Electric planes could provide a quieter, greener way to travel – WGN

An artist’s concept image of the “Maxwell” plane (NASA Langley/Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.)

An artist’s concept image of the “Maxwell” plane (NASA Langley/Advanced Concepts Lab, AMA, Inc.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) — At NASA, an experiment is underway that could upend the aviation industry: A fully electric plane.

As electric cars roll out across the world — nixing the need to pay soaring fuel prices – NASA is looking to the skies, unveiling the X-57, or “Maxwell”.

Maxwell, a single-seater plane that bears a striking resemblance to a Cessna, uses electric propulsion rather than burning fuel. The craft would have 14 electric motors in total, dotted on the wings.

The project is part of NASA’s $790 million “New Aviation Horizons” initiative: an ambitious 10-year program to see the replacement of the roaring, gas-guzzling commercial jetliners we use today, with a quieter, greener alternative.

At a conference in Washington on Friday, Charles F. Bolden Jr, the NASA administrator, said, “the X-57 will take the first giant step in opening a new era of aviation.”

NASA says Maxwell could be on the runway within four years, quickly followed by a series of five larger electric planes, capable of holding more passengers and cargo.

While Maxwell is still a prototype, earlier this year, NASA researchers achieved success on a much smaller scale, successfully testing a small electric-powered plane called the Greased Lightning GL-10.

A YouTube video of Greased Lightning’s remotely-controlled inaugural flight has been viewed more than a million times.

Of course, Maxwell wouldn’t be the first plane to operate without a drop of fuel.

In April, the Solar Impulse touched down in California after a two-and-a-half day flight across the Pacific. That plane was operated by solar power.

But speed was not its strong suit, reaching just 30 to 40 mph.

Maxwell, on the other hand, is predicted to reach speeds of 175 mph.

If successful, NASA says the technologies applied to get Maxwell in the skies, could be translated to the private sector – something that could transform travel as we know it.

Article source: http://wgntv.com/2016/06/19/electric-planes-could-provide-a-quieter-greener-way-to-travel/

15 International Travel Safety Tips for Roaming Wisely

When traveling to other countries, it’s important to always keep international travel safety in mind. There are many things you can do when traveling to various international destinations to keep you and your companions safe and secure. Here are some international travel safety tips to keep in mind for your next trip.

15 International Travel Safety Tips

Carry Contact Details for the Host Embassy or Consulate

When traveling around other countries, the local embassy or consulate can serve as your most important point of contact in the event of an emergency, whether it’s an attack, natural disaster or just a personal emergency. So make sure that you have a copy of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate with you at all times, both in English and the language of the country you’re visiting.

Leave an Itinerary with Someone at Home

It’s a good idea when traveling overseas to let someone back home know where you’re going to be at all times. Even if you don’t have an exact itinerary, at least leave the contact deals of where you plan on staying. And schedule times to check in with them throughout the trip as well.

Sign Up for Travel Alerts

Before you depart, you can sign up for travel alerts from the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). These alerts can call your attention to any issues that might impact your travel destination so that you can plan accordingly. For example, if there’s an emergency situation in the country you’re visiting, you can get an alert with information and instructions from the U.S. government.

See a Travel Doctor

Depending on your destination, you may need to get additional vaccinations to ensure that you don’t get any contagious diseases while traveling. A travel doctor can help you get any required vaccinations or tests and even advise you on any additional precautions that may not be officially required but still beneficial.

Research Local Emergency Centers

While traveling, it’s unlikely that you’ll know just off the top of your head where to go in the event of an emergency. So look up that information before you even leave so that you can be prepared just in case you need to get to a hospital or evacuation center.

Get Traveler’s Insurance

If you’re traveling and you get sick or injured, your regular insurance policy may not cover any expenses that you incur. But you can purchase a special policy just to cover any emergency expenses that you rack up while traveling internationally.

Check Your Taxis

Taxis can be a great way to get around in many parts of the world. But depending on your destination, riding in taxis isn’t always as reliable as it is in the U.S. So make sure that any taxis you ride in are licensed and that the photo on the license actually looks like the driver.

Carry Emergency Numbers with You

In addition to having the embassy’s information with you at all times, it’s also a good idea to carry an emergency contact number or two. If you know anyone who lives near your destination, include them. And then also have the number for someone back home.

Have a Phone that Can Make International Calls

Before you leave, even if you don’t plan on making tons of phone calls, make sure that you either get an international calling plan for your phone or buy a temporary phone that will work in your destination. You’ll be glad you have the ability to make calls in the event of an emergency or if you get separated from your group.

Research Cultural Norms

Every country has a different set of customs and acceptable behavior. Some can seem pretty similar to the U.S., while others are much different. So before you leave, do some research online or by talking to others who have visited your destination to make sure that you can avoid any behavior or appearance issues that might offend or anger the residents of your destination.

Track and Secure Your Valuables

Theft of valuables can be a major issue for travelers. To combat that, it’s a good idea to have a plan to track and safely carry your valuables. That means you should always be aware of the amount of money and other valuables that you brought with you. You might even consider keeping a running list of what you’ve spent or obtained so that you know what you have at all times. Then when you go out and explore, don’t take all of your money and valuables with you just in case there’s a theft or accident. But make sure you know exactly what you have on you and what you left with the rest of your belongings.

Make Copies of Your Passport

Your passport is your major source of identification when traveling to other countries. So in the event that you lose it, your travel plans can really go awry. That’s why you should have a backup copy with you in another bag just in case. And consider leaving another copy or scan of your passport with someone you know back home as well.

Only Bring What You Absolutely Need

Before you leave home and before you go out on any excursions, evaluate whether you actually need everything that you’ve decided to take. If you’re bringing a bunch of cash, expensive tech devices and other valuables that you might not even use, you’re risking those items getting lost or stolen. Instead, bring only what you absolutely need and leave the rest at home or in your secure room.

Clear Any Sensitive Data

If you are bringing a laptop or similar device that contains sensitive personal data, you could risk getting hacked or exposing your data in the case of a theft. If you do absolutely need to bring those devices, clear all of your personal data before leaving on your trip. Then even if your device is hacked or stolen, you can keep the damage to a minimum.

Change Your Passwords When You Return

Then when you get back, change all of the passwords to your devices and major accounts just in case hackers were able to access your devices.

International Travel Photo via Shutterstock

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Article source: http://smallbiztrends.com/2016/06/international-travel-safety-tips.html

Travel, trade embargo on Cuba hurts Alabama businesses

Clockwise from top left: Alabama Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, State Senator Jabo Waggoner, and State Senator Vivian Davis Figures.

By Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, Alabama Senator Vivian Davis Figures, Alabama Senator Jabo Waggoner and state Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan.

Despite the fact that the Port of Mobile is located just across the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama businesses will continue to lose out on Cuba’s growing markets to foreign competitors until Congress ends the U.S. travel and trade embargo on Cuba.

This 50-year-old isolationist policy is not only infringing on Alabamians’ right to choose with whom they can and can’t do business; it has also negatively impacted the Cuban people. The time has come for Congress to lift the travel and trade embargo with Cuba. 

Given Alabama’s world-class ports, opening up our geographic and commercial borders to our island neighbor would provide tremendous opportunities for Alabama businesses and enable economic mobility for Cubans. 

Recognizing this potential and the jobs it will create, the Alabama State Legislature recently unanimously passed a bi-partisan resolution (Senate Joint Resolution 43) calling on Congress to end the trade and travel embargo. 

Cuba is the only country in the world to which the U.S. government prohibits tourist travel. Alabama citizens are legally allowed to travel as tourists to North Korea and Iran, but not Cuba. Until Congress lifts the travel ban, we will continue to be prohibited from enjoying what is quickly becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Congress should not be in the business of telling Americans where they can or cannot go for vacation.  

As Cuba’s tourism industry continues to grow, we aren’t only missing out on travel. Alabama’s largest port, the Port of Mobile, would benefit significantly from increased cruise travel between the U.S. and Cuba. 

Cuba depends heavily on agricultural imports, which average $2 billion annually. That number is expected to grow given the rise in tourism and increasing purchasing power of 11 million Cubans. 

Alabama’s top exports would thrive in Cuba’s growing markets, and this is especially true for Alabama’s top agriculture export, poultry. Agriculture is a major economic driver for the state, and poultry is a leading revenue source of this industry. In 2014, Alabama broiler meat exports reached $478 million.

Cuba’s growing poultry market would provide tremendous opportunities for Alabama poultry farmers to increase exports, while providing Cubans with access to high-quality poultry. Additional top exports such as soybeans, wheat, feed and feed grains will be increasingly important for Cuba’s agricultural imports as its livestock sector develops. 

Not only will increasing agriculture exports strengthen Alabama’s agriculture sector, but it will also create more jobs at Alabama’s ports, which have a total state economic impact of $18.7 billion. 

While Cuba is famous for its cars from the 1950s, the country has lifted restrictions on automotive imports, creating an emerging market for automotive imports. Alabama’s number one export, automotive, could see a major boon from increased trade as Cuba looks to update automotive transportation on the island. 

In prolonging the embargo, the U.S. Congress prevents Alabama’s tourism, agriculture and automotive industries from growing, and allows foreign competitors to capitalize on these emerging opportunities which leaves Alabama businesses stuck on the sidelines. Expanding trade with Cuba would increase the volume of farm and automotive exports through Alabama ports, which would directly impact Alabama workers and our state’s economy.

It is clear that the embargo continues to suppress economic growth in Cuba and infringe on the freedom of Alabamians to travel wherever they choose, and conduct business in a promising new market 90 miles off our shores. For this reason, we’re urging Congress to pass the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act and the Agricultural Export Expansion Act. It would, indeed, be a win-win-win for Alabama, the United States and Cuba.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson of Mobile is serving his first term, having been elected in November 2013. His email address is sandy.stimpson@cityofmobile.org. State Senator Vivian Figures of Mobile represents Alabama’s 33rd Senate District. Her email address is vivian.figures@alsenate.gov. State Senator J.B. “Jabo” Waggoner of Vestavia Hills represents Alabama’s 16th Senate District. His email address is jabo.waggoner@alsenate.gov. Commissioner John McMillan of the Alabama Department of Agriculture Industries during the past year has worked with Cuban officials to assure continuity of Alabama’s poultry exports. His email address is john.mcmillan@agi.alabama.gov

Article source: http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/06/cuba_trade_embargo_hurts_alaba.html

Follow those travel tips, especially leaving time for a connecting flight

Regarding “8 Basic Trips for Travelers” by Catharine Hamm in the June 12 Travel section: As a longtime international and domestic traveler who has been inconvenienced by nearly all of the incidents described in the article, I can attest to these tips and recommend following them.

Dallas, in particular, has caused me many an issue, so I always build in extra time if I’m going there or catching a connecting flight.

Paul Eggleton, Simi Valley


Remembering the Black Hills flood of 1972

Regarding the article on the Black Hills of South Dakota [“You’ll Never Forget This Face by Deb Hopewell, June 5]. I have not returned to that area since being there on June 8, 1972. My family and I — I was 12 at the time — spent the night at Grizzly Bear Campground.

13 Travel Essentials That Could Save Your Vacation

Getting ready for a big vacation this summer? Before you go, read through this cheat sheet to create a list of travel essentials you absolutely don’t want to leave home without.

1. A Travel Credit Card

Even if you’re not habitually a credit card spender, it can be a good idea to take one with you on your travels. They’re a great backup in an emergency situation — although it’s probably more ideal to have an emergency fund to tap into instead so that you avoid going into debt. As long as you have some form of money with you, you don’t have to worry about losing everything else in your bags. Plus, using a travel rewards card to book your flight can net you better rewards for next year’s vacation and often some form of travel insurance or protection. (You can check out a roundup of the best credit cards for travel here.)

2. Essential Personal Documents ( Copies!)

Before you leave, be sure you have your passport (if you’re traveling internationally), driver’s license, itinerary, printed hotel reservations, airline reservations, contact numbers, and copies of any prescriptions for medications you might need. It’s best to carry original documents on your person. (If you’re worried about someone getting ahold of those papers, you can read these tips for preventing identity theft here.)

3. A Small Outlet Strip

Trying to charge your cell phone or iPad at an airport can be a challenge, especially if you need to charge more than one. Pack a small travel power strip, and you’ll be able to use a single airport outlet to charge multiple devices.

4. Basic Toiletries

Travel “essentials” in this area vary from person to person. But try to pack a travel-sized version of everything you use on a regular basis, from shampoo to lotion to makeup, in a well-organized bag in your checked baggage. It’s also a good idea to pack tiny versions of absolute essentials like contact solution, toothpaste and deodorant in your carry-on, just in case your checked bag is delayed for any reason.

5. Medications

If you’re on any medications daily or intermittently, be sure to take them with you. Just be sure they’re packed in their original prescription bottles in your carry-on. And be sure you’ve got more than you’ll need, especially for medications you absolutely need on a daily basis. If you’ll be within a day or two of running out of your supply by the end of your trip, contact your doctor or pharmacist to see if you can obtain an early or partial refill so that you have more than you need in case of delays.

6. Entertainment for the Flight

Don’t bust your budget by spending $25 on a paperback novel at the airport’s news stand. Instead, pack your own in-flight entertainment. Flights are a great time to catch up on books and magazines you’ve been meaning to read. Or you can pre-download your favorite movie onto your tablet.

7. Headphones

Even if you don’t think you’ll watch a movie on your flight, pack a pair of headphones anyway. They come in handy if you have a snoring seatmate, or if you just need some white noise to take a nap yourself on an international flight.

8. Extra Glasses or Contact Lenses

If you must have glasses or contacts to see properly, don’t just bring a single pair. That’s a recipe for disaster.! You risk missing the sights on vacation if your glasses break or you lose a contact.

9. Batteries Chargers

These days, you’ll mostly travel with chargers for your electronics. But don’t forget extra batteries if you have a camera that takes regular AA or AAA batteries. If you’re traveling internationally, invest in a charger that will work in your destination country, or purchase one when you get to that country.

10. A First-Aid Kit

Hotels are great for providing a lot of things, but they don’t always offer bandages and other first-aid items. Pack a small first-aid kit in your bag, and you’ll be prepared for the occasional bump or bruise. In your checked bag, you can even carry some non-prescription medications like painkillers or Benadryl. It’s cheaper to bring your own than to buy them in a tiny two-pack from the hotel gift shop.

11. An Address Book

You should either bring a physical address book or set one up on your phone’s cloud storage before you leave. Sending old-fashioned postcards home is fun while you’re on vacation. But you won’t be able to do it if you don’t have your friends’ and family members’ addresses.

12. An Old-Fashioned Map

At home, you likely rely on your phone’s GPS to get you around to new areas of town. But you never know what reception will be like in an unfamiliar area. Play it safe, and pick up a local map of the area where you’re traveling. If you’re planning to use public transportation, be sure those options are covered, too.

13. Carry-On Clothes

Finally, even if you’re leaving on a multi-week European vacation with two huge checked bags, always pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on. You just never know when you’ll be delayed at the airport, or if your luggage won’t arrive until the day after you get to your destination. It’s much better to be safe than sorry by having an extra set of clean clothes with you all the time.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: seb_ra

Article source: http://blog.credit.com/2016/06/13-travel-essentials-that-could-save-your-vacation-148297/

Summer travel destinations

Summer travel destinations

Demand for travel to Europe remains strong, and AAA summer travel bookings show that Rome and London are at the top of many international travelers’ itineraries this summer.

Americans are also flocking to warm-weather destinations in the U.S., Mexico and Caribbean, and increasingly traveling to Canada to take advantage of favorable exchange rates.

The top international summer destinations, based on AAA bookings for travel June 1 through August 15, are: Rome, Italy; London, England; Cancun, Mexico; Vancouver, Canada; Paris, France; Dublin, Ireland; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Calgary, Canada; and Amsterdam, Netherlands.

AAA’s top domestic summer travel destinations include: Orlando, Fla.; Seattle; Los Angeles/Anaheim, Calif.; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Anchorage, Alaska; New York.; Maui, Hawaii; San Francisco; and Denver.

Free, fast Wi-Fi at Red Roof Inn

Many mid-level and economy-priced hotels across the country already offer free wireless internet. But how many have free Wi-Fi that is fast enough to stream video?

Red Roof Inn, the economy lodging company with about 450 properties across the country, has launched a program to designate those hotels that have speeds fast enough to watch movies and video.

Most Red Roof hotels are privately owned and operated, with franchise agreements with Red Roof.

Instead of just promising fast Wi-Fi, Red Roof said it is employing a third-party company, Morse Technologies, a tech firm based in New Hampshire, to verify when its hotels have bandwidth fast enough to stream TV and movies.

Red Roof representatives said the exact speed needed to have a “verified” designation varies based on the size of the hotel but 3 megabits per second to 5 megabits per second is typically considered fast enough to stream video and movies.

Those hotels that offer the fast “verified” Wi-Fi will earn a special designation on the RedRoof.com website and on billboards adjacent to the hotels.

The program began in the last month with properties on the East Coast, with a nationwide launch expected soon, Red Roof representatives said.

Geography quiz

Q. Which is the Pine Tree State?

A. Maine. Much of the state is covered in forest, with heavy growth of white pines. The pine is featured on the state seal and flag.

Combined dispatches

Article source: http://www.vindy.com/news/2016/jun/19/summer-travel-destinations/

Travel and Tourism Board to bid out executive director job

Posted: Saturday, June 18, 2016 4:30 am

Travel and Tourism Board to bid out executive director job

By Melissa Cassutt
Jackson Hole Daily

Jackson Hole NewsGuide


The Travel and Tourism Board will seek bids for an executive director.

“Typically, with independent contractor positions in the county, we like to rebid those every two to three years,” Teton County Deputy Attorney Erin Weisman said. “This went out to bid in 2012. It’s definitely time to put it out to bid again.”

The director executes the plans of the seven-member volunteer board, which formed in January 2011. The board controls 60 percent of funds collected from the county’s 2 percent lodging tax, used to promote travel and tourism in the shoulder seasons.

The sitting executive director is Kate Sollitt, who has held the contract since 2012.

The position comes with up to $92,000 in compensation.

“There aren’t that many independent contractor positions like this in the county,” Weisman said, “and it’s a fairly desirable job.”

The Travel and Tourism Board met Friday to approve a three-month extension of Sollitt’s contract to allow the board time to develop a request for proposal, Chairman Alex Klein said.

“We made the conscious decision, with advice from council, that this contract should be put out to bid from time to time, as we do with all contracts,” Klein said. “This is not a reflection that we’re not happy. Quite the contrary. We’re very happy with Kate’s performance.”

Sollitt said she plans to submit a bid for the position when it is advertised.

“After next year, I will have the most institutional knowledge of anyone because two of the original board member terms up are up next June,” she said. “So it will be an all new board, in essence.

“It kind of behooves everyone to have continuity,” she said. “It’s a big responsibility.”

Weisman said proposals will initially be reviewed by a committee, likely comprised of two to three board members, a county attorney, County Commissioners’ Administrator Alyssa Watkins, and a representative from the town.

The final decision of who is selected for the contract will be made by the board, she said.

Klein hopes the request for proposals will be advertised in the next six weeks. Sollitt’s extended contract ends Sept. 30.

Contact Melissa Cassutt at 732-7076 or county@jhnewsandguide.com.


After months of observing comments on our new website, the Jackson Hole News&Guide has updated the protocol for online, article comments to use commenters’ first and last names instead of screen names. This update conforms to the Jackson Hole News&Guides protocol for letters to the editor and will allow for more productive community conversations. To post your comments going forward, please check your site profile here. Then select the Contact Info tab (far right tab), complete any blank fields with special attention to First Name and Last Name, then select Update Profile.


More about Travel And Tourism Board

  • ARTICLE: Town, county explore free START service
  • ARTICLE: Rendezvous fest pushes hotel occupancy
  • ARTICLE: Tax board gives $15k for trail grooming
  • ARTICLE: Resort to charge for Zac Brown concert

More about Executive Director

  • ARTICLE: Habitat for Humanity seeks new director
  • ARTICLE: Agnew is Science Schools’ new director

More about Erin Weisman

  • ARTICLE: Center for Arts gets land lease for 99 years
  • ARTICLE: People rush to appeal decisions that aren’t yet made
  • ARTICLE: County fights appeal of South Park denial
  • ARTICLE: Hearing officer is named for Steelhead’s appeal

  • Discuss


Saturday, June 18, 2016 4:30 am.

| Tags:

Travel And Tourism Board,

Executive Director,

Erin Weisman,

Alex Klein,

Kate Sollitt

Article source: http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/jackson_hole_daily/local/travel-and-tourism-board-to-bid-out-executive-director-job/article_14d5543b-1d17-5480-b9d8-3b0cbae0f6b7.html

Stacey Bendet Has Gotten Off Flights Because of Tom Ford Scents

Stacey Bendet, the chief executive and and creative director of Alice + Olivia, has come up with a set of rules to keep up with her busy travel schedule. For her, it’s all about traveling with non-wrinkling tops, the freebies on Emirates, Aspen in the summer, and always jetting with hat boxes on hand. And, most importantly, she strongly advises that aspiring jetsetters not be afraid to simply get off a flight if the scent of fragrance in the cabin is simply too strong to take for a couple of hours or more. Then again, you could always just fly private.

Favorite mode of travel?

Best travel shoe?
Alice + Olivia Stace Face sneakers or our platform Gianna shoe, which is the only heel you can literally run through an airport in (I have had to test this out more than once).

Go-to travel outfit:
Bell-bottom jeans and a long jacket or vest. I also always pack multiple non-wrinkling tops in my bag because I never seem to make it off a flight without one of my children spilling something on me.

What’s something you would never wear on a flight?
I am not a sweatpants sort of gal. I would never wear sweatpants in public. I always dress up.

Best or worst person you have ever been seated next to on a plane?
Worst: Anyone wearing strong perfume, especially the Tom Ford ones that sort of scent anything they touch. I get an instant migraine. I have gotten off flights when the scent of perfume is overwhelming.

Best freebie you’ve stolen off a plane?
The little cases that they give you when you travel on Emirates to Dubai are beautiful. It is the only time I have ever taken anything off of an airplane.

Airline with the best or worst food?
I always pack my own meals on flights, I find all microwaved airplane fare inedible.

What’s your summer vacation destination?
We spend July in Malibu—it is one of my favorite places in the United States. I love the farmer’s market on Sunday, ashtanga yoga at Mike D and Tamra Davis’s house, and dinners with friends at our house.

Best beauty products for travel?
I always carry homeoplasmine, which is a great flight hydrator and Jao hand sanitizer. My friend Lola Schnabel always brings me back an amazing facial moisturizer from St. Bart’s made by a friend of hers there and it is a great refresh at the end of a flight. My other beauty secret is a little bit of breast milk… It will cure any skin irritation in hours!

Name five essential pieces of clothing/accessories you can’t travel without:
Alice + Olivia suede hobo bag, pleat skirts (they never wrinkle!), vintage Sudan sunglasses, embroidered bell-bottom jeans, and a long vest or jacket.

What’s a big packing mistake to avoid?
I rather pack an extra suitcase than have everything stuffed to the brim in one. I also like to ship my luggage wherever I go.

Name something that always saves you when you are traveling:
Hat boxes! I have all of my hats shipped in hat boxes so they are not ruined in a suitcase.

Best souvenir you have ever picked up on a trip?
When I went to Istanbul I bought all these amazing bed covers, the most beautiful fabrics you have ever seen.

What’s your favorite hotel in the world?
Villa TreVille in Positano— it is owned by an old friend of mine and it is one of the most unique beautiful places I have ever stayed. You truly feel like you are staying in a friend’s home.

Favorite off-season destination?
I really love Aspen in the summer. Everyone runs there during Christmas and spring break to ski and it is so crowded, but summertime there is really magical and so underrated!

Most luxurious hotel bathroom you’ve ever seen?
The Mandarin in Hong Kong has an amazing giant bathtub, the bathroom is half the size of the room…

Article source: http://www.wmagazine.com/culture/travel/2016/06/alice-olivia-stacey-bendet-jetsetter-travel-tips/photos/

Give your family a 7-point summer travel checkup

Ah, summer vacation with the family — relaxing, quiet and peaceful?


What’s an “infant in arms?” Do kids need a passport? What if your family is going to a country affected by Zika virus? How do you avoid international roaming charges on the kids’ cell phones? And what if you are a single parent managing your first family vacation on your own?

“I remember being on the plane with bags and bags of things and trying to get the kids to walk down the aisle, and they weren’t even walking yet, and a woman behind  me said, ‘I bet you wish you weren’t divorced now,’ ” recalls Lissa Poirot.

Now Poirot is a family travel expert and editor of FamilyVacationCritic.com. Her two wandering toddlers are savvy travelers who are 10 and 11 years old.

While there will always be unforeseen events on a family trip, plan what you can to ease the way.

Before you head out, give your family a travel checkup. Check these 7 scenarios to make sure you are ready for that big trip.

1. Driving to or through Canada with children

This is a common practice  for people from Michigan who want to cut through Ontario to the East Coast, or who just want to take the family to Toronto or beyond. But it’s a bit more complex than just throwing the kids in the car.

*If you have NEXUS, the fast-pass border clearance, you can only use the NEXUS lane if everyone in the car — even children — has NEXUS. (Applying for a NEXUS card is free for children under 18.)

*Plan ahead for cell phone use in Canada. Beware that any child or parent who turns on his or her cell phone outside the U.S. will rack up big international roaming charges unless you’ve added an international calling plan.

For more: https://help.cbp.gov and click on “U.S. Citizens Documents Needed”; Michigan enhanced driver’s license: http://www.michigan.gov/sos/; NEXUS application https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/nexus.

 2. Flying domestically with children

True, the first time you do it, it is pretty intimidating. But you soon will get to be relaxed about flying with kids — and they’ll get comfortable, too. Bring snacks, toys and a change of clothes for little ones, and you’ll be fine.

  • Children under 18 do not need to show ID, but it’s never a bad idea to bring a birth certificate or driver’s license if they have one.

For more: www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures/traveling-children, also check your airline website and type in key words “infant in arms” to learn of policies.

3. Getting groceries at a vacation resort without a car

There is nothing worse than getting to your vacation rental and seeing bare cupboards.

  • Contact a grocery delivery service ahead of time to make sure food is delivered when you arrive. This trend is big in certain resort areas like the Disney/Universal area resorts in Orlando, Fla. But companies like WeGoShop also serve cities throughout the U.S., Canada and the Bahamas.

For more: Google “grocery delivery” and your destination to see what is available. Big vacation resort areas are most likely to have this service. In central Florida try www.wegoshop.com, www.gardengrocer.com, www.orlandogroceryexpress.com. In Breckenridge, Colo., try www.yourbreckandcall.com.

4. Flying internationally with children

Flying rules are the same as flying domestically, except for those noted below. Not everyone is up to flying long distances with small children, but plenty of parents do it successfully.

  • Children, even infants, need a passport. The child applicant also must appear in person at the passport application facility. A passport for a child also requires permission from both parents. (If your travel is urgent or within two weeks contact the Detroit Passport Office for a personal appointment.)

*If you have Global Entry, a clearance that lets you skip immigration lines, only you can use it. Children cannot use Global Entry kiosks on their parents’ clearance.

For more: Global Entry program www.globalentry.gov; child passport information https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/under-16.html.

5. Visiting a country where the Zika virus is transmitted

This is an increasingly vexing travel issue as the Zika virus spreads throughout the Americas. It now is in 39 countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America, including Mexico, Puerto Rico and especially Brazil, where the summer Olympics will be held.

For more: Get specific Zika travel information for affected countries at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices

6. Sending a child alone on an airplane

This used to be easy. No more. Rules have changed drastically for “unaccompanied minors,” with a rise in age for those who can fly on their own and a huge increase in fees. 

For more: Contact your airline and search “unaccompanied minor.”

7.  Getting your child to remember the vacation

Honestly, it is unlikely a child under age 4 will remember a vacation long-term unless it involves something shocking that is best forgotten. Older children, however, likely will have vivid memories. So make your vacation count.

“When kids travel with their families, it becomes a bonding, shared experience,” she says. Making a scrapbook, looking over old photos or bringing home souvenirs will help little ones — and you — remember the trip long after it’s settled into family lore.

“It’s not what you do or where you go,” she says. “It’s the time that you are spending with your family that is important.”

Contact Detroit Free Press Travel Writer Ellen Creager at ecreager@freepress.com, 313-222-6498 or on Twitter @ellencreager.

Article source: http://www.freep.com/story/travel/2016/06/18/family-summer-travel-checkup/85478064/