Travel Briefings

Freely Travel Briefing: Issue No.32

Isolation requirements for international arrivals may have been scrapped, but there’s a scrooge by the name of Omicron getting in the way of our Christmas cheer. Some countries are riskier to visit than others, so this week, we’ll examine the latest travel advice for more than 100 destinations. As we reflect on the year that was, we’re celebrating differences in tradition: like the Indian village where your name is a song, and the culture with four months of Christmas. This festive season, you also might find yourself seated next to a relative with clashing views, so we’ve put together some resources for navigating racist interactions at the dinner table. However you mark the close of 2021, we at Freely warmly wish you peace, and will be back in January after taking a little vacay ourselves! Until then. ✌🏽

72-hour Isolation Scrapped for International Arrivals

Photo by: Fidel Fernando

NSW and Victoria have aligned their COVID-19 restrictions for fully vaccinated international travellers and flight crew.

Just in time for Christmas, NSW and Victoria have aligned their COVID-19 restrictions for vaxxed international travellers and flight crew – no longer requiring people who land in Sydney or Melbourne to isolate for 72 hours upon arrival. Instead, incoming passengers just need to produce a negative pre-departure test within three days of boarding their flight and within 24 hours of landing, isolating until they get a result. With test result waiting times blowing out to five days at some facilities due to a surge in demand, we’re not sure this alternative makes sense, but hey, we don’t make the rules…

Full piece: NSW Government Media Release

A Merry Filipino Christmas

Photo by: Pulaw

When Christmas carols start belting out of every second store in the Philippines literally overnight on August 31, you won’t hear anyone complaining

When Christmas carols start belting out of every second store in the Philippines literally overnight on August 31, you won’t hear anyone complaining. 🎅🏾 There, the festivities stretch across all the ‘-ber’ months: so September, October, November and December. It’s not really known why Filipinos started celebrating the silly season so early, but given the extensive reach of what constitutes family, the closeness of those relationships and the need to spend quality time with all of them, it kind of makes sense. So what exactly does a Filipino Christmas (and feast) entail?

Full piece: Bron Maxabella for SBS

Kongthong: Where Your Name is a Melody 🎵

Photo by: Mrinmoy Adhikary

When a person dies, their song dies with them.

Tucked between a series of high ridges and deep gorges in India’s remote north-east is a village with a very special tradition. Whenever a baby is born in Kongthong, as well as being assigned a regular name – which gets used for official purposes – their mother also gives them a melody. It is this unique tune that becomes each person’s identity and what they respond to for their whole life. And when someone dies, their song dies with them, never to be given to another human ever. Known as jingrwai iawbei, this heartwarming naming system has been flourishing for hundreds of years.

Full piece: Satarupa Paul

How to Deal with Racist Family Members This Holiday Season

Photo by: Sebastian Coman Photography

If you hold white privilege, it’s your responsibility to challenge bigoted relatives

We often reunite with loved ones and relatives in the holiday season, which can bring  connection, joy and, sometimes, awkward family dynamics. If you end up seated next to your casually racist uncle, sure – it’s easy to play nice if he cracks inappropriate jokes, but if you hold white privilege, it’s actually your responsibility to challenge him, along with any other bigoted relatives in earshot. To help you approach and navigate these interactions, we’ve collected a few resources we found helpful that you should definitely consume before Christmas lunch!

Full piece: Nova Reid for Restless Network. Or listen: First Name Basis Podcast


Japanese snowboarding star Ayumu Hirano has made history – not by winning an event at the Dew Tour in Colorado, but by landing the first ever in-competition triple cork 1440. You don’t even need to know what that trick entails to understand that it’s impressive, but for the record, it’s four full rotations and three off-axis flips. Phwoar! 🏂
After opening its borders to dozens of nations in November, Thailand is contemplating reinstating mandatory quarantine for visitors to stem the spread of Omicron, with the country reporting its first case of the variant earlier this week.
Utah’s famous Arches National Park – the 76,000-acre dreamscape that looks like Mars – is introducing a timed entry system to combat overtourism. In a statement released earlier this month, park superintendent Patricia Trapp said the goal is to reduce traffic congestion and visitor crowding, which we reckon is a solid way of ensuring that everyone’s experience in the park is maximised. 🥾

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