Almost every person has a smartphone and a mobile App they use every day. Many travelers use their phones no matter the destination. But now, more than ever, travelers take advantage of mobile Apps to help them through the travel process. Whether planning a trip or getting help during a trip, some Apps can help you save time and money and make the travel journey much less stressful. Here are three Apps I think every traveler should have.
Airline Apps have significantly improved over the past few years. While they are not often used to purchase tickets, they are most assuredly used to enhance the travel experience. Airline Apps allow you to see your travel itinerary and essential information such as booking codes and ticket numbers. This information is often overlooked but can be crucial when discussing your travel with ticketing agents. The airline app will also allow you to check in for your flight, change seats or select meal preferences. In addition, the App will have up-to-date travel information, sometimes even before it displays on airport information screens. Travelers can also opt-in for travel alerts to notify them of flight delays, gate changes, or flight cancellations. Some airline Apps even allow you to watch airline entertainment from your mobile device. These are just a few of the advantages of having the airline App when traveling. So, if you plan to travel, check if the airline you plan to travel on has an App and download it before you go.
Flight booking Apps.
Plenty of flight booking Apps are available that all claim to help you find the best trip at the best price. The best perk of a flight booking App is that it compares many flight options all in one place. The best flight booking App depends on the travelers’ preferences and priorities. Some Apps will help you with the best time to book and purchase a ticket. Some are better if you want a guaranteed refund in the event of delay or cancellation. Most importantly, travelers can set alerts for price drops and can take advantage of flight bargains when available. Like airline Apps, flight booking Apps also keep all your flight information in one location, even previous booking information. In addition, many flight booking Apps will also provide options for hotel or rental car information and suggest tourist trips or destination information. Whether you have precise flight booking needs or flexibility with your travel dates or destination, a flight booking App is a great place to start.
Hotel Apps allow travelers to create a more customized experience and a convenient way to discuss their hotel needs with the hotel. Many hotel Apps now have a mobile check-in and check-out process and mobile key cards for hotel room access. With some hotel Apps, hotel guests no longer have to interact with front desk personnel or stand in line for check-in or request a room upgrade. The hotel App may also link other hotel services such as ordering room service, booking dining reservations, making spa appointments, or requesting your car from the valet. Like the airline and flight booking Apps, hotel Apps allow guests to have all their booking information in one location. If you plan a hotel stay, see if your hotel has an App, and take advantage of the many benefits it may provide.
These are just a few of the available travel Apps and I did not name any specifically because I think preference is personal. If you want a more customized travel experience, travel Apps may help you realize a better service experience. Do you use any travel apps? Comment below and let me know.
Most hotel rooms are standard, but you don’t have to see your holiday stay as a sterile place. Incorporating personal touches into your hotel room can enhance the vacation experience. Here are five ways I try to add my personal touch to a room when I travel.
I try to unpack whether it’s for the weekend or the week. I hang up my clothing, spread out my toiletries in the bathroom, put my shoes out and my suitcase away. I like my hotel room to feel like it’s my own. I usually walk with my journal, so I leave it on the bedside table and put away all the hotel brochures. I unpack my electronics and plug them in using one area of the room, so I won’t overlook any when I leave.
Candles are a lovely way to fill a room with your favorite scent. I walk with a candle warmer and place my candle on it when I unpack. In a few hours, the smell will fill your room with a beautiful aroma instead of a sterile hotel smell. Be cautious; however, never light candles and leave them, just as you would not do so at home. I like to use small sample candles. The trick is to remember to turn off your candle warmer the night before you leave, as your candle will have time to become firm for packing. Once firm, it can stay in your suitcase for use repeatedly.
A small speaker.
If you require more volume than your device gives, then a tiny speaker does the trick. There are so many options on the market that are tiny but pack an incredible punch for noise output. You will listen to your music and get into the mood you desire with your music. Please remember your neighbors and keep the volume down, especially late at night.
For a luxurious feel, travel with your pillowcase. For EbonyTravelers, this can be especially helpful for hair care and maintenance. In my opinion, choosing a satin or silk pillowcase is a personal preference. Silk is a more expensive option, but the less expensive satin is also a great choice. Only you will know what is best for your hair type and sleeping style. The benefit of having your pillowcase is you can use it to store your dirty clothes when you are ready to pack for leaving.
Handicap accessible room.
If possible, request a handicap-accessible room when checking in. These rooms are typically larger in size because they are designed for wheelchair access, so doors are wider. Outlets are more accessible, and best of all, it is illegal to charge more for an accessible room, so you’ll get more space at the same price. Please always be considerate of those with genuine needs and know that your request may not always be honored.
Do you like to feel at home when on vacation, or do you prefer to know that you are away from home? Please let me know in the comment section below.
Walking around Thailand this year-end has left me a bit reflective. During my visit, I got to stay at two different hotels, the Conrad Bangkok, and the Anantara Siam Bangkok hotel. Each hotel is beautiful in its way, and yet I found myself awed by the old-world charm of the Anantara Siam Bangkok hotel. Here are my thoughts on the two hotels and why I prefer the old over the new.
Thailand is known for its hospitality and is one of the top destinations in Asia. It is famous for its culture and great food at very affordable prices. From the time you arrive in Bangkok, you will be immersed in Thai culture, and when it comes to a vacation destination, Thailand provides an excellent value for the money. It is not only a great place to eat, but it also has some incredible shopping. In Bangkok, there is a beautiful mix of modern and traditional buildings. You will see tall skyscrapers, malls, and restaurants along with local temples and roadside food stalls.
This dichotomy of the old and the new Thailand gives me pause when contemplating the upcoming new year and old the adage, “Out with the old and in with the new.” Although I loved the Conrad Bangkok hotel, I found that the refurbishment and modernization of the hotel have taken away some of the visual Thailand charms. The hotel offers luxury, but its elegant design has lost much of the magic of Thai culture. The furniture is modern, and things like the bathroom fittings are very contemporary in design.
In comparison, the Anantara Siam Bangkok hotel has kept much of its old-world charm.
This hotel is the former property of the Four Seasons hotel and was rebranded to Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel in early 2015. Wood trim and wood carvings can be found throughout the hotel, and furnishings, although updated, are still cohesive with Thai history and culture. Even in the elevators, you can see the presence of old-world charm in the design. The hotel tries to incorporate the history of the hotel in its offerings. From the classic hand-painted murals in the lobby and ceilings to the beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceilings, the feel of the hotel is historic and unique.
One of the main reasons many people travel to Thailand is to experience a unique culture. I love the modern amenities, but somehow being able to experience both almost simultaneously has made me realize that not many future travelers will truly experience all the charm of Thai history, architecture, and style. What I think the modernization of Thailand does is remove some of the Buddhist art and cultural scenes present in the wall art and décor.
By no means am I saying that all the culture is leaving Thailand. I’m saying that I travel east for the culture and would like it to remain as culturally traditional as possible. What would you prefer, culture or western amenities? Comment below; I’d like to know
It’s 2021, and it still amazes me to see the reactions of people I assume think I don’t belong in a particular space. Stereotypes are well established, and I still get the microaggressive questions like, where are you from? What do you do? What does your husband do? Sometimes I also get blunt questions like What brings you here? I remember the famous Oprah Winfrey shopping experience quite well, and I realize that no matter the status, being a black traveler comes with some unique experiences. Here are a few recollections from my experiences.
I’m a luxury traveler, and whenever possible, I indulge myself with that experience. I can’t count the number of times I have queued for the first /business class travel lane and had fellow passengers step around me like I was invisible. I often also get the automatic direction to the right from a flight attendant when boarding a plane. It amuses me to go left, and then I get asked again for my boarding pass for a second verification as if somehow there was a mistake.
Entering a travel lounge is no different. I often see people flash their boarding passes and walk into the lounge. However, I am frequently asked not only for my boarding pass but for identification. When in the lounge, I see other passengers being asked if they would like a refill or a request if service is needed. Frequently I am overlooked and must request service.
Customs and immigration
Customs and immigration are no different. I realize that some questions are valid, but I sometimes feel a sense of invasiveness when asked, what brings you here? Where are you staying? How long are you staying? Although these might be valid questions, I’ve stood in line long enough to see that not everyone is questioned in the same way. My history of microaggressive behavior makes me question the questioner.
As a frequent traveler, I often stay at the same hotel chain for loyalty points. As a loyal customer and quite knowledgeable about hotel services, I am rarely recognized as a loyal customer. I know my wants are documented in the system, yet my room is often not as requested. Again, this may be just assuming the worst, but historical experience tells me I’m not off the mark.
This article is by no means meant to be a complaint. It is simply a sharing of my lived experiences. Have you noticed or experienced similar experiences? If you haven’t, I invite you to take notice and claim your validity of space. It’s incredible that even now, in 2021, the spaces I enter question my presence simply because of my hue.
Recently a friend traveled from Washington DC to Egypt. She discussed with me the harrowing experience of trying to get a required Covid test for travel. With recent federal guidelines, the need for Covid testing has increased, and availability has decreased. As the holidays are a busy travel season, it stands to reason travelers needing testing during the holidays will also surge. Here are a few things to think about regarding Covid testing and the holidays.
A surge in Covid testing
Many of the issues involved with the current availability of Covid testing affect the recent executive order requiring Covid vaccination for federal employees. Companies with over 100 employees will be required to comply with the order or face significant fines. As expected, there are many questions regarding the order and implementation that need an answer. However, the demand for Covid testing has risen, and so travelers need to prepare.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it’s usually one of the busiest times for people to travel. In 2020, many suggested curtailing travel during the Thanksgiving holiday, and many ignored that suggestion. In preparation for the upcoming busy Thanksgiving travel season, the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act may require all passengers on domestic airlines to either be fully vaccinated, tested negative, or fully recovered from Covid.
Preparing for holiday travel
In essence, travelers should be aware of travel restrictions and Covid guidelines. They should know where their Covid testing sites are. Find out if they need to have Covid symptoms or can test as a precaution. Research the timing of their test before seeing friends and family as exposure varies. It’s also good to know the different Covid test options, PCR or antigen.
As with any travel experience, preparation is critical. Stay safe this holiday season and if you choose to travel, do it safely.
It’s true that not being able to communicate can be frustrating and scary. However, it should never be an excuse for not traveling. There are universal ways of communicating like yes and no, and many other common gestures. There are also plenty of mute, blind, and or deaf people who travel. Not knowing a local language is very similar in that a few key phrases or gestures will help travelers through most situations. Here are a few ideas on travel and the language barrier.
People communicate both verbally and nonverbally. If there’s one universal language that crosses all borders and cultural differences, it’s body language. Often, we don’t realize how much we communicate through facial expressions or gestures. When language is a barrier, the power of body language becomes enhanced. It’s incredible how much miming and pointing will suffice in any language.
Just as body language crosses borders, English is also considered the universal language of travel. Many tourist attractions have signage written in both the local language and English. The chance of traveling to a place where no one speaks English is very slim. However, communicating to locals in their language, no matter how inadequate your language skills, makes you a better world citizen.
It’s incredible how much we can communicate with our facial expressions. Our faces express and provide hints to our thoughts and feelings. Looking confused or worried will most often get you a response of help. A smile is understood universally as being friendly and open. With facial expressions, sometimes no words are needed.
Hello and thank you.
Just these two phrases will suffice despite any language barrier. No matter the destination, learning just these two phrases in the language of your destination will allow you to get by. Although these two words are not enough to carry a conversation, they will indicate respect for the language and people. Respecting the language of your destination will always get you the assistance you need for further communication.
The essential part of communication is giving and receiving information. When language is a barrier, it can be frustrating, stressful, and scary. However, travelers do not have to speak the native language to be understood when traveling to a country with a language barrier. Knowing a local language can enrich your travel experience, but not knowing should never be an excuse for not traveling.
Have you traveled and experienced a language barrier? How did you overcome it? I’d like to know.