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PLUS: The destinations you should avoid in 2023
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November 9, 2022 | View OnlineSign Up

Story time: I surprised my girlfriend this week by taking her to Brussels to see our favorite band play after their Paris show sold out. We grabbed the first bus out, explored the city, drank it dry, watched the show, and caught the last coach back at 1:30 AM. We arrived back in Paris at 6 AM.


At 8 PM that night, my mum messaged me and said we need to get across the city ASAP because she’d convinced one of the band members via Instagram to get us on the guest list for the same sold-out Paris show. We were there half an hour later and only missed one song.


That’s all. No Punchline. Just wanted to tell you my mum’s brilliant. Pretty sure this’ll make her cry.


In today’s edition:

  • Enjoy Argentina for half the price

  • No go list: Where shouldn’t you travel this year?

  • US Midterms: No Red Wave, key states remain close

  • Apple’s ignoring your call for privacy

Cheers,

Steven

| TRAVEL

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Argentina’s government is cutting your trip costs in half

Argentina’s government just launched new regulations that could help make it one of the most financially attractive destinations for tourism, cutting costs by almost 50%.


Without delving too deeply, decades of economic woes have resulted in the emergence of multiple currency exchange rates, as locals desperately seek more stable foreign currency. One of these rates, dubbed the 'Blue Dollar,' has been used by tourists for years to effectively cut their trip costs in half.

What's a peso worth? Depends on who you ask.

If a tourist were to exchange their dollars at a bank or official exchange office in Argentina, they'd currently receive 159 Argentine pesos (ARS) for one US dollar. But if they bring cash in a strong currency, like the US dollar, to Argentina and exchange it at an unofficial — and technically illegal — office, they'll receive 291 ARS for 1 USD, or nearly twice as much.


The benefits are clear to see, but it also means that tourists have typically needed to bring large volumes of cash and carry it with them around the country — not exactly a comforting experience.

A whole new currency exchange rate

The Government’s new rules mean another exchange rate, the Dolar MEP, will now be used with foreign debit and credit cards. The MEP has a similar exchange value as the Blue Dollar, allowing tourists to take advantage of the staggering savings without withdrawing thousands in cash. Meanwhile, the government can earn valuable tax from the situation instead of fighting an unwinnable battle against its population.


I was in Buenos Aires in July, and openly admit that I used the Blue Dollar to heavily offset my costs. While the new exchange rate makes it an even better time to be a tourist in Argentina, it also serves as another example of just how dire a situation the country's economy is in.

| TRAVEL TRENDS

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'No Go' Destinations: Travel hotspots you should avoid in 2023

As a travel company, we spend a lot of time highlighting places we think you should visit but very little time suggesting where you shouldn’t. Fodor's, on the other hand, has brought back its yearly “No List” as a gentle reminder to reconsider our impact as we travel — and it's worth consulting before your next trip.


While acknowledging the good tourism can do for local economies, Fodor's points out that it can also do a lot of harm, whether its damage to location-specific natural resources, carbon emissions fueling global warming, or population displacement. At the simplest level, overcrowding sucks for tourists but it's often a whole lot worse for the people who live there.


Some notable “No List” destinations for 2023:

  • Lake Tahoe: Increased traffic is polluting the typically crystal clear waters

  • Venice and other Italian hotspots: Overcrowding is damaging historical cities and making life hard on locals

  • Cornwall, England: The housing crisis is being fueled by temporary accommodation displacing locals, a common trend throughout the world

  • Thailand: Over-tourism is damaging its national parks so badly that they're now required to close for at least one month a year

  • Hawaii: Regions of the Aloha State find themselves receiving fines for non-essential water use, while the tourist sector enjoys unlimited use in hotels, pools, and on golf courses

I also found myself in Cornwall this year, the day before and after summer vacation ended and was stunned by the volume of tourists in the region, in stark comparison to when the district emptied the next day. It’s a tough balance to strike as a tourist, but one we should all strive to find.


You can read the full 'No List' for yourself here.

| REAL ESTATE INVESTING

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A portfolio of Airbnb properties anyone can invest in

Buying different stocks on Robinhood is one thing. But what if you had bought shares in Robinhood the company before they even went public?

reAlpha has the potential to be one of those companies.

Just like Robinhood gave ordinary investors a window into Wall Street, reAlpha is helping 400M left out of the real estate economy participate in the short-term rental real estate market through an app.

For reference: Robinhood is a $9 billion company with 15.9 monthly active users.

Only a few weeks left to become a shareholder as we disrupt the vacation rental industry.

| MIDTERMS

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Photo: John Fetterman/Twitter

Midterms bring surprising results, with key races still to be decided

The US midterms remain on a knife-edge this morning, with neither party able to cement a grip on either the House or the Senate. However, pundits and talking heads on both sides of the aisle seem surprised that we haven't seen the 'Red Wave' many expected.


Democrats have won some key Senate battles, most notably flipping Pennsylvania from red to blue, while Republicans have made significant ground in the House and are expected to gain control — although it’s not yet guaranteed.


The four remaining toss-up Senate seats of Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Nevada are all either too close to call or still in the early-counting stages. The Georgia race between Trump-backed Republican Herschel Walker and incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock is likely headed to a run-off. Democrats currently need two of the four toss-ups, so the Georgia vote could decide the final outcome.


Key takeaways so far:

  • Democrat John Fetterman defeated Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Trump-backed former celebrity TV doctor.

  • Georgia appears likely to head to a run-off vote in early December

  • Abortion rights at the state level: Vermont, California, and Michigan all elected to enshrine abortion rights in their state constitutions. In Kentucky, an amendment that would add anti-abortion language to the state's constitution appears to have been soundly rejected by voters, though it remains too close to call.

  • Republican Ron DeSantis won handily to keep his seat in Florida, remains expected to mount Presidential bid in 2024

  • Governors making history: Maura Healey (D) will become the nation's first lesbian governor in the US and Massachusetts' first female governor; Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) will become Arkansas' first female governor; Wes Moore (D) will become Maryland's first Black governor.

  • First Gen Z member of Congress elected in Florida — Maxwell Frost, aged 25

As a Brit who has had three prime ministers and two monarchs in the past three months, the American political system still seems absolutely mental. I’m anxious just writing this. 

| TECH

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Apple’s still tracking you…even when it says otherwise.

Apple has an outward-facing sentiment that suggests privacy means a lot to the company. The tech giant famously refused to assist the government in unlocking a mass shooter’s iPhone, claiming that the creation of backdoor entry coding would jeopardize everyone’s privacy and security. But new data suggests that the company itself is tracking you, even if you ask it not to.


According to independent researchers, Apple is still tracking and storing user data even when it promises that turning off iPhone analytics prevents it from doing so.


The study examined multiple facets of Apple’s privacy settings and found they had little to no effect on the amount of data being shared by several key Apple applications. The backend activity showed that every phone tap was being stored and shared with Apple, including apps being viewed or downloaded, ads viewed, stocks being viewed or purchased, articles read, and other information that can be compiled to form a detailed customer profile.


I’ve long told our editor Zach that he’s wasting his time meticulously denying web permissions when he’s online. They already know you’ve got a weird thing for those curvy Chemex coffee makers. Just own the kink, man.

| GLOBAL AFFAIRS, MADE SIMPLE.

Staying informed about the world doesn’t have to be boring. International Intrigue is a 5min daily newsletter created by former diplomats to help you enjoy understanding your world.

Join 15,000+ readers from desks around the world. Sign up for free here!

| SPOT THE LIE

Airplane food. We hate it because…well, it kinda sucks. But we also love it…because if you’re eating airplane food, you’re traveling somewhere! It’s a simultaneously loved and loathed aspect of flying. But can you spot which of these high-flying culinary facts is complete malarky?

  1. Wearing headphones makes airplane food taste better

  2. Your in-flight meal could be a year old

  3. There’s a black market where people buy stolen airplane food

  4. You get drunk quicker on an airplane

Check out the answer below.

| WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING


Answer: Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually get more drunk at high altitude. The cabin is pressurized to the same oxygen levels as being around 8,000 feet up. Your brain is getting a little less oxygen, which might make you think you’re drunker, but your blood alcohol content is exactly the same. You should probably still call an Uber upon landing, though. 


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