Sandals and Beaches Resorts Introducing Layaway Plan

Posted By : travelisswell/ 7 0


Sandals Resorts International has become the latest travel entity to join the layaway option. Sandals is introducing Layaway & Playaway, a payment plan similar to store layaway options that enable travelers to spread the cost of a trip to Sandals or Beaches vacation over time. There are no fees and no interest payments with the Sandals plan, which can be used at any of the 18 Sandals and Beaches resorts across the Caribbean.

How does it work?

Almost exactly the same as retail stores.  Travelers must make a minimum deposit of $49 per person when booking and then select a payment plan in which the payments can be made in installments – as few as three or as many as 24.  Book with a credit card and Sandals keeps the card on file and charges you automatically every 30 days no matter which plan you choose. Final payment must be paid in full 45 days prior to travel. Please call 1-888-963-8986 to learn more about the Layaway plan offered by Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts.



Novel Coronavirus in China

Posted By : travelisswell/ 6 0

There is an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness first identified in Wuhan, China, caused by a novel (new) coronavirus.  Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear how easily the virus spreads between people. Other parts of China have had cases among people who traveled to Wuhan.

What is the current situation?

A novel (new) coronavirus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This outbreak began in early December 2019 and continues to expand in scope and magnitude. Chinese health officials have reported hundreds of cases in the city of Wuhan and severe illness has been reported, including deaths. CDC recommends that travelers avoid non-essential travel to Wuhan. Cases have also been identified in travelers from Wuhan to other parts of China and the world, including the United States. Person-to-person spread is occurring though it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people at this time. Signs and symptoms of this illness include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. However, at least two previously identified coronaviruses have caused severe disease — severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.
What can travelers do to protect themselves and others?

CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan, including buses, subways, trains, and the airport. Remain alert if traveling to other parts of China by practicing the precautions below.

Travelers to China should:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

If you traveled to China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Clinician Information:

Healthcare providers should obtain a detailed travel history for patients with fever and respiratory symptoms. For patients with these symptoms who were in Wuhan on or after December 1, 2019 and had onset of illness within 2 weeks of leaving, consider the 2019 novel coronavirus and notify infection control personnel and your local health department immediately.

Although routes of transmission have yet to be definitively determined, CDC recommends a cautious approach to interacting with patients under investigation. Ask such patients to wear a surgical mask as soon as they are identified. Conduct their evaluation in a private room with the door closed, ideally an airborne infection isolation room, if available. Personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, and airborne precautions, and use eye protection (goggles or a face shield). For additional infection control guidance, visit CDC’s Infection Control webpage.

Destination Seattle

25 Top LGBTQ Travel Destinations for 2020

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Experience the Top 25 LGBTQ Destinations for 2020 that you should consider spending some time in during 2020.

Los Angeles
Whether you’re partying at The Abbey in West Hollywood, sunning yourself at Will Rogers Beach or hiking to Griffith Observatory and taking in the cityscape, the city of angels always has something to offer. LA Pride runs from June 12-14, 2020.

This beautiful Dutch-influenced island is part of the ABCs (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao) located off the northern coast of Venezuela—and is the namesake of the popular blue liqueur. Bonus: it’s off the main hurricane tracks! In recent years, the island has been promoting itself as the most LGBTQ-friendly island in the Caribbean. Curaçao Pride will be held September 22-27, 2020.

This European jewel is incredibly gay-friendly and boasts amazing architecture, history galore and incredible music. And evenings here come alive with offer plenty of options, including dance clubs, gay saunas and more. Vienna Gay Pride is scheduled for June 1-14, 2020.

This often-overlooked East Coast gem will delight visitors with dynamic museums, great restaurants and an intriguing blend of urbanity and nautical history. What’s more, prices here are a steal compared to D.C., Philadelphia or New York City. Baltimore Pride 2020 will be held from June 19-21 at Druid Hill Park.

Melbourne, Australia
Dynamic Melbourne is often overshadowed by rival Sydney, but this glorious southern city is incredibly international in scope and is considered the cultural capital of Australia. Wander the shops of St. Kilda, South Yarra or Fitzroy, or shift your shopping game into high gear at Bourke Street Mall or along Collins Street. Come for Melbourne Pride, which will be held on February 2.

Las Vegas
Sin City has morphed from one type of getaway to another over the years, but it’s long been a great playground for queer travelers. Many resorts, such as The Cosmopolitan and Luxor, actively market to gay clientele, and there is so much to do, gambling notwithstanding. Take in a sexy show like Zumanity or Atomic Saloon, see Mariah or Celine in concert, or just walk The Strip and choose from countless incredible restaurants. Las Vegas PRIDE is planned for October.

This Southeast Asian hub has been a draw for LGBTQ travelers for years and continues to impress. Take a very tolerant society, add in some fascinating culture, brilliant architecture (both old and new), warm climate and a great exchange rate, and you’ve got a winner for queer vacationers.

Kenya, like most African countries, does not have a good track record on LGBTQ rights, which will certainly dissuade some travelers. But the country’s incredible natural sights—the rift valley, mountains and coast—not to mention safari opportunities—are increasing draws for this market. Some queer travel companies, such as Out Adventures, plan Kenya trips, and travelers report positive experiences in the country—hopefully a sign that the nation is slowly evolving toward better human rights.

This city, likened to the “Austin of Oklahoma,” is a surprisingly welcoming beacon of welcoming attitude in a very red state. With beautiful architecture, a thriving arts scene and a dynamic LGBTQ community, the city is a delight. Make sure to visit the Gathering Place, an unbelievable $465 million city park that was completed in late 2018. Tulsa Pride will be held on June 5, 2020.

Visit this Manitoba city for its impressive Canadian Museum for Human Rights, an architecturally stunning building that is the first museum solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. Winnipeg is a true four-season city, with a multitude of attractions, restaurants and entertainment for all. Pride Winnipeg will happen from May 22-31, 2020.

This bit of Mexican seaside paradise has been attracting queer visitors for years, and many LGBTQ couples return year after year to their favorite all-inclusive resorts. With inexpensive airfares from much of the U.S. and Canada, the warm waters and sunny beaches are a great mid-winter option for a getaway. And same-sex marriage is legal here, making for a fun destination wedding choice.

Check out this Bavarian city for hearty food, great beer, and a large queer contingent. Spend a day strolling and people-watching in the city’s expansive Englisher Garten (which even has a river surfing area!) In addition to Munich’s multitude of gay-owned bars, businesses and restaurants, the city is a great jumping-off point to the gorgeous Bavarian Alps to the south. Munich Pride will be July 4-12, 2020.

Georgia’s capital city is an LGBTQ center of the southeastern United States, and Atlanta was recently named as the host city for the IGLTA Convention in 2021. One of the more progressive cities in the country on gay rights, there are a multitude of bars and nightclubs to keep queer visitors hopping. Plus, sampling Atlanta’s many world-class museums should be part of the equation for every trip here. The city’s 50th Pride celebration will take place in October 2020.


One of South America’s most progressive countries, compact Uruguay has become a favorite for LGBTQ travelers looking for something just a bit different. While hopping over to the small nation is a popular day trip from Buenos Aires, this destination deserves a longer visit from queer travelers. Wander the cosmopolitan streets of Montevideo or enjoy the sun-soaked beaches of Punta del Este to get a better vibe for Uruguay.

This delightful city on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod is a popular LGBTQ spot, and this year, the city celebrates 400 years since the first Pilgrims landed in the harbor. Family Week, scheduled from July 25 to August 1, 2020, is said to be the world’s largest annual gathering for queer families. And don’t miss Provincetown Pride 2020, which will be held from June 5-7.

Osaka, Japan
Japan’s second-largest metropolitan area is centered on Osaka, with more than 20 million people living here on the country’s west coast. The city is growing in popularity with LGBTQ travelers, and many come to the Doyamacho area. Here, you’ll find a host of saunas, gay nightclubs, lesbian bars, drag shows and more. Kansai Rainbow Pride generally occurs in October.

This fast-growing U.S. city has become a center for blended cultures and cuisine, and it boasts a strong LGBTQ community. The downtown area is beginning to flourish with residents, and the popular Monstrose gayborhood remains a great draw from all over Texas. Houston Pride usually happens around the fourth Saturday in June.

Costa Rica
In May, the country of Costa Rica will officially legalize same-sex marriage, giving queer travelers one more reason to visit this Central American gem. From beaches on two different oceans to rainforests and volcanoes, visitors here have plenty to choose from. Check out Manuel Antonio and its bevy of gay resorts and activities.

Many people are surprised to learn that one of the country’s largest Pride celebrations takes place in unassuming Columbus, Ohio’s state capital. Columbus Pride 2020 takes place from June 19-21 and organizers are hoping to match 2019’s record crowd of 500,000 people. And make sure to walk around the Short North and German Village neighborhoods to get a better flavor for this Midwestern town.

New Zealand
This magical land of Hobbits and sheep has consistently been rated a top LGBTQ destination for years, thanks to its track record of being a welcoming society. This island nation features stunning geography, interesting cities and plenty of outdoor adventure, including walking, hiking, sailing, cycling and skiing. Auckland Pride will be held from February 1-16, 2020.

The home of World Pride in 2017, Madrid is a diverse and welcoming city with multiple “gayborhoods.” The city is known for its party scene, as well as its excellent restaurant and pleasant climate, with 300+ sunny days per year. Madrid Pride is scheduled for July 4, 2020.

While Capitol Hill has long been known as Seattle’s center of gay life, this extremely accepting city seems to sometimes be gay all over, with queer couples proudly holding hands in downtown, at clubs and bars, and in neighborhoods. And while many think of Seattle as being ground zero for Starbucks, the city has a plethora of adorable local coffee shops to sample. PrideFest Seattle Center is planned for June 28, 2020.

Fresh off its hosting of the Gay Games in 2018, the city of light continues to attract queer travelers looking for romance, food, wine, architecture, and of course, culture. Stay in the Marais, the centrally located gayborhood, and experience the city at your leisure. Paris Gay Pride will be held on June 27, 2020.

Bogota, Columbia
Queer travelers will love wandering the Bogota’s La Candelaria, the famed old town area. This capital city, located high in the Andes at more than 8,500 feet, is a delightful escape full of churches, museums, and more. Columbia is one of the more progressive countries in Latin America, and Bogota’s impressive Theatrón nightclub is said to be the largest gay bar in the entire region.

Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver is home to the largest LGBTQ population in western Canada, and this sleek, glassy city surrounded by mountains is a tourist’s dream. While the entire city is incredibly welcoming, queer visitors will enjoy staying in or around the West End and Davie Village. Rainbow crosswalks and pride flags abound here, as does a friendly, optimistic vibe. Vancouver Gay Pride 2020 will be held from July 19 to August 2.

Explore our Destination Today…..

Courtesy of Paul Heney


Viking Cruises to Take Expedition Cruising to the Great Lakes

Posted By : travelisswell/ 7 0

Viking this week took advantage of the official naming ceremony for Viking Jupiter to announce its next big adventure—into the waters of a whole new continent. In 2022, Viking’s new line of exploration vehicles will carry passengers not just to Antarctica, but also to the Great Lakes.

The first expedition vessel, Viking Octantis, will sail Great Lakes beginning January, 2022.  Its sister ship, Viking Polaris, will sail to Antarctica and the Arctic beginning in August, 2022.


The ships, designed to fit through the narrow locks on the St. Lawrence River, will carry 378 guests in 189 staterooms. With destinations that are cold and land-based itineraries, with most guests outside most of the day, the cabins will not have balconies; instead, the extra space will be brought indoors.

On the Great Lakes, the 13-day Canadian Discovery itinerary will include stops in Toronto, Quebec, Cap-aux-Meules, Halifax and New York; the Niagara itinerary will include Toronto, Detroit, Traverse City and Milwaukee.

Each ship will have a 330-square-foot laboratory in which scientists and guests can collaborate on marine research, including studying sea birds in the polar regions and the Great Lakes. The ships will sail the Antarctic from April to September, then one will head to the Great Lakes and the other to the Arctic, using marine gas rather than LNG.

Viking_Expedition_Ship_DeckThe first six expedition cruises, open only to returning Viking guests, already have sold out. Cruise prices will start at about $1,250 per night per passenger, including all expeditions on land and under the water.

Each ship also will have a number of unique features:

  • The Hangar: an enclosed marina for launching small excursion craft, with a flat, stable surface shielded from the wind and waves.
  • Complimentary expedition equipment, including military pro zodiacs, two-seater Arctic-tested kayaks and 12-seater convertible RIBs, two six-guest submarines with revolving seats and 270-degree spherical windows, boots, binoculars and waterproof pants.
  • The Aula, a panoramic auditorium at the stern with floor-to-ceiling windows and 270-degree views, and the Finse Terrace, an outdoor lounge area with couches and lava rock “firepits.”
  • The Nordic Balcony sun room that converts into an al fresco viewing platform.
  • Nordic Junior Suites (322 sq. ft.) and Explorer Suites (580 sq. ft) with abundant wood detailing and amenities that include additional storage and seating, an expanded bathroom with extended shower and double sinks, welcome champagne, a fully-stocked mini-bar replenished daily, complimentary laundry and shoeshine services, priority restaurant reservations and more. Explorer Suites feature two separate rooms, a Nordic Balcony and a full outdoor veranda. There’s also one Owner’s Suite, 1,223 sq. ft, with a living room, dining table and plus a 792 sq. ft. private garden with a hot tub and outdoor dining table.


Expedition fares include shore excursions, onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes; beer and wine with lunch and dinner; premium dining reservations; lectures; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to The Nordic Spa; and 24-hour room service, as well as charter flights for hard-to-reach locales and the use of Viking Expedition Gear specialty equipment for land and sea excursions. On polar itineraries, guests also receive their own Viking Expedition Kit, which includes everything needed to be comfortable – as well as a Viking Expeditions Jacket to keep.

The Inaugural Voyages are: Antarctic Explorer (13 days; Buenos Aires to Ushuaia); Antarctic & South America Discovery (19 days; Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro); Arctic Adventure (13 days; Roundtrip Tromsø); From the Arctic to the Antarctic (44 days; Tromsø to Ushuaia); Undiscovered Great Lakes (8 days; Thunder Bay, Ontario to Milwaukee); Great Lakes Explorer (8 days; Milwaukee to Thunder Bay, Ontario); Niagara & The Great Lakes (8 days; Toronto to Milwaukee); and Canadian Discovery (13 days; New York to Toronto). Learn more about Viking Cruises or call Travel is SWELL at 1-888-963-8986 for details.

Basic Economy Airfare

Basic Economy Lands at Apple Vacations

Posted By : travelisswell/ 6 0

Apple Vacations has a long-standing history of making all-inclusive vacations easy. And on January 27, 2020, they’re adding another way: Basic Economy flight options for even greater vacation value and customization!

What does this Mean for You:

  • More attractive packages. Lead-in pricing gets even harder to resist with a class of service that brings the value up and prices down.
  • More choice. Provide expanded choice flights at lower costs.
  • Elimination of Online Travel Agency advantage. No need to go to another Online Travel Agency to find cheaper flights for your package.
  • Convenient comparison. You can easily compare different classes of flights – from the lowest option to the highest option. which is typically Business Class or First Class.
  • No Need to Price-Shop. No need for you to price-shop or search on your own for the most affordable option–enjoy your own panoramic view of what’s out there.
  • Airline rewards. You will find general information about available airline rewards for each class of flights reviewed and selected.

Remember, when you purchase Travel Protection Plus through Apple Vacations, your Basic Economy fare is refundable! Learn more about Apple Vacations.

Apple Vacations is the nation’s largest provider of Non-stop Exclusive Vacation Flights. The Apple Vacations robust product line includes popular vacation destinations throughout Mexico, the Caribbean, the Hawaiian Islands, Central America and South America, as well as ski resorts throughout North and South America.


Barefoot Elegance: How Couples Stands Out in Jamaica

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Despite the emergence of an array of new brands and products among all-inclusive resort properties, Couples Resorts stands out among the pack as the only brand whose very name is synonymous with the clientele it accommodates: couples seeking romantic getaways where they can create memories that will linger far beyond the vacation’s end.

In all, the brand has four Jamaican properties: two in Negril (Couples Negril and Couples Swept Away) and two in Ocho Rios (Couples Tower Isles and Couples Sans Souci). Guests enjoy 24-hour gourmet dining and unlimited premium-brand spirits and complimentary Wi-Fi, plus special activities including a sunset catamaran cruise excursion, water skiing, Hobie Cat sailing, golf, tennis, non-motorized water sports and unlimited PADI-Certified Scuba diving.


Couples Q&A

What distinguishes Couples Resorts from the other all-inclusive properties and brands?

Couples Resorts defined the all-inclusive experience in 1978 and we are constantly refining it. From our founding, our intent has been to deliver a level of barefoot elegance, amazing cuisine and almost limitless inclusions designed to delight and surprise our guests day in and day out.

Our product is so unique and occupies a niche within Jamaica’s product offerings that is very appealing—to our first-time guests, our large percentage of repeat guests and to me. We are not the largest, nor do we want to be. We offer an experience, a way of life that is truly Jamaican. We are authentic to our core. All we have to do, as a sales and marketing team, is provide the exposure. As one of the prior Jamaica Advertising campaigns stated, ‘Once you go, you know.’ Find someone that has experienced Couples first-hand and you’ll see the delight in their eyes.

Whether you are the GM, the president of a large tour operator, a travel agent who works out of the home or the front desk agent who welcomes a guest to a property, our goal is to deliver an amazing experience that is above anything ever anticipated. Everything that we do must be focused on the guest experience, which in turn produces a product that is second-to-none.

In your view, what are Couples Resorts key points—in terms of what guests will enjoy most?

Family—which may seem like an odd reply. We pride ourselves by saying, ‘We never have guests, we have family.’ Our property teams and countless guest volunteers work year-around to give back to the country of Jamaica through medical missions and adopting schools. Lee Issa, our chairman, with the soul of Jamaica pumping through his veins, is on property every day for hours, mixing and talking to countless guests. Our staff has developed countless bonds through the years with thousands of guests, each time welcoming them back by name.

Lee Issa, our chairman—with the soul of Jamaica pumping through his veins—is on property every day for hours, mixing and talking to countless guests. Our staff has developed countless bonds through the years with thousands of guests, each time welcoming them back by name. Our property teams and countless guest volunteers work year-around to give back to the country of Jamaica through medical missions and adopting schools.


How would you describe the typical Couples guest in terms of demographics and vacation styles?

First and foremost, our guests are anything but typical and range across all demographics. We have many guests from many walks of life, and they all come together for ‘One Love’ of Jamaica, and its people and a resort experience that is unique and unmatched … to celebrate a marriage or renew vows—the list goes on and on.

What’s Typically Included in Couples All-inclusive Packages?

  • Deluxe Accommodation
  • 24-hour Gourmet Dining
  • Unlimited Premium Brand Spirits
  • Customized In-Room Mini Bar
  • Nightly Entertainment
  • Golf & Tennis
  • Unlimited Scuba Diving
  • Unlimited WaterSports
  • Catamaran Cruise
  • Area Excursions
  • Trip to Dunns River Falls
  • Trip to Popular Sunset Bar

Does Couples Resorts Offer Discount to Veterans?

Absolutely! Couples offers exclusive savings on our four all-inclusive luxury resorts with 3-day minimum stays. Discount available 365 days a year, with no blackout dates. The Veterans Advantage discount is only available when members book directly through the Veterans Advantage private reservation site which is Veterans

Is there Topless sunbathing?

Topless sunbathing is allowed in designated beach areas:

Couples Tower Isle: End of the pier off the main beach.
Couples Negril: Main beach.
Couples Swept Away: Main beach.
Couples Sans Souci: Main beach.

Is there an “Au Naturel” beach?

Couples Tower Isle, Couples Sans Souci and Couples Negril resorts have waterfront areas designated for “au naturel” sunbathing. It is intended that these designated areas are for couples only, ie. not to be used by individual guests whose partner is unwilling or unable to participate.

Couples Tower Isle’s private “au naturel” island, featuring a pool with swim-up bar, is open for nude sunbathing from 9am to 5pm daily, weather permitting. The Island will close at 4pm on days when an “Island Wedding” has been confirmed. Transport by small boat to the “au naturel” island is provided.

Couples Sans Souci has a small bay, called Sunset Beach, dedicated to “au naturel” sunbathing. There is a pool, Jacuzzi, bar and grill. Sunset Beach is opened for nude sunbathing from 9am – 5pm September to March and 9am – 5:30pm April to August. Sunset Beach opens to all non “au naturel” guests at 6pm. Sunset Beach will be closed at 3pm on days when a “Sunset Wedding” is scheduled.

Couples Negril, has a small semi-private beach area designated for “au naturel” sunbathing is located just off the main beach.

Can we visit other Couples Resorts during our stay?

Romance Rewards members can visit nearby Couples Resorts (Couples Swept Away / Couples Negril) and (Couples Sans Souci / Couples Tower Isle) using the “Trading Places” pass. Visiting days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10am-4pm and include food, drink and property activities. “Trading Places” are subject to availability, one time per stay. Visit Romance Rewards for more details and to register for our rewards loyalty program.

Learn More About Couples Resorts:

Begin the journey – or write the next chapter to your love story – at Couples, Jamaica’s favorite all-inclusive luxury resorts. From Ocho Rios to Negril, our four oceanfront hotels were built on one idea: true love is the trip of a lifetime.  Learn More…..

One and Only-Resort-Mexico

New One & Only Resort Coming to Riviera Nayarit Mexico

Posted By : travelisswell/ 11 0

One & Only Resorts is opening the long-awaited One & Only Mandarina in this pristine destination. The resort will welcome guests this summer beginning June 1, 2020, and the resort is now taking reservations.

This property invites guests to reconnect with themselves, their loved ones and the world surrounding them, which is easy to do during a vacation in paradise like this one.

Guests staying at this property are not only treated to a lovely beach but also one of Riviera Nayarit’s last tropical beachfront jungles and a blend of clifftop villas, chic tree house seclusion and a vibrant atmosphere.

The One & Only Mandarina will offer 145 villas, delicious dining with a view, access to a spa and several nearby activities. Stylish tree houses and clifftop villas with dramatic views, a stone’s throw from palm-fringed sands, swimmable shores and an energetic environment crafted for re-connection and chic, laid-back living.

Close to Punta Mita, One&Only Mandarina nestles within an intimate new community set upon a rare undeveloped coastline along the Riviera Nayarit. Careful consideration has been executed throughout the development through low-density planning and intelligent, sustainable design and architecture. As one of Mexico’s last remaining tropical, beachfront jungles this fascinating destination boasts a swimmable white-sand beach, twin mountain peaks, lush flatlands and estuary.


Japan Airlines Is Giving Free Roundtrip Tickets

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For travelers who find themselves in Japan this summer—say, for the Tokyo Olympics that run from July 24th through August 9th—Japan Airlines just announced that it is giving away 50,000 free round-trip tickets from the cities of Tokyo and Osaka to four mystery destinations. The catch: You don’t get to pick where you’re going.

The contest is being held on conjunction with Your Japan 2020, a project that aims to promote affordable travel throughout Japan during the Games. After all, some 600,000 people are expected to visit Tokyo alone this summer. This campaign is hoping to showcase lesser-visited parts of the country.

The trips will be good for travel between July 1st and September 30th, meaning lucky winners will be able to do some traveling before the Olympics kick off or tack time onto a trip after watching some of the events. Or: You could skip the Olympics altogether and—as long as you get yourself to Tokyo or Osaka—take advantage of free airfare to a part of the country you may have otherwise skipped.

The campaign is set to launch in late February (the exact date is TBD), at which time interested travelers can apply via the airline’s website.

While we’re sure you’d like to know where exactly these free tickets could take you if you win, when asked to confirm the four destinations, a Japan Airlines media representative told AFAR that “the destination cities will be available upon application.” Here’s hoping they include cities such as underrated Fukuoka, home to sacred shrines and awe-inspiring architecture, or the Alps in Nagano.

When you apply, either by yourself or as a group of up to four people, you’ll be shown a list of four possible destinations within Japan that you could potentially jet off to (again: you don’t get to choose the destination). You’ll be able to select potential departure and arrival time slots that work for your trip. Then, within three days of applying, you’ll be notified if you were chosen as well where you’ll be traveling.

In order to apply, you have to reside outside of Japan, have a passport issued by a country other than Japan, and be a member of Japan Airlines’ loyalty program Mileage Bank (you can sign up for that here).

Courtesy of Cassie Shortsleeve of AFAR


Why Travelers Should Consider Sir Bani Yas Island in the UAE

Posted By : travelisswell/ 7 0


The United Arab Emirates likely isn’t on a traveler’s shortlist of countries to escape to for a luminous seaside getaway, much less one brimming with culture and history. But then again, they may not have discovered Sir Bani Yas Island, the UAE’s slice of paradise, located just 100 miles off the coast of Abu Dhabi on one of the most riveting ports in the Arabian Gulf.

I had the opportunity to visit this largely undeveloped island on an excursion with Seabourn Cruises, arriving to onshore melodies and a glass of sangria delivered by white-gloved waiters. However, Sir Bani Yas Island goes beyond pampering guests with froufrou drinks. While merely enjoying a beach can have its appeal, the dynamic history, ecology and trendy accommodations are really what make Sir Bani Yas Island a necessary inclusion on any Arabian adventure.

A Nature Lover’s Paradise
Ecology enthusiasts may be impressed to learn that the sand they lounge on was formed about 600 million years ago, when salt deposits were gradually layered with sandstone and limestone. On a guided tour, visitors learn about the first president of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and his infatuation with the island. In the early 1970s, he transformed the desolate area and its barren shoreline into a sanctuary for endangered animals from Arabia, Africa and beyond.

Since then, laws have been created that prohibit hunting wildlife. Today, this sanctuary is home to more than 10,000 animals, and guests can get up close and personal with Arabian Oryx, gazelle, and giraffes through an excursion on a four-wheel-drive Land Cruiser.

Intriguing Culture and History
Relaxing on a beach is one thing, but history buffs may conceive a whole new level of interest in the island after learning of its significance to the Middle East and the world. Archaeologists believe that human settlers arrived several thousand years ago through 42 archaeological sites discovered around the island, each providing insight into the area’s past.

This history is highly attainable for guests on a one-hour island tour, booked through a cruise or hotel, which includes visits to some of the island’s most poignant sites. For instance, a guided stop at the ruined Nestorian Christian monastery, which dates back to the 7th century AD, showcases how a community of about 30 monks lived, including an ancient dormitory where they likely cooked fish from the sea.

Luxurious and Diverse Stays
For such a remote island, Sir Bani Yas does not disappoint in its diversity of accommodation options, exhibited in the Anantara brand’s three properties. Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara was initially founded by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahya. In 2008, it was refurbished into a 64-room property and opened as the island’s first hotel, brimming with energy and life. Five years later, Anantara opened its second property, Anantara Al Sahel Villa Resort, a haven where nature reigns; its 30 villas are sprinkled throughout rich grassland.


Anantara’s beachside Al Yamm Resort is also unique in that it transports guests to a tropical paradise that could easily be confused with the Seychelles. No day is without adventure here; sea-kayaking expeditions and shipwreck dives are just part of the daily activities offered to guests. Each of the properties provide insight into the authentic yet distinct facets of Sir Bani Yas Island.


Travelers Are Wasting as Much as One Full Day of Their Vacations

Posted By : travelisswell/ 6 0

A new study found that travelers are wasting as much as a full day of their vacations. According to the South West News Service, the study commissioned by Sykes Holiday Cottages found that around 25 percent of respondents waste too much of their vacation time trying to figure out what to do next.

The report found that out of a seven-day vacation, the average traveler wasted an estimated 17.5 hours thinking about accommodations, researching places to visit, the stresses of work and more.

Another 25 percent of respondents said they spend more vacation time letting other people in their party choose the activities than doing what they want. A similar percentage of travelers also said trying to plan a trip has led to arguments.

Many of the arguments about vacation stem from a lack of time to plan the details, something survey respondents blamed on working long hours, household chores and taking care of their children.

As for one of the biggest complaints from travelers about wasting time on vacations, many thrill-seekers revealed they sometimes spend hours each day waiting in long lines at amusement parks.

At least the people participating in the study took their vacation days, as a report from last year found that a record 768 million vacation days went unused across the United States in 2018.

The 768 million figure signals a nine-percent rise from 2017 and amounts to an economic opportunity loss of $151.5 billion and as many as two million American jobs.

Courtesy of Donald Wood