Amtrak Just Relaunched Its 30-day Rail Pass for $200 Less

Amtrak Just Relaunched Its 30-day Rail Pass for $200 Less

Amtrak Just Relaunched Its 30-day Rail Pass for $200 Less

For under $300, you can now travel across the U.S. on Amtrak for a month.

If you’ve ever dreamed of taking a great American train trip, your time is now.

Amtrak just cut the price of its USA Rail Pass to $299, making it significantly cheaper to zigzag across the U.S. in search of adventure this summer. The sale price is a $200 discount from the regular rail pass cost of $499, and a fraction of what it would likely cost to rent a car for a month.

Amtrak’s U.S. rail passes allow passengers to take up to 10 rides over a period of 30 days. The clock starts ticking on the day of a passenger’s first trip, but there’s flexibility to change itineraries and routes along the way, channeling the classic European rail pass experience but with gorgeous American backdrops like the Grand Canyon, Colorado’s Red Rocks, and the spectacular California coastline.

“We want to offer customers a truly unique way to travel this summer,” Amtrak executive vice president Roger Harris said in announcing the sale.

That unique option may be particularly welcome this summer, with uneven pandemic restrictions coplicating international travel and rental cars in short supply in many parts of the country.

The USA Rail Pass covers coach travel between any of Amtrak’s 500 destinations – a list that includes New York, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and several of the country’s most popular national parks. And unlike airlines, there are no middle seats to worry about on Amtrak trains.

However, there are a few details you’ll want to keep in mind. Upgrades to business class aren’t available, and the passes can’t be used on Amtrak’s high-speed Acela routes or Auto Train. There are no blackout dates, but passes must be purchased prior to travel and can’t be bought on board.

You’ll also need to book before June 22 to take advantage of Amtrak’s sale pricing.

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CDC Updates COVID-19 Guidance for Mask Wearing on Outdoor Transit Hubs, Public Transportation

CDC Updates COVID-19 Guidance for Mask Wearing on Outdoor Transit Hubs, Public Transportation

The new guidelines apply to any outdoor transportation area, like outside an airport or a bus stop, as well as outdoor areas of public transportation, like the deck of a ferry or an open-air trolley.

Fully vaccinated Americans can now ditch their masks in outdoor transit hubs and on outdoor public transportation, the Centers for Disease Control said in updated guidance issued Thursday.

The new recommendations apply to any outdoor transportation areas, like outside an airport or a bus stop, as well as outdoor areas of public transportation, like the deck of a ferry or an open-air trolley.

Unvaccinated travelers should still continue to wear their masks in all public transportation-related areas, indoors and outdoors, the agency noted.

“CDC will continue to evaluate the requirements of its Order and determine whether additional changes may be warranted,” the agency wrote. “While those who are fully vaccinated may resume many activities without wearing a mask, the travel environment presents a unique set of circumstances based on the number and close interaction of travelers (both vaccinated and unvaccinated).”

The updated guidance comes weeks after the CDC said fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear their masks outdoors and in many indoor situations. Masks are still required on planes and inside airports, regardless of a person’s vaccination status – a rule that has been extended until at least September.

The CDC has said fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves and don’t need to quarantine upon returning from an international or domestic trip, and has loosened cruise restrictions for vaccinated travelers (like allowing them to explore ports on their own rather than book a shore excursion through the cruise line).

When it comes to vaccine progress, 64% of Americans 18 and older have received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 53.4% are considered fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

So far, ABC News reported 13 states have vaccinated at least 70% of their adult populations with at least one dose: Pennsylvania, Vermont, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Washington, Maryland, and California.

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Phuket Reopens to Vaccinated Tourists in July — and the Hotel Rooms May Be As Low As $1 a Night

Phuket Reopens to Vaccinated Tourists in July — and the Hotel Rooms May Be As Low As $1 a Night

The plan has been submitted to the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports for approval.

 A tourism group in Thailand has proposed offering $1 hotel stays in an effort to entice tourists back to Phuket ahead of its opening next month.

 

The “One-night, one-dollar” campaign, proposed by the Tourism Council of Thailand, would offer certain hotel rooms to foreign tourists for only $1 per night, according to travel trade publication, TTG Asia. Eligible rooms, which would be subsidized by the government, would typically sell from about 1,000 to 3,000 baht per night (or about $32 to $96).

 

The plan has been submitted to the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports for approval.

 

If the program was successful, it could potentially be expanded to other popular tourist destinations in Thailand like Koh Samui or Bangkok, according to TTG Asia.

 

TCT president Chamnan Srisawat said the country has “been suffering from the pandemic for 15 months now,” adding, “only mass tourism will save us.”

 

Phuket is expected to open to vaccinated foreign tourists on July 1, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the first destination in Thailand to welcome visitors without a quarantine requirement. To do so, Phuket has prioritized vaccines with the goal of inoculating 70% of the island’s population before it reopens.

 

“Phuket will be the pilot destination to reopen in the third quarter to fully vaccinated foreign visitors from low-risk countries under strict rules and regulations,” Yuthasak Supasorn, the TAT governor, said in a statement. “Safety is paramount in the reopening of Phuket.”

 

The relaxed restrictions come months earlier than officials initially planned with Phuket originally hoping to welcome tourists by the Fall.

 

While Phuket may be ready to welcome back tourists to its emerald waters and stunning rock formations this summer, the rest of Thailand on track to waive quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors by October, Reuters reported.

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Young Travelers Can Join Contiki’s New Member’s-only Travel Lounge for Exclusive Discounts and Mystery Trips

Young Travelers Can Join Contiki's New Member's-only Travel Lounge for Exclusive Discounts and Mystery TripsYoung Travelers Can Join Contiki's New Member's-only Travel Lounge for Exclusive Discounts and Mystery Trips

Membership is free for Contiki’s Travel Lounge.

With temperatures rising, vaccines rolling out, and international borders reopening, the pent-up demand for travel is taking off this summer. But that doesn’t come without its complications. In an effort to help young travelers starved for adventure, Contiki, a company specializing in group trips for 18- to 35-year-olds, has launched its new Contiki Travel Lounge.

This private, members-only Facebook group and email list is free to join and grants exclusive access to special perks designed to help these young adult explorers navigate the sometimes murky waters of travel in 2021. Among the benefits of joining this group is getting first dibs on the limited spots available on Contiki’s Europe trips departing this summer. As the company adds new dates and itineraries to its roster, Travel Lounge members will be the first to know about these “trip drops.”

For those who are a bit more flexible and looking to add another element of adventure to their travels, Contiki also offers Travel Lounge members exclusive discounts on mystery trips. These trips are selected from Contiki’s most popular itineraries, but guests won’t know where they’re going until after they book. All they’ll have to decide are dates, price, and a basic idea of the trip’s vibe. With discounts up to 40% off, the risk may be worth it.

“Trip drops” detailing dates and prices for getaways available for immediate booking will happen regularly for Contiki Travel Lounge members, while mystery trips will be announced monthly. Another benefit of membership: regular giveaways with Contiki swag items like the company’s signature sustainable water bottles, Teemill T-shirts, and tote bags.

“We want to reassure those who are still restricted by border controls that Contiki is ready for them as soon as they’re ready to book,” said Adam Armstrong, the company’s CEO, in a press release. “And although anybody can book online now for a 2022 trip, the Contiki Travel Lounge provides an alternative for those wanting to get back on the road as soon as possible in 2021, and the mystery trips are there for the most adventurous travelers who are happy to take advantage of an exclusive deal while also being the first out there – wherever that may take them.”

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‘Immersive Van Gogh’ Is Coming to New York City With Its Largest Exhibit Yet

'Immersive Van Gogh' Is Coming to New York City With Its Largest Exhibit Yet

The producers of the “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit in NYC have enlisted Broadway talent to make the experience come to life.

In recent months, a new kind of Van Gogh exhibit has been taking over cities across the U.S., offering an experience that combines the artist’s most classic works with modern technology that brings visitors into the painting.

They say everything is bigger in Texas, but on June 10, the “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit will make its New York City debut in its largest venue to date, and producers have enlisted A-list Broadway talent to help them bring the experience to life.

Pier 36, a 70,000-square-foot venue in lower Manhattan, will host “Immersive Van Gogh” through Sept. 6, 2021. And with such a large space to work with – three times bigger than Toronto, the previous record holder – producers of the exhibit have turned to Tony- and Emmy Award-winning set designer David Korins for his creative expertise.

“They wanted something bigger, fancier, deeper,” Korins told the Associated Press. “I wanted to really try and find a way to help people in 2021 see him more as a human.”

Korins, who also designed the sets for Broadway hits “Hamilton” and “Dear Evan Hansen,” is a lifelong fan of Van Gogh. According to the AP, some of his unique additions to the space include a ceiling installation that uses almost 8,000 paint brushes to reproduce “The Starry Night” and a station that utilizes artificial intelligence to give visitors an individualized letter from Van Gogh. Guests can even co-create their own masterpiece “alongside” Van Gogh through their phones.

Though the producers of “Immersive Van Gogh” aim to infuse the essence of each city where the exhibit appears into the overall experience, the show’s core remains the same: A 38-minute digital film displaying Vincent Van Gogh’s most iconic and lesser-known works is projected onto massive screens that cover the walls of the space. The paintings and sketches are shown in a dynamic way and are set to the sound of violins, pianos, and other classic instruments.

Tickets for New York’s “Immersive Van Gogh” exhibit are on sale now, with prices ranging from $29.99 for kids to $99.99 for VIP tickets. Basic timed tickets are $49.99, and several dates have already sold out or have limited availability.

For more information and to book, visit the “Immersive Van Gogh” website.

Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but she’s always on the lookout for her next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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Airbnb Is Seeking 12 People to Live Anywhere for Free for One Year

Airbnb Is Seeking 12 People to Live Anywhere for Free for One Year

Airbnb is on the hunt for 12 intrepid travelers to spend an entire year living the nomadic lifestyle in home rentals around the world.

On Wednesday, the home rental company announced the “Live Anywhere on Airbnb” opportunity. The aim, the company explained, is to have 12 lucky people share “their unique experiences with Airbnb,” which “could help inform future product upgrades and innovations on the platform, helping to lay the groundwork for the future of nomadic living.”

Their input, Airbnb notes, could shape product changes and resources that would improve the long-term living experience, help define ideal accommodations for solo travelers or groups like families, and even help to better understand the financial benefits of Hosting while traveling.

In exchange for all this knowledge, Airbnb will cover the cost of accommodations and provide an allowance for transportation for the duration of the pilot program. Participants can even choose to host their primary residence on Airbnb during their travels and earn extra money while they travel.

The reason for the program appears to be because of the growing popularity of long term stays in private home rentals. According to Airbnb’s Report on Travel & Living, the share of stays 28 days or longer increased by 10% in nights booked from 2019 to 2011.

“The experience of living on Airbnb has been truly transformational for us,” Debbie Campell, a long-term Airbnb guest, shared in a statement. “Live Anywhere on Airbnb will give even more people the opportunity to see the world through a whole new lens just as we have. We’re excited to see more people living and working from wherever they choose.”

Starting today, those interested can submit their applications at www.airbnb.com/liveanywhere. And truly, everyone’s invited to apply, including remote workers, empty nesters, young families, and more. Participants just need to be 18 years old or older and must be able to travel for 12 consecutive months from July 2021 to July 2022. Airbnb will assist with listing suggestions, local Experiences, and more. Each participant will be allowed to bring up to three companions to be part of the program.

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St. Barts to Welcome Vaccinated Travelers on June 9

St. Barts to Welcome Vaccinated Travelers on June 9

From cage diving with sharks to jumping out of a plane, these adventure vacations are guaranteed to break you out of your comfort zone.

In conjunction with France reopening its borders to vaccinated travelers, the glamorous Caribbean island of St. Barts will also reopen its borders to visitors who are also vaccinated beginning June 9.

“After two successful vaccination campaigns, the vast majority of our island’s citizens are now vaccinated and our efficient COVID-19 testing centers still offer swift service for everyone,” Nils Dufau, president of the St. Barts Tourism Board, said in a statement shared with Travel + Leisure. “Restaurants, boutiques, nautical activities as well as all services are being provided as usual. Hotels and villas are open.”

Visitors will still have to present negative results from a PCR COVID-19 test taken within three days of their arrival on the island. St Barts will also accept a negative antigen test taken within 48 hours of arrival on the island. Travelers will not be required to quarantine upon arrival.

The island does not have a portal for uploading health documents so travelers will need to send vaccination records directly to hotels or villas before finalizing their bookings. They may also need to show proof of vaccination when they arrive in St Barts and again upon check-in at their accommodation.

Vaccines must be approved by the European Medical Agency and include Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. Once on the island, vaccinated visitors are free to go wherever they like.

Visitors younger than 18 can visit without vaccination and those younger than 10 will not have to undergo testing.

Looking forward to welcoming visitors back, the island’s tourism board also shared with T+L that the island’s signature event, the annual Gourmet Festival, will be returning in November after it was canceled last year.

Travelers are still required to undergo a COVID-19 test within three days of their return back to the U.S., according to current CDC regulations.

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United Customers Could Soon Fly to London in Under 4 Hours Thanks to Futuristic New Planes

United Customers Could Soon Fly to London in Under 4 Hours Thanks to Futuristic New Planes

United wants to cut flight times in half.

United Airlines customers could soon fly from New York to London in just three and a half hours thanks to the airline’s investment in supersonic planes.

The carrier this week agreed to purchase 15 Boom Supersonic ‘Overture’ planes capable of flying twice as fast as today’s fastest airliners — as long as they meet the carrier’s safety and sustainability standards — the company shared with Travel + Leisure. As part of the agreement, United has the option to buy 35 additional planes.

The super fast, futuristic planes would be capable of flying from Newark to Frankfurt, for example, in four hours (a trip that normally takes over 7 hours) and San Francisco to Tokyo in only six hours (the route currently clocks in at over 10 hours), according to United.

“United continues on its trajectory to build a more innovative, sustainable airline and today’s advancements in technology are making it more viable for that to include supersonic planes. Boom’s vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry’s most robust route network in the world, will give business and leisure travelers access to a stellar flight experience,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement. “Our mission has always been about connecting people and now working with Boom, we’ll be able to do that on an even greater scale.”

The planes are not only fast, they’re efficient. The supersonic aircraft is expected to be net-zero carbon and fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuel, according to United.

And comfort won’t be forgotten with in-seat entertainment screens and contactless technology built in, the airline noted.

“United and Boom share a common purpose — to unite the world safely and sustainably,” Blake Scholl, Boom Supersonic founder and CEO, said in a statement. “At speeds twice as fast, United passengers will experience all the advantages of life lived in person, from deeper, more productive business relationships to longer, more relaxing vacations to far-off destinations.”

The supersonic aircraft is expected to take its first flights in 2026 and carry passengers in 2029.

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How to See June’s Annular Solar Eclipse

How to See June's Annular Solar Eclipse

A partial solar eclipse will be visible across North America on June 10.

On Thursday, June 10, a huge partial solar eclipse will be visible across North America at sunrise — and that includes parts of the U.S.

In parts of Canada, Greenland, and over the North Pole to Russia, it will even be possible to see a “ring of fire” around the sun. However, everyone viewing the eclipse must use ISO-approved eclipse glasses and solar filters for cameras. That’s crucial to avoid damaging your eyes.

It will be the first of three solar eclipses in four years for North America, with another “ring of fire” solar eclipse in 2023 before a spectacular total solar eclipse in 2024 to rival 2017’s “Great American Eclipse.”

Related: More space travel and astronomy

What is an annular solar eclipse?
An annular solar eclipse is a beautiful kind of partial eclipse of the sun where the moon is just a bit too far away from Earth (and too small in the sky) to completely cover the sun. On June 10, a maximum of 89% of the sun will be covered by the moon, so inside the path of annularity —stretching from Lake Superior in northern Ontario through Quebec and Nunavut, Canada — the moon will appear to have a ring of sunlight around it for over three minutes. Everyone else in northeastern North America will see a huge chunk taken out of the sun by the moon.

What time is the eclipse?
This eclipse will happen at, or soon after, sunrise, and last for around an hour. Travel restrictions mean virtually no one will be able to travel to the wildernesses of Canada to see the “ring of fire,” though if you’re desperate, you could try to snag a last-minute seat on Sky & Telescope’s special eclipse flight operating out of Minneapolis-St.Paul airport.

If not, a very big partial solar eclipse before breakfast will be an incredible sight in northeast U.S. states including New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine, as well as Ontario and Quebec in Canada. For example, in New York, it will be possible to see a 72% eclipsed sunrise with “devil’s horns,” which in clear skies will be an iconic sight beside Manhattan landmarks. That will happen at 5:24 a.m. EST.

Related: How to See the 2021 Total Solar Eclipse in Antarctica

How to See the ‘Devil’s Horns’ at Sunrise
To see the “devil’s horns” — two limbs of the sun poking above the horizon – you’re going to need to be in the right place at the right time, look in the right direction, and hope for clear skies. The eclipsed sun will rise in the northeast, so either be on an east-facing shore of the Atlantic Ocean or a lake, or get yourself up somewhere high so you can see down to the horizon.

Best Places to See the ‘Devil’s Horns’ at Sunrise
According to GreatAmericanEclipse.com, the best places to see this phenomena are around Thunder Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Toronto, Philadelphia, New York City, and Atlantic City. A slightly different view of one limb of the eclipsed sun poking above the horizon — known as a “shark’s fin” — may be seen from Ottawa, Montreal, and Boston.

There are some fabulous resources out there to consult if you really want to get this right. There are useful maps on GreatAmericanEclipse.com, while this interactive Google Map of the event is also essential. There are even Google Earth downloads and a must-see simulation of exactly what you will witness from any town in the U.S.

When is the next solar eclipse in North America?
After the partial solar eclipse on June 10, 2021, North America will have to wait over two years for its next. On October 14, 2023, an annular solar eclipse will strike the U.S. and move through Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas before being visible from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Colombia, and Brazil. In the U.S., it will cross many national parks, including Crater Lake in Oregon, Great Basin in Nevada, and Utah’s Bryce Canyon, among dozens of others.

Six months later on April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will strike Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. The 120-mile-wide “path of totality” — the moon’s shadow — will pass over 15 U.S. states and over 30 million people. That could be the most-watched celestial event ever.

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Disney Cruise Line Latest Company to Receive CDC Approval for Test Sailings

Disney Cruise Line Latest Company to Receive CDC Approval for Test Sailings

“We look forward to our amazing crew once again creating magic for our guests and to helping the many workers who support our industry get back to work.”

Disney Cruise Line will set sail on a test cruise later this month after receiving approval from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cruise line will sail a two-night cruise on the Disney Dream on June 29, a spokeswoman for the company told Travel Leisure, the next step in resuming U.S. cruises this summer. The CDC requires test cruises for all cruise lines unless 98% of crew and 95% of passengers are fully vaccinated.

“We have reached an important next step toward our gradual and responsible resumption of service, and are grateful for the productive dialogue with state, local and federal officials, the CDC and others in our industry that has made this possible,” Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman with Disney Cruise Line, told T+L. “We look forward to our amazing crew once again creating magic for our guests and to helping the many workers who support our industry get back to work.”

The two night simulation cruise will depart from Florida’s Port Canaveral, USA Today reported.

All test cruises must sail with volunteers who are at least 18 years old and who agree to post-trip testing and sample collection.

Unlike several cruise lines, Disney has not announced a vaccine requirement to board its U.S. ships going forward. The cruise line will require guests 18 and older to be vaccinated before embarking on its planned UK sailings on the “Disney Magic.”

Disney’s restart plans come days after Royal Caribbean became the first U.S. cruise line to receive CDC approval to begin test sailings. For its part, Royal Caribbean will set out for its first cruise on the “Freedom of the Seas” and vaccines will not be required to board the ship.

Beyond the test sailing, Disney has canceled its U.S. departures through July.

“We continue to work closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to carefully review and implement their recently released guidance and refine our protocols for a responsible and gradual return to service in U.S. waters,” the company wrote on its website.

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