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Wondering how to maintain hygiene while traveling? Here are some tips to follow

It’s exceptionally important to practice good hygiene habits while traveling amidst a global pandemic. Just small hygiene habits can make a huge difference in keeping us fresh and keeping vacation illness at bay.

Traveling is by far the most satiating activity ever that calms your mind and soul; however, there could be certain challenges too. From the sticky handrails of the conveyor belt to the departure gate and the recycled air of the pressurized cabin, traveling can present personal obstacles for the hygiene conscious. Common touch points, shared plane bathrooms and food prepared by others only contribute to the anxiety of travelers. You may even be thinking about postponing your holiday due to travel hygiene concerns. Don’t worry, we’ll break down the possible travel hygiene tips to stay squeaky clean.

Tips to follow:

1. Eat healthy

Every time you go to grab a quick bite or a meal, think about what you should eat. Avoid eating undercooked meals or something that isn’t served piping hot. If you’re going with a group of friends, also take care that you all aren’t digging into the same bowl of food. When you share food, there are lots of germs and bacteria getting transferred across.

2. Carry a hygiene bag

Your hygiene bag is something that should be packed with everything that will help you remain squeaky clean on a vacation. You want to give this bag equal importance as the outfits you’re going to pack for the trip. Ideally, your go-to hygiene bag should have the following items in it:

  • Handwash
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Moisturizer
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • Hand towel
  • Mints
  • Tissue Rolls
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • Essential medications
  • Band-aid, Bug-repellent
  • Disposable gloves

3. Wash your hands

It may seem obvious, but it needs reiterating as regular hand washing is critical to maintaining good hygiene. We use our hands for almost everything. Their heavy use means that they pick up a lot of bacteria and become a place for colonies to easily form. Your hands have the potential to transfer bacteria to not only yourself but also to others. Washing your hands regularly before and after touching common touch points will help to keep you and others safe from harmful bacteria and viruses.

4. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze 

For those of you who have been doing this even before it became a thing, we’re proud of you! This is the most basic way to prevent others around you from getting sick.

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Tips for Traveling With Children Right Now

Traveling with kids for the first time, or anytime, can be daunting. The meltdowns, the sleepless nights. Will it be worth it? Where do you begin?

Start With Your Destination

When choosing a location, Rainer Jenss, founder of the Family Travel Association, has two main pieces of advice.

First, involve your children. If you get them involved with planning, they are going to be more engaged and excited from the start. “If you make the choices for them, they are going to be less engaged,” Jenss said.

Next, ask what you want to do, not where you want to go, opening up the many destinations around the world where you can do that particular thing. “When you become a parent, the travel opportunities don’t have to shrink,” Jenss said. “They can broaden.”

What’s The Risk?

Of course, traveling with kids adds a dimension of responsibility for parents, and everyone’s risk tolerance should be taken into account.

Any time you’re traveling, especially with family, you must fully understand the potential risks and hazards of the location where you are going—both the medical and security risks.

Research whether there is a hospital at your destination, and if you would feel comfortable taking your family there. Explore the security risks at the locale, including petty crimes—like pick-pocketing—or something more serious like political unrest.

Parents and kids can accidentally be separated from each other. Get smart about getting lost and share the five tips to help prevent and respond to a lost child, including establishing a rallying point, tasking an adult to keep an eye on the kids, putting your information on your children, knowing what your children are wearing and staying calm if you do get separated.

Now that your destination is decided…

How Will You Travel There?

If you are within driving distance, ask yourself if driving is still something you want to do with children. It might save money, but a long drive could mean showing up to your vacation tired and irritable. Another travel mode might be worth the extra money.

If you’re flying, especially for long distances, consider a layover for working out energy in young children around the airport, rather than up and down the aisle of the plane.

Finally, purchase a trusted traveler program like TSAPreCheck, Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS, or FAST. These programs are designed to facilitate passage through security checks of pre-approved travelers. You won’t have to wait as long, and you won’t have to take off your kids’ shoes either.

Are Your Kids Old Enough To Travel?

Maureen Wheeler, the co-founder of the Lonely Planet guidebook company, said if you’re planning once-in-a-lifetime trips, “then maybe you don’t start traveling with your children until the age of 7 to 10.”

Jenss said the sweet spot is 6 to 12. “This is when they are still really curious. They may not remember everything, but it will stoke that childhood wonder that they have in spades at that age.”

Arthur Frommer, the travel guidebook author, said international travel is wasted on small children because they don’t remember much. But his daughter, Pauline Frommer, who traveled with her parents as an infant and is now the editorial director of Frommer’s Guidebooks, disagrees. “I have many strong memories from my travels. So, I know that kids remember more than we think they do.”

Knowing What To Pack

Deciding what to pack requires more than weather-appropriate clothing. Documentation is critical.

Make certain that passports are up-to-date and current for both departure and return, and make copies to keep in your luggage and have a picture of them on your phone in case something happens to your passport.

Be sure vaccinations are current for all your destinations. Some countries require vaccines for entry. Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health website to see what is required.

If you are traveling alone with minor children, or with children who are not your own, Family Travel Forum advises carrying several specific credentials including a minor consent to travel form, signed by the child’s other parent; a medical treatment authorization letter that will allow the adult to be responsible for the child’s care if an emergency happens; a birth certificate to verify a child’s relationship to you; and copies of your travel insurance.

When packing give your kids their own rolling luggage bag. Be sure to consider the weather and the culture at your destination so your clothing is appropriate. If you are bringing over-the-counter or prescription medicine on your trip, research what the laws are before you enter the country, as some medications might be illegal.

These tips can help mitigate the risks all parents fear about traveling with kids, allowing everyone to focus on having fun and making forever memories.

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10 Unusual Bridges from Around the World You Need to Visit

The majority of bridges are relatively commonplace and utilitarian, but some rise above the rest. From feats of impressive engineering to creative designs, there are some bridges that draw thousands, even millions, of tourists each year. Of course, everyone is familiar with the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Still, there are many less well-known but equally fascinating bridges to visit on your next trip.

Here are 10 of the most unusual bridges from around the world that you need to visit.

10. The Moses Bridge, the Netherlands

Most bridges chart a course over the water or space they are crossing, but the Moses Bridge in the Netherlands cuts directly through the water instead. The bridge provides access to Fort de Roovere, the largest fort on the West Brabant Line, a defensive line that used moats to deter attackers. A restoration project required a bridge to be built across the moat, but this was not advised as it would have ruined the site’s appearance.

The solution was to create a bridge that cuts through the water like a trench, rather than crossing over it, thus being less visually disruptive while still allowing people access. Built in 2010, the bridge was originally called Loopgraafbrug but is now known as the Moses Bridge because it appears to part the water like the biblical prophet Moses. Although the waterline sometimes looks precarious, the height of the water is controlled by dams, so the sunken bridge cannot be flooded.

9. The Golden Bridge, Vietnam

The Golden Bridge in Vietnam is designed to look like it is being held up by two giant stone hands. The weathered hands, which dwarf the pedestrians using the bridge, look as though they have been standing for centuries, but in reality they are made of wire mesh and fiberglass and have only been in place since 2018. The bridge offers a vista of the mountainous terrain below, but it is itself an impressive sight.

Located in the Bà Nà Hills resort near Da Nang City, the bridge links the gardens to a cable car station. The cable car currently holds the Guinness World Record for the longest non-stop single-track cable car ride, stretching across 19,000 feet (5,791 meters). The Golden Bridge may not hold any records, but it is an impressive addition to the resort, which Forbes describes as “a cross between Disney’s Epcot, a French ski resort, and a Buddhist mountain retreat.”

8. Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland

The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world’s oceans, and despite its huge size, there is actually a bridge that crosses it. Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge was first put up in 1755 to allow fishermen to cross from mainland Northern Ireland to a small offshore island. Spanning a 98-foot (30-meter) deep and 65-foot (20-meter) wide chasm, the bridge might not cross a particularly large portion of the ocean, but it does technically cross it.

A more modern bridge now spans the gap, enabling tourists to say they have walked over the Atlantic. Carrick-a-Rede isn’t the only bridge with such a claim, though; Clachan Bridge on the west coast of Scotland achieves the same feat but over a shorter distance. The small arched bridge crosses a narrow channel, both ends of which connect to the Atlantic.

7. The Euro Banknote Bridges, the Netherlands

Euro banknotes feature images of fictional bridges instead of real ones in order to not unfairly prioritize certain countries. However, Robin Stam thought, “it would be amazing if these fictional bridges suddenly turn out to actually exist in real life.” He reached out to the city council of Spijkenisse, where he was born, and “before I knew it, there was a whole team working on my idea.”

Between 2011 and 2013, the bridges were made a reality in Spijkenisse. Each of the seven banknotes, which symbolize the cooperation between European countries, depicts a different style of architecture. For instance, €20 is Gothic, and €50 is Renaissance. The real bridges are smaller than the art denoted on the banknote, but they are brightly colored to match their respective notes. Five of the bridges were built using colored concrete, and the remaining two used steel.

6. Banpo Bridge Moonlight Rainbow Fountain, South Korea

Banpo Bridge is the upper half of a 3,740-foot (1,140-meter) double-decker bridge, sitting atop Jamsu Bridge, which crosses the Han River in Seoul, South Korea. In 2008, fountains were installed along both sides of Banpo Bridge, earning it the Guinness World Record for the longest bridge fountain in the world. Amazingly, 380 nozzles line the sides of the bridge, shooting out 60 tons (54 tonnes) of water every minute.

During the day, the water cascades down in different elegant patterns, but it is best seen at night. LED lights illuminate the water jets in rainbow colors, and the movements are synchronized to music. As Banpo Bridge is suspended above Jamsu Bridge, spectators can even stand on the lower bridge to view the 20-minute show from below.

5. Kinzua Bridge, USA

Most bridges do not offer a view of what they will look like when they are destroyed, but that’s exactly what the Kinzua Bridge in Pennsylvania does. For a short period of time, it was the longest and tallest railroad bridge in the world, clocking in at 2,053 feet (626 meters) long and 301 feet (92 meters) high. In 2003 restoration work was being done on the structure when it was partially destroyed by a tornado.

It was determined that rebuilding the bridge would be too expensive, so instead, the remaining structure was converted into a pedestrian walkway that opened in 2011. Six of the still-standing support towers were used in the construction. Although the bridge no longer crosses the gorge, it does lead to a platform from which people can take in the chilling view of the eleven destroyed towers which were blown down and remain twisted at the bottom of the valley.

4. The Bastei Bridge, Germany

The Bastei is a spectacular 636-foot (194-meter) tall jagged rock formation that looms over the Elbe River in Germany. Neurathen Castle used to sit on top of the natural towers until it was burned down in 1484. Although no longer home to a fortress, crowds still visit in droves to see the impressive rocks. In the early 1800s, a wooden bridge was built to link the pillars, and around 1850, it was upgraded to the sandstone bridge that still stands today.

Walking the bridge provides a close-up look at the pillars as well as a sweeping panorama of the surrounding mountains and valley below. The dramatic medieval-looking bridge is as much of a draw to the area as the sandstone towers themselves. The view of the bridge nestled between the pillars looks like something straight out of The Lord of the Rings.

3. Las Lajas Sanctuary, Colombia

Las Lajas Sanctuary is a Gothic revival-style church that sits across a gorge in Colombia. The building juts out from one side of the canyon, 330 feet (100 meters) up from the bottom, and is connected to the other side by a 160-foot (49-meter) long bridge spanning the Guáitara River. The current church was built between 1916 and 1949, but a less grand shrine existed before then due to the location supposedly being the site of a miracle.

Local legend has it that in 1754, a woman and her deaf-mute daughter sought shelter from a storm in a cave and witnessed the appearance of the Virgin Mary, after which the child could speak and talk. People began making pilgrimages to the cave to ask for miracles, and at some point, an image of Mary supposedly appeared on a slab of stone. This stone is now part of the altar inside the impressive church.

2. The Tianjin Eye on Yongle Bridge, China

The Tianjin Eye in China is unusual compared to other Ferris wheels because it is the only one to be suspended over a river, specifically the Hai River. It stands 394 feet (120 meters) tall, meaning it is dwarfed by the Ain Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which stands at a staggering 820 feet (250 meters) and is currently the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. However, no other observation wheel is attached to a bridge, making the Tianjin Eye and Yongle Bridge unique.

The wheel opened to the public in 2008 and can accommodate 384 riders at one time in its 48 compartments, taking 30 minutes to complete a rotation. It is attached to the bridge via visually dramatic tri-pronged struts. At night it is lit up with colorful neon lights, making it an impressive sight for pedestrians crossing the bridge below.

1. Living Root Bridges, India

A living root bridge is a suspension bridge formed from the living roots of trees, usually rubber trees. These living bridges are particularly common in the Indian state of Meghalaya, where the dense jungle means that building roads and bridges from common materials like concrete and steel is impractical. More than 100 living bridges have been formed in the province to enable tribal communities to cross the many rivers in the area.

The living bridges are formed by stretching bamboo across the river and then teasing the aerial roots into position. As the trees continue to grow over the years, the bridges become stronger and can accommodate more people crossing. They are currently on Unesco’s tentative list for world heritage site status because they demonstrate “a distinct ethno-botanical journey rooted in profound culture-nature reciprocity and synthesis.”

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10 Tips To Help You Have A Healthy Trip

He was upside down, about 10 feet under the roiling white water of the Nile River, when physician Chris Sanford had an epiphany.

For years, he had been giving advice to travelers about how to stay healthy in some of the most remote places on Earth. He had seen thousands of people through a travel medicine clinic at the UW Neighborhood Northgate Clinic in Seattle. But on this day—at risk of drowning in Africa after his raft rolled over—he realized he was not following his own advice.

1. If you don’t do something normally at home, don’t do it for the first time in a foreign country.

Sanford did not routinely raft in the highest-risk, white-water rapids in the United States, so if he followed his own rule, he would have said “no” to his teen son’s plea to set out on the Nile that day.  He also recommends against hiking farther than you would normally hike, and hiking at altitudes where you haven’t routinely climbed. Kite-surfing? Not unless you do it routinely. Scuba diving? Nix, unless you already are a routine diver in your home country.

Sanford tells this story and many others in his upcoming book, “Staying Healthy Abroad: A Global Traveler’s Guide.”

We visited Sanford in the somewhat safe environment of his Seattle Craftsman home to get an early glimpse at 10 bits of wisdom from his book. For those eager to know more, the guide, which is due in bookstores in December, provides rich details and research references.

2. Safe sex means bringing your own condoms.

Many travelers feel romantic urges while on vacation, but don’t realize that the supplies they buy overseas may not be of the highest quality. They could even be counterfeit, Sanford warns. Among the many health risks of unsafe sex are pregnancy, chlamydia and HIV. But perhaps the most mundane advice he offers is to bring high-quality supplies from home rather than rely on the effectiveness of prophylactics bought elsewhere.

Latex condoms purchased in a high-resource country are the best choice, he advises. The stakes are high: “Every year an estimated 500 million people become infected with chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis or trichomoniasis.”

Another warning—be aware of how sexuality may run afoul of local customs or cultural norms. In some countries, homosexuality is illegal. You may be visiting a resort where prevailing views are more in line with your own, but a mile from there, a passer-by could report you to authorities for holding your partner’s hand. In Uganda, for example, same-sex relations are illegal and could result in life imprisonment.

3. Wear your seat belt.

It you want to be ruled by big data, the big data on travel is that motor vehicle accidents kill more travelers than Ebola. The viral fever captures headlines, but riding in a matatu van in Nairobi or tuk tuk auto rickshaw in Thailand is probably a bigger risk to most of us than diseases. Even riding in the back of a taxi without a seat belt is tricky.  “I’m afraid of Fords, Toyotas and Hondas, not mosquitoes or rats,” Sanford says.

He has been known to offer a taxi driver a larger tip for slowing down.

4. Get a flu shot.

You might be worried about catching malaria or yellow fever. There is an entire section in the book about malaria. But Sanford wants you to know that the most common infection that travelers get is the flu. Being in good health before you board a plane, and having all your routine vaccinations, goes a long way toward making it a good trip. Do you have frequent migraines? Do you have diabetes? Bring your own medications, properly marked to go through security, and know the rules of the places you are visiting. Is there a medication you take that’s illegal somewhere else? Just to give one example, the medical marijuana you take legally here may make you a target of officials elsewhere.

5. Know your exit strategy.

Sanford knows a man who had appendicitis while traveling, which is treated with a routine sort of surgery in many parts of the world. Because this traveler was in a remote part of South America, it cost $80,000 for a medical airlift to get him to the right hospital for his care. Sanford believes in insurance for many travelers that will cover the cost of a medical exit, if necessary. There are websites that offer quick comparisons of travel insurance for this purpose. Many domestic health insurance plans don’t cover any costs for health issues abroad.

Broken ankle in Bali? Slipped disc in Zanzibar? Are you over 65? Medicare does not cover you outside the U.S.

6. Don’t wait until the last minute.

While dreaming about cocktails on a tropical beach, be sure to set aside time early for advice about travel health. He recommends at least six weeks. Some of the vaccinations you need could require two doses that are weeks apart. Medicine you might take to prevent malaria, for example, is frequently taken in advance so that you can check for side effects before you are mid-journey.

7. Seeing your own relatives counts as travel, too.

The highest-risk group of travelers is known by the acronym VFR, which stands for visiting friends and relatives. Nobody is entirely sure why, but those who live in high-resource countries and then go home to see their own kin in low-resource countries suffer the most travel-related disease and injury. It may be because these visits last longer than pure tourism. It may be that when we feel safe in our childhood haunts, we forget to exercise caution.

8. Diarrhea is common, and being careful may not help.

Here is a confusing bit of truth. Trying to exercise “safe” eating habits has not been shown in research studies to prevent traveler’s diarrhea, but Sanford recommends it anyway. Among his recommendations of what to avoid are street food, salad, raw meat, tap water and dairy.

Washing your hands is a very good idea. Hand sanitizer, however, does not kill norovirus, which is frequently the cause of tummy upsets on cruise ships.

9. Low-tech barriers and insect repellent are important.

People tend to focus on high-tech ways to protect themselves from malaria and other insect-borne diseases. But Sanford wants everyone to remember to wear long sleeves, use bed nets at night, and avoid the times of day when specific mosquitoes are known to be out. He also recommends insect repellents, and provides great detail on the pros and cons of different types.

His point: you should take the “avoid mosquitoes” part of the process just as seriously as you do the “taking malaria medications” part.

10. Don’t stay home.

Sanford is 100 percent in favor of travel. His rough estimate is that he has been to 50 countries. He spends about a month in Uganda every year, teaching at a hospital. He believes in travel for its own sake. He and his wife have taken their two sons, now 17 and 19, to many countries.

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