Omicron Variant, in 20 Nations, Spread Earlier Than Was Known


The heavily mutated new coronavirus variant was in Europe several days earlier than previously known, health officials said Tuesday, and the number of countries where it has been found increased to at least 20, raising questions about whether the pandemic is about to surge once again.

The Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said that samples taken on Nov. 19 and Nov. 23 — before the Nov. 24 announcement of Omicron’s existence — tested positive for the variant. Health officials have notified the two infected people and are doing contact tracing to try to limit the spread.

Mutations in the Omicron variant strongly suggest that it is more contagious than previous forms of the virus, scientists say. They caution that they cannot be sure without more testing and data, but the evidence so far is sobering.

Late Tuesday night, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it planned to toughen coronavirus testing and screening of people flying to the United States by requiring all international passengers to provide a negative result from a test taken within 24 hours of departure.

“C.D.C. is working to modify the current global testing order for travel as we learn more about the omicron variant,” said an agency spokesman, Jason McDonald.

The concern is that the current rules, which allow fully vaccinated people to take a test up to three days before departing on a flight to the United States, might not be stringent enough.

A day after warning that the risk from Omicron was “very high,” the World Health Organization on Tuesday said that unvaccinated people who are over age 60, are sick or have underlying health risks “should be advised to postpone travel.” In Greece, the prime minister announced that Covid vaccinations would be obligatory for people age 60 and older, and that those who failed to book a first shot by Jan. 16 would face fines.

In South Africa, where the variant was first announced and is already widespread, reported new coronavirus cases have rocketed from about 300 a day in mid-November to about 3,000 a day, the fastest rate of increase in the world. On two flights from South Africa to the Netherlands on Friday, just as a cascade of bans on travel from southern Africa were being announced, 61 passengers tested positive for the virus, at least 14 of them for Omicron.

In addition to the question of Omicron’s transmissibility, scientists still don’t have other answers the world is clamoring for: Are vaccines less effective against it? Are treatments? Does Omicron cause more serious illness?

Experts cautioned not to put too much stock in reports that the variant is causing only mild illness, because the data is still sparse. Early evidence from South Africa indicates that Omicron, more than previous variants, is infecting people who had already had Covid-19, but that, too, requires rigorous testing.

“It’s going to be two to four weeks, possibly a bit sooner,” before preliminary answers are available, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said Tuesday at a White House briefing.

As of Tuesday evening, no Omicron cases had been reported in the United States, though the variant has been detected in Canada. U.S. officials say that it is just a matter of time, and that the goal should be to slow its spread.

Brazilian media reported Tuesday that the variant had turned up in Brazil, which would mean it is already on every continent but Antarctica.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is sequencing the genomes of 80,000 coronavirus samples weekly — about one-seventh of all the positive P.C.R. lab tests in the country — and will step up checks on arriving international passengers, the agency’s director, Dr. Rochelle P. Wollensky, said at the White House.

The variant has a very large number of mutations not seen in combination before, about 50, including more than 30 on the “spike” protein it uses to latch onto host cells; the spike is the primary target of the vaccines. That high degree of mutation is behind the fears about Omicron, and the uncertainty over whether those fears are overblown.

Several times before, nations have relaxed their guard, thinking that the worst of the pandemic was behind them, only to be swamped by another wave — most recently the one caused by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Vaccine makers are already looking into reformulating their shots to address Omicron, a step that was not required for fighting Delta.

And Regeneron, maker of an effective, injected monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid, said Tuesday that its therapy might not work as well against Omicron. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Tuesday recommended approval of an oral treatment to reduce the severity of Covid, made by Merck, and will soon consider another from Pfizer.

In previous waves of the pandemic, by the time the first cases of the virus or a particular variant were detected, in reality there were vastly more and it was already widespread.

But the world’s supply of vaccines has gone primarily to the wealthiest countries, where many people have now received three shots before the vast majority of Africans have had even one. As long as many people are unvaccinated, the pandemic will continue and new variants will emerge.

“Vaccine equity is not charity; it’s in every country’s best interests,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the W.H.O., said Monday at the start of a conference intended to produce an international treaty to coordinate disease response.

“The time has come for countries to agree on a common, binding approach to a common threat that we cannot fully control nor prevent,” he said.

Vaccine doses are in fact becoming more plentiful, but African countries still face challenges in distribution and overcoming vaccine hesitancy. South Africa recently turned away a shipment, unsure that it could use the doses in time.

The new variant was first found in Botswana on Nov. 11 and days later in neighboring South Africa, where its genome was sequenced by scientists who announced its existence two weeks later. Researchers in South Africa have found it in samples from as long ago as Nov. 9, and experts have said it was likely that further testing of old samples would show that it was circulating even earlier.

In Europe, the number of cases confirmed is small so far, under 100, but officials are bracing for more.

“Is there likely to be community transmission?” Sajid Javid, the British health secretary, said at a news conference. “I think we have to be realistic: There is likely to be, as we are seeing in other European countries. We would expect cases to rise as we now actively look for cases.”

The timing is dismal for a continent already gripped by the biggest pandemic wave yet, forcing governments to drastically scale back plans to remain open for the holidays.

European countries are reporting more than two million new coronavirus cases each week, more than half the world’s total, although with vaccinations and improved treatments, deaths have declined compared with a year ago. Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark and Norway all set records for new cases last week; several others hit new highs earlier in November.

Governments in the United States, Europe and elsewhere have barred entry by people — usually with the exception of their own residents — who have recently been in South Africa and several neighboring countries.

But the experience of the two flights that arrived in Amsterdam on Friday night from South Africa shows how late such measures might be.

With the travel ban taking effect, all the passengers were tested, and more than one in 10 had the virus; how many other infected travelers have gone undetected is anyone’s guess.

Not only did 14 of the passengers from South Africa have the Omicron variant — which was not yet known to the world when they took off — but they also had several different versions of it, the Dutch public health institute said.

“This means,” it said, “that the people were very probably infected independently from each other, from different sources and in different locations.”

Reporting was contributed by Cora Engelbrecht, Noah Weiland, Rebecca Robbins, Carl Zimmer, Megan Specia, Mark Landler, Michael D. Shear and Sheryl Gay Stolberg



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Wales breaking news plus traffic, weather and travel updates (Saturday, November 20)


Missing teen

Chantelle, a 16-year-old from Neath, has been missing since 11pm on Thursday night and police are concerned for her well-being. She is described as being of slight build, approximately 5ft 4in tall with long dark hair with streaks and believed to be carrying a black rucksack. If you have any information which will help officers find Chantelle, call South Wales Police and quote reference 2100406165.

Go to: https://bit.ly/SWPProvideInfo, send them a private message on Facebook/Twitter or email SWP101@south-wales.police.uk.





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Pandemic holiday travel 2.0: How to navigate Thanksgiving this year


By Marnie Hunter, CNN

After hunkering down for the holidays in 2020, far more travelers are expected to be on the move this year.

In the United States, AAA predicts travel for Thanksgiving will rebound to near pre-pandemic levels, with 53.4 million Americans expected to travel for the holiday — a 13% increase from last year.

That brings the total travel volume to just 5% below the 2019 figure. And air travel is expected to be up 80% from last year, bringing it to just 9% below 2019. About 4.2 million travelers are expected to fly this year.

With recent operational meltdowns at Southwest and American Airlines top of mind, plus staffing issues and an uptick in international travel, many air travelers worry that things could get messy.

“Even before the pandemic, reports of major delays, cancellations and stranded passengers were somewhat of a holiday tradition,” said Willis Orlando, senior product operations specialist at airfare deals site Scott’s Cheap Flights.

“This year, folks are understandably more nervous than ever,” Orlando said, with the recent mass flight cancellations giving travelers pause. But he said airlines are making adjustments to head off potential issues.

“While it’s certainly not out of the question, we’d be surprised to see the kind of major failures among non-budget US airlines that we’ve seen over the last few months heading into the holidays,” Orlando said.

The usual delays related to bad weather are more likely, he said.

But while air travel is way up, the vast majority of travelers will still go by car, according to AAA, with 90% — 48.3 million — expected to drive.

With so many people vaccinated, AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross is expecting roads to feel like a typical Thanksgiving: “Crowded. Busy.”

“If you leave Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving and you live near a big metropolitan area, you’re going to be sitting in that old-fashioned traffic again,” Gross told CNN’s Pete Muntean.

And traffic is just the beginning. There are also health issues to wrestle with and the safety of gatherings once you get there. With the holiday travel season nearly upon us, here are expert tips for minimizing hassle and maximizing safety while traveling during a pandemic:

Preparing for holiday flights

Airports will be busy.

“We’re close to pre-pandemic numbers,” AAA’s Gross said. “So we’re telling people, look, you’re going to find lines at the airport. It’s just inevitable. So get there that old-fashioned at least two hours early. And if it’s an international flight, three hours early.”

The possibility of major disruptions should be a consideration, and AAA recommends travel insurance.

“Get that trip insurance and that airline insurance if you can. That little box you often skip, click it this year because we don’t know what staffing levels are going to be like for the airlines and for TSA,” Gross said.

Insurance coverage can generally be purchased up until the day prior to a traveler’s departure, according to travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth.

Other tips for flying:

— Fly early in the day to avoid the cascading effect of delays and cancellations. Bad weather is also more likely to affect later flights
— Try the airline website or app to get rebooked if your flight is canceled. It’s usually faster, according to Kathleen Bangs, a former airline pilot and spokesperson for FlightAware
— Book nonstop flights offered several times a day on major carriers to up your odds of getting rebooked on the same itinerary in a timely manner, Orlando said
— To be really safe, book a backup flight

“Personally, I often buy two tickets, and the second ticket is kept as a back-up reserve,” said FlightAware’s Bangs.

She makes sure the second flight is refundable or reusable, and that it’s at least two hours later than the first so she has time to make it if the other one is seriously delayed or canceled.

Hitting the road

Gas prices are averaging about $3.42 per gallon this year, Gross noted, which is up about $1.30 from last year and about 80 cents from 2019.

“But as we’ve always discovered, no matter how much gasoline prices are, people are still going to take that trip. They’ll just budget along the way.”

AAA tips for driving:

— Make sure your vehicle is ready. AAA suggests getting key components like the battery, fuel system, tires, brakes and fluid levels checked
— Mornings over the holiday weekend are generally better times to drive. Wednesday’s best time is after 9 p.m., according to transportation analytics firm INRIX. Wednesday’s worst time is between noon and 8 p.m.

Covid-19 health considerations for holiday travel in 2021

The CDC still recommends delaying travel until you are fully vaccinated.

For those traveling with unvaccinated people, the agency suggests safer options such as road trips with few stops and direct flights.

Traveling with children who are unvaccinated will be a consideration for many families.

“This risk is not so much the travel itself but what you do at the destination,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst, emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Trips involving visits to crowded indoor attractions and restaurants are higher risk.

“Travel itself can be made very safe, especially if the younger children are able to mask. If they’re unable to mask, that is a major barrier,” said Wen, who is also author of a new book, “Lifelines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Fight for Public Health.”

If she were traveling only with her 4-year-old son, who is used to masking at preschool, Wen said she would feel very comfortable taking him on a short flight. However, she would not travel on a plane or train with her daughter who is 1 1/2, because she can’t consistently mask.

People should be wearing a high-quality mask — N95, KN95 or KF94 — anytime they’re in crowded indoor settings with people of unknown vaccination status, she said.

Gathering safely when you get there

The vaccination status of everyone else is key when you have unvaccinated children in the mix.

“If you are planning to see relatives who are all vaccinated and be outdoors or around other people known to be vaccinated, that’s much lower risk than if you’re planning to be in indoor crowded spaces with people of unknown vaccination status,” Wen said.

If the gathering involves immunocompromised family members or unvaccinated children, or both, Wen suggests that everyone quarantine for at least three days before getting together and taking a rapid test just prior to seeing each other.

“That would reduce the risk for everyone,” she said. And those eligible for booster shots should get them, Wen advised.

Beyond pandemic health precautions, patience will be essential for holiday travel. Flight delays, cancellations and understaffed restaurants are to be expected right now, said travel adviser Dave Hershberger, president of Prestige Travel Leaders in Cincinnati.

“If you’re a very impatient person, stay home now because you really have to kind of go with the flow.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Top image: Passengers check in for a Southwest Airlines flight at Los Angeles International Airport ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in 2020. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)



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US lifts COVID-19 travel ban 20 months after it began


Today for the first time since March of 2020, foreigners visiting the United States for nonessential travel will be allowed to cross air and land borders if they prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19 and can demonstrate a recent negative test for the virus.

The United States will recognize full vaccination with any of the vaccines approved for use by the World Health Organization. Negative tests will need to have been procured within 72 hours of a flight or crossing into the United States.

For thousands of Canadians and Mexicans, the lifted ban will allow families to reunite after almost 2 years apart. The American tourism industry is also set to get a boost during the upcoming holiday season; the US Travel Association estimated a loss of nearly $300 billion in foreign spending and 1 million US jobs due to the travel bans.

The new rules apply to citizens of 33 countries, including China, India, and nations in the European Union. Children (under 18 years) are exempt from the vaccination requirements but must show a negative test taken within 1 day of travel.

Fed workers seek vaccine exemptions

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of federal workers have requested exemption on religious grounds from the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, the Washington Post reports.

Federal employees and contractors have until Nov 22 to be fully vaccinated, which means today is the last day to get either a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or a second dose of an mRNA vaccine, and then allow 2 weeks for immunity to build.

According to federal union officials who spoke to the Washington Post, only around 60 people at the Education Department have requested religious or philosophical exemptions, compared with thousands of employees at the Bureau of Prisons.

In related news, a federal appeals court this weekend temporarily halted the Biden administration’s vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers, the Associated Press reports. That requirement is set to go into effect on Jan 4.

The 5th Circuit Court, based in New Orleans, said it was delaying the requirement because of potential “grave statutory and constitutional issues” raised by the plaintiffs.

Officials from the Justice Department said they “will vigorously defend this rule in court.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID Data Tracker shows that 58.4% of Americans are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 67.4% have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 12.4% of fully vaccinated Americans have received a booster.

Other US developments

  • The Biden administration sent letters to school superintendents and principals across the United States today, urging them to set up COVID-19 clinics inside their elementary schools, according to ABC News.
  • The country reported 21,968 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and 119 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 tracker.



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Travel Magazine says Hood River is among 20 best beer towns in U.S.


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland, Eugene and Bend are filled with craft breweries for beer lovers. But Travel Magazine says another Oregon city, Hood River, shouldn’t be overlooked. 

In an article published Tuesday, Travel Magazine said Hood River is among the 20 best beer towns in the United States. The city, which is situated along the Columbia River east of Portland, was recognized for breweries that are “well oiled machines pumping out quality beer,” according to the article. 

Hood River was the 19th city on the list and the magazine said its highlights include Full Sail Brewing Co., pFriem Family Brewers, and Double Mountain Brewery & Cidery. 

The article also mentioned how Hood River has a hard kombucha brewery and hosts the Hood River Hops Fest every October. 

Sunnyside, Washington also made the list. The magazine said the city is home to Snipes Mountain Brewery and Restaurant and Varietal Beer Co.  



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Bet £20 and get money back as CASH if you lose, plus 63/1 bet builder tip


CELTIC travel to Dens Park to take on Dundee on Sunday afternoon.

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Kyogo Furuhashi got on the scoresheet mid-week against Ferencvaros

1

Kyogo Furuhashi got on the scoresheet mid-week against Ferencvaros

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Celtic lost ground on league leaders Rangers last weekend after a disappointing 0-0 draw against Livingston at home.

That result brought Celtic’s run of five straight wins in all competitions to an end and bolstered Rangers’ lead to four points.

However, Ange Postecoglou’s men returned to winning ways on Thursday with a hard-fought 3-2 away win against Ferencvaros in the Europa League.

Goals from Kyogo Furuhashi, Jota and Liel Abada carried the Celts through in Hungary.

Dundee bounced back from a brutal 5-0 loss against bottom side Ross County with a 1-0 win against St Mirren last weekend.

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Coronavirus International Travel Update: First Aussies prepare to fly to UK after a 20 month travel ban in Australia


They are on the first flight from Darwin to London as the COVID-19 travel ban finally ends.

Free travel in, or out, of Australia has not been allowed since the borders closed on March 20, 2020 – almost 600 days ago.

On Monday, Emma Weir and her family will be among the first Aussies allowed to leave the country without permission for 18 months.
On Monday, Emma Weir and her family will be among the first Aussies allowed to leave the country without permission for 18 months. (Supplied)
But from Monday all citizens and permanent residents can leave without exemption as long as they are fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine.
Aussies can travel anywhere, though the government’s SmartTraveller site lists individual warnings for each nation.

Getting back, however depends on the destination within Australia, with all but NSW, Victoria and the ACT still requiring hotel quarantine and therefore having strict flight limits.

The Weir family are not going on holiday but reuniting with family.

Mrs Weir, husband Kieran and kids, Farran, nine, and Niven, seven, are desperate to see their relatives in the UK.

“For the kids seeing their grandparents for the first time in three-and-a-half years will be emotional,” Mrs Weir said.

On Monday, Emma Weir and her family will be among the first Aussies allowed to leave the country without permission for 18 months.
On Monday, Emma Weir and her family will be among the first Aussies allowed to leave the country without permission for 18 months- and will see her mum in the UK.. (Supplied)

Mrs Weir admitted she was “excited but also a bit terrified” about travelling again amid all the rules.

“Until we’re in the air I don’t feel like we can completely relax,” she said.

The family has been travelling around Australia since Mr Weir lost his job in video gaming earlier this year, and will return home to Sydney from the UK on December 31.

Because the family has permanent residency, they were banned from leaving just like citizens.

While exemptions could be applied for, a severe lack of seats on planes due to tight travel rules made it hard to get back, therefore a gamble to leave.

There are currently 46,800 Aussies registered with authorities as wanting to return.

On Monday, Emma Weir and her family will be among the first Aussies allowed to leave the country without permission for 18 months.
The family is most excited to see Emma’s parents, Brenda and Paul Jenkins and Kieran’s mum and her husband, Patricia and Alan Gray. (Supplied)

The travel ban meant Mrs Weir missed her grandfather’s funeral.

“I’m not sure that’s something I’ll ever recover from,” she said.

Now they’re almost on their way to England her children have a special dream.

“My kids are praying for a white Christmas,” she said.

First flights in and out of reopened states

The first flight into Sydney where passengers won’t be ushered by police into hotel quarantine and charged up to $5000 for a family, will be QF12.

It lands from Los Angeles at 6am tomorrow with celebrations expected.

The flight will Qantas‘ first regular international passenger journey for almost two years, except for repatriation flights.
Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and The Hon. Scott Morrison MP Prime Minister, speaking to the media regarding international travel.
Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and The Hon. Scott Morrison MP Prime Minister, speaking to the media regarding international travel. (Louise Kennerley SMH)

Some airlines have continued to fly into Australia throughout the pandemic, but with just a handful of passengers allowed on board each plane coming in, cancellations have been likely and prices steep.

Other packed flights coming into to Sydney tomorrow include planes from Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Canada, Fiji and the UAE.

The first flight out of Sydney is at 9.05am on Singapore Airlines to Singapore.

Singapore Airlines said it is working on how the rules will affect flights.
The first flight out of Sydney is at 9.05am on Singapore Airlines to Singapore. (Getty)

Melbourne Airport will also be busy next week.

The airport said 13 airlines are due to bring in as many as 34,000 passengers – with five more carriers bringing up to 94,000 a week, by Christmas.

Diners are able to sit down for a meal inside the QVB in Sydney for the first time since June. Sydney reopening

‘Freedom Day’ in photos: Drinks, haircuts, gyms and shopping



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20 products under $25 that will keep your bags organized | CNN


Travel is wonderful, but it is also quite stressful. While weather and delays and a whole host of other things are out of our control, one small but incredibly impactful thing to make traveling easier — whether it’s overseas or just to school, work or the gym — is to invest in items that help to organize your bag or bags.

The problem, however, is that a lot of products that purport to organize a bag don’t work very well and just end up as clutter — or worse, make it harder to find the things you need when you need them. To help us sort through the chaff and get to the wheat, we asked Lilit Marcus, a travel producer for CNN Digital Worldwide, for the products she swears by for staying organized while she’s on the road.

Brouk & Co Cord Snap Cable Organizer Snaps for Tech Accessories

Amazon

Brouk & Co Cord Snap Cable Organizer Snaps for Tech Accessories

“These products — which I insist on calling ‘cord tacos’ — are the only thing keeping my carry-on bag from being a nightmare,” Marcus says. “I always have too many electronics and too many chargers, so these brightly colored cord holders help me get everything organized. I have two sets.”

Alvababy Waterproof Wet Bags, 2-Pack

Amazon

Alvababy Waterproof Wet Bags, 2-Pack

“If it’s possible to sneak in one more pool swim before heading to the airport, I’ll always do it,” Marcus says. “That is why I love [a wet] bag — you can store wet swimsuits and flip-flops in it without soaking the rest of your luggage.” Marcus’ go-to Ornandi wet bag is a bit on the pricey side at $44, but this lower-priced version is almost as good.

Poketo Folding Sunglass Case

Poketo

Poketo Folding Sunglass Case

“Most of my travel is solo,” Marcus tells us, “which can be challenging if I’m at the beach and want to leave my stuff behind. This case stores the basics (phone, hotel room key, lip balm), is my favorite color and doesn’t scream PLEASE STEAL ME.”

AllSewnUpAndMore Snap Purse ($7.50; etsy.com)

AllSewnUpAndMore Snap Purse

Etsy

AllSewnUpAndMore Snap Purse

Marcus received a Liberty London coin purse, which is now sadly sold out, as a gift — she loves it because it helps her organize foreign currencies for travel. “I use it to store American money,” she says, “so that it’s always ready to go when I’m packing for a trip back to the US. I like how it uses magnets to keep closed instead of a snap.” Similar styles, like this one, can be found on Etsy and make great gifts for loved ones (or for yourself!).

TheSilverWren Jewelry Roll

Etsy

TheSilverWren Jewelry Roll

“Even if I don’t bring much jewelry with me on a trip,” Marcus says, “I almost end up buying some (sigh — it’s a problem), so this helps me keep it organized.” Marcus uses a jewelry roll from one of her “go-to Hong Kong brands.” This style from Etsy shop The Silver Wren is similar and has thousands of 5-star reviews.

Zoppen Travel Passport Wallet

Amazon

Zoppen Travel Passport Wallet

A large-format wallet is so useful while traveling that it’s worth the extra time it will take you to transfer IDs, credit and debit cards, cash and more from your regular wallet. This wallet is roomy enough not only for a passport but also for boarding passes and other travel documents, and it comes in a ton of colors. Helpful tip: Choosing a bright color will make it easier to find your wallet inside a large travel bag.

Tigari Passport and Vaccine Card Holder Combo ($9.99; amazon.com)

Tigari Passport and Vaccine Card Holder Combo

Amazon

Tigari Passport and Vaccine Card Holder Combo

Showing proof of vaccination status while traveling is just a part of life now, and if you don’t use an app, figuring out a safe and easy-to-access mode of carrying your vaccine card is critical. We like this combo passport and vaccine holder for its simplicity and low price point.

Timewall Handbag Tote Bag Purse Organizer Insert ($13.49; amazon.com)

Timewall Handbag Tote Bag Purse Organizer Insert

Amazon

Timewall Handbag Tote Bag Purse Organizer Insert

Bag organizer inserts are one of those things you don’t know you need until you have one, and then you don’t know how you ever lived without one. When selecting a bag organizer, always measure your bag before making a purchase to ensure it will fit, and look for styles in nylon or polyester that are easy to clean. It’s also smart to pick a patterned, light or brightly colored interior bag insert, since finding things inside a dark bag can be difficult.

Travelon Pewter RFID-Blocking Purse Organizer

The Container Store

Travelon Pewter RFID-Blocking Purse Organizer

This handbag organizer is practically perfect: It’s made of polyester, so it’s lightweight and easy to clean; it’s a neutral beige with an aqua lining to help you better see the contents in a bag with a dark interior; and it has small handles that allow you to easily pluck it from one bag and place it in another, along with all your stuff.

Paoixeel Backpack Insert Organizer

Amazon

Paoixeel Backpack Insert Organizer

People who travel with a backpack — whether it’s on vacation or just to school, work or the gym — will love this organizer insert designed to fit backpacks. This insert has gray piping that helps the eye better see what’s inside, and because it’s made of nylon, it’s easy to wipe clean in the event of a spill.

Ztujo Felt Bag Organizer Insert With Zipper

Amazon

Ztujo Felt Bag Organizer Insert With Zipper

While I personally would like to discourage you from buying a felt bag organizer insert because they are extremely difficult to clean, they are a popular style, and this particular version has a lot of things going for it: It comes in a number of shapes and sizes, making it easy to find the right fit for your favorite bag; it comes in 12 colors; and it has 13 different sized pockets, including a zipper compartment.

Reaowazo Roll-n-Snap Shopping Tote

Amazon

Reaowazo Roll-n-Snap Shopping Tote

I have a roll-n-snap shopping tote I got as a shopping bag after buying a Yumi Kim dress that is the singularly most useful reusable tote I have ever come across, and so of course I cannot find a similar style for sale anywhere.  After scouring the internet, this set of three shopping totes is the closest I came, and I urge you to buy them all before this incredible bag goes fully extinct.

JSF Travel Folding Clothing Hangers, 6-Pack

Amazon

JSF Travel Folding Clothing Hangers, 6-Pack

A folding hanger isn’t just a great idea for travel — although it is, especially if you’ll need to do any hand-laundering while you’re on the road — it’s also a handy thing to stash in a gym bag if you need to steam an outfit before heading out for the evening.

SmellRose Travel Mat and Cover for Hairstyling Tools

Amazon

SmellRose Travel Mat and Cover for Hairstyling Tools

Curling and flat irons are typically too big to fit in a cosmetics case, but it’s a smart idea to pack them in some sort of protective covering so they don’t get banged up in your suitcase, gym bag or work bag. Sure, an old sock works just fine, but this inexpensive heat-resistant silicone pouch also doubles as a mat to protect surfaces from heat damage while the iron is in use.

JJ Power Foldable Waterproof Shoe Pouches

Amazon

JJ Power Foldable Waterproof Shoe Pouches

For people who travel with sandals, flip-flops, ballet flats and/or shower shoes, these double-sided shoe pouches will be a fantastic investment. One compartment is large enough for a standard size shoe, and the top flap serves as a separate compartment that can fit a low-profile shoe, maximizing packing space.

Hopsooken 5-Piece Packing Cubes Set

Amazon

Hopsooken 5-Piece Packing Cubes Set

In our roundup of the best packing cubes, our reviewer says of this 5-piece set, “This value of a set includes two large cubes, which are particularly useful for packing bigger items of clothing and for longer trips.”

Euow Barrel Makeup Bag

Amazon

Euow Barrel Makeup Bag

In our guide to the best makeup and toiletries bags for travel, our reviewer liked this barrel-shaped bag that stands upright as an “option that works well for travel-size toiletries and makeup brushes.” Many people will find they need cosmetics bags in two or more styles to accommodate differently shaped grooming items, and this is a good one to add to your collection.

Monstina Makeup Bag

Amazon

Monstina Makeup Bag

“This affordable case from Monstina is great if you travel with a lot of makeup brushes,” our travel bag reviewer said, and as someone who travels with a lot of makeup brushes — albeit most of my travel is around the corner to the gym — I agree! It has elastic slots that can hold brushes or tubes of makeup (mascara, eyeliner, lip gloss, etc.), and smaller compartments that can hold anything from a pot of blusher to a small piece of jewelry.

Cadence Capsule

Cadence

Cadence Capsule

Another pick from our toiletry bag roundup is the Cadence Capsule. These sturdy, leakproof and customizable containers snap together and can be filled with grooming products like moisturizer, medications, jewelry and lots more.

Pack All Water-Resistant Zipper Pouch

Amazon

Pack All Water-Resistant Zipper Pouch

And finally, sometimes you just need an all-purpose pouch to hold small items in a purse, backpack, carry-on or suitcase. This one is water-resistant, which makes it practically perfect, and it comes in three sizes, so there’s one for just about every need.



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20 products under $25 that will keep your bags organized | CNN


Travel is wonderful, but it is also quite stressful. While weather and delays and a whole host of other things are out of our control, one small but incredibly impactful thing to make traveling — whether its overseas or just to school, work or the gym — easier is to invest in items that help to organize your bag or bags.

The problem, however, is that a lot of products that purport to organize a bag don’t work very well, and just end up as clutter — or worse, make it harder to find the things you need when you need them. To help us sort through the chaff and get to the wheat, we asked Lilit Marcus, a travel producer for CNN Digital Worldwide, for the products she swears by for staying organized while she’s on the road.

Brouk & Co Cord Snap Cable Organizer Snaps for Tech Accessories

Amazon

Brouk & Co Cord Snap Cable Organizer Snaps for Tech Accessories

“These products – which I insist on calling ‘cord tacos’ – are the only thing keeping my carry-on bag from being a nightmare,” Marcus says. “I always have too many electronics and too many chargers, so these brightly colored cord holders help me get everything organized. I have two sets.”

Alvababy Waterproof Wet Bags, 2-Pack

Amazon

Alvababy Waterproof Wet Bags, 2-Pack

“If it’s possible to sneak in one more pool swim before heading to the airport, I’ll always do it,” Marcus says. “That is why I love [a wet] bag – you can store wet swimsuits and flip flops in it without soaking the rest of your luggage.” Marcus’s go-to Ornandi wet bag is a bit on the pricey side at $44, but this lower-priced version is almost as good.

Poketo Folding Sunglass Case

Poketo

Poketo Folding Sunglass Case

“Most of my travel is solo,” Marcus tells us, “which can be challenging if I’m at the beach and want to leave my stuff behind. This case stores the basics (phone, hotel room key, lip balm), is my favorite color and doesn’t scream PLEASE STEAL ME.”

AllSewnUpAndMore Snap Purse ($7.50; etsy.com)

AllSewnUpAndMore Snap Purse

Etsy

AllSewnUpAndMore Snap Purse

Marcus received a Liberty London coin purse, that is now sadly sold out, as a gift — she loves it because it helps her to organize foreign currencies for travel. “I use it to store American money,” she says, “so that it’s always ready to go when I’m packing for a trip back to the US. I like how it uses magnets to keep closed instead of a snap.” Similar styles, like this one, can be found on Etsy and make great gifts for loved ones (or for yourself!)

TheSilverWren Jewelry Roll

Etsy

TheSilverWren Jewelry Roll

“Even if I don’t bring much jewelry with me on a trip,” Marcus says, “I almost end up buying some (sigh – it’s a problem) so this helps me keep it organized.” Marcus uses a jewelry roll from one of her “go-to Hong Kong brands.” This style from Etsy shop The Silver Wren is similar and has thousands of 5-star reviews.

Zoppen Travel Passport Wallet

Amazon

Zoppen Travel Passport Wallet

A large format wallet is so useful while traveling that it’s worth the extra time it will take you to transfer IDs, credit and debit cards, cash and more from your regular wallet. This wallet is roomy enough not only for a passport, but also for boarding passes and other travel documents, and it comes in a ton of colors. Helpful tip: Choosing a bright color will make it easier to find your wallet inside a large travel bag.

Tigari Passport and Vaccine Card Holder Combo ($9.99; amazon.com)

Tigari Passport and Vaccine Card Holder Combo

Amazon

Tigari Passport and Vaccine Card Holder Combo

Showing proof of vaccination status while traveling is just a part of life now, and if you don’t use an app, figuring out a safe and easy-to-access mode of carrying your vaccine card is critical. We like this combo passport and vaccine holder for its simplicity and low price point.

Timewall Handbag Tote Bag Purse Organizer Insert ($13.49; amazon.com)

Timewall Handbag Tote Bag Purse Organizer Insert

Amazon

Timewall Handbag Tote Bag Purse Organizer Insert

Bag organizer inserts are one of those things you don’t know you need until you have one, and then you don’t know how you ever lived without one. When selecting a bag organizer, always measure your bag before making a purchase to ensure it will fit, and look for styles in nylon or polyester that are easy to clean. It’s also smart to pick a patterned, light or brightly-colored interior bag insert, since finding things inside a dark bag can be difficult.

Travelon Pewter RFID-Blocking Purse Organizer

The Container Store

Travelon Pewter RFID-Blocking Purse Organizer

This handbag organizer is practically perfect: It’s made of polyester, so it’s lightweight and easy to clean; it’s a neutral beige with an aqua lining to help you better see the contents in a bag with a dark interior; and it has small handles that allow you to easily pluck it from one bag and place it in another, along with all your stuff.

Paoixeel Backpack Insert Organizer

Amazon

Paoixeel Backpack Insert Organizer

People who travel with a backpack — whether it’s on vacation, or just to school, work or the gym — will love this organizer insert designed to fit backpacks. This insert has gray piping that helps the eye better see what’s inside and, because it’s made of nylon, it is easy to wipe clean in the event of a spill.

Ztujo Felt Bag Organizer Insert With Zipper

Amazon

Ztujo Felt Bag Organizer Insert With Zipper

While I personally would like to discourage you from buying a felt bag organizer insert because they are extremely difficult to clean, they are are a popular style and this particular version has a lot of things going for it: It comes in a number of shapes and sizes, making it easy to find the right fit for your favorite bag; it comes in 12 colors; and it has 13 different sized pockets, including a zipper compartment.

Reaowazo Roll-n-Snap Shopping Tote

Amazon

Reaowazo Roll-n-Snap Shopping Tote

I have a roll-n-snap shopping tote I got as a shopping bag after buying a Yumi Kim dress that is the singularly most useful reusable tote I have ever come across, and so of course I cannot find a similar style for sale anywhere.  After scouring the internet, this set of three shopping totes is the closest I came, and I urge you to buy them all before this incredible bag goes fully extinct.

JSF Travel Folding Clothing Hangers, 6-Pack

Amazon

JSF Travel Folding Clothing Hangers, 6-Pack

A folding hanger isn’t just a great idea for travel — although it is, especially if you’ll need to do any hand laundering while you’re on the road — it’s also a handy thing to stash in a gym bag if you need to steam an outfit before heading out for the evening.

SmellRose Travel Mat and Cover for Hair Styling Tools

Amazon

SmellRose Travel Mat and Cover for Hair Styling Tools

Curling and flat irons are typically too big to fit in a cosmetics case, but it’s a smart idea to pack them in some sort of protective covering so they don’t get banged up in your suitcase, gym bag, or work bag. Sure, an old sock works just fine, but this inexpensive heat resistant silicone pouch also doubles as a mat to protect surfaces from heat damage while the iron is in use.

JJ Power Foldable Waterproof Shoe Pouches

Amazon

JJ Power Foldable Waterproof Shoe Pouches

For people who travel with sandals, flip flops, ballet flats and/or shower shoes, these double-sided shoe pouches will be a fantastic investment. One compartment is large enough for a standard size shoe, and the top flap serves as a separate compartment that can fit a low profile shoe, maximizing packing space.

Hopsooken 5-Piece Packing Cubes Set

Amazon

Hopsooken 5-Piece Packing Cubes Set

In our roundup of the best packing cubes, our reviewer says of this 5-piece set: “This value of a set includes two large cubes, which are particularly useful for packing bigger items of clothing and for longer trips.”

Euow Barrel Makeup Bag

Amazon

Euow Barrel Makeup Bag

In our guide to the best makeup and toiletries bags for travel, our reviewer liked this barrel-shaped bag that stands upright as an “option that works well for travel-size toiletries and makeup brushes.” Many people will find they need cosmetics bags in two or more styles to accommodate differently shaped grooming items, and this is a good one to add to your collection.

Monstina Makeup Bag

Amazon

Monstina Makeup Bag

“This affordable case from Monstina is great if you travel with a lot of makeup brushes,” our travel bag reviewer said, and as someone who travels with a lot of makeup brushes — albeit most of my travel is around the corner to the gym — I agree! It has elastic slots that can hold brushes or tubes of makeup (mascara, eyeliner, lip gloss, etc.), and smaller compartments that can hold anything from a pot of blusher to a small piece of jewelry.

Cadence Capsule

Cadence

Cadence Capsule

Another pick from our toiletry bag roundup is the Cadence Capsule. These sturdy, leakproof and customizable containers snap together and can be filled with grooming products like moisturizer, medications, jewelry and lots more.

Pack All Water-Resistant Zipper Pouch

Amazon

Pack All Water-Resistant Zipper Pouch

And finally, sometimes you just need an all-purpose pouch to hold small items in a purse, backpack, carry-on or suitcase. This one is water-resistant, which makes it practically perfect and it comes in three sizes, so there’s one for just about every need.



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Smithsonian opens its ?Futures? exhibition Nov. 20


“Futures” is a coming-out party for the Arts and Industries Building, the Smithsonian’s second-oldest structure, which opened in 1881 as the National Museum and was the first home for many of the institution’s most popular museums. Mostly closed since 2004, the building at one time displayed the original Star-Spangled Banner, the first ladies’ gowns and space rockets. With its stained glass windows, elaborate floor and painted arches, it has an old-fashioned exuberance, Goslins said.



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