Fast breaking travel news and creative tour opportunities for senior travelers
What’s on the Travel News Menu Today?
June – July 2020
1. Looking for something upbeat for body, mind and soul to kick off our issue, read about the upcoming Camino Holy Year in 2021 … the perfect excuse to plan to sample of one nine routes to Spain’s Santiago de Compostela.
2. We’ve heard about forming our small family or friend “bubbles” during the pandemic, but countries are starting to team up selectively with fellow countries that have managed COVID-19 within their borders almost to a standstill. More bubbles will follow.
3. Small-ship expeditionary travel along the popular coastlines of British Columbia and the Alaska Panhandle just jumped a notch as a new luxury 200-passenger vessel launches just in time for the 2021 cruise season. You will be impressed.
4. Check out a series of witty tourism posters that will make you laugh while clearly broadcasting the message that now is not the time to visit the popular British destinations of Wales and Scotland.
5. During the pandemic, captive Asian elephants still consume 200 kg (440 lb) of food a day, posing a problem in Thailand and other Asian countries where elephant tourism is at a standstill or where they are living out their lives in humane sanctuaries. Read what is happening.
6. When we finally return to long haul flying, the challenges of feeling comfortable and healthy will remain the same. We remind travelers of three food categories to avoid to increase the odds of skipping off your flight instead of staggering off it!
7. And some final words from illustrious cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, that are profoundly relevant in this time of COVID-19 even though he died two years ago.
We invite you to check out our Feature Link of the Month and our latest Travel Product Reviews.
The Ultimate Camino Experience is Coming in 2021!
After weathering the traumas of a global pandemic, what better travel celebration could there be than the satisfaction of sampling Spain’s Camino de Santiago in 2021 during St James’ Holy Year or Xacobeo 2021? Traditionally, this event only happens when the Feast (Birthday) of St James, July 25, falls on a Sunday which means the Holy Year is celebrated only 14 times a century!
According to the Bible’s New Testament, James was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus; he is the patron saint of Spain. His remains are buried in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela to which millions of pilgrims from all over Europe and around the world have trod since the Middle Ages. During the Holy Year 2021, there is likely to be even more interest in choosing to walk, cycle or even horseback ride a piece of one of the Camino routes, and the limited accommodations will fill up along the most popular routes quite early. The active season for all but the hardiest of pilgrims is the beginning of June to the end of September.
At the end of one of several heavily-browsed Camino articles in our collection about a small-group nine-day walking tour to Santiago de Compostela, you will find listed six expert tour operators, some based in Spain and others in different parts of the world, all of which have a deep understanding of the Camino and keep its spirit alive and authentically-celebrated. Or you may wish to plan your own Camino as did the two senior Canadian women who walked across northern Spain from the Pyrenees Mountains to Santiago de Compostela and slept in hostels all along the way.
The Camino, no matter which route or style you choose, is arguably the best known and well-loved walking journey in the world and a popular choice for the older traveler who wants a uniquely memorable experience for the body, mind and soul. It is also a grand adventure … believe me, I know!
The Australia-New Zealand Travel “Bubble” Could Start in July
The coronavirus pandemic has caused some new words to enter our vocabulary, including “bubble” as a way of safely taking baby steps out of our social isolation by adding one family or small friend group as a “bubble” of contact. Now we are hearing the term used to describe a couple of countries, or small cluster of countries with a strong health record of combatting COVID-19 that feel safe to share holiday travels between them.
Talks between New Zealand and Australia are well advanced with a goal to start visiting each other’s countries as early as July, a distance of 2,000-plus kilometers/1,350-plus miles across the Tasman Sea. In 2019, more than 1.4 million Kiwis visited Australia, so this bubble will be a great kickstart to a longstanding relationship. “Our aim is to put forward a detailed set of recommendations that safely manage any health risks, while also allowing Kiwis and Australians to travel to each country without the need for a 14-day quarantine,” said Scott Tasker, co-chair of the Trans-Tasman Safe Border Group.
Another Reciprocal Tourism Bubble Opens Up! Norway and Denmark say they will open tourism between their two countries from 15 June but will maintain restrictions for Swedes. During the pandemic, Sweden did not impose a lockdown, unlike its Nordic neighbours, and its Covid-19 death toll – above 4,000 – is by far the highest in Scandinavia.
Food for Thought“Jobs fill your pocket. Adventures fill your soul.” Jaime Lyn Beatty
Looking for a New Way and a New Small-Ship Cruise Style to Explore the Coasts of British Columbia and Alaska in 2021?
Victory Cruise Lines (VCL), www.victorycruiselines.com, has announced its inaugural Alaska and British Columbia itineraries for the 2021 season, on board the 200-passenger Ocean Victory. Currently under construction, Victory Cruise Lines’ third vessel with a superyacht-like, state-of-the-art design invites guests to explore the breathtaking scenery and wildlife of Alaska and British Columbia on expert led excursions and small-ship, scenic cruising.
To ensure that the Ocean Victory showcases the very best of expedition cruising, VCL is working with California Polytechnic State University to include marine biologists, scientists and naturalists among its expedition team of 19 who will lead excursions, provide education lectures and act as a resource for all guests during each voyage.
Cruises in 2021 include the 12-day Northbound: Vancouver, B.C to Sitka, Alaska (departing May 21; June 11; July 2, 23; Aug. 13; Sept. 3); the 13-day Southbound: Sitka, Alaska to Vancouver, B.C. (departing May 31; June 21; July 12; Aug. 2, 23; Sept. 13) and the 12-day Hidden Coast: Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle, W.A., a one-time cruise departing Sept. 24.
Owned and operated by American Queen Steamboat Company, the 104.4m/341ft Ocean Victory will feature 93 suites, of which 68 will have balconies, nine with French balconies and 16 with panoramic windows. The vessel will carry a crew of 100 featuring a 2-to-1 guest to crew ratio.
Onboard venues include two restaurants, in addition to an open-deck dining area, piano bar, library, gym, heated outdoor pool, spa services and jacuzzi, plus observation and lecture lounges and a dedicated expedition and adventures launching platform.
Wales and Scotland Daring (and funny) “Stay Home” Tourism Messages
Yes, these are creative tongue-in-cheek travel posters that urge fellow Britons to stay away from Welsh and Scottish tourist hotspots even while some people flout lockdown rules. However, they are also an attention-grabbing way to motivate visitors from Europe and around the world to consider these destinations in the future!
An article in the UK’s Daily Mail, April 13, 2020, recounts how social media users have launched a light-hearted campaign to discourage travel with the #Don’tVisit challenge started on Twitter as a funny way of dissuading travel to popular places in Wales and Scotland. Online participants produced impressive posters in the style of vintage travel advertisements with such slogans as “When All Else Fails, Do Not Try Wales”, “Pack Up Your Troubles and Keep Them to Yourself … We’ll be Fine Without You”, “Ogmore-By-Sea … Riddled with Crabs”, or “You’ll be attacked by seagulls … DON’T RISK IT.” Check out this story and the delightful posters. They will raise your spirits tenfold!
An Elephant of a Dilemma in Thailand
If your family member ate 200 kg (440 lb) of food a day and you suddenly found yourself with no income to buy food, what would you do? Coronavirus in Thailand has certainly created an unexpected crisis for these big eaters.
I have always regarded elephant tourism in several Asian and South Asian countries as something to phase out as soon as possible, and I have tried to publicize elephant rescue and retirement centers and foundations that have been helping to achieve that goal. Progress has been made in recent years as many international tour operators and tourism organizations have removed inherently cruel elephant tourism from their itineraries, but this March 31 story from BBC News, illustrates how the Coronavirus is creating a life and death crisis for these highly intelligent animals.
It reports that there are still 4,000 captive elephants in Thailand many of which work in tourism. One thousand of those elephants are facing imminent starvation because their caretakers cannot afford to pay for their food while waiting until the tourism industry returns to life. These animals cannot be turned out to forage because there are few natural vegetation areas where they live. One elephant sanctuary founder from Northern Ireland reports having to drive for three hours a day to find enough grasses and corn stalks to feed her five rescued elephants. There is plenty more to this story in the BBC News article so you can see what a dilemma this is.
As part of its updated Animal Welfare Guidelines issued at the end of 2019, another strong initiative came from the United Kingdom with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) declaring that elephant rides and bathing with elephants are ‘unacceptable’ experiences for its operators and agents to promote. Click here to learn more.
I hope you will also read our inspiring Travel with a Challenge article about an international tour operator, Intrepid Travel, that is spearheading major initiatives to rescue tourism elephants and take care of them for life.
CheapOair Reveals What Foods to Avoid When Flying
There is quite enough to worry about with air travel as vacationers consider whether to fly or not to fly in the second half of 2020. To reduce the anxiety level in one important area of concern that really is controllable, CheapOair, the travel experience expert, wants consumers to ensure a journey free of bloating and discomfort.
Skip the Fast Food
The two culprits here are high trans-fats and oil. Additionally, salty fast food could lead to swelling in the hands and feet which is also aggravated by the high altitude. “This one’s tricky since any airport is packed to the brim with appetizing fast food options. Try to avoid anything fried or broiled. Grilled chicken and white rice are always good options to maintain gastric harmony during a trip,” says Tom Spagnola, Vice President of Supplier Relations at Fareportal.
Most travelers may think vegetables are a great thing to eat before a flight but there are several usual suspects that will have many people feeling a bit gassy before the plane leaves the tarmac. “While they are extremely healthy, cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts are all foods known to increase the amount of gas produced in the body and should be avoided while sitting for hours in a low-air pressured cabin,” remarks Spagnola.
Be Wary of Certain Beverages
Sugar and fizz are not the friends of anyone on a long flight. These two ingredients can expand the stomach and lead to extra bloat. It is also wise to avoid alcohol or at least drink it in extreme moderation because the relatively low humidity on flights can cause faster dehydration of the body. Water is always recommended as the number one way to stay hydrated on a flight.
CheapOair’s mission is to educate and aid consumers and travel professionals in both planning their travel accommodations and staying current on the most popular destinations. Thanks to its comprehensive travel trend monitoring, the online travel agency specializes in providing cheap flights and last-minute flight deals for travelers worldwide. For more information, visit www.CheapOair.com that lists over 600 airlines, a million hotels, and 100s of car rental companies.
A Message for our Time
Cosmologist and theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, wrote a final message to us all before he passed away on March 14, 2018. It is all the more profound and relevant in this time of COVID-19. Here is an excerpt:
“One of the great revelations of the Space Age has been the perspective it has given humanity on ourselves. When we see the Earth from space, we see ourselves as a whole. We see the unity, and not the divisions. It is such a simple image with a compelling message; one planet, one human race.
“We are here together and we need to live together with tolerance and respect. We must become Global Citizens. Our only boundaries are the way we see ourselves. The only borders, the way we see each other.
“Let us fight for every woman and every man to have the opportunity to live healthy, secure lives, full of opportunity and love.
“We are all time travelers, journeying together into the future. But let us work together to make that future a place we want to visit.
“Be brave, be determined, overcome the odds. It can be done.”