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Tourist slapped with $225k bill after simple mistake

<p>An American tourist has revealed the moment he was charged with a $US143k (AU$225k) bill after a short holiday to Switzerland. </p> <p>Rene Remund and his wife Linda went on the trip last September.</p> <p>Prior to their travels, Remund made sure to inform his mobile phone provider, T-Mobile, that he was going overseas and as a customer of 30 years, he was told he was “covered”.</p> <p>So, with no worries at all, the tourist shared photos of his moments in the Swiss countryside with friends and family via photo messages. </p> <p>Imagine his surprise when he came home to a six-figure bill, after he racked up thousands and thousands of dollars in daily roaming costs. </p> <p>“I get this T-Mobile bill and it doesn’t bother me very much because I was reading $143,” he explained, adding it wasn’t until he went to pay the bill that he realised a few more zeros were involved.</p> <p>“I look at the bill and I say, ‘excuse me’,” he said.</p> <p>“$143,000 … are you guys crazy?”</p> <p>According to the bill, Remund had racked up 9.5 gigabytes of data while in Europe, which cost him thousands of dollars each day. While it wasn't a huge amount of data, not being covered by roaming fees will cause a user to run up a huge bill very quickly. </p> <p>“I called [T-Mobile] and the girl put me on hold for a while,” he explained.</p> <p>“She said let me check this out and I’ll get back to you. She gets back and says, yeah this is a good bill.</p> <p>“I said, ‘what do you mean it’s a good bill?’ And she says ‘well, this is what you owe’.</p> <p>“I said ‘you’re kidding me … you’re crazy’.”</p> <p>After confirming that his bill was in fact  AU$225,000, Remund hired a lawyer to argue the fact that he was covered for international roaming. </p> <p>His lawyer issued a letter to the president of T-Mobile, and they only received a reply a few days ago. </p> <p>The letter from T-Mobile allegedly said that the service provider was “sorry” for the charges, and that Remund would receive a “credit” to eliminate the entire bill. </p> <p>In an email shared to local media <em>Scripps News Tampa</em>, the mobile phone provider said that customers should always “check the travel features of their plan, such as international data roaming, before departing”.</p> <p>“If a customer is on an older plan that doesn’t include international roaming for data and calling, they’ll need to make sure they’re using aeroplane mode and wi-fi when using data to be certain the device doesn’t connect to an international network.”</p> <p><em style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; background-color: #ffffff; outline: none !important;">Images: ABC Action News</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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"Big one for shenanigans": Aussie larrikin paddles a giant pumpkin down a river

<p>In potentially the most Aussie story ever and a suspected world first, one bloke has pinched his mate's award-winning pumpkin to turn into a paddle boat and sail down the Tumut River. </p> <p>The enormous pumpkin was grown by farmer Mark Peacock, who grew the vegetable to a whopping 407kg and would regularly post updates on the gourd's growing progress on Facebook. </p> <p>The pumpkin even earned a fitting name, Tormund after a character in Game of Thrones, and was used to feed his livestock.</p> <p>After the pumpkin had served its purpose, Peacock's friend and local canoe club commodore Adam Farquharson saw a once in a lifetime opportunity. </p> <p>Sporting a sailor hat and pipe, he navigated the hollowed-out pumpkin, dubbed ‘Cinderella’, down the Tumut River in New South Wales’ Riverina region, much to the amusement of bystanders.</p> <p>“Barry Humphries said that he’s a big fan of the unnecessary, and I am too. I’m a big one for shenanigans,” he told <em><a title="www.abc.net.au" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-16/man-turns-mammoth-400kg-pumpkin-into-a-canoe/103708438">ABC Riverena</a></em><a title="www.abc.net.au" href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-16/man-turns-mammoth-400kg-pumpkin-into-a-canoe/103708438">.</a></p> <p>While initially surprised by Farquharson’s antics, Mr Peacock acknowledged that it was characteristic of his friend’s sense of humour to do something out of the ordinary to make people smile. </p> <p>“He’s really hilarious. But he’s random, occasionally,” he said.</p> <p>“I intentionally grew this as a family project and then started doing Facebook updates every week.”</p> <p>For Mr Farquharson, the voyage was simply about enjoying himself and giving locals an opportunity for a laugh. </p> <p>Farquharson joked about potential future exploits but remained grounded about his brief moment of fame as “Popeye the Pumpkin Man.” </p> <p>“I think the worldwide fame will wear off pretty soon. I won’t end up like Taylor Swift. I’ll just get back to life as normal,” he said.</p> <p>Reflecting on the unusual journey, Mr Farquharson humorously considered preserving the pumpkin as a national curiosity by placing it on a pedestal among Australian sporting royalty. </p> <p>“It was a sad moment. I did jokingly say to my wife that I should petition the prime minister to have it preserved and put next to Phar Lap’s heart at the National Museum,” he told the <em>ABC</em>.</p> <p>“She thought I was an idiot.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Best cities to discover on foot revealed

<p dir="ltr">When it comes to travelling and exploring new places, there is no better way to experience everything a new city has to offer than just by walking around. </p> <p dir="ltr">By keeping on your feet rather than using public transport, you get the chance to explore more hidden corners of your destination and truly soak up the new culture, all while getting your steps in. </p> <p dir="ltr">That being said, there are definitely some cities that are easier to traverse on foot than others. </p> <p dir="ltr">But now, one company has put in the hard work to determine the 100 best cities around the world for travellers who want to walk their way to new experiences. </p> <p dir="ltr"><a href="https://www.guruwalk.com/">GuruWalk</a>, a company that offers free walking tours worldwide, has compiled the list based on booking and search data for 800 cities across 120 countries. </p> <p dir="ltr">In terms of countries as a whole, Spain topped the list with 28 cities appearing in the top 100, while Rome, Italy took out the top spot for most walkable city. </p> <p dir="ltr">Rome’s walkability is largely due to the location of the tourist hotspots, with the world-class attractions all located close to each other. </p> <p dir="ltr">GuruWalk comments, “The sheer number of monuments it hosts sometimes causes tourists to not even know where to start.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“So it’s not surprising that Rome hosts more guided tours than any other place.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Check out the entire top ten list below. </p> <p dir="ltr">10. Porto, Portugal </p> <p dir="ltr">9. London, England </p> <p dir="ltr">8. Amsterdam, The Netherlands</p> <p dir="ltr">7. Prague, Czech Republic</p> <p dir="ltr">6. Lisbon, Portugal </p> <p dir="ltr">5. Florence, Italy </p> <p dir="ltr">4. Madrid, Spain</p> <p dir="ltr">3. Barcelona, Spain</p> <p dir="ltr">2. Budapest, Hungary</p> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">1. Rome, Italy</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p> </p>

International Travel

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The most boring tourist attractions in the world revealed

<p>Nobody wants waste their time and energy visiting a boring attraction while travelling, so a new study has analysed 66.7 million Google reviews and compiled a list of the top 100 most boring attractions across the globe so you can enjoy a holiday free from the mundane. </p> <p>The study conducted by Solitaired, was based on 3,290 popular tourist attractions worldwide spanning 384 cities across 71 different countries. </p> <p>A boredom score was calculated for each site, based on 11 keywords indicative of tiresome, lifeless and boring impressions. </p> <p>At the top of the list was Branson Scenic Railway in Missouri, with a boredom score of five out of five. The heritage railroad departs from an old depot in downtown Branson and travels through part of the Ozark Mountains on a 40-mile round trip. </p> <p>While some praised the beautiful foliage, others were unimpressed by the views "limited to trees on both sides of the train." </p> <p>Illuminarium Atlanta, in Georgia U.S. came in second place, with a boredom score of 4.5, with one reviewer saying that it was "cool for about the first 15 minutes" and "after that… just boring." </p> <p>In third place is Tennessee's Jurassic Jungle Boat Ride, an indoor attraction that takes visitors through a river passing artificial cave sets, waterfalls and mechanical dinosaurs, which scored 3.7 on the boredom scale. </p> <p>Australia's least interesting attraction, which came in 16th on the list and scored 2.5 on the boredom scale, is the WA Museum Boola Bardip in Perth, which tells stories of WA through interactive exhibits. </p> <p>This is followed by the Legoland Discovery Centre in Melbourne, which ranked 24th on the list and had a score of 2.3</p> <p>The Museum of Sydney came in 32nd place, with a score of 2.2, while the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, New Zealand came in 54th place with a score of 2.1. </p> <p>Check out the full list <a href="https://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-13310853/Most-boring-attractions-world-Shrek-Adventure-London.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

International Travel

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Brothers' epic journey across Australia to raise money for cancer

<p>Brothers Stefan and Lachlan Lamble have firsthand experience on how devastating cancer can be.</p> <p>The brothers, both in their 20s, lost their grandmother to breast cancer eight years ago, and recently had their other grandmother pull through a difficult cancer battle. </p> <p>After being inspired by their family's hardships, the Lamble brothers have set out on an epic adventure to cross Australia by foot in just 100 days. </p> <p>Stefan and Lachlan began their journey in Perth in February, and have spent 66 days so far battling difficult conditions while pushing their bodies to the limit. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C5fNETERB0s/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C5fNETERB0s/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Lambros (@lambrosarmy)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The pair are just days away from reaching Adelaide, and have had some trying times on their momentous journey so far. </p> <p>"One day reached 46 degrees and the soles of our shoes literally melted," Lachlan told <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/brothers-tackle-momentous-100day-cross-country-challenge-for-cancer-research/bcf7f2f5-482a-4ef3-9ca2-f4a0412beed9" target="_blank" rel="noopener">9News</a>. </p> <p>Their unwavering commitment to raising money for cancer research has garnered widespread support, with a legion of fans across the country cheering them on. </p> <p>"It gives us a bit of hope that there might be some new research, and that's all we can really hope for," she said.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C5z-9LaJtqS/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/reel/C5z-9LaJtqS/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by 9News (@9news)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>The brothers aimed to raise $100,000 before they reach their final destination of Melbourne, but with the help of their dedicated supports, they reached their financial goal just after their halfway mark. </p> <p>Now, the brothers have their sights set on a new goal: $1 million before the end of the year. </p> <p>"We are doing it for everyone back home that has been impacted by cancer, so please find it in your hearts to donate at <a href="https://www.acrf.com.au" target="_blank" rel="noopener">ACRF</a> (Australian Cancer Research Foundation)," Stefan said.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Nine News</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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Elephant tourism often involves cruelty – here are steps toward more humane, animal-friendly excursions

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-szydlowski-1495781">Michelle Szydlowski</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/miami-university-1934">Miami University</a></em></p> <p>Suju Kali is a 50-year-old elephant in Nepal who has been carrying tourists for over 30 years. Like many elephants I encounter through my <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/10888705.2022.2028628">research</a>, Suju Kali exhibits anxiety and can be aggressive toward strangers. She suffers from emotional trauma as a result of prolonged, commercial human contact.</p> <p>Like Suju Kali, many animals are trapped within the tourism industry. Some venues have no oversight and little concern for animal or tourist safety. Between 120,000 and 340,000 animals are used globally in a variety of wildlife tourism attractions, including <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0138939">endangered species</a> like elephants. Over a quarter of the world’s <a href="https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/7140/45818198">endangered elephants</a> reside in captivity with little oversight.</p> <p>Wildlife tourism – which involves viewing wildlife such as primates or birds in conservation areas, feeding or touching captive or “rehabilitated” wildlife in facilities, and bathing or riding animals like elephants – is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/14724049.2022.2156523">tricky business</a>. I know this because I am <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=YbweA2MAAAAJ&amp;hl=en">a researcher studying human relationships with elephants</a> in both tourism and conservation settings within Southeast Asia.</p> <p>These types of experiences have long been an <a href="https://kathmandupost.com/money/2021/06/17/tourism-is-nepal-s-fourth-largest-industry-by-employment-study">extremely popular and profitable</a> part of the <a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002074">tourism market</a>. But now, many travel-related organizations are urging people not to participate in, or <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2018/04/27/animal-welfare-travelers-how-enjoy-wildlife-without-harming/544938002/">calling for an outright ban on, interactive wildlife experiences</a>.</p> <p>Tourism vendors have started marketing more “ethical options” for consumers. Some are attempting to truly improve the health and welfare of wildlife, and some are transitioning captive wildlife into touch-free, non-riding or lower-stress environments. In other places, organizations are attempting to <a href="https://www.fao.org/documents/card/es/c/b2c5dad0-b9b9-5a3d-a720-20bf3b9f0dc2/">implement standards of care</a> or create manuals that outline good practices for animal husbandry.</p> <p>This marketing, academics argue, is often simply “<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2017.11.007">greenwashing</a>,” <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13683500.2023.2280704">applying marketing labels to make consumers feel better</a> about their choices without making any real changes. Worse, research shows that some programs marketing themselves as ethical tourism may instead be widening economic gaps and harming both humans and other species that they are meant to protect.</p> <h2>No quick fix</h2> <p>For example, rather than tourist dollars trickling down to local struggling families as intended by local governments, many tourism venues are owned by nonresidents, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/japfcsc.v2i1.26746">meaning the profits do not stay in the area</a>. Likewise, only a small number of residents can afford to own tourism venues, and venues do not provide employment for locals from lower income groups.</p> <p>This economic gap is especially obvious in Nepalese elephant stables: Venue owners continue to make money off elephants, while elephant caregivers continue to work 17 hours a day for about US$21 a month; tourists are led to believe they are “<a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/book/10.1079/9781800624498.0000">promoting sustainability</a>.”</p> <p>Yet, there are no easy answers, especially for elephants working in tourism. Moving them to sanctuaries is difficult because with no governmental or global welfare oversight, elephants may end up in worse conditions.</p> <p>Many kindhearted souls who want to “help” elephants know little about their biology and mental health needs, or what it takes to keep them healthy. Also, feeding large animals like Suju Kali is pricey, <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/ani14010171">costing around $19,000 yearly</a>. So without profits from riding or other income, owners – or would-be rescuers – can’t maintain elephants. Releasing captive elephants to the jungle is not a choice – many have never learned to live in the wild, so they cannot survive on their own.</p> <h2>Hurting local people</h2> <p>Part of the problem lies with governments, as many have marketed tourism as a way to fund conservation projects. For example in Nepal, a percentage of ticket sales from elephant rides are given to community groups to use for forest preservation and support for local families.</p> <p>Increasing demand for <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Tourism-and-Animal-Ethics/Fennell/p/book/9781032431826">wildlife-based tourism</a> may increase traffic in the area and thus put pressure on local governments to further limit local people’s access to forest resources.</p> <p>This may also lead to <a href="https://www.worldanimalprotection.org/latest/news/un-world-tourism-organisation-urged-create-better-future-animals/">increased demands on local communities</a>, as was the case in Nepal. In the 1970s, the Nepalese government removed local people from their lands in what is now Chitwan National Park as part of increasing “conservation efforts” and changed the protected area’s boundaries. Indigenous “Tharu,” or people of the forest, were forced to abandon their villages and land. While some were offered access to “buffer zones” in the 1990s, many remain poor and landless today.</p> <p>In addition, more and more desirable land surrounding conservation areas in Nepal is being developed for tourist-based businesses such as hotels, restaurants and shops, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.3126/japfcsc.v2i1.26746">pushing local poor people farther away</a> from central village areas and the associated tourism income.</p> <p>Some activists would like humans to simply release all wildlife back into the wild, but <a href="https://www.cabidigitallibrary.org/doi/book/10.1079/9781800624498.0000">there are multiple issues</a> with that. Elephant habitats throughout Southeast Asia have been transformed into croplands, cities or train tracks for human use. Other problems arise from the fact that tourism elephants have <a href="https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315457413">never learned</a> how to be elephants in their natural elements, as they were <a href="https://www.pugetsound.edu/sites/default/files/file/8342_Journal%20of%20Tourism%20%282009%29_0.pdf">separated from their herds</a> at an early age.</p> <p>So tourism may be vital to providing food, care and shelter to captive elephants for the rest of their lives and providing jobs for those who really need them. Because elephants can live beyond 60 years, this can be a large commitment.</p> <h2>How to be an ethical tourist</h2> <p>To protect elephants, tourists should check out reviews and photos from any venue they want to visit, and look for clues that animal welfare might be impacted, such as tourists allowed to feed, hold or ride captive wildlife animals. Look for healthy animals, which means doing research on what “healthy” animals of that species should look like.</p> <p>If a venue lists no-touch demonstrations – “unnatural” behaviors that don’t mimic what an elephant might do of their own accord, such as sitting on a ball or riding a bike, or other performances – remember that the behind-the-scenes training used to achieve these behaviors can be <a href="https://doi.org/10.21832/9781845415051-014">violent, traumatic or coercive</a>.</p> <p>Another way to help people and elephant is to to use small, local companies to book your adventures in your area of interest, rather than paying large, international tourism agencies. Look for locally owned hotels, and wait to book excursions until you arrive so you can use local service providers. Book homestay programs and attend cultural events led by community members; talk to tourists and locals you meet in the target town to get their opinions, and use local guides who provide wildlife viewing opportunities <a href="https://nepaldynamicecotours.com/">while maintaining distance from animals</a>.</p> <p>Or tourists can ask to visit <a href="https://www.americanhumane.org/press-release/global-humane-launches-humane-tourism-certification-program/">venues that are certified</a> by international humane animal organizations and that <a href="https://www.su4e.org/">do not allow contact</a> with wildlife. Or they can opt for guided hikes, canoe or kayak experiences, and other environmentally friendly options.</p> <p>While these suggestions will not guarantee that your excursion is animal-friendly, they will help decrease your impact on wildlife, support local families and encourage venues to stop using elephants as entertainment. Those are good first steps.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219792/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michelle-szydlowski-1495781">Michelle Szydlowski</a>, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Project Dragonfly, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/miami-university-1934">Miami University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/elephant-tourism-often-involves-cruelty-here-are-steps-toward-more-humane-animal-friendly-excursions-219792">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Tips

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Olympic flame is lit at birthplace of ancient games

<p>The flame for the 2024 Paris Olympics was lit on Tuesday at the site of the ancient games in Ancient Olympia, southern Greece. </p> <p>Despite the gloomy weather which prevented the traditional lighting<span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">- which involves an ancient Greek priestess using the sun to ignite the torch after offering a prayer to Apollo, the ancient Greek sun god - actress Mary Mina, used a back up flame to kickstart the epic torch relay. </span></p> <p><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Normally, the </span>group of priestesses would use a parabolic mirror to light the torch using the sun's rays, but because of the cloudy skies, they had to use a back up flame that was kept in a copy of an ancient Greek pot and lit on the same spot during their final rehearsals on Monday. </p> <p>International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said the flame lighting combined "a pilgrimage to our past in ancient Olympia, and an act of faith in our future."</p> <p>A relay of torchbearers will carry the flame along a 5,000-kilometre route through Greece, including several islands, until the handover to Paris Games organisers in Athens on April 26.</p> <p>"In these difficult times ... with wars and conflicts on the rise, people are fed up with all the hate, the aggression and negative news," Bach said. </p> <p>"We are longing for something which brings us together; something that is unifying; something that gives us hope."</p> <p>Thousands of spectators from all over the world packed Olympia for the event, amid the ruins of temples and sports grounds where the ancient games were held from 776 BC - 393 AD.</p> <p>The first torchbearer was Greek rower Stefanos Douskos, who was a gold medalist in 2021, followed by Laure Manaudou, a French swimmer who won three medals at Athens in 2004. </p> <p>Manaudou then handed it over to a Greek senior European Union official, Margaritis Schinas. </p> <p>From Greece, the Olympic flame will travel from Athens' port of Piraeus on the Belem, a French three-masted sailing ship built in 1896 - the year that the first modern games began in Athens. </p> <p>On May 8, it's due in the southern French port of Marseille, a city founded by Greek colonists around 2600 years ago. </p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

International Travel

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The worst country for pickpockets revealed

<p dir="ltr">When it comes to travelling abroad, there are always different rules to abide by in order to have a stress-free holiday experience. </p> <p dir="ltr">Common sense is a huge key player in staying safe while travelling, with holiday goers often taking extra precautions to keep themselves and their belongings safe in foreign countries. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, there will always be sneaky people who prey on tourists, with these pickpockets having the power to turn a holiday potentially disastrous. </p> <p dir="ltr">While lots of savvy travellers will share their stories about a particular city and a close call they encountered on their journeys, a new survey has proven which European cities are the worst for pickpocketing. </p> <p dir="ltr">Travel insurance experts at <a href="https://www.quotezone.co.uk/presszone/european-pickpocketing-index-top-tourist-destinations-to-watch-out-for">Quotezone</a> have compiled a list of the top 10 cities tourists (as well as locals) are likely to be pickpocketed while travelling around Europe, based on customer feedback and complaints. </p> <p dir="ltr">Italy has come in at the top spot, with the major cities reporting the biggest number of theft complaints in comparison to any other European countries. </p> <p dir="ltr">Tourists named hotspots such as the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon in Rome, as well as the Duomo di Milano in Milan and the Gallerie Degli Uffizi in Florence as places they were targeted by pickpockets. </p> <p dir="ltr">Coming in at second place was France, with major tourist hotspots in Paris all being named as places to be wary of pickpockets. </p> <p dir="ltr">Greg Wilson, Founder and CEO of Quotezone.co.uk, said that unfortunately this new research shows that thousands of people have complained about pickpockets in Europe while experiencing the best that European holiday destinations have to offer.</p> <p dir="ltr">He said, “Theft can happen anywhere and tourist hotspots are convenient places for criminals to target holidaymakers’ wallets and purses whilst they are busy taking in the sites.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It is essential always to remain vigilant, leave valuables, like expensive jewellery, in a safe in the hotel and always travel with a secure cross-body bag with zips to secure phones and wallets or even a money belt.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Check out the entire top ten list of destinations with the highest pickpocketing rates below. </p> <p dir="ltr">10. Poland</p> <p dir="ltr">9. Ireland </p> <p dir="ltr">8. Turkey </p> <p dir="ltr">7. Portugal </p> <p dir="ltr">6. Spain </p> <p dir="ltr">5. Greece</p> <p dir="ltr">4. Germany</p> <p dir="ltr">3. The Netherlands </p> <p dir="ltr">2. France </p> <p dir="ltr" role="presentation">1. Italy</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

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The unique travel hack that is guaranteed to help beat jet lag

<p dir="ltr">Experts have revealed how to beat jet lag on your next overseas holiday, and it all comes down to your modes of transport. </p> <p dir="ltr">Sleep researchers said it's good news for cruise lovers, as exposure to sea air and bright natural light improves sleep to cure the annoying condition quickly.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some experts say to avoid travelling by plane all together, and always opt for cruising holidays instead. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, if you have to travel to your cruise by plane, being on board is a great way to tackle the dreadful feeling, compared with holidaying on land, Panache Cruises said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Dr Lindsay Browning, expert at Trouble Sleeping said exposing yourself to bright lights at the right time after a long-haul flight is one of the most powerful things we can do to boost and help shift circadian rhythm, and being on a ship is the perfect place for that.</p> <p dir="ltr">"As a general rule, you want to get lots of bright light exposure during the daytime and avoid light at night," Browning said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"When travelling on a cruise ship, you will naturally get a lot of bright light exposure during the day, helping your circadian rhythm.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"Further, when travelling by ship you will have a cabin with a proper bed and curtain, enabling you to sleep at night when you want to."</p> <p dir="ltr">The company claimed research showed how prolonged exposure to sea air can improve blood oxygen levels, boost vitamin D, and improve breathing leading to higher-quality sleep, helping to rid travellers of pesky jet lag so they can enjoy their holidays. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Travel Tips

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Flight attendant reveals how to score a free upgrade

<p dir="ltr">A flight attendant has shared her number one trick for securing an upgrade on your next plane journey. </p> <p dir="ltr">American flight attendant Cierra Mistt revealed the one question you should ask at check-in to score an upgrade to first class, with the hack working almost every time.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mistt started her now-viral video by saying her hack to get a free upgrade was top secret. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Let’s look at the big picture. Everyone is flying right now, and no one is more excited about that than commercial airlines,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The majority of airlines are overbooking every single flight they have.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It comes from the last month of me trying to get home and not even being able to get on standby because every single flight has been oversold,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I am not talking about one or two seats. I am talking about 10-30 seats that have been oversold.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mistt said this overselling of flights presents an opportunity to travellers.</p> <p dir="ltr">“If everyone does show up, including the extra passengers that were oversold their tickets, the airlines have no choice but to financially compensate,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The flight attendant shared that airlines “normally start off with vouchers for $500 or something”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Normally they say a voucher but you can ask for it in cash,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Depending on the flight and how desperate they are, they will go up to, like three, four, five thousand dollars.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is where the free upgrades come in.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Mistt said not only could you ask for a free upgrade in such circumstances, but you could “also ask for other incentives”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“For example, drinks, dinners, breakfast, even a hotel if you have to stay overnight until the next flight,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And, yes, you can also ask to be upgraded to first class.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Her video received more than a million views, with people praising the hack and sharing how it has worked for them. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I got upgraded to first class by doing this,” said one person. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: TikTok / Getty Images </em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Tips

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"Height of selfishness": Photo at iconic beach sparks debate over etiquette

<p>A photo taken at Bronte Beach has sparked the age old debate over whether picnickers should be allowed to reserve picnic tables by dumping their stuff on them. </p> <p>The image taken at one of Sydney's most popular beaches, showed two picnic tables under the same hut with table clothes and bags on them, but there was no human in sight. </p> <p>“There were at least half a dozen of these tables ‘reserved’ for a couple of hours on Sunday morning from very early in the day,” one annoyed beachgoer wrote on Reddit. </p> <p>“We got there at 7am and left a few hours later. No one was using the tables the entire time we were there.”</p> <p>The post has received hundreds of comments from other annoyed picnickers, with one going as far as calling it "unAustralian". </p> <p>“It's not acceptable,” one person said. “You can reserve it by sitting there yourself, but not by leaving an item.”</p> <p>“Yes, you should be actually using it, not leaving your s**t on there to reserve it for later,” another added. </p> <p>“It's the height of selfishness.”</p> <p>“Move their stuff, move yourself in, and say, ‘it was like this when I got here’,” one commenter suggested. </p> <p>“All I see is a free tablecloth and free bag,” another quipped. </p> <p>However, a few others pointed out that there were other available seats, and that there are unspoken rules around reserving picnic spots. </p> <p>"In this instance, it’s probably okay,” one wrote. “The back table is free, go grab it.”</p> <p>"As long as there’s people there minding the tables, not just throwing a bunch of tablecloths down and walking off, I’m fine with it,” another added. “First come first served.”</p> <p>“If I was bringing a few things from the car I might do this,” a third commented. </p> <p> “Like dropping off the tablecloth and backpack before grabbing the esky etc. But I'd maintain line of sight. Anything else isn't justified in my opinion.”</p> <p>A spokesperson for Waverly Council have asked people to "refrain from reserving tables and always have a back up plan". </p> <p>“Waverley is the second-most densely populated local government area in Australia outside of the City of Sydney, and we attract millions of visitors every year, so our recreational spaces are at a premium," the spokesperson told <em>Yahoo News Australia</em>. </p> <p>“On weekends and at other peak times, picnic tables and barbecues do invariably fill up. So we ask people to share our spaces so that everyone can have a turn.”</p> <p><em>Images: Reddit</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Aussie billionaire's ambitious mission to recover family remains

<p>Australia's richest man is undertaking an ambitious mission to bring the remains of a long-lost loved one home, to keep a promise he made to his father before he died. </p> <p>Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest's uncle was one of many Australians who died during the conflict in Papua New Guinea in the 1940s. </p> <p>David Forrest was shot down piloting his RAAF Beaufort bomber into an attack on a Japanese-held airstrip at Gasmata in Papua New Guinea in 1943.</p> <p>The loss has haunted the family ever since, as David's remains were never found. </p> <p>"[We] got the letter, from the king in those days, saying that uncle David was missing and presumed killed in action," Twiggy told <a href="https://9now.nine.com.au/a-current-affair/aussie-billionaire-andrew-twiggy-forrests-search-to-find-loved-ones-lost-in-world-war-ii/9c042a41-c3d1-4b73-af6e-af40c983b81b" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>A Current Affair</em></a>. </p> <p>"Dad went through extreme emotions and grief and since that day he never cried for the rest of his life.</p> <p>"For the next 80 years he couldn't shed a tear it was just overwhelming for him."</p> <p>Twiggy's dad Donald had long said he wanted to hold his brother's dog tags before he died, but after passing away last year at the age 95, he was unable to fulfil his final wish. </p> <p>"Unfortunately we lost dad six months ago so I haven't fulfilled that, but it's really to put closure around something that really wrenched our family," he said.</p> <p>In order to bring closure to the family, Twiggy and his sister Janine have travelled to PNG onboard a purpose-built research vessel and joined by a crew of experts, including marine archeologists.</p> <p>The mission has been ongoing for many years with the blessing of the PNG government and the assistance of RAAF members, but has remained under wraps until now. </p> <p>In 2021, the family thought they had a breakthrough with their mission. </p> <p>"It was really emotional, very heart-wrenching as you went down into the depths thinking, 'Am I going to dive on uncle David's plane and be part of solving the mystery maybe of his remains maybe even his dog tags?'</p> <p>The serial number on David Forrest's Beaufort bomber was A9-188, but the bomber they'd found was A9-186.</p> <p>"I had to tell Dad I can confirm it was a Beaufort bomber, I can confirm it was Australians, but I have to confirm it wasn't your brother's. That was tough."</p> <p>While Twiggy admitted that the chances of finding his uncle's remains are slim, he said he owed it to his father to keep looking. </p> <p>"For my kids and myself, the standard I hold myself to is doing your absolute best," he said. </p> <p>"It's not whether or not you achieve it, it's did you do your best?"</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair </em></p>

International Travel

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Survey unveils Aussies thoughts on tourism tax

<p>Earlier this year, Bali launched a controversial tourism tax, which meant that every traveller entering the island would have to pay a $15 fee, which the Indonesian province have said will be used for environmental and cultural projects. </p> <p>Now, Aussies have shared their thoughts on introducing a similar system here, and survey results have revealed that many are keen for the tourism tax to be introduced here. </p> <p>Travel provider InsureandGo conducted the survey and found that 60 per cent of Australians would support the government introducing a tax to combat the rising environmental toll of tourism.</p> <p>"Tourist taxes are a relatively new concept, but as travel demand swells, we are seeing more countries adopt the levy," InsureandGo Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Etkind said. </p> <p>"What's heartening is that only a minority of 37 per cent of respondents don't support tourism taxes, demonstrating just how many Australians support the concept of sustainable travel."</p> <p>The response comes amid increased sustainability concerns on our flora and fauna, which are being threatened by over-tourism. </p> <p>The tax is particularly supported by younger Aussies aged between 18 to 30, with 73 per cent of them saying yes to tourism taxes. </p> <p>Etkind said that this may be because younger Aussies are typically more aware of the environmental impacts of travel compared to the older generation, who may be less accustomed to the tax. </p> <p>Along with Bali, other cities and countries have started introducing similar fees to combat overtourism,  with Venice set to charge day-trippers a fee of 5 Euros ($8.20) per visit. </p> <p>Amsterdam, Netherlands has the highest tourism tax in Europe, with the former 7 per cent hotel tourist levy rising to 12.5 per cent this year. </p> <p>New Zealand also charges international visitors excluding Aussie citizens and permanent residents $25 levy ($32.64 AUD) to address the challenges created by tourism in its conservation areas. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

International Travel

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Man restores mate's dream pub after tragic death

<p>Kevin "Stumpy" Darmody ran the Peninsula Hotel in the Cape York town of Laura, Cairns for over 20 years before he was tragically killed by a crocodile during a fishing trip. </p> <p>The 65-year-old went missing on the Kennedy River at Rinyirru National Park in April last year, with his body recovered a month later, after wildlife officers shot and killed a crocodile during their search, discovering his remains in its stomach.</p> <p>Now, Darmody's best friend Stuart Wiggins has picked up where he left off, and travelled all the way to Cairns from Canberra to restore his mate's pub. </p> <p>"I've been coming up for 20 years myself and watched all the hard work Kev's put in and I thought I didn't want to see that get wasted," he told the <em>ABC</em>. </p> <p>He got to work and trimmed the three-metre long weeds that covered the pub. </p> <p>"The weeds were like trees. We've worked from day to night and it's looking really good now."</p> <p>Wiggins recalled how his best mate first moved to Laura, Cairns 20 years ago after he came across the town on a 4WD trip across northern Australia.</p> <p>Now, in honour of his late friend, Wiggins has renamed the hotel "Stumpy's Bar". </p> <p>"I've got a nice big sign out the front of the pub to remember him," Wiggins said.</p> <p>He also reminisced their friendship and how the pair "got on like a house on fire", saying that he too had "fished off the same spot" where Darmody was taken "so many times". </p> <p>"He was always warning people going out there, 'don't get too close to the water. If you fall in you're not going to get out,' so what happened that day we'll never ever know", he said.</p> <p>Wiggins shared that Darmody was known to for his tough exterior, but was the type of person that would "give you the shirt off his back and do anything for you".</p> <p>"Even the week before he passed, he bought a plane ticket to sneak down to surprise me for my 60th birthday," he said.</p> <p>Prior to Darmody's death Wiggins was working a "cruisy job" at Parliament House in Canberra, before deciding to leave his family behind to re-enter the hospitality industry.</p> <p>"It was a massive move to leave my family behind but even my lady Tanya knew it was something I needed to do," Wiggins said.</p> <p>"I couldn't just sit at parliament thinking the place was going to go to rack and ruin."</p> <p><em>Images: ABC/ Stuart Wiggins</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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The world's most promiscuous countries revealed

<p>An analysis of the world's sexual habits has revealed the top 10 most promiscuous countries in the world and Turkey came in first. </p> <p>The average Turk has slept with more than 14 people according to the World Population Review, with Australia coming in a close second with the average Aussie having slept with more than 13 people, according to the <em>New York Post</em>. </p> <p>“The average number of sexual partners can vary significantly from country to country, as cultural norms can have a significant impact on the number of people someone has sex with,” the website declared. </p> <p>Their figures were based on a compilation of “datasets from multiple third party sources.”</p> <p>Turkey's top spot may be surprising to some, with most residents being muslim and the country is widely conceived to have traditional views when it comes sex and relationships. </p> <p>New Zealand came in at third, with a similar number to Australia,  followed by Iceland and South Africa. </p> <p>Countries thought to have more liberal views on sex, such as Brazil and France, were lower down the list, with the average Brazilian sleeping with nine people putting them in 25th place, while France clocked in 29th position. </p> <p>The United States clocked in 13th place, with Americans sleeping with an average of 10.7 people. </p> <p><strong>Here's the Top 10 most promiscuous countries:</strong></p> <p>1. Turkey (14.5 people)</p> <p>2. Australia (13.3)</p> <p>3. New Zealand (13.2)</p> <p>4. Iceland (13.0)</p> <p>5. South Africa (12.5)</p> <p>6. Finland (12.4)</p> <p>7. Norway (12.1)</p> <p>8. Italy (11.8)</p> <p>9. Sweden (11.8)</p> <p>10. Switzerland (11.1)</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

International Travel

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Outraged Qantas flyer captures "absolutely unacceptable" act

<p>Qantas staff have been condemned for leaving a pet crate abandoned on a Sydney tarmac in torrential rain. </p> <p>An outraged passenger captured the moment she saw the pet carrier, and a trolley full of suitcases, left in the rain at Sydney Airport on Friday, and shared it to social media. </p> <p>Sydney was hit with heavy rain on Friday, with some parts of New South Wales recording a month's worth of rainfall within a single day. </p> <p>After passengers had been loaded onto the Qantas aircraft, the concerned traveller noticed the animal had been abandoned in the rain.</p> <p>"Unfortunately the weather was unavoidable, but this luggage was left out in the open in Sydney for 30 mins and the animals for 15 minutes — one facing the rain," the furious passenger wrote on Facebook. </p> <p>Travellers on the same flight were quick to comment on the woman's post, saying their luggage had arrived soaking wet. </p> <p>"[I was on] on same flight, my luggage came home wet. Thinking a cover in these conditions would be nice," they wrote. </p> <p>Others expressed their concerns for the animal left in the crate in the rain, saying it was "animal abuse" to leave a furry friend in those conditions. </p> <p>"Those poor fur babies," one person wrote.</p> <p>"I'd report this if I saw it. Should have brought this to the attention of ground crew ASAP."</p> <p>A third added, "I'm unimpressed by the luggage but those pet carriers out there is absolutely unacceptable. I'd be fuming if my boy was stuck on the tarmac in a cage in torrential rain, making an already stressful situation even worse."</p> <p>"Disgusting to leave those fur babies out in the rain. Almost animal abuse," another said.</p> <p>A spokesperson from Qantas told <em><a href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/qantas-photo-catches-airline-in-unacceptable-act-id-be-fuming-222149288.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Yahoo News</a></em> that they are investigating the incident and that the airline "takes the safety and welfare of pets travelling with us very seriously".</p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Flash droughts are becoming more common in Australia. What’s causing them?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/milton-speer-703091">Milton Speer</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lance-m-leslie-437774">Lance M Leslie</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p><a href="https://www.drought.gov/what-is-drought/flash-drought">Flash droughts</a> strike suddenly and intensify rapidly. Often the affected areas are in drought after just weeks or a couple of months of well-below-average rainfall. They happen worldwide and are <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/377274397_Flash_drought_A_state_of_the_science_review?_tp=eyJjb250ZXh0Ijp7ImZpcnN0UGFnZSI6InB1YmxpY2F0aW9uRG93bmxvYWQiLCJwYWdlIjoicHVibGljYXRpb24iLCJwcmV2aW91c1BhZ2UiOiJwdWJsaWNhdGlvbiJ9fQ#read">becoming more common</a>, including in Australia, due to global warming.</p> <p>Flash droughts can occur anywhere and at any time of the year. Last year, a flash drought <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-10-20/dams-dry-up-as-drought-takes-hold-in-hunter-valley/102996364">hit the Upper Hunter</a> region of New South Wales, roughly 300 kilometres north-west of Sydney.</p> <p>These sudden droughts can have devastating economic, social and environmental impacts. The damage is particularly severe for agricultural regions heavily dependent on reliable rain in river catchments. One such region is the Upper Hunter Valley, the subject of our <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2225-1154/12/4/49">new research</a>.</p> <p>We identified two climate drivers – the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=enso">El Niño Southern Oscillation</a> and <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=iod">Indian Ocean Dipole</a>) – that became influential during this drought. In addition, the waning influence of a third climate driver, the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/?bookmark=sam">Southern Annular Mode</a>), would typically bring rain to the east coast. However, this rain did not reach the Upper Hunter.</p> <p>Flash droughts are set to get more common as the world heats up. This year, a flash drought developed over western and central Victoria over just two months. While heavy rain this month in Melbourne ended the drought there, it continues in the west.</p> <h2>What makes a flash drought different?</h2> <p>Flash droughts differ from more slowly developing droughts. The latter result from extended drops in rainfall, such as the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/">drought affecting</a> parts of southwest Western Australia due to the much shortened winter wet season last year.</p> <p>Flash droughts develop when sudden large drops in rainfall coincide with above-average temperatures. They mostly occur in summer and autumn, as was the case for Asia and Europe in 2022. That year saw flash droughts appear across the northern hemisphere, such as the megadrought affecting China’s <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/acfe21">Yangtze river basin</a> and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352340923000264?via%3Dihub">Spain</a>.</p> <p>The flash drought devastating the Upper Hunter from May to October 2023 developed despite the region being drought-free just one month earlier. At that stage, almost nowhere in NSW showed any sign of an impending drought.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=276&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=276&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=276&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=347&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=347&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586776/original/file-20240409-18-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=347&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Maps of drought conditions in NSW in April 2023 compared to the next six months" /><figcaption><span class="caption">NSW Department of Primary Industries’ combined drought indicator in April 2023 (a) and combined drought indicator for May–October 2023 (b) show how rapidly a flash drought developed in the Upper Hunter region.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Milton Speer et al 2024, using NSW Department of Primary Industries' data</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>The flash drought greatly affected agricultural production in the Upper Hunter region, due to the region’s reliance on water from rivers. Low rainfall in river catchments means less water for crops and pasture. It also dries up drinking water supplies.</p> <p>Flash droughts are characterised by abrupt periods of low rainfall leading to rapid drought onset, particularly when accompanied by above-average temperatures. Higher temperatures increase both the evaporation of water from the soil and transpiration from plants (evapotranspiration). This causes soil moisture to drop rapidly.</p> <h2>The Upper Hunter drought is part of a trend</h2> <p>Flash droughts will be more common in the future. That’s because higher temperatures will more often coincide with dry conditions, as relative humidity falls <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/377274397_Flash_drought_A_state_of_the_science_review_tp=eyJjb250ZXh0Ijp7ImZpcnN0UGFnZSI6InB1YmxpY2F0aW9uRG93bmxvYWQiLCJwYWdlIjoicHVibGljYXRpb24iLCJwcmV2aW91c1BhZ2UiOiJwdWJsaWNhdGlvbiJ9fQ#read">across many parts</a> of Australia and globally.</p> <p>Climate change is <a href="https://climate.ec.europa.eu/climate-change/consequences-climate-change_en">linked to</a> shorter, heavier bursts of rain followed by longer periods of little rainfall.</p> <figure class="align-center "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=196&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=196&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=196&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=246&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=246&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586777/original/file-20240409-16-n82npo.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=246&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Map of Upper Hunter region showing drought indicators in December 2023" /><figcaption><span class="caption">Intense drought conditions continued in the Upper Hunter in December 2023.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Milton Speer et al 2024</span></span></figcaption></figure> <figure class="align-right "><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=376&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=376&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=376&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=472&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=472&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586778/original/file-20240409-16-www3a.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=472&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Map of NSW showing average temperature ranges recorded for May–October 2023." /><figcaption><span class="caption">The sharp drop in rainfall coincided with the Upper Hunter’s highest average maximum temperatures on record for May–October 2023.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Milton Speer et al 2024</span></span></figcaption></figure> <p>In south-east and south-west Australia, flash droughts can also occur in winter.</p> <p>In May 2023 rainfall over south-east Australia dropped abruptly. The much lower rainfall continued until November in the Upper Hunter. Over this same period, mean maximum temperatures in the region were the highest on record, increasing the loss of moisture through evapotranspiration. The result was a flash drought. While flash droughts occurred in other parts of south-east Australia, we focused on the Upper Hunter as it remained in drought the longest.</p> <h2>What were the climate drivers of this drought?</h2> <p>We used machine-learning techniques to identify the key climate drivers of the drought.</p> <p>We found the dominant driver of the flash drought was global warming, modulated by the phases of the three major climate drivers in our region, the El Niño Southern Oscillation, Indian Ocean Dipole and the Southern Annular Mode.</p> <p>From 2020 to 2022, the first two drivers became favourable for rain in the Upper Hunter in late winter through spring, before changing phase to one supporting drought over south-east Australia. Meanwhile, the Southern Annular Mode remained mostly positive, meaning rain-bearing westerly winds and weather fronts had moved to middle and higher latitudes of the southern hemisphere, away from Australia’s south-east coast.</p> <p>Combined, the impact of global warming with the three climate drivers made rainfall much more variable. The net result was an atmospheric environment highly conducive to a flash drought appearing anywhere in south-east Australia.</p> <figure class="align-right zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=237&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=464&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=464&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=464&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=583&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=583&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/586248/original/file-20240405-16-ti5j3m.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=583&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Map of Upper Hunter region showing drought indicators in December 2023" /></a><figcaption><span class="caption">Intense drought conditions continued in the Upper Hunter in December 2023.</span> <span class="attribution"><span class="source">Milton Speer et al 2024</span></span></figcaption></figure> <h2>Victoria, too, fits the global warming pattern</h2> <p>As for the flash drought that developed in early 2024 over western and central Victoria, including Melbourne, it continues in parts of <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/#msdynttrid=_ytsVsw1a3IFZ7xGCnQz8mw1Gum_n_0JUdQyt2hUVCo">western Victoria</a>. The flash drought followed very high January rainfall (top 5% of records) dropping rapidly to very low rainfall (bottom 5%) in February and March.</p> <p>It was the <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/maps/rainfall/?variable=rainfall&amp;map=decile&amp;period=2month&amp;region=vc&amp;year=2024&amp;month=03&amp;day=31">driest February-March period</a> on record for Melbourne and south-west Victoria.</p> <p>At the beginning of April, a storm front <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/severe-weather-storm-warning-for-victoria-and-melbourne-easter-monday/41d5d383-b70d-4d36-a649-38632bc607de">brought heavy rainfall</a> over an 18-hour period to central Victoria, including Melbourne.</p> <p>The rains ended the flash drought in these areas, but it continues in parts of western Victoria, which missed out on the rain.</p> <p>The pattern of the 2024 flash drought in Victoria typifies the increasing trend under global warming of long dry periods, interspersed by short, heavy rainfall events. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/227052/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/milton-speer-703091"><em>Milton Speer</em></a><em>, Visiting Fellow, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/lance-m-leslie-437774">Lance M Leslie</a>, Professor, School of Mathematical And Physical Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/flash-droughts-are-becoming-more-common-in-australia-whats-causing-them-227052">original article</a>.</em></p>

Domestic Travel

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94-year-old grandma takes on huge travel challenge

<p>"Grandma Joy" Ryan was 91 when she first got her passport, and she hasn't stopped travelling since. </p> <p>Now aged 94, she is embarking on a new global challenge with her grandson Brad Ryan, 42, with the intergenerational duo planning to travel to all seven continents in the world together. </p> <p>"I don't have many years left, [so] you hop to it," Grandma Joy told <em>CNN Travel</em>. </p> <p> "If you slow down, you don't get anything done."</p> <p>The pair, who are from the US, have already travelled to three continents, visiting Banff National Park in Canada last year to "represent North America well beyond just our own country", and Africa in 2023, visiting both Amboseli National Park and Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. </p> <p>Their most recent trip was to South America, where they travelled to Ecuador, and spent time in  the Galapagos Islands, as well as Chile. </p> <p>"It was amazing to see those huge tortoises," Grandma Joy recalled. "They could raise their shells up just like a convertible or something."</p> <p>Prior to travelling the world together, the grandma-grandson duo were actually estranged for around a decade due to a family rift that occurred after Ryan's parents divorced. </p> <p>After reconnecting in 2010, Ryan was telling his grandma about his previous hiking adventures on the Appalachian Trail and Mount Kilimanjaro, when he learnt that his grandmother "had never set eyes on a mountain."</p> <p>"That was one of her lifelong regrets," he said. </p> <p>"Her travel had been limited to just a few road trips to Florida with my grandfather when he was alive.</p> <p>"Her view of the world was always what she saw on the Travel Channel or just on the news."</p> <p>That conversation stuck with him and the pair embarked on their first journey together in 2015, when Ryan decided to take a weekend road trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. </p> <p>"At 85, she saw her first mountain, climbed her first mountain and went camping for the first time and fell off the air mattress a couple of times and didn't complain," he said. </p> <p>He added, that having to move more slowly as he was travelling with his grandma, meant that he was able to appreciate everything in a more meaningful way. </p> <p>"I wasn't rushing through the places that I was visiting. I was really taking the time to appreciate smaller details.</p> <p>"The lens through which she is seeing the world is very different to most people my age. She doesn't visit a place thinking, 'Well, I'll be back again,' so there's more presence."</p> <p>They kept the adventure going and decided to travel to the 62 other US National Parks, and while it took them almost eight years with two-month long breaks between each trip, Grandma Joy made history last year. </p> <p>She became the oldest person to visit all 63 National Parks in the US. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CsU_w4-rqyP/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CsU_w4-rqyP/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Grandma Joy’s Road Trip — Brad and Joy Ryan (@grandmajoysroadtrip)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>"Being an old person sitting on the porch, this makes you feel like, 'Well maybe I did accomplish something.' So I enjoyed every bit of it," she said. </p> <p>Ryan himself is very proud of his grandmother's achievement, and after going viral with their national parks quest in 2023, he said that travelling with her has been a life-changing experience. </p> <p>"She shattered my preconceived notions about what it means to be an older person,"  he said. </p> <p>"Because she wasn't just sitting in the passenger seat looking out the window, although we did that too."</p> <p>He then described how Grandma Joy went ziplining at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia and whitewater rafting at Wrangell St. Elias National Park in Alaska at the age of 91, and how she reminded him of all the possibilities that come with getting older. </p> <p>"I think we all have this sort of innate dread about getting older," he said. </p> <p>"And we think about the limitations instead of the possibilities. She [Grandma Joy] reminds us of the possibilities that still exist."</p> <p>While the pair are currently "still recovering" from their latest trip to South America, they shared their plan to visit Australia later this year, and hope to  "hop over to Asia" after. </p> <p>Once they've ticked off Australia and Asia off their list, they plan to visit Europe and hope to end their trip in Antarctica. </p> <p>"Antarctica is the one that's like the wildcard," Ryan said. "We would love that, but getting there is challenging.</p> <p>"I'd like to end big, and I think Antarctica would be the cherry on top of this adventure."</p> <p>The duo document all their adventures on their Instagram account, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/grandmajoysroadtrip/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">grandmajoysroadtrip</a> and despite people wondering when they would wrap it up, Grandma Joy's "willing spirit" keeps her going. </p> <p>"I just take one step at a time, one day at a time, and thank the Lord every morning for giving me one more day," she said. </p> <p>"I try to be an optimist. The glass is half full, not half empty. And the people that you meet along the way lift your spirits.</p> <p>"You see people in worse shape than you, and I just think 'I've got a lot to be thankful for.'</p> <p>"Not everybody's lucky enough to have a grandson that's willing to drag them around."</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p> <p> </p>

International Travel

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Dad kicked off Jetstar flight for breaking cardinal rule

<p>A dad has been kicked off a Jetstar flight after snapping a picture of his family boarding the plane from the tarmac. </p> <p>Jimmy Mitchell was with his wife Pauline and their two children as they went to board their flight from Sydney to Brisbane, where they were embarking on a cruise. </p> <p>As the family were boarding the plane from the tarmac, Jimmy quickly took a picture of his kids and his wife who were walking up the rear stairs of the plane. </p> <p>According to Jimmy, who is a seasoned traveller, he didn't hear an announcement be made that passengers were prohibited from taking photos on the tarmac because the plane was refuelling. </p> <p>He was eventually able to board the flight after being confronted by cabin crew, but described the debacle as “one of the most traumatic experiences” he’s had.</p> <p>In a viral TikTok, he alleged that while he was taking the photo, a cabin crew member called him an “idiot”. He said that when she tried to get his attention to put the device away it left him embarrassed and shocked. </p> <p>“This is the worst experience I’ve ever had flying,” he said in the clip.</p> <p>“I try and get on the plane, I take a photo of my kids as they get on the plane, in flight mode, and the lady calls me an idiot,” he said.</p> <p>After he confronted the staff member, Mr Mitchell claims he was told he won’t be allowed to board the flight.</p> <p>“I turned around in disbelief because I was half way up the stairs at this point. I basically stormed over to her and I was like, ‘Are you serious? What did you just call me?’</p> <p>“She was basically saying ‘you can’t take photos on the tarmac, you can’t take photos on the tarmac’.”</p> <p>The pair allegedly went back and forth before the father-of-two, known for his travel content, was rejected from boarding the plane. </p> <p>“If she had literally just said anything else, like ‘get off your phone’, I would have done it.”</p> <p>“Apparently, they made an announcement, but I had noise cancelling headphones, Pauline (wife) told me after the fact – I didn’t hear it, there was no notifications about it, there was no signage, no nothing."</p> <p>“All she had to do was say something constructive. ‘Get off your phone,’ ‘you can’t have your phone out’ and I would have been like ‘sorry’, but she screams across the tarmac calling me an idiot.”</p> <p>“I can see how she maybe felt I was being intimidating because I am a big guy and I am a loud guy. She turns around to me and goes ‘you almost assaulted me, get off the tarmac, you’re not getting on this plane’.”</p> <p>Mr Mitchell then walked back inside the terminal where he awaited further instructions, and was later able to board the flight “after cooler heads prevailed” but wants the airline to apologise to him and his family over the “stressful” situation.</p> <p>“The way they treated Pauline and the kids and not allowing me to communicate with them what was going on, was completely unacceptable,” he said.</p> <p>The debacle has sparked a huge debate on his TikTok and Instagram over who is in the wrong.</p> <p>“Wow … that’s insane! So sorry that happened to you!” one person wrote.</p> <p>“Take it further and don’t let them get away with what they have done,” a second person said.</p> <p>However, others were quick to comment that as a seasoned traveller, Jimmy should've been well versed in the rules of not taking photos on the tarmac.</p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Everything you need to know before you travel to Vietnam

<p dir="ltr">So you’ve booked your flight to Vietnam to experience the best of south-east Asia. </p> <p dir="ltr">When travelling to Vietnam, and other Asian countries, there are a handful of tips and tricks to be aware of to ensure you have a smooth sailing travel experience. </p> <p dir="ltr">In comparison to travelling around Western countries, exploring Vietnam comes with a unique set of circumstances, and being prepared for every situation will make sure your trip is one to remember. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Cash is king</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">When it comes to planning your trip to Vietnam, other than booking your flights, hotels and travel insurance, one of your first priorities should be getting your hands on cash. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Vietnamese Dong is a unique currency to get used to, given that $5 AUD is equal to approximately $82,000 VND. </p> <p dir="ltr">Most of the restaurants, cafes and tourist attractions you’ll be heading to will only accept cash, so make sure you seek out an ATM (most ATMs will let you translate to English) and always have a decent amount of cash on hand. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Go off the beaten track </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Vietnam has so much more to offer than the major cities. </p> <p dir="ltr">While Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have a lot of interesting history, tourist attractions and unique cultural experiences, staying in these cities for the entirety of your Vietnam trip is limiting. </p> <p dir="ltr">Make sure you explore coastal towns such as Hoi An, Hue and Phu Quoc, explore the rolling rice fields of Sapa, and don’t forget to book your cruise around the picturesque Ha Long Bay. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Don't be afraid of the food </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">While Vietnamese food is maybe not what you’re used to eating everyday, part of experiencing a different culture is immersing yourself in the food scene. </p> <p dir="ltr">One of the best things you can do when you arrive at your destination is to book a food tour with a local guide (there are many available through TripAdvisor), to take you around and show you a variety of dishes to become accustomed to. </p> <p dir="ltr">Your food tour guide will also help ease your anxiety over ordering food in different places. </p> <p dir="ltr">Another top tip: Restaurants will often be called the name of the dishes they serve. For example, places that sell the delicious Bahn Mi bread rolls will have “Bahn Mi” in their name. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Google Translate is your friend </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">While your hotel staff will often speak good English, other vendors at restaurants or markets may not be as fluent. </p> <p dir="ltr">Downloading the Google Translate app on your phone will allow you to communicate with locals quickly and easily, by typing in what you want to say in English, and letting the app read out the sentence in Vietnamese. </p> <p dir="ltr">Also, the app’s camera feature lets you hover your smartphone camera over something written in Vietnamese, before translating it into English in seconds. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Beware of scams</strong> </p> <p dir="ltr">One of the most common scams in Vietnam is taxi scams. Some people will claim to be a taxi and then jack up the prices once they take you to your destination. </p> <p dir="ltr">To avoid this, only get in registered taxis (that actually look like taxis and not just a random car), and download Grab, which is the Vietnamese version of Uber and is just as easy to use. </p> <p dir="ltr">Another common scam is for market vendors to hike up prices for food and souvenirs, so be ready to barter for a better price. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Make friends with the locals </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The Vietnamese people are some of the loveliest, kindest and most accommodating in the world. </p> <p dir="ltr">People on the street, hotel staff and restaurant workers are always happy to help you with queries or concerns, so make the most of their local knowledge and don’t be afraid to approach people with a smile. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

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