Get 50% Off Train Fares in Honor of Amtrak’s 50th Anniversary

Get 50% Off Train Fares in Honor of Amtrak’s 50th Anniversary

Get 50% Off Train Fares in Honor of Amtrak’s 50th Anniversary
Just after midnight on May 1, 1971, a Clocker train left New York City bound for Philadelphia as the inaugural departure for Amtrak. Now, 50 years later, the rail service has grown into a network with more than 300 trains a day traveling along its 21,000 route miles to more than 500 destinations in 46 states. To celebrate its 50th anniversary this week, Amtrak is honoring its passengers by offering 50% off fares, with a maximum of $50 off each segment.

In the sale that launched today, the savings can be applied on one-way coach and Acela business class fares on routes across the country. The offer must be booked between now and May 5, 2021, for travel dates between June 2 and Nov. 13, 2021.

Some of the low fares include $15 one-way coach trips between Emeryville and Sacramento in California; Chicago and East Lansing, Michigan; and Boston and Portland, Maine. There are also $18 coach fares from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, and $19 coach rides from Philadelphia to New York and Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia. Longer rides available for $50 one way in coach include New York to Miami; Washington, D.C. to Chicago; Los Angeles to Seattle; and Lorton, Virginia, to Sanford, Florida.

One-way Acela business class routes are just $41 from Philadelphia to New York; $46 from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia; $49 from New York to Boston; or $50 from New York to Washington, D.C.

The sale is valid on all routes minus the Pennsylvanian and Keystone Service (between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh), Pacific Surfliner, New Haven-Springfield Shuttle, and 7000-8999 thruway connecting services.

“Since launching service in 1971, Amtrak has been continuously driving toward the future — setting ambitious sustainability goals, rolling out sleek new locomotives, and extending access to new communities,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement sent to Travel + Leisure, while announcing the “deeply discounted fares” to “welcome travelers back.”

Mandatory COVID-19 safety precautions are in place on board the interstate network, with masks required by federal law on both the trains as well as in the stations. The trains also have a filtration system that exchanges the air in each cabin every four to five minutes. Additionally, Amtrak has implemented a search function while booking to allow travelers to see the percentage of seats sold and opt for ones with less capacity.

Amtrak kicked off its 50th anniversary year on New Year’s Day by debuting the new $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall at New York City’s Penn Station.

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100 fake Covid tests are discovered every day by border officials

100 fake Covid tests are discovered every day by border officials

UK border staff discover 100 fake Covid test certificates every day

Border officers are spotting about 100 fake Covid test certificates at the border every day in what has been called a “very leaky system” by Professor Deenan Pillay, a member of the Independent SAGE group of scientists.

MPs have been told that the fake documents showing a recent negative test result are “very easy” to forge. What’s more, there is no way to tell how many more fake documents are being missed.

According to Lucy Moreton, professional officer for the Immigration Services Union (ISU), which represents border immigration and customs staff in the UK, around 20,000 people are entering the country every day. Most of them are truckers.

She told the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Covid that “its predominantly taken on trust” and that there is “little to no” evidence on how well people are adhering to quarantine rules.

“‘We trust people when they say they have not been in a red list country in the last 10 days, we trust people when they say that they are going to quarantine. The whole thing is based on an assumption that people will do the right thing.”

The legal requirements to enter England is proof of a negative test taken three days before departure. The negative test can be either a printed document, a text or an email.

As the documents are low tech, they are ripe for forgery. In effect, there is no full-proof way of identifying bogus negative test certificates.

Layla Moran MP, Chair of the APPG on Coronavirus, wants the Government to “actively discourage foreign travel”. She said:

“The stark evidence we heard today exposed how current border checks are totally inadequate to stop Covid cases entering the UK, including dangerous variants.

“The government must act now to stop our airports becoming breeding grounds for the virus. That means reducing overcrowding in arrival halls, effectively separating passengers arriving from red list countries and carrying out thorough checks to root out fake documentation and ensure people comply with the rules.”

Though border staff are successfully spotting fake documents which obviously look bogus, an unknown number of good quality forgeries could be getting through. For instance, if the certificate is provided in a foreign language, border officials could easily miss spelling mistakes.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

“Border Force is checking that every passenger has complied with current health measures when arriving at the border.

“Providing falsified documents is against the law. Border Force officers are trained to detect falsified and counterfeit documents and have the right to refuse entry and issue £500 fine to any visitor they believe has travelled to the UK using fraudulent covid test certificates.

“Individuals who fail to comply with their legal duty to quarantine at home following international travel can be fined £1,000, increasing up to £10,000 for repeat offences.”


Airport Security Frequently Asked Questions

Airport Security Frequently Asked Questions

If you haven’t flown in a while, you may not be up-to-date on the latest airport security changes from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Most travelers are aware that the TSA has instituted strict regulations about the amount of toothpaste, bottled water, and other liquid and gel items that travelers are permitted to bring in carry-on luggage. But what exactly are the rules? Just how much of your favorite shampoo can you bring? Are the rules different if you’re flying overseas? And what about powders?


I’ve gathered answers to these and other common airport security questions to help you figure out your packing strategy under the TSA’s carry-on rules. With air traffic soaring, it’s more important than ever to follow the guidelines—that way you won’t be the fool holding up your entire security line.


Editor’s note: Remember to always follow all COVID-19 restrictions, rules, and safety regulations at the airport, at your destination, and upon returning home. For further questions about airport security procedures and COVID-19, you can visit the TSA’s FAQ page here.


Q. Are liquids and gels permitted in my checked baggage?

A. Yes. The liquid/gel restrictions only apply to carry-on baggage.


Q. May I bring liquids and gels in my carry-on?

A. Yes, but only in limited amounts. Liquids and gels must be in individual containers of 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less and placed inside one clear, quart-size, plastic, zip-top bag (such as this option from Ziploc). The TSA emphasizes that containers should fit comfortably into your bag and that only one bag is permitted per passenger. If you need to bring more than 3.4 ounces of any liquid or gel substance, it should go into your checked luggage or be shipped ahead.


Q. What about prescription medications, baby formula, or milk?

A. These substances are exempt from the rules above. As long as you declare them at the security checkpoint, you may carry more than 3.4 ounces, and they do not need to be placed in a plastic bag. The TSA recommends but does not require that prescription medications be in their original labeled containers to expedite the screening process. The TSA also makes exceptions for other medical necessities such as insulin, eye drops, or syringes. Just make sure to present these items to the security officer when you reach the checkpoint. (You may even want to consider printing out the TSA’s medical notification cards.)


RELATED: 10 Ways to Survive a Long-Haul Flight

Q. May I pour shampoo and other liquids or gels into unmarked, travel-size containers?

A. Yes, refillable travel-size containers are acceptable.


Q. Can I bring powders on a plane?

A. As of June 2018, powdered items such as coffee, spices, and baby powder in excess of 12 ounces will be subject to additional screening. You may be asked to remove them if they’re judged dangerous or unidentifiable. Learn more here.


Q. Do solid vitamins and medications need to be packed in their original containers?

A. While keeping medications and vitamins in their original labeled containers may expedite the screening process, it’s fine to transfer them into more convenient smaller containers such as daily pill minders.


Q: What type of shoes should I wear through security?

Consider slip-on shoes that can easily be removed at the checkpoint. Below are a couple of examples.


Best Shoe for Women to Wear Through Security

Best Shoe for Women to Wear Through Security

Feather Loafer Flat by Steve Madden …MORE 


SEE DETAILS 

Best Shoe for Men to Wear Through Security

Best Shoe for Men to Wear Through Security

Classic Slip-On by Vans …MORE 


SEE DETAILS 

Q. Can I take makeup on a plane?

A. Makeup is subject to the same liquid and gel rules as all other substances—so if you’re bringing liquid mascara, lip gels (such as Blistex ointment), or other liquid- or gel-like items, they will need to be placed in your quart-size plastic bag in 3.4-ounce or smaller containers. Lipstick, solid lip balms (such as ChapStick), and other solid beauty products are not subject to the rules and may be carried in your hand luggage without restriction. Powders are subject to the rules noted above.


RELATED: 6 Things Not to Wear on a Plane

Q. What are the TSA rules for deodorant?

A. Standard stick deodorant is fine to bring on a plane in either your checked or carry-on bag. Gel or spray deodorant is subject to the liquid/gel restrictions and may not be carried on in excess of 3.4 ounces.


Q. Can I bring food on a plane?

A. The same liquid and gel restrictions apply when you want to bring food through airport security. Even though a TSA representative once told me to “try not to over-think” the guidelines, that can be tricky when it comes to food. Does a cheesecake count as a gel or a solid? What about pecan pie? And can you bring your holiday leftovers like turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes?


A TSA rep told me that turkey and stuffing should be solid enough to pass muster, but mashed potatoes are a bit too gel-like. As for baked goods, the latest word from the TSA is that travelers can take pies, cakes, and other bakery products through security—but be prepared for additional screening.


You may bring solid snack foods such as pretzels, potato chips, or carrot sticks for the plane, but you might want to hold the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Single-serving packages of condiments are permitted as long as they fit within your single zip-top bag. All food must be securely wrapped or in a spill-proof container.


Gel packs to refrigerate food are permitted for medication, but otherwise must be completely solid when you go through the checkpoint. If your freezer pack is partially defrosted and there’s any water in your container, the TSA may confiscate the item.


My advice? If you have any doubts about a particular food, either check it or leave it at home. After all, you can always buy food or drinks after you pass through the security checkpoint if you need some munchies for the plane.


RELATED: 10 Tasty Snacks You Can Bring on the Plane

Q. If I purchase beverages or other liquids/gels beyond the security checkpoint at the airport, may I bring them on the plane?

A. In most cases, yes. However, there are some airports (particularly overseas) where you may face additional screening at the gate before boarding, so you may occasionally have to give up larger bottles.


Q. How does the TSA handle screening for children?

A. Children 12 and under do not need to remove shoes, light jackets, or headwear before going through the checkpoint. If the metal detector or full-body scanner finds anomalies, the screener may choose to let the child go through again and/or swab the child’s hands for explosives in lieu of a pat-down. Children age 13 and up are subject to the same screening processes as adults.


Q. Are there any special TSA rules for seniors?

A. Yes. Seniors 75 and older can leave their shoes and light jackets on during screening (although they may have to remove them if the screener finds any anomalies).


RELATED: Why You Should Never Go Barefoot at Airport Security

Q. What are the TSA rules for lithium batteries?

A. Loose lithium batteries are not permitted in checked bags. If your batteries are installed in a device (such as a camera), you may pack the device in either a checked bag or a carry-on, but loose lithium batteries may only be transported in your carry-on luggage. Certain quantity limits apply to both loose and installed batteries; for more information, see these FAA guidelines.


RELATED: Can You Bring Batteries on Planes?

Q. May I bring a cigarette lighter on a plane? What about e-cigarettes?

A. Common lighters without fuel are permitted in carry-on or checked baggage, while torch lighters (which are typically used to light pipes and cigars) are prohibited in either type of baggage. E-cigarettes are only permitted in carry-on luggage, not in your checked bag.


RELATED: 8 Things You Should Always Do on a Plane

Q. May I bring tweezers, razors, or scissors on the plane?

A. Tweezers are permitted, as are electric razors, disposable razors, and their cartridges. Straight razors are only permitted in your carry-on as long as the blades are packed in your checked baggage. Scissors are allowed on a plane in your carry-on bag as long as the blades do not exceed four inches; otherwise, they should go in your checked bag. (For travel, consider small folding safety scissors such as these.)


Q. May I bring needlepoint or knitting needles on the plane?

A. Yes. However, circular thread cutters, scissors longer than four inches, and other needlepoint tools with blades must be packed in checked luggage.


RELATED: Heading to the Airport? Use This Pre-Flight Checklist

Q. May I bring CBD oil or marijuana on the plane?

A. That depends. If you’re flying within the United States, it is legal to travel with products that contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. If you’re traveling internationally, you may be better off leaving these products at home unless you’ve thoroughly researched your destination’s laws and know that what you’re bringing is legal. The TSA does not specifically screen for illegal drugs but will report them to law enforcement if found. To learn more, see Can You Travel with CBD Oil?


Q. Are security rules different for international travel?

A. The European Union (E.U.), Australia, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Norway, and numerous other countries have adopted similar security restrictions to those in the U.S. You are permitted 100-milliliter containers of liquid and gel substances, packed within a clear, resealable, one-liter plastic bag.


If you’re not sure which airport security rules will apply in the country you’re visiting, contact your airline or the local tourist board for advice.


Q. May I bring duty-free liquids in my carry-on bags?

A. Duty-free liquids, such as perfume or alcohol, are permitted in excess of 3.4 ounces as long as they were purchased at a duty-free shop and placed in special tamper-evident bags. Liquids not in these bags must be stowed in your checked suitcase if you have more than 3.4 ounces. Be sure to retain your receipt for the item, as you must be able to prove that you purchased it within the previous 48 hours.


RELATED: 7 Things Not to Do When Packing a Carry-On

Q. May I bring dry ice on a plane?

A. Passengers may bring up to 5.5 pounds of dry ice in either their carry-on or checked bag as long as it’s stored in a package that allows the venting of carbon dioxide gas. Airline approval is required. Ice in your carry-on must be in a solid state when going through the security checkpoint. That said, a DOT spokesperson recommends that travelers avoid packing dry ice in carry-on luggage, as individual TSA agents unfamiliar with the regulations may confiscate the substance.


Q. I have a hearing aid, wheelchair, CPAP machine, pacemaker, or another medical device. How will this be handled during my security screening?

A. Although there have been horror stories about the TSA’s treatment of flyers with disabilities and medical conditions, most security officers are discreet and professional. As soon as you approach the TSA agent, disclose your medical issue so that he or she can determine the best way to screen you and any equipment you may be carrying. The TSA does not require travelers to carry a doctor’s note describing their condition, but having this written description may help expedite the screening process. Again, consider carrying the TSA’s medication notification cards.


RELATED: Travel with a CPAP Machine: Everything You Need to Know

Q. How early should I arrive at the airport to allow for screening?

A. It’s best to arrive at the airport two hours before a domestic flight, especially if you’re traveling during the summer, the holidays, or another particularly busy time of year. If you’re flying internationally, you should allow yourself even more time. For more information, see How Early Should I Get to the Airport?


Q. What should I expect at the security checkpoint?

A. You will have to put your shoes, clear plastic bag of liquids, jacket, jewelry, cell phone, keys, and metal items into a bin for screening before you step through the metal detector or the full-body scanning machine. (If you opt out of the full-body scan, you will face an “enhanced” pat-down, which is performed by a security officer of your gender and covers all areas of the body, including the groin, buttocks, and breasts.) You might also need to remove your belt if it has any metal parts. (Consider a belt with a plastic buckle to avoid this.) Laptops, tablets, and other electronics larger than a cell phone should be removed from their cases and screened individually.


Save time by putting metal items into your carry-on before you get to the checkpoint, taking your electronic items out of their cases, and wearing easily removable footwear.


RELATED: 10 Things Not to Do at Airport Security

Q. If I go through the full-body scanner once and it brings up an alert, can I request to go through again before having a pat-down?

A. According to a TSA representative, you may request to be rescanned before submitting to a pat-down, but it’s up to the individual TSA officer to decide whether to grant that request, based on whether the situation meets security protocols.


Q. I’m bringing birthday or holiday gifts. What’s the best way to pack them?

A. Do not pack wrapped gifts in either your carry-on or checked baggage, as the TSA may unwrap them for inspection. Your best bet is to wrap your gifts once you arrive at your destination, or ship them ahead of time. You can also put items in gift bags that are easy for the TSA to examine.


Q. May I bring electronic items on the plane or in my checked luggage? If so, how should I pack them?

A. Laptops, cameras, tablets, hand-held video game consoles, e-readers, and most other standard electronic devices are permitted in both checked and carry-on luggage. (It’s best to keep them in your carry-on to reduce the risk of loss or theft.) As noted above, you should be prepared to remove most of these devices from their cases at the security checkpoint. Because electronic items tend to be frequent targets for security screening, you might want to pack these near the top of your bag so that inspectors don’t need to unpack your whole suitcase to get to them.


Q. Can I lock my checked suitcase?

A. Yes, but you’ll need to use a TSA-approved lock so that screeners can open it if your bag is selected for inspection. TSA screeners will simply cut off non-approved locks if they need to get into your bag. For more information, see Luggage Locks: Should I Lock My Suitcase When I Fly?


Q. Is there a faster way to get through security?

A. Yes. Consider signing up for TSA’s PreCheck program, which offers access to expedited security lines. To learn more, see TSA PreCheck: 10 Things You Need to Know. If you frequently travel internationally, consider getting Global Entry instead, which includes PreCheck membership.


RELATED: Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck: Which Is Better?

Q. Where can I find more information about airport security?

A. Check TSA.gov for packing tips, a searchable list of permitted and prohibited items, and information for travelers who require additional assistance or accommodation.





How to Get Paid to Speed Through Airport Security

How to Get Paid to Speed Through Airport Security

Do you want to get paid to speed through airport security? CLEAR is now offering travelers a free three-month trial, $20 in Lyft airport ride credit, and a $50 LoungeBuddy credit to test its security-expediting services.

CLEAR members get to bypass the TSA’s ID check line and head straight for security screening. Instead of having an officer check your identification, CLEAR will verify your identity by scanning your finger or eye at one of its machines. Then, if you’re a TSA PreCheck member, you’ll head for the PreCheck security screening, and other travelers go to the regular security screening.

At $179 a year, CLEAR is far more expensive than TSA PreCheck’s membership fee of $85 every five years. CLEAR is currently available at over 35 airports and sports stadiums nationwide, compared to PreCheck’s availability at over 200 American airports. But because CLEAR hasn’t yet reached the same popularity as PreCheck, it might have shorter wait times.

Even better, children under 18 can use CLEAR for free if they’re accompanied by a family member who uses the service. Meanwhile, TSA PreCheck only permits kids ages 12 and younger to go with a family member through its screening.

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Ready to travel? Survey says 22 million Brits don’t know how long they need left on their passport to travel to Europe

Ready to travel? Survey says 22 million Brits don’t know how long they need left on their passport to travel to Europe

Survey reveals many people are unaware of the new rules for visiting Europe following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Key tourist destinations like Spain and Greece are hoping to welcome UK tourists when restrictions lift, however new research from Post Office reveals many people are unaware of the new rules for visiting Europe following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

In fact, 42 per cent of people surveyed couldn’t correctly identify the six months required on their passport to travel.

Almost half (49 per cent) of people said they are considering taking a trip abroad once Covid restrictions lift, with more than a third (36 per cent) already planning to head to Europe. Despite this, 37 per cent admitted they don’t feel confident booking a holiday to Europe, with one in five (17 per cent) of those who are unconfident attributing their nervousness to the changes since the UK’s exit.

It isn’t just passports British travellers are not sure of, 37 per cent of people don’t know when their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) expires. Whilst an EHIC covers basic healthcare over two fifths (43 per cent) of those surveyed were unable to correctly identify factors that the EHIC covers, with 9 per cent believing it covers cancelled flights, 9 per cent lost luggage, and 8 per cent damaged personal goods.

Interestingly, 34 per cent claim they never or only sometimes purchase travel insurance when they go on holiday to Europe.

For many people, the risks of Covid-19 are still a top concern when considering holidaying. However, holidaymakers also need to be aware of new rules in the wake of the UK’s exit from the European Union and plan ahead to avoid disruption to their holiday plans.

Ed Dutton, Post Office Spokesperson:

“It’s not surprising that almost of third of us are keen to get away to Europe once Covid-19 restrictions allow, but this hotly anticipated summer is the first time holidaymakers will face new rules since the UK’s exit from the European Union. The key thing is to plan ahead, renewing your passport can take a few weeks, so check its expiration now before you even think about booking a trip to avoid any last-minute disappointments.”

Here are some top tips to get Europe travel ready:

Check your passport expiry date – you need at least six months validity on your passport to travel to the EU. Post Office offers a digital and paper Check & Send service, which guides you through the process and helps ensure all your paperwork is correctly filled out. Visit https://www.postoffice.co.uk/identity/renew-adult-passport to find out more. 

Buy the right travel insurance when you book your holiday – this means you are protecting the holiday itself should any cancellations occur before you travel, as well as being covered for what happens when you’re on the trip.  

Check if your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is valid – an EHIC will cover you for basic medical care when in Europe, so make sure your card is in date. If it’s expired or soon to expire, you’ll need to apply for the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Remember, an EHIC/GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance, so this should always be purchased for additional protection.   

Check if you get a refund guarantee on your travel money – whether you buy cash or a travel money card for your holiday spending from Post Office, you get a refund guarantee which means if your holiday is cancelled within 28 days of your purchase you can exchange the full amount of foreign currency for the price you paid for it. You can also exchange back unused money after a trip by using currency buy-back which will be at our normal counter rates. Recent research from Post Office shows we hoard over £3.5 billion worth of foreign currency at home3.  

Check if you need an International Driving Permit (IDP) – if you’ve got a UK card driving licence you don’t need an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, however, if you have a UK paper driving license then you will. You can use the Post Office country checker to check which one you’ll need and then apply in branch.  

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Vaccinated Travelers Can Fly to Iceland for Less Than $350 — but You’ll Have to Book Soon

Vaccinated Travelers Can Fly to Iceland for Less Than $350 — but You’ll Have to Book Soon

Along with discounted flights, Icelandair is offering epic vacation packages starting at $599.

Between the active volcanoes, powerful waterfalls, and adorably short horses, Iceland has something for every traveler. And right now, those looking for an unforgettable getaway can book a flight to the country for less than $350.

As Iceland prepares to welcome vaccinated visitors on April 6, Icelandair is celebrating with a can’t-miss sale complete with inexpensive flights and a dreamy vacation package exploring the best the country has to offer, the airline shared with Travel + Leisure.

“With the news that Iceland has opened [its] borders to all vaccinated passengers, Icelandair is pleased to offer a sale like no other,” Icelandair spokesperson Michael Raucheisen told T+L. “It has been a long year but we look forward to connecting North America with Iceland and Europe once again and welcoming you aboard.”

Travelers who book by April 13 and travel between June 1 and Feb. 28, 2022, can fly to Iceland from several North American cities starting as low as $349 roundtrip. Departure cities include Boston, New York, Chicago, and Seattle.

Between the active volcanoes, powerful waterfalls, and adorably short horses, Iceland has something for every traveler. And right now, those looking for an unforgettable getaway can book a flight to the country for less than $350.

Looking ahead for a fully planned adventure filled with geothermal hot springs and dancing Northern Lights? Icelandair offers a wintry package to the land of fire and ice starting at only $599 that welcomes travelers to the soon-to-open Sky Lagoon, a gorgeous ocean-front lagoon featuring a 230-foot infinity-edge, and ends the night by searching for the Aurora Borealis with a boat tour away from the light pollution of Reykjavík.

The package is available for departures from Oct. 1 through Feb. 25, 2022, excluding the time around Christmas and New Year’s, and must be booked by April 13.

In addition to flying to Iceland, the airline is planning ahead with fares to Europe also starting at $399, including to popular destinations like Amsterdam, London, and Paris. While American tourists are not currently allowed to fly to those countries, the deal is good through February of next year.

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6 Affordable Dream Vacations Under $1,000 to Take in 2021

6 Affordable Dream Vacations Under $1,000 to Take in 2021

Don’t let your budget bring down your bucket list. These six incredible dream trips are all extremely affordable—all of the tours featured here are under $1,000. Save these for when you’re ready to travel again or book them for later this year—these tours have flexible cancellation policies in case you need to reschedule. 

Exodus Travels: Walking the Antrim Coast, IrelandRamble past castles, windswept beaches, and rugged cliffs as you explore one of the most beautiful sections of Ireland’s northern coast—the Antrim Way. On Exodus Travels’ self-guided Walking the Antrim Coast tour, you’ll be able to walk at your own pace (and not have to haul a giant backpack) as your luggage is sent on ahead to each new hotel. In between scenic walks, you’ll have the chance to sip classic Irish whiskey at the Bushmills distillery, stand in awe at the Giant’s Causeway, and cross the famous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Trip prices start at $949. 

G Adventures: Rajasthan: Laneways & Local Villages, India

15 days in India for just $620? It’s possible on G Adventures’ Rajasthan: Laneways & Local Villages Tour. This trip starts and end in Delhi, and takes you on a whirlwind loop through the desert town of Mandawa, the “blue city” Jodhpur, the gorgeous lakes of Udaipur, the holy city of Pushkar, the historic village of Tordi Garh, and the “pink city” Jaipur.

REI Adventure Whistler Backpacking, USA

The vibrantly colored lakes of Whistler don’t even look real in photos. Verify their beauty yourself in-person on REI’s Adventure Whistler Backpacking tour. Starting at just $899 for a four-day backpacking adventure, the trip begins in Whistler Village, where a gondola will whisk you to the top of Whistler Mountain for an epic hike. Along the way, you’ll camp in the backcountry, swim in lakes, and hike through alpine forests, for an unforgettable trip.

Adventure Cycling Association Olympic Discovery Trail, USA

The Olympic Discovery Trail is a 230-mile network of bike paths and shared roads, and you can traverse it all on two-wheels on the Adventure Cycling Association’s Olympic Discovery Trail tour. This van-supported journey begins and ends in Port Townsend, and costs just $799 for four-days. 

Chimu Adventures: Highlights of Guatemala, Guatemala

Spend seven days exploring Guatemala’s highlights, while only spending $860, on Chimu Adventures’ Highlights of Guatemala tour. The trip begins in the UNESCO World Heritage city of Antigua, where you’ll visit local markets and tour historic sites. The rest of the journey takes you through picturesque Lake Atitlan and the ancient wonders of Tikal National Park.

Intrepid Travel: Essential Morocco, Morocco

Experience the highlights of Morocco on Intrepid Travel’s Essential Morocco tour. This 11-day trip gives a great overview of the country, starting in Marrakech and ending in Casablanca. You’ll get the perfect mix of cities and nature on this trip, with stops in Fez, the Todra Gorge, and Ait Benhaddou.


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Could Cruising Become the Safest Mode of Travel?

Could Cruising Become the Safest Mode of Travel?

Of all the segments of the travel industry that took a hit from the pandemic, none emerged with more damage to its reputation than the cruise trade. With sensational stories of passengers and crew—many sick with Covid-19 and some even dying—being unwelcome at ports around the world and some cruise lines criticized for their cavalier approach to the pandemic, cruising fell into a deep hole that it’s spent the last year digging out of.

So it might be surprising to consider that cruising may emerge as one of the most secure modes of travel in 2021 and beyond. To rebuild consumer confidence and avoid future health and optics disasters, cruise companies are setting up rigid protocols to make sure passengers and crew arrive onboard healthy and stay that way for their entire journey.

A Year to Regroup

 The 2020 cruise season effectively ended late last spring, when the last COVID-afflicted ships finally found safe harbors. In the interim, the industry has been doing its homework, with the dual task of inspiring confidence and embracing reality. “They’ve spent the year studying the science of how Covid-19 is transmitted,” says Chris Gray Faust, managing editor of Cruise Critic, “and the protocols they need to put in place to make people feel comfortable once they’re on board.”

While a lot of cleaning and sanitizing protocols have actually always been there, explains Ellen Bettridge, president and CEO of Uniworld River Cruises, they are now more front-facing—part of an effort to reassure passengers that they are taking a safe vacation. New protocols, depending on the cruise line, include social distancing measures onboard, staggered seatings at mealtime, and readier availability of handwashing and sanitizing stations. Techier solutions include individual air filtration systems in every cabin, electrostatic sprayers that disinfect large areas, onboard PCR testing, and facial recognition devices that touchlessly take passengers’ temperature every time they enter the ship.

Testing & Vaccines: Mandatory or Maybe?

A clean ship and safe passengers onboard work just fine once the vessel has left port. But how will cruise lines ensure they’re boarding COVID-free passengers, and keep them from being exposed to the virus while they’re out on shore excursions? Like so many of the questions surrounding travel in the era of Covid, the answer is: It depends.

Saga, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Crystal are among the more high-profile lines that have made the call—they’ll require passengers to be fully vaccinated in order to sail. Royal Caribbean’s newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, will also require all passengers be vaccinated—that’s part of the reason its maiden voyages are sailing from Israel, which has a very high percentage of its population already vaccinated.

 

Uniworld has yet to decide on mandatory vaccines for passengers, but Bettridge seemed to suggest it might not be necessary. The line, which suspended sailings in early March of last year and hopes to resume European cruises by May, caters primarily to American tourists. Since most of their passengers will be flying to reach their port of call, the company assumes that most, if not all, will already be vaccinated by the time they undertake a trip. “We’re kind of the second layer of a vacation,” she says, “and we’re watching what the airlines are going to require.” For now, the company plans to have passengers sign a ‘well-being travel declaration’ attesting to their negative COVID status. Many other cruise lines are planning to require proof of a negative COVID test within several days of sailing.

 

Questions also remain as to how exactly shore excursions will be handled. Expedition cruise lines have it easy—most of their excursions take place in remote, unpopulated natural areas. River and ocean cruises, however, have to deal with letting passengers leave the ship and wander on their own. Solutions may include requiring passengers to take ship-sponsored excursions in order to disembark. “Sponsored excursions protect people by keeping them in a bubble,” says Gray Faust. “Plus, most of the excursions are for things you might want to do anyway.” But will passengers balk at having to stay in an excursion bubble, unable to explore on their own?

“The situation is literally evolving day by day,” says Gray Faust. “Cruise lines are trying to adjust according to what’s happening on land.” A month ago, vaccine requirements and mandatory sponsored excursions may have seemed like extreme, but necessary measures. Six months from now, they may be redundant.

 Important too is the situation from country-to-country, as the industry looks to individual governments for guidance. Currently, no large operators have sailings scheduled from U.S. ports, in part because the CDC hasn’t issued guidelines for ships that carry more than 250 passengers. In the United Kingdom, where Viking and P&O have recently announced the resumption of cruises, Andy Harmer, director of the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) for the UK & Ireland, says these developments are part of a long-planned, phased-in restart. “UK domestic cruises represent the first stage of this plan. We continue to work collaboratively with the government, including through the Global Travel Taskforce, in order to ensure the safe restart of international cruises in time for the summer season.” For now, these itineraries are only open to UK residents, and the P&O cruises are “scenic-only”—also referred to as “cruises to nowhere.” They have no ports-of-call, but give travel-starved passengers the perks of the cruise experience—minus the excursions.

Bettridge predicts that at the outset of the 2021 season, Uniworld and others may opt for similar single-country cruises in countries that are both welcoming cruise passengers and have been declared Covid-safe. “Then once Europe starts to open up,” she says, they’ll bring back the multi-state itineraries that river cruisers love.

Whatever the timing, industry experts say there’s cause for optimism. Both Gray Faust and Bettridge used the term “gangbusters” to describe prospects going forward. Bettridge says that while this summer might get off to a slow start, “late 2021 looks really strong and 2022 is on fire.” Antarctic cruises—some of the most expensive in the industry—are also selling briskly, especially for this December’s solar eclipse itineraries. And judging from their audience surveys, Gray Faust says enthusiasm is high across all segments of the industry. “Avid cruisers are ready to go.”

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What Countries Are Likely to Reopen to Travel First?

What Countries Are Likely to Reopen to Travel First?

Are countries reopening? We answer this question and ones on face masks, TSA PreCheck, and more in this month’s edition of our travel advice column.

Q. “I’m hoping to get my vaccine soon, and I want to book a trip (safely) for late summer. What countries are most likely to be open to American travelers the soonest?” – KT

A. To figure out what countries are most likely to be open to tourism, take a look at what current rules are. There are some countries (like Mexico, Costa Rica, Albania, The Dominican Republic, and Tanzania) that have already opened to American tourists, and they’re likely to still be welcoming visitors when you’re ready to travel. Other countries, like Belize, Iceland, and Georgia, are opening without restrictions to fully vaccinated visitors. (See the full list of countries open to vaccinated tourists here.) 

 

Hoping for a vacation to Australia or Thailand? Both countries have announced tentative plans to reopen to tourists in October. 

Regions that seem the most likely to reopen first to American tourists include the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa. Much of Europe and Asia are estimated to open later in the year. 

Q. “I have had Global Entry for at least four years, but I do not always get PreCheck. I went through the PreCheck line once, and was sent back despite showing my Global Entry card, because I had no PreCheck on my pass. This has happened several times and when I ask TSA agents, they always tell me that most global entry subscribers think the PreCheck comes automatically. However, it does not. I even ended up paying for both, and I still do not get PreCheck about five percent of the time. Why?” – AP

 

A. The good news is, you can stop paying double for both PreCheck and Global Entry. The bad news is, neither service automatically guarantees that you’ll get PreCheck every time. Global Entry includes PreCheck, along with giving you expedited customs screening when you reenter the U.S., so there’s no need to buy both services.

However, PreCheck is never guaranteed to travelers. According to the TSA, they use “unpredictable security measures, both seen and unseen, throughout the airport. All travelers will be screened, and no individual is guaranteed expedited screening.”

Not getting PreCheck is pretty rare, and it’s more likely that the airline didn’t get your trusted traveler number in their system. I’ve had this happen fairly frequently, where I know I put the trusted traveler number in during booking, but then when I check-in ahead of time, I don’t get the PreCheck symbol on my boarding pass. When that happens, I call the airline, and they add my trusted traveler number to the reservation, and 99% of the time, I’m able to reprint my boarding pass with the PreCheck symbol.

 

To avoid having to wait in the regular line, always check-in as early as possible, and if you don’t get PreCheck, give your airline a call to make sure they have your trusted traveler number. While you’re at it, make sure your trusted traveler number is added to your profile for each airline, which can save you time in the future.

 

Q. “Have there been any updates on the “vaccine passport” idea?” – PH

A. There aren’t any official vaccine passports in place yet, but many countries are beginning to require proof of vaccines for entry, so hang on to that vaccine card once you get it. The closest thing we’ve seen to a vaccine passport is the European Union’s proposed Digital Green Certificate, which will contain information including “date of issuance, relevant information about vaccine/ test/recovery and a unique identifier”.

 

The Digital Green Certificate is designed to serve as proof of vaccination, and allow unrestricted travel around the E.U.

Q. “Am I too late to book something for cheap?” – RS

A. You’re not too late! Airlines are focusing their attention on ramping domestic routes back up, and there are plenty of great deals to be found to popular U.S. vacation spots like Florida and California. International deals are likely to be more elusive (especially to destinations that don’t have a clear reopening strategy) as airlines aren’t ready to invest resources in those routes yet.

 

My advice is to be flexible both with dates and destinations, and have some fun on Google Explore or Skyscanner (put “everywhere”) as your destination. You’ll find some smoking deals that way.

Q. “What are some good trip ideas for people who want to have a vacation but are still too nervous to travel too far from home?” – CM

A. If you’re ready to ease back into travel, the safest way would be with a road trip and a vacation rental. Unlike flying or hotel stays, this combination lets you be in total control of how close you get to other people. Decide how far you want to drive, and pick a theme for your trip (for example, beach or mountains)? It should be easy to decide on a getaway spot that’s not too far, but still feels like a real vacation from there.

Q. “I live in Texas, where face masks are not mandatory, but I keep hearing that face masks are required to fly. Is that true?” – TS

A. Mask up on a plane or face a $250 fine (or up to $1,500 if it’s not your first time refusing to wear a mask). An emergency order requiring face masks on all modes of public transportation (including planes, buses, and trains) is in effect until May 11, 2021. This rule will absolutely be enforced by both the TSA and flight crew at the airport and in the air, so don’t travel unless you’re prepared to wear a mask.

Alternative ways to enjoy Mallorca

Alternative ways to enjoy Mallorca

Mallorca: Check out these different ways to enjoy this gem in the Balearics

In 2020 on thetravelmagazine.net Sarah Drane described her favourite places to go to in Mallorca and offered some excellent recommendations. With travel due to open up later this and Mallorca being a long-established favourite of British travellers, here are some alternative goodies that UK visitors’ best-loved Balearic Island has to offer:

Railway to Soller: Take the scenic route and let the train take the strain

 

Soller is a picturesque town in the hills of North West Mallorca. It is accessible by car, but by far the most fun and relaxed way to get there is to take the little mountain railway train – the Ferrocarril de Soller – that starts in Palma and takes travellers on a beautiful winding, scenic, hour journey through the Sierra de Alfabia mountain range to Soller.

There, you can enjoy the delights of the picturesque town or you can take a second train (more of a tram really and, in fact, the way oranges were originally transported from the local groves to the port) down to Porto de Soller, with its beautiful beach and promenade. The main square in Soller – the Plaza de la Constituicion – is a great place for lunch or simply sampling some “café society” and, if you go on Saturday, there is also a bustling market.

While you are in Soller, do NOT leave without checking out the station itself, because you will find that within the station building is an Art Museum, which has a permanent Picasso exhibition that majors on his ceramics and also, a second exhibit featuring noted Spanish Surrealist artist, Juan Miro. Visiting both exhibits will probably take no more than half an hour, but both are fascinating and are even better because entry is free.

If you’re an art fan,  there is, however, some great stuff to buy at the Gift Shop. Also worth a visit, is Soller’s Can Prunera Museum of Modernism which hosts varying exhibitions of art, all displayed in this Art Nouveau residence.

Soller and Porto de Soller are lovely, but it is as much about the journeys themselves.  A combined train/tram ticket for around €32 gives you a round trip from Palma to Soller and a return trip from Soller to Port de Soller as well.

Rainy day? Head for Manacor

One of the great things about Mallorca is its weather – usually. However, even during the summer, you can get the odd day when it is cloudy or even rainy. When that happens, a trip to Manacor, close to the Island’s South-Central coast, will deliver you two attractions that aren’t weather dependant.

Caves of Drach:Between Manacor and nearby Porto Cristo, are the caves of Drach. Yes, they are one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Island, but there is a reason for that: they are simply spectacular.

The journey through the imaginatively lit cave system opens up fantastic displays of subterranean nature with various vast galleries of stalactites, stalagmites and water formations that are delivered to you in guided, language-specific groups which last around an hour.

The climax comes with a live classical music mini-concert at the amphitheatre situated in one of Europe’s largest underground lakes before the tour ends with an opportunity to travel across the lake by boat (or you can walk if you prefer).

There are the expected souvenir shops and a pretty fair café that you will probably end up having to patronise, as you need to turn up a reasonable amount of time before your tour starts.

That notwithstanding, if you can get there, go; it is worth the trip – and from the Caves you can do the easy walk to Porto Cristo itself, where, if the weather has brightened up, you can sit out to drink and eat along the waterside on either side of the inlet.

Rafa NadalSports Academy and Museum Sports fans will also want to head for Manacor, which is the birthplace of the Island’s most famous current sporting star, Tennis legend, Rafa Nadal and it is home to the excellent sports complex that bears his name.

The Rafa Nadal Academy, unsurprisingly, majors on Tennis, with courses of various types for all levels – both indoor and outdoor.  It also offers football, various gym/athletics training activities, a full spa and its own restaurant. You can even stay there, with a range of accommodation available at the attached Rafa Nadal Sports Centre.

The complex has 26 tennis courts – including a show court – and it regularly hosts  Professional ranking tournaments. In 2019, we watched Andy Murray play in a comeback tournament there and admission was free – the tournament being paid for by a local sponsor!.

There is also an excellent Museum, (great for rainy days!), which celebrates sport of all types and, of course, has a section dedicated to tennis – and to Rafa Nadal himself. The Museum experience, however, goes much further than this, offering more than a dozen opportunities to try sport virtually. These range from Pro-cycling, through Hockey and Rowing, to trying your hand as a Tennis Umpire or driving a Formula 1 car.

Admission is typically €15 for adults and €10 for children (8-12)

Cocktails at the bizarre bar of Abaco in Palma

 

If you have the chance to get into Palma and aren’t worried about waking up early in the morning, one of the capital city’s most interesting later-night spots is Abaco, which is located in the Old City of Palma, not far from the city’s imposing cathedral.

From the outside it is pretty much a large door in a wall however, on entering, you are greeted by piles of fruit, and flowers everywhere, in an entrance lobby bar which, amazing as it truly is, still gives little clue about what the place is actually about

Moving through the bar leads you naturally to a courtyard with more tables, which is a good place to base yourself while you sample Abaco’s list of cocktails, desserts and pastries. From time to time people will appear on the balconies that face onto the courtyard (from the beautiful rooms of Abaco’s interior, which you can also visit while at Abaco) singing Opera arias to entertain the clientele. It’s certainly not cheap, and it doesn’t really get going until late, but the atmosphere is always cordial, buoyed by the music and the it is certainly unlike any other cocktail bar you will find on the Island – or, for that matter, most anywhere else!.

BAR ABACO, Calle San Juan, 1, 07012 Palma de Mallorca

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