Monday, 27 November 2023 11:18

These are the biggest travel trends for 2024

From TV travel inspiration to dry tripping, Globe Aware volunteers can learn more about the emerging trends that may possibly have people packing their suitcases in 2024.

These are the biggest travel trends for 2024

It’s been a busy year for travel as people flocked to see Taylor Swift in concert and visited destinations made famous by hit TV shows like HBO’s The White Lotus.

Expedia Group just released Unpack ’24, a report based on a survey of 20,000 travellers, revealing key trends in 2023 that we can expect to see in the new year. The report includes data from travellers across Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo.

“These insights shape our travel forecasts, revealed in Unpack ’24, enabling our travellers to be the first to discover and book the most desired trips before they become well-beaten paths,” said Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands.

From TV travel inspo to dry tripping, these are the emerging trends that will have people packing their suitcases in 2024.

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TV-inspired travel

Forget travel brochures — people turn to TV shows and movies for travel inspiration. Set in Hawaii and Sicily, The White Lotus certainly had viewers dreaming about luxury resorts, while Netflix’s Wednesday had people adding Romania to their travel list.

“More than half of travellers say they’ve researched or booked a trip to a destination after seeing it on a TV show or movie, and one in four admit that TV shows and films are even more influential on their travel plans than they were before,” stated the report. “In fact, travellers say TV shows influence their travel decisions more than Instagram, TikTok and podcasts.”

Other popular filming locations include Malta (Gladiator 2), Paris (Emily in Paris season four), Scottish Highlands (Outlander), London, Bath and Windsor in the UK (Bridgerton and The Crown), and Korea (Squid Game).

Destination dupes

To cut down on travel costs, people are heading to “destination dupes” for a more affordable alternative. Travellers get more bang for their buck while visiting places that are “a little unexpected” and “every bit as delightful as the tried-and-true destinations travellers love.”

“The 2024 destination dupes all experienced a notable uptick in searches over the past year,” according to the report.

Some popular spots include:

  • Taipei (dupe for Seoul)
  • Pattaya (dupe for Bangkok)
  • Paros (dupe for Santorini)
  • Curaçao (dupe for St. Martin)
  • Perth (dupe for Sydney)

Tour tourism

There’s no doubt that Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour and Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour were some of the biggest tours this year — and people were willing to travel far to see their favourite performers.

“Nearly 70% of survey respondents say they are more likely to travel to a concert outside their own town, with over 40% saying they’d travel for a concert as an excuse to visit a new place,” states the report.

Thirty percent of travellers said they’d travel outside their city for a concert “because tickets were cheaper elsewhere.”

Top tour destinations include Kuala Lumpur, Edmonton, and Mexico City.

Dry tripping

As more people embrace the low- or alcohol-free lifestyle, the travel industry also caters to this changing preference. As a result, you’re more likely to find hotels with minibars “with zero-proof options or offering mocktail-making experiences.”

Among participants, 40% said they’re likely to book a detox trip in 2024, while 50% said they’d be interested in staying in hotels with alcohol-free beverage options.

“One in four say the top reason for drinking less on vacation is to stay in control and feel better emotionally and physically, and surprisingly, attending sporting events was the top reason travellers said they’d be likely to reduce alcohol consumption while travelling,” states the report.

Vibe check

It’s all about the vibe.

Whether retro or super modern, hotels have to pass the vibe check. According to Hotels.com, the number of reviews mentioning “vibe” has increased “an average of 1,090% year over year, and nine out of 10 travellers say the vibe of a hotel is important when booking.”

Any occasion

As people plan more trips with family and friends in 2024, one in four said they’re also more likely to look for “any excuse” to plan a getaway with loved ones. Occasions can include puppymoons or first-date-iversaries. People are also more likely to celebrate retirement, a new job, a promotion, or even quitting a job by going on a trip.

All about amenities

People are more likely to book properties with outdoor amenities, according to Vrbo. With the popularity of pickleball, it’s no surprise that vacation homes with pickleball courts are highly sought after.

“Survey data shows that 42% of travellers book vacation homes with amenities they either cannot afford to have at home or that they want to try out before they buy themselves,” stated the report. “Furthermore, nearly 30% say they would choose a vacation home with outdoor amenities, so they’d never have to leave the property.”

Other in-demand amenities include cold plunges, hot tubs, and saunas; fire pits, barbecues, or outdoor kitchens; ping-pong tables, padel tennis courts, and lawn games; and homes with access to fruit trees or a vegetable patch.

Additional Info

  • Source DailyHive

Long overlooked, Filipino food is finally recognized for its diversity and ingenuity. Here are some essential Filipino foods you must try at least once on your Globe Aware volunteer vacation in the Philippines!

OCT. 17, 2023

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The first food in the Philippines was shaped by the environment. Early human inhabitants of these mountainous islands had a diet rich in tropical produce and seafood, adopting rice as a staple once it was introduced around 3400 B.C.E. Subsequent centuries of interaction with foreign cultures, including long periods of colonization by Spain and the U.S., introduced new dishes and ingredients. Further innovations were born out of scarcity and hardship, as resourceful chefs found ways to make use of limited resources. These many factors have created a modern cuisine like no other in the world: One in which unlikely flavor combinations and diverse international influences come together in delicious harmony.

Long overlooked by mainstream American culture, Filipino food is finally being recognized in the U.S. for its diversity and ingenuity, something that culinary experts have been predicting for years. Here are some essential Filipino foods you need to try at least once.


In a 1975 essay, legendary Filipino food writer Doreen Fernandez argued for sinigang to be recognized as her country's quintessential dish. For Fernandez, it was the simplicity and adaptability of sinigang that made it so representative, and the way the dish makes use of the bounty of the land with indigenous ingredients. Fernandez saw sinigang as something all levels of society can make and enjoy, with whatever fresh ingredients are at hand.

So what is sinigang? Put simply, it's a sour soup, one of many found across Southeast Asia, such as Thai gaeng som or Vietnamese canh chua. Sour soups or curries are typically flavored with an acidic fruit, but exactly which fruit is used can vary widely. For sinigang, tamarind is a popular choice, but other options include guava, green mango, or calamansi, a local citrus variety. The soup also typically includes fish or meat with assorted vegetables, such as tomatoes, long beans, eggplant, or radish. Sinigang is easily customizable to the taste of chef and diner alike since it's often prepared with light seasoning so that diners can adjust their own bowl to their liking with sawsawan (dips) like chili and fish sauce. The tart flavors of sinigang are designed to complement rice, the Filipino staple.


When immigrants from the Fujian province in China settled in the Philippines and Indonesia, they introduced both countries to a rolled pastry stuffed with a filling called lumpia, meaning "moist cake." This was the origin of Filipino lumpia, one of several foods on this list derived from Chinese influence. Similar to spring rolls, lumpia have a simple wrapper made from flour and water and stuffing that may include meat, vegetables, or both. They are fried until golden and crispy and served with a dipping sauce.

One popular lumpia is lumpia Shanghai, which is rolled smaller and thinner than other lumpia varieties and stuffed with a Chinese-influenced mixture of pork, egg, and minced carrot. While other lumpia may be paired with Filipino condiments like garlic vinegar or banana ketchup, lumpia Shanghai is often served with a more Chinese-style sweet and sour dipping sauce (though this dish doesn't have anything to do with the city of Shanghai). A sweet version of lumpia, stuffed with gooey, sugar-coated fruit slices, is called turón or banana lumpia for its most typical filling, though it may also be filled with other fruits like mango or jackfruit.


Adobo, meat marinated in soy sauce and vinegar, is one of many Filipino dishes with Hispanic influence, thanks to Spain's colonial rule of the islands for nearly three centuries. In different parts of the Spanish-speaking world, the word adobo has different meanings for specific food preparations, but it literally means "marinated." In Spain, the original adobo was meat cooked after being marinated in vinegar, first to preserve it and later primarily for flavoring.

Spanish adobo was introduced to the Philippines during the colonial era (16th to 19th centuries), where it fits right in with a local appreciation for sour flavors and several indigenous styles of food preparation involving vinegar or sour juice, such as kinilaw, a raw fish salad, and sinigang. Filipino adobo was adjusted to local tastes with the addition of soy sauce, itself introduced from China, in place of salt. Most recipes also include garlic, bay leaves, and black pepper, but Filipino adobo varies widely from one region to another. It can be made with any protein, with or without vegetables, and different regions add different ingredients to the sauce, such as coconut, turmeric, or mashed pork liver.


There are at least three different stories as to the origin of this comforting Filipino peanut stew, but it's often believed to be influenced by Indian cuisine, and the name might come from Tamil kari, the same word that is the root of English "curry." Kare-kare does bear a resemblance to the stewed meat and vegetable dishes of South India, albeit with fewer spices and a milder flavor profile, but some of its ingredients, like peanuts and the spice annatto or achiote, originated in the Americas and arrived in the Philippines during the era of Spanish colonization.

Kare-kare's nutty, savory broth is made with garlic, onion, and powdered annatto seed, which provides a reddish color and a subtle earthiness, as well as a mixture of toasted ground rice and peanuts (peanut butter may be used as a shortcut). It's traditionally prepared over coals in a clay pot called a palayok, with a rich, fatty meat, traditionally oxtail, and vegetables like baby bok choy or long beans, which are blanched or steamed separately and added to the stew after the meat. A more creamy variation called kare-kare sa gata is made with coconut milk. Typically, kare-kare is seasoned minimally but may be adjusted at the table with chili or bagoong (pronounced ba-go-ong), a fragrant, salty fermented shrimp paste.


Spanish ships traveled regularly between the Philippines and Mexico when both were Spanish colonies. This resulted in culinary interchange that can be seen in dishes like Filipino champorado, which originally derives from Mexican champurrado, a thick, sweet beverage made with chocolate and cornflour. In the Philippines, where rice, not corn, was the staple grain, corn was swapped for glutinous rice (also called sticky rice), creating a sweet rice porridge or pudding which also lacks the cinnamon of Mexican champurrado.

Champorado is made by melting Filipino tablea, concentrated tablets of pure roasted chocolate, into sticky rice porridge, along with sugar. The dish is traditionally served for breakfast, topped with a drizzle of evaporated, condensed, or coconut milk and a side of tuyo, a type of dried, salted herring. Bold and unique flavor pairings are characteristic of Filipino cuisine, and this combination of sweet, creamy chocolate porridge with salty, savory dried fish is a signature example.


Halo-halo means "mix-mix" in Tagalog, and this action describes what you're meant to do before enjoying this brilliantly-colored frozen dessert that Anthony Bourdain loved. Halo-halo consists of shaved ice layered in a glass with various sweet toppings or small portions of other desserts, such as ice cream and flan. Crispy puffed rice or other dry toppings may be added at the end, as well as a drizzle of evaporated milk. Cold, refreshing, and bursting with contrasting textures and flavors, every bite of halo-halo is slightly different from the last.

Originally inspired by kakigori, a Japanese shaved ice dessert introduced to the Philippines in the mid-20th century, halo-halo bears a resemblance to shaved ice dishes prepared with various toppings throughout East and Southeast Asia, such as Korean patbingsu and Singaporean ais kacang. However, the ingredients used in halo-halo are distinctly Filipino: jackfruit, banana, beans in syrup, jelly, ube (purple yam), and shredded fresh coconut, to name just a few of the nearly endless possibilities.

Ice cream with pandesal

Ice was first imported to the Philippines from the U.S. in the mid-19th century, and iced desserts like flavored sorbetes (ice cream) were first encountered in this time period. Limited initially to the tables of the elite, ice would become more accessible in the 20th century, during the American occupation. One of the first permanent structures built by the U.S. government in the Philippines was an ice plant, established in 1902. This paved the way for ice cream to become a widespread and familiar part of Filipino food culture, with ubiquitous sorbetero street vendors selling cones of "dirty ice cream," so-named because it's dirt cheap.

One thing that sets Filipino ice cream apart from other ice creams is that it may be made with the rich milk of carabao, a local type of water buffalo. Another unique feature is the range of flavors, which may include distinctive Filipino ingredients like ube (purple yam), sweet corn, keso (cheddar cheese), or macapuno (a sweet jelly that forms naturally inside some coconuts). Aside from a cone, Filipino ice cream may be eaten in a sandwich on a small white bread roll, called pan de sal, or pandesal. Though it might sound unusual from a Western perspective, ice cream sandwiches are also made with bread in some other Southeast Asian countries, such as Singapore.


One of many Filipino dishes to pair sweet with salty are these chewy, melty rice cakes with a caramelized top. Bibingka is eaten year-round but is especially associated with the Filipino Christmas season, and can be topped with cheese, salted egg yolk, red bean, sugar, and coconut, among other possibilities. There are numerous different kinds of bibingka, including biko, sprinkled with coconut milk and brown sugar, and cassava bibingka, made with a base of grated cassava (yucca) root instead of rice flour.

The word bibingka refers to the unique cooking method used to produce the cakes: High heat is applied on top and low heat on the bottom to melt and caramelize the toppings. Traditionally, bibingka is baked in a clay pot lined with banana leaves and piled up with hot coals to apply heat from above. In a modern restaurant kitchen, this may be achieved in the top rack of a convection oven or by other methods.


Sisig is a classic example of pulutan, a small dish meant to be paired with alcohol. In fact, Anthony Bourdain called it "the best thing you could ever eat with a cold beer." It's a crispy, hearty stir-fry of chicken liver and pork parts with onion, sometimes also including an egg, and seasoned with chili, mayo, and calamansi lime juice. Sisig also pairs well with rice and may be made as a way of using up the leftovers from lechon, a whole suckling pig roast.

Sisig has changed quite a lot through its long history. The original version of sisig, dating back to the 18th century, was a sour salad served as a remedy. This became popular as a side dish, and in the mid-20th century, chefs started to add chopped, stir-fried meat from pig heads, such as the cheeks, snout, and ears to the salad so as not to let the meat go to waste. Chicken livers were added by a restaurateur in Angeles City, Philippines in the mid-1970s, creating the modern version of the dish.

Pancit palabok

Pancit is the Filipino name for noodles, and Filipino pancit are made from cornstarch or a mixture of cornstarch and rice flour, and there are several varieties that differ greatly in thickness. Pancit can be used to make many different noodle soups and stir-fried dishes, but one of the best known is pancit palabok, which is made with a type of noodle called bihon (when made with a thicker cornstarch noodle, it becomes the related dish called pancit luglug).

Pancit palabok is identifiable by its orangey broth, which is made with seasoned shrimp stock brightened with achiote or annatto, the same red spice found in kare-kare and popular in Latin American cuisines. Pancit palabok also includes a topping of shrimp, boiled egg, smoked fish flakes, pork cracklings, and toasted garlic, as well as calamansi juice, which provides an irresistible blend of contrasting flavors and textures to the dish.

Tortang talong

In different Spanish-speaking countries, the word torta (cake) or the diminutive tortilla can refer to many different dishes with a cake-like or loaf-like shape, including both sweet and savory. This includes Spain's tortilla de patatas, made from egg, onion, and potato, and in the Philippines, the word torta has been adopted to refer to any omelet-like egg dish, regardless of its ingredients. One of the most popular of these Filipino tortas is tortang talong, made with long Asian eggplant. A whole eggplant is roasted until soft and smoky, the charred skin is peeled, and the eggplant is mashed flat, dipped in beaten egg, and fried, often without removing the stem. You can even flip the tortang talong in the pan by grabbing the eggplant stem with your hand.

The result is a crispy fried exterior that contrasts with the buttery-soft eggplant inside. Tortang talong can be eaten as a snack or for breakfast or lunch, and it's typically served with rice and condiments like fish sauce or banana ketchup, and variations may be topped with vegetables or meat.


Silog is a portmanteau of two Tagalog words that describe its two components: sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (egg; in this context, usually a fried egg). Like other fried rice dishes, Filipino sinangag is typically made with cold leftover rice from the night before. First, minced garlic is fried until golden and crispy, then removed from the now garlic-infused oil. This oil is used to fry the rice and, for some chefs, also the egg. The crispy garlic bits are mixed back into the rice before serving for extra crunch.

One might think of silog as a crispier take on steak and eggs because this classic Filipino breakfast pairing of rice and egg is often served with meat. Salty processed or cured meats, such as ham, hotdogs, or Spam, are popular, but other proteins such as adobo may also be used. The name of the resulting trio depends on the name of the meat added: for example, a combination of rice, egg, and longganisa sausage is known as logsilog. Perhaps the most famous silog is tapsilog, invented in the 1980s and made with beef tapa, a traditional Filipino sun-dried jerky. Silog is complete as is, but can be spiced up with sauces and seasonings like the Philippines' popular banana ketchup.


In recent years, balut's popularity in the Philippines has been declining due to a combination of globalizing palates and the loss of duck-farming spaces to urbanization. However, this dish remains well-known as one of the most unique Filipino delicacies. The technique of making balut is said to have originally come from China. A fertilized bird's egg, usually a duck's but sometimes a chicken's, is boiled after being incubated for 16 to 20 days to allow the embryo inside to develop. Depending on when the balut is harvested and prepared, the embryo may be little more than a grayish lump or may have feathers, bones, and a beak. Younger balut eggs have fully edible contents, but the egg white becomes increasingly tough and rubbery as the egg matures and may be discarded. Once cooked, the egg contains broth that may be sipped from the shell or poured into a cup, and has an intensely flavorful and savory taste reminiscent of organ meat.

Balut is traditionally sold as a street food or snack, paired with a cold beer and seasonings like chili, salt, and vinegar, but modern chefs have also developed restaurant dishes that use balut as an ingredient. Balut is consumed under different names in other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Cambodia, and in the U.S., some Asian markets sell raw fertilized balut eggs for people to boil at home.

Filipino spaghetti

During the U.S. occupation of the Philippines in the early 20th century, the American military presence in the islands introduced American recipes and processed foods from military rations. Ketchup was used to make a sweet sauce for spaghetti and chopped hot dogs, but when World War II led to a scarcity of tomato ketchup, Filipinos started making red-dyed ketchup from bananas instead. It became sweeter and spicier than tomato ketchup with an identifiable banana flavor. Born out of necessity, banana ketchup spaghetti has now become popular in its own right.

Today, this quintessential Filipino comfort food is often served at family gatherings and can also be found on the menus of fast food chains, including McDonald's locations in the Philippines. One of many Filipino dishes to boldly pair sweet and savory, Filipino spaghetti is made with sliced hot dogs, sugary banana ketchup, and a grated processed cheese such as Velveeta. The end result is nothing like American or Italian spaghetti, but something unique to the Philippines and its vibrant cuisine.


Roast pork with crispy skin is a dish with fans across the globe, but the people of the Philippines are particularly passionate about this meaty delicacy. The Filipino word for it, lechon, is derived from the Spanish word "lechona," which translates to "suckling pig" in English. A suckling pig is a young pig — specifically one that is still being fed exclusively with milk. The original Filipino lechon was made with whole suckling pigs roasted on a spit over an open fire until the skin became brown and crunchy like a pork rind. The crackling skin would contrast beautifully with the flesh of the young pig, which would turn lusciously soft over the hours of slow cooking.

The classic whole-pig style of lechon, known as "lechon de leche," is still popular, but there are other versions now as well. Lechon kawali and crispy pata are made with the belly and knuckle of a pig respectively, but other than that, they are prepared the same. First, the pork is boiled to tenderize it, then it's deep-fried to replicate the crispy skin of lechon de leche.

Lechon is a classic party dish for big gatherings and also a popular street food. One lechon street vendor, Mang Tomas, became famous for his version of the liver-based sauce that's typically served with the dish. The now liver-free Mang Tomas All-Purpose Sauce has become one of the Phillippines' most popular condiments.

Bicol Express

Bicol Express sounds like the name of a train route, and that's indeed what it was named after. The dish was originally a nameless concoction served by vendors to passengers on trains heading to the Bicol region of the Philippines. That's one story, anyway — it may actually be influenced by Indonesian food or a recipe from Ilocos, a different area of the Philippines. No matter how it got its start, it became so popular and beloved that it is now prepared all over the country.

The dish is made by simmering small pieces of fatty pork together with coconut milk and seasonings. The richness of the two main ingredients is enhanced by the intensely savory flavors of shrimp paste, garlic, onion, and ginger. The final key ingredient is chile peppers. While you can use a variety of chiles when cooking the dish at home to suit your own heat preferences, the traditional choice is siling labuyo, a type that's native to the Philippines archipelago. Bicol is known for producing particularly hot chiles, so Bicol Express is normally pretty spicy.


If you're from the southern United States, you might turn your nose up at using the term "barbecue" to describe anything that isn't slow-smoked over hardwood. But for our money, any time meat is being cooked over some kind of open flame, that's barbecue, and almost every culture has an excellent version of this idea.

One popular way to make barbecue in the Phillippines is to thread small pieces of marinated chicken or pork onto skewers and grill them over charcoal. It's an easy thing to find from street vendors in the country and is also made at home, often as part of a celebration. Regardless of what type of meat you choose, the marinade will be about the same — it's similar to some styles of American barbecue sauce. It starts with a ketchup base, but in the Philippines, this typically means banana ketchup rather than classic Heinz (banana ketchup tends to be sweeter than tomato ketchup). 

Ingredients like garlic, chiles, soy sauce, and citrus add savoriness. Lemon-lime soda is a popular addition as well. The meat is marinated in this seasoning mixture before being grilled, and then the leftover marinade is used as a baste during cooking to build up a delicious caramelized coating. At the table, you can dip the chunks of meat into spiced vinegar.


Kinilaw is usually made with some kind of raw fish or seafood tossed in an acidic vinegar and citrus-based dressing that gently "cooks" the protein. Given its similarity to ceviche and the Spanish influence on many Filipino dishes, you might think that kinilaw is descended from ceviche, but it's actually an ancient dish from the pre-colonial era — it may be 1,000 years old or more.

Almost anything from the sea can be chopped up and used to make kinilaw. The sauce may include coconut milk or cream on top of the acidic components. Common flavorful mix-ins include onions, ginger, chile peppers, and garlic. Kinilaw is not a dish so much as it is a method — the word can refer to any type of fresh food that's mixed with an acidic sauce or eaten in a raw or semi-raw state. Sometimes, acidic dressings aren't used and the dish is served entirely raw, with no vinegar to "cook" the fish. Other times, the main protein is blanched or par-cooked before being mixed with the sauce; this is particularly common for kinilaw made with beef or other land animals rather than seafood.

Arroz caldo

There are few combinations of ingredients on Earth more comforting than chicken and rice. One classic Filipino dish based around these components is arroz caldo, a type of chicken and rice soup/stew. It's the perfect thing to soothe you when you feel under the weather. While the name is Spanish, the recipe reflects the influence of Chinese cuisine on Filipino cooks. It's basically a local version of congee, which is Chinese rice porridge.

To make it, chicken pieces are browned in a pan with oil. Rice and aromatics are fried in the chicken fat and then cooked with broth until a creamy, stew-like texture is achieved. The dish is usually flavored with onions, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce.

Arroz caldo is a creamy, soft dish, and it's often served with toppings that you can add at the last minute to give it some textural contrast and extra flavor. Common options include citrus wedges, sliced scallions, boiled eggs, and crispy fried minced garlic.


In English, dinuguan is sometimes called "chocolate meat" because of its rich brown color, but don't tuck into this thick stew expecting something sweet. Rather than cocoa, dinuguan gets its color from pork blood. The blood thickens the broth and adds a deep iron-y flavor to the stew. The dish also often contains various cuts of pork offal like liver, lungs, ears, and snout. The meat is simmered together with classic Filipino seasonings like vinegar, garlic, and chiles.

The origins of dinuguan are as murky as the color of its sauce. Its use of blood and off-cuts suggests that it was invented by poor cooks during the colonial era when the ruling Spanish reserved the premium parts of the animal for themselves. It may have roots in the indigenous cuisine of the Philippines and reflect a Spanish influence — the blood sausage morcilla is a very popular Spanish dish. Either way, blood is a very popular ingredient in Filipino cooking. In addition to dinuguan, there is a popular dish made with chunks of coagulated blood grilled on skewers that is whimsically called "betamax."

Additional Info

  • Source TastingTable
Monday, 20 November 2023 11:16

The Best Travel Accessories 2023

Black Friday is coming up soon, and Globe Aware volunteers looking to give the perfect gift to a fellow adventurer can check out this list of travel items!

The Best Travel Accessories to Make Your Trips a Breeze, According to an Expert

Add these to your cart before you jet

By Casey Clark and Erika Reals
July 8, 2023

Whether you’ve had a dream vacation planned for months or recently decided to pack up your bags and hop on the next flight out, you won’t want to leave without those travel essentials. You may already have your luggage and neck pillow packed and ready to go, but what about everything else? (You know, the stain sticks, earbuds, power banks, blankets — we could go on.)

With the help of Nabila Ismail, seasoned traveler and creator of Dose of Travel, we put together a list of the most helpful travel accessories worth packing, as well as some thoughtful travel advice for your next adventure. “I am team carry-on only, so everything comes with me,” Ismail tells PEOPLE. “Things I remember to put in my carry-on bag specifically are medications (OTC or prescription), electronic devices, contact lenses, lip balm, a hoodie in case it gets cold, and an extra pair of clothes in case your luggage goes missing.” With that in mind, we did our research to find the travel accessories worth buying, some of which we tested ourselves.

Keep reading to discover the best travel accessories, according to a travel expert.

Best Laptop Backpack: Solo Re:Define Backpack

Solo ReDefine Backpack

Who It's Good For
Those needing a bag with lots of storage (including a laptop sleeve) to carry their belongings.

Who It's Not Good For
This bag only fits a laptop up to 15 inches.

Looks can be deceiving, especially with this laptop backpack that may look simple from the outside, but actually boasts an extensive interior big enough to fit a laptop and other travel essentials in a neat and organized fashion. The fully padded pocket will keep your laptop secure so it doesn’t undergo any unwanted scuffs and damages as you travel. Not to mention the material is made from eight recycled plastic bottles, making it a great option for anyone seeking to lower their carbon footprint.

We even put this bag on trial in the PEOPLE Tested lab, and it passed with flying colors for every testing attribute — capacity, design, comfort, durability, and value. We recommend snapping this one up while it's deeply discounted!

Price at time of publish: $49.98 (orig. $82.99)

Laptop size: 15 inches | Material: 1680D Cordura Ballistic fabric | Colors: Black

Best Travel Pillow: Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow

Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow

Who It's Good For
Those looking for a machine-washable travel pillow that is comfortable and supportive.

Who It's Not Good For
The clasps easily came undone during our tests, so some may need a pillow that's more secure.

When considering the best travel pillows, form and function are key. The memory foam fill of this neck pillow provides a comfortable surface to sleep on for the entire duration of your trip with 360-degree coverage. Plus, it's machine washable which only adds to its value; after you get home, you can simply toss the cover in the washing machine and it'll be all clean and ready for next time. This travel pillow is so comfortable that it even earned the title of 'best overall' by the PEOPLE Tested lab.

Price at time of publish: $29.99

Dimensions: 10 x 9.5 x 5 inches | Material: Memory foam | Cover material: Velour

Best Sleep Mask: Tempur-Pedic Sleep Mask

Tempur Pedic Sleep Mask

Who It's Good For
Any traveler shopping for a comfortable memory foam eye mask that contours the face and blocks out light.

Who It's Not Good For
This mask is hand wash only, which may be less convenient compared to machine-washable sleep eye masks.

Whether you’re sensitive to light or simply want to zone out as you travel, this NASA-developed eye mask will do just the trick. Made with memory foam, this eye mask has contoured edges to block out light and keep it dark the entire time you sleep, and the flexible strap makes it easy to adjust so it’s not squeezing your head while in use.

Price at time of publish: $29

Size: One size | Material: Memory foam | Color: Dark navy blue

Best Stain Remover: Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover

Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover

Who It's Good For
A stain remover pen is a smart travel accessory to have on hand, especially if you're traveling to a place without a washer/dryer.

Who It's Not Good For
If you will have access to a washing machine at your destination, this is less of a necessity.

There’s nothing worse than drinking your favorite glass of wine or eating a hot dog and accidentally staining your clothes — especially when you don't have access to a laundry room while on vacation. However, this pocket-size stain remover can help remove stains in seconds by using a microfiber pad that lifts and absorbs them to leave your clothes looking brand new. And since it doesn’t contain bleach, it won’t discolor or damage even the most delicate materials.

Price at time of publish: $7.49

Count: Three-pack | Size: 1 oz.

Best Wired Headphones: Sony Wired Extra Bass In-Ear Headphones

Sony Wired Extra Bass In Ear Headphones

Who It's Good For
Someone who frequently travels on planes that aren’t updated to new phone models will appreciate this high quality and affordable pair.

Who It's Not Good For
It doesn't feature active noise cancelling, which some may prefer, especially for long flights.

Many airplanes are still equipped with the small circular jack found on older phone models, so you might as well have a pair on hand for your travels. With a built-in mic, crisp bass, and undistorted volume, these wired ear buds are ideal for binge watching your favorite sitcom on the plane or listening to tunes while high in the sky. They even come with four tip sizes so you can find one that best suits your specific ear shape.

Price at time of publish: $39.99 (orig. $50)

Jack: 3.5mm | Microphone: Yes | Controls: Volume, track, answer

Best Hand Sanitizer: Noshinku Refillable Hand Sanitizer

Noshinku Refillable Hand Sanitizer

Who It's Good For
These travel-sized hand sanitizers are not only slim and compact, but they also come in delightful scents and are refillable, helping reduce single-use plastic.

Who It's Not Good For
Someone with sensitive or dry skin who might get irritated by the alcohol or fragrance.

Nobody wants to think about how many germs are on the airplane snack table — or even touch screen, for that matter. With that in mind, it’s always a safe bet to have some hand sanitizer at your disposal. “I always recommend hand sanitizer or wipes...you also never know when you'll need them after hiking, spilling something, etc.,” says Ismail.

These hand sanitizers are super slim and compact, so you can keep one in your pocket or toss it in your carry-on for easy access. Plus, they're refillable, so once you run out you can keep the dispensers and just need to buy the refill packs, which helps reduce single-use plastic.

Price at time of publish: $34 (4-pack)

Size: 2.4 oz. | Scents: Bergomot, eucalyptus, lavendula, spice | Active ingredients: Coconut oil, eucalyptus, jojoba, sugarcane alcohol

Best Portable Charger: Halo Portable Phone Charger Power Cube

Halo Portable Phone Charger Power Cube

Who It's Good For
If you're constantly on your phone or electronic device, you'll need extra power on the go.

Who It's Not Good For
This only has two ports for charging — some people may need more for all their devices.

There’s nothing worse than traveling when your electronics are running on empty, especially if you need them to capture the wonderful moments. “Taking videos, photos, and navigating eats up your battery,” says Ismail. “I never want to be without charge while traveling because I don't want to miss out on photo ops or feel stressed on how to get home, call someone, etc.”

With that in mind, opt for this portable power bank that has enough power to charge up to two devices at the same time and can simply be recharged by plugging it into a wall power outlet or car charger. And if you’re not sure how much juice the charger has left, the LCD screen indicates the percentage of battery left so you know when it’s time for a recharge.

Price at time of publish: $65.06 (orig. $70)

Compatible with: iPhone, Samsung, LG | Extra features: Includes micro USB cable, type-c cable, and Apple lightning cable | Color: Speckle black

Best Beach Towel: Clowood Plush Bamboo Cotton Beach Towel

clowood towel

Who It's Good For
This bamboo towel is extra absorbent, soft, and holds up well in the wash.

Who It's Not Good For
If you're wanting a beach towel that dries super quickly, you may prefer a microfiber material instead of this cotton/bamboo blend.

Whether that’s a trip to the beach or a vacation to Disney World, you’ll always want to have a good beach towel handy. Made from cotton and bamboo, this towel is large, breathable and soft, providing a soft and absorbent place for your skin to dry off after a dip in the pool or ocean. It's even large enough to be used as a blanket on the beach to get the perfect sun tan or even enjoy a poolside picnic.

Price at time of publish: $29.99 (orig. $38.99)

Size: 72 x 40 inches | Material: 94% combed cotton, 6% bamboo fiber | Care: Machine wash cold on delicate cycle, no bleach

Best Packing Cubes: Tripped Compression Packing Cubes

Tripped Compression Packing Cubes

Who It's Good For
For those who has a tendency to pack a lot but doesn’t have tons of space, compression packing cubes

Who It's Not Good For
Not everyone needs packing cubes with compression abilities.

This two-piece set of packing cubes are an ideal way to save space as you back by compressing the air out of a pile of clothes (it also comes in a set of three or six, too). Unlike most compression bags, these don’t utilize a vacuum, but instead the zipper works to eliminate the extra bulk and provide more open space in your luggage so you can fit more inside. The durable fabric is designed to endure the wear and tear of travel, so rest assured they won’t break or rip.

Price at time of publish: $18.95

Size: 14 x 10 x 1 inches (compressed) | Material: Polyurethane | Sets: 2, 3, or 6 pieces

Best Luggage Tag: Apple AirTag

apple airtag

Who It's Good For
Digital air tags for luggage are especially important in this age of travel so you can keep tabs on where your luggage is located.

Who It's Not Good For
If you're not checking bags for your upcoming trips, this won't be as helpful.

“If you are struck with the bad fortune of your luggage getting lost, an item tracker will be able to immediately find out its whereabouts and kickstart the process of retrieving it,” says George Hammerton, director of Hammerton Barbados. “From the location, you will also be able to estimate how long it will take for it to be returned to you and in turn, how much time you have to do without it. This will enable you to weigh up the necessity of buying replacements as opposed to waiting it out. This can be particularly helpful for those getting connecting flights who would be unable to work out which airport their bags were left in otherwise.”

Using the Find My app on your iPhone, you can keep track of where your luggage is. If you’re close enough, you can play a sound through the built-in speaker to help provide direction to where it's located, too.

Price at time of publish: $29

Dimensions: 1.6 x 1.6 x 0.31 inches | Color: White | Battery: Lithium battery

Best White Noise Machine: Dreamegg Portable White Noise Machine

Dreamegg Portable White Noise Machine

Who It's Good For
This portable option is a sound machine and night light in one, only weighing a third of a pound.

Who It's Not Good For
Since there's no timer function, you won't be able to schedule noise to turn off at a certain time.

When you’re at your home away from home while on vacation, you may want to stay on your normal bedtime routine. Not only does this handy machine serve as an alarm clock and a nightlight, but it's also a white noise machine with eleven different sounds to choose from. If you decide to subscribe, you’ll receive access to additional features including meditations and stories which can help put you to sleep and ease anxiety in a new destination. Since it weighs mere ounces, it's light enough to throw into your either your carry-on or checked bag with no problem.

Price at time of publish: $29.50

Dimensions: 4.57 x 4.41 x 2.28 inches | Weight: 0.35 lbs. | Sound Options: 11 | Night Light: Yes | Timer: No

Best Wireless Headphones: Apple Airpods Pro (2nd Generation)

Sony Wired Extra Bass In Ear Headphones

Who It's Good For
These impressively rated Apple earbuds feature 6-hour battery life and active noise cancellation, which is virtually a must-have for long flights.

Who It's Not Good For
Since these are Apple headphones, those with Samsung or Google devices may need something more compatible.

Traveling can be hectic, but a solid pair of wireless headphones can help you zone out. With active noise cancellation, these wireless headphones remove unwanted noise and adjust so you won’t miss those important gate announcements at the airport. And with 30 hours of listening time on a full charge, these wireless headphones will last for longer flights and car rides without worry of needing to recharge.

Price at time of publish: $229.99 (orig. $249)

Battery life: 6 hours | Noise canceling: Yes | Water resistant: Yes

Best Water Bottle: Thermoflask Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Thermoflask Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Who It's Good For
If you want a cold or hot beverage on the go that’ll last for hours, you can't go wrong with a leak-proof Thermoflask.

Who It's Not Good For
This water bottle isn't dishwasher safe, which may be inconvenient for some.

Whether that’s a morning cup of ice water or a hot latte, this insulated water bottle can keep your beverages both cold and warm for between 12 and 24 hours. You’ll see two lids both for chugging and sipping with a straw to cater to both preferences, and it’s just the right size to fit most cup holders on planes, trains, and cars.

Price at time of publish: $27.99 ($34)

Size: 40 oz. | Materials: BPA-free stainless steel | Dishwasher safe: No | Lid style: Chug spout or straw

Best Bluetooth Transmitter: Twelve South AirFly Pro Bluetooth Transmitter

Twelve South AirFly Pro Bluetooth Transmitter

Who It's Good For
If you prefer listening via Bluetooth instead of wired headphones, then this will come in handy.

Who It's Not Good For
This accessory won't be necessary if you already have wired headphones with the correct plug for the plane jack.

Instead of buying another pair of headphones, this bluetooth audio adapter seamlessly transfers the audio from your on screen television to your headphones without hassle. Its long battery life makes it a great option for those longer trips where you’ll need as much juice as possible. If you're flying with a companion, we recommend the AirFly Duo, which allows you both to connect to the Bluetooth simultaneously — meaning you'll be able to watch a movie or show on the plane together.

Price at time of publish: $44.99

Weight: .5 oz. | Size: 1.75 x 1.25 x .38 inches | Battery life: 16 hours

Best Compression Socks: Bombas Women's Everyday Compression Sock (3-Pack)
Bombas Womens Everyday Compression Sock 3 Pack

Who It's Good For
Designed to reduce swelling while in the plane, train, or car, these socks are also great for walking.

Who It's Not Good For
If you don't experience feet swelling during travel, you can make do with regular socks.

These compression socks boast a medium level of compression for those long plane and car rides where you don’t want to experience unwanted swelling. With strategic zone cushioning, they will keep your feet comfortable from all sides. They are even good for walking, so if you’re going somewhere you’ll be on your feet for a long time, then these become multi-functional.

Price at time of publish: $84

Size: S-L | Material: 64% Cotton, 17% Polyester, 13% Nylon, 6% Spandex | Care: Machine wash cold, do not bleach, air dry.

Best SunglassesFoldies Polarized Folding Classics V2

Foldies Polarized Folding Classics V2

Who It's Good For
Anyone looking to save as much space as possible when packing, as these handy sunglasses fold in half seamlessly.

Who It's Not Good For
While these sunglasses are unisex, some may prefer a different style for their head shape.

For those sunny travel destinations, you’ll need the best sunglasses to take with you. The polarized lenses offer full spectrum UV-protection, including UVA, UVB, and UV400. They are available in a plethora of colors from red to black, so you can choose one that best suits your style. The best part is that they are foldable, so you can save some extra space in your fanny pack, backpack, carry-on, or pocket.

Price at time of publish: $69

Features: 100% UVA + UVB protection | Warranty: 2 years

Best Checked Luggage: Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner
Samsonite Freeform Medium Spinner

Who It's Good For
Samsonite luggage is known for its high quality design, and this option features 360-degree spinner wheels, TSA-approved lock, and a durable hard shell.

Who It's Not Good For
This bag isn't a carry-on size, so you won't be able to bring this into the plane cabin with you.

With 360-degree spinning wheels, this checked luggage is easy to roll around the airport and beyond, making it one of the best travel accessories you can invest in. It may be lightweight, but it is designed with a super strong shell that’ll keep your belongings protected from wear and tear during travel. There’s a cross-ribbon divider to keep items separate and organized and a TSA-approved combination lock to keep your items secure while they are in transit.

Price at time of publish: $167.99 (orig. $229.99)

Size: 24 inches | Weight: 8.48 lbs. | Warranty: 10-year limited

Best Fanny PackDagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack
Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack

Who It's Good For
Anyone looking for a small bag that's both durable and stylish to carry around their daily essentials.

Who It's Not Good For
If you just need a place to keep your phone and cards, we recommend another option on this list, the Dagne Dover Mara Phone Sling.

With an adjustable strap and front zipper, this fanny pack comes in handy for carrying cards, keys, and other daily essentials. “It's hands-free, great for long walks, going to concerts, or hiking," says Ismail. "Also, [it's] safer since the valuables are close to you." For a more stylish look, this pack can be worn over the shoulder like a crossbody for easy access on the go.

Price at time of publish: $95

Dimensions: 9.25 x 5.5 x 2.75 inches | Material: Premium neoprene | Colors: Onyx, heather grey, dark moss, dune, storm, camel

Best Pill Organizer: MEACOLIA 3 Pack 8 Compartments Travel Pill Organizer

MEACOLIA 3 Pack 8 Compartments Travel Pill Organizer

Who It's Good For
Featuring eight compartments, the pill cases can easily hold your prescription medication as well as any vitamins.

Who It's Not Good For
Not everyone needs three separate pill cases with eight compartments for their medications.

Instead of opting for a large pill case, use this travel-sized one that can store all of your pills — from prescription and over-the-counter medications to your daily vitamins and supplements. Utilize the eight compartments to separate them based on medication or day so there’s no confusion when it comes to taking your pills.

Price at time of publish: $9.97 (orig. $14)

Size: 4.33 x 3.54x 1.2 inches | Material: Cereal fiber material, food-grade plastic, silicone | Color: Blue, green, khaki

Best Weekender: Béis The Weekender Travel Bag

Beis The Weekender Travel Bag

Who It's Good For
Great for weekend trips or business travel, this duffel features a padded laptop sleeve, trolley pass-through sleeve, and plenty of organizational design details.

Who It's Not Good For
While this is a good size for a weekend trip, some may need more packing space depending on what they need to bring.

Unlike a bulky suitcase, Ismail recommends this traveler bag that’s ideal for carrying clothes and toiletries for those shorter trips. The separate bottom compartment can be used to hold toothbrushes, brushes, and makeup or an extra pair of shoes, whereas the top part of the tote can hold clothes and other items you’ll need on your trip. Plus, there’s a removable shoulder strap, top handles, and a trolley pass-through sleeve to give you carrying options.

Price at time of publish: $98

Weight: 3.86 lbs. | Material: Jute canvas, vegan leather | Capacity: 49 liters

Best Cosmetic Bag: Calpak Medium Clear Cosmetic Case

Calpak Medium Clear Cosmetic Case

Who It's Good For
This translucent cosmetic case is the perfect size for travel — big enough to store everything you need to take with you but still small enough to fit inside a carry-on.

Who It's Not Good For
If you're someone who needs a full glam while on vacation, you may need to opt for a bigger makeup case.

You may already have a ton of travel-size makeup products to take with you, but where will you store them? This medium-size makeup case is just the right size to hold that foundation, eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, concealer, and any other products you might need. And with its transparent panels, you’ll be able to see what’s inside without having to open it, making it even more convenient for both you and TSA.

Price at time of publish: $85

Features: Zipper closure, top grab handle, zippered compartments, transparent PVC panels | Material: PU, PVC, polyester | Dimensions: 9.75 x 5 x 7.5 inches

Best Flip Flops: Havaianas Women's Slim Flip Flop

Havaianas Womens Slim Flip Flop

Who It's Good For
These Havianas offer a wide size and color range and the rubber material makes them perfect for trips to the beach, lake, or pool.

Who It's Not Good For
Thong flip flops aren't designed to be worn for long distances, so if you're doing a lot of walking we suggest bringing sneakers or more supportive sandals.

While some travelers need sneakers to fare well on vacation, others might be a fan of more relaxed footwear options like flip flops — especially if you plan to be near or in a body of water. Made with thin straps and soles, these flip flops are great for trips to the pool or beach when you want your feet to be free.

Price at time of publish: $15.95 (orig. $30)

Size: 6-12 | Material: Synthetic PVC, rubber | Features: Cushioned footbed, thong style, textured rice pattern

Best Sling: Dagne Dover Mara Phone Sling

Dagne Dover Mara Phone Sling

Who It's Good For
Opt for this Dagne Dover bag if you're looking for something sleek, stylish, and lightweight for holding your daily essentials while traveling.

Who It's Not Good For
Some may need more room for their daily essentials, as this sling is designed to be only slightly bigger than a smart phone.

This neoprene sling is one of the best travel accessories because it’s not only lightweight, but also practical. With interior pockets and a full-length mesh back pocket, you can easily keep your belongings inside (phone, keys, lip balm, credit cards, ID, etc.). When it’s time to head out, just toss it over your shoulder or across your chest for hands-free wear.

Price at time of publish: $75

Dimensions: 10.24 × 5.51 × 1.97 inches | Material: Premium neoprene, performance air mesh, recycled Repreve lining made from recycled plastic bottles | Weight: 0.3 lbs.

Best Travel Blanket: Away The Travel Blanket

Away The Travel Blanket

Who It's Good For
This temperature-regulating blanket can fit in your carry-on luggage and is perfect for chilly flights or car rides.

Who It's Not Good For
It may not be a big enough blanket to use for a full night’s sleep.

Airplanes, cars, and trains have one thing in common — they can all get pretty chilly. Use this travel blanket made with 37.5-degree technology which works to either cool you down or warm you up depending on your current temperature. It features snaps to connect with the brand's neck pillow or an additional blanket for even more coverage. Because it's easily foldable, you can pack it in your bag when you're not using instead of lugging it around through the airport.

Price at time of publish: $95

Dimensions: 69.5 x 44.5 x 0.25 inches | Material: Cocona, nylon | Weight: 1.05 lbs.

Best E-Reader: Amazon Kindle (2022 Release)

Who It's Good For
Kindles are super lightweight, compact, and better for your eyes than a blue-light tablet or computer.

Who It's Not Good For
Anyone that prefers reading on a backlit blue-light screen instead of a paper-like display.

E-readers are ideal for those bookworms who want to get their head into a good book without carrying a physical copy with them. The latest Kindle offers high resolution for sharp text and a book-like feel with its paper-like display. Instead of just bringing one book, you’ll have access to over 2,000 titles from popular authors with this handy e-reader.

Price at time of publish: $99.99

Storage: 16 GB | Features: 300 ppi high-resolution display, adjustable front light | Material: recycled plastics, recycled magnesium

Best Sunscreen: Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40

Who It's Good For
This highly rated sunscreen is SPF 40, goes on completely clear, and is great for layering over makeup or other skincare without leaving a white cast.

Who It's Not Good For
Since it's relatively pricey, especially for the size, this sunscreen is better used for just the face rather than as a whole body sunscreen.

This sunscreen is ideal for the face to protect it from the sun’s harmful rays without leaving an unwanted white cast. In fact, this was one of our favorite sunscreens when testing the best face sunscreens. The oil-free formula glides onto the skin and can easily be applied before a makeup or skincare routine. It’s also not sticky and is super quick drying so there’s no excess moisture after application.

Price at time of publish: $38

Features: Invisible, lightweight, scentless | Ingredients: Octinoxate, Oxybenzone | Weight: 90 grams

Best Steamer: Steamery Cirrus 3 Travel Steamer

Who It's Good For
This hybrid gadget is part steamer, part iron, making it a great option for anyone who needs a quick wrinkle-release at their hotel.

Who It's Not Good For
Some may prefer a more traditional ironing board to press their shirts and pant creases.

This steamer is a hybrid between a steamer and an iron to remove unwanted wrinkles and get rid of odors and bacteria. If you forget to unplug it, the auto-shut off feature will power it down after 30 minutes so there’s no need to return back to your hotel room to double check it’s turned off.

Price at time of publish: $144 (orig. $180)

Color: Sand | Wattage: 1000 W | Dimensions: 5.51 x 3.94 x 9.84 inches

Best Digital Luggage Scale: Luxebell Digital Luggage Scale

Luxebell Digital Luggage Scale

Who It's Good For
Anyone who tends to overpack, especially those flying on smaller international flights with strict carry-on and checked bag weight limits.

Who It's Not Good For
This scale only reads up to 110 lbs., so it may not work for those checking extra large and heavy items in their suitcase.

There’s nothing more inconvenient than getting to the airport and realizing your bag is 5 lbs. over the weight limit. Using this portable digital luggage scale, you’ll be able to weigh your bag before hitting the airport so you can adjust accordingly without the added stress.

Price at time of publish: $10 (orig. $12)

Weight capacity 110 lbs. | Material: Plastic | Color: Silver

How to Pick the Right Travel Accessories

Expect the Unexpected
There are certain things you need while traveling — medication, a phone charger, clothes, etc. Those are the items you’ll definitely want to prioritize. However, travel accessories are those things that will make your travels more enjoyable. They may not be a necessity, but they may definitely come in handy and you’ll be glad you have them — for example, a stain stick for unwanted spills or an eye mask for those last minute naps in the sky or passenger seat.

Prioritize Comfort
Travel can be stressful so the best travel accessories will be those that will make the experience better and more enjoyable. These don’t have to be grand items, but something as small as a pair of headphones to listen to music in flight or a neck pillow to keep your head comfortable can make all the difference on your journey.

Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most useful items for traveling?
The most useful items for traveling will vary from person to person, however there are some items that most people will find helpful.

Ismail recommends bringing hand sanitizer, a power bank, a microfiber towel, and a fanny pack when you’re traveling — think the Halo Portable Phone Charger Power Cube, Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack, and Clowood Plush Bamboo Cotton Beach Towel.

Hammerton adds that you’ll want a good carry-on backpack that ticks the boxes of comfort and capacity. “The right bag will leave you with plenty of space to fit all of your items and spare you the stress of playing Russian roulette every time at security as you wonder how you’re going to squeeze everything back into your unforgiving carry-on,” he adds.

What do I put in my carry-on bag?
The items in your carry-on should be those that you might need during your trip. For example, you wouldn’t want to keep your wallet in your checked bag because you’d have no way of accessing it. However, Hammerton suggests holding onto your passport and tickets and packing a compact portable charger and noise-canceling headphones. You can even pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag just in case anything happens to your checked bag.

Are packing cubes worth it?
The overall consensus is that packing cubes are definitely worth it, especially if you like organization and you’re traveling for a while. “I feel like they serve their purpose just by keeping you organized so you don't have to spend time going through everything,” Ismail says. “It also helps separate clean from dirty clothes.” Packing cubes can also help free up more space in your luggage to fit other items you may need so you don’t have to bring another checked bag with you.

Additional Info

  • Source People
Monday, 20 November 2023 11:07

Thanksgiving Travel: Tips to Stay Healthy

The holiday season is getting underway, and for many Americans, traveling home to gather with family and friends at the Thanksgiving table is an annual rite of passage this time of year. Amid all the joyous hustle and bustle, it’s important for folks, including Globe Aware volunteers to take steps to remain healthy when you’re hitting the road. Here are some expert tips to ensure you don’t spread sickness to vulnerable family members and you feel at your best for this year’s festivities.

Thanksgiving Travel: Tips to Stay Healthy


The holiday season is getting under way, and for many Americans, traveling home to gather with family and friends at the Thanksgiving table is an annual rite of passage this time of year. Amid all the joyous (and sometimes stressful) hustle and bustle, it’s important to take steps to remain healthy when you’re hitting the road. Here are some expert tips to ensure you don’t spread sickness to vulnerable family members and you feel at your best for this year’s festivities.

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Before Thanksgiving: travel checklist

Schedule a doctor’s appointment

Even before you walk out the door, there are a variety of steps you can take to increase your odds of feeling well when the turkey comes out of the oven. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least a month before you leave, make an appointment with your doctor. They can give you a check-up and help ensure that you are up to date on all of your routine vaccinations, such as COVID-19 and flu shots, as well as any destination-specific vaccinations you may need.

Make healthy choices

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, certain illnesses, such as colds, flu, and other respiratory conditions, are more common in the colder months. Fortunately, there are preventive measures you can take to increase your chances of avoiding bugs, including eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep (between 7 and 9 hours a night for most adults, according to the National Institutes of Health), and washing your hands with soap and water frequently.

Pack healthy travel essentials

As you’re packing your bags to hit the road, include items such as hand sanitizer or wipes to use when soap and water aren’t available (alcohol based with at least 60% alcohol is best, according to the CDC), face masks (particularly for areas that are crowded or have poor ventilation), an empty water bottle that can be filled and refilled at filling stations or water fountains (be sure to keep the bottle off the spout to avoid germs), your medications, and a basic first-aid kit (visit the Cleveland Clinic for tips on what to include).

Thanksgiving travel: healthy choices on the road

You’re on your way! Once your trip is in motion, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure you’ll reach your destination feeling healthy and well.

Eat a balanced diet

Although hitting fast-food joints and chowing down on greasy fare may be tempting with everything else you have to keep track of, it’s important to maintain a healthful eating pattern while you’re on the road. In some situations, bringing your own nutritious snacks may be a good option. If you have a cooler, items such as fruits, veggies, string cheese, and hard-boiled eggs can be good choices. Healthy non-perishable selections include whole-grain crackers, granola bars, and plain, air-popped popcorn. In other cases, you may have no choice but to select restaurant items. In this scenario, it’s important to watch your portion sizes, stick with low-calorie beverages, eat plenty of vegetables, avoid high-calorie toppings and salad fixings, and, if possible, ask that your food be prepared without butter, oil, sugar, or salt, according to Piedmont Health. Avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol and continuing to stay hydrated can also help ensure you arrive at your destination feeling well.

Work in some movement

Being on a long car ride or flight can make working in physical activity challenging, but it’s not impossible. For road trips, experts recommend pulling over in a safe spot and stopping for 15 minutes every two hours to walk around and get some fresh air. On flights, go for regular walks around the cabin to keep your blood pumping or try some of these seated movement options.

Maintain good hygiene

Crowded areas can be a breeding place for germs. To avoid catching a bug, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water frequently. When soap and water aren’t available, use the hand sanitizer or wipes that you packed to disinfect your hands and clean off areas like airplane tray tables. And be sure to avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.

Time to dine: healthy choices for Thanksgiving dinner

You’ve arrived at last! As you gather with loved ones, the choices you make can help ensure you round out your Thanksgiving trip feeling as well as when you started.

Make smart food choices

Although it can be tempting to overindulge, it’s wise to take a balanced approach to your Thanksgiving feast. Keep a careful eye on portion sizes and focus on healthier food options, such as vegetables and lean protein. According to Medical West, mindfully eating your meal by slowly savoring the food and putting your fork down between bites can help you feel satisfied with less. And try to skip the seconds — not only will this help keep the calorie count lower, but it will leave more food for leftovers the next day!

Make smart beverage choices

It’s also important to avoid overindulging in alcohol. If you will be consuming alcoholic beverages, drink only in moderation — 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women, according to the CDC — and stay well-hydrated with water between alcoholic beverages. And remember that plain water (or water infused with flavor from fruits or vegetables) is always the best beverage choice.

Protect your mental health

While visiting family and friends who you haven’t seen in ages can be fun, it can also be downright stressful. Be sure to take time out for yourself to read, meditate, walk, do breathing exercises, or participate in other activities that you find calming and relaxing.

Should you go to Thanksgiving if you’re sick?

As the season for flu and other transmittable illnesses ramps up, many people are wondering whether they should make the trek to Thanksgiving dinner if they’re sick. According to experts, it’s best to avoid visiting until everyone is healthy. “If you are sick or a family member or friend you are planning on having Thanksgiving with is sick with the flu or influenza-like illnesses, you should avoid contact, says Libby Richards, PhD, Associate Professor at the School of Nursing in Purdue University. “Give everyone space, get rest, and celebrate when everyone is feeling better. Don’t visit until the symptoms have resolved.” Babies, older adults, and people who are immunocompromised can be at especially high risk from illnesses such as flu and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), notes North Carolina Health News.

If you are feeling even slightly sick (even if you think it’s “just allergies”), including symptoms such as cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, or sneezing, or if you feel all right but test positive for a condition such as COVID-19, you should stay home, the experts say. (You can consider taking a rapid at-home COVID-19 test shortly prior to the gathering to ensure you don’t have an asymptomatic infection.) Instead, join the gathering virtually, send store-bought treats in your absence, or delay the celebration until everyone is well.

Have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving

The holidays can be lots of fun, and they can be even more fun when everyone is feeling their best. Prioritize your health and the health of your loved ones this year and give thanks for all the steps you can take to stay well. Have a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Awaits
Sunday, 12 November 2023 08:09

What Families Want When Traveling in 2024

The focus on family travel is huge: 81 percent of parents said it’s likely they’ll travel with their children in the next year. Many Globe Aware volunteer vacations are family-friendly, open all year round, and ready for booking.

What Families Want When Traveling in 2024

By Lacey Pfalz
October 26, 2023
Travel Pulse

The Family Travel Association (FTA) has released the findings of its 2023 U.S. Family Travel Survey, identifying an increased desire for families to travel more while being more budget-conscious as costs continue to be higher than average for travel.

The survey polled over 3,300 parents and grandparents and was conducted in partnership with the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality and Edinburgh Napier University.

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The focus on family travel is huge: 81 percent of parents said it’s likely they’ll travel with their children in the next year. Thirty-eight percent of parents have booked at least one trip with a travel advisor in the last three years, while 71 percent are willing to do so in the next few years (an increase of over 20 percent from 2022).

While families want to travel more in the next year, 59 percent are concerned about affordability. Fifty percent of parents will avoid hotels and airlines that charge extra fees, 49 percent will pay attention to cancellation policies and 36 percent will choose more affordable accommodations in the next year to save money.

Families also shared their perspectives on how the travel industry could better address the needs of multigenerational families, including making it easier for families to sit together on flights, adding more connecting room options or family-oriented rooms in hotels and doing away with hidden fees and charges.

Still, families desire to travel farther in the next few years, despite the rising costs. About 76 percent of respondents want to travel internationally with their children, while Europe, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean are the most popular international destinations for families.

The Family Travel Survey also found that the majority of parents agree that traveling helps their children recover from the pandemic, open their minds to new experiences and provides them with opportunities to learn outside of the classroom.

"Being a parent of two young kids, it's empowering to see that family travel has positive impacts on the social-emotional development of children, while also helping to offset many negative lingering effects of the pandemic,” said Anna Abelson, Adjunct Instructor at the NYU SPS Tisch Center of Hospitality.

“Parents deal with many anxieties in children and young people, and family travel is a valuable parenting tool for tackling these and other issues,” continued Abelson. “For example, the survey revealed that family travel makes children less isolated (58%), encourages them to be more adventurous with food (48%), and makes them more comfortable around strangers (44%). It's hard to overestimate the role of family travel."

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

Would Globe Aware volunteers pay extra to have a free row of seats? Here's what you need to know about this new service!

A major airline is letting customers pay $30 for elbow room

Would you pay extra to have a free row of seats?

By Veronika Bondarenko
Oct 23, 2023
The Street

While many travelers will remember scoring that elusive free row of economy seats on an empty plane, even a single free seat next to you has become increasingly rare in 2023.

More and more, airlines are planning routes to minimize the number of planes flying half-empty and spreading out staff based on routes with the most travelers amid the surge of demand (and dearth of staff to meet it) post-pandemic.

While TikTok is currently bursting with dubious "travel hacks" promising to keep the seat next to one's ticketed place free, one airline is turning this around and offering it to those who pay.

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Here's what you need to know about Qantas' new neighbor-free seating

Qantas Airways (QUBSF) , which is Australia's flagship air carrier, officially debuted its "Neighbour Free Seating" service on Oct. 21 – passengers who want to guarantee they do not have anyone sitting next to them on an international flight can pay $45 Australian dollars (roughly $28 USD) for flights between Australia and New Zealand, $100 AUD ($63 USD) for flights between Australia and Singapore and $225 ($142 USD) for long-haul flights between Australia and the U.S.

Airlines see a new kind of traveler at the front of the plane

All in all, the service will be available on 19 international flights and is meant to test how popular the option is before rolling it out to more and shorter flights. Some of the routes slated to have the option include Sydney-Dallas, Sydney-Honolulu and Los Angeles-Melbourne.

"The data shows it's most popular with customers on our longer flights between the east and west coasts, so rolling it out to our international flights makes a lot of sense," Qantas' Chief Customer And Digital Officer Catriona Larritt said in a statement.

As the service depends on how full the flight gets and the seat selection patterns of the travelers, one will only know if the service is available closer to departure — two days before the flight, Qantas will send those who are eligible an email asking them if they'd like to pay extra to ensure the seat next to them does not have a neighbor.

According to the seat selection map shared by Qantas, one will then be able to see a map of standard economy seats which can be booked with either the middle or window seat empty. Two people traveling together can also select to have an empty seat between or next to them.

Is neighbor-free seating the answer for decreasing plane seat sizes?

This service is currently available for economy travelers and is independent of getting an upgrade into premium economy. Qantas also warns that neighbor free seats "may need to be changed for operational, safety or security reasons even after boarding the aircraft" in which case the money paid will be refunded.

Qantas' experiment will show the industry how airlines can give passengers who need more space the opportunity to pay for it without outright charging two seats or losing money on seats flying empty.

Earlier this year, plus-size travel influencer Kirsty Leanne went viral for documenting how she asks flight attendants if they can find her a seat with an empty one next to it on flights — while flight attendants sometimes do this if there are free ones, other airlines may soon follow Qantas' lead in looking to turn this into a paid option.

Additional Info

  • Source The Street

Our Globe Aware volunteers probably won't be surprised by the results of a recent survey. “Experiences over gifts” continues as a trend for U.S. travelers and their choices for the upcoming end-of-year holidays that largely involve classic winter adventures.

Millennials and Gen Z Prioritizing Mental Health and Travel: Survey

Selene Brophy
October 27, 2023

It’s the season for holiday surveys, with sentiment for exploration and unique experiences abounding.

“Experiences over gifts” continues as a trend in the latest Amex travel spending survey of U.S. travelers and their choices for the upcoming end-of-year holidays that largely involves classic winter adventures and quality time with loved ones.

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72% of Millennial and Gen-Z respondents surveyed said they would rather spend money on a trip to go away with friends or family for the holidays instead of gifts, with snowboarding or ski vacations topping the list. But what’s particularly interesting in this year’s analysis is that more than half of Millennial and Gen-Z respondents said they didn’t travel enough this summer. Wellness and mental health were amongst the top priorities for this group when it came to goal setting for the year ahead.

Amex said it conducted its survey between September 15 – 18 among a sample of 4,017 adults, including 1,824 Gen Z and Millennials. Respondents have a household income of at least $50k+ equivalent and travel by air at least once a year.

Additional Info

  • Source Skift

The Hindu festival of Diwali is coming up this weekend, Globe Aware volunteers can join in the celebrations by learning more about the sweet treats that go along with it!

A Spoonful of Culture: Why Sweets Hold a Special Place in Indian Festivals

By Slurrp Desk
Apr 15, 2023

In India, several states have their own distinctive sweets, made with ingredients and preparation techniques that are widely accessible. Using new mixtures while retaining the original base ingredients, modern Indian sweets are transformed. These desserts are now consumed by millions of people all over the world.

Since the beginning of time, Indian confections have had a long and rich history. Earlier accounts mention Indians making sweet foods with honey, fruits, or dry fruits. Delicious confections for the holiday season were later made using milk and sugar. Both kings and commoners alike ate a lot of sweets and pastries, and ever since, they have been an essential element of Indian culture.

In India, several states have their own distinctive sweets, made with ingredients and preparation techniques that are widely accessible. Using new mixtures while retaining the original base ingredients, modern Indian sweets are transformed. These desserts are now consumed by millions of people all over the world.

Every Indian festival centres its revelry around a sweet. Diwali, Holi, Baisakhi, Raksha Bandhan, Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri, and Dussehra are just a few of the many holidays that are enthusiastically observed throughout India. Throughout these celebrations, a lot of sweets are consumed and distributed.

Every treat stands for a custom. These dishes, which range from the delicious Rasgula to the melt-in-your-mouth Gulab Jamun, lend a sweet touch to the celebration and unite people. Families trade candy boxes as a sign of happiness and affection during Diwali. Similar to this, people indulge in a variety of sweets during Holi, the festival of colours, including Jalebi, Gulab Jamun, and Burfi.

But have you wondered why sweets are such an integral part of Indian festivals and celebrations?

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Sweets have always been an integral part of Indian culture, and no celebration is complete without them. Whether it's a birthday, wedding, or religious festival, sweets are a must-have in any Indian household. There are several reasons why sweets are so important in Indian festivals and celebrations.

Firstly, sweets have a cultural significance in India. They are a symbol of happiness and good fortune, and people believe that offering sweets to others brings good luck and prosperity. Therefore, they are an essential part of every religious and social occasion. For example, during Diwali, the festival of lights, sweets like laddoos, barfis, and gulab jamuns are made in every household and exchanged with friends and family.

Secondly, sweets have a spiritual significance in Indian culture. In Hinduism, sweets are considered as an offering to the Gods and Goddesses during religious ceremonies and festivals. It is believed that the sweet taste of the offering pleases the deities and brings blessings to the devotees. The Prasad or the offering that is distributed among the devotees is usually a sweet, such as laddoos, pedas, or halwa.

Thirdly, sweets play a crucial role in Indian hospitality. Offering sweets to guests is a way of showing hospitality and respect. Whenever guests visit an Indian household, they are welcomed with a sweet dish, such as rasgulla, jalebi, or kheer. It is believed that offering sweets to guests makes them feel happy and welcome, and it strengthens the bond between the host and the guest.

Lastly, sweets are an essential part of Indian cuisine, and no meal is complete without a dessert. Indian sweets are diverse and range from simple to complex recipes. They are made from a variety of ingredients, such as milk, sugar, ghee, flour, and nuts. Some of the popular Indian sweets include rasgulla, gulab jamun, laddoo, barfi, jalebi, peda, and halwa.

In conclusion, sweets hold immense cultural, spiritual, and social significance in Indian society. They are an essential part of every festival, ceremony, and social gathering. Whether it's a small get-together or a grand celebration, sweets play a crucial role in bringing people together and spreading happiness.

Top Indian Sweets That Are Enjoyed During Festivals

Here are some of the top Indian sweets that are enjoyed during festivals:

  • Ladoo: Ladoo is a round-shaped sweet made with flour, sugar, and ghee. It comes in various types, including besan ladoo, motichoor ladoo, and coconut ladoo. Ladoo is a popular choice during Diwali, Navratri, and Ganesh Chaturthi.
  • Barfi: Barfi is a dense and fudge-like sweet made with milk, sugar, and ghee. It comes in many varieties, such as kaju barfi, pista barfi, and besan barfi. Barfi is a must-have during Holi and Diwali.
  • Gulab Jamun: Gulab Jamun is a soft and spongy ball-shaped sweet made with milk powder, sugar, and cardamom powder. It is soaked in sugar syrup and has a rich and indulgent taste. Gulab Jamun is a favourite dessert during Eid, Diwali, and weddings.
  • Rasgulla: Rasgulla is a round-shaped and spongy sweet made with chenna (paneer) and sugar syrup. It has a soft and juicy texture and is a popular dessert during Durga Puja and Diwali.
  • Jalebi: Jalebi is a crispy and syrupy sweet made with maida (all-purpose flour), sugar, and saffron. It is usually served warmly and is a popular breakfast item during festivals like Diwali and Holi.
  • Pedha: Pedha is a soft and creamy sweet made with khoya (milk solids), sugar, and cardamom powder. It has a rich and melt-in-your-mouth texture and is often served during Diwali and weddings.
  • Kheer: Kheer is a traditional Indian rice pudding made with milk, rice, sugar, and saffron. It is garnished with nuts and raisins and is a popular dessert during weddings and religious festivities.
  • Modak: Modak is a steamed dumpling made with rice flour, jaggery, and grated coconut. It is usually offered as prasad (offering) during Ganesh Chaturthi and is a favourite among Lord Ganesha's devotees.

Additional Info

  • Source Slurrp

The Hindu festival of Diwali is coming up this weekend, Globe Aware volunteers can join in the celebrations by learning more about the sweet treats that go along with it!

A Spoonful of Culture: Why Sweets Hold a Special Place in Indian Festivals

By Slurrp Desk
Apr 15, 2023

In India, several states have their own distinctive sweets, made with ingredients and preparation techniques that are widely accessible. Using new mixtures while retaining the original base ingredients, modern Indian sweets are transformed. These desserts are now consumed by millions of people all over the world.

Since the beginning of time, Indian confections have had a long and rich history. Earlier accounts mention Indians making sweet foods with honey, fruits, or dry fruits. Delicious confections for the holiday season were later made using milk and sugar. Both kings and commoners alike ate a lot of sweets and pastries, and ever since, they have been an essential element of Indian culture.

In India, several states have their own distinctive sweets, made with ingredients and preparation techniques that are widely accessible. Using new mixtures while retaining the original base ingredients, modern Indian sweets are transformed. These desserts are now consumed by millions of people all over the world.

Every Indian festival centres its revelry around a sweet. Diwali, Holi, Baisakhi, Raksha Bandhan, Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navratri, and Dussehra are just a few of the many holidays that are enthusiastically observed throughout India. Throughout these celebrations, a lot of sweets are consumed and distributed.

Every treat stands for a custom. These dishes, which range from the delicious Rasgula to the melt-in-your-mouth Gulab Jamun, lend a sweet touch to the celebration and unite people. Families trade candy boxes as a sign of happiness and affection during Diwali. Similar to this, people indulge in a variety of sweets during Holi, the festival of colours, including Jalebi, Gulab Jamun, and Burfi.

But have you wondered why sweets are such an integral part of Indian festivals and celebrations?

Sweets have always been an integral part of Indian culture, and no celebration is complete without them. Whether it's a birthday, wedding, or religious festival, sweets are a must-have in any Indian household. There are several reasons why sweets are so important in Indian festivals and celebrations.

Firstly, sweets have a cultural significance in India. They are a symbol of happiness and good fortune, and people believe that offering sweets to others brings good luck and prosperity. Therefore, they are an essential part of every religious and social occasion. For example, during Diwali, the festival of lights, sweets like laddoos, barfis, and gulab jamuns are made in every household and exchanged with friends and family.

Secondly, sweets have a spiritual significance in Indian culture. In Hinduism, sweets are considered as an offering to the Gods and Goddesses during religious ceremonies and festivals. It is believed that the sweet taste of the offering pleases the deities and brings blessings to the devotees. The Prasad or the offering that is distributed among the devotees is usually a sweet, such as laddoos, pedas, or halwa.

Thirdly, sweets play a crucial role in Indian hospitality. Offering sweets to guests is a way of showing hospitality and respect. Whenever guests visit an Indian household, they are welcomed with a sweet dish, such as rasgulla, jalebi, or kheer. It is believed that offering sweets to guests makes them feel happy and welcome, and it strengthens the bond between the host and the guest.

Lastly, sweets are an essential part of Indian cuisine, and no meal is complete without a dessert. Indian sweets are diverse and range from simple to complex recipes. They are made from a variety of ingredients, such as milk, sugar, ghee, flour, and nuts. Some of the popular Indian sweets include rasgulla, gulab jamun, laddoo, barfi, jalebi, peda, and halwa.

In conclusion, sweets hold immense cultural, spiritual, and social significance in Indian society. They are an essential part of every festival, ceremony, and social gathering. Whether it's a small get-together or a grand celebration, sweets play a crucial role in bringing people together and spreading happiness.

Top Indian Sweets That Are Enjoyed During Festivals

Here are some of the top Indian sweets that are enjoyed during festivals:

  • Ladoo: Ladoo is a round-shaped sweet made with flour, sugar, and ghee. It comes in various types, including besan ladoo, motichoor ladoo, and coconut ladoo. Ladoo is a popular choice during Diwali, Navratri, and Ganesh Chaturthi.
  • Barfi: Barfi is a dense and fudge-like sweet made with milk, sugar, and ghee. It comes in many varieties, such as kaju barfi, pista barfi, and besan barfi. Barfi is a must-have during Holi and Diwali.
  • Gulab Jamun: Gulab Jamun is a soft and spongy ball-shaped sweet made with milk powder, sugar, and cardamom powder. It is soaked in sugar syrup and has a rich and indulgent taste. Gulab Jamun is a favourite dessert during Eid, Diwali, and weddings.
  • Rasgulla: Rasgulla is a round-shaped and spongy sweet made with chenna (paneer) and sugar syrup. It has a soft and juicy texture and is a popular dessert during Durga Puja and Diwali.
  • Jalebi: Jalebi is a crispy and syrupy sweet made with maida (all-purpose flour), sugar, and saffron. It is usually served warmly and is a popular breakfast item during festivals like Diwali and Holi.
  • Pedha: Pedha is a soft and creamy sweet made with khoya (milk solids), sugar, and cardamom powder. It has a rich and melt-in-your-mouth texture and is often served during Diwali and weddings.
  • Kheer: Kheer is a traditional Indian rice pudding made with milk, rice, sugar, and saffron. It is garnished with nuts and raisins and is a popular dessert during weddings and religious festivities.
  • Modak: Modak is a steamed dumpling made with rice flour, jaggery, and grated coconut. It is usually offered as prasad (offering) during Ganesh Chaturthi and is a favourite among Lord Ganesha's devotees.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

The end-of-year holidays are practically just around the corner. And, with many Americans preparing to visit their loved ones or celebrate in new destinations, now’s the time to lock in your flights for the festive season. Globe Aware volunteers can use a new service to make the task of finding the best times to fly a much merrier one.

New Online Tool Tells You the Best Times To Travel This Holiday Season

By Laurie Baratti
October 27, 2023

With only two months to go until Christmas, the end-of-year holidays are practically just around the corner. And, with many Americans preparing to visit their loved ones or celebrate in new destinations, now’s the time to lock in your flights for the festive season.

You may be wondering what day will be best to travel amid the holiday rush, but it all depends upon where you’re headed. Fortunately, KAYAK, one of the world’s leading travel search engines, has introduced a valuable new service to make the task of finding the best times to fly a much merrier one.

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KAYAK’s new "Best Time To Travel Christmas and New Year" tool has done the hard work of delving into the details of over 8,000 routes worldwide, leveraging the company’s historical festive season flight data to identify the best time to book your tickets and fly at the most budget-friendly prices.

Using predictive data and user-friendly price graphs, this tool enables users to compare pricing day-by-day to pinpoint the most affordable air travel dates, as well as how far in advance they should book to take advantage of the best possible fares.

Whether you’re headed home for Christmas or spending the holidays in an exotic locale, the "Best Time To Travel" saves customers vast amounts of time they’d otherwise spend tracking down the best deals, and trying to determine when will be the best times both to book their tickets and take their flights during the frenzied holiday travel season.

For instance, say you're eyeing a week-long holiday in Jamaica to celebrate the festive season in the Caribbean sunshine. Booking your flights 11 days in advance, and departing on December 19 from New York, with a return on Christmas Day, could potentially save you as much as 36 percent on airfare.

But, let’s say you’ve already missed the ideal booking window for securing the best deals or are waiting for that opportune moment to secure your tickets. KAYAK also gives you the option of setting up Price Alerts, a nifty feature keeps tracks fluctuating fare prices, and keeps you posted on pricing so that you can book when the cost aligns with your budget and travel plans.

“Tis the season for festive travel, but there are so many opinions on where to go, when to travel and when to book,” said Annie Wilson, KAYAK Chief Commercial Officer.“KAYAK's Best Time To Travel Tool helps you to go see for yourself by using our smart data to help you find the best prices and compare by week so you can choose a date that works for you."

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

Halloween isn’t one of the top holidays for travel, but the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is offering advice for airline passengers preparing to pass through security checkpoints during spooky season. Globe Aware volunteers might be surprised to know what can and can't get through security!

TSA Offers Tips and Tricks for Halloween Travelers

By Donald Wood
October 27, 2023

Halloween isn’t one of the top holidays for travel, but the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is offering advice for airline passengers preparing to pass through security checkpoints during spooky season.

TSA officials said that while travelers are not permitted to prank security officers, agents will be advised to screen costumed travelers as usual, with all previously prohibited items still applicable at checkpoints.

While costumes are acceptable, masks must be removed and face paint is not recommended, as agents must verify each traveler’s identity. The TSA also asked that capes remain in carry-on bags to avoid triggering the alarms at a checkpoint.

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Costume props are important to each ghoul and goblin, but the TSA said fake knives, hatchets, pitchforks, light sabers, brooms, swords and scythes must be placed in checked baggage. Explosive replicas like grenades, bombs or rocket launchers are prohibited in both carry-on and checked bags.

For travelers with a sweet tooth, candy of all sizes is allowed through the checkpoint, but liquid quantities must follow the 3-1-1 rule. The same rule applies to homebrewed potions, gel, cream, paste or fake blood.

Here’s pumpkin to think about. When traveling within the domestic U.S. your squash is gourd to go. If you’re traveling internationally you butternut forget to ask your airline and the customs agency at your destination. #NationalPumpkinDaypic.twitter.com/RI0eMUeg1L

— TSA (@TSA) October 26, 2023
As for the passengers daring enough to fly with a pumpkin—decorated or carved—the jack-o-lanterns are permitted, but must be placed inside a carry-on bag.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

Cambodian cuisine has a long history and a diverse range of influences, yet it’s only now becoming known beyond the country’s borders. In fact, the only place you can experience all it has to offer is in the country itself. Here are 30 of the best dishes for Globe Aware volunteers to try!

30 Cambodian foods every visitor needs to try

By Lina Goldberg
December 22, 2019

Cambodian cuisine has a long history and a diverse range of influences, yet it’s only now becoming known beyond the country’s borders. In fact, the only place you can experience all it has to offer is in the country itself. Here are 30 of the best dishes to try.

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Samlor korkor

While amok is sometimes called the country’s national dish, and might be the one most familiar to tourists, samlor korkor has a better claim to being the true national dish of Cambodia. It has been eaten for hundreds of years and today can be found in restaurants, roadside stands and family homes alike.

The ingredients list for this nourishing soup is versatile and easily adapted to whatever is seasonal and abundant; it often includes more than a dozen vegetables. It can be made with almost any type of meat, but most commonly it’s a hearty soup made from catfish and pork belly. The soup always includes two quintessential Cambodian ingredients – prahok, a type of fermented fish, and kroeung, a fragrant curry paste – and is then thickened with toasted ground rice.

Nom banh chok: Khmer noodles

Nom banh chok is a beloved Cambodian dish, so much so that in English it’s sometimes called simply “Khmer noodles.” It’s a typical breakfast food, and every morning you’ll find it being sold by women carrying baskets of fresh rice noodles hanging from a pole balanced on their shoulders.

The dish consists of fresh noodles laboriously pounded out of rice, topped with a fish-based green curry gravy made from lemongrass, fingerroot ginger, turmeric, and garlic. Fresh cucumbers, banana flower, long beans, edible flowers, and wild leaves are heaped on top. In Siem Reap, it is served with a sweet sauce called tuk paem made from palm sugar and peanuts.


Amok is one of the best-known Cambodian dishes, but you’ll find similar meals in neighboring countries. The addition of slok ngor, a local herb that imparts a subtly bitter flavor, separates the Cambodian version from the rest of the pack.

The curry is made with fresh coconut milk and kroeung. Traditionally the dish was made with either fish or snails, but now you can find chicken and even vegetarian versions. At upscale restaurants amok is steamed with egg in a banana leaf for a mousse-like texture, while more homestyle places serve a boiled version that is more like a soupy fish curry.

Bai sach chrouk: Pork and rice

Served early mornings on street corners all over Cambodia, bai sach chrouk, or pork and rice, is one of the simplest and most delicious dishes the country has to offer. Thinly sliced pork is marinated in palm sugar and fish sauce, then slow-grilled over warm coals to impart a smoky sweetness.

It’s served over a hearty portion of white rice, with a helping of freshly pickled cucumbers and daikon radish with plenty of ginger. This classic Cambodia breakfast often comes with a bowl of chicken broth topped with scallions and fried onions.

Kari sach moan: Chicken red curry

Less spicy than the curries of neighboring Thailand, Cambodian red curry is made using large local red chilies that are remarkably mild, making for a rich but mellow dish. The curry contains chicken, white radish, sweet potatoes, fresh coconut milk, and kroeung. This delicious dish is usually served at weddings and other ceremonies and special occasions, and can be accompanied with fresh rice noodles, sliced baguette, or white rice.

Bok trop pgnon: Pounded eggplant dip

Bok, which translates as “smashed,” refers to a style of food preparation that involves pounding ingredients in a large wooden mortar. Trop pgnon are small, bitter pea eggplants, which grow wild in Cambodia.

Here, they are grilled and pounded with garlic, shallots, chilies and just enough sugar to take the edge off their bitterness. The dish usually contains some form of fish, either smoked fish or prahok, although it can be made without it. The eggplant dip is served alongside local fresh or steamed vegetable crudités.

Bok trop pgnon was traditionally prepared for workers harvesting rice, because it was easy to pack up to take to the fields.

Kha sach ko: Beef stewed in palm sugar

The word kha refers to a style of cooking in Cambodia in which palm sugar is caramelized into a sticky syrup, then used as the base of the dish. The beef version tastes marvelously complex — it contains multitudes — although the recipe itself is not very complicated. Every family has its own recipe, but most start with the kha base and include galangal, chilies, garlic, black pepper, and star anise.

Some versions include cloves, or make the broth with coconut water; others add tomatoes, tamarind, or soybean sauce. Kha sach ko is served with sliced baguette — in a nod to French imperialism — or noodles, and garnished with herbs, onion slices, and fried garlic.

Prahok ktis: Creamy prahok dip

After rice, the most important ingredient in Cambodian cuisine is prahok, a mash of salty fermented fish. It’s added in small quantities to bring an umami kick to many dishes, but in prahok ktis it has the starring role.

Cooked with fresh coconut cream, palm sugar, and minced pork, the pungent prahok becomes mild enough for even trepidatious visitors to enjoy. Another version of the dish, prahok kroeung ktis, adds a fragrant paste of root spices. Both are served with crunchy fresh vegetables.

Sngor chruak sach trei: Sour fish soup

Soups are a crucial element in Cambodian cuisine, and no meal is complete without one. The soups known as sngors are simple and extremely versatile. They’re designed to showcase the main ingredient, in this case, fish from the Tonle Sap, Cambodia’s great freshwater lake.

The fish is cooked in a light lemongrass broth that’s seasoned with lime juice and fried garlic, making for a wholesome soup served with local herbs, including Asian basil and sawleaf coriander. Other additions, such as straw mushrooms or shredded green mango, are optional.

Kari saraman: Beef saraman curry

The Cham people are a Muslim ethnic minority in Cambodia. Their cuisine eschews pork, which is widely found in Cambodian cooking, and instead features beef. In fact, the most respected beef sellers at the local markets in Siem Reap are Cham women.

Beef saraman curry is the most popular Cham-inspired dish, and little wonder, because it’s sensational. This rich coconut curry is one of Cambodia’s most complicated dishes, and is redolent with spices, with star anise and cassia bark most prominent. The curry is braised with whole peanuts and is most often served with sliced baguette.

Nhoam krauch thlong: Pomelo salad

Cambodian salads often use unripe or sour fruits in place of vegetables. In this delicious and refreshing example, giant pomelo is paired with pork belly, toasted coconut, and small dried shrimp and garnished with mint and fried shallots.

More exacting chefs pride themselves on peeling each segment of the pomelo and separating the tiny juice vesicles inside, laborious work that pays off in a delicate, beautifully balanced salad.

Tuek kroeung

One of Cambodia’s best-loved foods, tuek kroeung is a thin but pungent dipping sauce made from fresh river fish and fermented fish, served with an array of fresh seasonal vegetables and herbs.

The name can be a bit confusing — the word kroeung is most often used for one of the delicate curry pastes that are a hallmark of Cambodian cooking, but which aren’t used in tuek kroeung. In fact kroeung just means “what’s inside” or “ingredients.”

Kha trei svay kchai: Caramelized fish with green mango

Trei roh, or striped snakehead fish, is one of the few fish able to walk on land and in Cambodian markets they can often be seen jumping out of vendors’ baskets and trying to hustle away down the pavement. They rarely succeed, and when they don’t, becoming a plate of kha trei is often their fate.

First, thick steaks are placed in a pot of bubbling, caramelized palm sugar, garlic, and fish sauce, plus plenty of locally grown ground black pepper. Quartered red tomatoes are often added.

To avoid breaking up the fish the dish is not stirred – instead, the pot is lightly shaken to distribute the caramel syrup evenly. The fish is then served topped with grated green mango and Asian basil.

Kangkep baob: Stuffed frogs

Served at roadside barbecues all over Cambodia, stuffed frogs can be an intimidating sight for timid visitors, but any fearfulness disappears at the first taste.

Frogs are stuffed with minced pork, roasted peanuts, red chilies, frog meat and fresh kroeung made from lemongrass, garlic, galangal, turmeric and the zest of makrut limes. Grilled inside split pieces of bamboo over hot coals, the resulting snack is like a frog sausage, rich with root spices and slightly sweetened by palm sugar.

Mi kola: Kola noodles

The Kola are an ethnic minority in Cambodia, originally from Yunnan, China, and the Mon and Shan states of Myanmar, who settled in northeastern Cambodia in the 19th century.

These days, there are more street food stands and restaurants serving the noodle dish named for them than there are Kola people in Cambodia. Rice noodles are garnished with dried shrimp, hard-boiled egg slices, cucumbers, peanuts, and fresh herbs and mixed with a tangy lime-garlic-shallot dressing.

Pork is optional but often included, and you’ll usually be served a tangy mix of fresh cucumber and green papaya pickle on the side.

Chrok krao chhnang: Out of the pot soup

The name of this soup refers to the cooking technique: Rather than preparing it in a pot over a flame, like most Cambodian soups, for chrok krao chhnang the cook assembles the ingredients in a large bowl, then pours boiling water over them to create a broth.

The main ingredients are smoked or dried freshwater fish, hard-boiled eggs, shallots, and green tomatoes. The soup gets additional flavor from fresh herbs (such as sawleaf coriander and Asian basil), sugar, and a squeeze of lime juice. Served with rice, the soup offers a mix of salty, sweet, and sour flavors and a perfectly balanced meal.

Plea sach ko: Lime-marinated beef salad

Khmer beef salad features thinly sliced beef that is either quickly seared or “cooked” ceviche-style by marinating it in lime juice. Dressed with lemongrass, shallots, garlic, fish sauce, Asian basil, mint, green beans, and green pepper, this sweet and salty dish also packs a punch in the heul (spicy) department with copious amounts of fresh red chilies. More beef than salad, plea sach ko is a party dish that is served at festive occasions such as weddings, or alongside beer during a night out on the town.

Chha trop dott: Grilled eggplant with pork

This simple dish is one of Cambodia’s most accessible, and it’s easy to make at home, too! Eggplant is grilled over an open flame or hot coals, then topped with minced pork fried in garlic and oyster sauce. Herbs are sprinkled over the top, sometimes Asian basil or spring onions or coriander.

More upscale versions may be enriched with egg or served in the hollowed-out charred eggplant skin. Although it has only a few ingredients, when it’s done well it’s heavenly.

Chaa kdam meric kchai: Fried crab with green pepper

Local crab is a specialty of the Cambodian seaside town of Kep. Its lively crab market is known for fried crab prepared with green, locally grown Kampot pepper.

Aromatic Cambodian pepper is famous among gourmands worldwide, and although it is available in its dried form internationally, you’ll only be able to sample the distinctively flavored immature green peppercorns in Cambodia. It’s worth a visit to Kep for that alone, and for a related dish, chaa kdam kroeung, fried crab with curry sauce.

Samlor m’chu kroeung sach ko: Lemongrass beef sour soup

This delicious soup is the perfect antidote to a hangover, a cold, or a rainy tropical day. It comes in two styles: plain or ktis, with coconut milk. The soup’s base is prahok and a kroeung made of sliced lemongrass stalks, galangal, makrut lime, turmeric, and garlic. When coconut milk is omitted, fresh curry leaves that have been brushed over hot coals are used.

The creamy version pairs coconut milk with ripe tamarind, to impart tangy sourness, and holy basil or sawleaf coriander round off a simple but richly restorative soup. Often water spinach or ambarella leaves are added, and sometimes even eggplant.

Maam chao: Raw fermented fish

More adventurous eaters will enjoy maam chao, a dish made with a type of raw, fermented fish known as maam. Roasted rice, galangal, and sugar are added to freshwater fish and left to ferment for at least a month.

Compared to prahok, maam is delicately flavored (as far as fermented fish goes), its salty pungency balanced by the sweetness of the palm sugar. Maam chao is most often served as a dip mixed with pineapple, alongside boiled pork and crunchy raw vegetables.

Somlor proher: Fragrant vegetable soup

This aromatic vegetable soup is a Cambodian village staple and one of the country’s most popular. The soup’s base is a lemongrass paste made with fingerroot ginger, and it can be made with any number of vegetables, usually home grown or foraged.

Pumpkin, taro, and luffa gourd are common ingredients, and lemon basil is such an important part of the dish, that in Cambodia its name translates as “the herb for somlor proher.” The soup usually contains fish, fermented, dried, and fresh, but it can also easily be made “mhob bouh,” “as the monks eat” – an expression meaning vegetarian, even though Cambodian monks don’t necessarily avoid meat.

Ang dtray meuk: Grilled squid with Koh Kong sauce

In Cambodian seaside towns you’ll find seafood sellers carrying small charcoal-burning ovens on their shoulders, cooking the squid as they walk along the shore.

The squid are brushed with either lime juice or fish sauce and then barbecued on wooden skewers and served with a spicy chili sauce originally from the seaside province of Koh Kong, made from garlic, fresh chilies, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar.

Nhoam svay kchai: Green mango salad

The main ingredient in a Cambodian salad, or nhoam, may vary, be it ambarella, banana blossom, cucumber, or lotus root, but the chi, or herbs, remain the same. Traditionally, four herbs are used: Asian basil, mint, Cambodian mint, and fish-cheek herb, a heart-shaped leaf grown in Southeast Asia whose flavor is reminiscent of the sea.

Cambodian salads are often made with unripe fruit and usually contain smoked fish and small dried shrimp. Green mango salad is a classic whose flavors of sour fruit, salty smoked fish, and sweet palm sugar form a beautifully harmonious whole.

Aluek trei ngeat: Dried fish and watermelon

This unexpected combination of dried fish and fresh fruit perfectly encapsulates the delicious simplicity of Cambodian cuisine. Trei ngeat is the term for salt-cured fish that has been dried in the sun, one of the myriad ways Cambodians preserve food using the same techniques they’ve relied on for centuries.

In this dish, snakehead fish, abundant in the country’s waterways, are salted and dried, then grilled over charcoal and served with thick chunks of sweet ripe watermelon, for a perfect sweet-and-umami contrast.

Chaa angrong sach ko: Red tree ants with beef and holy basil

You’ll find all sorts of insects on the menu in Cambodia, but the dish most appealing to foreign palates is stir-fried red tree ants with beef and holy basil.

The tree-dwelling red weaver ant, some barely visible and others almost an inch long, are stir-fried with ginger, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and thinly sliced beef. Lots of chilies complete the aromatic dish, without overpowering the delicate sour flavor that the ants impart to the beef. This meal is served with rice, and if you’re lucky you’ll also get a portion of ant larvae in your bowl.

Kuy teav: Noodle soup

Every country in Southeast Asia has its own version of noodle soup, and kuy teav is Cambodia’s, a flavorful pork-bone-and-squid broth most often served with pork or beef, fish balls and fried garlic.

The name derives from the Hoikken Chinese word for a type of rice noodle, and theories about the origins of kuy teav include the possibility that it was invented by Chinese traders in Cambodia or originated in Kampuchea Krom, an area in southern Vietnam that was once part of the Khmer Empire. Whatever its roots, kuy teav is is one of the country’s most popular breakfasts and afternoon snacks.

Sngor ngam nov sach moan: Pickled lime soup with chicken

Pickled limes give this chicken soup a unique flavor evocative of Moroccan cooking. Limes are packed in salt and left to dry in the sun, or boiled briefly and soaked in salt water for several weeks or months.

The flavor is intensely citrusy and salty, but not bitter. Traditionally this soup is made with little more than pickled limes and free-range chicken, both of which are so flavorful that the dish needs nothing else, although garlic and spring onions are commonly added.

Num ansom: Sticky rice cakes

These sticky rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves are so emblematic of Cambodia that in 2015 the government made a giant num ansom weighing 8,900 pounds and displayed it in front of Angkor Wat to earn a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The cakes can be sweet or savory, filled with bananas and coconut or pork and mung beans. For major celebrations, such as Pchum Ben (Ancestor’s Day), women spend days making hundreds of num ansom to share with family and friends and give to monks at the pagoda.

Trei boeng kanh chhet: Fried fish in the lake

“Fried fish in the lake” is a party dish, often eaten at restaurants in a special fish-shaped dish. A whole fish is deep-fried and then finished on a hotplate at the table in a coconut curry made from yellow kroeung and chilies.

Vegetables such as cauliflower and cabbage are cooked in the curry, which is served with rice or rice noodles. Its name literally means “fish in the water mimosa lake,” which refers to the green Cambodian vegetable that serves as the base of the dish.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

Globe Aware volunteers have the chance to try many of these delicious dishes on an international volunteer vacation! Which ones have you tried or want to dig into!?

Best rice dishes: 20 delicious specialties from around the world

Terry Ward
May 4, 2023

With thousands of varieties of rice in the world – jasmine, basmati, arborio and Carolina Gold, to name just a few – is it any surprise the grain defines iconic meals everywhere from Singapore to South Carolina?

Plus, half the world’s population relies on rice as a staple, so there have been plenty of culinary innovators over its long history.

And while famous rice dishes such as sushi, fried rice and paella are among the most prominent in the global spotlight, there are so many more rice recipes out there to put on your radar – and seek out on your travels.

Here are 20 dishes from international crowd-pleasers to some that you may not have tasted – yet:

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Jollof, West Africa

Widely enjoyed in West African countries for special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and funerals, jollof is a one-pot rice dish made by cooking rice, onions, tomatoes, meat and spices in a single vessel.

“Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria argue over who makes the best jollof, but it really comes down to who’s cooking it,” says Sierra Leonean fashion designer Mary Ann Kai Kai of Madam wokie.

Typical Ghanaian jollof incorporates more spices than Nigerian jollof and also usually uses an aromatic rice, such as basmati, instead of the long grain rice more typical in Nigerian jollof. But jollof recipes can vary within the same country, too.

The dish is said to have originated in Senegal, but the debate over who makes the best jollof on the continent and across the diaspora will never end.

Zongzi, China

Found in various iterations all over China, zongzi refers to sticky, glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves before boiling that can be stuffed with savory or sweet fillings.

And while anything that is wrapped with a skin and has a stuffing is considered a dumpling, says Nadia Liu Spellman, author of “Dumpling Daughter: Heirloom Recipes from our Restaurants and Home Kitchens,” the Chinese put zongzi is a category of its own.

Typical zongzi fillings in southern China include salted duck egg and pork belly while sweeter fillings such as red bean paste and tapioca are more common in the north of the country.

“Every family recipe has their own secrets that they believe make their zongzi superior,” Spellman says.

Milchreis, Germany

A stovetop staple at many a German oma’s house, milchreis (translation: milk rice), is a creamy rice pudding made from arborio, medium or long grain white rice that’s sweetened with cinnamon and sugar and splashed with vanilla extract.

It can be enjoyed warm, straight from the stovetop, or chilled. It’s a nostalgic childhood snack that’s often enjoyed by adults across Germany, too. You can even buy pre-made containers of milchreis in the refrigerated sections of German grocery stores.

Far from the only country to concoct a sweet treat featuring rice and milk, German milchreis is joined by Lebanese meghli, Indian kheer, Portuguese arroz doce, Latin American arroz con leche and many, many more in the rice pudding family.

Paella, Spain

A gift to global gastronomy, Spain’s main rice player is paella, the famous dish from Valencia that originated as a peasant food and is typically made using bomba rice, which maintains its firmness while absorbing the broth while cooking.

The dish was originally invented in rural areas and made use of whatever ingredients were available, including rice, chicken, rabbit and snails mixed with saffron, olive oil and the vegetables of the season, says Patricia Palacios of Spain travel website, España Guide.

“Today, there are many different paella recipes,” she told CNN Travel. “Along the coast, fish and seafood paellas are very popular. Vegetarian paellas are also common. But most Spaniards would agree that a big no-no with paellas is mixing meat and fish/seafood.”

Risotto, Italy

Making Italy’s most famous rice dish is an art form that requires near constant stirring on the part of the cook. And any Italian will tell you risotto must be “all’onda” (translation: on the wave) – with a texture that undulates enough to fall off the spoon without ever taking on the dreaded globby consistency.

With its high starch content, arborio rice is most commonly used in making the dish, typically served as a first course in Italy.

“Risotto is comfort food,” says Calabria-born cookbook author Francesca Montillo, who leads culinary tours in Italy. “It’s not necessarily an easy dish to prepare, so it also speaks to the skills of the chef or home cook preparing it.”

The traditional preparation, Montillo says, involves first toasting the rice then adding wine as it cooks in the broth, with butter and grated cheese added later. Variations include adding peas, mushrooms, asparagus and ham, among other ingredients.

Arancini, Italy

Sicily’s most famous street food is the rice ball whose name comes from the orange citrus fruit it resembles in shape and color. Arancini is essentially stuffed rice balls that are breaded and fried, says Montillo. And Sicilians debate the dish’s name.

“In Palermo, it’s typically round and the name is arancina,” she says. “In Catania, it’s cone-shaped, some say to resemble the local Etna volcano, and it’s called arancino.”

You can find the dish all over Sicily as well as on mainland Italy, but arancini are particularly linked to Siracusa’s Festa di Santa Lucia (Feast Day of St. Lucia), celebrated every year on December 13. The balls are usually stuffed with meat sauce, says Montillo, and other fillings might include peas, mozzarella, prosciutto, spinach and eggplant in tomato sauce (“alla Norma”).

Biryani, India

Beloved across the Indian subcontinent and said to have originated in Iran (birinj biriyan means “fried rice” in Persian), biryani is almost always on the menu for special occasions in India, says cookbook author Vasanti Bhadkamkar-Balan.

“It is a rich and elaborate preparation, made by layering partially cooked basmati rice with vegetables/lamb/chicken/fish in a sauce that is flavored with exotic spices and aromatics,” she said.

The pot is then covered and sealed with dough or a wet cloth that stops the steam from escaping while the biryani cooks over a low flame. Typical biryani spices include a wide aromatic mix, among them fennel seeds, mace, cardamom, bay leaves, coriander and garlic.

Kabuli pulao, Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s most famous rice dish, Kabuli pulao is a pilaf-style specialty. Served in many countries, rice pilaf is a loose-grain dish often cooked in stock with spices, onions and other ingredients.

Kabuli pulao is served piled high atop a platter and redolent with slow-cooked lamb and a blend of spices (cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon and cumin among them), mixed with a long grain rice such as basmati.

The dish is usually topped with julienned carrots, raisins and toasted almonds. Kabuli pulao takes its name from the Afghani capital, Kabul, but is also enjoyed in neighboring Pakistan.

Onigiri, Japan

Sushi’s popularity precedes it. But just as dear to the Japanese is onigiri, a staple bento box snack made from steamed Japanese rice shaped into a triangular form and wrapped with the seaweed called nori.

“Despite its integral significance in Japanese culture, it is still an uncommon novelty in the United States, even in a metropolis such as New York,” says Ricky Dolinsky, co-owner and chef at New York City cocktail bar Paper Planes, which has styles of onigiri on its speakeasy menu.

Onigiri is special, he says, because of its convenience and affordability. “Onigiri reigns supreme in Japan,” says Dolinsky. “Whether it’s a quick grab-and-go on the way to work, or prepared at home for a lunch bento box.”

Nasi goreng, Indonesia

Nasi goreng translates to “fried rice” in the Indonesian and Malay languages and is an inexpensive and filling comfort staple served at street stalls and restaurants across the Indonesian archipelago, everywhere from Jakarta’s markets and Bali’s backpacker hangouts to the streets of Sumatra.

Mixing sweet and salty flavors, the dish is made from long grain rice flavored with a spice blend called bumbu (with shrimp paste, ginger, candlenut and other ingredients) and the sweet Indonesian soy sauce called kecap manis.

Variations of nasi goreng, which is considered a comfort food in Indonesia, incorporate eggs, shrimp and chicken. It’s often enjoyed with a side of spicy sambal sauce.

Tahdig, Iran

Fans of crispy rice will enjoy this Persian specialty typically made with basmati rice, yogurt, saffron and sometimes an egg yolk. Tahdig means “bottom of the pot,” referring to the dish’s crispy golden bottom of cooked rice that pairs perfectly with its fluffy interior.

Cooking fat on the bottom of the rice pan helps ensure the tahdig gets pan-fried below while cooking, while staying light and steamy up top. Saffron threads give it its golden glow.

Kedgeree, India/Britain

Said to have been a favorite of Queen Victoria, the Anglo-Indian dish called kedgeree traces its roots to the far more ancient spiced lentil Indian dish, khichiri, which dates to the 14th century.

A popular British comfort food today, kedgeree blends smoked haddock filet with basmati rice, hard boiled eggs and spices such as cumin, coriander and turmeric (the fish and eggs reflect the taste preferences of the British Raj, who appropriated khichiri to their palates).

Arroz imperial, Cuba

One of Cuba’s classic comfort rice dishes, arroz imperial is prepared for special occasions on the island and among the diaspora in Miami and elsewhere, too. It’s assembled in layers, much in the same way as lasagna.

Satisfying enough to be served as a main dish, it’s typically layered with yellow rice, shredded chicken, mayonnaise (to help bind it and for flavor) and cheese and is sometimes baked before serving for a melted effect. Olives, tomatoes and peppers are popular additions.

Pelau chicken and pigeon peas, Trinidad and Tobago

A one-pot comfort food ubiquitous in the dual-island Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, pelau is an everyday dish best shared with friends and family, says Jeanine Prime, the owner of Trinidadian restaurant Cane in Washington, DC.

To make it, she says, rice, peas and animal proteins (usually chicken) are caramelized and then cooked with stock, coconut milk and spices. The dish is often the centerpiece at social gatherings on the islands because it’s so filling.

“People eat it while hanging out at the beach, while taking in a cricket match, or even at dinner parties,” says Prime, who was born and raised in Trinidad. “It is to Trinidadians what jollof is to Ghanaians and Nigerians.”

Louisiana dirty rice, United States

Also called Cajun dirty rice, this Louisiana classic preferably made from long grain rice from the marshes of southern Louisiana is enjoyed across the state – from the tables of home cooks in Lake Charles and Baton Rouge to cafeteria-style diners and upscale restaurants in New Orleans.

It’s as typical a side dish in these parts as mashed potatoes are elsewhere in the country. In traditional recipes, chopped chicken livers or gizzards give the white rice its “dirty” color.

Not to be mistaken for the popular Creole dish, jambalaya, dirty rice can also be made using ground beef and ground pork (if you don’t like innards) to give the rice its distinctive look.

Wali wa kukaanga, Kenya

Wali wa kukaanga is Kenya’s answer to fried rice, and translates to just that in Swahili.

Served alongside a meat dish or all on its own, it’s a straightforward meal that’s easy to prepare from common ingredients and consists of boiled rice fried together in oil with turmeric and a mix of chopped vegetables that might include onions, carrots, peas and corn.

Chicken Perloo, South Carolina, United States

Carolina Gold Rice is the preferred grain for preparing chicken perloo (also called perlo or purloo), a quintessential South Carolina Lowcountry dish that traces its roots to West Africa and the slave trade.

With similarities to paella and jollof, the dish consists of a protein simmered with rice, tomatoes, onion, garlic, celery, bell peppers and spices.

“Perloo’s importance – as with so much regional cuisine throughout the South – is that it reflects the blending of cultures from Africa and Europe that make this dish so unique to the South Carolina Lowcountry,” said Kiawah Island Golf Resort executive chef, John Ondo, in an email to CNN Travel.

The dish varies depending on where you are in the Lowcountry, he said, with less tomato used farther north.

“Gullah and Geechee cooks who make Perloo stick to tradition, passing these family recipes down from generation to generation,” he says. “The result is that there are as many subtle variations for Perloo recipes as there are cooks and ways to spell it.”

Alaisa fa’apopo, Samoa

Coconut figures big in the cuisine of tropical Samoa, from coconut rolls and bread to coconut cookies and meat and vegetable dishes that incorporate the milk.

So it’s no surprise that the Polynesian island country’s most popular rice dish, alaisa fa’apopo, has ties to the coconut, too. A popular savory snack, it’s made from coconut cream mixed with steamy salted rice and is often served with coffee or a cup of koko Samoa (Samoan hot chocolate).

Bibimbap, South Korea

This wildly popular Korean dish whose name translates to “mixed rice” has gained fame around the globe and consists of rice served in a bowl and topped with a colorful array of individually prepared meats and artfully sliced vegetables.

The city of Jeonju in western South Korea, where the rice is cooked in a broth made from beef brisket, is the most famous place to try it. The dish is often served with the Korean hot chili condiment called Yak-gochujang.

Thai fried rice (Khao Pad), Thailand

When it comes to fried rice, the Chinese version tends to steal the spotlight. But Thai fried rice, called khao pad, is just as worthy of acclaim and a similar staple at home tables (not to mention from street food vendors) in the southeast Asian country.

Hom mali –Thai jasmine rice that’s considered the “Champagne of rice” – serves as the base for the dish, says Thailand-born chef Vanda Asapahu of Los Angeles restaurant Ayara Thai.

“Layering of flavors is important in Thai food and extends to its fried rice,” she says, noting the importance of balancing salty and sweet. “You also need a hot wok and good eggs, and for sure white pepper and scallions to finish off the dish, all of which are basic essentials in a Thai kitchen.”

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

For many travelers, the chance to sample cuisines from different destinations is one of the most appealing parts of the travel experience. However, some Globe Aware volunteers may have food allergies or other dietary restrictions, so here are some ways to avoid problems with those restrictions!

7 Tips For Travelling Abroad When You Have Dietary Restrictions

Food allergies and other challenges don't have to get in the way of eating out. These apps and handy tricks can help.

By Taylor Tobin
October 15, 2023
Huffington Post

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If you're not comfortable speaking the language of the place you're traveling to, always bring photos of the foods to which you're allergic.

If you're not comfortable speaking the language of the place you're traveling to, always bring photos of the foods to which you're allergic.
For many travelers, the chance to sample cuisines from different destinations is one of the most appealing parts of the travel experience. But if you have food allergies or other dietary restrictions, journeying to areas that involve language barriers can feel like a daunting challenge.

How can you clearly and quickly communicate your dietary needs when you’re not fluent in the language of the country you’re visiting? To answer this question, we consulted a group of seasoned travel experts and gathered seven valuable tips that will make travel dining as easy, stress-free and fun as it should be.

Download special apps that’ll help you research the dining options ahead of time.

While you’re Googling hotel options and the hottest restaurant districts in the city you plan to visit, take some time to focus your research on which venues have a strong track record of accommodating dietary restrictions. “Check out some restaurant reviews on the location that you’ll be going to. There are a lot of websites out there that are diet-specific that can give you some insight for bigger cities, like HappyCow for vegans,” says Connor Ondriska, CEO of the SpanishVIP language and culture academy. You should also check out Spokin, a popular app that helps you eat out with food allergies.

Social media can provide travellers with abundant resources for dealing with their dietary restrictions while abroad too. “My best advice is to go to an expat group for your destination on Facebook or to look into the country’s subreddit community on Reddit and ask [members] to translate your dietary restrictions into their language. Typically, you’ll find bilingual people who are more than happy to help with a simple translation, and you can save that translation on your phone so it’s readily available while traveling,” says travel writer and digital nomad Kate Sortino of Cross Culture Love.

Once you choose your hotel and find some restaurants that look interesting, it’s wise to reach out and communicate your dietary needs in advance. “Contact hotels/restaurants directly ahead of time via their dedicated email, WhatsApp phone number, or your booking source,” advises CEO and travel expert Anne Desrosiers of The Voluptuary. “This way, they will be aware of how to meet your needs or will let you know if they cannot. Also, these methods are usually monitored by someone who speaks and can translate your needs.”

Always carry photos of the foods you need to avoid.

If you’re concerned about your lack of fluency in the language of the place where you’re traveling, clear photos of the foods you can’t eat will give you the ability to convey your restrictions to servers and hotel staff.

For instance, travel expert Cory Varga of You Could Travel, who is vegan, says that “the easiest way to communicate the fact that you’re a vegan is to have a printed page that shows pictures of eggs, milk and animals with an X on them. People might not all understand what veganism is, but everyone understands the meaning of pictures.”

Whether you choose to bring along a printout or prefer to keep photos on your phone, having an array of clear images of the off-limits foods (and a way to express the need to avoid them, like a negative facial expression, a head shake, or symbols like Xes on the photos themselves) can communicate your needs without involving verbal language.

Laminated (or digital) cards with allergy information are an easy and travel-friendly way to communicate.

When your dietary restrictions are based on allergies (and especially on severe allergies that can cause anaphylaxis), it’s essential to have easy and efficient access to materials that thoroughly outline the parameters.

Travel blogger Leah Pavel, who often travels with her severely peanut-allergic husband, tells us that “he keeps laminated cards in his wallet with his allergy information in the local language. Because severe allergies aren’t as common in other countries, he has to include the fact that his allergy is deadly in the statement.”

If you’d rather not deal with physical cards, you can download them from the internet and save them on your phone.

Keep an audio clip on your phone with a pre-recorded message about your allergy in the language of the place you're visiting.

Ask someone who speaks the language (like a fluent friend or a hotel concierge) to explain your dietary restriction and record what they say.

When venturing to a place where you don’t have a strong command of the language, it’s always helpful to learn a few basic phrases to help you get around. However, when allergies and serious dietary limits are involved, fluency becomes more important than ever.

That’s why travel company founder Lorne Blyth of Flavours Experiences urges you to “record a friend [or a hotel concierge, or a travel booker, or anyone else in your circle who fluently speaks the language] on your phone naming the foods you are allergic to/prefer not to eat.”

“Then, you can get the waiter/waitress to listen to it when ordering,” Blyth adds.

Keep a supply of medications with you at all times.

It may seem obvious that someone with food allergies or digestive issues should have a ready supply of medications on-hand, but when you’re traveling in an unfamiliar place, you’ll want to keep those meds directly on your person (rather than in a suitcase at your hotel).

“Make sure you travel with your EpiPen, Benadryl or other medications you require, in case you accidentally come in contact with allergens,” advises travel blogger Jenn Lloyd of Sick Girl Travels. “Keep your medications in their original packaging and never [store them] in your checked bag [when flying]. You want to have access to them at all times in case of emergency.”

Pack snacks that comply with your condition.

Because it never hurts to overprepare when traveling with a health condition or a dietary concern, err on the side of caution by packing a few snacks that you know you can comfortably eat.

“I always carry some food with me,” says Josip Hotovec, the founder of travel guide Japanko Official. “Throughout my career, I figured out that many unexpected things can happen. For example, you can get stuck in the airport for some time, or there can be train delays. Usually, this isn’t a problem for people who don’t have dietary restrictions. They can go to a fast-food restaurant and order a meal. However, you can’t do that when you have strict dietary restrictions. That’s why it’s a brilliant idea to carry some food in your backpack and be well prepared for unexpected situations.”

On the subject of travel snacks, up-to-date familiarity with Transportation Security Administration regulations will ensure that you’ll have your food ready when you need it.

“Solid food items (not liquids or gels) can be transported in either your carry-on or checked bags,” says travel support expert Lauren LaBar of Upaway. “Liquid or gel food items larger than 3.4 ounces are not allowed in carry-on bags and should be placed in your checked bags.You can also keep food cool with frozen ice packs in a cooler, but the packs must be frozen. TSA officers may instruct you to separate food items from your bag to ease the screening process.”

Check out TSA’s full list of food items and special instructions.

Consider buying travel insurance that includes medical coverage.

Should you fall into a worst-case food allergy scenario while traveling, knowing that you’ll have access to medical care can provide some stress relief. For that reason, flight coordinator Ben Carothers of Global Air Ambulance recommends purchasing “trip insurance with medical coverage.”

“We regularly transport patients who have had severe allergic reactions while traveling abroad,” Carothers says. “Because they weren’t covered by insurance, these types of trips cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s best to shop around and specify the medical events [you need covered] in the policy.”

Additional Info

  • Source Huffington Post
Monday, 16 October 2023 10:55

Most tourist-friendly cities of India

While India can be overwhelming if you have just landed in the country, it is also home to some of the warmest, helpful people on the planet. If you're planning your first trip to India, Globe Aware volunteers will be delighted to learn our Jaipur location is included in this list!

Most tourist-friendly cities of India

Oct 15, 2023


While India can be overwhelming if you have just landed in the country, it is also home to some of the warmest, helpful people on the planet. If you're planning your first trip to India, we will tell you where to go; these places are known for being tourist-friendly, welcoming and easy for foreign travellers to explore.

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Goa is one of those Indian states that see massive number of foreign travellers, and it is for all the right reasons too. Most people in the beach destination are well-versed with hospitality industry and related practices, are welcoming and helpful, are usually well-versed in English as well. The authorities here also value and understand the value of tourism and are helpful to those coming here from outside the country.


Jaipur is a part of India's Golden Triangle and sees lakhs of foreign tourists all through the year. If you are seeking a taste of the royal lifestyle of the state, this can just be the place to start your journey from. You will find multi-lingual guides to help in your explorations here.


Jodhpur is another place in Rajasthan that is adapted to welcoming both domestic as well as international tourists. While you can easily book a tour of the city with Rajasthan Tourism packages, exploring the city on your own is also easy.


Mysuru is a great place to start your trip from if South India is on your mind. Karnataka is a treat to explore, with friendly, warm locals and a very robust infrastructure. It is also great for solo travellers and has everything from architecture and wildlife to hill towns and more. Mysuru is just the place to start your Karnataka journey from.


Of course, you cannot skip Kerala on your trip to India, and what better place than Kochi to start your trip from. Kochi is a hub of all things artsy, creative, and wonderful. The cuisine here is alluring and is a highlight too. You'll find a number of people from other countries hobnobbing in the streets here. Kerala is also a state that has a robust infrastructure for its tourism industry and can be explored very easily.


Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry) is another place that has always been inviting for international tourists. It is also home to India's first experimental township. This is also a hub for volunteers from all across the world, and is great if you are into slow travelling and volunteering.


Rishikesh is another place that has been luring travellers from across the world with its reputation as the Yoga Capital of the World. It is also home to some of the most reputed yoga schools in the world if you are keen on the same. Exploring this little town is easy and its setting in the Himalayan foothills is also perfect for your first trip to India.


You can easily get to Varkala from Kochi and marvel at the wonder that this place is. Its towering cliffs by the beach are a wonder to look at. It is also a hub for international travellers and has a lot to offer from cuisine to watersports and more. There is a variety of stays to choose from here, from hostels to farmstays to beach bungalows and more.

Ziro Valley

This is for those who love going offbeat. Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh can be your introduction to the wonderland that Northeast India is. It hosts the Ziro Music Festival and knows the nuances of tourism very well. It is also one of the safest regions in the country if you are a solo traveller, and is home to some of the warmest people in the country.

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

Between the "ring of fire" annular eclipse coming up on October 14, 2023, and the 2024 total solar eclipse happening on April 8, 2024, viewers on land in the United States and neighboring countries are in for two major celestial moments as the moon passes between Earth and the sun. Globe Aware volunteers can find out more about how to see these two spectacular events!

Eclipse fever starts now. Here’s where to see the upcoming ‘ring of fire’ eclipse

By Terry Ward
October 7, 2023

Over large swaths of the Americas this month and next April, too, all eyes will be on the skies during two spectacular events.

Between the “ring of fire” annular eclipse coming up on October 14, 2023, and the 2024 total solar eclipse happening on April 8, 2024, viewers on land in the United States and neighboring countries are in for two major celestial moments as the moon passes between Earth and the sun.

And while the total solar eclipse is a bigger draw for most travelers since it promises totality (darkness during the moments when the moon covers the sun entirely), tourists are targeting areas in the annular eclipse’s path, too.

Car-sharing website Turo reports seeing an uptick in car bookings in major cities in Oregon, New Mexico and Texas near the annular eclipse’s path.

Booking.com similarly reports increased searches for San Antonio, Texas, the largest US city in the annular eclipse’s path, for the period of October 13 to 15, 2023, compared with the same period last year.

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Path of the ‘ring of fire’ eclipse

During October’s annular eclipse, which starts at 9:13 a.m. PT along the Oregon coast and ends in the United States in Texas at 12:03 p.m. CT, the moon will cover over 90% of the sun’s surface as it passes in front of it (as opposed to 100% coverage during a total eclipse).

The uncovered portion creates a striking “ring of fire” effect that can be seen when using protective viewing glasses during annularity, as the moon moves directly in front of the sun.

The path continues through parts of Central and South America (Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia and Brazil) before finishing its run at sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.

For many, the event is being seen as a sort of warm-up for the 2024 total solar eclipse, which professor Mark Littmann calls “the gold standard” of eclipse viewing.

And while it will never get as dark during October’s annular eclipse as it does during a total solar eclipse, some interesting effects may be possible to observe, says Littmann, a professor of science writing at the University of Tennessee and co-author of “Totality: The Great North American Eclipse of 2024.”

“The sky may take on some unusual color in terms of a steely gray flatness, blues may be a different color. These things depend on the weather, too,” Littman said. “It may cool down just a little bit. It gives you a kind of an omen of what a total eclipse would look like.”

Viewing an annular eclipse is far from routine: The next one won’t happen over the contiguous United States until 2046.

For viewers in the path of the eclipse who get a clear-sky view on the event at the moment of annularity, the “ring of fire” will not only “look really cool,” says Debra Ross, co-chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Eclipse Task Force, but drive home Earth’s place in the universe, too, with the moon so clearly between us and the sun.

“For lots of people, that’s worth traveling for,” Ross says.

If you’re looking for great places to put yourself in the path of annularity for the October 14 eclipse, read on.

Utah’s national parks

“National parks that are known for their spectacular landscapes will be especially attractive to photographers looking to capture wide-angle shots of the eclipsed sun,” Richard Tresch Fienberg, senior contributing editor for astronomy publication Sky & Telescope, told CNN Travel via email

Utah has spectacular parks in the October eclipse’s path including Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument as well as Capitol Reef National Park and Canyonlands National Park, all of which will see annularity (provided there’s no cloud cover) while remaining open to visitors during the eclipse.

Keep in mind that Navajo Tribal Parks – including Monument Valley and Four Corners Monument, where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet – are closed during the annular eclipse since the Navajo people consider eclipses to be sacred events.

You can make more than a day out of celebrating the eclipse by booking a four-night guided backpacking trip with Wildland Trekking along the Boulder Mail Trail in Bryce Canyon Country’s Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument that takes you right into the path of annularity.

Albuquerque and Roswell, New Mexico

Imagine seeing an annular eclipse from on high during a hot air balloon ride – and that’s what some lucky people will be doing during this year’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which runs from October 7 to 15.

The event’s signature “mass ascension,” when more than 550 balloons rise into the sky, is scheduled to lift off a little over an hour before annularity, adding to the views for people watching from the ground as the moon makes its way between the Earth and the sun. Some balloons may still be in the air at the time of annularity according to festival organizers, and 72 hot air balloons will be displayed on the launch field, another amazing place to watch the spectacle.

Albuquerque’s Balloon Museum is hosting viewing opportunities and presentations with NASA and NOAA representatives during the event and has 80,000 pairs of viewing glasses to hand out to visitors.

Consider hitting the path of annularity in southeastern New Mexico town of Roswell, too.

“You can bet that more than a few people will want to witness the otherworldly phenomenon of a solar eclipse from the UFO capital of the world,” Clark says. In the city’s downtown district, annularity will last for about four minutes and 42 seconds, with the Roswell Public Library and Cielo Grande Recreation Area among the locations holding watch events.

San Antonio and Texas Hill Country

“Depending on where in the city someone is (in San Antonio), they have a chance of seeing two solar eclipses from the same place in the span of only six months,” says Dave Clark, who runs the website NationalEclipse.com.

Parts of northwest San Antonio will be in the paths of both the annular and total eclipses, he says.

Viewing parties are planned across town at places ranging from the Natural Bridge Caverns and Mission San Jose to the Alamo Beer Company, which is debuting a “Ring of Fire” beer for the occasion and handing out eclipse-viewing eye protection with the purchase of a beverage.

As of 2 p.m. ET Friday, October 6, many downtown San Antonio hotels within the path of annularity still had rooms available during the October eclipse, including Omni La Mansión Del Rio, steps from the San Antonio River Walk, and the nearby Mokara Hotel & Spa.

Nearby Kerrville, along the Guadalupe River in Texas Hill Country, is among the towns at the intersection of both eclipses. Campspot told CNN Travel there are still several campgrounds with availability in the area including Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ Camp-Resort: Guadalupe River. In nearby Bandera, disc golf, free camping and live music on two stages are among the plans for the family-friendly Eclipse UTOPIA Festival.

And Uvalde County is hosting the Uvalde County Stellar Fest from October 13 to 16 in the Solar Eclipse Village at Garner State Park, where viewers can look forward to experiencing roughly four minutes and 48 seconds of annularity.

Corpus Christi, Texas

If you want to maximize your time admiring the “ring of fire” during annularity, the Texas city of Corpus Christi along the Gulf of Mexico is a good bet.

“Because the centerline of the eclipse passes directly through Corpus Christi, the duration of annularity breaks the five-minute mark there,” says Clark, adding that the area will see one of the longest durations of annularity in the United States.

Corpus Christi also has the distinction of being one of the last major parts of the country where October’s annular eclipse can be seen, with crowds sure to pack popular hangouts along the Corpus Christi Bayfront and North Padre Island long before annularity kicks in (around 11:55 a.m. local time).

Mayan Sites Edzná and Uzmal, Mexico

Ancient Mayan links to astronomy and the celestial world are evident in some of the culture’s more famous pre-Columbian sites in the Yucatán Peninsula, including Chichén Itzá, but it’s just outside the path of annularity, according to Space.com.

For a similarly evocative setting, you’ll need to make for lesser-known Mayan sites such as the UNESCO World Heritage listed Uxmal, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of the city of Mérida, and Edzná in Campeche state.

The beautiful small towns of Mexico
Both are in the path of annularity, and Edzná, which was first settled around 600 BC, gives viewers around 42 seconds longer to admire the eclipse’s “ring of fire,” according to Astronomy.com.

Sky & Telescope is organizing a 10-day tour of the region during the eclipse that takes in the Mayan sites as well as the main event, with viewing scheduled to take place from a hotel overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in Campeche. You can travel independently to the area of course, too, and stay in Mérida or Campeche to experience the eclipse at the nearby Mayan sites.

Santa Fe National Park, Panama

Panama’s northwest region is the only part of the country that falls within the path.

Viewers who make it to the wilds of Santa Fe National Park – known for having more than 50 waterfalls alongside a dizzying diversity of bird, butterfly and orchid species – can experience more than five minutes of annularity alongside the park’s natural beauty.

Stay just outside the park in the village of Santa Fe at the family-run Coffee Mountain Inn and you might spot toucans and parrots flying overhead while waiting for the eclipse. Stick around the area for trekking, rural coffee farm tours, horseback riding adventures and more.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

Hundreds of people have died and thousands more are injured in Israel after Hamas fired rockets from Gaza into Israel. Globe Aware volunteers planning travel over the region should be aware of these travel advisories.

Hamas attacks in Israel: Airlines that have suspended flights amid travel advisory

The FAA has urged U.S. airlines and pilots to "use caution."

By Melissa Gaffney and Amanda Maile
October 9, 2023

Hundreds of people have died and thousands more are injured after Hamas militants fired rockets from Gaza into Israel Saturday, Israeli authorities said.

The Israeli Defense Forces have declared "a state of alert for war," according to a statement issued by the IDF early Saturday morning.

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Is there a travel advisory to Israel?

The U.S. State Department is advising citizens to exercise increased caution if traveling to Israel or West Bank due to "terrorism and civil unrest," and it currently has a "do not travel" advisory for Gaza.

The department said in an update Sunday that the situation "remains dynamic; mortar and rocket fire may take place without warning."

Is travel to Israel suspended?

The Federal Aviation Administration said its statement over the weekend urging U.S. airlines and pilots to "use caution" when flying in Israeli airspace still stands.

The agency issued a NOTAM, or Notice to Air Missions, to pilots on Saturday following the unrest that reads, in part, "potentially hazardous situation" and "operators are advised to exercise extreme caution."

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a Conflict Zone Information Bulletin (CZIB) for the airspace of Israel on Sunday, recommending air operators "ensure that a robust risk assessment is in place together with a high level of contingency planning for their operations and to be ready for short notice instructions from the Israeli authorities."

Which airlines have canceled flights?

Major U.S. airlines

As of Monday afternoon, all major U.S. airlines and a number of foreign carriers had suspended service to and from Israel. Many other airlines, including Israeli flag carrier El Al, continue to operate flights.

American Airlines has canceled flights to and from Tel Aviv through Friday, the airline confirmed to ABC News, saying: "We continue to monitor and will make any additional adjustments as needed."

Delta Air Lines said it has suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv until the end of October, saying: "Our hearts are with those who are impacted as our people work to find safe alternatives for customers trying to depart TLV."

United Airlines said Sunday its flights to and from Tel Aviv "will remain suspended until conditions allow them to resume."Air Canada has canceled a number of flights to and from Tel Aviv through Friday.

European airlines

Air France has suspended flights to Tel Aviv "until further notice."

Wizz Air canceled all of its Israel-bound flights through Monday.

EasyJet canceled its flights to Tel Aviv through Tuesday.

KLM canceled all of its flights to and from Tel Aviv through Wednesday. Ryanair said it canceled flights to Tel Aviv through Wednesday.

ITA said it canceled flights to Tel Aviv until Thursday.

Lufthansa has suspended flights to Tel Aviv through Saturday.

Norwegian Air said it canceled all its flights to and from Tel Aviv through Sunday.

TAP announced Sunday it would suspend flights to Tel Aviv, but didn't provide a timeframe on how long they would be suspended.

Middle East and Asia

Etihad canceled flights to Israel through Tuesday, saying the airline is "monitoring the situation in Israel and continues to maintain close contact with authorities."

Cathay Pacific canceled its flights between Hong Kong and Tel Aviv through Thursday.

Gulf Air said it canceled flights to Tel Aviv until Saturday.

Airlines still flying to and from Israel

Virgin Atlantic canceled some flights to Israel but continues to operate some service between Tel Aviv and Heathrow Airport in London.

British Airways said it will continue to operate flights to Israel over the coming days with adjusted departure times, saying it's "continuing to monitor the situation" and has introduced a flexible booking policy for customers who wish to change their travel.

Air Malta canceled a flight to Israel on Monday but said it plans to operate a flight on Thursday.

El Al continues to fly to and from Tel Aviv, saying it "operates in accordance with the instructions of the Israeli security forces."

Hainan Airlines said it will continue to operate its three flights between China and Israel while closely monitoring the situation in Israel.

How to get out of Israel

U.S. citizens in Israel "should follow local government advice to increase their security awareness and remain safe," the State Department said. Citizens who need assistance should fill out the crisis intake form to contact their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate

"U.S. citizens who wish to leave and can do so safely are advised to check the status of the border crossings or verify flights have not been canceled before heading to the Ben Gurion Airport," the department said.

Additional Info

  • Source ABC World News Tonight
Monday, 02 October 2023 12:07

Four travel trends to look out for in 2024

The year is almost drawing to an end and we look forward to the 2024 travel period. With a new season, there are also trends for our Globe Aware volunteers to look out for.

Four travel trends to look out for in 2024

The year is almost drawing to an end and we look forward to the 2024 travel period. With a new season, there are also trends to look out for, whether you’re booking a blissful vacation in far-reaching destinations or holidaying in Mzansi’s very own spectrum of staycation locations.

Here are 4 travel trends that might just inspire you to book that getaway, according to Kruger Gate Hotel’s CEO, Anton Gillis.

One big happy family holiday

According to the CEO, multi-generational family trips cropped up as a major travel trend nine years ago when boomers started bringing their families along on their post-retirement adventures.

However, as travel took a back seat globally due to the pandemic, this style of holiday fell out of fashion but multi-generational holidays are on the rise again.

“As travel rebounds from the pandemic, families are particularly eager to reconnect and make lasting memories with one another again. Multi-generational trips have become one of the bigger travel trends of the year and are set to be even more favoured in 2024,” said Gillis.

He said that with this kind of trip, it’s important to consider that the holiday will need to appeal to at least three generations of people.

“Locally, one of the best multi-generational holidays families can book is a safari. Parents, little ones, elders and teens should find that a chance to unwind in nature, disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and marvel at breathtaking wildlife (particularly the Big Five) is enjoyed by all,” advised Gillis.

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Picture perfect set-jetting locations

Gillis also revealed that TV shows and movies can have a great influence on society’s culture, from what people wear to the food they eat and even their travel decisions.

He said that while the concept of set-jetting, travelling to places that we’ve seen on our screens, isn’t new, it’s pegged to become even more popular in the next year.

In the early 2000s, New Zealand’s tourism campaigns featured picturesque imagery transporting “Lord of the Rings” fans to fictional Middle-Earth, which resulted in a 50% increase in tourist arrivals and generated NZD$33 million (currently R369,304,320) a year at the time.

Similarly, the International Journal of Tourism Research found that Thronees, the fanbase of HBO’s widely beloved “Game of Thrones” series, visited Dubrovnik, Croatia, with upwards of 240,000 arrivals between 2012 and 2015.

“Recently, the South Korean series ‘Crash Landing on You’ has brought an influx of fans to the tiny Swiss village of Iseltwald, highlighting the rise in the set-jetting trend even in remote regions.

“With only a population of 400, the upcoming tourist hotspot has seen 1,000 visitors for every local villager since last year,” said Gillis.

A taste of culture

Aside from museums, historical monuments and cultural events, Gillis highlighted that travellers are increasingly feeling that trying the culinary offerings of another country is a wonderful way to get to know a new destination.

“Travel motivated by trying specific foods has even become its own kind of travel show, with hosts like actor Philip Rosenthal taking viewers to destinations specifically to savour local gastronomic specialities,” said the Kruger Gate’s CEO.

He said that in 2019, the international food tourism industry was valued at US $1,116.7 billion, which is projected to grow to over $1,796.5 billion by 2027.

“This booming interest in food tourism was recently seen on TikTok when a viral video detailing a Roman gelato food tour amassed 19.1 million views.

“The video, which was a food tour operator explaining expert tips on how to find the best gelato in Italy, demonstrates the interest that people have in the intricate details of a particular food - it was liked 2.8M times after all,” said Gillis.

Find serenity in slow travel

And finally, Gillis revealed that whirlwind, jam-packed vacations may become a thing of the past as the slow travel trend emerges as a rising trend in tourism.

“Slow travel sees tourists relishing longer leisurely trips, where they become immersed in local culture, taking in the beauty of the community through authentic experiences instead of hopping from one swamped tourist hotspot to the other.

“Travellers are thus electing to take tranquil routes and stay in accommodation that nurtures their quest for mindfulness and serenity,” said Gillis.

A survey conducted by Hidden Scotland found that the majority of respondents, 83% to be exact, prefer slow travel.

It further noted that 74% of people actually like the idea of living like a local when they’re in a new destination and that 78% enjoy the journey just as much as the destination when holidaying.

“South Africa is a perfect destination for slow travellers to visit. With mesmerising, slower-paced locations like the Wild Coast region of the Eastern Cape, the Drakensberg mountains or our very own World Wonder, the Kruger National Park, our international visitors, or even local holidaymakers, can experience a culturally enriched journey in an unhurried, rejuvenating manner,” said Gillis.

Additional Info

  • Source IOL

Finland became the first country to launch digital passports, aiming to streamline and enhance international travel. What do our Globe Aware volunteers think digital passports could mean for the future of travel?

Digital Passports Emerge As New Tourist Favourite. These Countries Are Early Movers

Several countries are developing digital passport projects, including Poland, South Korea, the US, and the UK.

World News
Edited by Rahul KumarU
October 01, 2023

Finland became the first country to launch digital passports, aiming to streamline and enhance international travel.Finnish travellers departing from Helsinki to the UK now have the option to present a digital ID on their mobile device instead of their physical passport, according to Euronews. The Finnish Border Control has noted that this marks the first instance worldwide where a digital passport is accepted in a genuine border control setting, promising a more efficient and seamless travel experience.

The initiative was launched on August 28 in collaboration with Finnair, the Finnish police, and airport operator Finavia. The Finnish Border Guard is overseeing the trial, which will continue until February 2024 at Helsinki Airport's border control.

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How do these digital passports function?

Interested travelers must initially download the FIN DTC Pilot digital travel document app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. To use the app, a phone screen locking method such as a PIN number, fingerprint, or face ID must be activated before installation.

Subsequently, travellers must register with the police at Vantaa Main Police Station's license services. This registration entails booking an appointment and presenting a valid physical passport to create its digital counterpart. During the registration process, individuals will provide consent and have a facial photo taken for facial recognition purposes.

Once registered, travelers can use DTC at Helsinki Airport when flying directly to the United Kingdom and returning to Helsinki Airport on Finnair flights until the trial concludes in February 2024. Before each trip, travelers must transmit their data via the app to the Finnish Border Guard 36 to 4 hours prior to departure.

Digital passports worldwide

Several countries have launched or are planning similar initiatives. In alignment with Finland, Poland, South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom are also developing digital passport projects. Notably, in 2021, Ukraine granted digital passports the same legal status as physical ones.

Singapore introduced HealthCerts in February 2021, a digital health passport that securely stores and presents Covid-19 test results and vaccination records for travelers. Additionally, countries such as China, Estonia, and Israel have introduced digital vaccine passports.

Where India stands

On the occasion of Passport Seva Divas on June 24, 2023, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar announced the commencement of the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP-Version 2.0), which will include new and enhanced e-passports. Jaishankar emphasized the commitment to providing passports and related services in a timely, reliable, accessible, transparent, and efficient manner.

Additional Info

  • Source NDTV

Do our Globe Aware volunteers celebrate Harvest Festivals with their families? Here are some of the most exciting and curious harvest festival celebrations from other parts of the world.



With yellow fields turning brown and the haze of grain dust rising into the sky, the harvest season is in full swing. But while you might know the more common British traditions, there are many harvest festival celebrations from around the world that will surprise and fascinate you.

Let’s go over some of the most interesting and curious harvest festival celebrations from other parts of the world.

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1. Guldize - Cornwall

Starting a bit closer to home, the Cornish traditions of Guldize (or sometimes referred to as Dicklydize or Nickly Thize) go back as far as 1602 and take place after the last sheaf of corn in a local area has been cut. The sheaf is presented to the north, south, east and west in a process known as ‘crying the neck’, so-called because the corn sometimes bends in the middle like the neck of a hen.

The corn is turned into a ‘corn dolly’, a kind of symbolic figure of the harvest that would then be paraded at the head of a procession as instruments and traditional songs were played.

One of the more quaintly antiquated traditions associated with Guldize involves one of the men attempting to sneak into the house of the main feast to steal the corn dolly. If caught, water is poured down his neck. But if he is successful, he earns a kiss from the female ‘guard’ tasked with looking after the dolly.

The traditions have died out in many parts of Cornwall, but plenty are seeking to revive these celebrations as a way of strengthening the Cornish identity. Guldize is still practiced to this very day and is a strong reminder of what holding onto your traditions can do to keep your community together.

2. Kekri – Finland

Heading over to the frosty forests of Finland and we come to the festival of Kekri. The celebrations historically began on differing dates depending on the outcome of the harvest. But with the rise of Christianity, they began to take place during Michaelmas (29th September) or All Saints’ Day (1st November) in different parts of the country.

In modern times, Kekri has largely been taken over by Christmas as the most important celebration of the year, but many of the traditions have been transferred to the December holidays. Rather than hiding a coin in a pudding or playing charades, the Finns celebrate the holidays in some very different ways.

Traditions that originate from Kekri include inviting the spirits of ancestors into the house to enjoy the feast and the sauna and telling the future by pouring molten tin into a pot of cold water. On the second day of Kekri, people visit friends and family dressed up in masks and costumes requesting hospitality and threatening to break their oven if they are not invited in.

Kekri remains a symbol of Finnish identity and culture, even though its actual celebration has waned over time. In the city of Karjaani, the burning of a straw goat effigy is reminiscent of the Wickerman traditions in Western Europe.

It has seen a healthy revival in many Finnish households in opposition to the rise of Americanised Halloween and Christmas celebrations.

3. New Yam Festival - Nigeria

Going further afield, we arrive in West Africa to marvel at the harvest traditions of the Igbo people. The celebration of the New Yam Festival starts with the harvesting of the last yam and is meant to signify the importance of the root vegetable in Igbo culture.

The most elderly or socially important man of an Igbo community is the one who performs the rituals, which involve the gifting of yams to God, their ancestors and other important spirits as a way of giving thanks. This ritual is concluded with the man eating the first yam, as it is believed to bestow importance on them.

The celebrations of the New Yam Festival take many different forms, with folk dances and masquerades in exquisitely colourful dress being a main part. This is accompanied by a large community feast, in which yams play a leading role.

The festival isn’t just celebrated by those in Nigeria, but also by Igbo people across Africa and the world. It is an incredible display of art and culture, all done in thanksgiving to one little vegetable.

4. Mid-Autumn Festival - China and East Asia

Finally, we complete our journey across the globe and end up at the vibrant harvest festivals of East Asia. The Chinese festival is called Zhōngqiū jié (though the name changes in different regions) and is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese calendar, usually falling around the second half of September in the Gregorian calendar.

The Mid-Autumn Festival encompasses many different traditions that share some key similarities. The first is the worship of the moon as a symbol of fertility. The moon is seen as a female who becomes pregnant when full and then gives birth to the stars and wanes.

Key parts of the celebrations include lanterns of various bright colours that hang or even float about the town or city, sometimes having riddles on them for people to solve. Of course, feasting is a crucial part of the festival with moon cakes and cassia wine being prominent. Many games are played, including one where a woman is chosen to ‘ascend to heaven’ and is surrounded by incense. Once she returns she describes the heavenly sights and sounds she witnessed.

In all, the celebrations of the Mid-Autumn festival show the vibrancy of East Asian culture to the fullest.

Additional Info

  • Source HISTORY
Monday, 25 September 2023 13:38

Don’t Miss Next Week’s Beautiful Full Moon

September’s full moon, known as the harvest moon this year, will occur on September 29th and will appear full for several evenings. Globe Aware volunteers can learn more about this spectacular sight!

Don’t Miss Next Week’s Beautiful Full Moon — Why It’s So Special

SEPTEMBER 23, 2023

A full moon always looks spectacular when it rises above the horizon. There’s even more reason to look forward to next week’s full moon, however.

Although September’s full moon, known as the harvest moon this year, will occur on September 29, it will appear full for several evenings. Plus, the moon will also rise at nearly the same time just after sunset each of those nights.

Here’s what you need to know about 2023’s harvest moon.

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Why It’s Called The Harvest Moon

The moon orbits Earth once every 27.32 days, so there typically is one full moon each month. What’s different about the harvest moon, however, is that its name is associated with the timing of the autumnal equinox — which occurs today, September 23, this year — rather than the month in which it occurs.

The full moon closest to the autumnal equinox is called the harvest moon. Although that moon can occur in September or October depending on the calendar and the moon’s orbit, 2023’s harvest moon will reach peak illumination at 5:58 a.m. Eastern on Friday, September 29, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

The full moon typically rises around sunset and then rises roughly 50 minutes later each day. However, when a full moon occurs around the autumnal equinox, the moon rises much closer to the time of sunset on successive nights.

This happens due to a combination of the moon’s orbit of Earth and Earth’s orbit of the sun. As a result, the moon’s orbital position places it nearly parallel to the eastern horizon, so Earth doesn’t need to rotate quite as far to bring up the moon — or for the moon to rise — on these nights.

Consequently, in the Northern Hemisphere, the moon rises about 20–25 minutes later each day for several days before and after the harvest moon, according to EarthSky.

Because the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox rises at about the same time just after sunset for several nights in a row, the bright moonlight early in the evening historically helped farmers work to harvest their crops after sunset, The Old Farmer’s Almanac explains. As a result, that full moon came to be known as the “harvest” moon.

How To See The Harvest Moon

The harvest moon will occur on September 29 at 5:58 a.m. Eastern and will be below the horizon for people in the Northern Hemisphere. The good news is that the moon will also appear full and shine brightly on Thursday, September 28, and Saturday, September 30.

There are two reasons why you’ll want to look for the harvest moon when it rises just after sunset.

First, it will appear orange or orange-ish yellow as the moon rises above the horizon. It will then appear white as the moon rises high in the night sky.

The moon will appear orange because, when we see the moon low on the horizon, we’re looking through a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere than when we look up and overhead, EarthSky explains.

Secondly, the moon always appears largest when it is just above the horizon due to what’s called the “moon illusion.” In this instance, the moon doesn’t actually change size, but the moon illusion tricks our brains into thinking it sometimes appears larger or smaller, NASA explains.

For instance, when the moon is just above the horizon, our brains compare its size to other objects on the skyline, such as church towers and buildings. Compared to those objects, the moon naturally seems enormous. The flip side of the coin is that when the moon is high in the evening sky, it appears small due to the sheer scope of space.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Awaits

It's not the first time a plane has departed without its passengers' bags. Globe Aware volunteers can learn about how this may impact them on future flights when planning to travel.

Plane takes off with passengers but not a single checked bag on board

Maureen O'Hare
September 16, 2023

A Swiss International Air Lines plane took off from Zurich without any luggage on board.

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AWOL at the airport

A Swiss International Air Lines plane took off from Zurich this past weekend filled with passengers but without a single checked suitcase on board because of a lack of ground staff. After an initial delay, Flight WK226, operated by SWISS on behalf of Edelweiss Air, set off for Bilbao on Saturday without checked baggage so the plane would be able to make its return flight to Zurich before the night-time flight ban kicked in.

“It was possible to deliver most of the luggage to Bilbao the following day,” a SWISS spokesperson told CNN, while the rest arrived on Monday. He added, “We deeply understand the frustration and anger of the passengers” and “are currently reviewing our processes.”

Air traffic controller shortages also continue to be a problem globally: US airline execs are warning that years of flight disruption lie ahead.

In happier news, a Delta passenger’s dog that went missing at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, the world’s busiest airport, has been found safe after three weeks.

And Japan Airlines has started a yearlong trial of a service that lets you rent a set of clothes and receive it at your hotel on arrival, which could be handy if your bags go on tour without you.

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Monday, 18 September 2023 10:45

Explore Jaipur, The Pink City of India

Globe Aware volunteers can discover the vibrant culture and stunning attractions of Jaipur. Explore historic palaces and colorful markets, and immerse yourself in the royal heritage of the Pink City.


Discover the vibrant culture and stunning attractions of Jaipur. Explore historic palaces and colourful markets, and immerse yourself in the royal heritage of the Pink City.

Meghana Dalal
September 15, 2023

Jaipur, which is often called the Pink City due to the dominant presence of the hue in its buildings, is a captivating blend of history, culture and modernity. Nestled in the heart of Rajasthan, this city is a treasure trove of amazing architecture, bustling markets, and delicious food.

If you’re planning to explore Jaipur, here’s a guide to help you make the most of your visit.

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Amer Fort

Start your trip with a visit to the majestic Amer Fort, an architectural masterpiece perched on a hill. Admire the intricate designs of the Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) and the Grand Court. Don’t miss the mesmerising sound-and-light show in the evening.

City Palace

The City Palace is the royal residence showcasing Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. While here, explore the museum, which displays artefacts, costumes, and artwork from Jaipur’s royal history.

Hawa Mahal

Admire the unique facade of the Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of the Winds, with its 953 small jharokhas (windows). Learn about the historical significance of this place from where royal women could watch street festivals. Jantar Mantar observatory Marvel at the world’s largest stone sundial and other astronomical instruments and gain insight into ancient Indian astronomy.

Jal Mahal

Enjoy panoramic views of the Jal Mahal (Water Palace), a partially submerged palace in Man Sagar Lake. Take a boat ride to get up close to this architectural marvel.

Local markets and shopping

Stroll through Jaipur's bustling markets such as Johari Bazaar and Bapu Bazaar. Shop for colourful textiles, traditional jewellery, crafts and spices.

Rajasthani cuisine

Savour authentic Rajasthani dishes such as Dal Baati Churma, Gatte ki Sabzi, and Laal Maas and dig into a traditional Rajasthani thali at local restaurants.

Cultural experience

Witness the vibrant culture of Rajasthan through folk dances, musical performances and jewellery. Attend the famous Jaipur Literature Festival if your visit coincides with the event. Nearby places Consider day trips to nearby places such as the royal town of Pushkar and the historic city of Ajmer. Pushkar is about 135 kilometres from Jaipur, and Ajmer is around 130 kilometres from the Pink City. Both cities provide a fascinating cultural experience via historical palaces, colourful temples, and a fusion of traditional and modern life.

With its rich heritage, architectural marvels, and warm hospitality, the Pink City promises an unforgettable journey through Indian history and culture. Whether you are a history buff, a foodie, or just a wanderer looking to soak up the vibrant atmosphere of the city, Jaipur has something to offer every visitor.

So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the magic of Jaipur!

Additional Info

  • Source Yourstory
Monday, 11 September 2023 15:32

How to help the Morocco earthquake victims

What’s the best way to support the communities most affected by the Morocco earthquake right now? Globe Aware volunteers can check out these local and global relief charities providing emergency services and essentials.

How to help the Morocco earthquake victims

What’s the best way to support the communities most affected by the Morocco earthquake right now? Fund these local and global relief charities providing emergency services and essentials – and, if you have a holiday booked to visit soon, think before you cancel.

11 September 2023

On 8 September 2023, a devastating earthquake took place in Morocco, killing thousands of people and injuring thousands more. Many in the country’s mountainous communities are still unable to access communication, medical help or supplies from the outside at the time of writing (11 September) and relief is urgently needed for those affected in remote communities of the High Atlas Mountains.

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How can we be helpful?

Support those affected by donating to these charities working on the ground. While it rarely makes sense to travel into a disaster zone in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, tourism is the biggest source of revenue for Morocco, and future trips to the country will bring in much-needed funds for relief. So, if you have a trip planned to Morocco, pause before you cancel. It may be better to postpone; always check the latest FCDO information and your insurance policy. And please share this article with links to the dedicated relief funds currently powering emergency aid.

Charities to donate to now

The Intrepid Foundation

The charity arm of Intrepid Travel has acted quickly to set up a dedicated appeal providing support to its long-term local NGO partners in Morocco, Education for All and the High Atlas Foundation, who are on the ground working with local communities. This work includes providing those impacted with essential provisions such as food, shelter, clean water, and medical supplies. The Intrepid Foundation will match donations up to £50,000 while covering the foundation’s administrative costs, ensuring 100 per cent of donations go directly to recovery efforts.

“Many people in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains and Marrakech are suffering unimaginably after Friday’s devastating earthquake. As well as being my beloved home country, Morocco is one of Intrepid’s most popular destinations, and we want to do everything we can to support local communities in the midst of this crisis,” Zina Bencheikh, managing director EMEA of Intrepid Travel, told Conde Nast Traveller. “Our emergency appeal is raising funds for two very special partners, Education for All and the High Atlas Foundation. Both are located in the part of the country most affected by the earthquake. The Intrepid Foundation will match donations, so please give generously.”

Education For All Earthquake Crisis Appeal

This charity hosts dedicated boarding houses which help hundreds of girls to complete their studies. It was set up by one of the founders of the eco-lodge Kasbah Du Toubkal, and the team have launched a dedicated crisis appeal through Global Giving. “There has been significant damage to all of the boarding houses,” Mike McHugo, founder of Discover Ltd and Kasbah Du Toubkal, told us. “Since this happened outside of term time, we are still awaiting updates from the girls who were back in their villages.” In addition to repairing houses, they anticipate emergency and longer-term support for the girls and their families. Contributions will support the short-term and long-term projects needed to rebuild the homes and help the devastated local communities.

High Atlas Foundation

This Moroccan association and nonprofit organisation has an extensive network among the most affected communities in the High Atlas region. With years of experience transporting supplies to these remote villages, they are uniquely equipped to transport and distribute essential supplies for disaster relief.

Moroccan Red Crescent Society

Fund the rescue teams on the ground with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, providing search and rescue support through their Disaster Response Emergency Fund.

Eve Branson Foundation Earthquake Relief Fund

Kasbah Tamadot is Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Limited Edition luxury hotel in the mountainous region worst affected – Virgin Unite has launched this Emergency Appeal fund to support the local community.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

If you’re a Globe Aware volunteer who is a natural-born adventurer with a more flexible annual leave, you’ve probably been saving up and looking forward to the end of summer. You’ll be thrilled to learn that one of Latin America’s top tourist destinations is in fact best experienced in the upcoming off-season.

Why Fall Is The Best Time To Visit This Tropical Latin American Country

August 30, 2023
Travel off Path

If you’re wary of crowds and you’re a solo traveler with a more flexible annual leave, you’ve probably been saving up and looking forward to the end of summer, when the school holidays will end, and ticket prices will have dropped significantly.

If this applies to you, and on top of that, you’re a natural-born adventurer, you’ll be thrilled to learn that one of Latin America’s top tourist destinations is in fact best experienced in the upcoming off-season – or how it is known locally, the green season.

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Come rain or come shine, here’s why the increasingly popular Costa Rica is best experienced in the fall:

First Of All, Why Is Costa Rica So Great?

Costa Rica is a small country in the Central American isthmus, bounded by the Caribbean Sea to the Northeast and the Pacific to the Southwest, for a combined coastline of 800 miles.

It’s no wonder the country’s name literally translates from Spanish as ‘Rich Coast’.

With a relatively high quality of life and very few instances of political unrest, as observed in Colombia, Peru, Brazil, and the like, it has been historically perceived as a source of stability for the geopolitical region, as well as an incredibly safe country.

Political stability aside, why exactly is the tropical ‘Rich Coast’ such an incredible fall destination?

There May Be More Rain, But There Are Also Less Crowds

As reported by Travel + Leisure, while a majority of tourists pick the ‘dry’ season – roughly between December and April – to visit, the best time to explore Costa Rica and avoid the surging crowds is roughly May through November.

Comprising both summer and fall in the Northern Hemisphere, this period often sees a higher level of precipitation across Costa Rica due to the build-up of humidity and tropical storms, but it also sees a sharp drop in the number of tourists and consumer prices.

Though this hardly sounds encouraging, it doesn’t mean it rains nonstop in Costa Rica throughout autumn.

The risk is notoriously higher compared to wintertime, but rainy days are interspersed with sunny breaks and warm, pleasant weather:

According to TUI, a travel agency based in Great Britain, there is a 25% chance of a ‘perfect’ sunny day in Costa Rica for the month of September and a 75% chance of a mixture of both sunshine and clouds, with an average precipitation of about 3 inches.

October is similar, with a 22% chance of a cloudless sunny day, so yes, sunny intervals are indeed fewer, but temperatures remain in the mid-70s to low 80s°F, and the waters, particularly along the Caribbean coast, remain considerably warm year-round.

Undisturbed Nature

Fall is best for traveling in Costa Rica as other tourists will deliberately avoid the green season due to whatever chance it may rain, even if occasionally.

This means you’ll have all the paradisaical beaches, quaint historical towns, and gorgeous nature trails (almost) all to yourself.

On sunny days, you are free to relax on one of the country’s pristine Caribbean or Pacific beaches, going for a swim or simply burying your feet in the golden sands and soaking up the tropical atmosphere.

Should it rain, and you’re averse to getting wet whilst exploring a verdant trail, rest assured you’ll never run out of exciting things to do, as Costa Rica has so much more to offer than its abundant nature, especially if you’re a guest at Peninsula Papagayo.

As Costa Rica’s best-equipped resort zone, it is jam-packed with all-inclusive hotels, guesthouses, and youth hostels, with affordable overnight rates this autumn.

Other than the undisturbed nature, the cheaper and less crowded hotels are part of Costa Rica’s green season charm:

It Is Cheaper To Visit In The Off-Season

Costa Rica is easily one of the most expensive countries in Latin America, and if you’re on a stricter budget, especially in this post-crisis climate, traveling in the green season is your best bet at experiencing Costa Rica thoroughly without breaking the bank.

With prices starting at just $97 for a Standard Room at Villa del Sueño, a well-frequented and well-reviewed three-star hotel in Playa Hermosa, and an even-cheaper $85 for Villa de Sol, located a stone’s throw away from the region’s unruffled beaches and seafront bars.

Based on data collected by other experts at Travel + Leisure, May and September, at the beginning and end of the green season, are the cheapest months for visiting Costa Rica.

Fly To Costa Rica From Several U.S. Cities

The primary airport serving the whole of Costa Rica is Juan Santamaría International, 12 miles from the national capital of San Jose. A major regional hub, it hosts nonstop flights from several North, Central American, and Caribbean airports.

This fall, you can travel to this tropical paradise from the following U.S. hubs:

  • Los Angeles (with Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines)
  • Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami (with American Airlines)
  • New York-JFK, Washington Dulles (with Avianca Airlines, JetBlue, and Volaris Costa Rica)
  • Atlanta (with Delta Air Lines and Frontier Airlines)
  • Fort Lauderdale, Orlando (with JetBlue and Spirit Airlines)
  • Baltimore, Houston-Hobby (with Southwest Airlines)
  • Houston-Intercontinental, Newark (with United Airlines)

Additional Info

  • Source Self

September is National Passport Awareness Month and a large number of Americans, including Globe Aware volunteers, will soon be taking to airplanes, trains, boats and cars for dream fall and winter international getaways. In order to help provide peace of mind, here are some financial tips for travellers on how to prepare for international travel.

4 travel tips for National Passport Awareness Month

By Brian Formisano
September 5, 2023

September is National Passport Awareness Month and a large number of Americans will soon be taking to airplanes, trains, boats and cars for dream fall and winter international getaways.

Getting ready for a global adventure can be both exciting and stressful at the same time.

In order to help provide peace of mind, here are some financial tips for travelers on how to prepare for international travel.

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Budget for foreign entry visas

More and more countries are starting to require United States citizens to pay for visas before entering the country. The days of a simple passport stamp for Americans are on their way out.

In 2024, the 27 members of the Schengen Area, which include European Union countries, will require United States citizens to complete the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) process and pay a small visa entry fee. More information is available online here.

Other countries, such as Brazil, are going to be requiring entry visas again for United States citizens as early as October 1, 2023. These can take time to obtain and add hundreds of dollars to your trip budget.

You can get individual country visa information and costs at the Department of State travel portal.

Have some foreign currency

It is always a good idea to have some foreign currency of the countries you plan to visit on your vacation before you leave. Your local bank branch or customer service phone banker can assist with this.

Upon arriving in the airport, port or some other foreign destination, visitors can have added peace of mind knowing that they have some small bills in the local currency to use for routine items.

Notify your bank

Many banks are moving away from travelers having to notify them of travel plans and relying on technology and algorithms instead.

Nonetheless, it’s better to ask your branch or call the number on the back of your card to make sure they are aware of your travel plans in advance. It is better to contact them and not need to put in a travel alert instead of being declined when trying to purchase something in a foreign country.

Beware of foreign currency conversion fees

When traveling internationally, it’s smart to use a credit card with no foreign currency conversion fees. These fees can add three percent or more to the amount of every credit card charge when vacationing abroad.

If you don’t know if your credit card has a foreign currency conversion fee, call the customer service phone number located on the back of your card.

These four handy tips can help travelers prepare financially for an international adventure of a lifetime.

Brian Formisano is the Wells Fargo Nevada region executive.

Additional Info

  • Source VEGAS INC.

Chiang Mai has been described as Thailand’s cultural capital, and its most traditional large city. Globe Aware volunteers will find numerous reasons to volunteer in this historical location!

5 Reasons Why This City Is One Of The Top Destinations In Thailand Right Now

September 5, 2023
Travel Off Path

With its paradisaical islands, centuries-old Buddhist temples, and verdant nature, Thailand is one of the world’s most popular vacation hotspots, having attracted over 15 million tourists in the first seven months of 2023 alone.

Though the majority of travelers either land in Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling financial center and national capital, or Phuket, the entertainment capital and trendiest resort island, the power duo are not the Southeast Asian giant’s only tourism magnets.

Chiang Mai is a major contributor to Thailand’s astonishing tourism recovery, hosting millions of visitors every year, but what exactly has the country’s second-largest city got to offer?


Chiang Mai Is More Traditional

Chiang Mai has been described as Thailand’s cultural capital, and its most traditional large city.

Though it is big and home to over a million residents, it doesn’t feel nearly as metropolitan as you would expect it to be, like Bangkok or Pattaya.

There are no huge, tall skyscrapers in the historic center; instead, you will find streets that are narrower and a much higher proportion of traditional eateries and family-owned shops, and it can certainly feel more authentically ‘Thai’ compared to the national capital.

It is one of the reasons why foreigners are so drawn to Chiang Mai, as it has not yet been overtaken by tourism as the islands or other coastal areas in Thailand have.

Don’t get us wrong: it is extremely popular, but authorities have done a stellar job at preserving its unique character.

It Is Cheaper

Thailand is a remarkably cheap destination by Western standards.

Even some of the country’s most expensive tourist zones, namely Pattaya and Phuket, can feel like a bargain to American travelers used to paying exorbitant prices traveling domestically or to the Caribbean for their yearly getaways.

You must bear in mind, however, that prices in Thailand’s tourist ‘belt’ do not reflect the cost of living in the country, and certainly not in Chiang Mai, where wages are much lower than in the islands.

If you find Phuket is a steal of a deal, wait until you get to the Northern capital.

On average, long-term tourists spend $523 per month or less staying in Chiang Mai (accommodation not included).

Restaurant prices are nearly half what they are in Phuket, and consumer prices are also 10.4% cheaper.

Trust us when we say your dollars will stretch a lot further here.

A Growing Expat Community

If you’re a digital nomad, you’ll certainly have no shortage of reasons to fall in love with Chiang Mai, as it is cheap, the weather stays warm year-round, the atmosphere is more relaxed than other major Thai cities, and there is a thriving expat community that calls it home.

Moving to Thailand, foreigners often favor a relocation to the Northern city over the capital or the islands due to the wide availability of services and housing at reasonable prices, the numerous work-friendly cafes and co-working spots, and the Old Town’s walkability.

According to One Stop Chiang Mai, as many as 40,000 foreigners reside in the city, where English is ‘commonly’ spoken and locals have grown accustomed to and even welcome the presence of Westerners, who help boost the local economy and generate jobs.

It Is Historical

Though it made its fame as a tropical party destination, Thailand is not all about beaches and crowded entertainment venues.

Chiang Mai, for instance, puts certain European cities to shame with its historical moated, walled Old Town and hundreds of elaborately built temples.

Besides housing temples and ancient fortifications, Chiang Mai is the gateway to the picturesque North of Thailand, where tourists will find elephant sanctuaries, quaint mountain villages, and sweeping natural vistas, making it an ideal destination for slow travelers hoping to truly take in the atmosphere.

43% of Americans going on an international trip this year are actively seeking a cultural immersion, as stated in a new study conducted by OnePoll, and traveling to Thailand is definitely where they will find it.

The Safest City In Southeast Asia

Last but not least, Chiang Mai has time and again been listed as the safest destination not only in Thailand but all of Southeast Asia, as well as the 32nd safest city in the entire world.

There may be some scammers and petty thieves around, particularly in touristy zones and/or during major events, such as Chiang Mai’s iconic yearly Songkran Water Festival, but crime rates are significantly lower compared to other cities in Thailand and the wider continent.

In the safety ranking put together by Numbeo, the Crime and Safety Indices by City, Chiang Mai ranks higher than Singapore, the most developed city (and country) in Southeast Asia, and even Tokyo, the capital of Japan.

In terms of urban security, it is only surpassed by Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

China Lifts Mandatory COVID Testing for Incoming International Travelers

By Donald Wood
August 28, 2023
Travel Pulse

International travelers heading to mainland China will no longer need to present a negative COVID-19 test before being permitted to enter, starting on Wednesday, August 30.

According to The Associated Press, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a Monday press briefing that lifting the mandatory coronavirus testing protocols was a major milestone in China’s reopening to the rest of the world.

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In January, the Asian nation ended quarantine requirements for Chinese citizens returning home after traveling abroad. The country has also recently expanded the list of countries travelers can visit and increased the number of international flights.

Last week, Delta Air Lines expanded its flight schedule to China by offering 10 weekly flights from Seattle and Detroit to Shanghai-Pudong International Airport, beginning October 29. In March 2024, the airline will expand service to PVG from Los Angeles four times each week, a route that hasn’t been operated since before the pandemic.

The continued moves to lift COVID-related restrictions come after China enacted a domestic “zero COVID” policy that resulted in city-wide lockdowns and lengthy quarantines for infected people.

Travelers were previously required to isolate for weeks at government-designated hotels, which stunted the world’s second-largest economy, led to rising unemployment and resulted in massive protests against the forced lockdowns.

Earlier this month, government officials in China announced that group tours would again be permitted for several countries for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s culture and tourism ministry revealed that its citizens could participate in group tours to Australia, Britain, Germany, Japan, South Korea and the United States, but Canada remained banned.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

Globe Aware volunteers have until labor day to help choose a name for the rarest giraffe born in the world. Born this past July, this calf is believed to be the only living solid-colored reticulated giraffe in the world!

World’s Rarest Giraffe Born At A Zoo In Tennessee — Help Give Her A Name


Something truly amazing has happened at a zoo in Tennessee.

Reticulated giraffes are known for their distinctive spotted coat with brown shapes that help camouflage them in the dry savannah. However, a giraffe calf born at Brights Zoo in Limestone, Tennessee, on July 31 lacks spots. Instead, she is a beautiful solid brown color.

The calf is believed to be the only living solid-colored reticulated giraffe in the world.

Indeed, Stephanie Fennessy, executive director of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, said the group had “never seen a similar giraffe in the wild in Africa,” according to the Washington Post.

spotless giraffe brights zoo 800x800The great news is that the giraffe calf, who is already 6 feet tall, is thriving under the care of her attentive mother and the zoo’s expert staff, David Bright, director of Brights Zoo, told TravelAwaits in a statement. Furthermore, she was immediately accepted by the entire giraffe tower, or group of giraffes.

They treat her as they treat every other giraffe born at the zoo, Bright explains.

As you would expect, news of the giraffe, called the “rarest giraffe in the world,” is drawing a significant amount of attention.

“The international coverage of our patternless baby giraffe has created a much-needed spotlight on giraffe conservation,” Tony Bright, founder of Bright’s Zoo, told TravelAwaits. “Wild giraffe populations are silently slipping into extinction.”

Sadly, there are only around 16,000 reticulated giraffes in the wild, according to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. That’s a more than 50 percent decline from when there were approximately 36,000 wild reticulated giraffes about 35 years ago, the foundation continues.

About Reticulated Giraffes

The reticulated giraffe is one of the four distinct species of giraffe. The word “reticulated” in their name refers to the network of polygonal brown spots separated by creamy off-white streaks, the Denver Zoo explains.

Male reticulated giraffes are typically 16–18 feet tall and weigh approximately 4,200 pounds. Females, on the other hand, are generally 14–16 feet tall and weigh around 2,600 pounds.

Reticulated giraffes are also known for their 6-foot-long legs, 6-foot-long necks, and 18-inch prehensile tongues. Those tongues, which are strong and flexible, allow the giraffes to grasp and strip leaves from thorny branches without scratching their faces or eyes on the thorns.

Naming, And Visiting, The Giraffe Calf

Brights Zoo, which is about 80 miles from Knoxville, Tennessee, hasn’t named the giraffe calf yet. In fact, its staff needs your help naming her.

They’ve come up with four possible names for the giraffe. Those names, and their meanings, are:

  1. Kipekee – “Unique”
  2. Firyali – “Unusual” or “Extraordinary”
  3. Shakiri – “She is most beautiful”
  4. Jamella – “One of great beauty”

If you’d like to help name the giraffe, all you need to do is visit the Brights Zoo Facebook page and vote for the name you like best.

Brights Zoo has even created a new webpage to post updates about the giraffe. You can follow the giraffe, and even learn how you can visit her, at the Rare Patternless Giraffe webpage.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Awaits

Sunder Energy's sales representatives, managers, and executives alike, volunteered with Globe Aware to build infrastructure around the Camino del Mayab, near Merida, Mexico. Sunder Energy's volunteer vacation week consisted of working on a variety of local projects while supporting local accommodations, tasting local foods, and buying gifts and souvenirs from an economically depressed community.

Sunder Energy Returns from Social Impact Trip on The Camino del Mayab

PR Newswire
January 5, 2023

SANDY, Utah, Jan. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Sunder Energy, the residential solar sales organization with a mission-oriented culture, returned last month from their social impact trip in Mérida, Mexico. There, sales representatives, managers, and executives alike, worked with GlobeAware to build infrastructure around the Camino del Mayab. The Camino del Mayab, a 130-kilometer hiking/biking trail connecting 13 Mayan communities, is often an overlooked destination in Mexico. Sunder Energy's service group was able to work on a variety of local projects while supporting local accommodations, tasting local foods, and buying gifts and souvenirs from an economically depressed community.

Sunder's mission is "to give people the power to change the future." Daniel Hadobas, a participant in the trip, said of their experience, "I love being part of a company that values giving back and doing service like we did in Merida. It was such a fun and enriching experience to help at the school there. With Sunder's commitment to do a yearly project like this, I can't wait for the next one!" Sunder Energy Chief Executive Officer, Max Britton said, "We went on this trip knowing our team could make a difference in this region and for their people, but we didn't grasp the full impact until we were there, experiencing the hard work and pure joy of those around us. This was an incredible experience that touched all of our hearts. We left tired from the work we did, but full of gratitude for everything we have and everything we could help with in this community".

With the commitment to help homeowners gain energy independence and a desire to pass along their mission-oriented culture to communities in need, Sunder Energy is proud to have made an impact in this special community. The sales organization looks forward to lending a helping hand every year with this annual initiative. To learn more about Sunder Energy, visit SunderEnergy.com.

Sunder Energy Representatives

About Sunder Energy:

In August 2019, long-time friends Max Britton, Eric Nielsen, and a group of friends took their solar industry experience and turned it into a business. Sunder Energy's mission-oriented culture is filled with people who are committed to helping homeowners and the planet alike. The business is focused on disrupting the way America produces its energy.

The team at Sunder Energy strives daily to ensure that core values are exemplified and that the best service is given to customers. We believe in giving our very best in everything we do. We sell only the highest quality solar systems that are backed by the best warranties in the industry. This makes it easy for us to stand by what we promise.

Additional Info

  • Source Self

Flying makes many folks nervous enough to do specific rituals to feel safer. Find out the reasons why and do any of our Globe Aware volunteers follow any of the same superstitions mentioned?

Superstitious flyer? A psychologist reveals the meaning behind the rituals

By Tarah Chieffi
Aug. 10, 2023
The Points Guy

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Common sense tells us that many of the activities we engage in every day are more dangerous than flying. Even so, you are much more likely to meet someone who's nervous about flying than someone who's afraid of other modes of transportation, such as cars or bicycles. In fact, according to the International Air Transport Association, aviation is the safest form of long-distance transportation, with the equivalent of one fatal accident for every 4.2 million flights.

Flying makes some people nervous enough they do superstitious things every time they fly. You've probably heard of some flying superstitions, such as touching the outside of the plane before boarding. Others, like placing a bit of dirt in your shoe so you always have one foot on the ground, are less common but serve the same purpose: bringing a bit of comfort and control to an otherwise uncomfortable situation.

Where do these superstitions come from? And can they actually help keep passengers calm on a flight? TPG spoke with clinical psychologist and author Barbara Greenberg to learn the meaning behind flying superstitions and whether they can be harmful or helpful to air travelers.

"It is true that driving a car is more dangerous than flying in an airplane, but there is a sense of perceived control when you are behind the wheel of your car," Greenberg told TPG. "Being up in the air, on the other hand, feels very unnatural. You feel like you have no control, and you are completely at the mercy of the flight crew."

For some flyers, it's easy to fixate on all of the things that could go wrong, no matter how unlikely they are. Even if something were to go wrong, most of us don't know how to fly an airplane. Instead of being able to walk into the cockpit and lend the pilot a helping hand, many flyers turn to superstitions to assert a degree of control over the situation.

Greenberg explained how flying superstitions originate. "If you engage in a certain behavior when you do something that you are anxious about and nothing bad happens, you start to think that your behavior is what helped keep you safe," she said.

In the case of flying, if you touch the outside of the plane or carry a good-luck charm and land safely at your destination, you are likely to do it again and again to help you achieve that feeling of safety the next time you fly. "I think people know in their hearts that it isn't preventing a tragedy, but it eases their anxiety," Greenberg added.

It isn't only catastrophe that causes anxiety for flyers, though. Some of us are just concerned with whether or not we will reach our destination on time, which is a valid fear given the current landscape of frequent delays and cancellations. Some of the flyers TPG spoke to superstitiously refrain from buckling their seat belt until the boarding door is closed and the flight has been cleared for takeoff, or text themselves their flight information before a flight.

It's unlikely that the act of buckling your seat belt at a certain time or sending a text message can stop a flight delay, but if it makes you feel better in the moment, is it really hurting anything?

According to Greenberg, flying superstitions are perfectly harmless. On the contrary, they can actually be helpful. "Flying superstitions do work in the sense that they reduce your anxiety," Greenberg said. "If you have a superstition that doesn't harm anybody but helps to calm you down, engage in it," she added.

Flying can be scary. If your superstition helps make it less scary, go for it. It's just what the doctor ordered.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

While summer vacations may still be underway, Globe Aware volunteers planning for a Labor Day Weekend end of the season may want to take new data into account.

The Busiest Travel Days for Labor Day Weekend — and Where Travelers Are Headed

Time to start planning...

By Michael Cappetta
August 9, 2023
Travel + Leisure

While summer vacations may still be underway, travelers planning for a Labor Day Weekend end of the season may want to take new data into account.

The holiday weekend, which traditionally marks the end of the summer travel season, will see travelers explore popular travel hotspots both in the United States and around the world. Friday, Sept. 1 and Monday, Sept. 4 will be the busiest days for airport traffic as flyers jet to and from their destinations around the world, according to new data from Chase Travel shared with Travel + Leisure this week.

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When it comes to popular domestic destinations, Chase found that travelers were mostly looking to big cities including:

  1. New York, New York
  2. San Francisco, California
  3. Los Angeles, California
  4. Seattle, Washington
  5. Chicago, Illinois
  6. Boston, Massachusetts
  7. Denver, Colorado
  8. Washington, DC
  9. Las Vegas, Nevada
  10. San Diego, California

While international destinations spanning from Europe to Asia included:

  1. London, United Kingdom
  2. Rome, Italy
  3. Tokyo, Japan
  4. Paris, France
  5. Athens, Greece
  6. Cancun, Mexico
  7. Calgary, Canada
  8. Seoul, South Korea
  9. Barcelona, Spain
  10. Dublin, Ireland

While many of the cities listed in the rankings are already popular destinations, the data also provides insights on which cities have surged in popularity from last year based on the rise in bookings. For example, Houston, Spokane, and Kansas City are some of the top domestic rising destinations, where Tokyo, Geneva, and Montreal are some of the top rising international destinations.

These predictions also align with data from the TSA in 2022, that reveals the agency screened 8.7 million passengers over Labor Day Weekend, and the Friday of the weekend was the busiest with 2.4 million passengers screened.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure

Latin America and South America are growing in popularity as vacation destinations. This is particularly true among travelers looking for independent and adventurous travel. Globe Aware volunteers will be delighted to learn we have multiple programs in Costa Rica, a destination mentioned on the list!

These Are The 5 Safest Countries To Visit In Latin America Right Now

August 4, 2023
Travel off Path

Latin America and South America are growing in popularity as vacation destinations. This is particularly true among travelers looking for independent and adventurous travel.

The term Latin America is a loose one, but it is generally agreed that it is a term used to describe South America, Central America, Mexico, and many of the islands of the Caribbean. This is a huge area that includes a huge range of vacation destination options.

A new report from Nomad Capitalist used the Global Peace Index to calculate how safe it is to visit Latin America.

This index is published by the Institute for Economics and Peace and looks at the political stability, social unrest, and levels of violent crime in a country.

There are the 5 safest countries to visit in Latin America right now:

Costa Rica

Costa Rica tops the list as Latin America’s safest country.

As well as being a country of outstanding natural beauty Costa Rica boasts a peaceful political environment.

The government in the country is working hard to curb petty crime. They are also committed to taking measures to protect the environmental biodiversity of the country.

For this reason, Costa Rica is often referred to as paradise on earth. Adventure tourism is incredibly popular here. Visitors here can join organized tours, but it is also a safe country to explore independently.

The U.S. government has currently issued a level 2 travel advisory for Costa Rica due to the risk of crime in the country.

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In second place is Uruguay. The country is one of the most politically stable in the region, and its people are renowned for being welcoming to visitors from across the globe.

Its low risk of crime and ease of access means that Uruguay is often recommended as a great first stop for travelers new to exploring Latin America.

Uruguay is known for its beautiful coastline, rich history, and the quality of the beef produced here. It is the second smallest country in South America, but it still packs a punch.

From a political point of view, Uruguay offers its citizens free education, boasts a large middle-class population, and contributes more troops to UN peacekeeping missions than any other nation.

Some areas of the country are safer than others.

The U.S. government advises that crime is most prevalent in the Montevideo, Canelones, and Rivera departments. U.S. citizens should be alert and aware of their surroundings in these locations.


Chile is a country with a difficult past, but the current government is working hard to reduce violent crime and political corruption in the country. That’s why Chile is now considered the third safest country in Latin America.

Tourists are welcome across the country, and the capital city of Santiago is a hub of attractions and amenities for travelers.

Outside of the city, Chile is famous for its stunning natural beauty, which attracts nature and adventure tourists from across the world.

The U.S Government advisory level for Chile is level 2 due to the risk of street crime and demonstrations that periodically happen in the country.


Panama is considered to be one of the most cosmopolitan countries in Latin America. It has a large expat community that adds to its diversity.

The government is strong and stable in the country. This plays a significant role in ensuring that travelers feel safe here.

The most popular location for tourists is the capital Panama City. This is a unique city that balances new with old and modern with traditional. Nature travelers will also find a lot to enjoy in Panama.

Panama has a level 2 travel advisory in place from the U.S. government due to the risk of being a victim of crime in the country.


Argentina is the second largest country in South America and the fifth safest country in Latin America.

One of the first things many people think about Argentina is its passion for soccer. But Argentina also offers its visitors a unique blend of modern cities, a traditional way of life, and breathtaking natural beauty. The country is famous for the quality of its food and wine.

The people of Argentina are friendly and welcoming to visitors. However, because street crime can be an occasional risk, you should be wary if you’re approached by strangers, particularly if you’re traveling alone.

Argentina has the lowest level of advisory from the U.S. government. Travelers to this level 1 country are advised to exercise normal precautions in Argentina.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

Mongolia is a fascinating and culturally-rich region, and perhaps the most difficult destination for Globe Aware volunteers to reach in the wider Asian continent, due to a lack of nonstop routes. There's good news though, soon you’ll be able to fly there without long layovers in the Asia Pacific or the Middle East. Email us at office@globeaware.com to learn more about this program!

Americans Will Soon Be Able To Fly Nonstop To This Fascinating Asian Destination

August 7, 2023
Travel off Path

Central-East Asia is one of the world’s most fascinating and culturally-rich regions, as well as perhaps the most difficult destination for American citizens to reach in the wider Asian continent, both due to a lack of nonstop routes and tourism promotion.

If you’ve been eager to explore the subcontinent, yet the complicated logistics of traveling there have discouraged you, you’ll be happy to learn their leading country will sign an agreement with the U.S., laying the path for the introduction of direct flights for the first time in History.

Soon enough, you’ll be able to fly to the awe-inspiring Mongolia without long layovers in the Asia Pacific or the Middle East:

Mongolia Without Layovers

Mongolia is a massive landlocked country in Central-East Asia, bordered by China to the South and Russia by the North, covering an area of 603,909 square miles, though its population stands at just 3.3 million. As a result, it is one of the world’s most sparsely-populated sovereign states.

Best known for its breathtaking nature, which encompasses vast, mostly unchanged ecosystems, from endless expanses of grassland with majestic snowy highlands as a backdrop, to arid landscapes, it is a natural world destination awaiting discovery.

There is more to Mongolia than merely vast open spaces, though. Perhaps more than any other Asian hotspot, Mongolian culture is central to this country’s appeal.

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A Country of Nomads

Since prehistoric times, it has been inhabited by nomadic peoples, and up to this day, 25% of locals lead a nomadic life.

This means over 750,000 of Mongolians do not have a permanent base anywhere, moving across the national territory along with the seasons. Nomadism is just embedded in the Mongolian psyche, and even in urban centers such as the sprawling Ulaanbaatar, their hospitality reflects that.

Whether you’re staying in the heart of the city or out in the Mongolian Altai Mountains, mostly populated by herders, should you approach a local family while in need of assistance, rest assured you’ll be warmly greeted with a hot meal, inviting smiles, and some good-natured banter.

A Unique Capital City

Previously known as Ulan Bator, it is the capital and largest city in Mongolia and the coldest capital city in the world on average – colder even than Iceland’s Reykjavik – though the low temperatures should definitely not keep you from visiting.

Permanently settled only in the late 18th century, Ulaanbaatar is perhaps Central-East Asia’s most vibrant capital, with vertiginous skyscrapers that rise up to the skies, historic Buddhist shrines scattered across a Soviet-era cityscape, a host of world-class restaurants and stately museums.

As Mongolia’s main point of entry, it is also set to host the inaugural U.S. flights once they launch in 2024, as foreseen by Mongolian Prime Minister L. Oyun-Erden, who recently held talks with Vice-President Kamala Harris.

Nonstop Flights To Ulaanbaatar

No more of those long, unnecessary layovers in other East Asian or Middle Eastern hubs.

As revealed by Mr. Oyun-Erden, the American and Mongolian governments will soon sign an ‘Open Skies’ deal, setting the precedent for the introduction of nonstop flights as early as next year.

As of now, the U.S. has signed similar deals with over 130 countries, mostly in Europe, the Americas, and the Asian Pacific. It allows for the ‘unrestricted capacity and frequency of services, open route flights, a liberal charter regime, and open code-sharing opportunities‘ between the U.S. and invited partners.

Central-East Asia has a poorer track record of aviation safety in general, with regulations that are not on a par with the States’ or Europe’s, often resulting in flight bans and black listing for Central Asia-based airlines, but this agreement serves as a sign to passengers that Mongolia is safe to visit.

Other than the launch of nonstop routes, it certifies that both countries commit to high standards of aviation safety and security, bringing Mongolia in line with America’s aviation regulations.

Though an official start date has not yet been announced, service is ‘planned to commence in 2024’.

Which U.S. Cities Will Host The Nonstop Flights?

So far, we do not know which airports will be used as departure points in the United States nor which airlines will be granted permission to operate on this long-awaited route, though we expect Mongolia’s national carrier, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, to fill the existing gap.

We will be sure to report back as soon as we learn more.

In response to Mongolia’s push for stronger ties to America, Mrs. Harris stated, ‘it is in our vital interest to promote an Indo-Pacific region that is open, interconnected, prosperous, secure and resilient‘.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path
Monday, 14 August 2023 11:13

How to help Maui fire victims

Deadly wildfires on Maui have forced thousands of local residents and visitors to evacuate the area in search of shelter, food, water, and other basic resources. Here's how Globe Aware volunteers can help!

How to help Maui fire victims from afar: Organizations and efforts underway

August 14, 2023
By Kelly McCarthy

Deadly wildfires on Maui have forced thousands of local residents and visitors to evacuate the area in search of shelter, food, water and other basic resources.

As of time of publication, at least 96 people have died from the wildfires that erupted Tuesday on Maui, and much of the historic town of Lahaina has been "destroyed," officials said. A state of emergency has been declared for the whole island and all nonessential travel is being discouraged.

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Organizations accepting donations for Maui fire victims

The Maui Strong Fund

Authorities in Hawaii, including the Office of the Governor of Hawai'i, have encouraged those seeking to help to donate to this fund, which is being organized by the Hawaii Community Foundation.

Donations: Hawai'i Community Foundation, this fund is currently being used to support communities affected by the wildfires on Maui LEARN MORE 

To locate missing loved ones:1-800-RED-CROSS

— Office of the Governor, State of Hawai`i (@GovHawaii) August 10, 2023

"The Maui Strong Fund was created to provide community resilience with resources for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery," the foundation says on its website. "The fund is currently being used to support communities affected by the wildfires on Maui."

The outpouring of support is truly tremendous. Mahalo for all of your kōkua and for spreading the word about the Maui Strong Fund. If you would like to donate, please visit 

— Hawaii Community Foundation (@HCFHawaii) August 10, 2023
Click here to learn how to donate.

Salvation Army - Hawaiian and Pacific Islands Division

The Salvation Army's Kahului Corps has already provided thousands of meals at Maui County and American Red Cross emergency shelters and is expanding across the island, the nonprofit announced in a press release Wednesday.

Click here to donate online.

Maui Mutual Aid Fund

This group of volunteers working to collect money and donations started a "needs list" posted to their social media pages, ABC News Honolulu affiliate KITV reported.

They are accepting donations to help Maui families, people with disabilities, elderly residents and others with limited or no insurance.

"If you have never done mutual aid work or never responded to a disaster and you feel you are called into responding right now, give us a call. We have a volunteer who will walk you through some very basic steps and will get you connected to the network," Nicole Haguenin, a volunteer with Maui Mutual Aid Fund, told KITV.

Click here to find out how to donate.

Aloha United Way

The Honolulu-based nonprofit organization started in 1919, has created a Maui Fire Relief Fund to help fire victims financially.

Click here to donate and learn more.

Maui Food Bank

The food bank took to Instagram Wednesday, writing, "Maui, we stand with you during this emergency. Our hardworking staff is on the ground, making sure those affected get the help they need."

Click here to make an online donation, which the organization said is "the quickest way to make an impact."

The food bank has asked that phone and email requests remain limited, and directed those looking to help to continue checking its website for updates on the latest relief efforts.

Maui County

Maui County officials have also called for nonperishable food, bottled water, hygiene items and blanket donations. Donations can be dropped off at Maui's War Memorial Complex from 8 a.m. through 6 p.m. on Thursday.

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority has urged hotels and vacation rental owners "to consider how they might be able to house Maui residents displaced by the fire."

Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement

The CNHA has partnered with Native Hawaiian and community organizations and businesses to match up to $1,000,000 in donations for ʻohana impacted by the devastating wildfires on Maui.

World Central Kitchen

The nonprofit that provides meals in the wake of natural disasters, founded by chef José Andrés, has its Relief Team delivering food to emergency workers, those in shelters and rural communities on Maui and the Big Island and will continue to identify and fill meal needs. Click here to learn more and donate.

Additional Info

  • Source GMA
Tuesday, 08 August 2023 11:54

Flights from US to Cuba

At the beginning of each month, Cuban airport officials confirm the flight schedules of all companies flying. Globe Aware volunteers looking to still visit Cuba before summer ends can check out these flight options!

Flights from US to Cuba? Here you have all the options for August

August 6, 2023
Nation World News Desk

At the beginning of each month, Cuban airport officials confirm the flight schedules of all companies flying, as of this month of August 2023. As for the connections from the United States, specifically from Miami to Cuba, for defendants, we leave here the flight schedules.

Havana Airport is the airport on the island with the most connectivity to the United States. American Airlines will continue to operate with eight daily flights from Miami, with seven on Saturdays. While Delta Company has two daily flights from Miami International.

North American JetBlue will also continue operating to Havana, with two daily flights from Fort Lauderdale and one on Saturdays from New York. Similarly, Southwest will continue to operate 3 daily flights from Fort Lauderdale. Plus one daily flight from Tampa (2 flights on Saturdays). Finally, in commercial connections, United has daily flights from Houston, Texas, and daily flights from New Jersey.

Charters to Havana are also numerous. From the United States (Miami, Tampa and Fort Myers) they will be as follows: Monday 7 flights. Tuesday 3 flights. Wednesday 4 flights. Thursday 7 flights. Friday the 11th flight. Saturday 5 flights. Sunday 6 flights.

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Flights from the United States to Cuban airports in August
For the rest of Cuba’s airports, there are also many flights from the interior of the country, mostly from Miami, and less often from Tampa, also from South Florida, USA. For example, American Airlines has daily flights to Holguin, Varadero, Camagüey, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba. American flies more frequently, with two daily operations, from Santa Clara to “Abel Santamaria”.

Charters from South Florida to these above-mentioned airports abound. They all have this type of connection, under the seal of Havantour and the respective travel agencies based in that country.

How much are these flights from US to Cuba in August? For example, according to Google Travel, with American Airlines, a one-way ticket costs around US$130 to Havana, US$230 to Varadero, US$211 to Santa Clara and US$211,300 to Camagüey.

Additional Info

  • Source Nation World News Desk

For many of us, including Globe Aware volunteers, the holidays are still a distant memory tucked in the back of our heads. But if you have to fly for Thanksgiving or Christmas, now is the time to start booking. Find out why!

Now is the time to book a flight for Thanksgiving and Christmas: Holiday travel tips from an expert

Holiday travel tips: How to book a flight, when to fly, and more

By Dannielle Beardsley
August 6, 2023
The Manual

We know you’re still working on that beach bod and trying to hit all of the summer hot spots while you can, and the holidays are still a distant memory tucked in the back of your head. But if you have to fly for Thanksgiving or Christmas, your holiday travel plans need to move to the front of your mind as soon as possible.

From knowing when to book those flights home for the holidays before the prices get crazy and the seats get scarce to which days will be the easiest to fly on so no one gets left behind like Kevin McCallister, these are all of the holiday travel tips from expert Phil Dengler, the co-owner of the travel site The Vacationer, to make sure we all have the happiest holidays that don’t end in us crying at the airport.

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When to lock in your final purchase

Knowing which days to look for to fly is helpful, but when should you go ahead and book a flight? As with getting your shopping done, earlier is better. Waiting for the last second, hoping those prices drop to fill seats is not how to play the game.

“The best times to book holiday flights are traditionally in the summer months — June, July, and August,” Dengler explained. This means you should book now. “Limited airplane seats exist for Thanksgiving and Christmas travel, and they tend to fill up quickly. Waiting until the last minute increases your odds of having to pay a premium as well as the possibility of not finding a desirable flight.”

If you don’t want to pay more than your budget allows and not get stressed about not being able to find the day or time you want to fly out, buy the tickets as soon as possible. Dengler says travelers should “aim to get booked by late August and early September.”

“I view Halloween as the cutoff date for getting a reasonable price on a Thanksgiving flight,” he said. “After Halloween, prices will increase considerably as Thanksgiving gets closer. For Christmas flights, you should really book before Thanksgiving, but the best deals are between now and Halloween.”

If you have to cancel the flight, Dengler reminds everyone they have 24 hours to do so. There are stipulations and strings attached, of course, but if you meet the requirements before you buy, it could be a nice safety net.

When to fly out for Thanksgiving

If you are price driven when on the hunt for those plane tickets, when you book matters during the holidays. Those last-minute, price-surged tickets will put a damper on your holiday spirit.

Be more lenient with your departure days

No one wants to miss the actual holiday, but you need to be more fluid with your travel plans if you want a better price.

  • The best days for flying out for Thanksgiving travel are the Monday before, the Tuesday before, and Thanksgiving Day, which is Thursday in 2023.
  • The best days for going back home are Black Friday (you don’t need a fourth TV anyway), the Monday after, and the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

We understand that flying out on Thanksgiving might not be ideal, but if you have a short flight and get a morning time, you could still use your stretchy pants for most of the day.

Skip these days

  • The day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday in 2023) and the Sunday after Thanksgiving are the worst days to try to go anywhere.

Overcrowded airports, sky-high ticket prices, and all of the added stress are all you get trying to navigate your flight on those days.

When to travel for Christmas

“The worst/busiest travel days for Christmas vary each year since it does not always fall on the same day of the week,” Dengler explained. “The goal is to fly as far in advance of Christmas as possible as well as waiting a few days after to fly home.” These are the details for 2023:

Dash through the airport on these days

  • Monday, December 18
  • Tuesday, December 19
  • Wednesday, December 20
  • Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (flights on both days are generally cheap)
  • Thursday, December 28
  • Friday, December 29

The Christmas spirit is not with these days

  • Thursday, December 21
  • Friday, December 22
  • Saturday, December 23
  • Tuesday, December 26
  • Wednesday, December 27

The tips to make holiday flying a little easier

From your wallet to your anxiety level, remember these travel tips to ease the pain of holiday travel, courtesy of Dengler.

You don’t need to marry the airport or the airline

Look at smaller airports and ones that are a little (within 30 minutes to an hour) away from the big ones. These sometimes have the better deal because everyone is only going through the big guys. Dengler says, “Flexibility is the key to finding a great flight deal, and that is especially true for holiday travel.”

Same thing with the airline. Racking up those reward points is nice, but when the ticket price difference is significant, all loyalty goes to the side for savings.

Use Google Flights to search for your ticket

“I recommend Google Flights to find the cheapest holiday flight deals,” Dengler said. “It offers powerful filtering options to find the cheapest prices from a variety of airlines and airports.”

With the exception of Southwest Airlines, Google Flights will compare all major airlines for you, but the extra perk is then you’ll book directly through the airline, which means you get the airline perks and customer service if there’s an issue. “Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) such as Expedia and Priceline sometimes have better flight prices than booking directly with the airline, but there is a drawback,” he explained. “When you book with an OTA, you contact them in the event you need to change or cancel your itinerary. While that is not usually a problem, it is if your flight is delayed or canceled. Every second counts, so I recommend booking directly so you can avoid the middleman.”

Learn to be a packing genius

Dengler noted, “With a record number of travelers expected, baggage drop lines are going to be very long. Additionally, airlines lost and misplaced a lot of bags last year.” The best present is yourself, so either ship those packages ahead or buy them when you get there.

Book an early morning flight

You know which day to book your flight, but do you know what time? “In addition to generally being cheaper, very early morning flights tend to experience fewer delays and cancellations, which is not something you want to deal with during the holidays. Aim for flights at 8 a.m. or earlier if you can swing it,” Dengler said.

Want to go overseas? Thanksgiving is the best time

Dengler says this is the best time to see a new country, since “many countries do not celebrate Thanksgiving, which means you’ll be traveling during a non-holiday period. Many great flight deals are available to hotspots like Italy and France.” And how gorgeous would those places look that time of year?

While relaxing on the beach or at the resort this summer, instead of scrolling through Instagram, scroll through Google Flights for your Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday travel tickets. Get your plans set and those seats booked so there’s one less thing on your seasonal to-do list.

We want you to spend your holidays with family and friends when you want, and within the budget you want, and only cry over the matching Christmas sweaters you and your family get to wear.

Additional Info

  • Source The Manual

For five long years, Japan has been sitting pretty in the No.1 position, which means they have the most global travel freedom in terms of how much visa-free and visa-on-demand access to the world. Globe Aware volunteers may be surprised to find out who has taken up that spot!

The world’s most powerful passport for 2023 revealed

By Maureen O'Hare
July 18, 2023

The jiggling and jostling atop the global passport rankings for 2023 just got a little more interesting.

For five long years, Japan has been sitting pretty in the No.1 position in the Henley Passport Index, which measures global travel freedom in terms of how much visa-free and visa-on-demand access to the world different citizens enjoy.

But for summer 2023, Japan’s been knocked down into third place and the new titleholder is Singapore, whose citizens are able to visit 193 destinations out of 227 around the world visa-free.

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And while Asia has long dominated the top of the leaderboard in the index created by London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners, Europe is bouncing back. Germany, Italy and Spain have all moved up into second place with visa-free access to 190 destinations, while Japan and South Korea are joined in the No.3 slot by Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg and Sweden. Citizens from that particular magnificent seven enjoy access to 189 destinations without needing a prior visa.

The United States and the United Kingdom have both been on a downward trajectory since the halcyon days when they jointly held the No.1 spot way back in 2014, but the UK, at least, appears to be turning things around. It’s made a sprightly two-rankings hop to No.4 in the ranking, a position it’s not held since 2017. The US, meanwhile, has dropped a further two places to eight spot, with access to a mere 183 destinations visa-free.

The Henley Passport Index is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and ranks 199 passports worldwide. It’s updated in real time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.

In its latest release, Henley & Partners notes that over the history of the 18-year-old ranking the average number of destinations travelers are able access visa-free has nearly doubled, from 58 in 2006 to 109.

However, the travel freedom gap between those at the top and the bottom of the ranking is wider than ever. Citizens of Afghanistan are only able to visit 27 destinations without a prior visa, just below Iraq (with 29 destinations) and Syria (with 30).

Cristian H. Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners, notes that Singapore has been busy securing greater travel freedom for its citizens over the past decade, gaining visa-free access to 25 new destinations.

“The UAE has added an impressive 107 destinations to its visa-free score since 2013,” he says. “Of the countries sitting in the Top 10, the US has seen the smallest increase in its score, securing just 12 additional destinations.”

Greg Lindsay, from Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute, says in the Henley & Partners release, “The story is a simple one — by more or less standing still, the US has fallen behind. America’s relentless slide down the rankings is a warning to its neighbor Canada and the rest of the Anglosphere as well.”

Henley & Partner’s list is one of several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports according to the access they provide to their citizens.

Arton Capital’s Passport Index takes into consideration the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories – Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong, Kosovo, the Palestinian territories and the Vatican. Territories annexed to other countries are excluded.

It’s also updated in real time throughout the year, but its data is gathered by close monitoring of individual governments’ portals. It’s a tool “for people who travel, to provide accurate, simple-to-acess information for their travel needs,” Arton Capital’s founder Armand Arton told CNN last year.

Arton’s Global Passport Power Rank 2023 puts the United Arab Emirates in the top spot, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 180.

As for second place, that’s held by 11 countries, most of which are in Europe: Germany, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and South Korea.

The UK is at No.3, alongside Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Ireland and New Zealand. The US and Japan are down in fourth place.

The best passports to hold in 2023 are:

1. Singapore (192 destinations)

2. Germany, Italy, Spain (190 destinations)

3. Austria, Finland, France, Japan, Luxembourg, South Korea, Sweden (189)

4. Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, UK (188 destinations)

5. Belgium, Czech Republic, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland (187 destinations)

6. Australia, Hungary, Poland (186 destinations)

7. Canada, Greece (185 destinations)

8. Lithuania, United States (184 destinations)

9. Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia (183 destinations)

10. Estonia, Iceland (182 destinations)

The worst passports to hold:

Three countries around the world have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 30 or fewer countries. These are:

101. Syria (30 destinations)

102. Iraq (29 destinations)

103. Afghanistan (27 destinations)

Additional Info

  • Source CNN

Travel photography comes in many forms, from visiting bustling tourist hotspots to spending time photographing iconic landscapes. Here are some tips to help Globe Aware volunteers capture precious moments during their volunteer vacation!

5 tips for taking terrific travel photos anywhere

By Alistair Campbell
July 29, 2023
Yahoo! News

Travel photography comes in many forms, from visiting bustling tourist hotspots to spending time photographing iconic landscapes. The genre is closely linked to street photography, with many similarities in its candid style of capturing images – witnessing a brief moment in time as two friends chat outside a coffee shop, for example, or shooting an intriguing local vehicle passing by in the street.

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The trick with travel photography is to always be ready; what may seem like a trivial moment could become an award-winning documentary photo. At the very least, the images from your trips will provide you with visual memories many years down the line, even if you don’t realize it at the time.

When it comes to the equipment you’ll need for shooting on location, you should aim to keep it simple – just one camera and one lens, ideally. I tend to keep my kit light, mainly to avoid having to add extra weight to my suitcase but also so that I’m fully engaged in what I’m shooting (rather than what I’m shooting with).

I don’t like to carry a camera bag when I’m walking around, either – a simple camera strap around the neck or shoulder with a spare battery in my pocket is all I need. It’s personal preference but for me, the optimum focal lengths on a camera with a full-frame sensor are in the 35-85mm range – in fact, I’d argue that one of the best 50mm lenses is perfect.

Here are my five favorite ways to take terrific travel photos anywhere…

1. Just start shooting

It’s rare that I ever choose to go on holiday to the same place twice, so I just start taking photographs – the minute you land, your travel images can begin. This isn’t the time to worry about saving data on your SD card, so make every moment count!

2. Get a feel for the place

Try to gain an understanding of where the locals go and immerse yourself in their culture. Always expose for the brighter parts of the frame – some darker subjects with detail look far better than blown-out highlights dominating the background of your shots. If you aren’t shooting in manual mode, then you can use exposure compensation to be safe.

3. Experiment with shutter speeds

Mingling with a group of local people, I found myself on a commuter bus with hotel workers. I switched to a slower shutter speed of 1/4 sec and allowed the rickety old bus to create a sense of motion in the scene. Using some technical tricks and shooting smart can bring an aspect of storytelling into your images.

4. Get up early

There’s something special about watching a town or city wake up. You will get some time to explore the streets alone and speak to locals. You can glean useful information on places to photograph that are away from the usual tourist spots.

5. Always be ready to shoot

Carry your camera in a way that enables you to start shooting within a few seconds, by wearing it around your neck or on a wrist strap. Leave it turned on, with roughly the right settings dialed in. For example, when going outside, I will reduce the ISO for the brighter conditions. Adjust for your environment in advance so you can always be ready!

Make sure to take the best lenses for travel photography so you're ready for action. You might also want to invest in one of the best action cameras or best waterproof cameras, so you can shoot anywhere. Don't forget to pack one of the best travel adaptors, too, so you can keep your kit charged!

Additional Info

  • Source Yahoo!News

When you’re picking vacation photos to post on social media, there are some you should leave out: any shots of your boarding pass. Here's what Globe Aware travelers should know about the risks of sharing those documents and how they can protect themselves.

Don't do it for the likes: Why travelers shouldn't post their boarding pass online

By Nathan Diller
JULY 24, 2023

When you’re picking vacation photos to post on social media, there are some you should leave out: any shots of your boarding pass.

Outside their primary function at the airport, the documents might seem like nothing more than travel scrapbook fodder, but they can reveal a lot more than flyers may think. “People often think, like, ‘Just this information isn't enough to compromise (me),’ but that's not how the attackers view that information,” said Amir Tarighat, CEO of cybersecurity firm Agency.

Here’s what travelers should know about the risks of sharing those documents and how they can protect themselves.

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Why shouldn’t I post my boarding pass on social media?

Online attackers can take advantage of travelers in a number of ways if they get an image of their boarding pass.

Even if the information on the documents seems limited, Tarighat said bad actors “can very easily bring up the rest of the things they need to know about you from public records, like your date of birth, your address or phone number (or) your email address.” They can even cross reference those with other details available from past data breaches.

“Frequent flyer miles are actually really easy to steal, and they kind of don't have the same protection that banks have,” Tarighat said, adding that travel accounts are commonly sold on the Dark Web.

Hackers may be able to use the information on a boarding pass – such as your rewards account and confirmation numbers – to access your account. Third parties can also remove information via the barcodes on a boarding pass, Tarighat said.

The information on that travel document can also be used to create social engineering attacks, which is “basically tricking people,” he said.

“So you might be an employee of a corporation, and somebody sees that, ‘Oh, this person is traveling,’” he said. “They can use that information in social engineering, phishing and spam emails to other employees who work at the company and say, like, ‘Amir's in Paris this week,’ or whatever, and use that information to get you to do something.” That could include giving them access to a certain account or wiring money.

The information can also create digital breadcrumbs for attackers to follow the traveler’s online connections, which can provide further fodder for attacks.

How can I protect myself?

If your airline rewards account is compromised, Tarighat said, “You’re at the mercy of the airline. You kind of have to ask them to help you.”

Consumers can also report fraud and scams to the Federal Trade Commission.

But Tarighat stressed the importance of having preventative measures in place, such as two-factor authentication on all accounts and strong passwords. Travelers can also use services that scan for personal data online and remove their information from public records sites. While information on the Dark Web can’t be removed, he added, travelers can take steps such as discontinuing the use of a compromised email address or changing their passwords.

“It’s really about just vigilance,” Tarighat said.

Additional Info

  • Source USAToday

Etiquette experts recommend that you always bring cash to tip for the services that help your travel plans go off without a hitch. They say there are six times you should always plan to tip while traveling—and you're probably forgetting at least one. Here's how Globe Awaer volunteers can mind their manners by tipping when they're supposed to.

6 Times You Should Leave a Tip While Traveling, Experts Say


JULY 23, 2023

Whether your travel plans revolve around sun and sand, hitting the ski slopes, or visiting a family member, you're going to need to budget for things like flights, accommodations, activities, meals, and more. Yet far too often, travelers forget to budget for one of the most important aspects of any vacation: All of the people toiling behind the scenes to make those special moments and memories possible.

That's why etiquette experts recommend that you always bring cash to tip for the services that help your travel plans go off without a hitch. In fact, they say there are six times you should always plan to tip while traveling—and you're probably forgetting at least one. Here's how to mind your manners on the road by tipping when you're supposed to.

1 When you take the airport shuttle

You wouldn't think to tip a public bus driver, but the airport economy has different rules. Tipping your airport shuttle driver—even just two to three dollars per ride—is a simple and effective way to show your gratitude, on par with tipping your taxi driver after a short ride.

"These drivers move you around the airport effortlessly and should be rewarded for their efficiency. A tip thanks them for the excellent service," says Jules Hirst, founder and owner of Etiquette Consulting.

2 When you're helped by a porter or skycap

Lugging heavy bags around the airport can be stressful and physically strenuous, which is no way to start a relaxing vacation. Thankfully, there are ways to check your bags upon entry, so you can breeze through the rest of the airport and kick off your journey on the right foot.

However, when you hand off your luggage—especially if you check your gear curbside—it's important to remember to tip your porter or skycap.

"Helping you through check-in and making sure your bags make it to the correct destination are no small feats," says Hirst. "Tipping them for their service and professionalism rewards them for helping you."

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3 When you stay in a hotel

There are few places where tipping is expected more than in a hotel. That's because, from the front desk attendant who fields your calls for more pillows to the housekeeping staff who grace your room with turndown service, there's no shortage of team members on staff working hard to make your stay enjoyable.

"The bellhop should be tipped for hauling your bags to your room. The maids should be tipped for cleaning your room. If you make use of the concierge service, you should tip based on the level of service received," says Hirst.

Jodi RR Smith, founder and owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, says you should also remember to include the room service staff, the valet who parks your car or helps to get a taxi, and anyone else who provides you with a notable service.

4 When you take a taxi or rideshare

When you close your eyes and picture your dream vacation, you may imagine cold drinks on hot beaches, exploring historic sites, or living in the lap of luxury at a serene day spa. While the transportation that shuttles you from one of those transcendent vacation experiences to another is probably the farthest thing from your mind, these are exactly the moments that can make or break the experience by stoking or soothing your stress.

That's why you should always make a point of tipping your driver for ushering you safely from point A to point B—not to mention for doing it in a timely fashion, says Hirst.

5 When you hire a tour guide

Hiring a tour guide is a great way to get an insider experience of any new place you visit. They know the sites, the activities worth trying, and the history of the place—meaning you'll be able to make the most of your vacation. Hirst says that you should always plan on tipping your tour guides for leading the tour and providing a memorable experience.

Unsure how much to budget for? Most experts recommend tipping between 10 and 20 percent of the cost of the tour.

6 When you receive services you tip for at home

When you're in vacation mode, you may have a heightened awareness of all of the travel-related tips you'll need to dole out. Yet Hirst says it's important not to let everyday tipping fall by the wayside as you explore your new surroundings.

"Even though you're traveling, you still need to tip for services that you would normally tip in your day-to-day life," she tells Best Life. "The barista at the coffee shop, the server at the restaurant, and the valet attendant all still need to be tipped while you are traveling. Unless local customs say otherwise, services you tip at home still need to be tipped while traveling."

Smith adds that by researching the tipping culture of any international destination, you can avoid an embarrassing oversight. And remember—though tipping courtesies vary widely from place to place, you're far more likely to offend by forgetting to tip than by tipping when you shouldn't.

Additional Info

  • Source BestLife

Bulgaria and Romania look set to join the Schengen Zone by late 2023, affecting tourist visas and long-term travel. Find out what this means for Globe Aware volunteers looking to travel in Europe before or after their volunteer vacation in Romania.

These 2 Countries Will Join The Schengen Zone Impacting All Travelers And Digital Nomads

July 17, 2023
Travel off Path

The Schengen Zone is Europe’s greatest achievement. A borderless customs union comprising 27 countries in its current form, it allows for seamless international travel across much of the bloc, freeing travelers from undergoing strict identity checks and facing long delays when country-hopping.

Earlier this year, Schengen welcomed yet another member – the Balkan country of Croatia – and it looks set to enlarge further in the near future as the group looks to lift all remaining border checks and bolster internal cooperation.

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It is likely that, by the start of 2024, two new countries will be welcomed to the Schengen family, impacting all non-European travelers – and especially digital nomads – visiting Europe. Here’s why:

Bulgaria And Romania To Become Schengen Members In The Near Future

As adopted in a new resolution published by the European Commission, European Union (EU) member states Bulgaria and Romania fulfill all the necessary criteria to become full Schengen members by the end of 2023.

Though both Balkan countries have joined the European Union as early as 2007, they have remained on a ‘waiting list’ to join Schengen due to concerns relating to unaddressed cross-border crime, illegal migration paths, and security issues.

As the Eastern Balkans guard the EU’s borders to the East, with Bulgaria bordering the Middle Eastern Turkiye and Romania sharing land borders with the non-EU countries of Moldova and Ukraine, there was always some reluctance in accepting their Schengen membership bid.

After all, Schengen countries have no border controls with one another, allowing for the free, unchecked movement of people.

Security Concerns Are Addressed

In Bulgaria and Romania’s case, this could have put Europe’s internal security at risk, as argued by conservative lawmakers, seeing that their geographical location makes them a popular destination for irregular migrants and disadvantaged groups traveling via Turkiye and other poorer European countries.

Though they are full EU members, and Bulgarian and Romanian nationals alike enjoy freedom of movement across the bloc, they have always been subject to passport checks traveling to other countries in the EU and its associated Schengen Area.

EU membership is linked to, but not equivalent to Schengen, as there are EU countries that are not part of Schengen, as well as Schengen countries that are not part of the EU.

Any EU country, however, is legally bound to join Schengen eventually, and after being kept in the fridge for over a decade, the Eastern Balkans may now be ascending to the border-free group after safety measures were taken, and anti-corruption mechanisms enacted.

Schengen Accession Possible By The End Of 2023

According to the European Parliament, Bulgaria and Romania ‘should be in Schengen’ by the end of 2023, as resistance to the idea wanes across member states, and Austria, which previously barred both countries while green-lighting Croatia’s bid, is now under mounting pressure to lift their veto.

In order to ascend to the Schengen Area, aspiring countries must obtain approval from every single Schengen member state, and Austria’s veto last year was the only roadblock on their accession path.

The European Commission states that there are unnecessary delays, ‘bureaucratic difficulties and additional costs associated with these countries’ exclusion from Schengen.

They have also pointed out that border delays when traveling from Bulgaria or Romania to other EU countries can last for many hours, compared to an average ‘10 minutes without internal border checks‘ for intra-Schengen travelers.

Whether it’s late 2023, early 2024, or at some point in the near future, Bulgaria and Romania will join Schengen, but what does this mean for non-European travelers, including Americans, other than smoother international travel?

What Does This Mean For Travelers?

First of all, Americans must know they can only remain in the Schengen Area for 90 days out of any 180-day period. There are currently 27 countries in Schengen, those being:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

For instance, when entering the bloc on January 1, they are allowed to remain until the clock strikes midnight on April 1, totaling 90 days. After the period is up, they must exit Schengen and cannot be re-admitted until 90 days outside the zone have passed.

Alternatively, they can choose to spend non-consecutive periods of time within Schengen, across a 180-day time span.

Entering on January 1, and staying in the bloc until January 31, they would, in theory, have a further 60 days to travel across Schengen until June 30, though exact calculations can be made using the official Schengen calculator.

Either way, they cannot spend longer than 90 days during whichever 6-month time frame at any time, even though these are different countries. For example: spending 30 days in France, then 25 in Italy, 11 in Croatia, 13 in Greece, and a further 11 in Malta, you will have used up your 90-day limit.

Traveling to either Bulgaria or Romania, however, Americans get 90 days individually in each of the countries as tourists, irrespective of time spent in Schengen previously, as these states do not currently participate in the border-free agreement.

Essentially, you can spend 90 days in Schengen, then travel directly to Bulgaria or Romania, staying three months in each, without breaking immigration rules. The same rule applied to Croatia up until January this year, prior to its Schengen accession.

When both states realize their Schengen ambition, however, this will no longer be possible.

Does This Mean Less Time In Europe For Long-Term Travelers?

Once Bulgaria and Romania ascend, Americans traveling long-term, especially digital nomads, will no longer be able to extend their time in Europe legally by using them as Schengen ‘wait zones’.

Currently, one of the community’s favorite hacks for residing in Europe for years on end, without getting on the wrong side of immigration officers or ever applying for one of those complicated resident visas, is alternating time spent in the Schengen states and non-Schengen states.

That way, they can effectively reside in Europe continuously by spending three months in, and three months outside the Schengen Area.

Bulgaria and Romania are popular non-Schengen destinations for digital nomads as they are easy to get to, cheaper to reside in, as they are not yet part of the Eurozone, and the cultural offer is vast.

In fact, Bulgaria now currently hosts one of the largest digital nomad events in the continent, with the small alpine town of Bansko boasting the highest concentration of co-working spaces in the world.

Once Bulgaria – and its neighbor to the North – join Schengen, American nomads and travelers will be subject to Schengen entry and short-stay rules.

Any time spent in other countries like France, Italy, or Spain, will count towards your 3-month visa-free stay in Bulgaria or Romania. This means if you spend 40 days in other Schengen states, you will only have 50 days left to explore the Eastern Balkans.

It is worth noting Schengen accession has not yet taken place, and it probably won’t until early 2024 at the earliest, but it is inevitable at this point, now that the countries have taken all the necessary measures to join and the European Commission has supported their aspiration.

What Are The Alternatives Left For Extending Your Time In Europe?

Is this the end of long-term travel across Europe? Most definitely not.

There are still several European countries that are not yet or do not plan on becoming Schengen members in the future.

Ireland is one of them, having turned down Schengen proposals as early as 2025, controlling its own borders, and drawing up its own immigration rules.

Though Ireland is an EU member, it maintains a borderless zone with the United Kingdom called the Common Travel Area (CTA).

Americans can stay in the CTA, which includes the historic nations of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which form the United Kingdom, the country of Ireland, and other British crown dependencies, such as the Channel Islands, for 180 days regardless of time spent in any other European country.

The Eastern Mediterranean country of Cyprus is also an EU member sitting outside of Schengen for now due to unresolved border disputes with Turkiye.

In the Balkan Peninsula, there are also numerous options left for you to extend your European trip beyond Schengen’s restrictive 3 months.

These are all the non-Schengen, as well as non-EU Balkan countries, welcoming tourists for 90 days each:

  • Serbia, the only Balkan state to host nonstop flights from the U.S. and a severely underrated cultural destination
  • Albania, the Mediterranean’s new rising star, home to the ‘Maldives’ of Europe
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina, where locals are eager to welcome tourists, and the sweeping natural panoramas will take your breath away
  • Montenegro, the pearl of the Adriatic, dotted with ancient coastal ports, cobblestone towns, and famous for its rugged nature and turquoise waters
  • North Macedonia, a landlocked country with a fascinating History, best known for its landmark Lake Ohrid
  • Kosovo, Europe’s youngest, partially-recognized country, where overtourism is not yet an issue and consumer prices are much lower

Beyond the Balkans, other non-Schengen European countries include Moldova and Ukraine, though the latter is currently off-limits to most tourists due to the war, and Belarus and Russia, two unfriendly states you probably will not visit anytime soon.

Additionally, in the wider Eurasia, we have Turkiye and Georgia.

Albania and Georgia are the most generous out of any non-Schengen country, as they allow American citizens to remain in the national territory for an entire year.

Albania’s one-year rule applies only to Americans. Georgia’s one-year rule applies to all nationalities.

The Future Of Travel In Europe

As you can see, Bulgaria and Romania’s looming Schengen accession is hardly the end of the world for digital nomads, as there are still numerous incredible countries in the vicinity worth exploring as you wait to be re-admitted into Schengen, but there’s no denying the Eastern Balkans will lose some of their appeal among long-term travelers once included in the border-free zone.

Overstaying your time in Schengen can result in hefty fines, entry bans of five years or longer, and/or criminal prosecution.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

What exactly is “skip-lagging”, and why is it landing travelers in such hot water? Globe Aware volunteers can find out why they should avoid this hack.

This Travel Hack Continues To Get Travelers In Trouble With Airlines

July 14, 2023
Travel off Path

Earlier this week, an American teenager was allegedly detained by American Airlines gate agents at Gainesville Regional Airport in Florida.

It was Logan Parson’s first time flying alone. He hadn’t broken any laws and didn’t realize he had done anything wrong.

So why did this U.S. minor end up in a back room of an airport for questioning, as his father told Queen City News?

Hunter Parsons had purchased his son’s flight on Skiplagged.com, a popular low-fare website making headlines for its questionable practices.

Logan’s ticket was from Gainesville to New York with a connection in Charlotte, where the teen planned to exit the airport without boarding his connection – a travel hack commonly known as ‘skiplagging.’

Like many travelers, the Parsons had no idea this was forbidden by the airline.

So what is skiplagging, and why is it landing travelers in such hot water?

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What Is Skiplagging?

Skiplagging is a risky travel hack that saves travelers money by using a layover as their final destination.

Passengers buy a cheaper flight to a major airport with a connection in their desired city. Then, they just leave the connecting airport without boarding the next flight.

Skiplagging has been around for a decade but really exploded in popularity over the past two years. It’s also known as hidden city ticketing.

Say you’re traveling from Dallas to Miami in six weeks. You could pay $220 to fly directly on American Airlines. Or, you could pay $115 to skiplag on an AA flight with onward service to Atlanta.

It’s easy to see the appeal. Simply using your layover as your final destination would save you nearly half the fare.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, kind of.

Is It Legal?

Yes. Skiplagging is legal.

Hidden City ticketing does not currently violate any federal or state laws in the U.S., Canada, or the E.U.

Lufthansa failed in an attempt to sue a skiplagging passenger who saved over $2,000 on his fare in 2019. United Airlines similarly lost its case against Skiplagged.com in 2015.

The law is on the passenger’s side here – for now.

But this is actually part of the confusion. Since skiplagging is legal, many passengers are surprised when they get slapped with serious consequences.

So What’s The Problem?

While skiplagging isn’t against the law, it is against airline policy.

You know that terms and conditions box you have to check to buy a plane ticket? By ticking that box, you’re agreeing to pages of fine print that we all definitely read carefully every time.

These “Conditions of Carriage” include a warning that hidden city ticketing can get you kicked off your flight, charged additional fees, or banned from the airline.

Breaking an airline’s rules about where and how to buy your ticket may seem like a tiny technicality, compared to more serious policies like wearing your seatbelt or following flight crew instructions. But violating the hidden city ticketing policy can get you in serious hot water.

What Can Airlines Do About It?

Skiplagging cuts into profits in an industry well-known (and hated) for its corporate greed.

Despite being on course for a record-breaking $803 billion in revenue this year, airlines are cracking down on everyday travelers finding their savings in hidden city fares.

Possible consequences vary by airline and country, but some airlines can:

  • Cancel your current ticket and any return flights without refund
  • Cancel booked future travel with the airline
  • Delete your frequent flier account (wiping out your reward miles)
  • Charge you the difference between a skiplagged fare and same-day direct fare
  • Report you to collections agencies for unpaid additional fees from skiplagging caught after the fact
  • Ban you from flying with the airline, either for a few years or permanently
  • American Airlines canceled his ticket on the spot and banned him from flying with the airline for 3 years.

While he was stranded in another state and being interrogated about a skiplagged ticket that he hadn’t even purchased, his parents had to buy a pricey same-day replacement fare to get him home.

If these are consequences airlines impose on an unsuspecting minor, they’re probably not going to be any more lenient with the average traveler.

Is It Worth The Risk?

Plenty of skiplaggers think these kinds of consequences don’t apply to them. “How could the airline possibly know? I’m not going to get caught.”

Travelers who have missed connections at least once before, especially on both legs of a round-trip journey, are likely to be stopped and questioned. Having a listed home address in the connecting destination, either on your ticket or on your photo ID, will also raise red flags.

But even first-time skiplaggers are at risk for a potentially expensive and inconvenient travel fiasco with long-term consequences.

Airline industry analyst Henry Harteveldt recently advised ABC News that “skiplagging is a very risky bet… I’m just not sure that the savings are worth the risk, even with the high airfares we’re seeing right now.”

Skiplagged.com recently added this disclaimer to their website: “Airlines don’t like when you miss flights to save money, so don’t do this often.”

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

People are making up for lost time after the pandemic, experts said. They’re flooding popular destinations but leaving their manners at home. Globe Aware volunteers can learn on what to avoid in order to be a better tourist. 

By Christopher Elliott
July 7 2023

My son sat next to the world’s worst tourist on a flight from Sydney to Denpasar, Indonesia. His seatmate nursed a bottle of sizzurp – a potent mix of codeine and Sprite – and the man twitched uncontrollably for the seven-hour flight to Bali, Indonesia.

When the intoxicated tourist disembarked on the conservative Hindu island, he collapsed on the terminal floor. The last time we saw him, customs officials were trying in vain to revive him from an opiate-induced stupor.

Interestingly, Bali has been attracting a lot of bad tourists lately. Earlier this summer, a German visitor defiled a temple by roaming through it without a stitch of clothes. A Russian tourist took pictures of himself seminude on a sacred mountaintop. Indonesians were so incensed that they banned hiking in that area.

It’s not just happening in Indonesia. Bad tourists are everywhere. They’re carving their initials into the Colosseum in Rome. And it gets worse – much worse. Last month, German officials arrested an American tourist after he allegedly pushed two women down a slope near Neuschwanstein Castle, killing one of them.

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Tourists are leaving their manners at home

What’s going on? People are making up for lost time after the pandemic, experts said. They’re flooding popular destinations but leaving their manners at home.

“And that’s resulting in disruptive or disrespectful tourist behaviors,” said Carla Bevins, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.

Wait, hasn’t this always been a problem? Yes, but not to this extent.

“It’s gotten worse since the pandemic,” said Joel Wesseldyke, a travel adviser with JJ Travel Associates. “I think people became more entitled because the expectations changed so drastically. People felt comfortable making demands, and getting exactly what they wanted, without regard for other people.”

What’s a bad tourist?

You’d think most parents would have taught their children about good behavior, but some tourists evidently missed that class. Here’s a refresher:

◾ They’re disruptive: Many tourists do not respect the customs of the place they are visiting, and they are not mindful of the environment. “They’re loud in public areas and leave trash behind,” said Pradeep Guragain, who co-founded a travel planning site about Nepal. I see it every evening in Canggu, Indonesia, as tourists trample on the incense and offerings left at the many temples.

◾ They’re entitled: Jodi RR Smith, an etiquette consultant, says people feel “more entitled” to the vacation they want, no matter the consequences or the cost. They make outrageous demands and they ignore local customs and norms. They also don’t seem to care how their actions affect those around them.

◾ They disrespect their hosts: The worst tourist behavior Laura Lynch ever witnessed was a tourist carving his initials into Cambodia’s historic Angkor Wat temples. (There’s a theme here – bad tourists like to carve their names on national treasures.) “It was an appalling sight, underlining a careless approach toward the travel destination,” said Lynch, who edits a site about traveling in California. Thumbing your nose at your hosts isn’t just bad manners. It can get you arrested, imprisoned and expelled.

News flash: You may be a bad tourist

If you think you might be a bad tourist, you probably are. And yes, I’m including myself. I’ve been traveling full time since 2017, and the more I consider these behaviors, the more I realize I’m part of the problem.

I’m not carving my initials into the side of monuments or pushing fellow tourists off cliffs, but I’m also not being respectful of local customs.

For example, I didn’t research Indonesia sufficiently before I got there. I didn’t know the first thing about Balinese customs, and I may have even tripped over one of the temple offerings on my way to the beach.

By the way, I asked a Balinese hotelier what happened to tourists who step on the temple offerings. She said it depends on your intention. If you meant to crush the incense underfoot, bad karma. If you don’t, you are forgiven.

Still, I didn’t even learn the two most important words in Balinese – please and thank you.

How to be a better tourist

Can you improve your tourism etiquette? You bet.

◾ Do your homework. Learn about your destination and its norms and customs before you visit. Also, learn some basic phrases in the local language. At a bare minimum, learn how to say “thank you.” Even if locals know your native language, saying “thank you “ in their language is a sign of respect. “Take the time to learn about local customs and environmental practices before you embark on your journey,” said Michael Donovan, who edits a site about travel to New England.

◾ Remember that you’re a guest. Whether you’re visiting a state park or flying halfway around the world, don’t forget that you are a visitor. Be respectful of local values and customs. And please leave the caps and T-shirts with political slogans at home. “Religious or provocative imagery, curse words, profanity, sports teams, political brands and national flags are all potentially offensive,” said Harding Bush, a senior manager for security operations at Global Rescue.

◾ Listen, don’t speak. Travel is a terrific opportunity to learn about a new place. Don’t blow it by talking about yourself. And really, no one is interested in how a place you’re visiting compares to where you’re from. “If you constantly compare your host country to home, forgetting to savor the unique beauty and customs of where you are, that’s a big red flag,” said Mal Hellyer, a photographer and travel blogger.

Reality check: The bad tourists don’t care

It’s a safe bet that only the good tourists – or the ones who want to be better tourists – have made it this far in this story. The others stopped scrolling after the story about the comatose passenger.

So, I can confidently make this prediction: The future will be filled with more incidents of reckless tourists defacing national treasures, passing out on terminal floors and even pushing each other off cliffs.And to you, bad tourists, I have only one thing to say: Thank you. You’ve given this travel columnist so much material for future stories. But you have also inspired me to become a better tourist. Actually, you’ve inspired all of us.


Additional Info

  • Source USAToday

Well, this is no surprise! Once again Mexico continues to soar in popularity, easily claiming the spot of the most-visited country among Americans. Globe Aware volunteers won’t be surprised to see this volunteer vacation destination named as the safest again in 2023!

July 9, 2023
Travel off Path

Amid the surge in demand for international travel, Mexico continues to soar in popularity, easily claiming the spot of the most-visited country among Americans.

Despite their love for Mexico, with its laid-back atmosphere, and incredible culture, one of the things that persists at the back of U.S. vacationers’ minds is safety. After all, Mexico is repeatedly portrayed in the media as a place where crime occurs regularly and gang activity is rampant.

Most of these claims are unfounded, as anyone who has been South of the border will know, but there are regions in Mexico where more caution is urged, like any other country, and where we could argue tourism should be discouraged.

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Luckily, there are other parts where safety risks are minimal, and tourists are welcome to a stress-free holiday. That is the case with the lesser-known Yucatan, the safest state in Mexico and also one of its most beautiful:

The Safest State In Mexico

Not to be mistaken for the Yucatan Peninsula, of which it is a part of, the Yucatan state has been named the safest tourist destination in Mexico by U.S. authorities.

According to the State Department, it is one of only two Mexican states to be issued a Level 1 status.

If you’re used to following State Department updates, you will know this is the best status a destination can strive for, as it essentially means safety levels are high and normal precautions apply.

Understanding U.S. Travel Advisories

For example, some of the world’s safest and most stable countries have been added to the Level 1 listing, including Iceland and Finland, where crime and violence rates are remarkably low.

Level 2 applies to countries or territories where criminal activity may take place or disruption can occur, be it protests or terrorism, and more caution is necessary, though travel is not discouraged as the risks are not significant.

At Level 3, however, travel should be ‘reconsidered’, either due to security issues – read on Colombia – or major civil unrest, the case recently with Peru. Level 4 is reserved for no-go countries where threat to life is significant, such as countries at war (Russia and Ukraine) or unfriendly states like North Korea.

Mexico is such a popular destination for Americans going on vacation that U.S. authorities issue individual warnings from each Mexican state or territory individually, so while the country is, on average, within Level 2, Yucatan is one of two of the safest states.

The only other state to be added to Level 1 is Campeche, also in the Yucatan Peninsula.

One Of The Most Beautiful Yet Lesser-Known Parts Of Mexico

Yucatan is located at the Northernmost tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, and it has a rich history pre-dating the arrival of the Spanish colonizers.

Like much of the wider Mayan World, the region held great importance within Mayan civilization as the location of several important city-states and smaller settlements.

The legendary Chichen Itza, once one of the most powerful Mayan cities and now a world-renowned archaeological site, can be found within the state’s boundaries.

After the European conquest, Yucatan underwent severe changes, especially concerning its cultural and social development. The Spaniards brought their colonial architecture, razed Mayan villages to the ground, and either decimated or forced the native populace to assimilate.

As a result of colonization, Yucatan’s culture is now an amalgamation of Mayan and Spanish influences. It is a territory where you’re as likely to find European-style towns that wouldn’t look out of place in Spain and far older Mayan temples shrouded in myth.

An Exciting State Capital

The capital is Merida, a typical colonial gem built atop the ashes of the ruined Mayan Ti’ho in the early 16th century.

A big, vibrant city, Merida has been described in a United Nations report as the best place to live in Mexico based on social markers such as the human development index and urban safety and as a regional center for the culture, having been named North America’s Capital of Culture twice.

Its historical center is said to be the third largest in the American continent, and the landmark Cathedral of Merida, built from disassembled stones of Ti’ho, is one of the oldest in the Americas, completed in 1598.

Merida has enough attractions to fill up an entire article or week-long itinerary, but you will want to head out of the city to experience the true magic of Yucatan.

Unspoiled Beaches And Nature

Straddling the Gulf of Mexico, the state is jam-packed with gorgeous beach zones, such as Progreso, an up-and-coming resort town with a more ‘chill’ vibe compared to Tulum in Quintana Roo.

The beaches here are spotless, and the sea is crystal-clear, and if you’re lucky enough, you might be able to spot a flamboyance of flamingos as they feed on the shallow waters.

El Cuyo is another popular swimming spot within short driving distance of Merida and a small fishing village yet to be tarnished by overdevelopment, hosting a select number of luxury boutique hotels and guest stays.

Further inland, there are numerous cenotes and other Mayan-era underground complexes awaiting discovery, as well as historical ruins that will keep the History buff in you appeased.

Mayan Ruins And Colonial Treasures

Other than, of course, Chichen Itza, there are incredible, not-as-popular ruins to be visited in Ek’ Balam, in the Northern Mayan lowlands, and Uxmal, famous for its unique, rounded Pyramid of the Magician.

The state is also the proud home of four Magical Towns, as defined by Mexican Tourism authorities. These are the ‘Yellow City’ of Izamal, Valladolid, Sisal, and Mani.

The title is awarded to destinations known to have contributed massively to Mexican nationhood through their culture or historical relevance, reasserting Yucatan’s prestige as a cultural hotspot.

Taking these amazing attributes into account, it’s not hard to see why it’s considered one of the prettiest areas of Mexico.

How To Get To Yucatan

Merida has an international airport hosting flights operating from the following airlines departing from these U.S. hubs:

American Airlines
Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami

United Airlines

Soon enough, visitors to the Yucatan Peninsula will enjoy nonstop train links to Merida, and other tourist destinations in the Yucatan State from Cancun and Cancun Airport, upon the launch of the highly-anticipated Maya Train this December.

The new tourist train, Mexico’s largest infrastructure project in years, is set to improve connectivity across the Yucatan Peninsula and its three states and bring tourists closer to smaller destinations where international flights are not as frequent.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path
Tuesday, 04 July 2023 11:07

Here's how to get a second US passport

Although it’s not widely publicized, it is possible to have two U.S. passports. However, not everyone qualifies, and the perk of a second passport is limited to pretty specific situations. Globe Aware volunteers can read to find out how they can quality for one.

You might be able to get a 2nd US passport — here's how

June 27, 2023
Ashley Kosciolek
The Points Guy

Although it’s not widely publicized, it is possible to have two U.S. passports. However, not everyone qualifies, and the perk of a second passport is limited to pretty specific situations.

You can only get a second U.S. passport if:

  • You have stamps in your passport that could result in denied entry to another country (e.g., an Israeli stamp in some countries).
  • You have more than one international trip coming up, and you need to get visas, meaning your current passport will be out of your possession for some time.
  • You can prove your job requires you to travel frequently. Flight attendants, pilots and journalists covering foreign news, for example, likely qualify for a second passport.

There are two ways to apply for a second passport, depending on your circumstances. Here's what you'll need in each scenario.

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Request a 2nd passport by submitting your current passport

Use this method if you are applying because of the first reason above and do not need your current passport for international travel within the time it will take for a second passport to be processed.

What you'll need

  • Two passport photos that are distinctly different from those in your first passport
  • Your original passport
  • Completed DS-82 passport form (the same form you’d use to renew)
  • $130 application fee. Add $60 if you'd like it expedited and another $19.53 if you want one- or two-day shipping. (Note that you cannot pay these fees by credit or debit card. Payment options include personal, certified or cashier's checks, as well as money orders, made out to "U.S. Department of State." The application fee and any of the above add-ons should be tallied and paid with a single check or money order.)
  • A letter clearly explaining why you need a second passport. You can find a sample statement on this page under the second section.
  • Proof of reason why you need the second passport (e.g., copies of your flight itineraries or the problematic passport stamp)

Request a 2nd passport if you can't send in your current passport

Use this method if you qualify under the second or third reason above. This is the way to go if you don't have your passport in your possession due to mailing it in for required visas or if you have near-constant international travel scheduled and, therefore, can't part with your current passport long enough to mail it in. You can also take this route if you qualify under the first reason but have several upcoming international trips scheduled.

What you'll need

  • Two passport photos that are distinctly different from those in your first passport
  • Your original birth certificate or other proof of citizenship, such as a consular report of birth abroad or a certificate of naturalization or citizenship (which you will need to mail in with your application)
  • Completed DS-11 passport form (the same form you’d use if you were applying for your very first passport or for a new one if your last one expired more than 15 years ago)
  • An in-person appointment at a passport acceptance facility. (These are most often post offices, but certain clerks of court offices and libraries can also accept applications.) You can find one here and make an appointment here.
  • $130 application fee. Add $60 if you'd like it expedited and another $19.53 if you want one- or two-day shipping. (Note that you cannot pay this fee by credit or debit card. Payment options include personal, certified or cashier's checks, as well as money orders, made out to "U.S. Department of State." The application fee and any of the above add-ons should be tallied and paid with a single check or money order.)
  • Acceptance facility processing fee of $35, payable by credit or debit card, or with a money order or personal check made out to "Postmaster"
  • A letter clearly explaining why you need a second passport. You can find a sample statement on this page under the second section.
  • Proof of reason you need the second passport (e.g., copies of your flight itineraries or the problematic passport stamp)
  • Another form of government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license, to verify your identity at the time of application submission

Tips for getting and using a 2nd passport

As with the standard passport renewal process, travelers can apply for a second passport at an appointment-only passport agency -- assuming they can even get through to make an appointment in the first place. (It can only be done over the phone.) However, this method can only be utilized when the second passport needs to be expedited (think: same-day service). For this, you will also need another form of government-issued ID, such as a driver's license, to verify your identity on the day of your appointment.

Remember that there’s no guarantee you’ll get a second passport; your application could be denied. If that happens, you won't receive a refund for the fees, so make sure to include sufficient documentation to make your case. If approved, your second passport will only be valid for four years, unlike a regular full-validity passport, which is good for 10 years. Your second passport will also have a different number from your original passport, and it cannot be renewed.

If you have Global Entry linked to your primary passport, you can change it to link it to your second passport in your Trusted Traveler account. Log in, then navigate to the "Update Documents" section to replace your primary passport information with the details for your secondary passport. Keep in mind that if you travel again later using your primary passport, you’ll have to change your passport information back. If you’d like to have both passports saved in your account, you’ll need to visit a Global Entry enrollment center for assistance.


Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy

Costa Rica received a score of 100 out of 100 in this regard, while taking into account the opinions of accommodations, restaurants, activities, and attractions offered to travelers. A Globe Aware volunteer vacation week in Costa Rica is also perfect for families with small children.

Costa Rica aspires as the best destination for small children

June 6, 2023
Travel and Tour

To go on vacation with young children in Costa Rica is one of the best decisions made. This was announced by British Airways after analyzing 200,000 reviews published.

Costa Rica received a score of 100 out of 100 in this regard, while taking into account the opinions of accommodations, restaurants, activities, and attractions offered to tourists.

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The area where you can spend the best night, as rated by people, is San Jose, which obtained 90% of opinions with 5 stars for the best hotels. Below the Costa Rican capital are Zanzibar, Tanzania (86.80%), and the Maldives (82.40%).

According to the analysis, tourists also thought that Josefino restaurants have a lot to offer, from traditional Latin American foods to Asian fusions.

In terms of activities and attractions to enjoy with the family, once again the capital obtained the highest score, with 89%. The Children’s Museum is one of the places most recognized by parents, for having 40 unique exhibitions.

Another aspect that stood out is the climate of the city and the pedestrian streets, which have made it easier for families to move when they go out for a walk.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel and Tour World

Jaipur, the “Pink City”, is characterized as the first planned city of India, which is in thanks to the city’s founder Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, a scholarly prince who was passionate about astronomy, mathematics and science. Globe Aware volunteers will be surprised to learn how every detail was considered before laying the foundation stone, from the orientation of gates to the manuscript scrawled above each shop.

Building Jaipur: An astronomer prince’s vision of perfection

By Kate Springer
March 12, 2019

The city of Jaipur, about an hour’s flight southwest of Delhi, is best known as the “Pink City” – so called for its salmon-hued buildings.

But a walk through the Old City will surprise travelers who might be expecting to find a labyrinth of roads and lanes like those in Old Delhi or Jodhpur.

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Established in 1727, Jaipur was the first “planned” city in India.

Every tiny detail was considered before laying the foundation stone, from the orientation of gates to the manuscript scrawled above each shop.

The precision can be traced to the city’s founder Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II, a scholarly prince who was passionate about astronomy, mathematics and science.

“He wanted the city to be prosperous and safe, with a peaceful environment and a place for everything,” says Pankaj Sharma, former chief curator at the City Palace Museum in Jaipur.

“At the time, other cities were just going on and on, expanding in all directions with no plan. But due to the surrounding mountains (to the north and east), he didn’t have scope for expansion. He had to be very smart about how to engineer his city.”

Back in the 1700s, during the Mughal empire, Amber City – set in the mountains near Jaipur – served as the capital and royal residence.

But Amber’s ongoing droughts led the rulers to scout for a new plot of land with a plan to move their capital city.

That’s where Jaipur came in.

Though it was unconventional at the time to build on flat terrain, the area was strategic on many levels.

First, the surrounding mountains would provide both protection and water.

In addition, the location would be more accessible for lucrative trade and commerce.

To develop a plan, Jai Singh studied European cities, collected maps from all over the world and enlisted esteemed Indian architect Vidyadhar Bhattacharya as the chief planner.

The pair developed a strict blueprint for Jaipur and based the city’s grid-like design on Vastu Shastra – an ancient Hindu architectural doctrine.

Principles of Vastu Shastra
Meaning “science of architecture” the principles aim to meld architecture and nature, as well as incorporate ancient patterns, sunlight and symmetry.

While there are no rigid codes to adhere to, the concept usually calls for sites to be divided into square grids, called “mandalas,” for organization.

“We have a complete manuscript (in Sanskrit) on the ‘science of architecture’ – Vastu Shastra,” says Sharma.

“If you follow the principles of Vastu Shastra, there is a place for each and every thing – a place for water, temples, homes, everything.”

When arriving in Jaipur’s Old City, you’ll immediately feel a sense of calm despite the year-round crowds.

That’s partly because it’s extremely easy to navigate: Jai Singh divided the city into nine squares – symbolizing nine planets.

Fortified by 20-foot-high walls, each block contains a grid of streets marked by cardinal direction. The main streets measure 110 feet in length, while smaller market streets are 55 feet long, according to UNESCO.

He earmarked two squares in the north for the palace, while the other seven were used for organized clusters of government buildings, homes, shops and temples.

There are seven gates, most of which are named after a celestial body – the “Sun” gate faces East, while the “Moon” gate faces west.

Known as Dhruv Pol (north gate), the most important gate faces the ancestral capital of Amber City.

“Sawai Jai Singh was a great astronomer, so he made decisions based on the celestial bodies,” says Sharma.

“For example, he believed all of the temples should be constructed facing the north, and all entrances should be to the east.”

Bhattacharya, head of the building department, was also in charge of ensuring that each house and shop appeared uniform, from floor plans to calligraphy to white floral motifs on the walls.

“At the time, the building department took care of the painting, carpentry, masonry – they took care of all the details, so it was always consistent,” says Sharma.

“For each and every building, they actually had a very detailed plan on how it should be built, the height, the depth … everything. Every plan was based on the grid, so the laborers could follow the instructions easily.”

As for the salmon-pink paint? Sharma says the original color was already a pinkish shade, because buildings were constructed with white limestone and Indian red brick powder.

Looking to welcome the Prince of Wales in 1876 – Jaipur was a British protectorate – the then ruler of Jaipur, Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, re-painted the entire city terracotta pink. The color is meant to symbolize hospitality and also mollify the glaring sunlight.

“After the Prince came to visit, Sawai Ram Singh II passed an order to all shopkeepers and households to maintain the now famous pink color,” says Sharma. “The tradition continues to this day.”

Travelers can also witness Jai Singh’s attention to detail and passion for science at one of the city’s most popular landmarks: Jantar Mantar.

One of five observatories across India built by the astronomer prince, this UNESCO-listed site was established in the early 18th century.

It remains the best-preserved ancient observatory in India, home to more than a dozen working astronomical instruments – all made with beautiful local marble – designed to track constellations, time and horoscopes.

“You will find highly precise calculations that still work after hundreds of years,” says Sharma.

“Using the instruments, you can calculate the time, position of the sun and moon, wind direction, astronomical signs and even forecast rain.”

Impossible to miss is the towering Samrat Yantra. Also known as “The Supreme Instrument,” the beautiful white marble piece features a 90-foot stairwell that seems to climb toward the heavens.

It’s one of the world’s largest sundials and, still today, is accurate within two seconds.

Another star is the immense Jai Prakash Yantra, which consists of two inverted domes set into the ground.

Like a road map to the stars, each showcases a celestial hemisphere and measures the rotation of the sun.


Additional Info

  • Source CNN

With less than one week to go until the Fourth of July holiday weekend, here's what you need to know before hitting the highway or heading to the airport. Here are some tips for our Globe Aware volunteers before they head to the airport!

Fourth of July travel forecast: What to know before hitting the road or heading to the airport

About 43.2 million people are expected to hit the road for the July 4th holiday.

By Emily Shapiro and Amanda Maile
June 26, 2023, 6:33 AM

With less than one week to go until the Fourth of July holiday weekend, here's what you need to know before hitting the highway or heading to the airport.

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The roads

About 43.2 million people are expected to hit the road for the July 4th holiday -- up 2.4% from 2022 and up 4% from 2019, according to AAA.

The quietest days to travel by car are anticipated to be Sunday, July 2, and Monday, July 3, according to transportation analytics company INRIX.

MORE: Extreme heat safety tips: What to know about heat stroke vs. heat exhaustion

If you're heading for the highway on Friday, June 30, the worst traffic is forecast to be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to INRIX.

If you're driving home on Wednesday, July 5, the worst traffic may hit from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Rental cars are averaging $47 per day, down 25% from the same time last year, according to Hopper.

The skies

More than 24 million are expected to fly out of U.S. airports from June 29 to July 5, with June 29 and June 30 expected to be the busiest travel days, according to Hopper.

But flight prices are dropping. Hopper said domestic tickets are more than $100 cheaper than they were last year.

American Airlines said it expects to fly nearly 3 million passengers from June 30 to July 4, with July 2 as its busiest day.

United Airlines said it's planning to carry nearly 5 million passengers from June 30 to July 9, with June 30 as its busiest day.

United said its bookings are up 12% from 2022 and are now "nearly equal" to pre-pandemic levels.

The most popular U.S. destinations for the holiday are New York City, Los Angeles and Orlando, Florida, according to Expedia.

The most crowded airports are anticipated to be Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport, according to Hopper.


Additional Info

  • Source ABC World News Tonight

Globe Aware volunteer vacations are a fantastic opportunity that allows you to make an impact in one week abroad! An avid traveler and volunteer explains her five reasons why she believes volunteering abroad is the best way to travel.

Marquita Payne Offers 5 Reasons Why Volunteering Abroad Is the Best Way to Travel

By Marquita Payne
May 1, 2020

Avid traveler and volunteer Marquita Payne Explains 5 Reasons Why She Believes Volunteering Abroad is the Best Way to Travel.

CHICAGO, IL / ACCESSWIRE / APRIL 21, 2020 / Traveling is an activity that can enrich the mind, body, and soul. Avid traveler and volunteer Marquita Payne are constantly expressing how traveling can encourage a broader worldview, and ultimately, improve gratitude for what we all have here at home. Marquita Payne recently offered the five major benefits of volunteering abroad that she has learned and experienced first-hand in her lifetime.

"The No. 1, most important part of volunteering abroad, to me, is that we develop a new perspective on other countries, cultures, the world as a whole, and our home lives," Marquita Payne Chicago said. "Volunteering abroad has completely eliminated my desire to 'keep up with the Joneses,' because I am now so appreciative of absolutely everything I have."

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Marquita Payne explains that volunteering abroad has helped her understand how people can be happy with so much less than she has. This, she says, has given her a greater appreciation for everything she once took for granted.

Marquita Payne explained that another major benefit of volunteering abroad is the unforgettable people she has met along the way. She described that many of her friends are someone she met while volunteering. Despite that they all come from different cities and countries, they maintain a bond from volunteering that is stronger than other friendship bonds.

"I can't even put into words the enjoyment I get from volunteering abroad," Marquita Payne said. "It's a feeling of happiness that simply can't be found in any other way."

Marquita Payne explained that volunteering provides a major mood boost from being part of something larger that has a true impact on individuals and the communities in which they live. She explains that she reaps the benefits of giving back as well as the personal gratification of helping those who so deeply need a little extra aid.

"While I don't volunteer for the purpose of boosting my career, I've noticed it has had some major positive effects on my professional life," Marquita Payne said. "I've noticed that my history of volunteer work has given me the upper edge when applying for jobs or striving for promotions."

It's true that many employers view those with a solid volunteer history as someone who exemplifies they want their company to be seen. Many employers appreciate a person's drive to give back, selflessness, creativity, and work ethic.

"If there's one thing I can push for travelers to do more of in 2020, it's to perform at least one volunteer activity in every travel destination they reach," Marquita Payne finished.

Additional Info

  • Source yahoo! finance

We are excited to announce that our latest program in Tanzania has been included in the list, which also features Globe Aware volunteer vacations in Ghana and Malawi. Take a look at the list for more details and discover the opportunities available!

10 Safest Countries in AFRICA to Visit in 2023

APRIL 20, 2023

The very thought of traveling to Africa has a connotation of adventure & culture attached to it. The plethora of National Parks, the ecological abundance, the local culture, and of course, the wildlife.

The world’s second-largest continent has much to offer to adventure-seeking tourists worldwide. Choosing a country to visit within Africa can also be quite confusing, especially considering every place has something unique to offer.

However, for most, the thought of visiting Africa rarely comes to fruition and in most cases, it is because one can get easily intimidated by an alien land. The issue is further exacerbated when a handful of the countries in the continent also report some of the highest crime rates in the world which also affects the image of the safer countries in the continent.

That is not to say that all of Africa in plagued with crime. In fact, most of Africa isn’t, and this article will dispel the myth entirely as we list the safest countries in Africa that one can visit.

We have ranked the countries below in terms of their global peace score (Source: Wikipedia) (a lower score indicates more safety). Purely based on peace index, it turns out that Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Senegal are safer than South Korea.

“Each indicator’s results are then merged to create a single unified GPI value for each country. The lower the GDI score, the more peaceful—and by extension, the safer—the country is considered to be.”

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1. Mauritius (1.570) – Safest Country in Africa

According to the current GPI ranking, Mauritius is the safest country in Africa and the 28th safest country in the world.

Mauritius is a cosmopolitan tourist paradise with beaches and lagoons, coral diving, water activities, the “Seven Colored Earth” of Chamarel and beautiful forests full of wildlife.

The overall crime rate in Mauritius is quite low and the crimes that do occur are mostly non-violent, such as petty theft.

Mauritius offers a wonderful combination of cultures, friendly people, varied cuisine, and a diverse ethnic community. There are activities for all types of travelers in this natural wonderland. Honeymooners often enjoy sunbathing on the beach or going out on the town in the evening.

2. Ghana (1.759)

Ghana is pretty much located in the centre of the world map. Although Ghana does not host too many of the other attractions that its African counterpart countries host – like Safaris, Wildlife, Eco-tours and more. It does have a lot in the way of cultural heritage that dates back to the 18th century. The capital city – Accra has negligible instances of crime reported and the city is always bustling with locals and tourists alike.

There are a few attractions that one can indulge in Ghana. Surfing in the beaches of Accra, discovering Jamestown, Cape Coast Castles and visiting a few national parks here and there are a few of the activities that make Ghana a great visit.

3. The Gambia (1.792)

Tourism in The Republic of The Gambia is booming, and it’s easy to understand why. The Gambia is known for its hospitality, sunny beaches, and diverse wildlife. Inexpensive safari tours give travelers a unique opportunity to observe leopards, monkeys, hyenas, hippos, crocodiles, and rare birds in their natural habitats, and world-renowned Kotu Beach is the perfect place to unwind after a long day spent exploring Banjul, the Gambian capital city.

Fishing, boating, and horseback riding are all popular beach activities in The Gambia.

The Gambia is one of the safest travel destinations in West Africa. Violent crimes in The Gambia are rare. The biggest threats are pickpockets and Bumsters. Bumsters approach tourists and offer to be their guide or promise to introduce them to The Gambia social scene. Some Bumsters target older women, offering romance in exchange for a new life in America or Europe. These men are con-artists, and they should not be trusted.

Fraud and scams are also common in The Gambia. Travelers should be wary of any unsolicited investment opportunities.

All in all, these countries are a standing testament that not all of Africa is riddled with crime. These countries remain unexplored by the international community largely due to inherent misconceptions but are a haven for adventure-seeking tourists worldwide.

4. Botswana (1.80)

Botswana was the safest country in Africa in 2021 but it has moved down to 4th position in 2022. A 1.676 Global Peace Index score makes it safer than the UK or Spain.

The land of the Okavango Delta, Kalahari Desert & the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, Botswana is one of the hidden Jewels in Africa and is known not just for the flourishing wildlife but also the extraordinary views that each of the destinations has to offer.

Crime in Botswana is at an all-time low, the popular towns Francistown, Gaborone & Maun rarely experience any instances of serious crime.

If you’re really concerned about safety in Africa, Botswana should be the number one pick. Safaris to Botswana tend to more expensive than a regular African Safari trip, so you may want to keep an eye on the prices.

5. Sierra Leone (1.803)

This tiny coastal country (at 71,740 Sq. km) is another haven for tourists who have Safety as their topmost concern. However, unlike the other countries mentioned previously, Sierra Leone does have a bit of a crime problem.

Over 60% of the country’s population live below Poverty Line and as the saying goes “poverty breeds crime”. Sierra Leone is known for its nightlife and parties especially during occasions like Christmas and Easter & the urban areas is where most of the crime takes place, the rest of the country is relatively crime-free.

As per the Government of UK, most trips to Sierra Leone are relatively risk-free, however there have been few instances of tourists being robbed at Gun Point. If you’re visiting the country for a short duration, make sure that you avoid strolls after 10 PM & ensure you’re always traveling in groups. Traveling with a local is an added safety measure. Source (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/sierra-leone/safety-and-security)

6. Zambia (1.841)

The US department of state in its annual report on Travel Advisory has marked Zambia at level 1 for traveler safety. Which means, travelers ought to exercise regular precautionary measures and need not go overboard with the panic.

A few areas in Zambia like the Copperbelt and Lusaka province do experience higher rate of crime than usual but none of them are considered “unsafe” as per international standards.

The Victoria falls, Kafue National Park & the lower-Zambezi National Park are must-visits during your visit to Zambia, all of them are relatively crime-free. A Zambia Safari is notoriously “wild” with very few traces of modernity, even the number of Safari Camps in Zambia is fairly limited.

7. Equatorial Guinea (1.8638)

Equatorial Guinea is the ninth safest country in Africa, ranking 62nd on the Global Peace Index for 2021. The U.S. State Department issued a Level 1 travel warning in April 2022.

These islands are known for their beautiful blue waters, sandy beaches, and densely forested interiors. They are accessible by ferries departing from the capital Conakry.

Monte Alen National Park, a 2,000-square-kilometer (772-square-miles) park with lush rainforest vegetation, lakes and waterfalls, and animal species ranging from gorillas to elephants, is one of Equatorial Guinea’s most popular destinations.

8. Liberia (1.88)

Liberia offers travelers the chance to experience West Africa’s vibrant culture firsthand. The bustling capital city of Monrovia is home to dozens of markets where artisans sell their finest handcrafted wares, and the Liberia National Museum provides insight into the history of Africa’s oldest republic.

Surfers from around the world flock to Liberia’s palm tree-lined beaches to catch the perfect wave, and the inland jungles are home to leopards, elephants, chimpanzees, and the pygmy hippo. Liberia may sound like a dream vacation destination, but there are safety concerns to take into consideration before applying for a Liberian Tourist Visa.

Petty and violent crimes are common throughout Monrovia, especially in densely populated neighborhoods. Most crimes in Liberia are crimes of opportunity. Pickpockets frequent known tourist attractions, and armed carjackings often take place in broad daylight. It’s wise to make travel arrangements through a reputable taxi company instead of hailing a cab on the street. Foreign tourists have reported being robbed by their taxi drivers.

Women travelers are especially vulnerable to crime in Liberia. Traveling to unsafe neighborhoods and walking alone at night is strongly discouraged.

Visiting Liberia can be a safe and memorable experience, but only if travelers take the proper precautions. There are always risks associated with foreign travel, and African countries like Liberia are working to improve upon safe travel policies.

9. Malawi (1.895)

Malawi, the eighth safest country in Africa in 2021, has a GPI rank of 59, placing it between France (55) and Greece (66). Malawi was included in Lonely Planet’s list of top ten countries for 2022 for its “lakes, scenery, wildlife and culture.”

Crime is generally minimal in Malawi. The biggest risks are handbag snatching and petty theft.

The country is known for its friendly, smiling inhabitants. It boasts an exceptional freshwater lake that dominates this landlocked country. The pristine waves and peaceful islands make for an ideal beach vacation.

9. Namibia (1.908)

Namibia’s rugged landscapes contribute greatly to the country’s uniqueness. Namibia is home to some of Africa’s most amazing natural sites, including the world’s highest dunes and the stunning Fish River Canyon.

Namibia offers space, tranquility and the opportunity to get away from it all: It is the second least densely populated country in the world, with only two people per square kilometer.

You can drive for hours under bright blue skies without seeing another vehicle, surrounded by landscapes so vast and barren that sometimes you feel like you are on the edge of the earth. There are not many places left in an overpopulated world where you can immerse yourself as deeply in the remote wilderness as you can in Namibia.

Namibia is a relatively safe country to visit. However, it does have a high crime rate. Crime is a serious problem in Namibia’s capital Windhoek and in other parts of the country. Muggings and pickpocketing are common, especially in places frequented by foreigners.

10. Madagascar (1.912)

Apart from the recent uptick in crime in the urban areas due to rising unemployment and political instability, Madagascar is considered one of the safer countries in Africa. The island nation has many friendly residents and the nation’s rich, natural bounty makes it a very lucrative destination for vacationers.

The Avenue of the Baobabs – a huge trail of Baobab trees is a strong candidate for becoming one of the 7 natural wonders of Africa. Tsingy de Bemaraha national park & the Ranomafana national park are among the few destinations in Madagascar that one can visit without worrying too much about safety.

Apart from this, the Ile Saint Marie & Ifaty are popular beach destinations are popular beach destinations that are regular for tourists. Crime rates here are also negligible and these places also host some unique activities. You can fancy a boat trip to spot humpback whales in the Indian ocean once you’ve seen too much of land animals in its many National parks.

Other relatively safe countries in Africa

Senegal (1.916)

Senegal does experience some petty crime and few instances of violent crime – most commonly mugging and robbery at gunpoint. But these instances are quite uncommon and at 1.883, the country fares better than France when it comes to country-wide safety.

Speaking of France, safety will most likely be the last of your concern since some of the biggest issues the tourists face has to do with language – which is almost exclusively French, few locals do speak broken English but it would be a great idea to hire a tour guide who is fairly adept at English.

Additionally, Senegal has a ton of attractions that tourists can fearlessly indulge in since these tourist attractions are not riddled with crime. The pink lake of Senegal is a tourist hotspot so is the town of Casamance where tourists can unwind and relax.

Birdwatchers will certainly enjoy places like Madeleine Island, Lagoon La Somone and the national park of DjouDJ.

Steer clear or remain extra cautious of places like Dakar and avoid late night walks in the beaches. Also, keep an eye out on the newspapers before your travel, Senegal is known to have a lot of protests and while most of them are peaceful, some of them do get ugly and result in riot police having to use aggressive tactics.

Rwanda (1.94)

Rwanda, known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills,” offers unique experiences in one of the most amazing countries in Africa, thanks to its breathtaking surroundings and warm, hospitable people. It has a remarkable biodiversity with incredible wildlife native to the mountains, highland forests and vast plains.

Rwanda is committed to preserving the lives of several iconic species in its four national parks.

They work tirelessly to ensure that we can all live in sustainable harmony with the environment, with a clean and green mindset. In 2008, plastic bags were banned, and thanks to community initiatives, Rwanda’s soils are probably the cleanest in all of Africa.

Ten percent of the revenue from gorilla, safari and other visitor permits and park fees is invested in working with local communities to improve people’s livelihoods.

Rwandans are warm and pleasant, but they are also polite, thoughtful, and fundamentally committed to the idea of change.

From the ancient kingdom to modern times, innovation is valued, whether through traditional dances, unique buildings or works of art.

Morocco (1.96)

Morocco‘s delights include vibrant marketplaces, desert hikes, climbing to distant waterfalls, and beach days. Surfing on the seaside, sipping mint tea in the medina, and exploring the ruins dispersed throughout its numerous cities are all options.

Morocco is very diverse in terms of landscape, so the climate varies depending on the destination. There is no bad time of year to visit this beautiful country, but spring and fall attract the most visitors, with temperatures ranging from 18 to 23°C.

The summer months from June through August face high temperatures reaching up to 45°C in the Sahara. However, cities such as Marrakech and Fez average about 32°C, which is great for spending time at your riad’s pool. November through February are the winter months and typically bring cooler, chilly weather with rain, but the cities will always be bustling, as warmer temps remain throughout the day in the northern part of the country.

Morocco is known for being one of the most tolerant of the Arab nations. The country is relatively safe, peaceful and stable. Moroccan people, both Arabic and Berber, are also noted for their warm hospitality and friendly nature.

Gabon (1.97)

Gabon, located in west central Africa and on the equator, has the potential to become one of the best ecotourism destinations in the world.

Currently, Gabon is one of the richest nations in Africa, thanks to its oil and mineral deposits as well as its small population. However, the late President Bongo recognized that Gabon’s reliance on oil had become too great and in 2002 set aside more than 10% of the country for national parks, recognizing that Gabon’s other natural resources would be critical to the country’s economic future.

Amazing wildlife such as lowland gorillas and chimpanzees can be found here, while the pristine Atlantic coast is home to endangered turtles and whales. Although there is still a lot of infrastructure work to be done, it is a promising place for ecotourism and adventure travel.

Angola (1.98)
The breathtaking beauty of nature is one of the main reasons to visit Angola. It could be noted that the country is lucky to have such a magnificent environment. There are many different types of landscapes there, including whitesand beaches, green hills, tropical jungles, sandy deserts, magnificent waterfalls and much more.

Angola is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Angola host more than 8,000 plant species, 275 animals, 78 amphibians, 227 reptiles, 915 bird species and more than 300 insect species. The African elephant, black sable, African lion, leopard, hippo, chimpanzee, rhinos, gorilla, antelope, sea turtle, whale, dolphin and shark are among the other creatures that can be seen here. Besides the friendly Angolans, the most important reason to visit is the natural beauty of the country.

Tanzania (2.00)

Tanzania is the hotspot for an African Safari at the moment. The country offers the most diverse experiences in Africa. From Safaris in the Serengeti to Treks in the Kilimanjaro Mountains. From Wildlife and bird watching in the Ngorongoro to relaxing beach vacations in the Zanzibar Archipelago, Tanzania has it all, and travel to the country has been made simple due to policy initiatives by the Government.

When it comes to safety, Tanzania is generally considered safe. The country has had close to 1.8 million tourists visiting the country during 2019 and very few of the tourists have reported any crime.

However, while Tanzania is a safe country overall, it would pay to be extra cautious in the below-listed crime hotspots of the country

Arusha Town: The Gateway town between the Kilimanjaro Mountains and the Northern Circuit (Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manayara). Arusha is a fairly populous town and is also a layover town for tourists visiting the Northern Circuit– It is advised that tourists should not wear manifestly expensive attire/accessories and should avoid strolling out of the hotel area after dark.

Stone Town: The centrepiece of the Zanzibar archipelago also reports few instances of crime especially after dark during night-time parties. Tourists are advised to stay clear of this town during after hours

However, most of the tourists hardly ever spend any time in any of these places. Most victims of crime in Tanzania are locals are tourists hardly ever face any trouble. Tourists tend to linger around popular attractions like the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Kilimanjaro Mountains & the Zanzibar islands. All of these places are relatively crime-free.

As a bonus, Tanzania is not as expensive a safari destination as most of the other countries in this list. Most of the safaris are layered into different types and you can choose one based on your requirement. For more details, click here for details on Tanzania Safari costs.

Additional Info

  • Source Traveling Lifestyle

Thailand is implementing a tourist tax, becoming part of a new trend taking hold in destinations around the world.What other countries required Globe Aware volunteers to pay tourism taxes this year?

Thailand becomes latest country to impose a 'tourist tax' as trend spreads globally

Melissa Klurman
Feb. 16, 2023

Thailand is implementing a tourist tax, becoming part of a new trend taking hold in destinations around the world.

The awe-inspiring country truly feels magical. Bustling Bangkok offers gold-covered temples and fascinating cultural sites, while the country’s gorgeous islands and beautiful beaches have some of the most luxe resorts in the world. The jungle-filled northern province beckons travelers to spend time walking with elephants and exploring pristine nature.

To protect these natural resources, the Tourism Authority of Thailand says it will focus part of its 2023 visitor marketing campaign on meaningful travel, including responsible tourism and sustainable initiatives.

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Part of this plan is a new 300 Thai baht (about $9) tourism levy for incoming international tourists arriving by air. If you enter through other borders, including ports, it will cost 150 Thai baht (about $4).

The Thai government approved the new tourist tax this week. It goes into effect this June.

Funds raised from the tourist tax will go toward helping visitors who’ve been involved in accidents (or are sick with COVID-19) and toward developing tourist destinations, according to Thailand's tourism and sports minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn. He told reporters the new tax could generate more than $115 million.

The one-off fee will be collected from air travelers upon arrival in the country.

In January 2022, the country proposed a similar fee that was never implemented. Again, this past summer, a rumored “sustainability tax” of a similar amount was also announced, but it never came to fruition.

Current Thailand entry requirements

There have been several updates to Thailand’s entry requirements, but it's been all good news for Americans who want to visit. As of October 2022, Thailand says that all international tourists are welcome.

Americans visiting Thailand will just need a passport with at least six months of validity. No visa is required, but you may need to show proof of a return airline ticket.

There are no other restrictions on American visitors, as TPG's Clint Henderson found on a recent trip. He'd brought proof of health insurance, but no one asked to see it upon arrival.

After some confusion about vaccination policies earlier this year, the country’s deputy prime minister and minister of public health, Anutin Charnvirakul, said that “international travelers arriving in Thailand are not required to show proof of vaccination.”

However, to avoid footing the treatment bills of uninsured foreigners who catch COVID-19 while in the country, Thai authorities say tourists will need to have medical insurance if they are traveling from or on to a country that requires a PCR test for entry, such as China or India.

“While Thailand is welcoming all visitors, a visitor’s country of origin or next country of destination may require incoming visitors, including their own nationals returning home, to have a negative PCR test,” the Tourism Authority of Thailand said in a statement.

Thailand joins a growing list of nations (and states) imposing new taxes or fees on visitors. In fact, Hawaii is moving toward imposing a new fee for use of Hawaii parks, trails and beaches.

Additional Info

  • Source The Points Guy
Monday, 12 June 2023 15:07

Best Dad Travel Suggestions

With Father’s Day on the horizon, let’s celebrate our adventure-loving dads with their best travel suggestions! Globe Aware volunteers, do you or any of your dad's follow these tips?

Father’s Day: Take Note Of These Best Dad Travel Suggestions!

06 Jun 2023
Travel and Leisure Asia | India

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Travel Tips

Father’s Day: Take Note Of These Best Dad Travel Suggestions!

Remember the time when your dad told you about his first bike trip or how a long-cut became a shortcut when he forged his own path? On this Father’s Day, let’s revisit some of the best dad travel suggestions.

With Father’s Day on the horizon, let’s celebrate our adventure-loving dads with their best travel suggestions!

Suggestions that all fathers give before the beginning of a trip

Prepare for your flight the night before

Check and re-check all your essentials the night before you travel. Make sure you have the necessary documents, including your passport or other photo ID proofs, money and medicines (if you take any). Your luggage should be packed and locked in place. Don’t forget to pack your phone charger, camera, international travel plug, and other important travel items.

Reach the airport ahead of time

Arrive well in advance, especially now when there are extra procedures to follow. Arriving on time is important no matter how boring airports may seem; missed flights are even worse! So, following this every time you catch a flight will save you from panicking or flustering in case anything goes wrong en route. No wonder, then, dads entrust punctuality more than navigation apps!

You are at the airport. Now what?

Fatherly wisdom dictates always checking the luggage allowance before you fly and again when you arrive at the airport. Double-check everything, just in case. Also, pack your electronics in your carry-on bag to get through airport security faster. Take your dad’s travel advice, and mark your luggage so that you don’t end up at baggage reclaim—even by accident!

Back up everything

Some people might laugh it off but keeping spare passport photos will save you a lot of hassle. So, follow your dad’s travel advice and create backups of your passport, hotel accommodation, driver’s license, other photo IDs, visa, travel insurance and other important documents on your phone. Be old school and take printed copies as well, and leave some behind with family members or friends.

Don’t swear by your travel guidebook

You don’t need to live by the travel guidebook and do extensive research on the internet or keep your eyes glued to your phone navigation while exploring a destination. Instead, go with the flow and be open-minded. Do your research well enough to relax and not go overboard with information.

Save money with car rental

Travel like your dad by renting a car and take in more sights while cruising through a place. Don’t forget to check your fuel tank before you embark on that long exploratory road trip. And stop only where necessary; you’ve got to save time and be efficient.

Carry extra cash and stash it away

Father's Day 2021

That cash should be stashed away in your sock or zipped up in a hidden pocket of your carry-on bag. Also, locker or no locker, never leave money or your passport in the hotel room.

Be an early bird

An early bird gets the worm—most fathers swear by this. It is the best way to avoid heavy crowds and explore beautiful locations at their busiest least. Plus, you get the best photos!

Watch out for scammers

Keep your head high while walking like you know where you are going. Pickpocketing is common at many tourist destinations, and it’s important to not be an easy target. One of the best travel advice by dads is to keep everything important in your travel carry-on, but don’t put anything in your back pocket!

Track your spendings

Take lessons from your dad and track your spendings. You’ll be able to budget better and treat yourself at the end of the trip.

Be spontaneous

Dads often like to let loose and live in the moment while exploring off-the-beaten trails. Enjoy being spontaneous for a day.

Freebies are the best

Take those mini shampoos and store them in your daypack. No point in wasting those complimentary snacks from the hotel or airport meals. Take your dad’s travel advice and embrace these freebies.

Stay in touch

If you’re travelling alone or even with friends, make sure to keep your family back home informed about your whereabouts. Also, make sure to charge your devices before heading out.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel + Leisure

Vietnam is coming into prominence as one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia. Its natural wonders and incredible culture are making it into the mainstream inspiring American tourists to get out of their comfort zone and travel across the world to explore the country.

Vietnam Is Becoming More Popular Among American Tourists – Here’s Why

January 2023
Travel Off Path

Vietnam is coming into prominence as one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia (SEA). Its natural wonders and incredible culture are making it into the mainstream, inspiring American tourists to get out of their comfort zone and travel across the world to explore the country – despite the limited flight options and the complex logistics of getting there.

Since it fully reopened for tourism in early 2022, becoming one of the first in SEA to drop entry rules and welcome U.S. travelers irrespective of vaccination status, demand for nationwide tourism has increased dramatically. So much so that the famous online travel agency Kayak proclaimed Vietnam the top destination in Southeast Asia for 2023.

Only adding to the buzz, the mystical Land of the Blue Dragon is now on a steady recovery path, with further growth expected this year:

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23.3 Times More Visitors In 2022

Last year, Vietnam welcomed 3.36 million visitors, still down by 79.9% compared to the pre-pandemic reference year of 2019, but 23.3 times more than it did the year before, proving its reopening was hugely beneficial to tourism. Prior to March 2022, the vast majority of foreign travelers were barred from crossing into the territory.

Vietnam enacted one of the toughest anti-Covid measures seen in Asia, sealing its borders as soon as the World Health Organization sounded the alarm and remaining completely isolated for two years. During this period, travel into Vietnam was restricted only to Vietnamese nationals and foreigners who had obtained authorization or held a residency permit.

Of course, the initial reaction sent the travel industry into a tailspin, and the fact it has only recovered by 30% almost a year into reopening is proof the long-term effects of the Government’s earliest decisions will be felt for a long time still. On the bright side, tourists have started to come back, and Thai authorities have identified America as a market worth exploring.

Out of 3.36 million guests in Vietnam throughout 2022, 388,873 arrived from the Americas, including North, Central, and South. U.S. visitors, in particular, have contributed the most to this number. While American traffic as a whole (continent-wise) increased by roughly 6.9% in December, one of the busiest months, U.S. arrivals climbed by an even higher 7.7%.

Vietnam Showing Positive Signs Of Recovery

While it may not seem like much at first, it is worth noting hesitancy around travel to Asia remains widespread, even though many destinations in the region have abandoned their hardline Covid policies by now. Some would argue it is a direct consequence of two years of self-imposed seclusion coming back to bite them:

Unlike Mexico, which remained open from the beginning and paved the way for a historical 2022, Vietnam, and other SEA partners will need to work harder to regain the trust of travelers – both the reintroduction of health mandates following the viral surge in China and Thailand’s back and forth with entry rules has not helped their case.

Taking this into account, as well as the fact that there is a limited number of flights connecting the U.S. and Vietnam, we can assert that the 2022 figure, albeit moderate by most standards, is still quite impressive. The General Statistics Office in Vietnam also listed Europeans (508,398) and Australians and New Zealanders (156,645) as valuable customers.

So why, exactly, is Vietnam attracting a rising number of visitors in the post-Covid scene?

This Is Why Vietnam Is Becoming So Popular

Vietnam is a culturally-rich country with a painful yet fascinating recent history. Whether you were born in the seventies and watched it live on the telly, or in the nineties and learned about it from textbooks, we are sure the iconic images of the Fall of Saigon and the controversial triumph of communism in South Vietnam are imprinted on your mind.

In spite of its millennial heritage, this is a newborn country still finding its footing in a fast-changing world, and that has only eased visa restrictions for outsiders in recent years, allowing us the privilege of visiting previous generations simply didn’t enjoy. Needless to say, it is a different world altogether from your usual vacay spots in the West.

The Most Chaotic, Vibrant Cities

If you like your cities a bit rough around the edges, then you’ll understand why so many adventurous Americans find Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) impossible to resist: the two most important urban centers are a complex maze of narrow, unplanned streets thriving with trade, vibrant fleamarkets, old colonial buildings, and ancient temples.

On the other hand, if the busy city life doesn’t seem appealing and its bucolic, rolling rice terraces etched into green hills, quaint villages, and remote pagodas set against dramatic backdrops you’re after, you’ll soon realize Vietnam is brimming with them, from the Sapa heartland to the pilgrimage sites of the Ninh Binh province.

Beautiful Architecture

A fan of architecture and old ruins? Worry not: there are numerous jaw-dropping imperial palaces to keep the sightseer in you entertained for days. A favorite of ours is Hue, a historical city in central Vietnam home to the stunning Forbbiden Purple City, the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty, sumptuously-decorated temples, and a monumental moated citadel.

Pristine Beaches

You’re not a huge lover of History, and you’re looking instead for a place to unwind, bury your feet in the sand, and disconnect from the chaos of the modern world? Vietnam has got you covered: it is packed with paradisaical beaches boasting postcard-perfect turquoise waters and lined with luxurious resorts – available at accessible rates.

Vietnam Is Cheap To Visit

This is a big country, slightly larger than the state of New Mexico, and as you can see, there is something for everybody. There is, of course, one last thing to mention: Vietnam is incredibly cheap for middle-income Americans, as the devalued currency, coupled with the lower cost of living, allows them to access luxuries they wouldn’t be able to afford in the States.

In actual numbers, their purchasing power is boosted by 170.2% in cities like Hanoi; consumer prices tend to be 75.7% cheaper than in New York. Effectively, this means their dollars stretch much further here than back at home. In a way, Vietnam – and Southeast Asia, for that matter – is the perfect backpacking destination when you’re young and broke.


Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path
Tuesday, 06 June 2023 10:25

What Is Allowed in a Carry-on Bag?

For those of us Globe Aware volunteers who haven't flown in a while, here's a quick run through to help you pack easier!

What Is Allowed in a Carry-on Bag?

Follow this guide to pack like a pro and ensure airport security is a breeze.

By Erin Vasta
June 1, 2023
US News & World Report

As all air travelers know, it can be incredibly frustrating to discover you've packed something that isn't allowed through airport security. Whether traveling for pleasure or business, you can make your flight smoother by understanding the restrictions affecting your carry-on luggage. Use this guide to take the hassle out of your next trip.

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The 3-1-1 Rule or Liquids Rule
Carry-on allowances and restrictions are determined by the Transportation Security Administration. These rules apply to items in carry-on bags (carry-on-sized suitcases, backpacks, purses, laptop bag and mores) that you plan to take through security. The TSA's 3-1-1 rule outlines the travel limitations for liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes. Here's a breakdown:

3: All travel-sized containers must hold no more than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) of liquid.
1: All containers holding liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes must be placed within one sealed quart-sized bag.
1: Only one quart-sized bag is allowed per passenger, even if you have multiple carry-on bags for your flight.
Keep in mind that purchasing additional carry-on luggage will not allow you more of these restricted items. Additionally, containers that hold more than 3.4 ounces will not be allowed, even if they are not completely full.

What Is Allowed in a Carry-on Bag?
The following list covers many of the items you're allowed to pack in your carry-on. Read on for more information on each type of item and what limits apply.

  • Baby items
  • Sports and exercise equipment
  • Dietary supplements
  • Blankets and pillows
  • Medical items and equipment
  • Cosmetics
  • Toiletries
  • Razors and other hair removal tools
  • Drinks
  • Food and snacks
  • Personal electronic devices and accessories
  • Smoking paraphernalia
  • Batteries
  • Nature-related items
  • Tools
  • Solid candles
  • Umbrellas
  • Baby items

The top travel priority for any new parent is how to care for your baby while on a flight. While the 3-1-1 rule applies to most carry-on items, you'll be happy to know that items related to the care and feeding of your baby are less restricted. Baby formula, breast milk, toddler drinks, and food for babies and toddlers are considered medically necessary liquids by the TSA, so quantities larger than 3.4 ounces may be packed separate from the quart-sized bag in your carry-on baggage.

Accessories needed to transport these items, such as ice or freezer packs, are also allowed without restriction. These items can be transported even if you are traveling without the liquids or your child, but you must inform a TSA officer at the beginning of the screening process. To make your security experience smoother, TSA also recommends you transport any liquids in clear, translucent bottles rather than plastic bags or pouches. In addition, the following items can be packed in your hand luggage: a baby carrier, a child car seat, baby powder, baby wipes and a breast pump.

Sports and exercise equipment
Whether you are a serious athlete or a casual player, most sports and exercise-related equipment is allowed in your carry-ons. The following sports balls can be included: basketballs, baseballs, footballs, soccer balls, golf balls, bocce balls and bowling balls. Sports cleats and helmets are also permitted. Golf enthusiasts can pack divot tools and tees, but there are restrictions for other golf equipment. If you're headed to a cold climate for some outdoor fun, you can pack your snowboards, snowshoes and ice skates. Crampons are also generally permitted in carry-on bags, but TSA officers can remove them at their discretion.

Your helmet, bicycle chain and bicycle pump can be packed, but bicycles, skateboards, hoverboards and segways may face restrictions based on your airline's carry-on policy. Additional sports and exercise equipment allowed in carry-on luggage includes rollerblades, longboards, boxing gloves, fishing poles, small fishing lures (with sharp objects properly sheathed), pickleball paddles, tennis rackets, foam yoga blocks and yoga mats. Sports equipment that can be used as a bludgeon, such as clubs or bats, is not allowed in the cabin.

Dietary supplements
Dietary supplements, protein powder and energy powders (like pre-workout and creatine) are all allowed in powder or pill form. If you are packing powder-like substances greater than 12 ounces (350 milliliters), be sure to place the containers in a separate bin for X-ray screening. They may require additional screening or need to be opened for testing.

Blankets and pillows
These are not restricted by the TSA. If you don't yet have a travel blanket, U.S. News recommends the BlueHills Premium Soft Travel Blanket Pillow for airplanes. It doubles as a blanket or pillow for the plane. If you have a favorite pillow that you can't imagine sleeping without, have no fear: Pillows can be packed in your carry-on luggage without restriction. Or, consider one of U.S. News' top travel pillows.

Medical items and equipment
Dealing with medical needs can be stressful enough without adding travel. If you're concerned about accommodating your needs, alert your airline at check-in to ensure you have a positive experience. Medications in pill form, including vitamins, are typically allowed without major restrictions, though destinations sometimes have their own regulations. Any liquid, gel or aerosol medications that are medically necessary (including insulin, EpiPens and inhalers) can be transported in excess of the 3-1-1 rule, but you must declare them to TSA officers at the checkpoint for inspection.

Pill organizers are a great option for traveling with basic medication, but prescriptions are best kept in their original packaging or clearly labeled. If your mobility is limited, inform the TSA officer at the checkpoint so accommodations can be made to screen you and your belongings safely and quickly. For more information regarding disability and medical conditions, check out the TSA's website or contact your airline.

Many makeup products are limited by the TSA's 3-1-1 rule for carry-on luggage. If you are traveling with any of the following, you will need to adhere to the 3.4-ounce restriction: concealer, liquid eyeliner, foundation, mascara, other liquid makeup and makeup remover. Solid and powder makeup are not restricted but will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening if they exceed 12 ounces (350 milliliters). Lipsticks, lip balms, makeup wipes and airbrush makeup machines can be packed in carry-ons without restriction.

The following cosmetics are also restricted by the TSA's 3-1-1 rule: hair gel, hairspray, aerosol hair texturizer, nail polish and nail polish remover. Nail clippers and metal nail files are unrestricted but should be sheathed to avoid injury. Hair styling tools like curling irons and straighteners should have their heating element safely covered if they're cordless.

Since many toiletries are subject to the TSA's 3-1-1 restriction, consider packing your carry-on items in a TSA-approved toiletry bag like one from PACKISM or check out U.S. News' picks for the best toiletry bags. Items subject to the 3-1-1 rule include liquid and aerosol deodorant, cologne, perfume, shampoo, conditioner, dry shampoo, lotion, sunscreen and toothpaste. Outside of your clear quart-sized bag, you can pack your solid deodorant, toothbrush (manual and electronic), tweezers and mirrors. For recommendations on eco-friendly travel-sized products, check out this piece on sustainable travel.

Razors and other hair removal tools
Disposable and electric razors are allowed without restriction, but sharp edges should be securely sheathed to avoid injury. Safety razors are allowed, but the blades must be removed and packed securely in your checked bag. Laser hair removal devices and hair clippers are not restricted, but shaving cream must adhere to the 3-1-1 rule.

All drinks are subject to the TSA's 3-1-1 rule, including bottled water, coffee and tea (in liquid form), juices, smoothies, soda, and alcoholic beverages up to 70%. TSA requests that you do not consume your personal alcohol in-flight. An airport's duty-free section is a great alternative to trying to pack alcohol.

If you prefer to travel with your own cup or container for beverages (such as a coffee thermos or water bottle), you will need to ensure it is empty before passing through security. You can fill empty beverage containers on the other side. Ice must be frozen solid when passing through security or it will be subject to the 3-1-1 rule.

Food and snacks
Solid foods are allowed through security but may be restricted by your arrival destination, so be sure to check travel regulations for your destination. Some foods can cause obstructions during the X-ray process, so the TSA recommends you remove food items from your bag before screening. Allowed foods include bread, cereal, cheese (solid), cooked meat, cooked seafood, cooked vegetables (no liquid), fresh eggs, nuts, pies and cakes, pizza, salt, sandwiches, spices (dry), coffee (beans or ground), and tea (dry tea bags or loose tea leaves).

The following food items are allowed but restricted by the 3-1-1 rule: canned foods, cheese (creamy), chocolate (liquid), cream, creamy dips and spreads, gravy, honey, hummus, ice cream, jam and jelly, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, peanut butter, salad dressing, salsa and sauces, soups, and yogurt. Small snack foods can also be taken through security. This includes candy, chocolate (solid), cookies, crackers, dried fruits, gum, popped popcorn, nuts and snack bars. Fresh fruits and vegetables are permitted as long as your destination doesn't have any restrictions on the item.

Personal electronic devices and accessories
Personal devices should be packed in a convenient location in your carry-on luggage because electronics must be removed from your bag and placed in a separate bin for screening. This includes cell phones, desktop computers, digital cameras, laptops and tablets. Consider purchasing a travel backpack with a separate pocket for electronics, like the Solgaard Lifepack Endeavour (with closet), to make security a breeze.

Smoking paraphernalia
Cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, tobacco and tobacco pipes are permitted without restriction, but you are strictly prohibited from using those items aboard most aircrafts. If you do pack these items, make sure any disposable or Zippo lighters are emptied of fuel and that any arc lighters, plasma lighters, electronic lighters, lithium-battery-powered lighters, e-lighters, electronic cigarettes and vaping devices are stored in a way that prevents accidental activation on the plane. This can include removing the batteries and either placing the item in a protective case or using a protective cover, safety latch or locking device. Any e-liquids must adhere to the 3-1-1 rule.

Batteries for commonly owned devices are allowed in carry-on bags. This includes dry batteries (AA, AAA, C, and D), lithium batteries, fuel cells and nonspillable wet batteries. Large batteries, such as those used for vehicles or wheelchairs, are typically restricted. If you must travel with a battery of this size, you should speak with a TSA agent and your airline prior to going through security. Additional information on battery restrictions can be found in the Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Nature-related items
While TSA doesn't restrict natural items like rocks or shells at security, it is important to check the restrictions for your arrival destination as many have restrictions to avoid the possibility of introducing an invasive species to a new environment. Assuming no destination restrictions, flowers can be brought through security if they are not in water. Live corals, live lobsters and live fish can be transported in water if they are in a clear container and have been inspected by a TSA officer.

Typically, any tools that are 7 inches or less in length are allowed in carry-on bags. Tools exceeding this length are restricted. Keep in mind that sharp objects must be properly sheathed to avoid potential injury. Multi-tools that do not have knives but do contain scissors shorter than 4 inches are allowed, but multi-tools with blades are prohibited.

You can bring one book of safety matches on board, but they must not be strike anywhere. Parachutes can also be brought as carry-on luggage but must be packed separately from other luggage. Flashlights are not restricted but be sure to check that the batteries meet TSA regulations before you pack.

Solid candles
Solid candles are unrestricted, but make sure to check the section below on what isn't allowed in carry-on bags to see what restrictions there are for other candle types.

These are allowed through TSA checks without restrictions, but you should check with your airline as each may have its own size and weight restrictions. A safe bet is to purchase an umbrella like the Weatherman Travel Umbrella which weighs less than a pound and measures just under 12 long when closed. It also comes with a handy sleeve to keep the rest of your luggage dry when stored.

Additional items
If there's an item you want to bring that you don't see covered in this article, do not fret. You can check with your airline or the AskTSA team for more information.

What Isn't Allowed in a Carry-on Bag?
Here is an overview of items that are not allowed in the cabin when you fly. Check the TSA page What Can I Bring? for a full list.

Alcoholic beverages over 140 proof, or 70%, are not allowed.
Weapons: You cannot bring knives (pocket, swiss army, utility, kirpans, razor-type blades), guns (BB, cap, pellet, compressed air), ammunition and gun powder, axes and hatchets, bows and arrows, firearms and rifles, martial arts weapons, and realistic replicas of weapons in your carry-on.

Weapons (self-defense): These include kubatons, pepper and self-defense sprays, brass knuckles, blackjacks, night sticks, stun guns and shocking devices, and tactical pens.
Explosives: Items creating or replicating an explosion are banned. This includes bang snaps, dynamite, English Christmas crackers, firecracker, fireworks, flare guns, flares, hand grenades, party poppers, sparklers and vehicle airbags.
Certain sports and exercise equipment: Items that can be used as a bludgeon are not allowed in the cabin. TSA restrictions apply to clubs, bats, hockey and walking sticks, canoe and kayak paddles, bowling pins, darts, hiking and ski poles, ice axes and ice picks, shoe and snow spikes, snow cleats, starter pistols, and more.
Certain medical items and equipment: Battery-powered wheelchairs and mobility devices, gel heating pads, and a mercury medical-clinical thermometer cannot be carried on.
Tools: Restriction prohibit box cutters, crowbars, drills and drill bits, hammers, nail guns, saws and screwdrivers longer than 7 inches.
Flammable gases and liquids: Be sure not to pack engines and engine-powered equipment, fire extinguishers and other compressed gas cylinders, fuels, spillable batteries, strike anywhere matches, flammable paints (liquid, gel, spray, aerosol), turpentine and paint thinner, and more.

Safety razor with blades
Gel-type candles

Extra Tips
The rules and restrictions outlined in this article aren't the only things to consider when packing your carry-on. In addition to the 3-1-1 rule, travelers should be aware that some airlines have different regulations on the types of items, liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes that are allowed onboard. This is particularly important when traveling internationally as restrictions differ by country. For example, New Zealand is a particularly restrictive country when it comes to traveling with foods, plants, seeds and grains due to its delicate ecosystem.

Confirm your destination restrictions before packing to avoid difficulties getting through customs when you arrive. TSA agents are also given the authority to make the final call on whether an item is allowed through security, so it's best to pack things you're uncertain about in your checked luggage rather than your carry-on.

Erin Vasta is an avid traveler who has navigated packing carry-on luggage for a variety of trip destinations and durations. Through thorough research and accidental snafus over the years, she's discovered the best ways to take the hassle out of packing. She also loves finding new items and tools that make packing and security a breeze. Recent favorites include her Béis The Carry-On Roller and Solgaard Lifepack Endeavour (with closet).


Additional Info

  • Source U.S. News & World Report

According to the airlines its for safety, but what do our Globe Aware volunteers think of this new and voluntary process?

This airline is weighing passengers before they board international flights

May 30, 2023
By Bill Chappell

It's normal to weigh passengers' bags when checking in for an international flight — but in Auckland, it's the passengers who are now getting onto scales before flying abroad on Air New Zealand.

The goal isn't to single out passengers who might contribute to a plane being overloaded or out of balance — instead, the airline says, the process is part of a survey to gather real-world information.

"For safety reasons we need to know the weight of all items onboard the aircraft," the airline says. The survey is mandated by the country's Civil Aviation Authority, the airline said in a message to NPR.

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Passengers' weights are recorded anonymously

"We weigh everything that goes on the aircraft — from the cargo to the meals onboard, to the luggage in the hold," so that pilots can know the weight and balance of the aircraft, Alastair James, a load control specialist for the airline, said.​ "For customers, crew and cabin bags, we use average weights, which we get from doing this survey."

"No one can see your weight — not even us!" James added. Still, he acknowledged that stepping onto scales in public "can be daunting."

A person's weight is a private issue; for anyone concerned that a digital readout might blare their weight for anyone to see, the airline says it can't happen: "The scales do not display the weight as this is fed directly into a computer and recorded anonymously along with thousands of other passengers."

The weigh-in takes place before passengers reach their boarding gate. Anyone who doesn't want to take part in the survey can simply skip it. The goal is to get readings from at least 10,000 air passengers.

Passengers' carry-on bags are also weighed in the survey, which the airline says it carries out every five years. It began the survey on Sunday and will continue it until early July.

The weight survey falls far short of a controversial plan launched by Samoa Air in 2013, when it moved to charge each passenger an airfare based on their weight. But the company wasn't alone.

"If they had their way, airlines would love to weigh passengers as they get on the planes, but it would be too embarrassing," as science writer Brian Clegg once told NPR. "In fact, they actually used to do it in the very early days of flight."

Data is used to calculate flights' balance and weight

Weight affects everything from a plane's climb rate to its cruising altitude, speed and maneuverability, as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration notes. And overloading is a big concern, especially on overseas flights.

"Most modern aircraft are so designed that, when all seats are occupied, the baggage compartment is full, and all fuel tanks are full, the aircraft is grossly overloaded," the FAA says.

With that in mind, airlines and pilots must ensure planes have the proper weight and balance for flight safety.

"If maximum range is required, occupants or baggage must be left behind," the FAA says, "or if the maximum load must be carried, the range, dictated by the amount of fuel on board, must be reduced."

Such concerns are vital for any airline, particularly in an island nation like New Zealand, where Air New Zealand jets take off for long-haul international flights — like a non-stop trip from Auckland to New York City. The airline is also preparing to roll out more amenities, including "Skynest" bunk beds on long routes.

As researchers recently highlighted, 12% of the country's carbon emissions came from the aviation industry — far higher than the global average of 2.8%.

Additional Info

  • Source NPR

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

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

MAY 28, 2023

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

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

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

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10 South Africa: The Most Developed Country In Africa

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

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

9 Kenya: Superb National Parks & Pristine Beaches

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

8 Tanzania: The Setting Of The Lion King

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

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

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

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

6 Botswana: Home Of Herds Of Elephants

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

5 Rwanda: The Jewel In The Heart Of Africa

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

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

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

3 Seychelles: A Tropical Island Paradise

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

2 Zambia: See The Largest Waterfall In The World

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source The Travel

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

10 Summer Travel Destinations That Are Still Hidden Gems

May 29 2023

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

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

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

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10 Kiruna, Sweden

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

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

9 Thessaloniki, Greece

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

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

8 Berat, Albania

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

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

7 Salento, Colombia

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

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

6 Varna, Bulgaria

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

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

5 Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia

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

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

4 Cuenca, Ecuador

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

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

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

3 Riga, Latvia

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

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

2 Perhentian Islands, Malaysia

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

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

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

1 Almaty, Kazakhstan

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source The Travel

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

Five things you should know before visiting Vietnam

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

April 8, 2023

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

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1. When to visit

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

2. Local Transport

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

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

3. Communicate better with a translation app

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

4. Food restrictions

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

5. How much to tip

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

Additional Info

  • Source My Kolkata

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

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

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

By Ashley Nash
May 19, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your summer road trip kit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Busiest national parks:

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

Additional Info

  • Source Desert News

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

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

Escape the dog days with a breezy vacation.

By Andrea Romano
April 29, 2023

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

Destinations in the U.S.

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

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Denali National Park, Alaska

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

San Francisco, California

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

North Cascades National Park, Washington

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

White Mountains, New Hampshire

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

International Destinations

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

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

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


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


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


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

South Island, New Zealand

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

Falls Creek, Victoria, Australia

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

Garzón, Uruguay

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

Patagonia, Argentina

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

Easter Island, Chile

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

Cape Town, South Africa

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

Amsterdam, Netherlands

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

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France

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


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


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


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

Vancouver, Canada

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

Additional Info

  • Source Self

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

Incredible Hidden Travel Gems To Not Miss In Cuba In 2023

May 13, 2023
The Travel

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

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

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10 Vinales Valley

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

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

9 Baracoa

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

8 Cienfuegos

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

7 Santa Clara

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

6 Santiago De Cuba

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

5 Playa Jibacoa

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

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

4 Remedios

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

3 Camaguey

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

2 Trinidad

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

1 Playa Sirena

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


Additional Info

  • Source The Travel

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


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

MAY 3, 2023
Travel of Path

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s everything you need to know:

Reduced Travel Level For Peru

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

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

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

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

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

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

Traveling In Peru

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

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

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

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

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

Staying Safe When Traveling In Peru

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

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


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

By Patrick Clarke
May 5, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

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


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

By Astha Garg
April 29, 2023
The Tico Times

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

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

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

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

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

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10 Tips For Traveling During Rainy Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Additional Info

  • Source The Tico Times

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


Tips for Leaving Your Dog at Home When You Travel

Yahoo! Sports
Apr 28, 2023

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

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

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

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Downplay your absence

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

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

Choose your pet sitter wisely

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

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

Distract with toys

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

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

How to reunite properly after leaving your dog at home

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Yahoo!News

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

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

Times of India
Apr 25, 2019


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

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

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

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Adventures at Pokhara

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

Spirituality in Lumbini

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

Wild encounters at Chitwan National Park

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

Trekking to Everest Base Camp

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

Falling in love in Kathmandu

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

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

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

Swapnajit Kundu
22 Apr 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Additional Info

  • Source News9

Faithful Parent
family travel
Apr 23, 2023

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

ACTS 20: 35


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

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

The Foundation

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

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

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

Willingness to Learn

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

Expertise Not Required

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

Your Family As a Team

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

Passing the Torch

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

Flexibility with Location

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

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

Impact: Long-term and Short-term

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

Six Trips and Counting

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

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


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

Does it take work? Absolutely. 

Is it worth it? One hundred percent.

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

Key Points:

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

Additional Info

  • Source Faithful Parent

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

11 reasons why you should travel to Laos right now

22 March 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source PICKVISA
Tuesday, 18 April 2023 10:55

Why 2023 is the year to visit Mongolia

Why 2023 is the year to visit Mongolia

Breanna Wilson
March 31, 2023

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

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

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

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

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A growing visa-free list

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

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

A new $650 million airport opens its doors

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

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

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

A modern new museum

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

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

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

Mongolia’s answer to Coachella

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

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

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

Celebrate Naadam as it turns the century

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

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

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

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

Try your hand at archery the Mongolian way

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

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

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

Learn about Mongolian calligraphy from a master

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

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

Ditch the horse for horsepower

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

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

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

Winter tours offer new insights

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

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

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

Scandinavian design hits Mongolia at Yeruu Lodge

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

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

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

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

The lodge is set to open in April 2023.

Additional Info

  • Source PICKVISA

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

These Are The Top 8 Trending Destinations This Year

Now that travel has returned, where are people going?

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

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

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

These Are The Top 8 Trending Destinations This Year:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hong Kong

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

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

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

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

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

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Saudi Arabia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

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

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

April 8, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source CTV

Family Travel Volunteer Trips
Jan 09, 2023

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

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

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

Does this organization….

…have a good reputation?

…respond promptly to your questions via email or phone?

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

…have multiple international locations from which to choose?

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

…allow their teams to share their faith during trips?

…support the trips in particular ways?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Faithful Parent

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

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

Mar 31, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Times of India

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


Travel gift ideas for women who love to explore

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

April 01, 2023
India TV
New Delhi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Additional Info

  • Source India TV

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

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

MARCH 26, 2023
Travel off Path

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Backpacker

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

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

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

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

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

The Solo Traveler

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

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

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

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

The Lux Seekers

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

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

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

The Digital Nomad

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

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

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

The Family Travelers

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

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

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

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

Everyone Else

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

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

The Most Popular And Tastiest Dishes From Cambodian Food

Slurrp Editorial
January 28, 2023

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

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

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Fish Amok (steamed coconut fish in banana leaves)

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

Twa Ko (Cambodian Sausage)

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

Kuy Teav

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

Nom Banh Chok (Khmer noodles)

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

Chicken and Banana Flower Salad

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

Bai Sach Chrouk (Grilled Pork and Broken Rice)

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

Beef Loc Lac

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

Kuy Teav (Noodle Soup)

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

Crab and pepper

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

Lok Lak (Stir-Fried beef in brown sauce)

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

Additional Info

  • Source Slurrp

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

12 Spring Traditions Around the World


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

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Edible Spring Traditions

Butter Lambs (Russia, Slovenia, Poland)

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

Chocolate Bilby (Australia)

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

Cimburijada (Bosnia)

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

Nowruz (Iran)

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

Spring Festivals

Holi (India)

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

Songkran (Thailand)

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

Spring Equinox at the Teotihuacan Pyramid (Mexico)

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

Flower Parade of the Bollenstreek (Holland)

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

Sham el Nessim (Egypt)

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

Spring Games and Activities

Martenitsa Bracelets (Bulgaria)

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

Egg Standing Game (China)

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

Pot Throwing (Greece)

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

Additional Info

  • Source Little Passports

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

What happens to your body on a long-haul flight

Tony Schiemer
March 7, 2023

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

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

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

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1. You can become dehydrated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. You could develop blood clots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In a nutshell

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 15 March 2023 08:57

Top tips for holidaying with young kids

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

Family travel: Top tips for holidaying with young kids

By Anna Sarjeant
1 Mar, 2023
New Zealand Herald

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

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Pre-departure flight tips

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

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

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

Packing tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the airport

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

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

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

On the plane

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

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

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

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


Additional Info

  • Source New Zealand Herald

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

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

MAR 1, 2023

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

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10 Bagan, Myanmar

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

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

9 Ephesus, Turkey

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

Date of construction: 10th century BC

8 Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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

Date of construction: 1110-1150 AD

7 Roman Forum And The Colosseum, Italy

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

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

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

6 Petra, Jordan

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

Date of construction: 312 BC

5 Stonehenge, United Kingdom

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

Date of construction: early 2500 BC

4 Chichen Itza, Mexico

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

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

Date of construction: early 400s AD

3 Acropolis Of Athens, Greece

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

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

Date of construction: 5th century BC

2 Tikal, Guatemala

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

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

Date of construction: By 600 BC

1 Machu Picchu, Peru

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

Additional Info

  • Source The Travel

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Self

March 5, 2023
By Joy Donovan

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

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

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

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

Doing Good in the World’s Neighborhood

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

GlobeAware Executive Director Kimberly Haley-Coleman

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

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

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

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

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

GlobeAware was born.

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

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

A Different Kind of Vacation for Mother and Son

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

Deb Young with her son Toby in Thailand

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

Credit: Deb Young
Credit: Deb Young

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

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

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

Toby Young

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

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

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

Working a World Away

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

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

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

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

Return on Investment

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Candy's Dirt

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

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

MARCH 3, 2023

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

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

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


Sisig wasn't always what it is today

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

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

Sisig was first made out pig scraps in the 1970s

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Tasting Table

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

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

By Charles Dunlap
Columbia Daily Tribune
March 5, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

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

I asked ChatGPT to help me plan a vacation

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


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

Monica Pitrelli
FEB 26 2023

Some people love travel planning.

But I am not one of those people.

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

But I’m skeptical too.

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

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

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

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

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‘Can you help me plan a beach trip?’

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

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

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

Nice. But I live in Singapore, I said.

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

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

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

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

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

In that case, I may want to consider:

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

All true.

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

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

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

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

Yet, the reviews missed the mark in several instances.

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

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

ChatGPT is nothing if not apologetic.

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

By road or by rail?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The list wasn’t correct. 

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

“Where should I eat?”

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

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

Where should I eat?

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

What are the best restaurants?

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

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

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

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

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

Specific questions

I had many more questions for ChatGPT, such as:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The takeaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source CNBC

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


5 Best places to explore in India this summer

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


Additional Info

  • Source India TV

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

TikTokers Are Shipping Their Clothes to Avoid Paying Airline Baggage Fees

Anything to avoid the checked bag fees.

By Opheli Garcia Lawler
February 2, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Thrillist

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


6 Sunny Destinations Trending On TikTok Right Now

Travel Off Path
February 18, 2023

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

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

Here are 6 Sunny Destinations Trending On TikTok Right Now

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Tenerife, Canary Islands

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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

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

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

Cancun, Mexico

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

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

Costa Rica

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Off Path

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

US pledges $85m for Turkey-Syria earthquake relief

February 10, 2023
By Max Matza

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

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

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

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

river 4873198 1920

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

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

An Update on Travel in Peru

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

An Update on Travel in Peru

FEBRUARY 09, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cruises along the Amazon continue to operate normally.

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Pulse

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

Couple leave ticketless baby at Israeli airport check-in

Lianne Kolirin
February 2, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source CNN
Wednesday, 08 February 2023 11:24

Jetlag and how to get over it

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


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

By Sally Ferguson
January 30, 2023

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

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

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

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What causes jetlag?

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

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

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

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

Jetlag isn’t the same for everyone

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

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

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

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

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

Does direction of travel matter?

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

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

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

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

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

Is jetlag just ‘psychological’?

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source Self
Friday, 03 February 2023 11:02

Tips to make traveling easier & worry-free

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


Top tips to make traveling easier & worry-free

January 22, 2023

Lately, travel hasn’t been easy.

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

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

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

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Protect your luggage

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

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

How to know exactly where it is at all times? Just get smart, like I finally have, and toss an Apple AirTag (https://www.apple.com/airtag) in any and all checked bags.

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

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

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

Pad your trip

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

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

Dress smart on the plane

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carry on all necessities

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source The Sun

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


Top 20 holiday destinations for Valentine’s Day 2023

By Kristin Mariano
Jan 25, 2023
Travel Daily

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

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



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The 20 most popular Valentines holiday destinations

1 Barcelona

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

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2 Milan

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

3 Paris

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

Additional Info

  • Source Travel Daily

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

Why you should travel with your kids more often

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

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

By Mansi Zaveri
January 22, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Info

  • Source mintlounge

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

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

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

January 19, 2023
By Jigyasa Sahay


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

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

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Sunset at Jal Mahal

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

Shopping Spree at Bappu Bazaar

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

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

Rajasthani culture At Chokhi Dhani

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

Explore Iconic Landmarks

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

Amer Fort- One of the enthralling things to do in Jaipur that outstands amongst the rest is an elephant ride at Amer Fort. With the large gateways and cobbled path, the fort looks mesmerizing. A light show conducted here every evening makes the fort a must-visit destination in Jaipur with your family.

Nahargarh Fort – People also prefer cycling to this grand fort. A stunning feature of this palace is the Madhavendra Bhawan that has 12 identical suites for the queens. The suites were constructed in such a way that the Maharaja could visit any of the queen’s rooms without the others finding out.

Galtaji Temple - The Galtaji temple is one of the best pilgrimage and prehistoric sites to witness in Jaipur. The walls of this temple are well decorated and attract tourists. This temple is constructed in a way that it looks like a Palace.

Unmissable Food At Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar

The LMB is one of the age-old city classic that has a legacy in Jaipur. Before you head out, make a pit stop at Laxmi Misthan Bhandar (LMB) to pick up boxes of the famous kachoris and ghevar.

So, plan your itinerary and get a wholesome experience in the pink city of Jaipur!

Additional Info

  • Source India.com

Happy Lunar New Year to our celebrating Globe Aware volunteers. Find out what the celebrations are all about and why they are held all over the world!

 Lunar New Year 2023: When is the holiday and what does the Year of the Rabbit represent?

Olivia Munson
Jan 9, 2023

For some, the new year is rung in on when the calendar turns from December 31 to January 1. But there are many others who celebrate the new year on a different day. The Lunar New Year is an international holiday celebrated in many Asian countries, but not all, and the United States even has its own celebrations.

Unlike western New Year's, the date of Lunar New Year changes depending on the year. But regardless of the date, each culture that celebrates the Lunar New Year has lasting customs, traditions and beliefs.

Globally, around two billion people celebrate the Lunar New Year. Here is what you need to know about the Lunar New Year in 2023: when it is, how long it is and what the Year of the Rabbit represents.

Jan. 22, 2023 marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year also known as the Chinese New Year

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When is Lunar New Year 2023?

Lunar New Year will be Jan. 22, 2023.

How long is Lunar New Year?

Unlike western New Year, Lunar New Year lasts longer than one day. The amount of celebration days depends on the culture. Some observances are longer than others.

The Lunar New Year is based on a different calendar than the Gregorian calendar, which many western countries, including the U.S., use. The calendar is based on the moon's 12 phases. Each phase lasts about 29 days, and the full calendar is around 354 days long.

In China, Lunar New Year lasts from the new moon to the next full moon. This is a fifteen day span until the fifth day of the lunar month, said Xiaoquan Raphael Zhang, director of the Chinese program at American University.

In 2023, Lunar New Year begins on Sunday, January 22 and ends on Sunday, February 5.

The first day of Lunar New Year is called the Spring Festival, and the final day is the Lantern Festival in Chinese culture, said Zhang.

Who celebrates Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year is celebrated throughout many Asian cultures, Zhang said. Among those are Chinese, South Korean, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Filipino and Indonesian culture.

Additionally, each has its own name for New Year. For example, in South Korea, Lunar New Year is called Seollal. In Vietnam, Lunar New Year is called Tết, short for Tết Nguyên Đán.

The number of celebration days also varies depending on the country. In South Korea, Seollal usually lasts for three days, while in China, Lunar New Year spans 15 days. In Vietnam, Tết Nguyên Đán is a week long.

Each country has its own name for Lunar New Year. In Vietnam, Lunar New Year is called Tết, short for Tết Nguyên Đán.

What does Lunar New Year signify?

Similar to how people celebrate December 31 and January 1 each year, Lunar New Year represents letting go of the past year to bring in the new one and all its possibilities.

"This is a big celebration," said Zhang. "Saying goodbye to the past year to pass and also welcome in the new year; peace, abundance and also prosperity."

Another key aspect to Lunar New Year is community. Families will come together to eat feasts and practice cultural customs.

For instance, people will clean their homes to get rid of the bad luck from the previous year. In China, there is a tradition to eat fish, as it is a sign of good luck and abundance, Zhang said. But the fish is not finished since the leftovers are said to provide extra money, savings or surplus for the new year.

It also important for families for pay respects to the older generations. Likewise, elders will give to the younger generations for health and progress into the new year. In many cultures, younger people will receive red envelopes with money.

"They want to give out and show their kindness to the young generation," said Zhang.

"This family reunion that signifies peace, abundance, prosperity also carries people (who are) waiting for the whole community, for the whole country, to be peaceful."

What does the Year of the Rabbit represent?

In the Chinese Zodiac, there are 12 animals; each with its own attributes and characteristics. These 12 animals coincide with the lunar calendar and fall in a 12-year cycle.

The order of the Chinese Zodiac is:

  1. Rat
  2. Ox
  3. Tiger
  4. Rabbit (in Vietnam, the rabbit is replaced by cat)
  5. Dragon
  6. Snake
  7. Horse
  8. Goat
  9. Monkey
  10. Rooster
  11. Dog
  12. Pig

Last year, 2022, was represented by the tiger, which is commonly associated with bravery, courage and strength. This year, 2023, will be the year of the rabbit.

"People believe that the people born in that year will carry some of the nature or the property of these animals," said Zhang.

For the rabbit, people born in its year are seen as caring, attentive to details and likely to follow rules, he said. They are also said to be successful in their careers and good at making friends.


Additional Info

  • Source USAToday
Thursday, 19 January 2023 10:16

Now is the time to book travel for 2023

Many Globe Aware volunteers are still recovering from holiday travel, but now is the time to book your 2023 volunteer vacation! See what tips you could follow to help book your flights for cheaper.

Now is the time to book travel for 2023

Many Texas families are still recovering from holiday travel disasters, but now is the time to book your travel for 2023.

By Niccole Caan
January 10, 2023

SAN ANTONIO — There are perks to traveling off-peak.

“It’s a sneaky good time to always find a great deal,” said Katy Nastro of Scott’s Cheap Flights.

You can find cheap flights for this month and next. Look at these flight fares available now:

“San Antonio over to Hawaii, you can get a round trip ticket for $399,” Nastro said. “That’s roundtrip on a full-service domestic airline, which is fantastic. So maybe you want to take advantage of winter weather outdoor activities. You could go from San Antonio to Denver, hit the slopes, for $155 roundtrip, again on a full-service domestic airline like Delta, American, or United. Then maybe you want to head outside of the country. I just recently did a search and found San Antonio to Madrid $583 roundtrip.”

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Plus, now is the time to start planning and booking spring break travel.

“Flights are only going to get more expensive. If you find a deal, you need to jump on it right now,” said Clint Henderson with the travel website The Points Guy. “But here’s the thing, don’t immediately book your flights, but set a Google alert. Just do some price comparison.”

Use Google Flights to find fares and set an alert to track the price. Also, adjust the days you plan to travel. Try this trick:

“Traveling on a Tuesday or Wednesday and a Saturday are potentially always cheaper,” Nastro said. “You’re going to find you’ll have a better chance of finding a better price on those days and traveling between those days just because Mondays and Fridays are actually considered business traveler days.”

Nastro said the “Goldilocks Window” to book a flight to find the best price is three to seven months for domestic fares and four to 10 months for international flights.

Next, book not just your flight but a full vacation package through the airline for a deal.

“You combine the airfare with the hotel whenever you’re going for savings as much as 40% off,” Henderson said. “There’s some real big savings to be had by booking vacation packages.”

Consider only taking a carry-on bag on your flight to further save. Plus, continue tracking the price of your flight even after you buy it.

“If it does in fact decrease in price, you can always call the airline, cancel your ticket, get a credit, and then rebook that same flight at that new price because you’re doing it within the hour,” Nastro said.

She said that if you do cancel and rebook a flight at a lower price, it is essential you do it within an hour so the price does not change.

Both Henderson and Nastro said to look at using any loyalty points toward your flight.

“We tend to forget that we have these (points) accrued,” Nastro said. “It doesn’t hurt to just check that and see if you can save there.”

“Use points and miles you’ve been hoarding during the pandemic,” Henderson said. “We’ve already seen, this year, devaluation of some of the loyalty programs. So those points, those miles you’ve accumulated, they only go down in value. If you’re seeing high cash fares and you have a points balance, now is the time to cash those points in.”

Another place to find serious savings is on the seas. You can save 20-40% on a trip by taking a cruise.

“It’s sort of the last area of the travel industry to recover and they still need to fill those ships, which they sometimes still have trouble doing,” Henderson said.

A flight or cruise may not be in the budget, but you can still save.

“It’s actually a great time to check out activities and even get great prices on hotels and rental cars and all of the things that really involve taking a trip just because it is a low season,” Nastro said.

That means low prices for any trip near or far.

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  • Source KENS5
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