Welcome to Friday Around the Planet, where I wrap up the travel-related news from the week to help inform your travel planning as requirements and restrictions in countries around the world rapidly change.
In light of what’s happened in the past 48 hours in Ukraine, I’ve struggled with how to write this roundup of travel news you might have missed over the past week. For the past few hours, I’ve sat in front of a blinking cursor, typed a few sentences, erased, and sat again in silence in front of a blinking cursor.
My mind runs in all kinds of places trying to process the invasion of Russian troops unprovoked into Ukraine. My thoughts swing first to concern for the Ukrainians and Russians I have met who are now enveloped by this conflict. It then jumps to the places I have visited memorializing the tremendous cost of war, places cautioning us that war is only made possible when we dehumanize each other to the point it somehow becomes palatable to inflict violence on one another.
But mostly it settles in worry and sadness about what happens next.
I truly believe in the power of travel. Not just for the experience of seeing all the wonder and beauty this planet holds. I have experienced firsthand people-to-people interactions between citizens of different countries lead to a better world.
The past few years of a global pandemic, with travel restrictions and closed borders, have already physically closed us off from one another. I worry about what this conflict might mean for the sort of traveler-to-citizen diplomacy that occurs when we’re able to meet face to face outside the messaging of our respective governments.
And I guess that’s why I’m going to continue writing this week. Maybe we all need a reminder right now about the wonderful places and people this world holds.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a way to help, check out these two organizations Lonely Planet has chosen to support as we stand with Ukraine.
Travel Restrictions rollbacks usher in new flights, trains
After almost two years, the joyful reopening of Australia’s border to vaccinated foreign travelers felt like a huge milestone. Other countries also rolled back COVID-19 travel restrictions and requirements including the Cayman Islands, Italy and Iceland.
With all these restriction rollbacks and falling Omicron cases, anticipation is building that the return of transatlantic travel in earnest could be upon us. To respond to demand, several low-cost airlines have announced new routes between the US, Canada and Europe. If you decide to snag one of the discount fares, make sure to read our editors’ tips on how to manage a transatlantic flight on a budget airline.
Speaking of low fares, a new low-cost train in Spain will connect Madrid to several beach cities and boasts tickets as low as €9.
For more information on COVID-19 and travel, check out Lonely Planet's Health Hub.
The emergence of purposeful travel
With travel poised to return, questions remain about how it should emerge from the pandemic. The online travel community Trippin hopes we’ll see a change in mindset to more purposeful travel.
And if you're searching for more purposeful travel, check out this adventure tourism company in Oaxaca, Mexico, which hopes to revive the centuries-old mountain trails one hike at a time.
Finally, with just a few days left in February, I want to mention that a several permits and reservations for summer at US national parks visits go up for grabs in March. If you’re planning a trip, you may want to skim this list and set calendar alerts so you don’t miss out.
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