By Lori Sweet
There is so much information available about travel, it's hard to know which advice to follow. After my first list of tips and tricks was published, I received lots of messages with other great ideas from friends and travel writing colleagues. It was hard to narrow them to a manageable list but here it goes! Many thanks to Sylvio, Don, Wilma, Regina and Francine, for their suggestions.
With ever increasing coverage of airlines overselling and people unwillingly being bumped, one strategy to reduce this risk is to check in on-line. Most airlines will allow you to check in and even select your seat, starting 24 hours before your flight. Arriving at the airport with paper or electronic boarding pass in hand, often enables you to bypass the huge lineup for check in and allows you to proceed to the shorter line for luggage drop off. Travel with carry-on luggage only, means you can often avoid both of these lines. If you are staying at a resort or hotel that doesn't have a dedicated facility to print your return boarding pass, the front desk or concierge will usually do it for you.
In addition, most of the major airlines have apps that can be quite useful. You can get flight updates as well as being able to access some of the in-flight entertainment on certain airlines.
Trusted Traveler Programs:
One way to speed up the security process, especially at airports, is to be a member of a Trusted Traveler Program like NEXUS or Global Entry. Below are the exact descriptions of the programs taken from the Global Online Enrollment System website, where you can start the application process.
The NEXUS program allows pre-screened travelers expedited processing when entering the United States and Canada. Program members use dedicated processing lanes at designated northern border ports of entry, NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada by air and Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States via Canadian Preclearance airports. NEXUS members also receive expedited processing at marine reporting locations.
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports.
At airports, program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.
Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.
While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.
What could this mean for you? You are eligible to keep your shoes, belts and light jackets on, items in pockets and compliant liquids, aerosols and gels in your carry on. The biggest bonus is that the dedicated line, in most airports, could see you going through security in record time. These programs have a cost and a lengthy application process, but if you do any more than one flight a year, it is worth it.
It seems that daily, the news is filled with one event or another of things happening around the world. Rather than avoiding travel, be aware of what is happening and plan your trip with that in mind. For Canadians, visiting the Government of Canada travel and tourism site, you will find a great location for information on all your travel destinations. Here you will find, amongst other subjects, travel advice and advisories, entry/exit requirements, laws and culture, health information and contact information for assistance for Canadian embassies.
Here is a list of tried and true travel tips and tricks:
-Take a photo of the location of your car in the airport parking lot so you can easily find your car after your world travels. A parking lot selfie!
- Pack a dollar store laundry bag to put your dirty clothes in on the trip. Arrive home and voila, laundry is ready to be started
- For easy money conversion, download an app before you leave home. No need for using data when you are out and about.
-Use a translation app or at least know a few key words in the language of the country you are visiting. This goes a long way.
-For women, having a large scarf is a must. It can be used as a blanket, pillow or shawl on the plane or bus, to cover your shoulders and or head if you are entering a mosque or other holy place and can be used to dress up most outfits.
-Pack an extension cord along with any power adapters/converters. Plugs in the room never seem to be plentiful or where you want them.
-Carry an empty water bottle through security, then fill it up on the other side. No need to pay for expensive water.
-In many countries, the water is fine for the residents but not for travelers. Avoid eating anything that has been washed. Avoid eating the skin of fruit, lettuce, uncooked tomatoes with the skin on, cucumbers etc. These foods can be an invitation to tummy trouble.
-Seasoned travelers to Cuba have been known to pack ketchup, peanut butter, salt and pepper as well as other condiments to make otherwise bland foods palatable. There is nothing bland about the beaches, weather and people however!
-If you are going on a cruise, plan to arrive the day before your cruise starts. Embarkation usually starts several hours before sailing. The ship will not wait for you if your flight is delayed.
-When you are packing, try putting a few items of clothing in one of your travel partners’ pieces of luggage and visa versa. In the event that your luggage is delayed or even gets lost, at least you will have some of your own clothing to tide you over until the luggage situation is dealt with.
-At the very least, pack sandals and a swimsuit in your carry on in case your room isn't ready. You can enjoy the hotel pool or beach while you are waiting.
While this and the previous list continue to be a work in progress, taking a bit of time to plan before you go will make your trip of a lifetime what you had hoped for.
Lori is a freelance travel writer and travel photographer based in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She has had a life-long passion for travel and for learning about other cultures, while travelling on and off the beaten path. Taking detours along the way has enriched her experiences immeasurably. Lori enjoys writing and photography, so it was a natural fit to combine this with her love of travel.
Lori was in education for 30 years. She was able to combine that with 14 years of part-time work as a Tour Director for a travel company that provides motor coach trips across North America. Upon retirement from teaching, she moved into the tour company office as a tour planner. She now spends her time working on other interests. She has kept a travel journal for over 30 years!
Lori has taken online and live travel writing and photography workshops and is a member of the International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance (ITWPA).