International Travel

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Car hire cost-cutting tips

<p>Free upgrades<br />It’s worth taking a chance by booking the cheapest car going, which is usually also the smallest. Because these cars are limited in number, the rental agency will sometimes offer you an upgrade. If they initiate the upgrade, make sure you don’t pay more for it – especially if you booked ahead with a credit card.</p> <p>Get insurance gratis<br />About 20% of all consumers always take rental car insurance and another 20% sometimes do, according to a recent study by a Canadian car insurance company. But there’s a good chance they’re already covered under their own credit card’s insurance, which means they’re paying an unnecessary extra.</p> <p>Call the toll-free number on the back of your credit card before you leave to find out what coverage, if any, you have. Check to see if your card offers insurance and then bring along a printout describing the coverage for the rental car agency. The caveat: some cards limit rental-car coverage to premium card holders, and others may not provide coverage for luxury cars, off-road vehicles or campervans.</p> <p>The clock is ticking<br />Most rental car companies use a 24-hour-clock rate when charging you. It pays to know its billing policy – does the day end at midnight, or is it strictly 24 hours? Some companies charge an hourly rate for the first three to four hours late, while others will give you a breathing space of 90 minutes.</p> <p>Airport fees<br />Must you really collect your rental car at the airport? You’ll pay a premium if you do.</p> <p class="p1"><em>This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/tips/car-hire-cost-cutting-tips"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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Why Australian international travel ban extended by three months

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>The Australian Federal Government has extended the ban on international travel by a further three months, which means the ban will be in place until at least June 17th.</p> <p>The announcement means that the mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine for returned travellers will likely remain in place for the rest of 2021.</p> <p>Health Minister Greg Hunt said that the extension of the "human biosecurity emergency period" was based on medical and epidemiological advice provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee.</p> <p>"The AHPPC has advised the Australian government the Covid-19 situation overseas continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk to Australia, including the emergence of more highly transmissible variants," he said.</p> <p>"The extension of the emergency period for a further three months is about mitigating that risk for everyone's health and safety."</p> <p>Opposition's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong called on the government to take responsibility for the border closures.</p> <p>"When Scott Morrison closed the borders he had no plan for the consequences," she said to the<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/heartache-for-stranded-australians-border-ban-extended-until-june-20210302-p5777o.html" target="_blank">Sydney Morning Herald</a>.</p> <p>"A year later, 40,000 Australians are still stranded overseas, the border closure has been extended and there's still no plan for safe, national quarantine."</p> <p>Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox called for "certainty" on the international borders "as soon as possible".</p> <p>“We are a migrant nation. Our skilled migrants have been a huge driver of our economy,” he said. “Without migration - and the certainty around it - we are diminished economically and culturally.”</p> </div> </div> </div>

International Travel

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"Quite alarming!": Queen cracks joke about new statue

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>The Queen has made her audience laugh after cracking a joke about a new statue unveiled in her honour.</p> <p>Her Majesty spoke to South Australian Premier Steven Marshall, Governor Hieu Van Le and sculptor Robert Hannaford to view the statue that has been installed in the grounds of the government house in Adelaide.</p> <p>Video footage of the conversation released by Buckingham Palace shows that the sudden unveiling surprised the Queen, who made a quick joke.</p> <blockquote 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);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CL46ghGH_tC/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="13"> <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> <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;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CL46ghGH_tC/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by The Royal Family (@theroyalfamily)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>After seeing the statue so suddenly, she joked that “it must be quite alarming to suddenly see it out of the window - you’d think, gracious, has she arrived unexpectedly!”</p> <p>She was also presented with a scale model of the statue, which she thanked the sculptor for and said "I'm glad it's not quite as big as the original statue!".</p> <p>A palace statement said Her Majesty was also “briefed by the Governor and Premier on developments in the region, including the vaccination rollout to key workers, the response to Covid-19 and the lifting of restrictions in South Australia.</p> <p>“The Queen also heard from the Governor about the recovery from drought and bushfires in the area at the start of 2020, and from the Premier about how cooperation between health services, police, government - and the resilience of the Australian people - has been instrumental in their frontline response to the pandemic."</p> </div> </div> </div>

International Travel

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Qantas announces first international destinations Aussies can travel to

<p><span>Qantas has shared the first routes it plans to fly to once international travel starts back up again.</span><br /><br /><span>The airline announced on Thursday that it was planning for a “restart” as soon as October 2021.</span><br /><br /><span>CEO Alan Joyce said there had been a “significant” loss of $1 billion in the first half of the 2020-21 financial year.</span><br /><br /><span>“These figures are stark, but they won’t come as a surprise,” Joyce said.</span><br /><br /><span>“Border closures meant we lost virtually 100 per cent of our international flying and 70 per cent of our domestic flying.”</span><br /><br /><span>Joyce went on to reveal the countries the airline would be flying to as soon as Aussies were allowed to jump back on to planes.</span><br /><br /><span>Qantas is planning to resume flights to 22 of its 25 destinations, including Los Angeles, London, Singapore and Johannesburg from October 31.</span><br /><br /><span>The outstanding destinations are New York, Santiago and Osaka, and they do not feature as part of the airline’s immediate plans.</span><br /><br /><span>Joyce said the vaccine rollout has raised hope for the future of international travel.</span><br /><br /><span>“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve updated our assumptions on international travel restarting,” he said.</span><br /><br /><span>He acknowledged that a surge of COVID cases worldwide combined with new strains of the virus had made things difficult.</span><br /><br /><span>“We’re now planning for international travel to restart at the end of October this year, in line with the date for Australia’s vaccine rollout to be effectively complete.”</span><br /><br /><span>He also has hopes for a trans-Tasman travel bubble.</span><br /><br /><span>“We’re still targeting July for a material increase in New Zealand flights.</span><br /><br /><span>“We’re in close consultation with government, and if things change, so will our dates. But with the vaccine rollout already underway, we’re on the right track.”</span></p>

International Travel

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Cruise industry experts reveal when Aussie cruises will resume

<p>Despite a fall in COVID-19 cases that has Aussies eager to start exploring, people might have to wait before they start cruising again.</p> <p>The ban on cruise ships was implemented last year by the Australian government and was extended until March 17th, but it doesn't mean the ban will lift on this date.</p> <p>Most cruise ships are also currently stationed in Asia and Europe and will have to undergo quarantine before being ready for domestic passengers.</p> <p>Some companies that have smaller boats with a capacity of 100 to 200 passengers are offering tours that begin in late March.</p> <p>This includes APT, Ponant and Silversea.</p> <p>P&amp;O Australia is also taking a leap of faith despite being at the mercy of the government ban and has cruise dates set from Sydney on April 30th.</p> <p>Princess Cruises is recommencing Australian cruises in October 2021, whereas Norwegian Cruise Line has no Australian departures at all until December 2021.</p> <p>Australia's tourism minister Dan Tehan recognised the hard work the cruising industry has put in to make things safer for their passengers on the breakfast show<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://cruisepassenger.com.au/strongest-hint-yet-that-australian-cruising-is-coming-back/" target="_blank"><em>Today</em></a>.</p> <p>He was asked about the number of special deals available for cruising.</p> <p>There are welcome signs, and yes, we’re seeing rebounding when it comes to cruising, and also domestic tourism.”</p> <p>Host Stan Stefanovic asked the minister: “In relation to cruising, the Ruby Princess saga led to a major heartbreak here… should Aussies feel safe taking up these offers now?”</p> <p>The minister replied: “The cruise industry has done a lot of work to make sure that cruising now is COVID safe. They’ve put protocols in place, so people should be confident to be able to go and book cruises.</p> <p>“They also should be confident to be able to book, you know, wonderful vacations right across this nation, because we’ve got so many wonderful places to see – whether you’re doing it as part of a cruise around our coastline, or going to visit just the wonderful places right across the nation.”</p> <p>Joel Katz, managing director for Australasia at the Cruise Lines International Association has said that smaller domestic fleets might pave the way until the ban is lifted.</p> <p>“Cruising can progress a responsible restart domestically within Australia, using ships and crew that have gone through all required quarantine procedures,” he said to<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.travelweekly.com.au/article/australias-international-travel-and-cruise-ship-bans-to-remain-until-mid-march/" target="_blank"><em>Travel Weekly</em></a>.</p> <p>“Ships and crew would then remain within the Australian safe zone or bubble, offering local cruising to locals only, within Australia, until international borders reopen.”</p> <p>“Cruising delivers enormous financial benefit to communities around Australia and supports around 18,000 jobs across the country,” Katz said.</p> <p>“We look forward to working with the government to plan a careful revival of the country’s $5-billion-a-year cruise industry.”</p>

International Travel

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10 hilarious stories about travelling with kids

<p>1. Drive-by egging<br />Driving home with the shopping in the backseat and looking on the floor thinking, “Why is there water down there?”</p> <p>It took a few moments to realise it wasn’t water. It was egg.</p> <p>Then I looked at my daughter and saw what was in her hand… just as she threw it at the back of my husband’s head. She had opened the eggs and thrown them all over the place!</p> <p>That will teach us to turn around more often I guess. – Julie Riley</p> <p>2. Rubbing salt in the wounds<br />We went to Adelaide with a three-year-old and a six-month-old and decided a day trip to Lake Bumbunga was a good idea. It’s one of the pink lakes, sometimes blue, where you can take cool photographs. Except it was dry and muddy and not pink. So Miss Three tried to do a runner away from the boring lake. But she lost a shoe. And when my husband went to rescue her, he found the only sinkhole in the entire land. He was up to his knees in mud – black, not pink – and to add insult to injury, the salt from the lake got in his wounds.</p> <p>Now he likes to tell people that he’s travelled with kids and has the scars to prove it. I, meanwhile, just got a good laugh. – Amelia Masters</p> <p>3. Stayin’ alive<br />Our trip to New Zealand in a campervan with our four children was full of laughter. As soon as the tape got stuck in the cassette player at the beginning of our two-week journey, they knew every word of the Bee Gees. Amazing what you remember about a trip! – KL Day</p> <p>4. Not so plain sailing<br />We recently took our kids sailing on our yacht. We spent 18 months on the water, exploring the Coast of Australia. We planned to sail to New Caledonia, but 50 miles out of Surfers Paradise our autopilot broke and we were forced to return.</p> <p>We arranged a new autopilot and waited for the next suitable weather window, to make the six-day journey to New Caledonia. This time, 200 nautical miles off the coast of Australia, on what was our second attempt, the new autopilot failed. Again we sailed back into harbour shaking our heads.</p> <p>We were soon to discover that the mechanic who installed the autopilot had taken a shortcut and failed to drill in one grub screw, which would have prevented the autopilot from failing.</p> <p>Exhausted and feeling defeated, we sailed the Whitsundays up to Cairns … what a fabulous second prize. The experience was amazing for the kids. Their confidence grew. They learnt new skills that you don’t learn at school and they met some amazing other kids. They also managed to do schooling online and via Skype with their fabulous distance education teacher.</p> <p>Maybe next year will be our year to sail to New Caledonia. Let’s wait and see. – Yvette Fishburn</p> <p>5. Sweetly poetic<br />Travelling with kids is beloved and funny, especially amidst differences in currency and money.<br />A whole world out there to explore, something as simple as finding a coin on the seashore.<br />Inspires a little heart that now has a vision to collect many treasures as his every day is filled with wonder &amp; pleasure. – Kylie Turner</p> <p>6. Pardon?<br />While on holidays in Fiji my daughter, after reading the dessert menu, requested a Bar Fart from the waiter.</p> <p>After lots of laughing and a couple of questions we realised she actually wanted a Parfait. ­– Sarah Harvey</p> <p>7. One way to jump the queues<br />We had dragged our four-year-old out all day around Paris and as art lovers we really wanted to see the Louvre and the Mona Lisa. We waited in line, finally got in and walked the thousands of steps to find her.</p> <p>We were at the back of the line waiting to get to the front to see the painting when our four-year-old absolutely chucked a tantrum, started screaming the place down and cried so much she made herself vomit all over me and the floor of the Louvre.</p> <p>Needless to say the crowds disappeared pretty quickly, and although we were mortified, at least we then got to have a front-row seat to see the painting, albeit apologising the whole time to the cleaning staff. – J’aime Newland</p> <p>8. Chaos on the high seas<br />The time we went to New Zealand on a cruise for 14 nights with two adults and four kids under five. The first night we all got food poisoning and spent the next three days in bed. Then when we got off the boat one kid got bitten by a bee and we discovered he was allergic, so we spent two days in the hospital. Then on the second-to-last day we lost one kid for four hours. He had found a ‘friend’ and was on the top deck getting a tan! – Skye Danaher</p> <p>9. Where the wild things are<br />Sleeping in tents on Kenya’s Maasai Mara was exciting, thrilling to go to sleep listening to the sounds of lions in the distance. But I was shocked to hear, three years later, the kids (then aged seven, 10 and 12) confess that one night they woke up and went roaming on foot, seeing elephants and wildebeest in the distance! – Sarah Gover</p> <p>10. Forget something?<br />Memorable in a scary ‘bad Mum’ way: I rounded them up, I made sure the boot was packed and closed, I shrieked at the spilled Coke, eyed the traffic and took off… minus a child.</p> <p>Not far down the road a timid voice from the back asked if we were going to go back for T.</p> <p>I broke traffic laws and the sound barrier getting back just in time to see T wandering out of the loo. Sigh. – Sue Bouquet</p> <p>This one isn’t quite as bad: she only drove off and forgot her cake… on the roof of the car.</p> <p class="p1"><em>This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/10-most-memorable-moments-while-travelling-kids"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

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10 hotel secrets from a former hotel inspector

<p>I worked as a hotel inspector and photographer for seven years at Forbes Travel Guide and Oyster.com (a TripAdvisor company). Though it sounds like a made-up job for a protagonist in a rom-com, I can assure you that inspecting and photographing hotels was very much my real life. I really did get paid to order room service, sit by infinity pools, and ensure the cocktails were made with high-quality booze. I also had to count closet hangers, photograph bathtub grime, and memorise hotel staff names and uniforms.</p> <p>For Forbes Travel Guide, I anonymously booked two to three nights in luxury hotels. I ran each hotel through a series of identical service and facility tests to give it a star rating (yep, that’s how Forbes assigns five-star hotels). The hotels were almost always ultra-expensive and emphasised personalised service and stunning locations. At Oyster, the hotel staff usually knew I was coming and gave me a tour and access to take photographs. I’d often spend the night, but not always. After visiting, I’d write a hotel summary and guide explaining the hotel’s pros, cons, location, rooms and features, accompanied by the photographs.</p> <p>The two jobs were vastly different, but over the span of my career, I’ve slept in several hundred hotels for review purposes on five continents. The hotels ranged from tiny bed-and-breakfasts in Italy to enormous all-inclusive resorts in Cozumel to trendy boutique hotel openings in Los Angeles. Here are some of the hotel secrets I learned over the years. And no, I never experienced bed bugs!</p> <p>Do your hotel research on TripAdvisor<br />If you’re taking a holiday based on a destination, and not to specifically visit one famous hotel, start with a TripAdvisor search of the area. I used to work for TripAdvisor, but it really is the best travel site for reading reviews from past guests, looking at photos, and getting an idea of the different room types and rates without the hotel’s marketing department getting in the way. You can also filter results to look at large hotels or zero in on properties with specific features like all-inclusive rates, swimming pools, adult-only, beachfront, or within a few kilometres of tourist attractions like national parks, beaches and ski lifts.</p> <p>Book with the hotel directly<br />Hotel booking websites, like TripAdvisor and Hotels.com, are an easy online way to figure out which hotels in your price range have open rooms. But once you’ve decided where to stay, book directly with the hotel. For one thing, most hotel inspectors book directly. You might be flagged as a hotel critic or writer and be given special treatment. Note that hotel inspectors are actually trained to look for special treatment, and we might abandon an inspection if we think we’ve been flagged by staff. After all, we’re trying to figure out how hotels actually treat real guests. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t cash in on a suite upgrade or complimentary bottle of Champagne.</p> <p>More importantly, third-party booking sites usually get the worst and tiniest rooms – the rooms that haven’t yet been renovated or are located near the noisy ice machine. Hotels usually keep the best rooms for themselves to sell directly to guests. If you find a great deal on a third-party booking site, the hotel will often price match it to keep your business with them directly.</p> <p>Accountability is also important. If something goes wrong, like the need to cancel or change the dates of stay, the hotel is way more likely to work with you to find a solution or reschedule for the same price if you’ve booked with them. There are lots of third-party hotel booking reservation horror stories out there.</p> <p>Don’t trust the decorative bedding<br />One of the things I miss most about my hotel inspecting days is how comfortable and cosy a hotel bed can be. Freshly ironed Italian sheets, perfectly plumped down pillows and multi-thousand dollar California king-size mattresses are a real bedtime treat. But! Stay away from the decorative elements of the bed. Those decorative pillows and runners likely aren’t getting washed between guests. And if the housekeeping staff stores bedding elements on the floor during turndown service? Just tuck them in the closet for the rest of your stay. Ew.</p> <p>Be direct about your needs<br />I know it’s old-fashioned, but part of my process as a hotel inspector at Forbes Travel Guide was to call the hotel’s reservation hotline and make a booking with their reservation team. Yes, it took longer. But, it’s an ideal time to have a chat with a staff member about your hotel needs. This is the best time to tell the hotel if you’ll be arriving early (there are no guarantees prior to check-in time, but staff can flag your room to be cleaned first). You can also request a room on a higher floor, away from the elevator, or with non-adjoining rooms. Want reservations at their restaurant? Let them know. Need a spa appointment? Now’s the time. The reservationist’s job is to convey all of this data to the front desk and housekeeping teams so they can take care of the details before you arrive.</p> <p>If you don’t want to book on the phone, there should be a comment section where you can type in special requests. At higher-end hotels, a staff member will likely reach out to you prior to arrival to make sure everything’s arranged to your liking. And make sure to mention if you’re celebrating a birthday or anniversary. You just might get a bottle of wine or dessert to mark the occasion, like I did when I celebrated a birthday in Hawaii. The hotel staff sent a bottle of pineapple wine and a birthday cake.</p> <p>Check out the fitness centre for freebies<br />Sure, you can work out in the fitness centre if you want. But even if you’re taking a break from working out while on holiday, stop by the hotel gym. It’s often stocked with bottled water, fresh fruit and energy bars that you can grab. Large hotels and resorts also offer fun classes like outdoor yoga, beach walks and meditation that you might want to check out. For more freebies, ask the concierge desk if they have any coupons or discount codes for tourist activities, restaurants, shops or water parks. And if you need little extras like shampoo, a toothbrush, or another robe – call housekeeping and ask politely.</p> <p>Join the hotel loyalty program<br />Since I often checked in using a pseudonym, or received a comped hotel room at a press rate, I didn’t get the insane hotel loyalty points you might be imagining. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sign up. The only way to earn hotel loyalty points is to book directly with the property. Some third-party booking platforms do run their own independent rewards programs, but those points are only good on their specific sites. Instead, stick to one or two hotel chain’s loyalty program, and you’ll eventually accrue enough points for free breakfast, later checkouts and free visits. Pro tip: check to see if your current credit card partners with any hotel chains for even more bonus points.</p> <p>Splurge on room service, and make it breakfast<br />It’s not a real holiday if you don’t get room service at least once. My advice is to make it breakfast. There’s something so luxurious about eating a fruit plate in a bathrobe and lingering over coffee while you get ready for the day. Breakfast foods tend to travel best, too. I’ve had way too many less than stellar salmon and steak room service dinners (including one that gave me a severe case of food poisoning). If you’re at the hotel for dinner, I highly suggest having it at the bar instead of in your room.</p> <p>Even mid-range hotels usually allow guests to place their room service breakfast order the night before. Most hotels even have a room service order card you can simply place on the exterior doorknob the evening before. Simply make your breakfast selections, choose the time frame you’d like it delivered, and enjoy breakfast in bed the following morning.</p> <p>If there’s a problem, communicate it<br />Hotels want you to enjoy your stay. After all, hotels are part of the hospitality industry. It’s in a hotel’s best interest for all of their guests to have positive experiences so they return and recommend the hotel to friends and family. But issues can arise at even the most highly rated hotels. Before you take to social media to complain, let hotel staff know what went wrong and give them a chance to fix the situation. Maintenance staff is on hand to fix most issues, and management will switch your room (often with an upgrade) or comp your meal if necessary. I once checked into a luxury hotel room in Las Vegas that reeked of cigarette smoke. One quick call to the front desk and I was immediately switched to one that smelled better. Problem solved.</p> <p>Ask for turndown service<br />Not all hotels offer turndown service, but most of the four- and five-star hotels do. It might be automatic, but you can usually request it. It’s definitely worth getting the evening refresh for a stash of fresh towels, straightened bedding and emptied wastebaskets. Staff will often dim the lights and play soft music to set the stage for relaxation. The best turndown service also includes thoughtful extras like bedside water, your slippers laid out and even an evening treat like bath salts or chocolates.</p> <p>Pack duct tape<br />This one is for all the light sleepers out there. Hotel rooms usually have high-quality blackout curtains to block external light, but what about all the lights inside the room? Blinking and bright lights on espresso machines, TVs, smoke detectors and the bedside alarm clock can bother sensitive sleepers. My solution? Place a little piece of duct tape over the lights before bed.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by <span>Megan Wood</span>. This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/travel-hints-tips/10-hotel-secrets-from-a-former-hotel-inspector/"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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When international borders are set to open

<p>The federal government has revealed when Australia's borders may reopen and quarantine-free international travel will be allowed to resume.</p> <p>“I think everyone’s forecast is that everything going well, we would hope to be welcoming international tourists back this time next year,” Tourism Minister Dan Tehan told<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://7news.com.au/sunrise" target="_blank">Sunrise</a>.</p> <p>Tehan said the government was “keeping open the option open of being able to put bubbles in place” with other countries declared as COVID-Safe such as Singapore.</p> <p>The major update comes ahead of Australia's roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine and a "game-changing" new "passport" which will display whether you have been vaccinated or not.</p> <p>The vaccination passport will be issued to people when they receive the jab in the coming weeks.</p> <p>Your proof of vaccination will be accessible from the Express Plus Medicare app, through accounts on myGov as well available in hard copy.</p> <p>“We’re going to do everything we can to make this passport a game-changer so we can get international tourists back,” Minister Tehan added.</p> <p>The Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the final decision on the AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be given this month.</p> <p>The first to receive the vaccine will be hotel quarantine workers, frontline staff and border officials, along with the elderly and most vulnerable.</p> <p>The government hopes most Australians will be vaccinated by late October.</p>

International Travel

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How a woman's love of cats helped her travel the world

<p>A Brisbane woman's love of cats has helped her travel the world almost for free.</p> <p>Madolline Gourley first applied to house and cat sit for strangers on the other side of the world in 2017 and has not looked back since.</p> <p>After falling in love with her first stay in San Francisco, she's managed to travel to 20 other places across the United States and Australia - all without having to pay for accommodation by taking care of people's cats in exchange.</p> <p>Despite still having to fork out money for flights, she said that house and cat sitting saved her a lot of money.</p> <p>“With the free accommodation, you might also get other stuff for free,” Ms Gourley told NCA NewsWire.</p> <p>“Some places I’ve stayed, they told me I could help myself to their food, others have given me gift cards for groceries, people have offered to let me use their car.</p> <p>“Sometimes people will drive you to and from the airport so it’s another saving.”<br /><br />Ms Gourley said she planned her holidays and house sits between her contractual work in government communications.</p> <p>“When I first started cat sitting, earlier that same year I paid to go to America with a friend and there were parts of San Francisco I didn’t get to see, so when I saw there was a house sit in San Francisco I thought I’d go back.</p> <p>“From there I learned about other places and things and added them to a list and kept an eye out for house sits, and if one came up, I applied.</p> <p>“I think the US is really diverse; there's the deserts, the woods, the beaches, then the snow, so it’s a really interesting landscape.”</p> <p>Ms Gourley was forced to come home in March last year from the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic.</p> <p>But while she can't travel internationally, she's set her sights on more local places.</p> <p>Her most recent cat sit was in Darwin, and she said it wouldn't have been on her radar pre-COVID.</p> <p>“The little Persian had the cutest face and I said to the owners, ‘If you didn’t have that cat I don’t think I would have applied for this sit’.</p> <p>“Just looking at the little photo on the ad made me think ‘I have to look after this cat’.”</p> <p>But it’s not just cats that potential house sitters can look after.</p> <p>There are options for taking care of other animals, like fish, dogs, snakes or even farm animals, if that is what the applicant is capable and willing to do.</p> <p>Ms Gourley said she filtered her house-sit searches specifically for cats because she loved the animal and had experience caring for them.</p> <p>“If I want to go on holidays, I’ll check Trusted House Sitters (online) once or twice a day three months before I go and go through what's available and see how many house and cat sits I can fit into one trip.</p> <p>“You might have to give or take a few days in between when one sit starts and one ends … but half the trips have been back-to-back house sits.”</p>

International Travel

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Climate change is flooding the remote north with light – and new species

<p>At just over 14 million square kilometres, the Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest of the world’s oceans. It is also the coldest. An expansive raft of sea ice floats near its centre, expanding in the long, cold, dark winter, and contracting in the summer, as the Sun climbs higher in the sky.</p> <p>Every year, usually in September, the sea ice cover shrinks to its lowest level. The tally in 2020 was a meagre 3.74 million square kilometres, the second-smallest measurement in 42 years, and roughly half of what it was in 1980. Each year, as the climate warms, the Arctic is holding onto less and less ice.</p> <p>The effects of global warming are being felt around the world, but nowhere on Earth are they as dramatic as they are in the Arctic. The Arctic is warming two to three times faster than any other place on Earth, ushering in far-reaching changes to the Arctic Ocean, its ecosystems and the 4 million people who live in the Arctic.</p> <p>Some of them are unexpected. The warmer water is pulling some species further north, into higher latitudes. The thinner ice is carrying more people through the Arctic on cruise ships, cargo ships and research vessels. Ice and snow can almost entirely black out the water beneath it, but climate change is allowing more light to flood in.</p> <p><strong>Artificial light in the polar night</strong><br />Light is very important in the Arctic. The algae which form the foundation of the Arctic Ocean’s food web convert sunlight into sugar and fat, feeding fish and, ultimately, whales, polar bears and humans.</p> <p>At high latitudes in the Arctic during the depths of winter, the Sun stays below the horizon for 24 hours. This is called the polar night, and at the North Pole, the year is simply one day lasting six months, followed by one equally long night.</p> <p>Researchers studying the effects of ice loss deployed moored observatories – anchored instruments with a buoy — in an Arctic fjord in the autumn of 2006, before the fjord froze. When sampling started in the spring of 2007, the moorings had been in place for almost six months, collecting data throughout the long and bitter polar night.</p> <p>What they detected changed everything.</p> <p><strong>Life in the dark</strong><br />At that time, scientists assumed the polar night was utterly uninteresting. A dead period in which life lies dormant and the ecosystem sinks into a dark and frigid standby mode. Not much was expected to come of these measurements, so researchers were surprised when the data showed that life doesn’t pause at all.</p> <p>Arctic zooplankton — tiny microscopic animals that eat algae — take part in something called diel vertical migration beneath the ice and in the dead of the polar night. Sea creatures in all the oceans of the world do this, migrating to depth during the day to hide from potential predators in the dark, and surfacing at night to feed.</p> <p>Organisms use light as a cue to do this, so they shouldn’t logically be able to during the polar night. We now understand the polar night to be a riot of ecological activity. The normal rhythms of daily life continue in the gloom. Clams open and close cyclically, seabirds hunt in almost total darkness, ghost shrimps and sea snails gather in kelp forests to reproduce, and deep-water species such as the helmet jellyfish surface when it’s dark enough to stay safe from predators.</p> <p>For most of the organisms active during this period, the Moon, stars and aurora borealis likely give important cues that guide their behaviour, especially in parts of the Arctic not covered by sea ice. But as the Arctic climate warms and human activities in the region ramp up, these natural light sources will in many places be invisible, crowded out by much stronger artificial light.</p> <p><strong>Artificial light</strong><br />Almost a quarter of all land masses are exposed to scattered artificial light at night, as it’s reflected back to the ground from the atmosphere. Few truly dark places remain, and light from cities, coastlines, roads and ships is visible as far as outer space.</p> <p>Even in sparsely populated areas of the Arctic, light pollution is noticeable. Shipping routes, oil and gas exploration and fisheries extend into the region as the sea ice retreats, drawing artificial light into the otherwise inky black polar night.</p> <p>No organisms have had the opportunity to properly adapt to these changes – evolution works on a much longer timescale. Meanwhile, the harmonic movements of the Earth, Moon and Sun have provided reliable cues to Arctic animals for millennia. Many biological events, such as migration, foraging and breeding are highly attuned to their gentle predictability.</p> <p>In a recent study carried out in the high Arctic archipelago of Svalbard, between mainland Norway and the north pole, the onboard lights of a research vessel were found to affect fish and zooplankton at least 200 metres down. Disturbed by the sudden intrusion of light, the creatures swirling beneath the surface reacted dramatically, with some swimming towards the beam, and others swimming violently away.</p> <p>It’s difficult to predict the effect artificial light from ships newly navigating the ice-free Arctic will have on polar night ecosystems that have known darkness for longer than modern humans have existed. How the rapidly growing human presence in the Arctic will affect the ecosystem is concerning, but there are also unpleasant questions for researchers. If much of the information we’ve gathered about the Arctic came from scientists stationed on brightly lit boats, how “natural” is the state of the ecosystem we have reported?</p> <p>Arctic marine science is about to enter a new era with autonomous and remotely operated platforms, capable of operating without any light, making measurements in complete darkness.</p> <p><strong>Underwater forests</strong><br />As sea ice retreats from the shores of Greenland, Norway, North America and Russia, periods with open water are getting longer, and more light is reaching the sea floor. Suddenly, coastal ecosystems that have been hidden under ice for 200,000 years are seeing the light of day. This could be very good news for marine plants like kelp – large brown seaweeds that thrive in cold water with enough light and nutrients.</p> <p>Anchored to the sea floor and floating with the tide and currents, some species of kelp can grow up to 50 metres (175 feet) – about the same height as Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, London. But kelp are typically excluded from the highest latitudes because of the shade cast by sea ice and its scouring effect on the seabed.</p> <p>These lush underwater forests are set to grow and thrive as sea ice shrinks. Kelp are not a new arrival to the Arctic though. They were once part of the traditional Greenlandic diet, and polar researchers and explorers observed them along northern coasts more than a century ago.</p> <p>Some species of kelp may have colonised Arctic coasts after the last ice age, or spread out from small pockets where they’d held on. But most kelp forests in the Arctic are smaller and more restricted to patches in deeper waters, compared to the vast swathes of seaweed that line coasts like California’s in the US.</p> <p>Recent evidence from Norway and Greenland shows kelp forests are already expanding and increasing their ranges poleward, and these ocean plants are expected to get bigger and grow faster as the Arctic warms, creating more nooks for species to live in and around. The full extent of Arctic kelp forests remains largely unseen and uncharted, but modelling can help determine how much they have shifted and grown in the Arctic since the 1950s.</p> <p><strong>A new carbon sink</strong><br />Although large seaweeds come in all shapes and sizes, many are remarkably similar to trees, with long, trunk-like but flexible bodies called stipes. The kelp forest canopy is filled with the flat blades like leaves, while holdfasts act like roots by anchoring the seaweed to rocks below.</p> <p>Some types of Arctic kelp can grow over ten metres and form large and complex canopies suspended in the water column, with a shaded and protected understorey. Much like forests on land, these marine forests provide habitats, nursery areas and feeding grounds for many animals and fish, including cod, pollack, crabs, lobsters and sea urchins.</p> <p>Kelp are fast growers, storing carbon in their leathery tissue as they do. So what does their expansion in the Arctic mean for the global climate? Like restoring forests on land, growing underwater kelp forests can help to slow climate change by diverting carbon from the atmosphere.</p> <p>Better yet, some kelp material breaks off and is swept out of shallow coastal waters and into the deep ocean where it’s effectively removed from the Earth’s carbon cycle. Expanding kelp forests along the Earth’s extensive Arctic coasts could become a growing carbon sink that captures the CO₂ humans emit and locks it away in the deep sea.</p> <p>What’s happening with kelp in the Arctic is fairly unique – these ocean forests are embattled in most other parts of the world. Overall, the global extent of kelp forests is on a downward trend because of ocean heatwaves, pollution, warming temperatures, and outbreaks of grazers like sea urchins.</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, it’s not all good news. Encroaching kelp forests could push out unique wildlife in the high Arctic. Algae living under the ice will have nowhere to go, and could disappear altogether. More temperate kelp species may replace endemic Arctic kelps such as Laminaria solidungula.</p> <p>But kelp are just one set of species among many pushing further and deeper into the region as the ice melts.</p> <p><strong>Arctic invasions</strong><br />Milne Inlet, on north Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada, sees more marine traffic than any other port in Arctic Canada. Most days during the open-water period, 300-metre-long ships leave the port laden with iron ore from the nearby Mary River Mine. Between 71 and 82 ships pass through the area annually, most heading to — or coming from ports in northern Europe.</p> <p>Cruise ships, coast guard vessels, pleasure yachts, research icebreakers, cargo supply ships and rigid inflatable boats full of tourists also glide through the area. Unprecedented warming and declining sea ice has attracted new industries and other activities to the Arctic. Communities like Pond Inlet have seen marine traffic triple in the past two decades.</p> <p>These ships come to the Arctic from all over the world, carrying a host of aquatic hitchhikers picked up in Rotterdam, Hamburg, Dunkirk and elsewhere. These species — some too small to see with the naked eye — are hidden in the ballast water pumped into on-board tanks to stabilise the ship. They also stick to the hull and other outer surfaces, called “biofouling.”</p> <p>Some survive the voyage to the Arctic and are released into the environment when the ballast water is discharged and cargo loaded. Those that maintain their hold on the outer surface may release eggs, sperm or larvae.</p> <p>Many of these organisms are innocuous, but some may be invasive newcomers that can cause harm. Research in Canada and Norway has already shown non-native invasive species like bay and acorn barnacles can survive ship transits to the Arctic. This raises a risk for Arctic ecosystems given that invasive species are one of the top causes for extinctions worldwide.</p> <p><strong>Expanded routes</strong><br />Concern about invasive species extends far beyond the community of Pond Inlet. Around 4 million people live in the Arctic, many of them along the coasts that provide nutrients and critical habitat for a wide array of animals, from Arctic char and ringed seals to polar bear, bowhead whales and millions of migratory birds.</p> <p>As waters warm, the shipping season is becoming longer, and new routes, like the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route (along Russia’s Arctic coast), are opening up. Some researchers expect a trans-Arctic route across the North Pole might be navigable by mid-century. The increased ship traffic magnifies the numbers and kinds of organisms transported into Arctic waters, and the progressively more hospitable conditions improve their odds of survival.</p> <p>Prevention is the number one way to keep invasive species out of the Arctic. Most ships must treat their ballast water, using chemicals or other processes, and/or exchange it to limit the movement of harmful organisms to new locations. Guidelines also recommend ships use special coatings on the hulls and clean them regularly to prevent biofouling. But these prevention measures are not always reliable, and their efficacy in colder environments is poorly understood.</p> <p>The next best approach is to detect invaders as soon as possible once they arrive, to improve chances for eradication or suppression. But early detection requires widespread monitoring, which can be challenging in the Arctic. Keeping an eye out for the arrival of a new species can be akin to searching for a needle in a haystack, but northern communities may offer a solution.</p> <p>Researchers in Norway, Alaska and Canada have found a way to make that search easier by singling out species that have caused harm elsewhere and that could endure Arctic environmental conditions. Nearly two dozen potential invaders show a high chance for taking hold in Arctic Canada.</p> <p>Among these is the cold-adapted red king crab, native to the Sea of Japan, Bering Sea and North Pacific. It was intentionally introduced to the Barents Sea in the 1960s to establish a fishery and is now spreading south along the Norwegian coast and in the White Sea. It is a large, voracious predator implicated in substantial declines of harvested shellfish, sea urchins and other larger, slow moving bottom species, with a high likelihood of surviving transport in ballast water.</p> <p>Another is the common periwinkle, which ruthlessly grazes on lush aquatic plants in shoreline habitats, leaving behind bare or encrusted rock. It has also introduced a parasite on the east coast of North America that causes black spot disease in fishes, which stresses adult fishes and makes them unpalatable, kills juveniles and causes intestinal damage to birds and mammals that eat them.</p> <p><strong>Tracking genetic remnants</strong><br />New species like these could affect the fish and mammals people hunt and eat, if they were to arrive in Pond Inlet. After just a few years of shipping, a handful of possibly non-native species have already been discovered, including the invasive red-gilled mudworm (Marenzellaria viridis), and a potentially invasive tube dwelling amphipod. Both are known to reach high densities, alter the characteristics of the seafloor sediment and compete with native species.</p> <p>Baffinland, the company that runs the Mary River Mine, is seeking to double its annual output of iron ore. If the expansion proceeds, up to 176 ore carriers will pass through Milne Inlet during the open-water season.</p> <p>Although the future of Arctic shipping remains uncertain, it’s an upward trend that needs to be watched. In Canada, researchers are working with Indigenous partners in communities with high shipping activity — including Churchill, Manitoba; Pond Inlet and Iqaluit in Nunavut; Salluit, Quebec and Nain, Newfoundland — to establish an invasive species monitoring network. One of the approaches includes collecting water and testing it for genetic remnants shed from scales, faeces, sperm and other biological material.</p> <p>This environmental DNA (eDNA) is easy to collect and can help detect organisms that might otherwise be difficult to capture or are in low abundance. The technique has also improved baseline knowledge of coastal biodiversity in other areas of high shipping, a fundamental step in detecting future change.</p> <p>Some non-native species have already been detected in the Port of Churchill using eDNA surveillance and other sampling methods, including jellyfish, rainbow smelt and an invasive copepod species.</p> <p>Efforts are underway to expand the network across the Arctic as part of the Arctic Council’s Arctic Invasive Alien Species Strategy to reduce the spread of invasive species.</p> <p>The Arctic is often called the frontline of the climate crisis, and because of its rapid rate of warming, the region is beset by invasions of all kinds, from new species to new shipping routes. These forces could entirely remake the ocean basin within the lifetimes of people alive today, from frozen, star-lit vistas, populated by unique communities of highly adapted organisms, to something quite different.</p> <p>The Arctic is changing faster than scientists can document, yet there will be opportunities, such as growing carbon sinks, that could benefit the wildlife and people who live there. Not all changes to our warming world will be wholly negative. In the Arctic, as elsewhere, there are winners and losers.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Jørgen Berge. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/arctic-ocean-climate-change-is-flooding-the-remote-north-with-light-and-new-species-150157">The Conversation</a>.</em></p>

International Travel

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How to feel like you are on holiday every day

<p>That holiday feeling... without the holiday<br />Whether Covid-19 has derailed your travel plans (or meant that money is too tight for a holiday this year), or whether you simply want to continue to enjoy that holiday feeling year-round, fear not. We show you how to make every day feel like a holiday.</p> <p>Make sleep a priority<br />Not only does a good night’s slumber improve learning but studies also show that not spending enough time between the sheets can have a negative impact on your daily life. People who are sleep deprived have a harder time controlling their emotions, making decisions, paying attention, and managing stress.</p> <p>“When you’re tired, you tend to cope poorly, eat worse, and have bad habits [such as caffeine consumption] that reinforce poor sleep,” says Dr. Atul Khullar, medical director of the Northern Alberta Sleep Clinic and senior consultant for MedSleep, a nationwide network of clinics that treats sleep disorders.</p> <p>“If you’re sleeping better on vacation, you should really examine your sleep habits in your own bedroom.” Dr. Khullar says that the most important thing is to not bring any problems to bed, which is what happens if you have your phone, computer, or television in the bedroom. It also helps to remove the clock (or angle it) so you can’t watch it and make sure that the room is dark and cool. Finally, you should aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you’re falling short, start by going to bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier. “Added up over a week, it can make a big difference,” he says.</p> <p>Get moving<br />Exercise is one of the best and most effective ways to lower stress, and it’s inexpensive and healthy for you. On holiday, you do it without even thinking about it by walking around a new city. At home, you should build it into your day.</p> <p>“Even moderate-intensity activity, such as going for a brisk walk, releases ‘happy hormones’ like epinephrine, adrenaline, and serotonin, which improve your mood and increase your energy,” says Zilkowsky. “It also lowers all of the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety.” Start with 15 minutes of daily exercise, which is enough time to increase your heart rate and begin to reap the benefits.</p> <p>Cycle to work, do a mini-yoga session or dust off the treadmill in your basement and walk while you watch TV. “It doesn’t have to be a long marathon run or CrossFit session,” says Zilkowsky. As well, she recommends building regular movement breaks into your workday, where you get up from the computer to get a drink of water or stretch.</p> <p>“It increases productivity and helps you stay focused,” says Zilkowsky. Set a notification reminder to help you remember.</p> <p>Eat mindfully<br />On holidays, we enjoy long drawn-out restaurant meals with loved ones; in real life, we scarf down processed foods in the car on the way to hockey practice. It’s a fact that stress leads to poor food choices, says Andrea Holwegner, a registered dietitian.</p> <p>“We have really good research to support that families that eat together have less anxiety, less depression and a reduced risk of obesity,” she says. “They score higher on tests academically, all because they’re simply eating together.”</p> <p>Holwegner recommends that families eat at least one meal a day together to connect and eat healthy (no technology allowed). If dinner isn’t ideal because of work commitments or kids’ activities, let breakfast be the backup. To make meal planning less onerous, ask the question “What’s for supper?” the day before and take something out of the freezer so you won’t have any excuses.</p> <p>Find a restorative practice<br />You know that moment when you lie back on your beach towel, toes in the powdery sand, tropical sun on your face, and literally sigh? That’s called the “ahh feeling,” and it’s important to make time for it daily to unplug, calm your mind and body and take a break from the world, says Zilkowsky.</p> <p>“There are so many ways you can get that feeling, and it doesn’t mean you have to go to the spa,” she says. It could be quiet time with a good book, breathing exercises or meditation, which is gaining more fans as a method to manage stress.</p> <p>“A restorative practice can be anything that makes you feel better,” says Martin Antony, a professor of psychology at Ryerson University and author of The Anti-Anxiety Workbook.</p> <p>“For some, it may be a hot bath or massage; for others, it’s getting social support.” Carve out space for your “ahh” time and schedule it into your day or week until it becomes a habit.</p> <p>Learn how to teach yourself to meditate and beat stress.</p> <p>Make “no” your default answer<br />It’s tempting to be a yes person, assigning yourself to school fundraisers and volunteer committees even though you don’t have the time. That’s the beauty of holidays: We only say yes to things we want to do. Ziplining? Heck, yeah! Hula lessons? Not so much.</p> <p>“Most people say yes to everything, and then they start getting stressed out and have to backtrack,” says Holwegner, who also coaches clients on workplace wellness and stress management.</p> <p>“We see so many overextended people. People have to be very intentional about what their priorities are in life and create boundaries around what’s really meaningful.”</p> <p>If you’re uncomfortable saying no to a request right away, ask for time to think about it. If it’s your boss asking and you really can’t say no, make sure to clarify what items can slide down the priority list to make time for the new project.</p> <p>Be a tourist in your own town<br />Part of what makes a holiday so exciting is the novelty of a new place. You eat at trendy restaurants, sign up for bicycle tours, and try activities like surfing. In short, you do things that bring you joy and let you discover a destination.</p> <p>The good news is, it’s easy to be a tourist in your own town, especially on weekends. Make a point of checking out that hot new jazz bar or signing up for a food or brewery tour. Try a new hike or visit a museum.</p> <p>“Day in and day out, we get up, go to work, come home, and turn on the TV while we’re doing chores,” says Zilkowsky. “We’re in a rut. A lot of that stuff empties our cup. So how do we fill it back up?” In other words, what will make you feel alive, right here, right now? Go and do it.</p> <p>Express gratitude daily<br />Giving thanks is good for you: It breeds optimism, boosts immunity and helps people cope with stress. Every day on vacay is a little shout-out – we feel so fortunate and lucky to be spending time with friends, loved ones or even alone. It’s much harder to practise gratitude back at home while living the daily grind, but it’s tremendously important.</p> <p>“Find gratitude in small, everyday moments,” says Lisa Jones, owner of Spark for Life Coaching. “Put your head down at the end of the day – even if you’re just grateful for surviving the day! That can really improve your mood, your happiness and your sense of fulfillment.”</p> <p>When we become consciously aware of all we have to be thankful for, whether by writing it down in a journal or just making a mental note of it, it puts the little aggravations into perspective.</p> <p class="p1"><em>This article first appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/healthsmart/conditions/mental-health/7-ways-feel-you-are-vacation-every-single-day"><span class="s1">Reader’s Digest</span></a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.com.au/subscribe"><span class="s1">here’s our best subscription offer</span></a>.</em></p> <p class="p1"> </p>

International Travel

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The golf widow

<div><em>Homestead Bay on Lake Wakatipu.</em></div> <p>I’ve never understood my husband’s obsession with golf. Hitting a little white ball around acres of perfectly-manicured grass on gently undulating terrain is not my definition of exhilarating exercise . . . but he loves it despite the frustrations that seem to accompany the game.<br />So while Chris and his mate chased little white balls around the immaculate golf course at Jack’s Point near Queenstown, I set off to explore far more rugged terrain on my ebike, totally happy to be a golf widow for a day. I had scintillating companions — the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu — which dominate the landscape.<br /><br />I’ve always felt a strong affinity for the Remarkables dating back to my childhood days when we spent holidays at our little crib in Arrowtown. I regarded the sawtooth pinnacles of the Remarkables as mystical, my ‘maunga tapu’ (sacred mountain).They are especially dazzling in winter when white snow accentuates the jagged jet black rocks near the summit.<br /><br />One summer, as a dewy-eyed teenager, I climbed the mountain with a friend and camped up there for the night. The mist came swirling in with cold, damp fingers at about 3am which was eerie and far from romantic — but the sunrise was magical.<br /><br />The mountains towered over me as I skirted the golf course and cycled along a stunning lakeside track with Wakatipu sparkling in the sunshine. The weather was glorious and I had the day to myself so I meandered along any track that caught my eye. With a 100-kilometre battery range, I knew I would not run out of power on my Wisper Wayfarer. I cycled through the multi-million dollar property development at the far reaches of Jack’s Point, marvelling at the sprawling mansions under construction and the magnificent views the occupants would enjoy.</p> <p>Late in the day, I discovered Homestead Bay, a perfect spot to park our Maui motorhome overnight. With the snow on the Remarkables turning pink in the sunset and the lapping waters of Lake Wakatipu just a few metres away, it was an idyllic place to stay. The views were even better than the fancy mansions at Jack’s Point.<br /><br />But without knowing for sure whether freedom camping was permitted there, Chris decided it was safer to park in his golf mate’s driveway rather than risk a hefty fine. That’s another great thing about motorhoming. You can invite yourself to stay with friends without imposing on their space. He lives right on the edge of the golf course with a great elevated view of the lake and the mountains.<br /><br />Sticking with the golf theme, next day we cycled around the five-star Millbrook Resort set on 650 acres near Arrowtown. Chris wanted to check out the resort’s world-renowned golf course for future reference while I was keen to see what had become of the rolling farmlands and pretty little stream that I remembered in my youth.<br /><br />I had always known there was once a mill on the site but learning the full story was fascinating. In the 1860s, at the height of the Central Otago gold rush, French brothers John and Peter Butel from Normandy established a 450-acre wheat farm near Arrowtown to feed hungry goldminers. It was known as Mill Farm. The Butel brothers helped create Arrowtown’s first water race which can still be seen around the resort today. Originally built as a service to miners, it became the main water supply for the emerging township. Peter Butel was the first in the district to install electricity, running a generator off the water wheel he used for the mill.</p> <p><img style="width: 300.78125px; height: 500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839353/5-the-mill-stream-babbles-its-way-through-millbrook-resort.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/08d90a01049942c1aa11ce11c146d776" /><br /><em>The mill stream babbles its way through Millbrook Resort.</em></p> <p>In the early 1900s, Millbrook became a camp for the Wakatipu Mounted Rifles and during WW1 it was converted to a hospital for injured Kiwi soldiers returning from Europe. After World War II the land reverted to farming.<br />Four decades later, the Ishii family came up with a plan to establish a lifestyle and golf resort of international standing on the land, and in 1993 Millbrook Resort opened to the public.<br /><br />In 2014 Millbrook purchased the neighbouring farm and in 2018 work began on a new nine-hole golf course which will see the complex grow from a 27-hole to a 36-hole golf course.<br /><br />Nowadays, Millbrook is a five-star resort with luxurious accommodation, four onsite restaurants, a soon-to-be 36-hole championship golf course, day spa, health and fitness centre and conference venue.<br /><br />While Chris was drooling over the prospect of playing 36 holes of golf, I was more interested in the rustic remains of the old farm machinery, the restored mill wheel and buildings and the stately avenue of trees still standing after 150 years. It’s a peaceful, picturesque place surrounded by spectacular mountains. The old mill stream babbles its way through the property, feeding tranquil lakes and ponds that reflect the beauty of the landscape.</p> <p><em><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839354/1-i-cycled-along-a-stunning-lakeside-track-with-wakatipu-sparkling-in-the-sunshine.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/fcc7d5669edc426e8963929017bce464" /><br /><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839354/1-i-cycled-along-a-stunning-lakeside-track-with-wakatipu-sparkling-in-the-sunshine.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/fcc7d5669edc426e8963929017bce464" />I cycled along a stunning lakeside track with Wakatipu sparkling in the sunshine. Photos by Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>We sat in the sunshine and had coffee at the Hole In One Cafe before heading to our next destination. That was the closest Chris got to playing golf that day. Two days of golf widowhood would have been one too many on an ebike holiday.<br /><br /><em>To be continued...</em></p> <div><span>Read <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=2fFzQ1wtyiodwskIBQ4JVvViBc68KsIaXL7JozY1KCD6lEC3C7LYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fheading-for-paradise" target="_blank">part 1</a>, <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=BBsJo-eUsUQYSrWM2VT2uxp14hUBYiAkph4kEzYecoD6lEC3C7LYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fturning-greener-with-the-years" target="_blank">part 2</a>, <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=iBcmRS80gDFdRO80aBdHytOmh-n8EZJl54oaf9flot36lEC3C7LYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fin-the-company-of-giants" target="_blank">part 3</a>, <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=AdZ5KLNAxMnSOVg9b6YxTitSqNh5QRX_JRdfbp5QSYD6lEC3C7LYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fside-tracked-with-justine-tyerman" target="_blank">part 4</a>,  <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=sot8tH660q6Wk4pBtTPTdbhItB3lA7lYLqq94tU-6Uj6lEC3C7LYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2ffreewheeling-with-justine-tyerman" target="_blank">part 5</a> of Justine’s Central Otago road trip here.</span></div> <div></div> <div><em>Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=bLkS9zYVJYJv3cQdm0_X1ZQB_1o4x1s2ikYto_9uL2n6lEC3C7LYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fRRP8C71RRPFmwDJT8y37E%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com" target="_blank">thl</a> in a <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=6W8lckCI1tg0XRjV7mnS7Jf_p7XphCrKPnhc3WsW1cD6lEC3C7LYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2frbTkC81VVQFjEoKS1P9YD%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com" target="_blank">Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome,</a> and rode a <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=iwo5gWMw0OwkyXR-zqiLaN1D_KuAQgmwEtBzG_Z0sHj6lEC3C7LYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fQUVkC91WW0FmDGpT3BLtX%3fdomain%3dwisperbikes.co.nz%2f" target="_blank">Wisper Wayfarer ebike</a> courtesy of <a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=o2YxOLzo4dxmUUl80mMJJFkRJoJmjv8dl7kyMtP8lhD6lEC3C7LYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fMa6oC0YKKGC2p1LUWBkIy%3fdomain%3delectricbikes.co.nz%2f" target="_blank">Electric Bikes NZ</a></em></div>

International Travel

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The first place in the world to be fully vaccinated from COVID-19

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>The tiny cluster of islands known as the Republic of Palau is one of the few places on Earth entirely free from COVID-19.</p> <p>Hoping to maintain that status, it could be one of the first countries to be entirely vaccinated against the deadly disease.</p> <p>The islands are home to around 18,000 people and received its first shipment of the vaccine on Saturday.</p> <p>The vaccine has been developed by US pharmaceutical company Moderna, with vaccinations starting the very next day.</p> <p>Health care workers, key officials and vulnerable groups were among the first to receive the vaccine, with the first shipment including 2,800 doses.</p> <p>The vaccine will be administered in two shots, 28 days apart.</p> <p>Palau has not recorded a single COVID-19 case or virus related death, according to the<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://covid19.who.int/region/wpro/country/pw" target="_blank"><em>World Health Organisation</em></a>.</p> <p>The country's Incident Commander of the Ministery of Health Ritter Udui spoke about receiving vaccines from the United States mass COVID-19 vaccination program known as Operation Warp Speed.</p> <p>The islands are an independent nation but have a free association with Washington.</p> <p>“We are lucky to be in a position where we have access to vaccines through OWS, and our small size makes it easier for us to roll out the program,” Udui said.</p> <p>“It’s not compulsory to receive the vaccine, so our goal is to vaccinate about 80 per cent of the population.</p> <p>“We hope to achieve herd immunity (through the vaccination program).”</p> <p>Sylvia Osarch, 60, was the first person to receive the vaccination.</p> <p>“I felt excited to set an example for my community,” she said.</p> <p>“I want to tell the community that I took the vaccine to protect them.</p> <p>“So when it is their turn to take it, please take it to protect us, the healthcare providers.”</p> </div> </div> </div>

International Travel

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Coronavirus could turn cities into doughnuts: empty centres but vibrant suburbs

<div class="grid-ten large-grid-nine grid-last content-body content entry-content instapaper_body inline-promos"> <p>The most COVID-19 lockdowns were accompanied by sobering news from the UK’s high streets. The Arcadia Group, which owns some of the UK’s most iconic high street clothing retail outlets – Topshop, Topman and Dorothy Perkins, among others – has gone<span> </span><a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55139369">into administration</a>.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the UK’s oldest retail chain, Debenhams, is closing. Around 12,000 people are set to<span> </span><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/business-55142724">lose their jobs</a>, on top of 6,500 already lost this year, after efforts to rescue the retailer fell through.</p> <p>All of this comes at the end of a decade that<span> </span><a href="https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781137521521">saw a major decline of British high streets</a>. Since 2007, some<span> </span><a href="https://www.retailresearch.org/whos-gone-bust-retail.html">556 retail companies</a><span> </span>have failed, with the closure of almost 39,100 stores and the loss of 468,809 jobs as shoppers move online.</p> <p>These impacts vary geographically. Many of the closures are concentrated in city centres. But beyond the city core, there remains the prospect that smaller town centres and suburban high streets might emerge stronger in 2021 as people learn to love shopping locally again.</p> <p><strong>A downwards trend</strong></p> <p>Long before the pandemic, high street retailers were facing stiff competition from out-of-town shopping centres and, more importantly, online retailing.</p> <p>According to the UK’s<span> </span><a href="https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/datasets/retailsalesindexinternetsales">Office for National Statistics</a>, online sales in November 2006 totalled 2.8% of all retail sales. The latest data shows that online sales in October 2020 amounted to 28.1% of total retail sales – but this had already risen to 21.5% in November 2019, before COVID-19 reached the UK.</p> </div> <div class="grid-ten grid-prepend-two large-grid-nine grid-last content-topics topic-list"> <p>The pandemic has exacerbated the downwards slide of high streets. Thousands of the shops closed in March 2020 have not reopened.</p> <p>But there are markedly different patterns from town to town. Local high streets with more convenience shopping, hot food takeaways and other essential businesses have generally performed much better than city centres dominated by department stores and shops selling higher-value items.</p> <p>Take Greater Manchester, for example. Google’s Community Mobility data shows that visitor numbers to retail and recreation spaces in smaller town centres like Bury and Rochdale have recovered faster. In contrast, Manchester city centre has continued to perform much more poorly as commuters continue to work at home and avoid public transport.</p> <p>It may actually be that COVID-19 has encouraged more people to shop locally, and that they have begun to see more value in their local town centres. This raises a fundamental question about the future of city centre retailing.</p> <p>London provides a good example. Now that the first COVID vaccine has been approved by the UK government, central London will undoubtedly eventually return to some of its former vitality, attracting tourists and other visitors to enjoy its eclectic night-time economy, theatres, galleries and museums.</p> <p>But, if more people prefer to work at home and not head into central London from the suburbs, the retail retraction we have witnessed in 2020 will only worsen.</p> <p><strong>Hollow cities</strong></p> <p>Retail and recreation visitor numbers in central London – the City of Westminster and the City of London – have been particularly affected by COVID-19 when compared to the wider city.</p> <p>Overall average daily visitor numbers to retail and recreation spaces within Westminster and the City of London fell by 70.6% and 76.7% respectively between February 15 and November 24 2020. The most recent lockdown, which commenced on November 5, saw retail and recreation visitor numbers fall to 90%-92% below pre-COVID levels.</p> <p>In comparison, overall average retail and recreation visitor numbers in inner London and outer London councils were down by 54.9% and 38.4% respectively. Our mapping of the impact of COVID-19 on visitor journeys to retail and recreation places across London effectively reveals a “doughnut city”: shoppers have abandoned the centre, while suburbs have remained rather more resilient.</p> <p>The future of city centre high streets after COVID-19 is uncertain. One answer would be to suggest the cities will bounce back as vaccinated workers and shoppers return, and that their shopping streets will live on.</p> <p>However, this does not take into account the scars left by COVID-19. Take London’s iconic Oxford Street as an example. Since late March, department store John Lewis has halved the size of its Oxford Street store. House of Fraser, another department store, is to be part-repurposed as offices and a gym. Topshop’s flagship store on the street is at risk of closure.</p> <p>With online retail behemoth Amazon emerging as one of the only winners of COVID-19, we have to be realistic about the future of central London as a shopping hub.</p> <p>Retail rents are declining fast in the West End, and it is likely that prime retail sites will be converted to offices or even homes. The UK government has already loosened planning regulations that permits the conversion of shops to residential uses without planning permission – all part of the drive to solve the housing crisis.</p> <p>We are witnessing a switch in the use of urban space, as people working from home increasingly spend time, and money, outside city centres. The hope is that smaller high streets and those local centres most valued as hubs of community life, not just places of consumption, will witness a renaissance in 2021. The viability of larger centres – Birmingham, Manchester, and especially London – looks to have fundamentally unravelled.</p> <p class="p1"><em>Written by Paul J. Maginn and Philip Hubbard. This article first appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-could-turn-cities-into-doughnuts-empty-centres-but-vibrant-suburbs-151406">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> </div>

International Travel

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First the dance floors and now the Kiwis

<p><span>Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Friday that the state will open its borders to New Zealand from 1 am Saturday December 12.</span><br /><br /><span>Palaszczuk told the </span><em>Today<span> </span></em><span>show that the “great success story of Queensland” and of New Zealand that had led to the chief health officer’s surprise decision.</span><br /><br /><span>“(Chief health officer) Dr Jeannette Young advised me late last night that New Zealand is good to go,” she said.</span><br /><br /><span>“So, visitors coming in from New Zealand from 1 am tomorrow are welcome into Queensland.</span><br /><br /><span>“We are hoping that eventually New Zealand will not have to hotel quarantine upon return, and then there would be free flowing movement between the two.”</span><br /><br /><span>Those returning from Australia will still have to quarantine for two weeks upon arriving into New Zealand.</span><br /><br /><span>New Zealand has reached 28 days of no community transmission, and as a result, Dr Young told Ms Palaszczuk she was “more than happy” to allow Kiwis into Queensland.</span><br /><br /><span>“It’s a wonderful time of year to allow that to happen as well. All the stars are aligned at the moment, and fingers crossed that everybody is keeping a really tight reign on their hotel quarantine … That’s the biggest risk,” Ms Palaszczuk said.</span><br /><br /><span>New Zealand workers will also be able to work on Queensland fruit farms, which are desperately in need of help.</span><br /><br /><span>Ms Palasczuk says she remains concerned by hotel quarantine, due to the rising number of infections in the northern hemisphere, which has resulted in more cases being detected in hotel quarantine.</span><br /><br /><span>“We have more Australians returning home, and that’s a good thing,” Ms Palaszczuk said.</span><br /><br /><span>“I think it is great to see returning Australians are getting home to their loved ones.”</span><br /><br /><span>Ms Palaszczuk will attend the first in-person National Cabinet meeting in nine months on Friday.</span><br /><br /><span>She will discuss returning traveller caps and whether international students should be allowed in with other leaders.</span><br /><br /><span>“I’m very concerned about international students returning. The priority has to be on Australians coming home,” Ms Palaszczuk said.</span><br /><br /><span>“I have always raised concerns about students not doing hotel quarantine … It’s a big protective measure.</span><br /><br /><span>“I would not like to see students allowed in to stay at dormitories on campuses. I think that’s a huge risk, not just to students, but a huge risk to the Australian population.”</span><br /><br /><span>It comes just one day after Queensland announced indoor dancing would be allowed again from Monday.</span><br /><br /><span>The Premier said the announcement would be a big boost to the state’s young people.</span><br /><br /><span>“Young people will be celebrating next week when the dance floors open,” she said.</span></p>

International Travel

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New date for general overseas travel revealed

<div class="post_body_wrapper"> <div class="post_body"> <div class="body_text redactor-styles redactor-in"> <p>In a move that has angered Aussies eager to travel overseas, the Australian government has increased international travel bans until at least March 17th.</p> <p>This is due to the government extending its biosecurity emergency period by another three months.</p> <p>The extension followed after advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) that said that COVID-19 was an ongoing threat and still was a significant public health risk despite the introduction of the Pfizer vaccination.</p> <p>Health Minister Greg Hunt said that despite security in Australia, the coronavirus pandemic was still escalating in many other countries.</p> <p>“The disease is spreading as quickly as ever,” he said.</p> <p>“The international world remains a challenging and dangerous environment and Australia won‘t be fully safe until the international community is safe.”</p> <p>The extension of the biosecurity emergency period means that Australians are only able to leave the country with specific exemptions, with 95,325 given since the start of the emergency period on March 18th.</p> <p>Acting Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said it was a difficult, but necessary decision.</p> <p>“We weighed up all of the issues, as the Minister has pointed out, but particularly the ongoing situation internationally and the sort of risks that could come to Australia if we relaxed at this point,” he said.</p> </div> </div> </div>

International Travel

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Freewheeling with Justine Tyerman

<p><em>Arrowtown’s historic Police Camp Cottage in autumn. Picture by Mike Langford</em></p> <p>With visions of sipping a Peregrine rosé at the end of the 20km trail from Arrowtown to the Gibbston Valley, we set off early on our Wisper Wayfarer ebikes while a skiff of frost was still on the ground. We never seemed to tire of ebiking, regardless of the weather.</p> <p>The cycle and walking track runs alongside the tranquil, willow-lined Arrow River made famous by the gold rushes of the 1860s. It crosses the river several times using a variety of clever methods including an ingenious underbridge below the road bridge at Whitechapel to keep riders safe from the busy highway.</p> <p>A highlight was riding over the graceful 80-metre Edgar Suspension Bridge, high above the Arrow River where it plunges into a deep gorge before joining the mighty turquoise Kawarau River. An impressive engineering feat, the structure is so light on the landscape, it’s almost invisible. It’s named after a distant relative of mine so I felt proud to be riding over it.</p> <p><img style="width: 300.78125px; height: 500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839145/1-justine-and-chris-on-the-frankton-to-kelvin-heights-track-around-lake-wakatipu-copy.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/031588eabbc440799fb7430082d85f75" /><br /><em>A highlight was riding over the beautiful 80-metre Edgar Bridge named after a distant relative of mine.</em></p> <p>Another thrill was crossing the historic 1880 Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge, a landmark which used to herald the much-anticipated announcement from our parents that we were nearing Arrowtown after a four-five hour car trip from Dunedin. After its replacement in 1963 with a new bridge, the old one became the exclusive domain of bikers, hikers and A.J. Hackett’s Kawarau River bungy, the world’s first ever bungy jump.</p> <p>We stopped, as we always do, to watch a steady stream of thrill seekers plunge off the bridge head first, feet first, in pairs or alone, screaming their heads off. We shook our heads in disbelief, and continued on our way along the breath-taking Gibbston Valley on a track right on the edge of the canyon. That was thrilling enough for us.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839142/3-the-bungy-jump-platform-at-the-historic-kawarau-bridge-on-the-arrowtown-to-gibbston-valley-track.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/addf7eb38aec425aabfc6c72d531491b" /><br /><em>The bungy jump platform at the historic Kawarau Bridge on the Arrowtown to Gibbston Valley track.</em></p> <p>As luck would have it, Peregrine Winery was closed for a wedding but with a plethora of other wineries in the valley to choose from, we found a delectable rosé at Chard Farm instead.</p> <p>After a night at the excellent Arrowtown Camping ground where we were again surrounded by Maui look-alikes (Kiwis were out in force supporting the tourism industry!), we cycled up the gorge towards the old gold mining ghost town of Macetown, as we often do whenever we visit my childhood holiday place. In the summer tart gooseberries, sweet raspberries and pastel-coloured lupins grow wild and dusty on the side of the track but in the winter, hoar frost transforms the skeletal plants to silvery works of filigree. Whatever the season the play of light on the tussocked hills and the dark shadows cast by the high mountain ranges and deep gorges is spell-binding.</p> <p>On the way back, we visited the Police Camp Cottage in the Arrow River, possibly the most photographed structure in Arrowtown. Inside the cottage, there’s excellent information about the history of the building. It was built in 1863 and is Arrowtown's oldest surviving timber building. It was constructed from pit-sawn red beech and had hand-cut shakes on the roof. Originally in Cardigan Street, it was moved to its present site in 1991.</p> <p>When gold was discovered in 1862 in the Arrow and Shotover Rivers by Jack Tewa, miners descended on Arrowtown in their droves. They were an unruly lot so law enforcement and the building of a jail and the cottage quickly followed. Its exact purpose is not known but bars on the windows suggest it might have been used as a gold deposit office that held the gold securely before it was transported by armed escort to Dunedin.</p> <p>Also inside the cottage, there’s a wealth of information about rare plants and protected wildlife such as the kea and cryptic skink, efforts to control wilding pines and protect native birds, lizards and insects against predators like stoats, ferrets, cats and rats.</p> <p>The entire Wakatipu Basin is a network of immaculately-maintained hiking and biking trails so next day, we were spoilt for choice. </p> <p>After queueing up with the locals for hearty filled rolls from the Arrowtown Bakery, we rode along the Kawarau River, sparkling like phosphorus at the foot of the Remarkables, terrain that was new to us despite holidaying in the area for decades. We crossed the Shotover River on another iconic landmark, the Lower Shotover Bridge, now open only to foot and pedal traffic . . . and probably horses. Tall poplars, magnificent in autumn but gaunt in winter, stood sentinel at the entrance to the bridge.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839143/4-justine-taking-a-break-in-the-gibbston-valley-overlooking-the-kawarau-river.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/49f6ca95ed0b4665b89055bc3e4cece9" /><img style="width: 300.78125px; height: 500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839143/4-justine-taking-a-break-in-the-gibbston-valley-overlooking-the-kawarau-river.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/49f6ca95ed0b4665b89055bc3e4cece9" /><br /><em>Justine taking a break in the Gibbston Valley overlooking the Kawarau River.</em></p> <p>We whizzed along the shingle riverbed and over the historic Kawarau Falls Bridge which has been superseded by a smart new two-lane structure.</p> <p><img style="width: 300.78125px; height: 500px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839146/1-justine-and-chris-on-the-frankton-to-kelvin-heights-track-around-lake-wakatipu.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/bf3c91f0bc0f4169ab93fe038d24dd51" /><br /><em>Justine and Chris on the Frankton to Kelvin Heights track around Lake Wakatipu.</em></p> <p>The track skirts the edge of Lake Wakatipu in front of the Hilton Hotel at Frankton and passes below million-dollar mansions interspersed with quaint Kiwi cribs. We lunched by the lake at Kelvin Heights. Angry storm clouds amassing down the lake looked ominous, so we high-tailed it back to Arrowtown on our zippy e-bikes arriving at our cosy Maui motorhome just before the heavens opened.</p> <p>To be continued...</p> <p>Read <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=0GMIbnN87DsjMFAs_RntUvaijjyLSXDBhcbZZtsBrYAAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fheading-for-paradise">part 1</a>, <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=bjiUdwydiTZ4jgDPbudNlZIFwb4Pg9C4-0piecnz1T4AKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fturning-greener-with-the-years">part 2</a>, <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=G_WyeMHKC2MrVIogTpUti2dfBXXWyFZwiBNTkl3u3wwAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fin-the-company-of-giants">part 3</a>, and <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=1Yof2WyTpVF-KYh4zlyCMGD1WNVR44HEcHeU60koW2gAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fwww.oversixty.com.au%2ftravel%2finternational-travel%2fside-tracked-with-justine-tyerman">part 4</a> of Justine’s Central Otago road trip here.</p> <p><em>Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=AxB4ieU8dbDlo-KSg6mfo2TS0ohvK_yu3Y_Ms9OprbgAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2f0NZvC71RRPFAjrRi8EI5K%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com">thl</a> in a <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=rH__qBmu8aq4Meyz4q2EX23I1hOnFnekHAcKFtIGKPgAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fSZ3uC81VVQF68mku1wRMn%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com">Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome,</a> and rode a <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=RJ-XB2tGxAqzF0-xb_RAw9i5dZyJtxQEWsOaB25D_hQAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fhPV0C91WW0FkVJOf3kUTe%3fdomain%3dwisperbikes.co.nz%2f">Wisper Wayfarer ebike</a> courtesy of <a href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=2Hxqx-1UtuJkw8bO_hX6hH94XbuW1HR20NwwJgKtuXsAKJWdDZvYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fy0IvC0YKKGCG0nyUWUHfG%3fdomain%3delectricbikes.co.nz%2f">Electric Bikes NZ</a></em></p>

International Travel

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A vaccine will be a game-changer for international travel. But it’s not everything

<p>The United Kingdom yesterday became the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use. Following a review by the country’s drug regulator, the UK government announced it will begin rolling out the vaccine next week.</p> <p>Other countries are likely to follow soon, authorising the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and possibly other leading candidates too. Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration says it’s continuing to assess the Pfizer/BioNTech data.</p> <p>The world has been eagerly awaiting a COVID vaccine, touted since early in the pandemic as our best hope of returning to “normal”. A big part of this is the resumption of international travel.</p> <p>Certainly, an effective vaccine brings this prospect much closer. But a vaccine alone won’t ensure a safe return to international travel. There are several other things Australia and other countries will need to consider.</p> <p>Give $30 a month and help improve Australian media.<br />International travel in the age of a COVID vaccine<br />When people are vaccinated before boarding a flight, we can have confidence there will be significantly less COVID risk associated with international travel. However, the data we have at the moment doesn’t tell us everything we need to know.</p> <p>Let’s take the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as an example. They have reported the efficacy of their mRNA vaccine to be 95% in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, having tested it on around half of the 43,000 participants in their phase 3 trial (the other half received a placebo).</p> <p>The vaccine appears to be safe with only mild side-effects in some participants. And notably, the study included people aged 65 and over and those with health conditions that put them at higher risk of more severe disease.</p> <p>However, the study hasn’t officially reported the efficacy of the vaccine against becoming infected, as opposed to displaying symptoms. While it’s encouraging to know a vaccine stops people getting sick, this point is important because if people can still become infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), they may still be able to spread it.</p> <p>Ugur Şahin, BioNTech’s cofounder and chief executive, believes the vaccine could reduce transmission by 50%. This puts something of a dampener on vaccination being the key to the safe resumption of international travel.</p> <p>At this stage, we also don’t know how long immunity will last for those vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. But as the trial will continue for several more months, some of this data should become available in 2021.</p> <p>A doctor or scientists fills a syringe from a vaccine vial.<br />Over time, vaccine trials will reveal more data. </p> <p>It’s going to take months — or, more realistically, years — to vaccinate everybody who wants to be vaccinated. It won’t be feasible to expect every single person travelling internationally to be vaccinated.</p> <p>There are several countries that appear never to have had community transmission. As of November, these included many Pacific island nations such as Tonga, Kiribati, Micronesia, Palau, Samoa and Tuvalu.</p> <p>Then there are countries that have COVID-19 under control with little, if any, community transmission. Examples include Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam and Singapore.</p> <p>People arriving in Australia from these countries pose very little risk and should not need to quarantine, whether vaccinated or not. For other countries, it would very much depend on their epidemic situation at the time.</p> <p>Some organisations have already developed COVID risk ratings for different countries or jurisdictions. For example, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) rates the COVID situation in each European country as “stable”, “of concern” or “of serious concern”.</p> <p>These risk assessments are based on factors including each country’s 14-day COVID case notification rate, the proportion of tests coming back positive, and the rate of deaths.</p> <p>Clearly, people from high-risk areas or countries will still need to quarantine on arrival, unless they have been vaccinated. It’s likely Australia will develop a similar rating system to the ECDC to streamline these decisions.</p> <p><strong>Testing</strong><br />Many countries now require a negative COVID test certificate before entry. For example, Spain requires a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours before travelling.</p> <p>Similarly, some airlines, such as Emirates and Etihad, are mandating COVID testing before travel.</p> <p>It would also make sense to have rapid antigen testing available at airport arrivals or border crossings. Although not as accurate as PCR tests, these tests would provide a second check that a traveller hasn’t incubated COVID-19 on the way to their destination.</p> <p>Even with vaccination, testing will still be important, as vaccination doesn’t guarantee a passenger is not infected, or infectious.</p> <p><strong>Certificates and passports</strong><br />Once COVID-19 vaccines become accessible, countries and airlines may well require visitors to produce a certificate of vaccination.</p> <p>Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has suggested all Qantas international passengers from next year would be required to have a COVID vaccination certificate.</p> <p>There are also many groups around the world working on immunity passports and technologies to track travellers’ virus status.</p> <p>For example, the International Air Transport Association is developing a digital health pass which will carry testing and vaccination status.</p> <p>It’s likely international travel will be allowed globally in the second half of next year, once vaccination is well underway.</p> <p>It will be wonderful to be able to travel internationally again, but wherever we go — even with a vaccine — it will be some time before travel looks like it did before the pandemic.</p>

International Travel

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Side-tracked with Justine Tyerman

<p>The handful of Kiwis on the road from Glenorchy to Queenstown got a bonus the day we left Paradise – there were two of everything: mountains upright in their usual position and upside down in the Lake Wakatipu looking-glass. Reality and reflection were hard to tell apart.</p> <p>The historic TSS Earnslaw was steaming towards Queenstown against a stunning backdrop of the Remarkables after a fresh fall of snow.</p> <p>Arrowtown, my childhood holiday home, was our next destination for... but we got side-tracked along the way as often happens when you have the freedom and flexibility of travelling by motorhome.</p> <p>About 5km from Arrowtown, I shrieked ‘Pull over here!’ which my obliging husband was able to do safely at short notice, only because this usually busy tourist road was deserted.</p> <p>We simply could not by-pass Lake Hayes, the world-famous mirror lake where we used to swim and picnic as kids in the summer. We drove down to the water’s edge and debated whether we had time to cycle around the lake on the superb new trail before the weather was forecast to crack up late in the afternoon.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839073/wyus57w0.png" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/58cc0af220ca436e903204b86c8412cd" /><br /><em>Lake Hayes in autumn regalia. Photo by Destination Queenstown</em></p> <p>With our powerful Wisper Wayfarer ebikes aboard, we were confident that if the weather misbehaved or we miscalculated the distance, we’d be able to get back home fast.         </p> <p>We set off in full winter ski gear with a hint of snow in the air. The 8km grade 2 uppy-downy loop track was a bit like a roller coaster ride climbing high above the lake on the far side and then descending steeply so I made great use of the power-assist and throttle on my Wayfarer. The hills were no trouble at all, such a novelty for a cyclist like me for whom the word ‘pushbike’ has, in the past, had a literal meaning - whenever I encountered anything other than flat terrain, I became a pusher.</p> <p>The trail around the lake was breathtakingly scenic even though the mirror effect was more like crumpled taffeta rather than satin. Coronet Peak, resplendent in pure white, stood regally on one side of the lake and the iconic Double Cone of the Remarkables Range on the other.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 300.78125px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7839044/justine2-edit.png" alt="Our Maui Cascade motorhome on the shores of Lake Hayes. Photo by Justine Tyerman" data-udi="umb://media/8ea30167c7194d98a16555fe32547a27" /><br /><em>Our Maui Cascade motorhome on the shores of Lake Hayes. Photo by Justine Tyerman</em></p> <p>There were many information boards along the way explaining the preciousness of the wetlands, the many native water birds who nest there such as the endangered crested grebe, Project Gold that aims to re-establish kowhai trees which once flourished in Central Otago, and the sculpting of the landscape by massive glaciers in the last Ice Age. </p> <p>We stopped for lunch at the highest point of the trail and looked across the lake at the multi-million-dollar houses that have sprung up along shore in recent years. Discovering a lovely freedom camping spot on the edge of the lake, we decided to park there for the night instead of continuing on to the Arrowtown Holiday Park.</p> <p>Ah, the joys of travelling in a fully self-contained Maui motorhome with the convenience of having a kitchen, fridge, freezer, bathroom, bedroom, lounge and dining room at our disposal. The ability to stop wherever and whenever the spirit willed gave us a delicious sense of freedom.</p> <p>By early evening, snowflakes began to drift down from a slate grey sky and the temperatures plummeted. We pulled the thermal blinds, turned on the heating and enjoyed hot showers followed by tummy-warming gluhwein as we prepared dinner.</p> <p>Showering in a confined space is quite an art and requires a high degree of organisation, ensuring one has everything needed before enclosing oneself in a cubicle about a quarter the size of a regular shower. The gas-heated hot water cylinder allows for two 3-minute hot showers, or longer when you are plugged into mains power at a camping ground.</p> <p>Overnight, we were so snug we had to open a skylight... even in the snow.</p> <p>To be continued...</p> <p>Read <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/heading-for-paradise" target="_blank">part 1</a>, <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/turning-greener-with-the-years" target="_blank">part 2</a> and <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/international-travel/in-the-company-of-giants" target="_blank">part 3</a> of Justine’s Central Otago road trip here.</p> <p><em>*Māori originally named the lake Te Whaka-ata a Haki-te-kura after an ancestress called Haki-te-kura whose image is said to be reflected in the lake.</em></p> <p><em>*Justine Tyerman travelled courtesy of <a rel="noopener" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=7BtkdCC0m6zkzxkMbzBp_u-wDIiN0dqP5C4--uPeeORQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fJhhmC1WLLJHWzgHLuGio%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com" target="_blank">thl</a> in a <a rel="noopener" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=Qkj6NLpKp2tlANmS7flVVwRI3QQ1--ikfep03D2Q2yJQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fxoYeC2xMMKiylrC1Psne%3fdomain%3dmaui-rentals.com" target="_blank">Maui 4-berth Cascade motorhome,</a> and rode a <a rel="noopener" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=EREOstBETVaXmFP1mVnBaKL_EfzEYOF92sK3gvj8QSNQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2f7HYRC3QNNLSNA3T2mkmn%3fdomain%3dwisperbikes.co.nz%2f" target="_blank">Wisper Wayfarer ebike</a> courtesy of <a rel="noopener" href="https://email.directgroup.com.au/owa/redir.aspx?C=el2BMJzFCzOsVE0F-1QDqIDJkkAkbT1z4nc0mxuNGHZQEIbDN5PYCA..&amp;URL=https%3a%2f%2fprotect-au.mimecast.com%2fs%2fGgjoC4QOOMSk0PCWQMn4%3fdomain%3delectricbikes.co.nz%2f" target="_blank">Electric Bikes NZ.</a></em></p>

International Travel