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Air Travel Hassles by Conrad Sear

Air travel is convenient, but at the same time, can be as annoying as anything a traveler can do. Recent security measures, flight delays and other problems can turn a pleasant vacation into a nightmare. There have been numerous stories about how to deal with these problems, but they tend to deal with one problem in particular. Here are the problems a traveler is most likely to face, and tips on how to avoid them, all in one package.

Most people are concerned about security issues and flight delays. These have dramatically increased since 2001, and they are issues, but travelers can minimize their impact. First, a traveler needs to check his flight before he leaves for the airport, if possible. He can look on the airline’s real-time departures Web site or call their customer service number. To see if any airports are experiencing delays, a traveler can look up the Federal Aviation Administration’s Web site and search for airport delays. A real-time map shows all major US airports, and their current status, as far as delays and holds are concerned. Rolling the mouse over the airport will detail any delays. If any flights are delayed, the traveler needs to contact the airline as soon as possible. Don’t wait until arriving at the airport. Start making arrangements for alternate flights or other accommodations as soon as delays are announced. Airlines will usually accommodate a traveler who is stuck, or maybe stuck, but they have to know. Gate agents will be swamped with the disgruntled, so hashing the problem out with the airline’s telephone staff is probably the best option.

Get to the airport early — very early — at least two hours for domestic flights and three for international. If there are delays at the ticket counters or security checkpoints, a traveler will have plenty of wiggle room built into his schedule.

Delays at ticket counters can be eliminated with the use of e-tickets. Most major airports have e-ticket kiosks and these are surely one of the best, most sensible applications of computer technology. A traveler simply needs a credit card or frequent flyer number. Insert the card into the reader, or key in the frequent flyer number. The traveler’s name and itinerary will pop up. From here, with the use of a touch screen, a traveler can change seats on a plane, upgrade the ticket class and even print out baggage stickers, if he is checking baggage. When he is finished, the computer will print out his boarding passes for the flight he is boarding, and the connecting flight, if there is one, and will also print out baggage stickers for his checked luggage. Folders and labels are even available at these kiosks so the traveler can go ahead and put his name on his bags. From there, if he has bags to check, he clears them through security and hands the stickers to the agent. They are applied, the bags sent on to the plane, and the traveler goes to the security checkpoint. If he does not have bags to check (recommended, if possible), then he simply picks up his boarding passes and goes to the checkpoint with his carry-on luggage.

If a traveler has a paper ticket, especially if there are problems with the ticket, he needs to arrive even earlier, so as to resolve the issue in time to catch the flight. This also applies with those checking boxes or large packages. The earlier the arrival, the better off everyone is.

Carry-on luggage — the rules are stricter than they used to be. However, if a traveler can carry on, it is better to do so. This eliminates any chance of baggage being lost or misdirected. But be smart. Pack well, and pay attention to what is packed. Don’t pack anything that could possibly be construed as a weapon. Safety razors will clear, and so will fingernail clippers, but don’t count on anything else with a sharp edge to make it through. It’s not a bad idea to have a friend standing outside the checkpoint to take anything that doesn’t make it. Be certain the carry-on will fit inside the plane’s overhead compartment or under the seat. For smaller aircraft, like the Canadair Regional Jets, the overhead compartments are narrow from bottom to top. A bag might squeeze in under the seat, though. A traveler can check a bag planeside, and pick it up when deplaning at the destination.

Now, the traveler is standing at the checkpoint, waiting to be cleared. What now? First, have identification and boarding passes in hand, ready to go. Some airports have agents who wind through the lines, checking this in advance. They will usually announce they will be doing this, but go ahead and have the documents ready. Don’t stick them in the carry-on bag. Hold on to them. Be pleasant to and patient with the gate agents. Greet them pleasantly and don’t make any comments about bombs or explosives. They take these things very seriously. Even if the lines get long, stay calm. Airlines are not stupid, and if the security checkpoints get clogged, they will hold the flights. They want your warm body in the seat as much as you want it to be there.

Wear sensible clothes and shoes. Wear clothes that do not draw attention to themselves, and wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Loafers are ideal. Boots will spark the ire of the entire population at the gate. Be ready to take off shoes and even your coat, to put in the tubs to be checked. Sometimes, agents will pull things at random to check. If this happens, smile and comply immediately. Stand quietly while the agent checks your bags. Don’t make snide comments and don’t do anything stupid. In fact, being calm, pleasant and agreeable will do more toward getting you through a checkpoint quickly than almost anything else. Demeanor is everything. Be the oasis of calm in the chaos of the checkpoint. It works. When you are cleared, smile, thank the agent and tell him to have a nice day, in the most sincere voice you can muster. Don’t argue — just do it. Pleasant manners and civility may not guarantee you won’t be searched, but they may do more than you will ever know. They will never hurt you, in any case.

Once a traveler has cleared security, chances are, most of the biggest hurdles have been cleared. If there are gate delays or other foul-ups, these may be resolved at the gate. Again, the key is to be pleasant and accommodating. Gate agents will do what they can, and they are far more likely to work with those who are being patient and calm.

Once a traveler gets on the plane, he should deal with whatever small inconveniences crop up with goodwill. After all — what are these small problems in the scheme of a life? Looking at "the big picture" may help here. If a traveler starts becoming agitated, he should step back, take a few deep breaths, count to 50 and smile. There are horror stories about how poorly travelers are treated, but in many of these cases, a little digging will turn up a disgruntled traveler and a burned-out gate agent screaming at each other. Being civil halts 90 percent of these problems before they get started.

If a traveler will show the same consideration to airport and airline agents that he would like to be shown, he will avoid many of the worst airport hassles. Arriving early, using an e-ticket, packing sensibly and being a nice person are the best weapons in a traveler’s arsenal.

About The Author

Conrad Sear has been a web developer for 14 years. He now manages a startup SEO company called Their growing list of clients are all making to the top with his guidance. Samples-( #1, (new), #5, #1.

Travel Insurance: Prevention Is Better Than Bills by Robert Thatcher

It is really fun going on a holiday trip. You will be so busy strolling around, doing what you do not usually do, like skiing, windsurfing and other activities worth spending your holiday with. Outdoor trip is really fun and entertaining. You are enjoying snow boarding but suddenly you broke your leg. We don’t know when accidents may happen. It is just practical to get a travel insurance plan.

Travel insurance plan is a way to minimize the considerable financial risks of traveling. These risks include accidents, illness, and missed flights, canceled tours, lost baggage, emergency evacuation and getting your body home if you die.

Each traveler’s risk and potential loss varies, depending on how much of the trip is prepaid, the kind of air ticket purchased, your state of health, the value of your luggage, where you’re traveling, what medical coverage you already have and the financial health of the tour company or airline. For some, insurance is a good deal; for others, it’s not.

What are the different types of Travel Insurance?

1. Interruption insurance and trip cancellations. It covers financial penalties or losses you encounter when you cancel a prepaid tour of flight for an acceptable reason. These might include you and your family members who can’t travel because of sickness.

It might also include you business partner or airline that goes out of business or can’t perform as promised. It is also possible to cancel if you have a family member who is sick. For a good reason such as a car accident or inclement weather, you miss a flight or need an emergency flight. In other words, if you or your travel partner breaks a leg a few days before your trip, you can both bail out and neither of you will lose a penny.

And if, a day into your tour, you have an accident, both of you will be flown home and you’ll be reimbursed for the emergency one-way return flight which usually costs far more than your economy round-trip fare and whatever portion of the tour you have not used.

2. Medical insurance cover medical and dental emergencies. Check your health plan before getting a medical insurance because you may be already covered by it. Search for benefits and deductibles and the procedures for reimbursement of the emergency expenses.

3. Baggage insurance is included in the most comprehensive policies, but is rare to buy separately. This actually the insurance for your items such as jewelry, eyewear, electronics and photographic equipments. If the airline checked your baggage, it is already covered by the airlines. Homeowners’ insurance is cheaper and you’ll have coverage even after your trip.

4. Flight insurance is crash coverage, is a statistical rip-off that heirs love. It’s basically a life insurance policy that covers you when you’re on the airplane. Since plane crashes are so rare, there’s little sense in spending money on this insurance.

5. Comprehensive travel insurance it covers all, airfare, car rentals, tour etc. it depends on you age. This can be a better deal for travelers with less of the trip prepaid because coverage is the same regardless of the premium you pay. Some comprehensive policies also cover collision damage, which allows you to avoid paying your car-rental company for collision damage waiver CDW insurance.

Never buy travel insurance from companies with no names. Not all insurance companies are licensed. You do not have a case if you claim problems with a licensed company with no license. Most of the licensed insurance companies are open 24 hours.

Getting travel insurance is as good as securing your family’s health. It is making sure that everyone is properly protected, including the loss of your passport, money or luggage, travel delays, missed departures and incurring legal expenses. It is like you are sure you are having a safe trip.

About The Author

Robert Thatcher is a freelance publisher based in Cupertino, California. He publishes articles and reports in various ezines and provides travel insurance resources on

From everything I have heard, the French are rude. I have had people tell me that isn’t true, but a small article in Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel (November 2005, page 41) confirms it.
The article describes French waiters as being rude and aloof. It describes how they might ignore you for hours. They apparently don’t like it if you try to get their attention by waving, but they might come over if you look at your empty table with dispair, as well as look young and attractive. It mentions how a family was told to leave a restaurant for ordering Coke with their duck stew. The article suggests ordering beer or wine.
I am not young, and probably wouldn’t be considered attractive by a bunch of snotty French waiters. I don’t drink beer or wine. I don’t like them. And if the French are going to be snot nosed, and kick me out for not drinking alcohol, then the cheese eating surrender monkeys can kiss my American a**! I would like visit Europe at some point, but plan to skip over France.

Early in our marriage (circa 1995), my wife and I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on vacations. But we still wanted to go and see places. Living in western New York, we decided to take a week-long driving trip around New England. This was in mid-late May, so before many things were crowded.
Our first stop was Lake Placid, NY where the 1980 Winter Olympics had taken place. We spent about half of a day here exploring. We took an elevator ride up to the top of one of the ski jump ramps. That sure looks scary when you are looking down it. We walked up the bob-sled course, and then down along the luge couse. It was funny that there was a UPS or Federal Express drop box at the top of the two runs. It kind of looked abandoned there. I kept wondering what would happen if I had dropped something in there to be delivered. It might still be there.
We left Lake Placid, caught a ferry across Lake Champlain into Vermont, and stayed overnight at small campground where we set up our tent. In the morning, we got up, and headed north to Vergennes where we toured the Vermont Teddy Bear factory. I enjoy good factory tours, and this is probably the one I have enjoyed most. The tour guide rattled off bad puns (bear feet, bear chested, etc, etc), and seemed to be enjoying himself, and the rest of us enjoyed ourselves along with him. His patter was well memorized so I am sure he had done it many many times. He knew the puns were bad. But he was still enjoying himself! That made it fun!
We continued our drive through Vermont, and visited the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory where we toured the factory. The tour guides seemed bored, and my wife and I were bored along with them. They gaves us a small sample of a single flavor at the ned, and that was it. This was one of my least favorite factory tours. Surprising. I would have thought the Ben & Jerry’s tour would have been much more fun.
We drove some more. I thought about driving down to see Killington, the ski resort, but decided it didn’t merit going a couple hours off route to see a closed ski resport. We then found another campground to pitch our tent for the night.
The next day we drove into New Hampshire. We stopped in a small maple syrup place where they made maple syrup candy, and we took a tour there. Since this was pre season they were really set up for the tour, but the lady took us around anyway. It was interesting. Nothing fancy, but then we weren’t expecting a lot either.
We continued driving and visited Mt Washington. Mt Washington has the highest elevation of any place in the north eastern United States, and you can drive right to the top. We bought a tape the entry station which gives history and describes things that you see on your drive up. They check your car to make sure it looks like it will make it up. And then as you drive up and down the steep road, you need to have your car in low gear. The elevation is over 6000 feet. We took our pictures in front of the post at the very peak. After our visit to Mount Washinton, we continued on towards Maine.
We drove through western Maine and drove around in the area where many of Stephen King’s novels take place. Nothing spooky though.
We stopped in Bangor and saw Stephen King’s house (47 West Broadway, Bangor, ME 04401). He lives in an old historical house with a large wrought iron fence surrounding it (there are wrought iron bats and spiders on the fence). I parked across the street and video taped the house for a few seconds, and then got back into the car and we drove away. He may have been inside thinking there goes another one of his nutjob fans. Don’t know.
We stopped in used bookstore, and they did have 1st edition Stephen King books, some of which were signed, but no bargains.
We drove to Acadia National Park, and found our campground. Since it was pre-season, the place was mostly empty. They told us to take any empty spot we wanted. We found a nice spot down by the water. We had only planned on being there a day, but we ended up staying there for several days relaxing. We drove up to Cadillac Mountain where my wife slipped and skinned her knee, and was gushing blood. I mean that curb that she stepped off of was a whole two inches high (my wife is a klutz). We walked along the shores finding shells. We ate lobster at a restaurant in Bar Harbor. It was a very relaxing time.
After we left Acadia, we stopped in Freeport Maine, and visited the LL Bean store. Didn’t buy anything, but it was interesting.
We drove down to Massachusetts and stayed in a campground in Gloucester. We had paid reservations for the next day to go whale watching but the next day, they said the weather was too rough, and offered us a harbor tour. Huh? I didn’t want a ride around the harbor for the amount of money I had paid so I got a refund. We did have some great fish and chips, and clam chowder while in Gloucester!
Next we stopped in Salem, and visited various witch related things. It was kind of interesting, but much of it was kind of hoakey too. After Salem we headed to another campground and spent the night.
The next day we got up, and headed into Boston. I had a brochure for a computer museum. We paid something like $10 to park a distance away. The tickets to the museum were like $8-10 if I remember. The computer museum was stupid! It was targeted to little kids. They had a only few interesting displays. Some of the displays were broken. It was very disappointing!
After that, we headed to the MIT museum. This place is very cool! I have been there couple time now, and it is great. The displays change from time to time. The holography stuff is way cool. The little artwork machines are neat. The strobe stuff was interesting. My favorite part is the museum of hacks! Hacks are elaborite MIT practical jokes. They actually had the mock-up of the campus security car that was placed on the roof of the Great Dome. They had the device that was place in the field at the Harvard Yale football game that inflated a big balloon marked with MIT all over it, and then blew up spreading a cloud of talcum powder. Lots of fun stuff!
We drove passed Harvard just to see what it looked like. A lot of faceless brick buildings, at least from the street. At least I can say I’ve been to Harvard.
We stayed at the same campground which was out by Lexington. The next day we checked out, and took our time seeing various revolutionary war stuff. We passed Walden Pond.
Then we headed to Cooperstown New York. We found the campground, and they were packed. What the? Every place we had been to had been empty, and we had no problem getting sites without a reservation. But I had forgotten about Memorial Day Weekend! Duh! Fortunatly they had a no-show, and we got a tent site.
The next day we visited The Baseball Hall Of Fame, and spent most of the day there. That was very interesting, and I would like to go back sometime. The town was filled with interesting little shops.
After that we drove home. It was a fun and relaxing week. It is always so relaxing when you dont really HAVE to be any particular place at a particular time, and you can just wing it.

We visited Martinique during a seven day Carnival cruise in 1996. It was the fifth of five ports of call. My brother decided to stay on board the ship and relax. My wife, my sister-in-law, my niece, and me decided to check it out. There were lots of shops. All of the prices were in francs which was interesting. A rough conversion was 5 francs to a dollar. I remember we stopped into a McDonalds, and I looked for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. I don’t remember if it was a Quarter Pounder or if it was Royale With Cheese as mentioned in the movie Pulp Fiction. I do remember the price was 22 francs which worked out to $4.40 US. I am not even sure if that was for just the sandwich, or for a meal. In either case it was kind of expensive. I didn’t eat there. Everything was expensive there, even compared to other Caribbean ports where prices in shops near the cruise ship ports seem to be inflated. I think the only thing we bought was some bottled water. It could be because we were burnt out after the four previous ports. Or maybe we just were in the right place, or doing the right things. But Martinique wasn’t very memorable. Of all the islands I have visited in the Caribbean, Martinque is my least favorite. Not that it was bad, it just wasn’t memorable at all. Maybe the fact that the thing I remember the most was the price of a Quarter Pounder With Cheese might give you a clue to how unmemorable it was.

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