A California man died while snorkeling at Black Rock Beach

A 45-year-old man from California drowned while snorkeling near Hawaii’s famous, unattended Black Rock Beach on Monday evening, KITV4 reported. 

According to Hawaii News Now, the Maui Police Department identified the man as Tommy Cheng of Diamond Bar. The outlet says that bystanders saw Cheng face down in the water before pulling him out onto nearby rocks. By the the time first responders arrived, he was unresponsive and didn’t have a pulse. While the incident is still under investigation, KITV4 reported it appears as though Cheng drowned. Authorities say that he didn’t show any signs of bodily trauma, and ocean waters were rough in the Black Rock Beach area at the time of his death. 

Cheng’s death is not the first by the “evocative” Puu Kekaa lava landmark, which has also been referred to as the drowning capital in Hawaii.  

While locals are well aware of the beach’s strong currents, some visitors have tragically been taken by surprise. Earlier in 2022, Maui News reported that another 52-year-old California man drowned in the Black Rock area. A drowning and aquatic injury trends report from the Hawaii State Department of Health says that from 2009-2018, ocean drownings were the leading cause of fatal injuries among tourists. Snorkling is the leading cause of those drownings.  

Maui, which has earned the morbid title as the island with the most snorkler drownings, has had 94 deaths, while Oahu has had 70 within that same timeframe. Black Rock, also known as Puu Kekaa, had 18 visitor deaths in the injury trends report, the most out of any beach on the island. 

According to the same injuries report, snorkling deaths throughout Hawaii are steadily rising, and officials believe that increasing tourism — along with the accessibility of snorkling — is what makes it a fatal activity. “You don’t need a lot of equipment,” Daniel Galanis, injury epidemiologist for the Hawaii State Department of Health, told SFGATE in March, “and the equipment you do need can be purchased for $20 to $30 bucks, and then you just get yourself to a beach and walk into the water.” 


Maui County’s ocean safety tips are as follows:

-If you are unable to swim out of a strong current, signal for help
-Rely on your swimming ability rather than a flotation device
-Look for, read and obey all beach and safety signs
-Protect the environment. Refrain from touching all reefs. Help keep the beaches clean and Hawaii beautiful.
-If in doubt, don’t go out!
-Swim in lifeguarded areas
-Never swim alone
-Do not dive into unknown water or into shallow breaking waves
-Do not attempt to dive over large waves
-Ask a lifeguard about beach and surf safety before swimming

The Maui Fire Department and the mayor’s communications office did not respond to SFGATE’s request for comment. 

Hawaii contributing editor Christine Hitt contributed to this report. 

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The 40 UK travel experiences to try before you turn 40, with stargazing in Northumberland No.1

The top 40 UK travel experiences to try before you turn 40 have been revealed – and it’s a night spent stargazing in the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park that takes the top spot.

The silver medal goes to a road trip on Scotland’s North Coast 500 scenic route, stopping off along the way to admire spectacular wildlife, landscapes, and landmarks such as the imposing Dunrobin Castle.

In third place it’s a visit to Birmingham’s Balti Triangle, the culinary birthplace of the famous ‘Balti’ curry, for a uniquely British-Asian foodie experience.

The top 40 UK travel experiences to try before you turn 40 have been revealed – and it’s a night spent stargazing in Northumberland that takes the top spot. Pictured is the night sky over Northumberland's Sycamore Gap Tree

The top 40 UK travel experiences to try before you turn 40 have been revealed – and it’s a night spent stargazing in Northumberland that takes the top spot. Pictured is the night sky over Northumberland’s Sycamore Gap Tree

The silver medal goes to a road trip on Scotland’s North Coast 500 scenic route. Above is the Kylesku Bridge, which features on the route

The silver medal goes to a road trip on Scotland’s North Coast 500 scenic route. Above is the Kylesku Bridge, which features on the route

The rest of the top five comprises a staycation on a canal boat, exploring the UK’s 2,000 miles of canals and rivers (fourth), and learning bushcraft (skills for surviving in a natural environment) on a wilderness course in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District (fifth).

The ranking is courtesy of research commissioned by NatWest. It polled 2,000 Britons aged 18 to 40 who chose their favourite travel experiences from a shortlist compiled by a group of travel experts.

The survey also finds that 84 per cent of the nation admit there are many places they have ‘yet to explore’ in the UK, with 56 per cent keen to rectify this before they reach the big 4-0.

THE TOP 40 UK TRAVEL EXPERIENCES TO TRY BEFORE YOU TURN 40, FROM GIN TOURS TO SANDBOARDING

 1. Stay the night at the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park and stargaze into the darkest skies in England  

2. Take the ultimate road trip on Scotland’s North Coast 500 and see spectacular wildlife, landscape and imposing Dunrobin Castle

3. Travel to Birmingham’s Balti Triangle, the culinary birthplace of the famous ‘Balti’, for a uniquely British-Asian foodie experience

4. Explore the UK’s 2,000 miles of canals and rivers with a staycation on a canal boat

5. Learn bushcraft and survival skills on a wilderness course in the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District

6. Go seal spotting for common and grey seals at Blakeney Point Nature Reserve

7. Bask in the early morning sunshine on the golden sands of Porthcurno Beach after an overnight stay in Cornwall

8. Savour world-class English wines and book a vineyard tour in Kent

9. Explore the Puzzlewood in the Forest Of Dean, the landscape that inspired Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’

10. Climb the basalt steps of the Giant’s Causeway in Country Antrim, Northern Ireland

11. Swim in the crystal-clear waters of Pentle Bay, Tresco, and stay by the white sandy shores on the Isles of Scilly

12. Go hiking in the vast, wild Epping Forest, Essex, and get back to nature in a camping pod

13. Take a stroll round the picturesque and colourful Italian-style village of Portmeirion, Wales

14. Watch the headline act at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset

15. Hire a traditional punt and sail under the Bridge of Sighs on the River Cam, Cambridge

16. Visit the Turner Contemporary Gallery in the trendy and kitsch seaside town of Margate, Kent

17. Enjoy nature with a touch of luxury whilst glamping in the New Forest

18. Hike up Mount Snowdon in the Snowdonia National Park, Wales – the highest mountain in England and Wales

19. Taste-test a cream tea from Devon and neighbouring Cornwall and decide which is best!

20. Sandboard down ‘The Big Dipper’, Europe’s second-largest sand dune, in Merthyr Mawr, Wales

21. Visit Devon and Dorset’s stunning Jurassic Coast to discover prehistoric fossils

22. Tour a former mine 300ft underground at the Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon, Wales

23. Breathe in the fresh sea air during a coastal hike along the Seven Sisters, Sussex

24. Take a scenic drive from Glasgow to Fort William up the A82 for peak Scottish views

25. Cycle along a former railway line, the Tissington trail, in the Peak District

26. Join the parade at Notting Hill Carnival in London, celebrating the UK’s Caribbean history

27. Get a taste of the upper class and visit the real Downton Abbey; Highclere Castle in Hampshire

28. Take a trip to Windsor Castle, Berkshire, and see one of Her Majesty’s residences

29. Book tickets to explore the magnificent palace, park and gardens at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

30. Go on a whiskey tasting tour at a Scottish distillery in Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland or Speyside, in Scotland

31. Relive history by walking the 5000-year-old Neolithic Ridgeway in Oxfordshire, the oldest road in England

32. Hire a kayak off the beautiful beaches of the Isle of Lewis in Scotland

33. Book a walking gin tour through the iconic pubs and artisan distilleries in Belfast

34. Party in an old brick warehouse in the Baltic Triangle; the thriving cultural hub of Liverpool

35. Take a trip to Manchester and dance the night away in one of the many gay bars lining Canal Street

36. Join the lively London Pride parade as it goes through London

37. Experience the history of the Thames at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London

38. Travel on the oldest, steepest inland electric funicular railway in England on the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway

39. Get an adrenaline rush whilst coasteering cliffs, caves and rockpools in Pembrokeshire

40. Go surfing on the 19 miles of coastline in North Devon

Source: NatWest

 

The bronze medal goes to a visit to Birmingham’s Balti Triangle, the birthplace of the famous ‘Balti’ curry (above)

The bronze medal goes to a visit to Birmingham’s Balti Triangle, the birthplace of the famous ‘Balti’ curry (above)

Sliding into sixth place in the top 40 ranking is a seal-spotting trip to Blakeney Point Nature Reserve on the north coast of Norfolk, which is home to common and grey seals.

Seventh place in the ranking is basking in the early morning sunshine on the golden sands of Porthcurno Beach after an overnight stay in Cornwall. It’s followed by savouring world-class English wines on a vineyard tour in Kent (eighth).

The remainder of the top 10 is made up of exploring the Puzzlewood woodland in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean, the landscape that inspired J.R.R Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’ (ninth) and climbing the basalt steps of the Giant’s Causeway in Country Antrim, Northern Ireland (10th). 

A staycation on a canal boat, exploring the UK’s 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, ranks fourth. Above is a stretch of canal in Oxford

A staycation on a canal boat, exploring the UK’s 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, ranks fourth. Above is a stretch of canal in Oxford 

The ranking has been determined by a survey that asked Britons to choose their favourite travel experiences from a shortlist

The ranking has been determined by a survey that asked Britons to choose their favourite travel experiences from a shortlist

Other notable inclusions in the top 40 include taking a stroll around the picturesque and colourful Italian-style village of Portmeirion, Wales (13th), sandboarding down Europe’s second-largest sand dune – ‘The Big Dipper’ – in Merthyr Mawr, Wales (20th), and cycling along a former railway line, the Tissington trail, in the Peak District (25th).

Reliving history by walking the 5,000-year-old Neolithic Ridgeway in Oxfordshire, the oldest road in England (31st) and dancing the night away in one of the many gay bars lining Manchester’s Canal Street (35th) also make it into the top 40.

The study also finds that the key motivation for wanting to travel the UK is that Brits simply enjoy being outdoors (40 per cent), while a quarter want to explore destinations to tick them off their bucket list, and 22 per cent are keen on learning something new from their adventures. 

Exploring the Puzzlewood woodland (above) in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean lands in ninth place

Exploring the Puzzlewood woodland (above) in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean lands in ninth place 

Twenty-second place goes to touring a former mine 300ft underground at the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon, Wales (pictured)

Twenty-second place goes to touring a former mine 300ft underground at the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon, Wales (pictured) 

But finances are a top barrier for Brits to make their travel dreams a reality, with 34 per cent of adults saying the cost is the key issue when choosing their travel experiences, as well as lack of transport (26 per cent), inconsistent weather (20 per cent) and being too busy (18 per cent).

As a result, a quarter admit they often end up travelling abroad as it is more affordable, while 29 per cent think it is more relaxing to leave the UK.

Despite the popularity of going abroad, 49 per cent will still consider booking a trip at home while saving money – with 53 per cent considering a staycation as good value. 

Pictured is the Tissington trail, a former railway line in the Peak District. Cycling along this route lands 25th in the ranking

Pictured is the Tissington trail, a former railway line in the Peak District. Cycling along this route lands 25th in the ranking

Dancing the night away in one of the many gay bars lining Manchester's Canal Street (pictured) finishes 35th

Dancing the night away in one of the many gay bars lining Manchester’s Canal Street (pictured) finishes 35th 

Travelling on the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway, the oldest, steepest inland electric funicular railway in England, ranks 38th overall

Travelling on the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway, the oldest, steepest inland electric funicular railway in England, ranks 38th overall

It also emerges that 53 per cent of those polled feel they have missed out on travel experiences due to financial problems.

Commenting on the findings, travel writer Lisa Francesca Nand, a member of the expert panel, says: ‘A life well lived is a life filled with experiences. Now more than ever, we’re all looking to invest in moments to create brilliant memories either solo or with friends and family, and travel is a key part of that – whether it’s getting back to nature, seeing amazing architecture, learning about new culture and history or just going on a fantastic road trip.’

NatWest’s Martin Wise adds: ‘The research shows many of us have yet to see what the UK truly has to offer, with finances being a key factor in how often they book a trip away and how far they are willing to travel.’

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A review by the Inspector of London’s Hotel Amano, the first UK outpost of the trendy German brand

The Inspector calls at the first UK outpost of the trendy German Amano hotel brand, complete with gold tubs in rooms and a rooftop bar… and says it’s a ‘welcome addition to London’

  • The hotel is set in what used to be a 1980s office building near Covent Garden
  • The Inspector pays £380 for a ‘Goldy Room’ which is decorated in grey and gold
  • ‘Terrific’ views over London’s West End can be enjoyed from the rooftop bar 
  • Remember, the Inspector pays his way… and tells it like it is

Amano is a trendy and well-known brand in Germany, with no fewer than seven hotels in Berlin alone, which may explain why several of the guests during my stay in London are German-speaking, all of them polite as we chit-chat while waiting for the lifts.

‘Sophisticated urban living in a central location at a fair price’ is how the group’s first UK outpost bills itself. You can argue about price, but the central location boast is spot-on, with Covent Garden market only 100 yards away, Drury Lane just around the corner.

I’m paying £380 for one of the ‘Goldy Rooms’ — so named because there’s a gold-coloured, free-standing tub in the corner of the bathroom.

The Inspector checks into the Hotel Amano, the first UK outpost of the trendy German Amano brand. Above is the bathroom in his room - the 'Goldy' room

The Inspector checks into the Hotel Amano, the first UK outpost of the trendy German Amano brand. Above is the bathroom in his room – the ‘Goldy’ room 

London's Covent Garden market is only 100 yards away from the hotel (above)

London’s Covent Garden market is only 100 yards away from the hotel (above) 

It offers a splash of colour in an otherwise dark and moody confection, with grey walls and headboard on the bed — but not quite as dark and moody as the corridors here, in what used to be a 1980s office building.

One of Hotel Amano’s big talking points is the rooftop bar on the seventh floor, with terrific views over the West End, the London Eye and the Shard.

Book a ‘Goldy’ room and you’re offered a free cocktail or equivalent in this delightful space, which is open to the elements but still feels intimate, with a row of colourful banquettes and another of high stools and small, round tables.

Pictured is one of the hotel's 'Roomy' guest rooms. ‘Sophisticated urban living in a central location at a fair price’ is how the hotel bills itself, the Inspector reveals

Pictured is one of the hotel’s ‘Roomy’ guest rooms. ‘Sophisticated urban living in a central location at a fair price’ is how the hotel bills itself, the Inspector reveals 

One of Hotel Amano’s big talking points is the rooftop bar on the seventh floor (pictured), where guests of 'Goldy' rooms can enjoy a free cocktail

One of Hotel Amano’s big talking points is the rooftop bar on the seventh floor (pictured), where guests of ‘Goldy’ rooms can enjoy a free cocktail 

The rooftop bar (above) offers 'terrific' views over the West End, the London Eye and The Shard

The rooftop bar (above) offers ‘terrific’ views over the West End, the London Eye and The Shard

Staff are all on their best behaviour. At one point, I have a problem with the TV and, within minutes, Joshua appears from reception to fix it.

Currently, there’s no restaurant but an Israeli chef is about to be appointed and the dining room — opening in the autumn — will be on the ground floor.

For now, Continental breakfasts are served in the basement, which doubles as a super-modern bar.

Above is the hotel bar. 'It has a distinctly international vibe,' the Inspector says of the new hotel

Above is the hotel bar. ‘It has a distinctly international vibe,’ the Inspector says of the new hotel

The Inspector says that Hotel Amano is a 'welcome addition to the capital’s hotel scene'

The Inspector says that Hotel Amano is a ‘welcome addition to the capital’s hotel scene’

Even though Amano has been open for only three weeks, there is already a confidence about the place.

It has a distinctly international vibe and, evidently, a loyal following.

A welcome addition to the capital’s hotel scene.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Hotel Amano, Drury House, 34-43 Russell Street, London, WC2B 5HA.

Doubles are priced from £246 B&B.

For more information, call 020 3739 8900 or visit amanogroup.de/en

Rating:

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Delta offers free flight changes over July Fourth weekend

An Airbus A330-323 aircraft, operated by Delta Air Lines.

Benoit Tessier | Reuters

Delta Air Lines is allowing travelers to change their tickets for free during the busy Fourth of July weekend, allowing fliers to avoid paying a fare difference and skip the airport during a “potentially challenging” few days.

The unusual offer, normally extended for bad weather and limited to certain airports, comes as Delta and other airlines gear up for what could be the busiest travel period since before the Covid pandemic and scramble to keep a lid on elevated rates of flight delays and cancellations.

Delta travelers booked July 1-4 can rebook their trip with no change fee or difference in fare — provided they keep the same origin and destination and take a new trip by July 8.

The offer applies to all ticket classes, including no-frills basic economy.

“Delta people are working around the clock to rebuild Delta’s operation while making it as resilient as possible to minimize the ripple effect of disruptions,” the carrier said late Tuesday. “Even so, some operational challenges are expected this holiday weekend. This unique waiver is being issued to give Delta customers greater flexibility to plan around busy travel times, weather forecasts and other variables without worrying about a potential cost to do so.”

Delta last month said it would cut about 100 flights a day from its schedule in July and part of August. United Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Alaska Airlines have also trimmed their schedules in hopes of improving reliability.

Airlines have blamed the issues on bad weather, such as thunderstorms, and staffing shortfalls of air traffic controllers, though carriers have also been aggressively staffing up.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation have blamed airlines’ planning for some of the delays and cancellations, criticizing the companies for encouraging employees to take early retirement during the pandemic despite $54 billion in taxpayer aid set aside for payrolls.

“A lot of people, including me, are expecting to get to loved ones over this holiday weekend and we need a system that’s resilient enough to get them there, plus good customer service when an issue does come up,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an interview with NBC’s “Nightly News” that aired Tuesday.

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Over 1M to hit the road for holiday as Turkey extends Eid break

Cities and coastal resorts in Turkey are gearing up for an influx of travelers now that Turkey has extended the upcoming religious holiday, in a fresh boost for the crucial tourism industry.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday said the four-day Qurban Bayram holiday, also known as Eid al-Adha, will be linked with July 15 Democracy and National Unity Day. The break will thus last from July 9 through July 17.

Over 1 million people are expected to take a vacation during the break, according to Turkey Travel Agencies Association (TÜRSAB), not to mention millions that usually hit the road each year to visit their relatives for the religious holiday.

“We expect vitality in the demand of both domestic and foreign tourists during the Eid period,” said Müberra Eresin, head of Turkey Hoteliers Union. (TÜROB).

“There is a noteworthy domestic and foreign demand at resorts, while there will be an intensity in terms of foreign visitors in Istanbul hotels,” Eresin told Anadolu Agency (AA).

She particularly stressed the increase in arrivals from the Middle East and Gulf countries, as well as Europe, including Germany and the U.K., and the U.S. and Latin America. Eresin said accommodation facilities in the Turkish metropolis are estimated to be up to 90% full during the Eid holiday.

“We anticipate that about 1 million people will go on vacation this holiday through our agents. When we add those who visit their families to this figure, the number increases much more,” TÜRSAB said in a statement.

Bookings are particularly high for the Aegean resorts, including Bodrum, Kuşadası, Fethiye and Marmaris, the association said. The same goes for the Mediterranean region, spearheaded by Kemer, Alanya, Belek and Lara.

Foreign arrivals in Turkey from January through May this year have leaped by over 207% to more than 11.3 million, according to official data.

The number of foreign visitors soared 94.1% to 24.71 million and revenues doubled to almost $25 billion last year when COVID-19 measures were eased compared to 2020.

Officials hope tourism this year could replicate or exceed the numbers from 2019 when some 52 million visitors brought in $34 billion in revenue.

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Pictured: A monster £4.3million SIX-WHEEL off-road Rolls-Royce Phantom

Pictured: A monster £4.3million SIX-WHEEL off-road Rolls-Royce Phantom with crocodile leather steering wheel and gold-plated brakes

  • The outrageous car – most of which is a 2005 Phantom – was built by Danton Arts Kustoms
  • The workshop is run by Frenchman Alexandre Danton, who hopes to sell his creation for five million euros 
  • Danton extended the Phantom using the shell and rear axle of a 2005 BMW seven series 

Advertisement

Rolls-Royce purists, look away now.

A monster matt-black Rolls-Royce Phantom with six wheels has been unveiled by a custom car workshop, which also added a bullbar, gold-plated brakes and a crocodile leather steering wheel.

The outrageous car – most of which is a 2005 Phantom – was built by Danton Arts Kustoms, run by Frenchman Alexandre Danton. He hopes to sell his creation for five million euros (£4.3million/$5.2million).

A monster matt-black Rolls-Royce Phantom with six wheels has been unveiled by Danton Arts Kustoms, run by Frenchman Alexandre Danton. The outrageous car his pictured here outside Danton's chateau in France

A monster matt-black Rolls-Royce Phantom with six wheels has been unveiled by Danton Arts Kustoms, run by Frenchman Alexandre Danton. The outrageous car his pictured here outside Danton’s chateau in France

On the outside extras include a roof rack with a yellow light bar and extra side steps

On the outside extras include a roof rack with a yellow light bar and extra side steps

Danton spent three months on the build, which involved extending the Phantom using the shell and rear axle of a 2005 BMW seven series, the latter accommodating the extra wheels.

On the outside, other extras include a roof rack with a yellow light bar and extra side steps.

Umbrellas are cleverly hidden in the rear door frames and inside is the original 2005 Phantom interior. Mostly.

Danton spent three months on the build, which involved extending the Phantom using the shell and rear axle of a 2005 BMW seven series, the latter accommodating the extra wheels

Danton spent three months on the build, which involved extending the Phantom using the shell and rear axle of a 2005 BMW seven series, the latter accommodating the extra wheels

Umbrellas are cleverly hidden in the rear door frames and inside is the original 2005 Phantom interior. Mostly...

Umbrellas are cleverly hidden in the rear door frames and inside is the original 2005 Phantom interior. Mostly…

Danton posted a picture of the six-wheel Phantom to Instagram with a caption that read: ¿Do you like six wheels? I do.' His next project is rumoured to be a six-wheel Lamborghini Urus

Danton posted a picture of the six-wheel Phantom to Instagram with a caption that read: ‘Do you like six wheels? I do.’ His next project is rumoured to be a six-wheel Lamborghini Urus

The seats have been re-leathered and Danton has added 90s-style aircraft entertainment screens for passengers in the back to enjoy.

In between the front seats, meanwhile, is an armrest covered in snakeskin.

And under the hood? The original V12 6.7-litre Phantom engine, developing 453 horsepower.

Danton, who is from Lyon, posted a picture of the six-wheel Phantom to Instagram with a caption that read: ‘Do you like six wheels? I do.’

He makes his custom cars in a garage beneath his magnificent house in Ardeche, south-eastern France – Chateau de Gerlande. 

His next project is rumoured to be a six-wheel Lamborghini Urus.


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Retirees traveling check Medicare coverage to avoid costly surprises

Tom Merton | Getty Images

If you’re a retiree on Medicare and feel the itch to travel, be sure you know whether your insurance plan can go with you.

Whether you want to hit the road for a U.S.-based trip or head overseas, coverage at your destination hinges on the specifics of your Medicare plan. The nature of your care — routine or emergency — also may play a role.

Just over a quarter of Americans (28%) say they’ve fallen ill or been hurt while vacationing, according to a recent study from personal finance website ValuePenguin. Among that group, bacterial or food-borne illnesses were most common (33%), followed by respiratory illnesses (28%) and bodily injuries (24%). Additionally, 12% of them said they contracted Covid while on vacation.

More from Personal Finance:
100 million U.S. adults have health care debt, research shows
Cost to finance a new car hits a record $656 per month
Some medical debt will soon disappear from credit reports

In other words, it’s worth knowing what to expect from your Medicare coverage so there are no surprises if you need to visit a doctor or other health-care provider while away from home.

With basic Medicare, U.S. travel is straightforward

Basic Medicare is Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B (outpatient care). Beneficiaries who choose to stick with that coverage — instead of going with an Advantage Plan — typically pair it with a stand-alone prescription-drug plan (Part D).

If this is your situation, coverage while traveling in the U.S. and its territories is fairly straightforward: You can go to any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare (most do), whether for routine care or an emergency. It’s when you venture beyond U.S. borders that things get trickier.

Basic Medicare does not cover travel outside the U.S. except in limited circumstances. Those exceptions include when you’re on a ship within the territorial waters adjoining the country — within six hours of a U.S. port — or you’re traveling from state to state but the closest hospital to treat you is in a foreign country (i.e., you’re in Canada while heading to Alaska from the 48 contiguous states).

Also be aware that Part D plans won’t cover medications filled outside the U.S., said Elizabeth Gavino,  founder of Lewin & Gavino and an independent broker and general agent for Medicare plans.

“Be sure to bring enough medication with you,” she said.

A Medigap policy might help abroad

If you have a supplement policy — aka “Medigap” — alongside basic Medicare, it could give you some coverage abroad.

Those policies, which are generally standardized across states, offer some coverage for the cost-sharing that goes with basic Medicare, such as copays and co-insurance. 

Some Medigap policies include some coverage outside the U.S. Plans C, D, F, G, M and N have up to $50,000 lifetime maximum benefits, with the beneficiary paying 20% of costs after a $250 deductible, and you are covered only for the first 60 days of your trip. 

This coverage applies only to medically necessary emergency care and there may be other restrictions, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Some older Medigap policies that beneficiaries still have — E, H, I and J — also come with travel coverage abroad, Gavino said.

Be aware that Medigap plans come with their own rules for enrolling, and policies can be pricey depending on where you live, your age and other factors. For example, for a 65-year-old female, the least expensive Plan G policy in Dallas runs just under $100 monthly compared with about $278 in New York, according to the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance.

Check coverage details on Advantage Plans

For beneficiaries who get their Medicare benefits — Parts A, B and typically D — through an Advantage Plan, it’s worth checking to see if your plan is among those that include coverage for emergencies abroad.

And even if you aren’t planning to leave U.S. soil, you should see what your plan would cover. While Advantage Plans are required to cover your emergency care anywhere in the U.S., you may be on the hook for routine care outside of their service area. 

“With a traditional HMO plan, when you travel outside the network, you have emergency coverage only,” said Danielle Roberts, co-founder of insurance firm Boomer Benefits.

“With a PPO, you have both coverage for emergencies and out-of-network coverage for non-emergencies [but] will pay more for these out of network services,” Roberts said.

There also are hybrid plans that may allow limited out-of-network treatment under certain circumstances, she said.

It’s possible that your Advantage Plan will disenroll you if you remain outside of their service area for a certain length of time — typically six months. In that situation, you’d be switched to basic Medicare.

Important tips for traveling overseas

If you do have some coverage overseas, you may need to pay out of pocket and be reimbursed, Gavino said.

“Foreign hospitals will not file a Medicare claim for you,” Gavino said. “Get an itemized bill to submit for reimbursement from your plan.”

Additionally, depending on your overseas coverage and your level of comfortability with it, you may want to purchase a travel medical plan.

Foreign hospitals will not file a Medicare claim for you.

Elizabeth Gavino

Founder of Lewin & Gavino

Such options are priced based on factors including your age, and the length of the coverage. You can get coverage for a single trip of a couple weeks or several months, or get a multi-trip policy, which could cover a longer period.

The plans typically come with a deductible — say, $250 or more — and coverage could range from about $50,000 in maximum benefits to upwards of $1 million or more. Policies average between $40 and $80, although higher coverage limits and longer coverage terms typically increase the cost, according to insurance company Travelers.

“Be sure to find out if the plan covers pre-existing conditions and Covid,” Gavino said.

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40 Travel Products To Take On Your Next Summer Trip

Anne Cate is a Cleveland-based, woman-owned small business creating minimalist keepsakes to commemorate your favorite locations, with over 100 hand-designed skylines depicting cities and colleges from around the world!

What you’ll get: Inside your mini wallet, you’ll find a hair tie, lip balm, two floss pics, sewing kit, bandage, emery board, two safety pins, two earring backs, makeup wipe, two bobby pins, two mints, deodorant wipe, Shout wipe, tampon, hand sanitizer, and pain reliever.

I, your resident forgetful person, bought the NYC skyline version of this to toss in my purse or work tote whenever I got out. It’s filled with a bunch of easy-to-forget bits and bobs that will (and have) saved the day in a pinch, all pre-packaged in a stylish and high-quality wallet. It’s my perfect little SOS kit. 

Get it from Anne Cate for $25 (available in 97 styles).

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Dublin and that Irish craic: Time to join in on the fun

A buzz, an atmosphere, the fun: there are several ways to describe the “craic” — the perfect word to sum up the energy right now in Ireland’s capital city.
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The joys of Norway in the summer, from epic fjords to beaches that feel like the coast of Australia

Norway must be the most outdoorsy country on Earth. In winter, everyone is out on their cross-country skis; in summer, it’s cycling, hiking, surfing, sunbathing, practising cross-country skiing or, well, just being outside.

That’s true whatever the weather — which is just as well, as Stavanger, on the west coast, can get drizzly in summer. This is where Spain’s Torremolinos wins out for a lot of people.

But, given a choice between 16C (61F) and drizzle on Stavanger’s Sola beach and 45C-plus in Andalucia — temperatures that are no longer out of the ordinary — there are lots of us who would take Norway any day.

High life: Mark Jones explores Norway's west coast, which is home to one of the country's 'most majestic sites' - Pulpit Rock (pictured), a rocky perch 600 metres above Lysefjord

High life: Mark Jones explores Norway’s west coast, which is home to one of the country’s ‘most majestic sites’ – Pulpit Rock (pictured), a rocky perch 600 metres above Lysefjord

Mark, who has been holidaying in Norway for the past 25 years, visits the oil city of Stavanger in the south-west of the country (above) for the first time

Mark, who has been holidaying in Norway for the past 25 years, visits the oil city of Stavanger in the south-west of the country (above) for the first time

Mark has previously spent New Year¿s Eve on Tromso, pictured. 'Norwegians might seem introverted to visitors, but they love company, family and togetherness,' he observes

Mark has previously spent New Year’s Eve on Tromso, pictured. ‘Norwegians might seem introverted to visitors, but they love company, family and togetherness,’ he observes 

I’ve been visiting this spectacular country (population 5.4 million) for 25 years: to the Arctic peninsula of Svalbard and the magical Lofoten islands in midsummer; for New Year’s Eve on Tromso and Utsira (of shipping forecast fame).

I’ve slept in a pepper-pot lighthouse in the harbour of Alesund, hiked above the towns of Bergen and the Voss, taken the scenic railway to Flam and spent a few nights in the funkier parts of Oslo.

But this is my first time in the oil city of Stavanger in the south-west of the country. Maybe the clue is in those words ‘oil city’. It conjures up images of Houston. Or Canvey Island.

Shame on me. The beach here has tufty dunes, one and a half miles of clean, pale sand and a handful of bathers not finding social distancing an issue. You feel as if you have landed in a remote corner of Australia without the bother of a 24-hour flight. The cheerful, white‑walled Sola Strand spa hotel has been welcoming beach lovers and health enthusiasts since 1914.

Do what everyone should do as soon as you land in Norway: order a cold bottle of local pilsner beer and a hot bowl of fish soup.

Stavanger¿s Sola beach, pictured, has tufty dunes, one and a half miles of clean, pale sand

Stavanger’s Sola beach, pictured, has tufty dunes, one and a half miles of clean, pale sand 

A room inside the cheerful, white¿walled Sola Strand spa hotel, which has been welcoming beach lovers and health enthusiasts since 1914

A room inside the cheerful, white‑walled Sola Strand spa hotel, which has been welcoming beach lovers and health enthusiasts since 1914

A spa treatment table with a view at Sola Strand spa hotel. Of the beach, Mark writes: 'You feel as if you have landed in a remote corner of Australia without the bother of a 24-hour flight'

A spa treatment table with a view at Sola Strand spa hotel. Of the beach, Mark writes: ‘You feel as if you have landed in a remote corner of Australia without the bother of a 24-hour flight’ 

Mark recommends spending a few nights 'in the funkier parts of Oslo' - which he describes as a 'proper city'

Mark recommends spending a few nights ‘in the funkier parts of Oslo’ – which he describes as a ‘proper city’

Taking the scenic railway to Flam, pictured, is among the highlights of Mark's many trips to Norway

Taking the scenic railway to Flam, pictured, is among the highlights of Mark’s many trips to Norway 

The only sound is the helicopter ferrying oil workers to their distant rigs. And the only thing to disturb the view is a leathery old chap standing in the dunes clad in budgie smugglers.

He seems keen to share his physique, especially the back half. I’m pretty certain there’s a law in Norway that says the older you are, the fewer clothes you have to wear.

Still, he is undoubtedly the picture of health and a fitting ambassador for his country.

What’s more, Stavanger turns out to be an archetypically sweet, calm, clean, cobbled Norwegian town. Oslo is a proper city, but the rest, including the second biggest, Bergen, are low-rise and low-energy gateways to the country beyond.

Mark describes the city of Bergen, pictured, as a low-rise and low-energy 'gateway to the country beyond'

Mark describes the city of Bergen, pictured, as a low-rise and low-energy ‘gateway to the country beyond’

Alesund to the north of Norway (pictured) - another place that Mark has visited - was rebuilt in Art Nouveau style after a catastrophic fire in 1904

Alesund to the north of Norway (pictured) – another place that Mark has visited – was rebuilt in Art Nouveau style after a catastrophic fire in 1904 

Stavanger, the third biggest municipality, has retained its classic wooden houses, unlike Alesund to the north, which was rebuilt in Art Nouveau style after a catastrophic fire in 1904.

I am admiring the oldest of the houses when my guide, Lars, pulls me back on to the pavement. A huge Audi 4×4 coasts past, making as much noise as the average pram. They are into their electric cars in Stavanger.

My irony metre twitches into life. It does again when they apologise that the electric boat that travels along the fjords is out of service.

This, lest we forget, is the oil capital of the North Sea.

'Stavanger (pictured) turns out to be an archetypically sweet, calm, clean, cobbled Norwegian town,' writes Mark

‘Stavanger (pictured) turns out to be an archetypically sweet, calm, clean, cobbled Norwegian town,’ writes Mark 

Unlike other parts of Norway, Stavanger has retained its classic wooden houses, Mark reveals. Above is a street in Gamle Stavanger, the city's historic centre

Unlike other parts of Norway, Stavanger has retained its classic wooden houses, Mark reveals. Above is a street in Gamle Stavanger, the city’s historic centre 

Mark tours the 'brilliant' Petroleum Museum in Stavanger, pictured, which celebrates the 'technological feats that brought the black gold to shore' in Norway

Mark tours the ‘brilliant’ Petroleum Museum in Stavanger, pictured, which celebrates the ‘technological feats that brought the black gold to shore’ in Norway

GOOD TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO  

  • In AD872, Viking king Harald Fairhair wins the Battle of Hafrsfjord and unites Norway. His exploits are brought to life by virtual reality in Stavanger’s Viking Museum.
  • Fast-forward to 1828: dramatist Henrik Ibsen is born in Telemark. Fifteen years later, the romantic composer Edvard Grieg is born in Bergen.
  • In 1905, having effectively been part of first Denmark and then Sweden, Norway becomes a properly independent country. The EU wants them to join the club. But in both 1972 and 1994, the Norwegians vote ‘nei’.
  • In 1981 Norway’s footballers beat England 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier. ‘Your boys took a hell of a beating’, says commentator Bjorge Lillelien.
  • In 2017 Norway is named the happiest country in the world by a United Nations agency report.

 

Wealth in Norway moves as stealthily and discreetly as that Audi. It has been called the one country that has avoided the curse of oil — the corruption, the bling, the way it distorts economies and a country’s culture. Everyone can go online and see each other’s tax returns.

The story of Norway’s oil boom was brought to life in the recent BBC series State Of Happiness — and in the brilliant Petroleum Museum in Stavanger.

No, my heart didn’t leap at the thought of visiting a museum about oil. But it’s gripping stuff. The exhibits celebrate the technological feats that brought the black gold to shore — and agonise over the effect that has had on the planet. Very Norwegian, that.

Norway came to oil late. The first big confirmed find wasn’t until 1969. It had plenty of time to see others get it wrong.

I meet Ingrid, a 27-year-old woman from Stavanger who lives in London’s Notting Hill. She had just made her first trip home since lockdown.

‘Norwegians and the government are on the same page when it comes to spending this money, creating less corruption, less conflict,’ she says. ‘The wealth we get from oil is for the future generations as well.’

After oil was found, Norway set ten commandments for coping with a discovery that would transform its relatively poor, agricultural society. One was that the oil money should be used to ‘develop new industry’.

Down the coast at Borestranda you can see how some of the money has trickled through. It’s an even better beach than Sola — higher and tuftier dunes, a wider expanse of sand, fewer people enjoying it. This is Scandinavia: even the shower block in the car park looks as if it has won major design awards.

It’s a short walk to Boretunet ‘Tiny Houses’ — a hostel and surf school made out of old wooden shipping containers. It looks a lot slicker than it sounds, although the interiors take their design inspiration from the average teenager’s bedroom.

Owner Per Arne Zahl is another good advertisement for the Norwegian way. With his dreadlocks and unlined, tanned face, he looks like he’s on his university gap year. In fact, he’s 38, having spent his working life as a rope technician dangling from oil rigs and construction sites.

One of the 'Tiny Houses' at Boretunet, a hostel and surf school that opened in November 2019

One of the ‘Tiny Houses’ at Boretunet, a hostel and surf school that opened in November 2019 

Mark says that Per Arne Zahl, who runs Boretunet, is a 'good advertisement for the Norwegian way'. 'With his dreadlocks and unlined, tanned face, he looks like he¿s on his university gap year,' he writes. Above is a bedroom in a 'Tiny House'

Mark says that Per Arne Zahl, who runs Boretunet, is a ‘good advertisement for the Norwegian way’. ‘With his dreadlocks and unlined, tanned face, he looks like he’s on his university gap year,’ he writes. Above is a bedroom in a ‘Tiny House’

The 'Tiny Houses' at Boretunet are made out of old wooden shipping containers

The ‘Tiny Houses’ at Boretunet are made out of old wooden shipping containers

Now he’s trying to find a balance between that life and sharing his passion for surfing, kite-surfing, windsailing and anything fun you can do on a beach.

He opened in November 2019: terrible timing. But the banks and the State, backed by that oil dividend, will continue to support businesses like Boretunet.

It will be a good investment. We’re in the Jaeren region here — the ‘open land’: mile after mile of grazing, white beaches and quiet roads punctuated with red-roofed houses and tiny churches. And if you get tired of the flatlands, you are just a short fjord cruise away from one of Norway’s most majestic sites: Pulpit Rock, Preikestolen — a rocky perch 600 metres above Lysefjord, hairy enough for Tom Cruise to have dangled off it in Mission Impossible: Fallout.

Yet at the small beach in the village of Olberg — about 15 minutes’ drive from Borestranda, there’s an almost Bournemouth-like density of exposed flesh.

Mark heads down the coast to Borestranda beach (above), where 'even the shower block in the car park looks as if it has won major design awards'

Mark heads down the coast to Borestranda beach (above), where ‘even the shower block in the car park looks as if it has won major design awards’

Pictured is the hiking route to Pulpit Rock, Preikestolen. 'The cliff is hairy enough for Tom Cruise to have dangled off it in Mission Impossible: Fallout,' Mark notes

Pictured is the hiking route to Pulpit Rock, Preikestolen. ‘The cliff is hairy enough for Tom Cruise to have dangled off it in Mission Impossible: Fallout,’ Mark notes

A view of Lysefjord, home to Pulpit Rock, from the village of Lysebotn at the eastern end of the fjord

A view of Lysefjord, home to Pulpit Rock, from the village of Lysebotn at the eastern end of the fjord 

At Olberg bay, pictured above, Mark finds that the sea 'is as benign as a paddling pool'

At Olberg bay, pictured above, Mark finds that the sea ‘is as benign as a paddling pool’

Mark recommends trying the mussels at Olberg's Strandhuset cafe (above)

Mark recommends trying the mussels at Olberg’s Strandhuset cafe (above) 

It’s odd. The car park is packed, the agreeable Strandhuset cafe (try the mussels) almost empty. I suspect the sea may have something to do with it. At Olberg bay, it is as benign as a paddling pool; not so at Borestranda, where they warn you about strong undercurrents. Or it might be that the sunbathers at Olberg are just enjoying a moment of ‘kos’. Kos is the word designed to make a Norwegian heart skip a beat.

Kos — the small joys of being around a campfire with friends, sharing a waffle (they adore waffles) over coffee at home, or gathering together on a beach when the sun comes out. Norwegians might seem introverted to visitors, but they love company, family and togetherness.

‘Temperature is important,’ Ingrid tells me. ‘You cannot be cold — that ruins the kos completely!’

Thankfully, it’s 27C (81F) on Olberg beach — and there’s plenty of kos about.

‘Isn’t it good, Norwegian wood?’ sang The Beatles. Norwegian sun and sand are pretty good, too.

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