Globe Aware volunteers may be surprised to learn we are adding a third volunteer vacation program to the two African countries that pop up on this list, can you guess which one?

These Are 10 Most Travel-Friendly Countries In Africa To Explore

MAY 28, 2023

Africa is an extraordinary destination, and these countries are some of the most travel-friendly for people wanting to explore the African continent.

Africa is a vast continent home to over a billion people and some 56 countries. It is diverse, and it is ancient. It is a place that everyone should visit if they have the chance. Plus, North Africa is extremely different from Sub-Saharan Africa and is often treated separately.

This article will only mention travel-friendly countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and not those of North Africa (like Morocco and Egypt). The list of travel-friendly nations in Africa can change over time (e.g., Ethiopia was one of the best destinations in Africa before the civil war broke out there three years ago).

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10 South Africa: The Most Developed Country In Africa

South Africa stands out from much of the rest of Africa for being well-developed in many respects (development is spread unevenly). The country is the top destination in Sub-Saharan Africa and is home to some of the best national parks in Africa to visit (such as the famous Kruger National Park).

South Africa is diverse and boasts many incredible attractions - from the quaint coastal city of Cape Town to the dramatic Garden Route.

9 Kenya: Superb National Parks & Pristine Beaches

Kenya is one of the most developed nations in East Africa and is one of the most popular destinations on the African continent. Kenya boasts reasonable infrastructure for the region and has some of the greatest national parks in the region (such as Maasai Mari - the northern extension of the Serengeti). The Serengeti is one of the most incredible places to see African wildlife.

8 Tanzania: The Setting Of The Lion King

Disney's The Lion King was set in the Serengeti of Tanzania. Like Kenya, Tanzania is a very welcoming nation with some of the top national parks in Africa. One of the gems of Tanzania is the autonomous island of Zanzibar. Zanzibar is a remarkable tropical beach destination with an influence from historic Arab traders.

7 Namibia: The Best Place In Africa For A Road Trip

Namibia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Here, travelers explore the vast open deserts and countless hidden gems of the Kalahari Desert and the Atlantic Coast. See shipwrecks, the incredible Etosha National Park (which offers some of the most affordable safaris in Africa), ghost towns (such as Kolmanskop), and more.

Namibia, like South Africa, is one of the best places to rent a 4WD and explore the nation on a self-guided road trip.

6 Botswana: Home Of Herds Of Elephants

Botswana is one of the most stable countries in Africa and has long been a favorite for remarkable road trips. Botswana is home to an exceptionally large number of elephants, and the country takes conservation very seriously. On the downside, Botswana is also known to be one of the more expensive destinations in Africa.

5 Rwanda: The Jewel In The Heart Of Africa

Rwanda is one of the safest and most well-run countries in Africa (even if it has a traumatic past). Today, it is one of the top destinations to see the lush interior of Africa and go Mountain Gorilla trekking. Rwanda is a more expensive destination but one that is well set up for receiving international visitors.

4 Senegal: One Of The Most Stable Countries In West Africa

Most of the popular tourist destinations in Africa are in the East and the South of the continent. Few people bother to visit West Africa, and many of the nations of that region suffer from instability. Senegal is one of the most stable and travel-friendly countries in West Africa and offers a peek into a less-visited part of Africa.

3 Seychelles: A Tropical Island Paradise

Not all of the countries of Africa are actually on the continent. The Seychelles is a small island nation just off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. It is one of the world's premier tropical island resort destinations that manages to draw visitors from across the world. It is also one of the safest countries in Africa to visit.

2 Zambia: See The Largest Waterfall In The World

Zambia may not be high on many people's lists, but it is a rewarding country with a very friendly population. In the north, visitors can see the awe-inspiring Bat Migration, while in the south, on the border with Zimbabwe, visitors can see Victoria Falls - the largest waterfall in the world.

The gateway is the town of Livingstone, and it is one of the few African cities where it is possible to see zebra and even elephants wandering down the streets.

Victoria Falls is the world's largest waterfall. However, most people don't know that the Denmark Strait Cataract is the tallest waterfall in the world (and it's found deep underwater!).

1 Eswatini (Swaziland): The Forgotten Gem Beside South Africa

South Africa is also a great base to explore other countries in Southern Africa - such as Lesotho and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). Eswatini is a tiny country that few bother to visit. It is located just next to South Africa, and its people are extremely welcoming to foreigners. It is arguably one of the forgotten gems of Africa and definitely worth seeing when looking for less touristy places in Africa to visit.

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  • Source The Travel

Globe Aware volunteers can check out these off-the-beaten-path summer destinations that remain hidden gems, including one volunteer vacation destination in South America!

10 Summer Travel Destinations That Are Still Hidden Gems

May 29 2023

Escape the crowds this summer by booking a trip to a destination that remains relatively unknown or isn't as popular during this peak travel season.

Finding a unique destination to visit during the summer months when everyone is taking advantage of school holidays is challenging. Popular cities like Paris, with its iconic shopping streets, and Venice, with its famous canals, are overwhelmed with travelers during July and August, making them less attractive to those who prefer to get off the tourist trail.

Fortunately, there are still some hidden gems to explore in summer. Check out these off-the-beaten-path summer destinations that remain hidden gems.

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10 Kiruna, Sweden

While everyone is heading to Stockholm (which offers plenty to do) for some summer sunshine, travelers seeking seclusion and unique experiences can head to Sweden’s far north in the city of Kiruna, which is one of the less-visited summer vacation destinations in Europe to visit. Explore Abisko National Park and experience the midnight sun.

  • Top Thing To Do There: Visit Abisko National Park
  • Average Daytime High In July: 17ºC
  • Closest International Airport: Kiruna Airport (KRN)

9 Thessaloniki, Greece

The Greek islands are booming with tourism during July and August, so mainland Greece is the ideal choice for a Greek vacation without crowds. Skip Athens in favor of lesser-visited Thessaloniki (which still offers plenty of things to do and see).

  • Top Thing To Do There: Visit the White Tower of Thessaloniki
  • Average Daytime High In July: 32ºC
  • Closest International Airport: Thessaloniki Airport Makedonia (SKG)

8 Berat, Albania

Albania doesn’t get as much attention from visitors as nearby Croatia and Greece, yet it shares a similar climate and gorgeous landscapes. Travelers who want a quiet summer getaway on a budget should add Berat to their list. Not only is this one of the most affordable cities in Europe to visit, but it's also among the least crowded.

  • Top Thing To Do There: Visit Berat Castle
  • Average Daytime High In July: 32ºC
  • Closest International Airport: Tirana International Airport (TIA)

7 Salento, Colombia

Summer is one of the best times of year to visit Medellín, Colombia, which is among the least-crowded summer vacation destinations to visit. While there, it’s a short bus journey to Salento, a must-visit destination for coffee lovers. It’s also the gateway to Cocora Valley, where the tallest palm trees in the world grow.

  • Top Thing To Do There: Cocora Valley
  • Average Daytime High In July: 23ºC
  • Closest International Airport: El Dorado International Airport (BOG) or Jose Maria Cordova International Airport (MDE)

6 Varna, Bulgaria

Varna is a port city in Bulgaria that offers various things to do and see and is one of the least-crowded summer vacation destinations in Europe to visit. Plus, it's a hidden beach destination in Eastern Europe. While most people are heading to the Mediterranean for some summer sun, travelers can escape the crowds on the beaches of the Black Sea in Varna.

  • Top Thing To Do There: Visit the medieval Aladzha Monastery
  • Average Daytime High In July: 28ºC
  • Closest International Airport: Varna International Airport (VAR)

5 Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

Fly into Tunis and discover a hidden gem of the Mediterranean in Tunisia. Sidi Bou Said is a charming town just half an hour outside of Tunis that sits on the coast. Its whitewashed buildings and blue accents are reminiscent of Santorini, Greece.

  • Top Thing To Do There: Visit Palace Dar Nejma Ezzahra
  • Average Daytime High In July: 33ºC
  • Closest International Airport: Tunis-Carthage International Airport (TUN/DTTA)
  • Check out the various ways to enjoy visiting Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia before going.

4 Cuenca, Ecuador

Ecuador is an unassuming place to visit during the summer that sees warm temperatures and few crowds during this season. In particular, the city of Cuenca is easy for international visitors to fly into, with plenty to do and see. This spot is among the best summer vacation destinations without crowds and is primarily known for textile making, furniture, and other crafts such as shoes and hats.

Plus, the architecture in Cuenca is beautiful, while its food is definitely something to call home about. When strolling through the streets, travelers can feel the city's rich history and the indigenous peoples who inhabited the land (such as the Cañari and Incan people) before the Spaniards arrived.

  • Top Thing To Do There: Visit Calderon Park
  • Average Daytime High In July: 20ºC
  • Closest International Airport: Mariscal Lamar International Airport (CUE/SECU)

3 Riga, Latvia

Head to Eastern Europe this summer for lower prices and fewer crowds. The capital of Latvia, Riga, is one of the top hidden gem summer destinations and is a gorgeous city with a medieval old town. It sits on the Baltic Sea and has pedestrian-only streets in the historic center that are lined with boutique shops.

  • Top Thing To Do There: Shop at Riga Central Market
  • Average Daytime High In July: 24ºC
  • Closest International Airport: Riga International Airport (RIX)
  • Discover how to plan the perfect vacation to Latvia, Europe's hidden gem yet beautiful nation.

2 Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

The Perhentian Islands are located in Besut District, Terengganu, Malaysia. The two main islands in this group where travelers will want to stay are Perhentian Besar and Perhentian Kecil. Experience the sandy beaches and blue waters associated with popular South East Asian destinations like Koh Tao and Palawan without the crowds or high price tag.

All in all, these are among the best tropical islands without crowds to visit this summer but are still just as stunning as other beautiful islands around the world.

  • Top Thing To Do There: Swimming at Teluk Keke
  • Average Daytime High In July: 30ºC
  • Closest International Airport: Kuala Lumpur Airport (KUL)

1 Almaty, Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is among the most underrated vacation destinations in the world. It's starting to gain international attention in the tourism industry, but it still remains a relatively unknown destination for the average North American traveler. This means it’s the perfect time to visit this stunning destination before it starts to draw big crowds in peak season.

The summer months in Almaty are pleasant. From there, it’s approximately 9.5 hours by train to get to Lake Balkhash, the largest lake in Central Asia.

  • Top Thing To Do There: Overnight trip to swim in Lake Balkhash
  • Average Daytime High In July: 30ºC
  • Closest International Airport: Almaty International Airport (ALA/UAAA)

Additional Info

  • Source The Travel

From How To Communicate Better To Food Recommendations, these easy tips will help our Globe Aware volunteers travel like a pro!

Five things you should know before visiting Vietnam

From how to communicate better to food recommendations — these easy tips will help you prepare for your trip like a pro

April 8, 2023

One of the most attractive holiday destinations in Southeast Asia, travelling to Vietnam can be fun if you know what you’re getting yourself into beforehand. Learning all about the local customs, culture and transportation in advance will not only help avoid problems during your trip, but also make it a memorable one.

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1. When to visit

Being a Southeast Asian country, the first thing about Vietnam you should take into consideration are its seasons. It has a tropical monsoon climate. The weather is hot, humid and sultry with an adequate dose of Vitamin D during the day with an average temperature of 26-28°C. However, during winters, Vietnam gets quite chilly with a strong breeze and the temperature ranging between 18°C and 23°C. The best time to visit the country is between November and April, ensuring you soak in the warmth of the sun while also enjoying the cool weather.

2. Local Transport

Book your flights in advance to save a few bucks on the flight fares. While most metro cities in India have flights to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, try to get a direct flight to avoid long flying times. Make sure you have a car to pick you up at the airport because many flights out of Kolkata can reach the cities late at night when transportation could be a challenge.

Remember, it is best to rent a car via your travel agent or hotel along with a guide because taxis can be very expensive for short rides. Though it’s legal for foreigners to hire motorbikes that are 50cc or less, it is best to avoid that because of the lack of familiarity with Vietnam’s road rules. You can also walk around the streets to experience the local culture.

3. Communicate better with a translation app

While Vietnam is ready for all the tourism it is getting, language can be quite a barrier. You may come across local people who could speak phrases of English, but it is better not to count on it. Most of the locals depend on Google Translate to communicate with foreigners in English. The best thing to do would be to buy a local sim card at the airport — the service providers have many data plans for you to choose from and are quite pocket friendly (Rs 2,000-4,000) depending on the kind of plan you opt for. The best part? Accessibility to the internet when you’re out exploring via Google Maps. It will make for a much more pleasant experience than getting lost in a city that does not speak your language.

4. Food restrictions

If you’re a vegetarian, Vietnam is probably not a country where you can binge to your heart’s content. The food culture here is heavy on seafood and meat. They only seem to consume vegetables as an accessory to their mains — afterall, this country does put eggs in their coffee too! However, the country has convenience stores at every corner. Much like Thailand’s 7-Eleven, Vietnam has Circle K stores. The convenience stores have a lot of snacks like chips, ready-to-eat sausages, fresh bakery breads, a wide variety of instant ramens and dairy products like flavoured milks and yoghurts for you to feast on. You could also visit European-style restaurants and cafes for vegetarian meals and snacks like crepes. Try a variety of tofu stir-fried dishes along with salads to get a taste of the local cuisine.

5. How much to tip

Like in every other tourist destination, tipping is always appreciated in a developing country like Vietnam. Though it is not mandatory, your local tour guide, driver and hotel staff may sometimes try to coerce you into paying tips. However, we recommend you hold your ground and tip only if you want to. Also, the amount should be entirely a personal preference.

Additional Info

  • Source My Kolkata

Here's what our Globe Aware volunteer vacations should know ahead of what's expected to be one of the busiest weekends for Memorial Day travel yet!

Over 40 million Americans will be traveling for Memorial Day: Here’s how you can prepare

Here’s what you should know ahead of what’s expected to be one of the busiest weekends for Memorial Day travel yet

By Ashley Nash
May 19, 2023

Memorial Day 2023 is expected to bring a record-breaking busy travel weekend. Here’s how travelers can prepare.

According to the AAA’s Memorial Day 2023 travel report, the post-pandemic summer travel boom is showing no signs of slowing down. Over Memorial Day weekend of 2023, AAA predicts that 42.3 million Americans will be traveling at least 50 miles from home over the holiday weekend.

Even though a busy holiday weekend is on the forecast, travelers can still make smart and efficient moves to ensure the best Memorial Day travel possible. Here’s what travelers should know before hitting the road this month.

Air travel: AAA says that 3.4 million travelers are expected to get to their destinations by plane, an increase of 11% from last year and 5.4% more than in 2019. The holiday weekend is expected to be the busiest airport weekend since 2005.

Booking morning flights is likely to result in a higher flight success rate, according to CNN. Nonstop flights are also more likely to be completed without delays or disruptions.

After observing TSA data from the week of Memorial Day for the past two years, NerdWallet found that the Friday before the holiday and the Sunday after were the busiest travel days over Memorial Day weekend, followed by the Thursday before the holiday and the Friday after.

Your summer road trip kit

Although Memorial Day flights are likely already booked, if traveling on the busiest days, flyers should arrive at the airport early to allow time for long TSA lines. It may also help to brush up on TSA guidelines and ensure your luggage and belongings are properly prepared before getting to the airport. The slowest holiday travel days are expected to be the Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday before Memorial Day, and the Wednesday, Saturday, and Tuesday after the holiday, per NerdWallet.

Road travel: Friday, May 26, is expected to be the busiest day on the road, according to AAA, and the lightest days will be Saturday and Sunday. If traveling on Friday, drivers should allow extra time for traffic delays, especially around major metros and popular travel destinations.

The worst times to travel by car are Thursday and Friday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. before the holiday. After the holiday, roads are expected to be busiest on Monday, May 29, from noon to 3 p.m., and Tuesday from 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

To avoid traffic on the way to your holiday travel destination, AAA says the best time to hit the road is in the morning, preferably before noon. After Memorial Day, AAA predicts roads will be clearest on Monday before 10 a.m. and on Tuesday before 2 p.m. and after 6 p.m.

The metro areas that are expected to have the biggest travel delays, according to AAA, are Boston, New York City, Seattle and Tampa. Road-trippers can watch local traffic data to monitor road delays. It may also be helpful to explore alternate routes to destinations that might not be as heavily trafficked.

If traveling within a city over the weekend, taking public transit or carpooling may also allow travelers to beat or ease the traffic — just be aware of holiday schedules.

National parks: For those itching to get outside, a national park may be on the holiday weekend travel itinerary. However, it’s important to be prepared for crowds and know of any reservation systems in place at the parks.

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According to Travel in USA, the following parks require reservations to enter:

  • Arches National Park.
  • Zion National Park.
  • Yosemite National Park.
  • Acadia National Park.
  • Glacier National Park.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Shenandoah National Park.
  • Haleakala National Park.
  • Red Rock Canyon National Park.
  • Within some of these parks, certain trails, roads or landmarks may have a reservation or permit system in place. Before arriving at a park, travelers should see if their planned destinations have any requirements upon entry.

For last-minute travel planners, it may be helpful to know which parks will be busiest. According to CNN, the following parks are the busiest in the country, and will likely be crowded over the holiday weekend. If traveling to any of these parks, expect crowds, and allow plenty of time for delays.

Busiest national parks:

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • Grand Canyon National Park.
  • Zion National Park.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Acadia National Park.
  • Yosemite National Park.
  • Yellowstone National Park.
  • Joshua Tree National Park.
  • Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
  • Glacier National Park.

Additional Info

  • Source Desert News

These off-the-beaten-path destinations are for seekers of cloudy days and cool breezes. You might be surprised to find this particular Globe Aware volunteer vacation on the list!

20 Cool Destinations for When You Just Can't Take the Summer Heat

Escape the dog days with a breezy vacation.

By Andrea Romano
April 29, 2023

Summer is a time for lounging on the sand, soaking up rays, swimming in the surf, and strolling boardwalks with ice cream in hand — unless you're averse to the sweat, sunburn, and general discomfort that comes along with the heat. These off-the-beaten-path summer vacations, from New Zealand to Greenland, are for seekers of cloudy days and cool breezes. Book your travels in one of these destinations to escape the dreaded dog days to come.

Destinations in the U.S.

It's not easy finding a place in the U.S. that's consistently comfortable during summer. Mountainous and coastal destinations are your best bet for cool(er) temperatures. Here are four safe options.

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Denali National Park, Alaska

Alaska is the perfect place for fans of mild summers. Instead of sweating it out, venture north to stunning Denali National Park, where temperatures peak around 66 degrees in July, the warmest month. Visitors can explore the park’s six million acres, drive the scenic Denali Park Road, admire the many snow-capped peaks from viewpoints and hiking trails, and look for "the big five" — moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, and grizzly bears. There are six campgrounds throughout the park where you can pitch a tent in comfortable temperatures.

San Francisco, California

The fog in San Francisco is so constant that it has a name: Karl. Low-lying clouds over this metropolis block out the sun that keeps nearby cities hot. In July, daily highs are around 70 degrees. Many around California will flock to the Bay Area for refuge from the heat during summer, so you certainly won't be alone as you snap photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, take in the seaside vibes at Fisherman’s Wharf, or dine at Pier 39.

North Cascades National Park, Washington

Washington's North Cascades are a quick and cool getaway from Seattle, about two hours away. Snow only just melts from the highest-elevation trails by July, so this is the time when you get the most access to the park. July highs in the North Cascades are around 68 degrees, but the climate depends largely on where you are in the park. The National Park Service says the west side remains cooler than the east side, which lies in a rain shadow and can get up to 90 degrees. So, if you're looking for the lowest temperatures, stick to the hiking trails around Mount Baker–Snoqualmie National Forest and the Mount Baker Wilderness on those western slopes.

White Mountains, New Hampshire

New Hampshire's White Mountains comprise stunning alpine peaks cloaked in forest. The higher you go, the cooler it will be. While low elevations see summer temperatures in the mid-70s and sometimes higher, the high points are perpetually chilly, sometimes not even shedding their layers of snow until well into July. Temperatures on Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast, range from about 40 to 55 degrees at the height of summer. Visitors can climb out of the heat by foot on the many hiking trails or drive up the slopes on the scenic Kancamagus Highway.

International Destinations

It's much easier to find cool temperatures abroad. Below the equator, the seasons are flipped. So, if you're craving a week or two of pure winter, you can head down to the Southern Hemisphere. And if not, far-north destinations remain mild in the summer.

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Summers in this East Coast province are short and pleasantly chilly, with July highs in the capital, St. Johns, rarely exceeding 69 degrees. In the city — Newfoundland and Labrador's largest — visitors can admire the hilltop castle-like structure that is Cabot Tower or go for a night out on the entertainment-rich town. Outside of the city, you'll find hiking paths galore providing stunning ocean views and a feeling of remoteness. Further up the coast, it's not uncommon to peep icebergs offshore, adding to the cool-weather mood.


Although the sun doesn't actually set from May to July in the "Land of the Midnight Sun," travelers should not be fooled by Norway's long summer days. You might not even break a sweat while out exploring the iconic blue fjords, as summer temperatures in this Scandinavian country hover around the mid-60s in the north and along the coast (the daily high in Tromsø is even lower, topping out at 59 degrees). In addition to the virtually endless natural sites, visitors should visit Oslo for a more metropolitan experience. Its location on the North Sea makes it mild and breezy.


Iceland maintains a pretty nice chill throughout the year, with average July temperatures in the southern part of the country (including the capital, Reykjavík) ranging from 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Summers are good for dipping into the famous geothermal springs and going for hikes to glaciers and misty waterfalls. They're also the best time of year to explore the highlands, which are impassable in the winter. Like Norway, Iceland experiences the midnight sun. With 18 to 24 hours of light per day, you'll have plenty of time to sightsee.


Maximum summer temperatures from June through August in Scotland range from a refreshing 59 to 63 degrees, keeping visitors cool as they castle hop, hike in the Highlands, traverse the dramatic coastlines, and search for the tastiest haggis. Like its Scandinavian neighbors to the northeast, Scotland experiences extra-long days in the summer; Visit Scotland notes that the far north of the country gets four more hours of sun per day than London. That gives tourists lots of daylight for seeing Edinburgh's historical sights, day tripping to Loch Lomond, and getting out to the otherworldly Isle of Skye during their visit.

South Island, New Zealand

Go to New Zealand's South Island during Southern Hemisphere winter for a coat-wearing climate and access to winter sports. The Southern Lakes region — namely Queenstown and Wanaka — is a skier's paradise, and the West Coast is home to glaciers upon glaciers. Meanwhile, on the east coast, Kaikoura offers some of the best whale watching from June to August, when temperatures across the South Island generally range from 53 to 61 degrees.

Falls Creek, Victoria, Australia

Victoria's largest skiable area, Falls Creek Alpine Resort reaches only about 33 degrees maximum in July, the peak of Australian winter. It takes a bit of effort to get to — prepare to drive six hours from Melbourne — but you'll get some of Australia's finest powder while those in the Northern Hemisphere bask in the sun. This place is great for families because of the range of activities and constant entertainment. When you aren't skiing, you can go tobogganing, watch the weekly fireworks display, snowshoe, get a massage, or dine out in the picturesque village.

Garzón, Uruguay

Summer trips to the Southern Hemisphere don't have to involve snow. This historic village in Uruguay (deemed a ghost town by some) offers mild 60-degree days in the middle of July, a perfect environment for sampling the cuisine that makes it a top foodie destination. The highlight here is, of course, Restaurante Garzón, founded by Francis Mallmann, the Argentine celebrity chef from Chef's Table. Things to do besides eat include winery hopping and hot-air balloon rides.

Patagonia, Argentina

Patagonia is a popular hiking destination during its peak tourist season, but wintertime is an ideal time to visit this Argentine wonderland for skiing. July sees average temperatures in the 30s and no shortage of precipitation, to the delight of year-round powder hounds. One of the most popular skiing destinations in Patagonia is Cerro Catedral, just 12 miles from Bariloche. On your rest day, take the cable car up Mount Otto for spectacular mountain views.

Easter Island, Chile

High temperatures average in the mid-60s during the months of June, July, and August on Easter Island, a territory of Chile. While you’re there getting a close look at the island's signature long-faced statues — called "moai," and there are more than 900 of them — you can learn the fascinating history of the Rapanui, Easter Island's native people. The moai were carved as early as 1100 to represent ancestors of Polynesians who came to the island thousands of years ago.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town summers can see temperatures above 100 degrees. June to September, however, it rarely sees temps above 63, which is comfortable enough to hike Table Mountain to Maclear's Beacon, go whale watching, and see penguins at Boulders Beach (though don't plan on swimming in the water — it's frigid). On days when it's a little too cool to be outside, there are many museums and other indoor attractions to explore, plus countless restaurants contributing to Cape Town's reputation as a culinary capital.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

With July highs around 72 degrees in the Netherlands' capital city, visitors can comfortably partake in quintessentially Amsterdamian things like pedaling between sites on a city bike and cruising the canals by watercraft. Visitors should note, though, that July is Amsterdam's wettest month. Drizzly days call for museum hopping — don't miss Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House — and touring Heineken's oldest brewery.

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France

Chamonix is a world-famous winter destination, known for its snow sports and picturesque ski chalets. Don't count it out for a summer getaway, though. The resort area at the base of Mont Blanc offers July highs in the low to mid-60s, ideal for hiking in the Chamonix Valley, enjoying a French wine al fresco, and taking the gondola up to the top of Aiguille du Midi, the closest an average Joe can get to Mont Blanc without climbing it.


Ireland is known for its cloudy, rainy, moody weather, so shoot for the Emerald Isle if you're hoping for a break from relentless sun. The daily high in Dublin is about 66 degrees during the warmest month (July). This is a great place to grab a pint of Guinness, peruse the gardens at Blarney Castle, and have a picnic on Saint Stephen's Green. On the opposite coast, dramatic scenery beckons along the famed Cliffs of Moher and on the Aran Islands, a ferry ride from Galway.


Get far off the beaten path this summer with a trip to Greenland, only about 50 degrees tops from June to August. This is a nature enthusiast's fantasy vacation — the next best thing to Antarctica, perhaps — brimming with glaciers, bound by rugged coastlines, home to polar bears and walruses, and offering some of the best views of the northern lights. Of course, this isn't the easiest summer destination to visit. Most will travel there on a cruise, as flying to the island from North America means stopping over in Europe.


Slovenia is often tacked onto trips to more-popular Croatia, but this Balkan country holds its own with spectacular mountains and caves that, indeed, keep the region cool in the summer. Imagine castles spilling out of cliffsides and crisp lakes reflecting snow-capped mountains. One of the more famous bodies of water, Lake Bled, contains Slovenia's only natural island, home to a highly photogenic 17th-century church. July's average high temperature in the town of Bled is 74 degrees.

Vancouver, Canada

The mild climate is one of many things to love about Vancouver. Although it provides easy access to the world-renowned Whistler Blackcomb ski resort, its winters are without snow — and just the same, its summers are without sweltering heat. July highs hover in the comfortable 73-degree range. In addition to its year-round sites — Gastown, Stanley Park, and the Vancouver Aquarium — there are also summer festivals to plan your trip around, such as the Celebration of Light at the end of July and a rollicking Pride celebration in August.

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  • Source Self

The island of Cuba is full of surprises and bucket-list-worthy secret places, ranging from picturesque colonial towns to breathtaking natural attractions. Here's a list of the best-hidden gems, many of which are included on our Globe Aware volunteers' itinearay!

Incredible Hidden Travel Gems To Not Miss In Cuba In 2023

May 13, 2023
The Travel

There are many things to do in Cuba, but many spots can see crowds. Instead, explore these secret places in Cuba during your next visit.

Cuba is one of the most unique destinations in the Caribbean and will charm every traveler with its incredible blend of African, Spanish, and Caribbean cultures. Cuba was a popular vacation destination for Americans in the 1930s, and visiting the island takes tourists back in the day. The gorgeous colonial buildings, vintage cars, and antique shops and bars adorn the towns. The island is full of surprises and bucket-list-worthy secret places, ranging from picturesque colonial towns to breathtaking natural attractions. Want to experience the magic that comes with exploring the Caribbean Islands? Here are the best hidden gems in Cuba to add to the itinerary.

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10 Vinales Valley

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Vinales Valley is located in the countryside but is definitely one of the best things to do in Cuba in 2023. The place is incredibly green and is brimming with plenty of cultural attractions. Vinales is famous for being a major producer of Cuban cigars, and vacationers will enjoy experiencing traditional farms and learning the production and harvesting processes of cigars. This valley is also home to numerous caves with unique formations, including the Cueva del Indio. Vinales Valley is among the things that make Cuba such an amazing Caribbean Island.

Staying around Havana, Cuba’s Capital? Vinales is only a two-hour drive away from the city, making it one of the best day trips to visit. One can drive or explore other transportation options, such as taxis or public coaches.

9 Baracoa

Traveling to the Eastern tip of Cuba, Baracoa is an incredible gem not to miss in 2023; it's one of the more intriguing parts of off-the-beaten-path Cuba. The location is known for being the island’s first Spanish settlement, making it the oldest colonial city on the island. Vacationers can learn about this fascinating history, including Christopher Columbus’ trip to the place in 1492. The town's spectacular mountainside surroundings, incredible food scene, and colonial charm make it stand out from the rest of Cuba's destinations, and visiting it will definitely be worth it.

8 Cienfuegos

Situated on Cuba’s southern coast, Cienfuegos is one of the most charming coastal cities in the Caribbean, known for its fascinating colonial architecture and long, beautiful history. Discovered in 1819, Cienfuegos is one of the less crowded places in Cuba and is an incredible option for tourists looking to get a bit off the beaten path. It is home to plenty of historic buildings and sites, such as Punta Gorda, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cuba. The cultural scene is also vibrant, and travelers can experience many traditional performances when they visit. This is one of Cuba's best-kept secrets and guarantees an unforgettable trip in the Caribbean.

7 Santa Clara

Located in the central part of Cuba, Santa Clara is a charming historic city known for playing a crucial role in Cuban Revolution. Its beautiful architecture and the charm of its historic sites and buildings, such as Teatro La Caridad, Che Guevara Mausoleum and Museum, and Palacio Provincial, make it an incredible gem not to miss in Cuba in 2023. The revolutionary city is also home to plenty of music venues, impressive art galleries, and cultural sites, which are among the best things to do in Santa Clara. There are also numerous natural beauties to explore in the city.

6 Santiago De Cuba

Just south of Baracoa is Santiago de Cuba, a gorgeous coastal town with a rich history. While many vacationers focus their trips on more popular travel gems in Cuba, like Havana, Santiago de Cuba is definitely one of the reasons one will probably fall in love with Cuba, thanks to its unique experiences. It may not have Havana's metropolis vibe, but it is definitely among the most beautiful cities to explore in Cuba. It is home to a wonderful culinary scene, impressive beaches, and an amazing culture that travelers can witness in the music and dance performances from time to time.

5 Playa Jibacoa

Nestled in the heart of the Cuban countryside, Playa Jibacoa is a stunning resort positioned along a beach, believed by many to be the most beautiful beach in Cuba. Surrounded by lush hills, this is a perfect retreat for nature lovers and travelers looking to explore the local culture. It is located not far from Havana, making it a great spot to base oneself for those who want to have easy access to Cuba's capital. Diving and snorkeling are some of the most popular activities. With a colorful coral reef situated just a few meters from the shore, which means vacationers won't have to pay for an excursion or a boat ride to enjoy exploring the underwater.

Apart from enjoying a day trip from Havana, tourists can also enjoy visiting Playa Jibacoa from Varadero, another popular travel destination in Cuba.

4 Remedios

Found in Central Cuba, Remedios is a charming small town boasting incredible architecture dating back to the colonial period. Discovered in 1513, Remedios is one of the oldest towns in Cuba and is recognized for its vibrant Christmas celebrations. During the holiday season, the town is adorned with twinkling lights, while the streets are filled with Christmas parades and parties. There are numerous historic buildings, including churches, such as Iglesia de San Juan Bautista and the Parroquia Mayor. Its colonial charm and holiday traditions make it a wonderful travel gem not to miss in Cuba.

3 Camaguey

Camaguey is located in central Cuba with fascinating colonial architecture. One of the best things to do here is to stroll through the town's narrow streets and the fabulous alleys. Camaguey has numerous historic buildings and sites, such as Plaza de los Trabajadore. The historic city also boasts a cultural scene with beautiful art galleries and cultural attractions. Camaguey is one of the best Cuban destinations to learn the island's history and culture.

2 Trinidad

Trinidad dates back to 1514, making it one of the oldest towns in Cuba. A UNESCO World Heritage, this is one of the incredible hidden gems in Cuba, thanks for having numerous things to offer, including beautiful historic sites, such as the Palacio Brunet, the Plaza Mayor, and the Museo Romantico. History lovers can enjoy taking guided tours in the city to explore colonial architecture. Nature lovers can also visit the nature reserves and national parks located nearby, while culture enthusiasts will enjoy the traditional music and dance performances that take place throughout the year.

1 Playa Sirena

Situated on the gorgeous island of Cayo Largo, Playa Sirena is one of the best beaches in Cuba and is a perfect choice for tourists looking for a more secluded spot. The beach is one of the lesser-known places in Cuba and features stunning white sand, crystal-clear water, and an incredible atmosphere. Snorkeling and diving are must-do activities in Playa Sirena, thanks to a portion of the Parque Nacional Marino de Cayo, which is famous for having incredibly diverse marine life.


Additional Info

  • Source The Travel

Peru is a beautiful country with a rich heritage and is a popular destination for Globe Aware volunteers hoping to explore the culture, meet the wildlife, and trek to Machu Picchu. If you are hoping to visit this summer, then there is good news! Find out what level the U.S. State Dept has advised for future visitors to this destination.


U.S State Department Issues New Travel Advisory Update For Peru

MAY 3, 2023
Travel of Path

Peru is a beautiful country with a rich heritage and is a popular destination for travelers hoping to explore the culture, meet the wildlife, and trek to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is the country’s most popular tourist attraction.

Visiting is a bucket list dream for a huge number of people, and more than four million tourists visit Peru each year.

If you are hoping to visit Peru this summer, then there is good news.

The U.S State Department has issued a new travel advisory changing the level of perceived risk in Peru from ‘Level 3- reconsider travel plans’ to ‘Level 2 – exercise increased caution’.

Travelers are now advised to exercise increased caution due to crime and civil unrest, meaning that they can make travel plans to Peru again.

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Here’s everything you need to know:

Reduced Travel Level For Peru

In recent months, the U.S. State Department had increased the level to Level 3 due to civil unrest. Since the end of 2022, Peru has seen a significant wave of protests and escalation of violence.

The catalyst for this was that former President Pedro Castillo was removed from power and his vice president, Dina Boluarte, took control of the county.

Now that this period of unrest has calmed, the U.S. State Department has reduced it’s travel advisory to level 2.

The United States Government uses a four-level system to alert its citizens to how safe it feels a country is. Those four levels are:

  • Level 1 – U.S citizens should exercise normal precautions
  • Level 2 – U.S citizens should exercise increased caution
  • Level 3 – U.S citizens should reconsider travel plans
  • Level 4 – U.S citizens should not travel

Peru as a whole has now dropped back down from ‘Level 3 – reconsider travel plans’ to ‘Level 2 – exercise increased caution’.

Traveling In Peru

There are some areas of Peru where the advisory level remains higher.

Visitors to Peru should still exercise increased caution when they are traveling in the country. And there are some parts of the country that tourists are advised to avoid.

The travel advisory states that American citizens should not travel to:

  • The Columbian-Peruvian border area in the Loreto Region due to crime.
  • The Valley of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM), including areas within the departments of Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica and Junin, due to crime and terrorism.
  • The Puno Region, including the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, and the Apurimac Region due to civil unrest.

In addition, U.S. government personnel cannot currently travel freely through Peru due to security concerns.

Staying Safe When Traveling In Peru

When traveling in Peru, much like when traveling anywhere else, it’s important to stay safe and remain aware of your surroundings.

The new U.S. State Department travel advisory states that certain crimes are common in Peru. These are petty theft, carjackings, muggings, assaults, and other violent crimes.

These crimes can take place during daylight hours and in populated areas where there are many witnesses, but the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime increases at night.

You can minimize your risk of being a victim of these crimes by hiding your valuables and not drawing unnecessary attention to yourself.

The State Department travel advisory also states that the risk of civil unrest in Peru has not completely disappeared.

Public demonstrations occur regularly in the country. These can take place for a variety of reasons, including due to political and economic issues in the country.

If there is a demonstration taking place during your time in Peru, you need to be aware that these can cause widespread disruption.

Local roads, trains, and major highways can be shut down without prior notice. Public transportation levels may be reduced.

You can stay safe during a demonstration in Peru by avoiding the area where the demonstration is taking place. You could also consider remaining inside your hotel or accommodation until the demonstration is complete.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end to the COVID-19 global health emergency on May 5th, 2023. Globe Aware volunteers can now travel to our volunteer vacation locations, with one less thing to worry about. Read to find out what regulations have been lifted.


WHO Declares End To COVID Emergency, Urges Lifting of Related Travel Restrictions

By Patrick Clarke
May 5, 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end to the COVID-19 global health emergency on Friday.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that the pandemic "has been on a downward trend" for more than a year.

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Among the temporary recommendations issued by the WHO Director-General is that member states continue to lift COVID-19 international travel-related health measures, based on risk assessments, and not require any proof of vaccination against COVID-19 as a prerequisite for international travel.

The news comes just days after the U.S. government announced it would end COVID-19 vaccination requirements for international travelers and federal workers on May 11.

U.S. Travel Association CEO Geoff Freeman said the move to "lift the vaccine requirement eases a significant entry barrier for many global travelers, moving our industry and country forward."

According to WHO’s Coronavirus Dashboard, the cumulative cases worldwide now stand at 765,222,932, with 6,921,614 deaths.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

Ever been to Costa Rica during the rainy season!? Globe Aware volunteers who are not sure what the rainy season in Costa Rica looks like during their volunteer vacation, we've got some great tips to help keep you dry.


Costa Rica Travel: 10 Tips For Traveling During The Rainy Season

By Astha Garg
April 29, 2023
The Tico Times

The rainy season is just around the corner! And if you are someone who likes to travel very often, you know that means you have to plan more efficiently. But if you are someone who is visiting Costa Rica for the first time, and are not sure what the rainy season in Costa Rica looks like, I am here to help you!

The rainy season in Costa Rica typically starts in May and lasts till the end of November. The rainiest months are September and October, and July is a mini-summer with 2 weeks of dry weather.

If you are of the opinion that the rainy season is not a good time to visit Costa Rica, I would like to disagree with you on this. There is something magical about the rainy season here. Nature’s true colors are revealed and you see lush greenery everywhere. The rivers and waterfalls are fuller and more enjoyable. Hotels are cheaper and there are fewer tourists.

The turtle nesting season and whale watching season, both fall in the rainy season. Reasons enough to visit Costa Rica during the rainy season?

But what is it that you should keep in mind when traveling in Costa Rica during the rainy season?

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10 Tips For Traveling During Rainy Season

1. Plan your activities in the morning
During the rainy season in Costa Rica, it is generally bright and sunny in the morning and rainy in the late afternoon and night. So, it’s better to get up early and cover as much as you can during the day before it starts raining. If you are planning to do an activity like ziplining, or go for a coffee/chocolate tour, schedule it in the morning.

2. Always carry a poncho or a waterproof jacket
Rains are sometimes very harsh in Costa Rica, and carrying an umbrella is just not enough. You definitely need a poncho or a waterproof jacket to prevent yourself from getting wet.

Never underestimate the rains of Costa Rica. Even if it doesn’t look like it will rain later, pack a poncho or waterproof jacket in your bag. The weather can change in the blink of an eye, and you may get caught unprepared.

3. Carry a waterproof bag or cover
As mentioned above, it can rain very heavily sometimes, and water may seep in from unexpected places. If you are carrying some invaluable belongings in your bag, you may lose them to rain. Therefore, it’s advisable to carry a dry bag or a waterproof bag cover to keep your belongings dry and safe.

4. Pack appropriately
When traveling during the rainy season, you have to be mindful of what you are packing in your bag. Firstly, it may get cold during the evening, and you will need fully covered clothes to keep yourself warm. Wearing fully covered clothes will also be helpful in saving you from mosquito bites.

Secondly, good hiking boots are recommended in case you are planning hikes and long-distance walking. If you are not a fan of hiking boots, ensure that your footwear is fully covered.

5. Bring mosquito repellent
Mosquitos are at their worst during the rainy season. Though carrying mosquito repellent in Costa Rica is recommended throughout the year, you just cannot miss it during the rainy season.

6. Do not drive late at night
When planning your itinerary, it is advisable to avoid keeping night drives in the schedule. It gets dark after 6 pm, and the visibility may be very low due to heavy rain. Moreover, the roads of Costa Rica are known for presenting you with surprises. And if you are not familiar with the roads you are about to take, it is better to skip driving at night.

7. Keep some room in your schedule
In Costa Rica, landslides and washing off of dirt roads are very common during the rainy season. Or sometimes a river rises and the road becomes impassable. Therefore, it is always better not to have a tight schedule. Keep some room for delays and unforeseen circumstances. Things may not go as per plans 100% of the time, and you need to be patient.

8. Beware of slippery surfaces
If you are planning to go on hikes or visit waterfalls that generally involve hiking and climbing up and down stairs, be careful of where you are setting your foot on. Surfaces may get slippery during the rainy season and you do not want to fall and hurt yourself.

9. Rent a car wisely
As mentioned earlier, it is common to face landslides and washed-off dirt roads during the rainy season. Potholes may pop up here and there. So, if you are planning on renting a car, make sure you rent a car that is suited for the Costa Rican roads and has a high ground clearance. Better so, rent an SUV or a 4WD.

10. Bring power backup
In some remote locations and beach towns, power outages are common during the rainy season. So always keep a power backup with you in order to keep your phone charged. Carrying a flashlight or headlamp is also a good idea.


Additional Info

  • Source The Tico Times

We know that if Globe Aware volunteers had their way ( we don't blame them), their dogs would accompany them to everywhere. But the reality is that sometimes, leaving your dog at home while you travel is a necessary evil. Here are some tips to help smoothen that process!


Tips for Leaving Your Dog at Home When You Travel

Yahoo! Sports
Apr 28, 2023

If you had your way, your dog would accompany you everywhere: to work, on vacation, even to the dentist’s office. But the reality is that sometimes, leaving your dog at home while you travel is a necessary evil.

Parting ways, even temporarily, is especially tough when you travel. Of course, you’d prefer to bring your pooch along on your adventures. However, not all trips are dog-friendly, and sometimes, the best place for your pup is not on the road or in a motel but at home with a trusted caretaker.

It may be challenging to say goodbye to Fido for a few days or a week. But rest assured that you can handle the separation, and so can your pupper. That said, there are ways to help prepare your dog for your absence and ease the anxiety it might cause. Hannah Gillihan, a certified dog trainer at Zoom Room Dog Training, has graciously provided DogTime with some helpful tips for leaving your dog at home while you travel.

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Downplay your absence

One of the best things you can do to prepare your dog for your travel plans is not to make a big deal about leaving. As you get closer to your travel date, every time you leave your dog, say, “See you later!” or “I’ll be right back!” in a normal tone. Doing so will take some of the emotions out of your absence.

If you are always sad to leave and excited to return, those extreme reactions can create stress and anxiety in your dog. Intense emotions teach dogs that your absence is a big deal and something to dread. So, instead, try a quick head pat and a “See you later!” Keeping the interactions nonchalant is a great way to prep your pup for stress-free time away from you.

Choose your pet sitter wisely

Ensure that a trusted, familiar person dog sits while you are away. Arrange for your friend to visit and meet your dog before you leave so they get comfortable with each other. If your dog can relax and have fun with this person, they are likelier to have a stress-free stay without you.

Give your trusted sitter vet information, medicine and feeding instructions, leashes, harnesses and collars, toys and treats, and maps of places or walking routes your dog loves. This preparation will help create a sense of normalcy that may ease your dog’s mind. Thorough prep will also equip the sitter with everything they need to know for a successful stay.

Distract with toys

Use mental stimulation games and puzzle toys to ensure your dog’s time without you is fun and stress-free. Choose toys with varying difficulty levels and a compartment for food or treats. Your dog will entertain themselves trying to figure out how to get the food out.

Zoom Room carries many different toys that will help keep your dog occupied for long periods of time. Kongs, lick mats, and slow-feeder puzzles are just a few effective distractions. These puzzles and mental stimulation toys allow your dog to channel some of that anxious and bored energy into problem-solving that will keep them busy while you’re gone. Also, remember to leave instructions on using all of the toys for your dog sitter.

How to reunite properly after leaving your dog at home

When you do reunite with your pup at long last, do so in a way that reaffirms your bond. Greet your dog both verbally and with physical touch. A study by Swedish researchers found that dogs who received both verbal greetings and physical touch during reunions with their owners had higher oxytocin levels than dogs who were only greeted verbally or not at all.

“Although the sight of a familiar person is a positive event for a dog, and the sound of that person’s voice is better, it is actually the sensation of being touched by that person which helps to boost the level of good feeling in the dog and allows it to carry over for much longer than just the moments when dog and loved one reunite,” the study concluded.

So feel free to pour on the love as soon as you walk through that door! While leaving your dog at home while you travel can be heartbreaking, chances are, your dog missed you as much as you missed them.

Additional Info

  • Source Yahoo!News

Summer vacation in Nepal can be a summer to remember for Globe Aware volunteers. Check out the list of what you can do there, which includes our volunteer vacation destination of Chitwan National Park, a World Heritage site!

Things to do in Nepal this summer—adventures and beauty abound

Times of India
Apr 25, 2019


Summer vacation is on the cards, and we are definitely looking for places to visit during the season. Summer in Nepal can be a summer to remember of course; the high Himalayan nation has an almost surreal landscape.

Summer vacation is on the cards, and we are definitely looking for places to visit during the season. Summer in Nepal can be a summer to remember of course; the high Himalayan nation has an almost surreal landscape, full of great sights, and even greater adventures. Things to do in Nepal does not only stop at hiking and mountain climbing, it has something for everyone.

While Kathmandu has an eclectic entertainment scene, a place such as Lumbini will bring you closer to spirituality. Then, of course, if you want to get close to the great Mount Everest you could try reaching the Everest Base Camp. Nepal is nothing short of magnificent, and here is a guide to experience the country to its fullest.

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Adventures at Pokhara

Come to Pokhara if you want to see otherworldly views, and experience some of the best adventure activities. The place is full of charm, doubles as a laidback vacationing spot, and also a place for adventure activities. Pokhara is one of the best paragliding destinations in the world. The lakeside resorts are simply irresistible, and some of them are even yoga retreats!

Spirituality in Lumbini

A Buddhist site of great importance, Lumbini is all about spirituality. You could take a flight from Kathmandu to Lumbini, which would take about 6 hours. Lumbini is famously believed to be the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. Here, in Lumbini, you will also find other temples, and a particularly important building, called the World Peace Pagoda. You also have the Cambodian Monastery here.

Wild encounters at Chitwan National Park

A World Heritage Site, here at the Chitwan National Park, you can experience paradise. The national park is a beautiful haven for wildlife and has rivers and jungles to enthral your senses. It once used to be a hunting ground for the elite class, and shelters wildlife today. The king of the jungle here at the Chitwan National Park is the Bengal Tiger, while leopards are also found here. This is a paradise for birdwatchers as well.

Trekking to Everest Base Camp

One of the most famous treks in Nepal, trekking to the Everest Base Camp is an adventure that you will never forget. The 14 days of trek are full of extraordinarily beautiful locations, and there are numerous charms on the way. You will come across numerous lodges and hotels along the way, so staying and eating would never be a problem. You can also hire porters to help you with your luggage.

Falling in love in Kathmandu

The capital of Nepal is a beautiful place to explore. Its tiny alleyways are full of surprises and, not to forget, the age-old temples. Shree Pashupatinath Temple is one of the most famous temples here in Kathmandu. Durbar Marg is, of course, the heart of Kathmandu, and you have to visit this place. Then, there are numerous restaurants, bars, and places to shop here in Kathmandu; it is an endless romance!

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

Traveling and experiencing the world is an amazing experience for our Globe Aware volunteers, but we understand the need to be conscious of our environmental impact as well. Here are a few ways you can help lessen the environmental impact at your volunteer vacation destination.

Swapnajit Kundu
22 Apr 2023

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Climate change has put the very existence of this planet under threat, and it is time for us to step up and reduce the damage that human civilisation has done to it over the years.

New Delhi: Sometimes, we tend to forget that the Earth is the only planet we have and that we have no other place to live. Let us think about another thing while keeping this point in mind: Is it good to dirty the place we live in? Do we do that with our homes? No. Like that, we should endeavour to keep this planet clean as well. Climate change and global warming have put the very existence of this planet under threat, and it is time for us to step up and reduce the damage that human civilisation has done to it over the years.

Every year, on April 22, Earth Day is celebrated to make us aware of keeping this planet clean and free from the pollution which is leading to rising natural disasters, extreme weather conditions, and increasing global temperatures. At a time, when coral reefs are dying and animals on land and in the ocean are ending up with trash in their bellies or around their body, we have to step up and undo the damage that we have done. And we start by reducing carbon footprints while travelling.

Pack light while you travel
When you are packing your suitcase to travel via plane, take as few clothes and stuff as you can. Because the more you pack, the heavier will be the plane. And the heavier the aircraft, the more fuel is required.

Pack reusable items
While travelling, don’t buy plastic water bottles, shopping bags, coffee cups, and food containers only to throw them away later. And all of these items require natural materials, energy, and water to manufacture, not to mention their disposal adding to landfill and ocean pollution. That is why, always pack a few core items you can reuse throughout your trip, like water bottles that you can refill, coffee cups that you can use again, containers to store food, shopping bags and straws that you can reuse.

Do not waste energy and water
When we stay in hotels and resorts, we tend to use a lot of electricity and water. We take extra-long showers, leave lights and appliances switched on, and run heating and cooling systems 24 hours a day. So, avoid needlessly wasting power and water. Keep showers to a normal length, and turn off lights and appliances when you are not using them. This is something we can follow in our homes as well.

Eat local foods
If you are on a trip, try to eat as much local food as you can. Why? Because when you consume foods from local growers and producers, it reduces the shipping and transport emissions of your meals, not to mention it supports the local community. Also, try to embrace meat-free dining during your stay as plant-based diets have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than meat-based diets.

Opt for a cycle, or better, walk
Nowadays, we tend to take cars or hire a cab even to cover a short distance, which in turn, results in greater carbon emissions from those vehicles. When you are going to someplace that is nearby, you can opt to ride a bicycle. If the place is at a distance, that you can cover by walking, then do that. It will also help you exercise apart from reducing your carbon footprint. Also, when you are hiring a cab, try to share it with someone instead of taking an entire car. As it is obvious, the lesser the number of cars on the roads, the lesser will be the carbon emission.


Additional Info

  • Source News9

Faithful Parent
family travel
Apr 23, 2023

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In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

ACTS 20: 35


In previous posts, we’ve encouraged families to consider taking a Family International Volunteer trip if they have the means to do so but have not discussed in detail the work of a family international volunteer trip. We’ve had the pleasure and privilege of doing six different “vacations” like this and have traveled to Peru, Costa Rica, South Africa, Guatemala, Kenya, and Indonesia. 

You may be wondering – is it possible to make a significant contribution to a community when you’re only staying a week AND bringing your entire family? We hope this post will be an answer to some of those questions and an encouragement to you. We will be glad to share how we seek to make the most of our volunteer work and provide some examples of what we’ve done during our own international trips.

The Foundation

We are a Christian family who wants our life built around the truth of God’s Word. This means that when we plan a family international volunteer trip, this is our foundation and purpose for going above all else. Going to another country and doing the helpful work of a family international volunteer trip has given us some unique opportunities to share our faith with others.

While we’re traveling, we share the reasons behind our trip with those we come into contact with, including our fellow passengers. Even our clothing reflects our faith, as it often displays Bible verses or Christian symbols. Once we arrive, we pray together as a family, asking God to bless our work and our time there. 

When we work with children, we sometimes sing hymns and connect with them through music.  Often, there are unexpected challenges during our trips, and it is of the utmost importance to us to strive to have a positive attitude when this happens because we know we reflect Christ to those around us. This helps our family keep in mind why we are there and how to make the most of our time and service.

Willingness to Learn

Most of the work of a family international volunteer trip we have done has been with the assistance and coordination of local experts. They provide the resources and supplies that the team needs to do the job. Some of the more advanced tasks that we have done (with their help!) include concrete work, installing drip lines in a greenhouse, building mud stoves, and constructing houses. We weren’t well versed in any of those trades, but we were willing to learn and committed to working hard.

Expertise Not Required

The tasks involved in the work of a family international volunteer trip did not require us to have previously acquired special skills. If you cannot do the work they suggest, they should be able to find a job that makes you more comfortable. Some of the simpler and less physically demanding tasks we have done include painting, gardening, planting trees, landscaping, teaching English to children, and playing games and singing songs with them. A flexible attitude and willingness to work hard are the two most helpful perspectives to maintain during trips like these.

Your Family As a Team

We especially like to participate in jobs that we can do together as a family as we do the work of a family international volunteer trip. This might sound like a tall order if you have young children, but you’d be surprised at how many family-friendly tasks teams offer. Because we purposefully go on family international volunteer trips together, working side by side with our children is a priority for us. Our children have helped us build mud stoves in Peru, paint, do landscaping work, and plant trees. They are also excellent ice breakers when it comes to making friends with the children we meet!

Passing the Torch

A family international volunteer trip only lasts a week, and it is important to remember that not every job needs to be completed by your team. Often, other volunteers will be coming after you to pick up where you left off, and your program fees might go towards helping pay local individuals do the work themselves for an income. This helps remove the pressure of ensuring that a project is completed “on time” and instead places the focus on a job well done. There is also a sense of working toward something more significant that others will continue once you’re gone. You are just one brick in the wall – essential, but a part of a grander plan!

Flexibility with Location

In many situations, the local coordinator will have some tasks that could be done in multiple locations as you do the work of a family international volunteer trip. This is especially true if weather is often unpredictable and an outdoor plan needs to be moved indoors at the last second. Some of the tasks we have worked on inside are as follows:

  • Painting
  • Teaching and playing games with kids at schools
  • Paving an indoor concrete floor in a family home
  • Shelling beans for local farmers

Impact: Long-term and Short-term

Not every project that we’ve completed will have a long-term impact, and that’s okay. Even short-term improvements done as part of the work of a family international volunteer trip can significantly impact the lives of the people and communities we have had the privilege to visit. Small things such as paying your drivers, servers, and vendors well helps the local economy. Even kind and encouraging words, humble service, and a cheerful heart can leave a lasting impression.

Six Trips and Counting

Our family has been on family international volunteer trips to Peru, Costa Rica, South Africa, Guatemala, and Kenya all coordinated through Globe Aware. Sometimes the work has been light, and other times it’s been difficult. Mixing and pouring concrete in the pouring rain in Costa Rica was one of our most challenging days! However, we have also had wonderful experiences doing enjoyable tasks with great weather in amazing locations. We loved visiting Peru and volunteering in preschools hidden up in a remote mountain village. The children were precious, and the views were stunning. We have also been on a family international volunteer trip to Indonesia with Kingdom Workers. We enjoyed meeting the people there and hearing from them about the impact of the water solution systems for them and their communities. Read more about our trip to Indonesia here: 6 Examples of God’s Kindness: Lessons Learned on our Family Trip to Indonesia

In all of our travels, we have tried to use the gifts that God has given us and trusted that He would work through us to help the families and communities we were there to assist. We know that the benefit might not even be evident at first, but we trust that it will become apparent in time. The people we have had the joy of meeting have always been happy with and appreciative of the work we are doing for them. We understand that these trips will have challenges and will not necessarily be fun and relaxing all the time, but the blessings we see through what they provide cannot be overstated.


You don’t need to be an expert to do a family international volunteer trip. Much more important is a willingness to learn, a good work ethic, and a cheerful attitude. Wanting to help better others’ lives is easier  caught than taught, and working alongside your children as you all strive together is an experience worth a hundred conversations. The families you help will not be the only ones affected: you and your children will be as well. By modeling humility, service, and flexibility, your family can have the joy of experiencing a truly unique kind of “vacation” that you will never forget. 

Does it take work? Absolutely. 

Is it worth it? One hundred percent.

If you are interested in planning a family international volunteer trip, check our An Excellent Guide to Planning Your Family International Volunteer Trip: The Logistics!

Key Points:

  • You do not need to be an expert in the field to make an impact as a family.
  • Working together as a family to help others is a great privilege.
  • You will not need any special equipment on trips like this.
  • God can work through your efforts no matter how big or small they seem.

Additional Info

  • Source Faithful Parent

Laos is a beautiful, tropical, and mostly untouched country that is becoming an up-and-coming destination for travelers looking for an authentic taste of South-east Asia, due to this, the rewards here are plentiful. It may not be as developed as neighboring Thailand, or Vietnam, though this is exactly Laos' uniqueness and charm. Experience Laos with Globe Aware.

11 reasons why you should travel to Laos right now

22 March 2021

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is a beautiful and small country located in Southeast Asia. Myanmar and China surround the country to the northwest, Cambodia to the east, Vietnam to the south, and Thailand. Since ancient times, this country is also called the land of thousand of elephants. That is, the elephant here is famous in the world. People come from each corner of the world to see it. North of Laos is China and North Vietnam, Cambodia in the south, Mekong River on Thailand's border in the southwest. Due to which the climate here is tropical, about 2/3 of Laos's area is full of nature's beauty and forests. Elephant, leopard, cheetah and snake etc., are found in the lush green forests here. If you travel to Laos, you should know that the colloquial language here is Thai, using Sanskrit, Pali and French words. Additionally, French is the second language of royalty. Like Cambodia and Vietnam, Buddhism is the predominant religion here. People like cuisine here very much. If you are a fan of adrenaline, then here are underground river caves, white water rapids and jungle ziplines, which you can enjoy and make your trip memorable. It would be nice to take the pictures to turn this trip into memories. Let's know why you should travel to Laos.

1. It's affordable in brief
Laos is suitable for any budget on you, here all the cheap and expensive things are available according to your wish. All services are still at an excellent price in Laos compared to travel to all countries in Asia. If you want to take advantage of the best services at a low cost, then all amenities (AC, hot bath, WiFi, fridge, pool and restaurant) are available for around $40 a night. There are lots of services offered for all taste of travellers, and in brief, every person can find options in terms of cost either expensive or cheap. If you wish to make your holiday memorable, then Laos will be better for travelling.

2. Amazing Laos nature
You will be a nature lover. Would you like to know what to see in Laos? Views of natural beauty will attract you here. When you travel to Laos, you should enjoy the natural beauty here with a boat ride across the Mekong River. Tourists see mountain views riding bikes on the streets of Luang Prabang. The winding roads atop the mountains symbolize the natural beauty of the country. As soon as you come here, you will fall in love with Laos nature and scenery. The beautiful lush and dense forests here will fascinate you. These beautiful scenes will inspire your heart to roam properly. It is stunning, winding roads, hills make here must-visit place for nature lovers.

3. You'll get to amazing Laos food
If you are fond of food, then you will not find good and delicious food from Laos. There are such snack shops on the road, narrow streets, where even big celebrities reach to taste them. If you plan to travel to Laos, you need to know about the famous glutinous sticky rice with spicy jeow, grilled fish, fried morning glory, or bamboo soup. Laos is a perfect place to travel. The crowded city is famous not only for walking but also for different types of food items. Especially the street Laos food is so delicious that you will become a fan of it.

4. Amazing Laos nightlife
Laos is a beautiful and small country, known worldwide for its thrilling Laos nightlife, colonial architecture and cheap wine. People come from all over the world to enjoy the attractive and night-long nightlife or nightclub. Tourists from all over the world come to nightclubs to experience dance party and trance music of Laos. The city of Laos is full of clubs. So, if you travel to Laos, then be a part of the club parties. Of course, you will have more club parties, but here you will have extra fun.

5. Quiet beauty everywhere
Laos is considered a pioneer in the field of tourism, full of natural beauty, tranquil environment. Called a country with a thousand elephants, many crores of tourists visit each year this country. The snowy hills, rivers, lakes and greenery located here attract tourists. Laos has many popular tourist destinations, which are full of beautiful and serene provincial surroundings. It is said that Laos's local life is simple: tourists come from every corner of the world to beautify the streets here. Tourists here truly experience the heart touching natural beauty; hence, the tourism here makes for a unique experience compared to anywhere else in South-East Asia.

6. Culture, history, and tradition
Despite Laos being old, it came into existence on the world's political map in medieval times. According to Lao literature, Prince Falgun is considered the founder of Laos. A Kshatriya chieftain took refuge in the court of Angkor for some reason. Like the neighboring country Cambodia and Vietnam, Buddhism is the main Laos religion of the people here. So if you want to learn more about Buddhism or interact with Buddhist monks, there can be no better place than this. People here welcome tourists to temples, etc. places of worship according to their culture, provided that the tourists remain respectful and polite.

7. Lifestyle and climate of Laos
Talking about climate of Laos, the climate here is tropical and monsoon. There is a rainy season from November till May, due to which tourists are less in this season. There is a dry season from November till April, so the number of tourists visiting the Millions remains in this season. However, in terms of temperature, the average temperature here is 26.5 ° C (80 ° F), which is favourable for tourism. Talking about lifestyle, the lifestyle of the Laos people here is unique. You will be surprised to see the living conditions of the people from here, and you too will be interested in the living and dress of these people. However, people here now consider the old traditions less and adopt the style of modernization.

8. Night shopping
There is no doubt, Luang Prabang is the most famous in the country in the night market area. That is, here is the best night market in the country. You will find exciting markets here. Everything from textiles and other locally made handicrafts to household items and fresh meats and produce is available here. The lights of the needs here at night fascinate people, where is Laos Markets for shopping, there is always a gathering of Tourist. Tourists visiting here adorn the markets here. Markets and shopping malls in the streets of Laos are discussed worldwide. Laos has an excellent atmosphere for tourists who shop. You will find stalls in the streets for the best shopping in the attract markets here.

9. Laos festivals
Laos is well known throughout the world as a country of traditional and cultural festivals. If you travel to Laos, you can enjoy the festivities here. Laos is always full of people at fairs and festivals. People associated with every Laos religion have their own cultural and traditional festivals. Each festival of the Laos people has its own mythological Story and history have special significance. The Luang Festival, Lunar New Year (Chinese/Vietnamese) and Boat Racing Festival are among the major Laos festivals here.

10. Where is Laos adventure?
Do you need to know what to see in Laos? The lush green forests, high hills, waterfalls, etc., found here will thrill your mind. Here you can zipline between the treehouse in the rainforest. Additionally, rock climbing can also be done in the limestone mountains. That is, everything in Laos that can please your mind. Here you can also enjoy tubing, trekking and cycling. You will be surprised to know that there are many caves to swim in, including bike tracks for swimming and waterfalls for swimming inside.

11. Historical temples in Laos
Laos has been a majority Buddhist nation since ancient times. Tourists come from far and wide to visit the intricately painted temple or wat here. Some of the most ornate temples in Laos are in Luang Prabang, the former royal capital. Many historical temples can be found here. If you travel to southern Laos, Vat Phou is worth a visit, and this temple is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. Additionally, the ancient Khmer temple attracts millions of people for traditional dances, sporting events and music. Laos is one such country in the geography of the world, which is famous for its beauty. Many such things in this country make this country more attractive from other countries such as the language, living conditions, dress, culture, religion, etc. will attract you. Although Laos is less developed and prosperous than its neighbours, Laos has become known for travelling in Southeast Asia five to ten years ago. The locals here are happy to see the visitors and welcome them by showing them their beautiful country. So you too can enjoy the natural beauty, high hills, lush green forests, waterfalls and delicious cuisine here.

Additional Info

  • Source PICKVISA
Tuesday, 18 April 2023 10:55

Why 2023 is the year to visit Mongolia

Why 2023 is the year to visit Mongolia

Breanna Wilson
March 31, 2023

Editor’s Note: This CNN Travel series is, or was, sponsored by the country it highlights. CNN retains full editorial control over subject matter, reporting and frequency of the articles and videos within the sponsorship, in compliance with our policy.

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia CNN — Due to its remoteness and short summer season, Mongolia has long been a destination overlooked by travelers.

But as the country moves to further open up to tourism by easing its entry conditions for international visitors and upgrading its infrastructure, 2023 might just be the best time yet to get there.

Here are 10 reasons travelers should start planning their long-dreamed-of Mongolia visit now.

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A growing visa-free list

With the government of Mongolia declaring 2023 through 2025 the “Years to Visit Mongolia,” citizens from an additional 34 countries can now visit the country visa-free through the end of 2025.

The addition of several European countries, including Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain, and the UK, as well as Australia and New Zealand, now brings the total number of countries and territories on the visa-exempt list to 61.

A new $650 million airport opens its doors

After years of delays, a pandemic and several controversies, the newly built Chinggis Khaan International Airport finally opened in the summer of 2021.

With the ability to handle approximately 3 million passengers a year (double that of the old airport), the addition of 500 new aircraft parking spaces and the infrastructure to support an increase in domestic as well as budget flights, the airport is a welcome addition to the country’s efforts to grow tourism.

Budget flights to Hong Kong from EZNIS Airways have been relaunched since the airport’s opening, and talks to resume direct flights to the United States are reportedly underway.

A modern new museum

The recently opened Chinggis Khaan Museum offers a beautiful, fresh look at Mongolia’s tumultuous history.

With more than 10,000 artifacts spanning over 2,000 years, the museum explores the history of the Mongols and the empire they created – and eventually lost.

The museum’s artifacts are presented over eight floors, with six permanent and two temporary exhibition halls. Guided tours are offered in English every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. free of charge.

Mongolia’s answer to Coachella

When most people think of Mongolia, music festivals and conservation-focused art installations in the heart of one of the world’s largest deserts are the last things to come to mind.

But that’s all changing thanks to festivals like Playtime, Spirit of Gobi, INTRO Electronic Music Festival and the Kharkhorum 360 Visual Art & Music Experience.

Placing international bands, DJs, and musicians from around the world alongside Mongolia’s eclectic mix of rappers, bands and folk singers, the country just might be one of the world’s most underrated places for festival lovers.

Celebrate Naadam as it turns the century

The annual Naadam event has always been a great reason to visit Mongolia, but now that the festival has just celebrated its 100 year anniversary, 2023 is as good a time as ever to attend.

While the festival’s origins are rooted in the days of Genghis Khan, when he used horse racing, wrestling and archery competitions to keep his warriors in shape between battles, Naadam only officially became a national holiday 100 years ago.

Today, the festival – held in Ulaanbaatar at the National Sports Stadium, has a few more bells and whistles than it did during the days of the Great Khan.

A seat at July 11’s opening ceremony is always one of the hardest tickets to score in town.

Try your hand at archery the Mongolian way

Mounted archery is seeing a resurgence in Mongolia thanks to guys like Altankhuyag Nergui, one of the most accomplished archers in the sport and his archery academy, Namnaa.

Here, locals learn the fundamentals of Mongolian archery before mounting a horse and taking their new found skills to another level.

In the summer months, students and academy members put on weekly shows for interested spectators. The academy also offers day-long training sessions for those wanting to try this intense sport.

Learn about Mongolian calligraphy from a master

Speaking of giving life to Mongolia’s most ancient traditions, the resurrection of Mongol bichig, or the traditional Mongolian script written from top to bottom and read from left to right, has also seen a major resurgence in recent years.

Visit the Erdenesiin Khuree Mongolian Calligraphy Center in Karakorum to learn from master calligraphist Tamir Samandbadraa Purev about this important cultural heritage. And, while you’re there, browse the yurts filled with Tamir’s works.

Ditch the horse for horsepower

Pair the release of Husqvarna’s new Norden 901 Expedition motorbike with Nomadic Off-Road’s newly announced Eagle Hunter Tour, and you have one of the fastest adventures in Mongolia.

The tour takes six riders 1,700 kilometers from Ulaanbaatar to Bayan-Ulgii, where riders eventually meet their hosts, Mongolia’s famous eagle hunters.

The only thing faster than this adventure is the rate at which Nomadic Off-Road’s tours sell out.

Winter tours offer new insights

Professional musher Joel Rauzy has been leading dogsledding tours across the frozen Lake Khuvsgul for 18 years.

With fewer crowds, lower hotel rates and the chance to see one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world completely frozen over, winter in Mongolia is something else to see and experience.

Rauzy’s company, Wind of Mongolia, offers tours of the lake, where each person is assigned their own sled and dogs for the journey. Following Rauzy’s lead, mushers will make a loop of the lake. Activities include ice fishing, while travelers stay in winterized yurts and spend time with nomadic families along the journey.

Scandinavian design hits Mongolia at Yeruu Lodge

Nestled in the heart of Selenge province on the Yeruu River, Yeruu Lodge is the brainchild of Norwegian founder Eirik Gulsrud Johnsen, who first visited Mongolia in 2017.

With a minimal Scandinavian-style restaurant and dining area, a handful of fully kitted out yurts for guests to stay in, two pétanque courts, kayaks, a driving range, mountain bikes and a yoga area, the lodge is a destination for nature lovers.

Completely off-grid, the lodge runs off solar panels, uses of thermal heating, and all of the property’s water comes from an on-property well and is recycled after use.

Additionally, all glass, metal and plastic used at the lodge is also recycled, and food waste is turned into compost used to grow vegetables, berries and herbs onsite.

The lodge is set to open in April 2023.

Additional Info

  • Source PICKVISA

We're not surprised that Thailand's trending again! Globe Aware volunteers will love our volunteer vacation in Chiang Mai, open to volunteers of all ages and a perfect summer program!

These Are The Top 8 Trending Destinations This Year

Now that travel has returned, where are people going?

While many countries have seen their tourist arrival numbers steadily increasing last year and so far this year as well, there have been some countries that have performed much better than anticipated.

Using data gathered from official tourism agencies around the world, there are certain destinations that are coming out on top so far this year.

With tourism numbers climbing to pre-pandemic levels again, these countries are some that are showing the biggest jumps in arrivals.

These Are The Top 8 Trending Destinations This Year:

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One county that is trending with travelers this year is the often-overlooked Armenia.

In January 2023, 69% more foreign tourists visited Armenia than in January 2022, based on numbers from the Armenia Tourism Committee.

People are flocking to this Eastern European country for its diverse landscape of deserts, canyons, and mountains, and not to forget the stunning Lake Sevan.

Aside from the beauty, Armenia is rich in cultural heritage and fantastic food and wine.

While tourism numbers are up for Armenia, it seems that many American travelers still don’t know about this stunning country and all it has to offer.

Top 5 Travel Insurance Plans For 2023 Starting At $10 Per Week

Aerial view of 9th-century Armenian Apostolic monastery located near the Tatev village in Armenia

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Thanks in part to a tourist campaign initiated by the Tbilisi government, international arrival numbers are up for this underrated country.

Known as the birthplace of wine, many come here for the rich melting pot of its capital city, to explore the countryside for the ancient cave cities, and to see Europe’s highest village.

As a trending destination, there are many reasons to visit Georgia this year.

Being known as a safe destination helps boost Georgia’s profile for tourists as well, as having a relatively perceived degree of safety is a big draw for those who come here.

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This Southeast Asian hotspot is trending again, with many international tourists arriving so far this year.

Data from the Thai Ministry of Tourism and Sports indicate that in January of 2023, 2.14 million visitors arrived in Thailand, a jump of over 1,500% from this time last year.

One reason for Thailand’s massive spike in arrival numbers is the reopening of China, with Thailand being a favored destination for Chinese tourists.

Of course, Thailand has been and will always remain a popular option for tourists from around the world; with beaches, islands, temples, and fantastic food, it’s clear why it’s always a frontrunner.

Those planning a trip to the Land of Smiles will need to keep in mind that this year, a tourist fee will begin.

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Hong Kong

After finally dropping its travel restrictions at the end of last year, Hong Kong has seen a huge boost in international arrivals.

January 2023 brought over seventy times the amount of visitors that January 2022 did.

With the scrapping of masks this March, tourists have been heading back to this one-of-a-kind city.

In addition to arrival numbers being up, officials have reported that retail figures are steadily creeping back up to pre-pandemic levels as well, as many people do come to this metropolis for shopping.

Not only is Hong Kong trending with travelers, but with shoppers as well.

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Saudi Arabia

One country in the Middle East that is trending with international travelers is Saudi Arabia.

In an effort to boost its tourism profile, Saudi Arabia is aiming for 25 million foreign visitors this year, after 16.5 tourist arrivals last year.

Ahmad Al-Khateeb, the kingdom’s Minister of Tourism, has stated that he expects Saudi Arabia to rank 17th in terms of worldwide tourist attractions, enticing visitors to come and explore the kingdom’s archeological sites, beaches, and other diverse sights.

Another reason to keep an eye on Saudi Arabia for future trips is the massive project they are planning, resulting in a new city that will be 33 times larger than New York City.

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Europe is the world’s largest designation region, and travel numbers across the continent are up, with some countries faring better than others.

One front-runner with international tourist arrivals is Spain, with a whopping nearly 65.8% increase in arrivals for this January as compared to last, according to information from the National Institute of Statistics.

Spain welcomed over 70 million tourists last year, but as over 4 million arrivals have already arrived this January alone, it’s looking like it will smash last year’s number.

From magical small villages to stunning coastal towns to big cities jam-packed with culture, there really is something for everyone to enjoy in Spain.

Also, another reason for anyone to take a trip to Spain this summer is the prospect of free train passes, allowing visitors to explore this amazing country via rail for free!

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It should come as no surprise to see Dubai on this list of trending destinations for 2023, as it’s also recently been named the top destination worldwide.

And with more flight options from the United States, travel to Dubai has never been easier. As one of the top 5 most visited cities in the world, Dubai saw nearly 1.5 million visitors in January 2023 alone.

While there are many reasons travelers love Dubai, it seems this year they love it a bit more.

With endless attractions, amazing hotels and skyscrapers, and unbelievable landscapes, Dubai deserves its fanfare.

It’s been described as a perfect blend of luxury and adventure, and travelers who visit are met with an array of ways to pass the time. From desert rides to rooftop cocktails, there seems to be something for everyone’s tastes in Dubai.

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Travel to Africa has taken a bit of a slow start since the pandemic, with many countries reporting upticks in international arrivals but nowhere near the massive spikes we have seen in other regions such as Europe or Asia.

A long-time favorite with those looking for safaris is Kenya, and this East African gem is seeing its international arrival numbers steadily climbing back up.

In 2022 Kenya had nearly 1.5 million international tourists, which was a massive climb from the previous year. January and February of 2023 saw nearly 300,000 tourist arrivals for Kenya, meaning it’s well on track to beat last year’s number.

Travelers who are looking for a little more luxury while they safari will also be pleased to know that high-end options in Kenya are expanding, with JW Marriott opening their first luxury safari property there this year.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

These two senior friends prove that getting older doesn't have to stop you from traveling! Globe Aware volunteer vacations welcome all our senior volunteers!

These 81-year-old best friends traveled the world in 80 days

April 8, 2023

A pair of best friends from Texas are proving that adventure doesn't have an age limit -- even when you're 81.

Ellie Hamby, a documentary photographer, and Sandy Hazelip, a physician and lecturer, toured the world in 80 days, adventuring from the beaches of Bali to the deserts of Egypt.

The octogenarian grandmothers started their ambitious adventure on January 11, according to the blog the two have used to document their travels.

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Their first stop was a location that eludes even many seasoned travellers: Antarctica.

Getting to the southernmost continent first required crossing the Drake Passage, the notoriously rough waters between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica's South Shetland Islands.

"For almost two days, we were a rocking and rolling and a slipping and sliding through the Drake Passage and we were holding on for dear life," Hamby said in an interview with CNN. "It was just wild."

"But when we stepped foot on the ground on the Antarctic, you forgot all of that," she recalled. "The beauty of the Antarctic is just unbelievable to see the penguins and the icebergs and the glaciers -- just, this was amazing."

Since that first venture, the pair have visited 18 countries across all seven continents, often while clad in matching T-shirts. They've also accrued a loving social media following who track the "traveling grannies" on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.

Hazelip told CNN that she met Hamby after her husband died in 1999. Before his death, he "planted the seed in my heart that we should start taking our grandsons on mission trips in the summer," she said. This led her to the Zambia Medical Mission, a project run by Hamby and her husband in southern Africa.

The two bonded over their shared interest in travel and commitment to prioritizing unique experiences over comfort and amenities while abroad. Both became closer as widows after Hamby's husband died in 2005.

Hazelip says the idea for their trip originated a few years before they were each set to turn 80.

"I just got the idea because we had traveled previously together internationally," she said. "And so about four years before we were going to turn 80, I mentioned to her one day, 'Ellie, wouldn't it be fun to go around the world in 80 days at age 80?'"

On their website, Hamby and Hazelip say they dedicated the trip to their late husbands, Kelly and Don. "We miss you and wish you were joining our adventure," they write.

Originally, the two planned to disembark in 2022 when they were 80 years old. "And COVID shut those plans down," Hazelip went on. "But COVID didn't shut us down. So we went this year, and our theme was, 'At 81 and still on the run.'"

Over the past three months, the pair have ridden camels in Egypt, met elephants in Bali, danced in Nepal, and observed the Northern Lights in Finland.

And despite the challenges international travel presents, the best friends say they finished their trip without any arguments.

"We're both independent, very stubborn. But we seem to allow each other to give space," said Hamby. "We just understand each other and we know this is a good thing we're doing and we kind of respect each other's feelings."

For Hamby, the highlight of the trip was the people they met along the way.

"We love all the sights that we saw, but the things that we remember the most are the people that we met," she said. "We met some of the most wonderful, kindest, friendliest people in the world. We just have friends now all over the world that we love dearly."

"We always say when we started this, we did not plan a vacation," she added. "We planned an adventure. And every single day was an adventure."

Although Hamby and Hazelip have finished their worldly quest and returned home to Texas, the two are already planning for their next trip, they told CNN.

And they shared a crucial piece of advice for any travellers worried about the language barrier on their own adventures.

"You know, people ask us often about the language, how we manage it," said Hamby. "We say with Sandy and Ellie, there's one language and that's a smile. And we found that worked wonders because we were often aware that there was not English spoken. But a smile covers all languages."

They also encouraged other older travellers to not let age hold them back. Aside from some small concessions -- like deciding not to ride a motorbike in Bali because of concerns about falling -- they said their age didn't affect their itinerary abroad. They said felt confident that if they were injured on their trip, their children "would have been at peace knowing that we were doing what we absolutely wanted," said Hazelip.

Hazelip described 81 as "the perfect age" to embark on their trip.

"Getting older does give you a little bit of wisdom of making decisions," she said. "And so that's the fun part. I think at this age I appreciate so much [of] the beauty and I can really just soak it in. And for me, this was the perfect age to go. I'm so thankful."

Additional Info

  • Source CTV

Family Travel Volunteer Trips
Jan 09, 2023

When you’re the parents of multiple young children, traveling is always a lot of work. Planning your family trip to the other side of the state can seem overwhelming when you’re juggling nap schedules, kid gear, and well-timed rest stops. Knowing this reality, the idea of planning your family international volunteer trip with your children may seem…how can we put it…unwise, and maybe even a little crazy? However, we’ve had the great privilege of doing exactly this with our four children…more than once! We’d love to share some practical tips with you if you’re getting ready to jump into international travel with little kids. Is it work? Yes. Is it worthwhile? Absolutely.

Start with prayer when planning your family international volunteer trip
Pray for wisdom together as a family about whether this trip is right for all of you at the present time. Ask God to allow you to use your gifts for His glory and that He will bless others through your work. Going on a trip to serve other people is good, but making sure your heart and mind are focused on Christ and His leading is even more vital to your trip.

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Work with a trustworthy organization
This will save you many headaches when planning your family international volunteer trip! There are some excellent international volunteer organizations with good reputations, and many encourage family travel. The partner you choose can make or break your trip, so choose wisely! To help you figure out which organizations might be a good fit, we’ve included a list of questions below to help you narrow down your options.

Does this organization….

…have a good reputation?

…respond promptly to your questions via email or phone?

…refer you to others who have used them and been happy with their experience?

…have multiple international locations from which to choose?

…support work and causes that reflect your personal family values?

…allow their teams to share their faith during trips?

…support the trips in particular ways?

…price their trips fairly? What is included in the cost?

…spend more of the money on the people they’re trying to help or use most of it to keep their business running?

Personally, we’ve always used Globe Aware. They not only allow you to bring young kids, but they also encourage it!

Who will be going?
Just your family? Is anyone staying behind? Will other volunteers be joining you at your destination? Would any extended family or friends like to come as well? (This can be a bonus on multiple levels: More people means more fun, and kids always like traveling with buddies!)

Where are you going?
Is there a particular program location that your organization offers that you feel pulled towards? Is there a certain kind of volunteer work you want to engage in, and is it offered in your desired location? We recommend choosing a destination when planning your family international volunteer trip that is a relatively easy trip for your first time, such as a country in Central or South America. Global travel requires flexibility, and you want to make it as easy and predictable as possible.

Choosing a place within a couple of time zones of your home state can minimize jet lag and help with adaptability. (In other words, don’t start with eastern Europe, which tends to run a good 8-10 hours ahead of most of the United States!)

Bonus tip: If you’re open to suggestions, ask the organization if there is a particular location that they would recommend for your family as you plan your family international volunteer trip. They may have some great options for you that you’d never think of yourself.

What type of work do you want to do?
If you are looking for a specific kind of work, it’s great to look for a program location that will allow your family to have those opportunities. On the flip side, it’s also wise to avoid places requiring work that doesn’t fit your family’s skill set. Our family looks for programs that will give us the opportunity to work with our kids. We enjoy these types of tasks, and our children like interacting with kids at our destinations and experiencing what life is like in other parts of the world.

Fourth, you’ll want to get your to-do list in order. There are a lot of pieces that go into international travel. Let’s tackle them one by one:

Make sure these are current when planning your family international volunteer trip! We recommend working on these about 6-12 months in advance to not have to worry about them arriving on time. Passports for children are only valid for five years rather than ten, so if you or your kids already have them, double-check those expiration dates. We recommend a buffer of one year, that way, they won’t expire until well after the date of your planned trip.

Health and vaccinations
Ask the organization you’re working with if there are any special health considerations at your destination when planning your family international volunteer trip. Some countries may require special immunizations that will be important to receive for your family’s health and safety.

Many organizations will give you some basic international travel insurance in the program fee, but you’ll want to know exactly what that includes so that you can determine if you want to purchase any additional coverage. Often, organizations can recommend a reputable carrier.

Depending on the weather and the work you’re planning to do, it’s crucial to choose appropriate clothing when planning your family international volunteer trip. If you will be painting or doing a lot of physical labor, you should bring old clothes that you can discard if needed once you get home. Since you won’t only be working while you travel, make sure you also pack special sightseeing clothing as well.

Some airlines or destinations may limit the amount of luggage each person can bring along, so keep that in mind. Airplane trips can be very long, and we’ve found that packing extra snacks and small toys for the kids is a big help. You also may want to consider bringing special gifts for the group you’ll be assisting (your organization will probably have some good recommendations!).

Funny story: When we were going on our first trip to Peru, one of the suggestions that Globe Aware made was to bring toothpaste for the kids with whom we’d be working. We packed a suitcase full of toothpaste and toothbrushes to give away when we arrived, however, the suitcase never made it to us! It got stalled at an inspection in Colombia, and we got it back about a month after we returned home.

You will likely need to exchange some US dollars for local currency. Many people don’t know that if you give your local bank some notice, they may be able to do this for you before you even depart. However, if this isn’t an option for you, you will likely be able to do this at the airport when you arrive in the country (or your organization’s program coordinators can help you do it locally after you arrive at your destination).

Make sure your banks know that you will be traveling if you intend to use any credit or debit cards during your travels when planning your family international volunteer trip. You’ll want to notify them of the specific dates you will be gone and where you’ll be traveling internationally. A frozen account due to “suspect charges” is a nightmare to deal with overseas!

It’s a good idea to purposefully book flights that will be easy and convenient for your family when planning your family international volunteer trip. There are a lot of moving parts when you travel internationally, and choosing a good flight schedule can make things run much smoother (i.e., no red eyes with toddlers). Your organization may be able to provide some good travel recommendations: when and where to arrive, or possibly even specific airlines to choose. (Tip: Fly For Good sometimes offers discounted fares for volunteer trips.)

On our first international family trip, we missed a connecting flight by a few minutes and ended up having to spend the night in Denver before flying down to Peru the next day. We arrived a day late to our program site, and it was very stressful (for us parents) rebooking international flights for our entire family! We did find it interesting that our kids didn’t seem to miss a beat during our unexpected delay. This impressed upon us the importance of remaining calm and patient when dealing with unexpected challenges. Kids will notice and model Dad and Mom’s behavior.

You will want to determine if you will be responsible for any of your own food when planning your family international volunteer trip. Sometimes, organizations will provide meals for you, and it’s wise – especially with kids – to know in advance what kind of fare you’ll be experiencing. This will give you the chance to talk with your children about new foods so that they are not surprised.

If you have very young kids, bringing some familiar snacks to help offset the culture shock can be very beneficial. We often bring a suitcase full of snacks for our kids to eat during these trips, as we know that there will be meals that they will not like. When the food has been eaten, we have room in that same suitcase for souvenirs to bring back home!

Ask your organization where you will be staying when planning your family international volunteer trip: a hotel, rented home, a condo? Some places will have multiple options, while others will be more limited. If you have options, we recommend doing your best to choose a place with hot water, internet, and heating and air conditioning.

When we traveled to Peru, we were lucky to have a warm shower – certainly not hot – but the rooms we were staying in did not have air conditioning or heating (you may need to consider bringing extra blankets). Also, keep in mind that many countries have different types of outlets. You may need to purchase a specific power adapter to charge your phone or other electronic devices in a different country.

Will your sponsoring organization be providing all of your in-country transportation? If not, how do you plan to get around (cabs, buses, rental cars, etc.)? We have used taxis, trains, vans, station wagons, and buses when traveling in other countries.

Traveling to another country as volunteers can be an excellent way to make lasting, life-changing memories with your family. It’s a lot of work, but the rewards are well worth it. Having your heart right before the Lord is a vital part of trips like this, and it makes a big difference in your focus. Working with a reputable organization can be a huge help, especially if your family is going on a trip like this for the first time.

Once you figure out where you’ll be going and what you’ll be doing, sit down together and hammer out the details so that your traveling can be as smooth as possible. We’re excited for you! You won’t regret it.

If you are still not sure about taking your family on an international volunteer trip, check out these 8 Powerful Reasons to Consider Family International Volunteer Trips with Kids.

Key Points
Family international volunteer trips with your kids can be very rewarding but do require a lot of planning.
It is critical to find an organization whose values are consistent with those of your family, and that encourages you to bring your kids.
It is a blessing to give to others through the use of your gifts during an international volunteer trip, and you and your family will receive many great experiences and memories that will last a lifetime in return.

Additional Info

  • Source Faithful Parent

It’s more likely that in the future, your heartbeat might replace your passport. Do our Globe Aware volunteers believe that's likely to happen?

Future travel: Soon, your heart and not passport will play a crucial role in taking you places

Mar 31, 2023

It’s more likely that in the future, your heartbeat might replace your passport. Well, the future of travel will not be close to anything, which you can relate to today.

If we go by what experts have to say, instead of scanning passports, future airports will instead scan travellers’ heartbeats and other biometric information.

This report is based as per a London-headquartered airline group easyJet's 'future travel' forecast, and travel will be nothing like what one knows at present. A number of experts cited opine that the airports of the future will scan people's heartbeats and biometric details instead of a passport.

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With regard to this, professor Birgitte Andersen of Birkbeck College stated that going forward, the destinations we fly to, the type of accommodation we stay in, and the experiences we have, will be changed immeasurably.

The report further added that much like fingerprints and retina, every individual's cardiac signature is also unique. As such, passengers' heartbeat signatures and biometric details will be logged on a global system in the same way finger-print scanning technology works today.

As per its forecast, airport shuttle buses that take passengers to and from the aeroplane on the runway, will also be replaced by e-VTOL flying air taxis, whereas in-flight entertainment will be beamed directly into a passenger's eyes.

In short the future of travel is likely going to change entirely, wherein the technology is set to play an important role. The use of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and augmented reality will let travellers experience destinations in an entirely new way.

Also, in line with sustainable travel, the new form of travel will allow travellers to give back to the communities they visit, and explore destinations in a way that protects the environment and supports local businesses.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

Finding the ideal gift for women who are interested in traveling is tough. Here are some of the best gifts for our Globe Aware volunteers to give to the women travelers in their life, that are useful and enjoyable:


Travel gift ideas for women who love to explore

Looking for gift ideas for women who enjoy travelling? Check out these perfect on-the-go presents!

April 01, 2023
India TV
New Delhi

Travelling is a passion for several women. However, finding the ideal gift for women who take interest in travelling is tough. Whether it's a practical item for a long journey or a thoughtful keepsake to remember a special trip, the options are endless. Here are some of the best gifts to give to women travellers that are useful and enjoyable:

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1. Sipper to keep her hydrated
It's important to stay hydrated while travelling, and carrying a water bottle is a must. A stainless steel sipper is a great choice for those trekking through hills or exploring arid deserts, as it allows you to carry pure, drinkable water with ease.

2. Power Bank
In today's world, we rely heavily on our phones, tablets, and other electronic devices. It's important to keep these devices charged, especially while travelling, for capturing memorable moments or staying in touch with loved ones. A power bank is a perfect gift for any traveller, as it ensures that their devices are always charged and ready to use.

3. Travel Pillows
Travel pillows are essential companions for any flight, providing much-needed comfort and support for those looking to catch up on some rest during their travels. Whether on a long flight or a layover, these pillows help travellers recharge and get the most out of their journeys.

4. Polaroid Camera for capturing moments
Polaroid cameras make for cute gifts for anyone who loves the idea of having instant physical copies of their photos. They not only capture the moment but can also be used as a tangible part of travel journals or diaries. If you know someone who gets excited about instant pictures, consider gifting them a polaroid camera.

5. Luggage Scale
Although a luggage scale may not be the most obvious gift idea for a traveller, it is undoubtedly one of the most useful presents you can give them. Giving a luggage scale as a gift can help your loved one save time, money, and stress during their travels.

6. International Travel Adapter
An international travel adapter is a crucial yet easily overlooked item when it comes to travel essentials. Make sure your friend who loves to travel is fully prepared by giving them an international travel adapter, which will prove to be handy and useful when they need to charge their devices while on vacation abroad.

7. A Backpack
A backpack, an essential item for any solo traveller, allows one to carry the belongings in a convenient and hassle-free way. With the ability to store everything from clothes to snacks, a backpack is especially useful for activities like hiking and mountain climbing.

These gifts are sure to be appreciated and useful during one’s journey. By gifting these items, you can help your loved ones travel with more comfort, convenience, and peace of mind.


Additional Info

  • Source India TV

As one of the top Latin American destinations for 2023, Costa Rica is in no way a secret to our Globe Aware volunteers. Find out why this destination is perfect for every type of traveler!

Why This Central American Country Is Perfect For Every Type Of Traveler

MARCH 26, 2023
Travel off Path

As one of the top Latin American destinations for 2023, Costa Rica is in no way a secret. In fact, this lush country was also recently crowned the 2022 leading destination for Central America.

Costa Rica is an ideal destination for all types of travelers, and it is definitely a country that should not be missed.

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While traveling in Costa Rica, you will likely meet many travelers from North America, as the proximity, little to no time difference, and increase in flight options from both Canada and the U.S. make this such an attractive option for a holiday.

Where else can those from Canada and America escape to a tropical rainforest and be surrounded by wild animals, all within an easy and relatively inexpensive flight away?

While Spanish is, of course, the country’s official language, most locals who work in the tourism industry have a good level of English. And, when interacting with taxi drivers, shop owners, etc., a little Spanish really does go a long way. Just attempting some simple phrases and smiling will get you a much warmer reply from almost anyone.

Recently a surge of crime in and around the main city of San Jose has led to a U.S. travel advisory, so it’s best to stay on top of the current news in regards to this if planning a trip anytime soon.

Those who travel to Costa Rica will likely not spend any time in the city of San Jose, and the country is known to be a very safe destination, but do make sure to be aware of the current situation here.

There are tourist hotspots all over Costa Rica that fit everyone’s interests, and the wealth of information on where to go is vast. This article is here to tell you why you should go, no matter what kind of traveler you are.

Here’s Why Costa Rica Is Perfect For Every Type Of Traveler:

The Backpacker

There is a reason Costa Rica is sometimes referred to as the ‘Switzerland of Central America’, and it’s not because of snow-capped mountains. Costa Rica is known to be an expensive destination, especially so when compared to its neighbors in the Latin America region.

While in no way considered a budget destination, there are ways to save while traveling to this beautiful country. Booking ahead is important, as the budget accommodations do tend to fill up quickly. Budget accommodations will more often than not have a shared kitchen, so those on a strict budget can prepare their own meals and cut costs.

Many will tell you to save money by eating at the local restaurant,s or Sodas, but I have found that if you are in or around the tourist towns, these can still run you around $20 for two lunches. While this price tag is fine for many, the true-budget backpacker might find this too expensive, so having a kitchen (or even a hotplate) will help out a lot in this department.

Traveling the country via the local ‘chicken’ busses also cuts down on costs dramatically, not to mention the experience of riding through the countryside with locals on an old American school bus really can’t be missed.

Also, while many of the popular attractions do cost money to enter, there are free options in each town worth exploring. All it takes is a little homework (for example, the free hot springs in La Fortuna is a popular budget option).

The Solo Traveler

As it’s such a popular tourist destination, Costa Rica has a pretty well-established tourist route (sometimes referred to as the ‘gringo trail’). This, coupled with the general friendliness towards foreigners from the locals, makes this country a great choice for solo travel.

While some other central American countries might seem a bit more intimidating, Costa Rica is a well-known, tried and true country for travelers, and therefore there is no end of information for those looking to plan a trip.

No solo traveler will head to Costa Rica without having scoured the internet for all the tips and tricks, and resources such as Facebook groups are helpful here to connect with others as well.

Speaking of connection, the hotspots you will want to visit in Costa Rica are found in every corner of the country, and shuttles that connect these places are easy and convenient, helping the solo traveler connect with others and avoid any public transportation headaches.

The Lux Seekers

Those who are looking for a luxurious vacation are spoiled for choice in Costa Rica, as the country has a variety of the biggest and best resort chains in Central America.

The most popular area for high-end travel is the country’s Pacific Coast, with the largest concentration of upmarket properties centralized around Guanacaste province and especially in the Papagayo Peninsula. With everything from round-the-clock butlers to private infinity pools overlooking the rainforest, if you are coming here with money to spend, then you are in the right place.

One advantage of having an unlimited budget means private guides and after-hours access to popular attractions. While many places can get crowded during the daytime, oftentimes, having your own guide allows you unparalleled access and the ability to avoid the masses.

The Digital Nomad

Offering a somewhat simple digital nomad visa (DNV), Costa Rica attracts many who are seeking to work from their hammocks perched in the forest. Pro-tip: an airplane pillow (stuffed with clothes to save space) works well as a hammock headrest and makes laptop living much more comfortable!

Digital nomads love Costa Rica for many reasons, ranging from the stunning scenery to the overall high internet speeds around the county’s more popular areas. A local SIM card is an inexpensive option to make sure you always have a backup, and a portable battery pack is a good idea as the country is prone to frequent (yet brief) power outages.

One hint, if you are taking a “hush trip” or planning on working from Costa Rica secretly, you might want to prepare yourself for the howler monkeys to blow your cover with their insanely loud noises in the morning. (it’s a risk worth taking, though!)

The Family Travelers

Costa Rica is the perfect location for those traveling with children of all ages, for both the safety aspect as well as the sheer amount of activities to keep them busy.

From night walks looking for tarantulas to zip-lining through the tree canopies, any kid who goes on vacation here is sure to be the envy of their classmates when they return to the real world.

Most resorts have children’s programs, and almost every guide and tour is extremely child friendly.

Not to mention many Airbnb’s here are run by local families, offering your child the chance to interact with locals and see the trip as a learning experience and possibly a mini Spanish immersion camp!

Everyone Else

Costa Rica is a destination that is diverse, beautiful, and welcoming. It really should be seen to be believed, and almost anyone who visits will find themselves richer for the experience.

In addition to the groups mentioned above, nature and adventure lovers will find themselves with unlimited things to do and see here.

Another group that is loving Costa Rica at the moment is Millennials. Finding that the country offers them the cultural and personal travel experiences that they seek, all with good WiFi coverage, of course.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

Cambodian cuisine may not be as popular as that of its neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam, but it’s no less tasty than theirs. Cambodia's cuisine is a part of your Globe Aware volunteer vacation experience when visiting the country.

The Most Popular And Tastiest Dishes From Cambodian Food

Slurrp Editorial
January 28, 2023

A Cambodian meal usually consists of soup, a main fish dish, vegetables, rice, salad, and soup.

Cambodian cuisine may not be as popular as that of its neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam, but it’s no less tasty than theirs. Cambodia's cuisine should be part of your overall experience when visiting the country. A Cambodian meal usually consists of soup, a main fish dish, vegetables, rice, salad, and soup. Fresh fruit and sticky rice are frequently used to make Cambodian sweet treats. So, here are the top ten foods to try while visiting there.

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Fish Amok (steamed coconut fish in banana leaves)

As part of the Cambodian diet, rice and freshwater fish are vital components given their abundance. Amok is a beloved national dish that is composed of fish, coconut milk, and curry paste. All these are combined and served in a banana leaf cup with coconut cream on top, then steamed. Another popular variant is amok chouk, which consists of snails with curry that are steamed inside their shells. It is typically served with a plate of freshly steamed rice.

Twa Ko (Cambodian Sausage)

The Cambodian sausage, also known as twa koh, is made from beef or pork and spices. It is just as delicious as anything you would make at home, with at least 20–25% fat. The twa koh can be eaten as a snack, served with steamed rice and vegetables, or barbecued, grilled, or pan-fried. In addition to pork belly, another popular ingredient is duck fat.

Kuy Teav

Kuy teav is a type of soup that is composed of pork or beef stock, rice vermicelli, and various garnishes like bean sprouts and scallions. You can also add various types of meat, such as pork, chicken, fish balls, beef, and seafood. Depending on the region, it is typically served with a sweet, spicy, garlic sauce and a thin slice of lime, which add to its flavor. If you are out looking for a kuy teav shop, you can easily find one at an open-air food stall at any market.

Nom Banh Chok (Khmer noodles)

Noms banh chok is a popular Khmer noodle dish that is usually eaten for breakfast. It includes rice noodles, green fish gravy, cucumbers, green beans, mint leaves, banana blossoms, and bean sprouts. Kanom jeen is a Thai dish that is very similar to it. You should not skip out on having this noodle-based dish there.

Chicken and Banana Flower Salad

This salad is the ideal way to stave off midday hunger pangs, as it is served with refreshing and light chicken breast slices, crunchy banana blossom flowers, fried shallots, garlic, chilies, and lemongrass, along with fresh lime squeezed on top. Sounds delicious.

Bai Sach Chrouk (Grilled Pork and Broken Rice)

The Bai Sach Chrouk is pork marinated in coconut milk or garlic and grilled slowly before being served with broken or fractured rice and a small bowl of clear chicken broth, as well as some fresh vegetables. It is eaten all over the country, particularly in busy neighborhoods, and is extremely popular and sold in many middle- and upper-class restaurants. You may try it with iced coffee since it pairs very well.

Beef Loc Lac

Stir-fried beef strips are the signature item here, served on a bed of lettuce leaves with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and rings of raw onion slices. A fried egg can be added to complete the meal. Kampot pepper is the best way to create the flavors of this dish. The lime juice and pepper combination is the best dish.

Kuy Teav (Noodle Soup)

Noodle soups with beef or pork stock and rice vermicelli are served with bean sprouts and green onions as toppings in Kuy Teav. You can add meat, such as pork, chicken, fish balls, beef, and seafood, as well as vegetables. In addition to the flavors that begin with the real flavors of the open-air food stalls, sweet, spicy garlic sauce and a slice of fresh lime may be added. Head to the outdoor food stalls at any market, and you will find kuy teav shops in no time.

Crab and pepper

This scrumptious dish is only available in the coastal town of Kep, yet it's the place to find it at its best. Crabs caught daily and sold at the bustling Crab Market are served in a variety of crab and pepper stir-fries at restaurants and crab shacks throughout Kampot.

Lok Lak (Stir-Fried beef in brown sauce)

This dish is stir-fried beef slices (or pork) in a light brown sauce and served with rice and/or green salad and pepper sauce. The taste of the dish varies depending on the chef and the region. It is a traditional Khmer dish that should be on your must-have list of dishes in Cambodia.

Additional Info

  • Source Slurrp

Here's a list of how 12 different countries welcome Spring, whether people celebrate Easter or observe the spring equinox. Do our Globe Aware volunteers celebrate any of these?

12 Spring Traditions Around the World

Spring is a time of rebirth, renewal, and warm-weather activities. Baby animals are born, flowers bloom, and families around the world welcome spring with their own traditions. Through food, festivals, and various activities, the spring celebrations are endless. Here’s a list of how 12 different countries welcome spring, whether people celebrate Easter or observe the spring equinox.

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Edible Spring Traditions

Butter Lambs (Russia, Slovenia, Poland)

Butter lambs decorate Easter tables throughout Central and Eastern Europe, particularly in countries such as Russia, Slovenia, and Poland. Butter lambs are exactly what they sound like: mounds of butter that have been carved or molded to look like a lamb. Although many stores now sell butter lambs, hand making these classic centerpieces at home is a beloved tradition for many families. When using the butter lamb, the proper etiquette is to start at the back and leave the head for last. Butter up!

Chocolate Bilby (Australia)

Bilbies are rabbit-sized marsupials with large ears and thin, pointy noses. These burrowing creatures are native to Australia and once inhabited 70% of the continent, but their population began to decline after rabbits were introduced to the ecosystem in 1859. In 1991, a campaign launched to replace the Easter Bunny with the Easter Bilby to raise awareness for bilby conservation efforts. Soon after the Easter Bilby was adopted, chocolate bilbies began taking over candy stores. Today, chocolate bilbies are popular across Australia, and the Easter Bilby campaign has been monumental in raising awareness for bilby conservation projects.

Cimburijada (Bosnia)

Cimburijada, or the Festival of Scrambled Eggs, welcomes spring with a feast. During Cimburijada, Bosnians crack thousands of eggs to make enough scrambled eggs to feed the entire neighborhood! The cooking begins at dawn on the first day of spring. Crowds gather in Zenica near the Bosna River, the streets lined with giant pots and pans. To the Bosnian community, the eggs are both delicious and symbolize the birth of new life.

Nowruz (Iran)

Nowruz, meaning “new day” in Persian, is an Iranian spring tradition that celebrates the rebirth of nature. The haftseen is a ceremonial table prepared during Nowruz that contains seven items representing spring. The seven items may include the seeb (apple), seer (garlic), serkeh (vinegar), senjed (dried fruit), samanu (sweet pudding), sabzeh (sprouts), and sumac (red Persian spice). Once the seven elements are in place, families can add extra items such as coins, colored eggs, and even goldfish! The haftseen table remains in place until the Nowruz celebration is over.

Spring Festivals

Holi (India)

Holi, also called the Festival of Colors, is an ancient Indian tradition that celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of spring. During this lively outdoor festival, people light bonfires, throw colored powder called gulal, sing and dance, and eat delicious sweets and treats. By the end of the festival, everyone has a full belly and is covered from head to toe with bright colors!

Songkran (Thailand)

The Songkran festival marks the beginning of the Thai New Year. It takes place in April, Thailand’s hottest month. Water is an important symbol during Songkran because it represents washing away the old year and anticipates rainfall for the coming season. During the multi-day festival, people flock to the streets to throw water at each other. From water balloons to buckets, there are endless ways to soak friends and family!

Spring Equinox at the Teotihuacan Pyramid (Mexico)

The spring equinox occurs when the Sun shines directly above the Earth’s equator, causing day and night to be equal lengths of time. In Mexico, one of the most popular places to celebrate the spring equinox is at the Teotihuacan Pyramid, or the Pyramid of the Sun. Every year, people dressed in all white climb to the top of the pyramid. The color white is believed to absorb the good energy that the equinox and spring will both bring.

Flower Parade of the Bollenstreek (Holland)

Holland is famous for its abundance of tulip-covered fields. One of Holland’s biggest and most anticipated spring events is the Flower Parade of the Bollenstreek. Dozens of floats made of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, and more parade through several villages from Noordwijk to Haarlem. Millions of flowers are used to make these beautiful floats, which can take the shape of anything from ducks to chairs! The floats make their final stop in Haarlem, where onlookers can view the floats up close.

Sham el Nessim (Egypt)

Egyptians celebrate the Sham el Nessim spring festival the Monday after Easter. The festival’s name translates to “smelling the breeze,” acknowledging the coming harvest and the change in the spring air. Families celebrate Sham el Nessim by decorating and writing wishes on hard boiled eggs. The eggs symbolize rebirth, and many families hang baskets of eggs outside their homes, hoping that their wishes get fulfilled.

Spring Games and Activities

Martenitsa Bracelets (Bulgaria)

Bulgarians celebrate the arrival of spring with red-and-white bracelets called martenitsa. The martenitsa threads bond Bulgarian communities and represent the strength, health, and happiness of the country. As winter fades away, friends and family exchange martenitsa and wear them in anticipation of spring. When someone sees a sign of spring, such as a first bloom, stork, or swallow, they take off their martenitsa and tie it to a nearby tree. Once spring is in full effect, trees everywhere are decorated with beautiful martenitsa!

Egg Standing Game (China)

The Li Chun festival celebrates the Spring Equinox and marks the beginning of spring in many East Asian cultures. During the Li Chun festival, people decorate eggs and play the “egg standing game.” Many believe that because the Sun is directly above the equator during the spring equinox, the eggs are more likely to stay balanced. Tradition says that if you are successful at balancing your egg, you will have health and good luck for the rest of the year!

Pot Throwing (Greece)

On Easter Saturday, the Greek island of Corfu celebrates with a smash! Corfu islanders celebrate by throwing clay pots full of water out their windows, resulting in a thunderous melody of shattering pots. The custom is believed to ward off bad spirits, and residents often take home shards of the pots as good luck charms. Every year, hundreds of people gather to watch the smashing pots, keeping alive this beloved tradition.

Additional Info

  • Source Little Passports

Globe Aware volunteers, did you know that in a few years, you could have longer flight options, over 19 hours!? Find out what you can do to help your body when you're on a long-haul flight.

What happens to your body on a long-haul flight

Tony Schiemer
March 7, 2023

(CNN) — If crowded airports are a sign, travelers are keen to get back into the skies. And if you're flying long haul, in a few years you could have an even longer option.

Qantas has announced from late 2025, it will fly passengers on nonstop flights from Australia's east coast to London that would see you in the air for more than 19 hours in one stretch. That's compared with current flights that take the best part of 24 hours but are broken up into shorter legs.

So what will happen to your body during one of these longer flights? Is it any different to what happens when you fly long-haul now?

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1. You can become dehydrated

Dehydration is common on long-haul flights. It can explain why your throat, nose and skin can feel dry on an airplane. The longer the flight, the greater the risk of dehydration.

That's because of low levels of humidity in the cabin compared with what you'd expect on the ground. This is mostly because a lot of the air circulating through the cabin is drawn from the outside, and there's not a lot of moisture in the air at high altitudes.

You also risk dehydration by not drinking enough water, or drinking too much alcohol (alcohol is a diuretic, resulting in an increase in fluid lost).

So drink water before you jump on the plane. During the flight, you'll also need to drink more water than you usually would.

2. The cabin can play havoc with your ears, sinuses, gut and sleep

As the cabin pressure changes, the gas in our bodies reacts accordingly. It expands as the aircraft climbs and pressure decreases, and the opposite occurs as we descend. This can lead to common problems such as:

  • earaches -- when the air pressure either side of your eardrum is different, placing pressure on the eardrum
  • headaches -- can be caused by expanding air trapped in your sinuses
  • gut problems -- just accept that you're going to fart more.

You can also feel more sleepy than usual. That's due to the body not being able to absorb as much oxygen from the cabin air at altitude than it would on the ground. Slowing down is the body's way of protecting itself, and this can make you feel sleepy.

The good news is that most of these problems won't necessarily be more pronounced on longer flights. They're mainly an issue as the plane climbs and descends.

3. You could develop blood clots

Blood clots, associated with being immobile for long periods, are usually a big concern for passengers. These include clots that form in the leg (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) that can travel to the lung (where it's known as a pulmonary embolism).

If you don't move around on the plane, and the more of the following risk factors you have, the greater the chance of blood clots developing:

  • older age
  • obesity
  • previous history or a family history of clots
  • certain types of clotting disorders
  • cancer
  • recent immobilization or surgery
  • pregnancy or recently given birth
  • hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptive pill.

According to a review in 2022, combining data from 18 studies, the longer you travel, the greater the risk of blood clots. The authors calculated there was a 26% higher risk for every two hours of air travel, starting after four hours.

So what about the risk of clots on these longer flights? We won't know for sure until we start studying passengers on them.

Until that evidence comes in, the current advice still applies. Keep moving, stay hydrated and limit alcohol consumption.

There's also evidence for wearing compression stockings to prevent blood clots. These stockings are said to promote blood flow in the legs and to help blood return to the heart. This would normally happen by muscle contractions from moving or walking.

A 2021 Cochrane review combined the results of nine trials with 2,637 participants who were randomized to wear compression stockings (or not) on flights lasting more than five hours.

No participants developed symptomatic DVTs. But there was evidence people who wore the stockings considerably reduced their chance of developing clots without symptoms, and we know that any clot can potentially grow, move and subsequently, cause symptoms.

So if you are concerned about your risk of developing blood clots, see your GP before you fly.

Usually if you do develop a blood clot, you won't know about it until after the flight, as the clot takes time to form and travel. So keep an eye out for symptoms after the flight -- pain and swelling in a leg (often just the one), chest pain, coughing and shortness of breath. And seek emergency health care if you do.

4. Then there's jet lag, radiation, Covid

Then there's jet lag, which is a stranger to few of us. This is a disconnect between the time your body thinks it is and the time by the clock, as you cross time zones.

Longer flights mean you are more likely (but not always) to cross more time zones. Jet lag will usually become more problematic when you cross three or more, especially if you're traveling east.

And if you take long-haul flights very often, it's reasonable to assume that the longer you're in the air, the greater the exposure to cosmic radiation. As the name suggests, this is radiation that comes from space, which may increase the risk of cancer and reproductive issues. We don't know what level of exposure is safe.

However, unless you fly frequently it's unlikely to be a problem. If you're pregnant or have other concerns, have a chat to your doctor before you fly.

And don't forget Covid. Take the usual precautions -- wash your hands regularly, wear a mask and don't fly if you're unwell.

In a nutshell

Research into how the body reacts to these longer, nonstop flights between Australia and Europe is in its early stages. Teams in Australia are looking at this now.

Until then, if you're taking a regular long-haul flight, the advice is relatively simple.

Follow the advice the airlines give you, and see your doctor before you travel if necessary. During flight, make that extra effort to move about the cabin, drink water, wear a mask and practice good hand hygiene.

And see a doctor immediately for any worrying symptoms after your flight, as blood clots can take hours or even days to form, grow and move along your veins.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 15 March 2023 08:57

Top tips for holidaying with young kids

With spring break here, and summer travel plans on the way, here are travel tips for our Globe Aware families. Traveling with young children can be chaotic, so we hope these tips will help you on your way to your next volunteer vacation!

Family travel: Top tips for holidaying with young kids

By Anna Sarjeant
1 Mar, 2023
New Zealand Herald

Hoping to holiday with tots and toddlers? It won’t be stress-free, but it could be stress-reduced with these handy travel hacks, writes Anna Sarjeant.

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Pre-departure flight tips

You can request a bassinet on the plane. There’s no guarantee you’ll secure one, but once you’ve booked your flight(s), ring the airline directly to ask. Most airlines have an age restriction of two years, but some go on height or weight. Pro tip: If you request a bassinet, mention it at check-in as well.

Each airline varies but child fares generally have the same baggage allowance as an adult. If they’re under 2 years of age and flying for free, it will be classed as an infant fare and likely include some carry-on allowance but no checked bag.

In addition to your normal luggage allowance (for example 23kg checked-in baggage with Air New Zealand), it’s common to be able to take at least two of the following: stroller, car seat or bassinet. Pro tip: Unless you’ve paid for a seat for your child under 2 years, they’ll be sitting on your lap. If you want to use a car seat in the cabin, you’ll need to pay for a child fare.

Packing tips

You might need a car seat to get to and from the airport. If you’re not taking one, most private or shared transfers including shuttles will have the option to add a baby capsule or car seat when you book.

For your carry-on, pack extra baby clothes for an ill-timed bowel movement as well as winter and summer options, because when it comes to air-con on a plane, you never know what temperature you’re going to get.

Did you know iPhone has a built-in white noise machine? Simply go to settings – Audio/Visual – Background Sounds. Saves you from packing the bulkier white-noise machine.

In this day and age, everything needs charging. From our phones to wireless headphones, music speakers, iPads - and the list goes on. It’s useful to pack a power board (or two) so you can charge multiple devices in one go.

Take a simple first-aid kit for minor grievances while you’re away (and at times, major reassurance for parents), such as plasters, paracetamol and a thermometer. If you have a tiny tot, pack the trusty nasal aspirator, especially as seemingly mild sinus issues can flare up after a flight.

It’s an easy one to forget but a small night light for kids who get discombobulated in new surroundings can make the sleeping transition at your accommodation a little easier.

If you have the weight and space capacity – and you’re off to a hot country – consider taking a collapsible pet/kid pool. Toddlers and small babies will benefit from staying cool and you can pick it up and shift it as the sun (and shade) moves. Pro tip: Some baby beach tents come with a built-in basin.

At the airport

Tucker your wee ones out before boarding. In an ideal world (which doesn’t actually exist now you’re a parent), you’ll have booked a flight around nap time. Then, you’ll have 1-3 hours to exhaust the tykes before take-off. Pro-tip: Have baby sanitising wipes to hand; airports are riddled with germs, as we all well know.

Gate check your stroller. Simply mention it at check-in and you’ll receive a special tag. You can use the stroller right up until boarding and then leave it at the plane door: baggage handlers will collect it from there. Upon landing, it’ll be waiting for you at baggage claim or even better, just after disembarking. Pro tip: Pack a mini puncture repair kit just in case the worst happens.

Take a baby carrier in your carry-on, just in case you go to Sydney but your baby’s stroller goes to Miami for Spring Break.

On the plane

We’ve all winced at a wailing baby on a plane (or god forbid, multiple wailing babies), but potentially their little ears are a red hot, screaming mess. Especially on take-off and landing. Depending on their age and your current set-up, hook them up to a nipple, bottle or sippy cup (lollies if they’re old enough) to combat changing air pressure on tiny ear drums.

Give your kids extra fluids while in the air. Flying is dehydrating and if the family arrives thirsty, you’ll be on the back foot trying to avoid dehydration from the off. Not fun.

Toys, snacks, stickers and more snacks... heck, pack the always-fascinating TV remote if it’ll keep little minds occupied. Instagram parents swear by “window clings”, reusable window stickers that – much to the joy of your airline – don’t leave a residue. Also good for car journeys.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of repetition. Pack a snaplock bag of craft shop pompoms and ask the flight attendant for an empty water cup. Pompoms in, pompoms out – hours of fun. Or at least 5 minutes.


Additional Info

  • Source New Zealand Herald

Now that Cambodia is fully open for our Globe Aware volunteers, Angkor Wat is the perfect choice for travelers who love time traveling, especially history-loving tourists!

Decay And Beauty: 10 Hauntingly Beautiful Ruins That Will Take Your Breath Away

MAR 1, 2023

Traveling is always exciting, but another part of these trips that gives pleasure is getting to know the people, cultures, and most importantly, the history of the countries. Sometimes, looking at a historical monument, thinking that the monument, which is now only a remnant, was once a building or tower recently commissioned, imagining the people who lived there, and the important historical events that took place, can drag a person into a dream world that lasts for hours. For history lovers who want to add another flavor to their trip, or for those who just want to set foot in historical places, here are the 10 most fascinating and breathtaking historical places in the world.

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10 Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, formerly Pagan, is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. Founded in the 2nd century, the temple city became the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, which was the first kingdom to unite the region from the 9th to the 13th century. The temple city is on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list. According to UNESCO records, there are 2,229 temples in the 40 km² Bagan Archaeological Site. Although there have been those that have been destroyed by earthquakes that have been going on for hundreds of years, most of these temples are still standing today. The Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River runs through the northern and western edges of Bagan, which was once the capital of a powerful kingdom. The Bagan archaeological site is home to Nyaung U, Old Bagan, Myinkaba, New Bagan, and several cities. Among them, Nyaung U is the most active city in the region and the main transportation hub.

Date of construction: between the 11th and 13th centuries AD

9 Ephesus, Turkey

The first establishment of the ancient city of Ephesus, within the borders of the Selçuk District of İzmir Province, dates back to 6000 BC. During the research and excavations carried out in recent years, settlements belonging to the Bronze Ages and Hittites were found on the mounds (prehistoric hill settlements) around Ephesus and on Ayasuluk Hill, where the castle is located. The name of the city was Apasas during the Hittites Period. The port city of Ephesus, where immigrants from Greece started to live in 1050 BC, was moved around the Temple of Artemis in 560 BC. Ephesus, which is visited today, was founded by Lysimakhos, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, around 300 BC. Ephesus, which lived its most glorious times in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, had a population of 200,000 as the capital of the Asian state and the largest port city. Ephesus was relocated again during the Byzantine Period and came to Ayasuluk Hill in Selçuk, where it was founded for the first time.

Date of construction: 10th century BC

8 Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, which adds even more meaning to Cambodia's unique charm, is the award-winning temple and the most important part of the region known as Angkor Archaeological Park. The temples of Angkor Archaeological Park, which was built as a unique Khmer capital for King Suryavarman II in the 12th century and known as the largest pre-industrial city in history, are candidates for being the 8th wonder of the world. Angkor Wat's five central towers symbolize the peaks of Mount Meru, the abode of the gods according to Hindu mythology. Angkor Wat, the Cambodian pilgrimage destination, is impressive both architecturally and spiritually. Before its collapse in the 15th century, Angkor Wat was the largest city in the world.

Date of construction: 1110-1150 AD

7 Roman Forum And The Colosseum, Italy

The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheater and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, is located in Rome, one of the most tourist cities in Italy. One of the most recognizable structures in the world, the Roman Colosseum is the largest building from the Roman period. The imposing presence of modern Rome in the city center is a testament to the incredible history of the city and the achievements of the Roman Empire.

Visitors who come out of the nearest metro station or turn a corner and see this beauty for the first time may be stunned by its immense presence. This work, whose construction began in 72 AD, is still one of the largest tourist attractions in the world today. The Colosseum in beautiful Italy, which provides tourism with its culture, art, and architecture, is of great importance because it is located in the arena where Caesar walked and gladiators fought. In the Forum right next to it, Palatine Hill is also a must-see, and those who buy a Colosseum ticket are free to enter the Forum!

Date of construction: 7th century BC & between AD 70 and 72

6 Petra, Jordan

Petra - An ancient city located in the southwestern corner of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, amid rugged desert canyons and mountains, between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba. Also known as 'Raqmu' or 'Rose City' due to the color of the rocks, Petra consists of an amphitheater, tombs, reliefs, and temples carved into sandstone rock blocks on an area of approximately 100 km. Forgotten for centuries and discovered by Swiss-born traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhardt in the 19th century, this ancient city was selected in the New 7 Wonders of the World List in 2007. This fascinating ancient city has a surreal experience with its structures built as a result of carving the rocks in a narrow canyon. You should see this place under the stars by attending Petra by Night, where you will get detailed information about Petra and the Nabataeans, accompanied by Bedouin music and traditional Bedouin mint tea.

Date of construction: 312 BC

5 Stonehenge, United Kingdom

Stonehenge, thought to have been built in 2500 BC, is located in Salisbury, an hour-and-a-half train ride from London. This fascinating monument, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, was used as the largest cemetery in England for 500 years after it was built. Although the reason why the Stonehenge Monument was built remains a mystery even today, some archaeologists think that the British built it for religious ceremonies, while others claim that the structures were used to study the movements of the sun and moon. Either way, Stonehenge's megalithic structures are seen as an engineering feat.

Date of construction: early 2500 BC

4 Chichen Itza, Mexico

The ancient Maya city and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza, is located inland in the flat forests of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, within easy daily walking distance of Cancun and the Mayan Riviera. This great Mayan city was an important center from the 7th to the 13th centuries and for a time, was the capital of the region.

Today, this restored artifact is one of the best Mayan sites in Mexico and mirrors the Mayan culture. One of the biggest tourist attractions in Mexico, the huge pyramid in this region is the most recognizable symbol of Chichen Itza.

Date of construction: early 400s AD

3 Acropolis Of Athens, Greece

Rising above the city of Athens, the Acropolis remains a proud monument to Ancient Greece. Dominating this region from the 5th and 4th centuries BC, the Parthenon is the largest and best-known structure from the period and symbolizes the country's extensive history.

The Acropolis has a magnificent view, shimmering in the Mediterranean sun by day and illuminated for dramatic effect at night. Awe-inspiring for first-time visitors to the city, this sight is inspiring for travelers planning to travel to other parts of Greece. History-loving tourists from other countries never leave the country without visiting this place.

Date of construction: 5th century BC

2 Tikal, Guatemala

The ancient Mayan city of Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites in Central America. Surrounded by forests in northern Guatemala, this region dazzles with more than 3,000 complex structures that existed between 600 BC and 900 AD, consisting of ancient pyramids, temples, squares, and dozens of buildings of all types.

The area was rediscovered in the mid-1800s and opened to the public in the 1950s. Some of the sites have been restored, but work continues in some areas that have not yet been mapped or excavated. The ruins are located in Tikal National Park, a biosphere reserve that protects the forest and wildlife of the region.

Date of construction: By 600 BC

1 Machu Picchu, Peru

The mysterious ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, founded centuries ago on the summit of the Andes, hosted by Peru, offers its visitors a dream-like travel experience with its fascinating view. Machu Picchu, one of the most outstanding architectural achievements of mankind, is located at an altitude of about 2450 meters above sea level. This fascinating city, which is famous for its large stone blocks, is on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. The dazzling masonry on the gigantic walls made without the use of mortar also reveals the advanced level the Incas reached in architecture and mathematics. Machu Picchu is one of the most mysterious structures in history and has managed to remain hidden at the top of the mountains and survived until today. To reach Machu Picchu, it is necessary to take the train or walk from Cusco to Aquas Calientes.

Additional Info

  • Source The Travel

Lots of people are finding all the forms and paperwork required to enter Cuba extremely challenging to understand and get through.

This is a mini audio blog intended to walk through the essentials. Which pieces of paperwork will be checked and when? Why you need to go straight to the boarding gate if on layover enroute to Cuba? How the dining and restaurant scene has been changing. What about which currency you should be bringing now? Donations? Gifts of friendship? How to manage.

What little amenities are at the Havana airport, why you need to be prepared to have everything you need there. What about your phone and data plan? Why wifi is so much more difficult. We hope this helps you prepare for your Cuban people to people program, doing the work of our private foundation supporting the Cuban people.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

March 5, 2023
By Joy Donovan

Landmines — the explosive leftovers from the Vietnam War and other conflicts — are about the size of a toy and sometimes colorful, making them attractive to children. Two decades of war made these weapons of destruction plentiful in the forested landscape of Southeast Asia. Consequently, many children in Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam are living as amputees.

The memory of one of those injured children receiving a wheelchair is seared into Kimberly Haley-Coleman’s mind.

“What stands out in my memory is not the response of the child, but the looks on their parents’ faces,” she said. Haley-Coleman, a mother of two, knew her own children have never wanted for anything as she witnessed parents’ happiness over a child receiving something so badly needed. “It affected me physically and emotionally.”

That is the power of GlobeAware, the non-profit Haley-Coleman founded 23 years ago. In those 23 years of serving as CEO, the Dallas resident now can count 3,500 wheelchair assemblies and distributions credited to the non-profit. Assembling wheelchairs is just one of many hands-on, short-term projects overseen by the non-profit that’s located in Dallas’ Lakewood area.

Doing Good in the World’s Neighborhood

Haley-Coleman set out to combine interesting travel with important service amidst other cultures. She admits to growing up in privilege, a second-generation Hockaday graduate who is now raising a third generation. As a child, she traveled a lot and experienced a lot. She earned a master’s degree in art history, and she holds an MBA in international business. But that wasn’t enough.

GlobeAware Executive Director Kimberly Haley-Coleman

Personal restlessness led her to combine her love of international travel with helping others. She could do good while experiencing the world.

She visited Ayutthaya, Thailand where she spoke to local monks and made lists of what the community needed and wanted. Projects ranging from installing chalkboards to adding bathroom doors to repairing a pedestrian bridge seemed doable. The difficulties, though, were cultural. Ordering tools and supplies, relatively easy in the U.S., was much more complicated in Thailand.

“Is it brain surgery? No,” she said. “Is it challenging? Yes, very.”

Add in monetary conversions and language difficulties, and Haley-Coleman began to see a need for arranging and managing the logistics.

“So I started organizing these trips on the side,” she said. “When I started asking people if they wanted to come with me, they did.”

GlobeAware was born.

The first trips were to Peru and Costa Rica, followed by Asia. Choosing the locations depended on many variables, such as safety and need. The projects were chosen for students, families, and sometimes corporate teams to finish in a relatively short amount of time. Differences from the usual American lifestyle was key. Electronic devices, fast food, and creature comforts, for example, aren’t part of the promise.

“If they grow up in Dallas in private schools with such privilege, it’s a transformational experience,” Haley-Coleman said. “It changes your perspective.”

A Different Kind of Vacation for Mother and Son

Dallas resident Deb Young knows the difference in traveling this way. After her son Toby graduated in 2022 from St. Mark’s School of Texas, the mother-son duo took a two-week trip to Thailand. One of those weeks was on their own, and the other was through Globe Aware.

Deb Young with her son Toby in Thailand

“We’ve been lucky enough to do quite a bit of travel,” Young said. But her son wasn’t interested in just touring another museum. “It was perfect for us. We were looking for a way to get back into travel. It’s been tough. Then the idea of doing service with our travel was just really attractive.”

Credit: Deb Young
Credit: Deb Young

Their Thailand GlobeAware week included talking with monks inside temples, meeting the country’s hill tribe children, visiting a floating market, and practicing English with schoolchildren in Chiang Dao.

“The focus is on giving these kids skills so they can make a life,” Young said. “A lot of what we did was interacting with the local people there.”

The trip’s highlight, she said, was visiting an elephant sanctuary. She and her son fed, petted, and washed the creatures in a river.

Toby Young

They are the biggest, most lovely animals,” she said. “The elephants seem really content, peaceful, and majestic. Being outdoors and being in nature is very compelling and very important to my mental health. It was a real treat.”

Young felt that GlobeAware prepared her and her son well for the trip. Travel logistics were handled, the accommodations were nice and packing instructions given. She knew in advance, for example, that her arms should be covered for temple visits and to prepare to get wet when visiting elephants. It all added up to a successful trip.

“It really does help if you’re going to a place like that, a place that’s so different from home,” Young said. “It was really nice to have a way of talking to the local people. I felt so much more connected to the local people.”

Working a World Away

GlobeAware’s trips span Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Laos, Machu Picchu, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal, Philipines, Puerto Rico, Romania, South Africa, Thailand, Viet Nam, and Zimbabwe. Past projects have included the all-important wheelchair assembly, plus floor installations, sea turtle protection, and adobe stove fittings.

Haley-Coleman stresses that volunteer travelers do not need to be bilingual or to possess special skills. Anyone with special skills could request a site where those skills could be maximized.

“We want people to work side by side, working as equals, making a real difference” she said. “That’s the real hope.”

She has people who return every year to vacation and volunteer simultaneously on GlobeAware trips that run Sundays through Saturdays. The cost averages between $1,200 and $1,400 per person, depending on the program, and students get a discount of about 10 percent. The cost, which is tax-deductible, includes everything but souvenirs, alcohol, or luxury upgrades.

Return on Investment

The return on the investment of money and time seems to be great.

“To go into those countries, helps you realize what you have in your own life,” Haley-Coleman said. “It’s a very quick way to learn a really deep set of perspectives.”

Young plans on traveling again with GlobeAware when her younger son Alex graduates high school.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to go again with GlobeAware,” said Young. “It’s pretty compelling.”

Haley-Coleman thinks the experience is not to be missed.

“It’s one of those things that every person on this earth is cheating themselves out of something they will regret, if they don’t take a few days to appreciate a culture you don’t know,” she said. “I love what we do.”

Additional Info

  • Source Candy's Dirt

Anthony Bourdain enjoyed the Philippines so much that he called this particular dish his "single favorite Filipino street food." Find out the history of the sisig and get tempted to try it on your next volunteer vacation in the Philippines!

Bourdain Called This Food 'The Best Thing You Could Ever Eat With A Cold Beer'

MARCH 3, 2023

Anthony Bourdain enjoyed the Philippines so much that he featured the country's cuisine at the heart of two of his shows — once in a 2009 episode of "No Reservations" and again in 2016 in the seventh season premiere of "Parts Unknown." 

It was no secret that the country loved him back because he did something no Western celebrity chef had done before: he saw Filipino cuisine as they did. As cookbook author and restauranteur Jacqueline Chio-Lauri opined in HuffPost, "He understood what food meant to the people who made and ate it, and he was careful to treat the food ― and, by extension, Filipinos ― with respect."

Even today, Bourdain's words of praise for Filipino food staples are quoted in the country as gospel truth. Of a lechon (Filipino roast pig) he ate there, he said to the chef, "not to kiss your ass, but it is the finest pig I've ever had." Heaping on the praise, he called the milky, shaved ice halo-halo dessert "wondrous" and referred to sisig as "possibly the best thing you could eat with a cold beer," according to Eater.


Sisig wasn't always what it is today

Sisig wasn't always up there on the list of best-known Filipino dishes. Fans are likely to know all about adobo, the flavorful dish made with either chicken or pork and consumed with heaping portions of steaming white rice. They may have heard about the lechon Cebu Bordain ate, where whole roast pigs are covered with spices, put on a giant spit, and roasted over an open fire. Filipino food fans would have known about the country's obsession with crisp spring rolls, also known as lumpia, which can be filled with just about anything from meat and vegetable to banana and brown sugar. And then there's one of the country's most popular appetizers, ranked as a must-try for anyone who has paid a visit to the country: sisig.

According to Pepper, the first mention of sisig dates to 1732 and described the dish as a salad of green papaya or guava, tossed in a dressing made with salt, pepper, garlic, and vinegar. The Spanish (who had earlier colonized the Philipines) had a version of sisig that was a sour concoction meant to quell one's urge to vomit. It was only when American troops arrived in the Philipines at the close of the 19th century that sisig is said to have made the leap from hangover cure to side dish. 

Sisig was first made out pig scraps in the 1970s

Modern-day sisig was inspired by the desire to limit food waste generated by U.S. troops who were stationed in the Philippines during the early 20th century. Cooks for the armed forces commissary threw out pig heads until they eventually started selling that part of the pig to beer joints in the area. Bar owners would save the ears and jowls and throw those pieces into the sour salad, which they would serve as a snack.

It was in the 1970s that restaurant owner Aling Lucing Cunanan decided to level up her sisig and reinvented the dish by grilling the chopped ears and cheeks, seasoning them with vinegar and calamansi juice, and adding chopped chicken livers and onions. She then tossed the grilled meat and vegetable medley onto a sizzling hot platter before serving, creating the dish we know and love today.

It might have taken a while, but sisig has finally been getting its due. It was introduced to diners in the U.S. when Filipino restaurants like New York's Maharlika went mainstream. CNN, which produced "Parts Unknown," even included it in a roundup of "Dishes that Define the Philippines," but the endorsement sisig fans across the country keep closest to their hearts is when Bourdain called sisig his "single favorite Filipino street food."

Additional Info

  • Source Tasting Table

As the spring break travel season approaches, the Transportation Security Administration has some guidance for those who will take flights. Globe Aware volunteers can learn what to leave at home, and what they can pack.

Traveling by plane for spring break? Here's TSA's advice on what to leave at home

By Charles Dunlap
Columbia Daily Tribune
March 5, 2023

As the spring break travel season approaches, the Transportation Security Administration has some guidance for those who will take flights.

A media demonstration held Wednesday at Columbia Regional Airport showcased the variety of items confiscated from TSA security checkpoints in the state.

"Regionally and nationally we see tons of prohibited items, literally," said Mark Howell, southeast regional TSA spokesperson. The southeast region includes Missouri.

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In Atlanta, which also is part of Howell's region, one ton per month of items are confiscated, he said.

"That includes your pocket knives, your self defense items, tools and things like that," he said, adding the time it takes to collect prohibited items can slow down security checkpoints.

He recommends travelers download the MyTSA app, which has section with a searchable "Can I Bring" list, or visit a similar section on the TSA website.

A view of the "Dashboard" and "Can I Bring" sections of the MyTSA app. Travelers can use the app to know what items are allowed in carry-on or checked luggage, if at all.
"Every time we have a pocket knife or prohibited item that comes through the checkpoint, we are going to go through the options to get rid of it with the passenger before coming through the checkpoint. Then we will have to put them through a rescreening," Howell said. "Every pocket knife, every oversized liquid is effectively another passenger in line."

Depending on items, sometimes they can go into checked luggage instead of a carry-on, be taken back to a personal vehicle or just surrendered to TSA, he added. Surrendered items cannot be retrieved and they are provided to other agencies to be sold via auctions.

There also are "Ask TSA" accounts on social media, such as through Facebook or Twitter, and the TSA's Instagram account often will post images or videos of confiscated items.

Travelers make their way through a TSA checkpoint at the Springfield-Branson National Airport in this 2022 file photo.
Spring break also means an increase in traffic volume, typically a 15% to 20% increase compared to day-to-day travel, Howell said.

"Plan ahead, think about what you are bringing with you to the airport and get to the airport a little earlier than you usually would," Howell said. "... Be prepared for additional volume in airports, but also think about what you are bringing into the airport."

Alcohol, knives, guns among the items confiscated
Prohibited items that have come through checkpoints in Missouri include alcohol, lighter fluid, shaving cream, aerosol deodorant, knives (including those hidden as hairbrushes), throwing stars, billy clubs, TASERs, ammunition, guns and a grenade. Actual and replica items were displayed on a table at the airport. The shaving cream and deodorant were surrendered because they were in packaging that contained more than 3.4 ounces, or 100 mL.

"Any liquid above 3.4 ounces you'll want to put in your checked bag or leave it at home," said Tracy Holzum, lead transportation security officer at Columbia Regional. "With spring break coming up, pepper spray is very common. We want everyone to feel safe and comfortable, but these are not allowed on the checkpoint."

Pepper and other self-defense sprays are allowed in checked luggage, however. Also personal safety devices on keychains, such as cat-shaped knuckle dusters where the ears can be used for stabbing are not allowed through checkpoints.

Guns, brass knuckles and pepper spray are among the prohibited items confiscated during TSA security checks.
If ammunition or a gun is found, local law enforcement is called and the person who brings a gun could face civil penalties of up to $15,000 from TSA. Nationwide the rate of guns brought through security checkpoints was 1 out of 116,000 screened passengers. It's roughly double in Missouri at 1 in every 54,000 passengers.

"In states where there is open carry/concealed carry, you are going to see more firearms and with that and more passenger volume, you are going to see more guns at airports and we want people to know the right way to travel with them," Howell said.

Firearms could go in checked luggage, but there are certain requirements and guidelines from TSA and it also depends on airline rules, he added.

Additional Info

  • Source Columbia Daily Tribune
Thursday, 02 March 2023 07:08

I asked ChatGPT to help me plan a vacation

Here's an interesting dive into what ChatGPT can and can't do when it comes to planning a vacation. Have any of our Globe Aware volunteers used this new chatbot?


I asked ChatGPT to help me plan a vacation. Here’s what happened next

Monica Pitrelli
FEB 26 2023

Some people love travel planning.

But I am not one of those people.

So the idea that artificial intelligence chatbots, such as ChatGPT and Bing, can research travel destinations and create itineraries is intriguing.

But I’m skeptical too.

Do recommendations just scratch the surface — for example, suggesting that I see the Eiffel Tower in Paris? Or can they recommend lesser-known restaurants and handle specific hotel requests too?

The answer is: yes and no — at least for ChatGPT.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t test Bing. When I tried to access it, I was put on a waiting list. The website said I could “get ahead in the line” if I set Microsoft defaults on my computer and scanned a QR code to install the Bing app. I did both. I’m still waiting.

ChatGPT was easier. I went to the developer’s website, clicked on the word “ChatGPT,” registered for an account — and started chatting.

marina bay 1435072 1280

‘Can you help me plan a beach trip?’

“Of course!” replied ChatGPT. But first, I needed to tell it about my interests, budget and how long I planned to be away.

I’m looking for a week-long beach trip in mid-March to spend time with my family, with no set budget, I typed.

“Sounds like a wonderful idea!” it replied, before recommending Hawaii, the Caribbean — specifically the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic — Florida and Costa Rica, along with details about the weather and popular attractions for each.

Nice. But I live in Singapore, I said.

“I see!” it exclaimed. (ChatGPT loves exclamation points.) In that case, Bali, Indonesia; Langkawi, Malaysia; and Phuket and Krabi in Thailand were better choices.

One more thing — I want great food too, I typed.

In that case, it said, the better bets are:

  • Penang, Malaysia — for char kway teow, nasi lemak and laksa
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam — for pho, banh mi and bun cha
  • Osaka, Japan — for takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushikatsu
  • Bangkok, Thailand — for pad Thai, green curry and mango sticky rice

Not bad. But I have another ask: I want to avoid crowds.

In that case, I may want to consider:

  • Langkawi — “a beautiful island off the west coast of Malaysia … [with] plenty of secluded spots”
  • Krabi — “not as busy as other destinations in Thailand such as Phuket or Koh Samui”
  • Bali — “beaches in the north of Bali, such as Lovina Beach, tend to be less crowded”

All true.

But what about a treehouse in Bali — is that possible?

“Yes! …. Here are a few options,” it said:

  • The Hideout Bali
  • Bambu Indah
  • Sandat Glamping Tents
  • Free Spirit Spheres
  • Which one has the best online reviews?

“All of the places I recommended have great online reviews,” ChatGPT replied, providing ratings from Tripadvisor, and Google for each hotel.

Yet, the reviews missed the mark in several instances.

For example, it said Sandat Glamping Tents had a 4.9/5 rating on Google (actual: 4.5/5) and “over 400 excellent reviews” on Tripadvisor (actual: 277 reviews).

But perhaps the biggest blunder: Free Spirit Spheres is actually in Canada, which the bot acknowledged when pressed.

ChatGPT is nothing if not apologetic.

Cost estimates for each hotel were more accurate. But ChatGPT couldn’t show photographs of the hotels or help book them — although it did provide ample instructions on how to do both.

By road or by rail?

For a road trip across the United States, ChatGPT recommended Route 66, Pacific Coast Highway and the Great River Road, the latter of which traces the Mississippi River through 10 states.

What about train trips in Europe? “Certainly!” it said, recommending:

  • The Orient Express — from Paris to Istanbul
  • The Glacier Express — from St. Moritz to Zermatt, Switzerland
  • The Bernina Express — from Chur, Switzerland, to Tirano, Italy
  • The Golden Pass Line — from Lucerne to Montreux, Switzerland
  • The Trans-Siberian Railway — “one of the world’s most famous train journeys” from Moscow to Vladivostok, Russia

One issue: The “Orient Express” is no longer in service. Does ChapGPT know this?

It does, but it seems to confuse every departure of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express — which uses restored carriages from the original train service — with the once-annual Paris to Istanbul route, which will run in August this year, and has already sold out.


ChatGPT can name airlines that connect cities, but it can’t give current flight information or help book flights.

It wasn’t able to tell me the cheapest fare — or any fare — from London to New York this spring because it doesn’t “have access to real-time pricing information,” it said.

In fact, ChatGPT data ends at September 2021; it doesn’t “know” anything that’s happened since.

However, the bot could answer which month the London-to-New York route is usually the cheapest, which it said is “January and February, or during the shoulder season months of March and November.”

As for the best airline in the world, it said: “As an AI language model, I cannot have personal preferences or opinions.” But it went on to name the top five airlines named to Skytrax’s “World’s Top 100 Airlines” in 2021.

The list wasn’t correct. 

The list provided by ChatGPT appears to be Skytrax’s airline ranking from 2019 instead.

“Where should I eat?”

Asking ChatGPT “Where should I eat?” and “What are the best restaurants?” in a given city produces two different lists — one with more popular places to eat, and the other with those that have more industry awards.

For example, here is how it answered those two questions for Singapore:

Where should I eat?

  • Hawker centers
  • Din Tai Fung
  • Jumbo Seafood
  • Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle
  • Odette
  • Tim Ho Wan

What are the best restaurants?

  • Burnt Ends
  • Candlenut
  • Corner House
  • Hawker Chan
  • Jaan
  • Restaurant Andre

That’s a decent but dated list. Restaurant Andre, which was regarded as one of the city’s best in the 2010s, permanently closed in February 2018.

Every city I asked ChatGPT about resulted in the bot praising the local food scene. New York City is a “food lover’s paradise,” Florence is “known for its delicious food” and Melbourne is “renowned for its coffee culture.”

ChatGPT is exceptionally cheery, but do all cities get this treatment? To test this, I asked for food recommendations in Galveston, Texas. This time, ChatGPT just provided the list.

And if you’re wondering about the best coffee in Melbourne, ChatGPT says it’s at Proud Mary — a coffee shop that tops many “best of” lists today.

Specific questions

I had many more questions for ChatGPT, such as:

  • “How should I spend five days in South Africa?”
  • “Which chateaux accept visitors in Bordeaux?”
  • “If I only have one day in London, what should I do?”
  • “Which rides have the longest lines at Disney World?”

But before I could, my screen said “Access denied” alongside an “error code 1020″ message.

This error may be caused by overloaded servers or by exceeding the daily limit, according to the tech website Stealth Optional. Either way, all of my previous chats were inaccessible, a huge negative for travelers in the middle of the planning process.

A new window didn’t fix the problem, but opening one in “incognito mode” did. Once in, I clicked on “Upgrade to Plus,” which showed that the free plan is available when demand is low, but for $20 per month, the “Plus plan” gives access to ChatGPT all the time, faster responses and priority to use new features.

With access again, I quickly asked about wait times on Disney World rides, a subject which I had spoken to luxury travel advisor Jonathan Alder of Jonathan’s Travels about last week. Alder lives close to the park and has lost count of how many times he’s visited, he said. Yet, only one of their answers — Epcot’s “Frozen Ever After” — overlapped.

ChatGPT mentioned that FastPass and Genie+ can reduce wait times at Disney World, which is partly right. The company phased out its “skip the line” virtual queue FastPass program when it introduced Genie+ in the fall of 2021.

The takeaway

ChatGPT is fast, chatty and feels like you’re interacting with a human. I found myself responding with unnecessary pleasantries — “Ok, sure” and “Thank you” — out of habit.

I could see how it could save travelers’ time, especially if they are looking for an overview or are at the early stages of planning.

But information will need to be current, of course — and bugs and error messages, which I faced several times in addition to the “1020” message mentioned above — will need to be fixed.

OpenAI states that the current ChatGPT version “is a free research preview.” It also says the system may “occasionally generate incorrect or misleading information” and that it’s “not intended to give advice.”

When I asked it about its travel planning abilities, it said it “can assist with many aspects of travel planning” but that it may not be able to “provide personalized advice based on your unique circumstances.”

My verdict: Travel agents’ jobs are secure for the time being.

Additional Info

  • Source CNBC

Whether winter or summer, Rajasthan offers many sights and activities to experience. Find out why this Globe Aware destination makes the list of best places to explore in India!


5 Best places to explore in India this summer

Be it winters or summers, India offers a wide range of destinations to choose from. Whether you're looking for a hill station getaway, a beach vacation, a cultural experience, or a spiritual retreat, India has something for everyone to explore during this summer.

India TV
Lifestyle Desk
India TV Lifestyle Desk
February 26, 2023

Summer is almost here, and it's time to plan your next vacation. India is a country that offers a diverse range of destinations to choose from. From the hill stations to the serene beaches, there are plenty of options to suit everyone's taste. Here are some of the most incredible destinations to explore in India during the summer season.

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Situated in the state of Himachal Pradesh, Manali offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas. You can enjoy trekking, camping, and other adventure activities in this scenic hill station.


Known for its tea gardens and colonial architecture, Darjeeling offers a pleasant climate and plenty of sightseeing options. You can visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, take a ride on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, or simply enjoy the scenic views of the mountains.


If you're looking for a beach vacation, then it is a perfect destination. The state is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and delicious seafood. You can relax on the beach, indulge in water sports, or explore the local markets and restaurants. Goa is also home to some of the most iconic churches and temples in India.


If you're looking for a cultural experience, then this is the place to be. The state is home to some of the most magnificent forts and palaces in India. You can explore the rich cultural heritage of Rajasthan by visiting the cities of Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer. These cities offer a glimpse into the royal history of India and are a treat for history buffs.


It is a perfect destination for those who prefer a spiritual experience. Known as the yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh offers a serene environment for meditation and yoga. You can also explore the local temples and ashrams to learn more about Indian spirituality.


What are some popular cities to visit in Rajasthan during the summer?

Some popular cities in Rajasthan to visit during the summer include Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Jaisalmer, known for their magnificent forts and palaces.

What are some offbeat destinations to visit in India during the summer?

Some offbeat destinations to visit in India during the summer include Ladakh and Sikkim, known for their breathtaking landscapes, rugged terrain, and unique culture.


Additional Info

  • Source India TV

TikTok folks are debating on whether it's a smart idea to mail your luggage. Do any of our Globe Aware volunteers do this when flying domestically...or have you even done this for international trips?

TikTokers Are Shipping Their Clothes to Avoid Paying Airline Baggage Fees

Anything to avoid the checked bag fees.

By Opheli Garcia Lawler
February 2, 2023

If you've ever flown budget airlines, you know that the true price for a cheap flight doesn't come out of your bank account. It comes with the need to pack a teeny tiny carry-on bag, or risk incurring additional fees that turns a cheap flight to a not-so-cheap flight. Checked bag fees can sometimes cost more than the ticket itself.

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As someone who has worn three sweatshirts and four dresses to avoid paying such a fee, I get it. But the youth on TikTok aren't risking overheating on the tarmac by stuffing their legs into as many pairs of pants as possible for their budget flight.

TikTok travelers have shared a new way to bypass the 'ole checked bag fee. Based on a number of videos shared on the platform, travelers are packing up shipping boxes and mailing many of their belongings to their destinations ahead of time. In the video above, you can see one person opting to send a box of their belongings via FedEx instead of paying to check luggage.

The traveler says that they paid $28 to ship their clothing in each direction, as opposed to the $62 Spirit Airlines charges each way for checking a suitcase. That’s nearly $70 saved, if everything goes according to plan.

After thinking about it, I couldn't decide how I feel about this hack. On the one hand, I find every single trip to the post office to mail something to be entirely unbearable. On the other hand, I also really do abhor paying to check luggage. In terms of the odds of actually getting your stuff, sending it in the mail is not playing a great numbers game.

According to the Department of Transportation, just in the month of August 2022, US airlines lost, mishandled or damaged 254,502 bags. Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that an average of 1.7 million packages disappear per day in the United States. I'm really no math genius, and there’s other factors at play I am sure, but 1.7 million packages in one day versus less than 300,000 in a month makes it an easy choice for me.

Even if your package didn't get lost in the way, it still is a lot of planning and coordinating to make sure you get your packed luggage on the same day you arrive at your destination. My head is overwhelmed with anxiety-induced questions:

  • What if your package arrives early?
  • What if your package gets delayed?
  • Do you pick up the package from a package drop off location or do you have it sent to your hotel?
  • Is shipping a package a faster experience than checking your luggage?

Commenters on the above videos stand divided. One said, "No because imagine not getting your stuff in time." Another said, "I've had too many packages lost to do this lmao." Others said, "We stan a resourceful queen" and "wait this is hilarious and also so smart."

If you have also participated in this new travel hack, please let me know how it went for you, and if the time spent packing and shipping your bikinis made up for the expense. But, if you're looking for other tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your budget airline experience, Thrillist has got you covered with our very own guide. Shipping and handling not included.

Additional Info

  • Source Thrillist

With winter still upon us, winter sun getaways are trending on TikTok. Here are 6 places for maximum sunshine, and with Costa Rica on the list our Globe Aware volunteers have three different programs to choose from!


6 Sunny Destinations Trending On TikTok Right Now

Travel Off Path
February 18, 2023

If you are somewhere deep in the middle of winters cold grasp right now, it should be no surprise that one of the biggest social media searches at the moment is winter getaways. The hashtag winter sun has over 26 million views on TikTok right now, and there’s no better time to sit and dream about these sunny destinations.

Each location is known for its long sunny days in March and April, and most of them offer high temperatures as well. If you are looking for some inspiration to get away and escape the winter blues, any of these sunny destinations should help to give you some ideas.

Here are 6 Sunny Destinations Trending On TikTok Right Now

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Tenerife, Canary Islands

  • Average daily temperature: March 66° / April 68°
  • Average hours of sunshine a day in March: 8 Hours
  • Average hours of sunshine a day in April: 8 Hours
  • TikTok Views for #Tenerife: over 1.4 billion views

Most people in the UK and Europe know that the Canary Islands are the warmest you can get in March and April without leaving Europe. Despite being so far south, the Canaries are a territory of Spain, making them still a part of the European Union. Laying off the coast of Western Africa, Tenerife is a clear favorite for many reasons.

It’s been called The Island Of Eternal Spring, and a visit to this diverse land in the months of March or April will bring enjoyable weather without the summer crowds and roasting temperatures.

While the south of the island is much more touristy and arid, don’t miss out on the lush and mountainous north as well. A visit to Tenerife is not complete without a trip up the mountains to the village of Masca, where you can taste the famous coffee drink, barraquito, and watch the sunset into the Ocean.


  • Average daily temperature: March 81° / April 88°
  • Average hours of sunshine a day in March: 9 Hours
  • Average hours of sunshine a day in April: 10 Hours
  • TikTok Views for #Curaçao: over 6.7 million views

This Caribbean island is known for having some of the best weather in the spring, when it’s warming up but not too hot. March is the driest month of the year, and April is the best, as it’s nice and warm but not too hot yet. March is also a quieter time for the island, as spring breakers don’t venture to Curaçao as much as the other Caribbean islands, and many locals are recovering from the carnivals.

There is no shortage of ways to spend your time on this island paradise. While its ABC island neighbors of Bonaire and Aruba are also good choices, Curaçao seems to be a favorite among those looking for a winter sun getaway.


  • Average daily temperature: March 57°/ April 60°
  • Average hours of sunshine a day in March: 7 Hours
  • Average hours of sunshine a day in April: 8 Hours
  • TikTok Views for #Malta: over 2.4 billion views

If it’s history and culture you are looking for, Malta might be a good choice for you. This destination enjoys much cooler weather than the others on this list, yet the average hours of sunshine leave for long days exploring in the mild and breezy climate.

You would not want to hike around Malta’s Gozo island in the summer or explore the dusty and windy streets of Mdina or Rabat. It’s still a bit too cold to swim for most tourists in March and April in Malta, but you will see many locals enjoying a dip.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  • Average daily temperate: March 78° / April 80°
  • Average hours of sunshine a day in March: 9 Hours
  • Average hours of sunshine a day in April: 10 Hours
  • TikTok Views for #PuntaCana: over 1.6 billon views

It’s no surprise that the Dominican Republic has made the list of trending sunny destinations, as its place as a favorite for spring travelers has all but been written in stone. While there are many other choices on the island for sun and sea in spring, it is Punta Cana that travelers seek out the most.

With an average temperate of 80° in April, it’s no wonder so many Americans visit to escape the never-ending winter that grips most of the northern half of the U.S. Punta Cana is also relatively painless and cheap to reach, with a variety of carriers servicing this route form all over the US.

Cancun, Mexico

  • Average daily temperate: March 77° / April 79°
  • Average hours of Sunshine a day in March: 10 Hours
  • Average hours of Sunshine a day in April: 10 Hours
  • TikTok Views for #Cancun: over 7.6 billion views

Although recent news coming out of Cancun and neighboring towns in the Yucatan have been less than favorable for travel, it still remains a long-standing favorite for travelers looking for a beach escape. Through travel warnings, sargassum, and taxi drama, Cancun seems to enjoy large crowds and overall traveler satisfaction. It’s hot and sunny in Cancun in the spring, and it’s easily the cheapest on the list to reach from most places in the U.S.

Costa Rica

  • Average daily temperate: March 80° / April 86°
  • Average hours of sunshine a day in March: 7 Hours
  • Average hours of sunshine a day in April: 9 Hours
  • TikTok Views for #CostaRica: over 12.7 billion views

Costa Rica is having a bit of a moment with US tourists, and the Central American country is drawing crowds nearly year-round. This tropical hotspot has also won the title of Central America’s best tourist destination. Spring, however, is an ideal time to visit, as the dry season is just coming to a close, and the green season is starting to make its appearance.

It’s important to note that Costa Rica is a country with many different climates, from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean and the Central Mountain area in between. March and April will bring different weather to each of these regions, so staying on top of the latest forecasts is crucial to ensure a good holiday.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

Some good news to start the week for our Globe Aware volunteers, the US is sending funds for shelters, cold weather supplies, food, water, and healthcare. The moves come as countries worldwide send search crews and aid to the Turkey-Syria region.

US pledges $85m for Turkey-Syria earthquake relief

February 10, 2023
By Max Matza

The top humanitarian aid agency in the US government has pledged $85m (£70m) in urgent life-saving relief for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) funding will go towards shelter, cold weather supplies, food, water and healthcare.

The moves comes as countries around the world send search crews and aid to the region, where over 20,000 have died.

Rescuers say supplies are needed now or more people will die from the cold.

river 4873198 1920

In a statement on Thursday, USAID said it is also providing "hygiene and sanitation assistance to keep people safe and healthy".

The agency's director, Samantha Power, has already deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (Dart), which is currently operating out of the Turkish cities of Adiyaman, Adana and Ankara.

The team consists of around 200 people, including disaster recovery experts, 159 search and rescue personnel and 12 dogs. The group has brought around 170,000lbs in equipment, including machines capable of moving rubble.

US troops are also in the region to help shuttle supplies around by helicopter amid the widespread destruction of roads, USAID deputy director Isobel Coleman told CBS News on Thursday.

"It's cold. It's winter. People need shelter. They need food, they need water, hygiene," she said of the quake zone, speaking from Ukraine.

Governments around the world have pledged aid and rescuers to help in the aftermath of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck on Monday.

Canada has pledged C$10m ($7.4m, £6.1m) and offered to match an additional C$10m in donations.

Rescue crews have also been sent by India, Germany, South Korea, Israel and many other nations.

The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that "a lot of people" are surviving "out in the open, in worsening and horrific conditions".

Additional Info

  • Source BBC Travel
Thursday, 16 February 2023 15:28

An Update on Travel in Peru

The country of Peru provided an update on its current status for travelers as civil unrest continues throughout the country. Globe Aware monitors the ongoing situation and keeps in contact with our Peru team. Read to find out more about the current situation.

An Update on Travel in Peru

FEBRUARY 09, 2023

The country of Peru provided an update on its current status for travelers as civil unrest continues throughout the country, which is classified by the U.S. State Department as a Level 3 risk, encouraging travelers to reconsider their travel plans to the country.

The country reported ongoing protests across the country, but especially in the southern part of Peru in the regions and cities of Cusco, Paracas, Ica, Puno, Apurímac, Ayacucho and Arequipa.

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Peru has created a Tourist Protection Network in collaboration with the Tourism Directorate of the National Police of Peru to help tourists. It also has set up safe tourist corridors from the airports to historic centers in cities like Cusco, Arequipa, Puno and Tacna. Travelers can download the Tourist Police Peru app in their phone, and encourage travelers to add safety numbers into their phone.

Emergency numbers include the Central POLTUR at (01) 4601060 or IPERú via WhatsApp +51 944492314 (text only) or by phone (01) 574-8000. Americans currently in Peru who are stuck or need assistance can also contact the U.S. Embassy in Lima at +51-1-618-2000 or

Lima’s airport remains open, though only ticketed passengers with scheduled flights can enter the terminals. Arequipa’s Alfredo Rodríguez Ballón International Airport once again began operating service during the day as of February 8. The Inca Manco Cápac International Airport in Juliaca, Puno remains closed.

Tourist attractions in the north and east of Peru are open. The tourist attractions and reserves in Ica are also open. Machu Picchu, as of February 15, is open and available for visitors following the Ministry of Culture's decision to resume cultural and economic activities in Cusco.

Those who have previously purchased tickets and will not be visiting the site can request a refund by contacting, but travelers will be able to use them for one month after this date.

Tour operators are mostly working under normal operations, but those located in southern or southeastern Peru may have limitations on receiving tourists. Railway operations in this region are also suspended, as well the branch to Urubamba and the Cusco-Ollantaytambo-Machu Picchu-hydroelectric route.

Cruises along the Amazon continue to operate normally.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

Talk about misbehaving tourists! Have our Globe Aware volunteers ever witnessed something crazy at an airport or while traveling?

Couple leave ticketless baby at Israeli airport check-in

Lianne Kolirin
February 2, 2023

(CNN) — A couple abandoned their baby at an airport check-in desk in Tel Aviv, Israel after arriving without a ticket for the child.

The pair, who have not been identified, were checking in for a Ryanair flight from Ben Gurion International Airport to Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday with the infant.

It emerged that the baby did not have a ticket, and the couple headed off to board the flight -- leaving their child behind on the airline check-in counter.

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The matter was referred to police, a spokeswoman for Ryanair told CNN in an email.

She said: "These passengers traveling from Tel Aviv to Brussels (31 Jan) presented at check-in without a booking for their infant. They then proceeded to security leaving the infant behind at check-in.

"The check-in agent at Ben Gurion Airport contacted Airport Security, who retrieved these passengers, and this is now a matter for local police."

According to Ryanair's website, "infants can be included in a flight reservation during the online booking process." When making plans to travel with an infant, a pop-up message appears on the site stating that there is a €25 ($27) charge -- or the local currency equivalent -- for each one-way flight the baby takes while sitting on an adult's lap. A seat must be paid for by separate arrangement if the adults want the baby to travel in a car seat.

The Israeli Airport Authority confirmed the episode to CNN and said in a statement:

"A couple and an infant with Belgian passports arrived for a flight at Terminal 1 without a ticket for the baby. The couple also arrived late for the flight, once the check-in for the flight was closed. The couple left the infant seat with the baby and ran toward the security checks at Terminal 1 in an attempt to reach the boarding gate for the flight."

A spokesman for Israel Police told CNN in a phone call that the matter appeared to have been resolved by the time police arrived on the scene. He said: "The baby was with the parents and there's no further investigation."

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 08 February 2023 11:24

Jetlag and how to get over it

The joys of international travel often come with a side of jetlag, which can make it hard to initially enjoy your Globe Aware volunteer vacation. Here are tips to help our volunteers deal with jetlag.


Jetlag hits differently depending on your travel direction. Here are 6 tips to get over it

By Sally Ferguson
January 30, 2023

After a few difficult years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, people are finally winging their way across the globe again; families are being reunited and sights are being seen.

Yet the joys of international travel often come with a side of jetlag, which can make it hard to initially enjoy a holiday, and to settle in once you return home.

Why do people experience jetlag? And is there anything you can do to lessen its effects?

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What causes jetlag?

The term “jetlag” describes the physical and cognitive symptoms people experience when travelling quickly across several timezones.

Before you leave for a trip, you’re synchronised to your local time. Once you enter a new timezone, your body’s rhythms are no longer lined up with the clock on the wall.

That’s when jetlag symptoms hit. You’re sleepy when you want to be awake, and wide awake when you want to be asleep. You’re hungry in the middle of the night, and might feel bloated or nauseous if you eat during the day.

Until your body clock and all the rhythms it controls line up with the new local time, you are physiologically and mentally discombobulated. Not a happy holiday vibe!

Jetlag isn’t the same for everyone

Interestingly, the experience of jetlag varies between people. That’s because we all tick along to our own internal rhythm.

Most of us have a natural daily cycle of about 24.2 hours. So if we lived in a cave and didn’t see any light, our sleep/wake cycle and other daily rhythms would tick along at about 24.2 hours. Researchers think this is an evolutionary adaptation that allows us to adjust to different day lengths across the year.

But some people have slightly longer cycles than others, and this may play a role in how a person experiences jetlag.

Research suggests if you have a longer cycle you might adjust quicker to westward travel, such as when travelling from Australia to South Africa, but we don’t know if a shorter cycle helps going the other way.

We also get a little less resilient as we age, so the older among us might have worse jetlag symptoms.

Does direction of travel matter?

More generally, many people find westward travel, where you “gain” time, a bit easier.

Say Jasmine and Sarah depart Adelaide at the same time. Jasmine lands in Perth in the afternoon, where it’s about 2.5 hours earlier in the day. She sees some sights and easily falls asleep at about 8.30pm local time. She then wakes up very early and starts her day.

Because Jasmine’s body clock naturally delays – shifting a little later relative to the local time each day – after a few days she is fully synchronised.

Sarah, meanwhile, lands in Auckland which is about 2.5 hours later in the day. She takes advantage of the balmy evening and some of the night, and is wide awake until 2am. She then struggles out of bed when the alarm goes off at 7am, because it’s still 4.30am on her body clock.

Sarah will likely feel the effects of jetlag more severely than Jasmine, and for longer.

Is jetlag just ‘psychological’?

Some people might wonder if jetlag is just in your head. Well, in a way it is, because it’s a mismatch between your body’s internal time (which is determined in your brain) and your local time.

But that doesn’t mean you can talk yourself out of jetlag. It’s better thought of as a physiological condition, rather than a psychological one.

Luckily, there are a few simple ways to alleviate jetlag symptoms and help your body clock adjust. This is particularly important for elite athletes who travel to compete.

  1. First, decide whether it’s worth trying to adapt to the new time or not. If it’s only a short trip, it might make more sense to stay on your home time. If it’s longer than three days, start consciously moving your own rhythms – such as when you sleep, eat, exercise and get sunlight – towards the new timezone.
  2. If you’re trying to shift your body clock, it’s a good idea to start on the plane. Set your watch to your destination’s timezone and line up your activities accordingly.
  3. Keep caffeine and alcohol intake low on the journey. This will be better for sleep and hydration, and will help with adjusting your body clock to the new timezone.
  4. When adjusting to a new timezone, try to sleep during the local night time and just rest when you need to at other times. Short naps can give you a boost to get through the day and evening activities. Aim for about 30 minutes and avoid naps later in the day as you near your actual planned bedtime.
  5. Gastrointestinal discomfort is a symptom of jet lag. If you’re prone to or experience tummy trouble while travelling, stick to small meals and eat when you’re hungry. Your body will tell you when it’s ready for food. Tip 3 about caffeine and alcohol applies here too.
  6. Get outside. Sunlight is key to adjusting to a new timezone. Depending on your timezone change, appropriately-timed outside activities will help.

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Friday, 03 February 2023 11:02

Tips to make traveling easier & worry-free

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


Top tips to make traveling easier & worry-free

January 22, 2023

Lately, travel hasn’t been easy.

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

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

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

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Protect your luggage

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

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

How to know exactly where it is at all times? Just get smart, like I finally have, and toss an Apple AirTag ( in any and all checked bags.

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

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

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

Pad your trip

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

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

Dress smart on the plane

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carry on all necessities

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

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

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  • Source The Sun

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


Top 20 holiday destinations for Valentine’s Day 2023

By Kristin Mariano
Jan 25, 2023
Travel Daily

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

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



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The 20 most popular Valentines holiday destinations

1 Barcelona

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

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2 Milan

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

3 Paris

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

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Daily

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

Why you should travel with your kids more often

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

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

By Mansi Zaveri
January 22, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source mintlounge

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

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

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

January 19, 2023
By Jigyasa Sahay


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

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

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Sunset at Jal Mahal

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

Shopping Spree at Bappu Bazaar

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

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

Rajasthani culture At Chokhi Dhani

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

Explore Iconic Landmarks

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

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

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

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

Unmissable Food At Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar

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

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

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

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

Olivia Munson
Jan 9, 2023

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

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

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

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

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When is Lunar New Year 2023?

Lunar New Year will be Jan. 22, 2023.

How long is Lunar New Year?

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

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

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

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

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

Who celebrates Lunar New Year?

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

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

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

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

What does Lunar New Year signify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does the Year of the Rabbit represent?

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

The order of the Chinese Zodiac is:

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

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

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

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


Additional Info

  • Source USAToday
Thursday, 19 January 2023 10:16

Now is the time to book travel for 2023

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

Now is the time to book travel for 2023

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

By Niccole Caan
January 10, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That means low prices for any trip near or far.

Additional Info

  • Source KENS5
Tuesday, 17 January 2023 09:16

Seven Wonders of the World to Visit in 2023

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

Seven Wonders of the World to Visit in 2023

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

Condé Nast Traveller U.K.
January 6, 2023

Seven Wonders of the World for 2023

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

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

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

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1. Mont Saint-Michel, France

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

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

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

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2. Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

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

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

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

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3. AlUla, Saudi Arabia

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

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

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4. Tiger's Nest Monastery, Bhutan

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

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

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

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5. Cappadocia, Turkey

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

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

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

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

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6. The Lake District, Great Britain

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

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

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

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

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7. The Sardine Run, South Africa

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

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


Thailand Reimposes COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

JANUARY 08, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Additional Info

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

China opens borders to quarantine-free travel

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

Excitement as China opens borders to quarantine-free travel

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

8 Jan 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China’s ‘great migration’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source AL JAZEERA

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


New Year: Countries around the world celebrate after Covid lull

By Elsa Maishman
BBC News
Jan 1, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

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

Top Seven Foodie Destinations for 2023

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

Top 7 Foodie Destinations To Visit In 2023

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

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7. Turkiye

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

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

6. Mexico

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

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

5. India

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

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

4. Japan

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

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

3. Spain

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

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

2. Greece

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

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

1. Italy

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

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

Additional Info

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

Where to Travel in 2023- astrological advice

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

Where to Travel in 2023, According to Your Sign

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

December 23, 2022
Conde Nast Traveler

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

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

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

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

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Aries: Kenya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taurus: Wales

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

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

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

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

Gemini: Queensland, Australia

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

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

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

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

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

Cancer: Central California Coast, U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

Leo: Marrakech, Morocco

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

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

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

Virgo: Loire Valley, France

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

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

Libra: Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

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

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

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

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

Scorpio: Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

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

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

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

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

Sagittarius: Egypt

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

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

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

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

Capricorn: Mustang, Nepal

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

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

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

Aquarius: Taiwan

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

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

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

Pisces: Western Japan

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

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


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

DECEMBER 25, 2022
Travel off Path

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

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

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

Is This The Definitive Comeback Of Asia?

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

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

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

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

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7. Tel Aviv, Israel

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

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

6. Tokyo, Japan

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

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

5. Bangkok, Thailand

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

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

4. Hong Kong

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

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

3. Singapore

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

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

2. Taipei, Taiwan

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

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

1. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

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

Christmas 2022: 7 Curious Food Traditions Around The World

By Aanchal Mathur
December 19, 2022

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

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

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

italy christmas

1. Italy

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

2. Australia

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

3. Greece

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

4. France

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

5. Germany

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

6. England

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

7. Finland

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

Additional Info

  • Source Slurrp

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


10 (More) Unique Christmas Traditions From Around The World

By Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey
November 27, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

germany christmas

1. Filling Your Boots


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

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

2. Find The Pickle


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

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

3. Mari Lwyd, A Creepy Horse


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

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

4. Jólakötturinn, The Yule Cat


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

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

5. Jolabokaflod, The Christmas Book Flood


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

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

6. Christmas Crackers


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

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

7. Radish Carving


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

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

8. Donald Duck For Christmas


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

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

9. Christmas In July


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

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

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

10. Engraved Christmas Apples


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

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


Additional Info

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

Facing travel challenges this Christmas

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

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


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

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

The good news? Gas prices continue to fall.

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

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

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

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

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

Make sure you wear your seatbelt and never drive impaired.

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

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

AAA Advice for Air Travelers

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

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

Other Air Travel Tips

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

If you Have Not Booked your Flight:

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

Additional Info

  • Source News 4 Jax

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


Top 10 International Destinations Americans Are Heading To This Christmas

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

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

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

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

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1. Cancun, Mexico

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

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

2. San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

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

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

3. London, England

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

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

4. Montego Bay, Jamaica

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

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

5. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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

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

6. Nassau, Bahamas

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

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

7. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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

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

8. Oranjestad, Aruba

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

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

9. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos

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

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

10. Paris, France

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

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

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

Additional Info

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

15 of the best Christmas vacation destinations

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


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

December 5, 2022

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

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

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

Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland

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

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

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

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

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

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

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

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

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

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

Bath, England

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

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

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

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

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

San Fernando, Philippines

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

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

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

Barcelona, Spain

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

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

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

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

New York City

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

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

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

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

Nairobi, Kenya

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nuremberg, Germany

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

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

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

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

Bogotá, Colombia

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Quebec City, Canada

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

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

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

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

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

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

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

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

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

Salzburg and Oberndorf, Austria

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

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

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

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

Strasbourg, France

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

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

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

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

Queenstown, New Zealand

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Tuesday, 06 December 2022 09:47

Travel tips ahead of the holidays

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


Travel tips ahead of the holidays

By Glenn Kittle
Dec. 5, 2022
Gray Television

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aridania Ovalle, “Check them bags.”

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

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

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


Additional Info

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

India discontinues Air Suvidha

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

India discontinues Air Suvidha for all international passengers

23 Nov 2022
by Anithya Balachandran
India travel

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

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

Flight attendants' travel secrets

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

Flight attendants share their air travel secrets

Francesca Street
November 23, 2022

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

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

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

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

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What's the best time for flying?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can I do if my flight is delayed?

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

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

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

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

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

How do you beat jet lag?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you ever upgrade passengers on board?

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

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

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

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

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

Can passengers swap seats?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who has the right to the middle armrest?

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

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

Should window blinds be kept closed or open?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do in your downtime on flights?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you deal with nervous fliers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you worry about bad turbulence?

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

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

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

What do you do in an inflight medical situation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are a few exceptions though.

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have codes you use to refer to passengers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What strange things do people leave behind in the cabin?

It's best not to go there.

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

Have you ever befriended a passenger?

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

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

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

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

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

Can you accept gifts from passengers?

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

Malis says the crew genuinely appreciate tokens of appreciation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Tuesday, 22 November 2022 09:47

12 Traditional Dishes of Ghana

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

Ghanaian Food: 12 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of Ghana

October 7, 2022
Travel Food Atlas

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

ghana food

Most Popular Ghanaian Dishes

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

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


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

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

Banku Recipe



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

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

Fufu Recipe


Yam Pottage

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

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

Yam Pottage Recipe



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

Kelewele Recipe



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

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

Waakye Recipe


Tuo Zaafi

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

Tuo Zaafi Recipe


Wasawasa (Yam Flour Meal)

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

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

Wasawasa Recipe


Jollof Rice

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

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

Jollof Rice Recipe



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

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

Kenkey Recipe


Red Red

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

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

Red Red Recipe



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

Shito Recipe


Omo Tuo

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

 Omo Tuo Recipe

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Food Atlas

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

Snow and thunderstorms could hinder holiday travel this week

By Allison Chinchar
CNN Meteorologist
November 20, 2022

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

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

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

travel snow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain returns to the Pacific Northwest and southern states

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 16 November 2022 08:48

Best Early Black Friday Deals on Luggage

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


Best Early Black Friday Deals on Luggage Right Now

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

By Samantha B Gordon
November 9, 2022
Consumer Reports

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

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

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

Delsey St. Tropez 21" Hardside Carry-On Spinner

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

SOLD BY: Amazon, Belk, Kohl's

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

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

Hartmann 21" Vigor Carry-On Spinner

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


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

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

Ekster Senate Cardholder

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

SOLD BY: Ekster

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

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

Travando RFID Blocking Bifold Credit Card Holder

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

SOLD BY: Amazon

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

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

Nimalist Air Tag Wallet

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

SOLD BY: Nimalist

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

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

Additional Info

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

AAA: Inflation hasn't slowed travel spending

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


AAA: Inflation hasn't slowed travel spending

NOV. 13, 2022

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

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

travel passport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Wednesday, 09 November 2022 10:10

A travel fee that's going down

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

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

Marnie Hunter
November 4, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

airport security tsa

PreCheck in time for the holidays

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

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

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

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

Faster security lanes

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Tuesday, 08 November 2022 08:59

The friendliest countries in the world

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


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

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

October 4, 2022

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

10. Philippines

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

9. Sri Lanka

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


8. Belize

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

7. Peru

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

6. Botswana

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

5. Costa Rica

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

4. Thailand

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

3. New Zealand

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

2. Colombia

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

1. French Polynesia

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


Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

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

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

You can view part one here

You can view part two here

You can view part three here

Additional Info

  • Source Self

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

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

You can view part one here

You can view part two here

You can view part four here

Additional Info

  • Source Self

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

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

You can view part one here

You can view part three here

You can view part four here

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Thursday, 03 November 2022 09:17

Take a Photo of Your Luggage Before Checking It

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


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

It could save you a massive headache — and money.

By Stacey Leasca
October 16, 2022
Travel + Leisure

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

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

still 2608807 1280

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure

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


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

By Charlotte Elton

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

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

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

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

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

Which countries have the strictest COVID rules for vaccinated travellers?


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

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


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



All foreign travellers are banned.

North Korea

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

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

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

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

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

Places where unvaccinated travellers are still completely banned

  • United States
  • China
  • Indonesia

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

Additional Info

  • Source Euronews Travel

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

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

You can view part two here

You can view part three here

You can view part four here

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Friday, 28 October 2022 08:58

Best Places to Visit in December 2022

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

11 Best Places to Travel in December 2022

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

By Patricia Doherty
October 15, 2022

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

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

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

Ocala, Florida

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

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Branson, Missouri

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

Alexandria, Virginia

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

Cape Town, South Africa

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

Solvang, California

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

Cancun, Mexico

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


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

Miami, Florida

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

Madeira, Portugal

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


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

Vail, Colorado

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

Additional Info

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

October Traditions Around the World

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


October Traditions Around the World

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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El Día De Los Muertos

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Pchum Ben

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

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

Yom Kippur

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

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


Additional Info

  • Source U.S. News & World Report

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

 Vietnamese pho among world's 100 most popular dishes

By Hoang Phong
October 13, 2022
VN Express International

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

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

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

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

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

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


Additional Info

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

Spontaneous Travel Trend Increases Happiness

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

Psychology Suggests Spontaneous Travel Trend Increases Happiness

OCTOBER 16, 2022
Travel Pulse

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

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

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How COVID-19 Sparked Spontaneity

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

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Impromptu Travel

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

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

Five Tips To Take the Stress Out of Traveling This Holiday Season

OCTOBER 07, 2022

‘Tis the season to travel. It’s hard to believe, but the holidays are almost here.

The 2022 holiday travel season is likely to be a busy one. Passengers are gearing up for potential flight delays and cancellations, baggage issues, staff shortages, price hikes, and long security lines.

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

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Don’t Wait

The price of a plane ticket is already high and increasing by the day. So, if you’re looking for the best deal on a flight for Thanksgiving or Christmas, you might want to buy now.

Passenger numbers are up as more Americans look to get away after staying home the past two years because of the pandemic. With demand up, that pushes prices up.

According to Hopper, those traveling this Thanksgiving can expect to pay 43 percent more than last year. And flights for Christmas are already averaging 39 percent higher than in 2021. So, you will likely find the best deals if you book sooner rather than later.

Avoid Busy Travel Days

The day before and after Thanksgiving or Christmas tend to be the busiest for travel. Again, with high demand for these flights, prices may also be higher.

So, if you’re looking to pay less and avoid crowds, possibly travel on Thanksgiving or Christmas. If that doesn’t work for you, consider traveling several days before and after the holiday.

Give Yourself Room to Breathe

Timing matters. As flight delays continue to trouble the airlines, it’s best to book a direct flight. However, direct can be more expensive, so if a layover is necessary, give yourself some breathing room.

Make sure there is enough time between your flights, so if your first flight is delayed, you will still have time to make your connection. This also applies if you’re planning a cruise for the holidays. Be sure to book a flight that lands well before the cruise is set to depart. If possible, fly in the day before.

You can expect crowds at the airport around the holidays, so check-in and security lines may be long. Get to the airport early, so you don’t miss your flight.

Pack Like a Pro

Having your luggage lost or delayed is a real possibility. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports more than one million bags were mishandled by airlines between January and June 2022. That’s up from 629,000 in 2021.

So, if you’re traveling this holiday season you may want to avoid checking your bags, especially if you're traveling with presents. Try and fit everything into a carry-on to ensure your belongings and gifts make it to your destination.

If packing light just isn’t for you, and you need to check a bag, consider throwing in a tracking device. This won’t get your bags back to you any faster, but it can provide some peace of mind knowing exactly where your luggage is located.

Plan for the Worst

Even if you book early, travel on "off-days," give yourself enough time, and pack only a carry-on, there is still plenty that could go wrong while traveling this holiday season. So, while hoping for the best is great and all, be sure to also plan for the worst.

Before heading to the airport, check to make sure your flight is on time. Download that airline’s app or have the customer service number programmed into your phone just in case you need to rebook a flight. It’s also important to read the cancellation and delay policies for your airline to know your rights. Also, consider travel insurance.

Travel insurance, like the Atlas Journey plans from WorldTrips, can address or provide reimbursement for most of the issues you may face while traveling. Including:

  • A trip is canceled or delayed for reasons out of your control
  • Your baggage is delayed, lost, stolen, or damaged
  • You could get sick or hurt and need medical treatment

There is even a coverage option known as Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) that could allow you to cancel a trip for something other than a covered reason – like fear or unwillingness to travel because it’s going to cost too much. CFAR may provide reimbursement (often 50 to 75 percent) for payments made toward a trip if you cancel. However, this is a time-sensitive benefit and there are eligibility requirements.

Bottom Line

The holidays are stressful enough, without adding in the travel factor. While you can’t prevent things like crowds, flight delays, or lost luggage, you can set yourself up for success. Buy your plane ticket early, travel on less popular days, give yourself plenty of time to make a flight, pack only a carry-on, and most importantly, be as prepared as possible if something goes wrong.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse
Wednesday, 12 October 2022 10:42

When is Diwali 2022?

Did our Globe Aware volunteers know that this year Diwali falls on Monday, October 24!? The celebrations for this auspicious Hindu festival last for five days, read on to know all the details!


Diwali 2022 Date: When is Diwali?

Know all about the auspicious five days of Deepavali

By Krishna Priya Pallavi
Hindustan Times
Oct 10, 2022

Diwali 2022 Dates: This year, Diwali falls on Monday, October 24. The celebrations for this auspicious Hindu festival last for five days.

diwali 3801824 1280

The most significant and holy festival of Diwali, also known as Deepavali, is almost here. Hindus celebrate this auspicious festival to observe the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair. Diwali also marks the death of many demons like Narkasur by Lord Krishna, the arrival of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after killing Ravana, and Lord Vamana defeating Bali. People pray to Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali by performing the auspicious Lakshmi Puja at their homes and offices and ask the goddess to bless them with prosperity, happiness, peace and wealth. In most places in the country, Diwali is celebrated for five days. The festive period begins with Dhanteras and ends on Bhaiya Dooj. However, according to Drik Panchang, in Maharashtra, Diwali begins one day earlier on Govatsa Dwadashi.

When is Diwali?

This year, Diwali or Deepavali will be celebrated on Monday, October 24. According to Drik Panchang, Lakshmi Puja muhurat will begin at 06:53 pm and end at 08:16 pm. Additionally, the Pradosh Kaal will last from 05:43 pm to 08:16 pm, and Amavasya will last from 05:27 pm on October 24 to 04:18 pm on October 25.

The five auspicious days of Deepavali

Govatsa Dwadashi (October 21)

In Maharashtra, Diwali celebrations begin with Govatsa Dwadashi and are marked a day before Dhanteras. This year, it falls on Friday, October 21. On this day, Hindus worship cows and calves and offer them wheat products. The day is also known as Nandini Vrat.

Dhanteras (October 22)

Dhanteras Puja will be marked on Saturday, October 22. Also known as Dhantrayodashi, Dhanteras marks the beginning of Diwali festivities. Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Kubera, who is the God of wealth, are worshipped on this auspicious day.

Kali Chaudas (October 23)

Kali Chaudas will be marked on Sunday, October 23. It is also known as Bhut Chaturdashi and is mainly observed in Gujarat during Chaturdashi Tithi.

Chhoti Diwali and Badi Diwali (October 24)

This year, Chhoti and Badi Diwali fall on October 24. On this day, people will celebrate the festival by worshipping Goddess Lakshmi, lighting their homes with diyas to mark the victory of light over darkness, wearing new clothes, and distributing sweets, dry fruits and gifts among their loved ones and the needy.

Govardhan Puja (October 25)

Diwali festivities end with Govardhan Puja, also known as Annakut Puja, which falls on October 25 this year. On this day, Lord Krishna defeated God Indra. The celebrations begin during the Pratipada Tithi of Kartik month.

Additional Info

  • Source Hindustan Times
Friday, 07 October 2022 10:09

The Spooky History of Halloween

Globe Aware volunteers who are big fans of the Halloween season, how well do you know the history behind this spooky holiday!? Here's what you should know and why we celebrate!

History of Halloween: Spooky season is here! But how well do you know the holiday?

By Anna Kaufman
Oct. 1, 2022

Whether you're going for a spooky, sexy, or sophisticated look, Halloween is right around the corner so it's best to start brainstorming costume ideas now. The holiday, celebrated by many with pumpkin carving and sugar overload, falls on the same date each year: October 31.

It's an opportunity for children and adults alike to become someone else, disguise themselves with wigs and makeup, and participate in the rites of Fall's first holiday.

If you're already making plans for this year, here's what you need to know about Halloween 2022, and why we celebrate it.

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When is Halloween 2022?

Halloween will be Monday, October 31, 2022.

That means "Halloweekend" the popular term coined for the Saturday and Sunday closest to the Holiday in which costume, candy, and grog enthusiasts alike can celebrate outside of work will be the October 29th and 30th.

What is Halloween and why do we celebrate it?

The History Channel reports that Halloween as a holiday originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The Celts believed October 31 was a day where the lines between the world of the living and the world of the dead might be blurred and ghosts would return to earth. To ward the unholy spirits of, Celts founded the festival of Samhain which involved the lighting of bonfires and dressing up in costumes.

Later, in the 8th Century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1st as All Saints Day, meant to be a celebration of all earthly deities. The day preceding it was dubbed 'All Hallows Eve." Over time, the Celtic traditions and those of All Hallows Eve blended together, eventually evolving into Halloween in its modern iteration.

The uniquely American celebration of Halloween came about in part as different groups of Europeans immigrated to the U.S., particularly the Irish, and their traditions blended with those of American Indians. In the 19th Century, new traditions involving ghost stories, harvest festivals and even trick-or-treating were beginning to gain popularity.

By the 1920s and '30s The History Channel reports that the Holiday was in many ways scrubbed of it's hyper-religious past and had evolved into a more secular, community-based celebration.

Today, Halloween is somewhat removed from religion, though it remains a violation of certain religious doctrines. It has evolved into a commercial boon for candy and costume sellers alike, and an occasion for Americans to celebrate into the night.

Additional Info

  • Source USAToday

Hurricane Ian continues to disrupt travel for many travelers including Globe Aware volunteers. Here's what to know when planning travel to Florida.

Is it safe to travel to Florida now? What travelers need to know about Hurricane Ian's travel impacts

Sean Cudahy
Sept. 30, 2022
The Points Guy

Hurricane Ian continues to disrupt travel as it churns across the Southeast, where it is expected to make a second landfall today in the Carolinas as a Category 1 storm.

The National Weather Service is warning of life-threatening storm surge and hurricane conditions by Friday afternoon from Georgia to North Carolina. Meanwhile, Florida is beginning the cleanup process two days after Ian plowed into the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm. Popular vacation areas like Fort Myers, Naples and Sanibel Island were hard hit, while heavy rain plagued many parts of the state, including Central Florida and parts of Florida's eastern coast.

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So what does all of this mean for travel to and through the area? Here's what we know:

Which Florida airports are operating as normal?

Airline service to Florida began to pick up Friday as several of the state’s airports along the storm's path resumed or announced plans to resume operations after closing for Hurricane Ian.

Tampa International Airport (TPA) resumed operations on Friday at 10 a.m.

At Orlando International Airport (MCO), the state’s busiest airport in 2021, operations were resuming at noon. However, many of the day's flights are still showing as canceled as delayed — so double-check your flight's status if you are planning to fly in or out in the coming days.

Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) reopened to both air carriers and general aviation traffic on Thursday evening, though both American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have canceled all of Friday’s flights. Southwest Airlines plans to operate some flights later Friday. An American Airlines spokesperson told TPG on Thursday that the carrier does not expect to resume operations there until Sunday.

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers is, as of now, formally closed until Wednesday, though that date could be pushed forward — or the closure could be extended. United Airlines on Thursday announced a waiver for its flights to and from RSW until Oct. 11.

Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) is formally closed until Monday, though that is also subject to change.

About 2,000 flights that were scheduled to depart Florida’s airports were canceled between Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, according to FlightAware data.

Meanwhile, as Ian bolts toward the Southeastern U.S., airports in that region are beginning to announce their own closures.

For example, Charleston International Airport (CHS) formally closed on Friday morning as Ian’s winds exceeded 35 knots at the airport — the threshold for a closure. Boeing, which assembles its 787 at the North Charleston, South Carolina, airport, announced in a tweet on Thursday afternoon that it will suspend operations until Sunday.

Current status of cruise line operations

Three home ports for cruise ships in the state — Port Tampa Bay, Jacksonville’s JAXPort and Port Canaveral — remain closed to marine traffic in the wake of Ian.

The closures have forced five cruise lines to cancel voyages out of the three ports that had been scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

At the same time, two of Florida’s three largest ports — PortMiami and Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades — are back open with cruise departures scheduled to take place as normal over the next few days.

The three ports that are closed were the closest to the track that Ian took as it barreled into Florida and crossed the state on Wednesday and Thursday. The U.S. Coast Guard and port workers at the three ports will do damage assessments over the next day or two to determine when they may be safe to reopen.

Orlando theme parks begin to reopen

All Orlando- and Tampa-area theme parks closed temporarily in preparation for Hurricane Ian. Now that Central Florida is on the other side of the storm and moving into the damage assessment and cleanup phase, local theme parks are reopening.

That said, many parks suffered damage, debris, flooding and high water levels. Even as area theme parks do reopen, select attractions and experiences may be unavailable.

Additionally, the parks may not be fully staffed in the coming days, since some staffers live in areas that saw extensive flooding and damage, affecting their ability to come to work.

Here is a current reopening timeline for Central Florida theme parks:

  • Disney World began a phased reopening on Friday. All four theme parks and Disney Springs will reopen Friday on a modified schedule, though Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park will not reopen until Sunday. Some resorts and lodging types, such as Fort Wilderness, remain closed.
  • Universal Orlando will reopen to hotel guests only on Friday. Further updates will be provided via its website and social media.
  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay plans to reopen Saturday.
  • SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove plan to reopen Saturday.
  • Peppa Pig Theme Park Florida plans to reopen Saturday.
  • Legoland Florida plans to reopen Saturday.

If you currently have tickets affected by the closures, some parks are giving refunds while others are automatically extending expiration dates. Check with the park you had plans to attend for details.

Is it safe to travel to Florida?

If you have an upcoming trip scheduled to Florida, you'll want to stay abreast of the developments in your specific area, as the fallout from the damage from Hurricane Ian largely depends on the area you are planning on visiting.

The most severely affected areas — including Naples, Fort Myers and the islands of Sanibel and Captiva, are unlikely to resume normal tourist operations for an extended period of time. Representatives of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and Lee County governments in the area said Thursday that they were focused in the near term on things like recovery efforts and assessing damage to infrastructure like bridges.

Officials from Cape Coral, which is just southeast of Naples, were also urging people to stay off the roads on Thursday.

In Sarasota, which sits between Tampa and Fort Myers Beach, damage assessments were also underway.

"We are in close communication with government officials to understand when it will be completely safe to welcome visitors again to our destination. Efforts are currently underway to ensure roadways are clear and all critical assessments are made," a spokesperson for Visit Sarasota said. "It is our number one priority to continue to provide the enjoyable experiences we are known for, in the safest environment possible."

For travelers who had planned on visiting Disney World, Universal Orlando and other Central Florida locations that have begun a phased reopening, Orlando Police officers said Thursday that they continued to asses flooding in the area.

"The City of Orlando experienced historic flooding throughout the city due to the amount of rain. Many areas of the city experienced water in excess of 14 inches," Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the City of Orlando said in a joint media release on Sept. 29. "This water must recede naturally reiterating the shelter in place precautions as these bodies of water can be electrically charged and/or contain debris."

Visit Orlando, the city's official tourism organization, is urging travelers with plans to visit Orlando to reach out to the organization's Vacation Planners for more information, which can be reached via phone, email or live chat here.

Just about the only city affected that has issued a clear statement indicating it is safe for travelers to resume travel thus far is Tampa.

"Tampa was extraordinarily lucky, and Mayor Jane Castor and other leaders are busy mobilizing resources to help our neighbors south of us," said a spokesperson for the City of Tampa. "Tampa is absolutely safe for tourists."

There, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host the Kansas City Chiefs for a home game as scheduled on Sunday night.

Here are some resources for the most up-to-date information on these locations:

Bottom line

In the hardest hit areas, including Naples, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel, expect reopening efforts to take some time as those communities grapple with immense damage.

However, in Orlando, the main theme parks tourist attractions -- and the infrastructure that supports them -- will be mostly back up and running in the coming days, with a phased opening already underway.

As we look into the weekend, expect the storm's immediate impacts to shift to the Carolinas and potentially beyond.

While the airlines, theme parks, and more have activated more flexible change and cancellation rules, remember that if you booked an trip with a credit card that provides for some built-in trip insurance, look at the terms of those benefits to learn what expenses you may be able to recoup in the event of any non-refundable expenses you may have incurred.

Although this goes without saying, you should not travel to any hurricane-impacted part of a state where local officials are urging residents to stay off the roads. Check back with TPG regularly for the latest information on what is open and what remains closed.

Additional reporting by Clint Henderson, Caroline Tanner, Tarah Chieffi, Gene Sloan, Ethan Klapper and Summer Hull.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy
Thursday, 29 September 2022 12:43

Save Time Re-entering The U.S. With This Free App

Last week, we mentioned the TSA-Precheck, but did our Globe Aware volunteers know about this app!? The Mobile Passport Control App may be just what you need to clear the airport lines at your volunteer vacation destination.

Save Time Re-entering The U.S. With This Free App

Travel Off Path
July 18, 2022

Have you ever come back from an international trip and noticed signs displaying “Mobile Passport” as you make your way through U.S. Customs? If so, you’ve probably noticed that the line was much shorter than the one you were in. What you may not know is that it is completely free and easy to hop in the shorter line using a U.S. Customs and Border Protection phone app called Mobile Passport Control (MPC). The app is available on iOS and Android, is free of charge, and requires no application or membership fees. This sets it apart from Global Entry, which requires a $100 application fee, with membership only lasting five years.

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Who Can Use It and Where?

Using Mobile Passport Control is a great way to speed up your processing time through customs when returning to the United States from an international trip. The app can be used by U.S. citizens and Canadian citizen visitors who have a B1/B2 visa. Currently, 31 U.S. international airports offer the service, as well as four seaports. Some popular airports that offer the service include:

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

How Does It Work?

You’d think that everyone would be using the app to be able to get through Customs faster. However, many people either don’t know about the app or don’t know how to use the service. It is easy to use once you begin. The steps, in order, are below:

  1. Download the app on either an iOS or Android device.
  2. Using Wi-Fi or data, enter your passport number and personal information, including your arrival airport and terminal.
  3. Take a selfie.
  4. Answer trip and declaration questions and submit. This replaces the paper forms often handed out on planes before landing.
  5. After submitting, you will receive a QR code on your device.
  6. Go to the MPC processing lane and breeze through Customs by showing your QR code and passport to a Border Patrol Officer who will finalize your entry into the U.S.

It’s That Easy

That’s really all there is to it. Using Mobile Passport is simple, easy, and free. Most importantly, however, it can save you loads of time coming back into the United States. Amid staffing shortages and the airport chaos that has emerged this summer, any amount of time savings is worth investigating, especially if it is free.

What Do Users Think?

As with every app, program, or service, user reviews are mixed. For this particular service, reviews don’t vary much and are generally all or nothing. If the app and the process go smoothly, users rate it five stars, citing the time saved and ease of use. In contrast, a one-star review followed when users had trouble with the app or the processing lane.

The biggest complaint about the app is actually not about the app itself but rather the airport’s processing lanes and use (or lack of use) of the system. According to one user, they were able to use the app to gain their QR code prior to arrival at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). However, when they got to Customs, they were told that Mobile Passport was no longer accepted.

In contrast, another review says it only took 3 minutes to get through Customs and Border Patrol at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) after taking advantage of the dedicated MPC lane, though it also states that it did not work at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) as the airline was not utilizing the system. Both airlines are listed on the Mobile Passport Control’s listed of locations offering the service, leaving travelers wondering why there is inconsistency.

The Verdict?

In either case, it seems worth the effort to at least try and use the app. As one user pointed out, it only took five minutes to download the app, input all information, and submit it. Even if travelers are told they will have to wait in the longer line due to it “no longer being accepted,” five minutes on the tarmac is a worthy gamble for a considerably shorter line and processing time.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path
Tuesday, 27 September 2022 08:34

Seven scenic drives in the United States

Excited about your next Globe Aware volunteer vacation, but can't wait to travel! Here are seven fantastic scenic drives scattered around the continental United States where our volunteers can enjoy fall weather, autumn color and more.

Seven scenic drives across the United States for your fall foliage fix

Forrest Brown
September 25, 2022

The United States is a car-obsessed nation, and a road trip feels like a natural right to many.

With gas prices slipping from their dizzying early summer heights and other folks wary of taking their chances with the air travel system, the fall road trip possibilities look pretty darn good this year.

In no particular order, here are seven fantastic scenic drives scattered around the continental United States where you can enjoy autumn color and more. Some are well-known; others are a bit under the radar.

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Blue Ridge Parkway: Virginia and North Carolina

This sumptuous, curving road threads its way through the Blue Ridge Mountains. It starts in Virginia and continues southwest into North Carolina, and the total length is 469 miles (755 kilometers).

A few good aspects about the parkway:

  • It's free to use and open 24 hours a day unless portions are closed by things such as weather or landslides.
  • It's free of all commercial clutter -- no billboards and businesses in sight. Just cars, the road and nature.
  • You don't have to tackle the whole thing unless you want a really big trip; just carve out a portion and drive that.

In Virginia, the automotive and travel club AAA suggests that you pull off and enjoy Mabry Mill at milepost 176, where Ed Mabry and his wife, Lizzy, ground corn and sawed lumber for three decades. Also check out the Blue Ridge Music Center at milepost 213.

In North Carolina, see what life was like for the Cherokee at Oconaluftee Indian Village at milepost 469.1 or explore the tallest peak east of the Mississippi at Mount Mitchell State Park.

Peak to Peak Scenic Byway: Colorado

For eye-poppin' and ear-poppin' scenery, it's hard to go wrong in the high altitudes of the Centennial State. It has 26 scenic byways, and half of those have national designation.

Still, you can only take one at a time. Why not start with Peak to Peak Scenic Byway? Its 55 miles (89 kilometers) of roadway showcases memorable views of the Continental Divide, and it's all less than an hour from urban hubs Denver or Boulder.

And you might end up spending more time out of your vehicle than in it at a string of natural sites along the way:

  • Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests: See an enticing mix of woodlands and grasslands.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park: Take in meadows, lakes and more on 300 miles of hiking trails -- and maybe spot a moose or bear at a distance.
  • Golden Gate Canyon State Park: State parks can often make a good alternative when national parks are too crowded.

Covered Bridges Scenic Byway: Iowa

America's heartland is sometimes overlooked, but it has its fair share of lovely drives, too.

Jessica O'Riley, tourism communications manager for the Iowa Tourism Office, suggested the Covered Bridges Scenic Byway.

Made famous by the 1992 novel "The Bridges of Madison County" and subsequent 1995 movie, its roughly 82 miles (132 kilometers) focuses not only on covered bridges but scenic natural areas and historical and cultural sites, too, O'Riley said.

Want to get out of the car and stretch your legs? In Winterset, there's a birthplace and museum dedicated to Marion Robert Morrison -- that's actor John Wayne to you and me, pilgrim.

The annual Covered Bridges Festival is scheduled for October 8-9.

Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway: Oregon

In central Oregon, the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway "offers a one-of-a-kind view with dazzling red vine maple juxtaposed against black lava," according to Allison Keeney, manager of global communications at Travel Oregon.

Its 66 miles (106 kilometers) run past several lakes in the central Cascade Mountains.

"This route is known not only for the scenery it provides, but also by the sheer number of adventures found along the way," Kenney said.

"Those who want to get up close and personal with the trees as their leaves turn from green to yellow and orange should get out of the car and enjoy views at Sparks Lake or hiking opportunities in the Three Sisters Wilderness."

She said colors are most vivid there around mid-October, but they might peak earlier this year because of the hot, dry summer.

Natchez Trace Parkway: Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee

Covering 444 miles (715 kilometers) and three states, the Natchez Trace Parkway roughly follows the "Old Natchez Trace" an historic travel corridor used by Native Americans and later European settlers.

Take the entire parkway and enjoy two very different cities at the start and end points. Little Natchez, Mississippi, is known for its historical homes overlooking the Mississippi River. Big-city Nashville has exploded from a country music haven to all-around entertainment destination.

In between: A perfectly lovely drive that transitions from Deep South coastal plain to much hillier terrain. Peak color comes earliest up in Tennessee (usually late October to early November). But the southernmost parts of the Trace in Mississippi can peak late into November.

Love to ride bicycles? The parkway is popular with bicyclists in autumn. Click here for advice before you pedal.

Hocking Hills Scenic Byway: Ohio

Hey, oh, way to go Ohio for your 25 miles (40 kilometers) of lovely roadway southeast of Columbus.

The Hocking Hills Scenic Byway is another AAA-endorsed route for people who want to see fall foliage and take a nice relaxing afternoon drive.

Hocking Hills State Park practically demands you park the car and explore its waterfalls, cliffs and gorges.

There are seven major hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult. Whispering Cave Trail features the "swinging" Hemlock Bridge and the second-largest cave in the region with a 105-foot seasonal waterfall.

About 30 miles (48 kilometers) away is the small city of Athens, which holds a farmers market and arts market every Saturday and plenty of special events this fall.

Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway: Maine

If the roads around Acadia National Park in coastal Maine are too crowded for you, consider Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway.

AAA gives this roughly 50-mile (80-kilometer) route in interior western Maine -- close to the borders of New Hampshire and Canada -- a hearty endorsement.

The Height of Land on Route 17 "is the route's showstopper," according to Explore Maine, "with stunning views" of lakes and mountains. The site also touts the excellent fall foliage viewing on the byway. Generally, peak color comes around October 6 to 13 in this part of Maine.

AAA also likes the nearby Saddleback ski resort, where you can enjoy activities such as mountain biking before ski season kicks in.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 21 September 2022 09:25

10 Reasons To Visit Ghana

They say that Ghana is near the center of the world, enough reason for those bitten by the travel bug to visit this African nation. Find out the reasons why Globe Aware volunteers are pulled towards this volunteer vacation.


Ghana Have A Good Time: 10 Reasons To Visit This African Country

Ghana is one African nation tourists shouldn't miss

SEPTEMBER 18, 2022
The Travel

They say that Ghana is near the “center” of the world, enough reason for those bitten by the travel bug to visit this African nation. This country is bordered by the Gulf of Guinea, the Atlantic Ocean, and the less-traveled Togo, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast, one of the most beginner-friendly African destinations.

Thanks to the coast, this West African nation has a warm climate that attracts sun-worshippers. Beyond the shores, it has grasslands, shrublands, forests, savannahs, and mangroves where wildlife thrives. Its bustling urban centers are places of awe, too.

Tourists who plan to swim, stroll the city, or be within lush forests will have a good time in Ghana.

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10 The Capital Accra Is Awesome

Accra is Ghana’s capital, and once tourists land in this bustling city, they would understand why it’s the heart of this nation.

Not only is the city thriving, but it has stunning sightseeing spots that reflect Ghanaian history and culture. For starters, it has an expansive independence square highlighted by an arch.

Kwame Nkrumah Park and Mausoleum, meanwhile, is a place of statues, fountains, peacocks, and items related to the country’s first president.

The National Museum is perfect for history buffs, while the Legon Botanical Gardens await thrill-seekers. Accra is an accredited place of fun, indeed.

9 Ghana Is Home To Majestic Waterfalls

Those who want a quick dip after enjoying the hustle and bustle of Accra can visit a stunning waterfall. Wli is a must-see because it is the tallest waterfall in West Africa.

While tourists hike to the falls, they might spot fruit bats, baboons, monkeys, and birds, guiding them to their destination.

Another majestic cascade is Kintampo, a favorite picnic spot, thanks to the shades of towering trees. Tagbo Falls, meanwhile, might interest hikers since it's within a rainforest. The falls of Ghana are grand.

8 Find Stunning Atlantic Beaches

Ghana has over 340 miles of Atlantic coastline, something to excite beachgoers.

Its busiest beach is Labadi, made popular by its wide shore and location near Accra. Bojo Beach is also near the capital, so families frequent this sandy destination.

Those who love partying by the shore should feel the vibe of Kokrobite, while cultural immersion is a thing in Butre Beach.

If sun-worshippers are staying away from the crowd, they should place their picnic mats on the beaches of Cape Three Points and Cocoloco.

Lastly, surfers will enjoy hanging ten on Busua Beach. The warm weather and the fine water make Ghana a place of sun-kissed memories.

7 Ghana's Tallest Peak Is Welcoming

Hikers who want to conquer Ghana’s highest peak, Mount Afadja, should prepare for a day of fun courtesy of Mother Nature.

This 2,904-foot charmer in the Agumatsa Range is a place of relaxation, thanks to the greenery. It will take 2.5 hours to reach the summit, and hikers can also visit the falls of Wli and Tagbo, inviting caves, relaxing streams, and a monkey sanctuary.

The tropical rainforest knows how to hide its wonders, so lucky are those who can conquer its trails.

6 The Country Has Castles And Forts

Ghana has a long colonial history, so it’s not surprising that it is dotted with forts and castles made by traders from Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

It’s like there are pockets of Europe in this African nation. Its most famous castles are Cape Coast, St. George's d’Elmina, and Christiansborg, all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Many of its forts are also inscribed in the said list, like Good Hope, Patience, and Metal Cross, among others.

Visiting Ghanaian castles and forts — ruined or well-preserved — is a worthwhile trip.

5 An Ancient Impact Crater Is A Ghanaian Attraction

There’s only one natural lake in Ghana: Lake Bosumtwi, a meteorite impact crater. This lake is considered by UNESCO a biosphere reserve, praising it for its diversity.

Thanks to the area's lushness, the nearby community is sustained through fishing, farming, and tourism.

The lake is a popular recreational spot where families and groups of friends can have a picnic, swim, enjoy a boat ride, spot some wildlife, and hike the hills, villages, and sacred sites.

Bosumtwi is Ghana’s lone lake, but it is never lonely.

4 Ghana Has One Of The World’s Largest Man-Made Reservoirs

What is now Lake Volta was formed in the mid-1960s when the Akosombo Dam flooded the area. Said lake is now one of the largest artificial reservoirs in the world.

This waterway has a busy fishing and timber industry, and tourism is yet to boom. Boat trips are top recreational pursuits, the perfect activity to take in the sights and sounds of the lake, the dam, and the villages near it.

Boating is usually patronized by domestic tourists, and foreign travelers who want to try it will have a fine time.

3 The National Parks In Ghana Are Diverse

Nature lovers will have a wonderful time exploring Ghana’s nature reserves. They can start in Mole National Park, the largest and home to elephants, hippopotamuses, warthogs, and buffalo.

The coastal Kakum National Park is a birdwatcher's paradise, while Ankasa Conservation Area is the perfect place to unwind, thanks to its teeming tropical rainforest.

Not to be outdone is Digya National Park, the oldest and hosts elephants, primates, antelopes, and otters and manatees on its lake. Being one with Mother Nature has never been this good.

2 There Are Well-Preserved Traditional Buildings

Asante Traditional Buildings In Ghana Architecture from the Asante Empire Late 1600's AD - 1900 AD — African World History (@AfricanWorldH) July 20, 2022

Aside from castles and forts, another Ghanaian World Heritage Site is a complex of well-preserved structures known as Asante Traditional Buildings.

These 10 structures made of wood, straw, and clay stood the test of time. They date back to the period of the Ashanti Empire, a reminder of its rich history and culture.

UNESCO praised the traditional architecture employed in the structures, something that should be protected for future generations. Taking a step back in time has never been this easy.

1 The Markets Are Thriving

When tourists want to feel the vibe of the community and be in the presence of an authentic Ghana, they should head to its bustling open markets.

In Accra, they can visit the markets of Kantamanto and Makola where clothes, shoes, and good food abound. In Kumasi, Kejetia Market is a must-see, especially since it’s considered the largest of its kind in West Africa.

Meanwhile, in the city of Cape Coast, near the famous castle, tourists can look for souvenirs in Kotokoraba Market.

Business is thriving in Ghana, and tourists should not miss scoring an item.


Additional Info

  • Source The Travel
Monday, 19 September 2022 10:06

Hurricane Fiona pummels Puerto Rico

Hurricane Fiona made landfall in southwestern Puerto Rico last Sunday afternoon, and the entire island is reeling from the knockout of its electricity grid. Globe Aware will continue to monitor the situation in order to understand we and our volunteers can help.


Puerto Rico is without electricity as Hurricane Fiona pummels the island

September 19, 2022
Juliana Kim

Hurricane Fiona made landfall in southwestern Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon, as the entire island continues to reel from the knockout of its electricity grid.

Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said the damage on the island is "catastrophic in many areas," calling it a "very delicate and sad situation." Heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding was continuing across the island Sunday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center.

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The Category 1 hurricane was predicted to produce dangerous landslides and heavy flooding on an already storm-battered island.

As of Sunday evening, the storm was centered 45 miles west of Mayagüez, a community on Puerto Rico's western coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. It had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and was moving northwest at 9 mph. It is now making its way toward the Dominican Republic.

Rain is expected to last all night on Puerto Rico, triggering at least 12 to 18 inches of rainfall across Puerto Rico and up to 30 inches in the island's eastern and southern regions.

More than 1,400,000 customers — more than 3 million people — lost electricity due to a transmission grid failure from the current hurricane, according to utility companies' reports tracked by PowerOutage.US. The website says some power circuits are being restored but is unable to say if any customers have regained power.

Luma Energy, the island's private electric utility, says full restoration of power service on Puerto Rico "could take several days."

In a news conference on Sunday late afternoon, Pierluisi said power crews have begun the effort to restore electricity, adding that it will be a "gradual process" to get the lights back on to critical areas including hospitals, which are currently on generators, and highly populated urban centers.

Dozens of roads have been closed because of landslides, fallen trees or being washed out. Several bridges have also been washed away as a result of the storm and 125 shelters have been opened to house those in need.

The Luis Muñoz Marín international airport in San Juan remains open — but all flights were canceled on Sunday and, as of now, there's no determination whether passenger service will resume on Monday.

Puerto Rico's fragile power grid makes matters worse

It was not long ago when the island's power grid was devastated by Hurricane Maria — a category 4 storm that caused about 3,000 deaths in 2017. More than 80% of the transmission and distribution system was ruined and the restoration process has been slow.

As a result, blackouts have been an ongoing issue on the island.

Leomar Rodríguez González, from Utuado, a town in central Puerto Rico, told NPR he and his family have been anxious as the scenes of heavy flooding and landslides remind them of Hurricane Maria.

"I'm worried about a lot of things but in the moment, flooding is worrying me," he said.

Rodríguez González said Maria devastated his family's home and businesses. It's why they have been preparing for the storm for several days: they stocked up on canned foods, bought extra batteries and trimmed trees near electric poles.

Fernando Vera, who is also from Utuado, told NPR his family has never fully recovered from Hurricane Maria. His home still needs some repair and experiences some outages. "We still struggle from the consequences of Maria and it's kind of difficult knowing we're going to probably have to start over again," he said.

Every year since Maria, the Puerto Rican government has been promising it would be much better prepared for the next storm. This is considered the first real test of that promise.

The government's response plan now included making sure that backup generators are working at hospitals and stocking warehouses with food and cots and other essential supplies. But efforts to ensure that the power grid would be better prepared to handle the storm fell short.

Gov. Pierluisi said the restoration of power will not be like what happened after Hurricane Maria in 2017 and that it will be a "matter of days," not months, to get the grid at least partially up and running. But he could give no estimate when power might be fully restored.

President Biden approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico on Sunday, which authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

The storm is moving toward the Dominican Republic

As of 2:00 a.m. Monday, Fiona was about 20 miles from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, with wind speeds of 85 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Both the northern and southern coasts of the country are under both hurricane and tropical advisories, along with Turks and Caicos and the southeastern Bahamas.

The flash flooding will likely be "life threatening and catastrophic" across the eastern Dominican Republic, according to officials monitoring the storm, with rainfall totals expected to reach 4 to 8 inches in northern and eastern Dominican Republic, and up to 12 inches along the northeastern coast.

The combination of a storm surge and the tide could produce rising waters up to three feet in the southern coast of the island.

Earlier, Fiona wreaked havoc on the eastern Caribbean, damaging roads, destroying properties and killing person in the French territory of Guadeloupe, Sylvie Gustave Dit Duflo, an official for the region, wrote on Twitter.

The storm is forecasted to be potentially devastating for parts of the Dominican Republic, northern Haiti and the southern end of the Bahamas in the coming days, and is expected to make landfall in the east of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Tuesday, leaving 3 to 6 inches of rain.

Additional Info

  • Source NPR
Thursday, 15 September 2022 12:56

TSA PreCheck : is it worth it?

Coming off a summer of flight delays, lost luggage, cancellations and long lines at airports, Globe Aware volunteers are looking for ways to ease the process. TSA PreCheck may not guarantee an on-time flight, but it can save travelers some time.


Airport lines too long? Here's what you get with TSA PreCheck and how much it costs

Josh Rivera
Sept 10 2022

When looking to fly, travel time is not just the duration of the flight. There is the commute to the airport, check-in lines, bag drop-off lines, customs (if traveling internationally) and the always popular Transportation Security Administration line.

The lines add up, and travelers' schedules get tighter.

Coming off a summer of flight delays, cancellations, lost bags and long lines at airports, travelers are looking for ways to ease the process. TSA PreCheck may not guarantee an on-time flight, but it can save travelers some time.

Here's what travelers need to know about the TSA PreCheck program.

TSA PreCheck

What is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is a program that provides travelers an expedited security screening at U.S. airports.

Once in the program, travelers provide their fingerprints, pay a nonrefundable fee and submit to a background check. They then receive a Known Traveler Number. TSA PreCheck does not include an ID card.

Is TSA PreCheck worth it?

It depends on what travelers value. Flyers definitely do not need it to travel, but those who visit an airport more than a couple of times a year may find it useful.

A TSA spokesperson told USA TODAY that 95% of passengers with PreCheck waited less than five minutes in August.

One of the biggest attractions, however, is the ease the program provides. Travelers with PreCheck do not need to remove their shoes, belts, light jackets or laptops from their bags when going through the security line.

Children ages 12 and under can join their guardian in dedicated PreCheck lanes.

How much does TSA PreCheck cost?

The initial application includes a nonrefundable fee of $85. Online renewals require a nonrefundable fee of $70.

There's a list of credit cards and loyalty programs that cover the application fee as a member benefit, or allow travelers to use rewards points to pay for it.

How do I apply to get TSA PreCheck?

Travelers can visit to learn more about the program, and can get started by clicking on this link.

If a traveler fills out the form online, they can make an appointment at an enrollment center to finish the process by providing documentation, fingerprints and payment. Some centers accept walk-ins – but travelers need to make sure they have all the required documents with them.

What happens in the 'interview' for TSA PreCheck?

Not much.

Once a traveler registers with the required identification documents, an agent will call them in for the "interview," where they'll be asked to register all their fingerprints. The applicant will also be asked to confirm their address, take a quick photo and pay the application fee.

How long does the TSA PreCheck application take?

If approved, most applicants receive their KTN about three to five days after their enrollment center appointments, TSA says. Some applications can take up to 60 days.

When does my TSA PreCheck expire?

TSA PreCheck membership expires after five years.

Travelers will receive notifications to renew about six months before their expiration date.


Additional Info

  • Source USAToday

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the UK is set to enter a period of mourning that will last between 10 and 12 days. Public gatherings, business closures, event cancellations and transport disruptions are likely during this time. If you're a Globe Aware volunteer traveling through the UK in the coming days, here's what you need to know.

Death of Queen Elizabeth: how the mourning period will impact travelers in the UK

Lonely Planet
Sep 12, 2022

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II last Thursday, the UK is in a 10-day period of mourning. Public gatherings, business closures, event cancellations, and transport disruptions are likely during this time, culminating with a National Day of mourning next Monday, September 19 to coincide with the state funeral. If you are traveling to the UK in the coming days, here's what you need to know.

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Are museums, restaurants, and shops open?

Even though the UK is in a period of national mourning, it will be business as usual for most places with a statement from the government confirming that "there is no obligation on organizations to suspend business". That said, you may still find that some will close or operate at shorter hours during this time, particularly on September 19 - the day the state funeral will take place.

It's a good idea to check ahead to make sure that opening times haven't changed, especially when visiting a museum or cultural establishment. The Royal Collection Trust, which manages royal estates and attractions, has closed all six of its sites for the duration of the mourning period. Westminster Abbey is also closed to tourists until September 21.

Will events be canceled?

Yes. If you are traveling to the UK for a particular event that's not connected to the queen's passing, your plans will probably go awry. All major sporting events were canceled last weekend including football (soccer), golf, cricket, racing, and rugby fixtures. Games will be impacted on the weekend of September 17 and 18 too.

London's Hackney Carnival, a major celebration of Caribbean culture in the UK, was called off on September 11 and a number of film festivals, Pride events, and other big occasions have either been scaled back or canceled outright.

Again, it's a good idea to confirm that plans haven't changed before going anywhere as it's likely schedules will continue to change over the coming days.

Get local insight on destinations all over the world with our weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox.

Will trains run? Can I expect transport disruptions?

You'll likely encounter transport disruptions across the UK but particularly in London and Edinburgh where much of the official ceremonial arrangements are taking place. In London, access to some areas in the city center will be restricted with road closures and diversions as people travel to Buckingham Palace to commemorate the queen. "We expect large crowds, which can pose risks to public safety," the government said in an earlier statement.

Planned industrial action across rail networks has been canceled for September but expect train and bus schedules to be impacted throughout the mourning period. Planning journeys in advance "will be essential," according to a joint statement from Network Rail and Transport for London. London, they said, will be "exceptionally busy" and Tube stations could temporarily close to avoid overcrowding.

"As Her Majesty’s coffin travels to London to lie in state at the Palace of Westminster, it is expected that we will see unprecedented travel demand in the capital, especially from Wednesday, September 14," the statement from the rail companies reads. "Transport providers have well-developed plans with extra staff and services coming on-stream to help people get to where they need to be."

London Underground passengers are asked to avoid Green Park station, the nearest one to Buckingham Palace due to "high numbers of customers passing through and try other nearby options including Victoria, Piccadilly Circus, and St James’ Park.

Airports and flight schedules shouldn't be impacted, but trains and busses to London's airports may suffer delays and overcrowding.

How can I take part in commemorations?

The state funeral is taking place at Westminster Abbey in London on the 10th day of mourning, that is Monday, September 19. But beforehand, people have an opportunity to commemorate the queen at various events and gatherings across the UK.


Following her death at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the queen’s coffin made a five-hour journey from Balmoral Castle to Edinburgh this weekend, where it stayed overnight in the Throne Room at the Palace of the Holyroodhouse, her official residence in the city.

Today, Monday, it will be taken in the afternoon in a procession to St Giles’ Cathedral, with King Charles III expected to lead the royal family in from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to nearby St Giles’ Cathedral for a service of thanksgiving. Thousands are once again expected again to line the city's Royal Mile as they did on Sonday. Members of the public are permitted access to the cathedral to pay tribute from 5pm on Monday until 3pm on Tuesday. A queuing system is in place with wristbands allocated and security checks and mobile phone use restricted.

London - How to attend the queen's lying in state at Westminster Hall

On Tuesday evening the queen's coffin is set to be flown to London, where it will be taken first to her former home at Buckingham Palace. It is expected that the coffin will be taken in a procession on a gun carriage on Wednesday from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, the oldest building at the Houses of Parliament, where it will lie in state for five days, until the nation holds a minute's silence on Sunday, September 18 at 8pm.

All roads in central London are expected to close to traffic for the public to stand along the route. The Hall will be open to the public for 24 hours each day, with over three-quarters of a million visitors expected to file past the coffin which will be closed and placed on top of a raised platform known as a catafalque.

The British government issued guidance for anyone planning to go to parliament: "You will need to stand for many hours, possibly overnight, as the queue will keep moving." People have been told to reconsider bringing young children given the long waiting times expected and to pack food and drink and any medication they may need.

Those wishing to witness the historic event will need to pass through airport-like security screening before entering Westminster Hall, so no liquids will be permitted through. Once inside photography is banned and those wishing to attend have been told to dress appropriately, anyone wearing clothes that are heavily marked with branding or marketing messages will not be allowed entry. Larger bags can be left at the bag-drop facility but capacity is limited.

Where can I leave flowers?

Buckingham Palace has become a focal point for people to congregate since her passing. Any flowers left at the Palace gates are being moved to nearby Hyde Park and the Green Park Floral Tribute Garden, which is also becoming a gathering point for visitors.

What about the coronation of King Charles?

That event won't happen for another few months. It probably won't even happen this year. Queen Elizabeth II's coronation took place 16 months after her accession in 1953, so her son's coronation will likely take some time. Details haven't been made public yet but it's likely, despite the current cost of living crisis, it will be a major event with plenty of pomp, pageantry, and anachronistic traditions.

How do I approach discussing the queen with people in the UK?

While there's no universality of sentiment in the UK - as even a cursory scan of the polarised world of social media will reveal - this is going to be an extraordinary few days to be in the United Kingdom. People will be going into new shared experiences and visitors will be a part of something unique. Expect wall-to-wall media coverage of funeral arrangements, and pundits discussing the queen's legacy and what the future has in store for the monarchy.

Bear in mind that the royal family is a symbol of many things in today's UK - tradition, privilege and, of course, colonialism. When talking to people there's no need to shy away from the queen's death but on the other hand, no one will expect to be offered sympathy. Meanwhile, away from royal honeypots like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle which will be busy and strewn with floral tributes, Brits will be (mostly) keeping calm and carrying on. Away from grappling with constitutional questions, most people are more worried about energy bills and inflation.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Globe Aware volunteers will be delighted to learn that Costa Rica has this week been crowned the leading destination for travelers in all of Central America for 2022. We offer three unique volunteer vacations in this picturesque country, that are open all year round!

 Costa Rica Crowned Central America’s Leading Destination

Sept 5 2022
Breaking Travel News

Costa Rica has this week been crowned the leading destination for travelers in all of Central America for 2022. The picturesque country – famed for its stunning natural landscapes and near unrivaled levels of biodiversity – received the much sought-after accolade from the World Travel Awards this week. In winning the award, Costa Rica beat off stiff competition from the likes of Mexico, Belize and Honduras, whilst also managing to win several other awards in the process.

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Whilst it may not have quite the same reputation or global appeal as its regional rival Mexico – or anything near the number of tourists it receives – Costa Rica’s win in this category was extremely well deserved, as those who have been lucky enough to visit the country will attest to. Here’s a look at Costa Rica’s big win, why travelers should make plans to go there plus a look at the other awards that the country managed to scoop this week.

The 29th edition of the World Travel Awards saw the winners for all of the categories announced just this week in what was undoubtedly an exciting time for all in the travel industry. Facing stern competition from Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and El Salvador Costa Rica was voted Mexico & Central America’s Leading Destination 2022. This is the second year in the row that Costa Rica was crowned the best in the region, with previous winners of the award being Belize and Mexico.

Despite being such a small country, Costa Rica certainly packs a punch. The country is remarkably home to a total of 5% of all of the world’s biodiversity, making it a true nature lover’s paradise. Costa Rica’s varied landscapes and geographical features mean that travelers can take in such natural wonders as volcanoes, tropical rainforests, deep lagoons, winding rivers and golden beaches all in the same place – and even all in the same weekend should they wish to do so.

With such a diverse natural landscape, the opportunity for adventure is around every corner. Costa Rica offers outdoor adventures in abundance, leading the country to also be crowned Mexico & Central America’s Leading Adventure Tourism Destination in this year’s awards. Whether it’s surfing at Tamarindo, exploring the country’s well-preserved natural parks or trying your hand at spotting the sloths, crocodiles and jaguars that roam the country, Costa Rica certainly won’t disappoint.

Additional Info

  • Source Breaking Travel News
Wednesday, 07 September 2022 11:51

Now Is the Best Time to Book Holiday Flights

Even though summer may not be over just yet, it’s time for Globe Aware volunteers to start thinking about booking holiday flights if you're looking for a deal. Prices for Thanksgiving and Christmas flights have already started to increase in the last couple months, but the good news is there are still potential deals to be found!

Why Now Is the Best Time to Book Holiday Flights, According to Travel Experts

By Alison Fox
August 31, 2022
Travel + Leisure

Even though summer may not be over just yet, it’s time to start thinking about booking holiday flights if you're looking for a deal.

Flights for Thanksgiving and Christmas have already started to increase from the last couple months, but the good news is there are still potential deals to be found, Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott's Cheap Flights, told Travel + Leisure.

In fact, the worst thing someone can do is wait until the last minute hoping prices drop (because spoiler: they probably won’t).

“It’s difficult and somewhat rare to see cheap holiday flights — they do happen, but they happen well in advance...when everyone else is thinking about their summer flights,” Keyes said. “The best fares probably were a month or two ago and now most of the fares are just decent but exceedingly likely to get a lot more expensive in the coming months.”

Take the tips below into consideration for booking holiday flights, and hopefully save in the process.

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The Time to Book Is Now

Generally, the best time to find a Thanksgiving flight is 36 to 74 days before departure (think: just after Labor Day), while the average price for Christmas flights tend to drop 22 days before departure, according to Google data shared with T+L. But the search engine cautions that may be “cutting it close” as Christmas prices can drop anywhere between 20 and 88 days before departure.

“It’s a good idea to book on the early side for any major holiday, especially if you already know your destination and dates of travel,” James Byers, group product manager at Google Flights, told T+L. “This way you can make sure you don’t miss out on the specific flights that best suit your travel plans.”

The good news for travelers is many airlines in the United States have done away with cancellation and change fees, allowing travelers to book now and rebook later if they find a cheaper deal.

“It gives you a lot more ability to take advantage if you don't get the time exactly right,” Keyes said. “It gives you an opportunity to have a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ situation with the airlines that before this was pretty rare.”

Consider Going International

Another way to save on a dreamy vacation abroad is to go during the week of Thanksgiving when international flight prices tend to drop, Keyes shared. A flight from New York to Lisbon during that week, for example, cost less than a flight from New York to Minneapolis.

“Thanksgiving is my hidden best week for international travel,” he said. “People don't associate Thanksgiving with cheap flights because everybody is traveling domestically. All those people who are traveling domestically are not traveling internationally, and late November is low season.”

Travelers likely won’t find the same level of discounts over Christmas, but winter flights overall are starting to drop in price.

“Travel during the summer tends to be quite a bit more expensive than travel during the fall and that was exacerbated this year because of the pent up demand. I think that's largely started to dissipate,” Keyes said. “I think we're going to be entering something closer to a renormalization. That will mean still-expensive flights over the holidays, but exceptionally cheap flights in the fall and winter aside from those weeks.”

Book Strategically to Minimize Disruptions

After a summer of chaos that saw more than 100,000 flights canceled in the U.S. and nearly a million flights delayed, it’s fair to try everything to stay above the fray. Overall, airline delays have generally been blamed on a combination of staffing shortages and air traffic control issues, and several airlines have cut back on fall schedules in an effort to minimize disruptions, including American Airlines and United Airlines.

Choosing early morning flights and direct flights are two “tried and true strategies” travelers can use for a smoother travel experience, Keyes said.

However, only opting for non-stop flights, for example, comes with a tradeoff: on average, nonstop fares have been 20% more expensive compared to those with stops, according to Google.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.


Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure
Wednesday, 31 August 2022 12:15

Stunning Palaces And Forts to Visit In Jaipur

History buffs love this part of their volunteer vacation week in Jaipur, India. You'll have the chance to experience these famous cultural forts and palaces when you visit the charming Pink City with Globe Aware!

Travel Back In Time At These Stunning Palaces And Forts In Jaipur

25 Aug 2022
Travel + Leisure

Planning a heritage trip to Jaipur is always a great idea. The charming Pink City offers a bewitching experience to history buffs from around the globe. If you are planning a trip to the beautiful city sometime soon, here are some of the best palaces and forts in Jaipur that you must visit. By Karan Kaushik

These are the must-visit palaces and forts in Jaipur

City Palace

Dotted with grand courtyards, gateways, and well-manicured gardens, the City Palace is modelled around the Walled City of Jaipur. The palace serves as the residence of the family of the former maharaja. Begin with the Mubarak Mahal. This palace is known for its intricate marble and sandstone exterior. To its north is the Sileh Khana, which used to serve as the department of music and dance. Today, it houses an armoury.

Other prominent spots in the City Palace complex are Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan-i-Aam. The Diwan-i-Khas houses two huge silver water containers, which hold the Guinness Record for being the largest in the world. At the Diwan-i-Aam, intricate miniature paintings, old manuscripts, and other artworks are of interest. Then there’s Chandra Mahal, which serves as the present home for the erstwhile royals. The City Palace is home to the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum. The main highlights of this museum are the Toshakhana or the royal wardrobe section and the Pothikhana or the manuscript section.

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Amer Fort

Also spelt as Amber Fort, Amer served as the capital of the Kachhwaha Rajputs for as many as 700 years. Constructed in 1592 by Maharaja Man Singh, the grand fort stands in all its glory overlooking Maota Lake. Man Singh’s successors added to the fort. Prominent spots inside the fort are Diwan-i-Aam, Ganesh Pol, Sukh Niwas, Jai Mahal, Jas Mandir, and Sheesh Mahal.

The fort has been constructed using pale yellow and pink sandstone. White marble has also been used in some places. The central courtyard of the fort is called Jaleb Chowk, which can be entered via either the Chand Pol or the Suraj Pol. For the best experience, do attend the incredible sound and light show that tells a great deal about the fort’s glorious history.

Nahargarh Fort

Perched atop a ridge of the Aravalli Hills, the Nahargarh Fort is perhaps the most-loved spot among Jaipurites. The fort shot to sudden fame after it was featured in the iconic movie Rang De Basanti. Built during the reign of Maharaja Jai Singh in 1734, the fort offers amazing views of the Pink City, especially after sunset.

This is exactly why most locals and tourists flock to the fort. The prime attractions inside the fort are Madhavendra Bhawan, which used to serve as the summer retreat for the erstwhile royals. It was constructed by Sawai Madho Singh and features 12 similar bedrooms that were used by the queens. At one end of these rooms is the king’s suite. Lovely corridors embellished with attractive murals connect these rooms and the king’s suite.

Jaigarh Fort

Not very far from the Amber Fort lies the Jaigarh Fort. The fort once served as the royal treasury for the erstwhile royals of Jaipur. The major attraction at this fort is Jai Vana, a massive canon on wheels. When Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was ruling over India, Jaigarh Fort was famous as the most efficient cannon foundry in the world.

The word Jaigarh Fort translates into victory fort. The credit for its construction goes to King Jai Singh II, who built it in 1726. The fort offers a bird’s eye view of the Amber Fort and the sylvan Aravalli Hills that encompass it. The underground pathway between Amer and Jaigarh will leave you fascinated.

Jal Mahal Palace

This one-of-its-kind palace stands in the middle of the tranquil Man Sagar Lake. Its literal translation means water palace. The palace was constructed by Maharaja Madho Singh I as a hunting lodge for himself and his entourage.

Designed in the classical Rajput style of architecture, the palace is spread over five floors, of which only one is visible while the others remain submerged in the lake. Locals and tourists flock to the banks of the lake during the evening hours. On offer here are camel and elephant rides, handicraft shops, eateries, photo booths, and more. The Man Sagar lake also serves as a haven for birdwatchers.

Hawa Mahal

One of the most iconic heritage monuments of India, Jaipur’s Hawa Mahal was built by Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799. The aim behind its construction was to give the royal women some much-needed respite from the scorching heat. The palace resembles a honeycomb in its structure and spreads over five stories.

It boasts tastefully carved windows, balconies, curvilinear roofs, and domes. The palace was used by the women of the royal family to savour the views of the Johari Bazaar. Its pyramidal shape has helped the fort stand its ground over all these centuries. The palace stands as a fine blend of Rajput and Mughal styles of architecture.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure
Tuesday, 30 August 2022 11:19

Tips for Staying Healthy While Traveling

It’s imperative to feel comfortable and safe while traveling, especially for Globe Aware volunteers just starting to get back into flying abroad. Follow these easy tips to stay healthy and make the most of your volunteer vacation!


9 Tips For Staying Healthy While Traveling, According To A Retired Physician



In December of 2018, I retired from practicing medicine. As an anesthesiologist, I spent my days in an operating room putting people to sleep and waking them up when their surgeries were finished. It’s a package deal that I was happy to deliver to several thousand patients over the course of my 26-year career.

I have traveled at every opportunity, including several times this past year. I’m going to share the tips I follow to stay healthy while traveling — tips I used pre-COVID and during the pandemic.

Regarding COVID-19, I’m not going to weigh in on the pros and cons of the COVID vaccines or of wearing a mask — I think you can find enough opinions on both already.

And with respect to any vitamin, supplement, medication, or non-COVID vaccine advice that follows, please use this as a starting point for a discussion with your healthcare provider. This is not meant to be a substitute for a visit with someone who knows you and your medical conditions.

Here are nine tips for staying healthy while traveling.

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1. Stay Hydrated

Since your body is about 60 percent water, hydration is a key component to feeling your best. Travel is dehydrating. The air on a plane is at most half as humid as the air in your home (10 to 25 percent on a plane and around 50 percent in your house, depending on where you live).

Then there’s that issue of cutting back on your water intake because you don’t know when or where you’ll use the restroom next. This might be in the back of your mind if you’re on an organized tour and not in control of the comfort stops you make.

So what’s recommended? If you’re traveling by air, try to drink 8 ounces of water an hour. If you drink alcohol, you’ll have to increase the amount of water you drink to make up for alcohol’s dehydrating effects. Try to avoid alcohol during your flight. If you must drink, do so only in moderation.

On the ground, aim for about eight glasses of water a day, but let your thirst guide you.

2. Get Plenty Of Sleep

The importance of sleeping at least 7 hours a night can’t be underestimated, whether you’re at home or traveling. Recent studies link sleep deprivation to obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, dementia, and early death.

I am awful when it comes to this one. I know I would be better if I stopped drinking caffeine well before bedtime and shut off my phone and laptop earlier, too. Here are some additional habits to adopt for better sleep.

If you’re planning on a long international trip across many time zones, you might want to consider adding an overnight stay in a city where you’ll be catching a connecting flight. Hotels adjoining airports make this fairly easy to do, and often there is little difference in the fare with a prolonged layover.

3. Stretch Your Legs

Long car and plane trips increase your risk of a blood clot in your legs because you’re sitting for prolonged periods of time. This video shows some simple exercises you can do in your seat to prevent clotting.

If possible, stop the car every hour or so to walk. On flights, I opt for an aisle seat so I’m free to walk up and down the aisle when the seat belt sign is off. Consider wearing compression stockings that minimize blood pooling in your legs.

If you’ve had a blood clot before, consult with your physician about the need for blood thinners or medical-grade compression stockings before you travel.

4. Practice Good Hygiene

According to the CDC’s statistics, flu cases in the United States plummeted during the 2020–2021 season. In the midst of the pandemic, not only were we not congregating with each other, but we were practicing our very best hand hygiene and covering our coughs.

Thorough hand washing and using hand sanitizer are the best ways to prevent the spread of infections.

Pro Tip: When you fly, wipe down your seat’s armrests and tray table. According to studies conducted before COVID-19 and the advanced cleaning techniques that resulted from it, the tables were dirtier than the toilet handles.

5. Guard Against Travelers’ Diarrhea

Most bacterial and viral illnesses are spread by inhalation, ingestion, or inoculation (rubbing your eyes). That being said, for travelers to developing countries, food and waterborne illnesses are common, with the incidence of diarrhea between 30 and 60 percent. Usually, diarrhea resolves without treatment in two to seven days.

The CDC’s website provides a common-sense guide to eating and drinking in countries where North Americans might be at risk. To summarize: Eat fully cooked food, wash and peel fresh fruits and vegetables with bottled water, and drink only boiled or bottled water. Avoid ice cubes, and don’t forget to brush your teeth with bottled water, too.

Pepto-Bismol (two tablets four times a day) has some mild antibacterial effects and seems to reduce the chance of getting travelers’ diarrhea. If you are allergic to aspirin, take blood thinners, or have kidney problems or gout, you’ll need to avoid Pepto-Bismol, however.

Should you take prophylactic antibiotics to prevent diarrhea? No. Should you bring antibiotics on a trip to a developing country, just in case? Yes. I recommend bringing antibiotics in case the diarrhea is severe or causes dehydration.

Here are additional recommendations for preventing and treating travelers’ diarrhea.

6. Visit A Travelers’ Clinic Before You Leave

If you’re planning on traveling internationally, a visit to a travelers’ clinic at least a month before your trip can help you get any vaccines or prophylactic antibiotics you will need (for diarrhea or malaria, for example).

If you’ve never been vaccinated against hepatitis A, I recommend that you get the vaccine. Hepatitis A is a virus that affects your liver, and it’s transmitted through contaminated food or water.

Pro Tip: Bring your immunization record to your appointment.

7. Research Doctors And Clinics At Your Destination

The CDC has a guide that covers getting healthcare on your travels. It has a number of resources on evacuation insurance (evacuation — which costs thousands of dollars — may not be included in your travel insurance, and it’s not covered by most health insurance plans), travel health insurance, and finding a doctor or clinic abroad.

Medicare does not cover care outside of the U.S. or its territories under most circumstances. For exceptions, visit their website.

Cruise ships usually have a doctor onboard. The Silk Road train I took did as well. If you are sick, seek medical attention sooner rather than later. It is much easier to treat someone in the early stages of an illness.

If I’m traveling internationally independent of a group, I jot down the names and addresses of accredited clinics with English-speaking physicians before I leave home.

8. Consider Taking Vitamins Or Supplements

It would take an entire book to talk about the pros and cons of each vitamin and supplement. Everything from ashwagandha (a stress hormone-reducing supplement) to zinc is mentioned as something that should be in your suitcase.

Mostly, studies show that vitamins and supplements like Airborne (with vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements) support your health. With respect to preventing and treating COVID-19, ongoing research is looking at how effective vitamins and supplements are.

A recent study on vitamin D suggests that a deficiency leads to a greater chance of getting COVID-19 and having a worse outcome. Many people in the northern part of the U.S. and in Canada are deficient because of less exposure to the sun.

Pro Tip: I recommend getting a vitamin D level (a blood sample) first to determine whether you need to take supplemental vitamin D. Your healthcare provider can recommend a dose based on your results.

9. Watch What You Eat

When I went to medical school in the 1980s, very little time was devoted to teaching nutrition. But I am convinced that good nutrition promotes your health at home and on the road.

We ought to feed ourselves with the best fruits, vegetables, and protein we can find. Organic is even better for foods labeled the “dirty dozen” — those that are highly contaminated with pesticides and herbicides. A manual for a high-end car will recommend that you fill the tank with premium gas. We ought to fill our tanks with the best food we can afford.

We should limit our intake of refined sugars, highly processed foods, and fast foods that are easy to grab and eat on the go. Because of wonderful things like Cheetos and chocolate and peanut butter ice cream, this is another “do as I say, not as I do” — just like getting enough sleep.

Pro Tip: If you’d like to read more about nutrition, I recommend Why We Get Fat and The Case Against Sugar, both written by Gary Taubes. He’s a lawyer who makes a convincing case against refined sugar.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Awaits
Wednesday, 24 August 2022 10:36

Ten most colourful places to visit

Jaipur, Havana and Cusco, all these Globe Aware volunteer vacation destinations make the list! These colorful locations should definitely be added to your bucket list!

 Little India to Havana: 10 most colourful places to add to your travel wishlist

Travel 19 Jul 2022

The world is full of beautiful places that you can admire as a traveller. While some of the most colourful places on earth are a result of natural phenomena, others are man-made.

For instance, the serene mountains and seas, the endless dunes in deserts, the earthy aroma of jungles and the bustling cities, all bring out the spectacular hues of various regions in a country that can leave you spellbound.

However, even as a globetrotter, you may have a preferred type of destination you enjoy the most. To make picking your next tour destination easier, we have created a list of some of the most colourful places in the world.

While the bright technicolour visuals make these places unique and can brighten up the mood of a weary traveller, these places are great for clicking some Instagram-worthy pics to boost your social media game as well. These unearthly visuals can fuel the hodophile in you and make you feel like you are in an alternate reality. Additionally, you can visit these places solo, with friends, family or with your significant other.

Here are some of the most colourful places in the world to add to your bucket list

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Rainbow Mountain, Peru

Vinicunca, also known as the Rainbow Mountain, is a geological wonder discovered in the Peruvian Andes in Cusco in 2015. But what gives Peru’s Rainbow Mountain its unique multicoloured look?

When the snow covering the mountains melted away, the hidden rocks in turquoise, lavender, gold and other colours emerged. Since then, it has been a hotspot for national and international tourists. With an altitude of 5,200 metres, which measures a height that is slightly more than half of Mt. Everest, the Rainbow Mountain comprises 14 vibrant minerals, responsible for the rainbow-like appearance.

When visiting Vinicunca, carry warm clothes as the temperature gets pretty low sometimes. Additionally, since the weather tends to change abruptly here, carry rain jackets, sun hats and sunglasses. A pair of durable trekking shoes and socks will make climbing Vinicunca easier. You can also bring some coca leaves to prevent altitude sickness.

According to the local authorities, the best time to visit is from March to November, especially from June to August, as you can enjoy the blue skies. But the sudden weather change is just a risk you have to take. You can also witness animals like llamas, horses and alpacas in the area.

Burano Island, Italy

One of the most colourful places in the world, Burano is a small island in Northern Venetian Lagoon. It has approximately 3,000 inhabitants. A 45-minute boat ride from Venice will take you to the colourful island. Spring and autumn are both suitable seasons to visit this place.

Most tourists visit Burano to see the vibrant houses and their hues reflecting on the green water of the channels in the city. It is believed that the houses were painted in distinct colours so that fishermen at sea could spot land through thick fog in the olden days.

Every once in a while, the residents paint the façade of their houses in shades decided by the local government. If residents want to colour the exterior of their home a different colour, they will have to get their request approved by the government. The cheerful hues of the houses and the beautiful flowers adorning their balconies can brighten your mood even on a gloomy day.

The island is also popular for lace-making, lume glass work and dishes made with fish. You can visit and watch the older ladies embroider the authentic Burano lace with their tombolo (a lace pillow) and maybe purchase a souvenir, too. Travellers can also have delectable pizzas, ice-creams as well as the special cookie of Burano at one of the pastry stores.

Havana, Cuba

The capital of Cuba, Havana, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Art, culture and music — it has it all, which makes it one of the hottest destinations for all sorts of tourists.

The streets of Havana are full of vibrant, tropical, Mediterranean and pastel hues. The chromatic murals, artistic stores and vibrant paints on the walls and windows are perfect for taking some Instagram-worthy snaps. These colours range from earth browns, teals and ubiquitous Havana blue to shiny and bright bubblegum pink. Do not forget to visit the Callejon de Hamel, one of the most famous streets of the city with stunning vistas of vibrant murals, street art and installations reminiscent of Afro-Cuban art and the Santeria religion at every turn.

However, the diverse colours are not just seen in the form of art and architecture the city boasts. Another remarkable aspect of Havana is the mobile carpark, where several cars in unique colours and different styles wait for you to take you on a ride.

From November to April, especially during winter, is the best time to visit this cultural haven of Cuba.

Jaipur, India

The capital of Rajasthan, Jaipur, is also known as the Pink City. But how did it get this name?

In 1876, when the then Prince of Wales visited India, Maharaja Ram Singh of Jaipur painted all the buildings of the city pink, as the colour symbolises hospitality. Ever since, it has retained the pinkish hue.

Additionally, the city also showcases an impressive palette of colours in clothes the locals wear, as well as printed fabrics, gems, jewellery and shoes sold at the busy bazaars.

Jaipur makes for a perfect place for history buffs through its magnificent palaces and forts. For those who would like to witness grand architecture with a dash of a metropolitan vibe, the Pick City in the place to be.

Visitors can enjoy their time in Jaipur from October to January, as the summer months are too hot to tour the city, which holds the title of being the first planned city of India.

Little India, Singapore

As the name suggests, Little India is a small place on the east of the Singapore River that perfectly captures the charming vibe and the varied culture of India.

In the 19th century, many Europeans lived here for its racecourses while traders would hire Indian immigrant workers. Over time, it has become one of the most popular and vibrant districts of Singapore.

Travellers to Little India can see Hindu, Chinese and Buddhist temples, mosques and churches in one place. The scenic beauty of the place is enhanced by the colourful buildings. An excellent example is one of the remaining iconic structures showcasing Chinese architecture – the House of Tan Teng Niah. It is known for its vibrant and photographic masonry.

What makes the alleys of Little India even more lively is the intricate mural works depicting Singapore’s history and street art in bright colours that will make you marvel at the artists’ expertise with colours. However, the street art in the area does not include graffitis.

The weather here stays mostly the same throughout the year, which makes visiting Little India convenient for globe trotters. However, you can plan your trip during Indian festivals like Navaratri or Diwali to enjoy celebrations.

La Boca, Argentina

The Spanish term ‘La Boca’ loosely translates into ‘mouth.’ Located at the entrance of Riachuelo, Buenos Aires, La Boca is one of the most beautiful and colourful places in the country.

In the 1960s, artist Benito Quinquela Martín decided to breathe life into an otherwise abandoned street in his neighbourhood, which birthed the vibrant La Boca as we know it. La Boca also served as one of the largest ports in the city in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Perhaps, this is why visitors can spot the depiction of activities involving ports in the street artworks of Martín. The place is popular for its houses in bright colours, renowned Argentine soccer team Boca Junior and the dance form Tango.

Touted as the most colourful streets of the city, El Caminito was hailed as an open-air museum in 1959, where you can also witness the works of other artists. The streets are more like a painted canvas you can walk through. Conventillos are the old houses in El Caminito that serve as art galleries. It is one of the most Instagrammable places in the country.

Another spectacle of this area is the Estadio Boca Juniors (aka La Bombonera), a huge building painted in blue and yellow stripes, which is the home of the Boca Junior.

Spring is a great time to visit Buenos Aires. Visitors, however, must avoid visiting La Boca at night as it is infamous for pick-pocketing.

Rainbow Village, Taiwan

This village in Taichung City got a colourful makeover in 2007 when war veteran Huang Yong-fu learned that his home, where he had been living for over 30 years, was going to be demolished. However, little did he know that in his attempt to bid goodbye to his abode, he would not just be turning the exteriors of his home but also the abandoned neighbourhood into a piece of art featuring vivid colours. This earned him the nickname ‘Grandpa Rainbow’.

Huang’s artworks on 11 bright buildings, showcasing quirky illustrations and imaginative creatures, soon went viral. Drawing artists and visitors from world over, the village quickly was renowned for its playful yet artistic look. This led to a petition campaign, which began in 2010, to stop the demolition of the village. Although it took four years for the Taichung City government to change its mind to bring down the Rainbow Village, which has no residents today, its beautifully painted buildings have been preserved and are frequented by students from nearby universities and tourists.

The most favourable time to visit Taichung City is spring.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

The most comfortable time to visit Chefchaouen, also known as the blue diamond of Morocco, is spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October).

Located high up in the country’s Rif Mountains, the city is famous for its blue-tinted paints on buildings and pathways, which look straight out of a fairy tale. The azure colour is believed to symbolise the Jewish faith, which began with using dyed blue threads in prayer shawls — a gesture that would remind the citizens of the city of god. This gradually led to the Chefchaouen being bathed in the shade of blue. However, others believe it represents the colour of the Mediterranean Sea, which was replicated across the city to attract tourists.

Unlike the other bustling cities of Morocco, Chefchaouen has a soothing vibe, owing to the mountains, lush gardens and waterfalls surrounding the city. Long walks in the place are a heavenly feeling as the winding lanes will take you to the centre of Chaouen, as the city is commonly called. You can also find white-blue paintings on different canvas sizes to buy as a souvenir, as well as a collection of old weapons and textiles housed in a museum here.

Additionally, do not miss mingling with the locals and tasting freshly baked bread and tagines while touring the picturesque city in the north-African country.

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, stretches over 2,300 kilometres along the northeast coast of Australia.

Adventure enthusiasts can take a plunge into the clear blue waters to witness the world’s largest collection of coral reefs or stroll on the picture-perfect tropical island with golden beaches and lush greenery.

Supporting a diverse underwater ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef is home to more than 9,000 species, including around 3,000 individual reef systems, 1,600 fish species, venomous sea snakes, brightly coloured worms and algae. Along with the beautiful coral formations, divers can also see giant clams, rare species of whales and six of the world’s seven marine turtle species.

To get more out of this beautiful place, visitors can choose from an array of activities, including scuba diving, snorkelling, aircraft and helicopter trips, glass-bottom boat viewing, whale watching and swimming with dolphins. May to October is the ideal time to tour The Great Barrier Reef.


The northern region of Norway, from late September to late March, witnesses longer nights as it gets dark starting in the early afternoon. This is when the northern lights, or the aurora borealis, form beautiful patterns of lights that seem to be dancing in the dark sky.

To view this remarkable atmospheric phenomenon, visitors have to travel to the north of the country to reach the Aurora Zone. You can also book one of the organised tours for travellers, hoping to catch a glimpse of the spectacle, which is caused when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth’s magnetic field down the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. This creates horseshoe-shaped particles in green and sometimes brown and red that move over the Arctic Circle.

Gamcheon Culture Village, South Korea

Known as the ‘Machu Picchu of Korea’, Gamcheon Culture Village is a coastal city in west Busan where history meets art. The labyrinth of steep alleys, stairways, sculptures, street art painted in vibrant shades and pastel-coloured houses with bright rooftops make for one of the most colourful places in the world.

However, it has a rather painful past. The village served as a settlement for refugees during the Korean War, who cultivated the mountainous terrain to make a living. Several years later, as part of the Village Art Project by the government’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, artists, residents and students flocked to the village to give it a facelift in 2009. Today, a visit to Busan will be incomplete without taking a trip to Gamcheon Culture Village.

The best time to visit Busan is during spring and autumn. Remember to carry a map of Gamcheon to avoid getting lost in one of the most colourful places in the world.

Additional Info

Tuesday, 23 August 2022 14:06

What is the Mid-Autumn Festival?

The mid-autumn festival lands on September 10th 2022, and is celebrated throughout Asia. Globe Aware volunteers in Vietnam during this month will be lucky enough to experience this special harvest celebration, also known as the "children's festival."

What is the Mid-Autumn Festival, and how is it celebrated around Asia?

29 Jul 2022
Lifestyle Asia

The Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival is celebrated across East Asian and Southeast Asian countries, especially those with Chinese communities, but what does it really entail?

Falling on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month (as per the Chinese lunar calendar), it is observed for a few days (mostly three) around the main day, wherein the city streets are decorated with bright and colourful lanterns and dazzling lights. During this period, people typically celebrate by savouring delectable mooncakes — which, as their name suggest, represent the full moon. The snack also symbolises happiness and family reunions.

This year, the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on 10 September. Mooncakes aside, not everyone might know what the event is all about. 

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All about Mid-Autumn Festival and mooncakes

The history of the Chinese festival and its different names

Although the Chinese festival finds its roots in the Tang (618-907 CE) and Song (960-1279 CE) dynasties, it became popular during the Ming (1368-1644 CE) and Qing (1644-1912 CE) dynasties and came to be known as the Spring Festival thereafter. In 2008, it was declared a public holiday by China.

Known as Zhōngqiū Jié in Mandarin in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, it is called Tết Trung Thu in Vietnam and Chuseok in Korea. Additionally, it is known as the Mooncake Festival, too, going by the festival-specific dessert.

Meanwhile, those with Chinese heritage in Indonesia celebrate another variation of the festival called the Lantern Festival (not the one celebrated in China).

Mid-Autumn Festival folklore

Based on various beliefs, Asian parents tell different stories revolving around the festival to their children. One of the popular ones is about the Jade Emperor whose ten sons altered themselves as ten suns and began disturbing life on earth with their scorching heat. The emperor hired the famous archer Hou Yi, who brought nine of them down. For this, he was awarded the immortality elixir for his bravery.

However, he gave the elixir to his wife Chang-e who once drank it to save it from being stolen by his followers. She then floated to the moon and stayed there as a deity. It was believed that she would return to her husband on Mid-Autumn day.

Meanwhile, Hou Yi started burning incense and offering food to the moon after losing his wife. His love touched people across various Chinese communities and similar traditions related to the festival came into practice.

Another tale narrates the story of a beautiful singer Diaochan, who lived during the Han dynasty (206-220 CE). After knowing about the ongoing politics in the royal court where she lived, she prayed to the moon for peace at midnight. Seeing her beauty, Chang-e, the goddess residing on the moon hid amid the clouds as she felt inferior. Diaochan’s beauty has been regarded as higher than Chang-e’s since then.

Celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam

The Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival is a favourite among kids. Also known as the ‘Children’s Festival’ in the country, every child looks forward to preparing their own lanterns and nibbling on the scrumptious mooncakes.

The harvest festival has much folklore attached to it, but the one which is the most popular in Vietnam is about a man named Cuội. He was said to have hung from a magical banyan tree that led to the moon. The Vietnamese believe that a man’s shadow can be seen if one looks closely at the moon, and the children light lanterns to help him find his way back to the earth.

As the city preps for the sparkling festival, one can easily witness lion dance by performers rehearsing on the streets. Add to it stalls with gorgeous lanterns, toys, masks and aromatic mooncakes.

On the full moon night, a vibrantly dressed male dancer can be seen amid the festivities. He represents the Earth God, Ông Địa, known for abundance and his mask symbolises the moon. He tells the lion dancers to perform for the crowd who cheer onlookers with their comical moves.

Múa lân or lion dance is one of the major attractions of this festival. This act is carried out by professional acrobatic dancers who comprise the lion’s body. Much to the awe of children, the dancers move closer to them to entertain and make them laugh.

If you are planning to visit the country during this bright festival, Hanoi, Hội An and Ho Chi Minh City are the best ones to be in. Don’t forget to catch the lion dances live.

Scrumptious mooncakes and other delicacies

One of the best things to look forward to during the festival is mooncakes. And, it has an interesting anecdote as it holds much importance in Chinese history. While the Han Chinese revolted against the Mongols during the Yuan dynasty period (1279-1368 CE), it is believed that some revolutionaries exchanged secret messages through mooncakes.

The full moon-shaped delicacy come in traditional filling, which includes lotus seeds and roots, melon seeds, fruits and chocolates. However, if you wish to try something unconventional, go for the ones prepared with fillings of spicy beef, leek and fermented bean curd.

Mooncakes come in a varied price range. These include normal ones with an average price and luxury mooncakes costing a few thousand yuan.

Besides mooncakes, other delicacies include Osmanthus wine, river snails, pumpkins, deep-fried lotus root sandwiches, and taro (sweet potato).

Other countries that celebrate the harvest festival

Other than China and Vietnam, countries including Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines celebrate the festival, which is all about three important concepts — gathering, thanksgiving and praying.

Other than organizing family reunions and other rituals related to worshipping the moon, the people of Korea worship their ancestors too. While the men of the family stand together for the ‘worshipping ceremony,’ the eldest son invites the ancestors by opening the front door and offering flowers, drinks, and food items. While paying their respect to them with other family members, he burns the incense. They begin the feast after this ceremony.

The Japanese, on the other hand, follow a different way of worshipping the moon and celebrating the festival, and it is known as Tsukimi there. Along with dressing in traditional attires and visiting their place of worship, they decorate their houses in a specific manner using pampas grass. It symbolizes the beginning of autumn and is believed to keep bad energies away.

For the people of Malaysia, going for the lantern parades during this festival is a major attraction. One of the best places to witness the Mid-Autumn festivities is Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur, which is said to be one of the oldest and largest temples in Southeast Asia. You can also visit the ‘river of lights’ parade in Penang when it comes alive with brightly lit lamps and lanterns.

India, too, celebrates the autumnal harvest festival, known by different names in different states, including Mim Kut in Mizoram, Nuakhai in Odisha, Pham Kho Sowai in Arunachal Pradesh and Onam in Kerala.

Additional Info


From October, Thailand will downgrade Covid to the same category as the flu virus. Thailand is re-asserting itself as a friendly destination for tourists and our Globe Aware volunteers.


Thailand To Start Treating Covid Like The Flu From October

Travel Off Path
August 13 2022

In a new development even the most optimistic didn’t see coming, Thailand will outpace the vast majority of Asia, and even the Western Hemisphere, in treating Covid as an endemic disease. From October, the once ultra-strict country will downgrade the pathogen to the same category as the flu virus, effectively treating both the same.

After more than two years of enforcing strict regulations aimed at curbing the viral spread, Thailand has progressively eased its stance this year, dropping the highly controversial Thailand Pass, which was seen as a barrier for most foreign visitors, and rescinding all mask requirements. Now, it will be taking yet another huge step in reinstating normality.

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Here is everything you need to know about Thailand’s reclassifying of Covid and what it means for tourists:

Thailand Close To Fully Reinstating Normality

Unlike other popular tourist hotspots, like Germany and Cyprus, that have recently made a U-turn and tightened pandemic rules once more, Thailand is pursuing a different path irrespective of the rise of new Omicron sub-variants. You may be wondering why, seeing that it stood among some of the most conservative Asian states not that long ago.

In sum, the Ministry of Public Health, responsible for the anti-Covid response, has finally conceded the situation has begun to ‘stabilize’, and the virus, albeit still ‘dangerous’, no longer justifies a state of emergency. Interestingly, cases in Thailand have remained stable while other neighboring countries have seen new spikes.

According to data shared by Worldometers, the moving average of new reported cases is 2,190 for the 7-day period ending on, and preceding August 11 – roughly the same as a month ago on July 11, when the rolling average was 2,134. There has been a slight increase, yes, but this has not strained the local health sector, nor led to a surge in deaths.

For that reason, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, a central figure in Thailand politics during the pandemic years, has confirmed Covid will join other viruses such as influenza, perpetrator of the flu, and dengue, responsible for dengue fever, on a list of communicable diseases that simply need ‘monitoring’.

Visiting Thailand Is The Easiest It’s Been Since 2020

This will happen as soon as October, and will ‘reflect the reality‘ of the pandemic in Thailand, according ot Charnvirakul himself. Previously, Thailand had resorted to numerous lockdowns and social curbs to keep the virus under control, going as far as barring entry of foreigners into numerous destinations in an attempt to keep new variants out.

Up until recently, tourists had also been subject to strict vaccine, testing, and isolation mandates, as well as Thailand’s infamously confusing quarantine entry schemes. While it has yet to mimic the likes of Mexico, or even its fellow Asian partner Vietnam, in fully scrapping entry requirements, visiting Thailand is now the easiest it’s been since 2020.

Essentially, foreigners must provide one of the following documents to be granted quarantine-free entry:

  • An active vaccination certificate, or
  • A negative Covid test (RT-PCR or Lateral Flow) within 72 hours of boarding their flight

Is Covid Finally Taking A Back Seat?

By effectively declaring the disease as endemic, as it previously indicated it would, Thailand is re-asserting itself as a friendly tourist destination, and completely shifting their Covid strategy. Not our words, the Health Minister’s: he believes it is now up to the public to look after their own health, instead of being closely guarded by the national government.

In his statement, the Minister lists the ‘readiness’ of Thailand’s healthcare system, as well as access to treatment, as reasons why Covid is no longer as disruptive as it once was. Prior to this update, the virus had shared the same status as the plague and smallpox, two other conditions that indeed threaten lives and the functioning of society.

As a matter of fact, monkeypox, an entity closely related to the latter, has been doing the rounds lately and prompted numerous destinations, and even the World Health Organization, to sound the alarm. As new, more pressing issues face travelers, including new health concerns, Covid seems to be finally taking a back seat.

In Thailand, this will be official beginning this fall.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

Many countries have their own laws regarding the importation of food items, and the United States is no exception, having issued 7,190 violations in 2021. Globe Aware volunteers should be aware of what food items could result in expensive consequences.


Think Twice About Flying With Food, Huge Fines Could Be Waiting

By Tyler Fox
August 15 2022
Travel Off Path

Grabbing a last-minute breakfast before flying is common practice when rushing through the airport. However, that breakfast could cost you much more than anticipated if you aren’t careful. Recently, a passenger heading to Australia was fined $1,874 USD for bringing his McDonald’s breakfast with him from Bali. That breakfast will end up costing more than the original flight to Bali, and it should serve as a warning to other travelers. Many countries have their own laws regarding the importation of food items, and the case above shows how serious the repercussions can be. The United States is no exception and issued 7,190 violations in 2021 for “failures to declare prohibited agriculture items.”

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Which Countries Issue Fines?

Every country will have its own policies regarding the importation of food items. Australia has recently heightened its biosecurity measures in an effort to combat the spread of foot and mouth disease, leading to the case above. Australia will fine passengers up to $1,874 USD for failing to declare food items. But what about other countries?

  • United States – Fines up to $10,000 USD
  • Canada – Fines up to $1017 USD
  • United Kingdom – Fines can range from about $300 to $3,000 USD or more, depending on the severity of the discrepancy.

What Foods Are Prohibited?

Prohibited foods vary from country to country, but using the U.S. as a guide to understanding what foods most countries are looking for is a good starting point. Passengers flying into the U.S. must declare all food products. There are specific food items that cannot come into the country, including:

  • Almost all fresh and frozen fruits or vegetables
  • Home-canned products. Commercially canned products are alright, however.
  • Most dried fruits and vegetables.
  • Meat or poultry

Travelers should always declare their food items in every country they visit, as any import tax is likely to be far less than any fines they would otherwise face.

Why Are Foods An Issue?

Each country will have its own specific reasons for restricting different foods. However, the most common reason for limiting the importation of various foods is to protect against disease and pests. Several diseases are commonly carried in meats, including foot-and-mouth disease, swine fever, and others. Most fruits and vegetables are prohibited because of their potential for carrying foreign pests and diseases that would be harmful to the local produce. Much like when centuries-old travelers would bring diseases with them when discovering new places, fruits and vegetables can have just as devastating an impact on local agriculture.

In 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discovered 264 instances of pests at ports of entry. And while it may seem overboard to throw away an apple because of the slight chance it has an unseen pest aboard; the risk is certainly there. In 2021 at the Port of Gulfport, CBP officials found a butterfly larvae pest while inspecting a container of pineapples from Costa Rica. The butterfly’s larvae are pests and feed on various plants. If it were to gain a foothold in the U.S., it could adversely affect the country’s agriculture.

What Should Travelers Do?

In short, always declare food items when going through customs and border control after flying to any country. By declaring food items, travelers will ensure that they don’t incur any fines and, more importantly, don’t accidentally cause an agricultural disaster by introducing a new pest or disease to the area. In the U.S., if passengers declare all their food items, they will have nothing to worry about. Even if an inspector decides that a particular item is prohibited from entering the country, travelers will not be held liable as long as the item was declared.

Some items are typically nothing to worry about, such as candy or crackers in packaging. However, travelers should always research the country they are visiting before flying with food items. Otherwise, the consequences can be severe.

Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path
Thursday, 11 August 2022 10:12

Luggage delayed, lost or damaged?

The prospect of delayed, lost or damaged baggage can make any Globe Aware volunteer nervous about flying. There are things you can do and strategies you can take to help avoid or at least minimize the impact of lost and delayed luggage.

What should I do if my luggage is delayed, lost or damaged?

By Forrest Brown
August 7, 2022

(CNN) — It's enough to give anyone already nervous about the chaos in the skies yet another reason to pop an antacid: the prospect of delayed, lost or damaged baggage.

The concern is valid.

After all, Delta Air Lines recently decided to fly a plane from London to its hub in Detroit packed with 1,000 lost bags and zero passengers because of a now-notorious meltdown in service at Heathrow Airport. Waves of cancellations and delays are becoming commonplace.

Handing over checked suitcases can almost feel like a leap of faith these days.

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How bad is the problem?

A recent report from the US Department of Transportation shows an increase in the number of "mishandled" bags. (Any baggage that is lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered is considered mishandled.)

In May 2021, 0.38 out of 100 bags enplaned were mishandled. That figure went up to 0.56 per 100 bags enplaned in May 2022.

At 0.93 bags per 100 enplaned, regional carrier Republic Aiways Republic Airlines had the most mishandled bags in May 2022 among 17 US airlines in the report. Republic operates flights for American Eagle, Delta Connection and United Express).

However, that still puts more than 99 out of 100 bags going where they needed to go without incident.

Scott Keyes, the founder of flight deals and travel advice site Scott's Cheap Flights, said he's encouraging people not to let news of baggage issues put them off their flights and vacations.

"Every bag that gets lost is a huge disruption for the people whose bag that is -- and I certainly don't want to downplay that -- but I do want folks to have the proper perspective that in the vast majority cases, your flight is going to fly and your checked bag is going to arrive," he told CNN Travel.

Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel for AAA, sees better days ahead.

"As staffing improves, more pilots are trained and flight frequency increases, we will see this issue start to disappear," she said in an email to CNN Travel.

In the meantime, you're not totally powerless. There are things you can do and strategies you can take to help avoid or at least minimize the impact of lost and delayed luggage.

Before you go to the airport

Book nonstop flights: If you're really concerned about your checked luggage, prioritize nonstop flights or at least layovers with a generous amount of time, Keyes said.

"Bags are most likely to get lost in that transfer between planes at connection, especially if there's a tight connection." And he said that's doubly so for international flights with tight connections.

Consider discount airlines: He said full-service airlines are more likely to lose your bags than the discount airlines, which tend to have more nonstop flights that have a lower likelihood of losing a bag in transit.

Legacy airlines tend to have more connecting flights. Keyes said he wouldn't make a booking decision based solely on this, but it's "an interesting side factor to consider."

Take pictures of your luggage and its contents: Jo Hoban, a travel agent in Spanish Fork, Utah, about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City, told CNN Travel that she advises her clients to "take a picture of their bags because the first things airline offices will ask you is what is the brand name of the bag, what is the color of the bag, the size of the bag and the contents of the bag."

She also said people should lay out what they are planning to pack on the bed and take a picture of that, too. If the bag is lost, that helps create a content record.

Use baggage tracking: "Many airlines allow you to see the status of your bags in their apps, which can help give you peace of mind that your bag is on the flight with you — or at least give you insight into your bag's location should it get delayed," Scott's Cheap Flights said in an email news release.

Twidale says you can set up independent tracking yourself. One option is called AirTag, and it connects with an Apple device so you can track the tag's location.

Properly ID your suitcases on the inside, too: The consumer advocate group Travelers United says put your info on the inside, too, in case your outside tag gets torn off. Hoban makes the same suggestion.

"I have had a bag taken off the carousel at the airport in Salt Lake [City]. Luckily, I knew the people who took my bag so it was easy to exchange it," she said. "But again, what if I did not know those people? What if they were total strangers and got my bag home? Hopefully, they're good, honest people and see that I have a name and phone number in the bag that they can call me and let me know the mistake."

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

The power of carry-ons: The airlines can't lose baggage you never check in. Twidale suggests packing as light as you can and use just carry-ons. You'll save time leaving the airport and have more peace of mind.

Review your credit card coverage: Before you buy extra travel insurance, Keyes suggested you check your credit card policy for travel protection.

You might get supplemental compensation (for what the airlines don't cover) not only for lost bags, but also for reimbursements for things you may need to buy while you're waiting for your bag.

At the airport before you fly

Check your bags in a timely manner: Travelers United says last-minute baggage check-ins can lead to a greater chance of trouble.

"Don't push the system. The smallest delay can have serious consequences when your luggage is cruising down the conveyor belt and selected for security examination with little time to spare," its website says.

Work that phone camera again: Keyes suggested that just before handing over your checked suitcases, open them up and take a picture.

"If your bag does get lost, and you've got any valuables in there ... having a photograph of what was in there is really going to bolster your case to get compensation after the fact."

Check your baggage tag's destination: Travelers United also advises you double-check your airline luggage tags and make sure they're going to where you are going, especially if you're doing curbside check-in. And the North Carolina Consumers Council reminds people to keep hold of their the baggage claim ticket or sticker.

If your baggage is delayed

Scope out other spots at the airport: If your suitcases aren't on the designated pick-up carousel, The Points Guy travel advice website suggests checking nearby carousels and if you don't see them there, try the airline's baggage office. This is also a good time to put those aforementioned tracking apps to work.

Report your issue and fill out forms at the airport: If your bags haven't shown up, let the airline know.

"Many times, airline personnel will explain that the luggage has been located but will be delayed until the next flight," Travelers United says. "If you have the time, wait. If not, fill out the appropriate lost luggage forms at the airport."

Let the airline deliver your bags: Keyes said if an airline can locate your suitcases but it's going to be hours before they arrive, make sure the reps have the address where you'll be and use the airline's delivery service.

Keep receipts: "If you buy anything to get you through the days without your luggage — from a new swimsuit to toothpaste — keep the receipts. You may need these to get reimbursed," Scott's Cheap Flights advises.

If your luggage is lost

Check your airline's claims and compensation policy: Each airline should have website information on what to do if your bag is lost. For example, this is Delta Air Lines' page. This is American Airlines' page. And this is Southwest Airlines' page. And airlines based outside the United States have their own systems. This is what to do if flying British Airways.

If the airline isn't being helpful: "If the airline is dragging its feet on compensation ... don't be afraid to complain to the Department of Transportation, Keyes said regarding US airlines. You can file a complaint here.

"They've got a special aviation enforcement office where they're being much more pro-active about protecting consumers and trying to clamp down on airlines when they're not providing customers with the type of compensation or reimbursement that they're required to do under federal laws."

For information of making claims for UK flights, click here. And check the UK's Civil Aviation Authority's site here. Get more information on Canadian flights here.

Liability limits: There's fine print, exceptions and paperwork / documentation hurdles, but you can eventually get cash for your lost bags.

For US domestic flights, the maximum liability amount allowed by DOT regulation is $3,800. Airlines are free to pay more than the limit, but are not required to do so. For international flights, that figure is $1,780. Find out more from the DOT here.

Damaged bags: If you see your luggage is damaged while still at the airport, report it there. Airlines aren't required to pay for damages to items caused by improper packing, according to the DOT, nor are they responsible for "certain categories of items (for example: fragile items, electronics, cash, perishable items ...)"

They are liable for damage to wheels, handles and straps.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Monday, 08 August 2022 11:36

Traveling to Costa Rica during Covid-19

If you’re planning to travel to Costa Rica, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to travel to this popular Globe Aware destination.

Travel to Costa Rica during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN Staff
July 2, 2021

If you’re planning to travel to Costa Rica, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

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The basics

Costa Rica was one of the first countries to open back up for tourism, which it did in November 2020. Around 1 million travelers visited the country in 2021 — back to almost 70% of pre-pandemic levels.

However, the Delta variant hit the country hard in 2021, with hospitals “dangerously full” at the peak, and Costa Rica ending high up on the board of the most new cases globally. Cases then dropped to some of the lowest levels seen in months, but are currently at an all-time high because of the Omicron variant.

On January 24, the US CDC moved Costa Rica to its Level 4 risk — or “do not travel” list. However, with the CDC revising its listings, Costa Rica is now classified as Level 3, classed as high risk.

Since March 2022, the country has been implementing a “responsible and gradual opening,” as restrictions begin to relax.

The government says that Costa Rica has one of the lowest death rates per million of population in the world.

What’s on offer

Costa Rica is known for its “pura vida” (pure life), and, pandemic aside, the vida is still pura here. This is a country for nature lovers, with both a Caribbean and Pacific coast, and jungle covering about a quarter of the country.

Whether you’re here for the cloud forests, the volcanoes or the incredible nature and wildlife, your shoulders will definitely drop a few inches.

Most visitors pass through capital San José as a mere routing point, but it’s a beautiful city, with stunning architecture, public art and museums.

Who can go

Everyone. Costa Rica opened back up — even for tourism — on November 1, 2020. However, there are of course restrictions. And standard visa regulations still apply.

Since January 2022, many activities are restricted to those who’ve been vaccinated. Although entry rules aren’t set to change, restrictions on the ground will make it less attractive for the unvaccinated. You now cannot enter a hotel, restaurant, bar or museum without proof of vaccination.

In August, Costa Rica’s president signed a law that allows “digital nomads” to remain in the country for up to two years. To qualify, individuals must earn at least $3,000 a year, and families must make at least $5,000. Benefits include the ability to open a Costa Rican bank account and their local US driver’s licenses being honored locally.

What are the restrictions?

There’s no need for a negative Covid-19 PCR test result as there was initially, and the country dropped the requirement of filling out a Health Pass before arrival on March 1.

The requirement for non-vaccinated arrivals to have travel insurance covering Covid-19 treatment was dropped on April 1. Free vaccinations are now on offer to tourists at San Jose’s airport, if they so wish.

Residents and Costa Rican nationals may be subject to self-isolation on arrival.

The land borders, which had been closed to nonresidents, reopened April 2020 to visitors not needing a visa.

American Airlines launched flights from Chicago and Austin to San Jose on November 2, 2021. Avianca launched flights from Cancún on December 2. British Airways returned after a pandemic break on December 15.

What can visitors expect?

All commercial spaces — whether restaurants, bars or entertainment venues — can now operate at full capacity.

There is some confusion around face masks. A recent government ruling suggests they are no longer mandatory, but local media reports that individual business can still mandate the use of masks on their premises. The UK government states that masks are mandatory at health establishments such as doctor’s surgeries and hospitals, while private businesses can require you wear one, too.

Over 1 million cases have been registered as of August 5, with 8,740 deaths.

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Wednesday, 03 August 2022 11:58

Bhutan sets reopening date

Bhutan will reopen for international tourists from September for the first time since the pandemic began more than two years ago, officials said on June 30. Globe Aware volunteers will be delighted to know that we offer a volunteer vacation week in this tiny Himalayan kingdom.


Bhutan sets reopening date -- and increases daily tourist tax

June 30, 2022

Bhutan will reopen for international tourists from September for the first time since the pandemic began more than two years ago, officials said on June 30, as the tiny Himalayan kingdom looks to revive its economy.

Wedged between China and India, the country with scenic natural beauty and ancient Buddhist culture, took drastic early steps and banned tourism, a major source of income, in March 2020 when the first COVID-19 case was detected there.

The constitutional monarchy of less than 800,000 people has reported fewer than 60,000 infections and only 21 deaths, but the $3 billion economy contracted in the last two fiscal years, pushing more people into poverty.

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) said tourists would be allowed to enter from September 23.

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They will, however, be charged a Sustainable Development Fee of $200 per tourist per night, up from the $65 charged for three decades. Officials said the new fee would offset tourists' carbon impact.

"COVID-19 has allowed us to reset -- to rethink how the sector can be best structured and operated... while keeping carbon footprints low," Tandi Dorji, TCB chairman and the country's foreign minister, said in a statement.

Authorities said Bhutan had revised standards for service providers, such as hotels, guides, tour operators, and drivers.

Tourism employs 50,000 people and contributed an annual average of about $84 million in the three years before the pandemic in direct foreign exchange.

Bhutan opened to high-end tourists in 1974 when it received 300 visitors. The number soared to 315,600 in 2019, up 15.1% from a year earlier, TCB data showed.

Tour operators said visitors would be free to choose their own operators and plan itineraries, whereas before they could choose only from the packages offered by their operators.

Sangay Phuntso, who runs the Always Bhutan Travel company in the capital Thimphu, said the fees may deter some, but not the wealthier visitors.

"Those who can spend are welcome," Phuntso said. "We are excited."

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Wednesday, 03 August 2022 11:40

Traveling to Ghana during Covid-19

Ghana has been open to international flights for some time. If you're planning to travel to Ghana, here's what Globe Aware volunteers will need to know!

Traveling to Ghana during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

August 1, 2022

(CNN) — If you're planning to travel to Ghana, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

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The basics

Ghana has been open to international flights for some time, but on March 28 it finally reopened its land and sea borders. All non-resident adults who are not Ghanaian citizens must be fully vaccinated in order to enter the country.

What's on offer

Ghana may be blessed with some of West Africa's finest beaches, but it's so much more than a place to sunbathe. Its coastal forts offer an unflinching insight into the slave trade which was run by the British from these shores. The rambling Kejetia Market, in Kumasi, in the southwest of the country, is said to be the largest in this part of the continent, selling everything from jewelry to footwear. In the north, Mole National Park is the ideal place to see some of Africa's most famous animals, including elephants, hippos and warthogs.

Who can go

Travelers aged 18 years and over who are not Ghanaian citizens or resident foreigners must be fully vaccinated in order to enter.

Ghanaians and resident foreigners who are not fully vaccinated are allowed entry but restrictions apply (see below).

Entry requirements

Non-resident travelers aged 18 years and over must be fully vaccinated in order to enter. They no longer need to undergo any Covid-19 testing.

Ghanaians and resident foreigners who are not fully vaccinated will be offered vaccination on arrival. Alternatively, they can undergo mandatory quarantine at a government-assigned facility for seven days at their own expense.

They must also have proof of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure and also undertake an additional antigen test on arrival.

This costs $50 per passenger for Ghanaians and citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and $150 for everyone else, with results available within 30 minutes. Payment must be made online prior to boarding the flight to Ghana.

Anyone testing positive on arrival will be assessed by the Port Health Unit for quarantine either in a government health facility or isolation center. The cost of the mandatory seven-day stay must be covered by passengers at their own expense.

All passengers must complete an online health declaration form and may be asked to do so again on board before landing.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

BBC Travel Show - Passengers with a Purpose

Jul 14, 2022

Emeline Nsingi Nkosi finds out what life’s like as an international volunteer onboard the world’s biggest civilian hospital ship. The Green Guide’s back - asking how to travel sustainably on a budget, and the team’s in India taking a look at a new record breaking railway bridge in the Himalayas.

Additional Info

  • Source Self
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