Welcome to Friday Around the Planet, where I wrap up the travel-related news you might have missed this week as requirements and restrictions in countries around the world rapidly change.

The CDC updated its travel advisories and added 22 additional countries—including the Bahamas, Australia and Israel—to the list of countries it advises Americans not to travel. Those countries join popular places in Europe like France, Spain, Portugal and the UK who already are on the list.

The Level-4 status designates countries with extremely high rates of COVID-19 infection. Countries moved to the “Do not travel” list have more than 500 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people.

(Awkward moment: the United States fits that definition with current figures indicating more than 1,600 cases per 100,000.)

If you’re headed to a destination currently on the CDC”s list and are wondering if you should cancel, check out some of the questions you should ask yourself while making that decision.

Meanwhile, here’s more news you might have missed around the planet for the week of January 21, 2022.

Changes in COVID-19 travel restrictions

If you’re headed to Hawaii, you might want to think about getting your booster shot if you're due for one. Governor David Ige told local media the state is in the early stages of considering a plan to require proof of a booster shot in order to skip its mandatory 5-day quarantine. Nothing concrete has been announced yet but we expect that news on the horizon.

On the flip side, there are several countries rolling back their COVID-19 requirements.

All across the UK, COVID restrictions are set to ease and local media are reporting that England may remove second day testing requirements ahead of half-term break. The country already rolled back pre-arrival testing as well as mask mandates and vaccine passport requirements in recent weeks. By lifting this final measure, government leaders hope travelers will have renewed confidence ahead of a time when many families venture out due to school breaks.

While nothing is official yet, it’s expected there will be a formal announcement on travel restrictions soon.

Multiracial friends group walking at railway station platform - New normal travel concept with young travelers on social distancing and face covered by protective mask - Focus on blonde girl with hat
Some countries are rolling back their COVID-19 travel requirements. © Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Netherlands also eased some restrictions that it put in effect as cases spiked in December. Non-essential businesses like retail, hair salons and gyms. Hotels are open but restaurants and bars are still closed. The government plans to review its lockdown measures on January 25.

Starting in February, Thailand is resuming its Test-and-go tourism program. The program lets fully vaccinated visitors bypass the seven-day quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test on the first and fifth day of their visit.

Meanwhile, we’re trying to give you a perspective of what COVID-19 related restrictions look like on the ground when you visit a country and how it might impact your visit. This week, Lonely Planet's Lynn Brown filed this report about traveling to Belize.

Australia remains closed to international tourists, it is open to students and working travelers. In desperate need of workers to make up for a labor shortage caused by the pandemic, Australia is waiving its visa application fee for international students and those who plan to work while touring the country. Details of how people can apply for the waiver have not yet been announced but working travelers stand to save A$495 ($356 USD) while international students would save A$630 ($453 USD)

Read moreExplore the Sierra Nevada on this 600-mile trail network launching in California

Other news from around the planet

If you’ve wondered what you’d spend your money on if you had Jeff Besos level funds, might I suggest checking out this collection of the most expensive luxury hotel suite? Always good to have a plan in case you win the lottery. You don't want to be unprepared.

On the other end of the spectrum, as a dedicated upcycler, I miss rummaging the flea markets and second-hand shops in Berlin. There are so many cool finds on the racks and on the tables in some of Berlin’s popular places. Check out this list of some of Berlin’s best flea markets.

I don’t know about you, but after the last couple of years (!) working from home, I’d be okay if I never saw another Zoom call for the rest of my life. If you’ve ever fantasized about just throwing away your tech for the day, check out our social media manager Amanda McCadams’ digital detox in Asheville, North Carolina.

Two hours southeast of Perth, Western Australia has a new national park to protect some of the endangered species in the region.

Finally, if you’ve seen the images coming out of Tonga after the tsunami resulting from the eruption of an underwater volcano and wondered how you can help, here’s a list of some organizations who are helping people in the wake of the disaster.

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