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Wombat walker wanted: Australia needs help looking after its cutest residents

By Lilit Marcus, CNN

(CNN) — This week in travel news: viral candy bars in Dubai, a prime minister has to hitch a ride on a commercial flight, what really happens when a plane has a bird strike and the possible end of shoulder season tourism.

Wombat walking

They’re one of Australia’s cutest native animals. They poop in cubes. And they need a new friend to take them on walks – or, rather, waddles. East Coast Natureworld in Tasmania, Australia, is hiring a “wombat walker” who will help keep these fuzzy marsupials in peak physical condition. Job requirements include encouraging the wombats with pep talks and bringing along snacks in case they get hungry.

Not an animal person? Tasmania is also looking for a volunteer paranormal investigator to spend a day (or night …) checking out a spooky abandoned asylum.

The end of the off season?

It used to be that someone looking for a bargain could count on traveling in the shoulder or low season – for example, Italy was once more affordable in the fall, while Hong Kong was cheaper in the boiling-hot summer months.

But climate change has affected when we travel – and has thrown out a lot of the old rules about the ideal times to visit the world’s most popular destinations.

Take Greece as an example. Traditionally, travelers have flocked there in the summer to make the most of the famously gorgeous beaches. But this year’s heat waves have resulted in some of the country’s most popular attractions having to close during periods of extreme weather, and tourists have died or gone missing while exploring nature on super-hot days.

Now, travelers are looking at Norway and Sweden in the summer while checking out flights for Greece in the cooler fall and spring.

Another factor helping do away with the off season? Digital nomads, remote workers and other people who have flexibility to travel during the non-peak times.

All of this begs one big question: Is there any such thing as an off season anymore?

TikTok-famous treats

$20 just for a chocolate bar? That might sound extreme, but not in luxury-loving Dubai, where Fix Dessert Chocolatier has created supersized chocolate bars stuffed with pistachios, custard, cookies, breakfast cereal and other yummy extras, many of which include Middle Eastern flavors.

Thanks to a viral TikTok review, the company’s products are flying off the shelves. CNN was able to get a peek inside Fix’s kitchen courtesy of company founder Sarah Hamouda, whose inspirations for the business were the sweets she whipped up to satisfy her pregnancy cravings.

There’s one small problem, though: Fix (which stands for “Freaking Incredible eXperience”) doesn’t have an online retail presence, so you’ll have to go to Dubai to try the treats in person.

Air currents

Some people deal with plane delays by grumbling and asking for another bag of peanuts. But New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon isn’t just any ordinary traveler. When his official government plane suffered a technical issue en route to a trade summit in Japan, he got a lift on a rerouted plane from Air New Zealand – where he just so happened to have spent seven years serving as the CEO before switching careers.

Luxon wasn’t the only passenger dealing with unfortunate aviation issues this week. A group of travelers on board a Qatar Airways flight from Athens to Doha was left to sit for hours inside the grounded plane – which they say was did not have air-conditioning as temperatures soared above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) outside.

Meanwhile, a Virgin Australia plane had loud banging noises, followed by one of the engines catching on fire. After the plane landed – with everybody on board safe and accounted for – the airline said a bird strike was at fault. But what exactly is a bird strike, and how does it affect a plane?

If all these stories make you think you won’t be able to stay calm on your next flight, there’s something that might be able to help. Our friends at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, recommend these comfortable earplugs that will block noise and help you adjust to air pressure changes in the sky.

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