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

BRYAN REYES
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 pic.twitter.com/tR8AGXszn2 — 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
NPR

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
USA TODAY
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 tsa.gov/precheck 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.

Edinburgh

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

BY KARAN KAUSHIK
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

 

TERESA OTTO, MD
MAY.15.2021

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

PALLABI BOSE
Travel 19 Jul 2022
LIFESTYLE ASIA

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.

Norway

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

  • Source LIFESTYLE ASIA
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
PYUSHA CHATTERJEE
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

  • Source LIFESTYLE ASIA

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

By 
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
CNN
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
Reuters

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

(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
BBC

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
Wednesday, 27 July 2022 13:02

19 Travel Prep Tips

With summer travel season in full swing, you might be counting down the days until your Globe Aware volunteer vacation! But impending travel means a heap of logistics to manage, and you might find your excitement is overshadowed by stress. Here are some helpful travel tips to make things easier!


 

Reduce Pre-Vacation Stress With These 19 Travel Prep Tips

Here's what you can do now to make your upcoming summer trip go smoothly.

Mary King
July 20, 2022
CNET

With summer travel season in full swing, you might be counting down the days until your next trip -- already imagining the warm sand between your toes or the stunning landmarks you've longed to see in person. (If you're hoping to capture those sweet vacation memories on camera, here's the essential travel photography gear to pack.) But impending travel means a heap of logistics to manage, and you might find your excitement is overshadowed by stress.

First, you'll likely encounter pricier-than-ever airfares as you book the trip itself. After you arrange your time out of office, you have to prepare your home for your absence and make sure it's secure. Then there's figuring out what to pack, not to mention fitting it all into your suitcase.

But although travel requires hours of planning ahead, it's all easier to tackle once you've put together a clear list of to-dos. The tips below will make your vacation a walk in the park. Or, preferably, a walk on the beach.

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Packing list essentials most people don't think about

A few small additions to your suitcase can minimize hassle and maximize comfort when you're traveling. Here are some essentials you probably already have in your home. (If you're interested in bringing your computer or tablet on your trip, be sure to also check our list of must-have travel gadgets.)

1. Pack a reusable water bottle
With heat waves happening now, this one is a must — especially if you're not staying in an environment where free water is easily accessible. A hydration bladder (a pouch that fits in your backpack and sends water to your mouth via a long tube) is a handy option for more hiking-oriented trips, though keep in mind it's a little more complicated to clean. Either way, you need some sort of reusable vessel to keep you hydrated consistently. Otherwise you'll have to rely on buying water bottles, which is expensive in tourist hubs and not always feasible in more rural areas. Here's a list of our favorite water bottles for 2022. If your destination's tap water isn't drinkable, try a water bottle with a built-in filter.

2. Bring dryer sheets
Ironically, they're bad for your dryer. But dryer sheets will do wonders for your foul-smelling shoes. Bunch them up and stick them inside (or, for sandals, on top of the footbeds) before you go to bed. This will alleviate the stench that will inevitably accumulate after days of walking. Dryer sheets can also get rid of deodorant stains on clothes and flatten down your hair's flyaways. (Here are 20 unexpected ways that dryer sheets can come in handy.)

3. Don't forget plastic bags
Nothing fancy, just the disposable grocery bags you stuffed in the back of your pantry. While they're not the most luxurious of travel take-alongs, plastic bags prove their usefulness in a number of situations. You can fold and stuff your already-worn outfits into plastic bags to partition dirty laundry from the rest of your suitcase and keep it from stinking up the rest of your clothes. They can also offer some temporary storage for wet swimsuits and grubby shoes. Plus, if there's any chance you'll be grocery shopping on your trip, you can reuse those plastic shopping bags in countries that ban stores from providing them or require stores to charge extra for them.

Packing tips to fit more and travel easier
Once you've determined what to pack, next comes figuring out how to pack. Whether you're trying to squeeze your belongings into a compact carry-on or you're filling up a roomier suitcase you plan to check at the airport, packing strategically can maximize space in your luggage and make it easier to access the things you need most.

4. Fold, roll and cube your clothes
Every traveler has their preferred method of packing clothes: Some fold their garments, others roll them into logs and still others flatten them into packing cubes. We recommend mixing these three strategies. Fold your more structured, bulky clothes: jeans, trousers, formal dresses and button-downs. Then roll up the rest of your garments and stuff them into the remaining gaps in your suitcase. For some extra flattening down, squeeze some of those rolled clothes into packing cubes.

5. Prepare for TSA
To bring a carry-on through security, you'll need easy access to your electronics and liquids so you can place them on the conveyor belt. Stick them in the top layer or outer pocket of your suitcase (or your allotted personal item). Otherwise, you'll have to jumble your perfect packing as you dig around for your laptop, stalling the line behind you in the process.

6. Put the most important things in your carry-on
When you check your luggage, you run the risk of losing it. That's why your carry-on or personal item is the optimal place for the essentials that would be most difficult to replace: your wallet, contact lenses, glasses, medication, electronics or anything you would hate to be stuck without for a few days.

7. Track your bags
To give your luggage some extra protection from loss and theft, outfit both your carry-on and checked bag with tracking devices, like Tiles or Apple AirTags. Knowing your suitcases' exact location will certainly save you some headaches if something goes awry: AirTags enabled Ross Feinstein, of CNET's sibling site The Points Guy, to find his missing bag and board a connecting flight on time.

8. Leave luggage wiggle room if necessary
Is there a chance you'll hit the shops or bring back some souvenirs? As you're loading up your luggage, take into account any extra space you might need on the way back. You don't want to end up in a situation in which you've bought, say, a fabulous pair of pants at your destination, but your suitcase is so stuffed you have to consider sacrificing some other belongings in order to make them fit. (True story.)

Pre-vacation home checklist
Handling some quick chores before you leave will help ensure that you'll come back to find your home just as you left it. Check out our full list of pre-vacation household tasks.

9. Unplug your electronics
This will lower your energy bill and reduce the risk of electrical fires. Before you depart, unplug your appliances, lamps, chargers, routers, computers and TVs.

10. Lock your windows
In addition to triple-checking all your doors, make sure you secure your windows, the next easiest entry point for thieves. Better yet, a smart lock can alert you when a window is unlocked and allow you to lock it remotely.

11. Put timers on your lights
To make it look like you're home, plug light timers into your outlets or install a remotely controllable smart bulb. Set your indoor lights to turn on and off as they normally would, and set your outdoor lights to turn on at night.

12. Keep your plants alive while you're away
Don't doom them to wither in your absence. You can fashion a drip system out of a plastic water bottle by filling it with water, drilling some holes toward the top, turning it over and tucking it into the soil deep enough that the holes are covered. For big pots, water-filled wine bottles work well. (There's no need to drill any extra drainage holes: Just leave the bottle open.) For more ideas, check out our guide to helping your plants thrive while you're away.

13. Stay cool
It's possible to keep the summer heat out of your home without running up your electric bill. Close your shades if you're in a sunny area, and run a dehumidifier if your local weather calls for it. Set your thermostat 5 degrees higher than you normally keep it, or get a smart thermostat that you can set to vacation mode.

Figure out how your phone will work abroad
If you keep your phone's default settings while traveling abroad, it won't work the same way. At least, not without your provider slapping hefty international charges onto your phone bill.

14. Sort out your SIM situation
To get the full range of calling, SMS texting and data, you'll need to get another SIM card that's supported abroad. Some newer phones have eSIM technology that lets you do this digitally, but many still require you to physically remove your SIM card and replace it with another.

15. Know where to get a SIM if necessary
International airports typically have counters or self-serve kiosks where you can buy prepaid local SIM cards once you get to your destination. But if you'd rather figure it out in advance and have service right as your plane touches down, CNET has previously recommended KnowRoaming, which now offers eSIMs.

16. Let your contacts know what's happening
With a new phone number comes potential snafus you'll want to anticipate. If you don't want to deal with texting your contacts from a number they won't recognize, let them know you'll be going abroad and tell them to reach you on apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, which just use data.

17. Work around two-factor authentication obstacles
You might need to access services or accounts that require two-factor authentication to log in. Before you go, make sure the authentication method is set to email instead of your phone number.

Stash money safely while traveling
Your mind is often in a million places at once as you're traveling, so it's all too easy to let your guard down and lose track of your money. With a bit of planning ahead, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood of your funds getting lost or pickpocketed.

18. Don't be an easy target
Stuff your cash in a money belt or fanny pack, which makes it far more difficult to steal than a tote or the outer pocket of a backpack.

19. Hide your money
Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket... or all your funds in one place. Stick an extra card in your carry-on or some small bills in a second wallet. That way, if you lose one bag or wallet, you're not stuck penniless. (Just make sure you remember all your hiding places; maybe keep track of them in a password-protected note on your phone.)

Additional Info

  • Source CNET
Monday, 25 July 2022 11:10

Monkeypox virus and travel

Although The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern,” Globe Aware volunteers can be relieved to know it does not impact travel, according to health experts. Still it's important to learn the facts about this virus, and practice precaution.


 

Monkeypox virus declared a public health emergency: How does this impact travel?

Bill Fink
The Points Guy
July 23 2022

It’s official. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined monkeypox constitutes a global health emergency, calling it a “public health emergency of international concern” due to a multi-country outbreak.

But will it impact travel?

The short answer from the health experts we’ve talked to is “no,” but let’s dive into the facts.

According to the WHO, anyone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox or has signs and symptoms compatible with the virus infection should avoid any travel until they are no longer considered a public health risk.

Most of the nearly 17,000 monkeypox cases reported so far are in Europe.

Nearly 3,000 have been reported in the U.S., but the WHO and local doctors caution that these numbers may be much lower than actual figures due to underreporting.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest news on the disease and what impact it may have on global travel.

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What is the potential monkeypox impact on travel?

Although a monkeypox vaccine is available, there are no requirements to be vaccinated against it in order to travel. But travelers should be aware of areas with high infection rates. You can check this map to see rates by country.

“For most travelers, this should not cause alarm, but it is worth understanding the risk numbers in the travel destination,” says Dr. Jenny Yu from Healthline. (Healthline is owned by Red Ventures which also owns The Points Guy). “As this is a re-emerging disease, not all healthcare providers are familiar with diagnosis and treatment, which may delay diagnosis, something to consider when traveling. People should take the necessary precautions but should not panic from a travel standpoint.”

The U.K., Belgium and Germany, all with increasing monkeypox numbers, have issued 21-day quarantine recommendations for people diagnosed with the disease. However, such quarantines are thought to be inefficient for preventing its spread due to the virus’s long incubation period, especially when compared to COVID-19, according to a Cowen market analysis report.

Still, monkeypox “shouldn’t be an issue when traveling,” says New York-based Dr. Jake Deutsch, a former emergency room physician at Mt. Sinai Hospital who now runs a private practice focused on men’s health. Deutsch says most travelers shouldn’t worry, “unless you’re engaging in higher risk behavior while in countries with high infection rates.”

What is monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a virus “characterized by a fever, swollen lymph nodes and a widespread rash,” according to a guide by Healthline. The monkeypox-induced rashes can cause many unsightly and sometimes painful lesions, particularly on the face and extremities.

The monkeypox disease was first identified in the 1950s among monkeys, with the first human case occurring in the Congo in the 1970s. Before the recent outbreak, the virus was mainly active in rural regions in central and western Africa.

Symptoms of monkeypox are similar (but milder) than those of smallpox. After contracting the virus, people may suffer from fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue and chills within five to 21 days. Then the distinctive rash and lesions can appear 1-3 days later, primarily around the face, hands, feet and genitals.

Monkeypox symptoms “generally last two to four weeks and go away without treatment,” according to Healthline. There are potentially more dangerous complications in rare situations, leading to fatalities in 3% to 6% of cases in past outbreaks, according to the WHO.

However, WHO data also says the recent outbreak has only resulted in five deaths worldwide.

But in terms of the monkeypox outbreak, “what we’re seeing now is only the tip of the iceberg,” says Dr. Deutsch. He believes the numbers are being underreported due to the stigma around the illness and the fact that it can be sexually transmitted.

Help reduce the stigma of Monkeypox (MPV)! Anyone can get MPV, regardless of gender identity and sexual orientation. Seek medical attention if you have a few or unexplained rash and have open conversations with your sexual partners about your status and theirs. pic.twitter.com/4w88Y9o37S
— Callen-Lorde Community Health Center (@CallenLorde) July 23, 2022

Plus, he says “we’re seeing it travel across borders for the first time … it’s expanding across Europe, in Spain, in the U.K., in Germany, everywhere people are going this summer, the virus is going, too.”

How can I avoid monkeypox?

Monkeypox spreads through direct contact and exchange of fluids between humans, or humans and animals. Respiratory droplets can spread the disease, but this is “very rare,” according to Dr. Deutsch. Blood, bodily fluids, the mucous from lesions, and even bedding and clothes infused with those substances can spread the virus, according to a CDC advisory.

To help lower your chances of catching monkeypox, the CDC strongly recommends these important steps:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with people with a rash that looks like monkeypox.
  • Do not touch the rash or scabs of a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with monkeypox.
  • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with monkeypox.
  • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels or clothing of a person with monkeypox.

General health recommendations apply as well: wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer when in a public setting. To be safe, avoid close contact with others and reduce skin-to-skin contact.

According to Dr. Deutsch and multiple studies, the virus has been expanding rapidly in the gay male community. “We’re trying to get the word out, educate higher risk people about the risks for spreading, about getting vaccinated and the viral treatments that are available,” he said.

No recommendations have been issued suggesting mask-wearing or vaccination for the general population related to monkeypox except in the case of healthcare workers directly dealing with patients or those exposed to it already. The U.S. is currently stockpiling both vaccines and antiviral treatments in case of more widespread and severe outbreaks.

Bottom line

While we don’t yet know all the facts about it and its full impact on travel, monkeypox has been spreading rapidly enough for the World Health Organization to declare it a public health emergency.

People should avoid close contact when interacting with someone who may have the disease and follow other WHO guidelines.

While there are currently no travel restrictions or requirements, stay tuned to The Points Guy, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for news. We are keeping a close eye on this developing story.

Additional reporting by Clint Henderson and Rosemarie Clancy..

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

Monsoon season may be here but that doesn't mean a lot of travel destinations have cooled down just yet. Globe Aware volunteers should be careful not to get overheated and follow some of these simple tips while traveling.


 How to keep cool if you have to travel during the record-breaking heatwave

Tips for staying cool in the heatwave as Brits are being urged not to travel unless it's absolutely necessary - we take a look at simple ways to cool down

TRAVEL
By Milo Boyd
Jul 18, 2022


Brits are being urged to avoid public transport in the extreme heat, but if you have to travel then there are some easy tips to help you keep safe and cool.

The UK is braced to endure its hottest ever day on record, with a temperature of 41C likely today or tomorrow.

The Met Office has issued a red extreme heat warning for much of England, from London and the south-east up to York and Manchester, while Brits have been advised not to travel if necessary.

If you do have to make a journey today or tomorrow - whether that be in the currently sweltering UK or in a hot country abroad - you should be careful not to get overheated.

Heatstroke and dehydration can be incredibly dangerous, and are made more likely when stuck on a cramped train or busy airport departure lounge.

If you are worried about the heat today and don't need to travel, then stay indoors, drink lots of water and follow these tips to keep cool.

If you do need to travel, then these bits of advice may be useful.

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Water is your friend

Make sure you drink as much water as possible and regularly wash your hands and face to keep your body temperature low.

As tempting as it might be, drinking alcohol and coffee is a sure-fire way to make yourself dehydrated.

If possible, travel next to or on bodies of water rather than on trains, tubes and buses, as the breeze from the water's surface will be cooler and wetter.

Wear cotton

When the temperatures are soaring the best fabrics you can wear are ones that retain water, keeping you wet and cool.

Quick drying synthetic fabrics are terrible in the heat and will offer little protection against the sun.

Cotton holds in moisture well, can flow and hang off the body, and provides against protection against the sun's UV rays if woven tightly enough.

Cool clothing includes loose-fitting outfits, tunics, A-line dresses, cropped trousers and natural fabric shirts and blouses, left untucked.

Electrolytes are key

However much water you're drinking, if your body can't keep it in, then it's not much use.

Water should be coupled with electrolytes, which maintain the balance between fluids inside and outside your cells.

Consuming salty potato crisps, sugary sweets, coconut water or an electrolyte tablet are all good ways to keep your levels up.

Wear a hat

A fairly obvious tip but a key one.

Keep the direct sunshine off your head is the best way to stop yourself from overheating, particularly when shaded areas aren't accessible during trips.

Keep your neck cool

Splashing water on your wrists is a great way to keep your body's core temperature low.

Equally, draping a wet towel or a gel wrap around your neck will also keep your body temperature down.

Wearing a hat with a broad brim and neck protector is also a smart move.

Plan when you travel

However prepared you are, if you're heading out in the blazing early sun, then you may overheat.

If you can, travel early in the morning or later in the evening, when the sun hasn't had a chance to heat up the air too much.

The further away you are from when the sun is at its highest, the more shade there will be due to the sun's angle.

Check your accommodation

If you are off on a holiday or staying away from home for another reason, then make sure that your accommodation is suitable for the heat.

Hotels will be able to tell you if your room has air conditioning or a balcony to cool off in.

Having two windows on opposite sides of a room is a great asset, as they can both be opened to create a through flow.

Ask the hotel managers or whoever is running the accommodation whether they can provide you with a fan and light bedding.

It's always worth checking reviews before you travel to find out how others have dealt with the heat.

Choose your activities wisely

If you are on holiday during the heatwave and are keen to make the most of your trip, then be smart about how you do it.

Minimise the number of journeys you're making each day by clustering activities in certain areas, and avoid planning those outside without any shade for the height of the day.

Additional Info

  • Source The Mirror
Wednesday, 20 July 2022 11:56

50 greatest places of 2022

Globe Aware volunteers will be delighted to see we offer volunteer vacations at two of these locations, Zimbabwe and Bhutan! If you're looking for adventure abroad, while still making a positive impact on a community, book with us today!


World's 50 greatest places of 2022, according to TIME magazine

Maureen O'Hare
CNN
July 12, 2022

(CNN) — Get your credit card out and your favorite booking platforms at the ready: US magazine and news website TIME has just released its list of the world's 50 greatest places of 2022.

The list was compiled by its international network of correspondents and contributors, and, says TIME in a statement, "with an eye toward those offering new and exciting experiences."

The 50 destinations to make the cut include both classic big-hitters and less-explored spots, but what unites them is that they are "thriving, growing and changing," says TIME, "charting a path to economic recovery" and "investing in sustainability."

North America

In the United States, TIME is recommending the hip West Coast centers of Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, the Florida coastal cool of Miami, and Michigan's "Comeback City" Detroit. The winter skiing destination Park City, Utah, also gets a nod.

In Canada, Ontario capital Toronto and the little surfing town of Tofino, British Columbia, are the picks, and further north again, Illuissat, on Greenland's mainland, opens onto Disko Bay, the "Grand Canyon of the Arctic Circle."

The ever-popular beach destinations of Jamaica and Mexico's Riviera Nayarit also make the 2022 list.

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South America

The city of Salta, in Argentina's mountainous northwest, and the village of El Chaltén, in the country's Los Glaciares National Park, caught TIME's eye this year.

Chile's Rapa Nui -- better known as Easter Island -- and Ecuador's Galápagos Islands are two volcanic wonders to have made the list.

The buzzing metropolises of Bogotá, Colombia, and São Paulo, Brazil, are two more of TIME's urban recommendations.

Europe

In Britain, the bucolic charms of the English county of Devon and the town of Portree, on the Scottish Isle of Skye, get the thumbs up this year.

The Western European cities of Marseilles (France), Copenhagen (Denmark), Skellefteå (Sweden) and València (Spain) all receive a nod.

Then there's the Italian region of Calabria, the ancient Greek city of Thessaloniki, the Portuguese region of Alentejo and the archipelago of Madeira.

The little Czech ski resort of Dolni Morava and the Lithuanian fortress city of Kaunas make the list, as does the historic splendor of Turkish capital Istanbul.

Asia-Pacific

India's Kerala and Ahmedabad are among the Asian recommendations, as are the Japanese islands of Setouchi and Kyushu.

The South Korean capital of Seoul is a top tip, as is the Indonesian province of Bali and the central Philippines island of Boracay.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the port city of Fremantle both get nods, as does New Zealand's Queenstown, a hub for adventure sports on South Island.

Finally, Bhutan's Trans-Bhutan Trail and the historic Silk Roads of Uzbekistan are some of the less traveled ground in this year's picks.

Middle East

Qatar and its capital Doha have everyone's attention this year, due to hosting the 2022 World Cup this December, while the emerging adventure ports destination of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates also made the cut.

Africa

The Kenyan capital of Nairobi and the Rwandan capital of Kigali are TIME's urban picks from Africa. South Africa's Franschhoek, known for its wineries, and Zambia's Lower Zambezi National Park are also recommended.

Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park is the final selection from the continent.

The great beyond

For the most intrepid of travelers, TIME's 2022 picks also include the Arctic polar region and the International Space Station, which just makes the list criteria by being in low Earth orbit.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 13 July 2022 11:32

Monsoon travel tips

If you are not well-prepared for the upcoming monsoon season, then it could affect your overall experience abroad. Here's a curated a list of travel tips, do’s and don’ts for the monsoon travel for our Globe Aware volunteers.


Monsoon travel tips you must remember

1 Be Prepared

A rainy-day trip for some means looking out the car window and imagining themselves in an emotional Bollywood scene, and for some it’s the petrichor, must-inhale-the-vibe kind. The bottomline is, it is fun. Everything around you looks fresh and vibrant, you witness nature refresh itself and you in the process.

The sky may be overcast, the sound of distant thunder coming at regular intervals, and you are looking forward to reaching the destination of your choice. It's a different kind of fun travelling during the monsoon season.

But, if you are not well-prepared for the season, this could easily be one of the worst experiences as well. We don’t want you to go through that so we have curated a list of travel tips, do’s and don’ts for the monsoon travel.

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2 Check the weather forecast

Probably the most important thing in the list, the weather forecast. Always check the weather forecast for the day and the following day, depending on the nature of your trip. If the forecast says extreme weather conditions like heavy rainfall, hailstones, or storms, it’s best to stay put. Keep in mind, no destination is worth taking this kind of risk. If you are travelling to the hills, it is imperative that you check the weather forecast first, as there might be chances of landslides and cloudbursts in hilly areas.

3 First-aid and insect repellants

The weather has cleared and you can see that it’s the perfect time to pitch a tent, make sure that you have packed insect repellants. Monsoon is when a lot of pesky bugs come out, especially mosquitoes and leeches (depending on where you are). Also, make sure you have your first-aid kit fully stocked for any emergencies like cuts and scrapes. You do not want infection when you are out and about. Always carry ONLY physician-prescribed medicines.

4 Say No to street-food

It’s best to keep away from street-food during the monsoon season. There is a high chance of contaminated water during this season, and that could land you in some serious trouble. Avoid eating uncovered food, we have talked about unwanted insects coming out in large numbers during this season. If you are out hiking or camping, make sure you drink ONLY boiled or purified water. Think portable purifiers!

5 Pick the right footwear

We cannot stress enough on the importance of proper footwear for any occasion. Since we are talking about monsoon, two things to keep in mind: waterproof shoes with good grip and sturdy sandals. Both are very important for the season. Things can get slippery very soon on a rainy day and you want to have reliable waterproof shoes with a good grip. Of course, sturdy sandals over flipflops any day. For walking short distances, sturdy sandals are good and they will have better support than a flip flop and will dry faster too.

6 Synthetic over cottonwear

Nothing worse than having to pack wet clothes that will not only add to the weight of the bag, but also is a stinky business. Nobody likes the smell of a damp cloth. Synthetic clothes are a good choice for they are lighter in weight and are quick-drying too.

7 Waterproof everything

Yes, you need to waterproof everything. From your luggage to backpack to your devices, everything needs to have a waterproof cover. If you can’t find a waterproof cover for your bags, make sure you at least waterproof your belongings. Zip-lock bags, normal polybags or special waterproof pouches are easily available for your belongings.

8 Avoid stepping out during the rush hour

It’s the monsoon season and you don’t know when it will start to rain; to be on the safer side, avoid stepping out during the peak rush hour. There is nothing fun about being stuck in traffic for a long time when it is raining outside. Also, when it rains, especially in cities and big towns, traffic will come to a standstill because of waterlogging problems. The normal traffic time will get extended and you do not want to be stuck in traffic when that happens.

9 Raincoat is an essential item

We prefer raincoats over umbrellas just for the fact that it’s travel we are talking about and luggage space is always limited. A raincoat will not take a lot of space, it is super light, can be folded easily and tucked into any kind of space. Whereas, an umbrella, no matter how dry it can keep you, is a bit of a hassle to carry around. Though there are umbrellas that can be folded and tucked inside your bag easily, they will still not fully protect you and your backpack (if you are carrying one) like a raincoat will.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

Sometimes cancellations and delays are unavoidable, even for our seasoned Globe Aware volunteers. Here are ten great trips to help ease the frustration of air travel these days.


10 TRAVEL TIPS TO DEAL WITH FLIGHT DELAYS OR CANCELLATIONS

By SAM CHUI
JULY 11, 2022

I recently had 2 delays out of 3 flights taken on domestic U.S. trips. With a shortage of staff at airports and a sharp rebound in demand for air travel, I think no traveler can escape from flight disruption.

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Let's take a look at some stats on airport delays and airline cancellations:

Airports with most cancellations in Europe

  1. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport: 14,200 flights
  2. Frankfurt Airport: 8,600 flights
  3. London Heathrow: 8,200 flights
  4. London Gatwick: 6,800 flights
  5. Munich Airport: 6,400 flights
    *Flight cancellations between 1st April and 29th June

UK Flight Cancellations

  • Air France/KLM: 2,135 scheduled departures, 113 cancellations (5.3%)
  • EasyJet: 15,601 scheduled departures, 738 cancellations (4.7%)
  • British Airways: 11,590 scheduled departures, 419 cancellations (3.6%)
  • Lufthansa: 1,080 scheduled departures, 38 cancellations (3.5%)
  • Ryanair: 12,105 scheduled departures, 32 cancellations (0.3%)

Airline Delay and Cancellations in the US

US Flights Stats June 8-July 7:

  • Scheduled Flights: 782,267
  • Cancelled Flights: 19,640 (2.5%)
  • Delayed Flights: 179,468 (22.9%)

Cancellation and delay stats for the U.S. airlines (mainline flights)

  1. American Airlines: 93,040 scheduled flights, 4,358 cancelled (4.68%), 26,105 delayed (28%)
  2. Delta Air Lines: 86,689 scheduled flights, 2,678 cancelled (3%), 17,508 delayed (20%)
  3. United Airlines: 68,794 scheduled flights, 1,863 cancelled (2.7%), 15,404 delayed (22%)
  4. Southwest Airlines: 115,833 scheduled flights, 1,058 cancelled (0.91%), 33,615 delayed (29%)

Additional Info

  • Source SAM CHUI
Wednesday, 06 July 2022 09:02

Seven best things to see in Cusco

Cusco is a city in southeastern Peru, with great history and culture and is often called the “historic capital” of the country. Find out what beautiful sights our Globe Aware volunteers will have the chance to see on their volunteer vacation in and around this South American city.


Cusco highlights - 7 best things to see

July 4, 2022
Breaking Travel News

Cusco is a city in southeastern Peru, with great history and culture. It’s often called the “historic capital” of the country, as it was the capital of the Inca Empire, until the Spanish conquest. The best Cusco hotels are even built on colonial houses, experiencing a modern and classic colonial fusion.

The vast history and culture of the city and its proximity to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu have made Cusco one of the most visited cities in Peru. The Inca architecture is so precise and resistant that it has survived even major earthquakes, such as the one in 1950 that damaged and even toppled several of the colonial buildings. There are plenty of activities, and many places in and around the city to visit.

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1. Plaza de Armas
The historic center of Cusco, the Plaza de Armas, is a strategic place to start visiting Cusco. The best Cusco hotels are in the surroundings, as well as many other historic places in the vicinity. You can visit the church, and it’s especially recommended to have a drink in the bars or restaurants located in the square.

2. The Twelve-Angled Stone
Although a visit to a stone may seem irrelevant, this rock is a representation of the precision of Inca architecture. It’s considered an archaeological artifact and of national heritage. Inca architecture is so resistant to the passage of time and natural disasters thanks to structures like this one, as the twelve angles of the stone fit precisely into each of the stones around it. It is currently located on one of the walls of the archbishop’s palace.

3. Casa Concha Museum
Also known as the Machu Picchu Museum, while this museum is not well known, it holds a collection of over three hundred pieces and artifacts that were returned by Yale University, a dynamic exhibit with photos from National Geographic, an Inca house, interactive videos, and even an interactive map of Machu Picchu. Most of the Inca artifacts found in archeological excavations are located at this museum.

4. ChocoMuseo
If you are looking to learn about cocoa and chocolate, there is no better place. In addition to visiting the museum about the history of chocolate and the plantations, there are activities to make your own chocolate, cooking classes, tours to the chocolate plantations, workshops, and a store with a great variety of chocolates to try. Definitely a very different museum from what we are used to.

5. Sacred Valley
Beginning the visit to the surroundings of Cusco, the best place to start is the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Now part of the Cusco region, this valley is full of small towns like Chinchero, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, also Maras with its more than three thousand white basins where salt is extracted by evaporation, and Moray, with circular agricultural terraces.

6. Machu Picchu
Definitely, the best place to admire the grandeur of the Inca empire. Hidden among green mountains and built of huge blocks of stone, it’s much better appreciated from above to really see “the whole picture”. Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and chosen as one of the New 7 Wonders of the Modern World. Its architecture is a classic Inca style, mainly made of polished dry-stone walls.

7. Rainbow Mountain
Its official name is Vinicunca, famous for its unique coloring. The mixture of quartz, sand, clay, phyllites, calcium, iron and other minerals are arranged in different layers that make the mountain look different colors at different angles. Red, yellow, green, orange, and even some shades of blue are some of the colors that can be perceived. It’s recommended to visit in late summer when the weather is drier, and the colors are more vivid.

Additional Info

  • Source Breaking Travel News

Just because COVID-19 testing is no longer required for travelers bound for the U.S., that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack a few COVID-19 tests. There are still plenty of good reasons to for our Globe Aware volunteers, find out what they are!


 

Why I’m still traveling with COVID-19 tests

Kyle Olsen
The Points Guy

After two years, the COVID-19 testing requirement for travel to the U.S. has finally been dropped, which means there’s one less hurdle for international travelers. However, if you’re like me, you still have several unused eMed proctored tests. Is it time to stash them in the back of the closet?

That’s not what I’m doing. Here’s why:

There’s still a risk of getting COVID-19

One of the most obvious reasons I still travel with COVID-19 tests is because the pandemic is far from over. In the U.S., we’re still averaging around 100,000 cases per day.

Travelers need to be prepared, which is why I’m thinking ahead. I certainly hope to never catch COVID-19 on a trip, but it could happen. Smart travelers need to be ready for that very real possibility. If I test positive, I will want to test myself regularly until I’m once again testing negative. Because of that, I need to carry at least three or four COVID-19 tests.

When I travel, I take at least one eMed proctored test and my NHS Trace & Test box, which was given to me for free during my last trip to London. The NHS box is portable, at about six inches long, and it includes about half a dozen tests.

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Some countries still ask for negative COVID-19 test results

As you know, each country has specific COVID-19 requirements. COVID-19 testing requirements still remain in place throughout the world, particularly for unvaccinated travelers. Even if you plan to travel to a country that doesn’t have a COVID-19 testing requirement, your plans could change. With a proctored test on hand, you have additional flexibility to travel as you please.

You definitely don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you can’t board a plane because you don’t have a negative COVID-19 test result on hand.

The requirement could come back at any point

Perhaps the most obvious reason to travel with a COVID-19 proctored test is that the testing requirement could come back at any time without significant advance notice — even though it might be unlikely. And there’s a chance that if the testing requirement returns, there would be a shortage of COVID-19 proctored tests.

As a result, when my fellow U.S.-bound travelers scurry to get tested, I’ll be ready to go.

Bottom line

Just because COVID-19 testing is no longer required for travelers bound for the U.S., that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack a few COVID-19 tests. I wouldn’t go out and buy new proctored tests today. However, if you still have some unused tests, there’s no harm in throwing one into your backpack before you leave for the airport.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

Recently South Africa's government made the decision to drop all of the country’s remaining pandemic-era restrictions. For Globe Aware volunteers, the primary change is the removal of vaccination and testing requirements for entry into South Africa, but other revisions include the lifting of the nation’s indoor mask mandates and the limits on gathering sizes, and the elimination of COVID-19 border checks.


 

South Africa Drops All Remaining COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

LAURIE BARATTI
JUNE 23, 2022
Travel Pulse

On Wednesday evening, South Africa’s government made the decision to drop all of the country’s remaining pandemic-era restrictions, after the Presidential Coordinating Council and Cabinet determined that they’d served their purpose and were no longer needed.

For travelers, the primary change is the removal of vaccination and testing requirements for entry into South Africa, but other revisions include the lifting of the nation’s indoor mask mandates and the limits on gathering sizes, and the elimination of COVID-19 border checks.

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“Today is a very historic day as we have reached a turning point since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the world and in the country,” Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla said today in an official statement. His repeal of the last three COVID-era regulations marks the end of a 26-month-long period defined by state-led management of the global pandemic.

Welcoming the news on behalf of South African Tourism, the national tourism agency’s Acting CEO Themba Khumalo said, “It’s time to step into a brave new world.” In its reaction statement, the destination marketing organization called the move “a step in the right direction” and presaged that it will, “significantly benefit the entire tourism sector value chain.”

“As custodians of tourism, we believe that the end of the restrictions is the tonic the sector needs to accelerate the rebound to pre-pandemic tourist arrival numbers and profitability levels,” South African Tourism said in a statement.

Two years prior to the pandemic’s onset, the travel and tourism sector generated 1.5 million jobs and contributed R425.8 billion (US$26.62 billion) to the nation’s economy, representing 8.6 percent of the country’s total economic activity. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council’s 2018 annual review, that made South Africa's the largest tourism economy in the entire African continent.

Per the country’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, tourism has already been identified as a critical factor when it comes to rebooting the nation’s economy. The abolition of these final restrictions effectively gives South African Tourism the green light to “go full steam” in implementing measures aimed at regaining the sector’s lost ground.

It also means that constraints placed on live social events, business meetings, conferences, trade shows and exhibitions for the past two-plus years will finally be a thing of the past, making way for the return of delegates, exhibitors and business travelers from around the globe, helping to kickstart activity across a variety of other industries.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse
Wednesday, 29 June 2022 07:23

Traveling tips for July Fourth

Nearly 48 million Americans are planning to travel this Independence Day weekend and setting expectations now and planning ahead can help ease the blow of spending more time and money on the trip. Here are five things Globe Aware volunteers should know before heading to the airport for the Fourth of July and beyond.


 

Traveling for July Fourth? Here are 5 things to know before flying, driving this weekend.

Eve Chen
USA TODAY
June 28, 2022

Flight cancellations, high gas prices and inflation have already soured countless vacations this summer.

With no quick fixes in sight and nearly 48 million Americans planning to travel at least 50 miles from home this Independence Day weekend, according to AAA, the holiday weekend could feel extra long in more ways than one. Setting expectations now and planning ahead can help ease the blow of spending more time and money on the trip than planned months ago.

Here are five things travelers should know before heading to the airport or hitting the road for the Fourth of July and beyond.

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1. Arrive at the airport even earlier than usual

The Transportation Security Administration and airlines recommend passengers arrive at airports at least two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights on a regular basis.

Even more time is needed to navigate airports and get through security around holidays, but that's especially true now that "revenge travelers" are finally taking trips they put off during the pandemic. TSA screened 2.45 million travelers last Friday. That's the most for any day since February 2020, before COVID-19 shut leisure travel down.

2. Know rights and benefits when flights are canceled or delayed

Travelers should check their flight status well before leaving for the airport. If their flight is canceled for any reason or "significantly delayed" and they choose not to take a different flight, airline customers are entitled to full refunds per Department of Transportation guidelines.

Some airlines may offer travelers who stick with them meal vouchers or hotel stays, depending on the circumstances of the disruption, but they're not required to refund incidental expenses.

Tickets purchased with a credit card may have some trip protection benefits built-in. Travelers should check with their credit card companies instead of assuming they have to eat all the costs out of pocket.

Travel insurance also covers extra expenses due to cancellations and unexpected delays, but it may be too late to purchase last-minute coverage for this weekend.

3. Pack essentials in carry-on luggage

When flights are delayed or luggage gets lost, the last thing travelers need is to be without necessities like medication or even diapers and phone chargers. Pack essentials in carry-on bags in case waits at the airport go longer than planned.

4. Plan to spend more money, especially on gas

The price of gasoline may be ticking down, but it's still high. Tuesday's national average was $4.88 per gallon of regular unleaded, according to AAA. That's less than the $4.97 average a week earlier but significantly more than drivers paid over Memorial Day weekend, when the national average was $4.60.

Just over 50% of respondents surveyed by the travel planning site The Vacationer say gas prices will affect their July Fourth travel plans. And gas prices aren't the only thing going up. Inflation is touching just about everything in travel and elsewhere.

5. Hit the road early

Roads will be busiest Thursday and Friday afternoon and evening, as well as Saturday afternoon, according to transportation analysis provider INRIX and AAA.

Traffic is expected to be light all day Sunday and Monday. Travelers who can't wait until then should aim to drive during off peak hours:

  • Thursday: Before 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m.
  • Friday: Before 10 a.m. or after 9 p.m.
  • Saturday: Before noon or after 7 p.m.

Additional Info

  • Source USAToday

The Indian government is considering doing away with the Air Suvidha portal as travel restrictions ease worldwide, a change that will make entry easier for visitors, including Globe Aware volunteers. The Health Ministry has stated they will review the possible changes in August.


COVID-19: India considers dropping Air Suvidha as global travel restrictions ease

Health Ministry to review programme in August

Khaleej Times
June 19, 2022

The Indian government is considering doing away with the Air Suvidha portal as travel restrictions ease worldwide.

"We have written to the Health Ministry seeking removal of Air Suvidha requirements given that it could add to the convenience of flying as international traffic grows. But the Health Ministry has replied saying they will review the programme in August and decide on this," a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official told The Indian Express.

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However, the decision may be at least two months away as the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare monitors the international Covid-19 numbers.

Introduced in August 2020, the Air Suvidha portal mandates travellers from overseas to register before arriving at an Indian airport. This allows the government to determine a passenger's vaccination status and if they are arriving from a high-risk location.

However, passengers have complained that the portal was down several times and subsequently being denied boarding at foreign airports.

Additional Info

  • Source Khaleej Times

Thailand is lifting a pre-arrival registration requirement for foreign visitors and it's current outdoor mask mandate would be dropped as of July 1 except in crowded venues. Globe Aware volunteers should still pack masks for their volunteer vacation in case of changes in regulations.


Thailand drops registration for visitors, outdoor mask rule

Thailand is lifting a pre-arrival registration requirement for foreign visitors that was seen as onerous and a drag on the recovery for a tourism industry battered by the coronavirus pandemic

By The Associated Press
June 17, 2022

BANGKOK -- Thailand is lifting a pre-arrival registration requirement for foreign visitors that was seen as onerous and a drag on the recovery for its ailing tourism industry.

The government's COVID-19 center also said Friday that an outdoor mask mandate would be dropped as of July 1 except in crowded venues. The mask mandate was not controversial in Thailand and generally obeyed.

Thailand began gradually easing entry requirements late last year. But through April, it still required even fully vaccinated travelers to undergo RT-PCR tests upon arrival and stay in a government-approved hotel for one night until the results were known.

Registering for the “Thailand Pass” required online copies of vaccination documents, insurance policies and other documents to be submitted, after which visitors would receive a QR code for use during travel. The requirement had already been dropped for Thais and will be dropped for foreign visitors on July 1.

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The registration process — beset at times by delays and glitches — was seen as discouraging tourists to Thailand, where the lucrative tourism sector was battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Arriving foreigners must still show proof they have been vaccinated or provide negative COVID-19 test results, the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration announced. But a requirement to hold an insurance policy has been dropped.

Many countries in Southeast Asia count on tourism as an important source of revenue, and in the past few months have eased their entry requirements.

Thai health officials said Friday 1,967 new cases and 19 deaths related to COVID-19 were confirmed in the previous 24 hours. The country has had more than 4.4 million cases and 30,422 fatalities since the pandemic began.

Additional Info

  • Source AP

Costa Rica has long been the region’s most popular destination for Globe Aware volunteers! Our programs there showcase the land's abundant biodiversity, vast rainforests and emphasizes sustainability, making it the perfect volunteer vacation to post-pandemic.


Why everyone is travelling to Costa Rica right now

You’re not the only one whose feed has been swamped with rainforest snaps in recent months

By Anna Prendergast
Friday 10 June 2022
Time Out England

Strung between Nicaragua and Panama like a pendant on Central America’s isthmus chain of countries, Costa Rica has long been the region’s most popular destination for travellers from the USA. But if you’ve noticed your Instagram feed increasingly full of friends geo-tagging Costa Rica and returning home with tales of its tropical climate, endless coastlines, extraordinary encounters with wildlife and epic adventures, you’re not alone. With its abundant biodiversity, vast protected areas and emphasis on education as a damage prevention tool, it’s not just a pioneer of ecotourism but an industry leader. Here’s why it’s become the perfect antidote to pandemic-induced ennui.

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1. It’s doing its bit for the planet
Costa Rica works hard to protect its environment: not least because it’s why so many bird-watchers, adventure-seekers and whale-spotters visit in the first place. In 2019, the country launched plans to decarbonise its economy (with tourism alone representing 13.5 percent of GDP) by 2050. In 2021, the protected marine reserve of Cocos Island National Park grew 27 times in size. And in 2022, the suburb of Curridabat gave citizenship to bees, trees and plants. Around 98 percent of Costa Rica’s energy has come from renewable sources since 2014, and its well-rounded approach to protecting the environment has attracted tourists who want to have a positive impact as well as a positive experience.

2. We’re craving a sense of adventure
Getting out of your comfort zone doesn’t have to mean taking the longest zip line in Latin America (although you can, at Monteverde’s Aventura Canopy Tour). Post-pandemic, our comfort zones shrunk to the size of our living rooms – so it could just involve talking to a stranger or practising your Spanish. With many dirt tracks and some tricky terrain, even driving a car can feel like an adventure here, but there’s also a phenomenal range of landscapes that offer up opportunities for hiking active volcanoes in La Fortuna (we recommend the Arenal 1968 Trail), surfing the country’s best breaks in Santa Teresa (beginners should head to Playa Hermosa) and scuba diving on the Caribbean coast (join Diving with a Purpose for a truly eye-opening underwater experience).

3. You can get stuck in with locals
It’s increasingly clear how much we can learn from indigenous cultures and communities that live in harmony with the land, and travel itineraries reflect that growing curiosity. From Cielo Lodge’s craft workshops, where you can learn to make a traditional Boruca mask, to restaurant Sikwa’s kitchen, which sources its ingredients from Bribri farmers, there are plenty of ways to connect with native communities. Montana Tours offers an immersive day out in a Maleku village, where you can watch dance performances and learn about medicinal plants, while hotel Olas Verdes’s Pack for a Purpose programme invites guests to bring much-needed school supplies.

4. It’s made for longer, slower trips
The most intuitive way to travel in 2022 is longer, slower, smarter. Post-Covid, people are prioritising authentic experiences over instant gratification: from beach clean-ups with the local community in Puerto Viejo to volunteering on a permaculture farm in Puntarenas, many experiences in Costa Rica allow you to aid conservation, connect with nature and meet locals lifting up their community. Restrictions on our movement during the pandemic has also inspired ‘revenge travel’, whereby we want to make the most of our annual leave and the ability to work remotely. Time your trip so that you can minimise flights – British Airways operates direct flights between November and May – and make the most of public transport when you arrive.

5. Remote working is the new normal
Ever wanted to run your business from the beach? Last year, Costa Rica launched a new digital nomad visa that allows remote workers, business owners and freelancers to spend longer in the country than a standard tourist visa. The longer a traveller stays in one place, the better their spending is distributed throughout the community. Hostel-hotel hybrids such as Selina, which has six locations in Costa Rica, offer networking nights, co-working spaces and social events for digital nomads. Meanwhile, a handful of new spaces that are angled towards remote workers who want a residential community are springing up, such as Santa Teresa’s Yoko Village – launching next year – which aims to help inspire balance between productivity and wellbeing.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Time Out

Globe Aware volunteers should know that the Biden administration has lifted its requirement that international air travelers to the U.S. take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights. The CDC may reevaluate the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and that it could be reinstated if a troubling new variant emerges.


US lifts COVID-19 test requirement for international travel

By ZEKE MILLER
AP
JUNE 10 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is lifting its requirement that international air travelers to the U.S. take a COVID-19 test within a day before boarding their flights, easing one of the last remaining government mandates meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A senior administration official said Friday that the mandate will expire Sunday at 12:01 a.m. EDT, adding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined it is no longer necessary.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to preview the formal announcement, said that the agency would reevaluate the need for the testing requirement every 90 days and that it could be reinstated if a troubling new variant emerges.

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The Biden administration put in place the testing requirement last year, as it has moved away from restrictions that banned nonessential travel from several dozen countries — most of Europe, China, Brazil, South Africa, India and Iran — and instead focus on classifying individuals by the risk they pose to others. It was coupled with a requirement that foreign, non-immigrant adults traveling to the United States need to be fully vaccinated, with only limited exceptions.

In November, as the highly transmissible omicron variant swept the world, the Biden administration toughened the requirement and required all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to test within a day of travel to the U.S.

Airline and tourism groups have been pressing the administration for months to eliminate the testing requirement, saying it discourages people from booking international trips because they could be stranded overseas if they contract the virus on their trip.

Roger Dow, president of the U.S. Travel Association, called lifting the testing rule “another huge step forward for the recovery of inbound air travel and the return of international travel to the United States.”

While domestic U.S. travel has returned nearly to pre-pandemic levels, international travel — which is very lucrative for the airlines — has continued to lag. In May, U.S. international air travel remained 24% below 2019 levels, with declines among both U.S. and foreign citizens, according to trade group Airlines for America.

Many other countries have lifted their testing requirements for fully vaccinated and boosted travelers in a bid to increase tourism.

In February, travel groups argued that the testing requirement was obsolete because of the high number of omicron cases already in every state, higher vaccination rates, and new treatments for the virus.

“I’m glad CDC suspended the burdensome coronavirus testing requirement for international travelers, and I’ll continue to do all I can to support the strong recovery of our hospitality industry,” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., said in a statement.

The requirement for a negative COVID-19 test before flying to the U.S. dates to January 2021. It is the most visible remaining U.S. travel restriction of the pandemic era.

In April, a federal judge in Florida struck down a requirement that passengers wear masks on planes and public transportation, saying that the CDC had exceeded its authority. The Biden administration is appealing that ruling, saying it aims to protect the CDC’s ability to respond to future health emergencies.

Despite ending the testing requirement, the CDC will continue to recommend COVID-19 testing prior to air travel of any kind as a safety precaution, according to the senior administration official.

Travelers found creative ways to avoid the rule. This spring, several Canadian teams in the National Hockey League flew to cities near the border, then took buses into the U.S. to avoid the risk of losing players who tested positive.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Travel industry officials have recently pressed the Biden administration to end its requirements that vaccinated international travelers take a coronavirus test before flying to the United States. Currently, all travelers, including Globe Aware volunteers, need to fulfill this requirement when returning to the states from their volunteer vacation.


 

US airlines, travel industry push White House to end pre-travel testing

Gregory Wallace and Pete Muntean
CNN
May 31, 2022

(CNN) — White House officials met Tuesday with travel industry officials, who pressed the Biden administration to end its requirements that vaccinated international travelers take a coronavirus test before flying to the United States.

Airlines for America, representing major US air carriers, and the US Travel Association, representing the broad travel and tourism industry, said they argued the requirement does not match the current threat from Covid-19.

They also say the requirement is harming the US economy.

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"Quite frankly, the only impact the pre-departure testing requirement is having is a chilling effect on an already fragile economy here in the U.S.," Airlines for America chief Nick Calio said in a statement after the meeting.

Roger Dow of the US Travel Association said in a separate statement that while restrictions on many other businesses have been lifted, "the travel industry remains disproportionately harmed by this requirement."

"Other countries with whom we directly compete for global travelers have removed their pre-departure testing requirements and reopened their tourism economies, putting the U.S. at a serious competitive disadvantage for export dollars," Dow said.

Airlines for America said its members -- including American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines -- believe lifting the requirements would lead more foreigners to visit the US.

The trade association says that in mid-May, domestic travel came within 7 percentage points of pre-pandemic levels, but international travel lagged at 14% below normal.

The industry has criticized the policy as out of date for months.

Some medical experts have also questioned the policy's utility.

Testing international arrivals doesn't make much sense to Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

"I've been bemused about that for a long time because we've got plenty of Covid here! It's not as though we're trying to keep Covid out," Schaffner told CNN Travel in March. "It's here already."

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 08 June 2022 11:43

Summer travel costs rising

Worried about rising flight prices this summer? Globe Aware volunteers can manage their budget and expectations on summer travel with these helpful tips!


 

What to know about summer travel with rising costs

Manage your budget and expectations on summer travel.

By Kelly Mccarthy
June 01, 2022, 9:09 AM
ABC News

With more travelers ready to take to the skies this season, the Transportation Security Administration predicts a summer of record-breaking proportions.

According to the agency, it could screen more than 3 million people in a day with the summer surge demand.

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Airfare, ticket prices soar

Scott Keyes, who dedicates his life to helping travelers find cheap flights with his brand, Scott's Cheap Flights, told "Good Morning America" that "It's not just your imagination -- summer flights right now are indeed extraordinarily expensive."

His suggestion? Book sooner than later.

"Don't wait to book your flights until the very last minute, because last-minute flights are generally going to get more expensive, not less expensive," he said.

One family said their recent cross-country trip to California was astronomical compared to years past.

"A flight [to] the San Francisco for us would typically be about $1,600. And it was about $2,800," Karen Brennan told "Good Morning America."

Brennan said she saved and paid for the flights, "but then all the hotels and everything else that would normally be in our usual budget just added into it."

According to experts, the July 4 holiday is the most expensive summer weekend to fly with domestic airfares averaging $412.

When to Find Cheaper Summer Deals

Waiting until the end of summer can save travelers.Hayley Berg, an economist for the flight savings and booking app Hopper, told "GMA."

"If you're willing to wait until late August to take your summer vacation. You can save as much as $118 off of domestic airfare and more than $100 off a three-night hotel stay," she said.

Destinations That Don't Break the Bank

Berg also said that some of the most expensive stays include Seattle, San Diego and Portland. But some less expensive places include Houston, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

Other Money Saving Tips

For families, try booking just one ticket at a time, rather than all together, Keyes suggested .

"A few months ago, we had a flight from Portland to New York, and we were searching for four tickets. And those tickets came back at $187 per person," Keyes said. "When I reduced it down to one ticket, all of a sudden the price dropped to $113 per person."

Keyes said what's happening is "the airline will only sell you four tickets if they are in the same -- 'fare bucket' -- so maybe they only had three tickets available at that $113 rate. And so by searching for four tickets, I got bumped up to $187 rate."

Another savings option is to try searching for one-way ticket fares. While one airline may have a good offer for your departure, another airline could have a good option for the return flight. Once you book, travelers can periodically go back and check the flight's current price, so if it drops you can call the airline and ask to get a credit.

Additional Info

  • Source ABC World News Tonight
Thursday, 02 June 2022 11:28

Free COVID rapid tests are available

Globe Aware volunteers can stock up on COVID-19 test kits. This past May, the Biden administration announced that it will provide eight more home test kits free to any U.S. household that wants them.


 

More free COVID rapid tests are available. Here’s how to get yours

BY JON HEALEY
MAY 17, 2022
LA TIMES


Want to stock up on COVID-19 test kits? The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it will provide eight more home test kits free to any U.S. household that wants them.

The offer, like the one the administration made in January, comes with no strings attached. You can order the kits online or by phone, and the kits will be delivered to any address in the United States, in U.S. territories, on U.S. military bases and at diplomatic installations.

The only restriction is that each household is limited to eight tests this go-around, on top of up to eight mailed previously.

Although documented COVID cases remain far below the peak they hit in January, they have been rising nationally and in Los Angeles County, along with hospitalizations. The country recently recorded its 1 millionth death from a pandemic that has lingered for more than two years.

That’s why L.A. County health officials are urging residents to don masks indoors again and why the administration is urging people to continue testing themselves. Response to the administration’s previous offer of free kits wasn’t exactly overwhelming, though — according to the White House, more than 70 million households ordered kits online, out of about 130 million households across the U.S.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest offer of free test kits.

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How do I order them?
The drill is the same as with the last round of free test kits. The easiest way is to visit COVID.gov/tests, where you can place an order through the U.S. Postal Service. The only information you have to provide is your name and address.

It’s important to specify your apartment or unit number to avoid running afoul of the limit on orders per household. If you do have trouble getting tests because you share a residence with other households, you can call the postal service at (800) 275-8777 or ask for help online.

And if you can’t go online or need the information in a different language, you can call (800) 232-0233 (TTY (888) 720-7489) any day of the week between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Pacific time to get help in more than 150 languages. The Disability Information and Access Line can also assist people with disabilities with their orders; you can reach DIAL by email at DIAL@usaginganddisability.org or by phone at (888) 677-1199 Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time.

The kits will come in two packages with four tests in each. Not only are the tests free, but there is no charge for shipping. The White House says the postal service has delivered most kits within 48 hours of receiving an order.

If you didn’t order tests before, you can still order them now. For answers to frequently asked questions about the free test program, go to covid.gov/tests/faq.

People with health insurance can also be reimbursed for up to eight tests per month — and in some cases obtain the tests with no out-of-pocket costs. Check with your insurer to find out whether any local pharmacies are offering tests with no up-front cost and if not, how to submit a claim for reimbursement.

What kind of tests are they?
The kits contain antigen tests, which look to see whether a sample taken from your nostrils contains a protein that binds to the coronavirus’ RNA. They deliver results quickly and at low cost — in stores, boxes of two tests cost between $16 and $24 — but the more expensive molecular tests can detect lower amounts of the coronavirus in your system.

Antigen tests have proven to be as good as molecular tests at avoiding false positive results. And according to the CDC, these tests are also just as good when it comes to detecting COVID-19 in someone who is showing symptoms of the disease, such as a cough, a fever and a sore throat.

Where the tests fall short, the CDC warns, is with people who have the virus but show no symptoms, especially if they’re in the early stages of infection and may not yet have enough of a viral load to infect others. The agency recommends that people perform a second antigen test a few days after the first one, which is why the kits are sold as two-packs.

The tests don’t last forever; the kits come with expiration dates printed on the box. But the postal service noted that the CareStart branded tests distributed earlier this year have been approved for three additional months past their printed expiration dates by the Food and Drug Administration.

When should I take a test?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list five possible triggers for taking a COVID test:

  • If you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If you know or suspect you’ve had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 (in which case you should test yourself five days afterward).
  • If your school, workplace or other group setting is testing to screen for infections.
  • Before and after you travel.
  • When you’re asked by a healthcare professional or public health official to take a test.

One problem on that first point, though, is that COVID shares a number of symptoms with colds, allergies and the flu. The Mayo Clinic has an online guide to help you sort among all three. The Times offered this rundown of the differences between allergy and COVID symptoms. And here is the CDC’s guide to distinguishing between COVID and the flu.

Additional Info

  • Source LA Times
Wednesday, 01 June 2022 11:19

COVID-19 Testing for Travel

COVID-19 testing can make travel safer for our Globe Aware volunteers. Read on strategies to follow before, during, and after your volunteer vacation.


COVID-19 Testing for Travel: If, When, Where, and How

COVID-19 testing can make travel safer — but you need to do it right. Here, experts weigh in on strategies to follow before, during, and after a trip.

By Salma Abdelnour Gilman
Everyday Health
May 27, 2022

Test before you leave home, experts say — as close to the date of your departure as possible.

It’s the third summer of the pandemic, and by now we know one thing: If you're traveling, you may need to ponder if, when, where, and how to get a test for COVID-19.

If you're an American flying to another country, you will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test (or documentation of recent recovery from COVID-19) before you can board a plane back to the United States.

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Plus you might need or want to get tested for COVID-19 once or multiple times while you’re away. This will depend on where you’re going, what you’re doing, whom you’ll be spending time with, and how you feel day to day.

Generally speaking, the higher the COVID-19 rates at your destination, the more likely testing will be part of your travel experience. With infections once again on the rise in many states and other countries, it’s important to stay informed — and testing-ready.

“A lot of things are changing very quickly,” says David Banach, MD, MPH, a hospital epidemiologist at UConn Health in Farmington, Connecticut. “I think the key is to be alert to what’s happening right before you travel.”

Here, doctors and other expert sources offer advice on how and when to test, and how to keep yourself and those around you safe no matter where you travel.

1. Well Before You Leave Home, Get Up to Speed on Your Destination
Especially for international travel, you’ll want to do your research to learn the latest COVID-19 entry regulations and figure out a strategy.

Many countries, such as England and Mexico, currently have no COVID-related entry rules in effect, either involving testing or vaccination.

But if you plan to travel to France from the United States and are unvaccinated, you'll need to show proof of either a negative PCR test taken less than 72 hours before departure or a negative antigen (rapid) test administered less than 48 hours prior to your flight.

The only way to get out of this testing requirement is to show documentation of recent recovery from COVID-19 or of a medical exemption from vaccination.

2. Rules or No Rules, Consider Testing Before You Travel
Regardless of the regulations at your destination, “Generally a cautious approach would be to test before traveling,” says Dr. Banach.

The CDC advises anyone traveling within the United States or internationally to “consider getting tested as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than three days) before your trip.”

Should you get a PCR test, or is an antigen test or at-home test just as good? “The increased sensitivity of the PCR test provides a higher level of reassurance,” says Banach.

3. Pack At-Home Tests in Case You Start Feeling Sick While You’re Away
Bring a stash of at-home testing kits with you so it’s more convenient to do a quick check during your trip. “When you travel, if you develop any symptoms, you’ll want to have ready access to tests,” says Luis Ostrosky, MD, the chief of infectious diseases with UTHealth Houston and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.

“You should definitely test when you have the slightest symptoms,” he adds. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘I thought it was just allergies.’”

He explains that FDA-authorized at-home test kits are good at detecting COVID-19 in people who have symptoms, such as sore throat or cough. If your at-home test is positive, you’ve got COVID-19.

There is a higher chance of false negatives with at-home kits, meaning your test result tells you that you are not infected when in fact you are. Don’t let a negative result from a single at-home test give you a false sense of security, Dr. Ostrosky emphasizes.

To increase accuracy, “We recommend retesting a couple of times,” he says. That’s why kits generally contain two tests, to be used 24 to 48 hours apart.

4. Find Out Where You Can Get a PCR Test at Your Destination
If you’re experiencing symptoms but test negative on multiple home tests, it’s best to get a PCR test too.

Plus, if you’re feeling perfectly fine but want to be sure you’re infection-free — because you’re planning to spend time with an elderly person at risk of severe COVID-19, for instance — you may want to get a PCR test on top of taking other precautions like masking.

For domestic travelers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site can point you to a testing location near you anywhere in the United States.

If you’re traveling internationally, you might want to do some digging ahead of time. A quick internet search may be all you need to find a PCR testing site, or the staff at your hotel might be able to point you to a local hospital, urgent care center, or other testing location.

Make sure to find out if your insurance will cover the test, or expect to pay out of pocket.

5. If You’re an American Traveling Abroad, Be Prepared to Test Before Boarding Your Flight Home
Anyone flying home to the United States from a different country needs to show a negative test taken no more than one day before departure, or proof of recent recovery from COVID-19; check the CDC site for more info.

In many international destinations, local pharmacies administer antigen tests and provide the documentation you’ll need for the airline. Airports may also offer tests, but factor in time in case you have to wait in line.

As another option, you can use an at-home test linked to telehealth services. With these types of tests, a proctor watches over a video call while you test yourself; you then receive proof of the result via an app.

This is the only type of self-test that meets CDC requirements for reentry to the States, so you might want to pack one in your luggage and download the app before departing on your trip.

Among the most widely used choices are Abbott’s BinaxNOW home tests paired with telehealth services by eMed (note: Everyday Health’s chief health and medical editor, Patrice Harris, MD, FAPA, is eMed’s cofounder and CEO) and Ellume home tests accompanied by video supervision from Azova.

6. Consider Whether You Should Test Again on Arrival Home
Should you test when you get back from your trip? The CDC recommends you do so in certain scenarios, even if you don’t have symptoms (as long as you haven’t had COVID-19 in the past 90 days).

“Get tested after travel if your trip involved situations with greater risk of exposure, such as being in crowded places while not wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator,” the agency advises.

You also want to think about what you’ll be doing once you’re home, and the likelihood that if you’re infected you might spread the virus to other people. “Will you be engaging in group activities? With others at higher risk? There are a lot of factors,” says Banach.

Note that any infection you may have picked up while in transit could spread to others even before virus levels rise high enough for an at-home or rapid test to detect, so plan your first few days at home accordingly.

7. Practice COVID-19 Safety Throughout Your Trip, and After You Get Home
COVID-19 testing won’t keep you from getting COVID. You still need to practice other key safety measures — including staying up-to-date on your vaccines and boosters, masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene — to help keep yourself safe and lower the risk that you’ll infect others.

Even though airlines no longer require masks, wearing one when you’re in the airport and on the plane is still a smart idea, says Banach: “I think masking during travel, particularly air travel, is still important. I encourage people to wear a high-quality mask during travel, to protect yourself and others who will be on the flight with you. Also, [wear a mask] if you’re using another travel modality, like a train or bus.”

Ostrosky adds, “The airflow in airplanes is excellent and HEPA-filtered. The problem is when you’re sitting right next to someone with COVID — the airflow won’t help you. You should be masking, either with a double surgical mask or with an N95 or KN95, and not remove it at all.”

Says Ostrosky. “The best thing to keep yourself safe is to mask in high-density public settings like airports, airplanes, concerts, amusement parks — indoors or outdoors. And it’s definitely preferable to do outdoor dining versus indoor dining.”

Regardless of where you’re going and how often you plan to test, keep this one tip in mind throughout your trip, says Ostrosky: “Mask, mask, and mask.”

Additional Info

  • Source Everyday Health
Thursday, 26 May 2022 11:12

Changes to Cuba Travel Rules

The island of Cuba will allow group travel for educational or professional exchanges. Globe Aware volunteers will be able to spend a volunteer vacation week in Cuba this summer, contact us to learn more.


Travel To Cuba Could Soon Be Easier, Here’s What You Need To Know

By GREG ROBERTSON
Travel Awaits

The Biden administration is taking steps to expand flights into Cuba, including locations other than Havana, as part of an overall plan to support the island nation and its residents.

Travel to and from the island was severely restricted under the previous administration, but the Biden White House is working to reverse those policies.

“The measures today again are practical steps that we are taking to address the humanitarian situation and to respond to the needs of the Cuban people,” a senior administration official told NPR.

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“President Biden is also fulfilling his commitment to the Cuban-American community and their family members in Cuba by announcing measures in four key areas which we plan to implement in the coming weeks,” the official continued.

While the travel moves do not include opening the island to tourism, it will allow group travel for educational or professional exchanges. It also lifts caps on money sent to families in Cuba.

The group travel is part of the people-to-people educational travel category created during the Obama administration, the Miami Herald reported. The category allows Americans to visit Cuba on organized tours and to promote exchanges between the countries.

More changes could be coming to allow for more professional research and meetings, but strictly tourist travel will remain banned for now. Administration officials told the Associated Press that the Treasury Department will audit groups that are organizing travel to Cuba to ensure it is purposeful.

Cuban officials called the moves a step in the right direction, but that they didn’t go far enough.

“This decision in no way modifies the blockade, Cuba’s fraudulent inclusion in the list of countries sponsors of terrorism or most of Trump’s maximum pressure coercive measures that still affect the Cuban people,” wrote Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez on his Twitter account.

“Understanding true dimension of this announcement would require waiting for the publication of implementing regulations,” Rodríguez wrote.

As part of the plan, the U.S. will allow charter flights to Cuban airports outside of Havana. During the Trump administration, flights were restricted to a single airport in Havana.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Awaits

Summer is just around the corner, and Globe Aware volunteers who have been patiently awaiting safe travel since the start of the pandemic are ready to buy flights and head out on their volunteer vacations. Though COVID infection rates have slowed, vaccines are readily available, and many people feel safe traveling again, the pandemic is still having an impact on air traffic.


 

‘Flightmare’ looms for summer, travel expert warns

by: Tori Gaines, Alix Martichoux
Nexstar Media Wire
May 22, 2022

Summer is just around the corner, and travelers who have been patiently awaiting safe travel since the start of the pandemic are ready to buy flights and head out on vacations. Though COVID infection rates have slowed, vaccines are readily available, and many people feel safe traveling again, the pandemic is still having an impact on air traffic.

“While it is great news that travel has fully opened up and families can finally have proper vacations, the combination of increased demand and staff shortages have the potential to cause significant delays and an overall sub-par travel experience,” said Rose Ackerman, the executive editor at Family Destinations Guide.

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Biden says monkeypox cases something to ‘be concerned about’
An increase in demand for air travel combined with staffing shortages could create a perfect storm for a “flightmare” including flight delays or even cancellations.


Family Destinations Guide shared some tips to ease travel concerns amid a potential “flightmare”:

  • Choose flights that depart early in the day. If your flight is canceled last minute, having an earlier flight time increases your chances of being rebooked and arriving at your destination the same day.
  • Plan ahead for delays. Delays are likely at every step from check in to security. You will thank yourself for leaving extra time for long lines.
    Familiarize yourself with your travel insurance policies. If you don’t typically purchase travel insurance, it may benefit you to consider it when traveling in a post-pandemic world.
  • Remember to be patient with airport and airline staffers. Traveling can be a stressful experience for anyone, but being kind towards airline staffers will make the experience easier for everyone.
  • According to the Transportation Safety Authority (TSA), air passenger travel is expected to be more concentrated over peak periods, with volumes that could match — or even exceed — those in previous years for the first time since the pandemic began and travel restrictions were implemented.

Beyond staffing shortages and potential delays, there’s another hurdle for would-be summer travelers: cost. Inflation is at a 40-year high, and it’s impacting the travel sector. Domestic airfare prices are up 40% since the beginning of the year, according to airfare comparison site Hopper.

Gas prices have also spiked 48% since March. That obviously makes road trips more expensive, but it also makes flying more expensive. Airlines pass on those prices to the consumer.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Nexstar Media Wire

Could our Globe Aware volunteers imagine doing this!? Sometimes travel can go terribly wrong, but this passenger did something astounding to save everyone on a flight.


 

Passenger with no flying experience lands plane at a Florida airport after the pilot became incapacitated

By Jamiel Lynch, Dakin Andone and Pete Muntean
CNN
11th May 2022

"I have no idea how to fly the airplane."

The pilot on his single-engine Cessna 208 had "gone incoherent," the passenger was telling air traffic controllers Tuesday afternoon, according to audio from LiveATC.net.

It was, he stressed, a "serious situation."

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Air Traffic Controller Robert Morgan, a certified flight instructor, was on a break when the call came in from the plane, headed out from the Bahamas.

"I rush over there and I walk in and the room is really busy ... and they're like, 'Hey, this pilot's incapacitated. The passengers are flying the plane. They have no flying experience," Morgan told CNN's "New Day" on Wednesday.

"I said, 'Oh boy.'"

Morgan learned the passenger on the line had never flown a plane -- but had been around aviation and seen other pilots fly.

"He was really calm," Morgan said. "He said, 'I don't know how to fly. I don't know how to stop this thing if I do get on the runway.'"

Morgan had never flown this model Cessna. He pulled up a picture of the instrument panel's layout and started guiding his new student step-by-step.

"Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me. Push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate," the air traffic controller can be heard telling the fledgling pilot in LiveATC audio.

"Try to follow the coast either north or southbound. We're trying to locate you."

Morgan made the key decision to guide the aircraft to the area's biggest airport, helping the passenger-turned-pilot position his aircraft 8 miles out from Palm Beach International, "just so he could just have a really big target to aim at."

Together, they got the Cessna to touch down on the runway, footage obtained by CNN affiliate WPBF shows -- something that takes about 20 hours to learn with typical flight instruction.

The landing rated 10-out-of-10, in Morgan's view.

"I felt like I was going to cry then, because I had so much adrenaline built up," Morgan said. "I was really happy that it worked out and that nobody got hurt."

Other pilots were stunned, as another air traffic controller relayed across the airwaves what had just unfolded, other audio captured by LiveATC.net indicates.

"You just witnessed a couple of passengers land that plane," the tower operator can be heard telling an American Airlines pilot waiting to take off for Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Did you say the passengers landed the airplane?" the American Airlines pilot asked. "Oh, my God. Great job," he said.

The condition of the original Cessna pilot, who had a "possible medical issue," was not immediately known, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.
After the Cessna's landing, Morgan met his new student, who gave him a big hug and said thank you.

"It was an emotional moment. He said that he just wanted to get home to his pregnant wife," Morgan said. "And that felt even better."

"In my eyes, he was the hero," Morgan said. "I was just doing my job."

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

When it comes to wish list travel spots, Peru's Machu Picchu is a favorite, and is now open again to travelers. A guided tour can be arranged with Globe Aware when booking your Peru volunteer vacation, as a separate excursion.


Why Machu Picchu, Peru, should be on every traveller's wishlist

14 May, 2022
NZ Herald
By Sara Bunny

After a string of closures due to Covid precautions, Peru's ancient Inca trails are again open to visitors.

When it comes to wishlist travel spots, Peru's Machu Picchu is a perennial favourite. The jewel in the crown of the Inca Empire, it's a crumbling citadel of more than 100 buildings and a network of walkways and terraces, dating back to about 1450. Perched on a dramatic mountain range where the Peruvian Andes meet the Amazon Basin, the lack of tourists has made it unusually quiet of late. But recently, the Peruvian Government reopened most of the area's famous trails.

If you're planning a trip, book in with a tour guide to help navigate the various circuits and their opening times, as well as logistics with connecting buses and trains. New rules are in place for 2022, including limits on the numbers of visitors allowed on tracks at any one time and time restrictions at some of the more popular attractions.

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Regardless of what route you choose, here are a few of the many highlights along the way:

Temple of the Sun

Thought to be the spot where the Incas worshipped their sun god, Inti, it's likely that only priests and high-ranking community members were allowed inside. As Machu Picchu's only round building, its windows were carefully designed for observing the sun at the summer and winter solstice. Visitors are not permitted inside due to the temple's delicate structure, and it's best viewed from the lookout above.

Huayna Picchu

A popular backdrop for tourist photos, the sacred mountain features a series of steps carved into the cliff face. Some researchers believe it was used as a surveillance centre against attacks on the citadel below, while another theory is that is served as the seat of the high priest. You need to be fit to hike to the summit, but walkers are rewarded with once-in-a-lifetime views over the ancient city and surrounding lush mountains.

Temple of the Condor

Displaying the Incas' incredible skill at stonework, the temple was carved to resemble the open wings of an Andean condor. With an altar inside, it's thought the temple was used to make sacrifices to the gods, and there's also evidence it served as a prison. Find the temple in the Hurin area of Machu Picchu, near the city's main square.

Checklist:

Travellers to Peru must present an International Travel Vaccination Certificate, or a Covid-19 RT-PCR Report for a negative test taken at most 24 hours before departure. Check with your travel agent or airline for details.

 

Additional Info

  • Source New Zealand Herald
Thursday, 12 May 2022 11:38

Mask-wearing mandate lifted in Cambodia

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen lifted the government-instituted mask-wearing mandate, leaving it to people across the country to decide for themselves. Globe Aware volunteers should know that mask-wearing requirements, however, still apply to enclosed settings such as air-conditioned offices, meeting rooms or movie theatres.


Mask-wearing mandate lifted in Cambodia

Borneo Bulletin
May 8, 2022

PHNOM PENH POST/ANN – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen lifted the government-instituted mask-wearing mandate, leaving it to people across the country to decide for themselves.

Mask-wearing requirements, however, still apply to enclosed settings such as air-conditioned offices, meeting rooms or movie theatres.

The premier made the announcement, effectively immediately, in a special audio address to the nation.

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“From the time you receive this audio message, you can decide for yourself whether to continue wearing mask in open space or not,” he said.

At public gardens or parks and tourist attractions or recreational areas, mask-wearing is also optional.

People in certain areas – such as crowded places or where there are suspected cases of Covid-19 – are “encouraged” but not required to wear mask.

Hun Sen reiterated his call for the public to get vaccinated against Covid-19, at least with a third dose which is now compulsory.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian Ministry of Health yesterday reported two new Omicron community case, with five recoveries and no new deaths.

As of yesterday, Cambodia had recorded a total of 136,262 Covid-19 cases with 133,177 recoveries and 3,056 fatalities.

Additional Info

  • Source Borneo Bulletin

Cambodia reported no new Covid-19 cases on Saturday night (May 7), the first time since the third wave of community transmission broke out in February last year, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said. This is great news for volunteers wishing to vacation in Cambodia. Feel free to contact a Globe Aware team member in regards to entry regulations and safety.


Cambodia reports zero new Covid-19 cases for first time in over a year, says PM Hun Sen

08 May 2022
The Star

PHNOM PENH, May 8 (Xinhua): Cambodia reported no new Covid-19 cases on Saturday night (May 7), the first time since the third wave of community transmission broke out in February last year, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said.

"Today, it is the first time since Feb. 20, 2021 that Cambodia has found not even a single new case of Covid-19," he said in a special audio message.

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"This is a great success that resulted from our joint efforts in the fight against Covid-19, and I'd like to thank all compatriots for participating in the anti-COVID-19 movement," he added.

However, Cambodia is not Covid-19 free yet, as it still has 29 active cases, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH).

Hun Sen attributed the success in the fight against Covid-19 to the kingdom's high vaccination rates and urged eligible people to go for booster doses, the third or the fourth shots, when their turns come.

"We'd like to thank all foreign friends for providing vaccines to us, enabling us to give them free of charge to our people," he said. "Vaccines have given us an opportunity to reopen our economy and businesses."

The Southeast Asian nation launched a national vaccination campaign against Covid-19 in February 2021, with China being the key vaccine supplier and most of the vaccines used in the kingdom are Sinovac and Sinopharm.


The country has so far vaccinated at least one dose of vaccines to almost 15 million people, or 93.7 percent of its 16 million population, the MoH said, adding that of them, 14.22 million, or 89 percent, have been fully vaccinated with two required shots.

Buoyed by high vaccination coverage, Cambodia has resumed all socioeconomic activities and reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers without quarantine since November last year.

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said vaccines have protected lives, stabilized health system and helped restore the economy.

"The royal government of Cambodia has made the correct decision to choose China as a strategic supplier of Covid-19 vaccines so that's why Cambodia has enough vaccines for its people," he told Xinhua.

According to the MoH, since the pandemic hit Cambodia in January 2020, the kingdom has recorded a total of 136,262 confirmed cases with 133,177 recoveries and 3,056 deaths. - Xinhua

Additional Info

  • Source The Star
Wednesday, 04 May 2022 10:13

Four new Google trip-planning tools

Today, Google is launching a new set of travel search tools that can help you plan for your dream Globe Aware summer vacation. The set of four new functions will enable you to better customize searches and works on your desktop or mobile device.


 

Check out these four great new Google trip-planning tools

By Bill Fink
The Points Guy
May 2 2022

Today, Google is launching a new set of travel search tools to help you plan for that upcoming weekend escape, summer vacation or long-delayed dream getaway.

The set of four new functions will enable you to better customize searches and quickly sort through targeted destination, pricing and lodging choices before saving all the results in a personalized tab that works on your desktop or mobile device.

Want to be notified whenever your bucket list destination has a flight sale? Curious about road trips you can take from your in-laws’ hometown? Have to find a hotel or restaurant within a 10-minute walk from your convention center? Regardless of the details surrounding your search, Google has you covered.

Here’s everything to know about Google’s four new features.

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Updates to Google Flights

Google Flights has created a new feature that may inspire you to take that long-desired but seemingly out-of-reach trip.

With the latest Google Flights iteration, users can now track future flight prices between any cities by clicking on the new “Any dates” toggle switch. You could previously set flight alerts, but this takes the search process a step further.

If Google detects lower-than-usual fares anytime in the next three to six months, you will receive an email notification. This is great for planning for far-flung dream destinations or getting suggestions for spur-of-the-moment deals.

Users can also click on price grids and price graphs to evaluate flight options in selected date ranges.

Addition of ‘Explore Nearby’ function

Perfect for planning road trips, Google’s new “Explore Nearby” function is located under the Explore tool of Google Travel. It will allow you to pick a location (your home base or your future destination) and then add filters like budget and trip length to explore additional destinations nearby. Google will then suggest road trip-ready escapes.

Click on a highlighted photo and Google will populate a side tab with trip information like average drive time, hotel prices and weather.

More search options for hotels and attractions

Google is also introducing new map-based “interest layer” search options for Google Travel. You can now find lodging within a selected walking or driving time or distance from a particular landmark or address.

For example, you can search for accommodation options within a 15-minute walk of the Eiffel Tower. Enter the specific address or landmark in the search bar and select dates plus “hotels” and/or “vacation rentals” to see a shaded section of the map that shows nearby lodging options.

Or, if you want to find a particular neighborhood’s dining, shopping or sightseeing options, you can click new “interest layer” icons on the map along with walk or drive times. Even very specific search options like “kid-friendly hotels in Orlando under $200 with a pool” will return results (in this example, you’ll see a mapped list with 123 choices on a sidebar with photos, prices and booking links).

Additional hotel tabs of “When to visit” and “What you’ll pay” will show typical price ranges and weather patterns for selected time periods. Price tabs will include links to compare options across multiple web-based booking sites.

Creation of a travel bookmarking tool

Great for saving both dream travel research and practical details for upcoming trips, Google’s new bookmarking tool will allow you to tap a bookmark icon on any hotel for it to become a “saved property.” Then, you can return at a later time and hit the “saved” tab under “Your travel plans” to see all your targeted hotels and continue your aspirational or soon-to-be-booked trip planning.

Google has also created a travel icon that can be easily added to the home screen of your iOS or Android smartphone, giving you one-touch access to all your scheduled trips and future travel research.

Bottom line

The newly added Google search options will make it easier than ever to customize your travel research, consolidate flight and lodging options and save it all for future viewing.

The neighborhood searches and “Explore Nearby” search functions should be particularly useful when looking for travel ideas in cities or countries you have never visited before. Meanwhile, the seasonal flight pricing and hotel pricing searches will prove beneficial for finding deals.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

Thailand has removed all testing requirements for vaccinated tourists, which includes Globe Aware volunteers. Entry procedures have been simplified and the country is planning to launch a new vaccine passport soon.


 

Thailand Plans To Launch New Vaccine Passport For Entry

Here we go again. After Thailand removed all testing requirements for vaccinated tourists, many believed it was finally prepared to abandon its infamously strict Covid policies. Although entry procedures have been simplified, those who had been expecting a full reopening to follow will be surprised to learn the country is, in fact, planning to launch a new vaccine passport soon.

During Covid, very few foreigners traveled to Thailand as a result of the country’s complex entry rules, which included multiple testing and quarantine post-arrival. Those rules have all been relaxed, and even though visiting Thailand now may be certainly a lot easier than it was in 2020 or 2021, this Southeast Asian nation remains extremely reluctant to fully drop its guard.

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Now, health authorities in the country are looking to replace the much-criticized Thailand Pass with a Thai Vaccine Pass. While it would de-bureaucratize travel for vaccinated tourists, the announcement has raised concerns the unvaccinated may be locked out of the country for good this time.

Here is what we have learned about Thailand’s proposed new vaccine pass and how it could affect tourists:

Thailand Pass To Be Replaced By A Vaccine Pass Soon

As announced by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on April 26, the ministry is mulling over the introduction of a new vaccine pass that will tentatively replace the existing Thai Pass. According to Charnvirakul himself, this will not present obstacles, but will instead ‘facilitate entry to Thailand by overseas tourists‘.

Elaborating on the topic, the Minister suggested Thailand could benefit from a vaccine passport, as they have been the ‘international standard used to screen foreign arrivals based on each visitor’s vaccination history’. He also confirmed his ministry is already currently ‘designing the process’, which should be operational by June.

At present, all travelers must apply for permission before arriving in Thailand. This means obtaining a Thailand Pass in advance, and preferably up to a week before travel, as waiting times vary and longer delays have been highly publicized. On top of that, visitors must either present a vaccination certificate or, when unvaccinated, apply to enter via one of the Quarantine Schemes.

Even when eligible, some travelers have been denied a Thai Pass, with the Tourism Ministry confirming that, while 2.1 million tourists have applied since the border reopened, only 1.5 million were accepted. Over 600,000 were unable to satisfy Thai requirements, had their applications refused and were subsequently unable to visit the country.

When saying travel will be ‘facilitated’ once a Vaccine Pass is in place, the Health Minister is likely referring to fully vaccinated travelers, as they would no longer need to apply for a Thailand Pass. Instead, they would have an option to simply present their certificate in order to ensure smoother entry into Thailand.

What About The Unvaccinated?

On the other hand, as expected with mandatory vaccine requirements, a tweak in the rules would be of little benefit to the unvaccinated, who have been allowed to visit the country, albeit under strict quarantine rules, and could have this route blocked should a vaccine passport become mandatory.

After all, little is known yet about the upgraded Thai Vaccine Pass. Here are some of the things we do know:

  • The system is being developed and should be operational by June
  • Only travelers who have had at least three doses of an approved vaccine will be able to apply
  • Filling out the immigration arrival form Tor Mor 6 (TM6) will remain mandatory
  • Covid insurance will still be a prerequisite for entry into Thailand

The Health Minister was quoted saying ‘two jabs alone are not enough to raise immunity for a prolonged period’, backing his ministry’s decision to launch the Vaccine Pass with a 3-dose minimum requirement. In summary, traveling to Thailand is becoming progressively easier for the vaccinated, and the vaccinated only.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, another one of Thailand’s leading figures in Covid management, reiterated he will be advocating for a Vaccine Passport himself. Ratchakitprakarn plans to present the proposal at the next CCSA – Covid-19 Situation Administration meeting.

Thailand Will Not Be Joining 36 Other Countries That Have Fully Reopened

Both Ministers have held meetings and have already agreed on the implementation of a Vaccine Passport, though they have come to the conclusion the new 3-dose requirement should be applied ‘selectively’. As some countries struggle with uneven vaccine distribution, certain foreign nationals would face greater challenges and could be offered a grace period.

This would most certainly not apply to U.S., Canadian, British and European citizens, who reside in countries with high vaccination coverage and wide availability of vaccines. While there are 36 other countries in the world the unvaccinated can travel to hassle-free, Thailand does not aim to be one of them, at least for now.

In other news, Thailand is seeking to implement soon a 300 baht entry fee, further adding to the woes of travelers. According to the tourism minister, 50 baht of the so-called ‘landing fees’ would be used as insurance coverage for all tourists, on top of the already mandatory travel insurance, and the remaining 250 baht will fund tourism initiatives in the country.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

Not sure what you're dealing with since all three have commons symptoms? Globe Aware volunteers can read on to learn more about the symptoms of food poisoning, stomach flu, and COVID-19 and how to determine which condition you have.


 

Is This Food Poisoning, Stomach Flu, or COVID-19?

by Emily Cronkleton
March 17, 2022
healthline

If you are experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, you may wonder if the cause is food poisoning, stomach flu, or COVID-19. These conditions share similar symptoms, though there are some key differences between them.

Read on to learn more about the symptoms of food poisoning, stomach flu, and COVID-19 and how to determine which condition you have. You’ll also learn how to treat each condition, when to seek medical care, and how to test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

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How to tell if my symptoms are food poisoning, stomach flu, or COVID?

To determine what is causing your gastrointestinal symptoms, it’s important to consider factors such as severity, accompanying symptoms, and possible causes. You may need to take a test to get a diagnosis.

Typical food poisoning symptoms

Eating food contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites can cause food poisoning.

Symptoms can occur within a few hours, days, or weeks of consuming contaminated food. They tend to be more severe than symptoms of the stomach flu.

Common food poisoning symptomsTrusted Source include:

  • nausea
  • abdominal cramps
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • weakness
  • headache
  • loss of appetite

Usually, symptoms are mild to moderate and get better within a week, with or without treatment. However, severe and chronic (long-term) cases may require hospitalization.

Typical stomach flu symptoms

A viral infection causes the stomach flu, called viral gastroenteritis. Usually, symptoms occur 1 to 3 days after exposure to the virus and improve within 1 to 3 days.

Common symptomsTrusted Source of the stomach flu include:

  • nausea
  • abdominal cramps
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • dehydration
  • muscle aches
  • achy joints

As you can see, the stomach flu can give you many of the same symptoms as food poisoning, but with additional pain in the joints and muscles due to the viral infection.

Typical COVID-19 symptoms

People who develop COVID-19 from SARS-CoV-2 may have a wide variety of symptoms that are mild to severe. Usually, symptoms occur 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

Gastrointestinal symptoms often occur during the early phase of COVID-19. They may appear before respiratory symptoms. Symptoms of COVID-19Trusted Source include:

  • nausea
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • fever or chills
  • headache
  • muscle or body aches
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • fatigue
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • congestion or runny nose

Unlike food poisoning or the stomach flu, COVID-19 usually causes respiratory symptoms as well as gastrointestinal. If you’ve developed a cough or are experiencing a lack of taste or smell, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor and get tested for SARS-CoV-2.

Getting treatment for food poisoning or stomach flu during the COVID-19 pandemic

To treat mild to moderate food poisoning or stomach flu, there are several home remedies you can try.

Home remedies to treat food poisoning and stomach flu include:

  • Staying hydrated. Symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Consume plenty of water and beverages with electrolytes, such as coconut water, fruit juice, and sports drinks.
  • Using a heating pad. To alleviate abdominal pain and relax your stomach muscles, apply a heating pad to your stomach for 15 minutes at a time.
    Consuming ginger and mint. Ginger and mint may help alleviate nausea. You can take the herbs in supplement form or drink them in tea.
  • Drinking herbal teas. Drink licorice, fennel, and chamomile tea to calm and soothe your stomach.

If you have symptoms of dehydration, severe symptoms, or symptoms that do not improve within a few days, visit a healthcare professional.

Symptoms of dehydration include:

  • decreased urination
  • dry mouth, lips, or throat
  • dizziness when standing
  • extreme thirst
  • fatigue

See a healthcare professional if you have severe symptoms such as:

  • bloody diarrhea
  • high fever (103°F or 39.4°C, or above)
  • frequent vomiting, which can cause dehydration
  • diarrhea that lasts longer than 3 days

If you’re concerned about visiting a doctor’s office or hospital due to the possibility of contracting SARS-CoV-2, you can take precautions to maximize your safety by:

  • wearing a mask
  • maintaining a distance of 6 feet
  • using hand sanitizer regularly
  • scheduling your appointment in the morning, since the waiting and exam rooms are likely to be the cleanest

Healthcare workers and staff are taking precautions as well, most of whom are fully vaccinated. Some precautions they may take include:

  • regularly cleaning and disinfecting clinics
  • spacing out appointments to minimize the number of people in the waiting room
  • giving you the option to skip the waiting room altogether
  • performing tests and other procedures in the exam room instead of having you visit multiple locations, in some cases

Getting tested for COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source recommends getting tested if you experience COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with a person with COVID-19.

A rapid self-test involving a nasal swab will provide quick results. Laboratory tests involving saliva or a nasal swab provide results within 1 to 3 days. Usually, laboratory tests are more accurate than self-tests.

While you’re waiting for the results of your test, it’s a good idea to stay at home, both to quarantine and to take care of yourself. At-home treatments for COVID-19 are similar to treatments for other viruses and include:

  • getting plenty of rest
  • staying hydrated
  • taking prebiotics and probiotics to treat gastrointestinal symptoms
  • taking acetaminophen to alleviate headaches, body aches, and fever
  • applying an ice pack for 15 minutes at a time to reduce fever

Takeaway

Some symptoms of food poisoning, stomach flu, and COVID-19 are similar, which may make it tricky to determine which condition you have. In most cases, people can treat food poisoning or stomach flu by resting, staying hydrated, and using home remedies.

If your symptoms are severe or do not improve within a few days, make an appointment with a healthcare professional. They can provide you with an accurate diagnosis, determine if there are any underlying causes, and choose the best course of treatment.

If you think your symptoms are from COVID-19, follow the usual safety precautions and self-isolate. Take a test as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Thottacherry, MD — Written 
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What You Need to Know About Food Poisoning, Its Causes, and Treatments
Symptoms
Causes
Chart
Treatments
Diet
Diagnosis
Risk factors
Prevention
Outlook
What is food poisoning?
Foodborne illness, more commonly referred to as food poisoning, is the result of eating contaminated, spoiled, or toxic food. The most common symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Although it’s quite uncomfortable, food poisoning isn’t unusual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, 48 million people in the United States (or around 1 out of 7) contract some form of food poisoning every year. Of those 48 million people, 128,000 are hospitalized.

Food poisoning symptoms
If you have food poisoning, chances are it won’t go undetected.

Symptoms can vary depending on the source of the infection.

Common cases of food poisoning will typically include a few of the following symptoms:

abdominal cramps
diarrhea
nausea
vomiting
loss of appetite
mild fever
weakness
headache
Symptoms of potentially life threatening food poisoning include:

diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days
a fever higher than 102°F (38.9°C)
difficulty seeing or speaking
symptoms of severe dehydration, which may include dry mouth, passing little to no urine, and difficulty keeping fluids down
bloody urine
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact a doctor or seek medical treatment immediately.

How long does food poisoning last?
The length of time it takes for symptoms to appear depends on the source of the infection, but it can range from as little as 30 minutesTrusted Source to as long as 8 weeksTrusted Source.

With or without treatment, most cases will resolve in 1 week.

Causes of food poisoning
Most food poisoning can be traced to one of three major causes: bacteria, parasites, or viruses.

These pathogens can be found on almost all of the food humans eat. However, heat from cooking usually kills pathogens on food before it reaches our plate. Foods eaten raw are common sources of food poisoning because they don’t go through the cooking process.

Occasionally, food will come in contact with the organisms in fecal matter or vomit. This is most likely to occur when an ill person prepares food and doesn’t wash their hands before cooking.

Meat, eggs, and dairy products are frequently contaminated. Water may also be contaminated with organisms that cause illness.

Bacteria
Bacteria are by far the most common cause of food poisoning. Bacterial causes of food poisoning include:

E. coli, in particular Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)
Listeria monocytogenes
Salmonella
Campylobacter
Clostridium botulinum
Staphylococcus aureus
Shigella
Vibrio vulnificus
When thinking of dangerous bacteria, names such as E. coli and Salmonella come to mind for good reason.

Salmonella is the biggest bacterial causeTrusted Source of food poisoning cases in the United States. According to the CDCTrusted Source, an estimated 1,350,000 cases of food poisoning, including 26,500 hospitalizations, can be traced to salmonella infection each year.

Campylobacter and C. botulinum are two lesser-known and potentially lethal bacteria that can lurk in our food.

Parasites
Food poisoning caused by parasites isn’t as common as food poisoning caused by bacteria, but parasites that spread through food are still very dangerous. They include:

Toxoplasma gondii
Giardia lamblia
various tapeworms, such as:
Taenia saginata (beef tapeworm)
Taenia solium (pork tapeworm)
Diphyllobothrium latum (fish tapeworm)
Cryptosporidium
Ascaris lumbricoides, a type of roundworm
flukes (flatworms), such as Opisthorchiidae (liver fluke) and Paragonimus (lung fluke)
pinworms, or Enterobiasis
Trichinella
According to the CDCTrusted Source, toxoplasmosis is a leading cause of death attributed to food poisoning in the United States. Toxoplasma gondii is also found in cat litter boxes.

Parasites can live in your digestive tract and go undetected for years. People with weakened immune systems and pregnant people are at risk of more serious side effects if certain parasites take up residence in their intestines.

Viruses
Food poisoning can also be caused by a virus, such as:

norovirus, which is sometimes known as Norwalk virus
rotavirus
astrovirus
sapovirus
hepatitis A virus
The norovirus causes 19 to 21 million casesTrusted Source of vomiting and diarrhea in the United States each year. In rare cases, it can be fatal. Other viruses bring on similar symptoms, but they’re less common.

The virus that causes the liver condition hepatitis A can also be transmitted through food.

Additional Info

  • Source healthline

All travel restrictions for entering Romania related to the coronavirus were lifted on March 9th, 2022. Globe Aware volunteers can book their volunteer vacation to this beautiful European country with ease.


 

These countries have lifted all coronavirus travel restrictions

These are all the destinations in Europe that currently have no Covid-related entry requirements. This list is being regularly updated

BY SARAH JAMES
20 April 2022
CONDÉ NAST TRAVELLER

Since 2020, we’ve all needed to stay on top of the Covid-related rules for different countries – from where you can travel without a vaccine to which destinations require a Covid booster jab for travel. By spring 2022, however, a handful of European countries (including the UK since Friday 18 March 2022) have lifted all restrictions relating to coronavirus and travel, allowing international visitors to enter without proof of vaccination, a negative test, recent recovery or even filling in a passenger locator form. These are the places that have dropped all such rules – although, of course, we still recommend following UK health advice, including having your Covid vaccine and booster if you are able to.

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Czech Republic
On Saturday 9 April 2022, the Czech Republic lifted all coronavirus-related entry requirements for people arriving from other countries. Visitors do not need to show any proof of vaccination or negative tests and do not need to fill out a passenger locator form.

Denmark
At the time of writing (Wednesday 20 April 2022), there are no coronavirus-related requirements regarding testing or quarantining when entering Denmark regardless of vaccination status. However, you can only enter Greenland if you can prove that you are fully vaccinated or have previously been infected with coronavirus in the past 12 weeks.

Hungary
The Hungarian government lifted all coronavirus restrictions upon entering the country on Monday 7 March 2022. You do not need to show vaccination proof or any negative tests.

Iceland
There are currently no rules about coronavirus vaccinations or tests to enter Iceland as an international visitor.

Ireland
Since Sunday 6 March 2022, international visitors have not been required to follow any restrictions regarding coronavirus. If travellers develop coronavirus symptoms while staying in Ireland, they should follow the current HSE guidance.

Montenegro
There are no coronavirus-related travel rules for those travelling to Montenegro.

Norway
Entry requirements for Norway are the same for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. You do not need to show any negative tests, fill out any forms or self-isolate.

Poland
Since Monday 28 March 2022, pre-departure testing and proof of vaccination have not been required to enter Poland.

Romania
All travel restrictions for entering Romania related to coronavirus were lifted on Wednesday 9 March 2022.

Sweden
As of Friday 1 April 2022, travellers to Sweden are no longer required to present a negative test or proof of vaccination to enter.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday updated its warning level policy for international travel, now reserving its Level 4 warning only for instances of extreme Covid-19 threats. Globe Aware volunteers will now have a more actionable alert for when they should not travel to a certain destination.


U.S. CDC Restructures Covid-19 Travel Warning System

By Michael B. Baker
April 18, 2022
Business Travel News

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday updated its warning level policy for international travel, now reserving its Level 4 warning only for instances of extreme Covid-19 threats.

A Level 4 warning, at which the CDC advises travelers not to visit regardless of vaccination status, now indicates "special circumstances, such as rapidly escalating case trajectory or extremely high case counts, emergence of a new variant of concern, or healthcare infrastructure collapse," according to the CDC. The other levels still will be determined by case counts and incidents during a 28-day period.

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"With this new configuration, travelers will have a more actionable alert for when they should not travel to a certain destination, regardless of vaccination status, until we have a clearer understanding of the Covid-19 situation at that destination," the CDC said in a media statement.

Prior to the change, the CDC's Level 4 list still covered about 90 countries and destinations, including most of Europe. As of Monday afternoon, no destinations were listed at Level 4, and more than 120 were listed at Level 3, at which the CDC recommends unvaccinated travelers avoid travel.

Ending the "avoid travel" advisories was one of the recommendations of U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow in a letter to White House Covid-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha last month. "The CDC should ensure that Americans are not dissuaded from traveling to any place with Covid-19 case rates that are equal to, or less than, the case rates prevailing in the U.S.," Dow said in the letter

 

Additional Info

  • Source Business Travel News

Mexico makes for a perfect first international vacation destination for a number of reasons. Here are some of the best our Globe Aware volunteers can check out!


8 Reasons To Make Mexico Your First International Vacation

BY CYNTHIA LEVY
April 18, 2022

Mexico makes for a perfect first international vacation destination for a number of reasons, but there are some of the best.

Many people are unaware of how amazing Mexico can be to visit. It is a country with many destinations, but a good number of people don't know where to go. One may have heard stories about beaches in Mexico, heritage sites, museums, villages, valleys, and hiking trails and have an interest in visiting.

Due to the great climate of Mexico, one can visit almost any time of the year and there will be a variety of things to enjoy. Here are some of the best reasons why Mexico is practically the perfect vacation destination for first-time international travelers.

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8 Enjoy Authentic Mexican Cuisine

One of the things that make Mexico so popular for vacations is the country’s unique and delicious cuisine. Many people know about Mexican tortas and tacos, but there is so much more than that. When visiting the north, one will enjoy the cabrito or carne asada. These are kinds of seafood from Sinaloa. For those visiting the western region, dining in Mayan or Jalisco delicacies will be the ultimate treat for sure. Mayan delicacies are sourced from the Yucatan Peninsula and represent the true western Mexican cuisines.

7 Appreciate Mexican Music

Many travelers have seen and listened to the unique Mexican music in films and on TV. Going on a vacation to the country is a special chance to enjoy authentic Mexican dances and music that is available in both English and Spanish. The traditional music is diverse in many ways, therefore giving visitors more than enough varieties to enjoy. There are popular band groups in almost every town, ready to play their best songs. Having a band of talented Mexican musicians with a variety of guitars is a reason to go to Mexico.

6 Explore Historic Monuments

Mexico is a country with so many monuments, mostly from ancient civilizations. These are impressive monuments showcasing extraordinary architecture and telling the story of the ancient civilizations. Many people do not know that there are ancient pyramids in Mexico. However, they are different from those in Egypt. The pyramids of Teotihuacan are the most popular monuments in Mexico. Visitors will also get a chance to visit several archeological sites and places such as El Tajin, and Chichen Itza.

5 Relax On Beautiful Mexican Beaches

Mexico has some of the best beaches in all of America. Due to the great warm weather of the country, the beaches are a good spot for vacation, especially for someone coming from a cold region. Many beaches are rated first-class, with clean white sands as well as turquoise waters. The list of beaches where one can vacation is long. Some of the most popular include Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Playa del Carmen, Huatulco, and Mazatlan. Most beaches are also very clean.

4 It's Affordable To Plan

Mexico is a very affordable country to visit for a vacation when compared to countries in Europe, or areas of Canada or the United States. It all starts with the airlines that operate in Mexico, which offer affordable deals. By traveling during off-peak seasons, when there are few holidays, one gets to spend even less. The country has a moderately good economy and the cost of living is low. Since there are many open markets, bargaining for commodities is easy and allows a person to get affordable products. The government has also provided many free destinations for tourists.

3 You Can Find Great Vacation Packages

Traveling for a vacation in a new country is different from getting a vacation package from a travel company. One does not have to necessarily travel on their own to enjoy Mexico. Private traveling can be expensive. However, several travel companies operate in Mexico and offer vacation packages. These are packages with well-packed itineraries and fun activities. One can get as short as two days’ vacation on Cancun beach. The best way to acquire this is by going through different travel companies in Mexico and identifying suitable packages. Booking early is the best way to get affordable deals.

2 Visiting The Mystical Mayan Ruins Is A Must

The Mystical Mayan ruins are one of the most popular attractions in Mexico. These ancient Mayan artifacts show a great civilization from a bygone age that no longer exists. These ruins are characterized by amazing works of innovation done by people of that time. Many things were built – including majestic temples, agricultural systems, and other advanced infrastructures. A visit to these ruins is reason enough to visit Mexico. One will also get a chance to visit the Chichen Itza ruins, which are equally as impressive.

1 See Its Unique Wildlife In Person

Mexico is also a country with great wildlife. The best part is that the most fascinating animals in the country are unique and only found in Mexico. There are also a few jungles and forests to visit. The ocean also is home to many animals. Visitors will get a chance to sport endangered axolotl and cacomistle, which is a mammal native to Mexico. On the northern side of Mexico, there is a chance to see Mexican prairie dogs, and in the Baja waters, there is vaquita porpoise.

 

Additional Info

  • Source The Travel

Officials from major airlines said they expect to offset their higher fuel bills with raised airlines tickets. Thanks to travel demand from vacationers, and Thanksgiving-like crowds returning this Easter, that's concerning news for Globe Aware volunteers who have not booked their summer trips yet.


 

Haven't booked those airline tickets yet? Don't dawdle. Bookings are bonkers, pushing prices up

Dawn Gilbertson
USA TODAY

Thanksgiving-like crowds are returning to security checkpoints and airport parking lots are filling up in popular destinations.

But few things say air travel is roaring back more than airline executives taking a spike in oil prices in stride. Fuel is airlines' second-biggest expense after labor.

In presentations at an investor conference in New York Tuesday, officials from Delta, American, United, Southwest and JetBlue said they expect to offset their higher fuel bills thanks to sizzling travel demand from vacationers and an uptick in business travel.

That's bad news for travelers who haven't bought tickets for spring break or summer vacation yet, as strong bookings enable airlines to raise ticket prices.

Delta Air Lines President Glen Hauenstein said the airline needs to collect an extra $30 or $40 per the average $400 round trip ticket to cover its rising fuel costs and so far is having no trouble doing so given a surge in bookings.

"We are very, very confident of our ability to recapture over 100% of the fuel price run-up in the second quarter and through probably the end of the summer," he said at the J.P. Morgan Industrials Conference.

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Hauenstein said he has never seen travel demand rebound as quickly as it has following the sharp decline in bookings from the omicron variant in late 2021 and early this year. One day last week, the airline had the highest sales day in its 100-year history, he said.

Delta is not alone in its confidence in the industry's recovery and ability to pass along fare increases.

"The pandemic really does seem to be behind us here in the U.S.," Nocella said. "Bookings across most of the network are at normal levels.''

Nocella said United expects to be able to offset a "large chunk" of its higher fuel bill by boosting fares and will cover the rest by trimming some flights.

United purposely held back seats for sale for summer travel in anticipation of a rebound so it could charge more for tickets when bookings resumed post-omicron. And it's working, he said.

"We're pretty happy about that," he said.

He said a key revenue metric for Easter travel in mid-April is ahead of 2019 levels despite an increased number of flights.

It all adds up to more sticker shock for consumers fighting inflation on every front this year. Another COVID-19 wave and other factors could hurt bookings again and reduce airlines' ability to raise fares, but for now, the trend in ticket prices is up. With domestic travel bookings and revenue surpassing pre-pandemic levels for the first time in the second week of February and ticket prices were up 5%, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.

"This is a major turning point, and it shows a level of consumer confidence we've not seen in many months," Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights said in a statement.

'How much can the consumer bear?'

The big question for airlines and travelers is how high ticket prices can go before travelers resist.

"How much can the consumer bear?" J.P. Morgan airline analyst Jamie Baker asked airline executives.

Delta's Hauenstein said the airline is pricing summer flights to a level that will cover higher fuel costs and so far, bookings are above 2019 levels.

"We haven't actually found the breakpoint yet," he said.

JetBlue's Hayes said the airline also has not seen any so-called "demand destruction."

"We're still dealing with pent-up demand from people," he said.

Airfares are on the rise: 5 tips for travelers shopping for airline tickets

  • Don't wait for prices to go down, especially to popular spring and summer vacation destinations. If you see a palatable ticket price on the dates and times you need, book it and don't look back. (Or look back occasionally and rebook if the flight price has dropped since major airlines have dropped change fees on most tickets and Southwest has never charged change fees. You'll receive a credit for any fare difference.)
  • Don't overlook airline and travel website flexible date calendars and airfare alerts from apps including Hopper and Kayak if your travel plans are flexible.
  • Do include online travel agencies like Expedia and search engines like Google Flights and Kayak in your research as they combine flights from different airlines for the itinerary, which can save money over flying one airline for the trip. Just make sure you aren't flying into one airport and out of another in metro areas with more than one option if that's a dealbreaker.
  • Don't limit your search to the major airlines. Discount airlines Spirit and Frontier, which recently announced plans to merge, and Allegiant have been expanding rapidly. As have newcomers Avelo and Breeze. On all, add up the fees for extras, including a carry-on bag or seat assignment to make an apples-to-apples comparison with major airlines.
  • Do skip that summer trip in favor of a fall or other off-season getaway if your travel plans are flexible and you're on a budget.

Additional Info

  • Source USAToday
Tuesday, 12 April 2022 09:08

Test positive for COVID-19 abroad?

While traveling into countries may have become easier, it's still important Globe Aware volunteers be prepared for re-entry back into the United States. Our volunteer vacations provide testing on site or at your accommodations, provide travel insurance and assist with understanding government regulations and procedures.


 

5 things I learned after testing positive for COVID-19 abroad

Taylor Jenkins
April 9, 2022
The Points Guy

After a great adventure in Argentina, it was time to come home.

Then, seven hours before my return flight from Buenos Aires to Atlanta, I received the results of my COVID-19 test required for re-entry to the United States. The news sealed my fate for the next few days. With a positive test, I was not going to be able to board my Delta Air Lines flight that evening.

In the days that followed, five lessons about traveling during COVID-19 became abundantly clear to me. So long as negative tests are required for re-entry into the U.S., these lessons will remain true — so I am sharing them here so anyone traveling abroad can embrace them.

It had been three months since my last trip to Argentina. This time, my wife and I were returning for the wedding of two close friends and a quick escape to Argentina’s famous wine region of Mendoza. As a fully vaccinated and boosted U.S. traveler with a negative COVID-19 test, I was able to enter Argentina with ease. I would not have guessed that my entry into Argentina was going to be easier than my re-entry to the U.S.

Here’s a brief overview of the current entry requirements for Argentina and a little bit of background:

Argentina entry requirements

As a fully vaccinated traveler, I needed three things to enter Argentina. Like many countries, Argentina requires you to fill out an affidavit form within 48 hours of departure. The form is straightforward, only requiring typical traveler information: arrival, departure, passport number, etc. Additionally, I needed a negative PCR test taken with 72 hours of departure and proof of medical travel insurance. The U.S. embassy in Argentina provides a great overview of all requirements.

The trip to Mendoza

My wife and I spent the days leading up to the wedding exploring the bodegas and vineyards of Mendoza. Traveling within Argentina also proved easy. There were no additional requirements for travel within the country. A first for me, we flew the low-cost local carrier, Fly Bondi, from Aeroparque Internacional Jorge Newbery (AEP) in Buenos Aires to Governor Francisco Gabrielli International Airport (MDZ) in Mendoza. While a full review isn’t necessary, I will say that I would use Fly Bondi again, but will certainly anticipate frequent (and drastic) changes to my originally scheduled flight leading up to the day of departure.

It was on day two of our vineyard tours in Mendoza that my congestion started. As it was the only symptom to manifest itself, I didn’t think much of it. Congestion has been pretty par for the course for me each time I’ve made the journey from our U.S. winter to summer in Argentina. My congestion cleared up over the next few days, and was mostly gone just in time for the Saturday wedding. Little did I know my brief bout of congestion would have larger ramifications.

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The test

We were scheduled to return to the U.S. on Monday night aboard the Delta red-eye to Atlanta. With the U.S. still requiring a negative antigen test taken no more than one day prior to departure, we scheduled our tests for Monday morning. As a side note: If you find yourself needing a test in Argentina, I highly recommend using Stramboulian. Scheduling was easy and there are multiple locations in popular areas.

Within a few hours, we received our test results: negative for my wife and positive for me. What transpired over the next few hours and days consisted of a lot of research into quarantine requirements and travel requirements to understand what I needed to do locally and what I needed to do in order to return to the U.S. as quickly — and safely — as possible. The rules mandated 7 days of quarantine from the onset of symptoms with at least 48 hours symptom-free plus three days of “special care,” meaning not going out in crowds. I ended up in Argentina about five days longer than planned.

After a few conversations with my primary doctor and a few days without symptoms, I ultimately flew home on Friday evening with my positive test and a signed letter indicating proof of recovery. Luckily for me, the entire experience was nothing more than a minor inconvenience. However, five lessons became abundantly clear.

My lessons learned

Travel with take-home tests
Before leaving for your international trip, purchase at least one take-home test to take with you. Depending on your destination, tests can be difficult to find or, at the very least, inconvenient to find. Considering my symptoms were never more than mild congestion, I never felt the need to seek out a testing center prior to my mandatory test for returning home. However, if I had a take-home test on hand, there’s a good chance I would have used it and had a few days’ head start on planning my next moves regarding quarantine and my return trip.

‘No more than one day before you travel’ does not mean ‘No more than 24 hours before you travel’

The United States’ testing requirement for international travel states that travelers “are required [to] show a negative COVID-19 viral test result taken no more than one day before travel…” I had interpreted this to mean that for a 9 p.m. flight on Monday, your test could be conducted no earlier than 9 p.m. on Sunday. After testing positive, I learned “one day before travel” means that your test can be taken at any time during the day before your travel date. While this knowledge would not have changed my circumstances, earlier awareness of my predicament would certainly have reduced my stress levels in the short seven hours between learning my test results and my scheduled departure.

Required or not, purchase trip insurance

To satisfy Argentina’s insurance requirement, I purchased the bare minimum $12 plan from Trawick International. While it remains to be seen how the claims process goes, my plan included $150 per day of trip delay insurance.

Luckily for me, I was able to stay with local friends. However, had I been in a different destination, I would likely have needed a lot more coverage to find a suitable hotel for my extended stay. For my needs, the $150 was plenty to cover food and other costs I incurred. In the future, I will make a deliberate calculation to ensure my trip delay coverage matches my potential needs at my destination.

If you’re able to work remotely, travel with your work computer

So long as there is a testing requirement in place necessary for re-entry to the U.S., all travelers should anticipate the possibility of testing positive abroad. Having recognized this prior to my trip, I made the decision to bring my work computer with me. While it stayed in my backpack for the entire first part of the trip, I was certainly glad I was able to work remotely after my planned return was disrupted.

Don’t upgrade your flight until you have your negative test in hand

The day before our original return trip, I had upgraded our seats to Delta Premium Select using miles that transferred from American Express. When it came time to change my return flight, I was reminded that upgrades made using miles are non-refundable. The miles I used to upgrade my original ticket disappeared in an instant. To make matters worse, the additional price of the upgrade was not part of the equation in determining the price difference between my original fare and my new fare (the only remaining element of change fees after Delta dropped nearly all change fees in 2020).

Fortunately, it only cost me $68 to change my ticket — but you may not be so lucky.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Globe Aware Makes Volunteering Easy, Safe and Fun

By Hyeyeun Jeon
The University Network

For students in high school and college, volunteering is beneficial in many ways.

Through volunteering, not only can you make meaningful impacts and learn to live as a part of a wider community, but also network with people from various career paths and improve your school applications.

Of course there are numerous local volunteering opportunities available. However, as air travel normalizes again, students can look into opportunities in international communities as well.

With Globe Aware, you can reap the same benefits of volunteering while traveling to various wonders of our beautiful world.

Founded in 2000, Globe Aware is a nonprofit that develops short-term service abroad programs for those interested in volunteer travel.

Volunteering with Globe Aware

Volunteer travel aims to combine the best intentions of the non-profit sector with the excitement of the tourism sector to create stimulating, service-oriented vacations.

With a special consultative status with the United Nations, Globe Aware develops a safe, fun and culturally interesting experience for volunteers interested in service across the world.

The organization’s service projects focus on working side-by-side with locals as equals on community projects that are important to them. Previous projects include installing concrete floors in the homes of single mothers in Guatemala and assembling and distributing wheelchairs for landmine victims in Cambodia.

Simultaneously, Globe Aware provides several cultural excursions throughout every program, such as swimming in deep, water-filled sinkholes formed in limestone known as cenotes in Mexico, and spectacular nature hikes into the Carara Rainforest Reserve of Costa Rica.

None of Globe Aware trips require special skills or the ability to speak a specific foreign language because Globe Aware employees lay the groundwork prior to your arrival and accompany you during the entire volunteer vacation.

Globe Aware Makes Volunteering Easy Safe and Fun

How Students Can Volunteer with Globe Aware

Globe Aware has volunteer programs for high school and college students. These programs typically run for about a week, but programs can be extended up to three weeks upon request.

Destinations vary widely, ranging from a quaint village in Romania to a Rainforest village in Costa Rica. You can look through all programs operating in Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean here.

Note that India, Thailand and Nepal programs are set to reopen this summer after being temporarily closed during the pandemic.

Service Hours

On top of a life-changing experience, Globe Aware trips provide service hours. High school students can use the hours worked during a program (usually 40 hours per week) for their required number of service hours to graduate or to qualify for the distinguished President’s Volunteer Service Award.

And all volunteers can request to receive a Community Service Certificate upon completion of their programs.

Also, there are discounts available for students. For example, participants under 17 years of age or groups of 10 or more can receive a 10 percent discount.

To register for a volunteer travel trip, you can sign up here.

Internship opportunities

For students looking for internship opportunities, Globe Aware provides internships that can be as short as one week and as long as four weeks, which are held virtually from India.

Depending on your interests, you will be directed to one of various organizations, ranging from local schools to elephant welfare nonprofits.

For example, as an intern at a local community center for children from low-income families, you will be working on weekly tasks such as creating educational videos that will be used in virtual lessons.

Though volunteering can be done anywhere, a Globe Aware program is truly one of few opportunities in life that offer the ability to experience another culture while also serving in a deeply meaningful way.

 

Additional Info

  • Source The University Network

With the no-passport-required ease of traveling, and direct flights available from dozens of cities, it’s no wonder that the vacation-deprived are rushing to this island. Globe Aware volunteers headed to Puerto Rico can figure out what they need to pack with these helpful tips!


 

8 items to pack when traveling to Puerto Rico, according to residents

BY REGAN STEPHENS
June 13, 2021

In late May, traveling to Puerto Rico just got a little easier. The U.S. territory loosened its requirements for domestic travelers, with vaccinated visitors now able to skip COVID-19 entry testing, and instead upload their vaccination card via a portal.

With the no-passport-required ease of traveling to the Caribbean island, and direct flights available from dozens of cities, it’s no wonder that the vacation-deprived are heading south in droves. Puerto Rico has seen an uptick in travelers since last fall, with overall hotel demand outpacing 2019 rates.

“There’s been a pent-up demand to travel from the past year because of COVID-19, and as Puerto Rico has always been a popular destination for U.S. mainland travelers, naturally an influx of people have booked trips to our tropical island,” says Adrian Mercado, director of sales and marketing at Hotel El Convento and Palacio Provincial. The two historic properties located in Old San Juan have seen a 30% increase in occupancy over the past couple of months. “We credit this to the convenience in getting to Puerto Rico with no passport necessary, as well as the recent ease in testing restrictions.”

While it’s true the island has a bounty of scenic beaches—and who couldn’t use some R&R in the form of seaside piña coladas and a juicy novel?—Puerto Rico also has a rich history, abundant natural beauty, and a vibrant cocktail scene. (Fun fact: That piña colada was actually invented here.) All that, plus it's blessed with year-round sunshine.

Read on for locals’ best tips on what you should pack for exploring everything Puerto Rico has to offer.

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An insulated cup

Bring along an insulated beverage cup, like a Yeti, says Gigí Nieves Bosch, the writer behind OMG ¡Qué Rico!

“The heat can be intense, and sometimes a few minutes in the sun can completely melt the ice in your drink,” she says. “I take my Yeti cup everywhere. It's amazing for going to the beach and honestly the best option for keeping your beer cold when you're in the water.”

Nieves also notes that using an insulated cup cuts down on plastic usage, which is more environmentally friendly and keeps the beaches cleaner. Her Yeti is decorated with stickers from her favorite local shops, and she suggests—for a unique souvenir—doing the same, “to showcase the small, local businesses you supported on your trip!”

Reef-safe sunscreen

“People underestimate the strength of the sun here,” says Claudia González, a front desk agent at Palacio Provincial in Old San Juan. To avoid a vacation-ruining burn, and to ensure the island’s surrounding coral reefs stay healthy, choose a reef-safe sunscreen like Supergoop! PLAY or Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense. Both are easy to apply, don’t leave a thick film, and are available in a three-ounce (or under) carry-on-approved size.

A wide-brimmed hat

Some of the local beaches have a dearth of shade, says Claudia González, so it’s wise to wear a hat that will protect your scalp and face, even if you’re consistently reapplying that reef-safe sunscreen. Plenty of Instagram-worthy options abound (we love the Goorin Bros. Vodka Soda straw hat), and if you’re optimizing for packable, the Athleta wide brim sun hat is breathable, water-repellent, and doesn’t take up much room in your bag.

A pair of sneakers

With over 270 miles of coastline, Puerto Rico is home to an array of beautiful beaches. While many are located in front of private resorts, there are countless lesser-traveled public spots that highlight the island’s pristine natural beauty, many with calm waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling. But to visit them, you’ll need to plan ahead.

“If you’re trying to explore our local beaches, bring comfortable sneakers or close-toed shoes,” says Aida Bauzá, Palacio Provincial ambassador. “In order to get there, you usually have to hike a little, and it’s not recommended to go in flip-flops.”

Efrén David Robles, cofounder of Frutos del Guacabo, agrees that sneakers are imperative, adding, “There are so many beautiful places to see [in Puerto Rico] which you can only experience by walking.” One of them is his agro-tourism farm, where you can walk the acres of crops like microgreens and tamarind, visit with the baby goats, and refresh with a homemade limber, a Puerto Rican–style icy treat.

A handheld fan

Pack a fan, either a foldable option you can easily fit in your bag, or a natural fiber, handmade version. Average temperatures hover between 75 and 85 degrees, year-round, and “you never know when heat will strike,” says Lulu Santaliz, a manager at Cool Hope Creamery in Lote 23, a gastronomic park. Or opt for a battery-powered device. About the size of a cell phone, this Tripole Mini handheld fan will cool you down in a snap, whether you’re touring the Unesco World Heritage sites or lounging on a beach chair.

Waterproof shoes

Beyond packing sneakers, waterproof shoes are an ideal option for hiking some of the island’s trails that lead to beaches, caves, or natural swimming pools. “I would recommend bringing a good pair of waterproof shoes,” says resident Lynette Cabrera. “One of my favorite sites in Puerto Rico is El Yunque rain forest, which happens to be the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. National Forest Service. Waterproof shoes are great for hiking the trails and jumping in waterfalls you may come across.”

A driver’s license

While areas like charming Old San Juan, Santurce, and Condado are easy to explore on foot, so much of Puerto Rico’s treasures are a bit farther afield. Since most are reachable in less than a two-hour drive, though, Lulu Santaliz recommends bringing your driver’s license, noting, “If you're older than 25, renting a car might be a good option to be able to explore the island.” (Note: It’s also recommended to book a car prior to visiting, as the inventory goes quickly.)

Some options: El Yunque is about 45 minutes by car from Old San Juan. Or one of the island’s bioluminescent bays—or bio bays, as they’re called—Mosquito Bay on Vieques, the island off the coast of Puerto Rico, Laguna Grande in the northeast in Fajardo, and La Parguera.

The latter, in the southwest in Lajas, about a two-hour drive from Old San Juan, is the only one of the three that allows swimming. Visitors can book a kayak or boat tour in the evening to fully experience the glowing waters, which come from microorganisms called dinoflagellates. Finally, visit the coffee haciendas of the south—about an hour and half away from the city, in Puerto Rico’s mountainous region—to learn about the island’s history of coffee agriculture and production, and to sample some of the best coffee on earth.

Bug-repellent spray

Don’t let pests put a damper on a perfectly pleasant hike through the scenic Toro Negro State Forest or El Yunque. Claudia González of Palacio Provincial keeps natural bug-repellent spray on hand at the hotel’s front desk to lend to visitors who are on their way to places like the rain forest or even just the beach.

Some options include California Baby and Badger Anti-Bug Shake & Spray, or, if you’re not checking luggage, stash these Babyganics single-use wipes in your carry-on. They’re DEET-free, spill-proof, and simple to apply.

Additional Info

  • Source Fortune

Cambodia is aiming to attract more tourists into the country by relaxing covid tests. You can contact our office to learn more about entry regulations because an impactful Globe Aware volunteer vacation awaits you in Cambodia!


 

No more covid tests for fully vaccinated travellers going to Cambodia

TIMESOFINDIA.COM/
TRAVEL NEWS, CAMBODIA
Mar 19, 2022, 12:36 IST

Cambodia has now announced that travellers are not required to take COVID 19 tests to enter the country, thus hoping to boost tourism in the coming months. The country has gone ahead of its neighbours to relax restrictions, so that tourism can get the much needed boost.

The country’s Prime Minister said in a speech, "Now it's the stage to open the economy by learning how to live with COVID.”

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Cambodia has one of the highest vaccination rates in the region, with 92.3 percent of its population being vaccinated against the virus.

However, visitors coming into the country are still required to be fully vaccinated. Moreover, any traveller who is unable to show proof of vaccination, must quarantine themselves for 14 days. Cambodian authorities have asked visitors to test themselves, even though there is no mandatory testing.

Cambodia is also planning to resume the visa on arrival programme, but it has not yet confirmed a date for the same. The visa on arrival programme was suspended throughout the length of the pandemic.

According to the World Bank, Cambodia’s international arrivals took a 90.6 percent dip in the first seven months of 2021. The entrance fees of Angkor Temple Complex, which is one of its most popular tourist sites, also saw a 98.7 percent drop.

Cambodia reported 140 new covid infections, and 3049 deaths on Wednesday.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

Have you ever considered volunteering? Whether it’s for a church, school, or another place, many organizations benefit from (and in some cases, completely depend on) volunteers to help. Volunteers also benefit from donating their time and effort to a cause they support: they gain a better understanding of the situation and culture surrounding the cause –– especially if it’s a volunteer program abroad. If you volunteer in a country where another language is spoken, you’ll also probably start to pick it up and actually learn it!

Beyond these core benefits of volunteerism however, there are also some specific upsides to doing your volunteer work through an NGO, as opposed to independently. Below, we'll get into some of those benefits and explain why, more often than not, you're best off going through an established organization.

ngos

Opportunity

The clearest benefit of volunteering through an NGO, rather than as an individual, is that you'll have more opportunities to work where you're needed. To give some sense of what we mean, among the most notable nongovernmental organizations you can work for are Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, and the international Red Cross. These are sprawling organizations with global reach that can help you to find the kind of work you're looking for and make the impact you want to make –– and they're only a few examples! Others associated specifically with IVPA include Globe Aware, Global Brigades, Good Hope Volunteers, International Service Learning, Projects Abroad, and American Youth Understanding Diabetes Abroad.

In contrast to working with established organizations like these, when you set out as an individual volunteer, finding specific opportunities is up to you, and it's not as easy as it may seem. Particularly if you're looking to go abroad, you may not always be able to contact a given church, school, or community. And even if you can get in touch, there may not be much of a chance to get involved. Which brings us to our next point:

Effectiveness

We just touched on the idea that there may not always be a chance to get involved with an entity you reach out to as an individual. And the truth of the matter is that this is a more complex issue than some might assume. Most of the time, Individual churches, schools, and so on, simply aren't prepared to accommodate and host volunteers by themselves. They may not have space or supplies for you to operate with and there may be issues with language and translation. They often won't have liability insurance, whereas when you work with an IVPA member you're covered by medical and liability insurance. In some cases, they may not even be able to provide meals or accommodations for unprepared travelers. On top of all of these issues, there's also a high likelihood that by volunteering without the support of an organization, you'll be pulling someone away from their own tasks; someone will have to assist or train you, such that you are inadvertently reducing the resource of the school, church, or community that you are trying to help.

The beauty of NGOs, among other things, is that they take all of this into account and have thoroughly established processes in place to make work as comfortable and effective as possible. Indeed, when you volunteer through organizations that have been vetted by quality affirming entities such as IVPA, you're not only supported, but even spared your own costs, in a sense. The cost to participate is tax deductible against your income (as is any related airfare).

Travel

When you travel on your own to volunteer –– even if you mean well and take proper precautions –– there is always the chance that you violate cultural or societal norms you're unaware of. For example, if you're volunteering in Cuba, you may not realize that Cuban culture all but forbids people from accepting charity. However, a "gift of friendship" is acceptable. This is the kind of local detail an NGO will be aware of, and will prepare you for. Generally speaking, these organizations will help you to understand in advance what you're walking into, such that you don't offend, embarrass, or even inadvertently endanger the very people you're trying to help.

Meanwhile, to briefly touch on a more personal perk, there's also something to be said for the opportunity to go abroad! For the most part, NGOs offer the possibility of traveling across borders in order to participate in volunteer projects. While many volunteers had to return home during the pandemic, some NGOs are starting to send volunteers out once more. If you enjoy traveling, volunteering for an NGO can be one of the most rewarding ways to appease your travel bug –– whereas when you volunteer as an individual, it's not quite as easy (or sometimes even as doable) to find a reasonable opportunity to do good work abroad.

Socialization

Humans are social creatures, and we enjoy the company of others. Volunteering for an NGO gives us the opportunity to socialize more than we normally would, which is great news for those of us who have found ourselves rather isolated over the last few years. Volunteering for an NGO whose advocacies you support also means that you’ll be in more contact with like-minded people with similar ideas and beliefs. This not only makes for more effective work on the ground, more often than not, but also opens the door to establishing relationships that can result in more service opportunities in the future.

Language

Have you thought about learning a new language? Studies show that the most effective way to learn a language is to be immersed in it. If you’re keen on learning Spanish, for example, you can look for NGOs that have a presence in a Spanish-speaking country. Chances are, you’ll pick up some of the language passively. Besides, you’ll be in the perfect place to take some courses and learn from native speakers.

Job Opportunities

Having a well-known NGO on your resume can do wonders for your job search. Volunteering often helps you develop certain skills, such as effective communication and critical thinking - which is something recruiters keep an eye out for.

On top of this, remember that NGOs don’t depend solely on volunteers - they also have employees on payroll. An NGO may be more inclined to hire a former or current volunteer from “inside” first before hiring externally, which means that you could possibly work for the NGO if you meet the qualifications for the job.

Volunteering is an extremely rewarding experience that offers an incredible array of benefits. While it may not be for everyone, it’s worth taking a look to see what opportunities are out there and if they (and their benefits) are a good fit for you.

Authored by Rosalie Janelle
Article exclusively submitted to volunteerinternational.org

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Friday, 01 April 2022 02:17

10 most romantic places in the world

Globe Aware destination Hoi An makes it on the list as one of the most romantic places in the world! The location is famous for its lantern-lined streets and well-preserved historic architecture.


The 10 most romantic places in the world

From Montreal and the Maldives to Las Vegas and Lake Malawi, these are the most romantic places in the world according to us

Written by John Bills
Tuesday 8 February 2022

You can never have enough love in your life, especially when the world around us seems more chaotic than ever. Luckily for lovers worldwide, the planet is packed with romantic places that will simultaneously take your breath away and steal your heart, filling the lungs with love and excitement in equal measure. We live in an incredible corner of the universe, that cannot be denied.

From idyllic island paradises to charming cities and vibrant villages, we’ve scoured the globe in search of the most romantic places in the world. The final selection covers the classics while introducing a couple of places you might not be aware of: secret spots for you and yours to plan the rest of eternity together.

1. Montreal, Canada
Swoon. There’s something about magical Montreal that really sets it apart from other cities in North America, something that screams ‘romance’ and promises to never let go. It could be the curious combination of Canadian confidence and European elegance, or it could be the tangible history that sparkles from every corner of the city’s historic heart. In truth, it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as whatever ‘it’ is keeps on shining. Seek out one of the many rooftop bars in the Old Town and soak it all in. 

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2. Herzegovina
With the heart in its name and wine flowing from every corner, Herzegovina remains one of Europe’s final hidden treasures. The use of the word ‘hidden’ isn’t entirely accurate, of course, as any summertime visitor to Mostar, Kravice Waterfalls or Medjugorje will attest, but the passionate southern portion of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a beautiful region filled with romance-friendly adventures for lovers of all shapes and sizes. From exploring wild rivers by kayak to the shimmering allure of the Tekija in Blagaj, Herzegovina is a destination defined by the heart. If the sight of Počitelj doesn’t make you fall head over heels in love, you might want to check your pulse.

3. Venice, Italy
Where else to begin? No city on the planet encapsulates the idyllic concept of romance quite like Venice. There is beauty around every corner here, from sunrise to sunset and beyond, with narrow canals and Renaissance architecture transporting visitors to a rose-tinted wonderland. The romantic restaurants don’t hurt, while the many bridges of Venice seem tailor-made for proclamations of passion. All this without mentioning the inherent romance of a gondola ride? Venice is a city for lovers, old and young.

4. Marrakech, Morocco
With the colours, the smells, the sounds and the sights, Marrakech is the sort of place that reawakens the senses with a cacophony of excitement. Somehow it manages to be forthright and wistful all at the same time, a dizzying destination that is perfect for the passionate, making it a thrilling destination for romantic visitors of all types. It also happens to be known as the City of Luxury, with all the ornate palaces and life-giving spa and wellness options anyone could need.

5. Kyoto, Japan
Tokyo gets all the noise, but Kyoto is where it’s at. The historic and cultural capital of this most fascinating nation, Kyoto is a picture-postcard city of classical Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, traditional wooden houses and imperial gardens. The food is incredible, the people are magnificent, the atmosphere is spellbinding. Kyoto is Japan at its most romantic, with bamboo forests offering a breathtaking backdrop for a starry-eyed stroll. The city has become something of a hotspot for proposals, and it isn’t hard to understand why.

6. Prague, Czech Republic
The City of a Hundred Spires seems to have been built with love in mind. That can be the only takeaway from a moment spent looking over the Czech capital from the viewpoint at Letna Hill, a beer in one hand and beloved in the other. Prague is a postcard city of stories, a famous old wonder that has inspired generations of authors for centuries and will continue to do so as the years fly by. The Old Town gets most of the attention, but don’t be afraid to explore further afield either; each district has its own unique feel, from the modern stylings of Karlin to the grandeur of Vinohrady and beyond.

7. Zanzibar
Zanzibar’s dazzling beaches have long made it a popular honeymoon destination, but there is more to the island than the natural beauty of where sand meets sea meets sun. Traditions are important here, and that makes for a more sedate pace of life in the very best way. Zanzibar is a place where couples can step back and fall in love with what they have all over again, complete with shimmering coral reefs and all the spices the palate can handle.

8. Niagara Falls, Canada/USA
The Honeymoon Capital of the World? That’ll be Niagara Falls. The world’s most famous waterfall is a take-your-breath-away sight if ever there was one, and isn’t that one of the great experiences of love? The thrilling moments of realisation that this person is the one, the sort of experience that always hits different when backed by 3,160 tons of water rushing by every single second. It might not be the most original of honeymoon spots, but who cares about originality when it’s the heart we’re talking about?

9. Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An’s famous lantern-lined streets are an idyllic spot for twilight walks and candid conversations, backed by well-preserved historic Vietnamese architecture that tells plenty of stories. The town’s lantern boat rides are the thing of romantic dreams – a tremendous combination of natural delicacy and impressive confidence – while Hoi An also has one of the best cocktail scenes in the country.

10. Iceland
Iceland can feel like another world, a world filled with all the best bits of nature from thrilling geysers to moon-like craters and more. There’s nowhere quite like it, and it’s that unique atmosphere that brings lovers here in search of something special. It doesn’t get more special than the staggering light show of the Aurora Borealis, an achingly gorgeous experience that everyone should seek out at least once in their lives. The eccentric side of capital Reykjavik is plenty romantic in its own right.

Additional Info

  • Source Time Out

Interested in a Globe Aware volunteer vacation in Kenya? Here’s how to make the most of a trip to this East African nation, from safety and visas to clothing and etiquette.


 

Here are the things you need to know before traveling to Kenya

MEERA DATTANI
Lonely Planet Writer
8 MARCH 2022


Think of Kenya and safari jeeps and beach scenes come to mind, but Nairobi has exciting city life and rich cultural encounters, too.

Here’s how to make the most of a trip to this East African nation, from safety and visas to clothing and etiquette.

Check the visa requirements for Kenya

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many nationalities could obtain a visa on arrival, but now, a visa in advance might be necessary. Check Kenya’s official visa website and allow time to complete the application. Random checks can mean extra questions for some travelers, even after submitting and payment.

You won’t receive an email confirmation of your Kenya visa application or payment, so you need to log in to check its status. Once issued, print a color copy (or two) of the visa and payment and keep them to hand, even for domestic flights, such as between Nairobi and Mombasa. You may also need to upload COVID-19 test results, health status and vaccination records, so check the current entry requirements.

Pack smart for Kenya – it’s not always hot

Early morning safaris can be chilly, so it’s wise to take layers for a trip to Kenya. Similarly, temperatures can drop at night in the highlands, so fleeces and even windproof waterproofs are recommended. On the other hand, staying cool is key by the coast or in the city. Pack cool, breathable fabrics and cover up in the midday sun.

Leave your plastics at home

Kenya banned single-use plastics in 2017, so leave any carrier bags (and preferably single-use plastic water bottles and straws) at home. The bag ban is countrywide – luggage is often scanned so don’t pack shoes or other items in plastic bags. Single-use plastic bottles and straws are banned in national parks – bring a reusable water bottle from home.

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Do you need malaria tablets for Kenya? Probably.

The risk of malaria is low in Nairobi, and in the highlands above 2500m (8200ft), but you should still avoid being bitten. The majority of Kenya falls into a malarial zone, so take advice on which antimalarial is best suited to you between atovaquone/proguanil, doxycycline or mefloquine. Brand names you might be more familiar with include Malarone and Lariam, but check with your physician, pharmacy or travel clinic.

Greet people with “mambo” or “niaje”

“Jambo” is the best-known greeting in Kenya, but if you want to show off your sheng (a Swahili and English combo originating among Nairobi’s younger population), try greeting people with “mambo vipi.” The common reply is “poa.” Alternatively, say “niaje,” to which someone will reply with “niaje.”

Feel free to bargain, but don’t go too far

A sense of humor is essential when bargaining. It’s fine to offer a lower price in markets and some shops – many sellers will start with a higher price, and it can be fun to barter and meet in the middle. Few sellers will accept too low an offer so have some fun with it – just bear in mind what you’re prepared to pay and don’t over-haggle.

Leaving a tip goes down a treat

Tipping isn’t expected in Kenya, but if you’ve had a good meal or service, leaving around 10% is appreciated. In hotels, you can also tip porters and housekeeping staff. Some calculate it at Ksh100 to Ksh200 (US$1 to US$2) a day while others round it up at the end. Keep small change on you for tips and shopping in markets.

If you’re taking a taxi, round up to the nearest 100, but tips are not always necessary. Taxi apps are popular, and you can add a tip at the end of the journey through the app. Avoid giving money in exchange for preferential service.

Be respectful of local communities

Don’t take photos of people without asking permission, particularly in rural areas. If you want to publish any photos, even on social media, it’s respectful to carry a consent form and say “asante” (thank you).

Be particularly conscious around children or other vulnerable people. If you’re given the OK to take a photo, show them the photo. Think twice before visiting a school or another place that would be strange in your home country.

Dress appropriately – but don’t overthink it

Kenya is moderately conservative, but that doesn’t mean you need to cover your shoulders and knees everywhere. In Nairobi, in towns and on safari, shorts, dresses and sleeveless tops are fine to wear, and the same goes for most beach resorts, although walking around in swimwear isn’t appropriate. In Muslim communities such as Lamu Town, dressing more conservatively is advised. Loose clothing can be more comfortable in the heat.

Don’t rush – go with the flow

It’s misleading to suggest the whole of Kenya operates on some slower “Kenya time” – Nairobi can have the same pace and rhythm as any major city. But the heat and humidity of the coastal areas, around Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu for example, can mean life is lived at a more relaxed pace. Bear that in mind before expecting certain tasks and services to be carried out immediately, and instead, go with the flow and enjoy a pole pole (“slowly” in Swahili) way of life.

You can boil the tap water in Kenya and drink it

Tap water in Kenya isn’t off-limits. If you have the facilities, you can boil the tap water – it’s soft and sweet – and drink it once cooled. That’s not always an option, in which case filtered water in restaurants and hotels is safe. You can buy plastic-bottled water, but it’s better to bring your own reusable bottle and filter.

Pack a power bank

Power cuts in Kenya can occur (they’re usually not for long, in most places), so if you rely on your smartphone, take a power bank and ensure it’s always charged. If you’re going on safari, a spare camera battery for a DSLR is handy, as is a decent flashlight in case of power cuts but also when walking around the safari camp at night. In addition to helping you navigate in low light, it will help you look out for insects and snakes. Headlamps are especially handy if you’re camping, for reading and nighttime bathroom trips.

Don’t be scared by headlines, but know your geography

People often ask, “Is Kenya safe for tourists?” Few incidents involve tourists, especially in game reserves and tourist areas, but a few areas are better to avoid, including but not limited to, within 60km (37 miles) of the Kenya-Somali border, Garissa county and Lamu county (excluding Lamu Island and Manda Island – travel by air if you do). Check the latest guidelines from your government before traveling. In Nairobi, as with any city, keep valuables safe and your wits about you.

Keep embassy and consulate details to hand

Wherever you’re from, it’s savvy to know contact details of your embassy or consulate. Take photos of your passport, visa and other documents, such as your vaccination proof, and keep them to hand in your phone and on email. Carry an original form of ID if possible. A driver's license is useful if you don’t want to carry your passport.

Additional Info

  • Source Lonely Planet

South Africa will no longer require fully vaccinated travelers to provide a negative PCR test to enter the country. The country’s president announced the relaxation of travel restrictions as part of a wider easing of Covid-19 measures, which came into effect on Wednesday (23 March). Unvaccinated travelers, including Globe Aware volunteers, will still have to provide a negative PCR test result on arrival.


 

South Africa ends PCR test rule for vaccinated travellers

By Rob Gill
23 March 2022
Contact Reporter

South Africa will no longer require fully vaccinated travellers to provide a negative PCR test to enter the country.

The country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa announced the relaxation of travel restrictions as part of a wider easing of Covid-19 measures, which came into effect on Wednesday (23 March). Unvaccinated passengers will still have to provide a negative PCR test result on arrival.

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“Travellers entering South Africa will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours,” said Ramaphosa during a live TV announcement on Tuesday (22 March).

He added: “All unvaccinated travellers entering the country who want to be vaccinated will be offered a vaccination.”

All travellers arriving in South Africa had previously been required to provide a negative PCR test, regardless of their vaccination status.

South Africa has also removed the rule requiring the wearing of face masks in all outdoor public areas but it remains mandatory in public indoor spaces.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Business Travel News

Travelers, including Globe Aware volunteers, vaccinated for COVID-19 will no longer need a test before traveling to Thailand starting April 1, health officials said Friday. Thailand is keen to restore its lucrative tourism sector, which took a nosedive when most arrivals from overseas dried up since April 2020.


 

Thailand drops pre-arrival COVID test for foreign visitors

Visitors vaccinated for COVID-19 will no longer need a test before traveling to Thailand starting April 1

March 18, 2022
The Associated Press

BANGKOK -- Visitors vaccinated for COVID-19 will no longer need a test before traveling to Thailand starting April 1, health officials said Friday.

Visitors will still need to take a RT-PCR test upon arrival and a self-administered rapid antigen test on the fifth day in the country, said Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesperson for the government’s Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration.

Thailand is keen to restore its lucrative tourism sector, which took a nosedive when most arrivals from overseas dried up since April 2020.

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Neighboring Cambodia, whose tourism industry was similarly battered, announced Thursday that fully vaccinated passengers are no longer required to have a RT-PCR test before arrival. It also removed the need for a rapid antigen test upon arrival.

Thai health authorities are currently coping with record numbers of daily COVID-19 cases and related deaths this year.

There were more than 50,000 new cases reported Friday, slightly more than half confirmed by RT-PCR tests, and the remainder with rapid antigen tests. There were also 80 new deaths.

Since the pandemic started in 2020, Thailand has had a total of around 3.3 million confirmed cases and 24,075 deaths.

The health authorities are concerned about the potential for the spread of the virus next month during the Songkran festival, a raucous holiday that celebrates the Thai New Year.

They have prohibited the traditional splashing of water in the streets and other public areas, and banned the selling and consumption of alcohol at public celebrations.

A major threat from the holiday is mass travel from the cities to home villages in rural provinces. The practice was a huge problem last year, when most Thais had not yet been vaccinated.

Thailand has administered 126 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. At least 54.6 million people, more than 78% of the population, have been vaccinated with at least one jab. Fifty million people have received at least two jabs, and 22 million received booster doses.

Additional Info

  • Source AP

Americans are ready to return to travel in a big way, and as more destinations reopen and drop COVID-19 test requirements, flights are expected to be much busier, which is likely to lead to rising prices. Globe Aware volunteers are recommended to start booking their summer volunteer vacations this spring, in order to take advantage of cheaper flight prices.


Why you should be making your summer travel plans right now

Melissa Klurman
Mar 9, 2022

The official start of spring is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start planning your summer vacation — seriously.

We know it might seem a little early to start locking in plans for travel in June, July and August. But pent-up demand for travel coupled with ongoing staffing shortages, reduced air loads and limited availability could spell a perfect storm of summer sellouts.

Americans are ready to return to travel in a big way, and as more destinations reopen and drop COVID-19 test requirements, hotels and flights are expected to be much busier, which is likely to lead to rising prices, says a Tripadvisor spokesperson.

Even if you can snag your ideal hotel room or preferred flight time, travel booking app Hopper says domestic airfare prices are expected to “increase 7% monthly through June” while “international airfare [could] increase an average of about 5% each month until June.”

Plus, the average spending per trip for 2022 is beyond that of 2019 (up 29% for Americans), according to Tripadvisor, as travelers look to “level up their travel experience.”

This, says Casey Brogan, a consumer travel expert at Tripadvisor, means people “are more willing to splurge on trips and accept higher prices, whether it’s choosing to stay at a luxury hotel or seeking out more local tours and experiential activities.”

In other words: Now is the time to book if you want the most selection and the best prices for a summer getaway.

If you haven’t locked in any summer trips yet, here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming summer travel season — and how to start planning now.

Airfare

For summer getaways, “travelers should start watching airfare now,” says Adit Damodaran, an economist at Hopper.

“We forecast an average 7% increase in domestic airfare each month until June — prices typically peak in June due to summer travel demand. This amounts to a 35% increase in airfare from current prices by the end of May. We’re forecasting domestic flight prices will average $315 round-trip this summer, which is up 9% from last year and up 29% from 2020.”

As far as international travel, especially to Europe, Damodaran doesn’t expect a full return to 2019 demand due to continued COVID-19 restrictions and the crisis in Ukraine (according to MMGY Travel Intelligence, 47% of travelers surveyed want to wait and see how the situation in Ukraine evolves before making plans to visit Europe this year).

But he does say that you can expect international airfare to increase an average of about 5% each month until June.

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National parks

The awe-inspiring natural wonders of the U.S. National Park Service are perennially popular in the summer months, but the pandemic — when travelers were looking for social distancing and outdoor vacations — saw an even bigger uptick in visitors. For many of the parks, you’ll need to reserve well in advance for timed-entry tickets to visit, and for camping or lodging you had better commit now or wait until 2023.

For example, for campsites at Yosemite, reservations become available five months in advance on the 15th of the month at 7 a.m. PT. That means for a reservation in August, you’re going to have to book on March 15.

And, says the National Park Service, “Be aware that nearly all reservations for the months of May through September and for some other weekends are filled the first day they become available, usually within seconds or minutes after 7 a.m.!”

No pressure.

Hotels

If you have your heart set on a particular destination and property, don’t delay booking your trip, says Henley Vazquez, co-founder of the Fora online travel agency.

“Domestically, people who have postponed weddings or big family trips — the trips that were rescheduled so many times in the last two years — are now scheduled for this summer, so availability is getting eaten up really quickly,” says Vazquez. “For instance, Triple Creek Ranch is already sold out May through October.”

This is a trend hotels are already watching play out.

“We’re seeing an earlier booking window this year,” according to Lisbeth K. Yori, the senior sales manager at Cliff House Maine. “Last year,” she says, “we were almost fully committed for the summer by April/May.”

Elsewhere on the East Coast, popular summer destinations are filling up fast.

“We had many new domestic visitors this year, people who normally would have traveled to farther-flung locations, but came and loved their visit, and the ease of domestic travel. Many of them booked ahead for 2022, even before leaving the resort,” says Katherine Hawk of Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

And in New York City, NH Collection New York Madison Avenue general manager Ruth Abellan expects it to be a “good summer” and is already seeing an 80% occupancy rate.

So, what should you do if you get shut out of your first-choice domestic vacation spot? Try the Caribbean or Mexico for a good beach and nice weather, Vazquez advises. “After having very strict [COVID-19] protocols, we’re seeing destinations like the Caymans reopening, plus they’re adding airlift there as well,” she said.

What should you do if you get shut out of your first-choice domestic vacation spot? Try the Caribbean — like the Cayman Islands. (Photo by Michal Ben Ari/Gerry Images)

Home rentals

At this point, you may be thinking of leaning on a vacation rental as your backup plan. But not so fast.

Airbnb has seen a spike in global gross nights booked, increasing from 20% in the last quarter of 2021 to nearly 35% in the first quarter of this year, attributing some of the increase to “the live and work anywhere” trend, which has contributed to a decrease in availability.

You probably already know that booking early will typically give you the best selection of vacation rentals, but home rental site Vacasa says one of the leading factors in determining how far in advance you should book is the size of the home you’ll need.

Larger vacation rentals tend to book up quickest, whereas smaller homes that are well suited for last-minute family getaways will more often be available closer to an arrival date. And that makes sense when you consider all the advance planning that goes into coordinating a large group trip, says Natalia Sutin, vice president of revenue management at Vacasa.

The median booking window was 35 to 40 days, according to Vacasa’s Vacation Rental Search Report from 2021, so if you’re looking for a larger home in particular, it’s helpful to get ahead of the curve and look at least a couple of months in advance.

What’s trending

“People are looking into trips in wide-open spaces to reconnect with nature,” according to Liz Bates, director of adventures and custom travel for luxury rental platform ThirdHome. Specifically, Bates says, “on the domestic side, there has been an increased interest in places like Montana, Utah and Joshua Tree.”

The travel experts at Vacasa are seeing a trend toward beach destinations, with Ocean City, Maryland; Destin, Florida; and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, topping the summer travel list on the East Coast. Out west, the resort community of Sunriver, Oregon, was very popular with cycling enthusiasts.

Abroad, Hopper reports that London; Cancun, Mexico; and Paris were the most popular destinations in searches for international flights.

If you’re searching for those destinations too and can’t find anything, try expanding your search to similar or nearby destinations — but don’t give up on your summer plans.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

Scheduled international flights which were suspended following the outbreak of covid-19 in 2020, will be allowed to operate from 27 March. Globe Aware volunteers can resume any potential summer plans for a volunteer vacation in India.


 

India set to restart scheduled int’l flights from 27 Mar

The resumption of scheduled international flights comes amidst a rise in search queries for popular international tourist destinations.

Mar 9 2022
Rhik Kundu

India suspended scheduled flights in March 2020. However, flights with some countries continued under air bubble pacts

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NEW DELHI : The Centre on Tuesday said scheduled international flights which were suspended following the outbreak of covid-19 in 2020, will be allowed to operate from 27 March.

“After having recognized the increased vaccination coverage across the globe and in consultation with stakeholders, the government of India has decided to resume scheduled commercial international passenger services to and from India from 27.03.2022, i.e., the start of the summer schedule 2022," the ministry of civil aviation said in a statement.

International flights have to strictly adhere to the guidelines of the ministry of health and family welfare.

“After deliberation with all stakeholders &keeping in view the decline in the #COVID19 caseload, we have decided to resume international travel from Mar 27 onwards. Air bubble arrangements will also stand revoked thereafter. With this step, I’m confident the sector will reach new heights!," civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said in a Twitter post.

India had suspended scheduled international flights on 23 March 2020. However, flights with some countries continued under bilateral air bubble agreements.

Currently, India has air bubble agreements with 37 countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the UAE, the UK, and the US.

The suspension of scheduled international flights was reviewed every month till 30 November, before the government announced the resumption of services on 26 November, but had to roll back days later following the third wave of covid-19 infections.

However, a sharp decline in covid cases and a rise in domestic travel prompted the government’s decision to resume international flights.

Air traffic on domestic routes grew 19% sequentially to 7.6 million in February, said Icra on Tuesday. “One major concern that continues to be a drag on the sector is aviation turbine fuel prices, which have seen a sharp increase of about 57% on a Y-o-Y basis till March 2022," it added.

“This is great news for travellers and the industry, especially before the peak summer season," said Aloke Bajpai, co-founder and group CEO of online travel platform ixigo.

Additional Info

  • Source Mint

International demand for travel to Asia Pacific is rapidly increasing due to a relaxation of border restrictions across the region. Globe Aware offers volunteer programs in Thailand, India, Vietnam, Nepal, Cambodia and the Philippines for interested volunteers.


International demand for travel to South East Asia soars

By Linda Fox
14 February 2022


International demand for travel to Asia Pacific is rapidly increasing according to data from Skyscanner Travel Insight.

The company said the momentum followed the relaxation of border restrictions across the region.

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Skyscanner said international bookings in January to destinations including Thailand and Singapore showed signs of pent-up demand.

It added that demand to Australia is also high following the recent border announcement with a 199 per cent increase between 6 February and 7 February. Singapore, meanwhile saw a 19 per cent increase in January compared with December.

Paul Whiteway, senior regional director, Asia Pacific, Skyscanner, said: “The latest border re-opening announcements in Asia Pacific alongside easing of some restrictions at the beginning of the year have resulted in positive travel demand, providing a boost to the industry during a crucial period for seasonal travel.

“Skyscanner’s flight data analysis shows increased international travel bookings to key destinations in the region and strong signs of a sustained momentum.

“The re-opening of Australia’s border to international visitors this week is another huge milestone... our early analysis reveals that many travellers across the globe are already planning their trips for the immediate future.

“Over the coming weeks, we will see markets react to the news, airlines announcing new schedules and building capacity to allow the return of international travel at scale. Travel providers acknowledge that it’s in their best interest to make travel accessible and they will likely continue to offer good value and flexibility in order to meet growing demand and remain competitive. Coupling this with reassurance and further clarity on the latest restrictions and travel requirements, will be the key to maintaining momentum and rebuilding traveller confidence.”

Additional Info

  • Source Benefit News

On March 15th, Vietnam will reopen for those international travelers who test negative for COVID 19 before their departure to the country. There are a few additional requirements Globe Aware volunteers should be aware of, email us at office@globeaware.com to learn more.


Vietnam to reopen for foreign travellers from March 15

TIMESOFINDIA.COM
TRAVEL NEWS, VIETNAM
Feb 19, 2022, 12:08 IST

Vietnam is planning to reopen for foreign visitors as early as March 15. The country’s tourism ministry has proposed this, and also decided to lift almost all of the travel restrictions

Vietnam is planning to reopen for foreign visitors as early as March 15. The country’s tourism ministry has proposed this, and also decided to lift almost all of the travel restrictions from mid March. This is not what was decided upon previously, and it is now reopening three months before expectation.

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Vietnam decided to reopen for those international travellers who test negative for COVID 19 before their departure to the country. Moreover, visitors should have been vaccinated against the virus in the last six months, and 14 days before entering into Vietnam.

Also, it must be noted that visitors have to be quarantined for the first day of the trip, besides carrying travel medical coverage for up to $ 10000. On the other hand, unvaccinated travellers will be permitted to enter the country, but they are required to quarantine for seven days in a hotel. They must also take RT PCR test on the first day, and the seventh day.
Vietnam is cautiously following other southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Philippines, and gradually welcoming back visitors. The country is still dealing with a rise in COVID 19 infections. According to the World Health Organization, the country reported 32000 new cases of COVID 19 cases on Wednesday alone.
Vietnam is quite a popular destination for travellers from across the world, who are looking for a budget friendly destination.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

Experts reveal the top places for seniors to visit for some fun. You can find Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and South Africa on the list, all of them locations with Globe Aware volunteer vacation programs.


 

The Best Warm Weather Travel Destinations for Seniors

EXPERTS REVEAL THE TOP PLACES FOR SENIORS TO VISIT FOR SOME SUN.

By ILANA KAPLAN
FEBRUARY 27, 2022

If you're in your golden years, your tastes have likely changed since your youth. That applies to travel, too. Perhaps palm trees now sound way more appealing than a ski trip (which is totally understandable). If you're looking for a reprieve from freezing temperatures or want to lean into the relaxation of retirement, there's nothing quite like booking a vacation where you can soak up some sun. Whether you're craving a book on the beach, nature, or just the perks of a warmer climate, there are plenty of places where you can get your fill of vitamin D with an itinerary tailored to your current wants and needs. Read on to discover the best warm-weather travel destinations for seniors.

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San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan is the perfect destination for those who are looking for some island time but also want to pair it with a little bit of nature and history, too. The capital touts everything from tropical rain forests and turquoise waters to a 16th-century Spanish colonial historic district. According to Viator, a global platform for booking travel, "the Puerto Rican capital's proximity to El Yunque National Forest makes it easy to escape into the lush wilderness [and has] accessible hiking to waterfalls." If you're in need of some downtime after all that, visit one of San Juan's many lush beaches like Laguna Grande, where you can get a tan.

Hawaii

According to Viator, Hawaii is ideal for seniors because it not only has a "casual and laid-back" vibe but endless activities to do and places to explore. Filled with rich culture, white sandy beaches, volcanic peaks, and gorgeous waterfalls, Hawaii is a stunning getaway where seniors will never be bored and can choose their own adventure. Whether you're looking to indulge in some traditional island food or are looking for an undersea snorkeling trip, each island has something exciting in store.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is the perfect destination for people of all ages, but particularly for multi-generational families. "For grandparents traveling with adult children and grandchildren, there are specialized multi-bedroom units and villas that work wonderfully for large families," says Helen Giontsis, president of private travel tour company Kensington Tours. Even better? It's easy to travel to from the U.S., making Costa Rica's breezy palm trees and crystalline water a popular year-round getaway.


South Africa

With breathtaking views, an abundance of wildlife, and deep-sea diving, seniors will find an exciting escape in South Africa. "You would start your day out looking for animals early in the morning from the comforts of your 4×4 safari vehicle," says Giontsis. "Then during the heat of the day, you can just relax at the pool at your luxury safari lodge while also enjoying some really good gourmet meals." Need to soak up South Africa's beauty comfortably before turning in? Find a nice vista to watch the sunset.

Wyoming

If you're looking for a stateside destination filled with wildlife viewing, let Wyoming indulge you. Yellowstone, in particular, is perfect for photography enthusiasts. "Naturalist guides typically consider this to be the best wildlife safari experience in North America, with opportunities to photograph bison, bighorn sheep, and bald eagles against a mountain backdrop," says Giontsis. This can be an alluring activity if you have limited mobility and need to be in a vehicle. Looking to explore other parts of the state? Grand Teton National Park "offers activities like fly fishing, relaxed river floats, and stargazing that are popular with adults of all ages," adds Giontsis. Regardless of where you're looking to spend your time in the state, Wyoming is beautiful year-round (although the warmest temperatures are from May to September).

Barcelona, Spain

If you're looking for a location that offers the best of both worlds—beach and city—Barcelona has you covered. According to Viator, "Barcelona attracts older travelers with its whimsical architecture, Mediterranean beaches, and round-the-clock dining and drinking scene." It's easy to be captivated by Antoni Gaudi's work around the city, from Parc Güell to the Sagrada Familia. Need a break from the historic part? Pick up some local goods and artifacts from La Boqueria Market, or get a tan at Bogatelli Beach.

Key West, Florida

Florida is a favorite retirement spot for many seniors. But for those who don't end up living there year-round, it can be a solid destination for a break. "Key West, Florida is versatile with slow- or fast-paced activities," says AutoInsurance.org travel expert Dorothea Hudson. "From water sports to sunset cruises, seniors will find activities to meet their needs and pacing." If you're looking to take in the sunset, be sure to visit the dock at Mallory Square. Then, grab some Cuban food before getting some shut-eye.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is ripping through the air travel industry, prompting no-fly zones and other restrictions. Globe Aware volunteers traveling to their program destinations should be on the lookout for potential flight changes and cancellations.


No-fly zones, canceled flights: How Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is disrupting air travel

FEB 26 2022
By Leslie Josephs

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week is ripping through the air travel industry, prompting no-fly zones and other restrictions.

Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian flights moments before Russia invaded early Thursday, choking off an exit point.

docked jumbo jet 1573631 1280

Lufthansa said Saturday that it will suspend flights to Russia for the next seven days and not use Russian airspace “due to the current and emerging regulatory situation.”

“Flights that are in Russian airspace will leave it shortly,” the company said in a statement. “Lufthansa Group continues to monitor the situation closely and is in close exchange with national and international authorities.”

Discount carrier Wizz Air said Friday that it was trying to evacuate crews stranded in Ukraine.

“We are still working hard to get them out at the earliest opportunity,” spokeswoman Christie Rawlings said in an emailed statement. “We are in regular contact with all of the crew and can confirm that many of them have been able to get out of the country via ground transport. The majority of our employees based there are Ukrainian nationals.”

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines previously halted Ukraine flights. KLM told CNBC on Friday that it was also cutting some of its flights to Russia so crews wouldn’t have to overnight there.

No-fly zones for aircraft were extended to Moldova and parts of eastern Russia. Many airlines have avoided eastern Russia since Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian missile there in 2014.

The backlash to Russia’s invasion included British officials banning Russian carrier Aeroflot from landing there, resulting in retaliation from Russia that prohibits British carriers from using its airspace.

Some airlines were rerouting planes around the potential conflict zone in the days before the invasion.

“Any diversions that aircraft have to make around the no-fly zone is going to add to fuel costs,” said Bruce Chan, a logistics analyst at Stifel.

Higher costs would come at a time when airlines are already grappling with a surge in fuel prices.

United Parcel Service started flying a more southerly route around Ukraine last week.

“While this alternate routing adds additional time to the flight, we feel this is a viable alternative to continue to provide safe and efficient operations,” the airline said in a message to pilots on Feb. 21. “We will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional updates to you when we receive them.”

Some international carriers had inquired about fuel and ground support availability at Anchorage Airport in Alaska, a major cargo airport, a spokesman told CNBC. The questions are a sign that airlines are developing contingency plans should more of Russian airspace be closed to them.

Delta Air Lines, for its part, on Friday said it suspended its codeshare agreement with Aeroflot, which allowed the carriers to book seats on one another’s flights.

Additional Info

  • Source CNBC

Romania remains open to our Globe Aware volunteers, as long as there is proof of vaccinations and a provided negative Covid-19 test result. Visit our website to learn more about the Romania program, perfect for a summer abroad.


COVID in Europe: An updated list of travel restrictions for every European country

By Euronews Travel
Updated: 11/02/2022

Most countries have travel restrictions in place in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19.

The latest big changes include:

  • The EU has recommended that from 1 February anyone travelling from within the bloc will need only a basic ‘green pass’ health certificate, which can be obtained via vaccination, recovery, or a recent negative Covid test, and remove the need for self-isolation. However, not all countries have stated that they will adopt this rule so check with your destination.
  • Greece removes testing requirements for vaccinated travellers from 7 February.
  • Face masks are no longer mandatory in the UK.
  • Travellers to the Netherlands with a booster vaccine will no longer have to quarantine from 2 February.
  • Denmark and Norway lift all domestic travel restrictions from 1 February.
  • Switzerland and Austria have relaxed travel restrictions for UK travellers.
  • Sweden has dropped the requirement for proof of a negative test from arrivals.

Albania

  • Measures to contain COVID-19 remain in effect, including night-time curfews from 11pm to 6am, and mandatory face masks indoors and on public transport.
  • All land borders are open and there is no restricted movement around the country.
  • All foreign nationals over the age of six must have one of the following: proof of vaccination, a negative PCR test taken less than 72 hours before arrival, a rapid antigen test taken less than 48 hours before arrival or evidence that you have recovered from COVID-19 within the last six months.

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Andorra

  • Access to Andorra requires passing through either Spain or France, so check their travel restrictions, too, before planning your trip.
  • Travel to and from the country is open, but masks are still required in indoor spaces. Andorra also asks that social distancing be respected.
  • Travellers who intend to stay in Andorra for more than three nights need to present a vaccination certificate, a negative PCR or lateral flow test result, or proof that they have recovered from COVID-19.

Austria

  • One of three documents is required to enter the country - a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours, a vaccine certificate or proof of past infection.
  • However, only proof of vaccination or past infection will be accepted to enter any type of accommodation, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theatres and to use cable cars or ski lifts. A negative COVID-19 test will not be sufficient.
  • If you are travelling from a country not on Austria’s safelist you will need to complete a pre-travel clearance form. You can find the full list of safe countries and regions here.
  • Austria is connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • A curfew is in place for restaurants from 10pm to 12am.
  • Masks are required on public transport and in indoor spaces.

Belarus

  • It's still possible to travel to Belarus by air under certain restrictions, but land travel for leisure is currently banned.
  • At the moment, most countries are considered high risk but fully vaccinated arrivals are exempt from restrictions.
  • All public spaces and tourist destinations are open with some restrictions in place.
  • Foreign arrivals who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to do a PCR test 72 hours before entry. This rule still holds for those above six who are not vaccinated.
  • Masks are compulsory on public transport.

Belgium

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Everyone entering the country must fill in a Passenger Locator Form, except if you are staying in Belgium for less than 48 hours.
  • The rules for testing and quarantine vary depending on where you are travelling from, where you have been in the last 14 days and your vaccination status. The official government websiteis the best source of information on Belgium's rules.
  • Masks are no longer required outdoors but remain compulsory in indoor spaces such as shops, places of worship and public transport.
  • People entering bars, restaurants, cafes and other indoor must show their COVID-19 safe status through the Belgian Covid Safe Ticket (CST) system.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina are open to tourists as long as they can present a negative PCR result, issued no less than 48 hours before travel, or proof of vaccination.
  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and cafes are open, along with most other businesses.
  • People must wear masks in outdoor and indoor public spaces and on public transport.

Bulgaria

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test. Many EU countries are now on Bulgaria's red list, however with further requirements for entry.
  • Bulgaria is operating a colour-coded system for international travel.
  • A negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before travel is necessary for entry.
  • The country has introduced a 'dark red' category with more stringent requirements for entry.
  • There are no restrictions on travel between cities, and police-operated checkpoints have ceased. The leisure and entertainment sector is either on lockdown or operating at reduced capacity.

Croatia

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • All passengers coming from an EU/EEA country on the 'green list' are allowed into Croatia, as long as they can show a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before departing, or a vaccination certificate.
  • Failing to provide any of the above documents, travellers have the obligation to isolate themselves for 7 days on arrival in Croatia. This isolation can be shortened by obtaining a negative result in a PCR test or rapid antigenic carried out in Croatia.

Cyprus

  • Cyprus has toughened its COVID-19 screening for all travellers, now requiring them to present a negative PCR result taken within 48 hours of departure. Those aged 12 and above must also take a PCR test on arrival at the airport, quarantining until the results are back from the lab.
  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Cyprus is also operating a 'SafePass' to access public spaces, where face masks must be worn.
  • Cyprus Flight Passmust be obtained by all arrivals, along with a negative PCR test for orange and red list arrivals.

Czech Republic

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • All travellers are required to fill in the Passenger Locator Formand present it upon arrival.
  • Czech Republic separates countries into categories with varying entry requirements, the full lists are available here.

Denmark

  • All domestic COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted. Masks will no longer be a legal requirement and you will not need to show an EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC) to enter restaurants, museums and bars.
  • Travellers will no longer have to present a post-arrival test or undergo mandatory quarantine.
  • All foreigners and non-residents entering Denmark must continue to test before arrival. This can be a PCR test taken 72 hours before arrival, or an antigen test taken 48 hours before arrival.
  • Different rules may apply for high risk countries, check if there are any restrictions for the country you are travelling from here.

Estonia

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • A 10-day quarantine period will be applied if you are arriving from an EU/EEA country with an infection rate higher than 150 cases per 100,000 of the population in the last 14 days.
  • Travel documents and medical symptoms are checked at the borders.

Finland

  • Finland has ended all travel restrictions for travellers from other EU and Schengen Area countries.
  • Those arriving from outside of these areas are required to present proof of full vaccination or proof of recovery from COVID-19 within the past six months, along with a negative COVID-19 test taken less than 48 hours prior to arrival.
  • Finnish citizens and residents, or those arriving for 'compelling reasons' do not have to show a negative test on arrival.
  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • The Finnish Border Guard gives advice on cross-border traffic by phone and email. The service is available in Finnish, Swedish and English on weekdays between 8.00 and 16.00 at +358 295 420 100. Questions can also be sent by email to rajavartiolaitos@raja.fi.

France

  • France has now lifted its ban on UK tourists. Brits no longer need a 'compelling' reason or have to isolate on arrival. Full details on the new rules are here.
  • France requires all UK travellers to present a negative COVID-19 test - either antigen or PCR - taken within 24 hours before departure. Antigen tests must be certified by a laboratory and NHS lateral flow test kits are not allowed.
  • France is connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • France is operating a 'green pass' for entry into public spaces.
  • Non-vaccinated visitors from the EU need to present a negative test taken 24 hours before travel.
  • Unvaccinated passengers travelling from the UK to France by Eurostar will be asked to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival at Gare du Nord.
  • From 28 February, masks will no longer be required in restaurants, cafes and other inside spaces.

Germany

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Germany is operating a 'green pass' for entry into public spaces.
  • Travellers entering the country need to fill out a digital registration formbefore they travel and must have proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test. Full details here.
  • Unvaccinated travellers from high-risk countries will have to self-isolate for up to ten days on arrival in Germany. This can be shortened by submitting a negative test on or after the fifth day of quarantine. Arrivals from these countries will also have to register on Germany’s Digital Entry Portal.
  • UK tourists who are fully vaccinated are allowed into Germany without showing a negative COVID-19 test or quarantining for 14 days on arrival. The UK will also be classified as a high-risk area, according to a statement on the German embassy's website.
  • Arrivals from other "areas of variant of concern"are subject to different rules, detailed here.
  • German regions have some authority to set their own restrictions leading to new restrictions being put in place since mid-November. It is best to research where you are going to find out what restrictions are in place at the time, as they can change at short notice.

Greece

  • From 7 February fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test to enter Greece.
  • Unvaccinated travellers will still require a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours.
  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC).
  • Beaches are open but people must socially distance themselves. Masks must be worn in all indoor public places.
  • All arrivals must fill in a Passenger Locator Form.

Hungary

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Social distancing rules are no longer in force, but people must wear face masks in hospitals and 'social institutions'. They must be worn on public transport too.
  • Curfews are no longer in place. Shops and service providers are now open as normal.

Iceland

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Visitors from other countries must be fully-vaccinated or recovered, and present a negative PCR or antigen test taken 72 hours or less before arriving in Iceland.

Ireland

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • If you are fully vaccinated or have proof of recovery, arrivals in Ireland are no longer required to present a negative antigen or PCR test.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated, you will still be required to show a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before travel.
  • Travellers must also fill out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) before departure.
  • Only people who are fully vaccinated, or who have proof of recovery from COVID-19 in the past six months, will be able to enjoy indoor hospitality.

Italy

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Italy has a simple questionnaire to fill in, which will instantly give you the rules to follow based on your situation.
  • Italy has extended its state of emergency until the end of March, which gives the government greater powers to implement new laws at short notice.
  • Italy now requires a 'super green pass' to enter hotels, bars, restaurants, cafes, use public transport and the majority of indoor venues. This super green pass is only available to people who are fully vaccinated, unlike previously when proof of a negative test was sufficient. Italian citizens and residents can obtain green passes in many ways, but for visitors, a vaccination certificate from your home country will be accepted in its place.
  • The country is colour coded, with most regions currently in the lowest-risk white zone, meaning outdoor dining is allowed and hotels are open.

Kosovo

  • All arrivals to Kosovo are required to demonstrate that they have either received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccination or proof of two doses and a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival.
  • Medical staff are present at border crossings and you may be subject to a health check, especially if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • These countries are marked as red or orange on the official ECDC map here.

Latvia

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Latvia is operating a 'green pass' for access to public spaces.
  • Everyone who intends to enter Latvia is required to complete and submit an electronic form no earlier than 48 hours before entering Latvia.
  • For travellers from high-risk countries outside of the EU, EEA, Switzerland and the UK who are not vaccinated and have not recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months, travel is only allowed for essential reasons.
  • All arrivals must show a negative PCR test performed no more than 72 hours before flying to be allowed to enter Latvia.

Liechtenstein

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • For the most part, the tourism industry is operating and the usual COVID-19 measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing apply in public spaces.
  • Liechtenstein follows Switzerland's travel advice, so information about travel in either country can be found here.

Lithuania

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Foreign nationals travelling to Lithuania must complete an online registration form no earlier than 24 hours before they begin their journey.
  • A 10-day quarantine is in place for non-EUDCC arrivals.

Luxembourg

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Luxembourg is operating a 'green pass' for access to public spaces.
  • There is no requirement to quarantine when entering Luxembourg. However, if you do not have evidence of a negative test or submit to a rapid antigen test at the airport (which costs €10), you will need to self-isolate for 14 days or until you can show a negative test.

Malta

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • All passengers must complete a passenger locator formbefore travelling to Malta.
  • Malta is still operating a traffic light system that will determine which restrictions you will be subject to when you arrive.
  • Currently, there are no countries on the green list. Arrivals from countries on the red list (all countries) are required to present a recognised vaccination certificate.
  • Failure to provide a vaccination certificate will result in testing on arrival and quarantine. Travelling from countries on the 'dark' red list is only possible upon authorisation from the public health authorities.
  • Only fully vaccinated people in possession of a recognised vaccination certificate are exempt from quarantine.
  • Visitors from the UK to Malta who have not been fully vaccinated will have to quarantine for 14 days.

Moldova

  • Most hotels are open with no restrictive measures in place.
  • Private events such as weddings or birthday parties are not allowed, and nightclubs are closed.
  • Regular updates on travel restrictions, which depend on where you're travelling from, come from the border police website here.

Monaco

  • Monaco is open for tourists and is following the EU traffic light system to determine restrictions for arrivals.
  • Visitors have to present a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours before arrival. In the absence of a negative test, a quarantine will be enforced.

Montenegro

  • Evidence of a negative PCR test taken 72 hours prior to travel, proof of recovery from COVID-19 or proof of full vaccination with an EU approved vaccine is needed for entry into Montenegro.
  • Arrivals to Montenegro with none of the above will need to isolate for 14 days.

Netherlands

  • From 2 February all travellers who have received a booster vaccine at least seven days before their trip to the Netherlands will no longer have to quarantine.
  • Unvaccinated travellers, as well as passengers who haven't received their booster dose, will still be required to quarantine for 10 days unless their country of origin is on the exemption list.
  • No negative test or quarantine period is required for visitors arriving from "safe" countries across the EU, Asia, and Oceania. A full list can be found here.However, all passengers must show their digital vaccine certificate.
  • All other arrivals, except some in transit, must present a negative PCR test, no older than 72 hours and fill in a health declaration form.
  • Travellers from high-risk countries who have received a booster dose will have to fill out a quarantine statement, which can be found online.
  • Restaurants, bars and cultural venues reopened on Wednesday 26 January but there is a 10pm curfew in place.
  • Wearing a face mask is advised in any place where it is not possible to stay 1.5 metres apart. This now also applies to busy outdoor places such as shopping streets. People are now advised to wear disposable masks.
  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Full details for requirements for those in transit are available here.

North Macedonia

  • The borders are open in North Macedonia.
  • Bars, restaurants and cafes are open for business with social distancing and extra hygiene measures in place.
  • Other businesses including shops and hairdressers are open.

Norway

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Norway has removed all mandatory testing requirements at its borders.
  • Everyone travelling to the country must still fill out an online registration formprior to arrival.
  • Masks are compulsory in public spaces for everyone over the age of 12 unless you are exempt.

Poland

  • Capacity is limited in shops, bars and restaurants.
  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • UK travellers and anyone else from non-Schengen countries must provide evidence of a negative pre-departure test (PCR or antigen) taken within 24 hours before arrival.
  • Arrivals from Schengen countries must show proof of full vaccination on arrival. If they do not, they will have to quarantine for 10 days.
  • traveller locator formis required if you travel by plane.

Portugal

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Travel from non-EU/EEA countries (excluding the UK and some others) is only allowed for essential purposes.
  • It is mandatory to prove full vaccination status to enter restaurants, tourist venues and accommodation.
  • Face masks must be worn in public and social distancing and extra hygiene measures are in force in all public settings.
  • Similar measures have been adopted in the archipelago regions of Azores and Madeira.

Romania

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Hotels, guesthouses and other tourist accommodations are open and subject to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Museums, cultural sites and tourist attractions are open along with restaurants, cafes and clubs.
  • Locals and visitors must wear a mask when in indoor public spaces, as well as while in crowded outdoor gatherings.

Russia

  • All arrivals into Russia will be temperature checked and will be required to provide a negative PCR test result dated within 48 hours prior to arrival. This applies regardless of vaccination status.
  • All foreign passengers must complete a travel form before arriving in Russia. These are usually handed out by cabin crew on arriving flights.
  • Testing and quarantine requirements vary depending on where you depart from with entry from some countries currently not allowed so be sure to check before you leave.
  • Bars, restaurants and tourist attractions are now open.

San Marino

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • If you are accessing San Marino through Italy, you’ll need to check Italy’s travel advice before you set off.
  • Restaurants, bars, cafes and other leisure facilities are open with social distancing measures and face mask requirements in place. Gatherings - defined as groups of over 10 people where social distancing cannot be maintained - are still strictly forbidden.

Serbia

  • All arrivals to Serbia must provide a negative PCR test performed no more than 48 hours before departure to be allowed entry a vaccine certificate or certificate of recovery from the virus. Without these, you may be subject to a 10-day quarantine.
  • Travellers arriving from high-risk countries also have to self-isolate and take mandatory tests within 24 hours and after 7 days of arrival. They will also need toregister with Serbia's e-Health portal.
  • Restaurants, cafes and bars are allowed to serve customers in their outdoor spaces and indoors at reduced capacity.

Slovakia

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Travellers will also need to register their arrival via an online form.

Slovenia

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Slovenia has a traffic light system in place. If you’re coming from a 'red list' country, you’ll be asked to quarantine for 10 days when you arrive.
  • COVID-19 restrictions vary between municipalities.

Spain

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Antigen tests are now accepted instead of PCRs for travellers from countries on the list of risk zones - including France and Germany - while no tests are required for low-incidence areas.
  • Travellers from the UK must show proof of being fully vaccinated. This means you must have received the second dose at least 14 days before arrival. Children under 12 years old are exempt when travelling with an adult. This rule applies to the whole of Spain, including the Canary Islands and the Balearics.
  • If your last vaccination was more than 270 days ago you will also need a booster to enter the country or you will be considered unvaccinated.

Sweden

  • Connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • UK and non EU/EEA arrivals are no longer banned, with the exception of those who do not have proof of being fully vaccinated, having recovered from COVID, or a negative PCR test from the previous 72 hours.
  • Most of the economy remains open with social distancing, face masks and extra hygiene measures in force.

Switzerland

  • Vaccinated and recovered travellers are no longer be required to take a pre-travel PCR test.
  • Vaccinated arrivals from outside the Schengen area will be refused entry unless they are coming for work or exceptional reasons.
  • Unvaccinated travellers who qualify to enter will still have to take a test prior to visiting the country but won't have to take post-arrival tests.
  • The rules are different if you are transiting through Switzerland. Check herefor full details.
  • All arrivals need to complete an entry form.
  • Switzerland is connected to the EU Digital COVID Certificate (EUDCC), which allows restriction-free travel across all EU and EEA countries following proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test.
  • Switzerland has a larger permitted list of countries than most European countries. It is updated regularly here.

Turkey

  • Most travellers to Turkey aged 12 years and above must have proof of a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of arrival, an antigen test within 48 hours, or be fully jabbed.
  • All arrivals will be subject to a medical check for symptoms of COVID, including temperature checks, and may be asked to take random PCR testing on arrival.
  • Public and hospitality services are open.
  • Outdoor mask-wearing is mandatory.

Ukraine

  • All visitors must have health insurance that covers COVID-19.
  • Entry restrictions depend on whether you’re travelling from a ‘green’ or ‘red’ zone country.
  • Ukraine is operating a colour-coded regional system, in place until at least the New Year. Social distancing and indoor mask-wearing are mandatory in all zones.

United Kingdom

  • From 11 February, fully vaccinated travellers and children under 18 no longer need to test upon arrival in the UK. Pre-departure tests are also not required for fully vaccinated travellers.
  • Unvaccinated travellers will still need to test before leaving for the UK and within 2 days of arrival. However, they will not need to isolate unless their test is positive.
  • All arrivals into the UK must fill in a passenger locator form.
  • Face masks are no longer mandatory in UK venues, though some locations and forms of public transport may still ask you to wear them.
  • There are currently no countries on the UK's red list. This follows the removal of 11 African countries earlier in December as the Omicron variant spread. Arrivals from these nations no longer have to go into hotel quarantine.
  • Rules for travel into and out of Wales are available here.
  • Rules for travel into and out of Scotland are available here.
  • Rules for travel into and out of Northern Ireland are available here.

Additional Info

  • Source Euronews Travel

India has done away with Covid-19 testing and quarantine for fully vaccinated passengers from 82 countries, which include the US. Globe Aware volunteers can now consider booking a spring break in the beautiful city of Jaipur!


 

India relaxes entry norms for travelers from 82 countries, no testing or quarantine from next week

TNN
Feb 10, 2022

MUMBAI: India has done away with Covid-19 testing and quarantine for fully vaccinated passengers from 82 countries, which include the US and the UK. Under the new guidelines issued by the union ministry of health and family welfare on Thursday, India has also done away with its classification of `at risk' countries as well. The new norms will come into effect from 00.01 hours on February 14.

The new guidelines will replace the ones issued on January 20, under which passengers from all countries had to undergo an RT-PCR test within 72 hours of undertaking the journey. The January 20 guidelines are currently followed and under this, passengers from `at risk' countries have to undergo another RT-PCR test on arrival. If they tested negative, they would have to home quarantine for a week and had to undergo another RT-PCR test on the eighth day of arrival into India.

From Monday next week though, fully vaccinated passengers from 82 countries can fly into India without testing and quarantine, if they are vaccinated and free of symptoms, that is. The 82 countries include those that have agreement with India on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates of nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccines, said the guideline.

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"Similarly, there are countries which presently do not have such an agreement with India, but they exempt Indian citizens fully vaccinated with nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccines. On the basis of reciprocity, the travellers from only such countries which provide quarantine-free entry to Indians will be allowed for relaxation under certificate of completing full primary vaccination schedule of Covid-19 vaccination," it said adding that the list of countries whose fully vaccinated passengers are permitted to travel into India sans tests will be updated from time to time.

The travel industry welcomed the move. "Such a move shall infuse confidence in the industry, as well as the travelers, who would look at India as a must-visit destination, especially post-pandemic. It will also help Indian tourism regain and build its market share to pre-Covid levels," said Jay Bhatia, vice president of Travel Agents Association of India.

Under the latest guidelines passengers from 82 countries which include Sweden, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Spain, US, Turkey, UK. Thailand, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Qatar, Canada, Bangladesh, Oman and Australia among others will only need to show proof of vaccination.

"All travelers will have to submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal (https://www.newdelhiairport.in/airsuvidha/apho-registration) before the scheduled travel, including last 14 days travel details," said the guideline, referring to an existent norm will continue.

Passengers from these 82 countries who aren't vaccinated will have to undergo an RT-PCR test within 72 hours of journey and upload the test report on the government portal. Those with vaccination certificates will only need to upload the said document onto the portal.

"Each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution, if found otherwise. They should also give an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to ministry of civil aviation, government of India, through concerned airlines before they are allowed to undertake the journey that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority any post arrival requirement to undergo home/institutional quarantine/ self-health monitoring, as warranted," the guideline added.

On arrival, thermal screening will be carried out at the airport, the self-declaration form filled online shall be shown to the airport health staff, it said. The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to medical facility as per health protocol. "If tested positive, their contacts shall be identified and managed as per laid down protocol.. Contacts of the suspect case are the co-passengers seated in the same row, 3 rows in front and 3 rows behind along with identified cabin crew," the guideline said.

Apart from this, about 2% of the total passengers in the flight shall undergo random post arrival testing at the airport on arrival. If such travellers are tested positive, their samples should be further sent for genomic testing, they shall be treated/isolated as per laid down standard protocol. "All travellers will self-monitor their health for next 14 days of arrival," it adds.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

Not only do we provide insurance with your Globe Aware volunteer vacation abroad, we ensure a safe week in your program destination. If you're concerned as a solo female traveler, email us at office@globeaware.com and we are happy to help address your questions!


 

10 Best Solo Travel Tips And 10 Top Destinations For Women, According To Experts

Take it from women who've been there, done that, had the best time ever.

BY MOLLIE DAVIES
FEB 7, 2022

Whether dipping your toes in the Sulu Sea or riding horseback through the Tuscan hills, there is so much of the world to explore—and doing it alone means exactly at your own pace. Solo travel is becoming increasingly more attractive for many reasons: You get to meet new people while doing things your way, spend intimate time with yourself, and rest without feeling guilty.

If you've ever thought about embarking on your own version of Wild or Eat, Pray, Love, you're (ironically) not alone. A whopping 84 percent of solo travelers are women, according to studies led by Booking.com and Condor Ferries. In fact, two thirds of all travelers are women, and 80 percent of all travel decisions are made by women, the George Washington University School of Business reports. Plus, solo travel was rated the second-most popular category of travel by respondents planning future trips in a 2020 survey conducted by travel company Cox & Kings.

Of course, a solitary sojourn poses its own challenges, but "traveling solo is one of the most empowering and fulfilling adventures women can embark on," says Mar Pages and Megan Jerrad of Solo Female Travelers. "It not only opens the senses to new smells, sights, and sounds, but the soul to different perspectives and ways to live life, thus contributing to making the world a more open, tolerant, and empathetic place."

But, before you book that plane or train ticket, here are the 10 best tips and 10 top destinations for solo female travelers—from women who've been there.

1. Just do it.
"It will never be the perfect time, so make now the time to live your travel dreams," says Amanda Black of The Solo Female Traveler Network. While it would be nice to receive a divine signal to get on that plane, if you keep waiting around for that moment when you finally have enough money, your trip is expertly planned, and all the stars align, you'll never get anywhere. Take the leap, and trust that the memories you make along the way will be worth it.

2. That said, it doesn't hurt to start small.
Many prospective travelers make a New Year's resolution to stop waiting on others and take their first solo trip, but then become overwhelmed with where to start. Pages and Jerrad recommend starting small, perhaps with an overnight trip to a nearby city or a weekend trip somewhere in the same country.

Reduce the number of changing variables by going somewhere where the culture is the same as back home, and then increasingly change these variables by next going somewhere where the language or culture is similar (e.g. from the US to Canada). This will help you figure out if solo travel is right for you and build your confidence to travel further. Eventually, you'll feel like a pro, ready to set off to an international destination with a completely different culture.

3. Stash cash in multiple places.
Money is a must when traveling (sad, but true!), so ensuring yours stay secure amid every adventure should be top of mind. "Keep some in your wallet, of course, but that could potentially get lost or stolen," says Black. She also recommends stashing some in your shoes, a hidden pocket in your clothes, and an obscure corner of your backpack. If your day bag gets stolen, you will still have backup bucks in your hotel room.

4. Download and sign up for a safety app.
Having "spent a lot of time last year testing and assessing a variety of safety apps and devices designed for women to call for help in case of an emergency," Pages emphasizes the importance of these tools for solo female travelers. Her top recommendation: UrSafe. (As a result of their app testing, Solo Female Travelers entered into a partnership with UrSafe where members can try the app for free for 30 days.)

The app has a voice-activated safety word that will contact emergency services and/or the police or private security services, depending on what country you're in. Unlike other apps or devices, you don't have to do anything beyond saying the word you have preset, and the camera of your phone will immediately start streaming a video of the situation to your safe contacts. For $2-4 a month, you can stay safe when traveling or wherever you live as UrSafe can be used even when walking home from work. Oh, and these apps also allow someone to track your location, so you can allow loved ones to know where you are and that you're safe. Peace of mind = priceless.

5. Travel on the shoulder season.
ICYDK, shoulder seasons are the sweet spot between the busy tourist season and the low season (which probably has bad weather). It's "the best time to travel to get thinner crowds, good weather, and cheaper prices," says Black.

6. Get travel insurance.
The prospect of getting sick—alone—in a foreign place is daunting enough. Add the challenges, both financial and emotional, of paying for hospital bills or worrying if you can even afford them, and it's enough to give you a headache...on top of your original ailment.

Take it from women who've been there: "I broke my arm in South Africa and needed surgery, which cost upwards of $20,000 and had me off work for a month," says Pages. "My insurance paid for everything including my mother flying over." On the flip side, Jerrad had an asthma attack without insurance in Eastern Europe and was double stressed making sure nobody called a pricey ambulance to take her to a hospital.

More recently, the duo have seen an increasing number of their community members stranded abroad because of COVID-19, facing large hospital and quarantine bills—even if perfectly well. But word to the wise shopper: It's not enough to buy insurance, says Pages and Jerrad. You need to read the fine print and see if the policy will cover you in case you test positive but are asymptomatic, and in case you are quarantined because of someone you came into contact with on your travels.

7. Research safety in your destination.
Some cities or countries have specific safety concerns that are important to know before you go. For example, sometimes hailing a random tuk tuk or taxi won’t be safe. Black recommends "asking your hostel or hotel to arrange a ride, and always keep your map open to be sure you are going in the right direction."

In other places, mugging tourists may be common, so she advises against carrying a bag. But, if you need one for your travel essentials, "look at a slash-proof option with RFID pockets, especially [if you're traveling] in Europe or cities where petty theft and pick-pocketing is common," says Black.

8. Always get a SIM card with data as soon as you land.
If you have a SIM card and an internet connection, you can address a lot of the worries and fears that solo female travelers commonly share with Pages and Jerrad: loneliness (listen to music or an audiobook or text with friends), fear or embarrassment of eating alone (schedule a video or phone call with a pal), personal safety (an app like UrSafe comes in clutch), fear of getting lost (Google Maps and car-hailing apps, FTW!).

And while it's always a good idea to familiarize yourself with key phrases in the local language, Google Translate can help bridge any language barrier that may come up along your travels. The pair praise the translation service's ability to have a full conversation in another language: "I've done it more than once," says Pages.

9. Save money on accommodations.
There are many creative ways to make your travel budget stretch further, and trying to save on what is usually the biggest expense—lodging—is the first place to start. "Try house sitting for a free place to stay in exchange for watering plants or watching pets," says Black. Road tripping and opting for camping or hostels over hotels for even just part of the trip will save you big, too.

10. Plan, but leave room for serendipity.
"It's a good idea to have a general sense of what you will see or do, but it's also important to leave space to breathe and for the unexpected to find you," says Pages. Some of the duo’s best stories from their respective solo travels come from unexpected moments where they met someone new, discovered a cool place that wasn't marked on any maps, or stumbled upon a street musician who sang amazing opera in a back alley. If you are on a check-list trip, you will miss those opportunities—and they're usually the ones you remember most.

What are the best destinations for solo female travelers?

1. Iceland
Black, Pages, and Jerrad agree that Iceland is a top spot for solo female travelers because it's super safe with many roads that are easy to navigate. Not to mention, the gorgeous country will take your breath away. (I mean, the Northern Lights? C'mon!) Iceland may be an expensive travel destination, but it's one of the world's most equal countries for women.

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2. Barcelona and surrounding areas
There is something for everyone within the city and surrounding areas, from culture and food to history and adventure to even the mountains and the beach, says Pages and Jerrad. In fact, Barcelona is a great first solo trip destination, based on the respondents to Solo Female Travelers' survey in 2020 and 2021. It's not only very safe for women, but also very affordable. Plus with 40 million visitors a year, it's easy to meet other travelers and locals. If you want to get out of the city and explore more of Catalonia, the public transportation options and various day trips means you can enjoy medieval villages, beach towns, holy mountains, and so much more.

3. Greeces Cycladic islands
Greece became an incredibly popular destination in 2020, ranking among the top three bucket list destinations among members of the Solo Female Travelers community, says Pages and Jerrad. Even better: The country has retained this title in 2021. With white washed fishing villas and those gorgeous blue domes, this well-loved sun and sea combo is known for its affordability. Women can indulge in great food, long hours of sunshine (it only rains 20 days a year in Santorini), quaint spots for photo ops and Instagrammable flying dress photo shoots, shopping, and more.

4. New Zealand
Another destination recommended by all three experts, this island is easy to navigate, and is so beautiful that it feels like something out of a picture book (or, ya know, a Lord of the Rings film). The ​​jaw-dropping nature and breathtaking landscapes offer some of the best outdoor experiences life has to offer—glow worm caves, anyone?—plus, the friendliest people.

5. Tuscany
Eat, Pray, Love truly left a mark on the rolling hills of Tuscany, turning it into both a top choice for many a female traveler's first solo trip, as well as an overall bucket list destination, says Pages and Jerrad. Whether you have specific experiences in mind or just want to leave it all up to chance, you can likely plan to enjoy the slow life among wine country, olive groves, undulating green hills, and quaint medieval villages.

6. Galapagos
Nature lover ready to spread your wings? The islands are full of incredible wildlife and pretty safe for women traveling solo. Choose a boat tour to be guided around the islands for hikes, go snorkeling, or join nature walks, recommends Black. You can also island hop using ferries whenever you want a change of scenery and to see even more amazing animals.

7. Bhutan
This hardly-visited country is the spiritual center of Buddhism and the place where GDP has been replaced with Gross Domestic Happiness, says Pages and Jerrad. The peace and calm that one can experience in Bhutan is the perfect background for anyone going through the process of self-reflection and self-healing. For example, Pages visited Bhutan solo after being diagnosed with a serious condition and returned hopeful and at peace with the healing journey she was about to begin.

8. Costa Rica
In recent years, Costa Rica has climbed to the top of the bucket list for many travelers, and has become a very popular destination throughout 2021 among Solo Female Travelers members, says Pages and Jerrad. The country features stunning nature and wildlife and has become a favorite destination for wellness retreats.

9. Japan
The language barrier may feel intimidating, but Japan is so organized and easy to navigate, from ordering food to using the public transportation system, says Black. It is safe, clean, beautiful, and runs more or less on schedule. A Type-A solo traveler's dream!

10. Maldives
Everyone thinks of the Maldives as the ultimate couple's destination, but that's no longer the case, says Pages and Jerrad. With more than a thousand hotels and resorts in the Maldives, there is something for everyone, including those who want to party. Plenty of travelers vacation here solo, whether to take a trip purposefully focused on self-care or simply to disconnect from it all and enjoy a beautiful place. Plus, more and more resorts are offering solo packages complete with butlers who will take your picture when requested and in-villa BBQs for one. So, if you're going to treat yourself (and you should), there's no better place.

Additional Info

  • Source Women's Health

For the first time in 60 years, the Trans Bhutan Trail is reopening in April 2022 to travelers across the world. Globe Aware volunteers interested in exploring this breathtaking trail can email office@globeaware.org to learn more about our Bhutan program.


 

Trans Bhutan Trail is reopening for travellers after 60 years

TIMES OF INDIA
Jan 29, 2022

For the first time in 60 years, the Trans Bhutan Trail is reopening to travellers. The 402 km trail connects 9 districts, 28 local governments, 2 municipalities, one national park, and 400 historic and cultural sites.

The trail is opening from April 2022, and will allow travellers from across the world to walk this breathtaking trail. The restoration work of the Trans Bhutan Trail has been funded by the Bhutan Canada Foundation, which is the principal donor of this project.

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Travellers will be able to explore 18 major bridges, and even climb 10000 stairs, besides being able to take mountain bikes through the route.

The trail will take you through the incredible eastern Himalayan region. It is an opportunity to explore the scenic beauty of Bhutan, something that not travellers don't get to explore in their Bhutan trips. The trail has a 500-year old history, with historic and cultural sites all along the route. It used to serve as a pilgrimage route for Buddhists who were looking to explore sacred destinations in Tibet and the western part of Bhutan.

Tourists can take guided walking and biking tours on the trail, the proceedings for which will go to the communities here. You could explore the entire trail by foot, which will take over a month's time. For adventurers, photographers, and birdwatchers, this can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Moreover, the trail is going to be a major hit among pilgrims, and travellers who are looking for spiritual and wellness experiences.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

The government of the Philippines has announced to open the country to fully vaccinated travelers, including Globe Aware volunteers, starting February 10th, 2022. The government also said that the quarantine requirements for returning foreign tourists will be removed from February 10th, but they all must be vaccinated and also test negative for COVID-19.


 

Philippines to reopen to fully vaccinated tourists from February 10

TIMESOFINDIA.COM
TRAVEL NEWS
Jan 30, 2022

In an effort to boost tourism, the government of the Philippines has announced to open the country to fully vaccinated travellers starting February 10, 2022. The gorgeous island country in Asia had planned to reopen in December however, the plans were scrapped due to the Omicron variant. The nation has now said that travellers from some 150 countries with visa-free entry to the Philippines will be allowed to enter for tourism purposes. But the list excludes China, Taiwan and India.

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Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat stated, "(This) will contribute significantly to job restoration, primarily in tourism-dependent communities, and in the reopening of businesses that have earlier shut down.”

The government also said that the quarantine requirements for returning Filipinos will also be removed from February 1 and for foreign tourists from February 10. But they all must be vaccinated and also test negative for COVID-19.

The archipelago nation is home to around 7000 incredible islands which are prized for their white sand beaches and rich aquatic life. Apparently, the country has tourist arrivals from Japan, South Korea and China which dropped by 83 percent last year because of the pandemic.

"The tourism industry can now recover and it can contribute big to jobs, livelihoods and the country's economic growth," said presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Philippines has reported around 3.4 million infections and more than 53000 deaths.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it’s time for countries to lift or at least loosen their existing travel restrictions related to COVID-19, and that recent travel bans are “are not effective in suppressing international spread." Globe Aware is keeping of track of which countries will soon allow our volunteers to enter without quarantine.


 

WHO says it’s time to lift COVID-19 restrictions calling travel bans “ineffective”

Mike Avila
JAN 22 2022
THE POINTS GUY

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it’s time for countries to lift or at least loosen their existing travel restrictions related to COVID-19.

As reported by VOANews, WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee said during their most recent meeting that coronavirus-related travel bans are “are not effective in suppressing international spread,” and cited the most recent surge as proof.

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“The failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and reporting of the omicron variant to limit the international spread of omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time,” the committee’s report stated. In addition, it said such restrictions “do not provide added value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress experienced by citizens.”

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The agency advised that safety measures such as masking, testing, isolation/quarantine and vaccination, “should be based on risk assessments to avoid placing an excessive financial burden on international travelers.”

The WHO cautioning against blanket travel restrictions is not a new stance for the agency. When the omicron variant first became known, it advised countries to take a “risk-based and scientific approach” to combatting the variant, as opposed to simply reinstating travel restrictions.

This follows the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updating its travel advisory lists for 40 countries and territories due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases around the world. The CDC urged Americans to avoid travel to countries including Israel, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Panama, Argentina, Egypt, Albania and Uruguay due to surges in COVID-19 cases. Those nations are now at the agency’s Level 4: Very High risk for travelers, the highest level of risk.

The U.K. and other countries also relaxed some of its COVID-19 restrictions last week, which led travel industry experts to forecast that international travel will soon reach 90% of what it was before the pandemic.

One change? Fully vaccinated travelers and children under 18 no longer need to take a pre-departure COVID test when returning to the U.K.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

With the reintroduction of the Test & Go program, fully vaccinated Globe Aware volunteers would be allowed to enter Thailand with a Day 1 and Day 5 PCR test. We are hopeful for a return to our programs in Surin and Chiang Mai from February and beyond.


 

Thailand tourism industry hopeful with the return of Test & Go

Neill Fronde
January 23, 2022
Thaiger

With the reintroduction of the Test & Go program, that allows fully vaccinated people to enter Thailand with a Day1 and Day 5 PCR test, businesses in the tourism industry are hopeful for a more sustained growth in international travellers from February and beyond.

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The program was reinstated, albeit with some revisions that were not met with a particularly welcoming reception, and will be open for travellers again on February 1.

The new version of Test & Go was almost universally panned by tourists and travellers for added complications and cost, now requiring a second RT PCR test with a pre-booked hotel on the fifth day after arrival, and additional insurance requirements. Inconvenient though it may be, it is generally a step up from the Sandbox programs.

Nevertheless, tourist organisations in Thailand believe that the reopening will open the door to an uptick in foreign arrivals. Between 200,000 and 300,000 international travellers are predicted to arrive in Thailand next month, according to the head of the Thai Hotel Association. She forecasts a steady rise in arriving tourists and is expecting even better numbers for March.

The Thailand Tourism Board Association shared in the hopefulness, though tempered their optimism with a warning that, as has been seen in the recent past, all hopes of upward momentum in tourism numbers can be curbed at the drop of a hat with yet another last-minute government reversal or drastic change.

Barring another setback though, the relaunch of Thailand’s reopening (is this Thailand Tourism 5.0 now? 6.0?), if the numbers do grow in February and continue throughout March, this latest reopening could signal that Thailand has turned the corner in the economic battle against the Covid-19 pandemic. Tourists and hotel and other tourism business operators remain hopeful that Thailand could finally see the return of international and domestic tourism.

 

Additional Info

  • Source The Thaiger

Southwest Airlines seems to have found an easier way for passengers to get a Covid-19 test for travel: Mailing a kit to your home. The test is approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for travel purposes and a convenient new option for any Globe Aware volunteers traveling with Southwest.


Southwest Airlines flyers can now get a COVID-19 test in the mail before travel

Victoria M. Walker
Jan 12, 2022
The Points Guy

If you’ve traveled abroad in the last year, you’re likely familiar with the testing mandate that all travelers need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken one day before flying back to the U.S.

Unfortunately, it’s been tough to get a COVID-19 test abroad in some countries right now, due in part to both the omicron surge as well as the shorter testing window to renter the U.S.

Southwest Airlines

But Southwest Airlines seems to have found an easier way for passengers to get a COVID-19 test for travel: Mailing a kit to your home.

The Dallas-based airline announced it’s partnering with the testing company CityHealth to mail out COVID-19 tests to international passengers. The test is approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for travel purposes. The kit normally costs $75, but Southwest passengers can lock in a discounted rate of $50 per test.

“Since it was launched, the RapidReturn kit has been one of our most popular [COVID-19] testing options,” Sean Parkin, CityHealth’s CEO, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be working with Southwest Airlines to offer their passengers an easy, accurate, affordable and convenient way to return home safely. The quick return of results will help Southwest passengers stay in compliance with the new one-day testing rule.”

Travelers can order their RapidReturn test kit directly through the CityHealth website. Test kits are shipped Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. PST and tests ordered after 3 p.m. PST on Friday will be shipped Monday. That means if you have a weekend trip planned, you may want to order your test kit early in the week.

According to the company, travelers can pack their test kits before travel and use a secure portal when it’s time to test. The results will be available in the portal and are approved for flights back to the U.S.

The CDC accepts a handful of at-home tests for use by inbound passengers, such as Abbott’s BinaxNow COVID-19 Home Test and Qured’s video-supervised rapid antigen test. So, there are other at-home options if you need a COVID-19 test for a flight back to the U.S. Just make sure to order your test with enough time for shipping.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Globe Aware volunteers who recently recovered from Covid-19 can fly back to the U.S. with proof that they’ve recovered instead of a negative test. This proof can include a positive COVID-19 viral test result and a signed letter from a licensed healthcare professional stating that you’re cleared to travel back to the U.S.


How soon can you travel after testing positive for COVID-19?

By Victoria M. Walker
January 13, 2022

A positive COVID-19 test during a trip can throw all your travel plans into limbo. But even a positive test in the weeks before you travel can be cause for concern.

If you’re wondering when you’ll be cleared to travel again after testing positive for COVID-19, it’s an important question: Here’s everything you need to know.

covid travel

What are the rules on flying back to the US?

If you’ve traveled internationally in the past year, you’re likely familiar with the rules to fly back to the United States, but they’ve changed several times.

All travelers coming to the U.S., vaccinated or not, must produce a negative COVID-19 test taken within one calendar day of their departure. (The previous policy allowed vaccinated international travelers to show a negative test taken within three days before departure.) Additionally, international foreign travelers can enter the U.S. with proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test.

If you have a positive test, does that mean you’re banned from flying back to the U.S.? Not quite — but the rules can be a little confusing even if you’re a seasoned traveler. If you recently had COVID-19 but recovered from the virus, you can still travel back to the U.S., but you’ll need the proper paperwork. Let’s break it down.

What paperwork do I need to travel after testing positive?

People who recovered from COVID-19 may continue to test positive for the virus up to three months after infection, even after they’ve recovered.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, travelers who recently recovered from COVID-19 can fly back to the U.S. with proof that they’ve recovered from COVID-19 instead of a negative test. This proof can include your positive COVID-19 viral test result, but it has to be taken no more than 90 days before your flight’s departure from a foreign country.

Additionally, you will also need a signed letter from a licensed healthcare professional stating that you’re cleared to travel back to the U.S. According to the CDC, the letter from a healthcare provider must include:

  • Information that identifies you personally (such as your name and date of birth) and matches your passport.
  • The letter must be signed and dated by the healthcare provider.
  • The letter must be on official letterhead that contains the name, address and phone number of the healthcare provider or public health official who signed the letter.

The CDC says the positive test result and letter together are referred to as “documentation of recovery.” If you tested positive, that’s the only way to be able to fly back to the U.S. if you’ve recovered from the virus but don’t have a negative test result.

Proof of recovery is also acceptable for certain destinations, so you may be able to use this documentation to travel abroad after you’re cleared by a doctor to travel.

What if I can’t show proof of recovery?

The CDC is pretty strict on this rule: You either need a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery. The agency says, “If you have recovered from COVID-19 but are not able to obtain documentation of recovery that fulfills the requirements, you will need to show a negative COVID-19 viral test result from a sample taken no more than one day before your flight to the US departs.”

How soon can I leave my destination after a positive COVID-19 test?

Travelers have to consider the possibility of testing positive for COVID-19 while abroad. What happens after the positive test depends entirely on the destination and, in some cases, your vaccination and booster status.

For instance, if you test positive while in France, you’ll have to quarantine for seven days if you’re fully vaccinated with a booster dose. However, you can leave quarantine after five days with a negative antigen or RT-PCR test result and if you’ve had no symptoms in 48 hours. If you are not fully vaccinated (France will soon require travelers to have a booster to be considered fully vaccinated) or not vaccinated and test positive, you must isolate for 10 days, though the quarantine can be shortened.

So if you have international travel planned, you’ll need to read up on the rules around how long you’ll have to stay in quarantine and the documentation you’ll need for your flight back to the U.S.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy
Wednesday, 12 January 2022 10:54

Omicron Wave Abates, South Africa Lifts Curfew

South Africa, where the Omicron variant was detected last month, says its latest coronavirus wave has peaked without a surge in deaths or hospitalizations, enabling the country to lift a nightly curfew for the first time in 21 months. Globe Aware is maintaining contact with our South Africa coordinators to assess when volunteers can return.


South Africa Lifts Night-Time Covid Curfew As Omicron Wave Abates

Calls for the midnight to 4 am curfew to be lifted had been mounting among operators in the hospitality sector ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations with owners launching an online petition addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Agence France-Presse
December 31, 2021

Johannesburg: South Africa, where the Omicron variant was detected last month, says its latest coronavirus wave has peaked without a surge in deaths or hospitalizations, enabling the country to lift a nightly curfew for the first time in 21 months.
The Omicron variant emerged in November to become the pandemic's dominant variant, driving new cases at a record rate around the world.

"According to experts, Omicron has reached the peak, ...with clinical manifestations that have not caused any alarm in the hospital situation," Mondli Gungubele, a minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa's office, said on Friday.

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"Based on the experts, the conditions do allow that we lift the curfew," he told a news conference, spelling out a move that the presidency announced the previous evening.

Calls by the hospitality sector for the midnight to 4 am curfew to be lifted had been mounting ahead of the New Year's Eve celebrations, with restaurant and bar owners launching an online petition to lobby Ramaphosa.

Many countries outside Africa are tightening restrictions to battle a surge in infections.

The minister cautioned "we will monitor the situation on an hour-by-hour basis" and if need be, it would be reinstated, adding "I hope it never comes back."

Gungubele said the government of Africa's most advanced but battered economy took the action to try "balance between livelihoods and saving lives."

"Businesses are suffering," he said.

- Omicron hopes -

The highly contagious Omicron variant, which contains a number of mutations, has fuelled an end-of-year global pandemic resurgence.

But mounting evidence in South Africa and elsewhere has fuelled hopes that Omicron, while more contagious than other strains, may also be less severe.

Infections in South Africa dropped by almost 30 percent last week compared to the preceding seven days, according to the president's office, and while hospital admissions also declined in eight of the nine provinces.

Even so, the risk of increased infections "remains high," the presidency warned in its Thursday night statement.

Mask-wearing remains compulsory in public spaces and public gatherings are limited to 1,000 people indoors and 2,000 outdoors.

The government has continued to stress the need for caution and vaccination.

Inoculation rates have also improved -- more than 15.6 million people in South Africa have been fully vaccinated, out of a population of 59 million.

- Little rise in deaths -

During the surge in December, only a marginal increase in Covid-19 deaths was noted, while hospitalization rates were lower than in previous waves, the presidency statement said.

"This means that the country has a spare capacity for admission of patients even for routine health services."

Omicron was first identified in South Africa and Botswana in late November.

It quickly became the dominant strain in South Africa, causing an explosion of infections with a peak of about 26,000 daily cases recorded by mid-December, according to official statistics.

The variant is currently present in more than 100 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

It can also infect vaccinated people as well as those who have already had coronavirus, although such individuals are also far less at risk of falling severely ill.

South Africa has been the hardest hit by coronavirus on the continent, recording more than 3.4 million cases and 91,000 deaths. But fewer than 13,000 infections had been recorded in the past 24 hours.

"The speed with which the Omicron-driven fourth wave rose, peaked, and then declined has been staggering. The peak in four weeks and precipitous decline in another two," Fareed Abdullah of the South African Medical Research Council posted on Twitter.

While many Omicron-affected countries are reimposing virus countermeasures, South Africa announced it was reversing course just ahead of New Year's Eve celebrations and a day before the weekend funeral of the venerated anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu.

Additional Info

  • Source Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, 11 January 2022 11:07

Air travel will change in 2022

It would be impossible to discuss any developments in 2022 without referring to Covid-19 variants. Here we break down some of the most notable changes coming up for our Globe Aware volunteers in regards to airlines, airports, and the rest of aviation in the next 12 months.


How flying will change in 2022

By John Walton
CNN
January 6, 2022

(CNN) — During almost any other year, a look ahead to what the future holds for aviation would almost certainly be centered on exciting things like new airplanes, airlines and airports.

But it would be impossible to discuss any developments in the industry for 2022 without making reference to Covid-19 variants, restrictions and challenges to airlines.

Here we break down some of the most notable changes coming up for airlines, passengers, airports and the rest of aviation in the next 12 months, as well as the numerous problems the ongoing global pandemic continues to bring about ...

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More Covid challenges

How Covid-19 progresses, especially any new variants of the virus, is the major question for aviation.

At the time of writing, the Omicron variant is still being examined in order to determine how it compares to earlier variants like Delta and Alpha.

But its emergence has already had a huge impact on travel, with flight bans in place, not to mention the number of travelers testing positive on arrival, passengers absconding from quarantine, and so on. Flight cancellations due to pilot shortages have also been an issue over the busy holiday period.

One of the key challenge both airlines and passengers will face in 2022 is managing vaccination certification.

This is especially true when it comes to defining what "vaccinated" means, especially around booster or third doses.

For instance, will travelers who've received a single dose vaccine continue to be counted as fully vaccinated in the coming months? And what about those who've had two of the two-dose vaccines, but haven't been administered with a booster jab?

Will the rules differ for tourists who've recovered from coronavirus and received one standard vaccination, as is customary in countries such as Germany, or chil

dren from countries where some youngsters are given just one dose of an mRNA vaccine? And how will Omicron affect vaccination statuses?

There's some push for a digital QR-based standard (possibly the EU's Digital Covid Certificate), but that's going to need a lot of work and negotiation.

New airline launches

Starting a new airline during a pandemic is a bit of a wild card to say the least, but Norse Atlantic Airways is rising to the challenge by launching long-haul low-cost flights between Europe and North America.

Of course, its founders would probably rather you didn't say "oh, like Norwegian used to do?"

But as they're the same team who ran Norwegian and are planning to use the same Boeing 787 Dreamliners the airline used, it's not too far a stretch.

In the US, another low cost venture, Northern Pacific Airways is aiming to launch in 2022 with the ambition of making Anchorage's Ted Stevens airport a hub connecting the United States and Asia via its fleet of of Boeing 757-200 narrow body passenger jets.

Over in India, ultra-low-cost startup Akasa Air is looking to join the fray by summer, while the defunct Jet Airways is set for new life in early 2022.

And the new airlines that launched in 2021 will be in expansion mode during the coming months.

After starting up with flights from its base in Burbank, California in April 2021 to destinations in the west and northwest of the US, Avelo Airlines has been expanding, most recently to New Haven, Connecticut, with winter flights to six Florida destinations.

Breeze Airways, meanwhile, continues to grow its network across the east, midwest and south of the United States, with a wide point-to-point network spanning San Antonio and Oklahoma City to Providence and a wide swathe of the country from Tampa to Akron/Canton and Tulsa.

Breeze is due to put its brand new Airbus A220 airplanes, which happen to be some of the most comfortable, quiet and spacious jets in the sky, into service during the second quarter of 2022.

Keep an eye out for new services from familiar airlines.

United Airlines, for example, is boosting its transatlantic network in summer 2022, adding new flights to Bergen in Norway, the Spanish Mediterranean island of Mallorca and the Canary island of Tenerife, Ponta Delgada in the Azores, and Amman in Jordan.

The airline is also bumping up its London services -- with extra flights from Boston, Newark, Denver and San Francisco -- as well as adding additional services to Munich, Milan, Berlin, Dublin and Rome from its hubs.

If international travel remains complicated this year, airlines will want to keep their planes flying.

This means they're likely to put them on the routes they think will make the most money — in this case, domestic routes (like within the US, India or China, or within Europe's Schengen area).

It's worth looking out for fare deals, but make sure they're refundable.

Revamped airports

After a flurry of international airport openings in recent years, 2022 is set to be relatively quiet on this front.

However, some much welcomed new terminals will be launching in New York.

First up: LaGuardia Airport's Terminal C, home to Delta Air Lines, which is due to open in spring. This new terminal will definitely be a big improvement to the passenger experience.

The new Terminal A (previously called Terminal One, slightly confusingly) will launch at Newark, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, later in the year.

On the other side of the Pacific, Bangkok's main Suvarnabhumi Airport is set to open its new Satellite Terminal 1 in October, following numerous scheduling delays linked to the tourism slowdown during the pandemic.

Additionally, Chennai International Airport is due to open its own new terminal, which will replace the now-demolished terminals 2 and 3 this year, while Australia's Gold Coast Airport's three-level terminal expansion is also due for completion.

To the south in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives' Velana International Airport is adding a new seaplane terminal and a new runway to accommodate larger aircraft.

And it's not just the big airports that are opening brand new terminals.

New facilities are due to open in Pune, Andaman/Port Blair, and Leh in India, Provo in the US state of Utah, Columbia in Missouri, and Tacloban in Philippines.

Aircraft deliveries

The aviation industry tends to oscillate between two modes: "sell new airplanes" and "build those airplanes." Right now we're in the latter, with more of the latest planes arriving from factories.

These include the Airbus A320neo family, A350 and A330neo and the Boeing 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner.

Airbus has been steaming ahead with deliveries (460 as of the end of October, the last set of data the company has released) despite the pandemic, and the airliner manufacturer aims to build even more of its popular A320neo family -- especially the longer A321neos that can hold up to 244 passengers in an all-economy layout.

Boeing, of course, has had a huge Max backlog after its safety grounding, while Dreamliner deliveries have been halted for more than a year because of production quality problems.

But they will eventually resume, and airlines are likely to put the aircraft directly into service.

This has been the case with Singapore Airlines, which is putting its stored and newly built 737 Max 8 planes straight into the sky with a brand new cabin.

The same thing is happening at flydubai, the all-737 airline which is a partner airline of Emirates.

Don't expect to see Boeing's massive stretched 777X in 2022, though. While it was scheduled for next year at one point, the first deliveries aren't expected until 2023 or 2024 now.

But passengers are likely to see more aircraft like the Airbus A321LR (for Long Range) in 2022. An increasing amount of these planes are being produced, which means more flights straight to a central destination rather than connecting through a hub.

In 2023, keep an eye out for the A321XLR -- you guessed it, that's Extra Long Range.

Updated seats and cabins

While this particular "build" mode is less fun for plane fans at airshows, it's great news for passengers.

Newer planes with updated seats, newer entertainment systems, at-seat power, and faster Wi-Fi are currently in full "build" mode and fast arriving at airlines.

For those flying business class in particular, this will mean more mini-suites with privacy doors and all the bells and whistles they could wish for.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of airplanes are being fitted with premium economy sections. Emirates is the latest airline to add the middle-cabin, announcing an upcoming 18-month program to install premium economy seats in a whopping 105 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 airplanes.

Economy cabins will also be getting some technology upgrades in the form of fast-charging USB-C sockets, inflight entertainment systems that integrate with phone apps, allowing passengers to use Bluetooth headphones.

Other notable updates include space-saving seats that move those knee-crunching support structures out of the way of legs so that passengers feel like they have a bit more space on board, even if the seats are the same distance apart.

Oddly enough, with quite a lot of older airplanes being retired during the pandemic, passengers are actually more likely than ever to get to fly on a newer plane with better entertainment and more of the mod cons in 2022.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 05 January 2022 10:56

Travel trends in 2022

Globe Aware is looking forward to brighter days in the spring and summer of 2022. Here's a glance at some of the travel trends to expect this year to help you plan your volunteer vacation accordingly.


The travel trends to watch in 2022

BY RACHEL KING
December 27, 2021
FORTUNE

Winter travel, at the moment, is taking a bit of a hit amid the latest surge in positive COVID-19 cases due to the arrival of the new Omicron variant in the United States and Europe. That has a lot of people rethinking their upcoming travel plans, both for business and pleasure, which is especially disheartening for many after last year's dismal holiday season.

But many travelers and travel industry professionals are looking forward to brighter days in the spring and summer of 2022. Here's a glance at some of the travel trends to expect next year to help you plan accordingly.

Back to nature, again

Being outdoors was all the rage (and the only option) in the pre-vaccinated days of the pandemic in 2020. Travelers began to make their way back to urban centers—craving more socialization, nightlife, and simply being indoors in winter—starting in the summer of 2021. But that renewed interest in the great outdoors hasn't died out just yet—and it might be getting bigger than ever. Club Wyndham and WorldMark by Wyndham time-share properties near U.S. national parks, for example, have seen a 71% uptick in bookings.

Outdoorsy destinations are dominating Kayak's top-trending list at the tail end of 2021, with Colorado and Montana making up four of the top 10 trending destinations for 2022, with an increase in search share of at least 46% compared to 2019. And while it’s typically filled with cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Atlanta, Kayak's most popular destinations list is seeing these destinations replaced by outdoor beach towns like Cancun, Honolulu, and Maui. This is the first time in years that New York City has not been among the top 10.

panorama 2117310 1920

"We always see beach towns in Mexico and Florida trend for American tourists, but what’s more interesting are the new cities we’re seeing pop like Kalispell, Bozeman, and Steamboat Springs," Kayak CEO Steve Hafner tells Fortune. "Destinations that offer quick flights, little to no restrictions, and provide a good combination of indoor and outdoor activities appear to be the preference amongst American travelers these days."

But it's not all about just going camping or glamping. The Greek islands are Contiki’s top booked destination for 2022. Likewise, the tour company, which typically attracts travelers between the ages of 18 and 35, says Costa Rica is one of its top booked, with a 375% increase year over year. According to a recent survey conducted by Contiki, younger travelers are especially interested in beach vacations in 2022, nearly 70% opting for "beachscapes over mountainscapes." And Wyndham has seen a 69% increase for bookings to Hawaii.

Last-minute bookings

The booking window for flights is shrinking when compared to two years prior, according to travel search engine Kayak. And this is especially the case for international travel: Searches for flights within seven days have increased 50% as travelers become increasingly more flexible in their travel plans. (Kayak also has a flexible cancellation filter that helps travelers determine which airlines and hotels are waiving change or cancellation fees.)

"The demand is there. People want to travel again and they are becoming more flexible and spontaneous in their planning," says Hafner. "We’re seeing more people book last minute, especially for international trips, due to the unpredictability of COVID-19, which will likely continue through the first half of next year."

Home-swapping

Anyone who has ever watched the Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet film The Holiday has long dreamed about the ideal home-swapping scenario. And like everything else that is popular on the Internet, TikTok is making it hot again. The hashtag "#houseswap" has generated approximately 10 million views and viral videos of users swapping houses on the social app.

 

And global home-swapping platform Love Home Swap, which has homes in more than 110 countries, saw a nearly 300% increase in member sign-ups last year, compared to 2019, and new sign-ups are currently surpassing pre-COVID levels this year. The company says these staycation arrangements help offset the increased costs of traveling, saving members on average $3,500 per year on accommodations through Love Home Swap. (Membership starts at $11 per month.)

“When our members begin home-swapping, they are surprised how much money they are actually saving," says Celia Pronto, managing director of Love Home Swap. "Not only does home-swapping give you access to an entire property, but it frequently comes with added benefits—whether using each other’s cars, children’s toys, or even gym memberships and ski equipment. With 36% of our members traveling four-plus times per year and 85% looking for new travel experiences, home-swapping really does tick all the boxes. We’ve found it quickly becomes a lifestyle choice for our members, with the most popular destinations in the U.S. being New York, California, Florida, and Colorado."

Workcations

With a growing demand for blending the flexibility of remote work with leisure travel, more than 40% of Gen Z employees plan to take a "workcation" (essentially, working while traveling—but not traveling for work and not taking PTO days for it) in 2022, according to data provided by Kayak.

"Younger generations like Gen Z likely live a more flexible lifestyle (i.e., no kids, pets, etc. just yet) that makes it easier to travel (and work) for weeks at a time from different locations, [which] gets more complicated when you have to move the whole family," Kayak's Hafner says. "Once people can really start traveling more freely again, we’ll start to see people squeeze in extra trips that double as work. Companies that support blending business with leisure travel will have a competitive advantage with talent. Many people want a change of scenery right now."

And it's something Kayak is seeing in-house as well, Hafner notes. This past September, Kayak launched a “Work from Almost Anywhere” policy, which lets employees choose how often they work from the office—if at all. "We’re a travel company, so we want our employees to feel comfortable working from different cities, countries, etc., as much or little as they’d like," Hafner says.

Trip-stacking

Trip-stacking—the practice of booking multiple trips back-to-back—really took off during the summer of 2021. There are multiple reasons for this: People wanted to maximize their trips abroad (especially while international borders are open); it can be more budget-friendly on the airfare if going a long distance from home; and many people simply wanted to make up for lost time after spending more than a year at home.

Contiki CEO Adam Armstrong says Gen Z and younger millennials are trip-stacking frequently with the company, booking multiple trips back-to-back. And young professionals are taking more PTO days, with an average trip length of nine to 11 days.

“They are traveling for longer periods of time—some exploring the world for months on end, flexing their remote work perks, taking advantage of the freedom that comes with being in between jobs or seizing the gap year in between college and career life,” explains Armstrong. “We’ve analyzed 2022 preliminary booking patterns, which demonstrate 18- to 35-year-olds are heading to Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Costa Rica—which is up 375% compared to last year—and booking these trips back-to-back to really stretch their travel wings again.”

Luxury all-inclusives

This is one to watch for the long term. All-inclusive resorts have the reputation for being convenient and family friendly, but the amenities aren't always high-end. But pandemic travel changed all that as measures implemented in the age of COVID are becoming mainstays, like mobile payments or simply paying for everything in one go so as not to have to swap cards or touch point-of-sale checkpoints frequently.

Many hotel companies, such as Marriott and Hilton, are taking part in the ongoing evolution of luxury in the all-inclusive space, notes Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of The Points Guy.

"Luxury travelers are yearning for all-inclusives post-pandemic as they provide guests with security from both a health and safety standpoint," Kelly tells Fortune. "Guests don’t have to risk exposing themselves outside the resort and are spread out enough, which makes social distancing easier."

Additional Info

  • Source Fortune
Monday, 03 January 2022 12:23

Travel 2022: The best destinations to visit

Peru and South Africa are mentioned, and Globe Aware agrees both places deserve to be near the top of anyone's travel list. We hope to see volunteers make a strong comeback to both locations in 2022!


Where to travel 2022: The best destinations to go

By Lilit Marcus, Forrest Brown, Julia Buckley, Karla Cripps, Tamara Hardingham-Gill, Marnie Hunter, Barry Neild, Maureen O'Hare and Francesca Street
CNN
December 31, 2021

(CNN) — Travel is more challenging now than it has been in a long time. Borders tentatively reopen only to slam shut again. A once-simple visa on entry is replaced with piles of paperwork. And the whole world is brushing up on the Greek alphabet whenever a new variant makes headlines.

Still, though, amid all the darkness that has defined the pandemic, there are some glimmers of hope.

Perhaps the lesson travelers can take into 2022 is that exploring the world is a privilege, not a right. This year's crop of dream places to visit reflect that mindset -- from national parks to remote islands to lesser visited spots, mindfulness and respect for the Earth are part of the journey.

When Orville and Wilbur Wright first got their small plane aloft in 1903, it seems unlikely they would have imagined a world of scores of jetliners a day connecting the world's great cities or an eyeball scan replacing a paper passport.

When we look back on how far we've come, it makes us more grateful for where we are.

Let's all try to channel a sense of wonder if and when we're able to travel in 2022 and beyond.

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ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Not only is the twin-island nation blessed with miles and miles of pristine white and pink sands -- Antigua famously has a beach for every day of the year -- its also lays claims to the longest running Sunday party in the Caribbean, which takes place at restored military lookout Shirley Heights.

Barbuda, the smaller of the two islands, was famously one of Princess Diana's favorite vacation spots, while veteran actor Robert De Niro co-owns a resort in the area with Australian billionaire James Packer.

Cricket is a massive deal here, so the England Tests, which are being held in Antigua in 2022, are one of the most anticipated events of the year. The official test match between England and the West Indies will take place at the stadium named after Antiguan cricketing legend Vivian Richards in March.

Antigua and Barbuda has been gaining recognition for its sustainability efforts in recent years thanks to a number of successful green initiatives. Single-use plastics are banned, while the "Green Corridor," a collection of environmentally friendly hotels, resorts and businesses has been established across the southwest coast of Antigua. -- Tamara Hardingham-Gill

BISSAGOS ISLANDS, GUINEA-BISSAU

Made up of 88 islands, of which just 23 are inhabited, this magical archipelago situated around 48 kilometers off the Guinea coast of western Africa is as unique as it gets.

The Bissagos Islands are run by a matriarchal society where women possess all the power. Here women choose their husbands, propose marriage, build their own homes and run the households.

The few tourists who are able to visit the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve are rewarded with immaculate beaches, expansive natural parks and calm blue waters.

The cluster of islands, which can be accessed by boat, ferry or light aircraft, also holds an extraordinary abundance of wildlife, including protected or rare species like the Nile crocodile, the common bottlenose dolphin and the African manatee, as well as about 500 species of birds.

Hurtigruten Expeditions, the company that founded expedition cruising in 1896, has added its first-ever African adventure to its 2022/23 lineup, with the Bissagos Islands among the list of destinations on the itinerary. -- THG

CAPE BRETON, NOVA SCOTIA

Connected to the Canadian mainland by a mile-long causeway, Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island is famed for its scenic vistas and historic sites.

Spread over 10,311 square kilometers, it's no tiny dot in the ocean, either.

Island highlights include Cabot Trail, a scenic two-lane byway that snakes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, where lush green hills and rusty red cliffs tower over rugged beaches; the impressive 18th-century Fortress of Louisbourg, once the capital of a French colony and today a living history museum; and culinary offerings, from modern fine dining to traditional community lobster suppers.

Why go now? In recent years, Canada has taken important steps to develop and promote indigenous tourism and Cape Breton is no exception. Visitors can immerse themselves in traditions of Cape Breton's Mi'kmaq -- a First Nations people who have lived in Canada's eastern Maritime region for over 10,000 years -- through a variety of offerings from the island's five First Nations communities. -- Karla Cripps

CHILE

A long, thin strip between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains, Chile is a world leader in ecotourism and an outdoor adventurer's paradise.

In northern Chile, the Atacama is the place to go. Valle de la Luna features otherworldly landscapes, rock formations and surreal, colorful sunsets. Speaking of color, see vivid pink flamingos at Chaxa Lagoon. Both are located within Los Flamencos National Reserve.

Want something even wilder? Then head farther south to the Patagonian wilderness. Torres del Paine National Park is considered one of the crown jewels of Chile's park system. Its glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife are renowned.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization named two Chilean places in its list of "Best Tourism Villages" in 2021, which promotes sustainable development. They are Pica, known for its citrus fruits and hot springs, and Puerto Williams, the southernmost city in world.

2022 will mark 300 years since the Dutch arrival to the South Pacific island of Rapa Nui (AKA Easter Island). Famed for its giant stone faces, this special territory of Chile has been closed to visitors during the pandemic. But it's set to reopen to tourists in February. -- Forrest Brown

COLOMBO

Colombo is usually misunderstood from the beginning.

Despite being Sri Lanka's biggest city, it isn't the capital (that would be Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte, which is a great fact to break out at your next pub quiz), and many travelers skip it over in favor of the island's gorgeous beaches and tea farms.

But in 2022 it's time to pay attention to the city's underrated design destinations, including late architect Geoffrey Bawa's home, which is now a mini museum and guest house called Number Eleven. The next year is bringing a spate of promising new hotels to the city, including properties by Amari, Grand Hyatt, Marriott, Sheraton and ITC.

Sri Lanka does have its share of delicious curries, but don't assume that the food is the same as in neighboring India.

Start the day by filling up on egg hoppers heaped with coconut sambal at the Palmyrah's lush breakfast banquet, head to the Pettah Floating Market to stock up on bananas in nearly every color of the rainbow, and end the day watching the beach sunset at the Galle Face Hotel sipping a grapefruit-infused take on a Negroni at the aptly named Traveller's Bar. Everything tastes better paired with the island's own ceylon teas.

Tour company Urban Adventures provides necessary historical context on the country's Sinhalese, Tamil and Malay cultures alongside the eats. -- Lilit Marcus

DIJON, FRANCE

Thought Lyon was the capital of French cuisine? Not so fast -- Dijon has always been a huge foodie hub. The biggest city of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region is a glorious mishmash of timber-framed houses, magnificent 18th-century palaces and a soaring Gothic cathedral -- but it's also one of France's gastronomic capitals.

Fittingly enough, May 2022 sees the opening of the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie et du Vin in Dijon -- a 70,000 square meter renovation of historic buildings from the 16th to the 18th centuries, turned into a complex devoted entirely to French food and wine.

New opening aside, there are plenty of other reasons to put Dijon on your to-do list. Venture out into the surrounding vineyards of the Burgundy region -- Beaune, half an hour south, is a top-tier wine town. Hit the Les Halles food market, designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, he of tower fame) to sample the region's best ingredients. Go mustard tasting at La Moutarderie Edmond Fallot, going strong after 180 years, and try the gingerbread from Mulot et Petitjean, baked here since the 18th century.

Food and drink aside, there's the stunning Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, where over 130,000 works of art are stored in the neoclassical Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy. -- Julia Buckley

DISKO BAY, GREENLAND

Waterfalls, remote hiking and panoramic views inspire some to call Greenland's Disko Island the Grand Canyon of the Arctic.

Whales, colossal icebergs, a fast-moving glacier and a whole lot of dog sleds define Disko Bay, on Greenland's western coast.

The town of Ilulissat, with its colorful houses, makes a great base for exploring, not least because it neighbors Ilulissat Icefjord. This dramatic fjord is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, partly because of its jaw-dropping splendor, and partly because of the scientific studies that have taken place here over the past 250 years, which helped scientists understand the impact of climate change.

The enormous icebergs that populate Ilulissat Icefjord stem from the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier -- local boat trips available in Disko Bay offer a chance to marvel at the icy scenes, and encourage travelers to consider why this region is sometimes called climate change's "Ground Zero."

Another boat trip will take you to Disko Island, with its striking black sand beaches, while back on the mainland, there's the recently opened Ilulissat Icefjord Centre to explore.

This new attraction seeks to educate visitors on the importance of the ice in the Disko Bay area, as well as champion the stories of the Inuit people -- who've lived off land and sea in the region for thousands of years -- and examine the ballooning impact of the climate crisis. The building is an attraction itself, designed by Danish architect Dorte Mandrup as a riot of glass, steel and curves that blend into the staggering landscape.

As tourism grows in Greenland, there are several airport projects in the works -- including a new air hub in Ilulissat. The goal is to make it easier for international travelers to explore the beautiful country in coming years, while also dispersing visitors around the country to avoid overtourism. -- Francesca Street

GABON NATIONAL PARKS

The Amazon gets more press, but the Congo Basin -- sometimes called "the lung of Africa" -- is the world's second-largest rainforest and is also a precious resource under threat from deforestation. More than 10% of Gabon, on Central Africa's Atlantic coastline, is given over to its 13 national parks -- and they're all celebrating their 20th anniversaries in 2022.

Accessible only by the Trans-Gabon railway or private plane, Ivindo -- this equatorial country's newest UNESCO World Heritage site -- comprises nearly 300,000 hectares of parkland crisscrossed by blackwater rivers, featuring impressive rapids and glorious waterfalls. Its remoteness means parts of the site are still to be explored, but the creatures that make their home here include gorillas, leopards, mandrills and pangolins, as well as the critically endangered forest elephant.

Loango National Park offers big-game fishing in the estuary and at sea, while Minkébé, at 7,000 square meters, is the country's largest. Pongara National Park has beautiful untouched beaches where leatherback turtles lay their eggs between November and March, while dolphins and humpback whales can be spotted in the dry season between July and October. -- Maureen O'Hare

JORDAN

A few years ago, Jordan's spectacular rock-carved ancient city of Petra was in danger of becoming a victim of its own success as the tourism industry threatened its delicate structures and lured Bedouin locals away from their traditional ways. Years of regional unrest followed by the pandemic mean Petra is now crying out for crowds.

Visitors will surely return to this gem, but there are opportunities to explore Jordan more sustainably. Other archaeological treasures, like the ruins of Jerash and Umm Qais deserve to be seen.

There's also the vast expanse of the Wadi Rum desert, best enjoyed with Bedouin guides who can share their knowledge of working in harmony with the epic landscape. A side trip for a salty float in the Dead Sea is also still worth it, not least to observe another delicate ecosystem under assault from modern life, this time rampant water extraction. -- Barry Neild

LAHTI, FINLAND

Finland is regularly ranked as the happiest place in the world, and there's a great deal to be cheerful about when it comes to the beautiful lakeside city of Lahti.

Situated 100 kilometers northeast of Helsinki, this destination is green in every sense. Finland's eighth-largest city is packed with beautiful forests, parks and reserves with incredible hiking trails and lookout points.

Lahti has also led the way in terms of environmental innovations, becoming the first Finnish city to be appointed as the European Green Capital after ditching coal as a source of fuel and offering its citizens free transport tickets and food as rewards for being eco-friendly.

Those who visit should certainly try out the tap water. The city's innovative groundwater system has been certified by UNESCO as "the world's best drinking water," and is used by award-winning Lahti-based Teerenpeli Brewery & Distillery, the oldest whiskey distillery in Finland.

In the spring of 2022, the brand new Lahti Museum of Visual Arts Malva will launch its first exhibits, while Lahti is to host the Ironman 70.3 World Championship for the first time in 2023. --THG

MUNGA-THIRRI-SIMPSON DESERT, AUSTRALIA

For those who've always wanted to experience a once-in-a-lifetime off-road challenge in Australia's Outback, the country's newest -- and now biggest -- national park awaits.

Hailed as a major conservation corridor in the heart of the nation, South Australia's Munga-Thirri-Simpson Desert National Park covers 36,000 square kilometers and includes parts of the famed Simpson Desert, which stretches into the state of Queensland and the Northern Territory. It was declared a national park in November 2021 and combines an existing regional reserve and a conservation park.

Now here's the challenging part: The only way to explore the Munga-Thirri-Simpson Desert National Park is with a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle, necessary to access its extensive network of playa lakes, stunning red dunes and bird-filled grasslands. Nights are spent camping out under the stars.

Drivers need to carry fuel, water and food reserves, as well as basic vehicle spare parts and recovery equipment, while a Desert Parks Pass is required to enter and camp in the park. In other words, self-sufficiency is key. Another important note to keep in mind when trip planning: The national park is closed from December 1 to March 15, when temperatures soar.

Travelers deterred by the logistical challenges can book one of several Simpson Desert tours departing from South Australia capital Adelaide. For instance, trips organized by Spirit Safaris also include stops at a variety of regional highlights, from historic pubs to restored railway ruins. -- KC

NAPLES, ITALY

Cut Naples and it bleeds classic Italy. Pizza was born here; Sophia Loren was raised in its cobbled streets. Ancient ruins lie beneath modern suburbs. Scooters zigzag past faded-glory palazzos, built when the southern city was its own sovereign state. Hand gestures are an art form here. And that fabled Italian friendliness? This is where it is forged.

But why go now? Because Naples is booming. The centro storico is pulsating with energy. Sassy, non-cookie-cutter hotels are opening up -- like Atelier Inès, which is part jewelry workshop, part arty guesthouse.

Areas which were previously considered no-go for tourists are finally being seen in a different light. The Sanità district, once looked down on, is now the place to be -- visitors are flocking to its networks of ancient catacombs, and neighborhood artist Paolo La Motta is suddenly on display amid works by Louise Bourgeois and Anish Kapoor at the former royal palace of Capodimonte.

There's more to come: New archaeological sites are due to open in 2022 which, although under wraps for now, will shed new light on Greek and Roman Neapolis, as it was called back then. Outside the city, Pompeii is unveiling newly excavated ruins and new ideas -- like the Pompeii ArteBus, which shuttles visitors around nearby, lesser known villas, for free. Offshore, island Procida will be Italy's Capital of Culture for 2022. But really, this is Naples' year. -- JB

OLLANTAYTAMBO, PERU

A trip to one of the world's most sought-after sightseeing spots should be about far more than the final destination. And that's where Ollantaytambo comes in.

This well-preserved town along the route to Machu Picchu in Peru's Sacred Valley boasts in own impressive Inca ruins and has recently been named one of the UNWTO's "Best Tourism Villages." The initiative recognizes places that have embraced tourism as a means to promote sustainable development and to safeguard rural villages "along with their landscapes, natural and cultural diversity, and their local values and activities."

There's a lot to safeguard here: An Inca fortress and temple dating to the 15th century that became the site of a rare defeat of Spanish conquistadores; a vibrant town that's also one of the best surviving examples of Inca city planning; the Inca storehouses of Pinkuylluna overlooking Ollantaytambo; and a nearby Inca quarry that gave rise to engineering marvels.

Because Ollanta, as it's often called, is at a lower elevation (2,792 meters or 9,160 feet) than the international arrivals gateway of Cusco (3,399 meters or 11,152 feet), it's also a better place to acclimate to the thin air of the Andes. Other intriguing spots in the Sacred Valley, including the mysterious circular Inca ruins at Moray -- thought to be an agricultural project -- and the terraced Maras salt mines, are nearby.

Tourism to Peru in 2020 dropped to just 20% of 2019 arrivals, but those numbers will creep back up as the world tackles Covid-19. 2022 just might be the year to plan a good, long, meandering trip of a lifetime before visitor numbers surge again. -- Marnie Hunter

ORKNEY ISLANDS, UK

Off the most northerly tip of Scotland, you'll find the Orkney Islands, a breathtaking archipelago with cliffs and crags dotted with seabirds, seals and fascinating archaeological sites.

Orkney comprises some 70 islands, of which 20 are unoccupied. The largest, Mainland, is home to a group of UNESCO-protected Neolithic monuments dating back 5,000 years, including the chambered tomb of Maeshowe and the enigmatic standing circle, Ring of Brodgar.

Other highlights include stargazing and Aurora-watching on North Ronaldsay, a recently designated Dark Sky island, and visiting the colorful Italian Chapel on uninhabited Lamb Holm, constructed out of Nissen huts by Italian Prisoners of War during World War II.

Meanwhile the St Magnus Way pilgrimage route, named for Orkney's patron saint, offers a great introduction to the islands' wild beauty, the route winding round rugged cliffs, taking in Iron Age brochs and culminating at Kirkwall's St Magnus Cathedral.

Travelers can hop between the Scottish mainland and Orkney, and between the individual islands, either on ferries or via air -- Orkney is home to the shortest commercial flight in the world, connecting the 1.7 miles between the islands of Westray and Papa Westray in just two minutes.

There's also hope that electric-powered aircraft could become a chief transportation source for the islands, as summer 2021 saw Ampaire's six-seater Cessna Skymaster aircraft undergo test flights on the archipelago. It's a natural next step for Orkney's islands, which are green in more ways than one -- the famously windy archipelago hosts more than 500 power-generating wind turbines. -- FS

OSLO

Norwegian winters may be cold, but things are hotting up in Oslo. June 11 will see the opening of the new National Museum -- traditional and contemporary art, craft and design, making it the biggest art museum in the Nordic countries. The 5,000-object collections of three previously existing museums have been collated under one thoroughly modern roof, just behind the city waterfront, with views of the inner Oslo fjord from its rooftop terrace.

That'll join the new Munch Museum, which opened in October 2021 under its rebranding as, simply, MUNCH. Not only has it given more space to the artist's work, with 11 exhibition spaces providing room to show works that had previously been in storage, there are also areas for temporary exhibitions. Those kicked off with Tracey Emin's phenomenal show, "The Loneliness of the Soul," transferred from London's Royal Academy, in which she explores her lifelong fascination with Munch.

The building itself packs a punch, too. Designed by Estudio Herreros, a Madrid architectural company, it's part of Oslo's longterm waterfront regeneration project. Want to escape the city? Instead of the water, try heading inland. Three hours west is Rjukan, a mountain-wrapped town where "sun mirrors" on the peaks reflect light down into town during the otherwise dark winter months, and an accessible Cold War-era funicular pulls tourists deep into Mount Gausta and then up onto its peak. -- JB

PALAU

In 2021, Palau had one of the world's only successful "travel bubbles" with its fellow Pacific island of Taiwan. One of the reasons Palau has been able to pull off a small reopening to tourism is that sustainability isn't just a priority -- it is baked into everything that happens in this precarious 153-square-mile paradise.

Every visitor to the country must sign the Palau Pledge, a vow to behave responsibly while traveling and do one's part to care for the environment -- which can include everything from not using plastic bags to only packing sunscreens that meet the country's high standards. The pledge was written by Palauan schoolchildren -- another reminder that the decisions we make affect not just us but the generations to come.

The commitment to preserving the environment makes sense when you see how much breathtaking, diverse landscape Palau has to offer.

Jellyfish Lake, which was closed to visitors for several years in order to let the titular jellyfish population return to acceptable levels, is open again.

The island's lone UNESCO World Heritage Site is a blockbuster: Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, an expanse of more than 400 islands which are home to some of the world's rarest corals, as well as a range of birds, fish and sharks. -- LM

PENANG, MALAYSIA

The pandemic has left many of us longing for epic culinary-focused journeys, and Penang ranks up there with Asia's best.

This Malaysian island in the Andaman Sea offers a wide mix of traditional Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes. And then there's Baba Nyonya -- a.k.a. Peranakan -- cuisine, which incorporates regional ingredients and Chinese and Malay cooking methods.

All of it can be found in hawker centers and shop houses throughout Penang's capital, George Town, which is filled with historic buildings, from old English mansions to classical Chinese shop houses and Islamic mosques.

But there's so much more than just food and architecture to sustain wanderlust appetites on this 295-square-mile island.

In September 2021, the popular Penang Hill was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Home to Penang's highest point, it's filled with excellent hiking trails that stretch from its peak down to the lovely botanical gardens, which were created in 1884 and serve as a repository of Penang Hill's flora and fauna -- including more than 200 species of orchids.

Leading conservation efforts is The Habitat Penang Hill, a world-class rainforest discovery center that offers guided walks and zipline tours. -- KC

SOUTH AFRICA

We've all had a bad year. Hell, we've all had a bad two years. Yet it's hard not to feel a strong surge of empathy for South Africa.

While many destinations at least benefited from summer Covid lulls to revive traveler numbers, South Africa's November-March peak season has meant that most of its would-be visitors have been stuck at home, battling winter virus spikes.

To cap it all, in gratitude for South African scientists quickly identifying and warning about the Omicron variant, much of the rest of the world cut off all travel contact, delivering a pointless blow to the country's already beleaguered tourism industry.

For those reasons alone, if it's safe to visit in 2022, South Africa deserves to be near the top of anyone's wish list. All those things that make it special -- from beaches to big game safaris, wine to whale spotting, township tours to hiking trails -- are all still there. And there are plenty of unexplored gems to experience if it does get busy: beach city Gqeberha, the Drakensberg mountains in KwaZulu-Natal, the scenic Panorama and Garden Route driving trails. -- BN

ST EUSTATIUS, NETHERLANDS

It seems impossible there's a Caribbean island you haven't heard of, but St Eustatius is just that -- unless you're Dutch, as the island is a municipality of the Netherlands.

The centerpiece of "Statia," as it is known to locals, is Quill, a dormant volcano whose sloping sides make for excellent hikes -- as well as sweeping scenic views of this eight-square-mile pearl in the sea.

Until now, most travelers to St Eustatius were divers eager to explore the shipwrecks and coral reefs as well as get up close to barracudas and sharks in the unspoiled waters. But that will likely change in 2022 with the opening of a new luxury hotel called Golden Rock -- after the island's nickname.

On top of that, it's easier to get here than ever thanks to new ferry routes connecting the island with Saba, St Maarten and St Kitts. -- LM

TULSA, OKLAHOMA

Tulsa, Oklahoma's big travel news of note in 2022 will be the opening of the Bob Dylan Center, scheduled for May 10.

The center will house more than 100,000 cultural treasures created and owned by Dylan over seven decades. Covering his career in folk and rock, the displays will show original manuscripts, unreleased recordings and film performances, photos and more. It's being built in Tulsa's Arts District, close to another center devoted to Dylan hero and folk musician Woody Guthrie.

Last year was the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Visit the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, part of the National Park Service, and the newly opened Greenwood Rising to learn more.

Love the outdoors? You'll be in the right place. Tulsa is set in gently rolling terrain at the edge of the Great Plains to the west and the Ozark Mountains to the east. Inside the city are the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area, with rugged trails and steep grades to provide a thorough hike, and River Parks, with miles of paved trails that follow the Arkansas River. -- FB

VALENCIA, SPAIN

This year, give the thronging streets of Barcelona a rest and head a few hours south along Spain's southeastern coastline to the port city of Valencia, World Design Capital for 2022.

Home to a population of around 800,000, it's Spain's third-largest city and it aims to be an emission-neutral destination by 2025.

The City of Arts and Sciences, designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, is a vast futuristic complex featuring a planetarium, science museum and Europe's largest aquarium. From there, you can cycle or stroll across the whole of Valencia through the nine-kilometer-long Turia Garden, built on the former bed of the Turia River.

Valencia is the birthplace of paella, and you'll find the iconic Spanish dish for sale everywhere. For fine dining, local chef Ricard Camarena's eponymous restaurant has been awarded two Michelin stars, one of which is a green star for sustainability -- the first eatery in the city to be awarded the honor.

Finally, if you visit in March, you'll get the chance to experience the annual Las Fallas Festival which, when Covid permits, is a five-day street party involving fireworks and the burning of wooden and cardboard sculptures. -- MO

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Geysers, hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles. Bears, wolves, bison and elk. The world's first national park holds enough wonders and curiosities to warrant many repeat visits.

And in 2022, Yellowstone will mark 150 years as a national park. Originally slated to be a state park, Yellowstone earned its national park status in 1872 because the land it stretched across was part of three territories, none of which was yet a state. Today's park -- 96% in Wyoming, 3% in Montana and 1% in Idaho -- encompasses 2.2 million acres.

That's a lot to discover. Its hydrothermal features alone number some 10,000. Grand Prismatic Spring at Midway Geyser Basin is a stunner with bright rings of orange, yellow and green rimming its deep blue center, and of course watching Old Faithful erupt is a Yellowstone tradition.

Add encounters with formidable wildlife -- keep your distance, please -- and you've got an incredible crowd-pleaser with visitor numbers to match. (More than a million people visited the park in July 2021, the busiest month in the park's history.)

Getting to top natural attractions early in the morning or later in the afternoon and visiting in the spring and fall can mean fewer people.

The park plans to celebrate 150 Years of Yellowstone with a series of activities, concentrated from March to August, that highlight the land's tribal connections, examine successes and challenges in its ecosystems and look to the future. An emphasis on stewardship and visiting responsibly will encourage visitors to do their part to help protect the park for generations to come. -- MH

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 29 December 2021 11:29

Fees for US passports are about to go up

Globe Aware volunteers planning to get their passports should know that the US passport book will shoot up by $20. The US State Department announced that "the increased fee is necessary to ensure we continue to produce one of the most secure travel and identity documents in the world."


Fees for US passports are about to pop way up

Forrest Brown
CNN
December 22, 2021

(CNN) — It seems few things are escaping the scourge of inflation these days -- and that will soon include US passports.

On December 27, the fee for a US passport book will shoot up by $20 for all customers, the US State Department has announced.

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Why the price hike?

In a tweet, the State Department said, "The increased fee is necessary to ensure we continue to produce one of the most secure travel and identity documents in the world."

How much will this cost you in total?

There are several personal factors that go into the cost calculation -- including the type of passport you want, whether you're renewing or getting your first one, and how fast you need it.

One example: For an adult renewing a US passport book by mail, the current fee is $110. Adding in the extra 20 bucks starting next week, and you're looking at $130, or an 18.2% increase.

For comparison, consumer price inflation rose by 6.8% without seasonal adjustments over the 12 months ended November.

You can quickly learn how much one will cost you at this State Department fee calculator.

Mail vs. online

Even in late 2021, mail is still the standard way to get a passport.

But last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order instructing government agencies to come up with systems that provide more efficient customer service.

For current US passport holders, that would eventually allow them to renew their books entirely online.

The order gave US agencies 180 days to report the status of their efforts to the President.

Where will this passport take you?

Before the pandemic, the United States was close to the top of the "best passport" list, providing access to 184 destinations in 2019.

Then in the summer of 2020, when the pandemic was still relatively new and borders were closed in many places, that US passport allowed you in to a very limited number of places. Mexico and Turkey were two of the bigger travel names on a small list of options.

Since then, that list has grown -- and sometimes contracted -- responding to ebbs and flows of the pandemic.

There are still popular places US citizens can't visit for leisure travel: Japan, for instance. But overall, US passport holders -- especially those who are fully vaccinated -- have a much wider selection of foreign destinations now than a year and half ago, even with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus causing worldwide concern.

Argentina and Canada opened up to American passport holders in more recent months. Much of the Americas and Europe are open. There are a good number of choices in Africa. Asia and the Australia/Pacific region have the fewest options, still.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

The Biden administration is planning on lifting restrictions on eight southern African countries on December 31 at 12:01 a.m. ET. Globe Aware volunteers should know that these eight countries (which include South Africa, Malawi & Zimbabwe) will be subject to the same coronavirus travel protocols the US has imposed on other countries.


 

Biden to lift travel restrictions on southern African countries that were put in place due to Omicron

By Jeremy Diamond
CNN
December 24, 2021

Washington (CNN)The Biden administration is lifting restrictions on eight southern African countries that were put in place last month after the Omicron variant was first identified in South Africa, two administration officials told CNN.

The restrictions will lift on December 31 at 12:01 a.m. ET, the officials said. News of the lifted restrictions was first reported by Reuters.

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President Joe Biden ordered the restrictions in late November on the advice of his public health officials, cutting off most travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. The measures barred nearly all foreign nationals who had been "physically present" in the countries during the "14-day period preceding their entry, or attempted entry into the United States." US citizens, lawful permanent residents and noncitizens who are the spouses of citizens or permanent residents were exempt.

Biden and his coronavirus response team stressed at the time that the measure was a temporary effort to slow the spread of the Omicron variant and give US officials time to assess the variant and prepare for it to hit the US. But the measure still faced criticism after it became clear that Omicron was already spreading in several non-African countries before it was identified in South Africa, which has a strong public health surveillance system.

The restrictions came under increased scrutiny in recent weeks as Omicron was identified in the US and particularly as it became the dominant variant in the last week.

"At the time these restrictions were put in place, it was clear that there was widespread community transmission in South Africa, as well as a great deal of cross-border travel in the region and little surveillance in many of the countries near South Africa," a senior administration official said.

Biden said Tuesday that he was "considering" lifting the restrictions and officials said Biden had been urged in recent days to reverse the ban.

A senior administration official said the US Centers for Disease Control recommended the restrictions be lifted for two key reasons.

"First, our nation's health officials have made progress in understanding Omicron; importantly, our existing vaccines are effective against severe disease with Omicron, especially if you're boosted. Second, with Omicron now present across the US and globally, international travelers from these countries will not have a significant impact on US cases," the official said.

The eight countries will now be subject to the same coronavirus travel protocols the US has imposed on other countries, requiring foreigners be fully vaccinated and that all travelers get a negative coronavirus test within one day of departure to the US.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

Cambodia's Siem Reap International Airport has finally welcomed its first international passenger flight for the first time in 20 months. Siem Reap should get more visitors after the reopening of international flights, and come out as Cambodia's top leisure and cultural destination for Globe Aware volunteers.


Cambodia welcomes its first international flight for the first time in 20 months

TIMESOFINDIA.COM

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Cambodia's Siem Reap International Airport has finally welcomed its first international passenger flight for the first time in 20 months. The inaugural flight flew in from Singapore, and landed in Siem Reap airport at 9:45 am on Friday. Siem Reap is one of the three international airports operating in Cambodia.

Singapore International Airport said in a statement, "This is the first international flight to Siem Reap since March 2020. The re-launch of the service will help to rebuild air traffic between the two countries following the challenging months arising from the pandemic."

Singapore International Airport is going go operate daily flights between Singapore and Siem Reap. The Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flights are expected to operate four times weekly. It has been reported that the flights will offer quarantine-free entry into Singapore for those travellers who are eligible. The VTL flight, SQ163 will be operating every Monday, Friday, and Sunday.

Zechariah Chai, General Manager for Singapore Airlines Cambodia said, "The re-introduction of international services between Singapore and Siem Reap is great news for our customers, who can resume travel between the cities and connect on to other destinations in our network."

Siem Reap should get more visitors after the reopening of international flights, and come out as Cambodia's top leisure and cultural destination. This is also a good opportunity for travellers to travel between Cambodia and other international destinations with the help of an extensive global flight network.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

Different countries and territories have taken different approaches toward preventing the spread of the new Omicron variant. Here are the most up-to-date information for Globe Aware volunteers, but please be aware that governments can change their regulations on a moment's notice.


Travel restrictions by country following the Omicron variant outbreak

Lilit Marcus and Barry Neild

CNN

December 4, 2021

(CNN) — Just as many countries around the world were beginning to loosen their border restrictions, reports of a newly detected coronavirus variant in South Africa sent many of those doors slamming shut again.

The new B.1.1.529 variant was named Omicron by the World Health Organization on November 26.

Different countries and territories have taken different approaches toward preventing the spread of this new variant.

The most up-to-date information is below, but please be aware that governments can change their regulations on a moment's notice. Check back for further updates.

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Angola

Angola announced on Saturday that it will close its borders with seven countries in southern Africa in an effort to prevent the spread of the new Omicron variant, according to state media.

Angola's border will be closed to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe will be closed until January 5, 2022.

Argentina

Passengers entering Argentina who have been anywhere on the African continent within the last 14 days before their arrival to the country must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon landing.

They must also show proof of being fully vaccinated and a negative PCR test done within 72 hours before departure. Upon arrival in Argentina, they must take an antigen test. Travelers who are not citizens or residents of Argentina will be required to prove they have health insurance that will cover Covid-19.

Australia

Australian officials have suspended all inbound and outbound flights to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa and Zimbabwe for at least 14 days and has banned foreigners with a travel history to these locations within the previous two weeks from entering.

Quarantine rules are still in places for the few people allowed to enter the country. Australian citizens and fully vaccinated visa holders may enter, but foreigners must quarantine in a hotel for up to 14 days. Some locals are allowed to quarantine at home, but each state has its own guidelines.

Meanwhile, the state of Tasmania is barring people who have been in any overseas location -- except for New Zealand's South Island -- from entering.

Brazil

Brazil's Presidential Chief of Staff Ciro Nogueira has said his country's air borders with South Africa, Botswana, Swatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe are now closed.

The measure, announced Friday, came despite President Jair Bolsonaro previously stating he would not support such border closures.

Canada

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos has announced that any non-Canadian who has been in South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and/or Eswatini from November 12 onward will be barred from entering the country. Canadian citizens or permanent residents who have been to one of those countries will still be allowed to come home, but with strict rules: they must have a negative PCR test to board their flight to Canada, must take another virus test upon arrival, quarantine at a hotel until they have a confirmed negative test result, and then quarantine at their residence for another 14 days.

Cambodia

Anyone who has visited Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Angola and/or Zambia in the past 21 days will be denied entry into the country as of December 2.

Chile

Chile has banned the entry of anyone who has spent time in the past 14 days in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Chile residents who have been any of the affected territories must submit to testing on arrival and quarantine for seven days.

China

One country not making major changes amid the Omicron news is China, likely due to the fact that its travel restrictions are already extremely tight with few if any foreigners able to enter the country. Zhong Nanshan, a top respiratory disease expert and government adviser, said China has no plans to take any "major action" in response to the Omicron variant.

Hong Kong, meanwhile, strengthened its already tight restrictions, banning any foreigners who have visited South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe in the past 21 days. Any Hong Kong residents arriving from the southern African countries will have to spend seven days in a government quarantine facility where they will undergo daily virus testing and be monitored by health professionals. After the seven days, they'll be required to continue quarantine for 14 days at a designated hotel.

Denmark

Denmark has advised its citizens against all travel to Angola, Malawi, South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, and introduced a mandatory 10-quarantine and testing regime for anyone who has visited them in the past 10 days.

All travelers who have stayed in any of the seven nations within 10 days before entry to Denmark must be tested and go into isolation for 10 days after entry, according to the Danish Foreign Affairs Ministry. Isolation can be broken on the 6th day after two negative PCR tests (on day 4 and 6).

Foreigners without a permanent residence in Denmark must have a worthy purpose to travel to Denmark and can only enter if they can present a negative PCR-test taken a maximum of 72 hours before the time of entry, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Egypt

Egypt says it has stopped direct flights from a number of southern African countries, including: South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini.

Fiji

Fiji is tightening its border regulations. The southern African countries were already on its "red list," but now only Fijian citizens can enter the country if they have been to one of the red-listed nations. In addition, they will now have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, with PCR tests carried out on days 5 and 12.

Riaz Hassan, a spokesperson for Fiji's Ministry of Health and Medical Services, told CNN the new restrictions will not affect the country's plans to reopen to tourists December 1.

France

France has suspended all flights from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini.

Germany

Germany has banned all flights from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Greece

Greece will allow only essential travel from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Eswatini, Zambia and Malawi, the country's health ministry said Friday in a statement.

Travelers will have to have a special permit from the local Greek embassies and diplomatic missions to travel, the ministry said, adding that on arrival they will be tested and put in quarantine hotels for 10 days after which they'll be tested again.

India

Beginning December 1, all international passengers must submit a self-declaration form to an online government portal that includes a 14-day travel history and a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to their departure, according to guidelines issued by India's Health Ministry.

Travelers from countries deemed "at risk" will also now face further testing and surveillance, including a PCR test on arrival. They will also have to quarantine at home for seven days.

As of November 26, "at-risk" countries include South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, as well as "countries in Europe including the United Kingdom," Brazil, Bangladesh, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.

Indonesia

Indonesia says it is banning the arrival of any foreigners who have spent time in the last 14 days in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini and Nigeria. Any Indonesian nationals who have traveled to those countries will be required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

Ireland

Ireland says it is imposing mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Irish residents arriving from affected countries will be allowed to isolate at home.

Israel

Israel has the distinction of being the first country to close its borders following news of the Omicron variant less than three months after the Middle Eastern country began allowing tourists back in. Israeli citizens can come back to the country but will have to quarantine, even if fully vaccinated.

Italy

Italy has restricted the arrival of anyone who has been in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini during the last 14 days.

Japan

As of November 30, Japan's borders are closed to any non-citizens, including international students, short-term residents (those already in the country can stay), or people visiting family.

Kuwait

Kuwait on Saturday halted direct commercial flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zambia and Malawi, and advised against all travel, particularly to southern Africa. Kuwaiti nationals arriving from affected countries must spend seven days in quarantine, while non-Kuwaitis would not be permitted to enter within 14 days of visiting the listed countries.

Maldives

Tourists who have traveled to or transited for more than 12 hours through South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Eswatini within the past 14 days will be denied entry into the country as of Sunday, the Health Ministry said.

Nationals of the Maldives and long-term visa holders arriving from these countries will still be allowed to enter, but will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine with virus testing.

Malta

Malta has banned travel to and from South Africa, Nambia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe.

Morocco

The Kingdom of Morocco has suspended all incoming international flights for a two-week period beginning midnight November 29.

Netherlands

The Netherlands has imposed a flight ban on the southern African region following reports of the new variant. Anyone entering the Netherlands who has been to one of those countries is required to quarantine at a government-selected hotel. Two people have already been arrested for violating this policy.

Nepal

As of December 3, Nepal will not issue tourist visas to passengers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi and Hong Kong.

The country's health ministry has recommended that Nepalis do not travel internationally unless it is an urgent situation, but there are no outright bans in place for outgoing passengers.

New Zealand

Only New Zealand citizens are allowed to travel from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique as of 11:59 p.m. local time on November 28.

Travelers from these countries are required to stay in managed isolation quarantine for 14 days and undergo testing, New Zealand's Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

Oman

Oman has suspended incoming flights from the following countries: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique, according to local media.

Anyone who has visited the seven countries within the past 14 days will also be banned from entry.

Pakistan

Pakistan announced on Saturday that it would be closing its borders to arrivals from South Africa, Hong Kong, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho and Botswana. Pakistani citizens returning from affected countries will be permitted entry if they're vaccinated and produce negative results taken from before and after travel.

Philippines

The Philippines has suspended inbound flights from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique until December 15.

Russia

Beginning November 28, non-Russians who have traveled in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are not allowed to enter the country. Russian nationals who have been to one of those countries -- or in Hong Kong, mainland China, Israel or the United Kingdom -- are permitted to enter but are required to take a PCR test upon arrival and self-isolate until they have a confirmed negative result.

Rwanda

Rwanda on Sunday announced a temporary suspension of direct flights to and from southern Africa. Anyone arriving from affected countries will be required to quarantine for seven days.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has suspended air connections with South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini. Anyone who has spent any of the past 14 days in affected countries will be barred from entry. Saudi citizens who have visited the region must quarantine for five days on arrival.

Singapore

Arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe are greatly restricted as of November 28.

Anyone who is not a Singaporean passport or residency holder who has visited at least one of those countries will not be permitted to enter Singapore or transit through the airport there. Singaporean citizens and residents who have visited one of the countries can still return home but are subject to a 10-day quarantine.

Spain

Passengers arriving to Spain from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe will have to quarantine for 10 days, with the possibility to leave isolation after a virus test on day seven. The new rules will be in place for 14 days, and could be extended further.

Passengers who are residents in the EU, Schengen space, Andorra, Monaco, Vaticano and el Marino, and who are transiting through to Spain to reach these countries, are exempt from the new rules, as well as airline crew members.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has banned the arrival of any foreigners who has been in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini in the past 14 days. Sri Lankan citizens arriving from the listed countries must spend 14 days in quarantine at home.

Thailand

Thai authorities have confirmed that they will ban travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe starting from December.

Turkey

Turkey on Friday issued a ban on arrivals from Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

UAE

Dubai is restricting travelers originating from or transiting from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, according to Emirates airline.

Outbound passenger flights from Dubai to the countries listed however are permitted, the statement said.

United Kingdom

Six countries have been added to the UK's "red" list: South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia. UK or Irish citizens or permanent residents returning from a red-listed country must quarantine in a hotel for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status. Citizens of other countries who have visited a red-list destination will not be able to enter at all.

As of 4 a.m. December 6, only UK, Irish citizens and residents will be allowed to travel from Nigeria and must isolate in a managed quarantine facility.

A day later, arrivals from countries not on the red list will be required to take a pre-departure test, regardless of their vaccination status.

Anyone entering the UK must now quarantine until they receive the results of a PCR test taken on their second day in the country. Anyone testing positive faces a 10-day quarantine.

United States

President Joe Biden said "I've decided we're going to be cautious," before announcing restrictions against non-citizens entering the United States from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

Vietnam

Vietnam has suspended international arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Lesotho and Mozambique, as well as the issuing of visas for passengers coming from these countries, state media reported.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

India has extended the suspension of scheduled international flights through 31 January 2022 over concerns of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Globe Aware volunteers will be updated when our India dates will be available for booking.


India extends international flight ban to January 2022

By Alfred Chua
December 2021
FLIGHTGLOBAL

India has extended the suspension of scheduled international flights through 31 January 2022 — days before it was due to reopen its borders — over concerns of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

A notice from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of India adds that the flight ban will not apply to cargo flights and passenger flights “specifically approved” by the authorities.

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It also states that it would allow selected scheduled flights “on a case by case basis”.

India was due to lift the ban on scheduled international flights — first imposed at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in 2020 — on 15 December, according to a 26 November DGCA announcement. However, days later, as infections from the Omicron variant grew around the world, the DGCA announced tightened measures for incoming arrivals.

On 1 December, the authority said it would delay border reopening indefinitely, citing the “evolving global scenario”.

While scheduled flights are largely banned, India has “travel bubble” arrangements with a number of countries. Most recently, it opened its borders to Singapore under the latter’s Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme for fully-vaccinated traveller.

Additional Info

  • Source FLIGHTGLOBAL

Prime Minister Hun Sen made an unexpected announcement that all fully vaccinated international travelers could visit the whole of Cambodia freely without quarantine from now on. All travelers, including Globe Aware volunteers, would have to show two negative Covid tests -- one taken no less than 72 hours before travel and one on arrival in Cambodia.


Cambodia re-opens to fully vaccinated travellers

15 NOV 2021
BANGKOK POST

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia has announced that fully vaccinated foreign travellers can visit the kingdom without quarantine from Monday, giving a boost to the Covid-hobbled tourism industry.

Travel restrictions imposed to tackle the pandemic put the brakes on Cambodia's burgeoning tourism industry -- revenue plummeted to $1 billion last year, down from nearly $5 billion in 2019, when the country attracted 6.6 million visitors.

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Prime Minister Hun Sen made an unexpected announcement on Sunday night that all fully vaccinated international travellers, tourists and businesspeople could visit the whole of Cambodia freely without quarantine from Monday.

The decision overrode the previous reopening plan, under which popular beach spots Sihanoukville and the island of Koh Rong, as well as Dara Sakor -- a Chinese-developed resort zone -- were set to welcome visitors from Nov 30.

And the reopening of Siem Reap -- the gateway to the world heritage-listed Angkor Wat complex -- is brought forward from January.

Hun Sen said travellers would have to show two negative Covid tests -- one taken no less than 72 hours before travel and one on arrival in Cambodia.

"When they arrive and we see they have received two doses of vaccine, we will take swabs for rapid tests. After results show they are free of Covid-19, they are allowed to travel across Cambodia," Hun Sen said in an audio message posted on his Facebook page.

"I order the ministry of health, the ministry of tourism and relevant sectors to implement these measures from November 15, 2021 onwards," he said, adding that the move was a quick way to re-open the country.

Hor Sophea, a tour guide at Angkor Wat, welcomed the move.

"It is a positive step for the survival of our tourism," she told AFP.

Unvaccinated travellers will have to quarantine for 14 days, Hun Sen said.

Cambodia was spared the worst of the pandemic in 2020, but has recorded the bulk of its nearly 120,000 cases since April this year.

The country has won praise for its swift vaccination programme -- 88 per cent of its more than 16 million population have been fully jabbed.

 

Additional Info

  • Source Bangkok Post
Monday, 06 December 2021 11:12

New US Omicron travel rules

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


 

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

Marnie Hunter and Forrest Brown
CNN
December 6, 2021

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

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

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

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

Are testing rules for entry into the US changing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Does 'one day' mean 24 hours?

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

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

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

Does the testing requirement apply to children?

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

Does it apply to land border and seaport arrivals?

No, the requirement is just for air travelers.

Is there a post-arrival testing or quarantine requirement?

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

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

What countries fall under the new US travel ban?

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

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

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

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

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

Can US citizens already in those nations return?

Yes they can.

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

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

Can US citizens still travel to the banned nations?

Technically, yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the US doing to detect the virus?

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

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


Come December 15, India will resume scheduled international flights

Jagriti Chandra
NOVEMBER 26, 2021
THE HINDU

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

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

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

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Fares likely to drop

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

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

Come December 15, India will resume scheduled international flights

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

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

Global travel this week

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


 

What we learned about global travel this week

Maureen O'Hare
CNN
27th November 2021


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

airplane 4974678 1920

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

A new variant triggered flight bans

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

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

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

Europe soldiered on with its winter season

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

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

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

US travel disruption continued its record-breaking year

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

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

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

Philippines and New Zealand revealed reopening plans

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

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

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

Egypt reopened its ancient Avenue of the Sphinxes

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

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

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

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

A restaurant group is bankrolling family trips home for its staff

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

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

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

A holiday love story

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

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

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


Tips for Travelers Facing Chaos and Crowds This Season

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

By Bill Fink
AARP
November 15, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Tips for air travel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tips for car travel

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source AARP
Monday, 22 November 2021 08:06

Thanksgiving travel tips

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

Thanksgiving travel tips

Nov. 19, 2021
By Katherine Shaver
The Washington Post

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Washington Post

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


Philippines Exempts Fully Vaccinated Foreign Travelers From Quarantine, Eases Restrictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source News18
Thursday, 18 November 2021 10:41

Many travel destinations reopening soon

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


From Angkor Wat to Havana, the travel destinations reopening soon

Maureen O'Hare
CNN
November 1, 2021

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

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1. Anguilla: A Lonely Planet best pick

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

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

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

2. Australia: Residents can travel again

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

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

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

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

3. Barbados: No quarantine for the vaccinated

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

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

4. Cambodia: Reopening to international travelers

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

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

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

5. Cuba: Welcomes tourists next month

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

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

6. Easter Island: Voted against reopening

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

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

7. Iran: Borders are open again

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

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

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

8. Israel: Reopening to vaccinated tourists

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

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

9. New Zealand: New easing measures

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

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

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

10. UK: Cleared its red list

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

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


9 vital questions to ask before embarking on a volunteer vacation

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

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

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

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

volunteer travel 2021

1. What is the destination like?

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

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

2. What will you be doing?

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

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

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

3. What will the hours be?

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

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

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

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

4. What, if any, compensation is included?

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

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

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

5. What are the accommodations like?

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

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

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

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

6. Is there a charge?

Many volunteer programs charge participants a fee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. What kind of support is provided for volunteers?

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

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

U.S. Travel Restrictions are Lifting Nov. 8

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


 

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

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

By Alison Fox
November 05, 2021
Travel + Leisure

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

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

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

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

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

Who will be allowed to enter on Nov. 8?

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

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

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

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

What will flights look like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What should travelers expect from hotels?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can travelers expect from vacation rentals?

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

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

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

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

What are travelers valuing for the future?

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

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

​​Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure

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


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

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

BY AARON SPRAY
OCT 31, 2021

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

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

Taktsang Monastery

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

  • Built: Around 1692 (Buildings Around The Cave)

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

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

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

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

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

  • Destroyed: In 1998 By A Fire

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

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

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

Visiting Bhutan

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

  • Policy: "High Value, Low Impact Tourism"

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

  • Visiting Temples: Requires A Temple Permit

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source The Travel

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


 

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

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

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

india covid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Self

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


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

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

October 27, 2021
Edited by Sumaila Zaman

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

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

cambodia travel

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source India.com

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


 

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

Ashley Kosciolek
Oct 26 2021

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

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

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

skull 5671571 1920

Decorations and creepy bric-a-brac

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

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

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

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

Candy

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

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

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

Costumes

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

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

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

Remains

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

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


 

Top 6 Helpful Travel Tips for Your First Visit To Cuba

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

cuba2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

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


 

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

The places inspiring your return to travel.

BY VALERIE MARINO
Condé Nast Traveler
October 5, 2021

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

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

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

galway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Big Cities

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

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

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

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

marrakech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Conde Nast Traveler

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


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

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

September 24, 2021 
Nivedita REmail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Nivedita REmail

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


 

Travel news: India, Bali and Vietnam announce opening plans

Maureen O'Hare
CNN
October 9, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. ...And Bali will gradually reopen too

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

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

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

6. Vietnam plans to fully reopen by June 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Israel now lets its citizens travel anywhere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
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