Planning a summer vacation? What countries are open for travel?
If you’ve got a serious case of cabin fever, you’re not alone. March marks a full year since anyone in the U.S. could travel without concern over COVID-19, and many Americans are itching to go somewhere.
But where to? Normally, March is borderline late for booking summer travel. This year, much is still unknown, including the most important question: Which countries will be open for travel?
As of late winter, U.S. News and World Report said that more than 50 countries were available, including a number of tropical locations like Bermuda and the Bahamas, plus popular destinations like Costa Rica, Chile, French Polynesia, Ireland, and Jamaica.
In most cases, travelers needed to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure (time frames varied) and in some cases, you will need a travel authorization letter. Some countries had additional protocols once tourists arrive, including quarantines, health screenings, or random testing.
If you’re making plans for summer, consider purchasing travel insurance, as countries may change their travel rules at the last minute. Also, visit the U.S. State Department’s website, which provides risk assessment by country, from Level 1 (take normal precautions) to Level 4 (Do Not Travel). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control website also has guidelines for travel.
Most countries also have their own websites devoted to travel guidelines, or you can check their embassy websites.
Journey through Time: Norfolk to Blacksburg and Virginia Beach to Abingdon Road trips among America’s favorites
In recent years, weekend road trips have experienced a surge in popularity among families. These mini-getaways offer a refreshing escape that combines adventure, flexibility, and quality time spent together, all at a significantly lower cost compared to conventional summer beach destinations.
Gunther Motor Company carried out a survey of 3,000 regular road trippers to find out the most popular 100-weekend road trips they would most like to experience in summer 2023.
A remarkable accolade has been granted to two of Virginia’s road trip routes, with the Norfolk to Blacksburg via U.S. Route 460 journey voted as America’s 16th favorite weekend road trip and the Virginia Beach to Abingdon via U.S. Route 58 trip rated as the 42nd best nationally.
Starting in Norfolk, a coastal city known for its naval history and waterfront attractions, road-trippers can explore charming neighborhoods, visit various museums, and indulge in seafood delights. As they head west on U.S. Route 460, the scenery changes to farmlands and rolling hills. Historic towns such as Suffolk and Petersburg appear along the route, each offering unique charm and insights into Virginia’s rich past.
The trip culminates in Blacksburg, home to Virginia Tech University. Nestled in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, this college town offers a range of outdoor activities, a vibrant atmosphere, and a thriving local arts and culture scene.
In a similar vein, the Virginia Beach to Abingdon road trip along U.S. Route 58 offers views of picturesque countryside, rolling hills, and rural communities. Along the route, visitors can explore historical sites like the Suffolk Historic District and the quaint downtown of Franklin.
Continuing west, the landscape gradually transforms into the scenic beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. Towns like Galax and Marion dot the route, leading finally to Abingdon, a historic town renowned for its vibrant arts scene. Visitors can explore Abingdon’s historic district and immerse themselves in the local culture, marking a fitting end to an enriching journey.
Infographic showing America’s 100 favorite weekend road trips
“America is a treasure trove of interesting and diverse weekend road trips. From the towering mountains and vast plains to vibrant cities and charming small towns, each journey paints a unique portrait of our nation’s rich tapestry. Every route has its own story to tell, fostering an exploration that unveils the heart and soul of America,” says Joseph Gunther IV of Gunther Motor Company.
Experiential travel turns tourists into adventurers
If conventional guided tours and museum trips leave you a little itchy, or if you just want to try something totally new, experiential travel might be for you. Instead of just visiting a destination and taking in a random assortment of attractions, experiential travel immerses tourists in their environment so they can actively engage with the culture, history, and people.
Wellness enthusiasts can check out yoga retreats in Tulum or a few days of mindfulness and healing in the Dominican Republic. For those who like a physical challenge, try a multi-day biking tour through Ireland.
Experiential travel is ideal for foodies who want to experience authentic local cuisines. Book a food tour of Athens to sample local wines and some of the world’s best baklava. Very committed food explorers can embark on a 12-day culinary journey through Japan that includes everything from Osaka street food to tea ceremonies in the famous teahouses of Kyoto.
Nature lovers can travel to southern Africa to stay in the safari camps of the Okavango Delta in Botswana before heading to Zimbabwe’s spectacular Victoria Falls. The nine-day journey ends in Hwange National Park to see spectacular wildlife up close.
Military history buffs might find a life-changing and emotionally challenging experience with the 11-day Band of Brothers Tour, which follows the path of the legendary Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division as they crossed the English Channel to liberate Europe from Nazi control. The tour begins in England before heading for the beaches of Normandy, then follows Easy Company through Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Germany.
How to make air travel more eco-friendly
Although flying is the fastest way to get from point A to point B, it’s highly energy-intensive and emits polluting fossil fuels into the air. Here are a few things you can do to make your next flight more sustainable.
• Fly economy instead of business class. In business and first class, there’s more space between passengers, which is inefficient. In economy class, more passengers benefit from the same fuel amount, equaling fewer emissions per passenger.
• Choose an eco-friendly airline. Support airlines that take environmentally friendly routes and use new, energy-efficient planes. Budget airlines are also a great option since they offer more economy-class seats, making the best use of aircraft space.
• Take daytime flights. At night, planes’ contrails and cirrus clouds trap heat, causing extra warming. However, they reflect sunlight into space during the day, counteracting the heat-trapping effect.
• Take direct, non-stop flights. Avoiding stopovers can help curb emissions during takeoff and landing.
Finally, fly only when necessary and stay longer. You can also purchase carbon offsets equivalent to how much pollution your flight will produce.
Seven ways to travel responsibly
Are you planning a trip? If you want to conduct yourself in a manner that’s mindful of environmental, economic, and socio-cultural concerns while you’re abroad, adopt the following behaviors.
1. Take only the essentials
Packing light reduces the weight of your luggage and can help minimize greenhouse gas emissions. It also gives you space to bring back handmade souvenirs that support the economy in the regions you visit.
2. Put trash in the right place
Make sure you clean up after yourself. If you can’t immediately find an appropriate place to get rid of your garbage, carry it with you until you do.
3. Conserve water and energy
Going on vacation doesn’t give you the green light to be wasteful. Take short showers, and don’t leave your hotel room lights on when you’re away for the day.
4. Follow the rules
Whether you’re visiting a beach, park, or tourist attraction, respect the associated rules and comply with all guidelines that are in place.
5. Offset your carbon emissions
Estimate your trip’s carbon footprint with an online calculator. Then, help counteract the total by purchasing carbon offsets from a recognized organization.
6. Share your experience
When you return home, talk to your friends and family about your adventure and give them tips on traveling responsibly.
7. Plan your next trip
When organizing your next trip, consider trying slow tourism. This concept involves traveling for a prolonged period slowly to have a more meaningful experience.
To plan an excursion aligned with your values, don’t hesitate to contact a local travel agent for advice.
Five things to consider before driving abroad
Are you planning a trip abroad and thinking of renting a car while you’re there? Follow these tips to ensure you’re prepared.
1. Driver’s license. Depending on your destination, you may need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive on the roads legally.
2. Rules of the road. Find out about speed limits, tolls, and alcohol regulations in the country you’re visiting. If you have to drive on the left-hand side, watch a few videos on the internet. This will help you anticipate the maneuvers you may need to make in the opposite direction, such as changing lanes and going through roundabouts.
3. Signage. You may have difficulty interpreting the road signs if you’re not visiting an English-speaking country. Do your research so you know what to expect.
4. Child car seats. If you’re traveling with young children, ask the car rental agency to provide you with car seats. Some American models don’t meet the safety standards in every country.
5. Insurance. Determine if your insurance provides overseas coverage or if you need to purchase insurance through the car rental agency. Also, make sure you have sufficient liability coverage.
Visit travel.state.gov and talk to a travel agent for valuable advice. They’ll tell you what to look for and what vehicle is best for the region you’re visiting. Have a good trip!
Find your flight — in a parallel reality
A busy Midwestern airport has a new feature that’s straight out of Star Trek.
Instead of losing precious minutes scanning a long list of hundreds of flights to find their information, Delta passengers at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport can enter Delta’s new parallel reality experience to get an instant personalized itinerary.
Passengers scan their boarding passes and look up at a large display screen to see their name, frequent flyer status, departure gate, flight number, and flight time. Their information is invisible to everyone else — meaning that the person standing next to them sees something completely different. Passengers who don’t scan their passes only see a blank screen.
The board, which was unveiled on June 28 after years of development, uses motion sensors to detect passengers as they approach the gate, while facial recognition technology identifies those who stop to scan their passes. The specialized screen, with pixels that can simultaneously project different colors in many different directions, flashes information that is only visible where the identified passenger is standing. Up to 100 passengers at a time can use the screen to view their personalized itineraries in their preferred languages.
Detroit is the only airport in the world with parallel reality so far. Still, Delta eventually plans to roll this technology out to other airports across the country and the globe.
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