Snippets from the Road

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

UNEXPECTED (EMERGENCY) TRAVEL

Judy car

Those of us in the wonderful state of California mostly have it pretty good.  Our weather is enviable (I would prefer more cold), we have virtually every activity — beaches, mountains, desert, culture, sports — at our fingertips.  But it’s well known we have had our share of disasters — most recently epic fires in both the northern and southern parts of the state.

Residents watch as the Woolsey Fire burns in the West Hills area of the San Fernando Valley Friday night. (photo by Andy Holzman)

That brings me to a thought:  What if you had to travel VERY QUICKLY as though your life depended on it?  Would you be ready to go at a moment’s notice?  A longtime friend/business colleague told me that she and her husband thought they were ready to go with the essentials packed:  medication, water, computers and back-up devices, snacks, pets and their necessities, clothing, etc., so they were feeling pretty confident.  When the evacuation order came, two issues occurred:

  1. Neither of their cars had more than 1/4 tank of gas; and 2) they didn’t know where they should go.

Fortunately everything worked out in the end for them even though it meant spending a night in their cars (along with three cats) at a safe destination.

So what’s the takeaway?  Have a go-list ready so you don’t have to think about it if this happens to you.  If you keep cash in the house (and everyone should, particularly smaller bills), grab that along with jewelry and portable valuables.  Have a list of prescriptions you need plus a one-week supply ready to go.  Make sure all your photos are backed up! Prints can be reproduced but don’t forget those priceless photo albums.  Extra cords you’ll need. Don’t let your cars get too low.  Finally, move faster than you think is necessary.  My friend was stunned at how quickly the winds shifted and their situation became urgent.

Finally, below is an excellent list provided by FEMA.  Find your own version and use it.  I would even suggest modifying a list of must-haves when you’re traveling.  Your carry-on becomes your go-bag with things you absolutely need.  Most importantly, be safe out there!

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

FILL OUT THOSE SURVEYS!

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For the recent trip to the Pacific Northwest (see post), I rented a car with Avis.  Once we had our suitcase, we headed to the rental car shuttle.  Wow.  The line was just endless.  Not wanting to wait, I hailed an Uber and headed up to the pick-up point for ride-sharing vehicles.  Another wait in line, not to mention $16 — probably some sort of minimum charge as a detraction (obviously the drivers want longer fares).  We needn’t have bothered, for the line at Avis was stunning.  About 30 people waiting to get cars, with three Avis people doing the check-out.  Anyone who prepaid in full (with avis.com) went to an expedited line and got priority — and that line was mostly empty until someone showed up and was immediately served.

A manager (in charge of both Avis and Budget) told us this problem is symptomatic of summer travel, where it is simply not possible to gauge how many cars are needed.  Every car was booked. This location is ghost-like in the winter, so gearing up for summer is challenging.  Of course, that didn’t satisfy me so I started tweeting (including this photo):

“Wow, @Avis, your service sucks.  Never again.”  Which didn’t do any good, but made me a bit calmer.  Some 90 minutes later, we got our car and headed off.    A few days later, I received their survey to rate my experience.  “On a scale of 1 to 10 …” That got a 1.  “How likely are you to recommend Avis to a friend?”  Not.  Survey completed and submitted.

The upshot?  I got a very nice email from an Avis manager apologizing for the delays and asking that I let him know prior to any future rentals so we would get priority treatment, etc.  The bigger surprise was, even though the rental shuttles are managed by SeaTac Airport and the car rental companies have no control, he took $30 off my bill to cover the Uber.   1) Fill out those surveys.  They do get read.  2) Share positive reviews as well.  Always nice to provide feedback to those that are doing a great job.

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

CONFIRM ALL YOUR DETAILS .. THEN CONFIRM AGAIN!

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A fellow traveler shared his travel nightmare upon arriving in Barcelona.  He had checked with the hotel beforehand and determined that a private car wasn’t necessary given the options of cabs/subway/buses/trains.  Except said hotel concierge neglected to alert him when the cabs went on strike.

He’s traveling with a couple of suitcases and a backpack.  The train might seem the way to go until you realize how antiquated the stations can be: things like escalators, porters (save for some questionable locals trying to earn a few euros), and adequate signs are frequently missing.

Been there; done that. Never again.

To add insult to injury, he used an ATM to get much-needed local currency, only to find that his wallet was missing afterward.  Not theft but more likely fumbling around with all that luggage produced an “ooopsie.”  (The hotel was later extremely helpful with the challenges faced with the missing wallet).

So what’s the takeaway?  Check in with the hotel the day prior to your arrival just to make sure everything’s “good.”  Email the concierge or manager or local reservations desk for any last-minute updates.  They should be doing this on your behalf, but just in case they don’t …

Your wish is their command. Use them.
Snippets from the Road

WHAT AIRLINES FREEBIES DO YOU TAKE?

AA pajamas

A recent Wall Street Journal column identified how airlines continue to up their game in order to entice premium passengers, many of whom still pay full fare, with freebies (i.e., swag).   Items might include duvet covers, branded shot glasses, playing cards and pajamas.  Suffice to say, they dislike the increased cost to do so.

 

 

While amenity kits continue to be provided — with things like socks, eyeshades and toothpaste — and are easy for passengers to take, apparently some fliers are walking off with bedrolls as well.

On a recent flight from London-LAX, I had the pleasure of flying First Class and cannot personally imagine walking off with something akin to a sleeping bag (shown below).  Wowza.  A small throw blanket possibly.

 

Pillows & Blankets from AA First Class

 

Maybe the pajamas (typically not in “my” color).

 

I would keep these!

 

The question is:  What would you take with you??

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

GREAT INFO FROM AFRICAN SAFARI EXPERTS

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If you’ve been you know this stuff.  If you’re planning on going, you need to know this stuff.  I’m sharing a link to some great advice from experts on the stuff.  This info is primarily about packing but provides a lot of insight into a safari.  May I add, safaris are the one type of travel that need long-range planning.  I’m doing just that for a family safari in … 2020.

Here you go — click HERE for the link.  My photos from Kruger National Park, 2016.

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

HOW THE FRENCH DO IT … TASTE FIRST

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Did you know that the French, when they happen by a restaurant — whether in Paris or elsewhere — will ask for a piece of bread before committing?  If the bread is good, they believe, then the restaurant is and the whole meal will be good.  Makes sense to me.

Communicated to me by a reader/friend — formerly from Los Angeles (and hubby’s client) who spent three years in Paris and now resides in Ecuador.  Yes, we’ve visited him.

I wonder if I can try this with jewelers??