Nearly 50% of Americans Want to Space Travel But Only 19% Would Shell Out $100,000 To Do So According to a ValuePenguin.com Survey


NEW YORK, Oct. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — As space travel and space tourism continues to make headlines and more civilians vie for seats on the next launch, many Americans have strong feelings about going to space. 

According to a ValuePenguin survey of over 2,000 consumers, almost half want to go to space and some would even go into debt to do so; however, others think space tourism may not be ethical. 

Key findings:

  • 49% of Americans want to travel to space. Men are more interested in space travel than women (56% versus 44%), while interest in space tourism decreases with age (63% of Gen Zers versus 38% for baby boomers).
  • 28% of both men and Gen Zers would choose a free trip to space over being debt-free. Among all consumers, 23% opted for a trip to space rather than the ability to wipe out their debt.
  • Reality check: Of those consumers who want to travel to space, just 19% would shell out $100,000 or more to make it happen — and even that might not be enough. Seats on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo are estimated to start at a whopping $250,000 per person.
  • 60% of Americans agree that space travel should be accessible for everyone, not just those who can afford the exorbitant costs. On a similar note, 41% don’t think billionaires should be spending so much money on space travel.
  • About 1 in 4 (24%) don’t think space tourism is ethical. For example, some scientists fear that frequent space travel could give way to climate change, harming the environment through a high rate of emissions-per-passenger, as well as soot released by the rockets.

View full report: https://www.valuepenguin.com/travel/americans-space-travel

About ValuePenguin.com: ValuePenguin.com, part of LendingTree (NASDAQ: TREE), is a personal finance website that conducts in-depth research and provides objective analysis to help guide consumers to the best financial decisions. ValuePenguin focuses on value, assessing whether the return of a particular decision is worth the cost or risk of that option, and how this stacks up with the other possible choices they may have. For more information, please visit www.valuepenguin.com, like our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter @ValuePenguin.

Media Contact:
Nadia Gonzalez 
[email protected]

SOURCE ValuePenguin.com



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Delta’s Domestic Corp. Travel Recovery Nears 50 Percent Mark


Delta Air Lines’ corporate travel volume in recent weeks has grown to its highest point during the Covid-19 pandemic recovery, with domestic business travel volume last week nearing 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels, CEO Ed Bastian said Wednesday in Delta’s third-quarter earnings call.

For the overall third quarter, domestic corporate travel volumes were about 40 percent recovered, which is 10 percentage points higher than their recovery rate in the second quarter, Bastian said. While corporate travel recovery “paused” in August and early September while Covid-19 case counts grew with the spread of the delta variant, spurring many companies to delay return-to-office plans, demand since Labor Day once again has picked up, he said.

Delta’s most recent survey of its corporate customers indicated that 90 percent expect their travel volumes in the fourth quarter to be equal to or higher than third-quarter levels, according to Bastian. About 60 percent of Delta’s corporate customers said they have reopened their offices, and an additional 10 percent said they would do so before the end of 2021.

“We anticipate meaningful acceleration in business travel starting at that point,” Bastian said. “We hear regularly from our corporate customers that they’re ready to get back to travel, see their clients face-to-face, renew business relationships and develop new ones.”

Business travel volumes from unmanaged programs are running five to 10 percentage points ahead of managed programs, with “smaller, hungrier companies out there hitting the road sooner than some of the bigger multinationals,” Delta president Glen Hauenstein said.

International business travel also is showing signs of recovery, he said. In the second and third quarter, corporate travel to Europe was running at about 15 percent of pre-pandemic levels, but that has improved to 30 percent in recent weeks with the news that the U.S. will open to vaccinated foreign visitors next month. Long-haul travel to South America, previously “pretty much nonexistent,” also has started to recover, and the Pacific region could be next in line, according to Hauenstein.

“We are expecting those to improve significantly … as the vaccination rates in important places for us like Korea and Japan are now approaching between 70 percent and 80 percent,” he said. “Hopefully, we get some good news out of that region of the world starting in the next few months.”

Domestic leisure travel, meanwhile, has made a “full return” to 2019 levels, Bastian said. Delta’s passenger revenue for the third quarter was $7.2 billion, 37 percent of 2019 levels, and total third-quarter operating revenue was 27 percent of 2019 levels, boosted by a 39 percent increase in cargo revenue compared with 2019.

Delta executives noted that premium travel revenues have been strong even with the lower rates of business travel and indicated that Delta would look to increase premium seating capacity in the future.

“We’re selling [premium seats] 10 points higher than we did pre-pandemic,” Bastian said. “We always ran relatively full in terms of load factor, but a lot of those are complimentary upgrades, and we’re seeing people are willing to pay us for those seats. That’s why we want to create more over time.”

Delta reported net income of $1.2 billion for the third quarter, which included the benefits from federal aid due to the pandemic. Excluding that and other special items, Delta still reported net income of $194 million for the quarter, its first such profitable quarter since the pandemic began.

Bastian said he expected the carrier would see a “modest loss” in the fourth quarter due to rising fuel prices.

RELATED: Delta Q2 earnings



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Some Original Staffers Say They’re Still Happy To Work At Disney World After 50 Years : NPR


Celebrating 50 years as original employees of Walt Disney World are (from left) Chuck Milam, Earliene Anderson and Forrest Bahruth.

John Raoux/AP


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John Raoux/AP


Celebrating 50 years as original employees of Walt Disney World are (from left) Chuck Milam, Earliene Anderson and Forrest Bahruth.

John Raoux/AP

ORLANDO, Fla. — Applying to be one of the first workers at Walt Disney World, high school graduate George Kalogridis made a split-second decision that set the course for his life: he picked a room where prospective hotel workers were being hired.

Chuck Milam got a tip about a job opening from a transplanted Disney executive whose new house he was landscaping. Earliene Anderson jumped at the chance to take a job at the new Disney theme park in Florida, having fallen in love with the beauty of Disneyland in California during a trip two years earlier.

At the time, the three were among the 6,000 employees who opened the Magic Kingdom at Disney World to the public for the first time on Oct. 1, 1971. Now, they are among two dozen from that first day still employed at the theme park resort as it celebrates its 50th anniversary on Friday.

Over those decades, Disney World added three more theme parks, two dozen additional hotels and grew to have a workforce of 77,000 employees as it helped Orlando become the most visited place in the U.S. before the pandemic.

What never changed was the original employees’ devotion to the pixie dust, the dream machine created by Walt Disney and his Imagineers.

A Disney representative presents the three with special 50th anniversary name tags.

John Raoux/AP


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John Raoux/AP


A Disney representative presents the three with special 50th anniversary name tags.

John Raoux/AP

“Disney has been my love, and it still is,” Anderson said recently before starting her shift in merchandising at a Magic Kingdom hotel. “I love Disney.”

The employees who make up the 50-year club say the theme park resort has allowed them to grow their careers and try on new hats. Kalogridis worked his way up to be president of Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California. Milam went from a warehouse worker to a buyer of spare parts for rides and shows.

Forrest Bahruth joined the workforce at Disney World in January 1971 as a show director, responsible for staging and choreographing parades and shows. He was also given the opportunity to help open other Disney theme parks around the world over the past five decades.

“There are people all over the world who get up to go work. They’re unhappy about it. They don’t really like their jobs,” Bahruth said. “As you can tell from us, there’s an enthusiasm. We are privileged to be at a place where we love what we do.”

Some Disney World history

There was no guarantee that Disney World was going to be a success 50 years ago. Walt Disney, the pioneering animator and entrepreneur whose name graces the Florida resort, had died in 1966, just a year after announcing plans for “the East Coast Disneyland.” The company had quietly acquired 27,000 acres (11,000 hectares) of scrub land outside Orlando for around $5 million via secret land purchases using fake names and shell companies.

The job of shepherding the project to Opening Day fell to his brother, Roy Disney, who with other company officials convinced the Florida Legislature to create a quasi-governmental agency that would allow Disney to self-govern when it came to matters of infrastructure and planning. Roy died almost three months after Disney World opened.

Just weeks before opening, construction at the Magic Kingdom was controlled chaos, and it seemed impossible that it would all come together in time.

“It was like an army of ants. Everything was under construction. Interiors were still being put in. Roofing was still being put on top,” Bahruth said. “There was painting, landscaping. Things were arriving by the moment. It was like trucks going everywhere.”

Bahruth rehearsed performers through parade choreography down Main Street, which cut through the center of the Magic Kingdom and resembled a turn-of-the-century small town from Walt Disney’s childhood. Even though he was a busser, Kalogridis was drafted into laying down sod outside the hotel he was working in, hours before Disney World’s grand opening.

Memories of opening day

Two things have stuck in the memories of the longtime employees from that opening day. The first was the photo. It was an image of thousands of Disney World workers standing in front of the iconic Cinderella Castle with Mickey Mouse and other costumed characters holding hands in front. Two weeks later, it was featured on the cover of Life magazine.

“They brought all the characters up, staged them first, and then they tried to keep all the different workers together based on the color of their costumes,” Milam said. “If you were from Fantasyland and in yellow, you would go over there.”

The second was the parade. It featured a 1,076-member marching band conducted by Meredith Wilson, the composer of the Broadway show, “The Music Man.” There were 4,000 Disney entertainers marching through the theme park, a mass choir and trumpeters from the United States Army Band. Hundreds of white doves were released into the air, and less environmentally friendly, so were thousands of multi-colored balloons.

“It was the biggest thing I had ever seen,” Bahruth said.

Only around 10,000 visitors showed up on that first day — which at today’s much larger Walt Disney World would represent about 90 minutes’ worth of visitors entering. It wouldn’t be until Thanksgiving 1971, almost three months later, when Disney executives had an answer about whether their new resort would be a success; that’s when cars trying to get into the Magic Kingdom stretched for miles down the interstate.

“It was very clear after that first Thanksgiving, that the public definitely liked what we were doing,” Kalogridis said. “That first Thanksgiving, that was the moment.”



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Disney World opened 50 years ago; these workers never left


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Applying to be one of the first workers at Walt Disney World, high school graduate George Kalogridis made a split-second decision that set the course for his life: he picked a room where prospective hotel workers were being hired.

Chuck Milam got a tip about a job opening from a transplanted Disney executive whose new house he was landscaping. Earliene Anderson jumped at the chance to take a job at the new Disney theme park in Florida, having fallen in love with the beauty of Disneyland in California during a trip two years earlier.

At the time, the three were among the 6,000 employees who opened the Magic Kingdom at Disney World to the public for the first time on Oct. 1, 1971. Now, they are among two dozen from that first day still employed at the theme park resort as it celebrates its 50th anniversary on Friday.

Over those decades, Disney World added three more theme parks, two dozen additional hotels and grew to have a workforce of 77,000 employees as it helped Orlando become the most visited place in the U.S. before the pandemic.

What never changed was the original employees’ devotion to the pixie dust, the dream machine created by Walt Disney and his Imagineers.

“Disney has been my love, and it still is,” Anderson said recently before starting her shift in merchandising at a Magic Kingdom hotel. “I love Disney.”

The employees who make up the 50-year club say the theme park resort has allowed them to grow their careers and try on new hats. Kalogridis worked his way up to be president of Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California. Milam went from a warehouse worker to a buyer of spare parts for rides and shows.

Forrest Bahruth joined the workforce at Disney World in January 1971 as a show director, responsible for staging and choreographing parades and shows. He was also given the opportunity to help open other Disney theme parks around the world over the past five decades.

“There are people all over the world who get up to go work. They’re unhappy about it. They don’t really like their jobs,” Bahruth said. “As you can tell from us, there’s an enthusiasm. We are privileged to be at a place where we love what we do.”

There was no guarantee that Disney World was going to be a success 50 years ago. Walt Disney, the pioneering animator and entrepreneur whose name graces the Florida resort, had died in 1966, just a year after announcing plans for “the East Coast Disneyland.” The company had quietly acquired 27,000 acres (11,000 hectares) of scrub land outside Orlando for around $5 million via secret land purchases using fake names and shell companies.

The job of shepherding the project to Opening Day fell to his brother, Roy Disney, who with other company officials convinced the Florida Legislature to create a quasi-governmental agency that would allow Disney to self-govern when it came to matters of infrastructure and planning. Roy died almost three months after Disney World opened.

Just weeks before opening, construction at the Magic Kingdom was controlled chaos, and it seemed impossible that it would all come together in time.

“It was like an army of ants. Everything was under construction. Interiors were still being put in. Roofing was still being put on top,” Bahruth said. “There was painting, landscaping. Things were arriving by the moment. It was like trucks going everywhere.”

Bahruth rehearsed performers through parade choreography down Main Street, which cut through the center of the Magic Kingdom and resembled a turn-of-the-century small town from Walt Disney’s childhood. Even though he was a busser, Kalogridis was drafted into laying down sod outside the hotel he was working in, hours before Disney World’s grand opening.

Two things have stuck in the memories of the longtime employees from that opening day. The first was the photo. It was an image of thousands of Disney World workers standing in front of the iconic Cinderella’s Castle with Mickey Mouse and other costumed characters holding hands in front. Two weeks later, it was featured on the cover of Life magazine.

“They brought all the characters up, staged them first, and then they tried to keep all the different workers together based on the color of their costumes,” Milam said. “If you were from Fantasyland and in yellow, you would go over there.”

The second was the parade. It featured a 1,076-member marching band conducted by Meredith Wilson, the composer of the Broadway show, “The Music Man.” There were 4,000 Disney entertainers marching through the theme park, a mass choir and trumpeters from the United States Army Band. Hundreds of white doves were released into the air, and less environmentally friendly, so were thousands of multi-colored balloons.

“It was the biggest thing I had ever seen,” Bahruth said.

Only around 10,000 visitors showed up on that first day — which at today’s much larger Walt Disney World would represent about 90 minutes’ worth of visitors entering. It wouldn’t be until Thanksgiving 1971, almost three months later, when Disney executives had an answer about whether their new resort would be a success; that’s when cars trying to get into the Magic Kingdom stretched for miles down the interstate.

“It was very clear after that first Thanksgiving, that the public definitely liked what we were doing,” Kalogridis said. “That first Thanksgiving, that was the moment.”

___

Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP





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50 Travel Tips Experts Swear By




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7 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Turned 50


TravelAwaits’ editors are proud to curate the stories and insights of inspirational women who live, work, and travel all over the world. From RVing Alaska to living on a cattle ranch in the Zambian bush, our women writers represent beautiful and thrilling diversity. And they have something in common: They’re over 50.

In 2004, the blockbuster 13 Going on 30 gave us “Thirty and flirty and thriving” (thank you, young Jenna Rink/Jennifer Garner), and one of my favorite fashion influencers, Aeberhard Stutz (a New Zealander based in Zurich) of FunkyForty has built an entire brand — and magazine — around the conviction that, “After all, 40 something is still young!”

But thinking about our 50s? For many of us, that invites the M word — menopause — out of the shadows and into our conscious minds. And it can come with a slew of misconceptions and fears. Lucky for us, and our readers, in addition to being inspired by our adventurous women writers on the daily, we’ve also partnered with women-led intimacy product company Kindra to spark real, unabridged conversations around menopause.

Last month, we explored the surprising mental signs of menopause from trouble sleeping to forgetfulness. This month, some of our 50+ contributors are sharing the things they wish they’d known about menopause before turning 50. Prepare to be surprised, delighted, and educated by their insights.

Group Of Mature Female Friends Walking Along Path Through Yurt Campsite
Image: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock

1. Let Go Of What Other People Think

Cindy Ladage of Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl is a regular TravelAwaits contributor who’s shared advice on topics from her all-time favorite bakeries in Illinois to tips for visiting a flea market for the first time.

What she wishes she’d known before turning 50: to let go of what other people think. “There are so many decisions that women make based on what they think they should do rather than what they want to do. While of course duty demands we make some decisions based on love or just plain necessity, if we throw out the worry of public opinion, I think of how much happier we would be at a younger age. Growing older is a freeing thing because many of us allow ourselves to be who we want to be.”

Want to experience that 50+ freedom Cindy’s referring to? Check out Kindra’s Navigating Stress and Managing Moods in Menopause blog post and shop The Core Dietary Supplement, which contains Pycnogenol® and ashwagandha to support mental clarity, skin suppleness, healthy circulation, stress reduction, and your libido!

2. Don’t Count Yourself Out

Ann Marie McQueen, a Canadian journalist, moved to the United Arab Emirates in 2008 to help launch The National newspaper in Abu Dhabi. She never thought she’d stay this long, but she loves “living in the middle of the world in a country that is host to more than 200 nationalities.”

She’s traveled to over 40 countries since relocating, and in addition to freelancing, she’s launched hotflash inc, a platform about getting older and going through menopause.

Ann Marie’s birthday is just a few days away. “I turn 51 on May 28,” she told us, “and could not be more excited about my life. It’s not perfect of course. But I have a real purpose with hotflash inc, which I am building into my own business, and I have dealt with a lot of the trauma and poor coping mechanisms that held me back when I was young. I’m not through menopause yet, but I already feel a real freedom and it’s amazing. All the older women I meet tell me it only gets better, which is why my tagline is ‘This is going somewhere good.’”

She also shared, “What I wish I’d known before I was 50 (and much much earlier) is not to count myself out: from the guy, from the job, from the thing that’s in your heart that you want to do.”

“One more thing I’d like my younger self to know: Don’t stuff down your feelings. It won’t kill you to sit through some tough emotions; it will make you more honest, stronger, and, when you learn how, dramatically reduce the anxiety you are feeling.”

Not sure where you are in your journey toward, through, or beyond menopause? Take Kindra’s Hormone Assessment Quiz.

Want to be ready for anything — from the guy to the job to that thing on your heart that you really want to do, as Ann Marie puts it? Consider Kindra’s Ready for Anything Bundle, which includes Pycnogenol®, vitamin E, coconut oil, and green tea leaf extract in The Daily Vaginal Lotion, plus medical grade silicone, easy grip The Aurora Applicator, and their Energy Boosting Dietary Supplement.

Best friends in summer on the beach girls
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

3. “Your Mom Wasn’t Crazy”

“And you’re not, either,” author Kimberly King told us. She was talking about hot flashes.

“Don’t laugh at people with hot flashes! They are real! And they are impossible to control. So don’t stare or joke if you see one happening! And if you get one yourself, breathe and remember it is just part of this uncomfortable process. You are not alone and it will pass! They always do!”

Elizabeth Green, a 72-year-old, British-born author and entrepreneur who now calls New York City home (and recently participated in a Juicy Mountain Rustic Health Retreat in Turkey) seconded that. “I’ve lived on three continents, but thank God during menopause I was at home in my own bed. Now you’ve got me wondering how do women in such a hot place as India, where I lived for two years, deal with the sweats and hot flushes!”

Senior woman doing yoga exercises with beautiful mountain view on the background
Image: kudla, Shutterstock

4. Cool Down And Warm Up With These Tips

Beyond espousing hot flash empathy, Kimberly told us she’s 51 and “right in the menopause thick of it!”

She still loves to travel, and as a retired navy wife, she’s traveled all over the world. Before the pandemic, she enjoyed a wonderful trip to Rome with her daughter, and her “absolute favorite destination” is Nicaragua, where she participated in a yoga retreat and stayed at luxurious TreeCasa resort.

At home and during her travels, she recommends breathing techniques — “Taking a few simple ocean breaths can really calm you down” — and hot yoga.

This might sound counterintuitive (considering the hot flashes!), but Kimberly told us in her experience, it “helps stimulate endorphins and helps you maintain a general well-balanced feeling. And it is global! You can take a class anywhere if you need your chill back.”

Not interested in hot yoga? That’s okay. Michelle Davies, professional life coach and co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Best Ever Guide To Life, says regular physical activity is key and advises choosing activities that best suit your lifestyle and fitness level. “Due to change in hormone levels, menopausal women tend to lose muscle mass and gain fat in the midsection. That’s why it’s important to keep the physical activity going, especially when approaching 50. Not only will it help keep off extra weight, it’ll do a lot in regulating overall mood thanks to a boost in feel-good hormones.”

Sleep better and wake up ready for the day’s activities (hot yoga or otherwise!) with Kindra’s Day-to-Night Booster Bundle.

older woman relaxing on a hammock in a tropical destination
Image: Quinn Martin, Shutterstock

5. Nurture Yourself At Every Opportunity

Michelle also said women need to embrace self-care during and after menopause. “At this point, the kids have probably grown up or you may have already gone past the hectic years of building your career. So now’s the time to be a little more selfish. You now have the luxury of being more laid-back and spending more time exploring things you love and enjoy. Take time to travel to new places or pick up a new hobby.”

For Cindy Maricle, essential oil enthusiast and women’s health advocate, that’s meant saying yes to spontaneous travel invitations, including a recent impromptu week in Maui, and Michelle said she’s incorporated more self-care practices since she has more time to herself. “I took to journaling and meditation. I also spend a lot of time hiking and exploring the great outdoors.”

Cindy told us she wished she would’ve known to listen to her body and pivot faster before going through menopause.

Now she nurtures herself at every opportunity — “soaking in an aromatherapy bath or sipping a refreshing cold sparkling drink.”

“If I’m going to be pampered, it’s up to me,” she said, “and, I deserve it!”

6. Expect Itchy Skin

For Cindy, pampering means simple, inexpensive-yet-luxurious ways of treating herself and her girlfriends, including home spa experiences like lavender steam facials, foot soaks, and deep cleansing masks. Obviously, a lot of these menopause self-care regimens are skin-focused, which makes sense considering the hormonal shifts and skin changes menopause entails.

Cindy said she focuses on supporting her skin naturally by staying well hydrated and supplementing with collagen, natural progesterone, and superfoods.

Curiosity piqued? See Kindra’s guide to hydrating from the inside out plus their skin-friendly supplement advice here, and know that, according to Kimberly, keeping your body hydrated by drinking plenty of water and using hydrating lotion can save you time at the doctor because you probably don’t have poison ivy. In her experience, “itchy skin is one of those strange side effects of menopause.”

Group Of Mature Female Friends On Outdoor Yoga Retreat Walking Along Path Through Campsite
Image: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock

7. This Is When Life Begins!

Singer-songwriter Belinda Fraley Huesman calls herself The Menopause Outlaw, and she’s aiming to “write” the wrong of ageism through the power of story and song.

She told us turning 50 is when life begins. “Adventure awaits and even though seasons of life bring change, it’s an invitation to reinvent ourselves and believe in the beauty of our dreams.”

“This isn’t our mother’s menopause with misinformation about the change. We are well-informed, confident women who are aging fearlessly and defying boundaries. By inspiring women to live their truth we can change the paradigm, transforming the perception of menopause and pass down the generational knowledge that our mothers and grandmothers were afraid to talk about.”

Belinda shared the words of her own mother, who passed away at 54: “Don’t get my age and have a wish list of things you want to accomplish. Go after it even if you fail. It won’t be because you didn’t try.”

She went on to tell us, “Those words spurred me to believe that 50 can be the start of something new. For me, it was to honor my talent of writing and singing and use my voice to encourage women to find the girl they left behind and believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Finally, Cindy suggests that menopause and beyond is a time “to focus on gratitudes, allowing rather than striving, attracting rather than promoting, dreaming rather than goal-setting, mindset rather than strategy, relating rather than producing, listening rather than talking, and wins rather than misses.”

Whatever that looks like for you (from splurging on extra comfy footwear to enjoying your food and wine — two Kimberly recommendations I already resonate with!) the Kindra Journal and product lineup offer accessible menopause education and support that’s worth your consideration, and they’ve established an online community of supportive women, that’s free to join, too.





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Charleston surfer buddies set world record for fastest travel to all 50 states | Charleston Scene


It was 15 degrees in Wyoming and 80 in Alabama in late April as a rented minivan, luggage strapped to the top and a twin-size mattress in the backseat, made its way across 48 state lines with a mission in mind. 

Thomas Cannon pulled up a map on his iPhone, a route designed by an algorithm seeking optimal ways to shave off trip time between back roads and highways. 

Justin Morris, from the passenger seat, tilted his camera and captured the phone mounted to the dashboard, arid Arizona desert terrain in the windshield at one point, snowy Nevada mountain peaks at another. 

Get a weekly list of tips on pop-ups, last minute tickets and little-known experiences hand-selected by our newsroom in your inbox each Thursday.





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The route Thomas Cannon and Justin Morris took to travel to all 48 continental United States. Provided


The two Charleston friends who used to work together at Ocean Surf Shop on Folly Beach claim they have set a world record for traveling to all 50 states the fastest. And they did it without speeding.

“We were pretty good about obeying the speed limit,” Cannon said. “The last thing we wanted was a ticket.”

A plane trip from Hawaii to Alaska kicked off the mission, followed by a road trip between all 48 continental states that started at the Seattle airport.

Clocking it from wheels up in Hawaii to minivan tires crossing the Vermont border at exactly 7,007 miles on the odometer, Morris, 36, and Cannon, 33, made the trek in five days, 16 hours and 20 minutes. 

According to their time log from 8:33 p.m. on April 20 in Hawaii — which is six hours behind the East Coast — to 6:53 p.m. April 26 Eastern Time, they beat the former record by one day, one hour and 11 minutes.

That record was previously held by Nate Williams, Josh Willis, Chris Watson and Brian Mehrens from Missouri who made the whirlwind navigation in six days, 17 hours and 31 minutes in 2015. 






JUSTIN.MORRIS-5201.jpg

Thomas Cannon designed an algorithm that would help determine the fastest drivable route between all 48 continental states. Justin Morris/Provided




Though the world record crown does seem to now rest on the heads of the Lowcountry’s own Cannon and Morris, there isn’t yet any official recognition. 

That’s because Guinness World Records, the annual reference book that prints world record achievements, wasn’t along for the ride. They stopped recognizing “driving around the world at speed” in the mid-’90s due to safety concerns. 

“High-speed circumnavigations by car were a common feature of earlier editions, but by 1996, we stopped accepted new claims, owing the danger of driving over national speed limits,” the company shared. “We still accept claims for round-the-world driving records but only in relation to fuel economy, not speed.”






JUSTIN.MORRIS-4887-m.jpg

In Anchorage, Alaska, on the Seward Highway. Justin Morris/Provided




For Cannon and Morris, that didn’t matter.

They were determined to go on the adventure anyway, sponsored by Cannon’s employer eSite Analytics. The company provided Cannon with the resources necessary to design the optimal route algorithm, one that started in Seattle and ended in White River Junction, Vt. 

They also purchased a larger van for the occasion and paid for gas mileage and food along the route. 

Unfortunately, that much roomier vehicle broke down just as the journey was about to unfold, prompting the Charleston duo to rent a minivan instead. The unexpected trade switched out comfort for speed. 

Morris said you could stand up in the expected ride.

“We were going to build a bathroom in the back,” he said. “There were plenty of places to sleep.”

With the minivan, “Well, we lost a lot of space but but it probably handled the road a lot better and could go a lot faster.” 

Once they left Seattle, Morris and Cannon were in the car for four days straight. Their longest interludes were maybe 10 or 15 minutes while they stopped for gas and stretched their legs, Morris said. 

They spent the most time in a state (other than their kickoff in Hawaii) traveling 10 hours from Nevada’s northernmost spot, where they crossed in from Idaho, to its southern tip bordering California and Arizona. Their briefest visit to a state was a minute in Texas, just stepping over the Department of the Interior’s official marker en route from New Mexico to Oklahoma. 






justin 1.jpg

Justin Morris. Provided


“How does the van smell?” social media followers queried, the most-asked question the duo received along the way.  

“On the last day, we were running purely off adrenaline,” Morris said.  

For the driving portion of the journey, Cannon and Morris added two members to the team: Cannon’s father-in-law Bill McSteen — who only made it to Minneapolis on the third day before he was summoned back to work — and his friend Jim Froelich. 

Froelich and McSteen used to be old car racing buddies. 

“They’d do these endurance races, where they’d be up six, 12, 24 hours at a time,” Cannon said. “So this was right up their alley.” 

The passengers traded off on 24-hour driving shifts and stayed heavily caffeinated. 






thomas 1.jpg

Thomas Cannon. Provided


“We ate a lot of beef jerky and drank a lot of coffee,” Cannon said. 

For entertainment, they mostly talked, he said, though there were a few podcasts and songs on the radio. 

When asked what their favorite state was along the route, they didn’t quite have an answer, since they only visited each for such a short period and mostly just from the car. 

The surfers admitted they were pretty stoked on their three nights in Oahu, Hawaii, before the world record race kicked off. There, they rented surfboards and soaked up some island-time relaxation before the impending time trial. 

Morris and Cannon are in the process of submitting their world record documentation to companies that might be able to sign off on the feat. Morris said he also has plans to package his photographs and video footage into some form of a documentary. 

But first — as Morris noted by phone with The Post and Courier a day after the adventure was over — sleep. 





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STR: March U.S. Hotel Occupancy Tops 50 Percent


U.S. hotel occupancy and revenue per available room in March were the highest reported for any month since February 2020, and the March 2021 average daily rate was the highest since March 2020, according to STR. 

Occupancy reached 54.6 percent for March, ADR was $106.08, and RevPAR was $57.87, according to STR. Instead of showing the year-over-year change, STR provided comparisons to 2019 data because of the Covid-19 pandemic’s effect on March 2020 data. Compared with March 2019, March 2021 occupancy was down 20 percent, ADR was off by 19.7 percent, and RevPAR declined 35.8 percent.

Among the top 25 markets, 13 reported occupancy above 50 percent last month, compared with just five for February. Tampa led at 77.1 percent, followed by Miami at 72.7 percent and Phoenix at 70.8 percent. Markets with occupancies below 40 percent were Boston at 35.7 percent, Minneapolis at 36.1 percent, Washington, D.C. at 38.7 percent and Chicago at 39.9 percent.

RELATED: STR: U.S. Hotels in February Show Monthly Improvement



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50 Spectacular Places to Visit Post-Pandemic – Forbes Advisor


More people are being vaccinated everyday and travel is already top of mind. Suddenly, the whole world feels in reach again, even if travel restrictions haven’t quite been lifted yet.

Most travel experts expect travel to re-open incrementally rather than all at once. We’ll see some countries loosening restrictions early on and others late to follow. At your destination, attractions and local protocols will change in phases, too. Remember, even if you’re vaccinated, not everyone else will be when you arrive at your destination.

Some travelers already know exactly where they want to go: canceled trips from earlier that have been rebooked or bucket list trips that seem more urgent after witnessing a global health crisis. For others, it might be more nebulous. Cabin fever might be constant but the details a bit fuzzy.

For anyone who’s having trouble narrowing down where to go, we’re sorry. Our list of fifty spectacular ideas might make it harder. Every single destination on this list is worth visiting—whether now or in the future—and is probably going to add more places to your wishlist. As they say…sorry, not sorry

Alentejo, Portugal

You’ll find one stunning landscape after another in the mostly rural Alentejo province of Portugal. With soft hills and calm-inducing sunsets, you’ll find an easy-going culture and not a lot of stress (exactly what you need after the year we’ve had).

Take things in slowly by cycling past beaches, lighthouses and fishing villages—or head inland for wineries, castles and farmers’ markets. Rent bikes in Évora and design your own route or book a complete package to have luggage transfers and accommodations taken care of for you.

Algeria

Sitting along the Mediterranean, Algeria offers incredible Roman ruins without any of the crowds. As if that’s not enough, you can also head into the Sahara Desert or Hoggar Mountains to add a dose of nature to your adventure.

Visas are required for entry, but a little paperwork is worth it for access to 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and heart-warming hospitality.

Alta, Norway

Known as the “aurora borealis city”, Alta offers conditions just right for northern lights hunting. Activity is high and, unlike other Scandinavian destinations, it offers a disproportionate number of clear nights for viewing. There are even “arctic dome” hotels (high-end glamping tents with transparent walls) that are friendlier on your waller than glass igloos in other locales.

When you’re this far north, aurora season is longer than you might expect, stretching from September through March. Still, a winter visit is recommended so you can enjoy dog-sledding, snowshoeing and reindeer sleigh rides while you’re there.

Antigua, Guatemala

There’s no denying that Antigua, Guatemala is a touristy destination but its annual Semana Santa (Holy Week, or the week leading up to Easter) celebrations are worth the trip. Every year, locals create gorgeous “carpets” on the street out of colored sawdust, flowers and other materials. These intricate works of art are only viewable for a few hours before religious processions parade over them, destroying them as they go. While you’ll have missed this week in 2021, it’s already time to start planning travel for early 2022!

While this tradition is worth scheduling your trip around, Antigua is lovely the rest of the year, too. The colonial town has beautiful churches to visit, great restaurants and volcanoes to tour right outside town.

Arkansas’ Ozarks

Natural beauty abounds in the northwest corner of Arkansas, where you’ll find the Ozark Mountains. This is one of the largest wilderness areas in the eastern United States, so it’ll come as no surprise that there are plenty of opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and other activities.

What sets this area apart, though, is how many activities there are even if physical pursuits aren’t your strong point. Scenic drives are abundant and head past rivers and waterfalls. You may even see elk. In town, the historic district of Eureka Springs is practically an artisan village and the Great Passion Play is scheduled to resume this spring.

Assam, India

Assam is closer to the Himalayas than the Taj Mahal, which keeps this part of India decidedly off-the-beaten-track. Ecotourism is the main reason to visit, with wild animals a surprising draw. You can search for an Indian one-horned rhinoceros at Kaziranga National Park or explore evergreen forest at the Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary.

The same fertile ground that makes it a good home for wildlife also makes the region ideal for agriculture. Add a tea plantation to your stay. The estates are beautiful and can be a great way to enjoy some of the smaller villages in northeast India.

Ayutthaya, Thailand

One thing’s for sure: no one in the West learns about Ayutthaya in history class, despite the fact that it was the largest city in the world in 1700. Most of today’s visitors go to see earlier history, though. The ruins at Ayutthaya Historical Park date back to 1350. The park is expansive and from a different period and culture than renowned Angkor Wat, so don’t write it off before you go.

Trains from Bangkok leave frequently to make the 90-minute trip to Ayutthaya. In fact, most visitors arrive on a day trip but staying the night is even better. You’ll get to see the temples in early morning and late afternoon, when they’re at their quietest. Sunset in particular is beautiful and a great reason not to leave too early.

Bhutan

A lack of travel over the last year has put the spotlight on sustainable tourism as destinations reopen. One country that’s gotten this right for years is Bhutan, where hiring a guide is mandatory to ensure that travelers treat locals, communities and natural or cultural sights with respect. They strive to keep tourism “high yield, low impact.”

While having a guide is good for the Bhutanese, it’s also good for the traveler. Your guide will take care of logistical arrangements which is especially important in a world where travel restrictions are constantly changing. They’ll also tell you stories, add context and help you connect with locals along the way for a more meaningful experience.

Bristol, England

Banksy fans may already be aware of what a great destination Bristol is—the street art is phenomenal—but it’s time for the rest of the world to catch on. Due west from London, Bristol is a mid-sized city with a spirited identity and lively atmosphere.

Narrowing down what to do can be difficult, but visitors should include touring Brunel’s SS Great Britain and the flagship M Shed museum to start. Netflix Bridgerton fans can day-trip to Bath fifteen minutes away to see filming sites in person.

British Virgin Islands

Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the BVI in 2017, leaving devastating damage in its path that took years to recover. Finally, the British Virgin Islands have rebuilt and reopened with enough infrastructure available that tourists can return and expect most of their favorites to be open.

Choosing which island to stay on can feel overwhelming, but there’s no bad choice. Pick one and stop stressing: You can visit others via day trip thanks to ferries and charter boats. If you truly can’t decide, you can always book a catamaran to sleep on instead of a resort so that your “hotel” room moves with you.

Cairo, Egypt

After numerous delays, this is finally the year the Grand Egyptian Museum is scheduled to open. The new museum will sit just outside the infamous Pyramids of Giza and, unlike the former Egyptian Museum downtown, it will be a gorgeous, modern look at Egypt’s past.

With brand new exhibits and never-seen-before artifacts from recent discoveries in Saqqara and Luxor, this museum will be worth the trip even if you’ve previously visited Egypt. Like all world-class museums, expect to spend a full day (or more) taking in all the exhibits.

Canadian High Arctic

Antarctica tends to get all the attention, but you’ll enjoy many of the same facets if you head to the other pole: an exclusive expedition to untouched nature, breathtaking scenery and astounding wildlife. The Canadian High Arctic also provides a glimpse into Inuit culture and history.

Opting for the Arctic can also be much more accessible. Group packages often meet in Toronto instead of Patagonia so flying is easy. On cruises, seasickness is less of a factor and itineraries start at only a week for travelers pressed for time. Prices are lower, too, despite offering an unforgettable experience.

Canary Islands

If you’re looking for a European getaway but aren’t quite ready to assimilate into city life yet, the Canary Islands can be your perfect solution. Vacation rentals here are common (and affordable) so you have a little extra space when you want privacy. Many have beach access, or even private pools so you can take advantage of the climate.

Tenerife is the largest of the Canaries, making it the obvious choice if you intend to stay awhile. The landscape varies from coastline to volcano to forest, so you’ll never be bored, and there’s everything from party cities to small villages to explore. Pro tip: even if your rental has a kitchen, allow plenty of flexibility to stop in bodegas and tapas bars, too. The Canaries have a cuisine of their own separate from Spain, of which it is a province. Be prepared to savor octopus in every possible permutation imaginable.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Few places manage to blend nature and history in equal proportions but Cappadocia excels. Best known for its moon-like scenery with rock formations referred to as “fairy chimneys”, this part of central Turkey is also home to underground cities that were built for protection during the Arab-Byzantine Wars.

Day tours introduce you to the fascinating history and allow you to explore churches built directly into rocks, some with well-preserved frescoes inside. Hikes of all lengths and difficulties are available for more active travelers while cave hotels, hot air balloon rides and hammams round out your visit.

Colchagua Valley, Chile

One of the four wine regions near the capital city of Santiago, Colchagua Valley is one of the most loved. The terroir is exceptional which is why there are so many award-winning reds, with classic favorites like cabernet sauvignon and merlot as well as carménère, Chile’s flagship varietal.

What moves the Colchagua to the top of the travel list is that it offers so much more than wine alone. In-between tastings, you can enjoy fine dining, luxury hotels and spectacular vistas. At 2.5 hours outside of Santiago, the light pollution is also nearly nonexistent, making it great for stargazing and other astronomical tourism at the Cerro Chamán Observatory.

Doha, Qatar

Because the National Museum of Qatar opened in 2019 and the country closed its borders for the pandemic, most travelers haven’t had the chance to visit this spectacular museum yet. It tells the surprisingly rich story of Qatar’s history and culture and makes a natural complement to the Museum of Islamic Art, also in Doha.

Since the country of Qatar is relatively small—approximately the size of Connecticut—you’re not likely to fly halfway around the world for a visit. Luckily, Qatar Airways makes it easy to include a one- to four-night stopover in your flight itinerary. Since they fly to more than 100 destinations worldwide, it’s an easy way to break up your journey.

Dominica

The nature island of Dominica isn’t like other Caribbean islands. A trip here is less about beaches and resorts (though they have those) and more about exploring the extensive natural park system. You’ll find volcanoes, forests, freshwater lakes, geothermal activity and waterfalls, with plenty of hikes to enjoy them thoroughly.

Dominica also makes it easy to learn more about the cultural heritage than islands where you stay within resort confines. Head to the Kalinago Barana Autê to get insight on Kalinago traditions from hundreds of years ago. The cultural center shares arts, dancing and demonstrations in a respectful, informative way.

Eastern Shore, Virginia

You might already be familiar with Chincoteague, VA where you’ll find wild ponies and NASA’s Wallops Island. You may not know that’s the northern end of Virginia’s Eastern Shore and the entire region is worth a visit. Along with Chincoteague, the area is home to towns Onancock, Wachapreague and Cape Charles, among others.

Regardless of where you choose to stay, traveling up and down the peninsula will give you opportunities to explore barrier islands, tour a family-run winery and swim the warm, calm waters of Chesapeake Bay. Be sure to sample plenty of local oysters, too (yes, they taste different based on where they were harvested along the shore).

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Honestly, there’s never a bad time to go to the Galapagos but this time might be better than average. With international tourism still somewhat slow, not all cruises are operating due to a lack of passengers. If your voyage is scheduled and confirmed, you’ll have fewer ships to share waters with (and possibly fewer passengers onboard, too).

If all of that sounds a little too unpredictable for you, skip the cruise and book a land-based trip instead. You’ll have to prioritize a handful of islands that best fit your interests. For example, the tortoise breeding center is on Santa Cruz Island but there’s great snorkeling off San Cristobal at Kicker Rock.

Gaspé, Québec

French Canada is so much more than Montreal and Québec City so make this the year you get out of the city and into the province. Unlike its metropolitan neighbors, the Gaspé Peninsula offers small towns, strong heritage and several wilderness areas. The best way to visit is by road trip, which will allow you to stop in villages and national parks along the way.

This region also has incredible cuisine. Expect a blend of classic French with a uniquely Canadian twist, like a bouillabaisse gaspésienne made from local seafood or artisanal chocolate with local balsam fir. Hearty dishes, to keep you warm in cold winters, are also prevalent here.

Gdańsk, Poland

As it is, Poland usually isn’t one of the first places that Americans visit in Europe and Gdańsk is even less on a traveler’s agenda. What a shame that is, since this northern city along the Baltic manages to hit the trifecta of being beautiful, interesting and affordable. New flights from the U.S. to Poland even make it easier to reach.

In Gdańsk, travelers should visit the European Solidarity Center to learn about Polish Communist history. The modern museum includes an audio guide to further explain the solidarity movement. Another new and worthwhile stop is the Museum of the Second World War, which explains another significant piece of Poland’s history.

Ghana

West Africa can feel intimidating, even for frequent travelers, but Ghana has a stable government and friendly, welcoming locals. Fly into Accra (nonstop from New York JFK) and dive in. Bustling markets, Atlantic beaches and nightlife can keep you busy for days before you head to Ghana’s rainforest or savannah safaris.

No trip to Ghana would be complete without a visit to the Cape Coast and acknowledgment of its position as a major hub in the slave trade. Learning about this part of history shows how far we’ve come as a world—and reminds us how far we still have to go.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

The new Museum of Underwater Art can be found down under…literally. A series of sculptures has been installed underwater off the coast of Townsville, Australia, giving scuba divers yet another reason to plan a visit to this classic favorite destination.

Although it’s possible to snorkel at the “Coral Greenhouse” exhibit in John Brewer Reef, diving will give you a closer look. Take time now, before Australia’s borders are open anyway, to get certified and/or brush up on your skills.

Guyana

Guyana is South America’s only English-speaking country but ironically it’s mostly untouched by tourism. Hop on a nonstop flight—it’s about four hours from Miami or six from New York—and then strap on an adventure mindset. It’s easy to arrive and communicate, but it’s distinctly off-the-beaten-path. Don’t expect luxury or a seamless transition.

Travelers who put in the effort will be rewarded with some of the most impressive nature you’ll ever see. Kaieteur Falls is the highest single-drop waterfall in the world and there are striking mountainous landscapes as well. Wildlife-watching is also a draw, with possible sightings including giant river otters, giant anteaters or potentially even jaguars.

Harbin, China

Every winter, there are dirt cheap airfares from the U.S. to China and now you have a reason to go: Harbin’s International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is the largest and most elaborate in the world. A modified version was held in 2021, so it’s relatively safe to expect it’ll occur again in 2022.

Although this festival is amazing every year, the timing of next year’s event lines up well to combine with a trip to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, an easy two-hour flight south.

Istria, Croatia

Foodies should consider Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula for their next taste-testing vacation. As the crow flies, you’re practically in Italy; in fact, there’s a ferry that runs between Venice and Pula, Croatia. You’ll find truffles, olive oil, prosciutto, wine and all types of seafood, plus delicacies that are 100% Croatian.

This region is popular with European travelers, but Americans are only just beginning to visit. If you go, be sure to split your time between a coastal city (such as Rovinj or Pula) and inland villages (hill-top Motovun is a favorite).

Jujuy, Argentina

Head to the province of Jujuy in Argentina’s Andes mountains to see a side of the country most people have never heard of. The scenery is mind-blowing, with a unique combination of mountains and desert. Colorful peaks, like the Cerro de Siete Colores in Purmamarca and Serranía de Hornocal in Humahuaca, pop like rainbows under the right lighting conditions.

It’s not just about the scenery and the outdoors, though. The Pucará de Tilcara is a set of pre-Incan fortifications, some of which have been rebuilt. Go to tour the ruins and learn more about the Omaguaca who lived here during the twelfth century.

Luxembourg

For such a small country, Luxembourg packs a big punch. You can drive from top to bottom in just over an hour, but in-between you’ll see medieval castles, untouched nature and historic tunnels. Stay in Luxembourg City if you want to see the old and new juxtaposed or head to fairytale Vianden if you prefer a smaller town.

Believe it or not, Luxembourg has its own airport with flights to numerous European cities. However, since it borders Belgium, France and Germany, it can be equally easy to drive in as part of a road trip. Highways and other infrastructure make it easy to visit on your own.

Kenya

Choosing a country for safari can be overwhelming, especially since almost everywhere is likely to be amazing. What makes Kenya stand out is the ability to book a trip at a more reasonable cost. Generally speaking, Kenya’s park fees are a bit lower than its neighbors and most parks have nearby budget lodges for travelers who want something in-between outright camping and a luxury stay.

Don’t think you’re skimping on animal sightings, though. Although the Serengeti in Tanzania is best known for the annual “great migration,” the exact same herds cross the border into Kenya at the Masai Mara National Reserve every summer.

Lombok, Indonesia

Move over, Bali. Lombok is where you should head if you want tropical relaxation without being overrun by tourists and global brands. You’ll find surf breaks, a looming volcano, waterfalls, beaches and temples.

Right now, flights to Lombok are only from a handful of international gateways, such as Singapore and Kuala Lumpur (most people fly or ferry in from elsewhere in Indonesia). Because of that, Lombok is relatively untouristed…for now.

Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana

Botswana’s zebra migration isn’t well-known, perhaps because it was hindered for decades by cattle fencing that previously cut off migration routes. Now, the fences have been removed and 25,000 or more zebras migrate each year to take advantage of lush, green feeding grounds.

Booking a trip to see this spectacular sight is best done with a knowledgeable safari agent. Since the zebras are on the move, you’ll need an expert to tell you where to go based on your exact timing. Be aware the migration is most dramatic during the low (rainy) season, so choosing navigable routes and finding open lodges is also a consideration.

Milos, Greece

The Greek isles will always be beloved by travelers but do yourself a favor and skip the most-heavily visited islands this year. Milos, while certainly not “undiscovered,” is less crowded than other islands and cruise ships rarely stop here.

Milos is best known for the stark white Sarakiniko Beach but the Catacombs of Milos and Kleftiko Caves are equally worthwhile. And, like all Greek isles, don’t underestimate how much time you’ll want for swimming, sunbathing, wining, dining and chasing the sunset.

Moab, Utah

With two national parks in and around Moab, this city deserves to be on a travel list every year. This year, it’s especially inviting since there’s a whole new way to arrive. The Rocky Mountaineer train launches this year, taking travelers on a scenic journey from Denver to Moab or vice versa.

The luxury journey includes views of places you can’t see from the road, including Ruby Canyon on the way toward Arches National Park. Once in Moab, you’ll want to spend a few days taking in the red rock landscape the area is known for as well as scenic rivers, forests and mountains nearby.

Oruro, Bolivia

The Oruro Carnival is a party like no other. Held each winter, the festival blends Catholic rituals with local Indian rituals for an extravagant, colorful festival. The parades are exceptionally long, lasting up to twenty hours, and feature folk dancing, music and elaborate costumes like nowhere else in the world.

Outside of Carnival festivities, Oruro is a small, sleepy town without a lot of tourist attractions. However, it pairs perfectly with Sajama National Park outside town, where you’ll find the
snow-capped Sajama Peak, geysers, hot springs and prehistoric rock paintings.

Puebla, Mexico

There are 365 churches in Puebla, one for each day of the year. There are also several art museums, a dozen restaurants that claim to have the best mole and one stunning view of a smoking volcano in the distance. Puebla is giving Mexico City a run for its money and is only two hours away.

The university town of Cholula, about 12km away, is nearly always combined with Puebla and for good reason. The Great Pyramid here is a huge draw for travelers and is worth climbing to the top as well as touring the underground tunnels. It’s also excellent for dining and nightlife, with more trendy options than you’ll find in Puebla itself. For an authentic Cinco de Mayo celebration, look no further. Puebla is the only city in Mexico that actually celebrates the holiday.

Queenstown, New Zealand

If being stuck in your own home for a year has you antsy, head straight to New Zealand’s adventure capital. Queenstown offers everything from bungee jumping to riverboarding to satiate your need for adrenaline.

Once you’ve checked a few activities off your bucket list, you can enjoy Queenstown’s gentler pursuits. This small city on the South Island is also great for scenic lake cruises, fly fishing, golfing and more. The Kiwi Birdlife Park will let you get up close and personal to New Zealand’s most famous bird.

Saipan

Go ahead, pull out a map. Saipan is in the Northern Mariana Islands, in a part of the Pacific often forgotten about. It was an important World War II battle site and travelers can easily visit the exact location of historical events with a rental car. The American Memorial Park Visitor Center, a National Park Service site, can provide context and directions.

As you’d expect from an island, there are also glorious beaches and amazing diving, including one site with a sunken WWII plane wreck.

Salento, Colombia

If you haven’t been to Colombia’s coffee country yet, it’s time to consider a visit to Salento. This mountain town makes a convenient base for side trips to organic coffee plantations, the Cocora Valley (known for its iconic wax palms) and Los Nevados National Park.

Within town, you’ll want to walk the colorful Calle Real and visit the Plaza de Bolivar Salento, which are great excuses to constantly pull out your camera. Outside of town, most tours focus on outdoor adventures: hiking or multi-day treks, mountain biking, paragliding and horseback riding.

Samoa

Samoa gets very little tourism compared to other parts of Polynesia. Perhaps because of that, their culture shines brightly. The Fa’a Samoa (or Samoan Way) isn’t something fake or exaggerated for tourists. As a visitor, you will be welcome to observe and participate in local customs.

This is the type of destination where you should go out of your way to support local businesses. Choose small restaurants, personalized tours and family-run hotels and avoid international chains. The beaches and tropical paradise might entice you to Samoa, but the warm hospitality will make you long to return.

Sayulita, Mexico

Easily accessible from Puerto Vallarta’s airport (PVR), Sayulita feels a world apart from this tourist center. Like Tulum was before Instagram discovered it, Sayulita has the tourist amenities and services that vacationers want without losing its Mexican identity entirely. Enjoy it responsibly so that visitors in years to come will be able to enjoy it as well.

While surfing is what first brought tourism to Sayulita, there’s also fishing, snorkeling and shopping for local Huichol art. If you’re willing to put in a little effort, you’ll still find virgin forest and hidden beaches or maybe even the city’s best street tacos.

Sydney, Australia

Australia did a great job of keeping life normal so when they finally reopen their borders to international visitors, you can guess that there will be plenty to do. While there are plenty of must-see sights for first-timers, the real draw to Sydney is the events and festivals you’ll find. There’s always something to do.

One of the city’s best annual events is Vivid Sydney, which features outdoor light installations and projections across the city for an immersive experience. Music and other performances encourage you to explore beyond Sydney’s main landmarks and discover a new neighborhood to return to in the future.

Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei is a foodie’s dream. There are Michelin-star restaurants, hole-in-the-wall eateries and street food 24 hours a day, each with delicious delicacies to offer. Start your day with pineapple cakes and oolong tea and work your way toward beef noodle soup and black pepper buns. Or head into one of the shrimping bars on Zhìshàn Road, where you literally catch your own dinner.

Of course, you have to do something other than just eat, and Taipei excels at that, too. Hit up the city museums and temples, do some shopping or day trip to Beitou for hot springs and hiking.

Telluride, Colorado

New routes and increased frequencies to Montrose airport have made Telluride more accessible than ever before. This small town in western Colorado has gorgeous mountain scenery with a wide assortment of active pursuits but a new twist compared to resort towns like Vail or Aspen that you may have been to before.

The best part about Telluride is that it’s lovely in both winter and summer. Choose to ski with shorter lift lines and varied terrain at Telluride Ski Resort. In summer, activities include favorites like hiking and off-roading. Plus, in either case, you’ll find great dining and cocktail options to round out your trip.

Tufi, Papua New Guinea

Realistically, anyone who goes all the way to Papua New Guinea will likely head to multiple areas but Tufi should be one of them. The pristine town sits next to a fjord (here, fjords are referred to as rias and were formed by ancient volcanic eruptions).

The scenery is only the beginning. You could easily fill a whole trip with diving alone with world-class sites and tremendous visibility. In addition to being known for macro diving, there are also rare white hammerhead sharks, wrecks and schooling barracuda.

Uganda

East Africa is best known as a safari destination, but Uganda bucks the trend. Sure, you can see incredible wildlife here (and absolutely should) but it offers a more well-rounded travel experience. The country has stunning crater lakes, wild whitewater rafting and multi-day treks in the Rwenzori Mountains.

Among the places you shouldn’t miss on your first visit are Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to tree-climbing lions, and Murchison Falls National Park, one of the most powerful cascades in the world.

Uruguay

With a mild climate, Uruguay makes for a year-round destination with more variety than you could possibly fit in a week. The coastline tends to get the most attention, and with Punta del Este’s fabulous beaches and epic nightlife, it’s no wonder that’s where many travelers start.

Other highlights of the country include picturesque Colonia, a UNESCO World Heritage site for its many historic buildings and idyllic cobblestone streets. An hour away, the town of Carmelo has been up and coming for a few years now but hasn’t quite taken off. Go now, while you can still enjoy the peaceful countryside, blossoming wine scene and steakhouses galore.

Uzbekistan

Travelers who wish to explore Central Asia will find Uzbekistan to be one of the easiest -stans for independent tourism. The capital city of Tashkent’s metro system is both convenient and beautiful and high-speed rail links the city to other must-visit destinations like Samarkand and Bukhara.

Mosques and mausoleums dazzle with intricate designs, making the architecture a draw as much as its Silk Road history and culture. Slightly off the standard tourist trail, the Western Tien Shan mountains are perfect for hiking, mountain biking and skiing. On the other side of the country, the nearly-dry Aral Sea hosts a bewildering graveyard of former cargo ships.

Valdez, Alaska

Valdez offers an incredible microcosm of all that Alaska has to offer: glaciers, fjord cruises, salmon and halibut fishing, sea kayaking, hiking and wildlife-watching. It’s also a photographer’s dream. The drive-in on the Richardson Highway will leave you gaping at the scenery.

Since this small city isn’t on most first-timers’ radar, it’s not terribly busy even in peak season, but services are limited and you’ll need to make reservations in advance for hotels and tours. When you do, allow some flexibility for bad weather. Valdez gets a lot of rain (and snow), which keeps waterfalls looking spectacular all year long.

Waiheke Island, New Zealand

Waiheke Island is close enough to Auckland to make it a day trip but smart travelers will allow more time. There are over two dozen vineyards on this island, all of which are worth sampling. Olives are also grown here, thanks to hot summers, and olive oil tasting is an unexpected addition to your New Zealand experience.

When you need a break from your culinary experiences, Waiheke Island is also a terrific destination for biking or bushwalking. You can slow down entirely by heading to one of the island’s beaches, too. The coast on the north side of the island is typically best for white sand and swimmable waters.

Walt Disney World, Florida

Disney’s 50th-anniversary festivities begin October 1, 2021 and are expected to last 18 months, giving you plenty of time to join the party. Specific celebrations haven’t been announced yet, but you can expect magical entertainment, specially-themed souvenirs and treats and new park decor.

Waiting until 2022 for the initial crowds to lessen may actually be in your favor, especially since some favorite festivities like fireworks and parades are currently paused. Holding out for smaller crowds may also speed up your wait time on new rides like Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure at EPCOT.

Bottom Line

Every week, we get a little closer to traveling again. More people get vaccinated every day and Covid-19 cases are thankfully dropping. As these trends continue, the ability to travel will become more of a reality and these destinations will be waiting. Which one you choose for your first post-pandemic trip…well, that’s up to you.



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50 Ways To Use Your Rail Pass


Remember the free Rail Pass?

Well, I just discovered mine does a great job propping up a table with a wobbly leg.

I can’t, however, say it has been so successful at providing free trips for people, considering it expires tomorrow and only 30% of free journeys were used.

When it was first unveiled, the 12 free ticket pass held the promise of local tourism, trips to the seaside for tiny grey shrimp, and a jaunt to the Ardennes.

It was an incredibly appealing offer, in principle, even when the start date was delayed to 5 October 2020.

However, as one reader put it, “there was no reason to go anywhere as we’ve been in semi lockdown since November.”

That simple fact makes this whole thing feel less like a bonus, and more like the vaguely teasing emails I get from airlines encouraging me to book a summer holiday.

“Look what you could do if the world weren’t on fire.”

There’s been no official line on what will happen, or if the scheme will be extended, so I guess we wait and see what happens to the passes we haven’t used.

For now, however, great potential for holding up a table. Seriously.

Have you managed to use your pass (for a trip or otherwise?) Let @johnstonjules (me) know on Twitter.

Another thing I learned, people really like endives. 
Feel like you’re missing out?
There’s a load of recipes from readers here.

BUT WAIT, one last thing: Want news from The Brussels Times in your inbox every morning? Sign up for The Recap, a free daily newsletter launching later this month 1 April containing all the stories you need to know from the day before. It goes great with your morning coffee. 

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. Second self-test approved for use by Belgian health authorities

Belgium’s Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (FAMHP) has approved a second coronavirus rapid test that can soon be sold as a self-test.

In addition to the rapid tests developed by Roche, a Biosynex rapid test will also be available from pharmacies from 6 April as part of Belgium’s “testing strategy 2.0.” Read more.

2. Belgium starts vaccinating risk groups in April: how to check if you’re on the list

Belgium’s vaccination campaign will enter a new phase in April when people with an underlying condition between 18 and 65 years old will start receiving their jabs.

The list of people with comorbidities, who are considered at increased risk due to their condition, includes an estimated 1.2 to 1.5 million people across the country, according to the Sciensano national health institute. Read more.

3. AstraZeneca vaccine renamed ‘Vaxzevria’

The coronavirus vaccine produced by the AstraZeneca pharmaceutical company is now called Vaxzevria, the Swedish medicine agency Läkemedelsverket announced based on data from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The vaccine itself remains unchanged, but the Swedish agency considers the new name important, as it is accompanied by other things, such as new labelling and packaging. Read More.

4. Brexit & Covid-19: re-opened Mini-Europe tackles a huge year

After months of closure, Mini-Europe, the outdoor museum at the foot of the Atomium which allows visitors to travel all over Europe in a few hours, has reopened to a different Europe than the one it closed to. Read more.

5. Prices on the Brussels housing market fall due to working from home

The average selling price for a house in Brussels fell by 3% in the first months of this year, compared to the same period in 2020, while flats became slightly more expensive.

The dips in the Brussels housing market are being attributed to the increase in people working at home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Read More.

6. Phone data investigations: Belgian law could be hanging by a thread

Police, security services and other investigators will be pacing the floor in the coming month anticipating a judgement by the Constitutional Court that could, they say, undermine one of the major tools of modern crime-fighting.

The problem concerns telephone data and a Belgian law that obliges all phone service providers to keep a record of all data traffic for 12 months. Read More.

7. Brad Pitt spotted in Brussels

Brad Pitt arrived in Brussels by private jet on Monday afternoon, according to reports from local media.

The movie star was spotted by an HLN photographer, who managed to snap a few photos. “We had received a tip from France that Brad Pitt was ready to take a flight from Paris to Brussels,” the photographer told Qmusic. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times





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