Important Tips for Safely Traveling Abroad this Summer

7 great tips for safe international travel in a Pandemic

 Get vaccinated and tested before travel and before returning to the USA

You might have not been vaccinated yet for various reasons.  If you want to get vaccinated, definitely do that before you travel.  If you cannot or choose not to get vaccinated, most countries will require you to get a PCR test a few days before you enter the country.  Be sure to check the travel restrictions from a reliable source such as the US embassy website for the country that you plan to visit.  Also, according to the CDC, all air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 3 days before travel or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months before they board a flight to the United States.

Plan on centering your vacation on outdoor activities

This might be the perfect year to go explore the great outdoors in an exotic country.  Perhaps you have never seen the jungles of the Amazon basin or the immense Himalayan mountains.   This is the perfect time to go to these remote areas where there is little contact with masses of people.  Jungles and mountains too extreme for you?  No worries, you can have a great beach vacation on lesser known beaches like this hidden gem: Playa de los Friales. 

Stay in isolated areas like airbnbs or hotels designed to avoid masses

I have traveled all over the world using AirBnB.  I know there are other platforms for short term rentals.  I love using these options because you have your own privacy and a unique experience staying in a place that will never be the same anywhere else.  This is a great option to avoid others and many short term rental owners will give you access without having to be in direct contact.

Stay in places that have kitchens where you can prepare certain meals like breakfasts and snacks

This is another benefit to staying in short term rentals.  Additionally, it is a great way to save a bit of money.  Instead of going out for simpler meals such as breakfast, you can easily prepare something delicious in the comfort of your accommodation.  Swing by the local market and pick up some local fresh fruit or pastries and enjoy!

Think about the climate zone and choose one where you can comfortably eat at restaurants outside 

  If you do choose to go out for meals, definitely check out places where you can sit outside on a lovely patio.  Tropical destinations make this experience absolutely delightful.  Perhaps try to avoid places that are too hot as well!

Catch up on local news to see which restrictions are in place

Each country is experiencing this pandemic distinctly.  Some countries like Israel are no longer using masks and life has more or less returned to “normal” and other countries  have once again demanded stay at home orders like Colombia.  It is important that you know what is happening in the country that you are planning to visit.   Local news and the US embassy websites have this information.  

Use a local agency or contact to help plan your travel

More than ever, using someone who is on the ground can be a tremendous help in these more turbulent times.  Agencies know which restaurants are safe, which hotels and restaurants are still open,which activities are available, and what the current restrictions are.  They can help you discover hidden gems and amazing activities that aren’t well promoted online than can replace others if restrictions are in place.  If you are interested in traveling to Latin America, Nepal or South Africa, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help!

What teachers say about Human Nature

Nicole, a teacher from Colorado, tells her story of traveling in Ecuador with Human Nature. Check out the video to see what her experience was like!

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The Great Toilet Paper Crisis of 2020

I know everyone is preoccupied (and rightly so) with the current COVID-19 pandemic, but I have had another global crisis on my mind these last few weeks–the apparent worldwide toilet paper shortage.  The toilet paper situation has intrigued me because, here in Ecuador, we have plenty of toilet paper. The shelves are completely stocked, and there is no evidence of the hoarding that has been reported in countries such as the USA, UK, Australia, and Western Europe in general.  So as I’ve talked to friends and family “back home” and heard their woes of having to scavenge for toilet paper, I was perplexed by why the so called “Developed World” was having such a shortage, while here in the Global South (e.g. “Developing World”), we are well stocked and wiping away!  


After having this dichotomy nag at me for several weeks, I did a bit of googling this morning which resulted in a Eureka! moment. Here’s what I learned:  it’s all about the supply chain. The toilet paper industry is not homogenous–it is split into two distinct markets: commercial and consumer. The commercial market toilet paper is a completely different product than the consumer rolls that most Americans use in their households. 

Commercial toilet paper, typically sold in large rolls that are delivered on pallets, are usually made from lower quality, recycled paper. The way that it is produced and distributed is so different from consumer paper, that most toilet paper manufacturers only produce commercial OR consumer–not both.  

Consumer paper on the other hand, is usually made from virgin fiber, are thicker, softer, and come on conveniently small rolls, sold in packages of 8 or 12.  I’m talking about your typical Charmin or Quilted Northern that you would buy at your supermarket.  

So, why is the distinction between consumer and commercial so important in understanding the current shortage of toilet paper?  Well, currently, about 75% of the population in affected countries are staying at home under shelter in place or quarantine orders.  According to Georgia-Pacific, the average household will use 40% more toilet paper than usual in their homes while they are staying home from work/school.  Normally, people go to work or school or restaurants throughout most of the day and use commercial paper in those institutions. Now, however, everyone is at home boosting the demand of consumer paper.  And that, my friends, explains the shortage in the USA etc. There might be some hoarding going on as well, but a lot of the shortage goes back to supply and demand and the logistics of the industry.  

Now, the second part of my Eureka! moment brings us to the dichotomy of the shortages in more developed countries and the business-as-usual plethora here in Ecuador.  In Ecuador, as in most of the Global South, everyone has to bring their own toilet paper to use in most places outside of their home. Here, you don’t leave the house without a hearty wad of TP from your own consumer supply because restrooms in offices, restaurants, schools, parks, etc. do not supply free toilet paper.  We take it for granted in the States that if you walk into a public restroom or the bathroom in your office that it will be stocked with a roll of (usually) commercial toilet paper. Down here, that is a luxury we do not have. Therefore, the demand for consumer toilet paper has not drastically increased due to the entire population being in lockdown in their homes, because we always had to supply 24 hours/day’s worth of toilet paper for ourselves anyway–regardless of where we were doing our business.  Our supply and demand remains in equilibrium.  

This may seem insignificant to some people, but I find it fascinating how this global crisis is transforming our world and teaching us about the nuts and bolts of how our society and economy operates.  It is terrifying and devastating, but it is also so interesting to learn about things that we have taken for granted and never given thought to, e.g. toilet paper supply chains and demand disparities across cultures.  So much is changing in our world and it is happening so fast. Even the ripple effects feel like tsunamis; so I hope you are all hanging in there, that you are safe, healthy, and have plenty of toilet paper.  

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