Travelling in 2021

Kicking off a new year of travel!

What a bleak start as a long time Delta Diamond member.  This really provides a blunt state of the travel world doesn’t it?   Well, given the challenges and stories of 2020, I thought it was appropriate to reflect on the past year and also do a little forecasting for 2021.  Sound good?

Looking back at 2020, it has been a challenging year from a travel perspective.  My only (minor) trip was in March and it was it was the last time I flew on a plane in 2020.  As a result it was my post popular posting of the year.  Which one was it?

Now which was the posting that was the most popular post of all time and the second most popular this year despite the world being in lockdown?

I think we all look forward to concerts, events and travelling again! Hence, the third most popular posting this year was a posting that I kept up to date on travel planning:

Now, that will be the theme a little later below, but first, let’s look at a few stats from the year in totality that I thought were quite interesting.

Overall, how did the site stats compare to last year?  Overall, it had 7,500 views and 3,800 visitors which is approximately 45% less that 2019.  Wow, only a 50% drop versus almost a 90% drop in most travel!

Now, one of the more interesting stats is the top countries of followers or readers.  What countries outside of the US and UK were in the top ten?  It is fascinating that China is in the top ten, I actually thought that WordPress might have been blocked in China!

OK – with that done, let’s look forward to 2021.  Yes, I am craving to start travelling internationally again, and it is still not clear when that will be allowed, safe and what restrictions we will face.  This guy cannot wait to show up in the next picture in the next country to say the least.

I do have to agree with this great NY Times article which basically reminds us: when the pandemic ends, don’t wait or delay to plan your next adventure!  I know that when I encountered a potential life ending event, I was not mad that I might not be able to ever travel, because I never delayed or waited.  I am always looking forward and never missing a moment to plan and take my next trip.  My goal is still to visit 100+ countries before I can no longer travel…but I am not looking forward to wearing a mask for 10+ hours while I look out the window towards my next destination.

Although I have been to all continents, above the Arctic Circle and even to Antarctica, I have only run on 6 of the 7 continents which I have tried to capture in many of my running posts.  I still have not RUN in Australia yet, the question is whether I will be able to do that in 2021???  I hopeful that we might be able to take a potential A&K trip towards the end of the year.

So, what does the year look like for a chance to actually accomplish that goal?

  1. We will need a vaccine
  2. Most of the world will need a vaccine for places to be open
  3. People will need vaccine passports (like this article suggests)

Building on that, I had a guest author capture some great summary guidelines in her posting, and regularly checking on where the lockdowns have ended to plan your flights and stays as soon as they become available.

I do want to take a cruise again, but I hate to say it, until we have worldwide (herd) immunity, I just don’t see cruises being safe, attractive or a great choice in 2021.  Let’s be hopeful in mid 2022 given all the data and stats we can observe at this time.

So, do not wait wait to plan your next adventure.  Pick your goal (destination) and keep a very close eye on when that country is open again. I think this is the best site to track all countries status and is regularly updated.  Assume (and yes I know you should never assume, but…) that flights, hotels, tours, etc. will all be snatched up quick once a country opens again.  Be ready and go fast (once you have your vaccine!).

Happy New Year and Happy travels in 2021!

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Wallace Falls

It is December 2020 and we are still locked down due to COVID-19.  I am still keeping an eye out for international travel planning opportunities like in this post here, but due to the restrictions, in 2020, we mostly focused on day and weekend trips in the great Northwest.  Here are a few previous ones:

We also hiked Kendall Lakes over the holidays to check out the snow as well:  Kendall Lakes hike

Now, this one was Wallace Falls which I had never heard of before despite living in WA for 30 years!  It is a gorgeous state park with a large number of easy and medium trails and many places to have a picnic.

One of the disadvantages is the route is on the way to Steven’s Pass (where many go skiing in the winter months).  This means VERY long backups and bumper to bumper traffic in both directions in Monroe and Sultan sometimes.

But, once you arrive, and even when the parking lot is overflowing and many people are in the park, you have a LOT of space to yourself.  You have a choice of both easy trails and medium challenge trails depending on you feel.

Some of the mountain views are gorgeous, but be prepared for temperature variances as the temp can rise and fall quite quickly based on where you are on the trail.  Goes to warm to quite chilly in just a few minutes.

Depending on how far you want to hike, there are many falls and rushing water to capture your attention.

Plenty of room great pictures on large bridges.

I think there are 4 falls altogether.  The lower, small, medium and large.

Great naming!

The smaller is the most popular as it is approximately a 4 mile round trip and can be easily be visited in 2 hours if you take an easy pace, avoid people not wearing masks and keeping yourself socially distance on a few of the tight corners on the trails.

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Thank You to Everyone: My 10 Year Anniversary of Travel

I want to celebrate Exactly 10 years ago, a had a ruptured brain aneurysm.

According to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation, an estimated six million people (one in 50) in the U.S. have an unruptured brain aneurysm.

On December 14th, it ruptured after no previous side effects, indicators, migraines or warnings.  Within minutes, I lost all senses and no idea what was happening.

8 days later, I woke up from a coma.  Thanks to Dr. Kim, I was a survivor. A brilliant surgeon, researcher and dedicated to understanding what actually causes aneurysms and how they can determine which ones will burst.

I had a lot of brain damage and now a permanent titanium clip in my head.  I never gave up and to this day, I continually work to improve my speech which was the area that was damaged behind my left eye.  It is amazing on what the brain can do and shift functions when trauma occurs.

and quickly went from being fed from a tube to demanding a Happy Meal and Top Pot donuts.  10 days later, I left the hospital and enjoyed a glass of champagne on New Years Eve, 2010.

What was I thankful for?  Of course, I was thankful for the medical staff of Harborview hospital, University Of Washington and all my friends and family that were there for me when I needed it.

But the one thing I wanted to call out today: from the moment I woke up in the hospital and had no idea if I would ever walk or talk again, but I was thankful for all the travel and experiences I had been able to experience to date. I was not sure if I would be able to travel again, but I was so happy of how much I can been able to accomplish to date.  And now, 10 years later, I still thankful for everyone and how I can still look forward to traveling again when it is safe and the world opens up.

The goal I set 10 years ago was to visit 100 countries by the time I could not travel any more. I have reached 63 so far, and I think I can still achieve my goal despite all the challenges COVID-19 has been presenting to us.  But I am always planning as you can see in these posts. 🙂

Thank you everyone, I look forward to experiences and opportunities ahead of us!

 

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A Guide to Planning Future Travel After the COVID-19 Pandemic

This week, I have a guest author contributing with a great article on how to plan for future travel after the pandemic!  I think Emma provides a more holistic perspective than the posting I try to maintain with some overall travel details.

On to the story!

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed every facet of modern daily life, including travel. Globetrotters have found opportunities to see the world severely limited in the last year. Meanwhile, the tourism industry has taken a serious hit, leaving many to wonder if it will ever recover. Even with a vaccine, it’s doubtful that things will return to like they were before. Instead, it’s time to adjust to a “new normal.”

It might seem like travel is impossible, but that’s not the case. David Cross Travels is finding unique ways to keep moving. From charting out local hiking trips to scouting out lockdown-free beach vacations, David offers resources for those who have been bitten by the travel bug and don’t want to stop exploring.

With some research and advanced planning, it is possible to keep traveling. The below guide provides actionable tips on how to plan for future journeys while staying safe.

 

Prioritize destinations within driving distance.

International travel for Americans is particularly difficult right now, as many countries have put restrictions in place barring entry from the United States. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest avoiding airplanes, which are riskier in terms of potential COVID-19 exposure than driving. Airports put you in contact with many people, while social distancing is virtually impossible on planes.

Instead of jetting off to faraway locations, look for spots you can visit within driving distance. Get inspired by The Culture Trip’s list of top sights in the U.S., which covers everything from The Grand Canyon to Mount Rushmore and the Hollywood Sign. Alternatively, pick a city on the map and create your very own city trip. For example, Bellevue, WA, offers museums, a botanical garden, a lakeside beach, and more.

 

Chart out road trips in advance.

Spontaneous travel is a thing of the past. Future trips will require more advanced planning. Before you jet off, check state restrictions in advance. Look at the official website of the state to see if stay-at-home orders are in place. Scout locations where you can enjoy a lockdown-free vacation. You can also check COVID-19 cases by county using this handy tool from Johns Hopkins.

If you’re headed on a long road trip, plan your pit stops beforehand. Prioritize restaurants and hotels that have COVID-19 safety measures in place. When it comes to accommodation, consider getting a vacation rental. In Bellevue, for instance, there are many vacation rentals that are professionally cleaned, come with their own kitchen, and accommodate different group sizes. Best of all, you avoid contact with other people in hotel lobbies, elevators, and dining areas.

 

Play it safe if traveling by air.

If you’re intent on going further afield, air travel is still possible. However, check current government advisories before you go ahead and determine whether restrictions are in place for U.S. arrivals. You may have to present a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter and/or quarantine yourself for a specified amount of time upon arrival. Find a participating health center or pharmacy in your area to get a test.

If you are flying, take preventive measures to stay safe during your trip. Wear a mask and face shield and wash your hands regularly. If you can’t wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. Finally, maintain distance from other people whenever possible. Many airlines have put in place measures to support social distancing, such as keeping middle seats free.

As the above guide shows, you don’t have to stop traveling altogether due to COVID-19. Future globetrotting will require added precautions and advanced planning but it won’t be impossible. Let the above tips inspire as you plan your journeys.

 

Emma Grace Brown lives her life by her rules; and it works! When she’s not snuggling puppies, Emma promotes female empowerment through her website. Her mission is to help those who live with self-doubt to realize they don’t have to mold themselves to conventionality.  emmagracebrown.com

 

 

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Hike – Franklin Falls

It has been a little while since the last hike and even though I am tracking when we can travel again internationally without a lockdown, it appears that it is not happening any time soon!

So, let’s go on a hike!  Despite living in the Seattle area for ~ 30 years, I had never heard of this place previously.

Here is another recent hike to Gold Creek in the snow if interested.

It is just as easy and accessible as Gold Creek Pond, and it is a delight to take a quick drive and check it out.

It is called Franklin Falls and it is just 2.5 miles off the I-90 expressway at exit 47.  In the winter months, it does snow quite a bit, but that makes it more fun.  It can get a little tricky to drive if you do not have AWD car.

We arrived early, which is a best practice, because despite the winter months and snow, the trail will will get full of people and packed quite quickly.  We could have parked in the empty 60 car parking lot, but I also predicted that once it got full of visitor cars and icy, it would be very difficult to get out of the lot safely since the snow/slush was quite deep there.

Although trail was quite scenic and very fun to find all the places the water was running and exploring additional trails that veered to different places. What was disappointing on this trip, is that only 75% of the people wore masks.  And when you encounter people not wearing masks, and you step away to the side of the trail to avoid them, they look at you are the weird ones and they treat you as being silly for being cautious due to COVID-19 recently spreading wildly.

But…it is all worth it when you get to the falls!

If you go early enough, it can pretty much have the falls to yourself!  It is quite fun an amazing to be inches away from the falls.

and yes, you will get very wet and cold very fast, but it is a great quick hike when you need a quick getaway from the lockdown with a fast and safe hike.

If you want to check out some other great hiking locations in the snow, check out my postings on Cougar Mountain, Kendall Lakes and Gold Creek Pond.

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Toucan – Will it Change Business Conferences?

It is clear, we are not going to travel soon for business and even Bill Gates commented on CNBC that > 50% of business travel will disappear long term.

I have been watching tracking closely on my blog with a regularly updated posting and even some Vodcasts, but it is hard to predict what the future will be for business travel.

I do like and watch the weekly business travel briefing: https://www.businesstraveller.com/ which is very informative.  But I cannot see much changing for conferences any time soon.  Even with rapid testing prior to boarding, I think most conferences will be virtual in 2021.

The real concern/downfall/disappointment is the networking and hallway conversations that you have at conferences.  Really hard to replicate or simulate when virtual.  Slack channels and discord don’t really work well…

and then I was introduced to Toucan.  It was so different and so much comfortable having casual conversations that are not limited to one channel like Zoom.

and it is launching publicly for free with no limits on November 24th.  I think this is something that will be the tool for hallway, speaker and meetup conversations when conferences are live and occurring in the background.

Recommend checking it out.

 

 

 

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Vodcast – Lockdown free vacations?

Show notes:

WA State locking down again: https://www.king5.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/governor-jay-inslee-washington-state-new-restrictions-covid-19-coronavirus-spread/281-6aa36caa-8201-43ff-94de-127737049b8a

Will we have a Seahawks home game this year?  https://www.seahawks.com/

When to travel?  https://davidcrosstravels.com/2020/04/19/travel-covid-19/

WSJ – lockdown free locations on the beach: https://www.wsj.com/articles/travelers-seeking-lockdown-free-vacations-head-to-the-beach-11604491202

BI – what is the Delta lounge like during pandemic?  https://www.businessinsider.com/delta-sky-club-jfk-lounge-visit-tour-photos-details-2020-10

 

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1st Travel Vodcast!

Hello everyone – I decided it was time to try creating a weekly travel vodcast (video podcast) since we are all mostly locked down from international travel.

I thought this would be an easier way to inform and connect with the community on the updates on the ability to travel again.

I know this this is the first one and it was not well prepared, try to not be too brutal — I will promise to improve in coming weeks! 🙂

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Eli Cohen and Israel

I am not sure how many people have seen the Netflix series about Eli Cohen titled “The Spy“, but it is highly recommended.   Eli is portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen who was phenomenal IMHO …and no, do not worry, he is not like his Borat character in this series! 🤣

OK – what is the purpose of this book since this is a travel blog?  I wanted to share that you can actually visit and see of the history of Eli and his impact on Israel and Syria when visiting Israel.  First, plan some time to go up and visit the Golan Heights which I shared previously in this travel posting.

The Times of Israel had a nice posting on the footsteps of a spy that I wanted to try and explore a little myself when taking a day off in Israel with a friend.  It is about taking a drive and going up to the current and former border and viewing some of the Syrian outposts that explained in the movie.

It is recommended to try and visit most…because as you can see, most still have land mines or risk of land mines being in the area.  Caution, beware!  This is similar to the border between North and South Korea which I shared in this posting when I visited there a few years ago.

Once up in the Northeastern corner of the country, the important first stop is the former Syrian checkpoint that you can visit that was at the former border.

Inside, you can find some of the original history and pictures of Eli Cohen and his story.

I really do recommend watching the series and it will help you to understand his role and the commitment he made in his spy mission for the young state of Israel.  This is one of the pictures in the small memorial in the former roadside checkpoint.

The one highlight for me was the abandoned headquarters.  The former Syrian headquarters has a lot of history and Eli Cohen visited it first hand.  It is bombed out, but you can sense the history and see across the border when standing on top of it.

If you would like to learn more about the area or the Syrian border, check out my other posting of exploring the Golan Heights.

 

 

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AMG Driving Academy

I thought it was time to write a different post on a great travel experience I had a few years ago…when I was able to attend my second AMG Driving Academy session.

This one was hosted at the LAGUNA SECA RACEWAY in California.  It is not close to a major airport, but you can fly into San Francisco or San Jose and drive down to the site.  I do recommend that you do not stay in a hotel too far away as you will be EXHAUSTED at the end of the training and you will not want to drive far after you have finished.  The highlight and fun starts right when you arrive early in the morning.  The cars are lined up and being fully prepped for a hard core track day!

You will be supplied with all the gear you need including helmet, etc.  You will get a fire resistant and comfortable helmet hood that you get to keep.  I do recommend cool clothing as the weather and cars can get quite warm at high speeds…and of course driving sunglasses is highly recommended.

After about an hour of briefing, course walkthrough, race car instructors, breakfast and meeting with the AMG executives, you on the course and driving hard!

Everything from slalom agility, to slippery skid course, drag race competition, drifting around a roundabout at high speed and of course high speed track runs!

And you will get to drive every car in the lineup in various scenarios and training throughout the day. CLA45, C63, CLK55, E63, CLS63 and the famous SLS.

The SLS was a major highlight and truly a track race car.  It is amazing on what this car is capable of performing and you truly feel like a Nascar race car driver just like your instructors!

You cannot take pictures or take your phone in a car, but you do get to record a video on one of the track runs which provides a great demonstration on how well the AMG cars perform on the track, the G-forces that are generated on the curves and how much fun it is to actually own one of these cars after seeing their capabilities first person on a professional race track!

There are no more scheduled sessions in 2020, but we are hopeful for 2021.  You can always check back on my regularly posting on when you can travel again due to COVID-19.

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