TRAVEL & TOURS

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Italy to Allow Cruises Again Starting August 15

CRUISE LINE & CRUISE SHIP  RICH THOMASELLI  AUGUST 09

In a move to rekindle its tourism industry, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, the Italian government has given its permission for cruise lines to begin operating in Italy again starting on Saturday, August 15.

Italy was one of the first countries to suffer the decimation of the virus back in February and March, closing its borders and riding out the initial wave of the virus. Almost immediately, MSC Cruises announced it would return to service in the Mediterranean with two cruises featuring mostly Italian ports of call. Costa Cruises, which also operates out of Italy, is reportedly bringing crew members back to their respective ships and also planning a return to the seas. According to The Maritime Executive, France, French Polynesia, Germany, and Taiwan have all granted permission for ocean cruises to resume. Norway earlier this week placed a 14-day moratorium on cruise ships with more than 100 passengers from entering its ports as it investigates the outbreak of the virus on a Hurtigruten cruise and the failure in protocols possibly exposing multiple communities to the virus.

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TRAVEL & LEISURE

The Top 3 Bucketlist Spring Break Destinations

to travel after quarantine

Whether it’s a “break” from work or school, time away from the daily grind is always a good idea. Spring break is not only an opportunity for a getaway, it's a reminder that we've made it through the dreary post-holiday winter months.

Dates for spring break are typically driven by academic schedules, and this year’s spring break ranges from late February through mid-April depending on where you are. College students may be thinking of heading to the beach or partying with friends, while parents are looking for ways to fill their children’s time off with fun (and maybe get a bit of relaxation for themselves). A warm destination usually, though not always, comes to mind.

If you’re thinking about a spring break getaway but wondering if you’ve waited too long, have no fear. Destinations that will please your family and excite your friends are ready and waiting. And if budget is a consideration, that can be managed, too: Cheap spring break trips are even easier to plan last-minute. Make it a road trip if air fares are high, and search for reasonably priced lodging options.

Here are a few U.S. destinations and ideas to help you get started with planning.

Destin, Florida

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On Florida’s Emerald Coast (along with Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island), Destin offers sandy beaches, warm water, boating, fishing, snorkeling, and plenty of water sports like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, and more. There’s also a zip line, rock-climbing wall, and boat tours. Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park’s giant wave pool, lazy river, waterfalls, and miniature golf is there for family fun. On Okaloosa Island, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park offers aquatic animals, dolphin and sea lions shows, and hands-on experiences with starfish, sea urchins, and stingrays. Nightlife in Destin includes piano bars, restaurants, live music, and relaxing evening cruises. From RV campsites to bed and breakfasts, hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals, visitors to the Emerald Coast have lodging options to meet their needs.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

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Early spring weather is in the chilly mid-50s Fahrenheit, but it’s still a fun time to be at the beach exploring tidepools, watching puffins and other sea birds, or just watching the waves. It’s a dog-friendly beach, and leashes are not required, so your pet can enjoy playing in the sand or joining you for a hike. Luxurious oceanfront lodging is available, and there’s also a great selection of hotels, vacation home rentals, and campsites. Nearby Ecola State Park offers camping in rustic shelters that sleep four, encircling a large fire ring, with firewood for sale at Hikers’ Camp. In town, there are shops, restaurants, wine tasting, spas, and theaters. The atmosphere is casual, and the scenery makes it a great spot for families, couples, and groups.

Park City, Utah

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Since not everyone is looking for a beach vacation, we call your attention to Park City with its quaint downtown, restaurants, bars, and historic silver mining town vibe. Late season snow sports should still be happening at Park City Mountain and Deer Valley. Hiking, mountain biking, and strolling along Main Street are the perfect end of season activities, too. Families with kids will be happy to know there’s bowling, indoor ice skating, and Park City Mountain Kids Activities, with a kid-only zip line, rope course, and tubing. Nightlife spots in town include pubs and bars, with lots of lively places to choose from. It’s easy to line up a place to stay, whether you’re looking for a hotel, motel, campsite, rental condo or home, or bed and breakfast.

SMARTER TRAVEL

10 Simple Tips for a Smoother Trip

1. Park with your car nose out.

In the rush to catch the parking lot bus, it’s easy to leave an interior light on; I’d guess that more travelers I know have had dead batteries at an airport than in any other situation. If you return to your car to find a dead battery, broken windows due to thievery or any other potential problem, you’ll want your car to be parked nose out for easier access to the battery, or for an easier hook-up to a tow truck.

2. Leave time to get to economy lots.

As airports expand, they need more parking spaces; those spaces are ever more frequently found in parking lots that are off-airport in every respect but name. You’ll also find that these lots are often significantly lower-priced than other lots. As a result, they’re the best place for economy-minded travelers, especially for longer trips where you’re racking up several days’ worth of parking fees. Also, these are the last lots to fill up; if you’re flying during peak travel periods, you may have no choice but to use these distant lots.

3. Pack essentials in your carry-on.

Recent stats indicate that, on average, at least one bag on every flight is lost or delayed. If there’s anything you can’t live without, pack it in your carry-on. This is especially true of items that are not easily or inexpensively replaced, such as running shoes or a lightweight raincoat.

4. Know your hotel information.

If a) your baggage is lost or delayed; b) you miss your connection and will be late checking in; or c) you are going to a destination you’ve never visited before, you’ll want to have complete contact information for your hotel on your person. Before you leave home, print out the hotel’s name, address and phone number, and program the latter into your cell phone. It’s also a good idea to print out a map of the hotel’s neighborhood, whether for your own use or to show to a confused cab driver.

5. Take old currency with you.

Exchanging foreign currency after you’ve returned home is a hassle, especially since almost no one spends any time in an actual bank these days. Why else do so many travelers have so much funny money lying around? If you travel abroad with any frequency and have any stray foreign currency laying around, take it with you the next time you cross international borders. Then, when you get some local currency, you can exchange the money from any other country at the same time.

6. Save your boarding pass.

Do you usually toss your boarding pass as soon as you step off the plane? You might want to reconsider. Your boarding pass can serve as proof of travel if your airline fails to give you the proper credit for frequent flier miles; this type of problem is particularly common if you’re flying on a codeshare partner of the airline in question. Your boarding pass can also be useful as a receipt for tax purposes, particularly if you’re self-employed.

7. Know when to use and when to skip the skycaps.

Skycap upside: You check-in at the curb, lose the bulky luggage and head straight to your gate. Skycap downside: They don’t give you a seat assignment, and they cost a few bucks. (Don’t forget to tip; skycaps often aren’t paid a full wage and depend on tips to make their living.)

8. Get your seat assignments ASAP.

As I mention above, every minute you pass without a seat assignment is another minute that your aisle or window seat is given to someone else. Your best bet is to check in online, which can typically be done up to 24 hours before your flight. But note that not all flights, airlines or classes of travel permit advance check-in (or seating assignments).

9. Mark your bags with an easily recognizable item.

The days of flower-pattern steamer trunks are long gone; now we all buy our bags at the same stores from the same manufacturers. The result: an endless stream of nearly identical bags on the baggage carousel. The solution: mark your bags by tying a colorful ribbon, stitching a unique patch or putting a large sticker on your bags. You won’t see other passengers pulling your bags off the carousel to check for their tiny name tags, and you’ll be able to see your suitcases come out the door from miles away.

10. Remember your flight number.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but knowing your flight number can make your life easier in small or foreign airports that do not list the full names of destination airports, or list by flight number alone.

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TRAVEL GUIDE

10 of the most beautiful countries in the world to visit

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SCOTLAND

Scotland's ragged hills and heathered highlands won over Rough Guides readers.

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CANADA

Canada's vast wilderness includes the world-renowned, waterfall-haven Niagara Falls and the lake-filled Banff National Park in the Rocky Mountains.

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NEW ZEALAND

One Rough Guides reader defines the magic of New Zealand's varied sites by its "rolling green hills, majestic mountains, breathtaking fjords, and amazing diversity of landscape from one island to the next."

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ITALY

Culture, community, history, and natural beauty all meet in this European nation, with one Rough Guides reader picking up on the romance that floats through the air in the small towns and vast cities alike.

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SOUTH AFRICA

Whether it's the inquisitive wildlife, sprawling vineyards, hidden-gem beaches, or bustling towns and cities, South Africa's varied and breathtaking landscape earn the country a spot on the Rough Guides' list.

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INDONESIA

One reader chose Indonesia for its myriad islands, while another favored the country's mountains and proud heritage.

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ENGLAND

England climbed to seventh place in Rough Guides' reader ranking thanks to its stunning coastlines and historic sites. Visitors can take a bus ride along the Jurassic Coast in Dorset or visit the fossil beaches in Cornwall or the Isle of Wight to find their own piece of preserved, national history.

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ICELAND

With its volcanic mountains, black sand beaches, and numerous natural hot springs, Iceland's unique and dramatic landscape helped the country make the Rough Guides list.

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UNITED STATES

Boasting peaks to canyons, metropoles to wastelands, there are few places across the vast nation that aren't worth getting the camera out for — especially national parks and landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, which are "protected for posterity with the world's best national park system," according to one Rough Guide reader.