12 Natural Tips to Relieve Pain

Common over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are effective pain relievers. However, its long-term use can cause side effects, such as addiction. 

Besides, around the world, some people prefer to seek out and use natural pain relievers to help them manage pain. Whether it’s car accident back pain or neck pain from work, you may be able to control pain in low to moderate intensity using natural ways. 

Many essential oils, herbs, and alternative therapies work very effectively as natural pain relievers. Let’s discuss 12 natural ways to relieve pain and improve your quality of life by learning how to manage pain without relying on over-the0counter pain medications. 

Acupuncture 

Following different events in life like being in a sports injury, looking for a car accident pain management options, or having a busy work life, you end up facing chronic pain. During these times, alternative pain management treatments like acupuncture can be very helpful in reducing pain. 

Acupuncture can help you with a certain type of pain, such as neck pain, low back pain, and osteoarthritis or knee pain. People also frequently use this way of pain management for tension headaches and migraines. 

Yoga 

There hardly would be people who haven’t heard of this physical meditation practice that offers a way to stay fit and manage pain naturally. Yoga includes a wide range of breathing exercises, relaxation and self-care methods, and fitness positions. So, practicing yoga can be helpful in relieving pain related to stress and anxiety and limited physical activity. 

Besides, you can also personalize the sections of yoga you practice according to your condition. For example, a few stretching exercises and positions that can help manage back pain. If you are interested in learning yoga, you can easily find classes and certified instructors almost around the world, since this mind and body practice has gained popularity globally in the last decade. 

Mindful meditation 

At times, you can make the situation more convenient and pain levels more tolerable for you along with bringing yourself in a relaxed mind space using ways like meditation. People facing chronic pain are increasingly seeking mindfulness meditation as a natural treatment option. 

The time spent in mindful meditation helps by improving pain symptoms like the quality of sleep, depression, and overall wellbeing and quality of life. A big side effect of pain is that it diverts your attention from everything else and makes you only think about the pain you are experiencing. However, natural ways like mindfulness meditation and yoga can be very helpful in helping you change your focus point and learn to better deal with pain in life.

Lavender essential oil 

The soothing properties of lavender essential oil may help you relieve pain naturally. It helps people sleep better, relax, and ease anxiety. This can help you feel better and ease the uncomfortable feeling caused by the pain. 

These days you can easily find lavender essential oil in stores and online, a great way to use them would be while taking a bath for a relaxing and calming experience. 

Rosemary essential oil 

Rosemary is another essential oil type that you can use as a natural pain reliever. It may be able to help you with headaches, and muscle and bone pain. Besides, rosemary may also help you in reducing inflammation, boost memory, and relax smooth muscles.

You can also find a great variety of rosemary essential oils available online and offline. 

Peppermint essential oil 

The Peppermint plant is known to have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving effects. The three active compounds in peppermint oil include menthol, carvacrol, and limonene. 

Often, people use a diluted version of peppermint essential oil as a topical treatment for pain. They rub the diluted oil on the body areas where that’s causing pain or is achy. That said, rubbing some peppermint oil on your temples and forehead may help relieve tension and ease your headache.  

Eucalyptus essential oil 

Another essential oil that you may want to use as a natural pain reliever is eucalyptus oil. Extracted from the Eucalyptus plant, this herbal remedy may be effective in reducing pain, inflammation, and swelling in the body. 

However, make sure to dilute the eucalyptus oil in a carrier oil before applying it topically and keep it away from children. Make sure to do a spot check just to check if your skin is not reacting to the eucalyptus oil. Just like other oils, you can also find a range of eucalyptus essential oils online. 

Cloves 

A lot of people have traditionally used cloves as a home remedy to help them with a toothache. Besides, people can also use clove gel as an effective alternative to benzocaine gel, which is a topical gel often used by dentists to help decrease the pain from needles. 

That said, the antioxidant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties of cloves can be turn out to be beneficial as it being a natural pain remedy. 

Capsaicin 

People have also used capsaicin, found in chili peppers, as a natural pain relief remedy. However, directly using this substance of your body part can cause a mild tingling or burning sensation.

A lot of you may not know this but many pain-relieving products have capsaicin in them. Capsaicin is an important element of many topical creams and patches used for pain management. 

Even though capsaicin may not help relieve pain directly, but it is believed that it reduces the skin’s sensitivity towards pain by affecting the nociceptor fiber, the nerves that carry the pain signals in our bodies.

Ginger 

This might be one of the most commonly available natural pain remedies in households. Ginger is a root plant with high promise as a natural pain reliever and many other benefits. 

Consuming ginger on daily basis may help with muscle pain, which causes resistance in exercise and activities like running. It can also accelerate recovery and decrease inflammation associated with exercise. 

You can include ginger in your diet by adding a raw piece of it in your teas or smoothies. You even take ginger supplements that are available in stores and online, but going for fresh ginger has more health benefits. 

Feverfew 

Feverfew or known as bachelor’s button or feather few is a medicinal plant. Some of the traditional uses of feverfew include treating migraine, fever, headaches, toothaches, rheumatoid arthritis, and stomach aches. 

However, consuming feverfew can have side effects such as vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. So, make sure to consult your doctor and double-check if you can take feverfew for your condition. 

Turmeric 

Around the world, turmeric is known for its powerful medicinal properties. Curcuma is the active ingredient in turmeric spice and has great pain-relieving qualities. 

Turmeric is also a commonly used herbal remedy for decreasing inflammation. You can include turmeric in its natural form in your diet by adding it to your smoothy, juicy, and curry recipes.

Improve your quality of life 

Managing pain can be very challenging and if you have been dealing with it long, its symptoms can be difficult as well. However, adopting some of these natural ways to relieve pain can help you decrease your dependence on over-the-counter medication. They can also help improve your overall health and well-being and also better fight symptoms like poor sleep quality and stress. 

 

10 Ways to Help You Recover Mentally from An Injury

Injuries, accidents, and other medical issues are part of life. However, when you are recovering from them, it is very important to address both your physical and mental healing.

From a traumatic brain injury treatment to recovering from a fracture, you need to focus on how this injury or this phase of life has affected you emotionally and mentally. A lot of times, people forget the importance of recovering mentally because such events affect your state of mind more than you might realize. 

Besides, avoiding recovering mentally due to your physical injuries can have long-term effects on your life because complete healing goes far beyond just your physical state. A lot of people who physically go through such occurrences, tend to become afraid of reinjury or face post-traumatic stress when doing any physically demanding like playing a sport, exercising or driving according to how they were initially injured. 

Some other ways it can affect you are through insomnia, anger issues, and change in appetite. While exercising, endorphins are released in your brain, which makes you feel better and gives a bit of a high. However, if you are not allowed or able to exercise, you may easily get depressed, irritable, and lose motivation to watch your diet. A lot of people tend to eat too much or too little or eat very unhealthy foods. 

Hence, to avoid or limit these sides effect of recovering from injury, you must focus on your mental recovery just as seriously. There are several ways you can stay positive during this time and focus on your mental recovery. Let’s get to the list of ten things you can do to boost your emotional and mental recovery from an injury.

Change your perspective 

The first step has to be working on your perception of the injury and the recovery. Divert the time and energy that you would normally focus on working out to your recovery. 

It may take a while, but make sure to keep reminding yourself that even if you are resting and recovering it does not mean that you are not being productive. Don’t be too hard on yourself and try to understand as resting allows you to heal and get back on your feet, it is a productive use of your time. 

Maintain a journal 

Keeping a journal helps a lot of people managing pain. If you worry too much about your injury or re-injury when you are in pain, try to keep a journal of all these feelings. You can include things like when you face aches or pain, what are the trigger points, how long they last, and how they get better when you feel pain. 

This can help you regain your confidence, and understand that it is going to end at one point. Besides, keeping a pain journal also sometimes makes it easy for your doctor to track your progress. 

Set realistic goals for yourself 

The time you are recovering from the injury is very important for how this entire episode affects your life in the future. Hence, it is important that you set new, smaller, and realistic goals for yourself and your progress. This way, when you achieve your goals, you can feel happy and celebrate them as they come true. This also works wonders in helping you stay motivated and going for the next goal.

Focus on the things you can control

Focusing on things you cannot control will only make this journey more difficult for you. Whether it’s neurology in San Antonio or any other treatment you are going through for your physical recovery, they are going to take time and it is not much you can control here. 

However, you can control your diet, your fluid intake, and eating healthier food that helps you recover faster. After some time and discussing with your doctor, you can include some alternative ways to exercise. For example, if you have an arm injury, you can do some basic leg exercises. Hence, try to focus on what you can do instead of what you cannot. 

Find a hobby 

Depending on the intensity of your injuries, you can take any time like days, weeks, or even months to recover. Hence, it is important to keep yourself entertained during this time. Keeping up a new hobby is a great way to keep your energy levels up. Cooking, reading, or starting a DIY project, look for something you can enjoy doing.

Meditate

Finding a way, you can channel the stress away is the best thing you can do. If you find yourself obsessing about not being able to heal as quickly as you would like, take some time off and practice meditation. 

Worrying too much will only take your progress backward. Instead, try sitting still and alone, concentrating on your breathing, it tends to calm your nervous system, help you stay positive, and reduce stress. If you have been doing meditation from before the injury, it will be even easier to follow through with this tip. 

Keep up with the rehab program

The journey of recovering physically and mentally is different for everyone and some people use extra help to do this smoothly. That is why keep reminding yourself that even though doing more rehab than you are recommended by the professional might not make your recover faster, but doing less than what is recommended will slow down your progress. 

Hence, don’t shy away from the rehab and stick to what is working for you, and what is helping for even longer is absolutely necessary.

Do not isolate yourself 

During your recovery, you can use as much support as you can get. Hence, try to maintain your normal social life as much as possible. If you are continuing to regularly communicate with and socialize with your close friends and family, you are less likely to feel as down about the injury. 

Besides, a strong support system also helps in keeping you motivated towards your health and wellness. 

Stay positive 

It is very important to remember that it might take a long time but you will one day get better and the injury will be healed. If you follow through with the recommended treatment plan, don’t rush yourself, and give your body the fuel it needs to completely recover, and eventually, you won’t be injured anymore. And finally, you can get back to your normal routine, doing things that you enjoy the most. 

Practice patience 

No one wants to stay injured, but healing takes time. Make sure to take time to think about what this time has allowed you to do. Try to exercise patience and gratitude. Trying to look for something positive during this time will give you the strength to keep going forward. You may even find yourself enjoying the small things like some time off from work and catching up with your family, friends, or old hobbies like reading or watching movies. 

How you pass this time and what this time represents in your life ultimately depends on you. An overall positive outlook allows you to not only try to recover faster but also helps you to change your perspective of life beyond the injury. 

Mandatory Face Mask Policies Associated with Reduced COVID-19 Deaths

Study findings state that statewide mandatory face mask policies reduced COVID-19 deaths

Statewide policy on face mask use reduces case fatality rate, new research suggests.

Researchers at the UNC Charlotte, Department of Public Health Sciences examined the COVID-19 incidence and mortality data in the 3,102 counties across the U.S using data from the John Hopkins University and Kaiser Family Foundation. They found that early adoption of state-directed mandatory face mask policies was associated with a 10% reduced mortality risk ratio across all counties and a 5% reduced mortality risk ratio among urban counties.

At the end of August 2020, 3,079 US counties reported at least one confirmed case of COVID-19, and about two-thirds of all U.S. counties had a state policy on mandatory face mask use. According to the study, it took an average of 62 days from the first reported case in the U.S. for COVID-19 to spread to the 3,079 counties. However, it took an average of 101 days from the first reported case in the U.S. for the counties to have a statewide policy on face mask use.

“As of August 31, 2020, the median county-level case fatality rate was 1.54%. Among the 2,009 counties with a statewide policy on face mask use, the median case fatality rate was 0.81%”, Oluwaseun Adeyemi, a public health sciences doctoral candidate and one of the study authors, writes.

But it was not only the reduced case fatality rate among the counties with a statewide policy on a face mask that was intriguing. Counties whose statewide policy on face mask use came before the 62-day mark had a reduced mortality rate ratio compared to other counties that instituted the statewide policies after the 62-day mark. Adeyemi stated that “early adoption of face mask policy was associated with a 10% reduced mortality risk compared to counties with late adoption of statewide face mask use policy”.

The authors selected the death counts a week before and three weeks after the statewide policy on face mask use. For counties without a statewide policy on face mask use, death counts corresponding to dates of an adjacent state with a mandatory face mask policy were selected. The case fatality rate was measured as the proportion of deaths in a county divided by the number of confirmed cases. The authors will be presenting these results at the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s (SBM’s) 42nd Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions on April 12, 2021.

About University of North Carolina at Charlotte

UNC Charlotte is the third largest and the fastest-growing university in North Carolina. The public health sciences department at UNC Charlotte prides itself in its faculty, whose research focuses on diverse areas of public health issues which include occupational health, suicide, maternal health, infant and child health, social determinants of health, cancer, and chronic diseases, and geriatric population. Based in Charlotte, the third fastest-growing urban city in the U.S., the public health sciences comprises a community of students, staff, and faculty from diverse backgrounds, working together to solve local, regional, and national emerging public health issues.

About SBM 

The Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) is a 2,400-member organization of scientific researchers, clinicians, and educators. They study interactions among behavior, biology, and the environment, and translate findings into interventions that improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities (www.sbm.org).

All the Countries Americans are Allowed to Travel in Right Now

This post is shared via Smart Travel.

With the seventh most powerful passport in the world, Americans are used to the privilege of access to almost any country on demand. Before the pandemic, Americans could travel to 185 of the world’s 195 countries visa-free, or with a visa on arrival. But due to the high coronavirus rates in the U.S., dozens of destinations (including the European Union) have deemed the U.S. ‘high risk’ and closed their doors to Americans. So what countries can Americans visit right now?

Some countries have slowly begun to re-accept U.S. passport holders, providing they agree to specific regulations such as PCR testing for COVID-19 or mandatory quarantines. You’ll also now need to show a negative PCR test result (taken up to three days before your flight) in order to board any aircraft returning to the U.S. from overseas. (Alternatively, you can show medical documents if you had COVID-19 in the past 90 days.) The situation is still in flux and each country has different requirements. All the changes have left many travelers confused about which countries Americans can visit now. If you’re thinking of heading overseas, here’s what you need to know about where you can go and what the requirements are for American visitors.

The rules and mandates below are subject to sudden change so we’re updating this page weekly with relevant information sourced from the State Department and tourist boards. Airlines may have additional requirements. We recommend you also check details on your destination’s immigration website and purchase travel insurance covering flight changes/cancellations, unplanned quarantine, coronavirus treatment, etc. The State Department or your home state’s government may also have conditions for returning to the U.S. from certain locations.  

All the Countries Americans Can Visit Right Now

Albania

Set alongside the sparkling Adriatic Sea, this southeastern European destination is more under-the-radar than its popular neighbor, Greece. U.S. passport holders can enter without a PCR test but masks are mandatory and there is a curfew from 8 p.m. -6 a.m. However, a number of airlines have cancelled or reduced their flights to and from Albania. Expect health screening at the airport (no-touch thermometers and medical staff looking out for anyone exhibiting coronavirus symptoms). There are restrictions on which countries you can pass through on your return to the U.S.A.

Anguilla

This tempting slice of eastern Caribbean paradise is successfully keeping its coronavirus rates low by requiring all visitors – including Americans – to apply for pre-travel authorization then, on arrival, present a negative PCR test (taken three to five days before they travel). You must take a second PCR test on arrival, a third on day 10 or 14 and one more on departure. Masks are required on vessels and in any place where it’s not possible to remain at least three feet from everyone else. U.S. residents must quarantine in a government-approved facility for up to 14 days. The country is trying to encourage long-stay visitors during the pandemic with new visas including family and digital nomad visas, but it’s also possible to book short stays of five days or less.

Antigua and Barbuda

American visitors are welcome to come to these sun-soaked islands provided they have a negative PCR test (taken up to seven days before flying there). All arrivals must complete a health declaration form and wear a mask in all public areas. You also have to register with the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment by providing information here or by calling 1-268-462-2675. There is a ‘recommended’ quarantine period of 14 days and the health authority may require further PCR tests. It’s ‘recommended’ because if you test negative on the second test you may be released from quarantine. There’s a curfew from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until April 15.

Armenia

Straddled between Asia and Europe, this landlocked nation is allowing Americans to visit providing they have taken a PCR test within the past 72 hours or agree to take on one arrival ($40). Arrivals testing negative are exempt from quarantine. Face masks are required in public spaces.

Aruba

These Dutch Caribbean islands are back open for business. Americans can visit Aruba’s sandy shores providing they complete an online immigration card and purchase Covid-19 health insurance before arrival. The immigration card must be submitted along with a negative PCR test, taken at least 72 hours before arrival. An alternative option is taking a PCR test on arrival then self-isolating at your hotel until you get the results. There’s a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The tourist board made this handy video on their COVID-19 protocols.

The Bahamas

A Travel Health Visa ($40-60) and negative PCR test (taken up to five days before arrival) is required for entry to these picture-perfect islands, which lie just a stone’s throw from Miami. Visitors must present the confirmed Travel Health Visa and PCR test result to airline crew before they board their flight and show it again on arrival to immigration officials. You’ll need to opt-in for Covid-19 travel insurance on your visa application. You also have to take a rapid antigen test on day five, but results come through within an hour. Face masks are required in public spaces and everyone must self-report their condition via a daily health questionnaire for up to 14 days, or for the duration of their stay if under two weeks. There’s a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on many of the islands (starting at 8pm on some islands), and traveling inter-island requires an online health application and possibly another PCR test too.

Bahrain

This sovereign state in the Persian Gulf is offering Americans visas on arrival, but you must take a PCR test at your own expense upon landing. You will be required to complete a health questionnaire, download the BeAwareBahrain health app and will have to take a second and third PCR test on days five and 10, also at your own expense ($95 for all three tests). However, you only need to self-isolate until the results of the first test are in.

Bangladesh

Set on the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh is among the more offbeat destinations on this list. Bangladesh requires all U.S. citizens to present a negative PCR test from a government-authorized facility, taken up to 72 hours before arrival. On arrival you’ll need to fill in health information cards and there’s temperature screening at the airports. You then need to quarantine at your hotel or other accommodation for 14 days. Masks are required in public. Certain areas of the country are subject to localized restrictions – check with the Directorate General of Health Services.

Barbados

American visitors to this tropical paradise must complete a PCR test from an accredited facility up to 72 hours before arrival and online immigration forms 24 hours in advance. The test will be screened for validity on arrival, and you will be required to take a rapid antigen test on arrival too. The U.S. is still deemed a ‘high-risk country’ by Barbados, so you’ll need to quarantine at a designated holding hotel or approved villa for five days. During this time you’ll also have to report your temperature and give health updates daily to the public health team who will check in by call or text, so bring your own thermometer.  You’ll also have to wear an electronic tracking bracelet. Another PCR test is required on day five, and if the result is negative again then your quarantine is over. Everybody has to agree to abide by ‘Barbados House Rules’ which include mandatory masks in public and abiding by the 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew.

Belize

Belize is framed by the Caribbean Sea on one side and dense jungle on the other. This lush Central American country is asking Americans to present a negative PCR test taken 96 hours prior to travel, an antigen test taken 48 hours in advance or take a rapid test on arrival in Belize ($50). If you can present a certificate of vaccination against COVID-19, you don’t need to take any tests to enter Belize. This must be full immunization, completed at least two weeks before arrival in Belize. Everyone is asked to download the Belize Health app and complete the questionnaire, (which includes booking a ‘Gold Standard hotel’ in advance) then take a screenshot of your QR code/ID to show immigration officials at the airport. Masks are mandatory in public. Tourists can move around freely but are recommended to stick to the Gold Standard amenities, sites and restaurants in the Tourism Safe Corridor. There’s a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Bermuda

The country that gave the world Bermuda shorts is also famed for its stunning pink sand beaches. This North Atlantic island requires travel authorization one to three days before arrival plus a negative COVID-19 test for all arrivals. It must be taken up to five days before travel. Then you’ll need to take a second PCR test on arrival and quarantine until you receive a negative result (usually within 24 hours). For the first 14 days you also need to wear a $30 ‘Traveler Wristband’ (pretty strict repercussions for removal). Further tests are required on days four, eight, and 14. Alternatively, you’re allowed to avoid all the testing and the wristband by legally agreeing to quarantine for 14 days. The Bermuda Travel Authorization is $75 and all arrivals have to report their temperature twice daily online (so bring your own thermometer). Masks are required in all public spaces. You also must take a taxi (not public transport) from the airport and give the driver your contact details for contact tracing purposes. Indoor bars and nightclubs are closed.

Bhutan

This breathtaking Buddhist kingdom has always strictly limited the number of tourists allowed into the country under its ‘high value, low impact’ policy aimed at protecting its unique culture and environment. That means most nationalities wanting to visit have to apply for a visa in advance through a licensed Bhutanese tour operator and pay a daily fee of $200-250 if accepted. The Tourism Council of Bhutan tells us that Americans can still visit now using the normal system, but they must agree to 21 days of quarantine.

Bolivia

From the Andes and the Atacama Desert to the Amazon, Bolivia has a lot to offer adventure travelers. Currently, Americans can visit Bolivia if they provide a negative PCR test taken within 10 days of their flight. Masks are required everywhere in public and there’s health screening at the airports. As with most destinations, changes can be put into effect with no notice but you can keep an eye on things here.

Bonaire

You’re allowed to enter this Dutch Caribbean island as long as you also comply with Bonaire’s entry requirements. It involves downloading a health declaration form before travel and then presenting to immigration authorities on arrival. You also need two tests – a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before you travel  and a negative rapid antigen test four hours before boarding. Alternatively, Bonaire accepts a negative NAAT test, taken up to 24 hours before departure. There’s a curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Located on the Balkan peninsula, this southern European spot only requires Americans take a PCR test 48 hours before arrival. Assuming it’s negative, you’re free to explore this history-rich nation with few restrictions, except for face masks in indoor and outdoor public places. There’s a curfew in place, but the duration varies by area, so check locally

Botswana

You’ve probably seen Botswana’s Kalahari Game Reserve in nature documentaries. The fossilized river valleys and epic grasslands populated by giraffes and cheetahs are iconic. If you’re hoping to go, you’ll need a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before your flight. Masks are required and there are some domestic travel restrictions. Permits are needed for travel between the nine geographical zones but tourism is regarded as essential travel for economic reasons, so these permits will usually be approved. In the capital, Gaborone, there’s a curfew from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. There are reports that travelers should expect inconsistent application of COVID rules and sudden unexplained changes in enforcement in Botswana, so please bear this in mind.

Brazil

It’s worth noting that the State Department has slapped a ‘do not travel’ warning on Brazil right now due to high numbers of coronavirus cases. However, Brazil is still allowing U.S. passport holders to enter for stays of up to 90 days, providing they arrive by air. You’ll need to take a PCR test up to 72 hours before arrival and fill in a Traveler’s Health Declaration, whereby you also agree to ‘sanitary measures’ (social distancing, hand-washing etc) during your trip. The form will be distributed prior to boarding or you can find it here. There is also health screening at the airports. Several states and local governments in Brazil have issued mask mandates and movement restrictions so check locally to avoid fines or possible arrest.

British Virgin Islands

All 60 of these glittering reef-lined islands and cays reopened during the first week of December after nine months of closure. While its borders were shut, the government of this luxury Caribbean destination devised a very extensive COVID-prevention program. Visitors need proof of travel insurance with comprehensive medical coverage and a negative PCR test taken up to five days prior to arrival. You also need to apply for travel authorization and submit your PCR test results via the BVI Gateway App – more info here. On arrival, there’s another  test, and you’ll have to activate a contact tracing app on your phone and put on a government-issued wristband monitoring device. For the first four days you must quarantine at your hotel, then take a PCR test on day four (using approved transportation to and from the testing site). If you’re still COVID-free when the results come back, you can go explore, providing you stay 6ft from others, wash your hands often and wear a mask during travel and at the airport. The PCR tests, wristband and app are provided at your own expense ($175). Arrivals by sea are subject to four days of quarantine plus PCR testing.

Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)

This collection of volcanic islands, bursting with Creole and African culture and surrounded by turquoise waters, is popular among European travelers but less well known by Americans. However, visitors from the U.S. are welcome to visit as long as they can show a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours prior to travel. On arrival, your temperature will be taken and you’ll need to fill in a health questionnaire then wear a face mask in public while you’re there. There are currently restrictions on São Vicente which affect restaurants, beach access and public gatherings due to an uptick in localized COVID cases. For inter-island travel, you’ll need to fill out a Health Surveillance Survey.

Cayman Islands

Under the first stage of its reopening plans, only limited categories of travelers can enter the Cayman Islands (such as for special events) and they need to be approved by Travel Cayman. But if you’re among the highest-earning digital nomads (or just working remotely this year, with a high salary), you’re one of the lucky few that can enter. The Global Citizen Concierge Scheme is aimed at long-stay travelers, who can remain there for up to two years. If you meet the criteria (which includes making at least $100,000 annually) and are approved, you can enter this tropical paradise with a negative PCR test from an accredited lab taken up to 72 hours before your flight. Then there’s a 14-day quarantine period just to ensure you’re definitely not infected. Masks are required at airports and on public transport. If you want to travel between islands there, you’ll need advance authorization and may have to take a PCR test too.

Chile

This long strip of land between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean recently featured in Ewan McGregor’s motorcycle travelogue, Long Way Up. If that whet your appetite to visit you’re in luck because Chile is allowing American visitors in — with a few conditions of course. You’ll need to complete an affidavit within 48 hours before you leave for Chile. You also need to show a PCR test on arrival taken up to 72 hours in advance (the clock starts ticking when it’s taken, not when you get the results) and show proof of insurance covering COVID-19. There’s a 10 day quarantine, and you spend the first five days of it in a transit hotel, where you take another PCR test. If the result is negative, you can proceed to your hotel and complete the remaining five days of quarantine there, while reporting your health condition daily to the health ministry. You also need to apply for a ‘health passport’ to travel around within Chile (it’s only allowed in certain regions, depending on their COVID-19 infection rates).There’s a 11p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew (more restrictive in some areas) and masks are mandatory in all urban areas.

Colombia

Famous for its coffee, rich culture and friendliness, Colombia is requiring visitors to take a PCR test up to 96 hours before flying there. Alternatively, if you sign a document claiming you were unable to get tested within that time frame, you can take one on arrival then quarantine for as long as the country’s health department instructs (up to 14 days).  Travelers are expected to quarantine for 7-10 days, and take another PCR test between days three and five. You also must fill out a form before departure and agree to contact tracing while in Colombia. All travelers are subject to health screening at the airports. Some cities have implemented curfews. Restrictions such as masks and social distancing vary greatly by city and department, click here for more details.

Costa Rica

Americans wanting a taste of the slow life in Costa Rica must provide proof of health insurance covering COVID-19 with expenses of up to $50,000, plus $2,000 worth of coverage for coronavirus-related quarantine. Immigration officials in Costa Rica have discretionary powers to decide the duration of your stay and are currently limiting it to correspond to your insurance coverage dates. You need to fill in an online Health Pass 48 hours before you travel. Face masks are required. Find more details here.

Cuba

As long as you don’t stay in a government hotel, Americans can travel to this northern Caribbean spot. You’ll need to take a PCR test 72 hours or less in advance of your arrival. You will need to take another one on arrival then self-isolate for five days. On day five there’s a third PCR test, but if it’s negative you’re free to look around, as long as you wear a mask. There are some restrictions on interstate travel and you must have non-U.S. medical insurance, which is usually included in airline prices for flights originating from the U.S., according to the State Department.

Curaçao

If you want to visit Curaçao’s turquoise bays,  you must complete an online immigration card, Health Department Passenger Locator Card, and purchase insurance. You also need to take a PCR test in the 72-hour window before you leave home. There’s a curfew from 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. More details available here. Under the current lockdown orders, beaches are closed, vehicles can only be used for ‘essential purposes’ and there’s a ‘stay at home order’ for Sundays.

Djibouti

Under the radar? Yes. Open to Americans? Also yes. Djibouti has picturesque beaches on the Gulf of Aden, amazing volcanic and mineral formations, salt lakes and world-class diving. This destination on the Horn of Africa requires travelers to obtain approval for an eVisa and take a PCR test up to 72 hours before departure (not more than 120 hours before arrival). All passengers take a minimally-invasive saliva test for COVID-19 on arrival ($30). If a high number of passengers on your flight test positive you may have to take a PR test too. Masks are required at airports and you must carry hand sanitizer with you during your trip and observe social distancing.

Dominica

This sunny eastern Caribbean enclave is allowing Americans to visit providing they show a negative PCR test taken 24-72 hours prior to arrival and agree to a Rapid Diagnostic Test on arrival too. You’ll need to submit a health questionnaire online 24 hours before arrival. All visitors must also agree to scheduled and unscheduled health checks (by phone or in person) during their stay. You also must quarantine at a COVID-certified hotel and take a PCR test on day five. If the test is negative the quarantine is over. You also need to wear a mask in public.

Dominican Republic

This tropical paradise requires all visitors to fill out an E-Ticket for entry and exit. Until then, you need to fill in a health declaration form to attest to not having had any symptoms within the past 72 hours and provide details of where you’ll be staying for the next 30 days. Rapid tests are carried out randomly on 3-10 percent of arrivals and there may be temperature checks at airports. You must wear a mask in public places, and there is a nationwide curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m during the week and from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends. Amazingly, all arrivals get a free temporary health coverage plan, although medical care is limited so you’ll probably still need private insurance which covers medical evacuation.

Ecuador

This environmentally diverse nation slicing through the equator is open to all Americans who can present a negative PCR test taken up to 3 days before they fly or show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19. You may also have to take another rapid test on arrival in Ecuador. There are special additional requirements if you’re heading to the Galapagos Islands. You need to take a second PCR test no more than 96 hours before you get to the Galapagos Islands. That’s unless you get there within 96 hours of arriving in Ecuador, in which case you can use the same one as you used to get into Ecuador. You also need a ‘salvoconducto’ (safe conduct) pass from your tour operator to enter Galapagos. There’s a curfew in some areas; hours vary by province or municipality.

Egypt

Whether you want to see the pyramids or go diving in the Red Sea, you’ll need to show a paper copy of a PCR test taken up to 96 hours before your arrival in Egypt if you’re traveling from the USA. The State Department has heard anecdotal reports of passengers with tests taken over 72 hours before boarding being turned away. There could be some confusion because most other countries are only given a 72-hour window. You also need to show proof of health insurance. If you’re traveling directly to the resort town of Sharm El Sheikh, you can fly without a PCR test, take one on arrival then quarantine at your hotel until the results come through. Masks must be worn in public.

El Salvador

If you want to explore the lush landscape, beaches and archaeology of El Salvador, you can, providing you can show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of your outbound travel. Masks must be worn at all times and there’s health screening at the airports. There are also some restrictions on domestic travel.

Equatorial Guinea

If you’re heading to this Central African nation for gorilla-spotting, volcanic islands or Spanish colonial architecture, you need a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours of your flight out there. All arrivals are also given a Rapid Test and must quarantine for five days. On the fifth day, you take another PCR test ($200) and if it’s negative, the quarantine is over. Nightclubs and beaches are closed and there are some restrictions on inter-district travel, so check and plan before you go. Masks are required in public and there’s a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Gabon

Located on the Atlantic coast of central Africa, Gabon has plenty to tempt adventurous travelers, from its beaches and fishing villages to the Crystal Mountains. You’ll need to take a PCR test up to five days before you fly and another on arrival ($37), then quarantine until you get the results. These test results allow you to move between cities in Gabon too. Masks are required in public. There’s a curfew in the capital, Libreville, from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The Gambia

With rich wildlife and golden beaches, The Gambia has been slowly growing in popularity among travelers from outside the region as a ‘new’ destination to explore. Americans can visit as long as they can provide a PCR test taken up to 72 hours before travel. Due to the new strain of coronavirus being detected in the US, you now also have to take a second test on arrival. Masks are mandatory in public and you can see the latest updates here.

Georgia

Whether you dreamed of checking out the Black Sea beaches, mountain villages or joining the growing digital nomad hubs, Georgia has opened its borders for visitors once again this year. Travelers of all nationalities can enter if they can present a COVID-19 vaccine certificate confirming they’ve received two full doses of the vaccine. Otherwise, you can fill in this application form and present a PCR test taken up to 72 hours before you fly there, then self-isolate until after you’ve taken another PCR test on day three (but vaccinated travelers don’t need to take any PCR tests for entry, nor during their stay). There’s a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.Face masks must be worn in enclosed public spaces, in taxis and on other public transport.

Ghana

With forests, beaches, rich history and sustainable tourism, Ghana is a very diverse destination. Ghana is welcoming Americans with negative PCR tests taken up to 72 hours before arrival. On arrival, there’s a $150 COVID-19 test at the airport, which you have to pay for before departure here. (You have to present proof of this payment to the airline before you board). Tests come back within about 30 minutes and if negative, there’s no requirement to quarantine. Face masks are mandatory in public.

Grenada

If you want to visit the ‘Spice Isle’ you’ll need to apply for a Pure Safe Travel Certificate before you fly. A PCR test taken up to three days before travel is also required, then you must quarantine for seven days at an approved location, then self-monitor and self-report for seven days after quarantine ends. Grenada is only allowing visitors booking at least seven days to stay there. On the fourth or fifth day of your stay you must take another PCR test ($150) and after you get the green light (within 48 hours) then you’re free to explore, providing you continue to monitor your health for symptoms and self-report for the next two days, follow social distancing protocols and wear a mask on public transport. There’s a curfew from midnight to 4 a.m.

Guatemala

These rainforests and ancient Mayan sites are yours to explore providing you show a negative PCR test on arrival. It has to have been taken 72 hours prior to arrival and you also must complete the Health Pass before you arrive. If you were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least two weeks prior to travel, or recovered from COVID within the past three months, you can show medical documentation instead of taking a PCR test. Masks are required in all public areas.

Haiti

The Dominican Republic’s next-door neighbor is still allowing visitors from the U.S. to enter, providing you can show a negative PCR test result, taken no more than 72 hours before boarding. Alternatively, you can skip the requirement for a test if you can show medical documents confirming you recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days. You’ll be asked to fill out a health declaration form with contact details at your hotel and will be subject to health screening at the airport. Masks are required in public and you may get a check-in from an official at the Ministry of Health during your stay.

Honduras

While the country is still recovering from Hurricane Eta, Honduras is still keeping its borders open for tourists including American arrivals. You’ll need to complete this health declaration and bring a printed copy of it as well as show a negative PCR test on arrival. Face masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing is mandatory. There are restrictions on inter-state travel. There is also a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Ireland

While you can still visit Ireland, the Irish Government is urging people only to go for essential purposes and the country is now in full lockdown. This means nobody can travel more than 5 miles from their residence, shopping is only allowed for essential items and bars, cafes and restaurants are closed (food can only be ordered to go). All arrivals must present a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours prior to arrival, fill in a Passenger Locator form, self-isolate for 14 days, and agree to restricting movement. Face masks must be worn on public transport and are recommended in any crowded outdoor areas too.

Iceland

Iceland is now allowing anybody who is fully vaccinated to explore this land of raw dramatic scenery. You need to fill in a pre-registration form before you travel and submit a negative PCR test along with it, taken up to 72 hours before your flight. Until April 6, Americans also have to undergo two COVID tests on arrival and on day five (and quarantine between the results), but the testing and quarantine requirements are being phased out soon for all nationalities. The tests are free of charge. Click here for more information.

Jamaica

The tropical island of Jamaica is allowing American travelers in, but with certain restrictions. You’ll need to apply for travel authorization online in advance, including a negative PCR test from an accredited lab taken up to three days before your departure date. Then you will have to quarantine for up to 14 days at a selected hotel upon arrival. The tourist board has a very informative website explaining requirements. There’s a curfew and some restrictions on inter-state travel.

Jordan

Maybe you’ve always dreamed of posing like Indiana Jones in front of the rock temple at Petra. Here’s the good news – it’s still possible. Americans must complete a health declaration form including a negative PCR test up to 72 hours before they leave home, then take a $46 PCR test on arrival. They must also prove they have adequate health insurance. There’s a weekly curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. As with most places, masks and social distancing are required.

Kenya

Most famous for its savanna safaris, this beautiful country is open to Americans who can present a negative PCR test taken up to 96 hours before arrival. The test will shortly need to be verified via the Trusted Travel initiative.. You’ll have to apply for an e-visa before boarding your flight. There’s health screening at the airport, masks are mandatory in public, and there’s a curfew from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Kiribati

This off-the-beaten track collection of central Pacific islands requires all American visitors to quarantine for 14 days in another country outside of the U.S. before they can enter. It has to be a third country which isn’t on their restricted list (which is quite long and can be found here). But if you can do that, and also show medical clearance stating you’re free of COVID-19, then you’re good to go. Kiribati has no confirmed COVID-19 cases, so there are no additional restrictions.

Kosovo

While Kosovo hasn’t blocked Americans from vacationing there, both Kosovo and the U.S. State Department are urging Americans not to visit. If you do, Kosovo doesn’t require  a negative PCR but some airlines do (or may cause delays if you don’t have one). Restaurants and bars close at 10 p.m. Masks are required in public, with hefty fines and prison sentences for those caught violating the mandate.

Lebanon

Americans can visit if they fill in a health declaration form and show a negative PCR test taken up to 96 hours before their arrival. You must then take a PCR test on arrival and then another PCR test within 72 hours ($50) and quarantine for up to 72 hours at a designated pre-paid hotel (until you receive a negative result). During this time you also have to use an app to demonstrate your compliance. There are fines for anyone not wearing a mask in public.

Malawi

This land of diverse landscapes and wildlife is a great destination for nature-loving adventurers. Malawi is accepting all visitors who can present a negative PCR test taken up to 10 days before arrival. Just before you land, or at the airport, you’ll be given a Travel Surveillance Form to fill in. Despite its somewhat austere title, it’s just another health/contact tracing form that you’ll need to hand over to health officials at the airport. You may also be tested on arrival at your own expense (results within 24 hours). As long as the results are negative, you then only need to self-monitor for COVID symptoms for the next 14 days. During this time, health officials might check up on you and you’ll need to wear a mask in public for the duration of your stay. There’s a curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The Maldives

These Indian Ocean islands are still a popular destination for luxury travelers. The tropical archipelago is open to U.S. passport holders. You’ll need to present a negative PCR test taken up to 96 hours before arrival. Some resorts may require one or more PCR tests to be taken during your stay. The resorts doing this normally allow guests to be mask-free after the additional tests. Each resort is on a private island of its own (separated from the general public) which means they’re all in their own ‘safety bubbles’. But each of the 130-plus resorts have a slightly different position on masks. However, masks are universally required during transit and at airports. There’s health screening at the airports too. Guesthouses are open again but for these non-resort islands where the local community lives there’s exit screening if you want to move to another inhabited island and you need to take a PCR test up to 72 hours before departure. The latest updates are here and here.

Mexico

From the cliffs of Cabo San Lucas to the sun-kissed shorelines of the Mexican Caribbean, Mexico is still open to its American neighbors. There’s health screening at airports but when it comes to rules on masks and curfews, they are highly regionalized. Some states, such as Quintana Roo (known for the tourist playgrounds of Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen), are enforcing mask wearing in public, limiting how many people can enter shops and installing hand sanitizer stations. Details state by state are available on this page. Unfortunately, infections are on the rise and the government is poised to take ‘extraordinary’ measures to curb the virus spread, so be prepared for sudden changes.

Montenegro

Lapped by the sparkling Adriatic Sea, Montenegro is one of the less well-known southern European retreats. American travelers can enter with a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before arrival, or with a positive result for IgG antibodies (verified by a registered lab no more than 30 days before travel, or if you can provide evidence of having been fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine at least seven days prior to arrival there’s no need for a test. There’s a nightly curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and all cafes, bars and restaurants close at 8 p.m. Face masks must be worn in all public areas. There are also restrictions on inter-city travel including a total ban at weekends and travel from certain municipalities is restricted.

Mozambique

You can still see Mozambique’s blissful beaches and coral islands, it’s just currently a little harder to get to than before. Visas are available once again on arrival at the airport, providing you have a return ticket and a hotel booking. (However, some arrivals have been turned away so it’s less risky to get a visa in advance from the Mozambican Embassy in Washington D.C.) You’ll need to present a negative PCR test on arrival, taken no more than 72 hours earlier. Masks or face shields are required.

Namibia

All visitors to this spectacular southwest African nation will have to show a negative PCR test taken within seven days of travel. Airports are conducting health screenings and masks are mandatory in public. There is a curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and alcohol can only be purchased up until 8 p.m. to consume on site at bars, casinos etc. No alcohol is for sale on Sundays and public holidays.

Nicaragua

This beautiful country, noted for its lakes, volcanoes and beaches, is less-touristy than its neighbor, Costa Rica. A negative PCR test and/or serology test is required for entry to Nicaragua. There is health screening at the airports and people are encouraged to wear masks, but very few other restrictions are in place presently.

North Macedonia

Tucked away just north of Greece, New Macedonia is a landlocked enclave that’s allowing tourists to enter with no restrictions or testing requirements. There’s health screening at the airport and you’ll have to wear a face mask in public and stay 6ft away from people in accordance with the country’s social distancing requirements. Bars, cafes and restaurants stop serving customers at 9 p.m and there’s a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Oman

Arabian Sea beaches, watersports, desert sand dunes and souks are just some of the highlights of the sultanate, which has recently reopened to visitors. If you’re itching to explore, first you have to buy travel insurance, download the Tarassud+ app, fill in the health forms and pre-pay for a PCR test you’ll take on arrival. Then you’ll need to take a PCR test at home 72 hours before your flight and to carry a copy with you to show airline staff and immigration officials. You’ll need to quarantine in a government facility and wear a tracking bracelet ($13) for the first week then take another PCR test ($65) on day eight. If the test is negative, quarantine is over. Masks must be worn in public. All beaches and public parks are closed and there’s a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Panama

The Panama Canal is a sight to behold, and if you can present a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before you fly you’ll be allowed into Panama to see it. Alternatively, you can take one on arrival for $50. All visitors must sign a sworn affidavit regarding their health, then will receive a QR code to show to immigration officers on arrival. There’s a national curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m and some additional travel restrictions and curfews in several regions of Panama.. Everyone must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth in public or they’re subject to a fine or detention.

Paraguay

The ‘heart of South America’ is welcoming all nationalities including Americans as long as you fill in a health card 24 hours before travel and can show a PCR test taken within 72 hours of your flight. You’ll need to print out the health form, which contains a QR code that will be scanned before you board and again when you get off the plane. You’ll need to show proof of a travel insurance policy that covers COVID-19. Masks are required in public and there’s a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Peru

This fascinating country is allowing American visitors in if you can present a negative PCR test, antigen test or a medical certificate epidemiological discharge conducted with 72 hours of departure and fill in a health declaration form first. When you arrive you will need to quarantine for up to 14 days (you can’t visit for less than 14 days) but if you take an antigen test on day one and it’s negative, you won’t have to stay in quarantine. Masks must be worn in public but  there’s a curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m, and all-day Sundays.  Face shields are required in addition to masks when traveling interstate.

Rwanda

If you want to visit this beautiful country you’ll have to comply with quite a lot of conditions. You’ll need to take a RT-PCR test up to 72 hours before you fly there, then send a copy of it along with your online passenger locator form to Immigration. Upon arrival, you must show a print-out of your PCR test to immigration officials. There’s mandatory COVID-testing at the airport ($60, at your own expense) and you’ll have to quarantine for 24 hours at a designated transit hotel. After you get the results, you then need to self-quarantine for seven days at a designated quarantine hotel. At the end of this period, you’ll receive a text message inviting you to attend a designated test site for a final test (free). If it’s negative, quarantine is over. . If you’re visiting a national park, you’re exempt from the seven-day quarantine (but need to show proof of your plans and your PCR test result). Or if you’re visiting a national park after completing quarantine in the city, you’ll need to show a recent PCR test. There are some restrictions on inter-state travel. There’s a 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew nationwide.

Saint Kitts and Nevis

If you’re heading to these stunning islands you must submit a travel form before you depart and download the SKN COVID-19 mobile tracing app. You’ll also need a PCR test taken 48 to 72 hours before your flight from an approved lab. Quarantine is required at approved hotels, with slightly different levels of freedom depending upon the duration of your vacation. If you’re staying up to seven days, you can move around the hotel, interact with guests and take part in hotel activities. If you’re staying longer than that, then on day eight you have to take a PCR test ($100) and if negative, you’ll be able to book select excursions going outside of the hotel. On day 14, you pay for another $100 PCR test but then you’re free to roam everywhere, providing you wear a mask in public.

Saint Lucia

Americans are welcome to come to this beautiful island if they fill in two special forms and present a PCR test taken up to five days before they travel. Bring print-outs of the test results, auto-response email and travel authorization letter. Travelers from outside the CARICOM Bubble must stay at an approved hotel for the duration of their stay, unless they’re transferring to another approved hotel or taking part in hotel activities. After 14 days of quarantine at their hotel they’re free to explore. Face masks are required in public and there’s a curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. (7 p.m. to 4 a.m. during Easter weekend).

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

As with many of the other Caribbean islands open to U.S. travelers right now, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines requires you to complete a pre-arrival form and take a PCR test. This must be taken no more than 72 hours before arrival. You’ll need to prove you have a reservation at an approved quarantine hotel, may have to take another PCR test on arrival, then will have to quarantine at an approved hotel for 14 days, where you’ll be re-tested for COVID-19 between days four and day seven.

São Tomé and Príncipe

This lush tropical African island nation is paradise for hikers and beach-lovers. Americans can currently enter with a PCR test taken up to three days before departure. There’s another PCR test required on arrival ($37), you’ll need to self-quarantine until you get the results, and everybody must wear a mask in public areas. Clubs are closed. On Príncipe there are now restrictions including a curfew from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. To travel between Príncipe and São Tomé you need to submit a COVID-19 rapid test within 24 hours of departure. 

Senegal

From diverse wildlife parks to its shimmering beaches, Senegal has a lot to offer and is a model for stability in the region. Many English-speaking tourists aren’t so familiar with this destination but French travelers have been going for years. Americans are able to visit if they can provide a negative PCR test on arrival taken at an approved laboratory no more than five days prior. You’ll have to complete a passenger location form and wear a mask in public.

 Serbia

This is another country in the Balkans that’s accepting American visitors, providing you’ve taken a PCR test or antigen test up to 48 hours before you travel. During your visit you’ll have to wear a mask indoors and outdoors. All non-essential businesses including bars and restaurants (except for essential services like gas stations) are closed.

Seychelles

This beautiful tropical island paradise is welcoming any traveler of any nationality (including Americans) who’ve had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. You have to apply here and submit a certificate from your national health authority confirming you’ve had both doses. You’ll also need to submit a negative PCR test taken up to 72 hours before travel. When you’re in the island nation, you’ll need to wear a mask in public. There’s a curfew from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Sint Maarten/Saint-Martin (Dutch/French)

Whether you’re going to the French-side or the Dutch-side of this popular Caribbean destination, you’ll need to complete an online immigration card and present a FDA-approved rapid antigen test, taken up to 48 hours before your flight, or a negative PCR test, taken up to 72 hours before your flight. This includes antigen tests with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) but excludes home tests.In addition, you’ll have to sign a statement saying you have no coronavirus symptoms and haven’t been in contact with anyone who had COVID-19 within 14 days of your flight. You also have to monitor your temperature and look out for symptoms for 14 days. Health insurance is another requirement for entry – the St Maarten Protection Plan covers any COVID-related costs for travelers if they test positive while on the island. Masks are required in public and there are temperature scans and officials watching for people who might be displaying coronavirus symptoms at the airport. The tourist board posts updates here (Dutch side) and here (French side).

South Africa

South Africa reopened its borders late in November to everyone, and Americans can visit providing you can show a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of your flight. However, this one might be better saved as a ‘dream now, travel later’ destination – restrictions could change fast due to concerns over a new coronavirus strain here. If you haven’t taken a PCR test, you can stay in quarantine at your own expense. There is health screening at the airport and all arrivals are asked to download a health app. The curfew is from midnight to 4 a.m. Face masks are required in public.

South Korea

To visit South Korea, Americans must take a PCR test up to 72 hours before arrival then quarantine for 14 days in government-designated facilities at their own expense ($100-150 per night). There’s health screening at the airports and you may have to take a PCR test on arrival. You also won’t be able to take any domestic flights until the 14-day quarantine period is over. All visitors are required to download a health app and respond to questions daily. Face masks covering both your nose and mouth are compulsory in public places and there are hefty fines for non-compliance with health protection requirements like breaking quarantine or refusing to take a PCR test.

Sri Lanka

This large tropical island of jungles, mountains, tea plantations and temples has just reopened to the world. Under its new safety protocols, you’ll need to apply for a visa online first via the new app. During the process, you prepay for two PCR tests ($40 each) that you’ll take on arrival and between days five and seven during your stay. If you’re staying over seven days you’ll also need to buy a third one too. You need to opt in for COVID-19 insurance cover ($12) which has you covered for a month or you can snap up this mandatory policy when you book your hotel or flight.

Next up – hotels! Sri Lanka now has a list of approved ‘Safe and Secure’ hotels which you must choose from. There’s no mandatory minimum stay, the people dealing with your application just need to see a booking of up to 14 days (although you can stay longer). Once you’ve applied and been approved, you take a negative PCR test from an accredited lab within 96 hours of your flight. This is submitted along with a Health Declaration Form before you board, on board or on arrival.

While you’re in Sri Lanka, you can switch from your hotel to another ‘Level 1 Safe and Secure hotel’ (traveling in a ‘bio-security bubble) and visit up to 14 approved sites. After 14 days (if you tested negative the whole time) you’re able to leave and mix with the community.

Tanzania

Famed for its national parks and the glittering tropical islands of Zanzibar, tourism is still important business for Tanzania. The country is leaving requirements for PCR tests up to the airline you fly with. There’s health screening at the airports and you may be required to take a test on arrival. On the plane there you’ll be asked to fill in a health questionnaire. Face mask requirements may vary by city and region but be prepared to use one.

Thailand

The ‘Land of Smiles’ has recently reopened to travelers of all nationalities, including Americans, and is one of the few countries that’s been praised for its exemplary handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, life is ‘near normal’ for Thais now and the CDC rates it as one of the lowest-risk countries to visit.

To keep things that way, they’re requiring visitors to apply here for entry (even if you’re a traveler from a visa-exempt country like the U.S.A.) This one-stop portal is where you apply for a Certificate of Entry (approvals takes three days), then you must book an Alternative State Quarantine (including luxury hotels) through the same portal within 15 days of visa approval. For this, you also need to upload a scan of your passport and your travel insurance policy (which must cover COVID-19, minimum coverage of $100,000 USD). This part takes three days to process and you can check progress online.

You then get a Certificate of Entry which you’ll need to print out then show to airline and immigration officials along with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours and a Fit to Travel medical certificate. There’s a PCR test on arrival and face masks are compulsory in public. Quarantine is for 15 days but Thailand is perfect for long-stay travelers and digital nomads.

Tunisia

Tunisia is a country of breathtaking desert scenery where the original Star Wars was filmed. And right now it’s another ‘yes and no’ country when it comes to travel. While the country is technically allowing all nationalities including Americans to visit, immigration officials have the discretion to turn away travelers on arrival. If you’re going, you need to present a PCR test taken within 72 hours of your flight and agree to quarantine at selected hotels. After 48 hours in quarantine you can choose to take another PCR test ($7) and if the result is negative you’re free to leave quarantine. Some arrivals may be asked to take a rapid test. Face masks are mandatory in public. There’s a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5.a.m.

Turkey

The bridge between East and West has been a travel hub for millennia and isn’t showing any signs of changing now. If you’re paying a visit, you must have filled in this form and taken a PCR test up to 72 hours before your flight . You can submit documents showing you’ve recovered from COVID-19 instead, if that applies to you. There’s health screening at the airports and symptomatic arrivals may be transported to a hospital for further checks. You’ll be asked to fill in an information form and if anyone on your flight is found to have COVID-19, you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days. There is a curfew but it doesn’t apply to tourists and dining venues are open for foreigners. Masks are required on public transport.

Turks and Caicos

Americans can visit these pretty coral islands as long as they obtain pre-authorization. That involves submitting a negative PCR test from an accredited lab via the country’s special web portal (it has to be taken up to five days before travel) as well as a health questionnaire. You need travel insurance from an approved insurer. On arrival, there are health checks like temperature screening at the airport. Some visitors may be required to undergo another PCR test or a blood sample. Masks are required in public and there’s a curfew (hours vary by island).

Uganda

From chimpanzees and gorillas to rare birds and hippos, Uganda is a nature-lover’s heaven. The East African destination is allowing Americans to visit as long as they take precautions including a negative PCR test taken up to 120 hours before departure. The test must come from a US government-accredited lab. You’ll need to present the test to your airline to receive confirmation of your booking. There’s health screening on arrival, masks are required in public and there is a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Ukraine

Known for its Orthodox churches and Black Sea coastline, Ukraine is still welcoming tourists. Anyone coming from America or other ‘red zone’ countries must self-quarantine or take a PCR test on arrival. Alternatively, if you choose to take a PCR test 48 hours before you arrive you won’t need to take a second test or be in quarantine. You do need to demonstrate you have adequate travel insurance and wearing a face mask that covers both your nose and mouth is mandatory in public spaces.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Americans can get visas on arrival in the UAE if they present a negative PCR test taken with 96 hours of travel. Many arrivals are also being tested when they land in the UAE. You need to demonstrate you have health insurance and while quarantine requirements vary by emirate, be prepared to quarantine for 10 days, with follow-up PCR tests. If you’re arriving in Dubai, there’s no quarantine, unless you’re asked to take a PCR test on arrival. But those visiting Abu Dhabi from the US are required to wear a GPS bracelet for 10 days then take PCR tests on days three and seven. Everyone is required to wear a mask in public across the UAE.

United Kingdom

Several countries have imposed sudden travel restrictions on flights to and from the United Kingdom. You now need to take a PCR test  up to three days before you fly to the UK, plus sign a passenger attestation stating you received a negative result. England and Scotland are now in nationwide lockdown so you won’t be able to leave your hotel if you visit at the moment, unless you’re transiting to Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you’re planning on visiting either of the other countries within the United Kingdom that aren’t locked down, you’ll still have to quarantine for 14 days. All visitors must also provide their contact details and itinerary before they travel and there’s a huge fine for self-isolation violations (over $1,300). The UK has introduced a new three-tier local COVID-19 restrictions system which is subject to flux depending on regional infection numbers. These restrictions can affect your domestic travel plans as they can involve local lockdowns.

Uzbekistan

If you’ve always wanted to see the Silk Road, you can currently still visit Uzbekistan. Americans must apply for a visa and take a PCR test up to 72 hours before arrival. Arrivals also have to take a $9 rapid antigen test and wait for the results before they leave the airport.Entertainment and cultural facilities are only open for tourists. Masks are required.

Zambia

Bordering Zimbabwe, this land of rugged terrain and safari areas was pretty popular among tourists until the pandemic hit. Americans must present a negative PCR test, taken up to 14 days before your journey. There’s health screening including thermo-scanners at the airports and a health/itinerary questionnaire to complete. Americans arriving in Zambia are required to quarantine for 14 days, during which time there’s further testing ($100-150) and health monitoring. Masks are required in public.

Omissions: War-torn countries and those with extremely high risk of violent crime against tourists have been excluded from this list. Countries allowing only U.S. medical personnel, diplomats, work permit holders, or those only giving exemptions for family emergencies have also been excluded.

24/7 Protection Against Harmful Blue Light with Viteyes Blue Light Defender Kids

Did you know that exposure to blue light before bedtime can disrupt sleep patterns as it affects when our bodies create melatonin? With screentime for kids having increased by 500% during the pandemic, an inside out approach with Viteyes® Blue Light Defender™Kids can be an effective method to help protect their eyes 24/7.

Viteyes® has created Blue Light Defender™ Kids, a nutritional supplement formulated with lutein and zeaxanthin, the only natural defense eyes have to protect the macula from the harmful effects of blue light that stem from digital screens such as smart phones, tablets, TVs, computers and even sunlight.

Also, because Blue Light Defender™ Kids is not only formulated with lutein and zeaxanthin but also Astaxanthin, it’s packed with antioxidants that kids may be lacking in their diets. And with its delicious chocolate berry soft chew kids won’t even realize that it’s filled with stuff that’s good for them.

My son (and honestly, my husband as well) both liked these. My husband said they tasted vaguely of chocolate- I didn’t get that, but hey. Neither of them ever complained about taking these chews, and both like to complain, LOL. Especially the husband-  my son makes considerably less fuss. It’s always the big ones, isn’t it? Does it work? I can’t tell you that. I have no idea, and there is no way I can tell personally. The science says it does, and I know that Blue Light is a big problem, so I’m hopeful- and I’m glad they both like the taste.

kids supplement

Only 1 in 11 American kids are getting the necessary amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin in their diet, which include food sources such as eggs, broccoli, and dark leafy greens, like kale and spinach. Both ingredients act as powerful antioxidants to filter out blue light and also play a crucial role in visual development in the retina of the eye. Lutein is also found in the brain, depositing in the areas known for visual processing, comprehension, learning and memory. Staring at digital screens can also overwork the eyes causing digital eye strain. Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant clinically proven to help eyes recover from eye strain and fatigue. It also helps keep eyes healthy by increasing blood flow to the eye. Astaxanthin is found in select seafood like shrimp and lobster, however the best source in food is salmon.

With Viteyes® Blue Light Defender™ Kids (ages 4+) as well as their existing Viteyes® Blue Light Defender gummies (ages 12- adult) and Viteyes® Blue Light Defender™ Plus capsules (ages 12 – adult), they’re able to offer a natural defense against harmful blue light for almost all ages.

Learn more at https://youtu.be/A0K1ZhMjo-I.

CBD Wellness 101- What Every Beginner Needs To Know

When cannabis became legal a few years ago, its derivatives gained acceptance and gradually earned widespread popularity. CBD, in particular, has established itself as a leading wellness and beauty trend. Medical research indicates much about its therapeutic benefits, and there is a lot more you will find about it in the wellness circles. There are magazine and news articles that validate the scientific evidence, celebrity testimonials that endorse CBD, and wellness practitioners who recommend products for a host of health conditions. Before you integrate CBD into your daily routine, you must know and understand some facts. 

CBD heals the body and mind

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in cannabis plants, so you can embrace it without worrying about getting high. The healing potential of this cannabinoid is immense as it works on your body and mind. It can relieve chronic pain, fine-tune digestive processes, regulate sleep patterns, and boost immune responses. Beyond treating physical health issues, it can alleviate stress and anxiety and balance your mood. The best part about using it as a wellness therapy is that it is safe and natural while being effective. It can help you steer clear of the side effects of painkillers, sleeping pills, and anti-depressants.

Many options to explore 

Beginners looking to switch to CBD-based wellness have access to many options in products and methods of consumption. You may order cbd tinctures and oils, soft gels, and topical products. There is a wide range in edibles too, from baked goodies to gummies, chocolates, candies, and more. Alternatively, you can try cooking edibles or brewing tea or coffee by infusing CBD into your recipes. The choice of products and methods boils down to your preference and expectations. While you can pick the oral options if you want to taste the product, topical creams and lotions are the best for those who do not want to ingest it. 

Making CBD work for you

Incorporating CBD into your ongoing wellness routine is a breeze, and you need not do much to embrace it as a therapy. You can start the morning with a cup of infused beverage, chew a gummy in the middle of a busy day, relish an edible with your evening drinks, or apply a lotion on your skin at bedtime. But making it work for you as a beginner needs some caution and awareness. Start slowly with a small dose to understand how it works on your system. You may seek guidance from a seasoned user or a medical practitioner when you embark on this new journey. Eventually, you will understand what products and doses give you the best results.

Another useful piece of advice for newbies is to always get quality products from a reliable source, even if you have to spend a little more. Consistency is the key to getting the best results with CBD-based wellness, just as with any other alternative therapy. Be regular with your daily dose of CBD wellness, and you can avail its myriad benefits sooner rather than later. 

FOOD & FERTILITY: A FASCINATING LINK

Struggling to conceive? You are not alone. One in eight couples in the US have difficulty getting or staying pregnant, many without explanation and who are otherwise healthy.

Before giving up hope or turning to Reproductive Medicine, (or other expensive, invasive treatments) there are several things you should try first to help you get pregnant. Although there is no magic formula that guarantees conception, there is a lot you can do to boost your chances.

According to Dr. Robert Kiltz, many people underestimate the serious impact that diet, lifestyle, and stress have on fertility.

“We already know that what we eat plays a huge role in helping our bodies function properly, and the reproductive system is no different…”

…says Dr. Kiltz, a board-certified OB/GYN and reproductive endocrinologist with more than three decades of experience helping families grow. As the founder of CNY Fertility, (one of the largest and most dynamic fertility centers in the country),  Dr. Kiltz has witnessed the positive power of nutrition to bring new life into the world.

So what should you eat to boost your chances?

Dr. Kiltz recommends a diet high in fats, moderate in proteins, and low in carbohydrates – and he is not alone in this belief. A growing body of new research supports a low-carb lifestyle for fertility. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that women who consumed approximately 60% of their calories from carbohydrates (vs. 40%) had a 91% higher risk of ovulatory infertility.

We already know that low-carb diets (if done correctly) are an extremely effective strategy for weight loss, but what does carbohydrate consumption have to do with fertility? According to Kiltz, carbohydrates play a primary role in determining blood sugar and insulin levels. If blood sugar and/or insulin levels are too high, reproductive hormone levels can be thrown off which can ultimately have an effect on ovulation and therefore, fertility.

How often you eat also plays a role. Dr. Kiltz practices and recommends “intermittent fasting,” eating just one meal a day at night and allowing the body the time it needs to rest and digest. Most people eat 3-6 times per day which keeps glucose levels high and increases inflammation.

According to Dr. Kiltz, mental health is also an extremely important factor in fertility, which is problematic in the wake of a pandemic, vaccine anxiety, economic decline, social disruption, and political turbulence.

In his book, The Fertile Feast, Dr. Kiltz explores the fascinating connection between food and fertility and emphasizes the importance of diet and how it influences the overall wellbeing of mind, body, and spirit and ultimately your ability to conceive.

“Fertility is much more than just diet and exercise. It’s also about your frame of mind…”

…says Kiltz who, after initially making a name for himself in fertility medicine, became a leader in the holistic health movement for his insights on mindfulness, mental health, and nutrition.

He encourages his patients who are having difficulty with conception to connect with others in deep, joyous, and meaningful ways.

(Credit for this post goes to Dr. Robert Kiltz, Fertility Doctor & Author of The Fertile Feast)

Sorry We’ve Been MIA- We’ve Had #Covid19

So, we’ve been a little hard to reach lately, and the emails have been stacking up. I wanted to share with you that we’ve had Covid-19, and were very, very sick for quite a minute there. Now that we are starting to get back online and back to “normal” lives again, we wanted to let you know that we didn’t forget about anyone and we are going to get back to every single one of you.

I have a few winners to announce, and lots of items I had planned for my annual “Holiday Gift Guide”, but I was just to sick to do it this year, I apologize. I tried to get on as much as I could, but it wasn’t a lot. I really wan’t well.

We made a short video for you, thank you for sticking with us and for understanding.

PLEASE BE SAFE out there. As hard as we tried and as little as we went out, we still got sick. Take every precaution, I hope you all stay healthy and have a wonderful 2021. Hugs!