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Three stories of life-changing travel: Israel, Honduras and Rome

A single trip has the power to change your perspective - or even your life - for good.

Three stories of life-changing travel: Israel, Honduras and Rome
Photo credits: Dan Gold, Angello Lopez on Unsplash and Liv at The Local

The Local and Lufthansa have partnered to bring you three stories of life-changing travel. We asked members of our Facebook group for European travel fans to tell us about the trips that transformed them. Presenting three of their most inspirational travel tales.

Click here to discover more life-changing places

Joyce Oladeinde’s Israeli Shabbat Dinner

One of the highlights of my trip to Israel a few years back – a memory that will stay with me forever – was when Dov, a kind Jewish local, invited me into his own home for a traditional Shabbat dinner with his family. Shabbat is a day of rest that begins on Friday at sunset and ends the following evening. At dinner, the tables were set with fine tableware, candles lit up the dining room, and Dov’s family interspersed the engaged conversations with traditional Hebrew songs. What affected me most about this experience of Shabbat, however, was all the thought that had gone into it – and how seriously Dov and his family took this day of rest. During the Shabbat, the use of electricity and electrical appliances was prohibited, and everyone in the family had their phones switched off. The dinner, too, had been prepared without any use of electricity. For me, this encounter became a wakeup call of sorts about the importance of rest in an age where electronic devices and social media easily consume time we could otherwise spend with our families. After meeting Dov, I often remind myself that it is okay to unplug to be more present with loved ones – or at least be available for the kindness of strangers.

Photo credits: Joyce Oladeinde (DIYwithJoy.com)

Katie Osthoff’s Volunteer Vacation in Honduras

Last year, I went to Honduras and spent time on the Island of Roatan, where I volunteered for Sol Roatan, a wonderful foundation working with community-based programs to promote the quality of education and life in less developed areas of the island. I was fortunate enough to be there when Santa Claus was visiting, bringing the crowd of ecstatic children gifts. I cooked and served hot dogs while other volunteers played hula hoop, did face paintings, and tried to orchestrate a line for the kids to meet Santa. The joy on their faces upon meeting and greeting us, playing with us, and sharing with us their interests and hobbies was something out of the ordinary for me. The hard work this organization does to give these children equal experiences and educational opportunities to those living in more privileged environments made a lasting impact on me. It also changed feelings about the future of this planet, and made me realize how important it is to foster child and adolescent development in order to secure a happy and healthy world for future generations. I was also moved by the beauty surrounding the school, the crystalline water and the dolphins playing on the horizon, and this made me think about the importance of appreciating the simple things in life, too. To this day, I keep up with Sol Roatan on social media and think about them often.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by SOL International Foundation (@solroatan) on Dec 19, 2018 at 6:49pm PST

Mesmerized in Rome with Eloise Aurora Alisier

When I first came to Rome, I realized for the first time how being in a particular place can boost up your mood for days, and also breathe new life into your everyday perceptions. A native of coastal northern Italy, I grew up contemplating the vivid colors of the sky, and I used to walk by the sea almost every day, and must’ve known its every color and shade and hue. But during my first time in Rome, I found that there was a soulfulness to the place, an energy I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but that seemed to be everywhere I went. In some strange way, the sea was no longer just the sea during the duration of my stay, and the sky wasn’t just the sky, and the colors all around me were brighter and more intense, more luminous, more striking, and more deeply affecting than anything I had experienced before. I walked around the city for days, mostly by myself, kilometer after kilometer, hour after hour without getting tired one bit. By the end of the trip, it felt as though I had been walking for months, mesmerized by all that beauty.

Click here to discover more life-changing places

Photo: Eloise Aurora Alisier

This content was produced by The Local Creative Studio and sponsored by Lufthansa.

TRAVEL

How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans

After long months of lockdowns and curfews Europeans are looking forward to jetting off for a bit of sun and sand -- only to find that their long awaited holiday plans go awry due to a shortage of rental cars.

How a rental car shortage in Europe could scupper summer holiday plans
Tourists wait outside of rental car agencies in Corsica. Photo: PASCAL POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP

In many areas popular with tourists cars are simply not available or subcompacts are going for a stiff €500 euros.

Car rental comparison websites show just how expensive renting a vehicle has become for tourists this summer.

According to Carigami, renting a car for a week this summer will set tourists back an average of 364 euros compared to 277 euros two years ago.

For Italy, the figure is 407 euros this summer compared to 250 euros in 2019. In Spain, the average cost has jumped to 263 euros from 185 euros.

According to another website, Liligo, daily rental costs have nearly doubled on the French island of Corsica. At the resort city of Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca, rental prices have nearly tripled.

Today’s problem is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Faced with near absence of clients, selling off vehicles to raise cash made a lot of sense for car rental firms struggling to survive.

“Everyone drastically reduced their fleet,” said the head of Europcar, Caroline Parot.

Until the spring, most companies still had fleets roughly a third smaller than in 2019, she said.

Car rental firms are used to regularly selling their vehicles and replacing them, so rebuilding their inventory should not have been a problem.

Except the pandemic sent demand for consumer electronics surging, creating a shortage of semiconductors, or chips, that are used not only in computers but increasingly in cars.

“A key contributor to the challenge right now is the global chip shortage, which has impacted new vehicle availability across the industry at a time when demand is already high,” said a spokesman for Enterprise.

It said it was working to acquire new vehicles but that in the mean time it is shifting cars around in order to better meet demand.

No cars, try a van

“We’ve begun to warn people: if you want to come to Italy, which is finally reopening, plan and reserve ahead,” said the head of the association of Italian car rental firms, Massimiliano Archiapatti.

He said they were working hard to meet the surge in demand at vacation spots.

“But we’ve got two big islands that are major international tourism destinations,” he said, which makes it difficult to move cars around,
especially as the trip to Sardinia takes half a day.

“The ferries are already full with people bringing their cars,” he added.

“Given the law of supply and demand, there is a risk it will impact on prices,” Archiapatti said.

The increase in demand is also being seen for rentals between individuals.

GetAround, a web platform that organises such rentals, said it has seen “a sharp increases in searches and rentals” in European markets.

Since May more than 90 percent of cars available on the platform have been rented on weekends, and many have already been booked for much of the summer.

GetAround has used the surge in demand to expand the number of cities it serves.

For some, their arrival can’t come fast enough.

Bruno Riondet, a 51-year-old aeronautics technician, rents cars to attend matches of his favourite British football club, Brighton.

“Before, to rent a car I was paying between 25 and 30 euros per day. Today, it’s more than 90 euros, that’s three times more expensive,” he said.

In the United States, where prices shot higher during the spring, tourists visiting Hawaii turned to renting vans.

In France, there are still cars, according to Jean-Philippe Doyen, who handles shared mobility at the National Council of Automobile Professionals.

“Clients have a tendency to reserve at the last minute, even more so in the still somewhat uncertain situation,” he said.

They will often wait until just a few days before their trip, which means car rental firms don’t have a complete overview of upcoming demand, he added.

He said business is recovering but that revenue has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels as travel is not yet completely unfettered.

SEE ALSO: British drivers will no longer need an insurance ‘green card’ to visit Europe, EU rules

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