If you intend to travel internationally, you’ll need a passport. Here are five valuable tips to avoid any travel headaches.
1. Inspect it
When you receive your new passport, ensure that all the information is correct. If everything looks good, sign it with a blue or black pen. If there’s an error, immediately report the mistake so the is¬sue can be fixed.
2. Store it
Keep your passport in a safe place. Ideally, it should be stored in a cool, dry place that’s not easy for others to access. You may also want to consider keeping your passport in a waterproof pouch.
3. Check it
Before planning a trip, make sure your passport isn’t damaged and that it’s still valid. You should also verify the expiry date. Some countries require your access to be good for several months after your departure date. Therefore, make sure your passport meets the entry and exit requirements for the country you want to visit.
4. Protect it
When you travel, keep your passport in a safe place and never leave it unattended. Additionally, don’t put any personal information in your passport absolutely necessary.
5. Report it
If your passport is lost or stolen while you’re abroad, report the issue to the relevant authorities immediately. Once you get home, visit your nearest government office to apply for a new one.
Remember, if you need help understanding the passport and visa requirements for your destination country, you can ask your tour company representative or travel agent for help.
Five things to consider before driving abroad
Are you planning a trip abroad and thinking of renting a car while you’re there? Follow these tips to ensure you’re prepared.
1. Driver’s license. Depending on your destination, you may need to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive on the roads legally.
2. Rules of the road. Find out about speed limits, tolls, and alcohol regulations in the country you’re visiting. If you have to drive on the left-hand side, watch a few videos on the internet. This will help you anticipate the maneuvers you may need to make in the opposite direction, such as changing lanes and going through roundabouts.
3. Signage. You may have difficulty interpreting the road signs if you’re not visiting an English-speaking country. Do your research so you know what to expect.
4. Child car seats. If you’re traveling with young children, ask the car rental agency to provide you with car seats. Some American models don’t meet the safety standards in every country.
5. Insurance. Determine if your insurance provides overseas coverage or if you need to purchase insurance through the car rental agency. Also, make sure you have sufficient liability coverage.
Visit travel.state.gov and talk to a travel agent for valuable advice. They’ll tell you what to look for and what vehicle is best for the region you’re visiting. Have a good trip!
Find your flight — in a parallel reality
A busy Midwestern airport has a new feature that’s straight out of Star Trek.
Instead of losing precious minutes scanning a long list of hundreds of flights to find their information, Delta passengers at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport can enter Delta’s new parallel reality experience to get an instant personalized itinerary.
Passengers scan their boarding passes and look up at a large display screen to see their name, frequent flyer status, departure gate, flight number, and flight time. Their information is invisible to everyone else — meaning that the person standing next to them sees something completely different. Passengers who don’t scan their passes only see a blank screen.
The board, which was unveiled on June 28 after years of development, uses motion sensors to detect passengers as they approach the gate, while facial recognition technology identifies those who stop to scan their passes. The specialized screen, with pixels that can simultaneously project different colors in many different directions, flashes information that is only visible where the identified passenger is standing. Up to 100 passengers at a time can use the screen to view their personalized itineraries in their preferred languages.
Detroit is the only airport in the world with parallel reality so far. Still, Delta eventually plans to roll this technology out to other airports across the country and the globe.
Air travel tips: flu season
Are you planning to fly during flu season? Here are some helpful tips to avoid contracting or spreading the virus when you take to the skies.
• Maintain impeccable hand hygiene. This applies both on and off the plane. Sinks aren’t always accessible. Therefore, keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your carry-on luggage or purse is a good idea.
• Avoid borrowing potentially contaminated items. Avoid asking for a pillow or blanket on the plane. Other people with the flu may have used these items. Instead, bring your own pillow, blanket, or travel kit.
• Stay hydrated. You’re more vulnerable to infection if your nose and throat are dry. Drink water or fruit juice fortified with vitamin C, or chew sugar-free gum to keep your mouth moist.
• Be respectful of others. If you’re sick and cannot postpone your trip, take steps to protect other passengers. For example, disinfect your hands often, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing (or, better yet, wear a surgical mask) and touch as few surfaces as possible.
Depending on where you’re going, you may need to visit a travel health clinic a few weeks before you leave to get the appropriate vaccinations and purchase health insurance. Enjoy your trip!
How to navigate busy airports this Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is one of the year’s busiest travel times, as millions of Americans take to the sky to visit loved ones. Crowds, however, can make airports a stressful place. Here are some tips on how to remain calm and collected before your flight.
Pack and dress smart
Do your part to make the security line move quickly by packing your bags as lightly as possible. Make sure electronic devices are easy to access, wear shoes that slip on and off without laces, and avoid wearing a belt with a metal buckle.
Ship your gifts
You may want to arrive at your in-laws with presents in hand, but traveling with gifts will make your luggage heavier. The airline may even end up charging you extra fees for overweight bags. Instead, consider shipping your gifts ahead of time.
With so many passengers and planes in the air, it’s not unusual for things to go wrong. Flights may get canceled, or you could be denied boarding due to an oversold flight.
The best advice is to avoid getting angry at customer service representatives. Airline employees will be more inclined to help you if you can stay calm and show empathy. Also, be aware of your rights as a passenger under federal law. This way, you’ll know what you’re entitled to if you’re denied boarding.
Finally, to ensure your flight is as pleasant as possible, be sure to stay hydrated, wear comfortable clothes, and use a lumbar pillow to support your lower back.
Affordable vacations that are a ton of fun
Inflation has wreaked havoc on budgets for many households and prompted folks to start tightening their belts. That makes trips to Disney World, and its hundred dollar-plus (per day) tickets, a tough cost to swallow. Ditto for four-star resorts and visits to expensive cities. So, where can you take a vacation on the cheap without sacrificing fun?
Florida is famed for its beaches and draws huge crowds. Those crowds, however, can drive hotel and flight costs up. Head to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and you can enjoy warm waters and beautiful white sand beaches. Hotels, meanwhile, are often cheaper than their Florida counterparts. Don’t mind cooler water? Consider beachside resorts along Lake Michigan.
When you think of museums, you might first think of New York or Washington, D.C. These cities are home to some of the most famous museums in the world. Some, like the Smithsonian, are even free. That said, hotel rooms are often expensive. You can often enjoy cheaper hotels in Philadelphia while also exploring America’s colonial past. Famed museums and sites in Chicago, like the Adler Planetarium and Field Museum, offer free museum days.
A four-star hotel in the United States can easily cost north of $300 per night. If you head somewhere with a much lower cost of living, you might find much cheaper but still luxurious accommodations. In the Dominican Republic, for example, you can often find three and four-star hotels near the beach that charge less than $100 per night.
You don’t have to skip theme parks, by the way. While the biggest theme parks are often quite expensive, you can patronize smaller but still amazing theme parks, like Cedar Point, where a one-day ticket costs $49.99. Cedar Point’s Halloweekends, in particular, are great fun this time of year.
Virginians would accept no less than $265 each in airline compensation for flight cancellations, survey reveals.
Within just the first six months of 2022, nearly a quarter (24%) of U.S. flights have been delayed, of which the consequences have been exacerbated due to the surge in travel demand (dubbed ‘revenge travel‘) following pandemic restrictions being eased. By July, more flight cancellations had occurred than there were throughout the entirety of 2021. The Department of Transportation has said airlines should bear the brunt of the blame due to flight overscheduling, followed by confusing guidelines on compensating passengers in refunds or vouchers for these inconveniences.
The cancellation cost revealed… FamilyDestinationsGuide.com surveyed 3,014 travelers and asked, hypothetically: ‘If an airline was to bump you off a flight, how much compensation would you accept to do so?’
Unfortunately for airlines, it seems this inconvenience caused to passengers doesn’t come cheap. The average traveler from Virginia said they would accept an amount no less than $265 to compensate for the inconvenience of having their booking canceled or rescheduled on a different flight. This compares to a national average of $283.
When broken down across states, this figure was highest in Alaska, where the average traveler would accept no less than $534 for the inconvenience caused by a flight cancellation or rebooking. Comparatively, travelers in Delaware appear to be more understanding of these kinds of cancellations and would accept an amount of just $86.
The Department of Transportation is creating a website that aims to provide travelers with an explanation of each airline’s policies when it comes to flight delays and cancellations, making it easier for passengers to understand their rights. Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, has also called these travel disruptions “unacceptable,” saying that U.S. airlines should offer meal vouchers to passengers suffering flight delays and hotel lodging accommodations for those stranded overnight. Despite this, more than half (65%) of respondents said they don’t believe the department is doing enough to help travelers in this regard.
According to Department of Transportation data, 3.2% of domestic flights were canceled by U.S. air carriers within the first six months of 2022. Given this, 61% of travelers said they believe flight cancellations have become the new norm. And given how these delays and cancellations have increased exponentially over the past few years, 69% also said they’re not optimistic that the travel situation will improve this year.
On a scale from 1 to 10 (with one being the least confident), the average traveler ranked themselves an average 5 in terms of being confident that their flight will not be delayed.
This explains why 53% also said that due to the increasing number of air carrier delays and cancellations, they’re actually more likely to travel to their destination by road instead of avoiding the risk of airport travel inconveniences completely. It seems the fuel cost is cheaper than the cost of inconvenience caused by airlines – and that’s saying something!
‘The Department of Transportation is essentially telling U.S. carriers that they need to do far more to support passengers when they are forced to endure delays and cancellations due to flight overscheduling,’ says Rose Ackermann at FamilyDestinationsGuide.com. ‘The department’s upcoming website launch aims to compile all information about airline guidelines in this regard, making it more accessible for travelers to understand their rights regarding compensation and refunds. Before booking your vacation, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your chosen airline’s policies in terms of cancellations and delays. This may help you plan the rest of your trip accordingly, in case any of these inconveniences occur, thus alleviating the stress of having to deal with too much hassle on your holiday.’