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.
3 advantages of using a travel agency
Are you planning to go on vacation in 2022? Whether you want to head to a sunny destination, take a road trip across the country or go on an adventure to a remote locale, it’s in your best interest to use a travel agency. Here are three reasons to rely on the expertise of a travel agent.
1. Get invaluable advice
If you choose a travel agency that specializes in a particular destination or the type of vacation you want to take, you’re sure to benefit from insider information. The agent can give you advice on things to do, sites to see, and places to stay. This will help ensure your trip is a success.
2. Save time and effort
Although it’s possible to book your vacation online, it often requires many hours of research and planning. Make things easier on yourself by letting a travel agent do the work for you. These professionals have the industry knowledge and access to information that can prevent you from making costly mistakes.
3. Receive essential support
As a result of the pandemic, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the tourism industry. Hiring a travel agent is the best way to make sure you don’t neglect any important details prior to departing for your vacation. If you encounter a problem during your stay, a trusted agent will be able to provide advice and help you find a solution.
In addition, travel agencies often receive exclusive offers and discounts from big travel companies that they can pass on to their clients. For these reasons and more, consider booking your next vacation with a travel agent.
4 van life tips to simplify your daily activities
Once you’ve found the right vehicle and customized it to suit a nomadic lifestyle, it’s time to hit the open road and explore. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your travels.
1. Before you fill up, be sure to consult GasBuddy. This free mobile app locates gas stations in your area and compares prices to help you save money.
2. Find free spots to camp recommended by other van life enthusiasts on apps like iOverlander, park4night, and RV Parks & Campgrounds.
3. Eat fresh food purchased from local farmers and merchants whenever possible. This will allow you to travel light and discover new types of cuisine.
4. If you don’t have a shower in your vehicle, use the washroom facilities at rest stops, campgrounds, and restaurants to freshen up.
For more van life tips, search online for blogs, videos, and social media accounts created by people who’ve embraced this lifestyle. Use the hashtag #vanlife to find a global community of adventurers like you.
Before you go
Remember to contact your car insurance company to make any needed updates to your policy and ensure you’ll be covered on the road.
How to plan an eco-friendly summer getaway
The amount of pollution generated by the tourism industry, particularly by airplanes and cruise ships, is prompting an increasing number of environmentally conscious globetrotters to rethink the way they travel. If you want to minimize the carbon footprint you make during your next vacation, here are some tips to help you plan an eco-friendly getaway.
If you plan to travel far away from home, taking an electric car or relying on public transit can significantly reduce the environmental impact of your trip. Alternatively, consider opting for a destination closer to home. You may be surprised by how much there is to discover within an hour’s drive of where you live.
In addition, be sure to get your car inspected and serviced before you hit the road. This way, a mechanic can adjust the tire pressure and make other repairs that improve your vehicle’s fuel consumption.
If you enjoy cycling, consider a bike tour for your next adventure. Plan a route that allows you to end the day at a comfortable inn or try your hand at bikepacking.
Camping allows you to immerse yourself in nature while also using less water and electricity. Just be sure to properly dispose of your garbage and bring biodegradable products such as dish soap and shampoo. Another option is to rent a room at an establishment that has an environmental certification.
Buy supplies for hikes and picnics at a local farmers market, and dine at restaurants that source their ingredients from producers in the area. If you can find organic products, all the better. Most importantly, avoid eating at fast-food chains that give out single-use packaging and utensils.
People of all ages can enjoy a variety of recreational pursuits that don’t have a negative impact on the planet. For example, you could hike in the mountains, observe wildlife, tour an organic farm or go padd¬ling on a lake.
This summer, visit attractions that are close to home!
If you want to go on a vacation this year without venturing far, consider making your summer holiday a staycation. You can explore new destinations in your own backyard and revisit your favorite nearby attractions. This type of getaway doesn’t require passports or packing, and it can be just as exciting as vacationing abroad.
Whether you plan to travel by yourself, with a partner, or with your family, there’s no shortage of destinations. Keep an eye out for monuments, parks, art galleries, museums, public markets, entertainment venues, and other local attractions to explore.
Vacationing in your neck of the woods is a fun, easy, and affordable way to enjoy your time off. Visit your municipality’s website to learn more about what your region has to offer.
Virtual tourism: Discover the world from home!
Do you dream of traveling around the world to discover different cultures, incredible monuments, and amazing works of art? If your finances, the pandemic, or other concerns are preventing you from taking a trip, virtual tourism may be right for you. This year for National Travel and Tourism Week, consider giving it a try.
What is it?
Virtual trips can take many forms. They can involve watching a 360-degree virtual reality (VR) movie or using a special application that works with Google Street View technology. Other platforms offer VR tours, allowing you to put on a helmet that gives you the experience of being somewhere else. Additionally, the video game industry is creating immersive games that allow players to explore different places and times.
What can you see?
If you enjoy the arts, you can use Google Arts & Culture and similar applications to browse museums as if you were there. It’s a chance to admire popular paintings up close. For those who prefer the outdoors, there are several national parks around the world you can visit thanks to live image feeds. As for historical periods, Ubisoft’s Discovery Tour offers video games that let players explore Ancient Greece or Egypt.
What are the benefits?
Virtual tourism allows you to visit cultural and historical sites at your leisure, free of charge or at a low cost, without having to leave your living room. You can explore places that are normally accessible to the public as well as many that aren’t. Discover ancient art at the Lascaux Cave or, thanks to 3D modeling, monuments that are now destroyed.
There are many places to explore using virtual technologies. All you need to do is choose your next destination.
National Travel and Tourism Week takes place from May 2 to 8, 2021. Visit the U.S. Travel Association’s website (ustravel.org) for more information.
China travel is out this year, but you can still prepare
Maybe you’re dreaming of your vacation to the ancient cities of China.
The bad news is that travel restrictions make it unlikely to arrange this year, but you’ll have plenty of time to plan for a trip of a lifetime to a country that offers a dramatic contrast to many western countries.
Most travel advisors recommend hiring a reputable guide or participating in a tour, and there’s a reason for that.
Language is a major issue. You can try learning some Mandarin, the most widely spoken Chinese dialect, on a language app. But people spend decades learning to actually communicate in Mandarin. It’s not like learning Spanish. At least English speakers know the alphabet. At a minimum, some words are familiar. But Mandarin has five different tones, so the word ‘ma’ can mean mom or horse. For English speakers, even distinguishing the tones may elude them for years. So, while you can try language apps, they might only give you a command of some basic words, which might be helpful.
Although Mandarin is the oldest continuously used language, every part of China has different dialects. Your collection of Mandarin words may not be understood by everyone.
Even hand signals are different. You can hold up your index finger to indicate one. But be sure not to bend it, because that might mean eight to the person you are speaking to. Or it might mean one. Just depends on where in China you are.
Be careful about taking pictures or videos. If you see a demonstration of some sort, walk away. Never take a photo.
No matter where you go, always carry the name and address of your hotel in Chinese characters on a slip of paper, even if you have a guide. You must also carry your passport everywhere, so make absolutely sure you have digital copies and photocopies of all your documents.
Beware of the traffic. In a country so fond of rules and behavior norms, traffic in China (and many places in Asia) is weirdly chaotic. Don’t trust the green pedestrian lights at crossings. Look before you walk.
Taxis must be hailed from a marked taxi stand. Be sure the meter is on and get ready for a wild ride, according to Intrepid Travel.
Finally, right now, the only people who can travel are in the diplomatic service, airline crews, people from China with family, and people who are going to China to work. A negative COVID test is required, along with a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.