Fascinating International “No-Nos” Revealed In New UK Report

The UK government just released a surprising list of cultural taboos around the world in preparation for spring break. Although the authors of this new report were targeting younger people, the advice could help anyone going on an international vacation. Below, we’ll share some of the most shocking lesser-known taboos at the world’s top tourist draws.

First, many over-the-counter medications in the West are banned in Japan. Believe it or not, if you bring a bottle of Vicks VapoRub or codeine hydrochloride into the “Land of the Rising Sun” you could be deported.

Continuing on into another Asian nation, the Thai government has strict laws against e-cigarettes. Any traveler caught using a vaping device could face a steep fine.

Just like in Thailand, Buddhism plays a central role in Sri Lanka’s culture. Sri Lankans take their religion so seriously that they won’t let you into their country if you have a Buddhist tattoo. Also, you could be deported from Sri Lanka for taking a selfie in front of sacred Buddhist monuments.

Moving on in our list to the Caribbean, travelers of all ages cannot legally wear camouflaged clothing. The most popular islands that enforce this law include Barbados and St. Lucia.

Anyone who wants to overcome a bad cussing habit should visit the United Arab Eremites (UAE) in the near future. Citizens and visitors to the UAE could be thrown in prison if they swear online or in public.

Similar to the UAE, Greece doesn’t take kindly to indecent public behavior. You can be jailed in Greece for dropping your drawers in public, even if it was done as a joke.

Virgin Atlantic Announces Three New Class Fares

Virgin Atlantic is jumping on the bandwagon of the latest trend in air travel. The airline announced on Wednesday that it is rolling out three new branded economy fares in an effort to entice bargain travelers. The new fares will launch this spring and are intended to align more closely with global partner Delta Airline’s class of economy fares.

The most basic of the three fares is the Economy Light version. Travelers booked in this class will need to pay extra for any checked luggage and will not be assigned their seat until checking in at the airport. The next step up in the fare ladder is the Economy Classic level. These passengers will be allowed one free checked bag and will be able to choose their seat when the ticket is purchased. The most premium level in the economy class offerings is the Economy Delight. In addition to the complimentary baggage allowance and advanced seat assignment benefits offered by Economy Classic, travelers booked with an Economy Delight ticket will enjoy three more inches of legroom and priority check-in.

All economy passengers can still expect to receive the same level of exemplary service provided by Virgin Atlantic. Complimentary food and drink will be offered to all travelers, regardless of the fare that was originally purchased. In addition to the new fare structure, Virgin Atlantic also announced that they will be adding Wi-Fi and charging outlets for each seat.

New In-Flight Menu Promises To Help Passengers Overcome Jet Lag

Australia’s Qantas Airways is getting ready to test a new in-flight menu designed to help travelers naturally overcome jet lag. These healthy food options, which were designed by Australian nutritionists, will be served for the first time on March 24th to people taking Qantas’s non-stop flight from Perth to London.

Researchers at the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney developed all of these menu items with the goal of promoting a natural circadian rhythm and preventing dehydration. They also hope these innovative choices will improve passengers’ immunity while they’re up in the air.

Qantas has released three of the main courses that will be made available on this special flight. The first is seared sea bass drenched in a lemon garlic sauce with sides of broccoli and an almond salad. If that doesn’t sound appetizing, perhaps you’d prefer a beef salad with a lemony sauce, corn, and zucchini. Lastly, one breakfast option will be eggs served on a bed of quinoa with plenty of green kale and pistachios.

To help with hydration, doctors included fruits like strawberries and veggies like cucumbers in many of their dishes. For a snack, researchers encourage guests to dig into a raw Hawaiian poke bowl.

As for drinks, doctors have come up with their own unique herbal tea blend to promote relaxation. In-flight attendants will also offer guests a warm chocolate milk concoction to help them fall asleep and a probiotic-dense kombucha to help them wake up.

On this first test flight, doctors will simply collect data from guest surveys to gauge the success of their menu. In the near future, researchers hope to get more objective measures of their menu’s success by tracking passengers with interactive apps.

More People Seek ‘Transformational’ Vacation Adventures

One of the fastest growing trends in world travel is the demand for trips that are considered “transformational.” It’s clear that more people are seeking something beyond the same old basic rest and relaxation vacation time.

Transformational travel is defined as going somewhere and doing something that can trigger a deep emotional impact or create a meaningful experience. People want to “break old molds” and get pushed out their comfort zones, says travel tour advisor Matthew D. Upchurch.

Transformational travel can take many forms. For example, instead of taking a week to kick back on a cruise ship and stuff oneself with rich foods, entertainment and glorious ocean views, people are opting to get their hands dirty in a remote Third World village while helping disadvantaged people improve their lives in some way.

Another increasingly popular transformational journey is visiting a remote village in a Brazilian rain forest to partake in a psychedelic drug experience called an ayahuasca ceremony. Ayahuasca is a powerful hallucinogenic substance used for thousands of years by Amazon shamans to explore the outer reaches of consciousness.

Upchurch said that people are seeking profound connections with people of different cultures in exotic locations around the world. If that means a grueling hike through mountainous terrain or a lengthy trek across a high desert region – so much the better.

The key is to be challenged and to confront people and situations that “blow the mind.” The journey must leave the traveler with an expanded perspective and emotional impact once they return home.

TripAdvisor Announces Top Specialty Tours Of 2017

Travel company TripAdvisor just revealed the top ten specialty tours of 2017. While the most popular tours of last year were focused on bringing guests to iconic monuments, TripAdvisor also saw a huge growth in new industries like culinary tours.

The top spot for 2017’s list of TripAdvisor sponsored tours went to a walking tour of Rome and the Vatican. People who book this one-day tour get to skip lines into major monuments including Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, the Colosseum, and the Vatican Museums. This walking tour costs about $140 per person.

Second place went to TripAdvisor’s exclusive cruise down the Chicago River. This particular river cruise takes guests by some of the Windy City’s most recognizable buildings like the John Hancock tower and the Aon Center. This tour lasts about 75 minutes and costs only $40 per person.

La Città Eterna comes in yet again at the number three on this list. The major differences with this tour and the first is that it includes a walk through the Roman Forum and lasts only half a day. This special tour also costs $140 per person.

Amazingly, Rome won the fourth spot on this list as well. This tour is significantly cheaper at only $33 per person, but guests get no privileged access to attractions. Instead, guests get to ride in a big tour bus for either one or two days to some of the hottest sites around Rome.

Rounding out the top five is a special tour of the massive Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, Spain. Guests on this $45 tour will get to cut to the front of the line and experience this masterpiece by artist Antoni Gaudí in relative peace.

From number six to number ten, here are the remaining tours on TripAdvisor’s list: priority access to Paris’ Eiffel Tower, London’s Harry Potter experience at Warner Bros. Studio, a tour of NYC’s Empire State Building, a half-day tour of islands on the Venetian lagoon, and a one day tour of Tuscany. All of these tours on this list are still available on TripAdvisor’s website.

New Study Reveals The Dirtiest Surfaces In Airports And Planes

Before you touch your airport’s self-service check-in kiosk, you might want to wipe it down with an alcohol swab. According to a study just released by the US insurance company InsuranceQuotes.com, the screens on self-service check-in kiosks are the dirtiest surfaces in most airports.

Researchers involved in this study used standard swab tests on six different surfaces in three of America’s busiest airports. In total, InsuranceQuotes.com employees gathered data from 18 tests and measured their results in the number of bacteria that formed colonies per square inch (aka CFUs).

So, just how bad is the check-in kiosk? According to the data, an average check-in screen has 250,000 CFUs. The worst check-in kiosk in this survey had well over 1 million CFUs.

The second dirtiest surface in the airport went to the armrests on chairs by various gates. These commonly touched surfaces had an average score of 21,000 CFUs.

Lastly, water fountain buttons came in third place. Researchers say these buttons averaged 19,000 CFUs, which is still significantly less than the touchscreen kiosk.

After completing their studies at the airport, investigators also wanted to see how different surfaces on planes fared. Unsurprisingly, they found that the plane’s bathroom had an average of 95,000 CFUs on the flusher.

Other germy areas on the plane include the tray table and the seat belt buckle. These two surfaces, however, had far fewer bacteria than the toilet button coming in at approximately 11,500 and 1,100 CFUs, respectively.

Just as a point of reference, this report also found that toilet seats in most airports have fewer CFUs than all the more commonly used surfaces listed above. Believe it or not, a toilet seat only has about 170 CFUs on average.

Everyone involved in this research hopes this will encourage anyone going to an airport to bring plenty of hand-sanitizer and to wash their hands thoroughly with soap.

South Korea And Singapore Win 2018’s Award For Most Powerful Passports

South Korea is now tied with Singapore for the title of the world’s strongest passport. That’s according to a new annual ranking of the world’s passports put out by the group Passport Index.

 

This marks the first time two Asian nations are at the top of the list. For many decades, the most powerful passports in the world always went to European nations.

 

One of the major reasons why these two Asian nations were awarded the top prize this year has to do with a change in Uzbekistan’s visa policy. As of this year, passport holders in both South Korea and Singapore have been granted visa-free status by Uzbekistani authorities.

 

Passport Index added that Somalia has made changes in their visa procedures in recent years. This is yet another reason why South Korea was able to tie for first this year. Singapore and South Korea have visa-free scores of 162 in this year’s survey.

 

There was also a tie for the second most powerful passport on Passport Index’s list. Both Germany and Japan were given visa-free scores of 161.

 

Many significant European nations were able to clinch the bronze prize this year with scores of 160. A few of these nations include Italy, France, and Sweden.

 

Executives at Passport Index believe this year’s survey proves how powerful and trustworthy Asian nations are becoming in the globalized era.

 

Analysts at Passport Index worked with the financial firm Arton Capital when compiling this year’s list. Anyone can check the status of their home country’s passport on Passport Index’s official website.

11.4 Million Foreigners Visited Morocco In 2017

Last year was a stellar year for Morocco’s tourism industry. Newly released statistics from Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism reveal the North African nation welcomed an impressive 11.4 million international visitors in 2017.

This is the first time Morocco has posted a number higher than 11 million tourists in its long history. By comparison, 2016’s tourist numbers were 10 percent lower than the 2017 report.

In terms of revenue, the country brought in 69.7 billion Moroccan dirhams from tourism 2017. This is a significant jump from 64.2 billion dirhams in 2016. For point of reference, one dirham is worth 0.11USD.

Morocco’s tourism mecca remains Marrakesh near the Atlas Mountains. Hot sites for visitors in Marrakesh include the Koutoubia Mosque, Jardin Majorelle, and the Souks.

The cities of Fez and Tangiers also posted solid tourism numbers for 2017. One new city that has been attracting a great deal of attention recently, however, is the relatively quiet Saharan town of Ouarzazate.

Travel experts believe Morocco was able to break the 11 million mark last year thanks to increased interest from developing economies like Brazil and China. Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism also showed how people in nations like Germany and France continue to holiday in Morocco in high numbers.

Another reason for this increased tourism traffic may be due to the opening of new affordable flights into Morocco from major European countries. Royal Air Maroc is the nation’s top airline.

Besides agriculture, tourism is the most important industry in Morocco. The 2017 estimate for Morocco’s GDP stands at $300.1 billion and its main exports include textiles, fertilizers, and fruits.

Five Great Countries To Visit In 2018

You can travel for years and still miss some of the incredible sights that the planet continues to change in one way or another. It’s hard to pick a city that has everything in terms of good weather, interesting attractions, quick travel time. So picking countries to visit is a process that involves research, conversations, and enough leisure time to enjoy what those countries offer.

That being said, here are five countries that won’t disappoint you in 2018.

1. Chile. Chile is in South America but the Andes Mountains keep it hidden from the rest of the continent. The Pacific Ocean is the country’s western border. And the city of Santiago lives up to its reputation as the “land of the poets.” The works of Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda are still alive and well in Chile.

2. South Korea. A visit to Seoul is a visit to modern-day Asia. The new Seoul-lo 7017 is a high-line park that has libraries, bars, cafes, and some of the finest Kimchi in the country.

3. Portugal. Portugal used to be the stepchild of Spain, but that’s ancient history. Lisbon is a cultural center as well as the launching point for the country’s beach destination, Algarve.

4. New Zealand. Australia is not the only place down under. New Zealand is the perfect country for adventure seekers.

5. Malta Malta’s lifestyle is almost too good to be true. It is the European capital of culture. The various international film festivals give the country a touch of modern culture that’s hard to ignore.

After Two Devastating Hurricanes, Puerto Rico Is Open For Tourists

Puerto Rico has always been a tourist destination. But after Hurricane Irma hit the country with category 4 winds, and then Hurricane Maria leveled the country’s infrastructure with 155 mph winds, no one was sure if Puerto Rico would ever be the same again. The United States did send help. But the help was slow, and that made the rebuilding process harder.

But Puerto Rico is a resilient country. People living in Puerto Rico are used to challenges. The country is showing the world what courage and the will to fight back really are. The tourists who come to Puerto Rico now are experiencing a new sense of confidence in the people of PR. They see a rich culture that doesn’t quit even though the battle to be the country it was before is just a memory now. The rebuilding process will change some of the established sites that tourist like to visit. But over 75 percent of the hotels are open for business, and Cruise ships are docking in San Juan’s port just like the old days.

There are 107 tourist attractions open across the island. Some of the favorites like the Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Old San Juan, and Cueva Ventana as well as other favorites are still giving tourists the full Puerto Rico experience. Ground transportation is operating as it did before, and there are 70 commercial flights a day in and out of San Juan’s airport.

The tourist who take a chance and visit Puerto Rico now see an island that still has natural beauty, intensity, and the unique character it always had.