Which ILP Programs Are Reopening?

Are volunteers abroad right now? Are you taking applications? When are programs opening back up? We have the answers to the questions you’re asking, all in one place.

So many things have been changing for every one of our ILP countries and we know you’re pretty anxious to hear updates … While there's several things we're waiting on to help us determine when programs will be reopening, we really wanted to find a way to keep you up to speed and let you in on information that we have week to week. So we put it all in one place, mapped everything out, and are giving you a behind-the-scenes look at it all.

We have a main page complete with all of our ILP countries mapped out + some FAQs we’re sure you want the answers to. On the map, you can easily click into each country and read more about how things are looking: everything from opening borders, potential flights, visa policies, schools reopening, and what travel could look like. 

Fall 2020 has begun and volunteers in Montenegro and Ukraine are back! Right now we're making updates on that page looking towards Spring 2021, but we’ll be changing and updating the information for the Summer 2021 semester in the coming months, and for future semesters after that — as long as we need to be.  You’ll want to keep an eye on this webpage, which we’re updating often. 

We’ve been working so hard behind-the-scenes to help figure out what life is looking like for our countries around the world and when we can have ILP semesters again  — and we are so excited to share all of this hard work with you. We hope it’ll help answer some major questions and keep you more informed about the countries you already love.

Check it out here.

Where Can US Travelers Go Right Now?

November 25, 2020 

It’s pretty tricky to keep track of the ever-shifting policies, but we’re happy to see that the world is slowly opening back up to travelers, including ones from the United States. 

IATA travel center is focused on doing just that: keeping us all informed on the latest updates with an interactive map. This power-house of the travel industry is focused on informing airlines and other aviation partners to compile an interactive map that details all of the current policies. To look at things at a glance, take a peek at the color code at the bottom: Darkest blue means totally restrictive but the country’s policies lighten up to be displayed in a couple of different shades of blue. To get more detail, click onto the country to pull up the latest restrictions — it’s a bit of a test in your geography skills because the map isn’t labeled! 

There are other resources too, who have a whole list of where US travelers can visit if you’d rather not click through your top countries. CNN’s list of countries open to US travelers shows that vacation options like Mexico, Ireland, South Korea and others are all available. 

United Airlines Tries Out Rapid Testing On Flights

November 23, 2020

There’s a pretty exciting update when it comes to travel — rapid testing before you get on a plane to minimize exposure to the virus. With many countries requiring a negative test result before entering, this could be a way to streamline that process and make travel even more accessible. 

United Airlines has started a 4-week trial (beginning November 16th until December 11th) where “each traveler over 2 years old will be required to receive a free COVID-19 rapid test before boarding.” Travelers who don’t wish to be tested will travel on another flight.  Passengers are required to take the test three hours before departure, and test results come back in about 30 minutes. This process is being tested out on flights from New York to London. 

According to a press release, “United will share customer feedback of this pilot with governments on both sides of the Atlantic to further demonstrate the effectiveness of these programs as an alternative to mandatory quarantines or duplicative travel restrictions”. 

It’ll be interesting to see how well this rapid-testing pilot program turns out, maybe with United and other airlines requiring free rapid testing, more and more countries will allow travelers in without a quarantine. It’s a potentially hopeful step in the world of opening travel to more and more people and countries. 

Get more info here and here

What Are Fall 2020 Volunteers Really Up To?

November 16, 2020

In case you missed it, we have volunteers abroad for the Fall 2020 semester who have been soaking up life in Europe in our Ukraine and Montenegro programs. They've figured out lesson planning, done quite a bit of exploring, tackled weekend trips in-country and even spent some vacation time abroad!

Because we're sure you have questions about what travel looks like right now, we wanted to let you know about our ILP Takeover Instagram account. It's an account run by volunteers so they can show you what life is like volunteering, from their point of view. You'll find everything from teaching, to what meals look like, and how vacations work — plus you can ask questions.

Many alumni have been sharing about their past semesters while those programs have been closed due to the pandemic, but for Ukraine and Montenegro you'll find takeovers from the volunteers who are abroad right now that just recently posted. That's all saved in the highlights so you can easily take a peek at what the first semester back has looked like — just scroll through the highlight bubbles on our profile page to find Ukraine and Montenegro's takeovers and check it out!

Latter Day Saint Missionaries Start To Return And Temples Slowly Reopen

November 4, 2020

There’s been some good news for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as some Covid-19 restrictions ease. 

First off, there have been some missionaries who been able to be sent to their original assignments in Asia and some countries in Europe. It’s a very welcome shift, since earlier in the year, a vast majority of missionaries were sent to serve in their home countries. There are still missionaries who are serving in their home countries (for now), but it’s a hopeful glimmer that some are serving in the country of their original assignment. 

Another update? Temples are starting to reopen across the world. The reopening has been conducted in phases, starting in May. You can take a peek at the status of each temple of the Church of Jesus Christ here — with many partially open and a few set to begin some services on November 9th. 

Read more here.

Costa Rica Is Allowing US Travelers From All 50 States!

November 2, 2020

Starting November 1, citizens of all the US states (plus other international travelers) will be allowed to visit Costa Rica. It's a welcome bit of good news especially since this tropical country has had varying policies when it comes to reopening. We've been carefully watching who's been allowed to travel to Costa Rica and what the requirements were, and were getting excited when a small selection of US states were on their approved travel list. At first, a few US states were on the list (with a set of requirements) and we were hopeful more and more would be added before we got the best kind of news — as of November 1st, travelers from all US states would be allowed to visit Costa Rica! Travelers will not be required to present a PRC test but will need to make sure they have a form of insurance which meets the country's requirements. 

Flights are operating with frequent routes to some of our favorite cites in Costa Rica plus our go-to national parks, waterfalls, beaches, and outdoor adventures are open for the locals and international travelers, with mindful health and safety considerations.  With other countries not currently accepting US citizens or having restricted flight policies, we're very happy to see that Costa Rica is looking like a good option for Spring 2021. 

Read more here.

Mexico Reopens The Massive Mayan Ruins of Teotihuacan

October 19, 2020 

After being closed for five months, Mexico has reopened the series of ruins known as the “City Of The Gods”. Teotihuacan’s been an important staple in Mexico’s economy, pulling thousands of tourists who want to see the towering pyramids and surrounding archeological sites.   

Visiting here now means limited tickets, getting your temperature checked, and wearing face masks while you explore the huge complex. Certain parts of the park are off limits to help control the crowds, but tourists can still admire most of the huge structures that make Teotihuacan so famous. It’s a part of Mexico our ILP volunteers love, some even more than Chichen Itza! Take it from this volunteer — “Originally what I wanted to see the most in Mexico was Chichén Itzá. You know, the World Wonder. But honestly, Teotihuacan was my favorite of the two. Highly underrated. If you have to pick between the two, I say pick Teotihuacan!” 

Seeing this location reopen is such a bright spot, as is seeing more and more tourism locations opening up in Mexico. Earlier in the year, popular beach vacation spots around Cancun reopened which provided a much-needed boost to the country’s economy. We’re hopeful the country can continue to bolster domestic tourism and invite international tourism back slowly and safely. 

Read more here.

Nicaragua Is Open For Tourism

September 21, 2020 

We’ve been carefully watching each of the countries we send volunteers to and are happy to see that things are opening up for the happy country of Nicaragua. While the nation didn’t shut borders or close down as strictly as others, airports did close and flights here weren’t really happening. 

But now, airlines are starting up itineraries and airports are open, with flights returning in September and October. This week, Spirit Airlines is restarting their flight from Miami to Managua, with more airlines starting itineraries in the first week of October. Right now, Nicaragua isn’t requiring a quarantine unless travelers present a negative PCR test, taken within 72 hour of arriving. 

It’s a short and sweet update, but a good sign as we’re watching things for the Spring 2021 semesters! 

Read more here.

New Plans In The DR To Boost Tourism

September 10, 2020 

The happy Caribbean island opened for tourism on July 1st and has had a shifting policy to both welcome tourists and keep the virus in check. The DR first required that all visitors have a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 5 days of arrival, but recently rolled out a new policy.  Now, the country will be utilizing random testing, providing a travel assistance plan, and mandating social distancing and masks. 

Beginning at the end of September, everyone entering the DR will be subject to random COVID-19 testing (they’re utilizing a breath test), no longer requiring that negative-test-on arrival. There are also a few other updates which will hopefully encourage tourism, like offering a free temporary travel assistance plan that “includes coverage for emergencies, telemedicine, prolonged hotel stays, and change of flights in the event that they contract COVID-19 during their stay”. This is provided for all travelers staying in a hotel. 

For a country so dependent on tourism, we’re hoping these steps encourage more and more visitors without creating a spike in numbers.

Read more here.

Soon, Costa Rica Will Be Allowing Some US Travelers

September 2, 2020 

Costa Rica has slowly been opening up to allow tourists, first only allowing visitors from a list of approved nations who had low risk. Visitors from countries like Canada, Japan, Thailand, China, and others were allowed in, started August 1st. US tourists have been anxiously been awaiting being added to that last, and now have a bright little update. 

Starting September 1st, the tropical country will be allowing visitors from eleven US states: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C. In the next week, residents of Colorado, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania will also be allowed in.  Supposedly, states allowed in were determined to have similar (or better) outbreak conditions than what’s currently happening in Costa Rica

We’re hoping that list of US states is evaluated frequently and even more will be added to that list. 

Read more here.  

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