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Travel Quarantines: Enduring the Mundane, One Day at a Time

Travel Quarantines: Enduring the Mundane, One Day at a Time

Running a half-marathon in your hotel room. Hearing the sea, but not seeing it. Fixating on food. Here’s how some travelers passed the time during their mandatory quarantines.

Hotel guests in quarantine, a mandatory protocol for travelers returning to Australia to curb the spread of the coronavirus, watch a musical performance from their rooms in the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney, Australia.
Hotel guests in quarantine, a mandatory protocol for travelers returning to Australia to curb the spread of the coronavirus, watch a musical performance from their rooms in the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney, Australia.Credit…Reuters

  • Feb. 24, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

May Samali knew she’d reached her limit when she saw a tentacle emerging from her hotel dinner in Sydney, Australia.

“I called downstairs and said, ‘I’m a vegan now, thank you!’” she said. “It was just so much fish. I’d gotten to the point where even thinking about it made me gag.”

Ms. Samali swore off the seemingly unlimited seafood while in the middle of a required quarantine in the Hotel Sofitel in Sydney this December and early January. An executive coach, she was repatriating back to Australia after her U.S. work visa expired. In addition to an excess of fish, Ms. Samali was confined to her room all day, forbidden from stepping outside, for two weeks.

Air travelers around the world are finding themselves in similar situations, enduring mandatory government quarantines in hotels as they travel to countries that are very serious about containing the coronavirus.

Their quarantine is not the cushy experience of shorter-term quarantines or “resort bubbles” found in some destinations like Kauai and the British Virgin Islands, where you are able to roam relatively freely on a resort’s expansive grounds while waiting for a negative coronavirus test.

This is the more extreme, yet typical experience of quarantine life. These mandatory quarantines involve confinement to your room, 24 hours a day, for up to two weeks (assuming you test negative, that is). And with some exceptions, you are footing the bill — quarantine in New South Wales, Australia, for example, costs about $2,300, or 3,000 Australian dollars for a two-week quarantine for one adult, and up to 5,000 Australian dollars for a family of four to quarantine for two weeks (in January, Britain announced a mandatory 10-day quarantine from high-risk areas with a similar cost of about $2,500 for one adult).

Travelers now journeying to countries with mandatory hotel quarantines, which also include New Zealand, mainland China and Tunisia, generally must have compelling reasons to do so — visiting ailing family members, “essential” business travel or permanent relocation.

Most accept the inconvenience and inevitable claustrophobia of the quarantine as the price of traveling. But while there can be comfort in establishing some kind of routine resembling normal life, travelers find themselves craving human connection, fresh air and, well, different food (the staff at the Sofitel happily accommodated Ms. Samali’s request; she is still off fish).

Pete Lee, a San Francisco-based filmmaker, directed a shoot in Austin, Texas, over Zoom at 4 a.m. one morning while in quarantine at the Roaders Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan.
Pete Lee, a San Francisco-based filmmaker, directed a shoot in Austin, Texas, over Zoom at 4 a.m. one morning while in quarantine at the Roaders Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan.Credit…Pete Lee

In general, people are still traveling but far less — the first two months of 2021 have seen fewer than half the number of air passengers as the same period in 2020, according to checkpoint travel numbers released by the Transportation Security Administration, which includes all domestic and international departures from the United States.

Travel quarantine might seem manageable, even familiar, for those who have been living in places with shelter-in-place orders and working from home. Pete Lee, a San Francisco-based filmmaker, wasn’t concerned about the quarantine when he flew to Taiwan for work and to visit family.

“I was a little bit cocky when I first heard about the requirement,” said Mr. Lee, during his eighth day at the Roaders Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan. “I was inside my San Francisco apartment for 22 out of 24 hours a day! But it’s a surprisingly intense experience. Those two hours make a big difference.”

Destination: unknown

Much of quarantine life is determined by your hotel. And depending on where you are traveling, you may get to choose your quarantine hotel, or you may be assigned upon arrival. Mr. Lee, in Taiwan, was able to choose and book his quarantine hotel from a list compiled by the Taiwanese government, complete with information about location, cost, room size and the presence (or lack thereof) of windows. He also footed the bill.

Similarly, Ouiem Chettaoui, a public policy specialist who splits her time between Washington, D.C., and Tunisia, was able to choose a hotel for her weeklong quarantine when returning to Tunis with her husband in September; she based her selection, the Medina Belisaire & Thalasso on price and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea (“We couldn’t see it, but we could hear it … at least, we told ourselves we could!” she said).

Brett Barna, an investment manager who relocated to Shanghai with his fiancée in November, could select a district in the city, but not the hotel itself. In an attempt to improve their odds, Mr. Barna chose the upscale Huangpu district where, he hoped, the hotels would be higher quality.

The check-in area at the Home Inn in Shanghai, China, where Brett Barna and his fiancée were quarantined for two weeks. Guests were asked about their health and dietary restrictions, among other things.Credit…Brett Barna

“There were four possible hotels in the district, three of which were nice enough. And then there was the budget option, the Home Inn,” he said. Mr. Barna and his fiancée, to their dismay, ended up paying for quarantine in that option, which had peeling wallpaper and bleach stains on the floor thanks to aggressive cleaning protocols.

In Australia and New Zealand, there’s no choice in the matter — upon landing, your entire flight is bused to a quarantine hotel with capacity. In most instances, travelers do not know where they are going until the bus pulls up at the hotel itself.

Joy Jones, a coach and educator who is based in San Francisco, traveled to New Zealand with her husband, a New Zealand citizen, and two young daughters in January. She learned before their departure that they would have no say where in the country they would be quarantined.

Joy Jones’s daughter Jackie draws on the hotel room window with dry-erase markers while quarantined at the Stamford Plaza Hotel in Auckland, New Zealand.Credit…Joy Jones

“That was probably the hardest part,” she said. “I could put together a bag of activities for my older daughter, and plan on doing laundry in the sink. But not having an answer to where we’d be — after more than 21 hours of flying, with masks — would we have to get another flight? A three-hour bus ride?” They didn’t. Ms. Jones and her family were taken to Stamford Plaza in Auckland, just 25 minutes from the airport.

Pim Techamuanvivit and her New Zealander husband, however, were not so lucky. After arriving in Auckland from San Francisco, they were promptly directed to board another flight to Christchurch, and to the Novotel Christchurch Airport hotel. “At that point, we just really, really wanted to get to the hotel!” said Ms. Techamuanvivit, the chef-owner of Nari and Kin Khao restaurants in San Francisco and the executive chef of Nahm in Bangkok.

Relief at arriving — finally — might be the initial reaction, but it doesn’t take long for reality to set in. The hotel room is all that you’ll see for a not insignificant period of time.

As Adrian Wallace, a technology project manager who was quarantined at the Sydney Hilton in August after visiting his ailing father in Britain, put it: “That moment when the door slams … it’s reminiscent of the opening scene of ‘The Shawshank Redemption’!” Mr. Wallace said, referring to the 1994 prison movie with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.

Passing the time

The challenge is managing the tedium. Working remotely helped pass the time for a number of the travelers, including Tait Sye, a senior director at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who traveled to Taipei, Taiwan, from Washington, D.C. in November. Mr. Sye attempted to maintain East Coast hours for the majority of his quarantine at the Hanns House Hotel, working from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Mr. Wallace ran a half marathon around his Sydney hotel room (he was unable to adjust the in-room air-conditioner and got very sweaty). Mr. Barna and his fiancée in Shanghai had date nights on Zoom, since official policy required them to quarantine in separate rooms. A major highlight of their days came when a hotel employee, clad in full, hazmat-style P.P.E., knocked on the door and pointed an infrared thermometer at their heads. They were not allowed outside.

May Samali’s makeshift standing desk on the balcony of her room at the Hotel Sofitel in Sydney, Australia.Credit…May Samali
May Samali’s makeshift yoga studio in her hotel room in Sydney.Credit…May Samali

In New Zealand, travelers who test negative for the virus are allowed on the hotel grounds for supervised constitutionals after checking in with guards at multiple checkpoints (masks and distancing are still required, and the rules can quickly change if there is any threat of an outbreak in the country). The ability to get fresh air and walk was crucial for Ms. Jones, and a key part of the routine she created for her family. Other aspects included morning yoga, remote school, nap times, playtime and art projects (her husband worked remotely from the bathroom).

“We decorated a paper horse that we hung in our window — every day, a different part of it — that was a favorite activity. We’d have dance parties. And we’d watch a movie every night. We did what we could to bring some fun into it,” Ms. Jones said.

Three meals a day

Meals become very important in quarantine life, to mark the passing of the time and as regular occurrences to break up the monotony of the day. Food quality, though, varies widely, as Mr. Sye learned in Taipei, where meals were ordered from nearby restaurants.

He recounted the highs of a Michelin-starred meal from Kam’s Roast Goose and the thoughtfulness of a Thanksgiving dinner decorated with a paper turkey to the low of an absolutely terrible pizza (at least it was accompanied by a beer).

Tait Sye’s Michelin-starred takeout dinner from Kam’s Roast Goose while quarantined at the Hanns House Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan.Credit…Tait Sye
Tait Sye’s takeout Thanksgiving dinner at the Hanns House Hotel in Taipei.Credit…Tait Sye

For Ms. Techamuanvivit who documented her quarantine in Christchurch on Twitter, ordering food and grocery delivery was a life-saver. “I’m a chef. I suppose I am, shall we say, a snob!” she said. “As a restaurateur, I don’t have much love for UberEats. But ordering Indian takeaway proved to be important.” (Others who had delivery options available similarly cited them as game-changing).

Ms. Techamuanvivit spiced up hotel meals with leftover Indian pickles and found that Greek tzatziki sauce ordered from the grocery store worked well as a salad dressing. She and her husband also treated themselves to nice bottles of wine from the hotel restaurant’s wine list (In Australia and New Zealand, quarantined guests were limited to a delivery of six beers or one bottle of wine per person per day, perhaps to ward off belligerence. In Shanghai, alcohol was not allowed).

Seeking connection on social media

There are Facebook groups dedicated to hotel quarantine, by region and even by specific hotel, where members share tips for boiling eggs using in-room kettles and “cooking” with an iron. They were also a source of community; Mr. Wallace, who learned of the Sydney Hilton’s Facebook group while on the bus from the airport, participated in a daily Zoom call with members of the group (the meals of the day were a constant topic of conversation).

Mr. Lee moderated filmmaking conversations on Clubhouse, an invitation-only social media app, and spent time on Tinder while in quarantine; he connected with a woman who was nearing the end of her confinement in another hotel across town.

Ms. Jones documented her family’s quarantine experience on her private Instagram account, showing forts made of blankets, paper airplane competitions and “bowling” with water bottles and a crumpled ball made of paper. She was touched that friends and family, both in New Zealand and in the United States, sent her family meals, treats and toys for her daughters in response to her posts.

“It was a really cool way to feel love, and connection, from such an isolated space,” she said.


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A Different Early-Bird Special: Have Vaccine, Will Travel

A Different Early-Bird Special: Have Vaccine, Will Travel

People over 65 have been among the first in line to receive Covid-19 vaccinations. And they are leading a wave in new travel bookings.

Travel is on the rise among newly inoculated older travelers. The Marker Key West Harbor Resort in Key West, Fla. has resumed an aqua yoga class that was put on hiatus during the pandemic.
Travel is on the rise among newly inoculated older travelers. The Marker Key West Harbor Resort in Key West, Fla. has resumed an aqua yoga class that was put on hiatus during the pandemic.Credit…Mark Hedden for The New York Times

  • Feb. 17, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

When the coronavirus hit, Jim and Cheryl Drayer, 69 and 72, canceled all their planned travel and hunkered down in their home in Dallas, Texas.

But earlier this month, the Drayers both received the second dose of their Covid-19 vaccinations. And in March, armed with their new antibodies, they are heading to Maui for a long overdue vacation.

Across the United States, older people have been among the first in line to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations. And among hotels, cruise lines and tour operators, the data is clear: Older travelers are leading a wave in new travel bookings. Americans over 65, who have had priority access to inoculations, are now newly emboldened to travel — often while their children and grandchildren continue to wait for a vaccine. For the silver-haired, it’s a silver lining.

“We’ve very willingly been compliant with masking and social distancing, and have basically lived inside of our bubble here in Dallas,” Mr. Drayer said. “We haven’t been inside a restaurant in a year. So we’re anxious to get out now and do things a little more safely.”

Jim and Cheryl Drayer, retirees and seasoned travelers, at their home in Dallas.
Jim and Cheryl Drayer, retirees and seasoned travelers, at their home in Dallas.Credit…Cooper Neill for The New York Times

At the Foundry Hotel in Asheville, N.C., an 87-room luxury hotel housed in what was once a steel factory for the Biltmore Estate, reservations made with the hotel’s AARP promotional rate were up 50 percent last month. Aqua-Aston Hospitality, a Honolulu-based company with resorts, hotels and condos in its portfolio, reports that senior-rate bookings climbed nearly 60 recent in January.

The Drayers, who have gone gorilla trekking in Africa and done adventure travel in India, Israel and Egypt, admit that their trip to Hawaii, which they booked through the members-only vacation club, Exclusive Resorts, is something of a baby step. (The vacation club reports that more than 50 percent of their current bookings are vacations for members over the age of 65.)

“We’re testing the waters,” Ms. Drayer said. “We didn’t want to end up quarantined in a foreign country or not allowed back in the United States. This felt like a safe place to go, where we were still in the United States.”

That sense of safety is partly because Hawaii, with its mandatory quarantine and contact tracing, has managed the pandemic well. The couple feel confident that if they were to face any health issues while on the island, they wouldn’t be stymied by an overburdened health system.

“We’re traveling to a destination that, by all the numbers, is safer than where we live right now,” said Mr. Drayer. “It feels like our bubble has cracked open a little a bit.”

Alice Southworth, 75, outside her home in McLean, Va., received her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and is now planning a trip to Hilton Head Health, a wellness resort in South Carolina.Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Alice Southworth, 75, was also looking for a post-vaccine travel destination in a place that was still taking Covid-19 precautions seriously, and didn’t push her too far out of her comfort zone. A semiretired psychologist, she has continued to see a handful of patients throughout the pandemic, but hasn’t ventured beyond her hometown of McLean, Va., in more than a year. She also hasn’t been able to use an indoor gym or attend her beloved water aerobics classes, so as soon as she received the first dose of the vaccine, she booked a visit to Hilton Head Health, a wellness resort in South Carolina, where she’ll have access to a full range of fitness classes and activities. And when she arrives on March 28, she’ll be fully vaccinated.

Receiving that coveted first shot, she said, wasn’t just a factor in convincing her to book the trip. “It was the whole of the decision,” she said. But even having been immunized, she knows the vaccine is not a magic bullet, and wanted to be sure she was selecting a vacation spot where she trusted sanitation measures and where social distancing would still be possible.

“Hilton Head is a good investment in my own health,” she said, “and it’s a place where I feel I will be safe enough. I’m not going to Rome, you know.”

Older people are more eager to travel in 2021 than other age groups, and also more likely to link the timing of their travel to when they receive their vaccinations, according to a January survey conducted by the travel agency network Virtuoso. In the study, 83 percent of respondents over 77 said they were more ready to travel in 2021 than in 2020, and 95 percent of the same group said they would wait to travel until they received their vaccine (in other age groups, the percentage dipped to 80).

And while some older adults are focusing on short distances and Covid-19 precautions at their destinations when it comes to post-pandemic travel, others are enthusiastically planning to just go big.

“There’s a lot of pent-up desire among seniors, and a sense of life running out,” said Jeff Galak, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. “There’s a theory called mortality salience: When your own mortality is brought to mind, behaviors change. We’re going to see upgrades to better cabins on cruise ships, and booking of better hotels.”

For travelers in their 60s, 70s and 80s, said Conor Goodwin, corporate manager of Charlestowne Hotels, the ticking of the clock is another strong motivation to book as soon as an inoculation makes it safe.

“The 65-plus demographic is losing out on their golden years and they’re understandably eager to get back out there,” he said.

The Bristol Hotel in Virginia, which is part of Charlestowne’s portfolio, saw revenue from travelers over the age of 65 increase 179 percent between Dec. 13 and Jan. 22. The French Quarter Inn, in Charleston, S.C., which is also managed by Charlestowne, saw 11 percent more bookings from people over 65 between Jan. 10 and 28 compared Dec. 22 to Jan 9.

Some older travelers are even opting to finally book those big-ticket dream trips. Fernando Diez, who owns Quasar Expeditions, a luxury cruise operator in the Galápagos Islands, says that in December, when frontline health care workers were among the very first Americans to receive vaccines, he saw a wave of requests for trip information from doctors and nurses.

Since Jan. 1, however, 70 percent of his booking inquiries have come from guests over the age of 65 — in previous years, that number was closer to 40 percent. Most inquiries are for travel from June onward.

“Most of them say they’ve been vaccinated, and they’re comfortable now traveling to a destination like Ecuador and the Galápagos,” Mr. Diez said. “The vaccination gives them the confidence to travel to a remote spot.”

And Lauren Bates, founder and owner of Wild Terrains, a women-only tour operator with itineraries in Mexico, Portugal and Argentina, said she was stunned when bookings in December and January — for trips starting as soon as May 2021 — were 40 percent higher than in January 2020, and three-quarters of the women who booked in that time were over the age of 55.

“We’re seeing a lot of women in their 60s and 70s booking trips with friends,” she said.

Public health experts call for caution, however, reminding seniors that even when they have received both doses of their Covid shots, the recommendations for masking and social distancing remain the same.

“The vaccine is still not 100 percent effective, and if you’re living basically in a sea of virus, it’s good to be very careful even though you’ve been vaccinated,” said Dr. Manfred Green, director of the public health program at the University of Haifa in northern Israel. “We’re still not sure if someone who is vaccinated could acquire the disease without getting sick, meaning the virus would be with them and they could transmit it to someone else.”

And all older travelers should choose destinations where hospitals have not been overburdened by the pandemic, Dr. Green said, because vaccinated or not, older Americans are more likely to suffer from non-Covid-related health issues.

The tourism industry, battered by the pandemic, is now getting a much-needed boost from this new surge. Hotels and resorts, which have faced record-low occupancy throughout the pandemic, are wholeheartedly embracing the fresh wave of travelers, with many rolling out new programming and features geared toward their oldest demographic.

Instructor Peter Rogers, above, teaching aqua yoga at the Marker Key West Harbor Resort. The yoga class, which can relieve joint pain and arthritis, has been popular with older guests.Credit…Mark Hedden for The New York Times

At the Marker Key West Harbor Resort, which sits on two lush acres in the Florida Keys, transactions from guests over the age of 55 were 70 percent higher in January 2021 than in December 2020, translating to a 41 percent increase in spending.

Allie Singer, its director of sales and marketing, said the jump is almost certainly coming from newly vaccinated seniors.

The resort responded by bringing back programming that had taken a hiatus during the pandemic but was popular with older visitors in the past, including aqua yoga — which can relieve joint pain and arthritis — and a 5 p.m. “welcome reception” on the resort’s pool deck with appetizers and live music.

“It’s very attractive to the senior crowd at that hour,” she said.


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Coming Soon: The ‘Vaccine Passport’

Coming Soon: The ‘Vaccine Passport’

In the near future, travel may require digital documentation showing that passengers have been vaccinated or tested for the coronavirus. Answers to your questions.

Credit…Lloyd Miller
Tariro Mzezewa

  • Feb. 4, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

Among governments and those in the travel industry, a new term has entered the vocabulary: vaccine passport.

One of President Biden’s executive orders aimed at curbing the pandemic asks government agencies to “assess the feasibility” of linking coronavirus vaccine certificates with other vaccination documents, and producing digital versions of them.

Denmark’s government said on Wednesday that in the next three to four months, it will roll out a digital passport that will allow citizens to show they have been vaccinated.

It isn’t just governments that are suggesting vaccine passports. In a few weeks, Etihad Airways and Emirates will start using a digital travel pass, developed by the International Air Transport Association, to help passengers manage their travel plans and provide airlines and governments documentation that they have been vaccinated or tested for Covid-19.

The challenge right now is creating a document or app that is accepted around the world, that protects privacy and is accessible to people regardless of their wealth or access to smartphones.

Here’s what we know about the current status of digital vaccine passports.

What is a vaccine pass or passport?

A vaccination pass or passport is documentation proving that you have been vaccinated against Covid-19. Some versions will also allow people to show that they have tested negative for the virus, and therefore can more easily travel. The versions being worked on now by airlines, industry groups, nonprofits and technology companies will be something you can pull up on your mobile phone as an app or part of your digital wallet.

“It’s about trying to digitize a process that happens now and make it into something that allows for more harmony and ease, making it easier for people to travel between countries without having to pull out different papers for different countries and different documents at different checkpoints,” said Nick Careen, senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo and security at I.A.T.A. Mr. Careen has been leading I.A.T.A.’s travel pass initiative.

I.A.T.A. is one of several organizations that have been working on digital solutions to streamline the travel credentialing process for years; during the pandemic, these groups have focused on including vaccination status. The idea is that if you have all the pertinent information on your phone, a significant amount of time will be saved.

In addition to I.A.T.A., IBM has been developing its own Digital Health Pass that would enable individuals to present proof of vaccination or a negative test to gain access to a public location, such as a sports stadium, airplane, university or workplace. The pass, built on IBM’s blockchain technology, can utilize multiple data types, including temperature checks, virus exposure notifications, test results and vaccine status. The World Economic Forum and the Commons Project Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit group, have been testing a digital health passport called CommonPass, which would allow travelers to access testing or vaccination information. The pass would generate a QR code that could be shown to authorities.

Why would I need a vaccine pass or passport?

As more people are inoculated, there will likely be aspects of public life in which only people who have been vaccinated are allowed to participate. Take the upcoming Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Fla., where a significant portion of attendees will be vaccinated health care workers. (Mr. Careen of I.A.T.A. said that sporting organizations, concert venues and tourism agencies have all reached out for identification tech support).

In order to travel internationally, government and health authorities will need to know if you have been vaccinated or have tested negative for the virus. Many countries are already requiring proof of a negative test for entry. Such passes could be essential to restarting the tourism industry, said Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

“One key element vital for the restart of tourism is consistency and harmonization of rules and protocols regarding international travel,” he said in an email. “Evidence of vaccination, for example, through the coordinated introduction of what may be called ‘health passports’ can offer this. They can also eliminate the need for quarantine on arrival, a policy which is also standing in the way of the return of international tourism.”

Dakota Gruener, executive director of ID2020, a global public-private partnership, said that there are three scenarios regarding digital credentialing for the coronavirus response. The first, which is largely off the table, is the creation of immunity certificates. These are documents that would show that people have developed some kind of immunity to the virus. The second scenario is being able to prove you’ve tested negative for the virus; the third is being able to show that you have been vaccinated. The last two scenarios, experts agree, are the most important for getting the travel industry going again.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest from airlines, airline industry groups, customs and border control agencies and travelers, all saying, ‘how do I safely get on a plane or as a condition of entry into a country, get on a train, whatever the case may be, and prove that I have been tested or vaccinated?’” Ms. Gruener said.

Ms. Gruener is one expert in a World Health Organization-sponsored group tasked with establishing global standards for digital vaccination certificates.

For decades, people traveling to certain countries have had to prove that they have been vaccinated against yellow fever, rubella and other diseases. Often, those vaccinated received a signed and stamped “yellow card.”
For decades, people traveling to certain countries have had to prove that they have been vaccinated against yellow fever, rubella and other diseases. Often, those vaccinated received a signed and stamped “yellow card.”Credit…Juan Mabromata/AFP via Getty Images

Has this been done before?

Having to prove you’ve been vaccinated in order to participate in activities or enter certain countries is not a new concept. For decades, people traveling to some countries have had to prove that they have been vaccinated against diseases such as yellow fever, rubella and cholera. Often, after being vaccinated, travelers received a signed and stamped “yellow card,” known as an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still urge people to take on relevant trips.

“Everybody who has traveled internationally to countries that require vaccination against malaria, diphtheria and other things has had yellow cards,” said Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Linux Foundation Public Health, a technology-focused organization helping public health authorities combat Covid-19 around the world. Its focus is helping projects, communities and companies build open-source technology. “Parents with kids in public school have had to prove their kids have been vaccinated. This is not something new.”

But a major difference between the yellow card of years past and what is being worked on now is the digital component, which comes with new concerns around privacy and accessibility. The Linux Foundation is working in partnership with the Covid-19 Credentials Initiative, a collective of more than 300 people from five continents to help develop universal standards for vaccine credential apps that make them accessible and equitable. The foundation is also working with IBM and CommonPass.

“As these things get rolled out, it’s important for citizens to ask governments and airlines: How do we make this easy so I have one vaccination record to book a flight, hotel and so I can use that to do some other things,” Mr. Behlendorf said. “It should work like email. If it doesn’t, agitate for it.”


Covid-19 Vaccines ›


Answers to Your Vaccine Questions

Currently more than 150 million people — almost half the population — are eligible to be vaccinated. But each state makes the final decision about who goes first. The nation’s 21 million health care workers and three million residents of long-term care facilities were the first to qualify. In mid-January, federal officials urged all states to open up eligibility to everyone 65 and older and to adults of any age with medical conditions that put them at high risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from Covid-19. Adults in the general population are at the back of the line. If federal and state health officials can clear up bottlenecks in vaccine distribution, everyone 16 and older will become eligible as early as this spring or early summer. The vaccine hasn’t been approved in children, although studies are underway. It may be months before a vaccine is available for anyone under the age of 16. Go to your state health website for up-to-date information on vaccination policies in your area

You should not have to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine, although you will be asked for insurance information. If you don’t have insurance, you should still be given the vaccine at no charge. Congress passed legislation this spring that bars insurers from applying any cost sharing, such as a co-payment or deductible. It layered on additional protections barring pharmacies, doctors and hospitals from billing patients, including those who are uninsured. Even so, health experts do worry that patients might stumble into loopholes that leave them vulnerable to surprise bills. This could happen to those who are charged a doctor visit fee along with their vaccine, or Americans who have certain types of health coverage that do not fall under the new rules. If you get your vaccine from a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic, talk to them about potential hidden charges. To be sure you won’t get a surprise bill, the best bet is to get your vaccine at a health department vaccination site or a local pharmacy once the shots become more widely available.

Probably not. The answer depends on a number of factors, including the supply in your area at the time you’re vaccinated. Check your state health department website for more information about the vaccines available in your state. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the only two vaccines currently approved, although a third vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is on the way.

That is to be determined. It’s possible that Covid-19 vaccinations will become an annual event, just like the flu shot. Or it may be that the benefits of the vaccine last longer than a year. We have to wait to see how durable the protection from the vaccines is. To determine this, researchers are going to be tracking vaccinated people to look for “breakthrough cases” — those people who get sick with Covid-19 despite vaccination. That is a sign of weakening protection and will give researchers clues about how long the vaccine lasts. They will also be monitoring levels of antibodies and T cells in the blood of vaccinated people to determine whether and when a booster shot might be needed. It’s conceivable that people may need boosters every few months, once a year or only every few years. It’s just a matter of waiting for the data.

Employers do have the right to compel their workers to be vaccinated once a vaccine is formally approved. Many hospital systems, for example, require annual flu shots. But employees can seek exemptions based on medical reasons or religious beliefs. In such cases, employers are supposed to provide a “reasonable accommodation” — with a coronavirus vaccine, for example, a worker might be allowed to work if they wear a mask, or to work from home.

If you have other questions about the coronavirus vaccine, please read our full F.A.Q.

Do vaccine passports have to be digital?

Vaccine passports don’t have to be digital, but they would make the travel process smoother.

“Imagine a future where a plane lands in an airport and a hundred people have a travel pass, 100 have another health wallet, 50 have bits of paper and another 25 have some kind of government document,” said Jamie Smith, senior director of business development at Evernym, a developer that has been working with I.A.T.A. and others on developing a vaccine pass. “What does the airport do? How do they process all those people in a standard, simple way?”

The European Union’s law enforcement agency said this week that sales of fake negative test results are becoming more widespread, another reason the industry is trying to develop digital passes that are secure.

What are the objections to vaccine passports?

In a world where more than a billion people aren’t able to prove their identity because they lack passports, birth certificates, driver’s licenses or national identification cards, digital documents that show vaccine status may heighten inequality and risk, leaving many people behind. That concern has been at the heart of Ms. Gruener’s work.

“Long predating Covid, we were working on the intersection of digital credentials and immunization,” she said. “It’ll be years before vaccines are universally available on a global level and thus widespread testing is going to continue and must continue alongside vaccination to enable a safe and equitable return to travel and other public activities.”

For those without smartphones, the industry says it will accept paper proof, but even that needs to be standardized.

In addition, there are concerns about privacy and data sharing.

“There are ways this could be done right or done terribly wrong and the wrong ways could lead us to a techno dystopia,” said Jenny Wanger, director of programs at the Linux Foundation, adding that it’s important that the tech-building aspect of these apps be done in the open and doesn’t end up in the control of any one government or company. The technology should be open source and accessible to technologists, no matter who they are or where they are, she and others said.

What are the challenges to creating these digital passes?

Technologists and travel industry experts said that although it is possible to rush tech solutions that allow people to have one-use apps, creating long-lasting ethical technology or systems that will not store people’s data, or make it possible to track where they are, takes time.

“The global passport system took 50 years to develop,” said Drummond Reed, chief trust officer for Evernym. “Even when they wanted to add biometrics to that to make it stronger, that took over a decade to agree on just how you’re going to add a fingerprint or a facial biometric to be verified on a passport. Now, in a very short period of time, we need to produce a digital credential that can be as universally recognized as a passport and it needs an even greater level of privacy because it’s going to be digital.”


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How to Pretend You’re in Tunis Tonight

Panorama La Medina, a rooftop cafe in Tunis, offers some of the best views of the old city.
Panorama La Medina, a rooftop cafe in Tunis, offers some of the best views of the old city.Credit…Sebastian Modak/The New York Times

How to Pretend You’re in Tunis Tonight

The Tunisian capital beckons with white-sand beaches, the medina, cafe districts and Roman ruins that speak to its place in history. Luckily, there are ways to capture its spirit at home.

Panorama La Medina, a rooftop cafe in Tunis, offers some of the best views of the old city.Credit…Sebastian Modak/The New York Times

Sebastian Modak

  • Jan. 12, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

While your travel plans may be on hold, you can pretend you’re somewhere new for the night. Around the World at Home invites you to channel the spirit of a new place each week with recommendations on how to explore the culture, all from the comfort of your home.

There are worse places to be lost than the old medina of Tunis, a dizzying labyrinth of ancient alleyways. As I discovered on my visit to the Tunisian capital, there is so much to look at: the vendors doling out spices, the cats watching the afternoon pass from sun-soaked stoops, the groups of friends sitting around crowded tables and sipping mint tea. You might pass the open window of a traditional music school and hear snippets of a haunting song hundreds of years old or, out of another storefront, the thump of techno music accompanying an experimental art exhibition.

From left: Shopping in the old medina of Tunis, swimming at a Carthage beach, and the ruins of ancient Carthage.
From left: Shopping in the old medina of Tunis, swimming at a Carthage beach, and the ruins of ancient Carthage.Credit… Andy Haslam for The New York Times (left and far right); Mohamed Messara/EPA, via Shutterstock (center)

It is hard to believe that all of this exists in just one corner of a sprawling, cosmopolitan and complex city on the tip of North Africa. Elsewhere, there are nightclubs that spill out onto white-sand beaches, cafe districts that wouldn’t be out of place in southern Europe, and Roman ruins that speak to its place in history as a gateway to Africa and a center of Mediterranean commerce. It is a lot to take in over a single visit, and I am looking forward to my next one. In the meantime, I will be following these tips to make it feel as if I am back in Tunis, even if just for a night.

Cook with harissa

Tunisian cuisine is sometimes hearty, other times delicate. It can be spicy, but is not afraid of a little sweetness. It is also brimming with history. Arabs, Romans, Sicilians, Byzantines, Berbers and more have all, at one point or another, called this land on the Mediterranean home, and that is all on display come mealtime. Rafram Chaddad, an artist and food researcher, spends much of his time tracing that history, with a special interest in the food culture of Tunisian Jews like his own family. He consulted multiple old recipes to come up with this one, for a pan-fried sea bass with dried rose petals and harissa, a ubiquitous hot chile paste. Featured in Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s “Jerusalem,” a collection of recipes from around the world that converge in that city, Mr. Chaddad’s recipe highlights the importance of seafood to Tunis’s food scene.

A Tunisian woman preparing harissa.Credit…Mohamed Messara/EPA, via Shutterstock

“Fish in the Tunisian sea are special,” said Mr. Chaddad, who grew up in Jerusalem and recently returned to Tunis, pointing out that the hot temperatures and shallow depths make for a special flavor. “The seafood here is kissed by the sun.” While you might not be able to get your hands on bona fide Tunisian sea bass, the flavors — the way the spiciness of the harissa plays with the perfumes of the rose petals — are evocative enough of the city’s cuisine.

Make sure the egg is runny

For a snack, Mr. Chaddad recommends brik a l’oeuf, a deep-fried cousin to the dumpling, filled with some combination of tuna, potatoes, onions, capers, harissa (because of course), and, the star, a runny egg yolk that will drip all over your plate at the very first bite. His recipe, also included in “Jerusalem,” was featured in a write-up from the travel website Roads and Kingdoms, alongside an iteration from a Tunisian grandmother. Sarah Souli, a journalist whose associations with Tunisia’s capital are closely linked to visits with her grandmother, told me that she wouldn’t dare try it on her own, even if she encourages others who want a taste of Tunis to do so.

“I don’t cook brik at home because I think longing is an important part of loving,” Ms. Souli said. “I’ll wait till I can go back to Tunis and Memeti, my grandmother, makes me one.”

From left: Tastes of Tunis, including a traditionally prepared couscous dish, fish at a market and sweets.Credit…Photographs by Fethi Belaid/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Or put in an order

If the thought of cooking up your own Tunisian pastries is too daunting and you happen to be in the United States, you can order a box of them. Layla’s Delicacies, based in New Jersey, ships boxes of pastries across the country to Tunisians who miss the taste of home.

“Traditionally made by hand at home, Tunisian pastries are made with the noblest ingredients, and take an incredible amount of time and attention to detail,” said Rim Ben Amara, the company’s founder.

While the pastries are most common at gatherings, there’s no shame in digging into a box on your own. For something that you would come across in Tunis, try kaak warka, a doughnut-shaped treat filled with almond paste and rose water, or samsa, a triangle-shaped sweet pastry encrusted with pistachios and filled with almonds and hazelnuts.

The Bardo Museum, a converted mansion, houses one of the largest collections of Roman murals in the world.Credit…Sebastian Modak/The New York Times

Take a museum tour

Tunis is brimming with history: the mausoleums of the medina that have remained unchanged for centuries; the Roman ruins at the original site of Carthage, in the city’s northeastern suburbs; and the Bardo Museum, a sprawling 19th-century palace that is home to one of the largest collections of Roman mosaics in the world. While there is nothing like seeing them in person, you can get a sense of the scale and craftsmanship of the ancient artwork through a virtual tour that allows you to roam the palace’s halls at your own pace.

But don’t forget the contemporary art scene

You also should get a sense of the contemporary art scene, which can be found in art galleries and pop-up events across the city. Dora Dalila Cheffi, a Finnish-Tunisian artist, paints brightly-colored tableaus, often inspired by the city she now calls home. Some of her work can be viewed online. Scenes from across the city are interspersed with more esoteric interpretations of Tunisian life.

“The slow pace of life, light and general atmosphere are great for the type of work I do,” she said, describing how her work has evolved over time. “There is less scenery now, but that doesn’t mean that the work doesn’t talk about life in Tunisia. If anything, it does so even more.”

Ms. Cheffi also recommends transporting yourself to the city through the work of a street art duo, ST4 the project. Their work can be seen not only in Tunis but also in other cities around the world, as they weave homegrown influences into their work to create connections across borders. “They use Arabic lettering and, as the work evolves, the letters transform more and more into an abstract and universal language,” Ms. Cheffi said.

Sidi Bou Said, a scenic town on the outskirts of Tunis, is popular with tourists for its white and blue buildings and views of the Mediterranean. Credit…Andy Haslam for The New York Times

Get cozy

While the fouta, a handwoven towel, has its roots in the hammam, or public bathhouses, and are commonplace today along Tunisia’s beaches, they’re just as useful as a cozy throw at home. Fouta Harissa works with artisans who spend hours spinning the cotton towels on looms that have been passed down through generations.

“I always pack a few when I travel — to give as gifts (along with a jar of harissa), and also as my one-and-done accessory,” said Fouta Harissa’s co-founder, Lamia Hatira. “It’s a wrap, a sarong, a beach towel or a blanket depending on my destination.” It’s a versatile accessory — even when that destination is your living room couch.

From left: The old British Embassy in Tunis, which has been converted into a hotel, the Royal Victoria; the rapper 4lLFA performing in Gammarth, a suburb; and the Tunis medina.Credit…Andy Haslam for The New York Times (left); Sebastian Modak/The New York Times (center and far right)

Wind down with some music

Finally, it is time to unplug with the sounds of Tunis. For an introduction to Tunisian music, check out this radio broadcast, featuring a wide survey of traditional genres and an interview with a Tunisian percussionist. If it is current sounds you are after, Emily Sarsam, a cultural programmer in Tunis and one of the hosts of the aforementioned radio show, recommends “Lila Fi Tounes” by Deena Abdelwahed, an experimental and electronic rendition of the jazz standard “A Night in Tunisia.”

Ms. Sarsam, along with Ms. Cheffi, also recommends the work of Souhayl Guesmi, a composer who releases music under the name Ratchopper. A frequent collaborator with some of Tunisia’s biggest rappers, his solo albums are ethereal and full of barely contained energy — much like the city of Tunis itself.


How are you going to channel the spirit of Tunis in your home? Share your ideas in the comments.

To keep up with upcoming articles in this series, sign up for our At Home newsletter or follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. See more Around the World at Home guides here.

How to Pretend You’re in Cartagena Today

Restaurants around San Diego Plaza in Cartagena. At left is the School of Fine Arts of Cartagena, once a church and a monastery built in 1608.
Restaurants around San Diego Plaza in Cartagena. At left is the School of Fine Arts of Cartagena, once a church and a monastery built in 1608.Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

How to Pretend You’re in Cartagena Today

The Colombian port city, home to the trademark sounds and dances of the region, is so full of magic that it has inspired entire books by Gabriel García Márquez.

Restaurants around San Diego Plaza in Cartagena. At left is the School of Fine Arts of Cartagena, once a church and a monastery built in 1608.Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

Sebastian Modak

  • Jan. 5, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

While your travel plans may be on hold, you can pretend you’re somewhere new for the night. Around the World at Home invites you to channel the spirit of a new place each week with recommendations on how to explore the culture, all from the comfort of your home.

On a clear day, from the 17th-century La Popa Convent on the crest of a 500-foot hill, the view of Cartagena can trigger mild vertigo. Slowly, using the skyline as your guidepost to the Colombian port city, you can begin to get your bearings. That improbable cluster of skyscrapers is Bocagrande, a neighborhood where beach resorts share space with gleaming office towers. Next in the panorama is the walled old city, where narrow alleyways connect colonial-era churches with brightly colored shops and restaurants. In between the two neighborhoods is another: Getsemani, unremarkable from afar but, on closer inspection, a veritable street art gallery exploding with creative energy.

Scenes from Cartagena, from left: the defensive walls surrounding the historic center; the lively restaurant scene in San Diego Plaza; and a tranquil sea view.
Scenes from Cartagena, from left: the defensive walls surrounding the historic center; the lively restaurant scene in San Diego Plaza; and a tranquil sea view.Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times (left and center); David Freid for The New York Times

From high up, it can be hard to tell, but this is a city so full of magic that it inspired entire books by the Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez; even after he settled in Mexico City, he continued to keep a house here. Maybe that’s because Cartagena’s magic leaves an indelible mark in your memory, even as it fuels your imagination. I still remember my first visit, over 20 years ago, as part of a bigger trip to my mother’s home country. In my mind’s eye, the blue of that sea under the bright Caribbean sun is bluer than anything I’ve seen since.

Cartagena has long been a top stop for international visitors to Colombia. The city managed to escape the worst of the country’s drug-related violence, though it continues to struggle with issues of police brutality and racial inequities.

People come to the city for glimpses of its history; it was once one of Spain’s most lucrative (and extractive) global outposts. But they end up falling in love with much more: the nightclubs that buzz until the early hours of the morning with musicians from across the region; the seafood and fried treats; and the less tangible ways it unlocks creativity. There will come a time when we can experience the city on the ground again, but in the meantime there are a few approaches to channeling the city’s magic from the comfort of home.

Driving by the fortress walls of Cartagena’s old city.Credit…Joaquin Sarmiento/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Get a taste of magical realism

According to the Cartagenera novelist Margarita García Robayo, it is impossible not to draw connections between her hometown and the books of Gabriel Gárcia Márquez, who died in 2014. “If you have read García Márquez, there is no way you can go to Cartagena and not hear all the alarm bells of recognition,” said Ms. García Robayo, whose collection “Fish Soup” includes explorations of life on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

Many people don’t realize how influential the city of Cartagena, where Mr. Gárcia Márquez worked for a time as a journalist, was to his writing. Some of his most imaginative scenes — men with giant wings, blood that can move up staircases, ghosts more prone to conversing than haunting — seem less far-fetched when you have spent a day lost in the city’s sun-dappled, cobblestone streets. And reading his books will bring you right into those streets, magic and all. It is why the author said he was more concerned with truth than fantasy. “The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination,” Mr. García Márquez told The Paris Review in 1981. For something directly related to the city, start with one of the author’s most celebrated novels, “Love in the Time of Cholera.” Despite the fact that the city in the book is never named, you will find whispers of Cartagena throughout.

From left: a dancer in Plaza de Bolivar; the nightclub Cafe Havana that often features live salsa music; and drummers in the nearby town of San Basilio de Palenque.Credit…From left, Robert Caplin for The New York Times; David Freid for The New York Times; Kike Calvo/Associated Press

Get an education in champeta

“Cartagena is a city full of sound,” Ms. Gárcia Robayo told me. “The people speak in shouts, music blares at deafening volumes and always, always there is laughter in the background.” That’s a lot to recreate in your living room, but here’s where to start: champeta, the Afro-Colombian dance music that blares from picós, or brightly colored sound systems set up on street corners across the city. The lyrics are sung in Spanish and Palenquero, a Spanish-based Creole spoken in the nearby town of San Basilio de Palenque, the first free African settlement in the Americas. Melodies were originally derived from the dance music of South Africa, Congo and Ghana, which showed up on the docks of Cartagena and Barranquilla in the hands of West African sailors in the 1970s and ’80s. Once stigmatized and associated with delinquency — an outlook born from centuries of colonialism, racism and inequality — in recent years, champeta has begun to take its rightful place as the trademark sound of the Colombian Caribbean.

To feel like you are having a night out in Cartagena, put on the kind of songs you would hear at nightclubs like Bazurto Social Club or at pop-up picós away from the tourists, outside the walled city. Start with this tailor-made playlist, featuring some big names in champeta and related genres. If you are feeling particularly ambitious, try your hand at the accompanying champeta dance moves.

Take a virtual music tour

Of course, champeta isn’t the only style of music you will hear in Cartagena, so to get a fuller immersion into the sounds of Colombia that converge in the city’s streets sign up for a virtual tour. Impulse Travel, a Colombian tour agency that works with community organizations, is offering a virtual version of its “Sounds of Colombia” tour, condensing the 8-day trip into an hourlong virtual experience, which they are offering on-demand.

“We were lucky to have captured a lot of footage and high-quality audio recordings from the trips we had made in the past,” Rodrigo Atuesta, Impulse Travel’s chief executive told me. “So we put together a virtual experience to make people travel through the soundscape of this unique trip.” You might not be dancing at sunset to the sound of an accordion or watching craftspeople carve traditional flutes, but squint (and sip enough Dictador Rum as an accompaniment) and you might think you are.

Recipes from New York Times Cooking, from left: Colombian beef and potato empanadas, Colombian-style chicken, short rib; and potato stew and Colombian corn and cheese arepas.Credit…Johnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Rebecca Jurkevic (left and far right); Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times (center)

Dance while you cook

Cartagena is among the best places in the country to try Colombian cuisine, a hearty and delicious fusion of African, Indigenous and Spanish culinary traditions. While there are a number of dishes over at New York Times Cooking to try, why not get cooking with the help of a local, to really feel like you are there? And, because we are talking about Cartagena here, this cooking class comes with music.

Foodies, a Colombian food tour company, is offering an online “Arepas and Dancing” experience, where guests will learn how to make arepas, a pancake-like delight made from corn, accompanied by a killer soundtrack. You will try your hand at arepa de huevo, a yellow arepa stuffed with egg and ground beef, and a white arepa with anise. In Cartagena, arepas de huevo (or empanadas de huevo, as they are sometimes confusingly called) are found everywhere across the city, including at the picós. So, to make you feel like you really are taking a break from the champeta blaring out of sound systems, Foodies has a playlist to accompany the whole process.

Palenqueras, Afro-Caribbean women from nearby San Basilio de Palenque, the first free African settlement in the Americas, sell fruit common to the region.Credit…David Freid for The New York Times

Finish off with something sweet

You have navigated the twists of Cartagena through the written word, danced to the stomach-churning bass of champeta music, and tried your hand at a local specialty. Now it is time to wind down with some dessert. Cocadas are little coconut-based treats found throughout Latin America. But for some of the best, you have to go to Cartagena and seek out the palenqueras, the Afro-Caribbean women from San Basilio de Palenque who have the confections down to an art.

AfroLatinx Travel, a tour company that focuses on Latin America’s African heritage, is offering an online cocada-making presentation with María Miranda, a Cartagena-based cocada master. Along with an introduction to a rich culinary heritage, Ms. Miranda’s class offers a reminder of our responsibilities as tourists, virtual or otherwise, the need for respect as visitors and the underlying trauma that permeates Cartagena’s history.

“In Cartagena, we often see these women in their brightly colored dresses and their products for sale,” the experience’s description reads. “However, do we see them beyond their colonial style dress and products for sale? These are real women. These Black women have fought to remain in spaces that have despised their presence. These women are not tourist attractions.”

A pedestrian walks along a street in the old walled city of Cartagena. In the background is the iconic Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Saint Catherine of Alexandria. Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

How are you going to channel the spirit of Cartagena in your home? Share your ideas in the comments.

To keep up with upcoming articles in this series, sign up for our At Home newsletter or follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. See more Around the World at Home guides here.

How to Pretend You’re in Quebec City Tonight

A toboggan slide runs along the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace toward the castlelike Fairmont le Château Frontenac in Québec City.
A toboggan slide runs along the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace toward the castlelike Fairmont le Château Frontenac in Québec City.Credit…Renaud Philippe for The New York Times

How to Pretend You’re in Quebec City Tonight

As the song goes, there’s no place like home for the holidays. Wherever you are, you can embrace the coziness of the season like Québécois do.

A toboggan slide runs along the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace toward the castlelike Fairmont le Château Frontenac in Québec City.Credit…Renaud Philippe for The New York Times

  • Dec. 22, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

While your travel plans may be on hold, you can pretend you’re somewhere new for the night. Around the World at Home invites you to channel the spirit of a new place each week with recommendations on how to explore the culture, all from the comfort of your home.

When the snow falls and the wind howls, the people of Quebec City don’t hibernate. Rather, they bundle up and celebrate with one of the most picturesque winter carnivals in the world. Overlooking the St. Lawrence River, with cobblestone streets and quaint stone houses, Old Quebec looks like an enchanted snow globe village — especially at Christmastime. In fact, the historic district of this former French colony is a UNESCO World Heritage site, thanks in part to it being the only city in North America to have preserved its ramparts.

From left; In Quebec City, winter pleasures include strolling the 400-year-old city's streets, views of the St.-Jean-Baptiste area and snow bathers with Bonhomme. the official representative of the Quebec Winter Carnival, earlier this year.
From left; In Quebec City, winter pleasures include strolling the 400-year-old city’s streets, views of the St.-Jean-Baptiste area and snow bathers with Bonhomme. the official representative of the Quebec Winter Carnival, earlier this year.Credit…From left, Christinne Muschi for The New York Times; Renaud Philippe for The New York Times; Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press, via Associated Press

If I were there I’d be taking in sweeping river views from the promenade known as Dufferin Terrace and the Fairmont le Château Frontenac, the castlelike hotel where Alfred Hitchcock filmed scenes for “I Confess.” In the evening, I’d stroll amid evergreens and twinkling string lights on the Rue Petit-Champlain and stop into Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, one of the oldest stone churches in North America. Hours would be spent ice skating, warming up at an outdoor fire pit and refueling with hearty fare like poutine and tourtière (meat pie) from beloved restaurants.

But as the song goes, there’s no place like home for the holidays. Wherever you happen to be, you can embrace the coziness of the season like Québécois do — with maple syrup-inspired recipes, craft beer, outdoor pursuits and good cheer — even if a single snowflake never falls.

Le Projet Spécialité Microbrasseries, a bar in Quebec City, is known for its craft ciders and beers.Credit…Renaud Philippe for The New York Times

Cook up comfort with meat and maple syrup

“Blast some cheesy Celine Dion song on your iPhone at earsplitting decibels, find a good recipe for poutine — that trouser-busting dish of French fries, Cheddar cheese curds and gravy — and, if you are in chillier climes, go outside and build a snowman,” advises Dan Bilefsky, the Canada correspondent for The Times. Born in Quebec, Mr. Bilefsky has written about the “cultural skirmish over who deserves credit” for poutine: Québécois — or the rest of Canada. Happily, all you have to decide is which poutine recipe to make. Try one from Saveur, CBC/Radio-Canada, or Chuck Hughes, the co-owner and executive chef of Montreal’s Garde Manger and Le Bremner.

From left, a classic poutine, tartine au sucre and tourtière.Credit…From left, Alexi Hobbs for The New York Times; Craig Lee for The New York Times; Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Jerrie-Joy.

“Québécois culture is defined by a certain cowboy excess when it comes to food,” as Mr. Bilefsky put it in an email. Cook up comfort with a New York Times Cooking recipe for a savory tourtière, or one for maple-roasted rack of venison from the celebrated Canadian chef Martin Picard of Au Pied de Cochon (often credited with reimagining poutine with foie gras). Be inspired by First Nations cuisine with chef Martin Gagné’s venison carpaccio with cedar jelly and sea buckthorn jam. And turn to chefs David McMillan and Frédéric Morin, owners of the acclaimed Joe Beef in Montreal, for more recipes in “The Art of Living According to Joe Beef” cookbook.

For dessert, fill your kitchen with the scent of maple syrup pie. Though why stop there? Bake maple syrup-soaked doughnut holes or maple tarte tartin with sweet recipes from Mr. Picard, who also created Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack where the essential ingredient is — what else?— maple syrup.

Host your own winter carnival

Take part in some typical Quebec Winter Carnival activities from your hometown (though perhaps skip the local tradition of ax-throwing). Make snow sculptures and go sledding or snowshoeing. Not living in a winter wonderland? You can string up white fairy lights, sing “Au Royaume du Bonhomme Hiver” with Renée Martel (to the tune of “Winter Wonderland”), and savor the Carnival grog, a hot, usually alcoholic drink. A recipe to make some at home with maple syrup, cranberry juice, cinnamon, cloves and sweet grass is on the Quebec Winter Carnival website.

A view of the Château Frontenac.Credit…Alice Chiche/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Parlez français

On days it’s too cold to linger outdoors, learn or brush up on your French, the official language of government in Quebec (and a delicate subject in a majority French-speaking province surrounded by English speakers). Stick to your budget with “Want to Learn French? Italian? Russian? There’s No Time Like the Present” for language tools that are free or won’t break the bank.

Get cozy with a stack of detective novels

What better way to spend long winter nights than with intrigue and mystery set in a small Quebec hamlet? Light a fire, real or virtual, crack open one of Louise Penny’s best-selling detective novels and spend the evening with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec police force. In the most recent book, “All the Devils Are Here,” published this fall, the inspector heads to Paris. But the 15 books in the Gamache series that precede it are steeped in the culture and cuisine of Quebec (with the occasional murder), beginning with “Still Life.”

From left, still images from the films “Matthias and Maxime,” “And the Birds Rained Down” and “Antigone.”Credit…From left, Mubi; Films Outsiders; ACPAV

Spend movie night with directors from Quebec

Keep au courant with Canada’s Top Ten, the Toronto International Film Festival’s annual list of the country’s best films (10 features and 10 shorts). The 2019 selections include several from Quebec directors such as Louise Archambault, whose “And the Birds Rained Down” (“Il Pleuvait des Oiseaux”) is about older hermits living in the wild and a love that blossoms there; and Sophie Deraspe’s “Antigone,” a riff on Sophocles’ tragedy centered on an immigrant family in Montreal (it won best Canadian feature at the Toronto International Film Festival). Also on the list is “Matthias and Maxime” from the writer and director Xavier Dolan, the Cannes Film Festival regular who shared the Jury Prize in 2014 for his film “Mommy” with the French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. (The 2020 list was recently posted online.)

Sing along with Celine Dion

For a road trip across Quebec in 2018, Mr. Bilefsky, the Times correspondent, made a playlist of songs that he felt embodied Québécois identity and would also provide an atmospheric soundtrack to the province’s landscapes. There was music from Samian, an Indigenous rapper who sings in French and Algonquin; Leonard Cohen; Éric Lapointe; Les Cowboys Fringants; the Dead Obies; and Arcade Fire. Obviously, Celine Dion, born in Charlemagne, Quebec, was on the list with “Destin.” After all, you haven’t really sung Celine until you’ve done so in French.

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, center, and Fresque des Québécois, right.Credit…Catherine Côté for The New York Times

Wander galleries from your living room

Step inside Quebec City’s art galleries like Galerie Perreault, where you can browse works by contemporary artists as well as Canadian masters. Or take a virtual tour of the gallery. Discover Canadian Inuit sculptures through the Galerie Art Inuit Brousseau’s Instagram account. And stroll around town with photos of public artworks from Quebec City Tourism. You won’t even need to pull on your snow boots.

How are you going to channel the spirit of Quebec City in your home? Share your ideas in the comments.

To keep up with upcoming articles in this series, sign up for our At Home newsletter or follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. See more Around the World at Home guides here.


Stephanie Rosenbloom, the author of “Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude” (Viking), has been writing travel, business and styles features for The Times for nearly two decades. Twitter: @Stephronyt. Instagram: @StephanieRosenbloom

What to Consider Before You Travel

Traveling? Be Prepared to Quarantine

If you’re thinking of traveling in the coming weeks, here’s what to think about first.

Credit…Melanie Lambrick
Sara Aridi

By

  • Dec. 5, 2020, 11:01 p.m. ET

Though the number of air travelers topped one million on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, many Americans opted not to travel for the holiday. (The equivalent number a year ago, 2019’s biggest travel day, was more than 2.8 million). But even as coronavirus cases continue to surge, the winter holidays and breaks from school may have more people contemplating taking some time away from home in the coming weeks.

Making that choice could require you to quarantine both before you leave and once you get back (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its quarantine guidance, suggesting a seven-day quarantine followed by a negative test or a 10-day quarantine without testing if a person does not develop symptoms).

If you’re contemplating a trip, here’s what to think about before you leave.

Check your state’s travel restrictions.

State travel regulations aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus are changing by the day.

As of Dec. 4, California is encouraging domestic travelers arriving in the state to quarantine for two weeks. Massachusetts is requiring residents returning from almost every state to complete a form before arrival and quarantine for two weeks afterward. Those who arrive with a negative result from a Covid-19 test administered up to 72 hours before entering the state can forgo quarantine. Travelers who fail to comply may face a $500 fine per day.

New York requires a 14-day quarantine for those who leave the state for more than 24 hours and are returning from states and territories that are not contiguous with New York or from certain high-risk countries. Travelers can “test out” of the quarantine if they receive a negative test result within three days before their return, quarantine for three days upon arrival plus take another test on the fourth day that comes back negative.

Even if your state doesn’t have such requirements, Dr. Lin Chen, the president of the International Society of Travel Medicine and the travel clinic director at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Mass., said it’s safest to take tests before and after a trip. If you’re flying, you may get infected in transit. Plus, about 40 percent of people who test positive for the virus may never show symptoms, Dr. Chen said, and tests aren’t always reliable.

“I would still want everybody to be careful and take all the precautions,” she added. “It doesn’t mean that with a negative test, one should take off the mask.”

If you will have to take a test upon returning from your trip, the Department of Health and Human Services website has a list of testing sites in each state.

Find out your employer’s requirements.

Employers can take certain precautions to keep their workplaces safe during the pandemic. If you have been working in a shared workplace and are traveling, ask your company what is expected of you upon returning. (Some companies may even ask their employees not to travel at all if it isn’t essential.)

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an employer may ask its employees to stay home until it’s clear they don’t have the coronavirus if they have traveled to certain locations flagged by the C.D.C. or local health officials. New Hampshire, for instance, encourages employers to ask employees if they have made any nonessential trips outside of the state and a few surrounding states. Employees who have must quarantine at home for two weeks before returning to work. They can cut that period short if, on their seventh day back, they are asymptomatic and take a test that comes back negative.

Ask your employer if post-travel quarantine would fall under paid sick leave. You may be eligible for it under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, an emergency measure passed in March by the federal government. But the act covers only two weeks of paid sick leave to eligible employees, and it may be of better use in the event that you contract the virus. Thirteen states and Washington, D.C., have laws that require paid sick leave for eligible employees, but you should research whether quarantine qualifies for paid leave under those specific laws.

If you have to return to work immediately after your trip and don’t have the option of telecommuting, you may want to consider canceling your plans. Similarly, if your children have been attending school in person, check if they will be allowed back in the classroom if you travel.

Secure essentials …

If you will have to quarantine for two weeks after your trip, stock up on groceries, hygiene products and other essentials before traveling (and be aware that some retailers are putting limits on items that proved hard to get during the early days of the pandemic, like toilet paper and paper towels). It never hurts to have plenty of shelf staples in your kitchen. If you can secure an advance delivery time, set up deliveries with online services like Instacart, Shipt or AmazonFresh to have groceries delivered from local stores upon your return. Or use food delivery apps like Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats, which are available in hundreds of cities.

… and entertainment.

Think of how you’re going to unwind and fight off cabin fever. Plenty of classic holiday movies, including “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Elf,” are available to stream online.

While the internet offers no shortage of shows, movies, TikTok videos and the like, you may want to have analog distractions to get a break from screens. Order a few books online that can greet you at your doorstep when you return. Buy puzzles to solve with your whole family. Children may enjoy creating holiday-themed arts and crafts projects — order kits ahead of time. And board games like Risk and Dungeons & Dragons can keep you busy for hours.

During the pandemic, Kristin Addis, the chief executive of Be My Travel Muse, a company that helps women travel solo, has quarantined at home in Nevada a few times after visiting French Polynesia, Mexico and Aruba. She passed the time by practicing yoga and Pilates and video chatting with friends and familiy. “I kind of do the things that I did during lockdown to stay sane,” she said.

Have a contingency plan.

Know what to do in case you contract the virus during your trip. Will you be able to extend your Airbnb or hotel and reschedule any transportation that involves being with other people? If you’re sharing a household with others and fall ill, self-isolate in one room and have someone leave your meals and other essentials outside your door. If you have the option, designate one bathroom to yourself.

If you don’t have enough room to self isolate during the entire quarantine period, the C.D.C. recommends separating from others as much as possible. Always maintain six feet of distance, disinfect shared surfaces, such as kitchen counters and bathroom sinks, and open the windows to circulate fresh air. If you have to share a bedroom with someone else, the C.D.C. suggests placing a divider such as a shower curtain or quilt between you and the other person, and sleeping in inverse directions. Caregivers should also quarantine for two weeks after the ill person ends self-isolation.

How to Pretend You’re in Tokyo

While your travel plans may be on hold, you can pretend you’re somewhere new for the night. Around the World at Home invites you to channel the spirit of a new place each week with recommendations on how to explore the culture, all from the comfort of your home.

A few years ago, I walked through Tokyo’s neon-lit streets for the first time, wide-eyed and jet-lagged. It only took three days to learn some of the city’s secrets. If you can’t find the perfect noodle shop for lunch, for example, look up and you will see another dozen options, filling the upper floors of what you thought were office buildings. Or that famous places — like Shibuya Crossing, the intersection you’ve seen in 100 timelapses — are famous for a reason, but there’s so much more to learn by picking a metro stop at random and going for a long walk.

This was supposed to be a big year for tourism for the city — already one of the world’s most visited — as it was set to host the now postponed Olympics and Paralympic Games. That, of course, did not happen.

With most of the world still confined to their homes, that Tokyo trip will have to wait for the millions of people who canceled flights and hotel bookings. In the meantime, there are ways to capture the spirit of a sometimes impenetrable, always fascinating, city. Perhaps, just for a night, these recommendations might even make you feel like you are there.

From left, the Asakusa Hoppy Street, commuters on the morning train, and a view of Tokyo from the Skytree.
From left, the Asakusa Hoppy Street, commuters on the morning train, and a view of Tokyo from the Skytree.Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times (left and center); Andrew Faulk for The New York Times

Hear the city

I first met Kazuto Okawa, who performs under the name LLLL, outside a convenience store in the quirky neighborhood of Koenji on my first night in Tokyo. He was sitting on a curb in a circle of friends, his face obscured by long, disheveled hair. Over the years since that first encounter, his music — a blend of sugary pop hooks and space-age soundscapes — has become synonymous with the city for me. If those conflicting feelings of disorientation and joy that hit every visitor to Tokyo could be translated to sound, this would be it.

When I asked Mr. Okawa what music best captures his home city, he directed me to the classics. The musician Keigo Oyamada, better known as Cornelius, is sometimes reductively called the “Japanese Beck” for the way he swoops between genres with ease. Every album is a journey, but for the most evocative of the city, Mr. Okawa suggests his 1995 album “69/96.” “It’s forever futuristic,” he said. “A perfect match to Tokyo.”

If Cornelius is too out there for you, Mr. Okawa recommends “Kazemachi Roman” by Tokyo folk rock pioneers Happy End: you may recognize a song from the soundtrack to that great tribute to Tokyo, “Lost in Translation.”

To begin understanding the phenomenon that is Tokyo’s J-pop scene, Mr. Okawa says to start with Sheena Ringo’s “Kabukicho no joou.” “It captures the dark side of the city,” he said. “And it happens to be one of the most popular J-pop songs of all time.” For the flip side of the same pop coin — perhaps it’s a more lively summer night you are trying to recreate — he recommends Taeko Ohnuki’s aptly titled “Sunshower.”

The lunch crowd at a Tokyo restaurant. Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times
From left, crisp nori chips with toasted sesame oil, spring chicken miso soup, and yakitori chicken with ginger, garlic and soy sauce.Credit…From left, Evan Sung for The New York Times; Romulo Yanes for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Vivian Lui; Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Cook at the dinner table

No trip to Tokyo is complete without a whole lot of eating. While it may be hard to accurately recreate a bona fide Tokyo bowl of ramen or plate of sushi, there is plenty that you can do from home.

Head to New York Times Cooking for a selection of quick and easy dishes, from yakitori (yes, you really can make it at home) to nori chips (perfect with a cold Japanese lager).

For something more involved, and seasonally appropriate, follow the lead of Motoko Rich, The Times’ Tokyo bureau chief. “With the weather getting cooler, it’s time to break out the butane burner for shabu shabu, a classic Japanese dinner that you can make and eat right at the table,” she said.

First, make a kombu dashi, a broth flavored with dried kelp, then take beef, tofu, vegetables and mushrooms and dip them into the bubbling liquid, making sure to swirl in the ingredients long enough that they cook through. “Although we can cook shabu shabu at home, it also reminds me of fancier mid-20th century-era restaurants in Tokyo, where the servers wear kimonos and carry regal platters to the tables.” Ms. Rich recommends this recipe from Just One Cookbook.

Nakano backstreets near Nakano Beer Kobo.Credit…Andrew Faulk for The New York Times

Expand your literary horizons

If you want to lose yourself in Tokyo by curling up with a good book, we have plenty of recommendations, whether it is a long work of fiction you are after or more snackable short stories. There is more — a lot more — than Haruki Murakami. Ms. Rich recommends “Breasts and Eggs” by Mieko Kawakami. “I love the way Kawakami references real and recognizable, but not exoticized, Tokyo locations,” she said. “You feel in the know, reading it, rather than as if you are being introduced to a precious Other World. It is Tokyo as it is lived in, not a film set.”

Fron left, scenes from “Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories,” “Shoplifters,” and “Tokyo Drifter.”Credit…From left, Netflix; Magnolia Pictures; Nikkatsu

See the city on the screen

If an evening of TV and subtitles is what you are after, start with the binge-worthyMidnight Diner: Tokyo Stories” on Netflix. The show is about the customers who pass through a tiny counter-service restaurant that is only open from midnight to 6. At turns heartwarming, hilarious and melancholic, it is a moving portrait of Tokyo after dark. If the opening title sequence doesn’t make you feel good, check your pulse: it is ASMR for the soul.

When it comes to movies, as Mike Hale, a Times’ television critic, said, “Tokyo is simultaneously the most cosmopolitan and the most intensely local city you can imagine, and that’s a perfect combination for storytelling, as directors from Kurosawa to Kiarostami to Sofia Coppola have shown.”

Where to start then? You can’t skip Akira Kurosawa, the influential filmmaker whose career spanned almost six decades. Mr. Hale recommends “Stray Dog” (1949), shot in Tokyo in the aftermath of World War II. He describes it as “a walking tour of the city in sheer survival mode.” Next, try “Tokyo Drifter” (1966) by Seijun Suzuki. “Suzuki’s stylized yakuza story sets traditional themes of honor and corruption against a jazzy, jagged, surrealist distillation of the rapidly changing city,” he said. Finally, for something more contemporary, watch the Cannes Palm d’Or-winning “Shoplifters” (2018) by Hirokazu Kore-eda. In Mr. Hale’s view, the film, about a family of grifters, “shows both the glittering modern metropolis and the shadow world just beyond the neon.”

Morning commuters in Shibuya Crossing.Credit…Noriko Hayashi for The New York Times

Get lost in the virtual world

While Japan’s most internationally famous video gaming figure may be an Italian plumber with a taste for mushrooms, there are also plenty of games more grounded in real-life Tokyo than Super Mario Bros. Brian Ashcraft, an Osaka-based senior writer at the gaming website Kotaku, recommends the expansive “Yakuza” series, which follows Kazuma Kiryu as he makes his name in the underworld. The Yakuza games are action-packed, but with dance battles, karaoke sessions and laugh-out-loud dialogue, they are also unabashedly silly. “This year has resulted in all events and trips to Tokyo being canned,” Mr. Ashcraft said. “The Yakuza games do a fantastic job of bringing parts of the city to life. These obsessive, digital recreations mimic the idea of Tokyo. For me, that’s good enough.”


How are you going to channel the spirit of Tokyo in your home? Share your ideas in the comments.

To keep up with upcoming stories in this series, sign up for our At Home newsletter or follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. See more Around the World at Home guides here.

Travel Insurance During Coronavirus Pandemic: What To Know

When the pandemic struck, many travel insurance policies failed to cover Covid-19-related trip interruptions and cancellations, often because they excluded pandemics. But in the intervening months, the travel insurance industry has introduced a spate of new policies covering the disease just as many foreign destinations begin to require them.

“We’ve seen progress in that many plans will now treat Covid like any other unexpected sickness or illness,” said Stan Sandberg, a co-founder of the comparison website Travelinsurance.com. “If you have a trip and travel insurance and came down with Covid-19, which made it impossible to travel, that would fall under cancellation coverage as an unexpected illness that prevents you from traveling.”

Likewise, policies now including Covid-19 would cover holders in the event that a doctor diagnosed them with the virus while traveling under the trip interruption benefit.

Not all travel insurance excluded pandemics when the coronavirus began to spread early this year; Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection was one exception. But the broader change partially arises from consumer demand, a better understanding of the virus — including mortality rates and hospital costs — and the industry’s eagerness for travel to resume.

“People who are traveling are more conscious of their risks and thinking about protecting themselves and their investment,” said Jeremy Murchland, the president of the travel insurer Seven Corners. The company launched policies that included Covid-19 coverage in June; they now account for more than 80 percent of sales.

But, like all insurance, the devil is in the details when it comes to understanding travel insurance, including what’s covered, destinations where it’s required, and the inevitable caveats, as follows.

How travel insurance covers Covid-19

The new Covid-inclusive insurance generally covers travelers from the day after purchase until their return home. During that period, if you become sick and a doctor determines you cannot travel (because of the virus or another illness), trip cancellation and trip interruption benefits would kick in.

These benefits vary by policy, but a search to insure a $2,000 weeklong trip to Costa Rica in December on Travelinsurance.com turned up a $69.75 Generali Global Assistance Standard policy with Covid-19 benefits that would be triggered if you, your host at your destination, a travel companion or a family member tested positive for the virus.

If this happened before your departure, the policy would cover your prepaid travel expenses. If you or your travel companion contracted Covid-19 during the trip and were diagnosed by a physician, it would reimburse prepaid arrangements, such as lodgings, and cover additional airfare to return home — once a doctor deems it safe to travel — up to $2,500. Should you be required to quarantine and can’t travel, travel delay coverage for lodging, meals and local transportation would pay up to $1,000. The policy also covers medical expenses for up to one year, even after you return home, up to $50,000 — though the policy also states that a holder would have to exhaust their own health insurance benefits before seeking coverage under the travel insurance plan.

Travelers should read these policies carefully to understand the benefits (for example, some rules vary by your state of residence), but brokers like TravelInsurance.com, InsureMyTrip and Squaremouth are making them easier to find through filters, F.A.Q.s and flags.

The new more comprehensive policies don’t necessarily cost more. On a Squaremouth search for insurance for two 40-year-olds on a two-week trip costing $5,000, the site turned up a variety of policies with or without coronavirus exclusions from $130 to $300, with no apparent premium for Covid-19 coverage.

Not every Covid-19-related expense is covered by many of these policies, including tests for the virus that many destinations require before arrival (those may be covered by private insurance).

Many policies include medical evacuation to a nearby facility, but won’t necessarily transport you home. For those concerned about treatment abroad, Medjet, a medical evacuation specialist, now offers Covid-19-related evacuations in the 48 contiguous United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean that will transport you to the hospital of your choice in your home country (trip coverage starts at $99; annual memberships start at $189).

“Covid-19 requires special transport pods to protect the crew and others, which adds logistical issues,” said John Gobbels, the vice president and chief operating officer for Medjet.

In addition to the Medjet plan, travelers would need separate travel insurance with medical benefits to cover treatment costs and trip interruption.

Destination insurance requirements

Travelers aren’t the only ones worried about health. A growing list of countries are mandating medical coverage for Covid-19 as a prerequisite for visiting, often along with other measures like pre-trip virus testing and health screenings for symptoms on arrival.

Many Caribbean islands are among those requiring travel medical insurance, including Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. St. Maarten requires health insurance coverage and strongly recommends additional travel insurance covering Covid-19.

Farther-flung countries also require policies that cover Covid-19, including French Polynesia and the Maldives.

Some destinations specify the required plan as a way to ensure travelers have the correct coverage and to expedite treatment. Aruba requires visitors to buy its Aruba Visitors Insurance, regardless of any other plans you may have.

“Insurance through a destination typically only covers Covid and infection while you’re there,” said Kasara Barto, a spokeswoman for Squaremouth.com. “If you catch Covid before, they don’t offer cancellation coverage. If you break a leg, the policy may only cover Covid medication. It varies by country.”

Costa Rica also requires insurance that includes an unusual benefit stipulating a policy cover up to $2,000 in expenses for a potential Covid-19 quarantine while in the country.

In response to the new requirement, which Costa Rica announced in October, insurers, including Trawick International, have begun introducing policies that meet the standard.

“It was a pretty quick and nimble reaction,” Mr. Sandberg of TravelInsurance.com said.

Normally, travel insurance varies by factors including the age of the traveler, destination, trip length and cost (most range from 4 to 10 percent of the trip cost). But some destinations are providing it at a flat fee, with most policies spelling out coverage limits and terms for emergency medical services, evacuation and costs associated with quarantines.

Jamaica, which will require insurance, but has not said when the new rule will go into effect, plans to charge $40 for each traveler. The Bahamas will include the insurance in the cost of its Travel Health Visa, an application that requires negative Covid-19 test results, which runs $40 to $60 depending on length of stay (free for children 10 and younger). The Turks and Caicos is offering a policy for $9.80 a day, and Costa Rica’s policies, if purchased locally, cost roughly $10 a day.

Expect this list of destinations to grow. In January, the Spanish region of Andalusia plans to require travel medical insurance and is working on finding a provider to make it easy for travelers to buy it.

Gaps in travel insurance

Policies that cover Covid-19 as a medical event that may cause trip cancellation or disruption, or those that provide coverage for medical treatment and evacuation still don’t necessarily cover travelers who have a change of heart when they learn they will have to quarantine upon arrival, even if they don’t have the virus. Nor are policies necessarily tied to conditions on the ground, like a spike in infections, State Department travel warnings, a government travel ban or the cessation of flights to and from a destination.

For those events, there’s Cancel For Any Reason, or CFAR, an upgrade to plans that generally only returns 50 to 75 percent of your nonrefundable trip costs.

“Prior to the pandemic, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend CFAR because most of travelers’ concerns were covered by standard plans,” Ms. Barto of Squaremouth.com said. “It’s about 40 percent more expensive and we didn’t want travelers to pay for additional coverage.” Now, she added, there’s been a surge in interest in the upgrade, including in 22 percent of policies sold at the site since mid-March.

Industry experts predict some of these outstanding issues may work their way into policies of the future as they adapt to enduring realities, much as they did after 9/11 in covering travelers in case of terrorist events, which was not the norm before.

The pandemic “was unprecedented, but once it happened, the industry has been pretty quick to react and create coverage, and that’s in the spirit of how this industry is trying to define itself, to be one of those subtle but valuable assets,” Mr. Sandberg said. “Once the world opens back up, we expect travel insurance to be much more top of mind with travelers.”


Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to receive expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation.

What You Need to Know Now About Travel Insurance

When the pandemic struck, many travel insurance policies failed to cover Covid-19-related trip interruptions and cancellations, often because they excluded pandemics. But in the intervening months, the travel insurance industry has introduced a spate of new policies covering the disease just as many foreign destinations begin to require them.

“We’ve seen progress in that many plans will now treat Covid like any other unexpected sickness or illness,” said Stan Sandberg, a co-founder of the comparison website Travelinsurance.com. “If you have a trip and travel insurance and came down with Covid-19, which made it impossible to travel, that would fall under cancellation coverage as an unexpected illness that prevents you from traveling.”

Likewise, policies now including Covid-19 would cover holders in the event that a doctor diagnosed them with the virus while traveling under the trip interruption benefit.

Not all travel insurance excluded pandemics when the coronavirus began to spread early this year; Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection was one exception. But the broader change partially arises from consumer demand, a better understanding of the virus — including mortality rates and hospital costs — and the industry’s eagerness for travel to resume.

“People who are traveling are more conscious of their risks and thinking about protecting themselves and their investment,” said Jeremy Murchland, the president of the travel insurer Seven Corners. The company launched policies that included Covid-19 coverage in June; they now account for more than 80 percent of sales.

But, like all insurance, the devil is in the details when it comes to understanding travel insurance, including what’s covered, destinations where it’s required, and the inevitable caveats, as follows.

How travel insurance covers Covid-19

The new Covid-inclusive insurance generally covers travelers from the day after purchase until their return home. During that period, if you become sick and a doctor determines you cannot travel (because of the virus or another illness), trip cancellation and trip interruption benefits would kick in.

These benefits vary by policy, but a search to insure a $2,000 weeklong trip to Costa Rica in December on Travelinsurance.com turned up a $69.75 Generali Global Assistance Standard policy with Covid-19 benefits that would be triggered if you, your host at your destination, a travel companion or a family member tested positive for the virus.

If this happened before your departure, the policy would cover your prepaid travel expenses. If you or your travel companion contracted Covid-19 during the trip and were diagnosed by a physician, it would reimburse prepaid arrangements, such as lodgings, and cover additional airfare to return home — once a doctor deems it safe to travel — up to $2,500. Should you be required to quarantine and can’t travel, travel delay coverage for lodging, meals and local transportation would pay up to $1,000. The policy also covers medical expenses for up to one year, even after you return home, up to $50,000 — though the policy also states that a holder would have to exhaust their own health insurance benefits before seeking coverage under the travel insurance plan.

Travelers should read these policies carefully to understand the benefits (for example, some rules vary by your state of residence), but brokers like TravelInsurance.com, InsureMyTrip and Squaremouth are making them easier to find through filters, F.A.Q.s and flags.

The new more comprehensive policies don’t necessarily cost more. On a Squaremouth search for insurance for two 40-year-olds on a two-week trip costing $5,000, the site turned up a variety of policies with or without coronavirus exclusions from $130 to $300, with no apparent premium for Covid-19 coverage.

Not every Covid-19-related expense is covered by many of these policies, including tests for the virus that many destinations require before arrival (those may be covered by private insurance).

Many policies include medical evacuation to a nearby facility, but won’t necessarily transport you home. For those concerned about treatment abroad, Medjet, a medical evacuation specialist, now offers Covid-19-related evacuations in the 48 contiguous United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean that will transport you to the hospital of your choice in your home country (trip coverage starts at $99; annual memberships start at $189).

“Covid-19 requires special transport pods to protect the crew and others, which adds logistical issues,” said John Gobbels, the vice president and chief operating officer for Medjet.

In addition to the Medjet plan, travelers would need separate travel insurance with medical benefits to cover treatment costs and trip interruption.

Destination insurance requirements

Travelers aren’t the only ones worried about health. A growing list of countries are mandating medical coverage for Covid-19 as a prerequisite for visiting, often along with other measures like pre-trip virus testing and health screenings for symptoms on arrival.

Many Caribbean islands are among those requiring travel medical insurance, including Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. St. Maarten requires health insurance coverage and strongly recommends additional travel insurance covering Covid-19.

Farther-flung countries also require policies that cover Covid-19, including French Polynesia and the Maldives.

Some destinations specify the required plan as a way to ensure travelers have the correct coverage and to expedite treatment. Aruba requires visitors to buy its Aruba Visitors Insurance, regardless of any other plans you may have.

“Insurance through a destination typically only covers Covid and infection while you’re there,” said Kasara Barto, a spokeswoman for Squaremouth.com. “If you catch Covid before, they don’t offer cancellation coverage. If you break a leg, the policy may only cover Covid medication. It varies by country.”

Costa Rica also requires insurance that includes an unusual benefit stipulating a policy cover up to $2,000 in expenses for a potential Covid-19 quarantine while in the country.

In response to the new requirement, which Costa Rica announced in October, insurers, including Trawick International, have begun introducing policies that meet the standard.

“It was a pretty quick and nimble reaction,” Mr. Sandberg of TravelInsurance.com said.

Normally, travel insurance varies by factors including the age of the traveler, destination, trip length and cost (most range from 4 to 10 percent of the trip cost). But some destinations are providing it at a flat fee, with most policies spelling out coverage limits and terms for emergency medical services, evacuation and costs associated with quarantines.

Jamaica, which will require insurance, but has not said when the new rule will go into effect, plans to charge $40 for each traveler. The Bahamas will include the insurance in the cost of its Travel Health Visa, an application that requires negative Covid-19 test results, which runs $40 to $60 depending on length of stay (free for children 10 and younger). The Turks and Caicos is offering a policy for $9.80 a day, and Costa Rica’s policies, if purchased locally, cost roughly $10 a day.

Expect this list of destinations to grow. In January, the Spanish region of Andalusia plans to require travel medical insurance and is working on finding a provider to make it easy for travelers to buy it.

Gaps in travel insurance

Policies that cover Covid-19 as a medical event that may cause trip cancellation or disruption, or those that provide coverage for medical treatment and evacuation still don’t necessarily cover travelers who have a change of heart when they learn they will have to quarantine upon arrival, even if they don’t have the virus. Nor are policies necessarily tied to conditions on the ground, like a spike in infections, State Department travel warnings, a government travel ban or the cessation of flights to and from a destination.

For those events, there’s Cancel For Any Reason, or CFAR, an upgrade to plans that generally only returns 50 to 75 percent of your nonrefundable trip costs.

“Prior to the pandemic, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend CFAR because most of travelers’ concerns were covered by standard plans,” Ms. Barto of Squaremouth.com said. “It’s about 40 percent more expensive and we didn’t want travelers to pay for additional coverage.” Now, she added, there’s been a surge in interest in the upgrade, including in 22 percent of policies sold at the site since mid-March.

Industry experts predict some of these outstanding issues may work their way into policies of the future as they adapt to enduring realities, much as they did after 9/11 in covering travelers in case of terrorist events, which was not the norm before.

The pandemic “was unprecedented, but once it happened, the industry has been pretty quick to react and create coverage, and that’s in the spirit of how this industry is trying to define itself, to be one of those subtle but valuable assets,” Mr. Sandberg said. “Once the world opens back up, we expect travel insurance to be much more top of mind with travelers.”


Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to receive expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation.

The ‘Intentional Summer’ Challenge: Go on a Quest

Photo

Credit iStock

Challenge No. 3: Plan a quest — find a hike with a treasure hunt, choose an unusual side trip on a vacation or set out to find something specific.

It’s human nature to find joy in solving problems and get caught up in discovery. That may sound more like what you do at school or work, but research shows that a sense of engagement increases our satisfaction with our leisure time as well.

That kind of engagement can make for a memorable family moment, and it’s at the heart of challenge No. 3 of our Intentional Summer: Plan a quest. We know summer has a tendency to feel as if it’s slipping away, so all summer long, we’re offering research-based ideas for ways to set this season apart from the rest of the year. For this challenge, all you need is a goal, a plan and a sense of determination.

If your weekend lets you get outdoors for any extended period, turn a hike into a quest. I’m the queen of the old, tattered guidebook that assures you “at mile 2.6 of the trail is a small waterfall that invites barefoot paddling,” and my online searches for things like “local kid swimming hole” have led our family down many a back road.

We’ve also tried geocaching, which turns any hike or walk into a scavenger hunt. Download the app at geocaching.com, and it will locate caches near you (usually small hidden boxes with a log book and occasionally small shareable objects), and tell you how recently others have found them. Over two million geocaches have been hidden by people worldwide, and not just in the woods — you can find a geocache almost anywhere, including in Manhattan.

You can customize your quest to meet your family’s interests. If you have a child with a sudden passion for minerals, you might find caves or rock-hunting opportunities nearby.

A love of good food makes for great quest opportunities, especially when traveling — go on a search for the one shop that makes its own chocolates, or seek out a farmers’ market to find a local specialty and make a multisensory memory (even if fresh boiled peanuts, for example, don’t turn out to be a family favorite).

Last week, we suggested playing old-fashioned backyard games. Here’s what we heard:

A reader named Janet reminisced about playing a softball-like game called Scrub when she was in her early teens in Westport Harbor, Mass. “We lived year-round directly by the sea but had a huge yard, shaded, in those days, by giant elm trees.” The game involved a bat on the ground in front of the pitcher’s mound, and the person at bat would roll the ball toward it and set off running to first base.  “I remember those warm summer nights with the sound of the waves and fireflies and my father loving this game along with us,” she wrote.

Alison from Woodbridge, N.J., wrote: “This challenge reminded me of a game we made up in our neighborhood as kids called Jaws. My parents’ porch was the safety of the ship and one kid played Jaws trying to capture us as we ran around the yard. We would compete to see how many times we could circle the house without being caught.”

And a group of teenagers from Phoenixville, Pa., told us about an intentional summer tradition we liked so much, we may borrow it for a future challenge. For now, we’ll just tell you about some of their favorite games: “extreme hopscotch” (extending all the way down the block) and “glowquet” (croquet after dark with glow sticks on the wickets).

Keep on playing!

This week’s challenge: Plan a quest. Tell us about yours, and how it goes, by commenting here or emailing us at wellfamily@nytimes.com before next Tuesday, July 12. Did you find what you were looking for? Discover a new passion? Delight one member of the family while driving another crazy? You can also share on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook (#intentionalsummer).

Be sure to sign up here for the Well Family email so you don’t miss anything.

We’ll share reader stories and post next week’s challenge on Thursday, July 14. The real goal: to savor the summer all season long.

10 Children’s Apps for Summer Road Trips

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The car is packed, the pets have sitters and the GPS is programmed. But have you properly prepped your children’s devices?

While there are many apps that can keep a child busy, the best are those designed to promote active, engaged, meaningful and social learning, researchers say.

Here are some recent apps for the job. Most work without a Wi-Fi tether, are free or very affordable and are rich in bite-size bits of interaction, making them easy to pass around the car. Platform and price information change frequently, so check your favorite app store for the latest information.

FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN (ages 3 to 7)

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Chomp by Christoph Niemann, Fox and Sheep GmbH ($2.99 on iOS, Android), is a powerful, easy-to-use video creativity experience that combines hand-drawn animations with real-time video. You’ll find your face inside 52 spring-loaded gags that you can try out simply by looking into the camera, and swiping. Pass this app around and give everyone a chance — except the driver.

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HangArt: Play Hangman, Draw Pictures, Tell Stories by Literary Safari ($1.99 on iOS, Android) brings the age-old game of hangman to your road trip, using words straight out of a school reading curriculum. The two-player mode can promote cooperative play.

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Heads Up! Kids by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (99 cents with in-app purchases, on iOS and Android) is another fun, social word game that is a simplified version of the Ellen DeGeneres game, in which you hold your device up to your forehead and ask someone else for a clue. The initial download contains six decks of virtual cards on topics like animals; extras cost a dollar each.

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Moonbeeps: Gizmo by Moonbot Studios ($1.99 on iPad, iPhone) turns your tablet into a pretend dashboard full of dials and switches that are perfect for imaginary play, say, for turning your minivan into a submarine.

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Sago Mini Robot Party ($2.99 on iPad, iPhone) contains a set of rubbery robot parts that can be mixed and matched. We like how easy it is to be silly with this app. You can use the sock for a head, for example, or put two heads on the feet and flip the robot upside down.

FOR OLDER CHILDREN (ages 8 and up)

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MSQRD — Live Filters & Face Swap for Video Selfies by Masquerade Technologies (free on iPad, Android) is like sticking your head inside a magical mirror where you can try on some glow-in-the-dark face paint, or do a face swap with the person sitting next to you — and you can post it on Facebook. Keep this one far away from the driver.

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Thinkrolls 2 by Avokiddo ($2.99 on iPad, Android, Kindle) lets you swipe your way through a series of increasingly challenging mazes. This is the second app in the series, and it’s well named because it gently introduces properties of matter and physics. You discover that things do more than “roll.” They can also float, glide and teleport through the 270 levels.

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Stack the States 2 by Freecloud Design ($2.99 on iPad, iPhone) for ages 7 and up is a great app for learning about the United States while you drive through it. The app quizzes you on the capital, shape and location of each state. You can now zoom in for a 3-D view of the details on key cities and landmarks.

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Toca Life: Vacation by Toca Boca ($2.99 on iPad, iPhone) transforms your back seat into a tropical resort, with its own airport, hotel and island. There’s no way to fail with this free-play app, and there’s room for plenty of cooperative play.

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Finding Dory: Just Keep Swimming by Disney ($3.99 on iPad, Android, Kindle) delivers plenty of well-illustrated, slippery fun in this maze game. There are 13 levels, each inspired by the movie, and it’s easy to revisit an already mastered level, so a little brother or sister can have a turn. Make sure children know that they can pause the game at any point.

FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

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Traveling at night? Turn your vehicle into a rolling planetarium with Star Walk HD ($2.99 for iPad, Android). You’ll be able to predict when and where the moon will come up, or confirm if the bright star is actually Saturn.

Google Maps is a wonderful family resource. You can install a second version on your child’s Android or Apple device, saving on data costs by using the “offline map feature.” As you drive, your child can view the scrolling maps, and help you find landmarks or navigation, dropping pins on favorite places along the way. Show your child how to toggle between satellite, topographic and regular map modes, and use the Street View feature to follow your car.

Finally, Siri loves geography facts. Besides knowing “how many people live in Detroit,” she can tell you current altitude, or where the closest rest area might be. She’ll also have the exact answer, in miles, to that age-old back-seat question, “Are we there yet?”

Airplanes and Babies: Readers Weigh In

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Dr. Perri Klass

Dr. Perri KlassCredit Vivienne Flesher

An article by Dr. Perri Klass about flying with small children, “Fear of Crying: The Problem of Babies and Airplanes,” touched a nerve with Well readers. More than 600 readers weighed in, with responses ranging from compassion to indignation. Here is an edited selection.

Keep Baby at Home

Why don’t they ban children on most flights and assign special flights for those traveling with babies? Airlines should cater to both sides of society — those who don’t mind traveling with babies and those who do. As consumers we should be given a choice and not be castigated for choosing peace and quiet on a flight.

Minnie in Paris

How about a soundproof baby box one can put into the overhead or check at the gate? Really, there is no reason to travel with babies on an airplane unless it is for medical reasons (to get the child medical care not available locally) or moving overseas. Most people travel with children to go on vacation or visit relatives and friends. This can be put off until the children are old enough to behave when traveling. Otherwise, just stay home or go by car. Air travel is annoying enough without self-centered parents making it even more so.

David in Cincinnati

One of the kindest things grandparents can do is to offer to do the flying. Come and visit the baby and family, and if you want to be a superhero, offer to stay a few days and let the parents go off together, even if it’s just to a hotel in town.

BK in Minnesota

Let Babies Be Babies

Actually, I never mind crying babies on an airplane. Babies cry, that’s what they’re supposed to do. And if you want to live in society, you’re going to encounter crying babies. I usually tune it out, and if I can’t, well, that’s one reason for earphones.

lksf

These are mobility-challenged little people, who deserve to travel to see their grandparents. Cut them some slack, for God’s sake. This is life. If you cannot deal with it, stay at home.

Reader in Paris

As the parent of three children, I am amazed at how little a screaming kid bothers me. A loudly crying baby can be two seats over, but as long as the child is not mine, I do not care and will continue with whatever I am doing, including sleep. On the other hand, it seems that adults who have never had children are the ones that react very excessively to the child in vocal agony.

Skeptical in New York

I’ll never forget the flight where my normally lovely toddler screamed bloody murder during the entire descent because she didn’t want to wear her seat belt. For 20 minutes I had to hold her seat belt so she couldn’t unbuckle it while she screamed directly in my ear. No amount of M&Ms, offered stories or soothing words made a difference. And I couldn’t turn on a video or remove the seat belt (oh, those FAA rules!).

She fell asleep from exhaustion just as we landed. I left her asleep until we were the last to exit the plane. As soon as I unbuckled her to pick her up, she promptly kicked me in the face. Ah, the joys of flying with small children.

EB in Minnesota

There Are Worse Things

I’m from England and have traveled back and forth between the U.K. and L.A. for nearly 30 years. I can think of many passengers who are worse than a crying baby. I find that mostly babies cry on takeoff and landing while their ears are adapting to the pressure changes. There are babies who cry more than that, and I can only feel sorry for the parents who not only don’t have a break for the entire time, but suffer all the filthy looks from entitled people who have forgotten that they too were babies once.

Tina Turner Sage in Los Angeles

I look at it this way: I consider myself very fortunate if listening to a crying baby for three hours is the worst inconvenience I face. I can guarantee there are millions of people who would gladly trade places with me.

David Sabbagh in Berkley, MI

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

Several years ago, I was traveling with my teenage son with autism. A family with a baby was seated in front of us. The baby was crying inconsolably. My son, who often reports on everything going on around him, said in his loud and matter-of-fact voice: “Mom, that baby is screaming! That mother should do something.” I replied with an equally loud voice so at least two rows of people could hear: “I remember when you were a baby traveling on an airplane, and you were the screaming baby. You were bothering everyone. And people were very understanding and kind to me then. Do you think you can be understanding and kind?” The mother turned around in her seat, tears rolling down her cheeks, with a smile of gratitude.

Jan in Indiana

Running on Vacation

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Jen A. Miller in the mountains of North Carolina in May, 2015.

Jen A. Miller in the mountains of North Carolina in May, 2015.Credit

On the second day of a recent two-week road trip, I woke up at a Holiday Inn off Interstate 95 in Santee, S.C., and drove to a nearby state park. I was in my fifth week of marathon training and needed to complete three miles, so why not do so in a new place I might never see again? I’ve run in many unfamiliar towns and cities — Chicago; Minneapolis; Seattle; San Francisco; St. Pete Beach, Fla.; Freeport, Me.; Rome — and each jaunt has given me a unique look at a part of the world I might have missed otherwise.

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A warning sign at Santee State Park in South Carolina.

A warning sign at Santee State Park in South Carolina.Credit

By mile one, though, a light rain had gotten slightly heavier. By the time I reached a warning sign that read, “Do not approach alligators no matter how big or small. ‘Gators’ can move fast!” the rain had turned heavy and cold, and I thought that perhaps a treadmill would have been the way to go.

Running while traveling can be a challenge. You’re in a different climate, you don’t know where to go and sometimes, as I learned, wild beasts may be thrown into the mix. But with a little planning and an assist or two, running in a fresh location can give you a chance to experience something new.

“Every city has a feel to it,” said Chris Heuisler, head of the RunWestin concierge program at the Westin hotel chain, which, like a number of hotel chains, provides personal guidance to help visitors keep up with their fitness while traveling. One way to get a taste of a city’s feeling is to run there. “There are so many little details to a city that you would not see if you had not gone for a run,” he said.

The biggest hurdle, he said, is knowing where to go. Many hotels and resorts provide online or paper running maps. On a trip to San Francisco, for example, I stayed at a Kimpton hotel that provided a map with different routes through the city, with mileage marked. Free, ad-heavy paper tourism maps are also provided in many hotel lobbies and local tourism offices.

Another way to not get lost: join a group. “You can always hook up with local running clubs,” said Amy Begley, who ran the 10,000 meters for the United States in the 2008 Olympic Games and is a coach for the Atlanta Track Club. That’s how I got a running tour of Asheville, N.C., this spring. Specialty running stores often hold group runs that welcome visitors, too. You can find running clubs through the Road Runners Club of America and specialty running stores through the Independent Running Retailer Association.

If you’re worried you’ll get to your destination and lose your motivation, Mr. Heuisler suggests signing up for a race. “It holds you accountable but also immerses you into that culture,” he said.

In 2012, while training for my first marathon, I needed to do a 15-mile run while at a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, so I signed up for and ran a half-marathon on Canadian Thanksgiving Day, then ran back to my hotel to complete the needed miles. I saw parts of the city I never would have otherwise — including a bridge I’ve seen used in movies shot in Vancouver — and have a medal with maple leaves on the ribbon as a souvenir.

Whether you are running to train or sightsee, make adjustments in pace and expectations, especially if the environment is very different from what you’re used to, and make do with what’s available. My first speedwork session of my latest cycle of marathon training lined up with the back end of my road trip, which took me to Jekyll Island, Ga. The island does not have a track, which I would have used to mark the start and finish of each sprint session, but it does have 22 miles of paved trails, so I did my 400-meter repeats there instead, using my GPS watch to tell me when to sprint and when to slow down. I also carried a water bottle because, even though it was cold enough that day for two locals to drop out of a planned afternoon kayak trip, the weather was still much warmer and more humid than I was used to in New Jersey.

And there’s nothing wrong with using the treadmill if you need to, Ms. Begley said, especially if you’re coming from a warm climate into a winter freeze. And don’t rely on pictures of a gym on a hotel website either. “Hotels may say they have a gym, but you don’t know what equipment they have,” she said. Call ahead to ask if they have treadmills and if they’re working.

My latest trip ended on a whimper: a 14-hour drive, with the last two hours in the dark through driving rain and the last 10 minutes through a fog so thick I turned on my flashers. When my gas tank warning sign went on just before I reached my hotel in Rehoboth Beach, Del., I thought, “Maybe you shouldn’t do your tempo run tomorrow,” then parked myself at the bar of Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats.

I did end up doing my run, but not in Rehoboth Beach, as originally intended. I slept in, then took the Cape May-Lewes Ferry to Cape May, N.J., a place I’ve visited too many times to count, and did a five-mile hard run through the meadows of West Cape May along Sunset Boulevard, a route I know well.

Then I had a sandwich, a cup of coffee and — finally — went home.

Jen A. Miller is the author of “Running: A Love Story.”

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