How and when will Americans travel again?

Even as states and other countries start to reopen and airfare deals abound, travel lags as we look at the post-coronavirus world.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how nearly all Americans live, work and play. Many people are still under shelter-in-place orders (through May 31 in some parts of California) and travel restrictions. And with a record 20.5 million Americans losing their job in April, there’s a question of how much spare money people will have to travel.

A recent survey by MMGY Travel Intelligence for the U.S. Travel Association found that travelers aren’t quite ready to return in droves and they’re more likely to drive and stay closer to home in the next six months. Post-pandemic, 57% said they’re more likely to book travel to U.S. destinations and 43% expect to stay close to home.

Travel-related unemployment in the United States has hit 51%, according to new data from the USTA and Tourism Economics. The USTA expects travel spending this year to decline $519 billion due to the pandemic.

Overall, data from Oxford Economics shows that U.S. travel industry losses will create an economic impact of $1.2 trillion this year.

What will it take for Americans to travel again?

Concerns about personally contracting Covid-19 remain high across all age groups in the MMGY/USTA survey in early May. Travelers said they’re waiting for the spread of Covid-19 to decline and the CDC to lower its advisory level for travel.

Similarly, a survey by research firm Engagious found that a third of consumers were waiting for a vaccine or treatment, but a third said they would resume their regular activities, including eating out, shopping at a store and traveling, if possible. With safety assurances, it found that 57% would go on an overnight trip within three months.

Road trips will be king in the post-pandemic world. Part of Visit California’s website is dedicated to road trips throughout the state. You’ll see more of that nationwide.

The MMGY/USTA found that 45% of people are more likely to travel by car, with 32% willing to drive at least 300 miles one way to vacation in the next six months. Of that group, 19% are willing to drive 500 miles or more.  People feel safest when traveling by personal vehicle (68%).

The Engagious survey found that travelers appear to be open to participating in medical screenings to participate in activities. More than half said so for staying in a hotel or visiting a casino, and 42% said it would affect their willingness to visit public venues.

Taking precautions

Airlines, hotels and other lodgings are taking extra precautions, such as increasing their cleaning regimens. Many airlines and airports require travelers to were face masks. Some airlines, mostly international carriers, are taking passengers’ temperatures.

Among U.S. airlines, only low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines plans to start temperature screenings of passengers on June 1, and will deny boarding to anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher. Airlines have been pushing U.S. officials to check passengers’ temperature at about a dozen airports to help reduce travelers’ anxieties, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

Cruises and international travel will take longer to recover. Despite some countries relaxing their travel restrictions, others have extended limitations. The U.S. and Canada just agreed to keep their border closed until June 21 and the European Commission has allowed member countries to extend restrictions on non-essential travel until June 15.

Americans are under no-sail orders issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the U.S. State Department still is advising citizens to avoid all international travel due Covid-19.

Just in the past week, I’ve noticed an increase in travel deals streaming into my inbox and social media streams. Experts say travelers will see low fares this year and maybe into 2021, but they won’t last forever and place will fill up fast.

Some 90% had travel or events planned or confirmed before Covid-19, according to the MMGY/USTA survey. That means lots of people have airline and lodging credits to put to use typically within a certain time frame.

5 activities to keep you and your family busy and entertained

Many people aren’t traveling far beyond the grocery store as they’ve sheltered in place for several weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some parts of the country have started to re-open, but restrictions remain in others and uncertainty abounds as to when laid-off workers will be rehired and if stay-at-home orders will be extended.

If you’re going a bit stir crazy at home, try these activities (if you haven’t already):

1. Attend a virtual performance. Research has found that music helps reduce stress, help you concentrate better and improve your outlook. Although many performances and music concerts have been canceled, there are plenty to hear and see online. Most are free. NPR Music has compiled a list of  live audio and video streams with links. New York’s Metropolitan Opera is offering free shows of past performances (its Live in HD series) daily at 7:30 p.m. on its website and through its on-demand apps for Apple, Amazon, Roku and Samsung Smart TV.  The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is providing free access to video streaming of past performances. The Seattle Symphony is sharing music through YouTube and Facebook.

yoga

To do yoga, you can replace a mat with a large towel or just use the floor. (Pixabay)

2. Stay fit. Exercise is important to keep your body and mind healthy. You already may be exercising, but perhaps you’re growing bored with the same routine. Earlier this month, I wrote an article for Next Avenue about exercising at home without special equipment. A plethora of free classes online make it easy to try something new. Anyone can follow Orangetheory’s workout videos using household items or Planet Fitness’ live-streamed daily workouts at 4 p.m. PT on its Facebook page. Yoga beginners can follow this video: “20-Minute Hatha Yoga for Beginners by ChriskaYoga.”

3. Learn something new. The options are endless. Take language lessons via the Duolingo app or website. You’ll find many free cooking lessons on YouTube and social media channels. YouTube offers many cooking tutorials, such as six episodes of the Cuisinart Culinary School. Google Arts & Culture offers virtual tours and online exhibits of more than 1,500 museums and galleries globally, including the British Museum in London; National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; and Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

YouTube cooking tutorial
The Cuisinart Culinary School is just one of the many cooking tutorials you can find on YouTube on social media sites. (Sheryl Jean)

4. Read a book. Now that you’ve binge-watched all of the television shows and movies on your wish list, settle on the couch with a glass of wine and a good book. Tackle thick classics like Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy that you’ve never had time to read. Raid your own bookshelves first (it doubles as a bit of spring cleaning). While most bookstores are closed, they’re still selling books online. And you can download borrowed books to an e-reader from closed libraries.

5. Socialize virtually. If you’ve developed Zoom fatigue, try Facebook’s new video feature, Messenger Rooms, or throw a Netflix watch party.

Note: The featured image at top of a concert is by Anthony Delanoix on Unsplash.

5 ways to organize your travel photos amid COVID-19

Few of us are traveling far amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

If you stuck at home with travel-withdrawal symptoms, consider diving into photographs of your past trips. Perhaps you have some extra time to organize those photos or embark on a fun photo-related project. Revisiting destinations may stir up fond memories — and it may spur ideas for your next trip once travel is encouraged again. 

Here are five activities to tackle whether your photos are on your smartphone, computer, in the cloud or prints from film:

1. Cull photos collected from various excursions over the years.

I’m talking about the 2,000 photos from your trip to Australia that you dumped into your computer and haven’t looked at in two years. First, get rid of the mistake shots of the ground and out-of-focus images. Then ask yourself, “Do I really need 10 images of the same rock formation?” Do the same with older print photos from film.

2. Organize your photos.

Once you’ve narrowed down the number of digital or print images, organize them, label them and edit them. Doing this makes your images ready to share at any time and you don’t have ask yourself when and where you were in a particular shot. You may want to break up these tasks since they take time.

For digital photos, create separate files by year, location or whatever category you choose. Do something similar for print photos, but file them in envelopes, boxes or photo albums (see below).

3. Make digital photo books or put print images into photo albums.

Many website let you make digital photo books of varying styles, quality and prices. A subscription to Groovebook lets you upload 40-100 new cell phone photos monthly to its app and it will create a 4×6 photo book for you ($3.99 a month). Chatbooks lets you sync to your Instagram posts (no photo decisions necessary) to create photo books starting at $10 or you can subscribe (starting at $5 for a 5×5 book monthly made from 30 new photos from your camera roll).

4. Make scrapbooks of photos and other travel mementos.

Whether you print photos or use digital images to create e-scrapbooks, first make sure your photos are edited and organized. You can combine printed photos with mementos, such as maps and ticket stubs into physical scrapbooks.

For e-scrapbooks, use your smartphone or digital camera to photograph mementos and combine them with digital photos. You can use software like Adobe Photoshop (starts at $9.99 a month). Check out this free online class, Digital Scrapbooking for Beginners, from online resource Scrapneers.

digitalizing print photos
Here’s some of the gear needed to digitalize printed photographs. (Image by Mara Morrison from Pixabay)

5. Digitalize print photos.

Consider pulling out those shoeboxes of old family photos and digitalizing them. It’s a laborious task, but it’s worth it. Not only will digitalizing print images preserve them forever, it will make them easier to share with others.

You can scan photos yourself or pay a company to do it. The main differences are time, money and, some say, quality.

You can scan photos yourself using your smartphone’s camera and Google’s Photoscan app (for iOS and Android), which takes a series of images and combines them to eliminate glare. This method can be tedious if you have many photos.

Another DIY option is to use a flatbed scanner or a multifunction printer with a scanner. Some scanners have a photo-scanning mode or you can buy one specifically for photos for less than $100. PCMag likes the Epson Perfection V39 and Canon CanoScan LiDE 400. Save time by scanning multiple images at once; you can crop them and save them as separate digital files later.

The cost of most scanning services ranges from around 20 cents to 40 cents per image/negative. The cheapest option is ScanMyPhotos (prices start at 1 cent per image). Memories Renewed will even take photo albums (90 cents per image) and memorabilia ($1.50 each).


Another COVID-19 related post: Need to change air travel plans due to COVID-19? What you need to know plus links to major airlines


Note: The featured image at top of film negatives is by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

Need to change air travel plans due to COVID-19? What you need to know plus links to major airlines

The global Coronavirus pandemic has affected the way we live, including air travel.

As a result of the fast-spreading virus, also known as COVID-19, changing company travel policies and cancelled events and conferences, many airlines have waived their ticket change and cancelation fees for customers. Such policies differ from airline to airline, so make sure you check. (If an airline cancels your flight, you are eligible for a cash refund.)

Here are direct links to the COVID-19 policies for major U.S. airlines:

  • Southwest Airlines (Southwest’s usual policy is to never charge a fee to change or cancel a flight within at least 10 minutes before the scheduled departure time.)

Here are direct links to the COVID-19 policies of several international airlines:

  • EasyJet (It’s free to change or cancel a flight online, but customers will be charged 5 pounds, or slightly over $6, to do so by phone.)
  • Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Swiss, Brussels Airlines, Air Dolomiti)

In addition, travel companies, including AirBnB, Hotels.com, Orbitz and TripAdvisor, also have instituted flexible policies with no change or cancellation fees.

If you have questions about upcoming domestic or international flights, visit your airline’s website or the site through which you bought your ticket. Airlines and travel companies have posted information and instructions on their websites.

You can call your airline, but you may have to wait hours to speak to someone. In fact, today some airlines, such as British Airways, Delta and Lufthansa Group, are asking travelers no scheduled to travel within the next 72 hours to wait and contact them closer to their travel date so the airline can focus on “customers with immediate travel needs” and those affected by travel restrictions from Europe to the United States.

For the latest health information about COVID-19, got to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Coming soon: A deck park near you

Parks are a welcome green oasis for anyone anywhere, but they’re possibly most appreciated in concrete jungles where space and nature are at a premium.

New parks are popping up across the country on top of highways. They’re called deck parks, highway cap parks or land bridges — and they’re a huge hit.

You’ll find deck parks in Boston, Dallas, New York City and San Francisco. Parks are underway in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Denver. Other cities, such as Atlanta and the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, are considering it. (See below.)

Parks built over highways aren’t brand new. Seattle has had one over Interstate 5 since 1976 and Phoenix over I-100 since 1990. But such parks have become increasingly popular as a way to find space in teeming cities, add greenery to downtowns, encourage more outdoor activity, rejuvenate blighted areas and rejoin urban neighborhoods split by road construction decades earlier.

I’m all for more parks. Having grown up near a city park, I spent a lot of time there — as a child and as a teenager. I recently visited the new deck park in San Francisco. I’ve also been to the deck parks in Boston, Chicago and Dallas.

Parks can make a difference. Trees and plants take carbon dioxide and turn it into oxygen. Studies shows that plants can help humans fight depression. A recent U.S. Department of Transportation case study found that most visitors (91 percent) to Dallas’ new deck park said it “significantly improved” their quality of life. That park also spurred economic, environmental and other benefits, including new tax revenue, a big jump in adjacent commercial rents and increased streetcar ridership in Dallas.

Here’s your guide to finding a deck park — or plans for one — near you:

5 new(ish) deck parks

San Francisco: Salesforce Park in the South of Market area is one of the latest deck parks. It opened in August 2018 as part of larger project, including a new transit center and office tower for software company Salesforce. Not long after, the 5.4-acre rooftop park closed when two cracked steel beams were found. It re-opened last summer. The narrow park includes a walking loop, a small amphitheater, a playground and a fountain. The $2.2 billion park is public, but Salesforce bought sponsorship, giving it naming rights for 25 years. It’s open through April 30 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

San Francisco
Salesforce Park in San Francisco opened in 2018. (Photo by Sheryl Jean)

Dallas: I was living here in 2012, when the city opened the 5-acre, $110 million Klyde Warren Park above a freeway that separates two neighborhoods: the downtown Dallas Arts District and Uptown. People flock to the park, which offers many activities (ping-pong to yoga), a water feature, a restaurant, a dog park and free wi-fi. The foundation that runs the park plans to add 1.2 acres for a pavilion and more parking. It’s open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (See the featured photo I took of the park at top and below.)

Dallas plans to build another deck park near the Dallas Zoo as part of a project to widen I-35E. The 5-plus-acre Southern Gateway Deck Park will reconnect and revitalize parts of the Oak Cliff neighborhood south of downtown. Park construction could begin by 2022.

Dallas park
Klyde Warren Park in Dallas offers plenty for kids and adults to do. (Photo by Sheryl Jean)

New York City: The High Line park built on a 1.45-mile, elevated rail line on the West Side opened in 2009. The High Line app lets visitors digitally explore the park’s features, such as overlooks, art, performances, food venues and programs like summer dancing. The narrow, serpentine park, which runs from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street, is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through March 31 (it closes later in spring, summer and fall).

New York City

The High Line deck park in New York City meanders through different neighborhoods. (Photo by Alex Simpson on Unsplash)

Boston: The Rose Kennedy Greenway opened in 2008 at a cost $40 million. The 1.5-mile park sits above the city’s Central Artery, which was moved underground during what’s called the “Big Dig.” The long and narrow park offers food trucks, planted paths, events (such as movies, music and fitness classes), a carousel, fountains, art and free wi-fi. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Chicago: While Millennium Park isn’t elevated and doesn’t cover a highway, it is on a deck built over railroad tracks. Since opening in 2004, the park has become a huge tourist attraction and a focal point of the city. Some highlights include: a 2.5-acre garden; Cloud Gate, a sculpture that resembles a giant shiny, stainless-steel bean; a 925-foot-long footbridge; two performance venues; Crown Fountain, which consists of a reflecting pool bookended by two 50-foot glass towers on which video images of residents are projected.

Chicago
Residents and visitors alike love the Cloud Gate sculpture, aka “The Bean,” in Chicago’s Millennium Park. (Photo by Sheryl Jean)

5 possible parks on the horizon

Pittsburgh: The city began working on the I-579 Cap Park in June 2019 to cover part of I-579 and reconnect downtown with its historically black neighborhood called the Hill District. The 3-acre park will include a garden, a watercourse, art and an amphitheater.  Construction is expected to be completed in late 2021.

Denver: The city’s $1.3 billion highway project will tear down an elevated portion of I-70 through a low-income neighborhood in the northeast, bury the new road and build a 5-acre deck park on top. The Central 70 project may be completed around 2022.

Philadelphia: The city is going big, with plans for a 12-acre, $220-million park over I-95. The Park at Penn’s Landing withe views of the Delaware River. The park, which is scheduled to open in 2024, will include performance space, food and drink venues, a play area, a water feature and an ice-skating rink (in winter).

Atlanta: Three groups propose deck parks over parts of busy downtown highways. The Central Atlanta Progress business coalition and Chik-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy tout separate plans for a park covering the I-75 and I-85 Downtown Connector. The Buckhead Community Improvement District proposes a park over Georgia State Route 400.

St. Paul, Minn.: A nonprofit called ReConnect Rondo advocates building a “land bridge” over part of I-94. It would reconnect the city’s Rondo neighborhood, which was divided by the highway’s construction, and provide land for a park and other development.

10 free things to do or see on Maui: No. 10 parking

Maui Hawaii

Note: Links to other posts at end.

You may not be able to find a free lunch on Maui, but you can find free parking if you know what to look for and where to look.

Certain areas of Maui try to provide a small amount of free parking to access public beaches. These spots are sometimes hard to find and may be marked with a small sign.

In and near Wailea, there’s parking at Keawakapu Wailea-Elahi Public Beach and Wailea Beach.

Near Kihei, there’s public beach access parking at Kamaole Beach Park I, Kamaole Beach Park III.

Lahaina has a public parking lot near the Lahaina Harbor on Front Street between Mokuhina Place and Prison Street.

In the Ka’anapali area, you’ll find public beach access parking (sometimes only a handful of spots) near most of the big resort hotels, such as the Sheraton Maui Resort and the Hyatt Ka’anapali, and Whalers Village. At the very north end of Ka’anapali when it becomes Honokowai, a large free parking lot just north of Honua Kai Resort & Spa off of the Lower Honoapiilani Road provides access to the beach and boardwalk.

Near Napili Bay area, there’s free parking with access to the Kapalua Coastal Trail and beach in a small lot and along the road just north of Napili Kai Beach Resort.

Note: The featured photo is by Nick Brugioni via Unsplash.

Links to the other nine posts about Maui freebies:

  1. Shows
  2. Beaches
  3. Lessons
  4. Farmers markets
  5. Trails and nature
  6. Wildlife
  7. Art and festivals
  8. Scenic drives
  9. Transportation

10 free things to do or see on Maui: No. 9 transportation

Maui

Note: Links to other posts at end.

You may be able to skip renting a car on Maui if you don’t plan to venture far afield, especially if you stay on the west side of the island.

The Ka’anapali Trolley runs every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily between Whalers Village shopping center, Ka’anapali resort hotels and condominiums, The Fairway Shops and Ka’anapali Golf Courses. Schedules are available at hotels and on the trolley. For more information, call 808-667-0648.

While not free, Maui Bus service costs only $2 and runs seven days a week, including holidays. Its 13 routes include stops at Whalers Village in Ka’anapali, Wharf Cinema in Lahaina, Napili and — perhaps most importantly — the Kahului Airport.

You may want to choose lodgings within these free transportation areas or those offering their own shuttle service.

Note: I took the featured photo.

Links to the first eight free things to do or see on Maui:

1. Shows

2. Beaches

3. Lessons

4. Farmers markets

5. Trails and nature

6. Wildlife

7. Art and festivals

8. Scenic drives

10. Parking

 

10 free things to do or see on Maui: No. 8 scenic drives

Maui

Note: Links to other posts at end.

Maui has plenty of wonderful scenic drives that offer free waterfalls, beaches, tidal pools, wildlife and trailheads. The stunning views are worth it even if you don’t get out of the car. Be prepared for some stomach-churning turns.

Perhaps Maui’s best scenic drives is the serpentine Road to Hana on the eastern coast (in the featured photo at top by abbs johnson via Unsplash). I recently wrote about the Road to Hana in another blog post.

On the opposite side of the island, the rough and wild northwest coast offers another fantastic drive, one framed in volcanic rock. The Hanoapiilani Highway, or Highway 30, takes you by beautiful beaches, such as DT Fleming Beach Park (great for body surfing and boogie boarding) and Honoloa Bay (a top snorkeling spot), and the Honoloa Bay Access Trail.

Along Kahekili Highway, or Highway 340, you’ll find more trails, the Nakalele Blowhole and the Olivine tidal pools. Last week, I wrote about the Nakalele Blowhole.

Maui Hawaii
I traced two of the drives — the Kahekili Highway to on the left and the Road to Hana on the right (the lighter blue part is optional) — on this Google Map.

Links to the other nine free things to do or see on Maui:

1. Shows

2. Beaches

3. Lessons

4. Farmers markets

5. Trails and nature

6. Wildlife

7. Art and festivals

9. Transportation

10. Parking

10 free things to do or see on Maui: No. 7 art and festivals

Maui Hawaii

Note: Links to other posts at end.

You’ll find art galleries across Maui, but there also are several free artsy events.

Maui town parties: Several Maui towns host “town parties” or street festival once a month on Fridays with free activities, such as live music, art shows and face painting. They usually take place at night, but sometimes have daytime activities, too. Wailuku offers activities on the first Friday of each month, Lahaina on the second Friday, Kihei on the fourth Friday and Lana’i on the fifth Friday.

Friday Art Night in Lahaina: Tour Lahaina’s dozen art galleries, meet artists, sip wine and nibble on pupus (snacks) from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Friday night. Grab a free Art Map at the Lahaina Visitor Center before 5 p.m.

Lahaina Arts Society’s Art Festivals: Check out local artists at this popular art fair held every weekend from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lahaina Cannery Mall (in front of Starbucks). The art show previously was called Art in the Park and held at Lahaina’s Banyan Tree Park.

Note: The featured image is “The Pianist” by Lahaina artist Don Dahlke. Credit is to gottShar and licensed under CC BY 2.0 

Links to the other nine free things to do or see on Maui:

1. Shows

2. Beaches

3. Lessons

4. Farmers markets

5. Trails and nature

6. Wildlife

8. Scenic drives

9. Transportation

10. Parking

 

10 free things to do or see on Maui: No. 6 wildlife

Maui Hawaii

Note: Links to other posts at end.

Consider Maui your outdoor zoo. As you might expect for an island, Maui is rich in sea life like dolphins, sea turtles and whales. You’ll also find other wildlife, such as birds, mongoose, wild boar and a wild Hawaiian goose called a nēnē.

The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa in Lahaina is the only hotel in Hawaii with an on-site penguin colony. Hotel guests and visitors can watch several penguins swim and waddle at a free feeding at 9:30 a.m. each day in the atrium lobby.

Maui Hawaii

Maui is teeming with wildlife, such as this owl I spotted near Haleakala National Park. (Sheryl Jean)

Note: I snapped the featured photo of a Maui road sign warning of a nēnē crossing.

  1. Links to nine other free things to do or see on Maui:

    1. Shows

    2. Beaches

    3. Lessons

    4. Farmers markets

    5. Trails and nature

    7. Art and festivals

    8. Scenic drives

    9. Transportation

    10. Parking