I guess you want to know who Laura Kiniry is.

San Francisco-based Laura Kiniry is a full-time freelance writer with bylines in BBC Travel, Smithsonian, Atlas Obscura, and dozens of other online and print publications. When she's not interviewing Japan's legendary ama divers or learning the art of pretzel-making in Germany, she's occasionally harvesting olives in Italy.

Laura Kiniry

How to Provide a Clean Bill of Health When Traveling

 Laura Kiniry   3 minute read

Happy New Year! Let’s start jetsetting into the future.

While we were all hibernating, a new slew of travel requirements for flyers has been proposed when we were busy RV road-tripping and hitting up national parks. How can we prove that we’ve been adequately cleared for take-off next time we head to the airport?

Possible Requirements

Due to the unpredicatable nature of traveling these days, bring everything possible in terms of health requirements:

  • Face mask
  • Face shield
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Vaccination card
  • Proof of antibodies
  • COVID test within 24-72 hours
  • Funds & time for a 10-14-day quarantine

Please check local requirements for exact timeframes. It is highly recommended to be prepared as possible, even though some things such as vaccination proof may not be immediately available.

Though almost every airline and destination still have its own individual prerequisites, here are some ways travel might be made safer and more efficient in the coming months.

The IATA is launching an immunity passport

Consider this the new Global Entry card.

Depending on the traveler and the destination, an immunity passport might mean carrying documented proof of a positive COVID-19 test, one clearly conveying that you’ve already contracted the coronavirus and have since recovered.

This is what’s needed for international travelers planning to visit countries like Iceland and Hungary.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which is the trade association for a bulk of the world’s airlines, is also developing the IATA Travel Pass, a contactless digital health pass. They’re planning to launch it over the next few months.

Basically, the pass will allow travelers who’ve either received a negative COVID test result or a COVID vaccine to forgo quarantine once reaching their destination. It will also provide governments, airlines, and travelers the digital information to know exactly what test requirements—a negative COVID result from a test taken 72 hours or less before take-off—are needed for, say, a flight from the U.S. to the Azores.

The pass will also allow travelers to find out where they can get tested and vaccinated, giving governments the ability to match test results with the actual travelers who are presenting them, making sure they match up.

These test results will be obtained directly from authorized labs and test centers that conduct them and and will be stored digitally within the pass.

The overall goal of the IATA Travel Pass is to help standardize COVID-19 testing for all international travelers, though there are currently other options for assuring safer transport. It’s exciting!

Showing a vaccination card

Let’s be clear, an immunity passport and a vaccine card are two different things.

Though the former can shows that you’ve already had COVID-19 and developed antibodies, have recently tested negative, OR have been vaccinated for COVID-19, the latter is to keep track of which vaccine you received and the dosage.

The paper card serves as an extra record of which vaccine (at this stage there are two most in use are Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna; the New York Times has a full list of vaccines in development stages and usage) you received, as well as when both the first and second doses were distributed.

It may even come in handy for flying on airlines like Qantas, which is considering requiring vaccinations for all of its international travelers, starting in the second half of 2021.

However, paper cards can be forged easily. Because of this, a non-profit organization called the Commons Project Foundation, in partnership with the Word Economic Forum and various airlines and health systems, is putting together the CommonPass.

This is an app in which users can upload COVID-19 test results (and eventually, vaccination proof), creating a health certificate or pass in the form of a QR code. Travelers can then provide this digital code to show that they’re COVID-clear without having to keep track of a paper document.

Everyone has different requirements

The best way to assure you have everything needed to provide a clean bill of health is to research the individual destinations, and the airlines you’ll be using to travel to and from there.

This isn’t quite the moment to be so spontaneous with those travels..

Most countries, states, airlines, and even airports are continuing to set their own requirements. This not only includes proof of a clean bill of heath, but other prerequisites as well.

For example, at Lima, Peru’s Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM), passengers are not only to wear a face mask, but also either a face shield or safety glasses to travel (even to transit!). Both masks and face shield are required on all Qatar Airways flights.

The bulk of the Hawaiian islands will let travelers with negative COVID test results (from a test administered 72 hours or less from the final scheduled flight to Hawaii, and by a state-approved testing provider) forgo the state’s mandatory 10-day quarantine. This isn’t an option in Kauai, where all trans-Pacific and inter-county (or, inter-island) travelers are expected to stay indoors for the 10-day duration, regardless of a COVID test.

To be safe, the CDC recommends getting tested 1-3 days before traveling by plane internationally no matter where you’re heading, and bringing along those test results with you. If you have a vaccine card, carry that too.

Simply being prepared can make a hell of a difference between a 10-day trip spent in quarantine, and one lounging on the white sands of a Maui beach, though you should be prepared for that too.

How to Provide a Clean Bill of Health When Traveling via @maphappy

How to Create a Traveler Gift Basket

 Laura Kiniry   5 minute read

I can tell you that my desire for travel hasn’t diminished.

Dreaming of places far-and-wide has helped keep me sane throughout 2020. So much in fact, that I’ve put together the ultimate gift-basket selection for the travelers in your life.

A little bit of practicality, a lot of fun, these mix-and-match items include a range of budget-friendly options and a few splurges to make every traveler in your life happy, even if they have to enjoy the world’s beauty from the comfort of home a little bit longer.

How much or how little to include is entirely up to you. Have fun with it, and get inspired. The inspiration may be the real gift, after all.

First get a basket…

Or a metal bucket, market tray, or even a basket box, which is a fancier box perfect for packing together multiple items.

Think about how you’re going to arrange the gifts inside. Decide on how many gifts you’re planning to include, and how you’d like the finished basket to look.

Prefer everything to be on full display, and then wrapped together nicely in cellophane with a bow? Or would you rather place each gift alongside each other, into an open top rectangular box that tucks neatly up for shipping?

FYI, Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration for making your gift basket as eye-catching and droolworthy as possible.

Select the main items

Remember, although you’re creating a gift-basket with travelers in mind, not all of its items have to be things someone would necessarily take with them. Get ready to start mixing and matching!

Especially at a time when travel is sketchy at best, consider filling it with things they can use in the present. Think city-themed coloring books (and colored pencils to match) and regional food boxes. Travelogues by authors like Anthony Bourdain and Stephanie Elizondo Griest can also inspire weary minds.

Here’s a range of items for every type of traveler on the list.

Homesick Candles

I miss Socal. (Homesick Candles)

Homesick’s selection of natural soy wax blend scented candles includes all 50 U.S. states, as well as countries like France, Mexico, and Brazil. There are also city candles, too.

Nashville includes notes of musk, cedarwood, and tobacco, while Miami calls to mind beaches and blue skies with hints of lavender, coconut, and suntan lotion.

For instance, the New Jersey candle doesn’t smell like Superfund sites or Turnpike restrooms, but more like cranberry bogs and saltwater taffy. This holiday, this is how I’m bringing my childhood home to San Francisco.

COST: $34.00

Wanderer Bracelets

These bracelets are handcrafted in Bali out of upcycled materials, and can be customized with the coordinates of a favorite location (I have one with the coordinates of Altamura, Italy). You can choose among carved wooden beads and woven colors. The bracelets are also adjustable.

COST: $26 and up

The Wander Club

For all those stamp collectors, these are the gifts to zone in on. It’s another way to wear the world and keep it close by.

The Wander Club’s engraved tokens can be touted with the names of national parks,states and countries. They can even be customized with a favorite or home airport (like SFO or PHL) or roadway (eg. Route 66). Get as many as you like.

Then consider a “token holder,” such as The Wander Club’s colorful keychains or necklaces, for displaying.

COST: Tokens start at $6; keychains run $25, necklaces $20

Snack Crate

Snack Crate handpicks snacks for deliver from a different country monthly, like a box of Russian treats including Soviet Alyonka chocolate and salmon-flavored croutons, or a German box filled with fruity “dragon tongue” candies known as Bunte Drachenzungen and Nic Nac’s peanuts coated in BBQ flavoring.

Boxes come in mini, original, and premium sizes and each includes its own music playlist.

This one can slip into the gift basket easily, since all you need is a card saying that a monthly gift subscription is on the way.

And everyone can use a few snacks these days whether its for the WFH or digital nomad life.

COST: Starting at $9.99 per month

Noise-cancelling headphones

There are some great noise-cancelling headphones beyond Bose. My absolute favorite, for both their discount price and features, are Anker SoundCore Life Q20 Bluetooth headphones. They come with their own travel case, and the noise cancelling works so well that I often wear them to sleep. Seriously, at only $69.99 on Amazon, these are an absolute steal.

For other recommended brands, Shure is always a reliable buy. For a budget option, these Panasonic ErgoFit ones at under $10 aren’t quite noise-cancelling, but they are cheap enough to never have to worry about them and deliver exceptional value when it comes to sound delivery.

COST: $69.99

A good journal

Everyone can use one of these, whether to write in, sketch in, or simply jot down a note here and there. While there are tons of different styles and designs of journals out there, a perennial best is undoubtedly Moleskine. I mean, it’s the successor to the notebooks used by Ernest Hemingway and Vincent Van Gogh.

Moleskine are available with lines and without, specifically for drawing or as use as smart planners, and their website even sells matching pens.

COST: Ranging from $9.95 to $44.95

World puzzles

German game and toy company Ravensburger offers everything from challenging 2,000 piece world map puzzles (you’re literally covering the earth, one inch at a time) to slightly easier 1,000 piece offerings, include one detailing 99 Beautiful Places on Earth.

Not only are they engaging and therapeutic, but these puzzles can provide a needed bit of social interaction, even it’s just with your partner.

COST: $20.99

Travel adapter

If your traveler is anything like me, they likely end up buying another travel adapter nearly every time the get on the road. This may be because they buy them piecemeal, meaning each new continent or region they visit might require something entirely different. Or they are just absentminded.

Stop the madness with a universal adapter like the Epika Universal Travel Adapter. It has four plugs to cover most countries, and several USB ports to charge multiple devices at once.

(Check out our previous travel adapter reviews, and another favorite, the Satechi travel adapter.)

COST: $20.99

Scratchable maps

Should have been a little bit more careful around the Gulf and Toronto. Oops.

There’s almost nothing more rewarding than marking off the places you’ve been, whether it’s a national park or a customized bucket list. These scratchable travel maps from Etsy seller Kuulys are as fun to frame as they are to take a fingernail or penny to (you know, to reveal what’s underneath).

(For another option, check out this oldie but goodie review on this Luckies of London Scratch Map.)

COST: $24.99

Moment smartphone camera lenses

Moment is a one-stop shop for smartphone lenses (think macro and fisheye), cases, and one of the best accessories by far: wrist-strap attachments that tie right onto the cases, so that you almost never drop your phone.

I’ve been using one for years, and it’s changed the way I travel, adding a layer of security that’s so welcome when running from place to place. COST: lenses run between $32 and

The Moment system. (Moment)

$130; cases start at $20; and strap attachments at $9.99

Travel blanket

Remember being envious of the person on the plane that always brought a blanket? I do. Thankfully the Cabeau Fold ‘n Go Travel and Throw Blanket is soft, affordable, and comes with its own compact case. This means it can even double as a pillow.

COST: $19.99

National park guidebook

Road trips remain the way to go for many travelers at the moment, so why not get them a guide they can use?

Published in October, Moon USA National Parks is a guide to all 62 U.S. national parks, including favorites like Glacier, Yellowstone, and Joshua Tree. It also provides details on the best scenic drives between them.

COST: $25.19

The stocking stuffers for a final flourish

In our opinion, its often the finishing touches that make it..

Its impossible to go wrong with hand sanitizer, Wet-Naps, and travel-themed face masks like the handmade cotton masks by Etsy users MasksbyAnna and TyMoreByBaltimore (ranging in price from $6 to $12).

This tiny, handy Droplet Dry Bag ($15) by Matador fits right onto a keychain but expands into a three liter bag ideal for storing wet gear, protecting dry items from becoming mildewy. Gross!

How to Create a Traveler Gift Basket via @maphappy