Travel Rules

Snippets from the Road

ITALY, PARTY OF FOUR — UPDATED

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(This March 3 post is updated at the end … )

With the big post-tax season trip just six weeks away, I’ve been repeatedly asked these questions:  “Are you cancelling your trip?”  “Are you concerned?”  “What are your thoughts about …”

My answer has not changed.  No, we are not changing unless we are forced to.   In other words, if all flights to Italy are cancelled, then I guess we’ll change our itinerary — flying into Rome and departing from Milan, with additional stays in Florence and Venice.  American Airlines currently has a deadline for flight changes without penalty until March 16.  All of the hotels and cars may be cancelled without fees.  So not much at stake while we see what happens.

We’re a generally healthy family who in all probability would tolerate a flu without much fanfare. While I’m not looking for adverse conditions, the fact is we could stay home and get sick.  So what the heck .. onward.

My Snippet from the Road:  Carry on unless you’re forced not to.  Wash your hands.  And if change must happen — the South of France is just an hour flight from Rome.  A win/win.

UPDATE:  In case you’re interested in where we stand now (March 13), we are looking to postpone just a few weeks from our original 4/17 departure.  Typically we’re home around May 10 looking forward to attending Dodger games.  Since that is also postponed, our timing is flexible throughout May.   It would be a pleasure to be among the first to help resurrect Italy’s economy in some small way.

The plan is to see how things look at the end of March/beginning of April before changing flights and hotels.  Until then, we’ll talk to each other, catch up on reading and perhaps binge watch cooking shows on Netflix …

Snippets from the Road

BE THE FIRST AND OTHERS WILL LIKELY FOLLOW

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Well-known talk show host, author and renown world traveler Dennis Prager has said the reason he always tips airport shuttle drivers is because he knows others will likely follow suit if they weren’t so inclined to do so until observing him.

Boy, did this ever become true, albeit in completely different circumstances.  Baggage handling ineptness at Miami airport caused us to nearly miss our connection.  The only available overhead bin space was 10 rows behind our seats once we finally boarded.  Upon landing, the hubby waited until he could make his way back to that row (not very easy) to get our two bags.  I waited at our row, but stood up and was kneeling on the aisle seat facing backward.  An exiting passenger said to me “Have a good weekend!”  So I responded in kind.  The next one said “Thank you” as did a series of successive exiting passengers.  It quickly became clear the first passenger assumed I worked for American Airlines so he was polite in his departing comments, and the rest of the passengers followed suit — essentially proving Mr. Prager’s theory.

Here’s the amusing part (for me).  This occurred after about 10 hours of travel, with no make-up and wearing a nondescript black t-shirt.  In other words, kind of a low bar for a flight attendant’s appearance.  Oh, well.  People in the immediate area and I had a great laugh when I told them I don’t work for American but appreciated their comments nonetheless!   My Snippet from the Road:  Be a good example and others could very well follow your lead.

 

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

WHY LOYALTY MATTERS …

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Repeated robocalls.  Anyone not sick of them? The hubby answers far many more of them at home than I do, and even engages some of them to my ever astonishment.  So when the phone rang and showed American Airlines as the caller he answered — and this one was for real, with the caller asking to speak to me.

“Hi, Mrs. Bialosky, this is so-and-so from the American Airlines Platinum desk calling to congratulate you on recently achieving Lifetime Platinum status!  May I give you our dedicated phone line?  Let me know when you’re ready to write down the number.”

 

Loyalty pays.  Recognition, free bags, early boarding, upgrades, more mileage rewarded, lounge access among other perks.  But just being thanked and acknowledged for loyalty says it all.  And it only took me a little over 32 years to achieve!

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know

WHERE TO TRAVEL … AND WHERE NOT!

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A recent Forbes column I received had all kinds of travel warnings for 2020.  The information is important to all of us; thus, here you go.  Let’s start with the good news — places where you’re least likely to encounter danger.  Regrettably, safety cannot be promised to anyone at anytime.  Didn’t your mother ever warn you about getting hit by a bus??  The list in no particular order:

Now, for the no-no’s — most of which are pretty obvious.  Again, these are in no particular order:

  • Libya
  • Syria
  • Iraq
  • Yemen
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Central African Republic
  • Part of the Congo (DRC)
  • Part of eastern Ukraine
  • Mali
  • Parts of Pakistan
  • Afghanistan
  • Part of Egypt

For the excellent full column by Laura Begley Bloom, click here.  I wish you all safe and fulfilling travels in 2020.  Whatever you do, don’t let the ba*#@rds keep you from seeing the world.

 

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe 2016
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EVERYONE’S “FAVORITE” DESTINATION :: THE DMV

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In anticipation of my driver’s license expiring on my upcoming January birthday, I scheduled an appointment to get it renewed and take care of getting a REAL ID.  You’re probably aware that the government has set October 2020 as the date to have either a REAL ID or Passport to board a domestic flight.  Obviously, the REAL ID is far easier than carrying one’s passport around.

After waiting two months for my designated appointment, I showed up with my driver’s license and passport but neglected to bring two other forms of identification — mainly my social security card and perhaps a utility bill or something of that nature.  I renewed my license but was not able to secure the REAL ID.  The good news is the total time spent at the DMV was just 45 minutes.  But –and don’t tell my hubby who asked if I was all prepared — a return trip is required.

Not wanting to wait, I went online to make another appointment.  You’ll never guess the outcome:  They DON’T want me back until earliest 2022!! Why is that?? Well, my newly renewed license expires in 2025 and my Passport in 2027.  So this was their response:

Your federal identification is valid through at least 2022, and you may use it to board a domestic flight or enter secure federal facilities such as military bases, federal courthouses, and other federal offices. We recommend holding off getting a REAL ID until your state or federal identification expires, whichever comes first.

Considering getting it now anyway?
We admire your enthusiasm! However, we expect demand for REAL ID to be very high in the next two years, and we are asking those whose REAL ID needs are not urgent to please wait so that we may serve urgent needs first. We appreciate your understanding, cooperation, and patience.

As much as I WANT to believe this, I’m not even sure I can safely rely on the response.  As the hubby said (I did tell him), you’re going to trust this information as gospel?  Hmmm, what would you do??

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DECISIONS, DECISIONS …

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In the course of doing some long-range travel planning — for Spring 2021, no less — I have gotten two proposals for safari in Kenya and Tanzania.  Africa is the one destination that requires significant advance planning as the safari camps can have as few as 6 accommodations and fill up quickly, especially during peak travel periods.  Our trip is during the “slower” months, but still it’s good to book out in advance.  In fact, I was able to secure 2020 rates by booking early.

A beautiful lioness. All photos from previous trip in 2016.

Africa is also a destination that requires the help of professional tour companies.  It is so complex to move from location to location that I (as both a seasoned traveler and planner for others) wouldn’t even attempt it.  I went back to an excellent provider who arranged two previous trips — &beyond.  At the suggestion of a friend who has made numerous trips to Africa,  I likewise engaged African Travel Resources (ATR) to see what they could offer.

King of the Jungle couldn’t care less that we observed.
The elusive leopard.

I literally have streams of emails from both providers.  African safaris are unquestionably one of the most expensive trips to take.  Start with the distance (and travel time) to get to the continent.  Then, once there, it is costly to move around for 10 or 12 or more days from location to location for extraordinary “camps” in the middle of nowhere providing an indescribable experience.  It is also incredibly worth it if one can evaluate such a thing.

Elephants sipping and reflecting.

The dilemma?  How to make the decision.  Having spent my adult career in sales, I know that being on the wrong side of a bid is disappointing.  One invests a lot of time and effort to “get the order.”  The hubby and I were literally at the point of throwing a dart to make our pick.  In the end, the decision was to go with ATR.  Once made and deposit paid,  I wrote a lengthy email to my &beyond Travel Specialist explaining everything.  She was “beyond” gracious, wished me well on our Kenya and Tanzania safari and hopes to have the opportunity to work together again.  Indeed.  I look forward to it.

The colors of Africa.