available for the Miami to Costa Rica flights.

In Costa Rica, travelers must wear masks at the airport and comply with local health regulations, including practicing physical distancing. As of August 31, hotels in Costa Rica are allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity, with the exception of public areas, which will be required to limit capacity to 50 percent. For up-to-date information and guidelines regarding COVID-19, travelers can visit the Ministry of Health’s website.

During the pause in tourism arrivals, Costa Rica tourism officials focused on training the workforce on new coronavirus-friendly health and sanitation guidelines and protocols. Costa Rica was recently recognized by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) through its “Safe Travels” stamp for its commitment to updated health and safety measures.

Additional Info

  • Source Afar

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has a giveaway that will send five deserving essential workers and one guest on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Thailand. We encourage Globe Aware volunteers and alumni who are amazing essential workers to participate in this giveaway!


 

Thailand to Award Vacations to Essential Workers Amid COVID-19

DESTINATION & TOURISM
LAURIE BARATTI
OCTOBER 11, 2020

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has partnered with U.S. digital media company Matador Network on a giveaway contest that will send five deserving essential workers and one guest on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Thailand.

It’s part of TAT’s ongoing ‘Thailand Gives Back to Heroes’ project, an initiative aimed at returning the kindness of those who have risked their own well-being to work on the COVID-19 pandemic’s frontlines.

Now through November 8, 2020, the public can go online to submit themselves or any other eligible essential worker for consideration through TAT’s nomination portal.

Nominators must provide a synopsis of their reasons why their nominee deserves to win a free trip to Thailand, describing how this person has made a difference amid the unforeseen challenges of 2020.

Essential workers can come from a variety of fields and might include healthcare workers, grocery store staff, police, firefighters, postal workers, teachers and more.

“We forever appreciate the selfless commitment of each of the United States' frontline heroes. We know that you deserve this time to rejuvenate your mind and body as we continue to fight against these uncertain situations,” said Charinya Kiatlapnachai, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand.

chiang mai 1670926 1920

The “Land of Smiles” has achieved a reputation as a wellness destination, whose culture, cuisine, traditions, art, landscapes and adventures are excellent restoratives for the mind, body and spirit. Thailand is also among the world’s safest destinations to visit amid COVID-19, thanks to rigorous travel protocols and enhanced hygienic standards that were established early on and country-wide.

The five chosen winners and one guest will receive round-trip premium economy air transportation (where available) to either Chiang Mai, Bangkok or Phuket and five nights’ stay, including daily breakfast, at one of three boutique hotels Raya Heritage in Chiang Mai, The Siam Hotel in Bangkok or Amatara Wellness Resort in Phuket.

The five winners will be announced on December 18, 2020, on the giveaway’s webpage and through Matador Network’s social media channels.

Prize recipients must make their reservations by August 31, 2021, and complete their travel by September 30, 2021. Official terms and rules of the contest are available here.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse
Tuesday, 06 October 2020 10:57

New Airline Technology on the Horizon

Flying has given travelers around the world great personal and professional travel opportunities, therefore the emphasis has got to be on solving the emissions and the carbon problems. The introduction of hydrogen airplanes and the extent of its environmental benefit could be a game changer. Globe Aware believes in green travel and looks forward to their arrival.


Why this space age airplane could change flying forever

(CNN) — It looks like a spaceship, runs on fuel that up until a few years ago experts were calling "crazy," and has barely left the drawing board, but in the eyes of one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers, it's undoubtedly the future.

Not even the distant future. Airbus hopes we'll be soaring into the skies on one of its radical new designs in just 15 years, leaving the days of jet engine pollution and flight-shaming far behind us.

The blended wing aircraft is one of a trinity of eco-friendly hydrogen-fueled models unveiled recently by Airbus as part of its ambitions to spearhead the decarbonization of the aviation industry.

It's a bold plan, and one that just a few short months ago might have seemed fanciful as demand for fossil fuel-powered air travel continued to rise, apparently immune to growing environmental concerns.

But the arrival of Covid-19 and its impact on aviation could've inadvertently cleared a flight path of opportunity for efforts to rethink the technology of getting the world up into the air.

Airbus has baptized its new program ZEROe. The designs revealed aren't prototypes but a starting point to explore the tech needed in order to start building the first climate-neutral commercial planes.

"How can you possibly emerge from the pandemic, with climate neutrality as a core long-term competitiveness factor?" Airbus's chief technology officer, Grazia Vittadini, asked rhetorically, during a briefing about the new plans.

"It would be impossible not to. Even well before the crisis, it has become an acknowledged and shared view that protecting climate and protecting our environment are key indispensable factors upon which we have to build the future of flight," she said.

contrails 1210064 1920

Why hydrogen?

Airbus's plan to bring to market a zero-emission passenger aircraft by 2035 means it needs to start plotting a course in terms of technology in 2025. In fact it needs to plot several courses.

That's because no single technology can address the energy requirements to fuel the entire spectrum of aircraft types -- from flying taxis through to short-, medium- and long-range airplanes.

While having been recently more focused on electric aviation for small airplanes, Airbus has now pivoted towards hydrogen as a candidate for solving aviation's CO2 problems.

"Our experience with batteries shows us that battery technology is not moving at the pace we want," says Glenn Llewellyn, vice president of zero emission aircraft at Airbus. "This is where hydrogen comes in, it's got several thousand times more energy per kilogram than what batteries could have today."

Llewellyn says Airbus has already started talking hydrogen with airlines, energy companies and with airports, because "this kind of change really requires a teaming across industry and inside the aviation industry in order to make it happen."

Hydrogen has long been seen as a viable fuel by academics, but until now it's had little practical support.

Perhaps now, with batteries not quite cutting it, hydrogen's time has come.

"Eighteen months ago, when people talked about hydrogen in the aerospace industry, people thought you were slightly crazy," Iain Gray, director of aerospace at Cranfield University, tells CNN Travel.

"But now hydrogen has become something that everybody is seeing as a very significant solution to the zero carbon problems," says Gray. Cranfield has been supporting ZeroAvia -- a startup that received a £2.7m ($3.3 million) grant from the UK government to develop zero emission aviation technologies, achieving the world's first hydrogen fuel cell-powered flight of a commercial-grade aircraft at Cranfield Airport in September.

All for one and one for all

The three ZEROe concepts program include a 120-200 passenger turbofan with a range of 2,000+ nautical miles, capable of operating transcontinentally and powered by a modified gas-turbine engine running on hydrogen. The liquid hydrogen will be stored and distributed via tanks located behind the rear pressure bulkhead.

Then there's a 100-passenger airplane which uses a turboprop engine powered by hydrogen combustion in modified gas-turbine engines. It would be capable of traveling more than 1,000 nautical miles, making it a suitable option for short-haul trips.

However, the real conversation piece in the trio -- pictured at the top of of this article -- has a "blended-wing body," where the wings merge with the fuselage of the aircraft to produce a highly streamlined shape, like a "flying wing". This option shares its aeronautical DNA with Airbus's MAVERIC demonstrator aircraft ,which underwent flight tests last year to explore the energy-saving advantages of this futuristic type of airplane layout.

Looking like something out of Star Trek, Airbus's blended-wing hydrogen airplane could carry up to 200 passengers. Its unique configuration would facilitate a radical new type of cabin interior layout for passengers, while providing ample space for hydrogen storage.

How a hydrogen aircraft works

Hydrogen can be used in different ways to power airplanes: It can be combusted directly through modified gas turbines; it can be converted into electric energy, using fuel cells; and hydrogen combined with CO2 can be used to produce synthetic kerosene.

"For us, it's particularly important to combine the first two of these three elements -- having direct combustion of hydrogen through modified gas turbines, with an embedded electric motor, powered by fuel cells," says Airbus's Vittadini.

"To accelerate on this path, we already have in the pipeline a zero-emission demonstrator, which will be fundamental, especially to de-risk concepts such as refueling of such an aircraft and safe storage and distribution of hydrogen on board an aircraft," she adds.

Could existing jet engines run on hydrogen?

Since it's already been successfully proven that sustainable aviation fuel can be substituted into existing jet engines, the question now is whether hydrogen could also be a "drop in" fuel.

This is something that Rolls-Royce (which is not associated with the ZEROe program) has been looking at, having successfully tested its Trent engines with a hydrogen/kerosene blend in the past.

"Moving to 100% hydrogen would require adaptation to current gas turbine design," Alan Newby, director of aerospace technology and future programs at Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace, tells CNN Travel.

But Newby also explains that the biggest challenge would be managing the flame temperature and stability in the combustion system. Then there is the question of adapting the fuel delivery and management system, notably for liquid hydrogen. Another caveat, he notes, is that one kilo of hydrogen has three times the energy of kerosene, but more importantly, it takes up five times the volume.

"So the answer is -- yes, it is possible but there would need to be a big focus on redesigning these elements of the current engine design as well as looking at the gas turbine as a complete tank-to-exhaust system and taking a more holistic, overall system level approach," says Newby.

How these concepts could change commercial aviation

The unveiling of the Airbus concepts symbolizes a milestone in terms of civil aerospace adopting hydrogen at the top tier of industry.

True, ongoing efforts with smaller aircraft and drones using hydrogen and hydrogen fuel cells are plentiful. However, Airbus's announcement signifies a major strategic shift for commercial aviation, whereby hydrogen could become the norm for short- and medium-haul flights for the 2030s and beyond.

"But there's no point in addressing a hydrogen airplane if you're not going to look at the system in which it operates," cautions Gray.

Aviation "needs to address the whole zero carbon issue in a holistic systems way, looking at airports, air traffic control, aircraft, and transport to and from airports," he explains.

Fortunately, the dialogue between stakeholders appears to be underway.

"This is going to create a massive change in the energy and aviation ecosystem," says Airbus's Glenn Llewellyn. "We've already started working with airlines, energy companies, and with airports because this kind of change really requires a teaming across industry and inside the aviation industry in order to make it happen."

This necessity for a holistic approach dovetails neatly with the aspiration among airport operators to reduce their own carbon footprint -- hydrogen could power many aspects of airport infrastructure.

For example, in 2015, Memphis International Airport carried out a two-year demonstration of the world's first zero-emissions, hydrogen fuel cell-powered ground support equipment, saving over 175,000 gallons of diesel fuel and 1,700 metric tons of CO2.

In a separate initiative at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, a hydrogen production and distribution station is being installed for fueling hydrogen-powered buses.

What makes hydrogen a compelling fuel for airports is the fact that it can be produced on-site as well as from the airport's waste materials.

Finnish airport company Finavia is among those evaluating its practicality.

"We're looking at how we could use the waste streams at Finavia's airports, including the waste from glycol (the fluid used for de-icing airplanes) to generate hydrogen," says Henri Hansson, senior vice president of infrastructures and sustainability.

A significant leap towards eco-friendly air travel

Having a common fuel that airlines and airports alike can use is a total gamechanger for the industry.

The introduction of hydrogen airplanes and the extent of its environmental benefit will depend on the degree of uptake over coming years. Airbus's Vittadini says that "our estimation is that it will contribute by more than 50% along our journey to decarbonizing aviation."

There are, however, still many technological hurdles ahead in commercializing any type of sizable hydrogen airplane.

This is partly due to weight and size constraints, says Newby, but "also because the industry's reliability and safety requirements are set very high, which requires very high engineering maturity barriers to be achieved, particularly for passenger-carrying services."

And hydrogen-powered aviation is no silver bullet, he says. It will take a combination of different solutions, including sustainable aviation fuels, electric, hybrid and more efficient gas turbines, powering different missions, to help the industry reach its emissions goals.

"Timing-wise," says Newby, "small hydrogen-powered regional aircraft could potentially be available before the end of the decade."

What this means for fliers

Until Airbus settles on a configuration, it's too early to know what form the passenger cabin will take or what the on-board experience will look like.

But what can be reliably predicted is what it will feel like from a human sensibilities standpoint. Hydrogen could be the antidote to flight-shaming, if Airbus can get ZEROe off the ground.

Launching these concepts in the midst of a pandemic might even be a stroke of genius on Airbus's part, now that people have had time, while being cooped up, to reflect on the privilege of affordable aviation while acknowledging its impact on the planet.

"Covid, ironically, has reminded many people of what the world looks like when they're not seeing contrails and not hearing large jet engines," says Gray. "Flying, per se, is not the problem; carbon is the problem which we're trying to address."

"Flying has given individuals around the world great personal and professional travel opportunities, therefore the emphasis has got to be on solving the emissions and the carbon problems. Hydrogen is a gamechanger, and the industry is up for it."

Paul Sillers is an aviation journalist specializing in passenger experience and future air travel tech. Follow him at @paulsillers

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

A global pandemic might not seem like the most ideal time to go on vacation, but solo female travel is on the rise for 2021. The increase is in large part due to the hearty appetite of Americans aged 50-plus for traveling solo and Globe Aware provides the ideal volunteer vacations for solo women travelers. 


50 Best Trips For Solo Female Travel (And Why Now Is The Time To Go)

Laura Begley Bloom
Senior Contributor
ForbesWomen
BudgetDirect

A global pandemic might not seem like the most ideal time to go on vacation, but solo female travel is on the rise. Witness the explosion in interest that Overseas Adventure Travel has seen: More than 24,000 single travelers have booked trips for 2021, with women-only departures growing in popularity. According to the company, the increase is in large part due to the hearty appetite of Americans aged 50-plus for traveling solo, especially women. “We see solo women, in particular, with a passion to meet and bond with the local people. It's life-changing,” says CEO and president Brian Fitzgerald.

And according to research by the travel company Cox & Kings, solo travel could be among the first segments to come back as the travel sector starts to recover. Around a quarter of the company’s recent bookings have come from those traveling alone, says Sue Livsey, senior manager, who reports that their consumers have still retained their sense of adventure: “They want to travel, there’s a hunger there.”

women travelers

Here’s another part of the appeal: There are deals galore right now and many companies are waiving the dreaded single supplements that plague solo travelers when they stay in a room that was intended for two people. For instance, Riviera River Cruises is running eight singles-only European cruises in 2021, which means you can get a room for two for the price of one, plus there will be half the number of passengers onboard (88 versus 169 passengers). “We’ve seen strong interest in our dedicated solo river cruises since we started offering them a few years ago, and that interest has continued through the pandemic with bookings for 2021,” says Marilyn Conroy, Riviera River Cruises’ Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing North America. “Women make up the majority of passengers on our solo departures—they tend to travel solo more than men.”

According to Chizoba Anyaoha, cofounder of TravSolo, a planning app for solo travelers, solo travel continues to grow and grow every year and 25% of travelers say they will consider traveling solo in the next 12 months. “Solo travel is among the top two trips that travelers plan to choose, especially during and post-COVID-19,” says Anyaoha. “It is easier to practice social distancing and good hygiene guidelines.”

AdventureWomen—which has also seen a burst of interest—is beefing up its offerings for domestic trips that allow guests to take in the great outdoors while maintaining appropriate social distance from other travelers. Adventures include rafting the Salmon River in Idaho; canyoneering through the desert landscapes of Utah; and a winter trip to Yellowstone.

On a recent report listed the top 50 destinations in the world for solo female travel, Paris is the ... [+] PHOTO BY MATTYAS JOHN LAMAR ON UNSPLASH, 2020
Lindsay Myers, a Los Angeles-based budget travel and lifestyle expert who has a solo travel series on KateSpade.com, says that she is starting to see many travelers heading to foreign places to live their nomadic lives—especially women. “Traveling has a new meaning now that we have been stuck at home for months,” says Myers. “We want freedom to explore and tap into that adventure again. One mustn't be afraid to go at it alone. Solo traveling is such an experience that everyone should insert in their life: It really makes you dig down and find yourself in so many ways.”

So where are solo women going on these trips? Budget Direct Travel Insurance analyzed Instagram hashtags and geo-location data to uncover the most popular places around the world for women who travel solo. In its research, the company analyzed 1,426,053 Instagram posts tagged with the #WomenWhoTravel hashtag, along with six other related hashtags (#travelgirlsgo, #shetravels, #solofemaletraveler, #damestravel, #citizenfemme, #solofemaletravel) to find out which places around the world women love traveling to the most.

Looking at the data by country, the United States was the far-and-away winner. New York City made it the top spot in the U.S. for women traveling solo, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and Chicago. Globally, London was the most popular destination.

Read on for the top spots in the U.S. for traveling solo, followed by the top destinations globally.

10 Top Destinations in the U.S. for Traveling Solo

  1. London, United Kingdom
  2. New York City
  3. Paris, France
  4. Singapore
  5. Rome, Italy
  6. Barcelona, Spain
  7. Los Angeles
  8. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  9. Gianyar, Indonesia
  10. Bangkok, Thailand
  11. Marrakesh, Morocco
  12. Lisbon, Portugal
  13. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  14. Budapest, Hungary
  15. Venice, Italy
  16. Istanbul, Turkey
  17. San Francisco
  18. Tokyo, Japan
  19. Badung Regency, Indonesia
  20. Prague, Czech Republic
  21. Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  22. Las Vegas
  23. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  24. Sydney, Australia
  25. Seoul, South Korea
  26. Tulum, Mexico
  27. Madrid, Spain
  28. Chicago
  29. Berlin, Germany
  30. Milan, Italy
  31. Vienna, Austria
  32. Jaipur, India
  33. Kyoto, Japan
  34. Florence, Italy
  35. Cape Town, South Africa
  36. Honolulu
  37. Klungkung Regency, Indonesia
  38. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  39. Athens, Greece
  40. San Diego
  41. Pak Nam, Thailand
  42. Denpasar City, Indonesia
  43. Toronto, Canada
  44. Delhi, India
  45. Seattle
  46. Miami
  47. Seville, Spain
  48. Mexico City, Mexico
  49. Porto, Portugal
  50. Seattle, Washington

Additional Info

  • Source Forbes

As the travel industry awaits the new normal, technology has been moving along at its standard exponential rate of growth. Globe Aware has adapted and provided online virtual experiences, live from project countries, providing a means of travel, communication and connection. 


 

Zooming Into The Virtual New Norm Of Travel

Michael Alpiner

Travel

As the travel industry awaits the new normal, and hopefully the old normal once again, technology, which in itself requires no mask and is subject to no travel restrictions, has been moving along at its standard exponential rate of growth. From the simplest Zoom meeting to the most advanced virtual reality experience, the irrepressive nature of humankind is once again adapting to its environment. Like the virus itself, the travel industry mutates to allow for its most basic survival elements: communication, connection, and travel.


In 2020, the pandemic injured the travel industry, but also gave rise to a new form of adventurous experience - virtual reality. The pandemic did not spearhead VR technology. In fact, many companies and industry leaders were using virtual reality as soon as it became available and applicable to travel. For instance, Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas offers Sky Pad, a virtual reality bungee trampoline experience where guests can dress for reality, but also don VR headsets and choose between three immersive games – Jump Rally, Sugar Leap, and Bass Bouncer.

virtual travel

Royal Caribbean’s chairman and CEO, Richard Fain, in an interview with the AListDaily, said, “People want their technology integrated, and the ubiquity of the smartphone allows us to have technology available to anyone at anytime so they can use it as they want.” These words were made into reality during the marketing campaign of 2018 where the company recreated the on-ship experience at the immense Duggal Greenhouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in Brooklyn, NY to illustrate how new technology is changing the entire cruise experience.

The virtual experience/media event foreshadowed the world we know today. Ahead of its time, Royal Caribbean demonstrated how facial recognition and cell phone location monitoring helps get travelers safely on board and supervises them once the anchor is raised. Today, more with an eye for sanitary practices than just streamlining a process, Royal Caribbean announced the technology of their digital key. Guests can unlock staterooms with their smartphones by downloading a digital key, available in just a few taps for select ships and staterooms.

The Poseidon Underwater Suite lends itself perfectly to a virtual tour as it seems beyond reality to book a stay in a room that equates to living inside an aquarium. For a deeper dive, the property offers scuba and snorkeling experiences, most of which do not require certification. For the non swimmers of the world, a virtual tour of this feature might be preferable to reality. For those who want to face their fears, this Aquatrek experience uses state-of-the-art underwater helmets that enable the guest to breathe amidt 65,000 creatures. There are three adventures: Shark Safari, Aquatrek Extreme and Aquatrek at Night.

Zoom has seen its usage increase with leaps and bounds, or more accurately, with features and bandwidth. In terms of the world of travel, Zoom has allowed business partners and potential customers to stay within reach of each other. The platform opened up a world of possibility that did not previously exist. Meetings could be scheduled without companies having to send representatives to foreign locations, plan hotel stays, and pay for three martini lunches. Casual attire was more acceptable, and even fake backdrops depicting famous landmarks were an extra perk.

However, there was a learning curve, and Zoom mishaps became fodder for satire on shows such as Saturday Night Live, and on creative commercials for companies such as Progressive Insurance. Despite the on camera embarrassing moments that have undoubtedly gone viral, Zoom and other web-meeting platforms were the prophylactic ways for people to still feel connected and even laugh a bit through a tragic and challenging time.

Like most reactions to tragedy, there is a fulcrum, a double-edged sword cutting and protecting simultaneously. Though in-person experiences offer all five senses at once, place the traveler outside of his/her familiar, and thrill within the true spirit of exploration, one must appreciate the value of virtual reality, especially at times like these. It is sort of like a fun babysitter; while we wait for normal to return, it is pretty entertaining and certainly novel.

Additional Info

  • Source Forbes

Peter Wells, the founder and CEO of the DragonSlayer web app, is focused on helping travelers figure out where they can go, what COVID-19-related restrictions they will face, and finding the best destination for them based on a personalized assessment. Essential apps assist volunteers whenever they are on a volunteer vacation with Globe Aware.


 

This App Will Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Traveling in the Time of COVID-19

By Alison Fox
Travel + Leisure

In December, Peter Wells launched his new app geared at helping discerning travelers find experiences that fit their travel style. But when COVID-19 took a tremendous toll on the travel industry, shutting down borders and putting vacation plans on hold, he had to pivot.

a screenshot of a cell phone: “We're trying to make people aware that 'yes' you can travel, but it's going to be on different terms.”© Courtesy of DragonSlayer “We're trying to make people aware that 'yes' you can travel, but it's going to be on different terms.”
Now, Wells, the founder and CEO of the DragonSlayer web app, is relaunching — only this time, he’s focused on helping travelers figure out where they can go, what COVID-19-related restrictions they will face, and finding the best destination for them based on a personalized assessment.

“What I'm hoping overall... is in a small way we're contributing to getting travel back on its feet,” Wells told Travel + Leisure. “It is so much a part of our fabric as Americans.”

The app issues what Wells calls a SAFE-T score (or Smart Analytics for Educating Travelers) for 124 different countries and all 50 U.S. states by taking into account things like COVID-19-related deaths, testing capacity, new case trends, and how good the country or state’s healthcare system is. That score can change based on the user’s individual risk tolerance, which Wells said is determined by a series of questions.

“The idea here is to provide information to travelers so they can start feeling more comfortable,” he explained, adding the scores are calculated on a relative basis, comparing countries or states against others.

And the information is updated daily. There are currently only a small number of countries where Americans can travel for tourism purposes, but DragonSlayer is on top of it. The app allows users to filter their travel options based on which nations are open to those from the U.S. without a mandatory quarantine as well as see potential testing requirements.

app image

“People are going to have to realize the protocols for travel are going to be different,” Wells said. “We're trying to make people aware that 'yes' you can travel, but it's going to be on different terms.”

Ultimately, Wells said DragonSlayer’s redesign was all to answer a fundamental question: “What would it take for me to get back on a plane and travel somewhere?"

“And the answer was ‘I don't even know where I could travel or under what conditions I could go travel,’” he said. “And that's been this big question mark hanging over the industry.”

To access the app, users pay either $9.99 per month with a free two-week trial or $69.99 for a year’s subscription.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure

The travel industry has identified the fall as when travelers are feeling more comfortable traveling abroad by air. Currently Globe Aware has various international programs open for these travelers.


Airline CEOs Say Employees Low COVID Rates Prove Flying Is Safe

Airline CEOs are saying that the fact that there are lower rates of Covid-19 among its workforce than in the general population it is safe to fly.

Data from airlines shows that flight attendants and other airline workers have lower rates of the virus, despite tight quarters on airplanes, and executives and union representatives believe this proves that safety measures to protect passengers and employees are working and that flying is safe, according to a report on Business Insider.

"At United, but also at our large competitors, our flight attendants have lower COVID infection rates than the general population," Scott Kirby, CEO of United, said on Wednesday at a forum hosted by Politico. "Which is one of multiple data points that speaks to the safety onboard airplanes."

aircraft 2104594 1280

At the SAP Concur forum Delta CEO Ed Bastian shared similar sentiments.

"If the experience of flying was not safe, you'd expect our people to get sick,” said Bastian. "We track the health of our people. Our people are meaningfully less infected than the general population."

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom also made note of the data.

"The actions we have taken to ensure the safety and well-being of our team and customers are working," Isom said.

The current rate of infection of the general population in the U.S. is around 2 percent, according to New York Times data. For flight attendants, who are working on airplanes daily, that number is about .8 percent, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Airlines have worked hard to make flying safe for passengers. They have put new cleaning procedures in place for planes and in terminals, adopted new boarding procedures and have required passengers to wear masks, something the Centers for Disease Control and prevention says could be even better than a vaccine.

Airlines have also embraced and touted to the general public the use of new technologies such as electrostatic sprayers and fogging devices to clean aircraft. Planes also employ the use of high-tech HEPA filters that capture 99.9 percent of particles between 0.1 and 0.3 microns in diameter which can help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

However, while travel on an airplane may be safe, people still don’t feel comfortable traveling just yet, and airlines are continuing to feel the pinch, calling on the White House for more relief in order to avoid massive layoffs.

The tides could be turning. While many spent the summer alone, the travel industry has identified the fall as “stretch season,” during which many people who do feel more comfortable traveling seven months into the pandemic are looking to this typical shoulder season to take a trip.

Many luxury travelers are taking work-from-anywhere and learn-from-anywhere vacations.

Travel is also gaining confidence among the general public, and many luxury travelers are taking work-from-anywhere and learn-from-anywhere vacations for several weeks or even months. With the advent of the "workation" and the "schoolcation," travelers have a new reason to consider flying again.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

Name: KIMBERLY HALEY-COLEMAN

Scholarship Year: 1995

Professional Background: CEO and Founder, Globe Aware

Education:

  • Southern Methodist University – MA, Art History
  • University of Dallas – MBA, International Business
  • Emory University – BA, Art History, French, Marketing, Italian

About Kimberly Haley-Coleman and her company: Pairing her business acumen with a passion for international volunteering, Kimberly Haley-Coleman has been a leading figure in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors for more than two decades as she has helped promote awareness and access to volunteering opportunities abroad.

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Tuesday, 15 September 2020 15:29

Thailand prepares to welcome back tourists

Thailand will start issuing special visas to foreign tourists starting October, easing a more than five-month-old ban on visitors. Globe Aware provides two volunteer vacations in Thailand is excited move forward with this new travel update.


Thailand Moves a Step Closer to Welcoming Back Foreign Tourists

Bloomberg

Natnicha Chuwiruch and Suttinee Yuvejwattana

Bloomberg

September 15, 2020

(Bloomberg) -- Thailand will start issuing special visas to foreign tourists starting October, easing a more than five-month-old ban on visitors to revive the nation’s ailing tourism-reliant economy.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha’s cabinet approved a proposal to issue visas to tourists planning to stay between 90 and 280 days in Thailand, according to government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul. The tourists will undergo a mandatory 14-day state quarantine on arrival at partner hotels or hospitals and follow health and safety regulations, she said.

The government expects about 1,200 visitors to avail themselves of these visas each month, generating about 1.2 billion baht ($38.5 million) in revenue. The easing of border restrictions may boost the nation’s pandemic-battered tourism industry and cushion the blow to an economy projected to contract 8.5% this year.

The news of cabinet approval for special visas triggered a rally among hotel and travel operators in Bangkok. A measure of Thai tourism and leisure stocks jumped 4.5%, the biggest gainer among the Stock Exchange of Thailand’s 28 industry groups. It was also the index’s largest increase since May 26. While Hotel operators Erawan Group Pcl and Central Plaza Hotel Pcl surged more than 8%, Minor International Pcl advanced 5.5%.

thailand tourismThailand’s tourism and hospitality sectors are counting on the return of international visitors, who contributed to two-thirds of tourism income before the pandemic, to reverse the slump in businesses and save millions of jobs. A government campaign to boost travel by locals through hotel and air travel concessions has failed to make up for the slump in earnings, but the move to allow foreigners in small batches will still be a relief to the industry.

“There will not be a huge economic impact from this as it still can’t compensate for the revenue lost, but it will help,” Somprawin Manprasert, chief economist at Bank of Ayudhya Pcl said. “This plan still targets a higher-spending group of foreign visitors which will not benefit tourism industry operators that have lower to mid-price points, who will still suffer.”

The move to relax curbs on foreign tourists also follows Thailand’s relative success in containing the coronavirus outbreak. The nation went without a local transmission for 100 days before the virus-free run was ended early this month. Though Thailand was the first country outside China to report the deadly virus, its cumulative cases stand at 3,480 with most patients already discharged from hospitals.

The reopening to foreign tourists may be risky, but it is a manageable risk worth taking, Bank of Thailand’s Senior Director Don Nakornthab wrote in an article on the central bank’s website. The country may be headed for a second straight year of contraction in 2021 if it continued to restrict foreign visitor arrivals, Don wrote.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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  • Source Bloomberg

Travelers are seriously missing vacations abroad amid the pandemic—so much so that it’s begun taking a real emotional toll on them. Many cited travel as one of the activities that they’re most yearning for.


New Study Finds Consumers Miss Travel So Much It's Taking an Emotional Toll on Many

BY LAURIE BARATTI
AUGUST 16, 2020

In a new Amex Trendex report, American Express found that U.S. consumers are seriously missing travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic—so much so that it’s begun taking a real emotional toll on them.

Nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) reported that the inability to travel at present is causing them to feel anxious and stressed, and three out of four respondents (78 percent) cited travel as one of the activities that they’re most yearning for.

With summer drawing to an end and no end to COVID-19 in sight, Americans nonetheless remain reluctant to take up traveling again, with only ten percent of those surveyed saying they plan to travel over Labor Day weekend. Only one in five (20 percent) said they’re currently planning to travel for Thanksgiving.

In terms of their considerations when planning future travel, some key consumer insights also emerged from the study:

When restrictions are finally lifted and it’s actually considered safe to travel again, 67 percent said that they’d still prefer to travel with members of their households, with whom they’ve been cooped up at home for several months, to going by themselves (ten percent).

While four in five consumers (77 percent) prefer to make their reservations online themselves, they also want direct access to speak with a real person who can help as needed.

Social distancing concerns also prevail, with six in ten (61 percent) of respondents saying they’d pay more to travel on a plane or train that leaves every other seat open.

Twenty-five percent of those surveyed cited increased flexibility, in terms of booking changes and refunds, as the most important factor in planning future travel, followed by the 19 percent who pointed to cleanliness standards as their foremost concern.

Over half (57 percent) said they would be willing to take an extended-stay trip and live elsewhere for three months if offered economic and health incentives, with half of those expressing the desire to do so for a whole year or more.

Spending Trends

Based on its U.S. Card Member booking data, American Express Travel observed similar trends to what was reported in the survey:

Card Members continue to stay closer to home when traveling. More than half (52 percent) of hotel bookings made in July were within Card Members’ home state, or out of state in nearby regions, as compared to 33 percent in July 2019.

From the start of June through the beginning of July, 90 percent of lodging reservations and 79 percent of air travel bookings were domestic.

Last-minute bookings are becoming the norm. Two-thirds (62 percent) of hotel bookings were made less than two weeks ahead of travel, compared to 48 percent during the same period last year.

From the first week of July through the beginning of August, 85 percent of hotel bookings and 84 percent of domestic flight reservations were made for travel within the next 30 days.

 

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  • Source Travel Pulse

For the first time, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is now operating more flights than any other on the planet. Many Globe Aware volunteers fly from or through this airport when heading to their volunteer vacation abroad.


How Dallas-Fort Worth Became the Busiest Airport in the World

The Texas airport is operating more flights than any other hub on the planet.

BY JESSICA PUCKETT

July 30, 2020

While the air travel industry is facing numerous declines during the pandemic, one unexpected upturn has surfaced: a new busiest airport in the world. For the first time in recent memory, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is now operating more flights than any other on the planet.

In fact, for three months in a row the Texas hub has had the most takeoffs and landings around the globe. Starting in May, the airport climbed to the top ranking, with 22,831 airline takeoffs and landings, according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration. That was enough to edge out some typically busier hubs in the U.S.—including Atlanta, Denver, Charlotte, and Chicago O'Hare—for the number one spot. DFW topped those same airports in June with 25,294 takeoffs and landings, according to the FAA's data.

"I’ve connected through DFW a few times during the COVID outbreak," says Ryan Ewing, founder and president of Airline Geeks. "Early on, I found DFW to be noticeably busier than some other hub airports. Plenty of concessions were open. At one point in April, I had to wait for a few of the Skylink trains to go by before I could go on because they were so packed," he says. While social distancing might be difficult on a crowded airport tram, Ewing notes that the majority of travelers and staff at DFW have been adhering to the policies, such as wearing a mask. The airport made facial coverings mandatory on July 2, and staff have been taking additional precautions such as increased sanitizing by a so-called "Cleaning Strike Team," which is a group of 165 staff members that disinfect touchpoints in all five of the airport's terminals, in addition to its usual custodial contract workers.

Dallas-Fort Worth's new top ranking revolves around airlines' recovery plans in the face of COVID-19, specifically new flight strategies from American Airlines, whose headquarters is at the hub. "American has nixed several of its nonstop flights and forced connections through DFW, which will of course make it busier," Ewing says. American is also routing more international flights through its home-base hub. The airline said earlier in July that it would be making Dallas-Fort Worth its "major trans-Pacific hub,” as well as for certain flights to Western Europe.

It's part of American's larger strategy to lean into its major hubs as travel demand continues to falter. “COVID-19 has forced us to reevaluate our network,” Vasu Raja, the airline's chief revenue officer, said in a statement recently. “American will have a significantly smaller international network in the year ahead, but we are using this opportunity to hit reset and create a network using the strength of our strategic hubs that we can build and grow upon and be profitable on in this new environment.” In addition to focusing trans-Pacific flights at DFW, the carrier is making Philadelphia its primary gateway to Europe and continuing to use Miami for most connections to Latin American and the Caribbean.

The new flight strategy means that Dallas-Fort Worth will likely be the busiest airport once again in July. The airport's CEO Sean Donohue said earlier this month that he expected nearly 100 percent of the DFW's gates to be operational during peak hours. Although the statistics aren't yet finalized, early numbers show the hub on top once again. DFW had 18,098 arriving passenger flights from July 1 through July 28, according to data firm Cirium. So far, that's enough for the Texas hub to beat narrowly beat Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson Airport—which usually processes the most passengers in the world each year—for the number one spot in July. Over the same period, 16,980 passenger flights arrived into Atlanta airport, according to Cirium, with Chicago O’Hare trailing in third place with 15,755 flights, followed by Denver airport in fourth place (14,040 arriving passenger flights), and China’s Guangzhou airport clocking in at fifth place.

Pre-pandemic, DFW typically ranked as the fourth busiest airport behind Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago O'Hare. Even though it's the world's top airport for now, DFW is still only operating just a fraction of last year's flight schedule. "This is all relative," Ewing says. Even the current uptick "is a far cry from when American alone operated shy of 900 daily departures from the airport last summer," he says. In May, for instance, the hub saw nearly an 80 percent drop in overall passenger numbers and the number of commercial flights fell more than 57 percent compared to the year before. Passenger traffic found its nadir in April, with the amount of fliers transiting through DFW down by about 92 percent year over year.

Indeed, the airport's time as world's busiest might be coming to a close. Based on current flight schedules for August, Atlanta is projected to be the busiest airport globally with 23,006 flights scheduled to arrive into the Georgia airport next month, according to Cirium. And although flight schedules could change over the course of August, the predictions show DFW trailing closely behind in second place.

We're reporting on how COVID-19 impacts travel on a daily basis. Find all of our coronavirus coverage and travel resources here.

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  • Source Conde Nast Traveler
Tuesday, 04 August 2020 11:48

Italy missing American tourists this summer

Traveling to Italy has become a summer vacation hot spot for Americans, but unfortunately this year the plans of many vacationers have been cancelled. Globe Aware staff look forward to visiting Europe again soon, and feel its nice that we are missed.


Italy Misses The "Laughter And Infectious Curiosity" Of American Tourists This Summer

AUG 4, 2020 8:30 AM

Traveling to Italy has become a summer vacation hot spot for Americans. From taking a ride on the gondolas to strolling with a gelato in hand, Italy is absolutely alluring. In fact, six million American travelers choose this European country as their vacation spot each year, according to the Italian government’s statistics bureau.

Unfortunately, this year is a lot different for us all. If you’re anything like me, your summer travel plans to Italy have been canceled indefinitely.

Italy was hit hard by COVID-19 and the country is slowly making its way out of the emergency phase. International borders are closed with the exception of a select amount of countries being added to a safe list for essential travel.

cinque terre 279013 1920

With the borders being closed, comes a struggle in the tourism industry, with the loss of millions of US tourists this year. According to Italian press outlets, American travelers brought in almost €3 billion to Italy last year.

In Rome, Italy’s most popular city for tourism, hotels have been losing about $115 million per month, as 90% of properties remain closed.

“The majority of our clients are from the USA and the continuing ban has serious repercussions for us. Americans spend big in Rome and we don’t take this for granted. But mostly we miss their laughter and infectious curiosity for our country,” says Natalino Gisonna, the Vice President of Rome’s tourism branch of the national small-medium business confederation (CNA).

Alberto Moncada di Paternò, the owner of Rome Luxury Suites, tells CNN Travel, “We are feeling their [American travelers] absence but we know they will be back in the future because their thirst for Rome cannot be quenched. When they do return, we will readily and safely welcome them with open arms.”

Senio Venturi, owner of Michelin star Ristorante L’Asinello says “American clients are always a pleasure for us because they are so positive and friendly. But importantly, they are loyal. They dine with us more than once during their stay, return annual and refer friends and family too.”

So while we may not be able to travel to Italy this summer, it’s nice to know Americans are missed for our curiosity and love of Italian food and culture.

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  • Source Travel Noire

Popular travel destinations are beginning to ease their Covid-19 lock down measures and are moving toward welcoming tourists back. If you're one of many Globe Aware volunteers eagerly awaiting news on where you can travel to this year, here's another updated guide to the top destinations making plans to reopen.


 

Which international destinations are reopening to tourists?

Tamara Hardingham-Gill, CNN • Updated 3rd July 2020

(CNN) — Although many governments are still advising against "nonessential" international travel, a host of popular destinations are beginning to ease their Covid-19 lockdown measures and border restrictions and are moving toward welcoming tourists back.

On July 1, the European Union announced it would be reopening its external border to 15 countries outside of the bloc in a bid to boost its travel industry.

Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay are all included in the list, along with China, provided it agrees to lift restrictions on EU citizens.

However, the United States, which now has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, was not included.

Meanwhile the UK has formed "travel corridors" with 59 different countries, while Caribbean islands like Jamaica have already opened their doors to foreign visitors again.

"Travel bubbles" are also becoming more popular, with the likes of Fiji, Australia and New Zealand considering following the lead of Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who have lifted restrictions for each other's citizens.

If you're one of many travelers eagerly awaiting news on where you can travel to this year, here's a guide to the top destinations making plans to reopen, as well as some of those that are keeping their borders firmly closed for now.

tourists

Aruba

Aruba will slowly reopen to tourists between June 15 and July 10.

Visitors from nearby Caribbean islands Curacao and Bonaire will be permitted to enter first, followed by travelers from Canada and Europe on July 1.

Tourists from the United States will be allowed to visit from July 10.

While it was previously suggested travelers would not be required to to take a Covid-19 test on arrival or prior to traveling, it seems this is no longer the case.

Like many other destinations, Aruba is giving visitors the option to either provide a negative test result taken no more than 72 hours before their visit, or receive a test on arrival.

However, the cost of the test, which must be paid for in advance, is the responsibility of the traveler.

The island has also introduced mandatory insurance coverage, the Aruba Visitors Insurance, which will cover any expenses if visitors test positive for the virus during their trip.

Nonessential businesses including shopping malls, cinemas, beauty salons and outdoor restaurants were allowed to reopen on May 25, while the island country's 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew was completely lifted earlier this month.

Restaurants with indoor seating have now been allowed to reopen, although diners must leave before 10 p.m., along with spas, and saunas.

In addition, the department of Public Health has introduced the "Aruba Health & Happiness Code," a mandatory cleaning and hygiene certification program for all businesses related to tourism in the country.

Bali

Bali has been relatively successful in containing its coronavirus outbreak, with less than 1,500 confirmed cases and, at the time of writing, a total of 11 deaths.

The Indonesian island now hopes to welcome tourists back by October, provided its infection rates stay low.

According to a statement from Ni Wayan Giri Adnyani, secretary of the ministry, Yogyakarta, situated on the island of Java, is likely to reopen first, along with the Riau islands province.

Bali's economy is hugely dependent on tourism and visitor numbers have been rising in recent years, with around 6.3 million people visiting in 2019.

"The coronavirus has collapsed the Balinese economy ... it's been a steep drop since [mid-March] when social-distancing measures were put in place," Mangku Nyoman Kandia, a Bali tour guide, told ABC News in April. "No tourist, no money."

All foreign nationals, except for diplomats, permanent residents and humanitarian workers, are currently banned from Indonesia, and anyone entering the island must undergo a swab test and provide a letter stating they are free of Covid-19.

It's unclear what the entry requirements will be if restrictions are lifted later this year, or whether Bali will accept travelers from regions badly affected by the pandemic.

However, tourism officials have been calling for a "travel bubble" to be implemented between Bali and Australia.

Barbados

Barbados has announced it will be reopening its borders to international travelers from July 12.

However, visitors will have to adhere to a number of strict requirements.

All tourists from "high risk" countries will be "strongly encouraged" to take a Covid-19 test at least 72 hours before departing for Barbados, according to a recent press release from the Barbados Tourist Board.

Meanwhile, those from "low risk" destinations can be tested a week before visiting the Caribbean island.

Visitors also need to complete an online Embarkation/Disembarkation Card (ED card), which asks a series of health questions connected to Covid-19 symptoms.

Those who don't provide a negative test result "from an accredited or recognized laboratory" in advance will must take one on arrival, and will be placed in quarantine "at their own expense" until the results come through. This is likely to take up to 48 hours.

While visiting the island, travelers must comply with local protocols, including keeping a physical distance of one-meter away from others and wearing face masks in public.

Barbados' nationwide curfew is due to be lifted on July 1, while commercial air traffic will resume 11 days later.

UK flag carrier British Airways will restart services to Barbados on July 18, with US airline JetBlue following suit on July 25 and Virgin Atlantic on August 1.

Cyprus

Cyprus is so keen to get its tourism industry back on track, officials are offering to cover the costs of any travelers who test positive for Covid-19 while on vacation in the Mediterranean island nation.

According to a letter shared with CNN, the Cypriot government will pay for lodging, as well as food, drink and medication for tourists who are taken ill with coronavirus during their visit.

The detailed plan was set out in a five-page letter issued to governments, airlines and tour operators on May 26.

Officials have also earmarked a 100-bed hospital for foreign travelers who test positive, while a 500-room "quarantine hotel" will be available to patients' family and "close contacts."

"The traveler will only need to bear the cost of their airport transfer and repatriation flight, in collaboration with their agent and/or airline," states the letter.

The country's hotels began to reopen on June 1, while international air travel restarted on June 9.

Once the destination reopens, visitors from only chosen countries will be allowed to enter.

Officials have issued a list of countries to be granted access to Cyprus in two separate stages.

Incoming flights from Greece, Malta, Bulgaria, Norway, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Hungary, Israel, Denmark, Germany, Slovakia and Lithuania will be authorized first.

From June 20, Cyprus will also permit incoming flights from Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic.

The UK and the US, both listed among the nations with the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths, are noticeably absent.

However, the list is to be expanded to include further countries in the coming months.

Travelers heading to Cyprus will need to provide a valid certificate proving they've tested negative for Covid-19, while they'll be subject to temperature checks on arrival as well as testing at random during the course of their trip.

The destination has already put measures in place to protect travelers and residents, such as ensuring hotel staff wear masks and gloves, regularly disinfecting sunbeds and keeping tables at restaurants, bars, cafés,and pubs at least two meters (6.5 feet) apart.

Tourism accounts for at least 15% of Cyprus's economy.

Egypt

Tourism brings in around $1 billion in revenue for Egypt each month, so the impact of the travel restrictions caused by the pandemic has been significant.

The government suspended passenger flights back in March, while all hotels, restaurants and cafes were closed and a night curfew imposed.

These measures are currently being relaxed, with hotels that meet certain requirements, such as having a clinic with a resident doctor on site, being granted permission to reopen for domestic visitors at a reduced capacity.

But a curfew remains in place between 8p.m. and 5 a.m -- although this is due to be lifted on June 27 -- and the government has made wearing masks mandatory in public places and public transport.

Although international flights are yet to begin operating again -- bar a select few routes -- the cabinet has indicated scheduled international flights will be allowed to enter from July 1, while foreign tourists will be permitted at the resorts least affected by Covid-19.

"We have to prepare," cabinet spokesman Nader Saad said during a televised interview last month.

"A number of global carriers have expressed willingness to resume flights to Egypt in July, and as a result we are considering a gradual resumption of international flights beginning towards the end of this month and in the first half of July."

France

France was the most visited country in the world before the coronavirus pandemic.

While restrictions were previously in place on all nonessential travel from outside the Schengen Zone (a grouping of 26 countries which normally have open borders), the measures are due to be lifted for 15 countries outside of the EU, including Australia, Canada and Japan.

At present all travelers who enter France, with the exception of EU citizens, are subject to a compulsory 14-day quarantine.

UK citizens were previously exempt from this measure. However, this was recently amended in response to the UK's decision to apply its mandatory 14-day quarantine, which is set to be amended soon, to arrivals from France.

Although the government has been slowly lifting lockdown measures, with car journeys of up to 100 kilometers now allowed and beaches beginning to reopen, officials have previously made it clear the country is in no hurry to ease border restrictions for international travelers..

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe recently announced a $19.4 billion stimulus package to boost France's ailing tourism sector.

"What is good for tourism is often good for France, what strikes tourism strikes France," he said during a news conference.

The country's hotels, bars, restaurants and cafés were granted permission to reopen on June 2.

Meanwhile Paris was downgraded from a "red zone" to a "green zone" in mid-June and the city has now reopened.

France's most visited museum, the Louvre, will reopen on July 6.

"Tourism is facing what is probably its worst challenge in modern history," added Philippe. "Because this is one of the crown jewels of the French economy, rescuing it is a national priority."

He went on to state that residents can take holidays within France during July and August.

The country's hotels will be reliant on domestic tourism once they do reopen, as all signs suggest international travelers will not be able to enter for the foreseeable future.

"When the lockdown measures soften, French tourists are likely to want to stay close to home in the short term," a spokesperson for French hotel chain Accor told CNN Travel earlier this month.

"It will be the moment for them to rediscover their own country and we will be there to welcome them."

Georgia

Georgia was experiencing a tourism boom before the coronavirus pandemic, with five million travelers visiting in 2019, a 7% increase on the previous year.

But the country was forced to close its winter resorts and place a ban on all foreign visitors back in March because of the crisis.

Eager to revive its tourism sector, the country's government had previously said it planned to reopen to international travelers on July 1, but this has been pushed back until July 31 due to a "rapid increase in the number of new coronavirus cases in the partner and neighboring countries."

Officials have brought in a three-stage "anti-crisis" plan, which includes a marketing campaign designed to promote Georgia as a "safe destination."

The next stage will allow for domestic travel in special "safe" tourism zones, while the final stage involves reopening borders and resuming some flights.

"We are transitioning to the third stage [of Covid-19 response], which means post-crisis management of the economy and devising plans [on] how to kickstart different sectors," Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said at a council meeting focused on fighting Covid-19.

"[The] tourism sector will be first to which emergency relief measures will apply."

Germany

The land of poets and thinkers lifted travel restrictions for travelers from 31 different countries on June 15.

The approved destinations included the 26 EU member states, as well as the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

"The revitalization of tourism is important both for travelers and the German travel industry, as well as for the economic stability of the respective target countries," read a statement from a paper called "Criteria for the Enabling of intra-European Tourism," which was issued last month.

The Austria/Germany land border has also reopened -- travel between Austria and Germany is possible as of June 15 -- and restrictions around the country are being relaxed.

Visitors from destinations such as Australia and Canada will also be allowed to enter soon due to the EU's decision to lift restrictions on various countries outside of the bloc.

Bars, restaurants and museums have reopened, while some hotels have begun to resume business.

Chancellor Angela Merkel recently announced social distancing rules would continue until at least October.

Greece

International direct flights to Greece's many holiday destinations restarted on July 1 for travelers from most of the EU and list of 14 additional EU-approved countries, with travelers subject only to random checks.

Greece has also extended its travel ban on direct flights from the UK and Sweden until July 15. All information is expected to be updated by mid-July.

The US, Greece's third largest market, is not included on the EU list. Nearly 2 million Americans visited Greece in 2019. The country has been attracting a growing number of US travelers in recent years and was projected to grow further in 2020.

Russia also failed to make the EU list meaning that Greece will enter its peak season without the three countries that in 2019 accounted for about 20% of its tourism revenue.

Greece is also opening its international ports and some border crossings for the first time since the country imposed a strict lockdown over three months ago.

The country is being hailed as one of the safest destinations for holidaymakers in the Mediterranean this summer with under 200 deaths from Covid-19 and less than 3,500 cases in a population of 11 million.

As part of the measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, international travelers are required to fill in a detailed passenger form. The Passenger Locator Form (PLF) will have to be completed online at least 48 hours before entering the country and includes information such as duration of previous stays in other countries during the two weeks prior to travel, and the address of stay in Greece.

Travelers will receive QR codes based on an algorithm that will calculate those most at risk of spreading a coronavirus infection. Authorities will use the QR code to identify passengers who need to be tested upon arrival, Greece's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said.

Those tested must quarantine overnight pending results. Those who test positive will be quarantined for up to 14 days.

Hungary

Travelers from outside the European Union hoping to visit Hungary this summer will have to wait a little longer.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced Thursday that the Central European country would only be reopening its borders to one of the 14 EU-approved "safe" countries in order to protect the "health interests" of residents.

Its southern neighbor Serbia, home to a large ethnic Hungarian minority, was the sole non-EU country to make the cut.

The decision came just days after the EU's request for its member states to lift travel restrictions for various countries outside the bloc, including China, provided it reciprocates the move, Australia and Japan.

"For the time being, with the exception of Serbia, we can't comply with the EU's request that we allow entry to citizens from outside the bloc because that would be contrary to the health interests of the Hungarian people," Orban said in a video posted on his Facebook page.

However, Hungary will reinstate a "humanitarian corridor" for travelers passing through the country, according to the prime minister.

At the time of writing, Hungary had reported over 4,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 587 deaths.

Although lockdown restrictions have been lifted throughout the country, wearing a face mask is mandatory while in shops and on public transport.

Iceland

Iceland reopened it borders to tourists on June 15 after recording just under 2,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The move came weeks after the Nordic country banned all foreign nationals, except for nationals of the EU and associated European countries.

Up until recently, everyone arriving from outside the country was required to go into quarantine for 14 days.

However, travelers now have the option to either submit to a Covid-19 test on arrival, provide proof of a recently taken test with a negative result, or agree to a two-week quarantine.

Although the tests are currently free, a $112 charge will be implemented from July 1.

Visitors will also be encouraged to download the app Rakning C-19, designed to help trace the origin of transmissions and available in seven languages -- Icelandic, English, Polish, German, French, Spanish and Italian.

"When travelers return to Iceland we want to have all mechanisms in place to safeguard them and the progress made in controlling the pandemic," Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation said in an official statement last month.

"Iceland's strategy of large-scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far.

"We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us."

Italy

Italy has been one of the destinations worst hit by the pandemic, but the hugely popular European country is keen to get its tourism industry up and running now that infection rates have slowed down.

Travelers from the EU, along with the UK and the microstates and principalities of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican, were allowed to enter without having to go into quarantine starting June 3, in a move the government has described as a "calculated risk."

"We're facing a calculated risk in the knowledge that the contagion curve may rise again," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a televised address to the nation earlier this month.

"We have to accept it; otherwise, we will never be able to start up again."

However, Italy, has also indicated it will not be complying with the EU's request to lift travel restrictions for 14 countries outside the bloc.

A mandatory quarantine remains in place for all other nations and it seems officials are not planning to lift this any time soon.

"The situation on a global level remains very complex," Italy's health minister Roberto Speranza told Italian news agency ANSA shortly after the announcement was made on Tuesday.

"We must not allow the sacrifices of Italians in recent months being made in vain."

All museums, including Rome's Vatican Museums, have been slowly reopening throughout May with strict social-distancing rules. Bars and restaurants were permitted to reopen with reduced numbers of diners as well as plastic shields to divide customers, on May 18.

St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican also opened its doors again on May 18 after being closed for over two months, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has reopened, while the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is scheduled to return to railways on July 8.

Jamaica

Jamaica reopened to international tourists on June 15, nearly three months after closing its borders.

Up until the end of June, travelers heading to the Caribbean island will be required to complete a travel authorization form within 72 hours of departure and be willing to undergo a test for Covid-19 on arrival.

A "resilient corridor" has also been introduced, limiting the movement of visitors to a section of Jamaica's northern coast between Negril and Port Antonio.

Hotels and businesses within this area are allowed to reopen provided they have received a "Covid-19 Readiness Certificate".

Visitors will also be required to adhere to local protocols, such as wearing face masks or coverings in public and social distancing.

"Tourism is the lifeblood of our local economy, and with the help of international experts and a dedicated task force, we have developed protocols that allow us to safely reopen our borders," Jamaica's Director of Tourism Donovan White said in a statement.

"We are confident that as we restart our economy, Jamaicans will work together to ensure a safe, secure and seamless experience for our tourism workers, their families, and visitors, while preserving the authentic experiences travelers seek when they visit our shores."

Jamaica welcomes over 4.3 million visitors each year, with tourism accounting for 34% of its GDP.

The Maldives

The Maldives closed its national borders and canceled all flights shortly after recording its first two coronavirus cases in March.

However, around 30 resorts here have stayed open, with tourists opting to self-isolate in the famous honeymoon destination rather than return home.

The island nation, which is made up of over 1,000 islands, has recorded around 1,457 confirmed cases and five deaths from Covid-19 so far.

While it was previously thought the destination would reopen at the end of the year, officials have brought this forward to July.

A spokesperson for the tourism board has confirmed the Maldives will be open to tourists of all nationalities from July.

While a previous draft proposal indicated travelers would need to present a medical certificate confirming proof of a negative Covid-19 test, the new plans will see visitors allowed to enter the country without prior testing or a mandatory quarantine period.

There are also no new visa requirements or additional fees.

"We are planning to reopen our borders for visitors in July, 2020," reads an official statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism on May 30.

"We also want to assure our guests that they will not be charged any additional fees to enter the Maldives."

The government is also considering issuing a "Safe Tourism License" for tourist facilities that comply with government legislation and certain safety requirements, such as having a certified medic readily available and holding an "adequate stock" of PPE equipment.

But the destination's tourism board has confirmed that visitors will not have to commit to spending a minimum of 14 days in the country, as was previously suggested, nor will they need to have a confirmed booking with a tourist facility with a "Safe Tourism License."

The Maldives received more than 1.7 million visitors in 2019 and the destination had expected numbers to rise to two million in 2020.

Malta

Shortly after Malta registered its first Covid-19 case in March, a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine was put in place for all tourists entering the small Mediterranean country.

Outbound flights to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland were then suspended, before all flight departures and arrivals were banned on March 20.

Prime Minister Robert Abela recently confirmed Malta will be reopening its borders to visitors from at least 17 countries on July 1.

Travelers from Germany, Austria, Cyprus, Switzerland, Iceland, Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Israel, Latvia, Estonia, Luxembourg, and the Czech Republic will all be permitted to enter without going into self-isolation for two weeks.

The destinations chosen are those apparently deemed "safe" by the Malta Tourism Authority with regards to Covid-19 transmission.

However, restrictions on all other flight destinations will be lifted from July 15, according to officials.

Mexico

Mexico is aiming to welcome visitors back within weeks.

While the nation remains in lockdown, with hotels and restaurants yet to recommence business, officials are planning to reopen the country bit by bit in order to get things back on track.

"The plan for the country is to open in stages and by regions," WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara told CNN Travel recently.

"The target is domestic travelers first, followed by travelers from the US and Canada and then the rest of the world.

However, the border between the US and Mexico border will remain closed to "nonessential" travel until July 21, according to a statement from the US Department of Homeland Security on June 16.

The restrictions were first announced in mid-March.

While most international flights in and out of Mexico's key airports are currently suspended or significantly reduced, Delta Air Lines will be increasing and/or resuming various services from the US to Cancun, Mexico City Los Cabos and Puerta Vallarta in the coming weeks.

Quintana Roo, a state on the Caribbean side of Mexico that's home to the likes of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, hopes to reopen in mid-June, according to Marisol Vanegas, the state's tourism secretary.

"We want to revive tourism and expect to start opening sights and hotels sometime between June 10 and 15 but don't know which ones yet," she says.

"It depends on what the federal government allows us to do."

Meanwhile, Los Cabos will kick off a five-phase plan to revive tourism in June.

Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board, says he hopes to be able to accept both international and domestic travelers by August and September.

However, beach destination Riviera Nayarit, situated north of Puerta Vallarta, currently has no immediate plans to bring back tourists, according to Richard Zarkin, the public relations manager for the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Portugal

Portugal is keen to revive its struggling tourism industry, with Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva recently declaring "tourists are welcome."

Incoming flights from outside the EU are now slowly starting up again, with TAP Air Portugal, Portugal's national airline, resuming its nonstop flight between Lisbon and Newark airport earlier this month.

Travelers from EU nations, apart from Italy and Spain, are now permitted to enter the country without going into quarantine.

However, temperature checks will be taken on arrival and visitors will need to comply with local social distancing measures.

The land border between Portugal and Spain, which has been closed to tourists since March, is unlikely to reopen until at least July 1.

"We are gradually going to start looking at easing border controls," Internal Affairs Minister Eduardo Cabrita said earlier this month.

In May, officials began putting measures in place to ensure foreign travelers would feel confident to return to Portugal.

Rita Marques, the country's Secretary of State for Tourism, has launched a "don't cancel, postpone" scheme, allowing tourists to reschedule any pre-arranged holidays to Portugal until the close of 2021.

This is valid for all bookings made through accredited travel agencies, along with hotels or Airbnbs, for trips scheduled between March 13 and September 30, 2020.

In addition, national tourism authority Turismo de Portugal has created a free hygiene-certification stamp to distinguish "Clean & Safe" tourism enterprises to increase visitors' confidence.

Businesses will have to comply with hygiene and cleaning requirements for the prevention and control of Covid-19 to receive the stamp, which is valid for one year.

According to Santos Silva, Portugal's airports will soon be introducing health checks for arrivals, but visitors will not be subject to a mandatory quarantine

Spain

Spain's lockdown was one of the toughest in Europe, but restrictions have gently been lifted.

Beaches reopened in June while hotels in some parts of the country have also been permitted to resume business.

Now the European destination, which welcomed a record 84 million visitors in 2019, has moved forward its reopening date, granting EU travelers permission to enter without having to quarantine for two weeks from June 21.

While there's been little mention of opening borders to travelers beyond the EU, it's thought Spain is hoping to follow the lead of destinations such as Lithuania and the Czech Republic by establishing safe corridors, or a "travel bubble," with nearby destinations that have managed to keep the outbreak under control.

"We have to guarantee, when international tourism opens, that the person who comes to Spain is a safe person," Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto recently told local newspaper El Pais.

"The issue of borders will be accompanied by the evolution of the health crisis."

As part of the European Union, Spain will also be open to the 15 countries the EU is lifting its external border to.

At present, it's mandatory for anyone six and older to wear face masks while in public, both indoors and outdoors, "where it is not possible to maintain [an interpersonal] distance."

St. Lucia

St. Lucia is one of several Caribbean islands trying for a tourism comeback.

The tropical destination, which closed its orders to foreign travelers on March 23, began its phased reopening on June 4, when it lifted its borders to visitors from the United States.

Those traveling to the country must present "certified proof" of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 48 hours of boarding their flight.

Visitors will also be subject to screening and temperature checks by port health authorities and must wear face masks and maintain social distancing during their visit.

Officials are also bringing in new safety measures for taxis to separate drivers and passengers.

"Our new protocols have been carefully crafted and will build confidence among travelers and our citizens," Minister of Tourism Dominic Fedee said in a statement.

"The government of Saint Lucia remains resolved to protect both lives and livelihoods as it jump starts its economy."

Local businesses have also been allowed to reopen, provided they have appropriate cleaning measures and social distancing measures in place.

Details of the second phase of the island's reopening, which is to begin on August 1, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Thailand

Thailand has long been among the top destinations for travelers, receiving close to 40 million foreign tourists last year.

However, visitors have been banned from entering the Southeast Asian country since March because of the pandemic.

While the number of cases here has been relatively low in comparison to other destinations -- Thailand has reported more than 3,000 confirmed cases and over 50 deaths -- officials aren't taking any chances when it comes to reopening the country.

"It is still dependent on the outbreak situation, but I think the earliest we may see the return of tourists could be the fourth quarter of this year," Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) told CNN Travel.

The governor went on to stress there will be limitations on who can visit the country and what regions they can go to once restrictions are relaxed.

"We are not going to open all at once," he added. "We are still on high alert, we just can't let our guards down yet.

"We have to look at the country of origin [of the travelers] to see if their situation has truly improved."

This effectively means Thailand is unlikely to open its borders to travelers from destinations that don't appear to have the coronavirus situation under control.

Those that are given permission to enter may be offered "long-stay packages" in isolated areas "where health monitoring can be easily controlled," such as the remote islands of Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui.

On July 1, a ban on international flights was lifted by The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) provided certain conditions are met.

Business travelers and those seeking medical treatment in Thailand are among those now permitted to enter the country.

The lack of foreign tourists means that visitor numbers will drop to 14 to 16 million this year, according to TAT.

But like many other global destinations, Thailand has been focusing on domestic tourism.

In fact, some resorts and hotels have already been given the go ahead to reopen -- Hua Hin, located about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Bangkok, being one of them.

Shopping malls, museums, markets and some tourist attractions have also been reopening their doors, with Bangkok's Grand Palace resuming business on June 4.

Turkey

Turkey made over $34.5 billion from tourism in 2019, and the transcontinental country was eager to get back in business.

Like many other countries, the popular destination opted to restart domestic tourism before beginning to welcome foreign visitors.

International flights routes to and from Turkey have been gradually restarting throughout June, with the UK, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Hong Kong and Switzerland among the 40 nations Turkey is now receiving travelers from.

While tourists are not required to undergo Covid-19 tests before their trip, all visitors will receive a medical evaluation, including temperature checks, on arrival.

"When foreign visitors come, they will be health-checked, and body temperatures will be measured. If there is a suspicion, tourists will be taken for a PCR test.

"These measurements will start in Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman, Izmir, Istanbul airports, the country's provinces with the most tourist attraction," Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Minister of Culture and Tourism for Turkey, said earlier this month.

The country has also set out new guidelines for its hotels and resort facilities, such as temperature checks at entrances and at least 12 hours of room ventilation after checkout. Guests will be required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing.

"The more transparent and detailed information we give, the more we will earn the confidence of tourists," Ersoy previously said while revealing plans to open around half of Turkey's hotels this year.

Meanwhile, restrictions on intercity travel have been lifted, while restaurants, cafes, parks and sports facilities are permitted to reopen from June 1, along with beaches and museums.

Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, one of the world's largest markets, reopened for the first time in two months on June 1.

United Arab Emirates

When the UAE, which is made up of seven emirates, closed its borders in March, the stringent restrictions included withdrawing tourist visas and banning all outgoing flights.

A nationwide night time curfew, officially called "the national sanitization program," was also put in place, while the emirate of Dubai issued a 24-hour lockdown, which meant its residents had to apply for a police permit to leave their homes.

Now the Emirati authorities are gradually scaling down these restrictions.

In the past few weeks, hotels have started to reopen for domestic tourists at a reduced capacity and under strict guidelines.

In Dubai, guests are required to wear masks at all times and can only check in to rooms 24 hours after the previous guest has checked out.

Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, masks are also compulsory for guests and all returning employees be required to undergo Covid-19 screenings.

A number of shopping malls and restaurants in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah have been allowed to open their doors again, provided they follow strict sanitation and social-distancing rules, while Dubai's public parks and hotel beaches are permitted to open for groups of up to five people.

In April, Dubai opened its first drive-through coronavirus testing center, located at the Al Nasr Club, which supplies tests for no charge. 

Although flights remain suspended, the Emirates' main airports are being reopened for connecting flights, while Emirates-based airlines Etihad, Emirates, flydubai and Air Arabia say they will recommence flight schedules in the coming weeks.

"We welcome the UAE authorities' decision to re-open UAE airports for all connecting travelers. Emirates and Flydubai will shortly announce the resumption of passenger flights to more cities with connections to, and through, Dubai," Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, tweeted on June 3.

"The decision includes Abu Dhabi International Airport, Dubai International Airport, and Sharjah International Port, and covers Etihad Airways, Emirates, flydubai, and Air Arabia."

It was recently announced that Dubai will begin welcoming international tourists from July 7, provided they provide proof they've recently tested negative for Covid-19 or agree to be tested on arrival.

"The thing about this current scenario is it's a global question: many airports internationally remain closed and it's really about the bilateral discussions that are under way to have a coordinated approach to the reopening," Helal Al Marri, the Director General of Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said during an interview with Bloomberg TV.

"We're quite concerned about the timeline, that's the main risk: is it going to be July when things open up? Is it going to be September?

"We just need to make sure we're ready if things come earlier than expected."

United Kingdom

When other destinations were relaxing travel restrictions and bringing in measures to lure travelers back, the UK opted to enact stricter regulations.

However, the government has confirmed that, from July 10, visitors from at least 59 destinations, including France, Italy and Spain, will be able to visit England without going into quarantine, while English residents can travel to the majority of these places without self-isolating.

The "travel corridors" will come as a welcome move for those frustrated by the UK's mandatory two-week quarantine, which came into effect on June 8.

Paul Charles, a member of Quash Quarantine, a campaign group lobbying the government to drop the quarantine, previously described the guidelines as "unworkable and unenforceable."

"A lot of jobs have gone in the last few weeks as people haven't been able to book holidays because they've been fearful of quarantine," Charles told CNN Travel last week.

"So, quarantine itself has acted as a block to future bookings.

"As soon as the UK government signals officially that corridors will happen, it will make a significant difference to bookings.

Portugal was absent from the UK's travel corridor, or "air bridge" list, although the land border between the country and Spain reopened on July 1.

"Portugal may still be included," added Charles.

"As long as there's an effective test and trace systems in these countries and people stick to social distancing measures where appropriate and travel responsibly, it makes sense to open as many corridors as possible with countries with lower R rates."

However, the UK government has stressed that the list will be kept under review.

"We will keep the conditions in these countries and territories under review," reads a government statement.

"If they worsen we will not hesitate to reintroduce self-isolation requirements.

But it seems not all of the countries included on the travel corridor list have agreed to drop their quarantine requirements, as was previously indicated, New Zealand being one of them.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

Traveling during the Corona pandemic isn't the same as it was before all of this began. Globe Aware volunteers must be prepared with the right essentials to stay safe and prevent any further spread of the virus.


 

Traveling this summer?

These 12 things will keep you safe and comfortable

Amanda Tarlton
Reviewed.com
June 17, 2020

As states lift their stay-at-home orders after months of quarantine, more and more people are beginning to venture out. But they aren't just heading to the grocery store or the gym—some people are starting to travel again, as well.

Whether it be for business or pleasure, traveling during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic isn't the same as it was before all of this began. Not only are airports, airlines, and other public transportation companies instituting new rules and cleaning procedures, but travelers themselves must also be prepared with the right essentials to stay safe and prevent any further spread of the virus.

If you have plans to travel in the near future, we've rounded up 12 things to help you stay safe and comfortable. Our advice comes from guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), advice from experts, and even suggestions from people who have already been traveling amid the pandemic. From the necessary face mask you'll need to wear from point A to point B to products that will help you sanitize your hotel room, these are the things to take with you on your next trip.

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1. A face mask

The CDC advises people to wear a cloth face-covering whenever they are out in public—including while traveling—to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. To help you find a fabric face mask that's still in stock (they've been constantly selling out), we've compiled a list of 55 places you can buy face masks online right now. Some of the most popular picks include Nordstrom's new basic black masks, Anthropologie's pretty patterned masks, or the plethora of homemade options available on Etsy.

 2. Hand sanitizer

While washing your hands is the best way to keep yourself (and those around you) safe, if you don't have access to soap or water, the CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol before and after using public places or eating food. Since hand sanitizer has been so popular and selling out everywhere, our experts have spent the last few months tracking where you can still buy it online, including retailers like Amazon and Ulta. Tip: New TSA rules allow you to bring hand sanitizer in bottles up to 12 ounces (previously 3) through airport security.

 3. Disinfecting wipes or spray

A pack of disinfecting wipes or disinfecting spray will come in handy while you travel. You can use them to wipe down public surfaces before you touch them (like an airport check-in screen or the armrests of your plane seat) and to thoroughly sanitize your hotel room or rental home when you first arrive. While disinfectant wipes are hard to come by and are sold out at many retailers, our staff has been diligently tracking (and continuously updating) where you can still buy wipes and spray online, including places like Amazon and Target. The CDC recommends using a cleaner that's at least 70 percent alcohol, if possible.

4. Tissues

Tissues are a great thing to have on hand during the coronavirus pandemic, especially when you're traveling. While you can use them to sneeze or cough into (avoiding your hands), you can also use them to pick up or touch items that tend to be havens for bacteria (like hotel room TV remotes). You can find one of our experts' favorite tissues, Puffs Plus Lotion, in travel form at Walmart with these convenient to-go packs that are perfect for tossing in your bag.

5. Reusable snack bags

Whether you're flying, driving, or taking the train, whenever you're traveling during the pandemic, the less public things you touch, the better. That includes trying to cut down on the number of stops you make or shops you have to go into. Some travelers suggest packing your own snacks to carry rather than going into a gas station store or touching the buttons on a vending machine. We recommend using these Lunchskins reusable sandwich bags (which are the best ones our experts have tested) because they're environmentally-friendly and will keep your food fresh for longer.

6. Disposable gloves

While the CDC says that gloves aren't necessary for everyday use (even when you're out in public), they do recommend wearing disposable gloves when cleaning. And if you plan to sanitize your hotel room or wipe down your plane seat or even the interior of your car when you're traveling, you might want to pack some gloves to wear while doing so. Our experts are constantly updating this list of where you can buy disposable gloves online, including Amazon and Walmart.

7. A portable charger

Dealing with a dead phone when traveling is never convenient—but it's even more of a struggle during the times of COVID-19. People may be hesitant to let you borrow their phone or charger, and trying to find (or sanitize) a public phone can be difficult. To prevent yourself from running into that problem, pack a portable charger in your bag. We've tested some of the top ones available and found the Jackery Bolt to be the best in terms of compact design and charging power (it can even charge multiple devices at once). While the larger 10,500mAh Bolt is currently sold out, you can still get the slightly lower-capacity 6,000mAH Bolt on Amazon.

8. Bottled water

Even if water fountains happen to be open at the airport (many airports have opted to close public drinking fountains) or at a rest stop, the buttons can be a hotspot for bacteria. Avoid having to use the public fountain by traveling with your own bottled water. You can buy bottled water in bulk to pack in a cooler if you're going on a road trip or, if you're flying, buy a bottle at one of the airport convenience stores (this will also prevent you from having to sip from the cups provided during in-flight service).

9. A travel pillow

If you're expecting to be handed a pillow and blanket on your next long flight, don't be surprised when neither are available. When the coronavirus pandemic first began, many airlines decided to stop offering blankets and pillows to passengers as a safety precaution. Instead, carry a lightweight travel pillow with you to stay comfortable on your flight. Of all the ones we've tested, we prefer the Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow because it provides the best all-around comfort and neck support thanks to its plush memory foam.

10. A lightweight blanket

Just like pillows, blankets will no longer be provided on many airlines. Not only that, but some experts also advise you to be wary of using the blankets or bedspreads at a hotel or rental home. That's why bringing a travel-friendly blanket with you is a smart choice. This micro plush one has hundreds of glowing reviews because it's super soft and packs up neatly into a case that even comes with a luggage clip and belt so you can carry it completely hands-free.

11. A travel mug

If you don't feel comfortable drinking out of the cups provided at your hotel or rental accommodation (or even the cups from a restaurant), bring your own travel mug with you. That way you'll know that you're the only one who has used it and you can keep it clean as you go. Our favorite travel mug here at Reviewed is the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug because it's durable and portable and kept our coffee piping hot for up to 24 hours (!!).

12. A phone sanitizer

Even if you clean your hands regularly and try to avoid touching things when out in public, your phone is still a bacteria hotspot (think of all the places you've put it down!). Keep it germ-free on the go with PhoneSoap's travel phone sanitizer. Our senior scientist tested out PhoneSoap in Reviewed's labs and found that it was incredibly effective at killing bacteria. Plus, it only takes six minutes and can be used for more than just your phone (like your keys and credit cards). While PhoneSoap is currently sold out, you can prer-order your sanitizer now and it will ship before July TK.

Additional Info

  • Source Reviewed.com

As lock down restrictions are eased in many countries, borders are being opened up again too. Many countries rely heavily on travelers during the summer therefore it is vital for the economy to get tourists vacationing back in their country again.


Where can I travel this summer? Countries open for tourism

June 15, 2020

The coronavirus has forced several countries to close borders and airline companies to ground flights but what countries can I travel to this summer?

The coronavirus continues to spread in some areas of the world and is fluctuating in others from week to week. As lockdown restrictions are eased in many cities and countries, borders are being opened up again too. Many countries rely heavily on tourism during the summer with Spain, for example, relying on the tourism industry for €159 billion a year and 2.65 million jobs. Therefore, it is seen as pertinent to the health of the economy to get tourists back into the country.

According to the New York Times, “Approximately 100 million travel sector jobs have been eliminated or will be.” They say passenger travel is down 95% compared to last year and loss of revenue are expected to be more than $300 billion. In the middle of the first wave of coronavirus, it was believed all summer holidays would be cancelled, but things have changed rapidly since then. It is now seen as 'under control' in some countries.

The European Commission wants its members to come together to provide a list of non-EU countries where Europeans can travel to from 1 July. With infection rates and cases changing by the week, this list will be reviewed regularly based on how the country is responding to the virus.

There are fears that with countries in the EU containing the virus for now, opening back up the borders could cause a second wave and so they will handle the situation with extreme care. One of the criteria for making it on to the list of non-EU countries will be that the country has an epidemiological situation that is similar to the E.U. average and where sufficient capabilities to deal with the virus are in place.

Ylva Johansson, European Home Affairs Commissioner explains: "As travelers entering the E.U. can move freely from one country to another, it is crucial that member states coordinate their decisions on lifting travel restrictions.”

With people confined to their homes and neighborhoods for the last number of months, many are now planning holidays.

Which countries are open amid the coronavirus pandemic?
Spain will open its borders on 1 July. The virus is considered to be under control and the Balearic Islands have been chosen as a place to launch a ‘pilot project’ to make sure the protocols for foreigners visiting are in place and functional. According to El País, 33,500 people entered Spain in May but that number is set to explode once the borders open back up.

A detailed list of every European country travel restrictions can be found here. Politico explain restrictions, planned re-opening dates, quarantine rules and rules for non-European travelers.

The Caribbean
Antigua, the U.S. Virgin Islands and St. Lucia are open already. Meanwhile, Jamaica opens up again on 15 June and the Bahamas and Bermuda will open on 1 July. Aruba will open up again on 10 July.

Asia
Japan, Vietnam and Singapore have not yet announced when they will re-open their borders but Bali is reportedly considering October as a date to lift border shutdowns.

North America
The US have banned certain countries from landing passenger flights including China, Iran, the European Schengen Area, United Kingdom (including Ireland) and Brazil. Arriving from other countries will see you spend 14 days in quarantine. The same is true for Canada and the US - Canda border remains closed to non-essential travel until 21 June.

Mexico is opening state by state, and Quintana Roo (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Tulum) opened this week. It has, however, been named as one of the seven international coronavirus hotspots. Mexico has seen almost 150,000 cases and over 17,000 deaths so far due to the virus.

South America
Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Peru remain closed and Colombia will not allow passenger flights to land until at least the end of August. South America is currently seeing rising cases and these dates might change depending on the number of family and weekly average cases. Argentina will not allow passenger flights to land until the end of September.

Additional Info

  • Source AS

Globe Aware volunteer recognized for community service will share in a Lions Club scholarship as she prepares to attend Duke University.


Saratoga Lions Club Awards 2020 Scholarships

THURSDAY, 11 JUNE 2020
BY SARATOGA TODAY

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Saratoga Springs Lions Club Scholarship Committee proudly presents $32,500 in academic awards to seven Saratoga Springs High School Seniors. All seven seniors are pursuing four-years + in academic programs with diverse fields of study.

It is disappointing that the annual Lions awards luncheon was unable to be held this June, however, we are anxious to share these students and the honor they receive for their hard work and perseverance during this difficult senior year.

Additional Info

  • Source Saratoga Today

Racism, like in many other sectors of society, has been built into the travel industry. Globe Aware, a nonprofit that specializes in volunteer vacations, takes their responsibility to be anti-racist seriously.


 

How the Travel Industry Can Do Its Part in the Fight Against Racism

ALEX TEMBLADOR
JUNE 02, 2020
TravelPulse.com

One of the first features I wrote about the subject of race and racism in the travel industry, a travel executive reached out to me to ask me who or what had made me so angry to write the piece. As a brown woman of color, he was essentially inferring that I was an “angry brown woman,” a stereotype that has long been used to highlight women of color who discuss controversial topics such as racism.

To say that I wasn’t surprised by his reaction is accurate. The travel industry tends to think of itself as a space of leisure, fun, and escape where such things like racism are left behind for good times. The problem is, for black individuals and people of color, escaping racism is not something they can do by taking a vacation. Racism, like in many other sectors of society, has been built into the travel industry, both knowingly and unknowingly.

It’s the travel industry’s responsibility to do something about it.

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I can showcase the pervasiveness of racism in the travel industry through study after study, through anecdotes of racial attacks on planes and racial biases in hotels or cruises. I can provide interviews with black men and women and people of color who share stories of harassment in various destinations, even those by travel agents like Alfred W. who told me, “I get looks all the time when I travel. I'm a 6' 6" 270 lbs. black male and when I enter a room/resort lobby/airplane/restaurant, I see it on some of the faces. You should see the looks of shock I get when I sit down in first-class seating.”

I’ve provided travelers of color, travel agents of color, and travel industry leaders of color a space to share their experiences through my articles, but it has not been enough to dismantle systems of racism in the travel industry. As we watch the Black Lives Movement work to topple racism in our justice and law enforcement systems through protests, it’s a good time to consider how the travel industry can do their part to fight racism.

The travel industry is trying to rebuild their companies after a devastating blow from the pandemic, making it the most opportune time to reevaluate how the travel industry has done business in the past, and creatively work toward a future in which the travel industry can be better.

I don’t have all the answers, but whether you’re a travel agent, tour guide, the owner of a hotel or airline company, the captain of a cruise ship, working in travel PR, or a travel employee in between, please read how the travel industry can fight racism.

Recognize Racism

The first thing the travel industry must do is recognize racism, and accept that we all have biases and blind spots. I have it, you have it. We all have it.

I once asked a group of travel agents: “How do you best serve travelers of color? How could you serve them better if you’ve yet to try to connect with them?”

The responses I received were eye-opening and I wrote about them in an article: “Many agents were uncomfortable with the question, stating things like, ‘My agency doesn't base service on a particular 'color,' we service everyone.’ Others, in some form or another, said they ‘don’t see color’—a well-meaning response meant to indicate they're not racist, but inadvertently meaning they don’t recognize that systems of racism exist and that they don't ‘see’ that the experiences of people of color are different. Some agents turned it around on me, claiming I was biased and my question inappropriate.”

The clear discomfort that these travel agents had speaking about race only highlighted that people in the travel industry would rather ignore that racism exists in the industry than do something about it. Start by accepting that racism is here; it is in your company and it affects travelers. Don’t ignore it, don’t attack people of color or others who point it out. Sit in those feelings, accept it, and know you’re not alone on this learning journey.

Inform Yourself About Racism in the Travel Industry and Beyond

If we don’t know what racism looks like in the travel industry, how then can we fight it? Racism in the travel industry is no longer overt, such as in the 1950s when hotels refused black travelers a place to stay. Rather, racism has been built into the travel industry through a lack of equal opportunity, travel technology, poorly designed customs and immigration systems, and ignorance about the experiences of people of color.

You can inform yourself as to what racism looks like in the travel industry by reading articles and studies related to racism on TravelPulse and other outlets, as well as memoirs written by black travelers and travelers of color like Maureen Stone’s Black Woman Walking and Amanda Epe’s Fly Girl, a memoir written by a black female flight attendant. Consult sites like Travel Noire, a digital media company serving African Diaspora travelers.

Better yet, hire a consultant within the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (D.E.I.) Industry to assist your travel company. They’ll develop courses and sessions about unconscious bias within your company and services. They’re equipped to lead small and large groups on conversations about racism, how to be an ally to people of color, set up systems in place to stop microaggressions that people of color experience within the company, and more.

It Starts From the Top

Dismantling systems of racism and inequality start at the top of a travel company. When travel company owners and CEOs don’t recognize that racism exists, it’s much harder to fight against.

On June 1, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. CEO and chairman Richard Fain sent a message to his employees discussing racism in the travel industry. He pointed out: “Racism is chronic, a condition of the system that has afflicted us for centuries. And like any chronic condition, we can never stop fighting it, or it will overwhelm us.”

I was glad to see him discuss white privilege and the consequences of racism left unchecked: “At the end of the day, it is still much harder to be a person of color in America than it is to be white. We can go months trying to tell ourselves otherwise; then there is yet another episode like George Floyd's to remind us of the hard reality.”

Fain noted that Royal Caribbean’s Employee Resource Groups would be leading the way on virtual discussions of racism within the company and that they are “evaluating philanthropic partners who are demonstrating an ability to mobilize for change on this subject.”

As a white male CEO, Fain’s words to his employees create an environment in which promotes conversations of race and racism within the company. This is extremely important: if your company does not discuss racism, the likelihood of the company improving the experiences of black travelers, travelers of color, or black employees and employees of color are minimal.

Diversify Your Travel Company

One of the most effective ways the travel industry can fight racism is to diversify their staff and employ people of color at the highest levels of that company.

I had the opportunity to speak with Sheila Johnson, CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, who spoke to this: “As both an African American and a woman – one who came of age in the very heart of the white and male-dominated 1950’s and 60’s – I’ve spent my entire life working and fighting, often against the longest of odds, to gain even the smallest toehold on the American Dream.”

“It is our obligation [as hospitality leaders] to continue to elevate the curious, intelligent, inspiring leaders of the black community and remove the preconceived notion of what that looks like in hospitality.”

Sheila Johnson is the CEO and Founder of a luxury hotel management property chain, Salamander Hotels & Resorts. (photo via Sheila Johnson)

She added: “There needs to be a recognition that people of diverse backgrounds bring forth new ideas and experiences and look at life from a different perspective. It is the only way we are going to evolve the industry and make an impact.”

“Change truly starts at the top, and at Salamander Hotels and Resorts, it begins with me.”

More Representation in Sales and Marketing

Look through your marketing materials and travel ads from the past five years: who do you see? Do the people you use in your travel branding look the same? How many people of color are clearly visible? Count them.

If you want to make your travel company more inclusive of people of color, you must provide visible representation across your sales and marketing plan. Not only does this mean showcasing black families traveling, solo Muslim travelers, groups of Asian and Latinx friends, and interracial couples on romantic trips, but this also includes hiring writers and editors of color to shape the messages in your ads, social media, branding copy, etc.

Make a Plan to Fight Racism

Travel companies know that the first step to success is a good plan. So, make one to fight racism. It might look like this:

Create an anti-racism committee of diverse employees who will lead the fight against racism within your company and through the services provided to travelers. Have this committee remove racial bias in job descriptions and create policies that allow employees to call out and discuss racial bias and racism in company meetings and policies.

Committee, teamwork, company

Have them create a mentorship program that helps people of color move up in the ranks of the company. Urge your recruiters and hiring managers to look for diverse candidates, at historically black colleges and through groups that uplift people of color. And encourage your committee to create opportunities and events for open dialogues and the exchange of new ideas to fight racism.

For small companies or solo entrepreneurs, analyze your travel services. Are they inclusive of diverse groups of people? Does your branding promote unconscious bias? Are you sensitive to the needs to travelers of color or supporting travel companies that fight racism and promote diversity?

Speak Up

If you see racism occur, whether systematically, subtly, or overtly, call it out. Bring it to the attention of your managers and human resources department. If you don’t feel like your travel company is doing enough to fight racism, gather coworkers for support and approach management with an idea for a committee against racism.

You have power and you have a voice, even at the lowest levels of a travel company, to fight against racism. It’s up to you who work in the travel industry to fight racism from within so that everyone can enjoy the joys of traveling equally.

To Sum it Up…

I’m amazed at what travel companies will do to help their customers. I’ve seen airport employees search planes for lost stuffed toys to bring joy to a child, travel agents move mountains to get their clients a new hotel when the initial one cancels their reservations unexpectedly, and hotel managers craft elaborate surprises to bring cheer to their guests.

I want to see that same enthusiasm, creative thinking, and teamwork among the travel industry to fight racism.

As your employees, company, destination, or industry works hard to make your service or place safe for travelers again after the pandemic, I’d urge you to take on racism now. Not tomorrow. Not next year. Not five years in the future. Now.

 

Additional Info

  • Source TravelPulse.com
Wednesday, 03 June 2020 15:05

Is it safe to travel now?

Travel is slowly starting up again and people locked down for months want to go out, whether its a road trip or international volunteer vacation. Learn how you can safely explore the world without endangering yourself or others.


 

Is it safe to travel now? It depends.

Here are the best practices for getting on the road without endangering your health—or anyone else’s.

 

BY JOHANNA READ

PUBLISHED MAY 28, 2020

ALTHOUGH MANY RESTRICTIONS are still in place, travel is slowly starting up again. People locked down for months want to stretch their legs, see something other than a screen, and boost the economy. Restaurants and some tourist attractions (Florida’s Universal Orlando Resort, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) are opening for local and domestic travel. A few countries (Greece, Italy) are starting to welcome international travelers.

But how can you safely explore a world of potentially deadly encounters with friendly people who might infect you (or who you might expose to the virus)? Is the airplane really a soaring petri dish? Is visiting a national park possible while social distancing? And if you choose a seemingly safer road trip, can you stop to use a public restroom?

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A poll by National Geographic and Morning Consult finds that just 2 percent of 2,200 Americans said they’d jump on a plane now, and only another 8 percent would consider it later this summer. That’s wise with travel advisories still in place, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warnings against international travel and cautions about travel within the U.S., and with many countries and states (Maine, Hawaii) still requiring 14 days of post-travel self-isolation regardless of symptoms.

As we recently report, travel planning is good for your mental health. Knowing more about real and perceived COVID-19 risks might help you feel better about getting out as roadblocks lift. Here are best practices for travelers.

Should I get on an airplane?

Challenge: Being crammed next to strangers in a flying metal tube

Best practice: It’s reassuring to know that “data to date suggest only rare possible occurrences of in-flight transmission” of COVID-19, says Dr. Lin H. Chen, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of Cambridge’s Travel Medicine Center at Mount Auburn. She explains that if everyone follows the World Health Organization’s guidelines, the risk of transmission aboard planes, and anywhere else, is significantly reduced.

A plastic drape covers an airline check-in counter at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on March 27, 2020. Barriers like this between workers and travelers are meant to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

PHOTOGRAPH BY REMKO DE WAAL, AFP/GETTY IMAGES

“Many people think they get sick on an airplane, but the reality is that the air quality on an airplane is actually really good—high amounts of clean outdoor air and all recirculated air passes through a HEPA filter,” says Joe Allen. An assistant professor and director of the Healthy Buildings Program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Allen explains that you’re more likely to pick up a bug standing in line at airport security, at the boarding gate, or on the subway.

Airports and airlines are trying to minimize the risks of contagions in their often-crowded environments. Intensive cleaning is now the norm; planes are now being fogged with electrostatic disinfectant that sticks to surfaces like seatbelts. Some airlines give you wipes and the Transportation Security Administration has upped the size of hand sanitizer bottles you can bring on board from 3.4 ounces to 12.

Face coverings are required to board most flights. Airlines are trying to seat people so they have more space. But that doesn’t necessarily mean middle seats are remaining empty, especially with reductions in numbers of flights. There’s no national U.S. policy yet, but several airlines are checking for fevers. They won’t let you fly with a temperature above 100.4℉ (though testing is far from foolproof).

Internationally, some destinations require proof of a negative COVID-19 test; other destinations test passengers on arrival. Many have mandatory 14-day quarantines, sometimes requiring you to submit a quarantine plan for approval, download an app, or get a tracking bracelet to ensure you follow the rules. Vaccination certification may eventually be needed for travel, but so far the science doesn’t support “immunity passports” or proof that a person has had COVID-19 and is, in theory, immune.

Should I head to a national park?

Challenge: Avoiding big crowds in the great outdoors

Best practice: “There are many health benefits to being outside in nature, and the risks are low and manageable,” says Allen. The key is keeping a six-foot distance. A good practice at a park is to pretend that other people are grizzly bears and stay away from them.

Check the National Park Service’s find-a-park website to see if the park is closed or partially closed (restrooms and food services, in particular), for limits on numbers of visitors, and other rules like mask-wearing. Avoid group activities that involve close contact and practice social distancing at camp sites. Joyce Sanchez, an infectious disease specialist and medical director of the Travel Health Clinic at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin, reminds us that “summer is tick and mosquito season,” so don’t forget your bug spray and sunscreen (though perhaps a face-mask tan will become a badge of honor that you’re doing your part to protect others).

(Related: Learn how COVID closures are impacting the small town bordering Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.)

Should I rent a cottage by the sea?

Challenge: Assessing the safety of beaches and vacation rentals

Best practice: Like park trips, seaside vacations are great if you can stay away from others and obey beach closure rules. There’s no evidence you can catch COVID-19 from the water (it’s other people you should be concerned about). Remember to bring your two best beach friends: reef-safe sunscreen free of oxybenzone and hand sanitizer.

A woman sunbathes in a roped-off social-distancing zone on the beach in La Grande Motte in southern France.

PHOTOGRAPH BY CLEMENT MAHOUDEA, AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Regarding rentals, ask whether properties are cleaned according to public health guidelines, such as the WHO’s accommodation sector advice. Airbnb’s Enhanced Cleaning Initiative includes a 24- to 72-hour vacancy period between guests (though cleaners may visit during that window), but it’s likely unnecessary given evidence that the coronavirus floats in the air only up to three hours. Since it’s possible for the virus to live on surfaces for two or three days, you could give high-touch surfaces an extra clean. As Chen says, “good hand washing should overcome potentially contaminated touching.” If anxiety outweighs the benefits of a vacation, it’s a sign you’re not ready to venture out yet.

Should I stay in a hotel?

Challenge: Distancing safely and trusting housekeeping

Best practice: Hotels that take better care of their employees (by providing them with personal protective equipment and paid sick leave) are more likely to take better care of you. Check the website of any hotel you’re considering to determine how they’re responding to COVID-19. Many U.S. hotels are following the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s new Safe Stay guidelines.

Choose properties that base their protocols on science, rather than things that sound good but have little effect or take focus away from areas that really matter. Look for hotels that have installed plexiglass at reception and that require staff to wear masks, or where you can check-in online and use your phone as your room key.

(Related: Want to stay healthy on the road? Follow these germ-fighting tips.)

In Pristina, Kosovo, a worker in a protective suit sprays disinfectant in a hotel room to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

PHOTOGRAPH BY ARMEND NIMANI, AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Avoid elevators and, if able, “take the opportunity to exercise and use the stairs,” advises Sanchez. Room service may be safer than the restaurant. Go for a swim if the pool isn’t crowded: Standard pool cleaning kills viruses, so the pool is probably safe; it’s the people you need to worry about. While clean rooms are important, what’s more important is staying six feet away from others. And, of course, wash your hands when you arrive in your room and again before you leave.

Should I use a public restroom?

Challenge: Taking care of business in busy bathrooms

Best practice: Assume public restrooms “are not properly disinfected and treat surfaces as if they have live virus on them,” says Sanchez. That said, it’s often necessary to use. When you do, choose single-stall and well-ventilated bathrooms if you can, and keep your distance from others.

Chen says that “good hand hygiene is key after using a public bathroom,” meaning wash and dry your hands; if there’s no soap, use hand sanitizer. She adds “I am unaware of any data to show that flushing aerosolizes SARS-CoV-2 and transmits the virus.” Regardless, it’s always good practice to put the lid down before you flush.

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What about people who don’t wear masks?

Challenge: Staying safe while respecting others’ boundaries

Best practice: Following all the new COVID-19 protocols takes some getting used to. It’s easy to revert to pre-pandemic habits in new situations, when we’re stressed, and when we’re trying to relax and have fun. Being as kind and understanding as possible helps minimize stress.

Setting a good example is the best way to encourage others. Jonathon Day, associate professor and graduate program director at Purdue’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, says “safety when traveling (and when out and about in general) is a ‘co-creation.’”

“If it’s someone you know who is non-mask-wearing [or] non-social-distancing, it might be worth discussing the reasoning behind these measures,” says Chen. Remember that not everyone can wear a mask and that we’re all human and can forget the new norms. You could politely ask anyone who gets too close “would you mind giving us a bit more space, please?” but it might be easier just to move away from them. It’s likely not worth the risk, or the stress, to confront a stranger. If you can’t escape the situation, ask a store manager or flight attendant for help.

Remember that, with communicable diseases, “if everyone is responsible to themselves and community/society, then we would all be safer,” says Chen.

Know the safety basics

We’re still learning about COVID-19. But one consensus is that it seems to spread most easily by close contact between people. The CDC says that touching objects isn’t the main way of contracting it.

This means that whenever you’re away from home, the most important thing you can do is maintain a six-foot (or more) distance from people you don’t live with. Wearing a face covering also minimizes the chance you’ll pass a virus or other illness to others.

Other key prevention measures, outlined by the World Health Organization and other public health authorities: washing your hands well, avoiding touching your face, coughing and sneezing into your elbow, disinfecting frequently touched items like your phone, and staying home if you’re sick. Practicing these measures keeps you—and everyone else—safer, regardless of how far you roam. “COVID-19 has shown that we have shared responsibilities to reduce spread,” says Chen, who’s president of the International Society of Travel Medicine.

General considerations for travel

During a pandemic, going to the grocery store—let alone traveling to another city or country—requires new protocols. Follow policies about lockdown restrictions and mandatory quarantines, both at home and at your planned destination. The CDC provides links to the rules of each state’s and territory’s health departments. Many international borders remain closed to nonessential travel, and some countries also limit domestic travel between regions.

Examine your personal situation. Extra cautions are needed for anyone at elevated risk of contracting COVID-19. Check post-travel quarantine rules, including your employer’s. Just as important as protecting you and your loved ones is shielding other people. You don’t want to bring the virus from your community, especially to places with low case numbers, or bring it home (the CDC tracks cases and deaths by state and county). Consider whether the benefits of travel outweigh the risk that you might spread the virus.

When deciding where to go and how you’ll get there, scrutinize how easy it will be to stay away from other people. “Generally speaking, driving is going to be safer than flying commercially from an infection standpoint because you can control how you reach your destination—who is sharing the car with you, what measures are used for disinfecting surfaces, where you stop along the way, and when you return,” says Sanchez.

Johanna Read is a Canadian travel and wellness writer and photographer. A former Canadian government policy executive, she worked on issues including pandemic influenza and food safety. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Additional Info

  • Source National Geographic
Wednesday, 03 June 2020 14:41

Thailand Reopening after COVID-19

Once Thailand opens to international tourists, they'll likely only be able to visit certain vacation spots. This will be beneficial for both tourists and local residents, Globe Aware will continue to track when volunteer vacations can resume in their Thailand locations as well.


THAILAND REOPENING TO TOURISTS: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

MAY 29, 2020

TREVOR KUCHERAN
TRAVEL NEWS

The Thailand Tourism Authority has said that tourists will have to wait a few more months before visiting.

The Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand said that tourism could return in the fourth quarter of this year.

Here is everything you need to know about Thailand reopening to tourists and what to expect when one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world opens their border.

"It is still dependent on the outbreak situation, but I think at the earliest, we may see the return of tourists could be the fourth quarter of this year." Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand told CNN

Even then, there will likely be restrictions on who can visit and where they can go said Yuthasak.

“We are not going to open all at once,” he adds. “We are still on high alert, we just can't let our guards down yet. We have to look at the country of origin [of the travelers] to see if their situation has truly improved. And lastly, we have to see whether our own business operators are ready to receive tourists under the ‘new normal'.”

Similar versions of this strategy are already being looked at in the region — referred to as “tourism bubbles.” Basically, a country will open borders reciprocally with destinations that also have their coronavirus situation under control.

Once Thailand does open to international tourists, they'll likely only be able to visit certain spots, says Yuthasak.

“We have studied a possibility of offering special long-stay packages in isolated and closed areas where health monitoring can be easily controlled — for example, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui. This will be beneficial for both tourists and local residents, since this is almost a kind of quarantine.”

Yuthasak says they're finishing up a framework to restart tourism, but much of the decision-making lies in the hands of the CCSA — the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration — which will decide when is the best time to open the border.

city street 1246870 1920

Phuket-based Bill Barnett, managing director of Asia-focused consulting firm C9 Hotelworks, says “baby steps are needed” to reignite international tourism.

“The next step is bilateral agreements between countries,” Yuthasak told CNN.

“Thailand's good standing in the face of the crisis with China, along with strong pent-up demand, make it a logical short-term solution for overseas tourism to return to the Kingdom.”

For now, Thailand isn't taking any chances and the country's borders are firmly shut.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) has issued a temporary ban on all international commercial flights into the country until June 30, excluding repatriation flights. The Thais who do return on these flights are put into quarantine facilities for 14 days.

Meanwhile, on May 26, the Thai Cabinet agreed to extend the nationwide state of emergency until June 30.

Thailand has seemingly managed to avoid the ravages of the virus experienced by many other nations around the world.

When this story was published, the country had recorded 3,042 Covid-19 cases and 57 deaths. It's reporting only a handful of new Covid-19 cases each day — occasionally even zero. Instances of local transmissions are low, with most recent Covid-19 infections discovered in quarantined returnees.

Thailand is now focused on reopening to domestic tourism in June, says Yuthasak. Resorts and hotels in some tourism destinations throughout the country have already been given the green light to reopen, including in Hua Hin, a popular beach resort about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Bangkok.

Nationwide lockdown measures put in place in late March have been easing in stages throughout May.

Malls, markets, museums and some tourist attractions have already reopened and more are slated to follow. Bangkok's Grand Palace, for instance, will reopen June 4.

National parks, theme parks, stadiums, spas, massage shops and cinemas remain closed, but local media reports some will likely be given the go-ahead reopen in June.

Restaurants — limited to offering only delivery and take-out services in late March — can now allow customers to dine in but are banned from serving alcohol and must adhere to strict social distancing measures. Pubs and night clubs remain closed, and a curfew is in place from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Local transport networks are increasing services, including rail and bus lines, while airlines are upping the number of domestic flights.

Phuket International Airport, however, remains closed until further notice.

Thailand's most popular tourism island emerged as a coronavirus hotspot in March, facing the highest infection rate per capita out of all of Thailand's 77 provinces.

As a result, Phuket officials imposed strict lockdown measures and embarked on an intensive drive to test residents.

But with cases slowing to a trickle in recent days, embattled travel industry players question the continued closure of the island's airport when the rest of the country is opening to domestic flights.

“The Phuket tourism sector at the moment is sad, stunned, annoyed and dismayed at the lack of a defined plan to reopen the airport,” says Barnett.

“The recent 24-hour notice by CAAT of a sustained closure was a hard pill to swallow for a damaged industry. There is no point to open hotels, while the airport is the trigger for reopening. The vague notice and lack of a clarity on when the airport [will reopen] makes it impossible for businesses to plan forward actions.”

Even with domestic tourism starting to kick off in some provinces, it's only a drop in the bucket.

In 2019, nearly 40 million tourists visited Thailand, according to government data. The TAT estimates only 14 to 16 million will visit this year.

Financially stressed hotels in need of cash flow have already started aggressively selling hotel rooms and vouchers, says Barnett, while also looking to the local market to provide some relief.

“Staycations and road trips are being touted but in a country where tourism represents 12 to 14 percent of the GDP, these small bites are not going to bridge the road to recovery,” he says. “Broader ASEAN bilateral agreements and getting airports open and airlines back in the air is what's needed.”

Bangkok's Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the city's most popular shopping destinations, reopened on May 9. But though Thais and expats have returned, it's simply not enough foot traffic for vendors to make a sustainable living, says shop owner Tassanee Larlitparpaipune.

“International tourists make up about 50 percent of my customer base,” she says. “Most are from Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia.”

Before the Lunar New Year holiday in January, Tassanee owned four clothing shops at the market. She has since closed two and is now considering shuttering a third and shifting her focus to online orders.

But the Covid-19 pandemic hasn't had completely negative consequences. As seen in other once busy global destinations, Thailand's wildlife has benefited from the global shutdown — particularly marine animals.

Marine biologist Dr. Thon Thammawongsawat says the changes he's witnessed have been remarkable, with animals returning to destinations once crowded with humans.

“For example, pink dugongs were spotted around Ban Pe, in Koh Samet and green turtles laid eggs for the first time in six years at Koh Samui beaches,” he says.

More than 200 of these turtles were born on the secluded beach of the Banyan Tree Samui resort, with three nests hatching between April 4 and 24, according to hotel staff.

Other species of turtles have returned to Thailand's shores to lay eggs, too.

“The most crucial indicator of positive side effects from this crisis is that we've seen leatherback turtles lay eggs in the highest amount since we began recording statistics eight years ago,” says Thon.

“Last year, we recorded that there were about 100 leatherbacks hatched. This year, up until now, there are more than 300 hatched and returned to the sea.”

The country's national parks officials say they hope to preserve some of these gains.

“The department has decided to close national parks — both land and marine parks — every year between two to three months a year,” Sompoch Maneerat, director of information for Thailand's Department of National Parks, tells CNN Travel.

“Durations and dates will be varied depending on the nature of each location. The purpose is to achieve sustainable tourism, where nature can rest during the low season.”

As for popular Maya Bay, where the 2000 movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio was filmed, Sompoch says it will remain closed until at least 2021, as the ecosystem has not yet fully recovered to an acceptable level.

The bay has been closed since June 2018 part of a rejuvenation program aimed at reviving the area's decimated corals.

CNN

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

With the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastation to tourist destinations such as Mexico and South America, it’s time to consider creating “travel bubbles. Volunteer vacation destinations closer to the U.S.’s proximity may be more likely to open for travel.


U.S. 'Travel Bubbles' Would Let Us Fly Safely and Bring Back Millions of Jobs

With the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastation to tourist destinations in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and South America, it’s time to consider creating “travel bubbles.

Andres Oppenheimer
Miami Herald (TNS)
May 26, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastation to tourist destinations in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico and South America, it’s time to consider creating “travel bubbles” — or corridors — between countries. That’s what Australia and New Zealand have just done, and it should be done everywhere.

Granted, it may be too soon to expect a significant resumption of international travel in the Americas. But it’s time to start planning for it.

Italy and Spain gradually are reopening tourism destinations; Orlando’s Universal theme park has announced it will reopen in early June; Miami Beach plans to reopen its beaches and hotels on June 1.

It makes sense to plan for a gradual normalization of international flights in July or August, and save millions of tourism-related jobs.

Virtually no other part of the economy has been as crippled by the coronavirus pandemic as the travel industry. According to the London-based World Travel and Tourism Council, a private-sector group, about 100 million tourism jobs worldwide have been affected by the ongoing crisis.

In the Caribbean, tourism-dependent countries are projected to see their economies shrink by 7.5 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. In the Bahamas, tourism accounts for 70 percent of the economy.

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To ensure the tourism industry’s quick and safe recovery, the United States and Latin American countries should emulate Australia, which recently announced the gradual opening of a “travel bubble” with New Zealand, a country that has been similarly successful in combating the pandemic. This will allow citizens from the two nations to travel as if they were in their own countries.

Likewise, Germany, Austria and other European countries with declining infection rates are creating a “Green Zone” travel corridor between them. In Asia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore are planning their own “travel bubble.”

Unfortunately, the Trump administration is threatening to move in the opposite direction. On May 19, Trump said that he’s “considering” a travel ban on Latin America, particularly on Brazil.

That would be absurd, considering that the United States has far more COVID-19 deaths — both in absolute terms and on a per-capita basis — than any Latin American country.

With 4 percent of the world’s population, the United States has more than 28 percent of the world’s COVID-19 death, with a death toll of 27.6 fatalities per 100,000 people, compared to Ecuador’s 16.4 deaths, Brazil’s eight deaths and Mexico’s four deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.

“The United States should start planning for “travel bubbles” within the region as soon as possible,” Gloria Guevara, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, told me. “You could have, for instance, travel corridors between some U.S. cities and safe tourism destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.”

Likewise, South American countries at similar stages of their COVID-19 contagion curve should start mapping their own travel bubbles. Perhaps Colombia, Peru and Chile should start planning for their own “bubble,” she added.

Asked how countries can protect themselves from infected travelers, Guevara said passengers would have to get 15-minute saliva tests, performed at airports, before they could depart on international flights.

That way, if you fly from Miami to Cancun, you would know that all passengers on your flight are free of COVID-19. The same thing would happen at the Cancun airport on your flight back, she said.

“What’s needed is greater coordination between countries,” Guevara said. “Right now, many countries don’t even agree on accepting each other’s COVID-19 tests.”

Of course, there’s no guarantee that international travel bubbles will be totally safe. But neither is current domestic travel within the United States, given that states have widely different COVID-19 infection rates.

The bottom line is that Trump should leave behind his jingoistic isolationist demagoguery and forget about a travel ban to Latin American countries that have lower COVID-19 death rates than the United States.

Instead, he should start talks with countries in the region to gradually and safely create “travel bubbles” or “green zones.” That would help save millions of jobs in the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America.

Don’t miss the “Oppenheimer Presenta” TV show at 9 p.m. E.T. Sunday on CNN en Español. Twitter: @oppenheimera

———

©2020 Miami Herald

 

Additional Info

  • Source Miami Herald

Mexico, one of the top ten countries in the world for travel and tourism plans to reopen its doors to travelers starting in June but not all at the same time. Globe Aware is closely monitoring as the country opens regions in stages.


(CNN) — Mexico, one of the top ten countries in the world for tourism according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), plans to reopen its doors to travelers starting in June -- albeit not all at the same time.

Similar to other nations globally, Mexico has been on lockdown due to Covid-19, forcing hotels and restaurants to temporarily close their doors and putting pre-booked tours on hold, such as cenotes snorkeling trips, Mexico City food tours and excursions to Mayan ruins.

"The plan for the country is to open in stages and by regions," says WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara. "The target is domestic travelers first, followed by travelers from the US and Canada and then the rest of the world."

There is still a Global Health Advisory (Level 4: Do Not Travel) in place, advising all US citizens not to travel internationally due to the coronavirus. And most international flights into and out of Mexico's major airports have been suspended or greatly reduced.mexico 3774303 1920

In a recent press release, however, Delta Air Lines announced an uptick in flights beginning in June, "While the June schedule is significantly reduced in comparison to last year, customers will see the return of several major routes, both US domestic and international, which were previously suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic."

There will be daily flights from Atlanta to Cancun and Mexico City, and less frequent flights to those destinations originating from Detroit and Salt Lake City. Flights originating from Los Angeles will transport passengers to Los Cabos and Puerta Vallarta and a less-than-daily schedule.


Quintana Roo

Tourist hotspot, Quintana Roo, a state on the Caribbean side of Mexico, is home to mainstay beach vacation spots such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. Quintan Roo is preparing to resume some tourism in June, according to local tourist boards.

Quintana Roo is especially significant to the country's tourism economy, with 110,000 hotel rooms -- the highest in Mexico -- and 22.8 million visitors in 2019, also the highest in the nation.

Marisol Vanegas, the state's tourism secretary, said that, as of May 18, Quintana Roo began implementing new health and safety standards for any sector related to tourism including hotels, restaurants, bars and tour companies. Every business must receive a certification indicating that it has met these standards before reopening. "We want to revive tourism and expect to start opening sights and hotels sometime between June 10 and 15 but don't know which ones yet," says Vanegas. "It depends on what the federal government allows us to do."


Los Cabos

On the Pacific side, at the southernmost tip of Baha California Sur, Los Cabos offers 18,000 hotel rooms, and in 2019, hosted 3 million visitors. Los Cabos also hopes to revive tourism as of June with a five-phase plan: initially, the region will focus on implementing health and safety guidelines across its travel industry. Most notably, travel suppliers that meet high hygiene standards will receive a "Clean Point" quality certification from the Mexican government.

Come July, many hotels will start accepting guests, says Rodrigo Esponda, the managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board, and the international terminal at the airport is also expected to reopen.

In August and September, the plan is to welcome travelers from within Mexico and internationally, especially those who had to postpone their trips due to Covid-19. By the first quarter of 2021, the region hopes to restore 60 percent of air connectivity, along with 80 percent of bookings.

"We are anticipating 40 percent fewer visitors in 2020 than we had in 2019," says Esponda. "We had a strong start to the year and see a lot of repeat visitors from California which helps us a lot."

Riviera Nayrit

Riviera Nayarit, north of Puerta Vallarta, is another popular beach destination in Mexico, but when it reopens to tourism remains to be seen, says Richard Zarkin, the public relations manager for the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"We're taking a wait and see approach," he says. "Right now, we have no plans to open anything and don't have hotels that are taking reservations. It depends on what the federal government tells us at the end of this month."

In the meantime, the tourism bureau just debuted a Tourism Wellness and Best Practices Guide with new sanitation protocols for travel related entities like hotels, tour operators, spas, restaurants and airports. These standards are a compilation of hygiene guidelines from various sources including the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and a handful of countries including the US and Canada.

Isolated in nature

Further south on the coast of the state of Jalisco is luxury resort, Costa Careyes, a relatively untouched locale within a 35,000-acre nature reserve. The remoteness of this less-touristed area, along with stringent adherence to coronavirus safety guidelines, has kept Careyes coronavirus-free. Kim Kessler, a spokesperson for the property says, "The immediate vicinity has had absolutely no cases of coronavirus to date, and they are doing everything to keep the area safe and protected."

Proceeding with extreme caution, Kessler says, "Careyes will start to open to visitors this summer, hopefully by the end of June, depending on when the borders fully open to tourists. The property will impose a mandatory two-week quarantine period through the end of September. During that time, visitors are encouraged to stay in their villas or suites and just visit Careyitos beach."

Tourists want to visit

Even without an official reopening set in stone for now, travelers are showing an interest in heading to Mexico in the coming months.

Zachary Rabinor, the founder and chief executive of the luxury travel company Journey Mexico, says that after almost two months of dead business, he is getting inquiries for stays in June as well as November and December; several of these requests have resulted in bookings.

"Since people are more interested in privacy and isolation, most of the requests are for villas in Los Cabos, Punta Mita and Riviera Maya," he says. "When it comes to hotels, these prospective clients, who are mostly from the US, only want properties that offer stand-alone rooms and villas."

Mr. Rabinor added that his company has several million dollars in bookings for stays later this year that were confirmed before Covid-19; thus far, none have been canceled.

Another sign that Mexico is beginning a travel comeback, even if it's slow: Posadas, a hotel operator with more than 186 properties in the country, has received 3,000 bookings a week across its portfolio for stays from July through September. The majority of these reservations are in beach locales such as Los Cabos and Cancun, says the company's COO Enrique Calderon. "Last year, we had four times as many bookings during this same time period, but still, this is a sign of hope," he says.

Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende

Both Mexico City and San Miguel del Allende remain on lockdown.

Mexico City plans to ease restrictions as early as June 1, according to a statement from the city's major Claudia Sheinbaum.

San Miguel de Allende is also easing restrictions beginning June 1. The plan is to establish checkpoints at every road of entry, requiring anyone arriving in the city to register with the local health department, providing names and lengths of stay, and submitting to a temperature check.

CNN's Brekke Fletcher contributed reporting.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

For most countries, staying isolated is not an option they can afford long-term, and experts predict it's just a matter of time before other countries create travel bubbles of their own. Countries are searching for pair-up partners, that appear to have their outbreaks under control, Globe Aware will be staying updated with this information as well.


The future of tourism in the coronavirus era: Asia may hold answers to what's ahead

Julia Hollingsworth and Kocha Olarn
CNN
May 13, 2020

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) — It's a sunny day on Bangkok's most famous tourist street, and shopkeeper Cletana Thangworachai is open for business.

Her Khao San Road shop is crowded with shiny magnets, brightly colored elephant key rings and the patterned cotton pants that have become an unofficial uniform for backpackers in Southeast Asia.

But for now, there's no one to buy them.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on travel, with the UN World Tourism Organization estimating that international tourism could decline by up to 80% this year over 2019, putting at least 100 million jobs at risk.

In Thailand, where tourism makes up 18% of the country's GDP, the Tourism Authority expects visitor numbers could be down 65% this year.

Many, like Cletana, are struggling to make ends meet. Before Covid-19, she could make $300 a day. In April, Thailand banned all international flights into the country, and now, her daily earnings are down to $2 -- sometimes even zero.

But the 45-year-old, who has been selling souvenirs on the street for more than a decade, still opens her shop each day, hoping that she may get lucky with a rare passing tourist.

With so much at stake for livelihoods and economies, countries around the world are looking at ways to keep tourism businesses afloat.

New Zealand and Australia have committed to creating a "travel bubble" allowing visits between the two countries -- once it's safe to do so. China has begun allowing domestic travel, although its borders are still shut to most foreigners. Thailand is considering special tourism resorts that double as quarantine zones.

But experts warn that even with new initiatives, it could take years for travel to rise to pre-Covid-19 levels. And even when it happens, we might never travel in the same way again.

Travel bubbles

In the short term, the future of tourism is regional travel bubbles.

Australia and New Zealand have committed to a travel corridor, which is not expected to come for a few months. In Europe, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have announced plans to open their internal borders for citizens of the three countries from May 15.

For most countries, staying isolated is not an option they can afford long-term, and experts predict it's just a matter of time before other countries create travel bubbles of their own.

Vietnam and Thailand could look at creating a travel corridor over the next few months, according to Thailand-based Mario Hardy, chief executive of the nonprofit Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).

Aviation analyst Brendan Sobie expects to see similar arrangements within Europe and North America.

When countries are looking for pair-up partners, he says they will be considering a few factors. They'll look for countries that appear to have their outbreaks under control -- and that have statistics they can trust.

Hardy thinks they're also likely to stay regional at first.

They're also likely to pair with countries that they already have strong geopolitical relationships with, says Hong Kong University tourism geographer Benjamin Iaquinto, adding that New Zealand and Australia already have a tight political relationship so their pairing makes sense.

In Asia, the big question will be over China -- the world's largest market for outbound tourism.

Surveys show that Chinese tourists are keen to stick with what they know and not travel too far, says Bill Barnett, the managing director of global hospitality consultancy C9 Hotelworks. That means Thailand, which attracts around 11 million Chinese tourists a year, could be one of the first to open up travel to China.

China may be less interested in opening up travel to places where there was anti-China sentiment during the outbreak -- places such as Australia, says Freya Higgins-Desbiolles, a senior lecturer at the University of South Australia who researches tourism.

"I think tourism is going to be damaged by the geopolitical games or strategies that had been played out to take advantage of the crisis," she says.

And bubbles will be volatile. If there's a resurgence of cases in a country, the travel corridors will just close, adds Hardy.

Reopening borders

It's likely to be a long time before there's widespread traveling beyond our regional bubbles, say experts.

That means that travel from the United States to Asia, for instance, will be a long time away, notes Hardy.

"Until they get the situation under control within the United States, no countries or very few countries will allow them to travel to their destinations," Hardy says. "Others who don't have the situation under control will be left out for a period of time."

For countries that are heavily dependent on tourism, they will need to balance health concerns with economic concerns. But even if they feel pressure to open up beyond a bubble, that doesn't necessarily mean they will see a flood of visitors.

"If one country wants to open up, but nobody is comfortable going to that country for whatever reason, it's not going to work," points out Sobie.

And there may still be travel strategies besides bubbles.

Thailand is considering opening certain areas to foreign tourists, meaning that visitors are effectively contained in one place, such as an island.

New Zealand claims it has "eliminated" the coronavirus as the country announces the easing of restrictions from "level four" to "level three," with new cases in single figures.

"This will be beneficial for both tourists and local residents, since this is almost a kind of quarantine," says Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn.

But the appeal of that will depend on what quarantine rules stay in place -- if Australians still need to go through a two-week quarantine after they return from a Thailand holiday, they might not be overly keen on an island retreat.

Meanwhile, countries that normally attract large numbers of foreign students may look at loosening rules to let them in. That includes New Zealand, which is considering allowing foreign students back into the country if they complete a two-week quarantine, national broadcaster Radio New Zealand reported.

Immunity passports

From Athens to Brussels to London, CNN's International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson documents once familiar, now unusual, travel across Europe during the Covid-19 pandemic.

After 9/11, airports around the world rolled out additional safety measures. Experts expect coronavirus will be the same but with the focus on health.

The question that remains to be answered is what those measures will look like.

Passengers may have their temperature checked at the airport or be tested for coronavirus before they board the plane. But there are issues to be worked out around that. Authorities will need to be comfortable that rapid tests are accurate and decide how long before a flight a passenger needs to be tested.

Another suggestion is that passengers carry immunity passports, which signify if they are immune to coronavirus. China has already rolled out a form of that -- all citizens have a QR code that changes color depending on their health status. They need to show it to get into restaurants and shopping malls.

What will staying in a hotel look like in the near future?

But again, there are issues that need to be worked out.

The immunity passports rely on the idea that people who have recovered from Covid-19 can't be reinfected. But for now, there's no evidence that they have antibodies that protect them from a second infection, according to the World Health Organization.

Even if they have developed immunity, it's not clear how long that would last. Also, we don't yet have widespread antibody testing, which would be necessary for this to work.

The immunity passports could also be used to indicate whether a person has been vaccinated against coronavirus -- but it could be 18 months or more before there's a vaccine on the market, and even longer before there are mass vaccinations around the world.

"My understanding is you can't expect international travel to go back to what it was before, really until we have a vaccine," says Higgins-Desbiolles. "A lot of this is guessing at this moment and looking forward."

What comes next

With so much unknown about tourism's future, there's a battle raging within the industry about whether this could end up changing tourism forever -- possibly even for the better.

Some, like Barnett, think that eventually things will go back to normal.

"I'm not saying it's going to happen today or tomorrow, it's going to be a two-year climb uphill to get this back," he says. "This is not going to 360 the travel business."

Others, like Hardy and Higgins-Desbiolles, see this as an opportunity for a reset -- a time to look at addressing longstanding issues such as the effects of overtourism on local cultures and the environment.

"There's people like me who say that we need to rethink everything," says Higgins-Desbiolles.

"If you do things right, where you get this idea of tourism being based upon this idea of fairness, hospitality, respect and good interactions, everybody benefits from it because then you feel welcomed as a tourist."

She wants to see tourism that's slower and more thoughtful -- tourism that doesn't just benefit the traveler, but also the local economies and local communities.

In theory, that means people such as Cletana and others working in Bangkok stand to benefit. But for now, they are more focused on the immediate future.

On Thursday, Niwet Phumiwetsoonthorn, who has been driving tuk-tuks on Khao San Road, told CNN Travel his daily income had slipped from up to $70 down to $2 or even nothing. He has no money to send back to his wife and children in another province.

For the first time in his life, he has been queuing for food donations.

Cruise passengers have gone home, but the crews that looked after them are still stuck at sea

"I just can't spend my whole day inside my room and watch news on TV. It makes me even more anxious," says Niwet, who still waits on the street with his friends though he has no customers. "We are cheering each other up to pass the day."

Shop owner Cletena -- a widow with a son who requires treatment for health issues -- has little savings and no plan B.

"I don't know if and how this is going to get better," she says. "This kind of outbreak -- people will be scared for a long time."

Julia Hollingsworth reported and wrote from Wellington, New Zealand. Kocha Olarn reported from Bangkok, Thailand.

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  • Source CNN
Sunday, 26 April 2020 12:24

Coronavirus will reshape travel

Coronavirus will change your next volunteer vacation because you may be paying less for travel, and there will be more flexibility. Larger gatherings like festivals and concerts will not be at the forefront of many people's travel plans.


Coronavirus will reshape your next trip, for better or worse. Here's what to expect

Christopher Elliott
Special to USA TODAY

Henry Perez' summer vacation will be a little different this year. In addition to packing his swimsuit and camera for an Eastern Caribbean cruise this August, he's also planning to bring plenty of masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant.

"I will now personally sanitize my whole stateroom," says Perez, who works for an extermination company in Boston. "The attendants do a good job, but I want that extra layer of security."

airport

Perez' behavior may have seemed odd before the pandemic. But it underscores one of three key concerns – and possibly changes – that will define travel in the future.

"The travel industry needs to do a better job communicating with guests to assure them of hygiene and safety," says Xiang Li, director of Temple University's U.S.-Asia Center for Tourism & Hospitality Research.

How coronavirus will change your next vacation

  • You'll pay less. Look for lots of deals and better values.
  • Your ticket will be more flexible. Change fees and refund rules will stay away for the rest of the year, maybe longer.
  • Your vacation will be cleaner and safer. Your airline, cruise line and hotel will emphasize their hygiene and safety.

"All three will help bring customers back," says Li.

How low can you go?

"The price battles will start as soon as traveling is allowed again," predicts Inga Stumpf, who owns a small inn in Höfn, Iceland.

Trip.com Group, the Shanghai-based company that operates online travel agencies Trip.com, Skyscanner, and Ctrip.com, says prices to China may be a sign of things to come. Some of its tours are discounted between 50% and 80%.

"As of now, more than 1,600 attractions have opened in China," says company spokeswoman Wendy Min. "We are already seeing a lot of interest."

Travelers have already seen deep discounts in North America. They include 80% off hotel rates and up to 40% off airfares, as I mentioned last week. But as the shelter-in-place orders are lifted, prices could go even lower as travel companies compete aggressively for your travel dollar.

Bending a few rules for you

Flexibility will be a defining feature of your next vacation, experts say. The coronavirus crisis has forced operators to bend a lot of their rules.

"Hotels and tour operators are usually willing to offer additional flexibility – either in terms of refunds or ability to apply credits to a future stay or trip," says Vanessa Snider, founder of The Luxury Service, a Virtuoso-affiliated travel agency in Los Angeles.

Travel pros expect that flexibility to last until the end of this year, possibly longer. The chance of a return of COVID-19 would make it difficult to sell a more restrictive ticket or hotel room.

But there's a second kind of flexibility that may also affect your future trip. It's the willingness of a country to let you cross the border. Will popular destinations like France and Italy allow Americans to visit? Or will they begin to require health certificates or visas?

"This is something we are watching very closely," Snider says.

Stay clean, stay safe

Here's another way coronavirus is changing your next vacation. Travelers are demanding that everything is squeaky clean, says Tim Kerin, who runs a luxury villa in Costa Rica. "The focus has to be on the guests' peace of mind," he says. "Health and safety first."

At their villa, they've upped their housekeeping services since the pandemic. Kerin has a full-time housekeeper on staff to do laundry and wipe down the interiors of the home every day. That's in addition to the daily cleaning service. Germaphobes will feel right at home.

On a broader scale, airlines have changed some of their boarding procedures to keep passengers safe. For example, Delta Air Lines is boarding just 10 passengers at a time to keep the risk of infection to a minimum. And airlines are keeping middle seats empty to maintain social distancing. That will continue for as long as load factors allow. Beyond that, it may be up to health officials to determine when passengers are too close.

Wayne Smith, a professor of hospitality and tourism at the College of Charleston, says technology will help maintain social distancing. "I expect that more automation will be introduced into the industry," he says. "Things like self check-in or a concierge service via app. I also think you will see more automation in food service as well with ordering via an app or tablet."

Bottom line: Coronavirus will change your next vacation. You'll pay less, you'll have more flexibility than ever. And if you're a germaphobe, there will never be a better time to travel. Everything will be shrink-wrapped and disinfected.

But it'll be worth it, says Thomas Swick, author of the book "The Joys of Travel."

"Cities that used to be packed with visitors will be more like themselves again," he says. "Their residents, rather than resenting our presence, will be happy to see us. It will be rather idyllic, initially, save for the lingering fear of contagion and illness which will turn those first tourists into grand adventurers."

Maybe that's a change for the better.

Three things that coronavirus might kill

The breakfast buffet. Hotels are going to have to seriously rethink the way they serve food, says Stephen Fofanoff, an innkeeper at Domaine Madeleine, a bed and breakfast in Port Angeles, Washington. "We've eliminated our common breakfast dining experience in favor of delivered in-room dining," he says.

International trips. At least initially, most vacations will happen domestically. "After the lockdown is lifted, tourism will be more national and regional," predicts Simone Semprini, CEO of TourScanner. "Countries will exit the crisis at different moments and the only thing they can do to avoid the virus entering the country again will be closing the national borders."

Concerts and cramped seating

"Social distancing will be forever with us," says Michael Sheridan, an assistant professor of tourism and hospitality management at Temple University. "Larger gatherings like festivals and concerts will not be at the forefront of many people's travel plans until a vaccine or known antibodies are present to secure a safe travel experience for their entire family." Also out: crammed seating on planes. 

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Thursday, 23 April 2020 15:30

Thailand's rare sea turtles make a comeback

While the number of tourists on Thai beaches have fallen, the number of rare sea turtle has grown!


Coronavirus lockdown boosts numbers of Thailand's rare sea turtles

Largest number of nests of leatherbacks found in two decades as beaches emptied

Reuters

Thailand has discovered the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades on beaches bereft of tourists because of the coronavirus pandemic, environmentalists say.

From wild boars strolling through the Israeli city of Haifa to deer venturing into London suburbs, lockdowns are drawing wildlife into many emptied areas.

In Thailand, with 2,792 infections and 47 deaths as of Monday morning, travel curbs ranging from a ban on international flights to an appeal to citizens to stay at home have resulted in a collapse in tourist numbers, and freed up the beaches for wildlife.

The 11 turtle nests authorities have found since last November were the highest number in 20 years, said Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Centre.

“This is a very good sign for us because many areas for spawning have been destroyed by humans,” he said. No such nests had been found for the previous five years.

“If we compare to the year before, we didn’t have this many spawn, because turtles have a high risk of getting killed by fishing gear and humans disturbing the beach.”

Leatherbacks are the world’s largest sea turtles. They are considered endangered in Thailand, and listed as a vulnerable species globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

They lay their eggs in dark and quiet areas, scarce when tourists thronged the beaches. People have also been known to dig into their nests and steal eggs.

Late in March, staff at a national park in the southern province of Phang Nga, bordering the Andaman Sea, found 84 hatchlings after monitoring eggs for two months.

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Wednesday, 01 April 2020 12:24

Explore Art & Culture During Quarantine

You Can Now Tour 2,500 World-Famous Museums From the Comfort of Your Own Sofa

By McKinley Corbley
Good News Network
Mar 17, 2020

If you have suddenly found yourself confined to your home during the COVID-19 shutdowns, Google has launched an ingenious new service that allows art lovers to get their culture fix from the comfort of their own home.

Google Arts and Culture has partnered with more than 2,500 museums and galleries around the world in order to offer virtual tours and online displays of their collections to internet surfers.

The “tours” allow users to wander through the interiors of the world’s most famous museums similarly to the Google Street View feature. Users can also download Google’s free Arts and Culture iOS or Android app for a much more immersive museum experience.

 In addition to offering the tours, many of the museums are also offering up detailed online collections of their masterpieces just in case you want to get up close and personal with one of Vincent Van Gogh’s self-portraits.

The tech company has partnered with such prestigious institutions as the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Uffizi Gallery of Florence, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York—just to name a few from Google’s top ten shortlist.

new york guggenheim

If you’re still looking to get an artistic fix from your smartphone, you can also use the “Send Me SFMOMA” texting service from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The service allows you to request an artwork of a specific topic right through your phone. For instance, if you text “Send me beaches” or “Send me New York City”, a bot will search the museum’s digitized collection of almost 35,000 works for a masterpiece related to your topic. To learn more, click here.

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  • Source Good News Network

Coronavirus: a message from GoAbroad’s founder to travelers

Dear Travelers & GoAbroad Community,

We are still here. Our employees are working from home, but they are still hard at work to help make meaningful travel possible. We have heard from many of you, and know that some of you are still traveling somewhere in the world, some of you are still planning to travel in the future, some of you have postponed your travels, and regrettably some of you have had to cancel your trips. We understand that there are many challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.

In this time of uncertainty, global suffering, and sacrifice I am reminded of Mr. Rogers’ famous quote, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.” GoAbroad is a community of helpers. We are millions of individuals who already identify as part of a global community, a family of humanity separated only by distance and political boundaries. Today, the world needs everyone to sit and wait and collectively as a human family, curb the spread of COVID-19. When this has passed, the world will be there and there will be an infinite number of opportunities to travel and to become helpers once again.

If you are currently abroad or are preparing for a trip in the near future, we strongly encourage you to listen to the people who have spent their careers working in this field and heed the advice of reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

We understand that many of you, in light of the global situation, are stuck at home because of school closures, office closures, travel restrictions, or are simply trying to figure out what to do next. I want you to know that we are still uploading new travel content with you in mind. From articles written by travelers to interviews with alumni travelers, as well as program reviews from individuals who have studied, worked, volunteered, taught, participated in an internship abroad, or traveled abroad for any other type of meaningful experience. There’s a world of advice and program options to read about and consider.

Here are just a few things that you can explore anywhere with an internet connection:

The entire GoAbroad team encourages you to keep dreaming & planning your meaningful travel!

Keep dreaming, keep researching, and keep planning. This will not last forever. There will be another opportunity to travel in the future. We know you are doing what is right for you and your loved ones. Just know, the world will be there for you to experience whenever you are ready, and so will we. GoAbroad will be here to help make your travel dreams come true, and meaningful travel opportunities will not go away.

We hope this will become a definable period of history that challenges the world to unite and work together to overcome.

Be safe, be informed, be positive, and keep dreaming!

Troy Peden, Founder of GoAbroad.com

 

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A little Irish cheer on this St. Patrick’s Day thanks to some rescue pups and a coffee shop. Enjoy!


This Coffee Company Helps Save Rescue Pups — And They Have St. Patrick’s Day Goodies, Too

By Morgan Smith
March 16, 2020
People

When’s the last time you skipped the long line at a coffee shop and brewed your own cup of joe at home? Or hit snooze to sneak in a few extra minutes of cuddling with your pet before work?

Grounds & Hounds, a California-based coffee company, is encouraging people to do just that.

Jordan Karcher, 32, founded the company in 2014 after adopting his “sidekick” Molly, a sweet 9-year-old dalmatian. The company donates 20 percent of all its profits to help fund rescue programs in animal shelters across the United States.

Their Rescue Roast donates 100 percent of its profits to a new rescue organization each month. Through April 15th, that’s Pandas Paws Rescue, an organization that rescues and rehabilitates animals with serious medical issues and/or special needs.

puppy

I got to sample the Rescue Roast, and it was fantastic. The medium roast has a nutty, bitter flavor with subtle sweet notes of caramel and dark chocolate. A 12 oz bag of whole beans or grounds costs $14.99.

Since Grounds & Hounds introduced the product on their website in 2018, they’ve raised more than $45,000 to help support rescue organizations throughout the country, according to Karcher. Those organizations include the Marley’s Mutts Pawsitive Change Prison Program, which pairs incarcerated men with shelter dogs for rehabilitation, and the Pittsburgh Aviation Animal Rescue Team, which helps transport animals at risk of being euthanized to open shelters.

You don’t have to be a coffeehead to support these causes either. Grounds & Hounds also sells t-shirts, pet accessories, and stickers, too. For St. Patrick’s Day, they recently unveiled their “Rub Bellies For Good Luck” line, which shows a Dalmatian holding a four-leaf clover in its mouth. My favorite is their new Affogato candle ($32.99), which fills the room with a dreamy vanilla scent.

Next, Karcher tells PEOPLE the company is looking to help people entering retirement homes and survivors of domestic violence in shelters who may not be able to bring pets with them to their new residences.

“What we’re thinking about is, ‘How do you really improve that experience of a pet owner?'” he says. “And more importantly, ‘How do you ensure that people who love their pets have every opportunity to provide a full life for them, without putting themselves in a position where they’re deciding who gets to eat?'”

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  • Source People

A light story about a world-traveler and her pet ferret. Enjoy!


This hiking ferret has summited 11 of Colorado's highest peaks

Oliver enjoys camping, kayaking, touring national parks and napping (when he's not stealing pens and socks).

March 13, 2020
By Jen Reeder
Source: TODAY

When paramedic Lauren Smith “impulse-bought” a baby ferret in 2015, she didn’t know much about ferrets. She just knew she wanted a pet and felt it wouldn’t be fair to keep a dog or cat alone in her apartment while she worked 12-hour shifts.

“Somebody mentioned that ferrets sleep 18-20 hours a day, and I was like, ‘That’s perfect,’” she told TODAY.

Little did she know that while awake, young ferrets are extremely energetic. Her ferret, Oliver, would run straight into the wall or try to dive under the TV stand and miss and hit his head. He also engaged in his natural instinct to burrow.

“He destroyed my couch and I was like, ‘I’ve got to do something to get this energy out of this little critter,’” she recalled.

Her solution? Head out together on outdoor adventures.

Lauren Smith and her ferret, OliverTo help Oliver burn off energy, Lauren Smith started taking her ferret on outdoor adventures.Courtesy of Lauren Smith

They started at Caprock Canyons State Park, which wasn't far from their home in Lubbock, Texas. Oliver wore his little harness — not a problem since she gave him so many treats while training to use it — and everything was fine until an ant bit him. He staged a protest and demanded to be carried.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of their adventures. They moved to Colorado and started exploring trails in earnest.

Oliver the Hiking Ferret hikes the Colorado RockiesOliver hikes in Colorado's Indian Peaks Wilderness.Lauren Smith

Now Oliver has hiked 11 of Colorado’s famed "fourteeners" — mountains over 14,000 feet high — and visited eight national parks, including Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and most recently, Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. He's traveled in six U.S. states.

Oliver the Hiking Ferret in a tiny tent.While Oliver sometimes hangs out in his ferret-sized tent, at night he cuddles with Lauren Smith in a sleeping bag.Lauren Smith

When Oliver gets tired on hot days, he hitches a ride in Smith’s backpack. When it’s cold, he likes to crawl into the hood of her jacket, which is like his tiny hammock at home.

“He weighs about as much as a burrito so he’s super light to carry,” she said.

He’s even tried to crawl into the hoods of passing hikers when he’s decided it’s time for a snooze.

“It’s pretty funny,” she said. “I’m like, ‘Oh sorry — he’s looking for a nap!’”

Oliver the Hiking Ferret in snow.Whether it's sunny or snowy, Oliver hits the trails throughout the year.Lauren Smith

In winter, they spend a lot of time hiking in Utah since it’s not blisteringly hot as it is during summer months, and has less snow than Colorado. So far they’ve checked out Arches National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Dead Horse Point State Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.

Oliver the Hiking Ferret hikes in Utah.Oliver hikes the Toadstool Hoodoos Trail near Kanab, Utah.Lauren Smith

Hiking isn’t their only activity. They also enjoy camping — though he snuggles in Smith's sleeping bag at night, he does have his own ferret-sized tent — and kayaking. Oliver wears a life vest for safety.

Oliver the Hiking Ferret kayaks in Arizona.Oliver relaxes in a kayak on Lake Powell in Arizona.Lauren Smith

“We did a test in the bathtub and he did fine. He was able to float for a good 10 minutes without any help. He didn't really need me,” she said.

Thanks to a friend’s suggestion, Smith, 27, documents their adventures on Oliver’s Instagram page under the username hikingferret. She’s surprised how quickly thousands of people started following him and was delighted when Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently mentioned Oliver on his Facebook page.

Oliver the Hiking Ferret and the Breckenridge Troll.Oliver hiked to see Isak Heartstone, a beloved troll sculpture in Breckenridge, Colorado.Lauren Smith

With increased public interest in ferrets like Oliver, Smith said it’s important for people considering a pet ferret to know they need supervision, particularly when they’re young, and that they can be harder to train than dogs.

Also, ferrets are notorious thieves.

“They enjoy stealing and stashing a variety of things,” she said. “Oliver's favorite things to steal are pens and socks.”

Oliver the Hiking Ferret reclines under a double rainbow.Oliver gets excited every time Lauren Smith walks toward their front door, hoping they're about to hit the road.Lauren Smith

Of course, she has no regrets about bringing Oliver home. He’s become quite cuddly as their bond has grown. She’s looking forward to taking him to South Dakota this summer, potentially to Mount Rushmore.

“I really like adventuring with Oliver,” she said. “It’s a whole lot of fun.”

 

Additional Info

  • Source NBC Today Show

Grandparents have little in common with their grandchildren, or so it seems. It may just take a shared experience such as a volunteer vacation in Guatemala to brdge the generational gap.


 Memories worth making

The gap in relating with grandchildren has grown so much wider in the last couple of decades due to the domination of technology in the younger generations. Some grandparents may struggle to relate to the world their grandchildren now live in. Despite this gap in understanding each other, there are still ways to come together, share experiences and make memories that will bring them closer together.

One way of bridging the gap is through travel and more specifically through volunteer travel. In recent years, volunteering abroad has become a way to explore and learn about other cultures. This isn’t the Peace Corps volunteering of yesteryear however. This is an opportunity for multi-generational families to travel abroad, explore, learn and work together.

One way to assure your volunteer abroad will be exciting and full of wonderful memories is to choose a nonprofit organization that has been accredited by the International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA). By choosing an IVPA approved volunteer abroad program, you can have peace of mind that your family’s experience will be fulfilling, safe and filled with long-lasting memories.

That is what grandparents Renee and James did when they chose Globe Aware to celebrate their grandson’s Zeth’s 16th birthday by visiting and volunteering in Guatemala.

guatemala volunteer vacation

Cell phones and laptops were left behind in favour of swimming in beautiful blue waters of Lake Peten Itza, making tortillas, tilling and planting in a community garden and installing a concrete floor for a needy family. Renee and James made some wonderful memories with Zeth, some that will never be forgotten and will always be cherished.

IVPA is committed to standards of excellence in the field of international volunteering and IVPA member organizations must uphold the IVPA’s Principles and Practices as guidelines for good programming as well as meet stringent membership criteria.

IVPA is an association of volunteer sending organizations but does not organize or run its own volunteer programs.

In its early years, IVPA was a forum for all volunteer organizations to exchange ideas and discuss best practices in the industry. By 2000, IVPA represented around 50 organizations and had developed a set of Principles and Practices for the industry.

Today, IVPA and its members stand for responsibility in the field of international volunteering. The IVPA seal is a distinguishing mark of excellence for volunteer programs.

There are countless reasons why thousands of people volunteer abroad each year. You may start with a desire to travel, learn a new language, or meet new people. By volunteering, you’ll also have the opportunity to lend a hand to those who are working to improve life in their communities.

Through your daily work and interactions with members of a local community, you’ll gain a better understanding of the culture, as well as the issues that affect that part of the world. You’ll also learn a lot about yourself, as you take on the challenge of living and working in a completely new environment.

According to the authors of “Alternatives to the Peace Corps” (Food First Books), “While a volunteer may wish to feed the hungry, heal the sick, or house the homeless, these social and political problems are often more complex than they may seem. Thus, the volunteer’s most appropriate role is that of a student.

​Working abroad can better your understanding of the world and forces that keep people impoverished, and enhance your appreciation for the richness of other cultures. For many, volunteer experiences mark the beginning of a lifelong commitment to ending poverty and hunger.”

International volunteers who were interviewed for the publication “How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas” had this to say about their experience volunteering abroad:

“I think it’s given me a greater opportunity to define who I am, to expand the way I view things, to see the world through other people’s eyes, and to incorporate my experiences into the way I think, live, and feel.” – Marlene Larocque, volunteer in Ecuador.

“Volunteering gave me a new perspective on my own cultural values and assumptions. It made me more thoughtful about which ones I truly want to adopt.” – Tracy Hessel, volunteer in Latin America.

“I spend the last year working for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as an International Program Analyst. I got this job because of my overseas experience, including working in a health setting with under-served populations, knowledge of foreign language, as well as a demonstrated leadership ability and maturity.” – Brenda Pierce, volunteer in Costa Ric.

According to the book’s authors, “Volunteering abroad can be one of the most educational, inspiring and exciting things you do in your life. Despite all the challenges, most volunteers we spoke with said that, given the opportunity, they would do it again. Living and working in another culture while donating your time and energy to do a worthwhile cause has great rewards and may enrich your life long after you return home.”

Additional Info

  • Source Grandparents Day Magazine

Largley rural with an agricultural economy, the small South Pacific island nation is a happy nation. 


 

Despite being prone to natural disasters, this Pacific archipelago's unique combination of sustainability and tradition makes it one of the happiest places in the world.

By Bill Code
10 February 2020
BBC Travel

One of the happiest places on Earth sits in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Vanuatu, a slingshot-shaped country that comprises more than 80 islands nearly 2,000km east of Australia, ranked among the four happiest nations in the world – and the happiest outside of the Americas – according to the Happy Planet Index. The rankings take into account a nation’s wellbeing, life expectancy and inequality levels, along with its ecological footprint.

What makes this tiny nation so happy? Since its independence from joint French and British rule in 1980, all land in Vanuatu belongs to the native ni-Vanuatu population and cannot be sold to foreigners. A 2011 survey by the Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO) indicated people with access to land are, on average, happier than those without it. Today, about three-quarters of the country’s 298,000 residents live in rural areas, and the majority of islanders have access to land where they can live and grow their food.

The same survey found that goods such as pigs, yams and the South Pacific crop kava (a kind of pepper plant sometimes used to relieve stress and anxiety) are easily accessible and exchanged in Vanuatu without money.vanuatu

Another source of happiness is the islanders’ strong connection to tradition and the archipelago’s varied landscapes, which range from rocky mountains to coral reefs. “Vanuatu” actually means “Our Land Forever” in many of the 139 indigenous languages spoken by the ni-Vanuatu – making it among the most linguistically dense nations in the world. Indigenous languages are the primary language spoken by 92% of ni-Vanuatu and the vast majority of the population has a strong or moderate understanding of traditional planting cycles, family history and the importance of local flora and fauna.

Yet, the country still faces some challenges. Situated in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire, Vanuatu is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, and in recent years the islands have been threatened by rising sea levels and changes in weather patterns. In fact, the archipelago is considered the world’s most at-risk country for natural hazards, according to a 2014 report by the United Nations University. In 2015, Cyclone Pam swept through the islands, causing extensive damage and leaving 75,000 people homeless. But despite all the wreckage, residents quickly started rebuilding the villages, demonstrating their powerful resilience.

Additional Info

  • Source BBC Travel
Thursday, 05 March 2020 13:03

Top-trending Travel Locations 2020

India has many wonderful, magical travel destinations. Globe Aware offers volunteer vacations in this diverse, culturally-significant country.


Kochi or Cochin was voted the year’s trending destinations in the TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards 2020.

By Clinton Moodle
Feb 27, 2020
Source: IOL

The city in southwest India's coastal Kerala state saw the biggest spike in reviews and ratings on the travel website. And, judging by its many attractions, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.

TripAdvisor revealed why travellers were enticed by this Indian city:

“A blending of several small villages on the southwestern coast created the current incarnation of Kochi (or Cochin), where sunset strolls, sampling fresh fish from seaside vendors and boat rides through the islands just offshore top visitors' to-do lists.

india volunteer vacations

“Art centers showcase the traditional dance, Kathakali. European influences are seen in the 16th-century Portuguese-built churches and forts, while the mark of early Chinese traders is visible in the unusual fishing nets dotting the shoreline.” (sic).

One of the popular tours is the 'funny and helpful Tuk Tuk Tour in Kochin' for only R158. The guide shows you some of the famous places in Kochi with a bit of humour to the tour.

Then there’s also experiences for foodies. If you are interested in learning about the city’s food story, you can book a class to cook Kerala inspired dishes with a local host.

The tour, around R260, provides insight on how to prepare dishes like chapati round bread, dosa, ghee rice, vegetable dishes, fish fry or chicken curry.

The best part, you get to eat what you prepare.

If you do not feel like cooking, then have a local named Joseph prepare a meal for you.

His only request is that you purchase your ingredients at a local market and he will do the rest.

Joseph will take you to the market to do the shopping and insight about the city as he cooks for you.

You will end the evening around the table with Joseph and his family.

Shopping and cultural tours feature heavily on the itineraries. Other trending destinations include Luzon in the Philippines, Porto in Portugal and Porto Seguro in Brazil.

Additional Info

  • Source IOL

 Spain is a popular tourist destination, second only to France.


This country’s tourist arrivals hit a new record high in 2019 - can you guess where?

TOURISM is a key element to every country's infrastructure, providing an opportunity to increase revenue and awareness to what the country has to offer - and one particular location reached a tourism record high.

By LEAH SINCLAIR
Express
February 4, 2020

The number of international visitors to Spain hit a record high of 83.7 million in 2019, Industry and Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said last month.

According to Reuters, tourist arrivals rose one percent last year. Spain is officially the world’s second-most visited country after France.

“We address 2020 with optimism, because we have a strong and consolidated sector, capable of tackling the challenges ahead of us,” said Maroto.

The minister added that one of Spain’s main priorities will be to lure visitors from new countries along with working to have visitors all year long and not only in the summer season.

The Secretary of State for Tourism, Isabel Oliver said: “This magnificent data allows us to face 2020 with solid foundations and with the confidence that we have a strong sector capable of maintaining Spain as a world leader in tourism competitiveness."

Britons still represent the highest proportion of tourists visiting Spain, with 18 million Britons choosing Spain to visit in 2019. However, this was a half a million less than in 2018.

Additionally, Spain has seen more visitors from Asia and the United States which offset the decline of travellers from Britain and Germany.

spain fields

A recent study from CompareTheMarket.com found that Spain remains as one of the key holiday destinations for Britons of all generations.

Spain is most visited by those aged 65 and over and in 2018 it was least visited by 24 to 34 year-olds, accounting for only 13.6 percent of their holidays – but it was still one of their top choices.

Other countries which were popular among all demographics were France, which like Spain, is popular across all age groups, and again fares best among the 65 and over group. 12.5 percent of their holidays were to France in 2018. And like Spain, 25 to 34 year olds visited France least, with only 10 percent of their holidays taking place across the Channel.

For those looking for ways to save money on holiday, the experts from Travelzoo say that you could be saving money before the holiday has even begun.

During the booking process, it can be hard to know whether you are overspending on flights and hotels, especially with so many to choose from.

According to Mr Clarke, though, timing is everything when it comes to making savings.

“Look at shoulder season – this is the time outside of peak, either side of the main holiday periods,” Mr Clarke told Express.co.uk.

“There are some serious bargains available if you can be flexible with your time.”

Shoulder time is an industry term which tends to mean the period outside of school holidays.

During school holidays, popularity for flights and hotels skyrockets, dragging the cost with them.

However, the time between these periods is the perfect opportunity to get your hands on a budget-friendly trip.

“Traditionally this means outside of school holidays and peaks,” explains Mr Clarke.

However, some destinations prices are affected on a seasonal basis too.

“Places like the med are wonderful in May and October,” Mr Clarke continued.

“Always wanted to go to New York? Prices plummet in Jan and Feb due to the cold.

“But if you prepared to wrap up warm there are some seriously good packages.

“And a winter day in New York is usually bright blue skies so it can be a lovely experience.

“Or try Iceland in October before the peak season hits – you can still see the Northern lights but also there the benefit of whale season too before it all freezes over!”

Additional Info

  • Source Self

To encourage more visitors from the European Union and Western Europe, Turkey is relaxing its Visa rules by abolishing associated fees.


By Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
The Independent

February 20 2020

One of the most popular countries for British holidaymakers will abolish its current visa rules for UK tourists from next month.

At present, British travellers must apply online for a permit to travel, which costs US$35 (£27).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara announced: “As of 2 March 2020, Turkey has decided to exempt visa requirements for the members of the European Union Schengen area, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland as well as the United Kingdom citizens for touristic travels to Turkey for every 90 days within 180 day period.

“This step aims at increasing our tourism potential with these countries as well as further developing our trade, economic and cultural relations.”

More than two million Britons travelled to Turkey in 2019.

aya sofia 915076 1920Turkey has applied fees to British visitors for decades. Until recently, UK tourists had to pay £10 in cash to enter the country.

The move has been welcomed by leading travel figures. Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: “The removal of Turkish visa charges is fantastic news for British holidaymakers, as it means more money in their pockets.

“Turkey is one of our most popular destinations, and this news makes it much easier for hard-working British families to enjoy a well-deserved holiday to this beautiful country.”

Ted Wake, director of Kirker Holidays, called the visa abolition “a very smart move at a time when Turkey needs a boost to tourism throughout the country”.

He said: “It’s a decision which would, no doubt, have also pleased Turkey’s 16th-century ruler, Suleiman the Magnificent.

“Arguably Turkey’s most distinguished and outward looking leader of all time, Suleiman has left behind an extraordinary array of treasures, especially in Istanbul.”

The move comes as British travellers face much tougher red tape when entering the European Union from 1 January 2021.

Additional Info

  • Source The Independent
Thursday, 20 February 2020 10:45

Travelling to a Disaster Zone

Considering a vacation to a country or region recently damaged by a natural disaster? Here are some of the ethical questions.


Australia’s recent bushfires are the latest in a spate of terrifying natural disasters across the planet. Can tourists help more by visiting or by donating?

By Tim McDonald
BBC - TRAVEL
19 February 2020

Lorena Granados and Gaspar Roman have set up a temporary leather goods stall by the edge of the road in Mogo, a bushfire-ravaged town in New South Wales, Australia. It sits in front of their old store, which was reduced to warped corrugated iron and ashes when the fires tore through this tiny tourist town of about 300 on New Year’s Eve.

“We can continue to have a purpose in life and get up in the morning and have something to do,” Granados told me. The next few months will be a grind, they said. They’ll be seeking government assistance and dealing with insurers and depending on help from family and friends.

forest fire 3905864 1920The small stall won’t replace their large store and leather workshop. But it’s a start. And every purchase is a step towards returning to normal. Their message is clear: Mogo is safe, and tourist dollars are badly needed, so please visit.

Australia’s recent bushfires, which started raging in September, are the latest in a spate of terrifying natural disasters across the planet. The fires were particularly devastating in New South Wales and Victoria, killing at least 33 people and destroying thousands of homes. More than 11 million hectares of land – an area nearly the size of England – were burnt.

Now that the immediate danger seems to be over in NSW and Victoria, locals want tourists to return to make up for a summer season that was lost to a disaster.

But can tourists help more by visiting or by donating? And is it ethical to travel in a disaster zone, where people are traumatised by their recent experiences?

Tourists can definitely make a difference to these disaster-hit regions, but there are a number of things they should consider before they go.

Should I cancel my trip?

If safety is a concern, then probably not. Heavy rains have put out dozens of the remaining fires in NSW and helped firefighters effectively contain many more. There are only a few areas where bushfires persist. Tourists can check with local authorities in New South Wales and Victoria to see any areas of concern.

Although the immediate bushfire crisis is over, travellers should be prepared to see burnt forests and destroyed homes (Credit: Credit: Phillip Wittke/Getty Images)

Although the immediate bushfire crisis is over, travellers should be prepared to see burnt forests and destroyed homes (Credit: Phillip Wittke/Getty Images)

Hotels and airports in urban centres are open, and the major highways connecting the NSW South Coast region to Sydney and Canberra re-opened in mid-January after catastrophic bushfires, although a few back roads are still closed. In Victoria, the major highways are open, although many roads through the Gippsland region remain shut. And, after it was closed for more than a month, the road to Mallacoota, a town in Victoria from where more than 1,500 people were evacuated by naval ship, was reopened in the second week of February.

Even after a fire has passed through, there are other hazards, like falling branches from fire-damaged trees, downed power lines and asbestos in damaged housing. These are generally avoidable, however, as the authorities seal off areas that are might be dangerous.

Tourists wanted

The fires scuppered many holiday plans but affected areas have slowly been reopening to tourists. One of the hardest hit regions was the South Coast of NSW, which is a summer playground for Sydney and Canberra residents as well as international tourists. Many who come here are repeat customers, heading down year after year to holiday on their favourite stretch of beach, on a coastline that’s known for clear water and soft sand.

We’re just asking people to come to the region and do what they would normally do

“For a lot of people, [NSW’s South Coast] is like a home away from home. And we want people to know that’s still here. There are people that will smile at you on the beach, and cafes that will remember your order from the last time you were here,” said Shannan Perry-Hall, acting tourism manager for Shoalhaven Council, an area several hours drive south of Sydney that includes roughly 80km of coastline.

Many towns were shut down for weeks during the November to February summer season and they need customers to help make up for their lost business. In Shoalhaven, Perry-Hall says, local businesses do nearly a third of their annual trade in the January peak season. This summer, they lost up to 80% of that business.

Jervis Bay on New South Wales’ South Coast is a summer playground for Sydney and Canberra residents (Credit: Credit: Roman Skorzus/Getty Images)

Jervis Bay on New South Wales’ South Coast is a summer playground for Sydney and Canberra residents as well as international tourists (Credit: Roman Skorzus/Getty Images)

“We’re just asking people to come to the region and do what they would normally do,” she said.

Many tourists are happy to help.

fire 1265718 1920Maree Gwynn travelled from her home in Canberra to Batemans Bay, which is perhaps the most accessible beachside retreat for residents of the capital. She came for a few days of rest and relaxation several weeks after the fires swept through the area. It was a deliberate choice, because she wanted to help an area that had not only faced a natural disaster, but also economic stress.

“It’s a considered decision. I will buy gifts for my family. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s something to put into the town,” she said.

Many others are doing the same. A social media campaign has emerged, encouraging people to head to the region with empty eskies (the Australian term for cooler) to fill up on food from local businesses. Tourism bodies are urging Australians to holiday domestically this year, and local councils want people to return.

Go, or just give?

It’s possible to help fire-affected towns without visiting. Cobargo is one of the hardest-hit towns in southern NSW. The fires destroyed 823 buildings (both homes and other structures such as sheds) according to the Bega Valley Shire Council.

Peter Logue is a director of the town’s folk festival, which was due to take place at the end of February. The organisers cancelled it, because some of them lost their homes in the fires, but also because the fire danger hadn’t passed and looked like it could potentially persist for months.

The festival’s website now points people to a community bushfire recovery fund, aimed at helping the town rebuild. And there are plenty of other options for anyone wanting to donate, whether that’s to help injured wildlife or aid indigenous communities affected by the fires. For those who want to donate goods (something some charities discourage), Givit helps link people with items they need.

Major highways in NSW and Victoria are open, although some back roads remain closed (Credit: Credit: mikulas1/Getty Images)

Major highways in NSW and Victoria are open, although some back roads remain closed (Credit: mikulas1/Getty Images)

A few weeks ago, Logue would have advised people to donate rather than visit. But now that the fires have subsided, he thinks the town desperately needs visitors. He said many businesses have faced a drastic downturn because tourists didn’t come over the summer, but they aren’t eligible for government assistance, which is focused on people who have lost property. He said more customers will help revive the town, and tourists will enjoy themselves despite the damage.

“There’s plenty to do, and plenty to see. Music venues are open again. Cafes are open,” he said.

Is it altruism or voyeurism?

I witnessed people pulled up on the side of the road watching a bushfire at village of Bodalla, about four hours’ drive south of Sydney – and in truth, I was among them. I also watched a group of people snapping pictures of burnt houses near Batemans Bay. Perhaps it’s human nature to stop and stare.

Visiting the scene of a disaster or an atrocity can be powerful and moving. But there’s a difference between visiting a museum commemorating a catastrophe years after it happened and traipsing through someone’s recent tragedy, said Matt Beard from the Ethics Centre, a Sydney-based non-profit.

“Visiting a bushfire site to have this experience now might mean putting your own moral experience above the basic needs of those who have been directly affected by what's happened,” he said.

Some in political leadership positions appear to agree. The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has encouraged people to return to bushfire-affected towns. But he wants them to spend money rather than just being “stickybeaks”.

Given the scale of the fires, visitors won’t be able to avoid seeing burnt forests, and it’s likely that they’ll see destroyed homes too. They should bear in mind that for some locals, the memories will be recent and very raw.

How else can I help?

Ursula Vonbergen and Heinz Wigner are Swiss tourists volunteering with BlazeAid, a rural charity that helps farmers get back on their feet after natural disasters. The married couple took a detour on their three-month tour of Australia to work for several weeks with the charity.

“It was a very good experience,” said Vonbergen, explaining that they made new friends, enjoyed the work and came away with the satisfaction of knowing that they helped people in need.

At present, there are more than 20 BlazeAid camps across the fire zone, with about 50 people at the Braidwood camp, located between Canberra and the coast, where Vonbergen and Wigner are volunteering. Most volunteers are tourists on lengthy trips in caravans or campervans, who have put their travels on pause to help. Some are older “grey nomads”. Most of the work here has been stripping out burnt fences and replacing them with new ones, a labour-intensive task that many farmers are faced with after a bushfire passes.

Small towns and villages on Australia’s east coast were filled with smoke and illuminated by otherworldly red and orange skies (Credit: Credit: Tim McDonald)

Small towns and villages on Australia’s east coast were filled with smoke and illuminated by otherworldly red and orange skies (Credit: Tim McDonald)

According to camp operators, the work doesn’t require any special skills. Anyone who’s reasonably fit can help, and the work has an immediate positive impact on the farmers who were affected.

But volunteering or working in a disaster zone is sometimes a more fraught decision. Although many people are willing to put their hands up to help, they may not have the skills or the equipment to really make a difference.

During the response to Indonesia’s tsunami and earthquake in Palu in 2018, for example, the authorities kicked out a number of aid groups and volunteers because they didn’t seek permission, and in some cases because they didn’t have the equipment to take care of their own needs and to help others.

“As a general ethical principle, it's just as important that you're competentin being able to offer help as it is that you're well-intended,” Beard said.

It’s for this reason that volunteering opportunities in the bushfire zone are fairly limited. For example, the Red Cross and WIRES (an Australian wildlife rescue organisation) won’t send untrained volunteers into emergency zones.

The Victorian government encourages anyone who wants to volunteer to get involved with an emergency volunteering organisation well in advance of any disaster. Anyone who does have specific skills that might be helpful can register with Australia’s peak volunteering body.

Complex decisions

Lorena Granados stands among several old sewing machines. They were completely destroyed by the fire and are useless now. She shows me a video on her phone of their panicked retreat from the town when they realised they wouldn’t be able to save the business they worked so hard to build.

She tears up at times. It was clearly a traumatising experience, and now she’s dealing with the financial fallout. Tourist dollars could help her small community of Mogo rebuild. And there are many other towns going through hard times.

“All the little towns are relying on tourism to come back to get us back on our feet. If people want to help, this is one way you can help,” she said.

Many other business owners will feel the same.

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Monday, 17 February 2020 10:55

Global tourism and the coronavirus

What impact will the coronavirus have on tourism in 2020? Some predict the effects will be felt globally, into 2021.



The Coronavirus’s Effect on Tourism Will Carry Into 2021, Experts Say And it won’t just affect China, either.

By Nikki Ekstein
February 13, 2020
Blookberg

Coronavirus May Affect Tourism Into 2021

Earlier this week, even as infections of the novel coronavirus seemed to be slowing, the effects of the epidemic on the global tourism industry were accelerating rapidly.mouth guard 4787642 1920

The impact of the pneumonia-like disease caused by the virus, called Covid-19, is already being felt across the Asian continent, where leisure and business travel contributed $884 billion to gross domestic product in 2017, the most recent year for which data has been compiled by the World Travel and Tourism Council. (Projections for 2018 are about $1 trillion.) For China alone, inbound tourism brought in $127.3 billion in 2019, according to the country’s tourism bureau.

But as diagnoses tick upward again, travel agents, operators, and hoteliers are bracing for at least months, if not a full year, of economic disruption from the outbreak, with long-term effects that may ripple well into 2021.

“The numbers of trip cancellations—not just to China but to the entire continent of Asia—is growing every day,” says Jack Ezon, founder and managing partner of luxury travel agency Embark Beyond. “People are put off. Sadly, a lot of them are just saying, ‘I don’t know if I want to go anywhere right now.’ Or, in many cases, ‘I’ll just go next year.’ ”

So far, almost 75% of his travelers have canceled their February and March departures to Southeast Asian countries, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still considers to have a lower, level one risk for coronavirus. “They’re worried about being anywhere close to the outbreak,” he says, “or of getting stuck with canceled flights if other hubs become infected.” A full 100% of the honeymoons his agency had booked to the region have been canceled and rebooked for alternate destinations including the Maldives, Southern Africa, and Australia.

Hilton Chief Executive Officer Chris Nassetta told investors on Feb. 11 that he expects the impact of the new coronavirus to last anywhere from six to 12 months: “Three to six months of escalation and impact from the outbreak, and another three to six on recovery,” he said. He estimated the cost to his company could be from $25 million to $50 million.

Why so long?

Weather, Weather, Weather

When it comes to leisure travel, the biggest question usually revolves around location, location, location. Once that’s been decided, weather dictates all. “North Asia you can do year-round, but Southeast Asia is much more challenging,” says Catherine Heald, co-founder and CEO of the Asia-focused travel specialist Remote Lands. “Thanks to monsoons and very hot temperatures in most of that region,” which last roughly March through September, “people aren’t looking seriously at rebooking until the fall,” she says.

For families, school schedules can complicate plans. “We had one family looking at traveling over spring break, and they won’t have that same window of time until next year’s spring break,” she says. “They’re rebooking for 2021.” The same logic applies for those who specifically wanted to see cherry blossoms in Japan or flowers blooming alongside treks in Nepal—common reasons to plan a spring trip.

Heald’s clients are among the most likely to help the industry rebound. So far her company has seen fewer cancellations than have her competitors because of the way she targets leisure and high-spending travelers. An average trip with Remote Lands costs $1,500 per day for two people, which makes her a purveyor of bucket-list vacations—trips that people are desperately hoping to realize.

“People spend a lot of time and money planning these trips,” she says. “They want to make it happen.” Her workaround so far has been to simply reroute airfares through unaffected hubs, replacing routes through Hong Kong or Shanghai with connections in Tokyo, Seoul, or Dubai. The cost, she says, can range depending on availability of fares and type of tickets booked. “On a scale from 1 to 10, the disruption to our business has been about a 2 or 3,” Heald says, explaining that travelers’ willingness to postpone, rather than cancel, keeps her balance sheets mostly intact.

China vs. the Rest of the Continent

The spa treatment room at Anantara Quy Nhon Villas in Vietnam.Source: Anantara Quy Nhon Villas
Business in China was already low this year because of negative press about trade wars. Heald says only 3 out of 400 trips she booked last year were China-only. Ezon agrees: “China was a little soft this year for leisure anyway, and Hong Kong was a mess from July” and the ongoing protests there.

The broader Southeast Asia region had been benefiting from the overflow, but that momentum is on hold. “People are canceling Sri Lanka and India just because it’s part of Asia,” Ezon says. “There haven’t even really been cases there, but so much is unknown that people are just staying away.” (Sri Lanka has reported one case of someone infected with the new coronavirus and India has reported three so far, according to Bloomberg’s coronavirus tracker.)

Hotels understand travelers’ fears, nonsensical as they may seem. Many have extended gracious policies allowing people to change their plans throughout the Asia-Pacific region at no cost, as long as they rebook before the 2020 festive season. Like Heald and her fellow travel specialists, many hotels are hoping to best retain their 2020 revenues and mitigate outright cancellations.

That’s less of an option for operators such as Guy Rubin, founder of Imperial Tours, whose entire business is based on luxury trips to the Chinese mainland. “Obviously, we have had cancellations and postponements for January, February, and March,” he says. But even travelers with itineraries for October have been inquiring about cancellations.

Others are in a holding pattern, waiting to see if the current strategy of quarantining people to contain the virus works. “If the containment strategy works, then I imagine people will be traveling in China again by summer,” Rubin says. “If it does not work, then I imagine it will take a year for people to regain trust in China.”

Recent History

Guangzhou Flight Arrives In Perth As Australia Issues Entry Restrictions On Foreign Nationals
Passengers from China Southern Airlines Flight CZ319 arrive at Australia’s Perth International Airport in February.Photographer: Paul Kane/Getty Images AsiaPac
Severe acute respiratory system (SARS) is one example the industry is studying for guidance. It took WHO roughly four months from the moment it announced a global alert about SARS until it said the disease was contained, and then an additional five months for the organization to wrap up its efforts to tally new cases. According to aviation analysts at AirInsight, the SARS outbreak cost airlines $10 billion, and that was at a time when global business was less developed.

If it similarly takes nine months for the Covid-19 outbreak to pivot into “recovery” status, which is consistent with the industry outlooks cited here, aviation will take a bigger hit. And it will take longer still for hotels and destinations to fully return to tourism levels before the disease’s spread.

“Think about Fukushima,” Heald says, referring to the 2011 nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. “People didn’t regain trust or interest in travel to Japan for years.” The flip side is that when they did, she says, there was such pent-up demand that it led to a boom in tourism: Overseas arrivals rose from 13.4 million in 2014 to 31.2 million in 2018. After many years of reassuring travelers they didn’t need to worry about radiation exposure, Japan suddenly became the fastest-growing destination in the world.

Ezon agrees this tide will ebb and flow. “If SARS was bad, this will be worse,” he says. “But remember Ebola? It’s still in Africa, and safari bookings are stable. Remember chikungunya? Once the news cycle moves on,” he says, “people will forget. Just like everything else, it’ll bounce back.”

Additional Info

  • Source Bloomberg
Saturday, 01 February 2020 13:42

Travel and Tourism Challenges of Coronavirus

Coronavirus is posing a challenge to the global tourism industry. The health sector and tourism and industry groups are working together to protect the global travel industry as concerns and questions mount. 


The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre is rapidly emerging as a new and important to go organization for the global travel and tourism industry in times of challenges.

Leadership and coordination are needed to protect this global industry, and the Center is ready to work with everyone, but urges it’s time to act now.

UNWTO issued a very general statement today, WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara addressed coronavirus when talking to eTurboNews saying don’t cancel flights yet, don’t close your airports, ETOA CEO Tom Jenkins said: Coronavirus fear is a powerful deterrent to tourism. The African Tourism Board answered the question if you should you still travel to Africa? PATA CEO Mario Hardy is convinced there is a lot of misinformation and said: Destination and tourism marketers will need to play a critical role in correcting the vast amount of misinformation surrounding the ongoing Novel Coronavirus outbreak that is hurting travel and tourism businesses across Asia.

Today the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre center calls on the action by the private sector, academia, public sector, and multilateral agencies to act now, as the situation of protecting Anthropocene Earth is impatient of Time.

The man behind the Center, Minister Bartlett just 3 days ago said the recent threats of global pandemics and the frequent occurrences of natural disasters heightened the need for a Global Tourism Resilience Fund.

earth 11595 1920

The global travel and tourism industry is struggling to deal with the emerging coronavirus crisis.

The ongoing coronavirus crisis may very well be the biggest challenge this normally booming industry could face. Stopping more than a billion people from traveling would be the ultimate and devastating consequence putting the livelihood of millions working in the travel industry in jeopardy.

Chinese travelers have been seen as the most potential development in travel for the last 20 years. Today countries are closing their borders to Chinese visitors, airlines, trains, and ships stopped serving Chinese destinations. The Chinese government quarantines millions of their citizens stopped domestic travel routes during the busiest travel season, the Lunar New Years.

One global organization, the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre under the leadership of Edmund Bartlett and Dr, Taleb Rifai is taking an urgently needed hands-on approach.

Edmund Bartlett is the Minister of Tourism for the Island Nation of Jamaica, a region dependent on the mighty tourism Dollar.

Bartlett is seen by many as a global player. Together with former UNWTO Secretary-General, Dr. Taleb Rifai, he established the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre headquartered in Jamaica. Over just one year the center opened satellite stations around the world.

The center calls on the action by the private sector, academia, public sector, and multilateral agencies to act now, as the situation of protecting Anthropocene Earth is impatient of Time.

Our planet and the human race face multiple challenges. These challenges are global and serious — climate change, food production, overpopulation, epidemics. the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.

Human beings have existed for just 200,000 years, yet our impact on the planet is so great that scientists around the world are calling for our period in the Earth’s history to be named the ‘Anthropocene‘ – the age of humans. The changes we are now making have exacted a heavy toll on the natural world around us. It’s vital that people underst and the impact we have. Help us persuade other organizations to tell them the truth.

It took humanity 200,000 years to reach one billion and only 200 years to reach seven billion. We are still adding an extra 80 million each year and are headed towards 10 billion by mid-century.

The coronavirus threat has been elevated to crisis level following yesterday’s declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the virus is now a ‘public health emergency of international concern.

The WHO emergency declaration came as a result of the rising death toll and infections associated with the virus.

The Jamaica minister said: “While the Latin American and Caribbean region has not yet reported any cases of the coronavirus, it is only logical to assume that the virus is likely to hit the region’s shores at any moment now, considering its current geographical spread and trajectory.”

Bartlett added: “For all intents and purposes, the coronavirus threat now constitutes a global emergency – one that requires a coordinated, foolproof global response to contain this looming pandemic.

The travel and tourism industry, in particular, is in a very precarious position and faces the highest probability of significant economic fallout from the emergent global health crisis.

This is for two main reasons.

One, the coronavirus threat has created a heightened fear of traveling globally. Two, China is the world’s largest and highest-spending outbound tourism market. Against this background, the global travel and tourism industry is being called upon to play a pivotal role in shaping global response efforts.

At this point, the main focus of the global response to the coronavirus threat is to prevent further exposure beyond the currently affected areas as well as to isolate infected persons from uninfected populations.

Accomplishing these two targets will require the mobilization of significant human, technological and financial resources to establish reliable systems to monitor evaluate and isolate risks especially at the various points of entry.

Large investments are urgently needed to procure modern health technology to screen risks, to conduct vaccine research, to develop public education campaigns and to ensure real-time information- sharing and coordination across borders.

We applaud the swift action of the Chinese health authorities who have constructed a 1000-bed coronavirus hospital in four days and who have demonstrated cooperation with other countries to stem its global spread. We are now calling on all public and private sector funding entities globally to support the various emergency initiatives that are being developed and deployed to deal with the looming coronavirus pandemic that is threatening global human and economic security.

The International Bill of Human Rights Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. This right is now under threat.

Working in a Global Tourism Market

Dr. Peter Tarlow of Safer Tourism has been working with the Hon. Minister Bartlett on tourism safety and security ever since the center was established.

Dr. Tarlow said in the webinar today: If there ever was a time to change sheets in your hotel room every day, it is now. If there was a time for Boeing and Airbus to allow fresh air to their aircraft instead of circulating the same air, it was now. Forget the masks, but avoid using pillows and blankets on aircraft, avoid crowds of people, wash your hands and avoid handshakes, take Vitamin C, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water.

Additional Info

  • Source eTurboNews
Wednesday, 22 January 2020 11:07

Canadians Seek Meaningful Travel Pursuits

Travel is a way of life for many young people, including many Canadians. However, finding the ideal, unique and life-changing destination and adventure is difficult. Instead of lounging on a beach, drinking to excess and being herded about with hundreds of other tourists, the goal, for many, is to take the road less traveled and experience other countries and societies while immersed in local communities.


CANADIANS SWAP “FLY AND FRY” VACATIONS FOR MEANINGFUL TRAVEL PURSUITS

By Michele Sponagle

January 22, 2020

Source: YouAreUNLTD Magazine

Many Canadians in their teens and 20s travel as a rite of passage between finishing school and getting serious about career, family or both. Later in life, the motivation changes. Having been there and done that, mature globetrotters are moved to explore by a bigger purpose, whether it’s to learn, to volunteer or to pursue newfound passions.

For Anita Draycott, 68, from Stouffville, ON, travel means hitting the links: “I took up golf late in life and have been addicted to the game now for about 25 years.” She’s turned her passion into a pursuit and is now a professional golf writer who has played more than 500 courses on six continents.

Because the season is short in Canada, she and her husband, William, bought a timeshare in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, 12 years ago. “Our one week in the sun has morphed into three months every year,” says Draycott.

She still travels internationally to feed her wanderlust. “I love to experience new places, customs, cuisine, etc.,” she says. “You could say I am addicted to travel and get itchy feet if I don’t have an upcoming trip in my calendar. I really believe that one learns a great deal by travelling – about other people, places and yourself.”

A passion for golf turned into a new career for one woman.

The travel boom

4Draycott is part of a demographic now dominating travel. According to data from the Canadian Tourism Research Institute, travellers aged 55 and older are filling planes and hotels more than any other age group. They take an estimated 2.3 million trips within a five-year period and spend more than $35 billion annually.

And to boot, travel is good for you. According to a joint study from the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association, travelling keeps you healthier. Women who vacation at least twice a year have a significantly lower risk of coronary disease and heart attack compared to those who take a vacation only once every six years or more. Men who skip an annual holiday have a 20 percent higher risk of death and 30 percent more heart disease.

Heading to a new destination also lessens stress, increases creativity, lowers the risk of depression, and boosts happiness and life satisfaction, according to recent research. The Global Coalition on Aging also did a deep dive on the subject in a white paper meta-analysis titled Destination Healthy Aging: The Physical, Cognitive and Social Benefits of Travel. It found that travel is closely tied to successful aging. Its benefits are linked to being physically active, reducing stress, meeting new people and engaging in meaningful social interactions.

As Dr. Paul Nussbaum, president and founder of the Brain Health Center, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA, notes: “Because it challenges the brain with new and different experiences and environments, travel is an important behaviour that promotes brain health and builds brain resilience across the lifespan.”

Post-retirement, Jennifer Budd was able to combine her love of felting and travel with a visit to the Shetland Islands.

That’s true for Paris, ON resident Jennifer Budd, who retired in 2016 after 35 years working in healthcare. For the 58-year-old, being able to travel more is all about nurturing her creativity. The long-time artist and painter shifted gears in 2008 to make colourful works of art using felt. Her passion for the technique opened the door to unique opportunities when she started selling her work through her company, Woolscapes.

Recently, she was invited to teach felting to women raising sheep in Fetlar, one of the Shetland Islands, off the coast of Scotland. “It was an incredible experience,” says Budd. “As an artist, it was inspiring to see landscapes just waiting to be created in felt.”

Now, Budd seeks out other felters wherever she goes. “It’s a wonderful starting point for meeting locals who share my interest in fabric art.” Next year, she plans to go to Australia and New Zealand, destinations well known for their wealth of sheep and wool.

Hand in hand, travel and creativity are the perfect combination, promoting wellness for the mind and body.

For more, check out this cool infographic on 10 way travels can improve your health and happiness, courtesy of Bookmundi.

Route to Healthy Aging

Along with creating great memories, travel can do wonders for your overall well-being and quality of life.

  • The Framingham Study, which has continued to be updated since it began in 1948, showed that women who went on holiday every six years or less had significantly more risk of developing a heart attack or coronary death, compared to those that vacationed at least twice a year.
  • One study found that women who do not take vacations are twice as likely to develop depression as those who choose to pack their bags and head out of town.
  • The Mayo Clinic cited a reduction in stress as a good reason to travel since it helps reduce the chances of developing a wide range of maladies, from headaches to irritable bowel syndrome.
  • There’s no need to go on a long vacation. With breaks of just a day or two, 89 percent of respondents to one survey said they were able to leave stress behind.
  • Being more active while exploring is key to health. According to a 2012 study published by The Lancet, for people over 40, eliminating physical inactivity can result in an increase in life expectancy roughly equal to that achieved by eliminating obesity, nearly on par with the impact of eliminating smoking.
  • Neurogenesis – the creation of new neurons in the brain – is driven, in part, by new experiences, including travel.

Travel Tips

  1. Buy travel insurance if you are going anywhere outside of Canada. Keep in mind that one 24-hour stay in a US hospital costs $20,000 on average. Answer health questions honestly or risk invalidating your insurance.
  2. Be smart with meds. Keep them in the original prescription bottles, and have pharmacy receipts handy should you be questioned by customs agents.
  3. Consider compression wear: Long periods of sitting can cause blood to pool in the veins in the feet and lower legs, leading to localized swelling, tiredness and aches, or in a worst-case scenario, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a clot that forms in the vein. Compression socks boost circulation, curb swelling and soothe weary limbs.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Recent events in the Middle East have put travelers on edge. Here are some tips on staying safe if you plan on travelling to the region in the near future.


 

‘Maintain a high level of vigilance’ — travel security experts advise caution when traveling to the Middle East

Jan 8, 2020 

By MEERA JAGANNATHAN and ANDREW KESHNER

The State Department says Americans should maintain ‘situational awareness’ in the region following the Baghdad airstrike

syria 1034467 1920Tourists at the Khazneh, or Treasury, in Petra, Jordan. The popular destination is in a region of the world where tensions can be expected to rise after an U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, killed a top Iranian military official.

Iran and Iraq are obviously not destinations for most U.S. tourists, but experts say U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling to other countries in the Middle East following the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad’s international airport last Friday.

Iran, which has several armed allies in the region, retaliated Wednesday by firing a volley of ballistic missiles at two American military bases in Iraq. The Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. airlines from flying over Iran, Iraq and waters of the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf, and Reuters reported that a number of non-U.S. airlines, including Emirates and Lufthansa, had canceled flights around Iraq and Iran.

Meanwhile, a Ukraine-bound Boeing 737 BA, -0.77% operated by Ukraine International Airlines crashed Wednesday after taking off from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board. Ukraine’s embassy in Tehran said the crash was under investigation by a commission, and that any statements about its causes before the commission’s decision were “not official,” the Washington Post reported.

Iran and Iraq are listed as Level 4, meaning do not travel to them, by the State Department, while Israel and Jordan are deemed Level 2, calling for increased caution.

Travel experts advise caution when visiting the Middle East. “Any of those places in the Middle East, I would have a heightened level of concern,” Tim Bradley, managing partner of IMG GlobalSecur, a Tavares, Fla., a firm advising companies, nongovernmental organizations and mission groups on safe travel across the globe, said last week after Soleimani’s killing.

The State Department did not respond immediately to a request for comment Wednesday, but it urged all U.S. citizens last week to leave Iraq “due to heightened tensions” in the country and surrounding region.

The department sent out a string of notices on Twitter TWTR, +1.25% cautioning American citizens in countries including Morocco, Lebanon, Kuwait to maintain “a high level of vigilance” and “good situational awareness” in light of the tensions in the region. American citizens in Bahrain should also be on the lookout for demonstrations or unrest, the State Department said.

“While we have no information indicating a threat to American citizens, we encourage you to continually exercise the appropriate level of security awareness,” a department tweet stated.

The State Department regularly issues travel advisories on a 1-to-4 scale; countries rated at Level 1 are places where travelers should “exercise normal precautions,” while Level 4 is a warning not to travel to a country so designated.

For context, Iran and Iraq are listed as Level 4 countries, while places like Israel and Jordan are deemed Level 2. These are countries where the State Department says travelers should use “increased caution.”

Travelers should be especially aware in public squares, and should also recognize that U.S. embassies and Western-branded hotels can face increased risks of attack, Bradley added.

The State Department’s ‘Smart Traveler Enrollment Program’ is a free service under which travelers send their itineraries to the department.

What about Americans planning travel to lower-risk Middle Eastern destinations like Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar?

“Don’t cancel your plans,” said Matthew Bradley, the regional security director for International SOS, a medical and travel security services firm (and no relation to Tim Bradley of IMG GlobalSecur).

That said, travelers to those traditionally lower-risk regions might still minimize their movements to reduce the risk of being a victim of circumstance, he said, and maintain a heightened sense of awareness.

Trust your gut, said GlobalSecur’s Bradley, a former FBI special agent. “If you don’t feel comfortable somewhere, it’s time to leave.”

Tim Bradley said there are other ways to plan ahead:

  • Enroll in the State Department’s “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program,” a free service under which travelers send their itineraries to the department. The program gives updates on a country’s safety conditions and enables government officials to get in touch in case of emergencies.
  • Brush up on current events before traveling, even if it’s just to know when holidays are approaching, he said.
  • Travelers should be in touch with family and friends back home as their trip proceeds. It’s also smart to leave a hard copy of the trip itinerary at home with someone.
  • Arrange transportation from the airport to the hotel ahead of time. Hotels typically can provide a car service, he said.

Additional Info

  • Source Market Watch
Friday, 10 January 2020 12:48

Awesome Solo Travel Ideas for 2020

New year, new travel opportunities. Volunteer travel and volunteer vacations are but one unique solo-travel opportunities you can take to experience new countries, cultures and communities. Here are some other destinations to help you map out travel in the new year.


50 Awesome Solo Travel Destinations To Visit In 2020

From Slovenia to Ecuador, these spots offer a variety of activities for solo travelers.

10/01/2020

By Caroline Bologna

HuffPost US

Thailand 19Many people take the month of January to look at the year ahead and set travel goals. One of the most powerful ways to explore a new place is to take a solo trip. From the freedom and flexibility to the stress relief and boost in self-reliance, there are endless benefits to solo travel. And there are many exciting places to make it happen.

Of course, it’s always important to research current conditions in your desired destination to stay safe when traveling, especially for solo trips. But fortunately, there are precautions you can take, and tons of backup options if needed.

We asked travel bloggers and other experts to share the solo travel destinations they recommend for 2020. Keep scrolling to read about 50 places that will surely inspire your wanderlust.

Vancouver, Canada

“If you enjoy spending time in nature, Vancouver is a great place to add to your solo destination list for 2020. Canada as a whole is a very safe country to visit, and Vancouver has so much to offer. The city itself offers beautiful views of mountains and has a lot of fun places to visit, such as Granville Market and Stanley Park. You can also do a day or weekend trip from Vancouver to escape into the mountains any time of year!” ― Amber Primdahl, travel blogger at She’s Catching Flights

Santiago, Chile

“I recommend Santiago, Chile. South America is a friendly destination for travelers, even if you don’t speak Spanish. Santiago is not a difficult city to get around alone, as you can take the subway or Uber. The local food scene is fantastic and casual, so it’s a great place to enjoy a meal and cocktail by yourself. For example, at De Patio restaurant, you can sit at the counter and chat with the chef while he prepares dishes with ingredients straight out of his garden.” ― La Carmina, travel blogger and TV host

Malaysia

“Within Southeast Asia, I think Malaysia is a great destination for solo travel for any age. You’ve got some incredible rainforests and stunning canopy walks, buzzing cities with a great culinary scene, and since most Malaysians speak perfect English, it’s a lot easier to connect with locals than in many other countries. Malaysia doesn’t have the travel party scene you find so much Thailand, so it’s a perfect choice in Asia for more culture-focused or mature travelers.” ― Marek Bron, travel blogger at Indie Traveller

Slovenia

“Delve into one of the greenest and most beautiful countries in Europe by buying a ticket to Slovenia! Not only does it have fairytale castles built into mountain walls (check out Predjama Castle!) but underground cave trains resembling Indiana Jones’ own adventures. The capital city is by far the prettiest I’ve ever seen, too. Transport links are convenient. The country is small enough to explore confidently. And the safety, as well as a high level of English among the younger generation, make this the perfect European destination for a solo traveler this year.” ― Alice Teacake, travel blogger at Teacake Travels

St. John's, Canada

“It's not a place many people have heard of, but St. John’s, Newfoundland, is pretty magnificent and a great option for solo travel. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful with massive cliffs overlooking the ocean. You can stroll to the top of Signal Hill to overlook the harbor and out to the sea. You can also drive out to Cape Spear to stand at North America’s most eastern point. But the truly special part of St. John’s is the people. They are some of the warmest and friendliest you will meet. You can grab a pint in one of the many Irish pubs and strike up a conversation easily. And for such a small town, the downtown area is packed with restaurants, pubs and shops. Plus, they have puffins and icebergs (even in May). You really can’t go wrong here. Don’t forget to get ‘screeched in’ while you are in town, too.” ― Mark Ostermann, senior editor of Miles to Memories

South Korea

“Seoul is on the top of my list for great places to travel solo this year. It’s safe for solo travelers, fairly easy to get around, and the people are always kind and willing to help tourists. The city is full of modern conveniences that take everyday luxury to another level. There’s WiFi everywhere, you can Uber around the city, and the customer service is impeccable. It’s great for solo travelers on a budget since there are a ton of low-cost options for hotel stays and food. The street food in Seoul is a must!” ― Jee Choe, digital designer and blogger at Oh, How Civilized

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

“Skip the crowds of Amsterdam and head to Rotterdam. This city is easy to navigate by public transportation, walkable, and of course, very bike-friendly. Take a water taxi and enjoy the views of the modern architecture of the city. Head to the food halls such as Markthal and Fenix Food Factory to check out what’s new with Dutch cuisine.” ― Jessica van Dop, travel media specialist and blogger at The Dining Traveler

Accra, Ghana

“Ghana is one of the best countries to travel solo in Africa. Ghanaians are known to be very kind and are typically willing to help travelers with directions or the like. Accra has a beach close by, along with many cute boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Solo travelers might appreciate that Uber is available and affordable in Accra, which makes navigating the city quite easy.” ― Briona Lamback, travel blogger and founder of Buoyant travel agency

Malta

“This incredibly charming and gorgeous European island is just off the coast of Italy and makes for an enchanting solo travel adventure! You can rent a car and explore both islands in just a couple of days, and see things like quaint cobblestone streets and the stunning Blue Lagoon.” ― Alyssa Ramos, blogger at My Life’s A Travel Movie

Oman

“Many people can’t even point to Oman on a map, but it is one of the best destinations for solo travelers in 2020! Locals are friendly but rarely pushy, and you can walk down the street without getting stared at. Renting a car is easy and the roads are in pristine condition. The highlight of traveling Oman is the fabulous nature and scenery, from sparkling blue wadis and sand dunes for hundreds of miles to sea cliffs and the ‘Grand Canyon Of The Middle East.’ If you want a break from traveling solo, consider hiring a local Omani guide to show you around for a day or two!” ― Victoria Yore, travel blogger at Follow Me Away

London, England

“London is a great place to visit on a solo trip, especially if you’re new to it and a bit nervous. They have a vast public transportation network to help you get where you need to go, and since the main language is English, you won’t have to deal with a language barrier, which can help anxious or beginner solo travelers. There are also many free and affordable things to see and do in London, like visiting their museums.” ― Primdahl

Taipei, Taiwan

“Taipei is still under the radar compared to many large Asian cities such as Bangkok and Tokyo, but it’s a great destination for solo travelers. The lively night markets, the modern architecture and the art scene give a solo traveler plenty to see and do. From ultra-luxury shopping at Taipei 101 to donning plastic gloves to eat chili crab at the Raohe Night Market, there’s a wide spectrum of experiences to be had. The city is modern and safe, and locals are friendly and helpful, which makes it perfect for a solo traveler.” ― van Dop

Medellín, Colombia

“When I first told people I was planning a solo trip to Medellín in Colombia, so many peopled warned me not to go. Luckily for me, I didn’t listen to them, as I would have seriously missed out! What makes Medellín such a great destination to travel solo too is salsa! Up until visiting Colombia, I’d never ventured out much in the evenings alone as I was either concerned for my safety or I just didn’t feel comfortable sitting alone in a bar drinking. The salsa dancing culture in Medellín meant that as a solo female traveler, I could go out to a dance class then head to the salsa clubs alone and have a fun-filled night of dancing and meeting new people without ever feeling awkward or lonely.” ― Claire Summers, travel blogger at Claire’s Itchy Feet

Napa, California

“A great destination for solo travel in 2020 is Napa, California, even if you aren’t much of a wine drinker like myself. Stay at the Meritage Resort & Spa. Sit on the balcony to relax and look at the view of the vineyard or even take a walk through it. On a hot day, a nice dip in the pool is refreshing, or head to their spa to unwind. Napa is also a place for foodies. There are many Michelin Star restaurants. Also, a food tour is a great place to try many different delectable cuisines.” ― Holly McGuinn, travel blogger at HollyDayz

Georgia

“The country of Georgia is arguably the most underrated travel destination in the world. It packs a lot into a small area. Tbilisi has cobbled streets, centuries-old churches and wine cellars, and breathtaking views around every corner. It has a distinctive blend of post-Soviet dilapidation and emerging modernization, and is only a short drive away from snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes and fun-packed beaches. Solo travelers can experience a lot without having to undertake long transportation hauls on their own.” ― Konrad Waliszewski, travel blogger and co-founder of the app TripScout

Mexico City, Mexico

“I had fun spending a few days alone in Mexico City. There are plenty of museums, architectural and historic sites to explore, and it’s nice to be able to go at your own pace and take your time. The anthropology museum, for example, is gigantic, and I liked how I could focus on the exhibits that interested me the most. I found locals to be welcoming and friendly, especially at specialty bars such as the gothic El Scary Witches. It’s easy to strike up a conversation with the people around you.” ― La Carmina

Tajikistan

“Tajikistan is a tiny Central Asian country on few traveler’s maps, which is all the more reason to visit! Though small, its mountains are massive; more than 90% of the country is covered by towering mountain ranges. If epic mountain vistas (and virtually empty trekking trails) aren’t enough, Tajik people are also worth the trip ― they’re some of the sweetest and most hospitable in Central Asia. It’s difficult to go a day without an invitation for tea or a friendly chat, which is a blessing, as any solo traveler knows. In this age of mass tourism and frustrated locals, Tajikistan is a treat you don’t want to miss.” ― Alex Reynolds, travel blogger at Lost With Purpose

Australia

“Known for its laid-back culture, and some of the world’s friendliest, most welcoming locals, Australia is a great place to travel solo. While you’ll definitely have to brush up on Aussie slang, there’s no language barrier for English speakers, the Aussie dollar right now is very low, and there’s a huge amount of incredible country to explore, whether you’re interested in climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge for a city escape or camping under the stars in the outback. Walk into a pub alone and you’ll end up sharing a beer with the locals; walk up to the beach by yourself, and you’ll likely get invited over to join a summer barbie. Plus, if you’re wanting to support Australia after the devastating bushfire season this year, a great way to do so is by visiting!” ― Meg Jerrard, travel blogger at Mapping Megan

Ecuador

“I recommend Ecuador for your next solo destination, thanks to its breadth of outdoor activities and cultural experiences. While Quilotoa Lake is at the top of my list, there’s plenty to do and see for every travel style. Whether you want to channel your inner mountaineer, surf the coast, traverse the jungle, or channel your love for wildlife ― Ecuador has it. There are so many amazing things to do in Ecuador.” ― Olivia Christine, travel blogger at O. Christine

Iceland

“As someone who has traveled solo to over 15 countries, I believe one of the best places to travel solo to is Iceland. Statistically, it is one of the safest places in the world, but it also has so many great things to do by yourself. From soaking in the Blue Lagoon to driving the Golden Circle, you will not run out of things to see and do in this beautiful country. And it doesn’t matter what time of year! You will love it winter or summer.” ― Danielle Nelson, travel blogger and creator of Pack This Journal

Ethiopia

“Ethiopia remains one of my favorite solo travel experiences. The capital, Addis Ababa, serves as the gateway to Ethiopia’s mythical and ancient world and continues to earn its reputation for friendly people, delicious food and the world’s best coffee. Spend a few days basking in the city’s restaurant and market culture, then take off to explore the ancient stone churches of Lalibela, which I believe are even more impressive wonder than Petra (so visit before every other traveler catches on!). Nature-lovers can then find a number of ways to get off the grid throughout the country, such as the Simien Mountains.” ― Waliszewski

Edinburgh, Scotland

“For ghosts and grand tales, magical Harry Potter moments, stunning Scottish architecture and a multitude of exhilarating festivals to enjoy throughout the year, there’s no better city than Edinburgh. As a solo traveler, you’ll be warmly welcomed by friendly locals. Walking through the streets at night need not be a worry. You’re in good hands here!” ― Teacake

Grand Canyon, Arizona

“Solo hiking and backpacking trips are an amazing way to escape into nature and experience true inner peace. The Grand Canyon is my favorite destination for solo hiking and getting into the solitude of nature. The stunning perspective shift that traveling down into the canyon provides is unparalleled in all my other hiking experiences. Plus, the popular trails are usually busy enough that you’ll run into plenty of other hikers if you want to chat and make friends.” ― Carrie Hoffman, digital nomad and co-founder of the Bigger Life Adventures yoga and adventure retreat

El Nido, the Philippines

“The Philippines is a great place to travel solo in 2020. El Nido is full of beautiful beaches with endless water sports, boutique hotels, and design-led hostels — perfect for meeting other solo travelers. The island’s famous boat tours are a great place for solo travelers to experience the culture with the comfort of a group.” ― Lamback

Montenegro

“Montenegro delivers the benefits of Croatia, but without the overtourism. This tiny country has one of Europe’s best beaches, countless charming old towns adorning the Bay of Kotor, and incredible natural parks and wineries throughout the country. It’s easy to rent a car and explore the entire country on your own in a relatively short amount of time.” ― Waliszewski

Alberta, Canada

“If you’re in North America, I recommend traveling to Alberta, Canada. Between Calgary’s bites and the national parks, you can indulge in ‘me time.'” ― Stephanie Be, travel blogger at TravelBreak and founder of lifestyle app BUENA

Istanbul, Turkey

“In recent years, Turkey has taken a hit in the tourism sector. While things are starting to recover, it’s still an excellent place to visit in terms of affordability. Istanbul has long been a culturally vibrant city. Offering some of the region’s most unique experiences. It’s a perfect destination for solo travelers interested in digging into one of the world’s oldest civilizations.” ― Erick Prince-Heaggans, travel blogger at Minority Nomad

South Island, New Zealand

“Although I might be biased because I am a Kiwi myself, I still have the South Island of New Zealand up at the top of my list as a great solo travel location for 2020. OK, it is on the edge of the world, which means a long flight, jet lag and an expensive plane ticket. But road-tripping around the beautiful South Island, where you can easily find a spot to watch the sunset and have a glass of wine in the wilderness alone, is sure to provide you with whatever it was you set off to achieve by solo traveling in the first place. You can surf on the East Coast, then drive an hour and a half and be in the Southern Alps that run right through the middle of the South Island to go snowboarding or hiking. If that hasn’t sold it for you, then maybe the fact there are no snakes or deadly animals will make the thought of a hike into the wilderness a pleasant one.” ― Eamon Wood, travel blogger at Wayward Wheeler

Savannah, Georgia

“A great destination is Savannah, Georgia. The delicious food alone would bring me back! The Pirate’s House's award-winning pecan fried chicken is mouthwatering, and visit the nostalgic Leopold’s for ice cream. Savannah also has a lot of history, parks and tours to keep you busy. Not too far away is Tybee Island, where you can relax on the beach and listen to the sound of the ocean.” ― McGuinn

Argentina

“If you want a destination to both indulge you and inspire you at the same time, Argentina is your place. There are few better cities in the world to wander as a solo traveler than Buenos Aires. You will experience the best of Latin American and European culture all in one place. Delicious food and wine, sexy tango dancing, vibrant music, beautiful architecture, world-class art, highly caffeinated yerba mate, and vivacious people — do you need any more reasons? A short flight from there can also get you to breathtaking Patagonia and the world-class wine region of Mendoza.” ― Waliszewski

South Tyrol, Italy

“For a European solo trip, I recommend rock climbing in the Dolomites of South Tyrol. Start the day with mountains, and finish it with a smile. ― Be

Thailand

“For younger or inexperienced solo travelers, I always like to recommend Thailand. I think of it as just the perfect training ground for solo travel. Thailand has a way of feeling quite adventurous, especially if you haven’t traveled much in Asia yet. At the same time, since it’s such an established tourist destination, you also never have to worry about travel logistics too much. There are social backpacker hostels and cozy hotels virtually everywhere in Thailand, so you can always find the atmosphere you’re looking for.” ― Bron

South Of France

"The South of France makes the perfect road trip for a solo traveler. Drive through lavender and sunflower fields in full bloom, kayak through turquoise blue waters in the Gorge du Verdon and chase Van Gogh in Arles, finding the real-life places he painted and lived. Go in the summer, end of June/early July, to see Provence at its best." — Jen Ruiz, travel blogger at Jen on a Jet Plane

Lisbon, Portugual

“Lisbon is one of my favorite cities, and with good reason. The people are friendly, the architecture is gorgeous, the food is phenomenal and it’s one of the most affordable destinations to visit in Europe.” ― Tausha Cowan, travel blogger at The Globe Getter

La Paz, Mexico

"If you’re looking to relax and get off-the-grid, look no further than to the beautiful, uninhabited beaches of La Paz. Located in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, this city is the perfect place to jet off to pristine remote beaches and surrounding pueblos. If adventure is what you crave, be sure to visit during whale shark season when you can snorkel with these gentle giants." — Asia Dawn Simonelli, relationship coach and travel blogger

Budapest, Hungary

“Budapest has long been on intrepid travelers’ bucket lists. Its stunning architecture, delicious food scene, and refreshing thermal baths make for an exceptional experience. What many don’t know is that Budapest is home to one of Europe's best music scenes, with world-class musicians performing everything from classical to rock. It gives solo travelers more than enough to fill up their itinerary.” ― Prince

San Juan, Puerto Rico

“If you like beaches, good food, and a good party, San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a great idea for a solo traveler. San Juan is vibrant with a strong local culture. There are events pretty much every day for locals and tourists alike. Whether it’s mingling with locals at the Bomba, [traditional Puerto Rican music] performances at El Patio de Bonanza on a Monday night, or wandering the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, there’s plenty that will keep you entertained.” ― van Dop

Rwanda

"The capitol city of Kigali is one of the cleanest cities in the world. The people are hospitable, and their tourism infrastructure is reliable. The major draw to visit Rwanda is to see the endangered mountain gorillas. The permit costs around $2000, but it's worth it to see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat." — Nathan Fluellen, host and travel blogger at World Wide Nate

Barcelona, Spain

“Barcelona, Spain, is an amazing destination when traveling solo. There are plenty of activities you can do alone, such as touring historic churches and parks designed by the famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, or visiting the Picasso Museum. Get lost in the gorgeous maze of streets in the Gothic Quarter and stop for a glass of sangria and some people-watching. At night, head to see flamenco dancing before ending the day in a tiny restaurant to have some authentic paella. The city is safe, transportation is abundant, and the locals are always welcoming.” ― Christine Johnson, travel blogger at My Traveling Kids

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

“With the Expo 2020 Dubai revving up for its October start time, Dubai is the place to visit in 2020. Dubai has always been one of those places where it’s easy to make fast friends and you could meet ‘anyone,’ and going in 2020 only triples its magical effects. I’d go as early as possible to avoid the inevitable Expo 2020 price inflation, but if you can make it before May, you’re guaranteed tours, accommodations, sights and overall trip quality unique to this year.” ― Gabby Beckford, travel blogger at Packs Light

Albuquerque, New Mexico

"If you're looking to knock a bucket list item off your solo travel list this year, save up your money for a sunrise hot air balloon ride during mass ascension at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It won't matter if friends don't make the splurge — flying in the air with hundreds of other balloons at the same time is a singular experience. Bonus? The balloons come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from Yoda to pink elephants!" — Ruiz

San Pedro, Belize

"San Pedro, Belize, is the ideal destination for beach bums. They have fresh lobsters the size of your arm for less than $20, the second-largest coral reef in the world and the impressive Great Blue Hole, best appreciated by air. You can book a tourist flight in a small propeller plane that lasts an hour. The official language is English and the chosen mode of transportation is golf cart." — Ruiz

Cinque Terre, Italy

"While this beautiful cluster of Italian villages is often considered a romantic escape for couples or a destination to add to your bucket list for a someday visit, I think the time to go is now. Thanks to accommodation platforms like Airbnb, you can rent a fairly affordable apartment or homestay for a week and take the time to really explore. I went on a solo trip in 2019 and had an incredible time. Cinque Terre consists of five villages connected by footpath and by train. The train is really easy to navigate and there are English-speaking tourism ambassadors at each station ready to help you if you get lost. The towns are small and easy to maneuver, and you can't go wrong with ordering pizza or pasta at restaurants that don't have translated menus. Summer tends to be the busiest season, but also the best time to go solo because you'll never stand out in the crowd. Keep your clothing low-key, travel light and pack smart, and you'll be good to go! Just don't forget to bring enough memory cards to hold all the incredible pictures you'll take!" — Francesca Murray, travel blogger at One Girl : One World

New York City, New York

“If you want to be surrounded by people on your solo travels, then what better place than the Big Apple? You can blend in with the masses and pretend you are living that Manhattan life! Take a stroll through Central Park or along the High Line. Shop at Chelsea Market or on 5th Avenue. Hit up a museum and a gallery or two. But if you really want to try something different and totally unique, take the tramway to Roosevelt Island. You will get some amazing views of the city on your ride over and back. Also, be sure to stand at the tip of the island at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park and soak in all Manhattan has to offer from the middle of the East River. It is like taking a step back in time when you are on the island and it is totally unique to anywhere else in the five boroughs.” ― Ostermann

Guatemala

“Guatemala was the first country that I ever traveled to solo, and it is, in my opinion, one of the best places to have a magical solo trip in 2020. It’s hard to really describe what makes Guatemala so special, perhaps it’s the magical Lake Atitlán or the rumbling volcanos that overlook Antigua. Whatever it is, Guatemala has a way of capturing your heart, and the only hard thing about traveling there is leaving! Transportation is improving there and it is now much safer and easier to travel from town to town. You will find many other solo travelers in Guatemala, so you will never be alone for long.” ― Summers

Easter Island

"This small but fascinating island is full of wonders, from ancient Moai statues that you can easily road-trip around the island to see to the jovial locals who are more than happy to tell you the tales of their past and present cultures. Stay at an Airbnb and get to know your local host or head down to the main Moai statues at sunset, where you’re sure to meet locals and other solo travelers!" — Ramos

Dublin, Ireland

“Dublin, Ireland, is a fantastic city to explore as a solo traveler. Matter of fact, it was the first city I traveled to as a solo female traveler. Dublin has an interesting and captivating history while being as cosmopolitan as any European capital city! I stayed at an Airbnb inside the city walls and was able to walk to everything easily. For those not in love with a lot of walking, or should the weather be inclement, Dublin’s transportation is first-rate, from buses to trams to trains. The city is safe and I never felt uncomfortable exploring or dining alone. Dublin’s historical attractions, such as Dublin Castle or The Book of Kells, give one a peek into Dublin’s ancient roots. The Temple District is a lively and trendy reminder that Dublin produces great beer and has great pubs to enjoy it in, serving traditional Irish cuisine. It's a great way to meet new people and make new friends, as the Irish are some of the friendliest people on earth! Dublin is a great city for solo travel: safe, clean, walkable, great transportation and friendly, helpful people.” ― Linda Malys Yore, travel blogger at Linda On The Run

Bhutan

“I highly recommend Bhutan. Since Bhutan mandates a fixed tourism fee per person, it doesn’t matter how many people you go with, and I’d say it’s the best place for some quiet reflection. Rich in natural beauty, plants and animals, many come here to be enlightened and achieve happiness. Most Bhutan visitors are drawn to either its culture, way of life, happiness index or religion. Seeing people lead their lives with simple contentment is enough to make you reevaluate yourself and your life. With so many lessons to learn, you’ll definitely emerge a lighter, more wholesome person from your visit to Bhutan.” ― Isabel Leong, travel blogger at Bel Around The World

Aspen, Colorado

"To my surprise, Aspen has been one of my favorite solo travel destinations to date. I think solo travel can really lead to self-development and growth, so I decided to try a new outdoor activity during this trip. I took one-on-one snowboarding lessons and I had an absolute blast. It was the perfect way to get out of my comfort zone and stay active while traveling alone." — Ciara Johnson, travel blogger at Hey Ciara

Berlin, Germany

“Because of Berlin’s incredible techno and nightlife scene, it’s a great destination for solo travelers — especially those interested in electronic music, DJs and nightlife. The scene in Berlin is very welcoming, and with clubs like Berghain, Sisyphos and Tresor still operating after decades of transforming the techno music scene, it’s a worthwhile destination. The nightlife scene in Berlin might not be for everyone, but for those interested in music, the clubs are great places to make new friends and easily meet new people with shared interests. Tourism in Berlin is booming, and it’s best to visit while these clubs still run regularly, as other big Berlin nightclubs are continuing to shut down due to government pressure and social changes in the city.” ― Adam Groffman, travel blogger at Travels of Adam

Quotes have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Additional Info

  • Source The Huffington Post
Thursday, 26 December 2019 13:06

Tips on traveling abroad for the first time

Traveling to a foreign country for the first time can be both exhilarating and anxiety inducing: have you considered all the required information, devices, social protocols and social etiquette? How about finances, security and insurance? Much to consider. Here are some tips on how best to navigate.


10 Things You Need to Know About Traveling Abroad for the First Time

DECEMBER 26, 2019

By Megan Grant
Parade

Remember that one time I went to Paris and brought my blowdryer so that I could look #fabulous while strolling down the Champs-Élysées, but forgot that the outlets are different and I couldn’t use it so my hair was a giant ball of frizz for eight days?

Fun times.

There are so many details we forget when traveling abroad—some minor (see: the great hair frizz of 2018) and some much more crucial. If you’re planning on boarding a plane and adventuring to a faraway place, here are 10 things you need to keep in mind about traveling abroad.

10 Things to Know About Traveling Abroad

1. Figure Out How You Can Pay for Things Beforehand
“Uh, I’ll just swipe my card, yeah?” Maybe. But maybe not. Michael Turtle of Time Travel Turtle tells Parade.com, “When you’re in a different country, you may not be able to pay for things in the way that you’re used to. I normally always just tap my credit card at home, but there are quite a few countries where you still need to use your PIN, so make sure you remember it if you’re planning to use your card. There are some countries (particularly in Scandinavia) that are moving to a cashless economy, so they may have no option but to use a card.”

If you plan to use a card, one more word of caution: Fees. Watch out for them. “Your bank may charge quite high fees so look into this in advance and investigate your options,” Turtle advises. “You can normally find a credit card offer that will have zero international transaction fees and I would recommend signing up for one of them if you’re going to be doing a lot of travel. On the other hand, there are still a lot of countries that mainly use cash—even Japan, despite its very modern reputation—so it’s also wise to have a card that will let you make cash withdrawals without a huge fee.”

Cash always works too, but again, there’s one caveat you have to be careful of, according to Turtle: “Bringing your own country’s cash and exchanging it is also a good option, although I rarely do that because you’ll always lose a bit of money on the conversion and I prefer not to travel with a lot of money on me.”

2. Dress Accordingly
You may be a stranger in a completely foreign place, but try not to look like it, okay?

“One of my suggestions would be to try to blend in with the locals. You don’t want to stand out too much by looking like a tourist because not only can this be embarrassing but it can set you up as a target for pickpocketing or theft,” says travel writer Reannon Muth. So, what should we do to avoid this?

“To blend in, I’d suggest wearing muted colors or dark colors and avoid wearing sneakers (especially white ones!),” she explains. “In the US, people wear sneakers all the time, but in Europe and most of the other countries I’ve visited (I’ve been to over 40), people only wear athletic shoes when they’re working out. Sneakers are usually a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist. I’d also recommend wearing clothing that’s somewhat stylish (or at the very least fits well and isn’t overly baggy or wrinkled). In the US, a sports hoodie, yoga pants, and flip flops (athletic leisurewear) is perfectly acceptable attire for wandering around town, but I’ve found that in many other countries, people aren’t as casual with their attire.”

3. Invest in a Pair of Good Noise-Canceling Headphones
Flights are long. Planes are loud. You won’t be able to sleep, read, watch movies, or do anything else with the sound of jet engines numbing your ears. “Good noise-canceling headphones for the flight are a must,” says international speaker Adnan Kukic. He recommends the Sony WH1000MX3.

4. Don’t Assume People Speak English
This one is tough, I know. What the heck else are you supposed to speak? Before you go to another country, though, you should brush up on the basics, at the very least. Muth explains why:

“It can be rude to just walk up to a sales clerk and start speaking English. Even if you’re in a touristy area and are 99.9% positive the person speaks English, it’s still polite to greet them in their own language and then ask them if they speak English. At a minimum, you should take the time to learn how to say ‘hello,’ ‘excuse me,’ ‘please,’ and ‘thank you.'”

5. Check Your Phone Plan
During my frizz-filled trip to Paris, I made another startling discovery: Apparently, the phone towers in Las Vegas don’t reach to France. Who knew?

You might be able to use your phone overseas. You might also be charged an arm and a leg for it. “Most plans will charge exorbitant fees to use your phone overseas,” explains Turtle, “although some do have good deals about international roaming, so it’s worth investigating whether your provider does. For most people, though, you’re not going to want to have long conversations or text message conversations on your phone while you’re away.”

Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives for staying in touch with people—when you have WiFi, that is. “I find it’s quite easy to avoid doing that if you just make calls with something like Skype or WhatsApp when you have WiFi at your hotel,” Turtle says. “The problem is data. We have become so accustomed to using our phone to look at maps, search for public transport timetables, check opening hours, and find reviews of restaurants, that you may be lost (literally) without data on your phone. So, in this case, I recommend buying a local SIM card that has enough data for your stay.”

It’s always good to err on the side of safety, though. “… you shouldn’t assume that you’ll always be able to get an internet connection while you’re traveling,” continues Turtle. “Perhaps the hotel WiFi is dodgy or you can’t get a data signal on your phone. I always make sure to download maps for offline viewing on my phone and I screenshot any directions or public transport timetables that I need. I also take photos of signs at train stations or ferry ports that I might need later on. We are so used to knowing that any information we need is right at our fingertips at home, but that’s not always the case when we’re traveling so it’s better to be prepared.”

6. Take a Nap ASAP
Jet lag is brutal. Your body has its own internal clock, and when it’s disrupted, weird things can happen. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can go beyond sleepiness and even affect your mood and concentration and give you, ahem, stomach issues. No thanks.

Thankfully, there’s a little trick. “As soon as you land in your abroad destination, take a nap, even if for just a few hours,” advises Kukic. “It helps greatly to adjust to the different time zone.”

7. Respect Mother Nature and All Her Creatures
While on an exciting trip, we understandably want to do things we’d never do at home. But there’s a reason to pause and think before you take part in typical touristy activities: It might be to the detriment of a living creature.

“Never ride an elephant (or support animal tourism)!” says Dani West, elephant advocate for Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants. “Interested in getting up close and personal with our majestic wildlife? Support and visit sanctuaries around the world … but do your research! Never ride, bathe, or pay to see them in zoos or circuses.”

Have all the fun you want on your trip, but still be mindful of how your activities impact others.

8. Remember That You Might Not Be in a Service-Based Country
“… the US is unique in that we’re a ‘service industry country,'” Muth tells Parade.com. “In nearly every other country I’ve visited, this isn’t true. Americans’ version of ‘good customer service’ doesn’t exist. Shopkeepers may not greet you when you walk into a store and waiters might not come and refill your water glass. They aren’t being rude; that’s just the norm in their countries. You’ll often find that you’ll have to hunt down a salesperson or waiter in order to purchase something or put in an order.”

Muth explains that this extends to ordering food at a restaurant. You might not get as much special attention as you would in the US: “Similarly, when you order in a restaurant, it’s customary in most countries that you don’t ask for substitutes with your meal. You order what’s on the menu and that’s it (no ‘dressing on the side’ requests or ‘Can you add almond milk instead of regular milk?’). This really isn’t done unless you have an allergy and it’s actually considered rude. It’s a quick way to earn a reputation for being a ‘demanding crazy American.’ Obviously, you can ask for substitutes if you really need to. But I’d just try to keep it to a minimum. If you have to change the entire order to fit your tastebuds, you might be better off ordering something else.”

And while we’re on the topic of food…

9. Be Prepared to Change Your Eating Habits and Meal Schedule
“Eating and drinking can be very different in another country and it’s important to be prepared for things to not be the way you would normally expect,” says Turtle. “In Spain, for instance, dinner is always eaten very late so you may often not find restaurants open at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. But I’ve also been caught out in smaller towns in Europe where they’ll stop serving dinner at 9 p.m. In countries like Morocco or Malaysia, you’ll rarely find alcohol served with meals for religious reasons, so don’t expect you can have a glass of wine with dinner. And in Japan, you may come across the restaurants where you have to order all your courses from a vending machine at the entrance before you sit down.”

Tipping also varies from country to country and culture to culture. “In North America, it’s expected to leave a considerable tip for every meal, while most places in Europe just expect a small token of a couple of euros, while many Asian countries find a tip to be rude and you shouldn’t leave anything,” adds Turtle.

10. Stay Aware of How Much Space You’re Taking Up
“Unless you grew up in a crowded city like New York, you may not be accustomed to maneuvering through cramped subway cars or crowded marketplaces, but in many other countries, space is more limited than it is in North America and locals are experts at taking up as little space as possible,” says Muth.

“This also applies to your voice—talk quietly in public. Although it’ll differ depending on where in the world you’re traveling to, I find that in most of Europe and many places in Asia, people speak quietly and remain more reserved when talking to strangers,” continues Muth. “This is partly cultural but also because people in, say, Tokyo, are used to moving among thousands of people every day and are conscientious about not disturbing people around them by speaking too loudly.”

Traveling abroad is exhilarating and eye-opening. Just do your due diligence before you go and always be mindful of your behavior.

Additional Info

  • Source Parade
Thursday, 17 September 2020 12:09

Looking for travel inspiration?

New year, new travel adventures. Looking for a unique destination and fresh adventure can be a challenge. You can always take a volunteer vacation which will immerse you in a community and culture completely new to you. Or you could travel to a destination you had preconceptions about only to be amazed by discovering an untapped world of wonder. Here are a few suggestions from travel writers that may pique your interest. 


See Ya There! Here Are 10 Places That Travel Influencers Recommend Visiting in 2020

DECEMBER 17, 2019
By Jessica Sager
Parade

If you made a New Year’s resolution to travel more in 2020, get packing! From stateside locales to foreign lands that haven’t gotten much tourism yet, we’ve asked the experts where the best places to travel in 2020 are—and some of these options will surprise you. Whether or not you have a passport or wanderlust beyond our own borders, we’ve got a place for you.

Here Are 10 Places That Travel Influencers Recommend Visiting in 2020:

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

The Traveling Newlyweds can’t get enough of Hilton Head Island, S.C., whether for a vacation or a staycation. It’s just a 45-minute drive from Savannah, Ga., and about two hours from Charleston, but has all the trappings of a tropical getaway—white sand beaches, warm temperatures, 12 miles of breathtaking coastline, 50 miles of scenic trails, 250 restaurants and numerous award-winning resorts. There are a ton of family-owned eateries and businesses and a lot of live music and dining by the water. It’s also largely dog-friendly!

Pakistan

Michael Gerber and Lora Pope of Explore With Lora both recommended Pakistan for upcoming adventures thanks to its amazing nature and mountains—and its lack of crowds from other tourists, unlike nearby India and Nepal. You’ll need a visa to go, but Pope says it’s worth it. “Most people think that Pakistan is an extremely dangerous country that you cannot visit, but this couldn’t be further from the truth,” she said. “I spent a month there in August and it completely changed my views on the country. The hospitality in Pakistan is world-class. The locals are genuinely so happy to have you there and will go out of their way to make sure you have an amazing time.”

Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic is an underrated gem. Dangerous Business travel blogger Amanda Williams notes that while the Faroe Islands aren’t nearly as famous as its neighbors Iceland and Norway, its landscapes rivals both of them—without the crowds. “Getting to the Faroes is easier than many people realize (you can catch direct flights from several European cities),” Williams says, “and the infrastructure is on-par with any other destination in Scandinavia. The islands are easy to get around with a rental car, there’s tons of great hiking and the nature is pretty mind-blowing.”

Newfoundland

Want to go Ireland without actually going across the pond? Try Newfoundland, Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate recommends, noting that the Canadian province boasts similar craggy cliffs, picturesque seaside villages and friendly locals with lilting accents who tell stories and welcome you as one of your own. “But the best part is that Newfoundland feels a thousand times less tourist-ed than Ireland,” she says. “When traveling in Newfoundland, you’ll be welcomed warmly by everyone you meet.”

In terms of specific activities and excursions, McCulley recommends seafood cooked on the beach in Twillingate, a treasure hunt for art installations during the Bonavista Biennale, and, for the adventurous, she says, “You can become an honorary Newfoundlander by getting “screeched in” in a bizarre province-wide ceremony involving alcohol and kissing a codfish.”

Bonus? McCulley adds, “Newfoundland is an Instagram fan’s paradise, from the brightly painted homes of Jelly Bean Row in St. John’s to the unusual geologic makeup of Gros Morne National Park to the fishing village of Trinity that looks plucked from a storybook.”

Thailand

While all of Thailand is lovely, Veronika Primm of Travel Geekery loves one particular island the most: Koh Phangan. “It’s a tiny paradise island near Koh Samui, which got famous thanks to its regular Full Moon parties,” Primm told us. “The island is so much more than that, though. It’s a unique spiritual base for many, with yoga and mindfulness courses and retreats in abundance. It’s a place where Thai people still outnumber tourists. It’s lush, it’s green and has miles of gorgeous beaches.” One thing to note, Primm says, is that Koh Phangan isn’t accessible by car or plane, so you’ll need a ferry to get there—but it’s well worth the trip!

Myanmar

Becca Siegel and Dan C. Gold of Half Half Travel told us that Myanmar is the hottest destination for 2020—possibly literally also—for its affordability, safety and natural beauty. “Before going there, travelers should know that some parts of Myanmar get very hot, especially the tourism hot spot of Bagan,” the pair told us. “It can feel 100 degrees Fahrenheit most days between 9 and 3 p.m., so all of your sightseeing should be done at sunrise and at sunset. The middle of the day is for chilling out by a pool at your hotel!”

Boise, Idaho

You weren’t expecting that one, were you? Travel vlogger Jessica Hirsch of Cheatdayeats recommends Boise, Idaho, for 2020—especially if you’re a foodie and love carbs.

“With a focus on potatoes, they have a restaurant dedicated to friends and a large focus on sustainability and farm-to-table. There’ a major emphasis on where your food comes from and they’re majority passionate about food waste,” Hirsch says. “This concept also applies to their beverage scene with mile markers to inform visitors on how far the brewery is located from where you’re enjoying a drink. There are many beautiful parks and outdoor activities to work off thee food to make it a very active trip as well. Also, for a fresh air and for views of the beautiful state, we recommend the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic for a full hot-air balloon ride.”

Emily Mandagie of The Mandagies agrees, adding, “Downtown Boise also has incredible locally sourced restaurants, breweries, and even its own wine country (Snake River Valley AVA). One of our favorite restaurants is Diablo & Sons Saloon, which is a tastefully wild-west themed bar with clever drinks and delicious tacos.”

Japan

Because the Olympics are coming to Tokyo in 2020, so will travelers. Cat Lin of For Two Plz tells us, “The Japan Tourism Board, along with smaller regional- and city-level tourism boards, are incentivizing travelers to visit before and after the Olympic periods with cheap travel deals. Those who’ve had Japan on their bucket list, 2020 is a good year to make that dream trip happen. From a cost-saving perspective, don’t restrict yourself to just the Tokyo area. There is more to see, do, and explore when you expand your radar to nearby cities like Hakone and Nikki.”

Amanda O’Brien of The Boutique Adventurer recommends Kanazawa in particular, which is about a 2.5 hour bullet train ride from Tokyo. “Kanazawa has all you want from areas like Kyoto without all the tourists, from samurai houses to geisha villages to dressing up in a kimono to stunning modern museum dedicated to DT Suzuki, who brought Zen Buddhism to the world,” she says. “It is also home to Japan’s third most beautiful garden, Kenrokuen, and the production of gold leaf.” Kanazawa is also just a 30 minute train ride from the Kaga thermal spa region and its Nadatera Temple and incredible art.

The Kii Peninsula is also a great spot, Retha Charette of The Roaming Nanny says. “It’s off the beaten path and holds all the ancient beauty one can think of about Japan—home to the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage the Kii Mountains stretch out towards the horizon ending at the ocean,” she told us. “Temples dot the mountainsides with plenty of ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) to stay in!”

Slovenia

Slovenia has a little something for everyone—and you can brag to all your BFFs that you found it first. Foodies should hurry to explore the many culinary gems found across the 24 distinct gastronomic regions, and there is a lot to do in Slovenia all year long.

Jonathan Look, Jr., of Life Part 2 tells us, “Bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, Slovenia stands on its own, but is influenced by all of these rich cultures. Alpine landscapes, charming cities and hospitable people are in abundance. The food and wine, which is largely unknown outside the region, is truly world-class. There is even a small coastline with beaches and scrumptious seafood.”

Travelers will love the Festival of Kurentovanje, one of the oldest celebrations of Carnival in Europe. Featuring parades of costumed monsters and characters, Kurentovanje is recognized on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. In the summer, visitors can enjoy 14 wine regions, including the world’s oldest active grapevine (over 450 years old!) in Maribor.

Lake Bled is great for scenic paddle-boating in fall. In winter, Slovenia is decked out for the Christmas season. Postojna Cave transforms into a winter wonderland, adorned with festive decorations and more than 2,100 colorful lights for its annual Christmas experience, a live performance featuring 16 biblical nativity scenes reenacted by more than 150 performers along the cave’s one-of-a-kind railway system. Additionally, avid skiers will delight at the fabulous slopes of the Julian Alps, particularly the eighteen different slopes at Kranjska Gora, a frequent host of international slalom competitions.

Alaska

Grab a coat and hit up Alaska! So many influencers sang the praises of the state: Louise Sattler loves Girdwood for its charming shops and cafes—and spectacular views of the Northern Lights.

Visitors can also enjoy Glacier Bay National Park to see the 200-year-old sheets of ice breaking away from the faces of glaciers before they melt away. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve can only be reached by plane or boat, with many air connections from Juneau, Skagway or Haines via commuter air taxi service. Visitors can take the Glacier Bay Day Boat Tour for views of snow-capped mountains, tidewater glaciers, whales, sea lions, rare birds, coastal bears, eagles and more—plus close-up views of the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers that cruise ships can’t match. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking, whale watching and authentic Alaskan experiences at the local Tribal House with hand-carved Totem Poles—each one telling a “story.” Glacier Bay Lodge is the only commercial overnight accommodation in the park, Glacier Bay Lodge offers 48 rustic rooms nestled among Sitka spruce trees on the shores of Bartlett Cove, with the National Park Visitors Center on the second floor lobby, or Bartlett Cove Campground, which features bear-resistant food caches, firewood and a warming hut.

Julie Leventhal recommends the Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, Alaska’s first via ferrata climbing route with endless activities from helicopter-accessed fat tire mountain biking to world-class salmon fishing.

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