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.
My last blog post tried to prepare travelers for the reality of Covid restrictions and holiday travel. I want to focus on holiday travel and travelers’ role in the overall experience in this post. We have all heard the horror stories of unruly passengers and the obnoxious behavior that affects many others. Here are a few behind-the-scenes realities of airline agents I’d like you to be aware of next time you travel. I hope your knowledge will make you a kinder traveler.
Airline ticketing agent.
This person is probably your first point of contact at the airport. The ticketing agent checks your bag or handles any airline-related issue before you are even through security. Ticket agents are responsible for ticketing, baggage, complaints, cancellations, lost luggage, weather delays, and other traveler problems. They enforce rules made by the company, and they don’t personally make up rules just for you. And yes, they can be fired for not following the rules. So, when it comes to their livelihood or your demand, guess which takes priority?
Here are a few things I think they would like to tell you but can’t.
No, we can’t just give a free upgrade, it’s a computerized system, and big brother is watching.
Don’t be late and take responsibility for your poor planning and actions.
Saying no is not being rude. We are following the rules made by the company, not by us.
You get more with honey than vinegar. Treat me right, and I will do the best I can.
If you’re rude and yelling, do you think I want to help you?
The gate agent is the person who, as the name suggests, works your departure gate. If you have traveled recently, you may have noted that there is usually only one or two gate agents at the departure gate. Due to airline cost-cutting, gate agents often work alone. They must meet the inbound flight, coordinate unaccompanied minors and wheelchairs, answer passengers’ questions, clear the standby list, process upgrades, and board the plane. If this seems like a lot of work, that’s because it is! Additionally, gate agents are also required to get the airplane out on time. This means getting every passenger onboard and seated before the airplane doors can be closed for departure.
Here are a few things I think they would like to tell you but can’t.
We can see everything about your ticket, including how much you paid, when and where you paid. Lying about how expensive your ticket was or that it was a first-class ticket is pointless.
On an oversold flight, we do have the discretion to move passengers to first class. However, the choice is usually automated and based on fare price or elite status. In rare cases, your behavior or the way you are dressed helps inform my decision.
My boarding time decision depends on plenty of factors. Is the airplane clean? Does it have enough crew members? Does air traffic control have a hold on the boarding process? There are many other reasons, and staring at me or crowding the boarding area will not make the decision faster.
We are accountable for getting the flight out on time except in the cases of weather or a mechanical delay.
The computer system shows how many people are connecting and their chances of making the flight. Delaying the flight for just a few passengers is often not an option as the airplane must be at its destination at the designated time.
I know that traveling is stressful for passengers, but it is also stressful for the agents who work with hundreds of passengers daily. The airport is fast-paced and hectic, and there is rarely time for bathroom breaks. Give grace and practice kindness to your agents next time you travel.
If this has made you think differently about your previous airport experience, let me 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.
I was an international flight attendant before I had children, so I thought I had all the knowledge I needed to travel with children. Knowing and doing are two different things. I made many mistakes along the way, and it has been a long time since I’ve traveled with children. Here are my five tips to help young mothers on the journey.
1. Traveling with pre-made infant formula or breast milk is allowed through TSA. Inform them in advance that you have liquids for your baby so that you will be processed accordingly. Not every TSA station, even at the same airport, treats everyone the same or seems to have the same policies at times. Using clear containers for your baby’s feeding is recommended, and having just enough feedings for travel time plush a small extra is usually enough.
2. Airplanes are always equipped with babies and children in mind. Some even have special-size life jackets or supplies and activities designed for children in mind. What is common, however, is a bathroom equipped with a drop-down changing table for babies. Use it and not the seat. It’s unhygienic and inconsiderate to your fellow passengers. Also, don’t hand the dirty diaper to your flight attendant. Use those airsick bags provided and dispose of them in the restroom.
3. Children have different preferences for their feedings. If your child prefers warm bottles, make it hot before you leave, wrap it in aluminum foil and towels, and place it between diapers. It will not stay warm forever, but it should last a shorter, distanced flight. Towels can serve as double duty for cleanup, and you can never run out of diapers.
4. Try to arrive at the airport with time to get through security without the stress of possibly missing your flight. Give yourself time for the realities of traveling with children and the extra security you may encounter.
5. Traveling with infants allows you a few privileges such as early boarding and gate-checking your stroller. Use the stroller to get through the airport and to your gate. Once there, you should check your stroller, so it is not another piece of luggage you need to worry about. You will not need it in flight, and in most cases, it can be delivered to you when you get off the plane.
Traveling with children is indeed a stressful experience. However, there are so many ways to make it less so and a pleasant experience. Have you traveled with children? Do you have any suggestions? I’d like to hear.
Travel and culture do not necessarily go hand in hand. They are many people who have traveled extensively but are still culturally unaware due to their unconscious biases. When thinking about traveling, travelers must always be aware that they will experience cultural differences and be respectful of the culture they choose to place themselves in, even if they don’t accept it. Here are five ways to become a more culturally sensitive traveler.
1. Know that culture is not limited by race or ethnicity. People have different cultures based on their upbringings, language, gender, religion, or sex, to name a few. As a traveler, expect to see people who have different experiences, backgrounds, or viewpoints.
2. Know that you will see, hear and possibly feel things that will be different from what you are accustomed to. For example, queuing or standing in line is common when traveling through airports in the boarding process. However, in some cultures, the boarding process can be chaotic as some cultures are accustomed to a “me first” mentality.
3. Know that even though you might recognize your destination for a particular culture, this does not mean that you have to abandon your own culture. Be culturally sensitive as many places are multi-cultural, and you can add value to your destination with your own culture.
4. Know that culture influences people’s attitudes, beliefs, values, and behavior. Try not to judge a person based on what you presume to be their culture; oftentimes, your judgment is based on your own unrecognized bias.
5. Know that travel becomes a much more pleasant experience when you have learned to accept and respect people and their differences. You will become much more open to new knowledge and experiences and add value by sharing your own culture with others.
It has pained me to see the new wave of Asian racism as much as it has been to experience it as a person of color. What I do know, however, is that traveling has opened my eyes to see people as they are and not what I think they are. Has traveling opened your eyes culturally? I’d like to know.
As a person of color, being seen as a “different” traveler is not a novel experience. Having “locs” (or dreadlocks as they are commonly referred to) and being able to occupy spaces where people of color are not normally seen makes me appear different to many and sparks curiosity. I’ve learned to embrace being different and to see it as a positive experience. Here are five ways you can make your presence as a different traveler a more pleasurable experience.
1.Smile. Even in the face of obvious displeasure, it throws off those who tend to see you differently. It takes less energy to smile than it takes to frown and often gives you a sense of power not expected. Most people can’t help but wonder why you are smiling when they think you should not be. Positivity wins every time.
2.Embrace being the object of attention. This is yet another way to remain positive in the face of being made to feel different. Enjoy reading or listening to a book, or watching a movie, if you prefer solitude. Sooner or later, your comfortability appearance will actually become real, and you won’t even notice the looks.
3.Be open to curiosity. I have found that being open to having conversations or answering queries that respect my boundaries to be more informative than invasive. I have had many conversations about my hair and have learned to embrace curiosity to teach my culture to people.
4.Embrace being different and love the skin you’re in. No two people are the same, and everywhere you go, whether the destination is local or international, you will be different from the people surrounding you, be it in features or culture.
5.Know that just as you seek to gain new experiences and knowledge by traveling, many others are doing the same. Traveling opens us up to new worlds, and to many, we as travelers are part of their experience. An open mind is the best luggage you can carry.
Have you experienced being a “different” traveler? Has it been a positive or negative experience? I’d like to know.