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Traveling for Thanksgiving? Here are 5 tips from travel experts

With understaffing and mounting delays and cancellations, travel experts offer advice and recommendations for staying ahead of the travel chaos.

It’s no secret that traveling this summer was more chaotic than in years past. But how will travel around Thanksgiving — one of the busiest flying seasons in the U.S. — look this year?

In the summer, air travel was hugely impacted by understaffing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, causing flight cancellations and delays along with lost baggage and an overall rocky journeying experience.

To ease the stress around traveling during this Thanksgiving season, TODAY spoke to two travel experts and consulted with travel site TripAdvisor to compile a list of tips and answer common questions about the less-than-friendly skies.

How will Thanksgiving travel look in 2022?

According to Tripadvisor’s fall travel index, six out of 10 Americans plan to travel this season, despite the travel chaos, and 50% of people plan on traveling more this fall compared to last fall.

Melanie Lieberman, senior features editor at travel site The Points Guy, told TODAY that she is expecting a more chaotic travel season than normal, given the fact that airlines have already reduced their schedules and demand is high during the holiday season.

Bobby Laurie, a former flight attendant and co-host of travel show “The Jet Set,” pointed to a culmination of factors that he says has the potential to unfold in a disastrous way for travelers this Thanksgiving.

“What I’m really interested in watching is the convergence of COVID and the flu together without masks because that’s something we haven’t done yet,” Laurie told TODAY, referencing how this holiday season will be the first winter and flu season that masks are no longer required on domestic flights.

“As people begin to call in sick, it’s now a question of whether or not these airlines have enough staff to crew and man the plane,” he said.

What time should I get to the airport?

Lieberman recommends arriving at the airport three hours before your flight to account for potentially long lines. But she also suggests taking extra measures to sidestep airport crowds.

“This is a really great time for travelers to ensure they are enrolled in programs that cut down on the time you need to spend at the airport and will make that travel process easier, so ensure that you are enrolled in TSA PreCheck … or Clear,” Lieberman said, referring to programs that allow travelers to skip long lines and have special exceptions at airport security, like not having to take your shoes off.

She also recommends checking if your credit card company allows access to an airport lounge, so you can arrive at the airport earlier and then spend time in the lounge.

Laurie also recommends arriving at the airport three hours before your flight, but he believes the long lines are the result of flyers anticipating them.

“Everyone goes super early, and then everyone’s there for a 6 p.m. flight at 7 in the morning, and now you’ve got these lines that just continue on forever because everyone’s paranoid,” Laurie said.

What can I do to make the travel experience easier?

First and foremost, both experts emphasize the importance of flexibility and having a backup plan, because it’s likely that your flying itinerary will not go perfectly smoothly.

Lieberman suggests flying out earlier in the week and later after Thanksgiving, given how short the holiday is, to give yourself a few days of buffer for getting where you need to be.

“One thing we’ve been recommending all summer long is taking the first flight out if you can, even if you’re not an early bird,” Lieberman said.

Casey Brogan, a consumer travel expert at Tripadvisor, told TODAY that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the busiest day of travel. She recommends choosing your airports strategically.

“Airports in major hubs will be more crowded, (so) it’s a good time for travelers to take advantage of smaller regional airports whenever possible for a smoother experience with less delays and congestion,” Brogan said.

Laurie added that some airlines have certain agreements with other airlines to rebook you should your flight get canceled.

“Not every airline has those agreements,” Laurie said. “So in the back of your mind, have a backup plan in the event you are canceled and the next available flight isn’t for three days, and at that point, it’s already Thanksgiving.”

How can I stay COVID-19 safe if there’s no longer a mask mandate?

Masks are no longer mandated on domestic flights in the U.S., though some international flights may require masks through a country’s specific COVID-19 requirements. But, Laurie said, masks are still recommended.

“It’s not unusual anymore to board an airplane wearing a mask, whereas in 2019 if you did it, everyone would look at you thinking, ‘Oh no, you’re sick,'” he said. “Now, no one would even think a thing if you walk on the airplane wearing it, so why not do it to protect yourself?”

Additionally, with the flu season fast incoming, Laurie noted many people will be falling sick, and every airline is handling sick calls and positive COVID-19 cases differently.

To limit exposure and ease the travel process, Lieberman reiterated the importance of not traveling in the days immediately before and after the holiday, if possible, and instead trying to fly on less busy days earlier and later in the week.

How can I ease the travel process if I’m flying with children?

Lieberman recommends ensuring you have early boarding, whether that’s part of the airline’s policy or something that you have to pay for, because air travel will inevitably be more crowded this year.

“Flying on a less crowded day is definitely helpful,” she emphasized. “(And) if you have a whole family traveling only with carry-ons, you want to make sure you have room for your bags in the overhead compartment … so keeping your family together and getting early boarding is one way to cut down on the stress a little bit more.”

Laurie recommends packing a little bit extra when traveling with children in the event that your journey hits a speed bump. He suggests looking into the airline’s seating process, because some airlines will not necessarily seat families together just because they are on the same reservation.

“So long as there’s a guardian for every child, there’s no real requirement to fit you together if that’s the fare you booked,” Laurie said. “Make sure if you want to sit together, you spend the extra $15-$20 per ticket and ensure you have your seats together.”

In all, Brogan summed up the travel experience in one concise tip: “Pack your patience, and recognize the airlines, hotels and restaurants on your vacation are doing their best to serve you despite continued labor and supply chain challenges.”

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10 Business Travel Tips You Probably Forgot Since Your Last Trip

Avoid a travel horror story by brushing up on how to prepare for a smooth business trip.

Everyone has a business travel horror story. One time a hotel receptionist said I was trying to check in a full day before my reservation and that they didn’t have a room for me that night (I wound up bunking with a very generous coworker who had an extra bed). A former colleague got stuck in Russia for about a week once due to some inexplicable mix-up relating to airplane manifests and visas (or his lack of offering a bribe, perhaps). Recently, a friend of mine wasn’t told that a 9 a.m. meeting involved taking a 7 a.m. boat to the location and she arrived two hours late.

Business travel can and does go wrong, though you reduce your chances of hiccups the more you prepare. And if you haven’t traveled for work in a while, you might not remember everything to it, down to the right way to pack your bags! Here are some tips and reminders to review before your next business trip.

1. Confirm All Your Reservations

Have I shown up to an airport only to find that a ticket I thought had been booked by a travel agent or sponsor had merely been reserved? And never paid for? And then I had to turn around and get in a taxi and head home instead of going on my business trip? Uh, yes.

Always confirm your reservation at least 48 hours before you travel. “Confirm” means go the extra step to make sure everything is verified. For airline tickets, look up the booking reference number alongside your name online to make sure your ticket has been purchased, not just reserved. For hotel reservations, call the hotel directly and double check the dates and address; if you need special accommodations, like an accessible room or a refrigerator for medication, confirm those details, too. Do the same for car rental reservations, train tickets, and other modes of travel. It’s much easier to fix problems two days in advance than on the spot.

2. Don’t Settle for Less Than a 3-Hour Layover

As I was working on this article, I asked coworkers to share their business travel horror stories. A surprising number of them involved “the airport dash,” that breathless run through a crowded terminal that anyone who has seen Home Alone can picture vividly.

When booking business travel, don’t settle for a layover shorter than three hours, regardless of whether you or someone else (like a travel agent) is making the itinerary. The advice was different a few years ago, but now with 11% more flights being canceled and delayed(Opens in a new window) compared with pre-pandemic times, three hours is the minimum.

When you first get your itinerary for a business trip, check the layover times closely and if you’re being asked to make a connection with insufficient time, do not approve the ticket. Ask for a new itinerary instead. And when arriving at an airport, show up two hours early if the airport is familiar to you and plan for three hours if it’s not.

3. Renew Your IDs

If you haven’t traveled much in the last few years, check the expiration date of your passport and other IDs well in advance of booking air travel or any international travel. Leave yourself plenty of time for renewing those personal documents, as some agencies are still behind on their processing times after being short-staffed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For passports, it’s always advisable, no matter what kind of trip you’re taking, to leave a trusted person with a a black and white photocopy of your ID page. You can save a digital copy for yourself as well, as long as you put it somewhere secure. For example, storing a copy on a cloud service that uses encryption is all right, and making it password-protected is better. In the event your passport is lost or stolen, you can get the details of that page, which will help the nearest embassy or consulate cancel the old one and issue you a new emergency passport faster.

4. Check With Your IT Team for Requirements

What do you require to connect to all the servers and systems you use for work while traveling? If you haven’t traveled in a while, there’s a chance your organization’s IT team has beefed up its policies. Do you need a special VPN connection? Will your machine kick itself off any Wi-Fi that it determines is not secure? Check in with your IT team before you travel. It also doesn’t hurt to ask for the phone number of someone who can help you if you get locked out of email, Slack, or whatever other communication tools your team uses.

5. Carry Small Bills for Tips

Did you know that you should tip the cleaning staff when you check out of a hotel? I meet people all the time who have never learned this tipping rule. While tipping isn’t a worldwide custom, in the US and Canada at the very least you really should tip the hotel staff a few dollars for every day of your stay. In other countries, it may not be expected but it’s always appreciated. Simply leave some cash in the room when you check out. If there’s stationary, write on a slip of paper, “Thank you!” The staff know what it’s for.

You may also need cash for tipping the bellhop of a hotel if you need to check your luggage. Or what if you show up to a business meeting by car where the parking is valet only? If you don’t usually carry cash, you should swing by an ATM that dispenses small bills on request or drop by your local bank branch to pick up some singles and fives.

6. Label Your Chargers and Devices

If you’re attending a conference or a large business meeting, there’s a good chance a lot of people will have the exact same chargers and cables as you. So label yours. No one ever regrets owning a label maker. Make some labels with your name and tag your chargers, USB bricks, and anything else you don’t want to lose.

7. Save Files and Important Information Offline

Many people know that when they’re traveling, they can save Google Docs offline and download web pages and articles to read later. For business trips, you should also keep offline copies of your itinerary and schedule. It’s really helpful to be able to pull up a confirmation number or the address of your next meeting on your phone or laptop quickly and without necessarily needing Wi-Fi or a data connection. There are some good travel apps, like TripIt and TripCase, that can collate your full travel itinerary and schedule for you, although throwing the details into a Word doc or note-taking app is totally fine if you prefer.

Sometimes when I have a few minutes to spare, like while waiting to board a flight, I’ll open important information and take screenshots on my phone. That way the information is saved in my photos and I can open it as long as my phone is charged.

8. Collect Receipts

I have been searching my whole adult life for a smart and effective way to remember to always get a receipt while on a business trip. I’m good about digitizing receipts once I collect them because I’ve long had a process for using scanning apps and being paperless. The hard part is remembering to ask for a receipt at the time of purchase. I’ve tried different tactics, like keeping a small envelope for receipts next to my wallet so that when I reach into my handbag I see the envelope and it triggers my memory to say, “Can I have a receipt, please?” But that’s ineffective now that contactless payment via phone is fairly common. If you do use your phone for payments, you can at least print the record of a transaction stored in your phone’s wallet. It’s not a proper receipt, but it’s a close second.

Most organizations will let you file an expense report even if you don’t have a receipt for every single travel expense, provided the expense is under a certain dollar amount. It’s always ideal to have a receipt, but if you are missing one or two of them, just ask if you can submit the expenses without them.

9. Pack a Backup Battery

In this era of conveniences, it stinks to be inconvenienced by a delayed flight, stalled train, stuck elevator, and what have you. Having a backup battery on hand, also known as a portable charger or power bank, lets you revive a depleted device. Make sure you bring a battery with a port that matches the charging cables you have, whether USB or USB-C. That way, you never have to go a moment without a powered up watch, phone, eReader, tablet, wireless earphones, or anything else that requires a charge.

10. For Highly Important or Stressful Trips: Print Key Info on Paper

What would you do if you were away from home and your devices crashed or were stolen? Or there was a blackout that disconnected you for a full day or more? Would you know where you were, what to do, who to call, or how to get home? If you’re ultra cautious, you’d have key information saved on paper for just such an event, in addition to your digital copies.

Most people think it’s overkill to print addresses, phone numbers, flight itineraries, and so forth for every trip, but you might do it for the most important ones or the most stressful ones. For example, I’ve moved overseas a few times for my partner’s job, which counts as business travel. And we have pets. When we move, it’s worth it to me to make sure I have every bit of paperwork saved in triplicate. Try entering a foreign country with live animals without it. There are times when you don’t want to leave anything to chance, and that’s when you should have printed copies of key information.

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4 Tips to eat healthy while travelling

Here are a few tips to eat healthy while travelling.

Returning from a trip means lots of guilt, dietary change, weight fluctuations, and a lot more. All this makes us regret our eating habits while also making us feel guilty about our choices. This may lead us to think twice before making another plan and jetting off to our favourite destination.

So, if all this has been a matter of concern and the reason behind cancelling trips, here are 4 tips to eat healthy while travelling.

Carry a box of dry fruits

The most common mistake we make while travelling is to munch on all kinds of unhealthy snacks to satisfy the hunger pangs. The best solution to this is to carry dry fruits with you and keep them with you at all times. Every time you feel hungry, eat a handful of these and you are good to go.

Include fresh fruits in your meals

Don’t forget to stop and buy fresh fruits on the way. Bananas, apples, grapes, and strawberries are some great choices. If dry fruits are unable to satisfy your hunger, fruits will surely do. They will keep you energetic throughout the day and will make up, at least, to some extent for the rest of your unhealthy meals. If eating fruits throughout is not your option, make sure to have it, at least, once a day.

Keep hydrated

Now, you may ask how does keeping hydrated come under eating healthy? Trust us, it does. Drinking enough water will boost your metabolism and will prevent dehydration. Your digestive system will also stay sound and you will be able to avoid any gastric issues.

Avoid your heavy oily meals

While travelling and vacationing, most of us tend to munch on aloo parathas, chole bhature, and whatnot. However, if you replace your heavy oily meals with lighter ones like daal chawal and sabzi roti, you are shedding off the burden. If you can’t completely avoid it, make sure to reduce the count. If you are eating oily foods for lunch, make sure to keep your dinner as light as possible. Include raita and salad, it will help.

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10 Tips to Follow When Visiting Brazil

Are you planning a trip to Brazil, one of the largest and most amazing countries in the world? Here are ten Brazil travel tips to follow during your visit 😉

Every year, millions of tourists choose to visit this extraordinary country, but you have to be well prepared if you want to enjoy your Brazilian holiday without mishap.

First of all, you have to be aware of the required travel documents. Travel Visa Pro can help you with that, especially if you are in a need of a visa.

Of course, for a spectacular travel experience, it is not enough just to possess the right papers but also to have knowledge of which situations to avoid during your stay.

This article will guide you through the basic travel tips you need to follow when visiting Brazil.

1 – Protect yourself

It’s good to start with the basics: protecting your body with the right creams and products and take the necessary vaccines.

You do not want to have sunburn or a million mosquito bites when visiting Brazil.

2 – Be careful with street food and drinks

For the sake of your health, it’s also good to be careful with street food and drinks, especially mixed seafood which can be hard to identify. And it might be a good idea to avoid cheap wine or unknown alcoholic drinks.

Do not accept unidentified drinks because they might not just make you ill but also get you into serious trouble if used by unscrupulous people.

3 – Watch your belongings

One of the most important Brazil travel tips is to avoid wearing valuables where others can see them.

This is applicable to items such as cameras, jewellery, credit cards and cash.

It’s particularly valid when you are at the beach, where you should never leave your belongings unattended.

4 – Withdraw money before 10:00 PM

Be aware that you can’t withdraw money from ATM’s after 10:00 PM, as they’re closed because of local regulations.

Also, if it is possible, use ATM’s in safe spaces like your hotel, banks and in brightly lit areas.

5 – Take official taxis and use service from reliable guides

On the streets, do not accept services from unmarked street taxis and city guides. And you may want to avoid the favelas because it can be very dangerous unless you’re taking a favela tour with a guide.

It’s important that you know which routes you want to use when travelling, as getting help in English is not always easy and can lead you in the wrong direction.

6 – Be careful when making new friends

Brazilians are very friendly, but be careful when making new friends whilst enjoying the Brazilian nightlife or accepting a private invitation from a stranger.

Also, as a tourist, it is always a good idea to not wander the streets alone after dark.

7 – Be patient

Brazil is a crowded country where patience is an asset. It’s better not to be impatient or try to hurry things, as locals like to take their time.

8 – Portuguese is the official language

It’s also important to remember that Portuguese is spoken in Brazil and not Spanish (and it’s not called Brazilian).

Additionally, do not use the OK hand gesture because it means something pretty rude in Brazil.

9 – Be cultural sensitive

Brazil is highly multicultural with several ethnic groups, so you have to be very sensitive when speaking about racial, religious or cultural issues.

Do not attempt to guess people’s cultural backgrounds based on their looks.

10 – Pack adequately

Brazil is a huge country with several different climate areas.

Therefore, you must also consider which parts of the country you are planning to visit, and when, in order to pack the right clothing and shoes.

You want to avoid freezing in the mountains or getting sunstroke on a beach.

Every traveller knows that part of the fun and joy of a foreign holiday is the fact that there could be challenges and even danger.

The most important thing is to take care of your health and safety and it’s essential to be culturally aware.

Brazil is wonderful but can be dangerous if you don’t pay attention to these tips.

If you are alert and take the necessary precautions before and during your trip, you can have a great time in Brazil.

Safe travels and have fun in Brazil!

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