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Club Med Launches Interactive Digital Brochure for Travel Advisors


Club Med is introducing a new tool for travel advisors that gives them all the need-to-know information about the resorts at their fingertips.

The all-inclusive properties have transformed their ‘Trident’ updates, which were formerly mailed directly to advisors, into The Trident 2021, an interactive digital brochure that comprehensively covers all the need-to-know Club Med product and service news for the upcoming year.

ADVERTISING

Starting with this one, all Trident brochures

In years past, Trident brochures were mailed directly to advisors. In alignment with Club Med’s Happy to Care program, a range of sustainable commitments based on values and practices which reflect sustainable development, this brochure – as well as all Trident brochures moving forward – will be distributed digitally.

Agents will now be able give their customers information on any property from activities to dining in real time.

Also included is additional information on Club Med’s Safe Together program, enhanced safety and hygiene measures implemented in all of the brand’s resorts as they reopen, including those in Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

The new interactive experience also features details about three brand new resorts:

Club Med Québec, Canada: Opening December 2021. The four-season all-inclusive mountain resort will be Club Med’s first resort in Canada, just an hour away from Québec City in the Le Massif de Charlevoix region. With over 300 rooms spread across 300+ acres, the family-friendly resort will feature locally inspired culinary experiences, a private 5-Trident (5-star) space.

Club Med Seychelles, East Africa: Opened March 27, 2021. Retreat to the private island of Sainte Anne in the Republic of Seychelles with Club Med Seychelles—the island’s very first resort. Respectfully integrated along a preserved Marine National Park and spread out across 50+ acres, the resort features 290 rooms that sit just below the treetops and feature amenities like private pools, outdoor showers, and verandas for sunbathing and dining al fresco.

Club Med La Rosière, France: Opened December 2020. From its perch at 1950 meters above sea level and facing south, this French Alps resort is built on the slopes, overlooking the entire Tarentaise Valley offering sweeping 180-degree mountain views.





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Bring it on home: Antarctica | Travel


Who and where • Debbie and Tim Callihan of Chesterfield on a beach in Antarctica. They arrived prior to sunrise via Zodiac boats from the ship so that they could be there to see more than 200,000 penguins begin their day.

The trip • They traveled on the ship Explorer with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. The trip started by traveling through the Antarctic Peninsula then to South Georgia and then the Falkland Islands. They left the U.S. on Feb. 14, 2020, and returned home on March 10. The World Health Organization declared a pandemic the next day.

Travel tip • Highly recommend taking some good binoculars as well as a good camera and a laptop to manage photos. You will bring home once-in-a-lifetime pictures.

Contribute • Email your photo to [email protected]. Include the full names of everyone in the photo, including where they are from and where you are standing in the photo. Also include your address and phone number. Please also tell us a little about the trip and a travel tip. We’re looking for interesting, well-composed, well-lighted photos.

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Kazakhstan Extends Suspension of Visa-Free Travel over Coronavirus Concerns


Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry announced this week the government’s decision to extend an ongoing suspension of the unilateral visa waiver for visitors from 54 countries to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease.


“As part of efforts to combat the further dissemination of Covid-19 in the country, the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan decided to extend the suspension of the unilateral visa-free regime for citizens of 54 countries of the world until December 31, 2021, inclusive,” reads a statement issued by the foreign ministry on Tuesday.


The list of countries whose citizens are temporarily banned from entering Kazakhstan without a visa features 54 nations, including the United States, European Union member states, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and Canada. At the same time, the decree does not apply to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and South Korea.


Previously, officials in Nur-Sultan suspended the unilateral visa waiver twice, last April and October. The second suspension period expired on May 1, 2021.


Central Asia’s largest and wealthiest country gave a start to a visa-free program in 2014 to further develop tourism infrastructure and attract cross-border investments from around the globe.


By September 2019, the program resulted in a unilateral visa exemption for visitors from 54 countries. In addition, Kazakhstan has inked bilateral agreements with 16 other countries allowing their citizens to stay in Kazakhstan from two weeks to 90 days without requiring a visa. Russians, for example, can remain in Kazakhstan for nearly three months while South Koreans can stay for up to a month.


In 2018, Kazakhstan introduced a 72-hour transit visa waiver for passport holders from China and India, which was later suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.


Although Kazakhstan’s vast hydrocarbon and mineral resources remain the backbone of the economy, the government has long been working to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels by improving the investment climate.


The country had been the top destination in Central Asia for some of the most active cross-border investors throughout 2019, including those from the Netherlands, the United States, Switzerland, Russia, and the United Kingdom, absorbing more than $24 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI).


However, since the novel coronavirus pandemic erupted in March 2020, the tourism sector in Kazakhstan has been facing challenges posed by travel restrictions, border closures, and suspension of air travel like in many other countries. Over the first nine months of 2020, the gross flow of FDI in Central Asia’s largest economy has decreased by 32,2 percent and accounted for a total of $12.6 billion.


A country of almost 19 million people, Kazakhstan has reported more than 340,239 cases of infections, with 3,889 deaths since last March. The country’s lockdown began on March 16, 2020, and was subsequently extended several times. Harsh restrictions imposed by the government to curb the coronavirus outbreak halted most economic activities in Kazakhstan, causing many people to lose their jobs.



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9 Most Colorful Cities In Central And South America


Latin America is practically one big pop of color, from its lush green forests to the beautiful coastline, or, in the case of Peru, those utterly stunning Rainbow Mountains. Add the indigenous weaving, the music, and the vibrant atmosphere, and it is not surprising that the decision of which colorful cities to pick for this edition of “Most Colorful Cities in…” was difficult. 

So, as always, I went with those I know, or, if I haven’t quite made it there yet, at least places I have on my radar and have researched extensively. A couple of cities, Valparaiso and Buenos Aires have already been awarded a place in my Most Colorful Cities in the World selection, but that is because they are simply the best when it comes to a pop of metropolitan color.

Enjoy planning your next colorful getaway to Latin America!

The historic quarter of Valparaiso in Chile at night.
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

1. Valparaiso, Chile

Before I ever visited Valparaiso, I knew I would love it. A once-thriving port city that had persevered through economic decline and hardships under political dictatorship, through color and street art, always offers something special. In Valparaiso, street art was once encouraged by Nobel prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda, then went underground, only to emerge again, and is now loved and thriving. Walking through the steep streets, with every corner a picture, and even humble staircases turned into works of art, you can spend hours, in fact, days discovering new pieces of art. It is one of the most colorful places, and one of my favorite art-filled cities in the world.

Pro Tip: The only way to try and see most of the art on display is by guided walking tour, and even then, you have the constant feeling that you should be looking around the next corner. So, I suggest you start off with one guided tour to get your bearings, and then go back and add to it with a self-guided walking tour experience later.

Colorful painted buildings of Favela  in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Skreidzeleu / Shutterstock.com

2. Santa Marta Favela, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro conjures up images of glamorous hotels, stunning beaches, and happy people in bikinis frolicking on the same. But the brightly colored favelas are as much part of Rio as Christ the Redeemer or Sugarloaf Mountain. I’m not a fan of so-called slum tourism myself, and there are arguments for and against it. That said, visitors to these areas bring money to those who need it most in the city. Much like in other Latin American cities where street art and literally painting the town have brought together poorer communities, the favelas in Rio have undergone art-centric revivals, and it is worthwhile taking a closer look at these vibrant communities clinging onto the sides of the city’s many steep mountains. 

Pro Tip: To state the obvious, don’t try and attempt to go into the favelas without a guide, and even when with a guide, don’t carry your best purse or watch. But do go with a local and spend some money in the neighborhood shops. 

Typical houses in La Boca, Buenos Aires.
de Dios Editores / Shutterstock.com

3. La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is one of my favorite cities in South America. It is like a Paris that has frayed around the edges, but with the faded grandeur and the vibrancy of the city still very much present. Full of music, dance, art, and culture, Buenos Aires has many distinct neighborhoods, and La Boca is the colorful one. La Boca, the mouth, was once the port area of Buenos Aires, and today is best known for its street markets, street art, and painted surroundings. Even the cobbles on the streets are painted. Touristy, with many posing tango-dancing couples displaying their skill in front of popular bars, yes. But fun despite the hype? For sure. Especially for photographers and Instagram enthusiasts, this colorful neighborhood is difficult to beat.

Pro Tip: Caminito is a lane, literally meaning small path, within La Boca, and is even more colorful than the rest. Here, you’ll find a fabulous street market full of art and arts and crafts. The market is open daily, but the most stalls are out on weekends.

Zocalos in Guatapé, Colombia.
sunsinger / Shutterstock.com

4. Guatapé, Colombia

This is, reportedly, the most colorful city or town in Colombia — and maybe even in South America. Colombia itself is full of worthwhile sights, but a stop in Guatapé is a must if you like color. Not only are private residences as well as public buildings painted in all the colors of the rainbow and then some, but they also have special frescos on each house called zocalos. Some of the frescoes are abstract patterns while others depict more recognizable shapes such as chickens, flowers, and birds. Each and every house is worth taking a picture of, and having entire streets filled with them is just ridiculously joyous. Just exactly how and why this tradition of the zocalos has started nobody seems to know, but they are now a fixture and a must-see when in Colombia.

Pro Tip: The surroundings of Guatapé are also worth exploring, so, if coming from Medellin, which is roughly two hours by bus, why not stay the night before heading back? There are also organized tours if you are shy of taking local transport.

Beco do Batman in São Paulo.
Alf Ribeiro / Shutterstock.com

5. Batman Alley, São Paulo, Brazil

Wherever I go, I search out areas that are known for their street art. Sometimes those can be slightly dodgy neighborhoods, visited with care, but other times, as in the case of Batman Alley, they are dedicated areas where artists are allowed and encouraged to let loose. This alleyway would normally have been a nondescript back lane, boring and bland, but now, adorned with ever-changing murals, it is an outdoor art gallery in a lovely neighborhood that is colorful and filled with small boutiques and cafes, making you linger a little longer.

Pro Tip: São Paulo is not only full of amazing museums and art galleries but also has some of the largest commissioned murals by world-renowned street artists in the world. As you drive through the city, look out for underpasses along the motorways and up at the towering apartment blocks in the city center. Most spaces are adorned by art.

Pelourinho, the historic center of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

6. Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil

Pelourinho means whipping post in Portuguese, and this neighborhood of Salvador, the upper, old part, was where the slave auctions took place. Ironically, like in most Central, Caribbean, and South American cities, it is the colonial buildings we find so beautiful, and they are, but the history behind them is disturbing. That said, it is history, and should not be ignored, and, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this very colorful part of the city is being cherished and preserved.

Pro Tip: Pelourinho is on a hill overlooking Salvador, and the climb can take a toll on your knees. Instead, take the lift, Elevador Lacerda, to the top. It’s a sight in itself, with fabulous views from the top.

Skyline of Guayaquil. Ecuador.
OSTILL is Franck Camhi / Shutterstock.com

7. Guayaquil, Ecuador

Apart from being a colorful city, Guayaquil also has Ecuador’s second busiest airport and is the transit hub to the Galapagos Islands, so, if you are en route, book a brief stopover and enjoy the city. While it is an ever-growing modern city, there is an old colonial part that dates to 1538. The old town, Las Peñas, is located at the end of the Malecón 2000, the bustling beach promenade, on a hill overlooking the port. It is a real pop of color. To best appreciate it, climb the 444 Steps of Cerro Santa Ana, a wide, comfortable staircase hemmed by beautiful buildings and lined with palm trees and pieces of art. And even if 444 steps sound a lot, it is a comfortable climb.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss Numa Pompilio Llona, a cobbled street at the bottom of the hill, which is famous for its old wooden buildings.

Granada, Nicaragua, in Central America.
Inspired By Maps / Shutterstock.com

8. Granada, Nicaragua

Granada in Nicaragua is a hotchpotch of colonial buildings, some dating to 1524, crowded markets, a great selection of cafes and restaurants, and the sunshine-yellow Cathedral Iglesia Guadalupe. The entire old center is full of single-story residences, each brighter than the next, but one of the best streets to linger for a while is La Calzada, also known as Gringo Street. Touristy, yes, but full of cafes and restaurants, color, and street musicians. Perfect for a lazy afternoon.

Pro Tip: Granada lies on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, the only freshwater lake that contains oceanic, that is, saltwater species of fish, which are believed to have become trapped there after the lake was formed by a volcanic eruption.

Panama City and Biomuseo seen from the sea.
BlackMac / Shutterstock.com

9. Panama City, Panama

Panama City is one of those cities where super-modern meets old and charming. The Casco Viejo is one of my favorite places in Latin America because of its gorgeous — yes, colonial — architecture that is painted in vibrant colors. The old town is filled with lovely boutiques (Panama hat, anybody?), arty markets, superb top-rated restaurants, atmospheric cafes, and many picturesque spots. Add to that the carnival and the truly rainbow-colored Frank Gehry-designed Bio Museum, and you have a superbly colorful mix which to enjoy within easy reach of the States.

Pro Tip: Spend your first night on the rooftop bar Tantalo, which I include in my picks for The World’s 9 Best Champagne Bars To Enjoy A Sip. The views are incredible.



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Letter to Birdland | Lotus roots and bamboo shoots | Travel


At Zhejiang University, we have a holiday, International Labor Day, and I have six whole days with no classes!

Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t be working.

I grade morning and afternoon, seven days a week, except while I’m in class.

But still, what a relief that I don’t have to stop grading to go to class or do prep.

It’s a nice rhythm. After breakfast I have a 15-minute walk through the flower quad.

(All the beds of roses are in full bloom! Peonies stand tall and staid, lankier than mine at home, and somehow more elegant if less exuberant, shyly offering their pink blossoms. The poppies have gone, but now amongst their nodding seed heads come something called Pink Ladies, four big, delicately-veined petals, pink, as you might guess, glowing with a pale yellow center. I looked it up on my iNaturalist app.)

In my office I pound the keyboard, making my way down the pile of annotated bibliographies.

My students have researched food issues, and the intersecting topics they have chosen are intriguing: Food + Access = essays about Food Deserts and Food Apartheid; Food + Technology = GMOs or Mechanized Farming Practices, or even Urban Farms.

I work until lunch time and then walk back through the flowers to the canteen.

In her weekly journal, one student added a question at the end of her entry: “What are Mary’s favorite dishes in the canteen?”

I gleefully answered: “Bamboo Shoots and Lotus Roots.”

Both a little rare here, and both delightfully crunchy.

The lotus roots are sliced into discs with holes, so they look a little like wheels.

The bamboo shoots are cut on the bias and quite different from those in the canned Chinese food my mother used to heat up for us on special nights.

I also love the transparent noodles.

One student told me they were made of green beans, but another said sweet potatoes.

My time here is growing short, and I’m feeling a melancholy mix of homesickness for Birdland and sorrow to leave my Chinese home.

Most mornings Michael and I catch up with a video call.

That is to say, his mornings, my evenings.

My husband continues our ritual of walking around the yard, only now my walk is virtual. It gives me a delightfully wistful feeling when he shows me the nubbins of Ghost Lily leaves pushing their way out of the soil, or the lilacs blooming as they have for over a hundred years on that farm.

A few weeks ago, he gave me the sad news that he hasn’t seen Maude, our Royal Palm turkey, in a while.

He thinks she’s been eaten, but I wondered if she was setting eggs on a hidden nest.

“Oh no,” he said. “I’ve looked. She’s not anywhere. I’m afraid she’s gone.”

Meanwhile, our two Toms, Claude and Marcel, continue their spring joust, even without their ladylove to show off for.

Imagine my surprise and delight when Michael stopped talking in the middle of a sentence and turned his camera out toward the yard.

There ran a decidedly skinny Maude, head stretched out, in a beeline for the pond, where she took a long drink.

“I told you!” I cried, “she’s got a nest somewhere. Watch where she goes and you can find it.”

But a sneaky turkey was too quick for him, and he lost sight of her.

What remains to be seen is whether the eggs she must be setting are viable, or even fertilized.

But it’s fun to dream about coming home to a proud mama with a string of baby poults following her.

The weather here has been fairly cool in the mornings and evenings, but midday is just beginning to heat up.

It will get up to 88 today, and my morning walk was already warm.

Luckily, I have discovered the charms of the Sunbrella, my own term for using an umbrella as portable shade on a sunny day.

I noticed some students under smart, reflective parasols, and since the umbrella I brought from home was starting to wear out, I bought one of those.

It works rain or shine to shield me from the elements.

Set in Beauty; Hatch out Peace; Blessed Be

Mary Lucille Hays is visiting China. She wants to wish her folks a happy Mother’s Day (Mom and Linda) and a Happy Birthday (Bob). You can see pictures about this week’s post on Instagram @BirdlandLetters. Mary can be reached at [email protected] or via snail mail care of the Journal-Republican, 118 E. Washington St., Monticello, IL 61856. She wants to thank her friends for writing and will answer you all soon.





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Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons odds, picks and prediction


The Chicago Bulls (28-39) travel to meet the Detroit Pistons (20-48) Sunday at Little Caesars Arena. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. ET. Below, we analyze the Bulls vs. Pistons odds and lines, with NBA picks and predictions.

The Bulls are coming off a 121-99 win over the Boston Celtics as a four-point underdog. It’s their second straight win, as they topped the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday by a 120-99 count.

The Pistons are coming off a 118-104 loss in Philadelphia on Saturday, and now they have the quick turnaround. Detroit has won just once in the past six outings while going 2-4 against the spread across the stretch.

Bulls at Pistons: Odds, spread and lines

Odds via BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports’ betting odds for a full list. Lines last updated at 9:40 a.m. ET.

  • Money line : Bulls -375 (bet $375 to win $100) | Pistons +290 (bet $100 to win $290)
  • Against the spread/ATS : Bulls -8.5 (-110) | Pistons +8.5 (-110)
  • Over/Under : 219.5 (O: -110 | U: -110)

Bulls at Pistons: Key injuries

Bulls

  • Nothing affecting gambling odds.

Pistons

  • PG Hamidou Diallo (personal) out
  • SG Jaren Jackson Jr. (mouth) out
  • SG Rodney McGruder (elbow) out
  • PG Dennis Smith Jr. (knee) out

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Bulls at Pistons: Odds, lines, predictions and picks

Prediction

Bulls 111, Pistons 105

Money line (ML)

The Bulls (-375) will cost you nearly four times your potential return, and that’s too expensive on the road, even against a poor Pistons (+290) side.

AVOID.

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Against the spread (ATS)

The PISTONS +8.5 (-110) were dusted by the 76ers on Saturday, and they have a quick turnaround.

However, they’re 10-1 ATS across the past 11 games as an underdog of 8.5 or more points. Roll with Detroit, as they should be able to keep it within single digits.

Over/Under (O/U)

UNDER 219.5 (-110) is the play here. The Under has connected in six in a row for the Bulls while going 9-4 in their past 13 as a favorite.

The Under is 5-2-1 in the past eight home games for the Pistons, while cashing in six of the past eight as a ‘dog. The Under is also 5-2 in the past seven when working on no rest.

Want some action on this one? Place a bet at BetMGM now. For more sports betting picks and tips, visit SportsbookWire.com. Please gamble responsibly.

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Gannett may earn revenue from audience referrals to betting services. Newsrooms are independent of this relationship and there is no influence on news coverage. This information is for entertainment purposes only. We make no representations or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of any content.





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U.S. Covid-19 travel restrictions state by state


By Megan Marples and Forrest Brown | CNN

Editor’s note: This story was updated in its entirety on May 7 and will be updated periodically. However, you should still check with the official state websites before you commit to travel plans.

    (CNN) — Total cases of Covid-19 have reached around the 32.6 million mark in the United States. Though some states continue to enforce travel restrictions and quarantines, in general more states have been moving toward looser restrictions or none at all in the past couple of months. The situation remain in flux, though.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still warns against nonessential travel at this time if you’re not fully vaccinated. If you do decide to travel to another state, it is vital that you stay updated on the latest statewide regulations on testing.

On April 2, the CDC released new guidance for domestic travelers who have been fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine. Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to self-quarantine, and they don’t need to test negative before or after their travels unless the destination requires it. States that still have travel restrictions may have exceptions for fully vaccinated travelers — check the details before you go.

Even if some US states have no restrictions on allowing leisure travel, all their official websites have important Covid-19 safety information. For instance, some states still have mandates on face masks in public settings.

This list is alphabetical and includes links to state websites that have important details you should read before you cross state lines:

Alabama

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Alabama. You can check here for updates.

Alaska

Visitors to Alaska are no longer required to have a negative result from a Covid-19 test to enter, though voluntary testing within 72 hours of arrival is still highly recommended. You’re requested to upload results to the Alaska Safe Travels portal. You can also test for free upon arrival. Fully vaccinated travelers are not asked to test or self-quarantine. Airport testing remains available. Starting June 1, all travelers to Alaska at participating airports will be able to get a free Covid-19 vaccine.

You can read this PDF file from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services on testing recommendations and procedures. More information: State of Alaska.

Arizona

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Arizona. Check here for updates. Here’s a direct link for information on Native American lands in the state. And you can click here to see the status of specific tourist sites.

Arkansas

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Arkansas. Check here for updates.

California

Almost all of California is open to out-of-state visitors again. People are encouraged but not required to self-quarantine upon entering the state. All restrictions except those on conventions of more than 5,000 people are expected to be lifted by June 15. Would-be visitors are advised by the state to call ahead for possible local restrictions, and you can click here to find out local travel information. You can check here for updates on California more generally.

Colorado

As of May 7, there were no travel restrictions in Colorado. You can check here for general updates about the state. You can click here for regional information about what’s open.

Connecticut

Connecticut no longer has travel restrictions. Covid-19 tests and quarantines are now just recommended but not required. Travelers are asked to follow CDC travel guidelines. Please check here for updates and details.

Delaware

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Delaware. Check here for updates.

Florida

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Florida. Check here for updates.

Georgia

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Georgia. Check here for updates.

Hawaii

Hawaii has had an evolving set of travel requirements. You should read them thoroughly before you plan a trip and check often for updates.

Travelers 5 and older who want to bypass the 10-day mandatory quarantine must have their negative Covid-19 test results — from a trusted testing partner — taken within 72 hours of the final leg of departure. You must upload your negative test result to the Safe Travels system before you leave or, as an alternative to uploading, bring a hard copy of a negative test result before boarding your flight. For more information, check here.

Idaho

As of May 7, there are no statewide travel restrictions in Idaho. Check here for updates.

Illinois

As of May 7, there were no statewide restrictions in Illinois, but visitors heading to Chicago have been placed in two categories — orange and yellow. People from an orange state must quarantine for 10 days unless they have a negative Covid-19 test result no more than 72 hours old or have been vaccinated and meet inoculation guidelines. Travelers coming from a yellow state do not need to quarantine or take a prearrival test, but they are asked to wear a mask and social distance.

Check here for more information before you travel to Chicago and see whether your state is orange or yellow. Check here for information on the rest of Illinois.

Indiana

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Indiana. Check here for updates.

Iowa

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Iowa. Anyone 2 and older is encouraged to wear a face covering in indoor public settings. Check here for updates and gathering restrictions.

Kansas

While mostly open, Kansas has some rather specific quarantine requirements based on previous travel destinations and when you went there. They are subject to frequent change. Check here for updates and more details.

Kentucky

Out-of-state leisure travel is discouraged unless you’re fully vaccinated, but Kentucky has no official travel restrictions. Read Kentucky’s travel advisory here.

Louisiana

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Louisiana. Check here for updates.

Maine

Visitors from all states are exempt from travel restrictions unless determined otherwise by the Maine CDC. Travelers must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival and fill out a travel protocol form if they are arriving from a nonexempt state. As of May 7, all states were exempt. Check here for updates.

Maryland

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Maryland. Travelers are still strongly encouraged to wear masks. Find out more at VisitMaryland guide.

Massachusetts

All visitors, including residents, are asked to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. Travelers who have a negative Covid-19 test up to 72 hours before arrival are exempt. Visitors may also test once they arrive in the state, but are asked to quarantine until they receive a negative result. For more exemptions and updates, check here.

Michigan

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Michigan. Check here for updates.

Minnesota

As of May 7, there were no official statewide travel restrictions in Minnesota. Find out more: Explore Minnesota | Minnesota Department of Health.

Mississippi

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Mississippi. Check here for updates.

Missouri

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Missouri. Check here for updates.

Montana

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Montana. Travel restrictions might vary at Native American reservations. Please check here for updates.

Nebraska

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Nebraska. International travelers have Covid-19 testing and quarantining requirements, which can be found here.

Nevada

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Nevada. Check here for updates.

New Hampshire

Domestic visitors to New Hampshire no longer need to quarantine or take a Covid-19 test to travel to New Hampshire, but it is still recommended to get tested three to five days after arrival. However, people who have had traveled internationally within 10 days of arriving in New Hampshire or have been on a cruise ship do need to follow testing and quarantine protocols unless they meet certain exceptions. Check here for important details.

New Jersey

Unvaccinated travelers from anywhere other than New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware should self-quarantine at their home, hotel or other temporary lodging with the following in mind:

— If travel is unavoidable, you should consider getting tested with a viral test (not an antibody test) one to three days before the trip and again three to five days afterward.
— If you test negative, you should quarantine for seven days after travel. If testing is not available or results are delayed, you should quarantine for 10 days after travel.
— You’re requested to fill out a voluntary online survey.

Fully vaccinated people or people who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past three months are exempt from precautions. Please click here for details and updates.

New Mexico

People traveling from out-of-state are recommended to self-quarantine for 10 days or the length of their stay in New Mexico, whichever is shorter. Exemptions from low-risk states are allowed, but currently, only Hawaii is deemed low risk. Check here for updates.

New York

As of April 10, the quarantine protocols for asymptomatic domestic and international travelers to New York were lifted. People are still asked to fill out a New York state traveler heath form unless coming from a bordering state. You can check here for crucial details.

North Carolina

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in North Carolina. Check here for updates and details.

North Dakota

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in North Dakota. Check here for updates.

Ohio

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Ohio. The state encourages travelers to follow CDC guidance. Check here for details.

Oklahoma

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Oklahoma. Check here for updates.

Oregon

People arriving in Oregon from other states or countries, including returning Oregon residents, are encouraged to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. Nonessential travel, which includes tourism, is discouraged. Check here for updates and details as well as exemption requirements. Oregon also has a county-by-county risk assessment map you can check before you travel.

Pennsylvania

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Pennsylvania. Check here for updates.

Puerto Rico

To visit this US commonwealth, you need a negative result from a Covid-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours before arrival. If you come without a test result, you must self-quarantine for 14 days or the duration of the trip, whichever is shorter. You must also fill out an online travel declaration form. Please check here for details and updates.

Rhode Island

UPDATE: Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to quarantine if it’s been at least 14 days since your final vaccine, and you have not showed symptoms of Covid-19 before traveling to Rhode Island.

Unvaccinated international travelers must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. Quarantine time can be shortened to seven days if you receive a negative Covid-19 test at least five days after you’ve arrived.

Unvaccinated domestic travelers must quarantine for 10 days upon arrival or show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival if coming from a state considered a “hot spot.” Click here for that list, last updated May 3. You can check here for updates.

South Carolina

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in South Carolina. Check here for updates.

South Dakota

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in South Dakota. Some routes through Native American lands might be closed. Check here for updates.

Tennessee

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Tennessee. Check here for updates.

Texas

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Texas. Check here for updates.

Utah

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Utah, though there is a statewide mask mandate. Check here for updates.

Vermont

Vermont has issued updated travel guidance for its phased reopening. Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to test or quarantine. Unvaccinated people must get a PCR test for Covid-19 taken no more than three days upon arrival. If the result is negative, no quarantine is required. There is additional guidance for international travelers and returning residents. Check here for updates.

Virginia

As of May 7, there were no statewide travel restrictions in Virginia. The state suggests getting tested one to three days before travel and again three to five days after you return. Check here for updates.

Washington, DC

Visitors are asked to get a test within 72 hours of traveling, and if the test is positive, don’t travel. A PCR test is preferred over antigen test. If you’re visiting DC for more than three days, you are asked to limit activities until you get a second test three to five days after your arrival. If that result is negative, you can expand what you do. There are notable exceptions that don’t require testing:

— If you have been fully vaccinated within 90 days and do not have Covid-19 symptoms.

— If you have tested positive for Covid-19 within the past 90 days and don’t have symptoms now.

— If you’re from a list of states that’s updated periodically.

Check here for that list, updates and important details. And you can click here for the status of tourist-oriented sites.

Washington state



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6 Beautiful Lake Towns In Minnesota


Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes. If you enjoy fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, or hanging out on a beach, the lakes of Minnesota are for you. Several beautiful lake towns are surrounding all of them. I have always enjoyed spending a day on a Minnesota lake and ending the day in a charming town.

Each of these towns offers something unique to the area as well as some old-time favorites such as a slice of homemade pie. Summer is the most popular time of year for visitors. Minnesota offers four seasons, which means you can visit four different times during the year for a different experience. These are some of my favorite beautiful Minnesota lake towns, and I hope you will consider planning a visit to some of them. 

1. Albert Lea

A fun lake town that is a short drive to the North of my hometown of Mason City, Iowa, is Albert Lea, Minnesota. It is in South Central Minnesota and is home to Albert Lea Lake and Fountain Lake. The town is right off of I-35, making it easy to find. I have enjoyed the views on the lake when hopping on board the Pelican Breeze. This boat ride is a fantastic way to view the lake and its surroundings. 

In case you were curious, some pelicans live on and around the lake during the warmer months of the year. You will want to make time to stroll around the lake for an opportunity to relax and enjoy nature. I enjoy walking downtown during the thick of the summer. The colorful flower pots are bursting with color that lines the streets, and the warm sun feels terrific. Pack a picnic lunch, place a blanket on the ground, and enjoy the view of one of these lakes. If you want to spend a few nights in Albert Lea, book a stay with a home through Vrbo, there are several to choose from in Albert Lea.

Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji.
LaNae Christenson / Shutterstock.com

2. Bemidji

Bemidji, Minnesota, is the first town on the Mississippi River, and it’s home to Paul Bunyan and his famous Blue Ox, Babe. As a young girl who liked to talk, I can recall having a conversation with Paul Bunyan. This lake town is a lake lover’s paradise come true. With numerous lakes nearby, you can fish in several separate locations in one day. Lake Bemidji, Lake Irving, Big Wolf Lake, and Lake Plantagenet are all within a short distance of Bemidji. Paul Bunyan Drive is home to several restaurants, including chains and family-owned.

Antique enthusiasts will enjoy Bemidji, as there are several fun places to look for a treasure, including Grandma’s Attic Antique Mall. With 5,000 square feet of space and approximately 30 antique vendors, you can stroll through here for hours on end. If you’re looking for a souvenir, 218 Clothing & Gift Shop offers Minnesota-themed souvenirs and trendy home decorations for you to take home with you. The perfect way to end your day is to sit by the lake and enjoy the sunset. Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge offers the view and a Minnesota lake experience that you will remember for years.

3. Walker

Walker, Minnesota, is in the middle of lake country. It is a home base for many who visit and explore Leech Lake. If you enjoy fishing for Northern Pike and Lake Perch, this is your lake. You may even snag a walleye or two. Portage Brewing Company is a popular stop when visiting Walker. Hang out on the deck and enjoy a beer or two from the local pub. There’s nothing like hanging out on the deck with a beer in hand after a day of exploring the lake. Walk Main Street and visit the shops and restaurants on a summer day. This small town grows throughout the summer seasons as visitors flock to the lake.

A must-experience when in Walker is a stop at the Christmas Point Wild Rice Co. You can shop for rice, chocolate, soups, and all sorts of fun gifts and home furnishings. Indulge in a Tuscan turkey melt smothered in caramelized onion; you will be glad you ordered off of the menu. The menu also includes other sandwiches, soups, wraps, and lighter fares, including coffee. For a night on the lake, book a stay at The Walker Hotel. The location of this property places you within walking distance of the downtown area, making it a top choice for a place to lay your head in Walker.

The lake in Brainerd, Minnesota.
Stephen Reeves / Shutterstock.com

4. Brainerd

Brainerd, Minnesota, is known for its fishing, biking trails, golf courses, shopping, and more. This Central Minnesota town is surrounded by hundreds of lakes, including the Gull Lake Chain and Mille Lacs Lake. Many people come to Brainerd to enjoy the lake, but the charming town of Brainerd offers experiences that you will enjoy. For a good old-fashioned home-cooked meal, I would suggest that you visit The Barn. My suggestion would be to enjoy a slice of your favorite pie. 

The historic downtown area allows you to experience several types of foods, drinks, and artistic experiences. If you enjoy delicious chocolates, you will want to spend some time at Fancy Pants Chocolates. If you are not a chocolate fan, you will want to note that they offer ice cream and soda floats. As you stroll through the historic downtown area of Brainerd, look up to see the incredible architecture that makes up this area of town. The older buildings in Brainerd add charm to the town and offer you an opportunity to unwind. Lum Lark RV Campground in Brainerd offers level campsites with free Wi-Fi, including sites that average 40 feet by 55 feet in size. 

Beautiful foliage in Willmar, MN.
BrookeWharem / Shutterstock.com

5. Willmar

Willmar, Minnesota, makes up part of the popular Willmar Lakes area in Central Minnesota. This area includes more than 300 lakes and offers an incredible art scene and historical attractions. The Becker Market sources fresh, locally-based foods from vendors in the area. Enjoy a cup of your favorite coffee at The Goodness Coffee House. This coffee house is the ideal place to get a feel for the community and meet some of the locals. Their Italian sodas are the perfect solution for cooling off on a hot summer day. There’s a common thread with all of these charming lake towns; most of them have a unique chocolate shop. Mr. B’s Chocolates is out of Wilmar and also offers online ordering. 

The art scene continues to thrive in Willmar through the Willmar Area Arts Council. Look for the art benches that are scattered throughout the town. Take a stroll around town and see how many of them you can find. There is one decorative bench in front of the Willmar Public Library, one in front of the Barn Theater, another in front of Rositta’s, one in front of the Midtown Market, and another in front of the Health and Human Services Building. The Lakeview Inn offers affordable and clean lodging near the heart of everything. 

Sunset at Crosslake, Minnesota.
Jessica Kaplan / Shutterstock.com

6. Crosslake

With more than 14 interconnected lakes of the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, outdoor enthusiasts will not find themselves bored in Crosslake, Minnesota. After a long day of fun in the outdoors, unwind in the shops and restaurants in the charming town of Crosslake. Pine Peaks Restaurant & Gifts offers home decor and clothing that you will want to take back home with you. And in case you need lodging, they also offer accommodations at Pine Peaks Lodge and Suites. A fun place to visit is Kicks on Route 66, an artisan venue that features restored and refurbished furniture for purchase. You can also create your masterpiece by enrolling in one of their arts and craft classes

The town of Crosslake is known for being helpful and rolling out the red carpet for its visitors no matter where you go, including restaurants, boutiques, specialty shops, or the local hardware store. The folks in town will be ready to help you feel welcome. Crosslake is known for the best St. Patrick’s Day Celebration and Parade in the state of Minnesota. As with any charming town in Minnesota, you can plan to visit all year long with a different experience. The seasons change, and the events and festivals change along with them. Kick back and enjoy Crosslake. If you find yourself longing to hold a fishing pole, buy one with a fishing license in a local shop, and find a quiet place to toss your line into one of the surrounding lakes.

All six of these charming towns in Minnesota have something unique to offer. Put on a good pair of walking shoes and hit the pavement in these towns. The historic sites and incredible architecture will leave your jaw dropped at times. If you enjoy birding, be sure to have a good pair of binoculars on hand at all times. After all, you never know when that famous Minnesota Loon will show up floating on the lake. Minnesota is known for mosquitoes, be prepared and have bug spray with you at all times. Dress in layers and enjoy yourself as you slow down and enjoy the charm that these Minnesota towns have to offer. 

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What COVID-era travel changes are likely here to stay?


(NerdWallet) – The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way the world works, eats, communicates and, yes, how it travels. Over the course of the last year, we’ve seen a myriad of changes in the travel industry, from in-flight meal service adjustments to the outright banning of travel to certain regions, and everything in between.

Even as the vaccine rollout continues in the U.S. and around the world, the travel experience you knew in 2019 won’t be the travel experience you encounter in 2021.

But the question now is: Which of these changes are simply pandemic-era sidesteps and which will stay around for good? As our travel writers survey the landscape of the travel world, here’s what they think will stick and not go back to pre-pandemic “normal.”ADVERTISING

Sally: Workcations

Workcations caught on during the pandemic due to the boom in remote work, and they likely won’t go away. The premise is simple: Book accomodations for longer than usual, but still work eight hours in your (virtual) office. Instead of a long-weekend tropical beach trip, you spend two weeks there.

You get to wake up to a sunny coastline. Rather than taking your dog on a mundane morning walk around the neighborhood, you’re now strolling in a warm sun and ocean breeze. Plus, you have two full weekends of enjoying the beach and general out-of-the-house relaxing — not to mention free evenings once you close your laptop for the day.

And you won’t even have to burn any vacation days. The rental house has Wi-Fi, so you’ll be able to videoconference and submit your digital assignments as usual.

It sounds all good, right? In many ways, it is: new scenery, the opportunity to try dozens of new restaurants, going through a larger percentage of your trip without jet lag. But it’s not necessarily all good. If you can work one day of your vacation, why not every day?

Too many vacation days already go unused. According to 2019 research from the U.S. Travel Association, Oxford Economics and Ipsos, though employees earned an average of 23.9 days of paid time off in 2018, more than a quarter (27.2%) of them went unused — up from 25.9% in 2017.

A year of remote work showed us how feasible a workcation can be, but as that trend likely sticks, potentially even more vacation days will go unused.

While more days away from home could certainly be good, workcations can rob you of the benefits of fully unplugging, engaging and relaxing. It might be harder to enjoy the local delicacy on your breakfast plate if you’re also thinking about the tasks on your work plate.

Sam: Business travel decline

Business travel has always been a kind of weird idea. Do those well-dressed executives in first class really need to shuttle themselves around the world when a conference call could solve the same problem? The pandemic helped answer this question: Nope.

Granted, some professions require in-person interaction, but the vast majority does not. And as organizations reassess their budgets in 2022 and beyond, they might very well ask themselves, “Why were we spending so much on travel?” Business travel will certainly bounce back somewhat from its midpandemic nadir, but it will never be the same.

What will this mean for nonbusiness travelers? A lot, actually. Fewer business travelers mean less demand for popular air routes and downtown hotels. The first can be addressed by airlines reducing capacity on those routes, but the latter? Hotels built to house a steady stream of business travelers may remain below capacity for years.

Fewer business travelers also mean less competition for elite status and premium cabin upgrades. This shift could make it easier to snag these seats for leisure travelers with status or who book with points or miles.

Of course, institutional inertia is strong, and business travel could come roaring back once vaccines are widely distributed. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Elina: Airplane cleanliness standards

Before the pandemic, disparaging comments about airplane hygiene were commonplace. “Don’t drink the tea or coffee on airplanes.” “Tray tables are the dirtiest part of the plane.” And more.

However, as a result of COVID-19, airlines have implemented stringent cleanliness standards on aircrafts to assuage passenger worries about flying during the pandemic.

For example, United is providing hand sanitizer wipes to customers, along with requiring all crew and passengers over age 2 to wear a mask. The airline is disinfecting high-touch areas (like tray tables and armrests) more frequently to ensure cleaning standards meet or exceed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s also using HEPA filters during the flight, among other efforts in cleanliness.

Delta is using antimicrobial lighting, electrostatic spraying and setting up hand sanitizer stations, in addition to many of the same processes as United.

Although masks may become voluntary once the pandemic is more under control, the stringent hygiene standards that airlines have adopted are likely here to stay. It seems like now more than ever, these companies need to be known for maintaining the highest level of sanitation and safety on board.

The bottom line

A lot has changed, and we’ll likely see more changes to the travel industry as 2021 progresses. Vaccine passports, the need for booster shots or other alterations remain a distinct possibility. If you want to be a savvy traveler during the COVID-19 era, be flexible, patient and — most importantly — safe.

The article What COVID-Era Travel Changes Are Likely Here to Stay? originally appeared on NerdWallet.



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11 Best Staycation Ideas When You Can’t Travel




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