Smart tips for smooth travel

9 Hacks for Lazy People

SMARTERTRAVEL has published an guide for travelers. I do follow these ‘hacks’ ( I hate that word) so I can vouch that I do all of these recommendationsHacks.

Every trip I take I want to make as smooth going as possible. I do have several toiletry bags and makeup that always stay in my luggage. I keep printable packing lists that I use for every trip so I don’t forget anything. I can’t stress enough that it’s imparative to bring a multi-plug extension cord. I have posted several of my handy tips under packing and travel tips.

When in doubt please contact us at girlstraveltheworld@gmail.com

Flight Attendants Say Angry Passengers Are Creating a Big Safety Problem

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Some say airline staffers are more hesitant to enforce rules, which could threaten safety.

This story originally appeared on Time.com.

The fury has died down, but the rash of viral confrontations on airplanes is still very much on flight attendants’ minds. They are demoralized and anxious, afraid of becoming the villain in a cellphone video that spreads across the globe — creating a situation some say could result in safety lapses on planes.

Several flight attendants who spoke to TIME said they have seen colleagues ignore unbuckled belts, incorrectly placed bags and similar violations of federal safety rules in order to avoid sparking confrontations with passengers. “A lot of flight attendants feel uncomfortable performing essential job functions and responsibilities because one angry person can change our employment status,” said Ben, a flight attendant working for a major U.S. airline, who spoke on condition that his last name not be used.

The recent tensions between fliers and crew arose in April, when a video posted online showed a passenger being dragged off a United Airlines flight after refusing to give up his seat. Two weeks later, an American Airlines flight attendant was suspended after yanking a stroller from a mother, leading to a heated argument that was caught on camera. And just last month, a family was kicked off a JetBlue flight after a dispute with a flight attendant over where to store a birthday cake.

While it’s still relatively rare for trouble to brew aboard flights, smartphone videos posted to social media make the incidents seem more frequent, creating friction in the cabin at a moment when confrontations can quickly spiral into viral moments. Since the United episode, in which passenger David Dao was left bloodied and with a concussion after being forced to give up his seat, flight attendants said they started noticing an attitude shift among passengers.

“Just about every other flight, I would have a passenger make a reference to the United Airways incident, and be like, ‘Well, you guys are always saying, please fasten your seatbelt, put up your tray tables, pull your seat back forward. What if I don’t? Are you going to drag me off the plane like they did on United?’” said Jenny, a flight attendant for nearly 20 years, who declined to give her last name.

If flight attendants don’t have the respect of their passengers, some experts say there could be far more serious problems than an unbuckled seatbelt. Passengers who don’t obey rules could mean chaos in a true emergency, said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents 50,000 members at 20 airlines.

“If we have not established that authority, and passengers are not listening to flight attendants, it can be catastrophic,” Nelson said. “It can be the demise of an entire airplane.”

Not all agree with such dire predictions. John Cox, a retired U.S. Airways captain who now runs aviation safety consulting firm Safety Operating Systems, acknowledged that flight attendants are under intense pressure, but he does not believe that poses a safety threat. “There’s always pandemonium during a life-threatening evacuation,” Cox said. “But history has shown us that when you stress people to that level, they turn to who they believe is the expert on scene. Every time, it’s the flight attendant.”

The recent incidents have drawn new attention to customer complaints about airlines. Passengers filed 1,909 complaints with the Department of Transportation in April, a 70% bump year-over-year and a 69% increase from March. The gripes mostly involved flight cancellations and delays, lost baggage and ticketing issues. Airlines have also been criticized lately for finding clever ways to raise prices, experimenting with reduced legroom and struggling with massive delays caused by computer outages.

After the United incident, several major airlines reviewed their policies and made changes. United instituted a new rule that employees could not revoke a passenger’s seat after he or she had already boarded, according to a news release the airline issued in late April. United also pledged to limit its use of law enforcement in future cases of disputes with passengers.

When asked about the safety concerns flight attendants have raised in the wake of the incidents, United and JetBlue did not respond to requests for comment. American referred to a memo its CEO Doug Parker sent to employees in late May. In the note, Parker says the “dedication and commitment to customer service for everyone in our industry has recently been called into question.” “We now live in a world where all eyes (and video cameras) are on us,” he wrote, later adding that the airline would offer web-based training in de-escalating conflicts.

Delta provided a statement through a flight attendant named Mathew Palmer, who said the company’s “leaders are working directly with us to find solutions and set them in place quickly.” “The social media effect has certainly had an impact on our jobs, but my colleagues and I are safety professionals and we remain focused on working with our customers to ensure safety is taken seriously,” the statement said. “Not only do the people on the ground have our backs, but we have the tools at our fingertips to get ahead of a customer issue and make it right, even at 30,000 feet.”

The Federal Aviation Administration did not directly respond to the potential safety risks raised by flight attendants. “A flight attendant’s primary responsibility is aviation safety,” the FAA said in a statement. “Flight attendants provide passengers with a safety briefing, remind them to comply with FAA safety regulations, and provide instructions during an emergency. Our nation’s flight attendants are well-trained professionals who are required to comply with the FAA’s regulations.”

This is not the first time tensions have arisen between between flight attendants and crew. There were similar levels of “air rage” in the late 1990s, as America’s skies saw a spike in unruly passengers confronting or attacking airline personnel. At the time, the solution involved harsher penalties for interfering with crewmembers. Now, flight attendants say airlines need to do a better job of teaching passengers that attendants’ primary duty is safety, not customer service. “We don’t go to training every year to learn how to serve Cokes,” said Steven, also a longtime flight attendant with a major U.S. airline. Others say it’s a matter of catching problems well before takeoff.

“We’re paying more attention to the customers coming on board, paying more attention to the attitudes that are coming on board,” Ben said. “And if there’s any negativity, we address it before the door closes.”

Original Story

Why Do I Always Get Sick After Traveling?

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Smarter Travel Why Do I Get Sick When Traveling?

……….I just returned back from a trip to Paris, London, Venice and Milan. I believe that I picked up my terrible flu in Venice because I was coughing and sniffling on the train to Milan and then things got incredibly worse. My hotel owner called in a doctor because I looked ( and felt ) like death. The only thing I was able to do in my 3 days in Milan was to see Leonardo DiVinic’s Last Supper, which was I was in Milan in the first place. I could not suffer and make others sick, and had to waste my tickets to an opera at La Scala. Getting sick is almost inevitable, although I do take serious precautions. ……….

Why Do I Always Get Sick After Traveling?

It seems like every time I fly, I come home with an unwanted souvenir—a cold, stomach bug, or sore throat. I’m usually pretty good about trying to stay healthy—I wipe down everything at my plane seat with anti-bacterial wipes and always wash or sanitize my hands before eating. So I asked the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT) what gives—why do I always get sick after traveling?

Daphne Hendsebee, Communications and Marketing Specialist for IAMAT, explains that many people get sick after traveling. “There are many factors that make you more prone to illness when you travel,” she says. “You are out of your regular environment and you come into contact with different bacteria and viruses from those you are exposed to back home. You touch many surfaces covered in bacteria and viruses (door handles, tray tables in planes or trains, seats, railings, money, etc.). You may also be in contact with crowds of people while in transit and at your destination. Travel stress, fatigue, and jet lag can also have a big impact on your health.”

So what can you do to prevent getting sick after traveling? Hendsebee advises, “Take time to adjust to the new environment slowly, wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and reduce your stress levels.”

If you do fall sick after returning home, you probably don’t need to see a doctor if it’s just a mild cold or upset stomach. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that travelers get medical help if any of the following applies:

Fever

“If you have been in a country with malaria and develop a fever within a month after you leave, see a doctor immediately. Most fevers are caused by less serious illnesses. But because malaria is a medical emergency, your doctor must first rule it out. A fever could still be symptoms of malaria even if you took antimalarial medicine because the medicine is not 100% effective. Most malaria develops within 30 days, but rare cases can lie dormant for a year or longer. So always tell your doctor about any travel you have done, even if it was months ago.”

Persistent Diarrhea

“Most cases of diarrhea go away by themselves in a few days, but see your doctor if you have diarrhea that lasts for 2 weeks or more. Persistent diarrhea can make you lose nutrients and is often caused by a parasitic infection that will need to be treated with special drugs.”

Skin Problems

“Skin problems (rashes, boils, fungal infections, bug bites) are among the most common illnesses reported by people who have returned from international travel. Most skin problems are not serious, but they may be a sign of a serious illness, especially if you also have a fever.”

If you do fall sick after returning home and need to visit a doctor, make sure you tell him or her about your recent travels. The CDC advises, “Make sure to include all relevant details:

  • What you did on your trip.
  • How long you were gone.
  • Where you stayed (fancy hotel, native dwelling, tent).
  • What you ate and drank while you were there.
  • Whether you were bitten by bugs.
  • Whether you swam in freshwater.
  • Any other possible exposures (sex, tattoos, piercings).”

If you often catch yourself wondering “why does traveling make me sick,” remember to get lots of sleep, wash your hands, and use sanitizer—and hopefully, the only affliction you’ll return home with is wanderlust.

Why you can’t use a cell phone on an airplane

Why you can’t use a cell phone on an airplane

It’s true that before an airline could allow cell phone use in-flight, it would have to prove to the FAA that it wouldn’t interfere with the airplane systems. But the FAA says the point is moot. “As far as the wireless system goes, the final authority rests with the FCC,” Les Dorr, an FAA spokesman told ABCNews.com.

Why You Should Never Go Barefoot in Airport Security

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Ugh, you made it up to TSA and you are sandals or sockless. This is not good for you or anyone else.

If you want to go barefoot, that’s your gross choice, but if you would like to follow the advice of a podiatrist , here’s your warning…. “The risk is raised in cases of open sores or wounds, cuts, abrasions, dry, fissured skin, or poor circulation, diabetes … children are more susceptible to catching warts because their immune system is not fully developed.”

Ewwwwwww!

Upon further web searches you’ll find alarming quotes, including this one from Dr. Rami Calis, DPM: “Athlete’s foot is not the only issue … Think of all the things that fall off people’s shoes. Also, there might be small tacks or sharp pebbles that could cut you–and if you have an opening in the skin, that is asking for infection. Even a sock won’t protect your foot. If you do step on a tack, then we’re talking about [possibly] having to get a tetanus shot, and possible infections.”

The TSA, of course, disagrees. According to its blog, the TSA actually commissioned a 2003 study on this issue with the Department of Health and Human Services. The study found that as long as the floor wasn’t  moist, the possibility of contracting a foot fungus while walking through barefoot was “extremely small to remote.” Well of course they say this, they want to see your tootsies.

I was traveling one summer in sandals and I have plantar fasciitis . It’s a painful condition made even more painful by being barefoot. I was requested to take off my sandals ( they had a sturdy arch support) and I declined while explaining my condition. The TSA agents were very rude and were speaking behind my back that I was a spoiled princess and there was no reason why I couldn’t go barefoot. After I sat down, took off my shoes, they checked my feet and ran my sandals through the X-ray. I then headed off to the TSA office to file a complaint about their behaviour.

My world traveler advice is to bring or wear socks through the line. There is some funky stuff down there and you don’t want it to sit on your feet during the flight.

 

Emergency Passport Renewal

Processing a passport application can take as many as six weeks. But not all travelers have the luxury of time. Fortunately, the U.S. State Department and international U.S. Embassies can issue temporary or emergency passports.

Even if you’re traveling within 24 hours (last-minute business trip and your passport is expired?) a Passport Agency can help you get a passport in time for your departure.

Bring your application, payment for necessary fees, and proof of immediate international travel to your regional center. If possible, book an appointment in advance, though many have walk-in hours. Most are located in large cities such as New York and San Francisco. Though you’ll find they’re not unlike the DMV (a purgatory-like waiting system is pretty requisite for most government agencies) it’s the best way to get an emergency passport without involving third-party costs—the ItsEasy passport renewal app (don’t worry, it has a thumbs up from the U.S. government) is free to download, but 1-3 day rush service will cost you $269 in addition to all the other government fees.

The fee for an expedited passport through a Passport Agency is $60, though you’ll also need to pay for a new passport (if this is your first) or a passport renewal (when a previous passport has expired).

If you’re not able to reach a Passport Agency, give the National Passport Information Center a ring. Just note that representatives are only available during business hours on weekdays, with limited service on Saturdays.

Passports that are lost or stolen while abroad can be replaced at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Come armed with a passport photo for the speediest assistance. You’re likely to receive a limited-validity, emergency passport in this situation. Upon your return, return your emergency passport to receive a legitimate passport book.

Our advice? Even if you don’t have international travel plans on the books, having a valid passport on hand (with three to six effective months on either end) is always your safest bet.

8 Surprising Things That are Actually Offensive in Europe

Mixing with the locals is the fastest way to the heart of a place—and it’s easier than ever, thanks to Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Eatwith and the like. There’s only one catch—you think Paris’ transit system is tricky? Try navigating the wildly varying cultural norms across Europe. There’s nothing quite so deflating as meeting new people, and promptly (however inadvertently) offending them. See our best tips below.

1. Don’t give flowers as a gift.
Flowers’ symbolic meanings vary widely by country: In Latvia, red roses are for funerals, not valentines. Chrysanthemums are the French funerary flower. In Germany, yellow roses mean the host’s partner is cheating, lilies are for funerals, and heather is associated with cemeteries. Throughout Europe, even-numbered bouquets are considered bad luck, as are groups of 13.

2. Follow locals’ lead when it comes to alcohol.
In Spain, wait to take a first drink until after the first toast and you only toast with alcohol, not water or soft drinks. Keep quiet and don’t drink until a toast—no matter how long-winded—is finished in Georgia and Azerbaijan. In France, don’t refill your wine glass without first offering refills to the rest of the table; forget bringing wine to dinner, the host will want to select a vintage that pairs with the meal. In Russia, vodka should never be refused—it’s a symbol of friendship—and toss it back neat, sipping is considered rude. In Germany, looking people in the eyes when you toast is mandatory—on threat of 7 years bad luck in the bedroom.

3. Don’t let your clothes send the wrong message.
Generally speaking, Europeans dress more formally than Americans, even for something as simple as a trip to the supermarket. But beyond a prevailing societal norm that workout gear is only acceptable for exercise, there are also more specific, regional rules when it comes to clothing that may catch you by surprise if you don’t do your research. In Romania, don’t shake hands with your gloves on. Take your overcoat off indoors—in Russia and parts of the former Soviet Union, to do otherwise implies your hosts do not properly heat their home. In Czech Republic, stay buttoned up in business meetings, at least until the highest-ranking person in attendance removes his or her jacket. In Poland, and many parts of Europe, it’s considered impolite to speak to people with your hands in your pockets.

4. Mind your gestures.
Even the most essential of gestures can mean very different things than they do in your home country, so avoid using gestures until you’re sure you know what they mean at a destination. In Bulgaria, locals shake their heads yes and nod no. Making the peace sign, or “v” for victory is the equivalent of flipping your middle finger in Ireland and the UK. In Italy, Spain, France, Greece and former Yugoslavia extending your index finger and pinkie and shaking your fist in the “rock on” gesture, is tantamount to taunting the person you point it at about a cheating partner, whereas in Norway it’s the sign of the devil. Skip the “okay” sign, too—in France, Portugal and Greece it simply signifies “no good” or “useless” but in Turkey and Malta when you curl your thumb and index finger into a circle you’re comparing people to a very private part of your anatomy. Flicking someone’s ear is a homosexual slur in Italy, and cracking your knuckles is considered obscene in Belgium.

5. Save your smile for the right occasion.
In many parts of Europe the easiest way to identify an American on vacation is by their seemingly aimless grin for the world at large. Flashing your happy face in a business setting is considered unprofessional in Russia. In France and Czech Republic smiles are reserved for friends and families, rarely bestowed on strangers.

6. Respect local coffee culture.
Few things are more likely to scandalize the locals and get you a frosty reception at a café or restaurant than botching your coffee order. Don’t order cappuccino after breakfast in Italy, or espresso before or during a meal. In Spain, café con leche may be ordered at breakfast or as an afternoon pick-me-up, but shouldn’t be ordered with any meals after midday. If you must have a white coffee after dinner, try a cortado—an espresso cut with a splash of milk. In Austria’s historic coffee culture, the worst mistake visitors make is trying to generically order a coffee, an offense in a culture with a multitude of options.

7. Leave your chewing gum at home.
In Europe, walking around with a wad of chewing gum in your jaw isn’t just uncommon, it’s often regarded as impolite. Most Europeans chew gum briefly after a meal, and spit it out in short order. In the Netherlands, chewing gum while talking is considered rude, and in Belgium and France, chewing gum at all is considered vulgar.

8. Time is relative.
Concepts of time and punctuality vary across Europe. In the Netherlands, being early, even to the tune of 5 minutes, is unacceptable. In Germany, punctuality is a matter of respect for other people’s time. In Spain, Italy and France, being 5-10 minutes late is considered within the norm, and not frowned upon, even in many professional settings. In Poland, for informal events in people’s homes, always arrive 15 minutes later than the agreed upon time to allow the host to prepare, but not more than 30 minutes late.

While doing some research ahead of time will help, you’re bound to commit a few faux pas on your travels. The bottom line: Don’t sweat it. Some of my biggest bumbles have made for my most memorable travel experiences, like when an elderly Greek baker with massive, arthritic hands lectured me in her halting English about rude gestures when I used the “ok” sign to confirm my order of a spiral-shaped Skopelitiki pastry, or the time I almost toasted with a glass of lemon Fanta to the horror of my Spanish friends.Read more

U.S. State Department Issues Summer Travel Alert for Europe

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Citing a high number of tourists in Europe this summer, the State Department has issued a new alert.

After terror attacks on an airport and metro station in Brussels, the State Department in March issued a broad alert for travel across Europe that was slated to expire on June 20. On Tuesday, the State Department announced a new alert that expires on August 31: In its description, officials note that the large number of tourists visiting Europe this summer present “greater targets” for terrorists planning attacks in public locations, and urge U.S. citizens to exercise vigilance in public places or when using mass transportation.

The alert specifically references several key events: the Euro Cup, hosted in France June 10–July 10; the Tour de France, from July 2–24; and the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day, which will draw an anticipated 2.5 million visitors to Krakow, Poland, between July 26 and July 31.

The original article continues below.

3/23/16: In the wake of twin terror attacks in Brussels, the State Department’s sweeping alert for travel to all of Europe is stoking visitors’ fears further—by raising the prospect of similar attacks in the near future. “Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation,” the department said in its latest alert, issued shortly after the bombings at Brussels airport and a city metro station.

For the U.S. government to issue such a broad—and alarming—alert is unusual, but it’s not the only country recommending its citizens reconsider their travel plans. Several countries issued new advisories, such as Australia, which raised its alert for Belgium from “a high degree of caution” to “reconsider your need to travel.”

So just how are would-be travelers expected to react to the barrage of alerts? While such a broad travel advisory to Europe would strike some as too vague, security experts said it was appropriate, given the circumstances. “With attacks all across Europe, it would be ill-advised to try and single out a specific country,” says Edward Clark, senior security consultant for iJET International. The U.S. doesn’t warn against all travel, necessarily, but instead urges Americans to “exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation.”

“Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events,” it said. That’s familiar advice to anyone who follows these travel advisories—and the warnings have come more frequently in the past six months following attacks in Paris, Turkey, and elsewhere. Whether it’s practical or useful is another question—after all, how do visitors completely avoid crowds? “While crowds are difficult to avoid, especially if on vacation, [you can] learn where to stand in the crowd and how to position yourself to limit your vulnerabilities,” says Clark. “When you travel, select times when the airport is the least busy.”

The State Department’s alert does expire June 20, around the height of tourist season in several European countries; it’s also a fairly typical three-month alert, and not as broad as the global alert issued in November following the Paris attacks.

Related: Why You Shouldn’t Let Fear Get in the Way of Travel

This article has been corrected and updated. A travel alert, which was issued, is less acute and shorter term than a travel warning. Read on for more info.

Russia. Easy for solo travel

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I have just returned from a week in Russia. 3 days in Moscow and 3 in Saint Petersburg. I was hesitant at first because I don’t speak a word of Russian and it was 15 hours of flying.

First, you need to book your flights and hotels, then you can apply for a Russian Visa. It’s going to run you about $300. You also need to contact your hotels for a special visitor’s visa, which they will send you in an email link. The tourist visa is about $5.

So to be clear, first you book your trip, then you find out if Russia will allow your Visa. Give this at least 6 weeks or panic might set in.

I learned a couple of words in Russian, because it’s the polite thing to do and it ingratiates you to the locals. I learned, ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. You can find the words online and usually there is a spoken pronunciation. Practice these words.

My reasons for Russia were

  1. It was cheap. 6 days with air, hotels and breakfast was $1036.
  2. I got tickets for the Bolshoi Ballet online before I went. Making my trip extra-spectacular.
  3. It was safer than the other locations that I wanted to go to in Scandinavia.
  4. Because it helps me learn more about the world.

I book almost all my trips via http://www.europeandestinations.com. I am not paid by them, I just want to know how I am able to book my trips so inexpensively.

Moscow and St Petersburg have Uber and wifi is everywhere. I was able to use Uber from the airports for around 1000 rubles ( $15) when the taxis were asking 8000 rubles ($120).

I found both cities to be very walkable, safe and friendly. I did try the subway, but I kept getting lost because I don’t know Russian.

I suggest you do some research before you go. I watched quite a few YouTube videos on the cities and was able to get a feeling of what I was getting myself into and what I wanted to see.

The tourist or old section of Moscow is quite compact around Red Square and the Kremlin. Pick a hotel within walking distance and you shall be fine. I stayed at the Arbat House Hotel in a very quiet section of the city. It was an easy walk to Red Square and the adjoining restaurant had excellent food which they brought up to my room.

In St Petersburg I stayed at the Nevisky Aster Hotel. It is close to The Hermitage on a lovely street just off of the main street of Nevsky Prospect. I was within walking distance of everything I wanted to see, near great and inexpensive restaurants and just a couple of feet from Dior, Louis Vuitton and Prada.

Russia, and interesting location which you may think is out of your comfort zone, but is actually very European.