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Picture of North Korean soldiers In recent days, Young Pioneer Tours and similar agencies have received serious criticism for how they market their tours and seemingly obscure the risks of traveling to North Korea. The difficult, underlying question behind these discussions is whether Young Pioneer Tours holds any kind of responsibility for Warmbier’s death. Lupine appears to have changed its pitch to travelers in the past year — although it’s unclear exactly when. As recently as October 2016, Lupine Travel stated on its website that “North Korea is considered one of the safest tourist destinations in the world,” but warned that “constant disrespect and criticism is likely to lead to deportation or in extreme circumstances, jail.” This disclaimer has since changed: It’s dropped the language on being one of the “safest” spots in the world to visit and now advises Americans to “exercise additional caution while in the country.” It also notifies customers that they will attend “a mandatory safety briefing prior to the tour that will discuss the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of North Korea.” Founder and director of Lupine Travel Dylan Harris said in an emailed statement to Vox that the company has always had these briefings but plans to expand them in light of what happened to Warmbier. “One of the major issues we bring up in the pre-trip briefings is to stay away from the restricted floor in the Yanggakdo hotel,” Harris said, referring to the floor where Warmbier was supposedly caught by North Korean authorities trying to steal a propaganda poster. At least 16 US citizens have been detained in North Korea in the past 10 years, and three have yet to be released. Warmbier is also not the first nor the only American to have been injured during captivity. But many Americans head there anyway. Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Tours, estimates that some 20 percent of the 4,000 to 5,000 Western tourists who venture to North Korea every year are Americans, according to the New York Times . That could change in the wake of Warmbier’s death. Will Warmbier’s death spark a shift in the Trump administration’s North Korean policy?

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Terrific Travel Tips

Are you worried about planning your next trip? It may seem like a real hassle, but it doesn’t have to be that way. This piece offers some great tips to reduce your overall stress level.

Plan your trip months ahead of time. While there are lots of things you’ll want to buy while on a trip, these things have something in common. If you get them sooner, they’ll be cheaper. If you don’t shop at the last minute, you can extend your travel much more.

Make sure the digital camera you have fits your needs. For example, a camera with a rechargeable battery might not be suited for backpacking. In any event, you want a camera that turns on and focuses quickly so you can capture shots as they happen.

If you wind up traveling through a small airport, look online ahead of time to find out what services are offered there. Often, there will be charter airlines, and they might have great prices available.

When driving or taking a plane with a toddler, it is important to have enough interesting things with you to occupy your toddler during the long trip. Bring along some of their favorite toys. Also, consider picking up something new. A new toy is more likely to hold your child’s attention than something they’ve seen before.

When traveling, be vigilant about protecting your possessions. Tourists are easy marks for criminals. When carrying a purse, make sure you keep it tucked under your arm. Also avoid pocketbooks which are easily opened by others on a busy street or subway. These are all points to be considered when selecting the bag you wish to take on your travels.

Be sure to put identification information inside your luggage in addition to the normal luggage tag. Luggage tags can easily be torn or lost when your bags are in transit. If your luggage gets lost and lacks any tags, try putting some identifying information inside it so that it may be found and given back to you quickly.

Travel is a great teaching tool, especially for children and young adults. As long as you’re safe, going to developing countries can educate your kids on how other nations work. Traveling to other countries is a good way to better understand them and the world as a whole.

Take sleeping pills if you need helping sleeping through a flight. Lots of people aren’t comfortable sleeping on planes, because the place isn’t familiar, the seats are uncomfortable, and the passengers and airplane make noise. A sleeping tablet may be just what you need, so that you can sleep while the flight is in progress. Never take sleeping pills before your plane is up in the air, there may be a delay or some other unforeseen problem.

Determine if you will need a visa to visit your destination. If a visa will be required, apply for it early. Sometimes visas take weeks or even months to process, so it’s best to be prepared ahead of time. Once again, without having the right kind of visa, you won’t be able to get into certain countries.

When you take a youngster on a trip, plan to make stops every few hours. These stops can be used for leg stretching and bathroom breaks. If you get your kids away from the car now and then, you can keep them from getting motion sickness. It takes longer, but reduces your stress levels.

The information from this article can help you have an enjoyable trip. Just use these tips to use and travel with proper preparations. Get ready for an adventure ahead and keep an optimistic attitude.

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China Bans South Korean Tour Groups, Say Travel Agencies

Shandong branches are notified of ban beginning in January Foreign ministry in Beijing denies there’s a travel ban Tour agencies in China’s Shandong province said they received notification from the government of a ban on group trips to South Korea, in a further signal that Beijing isn’t adopting a fast approach to restoring normal ties with Seoul. A Shandong branch of China International Travel Service said it received notice that no tour groups to South Korea will be allowed beginning Jan. 1, while Shandong China Travel Service also said it can no longer organize trips. A Beijing travel agency said it hasn’t heard of any changes and is continuing with plans for group tours, though Yonhap News reported Beijing may take similar measures next week. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing denied there’s a ban, adding China was open to cooperation with South Korea in various sectors. reports this week over whether China is again blocking group visas to South Korea. The government earlier this year placed an unofficial curb on tourism following Seoul’s deployment of a U.S. missile shield, but expectations have grown in recent months that an easing of tensions between the two nations would result in the dropping of barriers to allow a free flow of visitors to South Korea. China is trying to “tame” South Korea with the ban amid high expectations for a restoration of relations after President Moon Jae-in’s China visit, Chosun Ilbo reported , citing an unidentified person in Beijing. Yonhap News said the ban may be temporary. While Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South Korean counterpart Moon pledged last week in Beijing to move beyond the dispute, signs of discord were evident.

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