Travel can be intimidating, but if you do a little research about your destination — familiarizing yourself with the local customs, norms, and faux pas — it can be a whole lot less daunting.
So I combed through the subreddit r/travel and looked to the BuzzFeed Community to compile some helpful world travel tips. Here’s what world travelers want you to know before you take your next getaway.
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Chicago-based United Airlines is adding five new transatlantic destinations in Spring 2022 as it prepares for a potential bounce back in summer travel between the United States and Europe next year.
The expansion would be the largest transatlantic expansion in the company’s history and includes destinations in Spain, Portugal, Norway, the Spanish Canary Islands and Jordan.
“Given our big expectations for a rebound in travel to Europe for summer, this is the right time to leverage our leading global network in new, exciting ways,” Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of international network and alliances at United, said in a Thursday news release.
United will be the first North American carrier to fly to the five new destinations.
Bergen, Norway: Starting May 20, United will offer flights three times a week between New York/Newark and Bergen on a Boeing 757-200.
Azores, Portugal: Flights between New York/Newark and Ponta Delgada in the Azores begin May 13 with a new Boeing 737 MAX 8. This will be United’s third Portuguese destination, along with flights to Porto (which return in March) and Lisbon (which are being operated from New York and are set to resume from Washington, D.C. next summer).
Palma de Mallorca, Spain: Travelers can fly from New York/Newark to the beach destination in the Balearic Islands in a Boeing 767-300ER starting June 2. United will offer flights three times a week.
Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands: United is set to launch a new flight from New York/Newark to the Tenerife on June 9, offering service three times a week via a Boeing 757-200.
Amman, Jordan: Flights from Washington, D.C. to Amman begin May 5 with service three-times-weekly with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
Tickets for Bergen, Azores, Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife go on sale Thursday, and Amman tickets should follow soon after.
The airline is also adding new flights to five European destinations (Berlin, Dublin, Milan, Munich and Rome) “in anticipation of a resurgence in visitors” and relaunching seven routes that had been paused during the pandemic to Bangalore, Frankfurt, Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, Nice and Zurich, all of which are subject to government approval.
While international flight capacity saw gains this year, it has a ways to go before catching up to pre-pandemic levels. International passenger demand dropped 76% between 2019 and 2020, the sharpest traffic decline in aviation history according to the International Air Transport Association.
Advice not to travel to 32 countries and territories due to COVID has been lifted by the government – meaning insurance firms will again cover them.
Fiji, The Gambia, Malaysia and Bangladesh are among the countries and territories the Foreign Office will no longer be advising against all but essential travel to.
This means that travel insurance will again cover people travelling to those destinations as many companies use that advice as a reference point to exclude cover.
However, it does not mean all those countries and territories are allowing international travellers in, so those planning a visit should check entry requirements.
Advice is expected to be lifted for more countries in the coming days.
However, the government may reintroduce the rules in “exceptional circumstances” such as if local healthcare is being overwhelmed by a domestic COVID outbreak.
Some countries and territories will continue to carry the advice to not travel there apart from essential travel, but it will not be due to COVID and instead will be because of other circumstances in the nation, such as instability. Travel insurers will continue to not cover them.
Countries on the red list will continue to have a warning against all but essential travel, but the government has said it will remove more countries from the red list soon.
This is the full list of countries and territories that travel advice has been eased for:
Algeria; Armenia; Bangladesh; Belarus; Benin; Comoros; Tokelau and Niue; Djibouti; Equatorial Guinea; Fiji; The Gambia; Guinea; Kazakhstan; Kiribati; Kosovo; Liberia; Madagascar; Malaysia; Marshall Islands; Micronesia; Nauru; Sao Tome and Principe; Senegal; Solomon Islands; Togo; Tonga; Tuvalu; Vanuatu; Congo; American Samoa; French Polynesia; and Ghana.
The government said the advice has been lifted for those countries and territories in light of the improved public health in those destinations, better understanding of the virus and the decreased risk to people coming from the UK as a result of the vaccine rollout.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the move will “make travelling more straightforward” and support businesses and families.
“We’re striking the right balance between keeping people safe, which remains our priority, and giving them the freedom to exercise personal responsibility while supporting the travel sector as it continues to recover,” she added.
The move is part of a simplified system for international travel, with the COVID traffic light system for travel scrapped on Monday, so there is now only a red list.
Anybody who now arrives in the UK from a non-red list country and who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – and everyone under 18 – does not have to take a pre-departure test.
They also do not have to take a PCR test eight days after arrival or isolate at home, but still have to take a test on the second day after arrival in the UK.
People arriving from red list countries still have to take a pre-departure test, quarantine in a hotel for 10 days and take PCR tests on day two and eight.
Anybody planning to travel overseas should check gov.uk and local advice for entry requirements, including vaccination requirements.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a dramatic shift in the way travellers are thinking and the Caribbean is well-positioned to take advantage of the new trends.
That is according to Canadian entrepreneur and founder of well-known travel company G Adventures, Bruce Poon Tip, who believes islands in the region provide many of the necessities that travellers want.
Delivering the keynote address at a webinar hosted by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) in commemoration of World Tourism Day, Poon Tip pointed out that travellers now preferred remote locations as opposed to big, busy cities.
Additionally, he explained that because of the challenges posed by the pandemic, travellers also wanted destinations where they could be more active.
Poon Tip said data and research conducted in Canada showed a dynamic shift over the past 18 months, with travellers now having a strong focus on mental health and their wellbeing.
“So this conversation about mental health and wellbeing has suddenly become so important because one thing people haven’t looked at closely are the mental health impacts of these lockdowns we have gone through over the last 18 months and how it has changed people’s thoughts about, not only coming out within their own communities but what they want to motivate them to travel again,” Poon Tip said.
“People want to be more disconnected, more remote and this is a very different change that we have found because before the pandemic travellers were motivated to travel to busy places and places with dense populations, but suddenly we are seeing that people want to be more disconnected, more remote and that is reflected in how we are in a more remote and wired world.”
He anticipated that the Caribbean was poised to take advantage of the emerging trend as a rural destination.
He said the region also had to push the concept of community tourism.
“The Caribbean has mastered rest and relaxation for sure, but the idea that people want to be active as well and be more active because they have been forced into this pause and these lockdowns, it is no wonder people want to be away from social media and they want to be more active on their next holiday and that is going to be more meaningful,” he said.
Vice-chancellor at the University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles also pointed to the fact that travellers were more concerned than ever with their health and this was an area the Caribbean could use to its advantage.
“Since our product was built originally, ancestrally, historically, around the health product I believe we are beckoning there once again to go back into our treasure trove of history and extract ideas for the future,” Sir Hilary said.
“I will say to you that the biggest product in the world today will be built around health and not only physical health but mental health. Mental health has become the fastest growing concern in the world. People are speaking about the need for mental health and COVID-19 has brought this to the fore in a very aggressive way. Getting away from anxiety, getting away from stress, relaxing the body and public knowledge around health have soared.” (RB)
Michel Dubois has packed his bags, even though his planned trip to Cuba is still more than two months away.
That’s because the retired TV cameraman and editor from Saint-Jérome, Que., is eager for a break from the monotony of pandemic life.
“After a year and a half of sitting in front of my TV and computer, it’s time to move on,” said Dubois, 70, who plans to do some scuba diving and enjoy the sun.
Trips like the one Dubois has booked are giving airlines and tour operators something to look forward to as well — seemingly better business prospects after months of severely hampered operations due to pandemic-related border closures and travel restrictions.
Some key travel players are reporting increased demand for bookings to sun destinations, despite the ongoing challenges of a global pandemic that has yet to end inside or outside Canada’s borders.
Better days ahead?
The onset of the pandemic prompted governments — including Canada’s — to urge people to stay home to stem the spread of the coronavirus and its variants.
Ambarish Chandra, an associate professor of economics at the University of Toronto, says that while the government actively discouraged travel last winter, that didn’t deter all people from going abroad — such as snowbirds who went to Florida.
With the progress on vaccination that has been made, Chandra said he believes Ottawa’s stance on leisure travel may have to shift.
“I don’t think it would be reasonable for the government to go a second winter season saying: ‘Don’t travel,'” Chandra said in an interview.
Jörg Fritz, an associate professor in the microbiology and immunology department at Montreal’s McGill University, says that as travel picks up, Canada will have to keep a close eye on what strains of the virus are circulating here and around the globe.
“We simply need to face that this virus will not go away that quickly,” he said.
“The danger that new variants arise that might escape vaccine-induced immunity is still there and will be there for quite a while.”
It’s also key for Canada to continue increasing its vaccination rate and to ensure that children are protected as soon as that is possible, Fritz said.
A desire to get away
Air Canada says the upcoming fall and winter looks promising for travel to sun destinations.
“When looking to the sun market, we are very optimistic about our recovery,” airline spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick told CBC News in a recent email, adding that “we are currently observing demand growth that is above 2019 levels.”
Meanwhile, Sunwing Travel Group reports seeing “encouraging demand” compared with last fall, which spokesperson Melanie Anne Filipp says shows Canadians are growing more confident about travelling again.
“The rise in vaccinations across the country and easing border measures have without a doubt contributed to Canadians’ increasing interest in travel to sun destinations,” said Filipp, who noted that business remains below pre-pandemic levels.
Montreal-based Air Transat is currently flying passengers to a mix of domestic and international locations. Some of its sun destinations include Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico.
“We confirm that demand is doing well, and we clearly feel that the urge to travel is back,” Air Transat spokesperson Debbie Cabana said via email.
“However, because of the uncertainty that still exists when traveling abroad, bookings are being made more last minute than before the pandemic.”
Being able to back out
A last-minute travel buy was not the story for Dubois, the retired TV cameraman, who booked his own trip back in January.
But he also bought a ticket that will allow him to cancel his plans up to 24 hours before departure, with a full refund.
On prior trips, he hadn’t tended to pencil in the possibility of needing to cancel — but that was before COVID-19.
“Before now, no,” said Dubois, who worked for both CBC and Radio-Canada during his career. “Now, definitely.”
The University of Toronto’s Chandra says the more flexible arrangements being offered by airlines reflects the fact that some customers won’t be willing to book expensive tickets if there’s a chance they will lose their money.
Rolling out the welcome mat
Dubois is heading to Cuba at the end of November, and by that time, travel restrictions will have been eased.
Sunwing’s Filipp said that “numerous sun destinations are already open for travel,” and like Cuba, other destinations are expected to ease restrictions of their own as vaccination rates rise and COVID-19 cases decline.
Chandra says he’s doubtful that differing rules between sun destinations will have much of an effect on travel patterns.
That’s because a lot of sun seekers — and snowbirds in particular — are likely to “stick to their choices” when it comes to their desired winter getaways. “They’re not going to go other places,” he said.
They’re also unlikely to go to other regions because they head south to take advantage of the better weather, he said.
(CNN) — Island destinations from the Caribbean Sea to the Indian Ocean joined a handful of Eastern European countries among the latest places deemed “very high” risk for travel by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mauritius, Albania and Serbia on Monday moved to the “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High” category on the CDC’s evolving list of travel notices.
Afghanistan, which has been in turmoil since the Taliban takeover and US withdrawal last month, also moved to Level 4.
People should avoid traveling to locations designated with the “Level 4: Covid-19 Very High” notice, the CDC recommends. Anyone who must travel should be fully vaccinated first, the agency advises.
• Afghanistan • Albania • Belize • Grenada • Lithuania • Mauritius • Saint Kitts and Nevis • Serbia • Slovenia
The CDC’s travel notices range from Level 1 (“low”) to Level 4 (“very high”).
Destinations that fall into the “Covid-19 Very High” Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC criteria.
All of the destinations listed above moved up from “Level 3: Covid-19 High.”
The Level 3 category applies to destinations that have had between 100 and 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days.
Israel was also listed as a Level 4 update on Monday afternoon. However, Israel was already listed in the Level 4 category before the weekly update. The CDC has not immediately responded to CNN’s request for clarification.
New ‘Level 3’ destinations
Four other destinations moved to the Level 3 category on Monday: Australia, Brazil, Ethiopia and Romania.
Brazil moved down from Level 4, while Australia, Ethiopia and Romania were previously listed in the Level 2 “moderate” category.
Australia has recently struggled to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant, which has spread to the major population centers of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, leading to lengthy lockdowns.
In its broader travel guidance, the CDC has recommended avoiding all international travel until you are fully vaccinated.
“Fully vaccinated travelers are less likely to get and spread Covid-19. However, international travel poses additional risks, and even fully vaccinated travelers might be at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some Covid-19 variants,” the agency said.
Top image: Aerial view of Sandy Island, Carriacou, Grenada (Adobe Stock Photo). CNN’s Ben Westcott contributed to this report.
Which countries are in danger of being added to the red list this week?
We have been working with COVID data expert Tim White to try and get an idea of which countries are vulnerable to being added to the red list this week.
Of course, these things are unpredictable – and the reasons for government decisions have not often been made clear.
But looking at the data, White feels the focus this time could be on the Caribbean and Balkans.
“Jamaica stayed amber in the previous review, but the Foreign Office appeared as shocked as I was and within hours changed its advice to travellers, effectively placing it on its own red list,” he told Sky News.
“I doubted [Transport Secretary] Grant Shapps would downgrade Jamaica this time as he would effectively be admitting a mistake three weeks ago. However, in the last few days the NHS Test & Trace data, tracking people’s Day 2 results after arriving from overseas, has shown a big spike in the numbers arriving from Jamaica infected with COVID-19. This means it is at risk after all.
“I thought St Lucia would just survive last time despite high rates in August, and so it proved. Rates increased since then, but are going down again now. I think this, allied with the low numbers of people returning to the UK carrying the virus, should help it stay off red again, but St Lucia is still at risk.
“No country has ever gone from green to red in one go. But that may happen this time on the small Caribbean island of Grenada. There’s been an astonishing spread there, with seven-day rates now around 1,000/100,000, well into the danger zone.”
White thinks a few other small islands in the Americas could be added to the red list, but the only concerns in Europe this time are again in the Balkans.
“Albania had one of the highest rates of infected arrivals in the most recent NHS results. But rates there seem low enough to keep it amber. Serbia has the strongest sustained COVID-19 growth in Europe right now, but levels are still below Montenegro when I warned it may go red three weeks ago. Serbia’s vaccination rate is also better, so I think it avoids red too.
“Kosovo should already be red, but its fate could be linked with Serbia and seems set to survive again.”
Further afield, Iran and Iraq may yet again stay amber – though White believes the fact they’ve remained so is a “mystery”.
In Africa, the data suggests Nigeria could be vulnerable, White says.