By George Stone, TRAVEL Executive Editor
These days the only frequent flier I know is not a person. It’s this question: When we will safely get back to travel? The question takes off frequently in conversation...and never seems to land anywhere for very long. Everyone wants answers—and for good reason: We long to reconnect with the world (and to escape the worlds we’ve been stuck in).
Promising news trickles in. On Monday, the EPA approved a request to permit American Airlines to use a new surface coating that kills coronaviruses for up to seven days. That news helped lift airline shares, which is one indication of the aspirations of travelers.
But while cleaning technologies are quickly evolving to meet the needs of travelers during a pandemic, other news threatens to keep them grounded. Last week, American Airlines announced that it will temporarily stop flying routes to 15 small cities in the U.S. Among them: Kalamazoo, Michigan; New Haven, Connecticut; and Roswell, New Mexico. Elvis hunters, Ivy Leaguers, and alien aficionados are suffering. Other airlines are likely considering their own route consolidations.
The airline industry has been hit hard, with passengers fearful of flying. Such service cuts challenge destinations as well as airlines. It’s too early to tell how far these cuts will go, and when service might return to these cities. The future of travel was the topic of conversation Monday morning on a panel discussion hosted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Luc Bondar of United Airlines, spoke of all that airlines are doing to increase travel confidence. Evita Robinson, the founder of NOMADNESS Travel Tribe—and one of Nat Geo’s 21 visionary female explorers who changed the world—spoke of ways to make travel more inclusive, accessible, and safe for all.
And I told listeners to look for silver linings. The pandemic will not last forever, and the dreams we have of travel now—including our ideas for improving travel in the future—will become our reality in a blink. It’s worth staying hopeful—otherwise you might miss your next flight!
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Your Instagram photo of the day
Photographer Dené Miles can’t stop her annual springtime trip to easter Washington and western Idaho. “The areas vary from completely flat to rolling hills and mountains. The green hills during that time of year are some of the most photogenic I’ve seen,” she says. (The photo above was taken on a back road in Idaho.)
Related: Dealing with a different world on a drive across America
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Today in a minute
Exotic roll call: Republicans at their convention in North Carolina opted for a roll call at lunchtime Monday, nominating their presidential candidate, Donald Trump, with about three-fourths of the presenters men. The delegates used a standard backdrop. “The spiciest it got was the North Carolina guy’s jacket and the tricorn hat on the lady from Delaware,” the Washington Post’s Philip Bump wrote. Last week’s remote Democratic version included exotic backdrops and cuisine of America's 50 states and seven territories when each announced the votes of their delegates for Joe Biden. For viewers intrigued by those settings, CNN had this rundown of the 57 locations used across the nation last week.
‘It’s like the Amish Las Vegas’: The area near Florida’s Siesta Key, particularly one neighborhood in Sarasota, has been a vacation gathering spot for vacationing Amish and Mennonites for decades, says photographer Dina Litovsky. The strict Anabaptist rules are relaxed slightly, she says (here’s her image of a mom on a hovercraft). “This is the only time of the year where everybody gets to mingle,” Litovsky tells the BBC.
The books that made her want to travel: “They helped me feel as if I were traveling before I could, and now, in these strange, restrictive times, they’re helping me do the same while I can’t,” Courtney Lichterman writes for the Washington Post. While others are using the pandemic as a time to declutter, Lichterman is not parting with unused guide books of places she has yet to travel. They are bound together by potential, she says, and the well-used maps and books of past journeys, which she’s also keeping, “are no longer books as much as stacks of mixed-up sheets held together by memory."
The big takeaway
Let the waters dance: Engineers moved water 11 miles from the Seine to fill 55 fountains at the French royal palace in Versailles. A pumping station pushed the water from the river up to an aqueduct, and then gravity took over for the rest of the journey to the palace complex built for Louis XIV, Ulrike Lemmin-Woolfrey writes for Nat Geo.
In a few words
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On Wednesday, Victoria Jaggard covers the latest in science. If you’re not a subscriber, sign up here to also get Rachael Bale on animals, Whitney Johnson on photography, and Debra Adams Simmons on history.
The last glimpse
Finding nature: Access to parkland has never been more important. An act that became law this month is pumping money into parks and wild spaces with an eye on the estimated 100 million people don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk of their homes. From Los Angeles to New Orleans, from Boise to Des Moines, here is a look at 10 beautiful urban parks. (Above, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, part of Michigan’s 982-acre Belle Isle Park on the Detroit River.)