Is It Safe To Fly On A Long Distance Flight?

August 20, 2020

As the world is slowly opening back up to travel and tourism, you can bet there are multiple studies out there to help answer this question — is it safe to head off on a long flight? 

According to a new report, the risk is small and even smaller since so many precautions have been put in place since the outbreak of the pandemic. Back in March, a German research team reported on the health status of 102 passengers who boarded a flight in Tel Aviv, Isreal to make the 4.5 hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany. This was all before more extreme lockdown measures and requirements (like passengers and crew members wearing masks or decreasing crowding in the aisles). The case takes an interesting turn when researchers realize 7 people on that flight had tested Positive for COVID-19 upon landing. And what about the other passengers on the plane, who had been on the flight with the infected passengers? 

"We discovered 2 likely SARS-CoV-2 transmissions on this flight, with 7 index cases," researcher Dr. Sandra Ciesek, of the Institute for Medical Virology at Goethe University in Frankfurt, stated in the report. Only two transmissions occurred with no attempts to prevent the spared of the virus. 

“(E)ven with no attempts to prevent spread, [the] spread was limited to only those in close proximity. Plus, nowadays with a better understanding of viral transmission, and recognizing the importance of masking and social distancing as possible, the likelihood of transmitting COVID-19 to someone on an airplane is very low," says Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of Infectious Diseases of Mount Sinai in New York. 

The measures airlines are taking are exactly what epidemiologist Glatt reports: social distancing while on a plane (and in the airport) along with wearing a mask is going to decrease the risk of contagion while flying.

 Read more here

Vanuatu Discusses A Travel Bubble

August 17, 2020 

There haven’t been many updates regarding Vanuatu, but recently, the island nation has discussed opening up a travel bubble with nearby Covid-free nations, like New Zealand. 


Vanuatu has had a strict reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, quickly closing airports in March and not allowing anyone on their islands since. Though harsh, it’s been successful: The island hasn’t had a single case of COVID-19. However, as a nation that is heavily supported by tourism, conversations about how to restart that industry have been a recent topic of discussion. 


Apparently, there’s a task force who has been preparing tourism guidelines. Countries that have been discussed as being a part of this so-called “Tam-tam bubble” are New Zealand and the Solomon Islands (Australia was in previous conversations, but higher community spread has taken them off the table for right now). 


There are talks that this bubble could begin as early as September, but government announcements and declarations hint at a more realistic December timeline, at the earliest. Considering the nation hasn’t seen any level of tourism for months, we’re happy to see the beginnings of that returning to a country we love so much (in a safe way). 

Read more here. 

The Update On Costa Rica’s Latest Phase

August 12, 2020 

This popular tropical country has had ever-shifting policies to help contain the spread of the virus. The most recent update? Costa Rica is now in the “Closed Phase” which will last from August 10 to August 21. 

Within this phase, most business are allowed to operate as normal (with capacity limits). There’s also a pretty welcome change for grocery stores, who up until this point, were only allowed to sell and stock essential items. All open-air tourism activities are allowed, including beaches which are open each day from 5:00 AM to 2:30 PM. Restaurants, coffee shops, and sodas (our fav place to eat!) are also open. Sounds like a nice way to test run opening back up the country on a more permanent basis. 

This new “Closed Phase” applies everywhere in the country that’s considered “Yellow” — At the time of this article, there were a handful of different cantons that were still considered “Orange” which have less lenient restrictions. There are a few cantons in San Jose, Puntaras, Heredia, Alajuela, and Cartago that aren't Yellow quite yet, but we're hoping that more transition soon —  All cantons in Guancaste and Limòn are still Yellow which is a good step forward for this country. 

Read more here and here.

ISOS Says These ILP Countries Have Decreasing Or Limited Virus Activity

August 10, 2020

We’re happy to see a few ILP countries managing the virus well enough to achieve Blue or Green status, according to ISOS. 

Green status countries are those with limited activity, either with no reported cases (while still testing for the COVID-19 virus) or have a minimal number of new daily cases — maybe there are just a few sporadic or small clusters to handle. ILP countries like Uganda, China, and Thailand are all labeled as green, same with Taiwan (where ILP has  professional teaching program). 

More good news? A couple of other ILP countries are Blue, meaning they’re right on cusp of getting to Green. Blue countries have Decreasing Activity, which means they haven’t reached outbreak status, or have a moderate (and controlled) number of new cases. Blue countries are also those who have a decreasing virus trend, supporting decreasing numbers for two weeks. Nicaragua and Haiti join the list of Blue countries, as well as handful of favorite vacation spots like Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Norway, and a few more. 

These ISOS reports are maintained by a whole host of medical and health professions, citing sources and gathering data from the  World Health Organization, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individual Ministries of Health, and others. 

Get a map of each country’s outbreak status here

State Department Lifts Level 4 Travel Bans (Hooray!)

August 6, 2020 

Way back in March, the State Department had a blanket Level 4 travel restriction on every country, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Travel 4 advisory came with the warning that US citizens should avoid international travel due to the impact of the virus. We are very happy to see that that Department has returned to evaluating the situation on a country-by-country basis. 

In a recent press release, the State Department outlines the following: “With health and safety conditions improving in some countries and potentially deteriorating in others, the Department is returning to our previous system of country-specific levels of travel advice (with Levels from 1-4 depending on country-specific conditions), in order to give travelers detailed and actionable information to make informed travel decisions”. 

The department also reminded travelers to closely monitor the health and safety conditions of the country you’re wishing to visit. 

As a reminder, the State Department makes their evaluations on a whole host of elements completely independent of the virus situation. For example, China is rated at Level 4, but not due to the spread of the virus (visa and flight restrictions account for that evaluation, with additional factors). China currently has very low and limited number of virus cases.

Something else to keep in mind? There are additional factors that contribute to the State Department rating. A country may have a higher number due to a certain area of the country which is off-limits for our ILP volunteers. See how that works?

Because so many countries are handling the impact of the virus in different ways, we’re happy to see the State Department considering those factors to help make their evaluations on a country-specific level. It's certainly a step forward for the world of international travel. 

Read more here

Thailand’s Ranked #1 Globally For COVID Response

August 4, 2020

This happy country has been in the news lately for all the good reasons. For months, researchers have monitored how Thailand has handled the COVID-19 virus. As of July 28th, it was announced that Thailand was ranked number one for its COVID response efforts as an example of best practices for tackling the ongoing pandemic. 

In an assessment conducted two weeks ago, Thailand ranked number two, so we're happy to see they finally got that number one spot. Other countries who have done an admirable job managing their outbreaks include South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand. Thailand has been able to keep cases low for months — on July 30th, the country reported only six nationwide cases and has reported under ten cases for weeks. 


The Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) determines scores based on a few different components. 70% is based on big data and daily analysis, while the remaining 30% comes from the Global Health Security Index, which is an assent of global health security prepared by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health and Security. 

Read more here

What Does Virus Testing At The Airport Look Like For Travelers?

July 30, 2020

As more and more countries are figuring out how they will be welcoming back tourists and travelers, we’re seeing a variety of approaches. Some countries are publishing a list of approved countries who can skip a test or quarantine, while others are completely cutting off flights. Quite a few are implementing a “test on arrival” program which sounds like a good step for travelers everywhere, especially American tourists. 

Around the world, a few nations are deciding to institute mandatory testing for every traveler, while some are requiring a test only if you’re traveling from a high-risk country.  According to one article, “the idea behind airport testing is that passengers land, take a quick test and wait for the result. If it’s negative, isolation ends.”

No matter the requirements, the procedure is basically the same (using a swab test). Some airport testing units can process results in a matter of hours, while others have a 72-hour turnaround period. Russia is boasting one of the fastest tests, advertising that results will be processed within an hour, meaning the whole procedure (including paperwork) to take just 75 minutes. 

There are a handful of airports rolling out this strategy, including those in Germany, Russia, Ukraine, France, and Iceland, among others. We’re hoping to see more and more success with this strategy which would only open up more borders for travelers everywhere. 

This update is particularly pertinent for American travelers. As long as infection numbers continue to rise in our country, it seems likely that testing upon arrival will be required if you’d like to travel abroad to nations who require a test for travelers from “high risk” countries. However, it’s definitely a good update for those of us excited to start using our passports again. 


Read more here.

Flights To Russia Are Coming Back

July 27, 2020

We’ve been carefully watching things in Russia, and are happy to pass along this little tidbit (plus we have some really good updates from Delta Airlines and United to share with you).

Russia is planning on resuming a bulk of their international flights at the end of July. The country has grounded their flights for months to help stop the spread of COVID-19, so this has been a bit of a long wait for those looking to travel to Russia. According to reports, Rospotrebnadzo (who is Russia’s go-to person for the Federal Air Transport Agency) will be sending a proposal to start international flights back up, to and from 15 countries. Right now, China, South Korea, Turkey and some European countries are on that list, but “nearby every country” would be available for business aviation according to a TASS source. 

The nation initially set these flights to open up mid-July but recently announced they’ll be opening that up on July 31. We’re anxiously awaiting the final list of countries that will be approved for recreational/business travel to Russia. 

If you’re looking for more good news about airlines, you just have to look at Delta. Delta recently announced they’ll be introducing more than 1,000 new flights to their itinerary for the month of July. They’ve yet to publish their itinerary, but we’re hopeful it will include some of our favorite domestic and international routes. 

And for United? They are planning on adding 25,000 more flights for the month of August than they had in July. Look for flights to Tahiti, Hawaii, the Caribbean and Mexico, along with some favorite European cities like London, Paris, and Munich. Looks like good news for international travel all around. 

Read more herehere, and here

Thailand (+China and Uganda) Reach Green Status!

Updated July 16, 2020 (Initial article posted May 28, 2020) 

With the world charting the outbreaks in each country, we love hearing that Thailand has been deemed “Green” according to International SOS (ISOS). That green status is defined as “Limited Activity” which means no reported cases (with ongoing testing) or there’s a minimal number of new cases per day (sporadic or small clusters). It’s really the best place a country can be, before moving to Yellow, which means all cases are imported (aka, there are zero cases or the ones they have didn’t originate in that country). 

Previously (as reported in May), ISOS had Thailand on the list of “waning” countries as far as COVID-19 outbreaks go. Waning countries had less than 100 cases a day and have had declining case numbers of COVID-19 for two weeks. ISOS has revised their classification system to color code, but the message is the same: this Green status is another step forward in Thailand’s reopening and returning to a new definition of normal, that’s for sure. 

Thailand joins a few other Green countries including China, Uganda, Estonia, Fiji, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Taiwan, and a few others. We’re hopeful even more will reach that Green status, but are so happy to see a few ILP countries (and vacation spots) on this list! 

These ISOS reports are maintained by a whole host of medical and health professions, citing sources and gathering data from the  World Health Organization, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individual Ministries of Health, and others. 

Get a map of each country’s outbreak status here

Russia Starts Lifting Flight Restrictions

July 15, 2020

Starting July 15, Russia is restarting flights to and from their country, which is big news considering international flights have been cancelled since March 27. 


For the most part, things are very open in Russia. We’ve been talking to our local friends who have been shopping around, visiting cafes, and even taking vacations around the country recently. All of that is good news for locals, and could be really good news for tourists. Negotiations are in the works to allow flights to countries where the virus is low (does not exceed 40 active cases per 100,000 people). According to deputy prime minister Tatiana Golikova, they’ll also be watching the daily increase of cases for these countries for the past two week — there shouldn’t be an increase of more than 1% and allowed countries should also have a transmission rate that’s less than one. 


Right now there isn’t an official list of approved countries. These flight parameters will be reciprocal, meaning Russia will need to propose the itinerary and that country would also need to agree to starting flights back up with Russia. 

Even though a few countries (including the US) aren’t likely to be included with this initial plan, we are hopeful. Russia is slowly reintroducing flights and tourism, which may be a good sign that visas will open up, and policies will be adapted to include more tourists (potentially from the United States). It’s also good news because things have been pretty quiet as far as updates for Russia goes, and we’re happy to see big changes like this being announced. 

Read more here

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