Monday, 06 December 2021 11:12

New US Omicron travel rules

US officials are tightening travel regulations again after the discovery of the Omicron variant in late November. Globe Aware volunteers should know about the two new measures that have been put in place by the U.S. government before traveling.


 

New US travel rules: What you need to know about the changes prompted by Omicron

Marnie Hunter and Forrest Brown
CNN
December 6, 2021

(CNN) — Just when we thought US travel rules were starting to stabilize, along comes Omicron.

The dominoes fell quickly after South African health authorities informed the world of their discovery of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in late November.

The Biden administration rolled out controversial travel bans on arrivals from eight nations in southern Africa. Travelers found themselves unexpectedly stranded. And now US officials are tightening travel regulations again.

Things are changing by the day and even by the hour, but here's what we know about the US travel rules effective as of Monday:

Are testing rules for entry into the US changing?

Yes, all inbound international travelers are now required to test within one day of departure for the United States starting Monday.

All flights departing after 12:01 a.m. ET December 6 will abide by a new CDC testing order.

This new testing time frame will apply to everyone, "regardless of nationality or vaccination status," the plan outlined on the White House website says.

Documentation of having recovered from Covid-19 in the past 90 days is also accepted.

There is still a requirement for foreign travelers arriving in the United States to be fully vaccinated.

Before the new rule went into effect, all vaccinated travelers were required to test within three days of their departure.

Unvaccinated Americans and legal permanent residents are allowed to enter the country with a test taken within one day of departing for the United States. The new rule makes the testing time frame one day for everyone.

Biden also announced that the federal mask mandate requiring travelers to wear masks in airports, on planes and on other modes of public transportation such as trains and buses has been extended through March 18.

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Does 'one day' mean 24 hours?

No. Per the CDC, the "one day" time frame is used to "provide more flexibility to the air passenger and aircraft operator."

Acceptance of the test does not depend on the time of the flight or the time of day the test sample was taken.

"For example, if your flight is at 1 p.m. on a Friday, you could board with a negative test that was taken any time on the prior Thursday," the CDC says on its website.

Does the testing requirement apply to children?

Yes, it applies to all air passenger 2 years or older flying into the United States.

Does it apply to land border and seaport arrivals?

No, the requirement is just for air travelers.

Is there a post-arrival testing or quarantine requirement?

There is not. "We're not announcing any steps on post-arrival testing and quarantine," a senior administration official said in a press briefing on December 1.

"I will say -- look, if additional measures are recommended, if additional measures can be implemented well and are effective, we won't hesitate to take them, but we're not taking them today," the official said, according to a White House transcript of that briefing.

What countries fall under the new US travel ban?

The travel bans announced on November 26 bar entry into the US of noncitizens coming from eight countries in southern Africa. They are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

On November 27, the CDC placed them all at Level 4 "very high" risk for Covid-19. (Botswana was already at Level 4 because of its caseload -- more than 500 per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.)

Citizens of those nations and citizens of other nations who have been traveling there in the past 14 days are currently not allowed entry into the United States.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that the travel ban is being reevaluated every day, and the US government is aware of the hardship it has placed on those countries.

Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, said the ban was put in place when the US was "in the dark" and just learning about a surge in cases in South Africa because of the Omicron variant; the ban was meant to provide time to assess the situation.

Can US citizens already in those nations return?

Yes they can.

Per the White House proclamation, the CDC says that "citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States, certain family members, and other individuals who meet specified exceptions, who have been in one of the countries listed above in the past 14 days will be allowed to enter the United States."

A negative Covid-19 test taken within one day of their departure for the US is required.

Can US citizens still travel to the banned nations?

Technically, yes.

At least two US carriers are still flying back and forth from South Africa, for example. Delta Air Lines is still offering Atlanta-Johannesburg service, and United Airlines is still offering Newark-Johannesburg service.

United Airlines is also resuming nonstop service between Newark and Cape Town, according to a news release from South African Tourism. The release also said, "we would like to emphasize that our country remains open for all those travelers who wish to visit."

An American family stuck in Johannesburg, South Africa, amid new Covid-19 travel restrictions talk about their experience in trying to get back home.

Whether it's advisable to go is another matter. The CDC advises against it.

You might also encounter new travel barriers. For instance, Zimbabwe imposed a lockdown and mandatory quarantine on Tuesday, November 30, for travelers, state-run news agency NewZiana reported.

Going to southern African nations while bans are in place around the world might cause you to be banned from going to other countries. For instance, the United Kingdom is not allowing anyone who has been to "red list "countries -- which include Angola and Zambia as well as the eight discussed above -- from entering except its own returning citizens.

Argentina, Canada, Italy and other nations also have put bans in place, each with their own specific parameters.

What is the US doing to detect the virus?

The CDC said it would expand Omicron surveillance at four major US international airports.

The CDC has also recently directed airlines carrying passengers that have been to certain southern African nations to share those passengers' contact information with the agency.

Airlines have already been gathering contact information from passengers under a CDC contact tracing order that has been in effect since November 8.

CNN Travel will update this article as new information becomes available and rules change. CNN's Wayne Chang, Kaitlan Collins, Jamie Gumbrecht, Jacqueline Howard, Pete Muntean, Megan Vazquez and Greg Wallace contributed to this report.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

Globe Aware volunteers can consider booking India for travel in 2022. India will resume international flights to all countries from December 15, after a gap of 20 months, though there will be restrictions on the number of flights permitted from a country depending on its health risk status.


Come December 15, India will resume scheduled international flights

Jagriti Chandra
NOVEMBER 26, 2021
THE HINDU

India will resume international flights to all countries from December 15, after a gap of 20 months, though there will be restrictions on the number of flights permitted from a country depending on its health risk status.

Key destinations for Indians such as U.S., Canada, Australia, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are permitted to have 100% of pre-COVID capacity. Europe and countries like Singapore will be allowed 75% of pre-COVID flights, while China and Hong Kong will be allowed 50% of pre-COVID flights. India has air-service pacts with at least 109 countries.

The decision, however, comes even as several countries are tightening travel restrictions after a new coronavirus variant has been identified in South Africa.

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Fares likely to drop

The announcement is likely to result in a fall in airfares on key routes, as well as allow travellers to take via flights, which was banned under the air bubble arrangements India signed with 31 countries as an interim measure.

“Due to prevailing COVID-19 situation, the capacity entitlements shall be as per the category of countries based on enlistment of countries as at-risk from time to time by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said in an order issued on Friday.

Come December 15, India will resume scheduled international flights

It further added that countries outside the “at-risk” list will be allowed 100% of pre-COVID flights. Countries in the “at-risk” list, but with whom India has an air-bubble will be allowed 75% of pre-COVID flights, while those with which India doesn’t have air-bubbles will be allowed 50% of pre-pandemic flights.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday identified 11 countries as well as all of Europe as “at risk”. These 11 countries are South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel.

“In a market that is bursting with pent-up demand for international travel, and a tourism industry that has been starved of revenue, the opening up of our international travel routes is exactly the timely intervention that was required to give a boost to the millions of Indians who are dependent on this sector for their livelihood,” said Subhash Goyal, chairman STIC Travels.

“We welcome the resumption of flights under the bilateral agreements for many countries. There has to be some re-planning and re-scheduling by the airlines and this will take a day or two, perhaps longer for foreign carriers. Until the competitive situation on each route becomes clear it is difficult to predict the fare trajectory. In general though, more capacity is, of course, good news for the customers,” Willy Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo told The Hindu.

Several international carriers also welcomed India’s decision to revert to “bilaterally agreed capacity” as air-bubbles with selective countries had led to fears among airlines and in diplomatic circles that India was trying to revise bilateral agreements without negotiations.

“Demand for international flights to and from India remains high. The Lufthansa Airline and Swiss International Airlines, both part of Lufthansa Group, are looking forward to serve Indian customers with an increasing number of flights as quickly as possible. As one of the first countries in Asia to open up, India will have a clear advantage in recovering from the pandemic,” said George Ettiyil, Senior Director Sales for Lufthansa Group Airlines, South Asia.

Additional Info

  • Source The Hindu
Monday, 29 November 2021 11:23

Global travel this week

Globe Aware shares the latest updates from around the world. News includes that this week countries around the world imposed travel restrictions after the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant, Omnicron, in South Africa and more.


 

What we learned about global travel this week

Maureen O'Hare
CNN
27th November 2021


(CNN) — Countries around the world imposed travel restrictions after the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant in South Africa, more than 2.3 million Americans traveled by air on a single day for Thanksgiving, and in Asia-Pacific, New Zealand and the Philippines revealed new reopening plans.

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Here are some of the biggest developments in travel this week:

A new variant triggered flight bans

An aggressive new Covid-19 variant was discovered, setting off a cascade of travel closures on November 26 as the United States, the European Union and other major destinations moved to block arrivals from seven southern African nations, including South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

At the start of the week, the outlook in most of the continent had been looking good, as a dozen African countries, including Benin in the west and Ethiopia in the east, moved to lower-risk categories on the US travel advisory list.

Only a small number of cases of the new strain, named Omicron, have been identified so far, but the World Health Organization has said it's a cause for concern and experts warn it could spread rapidly.

Europe soldiered on with its winter season

Austria and Slovakia have gone into national lockdown and there have been protests in Croatia, the Netherlands and Belgium about fresh Covid restrictions -- but in Europe's ski resorts, there were (cautious) preparations for the winter season.

Germany and Denmark have been added to the already bulging US list of highest-risk travel destinations, joining the likes of Ireland, Greece and Hungary.

Christmas markets began opening in Italy and elsewhere, despite rising Covid numbers, while the EU recommended a nine-month limit on vaccine validity for travel. The UK meanwhile is set to widen its remit of vaccinations that it will allow for entry.

US travel disruption continued its record-breaking year

There have been more reports of disruptive passengers in 2021 than there have been in the 30-plus years of recording such incidents. Flight attendants have had enough.

Following the panic on November 20 at Atlanta airport when a passenger's gun accidentally went off, this week the Federal Aviation Administration announced that a traveler on board an April Southwest Airlines flight was fined $40,823 after he allegedly brought his own alcohol on board, sexually assaulted a flight attendant, then smoked cannabis in the restroom.

Covid cases are rising again in the US, with 595,255 new cases reported in the past week, but Thanksgiving travelers still set a pandemic record, with more than 2.3 million people in the air on November 24 -- the busiest day at American security checkpoints since March 2020.

Philippines and New Zealand revealed reopening plans

Foreign vaccinated tourists will be allowed to visit the Philippines quarantine-free from December 1, provided they've stayed within "green list" countries for at least 14 days beforehand.

The list of eligible countries includes the US, the UK, Germany, Japan and Australia and travelers will also need to provide a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.
As announced back in October, the Pacific archipelago of Fiji will also reopen on December 1.

New Zealand revealed a little more about its long-awaited reopening plans for 2022. The border will first open to New Zealand citizens and residents traveling from neighboring Australia on January 16, before expanding to include New Zealanders from the rest of the world on February 13. Fully vaccinated visitors from all other countries, except those deemed "high risk," will be able to visit from April 30.

Egypt reopened its ancient Avenue of the Sphinxes

The more than 3,000-year-old road, linking two Egyptian temple complexes, was first discovered in the late 1940s and has since undergone decades of excavation and restoration efforts.

Egypt celebrated the reopening of the 3,400-year-old Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor on November 23. The 2.7-kilometer road that connects the Luxor and Karnak temple complexes and was first discovered in the 1940s.

The site has undergone decades of excavation and restoration efforts and today features hundreds of traditional sphinxes and ram-headed statues lined up on its path.

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities described the site as the "largest open museum in the world." According to Reuters, Egypt lost around $9 billion in tourism revenue in 2020, so there will be high hopes for this new project.

A restaurant group is bankrolling family trips home for its staff

Hong Kong's Black Sheep Restaurants group is shelling out $650,000 in order to let 250 of its staff fly home to see their families abroad.

In addition to money for flights and those many, many Covid tests, the workers will also receive extra weeks of unpaid leave to help them undergo Hong Kong's hotel quarantine, which the company is paying for, too. The city's famously strict entry restrictions mean returning residents have to spend a mandatory two or three weeks in designated hotels.

Black Sheep restaurants will also deliver their employees nightly meals to their quarantine hotels. To qualify for this impressive staff perk, they need to complete one year of service at the company upon their return.

A holiday love story

When Dina Honour hosted her first ever Thanksgiving dinner at her New York home in 1997, a British guy on vacation -- Richard Steggall -- crashed the meal with her friends. She flew to England a month later to celebrate Christmas with him and now they've been married 20 years.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

This holiday travel season is shaping up to be the busiest and most chaotic in some time as people return to the roads and skies in nearly full pre-pandemic force. As Globe Aware volunteers prepare for travel during this busy holiday season, follow these guidelines to ensure a safe experience.


Tips for Travelers Facing Chaos and Crowds This Season

Patience and preparation are essential if you’re flying or driving over the holidays

By Bill Fink
AARP
November 15, 2021

This holiday travel season is shaping up to be the busiest and most chaotic in some time as people return to the roads and skies in nearly full pre-pandemic force within a weakened travel infrastructure that has yet to revive enough to efficiently meet the demand.

Travel volume has rebounded over the past few months, with increased flight and hotel bookings. AAA is forecasting that 53 million Americans will be on the move Thanksgiving weekend, with 4.2 million traveling by air (closing in on the 4.6 million who flew Thanksgiving weekend in 2019, before COVID-19 hit). Meanwhile, the U.S. is welcoming rising numbers of visitors from other countries, now that it has reopened to international travelers. Misty Belles, managing director of global public relations at Virtuoso, says the travel company's international hotel reservations have increased 30 percent just over the past month.

While not yet reaching 2019 levels, “travel is going to feel busier than normal," Belles predicts. "The majority of us have not been traveling regularly and haven’t faced many crowded situations over the past 18 to 24 months. That will make the upcoming peak travel period seem that much more hectic.”

Adding to the hectic feeling are staff shortages across the travel industry, more flight delays and cancellations, and confusing and changing COVID-19 travel rules.

But by doing some planning and research, applying a few tips and tricks, and bringing a huge helping of patience, you can reduce the holiday travel stress.

Tips for air travel

Avoid the hot spots. If your travel is for vacation, rather than to visit family, and you can be flexible, consider booking a trip to a less popular destination. You’ll skip many of the usual holiday-season hassles and probably save money, as well. (Hotel rates in New York City, for instance, can skyrocket during the holidays.)

Make advance reservations for airport parking. Even off-property lots can fill up during the holiday season. You could look into staying at an airport hotel the night before an early flight; these hotels sometimes have great long-term-parking deals that can offset the price of a night’s stay.

Check rental-car availability. Due to a shortage of rental cars, prices have skyrocketed — sometimes exceeding the cost of a flight — so it may be in your best interest to book flights to match car availability, if you have the flexibility to do so.

Research your destination’s COVID-19-related rules. For international travel, understand what testing and vaccination requirements are in place at your destination.

Even for domestic journeys, look into your destination’s COVID-19 rules; some cities, including Washington, D.C., and New York City, require face masks in indoor public areas (among other requirements). You’ll want to know what to expect as soon as you hit the ground. Individual attractions and businesses may have their own rules, such as requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

Arrive at the airport, and the correct terminal, early. Fliers nervous about travel in the holiday season should allow plenty of time before their flight and do their homework, advises Doug Yakel, public information officer for San Francisco International Airport: “Know which terminal your flight is operating from; getting dropped off in the wrong location can make for a stressful start to a trip. Arrive at the airport two hours prior to a domestic flight, three hours prior to an international flight.”

Get through TSA security screening as efficiently as possible. Try to streamline your boarding process by signing up for and using the Department of Homeland Security's Trusted Traveler programs, including TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. If you aren’t enrolled in one of these programs and need to take off your shoes and jacket, do so before you’re standing in front of the conveyor belt, so you don’t hold up other passengers.
Remember that, due to the pandemic, you’re allowed to bring liquid hand sanitizer in containers of up to 12 ounces in carry-on bags; previously, liquids had to be in containers of no more than 3.4 ounces. You’re also still allowed to use a driver’s license that expired on or after March 1, 2020, as acceptable ID at checkpoints, for one year after the expiration date.

Splurge on lounge access. Consider paying extra to escape the airport crowds and decompress in an airline lounge (or sign up for a credit card that gives you access to the lounges) before boarding. A day pass is about $25 to $40; the LoungeBuddy app allows you to reserve in advance.

Don’t hog overhead bin space. Use the space above your seat, if possible — not the first space you see when you enter the plane. And don’t shove in your coat and other bulky items along with the allowed carry-on bag. Your one personal item, like a purse or laptop bag, should fit under the seat.

Be nice. Don’t cause problems about the rules, and, again, be patient; airlines and the feds are cracking down on unruly passengers' behavior, which has accelerated in recent months. Not to mention that airports and airline workers have plenty of other stressors, including staff shortages. They certainly don’t want to contend with rude customers (nor do other passengers).

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Tips for car travel

Those who hit the road may be distressed to see that gas prices are dramatically rising — 65 percent above last year’s levels, averaging $3.42 a gallon nationwide (with California prices the highest, at $4.68 a gallon), according to AAA. “The demand for gas is robust, but the supply is tight,” says Andrew Gross, spokesperson for AAA. “We haven’t seen prices this high since September of 2014.” Here are a few ideas for saving money and lowering stress levels while on the road.

Try to save on gas. A gas station search app like GasBuddy helps you find the best prices on the road. You also can enroll in various branded gas-savings services, such as Shell’s Fuel Rewards program, or apply for gas station credit cards, which offer per-gallon savings and introductory offers that can offset some of the price increases.

Sign up for prepaid toll programs. If you’re driving through any of the 19 states that are part of the E-ZPass toll system, sign up for the prepaid program to conveniently manage transit costs on toll roads, bridges and tunnels. In some areas you can use the pass to pay for express-lane usage to save time during holiday traffic jams.

Take along a paper map, just in case. Using electronic GPS navigation systems while road-tripping is convenient, but bring along paper maps or itinerary printouts as a backup. You never know when cell coverage may drop or batteries may lose charge. And confirm directions with locals at your destination, as they can sometimes alert you to places where inaccurate GPS directions have been leading people astray.

Bring your own water and snacks. Consider packing some lunches and more substantial fare, to avoid long lines at rest stops or having to detour to find food.

Additional Info

  • Source AARP
Monday, 22 November 2021 08:06

Thanksgiving travel tips

Ready to see family and friends? Globe Aware volunteers can follow these these tips for a smooth traveling experience during the Thanksgiving holidays.

Thanksgiving travel tips

Nov. 19, 2021
By Katherine Shaver
The Washington Post

Travel and public health experts say these tips can help travel go more smoothly during the busy Thanksgiving holiday:

  • Research vaccination requirements and other pandemic-related rules, such as for face masks, at your destination.
  • If driving, get your vehicle’s battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels checked to prevent breakdowns, especially if you have put off routine maintenance while driving less during the pandemic.
  • If flying internationally, check with your airline about coronavirus vaccination or testing requirements for your destination, as they will be enforced before you board.
    Remember that masks are still required on airplanes, trains, buses and other transit systems, as well as in airports, train and subway stations, bus terminals, and other public transportation hubs.
  • Meet arriving airline passengers on the airport’s “departure” level, which is typically less congested than the arrivals area, especially in the late afternoons and evenings.

Additional Info

  • Source Washington Post

The Philippines is slowly opening to foreign travel, and is already allowing countries under the Green category or low risk to enter without quarantine. For volunteers interested in this program for 2022, please email us at office@globeaware.com for more details.


Philippines Exempts Fully Vaccinated Foreign Travelers From Quarantine, Eases Restrictions

Philippines is easing its COVID-19 restrictions in the country. Fully vaccinated foreign travelers coming to the country will not be required to undergo facility based quarantine anymore. International travelers coming to the country from places which are classified as green or low risk will just require a negative Covid-19 test report within 72 hours of their departure.

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In a press release by the Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jamie Morente, some countries and regions that fall under Green category are China, Bhutan, Hungary, New Zealand, North Korea among others. Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Serbia, and Slovenia are the countries from where travelers will have to face a temporary travel ban. Rest all the other countries and regions which are not listed under green category, barring the previous four, had been classified as low risk.

Philippines has also eased restrictions within the country to allow business operations to run more smoothly. The major areas of the country are being opened up now. According to are port published in Bloomberg, Harry Roque, presidential spokesman, in a statement said that Metro Manila — one of the important financial centers of the country — will “shift to a loser Alert 3 from October 16 to 31.”

The city has also allowed many businesses to work on full capacity. Based on previous government orders, public spaces which are indoors like spas, casinos and other indoor tourist attractions are allowed to operate at 30% capacity. Quarantine rules for other cities and regions have also been eased. Apart from foreign travelers, travel restrictions for locals have also been loosened.

With 22% of adults being already fully vaccinated, the country has vaccination drives open for all the adults. The inoculation programme for children will also start from this week.

Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking had placed the Philippines at the last spot out of 53 countries that was published in the last month. The situation has now improved as the country has been reporting cases below 9,000 since past days.

Additional Info

  • Source News18
Thursday, 18 November 2021 10:41

Many travel destinations reopening soon

Countries around the world are relaxing their Covid-19 restrictions as we prepare for travel in 2022. which includes two more Globe Aware locations. Volunteers will soon be able to volunteer and vacation in Cuba and Cambodia again!


From Angkor Wat to Havana, the travel destinations reopening soon

Maureen O'Hare
CNN
November 1, 2021

(CNN) — There are only two months left in 2021 and as we enter November, countries around the world are relaxing their Covid-19 restrictions. Here are 10 destinations that have made headlines in pandemic travel news this week.

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1. Anguilla: A Lonely Planet best pick

Anguilla, a Leeward Island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, this week geared up for the winter tourism season by updating its travel requirements, effective November. Changes include reducing its testing costs from $200 to $50 and removing its day four Covid-19 test requirement.

Only pre-approved, fully vaccinated visitors can enjoy its azure waters, luxury resorts, 33 public beaches and 80-degree temperatures (with exceptions made for under-18s and the pregnant).

Those stringent requirements could be worth your while: On Wednesday, Anguilla was named one of Lonely Planet's "Best Destinations to visit in 2022," the only Caribbean island to make the cut.

2. Australia: Residents can travel again

Starting November 1, fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents will finally be able to travel out of the country without needing a special exemption.

Two of the country's states are taking slightly different approaches to easing Covid restrictions.

For the double-jabbed majority, most of Victoria's Covid rules will lift in November, but unvaccinated adults and older children will be left in the cold.

In New South Wales, restrictions have already eased for the vaccinated, but unvaccinated residents will have to continue to follow lockdown rules until December 1.

3. Barbados: No quarantine for the vaccinated

The eastern Caribbean island of Barbados has just elected its first ever president, Sandra Mason, who will take over from Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. She'll be sworn in on November 30, which is the 55th anniversary of Barbados becoming independent from Britain.

If you want to celebrate with the Bajans, December to April is the peak time to visit, when the weather is driest. This week, the island removed its quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated travelers as well as its mandatory second PCR test. Find out more on the website.

4. Cambodia: Reopening to international travelers

Pre-pandemic, Cambodia was emerging as one of Southeast Asia's most fascinating destinations.

Vaccinated foreign tourists will soon to be able to visit once again, starting with the beach 'n' party spots of Sihanoukville and Koh Rong island, as well as the China-developed resort of Dara Sakor, reopening on November 30.

The country's biggest attraction, though, is the city of Siem Reap and the legendary Buddhist temple complex of Angkor Wat. Foreign visitors will have to wait until January 2022 to explore the archaeological wonder.

5. Cuba: Welcomes tourists next month

Having now vaccinated most of its population with its homegrown vaccines (which are still under review by the World Health Organisation), the Caribbean country of Cuba is preparing to open its borders and ease entry requirements by November 15, Reuters reports.

Visitors will need just proof of vaccination or a recent PCR test to enter the country, says the news agency.

6. Easter Island: Voted against reopening

The far-flung Chilean territory of Easter Island, renowned for its huge stone head statues, has been closed to visitors since the start of the pandemic -- and residents want to keep it that way.

On October 24, the island's inhabitants, most of whom are indigenous Rapa Nui, voted against reopening its borders in January 2022, reports French news agency RFI, although the final decision rests with Chilean health authorities on the mainland.

7. Iran: Borders are open again

Iran is filled with spectacular archaeological treasures, no fewer than 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and an array of beautiful mosques.

It's also on the no-go travel advisory list for citizens of the US and the UK because of security concerns, including "risk of kidnapping and arbitrary arrest."

For those wanting to make the journey, however, the Tehran Times reports that borders are once again open to foreign tourists. More details here.

8. Israel: Reopening to vaccinated tourists

Israel's Ministry of Tourism announced on Thursday that the country will welcome individually vaccinated tourists from November 1. Currently, only organized tourist groups are allowed into Israel. You can find full details here.

If you're heading there for the scuba diving, you might just strike lucky. Earlier this month, a diver found a 900-year-old Crusader sword off the Israeli coastline.

9. New Zealand: New easing measures

Like its neighbor Australia, New Zealand is moving away from its zero-Covid strategy and preparing to reopen to the world.

Chris Hipkins, minister in charge of New Zealand's Covid-19 response, announced on Thursday that, from November, travelers from Pacific countries including Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu will no longer need to quarantine on arrival.

For those fully vaccinated travelers from abroad who still do need to quarantine, the 14-day sojourn in a hotel will be shortened to seven days, with a plan to move to a system of home isolation for fully vaccinated arrivals later in 2022.

10. UK: Cleared its red list

There are just seven countries left on England's once heaving inventory of "red list" destinations -- Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela -- and they're all set to be removed on November 1.

This means that anyone from any country will be able to enter England, although they will still be subject to testing requirements or quarantine, depending on their vaccination status.

Rules vary in the other UK nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. You can find out more in our UK Covid travel guide.

CNN's Karla Cripps, Jack Guy, Lilit Marcus, Francesca Street and Philip Wang contributed reporting.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

You’re just starting to travel again and you’re thinking about a volunteer vacation, which can be a great way to experience a destination in a more meaningful way than simply being a tourist. Here are nine questions to ask about volunteering, and which Globe Aware is happy is provide answers to by giving us a call or emailing us at office@globeaware.com!


9 vital questions to ask before embarking on a volunteer vacation

Volunteer vacations are popular with gap-year students, retired seniors, and millions of people in between. Perhaps you’re just starting to travel again, for the first time in a long time, considering the pandemic, and you’re thinking about a volunteer vacation.

These can be a great way to see the world and experience a destination in a more meaningful way than simply being a tourist.

However, with so many organizations and types of volunteer vacations available, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

Here are nine questions that you should always consider when evaluating a potential volunteering opportunity.

volunteer travel 2021

1. What is the destination like?

If you plan to volunteer in a country you’ve never visited, you’ll want to do some basic research before going there. Learning about the local culture will help you to understand how to behave.

Beyond learning in general about the country, try to familiarize yourself with the area in which you’ll be volunteering. Is it urban or rural? Hot or cold? Are there local attractions nearby that you’d like to visit? Is there reliable public transportation in the area? What is the political situation like in that region? These are just a few things you should investigate about any potential destination.

2. What will you be doing?

This question might seem like a no-brainer, but some of the work that you actually perform as a volunteer might be different from what you signed up to do. For example, you might volunteer to teach yoga at a meditation retreat in Costa Rica, only to find out that you’re also expected to cook and clean.

If you’re into cooking and cleaning, no problem!

However, if you want to perform only a specific type of volunteer work, then make sure to ask the program director or volunteer coordinator to specify exactly what your tasks will be. If possible, get this in writing in order to avoid stumbling into a situation where you’re expected to do tasks that are beyond your skill set or comfort level.

3. What will the hours be?

Some volunteer programs are more fluid than others, with volunteers not working a set number of hours per day and just helping “as needed.” Other programs have a rigid schedule that volunteers must follow.

 The type of program you choose depends on your personal preferences. But, no matter what program you go with, the volunteer coordinator should be able to give you an estimate of how many hours you’ll be expected to work in a given period of time. For example, you might be asked to work four hours per day or 20 hours per week.

Being asked to work an extra hour or two on an occasional basis shouldn’t be a cause for concern, but if you’re regularly getting pressured to work more hours than you signed up for, that’s not a good sign.

Remember that you have every right to refuse to work beyond the hours you’ve agreed to. After all, you’re a volunteer.

4. What, if any, compensation is included?

Volunteer work is not typically paid. However, many organizations compensate their volunteers in other ways, such as providing free room and board, educational opportunities, and sightseeing tours in the local area.

Before signing up for a volunteer position, find out what perks and amenities would be provided for you.

For example, if you’re expected to cook your own meals with food that you’ve purchased yourself, you should know this ahead of time so you won’t show up hungry and empty-handed on your first day.

5. What are the accommodations like?

Many volunteer positions include free or discounted accommodations. Volunteer accommodations can range from rustic to luxurious, from tent camping to home-stays with local families to fully serviced hotel rooms.

When considering a volunteer program, you should find out exactly what type of accommodation it offers.

Will you be expected to share a room with other volunteers? Will you share a bathroom? Will your meals be catered for you, or is there a kitchen where you can cook for yourself? Are there laundry facilities? What type of area are the accommodations in?

For example, if you plan to volunteer in a rural location, are the accommodations near a bus stop that can take you to the nearest town? Or, if you’re volunteering in a busy city, are the accommodations in a neighborhood that’s OK to walk around in at night?

6. Is there a charge?

Many volunteer programs charge participants a fee.

This can range from a small “membership” or “service” charge to thousands of dollars to cover the entire cost of a volunteer’s accommodations, meals and transportation.

Ethical volunteer programs will always be clear about any fees they charge. They should also be able to give you an estimate of any other expenses you might incur, such as bus fare to the nearest city on your day off.

7. Are there reviews of the program from past volunteers?

Feedback about an organization from past volunteers is priceless, because people who have actually volunteered with an organization can give you the inside scoop about what the experience is really like.

Any organization that you’re considering volunteering with should be able to put you in touch with a former volunteer who can answer your questions about the program. If an organization can’t or won’t connect you with any past volunteers, this might raise some red flags.

Also, you can go online and read reviews of organizations that are posted by former volunteers. Googling the name of the organization along with “reviews” or “volunteer reviews” is a great way to get started. Check social media accounts for the organization, as well.

8. What kind of support is provided for volunteers?

If a problem arises during your stint of volunteering, you should be able to get assistance in a timely manner from the organization you’re working with. If the organization doesn’t offer 24/7 support, then it should provide you with an alternative phone number to call outside of office hours or in the event of an emergency.

9. Have you read the fine print in your volunteer contract?

Unless you’re in an extremely informal volunteering situation, you’ll likely have at least a basic type of contract spelling out what is expected of you, as a volunteer, and what will be provided in return.

Avoid unpleasant surprises by reading the fine print in your contract very carefully before signing it. If there’s anything unclear or confusing, ask the volunteer coordinator or contact person within the organization to clarify it for you. Don’t be pressured into signing a contract before you’ve had a chance to fully understand and consider it.

A volunteer vacation can be an immensely rewarding experience, but it pays to do your homework before signing up. By carefully considering each of these questions, plus any others you can think of, you’ll be more likely to find a volunteering opportunity that is right for you.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler
Monday, 08 November 2021 09:07

U.S. Travel Restrictions are Lifting Nov. 8

In just a few days, the United States will reopen to foreign vaccinated tourists for the first time in nearly two years. Globe Aware is excited to welcome back our coordinators from around the world, who visit our main office in Dallas to discuss new initiatives, programs and encourage team building!


 

U.S. Travel Restrictions are Lifting Nov. 8 — Here's What Travelers Can Expect

Experts weigh in on how the upcoming border opening has affected not only hotel and flight bookings, but the travel industry as a whole.

By Alison Fox
November 05, 2021
Travel + Leisure

In just a few days, the United States will reopen its border to vaccinated foreign tourists, welcoming people back to the country for the first time in nearly two years. And experts say international travelers are getting ready.

Hotel bookings, flight searches, and vacation home rentals throughout the U.S. have all seen a bump in traffic in the days since the Nov. 8 reopening date was announced, signaling a beacon of hope to travel pros for the industry's return to normal or at least a new version of normal.

Following the announcement, Expedia saw a 43% increase in Australian travelers searching for hotels in the U.S., a 28% bump in hotel searches from UK travelers, and a 24% increase from French travelers, the company shared with Travel + Leisure. And Vrbo saw a more than 160% increase in searches for U.S. vacation homes from international travelers.

travel opening

"There was a lot of dreaming and what I call 'soft planning' happening before Nov. 8 was announced," Melanie Fish, a travel expert and head of Public Relations for the Expedia Brands, told T+L. "That soft planning turned into all business the moment international travelers got the news and searches really started in earnest. There is a feeling of confidence this time around among travelers that I haven't seen in any of the fits and starts in travel we've seen since the pandemic began."

And that confidence has turned searches into actual bookings, especially when it comes to places to stay. Hyatt told T+L that nearly 50% of its U.S. hotel bookings for the week of Nov. 8 were made after the border reopening was announced.

Who will be allowed to enter on Nov. 8?

Travelers who have gotten vaccinated with a shot approved by either the Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization — which include Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, as well as AstraZeneca/Oxford, Sinopharm, Sinovac, and Covishield — will be allowed to enter.

There will be some exceptions to the vaccine mandate, including for children who are under 18 years old.

Fully vaccinated travelers will have to get tested within three days of boarding a flight to the U.S. Unvaccinated air travelers — including U.S. citizens — will be required to show proof of a negative test taken within one day of boarding a flight. Children under 2 years old are exempt from testing and "accommodations" will be made for people who tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days and recovered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Airlines will also collect contact information for passengers for contact tracing purposes.

What will flights look like?

Senior product operations specialist at Scott's Cheap Flights, Willis Orlando, told T+L that a pattern has emerged throughout the pandemic. When a border reopening is announced, airlines ready their jets in anticipation of increased demand — and that's likely true this time as well.

Since the U.S. border announcement was made in late September, travel app Hopper saw a 338% spike in international flight searches to the U.S for trips after Nov. 8, the company shared with T+L.

Additionally, a spokeswoman for United Airlines told T+L the carrier expects to see more than 30,000 international inbound passengers on Nov. 8, adding most flights will be "fairly full," in line with the peak days this summer. Following the announcement, United actually saw transatlantic bookings for November and beyond exceed 2019 levels for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

But while there is a noticeable bump, Orlando said international bookings still remain down compared to pre-COVID-19, leading to good news — and good deals — for travelers.

"For short-term travel, we're seeing some great deals. These planes are being put back into action quickly… We're seeing cheap flights in both directions right now as these European airlines have joined the party," he said, adding, "I do think the impact will be somewhat short-lived. It will last throughout the holiday season in terms of these great deals and then things will normalize."

As of now, Orlando said it's not unheard of to find flights as low as $325 roundtrip from New York, Chicago, Miami, and Washington D.C. to places like Ireland and Italy.

He also said it's a good time to splurge on a better seat as the price difference between premium economy and business class is markedly slim.

"Right now the gap between premium economy and business class is as low as it's ever going to be," he said. "It's a unique opportunity for leisure travelers who may not be the cheapest of the cheap."

What should travelers expect from hotels?

As international travelers return to the U.S., many will head back to the large cities they've loved for years. According to Expedia and Hotels.com, that means New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami, and Los Angeles.

"It made sense during the pandemic that people were craving a way to get away from home but still be near the great outdoors, be where they felt they had space to spread out," Expedia's Fish told T+L. But that's starting to change. "International travelers have always flocked to big tourist destinations, big urban destinations. So it makes sense now that they're coming back, they're going to those places."

Fish said she expects to see a "steady increase" in hotel traffic starting in November through the holidays, followed by an increase throughout the beginning of 2022.

"And by next summer, it's going to be a flood of travelers going every which way across every ocean," she said.

Asad Ahmed, the SVP of commercial services for Hyatt, also told T+L that the hotel group is seeing a 72% increase in resort bookings throughout the Americas over the Thanksgiving holiday, compared to 2019. While urban properties haven't quite hit those numbers, they're hovering around 86% of 2019 levels, which is the best they've been since Labor Day.

"Even before announcement went out, we have continued to see the international traveler population testing the waters, putting bookings in the system and saying aspirationally 'I do want to go to New York' or 'I do want to go to Chicago,'" he said. "If anything, formal government announcements have given people the confidence to do what people have already been thinking of."

What can travelers expect from vacation rentals?

There's been a shift when it comes to vacation rental bookings throughout the pandemic with travelers securing homes months earlier than they would have before COVID-19. That's still very much the case, Fish said, creating the potential for some steep competition.

"International travelers are searching for Vrbo vacation rentals in popular warm-weather destinations. These are places that Vrbo was already doing incredibly well in with U.S. travelers," she said. "So the competition for whole private vacation homes is going to be intense. It's going to result in people needing to be more flexible if they're married to a certain destination or a certain type of vacation home."

Maui, Hawaii, was the most popular search destination for international travelers on Vrbo, followed by Palm Springs in California and Fort Myers in Florida.

For fellow home rental company Airbnb, the site saw a 44% increase in U.S. bookings by foreign guests for stays starting Nov. 8 after the reopening date was announced, the company told T+L. International travelers on the site who are headed to the U.S. are most often coming from London, Paris, Santiago, Toronto, and Vancouver.

What are travelers valuing for the future?

Experts agreed there are two things travelers will be looking for going forward: flexibility and information.

"People are paying attention to cancelation policies, booking flexible rates," Fish said. "These are all lessons we learned, like it or not, during the pandemic and these are the lessons... that [is] going to be a permanent part of how we plan our travel."

​​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

Globe Aware volunteers who wish to visit Buddhist temples like the majestic Takhsang must obtain a "temple permit." If you are interested in exploring temples on your future volunteer vacation to Bhutan, feel free to contact our office and we'll help you plan accordingly!


Visit Taktsang Monastery: Bhutan's Most Iconic Monastery That's Impossibly Perched On A Sheer Cliff

This important pilgrimage site is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bhutan and judging by its architecture, it's pretty easy to see why.

BY AARON SPRAY
OCT 31, 2021

The Paro Taktsang, or Taktsang Palphug Monastery - also known in English as the "Tiger's Nest" or "Tiger's Lair" is one of the most iconic and mind-bending Buddhist monasteries in the world. It is a sacred Vajrayana Himalayan Buddhist site and is located on the cliffside of the upper Paro valley in Bhutan.

It is one of the thirteen Tiger's Nest caves in historical Tibet as one of the thirteen "Taktsang" or "tiger lair" caves. It is one of the most sacred and important sites in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Those who wish to see the wonders of modern-day Tibet in China can if they book with a tour company.

Taktsang Monastery

History And Legend Of The Tiger's Lair
The story of Takstang comes from 747 AD when Guru Padmasambhava chose the cave in the sheer rock face to meditate. The legend goes that he flew to the site on the back of a tigress and meditated in the caves for 3 years, 3 months, 3 days, and 3 hours so that he could subdue evil demons that lived in it. Since then the cave has been considered sacred and has become an important pilgrimage site.

  • Built: Around 1692 (Buildings Around The Cave)

The elegant structure that inspires people today was built around the cave in 1692 and has become a cultural icon of Bhutan. It is one of the most venerated pilgrimage destinations in the Himalayas and it clings to the rock towering over 800 meters over 2,600 feet above the valley. It takes around 2 to 3 hours to reach by climbing if coming from the nearby town.

The Monastery Today
The shrine is dedicated to Padmasambhava or the "Shrine of the Guru with Eight Names" referring to Padmasambhava's eight manifestations.

  • Height: 800 Meters or 2,600 Feet Above the Valley Floor
  • Altitude: 3,120 Meters or 9,678 Feet Above Sea Level
  • Time To Climb: 2 to 3 Hours Depending on Fitness Level (12 Km or 8 Miles From the Paro Town)

Today the monastery is one of the most famous and touristic destinations in Bhutan. Visiting this monastery is certainly an unforgettable experience. It is notable for its isolation and is only accessible by mountainous paths. The mountainous Paro valley lies in the heart of Bhutan. The Paro valley hosts the only international airport in the country.

While its isolation makes it special and romantic, it also creates other headaches. In 1998 a fire broke out in the main building of the complex (which also contained valuable paintings, statutes, and artifacts). And it was burned down completely with emergency services unable to provide assistance. The monastery was subsequently restored.

  • Destroyed: In 1998 By A Fire

The complex is made up of white buildings with golden roofs. The monastery complex consisted of 4 main temples and several dwellings. All the buildings are interconnected with staircases with steps carved into the rock and most of the buildings have a balcony with breathtaking views of the surrounding area. There are eight caves in the monastery, of which four are easier to access.

  • Rotation: Every Morning At 4.00 am The Prayer Wheel is Rotated By Monks To Mark A New Day

There are golden idols everywhere and in the hall of Thousand Buddhas (which is carved into the rock) is a large statue of a tiger.

Visiting Bhutan

The Kingdom of Bhutan follows a policy of "High Value, Low Impact Tourism" and so tourism in the kingdom is highly regulated. Only a limited number of tourists are permitted to enter the country at any one time in an effort to preserve the unique qualities of the all Himalayan country.

  • Policy: "High Value, Low Impact Tourism"

While tourists are issued a 7 or 14-day "entry permit" they are only able to enter the area around Thimphu and Paro and the rest of the country is considered a restricted area. There are immigration checkpoints throughout the country.

  • Visiting Temples: Requires A Temple Permit

Foreigners who wish to visit Buddhist temples like Takhsang must obtain a "temple permit" from the Ministry of Culture. The permits are normally arranged by tour operators.

  • Spending: One Must Spend A Minimum of $250 or $200 A Day Depending On The Season

With the exception of Indian, Bangladeshi, and Maldives citizens, all foreigners must apply for a visa before visiting Bhutan. Foreign tourists must have a licensed Bhutanese tour operator who must pre-arrange their holiday. Every tourist must spend a minimum of around $250 a day during the tourist high season or $200 a day for the low season.

While in the region, visit the eye-watering Himalaya country of Nepal and see their seven UNSECO Listed world heritage sites. This is a stunning region where India meets Tibet and is a region that has inspired people for generations.

Additional Info

  • Source The Travel

Wishes are pouring in for India as the country reached a milestone in administering the Covid-19 vaccination. With it's planned re-opening this late Fall, we look forward to having Globe Aware volunteers back in the country, serving safely!


 

Wishes pour in from WHO, Bhutan, Sri Lanka as India achieves 100 crore Covid vaccine dose landmark

GENEVA: Wishes poured in for India from the World Health Organisation and the leadership of Bhutan and Sri Lanka after it scripted history on Thursday with the cumulative Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country surpassing the 100-crore milestone.

Taking to Twitter, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi, scientists, health workers and people of India on their "efforts to protect the vulnerable populations from Covid-19 and achieve vaccine equity targets".

india covid

Bhutan's Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said the feat is a "huge accomplishment" not just for India, but the world. "On behalf of the people of Bhutan, I congratulate India!" he tweeted.

The ministry of external affairs (MEA) thanked Tshering for his wishes and his appreciation for the Vaccine Maitri initiative.

Vaccine Maitri is a humanitarian initiative undertaken by the Indian government to provide Covid-19 vaccines to countries around the world. The government started providing vaccines from January 20. India has so far delivered around 66.3 million doses of vaccines to 95 countries, including Canada, the UK, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Nepal, South Africa, Ukraine and Bahrain.

Bhutanese foreign minister Tandi Dorji also congratulated India for administering one billion Covid-19 vaccinations. "A historic milestone!" he tweeted.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa congratulated PM Modi, the medical community and frontliners of India "for achieving this mammoth task".

"The way forward & adjusting to the new normal while staying safe is highly dependent on a successful vaccination drive. Congratulations on reaching this milestone," he tweeted.
In its response, the MEA said the guidance and support of the Lankan Prime Minister have been instrumental in driving India-Lanka relations forward.

"We hope mass vaccination drives in the 2 countries will promote travel & interactions in both directions & enhance people 2 people ties that form the bedrock of India-Lanka relations," it tweeted.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar, who is in Israel on a five-day visit, applauded the selfless hard work and dedication of doctors and health workers.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Cambodia has lifted a ban on all flights from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines after most of the kingdom's population have been vaccinated. Globe Aware looks forward to the re-opening of the beautiful country to our U.S. volunteers soon.


Travel Update: Cambodia Announces Reopening in Phases to Fully Vaccinated Visitors

Cambodia has lifted a ban on all flights from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines after most of the kingdom's population have been vaccinated.

October 27, 2021
Edited by Sumaila Zaman

Phnom Penh: The government of Cambodia on Tuesday released plans to resume the country in a phased manner to the fully vaccinated foreign travellers by the end of this month. According to the Tourism Ministry, the program will allow only the fully vaccinated visitors, tourists to skip the quarantine if they stayed a minimum of five days in the designated areas.Also Read - Vande Bharat Express Train on Howrah-Ranchi Route Soon | Check Timetable, Facilities, Routes.

The designated areas include two seaside provinces, Sihanoukville and Koh Kong. While arriving the foreign travellers must give proof of their double-dosed vaccinations as well as the recent report of the rapid test against the coronavirus. 

cambodia travel

If the results show a COVID negative then the traveller can proceed without any quarantine. The SouthEast Nation, Cambodia has registered a total of 112 fresh cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday. This has been recorded as the lowest number of cases since the month of April. 

Presently, Siem Reap province is likely to be added to the quarantine-free province list in the month of January. Recently, Cambodia has lifted a ban on all flights from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines after most of the kingdom’s population have been vaccinated against the Covid-19, as said by Health Minister Mam Bunheng said.

The Health Minister added, “It’s part of the country’s move to reopen social and economic activities gradually in all areas by adapting to the new normal and to reactivate air transport services”, quoted news agency IANS. It even banned all flights from the three ASEAN member states in August last year in an effort to curb coronavirus transmission.

Earlier in the month, the Ministry of Health (MoH) said in a statement that the Cambodian government has decided to reduce the quarantine period for fully vaccinated inbound travellers from Monday onwards. The statement added that foreign travellers will still need to present a medical certificate for a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours prior to their arrival in Cambodia, and they must carry a vaccination card or certificate indicating their full vaccination status and vaccination date.

Additional Info

  • Source India.com

Toting everything from sewing machines to human skulls, these flyers took left TSA agents scratching their heads. What strange items have our Globe Aware volunteers packed in their luggage!?


 

From bats to skeletons, travelers have actually flown with these 13 strange items fit for Halloween

Ashley Kosciolek
Oct 26 2021

Last month, I was preparing to pack for a Disney cruise — one of Disney Cruise Line‘s Halloween on the High Seas sailings — and I needed to find out if I would be allowed to fly with a lightsaber to complete my costume.

Cue TSA’s hilarious answer to that question: “Sadly, the technology doesn’t currently exist to create a real lightsaber. However, you can pack a toy lightsaber in your carry-on or checked bag. May the force be with you.”

That got me wondering about other weird stuff people have flown with. I polled members of The Points Guy’s TPG Lounge on Facebook, and some of the answers were so fun — and seasonally appropriate — that I had to share them. Toting everything from sewing machines to human skulls, these flyers took “spooky szn” to a whole new level — and left TSA agents scratching their heads.

skull 5671571 1920

Decorations and creepy bric-a-brac

Grinning jack-o-lanterns: “I live in the U.S. Virgin Islands but spend time in Connecticut during the summer,” TPG Lounge member Jenn Manes shares. “I had to fly back to the island for a quick, 24-hour work thing at the end of July. I didn’t need to bring much, so I packed my suitcase with Halloween decorations.”

Skeletal replicas: Jill Greenblatt, Ophir Marko and Jerri Tolson Tryon have made it through security with replicas of skeletons and even a fake human head. While Greenblatt — who was working on a play where the skeleton was a prop — says she didn’t get a second look from TSA, Marko, who brought a child-size skeleton home for his children, and Tolson Tryon both had their bags searched. “It was used to demonstrate radiography [when] I was selling radiography film for DuPont,” Tolson Tryon elaborates. “I got some second (and third … and supervisor) looks. [I] carried it on the plane in what appeared to be a bowling ball bag.”

Goth memorabilia: For his tale of odd cargo, Dan Eskenazi takes a stroll down memory lane: “[I’m] from Salem, haven’t lived at home in years. [Recently] went through some totes [from] when I was goth. Found some cool Halloween-type stuff and filled my carry-on. Got weird looks when scanned by security.” The haul? He tells us it included tarot cards, three voodoo dolls and a devil’s puppet head, among other items.

Dollies dearest: Darlene Crouthamel says she was stopped on her way to a vintage doll convention because of the voice boxes inside the dolls she was carrying. “… I … had Chatty Cathy talking dolls in my carry-on and had to explain to TSA what they were because their talking mechanisms look suspicious in X-ray,” she remembers. When asked if they started conversing inside her bag, she says, “Only when I pulled the string to demonstrate. However, we’ve had some mysteriously talk on their own here at the house.” Cue the goosebumps.

Candy

Cauldron Cakes: Now that we’ve covered the decorations, what’s Halloween without a bit of candy — especially the magical kind? “I brought Cauldron Cakes from Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the TSA agents were properly stumped by them in the X-ray,” Chelsie Spacke tells us.

Gummy bears: I’m a sucker for gummy bears, so this one catches my attention — particularly as Drew Tipton tells us that he lugged 50 pounds of them back to the U.S. from abroad. “I was bringing them back because my wife used to work with disadvantaged kids,” he explains. “She used them as treats because I got all sorts of different ones that you can’t get here stateside.”

Extra-large trick-or-treat bags: Angie Clouse brings us the story of a treat-filled (albeit embarrassing) trip home from Disney with her daughter Lauren. “My college-aged daughter and I had been to the Disney Halloween party. Her backpack and carry-on were filled with only candy. She’d been flirting with the guy behind her in the TSA line — until she had to empty bags to go through the screener, which took up three TSA bins.”

Costumes

Weapons (real and fake): Pre-9/11, weapons — such as the replica Fiji war club Katie Isaacson took with her on a flight — were allowed as carry-ons. Thankfully, Mieke Lisuk realized she had to check the authentic six-foot-long, hand-carved hunting spear she brought back from Borneo. But Lynn LaChance Solak wasn’t so lucky: “I bought my son-in-law a decorative fiberglass steampunk pistol in Key West. Really not sure what I was thinking, but I thought it would be OK to pack it in my carry-on…. Of course [TSA] said I couldn’t … so I had to turn around and go purchase a small piece of luggage at an airport gift shop and check it in.”

Freaky fashion: TPG Lounge moderator Gloria Lee laments what can go wrong when you decide to dress festively to fly. In her case, the ensemble included a jack-o-lantern dress, purple and black striped tights, and an orange and black fascinator. “Got stuck in the airport overnight on 10/31 due to bad storms,” she says. “‘Super cute’ on 10/31 turns into ‘walk of shame’ on 11/1.”

Sewing machine: Impressively, Laurene Christensen didn’t bring a costume on her flight, but she did bring an entire sewing machine to a conference (in her checked luggage) in order to make one for her daughter in her downtime while she was there. Now that’s dedication.

Remains

Shrunken head: So far, most of the items on this list have been quirky, rather than spooky, but these last few are what’s left of beings that were once animate — both people and animals. For starters, Heather L. Arnold told us the strangest thing she ever took on a plane was an “Antiques Roadshow”-bound shrunken head. Yikes!

Taxidermic bat: “I brought home a [taxidermic] bat in my carry-on … earlier this year,” Becki Hyde shared. And she’s not the only one. At least two others — including Eskenazi, who mentions a mounted bat as part of his goth collection — say they also flew with them.

Cremains: Out of the several hundred answers I received, cremains was the single most common, with more than a dozen people saying they transported their loved ones’ ashes to their final resting places. Most were human, but some were what was left of furry friends, too. Sadly, it wasn’t smooth sailing for all of them. “In spite of a letter from the crematorium and [the ashes’] passing easily through the X-ray, the TSA folks still insisted on sifting through the ashes to make sure no contraband was inside the case,” remembers Dean Mazurek.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

Globe Aware volunteers can learn these helpful tips for their first volunteer vacation in Cuba, as the country prepares to resume international tourism.


 

Top 6 Helpful Travel Tips for Your First Visit To Cuba

The island nation of Cuba is a place that many tourists would like to experience. Although the country is open for tourists, it has many specific requirements for travel. There are many things you need to know before you visit this unique country. Read on to get these helpful travel tips for your first visit to Cuba.

cuba2

The Best Time to Visit Cuba
The best time to visit Cuba would be the shoulder season between December through April. The prices for accommodations and tours would be considerably less than the peak season. The weather will also be warm and mild during this time.

What You Need To Arrive in Cuba
Visitors to Cuba will need a visa to enter the country. For Americans, the visa process is complex, and you can enter Cuba if you fit into a specific category.

Canadian tourists travelling to Cuba must fill out a tourist visa, also known as a tourist card. The card is usually provided by tour companies or airlines. If you go to Cuba on your own, you can obtain it from a Cuban government office.

Before you board your plane, you will need to show evidence of a departing flight from Cuba.

Appropriate travel insurance is a must before traveling to Cuba. You may be asked to show proof of insurance at the airport.

It is best to have hard copies of all your travel related documents on you. This includes hotel reservations, travel insurance, tour bookings, etc.

Using Your Cell and WIFI in Cuba
Some cell phone providers are now providing specific roaming packages for Cuba. Check with your provider to see what travel packages may be offered.

Cuba does not have free WIFI. You will need to purchase a card called ETECSA. This is a small scratch card that you use to access network hotspots in the cities. Some hotels do sell cards for up to five hours of internet service, but they will usually only offer this to their guests. Even with this, the internet service in the country is very slow, and it may interfere if you have work to do online.

There are not any US websites that will work in Cuba. Do all your travel research well in advance before your trip, and print any useful information, maps, etc. for easy reference.

Most travel websites such as Booking.com, etc. will not work in Cuba. It is highly recommended that you book all accommodation and activities well in advance to make your trip as pleasant as possible.

Money Matters in Cuba
Make a travel alert with your bank that you will be traveling to Cuba.

The easiest way to withdrawal money from your bank account with your card is to go to a CADECA. These are places for currency exchange and are located in many hotels.

Debit and credit cards from US banks will not work in Cuba. Hotels do not have credit card machines, and transactions are usually done over the phone. Your best bet is to go to a CADECA and get cash to pay your bill. It is good to note that credit cards including Visa and Mastercard and banks cards that have their logos will work as long as they are not issued by US banks.

Cuba has a modestly expanding network of ATMs but make sure to bring enough cash for times you can’t locate a bank machine.

Other Tips For Your First Visit to Cuba
It is not recommended that you drink the tap water in Cuba. Keep a supply of bottled water handy for consumption.

The options for buying groceries in Cuba is limited. Most supermarkets have limited supplies consisting mostly of canned goods, pasta, and bread. Your best bet for fresh fruit and vegetables is to find a local street market.

Keep a plentiful supply of prescriptions and your usual over the counter medications with you. If you get sick in any way, you will probably not be able to any of this medication anywhere on the island.

In Cuba, there is usually an attendant at most public bathrooms. Keep a few coins handy to pay the attendant for use of the facility.

More Tips for Cuba Travel
The power plugs in Cuba are the 110v receptacles that are standard in North America.

Tipping is common and expected in Cuba. Most people that work in the service industry have very low salaries and rely on the tips from tourists to support their families.

Be aware of people that may try to con you by pretending to be helpful. Some of these people would expect payment for restaurant recommendations or directions. As always do not flaunt luxury jewelry and signs of wealth.

Be prepared to spend time waiting in lines during your trip to Cuba. Life still moves very slowly here, so it does not matter whether you are waiting for currency exchange or purchasing goods, you will be waiting on line for it.

Entry Requirements: All international arrivals must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken less than 72 hours before arrival to Cuba at the port of entry. All travelers will also be required to fill out a health declaration card before being allowed entry in Cuba. Travelers will also be subject to a PCR test at the port of entry and a mandatory period of self-isolation (at your hotel) until they receive the result of the PCR test.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

Each year, travelers weigh in on their favorite international cities, and the results of our survey reflect the kinds of places you longed to visit when you couldn’t travel. Globe Aware is delighted to see Merida, Mexico included on the list and recommend our volunteer vacation there to everyone!


 

The Best Cities in the World: 2021 Readers' Choice Awards

The places inspiring your return to travel.

BY VALERIE MARINO
Condé Nast Traveler
October 5, 2021

Each year, readers weigh in on their favorite international cities, big and small, and it’s always exciting to witness which trending locales can rise to the top and compete with the old stalwarts. As the world has begun to reopen, the results of our 34th annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey reflect the kinds of places you longed to visit when you couldn’t travel and the ones you returned to first once you could. Over 800,000 of you filled out our survey, and while we’re always curious about where you’ve been and where you’re going, we’re especially excited to learn about the truly memorable cities that sparked your imagination and stayed with you when your next trip seemed out of reach. Here are the cities you loved most this year.

From historical sites to local art, signature dishes to sun-washed beaches, there’s something for everyone among these small international cities.

10. Kralendijk, Bonaire
Divers and snorkelers will be familiar with the lure of Kralendijk, the capital of the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. The Bonaire National Marine Park is the world’s oldest marine reserve and spans the entire coast with more than 85 dive sites, but you’ll find just as much color and beauty on land. The compact downtown is home to traditional architecture, unique shops along Kaya Grandi, and the Bonaire Museum of Natural History (entry is free, but donations are welcome), with its collection of shells, coral, and local artifacts.

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9. Galway, Ireland
A popular home base for day trips to the Aran Islands or the Cliffs of Moher, Galway is a worthy destination in its own right. The bustling university town in Western Ireland blends the historic—you’ll see remnants of medieval stone walls weaving through downtown—with the contemporary, and its thriving art and music communities earned the city the title of European Capital of Culture in 2020. Its vibrant food scene spans from pubs to Michelin-starred restaurants, with plenty of fresh seafood thanks to the city’s location between the River Corrib and Galway Bay, and its wide range of lodging options includes cozy B&Bs and the avant-garde g Hotel and Spa.

8. Reykjavik, Iceland
What is there to say about Reykjavik that hasn’t been splashed across your Instagram feed in recent years? While the ultra-cheap flights might be a thing of the past, there’s still plenty to see and experience in the Icelandic capital, including the otherworldly lagoons, hot springs, and active volcanoes right in the city's backyard. Airbnb is often the best choice for lodging, but venture east of the city to the 5 Million Star Hotel (known as The Bubble Hotel for its transparent bubble rooms) for an experience you won’t find elsewhere. The toughest decision is when to visit. You’ll find the best weather (and 21 hours of sunlight) from June to August, but peak season for the magical Northern Lights is from September through March.

7. Cambridge, United Kingdom
A city that seems locked in time thanks to the architecture of the world-famous university at its heart, Cambridge offers an idyllic setting with its cobblestone streets, green spaces, and magnificent buildings. Pop into one of the city’s pubs (there are more than 100 to choose from) to pull a pint, or tuck into the “world’s stickiest” Chelsea buns at Fitzbillies. King’s College Chapel, the most recognizable building in town, puts on a show as a stunning example of Gothic architecture, as do The Backs, the postcard-perfect gardens found behind Cambridge’s colleges.

6. Bruges, Belgium
Close your eyes and picture a quaint European city, and Bruges just might be what comes to mind. One of the most famous and well-preserved cities on the continent, Bruges exudes charm from every cobblestone and canal. The Belfry of Bruges is hard to miss, towering 272 feet over the market square, but be warned that it’s a cramped 366 steps to the top if you choose to enjoy the view. For a more leisurely way to take in the sites, hit the water with a canal tour before sampling the wares at one of the city’s excellent breweries.

5. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik saw a massive spike in tourism after being featured as the filming location for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones, and while you won’t find any mad kings (or queens) here in real life, the beauty of this city at the edge of the Adriatic is very real. Wander the limestone streets and walk along the ancient city walls, or take a short ferry ride to the island of Lokrum. Here, you can hike through the botanical garden, catch a glimpse of the wild peacocks, and climb to the top of an abandoned 11th-century monastery for stunning panoramic views.

4. Siena, Italy
Traveler readers know better than to overlook the Tuscan city of Siena. All roads lead, quite literally, to the Piazza del Campo, built at the intersection of three main roads, and the square has served as the city’s social center for centuries. Just up the hill, admire the intricate marble mosaic floor of Il Duomo, one of the most ornate churches in Europe. Siena is known for its Gothic architecture, vibrant streets, and some of the best wines in Italy. Order a bottle of local wine with a plate of pici cacio e pepe at Antica Trattoria Papei, and don’t leave town without sampling ricciarelli, an almond cookie originating in Siena.

3. Salzburg, Austria
Classic Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, sits divided by the Salzach River: Its pedestrian Old City lines the left bank, and the (slightly) newer side is on the right. To drink like a local, head to Bräustübl zu Mülln, Austria’s largest beer hall, where beer is drawn directly from wooden barrels and can be enjoyed alongside traditional and regional specialties from the Schmankerlgang, an Old World food court of sorts. For a hotel stay involving gingerbread cookies, falling snow, and the fluffiest beds, look no further than Hotel Goldener Hirsch.

2. San Sebastián, Spain
San Sebastián has everything you could want from a seaside resort town—especially if you arrive hungry. Pintxo (or “small snack”) bar hopping is commonplace in Basque country, and you’ll find no shortage of options in Parte Vieja, the heart of the city. During the day, head to Playa de la Concha to lounge on the beach or take in surfer culture in Gros. A favorite vacation spot of Queen Maria Cristina in the late 1800s, San Sebastián has retained much of its splendor, which you’ll find in the breathtaking views from the top of Monte Igueldo.

1. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Four hours northwest of Mexico City is the jewel of San Miguel de Allende. A hub for expat artists, this highland city is known for its Spanish Colonial architecture and colorful facades. You could spend hours browsing the galleries and pop-up shops at Fábrica La Aurora, a former textile factory that is now home to local artisans. The Rosewood San Miguel de Allende is a hidden oasis in the heart of the city, with grand rooms featuring hand-carved furnishings and 360-degree views of the skyline from the rooftop tapas bar. For dinner, book the chef’s table at Aperi for one of the best dining experiences in the city, full of fresh flavors from the region.

Best Big Cities

Your favorite big international cities include destinations beloved for food, wine, architecture, and art. Some are classic travel spots that many have visited multiple times, while others are slightly less-touristed, but all are equally deserving of your attention.

10. Seoul, South Korea
A modern city with pockets of serene palaces and temples, Seoul is home to some of the most beautiful places in South Korea. At Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Gyeonghoeru pavilion remains almost exactly as it was when it was built back in 1395, while many of the traditional buildings at Bukchon Hanok Village now host tea houses and galleries. The city is also a shopper’s paradise, whether you’re stocking up on Korean beauty products or high-street fashion. When it comes to lodging, check in to the Park Hyatt Seoul for upscale convenience or La Casa Hotel for a boutique alternative.

9. Bangkok
Consistently ranked as one of the most-visited cities in the world, Bangkok has a multifaceted identity that blends history, culture, street style, and luxury like nowhere else. Take in its old-charm architecture in Chinatown or enjoy the view from the top of Wat Arun, one of the few temples in Thailand you can climb. Be sure to have a game plan when it comes to dining—the city has some fantastic street food stalls as well as modern and refined restaurants with opulent dining rooms. The capital's wide-ranging art scene, from a complex of perfectly preserved teak houses to the sprawling Bangkok National Museum, offers a chance to learn about Thai culture—and escape the sweltering heat.

8. Porto, Portugal
Porto, sometimes called Oporto, is a known destination for wine connoisseurs, but there’s much more to this seaside city than its sweet port wine. The modern and traditional meet in Portugal's most creative city, where chefs, artists, and designers are bringing a new spirit to the its old-world appeal. Sites like the Igreja de São Francisco, an opulent display of Gothic architecture, are woven with displays of public art. There’s a similar blend of the modern and traditional at Casa de Chá da Boa Nova, Porto’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, where sea urchin crème brûlée is served with floor-to-ceiling ocean views in a building designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Álvaro Siza Vieira.

marrakech

7. Marrakech, Morocco
The former imperial city of Marrakech is an experience for the senses. In the medina’s densely packed maze of alleyways, you’ll find spice markets, food stalls, and all sorts of vendors peddling their wares. Spend an afternoon in Sidi Ghanem, an industrial quarter lined with shops and workshops for artists and designers. While the city has long been known as a creative oasis for Europeans, it has more recently become a hub for Africa’s diasporic art world. Start with the Museum of Contemporary African Art Al Maaden before making your way to Comptoir des Mines, an experimental gallery and residency for artists in the region.

6. Mérida, Mexico
The streets of Mérida are bursting with the colorful facades of Spanish colonial architecture, but the capital of Mexico’s Yucatan state is also steeped in Mayan history. Centrally located on the Yucatan Peninsula, the city is an easy day trip to UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as the ancient cities of Uxmal and Chichen Itza, and the beaches on the Gulf shore in Progreso. Locals recommend visiting Fundación de Artistas, a nonprofit featuring art exhibits in a 19th-century home; Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, a modern cultural museum; and the traditional Yucatecan food at the super casual Manjar Blanco.

5. Istanbul
Trite but true: Istanbul is the city where east meets west. It would take several visits to see it all in this sprawling city, but the opulent ​​Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul is an excellent choice for your home base with its ornately carved arches and an infinity pool overlooking the Bosphorus Strait. The Seraglio, formally known as Topkapı Palace, is top of the must-do list, as is the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. Spend a day making your stomach very happy with a walking food tour, sampling kebabs, menemen, fresh figs, and rainbow-colored Turkish delight.

4. Singapore
We named Singapore one of the best places to visit in 2019 and Traveler readers agreed. Thanks to the direct flight from New York to Singapore (and the lure of Crazy Rich Asians), this bustling city-state is way more than a stopover. Singapore has a growing contemporary art scene, a new hotel seemingly every eight minutes, and a commitment to start-ups and innovation (just see the Supertree Grove, above). All of this is to say, if you visited once before, you may not even recognize it now. Want to relax after a day of exploring? Choose from 1,000 types of gin at Atlas bar, or check into Marina Bay Sands so you have access to that top-of-the-world infinity pool you've heard so much about. Come evening, dig into the city’s hawker culture—you can do a multi-country food crawl without ever leaving the hawker center.

3. Kyoto, Japan
You think you know Kyoto—after all, how much can change in an imperial capital, where you can visit 10th-century temples and pass young geishas in the street? Though it's still one of the most well-preserved cities in Japan, Kyoto has also been reborn following a 2011 earthquake. "Many artists moved to Kyoto, bringing a new energy," says Lucille Reyboz, cofounder of the Kyotographie photography festival; now the city’s leafy, machiya-lined streets are draws for their specialty crafts shops and chic concept stores. There's a thriving gin scene along with the sake scene, and, yes, about 100 Michelin-starred restaurants still. For an authentic meal without Michelin prices, try 200-year-old ryokan Kinmata.

2. Osaka, Japan
​​Japan’s second-largest city is often overshadowed by Tokyo and Kyoto, but there are plenty of reasons it’s become a destination in its own right. For starters, it’s one of the best food cities in all of Japan, thanks to must-eat regional specialities such as takoyaki (battered, fried octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (grilled savory pancakes with a variety of additions), and its baseball culture rivals that of New York or Boston, with similarly devoted legions of fans. Don’t miss Osaka Castle, where the eighth-floor outdoor deck provides unparalleled views.

1. Tokyo
A regular on our best cities list, Tokyo continues to thrill with its contradictions: ultra-modern, neon skyscrapers and tranquil temples, unmatchable street style and centuries-old etiquette. As we've said before, it's like a fever dream you don't want to wake up from. This Japanese capital has more Michelin stars than any other place on earth, and is—no surprise—one of the world’s best food destinations. For just a taste of what the city can offer, pull up a stool and dig deep into a bowl of inventive ramen at Kikanbo, or sample rare Japanese whiskey at Bar Ben Fiddich. Or simply let us plan your first trip for you.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

The Southeast Asian country is keen to welcome back international travelers, including Globe Aware volunteers, after nearly 18 months of strict entry policies. Reducing the quarantine and adding tests would also be required and those without vaccination proof would be isolated for 10 days if arriving by air.


Covid Travel Update: Thailand Keen to Reduce Quarantine Period For International Travellers

Thailand is keen to welcome back foreign visitors, after nearly 18 months of strict entry policies, due to Covid-19, that caused a collapse in tourism.

September 24, 2021 
Nivedita REmail

International Travel News: Here is a piece of great news for international travellers! As countries have started to open their borders for foreign visitors, Thailand’s disease control committee has recently proposed halving of a two-week hotel isolation requirement for vaccinated arrivals, amid delays in plans to waive quarantine and reopen Bangkok and tourist destinations from next month.Also Read - UK Further Relaxes Travel Guidelines, Allows Cheaper COVID Tests For Fully Vaccinated Tourists Including From India

The Southeast Asian country is keen to welcome back international travellers, after nearly 18 months of strict entry policies caused a collapse in tourism, a key sector that drew 40 million visitors in 2019. Also Read - International Flights: US to Allow Fully Vaccinated Foreign Passengers From THIS Date

thailand

“Reducing the quarantine is not only about tourism, but will help business travel and foreign students,” senior health official Opas Karnkawinpong told a news conference, adding tests would also be required. Also Read - 2021 Covid Outbreak in Delhi Shows Herd Immunity Against Delta Variant Difficult: Study

Under the proposal, to be presented to government on Monday, those without vaccination proof would be isolated for 10 days if arriving by air, and 14 days if by land.

Only Phuket and Samui islands currently waive quarantine for vaccinated tourists, as part of a pilot scheme, according to Reuters report.

Less than a quarter of the estimated 72 million people living in Thailand have been fully inoculated.

Thailand, one of the most preferred tourist destinations in the world, is still fighting its most severe wave of coronavirus infections, which has accounted for about 99% of its 1.5 million cases and 15,884 deaths.

Additional Info

  • Source Nivedita REmail

Globe Aware volunteers can soon start planning their volunteer vacations in India and Vietnam. India will begin granting tourist visas for the first time in 18 months and Vietnam plans to reopen tourist destinations from December to vaccinated visitors from countries deemed "low risk."


 

Travel news: India, Bali and Vietnam announce opening plans

Maureen O'Hare
CNN
October 9, 2021

(CNN) — This was a pretty good week for the world's wannabe jetsetters. The UK and Israel both cleared out their travel "red lists," while India, Bali and Vietnam all announced reopening plans.

Here are 10 things we learned in pandemic travel this week.

1. The UK cut its 'red list' to just seven countries...

The UK introduced a new system for international travel, relaxing testing requirements for many fully vaccinated travelers and designating destinations either "red" or "green."

From October 11, England is set to remove 47 countries from its red list, leaving only seven red destinations: Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

The rules vary in the rest of the UK (that's Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.) Here's the CNN Travel lowdown on what travelers need to know.

2. ...But there was anger over its quarantine rules

There were accusations of discrimination at the start of October when the UK relaxed its inbound travel rules but fully vaccinated visitors from India and many African countries still faced mandatory quarantine in the UK.

The UK has now changed its restrictions so that from October 11, vaccine certificates will be accepted from close to 40 countries that were previously ineligible, including India, Brazil, Chile, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya.

The UK's recognized vaccines are Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), or formulations of these.

portugal

3. The CDC lowered the risk category for France, Portugal and South Africa

There was good news for Argentina, France, Iceland, Lesotho, Morocco, Nepal, Portugal and South Africa, and for Americans keen to travel there.

All eight were moved from Level 4 -- the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s highest risk category -- down to Level 3 (which is still "High," FYI). This means the US travel advisory is to be fully vaccinated before traveling there, and to avoid nonessential travel if you're unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, six destinations have moved from Level 3 to Level 4 ("Very High") which means nonessential travel should be avoided by US citizens.

Those destinations are Armenia, Austria, Barbados, Croatia, Latvia and New Caledonia.

4. India will start letting tourists in this month...

India will begin granting tourist visas for foreign visitors for the first time in 18 months, the country's government announced Thursday.

Tourists arriving by chartered flight will be able to do so from October 15, according to a press release from India's Ministry of Home Affairs. Other arrivals will be permitted from November 15, it said.

5. ...And Bali will gradually reopen too

The Indonesian island of Bali will reopen its airport to international arrivals on October 14, officials have announced.

Bali Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar will begin welcoming arrivals from a select number of countries, according to Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, Indonesia's minister of maritime affairs and investment.

However, he didn't clarify whether foreign tourists would be permitted. Here's what we know so far.

6. Vietnam plans to fully reopen by June 2022

Vietnam plans to reopen key tourist destinations from December to vaccinated visitors from countries deemed "low risk," Reuters reports, ahead of a full reopening targeted for June 2022.

The country announced in September that it would reopen the popular resort island of Phu Quoc to vaccinated foreign tourists this month, but that reopening has been postponed until November.

Vietnam still has a way to go when it comes it vaccinating its population: Just over 13% are fully vaccinated, making it one of the lowest rates in Asia.

7. Soon New Zealand will only let foreign nationals enter if they're vaccinated

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces the country is moving from eliminating Covid-19, amid a persistent outbreak of the Delta variant, and will instead transition to a strategy of 'living with the virus.'

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced in press conferences this week that the country is transitioning away from its Covid-19 elimination strategy and will start using vaccine certificates as early as next month.

From November 1, all foreign nationals entering New Zealand will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Air New Zealand, the country's flag carrier airline, has also announced that passengers on its international flights will need to be fully vaccinated from February 2022. Get the full details in our Covid travel guide to New Zealand.

8. Canada has issued a vaccine mandate for trains and planes

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a nationwide Covid-19 vaccine mandate for rail and air travelers aged 12 and over, as well as for staff.

The mandate will start to be enforced by the end of October, with a short month-long grace period in which negative Covid-19 tests will be accepted. (More details here).

Over in South Asia, from the start of this month Pakistan has been requiring all air passengers aged 17 and over to be fully vaccinated.

9. Israel now lets its citizens travel anywhere

Venturing into the fairy chimneys begins a journey of discovery in this unusual place.

Israel has emptied out its "red" travel list, meaning Israeli citizens and residents can now travel anywhere in the world.

Until October 4, Israelis were still barred from traveling to Turkey, Bulgaria and Brazil because of high Covid rates.

Under current guidelines, travelers returning to Israel who have been vaccinated three times, or twice within the past six months, are only required to quarantine for 24 hours, or upon receipt of a negative PCR test -- whichever comes sooner.

Unvaccinated individuals or those whose second dose was more than six months ago are still required to quarantine for a full week or receive two negative PCR tests.

The Israel Ministry of Tourism has also announced that it's working on plans to allow individual vaccinated tourists to visit the country from November. Currently it's only open to small groups of tourists or individuals visiting family members.

10. The airline industry is set to lose nearly $52 billion in 2021

Airlines will lose $51.8 billion in 2021, more than previously forecast, according to an updated outlook from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Net losses for 2020 were also revised higher, to $137.7 billion. More woes are expected next year too -- a $11.6 billion dollar loss is projected. The group expects the industry to return to profitability in 2023, IATA Director General Willie Walsh said October 4 at the group's annual meeting in Boston.

The other big news out of Boston is that the global group of 290 airlines agreed to a resolution committing them to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

CNN's Melissa Alonso, Pamela Boykoff, Matt Friedman, Hadas Gold, Swati Gupta, Marnie Hunter, Masrur Jamaluddin, Lilit Marcus, Francesca Street and Nimi Princewill contributed to this report.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 13:40

TODAY SHOW: Places to Reinvent Yourself

Additional Info

  • Source NBC Today Show

Globe Aware volunteers flying within the United States may soon need to prove they're likely COVID-free if a proposed bill becomes law. This is in hopes of reducing a potential surge this coming winter.


 

Domestic flyers may need to show proof of vaccination if Senate bill passes

BAILEY SCHULZ AND DAWN GILBERTSON
USA TODAY
September 30, 2021

Domestic flyers within the United States may soon need to prove they're likely COVID-free if a proposed bill Wednesday becomes law.

The U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act, introduced by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, would require all U.S. passengers to be fully vaccinated, fully recovered or test negative for the coronavirus before boarding a domestic flight.

"We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating COVID-19 surge," Feinstein said in a Wednesday news release. "We simply cannot allow that to happen again."

vaccination 6576827 1920

While testing and or showing proof of vaccination is common for international air travel, domestic U.S. air passengers do not go through the same level of scrutiny.

The bill builds upon the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's current air travel requirement, which has passengers traveling to the U.S. from a foreign country show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or proof of recovery from COVID-19.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Public Health Association support the additional requirements for domestic air travel, according to the release.

"Vaccination is a critical strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and vaccination requirements in multiple settings are an important mechanism to boost vaccination rates, prevent infections and hospitalizations and save lives," Barbara Alexander, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and professor of medicine and pathology at Duke University School of Medicine, said in the release.

Various health experts have expressed support for vaccine mandates on flights. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser and the nation's top infectious disease expert, said in an interview with The Skimm in September that passengers should also be subject to a vaccine mandate in order to fly.

When asked about travel restrictions in a COVID-19 briefing in September, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response team coordinator, said nothing is off the table. He pointed to the government's move to double the fines for passengers who refuse to follow the federal mask mandate on planes and other public transportation.

But airlines say vaccine mandates could pose logistical issues, with airlines tasked with figuring out the vaccination status for millions of passengers. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said it would "bottleneck the domestic travel system" in an interview with "CBS This Morning" in late August.

The U.S. Travel Association, which promotes travel to the United States, released a statement against vaccine mandates for domestic flights on Sept. 13.

"U.S. Travel has long maintained that there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel," Tori Emerson Barnes, the group's executive president said in a statement. "Such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine."

The bill would also let the Secretary of Health and Human Services develop national COVID-19 vaccination standards and procedures for domestic air travel to prevent future outbreaks and have the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices make recommendations for vaccine use in health care settings.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz.

Additional Info

  • Source USAToday

Globe Aware volunteers can be excited to learn that Machu Picchu has become the first international destination to obtain the carbon neutral certificate. This means the historical site is an environmentally friendly tourism spot.


 

Machu Picchu is now the world's first carbon neutral tourist destination!

TIMESOFINDIA.COM
|TRAVEL NEWS, PERU
Sep 30, 2021

Machu Picchu has become the first international destination to obtain the carbon neutral certificate. The certification was awarded to the Historic and Natural Sanctuary of Machu Picchu by the Green Initiative, which is an institution that seeks to promote green and environmentally friendly tourism. The Green Initiative positioned Machu Picchu as a global reference in terms of sustainability.

machu picchu 1631989 1920

As per the certification, it seeks to drastically reduce carbon dioxide emissions of the Inca citadel, with the intention of reducing 45 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2030 and reaching neutrality in 2050.

To achieve this certification, this popular tourist hotspot adopted several methods. Among all the other actions, Machu Picchu got the certification for installing the only organic waste treatment plant that exists in Peru, to transform garbage into natural coal as well as for having the transformation plant of oil that produces biodiesel and glycerin from vegetable oils, discarded from homes and restaurants in the area.

Apart from this, a reforestation process, led by the National Service of Protected Natural Areas (SERNANP), of one million trees in the spot will be in place to help mitigate climate change.

Another method to compensate for the impact of these emissions will be to purchase carbon credits, which incentivise entities to find solutions to reduce their emissions, thereby reducing the number of credits purchased over time. As per the reports, this mechanism will be overseen by the UN’s Climate Change model.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India
Thursday, 23 September 2021 16:43

Rising Stars: Meet Kimberly Haley-Coleman

SEPTEMBER 23, 2021
VoyageDallas

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimberly Haley-Coleman.

Hi Kimberly, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?

My career has been circuitous, to say the least! From training on-air CNBC staff in financial tools, putting dead people into space with Space Services, working at museums and start-ups! But I found my true calling when I founded Globe Aware a couple of decades ago, organizing experiences that allowed people to have fun helping people. These short-term experiences in 26 countries are designed to give back, show participants a side of the culture they are visiting in a way they never would, but also to make a huge social impact in a short amount of time. Prior to Globe Aware, such experiences were primarily the domain of high school and college students or of churches or meant a 2.5 years Peace Corps commitment. Since then, the organization has grown in ways we could never have anticipated. For example, now corporations send their staff through us, using contribution matching, paid Volunteer Days Off, allowing tax deductions for portions the staff member pays for, etc. BUT THEN the pandemic. Borders closed, travel safety called into question, the world stopped, and I decided to temporarily pivot. And THAT is what led to my creating The Tickle Bar, America’s newest and most unique affordable luxury.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

As conditions around covid 19 have rolled up and down, so too have both my businesses. We have instituted new protocols and have had to keep up with changing requirements. We are doing things we never anticipated. The border situation and pandemic safety conditions change frequently, and we have been lucky to flourish in an uncertain market. Having rapid covid tests administered at our program locations prior to participants returning to the US or transferring program locations from one country to the next, it has NOT been a smooth road, but it has been enormously interesting and gratifying. It is such a privilege that I get to run businesses that provide joy to people at a time when people especially need it.

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Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?

As the mother of two teenagers going to the same high school, I did back when I lived in Lakewood, I feel lucky that my daughters get to bear witness to a business person learning how to adapt quickly to changing conditions. This generation, despite the setbacks and struggles, will be stronger than previous generations because of this. When the President declared the Travel Emergency in March of 2020, we did not wait to react. We had closed our Asia programs in January, then immediately started finding creative ways to cut costs. I went unpaid for quite a while, we applied for and received PPP rounds of funding, we created virtual programing to bring services to folks the world over as an alternative to our core businesses, and then we figured out how to fill a niche that people suddenly urgently needed. After months of severely limited human interaction, we created an affordable business to get safe, human, healing, nurturing touch. As a parent, as strange as it sounds, I am glad this all happened while they were still under my wing.

What makes you happy?

Like most people, my greatest source of joy is service. That can be providing the specialty homemade vegan dinners my eldest likes or planning and building a school in Laos. How could anything else compare to that? I think it’s a given, universal thing for which we all yearn.

Pricing:

  • Globe Aware programs run from $1000 t0 $1600 per week
  • Tickle Bar sessions (think of light back tracing your mom did on your back when you were growing up) from $25 and up

Contact Info:

Additional Info

  • Source VoyageDallas

After being battered by the pandemic, South Africa is slowly loosening its restrictions, the country is also considering a vaccine passport. Those interested in our South Africa volunteer vacation, can begin planning for 2022.


Chile, Fiji and South Africa are ready for travelers to come back

Maureen O'Hare
CNN
September 18, 2021

(CNN) — There have been mixed fortunes for the world's island communities this week, as some have restricted entry due to Covid surges while others are making plans for reopening.

Here's our latest roundup of the biggest news in pandemic travel.

1. More island getaways have been added to the US 'do not travel' list

The popular island destinations of Grenada and Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean have been added to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s "very high" Covid-19 travel risk list.

This means that US citizens are advised to avoid travel there, and to only do so if they're fully vaccinated.

This highest-category risk list is now brimming with some of the world's most-loved tourist destinations, including France, Spain, Turkey, Thailand and the UK.

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2. Lithuania will pay to extend your stay

If Lithuania has been on your to-visit list, you're in luck: the Baltic nation is giving out more than 10,000 free hotel stays to travelers visiting this fall.

Independent travelers can sign up online for the "Lithuania. Take your time" program, which will provide a free third night's accommodation after booking two.

That means that the expanses of Trakai Historical National Park and the UNESCO-recognized old city of Vilnius are now easier to visit than ever. The promotion runs until November 8.

Two people on bicycles drive through an empty street in the Old Town of Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 29, 2020

Vilnius' well-preserved old city is home to Medieval buildings.

3. Miami has a team of Covid-sniffing dogs

Good boy and girl alert! Two dogs, Cobra and One Betta, can literally sniff out the coronavirus.

The two pups started working at Miami International Airport (MIA) this week and are tasked with sniffing the face masks of all airport employees when they arrive at work. Both dogs have an accuracy rate of more than 98%.

Miami is the first airport in the U.S. to have trained covid-sniffing dogs, but similar pup programs exist in Finland and the United Arab Emirates.

4. Australia is testing out vaccine passports ...

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that travel can restart once the country hits the mark of 80% of the population being fully vaccinated.

While Aussies are getting excited and dreaming of foreign getaways, the government is working out exactly what the reopening could look like. First step: a vaccine "passport" in the form of a QR code.

5. ... while the UK is divided on the matter

Although the government floated a proposal that would require "vaccine passports" to enter nightclubs, movie theaters and other public places in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to shelve the plan as well as the mandatory mask wearing regulations.

Instead, his administration will continue to push vaccinations, with booster shots encouraged for front-line health care workers, people over 50 and other at-risk groups.

However, there will be one exception to this: Scotland. The Scottish government has voted to enact a measure where people attending large events will have to show proof of vaccination in order to get in. It goes into effect on October 1.

So, like the Meryl Streep and Steve Martin movie, it's complicated.

6. England green lights the scrapping of traffic lights

Staying with the UK, where months of headscratching over complicated "traffic light" travel restrictions have contributed to the demise of a once world-leading tourism industry, things are about to get a whole lot simpler.

As of October 4, arrivals in England will no longer be governed by constantly changing red-amber-green lists of which countries are deemed safe. Instead there will just be a red no-go list, beyond which everywhere is open.

Stringent PCR testing requirements are also being eased for vaccinated travelers, meaning that journeys to and from the UK are now a lot cheaper as well as easier.

7. Chile is ready to greet guests again

The South American nation of Chile will welcome international travelers starting October 1.

Visitors must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding, travel medical insurance with a minimum coverage of $30,000, register on the national C19 website and get a "mobility pass," Chile's version of a vaccine passport where you can upload your information.

All visitors who get the mobility pass have to isolate for five days upon arrival in the country, while those who are unvaccinated or don't get the pass will have to isolate for seven.

But let's get to the fun stuff. Travelers to Chile can enjoy the colorful street art of Valparaiso, the beauty of the world's driest place (the Atacama desert) and the country's newest UNESCO site, the mummies of Chinchorro.

8. Jamaica wants to vaccinate all its tourism employees

What's one way to make tourists feel at ease when they come to stay at hotels and dine at restaurants? Jamaica is hoping that getting 100% of its hospitality workers fully vaccinated will do the trick.

The Tourism Vaccination Task Force's ambitious goal is to vaccinate the 170,000 Jamaicans who work across all sectors of the industry, from airport ground staff to tour operators to craft market vendors.

9. More beautiful islands are re-opening their doors

Fiji has announced that it will begin reopening to tourists from around the world when it hits an 80% vaccination rate, which means either November or December of 2021. (Either way, it's not too early to start planning New Year's Eve in the South Pacific).

Also reopening is Montserrat, the underrated Caribbean island and overseas British territory. To get there, you'll need to fly to a neighboring island like Antigua or Guadeloupe and catch a ferry or a short commuter flight.

Bonus: if you fall in love with it, Montserrat is offering a remote-worker program amid the pandemic.

The Langkawi islands in Malaysia started a gradual reopening on September 16. For now, these scenic islands will only be open to domestic tourists, but keep your fingers crossed, because this is a dry run for eventually allowing international travelers to join them.

10. New York City vaccine passport rules have kicked in

The Big Apple's "Key to NYC" vaccine passport program is now in effect.

CNN's Eric Levenson explains the logistics: "Businesses are now required to check the vaccination status of all staff and customers 12 and older, or they will be subject to fines. Residents can show proof of vaccination in the form of a CDC vaccination card, NYC vaccination record, the New York state Excelsior Pass or the NYC Covid Safe App."

One sweetener for travelers is the opportunity to visit Summit One Vanderbilt, New York's latest observation deck, which opens on October 21.

The Midtown attraction has an all-glass elevator that soars 1,200 feet over the city and an immersive art installation entitled "Air."

11. South African Airways returning this month

After being battered by the pandemic, South Africa is slowly loosening its restrictions.

Gathering sizes can increase from 250 to 500, and the national curfew has moved from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

The country is considering a vaccine passport, but the move strikes many as too similar to the old apartheid-era passes that Black South Africans were forced to carry.

Meanwhile, national carrier South African Airways will resume flights on September 23 after a 16-month shutdown.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

Globe Aware volunteers who want a digital option of always whipping out their vaccine card, can choose from plenty of apps. Here's a breakdown of which one is right for you.


 

Which Vaccine Passport App Should I Use?

For those who want a digital option instead of always whipping out their vaccine card, there are plenty to choose from.

BY SHANNON MCMAHON
September 2, 2021

Planning travel abroad might have you wondering what kind of vaccine passport app you’ll need to download on your phone to confirm your vaccination or proof of a negative test upon entry. But with the highly contagious Delta variant causing a rise in cases in the U.S., you don’t need to leave the country anymore to run into coronavirus vaccination requirements.

While you might have first heard of coronavirus vaccination apps for international travel, like the European Union’s Green Pass or airline-favorite VeriFly, the United States has not designated any one technological standard for proof of vaccination. It’s up to states (and often individual businesses, like performance venues) to decide if they’ll require proof of vaccination, and which digital service they might employ to avoid counterfeit vaccination cards and streamline the process. Since New York City, San Francisco, and the State of Hawaii have begun requiring proof of vaccination to participate in activities like indoor dining, several digital vaccine passport apps are becoming more popular for travel and entertainment. From government-created options to private technology creating their own health passes, here are several vaccine apps travelers are likely to encounter.

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Apps that simply store your vaccine card: Clear, VaxYes, and Airside

While many destinations and businesses are accepting Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vaccination cards as proof of vaccination, it can be unnerving to walk around with your original coronavirus vaccine certificate. While some places may accept a smartphone photo of your white CDC card, it’s far from a reliable approach: Enter the vaccine card app, which allows you to upload proof of vaccination and a form of identification to create a vaccine-status QR code. This allows you to give businesses only the information they need from you—your vaccine status, and none of your other sensitive personal information—and provides peace of mind that you won’t lose your vaccine card.

Perhaps the most familiar app to travelers that will digitize your vaccine card is Clear, the biometric service that existed pre-pandemic as a way to skip identity screening lines at airport security (and is often paired with TSA Precheck, a separate service, to breeze through security). Amid the pandemic Clear saw an opportunity to create a secure COVID-19 vaccine passport, called Clear Health Pass: The service, which lives in the free Clear app, requires users to upload (via smartphone camera) a photo ID, your CDC-issued vaccination card, and a selfie, as well as answer some questions about when and where you were vaccinated. Similar services include Airside and VaxYes, however Clear is widely considered more secure for its photo ID requirement; the city of San Francisco, for example, requires businesses to crosscheck a photo ID against apps like Airside and VaxYes’s level-one version, but does not require this for Clear.

State-designated health passes: Excelsior, Hawaii Safe Travels

While the U.S. did not designate any one proof-of-vaccine app for optional use, some U.S. states have. New York State became the nation’s first state to do so this spring with its Excelsior Pass; the app, which is for those vaccinated in New York State, cross checks state vaccine records to verify a vaccine card. An app called NYC COVID Safe is also permitted in New York City for those who were vaccinated outside of the state (although it does not cross-check out-of-state vaccination records, and for that reason functions more similarly to Clear, VaxYes, and Airside).

The state of Hawaii’s Safe Travels Program functions similarly to the NYC COVID Safe app by requiring visitors to upload their CDC card, although the program is a website login portal and not an app; it still requires visitors to have their original vaccination card on them. The state has also designated Clear as acceptable supplemental proof of vaccination (again, in addition to your original CDC card) that travelers can link to the Safe Travels program to speed up their verification on arrival.

International health-record apps: CommonPass, VeriFly

There are also some multi-use coronavirus record apps out there that can serve as proof of both vaccination and test results to satisfy entry requirements in other countries. CommonPass and VeriFly, which started as apps offering coronavirus test results for travel, both now serve as proof of vaccination for certain airlines. American Airlines, Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, and Japan Airlines use VeriFly, which was created by biometrics company Daon, where testing and proof of vaccination are required. United, Hawaiian Airlines, Lufthansa, and JetBlue use CommonPass—an app developed by the nonprofit Commons Project and the World Economic Forum.

Foreign national health passes

Outside the U.S., many nations have opted for a single national health pass to avoid this patchwork of apps and services, and to standardize digital proof of vaccination. Canada’s migration app, for example, is ArriveCAN; France’s Pass Sanitaire ("health pass") app is required of all French who want to dine indoors, and is an option for Americans who get a health provider like a pharmacist to enter their CDC vaccine card into the French national system; Germany has tapped private app CovPass for digital proof of vaccination among its residents. There is also Europe's broader Green Health Pass, which is for use by Europeans but officials have said will become available to foreign travelers with approved vaccinations.

All nations have differing requirements and exceptions for these apps, however, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the system before planning any travel abroad, and to always carry your original vaccine card on you, somewhere secure. The benefit of having a digital vaccine pass to back it up is that you won’t always have to have it on you, the same way we travel with our actual passport, but typically avoid toting one around on the ground so we don’t lose it.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler
Tuesday, 14 September 2021 10:56

What it's like to sail on a 'cruise to nowhere'

While traveling abroad is returning for Globe Aware volunteers, movement in and out of Hong Kong -- once Asia's biggest international hub -- remains at a near-total halt. Dream Cruises has come up with a fitting alternative vacation option -- a voyage with no destination, taking passengers from and to Hong Kong by sailing in a big loop. Would you try this if you couldn't travel?


What it's like to sail on a 'cruise to nowhere'

Tara Mulholland
September 12, 2021
CNN

A "cruise to nowhere" feels like a fitting metaphor for Covid-era Hong Kong.

As with the city's previous failed attempts to re-establish international travel, it offers a facsimile of forward movement that ends up taking you right back to where you started.

While the possibility of traveling abroad is slowly returning to the US and Europe, movement in and out of Hong Kong -- once Asia's biggest international hub -- remains at a near-total halt.

hong kong

As the semi-autonomous region pursues a zero-Covid policy, repeated attempts to establish travel corridors with neighboring countries have been abandoned, and most incoming travelers face up to three weeks of self-funded hotel quarantine. Before the pandemic, Hong Kongers were among the world's most well-traveled people; now, many would-be holidaymakers favor staycations, as their passports gather dust at home.

Dream Cruises has come up with a fitting alternative vacation option -- a voyage with no destination, taking passengers from and to Hong Kong by sailing in a big loop. Journeys last for either two or three nights, with cheaper sailing options midweek, and rooms range from a HK$1,688 balcony cabin (about $217 US) to a HK$23,838 suite (about $3,065 US) with access to a private deck and pool. Cruising may not be for everyone, but at a time when any other option would require quarantine, it seems a lot more attractive.

Boarding the Genting Dream -- a 335-meter-long vessel (almost 1,100 feet) that can normally hold more than 3,000 people -- was reminiscent of getting back on a plane, but with the additional health measures of much other travel in 2021. Ticket sales are capped at half-capacity; inside the cavernous Kai Tak cruise terminal, passengers were almost outnumbered by staff checking and re-checking travel documents and medical forms.

Life on board

While the cruise industry hasn't necessarily had the best coronavirus track record, safety precautions on the Genting Dream ship are strict. All passengers must be fully vaccinated and produce a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure, as well as undergoing pre-boarding checks and health declarations. And everyone on board gets a tracking device (cutely named Tracey) to monitor their whereabouts in the event of an infection.

But that formality subsided when embarking passengers were greeted by bubbly staff handing out balloon animals and posing for selfies.

Face masks were mandatory in public spaces, as they are in the rest of Hong Kong; but aside from that, guests cheerfully disregarded suggested social distancing measures while milling around by the swimming pool and exploring the labyrinthine corridors of the 18 decks, as dusk fell and the ship glided slowly out of Victoria Harbor.

I traveled with three friends, sharing two of the cheapest available cabins -- fairly spacious twin rooms with pull-out sofas, comfortable beds, an en suite shower and bathroom, and a private balcony overlooking the sea. At around 20 square meters, they weren't that much smaller than a lot of hotel rooms on dry land, and felt much more secluded, with the only noise being the sound of the waves outside.

For a vessel that's usually a vehicle to a different destination, rather than being the destination itself, the Genting Dream did a decent job of offering enough activities to keep its temporary residents -- mostly older adults, with a few families and children -- occupied throughout the cruise.

Booking for pool access was only casually enforced, and while the hot tubs were closed, sun loungers and sofas by the deck bars were freely available. For the more adventurous on board, there was a basketball court, a mini-golf course, a play area with activities for children and an arcade for teenagers, lethally fast water slides twisting down to the main deck, and a hair-raising ropes course with a zip wire jutting out over the open sea. But the most packed attraction was the below-deck casino, which offered slot machines, blackjack, giant bingo, and cabaret singers crooning love songs in Mandarin and Cantonese.

Not all of these facilities were open throughout the cruise -- but staff were attentive, helpful and pleasant, ready to open a closed-off rock climbing wall or pour drinks at one of the many bars that sat empty as guests packed out the dining rooms.

Decompression

Two buffet-style restaurants were included in the ticket price, serving a mix of Asian and Western dishes. While paid-for restaurants were available, most people on board got their money's worth by piling their school dinner-style trays high with a mishmash of meals. Attempts at creating a party atmosphere were enthusiastic, but fruitless -- inside the ship's sole club, a DJ playing early '00s hip-hop gamely pumped dry ice onto an empty dance floor, while passengers had more fun at the adjoining neon bowling alley.

Broadly, the cruise atmosphere was one of decompression, and relief at experiencing something -- anything -- a bit different from regular life, where maintaining relative normality inside Hong Kong's borders has come at the expense of being able to easily move outside them.

Coming from one of the most densely populated cities in the world, it was oddly freeing to look out over the open water and see nothing but distant container ships, or watch the sun set below a skyscraper-free horizon. With no phone signal, and no particular need to do anything beyond sit on a balcony and stare at the stars, it was tempting to lean into the comfort of this sealed-off idyll. Far away beyond the skyline was disease, stress and uncertainty; on this unusual cruise, drinks flowed, people had fun, and life was good in a brief bubble of normality, floating in the endless blue of the South China Sea.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

In a big COVID travel update, Bangkok has announced it will reopen completely for fully vaccinated travelers from October 1. Thailand has been meaning to restart tourism for a long time and now, with Globe Aware volunteers getting vaccinations, there is hope in visiting the beautiful country soon!


 

Fully vaccinated travellers can visit Bangkok from October 1

TIMES OF INDIA
Sep 12, 2021

In a big COVID travel update, Bangkok has announced it will reopen completely for fully vaccinated travellers from October 1. Thailand has been meaning to restart tourism for a long time now but given the rise in infection cases, the plan couldn’t take shape. But now, with people getting vaccinations, it has given hope to the world of tourism once again.

Before the world was hit by the pandemic, tourism took the fifth spot in Thailand's national income. But today, because of COVID, tourism has been the economy's weakest link in over 20 years. But now, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has announced that from October 1, international travellers who have taken both the vaccine shots will be able to visit Bangkok along with four other provinces. Also, if you are fully vaccinated, you won’t have to undergo 14-days hotel quarantine rule.

bangkok

Also, the country has introduced a sandbox theme under which tourists need to stay at one place for a week after arriving in the country and take COVID tests. The initiative is expected to be available in five regions, including Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan provinces. According to the officials, by October 21 other important tourist destinations will also be added to the list including Chiang Rai, Sukhothai and Rayong.

As per government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, under the sandbox scheme, more than 29000 fully vaccinated overseas visitors were recorded in Phuket which generated nearly $50 million in revenue.

However, the third wave in the country is not yet fully over, so the tourism agency has warned that the plans could change in future. Apparently, when the world was struggling with the deadly virus in 2020, Thailand was mildly affected and recorded low numbers. But the Delta variant took the country by storm and Thailand recorded more than 1.3 million cases, and nearly 14000 deaths.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

US officials have expressed optimism that Covid-19 booster shot delivery can start for all adults on 20 September. Globe Aware vaccinated volunteers are recommended to get the booster when available for future travel safety.


 

US officials optimistic Covid booster rollout will start on 20 September

But they insist shots won’t be rolled out without health agencies’ authorization, leaving open possibility of delays

Victoria Bekiempis
Sun 5 Sep 2021 17.11 BST

US officials have expressed optimism that Covid-19 booster shot delivery can start for all adults on 20 September, the goal set by President Joe Biden, as cases continue to rage across the country fueled by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

The officials insist, however, that boosters will not be rolled out without US health agencies’ authorization, leaving open the possibility of delays.

Dr Anthony Fauci, ​​head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to Biden, was asked Sunday on CBS’s Face The Nation whether the 20 September goal remained the planned rollout date.

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“In some respects, it is. We were hoping that we would get both the candidates, both products, Moderna and Pfizer, rolled out by the week of the 20th. It is conceivable that we will only have one of them out, but the other one will follow soon thereafter,” Fauci said. Pfizer has submitted its data, making it likely to meet this goal, Fauci said; Moderna announced that it has started submitting data.

“The bottom line is, very likely at least part of the plan will be implemented, but ultimately the entire plan will be.”

“We’re not going to do anything unless it gets the appropriate FDA regulatory approval, and then the recommendation from the [CDC] advisory committee,” Fauci also said, explaining that he expects any possible delay with Moderna would be “at most” a few weeks.

As almost all Covid-19 infections in the US are caused by the Delta variant, officials hope boosters will clamp down on its rapid spread. Covid-19 vaccines do provide incredibly strong protection against illness, hospitalization, and death against Delta, but breakthrough infections are reportedly rising with this variant.

At present, 53% of the US population is fully vaccinated, and 62% have received at least one dose.

Covid-19 cases have increased 6% in the past week on 4 September, and there has been a 22% increase in deaths over that same period. The seven-day average for cases and deaths over this same period is 163,716 and 1,550, respectively.

The US continues to lead the world in Covid-19 cases and deaths, at 39,908,072 confirmed infections and 648,121 known fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Nearly 95% of US counties have “high” community transmission, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Fauci’s statements come amid questions on Biden’s plans for distributing Covid-19 booster shots. Leaders of the CDC and FDA have implored Biden to reconsider his plan to start offering boosters on 20 September, saying they needed more data, NPR reported.

White House chief of staff Ron Klain echoed Fauci’s statements Sunday on CNN’s State of The Union, saying that 20 September was a projection, not a hard-and-fast date. Klain said that Biden’s discussion of booster implementation had always depended on FDA and CDC authorization.

“I think what we said was that we would be ready as of the 20th,” Klain said. “I would be absolutely clear, no one’s going to get boosters until the FDA says they’re approved, until the CDC advisory committee makes a recommendation.”

“What we want to do though is be ready as soon as that comes.”

Klain also said that the recipients would be determined by FDA and CDC’s scientific guidance.

As discussion of booster rollout continues, public health officials and experts have recently expressed concern that Labor Day holiday travel this weekend could worsen the ongoing surge.

“As we head into Labor Day, we should all be concerned about history repeating itself. High or intense transmission around most of the country combined with population mobility with limited masking and social distancing has been a consistent predictor of major surges,” Dr John Brownstein, a Boston Children’s Hospital epidemiologist, told ABC News.

Data show that holidays can spur dramatic Covid-19 transmission throughout the country. In the weeks preceding Labor Day 2020, average US daily cases dropped to about 38,000. There was a 400 percent increase in daily US cases between Labor Day weekend and Thanksgiving of 2020, however, resulting in record high deaths and hospitalizations, ABC News said.

Dr Rochelle Walensky, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) director, said Tuesday during the White House Covid-19 briefing: “First and foremost, if you are unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling.”

“Throughout the pandemic, we have seen that the vast majority of transmission takes place among unvaccinated people in closed, indoor settings,” Walensky also said.

Jeff Zients, White House Covid-19 response coordinator, similarly commented during this briefing: “We need more individuals to step up, as people across the country prepare for Labor Day weekend. It’s critical that being vaccinated is part of their pre-holiday checklist.”

Additional Info

  • Source The Guardian

There's something extra special about traveling during the fall for our Globe Aware volunteers. South Africa and Mexico are two of those travel destinations, whether you're making plans for this fall or fall 2022!


 

The Best Places to Travel in October

Where to go for harvest festivals and Halloween fun.

BY CAITLIN MORTON
August 17, 2021

Alamy

As much as we love beach lounging in summer and exploring snowy wonderlands in winter, there's something extra special about traveling during the fall. Aside from fewer tourists and lower prices, October brings harvest festivals, Halloween parties, and the best foliage of the year. (And those warm beaches are still open, if you're willing to fly for them.) Whether you're looking to view some spectacular fall foliage or escape to the warm Caribbean this year, these are 10 of the best places to travel in October.

Note: Due to the Delta variant of coronavirus, it's a good idea to consider extra precautions if traveling this fall. We recommend investing in “cancel for any reason” travel insurance and only booking changeable flights and accommodations. It's also crucial to obtain medical insurance that will cover you abroad, and to research different countries' case and vaccination rates when choosing your destination.

Salem, Massachusetts

It’s Halloween this month, so where better to book a trip than America’s unofficial witching capital? Snag a room at The Hotel Salem or The Merchant (they’re both owned by Lark Hotels, famed for its funky makeovers of countless New England inns) and then make your way into town. Salem celebrates its connection to the occult all month with a program of events, including horror film festivals, séances, and a fair with psychics on hand to read your future. (See complete calendar here.) During the festivities, it’s worth pausing to consider the history of Salem’s witch trials at the 1692 Salem Witch Museum. The museum recreates the trials using actual documents as the basis for its life-size stage sets, and hosts an exploration of witchcraft in all its forms through the ages.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is one of the best places to travel in October, as the month signals the height of springtime in the southern hemisphere. That means you can plan on tons of outdoor activities, from walking among spring blooms in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden to touring vineyards in Franschhoek. You could also spend an entire trip hopping between Cape Town’s best beaches. Camps Bay Beach is worth visiting for the views of Lion's Head and the Twelve Apostles alone, as is Windmill Beach (a 10-minute walk from Boulders Beach) for its warm water and boulders you can jump off. Stay at Readers’ Choice Awards darling Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel, 15-room Georgian-era townhouse tucked away in a residential street in Gardens (a fashionable neighborhood known for its restaurants, bars, and interior shops). The street-level luxury suites come with their own spacious sun terraces and private pools, making you feel like you’re in an incredibly beautiful private home.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Known as “the most photographed event in the world,” the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (October 2 to 10) does not disappoint, offering families and travelers the chance to get up close with hundreds of seven-story balloons ranging from cute animals to Darth Vader. You'll want to wake up before dawn to get a prime viewing spot for the Mass Ascension, when all the balloons rise together to the tune of "The Star Spangled Banner." You can crash later that night at Hotel Chaco, a sleek, contemporary property with Native American–inspired art and architecture located in the heart of Old Town. That ideal location and perfect October weather means you can explore all the museums and markets downtown without breaking a sweat.

Loreto, Mexico

We’re big fans of the Baja California Sur peninsula in Mexico, with its beautiful scenery and luxury resorts. While most tourists flock to Los Cabos, set your sights on the underrated city of Loreto. Located about 230 miles north of Cabo, the town is best known for its secluded, unspoiled setting on the Loreto Bay National Marine Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. For stress-free planning, book a stay at Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa at the Islands of Loreto, where guests can enjoy scuba diving tours, cultural city tours, whale watching excursions, kayaking, surfing, and ATV desert tours. After a day spent adventuring, head back and unwind at the 39,000-square-foot Sabila Spa or one of the resort’s five swimming pools.

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen may seem like a bit of an obvious choice (hello, mountains famously full of yellow leaves), but obvious isn’t always a bad thing. Hotel Jerome is a great place to set up camp, with a huge array of activities on tap for guests looking for an outdoor adventure—think horseback riding in the Rockies, riding a Jeep through alpine backcountry, and stand-up paddleboarding along the Colorado River. The hotel can also arrange day trips to the Maroon Bells, a pair of mountains that is one of the most photographed spots in the entire state. In fact, professionals are known to flock to the shores of Maroon Lake well before sunrise to nab that stunning fall shot.

Neuschwanstein

The Bavarian Alps, Germany

An autumn trip to southern Germany is about so much more than Oktoberfest (which has been canceled for 2021 anyway). Fall may be the best season to visit the Bavarian Alps, when the weather is perfectly cool and the mountains transform into a technicolor dreamscape. The season is prime for outdoor enthusiasts as well, with areas like Berchtesgaden and Lake Tegernsee lending themselves to some epic scenic hikes. Shutterbugs are never disappointed by the Disney-esque Neuschwanstein Castle, whose white turrets look best against a backdrop of deep reds and oranges. Spend at least a couple days tucked away in Hotel Bachmair Weissach, a modern alpine property located in the lake town of Tegernsee. With walls adorned with antlers, a cloistered courtyard, plaid carpets, and scalloped wood balconies off each of its 141 rooms, it will fulfill every romantic Bavarian fantasy you can think of.

Barbados

Barbados made headlines in 2020 when it announced its Welcome Stamp visa for sun-seeking digital nomads. Valid for 12 months, the visa allows anyone earning over a certain salary to live and work remotely temporarily. If you’re not ready to commit to a year-long visit, it’s still worth flying down here in October. Book an oceanfront villa at The Crane, one of the country’s finest resorts, and spend a few days exploring the Bajan rum circuit. Though it’s now ubiquitous across the Caribbean, rum was formally first distilled at the Mount Gay Rum headquarters in 1703. Head to its visitor center and you’ll be able to learn more of that history, as well as sample a range of great dark and white blends. Then head to Bathsheba Beach on the east coast—one of the best stretches of sand in the world—where you'll find big, surf-able waves and shallow pools carved by the coral reef right off the shore.

Asheville, North Carolina

Don't discount the South when it comes to fall foliage, especially the Blue Ridge Parkway and Carolina mountains. Make Asheville your home base for exploring the parkway in both directions: to the south, drive to Pisgah National Forest, filled with waterfalls and fall foliage–covered hills on view from Looking Glass Rock, and to the north, the curving Linn Cove Viaduct hugs Grandfather Mountain, offering some of the parkway’s most iconic views. Get a dose of the funky lifestyle in downtown Asheville: sample the African-meets-Appalachian food at Benne on Eagle, browse fem theory and queer lit at Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe, and drink a Strawberry Milkshake IPA at Highland Brewing Company. Stay at Asheville's best boutique property, The Foundry Hotel, for comfortable rooms with exposed brick walls, a chic lobby bar, and a restaurants serving up modern spins on comfort food.

Santorini, Greece

More than two million people visit Santorini each year. To dodge those crowds—and to experience a more authentic side of the island—plan your trip during the off-season in ​​October and November. Visit Red Beach and take in the legendary sunsets in Oia, of course, but then search for some more under-the-radar spots. Only one in 20 travelers to Santorini goes to Akrotiri, an almost perfectly preserved ancient city and archaeological site. Visit some wineries at Vlychada, or hire a guide to take you around Akrotiri. Then get some rest at Incognito Villa, located at the end of a dirt track on the beach near Monolithos and the airport. It has its own garden and a little pool, and you can walk in either direction along the beach to a taverna. Even in the height of summer, it is amazingly quiet.

Hudson Valley, New York

If you're looking to totally lean into the cider-sipping, sweater-wearing, pumpkin-picking vibe of fall, look no further than the Hudson Valley. Aside from offering primo leaf peeping opportunities, October is the best time to go apple picking or sample some hard cider made from local produce at Angry Orchard. Alternatively, take in a movie at the Four Brothers Drive-In Theater or celebrate Halloween with the Great Jack O'Lantern Blaze in the grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor (advance reservations required). More than 7,000 pumpkins are displayed there each night, including a 25-foot-tall Statue of Liberty, all of which are carved onsite by a team of 1,000 volunteers. Look to Warren Street in the heart of town for accommodations: either at the retro Rivertown Lodge, complete with wood fire burners and bicycles to borrow, or the relatively new Maker Hotel, filled with one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture and a restaurant serving up ingredients sourced from local farms.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

The TSA extended a federal requirement that travelers wear masks on commercial flights, buses and trains through Jan. 18. The measure is the latest in decreasing the spread of Covid-19 and the delta variant.


TSA extends mask mandate for transportation through Jan. 18

AUG 17 2021
Leslie Josephs

KEY POINTS

  • The TSA said it is extending the mandate to curb the spread of Covid-19 through Jan. 18.
  • The mandate was set to expire on Sept. 14 and officials had extended it in the spring.

The Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday extended a federal requirement that travelers wear masks on commercial flights, buses and trains through Jan. 18.

The measure is the latest sign of persistent concerns within the federal government about the spread of Covid-19. Airlines including Southwest and Spirit have warned about a drop in bookings and higher cancellations, trends they blamed on the fast-spreading delta variant of the coronavirus.

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“The purpose of TSA’s mask directive is to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation,” the agency said in a statement.

The current mask rules, aimed to curb the spread of the virus, were extended this spring through Sept. 13.

Officials briefed airlines on Tuesday about the plan, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Transportation Security Administration declined to comment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t immediately comment.

The extension covers traditionally busy periods for air travel such as the Thanksgiving and December holidays.

Airline executives say most passengers comply with the mask requirements. However, the vast majority of reports of unruly travelers this year are tied to travelers who allegedly refuse to wear masks.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it has received 3,889 unruly passenger reports this year through Monday, nearly 74% of them related to violations of the mask mandate.

The Association of Flight Attendants, the labor union for about 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, said the extension “will help tremendously” to keep travelers and staff safe.

“While vaccination has been key to the increased air travel demand, the lagging vaccination rates and rise of the Delta variant has caused cases to skyrocket again - threatening lives, continued virus mutation, and recovery from this pandemic,” said AFA’s international president, Sara Nelson, said in a statement.

Additional Info

  • Source CNBC

The RTF-EXPAR test is reportedly as sensitive at detecting coronavirus as PCR tests. There are hopes the tests could be used at international airports and revolutionize testing for travelers, including Globe Aware volunteers.


 

10 minute Covid test hoped breakthrough for travel sector

Emily Hawkins

Researchers from the University of Birmingham say they have developed a quick Covid test that is just as sensitive as a PCR test. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
University of Birmingham researchers have developed a new Covid test that provides results in less than 10 minutes.

The RTF-EXPAR test is reportedly as sensitive at detecting coronavirus as PCR tests, according to the scientists behind the breakthrough.

covid test

The tests also detect low levels of the virus, which lateral flow do not despite also delivering speedy results.

There are hopes the tests could be used at international airports and revolutionise testing for holidaymakers.

“An ideal test would be one that is both sufficiently sensitive and speedy – our test, called RTF-EXPAR, achieves this goal.” Professor Tim Dafforn, one of the scientists behind the project, said.

Analysis by researchers found RTF-EXPAR’s sensitivity was equivalent to quantitative PCR testing, with a positive predictive value of 89 per cent and a negative predictive value of 93 per cent.

The university’s Surgical Research Laboratory will publish full results of its research soon while it looks for commercial partners to license the test to make it publicly available.

Additional Info

  • Source City A.M.
Thursday, 19 August 2021 11:24

Travelers frustrated by passport backlog

Americans who are set to travel in the coming months but don't have a renewed passport yet may be out of luck. Globe Aware volunteers should check their passport expiration date before booking their travel dates.


 

"I am freaking out": Passport backlog frustrates travelers

BY MEG OLIVER
CBS NEWS

Scammers forced the State Department to temporarily shut down its online bookings for urgent appointments for passports, adding to the frustration of many travelers who are already experiencing long wait times amid a huge backlog in passport applications.

Third-party actors used bots to book all available online appointments, the State Department said. Scammers then sold the appointments for as high as $3,000 to applicants with urgent travel needs.

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Americans who are set to travel in the coming months but don't have a renewed passport yet may be out of luck.

"I am freaking out," said Kelsey Renken. "I call every day to try and get an answer to get the same runaround that, 'Oh, we can only push a week before you travel.' A week before you travel is kind of cutting it very close!"

Renken and her husband Heston applied for passports in May but only one has arrived. Their nonrefundable flight to Mexico leaves in two weeks. In the last two years, the couple suffered the heartbreaking loss of a stillborn and two miscarriages.

"We just need to take to get a break, get a mental reset, celebrate our anniversary," Renken said.

Renken said $3,000 will have gone down the drain if the passport doesn't arrive before their trip.

The State Department acknowledges it has a staffing issue and it is scrambling to complete an extraordinary backlog of passport applications. The current wait time for a passport is up to 18 weeks.

"During the pandemic, they sent their people home and right now we're over 1.6 million passports in backlog that they can't process," CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg said.

Additional Info

  • Source CBS News

As the world reopens, not all countries are recognizing a mix of vaccines from different makers as fully vaccinated. Globe Aware volunteers can check to see which countries they need to watch out for when it comes to regulations.


Thinking of travelling? Here’s where mixed COVID-19 vaccines aren’t accepted

By Eric Stober
Global News

Canada’s health authority has given the green light to mix-and-match COVID-19 vaccines, but as the world reopens, not all are recognizing a mix of vaccines from different makers as fully vaccinated, despite millions of Canadians doing so.

Here’s who has announced so far they do not accept mixed vaccines.

Cruises

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S.’s main health body, does not currently recognize a mix of a vector vaccine, such as AstraZeneca, with an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna, as fully vaccinated.

It does, however, recognize a mix of two mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna, as fully vaccinated.

As such, many cruise lines are following the CDC’s guidance in their own protocols for who can come aboard.

Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America have said they will not recognize those who have mixed an AstraZeneca vaccine with an mRNA vaccine as fully vaccinated, citing CDC’s guidance.

“Following CDC guidelines, Celebrity will consider a guest ‘fully vaccinated’ with proof of vaccination that can include mixed doses of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines only. No other mixed vaccine doses will qualify a guest as ‘fully vaccinated,’” Celebrity Cruises’ website reads.

covid travel

Carnival’s policy applies for cruises leaving from U.S. ports.

Norwegian Cruise Line is going further and not accepting any mix of vaccines, including two mRNA vaccines, when departing from U.S. ports, but will accept a mix of “only AstraZeneca-SK Bio, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna combinations” from non-U.S. ports.

Royal Caribbean will not accept mixed doses when departing from a U.S. port, but will from non-U.S. ports, depending on the specific country’s policy.

Already Canadians have been caught off-guard by some of these policies.

Travel bloggers Karen and Brian Hosier of Port Coquitlam, B.C., have six cruises booked over the next year, but both were first vaccinated with AstraZeneca and and then Pfizer.

“It’s a little bit frustrating. We don’t know at this point whether to cancel [our] trip,” said Karen.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has approved mixing vaccines, including AstraZeneca with an mRNA vaccine.

Zahid Butt, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Waterloo, said there is no evidence to show that mixing-and-matching vaccines is harmful and said studies show that mixing AstraZeneca with a second dose of Pfizer is better in creating antibody response to the virus.

“There is no scientific evidence to say people who have a second dose, which is of a different vaccine, would have lesser immunity than the ones who have the same vaccine,” he said.

“There has to be scientific evidence to justify why you are not allowing people to join cruises.”

Countries

In addition to cruises, some countries have their own policies toward mixed vaccines, as well as the COVISHIELD vaccine — the Indian-made version of AstraZeneca.

Trinidad and Tobago currently do not accept travellers with a mix of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines but does allow an AstraZeneca and Pfizer or Moderna mix.

“For 2-dose series COVID-19 vaccines, passengers must have received 2 doses of the same vaccine OR the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine followed by the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine,” the country’s travel requirements read.

“Passengers with any other combination of vaccines would NOT be considered fully vaccinated, at this time.”

Barbados reversed its policy on July 15 to allow mixed vaccines after initially not accepting it.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Jamaica will accept anyone with two doses of a World Health Organization-approved (WHO) vaccine, mixed or not, and Cuba and the Dominican Republic have no vaccine requirements.

While the U.S. doesn’t currently require vaccinations for travellers, the CDC’s guidance could pose trouble for some Canadians if the country were to use its guidance in its travel requirements. The U.S. also has not approved the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Already a Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett concert will require full vaccination under New York state’s guidelines, which currently follow the CDC’s lead — meaning no mix-and-match of AstraZeneca with an mRNA vaccine.

The WHO currently has not issued guidance on mixing vaccines but said that there is currently limited data on doing so and warned of a “dangerous trend” of vaccine shopping for extra doses.

According to Health Canada, at least 1.3 million Canadians mixed doses in June.

NACI recommends mixing AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, Tam says

Over in Europe, several countries, such as Italy, Portugal and Poland, do not recognize COVISHIELD, which has been approved in Canada and has been administered to over 80,000 Canadians.

This means that visitors with that vaccine must quarantine and provide a COVID-19 test.

A growing number of European countries, though, do accept the vaccine, including Spain, Greece, Iceland and France.

Both Germany and France only accept a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer or Moderna as fully vaccinated and not two mRNA vaccines of different makes, meaning travellers must present a negative COVID-19 test to enter.

In response to some of these policies, Quebec will now allow its residents to get a third shot of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to avoid policies against mixing vaccines and the COVISHIELD vaccine.

The province warns, though, to seek advice and weigh the risks before getting an extra shot.

“This measure is exceptional and the person should be properly counselled to be informed of the potential risks associated with this additional dose, compared to the benefits of the planned trip,” Quebec’s health department said in a statement.

– With files from Julia Wong and Alessia Simona Maratta

Additional Info

  • Source Global News
Thursday, 12 August 2021 11:04

Be Prepared: Covid travel checklist

Globe Aware has been rapidly adapting to cope with the demands of the new Covid era. We're sharing this Covid Travel Checklist with our volunteers, so they can be prepared for travel too.


 

The Covid travel checklist: What to know before you go

Maureen O'Hare,
CNN 

(CNN) — While our suitcases have been gathering dust over the past 16 months, the travel industry has been rapidly adapting to cope with the demands of the new Covid era.

This means that if you're making your first flight for a while, things may be very different from what you've previously been used to.

It's no longer just about packing your power adapter and making sure your shampoo is in little bottles. We've put together this Covid Travel Checklist with everything you now need to think about before you set off.

Planning where to go

1. More travel doors are open worldwide to those who can prove they're fully vaccinated, with the typical requirement being that 14 days must have elapsed since your second jab.

Not all vaccines are equal, so you will need to check that the brand you've received -- and sometimes even the batch number -- are accepted by the destination you hope to visit.

2. Thoroughly check the entry restrictions for all the destinations you wish to visit, or transit through, and keep checking them -- right up to when you travel, and while on the trip itself. And if you're planning to travel around inside a country, remember that different regions might have different rules. CNN Travel's Unlocking the World guides are a good place to start.

3. Remember that while you might be allowed into a country, life may still be far from normal there. Do your homework beforehand to find out what tourism attractions and hospitality services are open, and where and when mask-wearing is mandatory.

4. Book flexible, refundable flights and accommodation wherever possible, or reconsider the trip. And don't neglect to get up-to-date travel insurance -- some destinations require it before entry (be sure to check the Covid-19 small print).

Budgeting

CNN Business breaks down the price hikes customers are seeing at the grocery store, the gas tank, the car lot, and more.

1. Remember cheap vacations and budget flights? Well, those won't be coming back for a while. Expect or prepare for price hikes when it comes to the cost of flights, car hire, accommodation, food, drink and just about everything.

2. Check how many Covid-19 tests you might be required to take and how much each of them will cost. If there is the possibility that travel rules could change mid-trip and you'll be required to self-isolate at home or undergo a mandatory stay at a designated hotel, this is something you'll need to factor in too.

Packing

Samantha Brown has been crossing the globe as a TV travel host for 20 years. She often just takes a carry on bag, and offers her best tips for packing up your luggage. First tip: go with a hardside suitcase

1. Confirm well in advance what documentation will need to be presented at different legs of your journey and print out anything for which hard copies are required (or simply as back-up).

Depending where you are in the world and where you're going, check travel requirements and download any apps that are required or recommended and load them up with the relevant information.

2. On top of your regular packing checklist, two new additions we'd recommend are disposable face masks and a small bottle of hand sanitizer you can take in your carry-on.

3. Pack your (empty) refillable water bottle in your hand luggage as usual, but bear in mind that due to Covid-19 precautions water fountains may or may not be back in operation at the airports you visit.

4. It's likely that not all of your favorite airport restaurants and stores will be open as usual, so it might not be possible to pick up last-minute items such as toiletries or particular meals and snacks. If it's an item you 100% need for your journey, purchase it before you travel.

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Heading to the airport

If you were a frequent pre-Covid flier, chances are you had a tried-and-tested route to the airport, knowing just how much time you needed to leave before setting out. You might need to rethink that.

1. If your journey to the airport involves public transport, services may be less frequent than pre-Covid. There are also driver shortages in many cities when it comes to taxis and ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, meaning longer wait times and high fares.

2. Once you're at the airport, there may be delays to your journey due to Covid-19 testing wait times and the implementation of social distancing measures.

3. An airline you previously used frequently may have changed their travel rules since you last flew with them. For example, some airlines -- such as Ireland's Aer Lingus -- are cutting back on free cabin baggage, so you will need to choose whether to put your 10 kilogram bag in the hold for free or pay extra to take it on board.

If you put it in the hold, you'll need to allow for extra time at check-in and at the end of your flight.

At the airport

Under the Phuket Sandbox program, visitors arriving on the Thai island must undergo Covid-19 checks on arrival and are required to stay on the island for 14 days before being allowed to visit the rest of the country.

While you might see other passengers disregarding them, social distancing measures will certainly be in place at the airports you travel through.

1. Please allow space for other passengers, and give people plenty of space in line at security and other travel checkpoints. If you see other passengers not doing the same, do your best to relax -- you're on vacation, after all.

On board

1. You'll be expected to wear face masks while on board, so make sure to choose masks you feel comfortable in that meet the airline requirements. Disposable masks are the simplest choice so that you can change to a fresh one periodically.

2. Not all airlines are taking the step of blocking middle seats to prevent Covid-19 transmission, so if that's a priority for you, do your research beforehand and prepare to pay a bit extra with a premium carrier.

3. Practically all airlines, however, will have reduced their inflight service, so check beforehand to see what will be available and if you need to book meals in advance or notify the airline of dietary requirements.

4. Bear in mind that many airlines won't accept anything other than contactless payments, so have your bank card or phone ready for in-cabin purchases.

5. The cabin crew will also be keen to reduce passenger movement in flight, so you may not be able to get up and stretch as often as you'll have been used to. Use lavatory facilities on the ground before you board and bring any travel pillows or other requirements to make sure you can settle in comfortably when you're on board.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

Globe Aware offers flexibility when it comes to protecting yourself and others. In case your volunteer vacation destination is impacted by the Delta variant, Globe Aware will work with you and your family to reschedule your dates and even location.


Is It Safe to Plan International Fall Travel Right Now?

We speak to experts about how the Delta variant could impact upcoming travel plans.

BY SHANNON MCMAHON
July 26, 2021

This year, as much of the United States became vaccinated against the coronavirus and other nations mounted their own vaccine rollouts, experts estimated that international travel would rebound by autumn—if enough of the world became inoculated. But with lagging vaccinations and cases rising again globally thanks to the highly contagious Delta variant, what does that mean for fall travel?

While breakthrough cases among vaccinated people were always expected, and primarily present mild symptoms, the Delta variant, which is now widespread in the U.S., is changing the course of infections in under-vaccinated areas. And it's leading to some returning restrictions: After a case spike in Las Vegas, for example, employees in the city are once again required to mask indoors, and officials in some places are warning against travel to the area.

“We're at quite a junction now with the Delta variant, because what's become apparent in the past few weeks is even vaccinated people, at a low frequency, are starting to get infected,” says Dr. David Freedman, an emeritus infectious-disease specialist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham whose COVID-19 research has focused on travel. “People don't want to go away and get sick, especially somewhere they can't get good medical care.”

If you’re planning on traveling this autumn, here’s what to consider about sticking with or postponing your plans.

Should I book fall travel right now?

According to experts, it depends on your health status and the epidemiological situation where you’re going. Those with underlying conditions should reconsider traveling abroad even if they are vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which now offers country-specific travel guidance that ranges from a Level 4 (COVID-19 Very High) alert to Level 1 (COVID-19 Low). In general, unvaccinated people should avoid international travel, according to the CDC, and those who are vaccinated should avoid nonessential travel to Level 4 destinations.

As for how travel will be impacted over the coming months, the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. remains unclear, Freedman says, mainly because that trend will depend heavily on the amount of people who decide to get vaccinated. According to the CDC, which collects national data sets predicting the future spread of the disease in the U.S., “Newly reported COVID-19 cases will remain stable or have an uncertain trend, with 92,000 to 803,000 new cases likely reported in the week ending August 14, 2021,” with the vast majority of those cases occurring among unvaccinated people. (About 332,000 cases were reported in the last week, for comparison.) It is worth noting, however, that COVID-19 cases have historically risen in fall, when colder weather drives people back indoors.

For that reason, travel could be risky for immunocompromised people, even if they are vaccinated. “People need to be honest with themselves, and if they have underlying health problems those are really the people who should not travel,” Freedman says. The bottom line, he notes, is that vaccinated people are much less likely to get severely sick.

Will destinations remain open?

Some destinations that recently thrust open their doors to summer tourists are already reimposing restrictions due to the Delta variant. While many countries in Europe are allowing Americans again, some recently brought back curfews and indoor-dining restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. Greece, for example, has banned music in bars and set curfews in nightlife spots like Mykonos. France, which is only allowing vaccinated visitors, will also begin requiring proof of inoculation to dine indoors. In the Caribbean, Turks and Caicos has narrowed its time frame for visitors to acquire a negative coronavirus test, shortening the window from five days before arrival to three. Europe travel could also shut down at any moment thanks to terms built into the European Union’s tourism reopening: Member states can halt travel at any time via an “emergency brake” established by E.U. leaders. The region’s tourism plan relies on a digital health pass that is available to Americans for use.

“The rules are still ever-changing,” says Michaela Moore, a travel advisor for Creative Vacations who has clients traveling to both the Caribbean and Europe this summer. “It’s been a challenge to stay on top of.” Moore says that it’s become her job to give travelers the most up-to-date rules so they can make decisions about what type of travel they’re most comfortable with. The easiest, and therefore more popular, places for Americans to travel right now are Mexico and the Caribbean, she says, followed by Europe, which is proving slightly more difficult to navigate; Africa and Asia trips have largely been put on hold.

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How can I safeguard my trip?

If you choose to travel internationally this fall, Moore advises you invest in the right travel insurance and only book changeable flights and accommodations, in case a spike in cases at your destination means you’ll have to postpone your trip. ‘Cancel for any reason’ insurance is most helpful in those scenarios, and is typically separate from standard trip insurance that kicks in during travel for things like emergency flights home or alternative accommodations if you have to quarantine. It’s crucial that travelers make sure they have medical insurance that will cover them abroad, Moore says, as most U.S. health-insurance providers can’t provide coverage internationally. Travelers can also choose to visit countries with better healthcare systems that are less likely to be overwhelmed by a sudden rise in cases, and nations with high vaccination rates that make a sudden outbreak far less likely.

“A lot of people are over COVID even though COVID is not necessarily over us,” says Moore. “I give them the rules and provide them with all the information they need, and then they need to make the decision they're most comfortable with about traveling.”

Freedman says we can also keep an eye out for signals that travel restrictions might return post-summer and complicate the fall travel season, including steadily rising cases in the U.S. through August, which could compel other countries to again close to Americans.

“There's going to be increasing bureaucratic hurdles if Delta doesn't get under control in the next month or so,” Freedman says. “If that doesn't happen, once people stop spending so much time outdoors, countries are likely going to put even more inconvenient restrictions in place.”

With that in mind, it's as important to keep up with your own local epidemiological situation as your destination's—and to have planned your travel as flexibly as possible in case either area's case rate impacts your plans.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler
Thursday, 05 August 2021 09:33

Vietnam Airlines Prepare For Reopening

Vietnam Airlines is resuming more international routes as the airline starts preparing for the reopening of the country. Globe Aware is optimistic our volunteers will be ably to visit the country safely in 2022.


 

Vietnam Airlines Brings Back More International Routes In Preparation For Reopening

July 13, 2021
Jay Singh

Vietnam Airlines is resuming more international routes as the airline starts preparing for the reopening of the country. While the airline has been operating some international flying over the last year, the carrier is now bringing back more regular flights to points in Australia, Europe, and Asia starting this month.

Vietnam Airlines starts to bring back international routes

To serve the needs of essential workers, international students, and any other official travelers who need to come to Vietnam, the carrier will be resuming several international routes.

To Australia, Vietnam Airlines will be flying between Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) and Sydney International Airport (SYD) with two flights per week from July 15th through October 30th. A second flight to Australia will run once per week from SGN to Melbourne Airport (MEL) from July 20th through October 30th.

Meanwhile, Europe will see Vietnam Airlines service with some relatively specific dates in mind. Frankfurt Airport (FRA) will see flights from Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) on July 25th, 38th, and August 21st. Return flights to Vietnam will run on July 26th, 29th, and August 22nd.

London Heathrow Airport (LHR) will see nonstop service from HAN on August 14th and September 2nd. Return flights from London to Hanoi will run on August 14th and September 3rd.

Closer to home, Vietnam Airlines will be flying between Hanoi and Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT) with two flights per week from July 17th to October 30th. Narita to Ho Chi Minch City will also resume. Next up will be flying between Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) from August 1st to October 30th.

Vietnam Airlines will be flying widebodies on international flights. This will include both Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 aircraft. Both jets feature lie-flat products in business class.

vietnam travel

Preparing for the return of international travel

Vietnam Airlines is expanding its international flight network in preparation for handling two-way flight operations.

Vietnam was well-renowned during the crisis for strict entry restrictions, including mandated quarantines for international travelers. While many of those restrictions remain in place, there are signs that Vietnam is looking to reopen.

Vietnam Express reports that the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is looking to reopen Phu Quoc for foreign tourists. This pilot program would allow fully vaccinated travelers from Europe, the US, and some Asian countries to visit the island.

A tourist destination located off the coast of Vietnam, the island could work well for international tourism. Thanks to its isolation from the mainland, it is possible to more easily isolate the virus if the reopening does not go as planned. Plus, with a small population, it is easier to vaccinate all residents there.

When will Vietnam reopen?

Vietnam has taken a very strict approach to the pandemic. With case spikes – even comparatively small ones – the country has not hesitated to lock down the most impacted areas. However, the recent spike has proven to be more difficult to control.

However, locking down and shutting down entirely is not sustainable. Vietnam is hoping for vaccinations to help reopen the country. However, the country has gotten doses out to less than 4% of its population, with less than 1% fully vaccinated, according to data from the New York Times at the time of writing. Recently, the country received two million doses from the United States government.

It will likely be a few months before Vietnam reopens more fully. Phu Quoc could be the only option for travelers looking to vacation in the country in 2021 – assuming it does open up and meet vaccination targets. More of Vietnam will likely follow in 2022, as the country gets to higher vaccination numbers.

When Vietnam is ready to reopen its borders, Vietnam Airlines is expected to resume more international flying. While the carrier did operate routes to the United States during the pandemic for repatriation purposes, it has spent time considering nonstop routes to the United States, though nothing has materialized just yet.

Additional Info

  • Source Simple Flying

The country has decided to resume international flights while allowing domestic services to operate at full throttle, following a drop in Covid-19 cases in the country. Globe Aware volunteers interested in Nepal, can visit our site to learn more about our brand new volunteer vacation in Chitwan.


 

Nepal cautiously reopens international flights

The Cabinet has also permitted regular domestic flights by following health safety protocols.

Sangam Prasain
July 8, 2021
Kathmandu Post

Nepal cautiously reopens international flights while allowing domestic services to operate at full throttle, following a drop in Covid-19 cases in the country.

Tourism Joint Secretary Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane told the Post that a Cabinet meeting on Monday had authorised the ministry to resume passenger flights on international sectors based on the country’s needs and travel demand.

nepal tourism

The Cabinet has also permitted regular domestic flights by following health safety protocols. Lamichhane said that domestic flights would be allowed to operate at full capacity from Sunday.

“With regard to international sectors, we will meet on Thursday to decide how to proceed. There will be some limitations on some sectors as the Covid-19 risk still prevails in some countries.”

“The Cabinet decision has come as a relief to people travelling in and out of Nepal as there will be adequate flights from next week,” said Lamichhane. “There are concerns over flight tickets becoming expensive due to the limited number of flights.”

The government had restricted domestic flights from midnight of May 3 and international flights from midnight of May 6 as the second wave of Covid-19 gripped the country.

On June 21, the government allowed a limited number of scheduled international flights after virus caseloads started to drop. Flight frequencies on domestic sectors were capped at 50 percent of pre-​Covid levels.

Airlines have been urging the government to fully unshackle domestic flights after heavy monsoon rains damaged several national highways connecting Kathmandu with the rest of the country, severely curtailing overland travel.

“There has been massive demand for air seats due to the damage caused by floods and landslides to national highways across the country,” said Birendra Basnet, managing director of Buddha Air. “As per our assessment, there could be demand for nearly 15,000 air seats in the domestic sector daily if flights are operated as per normal schedules.”

The Narayanghat-Mugling and Narayanghat-Butwal highways including other key routes have been blocked from last week due to landslides. According to airline officials, the onset of the wedding season has also increased demand for air seats.

“Flight tickets are expensive as airlines are allowed to conduct only 50 percent of their services. As soon as flight frequencies return to normal levels, ticket prices will come down due to an oversupply of seats,” said Basnet.

Passengers have been complaining about expensive air tickets in the international sector since the government allowed a limited number of flights to some key destinations.

Abdullah Tuncer Kececi, general manager of Turkish Airlines for Kathmandu, told the Post that they plan to raise their frequency to three weekly flights from the current two weekly flights. Turkish Airlines, the only carrier connecting Nepal and Europe, flies on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Kececi said that passengers would be relieved if regular passenger flights are not stopped again. “Allowing regular flights will allow airlines to plan and also people to plan their travels. This will help the market to work in a healthy way.”

Despite the resumption of regular services, there are many countries, including China, that have not allowed flight connectivity with Nepal.

Dhiraj Shrestha, deputy sales manager at the China Southern Airlines office in Nepal, said that China Southern had no immediate plans to resume its Nepal flights. “The company has no immediate plans to resume flights based on the Covid-19 cases assessment in Nepal.”

From a high of 9,317 cases on May 11, the number of new cases on Wednesday has been reported at 2,077, taking the nationwide infection tally to 650,162.

The countrywide death toll has now reached 9,291 with 28 Covid-related deaths on Wednesday. The number of active cases stands at 26,544.

As per the existing travel protocols, fully vaccinated arrivals need to isolate themselves at home for 10 days, and those who have not been vaccinated have to spend seven days in quarantine in hotels recommended by the government.

The government issued prohibitory orders in most parts of the country at the end of April to help check the spread of the virus as the second wave of the pandemic hit Nepal.

Additional Info

  • Source The Kathmandu Post

Recently Globe Aware took an online survey, and the most requested travel destination was Kenya! Here are just 10 of the many reasons why we agree, and visit our website to learn more about the impact we make in this beautiful country! 


 

Longing for a once in a lifetime getaway? 10 reasons why Kenya should be at the top of your post-pandemic travel bucket list!

It's the fantasy that's been keeping us all going through a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions; the dream holiday!

So what's your ideal escape?

For some it's a white powder beach and crystal clear waters, for others it's awe-inspiring landscapes. Or how about the chance to see nature's most incredible creatures up close and personal or the adrenaline-filled fun of sporting adventures?

Whatever your dream holiday, you can do it all in Kenya!

From mountains to beaches and vast plains to vibrant cities, this wonderful country has got it all. Whether you're a couple seeking out romance or a family looking to create memories, this is the destination where once in a lifetime experiences are around every corner.

Read on for just 10 reasons why Kenya should be at the top of YOUR post-pandemic travel bucket list...

1. The locals

Wherever you travel, it's always good to get to know the locals.

But in Kenya that means so much more, thanks to the incredibly diverse wildlife that inhabits the country.

In fact, with 25,000 different animal species and a huge variety of up-close experiences on offer, you'll truly be immersed in the wonder of our natural world.

Stay in remote camps and lodges that take you away from the crowds, but which put you right in the centre of the animal kingdom.

Here you can spot the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo) as they go about their daily lives, or set off on a guided exploration of the many reservations and parks where you can enjoy day and night drives, as well as private bush walks.

And for another bucket-list sight, why not visit the lakes in Kenya's Great Rift Valley, where you can see one of the most colourful spectacles on earth - a flamboyance of flamingos feeding in the shallow waters!

2. A whole year of amazing experiences

Kenya's climate is warm and temperate all year round, making it the perfect destination whether you're looking for winter sun or a getaway that fits into the school holidays.

Plus, no matter when you choose to visit, you're guaranteed a whole host of incredible experiences with the country's animal inhabitants.

If you want to see young wildebeest and zebra tagging along after their mothers then aim to be on safari between January and March. This birthing season also sees predators like lions come out in force, so you'll have the chance to see them on the hunt.

See the Masaai Mara looking its absolute best during the green season between April and June, or see that spectacular Great Migration in the months of July, August and September.

And with cultural festivals, eco-tourism opportunities, balloon safaris, walking tours, homestays, deep sea fishing, windsurfing, coffee tours and countless other once in a lifetime experiences taking place throughout the year, whenever you go to magical Kenya, it'll be a trip you remember forever.

safari kenya

3. A safari with a difference

Kenya's landscapes are as varied as its wildlife.

And in its northern region you can discover the wide open spaces of the Chalbi Desert. Explore this fascinating area, home to Lake Turkana, the world's largest desert lake and UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as a stunning area of oases where you'll find groves of tropical palm trees!

Known as the Cradle of Mankind, Northern Kenya is also the site of some of the world's most important prehistoric discoveries which tell almost the entire story of human evolution, like the 1.6 million year old complete skeleton of the Turkana Boy.

Combined with the rich cultural heritage of the region's 14 tribes, a visit to the north of Kenya will open your eyes to a whole new world.

4. The coastline

When you think of Kenya, safaris and sparse plains come to mind. But did you know its coastline is also one of the most beautiful in the world?

With white sandy beaches and warm clear waters, there are plenty of coastal resorts where you can kick back and soak up the sun in peace.

From the tranquility of Tiwi, a true hidden gem loved by locals, to the water sports and club scene of Malindi, there's one to suit all travellers. You can even indulge in an after-dark swim at Kilifi, when the natural bioluminescence in the tidal creek creates a truly magical experience you'll never forget.

Spend your whole getaway enjoying the gentle sea breeze and laid back atmosphere, or why not take a couple of days at the beach as a break from the action and early mornings of your safari?

But don't worry, there's still wildlife to discover. The warm Indian Ocean provides the perfect habitat for diverse species like dolphins, starfish and whale sharks, not to mention the coral gardens, reefs and mangroves, all waiting to be explored in the country's marine parks.

5. An island paradise awaits

Talking of beaches...

No visit to Kenya is complete without a stay on the Lamu Archipelago.

Comprised of four main islands - Lamu, Manda, Pate and Kiwayu - it's a place like no other, combining idyllic beaches and sparkling reefs with Arabic architecture and historic sites.

Add in bohemian boutiques, its reputation as a refuge for artists, fashionable restaurants and beach bars and the privacy afforded by its remoteness, and it's no surprise that Lamu is now the destination of choice for A-list stars looking to get away from prying eyes.

Board a traditional dhow boat for a sunset cruise, drink in hand, explore Lamu Old Town, the oldest and best preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa and picnic on the pristine sands of its hidden beaches, and you'll feel like you've truly escaped to a paradise on earth.

6. Endless adventures

For something a bit more high octane, you'll find water sports like kite-surfing, rafting, diving and jet-skiing on offer, or set out on an adventure back on dry land with a trip to Mount Kenya.

With its sheer cliff faces and snowcapped peaks, it's home to a diverse range of terrains, making it the ideal place for climbers, hikers and trekkers to reach new heights.

Experienced climbers can tackle Mount Kenya's main summits, Batian and Nelion, but those who want the breathtaking views without such an intense ascent, can scale Lenana, the mountain's third highest peak.

Or why not book a walking safari? These guided tours are a brilliant way to experience Kenya's flora and fauna and to learn about the wildlife of its national parks, with the spectacular scenery and unspoilt landscapes providing the backdrop.

And if, after all that, you're still feeling energetic you can rent a bike and cycle the quiet paths of the Rift Valley, Maasai Maara and the Kenyan coast.

What a fantastic way to experience the magic of Kenya up close and at your own pace.

7. Conservation in action

Kenya has one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, so it's no surprise the culture of conservation has been embraced across the country, with initiatives to protect the land and the animals that inhabit it.

From government programmes, to local community enterprises, visitors to Kenya are able to witness conservation in action, as well as help contribute to its continued success.

Not only is there a national ban on hunting in Kenya, but there are many orphanages across the country, dedicated to caring for orphaned and endangered animals, where travellers can watch the rehabilitation process up close.

The memories you'll take away will last a lifetime, as will the knowledge that by visiting these incredible organisations, you did your bit to help protect Kenya's wonderful wildlife.

8. A warm welcome

If you want to truly immerse yourself in an authentic Kenyan experience, spending time with the Maasai Mara tribe is a must.

Not only can you stay in Maasai-owned lodges, but you can go on bush walks and game drives led by Maasai guides, enabling you to learn about the people of this incredible place, as well as the animals.

In the evenings there's the opportunity to enjoy music and dance while discovering more about the tribe's traditions and history. Or get really hands-on with a warrior training session where you'll be taught how to throw spears, fight with sticks and use Maasai bows and arrows.

By choosing Maasai-owned accommodation and activities, not only will you get a genuine understanding of a unique way of life, you'll also help it to continue as tourism is a vital source of income for the tribe.

9. Vibrant cities

After a few days exploring the far reaches of Kenya's vast plains, deserts and mountains, get a hit of urban life in one of the country's vibrant cities.

The capital, Nairobi, is a thriving and modern metropolis where you can shop 'til you drop, sip coffee at bustling cafes, enjoy an indulgent dinner at one of the city's outstanding restaurants and STILL see incredible wildlife at the Nairobi National Park!

The park is home to large herds of zebras, wildebeests, buffalos, giraffes, rhinos, leopards and lions, all living wild within 20 minutes of the central business district!

Or head to Mombasa to experience a diverse city that combines world class hotels and restaurants, with historic forts and hipster street food markets, with beaches right on your doorstep!

10. A very special event

While animal experiences are abundant in Kenya, there's one in particular that's truly unique.

A visit to the Maasai Mara National Reserve will bring you close to over 100 mammal species including zebra, gazelle, antelope, giraffe, ostrich and cheetah, as well as over 450 species of birds.

But to witness one of nature's most incredible events, plan your trip around the time of the Great Migration.

Watch as herds of wildebeest make their way from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, across the crocodile-infested Mara River, in search of fresh water and grass.

Seeing this battle for survival will be sure to stay with you long after you've flown home.

Visit magicalkenya.com to discover more and to book your dream holiday now...

Additional Info

  • Source DALLAS OBSERVER

This is the summer of the vaccinated travel has in the US, and it's wreaking havoc on some of the nation's airlines and airports. Here are some ways for our Globe Aware volunteers to avoid stress that comes with


 

I volunteer at a major airport and deal with hundreds of unprepared travelers. Here are 12 ways to avoid lines and have a stress-free summer travel experience

Thomas Pallini
Jul 1, 2021

  • Americans have been taking to the skies this summer more than any season since the start of the pandemic.
  • Airlines and airports are still adjusting to increased passenger levels, causing long lines and delays.
  • These travel tips will help flyers avoid lines and move through the airport easier.

The summer of vaccinated travel has arrived in the US, and it's wreaking havoc on some of the nation's airlines and airports.

AAA estimates that 47.7 million Americans will travel over Fourth of July weekend and air travel will likely see a large share of that number. Every day since June 22 has seen more than 1.8 million travelers depart from US airports and four days in that period have seen more than two million.

phil mosley wOK2f2stPDg unsplash

Long lines will be the norm as travelers descend upon airports and airlines are still struggling to adjust to increased passenger volume following months of slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The onus, this summer, will be on travelers to help themselves instead of relying on the airlines to get them to where they need to be.

I volunteer at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and see the most common ways travelers make the airport experience harder than it has to be.

Here's how to have a smoother travel experience this summer.

Check-in online for a flight 24 hours in advance

Online check-in takes no more than a few minutes but can save travelers hours of waiting in line. Flyers can review flight details, change seats, pay for baggage allowance, print boarding passes, and even have boarding passes sent to a phone.

Flyers that get a boarding pass by checking in online can head straight to the security checkpoint when arriving at the airport if they don't have a bag to check.

The check-in rule will also help Southwest Airlines flyers get a better seat as boarding groups are assigned based on check-in time.

Airlines will also use check-in time when determining which flyers to take off a flight in the event that it's oversold.

Those checking a bag should pay the baggage fee online to save time at the airport. Some carriers like JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines have bag drop systems where flyers use a kiosk to print their bag tag and then drop it on a conveyor belt.

Download and update all airline mobile applications

Nearly every major US airline has a mobile app that, much like online check-in, can often be used to avoid long check-in lines altogether. Travelers that only plan to bring carry-on bags can go straight to the security screening checkpoint with only a mobile boarding pass.

Airline apps will also have phone numbers and contact options in the event of a delay or cancellation. Flyers can change or cancel their flights on most airline apps, as well.

Arrive extra early for domestic flights and super early for international flights

Even the most experienced travelers can be trapped in a long line and miss their flight. Airlines are short-staffed after reducing headcounts during the pandemic and holiday travel weekends will only compound pressure on staff.

Travelers checking bags should arrive extra early to hedge against long lines. Most airlines advise arriving at least two hours in advance for domestic flights and three hours for international flights but flyers should be more cautious and allow extra time.

And even carry-on passengers should arrive early in case of long lines at the security screening checkpoint or if something goes wrong.

International flights often require additional protocols at check-in where an airline employee will have to verify travel documents and COVID-19 tests. Lines are often longer for international departures since flyers often bring checked baggage and now the added burden of verifying COVID-19 documents means flyers should allow for extra time.

Use apps like Verifly for international flights

Some airlines are using third parties to verify COVID-19 documentation and are letting customers that use the free services cut the line at airports.

American Airlines partners with Verifly, a company that offers mobile health passport services, to speed along the check-in process for international flyers. Travelers upload a profile to the Verifly app, as well as their COVID-19 test results, and have their documentation digitally reviewed long before they arrive at the airport.

American has dedicated check-in lines for Verifly users that have shorter wait times than normal lines. The process can take a few days, however, so flyers should upload the info as early as possible.

Be aware of COVID-19 requirements and print out tests

Many international destinations require negative COVID-19 tests as a prerequisite to entry, and each destination has its own rules on the recency and type of tests required.

Airlines will direct travelers to check-in desks so an employee can review COVID-19 tests. In that case, passengers should arrive extra early in case lines are long.

Having COVID-19 tests printed out can also speed along the process at check-in and arrival in a foreign country.

Travelers without proper tests will often be denied boarding. Some airports do have testing sites but privately-owned sites can charge upwards of $100 for a test.

Some countries also require applying for visas or approvals to enter the country that wasn't once mandated, and flyers should check the entry requirements of their destination country with their airline and the US embassy in that country.

Use TSA PreCheck and Clear at security checkpoints

Flyers may spend a long period of time at check-in only to face another line at the security checkpoint. First class flyers and elite status holders can often use dedicated priority lanes but another method to skip the line is by enrolling in the Transportation Security Administration's PreCheck program.

PreCheck lines are often shorter and travelers in the program save time by leaving their shoes on, laptops in bags, and jackets on, among other perks. Travelers that don't currently have TSA PreCheck can get a five-year membership for $85.

Another method of skipping the line is enrolling in a membership with Clear, a private company that brings members to the front of security lines. Clear isn't available in every terminal but can save time where available.

Travelers can have both a TSA PreCheck membership and Clear membership for double effectiveness, with the latter costing $179 per year. Free trials for Clear are often available and some airlines give their frequent flyers discounts on memberships.

Make the most of airport lounges

Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders have complimentary access to Priority Pass lounges around the world. Lounges typically feature plush seating along with free WiFi and complimentary food and beverages.

American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders also have access to exclusive Centurion Lounges, known for exquisite food and drinks, as well as Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta Air Lines. Delta Air Lines American Express Reserve cardholders can also access Centurion Lounges and Sky Clubs when flying Delta.

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders enrolled in Priority Pass can also dine at some airport restaurants for nearly free, as Insider found on a recent layover in Washington, DC.

Be prepared for a delay or cancellation

Busy travel times are when delays and cancellations are likely to happen, especially as airlines adjust to flying more people. Travelers need to be proactive and have a plan of action ready.

As soon as a delay or cancellation strikes, travelers should be searching for backup options and have a plan to execute them. An hour-long flight delay might very well turn into four hours or even a cancellation, as Insider found on a recent trip to South America.

Long hold times are common but flyers should at least call and get themselves on the callback queue, if an airline has one, in case they need to talk to a reservation agent down the line. Messaging an airline through their apps or using Twitter to direct message an airline as soon as a delay strikes can also help, just so a dialogue is opened as soon as possible.

Flyers should also know where the nearest customer service center is in as agents there can also help flyers.

Use credit card perks like travel insurance

Travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum have built-in travel insurance that can be used if delays strike, if the travel was paid for by that card. Each card has different requirements and spending allowances but it can help mitigate the inconvenience of a delay or cancellation.

"If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for Unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket," Chase's website reads.

If bad weather or sickness strikes, some trip insurance will also cover any prepaid costs like airfare or pre-arranged tours. Baggage delay insurance will also cover expenses if a checked bag is lost by the airline.

Know your rights as a passenger

In the event of an airline-initiated delay or cancellation for an issue other than weather, passengers are often entitled to amenities that help make the delay easier to bear.

Meal vouchers are often distributed in the event of a lengthy delay and airlines will give hotel vouchers if an overnight stay is required away from the traveler's home city.

If a flight is delayed or canceled and another is available at a nearby airport, airlines will often provide transportation to the alternate airport. After the trip is complete, flyers can request delay compensation from an airline to make up for the lost time.

Use your elite status or first class perks

Airlines often have dedicated check-in lines for their most frequent flyers with elite status or first class flyers. If checking in with an airline employee is a must, elite status holders or premium cabin flyers can take advantage of the shorter wait times on those lines.

Bring extra masks

Wearing a face mask while in an airport or on an airplane is still required by federal law in the US, and mandatory by most airlines around the world.

Airlines will also have masks to offer passengers in case they forget a mask, need a replacement mask, or simply need an extra one.

Additional Info

  • Source Insider

If a Globe Aware volunteer tests positive for COVID-19 or learn that they were exposed to the virus while traveling, it’s important to be responsible, doing everything possible to avoid spreading it. Follow these tips to help spare other people the same fate and limit your added expenses!


 

What to Do If You Get COVID-19 While Traveling: 8 Tips to Get Back on Track

Getting sick while traveling doesn’t have to be a disaster.

Alicia A. Wallace
Healthline

It’s been over a year since the COVID-19 pandemic forced major changes to most of our lives. Countries all over the world continue to have a hard time responding to the spread of the virus and the resulting crises.

Since the vaccine became available, more countries have opened their borders. People who have been itching to travel can finally hit the road.

There’s still some risk in traveling during the pandemic, but it feels a bit safer.

Some people want to escape the homes they’ve been cooped up in. Others desperately want to see their family members.

And others need to take a mental health break, go to a place with different weather, move for a new job, or get access to a service that’s not available in their home countries.

Whatever the reason, people are traveling, and the tourism industry is making room.

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What to expect if you test positive

Vaccinated people have a sense of security because of the protection provided by antibodies. But it’s still possible to contract COVID-19, even after you’ve had your full dose.

It’s especially risky if people don’t wear masks or don’t properly wash their hands, sanitize, and practice physical distancing.

Taking these measures isn’t just about preventing illness. It isn’t even just about preventing the spread. It may also be the difference between getting back home — or not.

Most countries now require a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or rapid antigen test for (re)entry of residents and visitors alike. Even if you’re asymptomatic, you likely won’t be able to return to your home country as planned if you test positive for COVID-19.

That could result in a cancellation or change fees on your flight, additional hotel days, an increase in spending on food and other supplies, and possible loss of workdays.

It costs less money to take the precautions and continue to follow COVID-19 safety protocol.

How to handle COVID-19 on the go

If you test positive for COVID-19 or learn that you were exposed to the virus while traveling, it’s important to be responsible, doing everything possible to avoid spreading it.

This kind of news can be disorienting, but you’ll need to act quickly to spare other people the same fate and limit your added expenses.

The tips below can help you get back on track with your travel plans sooner rather than later.

Do the math
If you test positive, you may be able to figure out when you contracted the virus based on the timing of any previous tests and your recent activities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, asymptomatic people can discontinue isolation 10 days after testing positive.

Still, it’s possible to test positive beyond that period, even if you’re no longer able to pass on the virus.

If that’s the case, you may need to prepare to stay where you are for a longer period of time, depending on the restrictions of the country you’re in.

Reschedule your flight

You can reschedule your return flight based on your best estimate of when you contracted the virus and when you are likely to test negative.

It’s usually best to do this by phone, so an agent can help you with fare differences and change fees. Have something handy to take notes, because the options will likely be more than you can remember.

Sorting this out early can save you money and will definitely spare you some guessing games.

Book appropriate accommodations

Find a place to stay for your entire isolation period. You need an accommodation where you won’t have to leave for meals, ice, restroom use, or anything else.

Look for:

  • a kitchenette
  • 24-hour staff
  • a restaurant
  • an onsite or nearby convenience store
  • a sympathetic bellhop or concierge

Go for a room with a kitchenette, so you have the ability to refrigerate food items and cook. Contactless delivery might not be an option in every country, and it can get expensive.

Be sure to let the staff know you don’t need your room serviced and use the “do not disturb” indicator if one is available, so housekeeping doesn’t come in.

If you communicate with them, the staff may even be able to help you get necessary personal items, like toiletries, and leave them outside your door. They’ll likely be grateful that you’re taking precautions and respecting their safety.

Book your next COVID-19 test

Now that you have a flight booked and place to stay, you need to schedule another COVID-19 test.

Make sure this test is both:

  • ten or more days after your first positive test
  • within the window required by your home country, which is typically 72 hours

If possible, use a concierge service where someone will come to you to administer the test. This way, you won’t expose anyone else to the virus. There will likely be a convenience fee.

If this option isn’t available to you, and you’re driving, you can opt for a drive-thru test. Many airports are now offering COVID-19 tests to travelers.

Make notes, and check them often

There will be a lot to keep track of during this period. Don’t leave anything to chance.

Take note of:

  • dates and times of your test
  • how long your test results are valid in your home country
  • check-out times for your accommodations
  • check-in times for your flight
  • any other necessary details, like train or bus timetables

Once you’re settled into your room, meal plan. If your budget is tight, try to plan meals that make use of the same ingredients. For example, if you like eggs for breakfast and you have to buy a dozen, you may consider making quiche for your lunches.

You don’t want to order too many grocery items that you’ll end up throwing away or stuffing into your luggage.

Order groceries and necessary supplies

Once you’ve made a grocery list, place the order for delivery or ask accommodation staff if they can help you get what you need. If you go for the second option, be prepared to tip generously.

Do not, under any circumstances, venture out to do the shopping.

Don’t forget to include:

  • vitamins and supplements, like vitamin C
  • any necessary medications
  • a thermometer
  • sources of hydration

You may feel completely fine, but there’s no telling how that positive test result will affect your mental health.

Being able to check your temperature and take supplements daily can help a lot.

If you’re experiencing symptoms, make sure to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Pedialyte, or even sports drinks in a pinch, can restore lost electrolytes due to vomiting or diarrhea. This is especially important in hot climates.

Tell someone

If you test positive for COVID-19, chances are you are stressed, feel sick, are far from home, and have logistical details to work out.

You might not want to announce on your social media that you’ve tested positive or been exposed to COVID-19, but you should definitely let a trusted loved one know what’s going on.

Be clear with them about how you’re feeling and the kind of support you think you’ll need. Maybe you’d like quick daily check-ins via text message, or maybe you need them to run interference with other people you’re not ready to deal with yet.

Ask for help.

It might be a good time to schedule some extra telehealth sessions with your therapist, too.

Do something nice for yourself

Being stuck in a room that isn’t even in your own house under stressful circumstances is likely not be the vacation you had in mind. You can still make it a better experience for yourself with some effort.

Order fresh flowers or a plant, a nice mug to have your morning beverage in, some essential oils and a small diffuser, or even a fancy body wash.

If you can, go for room service and order some pay-per-view. If you brought your own computer, what better time for a favorite TV show binge-watch?

These small things can help brighten your days and give you a greater sense of control.

Takeaway

Testing positive for COVID-19 is an unwelcome surprise under any circumstance. It comes with added stress if you’re traveling.

Before you leave home, be sure to budget for unexpected events. Be prepared to pay for a few extra nights and an additional COVID-19 test.

If you test positive, make the necessary plans to ensure that the following days go as smoothly as possible. It doesn’t have to be a disaster.

Keep your cool, take your to-do list one step at a time, and give yourself permission to ask for support and treat yourself to something nice.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Healthline
Thursday, 15 July 2021 10:19

Volunteer While Traveling With Your Kids

Volunteer alum Jodi Lipson speaks of her Globe Aware experiences with her family, and find out how you can book your meaningful volunteer vacation.


 

How to Volunteer While Traveling With Your Kids

Looking for meaningful travel? Volunteering lets you give back and grow as a family.

BY KEN BUDD 
JULY 15, 2021

 

When Jodi Lipson's daughter was seven, the duo embarked on a mommy-daughter adventure — and no, they didn't travel to Disneyland. For one week, the pair did maintenance work at a hostel in Peru and helped local schoolchildren learn English. They soon worked on three more projects with volunteer organization Globe Aware in Guatemala, Cambodia, and Costa Rica. The experiences, said Lipson, who works in book publishing in D.C., have expanded the worldview of her now 13-year-old daughter.

"We've met so many people," she said. "We have a whole repertoire of experiences, feelings, and memories."

14.Volunteer+Vacations+in+Guatemala

As travel-hungry Americans start dusting off their passports, meaningful travel will top many bucket lists—and short-term volunteering should be on your radar. Volunteering abroad was ranked number three on a list of most-desired post-pandemic travel opportunities in a recent survey by Go Overseas, a resource site on meaningful travel.

For kids, volunteering can reveal a world beyond their screens and fuel a lifelong interest in giving. It also helps families to escape their comfort zone, bond, and immerse themselves in local cultures. Volunteering might even impact your child's future. A teenage volunteer with Earthwatch, a scientific organization that runs expeditions worldwide, wrote her college essay on her volunteer experience and was admitted to Stanford. She's now been admitted to several PhD programs in ornithology, which was the focus of her Earthwatch expedition.

Interested in volunteering with your family? Consider these possibilities:

For a deeper experience, consider a volunteer vacation, also known as voluntourism. Organizations such as Global Volunteers, Globe Aware, and Projects Abroad run one-week-or-longer family programs in the United States and abroad. Some allow children as young as six; others, like Earthwatch, have a minimum age of 15. Most organizations also provide cultural activities (such as language lessons) and tourism opportunities (the Lipsons visited Machu Picchu while volunteering in Peru).

Multiple organizations expect to relaunch projects in late 2021, though 2022 may be best for families interested in international volunteering, especially as countries start requiring COVID vaccinations, for example, it could create entry issues for children and teens who aren't vaccinated yet). Organizations such as Globe Aware, which has restarted programs in countries such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ghana, and Kenya, are taking steps beyond masks and social distancing to protect locals and volunteers: "All our projects, leisure activities, and meals are outside," says executive director Kimberly Haley-Coleman. Global Volunteers is offering programs in Montana, West Virginia, Poland, and Tanzania in July.

Thinking about a weeklong volunteer vacation? Take these steps:

Do your homework. Sites like Go Overseas, Go Abroad and Volunteer Forever  post info and reviews as well as tips on family volunteering.

Ask questions. Inquire about subjects such as safety, food, and accommodations. Will you stay in a hotel? With a local family? Are there day trip opportunities to local communities if you're staying in a central location or major city?

Talk with a former volunteer. "Any reputable organization will give you a list of people to speak with," said Alia Pialtos, COO at Go Overseas. "Talking with someone about their experience is different from reading testimonials."

Understand the program fee. Organizations charge a fee that covers everything from lodging to transportation. Find out how your money is spent.

Scrutinize the screening process. Many organizations, for example, require a background check if you're working with kids. If they don't, that's a warning sign.

Ask about the work. Is it necessary? Does it match your talents? If you don't have construction skills you shouldn't be building houses. And make sure you're not taking work from locals.

Appreciate the intangibles. One of the biggest upsides of volunteering is that people talk who would never talk otherwise — which changes how we see each other.

Ken Budd is the author of The Voluntouristan award-winning memoir about his search for meaning as a global volunteer. Follow his adventures on Twitter and Facebook.

Additional Info

  • Source Voluntourist

The king of Bhutan has taken it upon himself to hike across the country to help curb the Covid-19 pandemic because "his Majesty's presence is far more powerful than just issuing public guidelines." Globe Aware applauds the king's continuing dedication and efforts to help his people.


 

Bhutan's king has been hiking and camping across his mountainous kingdom to oversee pandemic measures

Matthew Loh
June 28, 2021

  • Bhutan's king has been making personal trips across the country to visit remote regions and meet Covid-19 taskforces.
  • His Facebook page shows him donning a baseball cap, hiking attire, and a backpack on his treks.
  • Bhutan is one of the world's most mountainous countries, with an average elevation of 8,000 feet.

The king of Bhutan has taken it upon himself to hike across mountains, visit remote villages, and trudge through leech-infested jungles to help his country curb the Covid-19 pandemic.

King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck has been making trips by car, horse, and foot across his kingdom to supervise pandemic measures and warn his people of the coronavirus, according to the official royal Facebook page. He's been making the trips over the last 14 months and has managed to span Bhutan's eastern border - which is more than 400 miles long - reported Reuters.

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One of his latest treks lasted five days across 41 miles, according to the royal Facebook page, in which he sported an outdoor backpack, hiking gear, and sometimes a pair of sunglasses or a dark baseball cap.

Camping on the slopes and among the trees by night, and dropping by rural settlements in the day, he has spoken to health workers in various regions and inspected several border posts.

Whenever he finishes a tour and arrives back in the capital of Thimpu, he quarantines himself in a hotel according to protocol, said Reuters.

The monarch is immensely popular among the people of Bhutan. He's known for traveling to meet and discuss the country's policies with his people. When he took the throne in 2006, he relinquished his absolute powers to turn Bhutan into a constitutional monarchy as part of a democratization process.

"When the king travels for miles and knocks... to alert people about the pandemic, then his humble words are respected and taken very seriously," Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering told Reuters.

"His Majesty's presence is far more powerful than just issuing public guidelines," said Tshering, who accompanies the 41-year-old king on his trips.

According to the royal Facebook page, the king is concerned by a recent "large number" of community infections in the region.

Bhutan, a land-locked kingdom of 700,000 people that is surrounded by China and India, is one of the world's most mountainous countries with an average elevation of 8,000 feet. Its southern neighbor, India, has been battling one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in the world but Bhutan has had relatively few cases.

As of June 28, Bhutan has reported 2,052 Covid-19 cases and one death caused by the coronavirus.

As a Covid precaution, Bhutan closed its borders to all but essential travel in April.

However, there is concern about "frequent interactions between people across the porous border" with India, according to the royal Facebook page.

"(The king) has been to all high-risk border areas time and again to monitor every measure put in place and to ensure best practices are followed within limited resources," Rui Paulo de Jesus, the World Health Organization representative in Bhutan told Reuters.

Bhutan is currently struggling with a severe vaccine shortage. While it managed to provide around 90% of the country with one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, it does not currently have enough doses to ensure that its citizens receive a second dose.

The government is contemplating offering mixed doses of another vaccine to residents. Both Canada and Spain have already approved mixing vaccines, and studies have shown that taking the Pfizer vaccine as a second dose to the Astrazeneca vaccine is safe.

Additional Info

  • Source YouAreUNLTD Magazine.

Stress, jet lag, cramped airplane seats, new foods and exhaustion all conspire to test your physical limits. Globe Aware volunteers can avoid these travel symptoms by following these helpful tips!


 

How to deal with vacation constipation, swelling and other travel symptoms

A. Pawlowski
July 2, 2021
TODAY

Travel can do wonders for the soul. It can also do a number on your body.

The very word originates from “travail,” or “painful or laborious effort,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Painful, indeed, as stress, jet lag, cramped airplane seats, new foods and exhaustion all conspire to test your physical limits.

Almost 48 million Americans are expected to travel during the 2021 Fourth of July holiday period — from Thursday through Monday — the second most traveled Independence Day holiday weekend since AAA began tracking the numbers. This represents a near return to pre-pandemic levels and an increase of almost 40% compared to 2020, the organization said.

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Here are common symptoms you may experience while traveling this summer and tips to stay healthy during your journey:

1. Vacation constipation

You may notice your bathroom habits change quite a bit once you hit the road. When a regular routine suddenly becomes anything but, it can cause discomfort and concern.

“Many people experience constipation when they travel,” said NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar.

There are several possible reasons why.

Eating habits: You may be eating less fiber and drinking less water, all of which contributes to travel constipation, Azar noted. Try to stay well hydrated and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

Disruption of your daily routine: Maybe you’re waking up later or skipping a favorite workout. Try to re-establish your everyday rhythm, she advised. If you’re used to having a bowel movement in the morning, try and recreate the setting for that to happen with a similar meal or exercise routine you would normally have at home.

Jet lag: When zipping through time zones turns night into morning and morning into night, it will take a few days to get your system back on track.

“Safe toilet syndrome:” Psychology plays a role, too. Your body has to relax to go to the bathroom, but that’s hard when you’re in a new, unfamiliar environment, causing irregularity when you’re away from home, Dr. Mehmet Oz told Oprah.com. Then, there’s "shy bowel" syndrome, or the fear of going to the bathroom when other people are nearby. Public restrooms on planes, in airports and hotels may cause some travelers to “hold it in,” further disrupting their routine.

2. Menstrual cycle changes

Many women find a trip abroad will delay or shorten their period, or even cause them to skip a cycle, so don’t be surprised if the timing is a little unusual.

The menstrual cycle is controlled by the coordinated secretion of different hormones, which can be affected by changes in your circadian rhythm, or your internal body clock, Azar said. Jet lag really messes with your body, including the reproductive system.

“In other words, a shift in your body clock can cause a change in reproductive hormones that affect ovulation and menstruation,” she noted.

“Keep this in mind when you travel if you are NOT planning a pregnancy!”

3. Swollen legs, feet or hands

This is particularly common with air travel, or any other mode of transportation that forces you to sit still for long periods of time. Our bodies are designed to move to help blood flow, so when you stop moving during a long flight, your blood tends to pool in your legs.

“Our calf muscles are a very efficient pump for squeezing the veins and pushing blood back to our heart,” said Dr. Gregory Piazza, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“When we’re sedentary, we lose that calf muscle pump.”

That may put some travelers at risk for deep vein thrombosis, or a blood clot that forms in a vein in your leg. If it breaks loose, it can travel into the heart and lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism, a dangerous condition that could be deadly.

Developing DVT could affect people hours and days after a flight, Piazza said. Watch for symptoms like cramping or some other discomfort in the leg, redness or purple discoloration, swelling or difficulty walking.

To keep your blood moving, he suggested the following tips:

  • If you’ve had blood clots before, consider wearing compression stockings.
  • Drink enough non-alcoholic fluids so that you have to urinate once an hour on the plane.
  • Get up and walk at least once an hour, which should already be happening if you’re drinking enough fluids and have to get up to go to the lavatory.
  • Try calf exercises and foot pumps to help enhance the calf muscle pump action.

Dehydration and diet indiscretions during your trip can also lead to swelling, Azar noted. Lay off the salt in your meals and drink plenty of fluids.

4. Skin breakouts

Your flawless complexion suddenly sports blemishes and bumps as you explore a new destination.

“I hear that all the time from people,” said Dr. Carolyn Jacob, founder and medical director of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology.

Jacob suspects it happens because travel is stressful to your system or because you may be eating differently than at home.

Dr. Julie Karen, a board certified dermatologist in New York, believes a lot of the changes are environmental.

“There’s increased pollution for certain cities and that can accumulate on the skin and lead to further inflammation and pimples,” she said.

You may also be using different products than you’re used to — a hotel-supplied moisturizer or soap, for example — which may affect your skin differently, both experts said. Or you skip your usual cleansing routine.

Traveling with face wipes is a good idea. Don’t forget to drink lots of water on planes, where the environment is dry. And consider packing one more item in your bag: your own pillow case.

“The pillow case you come into contact with (in a hotel) may not be as clean or cleaned in the same way as yours at home,” Karen said.

Happy, healthy travels.

Additional Info

  • Source NBC Today Show

The new CDC travel guidelines now include specific recommendations for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. Globe Aware volunteers should continue to check their destination's page to stay updated on travel restrictions.


CDC Travel Guidelines Relax for More than 100 Countries

France, Japan, and Mexico are among the destinations with revised guidelines.

BY SHANNON MCMAHON
June 9, 2021

On Monday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its coronavirus travel guidelines for over 100 countries “to better differentiate countries with severe outbreak situations from countries with sustained, but controlled, COVID-19 spread,” the agency said on its website. The new CDC travel guidelines now include specific recommendations for both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers.

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The 110 changes includes 61 places that have been downgraded from the highest Level 4 status to a Level 3, plus 50 more lowered to Levels 1 and 2, reports Reuters. The U.S. State Department has mirrored the CDC changes by lowering 85 of its own travel advisories for countries including Japan ahead of the Olympics, but told Reuters it did not lower all 110 advisories after taking into consideration "commercial flight availability, restrictions on U.S. citizen entry, and impediments to obtaining COVID test results within three calendar days." (Returning to the United States still requires a COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours in advance.)

Countries downgraded to a Level 1, for “low” COVID-19 risk, include Singapore, Israel, South Korea, Iceland, and Belize. Level 2 “moderate-risk” countries include Barbados, Bermuda, Cambodia, Mauritius, Uganda, and Zambia. Countries downgraded from Level 4 ("very high" risk) to a Level 3 “high” COVID-19 risk include Ecuador, France, the Philippines, South Africa, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Honduras, Hungary, and Italy.

The new rankings are a result of revised criteria for each tier, with the highest Level 4 now assigned to destinations with 500 cases per 100,000 (more lenient than the previous 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 benchmark). For Level 3 and 4 destinations, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid non-essential travel, and be fully vaccinated (two weeks out from their final shot) if they do visit. Level 2 advises travelers are fully vaccinated, and that "unvaccinated travelers who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should avoid nonessential travel to the these destinations." Level 1 only advises that travelers be fully vaccinated.

CDC travel guidelines do not take into account the country or territory's restrictions for Americans, however. Singapore, for example, which is classified under the lowest level, does not permit anyone traveling from outside Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Macau to enter without quarantining for 21 days. Japan is classified as Level 3 by both the CDC and State Department ahead of next month's year-delayed Olympic Games in Tokyo, though the Games will not allow foreign spectators to attend.

Regions where non-U.S. citizens are still barred from entering the U.S. despite very low COVID-19 case loads, including China, certain European nations, the U.K., and South Africa, could potentially see those restrictions removed following “an interagency conversation" that is "looking at the data in real time as to how we should move forward," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told Reuters. The Biden administration is reportedly working with those countries toward reopening travel after more than one year of restrictions.

We’re reporting on how COVID-19 impacts travel on a daily basis. Find our latest coronavirus coverage here, or visit our complete guide to COVID-19 and travel.

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

Over the years, this couple has visited everywhere from Rome and Iceland, recreating scenes from famous films! Have our Globe Aware volunteers ever done this before on a volunteer vacation!?


The couple who travel the world recreating movie scenes

Tamara Hardingham-Gill
CNN
June 25, 2021

(CNN) — After going on several big trips together as a couple, Robin Lachhein and Judith Schneider, both from Frankfurt, Germany, wanted to do something extra special for their next vacation.

They talked through various potential ideas before coming up with something that excited both of them -- traveling to a movie location and recreating a famous scene.

In 2014, they visited Prague and re-enacted a clip from the 1996 film "Mission: Impossible," making sure to document the moment on camera.

Over the next few years, Lachhein and Schneider visited everywhere from Rome and Iceland, to New York and even Utah, recreating scenes or promotional shots from films like "Thelma and Louise," "The Hunger Games," "Eat Pray Love," "The Devil Wears Prada" as well as TV series such as "Game of Thrones" and "Downton Abbey."

movie couple

In 2018, the pair launched an Instagram account, Secret Famous Places, where they share their re-enactments alongside stills from the movies that inspired their shoots.

The account now has nearly 40,000 followers, with the likes of Oscar winners Hilary Swank and Marion Cotillard among those posting in the comments section.

Lachhein, 32 and Schneider, 31, who met at a friend's birthday party 11 years ago, say they're thrilled that their slightly unusual hobby is gaining such attention, particularly as they never planned to share the images with the world.

"First we just want to take the pictures for our living room, so we could have great memories from the spots we'd visited," Lachhein tells CNN Travel. "But more and more people reacted to these pictures."

According to Lachhein, some of their friends assumed the images had been Photoshopped, and were stunned to learn that they'd actually traveled to the spots featured in the movies, dressed up as the characters and taken their photos at an identical angle.

"We were laughing when we first talked about dressing up like the actors, because that's a lot of work," says Schneider. "But then we gave it a try."

They also go to great pains to make sure that the angle is as close to the original picture as possible.

"You have to get the right angle, the right perspective and stand in exactly the spot where the actor or actress was standing," explains Lachhein.

The first shoot they did didn't quite go to plan. After dressing up in their costumes, putting on the appropriate make up and going to the Charles Bridge in Prague to mirror a pose from Tom Cruise in the first of the "Mission: Impossible" movies, it began to rain uncontrollably.

Lachhein and Schneider had little choice but to turn back and reconvene the following day. Thankfully they were eventually able to get the shot they needed, and soon began planning other movie location trips.

However, recreating an iconic film or TV scene isn't as simple as just turning up at the location one day and pulling out a camera.

The couple often have to do a lot of planning in order to determine exactly where the spot featured in the sequence they want to focus on is, as well as how to get there.

They walked for hours to get to the spot where Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling dance in the 2016 film "La La Land," while villagers were on hand to help them find a specific rock in New Zealand from the 2008 action-adventure movie "10,000 BC."

"If it's not that big a movie, then it's a little bit difficult," explains Lachhein. "Then there's many hours of research on Google Maps trying to find the overview of the area."

On some occasions they've had to gain permission to take photos in a particular place, as was the case when the pair re-enacted scenes from 2020 movie "Tenet" at Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, Italy and "Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones" at Lake Como.

Then there's the small matter of making sure they have clothes identical to those worn by the film or TV characters they're posing as.

"We always try to use things we already have so that we don't buy a lot of stuff," says Schneider, recounting how they made a necklace out of a piece of steel for a particular scene from "Star Wars".

"Or we borrow from our friends. Sometimes it's very easy, you might need jeans, white shoes and a shirt. But for something like 'Game of Thrones', it's very complicated. We have to improvise a lot."

One of the most popular images on their account is a recreation of a sequence from the 1994 movie "Forrest Gump" taken in Monument Valley, in which they enlisted a group of travelers to stand in the background to make it look more authentic.

If the place they need to feature happens to be in a popular tourist spot, such as the bench from 2014 film "The Fault In Our Stars" starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, which is located next to the Leidsegracht canal in Amsterdam, getting the image they need can be even more challenging.

"There were a lot of people who wanted to sit there," says Schneider. "So we waited, and waited until it was empty."

Their painstakingly precise efforts have proved to be a hit on Instagram, with Swank giving the account her seal of approval when she commented, "That's incredible!" on their image from her 2007 movie "P.S. I Love You," which also starred Gerard Butler.

However, Welsh actor Tom Cullen, who played Viscount Gillingham in "Downton Abbey" was the first star to post a message, writing "nailed it" on their image mirroring a scene from the popular ITV show captured outside Highclere Castle in the UK.

"At that moment, we had maybe three pictures and 300 followers or something like that," says Schneider. "So that was very nice [of him]."

As they both work full time, Lachhein and Schneider plan their trips within the six weeks vacation time they're allotted each year.

Although some of their followers have assumed the pair's trips are financed by their families, they stress that they pay for everything themselves and don't earn any money from their pictures.

They try to avoid Photoshop as much as possible so that the photos are a true depiction of the location, but admit to occasionally using filters and/or altering colors in order to enhance an image.

While the couple don't necessarily choose their vacation destinations based on the movies they want to create, Lachhein admits that the prospect of visiting the filming location for 2010 movie "Inception" played a big part in their decision to go to Paris in 2017.

"'Inception' is my favorite movie. I wanted to create this scene with Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard at the [Pont de Bir-​Hakeim] bridge looking at the Eiffel Tower.

"So then we had to go to Paris. And we combined the trip with different movies and series."

They've been particularly touched by the trouble that some of the locals have gone to to ensure they get the exact image they need.

"People are so proud that these filming locations are in their city," explains Schneider. "And they try to help us a lot. They are so kind."

While the pandemic has put many of their foreign trips on pause for a while, the couple have been able to travel around Germany shooting images, and also paid a visit to Italy last summer, when travel restrictions were briefly lifted.

Despite recreating around 100 movie and TV scenes, they have many more on their wish list.

They hope to visit London in the coming months, as well as New York and Australia, when international travel reopens.

"The list [of locations] is long," says Schneider. "I think we will spend quite a few more years doing this."

Additional Info

  • Source Self

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.”

Additional Info

  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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

city 3525093 1920

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.

denver 790472 1920

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.”

Additional Info

  • 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."

mask 5008678 1920 1

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.

maldives

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.

French Polynesia

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.

machu picchu

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.

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  • 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
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