Venture X Vs American Express Platinum Card – Forbes Advisor


Statement Credits and Amex Offers

The American Express Platinum features a long list of statement credit offers offering discounts or rebates on services from Uber rides to Walmart+. Depending on your spending patterns, some of these credits may be more useful than others, but most cardmembers will be able to take advantage of at least some of these credits. Credits offered with the American Express Platinum include:

  • $200 Hotel Credit toward eligible Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel
  • Up to $100 Saks Credits issued in $50 biannual credits
  • Up to $200 Uber Cash Credits issued in $15 monthly credits with a bonus $20 in December. To be eligible a cardholder must link their eligible card to their Uber account. Uber Cash can be used for U.S. rides or Eats.
  • Up to $240 Digital Entertainment Credits for eligible digital entertainment once enrolled
  • $155+ Walmart Plus statement credit when you pay your monthly $12.95 fee with your card
  • Up to $300 Equinox Credits issued in $25 monthly credits for select Equinox memberships when you pay with your card
  • Up to $300 SoulCycle Credits
  • Up to $200 Airline Incidental Fee Credits on one eligible airline each year you enroll

For more details on the American Express Platinum’s various statement credits, take a peek at the Forbes Advisor review of the American Express Platinum.

In addition to statement credits, all American Express cards feature Amex Offers, which are promotions offered in partnership with merchants that can be added to your card online. Amex Offers frequently include discounts and rebates of 20% or more on popular national vendors from Sam’s Club to hotel chains and cruises.

Airport Lounge Access

Both the Venture X and American Express Platinum offer cardmembers lounge access through Priority Pass. Both cards include access for the primary cardmember and two accompanying guests and to the issuer’s network of airline lounges. However, it’s the card issuers own lounges that make the difference where American Express pulls ahead. While Capital One’s network of lounges currently includes three planned airport lounges, the American Express lounge network includes over 40 Centurion Lounges and Centurion Studios lounges.

In February 2023, American Express will change its lounge access policy, only admitting one cardmember until hitting a spending requirement, which will almost certainly change the calculus for everyone except solo travelers, but for now the lounge access advantage is with American Express.

However, with respect to lounge access, there’s one particular class of travelers who will benefit even more from the airport lounge access offered by the Platinum Card: Solo Delta Air Lines travelers.

Lounge Access for the Solo Delta Air Lines Flyer

Yes, we just mentioned lounge access above, but the American Express Platinum deserves a special call out for Delta Air Lines travelers.

If you usually travel alone and are a frequent Delta Air Lines flyer, the American Express Platinum card can provide tremendous value through its Delta Sky Club access benefit. The card includes Delta Air Lines lounge access for the primary cardmember when flying a same-day Delta itinerary. If you are a frequent Delta Air Lines traveler, this alone could tip the balance in favor of the American Express Platinum card.

Transfer Partners for U.S.-Based Travelers

Transfering points to airline and hotel partners has long been considered the best way to get outsized value from transferable points programs and the American Express Platinum and Capital One Venture X offer point transfers to many of the same partners. The American Express Platinum card ekes out a slight advantage for U.S. travelers, as it trades the Venture X’s partners TAP Air Portugal, FinnAir and Turkish Airlines for Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue, Iberia, El Al and Delta.

In addition to airline transfer partners, American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to IHG, Hilton and Marriott. While these transfer partners generally represent a low-value use of points, they are likely more usable than Capital One’s transfer partners, Accor and Wyndam, for U.S.-based travelers.



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How To Move A Hot Tub – Forbes Advisor


Editorial Note: Forbes Advisor may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.

  • Working time: 2 to 4 hours
  • Total time: 8 hours
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Project cost: Less than $500, depending upon the move

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Moving a hot tub is a chore, to say the least, but with the right plan and help, it’ll be a far shorter chore. Be sure to practice safe lifting techniques and prevent any tips or falls of the hot tub. Before you know it, you’ll be soaking in the hot tub after your move to your new home.

Safety Considerations

A small hot tub can weigh around 600 pounds when empty, and a big hot tub is closer to 1,000 pounds. With that much weight, it’s important to lift properly to avoid hurting yourself or damaging the hot tub.

Moving a hot tub requires an initial lift of the hot tub in order to insert boards underneath it so furniture dollies can get put in place. Remember to lift with your knees and not your back. Try to find a level path for the hot tub to travel so it won’t tip. If possible, try to find a truck with a liftgate to eliminate a heavy push up a ramp into a truck. A ramp will work but once again, pay attention to the amount of strain it takes to push the hot tub.

Tools and Materials

  • Furniture dolly
  • 2-by-4s
  • Garden hose
  • Wet/dry vacuum
  • Moving truck
  • Ratchet straps

How to Move a Hot Tub Instructions

1. Plan Out Move

The old adage, “measure twice, cut once” comes into play during a hot tub move. Find a path free of obstacles and on a level surface so the hot tub won’t tip or fall as you move it toward the moving truck. Measure your hot tub, especially its width, to make sure it will fit through any potentially narrow spots.

2. Gather Materials

Have your boards, dollies and ratchet straps nearby and ready to go when you’re ready to start the move. Make sure you have the right sized rental truck to make sure your hot tub will fit. Rental companies like Uhaul provide the dimensions of their trucks on their website. You’ll also want about four people to help with the move. Two can do the initial lift while the other two slide the furniture dollies into place.

NOTE: Uhaul says that a hot tub can be hauled using an auto transport trailer, too.

3. Disconnect and Drain Hot Tub

If you’re planning on moving the hot tub, you’ve likely already disconnected it from its electrical source and drained it, but if not, you’ll need to do that first. Draining the hot tub might take special consideration because different municipalities have different requirements on how to drain a hot tub. Check local codes before draining a hot tub. You can drain the hot tub by attaching a garden hose to the drain and use a wet/dry vacuum.

4. Pack Up Hot Tub Supplies

You can pack up your hot tub supplies at any time, but just remember to do so prior to moving the hot tub. The last thing you want is to try to connect the hot tub in a new spot and not have all the necessary equipment. Be sure to label each part as you dissemble so you know where it goes when you reinstall it.

5. Lift the Hot Tub

Have one person, or more, at each end of the hot tub and have them lift it a few inches off the ground.

6. Slide Dollies Under Hot Tub

Have a person at each end of the tub slide a furniture dolly underneath so the hot tub rests on it. You might want to use ratchet straps to secure the hot tub to the dolly so it doesn’t kick out on you while you’re moving it.

7. Push Hot Tub to Truck and Load It On

Push the hot tub along the path you outlined until you reach the moving truck. Make sure the hot tub stays balanced on the furniture dollies. Once at the truck, push it up the ramp or use a liftgate to get it into the truck. Once the hot tub is in the truck, secure it with ratchet straps so it won’t shift during transportation.

8. Unload the Hot Tub

Reverse the hot tub loading process to put it in its new position. Be sure to lay down the boards at the spot you want the hot tub to rest so you can lay the hot tub there and remove the dollies. Fill up the hot tub and enjoy.

When to Call a Pro

Calling a pro to move a hot tub will eliminate logistical nightmares. If moving your hot tub looks too difficult to do on your own, call a moving pro to do the job. They might charge similarly to the cost of a regular move.

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Top 50 Best Places To Travel Post-Pandemic 2021 – 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.


Pro Tip

Purchase travel insurance as soon as you book your trip to take advantage of early purchase benefits, such as medical coverage for pre-existing conditions and increased coverage limits.

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.

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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.

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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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How To Find Local Movers And Other Local Moving Tips – Forbes Advisor


Editorial Note: Forbes Advisor may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.

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On paper, local moves are supposed to be faster and more affordable than cross-country moves. However, that’s only true when you make the right decisions before moving. A local move is one that generally stays within a radius of 50 miles—a move that extends beyond that distance would be considered a long-distance move, even if it’s still within the same state.

Here are some moving tips and factors to consider before hiring local movers.

1. Deciding Between Hiring Local Movers vs. Doing It Yourself

Even local moves can be stressful experiences that involve many moving parts. Hiring local movers to protect, lift and carry all of your heavy household items is a great option. Of course, this is also the most expensive option. For a local move, companies generally charge by the hour along with travel time and gas fees. Hiring local movers can cost from $300 to $1,500, depending on the size of the move. That’s about $25 to $50 per mover per hour.

However, moving locally also allows you to do it yourself. Instead of hiring local movers, you can take charge of the move yourself and save some money. But, before you choose the do-it-yourself route, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have any friends or family members who can help with the move?
  • Do you have a truck? Or have a friend who can lend you their truck for the move?
  • Will you need help to move heavy furniture and appliances?
  • Are you moving any valuables or fragile pieces?
  • Do you require any special moving services (i.e., pool table, piano, gym equipment)?

The answers to these questions will help you decide whether you need to hire a local mover or if this is something you can handle on your own.

2. How to Find Local Movers

Hiring local movers involves doing some research to ensure you work with a professional moving company. Ideally, you want to work with a trustworthy local moving company that’s well-known in the area. Here are some tips for finding reliable local movers that you can trust with your home possessions:

  • Ask friends, relatives or neighbors for recommendations. Word-of-mouth recommendations can save you plenty of time in research.
  • Read the company’s reviews and testimonials before contacting them. A reliable moving company will have an online presence with reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Yelp and MyMovingReviews.
  • Single out local moving companies by requesting moving cost estimates. Consider low-ball estimates as a red flag of moving fraud. Make sure they can provide you with a written quote before you agree to sign any contract with them.

3. Cost To Hire Local Movers

When hiring local movers, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the average cost so that you can recognize some red flags of moving fraud. Unlike cross-country moving companies, local movers will charge by the hour instead of shipment weight. Depending on your location, season, and distance, you can be looking at $40 per hour, per worker.

The ultimate cost of hiring local movers will depend on the size and number of items they’ll move. This is why many local moving companies will ask for the number of boxes and furniture pieces you expect to have before giving you an accurate quote. Make sure you calculate how much space you need for your move, as well. On average:

  • Studio Apartment: two movers, three hours, for $240.
  • 2-Bedroom Apartment: three movers, five hours, for $600.
  • 3-Bedroom Apartment: four movers, seven hours, for $1,120.

This gives you a good basis to compare rates and prices of moving companies. However, you still need to add in gas prices, time to and from the location, and other special charges. With the cost of moves going up, it’s important to know exactly how much to budget for.

4. How to Save Money Moving Locally

Even though local moves are cheaper than long-distance moves, you can still find ways to save money when moving locally. Remember that local move prices are based on how much time it takes movers to complete the job, rather than on weight and distance. So, to help you save money when working with local movers, try to:

  • Reduce the number of items you’re moving. Declutter as much as you can to only bring what’s necessary.
  • Pack up things by yourself, or at least try to have most boxes packaged, labeled and ready to go when the movers arrive.
  • Leave clothes, shoes, books and other small items to move by yourself. Bring these over in your car instead of having the movers carry them out.

5. How Much to Tip Local Movers

Simply put, tipping local movers isn’t something you are required or obliged to do. First, double-check your contract to verify whether or not they’re already including gratuity in the total cost for the services. If they aren’t, tipping should be the consequence of your satisfaction with the job. If you had an unprofessional or bad experience with your moving company, you might as well forgo the tip.

On the flip side, if they did a great job, you might consider tipping them.

Generally, tipping $4 to $5 per hour per worker is considered a good tip. Another option is to tip 5% to 10% of the total move cost. Depending on the size of your move, you can expect to tip between $30 and $140 divided evenly among workers.

6. Know How to Protect Yourself From Moving Scams

One of the downfalls of working with local moving companies is the risk of getting scammed. In most states, moving companies are required to register with a state department. Verifying their registration and insurance can help protect you from fraudulent moving companies.
When reaching out to local moving companies, ask some of these questions:

  • How long has the company been in business?
  • What type of protection, if any, do they offer against loss or damage?
  • How do they handle claim disputes?
  • Can they provide an estimate and contract in writing?

These questions will help you filter out potentially unreliable or fraudulent moving companies. The more research you do on a company, the fewer chances you’ll have of being scammed by local movers.

Whether you’re moving a fewblocks away or almost 50 miles away, it’s critical to hire a moving company that you can trust with your precious valuables. Spend all the time you need researching different companies and comparing quotes until you find a team of local movers that can help you with your moving needs.

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Latest Travel Information & Guidance – Forbes Advisor UK


Here’s the latest on travel to and from the UK, including quarantine requirements, testing, and changes to the government’s rules for overseas destinations. We’ll update this page with news and information as we get it, so please scroll down for further details of what’s been happening across the travel sector in recent weeks.

Check here for a comprehensive explanation of the rules for those entering the UK

Holidaymakers urged to check destination testing regimes

The reduction in the number of countries on the UK government’s Covid-19 travel red list to seven, which became effective on Monday 11 October (see story below) has opened up the international travel market for UK holidaymakers.

But would-be travellers are being urged to check the Covid testing requirements for their destinations as mistakes and omissions could lead to problems when they try to fly.

Testing requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers to popular destinations

  • Abu Dhabi negative PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to travel, plus a PCR test on arrival
  • Barbados negative PCR test taken within three days prior to travel
  • Brazil negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel, or negative lateral flow test within 24 hours of travel
  • Canary Islands no restrictions
  • Cape Verde no restrictions
  • Costa Rica no restrictions
  • Cuba negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel, followed by a PCR test on arrival
  • Dubai negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel
  • Egypt no restrictions
  • Goa regular scheduled flights are currently suspended
  • Indonesia no restrictions
  • Maldives negative PCR test taken within 96 hours prior to arrival
  • Mexico no restrictions
  • Morocco no restrictions
  • St Lucia negative PCR test taken five days or less before travel
  • Seychelles negative PCR test taken 72 hours or less before travel
  • South Africa negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel
  • Thailand negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel
  • Trinidad & Tobago negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to travel.

Source: Cignpost ExpressTest

Christian Corney of Cignpost ExpressTest, which runs testing sites at airports and city centre locations in the UK, says winter sun travellers need to book the right tests at the right time: “With COVID testing requirements being lifted for travellers coming into the UK, it’s easy to think that the same process is happening across the world.

“But many countries, especially long-haul destinations, have their own testing requirements, and holidaymakers need to plan carefully to make sure they have booked the correct tests and can get results back before they fly. Without proof of the right negative test taken at the right time, travellers will not be allowed to board the plane.”

Mr Corney cites the example of double-jabbed passengers heading to the Maldives needing to take a negative PCR within 96 hours of embarking on their outbound flight, but travellers to Thailand, South Africa and the Seychelles having to complete the same test within 72 hours prior to departure.

Similarly, entry requirements vary within Latin America. Mexico and Costa Rica do not ask for any test results, but Brazil requires a negative PCR taken within 72 hours of arrival, or a lateral flow test taken no more than 24 hours before travel.

In the Caribbean, St Lucia requires arrivals to have a negative PCR test taken within five days of their outbound flight, while Barbados sets the time limit at three days.

And fully-vaccinated travellers heading to Dubai must produce a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their flight, but travellers choosing Abu Dhabi must complete their test up to 48 hours before their departure.

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Red List Falls To Seven, Vax Recognition Extended

The UK government’s Covid-19 red list has been cut to seven destinations from today (Monday 11 October). All other countries and territories will fall into the ‘rest of the world’ classification.

The seven locations remaining on the red list are:

  • Panama
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela
  • Peru
  • Ecuador
  • Haiti
  • Dominican Republic.

Travellers returning to England from red list countries are required to spend 10 days/11 nights in a government-sanctioned quarantine hotel. For details of the costs and associated testing requirements, see story below.

The UK government rules apply to England. However, the new red list has also been adopted for use by the devolved authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Announcing the change, Grant Shapps MP, transport secretary, added: “I’m making changes so travellers visiting England have fewer entry requirements, by recognising those with fully-vax status from 37 new countries and territories including India, Turkey and Ghana, treating them the same as UK fully-vax passengers.”

You can find a full list of countries with approved vaccines and proof of vaccination here.

Last week, the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office announced that it has lifted its advice against all but essential travel for 32 countries and territories.

The FCDO says it will no longer advise against travel to non-red list countries on COVID-19 grounds, except in exceptional circumstances such as if the local healthcare system is overwhelmed.

This is being viewed as another positive step because most travel insurance policies are invalid in countries where FCDO advice against travel is in place. It will also eliminate any conflicts between the red list and the FCDO advice list. For example, when the Maldives was removed from the red list last month, it temporarily remained on the FCDO list.


New UK Travel Regime Takes Effect

From 4am today (Monday 4 October 2021), the UK’s new travel system comes into force, with countries and territories categorised as either ‘red’ or ‘rest of the world’.

The previous traffic light system of red, amber and green as been removed. At present there are over 50 countries on the UK government red list, but this number is expected to fall sharply later this week when a revised list is published.

There has been speculation in the media that the number could fall below 10 when an announcement is made, possibly on Thursday.

Travel restrictions and requirements on those entering the UK from non red list countries will now largely be determined by the individual’s vaccination status.

Vaccinated travellers

For travellers to England, the new regime enables eligible fully vaccinated passengers (those with NHS vaccines and vaccines from countries with approved vaccination programmes) and eligible under-18s to return from non red list countries without needing to complete a pre-departure test (PDT) or a Day 8 test, or to enter a 10-day self-isolation period.

From later in October, eligible fully vaccinated passengers with an approved vaccine and recognised certificate from a country not on the red list will also be able to replace their Day 2 test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England.

The government says it wants to have this in place for when people return from school half-term breaks.

Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.

Non-vaccinated travellers

Travellers returning from a non red list country who are not fully vaccinated must take a pre-departure Covid-19 test in the three days before travelling to England.

They must also self isolate for 10 days (with the option to Test to Release on Day 5) and take Covid-19 tests on Day 2 and Day 8.

Red list country requirements

As far as red list countries are concerned, only UK or Irish nationals, or those with residency rights in the UK, will be able to enter the UK. They will be required, regardless of vaccination status, to:

  • take a pre-departure Covid-19 test – to be taken in the three days before travel
  • after arrival, quarantine in a managed hotel and take the required two Covid-19 tests on Day 2 and Day 8.

All arrivals from any overseas destination will still need to fill in a passenger locator form ahead of travel to the UK.

You can find any variations to the above rules issued by the UK government here, for ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

Grant Shapps MP, transport secretary, said the UK is expanding its recognised vaccination policy to a further 18 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Canada. The recognised vaccines are Pfizer BioNTech, Oxford AstraZeneca (including Covidshield), Moderna and Janssen (J&J).

This brings the total number of countries in scope of the policy to over 50. The government says more countries and territories will be added in the coming weeks.

Fully vaccinated residents in other countries not yet part of the inbound policy, as well as those partially vaccinated, will still have to take a pre-departure test, PCR tests for day 2 and day 8 after arrival, and self-isolate for 10 days, with the option to test to release after 5 days.

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22 September: Eight Countries Come Off Red List Of High-Risk Nations

Today (Weds 22 September) sees eight countries removed from the UK’s red list of destinations deemed high risk because of their Covid-19 status. These countries will now be on the amber list.

The move, announced last Friday by Grant Shapps MP, transport secretary, means travellers returning to England from Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya will no longer need to stay in a managed quarantine hotel for 10 days (11 nights).

The change took effect this morning at 4am.

Previously, returning travellers from these countries faced huge bills for a hotel package, which includes two Covid-19 tests on Day 2 and Day 8. The cost for an adult is £2,285 with additional adult (or child over 11) paying £1,430 and children aged 5 – 11 costing £325.

This was an effective deterrent for travel to popular holiday destinations such as Egypt and Turkey, and the change may result in an increase in trips this autumn, particular during half-term in October.

Travellers returning from amber list countries do not need to self-isolate at home if they have been fully vaccinated, although they must take a Covid test prior to departure and on day two of their return.

In addition to self-isolating for 10 days non-vaccinated travellers returning from an amber list country must take the above tests and a test on Day 8 of their return.

Anyone booking a foreign holiday should arrange their travel insurance as soon as possible to benefit from the cancellation element of their policy.

There are still over 50 countries on the UK government red list, and the requirement for quarantine in a managed facility remains in force for those returning to the UK from these destinations.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) maintains a separate list of countries where it advises against travel to particular destinations. As of 22 September, it is still advising against travel to the Maldives. This is significant because travelling against FCDO advice will usually invalidate travel insurance – even if the country concerned is not on the Department of Transport’s red list.

We await any further clarification on this apparent contradiction in the positions of the two departments.

Mr Shapps has also announced an overhaul of the government’s traffic light system, due to take effect on 4 October. See story below.

Additionally, he has tweeted today that the UK will be accepting UAE vaccination certificates from 4 October following updates to its vaccination app. He said: “As a major transport hub which is home to many British expats, this is great news for reopening international travel, boosting business & reuniting families.”


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20 September 2011: Families Give Thanks As US Reopens For International Travel In November

The United States will welcome UK and other foreign nationals who fly into the country from ‘early November’ – provided they have been fully vaccinated.

Restrictions will remain across the country’s land borders with Mexico and Canada.

The US has restricted entry to most foreign travellers since early 2020, but the latest move opens the prospect of family reunions in time for Thanksgiving on 25 November, as well as the holiday season in December.

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier today, Grants Shapps MP, transport secretary, said: “I can announce to the House today that vaccinated Brits will be allowed into the US from early November, reciprocating the policy we introduced this summer”

This included a pilot scheme whereby passengers who were fully vaccinated in the UK, in Europe and the US were allowed to travel to the UK from amber list countries (including the US) without the need to self-isolate or take a day 8 test after entry to the UK.

Mr Shapps added: “This is a testament to the hard work and progress made by the Expert Working Group, set up after the G7 summit, to restart transatlantic travel, the flagship route of international aviation.”

Anyone planning a trip to the US can get prices for travel insurance here.

The US Centers for Disease Control is expected to confirm shortly which vaccines will be recognised, as well as the precise date on which foreign visitors who have been satisfactorily vaccinated will be able to travel to the US. More details to follow when we have them.


20 September 2021: Govt Travel Rules Overhaul Sees Traffic Light System End On 4 October

In a series of tweets on Friday, Grant Shapps MP, transport secretary, announced changes to the rules governing international travel into the England for British citizens. These will see an end to pre-departure tests for fully-vaccinated travellers.

Those arriving in other UK nations will need to follow the rules issued by the respective devolved authorities (details will follow when we have them).

From 4 October, the government will maintain a red list of high-risk countries and move the rest of the world onto a single footing.

Mr Shapps tweeted: “From Monday 4 October, if you’re fully vaccinated, you won’t need a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non-red country and, from later in October, you will be able to replace the PCR test taken on Day 2 of your return with a cheaper lateral flow test.”

PCR tests can cost upwards of £70, while lateral flow tests cost around £30 per person – a still-significant amount, especially for families.

The government wants to have this system in place in time for holidaymakers returning after the upcoming school half-term break.

All passengers will still need to fill in a passenger locator form ahead of travel. Visit here to see the current requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers from green, amber and red countries.

Unvaccinated passengers returning from non-red countries from 4 October will still need to take pre-departure tests, Day 2 and Day 8 PCR tests during a 10-day period of self-isolation. Test to release on Day 5 remains an option to reduce the self-isolation period.

Mr Shapps also announced changes to the current red list, removing eight countries (Turkey, Pakistan, the Maldives, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Oman, Bangladesh and Kenya). The changes will take effect on Wednesday (22 September) at 4am.

A greater number of countries had been expected by some to come off the red list, but the removal from it of popular holiday destinations such as Turkey, the Maldives and Egypt will be welcomed ahead of school half-term.

Anyone with plans to travel in the coming weeks should make sure they have appropriate travel insurance for their chosen destination.

Signalling the dismantling of the often-controversial traffic light system of grading countries according to their perceived Covid risk, Mr Shapps tweeted: “We’ll also be introducing a new simplified system for international travel from Monday 4 October, replacing the current approach with a single red list and simplified measures for the rest of the world – striking the right balance to manage the public health risk as No.1 priority.”

From 4 October, the government is also extending the list of countries whose vaccination programmes will be seen as being on a par with that of the UK, meaning vaccinated travellers will not need a pre-departure test or a Day 8 test once in England, and they will not be required to self-isolate.

The 17 countries and territories include Japan and Singapore. See here for the full list of countries.


Wales to introduce vaccine passports in October

People in Wales will have to prove they’re either double vaccinated or don’t have Covid-19 in order to visit nightclubs and events from next month.

Mark Drakeford, Wales’ First Minister, made the announcement today, 17 September, citing rising Covid-19 case numbers over the summer. The new measures come into force from 1 October 1.

From that point, admission to the following events will require either a negative lateral flow test result from a test taken 48 hours prior to the event, or an NHS Covid Pass to prove you’ve had two doses of the vaccine:

  • Nightclubs
  • Indoor standing events for more than 500 people
  • Outdoor standing events for more than 4,000 people
  • Any event with more than 10,000 people

Double-vaccinated people can get an NHS Covid Pass via its dedicated app, or by visiting the Covid status website.


Govt to announce travel rules changes today

The government will set out changes to the coronavirus travel regime later today, it has been confirmed.

Grants Shapps MP, transport secretary, has tweeted: “I’ll set out measures to simplify international travel later today in order to reduce costs, take advantage of higher levels of vaccination, and keep us all safe.”

There is speculation that the amber level of the traffic light traffic regime might be removed, with countries designated either green or red. This may mean we see an end to the need for fully vaccinated travellers to take Covid-19 tests before departure for the UK and after arrival from a wider range of countries.

We’ll update with more information when we get it.


UPDATE 10 SEPTEMBER 2021 – Speculation mounts over future of traffic light scheme

According to media reports, the government may announce structural changes to its travel traffic light system as early as the middle of next week.

The system, which ranks countries as green, amber or red based on their incidence of Covid-19, has always been scheduled for review by 1 October. Assessing its continued merits ahead of this date would hopefully provide clarity about international travel opportunities, particularly testing and quarantine requirements.

Under the current regime, travellers returning to the UK from green list countries, and fully vaccinated travellers returning from amber list countries, are not required to enter quarantine, although they are required to take Covid-19 tests before setting off for the UK and on day two of their return. If a test returns a positive result, self-isolation is required.

Travel industry leaders say the cost of tests is deterring many people from booking holidays abroad. They hope any overhaul of the traffic light system would remove the need for testing if the destination country had a vaccination record on a par with that of the UK.

According to the BBC, the red list of countries where the government advises against travel in all but the most extreme circumstances, will be retained.

The government has commented to the effect that the system will be reviewed by 1 October, as planned.


UPDATE 26 AUGUST 2021 – Canada Among Seven Countries To Join Green List, Thailand to Red

At 4am on Monday 30 August 2021, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Switzerland and the Azores were added to the UK government’s green traffic-light travel list.

This means travellers returning to the UK from these locations will not need to quarantine, regardless of their vaccination status, unless they return a positive coronavirus test result on day 2 of their return. They will also need to take a test before their return flight and complete a passenger locater form.

If they test positive while still abroad, the government says they should not travel and should instead follow local protocols.

As of the same time and date, Thailand and Montenegro were added to the official red list. Passengers arriving in the UK from red list destinations need to isolate for 10 days in a managed quarantine facility and follow the necessary testing requirements.

The costs of staying in a quarantine ‘hotel’ can be found below, along with details of other requirements for traveller from various destinations.


UPDATE 8 AUGUST 2021 – Quarantine Rules Eased For France, European Countries Move to Green List

At-a-glance

  • Changes open up France for summer holidays
  • Cost of quarantine hotels hiked from 12 August

France has moved from amber plus to amber status on the government’s traffic light list for international travel, following changes that came into force at 4am. This means travellers who have received both doses of the NHS Covid vaccine returning to England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from France will no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days.

The authorities in Wales have yet to announce their decision on the matter.

Related: Travel Insurance For Amber Countries: What You Need To Know

Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway have also moved from amber to the green list.

India, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have moved from the red to the amber list, removing the need for double NHS-jabbed travellers to enter a government quarantine hotel for 10 days. Georgia, Mexico, La Reunion and Mayotte have been added to the red list.

Travellers from the UK to all destinations across the traffic light list are being urged to check the conditions and restrictions that may apply to those entering the country they are planning to visit.

The government is advising travellers returning from Spain, which is on the amber list, to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible. At the moment, the requirement allows returning travellers to take a lateral flow test, which is less expensive and returns faster results.

Hotel quarantine costs to increase

The government has also announced steep increases to the cost of staying in a quarantine hotel from 12 August onwards. This will affect those returning from red list countries.

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UPDATE 28 July 2021 – EU & US Double-Jabbed Travellers Get Green Light To Visit England

At-a-glance

  • Government eases restrictions to remove self-isolation requirement
  • UK residents still face restrictions on entering US
  • Travellers to certain European countries from UK may need to quarantine on arrival

The government has announced that travellers arriving in England from amber countries who have been fully vaccinated in the USA and Europe (EU Member States except France*, European Free Trade Association countries** and the European microstate countries of Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City) will not have to quarantine when entering England.

* Travellers who have been in France in the 10 days before arrival in England must still quarantine for 10 days after they arrive and take a COVID-19 test on or before day 2 and on or after day 8, even if you are fully vaccinated.

** Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

The change will take effect from 4am on Monday 2 August.

Travellers will still be required to take PCR Covid tests before setting off and on the second day after they arrive – the requirement to take a test on day 8 has been removed.

Those vaccinated in the US will also need to provide proof of US residency. Passengers from all countries travelling to the UK will be denied entry unless they have completed a passenger locator form.

We are awaiting announcements from the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland regarding their rules for inbound travellers from the EU and US.

Earlier this month, the US State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both advised against travel to the UK and said that those who insisted on travelling should only do so if double-vaccinated. The stated reason for this guidance was the rising number of cases in the UK.

With the number of cases in the UK now falling, it remains unclear whether the advice to US travellers will change.

At the moment, the US border is closed to travellers from the UK except for US citizens. Again, there is no indication that this is going to change in the immediate future, although the two governments are thought to be mulling the introduction of a travel corridor across the Atlantic.

Cruise controls lifted

The government has also confirmed that international cruise sailings are to restart from England from 2 August 2021, in line with Public Health England guidance. International cruise travel advice will be amended to encourage travellers to understand the risks associated with cruise travel and take personal responsibility for their own safety abroad.

The move follows the close monitoring of epidemiological evidence, gained through the restart of the domestic cruise industry earlier this year.

Some operators are insisting that passengers will only be able to take a cruise if they have received both doses of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination. For example, Saga says: “Our guidance is that all guests should be fully inoculated, which means you must have received both doses and waited for full immunity to take effect. Therefore, we will require all of our guests to have received both doses of the vaccine no later than 14 days prior to departure.”

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6 Tips To Exchange Currency Without Paying Huge Fees – Forbes Advisor


Editorial Note: Forbes Advisor may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.

Americans are getting ready to travel again as part of the pent-up consumer demand from the pandemic. If your next vacation is going to take you to another country, you may want to know how to get foreign currency without paying extra fees.

Undeniably, when traveling internationally, it’s important to watch out for currency exchange conversion fees, foreign transaction fees and other costs. Currency exchange rates are complicated and are constantly fluctuating as part of the everyday rush of global commerce. One bank, merchant or currency exchange location could give you a slightly better deal on currency exchange rates, just based on the daily ups and downs of the markets.

Of course, it can be easy to overspend in a foreign country. At least in part, this is because spending money in foreign currency may feel different. The prices at stores and restaurant menus may not feel as real as they do in U.S. dollars. It can also be exciting to see and use the colorful foreign banknotes and interesting coins that you may not experience in your everyday life. But, if you’re not careful, you could end up paying more than you bargained for.

In general, some methods of getting cash and making purchases will give you a better deal than others when you’re ready to take your next international trip. Here are a few tips and insights on how to enjoy your international travels while minimizing currency fees.

1. Get Cash at Your Bank Before Leaving the U.S.

One of the best ways to minimize currency exchange fees is to get some cash from your bank or credit union in the U.S. before you depart on your trip. Depending on which country (or countries) you’re visiting, most major U.S. banks will have foreign currency available to sell to you. For example, Wells Fargo offers 70 currencies for use in more than 100 countries, and Bank of America exchanges currencies for more than 100 countries.

You may be able to get currency in cash at your local bank branch, or order currency online or by phone to be delivered to your home. Depending on your bank, where you live and which country’s currency you need, some currencies may be available for same-day exchange. Other less frequently requested currencies could require a few days of advance notice or longer.

If you can plan ahead, there’s a good chance you can get cash at a more favorable exchange rate by dealing directly with your bank in the U.S. before you travel.

“Customers who order currency through their own bank can ensure the money they receive is authentic and that they have received the best, legal rate,” says John Sellers, rewards executive at Bank of America. “As these rates are constantly changing, Bank of America uses a variety of factors to determine its exchange rate—including market conditions and rates charged by other financial institutions,” he says.

Depending on where you do your banking and your overall relationship with them, you may qualify for special rewards or perks on foreign currency exchange.

“By ordering your currency in advance through your bank, you may also qualify for extra perks or benefits,” says Sellers. “For example, Bank of America Preferred Rewards members receive a discount of up to 2% on online and mobile foreign currency orders, plus free standard shipping,” he says.

2. Avoid Currency Exchange Kiosks at Airports

If you don’t have time to get cash at the bank before your trip, it can be tempting to get foreign currency at an airport kiosk or currency exchange counter. These places offer convenience, but their exchange rates are typically much less favorable than your bank at home.

For example, if you are traveling to the United Kingdom and your bank would have given you an exchange rate of £72 per $100, the airport kiosk may give you only £67 per $100, costing you extra money in the form of fewer pounds for your dollar. If you had made that exchange back at your home bank, you’d have an additional £5 in your pocket.

Airport kiosks may also charge higher fees, which sometimes are hidden within the poorer exchange rates they offer for converting your dollars to euros, pounds, pesos or another currency. If you are traveling on short notice and need some foreign currency in cash at the airport, then it could be worth paying the extra costs for the sake of convenience. If you can plan ahead, try to avoid airport kiosks and other exchange counters in heavily touristed areas—their business is based on charging extra for being a convenient, last-minute option.

3. Pay by Card, but Watch Out for Foreign Transaction Fees

Once you arrive at your destination country, you may choose to conserve your foreign currency cash and try to make payments with your credit or debit card as much as possible.

But this can pose another problem: foreign transaction fees. Depending on your bank and what card you have in your wallet, your credit card or debit card might charge a foreign transaction fee of up to 3% on every purchase in other countries.

This means that if you go out for dinner in London, Paris or Tokyo and spend the equivalent of $100 at the restaurant, your bank or card issuer will add an extra $3 fee to the cost of your meal. If you spend a total of $5,000 on a trip, and get charged a foreign transaction fee of 3% on every purchase, it would amount to $150 of extra charges.

How can you avoid foreign transaction fees? Do your research and read the fine print of your bank and credit card accounts before you travel. Call your bank and ask if they charge foreign transaction fees.

If you have time before your trip, you may want to open a new account with a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, especially if it’s a good travel rewards credit card.

4. Pay in the Local Currency to Avoid Currency Conversion Fees

Some merchants will let you choose whether you want to pay for your purchase in the local currency or U.S. dollars.

This doesn’t happen with every purchase. But sometimes, after swiping your card, the merchant will present you with a screen offering you an option: You can either pay the amount in the equivalent of U.S. dollars or pay in the local currency amount.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, you should always choose to pay in the local currency. If you choose to pay in dollars, you’ll be charged an extra currency conversion fee. You’ll also likely get a poor exchange rate. The merchant’s point of sale system may make it seem like it’s a convenient choice to pay in dollars instead of the local currency, but it will ultimately cost you more. Just pay in local currency when using your card.

5. Know Your ATM Fees and Limits

If you want to get cash from an ATM in another country, check to see if your bank has ATMs in your destination city—you may be able to avoid costly ATM fees. Keep in mind that your bank may charge you a fee for using an out-of-network ATM. That’s on top of any local fee being charged by the foreign ATM. The exchange rate that you get from a foreign ATM is likely to be a better deal overall than what you would get from an airport kiosk, but ATM fees can add up, so make sure you’re taking out enough cash to be worth the fee.

Check with your bank before your trip to ask about the daily ATM withdrawal limits on your account. If your daily withdrawal limit is currently set too low, consider asking your bank to raise that limit so you can withdraw what you need while traveling.

Keep in mind that some international ATMs limit you to a lower amount of cash withdrawals than your bank allows. Even if your daily withdrawal limit is $500, the foreign ATM network or bank may only permit you to withdraw $300 or $400. Plan ahead to make sure you have enough cash during your trip.

“Do a little research before you travel and see if your U.S. bank offers free or discounted international ATM withdrawals,” says Sellers. “This way, you’re minimizing your ATM fees while maximizing your cash out. This is also where ordering your foreign currency ahead of time can be beneficial, because it means cutting back on ATM visits, which could also reduce your incurred fees,” he says.

6. Use International Banking Apps

If you’re a frequent international traveler, consider using an international banking app to manage your money, such as TransferWise (now known as Wise), Revolut or others. These apps make it easier to transfer money between countries and hold accounts with multiple currencies.

For example, with a multiple currency account, you can keep some money in various currencies. It’s helpful if, for instance, you frequently travel to Canada or Mexico, or if you love to go on vacation in Spain every summer. This helps you avoid the volatility of currency exchange rates, since you’ll always have some money ready for your next trip.

Bottom Line

Before you plan your next exciting international trip, give some thought to how you’re going to get cash and how you want to pay for everyday purchases. Understanding currency exchange fees, foreign transaction fees, ATM withdrawal limits and other aspects of making payments in foreign currencies can help you save money, save time and enjoy your travels to the fullest.



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How To Get Cheap Travel Insurance – Forbes Advisor


Editorial Note: Forbes Advisor may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.

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Part of a trip to-do list can be purchasing travel insurance. A good travel insurance plan can help pay trip medical expenses, reimburse you for deposits lost if you have to cancel the tip and much more. But you don’t want the insurance purchase to break the bank.

The biggest price factors in travel insurance are the total trip cost, your age and the length of your trip. Travel insurance will often cost between 4% to 10% of the trip expenses you’re insuring.

Here’s some expert advice about finding cheap travel insurance that still has good coverage.

Be a Savvy Comparison Shopper

As with most insurance, comparing policies from multiple companies can potentially save you hundreds of dollars. Travel insurance policies often include most of the same benefits, but the price and coverage amounts can vary considerably from policy to policy, says Steven Benna, a spokesperson for Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison provider.

By using a travel insurance agent, you can get help identifying the coverage you want and then price-shopping the options.

Understand Exactly What Can be Insured

You can avoid overspending on a travel insurance plan by understanding exactly what you should insure, says Benna. For example, it’s important to understand that trip cancellation coverage will only reimburse you for prepaid and non-refundable trip expenses. So don’t buy coverage for the refundable parts of your trip, advises Benna.

For example, if you’ve booked a hotel for five nights for a total of $5,000, but the cancellation penalty is $1,000, you would insure the $1,000. You can’t make a travel insurance claim for amounts that are refundable.
Or, for example, you don’t need baggage coverage of $2,500 if you’re packing $200 worth of T-shirts and a swimsuit.

Avoid Unnecessary Coverage

Be cautious about buying upgrades that you likely don’t need.

For example, many travelers buy a “cancel for any reason” upgrade in addition to standard trip cancellation insurance. The upgrade gives you partial reimbursement for trip costs if you cancel for a reason not listed in the base policy—for example, canceling because you’ve had a falling out with your traveling companion.

“However, if your primary concern is covered by trip cancellation, such as canceling due to an illness or a family member’s illness, you can be covered without spending the additional money to add ‘cancel for any reason,” says Benna.

Consider Buying an Annual Travel Insurance Policy

If you’re taking one or two trips a year, buying travel insurance for each one makes sense. But if you’re planning multiple trips, buying a policy for each one gets inconvenient and expensive.

Annual travel insurance policies are primarily designed to provide travel medical insurance for multiple trips, and at a better overall price.

Check Your Credit Card’s Benefits

Your credit card may offer travel insurance as a built-in perk. The key here is that you must charge the entire trip on that credit card.

“This benefit can include some cancellation coverage for trip expenses paid for with that card, in addition to coverage for luggage,” says Benna. He points out that instead of paying for a travel insurance policy, you can save money by relying on a credit card’s cancellation benefits.

If your trip expenses exceed the credit card’s coverage limit, you can buy travel insurance for the remaining amount, notes Benna. This will make the policy less expensive than insuring the entire trip cost.

See the best credit cards for travel insurance benefits.

Value Should Be More Important Than Cost

Cost should not be the only factor when you’re buying travel insurance. A cheap travel insurance policy that lacks good benefits won’t pay off in the end.

“Shop for value,” says Lisa Cheng, a spokesperson for World Nomads, a travel insurance company. “Some plans are priced low for a reason—they could come with high deductibles and low benefit limits.”

For example, Cheng says, you could buy cheap travel insurance and find there’s only $5,000 for medical expenses when you have an $8,000 hospital bill from your trip. Comparison shop but don’t skimp on coverage that is important to you (such as trip cancellation or travel medical insurance).

For some people, medical coverage matters most, and baggage insurance is less important, especially if they’re not planning to pack anything valuable, Cheng says. This coverage is especially important if you’re traveling overseas, because U.S. health plans and Medicare may provide no coverage outside the U.S.

And if you’re booking a trip last-minute, trip cancellation may be less important.

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How Much To Tip Movers – Forbes Advisor


Editorial Note: Forbes Advisor may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.

When you hire movers, you’ll be given a price estimate that includes things like man hours, gas and transportation charges and material pricing. Whether you are choosing from the best moving companies or hoping to snag a cheap moving service, it’s important to know what to tip.

What likely won’t be included in the estimate? A tip. If gratuity hasn’t been added to the bill from your moving company, you may be unclear about how much to tip movers and whether or not it’s required. We’ll clear that up for you here.

Are You Required to Tip Movers?

In short, no. There is no industry standard for tipping. “Tipping is not required, but greatly appreciated by the movers,” says Hilary Reynolds with All My Sons Moving and Storage. But of course, the fact that it’s not required doesn’t mean you should brush it off without a second thought.

The average hourly salary for movers is only about $16. That’s not a lot considering all of the hard work that they do. “Movers are required to have strength, endurance and skills for the difficult pieces and planning involved,” says Thomas Trainor, founder of Relocation Concierge, a company that provides moving assessments and professional concierge services for relocations.

How Much Should You Tip Movers?

Each move is different, and as such, there are many factors at play when deciding how much to tip movers. If you’re moving across the street using a 2-person crew that takes only a few hours, your tip amount should be less than someone moving a five-bedroom house across the country.

However, Trainor suggests following a $6 to $12 per hour per mover rule of thumb, including the driver. Below, we’ve created a table to show what this might look like for your move, in case you’re wondering how much to tip movers.

Tip Amount for Each Mover

When to Tip and When Not To

No one wants to break the bank tipping movers (moving is expensive enough already), especially when they feel a good job wasn’t done or their movers weren’t overly agreeable. After all, tipping is a way to show your gratitude for a job well done. Here are a few situations where you might want to tip a little extra, or perhaps deduct a bit of money from your planned tip amount.

When to tip more:

  • When your movers have to handle oversized or particularly fragile items
  • When your movers are personable and kind
  • When your movers work quickly
  • When movers go above and beyond to help you set up and assemble certain items

When to tip less:

  • When your movers show up late or bring the wrong sized vehicle
  • When your movers seem to work deliberately slow, like overwrapping materials or moving inefficiently
  • When you have to do the brunt of the work yourself
  • When your movers mistreat or break your items

How to Tip Movers

So you know you’d like to tip your moving crew. How do you go about doing so? You have a few choices here, and it’s really up to you how you’d like to handle it. You could tip each mover, or you could simply hand your tip to the lead mover. (This is likely the person whom you’ve communicated with the most)

Trainor recommends tipping each mover individually at the end of each day to avoid the possibility of a dishonest lead mover. And for a multi-day move, Trainor says, “tipping only at the end could be complicated to split fairly” since you may have a slightly different moving crew each day. If you tip only at the end, a mover who isn’t working on the last day might be left out of the tip.

No matter how you decide to split it up, it’s crucial to have cash on hand when it comes to tipping. Unless your moving company includes gratuity on the bill they hand you, there’s no way to split up a tip that’s put on a credit card.

Should You Provide Food to Movers?

Moving often takes several hours, and there’s a good chance you will need to eat at some point during the process. But what about your movers? When thinking about how much to tip movers to show appreciation, another way to make them very happy is by feeding them.

While most moving crews will bring enough food and water to provide for themselves, providing food for them can only make things go that much more smoothly. “Movers appreciate it when a customer takes the time to offer them refreshments or snacks,” says Reynolds.

Pizza and subs are easy options, since it’s relatively inexpensive and most people enjoy it. As an alternative, you can simply offer your crew a few local options, or even provide a small cash stipend so they can find their own food.

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8 Strategies To Maximize Your Credit Card Rewards – Forbes Advisor


Editorial Note: Forbes Advisor may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.

Although large welcome bonuses can be rightfully enticing, they aren’t the only regular source of miles and points for people looking to save money on travel. Don’t make the mistake of leaving miles and points on the table from your everyday spending. In this post we’ll discuss strategies to help you maximize your credit card rewards. Small wins will add up and help you to travel more for less.

Start With an End in Mind

One of the most important things to do and something that people often forget is to set a travel goal. It cannot be emphasized enough: If you know where you want to go you can tailor a better plan for your points. The miles and points you need to earn to take a cross country trip aren’t necessarily the same currencies as what you would want to use to get to Europe.

After you set a travel goal, make sure you research what miles and points can help you to reach that goal. Flexible currencies like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards can help give you flexible options to help you meet your goals. There are many different ways to reach your travel goal—the important thing is to figure out which miles and points you’ll need to make it to your goal. The last thing you want is a large stash of miles and points that you struggle to make work with your plans.

Learn the Loyalty Programs Relevant to Your Goal

Once you’ve figured out what loyalty programs will help you achieve your goal, it’s important to familiarize yourself with those programs. Each and every program is different and will have quirks that might be beneficial or detrimental to your trip.

Figuring out the answers to these questions will help you understand how many miles and points you will need to make it to your travel goal. It’s not easy work, but the rewards are worth it. Once you know how many miles and points you need, you can get to earning as efficiently as possible.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are some questions you can research to get to know the loyalty programs you need better.

Questions for Airline Loyalty Programs

  • How much will the flight I want to take cost in miles?
  • Does the flight cost fluctuate depending on the time of year I’m flying?
  • Which airlines partner with this loyalty program?
  • Does the program offer earning boosts via spending or flights taken?

Questions for Hotel Loyalty Programs

  • Does the hotel chain have peak/off peak pricing?
  • Can I use any free night certificates towards my trip or will variable pricing mean they aren’t valid?
  • Does the program offer any free nights on bookings of a specific length?
  • Does the program waive resort fees on award bookings?
  • Are points and cash bookings an option?
  • Does a credit card I hold give me status with the program? Does that status confer benefits such as breakfast, upgrades or late checkout?

Questions for Transferable Points Programs

  • What value can I get for my points if I use them to pay for flights?
  • What transfer partners can I use to help get me to my destination?
  • What bonus categories does my card offer to help boost my earnings?

Use Credit Cards to Help You Reach Your Travel Goal

Once you’ve identified the loyalty programs that will help you reach your travel goal, you can apply for credit cards to help you meet those goals. Whether it’s the New United Quest℠ Card card, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card card or a flexible card like Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, knowing what miles and points you need should inform the cards that will help you get there. The welcome bonuses for these new credit cards should give you a solid head start.

Most importantly, knowing the points you need to reach your goal should help inform which credit cards you apply for. Don’t fall into the trap of wasting money and time on miles and points you don’t need, instead focus on your travel goal and earn the welcome bonuses that will get you there.

Tip: Make a spreadsheet tracking how much you need to spend on a credit card to earn the welcome bonus and the deadline for making that spend so you don’t miss out on a bonus.

Maximize Credit Card Category Bonuses in Your Everyday Spending

Outside of welcome bonuses, one of the easiest ways to earn miles and points is to maximize your credit card category bonuses. Most credit cards offer double, triple or even quintuple points in certain spend categories. For example, the American Express® Gold Card card offers 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar at restaurants, including takeout and delivery, 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1 point per dollar), 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express travel. All other eligible purchases earn 1 point per dollar. (Terms apply. See rates and fees). If you hold the card, make sure you maximize the category bonus by using the card for all your dining and supermarket purchases.

Some credit cards, like the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card card, allow you to choose a bonus category. That card lets you earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases. Cards with that kind of flexibility allow you to choose your own bonus categories which can make your points earning even more efficient.

Make sure you know what bonus categories each of your credit cards offer and try to earn bonus points whenever you can to get you to your travel goal even faster. You could even use stickers to help you remember which card to use at which venue.

Remember to Activate and Maximize Quarterly Bonus Categories

Certain credit cards, like the Chase Freedom Flex℠, offer rotating bonus categories. This requires some bookkeeping for you. You need to remember to activate these bonus categories every quarter. After you activate the bonus category, you also need to make sure you maximize the category for the quarter—without going over any limits. The Freedom Flex allows you to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in the bonus category each quarter. Make sure you stay organized so you don’t leave any miles and points on the table.

Tip: Set calendar reminders for yourself to remember to activate quarterly bonus categories.

Strategically Time Your Large Purchases

A corollary to maximizing bonus categories is strategically timing your large purchases. If you know you have some big ticket items coming up due to moving to situations like moving to a new house or the holidays you can time your purchases to help maximize your points. If you know you’re going to be spending thousands of dollars on new furniture in a few months, you might want to wait until then to apply for a new credit card. That way those dollars can be spent towards earning a welcome bonus (or two).

You can also strategically time your purchases to coincide with quarterly bonus categories. Let’s take the Chase Freedom Flex℠ as an example. In Q2 2021, home improvement stores were included in the 5% bonus category. If you were in the market for a new washer and dryer, it would have been good to wait until that quarter to purchase that item from Lowe’s or Home Depot. Once again, staying organized and knowing what bonus categories apply to which credit cards at what times can really help you to maximize your miles and points earnings.

Shop Through Portals to Earn Extra Miles

Another way to earn bonus miles and points is to utilize shopping portals when making purchases online. Most airline and bank rewards programs feature shopping portals. You create an account and then click through to the website where you want to make an online purchase. The shopping portal keeps a record of your purchase via a cookie and you earn bonus miles or points from the purchase. The trick is finding a shopping portal that offers you the most bonus points for the miles and points you’re looking for. Every bonus point counts so don’t leave points on the table by going directly to a retailer website—go through a shopping portal whenever you can.

Tip: Use Cashback Monitor to find the best shopping portal bonus.

Use a Dining Portal to Earn Bonus Miles When Dining

Many airline programs also have dining portals that allow you to earn bonus miles when dining at certain restaurants. You generally can only sign up for one of these dining portals at a time, but since you’re focused on a travel goal you should be able to sign up for a dining portal that will best help you reach that goal.

After linking a credit card to the dining portal, whenever you dine at a participating restaurant you will earn bonus points. You can either look up restaurants on the portal every time you want to go out to eat or just use the card linked to the portal every time you dine out. That way, if a restaurant is on the portal you’ll get the bonus points without even having to think about it. While you won’t earn a ton of miles and points this way, it’s still a nice way to top off your account.

Tip: Using a dining portal is an easy way to make sure your miles don’t expire—remember some programs require you to have activity every so often to avoid expiration.

Bottom Line

Having a clear travel goal for your miles and points will help you to maximize your miles and points earning. With efficiency and organization, you should be able to earn welcome bonuses and bonus points in the loyalty programs that will help you to meet your travel goal. Stay focused on your goal and you will be putting your hard earned miles and points to work in no time.

To view rates and fees for American Express® Gold Card please visit this page.



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Marriott Hotels Costing 50,000 Points or Fewer—Bonvoy Brilliant Credit Card Free Night Certificate – Forbes Advisor


Cardholders carrying the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card receive an annual Free Night Certificate on their card anniversary valid for a free night at hotels costing up to 50,000 points—this covers the majority of Marriott properties, including high-end hotels and hotels in otherwise expensive destinations.
We’ve selected some of the best options for cardholders looking to redeem their certificates this year in some of the most exciting of Marriott’s over 7,000 participating hotels. Here are some of our top picks.

The free night certificate offered through the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card can also be used to book our favorite Marriott hotels costing up to 35,000 points per night.

Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa

Located in North Malé Atoll, this 5-star family Resort & Spa offers its guests a luxury experience in the Maldives. Not only is it conveniently just 20 minutes away from the Velana International Airport, but it is also an optimal location for hundreds of outdoor activities along the stunning beaches and islands of the Maldives and close to the capital city of Malé. Rooms at this hotel often cost over $340 per night. During Standard dates, this hotel costs 50,000 Bonvoy points per night for a beach view room.

The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa is surrounded by a clear, turquoise lagoon, white sand beaches, and tall palms. Guests report loving the private plunge pools, full service spa treatments, overwater bungalows and a wide range of cuisine options among seven onsite restaurants and bars.

Home to over 40 world class diving points, North Malé Atoll is a must-visit spot on the map for anyone who enjoys water recreations such as scuba diving, snorkeling and jet skiing. Perhaps the most unique aspect of this particular resort is its “Adopt a Coral” program, which invites guests to participate in hands-on local coral planting activities at one of the largest manmade coral structures in the Maldives as part of an ongoing effort to promote and reclaim reef habitats.

JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach

This immaculate designer-appointed hotel accommodates guests with elegant interiors, 5-star amenities, and a sleek atmosphere that combines Singapore’s heritage with its more contemporary cosmopolitan style. Rooms typically start around $220 per night or can be booked for 50,000 Bonvoy points during Standard season dates.

Located in the downtown city center, the JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach places guests conveniently near popular attractions such as the National Stadium, National Gallery, the Central Business District and the many waterside activities at Marina Bay.

From the center of Singapore, a thriving city of business, art and culture, guests can venture out to visit exceptional cultural enclaves like the well-known Arab Street, Chinatown, the Esplanade Theatres designed after the local Durian fruit, and of course the iconic Gardens by the Bay park with its supertrees, cloudforest and giant flower dome.

San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

This stunning resort sits directly on the edge of Condado Beach, one of the many natural attractions of the city of San Juan. Cash rates typically start around $250 per night. Rooms can be booked for 50,000 points during Standard dates.

With a pool bar, spectacular ocean views, an onsite casino as well as multiple onsite dining options, guests indicate that the resort offers a full cultural experience of recreation and relaxation. For guests who want to explore beyond the Marriott, however, there are plenty of local activities.

Close to the hotel is the Old San Juan neighborhood, which exhibits charm in its timelessness. For more adventurous guests, the famous Camuy Caves, accessible from San Juan, offer one of the world’s largest cave networks, ready to be explored. And of course, one of only five known beaches in the world where guests can experience the unique phenomenon of bioluminescence is within driving distance from San Juan at Laguna Grande, on the eastern tip of the island.

JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai

One of the most innovative and unique cities in the modern world, Dubai displays impressive feats of human design, ready for exploration by all who find themselves there for any length of time. Room prices vary significantly here and can cost as little as $100 per night but can reach $450 per night or higher. Depending on the rates, it may or may not be a great use of the certificate. Point rates are 50,000 Bonvoy points during Standard dates.

The JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai’s structure inspires awe. Located within two towers in the city center, guests often show photos of breathtaking views from high above the city of both the metropolis itself and its surrounding coast. One of the tallest hotels in the world, the Marquis Hotel Dubai has impressed guests with a sense of luxury fit for royalty and offers a convenient location close to some of the most attractive aspects of the local culture.

Should guests wish to venture out from the eagle’s perch, the bustling Dubai Mall, along with the Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Opera are all just minutes away by foot or public transportation. The Dubai Water Canal, the expansive Jumeirah Beach and the Wild Wadi Waterpark also present attractive sightseeing opportunities nearby. Some of the city’s most unique cultural landmarks also offer nearby recreation: the Dubai Museum, the Jumeirah Mosque, the central City Walk and its Green Planet Biodome within.

W New Orleans – French Quarter

At the W Hotel New Orleans, guests can enjoy the proximity to all of the French Quarter’s most sought-after attractions, while relaxing into a quieter side of the neighborhood when needed. The surrounding cobblestone streets and traditional buildings add to the French Quarter experience, and the hotel itself offers design elements that both honor historical architecture while spicing things up with a contemporary spin. Cash rates are commonly over $250 per night with Standard award nights costing 50,000 Bonvoy points.

When not reclining in one of the hotel’s modern jazz or tarot-themed guest rooms, guests can enjoy public lounge areas, a fitness center, and even move outside to the picturesque courtyard pool nestled beneath large Southern Magnolia trees.

Beyond the hotel just up the road are Jackson Square and Bourbon Street, as well as a handful of fun museums such as the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum or Mardi Gras World. Along the cobbled streets are also a wide variety of bars and restaurants that offer quintessential French Quarter cuisine with live shows and authentic Creole recipes. And if the food, music, and art aren’t enough, New Orleans is also full of entertaining tours such as the Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours and the French Quarter Phantom Tours. Guests will never be bored while staying at the W Hotel New Orleans.

La Posada de Santa Fe, a Tribute Portfolio Resort & Spa

This Southwestern style Resort and Spa is one of New Mexico’s finest, and the only of its kind in downtown Santa Fe. For those looking to save points, this is an excellent Category 6 Hotel with room options available for as low as 35,000 points and Standard dates costing 50,000 points per night. Cash rates are regularly around $200 per night.

While at the hotel guests can retreat to spacious rooms with private patios, fireplaces, beautiful garden views and more. They can enjoy the hotel’s spa, fitness center, a choice of on-site restaurants, and an outdoor heated saline pool. The setting caters to relaxation while the location offers utmost convenience.

Only a couple blocks away from the historic Santa Fe Plaza, guests can quickly and easily explore and wander by foot through the sweet adobe corridors of the downtown area. Also accessible by foot is Santa Fe’s renowned Canyon Road, a winding half mile road lined with galleries and museums featuring some of New Mexico’s finest contemporary art.

In addition to the many galleries, shops and southwestern restaurants available near the plaza, Santa Fe boasts exceptional and unique cultural experiences such as the Georgia O’Keefe, the Museum of International Folk Art, as well as the Santa Fe Opera. The nearby mountains provide lovers of the outdoors a neverending network of hiking trails and peaceful ski opportunities. No matter what season you may find yourself in Santa Fe, the local nature and culture will always have something unique to offer.

The Ritz Carlton Atlanta

The Ritz Carlton Atlanta is an impressive mix of modern style and classic Southern comfort and hospitality. Located right in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the hotel offers its guests comfortable onsite amenities including exquisite private rooms with uplifting views of the city, sophisticated and tasteful lounge areas, as well as an inhouse bar and Southern steakhouse that also offers luxurious brunch experiences. Cash rates start around $230 per night with points redemptions on Standard nights costing 50,000 Bonvoy points.

Thanks to the MARTA public transit system, guests have easy access to the entirety of this iconic city the minute they step out of the hotel. Popular attractions like the Georgia Aquarium and the College Football Hall of Fame are just moments away. An exciting dive into Atlanta’s history can begin at the nearby Margaret Mitchell House, and for those looking for some wide open space there are 22 sprawling green acres close by at Centennial Olympic Park.

Atlanta is a fantastic mix of history and modern advancements in art and culture. Known as the Gateway to the New South, it is a lively, thriving urban center with something to offer for guests from around the globe.

The London EDITION

One of the most beloved cities of the Western world, London bustles as a vibrant hub for culture and industries across the board. Whether passing through for work or pleasure, anyone visiting this historical and progressive metropolis will want to see the sights. Cash rates start at $500 per night and can be booked for 50,000 Bonvoy points during Off-Peak dates.

The London Edition hotel is located in Soho, quite close to the beautiful and spacious Regent’s Park, the National Gallery, The British Museum, Oxford Circus, Covent Garden and the chic residential neighborhood of Marylebone. Guests report rooms to be quaint and cozy, with private balconies that offer breathtaking views of the city.

From the convenient placement of the hotel, guests can easily access nearby tube stops which lead to just about anywhere within London’s major zones, including the West End theatre district, the many museums and galleries along the River Thames and exciting surprises such as late night street markets and flower-filled alleyways. London offers a magical adventure and the London Edition hotel seems to offer an affordably luxurious sense of home-away-from-home.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Details

For members of Marriott Bonvoy, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card provides significant benefits to cardholders who can use them.

For an annual fee of $450, members not only receive a complimentary Free Night Certificate each account anniversary year valid at hotels costing up to 50,000 points, but also offers the opportunity to earn points and access to credits that can make the high annual fee worth paying.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant cardholders can receive up to $300 in statement credits each calendar year of membership, eligible for use at any participating Marriott Bonvoy hotel in the world. The card also provides complimentary Gold Elite status, along with 15 annual Elite Night Credits that can help users accelerate to Platinum Elite status or higher.

The card offers a welcome bonus:Earn 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Expires 5/12/2021. This card also earns 6 Bonvoy points per dollar spent at participating Marriott hotels, 3 Bonvoy points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants or on flights booked directly with the airline, and 2 Bonvoy points per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases. This card does not charge foreign transaction fees. (See rates & fees.)

Bottom Line

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card offers a major benefit: an annual free night certificate valid at Marriott hotels costing up to 50,000 Bonvoy points per night. This benefit alone can go a long way toward making the card’s high $450 annual fee worthwhile.

While this free night certificate does seem pretty sweet, most cardholders aren’t going to want to go stay at a hotel for just one night: Marriott expects that anyone visiting one if the higher end hotels will want to stay much, much longer. For those considering getting this card for the benefits, realize that the card is highly specific and won’t make sense for folks who don’t plan to visit Marriott properties for at least one or two stays per year.

While it won’t make sense for those who don’t ever stay at Marriott hotels, even only a few nights will reap rewards that may make the high annual fee worthwhile. Make no mistake, though: The card is more valuable for the benefits it provides than for actual spending.

To view rates and fees of Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant(TM) American Express® Card, please visit this page.



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