Super User

Super User

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.

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.

bhutan 2825919 1920

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.

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.

ian schneider jk8rarn6lmw unsplash

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.

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.

jeshoots com mSESwdMZr A unsplash

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.

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."

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.

la boca 2673956 1920

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.”

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.

mountains and hills 5112952 1920

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.

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.

aircraft 3702676 1920

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

Back to top