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Birding For Beginners – My Top Tips and Advice

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Everyone casually notices birds when they go outside and tend to their day-to-day. But only certain people pay special attention to the varied species and are intent on getting a close look to inspect a particular individual bird’s characteristics. The people that do are known mostly as birders.

Birders are hobbyists who watch these winged phenomenon enthusiastically, not only in their local area, but will travel to specific locations to find a species known for that region. A “birdwatcher” is more casual, often tagging along with a birder. They generally aren’t at the same level as a birder and don’t become as involved in the sport.

The activity is one that has grown extensively in popularity, particularly in Northern America. It’s one that people enjoy due to the relaxing nature. It helps with reducing episodes of anxiety and stresses. Being in nature alone brings a sense of peace and calm. The additional entertainment of finding rare and beautiful birds is a most wonderful bonus. But those new are unsure how to start the process.

Birding For Beginners – My Tips

If you have the desire to become a birding enthusiast whether it be on a casual weekender basis or more exuberantly as a traveling birder who follows rare species around the globe, you’ll need to employ research for which you’ll need an informative birdwatching guide to learn about birds, their habitats, their characteristics, how to locate them and interact among them.

It’s also wise to join birding groups where you can meet people with common interests who you could go on excursions with as a way to learn or simply to have a good time. There are rules to keep in mind as a means of respecting your winged friends while observing them in their habitats. Some of these include:

  • Stay Quiet: Birds can be easily startled by loud sounds and will instantly fly away to find cover from what they presume to be a predator. You should not attempt to sneak up on a bird, it’s virtually impossible to do, and you will frighten it. These amazing creatures can hear much clearer than a human. With minimal sound, you’ll get as close as what will be possible.

The excitement of finding a rare or unusual species often leads to a need to make a loud declaration of victory, but most enthusiasts know these exclamations need to be made in a whispered tone so the bird remains perched for everyone to enjoy. Click to see some of the most beautiful birds in the world.

  • No Sudden Motions: When you go out to observe, it’s important to silently, gradually, slowly, “stalk” with deliberate movements to avoid bringing fear into the environment.

You can create a nervous atmosphere merely by swiftly bringing your binoculars up to your eyes. The closer you’re able to get to your subject, the less movement you want to make and the more silent you want to be. The slightest bit of awareness and there will be an instant escape.

  • Look For A Crowd: In most of North America, the winter months is the “non-breeding season.” A lot of the smaller species will join mixed flocks in an effort to be protected and for help in finding food. For the most part, the flocks remain silent, but in some cases there will be a couple of members sending out a call.

During these seasons, if you follow one of these calls, you might be led to a substantially sized feeding flock of a mixed fare that is bound to surprise a novice birdwatcher potentially with a rare subject hiding in the group. These are the reasons birders enjoy the sport, the unknowing of what you’re going to come across.  You can find more notions for why you should join the fun at https://wildlatitudes.com/3-reasons-to-start-birdwatching/ .

  • Research Habitats: Each type of bird has adapted specifically to a special habitat meant for their needs. You will need to research the winged friends you’re most interested in as far as where they spend their time so you know precisely where to look.

 For instance, woodpeckers, obviously, require trees, and a meadowlark can be found in a wide open field.

As a “birder,” rarest species will be found throughout the globe in some of the most unusual circumstances that you might find yourself in.

But finding birds and, hopefully, getting that picture is worth every effort.

  • Patience Is Key: Often you might sit for what seems like forever before the subject you’re watching comes into the open where you can actually get a nice, clear view.

The hobby requires a great deal of patience and is time-intensive, waiting for the one that you want to see to show up. It’s meant to be relaxing, so it’s about enjoying your surroundings until that happens.

An important rule of thumb passed on from seasoned enthusiasts is to ensure that the sun is always behind you. This makes it easier to recognize what’s in front of you. If the sun is facing you, it can make birds appear merely as a shadow with no color distinctions.

  • Bright Colored Garments Should Be Avoided: Most of the winged creatures’ color vision is poor, but when it comes to brilliant color schemes like white, these contrast so greatly with the background and emphasize even the slightest motions.

It’s wise to wear earth tones that blend into the atmosphere. That doesn’t mean that camouflage is a requirement. The suggestion is that darker tones or earthy shades are just as effective, even neutral shades.

  • Don’t Focus On One Spot: Even though you might go to a location with the intention of finding one particular subject, you should never limit yourself to merely that one specific species. You don’t know what you might be missing in the surrounding areas. If you focus on the thickets, or the wide open fields, you’re missing so many examples resting on branches and lounging in holed-out trees, one of which might be that rare find a birder longs for.

If you’re new to the hobby, you’re going to be excited, anxious, and, if you find what you’ve been searching for, elated. Remember, though, you’re in the birds’ home. Pay your respects in the most silent way, with little movement in the proper attire so you don’t bring fear into their environment. Please look, but don’t touch their habitat, their babies, and their things. Look with your eyes and leave as you came.

The post Birding For Beginners – My Top Tips and Advice appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: Birding For Beginners – My Top Tips and Advice
Sourced From: feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheTravelExperta/~3/maoJ34d-ulE/birding-for-beginners.html
Published Date: Wed, 07 Oct 2020 14:41:37 +0000

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Woman Removed From Alaska Airlines Flight For Wearing Respirator

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On Saturday a woman was removed from an Alaska Airlines flight after refusing to remove a respirator she planned to wear during the flight. In the age of coronavirus, more protection always seems more prudent if you’re concerned about contracting the disease. I’m not one who is very concerned about the risks of flying, but there are plenty of people who are. And this story stands out to me as odd, as I would expect airline employees to be on board with more PPE, not less.

Disputing The Use of a Respirator

Alaska resident Judy Ferguson was traveling from Fairbanks to Seattle for necessary medical appointments. The 75-year-old suffers from lung fibrosis, something that solidly places her in the high-risk category in the event she contracts COVID-19. I’m not at all surprised that someone of her age and condition would be extremely worried about flying in an enclosed metal tube with lots of other people.

Ms. Ferguson claimed that a University of Washington doctor had told her that a typical surgical mask or cloth face covering would not provide reasonable protection if you’re in an enclosed space for more than 20 minutes. Because of this, she had elected to wear a respirator helmet, as this would provide her far more protection on a flight that exceeds four hours. She initially wore a typical N95 mask and visor, switching to the respirator only once seated on the aircraft.

An Alaska employee then asked her to remove the respirator. Although Ms. Ferguson tried to explain that the respirator offered far more protection that the surgical mask he was offering her, she was eventually removed from the plane. This was after she had even removed the respirator and put the vent-less N95 mask back on, which should comply with Alaska Airlines’ policy.

Alaska Airlines tried to rebook her on a flight two hours later, but she refused to take them up on the offer and left Fairbanks Airport. Ms. Ferguson was reportedly uncooperative and disruptive.

But was all this necessary from just trying to take extra precautions? I really don’t understand what was going on in the Alaska agents’ heads. But let’s review their policies.

Reviewing Alaska Airlines Face Covering Policy

Alaska Airlines starts off their face covering policy with a simple statement of “No mask, no travel.” All U.S. airlines require face coverings, which are to be worn covering the nose and mouth by all persons over age two on Alaska Airlines except when eating or drinking. Masks must also not have mesh, holes, or vents.

Alaska policy also states that “guests who repeatedly refuse to wear a mask or face covering will be given a final warning—in the form of a yellow card—and may be suspended from flying with us for a period of time.” There are a number of reports of passengers who have refused to wear a face covering while on an aircraft and who have been removed.

From what I read, proper face covering usage boils down to this:

  • Wear a face covering that covers mouth and nose
  • Use a face covering that does not have a valve/vent to directly exhale

That’s about it.

Does a Respirator Comply with Alaska Policy?

According to Judy, the N95 mask she had initially worn isn’t vented. If this is the case, it falls within Alaska Airlines policy. But the respirator appears to be the bigger issue.

For the respirator to fall under policy, it must also not be vented. That is, you need one where source control (i.e. the person’s breathing) is managed just as much as the exterior air. I don’t know whether Ms. Ferguson’s respirator featured an exhalation vent or not, but given how knowledgeable she appears to be about the other types of masks and that her N95 mask complied with policy, it’s difficult to imagine she overlooked this issue.

The other question is whether a respirator complies with other Alaska safety policies or interferes with other guests. There is a case that removing a respirator is more difficult than removing a typical face covering in the event of cabin depressurization, but it’s not that much harder. That does not seem like a safety issue to me. And no respirator is going to be large enough to invade the space of the person next to you.

This leaves me thinking that the Alaska agents are are the ones mostly at fault here. They likely didn’t know enough about the protection offered by a respirator versus an N95 or surgical mask, nor did they seem willing to try to understand Ms. Ferguson’s situation. Realizing how high-risk she is could have gone a long way to figuring out why she would be entirely willing to wear an uncomfortable respirator for over four hours. Instead it seems they didn’t appreciate her protests to remove the respirator and summarily removed her from the plane, even after she switched back to the N95 mask.

I don’t know if there is more to this story, but it seems mishandled by the airline. What do you think about the situation? 

By: Family Flys Free
Title: Woman Removed From Alaska Airlines Flight For Wearing Respirator
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/woman-removed-alaska-airlines-flight-wearing-respirator/
Published Date: Sat, 17 Oct 2020 15:09:22 +0000

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Going On A Spa Getaway Abroad? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

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Going on a spa getaway is one of the best things that anyone can do for their physical and mental health. As a recent survey has shown that 75 percent of adults experience moderate to high levels of stress in any given month, taking some time to relax and de-stress should be a priority to improve overall wellness. The serene environment of a spa resort, as well as all the relaxing activities that one can do in it, can help to ease tension and improve mood. If you’re planning to go on an overseas spa trip, packing well for your getaway, as well as knowing all the local spa customs, can help you make the most of your experience. Here’s a guide to going on a spa getaway abroad.

How to Plan a Spa Getaway Abroad

Reserve your treatments before you leave

Whether you’re going to Bali or heading to a spa resort in Jamaica, reserving your spa treatments should be a priority before leaving for your trip. Specialists at Viva Day Spa recommend booking treatments in advance to secure your preferred date and time. This way, you can get your massage, moisturizing facial, or any other spa treatment done when you want them so you’ll have time to participate in other activities, such as a yoga class or a group meditation session. You may also want to consider getting in touch with a spa manager if you need recommendations on what treatments to get so they can tailor fit your treatments according to your needs. Make sure to ask if they have any spa packages that are bundled with room rates so you can save some cash on your trip. 

Turn your cellphone off

Being at a spa resort allows you to decompress as it offers you a way to temporarily escape from the stressors of daily life. That being said, you should also consider going on a digital detox while you’re on a spa getaway as spending hours scrolling through your social media feed can also cause a certain amount of stress. Take selfies if you must, but only post them once you get home, and remember to turn off your phone while you’re having spa treatments. 

Speak up

If it’s your first time getting a new type of massage or an unfamiliar treatment, don’t hesitate to ask your therapist or technician to explain more about it. Even if you’re in a foreign country, it’s very likely that the staff can understand and speak English well, and this is often the case if you’re staying in a highly rated spa resort. You should also speak up if you feel any pain during treatments so that the technician can make adjustments to ensure that you’re comfortable while you’re having a massage or a med spa treatment. 

A spa getaway in a beautiful destination can help to heal your mind, body, and soul. Consider these tips if you’re going on a spa trip abroad so you can get the most out of your treatments.

The post Going On A Spa Getaway Abroad? Here’s Everything You Need To Know appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: Going On A Spa Getaway Abroad? Here’s Everything You Need To Know
Sourced From: feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheTravelExperta/~3/9eB1qOlO1gA/going-spa-getaway-abroad-heres-everything-need-know.html
Published Date: Fri, 16 Oct 2020 17:45:39 +0000

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Travel To Tahiti with Kids

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Fire dancers at the Intercontinental Moorea Resort by Michael Cottam

When most people think Tahiti, they think “honeymoons”.  Actually there’s a lot to see and do for kids as well, especially on Tahiti Nui (the main island) and Moorea.  On the less touristy/popular islands, it’s mostly going to be about playing in the pool, on the beach, snorkeling, paddling, etc. and there will be fewer guided tours and activities.  

For the most part, you can get by with just English, although I’d recommend learning “hello” (“Ia Orana”) and “thank you” (“Mauruuru”) – you’ll get a nice positive response from the locals for trying (no matter how badly you butcher the language!).  If you speak French, you’ll find everyone is fluent in French on all of the islands.

Getting There

If you’re coming from the USA, you’ll probably be taking an overnight flight from LAX (Los Angeles).  You’ll keep the kids up a little late getting to the airport, then they’ll be tired and sleep on the plane (hopefully you will too), and you’ll all wake up in Tahiti about 8 hours later.

But the main island of Tahiti Nui, where international flights all land, is unlikely to be your final destination.  The vast majority of travelers will end up on one of the other islands, like Moorea or Bora Bora.  Moorea is cheap to get to via an inexpensive and short ferry ride – the other islands require an additional plane flight.

What Makes it Great for Kids?

If your kids are pretty young, they’ll probably be happy just hanging out and doing activities with you, or splashing around in the pool or at the beach.  If you have teenagers, you already know how easily they get bored, and how much they’d rather be hanging out with other teenagers. 

Many resorts will have babysitting available, so that’s an option if your kids are very young.  The larger the resort, the more likely it is that there will be other kids the same age as yours, which makes it more fun for them.

If your children are old enough to be unsupervised, then any of the islands will offer them fun, safe things to do: hiking, snorkeling, playing on the beach or in the pool, bicycle riding (mostly just on Moorea), boat and jet ski tours, and Polynesian shows (like a Hawaiian luau).

If you want some “us” time, and your kids needs supervision, it’s worth looking at resorts that have a “kids club” with supervised activities, so the two of you can go scuba diving, take a romantic boat ride, or just have quiet time.  Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora has their “Kids For All Seasons” program, with a supervised kids club; the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort has a Kids Creativity Club.

Pro Tip:

Before we dive into the different islands, I’ve got an important piece of advice for you:  use a Tahiti specialist travel agent.  They’ll be booking through a big Tahiti wholesaler like Classic Vacations or Tahiti Legends—if and when something goes wrong, you’ve got big leverage on your side to get it fixed and FAST.  If something is overbooked, or a transfer is reserved for the wrong day, or whatever, the vendor is going to “bump” the travelers whom they’re never going to hear from again.  If they have to make some client unhappy, they’re going to choose the one who booked online, because it’s not going to affect their business in the future.  They’re going to make sure first that the clients from the wholesaler who brings them 30% of their business are taken care of; and the wholesaler is going to make sure they take care of the clients of the agent who books a lot of Tahiti trips through them.

The best news is that, in general, the big wholesalers have deals as good as or better than the online travel agencies, so it’s not going to cost you any more to have that agent on your side.  Some agents will charge a planning fee, but it’s typically minimal, and mostly they’re making their money as a commission from the wholesaler and the hotel.

True story:  on my last trip to Tahiti, we got off the plane with our 3 kids and went to get our transfers for the ferry.  The local inbound operator didn’t have our reservations.  We showed them our printed itinerary from Classic Vacations, and they immediately gave us transfers and told us they’d figure it all out later.  Going through their most important wholesaler meant that although there was a problem, it wasn’t going to be OUR problem.

OK, let’s talk islands now!

Tahiti Nui

Sunset at Le Meridien on Tahiti Nui by Michael Cottam

You’re going to land there anyways, so might as well get to experience a little more of the non-resort Tahiti culture.  Papeete is the main city there, and the airport in Papeete is called Faa’a. Accommodations are relatively inexpensive, but you’re not going to get that Polynesian experience like on the outer islands.   Still, there are a few things to see and do that make it worthwhile taking a day and a night on the main island before you scoot off to another island for your overwater bungalow fix.

  • Les Roulottes – these are Papeete’s food carts, and they were popular here before the rest of the world caught on to what an awesome idea they are; night time only, opens at 6PM.
  • Marche de Papeete – That’s just French for “Papeete market”; local fresh fruits, flowers, vanilla, crafts, and pearls.
  • Arahoho Blowhole -it’s about a half hour east of Papeete, and one of the most visited natural wonders
  • Paofai Gardens – maybe a good walk to stretch your legs before getting on a ferry to Moorea, it’s right near downtown, and there’s a playground for young kids.
  • Paul Gaugin museum – this is one of those things that probably SOUNDS like a great idea, but it’s likely over most kids’ heads, and it’s about an hour’s drive from Papeete.

Moorea

Swimming with sharks and sting rays on Moorea by Michael Cottam

Moorea is super easy to get to by ferry (30 to 45 minutes, about $15 USD).  For a family of 4, that’s $60, vs. about $1600 to fly all of you to Bora Bora and back.  You can also fly to Moorea from Faa’a, but why?  The ferry is fun and scenic and after 8 hours from LAX, you’ll be ready for some fresh air and a little more legroom.

Moorea has a really good variety of accommodations, including garden bungalows, beach bungalows, and overwater bungalows.  The overwater bungalows get all the attention, but don’t discount the beach and garden bungalows – they’re generally pretty spectacular and roomy, some with outdoor showers, some with private plunge pools. 

At the Hilton, you have the option of adjoining bungalows, so the parents can have some privacy in one, with the kids next door; and the Sofitel Moorea has a luxurious 2-bedroom villa.  The Manava Beach Resort and Spa has the Family Garden Duplexes, with a king bed upstairs and 2 single beds downstairs; the Garden View Duplex has a king and a double sofa bed.  Les Tipaniers has the Vanilla Api bungalow, with 2 bedrooms and capacity for 6 people. 

Hotel Hibiscus has garden suites and bungalows available for that host up to 5 and 7 people respectively.  Hotel Kaveka has many options suitable for families.

We recently stayed at the Intercontinental Moorea, in two adjacent bungalows—parents in one, and the kids (9, 11, and 11) right next door. This resort is currently closed due to COVID however.

On Moorea, you’ll find tons of activities and adventures.  Just a couple of years ago, a zipline adventure opened up.  The staff, safety equipment, and setup were all first-rate, and we had no qualms about taking our kids on it.  They had so much fun the first time, we did it twice….and the torrential downpour just made it a better adventure.

You can snorkel (safely) with sharks and stingrays – roughly 500 to 1000 yards off the shore near the Intercontinental.  There are a number of tour boats that will take you on an outing that includes a stop here.   The water is about 5’ deep, the reef sharks are about 5’ long, and the rays come up and eat out of your hand.

There are tons of safe, shallow reefs around the entire island, and lots of other snorkel and boat tours.  There’s also a terrific ATV tour up into the mountains, to the famous Belvedere Lookout (spectacular views!), and a pineapple farm along the way.    There’s also jet ski rentals, golf (the only golf courses are on Moorea and on Tahiti Nui), terrific hikes with fantastic views, sea scooter tours, parasailing, intro to scuba classes, and license-free boat rentals.  You might think that’s brave (stupid?) of the rental company, but really the waters are super calm and you can’t really get lost.

There’s also a lot of very “local” restaurants, feet-in-the-sand, etc., as well as dine-in the resort.

Bora Bora

View of Mount Otemanu from the Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso Resort and Spa by Michael Cottam

Bora Bora is more expensive to get to (figure on about $400 per person for airfare from Papeete), but with dramatic views of Mount Otemanu that will astound you.  You’ll find this island caters much more to luxury honeymooners than Moorea, although there’s still family-style accommodations and activities available.  This is also the only island where resorts have a Kids Club (Four Seasons and St. Regis).

There’s great (and easy and safe) snorkeling within the surrounding reef – Bora Bora is basically a big volcanic mountain (Otemanu) of an island, surrounded by motus (a little ring of atolls) that creates a protected donut-shaped lagoon around the central island.

Fantastic snorkeling is available via short boat trips from any resort at the Lagoonarium (on the east side motu, between Le Meridien and St. Regis), but there’s also a lesser-known but amazing coral garden at the southeastern end of Bora Bora. It’s an easy swim from your bungalow or the beach if you’re at the Intercontinental Le Moana, or the Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island resort, or Hotel Maitai; if you’re at the Sofitel Marara Beach resort, it’s more like a 1/2 mile away.

If you’re at the Conrad, you’ve got great snorkeling there too, as you’re on a little island off the west side of the main island, but still within the protective outer reef.  At the Bora Bora Pearl, at the northwest end of Bora Bora, there’s snorkeling just south down the beach about 300 yards from the main walkway that goes out to the overwater bungalows. 

Most of the resorts are on the motus, which means that most of the non-aquatic activities require a short boat shuttle ride to Vaitape, the little town on the main island.  You can do 4wd safaris, ATV tours, hikes, and there’s also the Turtle Center at the Le Meridien resort, which is always a kid-pleaser.

Turtle at the Le Meridien resort’s Turtle Center by Michael Cottam

Huahine

Royal Huahine Resort by Michael Cottam

Not as well known as Bora Bora and Moorea, Huahine is pretty laid-back and has modestly priced accommodations by comparison.  Like Bora Bora, it’s going to require an air transfer to get there, and it’s nearly as far as Bora Bora and Le Taha’a.  Hotel Le Mahana Huahine has Lagoon front bungalows with 1 king bed and 2 single beds; Royal Huahine has overwater bungalows, and their overwater, garden, and beach bungalows are all capable of serving parents plus 2 children.

Le Taha’a

Royal Pool Beach Villa at Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa by Michael Cottam

Near Huahine and Bora Bora, Le Taha’a is home to the ultra-luxurious Le Taha’a Island Resort (where I’m told Bill Gates likes to go, and play tennis with the gardener).  But it’s also home to another real gem:  Vahine Private Island resort.

Le Taha’a Island Resort’s rooms mostly are only suitable for parents and one young child, but they do have the Royal Pool Beach Villas which have capacity for up to 5 people.

Vahine’s Beach Suite has capacity for parents plus 1 child on a sleeper sofa, plus the amazing Villa Royale – a large house that sleeps up to 20.

Tuamotu Atolls

The Pool Beach Villa at Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort in the Tuamotu Atolls by Michael Cottam

The furthest-out islands in French Polynesia, the Tuamotu Atolls are famous for spectacular scuba diving.  If you’re a serious scuba diver, the Tuamotu Atolls are already on your bucket list.  They’re known for hammerhead sharks, barracuda, bottlenose dolphins, eagle rays, manta rays, and the massive Napoleon wrasse.

Expect to pay $400-$500 per person for the air transfer from Papeete.

This is not your typical “family” destination, but if your kids are older, certified divers, this would be quite an adventure for them.  If your kids are younger, make sure the resort is currently able to offer supervision/babysitting.

At Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort, most of the rooms are suitable for parents plus 1 young child, but they do also have the Pool Beach Villa, which can sleep 2 adults plus 3 children.  At Maitai Rangiroa, the Vini and Lagoon bungalows can accommodate parents plus 1 child on a sofa bed.

Hotel Kia Ora Resort & Spa has a range of options suitable for families, including the family suites with private pool and the Beach Duplex bungalow (link: https://www.hotelkiaora.com/room/bungalow-beach-duplex-rangiroa/).

Ninamu Resort is a boutique resort with a total of only 8 bungalows, three of which that sleep up to 4, and the Tamanu bungalow which sleeps up to 6.

Author Bio

By Michael Cottam

BIO:  Michael is an avid traveler, photographer, and scuba diver.  He’s the founder of Visual Itineraries, a travel planning website, and Bright Yonder, a travel agent tools website.  He’s been to Tahiti multiple times, and has taken his son there, as well as to Mexico, Canada, Key West, Jamaica, England, and France.

The post Travel To Tahiti with Kids appeared first on Travel Experta – Family Travel Blog.

By: Marina Villatoro
Title: Travel To Tahiti with Kids
Sourced From: feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheTravelExperta/~3/oS1rpJAGvA8/travel-to-tahiti-with-kids.html
Published Date: Fri, 16 Oct 2020 14:37:09 +0000

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