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Travel Lifestyle

The State Of Travel

Right now, there are so very many articles on how Coronavirus is affecting the travel industry are overwhelming. But, fellow travelers, I will jump in the pool and do my best to report to you the state of travel. Ready?

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The Overall Picture

To really understand the staggering numbers of COVID-19, check out the World-O-Meter Coronavirus Count. While the numbers are self-reporting, it gives you a look at the big picture country by country and state by state.

As for looking at a classic two week vacation now, consider this: most countries, including the U.S. are requiring 2 weeks of quarantine upon arrival. So lets put that together. Two weeks of quarantine upon arrival plus two weeks of limited touring (depending on what’s open and available) then two weeks quarantine upon arrival back in the States. Basically, you’re looking at a six week commitment. Ouch. In other words, yes, you can go to Ireland but do you have the time and will the locals be welcoming?

The State Status

If you do want to get a stamp in your passport, your first stop is the State Department. According to them, most travel advisories are at a level 3 meaning “reconsider travel”. Get that? It does NOT say “no travel”. Check out the full list of State Department Travel Advisories.

Interestingly enough, two countries had a Level 1 advisory meaning “travel as normal” : Macau and Taiwan! Who knew? Similarly, New Zealand, New Caldonia, and Thailand all found themselves with a travel Level 2 “exercise increased caution”.

Regardless of how The State Department feels, you’ll also need to check to see if American passports are allowed at your destination. So, who is welcoming American? Not the Mexicans or Canadians. Our neighbors are so concerned about virus spread that they’ve pretty much closed down their borders. However, tons of islands in the Carribean like Aruba and Barbados as well as countries like Belize are open with screening and/or negative testing results. A few others are Croatia, the UAE, French Polynesia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Sinai tourist area of Egypt. It’s certainly an interesting mix!

No matter where you land, expect required testing (or handing over of results) and temperature checks.

Cruise Crisis

Here’s an easy one- you can’t. Ports of call are not accepting ships so they can’t schedule anything. The American government (along with most others) is literally enforcing no sail ban.The cruise industry has their eyes on the future and is working on booking the 2021 season. River cruising seems to be taking the lead in this race as booking have almost doubled. Perhaps consumers feel comfortable with a small, floating home base.

It’s All Up In The Air

Since March, the airline industry has probably shown the most ebb and flow. From sanitizing aircraft to reducing the flight load, airlines have been experimenting with what is going to work.

For example, most airlines are doing away with the empty middle seat policy with Southwest looking to bow out on September 30th. And while airplanes have never sparked so much, I still recommend bringing your own wipes to wipe down your immediate area.

With shrunk down fight loads comes unexpected delays and lots of rescheduling. With airlines working with a fraction of the normal schedule, domestic planes seem packed to the brim as travelers look for options closer to home. Meanwhile, international flights seem to have plenty of room due to the aforementioned government restrictions. For more on individual airlines check out this Travel and Leisure Coronavirus Airline Update.

With so much chaos, some travelers are looking at out of the box options like JSX Hop On Charters which lets you tag on to a private charter for a reasonable cost at the last minute. A very cool option.

Predicting The Future

So, with everything topsy-turvey, what’s a traveler supposed to expect? My reliable Magic Eight Ball is ready to wow you with scientific precision. Here are my five travel predictions as we climb out of the Coronavirus abyss.

  • National Parks Will Be Packed! Travel junkies are going to get out somehow and the park system is waiting. In fact, the National Park System has not seen the drastic drop in numbers that most other areas of the industry have dealt with. Expect prices to stay at retail and reservations to be at a premium.
  • Cleanliness will be important currency. Expect marketing campaigns to let you know that they value cleanliness more than anything. Airplanes will continue to sparkle and hotel rooms will be break the seal ready for your arrival.
  • Slow travel is king. The days of 21 European countries in 10 days are gone. Instead, look for trends that drop you in a singular destination for an extended amount of time. Slow travel also seems to benefit the environment by cutting into that carbon footprint just a bit.
  • River cruising will continue to power over ocean liners. River cruising is already feeling the love and that will continue. Huge ocean craft have gotten a bad rap lately while little known river long boats are just starting to find their place. The smaller boats have a cozier feel and are more welcome in ports like Amsterdam and Venice.
  • The age of the American road trip is back. With a feel of semi-isolation, road tripping is a comfort zone for many. In fact, RV sales are up and people are on the road already. As Americans continue to dip theirs toes back in the travel pool, road trips will, at a minimum, be the first step back to their travel mojo.
Travel Dreaming

Reservations About Roma

You can’t turn a corner in Rome without running into some slice of history. It seems that whether you look high or low, the past greets you with one surprise after another. The eternal city is a travel icon for a reason. However, sprinkled in to the nooks and crannies between the basilicas and the forums are quite a few treats. Don’t get me wrong, no matter what kind of traveler you are, there are a few standards to see while there. So where do you even start? It’s time for a little travel, Roma Style!

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Five Tickets To Secure Before You Visit The Vatican.

There is no denying that St. Peter’s Basilica is the finest church in Christendom. Within its literal borders, The Vatican has more priceless artwork per square foot than most art establishments in the world. As you can imagine, it’s a popular hot spot on the city’s grand tour. In fact, up to 20,000 people could file through to see marvels like the Laocoon and the Sistine Chapel. It can be very overwhelming!

With a little careful planning, you can enjoy the best the Vatican has to offer with a few clicks. First, do not buy any tickets from an outside source. They are inflating the price and are taking advantage of you. Instead, go straight to the source. In addition to getting a reservation at the museum and gardens, there are two other tickets worth looking into.

The official entrance to the Vatican Museums

Bonus: You can climb the 550 steps up Michaelangelo’s Dome and take in the breadth of the Holy See and the city beyond. It costs 10 Euro, cash only. Plus, there’s a little coffee shop up there. The Italians think of everything.

Bernini's Canopy the MichaelAngelo's Dome

Through a little known procedure, you can get a reservation to see the Tomb of St. Peter. to do this, you must make a request through the Office of The Scavi. This will allow you to see the ancient ruins, St. Peter’s resting place, and the Clementine Chapel if this request is approved.

The modest door to the Office of the Scavi

Bonus: Get to the Office of the Scavi early so you can pop in to the Teutonic Cemetery just across the way. It’s free to look around.

The Teutonic Cemetery

Don’t get the Necropolis that is offered through the Museum confused with the one offered through the Scavi. Do go see the second site located under a parking garage. Those tickets can be purchased at the same time you get your full museum pass.

The second Necropolis

Lastly, if you intend to get in to the weekly audience with the Pope, you’ll need to request your tickets for that as well. There are two ways to go about it. You can either check in with your local parish and find out of your diocese has any available for your dates or request them directly from the Prefecture of the Papal Household.

Five Tickets To Buy Before You Touch Down Rome.

There are two types of visitors to Rome. Those who stand in line and those who don’t. With so much to see and do, Rome is one of those cities that takes careful planning. The bottom line is that if you don’t schedule some specific must do’s, you will wind up rushing from one thing to another without time to truly appreciate everything you’ve come so far to enjoy.

Santa Maria Maggiore

…is one of the four major churches devoted to Mary. It has quite an interesting history and two fascinating features. First, the entire cieling of the sanctuary is gold leafed with gold that Columbus brought back and gave to Queen Isabella. To see it up close, you can climb up to the roof courtesy of a spiral staircase crafted by the great Bernini. You can see the ceiling, the stairs, and so very much more by booking a tour.

Bernini's Stairs at Santa Maria en Maggiore

Bonus: At The Basilica of San Clemente, there are three levels of ruins to explore under the simple church with an anchor. The underground ruins are a cash only business and tend not to have a big line anyway.

The Castel Sant’ Angelo and the Secret Borgia Passetto

…are loosely connected to the Vatican- physically. However, it doesn’t take much to see how important the Castel is to Vatican history. Those pesky Borgias were up to no good and needed an escape plan in case things went belly up. Touring both the Castel and the secret passage gives an incredible insight into Rome throughout the years.

Bonus: There’s no need to buy a ticket to go to Rome’s oldest church, The Pantheon. Located very close to Piazza Navona, the Pantheon is a true architectural wonder. With a perfect occulus in the dome and proportions that seem impossible, it’s amazing to think that it still stands, in quite good condition I might add, after almost 1900 years. Although, to avoid the lines, get there early or right at closing as the crowds are the thinnest then.

The Borghesi Gallery

…is probably the second most famous art collection in the city, falling in line behind The Vatican. With works of art like Apollo and Daphne, the Borghesi is only available by reservation. Plan on taking a full morning or afternoon to fully explore the entire gallery.

The Borghese Gallery
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Bonus: Don’t discount the gift shops of Rome. As we all know, pretty much every tourist site dumps you into a gift shop. I happen to find lots of them fun in this part of the world. There are some real treasures in them! My favorite souvenir? A glow in the dark Virgin Mary that I found at San Giovanni en Laterno.

The Coliseum

…certainly finds itself on the bucket list of most travelers who plan to see Rome. It’s no wonder considering all of the legends that surround this first sports arena of sorts. But, make no mistake, while the ancient Romans were able to fill and empty the place in five minutes, efficiency plays no role in today’s tours.

A close up look at the Coliseum

Bonus: It’s really worth the time to rent a few bikes and get out of town on the Appian Way. This historic road was the main thoroughfare from the south and into ancient Rome.

The Appian Way

Lastly, don’t forget your rail ticket out of town!

Like any good Roman from years past, it’s a really good idea to have an exit strategy! Whether you are taking the train to the airport or another part of Italy, book ahead of time so that you have all the information you need to make your transition smooth.

El Termini
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The romance of Rome is undeniable! And as long as you are well prepared, you’ll enjoy every minute of that Dolce Vita!

10 Books In 10 Minutes Series

Ten Books In Ten Minutes: Washington, D.C.

Thanks for joining us for our 10 Books in 10 Minutes Facebook Live Event! Sharing stories from around the world is an amazing gift to give any child. That includes these great books about Washington, D.C. Putting the world in a young mind’s hands is one of the best ways to create productive, understanding adults. Books like this allow readers to develop life skills like empathy, cultural understanding, and a global sense of self.

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TGC strives to connect travelers with quality literature and media that allows the curiosity in all of us to thrive. More importantly, the most powerful tool we have to be the best travelers we can be, regardless of our age, is gobal literacy. So, for more great reads and connections to travel and culture, click hereNote that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too!

Washington, D.C. City Trails

Straight from the publishers of some of the best travel guides for children comes WDC City Trails. This book, great for your older explorers, has over 15 walking tours themed for every interest a kid could dream up! From the Senate to the Supreme Court, this book covers the US capitol covered. The pages are designed to explore all aspects of culture and get your kids excited about visiting this slice of history.

Larry Gets Lost In Washington

Oh, Larry! Separated from his humans, Larry winds up seeing some of the best the capitol has to offer. In fact, he winds up having a bit more fun than most!

House Mouse, Senate Mouse

What does it take to make a law? Follow this quest to choose the nation’s perfect cheese in this witty book perfect for curious minds.

Woodrow, The White House Mouse

Meet Woodrow, a resident at the most famous house around. This mouse is only too happy to show you around and tell you all about the amazing things that happen here.

Curious About The White House

Read on for a few fascinating facts about the most famous house in town. Then find out the answers to your most curious question by exploring the pages. Perfect for your young grade schoolers.

Where Is The White House?

Another chapter book from the bobblehead series. Learn the ins and outs of the people’s house and how it changes hands from president to president. A really great read before you tour.

S is For Smithsonian

From the great global alphabet series comes a version about our capitol. Each letter does a great job of explaining all kinds of different moments you can find around the city. I happen to be partial to the letter “Z”!

Mount Vernon’s Magnificent Menagerie

It’s Christmas and there’s a camel at Mount Vernon! Learn what the holidays were like when our country was brand new.

America’s White Table

Read to discover this important lesson on respecting those who have served and those we have lost. Knowing what the POW MIA table is can be an enlightening moment before visiting Arlington.

Grace For President

Someone has made herself rather comfy in the Oval Office. And why not? Grace finds out all about what it takes to be president and then thinks she would surely be a great one! I agree!