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.
For travelers with pets, considerations must be made when making travel plans. For many, pets are a part of the family, and traveling decisions are made around the pet’s needs. Can the pet be taken on the trip? Will they have to board the pet? How long can they make a trip? How will the pet travel? These and many more concerns need to be well thought out. Here are a few thoughts for travelers with pets.
Traveling with a pet.
Traveling with a pet locally is not as cost prohibitive as traveling with a pet internationally. Most small pets can travel with the owner in an approved pet carrier when traveling domestically for a small fee. For larger breeds, travel must be in the cargo area and will require a specially designated approved pet crate. Some pets can also fly at no charge if they are fully trained service animals. When traveling internationally, your pet needs to have a health certificate to prove that they are in good health and free from parasites or any contagious diseases. In addition, based on the country’s destination, other paperwork, including a picture of your pet, microchip information, as well as health and vaccination records, are required.
Pet owners should ensure their pets have a sturdy leash and collar with current identification. In addition to having a recent picture of your pet and copies of your pet’s health and vaccination records. It is prudent to have your pet microchipped and access to that information with you when you travel. It is not uncommon for pets to become alarmed and run off when in unfamiliar surroundings.
The average cost of boarding a pet in the US averages $30 to $50 per night. Rates can vary based on the size of your pet, the length of stay, or boarding accommodations. Depending on your dog’s age, other special considerations and needs will have to be addressed, and if you want your pet to socialize daily, this may also add to the boarding costs. In addition, the pet must be current on vaccinations as they will be exposed to other dogs.
Not all hotels have pet accommodations, so travelers must ensure that their hotel will allow them to have their pets on the premises. Like when traveling with babies or toddlers, pet owners should ensure the hotel is free from any hazards that could harm the pet. In addition, consideration must be made on whether the pet can stay in the room without supervision or if it needs to be always with the owner to prevent costly damages to the room.
Travelers need to take many other travel considerations, including your pets’ food and water, potty breaks, exercise, and even travel sickness. In addition, any delay or cancellation of your travel plans will also affect any accommodations you have made or will have to make for your pet. If you plan to travel with your pet, I hope you think it through as much as you do for yourself and your family. For me, pets are like family too.
Traveling expands your life more than anything else, whether domestically or internally. The US is a beautiful country, and there is plenty to see and do, but if you want to travel internationally, you must have a US passport. If you already have a US passport, take a minute to check its expiration date. You must have at least six months of validity on your passport to travel. If you don’t already have a US passport, here are the steps to making sure you have one.
The first step.
If this is your first time applying for a passport, you must apply in person. You can find an application on the US Department of State website that can be downloaded in a PDF or filled out and downloaded online. In addition to the application, you will need proof of citizenship, an original ID and a copy, a recent photo, and payment. If you renew your passport, you can complete the process online unless you are under 16, you got your passport when you were under 16, your passport was lost, stolen, or damaged, or if your passport was issued more than 15 years ago.
The first step in getting information for your passport is looking up the US Department of State, travel.state.gov. Here you will find all the information on what to expect if you are applying for your first passport, renewing your passport, or need to get an appointment at a passport agency. Many services will charge you a fee to process the passport application, but the application is simple and requires the same information you would provide to a service.
Due to Covid, the timing to receive your passport varies. The Department of State website currently estimates 8 to 11 weeks for a routine application. You can have an expedited service; the timing is at 5 to 7 weeks. To get a passport within three days for a life-or-death emergency, you must have an international travel itinerary within three days, and you must complete the application at an agency by appointment only.
Passport fees for an applicant over 16 are currently $130 for a passport book and $30 for a passport card. If the applicant is under 16, the price for the passport book is $100, and the passport card is $15. To get your passport faster, you can pay $60 for an expedited fee. There is also an option for quick delivery by first-class mail for $18.32 to have your passport delivered in 1 to 2 days after the passport has is ready for delivery. Payments can be by c personal, certified, cashiers, or travelers check. You can use credit and debit cards except for expedited services. Always check with the agency to confirm payment options.
Whether you plan to travel or not, I highly suggest getting your passport. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. In addition, consider a passport card. It’s better to walk around with your passport card than your actual passport. I hope this information helps and encourages you to either get your passport or make sure it’s valid or renewed. Please let me know if you find this information helpful.
Travel during the Christmas holidays can be stressful with extra crowds and often densely packed airplanes. With COVID, holiday travel takes on an even more stressed environment. However, it’s also a chance to visit family and friends, and maybe spend the holiday in a new destination. The holidays are celebrated worldwide, and they may not be as meaningful in some destinations. However, foreign travel allows travelers to experience Christmas celebrations shared across the globe. Here are a few tips that may help you navigate traveling during the holidays with less stress.
Plan accordingly and know your flight times. In addition, prepare for extra airport crowds. Most airlines advise getting to the airport 2 hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international trip. Typical airport rush hour times are between 5 am to 7 am and 4 pm to 6 pm. If you plan on traveling around those times, adding some extra airport travel time would be wise.
Another way to plan for holiday travel is to pre-register for many travel programs that help the travel process go more smoothly. TSA Pre-check helps to expedite screening at the airport. It sure helps not to have to remove shoes, belts, laptops, or light-wear jackets as you go through security. Clear is another program that can help expedite the screening process. Unlike TSA Pre-check, verification is done through eyes or face, making for a touchless process.
Many foreign destinations now offer travel registration. Part of any travel research is the know before you go tips available on many country websites. This research helps travelers know of any visa requirements, but in this time of COVID, it is beneficial also to be aware of any health travel guidelines for your destination.
As with any travel you purchase, travel insurance is vital for any unexpected travel delays or interruptions. Now more than ever, it’s essential that your travel insurance include COVID medical insurance. Travel insurance not only protects the traveler in the event of a COVID infection, but many foreign destinations now require it before allowing entry into the country.
Many travelers are unaware of the protections they can receive from their government when issues arise in a foreign country. US citizens can find helpful safety and general information about foreign destinations on STEP, The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. It also helps the embassy, friends, and family contact you more easily in an emergency.
These travel tips can be helpful all year round, but especially during the travel holidays, it’s essential to be well prepared. Are you planning on traveling this holiday season? Are you prepared and ready? I’d like to know.
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.
Although many people love traveling, the actual flight time is not the most attractive part of traveling. As a former international flight attendant and someone who commuted to work by air travel, there are a few ways travelers can make their flight more tolerable. Here are a few tips from my lived experience.
Travelers should research the different airlines not only for fares. Services and amenities are also used to rank airlines. Although I worked for an American carrier and knew the airline well, my preference for personal travel was not always for the airline I worked. Airlines differ in how they handle the services they offer, booking flexibility, and luggage fees, to name a few. While one airline you research may show the lowest price, it may not be the best flight available for your needs.
Many travelers prefer a particular seat selection, and as an experienced traveler, seat selection can make a difference. However, not all airlines are configured the same, and knowing where your seat is located on the airplane can make a difference. Frequent travelers are more conscious of choices when a seat map is available for seat selection. However, if you are unfamiliar with flying, looking up the aircraft configuration can be pretty helpful in seat selection. For example, a person who prefers an aisle seat may be much more comfortable with a seat selection that is not an aisle rather than an aisle seat that is direct across from a bathroom.
As a former international flight attendant, I can honestly say that the service advertised is not always available. If the flight’s entertainment system happens to be unavailable, it is not considered a no-go item by the airline. Additionally, flight attendants are not engineers. If your particular seats’ entertainment system does not work and there are no other seats available in your class of service, this means that you may have to travel without entertainment. A traveler’s best bet is to always have their entertainment by downloading movies, books, music, or podcasts in enough quantity to entertain themselves.
Premium passengers on long-haul flights are usually given an amenity kit. The kits typically include a toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, eyeshades, earplugs, perfumes, lotion, and usually a pen. They may also come in some neat packaging that can be reused as pouches for other accessories. Once my old airline provided one that could be used as an iPad cover when it first came to market. Amenity kits will also have branded items from many top brands such as Tumi, or Ferragamo to name a few. Many travelers can create their own with travel-sized items packed just for inflight purposes.
While travelers cannot always choose the flying time or be able to have their class of service, they can always make the flight a more pleasant experience. I hope these tips help. Have you any to add? I’d like to know.