Traveling with pets.

Traveling with pets.

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 documentation.

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.

Boarding costs.

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.

Pet accommodations.

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.

Travelers Beware-Drug mules.

Travelers Beware-Drug mules.

I recently wrote about theft on an airplane and got so many responses.  Today I’d like to discuss another aspect of air travel many do not consider.  As flight attendants, we knew to look out for the warning signs of drug mules, excessive sweating, refusal to eat or drink, or acting nervous.  I recently saw a post on social media where a lady shared the story of her interaction with a drug mule.  I like to write short insightful pieces, but I had to share this as is. This story is not my story, but I am sharing it because it is accurate and does happen.

COPIED (As was written by the unknown author without correction)

If you travel by air a lot, beware of over friendly chatty seat neighbours.

 The older lady comes and sits next to me inside the plane. She asked me to help her put her bag in the overhead luggage compartment. But a gentleman sitting across quickly came through. (I am not very tall and the overhead luggage compartment is something I try to avoid at all costs.

Immediately she sits down she strikes up a conversation.  She was very pleasant and well spoken.  So we chatted all through the flight to Dubai.

Suddenly, when the pilot announced that we were now proceeding to begin our descent into DXB, my good friend ‘developed’ stomach pains.  Me with my good heart, I pressed the stewards button, and the stewardess came to find out what the problem was.  I told her my seat mate was not feeling well.  And this lady, she suddenly began to address me as ‘my daughter’. The stewardess told me that there was nothing they could do except give her some painkillers and wait until we landed.  The pilot announced that we had a medical emergency on board and advised us all to stay calm.  My new friend was crying and sweating like crazy.  And she refused to let go of my hand… everyone assumed we knew each other. 

So we landed at DXB and the same gentleman who helped put up her luggage in  the overhead compartment removed her luggage.  But as he removed the luggage, he advised me to distance myself from this lady and make it clear to the cabin crew that we were NOT travelling together. He was a godsend!

So indeed, the cabin crew came and asked me if we were related, I categorically told them we had met on the plane.  I didn’t know her at all.  So we began to deplane and as I said goodbye she kept begging me to carry her handbag. I was so torn… but the gentleman looked me in the eye and emphatically shook his head.  He passed me a note telling me to let the cabin crew handle her. 

So I exit the aircraft and leave my ‘new friend’ to wait for the wheelchair and be handled by the cabin crew feeling very guilty. 

As we waited for our luggage to come through, I hear this commotion. My ‘new friend’ was running, trying to escape the cabin crew, having gotten out of the wheelchair! She left the stewardess with her handbag and just ran towards the exit with the rest of her hand luggage! Luckily the airport police were faster than her.  They got hold of her and brought her back in handcuffs. 

This lady starts calling out to me.. my daughter… my daughter!.. how could you do this to me….. that’s when I caught on.  She was carrying drugs and she was trying to implicate me!

Luckily for me, the gentleman who had helped her with her luggage came forward and told the airport police that me and her had just met on the plane.  The police took my passport and asked her to reveal my full names if it was true we were travelling together.  By God’s grace, I had not even told her my first name! I was still asked to follow the police to a little room where I was questioned extensively.  Where did I meet her?… where did I board…  where did she board. Etc… And my luggage was extensively searched and dusted for fingerprints. 

They dusted all her luggage and my fingerprints were not found anywhere on her luggage or on her handbag!

I was let go with advice never ever to touch anyone’s luggage either in flight or at the airport.  So from that day, I don’t care how much luggage you have, you will deal with it yourself.  I will not even offer you a trolley to put your luggage on! Your luggage… your problem….  is my policy.  And if you can’t reach the overhead compartment, and I am the nearest person, please call the cabin crew because all I will do is give you a blank stare and then look away!

A lesson to glean therein for intending air travelers.

COPIED.

Just as I wrote about theft on the airplane, I could not have relayed the dangers of being too friendly more pointedly.  Travelers should be relaxed and have fun, be nice, but most of all, be cautious.  I hope this story opens your eyes a bit.

Covid Restrictions and Holiday Travel

Covid Restrictions and Holiday Travel

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 travel

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.

The World and 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.

Fall travel

Fall travel

Fall is a great time to travel. Leaves are changing colors, and it can be an excellent time for a road trip.  However, the weather can be a bit unpredictable, and temperatures can drop unexpectedly. Here are a few ideas to consider as we head into the fall if travel is in your future.

Packing light.

Packing for a fall trip can be a bit tricky.  Sweaters, hoodies, and jackets can be bulky to pack.  One way to pack light is to think of dressing in layers. Layering long sleeves, vests, button-down shirts, and jackets make it easier to take on or off and adjust to weather changes.  In addition, varying different items can refresh outfit choices leading to packing less.

Be prepared for weather changes.

Fall weather can be unpredictable so prepare for rain or sunshine. An umbrella or poncho will often come in handy.  However, sunscreen and sunglasses might also be necessary.  Mornings are usually cool and crisp while the afternoon warms up.  In addition, rain is often in the forecast.

Off-peak deals.

Fall travel is much less hectic than summer travel as many destinations are much less crowded.  In addition, fall can be one of the cheapest times to travel, and prices on airfare, hotels, and activities tend to be lower. Food also tends to be more affordable as fall festivals and seasonal changes in food make fall dining an incredible experience.

More hotel perks.

The hotel industry tends to slow down in the fall season.  There are far fewer crowds, so hotels and other places offer more perks to attract business.  It is easier to receive hotel upgrades, and hotel points go further than in peak season.  Hotel staff is usually more attentive as they have fewer guests to serve, so the service tends to be better.

Fall sickness.

Temperature drops, more rain, and humidity tend to increase people’s risk of getting sick. Due to the change in weather, fall is often a time many people experience colds and cases of flu.  This trend, along with the realities of Covid, means fall travelers should be more careful of fall sickness and try to stay as healthy as possible. Getting more exercise and sleep is a great way to enjoy a fall vacation while maintaining your health.

Do you have any plans for fall travel?  I’d like to know.

Theft on an airplane.

Theft on an airplane.

Most travelers never stop to think of having their items stolen on board an airplane. I recently took a women’s safety awareness class.  The one thing that stood out to me is that most crimes are crimes of opportunity.  Although theft on the airplane is rare, it does occur.  In most cases, the person never realizes that they were victims until after the flight.  Unfortunately, flight crews can do very little if it happens in flight unless the person is caught red-handed.  Here are a few ideas to keep in mind when traveling to prevent your items from being stolen on the airplane.

Place luggage across from your seat

Many travelers like to place their carry-on luggage directly above their seats.  When you are seated on an aisle seat, you can usually see what happens when someone goes into the overhead bin.  However, when you are sitting in a middle or window seat, you cannot see your luggage if it is directly overhead.  Your items can be stolen right before you without you knowing it has happened.  When you place your luggage across from your seat, you will always see it and anyone that handles it.

Lock your carry-on

Travelers assume that they only must secure their checked luggage, and I would advise that you lock and protect your carry-on luggage as well.  Remember that overhead bin space is shared space, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to stow your carry-on items at or near your seat.  On most crowded flights, especially during holidays, overhead bin space gets full very quickly.

Make your bag easily identifiable

Many bags look alike, and some dishonest travelers take advantage of that fact.  If caught, their excuse is that they thought it was their bag.  Place something on your bag that makes it easily identifiable, like a brightly colored ribbon, sticker, or bag tag.  Anything that differentiates your luggage will discredit the excuse of unintentional handling of your carry-on luggage.

Stow your valuables well

Many people like to have their wallets or purses at hand.  Unfortunately, this can be a perfect crime of opportunity for a fellow traveler.  Once you are onboard an airplane, there is no need to have your purse or wallet out.  Most airlines now are cashless, so having a single credit card accessible is enough for most travelers.

Use common sense

If you go to the restroom, take your purse or wallet.  Men tend to remove their wallets or phones from their back pockets and place them in the seatback pocket, and women will leave their purses unattended to go to the restroom.  In both these cases, travelers leave the opportunity open to become victims of theft.  The person traveling next to you is usually a stranger.  You may never see them again in life, and it is not likely to get to know them well while onboard.  Even though your seatmate or fellow travelers can be friendly, always remember that they are strangers.

I hope you have never experienced any theft while onboard an airplane.  I have seen it happen, and I know it can happen.  Be careful and use your common sense. Have you ever given theft on the airplane a thought? As always, your comments are welcome.

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