Do you have a travel bucket list? These days, more people are dreaming about travel than actually traveling. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep adding places to your travel bucket list. Lonely Planet has just released its second “Ultimate Travel List,” which ranks what its editors describe as the world’s top 500 “most thrilling, memorable downright interesting places on this planet.” Let’s just say that it’s a bucket list to end all bucket lists.
In order to determine the best places around the world, Lonely Planet created a comprehensive list featuring each attraction and sight recommended by its authors in its guidebooks over the years. That was then whittled down to a shortlist, and everyone in the Lonely Planet community was then asked to vote on their top 20. Each entry ended up with a score that was used to create the definitive ranking of the world’s top 500 places, which has been released both online and as a book.
According to Piers Pickard, VP of publishing, Lonely Planet changed the way it calculated its travel bucket list in 2020 (the last Ultimate Travel List came out in 2015). “For this edition, we awarded extra points to destinations and attractions that are managing tourism sustainably,” says Pickard.
Perfect for a moment when people are craving the outdoors more than ever, this year’s list included a number of natural locations. Nine U.S. national parks make the cut, with three in the top 20 overall list, including Yellowstone National Park (#5), Grand Canyon National Park (#13) and Yosemite National Park (#20).
U.S. cultural and art institutions were also featured, with notable entries such as The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. (#105 overall) and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum (#418 overall) ranking among the world’s best places to travel.
And the timing really couldn’t be better. “After seven months of staying at home, now’s the perfect time to start thinking about where and how to travel once normality returns,” says Pickard.
Read on for Lonely Planet’s ranking of the top 10 places around the world, followed by the top 29 places in the United States.
Note: Should you decide to plan a trip anywhere during the coronavirus pandemic, you should check local travel restrictions for the destination you are hoping to visit and consider warnings from the State Department and CDC. Travelers should also consider risk factors like age and existing health issues before going on a trip and take precautions to keep themselves and others safe.
Ranked: Top 10 Places Around the World
Petra, Jordan: The red sandstone “lost city” that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador: Destination that changed the course of science and is home to some of the rarest animals on the planet, from ancient tortoises to blue-footed boobies.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia: Down Under’s most sacred landmark (also known as Ayer’s Rock).
Okavango Delta, Botswana: A sprawling flooded ecosystem in Africa where you can experience the best of slow travel.
Yellowstone National Park, United States: The world’s largest geothermal area; home to geysers and grizzlies.
Lake Bled, Slovenia: A photogenic lake that has been visited over the years by religious pilgrims and royalty.
Iguazú Falls, Argentina/Brazil: A powerful waterfall that is actually made up of 275 waterfalls.
Temples of Angkor, Cambodia: A sprawling series of temples in the jungle that Lonely Planet calls “a monument to human ingenuity.”
Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia: The world’s biggest salt flat, which becomes a giant mirrored illusion after it rains.
Annapurna Circuit, Nepal: The ultimate trek to picturesque teahouses and high-altitude overlooks.
Ranked: Top 29 Places in the U.S.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho (#5 on the overall list)
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (#13 overall)
Yosemite National Park, California (#20 overall)
Redwood National and State Parks, California (#49 overall)
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco (#60 overall)
Monument Valley, Arizona (#64 overall)
Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii (#75 overall)
National Museum of African American History & Culture, Washington D.C. (#105 overall)
Denali, Alaska (#121 overall)
French Quarter, New Orleans, (#138 overall)
Death Valley, California (#149 overall)
Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando (#188 overall)
Empire State Building, New York City (#200 overall)
Mesa Verde, Colorado (#220 overall)
Taos Pueblo, New Mexico (#233 overall)
The Strip, Las Vegas (#236 overall)
The National Mall, Washington D.C. (#287 overall)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (#295 overall)
National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum, New York City (#316 overall)
Pike Place, Seattle (#343 overall)
Independence National Historic Park, Philadelphia (#376 overall)
Statue of Liberty & Staten Island, New York (#387 overall)
Acadia National Park, Maine (#393 overall)
Art Institute of Chicago (#407 overall)
Walt Disney World, Orlando (#410 overall)
Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Jackson (#418 overall)
Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles (#420 overall)
Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts (#430 overall)
I’m a travel and lifestyle authority and a content strategist who works with brands to create powerful storytelling. In this column, “Transformative Travel,” I look at how travel can change women’s lives. I profile the doers and the disrupters and cover the trends and the destinations that appeal to women today. I have been writing about travel since the early days of my career, when I started off as a honeymoon editor, even though — ironically — I was single at the time. Since then, I have written for a number of publications, including Food & Wine, Wallpaper and The New York Times. I have been the editor-in-chief of Yahoo Travel, which was named the top online travel magazine under my leadership. Before that, I was deputy editor of Travel & Leisure. Throughout my career, I have appeared regularly on television, including Good Morning America and NBC Today. Journalism is part of my heritage: My great great grandfather was a Civil War correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Follow me on Twitter (@laurabegley) and Instagram (@laurabegleybloom).
United Airlines is getting rid of change fees on domestic flights, as a measure to give passengers more flexibility with scheduling during the current coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday, August 30, the Chicago-based airline announced that it will permanently let customers change flights for free on all of its standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets for travel within the United States, effective immediately.
The new policy is applicable on these types of tickets for travel within all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It is said in a media release that customers will not be limited in the number of times they adjust their flights.
This move by United is said to be in response to a top request from passengers.
“When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, in a video message. “Following previous tough times, airlines made difficult decisions to survive, sometimes at the expense of customer service. United Airlines won’t be following that same playbook as we come out of this crisis. Instead, we’re taking a completely different approach – and looking at new ways to serve our customers better.”
Flying on Standby for Free
Starting next year, United will enable passengers additionally to change their flights at no additional cost in another way — same-day standby.
Beginning on January 1, 2021, United customers can choose to add themselves to the standby list for free to travel on a different flight earlier or later on the same day as their original departure. If a seat opens up, they will be able to take that other flight instead.
United’s previous flight switch fee for domestic U.S. travel was $200, and the fee to be listed for standby travel was $75; however, the carrier’s Basic Economy cabin is not included in this new policy but with the pandemic its change fees have been waved.
Southwest Airlines has preceded United in not charging change fees, even before the pandemic hit.
Extending More Waivers
United is also extending its waiver for new tickets issued through the end of 2020, to permit unlimited changes with no fee and applying to both domestic and international ticket types issued after March 3, 2020.
For MilagePlus members, United will waive all redeposit fees on award travel for flights changed or cancelled more than 30 days before departure and allowing all MileagePlus Premier members to confirm a different flight on the day of their travel. On January 1, all Premier members will be able to confirm a seat for free on a different flight with the same departure and arrival cities as their original ticket. This expanded option will allow MileagePlus Silver members and above to confirm a new seat in the same ticket fare class if space is available.
Four wheels, the open road and a place to crash every single night beneath the stars—that’s the dream of vanlife. Though adventurous pavement pounders have been camping in vans for decades, an explosion of ultra-modern vans equipped with everything needed to live and work remotely has made vanlife more popular than ever.
Outdoor adventure photographer Christian Schaffer should know. For more than two years, she’s been traveling the country in a customized Dodge Ram ProMaster van in order to be closer to her work. But life as a solo, female traveler has more obstacles than flat tires and frugal storage space. To find out how female travelers can handle the dangers associated with solo travel and living out of a vehicle, I sat down with Schaffer to discuss the reality of #vanlife and the systems she’s developed to stay safe in the wild.
Joe Sills: How long have you been living on the road?
Christian Schaffer: I’ve been living on the road since May 2018.
Joe Sills: Vanlife isn’t a vacation for you, it’s a permanent lifestyle. What went into your decision to live vanlife full-time?
Christian Schaffer: My road to vanlife began as an experiment. I spent the summer of 2018 living out of my Nissan Xterra SUV—just to see if I could handle living on the road. Summer turned into a full year, and that’s when I decided to invest in a vehicle that would allow me to continue living on the road, but with a few more creature comforts.
I’m a minimalist in a lot of ways, and one thing I really appreciate about this lifestyle is the simplicity of owning less, and making space for new experiences. I also make a full-time income as an outdoor adventure photographer, and living on the road allows me the freedom to base around the parks and beautiful places I need to be for photo assignments.
Joe Sills: Are there any areas that you specifically find yourself camping in more often than others?
Christian Schaffer: I tend to camp on Bureau of Land Management & National Forest land most often—mainly so I am near trailheads and can get an early start on sunrise hikes. I avoid cities whenever possible—but there are times when I need to do laundry, shop for groceries, have a steady stream of WiFi, etc. In those cases, a few options are Wal-Mart parking lots, rest areas, paid campgrounds, or residential neighborhoods. I think wherever you park, it’s important to be respectful and mindful of the people in that community and how your presence affects them. Especially now that we’re in pandemic times.
Joe Sills: What resources can people use to find campsites?
Joe Sills:What are some signs that solo, female travelers should watch out for to spot possible trouble?
Christian Schaffer: Great question. I think a level of awareness at all times is your biggest asset as a solo female traveler. Situations can change quickly—and like most things in life—anything is possible. That said, there are a few red flags I’ve learned to look out for.
First, any sign of illegal drug use/commerce or extreme intoxication. This is unfortunately pretty common in urban areas, and I’ve had to relocate more than once because of it. Second, avoid high theft areas when possible. Some places will have signs to alert you, and in other instances it will be clear enough. I recently had to relocate from a campsite because I showed up and there were piles of glass from smashed car windows in three different spots. Finally, have a healthy suspicion of anyone who approaches you and asks intrusive questions that could potentially make you a target. Most people have good intentions, but not always.
Joe Sills:How do you react when you see one of those signs?
Christian Schaffer: For the most part, I just remove myself from those situations. That’s one major benefit of living in a vehicle—if you have creepy neighbors you can just drive away!
Learn more Vanlife safety tips in Schaffer’s video, below:
Joe Sills: You talk pretty seriously about weapons and scenario visualizations in your YouTube video. Why is it important to have a plan?
Christian Schaffer: For me personally, it really helps to visualize and think through those scenarios. Not only does it prepare me for that particular circumstance, it also gets me thinking of potential outcomes in real time whenever I do feel threatened or unsafe. I like to think of personal defense the same way I think of avalanche safety — you can carry all the fancy gear with you into the mountains but if an avalanche hits — do you know how to use that gear? Because someone’s life might depend on it.
Joe Sills:In general, do you feel safe living life on the road?
Christian Schaffer: Yes, absolutely. There are risks and uncertainties for sure, but at this point in my journey, I don’t feel any less safe living in a vehicle than I would in an apartment or cabin in the woods. It’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience and I would recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing (or even just trying out) this way of life.
I’m an explorer, adventurer and freelance travel writer who kicked off my career with a solo, cross-country road trip of America in a tent. I’ve charbroiled gas station burritos over an open fire in Utah and cooked with a Swedish countess in a medieval castle. I’ve shared the table of a Chinese billionaire in a subterranean research facility and sumitted the ruins of Vlad Dracula’s mountain fortress in Romania. I bring true tales of travel and adventure to light as the host of The Get Lost Podcast. In addition to Forbes, my work has appeared in publications that include National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Travel Channel and Fodor’s Travel. Follow me on Instagram for updates @joesills or visit my blog, Souled Outside.
Travel curbs and border restrictions are upending lives around the globe, with some people resorting to chartering planes on their own or paying many times the regular ticket price to get back to their jobs and homes.
Eight months into the pandemic, the push to normalize is seeing some try to travel internationally again, whether for a long-delayed but essential business trip or to return to where they live. Yet with global coronavirus cases surpassing 18 million and rising, airlines are only reluctantly adding flights to their bare-bones schedules, and virus resurgences have some countries imposing new travel rules.
The flight paralysis underscores how deep and lasting the pandemic’s damage is proving to be. The number of international flights to the U.S., Australia and Japan has fallen more than 80% from a year ago, while flights to China are down by more than 94%, according to aviation industry database Cirium.
Travelers have to be creative just to get on a plane. Support groups have sprung up on Facebook and Wechat for those who have been stuck thousands of miles from their jobs, homes and families. Unable to get tickets, some are attempting to organize private chartered flights, while travel agents say they’re having to bribe airlines for limited seats. Others are shelling out for business or first-class tickets, only to be turned away for lack of the right documentation.
“So many people with families are separated, it’s so heart-breaking,” said Ariel Lee, a mother in Shanghai who administers a few Wechat groups of 1,650 members in total trying to get into China. “The toughest part is there are no clear guidelines and there’s no end date to this.”
The hopeful talk of travel corridors and a summer recovery have faded away among airline industry experts, replaced by a consensus that global travel will not effectively re-start before a vaccine is found.
“We are not going to see a material recovery for international travel in the near future,” said Steven Kwok, associate partner of OC&C Strategy Consultants Ltd. “The pandemic also brings about a consequential impact beyond the virus outbreak –- it is causing a slowdown in the global economy, which will hurt travel appetite for a longer term.”
Chris Wells had been stuck in his hometown in Texas for half a year, eagerly looking to return to Guangzhou, a city in southern China where he’s been living and working for more than a decade. International travel to China has been severely limited by the government to stem imported infections, and any seats on flights are snatched up almost instantly.
Wells, 41, a manager in an international sourcing company, searched and searched for a ticket. The only one he could find: an $8,800 one-way, first-class flight from Chicago to Shanghai, via Zurich.
“It was the only seat available,” he said. “I’d normally never pay that much for a ticket, but I was desperate to get back so I grabbed the seat when I found it.”
Cherry Lin, a Shanghai-based travel agent, said her company is having to pay kickbacks to airlines — more than 10,000 yuan ($1,438) per seat — to get tickets on popular routes like those departing from the U.S. and U.K. that they can then sell to customers.
The flight or passenger cap set by many countries largely limits seats, pushing fares up — a ticket for a direct flight from London to Shanghai is currently going for about $5,000, said Lin, but those are quickly purchased.
Additional seats are likely to pop up this month as more airlines resume flights, “but still not enough that everyone can easily buy online,” she said.
Jessica Cutrera, 44, an American who has lived in Hong Kong for more than a decade, was looking to return to the Asian financial center last month when the city suddenly required a negative virus test for passengers coming from high-risk countries including the U.S. She had to show results from a test taken within 72 hours before boarding and fulfill a requirement that travelers present a letter — signed by a government official — verifying that the lab is accredited.
Getting test results within 72 hours was hard enough given that testing is so backed up in the U.S that results usually aren’t available before a week. Then there was the required letter. “I called everybody I could find,” she said. “Most offices and agencies said no, it didn’t make sense to them to sign such a letter.”
Eventually, someone in California agreed to sign. So Cutrera flew from Louisville, Kentucky, to Chicago, and then to Los Angeles, where she had the test done. A few days later, she was allowed to board her flight to Hong Kong, while others trying to get on the same plane were turned away as they didn’t have the proper paperwork.
Cutrera is proving to be one of the lucky ones, as many continue to be in limbo.
Lucy Parakhina, a 33-year-old Australian photographer, had decided to stay in London, where she has lived for two years.
But in June, she started to plan a return trip when her U.K. work visa expired. Though she managed to buy a one-way ticket from London to Sydney for less than 700 pounds ($922) with Qatar Airways, she was bumped from her flight and told it was postponed.
She already left her job in London and gave up her apartment, and won’t have income to stay in the U.K. beyond September. But with a virus resurgence in Australia showing no signs of ebbing and international flights down by 92% to the country, she’s likely stuck for a while.
“Now the only thing I can do is to wait for the easing policies and my flight to depart as planned,” she said.
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Didier and Marina Monteil fled Paris several years ago to buy a stone farmhouse where director Roger Vadim and his then-wife Jane Fonda once filmed “La Curée” (“The Game is Over”) in the 1960s. After the couple painstakingly transformed it into a thriving Bed & Breakfast, it gained a national reputation thanks to the vintage décor of its rooms and traditional dinners such as a hearty daube stew and pintade.
When the global pandemic gutted their spring business, the couple used the time to renovate a new guest room. Financial support from the national and local governments softened the economic blow. And with the summer approaching, Didier Monteil cautiously notes that his reservations for July and August are almost fully booked.
D’Orride is no doubt even more attractive these days thanks to its setting in a rural region barely impacted by the coronavirus. But Monteil is also pleased with the national campaign that lies at the center of efforts to resuscitate the nation’s tourism industry: Getting the French to explore France. Following cancellations by English and American guests, he said the rooms have been taken primarily by his fellow countrymen, along with Belgians and Germans.
Those guests will still be asked to follow some new rules such as using hand gel before entering rooms and maintaining distances with other families. He is slightly concerned that tourists circulating throughout France and arriving from outside its borders could provoke the dreaded second wave.
Beyond that, he knows many of his colleagues in the tourism industry have yet to see bookings resume. And so Monteil is uncertain if the country is really on the road to economic recovery or if an even greater shock is coming.
“We do not have much to complain about ourselves,” he said. “But there may be a wave of unemployment in the coming months and a social crisis which will undoubtedly be more serious than the health crisis.”
A Tourism ‘Marshall Plan’
This is the precipice on which France finds itself as the school-year finished last week. July 6 marks the start of the summer vacation season. While the pandemic brought the global tourism industry to a grinding halt, that seismic event hit France particularly hard. Now, as the pandemic recedes in much of Europe, the country that loves to boast about being the most visited nation is serving as a microcosm for how the tourism industry hopes to recover and reinvent itself.
France’s tourism industry is a vast political and economic machine that stretches from the heights of icons like the Eiffel Tower down into the tiniest corners of villages and the countryside where entire local economies depend on the annual flux of tourists to support artisans, restaurants, and recreational businesses. French governments spend vast sums every year restoring historic sites and promoting their destinations through campaigns designed by local tourism boards to attract those critical visitors.
To understand just deeply coronavirus turned those plans upside down, consider that France welcomed 89.4 million tourists in 2018. The country had set a target of 100 million international tourists for 2020, a goal that has been obliterated.
With those ambitious plans gutted, survival is now the theme. To resuscitate this sector, the French government announced a “Marshall Plan” on May 14 with €18 billion ($20.3 billion) in support. “Tourism faces the worst ordeal in modern history,” said then Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at a press conference. “Its rescue is a national priority.”
The package includes a mix of direct financial support, loan guarantees, extended unemployment benefits, and tax benefits to keep tourism companies afloat. At the regional and local levels, other governments are also rolling out additional financial benefit packages.
The national government also added some incentives for visitors to spend money, such as expanding the program under which employees receive vouchers to spend at restaurants. To make travelers feel safe, the government has developed a series of health standards for hotels and restaurants. And cancellation policies are encouraged to be generous, to lower the risk of booking a trip.
But at the heart of this rescue attempt is a campaign to get the French traveling within their own country. While the country is opening its borders again to many European nations, the expectations remain low for the number of international visitors this summer. Instead, a nationwide publicity campaign dubbed, “Cet été, je visite la France” (This summer, I visit France) launched last month.
The goal is to do whatever it takes to get the French out of their homes and going somewhere.
“The 9 million who usually go abroad, they’re going to rediscover France,” said Stéphane Villain, president of ADN Tourism, an association of French tourism boards that created a new interactive map to make it easier for travelers to know what destinations have reopened.
The call to arms envisages one supreme goal. France was number one in tourism before the pandemic. When this crisis finally ends, it wants to still claim that top spot. But in doing so, the nation’s tourism industry is trying to take this moment to transform itself by emphasizing so-called “slow travel,” and local journeys that reduce environmental impact and prepare the industry for a world where such pandemics could become increasingly common.
Pascale Fontenel-Personne, a National Assembly representative from Sarthe who co-chairs the legislature’s tourism advisory committee, said it’s critical to assume the world won’t have a vaccine for a long time. That means reshaping an industry to live in a world very different than before in a way that can still be profitable.
“Tourism is essential for the economy in France,” said “That economy has been based on tourism in large masses and many have focused on foreign visitors. We must build a new foundation. The tourism of proximity is the future.”
The Saône-et-Loire Department, located east of Paris in the Burgundy region, is running ads on a popular evening French news and comedy program called Quotidien. The department is also placing posters in the Paris subway and engaging a PR agency to convince reporters to come to the area to write reviews.
“Our ambition?” the department wrote in a strategy document for its local tourism business. “Bring in as many tourists as possible (families, seniors, athletes, cycling enthusiasts, gourmets …), who are potential future residents of Saône-et-Loire, by making the best of a bad situation with an original communication campaign.”
The Tarn Department, located east of Toulouse, has developed a series of discounts with local inns and restaurants. Périgord, in the Dordogne region, is known as a capital of foie gras and has launched a #cetetejevisiteleperigord campaign while advising its local businesses to emphasize outdoor activities because tourists want to “travel in safety and avoid large crowds.”
In Haute Garonne, the tourism board is even more narrowly focused on getting local residents to get out and explore their department. “Get away and stay in Haute Garonne” is the rallying cry. A support package of €3.5 million ($3.95 million) includes a gift card (“Carnet de voyages en Haute-Garonne”) for local residents who can be reimbursed as much as €31 if they visit at least 3 of its 270 tourism partners, including restaurants, hotels, and attractions.
On the western edge of France, the Charente and the Charente-Maritime Departments are working together to attract visitors. This is the region where the ADN’s Villain is from and it boasts such destinations as the coastal city of La Rochelle, the city of Angouleme which is France’s comic book capital, and Cognac.
Villain said the departments’ strategy includes an expanded “chèques vacances” program. Typically, these are checks given by corporations to employees to spend on vacations. The Charente departments will offer any visitor a €100 rebate on the money they spend at participating restaurants, inns, or attractions if they stay a minimum of two nights.
The region also launched a new mobile website to help visitors navigate the region’s offerings more efficiently. And it is picking up the theme of the great outdoors, in particular by emphasizing its extensive biking routes. Villain said tourists who come on bikes tend to stay longer and spend more money each day on local businesses.
“The people are going to consume France differently,” Villain said. “The world needs slow tourism.”
The Occitanie Region covers a territory that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to Gascony and includes the Pyrenées Mountains, Toulouse, Montpellier, Carcassonne, and its famed fortress, and the Cevennes. As part of an €80 million financial support package, the regional government’s promotional campaign (Cet été, je visite ici en Occitanie!) includes a kind of crowdfunding campaign to “save our local commerces.” Travelers can select from a host of promotional deals, from camping to yoga classes. When they pay in advance, the region finds sponsors to chip in some extra money for the businesses.
The region has also drastically reduced regional train fares. Occitanie President Carole Delga has been lobbying the private companies that manage French highways to eliminate their tolls this summer. And the region has created its own discount card, dubbed “Occ’Ygène”, that will offer savings to everyone, but also includes additional support for lower-income families.
Vincent Garel, president of Occitanie’s regional tourism committee, said the government can’t undo all of the economic damage done by the coronavirus. But it is firmly committed to helping rebuild.
“Since March, this industry went to zero and everything was closed,” Garel said. “They can’t make that up. And this summer, there will still be fewer tourists. But we need to prepare for the future. There are new clients to find and we must help them take their vacations.”
Unfortunately, all of that promotion and aid wasn’t enough to convince Renée Jacobs and her partner, Wendy Hicks, to reopen their B&B this season. Three years ago, Jacobs, an internationally renowned photographer of female nudes, and Hicks, who is also her business partner, left behind the Los Angeles area and bought a house in Haut-Languedoc Regional Park. Over the last couple of years, the Maison des Rêves has hosted private photography workshops in the spring and fall. The luxury Moroccan décor inside made it popular during the summer months for tourists.
But the couple has had to postpone one workshop, they had some exhibitions canceled, and had booking cancellations. Fortunately, they had some ongoing income from sales of Jacobs’ prints. And the government financial support has helped in the short-term.”
“They offered €1500 per business, that basically covered the losses for a month,” Hicks said. “The problem is if you’re allowed to be open, they’re less generous.”
And that is indeed the problem they face. The house’s location should make it perfect for those hungry for a rural trip, with easy access to outdoor activities such as biking. But the sanitation requirements felt too overwhelming for them to manage. How do they clean the rooms and the common areas as guests check-in and out? Plus, they live in the house and worried about constantly being exposed to a stream of strangers.
So, they made the difficult choice to remain closed this season.
“In terms of the finances, I think I’m going to give us 4 or 5 months before really freaking out,” Jacobs said. “And then we’ll decide how freaked out how we need to be.”
Brave new travel world
Whether it’s hosts or tourists, nothing is going to look quite the same this summer. On a recent weekend in Occitanie’s Najac, a Medieval town in the Aveyron Department that is labeled one of France’s “most beautiful villages,” a small number of tourists wandered the cobblestone streets.
At the Bar De La Plage, the owners had removed all menus and replaced them with QR codes on the tables. Customers scan the code and it takes them to a menu on their smartphones.
Across town, Najac’s signature site is its 12th-century Royal Fortress. Only one group could enter the ticket office a time. Visitors were told wearing masks inside would be required. For those who didn’t have their own, the young man selling tickets gently grabbed a mask using a pair of tweezers and handed it to them. Brochures had been removed and replaced with QR codes that visitors could scan to launch explanatory videos on YouTube.
Inside the castle, playful signs used Medieval themes to remind visitors to maintain a distance of “one épée.” Other signs with arrows detailed a path for everyone to follow to avoid crossing others. And hand gel stations had been placed throughout the castle.
Further south in the Occitanie region, the Pic du Midi observatory, perched high in the Pyrénées, has also been busy preparing for the summer season by training staff on new hygiene measures. Because it had already planned to close for some weeks this spring for renovations, the site that has an inn, restaurant, and theater only lost about €1 million, according to director Daniel Soucaze des Soucaze.
Reservations for those rooms and the restaurant have been strong. But this summer will still be tough. The Pic du Midi won’t be able to hold a series of special events that typically draw strong crowds. And the number of people who can enter at the same time and visit the observation deck will be restricted and tickets must be booked in advance. As such, Soucaze des Soucaze said he won’t higher the 25 season workers he would typically bring on.
“We have to economize,” he said. “We hope to relaunch those events next year. We’ll have to ask our staff to work a bit harder this summer, but I think they understand. And we’ll try to move on from this difficult period.”
Darren Kennedy, the Sales and Marketing Director of the Chateau St Pierre de Serjac, is feeling even upbeat after several months of difficult work to reinvent his luxury property. Located in the Languedoc region of the Hérault Department, the castle is nestled among rolling fields and vineyards. It has 8 rooms inside as well as 36 villas scattered around the grounds. Visitors could choose to eat in the main castle restaurant or could opt to remain self-contained on their little corner of the property.
France’s generous unemployment system allowed Kennedy to furlough most employees while they received most of their salary, and then bring them quickly back to work after the nation’s lockdown ended. During that period, there were regular video calls to plan such things as a new marketing strategy.
“Some hotels seemed to have completely mothballed their properties,” he said. “Their social media was dormant. We took the decision quite early that would be in a better position than most because our property is different.”
Normally the property is booked far advance, particularly with large groups of business clients organizing events. But with international travel limited or uncertain, Kennedy set his sights on a clientele who tend to visit less frequently in the summer: The French.
“We’ve never really had to rely on the French market in July and August,” Kennedy said.
“Be we decided that we were going to have to appeal to the domestic market and try to get our communications started.”
He began advertising with more French newspapers, dropped the cancellation window from 60 days to 7 days, and began working with more travel agents. His timing appeared to be good. Reservations for August are on track to match last year while July is down about 35%.
In addition to more French guests, he’s also seeing bookings from Belgium and Germany. Meanwhile, he’s been trying to persuade British guests not to cancel and hoping that the opening of travel with the U.K. could yet result in additional reservations for July.
When those guests arrive, they’ll find the reception desk behind plexiglass, all paper brochures and guest books removed, the daily menu on a chalkboard, staff wearing masks at all times, lots of gel, a cleaning team using bio-misters to sanitize rooms, and digital thermometers if necessary.
“We’re doing everything we possibly can,” Kennedy said. “We feel that we’re probably pretty well prepared. There’s always going to be an element of risk with other countries coming in. But you have to make sure as a business you can adapt. And right now, that’s what we’re doing.”
I am an American journalist based in Toulouse, France, writing about technology, travel, culture, politics, and entertainment. Before moving to France in 2014, I spent 15 years covering Silicon Valley for the Los Angeles Times and The San Jose Mercury News. I also run the French Crossroads travel website.
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According to the Daily Telegraph, the U.K. government is about to release a list of 75 countries with whom travel will be allowed, quarantine-free, meaning that it has decided to get rid of the idea of allowing travel through ‘air bridges’.
The list is due to be published today or tomorrow and will lift the foreign office ban on non-essential travel to many countries. It is understood that these countries will include all EU destinations, all British territories, such as Bermuda and Gibraltar, and Australia and New Zealand. Turkey and Thailand are also thought to be on the list.
Travelers arriving back into the U.K. after visiting these countries will no longer have to quarantine for two weeks upon their return. The 75 countries have been decided based upon their low rates of Covid-19.The list of air bridge countries was expected 2 July, to begin 6 July, but it appears the government has scrapped the plan–deemed confusing by travel agents–in favour of quarantine-free travel.
However, whilst the U.K. is lifting quarantine on 75 destinations, U.K. arrivals in these destinations will still be subject to individual border controls and requirements.Ryanair began flying from the U.K. on 1 July to EU destinations, reporting that planes were 67% full. It seems that holidaymakers from the U.K. decided to take the risk that the quarantine would be finished upon their return, or that they would face the consequences when they returned.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, told The Telegraph that “it’s quite clear that British families going on holidays have decided, one, either the quarantine will be removed before they come home, or two, they will fill in the form and then just go about their normal lives.”
Britons will be able to go on summer holidays abroad as the government prepares to announce that people travelling to certain countries will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon returning to the UK. Ministers are poised to clear the way for trips to France, Greece and Spain after confirming the quarantine measures would be changed at Monday’s review. Officials will replace existing rules with a traffic light system that will see countries placed into green, amber and red categories based on the prevalence of coronavirus in each.
Based on six islands that bring the best of Europe to Dubai, The Heart of Europe is located 2 miles from the coast of Dubai and will offer up a variety of European cultural, dining, and hospitality experiences across resorts, cafés, bars, boutiques, and entertainment. Kleindienst Group developed the $5 billion master-planned tourism island destination that came a long way since its original concept was launched in 2008.
The Covid-19 outbreak may have stopped business on the mainland, but the Heart of Europe islands continued work at an aggressive pace with a goal to open Phase 1 by the end of 2020.
The development will offer “world’s first” attractions such as; the First Underwater Hotel with Gym and Spa, the First Dedicated Wedding Hotel, the World’s First Artificial Rainy Street, the First Floating and Underwater Living Experience and the World’s First Outdoor Snow Plaza.
Phase One opening of The Heart of Europe consists of, Sweden Beach Palaces, Germany Villas, Honeymoon Island, Portofino Hotel, and Côte d’Azur Resort.
Connected to Honeymoon Island by jetties, the Floating Seahorse Villas were designed for investors and second home end users. Consisting of over 4,000 square feet with three levels, each will feature state-of-the-art technology and outdoor climate-controlled areas. The ultimate attraction will be the underwater level with exclusive views to the coral reefs.
(15 beachfront villas, 17 lagoon villas, offering four or five bedrooms in Bauhaus inspired style)
The horseshoe-shaped Germany Island will face onto an azure-blue lagoon with its own bar, lush gardens, white sandy beaches and bent palm trees.
There will be traditional German carnivals, Christmas markets, festivals, and the famous Oktoberfest. Famed international chefs will offer up the finest German-style menus as well as the largest selection of German beers and wines.
(10 four-story palaces, 7 bedroom waterfront homes, each ground floor has a gym, sauna and snow room, while on the rooftop there will be a glass-roofed party room)
Sweden Island was inspired by Swedish Viking Vessels and will offer up palaces furnished by Bentley Homes with glass roofs and private snow rooms. The $27 million beach palace was among the first properties to sell out on the island. Restaurants will incorporate Sweden’s famed cuisine, featuring items like sour herring, meatballs, Raggmunkar, toast Skagen, smörgåsbord, Snaps, and Glὃgg.
The unique heart-shaped Maldivian inspired island will be a couples retreat surrounded by Seahorse Floating Villas that will sell up to $5 million each. Next to the island, there is the islands Empress Elizabeth Hotel, the first dedicated seven-star wedding hotel, where couples can celebrate their union overlooking white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters.
Inspired by the floating city, this will be the world’s first underwater resort with dining and accommodations located below the surface. Restaurants, bars, and shops will all be underwater with views of coral reefs and passing gondolas above. Entertainment will be offered from masked carnivals to opera performances.
The resort will have 12 restaurants and bars (three of which are underwater) and an underwater spa.
(Beachfront and lagoon villas, featuring master bedrooms, swimming pools and viewing decks)
Switzerland Island offers villas with water views and access to beaches, a seawater lagoon, and private swimming pools. The villa chalets utilize timber, stone, and glass design. A large blue water lagoon in the center of the island will be reminiscent of the large lakes in Switzerland.
MAIN EUROPE ISLAND / COTE D’AZUR RESORT
The Côte D’Azur Resort comprises of 4 boutique hotels all named after the famous and picturesque cities of Monaco, Nice, Cannes and St. Tropez which are located in the South of France. The 4 boutique hotels will have Suites and penthouses with large balconies offering panoramic sea views.
Monaco will feature French fine-dining with an upscale contemporary décor, high-end fashion boutiques, and a large white sandy beach. There will also be lagoon swimming pools and a replica of the famed Monaco Marina.
(489 Princess and Queen Suites, Rooftop penthouses, Marina and Lobby with 514 aquariums, 6 Italian restaurants & bars, Women’s only social lounge and spa, Olympic size pool with underwater performances and Kids Club)
Designed to look and feel like the Italian city of Portofino, with colorful terracotta buildings, the Portofino Hotel on the Main Europe Island is a family hotel that will feature Italian-style suites with kids rooms, a kids club operated by a leading kids club operator, restaurants and cafes serving Italian cuisine and organic food. The facade will host an extraordinary hanging garden with 31,000 plants.
There are five swimming pools at the resort and even a snow-play area where children can build snowmen. Add synchronized swimming shows for entertainment.
The island will have its own fully-serviced private Paraggi Bay marina where all guests will arrive by boat. The front of hotel employees will speak Italian and the hotel will even accept Euros as currency.
The Heart of Europe will oversee the development of more than 100,000 coral reefs and will also feature centenary Spanish olive trees that were sourced from Andalusia, Spain. The islands will also offer up the world’s first climate-controlled rainy street and snow plaza.
The development will also use sustainable landscaping that will be pesticide-free and fungicide-free, and all green areas will use recycled water. The island will be totally car-free, use clean energy, and will offer sustainable water transportation to the guests. Designed with a zero-discharge policy and zero micro-plastics policy, the developers hope to ensure the protection of the Arabian Gulf and species of marine life that reside around the six islands.
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I have been a world explorer for over 30 years, having visited more than 90 countries. I am highly experienced in exotic travel and extreme luxury adventures and have been lucky to work with and travel alongside some of the biggest celebrities and billionaires. I love exploring hidden, never before seen locations, revealing exclusive over-the-top destinations and reporting on unique celebrity stories. I am passionate about supporting the environment and animal rights and will always help promote those causes with stories from around the world. Follow me on Instagram: officialjimdobson, Twitter @theluxeworld, or e-mail me with questions or corrections to email@example.com.
Dubai’s The World islands are perhaps the most ambitious, long-term project Dubai’s ever launched. In this episode of Time Out Quick Guides, you’ll learn about the most significant developments of the incredible the World islands, and what’s going to be coming soon. From underwater bedrooms, to climate controlled streets with actual snowmen, to the nurturing of brand-new marine life – here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening on the World Islands in 2018.
This story was updated at 10:00 a.m. on March 29, 2020.
On March 16, the Trump administration issued COVID-19 travel guidelines asking Americans to cut all non-essential travel, avoid gatherings of 10 or more people and maintain social distancing.
So far, the federal government has showed no inclination to issue a nationwide travel ban. But as of today, more than half of the 50 U.S. governors have issued statewide stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders. In states where governors have not issued such mandates, counties and cities have often issued their own lockdown orders.
Today President Trump floated the idea of a mandatory enforced two-week quarantine and travel ban for New York, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut, which have been hotspots for COVID-19.
In the meantime, many governors around the country have stepped up with their own restrictions to keep residents at home. At the other end of the spectrum, other governors have shown a reluctance to even shut down restaurants and bars. The result is a patchwork of policies, often with neighboring states having very different degrees of restriction.
Sometimes, state health officials are taking a leadership role when governors will not. The Tennessee Medical Association is pushing the state’s county leaders and mayors to issue stay-at-home orders despite Governor Bill Lee’s refusal to do so. Likewise, there is no mandate in Alabama but the East Alabama Medical Clinic is asking locals to stay at home after five patients died who tested positive for COVID-19.
Governors cannot stop travelers from crossing state lines, but several have taken steps to discourage it. Yesterday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear went so far as to tell Kentuckians not to travel to Tennessee unless absolutely necessary. The governors of Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire and Massachusetts have mandated that travelers arriving from out of state must self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. Other states, including South Carolina, Texas, Florida and Rhode Island, are targeting their own self-quarantine mandates to visitors who arrive from highly affected areas.
Here’s a state-by-state rundown of the patchwork of current travel restrictions.
Alabama: No additional travel restrictions. No nonwork-related gatherings of 25 or more people; no nonwork gatherings of any size where people cannot maintain a six-foot distance from each other. Restaurants, bars and breweries are limited to takeout or delivery. All public and private beaches are closed. Birmingham is under a shelter-in-place order.
Alaska: All travelers arriving in Alaska must self-quarantine for 14 days, going directly from the airport to a self-quarantined location. All residents have been ordered to shelter in place. Restaurants and bars are closed for dine-in services.
Arizona: No additional travel restrictions. In counties with a confirmed case of COVID-19, restaurants can only provide takeout options and bars must close. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has issued a stay-at-home order for tribal members.
Arkansas: No additional travel restrictions. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery options.
California: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery options. Essential services — gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, banks, etc. — will remain open.
Colorado: All residents are under a stay-at-home mandate. Essential businesses (including cannabis and liquor stores) remain open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Connecticut: All residents are under a “stay safe, stay home” order. Essential businesses remain open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Delaware: All residents have been ordered to shelter in place. Essential business remain open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Florida: Travelers arriving from Connecticut, New Jersey, New York or Louisiana must self-isolate for 14 days. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery services. The Florida Keys are closed to visitors. Many cities are under stay-at-home orders, including Aventura, Boca Raton, Coral Gables, Coral Springs, Dania Beach, Delray Beach, Doral, Gainesville, Golden Beach, Hollywood, Miami, Miami Beach, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee and Tampa.
Georgia: No additional travel restrictions. Bars are closed. Gatherings of 10 or more people are banned. Multiple cities, including Atlanta, Savannah, Dunwoody, Chamblee and Forest Park are all under stay-at-home orders.
Hawaii: Travelers entering the state must self-quarantine for 14 days. All residents are under a stay-at-home mandate. Essential business remain open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Idaho: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Residents must work from home; essential businesses are exempt. Restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery options. Bars are closed.
Illinois: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery.
Indiana: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery service.
Iowa: No additional travel restrictions. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Kansas: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. No public gatherings of 10 or more people. Bars and restaurants can stay open if they preserve a 6-foot distance between customers.
Kentucky: No additional travel restrictions but Governor Andy Beshear has warned residents against unnecessary travel to neighboring Tennessee. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Louisiana: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses remain open. Restaurants are limited to takeout and delivery options.
Maine: No additional travel restrictions. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery services. Portland is under a stay-at-home order.
Maryland: No additional travel restrictions. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Massachusetts: Travelers entering the state must self-quarantine for 14 days. All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Michigan: All residents are under a “stay home, stay safe” executive order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Minnesota: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Mississippi: No additional travel restrictions. Restaurants and bars must limit dine-in services to no more than 10 people at once. The cities of Tupelo and Oxford have implemented stay-at-home orders.
Missouri: No additional travel restrictions. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery. Many counties and multiple cities have mandated stay-at-home orders, including Kansas City and St. Louis.
Montana: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Nebraska: No additional travel restrictions but Governor Pete Ricketts has asked residents who have traveled to the Kansas City area to self-quarantine for two weeks. No gathering in groups of more than 10, except in grocery stores. Restaurants and bars are open.
Nevada: No additional travel restrictions. Essential businesses are open. Casinos are closed. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
New Hampshire: Arriving out-of-state visitors are asked to self-quarantine for two weeks. All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
New Jersey: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
New Mexico: All residents are under a shelter-in-place order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery. No gatherings of five or more people.
New York: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
North Carolina: All residents are under a stay-at-home order beginning March 30. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
North Dakota: No additional travel restrictions. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Ohio: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Oklahoma: No additional statewide travel restrictions. The cities of Tulsa, Norman and Oklahoma City have issued shelter-in-place orders.
Oregon: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Pennsylvania: Residents in much of the state (19 counties) are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Rhode Island: Travelers arriving from New York must self-isolate for 14 days. All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
South Carolina: Travelers arriving from “virus hotspots”, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and New Orleans must self-isolate for 14 days. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery. The cities of Charleston and Columbia have issued stay-at-home orders for residents.
South Dakota: No additional travel restrictions. Most businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are open.
Tennessee: No additional travel restrictions. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery. The cities of Nashville and Memphis have told residents to stay at home.
Texas: Air travelers arriving from Connecticut, New Jersey, New York or the city of New Orleans must self-isolate for 14 days. More than half a dozen Texas cities, including Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Fort Worth, El Paso, McKinney and Hudson, are under shelter-in-place orders. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Utah: All residents are under a “stay home, stay safe” directive, which falls short of a shelter-in-place order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery. Summit County, which includes Park City, is under a stay-at-home order.
Vermont: All residents are under a “stay home, stay safe” executive order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Virginia: No additional travel restrictions but Governor Ralph Northam has asked Virginia residents to stay at home when possible. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Washington: All residents are under a “stay home, stay safe” executive order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
West Virginia: All residents are under a stay-at-home order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Wisconsin: All residents are under a “safer at home” executive order. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery.
Wyoming: No additional travel restrictions. Essential businesses are open. Restaurants and bars are limited to takeout and delivery. The cities of Jackson and Cheyenne have issued shelter-in-place orders for residents.
I’m always looking for new ways to travel better, smarter, deeper and cheaper, so I spend a lot of time watching trends at the intersection of travel and technology. As a longtime freelance travel writer, I’ve contributed hundreds of articles to Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Travel Leisure, Afar, Reader’s Digest, TripSavvy, Parade, NBCNews.com, Good Housekeeping, Parents, Parenting, Esquire, Newsweek, The Boston Globe and scores of other outlets. Over the years, I’ve run an authoritative family vacation-planning site; interviewed Michelin-starred chefs, ship captains, taxi drivers and dog mushers; reviewed hundreds of places to stay, from stately castles and windswept lighthouses to rustic cabins and kitschy motels; ridden the iconic Orient Express; basked in the glory of Machu Picchu; and much more. Follow me on Instagram (@suzannekelleher), Pinterest (@suzannerowankelleher) and Flipboard (@SRKelleher).
Have things gotten plane confusing for you? With the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak occurring, are you having trouble deciding whether to cancel or postpone your air travel plans?
It seems like a fair number of people are trying to make such decisions right now. Social media certainly has had its share of “should I stay or should I go” clashes of opinions and discussions. For example, @scottbudman tweeted out these recommendations:
And someone here is worried about more than hot farts:
Then there was this question to Florian Krammer, PhD, a Professor at the Department of Microbiology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai:
On the flip side, if you don’t like lines and crowds at the airport, this may seem like a great time to fly, with an emphasis on the word seem. According to Rick Clough reporting for Bloomberg, commercial air traffic is on track to drop by 8.9% this year, which would be the biggest decline since 1978 and in fact only the fourth year that air travel has fell in that time frame. Declines also have occurred in 1991, 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and 2009 amidst the recession and the H1N1 flu pandemic. Cecile Daurat and Justin Bachman have written for Bloomberg that the airline industry stands to lose up to $113 billion in sales and that some airlines are already cutting back on available flights. Who knows? Maybe you can even find a seat on the plane that has a free seat next to it, so that you can actually do things like see your feet while sitting.
So what should you do? Well, as you’ll see in a bit, there are clearer-cut situations in which air travel is not advisable and canceling or postponing makes sense. However, for some other situations, the answer is a bit more complicated and evolving. The SARS-CoV2 outbreak and accompanying travel recommendations are evolving and serious situations. The SARS-CoV2 seems to be significantly more contagious and more virulent than the flu virus. But it is not yet clear exactly how much more. Its reported case fatality rate has been in the 1.5% to 3.8% range, nowhere near that of the original SARS virus. But things continue to change as more info emerges. There is still much to learn about SARS-CoV2 and its spread. So caution but not panic is worthwhile. Moreover, you’ve got to weigh different factors, risks, and benefits.
If your destination has some major travel warnings or restrictions, then the answer may be easy. For example, China and Iran fall into the category of “widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission and restrictions on entry to the United States.” That means that you shouldn’t consider traveling to these countries unless you absolutely have to do so. South Korea and Italy are listed as having “widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission,” which also means that postponing travel to these countries is a good idea. There’s a warning about Japan as well, if you are an older adult or someone with a chronic medical condition.
As things are changing fairly rapidly, check this website often. Bookmark the site. Treat it like you would Cristiano Ronaldo’s Instagram feed. Follow it. Learn it. Absorb it.
A second thing to do is double-check whether the meeting, the gathering, or whatever you’re going to may be canceled. Recently meetings have been like primary candidates in a political race: “it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, no problems, oh, time to shut things down.” Last minute cancellations have been occurring, so you don’t want to be stuck with a ticket and no place to go, just like what may be going on, or perhaps not going on, here:
So what do you do if your destination doesn’t have a major warning and your event still seems on track? Air travel certainly isn’t the same as staying in your apartment or house surrounded by mounds and mounds of toilet paper rolls. The only way to completely avoid the possibility of infection is to completely avoid contact with people or any of the objects or surfaces that they touch. This is may not be practical. Life is never risk-free. So there will be risks with any activity, especially ones that involve larger numbers of people.
But let’s be clear what the real risks may be. For example, how much of a risk is the recycled air in airplanes? Well, the air does go through HEPA filters. HEPA stands for “high efficiency particulate air [filter]” and is supposed to filter out at least 99.97% of microbes, dust, pollen, mold, and any airborne particles that are 0.3 microns (µm) in size. The filter may even be more efficient at filtering particles that are smaller or larger than 0.3 µm, such as French fries.
Assuming that the HEPA filter is working properly then you may not have to worry so much about the air nozzle overhead that’s creating a mini-tornado on your face. Plus, SARS-CoV2 can only travel so far in the air. It’s not as if they have little wings. Viruses don’t drink Red Bull. Instead, they hitch rides on respiratory droplets that come out of an infected person through coughing, sneezing, spitting, or the like. These droplets can travel up to three to six feet from the person.
What may be of greater concern is the close proximity between passengers on the plane. Over the past decade or so, passengers haven’t exactly been declaring, “wow, what do I do with all this legroom? There’s just too much legroom here in economy seating.” In fact, Stephanie Robertson has written for the New York Times about “Fighting the Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat” and how airplane seat sizes have been shrinking since since the U.S. airline industry underwent deregulation in the 1970’s. Maintaining a three to six foot distance from other passengers may be tough even if you were to have excessive and obvious heated flatulence. So yes, if the person next to you is infectious, you could get exposed.
Then there are the various surfaces on the plane. You are probably more likely to catch respiratory viruses like coronaviruses and flu viruses through touching things that have been contaminated with the virus. That includes body parts like hands or surfaces like seat belt buckles and Baby Yoda figurines that have been touched by someone infectious. Quite a few of the surfaces in an airplane cabin would be considered “high touch,” meaning that different people touch them frequently. These include tray tables, seats, seat belts, video monitors, and that crypt-like pocket in the back of the seat in front of you. People shove who knows what in those pockets, including magazines, wrapping papers, used tissues, and maybe even a doughnut.
That’s why limiting what you touch, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, and not touching your face with unwashed hands will be more important than holding your breath for the entire duration of the six hour or so flight. (By the way, you can only hold your breath for a few minutes before you pass out, so don’t even try it.) Of course, not touching your face is easier said than done, as I described previously for Forbes. Your face can feel like a gigantic planet with a massive gravitational pull on your fingers. Therefore, try keeping your hands occupied like putting them in your pockets, typing on a computer, or flashing gang signs to yourself.
Hand sanitizer can help but make sure you use it properly. Use enough sanitizer to cover all parts of your hands. Then massage your hands together as if they were the main characters in a romance novel. Keep up the rubbing until they become dry. Recite the alphabet while doing this so that you know that you’ve gone long enough, because isn’t that what lovers in a romance novel do?
Washing your hands with soap and water, if done properly, is always better than just using hand sanitizer. However, airplane bathrooms may be areas of really high touch, in more ways than one. A lot can go on in a bathroom and a decent percentage of it is not good, from a microbe standpoint, that is. The words “airplane bathroom” and “luxurious” usually don’t go together. While in a cramped airplane bathroom, it can be difficult to limit your touching, especially when turbulence makes it feel like you are an ingredient in a smoothie being made.
Therefore, definitely wash your hands thoroughly at the end of an adventure in an airplane bathroom. This may not be the easiest thing with the design of the bathroom sink. Many such bathrooms don’t have automatic sensor-driven faucets. Instead you’ve got to continuously hold down those little faucet handles, and keep pushing that lever that allows the sink to drain. After drying your hands with a paper towel, try not to touch other used items when throwing the towel away in the garbage. This can be tough when the garbage container lid slams back shut like gator’s mouth. When you are leaving the bathroom, use a paper towel to handle the door knob so that you don’t just re-contaminate your hands.
Pay attention to how everything in the cabin is maintained and cleaned. As a customer, consider it a right to know what safety and disinfection procedures are in place during and between flights. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the new coronavirus may be able to survive on surfaces for “a few hours or up to several days.” That means what happened in the cabin during the flights before yours may stay in the cabin. Therefore, before a flight, consider inquiring about the specifics of an airline’s cleaning policies. After all, scrimping and saving on such things may be one way some airlines try to cut costs, unless customers shine more of a light on such practices.
Another question that is coming up is whether flights will be canceled or grounded due to the outbreak, leaving you stranded. That will depend on where you are flying, how the outbreak proceeds, and what the governments and the airlines plan on doing. It is difficult to predict what may happen. Therefore, follow closely official CDC announcements and the news, the real news that is and not what Uncle Joey or Aunt Marmy are saying on Facebook.
Stick with airlines that have more flexible cancellation and change policies. Beware of the airlines that say, “oh, you can change your flight but it will require this massive fee and a body part.” If you have already booked a flight and the airline has instituted a new more flexible change policy, see if you can benefit from that policy too. For example:
Consider purchasing travel insurance or a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) policy to cover you in case plans have to change. As always, read the fine print of such policies, which may not always be so fine.
Also, look into alternatives to air travel. Even if you do end up taking a flight, it is helpful to know how you may get back if your return flight ends up getting canceled. Make sure that the options are viable. After all, find a bicycle and pedal like mad may not work if you are going from San Francisco to New York City.
Ultimately, it’s difficult to make blanket recommendations about air travel. (Oh, by the way, make sure that airline blankets are properly cleaned before using them.) In general, this doesn’t seem to be the best time to schedule optional travel. There’s still a fair amount of uncertainty. So if you can easily cancel your air travel, then you may want to do so.
If your travel isn’t completely optional, try to identify alternatives such as video-conferencing or sending a gigantic cake. Cutting down air travel not only may decrease your risk of getting sick but also reduce the risk of you carrying the virus to others who may be of even greater risk for bad health outcomes if they have other diseases or are older. It ain’t a bad thing for the environment either.
If you are over 65 years of age or have a chronic medical condition like lung disease, have a very low threshold for canceling your air travel. You may be at risk for worse health outcomes if you get infected. Check with your doctor before considering such travel. If you are a little kid, enjoy smearing things on your face, and don’t quite understand boundaries yet, you may not want to travel either because you won’t be able to maintain the necessary aforementioned infection control precautions. Besides if you are a kid, you are probably less likely to have essential work travel.
If canceling or postponing your air travel is difficult to do and you do end up having to travel by air, no need to be paranoid. “Be paranoid” is rarely the recommendation for any situation. Just take the precautions mentioned above, which are probably precautions that you should always take when traveling by plane regardless of whether a novel virus is circulating.
So, again, right now, you should avoid the locations that the CDC website warns you to avoid and consider canceling or postponing all non-essential air travel if it is reasonably feasible to do so. You also may want to avoid air travel if you are in a higher risk group such those over 65 years of age or with a chronic medical condition.
Of course, lots of air travel doesn’t quite fall into these categories, which makes decision making more difficult. As with all difficult decisions, your decision on whether to cancel your flight plans is personal, depending on your risk tolerance and needs. Yes, being confined close together with others in a cabin for several hours does have its risks. Yes, you are depending on others to keep surfaces clean and disinfected. Yes, you don’t know exactly what will happen in the ensuing weeks. But there are things that you can do to reduce the accompanying risks. Realize that nothing has no risk.
Be aware of the real risks and not what so-and-so with ten followers on Twitter is trying to get you to believe. Don’t listen to some of the panicky chatter out there or anyone who tells you that there is one definitive answer for everyone, such as all air travel should be canceled immediately or that no one should be concerned about air travel at all. Keep in mind the expertise and agendas of anyone who may be giving advice. Follow closely announcements from trusted sources. If you can follow what a celebrity is doing with his or her hair each day on social media, you can frequently check websites like the CDC’s. In other words, just stay appropriately grounded when making your decision of whether to fly.
I am a writer, journalist, professor, systems modeler, computational and digital health expert, avocado-eater, and entrepreneur, not always in that order. Currently, I am a Professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York (CUNY), Executive Director of PHICOR (@PHICORteam), Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and founder and CEO of Symsilico. My previous positions include serving as Executive Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University, Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Associate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, and Senior Manager at Quintiles Transnational, working in biotechnology equity research at Montgomery Securities, and co-founding a biotechnology/bioinformatics company. My work involves developing computational approaches, models, and tools to help health and healthcare decision makers in all continents (except for Antarctica) and has been supported by a wide variety of sponsors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NIH, AHRQ, CDC, UNICEF, USAID and the Global Fund. I have authored over 200 scientific publications and three books. Follow me on Twitter (@bruce_y_lee) but don’t ask me if I know martial arts.
The number of tourists coming to Norway continues to increase. In 2019, several natural attractions including the trail to the Pulpit Rock and hiking trails in Lofoten received record numbers of international visitors.
Locals are frustrated with congested roads and inconsiderate parking, while small municipalities complain that they can’t afford the necessary improvements to cope with the number of visitors, which more often than not far outnumber local residents. Calls have never been louder for a tourist tax.
A study by Innovation Norway of the highest profile Norwegian destinations found that discontent is high among a clear majority of the local population. These areas include the cities Bergen, Stavanger and Ålesund, along with more remote areas including Geiranger, Lofoten, Aurland and Svalbard. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed supported the introduction of a tourist tax.
According to the European Tourism Association, the concept of a visitor tax is not yet popular in northern Europe. Denmark, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia are among the countries not to have implemented the concept. The most visited countries in Europe—France, Spain and Italy—have all introduced charges.
Tourist tax under discussion by Norway’s MPs
For the second time in two years, the Norwegian Parliament is discussing the concept of a tourist tax. Last time the proposals were voted down, but given the recent changes in the coalition government, things could well be different this time around. Both the Labour party and Center party appear to now be in favor of allowing select municipalities to introduce some kind of local visitor fee.
One person who is hoping for an agreement is Jan Ove Tryggestad, the Mayor of Stranda municipality, which includes the tourist magnet Geiranger. “Today, there are a number of tourist destinations in Norway that are struggling. We cannot take any responsibility for what mass tourism imposes on us,” he told NRK.
Tryggestad also said he believes “tourist tax” is a loaded term and prefers to call the proposal “joint fundraising.” He also proposed alternatives to the typical accommodation-based way tourist taxes are collected at locations across Europe, presumably because so many visitors to Geiranger are day-trippers from cruise ships.
He suggested mobile payments, toll stations or a simple levy on goods and services in the specified zone could all be potential solutions.
How authorities elsewhere in Norway are tackling overtourism
Elsewhere in Norway, other measures are being introduced ahead of what is expected to be another record-breaking summer season.
The Foundation responsible for the facilities at Pulpit Rock are implementing limits on the number of tour buses allowed at the parking lot at any one time. While they are not limiting numbers taking the hike, they hope to better spread those numbers across the day.
City bosses in Bergen have extended the summer ban on passenger vehicles using Bryggen and Torget in the historic center to tourist buses. Such buses will also be banned from Øvregaten, an important access road to Bryggen. While many in the city are pleased with the news, owners of local tourism companies have spoken out against the proposals. There are several hotels in the restricted zone, which could cause problems for those traveling to and from cruise ships.
Finally, the Norwegian government is also considering imposing a size limitation on cruise ships around Svalbard. They are also considering extended the current ban on the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) to cover the entire archipelago.
I was born in the U.K. but moved to Norway in 2011 and haven’t looked back. I run a website and podcast for fellow expats, authored the Moon Norway travel guidebook, help Norwegian companies with their English, and spend my free time touring the country to discover more about the people and places of this unique corner of the world. I write for Forbes with an outsider’s inside perspective on Norway & Scandinavia.
Cities and attractions across the globe are experiencing severe overcrowding and other stresses brought on by too many tourists. According to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization, there were around 70 million international tourist arrivals back in 1960. Today, that number has hit more than 1.4 billion. Erin Florio, travel news director for Conde Nast Traveler, joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss the impact of all that tourist traffic. Watch “CBS This Morning” HERE: http://bit.ly/1T88yAR Download the CBS News app on iOS HERE: https://apple.co/1tRNnUy Download the CBS News app on Android HERE: https://bit.ly/1IcphuX Like “CBS This Morning” on Facebook HERE: http://on.fb.me/1LhtdvI Follow “CBS This Morning” on Twitter HERE: http://bit.ly/1Xj5W3p Follow “CBS This Morning” on Instagram HERE: http://bit.ly/1Q7NGnY Get new episodes of shows you love across devices the next day, stream local news live, and watch full seasons of CBS fan favorites anytime, anywhere with CBS All Access. Try it free! http://bit.ly/1OQA29B Each weekday morning, “CBS This Morning” co-hosts Gayle King, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil deliver two hours of original reporting, breaking news and top-level newsmaker interviews in an engaging and informative format that challenges the norm in network morning news programs. The broadcast has earned a prestigious Peabody Award, a Polk Award, four News & Documentary Emmys, three Daytime Emmys and the 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast. The broadcast was also honored with an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award as part of CBS News division-wide coverage of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Check local listings for “CBS This Morning” broadcast times.