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.
In my years as a flight attendant, I have had passengers try to claim premium seats, embellish their airline status, and even claim to have paid more for their ticket than they did. Passengers do not realize that the flight crew is provided a passenger information list (PIL) or passenger manifest list before the plane leaves the gate. That PIL has a wealth of information on passengers. Here are a few things your flight attendants may know about you when you board the airplane.
You must provide identification before boarding an airplane. Before that airplane leaves the gate, a passenger list is provided to the flight crew listing everyone on board by name. This information is often utilized in premium cabins to personalize the flight experience, but it is available for everyone on the airplane. Immigration also uses this information to prescreen arriving and departing passengers.
Recently a flight had to be returned to the gate because passengers refused to leave premium cabin seating. Although there may be empty seats on the airplane, they are not for the taking. Seat assignments are allotted by ticket pricing, airline status, and other factors. Flight attendants do not assign seating, the gate agents do, but flight attendants have some leverage in reassigning seats while on board. Often passengers are asked to accommodate other passengers traveling together. However, once you are assigned a seat, you do not have to give up that seat assignment unless requested by a flight crew for a specified reason.
Depending on your airline status, you may be entitled to certain perks onboard the airline. Many were the days when I had passengers declare themselves to be “million” milers, platinum passengers, or VIPs demanding a particular service. That information is available on the passenger manifest, so claiming a status you are not is often a waste of breath.
One of the initial reasons for the passenger information list was to assist passengers with connecting flights while onboard. Before landing, the flight crews are provided with connecting gate information. When traveling in a premium cabin, passengers are often individually given connecting gate information before the list is relayed to main cabin passengers. This list also helps flight attendants request other passengers’ patience to allow connecting passengers to deplane first. In some cases, if seats are available, the flight crews can move passengers closer to the front of the airplane for faster deplaning.
With the many security matters that have arisen since 9/11, flight crews now can know if you are traveling alone or with a group, if you have or need medical assistance while onboard the aircraft, or even if you have been a problem passenger on a previous flight. If a problem arises and authorities meet the flight, they will already have your information when the flight lands.
I hope you realize that you are far from anonymous when you board an airplane or travel in general. The flight attendant can note your behavior, bad or good, in your flight itinerary. It’s not all to your detriment however, I remember wishing passengers a happy birthday, congratulating couples on their wedding or anniversary, even upgrading passengers for special milestones, or assisting grieving passengers. Were you aware of how much your information is shared? Please comment below and let me know.
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.
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.