Places to Visit this December

December is the holiday season, and there are plenty of places you can visit to slough off the stress of the year and immerse yourself in feel-good festivities. This includes the Globe Aware location of Puerto Rico.


Best Places to Travel in December

Destinations to consider for this winter, or to be bookmarked for next year.

BY MARK ELLWOOD
October 30, 2020
CONDÉ NAST TRAVELER

December is the holiday season, and there are plenty of places you can visit to slough off the stress of the year and immerse yourself in feel-good festivities. If frosted trees and mulled wine leave you cold, there are several warm-weather getaways we’d suggest, including Caribbean nations reopening after closing their borders for much of 2020.

If you’re staying domestic, check entry requirements at each state you’re visiting—and what your home state guidelines are when you return. If you’re comfortable traveling overseas, make sure to check the CDC guidelines on your destination. Remember, as well, to update your travel insurance, ensuring that the coverage you have will apply during the pandemic, whether it’s a standalone policy or insurance that’s bundled with one of many travel-focused credit cards. And if you’re not quite ready to travel yet, bookmark this list for a potential getaway next year.

The British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands

Three years ago, much of the BVI was devastated by the arrival of Hurricane Irma, the first of two category 5 hurricanes to tear through the Leeward Islands that fall. No wonder, then, that it took more than two years for many of the resorts to rebuild—only to find themselves stymied by pandemic-related border closures. On December 1, though, the country reopens to foreign visitors again, following protocols that the government is still workshopping at the time of writing (check for updates here). Once there, you’ll be able to indulge at one of the ultra-luxury resorts, many of which sit on their own private islands. Richard Branson’s Necker Island is arguably the most famous, freshly reconstructed with an emphasis on sustainability. New wind turbines join the existing solar farm so that the resort runs on 90 percent renewable energy. Even the staff uniforms are made from recycled plastic. It’s also available now on a non-exclusive basis, for groups renting eight or more rooms; before it required a total buyout. Traveling solo or in a couple? Consider booking an individual room at Guana, the 850-acre island close to Tortola, instead.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Locals claim that this Caribbean island has the longest holiday season in the world, lasting a full two months. Christmas celebrations kick off the moment Thanksgiving has wrapped and continue well into January, usually capped by the San Sebastian Street Festival. But since there’s no visa required, no currency difference, or even roaming charges, why not move here and work remotely for a stint? On weekends, you’ll be able to explore some of the island’s al fresco spaces, from the El Yunque National Forest (now accessible via reservation, to prevent overcrowding) to ToroVerde Adventure Park. Hop on a 30-minute ferry from the east coast town of Ceiba to Vieques, where you can plunge into the bioluminescent bay or sunbathe on black sand at Playa Negrita. However long the stay, all visitors must follow COVID-19 safety protocols, as mandated by the local tourism authority: requirements are outlined here.

St Louis, Missouri

St Louis, Missouri

St. Louis has embraced its role as one of America’s yuletide capitals ever since it was serenaded by Judy Garland at the end of Meet Me in St. Louis more than 75 years ago. The Polar Express­-themed train ride at Union Station will feature a visit with Santa this year, although the trains will remain stationary in 2020 to help maintain social distancing; if you go, book a spot at one of six pancake breakfasts with Santa this December. The $187 million makeover of the grand terminal has seen the waiting room and its surroundings reborn as an upscale hotel from Curio Collection by Hilton. Meanwhile, a historically protected section at the back has been repurposed as a family entertainment complex, complete with the city’s first big wheel (take a turn for a great view of the Arch on the horizon). Don’t miss the St. Louis Aquarium, either, and its main draw, Lord Stanley, an incredibly rare, naturally blue lobster rescued from the boiling pot to live here as unofficial mascot.

The Hamptons, New York

The Hamptons, New York

Forget summer—that’s amateur hour in the Hamptons. Insiders head to the tip of Long Island off season, when it’s quieter, calmer, and frankly, far more glamorous. In winter, most parking permits at the beaches are effectively suspended, so you can explore the coastline freely. Dress warmly and wander the deserted Georgica Beach in East Hampton or Southampton’s Coopers Beach, where the dunes are fringed by grand old mansions. It’s a smart time to go surfing if you can stomach the cold, too; conditions are often more consistent on good days, even if those are less frequent than at peak season. Montauk, of course, is the surfer HQ and the opportunity to surf Point Break at Montauk Point is a winter-only bonus, as it’s reserved for fishing much of the year. Go wine-tasting at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard; it’s renowned for rosé but also makes some hearty reds, ideal for chilly winter evenings. Among the hotels that remain open year-round, the pick of them is undoubtedly Gurney’s Montauk, which offers heated igloos for up to four people in exchange for a $25 donation per head to local charities. New York’s Executive Order 205 mandates 14-day quarantine for arrivals from a rolling list of states with high rates of COVID-19 transmission. It is regularly updated here.

South Lake Tahoe, California

South Lake Tahoe, California

After carefully adjusting activities to allow for social distancing, resorts are beginning another season in late November. North Lake Tahoe is charming, if a little sleepy, but the southern rim of the lake is livelier and more energetic. It’s equal parts après-ski and mountain runs—all of them operating in safe ways, thanks to the careful efforts of local authorities, outlined here. Tube Tahoe is a new asset this season, focusing on family-friendly runs from Tahoe Paradise Golf Course. For grown-ups, there’s also an ice skating rink at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort, complete with a mobile Veuve Clicquot bar to toast the season after you kick off your skates. Edgewood’s an ideal base for overnighting, too, as it’s close to Heavenly Mountain, one of the best ski complexes, with almost 100 runs across four base facilities. The 235-acre, 154-room resort sits right on the waterfront; get up early, and take a brisk morning stroll along the area’s only private beach.

Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii acted swiftly in the early days of the pandemic, aiming to tamp down its case levels by enacting a stringent 14-day quarantine on any visitors to the island, whether American or international. After careful consideration, it has lifted that regulation, albeit with testing protocols in place (find the latest requirements here). Just in time, too, as whale-watching season kicks off in December. By one estimate, two thirds of the North Pacific humpback population will be on the move, and there’s nowhere better to glimpse them than the shallow ‘Au‘au Channel between Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. Hawaii’s outdoorsy appeal is only re-emphasized in the pandemic era, with the chance to take bracing hikes—the Pipiwai Trail is a four-mile long cardio workout—as well as explore places like Hamoa Beach on the east coast, which is a family-friendly place to swim. The best overnighting option, of course, is the number one resort in Hawaii per this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards: the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort, set on 15 waterfront acres with direct access to Mokapu Beach.

Curaçao

Curaçao

Curaçao has allowed Americans to visit for some time, but there’s been a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival. That changes in December, when Tri-State residents (New Jersey, New York, Connecticut) can skip that process by providing a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of traveling. In response, flights are restarting from the area: United’s first direct from Newark on December 7, and JetBlue out of JFK two days later. A rugged, outdoorsy island, Curaçao is set up for social distancing, with plenty of options for bikers or hikers to choose from. (Head up to the peak of Mount Christoffel for a view of Venezuela on a clear day.) There are beaches, too—this is the Caribbean, after all—most of them cove-like and tucked away. Ditch a resort and follow the local habit of camping on the uninhabited island of Klein Curaçao, just eight miles off the main island’s southeast coast. A short boat ride away, you can pitch a tent on the beach or string a hammock between the trees; even better, the snorkel and scuba diving is top tier with its sparkling coral and underwater caves.

Death Valley, California

Death Valley, California

There are only eight Gold Tier International Dark Sky Parks in America, denoting a location so free of light pollution that the Milky Way is visible with the naked eye. One of them is Death Valley, where the dry air and isolation make it seem like the universe is right on your doorstep. Stargazing isn’t the only after-dark activity here, either: Take a moonlit horse ride, or dip in one of the pools filled by natural springs that keep the water at a balmy 84.5 degrees, even on a crisp winter night. You’ll find those pools at the Oasis at Death Valley, a sprawling, multi-site resort built here in the 1920s and once popular with Golden Age A-listers like Clark Gable. It underwent a $100 million dollar renovation barely a year ago that upgraded its room amenities significantly. For families, the rooms that open directly onto the outdoors at The Ranch at Death Valley are particularly appealing. At the time of writing, there are no regulations restricting out-of-state visitors, but always check the quarantine mandates for when you arrive back in your home state. Though it’s located in California, the best access point by plane is Las Vegas, a two-hour drive away.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa, Oklahoma

There’s a newfound energy in Oklahoma’s second largest city—and one that doesn’t rely on oil. Recent additions include a neon sign park, nodding to its place on the iconic Route 66 (the longest drivable stretch slices right past Tulsa), as well as upgraded dining, including a 10-course tasting menu at FarmBar, the restaurant offshoot of a local farm and dairy. For the holidays, head to the Winter Wonderland at Tulsa’s fun park, Gathering Place, masterminded by some erstwhile Disney Imagineers. Oklahoma did not issue comprehensive pandemic-related guidelines, but Tulsa’s metropolitan authority has mandated mask-wearing and social distancing; read the full Tulsa Safely protocols here. Tulsa is keen to turn one-time visitors into long-term locals, so if you’re curious to make it a permanent home after a trip, check out Tulsa Remote, a program that incentivizes at-home workers to move here with a $10,000 grant.

Machu Picchu is open to all tourists once again

Machu Picchu, located in Cusco, will officially reopen its doors to international travelers, under a series of health rules and protocols. Our Globe Aware Peru program offers a separate tour to the famous Inca grounds, but requires booking ahead of time.


Peru: Machu Picchu reopens its doors to national and foreign tourists

The emblematic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, located in the Andean region of Cusco, will officially reopen its doors to national and foreign tourists today, under a series of health rules and protocols —after being closed for almost eight months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expectations caused by the reopening of this tourist jewel was so colossal that it caused entrance tickets —valid for local and national tourists thru November 15— to sell out fast.

The emotion —without any doubt— is immense, because tourism in Machu Picchu will officially resume, after a first attempt in July, which was discarded since coronavirus infections continued to increase in Cusco —the region hosting the citadel.

Machu Picchu

Since Machu Picchu opened its doors for tourism purposes in 1948, it had only closed for two months in 2010, when a flood destroyed the railway from Cusco.

The numbers registered in Machu Picchu —declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on December 9, 1983— were impressive.

Before the pandemic began in Peru last March, between 2,000 and 3,000 people used to enter the citadel per day and in high season up to 5,000.

That month, on the last day of visits, 2,500 people were registered in the area.

Protocol

According to the protocol established to prevent the spread of COVID-19, daily access to the world wonder will be limited to 675 visitors per day —30% of the total authorized number in a normal season.

Visitors must enter the archaeological park in groups of 8 guests —including a guide— and must comply with social distancing of 1.5 to 2 meters.

Likewise, each sightseer must wear a face mask, avoid crowds, and have his/her temperature measured to verify that he/she do not have a fever, as part of the biosafety protocols at this stage of the new normality.

The official reopening ceremony will kick off today at 6:00 p.m. (local time).

How to Trick-or-Treat Safely During COVID-19

Globe Aware wishes our volunteers a safe and happy Halloween, whether you choose to stay home or travel. Make sure to follow these safety tips in order to enjoy the holiday weekend.


Is It Safe to Trick-or-Treat During the COVID-19 Pandemic? Experts Share Halloween Health Safety Tips

CDC health officials have ranked different holiday traditions by risk — and we asked a virologist and a researcher weigh in.

BY ZEE KRSTIC
Good Housekeeping
Oct 28, 2020

While the novel coronavirus pandemic has interrupted many of our favorite holiday traditions, it seems many families are dead-set on celebrating Halloween during quarantine. A recent Harris Poll survey suggests that more than 70% of millennial moms are planning to make “the most” of Halloween with their families, with 80% of all surveyed saying that heading out to trick-or-treat is at the top of their list of things to do on Halloween.

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Ready for a Scare? Haunted Haunts from Around the World

Globe Aware volunteers can visit some of these haunted sites on their volunteer vacation! Locations include South Africa, Rajasthan, Romania, Puerto Rico and Mexico!


43 Most Haunted Places in the World That Are Beautifully Scary

Even the faint of heart will find something to love.

BY CAITLIN MORTON
October 18, 2019

Nothing beats a good ghost story on Halloween, and our planet is chock full of ’em: UFO sightings in Transylvania, murders on luxury cruise ships, and spirits wandering the halls of British castles. No matter where you’re traveling, you’re sure to find some sort of haunted site, as well as a ghost tour to go along with it. But even if you’re not a fan of paranormal activities, some of the spookiest locations are still worth your time, whether for their beautiful architecture, jaw-dropping locations, or fascinating histories. Here, the 43 most haunted places in the world you’ll want to visit any day of the year—not just on October 31.

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Traveling This Holiday Season: Will it be Safe?

Traveling is fine if you’re willing to be cautious, follow the rules and adapt easily to changes of plan. If you do choose to travel, Globe Aware is taking these precautions, such as wearing a mask and practicing social distancing and good hand hygiene.


Is it safe to travel for the holidays this year?

Marnie Hunter
CNN
October 20 2020

(CNN) — The end of the year is sneaking up, and people are weighing travel plans to join friends and family for the holidays — all against the backdrop of a surge of the deadly pandemic.

Gathering with others — probably the most universal holiday tradition — has never required so much meticulous forethought.

Should you travel for the holidays in 2020? What precautions will make it safer? Who will be there and how careful have they been?

Read More

Meet Kimberly Haley-Coleman, Founder & CEO Globe Aware

Meet Kimberly Haley-Coleman | Founder & CEO Globe Aware

October 21, 2020
Shoutout DFW

We had the good fortune of connecting with Kimberly Haley-Coleman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kimberly, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When stuck abroad on business over weekends, I sought meaningful, organized short-term volunteer experiences, and just couldn’t’ find any. When I started pulling together my own, I found so many others wanted to do these alongside me, that there was clearly a demand for these programs. Doing good is quite naturally one of the best ways to feel good.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Before Globe Aware, there were no organizations that offered short-term organized experiences abroad that were a good fit for most working North Americans. Most were geared toward high school and college students with weeks or a whole summer to burn, and were fairly unstructured, with the thought that you would eventually find out how to use your own time. Our culture is focused on productivity and making the most with the small amount of free time most of us have. This is at odds with the perspective in many cultures, especially those cultures that have less material resources. Therefore the big challenge was to find a way to tailor such experiences that would be provide a meaningful, productive opportunity to give back but would also NOT infringe on the local/receiving culture/way of life. Our staff coordinators in each country are the key to finding this balance. Additionally, the lions’ share of our peers in this industry will not used donated funds toward materials in the thought that it creates local dependency. We do not agree. Funds can be spent in a way that enable capacity rather than create dependency. As an example when we assemble and donate wheelchairs to landmine victims in Cambodia, they are given mobility in a way that allows them to support themselves. That is the magic win-win we week.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Hands down, the Dallas Arboretum is my favorite place to take locals. It is such a glorious spot, every day of the year. I love that you can bring a picnic and your own wine and on certain “cool Tuesdays and Thursdays” listen to music and watch the sunset over downtown in the distance. For a meal, I also love taking out of towners to Pecan Lodge for the best bacon infused, sinful macaroni and cheese ever, and that ridiculously amazing brisket!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am so grateful my tribe supported me, from my family to my friends, neighbors, and past colleagues. So many people stepped forward to help publicize my organization, I certainly would not have succeeded without them. I was shocked that we got so much media coverage. I remember early on when the NBC Today show did a story on us, without our knowledge. It really made me think that when you do something the world needs or wants, they then the world will enable you.

Positive Outlook for Travel in 2021

Finally. Travelers are preparing to pack their bags and take to the air, road and sea again, according to travel advisors who said bookings are gaining momentum for 2021 and beyond.


Interest in 2021 Travel Is on the Rise

CLAUDETTE COVEY
TRAVEL AGENT
OCTOBER 18, 2020

Finally. Travelers are preparing to pack their bags and take to the air, road and sea again, according to anecdotal reports from travel advisors, who said bookings are gaining momentum for 2021 and beyond.

“Interest for 2021 travel began to rise in the past few weeks for myself and for my colleagues,” said Becky Lukovic of Bella Travel Planning, a Travel Experts affiliate. “The requests are still pretty all over the place: Hawaii, Caribbean, Colorado, Italy and Greece. A number [of clients] have started actually booking their plans with refundable arrangements or cancel for any reason insurance.”

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U.S. Travelers can Visit Costa Rica Again

Starting on November 1, all U.S. travelers will be welcome to Costa Rica. Globe Aware volunteers from all 50 states will be able to participate in any of three programs in Costa Rica, with proper safety guidelines and precautions taken.


Costa Rica Opens to All U.S. Travelers

Starting November 1, any American who presents a negative COVID-19 test can travel to Costa Rica.

By Michelle Baran
Oct 7, 2020

On September 1, Costa Rica began allowing international travelers from the United States to fly into the country as long as they were residents of one of the following eight states: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, or Virginia, plus the District of Columbia. Starting September 15, travelers from Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wyoming were able to join them. As of October 1, Californians could head to Costa Rica, too. And on October 15, residents of Florida, Georgia, and Texas get the green light.

But starting on November 1, all U.S. travelers will be welcome.

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Thailand Awarding Essential Workers Vacations During COVID-19

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has a giveaway that will send five deserving essential workers and one guest on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Thailand. We encourage Globe Aware volunteers and alumni who are amazing essential workers to participate in this giveaway!


Thailand to Award Vacations to Essential Workers Amid COVID-19

DESTINATION & TOURISM
LAURIE BARATTI
OCTOBER 11, 2020

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has partnered with U.S. digital media company Matador Network on a giveaway contest that will send five deserving essential workers and one guest on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Thailand.

It’s part of TAT’s ongoing ‘Thailand Gives Back to Heroes’ project, an initiative aimed at returning the kindness of those who have risked their own well-being to work on the COVID-19 pandemic’s frontlines.

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New Technology may change air travel forever

Flying has given travelers around the world great personal and professional travel opportunities, therefore the emphasis has got to be on solving the emissions and the carbon problems. The introduction of hydrogen airplanes and the extent of its environmental benefit could be a game changer. Globe Aware believes in green travel and looks forward to their arrival.


Why this space age airplane could change flying forever

(CNN) — It looks like a spaceship, runs on fuel that up until a few years ago experts were calling “crazy,” and has barely left the drawing board, but in the eyes of one of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, it’s undoubtedly the future.

Not even the distant future. Airbus hopes we’ll be soaring into the skies on one of its radical new designs in just 15 years, leaving the days of jet engine pollution and flight-shaming far behind us.

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