Category Archives: Tips

Airline Food Survey 2020

The following is a study of 11 major airlines’ snack and on-board food offerings conducted by Dr. Charles Platkin, editor of and the director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center. The study provides the calorie/nutrient information, “best bets” and gives each airline a “Health Rating.” This year, Air Canada and Alaska Airlines win the top spot as the airline with the “healthiest” food choices in the sky with Delta and JetBlue in second place.

Airline Food Study 2020 

Survey provides travelers with the
best in-flight food choices, including health ratings to make healthier choices 35,000 feet in the air Air Canada and Alaska Receive Top Rating
NEW YORK, NY (December 19, 2019). There will be more than 47 million passengers traveling during the holiday season (Dec. 19 – Jan. 5) according to Airlines for America (A4A). Knowing the “best” and “worst” choices is a valuable tool for any traveler, so Dr. Charles Platkin, editor of and the Executive Director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, once again studied the best “Calorie Bargains” and “Calorie Rip-offs” at 35,000 feet. and the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center have released the 2020 Airline Food Study, rating foods for eleven (11) airlines. The study assigned a “Health Score” (5 stars = highest rated, 0 star = lowest rated) based on criteria including healthy nutrients and calorie levels of meals, snack boxes and individual snacks, level of transparency (display of nutrient information, menu online & ingredients), improvement and maintenance of healthy offerings, menu innovation and cooperation in providing nutritional information, overall sodium levels, availability of meals on flights under 3 hours, and our Airline Water Health Score. The study includes health ratings, average calories per airline, comments, best bets, food offerings, costs, and nutrition information (e.g., calories, carbs, fats, protein, sodium and exercise equivalents). See the full study at   “This year Alaska and Air Canada share the top spot as the airlines with the ‘healthiest’ food choices in the sky, with Delta and JetBlue tied for second,”  says Charles Platkin, Ph.D., JD, MPH,  the executive director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center and editor of   Here are the major airline food headlines:
Alaska Airlines and Air Canada pull to the top for a tie this year as the healthiest airlines. 
Average Calories Same as Last Year: The average number of calories per menu item was 373 calories in 2018 and this year it is almost the same at 375 calories. But keep in mind, calories are not everything; the study also looks at the nutrient content of these foods, as well as innovations moving towards healthier, tastier, less expensive and more sustainable choices. 
Alaska Airlines is the clear leader in making strides to minimize its environmental impact. It was the first to replace plastic straws with paper ones and continues to look for eco-friendly substitutions. Alaska has also launched a #FillBeforeYouFly campaign to encourage flyers to bring their own water bottles and fill them up at water-filling stations in the airport to reduce the use of plastic cups and water bottles on board. 
Shame On You Award goes to Hawaiian for not providing ALL their nutritional information for the study, and to the EPA for not providing penalty information on galley water violations when requested. 
Sodium Matters: Sodium is often used by food providers to boost flavor, especially in the air where senses can be dulled. The average airline meal contains more than 800mg of sodium, which is more than 40 percent of the daily limit of 2000mg set by the World Health Organization. Also, note that in addition to health-related concerns, sodium can make you feel and look bloated because you retain extra water. Watch out for high levels of sodium throughout all airline menus.
Mini-Meals: Full meals or “mini-meal” options are better bets than eating individual snacks, which generally have little nutritional value. 
Short Flights Matter: We urge airlines to provide meals or allow for preorder on shorter flights so that passengers have the option to eat a healthy meal no matter how long they’re in the air. Keep in mind that a 90-minute flight can easily turn into a 5 or 6 hour travel experience when you include getting to the airport, TSA lines, waiting for the flight to take off, deplaning and getting to your final destination. 
You Need to Know: We believe transparency around food is important for airlines. This means providing an up-to-date version of its menu online with all nutrient information  (i.e., calories, fat, carbs, sugar, fiber, protein and sodium), including ingredients. 
Taste Changes in Air: Research shows that our taste perception changes while in flight. Dr. Charles Spence from the University of Oxford found that the three factors impacting taste at such high altitudes are the lower cabin air pressure, lack of humidity and loud background noise. In-flight, air is recycled every few minutes and humidity is normally about 20 percent (compared to indoor relative humidity of 40 percent). With lower humidity and air pressure, we’re likely to be thirstier, and there’s naturally less moisture in the throat, which slows the transport of odors to the brain’s smell and taste receptors. Drink a lot of water. More salt, sugar and flavor enhancers (i.e. spices and herbs) are necessary to make meals inflight taste the way they do on the ground. 
Watch Your Carbs: Eating lots of heavy carbs such as pasta with thick, dense sauces, breads, muffins or cakes will leave you feeling lethargic, cranky and not full or satisfied.  Your blood sugar levels will spike and then fall, which will negatively impact your mood. The fact that food impacts mood, attitude and behavior has been well documented in scientific literature.
Water Watch: This year we published an Airline Water Study highlighting the quality of water provided onboard. Each airline was given a Water Health Score, which has been factored into their overall score in this study. The study revealed that the quality of drinking water varies by airline, and many have provided passengers with unhealthy water. In general, it’s probably best to avoid drinking coffee and tea on board since they are made with galley water. 

Here are the food-service offerings from several of the more popular airlines, along with Diet Detective’s comments, ratings (Health Score: 5  = highest rating), calories, exercise equivalents (amount of walking required to burn off the food consumed) and personal favorites. 
Summary of Health Ratings (5 is highest): Air Canada 4.0, Alaska Airlines 4.0, JetBlue 2.9, Delta 2.9, United Airlines 2.7, American 2.7, Frontier 2.0, Allegiant Air 1.9, Spirit Airlines 1.9, Hawaiian Airlines 1.9, Southwest Airlines 1.7
Air Canada Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very Helpful Health Score: 4.0 / 5    Fleet Size: 372 Onboard Water Health Score: N/A Average Calories Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals): 347 Average Individual Snack Calories: 308 Average Snack Box Calories: 590
Average Meal Calories: 376 Average Sodium Content Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals): 544mg
Comments: The good news is that Air Canada has added several new items that show some serious health innovation, including the Grilled Chicken Summer Salad and the Wild Rice Superfood Salad. These are great mini-meals, much better than a traditional snack, and are low in calories with great nutrient content. Air Canada also offers a Bento Express sushi California roll. And then there is the Freshii menu, which  provides lower-calorie and higher-nutrient meal choices packed with more vegetables than many other airline options. Air Canada’s meals are relatively healthy and available for trips that are more than 2 hours long. Providing real meals starting at 2 hours is not typical; most airlines start offering real meals at 3 or 4 hours, which is not great if you want to avoid unhealthy snacks. The bad news is that Air Canada needs to include all nutrient information and ingredients on its menu and online – there is no reason not to.The average sodium content of 544mg for all of Air Canada’s offerings is almost ten percent higher than the average among all airlines. However, the average sodium content for meals, at 620mg, is lower than the overall average for all airlines, which is 823mg.  Air Canada also has a larger selection of food items overall, which allows for several healthy options.  Best Bets: For breakfast, the Liberte Greek yogurt is still a good choice and will probably fill you up. The Avocado Smash Box, with fresh guacamole, hard-boiled egg, green apple slices, and multigrain muesli bread sounds amazing and also offers 23g of filling protein to keep you energized. You might want to skip the cheese though.  Other best bets would be the new Grilled Chicken Summer Salad and the Wild Rice Superfood Salad, both of which are relatively low in calories and high in protein for a mini-meal. The chicken salad has 220 calories and 14 grams of protein (which helps to keep you full longer), and the wild rice is a close second with 260 calories and 8 grams of protein. The Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup is a low-calorie choice for a snack that will fill you up, but be wary of the 950mg of sodium if you are salt sensitive. The Celery & Carrots with Ranch Dip (if you use no more than half the dip) is still an OK choice. The Sabra Hummus is an OK choice if you share it, and the Sabra Guacamole appears to be healthy, but the Tostitos offer little nutritional value. The Krispy Kernels Natural Almonds come as a large portion but are still a better choice than most of the individual snacks.If meals are available, the sushi California roll is a good choice.  The Pangoa Bowl and the Sriracha Lime Wrap are both high-nutrient/ low-calorie choices. Skip the Smoked Meat Sandwich, since it has nearly an entire day’s worth of sodium along with a high calorie content.  And Air Canada needs to offer at least one healthy kids’ meal.  Alaska Airlines
Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very Helpful Health Score: 4.0 / 5    Fleet Size: 335 Onboard Water Health Score: 3.3 / 5 Average Calories Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals): 359 Average Individual Snack Calories: 265 Average Snack Box Calories: 464
Average Meal Calories: 388 Average Sodium Content Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals): 472mg
Comments: Alaska Airlines has a variety of snacks, snack boxes, and meal offerings that include some better-for-you options. We applaud Alaska’s transparency compared to other airlines, because its full menu and complete nutritional information are available online, and on Alaska’s app. However, the full ingredient list for each offering is still missing from the website. Although there are improvements to be made, Alaska Airlines has been a clear leader for the past several years, and continues to be committed to healthy food. However, we’d like to see more of the airline’s healthier options, some of which are now available only on flights of more than three hours, available on shorter flights as well.Still, the average number of Alaska’s overall calories is 45 fewer than last year, and the average sodium content, which is 472mg overall, ranks close to the average of 497mg for all foods among all airlines. One highlight is that Alaska is allowing for preordering of foods on their mobile app as well as on their website, so that passengers can reserve healthy foods in advance. Alaska is also a clear leader in environmental initiatives. It was the first airline to replace plastic straws and has launched a #FillBeforeYouFly campaign to encourage flyers to bring their own water bottles and fill them up at water-filling stations in the airport to reduce the use of plastic cups and water bottles on board (do not refill your water bottle on board).  Best Bets: Among the snack boxes, the Mediterranean Tapas hasn’t changed much from last year and is still the healthiest choice. It has olives, hummus, almonds, dried fruit and even a dark chocolate bar. But keep in mind that 545 calories is a bit high for a “snack,” so it would be best if you either shared the box or had it as a meal replacement. For kids (and their parents, because of nagging), the Kids’ Choice Picnic Pack may be tempting, but it’s always better for children (and adults) to eat a real meal.Among individual snacks, the Beef Jerky is low in calories but very high in sodium. The Umpqua Oats Organic Apple Cranberry & Nut Oatmeal has 255 calories and 8 grams of protein, which makes it a healthier choice overall.  The breakfast offerings are a bit heavy and calorie-rich. The Fresh Start Protein Platter has 27 grams of protein, which is high (a good thing) for the number of calories in the platter (340 calories). The Signature Fruit and Cheese Platter also has 27 grams of protein; however, it also has 85 percent of the total amount of saturated fat you should have in a day, so you might want to skip half the cheese. And while you’re at it, maybe skip half the crackers as well. There are fewer lunch/dinner choices this year, but the Fall Harvest Salad is a high-protein, low-calorie choice. When available, the Charge Up Protein Platter is also a great high-protein option.  JetBlue Airways Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very Helpful Health Score: 2.9 / 5   Fleet Size: 254 Onboard Water Health Score: 2.6 / 5 Average Calories Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals): 295 Average Individual Snack Calories: 120 Average Snack Box Calories: 392 Average Meal Calories: 460 Average Sodium Content Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals):547mg
Comments: The best thing about JetBlue is that it posts all its nutritional information on its website; however, as of this study the information is not up-to-date.  JetBlue has a few reasonably healthy meals on their EatUp Cafe menu; however, they are not offered on flights under 3 hours – not great. At least there are a few OK snack box choices that are available on flights of more than 2 hours. The airline needs to work on this.  In addition, all JetBlue’s free snacks are unhealthy choices. I only wish that the airline would include apples and bananas in those snack baskets the flight attendants pass around.  At least try it once. I would pay for the experiment (on one or two flights). The average number of calories in JetBlue’s food offerings has decreased from 323 last year to 295 this year – nice. However, the average sodium content of all food items is 547mg, which is higher than the average of 497mg across all airlines.  Best Bets: The complimentary snacks aren’t high in calories but they’re low in nutritional value. The best bet would be to choose anything BUT the chocolate chip cookies. It’s hard to believe, but Cheez-Its made with whole wheat flour and having only half the calories of the original version might be an OK choice compared to the others. Too bad. The problem is that the snacks are free; but that doesn’t mean you need to take more than one. As for the EatUp boxes, the PickMeUp is lowest with 300 calories, but it’s not necessarily the most nutritious. The SavorUp box features hummus, multigrain crackers and bean dip with Greek yogurt, and while it’s high in calories, it’s also loaded with good nutrition (e.g. fiber and protein).  Also the FuelUp box is reasonably good, with almonds, dried apricots, apples, and an RX Bar. Have it as a meal though, not as a snack, and skip the biscotti to reduce low-nutrient calories, or share the box with a traveling companion. If you’re on a flight that offers the EatUp Café, the Fresh Fruit and the Jicama and Grape Salad Shaker are very good choices. Skip the Ham & Cheese Croissant, which is very high in calories and sodium. Delta Airlines Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very Helpful Health Score: 2.9 / 5    Fleet Size: 916 Onboard Water Health Score: 1.6 / 5 Average Calories Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals): 424 Average Individual Snack Calories: 172 Average Snack Box Calories: 560 Average Meal Calories: 495 Average Sodium Content Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals): 780mg Comments: It is nice that Delta provides our team with all the nutritional information for all foods, including sugar grams – nice.  However, as we said last year, we would still like Delta to post all nutritional information and ingredients for every meal–NOT just the Luvo Performance Kitchen meals–online and on its menu. Delta does include labels that alert people who have  dietary restrictions (i.e. gluten-free, Kosher, vegetarian). However, full nutrition information should be accessible for improved transparency. We also urge Delta, and all airlines, to follow Air Canada’s lead and  include meals on flights of under 1300 miles or 3 hours in the air. Options like salads or other lighter fare are important even on shorter flights. If the airlines are worried about food waste, they can have passengers preorder. Delta continues to work with Luvo’s Performance Kitchen line, which has a very strong commitment to healthy eating. The bad news is that the Performance Kitchen items are no longer being offered as complimentary meals, and the remaining free meal options are not as healthy.    Delta’s overall calorie average, now at 423, is 76 calories lower than it was last year – nice. But the average sodium content for all its food items is 780mg, one of the highest of any airline.  Best Bets: For a snack, your best bet is the almonds, and you’ll be surprised by how filling they are. Don’t be fooled by the “whole grain” Cheez-It crackers – not a great choice even for free.  Among snack boxes, the Tapas Box is an OK choice. Skip the rest of them. For breakfast, not the best choices, but it would probably be best to go for the Protein Box. Just eat only one of the two cheese offerings, and have it as a meal.  For lunch and dinner, go for whichever of the Performance Kitchen meals are offered in the direction you’re flying  – eastbound or westbound. The Mesquite-Smoked Turkey Combo is heavy on calories, carbs, and sodium. Among the complimentary lunch options (offered on cross-country flights) there is only one OK choice, which is the Tillamook Cheese and Fruit Box. For the complimentary dinner options (on cross-country flights), the Sesame Noodle Salad and the Greek Mezze Plate are good choices; however, they come with the Tillamook Cheese and Fruit Box, which starts to get extremely high in sodium and calories. So if you choose that option, offer the cheeses to someone else. As for the complimentary dinner meals, avoid the Beef Pastrami Sandwich, which packs enough calories for two meals and a whole day’s worth of sodium. If your sandwich comes with a cookie, save the calories and give the cookie away.
United Airlines Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Somewhat Helpful Health Score: 2.7 / 5    Fleet Size: 786 Onboard Water Health Score: 1.2 / 5 Average Calories Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals):320 Average Individual Snack Calories: 186 Average Snack Box Calories: 463 Average Meal Calories: 431 Average Sodium Content Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals): 464mg

Comments:  United is improving for sure. The airline’s average calories for all food items are significantly lower this year than they were last year, and the average sodium content is 464mg, which is lower than the average across all airlines. Also, the average meal calories are very reasonable at 431. The bad news is that there is no nutritional information on the website, no ingredients list, and United is still lagging behind other airlines on the environmental front (still using plastic straws and cups).  Best Bets: The Beef Jerky and the Hummus are the only good bets for snacks. None of the complimentary snacks are healthy options, but if you must indulge, choose the pretzels. Get the Tapas snack box, which is high in calories but has many healthy foods, including almonds, olives, hummus and bruschetta; just toss out the cheese spread, and share it unless you’re eating it as a meal. Skip the Classic and Select snack boxes, and say no to the kids’ snack box.  For breakfast, the Overnight Blackberry Vanilla Oats is an OK choice, but it does have 41g of sugar, while the Egg White & Chicken Sausage Flatbread Sandwich, with only 310 calories and 21g of protein, will keep you full longer.  Avoid the Egg White Sandwich if you’re sodium-sensitive. For Lunch/Dinner, the Mezze Sampler, which has lots of veggies, hummus and grain, is your best bet.   American Airlines Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Mostly Helpful Health Score: 2.7 / 5    Fleet Size: 968 Onboard Water Health Score: 1.5 / 5 Average Calories Overall (Meals, Snack Boxes and Individual Snacks): 481 Average Individual Snack Calories: 144 Average Snack Box Calories: 471 Average Meal Calories: 585 Average Sodium Content Overall (Meals, Snack Boxes and Individual Snacks): 678mg
Comments: With more than 900 planes, American is a leading airline and should certainly make a more concerted effort to provide healthier food choices. We like its continued partnership with Zoe’s Kitchen, a clean food company focusing on a Mediterranean diet, and we are glad the airline dropped the chocolate in the Hummus Duo, lowering the calories by 140 to a reasonable number, but they still need to serve healthier food. The Vegan Snack Box is good news, not just because it’s vegan but because of the nice offerings it includes. The bad news is that the airline is still not publishing a menu with nutritional information on its website — not good. Nor did American provide us with complete nutrition information (e.g. carbs, fats, protein and sodium). We appreciate the airline’s responsiveness, but given its size, it should have healthier menu options and provide online menus with full nutritional info and ingredients. Pringles are the only snack offered for purchase, not good. Come on, American–healthy food is good business, Have you heard of Whole Foods? Overall, American’s calories have increased from 417 last year to 481–not the right direction.  And the sodium levels, at an average of 922mg for meals, is much higher than the already high average of 823mg for all airlines that serve meals. (Note: 2000mg is the World Health Organization’s daily limit.) Best Bets:  The Continental Breakfast offering with Chobani Yogurt is a good choice (only available until Dec 1st, after which it’s replaced by a high calorie Belgian waffle).The Breakfast Platter is an OK choice with hardboiled egg and apple slices, and on cross-country flights to/from San Francisco or LA and NYC, the complimentary Vegan Snack Box (oats) is a decent option. If you purchase lunch or dinner, the Harissa Chicken Wrap (without the cookie) seems to be the best option. The Hummus Duo is higher in calories and sodium, but it can be a good choice to share between two people unless you eat it as a meal. The lunch/dinner version of the Vegan Snack Box (hummus) is also not bad if you’re flying to/from San Francisco or LA and NY and you eat it as a meal. If you’re trying to eat healthy, skip the chocolate chip cookie in all meals that come with one – it’s 200 calories, and not worth it. Avoid all the free or paid individual snacks and/or snack boxes except for the two complimentary vegan boxes on flights where they are available (transcontinental). 
Frontier Airlines Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very Helpful Health Score: 2.0 / 5    Fleet Size: 91 Onboard Water Health Score: 2.6 / 5 Average Calories Overall (Individual Snacks and Snack Boxes): 289 Average Individual Snack Calories: 298 Average Snack Box Calories: 257 Average Sodium Content Overall (Individual Snacks and Snack Boxes): 367mg

Comments: Frontier was incredibly responsive, providing information quickly – nice. However, it would be great if the airline offered some healthier items. The average calories in their inflight offerings decreased for each category this year, but there is still room for improvement as to what those offerings could be. Again, Frontier is an innovative airline – please apply that innovation to food. The sodium content of its snacks is 367mg, which is much higher than the average for snacks across all airlines. And the average number of calories in its snacks is 298, which is 15 percent higher than the average across all airlines. 
Best Bets: The best bet for snacks is to choose the KIND bar or the Jack Links Beef Steak (as long as you’re not sodium sensitive). Neither of the bundled snack boxes provides a nutrient-rich, low-calorie option.
Allegiant Air Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very Helpful Health Score: 1.9 / 5    Fleet Size: 91 Onboard Water Health Score: 3.3 / 5 Average Calories Overall (Individual Snacks and Snack Boxes): 325 Average Individual Snack Calories: 390 Average Snack Box Calories: 240 Average Sodium Content Overall (Snack Boxes and Individual Snacks): 362mg
Comments: The good news is that Allegiant was very helpful throughout the study. Nice job!    And compared to last year, it has lowered its overall calorie average slightly, from 336 to 326 calories. It would be wonderful if the airline added a few more nutritious food items to the menu, perhaps an apple or a salad shaker. Best Bets: Among the individual snacks, the nuts might work if you shared them with at least one other person. The Hummus Snack Pack is also OK.  Avoid the Deli Snack Pack, and the Wingz Kids Snack Pack is not a healthy choice
Spirit Airlines Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Very Helpful Health Score: 1.9 / 5    Fleet Size: 135 Onboard Water Health Score: 1 / 5 Average Calories Overall (Individual Snacks and Snack Boxes): 360 Average Individual Snack Calories: 370 Average Snack Box Calories: 319 Average Sodium Content Overall (Individual Snacks and Snack Boxes): 450mg
Comments: Spirit’s inflight offerings were hard to find on the airline’s website. No nutritional information is provided for the food offered, and, overall, there are not many (if any) healthy options. The good news is that the airline responded incredibly well to our queries–nice.
The average sodium content of Spirit’s snacks is 403mg, which is well above the average across all airlines. The airline’s average individual snack calories are also significantly higher at 370 than the 255 average across all airline snacks.
Best Bets: The FlyFit Protein Mix of nuts would be a good bet if split among four people, because each bag contains about four servings of nuts. The Nissin Cup Noodle Very Veggie Chicken Flavor is OK at 330 calories and might feel like a real meal, but it’s very high in sodium. The Cheese Tray is a much better choice than the Cafe Snack Box, but it would be better shared between two people. It’s too bad that the Quinoa with Artichoke & Roasted Peppers is no longer on the menu, because it was a healthy and satisfying snack option. 
Hawaiian Airlines Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Not So Helpful Health Score: 1.9 /  5    Fleet Size: 57 Onboard Water Health Score: 3.1 / 5 Average Calories Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals): 556 Average Individual Snack Calories: 369 Average Snack Box Calories: 515 Average Meal Calories: 898 Average Sodium Content Overall (Individual Snacks, Snack Boxes, and Meals): 755mg
Comments: This year, Hawaiian Airlines showed a tiny bit more effort, but, to be honest, it is now the ONLY airline that does not provide us with complete nutrition information. Much of the meal nutrient content had to be estimated by our registered dietitians, and the information provided by Hawaiian was confusing. There are a lot of high-calorie and high-sodium options, and many of the snacks will not be satiating. If you are flying Hawaiian it’s very important to note that ALL meals are free, and they are large, and there is a lot of food provided during flights from or to Hawaii – anywhere from 1122 to 1514 calories, and 1338 to 2453 milligrams of sodium. Those are very unhealthy numbers. The average sodium content of all Hawaiian’s food offerings is 775mg, which is way above the average across all airlines.  Best Bets: Among the snacks, choose the Kitchen & Love Quinoa with Artichoke and Roasted Pepper Quick Meal. That’s it for healthy snacks; pass on all the others.  Among the snackboxes, the Gluten Free Box has some healthy components, including the hummus, chickpea snacks, and the turkey stick. But skip the fruit snacks, and the cookies. For meals, it’s much more complicated. NYC/Boston to Hawaii and Hawaii to NYC/Boston are long, 10-hour-plus flights, and food service includes several free meals throughout. The actual meal is OK; however, you should avoid all the free-meal extras, including the chips, the pineapple coconut treat, potato salad, cole slaw, cookies, cheese, crackers, snack mix, and alcoholic beverages.  If you do insist on eating all the unhealthy “extras,” they will leave you feeling tired and uncomfortable. 
Southwest Airlines Cooperation in Providing Nutritional Information: Somewhat Helpful Health Score: 1.7 / 5    Fleet Size: 754 Onboard Water Health Score: 2.4 / 5 Average Individual Snack Calories: 106 Average Sodium Content Overall (Individual Snacks): 135mg
Comments: For one of the top carriers, Southwest does not offer much variety or nutritional value. If the airline really does have a heart (as  it does on its logo), it would care about the food that’s being served. Southwest needs to add some healthy snacks. And this year, for the first time in 20 years, the people we contacted were not nearly as helpful as they usually are in providing information for the study. The communications team’s kindness was its only saving grace. The airline’s average calories for snacks has decreased from 138 last year to 106 this year. The average sodium for the few food offerings is low at 135mg. Best Bets: The pretzels are the only reasonable choice, they but have no nutritional value. More than on any other airline, when you fly Southwest, you need to bring your own fresh, nutrient-dense, healthy food, such as nuts and fresh fruit.   ###

The Safest and Least Safe Airports for WiFi

November 1, 2018

A new study by cloud security company Coronet and virtual private network (VPN) provider NordVPN shows that San Diego International Airport is the most unsecure airport in the U.S. when it comes to cybersecurity, while Chicago-Midway is the one where travelers can feel the safest.

According to the survey, Wi-Fi security at U.S. airports is often sacrificed for consumer convenience, leaving networks unencrypted, unsecured or improperly configured.

Coronet’s Airport Threat Score ranking collected data from more than 250,000 users, both private and business travelers, who traveled through the 45 busiest U.S. airports over the course of five months.

As stated in the report, “even for those airports that do prioritize security, attack techniques such as the Key Reinstallation Attack (KRACK), which can break the WPA2 protocol to capture or expose information shared over public and private Wi-Fi, presents significant risk to passengers in transit.”

According to Coronet, the most secure airports in the U.S. are:

1. Chicago-Midway International Airport
2. Raleigh Durham International Airport
3. Nashville International Airport
4. Washington Dulles International Airport
5. San Antonio International Airport
6. Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport
7. Kansas City International Airport
8. Lambert St. Louis International Airport
9. Miami International Airport
10. Tampa International Airport

The least secure airports, according to the study, are:

1. San Diego International Airport
2. John Wayne Airport-Orange County Airport
3. William P. Houston Hobby Airport
4. Southwest Florida International Airport
5. Newark Liberty International Airport
6. Dallas Love Field
7. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
8. Charlotte Douglas International Airport
9. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
10. Boston Logan International Airport

What can travelers do to stay safe?

Daniel Markuson, digital privacy expert at NordVPN, shares some tips on what travelers should and shouldn’t do on an airport Wi-Fi.

Don’t connect to any Wi-Fi. This is the most important one – if you see two similar Wi-Fi names at the airport, remember that one of them may be fake. The same rule applies to the networks with strange or unusual names. If in doubt, better double-check with the airport staff before joining any network.

Disable automatic connections, GPS, Bluetooth and file sharing. This will prevent your computer or smartphone from automatically joining airport networks, unwillingly sharing your location or opening your device to other threats. If you are sharing your mobile data from your smartphone to computer, be sure to protect the connection with a password. Also, it’s always best to turn off file sharing on your computer while you’re on a public network. Do that to stay safe.

Don’t log into sensitive accounts or shop online. If you’re on a public Wi-Fi of an airport, the safest advice is to simply avoid going into your bank and other sensitive accounts, like work email. These hold the most appeal to hackers. Also, avoid shopping or booking hotels while on an airport network.

Get a reliable VPN, firewall and other security solutions. A VPN will encrypt your browsing activities and prevent various fraudsters from using your sensitive data for their own benefit. Also, check if your firewall is turned on.

Source: NordVPN

Instagram Tutorial

Just saw this great tutorial on my travel writing, SATW collegue’s website, Carole Terwilliger Meyers…Berkeley and Beyond.

Travel Trends for 2018

Global travel started with a bang last year according to Lonely Planet as international tourist arrivals from January to April rose 6% worldwide compared to the same period in 2016. Middle East visits, in particular, rose by as much as 10%. No official figures have yet been released for the entire year, but the World Tourism Organization has been buoyant towards the increase in global travel.

So, will this surge in global travel continue in 2018? It’s hard to tell this early, though, as all three possibilities are in play: a continued surge, a status quo, and a drop off. But these six travel trends for 2018 may very well shape how global travel will look this year.

The Middle East Boom

The Al Dier in Petra, Jordan(1)
The Al Dier in Petra, Jordan

The Middle East is one of the fastest-growing travel regions in the world, and that surge will continue this year. Travel companies have taken notice, and are now offering more Middle East tours. Meanwhile, seven new hotels from Hilton Worldwide are set to be opened this year in Egypt, while renowned and controversial street artist Banksy has opened a hotel in Bethlehem.

New Europe Destinations
Volkovysk Chalk Quarries in Belarus
Volkovysk Chalk Quarries in Belarus

Europe has long been a hotspot for travelers, and it will continue to be this year, but with a slight twist. Instead of all-time favorite destinations such as France, Croatia and Italy, the continent’s lesser known jewels will be explored by more travelers. Among the countries that are predicted to be widely visited in the next 12 months are Belarus (now offering five-day visa-free travel), Moldova (now more accessible thanks to new routes launched by Air Moldova), Cyprus, and Poland.

AirBnB Will Remain Popular

AirBnB has become ultra popular these past few years, especially for vacationers looking for a more affordable alternative to hotel accommodation. Expect things to stay rosy for AirBnB this 2018 as Lola CEO Paul English is predicting continued growth for the company, more so now that business travelers are beginning to take full advantage of this service.

The Rise of the Travel Concierge

Paul English is also predicting a rise in personalized service via what he calls “travel concierge,” which is now being offered by various service and hospitality companies. A travel concierge is simply someone who assists travelers 24/7 (often via calls, chat, and other communication channels and not necessarily in person) with all their needs, including making flight reservations, booking hotel accommodations, and creating an itinerary. A travel concierge is particularly useful when something goes wrong, like when a flight gets cancelled, for instance, or when a traveler needs to check in earlier than expected.

That Vegas Paradigm Shift

Lots of people are still trooping to Vegas, but not necessarily to enjoy Sin City’s casinos anymore, as there has arguably been a shift in playing behavior among casino players worldwide. This shift is unsurprisingly coinciding with the rise of digital gaming, notably online casinos, which are now offering casino players the opportunity to play a game of blackjack, slots, and poker, without stepping foot in a physical casino. Expect this shift to be a pervading trend in 2018 and beyond, especially with advancements being made in online gaming. One such innovation is the use of live action technology as shown through the Live Casino games on digital provider Slingo. Through this innovation, online players can enjoy the most immersive online casino experience possible with live dealers. The New York Times reports that in response to the online gaming industry, Vegas is now focusing on the video game market to bring in Millennials. A dedicated eSports area will open in the first quarter of 2018 and will be a big attraction for travelers.

A Year of Extreme Adventures
A glimpse of Antarctica
A glimpse of Antarctica

Adventure-seeking travelers will be looking for their next great escapes either in the spine-tingling cold of the Polar Regions or in the sweat-inducing heat of deserts. Arctic and Antarctic expeditions will be popular in 2018, and so will desert journeys (hello, Morocco, Oman, and Death Valley!).

World’s Best Beaches

Here’s a list for those of you thinking about warm climes as the temperature drops. It was put together by Flight Network with input from around 600 travel journalists, myself included.

The World’s 50 Best Beaches©

Welcome to the most definitive list of beaches ever assembled — a diverse collection of off-the-beaten-path slices of paradise from every hidden corner of our planet.

To create The World’s 50 Best Beaches©, FlightNetwork has consulted 600+ of world’s best travel journalists, editors, bloggers and agencies — the people who do this for a living — to gain insight from their opinions and expertise. By asking the top travel professionals, Flight Network has created the most trustworthy and accurate list out there to inspire travelers and help choose their upcoming winter holiday destinations.

Be prepared to embark on a journey to powder white beaches, swaying palm trees, turquoise waters, volcanic coastlines, and snow-capped mountain peaks steps from the sea. This comprehensive list will take you from the azure waters of Oceania to the postcard-worthy shores of Africa, Europe, North and South America, Asia and everywhere in between.

World’s Safest and Most Dangerous Destinations

I just came across this summary from I think there’s some really good info here. Of course I could add my own two cents. For example, I just got back from Cuba and found it extremely safe. Poor, yes, but people are well educated and very friendly to tourists.

(FROM BACKGROUNDCHECKS) The world is smaller than ever before. Cheapening costs, the unprecedented ease of communication and spread of information complements of the internet and social media, (relative) global peace and competition for the most striking, exotic Instagram posts have all contributed to a dramatic surge in international travel in recent years.

International tourist arrivals hit a record 1.2 billion in 2015, the sixth year in a row to see growth in the category, and the trend shows no signs of slowing. As travel to countries once considered remote and mysterious, such as Vietnam or Burma, has grown increasingly common, the buildup of tourist infrastructure, i.e., hostels, pizza restaurants, homestays, and internet cafes to accommodate the emergent hordes of young backpackers and capitalize on the profit potential, has boomed in tandem. Travel destinations that once felt daring and adventurous now seem mundane and overly congested with likeminded, wanderlust-stricken millennials.

Consequentially, more and more travelers are hoofing it to far-flung, distant locales off the well-trodden backpacker itinerary in search of novel experiences and interaction with alien cultures. In essence, there’s nothing wrong with this, but the bottom line is that there are some countries that people just shouldn’t visit as the potential dangers are just too great. On the opposite side of the spectrum, many find any and all international travel daunting, treacherous and beyond their capabilities.

In order to educate and guide people on both sides of this divide, we’ve ranked 121 countries in terms of their safety for travelers. We’ve based our findings on a number of factors, including crime rates, government travel advisories, the potential for natural disasters, and the competitiveness and sustainability of each country’s tourist industry.

You can find the whole list below, but first we’d like to go in-depth on the top ten most dangerous places to travel, and what makes them so dangerous, in order to dissuade reckless thrill seekers. After that, we’ll run through the top ten safest places to travel in hopes of convincing those wary of 12 hour flights and salads that make liberal use of fish sauce that international travel can be safe and relatively stress free.

Table of Contents [hide]

1 Top Ten Most Dangerous Countries for Travel
1.0.1 10. Colombia
1.0.2 9. Lesotho
1.0.3 8. Nigeria
1.0.4 7. Burundi
1.0.5 6. Mali
1.0.6 5. Mauritania
1.0.7 4. Chad
1.0.8 3. Pakistan
1.0.9 2. El Salvador
1.0.10 1. Honduras
2 Top Ten Safest Countries for Travel
2.0.1 10. Australia
2.0.2 9. Norway
2.0.3 8. Canada
2.0.4 7. Germany
2.0.5 6. France
2.0.6 5. United Kingdom
2.0.7 4. Spain
2.0.8 3. Japan
2.0.9 2. Singapore
2.0.10 1. Hong Kong

Top Ten Most Dangerous Countries for Travel
10. Colombia

While the beautiful, ecologically diverse South American nation has come a long way from its violent late 80’s/early 90’s nadir–when the Pablo Escobar-led Medellin drug cartel waged open war with the federal government, earning it the title of murder capital of the world–tourists heading to Colombia should still take caution.

Despite that fact that formerly dangerous cities such as Bogota and Medellin are now considered safe for travelers, drug cartels and the paramilitary group FARC (boasting an estimated 10,000 members) still maintain control over many remote and forested regions of the country. Even in recent years, FARC has openly battled with the Colombian military, committing kidnappings, trafficking drugs and executing large scale terrorist attacks. Because of this, much of the country is considered off-limits for tourism. Additionally, bus travel on certain highways is strongly discouraged as gangs and guerillas have been known to hijack buses, robbing and even murdering the passengers within.

However, a recent ceasefire between FARC and the Colombian government is cause for hope, as the group has promised to lay down its arms and discontinue its terrorist practices. What’s more, Colombia’s 2016 homicide rate of 24.4 out of 100,000 is the lowest since 1974. Tourists should not be discouraged from traveling to Colombia and enjoying its beautiful landscapes and vibrant cities, but its best to stick to the beaten path and not venture into high risk areas.
9. Lesotho

The diminutive African nation of Lesotho, located entirely within the confines of South Africa, is a very dangerous destination for tourists. While organized crime is not a serious issue in the country, high levels of poverty and unemployment have led to extremely high crime rates and travelers are frequently targeted in assaults and robberies, even in heavily populated areas in broad daylight.

Furthermore, Lesotho has one of the highest HIV rates in the world: an estimated 25% of the adult population are carriers of the virus. Engaging in sexual activity in any fashion is a huge no-no. Compounding the hazards, medical facilities in Lesotho are very poor and ill-equipped. In the case of injury or illness, receiving adequate treatment in the country is a very difficult prospect.
8. Nigeria

In recent years, travel to the West African nation Nigeria has been extremely hazardous and ill-advised. In April 2017, the U.S. Government issued a travel warning cautioning all citizens to avoid all but the most necessary travel to the country due to the high frequency of robberies, sexual assaults and other dangers.

The Islamic fundamentalist group Boko Haram is a dominating presence in the northwest part of the country, and frequently targets churches, schools and government offices in sweeping and catastrophic attacks. In 2015, the fearsome organization achieved the dubious honor of unseating ISIS as the most dangerous terrorist group in the world. Responsible for an unbelievable 6073 deaths in 2014, Boko Haram’s reign of terror should be enough to dissuade anyone from traveling to Nigeria.

It’s a shame since the country’s landscape is rich and biodiverse, offering savannahs, tropical rainforest and mangrove swamps. Moreover, Nigeria’s traditional of art and music is deep and endlessly fascinating. Nevertheless, tourists ought to wait until the threat posed by Boko Haram and other militant groups is dramatically reduced before even considering travel to the country.
7. Burundi

Burundi is another African nation that poses serious dangers to propective tourists. The U.S. State Department issued a warning in June urging Americans against travel to the country due its shaky political situation and high threat of violence.

Burundi’s borders are porous and poorly defended, resulting in many roving gangs and militia groups from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo entering at will and launching attacks against Burundians and visitors to the country. The threat is so great that 325,000 Burundians have evacuated their home nation in the past two years for safer neighboring countries.

Because of the chaos and unpredictable vehicular ambushes, roadways are heavily restricted and automotive travel throughout the country is severely limited, if not impossible. That should be enough to discourage travelers from visiting the country for the foreseeable future.
6. Mali

Sadly, Mali is yet another African nation with such a high risk for attacks, armed robberies and other dangers that tourism is simply infeasible. Extremist organizations with links to Al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups have waged an open war of terror in the capital city of Bamako, targeting foreigners in hotels, nightclubs, mosques and other places once considered safe. The Mali government has recently extended its state of emergency due to the situation and, unfortunately, hope for an end to the violence is dim, as terrorist activity in the country is expected to continue or even increase in the near future.

Kidnapping, either for ransom money or for religious motives is also an omnipresent threat, and a number of U.S. citizens are believed to be held captive in the country. In short: stay the hell out of Mali.
5. Mauritania

Mauritania, just west of Mali, is another nation that has been plagued by terrorist violence during the past decade. ISIS and other lethal terrorist groups have a strong foothold in the country, they are known to attack and murder foreigners affiliated with aid groups and western governments without prejudice and have openly declared their intention to continue such practices. Members of christian missionary groups are targets, as well.

The high density of terrorist activity in several portions of the eastern half of the country has provoked the government to declare it a restricted area, and people must obtain special permission from the government in order to travel into the region, although it’s highly unlikely that anybody would like to do so. Best to avoid Mauritania entirely until the situation improves.
4. Chad

Like many of its neighbors, the impoverished Central African nation of Chad is experiencing a wave of violence and terror at the hands of jihadist fanatic groups like Boko Haram and other fearsome paramilitary organizations.

In 2015, Boko Harem kick started a vicious campaign in Chad with an attack on a fishing village on the banks of Lake Chad resulting in several deaths. The Chadian military has engaged in war with the group ever since, to little positive effect. For those not wishing to get caught in the crossfire of this conflict, it is strongly advised that you stay away from Chad for the time being.

Other potential threats to foreign visitors include the regularity of kidnapping for ransom collection and the numerous minefields near the Sudanese border. Plus, it’s really, really hot, disease is rampant, and food is scarce.
3. Pakistan

In a welcome break from impoverished African nations enveloped in conflict with terrorist groups, number three on our list of most dangerous tourist destinations is Pakistan, the South Asian nation known for its decades-old rivalry with neighboring India and as the final hideaway of Osama bin Laden.

However, Pakistan has something in common with the aforementioned beleaguered African countries: it is awash in ideologically motivated violence. Sectarian skirmishes and terrorist bombings targeting civilians are depressingly routine. Suicide bombings with death tolls in the dozens are the norm, not the exception.

This year, several high profile attacks–including a devastating suicide bombing outside a shrine in the historic city of Sehwan took the lives of 90 people and injured over 300 more for which ISIS took responsibility—have brought the country to its knees and prompted the U.S. State Department to issue a stern travel warning urging foreigners living in or traveling to Pakistan to exercise extreme caution. It is clear that foreigners are specifically targeted by terrorist groups in both killings and kidnappings.

Violence is so out of control and unpredictable that many areas of the country are simply off limits to travelers—and significantly—for U.S. government officials as well.

The unfortunate thing is that Pakistanis, by large, are a peaceful and friendly people. The country’s murder rate is considerably lower than that of other countries that many would consider safer, such as Russia, along with many urban areas of the United States.

Nevertheless, strong anti-western sentiment, a pervasive contempt for LGBTQ folks and numerous environmental hazards, including the potential for flash floods and earthquakes to cause serious damage and loss of life in major cities like Karachi (due to crumbling, inadequate infrastructure and nonexistent drainage systems) contribute to Pakistan’s precariousness and instability. Definitely not a backpacker hotspot.
2. El Salvador

A small nation with a infamous reputation for violence, even by Central American standards, El Salvador is a place where danger lurks around every corner.

In part due to a long, demoralizing civil war between El Salvador’s right wing military-centric government (backed by the U.S.) and a number of leftist rebel groups that lasted for twelve years between 1979 and 1992 and resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands, El Salvador is inundated with surplus weaponry and at the mercy of vicious and sadistic street gangs, notably MS-13 and Barrio 18.

These gangs openly engage in kidnapping, drug dealing, car jackings (as well as bus jackings) to a degree that law enforcement simply cannot cope with. Unsurprisingly, El Salvadorians themselves are the biggest victims of the chaos, and a 2016 Central American University poll found that 24.5% of Salvadorians became victims of a violence crime in 2015. While foreigners are not specifically targeted, it’s easy to get caught in the crossfire of a gang war or be preyed upon in a random attack.

In addition to the threat of violence, El Salvador is vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms, which cause floods and sudden mudslides.

Even though its murder rate has dipped in recent years, owing to a nationwide military campaign to combat gang activity, backpackers heading through Central America are strongly advised to skip this stop.
1. Honduras

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Honduras comes at number one in the rankings for most dangerous travel destinations. For the past decade, the Central American nation has suffered from one of the worst homicide rates in the world. Since 2017, there have been 47 murders of U.S. citizens in the country, including 4 in 2016, and many more tourists have been robbed or assaulted, even in resort areas and other places considered safe.

Much of the violence is attributed to the presence of dominant street gangs such as MS-13 unhesitant to use extreme measures such as kidnapping, home invasion and even holding up public buses in order to amass funds. The gangs even control a number of the taxi services, and use that to their advantage to rob and extort unwitting customers. While criminal organizations in many countries tend to leave tourists alone, in Honduras, everyone is a target. What’s worse, the underfunded, ill-equipped police force does not have the resources to effectively fight back.

Honduras’s roads are another hazard: they are poorly maintained and traffic signs are imprecise or simply nonexistent. Local drivers often fail to obey traffic rules, speeding and passing in dangerous situations. Defense driving is a must.

Although there signs of improvement; the 2016 homicide rate of 59.1 murders per 100,000 people is down from 2011’s whopping 86.5 per 100,000, its best for tourists to avoid this country altogether.

Now that all you thrill junkies are sufficiently chastened, let’s count down the top ten safest countries for tourism.
Top Ten Safest Countries for Travel
10. Australia

The “land down under” is one of the safest destinations in the world for travelers. Compared to the United States, crime rates are very low, particularly for violent crime, as the U.S.’s rate of 4.7 incidents per 100k is a whopping four times higher than Australia’s. Furthermore, Australia’s homicide rate has steadily decreased in recent years, hitting a record low of 1 per 100,000 in the most recent findings. Tourists can rest easy knowing that the chances of being assaulted or killed in the country are next to none.

Australia is also generally safe from the threat of natural disasters, although occasional heat waves and bush fires in the country’s arid interior have been known to take lives. And while the country is infamous for being home to some of the most poisonous animals in the world, like the box jellyfish, with venom that can shut down a person’s nervous system in minutes, as well as 21 of the 25 most poisonous snakes in existence, very few people die each year from animal bites or stings. Exercising the proper caution should keep you safe. Perishing in a car crash is far more likely.
9. Norway

Norway–along with the rest of its Scandinavian neighbors–is extremely safe and violent crime is nearly unheard of. Police in the country don’t even carry guns. Despite the one dark spot in the nation’s recent history, travelers to the icy northern land can count on safety and the opportunity to interact with some of the most friendly and helpful people on earth.

The one area for concern is Norway’s frosty climate. According to the U.S. State Department, road conditions outside of Oslo can be treacherous, depending on weather conditions. Exposure is another concern, so don’t get drunk and pass out in a snow bank.
8. Canada

It is often claimed that that Canucks have a rate of gun ownership comparable to that of the United States, but with a drastically lower homicide rate. This is not quite true, as the U.S.’s 89 guns per 100 residents is far higher than Canada’s 31 per 100k, but it is true that the discrepancy in murder rates is significant. At around 2 per 100k, Canada’s homicide rate is less than half of its southern neighbor.

While there are some pockets of Toronto that might be considered less than safe, tourists would really have to go out of their way to find themselves in a dangerous situation. Canada is an overwhelmingly safe travel destination.

Reading that thousands of avalanches occur in Canada each year may seem concerning, but they mostly occur in remote northern areas where no reasonable person would set foot and pose no significant threat to travelers. Like Norway, the one noteworthy concern is the temperature. It can get pretty cold, so be sure to pack those long johns.
7. Germany

Yes, the recent influx of Syrian refugees into Germany has perpetuated something of a panic, but the actual threat posed by the recent migrants is drastically lower than sensationalist news media outlets would lead you to believe. Germany is a very safe country, and its people are honest to a fault and most would not think of scamming or misleading a visitor to the country.

Additionally, its geographical location protects Germany from any sort of natural disaster. The country is so short on threats that the U.S. State Department actually warns about roving bands of “hooligans” (their words, not mine), so I suppose that’s something to lookout for. Perhaps it’s best to steer clear of the area around Volksparkstadion stadium in Hamburg after the beloved Hamburger SV football club suffers a heartbreaking loss against traditional rivals, Werder Bremen.
6. France

In recent years, France has suffered several devastating terrorist attacks, the most severe of which being the heartbreaking 2015 mass shooting at the Bataclan theatre that coincided with several other bombings in Paris on the same day.

With these notable incidents in mind, it may be hard to believe that France belongs in a list of the top ten safest tourist destinations. However, France is the most visited country in the world, attracting over 80 million tourists from all over the world in a given year. The overwhelming majority (99.99% or more) of these travelers enjoy their trips in complete safety, thanks to a well-developed tourist infrastructure and a very low crime rate.

Of course, terrorist attacks command public attention and stoke fear; that is what they are designed to do. Nobody should be criticized for factoring these incidents into their travel plans, but it’s important to consider the extreme statistical unlikelihood of becoming a victim in such an attack. By most statistical measures, American visitors to France are safer during the duration of their trip than they are in their daily lives back home.
5. United Kingdom

As with France, several high profile incidents of terror have rocked the U.K. in the past half-decade, yet also like France, the country (yes, it’s technically one country, but also, like, several countries at the same time?) is overwhelmingly safe, statistically speaking, drawing tens of millions of visitors a year that tour the country without incident.

From 2000 to 2017, 126 people were killed in the United Kingdom as a result of terrorist attacks. By contrast, 372 were killed in such attacks in 1988 alone.

It may seem like I’m beating this to death, but it’s important to stress how media coverage and fearmongering distorts our perception of the actual potential for danger.

By any approximation, the U.K. is a safe place: the homicide rate is super low, gun ownership is practically non-existent (handguns are completely illegal), temperatures are mild (if a bit nippy), and dangerous and/or poisonous animals are nowhere to be found unlike its former prison colony across the globe.
4. Spain

Analogous to its Western European neighbors, Spain is a very safe country for tourists to visit. The birthplace of flamenco music and cold, refreshing gazpacho reported a 2016 homicide rate of just 0.66 people out of 100,000, good enough for second lowest in the EU and besting those of the eminently safe East Asian nations of Taiwan and South Korea. Also, Spain has somehow avoided steered clear of large scale terrorist attacks like those occurring in France and the U.K recently.

Considering the sheer of volume of foreign visitors Spain attracts each year without incident, Spain has a remarkable safety record. Travelers to the nation have very little to worry about, other than a heightened risk of pickpocketing and other petty crime in some touristy areas.
3. Japan

There are few countries on Earth where one can leave a bike unlocked in public for a week and come back to find it untouched, but Japan is one of them. For myriad reasons, the Land of the Rising Sun is one of the safest travel destinations on the planet. Theft is nearly unheard of, drug use is extremely scarce (and heavily punished) and the homicide rate of about 0.3 people per 100,000 is among the lowest in the developed world. Crime and murder are so suspiciously rare that a wealth of academic studies have been published in hopes of determining the reason behind it.

With an uber-friendly, polite (albeit shy) populace and virtually zero chance of becoming the victim of a crime, it goes without saying that Japan is nearly unparalleled in terms of safety for tourists. The only knock against it is its vulnerability towards earthquakes and tsunamis.
2. Singapore

World famous for its spotless sidewalks, broad-spectrum orderliness and–let’s face it,–draconian punishments for relatively minor crimes, Singapore is definitely one of the safest countries in the world. As long as people don’t spit gum out on the street or spray paint a train car—criminal offenses that may illicit a caning in the small city state–travelers would be hard pressed to find a more secure travel destination on the planet.

Whether you agree with the Singapore government’s authoritarian approach or not, the fact that its crime rates are basically the lowest in the world are evidence that it is effective. The one area of concern, according to Singapore law enforcement, is the recent increase in online scams, particularly sex-for-credit scams, but only lonely suckers fall for those.
1. Hong Kong

Technically a part of China, but with its own distinct laws, government and culture, Hong Kong is another East Asian destination where a woman or man can walk any street at any time of day or night without fear. With low (and continually declining) crime rates comparable to those of Japan and Singapore, yet without the authoritarian government of the latter or the risk of natural disaster in the former, Hong Kong is the safest place for tourists on Earth.

With a substantial and well-developed tourist sector, widespread use of English, and a fast, efficient and modern subway system, travelers to Hong Kong will continuously feel at ease.

The one strike against Hong Kong’s safety rating is its vulnerability to disease epidemics, as in the case of the 2003 SARS scar. This vulnerability stems from its humid, subtropical climate, high population density, and proximity to the Guangdong Province of China, where people eat anything that has four legs that isn’t a table and everything that flies that isn’t an airplane, culinary tendencies that increase the likelihood of a virus transferring from animal to human. Still, such outbreaks are few and far between, and not enough to knock Hong Kong off from its perch as the safest place to travel.

The following metrics were taken into account when creating this ranking: Crime, Security, Tourism, and Natural Disasters.
Rank (safest to dangerous) Country
1 Hong Kong SAR
2 Singapore
3 Japan
4 Spain
5 United Kingdom
6 France
7 Germany
8 Canada
9 Norway
10 Australia

GERMS! Tips to Avoid Getting Sick While Travelling

From The Costoco Connection
Public Bathrooms
Studies show that the toilet seat is often the cleanest surface in the washroom. Primary offender is the floor, along with the tops and sides of stall doors. Jet dryers are bigger germ spreaders than paper towels, spraying some viruses almost 10 feet.
Advice: Avoid setting bags on the floor where they can pick up germs and transfer them to other surfaces, use the door latch to open and close stall doors and wipe your hands with paper towels (when available) instead of using the jet dryer.

Tray tables are a germaphobe’s nightmare since they often don’t get cleaned between flights. Other passengers coughing and sneezing next you, within 6 feet, their droplets will have an impact.
Advice: Carry your own hand sanitizer to use in the lavatory as well as disinfecting wipes for the tray table. To protect yourself from other passengers, wear a scarf and bury your nose in it for 30 seconds when you hear nearby passengers sneezing.

10 Common Turtle Myths

This is a little outside my usual travel related postings, but I love animals and these turtle tips are really important. Just wanted to share some tips from American Tortoise Rescue.

Myth 1: Turtles are easy to care for – just buy a nice tank.

False: Turtles are wild animals. They have territories that can be many miles wide. Putting them in a tank is cruel. Think of it this way: it’s like spending the rest of our lives in the bathtub. A turtle needs a large habitat or a pond to approximate nature, not a tank.

Myth 2: Turtles usually live about five years.

False. In captivity, a well cared for turtle can live 25, 50 or more years. These animals have been on the earth for 200 million years, longer than dinosaurs. They might have to be in your will and maybe even your children’s will.

Myth 3: Turtles do not need veterinary care like dogs and cats.

False! The problem with turtles is because of their very slow metabolism, they do not show signs that they are sick until the illness has progressed. The signs and symptoms you should be very aware of include: Closed and swollen eyes, loss of appetite, sitting in one place looking miserable, daily pattern changes and runny nose and eyes. If any of these are observed, see a vet immediately.

Myth 4: It is best to buy turtles and tortoises at a pet store.

Absolutely false. Pet stores should sell pet supplies not pets. Pet stores might buy their turtles from cruel trappers. About 90 percent die in transit. Get your turtle the same place as a dog or cat. Go to the nearest animal shelter or find a reptile or turtle rescue online.

Myth 5: Turtles hide under plants to hibernate.

Some do, like box turtles. Some hibernate under water like red eared sliders and cooters. Each species has its own habits. Whichever it is, your turtle should be healthy and heavy before it is allowed to go to sleep for the winter.

Myth 6: Turtles hiss like snakes when they are mad.

While it is true that the sound a turtle makes sounds like it is hissing, it is not. When a turtle is afraid or picked up quickly, it pulls its head in really quickly and this action forces the air out. It is biological, not deliberate.

Myth 7: Turtles can eat just about anything

False. Turtles are carnivores that must eat live food like snails, fish and worms. You can also feed them prepared turtle food from a pet store. They should not be fed hot dogs, raw hamburger and cat food – stuff that they would not normally find in the wild. Water turtles can only eat under water.

Myth 8: Tiny water turtles stay that size.

False! Those small green water turtles that you see in plastic containers with fake palm tress are hatchlings that will grow up to be any where from six to 12 inches. It is illegal to buy or sell them in the US while they are under four inches.

Myth 9: Washing a turtle gets rid of salmonella.

False. Assume that every turtle no matter how clean is carrying salmonella. It is important to wash your hands after handling the turtle or its water, keep turtle things away from the kitchen and keep turtles out of homes where children under six live.

Myth 10: Turtles can live happily with artificial light.

False. Turtles need real sunlight to be able to grow normally and to have strong bones. Turtles deprived of sun get a condition known as metabolic bone disease where their bones disintegrate. A basking turtle in the sun is a happy and healthy turtle.

For more information, visit .

About Us

American Tortoise Rescue is a nonprofit founded in 1990 for the protection of all species of turtles and tortoises. We have rescued more than 4,000 since our inception. Foundlings that cannot be adopted because of ill health remain in the care of ATR for the remainder of their lives. ATR acts as a clearinghouse for information about turtle care. We work to abolish “live market” slaughter of turtles in the US, the cruel importation and exploitation of a variety of species and protecting the desert tortoise.

Quick facts

In captivity, a well-cared for turtle can live 25, 50 or more years.
Pet stores should sell pet supplies not pets. Adopt!
Turtles are carnivores that must eat live food like snails, fish and worms.

Where’d You Get Those Peepers?

I don’t know about you, but I have a tough time finding sunglasses I like. Either they don’t fit properly or don’t work with my shape of my face. When I do find a pair, they usually are way out of my price range. I’m also rather unhappy with a chain that will go unnamed because when I spent $200 on a pair of RayBans that fell apart, the retailer wouldn’t lift a finger to help. I had to go the factory myself for a fix that I paid for. So I was delighted when I discovered which is an online site with hundreds of sunglasses and even prescription glasses and sunglasses. No driving, parking and fighting with surly clerks. The pair I chose were Fendi Color Block. After ordering, they arrived within a week. They came with a authenticity certification card and were packed securely in a cardboard box. According to the box, I get 10% off my next purchase.SunglassesBox
These glasses are a great fit, don’t slide off my nose and are a little more fashionable than the sports style I usually wear.
If you are a picky shopper, or just want to browse and see what’s out there, check out I am considering them for my next prescription buy.MoBird

Tips for US Border Crossings This Summer

Just got this press release in from US Customs and Border Protection:

Washington: As the busiest three months of international travel approach, U.S. Customs and Border Protection encourages travelers to “Know Before You Go” when traveling to the United States or returning home this summer. CBP officers at international airports, cruise terminals and land border ports of entry around the country and at Preclearance facilities around the world are prepared for the additional traffic expected this summer. Last summer, CBP processed more than 108.3 million international travelers at U.S. ports of entry.

“The United States has been and continues to be a welcoming country and CBP remains committed to facilitating lawful travel to the United States,” said Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. “In the spirit of this commitment, CBP has deployed innovative programs and technology including Trusted Traveler Programs, Automated Passport Control kiosks and Mobile Passport Control to make the arrival process as efficient and as quick as possible while maintaining our dual mission of border security and travel facilitation.”

CBP encourages travelers to plan ahead to ensure a smooth and efficient processing experience. Use these tips to help you prepare.

Travel Documents: Travelers should have appropriate passports and any other associated travel documents ready when approaching a CBP officer for processing or visiting a foreign country. Find out more information about approved travel documents for entry into the U.S. as well as country specific information at and Remember to carry these documents with you, do not pack them.

Familiarize yourself with Automated Passport Control (APC) and Mobile Passport Control: These two programs are making the entry process more efficient, intuitive and paperless for travelers. Learn which option works best for you and speed up your entry into the United States. APC expedites the entry process for most international travelers by allowing them to submit their biographic information and answers to inspection-related questions electronically at self-service kiosks located at 49 airports worldwide. At 23 U.S. airports, U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors can submit their passport information and answers to inspection-related questions to CBP via a smartphone or tablet app prior to arrival. Android and iPhone users can download the Mobile Passport app for free from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Declare goods: Truthfully declare everything you are bringing from abroad including duty-free items. If duty is applicable, credit cards or cash payment in U.S. currency is acceptable.

Declare foods: Many agriculture products can bring damaging pests and diseases into the country. If you have questions about what food is allowed or not allowed in to the U.S. visit and remember don’t pack a pest!

Apply and pay for an I-94 online: Speed up your entry into the U.S. by providing your biographic and travel information and paying the $6 fee for the I-94 application online at up to seven days prior to entry.

Monitor border wait times: Download the Border Wait Time app or use the border crossings wait times website to plan your trip across the border. Know which ports of entry have heavier traffic and possibly use an alternate route. Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light use/short waits. The official Border Wait Time app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Obtain a radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled travel document to use a Ready Lane at some land ports of entry: At some ports of entry, processing in Ready Lanes is 20 percent faster than normal lanes and provide a time savings of up to 20 seconds per vehicle. To use Ready Lanes, adult travelers (over 16 years of age) are required to have high-tech RFID enabled cards. These include RFID-enabled U.S. Passport cards, Legal Permanent Resident cards, B1/B2 border crossing cards, Trusted Traveler Cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST) and Enhanced Driver’s Licenses.

Declare gifts: Gift you bring back for your personal use must be declared, but you may include them in your personal exemption. This includes gifts people gave you while you were out of the country and gifts you have brought back for others.

Prohibited vs. Restricted: Know the difference between prohibited merchandise (which is forbidden by law to enter the United States) and restricted merchandise (items needing special permit to be allowed into the United States). For more information, visit the Restricted/Prohibited section of the CBP website.

Traveling with medication: Travelers must declare all medicine and similar products when entering the United States. Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor’s prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply. If your medications or devices are not in their original containers, you must have a copy of your prescription with you or a letter from your doctor. A valid prescription or doctor’s note is required on all medication entering the U.S.

Traveling with pets: Cats and dogs must be free of disease and illness when entering the United States. In addition, dog owners must be able to show proof of rabies vaccination. If crossing with a puppy, certain paperwork will need to be completed at the border for the “new addition to the family.” All pets are subject to health, quarantine, agriculture, or wildlife requirements and prohibitions. The regulations about bringing a pet into the United States are the same whether you drive over the U.S. border with your pet in your car, fly, or travel by other means. Pets taken out of the United States and returned are subject to the same requirements as those entering for the first time. For more information about traveling with your pet to a foreign country or bringing your pet into the U.S., visit APHIS’s pet travel website.

Report Traveling with $10,000 or more: There is no limit to how much currency you may take in or out of the United States; however, U.S. federal law requires you to report your total currency of $10,000 or more. Currency includes all forms of monetary instruments. Travelers who fail to truthfully report all of their currency risk their currency being seized, and may face criminal charges.

For citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries, an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is required before boarding an aircraft. For those traveling by air or sea on a visa, CBP has automated the Form I-94 removing the need for travelers to fill out a paper copy. Travelers will still be able to obtain their I-94 number and/or a copy of their I-94 online.

For your next trip, consider joining the ranks of a Trusted Traveler. Trusted Traveler members enrolled in Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI continue to enjoy the most expedited CBP processing experience. Trusted Traveler members retain their membership for five years.

CBP’s mission is to facilitate travel while maintaining the highest standards of security for those who live here and for those who come to visit. On a typical day last year, CBP officers processed more than 1 million travelers arriving airports, seaports or border crossings. During the holiday season, travelers should expect heavy traffic. Planning ahead and adopting these travel tips can save time and lead to a less stressful trip.