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European Union to Open Soon

Curated by Ed Boitano

Europe Plans to Open the Door to Vaccinated Americans

Courtesy Eric Anderson, Times Union

Barcelona's historic Gothic Quarter
Barcelona’s historic Gothic Quarter. PHOTOS BY HALINA KUBALSKI.

The European Union plans to throw open its borders this summer to fully vaccinated Americans. But Canada still won’t let us in.

The next best thing? Maybe you can fly to Paris and pretend you’re in Montreal.

While details remain sketchy, the head of the European Commission told the New York Times on Sunday that leisure travel to the European Union by fully vaccinated Americans could resume this summer.


Random Acts of Canine Kindness

Cedric the Dog takes a well-deserved break after his failure to shut down a mask-burning rally in Boise, Idaho.

You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog. – Harry S. Truman

MORE Dog Quotations

4 Things to Consider as You Start Traveling Again, According to Rick Steves

The legendary travel writer and TV personality shares tips for ethically returning to travel.

Courtesy Stacey Leasca 

Rick Steves on the set of On The Record OETA
Rick Steves on the set of On The Record OETA. PHOTO BY CarlosManzanoPHOTOs, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Rick Steves wants you to know that travel will make a comeback, it just might look a little different than you remember.

In April, Steves sat down for a wide-ranging interview about the future of travel with Fund for Education Abroad, an organization that provides scholarships and ongoing support to students who are underrepresented among the U.S. study abroad population. And, as you may suspect, Steves is just as ready as the rest of us to get back out there and explore the world again.


Amtrak’s Summer Sale Lets You Book a Private Room, and Bring a Friend for Free

Courtesy of Patrice J. Williams

Amtrak Train

Train travel is gaining in popularity — stress-free, eco-friendly travel that lets you sit back and enjoy scenic views? We’re on board. What’s even better is scoring a great deal on a train trip, and Amtrak is offering just that. The company just announced its private room sale. From now until April 16, if you book a Roomette for a summer trip, your guest travels for free.


Covid-19 Direct Relief

Covid-19 Direct Relief addresses the courage of health workers on the front lines, honoring them with meaningful support, and the people most at risk in this pandemic are cared for — regardless of politics, religion, or ability to pay.


JetBlue Plane with Mint Business Class Suites

Courtesy of Business Insider

JetBlue Airways plane

JetBlue Airways’ swanky new business class suites have landed.

The New York-based carrier marked another milestone towards launching flights to London having taken delivery of its first Airbus A321neo with the upgraded business class seats that flyers will enjoy on transatlantic flights later this year.


Airlines Testing Touchless Technologies to Ease COVID-19 Concerns

device for Biometric Facial Recognition photo
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of Field Operations, officers take biometric photos of passengers prior to boarding a flight at Houston International Airport on February 12, Seen here is the device for the Biometric Facial Recognition photo. PHOTO COURTESY OF U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION, PUBLIC DOMAIN, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

Courtesy: Mina KajiGio Benitez & Sam Sweeney

As air travel hits record numbers since the pandemic began, U.S. airlines are testing and implementing new technologies aimed at reducing contact — both with surfaces and with people.


Germ Protection: Pack this Next Time You Have to Go Through TSA


Nakefits are lightweight, waterproof sole protectors that adhere to your feet and stay on for hours to protect you from germs, fungal infections, slipping and hot surfaces. Pop them on before going through TSA to give your feet protection. Or take them on a trip and pop them on before entering the hotel spa or sauna, taking a barefoot yoga class, or using the pool or hot tub. Available in a range of sizes suitable for children and adults, Nakefits can be easily removed without any pinching, peeling, or irritation of the skin. For further information, visit NakeFit USA.

Health Passports: The Future Of Travel?

Courtesy: Justin Hayward, Simple Flying

yellow fever certificate
Some countries have required yellow fever certificates for decades. PHOTO BY DVORTYGIRL, via WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CC BY-SA 3.0.

See Europe in Luxury With This Historic Train’s Stunning New Suites and Routes

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Courtesy: Stacey Leasca, travelandleisure.com

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express will now take travelers to more places in Europe than ever before.


Most Stressed States

Baltimore Pride parade
Maryland leads the pack as the US’ most stressed state. PHOTO BY TEDEYTAN, via WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CC BY-SA 2.0

It goes without saying that 2020 was a year like no other, from COVID-19, to a very tough election season, the US has seen one of its most stressful years on record. With this in mind CT Shirts have analyzed Google Search data and cross referenced it with population and average household income to reveal the most stressed states.


The Complete List of All U.S. National Parks

Courtesy of Madeline Bilis

The United States just added a new national park to its roster of incredible public lands: New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. This West Virginia park runs along 53 miles of the New River and encompasses over 70,000 acres of the beautiful wooded gorge.  Plus, it offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, climbing, and whitewater rafting.

New River Gorge National River

Its addition to the long list of U.S. national parks made us wonder — just how many national parks are there?


COVID-19 Has Been Smoldering in Rural America for Months. How Did We Miss It?

A dangerous combination of limited resources, stigma, and politics made the coronavirus difficult to track in rural areas, allowing its spread to go largely unnoticed all summer.


How to Take Your Own Passport Photo

Courtesy: Caroline Morse Teel, SmarterTravel

taking a passport photo

After paying $15 to have an awkward photoshoot in the aisle of a CVS, only to have my passport photos rejected twice (once for being too dark and once for being too bright), I decided there had to be a better way to take your own passport photo. Turns out, snapping your own passport photo is easier, cheaper, and much more convenient than going to a “professional” (a.k.a., the cashier at your local drugstore). Here’s a few tips:


How to Stay Safe While Traveling

the writer's room at Bear Springs Hotel

With travel set to resume as coronavirus restrictions ease, travelers should inform themselves about the cleaning procedures at hotels and Airbnb properties before choosing the best option for them. Ask about cleaning protocols, be on the lookout for red flags such as accumulations of dirt and grime, and inspect surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen, recommends Brian Sansoni of the American Cleaning Institute.


JetBlue CEO Anticipates Improvements to Make Travel Safer

In an interview with CNBC, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said widespread testing will be essential to make passengers feel secure and allow air travel to recover from the coronavirus crisis. “We’ve got to make sure that they’re safe from a health standpoint,” he said, predicting that the epidemic will result in permanent changes in cleaning and screening procedures that will make aircraft and airports safer.


5 Ways to Support Small Businesses from Home During the Pandemic

Courtesy Caroline Morse Teel, SmarterTravel

Small businesses are really hurting during this time of isolation. Here are five simple and safe ways you can help support them so that they’ll still be there for you when the pandemic is over. (And remember — the best way you can help small business is by staying home, so that we can end this isolation period faster.)



American Airlines Ramps Up Domestic Summer Schedule

American Airlines

American Airlines plans to operate more than 90% of the domestic schedule and 80% of the international capacity it flew in 2019 this summer, and it’s adding 150 new routes for the summer vacation season. “Throughout the pandemic, our trademark has been to build a schedule based on what customers tell us they want and need,” said Brian Znotins, vice president of network planning.

Travel to Europe: A Reopening Timeline, Country by Country

Courtesy Jamie Ditaranto, Trip Savvy

inside the Hermitage Theatre at St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace
The Hermitage Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia is one of five Hermitage buildings lining the Palace Embankment of the Neva River. PHOTO BY TOM WEBER.

Europe was one of the regions hardest hit by the novel coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic, but after strict lockdowns, many countries saw steep declines in death and infection rates in the summer of 2020. However, many European countries struggled to bring down the second wave in December, which was followed by a third wave in March 2021.


Americans Are Willing to Give Up Love and Chocolate for Travel

We’re catching flights, not feelings in 2021

Courtesy of Patrice J. Williams 

on vacation

Would you do anything for love? According to a recent study, travel-starved Americans are willing to give up L-O-V-E if it means they can hear those beautiful words: “This is your captain speaking.”

A recent survey conducted by Booking.com found that Americans are ready to hit the road and are finally seeing some light at the end of this year-long tunnel. More than 70 percent said the success of COVID-19 vaccines have them feeling hopeful and “optimistic,” while just over 60 percent have realized travel is crucial to their emotional well-being. It’s clear they’re ready; we’re ready. But how ready?


Best Places to Go

Courtesy of Frommer’s

Frommer’s invited some of the most celebrated authors in the United States to tell us about their America, as part of their Best Places to Go series. These top-tier writers had free rein to select the destinations that they think define the United States and that shaped the nation they love. This year’s Best Places names the spots Americans should get to know — one day, once the pandemic is just a bad memory — to better understand their own heritage and legacy and, perhaps, to start the process of healing.

Manzanar National Historic Site
Manzanar National Historic Site is a memorial dedicated to Japanese-Americans who lived and died while incarcerated at Manzanar internment camp during World War II. PHOTO BY GFRED1, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Iceland Opens to All Vaccinated Travelers — No Testing Required

Get your passport ready!

Grundarfjörður, Iceland

Courtesy: Stefanie Waldek

As the pandemic appears to be winding down, travel restrictions are finally being lifted, meaning your chance to travel the world once more is right around the corner.


Covid ‘Resort Bubbles’ — The Next Step For Safe Travel?

Courtesy: Ramsey Qubein

With many countries or states already requiring a negative test to travel, the concept of a resort bubble provides one more layer of assurance as more Americans demonstrate comfort in traveling to destinations that make visitors feel safe.

Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Nassau, Bahamas
Grand Hyatt Baha Mar Nassau Paradise Island in the Bahamas successfully rolled out a resort bubble. PHOTO COURTESY OF GRAND HYATT BAHA MAR.

While Spring Break travel may earn the wrong kind of headlines, resort bubbles provide an alternative method of travel that can be effective.


Cruises Might Not Return to These Ports After COVID-19

Key West and the Cayman Islands might implement cruise capacity restrictions

Courtesy Stefanie Waldek

Majesty of the Seas at Key West

As cruising remains in limbo due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s only one thing for sure: the industry won’t look the same when it comes back. While cruise lines will unquestionably have to rethink onboard programming (buffets, for instance, are a no-go), it looks like they might have to rethink their itineraries as well.


TSA Explores Use of Ultraviolet Light to Disinfect Checkpoint Bins

Courtesy: Hazel King  

UV Sterilization of pipettes and tips in a Biosafety Cabinet
UV Sterilization of pipettes and tips in a Biosafety Cabinet. PHOTO BY ORLA KEOGH, via WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CC BY 4.0.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is trialing the use of new technology that uses ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light to disinfect airport checkpoint bins in a bid to provide safer checkpoint experiences and prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other viruses and bacteria.


Less Will be More in Post-Pandemic Travel: Airbnb Chief


Smaller cities and more family time will gain favor over global tourism permanently in the wake of the pandemic, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky predicts. “They’re not yearning to see Times Square” after months of isolation from normal life, he observes.


Together in Spirit – The Best Friends Animal Society

At the core of Best Friends Animal Society’s work is the dream that one day animals will no longer be killed in America’s shelters.


New Geothermal Lagoon to Open near Reykjavik, Iceland Along the Ocean’s Edge in Spring 2021

Pursuit recently introduced The Ritual at Sky Lagoon, a seven-step experience inspired by the traditions of Icelandic bathing culture. Exclusive to the oceanfront, geothermal lagoon located minutes from downtown Reykjavik, The Ritual at Sky Lagoon will combine the healing powers of warm and cold waters, warm steam, dry heat and fresh air.

Infinity Sky Lagoon, Iceland

“The Ritual at Sky Lagoon will provide guests with an immersive and holistic approach to relaxation and wellbeing,” says Dagny Petursdottir, General Manager, Sky Lagoon. “The rejuvenating and transformative experience will enable guests to connect with mind, body and spirit through the radiant powers of geothermal waters.”


The 9 Most Anticipated New Cruise Ships of 2021

Courtesy Gene Sloan

MSC Virtuosa (MSC Cruises)
MSC Virtuosa will be a sister to the one-year-old MSC Grandiosa. PHOTO BY ND44, via WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Cruise lines may have canceled most of their sailings this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. But, so far, they haven’t canceled orders for new ships.

More than 20 new oceangoing vessels still are scheduled to debut in 2021, including at least a dozen from lines that market to North Americans.

In some cases, the ships will be arriving months behind schedule due to pandemic-related construction delays at the shipyards that are building them. Thanks to such delays, the arrival of a few ships that had been scheduled for delivery in 2021 will be pushed to 2022.

But it’ll be a big year for new cruise ships nevertheless.

Among the most notable newcomers will be Mardi Gras, the biggest ship ever for Carnival Cruise Line. Originally due to debut this year, it’s now scheduled to begin sailing in April.

There also will be major new ships coming from Royal Caribbean, Holland America, MSC Cruises and start-up line Virgin Voyages.

The precise dates when some of these ships will begin sailing still is up in the air. It’ll depend, in part, on when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clears cruise ships to begin sailing again in U.S. waters. But, in all cases, these vessels already are available for booking.

Here is a list of the 9 most notable new cruise ships arriving in 2021.


JetBlue Passengers Will Be Able to Take an At-Home COVID-19 Test

No nasal swab required

Written by Stefanie Waldek, Courtesy of JetBlue

With COVID-19 testing restrictions impeding both domestic and international travel, JetBlue is providing its passengers an option that might help them travel more freely. The airline has announced a partnership with Vault Health to provide its passengers with easy access to an at-home COVID-19 test that could be used to enter specific destinations with coronavirus testing policies in place.

9 Tips for Traveling With Kids During the Pandemic

Alex Brouwer with students from his weekly English workshop

First tip: take a deep breath.

Courtesy of Wendy Altschuler, tripsavvy.com

Traveling with kids is often challenging even when there’s isn’t a pandemic to contend with. Kids require extra gear, entertainment, snacks, downtime, and a careful eye to make sure they’re safe while out and about. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to practice social distancing, good hygiene, and to wear a mask when venturing through airports, getting food on the road, using public restrooms, or where there are groups of people present. Whether you’d like to plan for a road trip, a flight on a commercial airline, or a staycation in your own city, here are tips for traveling with kids during a pandemic.


Exploring Japan’s Wellbeing Traditions to Inspire Post-Lockdown Restorative Travel

Beppu Onsen hot springs, Japan
Beppu Onsen has several hot springs varying in color and clarity for different ailments (© JNTO)

Recreate Japan’s onsens, find mindfulness through zen meditation and shakyo, and practice the technique of kintsugi from home

For would-be travelers dreaming of an escape to Japan post-lockdown, there are a variety of fun, interactive ways to recreate some of the country’s ancient wellbeing and mindfulness practices from afar. The below methods and products highlight how some of Japan’s oldest traditions, from onsens to the art of kintsugi, will help to inspire travelers to start planning their next restorative journey to Japan.


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