Monday, July 18, 2022

 Flying to Europe? Here are some tips to de-stress your trip by choosing the right flights...

With all the extra details involved in travel these days, one way to simplify and destress your travel experience is to choose either direct flights at reasonable hours or ones that connect with ample time in airports that are traveler friendly and have a good track record. 





NON-STOP Flights.  Before booking the cheapest option online, things to look for:

  • Are the flight times convenient?  Do not book flights that arrive in the wee hours.  Between the hours 10 pm and 7 am (varying by destination). Why? Public transportation may be limited;  taxis and drivers have a surcharge and there may not be any; and hotel check-in hours may require for you to book the previous night if arriving early in the morning; or you may have to hang out in the lobby until check in time (usually after 2 pm).   
  • For your Return flight times, consider whether you can get to the airport on time.  If the best choice is an early morning flight, consider spending extra on a night at an airport hotel. Keep in mind that for international flights you should arrive 3 hours prior to flight time.  And don’t forget to think about if you are able to get transportation home from the airport at the time your prospective flight gets in. 

  • Check the seating map, and pre-book seats that best suit your needs. 
  • If you require a special meal, remember to request it at least 24 to 48 hours in advance, see your airline’s guidelines.
  • Look for flights that are refundable and/or have no change fees. 
  • BOOK  DIRECTLY with the airline.  Should you need to change, cancel, etc., it is much less complicated to deal directly with the airline than a booking with a third party website ie.Travelocity; Expedia etc.  Also in some cases, even though the airline is not charging a change or cancelation penalty the booking service may.

 

CONNECTING FLIGHTS


Non-stop flights are not an option to all destinations, and for longer flights, I prefer to get off the plane and walk a bit. When booking connecting flights, be sure to give yourself ample connecting time. And today, that means at least an hour and a half domestically; and for international connections, three hours. Also keep in mind that when returning home to the USA, at your port of entry, you will have to claim your bags and clear security and customs, and recheck your bag for your domestic flight (unless you have gone through US Pre-clearance aboard - more below).  Thus you need to have extra time for connecting at your port of entry. 


  • Avoid returning through airports such as Miami or Ft Lauderdale, which are notorious for long wait times. Instead consider Palm Beach International (PBI), Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX), Baltimore/Washington International (BWI), Washington Dulles International (IAD), Raleigh-Durham(RDU), which all ranked as having expedient customs and immigration. Even Boston, although not rated among the fastest, is an easy airport to get through. 
  • Avoid airlines that tend to have flight delays.  Check stats on OAG, here is a link to June 2022 ratings https://www.oag.com/en/on-time-performance-airlines-june-2022
  • On return flights consider connecting in Europe. I find it easier, since you will not have to claim your luggage until you arrive at your final destination in the USA. 
  •  Avoid flights with less than 2 hour connections, especially at airports such as Charles de Gaulle in Paris (CDG), which is currently understaffed. 
  • Some of my favorite European Airports for connection in are Dublin, Munich, Zurich and Rome. Although you may need to go through security in some cases, you will not need to claim your luggage, until your final destination.



US Pre-Clearance Airports:


Most US Pre-clearance locations are in Canada, but there are also facilities in Ireland (both Shannon and Dublin) and in Abu Dhabi, as well as in the Caribbean.

Find list of Pre-clearance locations here.


If flying home from one of the 16 US Pre-clearance destinations, you will go through the customs and security check before boarding your flight. For example,  if you are traveling from Dublin, Ireland on a flight that connects in New York to your final destination in the USA, you will clear customs before boarding Dublin.  Upon arrival, you will  bypass Customs Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspections and proceed directly to your connecting flight. All passengers traveling directly to the US from Dublin Airport go through US Pre-clearance. 


NOTE: It is advisable to have extra time for check-in to get through the process (3 hours is recommended), but you’ll save time at the other end making connecting to your domestic flight faster.  Requirements change, so be sure to verify which airports offer Pre-clearance and if you qualify.  Link to CBP Pre-clearance:  https://www.cbp.gov/travel/preclearance 


REMINDER: Purchase travel insurance within 14 days of any non-refundable payments.


Sources:

Airport ratings: https://usebounce.com/blog/airport-wait-times

Airport and statistics: https://www.oag.com 

 



Wednesday, August 25, 2021

 DIY TESTS CDC authorized Covid Test for return flights to USA. 

Updated 28 March 2022


All travelers, two and older, arriving in the USA by air, including US citizens must have a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 1 days of boarding flights.  Those who do not have a test result will be denied boarding. Regulations are subject to change. Always check on the CDC website for latest requirements.


You can arrange for testing at clinic or testing center overseas, or you can pack a CDC authorized home test and perform the test at your hotel, as long as you have internet, ID and a device with a camera.  

 

Most of the kits recommend having two on hand in case there is problem with the internet connection, etc.  Test kits expire after 6 months, verify expiration date with manufacturer.  

 

AZOVA Ellume COVID-19 Test with Video Observation Services for Travel is $50 per test kit online. If purchased at a CVS it is $39 + $15 video charge.  With this test you set up your test appointment in advance, and if you wait longer than 15 minutes, a number is provided that you can call to get connected.

https://www.azova.com/testing/ellume/

 

eMED Abbott’s BinaxNOW $150 for 6 test kits

This is a popular test kit and there have been some delays in getting to the video visit required to do the test.  But results are available usually in 15 minutes after doing the test.  

https://www.emed.com/products/covid-at-home-testkit-six-pack?hsLang=en


iHEALTH $24.99 per service plus $17.98 for 2 test kits.  An appoint is required.  

Check availability first.  The Verified COVID Test Service is a scheduled virtual meeting with an iHealth proctor to ensure the authenticity of your COVID-19 test. A digital report will be issued upon completion of the test.

https://ihealthlabs.com/products/ihealth-verified-covid-test-service 


 

QURED $59 for two test kits (compatible to VeriFLY)

For this test both kits are needed to confirm results.

https://qured.us/products/video-antigen-test

AA airlines discount code: AATRAVEL10

 

OPTUM Abbott’s BinaxNOW $69.99 for 2 test kits/$99.99 for 3 test kits

https://store.optum.com/shop/products/abbott-binaxNOW-COVID-19-ag-at-home-test-kit-2-pack

 

IMPORTANT: Whichever test kit you choose, be sure it states that it is CDC authorized for travel to the USA.

From the CDC website: The tests must be either a viral antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test, such as a polymerase chain (PCR) test, reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) test, or a transcription-mediated amplification test.

The test result must be either a paper or electronic document provided by a laboratory. It must include the passenger’s name, specimen collection date, and the type of test.

Airlines will be required to confirm the negative test result for all passengers before they board and must deny boarding to those passengers who do not have a negative test result. For those with a connecting flight, the test must be procured no more than three days before the initial leg of their journey (provided the layover is not more than 24 hours). Passengers will need to get retested if a flight delay causes the test result to fall outside of the three-day predeparture testing period by more than 24 hours or by more than 48 hours for a connecting flight.

 Country specific information for COVID-19 includes rules and regulations for traveling to the destination, as well as an entire COVID-19 testing section. This testing section covers whether PCR tests are available for U.S. citizens and if test results are typically available within one calendar day. 


Safe travels!




Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Proof of Vaccination opens doors to Travel in EU for Americans!


The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen announced 26 April that the EU will open its borders to fully vaccinated American travelers.  A date has yet to be announced, but EU leaders are saying by summer.  It is expected that vaccine certificates issued by the EU and USA would be accepted in both to make travel safer and easier.

 

However, requirements of entry for each individual country will continue to vary.  Countries heavily dependent of tourism such as Croatia and Greece have already opened their borders, Portugal and Italy have announced plans to ease restrictions.  Whereas some Nordic countries are expected to not allow entry without quarantine requirements until further notice.  France and Germany remain in lockdown.  Yet France plans to open to fully vaccinated Americans this summer.

 

Several countries are permitting Americans provided they meet certain entry requirements such as negative PCR tests and /or quarantine, random testing, temperature checks, etc.  

 

As of now, with Proof of Vaccination*, Americans can expect to be welcomed and exempt from quarantine requirements in the countries listed below. Other requirements noted.

 

Anguilla

Bahamas-effective 8 May 2021

Bangedesh-Only with proof of Pfizer or AstraZenaca vaccines

Barbados- effective 8 May 2021, testing before and on arrive still required

Belize

Croatia

Ecuador

Estonia

Ghana-test still required

Georgia

Greece-Passenger Locator Form required and at random testing at the airport

Guatemala

Iceland-Testing require and 24 hour quarantine while waiting for results

Laos 

Lebanon – Test still required

Lithuania 

Libya – Test still required 

Maldives 

Moldova

Montenegro

Seychelles

Sweden 

Tajikistan 

Yemen

Countries including Albania and Costa Rica are not requiring proof of vaccination,  testing nor quarantine.  But may require additional documents such as proof of pre-paid accommodation or purchase of medical travel insurance.

 

Disclaimer: This is not an official source.  Each country’s requirements are changing daily. Best to check each country’s official tourism website or American Embassy site for current requirements and situation. 

 

 

Thursday, August 6, 2020

USA has lifted Level 4 Global DO NOT TRAVEL Advisory

The advisory issued 18 March 2020, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, urged American to avoid all non-essential international travel. 

The State Department is returning to country-specific levels of travel advice.  You can search by country on their website for advisories and warnings: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/ 

Several Level 4 advisories remain in place for countries such as Brazil, Egypt, India, Peru, Russia, etc. Also many countries, such as those in Europe, have not yet lifted their bans on American tourism.  

If you are ready to travel and feel comfortable doing so now, below is a list of destinations where American non-essential travelers welcome.  NOTE: most countries have certain restrictions, such as a negative Covid19 test result prior to arrival.  Check with the country’s consulate page to see entry requirements.

·       Albania

·       Antigua and Barbuda 

·       Aruba 

·       Bahamas 

·       Barbados 

·       Bali (Indonesia) September 1.

·       Belarus 

·       Belize 

·       Brazil

·       Croatia

·       Dominica

·       Dominican Republic

·       French Polynesia

·       Grenada

·       Haiti

·       Jamaica

·       Maldives

·       Mexico-never closed borders

·       North Macedonia

·       Puerto Rico

·       Rwanda

·       Serbia

·       ST Barths

·       ST Lucia

·       St. Vincent and The Grenadines

·       Tanzania

·       Turkey

·       United Arab Emirates 

     Ukraine

·  

What are your thoughts on international travel?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Lecture Series: Parthenon Sculptures (aka Elgin Marbles)




Join archaeologist/art historian Rolf Winkes for an interesting lecture on the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures.
Venue: Camden Opera House, Camden, Maine 

Date and Time: March 27 at 5:30 pm.

Presented by Eurynome Journeys and WanderWoman® Tours


This lecture is part of a series of events about the issue of the Parthenon Sculptures including Costal Senior College classes, other lectures, an educational tour to Greece in Spring 2019 and a public event in Midcoast with guests from Greece, which is planned for 2020.

Details:

Should the British Museum return the sculptures that Lord Elgin removed from the Parthenon, as requested by Greece? The Parthenon, its unique place in Greek art and architecture, its history, and the answer to this question will be the subject of the lecture and discussion.

The most precious possession of the British Museum is the Parthenon marble sculptures, which were removed from the temple by Lord Elgin in the early 19th century. In his poem “the Curse of Minerva,” Lord Byron attacks Elgin, a contemporary, for this act. For decades Greece has campaigned unsuccessfully to have the sculptures returned to Athens. In the context of the Brexit this has become the subject of renewed public discussion in Britain, Greece and the world. In this lecture the unique role of the Parthenon in Greek art and architecture, the removal of its sculptures by Elgin and the spirit of his time, and finally the question of the return the so-called Elgin marbles will be discussed.

Rolf Winkes has taught and published on a diverse number of subjects ranging from the early Greek period until the rise of Christianity, and the influence of the ancient world on later periods. He spent 12 seasons excavating in Corfu, Greece and later worked at the site of Tongobriga in Portugal. Rolf is now Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology, the History of Art and Architecture, and Old World Archaeology and Art at Brown University. He and his wife Mary, a painter, live in Damariscotta, Maine.

Event will take place in the Opera House Tucker Room just off the main lobby. Event is Free and open to the Public. Greek wine and appetizers will be served.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Free Talk: Art and Religion of the Minoans with Art Historian Roger Dell



NEW DATE & VENUE
Roger Dell has offered to repeat the Talk on the Art and Religion of the Minoans.  The last talk at the Camden Opera House was a full house.  If you were unable to attend the first time, join Roger Dell at the Belfast Free Library, in Belfast Maine, 6:30-8:00 pm on February 7, 2017 .
The talk will provide an introduction to the aesthetic achievements and ritual practices of the Minoans, a prosperous, seafaring, matriarchal, culture that thrived 3500 years ago on the Greek Islands of Crete and Santorini.   Many scholars believe this highly-advanced society, which suddenly disappeared, to be the source of Plato’s Atlantis Myth.
Roger Dell in an art historian, museum educator and former Harvard lecturer residing in Rockland, Maine. For the past several years Roger was the Director of Education at the Farnsworth Museum, from where he retired in 2016.
Many years ago when visitng Santorini for the first time, Roger and his wife Nancy fell in love with the island. They decided to return and lived in Santorini for a year during which time Roger did research on Bronze Age Aegean civilization for a book he was writing.
During the talk on February 7th, Roger will share his insights about the ancient Minoans and some of his experiences living in Greece.
In May 2017, Roger is leading a tour, organized by Eurynome Journeys, to Santorini and Crete, “In Search of Ancient Atlantis Among the Greek Isles.
Address:
Belfast Free Library
106 High Street, Belfast, Maine 04915
Telephone: (207) 338-3884
Co-sponsored by Eurynome Journeys and the Belfast Free Library