Savvy Travel Adventures from My Lens

TRAVEL TIPS

Travel Etiquette: My Top 5 Travel Pet Peeves

Travel can be a wonderful, fun, and cool experience, but it does not come without challenges.  I was recently inspired by One Brown Girl, mastermind of the Traveling Brown Girls Carnival, which asks a number of Brown girls who write about travel to share their top 5 travel pet peeves.  Being the Travelista that I am, with a heavily stamped passport,  I was motivated to blog on my Top 5 Travel Pet Peeves.  After reading my Top 5, please leave comments below and let me know what your peeves are.

1.  The “First Class is Not For You” look.

Over the years, I have traveled in First or Business class for business and personal trips.  As a former airline employee, I often received the “First Class is Not for You” look, both from flight attendants and other passengers.   While first class is now primarily dominated by very high-value frequent flyers and business travelers, and upgrades are almost impossible to get, the premium cabin is still open to everyone.  There have been occasions, particularly on long-haul international flights, where I was asked by other travelers why or how I got into first class.  Passengers in first class should be treated equally, regardless of their frequent flyer status, ticket class, etc.

2. Hotels with unclean, tattered, or low quality linen.

Yes, I said it.  To my horror, I have had the misfortune to stay at hotels on occasion that did not wash the comforters or sheets.  I do not want to stay in a room with linen soiled with lipstick, hair, odors and other things too gross to detail here, that do not belong to me:)   Also hate hotels that skimp on the quantity and quality of wash clothes and towels.  Old, hard, holey not acceptable.  At a bare minimum, hotels must offer guests clean, comfortable, and safe accommodations.

3. Taking my shoes off for TSA security clearance.

Safety when traveling is of utmost importance, but removing my shoes and exposing my socks and/or feet (if I’ve forgotten to bring hosiery or socks) to dirty airport floors is one of my top peeves.   No one has any idea how often airport floors are cleaned and sanitized or about the cleanliness of the 2,000,000 or more passengers who has walked the path before you, on that day.

4.  The sick traveler, spreading germs…

Yes, I know we all get sick, and sometimes traveling when sick cannot be avoided.  I absolutely detest sitting in a confined space with a traveler who coughs and sneezes the entire flight, no tissue or sanitizer in sight.   On one international 10-hour flight, I was so luck to travel directly in front of another traveler who looked and sounded like flu, she coughed and sneezed for the entire flight.  While I cannot prove it, 2 days later, I took came down with fever, chills, cough and the flu goodness.    If you know you’re contagious, please stay off a plane!  It simply is not courteous to other passengers and employees you may come in contact with.

5. Airports and hotels with no free wifi/very expensive wifi.

The travel experience can be challenging and time consuming on a good day, throw in weather delays or flight cancellations and it can be a lot worse.  It is important to be able to stay productive and connected to work, family, and friends when you’re on the road. Charging exorbitant rates for wifi in airports and hotels, is just plain wrong.  The most exorbitant rate….on a business trip to Europe, $32 per day for hotel Wifi access, that’s just not cool.

Last pet peeve, which I will not go into here is unruly, screaming children on planes.  I love children, and it’s a sensitive topic, so I will not officially add it to my list.  I will just say that some parents do not exercise any control over their children, and it is a fact that children screaming, kicking, and refusing to sit down are disturbing and stressful to other passengers.     Thank you for listening to me rant, it’s been fun.  I hope you’ll join me in sharing your travel pet peeves.


Travel Tip: Dressing with Savvy While Traveling

It’s time….life has kept me really busy.  Today’s feature post is about dressing with savvy while traveling.  I was inspired by a recent CNN article, ” Why Look like a Slob While Traveling?.     If you are like me, you people watch while in airports and on airplanes, it can be fascinating.   First, we’ll start with what NOT to wear:

1.  Lingerie/pajamas

2. Sweat pants or cutoff sweat pants

3. Ladies:  See-thru clothing of any kind

4. Men:  baggy pants or jeans revealing your body parts or underwear

5. Tshirts with offensive, lewd, or foul language

6.  Clothing that is too small or too tight

7.  Never wear white.  (Generally very difficult to keep clean in the airport and airplane space)

8.  No headscarves, headwraps, etc.

Historically, airline travel was synonymous with professional, business, or church attire for both men and women.  As we evolved into the 90’s, this trend changed dramatically.    What we see today is a reflection of the evolution of society and our values, with individuals not adhering to any norms.     Now, moving along to my advice for travelers..here are some tips to assist with wardrobe selection.

1.  Comfort is king! (Choose fabrics that are comfortable, lightweight and wrinkle-resistant)

2. Clothing should be clean and pressed!

3.  Choose solid colors in black or neutral tones.  (No USA flags, stars, stripes)

4.  Wear comfortable shoes.  (Shoes made for walking, not the 5 inch heels some women wear to the club)

5. Bring along a sweater, jacket, or scarf for layering as temperatures vary inflight.

In closing, travel is fun and adventurous, however , the way we dress while traveling does not need to be over the top.  While travel attire is a personal choice, we need to remember clothing is a reflection of who we are (our personal brand).  Traveling is now a commodity, in a public space, and our attire should not be offensive to TSA, airline employees,  or other travelers, particularly children.    I welcome your feedback on this topic, make it a great week!


Travel Tip: Traveling Solo with Savvy….

To keep it totally real, how many of us have ever traveled solo?  Alone.  Without spouse, children, friends, pets…..   I begin with the question, who says traveling alone cannot be fun?  It’s bold, it’s adventurous, and actually can be fun.  I am one of the minority tried and true solo travelers.  Some of my very best trips have been alone.    I choose to travel alone sometimes.  Why?  Because sometimes I just need to do me.  Relax, rejuvenate, and unwind without the pressures of trip planning and fulfilling others expectations.  Traveling solo really is one of the best kept secrets:)

This post is really to share with other travelers that it really is OK to travel solo.   Not having a spouse or travel companions should not deter anyone from enjoying the experience that is a vacation.    When I recently travelled to Anguilla, I was traveling solo.  So much fun relaxing on the beach, attending cocktail parties, boating, making new friends, and simply being me, on my time and on my schedule.    I would advise women traveling alone to always be mindful of your surroundings, avoid consuming too much alcohol (enough said) , choose your hotel accommodations wisely (research and reviews on Tripadvisor), and avoid broadcasting that you’re traveling alone (so you don’t get unwanted male visitors at all hours of the night).  By all means enjoy yourself.   Traveling savvy means travel with an air of confidence, enjoy your trip, meet new people, find things to absorb your time and interests, discover new cuisine, but most importantly embrace the experience.

Life is meant to be lived fully.  Laugh.  Smile.  Love.  Be true to yourself.  Don’t put off a day of your life waiting for the right moment.  There is no right moment.  Don’t put off that vacation you’ve always wanted to take, to wait for a spouse, lover, friend, or relative to travel with you.  JUST GO!    Calling all solo travelers….travel savvy!


Travel Tips: Top 3 Destinations that Changed My Life

As I mentioned in my last post, time seems to be flying by at lightening speed.   The top 3 destinations that were life-changing for me, all for very different reasons are:

1. Capetown, South Africa

2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3.  Anguilla

Now, I will spend a little time sharing my travel experiences in these destinations, and why they changed my life.

South Africa

Traveling to South Africa was a huge dream for me, I wanted to see the continent of Africa, wanted to feel a connection to African ancestry.  In 1999, I traveled to Capetown, a 21 hour journey from Atlanta, with a brief stop in Johannesburg.  My most vivid memory is the highway right outside the airport, on each side there were shanty towns.  Miles of metal shacks, small (5 x 5), no electricity, no running water, no ability to receive mail, packed.  For the first time in my life, I cried.  I cried for the African people, for what I perceived they did not have, and for my inability to make a difference at that moment.    That moment, that scene touched me more than any other place I’ve traveled to.   We visited Robben Island, deeply touched to see the prison where President Nelson Mandela spent over 30 years of his adult life.  We also did all of the normal tourist attractions, Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, the wine country, a safari on a private game ranch, and the wine country.    There are two other gems….The first, that Apartheid was over, in principle only, racism was still very much alive.  The caste system based on skin color within the South African communities still divided the blacks vs. coloreds.  As we learned, blacks were not allowed to marry coloreds, work in professional positions, or vote.  Most dropped out of school at young ages to help support their families.  Coloreds, with lighter skin tones, are afforded education, wealth, and voting/political rights.  We were told that 70% of the black population in South Africa was completely illiterate, without the ability to read or write.  This fact would keep blacks from holding professional jobs, holding political office, and lacking the resources for education and elevation.  Everything I saw and heard was very different from what is portrayed in the media.  I was most touched by this journey, and by meeting people who lived lives happy, regardless of their circumstances.  Happy without all of the “necessities”  and privileges we live with here in the U.S.  I promised myself to never again take certain things for granted (food, water, shelter, clothing, education, health care).

Rio de Janeiro

In the early nineties, I traveled for the first time to Rio with friends and a thirst for adventure travel.   Rio is a city of fun, parties, beaches, drinks, carnival, and beautiful people.   I was struck by the extraordinary beauty of the Portuguese people, their smiles, and lively spirits.  In Rio, we also encountered high levels of poverty and crime.  What I remember most, during a tour, is the story of the 500,000 homeless children living in slums and shanties.  In Rio, children are often put out at the age of 5, as the family grows and the parents are no longer able to provide for multiple children.   These children live together in large numbers, they are exposed to prostitution, crime, murder, panhandling, pedophiles, and other unimaginable dangers at such young ages.  It was life changing to see how others live, in poverty, without basic necessities that we take for granted.  Safe shelter, food, water, clean clothes.  No play dates, video games, books, playgrounds, trips to Chuck E. Cheese or McDonald’s.  Brazil touched me, my heart broke for these children, my prayers went out to them.

Anguilla

Anguilla is a very tiny island in the British West Indies, just off the coast of St. Maarten and St. Barths, few have visited or even heard of.  The island is only 35 square mile, 16 miles long, and 3 miles wide at the widest point. This very special place is like my second home.  The beaches, with the most amazing turquoise waters and white powdery sand, are to die for.   It is a luxury destination catering to celebrities and the wealthy.   Michael Jordan.  Mariah Carey.  Jennifer Aniston.   Sandra Bullock.  Beyonce. Jay-Z.  So you would ask, how did I end up there, since I’m not a celebrity, and definitely not wealthy.   I happened to discover Anguilla on the internet, saw pictures, and decided that I must make the trip.    Anguilla requires a 3 and half hour flight nonstop from Atlanta to St. Maarten, followed by a 12 minute ferry ride from St. Maarten.  It is a long journey, but so worth it, in every way.  The beaches are quiet, safe, without lots of tourists, the water is clear, and you can totally relax.   It is here that I found peace at a time in my life when I needed it most.  Everyone I met greeted me with a smile, asked if it was my first trip to the island, and asked me to please come again.  Anguilla is known for beaches and cuisine.  I spent time, made friends, ate fresh Lobster and fish on the beach, and indulged in rum punches and mango coladas daily.  I make a trip to Anguilla every year….to rest, to relax, to visit friends, to meditate, and whatever it is I need to restore….Anguilla is truly a state of mind, tranquility at the highest.

Today, I found out about my first ever blog nomination- the versatile blog award.

Big thanks to Black Helios for the nomination and for giving me the push and encouragement to do blogging more often. Thank you so much for the kind gesture!

By the way this is the link going to his amazing blog <

http://blackhelios.wordpress.com/

7 Things About Myself

I’m in to Photography

Travel is my passion

Love beaches

Love cupcakes

Love dogs

Chocolate is my weakness

Live jazz is my music of choice

More to come….


Spotlight: Airplane Etiquette

Airplane Etiquette 101:  Suggestions from a Former Flight Attendant

So I recently found a great article on Airplane Etiquette 101 by James Wysong…very humorous, but good things for all of us to remember.  When traveling, we need to remember to treat each other with common courtesy….Here are a few highlights:

1. How to recline your seat back
Some passengers mistake their airplane seat for Old Dad’s ancient recliner. They press the button on the armrest, and then slam the seat back with enough force to send drinks and laptops flying into the lap of the passenger behind them. When that passenger is on the tall side, the maneuver is sometimes accompanied by the sound of cracking knees. All this commotion is unnecessary. The unwritten rule is to make a “looking behind you” motion and then recline slowly, giving the person behind you time to react.

2. Where to stow your carry-on
When boarding, some passengers put their carry-on bag in the first available overhead bin — never mind that their seat is in the back of the airplane. This forces the passenger who does sit up front to cram his carry-on in the tiny space at his feet. Unwritten rule: Stow your bag in the general vicinity of your seat. But there’s a wrinkle: Don’t insist that the overhead bin directly above your seat is yours. Many people like to stow their bag in the bin in front of them so they can keep an eye on it. That is both sensible and fair.

3. What to wear on an airplane
Air travel has become more casual in recent years, and so has the attire. While more casual clothes are more comfortable, passengers sometimes go too far. I consider myself fairly liberal, but do I really need to be reading “Squeeze My Juicy Melons” on the front of a busty female’s T-shirt? And then, when I do, is it fair to glare at me for noticing the fruit? Unwritten rule: Dress as if your parents were along for the trip.

4. What to do about the armrest
Too many people play “King of the Armrest.” In this game, you claim the armrest by putting your arm on it first; when you relinquish it — even for a second — your seat neighbor claims it with one deft move. Maybe it’s because the seats are getting smaller that people feel so compelled to defend the little space they have left. Here’s the unwritten rule: The passengers in the window seat and aisle seat each get one armrest, but the poor squashed soul in the middle seat gets access to both.

5. How to display your affection in public
Now, there’s the romantic kiss, and then there is the virtual face lick. I agree that the world needs more affection, but if your amorous actions are making your seat partners queasy, the unwritten rule is: “Get a room!

6. What to do about the kids
Being a parent is a wonderful thing, and being a responsible parent is a blessing — especially to everyone around you on an airplane. Faced with the challenge of controlling youthful enthusiasm in a confined space — sometimes for hours on end — too many parents shrug their shoulders or plug in their iPods. Result? The kids run around unattended, kick the seat in front of them, pitch fits, throw peanuts and play their electronic games way too loud. The unwritten rule? Parents have to really try to maintain order. Conversely, if you are not traveling with kids: Have a heart. Sometimes kids just unravel — no matter how hard you try. Besides, you were a kid once, too.

7. When to go to the bathroom
You can’t always control your need to visit the lavatory, but there are times when it’s inconvenient for others to get out of their seat to give you access to the aisle. The drink and meal service is one of those times, especially on a single-aisle aircraft. If you let the flight attendants do their thing and get up before or after, everyone wins. Wasn’t there an old “Seinfeld” episode about this very topic?

8. What to do about the window shade
A lot of travelers on long flights like to close their window shade so they can sleep, but a handful of folks prefer to keep the shade up so they can read, work or just look out the window. It may be annoying to have the full glare of the sun in your eyes when you’re trying to sleep, but nobody should be forced to keep a shade shut for somebody else’s naptime. The real problem is with those who are constantly opening and shutting their window shade. The unwritten rule here is: Make up your mind. People can adjust to your steady light but not to your indecision.

9. How to chat up your neighbor
Nobody likes a Chatty Cathy in flight, especially a loud one, and especially on a night flight. If your conversation with a willing neighbor goes on for more than 10 minutes, take it to the back of the airplane and finish it there. You could probably use a stretch, and your seat neighbors probably need a rest.

10. How to leave the lavatory
Does this really need saying? Most airplane lavatories are smelly, dirty and germy — how could they not be with so many people using them in so short a time? That doesn’t mean that you have to add to the mess. The unwritten rule is to leave the lavatory as clean as you found it, which means at least wiping out the sink with a paper towel. And those of you with bad aim, wipe it up!

11. How to use your cell phone on an airplane
Nobody wants to hear about your big business deal or your hot date while they’re boarding the plane or taxiing down the runway. Keep your voice down. (Believe me when I tell you: Everyone around you is listening.)

12. How to deal with a seat kicker
Not all seat kickers are children; there are plenty of tall, bored and just plain inconsiderate seat kickers out there, too. There are also those who retaliate for a reclined seat by giving it a good thump from time to time. Unwritten rule: Don’t do it. If you’re the victim, convey your annoyance as nicely as possible; if that doesn’t work, move to a different seat or notify a flight attendant. I once was traveling back from Australia with a 6-year-old who did a nonstop tap dance on the back of my seat while his mother did — nothing. I promised him $10 if he refrained from kicking for the rest of the flight. It worked. His mother was not too pleased with my act of bribery, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

13. Dealing with odors.
Airplanes are small confined spaces, dealing with odors is inevitable.  Odors cover the gamut of bodily-function-related offenses, as well as smelly feet, wearing of strong perfumes or colognes, and consuming strong or pungent foods.  Try to be considerate of those around you.

14. Say please and thank you.
Whether you’re asking for a $10 box of cheese and crackers or asking your neighbor to let you crawl over them to the aisle, politeness is imperative. A routine “thank you” on your way off the plane reportedly goes a long way.

The key to in-flight etiquette — like all etiquette — is to remember that you are not alone. Some consideration for your fellow man is all that you really need to get along. I would say that most of us have that, but we will always remember those who don’t.

To read Airplane Etiquette 101 in full, pls click here.


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Spotlight: Global Entry Program

Spotlight: Global Entry Program

Global Entry is a program offered by U.S. Customs and Immigration to streamline the process for entering the U.S. at international airports across the country.  I joined Global Entry in 2010, and highly recommend it for frequent international travelers.  To read more from this LA Times article, click here.  For more information on enrolling in Global Entry, you can visit www.globalentry.gov/


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Spotlight: How Not to Behave On An Airplane

Spotlight: How Not to Behave On An Airplane

Check out Lonely Planet’s article on “How Not to Behave On an Airplane:  a Passenger’s Bill of Rights.”

Here are the highlights:

The Passengers’ Airplane Behavior Bill of Rights

Article I: The right to remove shoes
Passengers shall be allowed to remove shoes from their feet, but only if the aforementioned feet don’t stink or present health risks to other passengers. The right of the passenger to go to the lavatory without shoes shall not be infringed, as it is really your own business should you want to stand in the urine of others.

Article II: Freedom from unreasonable aromatic assault
No passenger shall, in the time of flight, be subjected to unreasonable aromas, be it from powerful perfume, foods redolent of onion, or other fragrance wholly unnecessary whilst on an airplane.

Article III: The right to reasonable light
All passengers shall be allowed the right to use their own overhead light to read when the cabin lights are turned off, as that is its intended use. No passenger shall be unwillingly bothered by the thoughtless opening of window shades during this period; window seat passengers are not delegated the power to blind their fellow passengers.

Article IV: The article of reclension
A well-justified act of reclining one’s seat shall not be prohibited at all times, apart from meal time and other times specified by the flight crew. All instances of reclension shall be preceded by a rearward glance so as not to unwittingly crush the patellas or portable electronic devices of the affected passenger.

Article V: Freedom of no speech
There shall be no requirement for other passengers to listen to you drone on about your child, cat or other subject not directly germane to an immediate inflight emergency situation. The right of other passengers to give you the ‘book-off’ shall not be infringed, nor shall you assist with the answer to 14-across if unprompted.

Article VI: The right to bear armrests
In all cases where an armrest is shared by two adjacent passengers, both parties must respect the right of the other to keep the armrest down. Passengers relegated to a middle seat shall be afforded special status, and aisle and window passengers shall endeavour to accommodate.

Article VII: Conditions of passenger quarters
Passengers shall not be subject to the rubbish of others crammed thoughtlessly into seat-back pockets, or tossed onto the floor in a cavalier fashion. Chewing gum shall not be pressed to any surface affixed to an aircraft.

Article VIII: The right to heed the call of nature
A well-organised attempt to use the lavatory, being necessary for inflight calm and gastrointestinal health, shall not be impeded by aisle passengers sleeping or otherwise. The rights of others waiting to use a lavatory shall supersede the frankly ill-advised wishes of current lavatory users to waste time poking around said lavatory.

Article IX: Provisions concerning use of electronic devices
The assurance of safety shall not be infringed by the desires of others to make one last phone call, update their social network status to brag about their impending holiday, or to plant cauliflower in their virtual farm. Whilst MythBusters and others have debunked most potential dangers of using common electronic devices on planes, safety and calm shall take precedence.

Article X: Cruel and unnecessary aisle clogging
No passenger shall, in the time of disembarking, hastily grab their bag and congest the exit route before actual movement is possible. Likewise, when it comes time to exit, no passenger shall unaccountably act surprised that it is their turn to leave.

Article XI: Freedom from feral children
The right of passengers not to be kicked in the back, have their hair pulled, be presented with unasked-for mucous-moistened objects, or be otherwise assaulted by feral children shall not be infringed. Crying babies cannot be held accountable for their actions, and are therefore exempt.

Article XII: The right of reasonable alcohol consumption
No person, apart from those who are drunk and obnoxious or minors, shall be prohibited from imbibing an alcoholic beverage should they feel that it is a good idea, despite all indications to the contrary.

Article XIII: The right to private media
Reading over others’ shoulders shall not be inflicted, unless achieved in a particularly stealthy fashion causing no annoyance to the book holder. The same shall be true for films and other non-private media.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/blog/2011/07/13/how-not-to-behave-on-an-airplane-a-passengers-bill-of-rights/#ixzz1uoqK5bUl