When people think of travel, they often have thoughts of all the wonderful things they expect to happen. Suppose it’s a beach vacation; travelers think of sunny beaches and warm waters. If it’s a winter vacation, many will think about the snow and the incredible snow activities. However, for many, vacation expectations can be disappointing and frustrating. These expectations are because social media often only shows picturesque and positive vacation experiences. Therefore, it’s best always to have an open mind when traveling and expect the unexpected. Here are a few things that could go wrong despite all your best-made travel plans.
Even though travelers may have booked their flights in advance and know the time guidelines for getting to the airport before a flight, many still miss their flights. Reasons from waking up too late, confusing am times with pm times, long TSA lines, or leaving items at home are common. It’s always best to prepare and do prechecks the day before departure to ensure none of these scenarios is a factor for your travel plans.
Many people do not have a passport, but many of those who do, have passports that have been expired or are very close to being expired. International travel requires having at least six months validity. Many travelers take the time to plan and pay for their trip then get to the airport with an expired passport. An expired passport is a traveler’s self-inflicted wound; all related expenses are at the traveler’s cost. If you plan to travel internationally, check your passport’s expiration date before booking your flight.
Getting sick is probably one of the most common realities of traveling. Most often, travelers get sick from consuming contaminated food or water. However, many often get overexposed to the sun and get sunburnt or are bitten by insects. Travel, in general, puts us more at risk for sickness as we most often travel to places with persons we are not familiar with. Traveling by air puts us in close contact with people we don’t know, and the airplanes’ recirculated air makes encountering germs more possible. If you plan to travel, take precautions like staying hydrated and getting enough sleep. In addition, traveling with some medicines to combat minor sicknesses is highly recommended.
When traveling, it’s not uncommon to lose personal items. Items such as passports, mobile phones, losing your wallet or purse, losing luggage, and forgetting to pack certain items are common occurrences for many travelers. Often, we are so caught up in our new surroundings that we forget our belongings. It’s best to be organized when you travel. Use packing lists if you must and keep copies of your important documents like passports, credit cards, and reservations. If you lose your electronics or wallet, you can more easily make reports if you have more than one way to access your information.
I hope you never experience the unexpected when you travel, but I want to make sure you are prepared if you do. Have you ever experienced any of these scenarios? If so, how did you handle it? Please let me know in the comment section below.
I recently read a recent article about someone finding their packed luggage filled with Christmas gifts, stolen, and replaced with trash and dog food. I don’t know the facts of the situation, but the story made the news. I have heard of items missing from luggage and even had my misplaced baggage issues. Here are a few tips to help you with lost luggage or missing items from your checked baggage.
Lock your luggage.
From the time you hand your luggage off when checking in for your flight, it goes through many different hands. The reality is that not all those hands are honest. Travelers should think about what items they place in their luggage and if they are willing to face the reality of not all their packed luggage being returned to them.
Use a TSA lock.
Baggage goes through a lot of screening behind the scenes. Travelers should always use a TSA-compatible lock. If your luggage is selected for screening, TSA agents will be able to open your baggage without breaking the lock. It is within their rights for TSA agents to break nonTSA compatible locks, even locks built into the luggage if chosen for extra screening.
Have your luggage stand out.
Yes, many bags look alike, and bags are often mistaken by an honest mistake. The chances of someone walking off with a brightly colored bag or a bag with clearly distinguishable stickers is much lower than a standard piece of black luggage. It’s best to have a unique way to recognize your luggage instantly. Try to find a quirky bag tag or brightly colored ribbon to attach to your luggage and make it easily identifiable.
Leave valuables at home.
Within the fine prints of the airline ticket is the fact that, in many cases, the airline is not liable to replace all the items that may have gone missing from your luggage. Many US airlines only provide an average of $3,000. for lost, damaged, or delayed baggage. In some cases, the limits can be as low as $1,500. per checked bag. Additionally, electronics, cameras, jewelry, and computers, are not covered by most airlines.
Many travelers’ insurance or even homeowners’ insurance can cover lost or damaged luggage. In addition, certain credit cards will provide limited coverage for lost or damaged items if used when purchasing from the airline. Some airlines will sell excess valuation coverage that may increase the compensation they will provide. It’s best to have travel insurance and ensure it covers loss or missing luggage.
There’s not much that travelers can do once their luggage is lost or misplaced. Taking photographs of your items beforehand might help when filing a claim, but few people do so. Even fewer people keep a record of the things they pack. Have you ever had items from your luggage lost or missing? I’d like to know. Comment below.
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.
COVID has created many changes in traveling, and I’m happy that many countries have started to open their borders to travelers. As I’ve mentioned before, now more than ever, traveling takes planning. As of November 1, 2021, Thailand has reopened to travelers with a no-quarantine option. Here are a few tips if you plan to travel to Thailand.
No quarantine entry does not genuinely mean quarantine-free. Thailand is happy to accept fully vaccinated travelers under three programs. Test and go, Sandbox, and Alternative quarantine. In any program, travelers must complete at least a one-day quarantine. With the Test and Go program, travelers must stay at least one night in an approved hotel and wait for their pre-paid COVID test results to return as negative. Only a negative result will allow the traveler to move around inside Thailand. With the Sandbox program, travelers must stay in a sandbox destination within Thailand for seven days before moving through other parts of Thailand after a negative COVID test result. With the Alternative program, travelers must stay for 7 to 10 days in an approved hotel and test negative before being free to leave the hotel.
The Thailand pass is required for all travelers to Thailand, both citizens, and foreigners. It ensures that travelers meet all the entry requirements before arrival in Thailand. It is free to apply for the Thailand Pass, but the system is rather cumbersome and rigorous. Some service providers can complete the process for travelers for a fee, and I highly recommend it for those who do not want the stress. The response time is from 3 to 7 days to get a response, so I highly recommend preparing well in advance.
Thailand Pass requirements.
The requirements for the Thailand pass include
Proof of a WHO-approved vaccination
Proof of at least $50,000 U.S. of COVID insurance
Payment confirmation of one night’s stay at an approved hotel
Copy of flight booking
Copy of visa, if required
To be able to travel to Thailand, travelers will also need,
A negative PCR test to be taken at least 72 hours before departure
Payment confirmation of the PCR test you will take after arriving in Thailand
Thailand’s MorChana App to record the results of your rapid test
Cannot have visited any of the countries not on the approved list within the past 21 days.
In short, travel to Thailand is not as easy as it once was. The new Thailand Pass online registration system is not very easy to navigate. I found that some credentials had to be formatted correctly for the system to accept them. For example, some documents could be PDF, but others needed to be in Jpeg format. Even though I am an experienced traveler, it took me three tries before I could complete the process, in addition to two phone calls with over an hour of holding time.
Post-COVID travel has proven to be a bit daunting. Has it stopped you from traveling? 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.
Consideration should be made in choosing your seat on an airplane, especially over long distances. Frequent travelers usually have a preference noted in their flight record and know to get to the airport early to request a change if their choice is not available. Here are a few ideas on seat preference so you can make a more educated choice the next time you fly.
The middle seat is usually considered the worst seat. Inevitably, there is a struggle for an available armrest, and you are stuck tucking your elbows close for the entire flight. However, there are some benefits to the middle seat. If you have a close connection, choosing a middle seat closer to the front of the aircraft allows you to deplane faster than another choice further back on the airplane. Additionally, choosing a middle seat makes it more likely that someone else will choose another row rather than be next to you. In many cases, you might end up with the entire row to yourself or at least have a seat next to you open. There’s no guarantee, but if you have no choice.
The bulkhead seat is the seat directly behind a divider partition on an airplane. If you’re tall, this is one of the best options for seating as it has somewhat of built-in legroom. The caveat is that not all airplane designs are the same, so checking out the airplane diagram before deciding is recommended. The negative of a bulkhead seat is that it is also the desired space for parents traveling with babies or lap children. Many airlines provide bassinets that can be attached to the wall for babies to sleep on long-haul flights. Additionally, all items must go overhead as there is no under-seat storage. Considering the length of your flight will help you better decide on this choice.
The aisle seat is also a preferred seat for those that are taller. With this option, you can stretch your leg into the aisle instead of having your knees bent for the entire trip. However, you must be careful as flight attendants cannot see over the serving carts, so you’re also more prone to get hit by a service cart if you’re not careful. Additionally, you will have to get up to allow your seatmates to leave their seats.
Window seats are great if you do not want to be bothered by anyone, and they are great if you’re going to sleep as they can also double as a headrest when sleeping. However, getting out inflight to leave your seat can be a hassle as you must ask your seatmates to get up or somehow try to climb over them to get out. If you have a small or weak bladder, I do not recommend this seat.
Exit row seats
These are the seats that have removable windows or doors used to exit the aircraft in an emergency. One nice feature of an exit row seat is that it usually has more legroom. Therefore, it is another excellent choice for taller people. One drawback is that it has an age restriction and disability restriction, so travelers with disabilities or families with young children cannot be seated here. Another disadvantage is that some exit row seats do not recline or have limited recline ability. Additionally, exit row seats tend to be colder as you are seated next to a door or window with seals. Make sure you dress accordingly for these seats.
People often ask my preference in seating, and it varies for me. If it’s a short flight, I use the bathroom before and choose a window seat. For longer flights, I prefer the aisle. I try not to get bulkhead seats as small children are usually nearby, but I like them if my other options are unavailable as I have more legroom. I’d choose a middle seat over another if it’s closer to the front of the airplane. I avoid exit row seats because I find it colder. What’s your preference? I’d like to know