In a year like 2020, the warmth, community, food, and chance to travel that the end of the year holiday season brings is seen as a highly-needed break from the daily stresses of life. However, now more than ever, caution must be taken to ensure an enjoyable, yet safe holiday season transpires. Travel Pulse has compiled several steps travelers can take for safe 2020 holiday travels.
Monitor Your Destination Early and Often
While there are expected to be far fewer crowds than in previous years and simply no shortage of deals to be snagged for flights and resort stays, travelers shouldn’t be swept up in the excitement that a reunioning gathering of loved ones could generate, as the latest travel restrictions, quarantine orders and health and safety guidelines of your destination should be regularly monitored. So, as you are holiday shopping and planning, be sure to research what your destination requires of its incoming travelers, as some places are requiring visitors to self-isolate for a minimum of fourteen days, if they are hailing from a “hotspot,” while others are asking visitors to complete health questionnaires and/or submit a negative coronavirus test result prior to entry. As a general rule of thumb, as this tip is the most serious, travelers at a higher risk of severe illness should avoid areas with high infection rates or, at the very least, exercise extreme caution.
Purchase Travel Insurance
Sure it’s often ignored, skipped over, or hastily signed, as a traveler focuses more on the type of seat getting them to the destination rather than the worse implications, but travel insurance shouldn’t be taken for granted this year. It’ll be a great idea to research some travel insurance policies prior to departure or booking, as the right choice in policy could cover medical costs and even medical transport back home, in the event of a passenger becoming severely ill, whether or not due to the pandemic. In fact, look into your specific destination, because many resorts, such as Sandals are offering complimentary travel insurance to their guests for an added layer of flexibility and peace of mind in these times.
Wear a Face Mask
This travel accessory that for many was first observed in international airport terminals should not be overlooked this year, as it has become one of the most effective tools in the fight against all viruses, not to mention that its utilization has become a requirement in most places such as airports, airplanes, hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, and indoor attractions. It’s suggested that those choosing to travel for the holidays embrace face mask culture or choose to stay home. So, plan ahead! Coordinate masks with your traveling party or commission some personalized masks; just be sure to pack several, ensuring a clean, effective, and stylish accessory every time.
Actively Practice Social Distancing
Ignoring the pandemic, nothing is worse than anticipating a trip for months or weeks, packing, stressing about getting to the airport on time, and getting sneezed on in public or noticing that the passenger near you has been sneezing for the past minute, thus you attive sick on day one. That can be mitigated every year by maintaining a safe distance of six feet between yourself and others, but special attention should be paid to the practice this year, especially if you’re traveling in a high-traffic hub like a train station or airport. Remember, the CDC’s updated guidelines define “close contact” as being within six feet of someone with the virus for a cumulative total of fifteen minutes or more over a period of 24 hours, so be practical, yet mindful!
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There’s nothing quite like setting out on the open road for a classic American Road Trip. As outlined by Travel + Leisure in the full list, as liberating as a road trip can be, there are classic road trip mistakes to avoid so that your trip can be as effective and memorable as possible. Below are a few essential avoidants to take care of before setting off
Road Trip Mistake-Leaving Home Without a Cooler of Snacks and Drinks
There’s little else more frustrating than being 5% into your cross-country trip and needing to stop immediately to appease one traveler’s hunger pains due to the family’s inability to plan. Chances are, there are plenty of gas stations and fast food joints along the way, but a trip sustained by burgers, fries, candy, and chips will get old fast. Pack a cooler with pre-cut veggies and fruit, nuts, sandwiches, and of course, some healthy snacks. To keep you hydrated and lightly caffeinated on a long day, try caffeinated sparkling water.
Road Trip Mistake-Planning Every Moment with No Room for Spontaneity
Roadtrips are liberating and free, made possible by a schedule that leaves essential wiggle room for the frivolous. One of the best parts of road tripping is having the freedom to stop, explore, and reroute at any moment. “Once you plan out your trip, you can always deviate from your plan, but it’s a good idea to do some research ahead of time to get the most out of your trip,” said Sanna Boman, editor-in-chief at Roadtrippers. “Road trips are all about the journey — of course, time or budget constraints can dictate the route, but detours and unexpected stops are often the most memorable moments from a trip.”
Road Trip Mistake-Not Stopping Often to Stretch Your Legs
Keeping your mind’s eye on your final destination tends to tempt the driver to drive straight through, contributing to burnout and missing out on the attractions and opportunities you’re passing up. Side trips and highway attractions are a big part of road tripping — you never know when you’ll come across an Airbnb that’s shaped like a giant beagle or pass a beautiful hike that’s right off the road. To keep your mind fresh to focus on driving safely, I recommend stopping once an hour to move around and stretch, whether that means getting gas or grabbing a cup of coffee, then enjoying a 30-minute break every four to five hours for a short walk or hike,” said Dr. Suzanne Bartlett-Hackenmiller, an integrative medicine physician and the medical advisor for AllTrails.“
Road Trip Mistake–Forgetting to Download Maps, Entertainment, and Apps
If you want to avoid data charges at the end of your trip, you’ll need to download everything over Wi-Fi before you leave. Andrew Moore-Crispin, director of content at Ting Mobile, recommends downloading your maps on Google Maps in advance, so you don’t have to use data (or need it) to navigate. The same goes for Spotify playlists and any shows or movies you’ll need to keep young road trippers entertained.
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You don’t want to be caught off guard if your airline provides movies you aren’t a huge fan of.
“Before heading to the airport, I like to download a few hours of shows, movies, and podcasts to take my mind off the airport chaos,” Guilfoyle said. “Emiratesactually allows passengers to create their in-flight playlist before heading onboard. All they have to do is log in to The Emirates App and create a playlist from Emirates’ 4,500 channels of movies, shows, podcasts, and music. Once onboard, simply sync the playlist to the seatback TV and enjoy hours of non-stop entertainment.”
Make sure to check your airline’s website before heading to the airport to see what entertainment options are available to you.
“What’s worse than losing luggage? A dead phone. I recommend packing a portable charger to avoid drained batteries or wandering through the airport searching for an outlet,” Guilfoyle said.
Travel Tip-Try to exercise or at least stretch before departure
“Long haul flights can mean fatigue, grogginess, and poor blood circulation,” she said. “If possible, try to exercise before a flight.” If you don’t have time you could always try doing a few pushups in the air too.
Leave earlier than you think you need to
Missing a flight is probably the worst thing that could happen when you’re traveling. Make sure to leave with more than enough time to make it through security and bag check. Plus, you’ll have plenty of time to grab a coffee pre-flight, which is always a win.
“Time is a major stress factor for travelers. Do what you can to get ahead — whether it’s packing the day before, leaving your office early, or getting a head start on traffic,” Guilfoyle explained. “If you’re traveling with other people, don’t be afraid to tell them to show up earlier than you plan on leaving to give yourselves a cushion.”
Make some time for yourself
“In between the chaos of a crowded airport during the holidays, be sure to take some time for yourself,” Guilfoyle astutely noted. “Whether it’s meditation, putting on a facemask or treating yourself to a nice dinner, give yourself time to take a breath and recalibrate your emotions.”
Dress for Comfort
Comfort is key! Who wants to be traveling in jeans and dress shoes when you could be wearing leggings or sweats?
“Over the years, I’ve come to realize how important it is to dress for comfort when traveling. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes for rushing through the airport or walking to and from your car, wear layers to prepare for any temperature, and making sure your outfit is one you can relax in for a 16-plus hour flight,” she said. “When you’re rushing to catch a flight, the last thing you want to worry about is a broken heel or itchy top.”
Big Travel Tip-Catch up on sleep
A long plane ride is the perfect place to catch up on some sleep!
“My top recommendation? Snag noise-cancelling headphones and flip up your ‘do not disturb’ sign to make sure your zzz’s are uninterrupted.”
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A lot of turkey wishbones – and travel records – are set to be broken during the Thanksgiving holiday this year. The following information from this article states, AAA expects 54.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the holiday, a 4.8 percent increase over last year and the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005. For the 48.5 million Americans expected to travel by car over the holiday, the best advice is: leave early. In the most congested cities, the Thanksgiving drive could take four times longer than on a ‘normal’ travel day, predicts INRIX, a mobility analytics company. Traffic at airports and in the skies will break records as well. The 12-day Thanksgiving air travel period is already under way, and trade organization Airlines for America predicts a record 30.6 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines. That’s up from the estimated 29 million passengers who flew during Thanksgiving last year. The Transportation Security Administration expects to screen 25 million people between Wednesday and Sunday, a 7 percent increase over last year.
HOW WEATHER WILL IMPACT TRAVEL
The weather will cooperate for a majority of those traveling by road or air for the Thanksgiving holiday, with some exceptions in the northeastern and western United States. The American Automobile Association (AAA) is projecting that 54.3 million will travel 50 miles or more away from home for the Thanksgiving holiday this year. Even in the absence of disruptive weather, the sheer volume of vehicles on the road in congested metro areas may cause travel time to double, triple or quadruple, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. People traveling for the holiday can download the AccuWeather app to find out exactly when the weather could add further slow downs to their journey. Snowflakes to fly in Northeast The early taste of winter is expected to continue across the Northeast with batches of snow sweeping through the area and possibly lead to slick travel on occasion in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Motorists should prepare for possibly slick and snow-covered portions of interstates 75, 81, 87, 90, 91 and 95 in the days ahead. The greatest disruptions to travel may occur Monday night into Tuesday from portions of Pennsylvania to Maine as a storm takes shape and lays a swath of accumulating snow. Snow showers will also riddle the eastern Great Lakes and central Appalachians on Tuesday, potentially reducing visibility on the roadways. Yet another round of snow is expected across parts of the Northeast on Wednesday. “There is concern that snow squalls could greatly reduce visibility and quickly coat roadways on Wednesday’s busy travel day across the interior Northeast,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis. “These squalls may not just be limited to areas downwind of the Great Lakes but may streak eastward to northeastern Pennsylvania and/or the Hudson Valley and western New England.” These type of weather situations are notorious for causing chain-reaction accidents. Meanwhile in the Midwest, patches of light freezing drizzle may break out later Wednesday and Wednesday night, creating slick patches for motorists, especially on bridges and overpasses. Rain to dampen travel in southeastern Texas Travelers in southeastern Texas may contend with reduced visibility and ponding of water on the roadways as downpours cross the area at the start of the week. “There is the possibility of wet roads and perhaps minor airline delays in Houston,” Sosnowski added. This includes on Monday afternoon, which is the worst time for Thanksgiving travel in the Houston metro area, according to AAA. A press of drier air will shunt the rainfall southward on Tuesday, leading to a good day for travel along the Interstate 10 corridor from San Antonio to Houston. This dry press may hold firm on Wednesday, with damp conditions likely being held to southern and coastal Texas. Storm to arrive along West Coast at midweek Reduced visibility from wildfire smoke will be the main concern for travelers in California on Monday and Tuesday. However, a pattern change will bring needed rainfall to the state starting on Wednesday. While rain is not normally a welcome idea during busy travel times and near the holiday, any rain with a lack of strong winds would greatly favor firefighting efforts and reduce the risk of new fires igniting, according to Sosnowski. Despite the good news of rainfall, motorists will face slick roads as oil buildup from weeks of dry weather mixes with the rain. Heavy snow is expected over the Sierra Nevada by the end of Wednesday. Travelers over I-80’s Donner Summit should anticipate snow-covered roads, reduced visibility and possible closures. Rain will also spread into Portland, Oregon, and Seattle at midweek, heightening the risk of minor travel delays.
TRAVEL TIPS FOR THE AIRPORT
As with driving or going anywhere over the holiday, the key advice for flying is: leave for the airport early. That not only helps reduce stress, but builds in extra time for all those things that can go wrong, such as discovering your favorite airport parking lot is already filled up or there’s a hiccup with your airline ticket. TSA officials say new screening technologies, coupled with additional canine teams and more than 1,200 more TSA officers will help with the increased volume of passengers at airport security checkpoints this year. But there may still be long, slow-moving lines at many airports. To make sure you’re not the person holding up the line, take some extra time when prepping and packing to make sure your carry-on items are checkpoint-savvy. Dress for success: Transfer small items, such as wallets, phones and keys, from your pockets to your carry-on before you get to the checkpoint. Wear shoes or boots that are easy to take off and put back on. Download and print your boarding pass. Putting your boarding pass on your mobile phone means one less paper to keep track of but a paper version is good back-up in case your phone loses its charge while you’re waiting on a long line, or if the checkpoint scanner can’t read the downloaded version of your pass. Review the rules. If you’re an infrequent traveler, find a quart-sized clear bag and take a moment to read TSA’s primer on the liquids rule. Charge up your phone and other travel gadgets, including one or more back-up chargers, before you leave home. While airports have added more power ports, finding an empty one can still be a challenge. Show up with a power cord with extra plugs, and you’ll be a hero. Download the apps for your airline and all airports you’re traveling through and sign up for the alerts for each of your flights. Get numbers. Make a list of all the phone numbers you might need for your trip. The list should include not only your airline, but also the rental car or shuttle company you’ve booked with, your hotel, the person picking you up and the person who dropped you off (in case you left something behind). Put those numbers in your phone and on paper. Pack extras. Bring along snacks, a hefty amount of patience, and your sense of humor. Add a stash of ‘mad money’ to your wallet. That way, if something goes wrong despite all your planning and preparation, you’ll be able to buy yourself or your family a stress-busting treat. If you’re traveling with food to eat during your journey or with a turkey or something else destined for the Thanksgiving table, you will likely be asked to take it out of your bag and put it in a separate bin for a ride through the x-ray machine. TSA allows turkeys, turkey sandwiches, pies, cakes and other baked through the checkpoints, but foodstuffs that are liquid, such as jellies and cranberry sauce, need to travel in checked bags. Unsure if your food is a liquid or gel? TSA’s “What can I bring” tool, available online and as an app, can help – and you can send a question about a specific item to @AskTSA on Twitter.
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We asked the airfare expert: What are the cheapest times to fly? The time of year you fly matters. Just ask anyone who’s traveled the same route at Thanksgiving vs. any other time of the year and they’ll tell you stories about November holiday fares costing three, four or five times the usual rate. The days of the week you fly matter, too, and it matters year-round. For U.S. domestic flights, the cheapest days to fly are usually Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. For flights to Europe, weekdays tend to be cheaper than weekends. These examples show round-trip fares for travel in June. You can’t always save a third to half-off on airfare as the following examples show by flying the cheapest days but you can usually save something. Try juggling different dates to find the best/cheapest combination. The first step for all airfare shoppers is to compare prices on your route on your preferred dates, then try different day-of-week combinations to see how much you can bring them down. Don’t pass up any savings; you can put those funds to much better use during your vacation. Also, air fare to Europe are currently at historic lows. If you were thinking of going abroad, this might be the perfect time, but why not save every last dollar you’re entitled to by flying the cheapest days of the week? Check out the examples below:
This biggest complaint regarding air travel is the delicate and time-consuming trek through security which is why we want to share this simple travel hack. It’s stressful and annoying and frankly, seems unfair that something outside of your control could affect your travel so much. During just one week in March, nearly 6,800 American Airline passengers missed their flights due to these checkpoints alone. We have found the best way to SIGNIFICANTLY cut down the time it takes you to get through. Anyone can take advantage of this hack but if you are an avid traveler for business or pleasure, you especially need to read on.
We found that the rate of people who are signing up for TSA Precheck by IdentoGO is quickly rising as the word spreads. With TSA Precheck, trusted travelers can leave their shoes, belts, and jackets on, and keep their liquids and laptops in their bag as it gets scanned. It eliminates the stress, and the hassle and makes the process much faster, too. This past April, 92% of travelers with TSA Precheck waited less than 5 minutes. FIVE MINUTES! That’s a lot less than the regular line and surely prevented several missed flights.
The best part is that TSA Precheck lasts 5 full years, but it only takes about 15 minutes to get signed up. All you have to do is fill out a form online to start your application, and visit an office near you to give your fingerprints. No need to go all the way to the airport—unless you live near one and it’s more convenient for you. It only costs $85 for 5 full years. That’s only $17 a year! And if you have kids under 12, they’re free. Fast, convenient, and affordable, it’s the easiest travel hack out there yet many don’t take advantage of it. Do yourself a favor and sign up today!
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