Hurricane Season Travel Checklist

Summer is one of the most popular travel seasons and with good reason – the kids are out of school, the office is quieter, and the weather is great…right? If you’re making plans to visit coastal destinations, keep in mind that summer travel coincides with hurricane season (June 1 – November 30). If your summer travel plans feature a Caribbean or an Atlantic-adjacent destination, consider the following:

 Flag your trip. If you’re a U.S. citizen, enroll in the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to register your trip with your destination’s nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Doing so will make it much easier for the U.S. to update you and keep you in touch with family and friends in an emergency.

 Maintain access. Make sure you have access to a radio, a TV or a mobile device that can
keep you apprised of severe weather updates. If you have internet access, the National
Hurricane Center website is a great resource for monitoring the status of storms before and during a trip.

 Stay in touch. Keep in close contact with tour operators, cruise lines, hotel staff and/or local officials to learn the correct protocol and procedures for inclement weather. Ask about evacuation routes, so you’re prepared to take action should evacuation become necessary on short notice during your tip.

 Call ahead. Confirm weather-related cancellation policies with hotels, airlines and booking services. Each service is likely to have its own policies, so it pays to explore each one’s change and refund options. Some hotels in the Caribbean, for example, offer “hurricane guarantees,” while others hold travelers wholly responsible for this risk.

 Fuel up. If you’re renting a vehicle at your destination, be sure it always has plenty of fuel. Weather can change quickly and tropical storms may blow in without much warning. You don’t want to have to stop for gas on your way to a safer area, so as possible, stay ahead of the game with a full tank!

 Pack travel protection. Some travel insurance plans provide coverage for natural disasters under the Trip Cancellation benefit and will refund prepaid, forfeited, nonrefundable trip costs up to the limit of coverage. Travel Guard plans also come with 24/7 assistance services designed to help rebook cancelled flights and get travelers to safety.

For additional information on hurricanes and other tropical storms, please visit the State
Department’s Natural Disaster website.

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Your Summer Travel Survival Guide

The summer travel season is in full swing and, if Airlines for America predictions hold true, it’s going to be a busy one…potentially, the busiest ever. The group is expecting 231 million passengers to fly on U.S. airlines this summer, a four percent increase from last year’s all-time high. That means long security lines, more traffic, and for many travelers, difficulty keeping the stress at bay. While we can’t teleport you to your destination, we can provide several quick tips to help you “stay cool” as you fly, drive or cruise there!

1.) Read the reviews: Mismanaged expectations can trigger travel stress. Plan ahead, and
take time to check lodging, transportation and food reviews for insights like hotel
construction or early closings at tourist sites. Whether or not you can do anything about
them, you may be able to proactively manage stress with a bit of mental preparation.

2.) Create an itinerary: A comprehensive itinerary of travel plans can serve as a reference
for quick questions (e.g., “what time does the tour group leave tomorrow?”) during your
trip, helping to save time and prevent travel mishaps. Savvy travelers may even try one
of many travel apps (check out this list from Travel + Leisure) for a digital itinerary.

3.) Travel light: Did you know most people wear 20 percent of their clothing 80 percent of
the time (NY Mag)? To save space (and fees for oversized bags!), keep your packing list
as streamlined as possible. Hints: Check the weather at your destination, plan to mix
and match, select trial-sized toiletries and roll, don’t fold, clothes.

4.) Be an early bird: Many travelers understand booking trips early can help them take
advantage of lower costs and wider selections, but there are also benefits to continuing
that momentum throughout the trip. Arriving early for the airport, tourist attractions, and
more will help you spend less time in line and more time experiencing your destination!

5.) Just plane comfortable: To help manage potential flight-related stress or anxiety, bring
headphones, eye covers, neck pillows, ear plugs, blankets, sweaters, snacks or anything
else that might keep you comfortable and entertained. Pack a special item from home,
such as scented aromatherapy oil, for a pleasant distraction.

6.) Remember to breathe: Deep-breathing exercises can help de-stress you by calming
your nervous system. Simple tips like taking long, deep breaths, staying mindful of your
breathing, and breathing with your diaphragm can help to refresh and refocus you. You
might also consider talking with your doctor about other stress-reducing methods.

7.) Break a sweat: On travel day, consider getting up a little early to go for a run or take a
workout class. Have some down time at the airport? People watch on the go during a
few laps around the terminal. Once you arrive at your new destination, consider
exploring your new environment with a relaxing evening run.

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Five Ways to Pass the Time During a Layover

You’ve checked your bags, printed your boarding passes, and you’re ready to go…but not just yet. Due to a layover, it’s time to hunker down for the next few hours before your next flight. So, what’s a traveler to do with all this extra time? Consider the following tips to make the most of it:

Make new friends or contacts: With people from every walk of life, representing a variety of different cultures, airports are known as one of the best people-watching destinations. Whether traveling for business or for pleasure, consider striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. You never know where that conversation might lead or what you might learn!

Take an exercise break: Muscles a little cramped after a long flight? Many airport hotels have fitness centers that offer day passes for the general public. If buying a day pass isn’t an option for you or if you don’t have a set of workout clothes handy, take a brisk walk around the airport instead. Consider your stroll a warm-up for making your next rushed connection!

Treat yourself to a mini spa day: Many airports offer spas where travelers can get manicures, pedicures or even massages. If indulging in a beauty or wellness treatment isn’t in your budget, take some time to freshen up in the restroom, grab some mints or lip balm from the gift shop, and run a comb or a brush through your hair. Sometimes, looking good is feeling good!

Sample the local cuisine: If you find your stomach growling, especially if you’re in another
country, take the time to sample the local cuisine. While there may be options in the food court or the gift shop, the best places likely will be outside of the airport. If your schedule allows, explore – just be sure to watch the clock and build in time to get through security.

Find a spot to rest: Sometimes you just need to rest – especially if your layover occurs
between hectic business trips or stressful life events. Take a seat in a relatively empty terminal and set your music player to an easy-listening station. For a small fee, many airports also offer travelers access to deluxe lounges with comfy seating, reading material, food and free wifi.1

If you’re still looking for other ways to enjoy your hours between flights, check out this article from time.com/money.com.

 

1 https://www.lonelyplanet.com/england/london/travel-tips-and-articles/58668

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Calming Flight Anxiety in Children

The summer family travel season is finally here and if last year’s travel trends continue, about 222 million people will take to the skies between June 1 and Aug. 31.1 All that busyness can overwhelm young children (and the adults who travel with them!), so it pays for families to prepare for potential anxiety before they enter a bustling airport or board a crowded plane. While not foolproof, the following tips are worth a read for travelers flying with kids:

Talk to them in advance: Fear of the unknown can be powerful and as adults know, every flight is different. No matter whether children are flying for the first time, or have flown previously, prepare them for what they may experience. Don’t be afraid to go into detail. For example, explain to them that people they don’t know will be on the plane, and talk to them about how their body might feel as the plane takes off, ascends, descends and lands. Afterward, ask them what other questions they may have and offer explanations as best you can.

Redirect their attention: If your children get scared while on the plane, redirect their attention to a new activity. Tell them about the place you’re going, and ask them what they’re most excited to do when they get there. If your plane has an interactive flight map, track your progress together. Surprise the kids with a new toy on board to engage their brains as well as their hands. Parenting.com has a great list, with suggestions and activities like making a collage out of magazine cutouts or working together to write and illustrate a short story.2

Set a “calm” example: Airplane ascents or descents may be uncomfortable for children due to how these events affect the body. Normal reactions, such as plugged ears or butterfly sensations, may cause kids to act out. If they do, your best bet is to stay calm. If your children see that you’re calm, they might just pick up on and mirror your cues. Remember, preparing them in advance for what they may experience on the flight may also help to minimize nervousness.

When needed, ask for help: If your child’s case of flight anxiety is severe, consider seeing a pediatrician about possible options for help. While most doctors will only recommend medication in the most extreme cases, they may be able to share ideas for natural anxiety remedies and techniques (for example, doing breathing exercises, sipping hot beverages, or bringing comfort items from home).

For more great tips for families, visit parents.com.

1 http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-airlines-summer-outlook-0519-biz-20150518-story.html
2 http://traveling-kids.blogspot.com/2011/02/fear-of-flying-how-to-help-anxious.html

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How to get VIP Treatment on your Honeymoon

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the altar, exchanged vows and had the perfect wedding. Now it’s time to keep the wedded bliss going with a storybook honeymoon. So, how do you get the honeymoon that dreams are made out of? There are no guarantees, but the following pointers may help you get VIP treatment while you’re away. Let us know how they work for you!
Share the news: When planning your trip, let everyone you book with know that your honeymoon is the reason for your trip. For potential perks in your honeymoon suite, remind the staff why you’re there when you check in. When dining, mention to your server that it’s your honeymoon – the restaurant just might offer appetizers or dessert on the house.
Take advantage of reward and loyalty programs: Now is the time to use the points that have been racking up on your credit card. Consider booking two first-class tickets if you’re traveling out of the country; you’ll enjoy the extra legroom and special treatment. The best part is that your tickets might be discounted or even free if you use your points or miles – score!
Book air travel for the right time: If you want a good deal on airline tickets, plan to travel on Saturday. Most business travelers are home on the weekend, meaning tickets on this day may be less expensive and there may be more room on the plane. Use this knowledge to your advantage and ask for an upgrade to first class before you depart.

Consider traveling during the “off-season.” If you plan your honeymoon to coincide with a slower season, you may be more likely to score a flight upgrade or a swankier hotel room. Even if this means traveling for your honeymoon a few weeks or months following your wedding, the potential upgrade or discount may be worth the delay.
Be open to trying new accommodations: Often, hotels that have recently opened want to build a reputation for their superior service and quality. If you book a new or up-and-coming place to stay, you may have a better chance of scoring perks. It’s not always wise to book for opening week however, as construction delays may impact your planned stay.
Get to know your concierge: A great concierge will go above and beyond to make sure your honeymoon is extra special. If there are activities (think candlelit dinners or private excursions) you and your sweetheart would like to participate in, don’t be afraid to drop hints – your concierge may be able to leverage his or her relationships with local businesses to score discounts or freebies on your behalf.
For more great honeymoon tips, check out this article by Traveler’s Joy.

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Your Official Family Travel Packing List

Consider these items when preparing to travel with kids

The summer family travel season is almost here, bringing a world of opportunities to make memories with the people with whom you’re closest. Before you head out the door, be sure to reference this handy packing list, which will help to prepare your journey for minimal hassle and maximum fun.

General checklist:

  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Shampoo/soap
  • Sunblock
  • Swimsuits
  • Sun hats
  • Umbrella
  • Refillable water bottle

For kids:

  • Crayons and coloring books
  • Toys and activity books
  • Camera with extra digital memory
  • Entertainment (for example, music, movies, audio books, games, etc.)
  • Snacks
  • Medication (for example, analgesics, motion sickness pills, etc.)

For babies:

  • Car seat
  • Travel stroller
  • Collapsible crib
  • Diapers and plastic bags
  • Wipes
  • Lotion and powder
  • Pacifiers
  • Extra bottles/formula

For the car:

  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Cooler
  • Paper towels
  • Garbage bags
  • First-aid kit

For the plane:

  • IDs and travel documents
  • Carry-on baggage with a change of clothes for each person
  • Extra snacks
  • Compact stroller
  • Small toys for the flight

 

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Five Tips for the Traveling Environmentalist

Traveling green is not always easy, but it’s certainly worth the effort. These five tips will not only help you make a positive and lasting impact on the environment when you travel, but also help you save money and enjoy more authentic experiences along the way.

  1. Select “ethical” travel destinations.

A number of online resources rate destinations according to their environmental protection standards, social welfare and human rights records. Take advantage of these websites to do your due diligence when making travel plans.

  1. Choose LEED-certified hotels.

LEED-certified hotels use environmentally-friendly building and cleaning products, and offer their guests options to help make a positive environmental impact during their stay (such as re-using towels and not having sheets changed every day). When booking travel accommodations, consider prioritizing hotels that have achieved this designation.

  1. Invest in a quality refillable water bottle.

When safe to do so, refilling a water bottle throughout your trip will both save you money and help save the environment, as water bottles can take years to break down. Landfills are already overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles, as the Water Project has reported.1

  1. Eat locally-sourced food when you travel.

When you eat locally-grown food, you support local farmers and get an authentic taste of the area. Keep an eye out for restaurants that offer locally-grown food, and at some destinations, be aware of any endangered species that may be on the menu!

  1. Bike or walk when you can.

When you bike or walk while traveling, you may cut your environmental impact in half. Even if the attraction is a little farther than you’d normally bike or walk to, getting there that way gives you a chance to enjoy the scenery en route. Bring some extra cash for public transportation in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.

For more helpful tips on how to go green when you travel, check out this great article from Lonely Planet.

1 https://thewaterproject.org/bottled_water_wasteful

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