Category Archives: Vacation Tips

Overhead bins are now banned for all flights in Italy — will other countries follow?

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Alitalia, Italy’s flag carrier, has the policy in detail on their website:

“To protect the health of passengers, the use of overhead bins for the storage of hand baggage will no longer be allowed on all flights operated in Italy. Passengers will only be permitted to bring on board small baggage, that can be placed under their seat such as, for example, handbags, backpacks, laptop cases not exceeding 36x45x20 cm. We invite passengers to deliver their baggage to the airport at the Check-in / Drop-off counter, to be placed in the hold, free of charge.” 

Other European airlines have also updated their policies in recent days. British Airways has a section of their website dedicated to flights to and from Italy with the requirements:

“You will need to complete a Health Declaration form at check-in, and check-in any large hand luggage. Overhead lockers will not be used on your flight, so if your hand luggage will not fit under the seat in front of you, it will need to be checked in. There will be no additional charge for this, as long as it does not exceed the standard hand baggage allowance.”

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Tourists enter reopened Grand Canyon National Park

Associated Press

GRAND CANYON — Tourists appeared ready to roam Grand Canyon National Park again after it partially reopened Friday, despite objections from Navajo officials and others that it could hurt efforts to control the coronavirus.

By 7:30 a.m., more than two dozen people were enjoying viewpoints along the South Rim.

Among them was Matthias Zutter, 35, who was traveling through Arizona with his wife in a camper van as part of a final adventure before moving back to their hometown of Stans, Switzerland. The couple have been living in the U.S. for the past five years. They had visited the Grand Canyon once already but not the South Rim, which they’ve always wanted to hike.

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Airbnb is letting guests around the world cancel their reservations for a full refund and no cancellation fees, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt travel plans

VRBO (Bani Sapra) Business Insider March 14, 2020, 4:35 PM CDT

Kimberly White/Getty Images

  • Airbnb is updating its cancellation policy to allow guests to cancel reservations anywhere in the world for a full refund in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced Saturday
  • Just a day before, the company had updated its cancellation policy to apply to bookings made in Mainland China, South Korea, Italy and the United States. 
  • “First, Airbnb will allow guests around the world to cancel and get their money back. We will not collect fees on these bookings,” Airbnb CEO Brian tweeted. “We don’t want guests to feel like they have to travel because they cannot get their money back.”  
  • Airbnb bookings have taken a hit as the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the world, infecting more than 153,000 people. 

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Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky.


‘Never seen anything like this’: Bookings for overseas flights from US plummet

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Bookings for international flights departing the U.S. suffered another steep decline over the past week, as would-be passengers concerned about COVID-19 shied away from travel commitments. 

ForwardKeys, a data firm that tracks more than 17 million business and leisure bookings each day, exclusively told Yahoo Finance’s “On The Move” on Wednesday that U.S. international bookings dropped 36.5% year-over-year for the period of January 20 to March 8.

Most strikingly, in the week of March 2, cancellations for international flights departing from the U.S. outpaced bookings, according to Olivier Ponti, Vice President for ForwardKeys Insights.

“Let’s be clear about this. We’ve never seen anything like this before. This is unprecedented and it’s going extremely, extremely fast,” Ponti said. “The situation is changing at a very fast pace.”

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Is this the worst restaurant in New York City?

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Ottoman steak 🔪

A post shared by Nusr_et#Saltbae (@nusr_et) on

Rachel Paula Abrahamson TODAY March 4, 2020, 4:09 PM CST

Three years ago, a Turkish butcher named Nusret Gökçe became an internet phenomenon after he posted a video of himself stripping, slicing and then sensually salting a hunk of meat.

Salt Bae was born — and the internet couldn’t get enough … for a few months.

Today, Gökçe still boasts more than 26 million Instagram followers, who eat up clips of his over-the-top seasoning style. He’s also been able to use his viral fame to grow his branded empire of steakhouses and burger restaurants around the world.

Today, Gökçe operates over a dozen eateries, but his latest venture, a burger place in New York City called #SaltBae, is definitely not as popular as the man himself.

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The Fanciest Members-Only Restaurants In New York

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by Stephanie Maida · March 5, 2020

Fancy restaurants are a dime a dozen in the city, and even if you’re willing to pay extra for an upscale private dining room experience, nothing compares to the exclusivity or bragging rights of a table at one of New York’s members-only eateries. From exorbitant dues to table-timeshares, these coveted spots primarily serve up status, with a side of dinner.

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WS New York

While commoners can dine downstairs at The Tavern by WS, Wine Spectator’s exclusive club above it, WS New York, is reserved for members who are willing to pay a $15,000 initiation fee, and $7,500 in annual dues. The food, drink, and social club at Hudson Yards promises “unparalleled access to the finest wine and spirits, world-class dining, and one-of-a-kind cultural events.” The menu is curated by Chef Eli Kaimeh, formerly of Per Se and Gramercy Tavern, and the space is, as one would expect, very plush.

WS New York, 37 Hudson Yards

I visited this luxury thermal spa —and here’s what I thought

Alyssa Tria Shopping Editor

I arrived at Balnea Spa + Réserve Thermale, in Bromont, Qué., needing a relaxing massage. It was recommended I try Balnea’s signature multi-sensory full-body massage, which is curated with a blend of body manoeuvres from around the world, applied with the creative touch of a therapist to help awaken the senses.

90 minutes went by and I woke up in a complete daze. Not only did the massage relieve the tenseness in my shoulders, but my mindfulness had reached its optimal prime. I felt completely relaxed, uplifted and stress-free. Just when I thought my day at the spa over, I was invited to explore the rest of the Balnea’s all-inclusive installations and thermal experiences

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BALNEA spa + réserve thermale

BALNEA spa + réserve thermale
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Lots of Americans have a fear of flying. There are ways to overcome the anxiety disorder.

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By Sarah Vander Schaaff

Tami Augen Rhodes needed to fly to Washington. An invitation to a black-tie event at the Supreme Court was an opportunity the 49-year-old lawyer in Tampa did not want to miss. But Rhodes had not flown since she was 35, when an escalating dislike of flying grew into a firm phobia.

Desperate to get to Washington without resorting to a long train ride, Rhodes called into a weekly group-telephone chat run by Tom Bunn, a former Air Force and commercial airline pilot and licensed clinical social worker who runs a program for fearful fliers.

Bunn asked her what she was afraid of.

“I started crying,” Rhodes recalled. She told the group what worried her. “I am afraid of dying.”

Fear of flying, or aviophobia, is an anxiety disorder. About 40 percent of the general population reports some fear of flying, and 2.5 percent have what is classified as a clinical phobia, one in which a person avoids flying or does so with significant distress.

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Mexico’s Playa Bagdad mixes sun, sand and drug trafficking

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MARIA VERZA, Associated Press

PLAYA BAGDAD, Mexico (AP) — At the very eastern end of the U.S.-Mexico border there’s a long strip of sand where the Rio Grande meets the sea. It is called Playa Bagdad — or ‘Bagdad Beach.’

Unlike the Tijuana-Imperial Beach border on the western end, here there are no steel pilings marching out to sea to stop migrants from swimming, wading or paddling across to the United States.

In Playa Bagdad, which is spelled ‘Playa Baghdad’ by the Drug Enforcement Agency, it’s apparently unnecessary: This is a beach for drugs and crime, not migrants.

As attention focuses on the migrant crisis along the border that has drawn harsh rhetoric and actions from President Donald Trump, Playa Bagdad seems to have escaped notice.

Here, there are no walls or border guards, just miles of dunes and Gulf coast beaches marked only by simple wooden huts or awnings held up by sticks.

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