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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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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.

Monday, 30 August 2021 13:13

Zimbabwe

PLEASE NOTE: MINIMUM TWO PERSON REGISTRATION

You will be staying at a small town called Dete, which is 2 hours south of the magnificent Victoria Falls and on the edge of Hwange National Park. Hwange is by far the largest Park in Zimbabwe with a huge and varied quantity of animals and birds. The park is unfenced so animals particularly elephant, Cape Buffalo and impala do wander in to the town and occasionally the school grounds. Despite the wonderful wildlife experiences the area is uncrowded (Covid friendly!), compared with the Serengeti or similar park in East Africa. Yet, due to the disastrous economic situation in Zimbabwe the poaching of animals for subsistence meat, is a curse.

With the present mass unemployment, accentuated by the Covid pandemic has lead to a general impoverishment of the rural community. Unfortunately, due to desperation the small town of Dete, bordering the National Park, has become a breeding ground for poachers who kill wildlife for the illegal bushmeat trade, or for illegal trading in elephant ivory. By offering alternative solutions we endeavor to create employment opportunities and encourage the general upliftment of locals thereby curtailing the poaching of precious wildlife, and offering a brighter future for all concerned.

Work Projects

All groups will work a variety of projects such as:

  1. Refurbishment and painting of walls and ceilings of classrooms.
  2. Planting, protection and watering of new saplings in the school premises.
  3. Building and maintaining roof water storage.
  4. Removing alien vegetation.
  5. Manually sinking a water borehole, subject to water diviner.
  6. Building a vegetable garden.

Larger groups will also be doing projects such as:

  1. Building of new classroom in an overcrowded school where the Entrance Foyer is used to house two classrooms which are open to the weather elements. We are unlikely to be able to tackle the entire new build within the time frame, but this will enable at least the level and pouring of the new foundation with volunteers.
  2. Erection of perimeter fencing.

Leisure Activities

Game Drives and Game Walks in the National Park available daily with armed Rangers, visit magnificent Victoria Falls – worlds largest waterfall, Water Rafting on River Zambezi, Bungee Jump, Sunset Cruise on River Zambezi

Accommodations

Depending on group size, groups will be staying one of two 3-star lodges, situated in under 8 miles from the project site which offers ensuite chalets, bungalows, camping, bar, restaurant, etc.

Arrival and Meetup

Fly in and out of Victoria Falls International Airport with a two-hour drive to and from Dete. You will be met at the airport on Saturday, prior to drive to Dete.

Thursday, 26 August 2021 11:52

Now This Is Revenge Travel

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.

plane 1030900 1920

“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.

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.

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