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Traveling To Cuba Just Got Harder

In order to fight American dollars from empowering the Cuban regime, Trump’s security counsel has placed new restrictions on travel to the country.

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     Last week, the Trump administration placed further restrictions upon nonfamily travel to the Cuban country, a mere 100 miles from the tip of Florida. During a speech given to the veterans of the Bay of Pigs invasion, the failed 1961 event that sought to overthrow Fidel Castro, Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, added that the new regulations were also placed upon the countries of Nicaragua and Venezuela. Alongside Cuba, Bolton has stated that these three countries are “the troika of tyranny.”

     During his speech, he mentioned “The Department of the Treasury will implement further regulatory changes to restrict nonfamily travel to Cuba… These new measures will help steer American’s dollars away from the Cuban regime.”

Background

     For many years, tensions between the US and Cuba did not allow for travel. From 1999 until 2003, the US government allowed “people-to-people” licenses. These licenses allowed Americans to travel to the country if the purpose was for a short list of reasons. Educational or religious needs were two of these. During his term, President George W. Bush’s administration then restricted those licenses.

     However, in an effort to thaw tensions between the countries, the Obama administration granted the American people even greater opportunities. Americans who were not even journalists or scholars were able to visit the country – given that it was with an officially licensed operator. Come March 2016, Americans were free to travel to the country as long as they interacted with the Cuban people during educational exchange activities.

     This policy included 12 approved categories: family visits, support of the Cuban people, educational/religious/journalistic activities, humanitarian projects, professional research or business, private foundation activities, research or education at institutes, public performances, competitions and exhibitions, official US government matters, foreign government/intergovernmental organizations, export transactions, and transmission of information.

 

Easy No More

     In recent years, the process to travel was quite simple. Direct flights to Cuba could be purchased at airlines like JetBlue, American, Southwest, and United. Travelers would then apply for a tourist card, a Visa, that was valid for 30 days and that could further be extended for an additional 30 days in Cuba.

     However, in 2017, the Trump administration canceled the people-to-people licenses. Visitors were only given permission to visit if they were part of an educational program. As of late, American tourists are now banned from government-owned shops and hotels as they are controlled directly by the government.

     The Treasury Department has stated that Americans who are caught violating these new guidelines could face an up to $250,000 and be jailed for 10 years. So far, these two punishments have not been doled out.

     With much dismay, we suggest you find some sort of educational program, and quick… if you had ever planned on visiting our southern island neighbor.


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Destinations

Thai Government Wants Tourists to Wear Digital Wristbands

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Tourists will be required to wear digital wristbands in Thailand. This will enable the Thai government to easily track their health status while touring the said Southeast Asian country.

To sever possible COVID-19 transmission, Thailand plans to require would-be tourists to wear digital wristbands while staying in the country. This mandate will allow the government to track their whereabouts including their health as they visit Thailand’s different traveler destinations.

Last month, the said Southeast Asian nation opened its borders to a group of Chinese visitors—the first ever arrival since April when Thailand halted inbound travels to control COVID-19 transmission. The country has been doing quite well in the battle against the novel coronavirus. Hence, it has been reluctant to reopen its doors to visitors wanting to explore its various tourist spots.

The recent October group of Shanghai tourists were automatically required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period, especially since they planned to stay within the country for a month. They were also relegated to a government-accredited hotel.

Nevertheless, aside from the automatic quarantine period, recent Thailand updates assert that the nation now plans to mandate all approved, incoming tourists to wear digital wristbands, “Smart Bands” as they are called. These devices will help the government track the tourists, particularly their health, as they visit the different places within the country.

The said digital device measures the body temperature of the wearer which will, then, notify nearby health centers. Tourists who wear digital wristbands will also be able to ask for help should they ever get lost while touring the country.

Not all would-be visitors will be able to enter Thailand, however. At present, only visitors from low-risk areas will be given a Special Tourist Visa. This visa can be obtained by paying 2,000 Baht ($64.25).

Additionally, a would-be tourist needs to have a “fit-to-fly certificate” from a certified doctor, a negative PCR COVID-19 test result, and a health insurance policy of at least $100,000 that will cover COVID-19 treatment within the country.

If you plan to travel to Thailand, you must be able to secure these requirements before buying your ticket. See to it that you will be coming from a country that is enlisted as a low-risk area by the Thailand government. You should also obtain the necessary “fit-to-fly certificate” from your doctor, have a negative PCR COVID-19 test at least 72 hours before your flight, and an insurance policy of the above-stated amount before you can apply for the said Special Tourist Visa.

As of writing, Thailand has only less than 4,000 total COVID-19 cases, a far cry from the overall COVID-19 cases worldwide that has already reached more than 46 million. Hence, the Thai government strictly monitors tourists who are allowed to enter their borders. The planned mandate to require tourists to wear digital wristbands while staying in the country will greatly help control possible COVID-19 transmission which may be brought on by the gradual reopening of its borders.

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Visit the World’s Happiest Countries

I have no idea what makes a country happy but I know they must make nice places to visit. Let’s explore the happiest countries in the world and see why we should check them out.

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According to some smart people Norway is the world’s happiest country followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. SO apparently being freezing cold 9 months out of the year equals happiness. I have no idea what makes a country happy but I know they must make nice places to visit. Let’s explore the happiest countries in the world and see why we should check them out.

How do you judge a country’s’ happiness? Well the smart people at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) have figured some way out. Working for the United Nations the SDSN used tons of data and statistics to come to their findings. The main factors used were Happiness, Caring, Freedom, Honesty, Health, Income, Generosity and Good Governance.

Sweden

Scandinavian countries were well represented on this list with all their countries placing in the top 10. Sweden ties for 9th place and is such a wonderful place to visit. Stockholm has some amazing attractions and interesting architecture. Come for the Scenery and stay for their happiness.

 

Australia

Tied for 9th place is the happy people down under. Throw another shrimp on the barbie and drink a Fosters with some real happy folk. Check out the amazing Great Barrier Reef and scuba dive with thousands of animal varieties. Australia is a wonderful place to visit and see why everyone is so happy.

 

New Zealand

Australia’s neighbor and rival is number 8 on the happiness list. The kiwis are a boisterous and happy people known for being welcoming and helpful. The landscape in New Zealand is second to none and offers epic views at every turn. Incredible sailing and waters ports dominate the beaches and hikes and white water rafting are inland favorites.

 

Canada

We all knew Canadians were a happy people and they rank 7th on this list. Celebrating their 150th anniversary as a nation this year, there should be plenty of celebrations going on.   Check out Prince Edward Island where the independence from Great Britain was first discussed.

 

Netherlands

The Dutch are a happy people and their country is one of the best to visit. Celebrating their rich history, The Danish people have plenty to be happy about. Check out the Van Gogh museum or take a tour in the Heineken Brewery. Check out their famed marijuana coffee shops or stroll down the beautiful canals.

 

Finland

Scandinavia represents again with Finland and the 5th spot. A favorite winter sports destination, Finland is as beautiful during the summer. Check out their wonderful lakes and take in some beautiful landscapes.

 

Switzerland

The Swiss are always neutral but you shouldn’t be neutral about visiting the fourth happiest country on Earth. Enjoy the amazing mountains and outdoor activities in this natural playground. The Swiss have been at the top of this list since it’s inception.

 

Iceland

The island nation off on its own in the Atlantic Ocean is the third happiest country. Outdoor activities, the Northern Lights and some incredible thermal pools make Iceland an awesome destination. Reykjavik is an international city with huge attractions and natural beauty, outside the city offers the most intense experiences.

 

Denmark

Number two on the list is the happy people of Denmark. Copenhagen is my favorite European city and it is a must visit. Check out the tall ships and the cute coastal architecture all around Copenhagen.

 

Norway

The happiest country on the planet is Norway. The Scandinavian country has the happiest people and some of the most breathtaking views on the planet. All you have to do is see one fjord in person and you’ll understand natural beauty. The people of Norway are healthier and happier than anywhere on Earth. See why everyone is so happy and experience it for yourself.

 

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Destinations

Travel the World for FREE

Yes, you can travel the world for free if you exchange your hard work and time for the cause. Here are some interesting ways to travel for free, so get planning and decide where you want to visit.

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Have you ever daydreamed about traveling the world? If so, you most likely came to the realization that global travel is out of your reach financially, but what if it wasn’t? There are creative ways to finance vacations that only require a little elbow grease or some imaginative ideas. Yes, you can travel the world for free if you exchange your hard work and time for the cause. Here are some interesting ways to travel for free, so get planning and decide where you want to visit.

 

Points

Obviously if you travel a lot anyway for business or use your rewards credit card often you can redeem points or miles. This is probably the most popular way people travel for virtually free. Of course you need to accrue all these points or miles so necessarily this isn’t free. Plus we aren’t all lucky enough to travel for business or have the money in the first place to earn points. So let’s explore some more imaginative methods to financial freedom while traveling.

 

Contest Winner

Sure winning contests require a high amount of luck unless you play the odds. Enter as many contests that offer travel rewards as possible. I know people who consider this a part time job they enter so many contests but also travel for free all the time. Search the internet for contests and start entering. Most of them do it just for your information, so get an email account specifically for the contests and hopefully you can win something awesome.

 

Promote

Find companies that are looking for people to spread the word about them. These grassroots campaigns are gaining popularity and all they ask in return are blog posts or instagram pictures. Seek these companies out and offer up your services. Maybe a Cruise line wants you to go to retirement homes passing out flyers on weekends. This type of part time or seasonal employment can earn you free trips in return. I’d gladly give up a few hours here and there to earn a free cruise.

 

Couch Surf

It may not be glamorous but couch surfing is a recent phenomenon that is taking off. Websites like Couchsurfing.com offer the opportunity for like-minded people to open up their homes to travelers in exchange for the same in return. A large online community has continued to grow over the last few years, so check it out. This is a great way to stay for free while you are traveling. Now you just have to get there.

 

Shill for the company

Many travel companies will hook you up if you get a few other people to pay for their services. So if you sell vacation packages to a few co-workers, that company will give you a free trip in return. Sure, you’ll have to sell a little bit but the rewards are completely worth it. I guess nothing in life is truly free.

 

Go Fund Me

OK, I know this may be overused lately but Crowdsourcing platforms like GoFundMe.com or IndieGoGo.com allow people to start a fund for certain causes. Maybe your brother has a hard life and needs a vacation but you can’t afford it yourself, you create an account on one of these websites and ask people to each give a small amount. This can quickly snowball where 100 people each give $5; you suddenly have a significant amount of money.

 

So now you have ideas about how to travel for free, so get out there and start enjoying travel.

 

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