Digital Health Passports: Why You Will Absolutely Need One If You Want To Travel

For those of us who live to travel the world Digital Health Passports, also known as Vaccine Passports, may be our ticket to finally getting back to flying the friendly skies.

Years ago when I was off exploring the world there were multiple countries requiring proof of vaccine to enter/or your home country required you to be vaccinated to travel to. (I no longer remember which way it went). As a world traveler I was vaccinated for all of it, everything from Diptheria to Typhoid to Yellow Fever. I took a 2 week course of Malaria pills before one trip, and from memory when I lived in London I had a cholera vaccine too.

But It Got Tricky…

But here is where it all gets tricky. Back then you had a card clipped into your passport and/or some vaccinations may have been stamped into your passport or to a separate paper, and herein lies the problem. I don’t remember how all these vaccines were tracked. There is no record. Whether it was stamps, pieces of paper from the doctor who administered them or the carte jaune, however these vaccines were recorded is all long gone.

Sample Carte Jaune /Yellow Card

Since being vaccinated I have gone through multiple passports, became a citizen of a second country and then had two passports, have moved to different countries and then moved within those countries. Long story short I couldn’t tell you the name of my old doctor in L.A let alone who I had in London. With nothing digitized there is no way to trace this random information.

RELATED POST: Sustainable Travel – 10 Simple Steps To Be Part of the Solution

What Is A Digital health Passport?

A Digital Health Passport or Vaccine Passport is simply a digital means of tracking which vaccines you have had and when you had them. Information from covid test results can be uploaded as well. This keeps all your pertinent vaccine travel information in one uniformly accepted place.

When you travel to different countries their passport control will be able to scan the QR code on your digital health passport at the same time they scan your passport, and know whether to allow you in or not.

How Do They Work?

Digital Health Passports or Vaccine Passports are merely a higher tech and more efficient version of what we currently have. They will likely be in app form, making it easier to get your information uploaded quickly.

As far as I know if you are traveling anywhere that requires a yellow fever vaccine you still have to present your Carte Jaune/Yellow Card on arrival. (I lost mine somewhere in the world, God only knows when.)

If you have children then you already know that at least here in the U.S. you have a card with all their vaccination information on it, and copies of it have to be sent to schools/colleges/a variety of other places your child goes.

Now this information will be stored digitally in one place, will be difficult to forge, and will enable all countries to somewhat safely allow travelers entry.

RELATED POST: 21 Books To Inspire Your Wanderlust

Are Vaccine Passports Necessary?

By the middle of 2021 the expectation is that countries will pivot from just requiring a negative covid test to requiring proof of vaccination in order to open their borders to travelers. For now most countries are still closed to travel and with the proliferation and highly contagious spread of variants such as the South African and Brazilian strains of the virus, negative tests aren’t proving adequate in stopping the spread.

Think about where you live. How would you feel if 1000 people from country X descended on your neighborhood tomorrow? 1000 people who had no proof of vaccination or testing negative for covid and its various strains other than a piece of paper that anyone with very basic photoshop skills could forge? What about if 2000 people arrived all at once? The average cruise ship holds 4000, so imagine 4000 people arriving all at once, with only a piece of paper saying they were safe to be where you go about your life?

Las Ramblas Barcelona crowds
Barcelona’s Las Ramblas during tourist season. How covid-safe would you feel in that crowd?

Just as a regular passport will flag you if you are a danger to the country you are trying to enter, a vaccine passport will flag you if you potentially pose a risk.

Covid 19

It looks like Covid 19 and its variables will be around somewhere between a long time and forever, so if the world is going to open back up and get some semblance of normalcy we will need a way to track safe admission into every country. Beyond that we need one type of testing that is universally recognized along with a small group of regulated covid vaccines that are monitored and recognized worldwide. Like the Polio vaccine. Or the Measles vaccine, or Smallpox, or Typhoid or any one of multiple vaccines.

The Common Pass and IATA Travel Pass

The two biggest contenders in the worldwide digital health passport category are The Common Pass and the IATA Travel Pass.

The World Economic Forum got together with a Swiss non profit to create a means to open world economies back up. They created The Common Pass, a digital passport utilizing the criteria above. More than 2000 international airports along with numerous foreign governments have already signed on to the program, which provides a standardized format so that all countries use the same testing protocols and group of vaccine options.

IATA, the International Air Travel Association are working on another international digital health passport called the IATA Travel Pass. Multiple airlines have already signed on. Read more about it here

Between the two the world should hopefully be able to reopen somewhat safely in the not too distant future.

Covid tests will only be accepted from approved vendors using specific protocols – just like the current system if you want to travel to Hawaii.

In all likelihood it will be impossible to catch every case, but as the majority of each population get vaccinated the spread of this particular virus should come close to stopping.

RELATED POST: How To Use Pinterest To PLan Amazing Travel Experiences

When Will We Need Them By?

At the time of writing this post Digital Health Passports are still being worked on. The assumption at this time is that by mid 2021 they will be available and will become the new mode of entry to crossing international borders. There is thought that without a digital health passport/vaccine passport travelers will be banned from entering most countries.

What Are The Downsides?

One downside to the Digital Health Passports is that not all countries will be up to speed with vaccines at the same time. If they have vaccine availability they may lack the critical infrastructure necessary to make this system work.

Third world and developing countries will be disadvantaged, although I would expect their national airlines and the other major international airlines who route through these countries to come up with a vaccine plan, just to keep business moving.

What About The Anti-Vaxxers?

Not everyone can be vaccinated. Some medical conditions preclude getting vaccines.

Then you have those who will just refuse vaccination.

I’m not sure what the world will do about those who cannot be vaccinated, but those who choose to opt out will no doubt be refused the ability to travel internationally. Which is fair enough. Unless someone can persuade me otherwise (with rational argument, not hysteria) I don’t think anyone who chooses not to take the vaccine should be allowed to travel internationally.

Where I live a frightening percentage of people are caught somewhere between believing Bill Gates wants to microchip them (it would be more efficient to just track their phones, but whatever) and that vaccines are going to kill them/sterilize them/be too dangerous. Short of a really good marketing drive explaining the covid vaccines I can’t see them ever getting vaccinated.

Imagine this was your neighborhood, and within this crowd are multiple people who chose not to get vaccinated.

I don’t want thousands of people flying in to my country and swanning around my neighborhood with highly contagious variants (or any covid actually) and getting infections growing again. When you look at how devastating Covid 19 has been to the entire world and all economies, it makes sense not to let anyone travel internationally without proof of vaccination and negative covid tests.

It will be interesting to see what happens and how all of this pans out.

But in the meantime keep an eye out for the Common Pass and the IATA Travel Pass digital health passports.

I am keeping my followers up to date on everything to do with vaccines and international travel in my twice monthly newsletter. The newsletter is primarily about travel in Italy. If you are interested in Italy travel stories and want to stay abreast of covid vaccine + travel news you are welcome to join us here

5 Things You Absolutely Must Do In Beautiful Turin!

Several years ago I followed a gorgeous blog that was written by an expat living in Turin, Italy. The blog was just fabulous and I really looked forward to it arriving in my inbox each week. I would take time to curl up with a coffee and read through each glorious word, pore over each photo, and dream about the perfect trip to Torino.

Then one day, poof! it disappeared. Gone as if it never existed. Over the years I have searched to try and find it but I guess she took it down because no matter how I search I just cannot find it anywhere. There should be some rule that fabulous blogs need to stick around in perpetuity for us to always be able to enjoy!

Anyway, not too long ago a friend of mine, Olivia (@livguine on Instagram) fell in love with a handsome Piedmontese fellow and moved to Turin. She leads a dreamy life there full of visits to wineries (she has a wine background) exploring and cooking Northern Italian dishes.

For those of you who belong to my Newsletter Liv has sent me a recipe for a hearty pasta dish specifically for the newsletter. If you are not a member of my newsletter group you can join here.

I asked Olivia to give me a list of 5 things you absolutely must do when visiting beautiful Turin. Here is the list as created by a resident of the city, not a traveler:

5 Things You Must Do In Turin

Monte dei Cappuccini, Turin

1. Visit Monte dei Cappuccini

This is a beautiful late-Renaissance-style church on a hill overlooking the River Po near the bridge of Piazza Vittorio Veneto. It was built for the Capuchin Order (an order of Franciscan monks.) Construction began in 1583, and was completed in 1656. From Monte dei Cappuccini you have a stunning view over beautiful Turin.

View of Turin from Monte dei Cappuccini

Be sure to go up there on a clear day though – Turin is famously foggy!

2. The Basilica of Superga

Basilica of Superga. Image via happilyontheroad.com

This church on the hill of Superg was built in 1717-1731 to celebrate Turin defeating the French and Spanish in the Battle of Turin. It is home to the tombs of the Savoy family. In 1949 a plane carrying the Turin football team crashed into the basilica, (which was hidden in the fog) killing everyone onboard. There is a tomb commemorating them at the back of the church.

While there be sure to visit the royal apartments and also climb the dome! You can read more about what to see at the Basilica in this blog post from HappilyOnTheRoad.com

3. Visit The Cinema Museum at Mole Antonelliana

The Antonelliana Tower watching over Turin

Did you know Turin was the birthplace of Italian cinema? Italy’s National Museum of Film is housed here in Turin in the Mole Antonelliana, one of the city’s iconic landmarks. The museum is interactive and really fantastic. You can also go to the top of the tower and take in the majestic views of this gorgeous city, all th way to the alps.

4. Bicerin And A Stroll Through Quadrilatero

Bicerin, image via La Cucina Italiana

In Turin, the locals don’t drink hot chocolate in the winter time, they drink bicerin! It’s a delicious concoction of chocolate, coffee and milk topped with cream. The best place to sip on this is at Caffe Al Bicerin, before taking a stroll through the oldest part of the city that dates back to the Roman ages.

5 Vermouth And A Royal Palace

Palazzo Reale Turin

Who doesn’t love wandering through a European royal palace?

Palazzo Reale Turin

Turin was home to the Royal family of Savoy and they left their mark with the beautiful Royal Palace in the city centre. Stroll through the beautiful palace before joining the locals at aperitivo hour with a glass of Torinese vermouth.

If you are interested in learning more about things to do in and around Turin be sure to check out my friend Olivia’s website, Livguine.com (A play on her name and linguine – Liv is a fabulous cook and shares recipes from Torino on her website. She also has this post about 48 Hours In Turin. You can also listen to her fabulous interview on the Untold Italy Podcast here. I guarantee you will absoluteely fall in love with her story!

Sustainable Travel: How To Be Part Of The Solution In 10 Simple Steps

Mass tourism is completely untenable.

Beautiful cities like Venice are being destroyed by mass tourism.

If one good thing comes from the world being shut down due to the pandemic it could be the realigning of how we travel so that when the world does reopen, maybe this time we can get it right.

Mass tourism causes irreparable damage on many levels but the three most pervasive are: environmental damage, social and cultural damage and economic damage. As much as you may think several thousand people dismbarking from a cruise ship boosts a local economy, guess what – it doesn’t. In fact it does the exact opposite.

This post is the final in a series about sustainable travel, what it is and why we need to be part of the solution.

What Is Sustainable Travel?

Before you start thinking Sustainable tourism is about driving a Prius and eating vegan food let’s look at what it really means. Sustainable travel means developing ways to travel that don’t harm the natural and cultural environments, that minimize the negative impact of tourism and ideally are beneficial to the places we are traveling to. The idea is to keep everything in good condition for future generations to enjoy.

10 Ways You Can Become A Sustainable Traveler

We can make a huge difference by just making a few simple changes in the way we travel. Here are 10 simple things you can do that will make you part of the solution rather thn part of the problem.

1. DON’T Book A Cruise!

The cruise industry is one of the worst offenders in the mass tourism game. Cruises have a massive negative impact on the oceans and the ports they arrive into.

Cruise ship leaving Venice. During the tourist season there will be 5 ships per day in port in Venice. That’s 20,000 extra people decending into a very small town that is extremely environmentally fragile.

The influx of multiple thousands of passengers is bad for the environment, bad for local culture and bad for the local economy.

Here are eight places being completely ruined by the cruise industry:

  • Venice
  • Barcelona
  • Dubrovnik
  • Santorini
  • Mallorca
  • The Great Barrier Reef
  • The Galapagos Islands
  • Bali

You can read more about cruise ships damaging impact on the environment here

RELATED POST: 15 Things You MUST Do In Venice

2. Be Aware Of The Trash You Create

When thinking about the impact you have on any place you travel to, any city, town, village, beach, national park, at all times be aware of the amount of trash you are generating and leaving behind. Even if you are putting it in a trash can or dumpster.

The worst offenders are single use plastics, like bottles of water. Choosing to use refillable bottles or refilling the one bottle can make a huge difference.

Crowds on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas. Imagine if each of these people purchased 2 or 3 bottles of water. Where does all that single use plastic go?

Also think about the amount of trash your food choices create. Making an effort to only eat sitting down in a restaurant/café/food bar can eliminate the trash created by the packaging for fast foods. Try keeping all your trash for two days – you will be amazed at how much you generate! Try imagining that volume of refuse multiplied out by the number of tourists in that town that day. For example if you are in Venice and buy 3 bottles of water you may not think that’s much waste created, but multiply that out by the 20,000 passengers from the 5 cruise ships in port that day and you start seeing what a huge deal that really is.

Beach litter in Hawaii.

3. Avoid Major Chains

Outside of your home country or traveling to the U.S or U.K avoid staying at major chain hotels. When you book with a major international chain approximately 16% of your nightly hotel fee won’t go to the local economy, it will go to the conglomerate. Booking a local hotel keeps the money in that specific town.

The same applies to your dining choices. Avoid the major U.S fast food chains – you didn’t travel across the world to eat McDonald’s and drink Starbucks. Eat at local cafes and restaurants where the food is locally sourced and prepared by locals and where all your dollars are going back into the local economy.

4. Book Direct

When you book a hotel reservation (or any reservation) through a third party booking service like Booking.com or Hotels.com 25% of the value of your booking doesn’t make it to the local economy. Find out what the price is with the consolidator then call the hotel and ask them to match it. 9 times out of 10 they will, and now once again you are putting all the money back into the local economy.

5. Choose Less Traveled Locations.

The Greek island of Paros is much less touristed than islands such as Santorini and Mykonos.

Rather than choosing the most touristed places for your vacation, choose a place less traveled. Rather than Santorini choose one of the hundreds of equally beautiful Greek islands that don’t get cruise ships. Instead of Barcelona venture to one of Catalonia’s equally magical smaller coastal towns. Seeking out smaller, less touristy locations helps dilute mass tourism.

If you must go to (a.k.a. don’t want to miss) the most touristed cities and islands try to go during the off season when then are fewer people around. I love Barcelona but only go between November and March when the cruise ships aren’t running.

6. Get Off The Beaten Path

Florence streets
Florence on a super crowded day. There were literally thousands of people about 500 meters away, yet we had the city to ourselves.

This goes with number 5. Even in the big cities you can still get off the beaten path. Avoid the areas that are full of tourists and explore some of the lesser known sights. You’ll have a much more enriching and fulfilling experience. My rule is spend 25% of your time at the big sites and the other 75% at lesser known, lesser visited places, or “off the beaten track”. Of course you have to see the Colosseum in Rome – it would be madness to miss it. But then go explore the less visited sites and you will fall in love with the Eternal City.

RELATED POST: 18 Things You MUST Do In Florence

7. Support Local Artisans

Rather than shop in high street stores which you have at home anyway, or buying junky trinkets in made in China souvenir shops, support local artisans.

In a random little town in Tuscany we found this local artisan with her loom, making beautiful hand designed pashminas, scarves and knitwear.

Apart from helping keep the crafts and cultures alive shopping from local artisans significantly impacts the local economy.

We bought pieces both for ourselves and for gifts to take home. There were six of us and we equalled her entire month in sales. Always support the local economy.

8. Check Your Sunscreen

Believe it or not something as simple as your choice of sunscreen can have an environmental impact. Sunscreen gets into the ocean and other waterways when you swim or shower it off. You don’t need to be vacationing near the coral reefs for your sunscreen to have an impact.

In 2015 scientists estimated that annually 14,000 tons of sunscreen wash into the world’s coral reefs.

Coral reefs are being destroyed by pollutants.

Some of the most common sunscreen ingredients, oxybenzone, octinoxate, nano zinc oxide and nano titanium dioxide can harm both sea creatures and coral reefs. The damage is significant enough that some places are banning sun tan lotions containing them. In 2018 Hawaii banned the sale of sun tan lotions, sunblocks and suncreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate.

For a list of easily available and affordable reef safe sunscreens click here

9. Travel By Train

italo train Naples

Trains have been shown to be the most environmentally friendly mode of travel. Where possible use trains to travel through Europe rather than cars or planes. Using car only on the days you can’t get places by train has a significant impact on the environment.

RELATED POST: 21 Books That Will Inspire Wanderlust

10. Choose Your Animal Experiences Carefully

Animals shouldn’t be used for entertainment and should be able to live with as little human interference as possible. If you need to see animals in the wild take your tourism dollars to wildlife sanctuaries and refuges and marine conservation projects.

Kim Kardashian with elephant
Kim Kardashian said this was at an elephant sanctuary but sanctuaries don’t ride elephants and don’t use ropes on them. This poor animal was being abused.

Be aware that animals are mistreated and abused in the name of tourism. Don’t take an elephant ride – riding elephants can be extremely harmful to them and the process for getting an elephant ready to be ridden is inhumane. (Rescued elephants go to sanctuaries to escape a life of being ridden and abused.)

Avoid all experiences where animals are not behaving naturally. Also be aware that animals are being torn from the wild to be made available for tourists to take selfies with.

Want to know more? Listen to the Any Given Runway Podcast episode where we talk about sustainable travel and how you can make a huge difference by doing very small things. You can check out the webpage here

Join the Corinna B’s World newsletter and get secret Italy travel tips in your inbox twice each month! You can join the list here.