Traveling Thursday – Spring Break

It’s spring break season for universities across the US. Many students take the opportunity to head off to Mexico and the Caribbean for some fun in the sun. Unfortunately, they sometimes have a little too much and things aren’t nearly as fun anymore.

The State Department offers great tips for students who plan to enjoy spring break abroad. They also have a whole site dedicated to student travel.

It’s a little late to plan this year’s trip, but Student Universe also offers a lot of useful travel information and guides.

If you are traveling this spring break, be safe and have fun!

Traveling Thursday – Avoiding Winter Travel Woes

Ah winter, you’ve really shown yourself this week. Flying during the winter can be a huge hassle with cancellations and delays. While it is impossible to fully protect yourself from winter weather woes, there are some things that you can do to minimize your headaches.

– Don’t take the last possible flight.
Need to be in town for a business meeting at 8 a.m. on Monday? Try leaving early in the day on Sunday to allow yourself more options and flexibility.

– Constantly monitor the weather and plan accordingly.
When we were in New York last month, we saw a winter storm coming into the area. The forecast changed dramatically between late Thursday night and early Friday morning. We had to be home by Monday morning so that meant leaving early. If we weren’t paying attention, we might have been stranded.

– Ask if the airlines are offering winter waivers.
When foul weather is imminent, airlines will sometimes waive the standard change fees. Ask about that when communicating with the airline.

– Stalk the airline.
Call, try the website, e-mail, use social media…
Thousands of people are trying to get through, you have to get creative. Some airlines have customer service staff responding to tweets and Facebook messages. Try it all.

– How close can you get?
Flying to a city along the East Coast? You might be able to fly into an airport that is reasonably close and take Amtrak to your final destination. Greyhound or rental cars might be other options though please don’t get a rental if you are not used to driving in the snow.

– Be nice!
Winter weather delays are hard on everyone. Be nice to the airline employees. In most cases, they are doing the best they can. The weather is not their fault. Being rude will not help the situation. The same is true with interactions with other passengers.

Do you have any other winter weather air travel tips?

Looking for tips on driving in the winter? Check this out.

Traveling Thursday – Cinderella was right.

Cinderella knew the importance of the right pair of shoes.

As travelers we should take a page from her book when it comes to selecting the right footwear. Blisters and sore feet can ruin your vacation.

I highly encourage you to read this article about the shoes that travel professionals recommend. There are a lot of great recommendations.

Personally, I love my Sketchers, Privo by Clarks, and my cute Crocs. Whatever you pick, find something that is comfortable, durable, and well broken in. I also always take along a few blister band-aids just in case.




Traveling Thursday – Privileges of Membership

Are you a member of a zoo, garden, or museum? Did you know that many of those attractions offer reciprocal membership benefits at other facilities across the country? This could mean that you would enjoy free, or greatly reduced, admission during your travels. It’s a great way to save money and take full advantage of an existing membership.

The AZA offers this list of zoos with reciprocal membership benefits.

For other types of attractions, check your membership materials or the member’s section of their website.

Traveling Thursday – That’s a liquid?!

When writing last week’s post about the new guidelines for carry-on items, I thought about those “surprise liquids” that can throw off even the most careful traveler.

What do I mean? Did you know a snow globe is governed by the 3-1-1 rules? If you want to carry on a snow globe, the globe part must be no bigger than a tennis ball (about 3.4 ounces of water) and the whole thing, base included, has to fit in a quart-sized baggie.

Peanut butter and yogurt are also governed by the 3-1-1 rule. Grapes, which actually seem more watery than peanut butter, are not.

When there’s any question, consult the TSA’s prohibited items database for guidance.

Traveling Thursday – What can I carry on?

Earlier this month, the TSA announced changes to the list of prohibited carry-on items. Starting April 25, passengers can carry on small knives with non-locking blades no longer than 2.36″ and less than 1/2″ in width. Ski poles, toy bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs (two per passenger), ski poles, and pool cues are also allowed as carry-on items.

There is already a good deal of confusion about what is allowed on the cabin of a plane and this change will surely create additional questions and longer security lines, at least temporarily. If you have questions about what you can take in your hand luggage, please check out the TSA prohibited items page. There is a handy tool where you can type in the questionable item and get a specific response.

It will be interesting to see how these rule changes are implemented and what kind of delays this might cause. I see a lot of time spent measuring blades in security. I can assume (hope) that the screeners and passengers will get better as time goes on.

Traveling Thursday – Riding the Bus or It’s OK to be Afraid

A few weeks ago, I took Greyhound from Greenville to Atlanta to help my employer save a little money while I was attending a conference. This was my first experience with Greyhound and the bus station.

As I sat down to wait, I immediately went on full alert. My senses were heightened and every noise or sudden movement made me jumpy.  I am normally a mellow traveler but I was not in my normal travel environment. I was in a situation where it made sense for me to be weary. It was new and I was alone. I hate to admit to being afraid but I was.

By time I boarded the bus, I had begun to talk with other passengers who were waiting and gradually became more comfortable. The bus ride itself was a treat. I had a row of seats to myself and enjoyed the free wifi while I stretched out. Really, it was the most relaxing drive to Atlanta that I’ve ever had.

When I left Atlanta to come home, I was a little better prepared for the bus station but still felt a bit uncomfortable. There is a stark contrast between the order of an airport and the chaos of the bus station.

The point of this post isn’t about the bus but it is about the fear we experience in an unfamiliar setting. It’s OK to be scared. Sometimes our fear keeps us safe by prompting us to be smarter and more vigilant. So don’t avoid new experiences, whether on a trip or in your daily life, but give yourself a break if you give in to fear now and again.