Snippets from the Road

Snippets from the RoadThings I Love

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

Thank YouThank You Word Cloud printed on colorful paper different languages

Another year of wedded bliss being celebrated?  Not quite.

In April of 2012, I launched Travel with Teri B as a blog on Google blogger.  See how it started below:

And how’s it going (I presume you asked)?  Well, 257 posts later, I’m still at it.  It is something with which I have great pride because some marriages don’t last 10 years.  That said, I do occasionally wonder if I should keep this up.  But I then focus — most importantly — on the kind words and amazing feedback received which is enough inspiration to continue sharing stories with family and friends and anyone else who might be interested.  One can just image my joy when I see that a post has nearly 5,000 views.

So here we go, off on another post tax season trip!   Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Oslo & Stockholm (and parts unknown within the region), then long-belated family time in Italy when we meet up with our kids in Florence.  It’s really a joy to continue doing this and I (still) thank you for traveling along with me.

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP FOR TRAVEL!

good-news

Have you missed traveling or stayed at home due to all the restrictions imposed (not to mention current “world affairs”)?  Then there’s good news to share. More and more countries are opening their borders without quarantine mandates as conveyed in a recent column on travel site wendyperrin.com.

That’s about the best news we could hope for. This blog does not weigh in on the “politics” of travel (as in “is it ok to go to a country with policies one might find unacceptable?”). Rather the job at hand is to write about my travel plans, where we’ve been, and how to navigate and explore this world of ours with all its complexities.

Now on to the latest. First up on the most recent list (the site also links to an earlier list in February) is Iceland — our jumping off destination for this year’s big trip! Following Iceland we head to the Faroe Islands principally for two reasons: 1) When would we ever get back to see the magnificent scenery? and 2) The islands are en route to Norway, another of our planned destinations.

I’ll pause to give a brief shout out to a travel expert I’ve engaged for Iceland and the Faroes.  And that’s another reason to follow Wendy’s site, which is where I found Chris Gordon of Icepedition.

When contemplating visits to some regions, I have no problem engaging experts.  This is one of those situations.  Chris has mapped out our itinerary and secured many of the bookings for both Iceland and the Faroes.  He covers Greenland as well but advised us there’s not much to see in April.  We worked well as a team and I look forward to sharing the stories very soon!

So what’s the takeaway?   2022 is open for business in the world of travel.  There are tons of places to go, new hotels open, and an industry that is in need of support.  Make plans NOW.

“DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE WORLD ENDING TODAY  …

  it’s already tomorrow in Australia.”     ~ Charles M. Schulz

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

Managing a Travel Calamity

tsa

Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling when you’re just about at the airport and you realize something is wrong but there’s no time to fix it?  Well, so have I.  Here’s what happened.

For the family Thanksgiving trip (to Charleston and Savannah), we allowed ample time to depart a very busy LAX on Sunday.  I typically use a small wallet for traveling rather than carry my larger (heavier) everyday version.  Somehow the small wallet was misplaced, so I simply took my regular wallet.

Because I had not gone through the contents until we were five minutes from the airport, I didn’t realize my driver’s license was missing.  Oh, my — panic starts to well up.  It is nowhere to be found.  I thought about the last time I used it.  It was earlier that week at a UCLA game where I had to show proof of vaccination along with photo ID.  I’m guessing I somehow dropped it at that point.

No worries; I have my Passport on my phone so I figure that will suffice.  Indeed, American issued our boarding passes.  But then the fun began at TSA.  “Ma’am, you’ll have to leave the pre-check line and go to the regular line.”  You know — the endless one.

At the front of that line I was told I needed to wait for a supervisor, who was summoned.  And then the minutes are passing by.  I still have plenty of time but my mind is doing sommersalts.  So I start to press:  “Can you please summon him again?”  “Please, can you reach out again??”  “I don’t see anyone coming — perhaps again?”  Most of which pleas were ignored so I resulted to “Don’t you want to get rid of me?!”  Finally, said supervisor arrived and took me aside.  I produced many forms of ID but none with photos.  A digital photo of a passport is a great idea in case it is lost, but it is not useable in this situation.  The one thing I did find in my wallet?  My Costco card, which is at least 20 years old, but had the necessary photo proving my identification.

It doesn’t end there.  One then gets a personal escort through security where everything is removed and scanned (not a requirement with pre-check).  Then one is not allowed to proceed until given the all-clear.  My family was very happy to see me at the gate.

We contemplated having our housesitter do a search at home.  Assuming she found the ID, she could overnight it to me.  However, since I was awaiting the arrival of my new Real ID card, we decided to pass and just allow extra time for the process at the end of the trip.

So what are the takeaways here?   First, double check that you have every essential item with you at all times. Like a valid photo ID. Second, panicking is of no value to anyone — especially your travel companion(s).  Third, sane and rational people have a better shot at convincing TSA of an honest mistake.  I firmly believe if they get even a whiff of someone’s dubious intentions, that person is not getting on the plane.  Lastly, never leave home without your Costco card.

 

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

ALILA — EVER HEARD OF IT?

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No?  Neither had I until I got wind of a new property recently opened in Encinitas (north San Diego area).  In the course of looking for a fun getaway befitting a special anniversary, I explored Alila Marea Beach Resort.  This is a separate brand under the Hyatt umbrella where one might expect premium pricing from Park Hyatt or even Hyatt Regency.  I definitely was not expecting a room cost approaching $1,000 per night (includes breakfast!) on a AAA rate.  I will continue to look.

When considering where else where else to go, I decided to look into an old favorite from early in our marriage — Ventana in Big Sur.  Turns out that property is also now an Alila, and only the third one in the US.  All of the other locations are scattered around Asia and the Middle East.  Ventana was always a splurge, but nothing like it is now.   At least the rate is basically “all inclusive” — per the website:

Each Ventana booking now features the following inclusive offerings: Dining in-room (all meals), poolside on your dedicated chaise lounge (lunch), or at The Sur House (breakfast and dinner). Convenient, healthy, and inspiring snacks to take on the day’s adventures, along with complimentary keepsake reusable water bottles. The Ventana Big Sur picnic program. Access to indoor and outdoor fitness studios. Volvo chauffeur service within a three-mile radius. The Excursion Outpost, featuring complimentary items for your use on picnics, hikes, and more.

The cost for the above (lowest rate and you best sit down) :: $1,650 per night, plus tax of course.  Onward I go.

Then there is Napa, site of the newest Alila.  Scratch that for the desired timeframe (end of August). But we can go earlier in August with rooms starting at just under $1000.  I’m feeling rich.

Thus I look forward to sharing all the stories and photos of the settled itinerary :: Cleveland (the hubby’s hometown) for baseball plus seeing friends and family; Detroit (baseball only) and some glorious days in Chicago for eating, shopping, exploring and celebrating.  Sounds pretty ideal to me.

International TravelSnippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!

passports

If you’re like so many others right about now, you have either booked or plan to book international travel.  BUT, have you checked your passport’s expiration date lately?

I cannot stress enough that you do, because the renewal process “ain’t what it used to be.”  Remember all those passport expeditors (even the USPS) who could easily get it done in a day or two for you?

Chalk up that absent service to another Covid casualty.  I just booked a client on an Alaska cruise that embarks in Seattle.  That means the ship encounters “international waters” en route — thus necessitating a passport.  She hadn’t checked hers recently and it expired in February of this year.  And then the fun began.

Expedited services at best still require 15 business days and some hefty fees.   According to a Wall Street Journal column this week, the State Department indicates the process can take up to 18 weeks for renewals including mailing.   In cases of a life-or-death emergency, there are some “very limited in-person appointments” that require either a death certificate or a letter from a hospital.  No one wants to face that in a time of need.

So, what is the takeaway here?  Like with all else in life, make sure your paperwork and required documents are in order and up to date.  People have waited so long for travel to resume that you don’t want to be denied because of an expired passport.

 

 

International TravelSnippets from the Road

BERMUDA BLISS

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Here’s a key piece of advice:  Factor in downtime for your travel, especially if your itinerary includes going non-stop in order to “see it all.”

One of the things the hubby and I truly appreciate is having a few days to do nothing.  That means no plans, alarms, or advance decisions on how to spend the day. Not only is that a true luxury but something one really needs.  Plus there’s the added bonus of returning home just slightly less tired.  It can be a time to reflect on the trip highpoints/lowpoints.  Since time is obviously so precious, it makes sense to evaluate what works best for you in order to mitigate mistakes or unforced errors.

Bermuda has always been on the to-do list, but it’s minimum two flights from the west coast.  With our post-Africa route through Heathrow, getting to Bermuda was just one more flight.

There are some 70,000 residents collectively in the 150+ islands, but most principally reside on the five largest.  I was surprised at the number of native Bermudians we met with families that had been there for generations.  Most other people — especially those working in hospitality — were an international mix.  Not surprisingly, tourism is the main source of revenue along with insurance and Bermuda onions (not kidding).

Below — the Rosewood Bermuda.

Bermuda is colonial in feel and sometimes in attire where men don pastel Bermuda shorts with loafers and button-down shirts.  Golf is huge; at least eight courses on the main island.  Many hotel guests send their clubs in advance via Ship Sticks.  I used them to send resort clothes ahead as African flights were limited for luggage, but the recommended timeframe to send the bag seemed ridiculously early (shipped from LA on April 16 for our May 4 arrival).

It wasn’t early at all.  The bag in fact made it to the island around April 26 but only delivered to our room on May 5.  With major custom delays (Covid strikes again), copious emails resulted between the shipper, the resort and me.  In the end, in our room there was a sight for sore eyes and a source of clean clothes.

So we took our own advice and did pretty much nothing.

At the main pool
At the beach pool
At the beach
Simple and perfect nightly dessert. Homemade.

The one big adventure consisted of a “car” from Rugged Rentals and driving to the other side of the island.  Seen below is a golf cart disguised as a Hummer with no power steering, brakes or shock absorbers.  Factor in driving on the “wrong” side in Bermuda, and my arms got a workout.

And, as with all good things, this trip came to an end … after 24 days, 3 countries, 15 flights, 6 covid tests and endless memories.  What a blessing to be on these adventures together.

Bye, Bermuda .. Until we meet again.