traditions Archives - Amazing Journeys
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Here at Amazing Journeys, we're lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it's chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.

Border

COVID Travel Update

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

by Malori

No doubt, you’re ready to leave your own borders and get out in the world once more. While we are not recommending travel at this time, as you can see by the list of country requirements below that some countries are beginning to open, but still risky, cumbersome and complicated.

Below is a list of countries and what they are requiring of US and Canadian citizens at this time including opening of borders, entry requirements and restrictions. Please note, this update is changing daily and it’s best to check with local embassies for countries to which you may travel and also COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination | CDC,  the U.S. Embassy or Canadian Government and your preferred airline before finalizing travel plans.

Caribbean/Mexico
Turks & Caicos: Open to Canadians and Americans with restrictions. Due to a rise in cases, a curfew is now imposed on Grand Turk from 8pm to 5am (due to be updated January 27, 2021).
Antigua: Open to Canadians and Americans with restrictions. All travelers arriving by air must have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken within 7 days of their flight (not required for children under 12 years of age). Fill out an online health form. All arriving passengers will be monitored for Covid-19 for periods of up to 14 days. Curfew in effect from 11pm to 5am.
Mexico: Open to Canadians and Americans with no restrictions.

Latin America
Costa Rica: Open to Canadians and Americans with restrictions. You must have PCR testing before returning home to the U.S. or Canada.
Ecuador/Galapagos: Open to Canadians and Americans with restrictions. As of January 11, 2021, antigen rapid test can be performed on a random basis to passengers arriving into Quito or Guayaquil.

Europe
Montenegro: Open to Canadians and Americans as of January 12, 2021. No test required.
Turkey: Open to Canadians and Americans with restrictions. International passengers age 6 years and older traveling to Turkey are required to have taken a Covid-19 PCR test with a negative result within 72 hours prior to their flight. Passengers must submit their test results to the airline at the time of check-in. Borders open to all travelers with temperature check upon arrival. This requirement will remain in effect until March 1, 2021.
Croatia: Open to Canadians and Americans. Entry allowed with a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours. Travelers also have the option of being tested upon entry at their own expense, but they must self-isolate until test results confirmed. Travelers must also prove they are traveling for urgent personal/family reasons, business reasons or other economic interest (Tourism is considered to be an economic interest).

Africa
Egypt: Open to Canadians and Americans with restrictions. All travelers must present a medical certificate issued 72 hours before entry on arrival proving they are not infected with Covid-19. Children under 6 years of age are exempt from this requirement. Travelers departing from Japan, China, Thailand, North America, South America and Canada, as well as London Heathrow, Paris Charles De Gaulle and Frankfurt airports, will be permitted to enter with a negative Covid-19 test no older than 96 hours. Tourists must hold a valid travel insurance to cover medical expenses in Egypt. Health checks may take place at the airport for all travelers entering Egypt.

Important Note for Returning U.S./Canada Passengers
U.S.: All U.S. passengers over the age of 2 years must provide one of the following before boarding their flight back home:
-A negative Covid-19 test result (PCR or Antigen) taken within 72 hours prior.
-Documentation of having recovered from Covid-19 and approved to travel by a doctor.
Canada: All Canadian passengers over the age of 5 years must provide a negative Covid-19 test result (PCR or LAMP) taken within the 72 hours prior.

Please review the full order for the U.S. on the CDC’s website here. Canada issued a similar order earlier this month. Read here.

Because of a new variant, the US has imposed restrictions on non-US citizens entering the US from South Africa and the border-free Schengen zone which include 26 European countries. They include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

There is one European cruise line who is requiring all passengers have a COVID vaccine prior to boarding. You may find more of this in the future.

Airlines, cruise lines and other modes of transportation may require a ‘Travel Passport” or Vaccine Passport” in order to board your flight, cruise, etc.  Read more about it in the following article. COVID in US: What ‘vaccine passports’ mean for your summer vacation.

Travel will be safer in the near future and we at Amazing Journeys are ready for it.  But until it is safe to do so, you will find us at home, planning opportunities of a lifetime!

Country requirements provided by Kensington Tours

New Year’s Traditions from Around the World

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020

by Malori

Here it is, the week of New Year’s and I am at home. I’m usually working at “light-speed” finalizing logistics, programs, wrapping gifts and packing for myself and 70 others. So now I am getting a taste of just what it is that most people do over the holiday weekends of Christmas and New Years…going for walks in the snow, watching lots of movies, eating Chinese food, playing games and catching up with friends via Facetime or Zoom.  It’s a bit surreal for me and seems really strange for me to be here.

You see, it has been an Amazing Journeys tradition since 2002 to be away on a cruise for the New Year’s holiday.  It goes without saying, we are missing this once-a-year opportunity to sail into the new year with you, all of our friends. The planning, the excitement, the anticipation… it’s all part of a normal December for me and the rest of the team here at AJ.  Over the past nearly 20 years, we have traveled to close to home places such as the Caribbean, Mexico, the Panama Canal and Hawaii, and some exotic locales such as South America, India, the UAE, and Asia during this time of year.  It’s provided memories that are still fresh in our minds, and helps to get us through these times of this “travel black-out” we’re all a part of.

While on our New Year’s Eve cruises, we always share New Year’s traditions from the countries we are traveling.  Since we are unable to travel around the world, at least we can celebrate as though we’re traveling with our INTERNATIONAL NEW YEAR’S FUN FACTS:

NEW ZEALAND: Gisborne is 308.4 miles west of the International Date Line and thus is the first major city to see the beginning of the New Year (however it is Kiritimati, Republic of Kiribati that is the first “city” in the world to see the first sun rise for the year, and Amazing Journeys was there on New Year’s Eve 2002/2003).

LATIN COUNTRIES INCLUDING SPAIN, MEXICO, BRAZIL, COLUMBIA, ARGENTINA, CHILE AND OTHERS: Residents of Latin American countries down a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the New Year countdown, while making a wish with each one. On New Year’s Eve, women who want to find love in the New Year wear red underwear, or yellow if they want money. Other traditions include sweeping the dirt out and taking luggage outside as a symbol of future trips. (Side note – some of our travelers in Chile last year bought me yellow underwear for prosperity in 2020 – it didn’t work).  (And another side note – I will be walking around the block with my suitcase on New Year’s Day with hopes of future travel and I hope all of you will join me on this one!).

TAIWAN: The end of the year is celebrated with concerts held in all major cities.  Recently, the nation has used higher technology to communicate among the cities via video, enabling the cities to count down together.

SOUTH AFRICA: In downtown Jo-burg, locals throw old appliances out the window

FINLAND: It’s a longtime Finnish tradition to predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water, and then interpreting the shape the metal takes after hardening.

PANAMA: Effigies of well-known people—called muñecos—are traditionally burned in New Year’s bonfires in Panama. The effigies represent the old year; immolating them is meant to drive off evil spirits for a fresh New Year’s start.

JAPAN: Many Japanese decorate their house with a New Year’s wreath made from rice straw and a lucky talisman and hang it on the door.  The tradition on December 31st is to eat toshikoshu soba – their long noodles symbolize a longevity and wealth.  They listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony which is commonly associated with New Years in Japan.  At midnight, the New Year is welcomed with 108 bell chimes in alignment with the Buddhist belief that this brings cleanness. It’s also considered good to be smiling going into the New Year as it supposedly brings good luck.

SWITZERLAND: Ever hear of dropping a dollop of cream on the floor to ring in the new year with good luck, wealth and peace? Well that’s what some do in Switzerland — it’s thought to bring a year of abundance. Some Swiss also observe the tradition of dressing up in costumes to invoke good spirits and chase evil energies.

PORTUGAL: In the northern parts of Portugal, children traditionally sing carols as they visit houses where they are given coins and treats. The songs they sing are called janeiros and are said to bring good luck.

DENMARK: Danes ring in the New Year by hurling old plates and glasses… against the doors of friends’ and relatives’ houses. They also stand on chairs and then jump off them together at midnight. Leaping into January is supposed to banish bad spirits and bring good luck.

Although we’ll miss traveling with you during the New Year, we hope you’ll celebrate in grand style, in whatever tradition you choose.  If you’re home alone, dance like nobody’s watching.  That’s what I’ll be doing –wait, that’s what I always do even when traveling!  Just have a great time!

Wishing you a New Year filled with health and happiness and dream of the day we will traveling together again.