Thursday, June 29, 2017

Common Travel Issues...What Should You Do?

Lost Passport
When it happens, it can be your worst nightmare. You open your wallet or backpack and find no passport. Did you lose it or was it stolen? It doesn’t matter, it’s gone. What do you do? Act now. Go back to your hotel or where you are staying and search for it…just in case it slipped out of your pocket. If it’s not there…

Contact the police and then your local embassy. You'll have to show up in person at the embassy to apply for an emergency passport to get you back home. An emergency passport is only valid for a limited time, and once you are back in the States you'll have to apply for a new passport.

To be extra prepared, before you leave home pack the items you will need in case you have to get an emergency passport. If you do not have everything you need, you may need to present an affidavit of identifying witness. This will be filled out by a fellow traveler, who can attest that you are who you say you are.
Think about creating an emergency passport kit to take along. 

The procedures for getting an emergency passport differ depending on which country you're visiting, but here's what you'll probably need, no matter where you are:
A passport-size photo
A photo ID
Proof of U.S. citizenship (such as a copy of your birth certificate or the missing passport)
Travel itinerary (airline or train tickets, etc.)

Travelers often make a copy of their passport and store it in a different place from their actual one. You can keep a PDF of it on your phone.

Missed Flight
Don’t wait until the last minute, thinking the airline will wait for you. They won’t.
Even if you allow enough time, things happen. You may encounter security issues that aren’t even related to you. So, what do you do?
Has your plane taken off without you? Immediately go to your airline's desk. It is possible that your airline can get you on the next flight. They may charge you. Passengers who miss their flights sometimes must pay full price for a new ticket -- and prices are steep when it's the day of or the day before your departure.

What about your checked luggage? If you have missed a connecting flight and your luggage has been checked, it will most likely go on without you.
Try going to your airline's ticket counter and ask if it can locate your bags. The airline may be able to hold your bags until you arrive at your destination.

Lost Luggage
Have you ever watched the bags go around and around on the carousel and yours isn’t there? Not a great feeling. Especially when ALL the bags have been taken off. So, what should you do?

First, make sure you have your baggage claim ticket. Find the airline counter or office in the baggage claim area and fill out a missing luggage form. Your bag might just be delayed or put on the wrong plane and it will find you.
If not and the airline is unable to recover it, you can file a claim for damages. In this case, you will probably have to make a list of everything that was in your bag. You will get the depreciated (not replacement) value for the items in your bag. Not a good deal.

Be sure you only have your contact info tag and the one to your current destination on your bag. That way the scanner machines won’t be confused as to where your bag should go.

On the inside of your bag, have your contact info as well.

Illness or Injury on the Road
If you’re in a foreign country, this could be a problem. Do you speak the language? Can you find a doctor?

Call your regular doctor if you need medication. They may be able to call in a prescription for you. Ask the concierge if there is a doctor who can come to the hotel, if your illness is not life-threatening. If not, see if you can get a cab to the nearest emergency room.

If you have a condition which requires a specific medication, be sure to have enough with you and a prescription for additional.
Always have the following information with you:
Your doctor's office and home/cell phone numbers
Insurance company contact information
Embassy contact information

Contact information for a relative or loved one at home, especially if you are traveling alone

Monday, June 26, 2017

Stuck in an Airport?

Want to avoid airport delays? Who doesn’t.

Regarding delays, AARP looked at the top 50 airports in the US. Here are some of the findings.
For summer travel, Newark Liberty International in New Jersey was the worst for delays in the summer months. Others included LaGuardia in New York, San Francisco International, JFK in New York, Logan in Boston, O’Hare in Chicago, Philadelphia International, Miami, Ronald Reagan in DC, and John Glenn Columbus International in Ohio.
Planning on traveling through any of those this summer?

How about the best for on-time arrivals?
Kahului and Honolulu International, Salt Lake City International, John Wayne in Orange County CA, Phoenix Sky Harbor, Portland International in Oregon, Seattle-Tacoma International, San Jose, MSP in Minneapolis, and McCarran International in Vegas are your best bets.
The data used? Arrival data opposed to departure data was used because a late departure can still mean an on-time arrival if the pilot can make up the time in the air.
Happy flying…

Thursday, June 22, 2017

TSA Screening Updates

Traveling this summer may be a little different as you go through security. You may be required to remove your Kindle, paperback book, food, and any other tech items larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag. This new procedure is being tested at 10 airports, reports the TSA.
Why? Several reasons. Passengers are cramming more and more stuff into their carry-on bags and backpacks. This tight packing makes it harder for the agents to properly screen the bags. Therefore, more bags have to be hand screened. This all takes time to ensure proper screening.
The airports where this is being tested are Boise, Colorado Springs, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, LA, Lubbock, San Juan, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.
You will need to remove those items and place them in a bin. Passengers with TSA pre-check may be exempt.
According to the TSA, this should shorten time in the security line as not as many bags will be hand inspected.

Monday, June 19, 2017

La Cave Des Climats

The Cave des Climats is located at 35 rue de Verneuil in Paris’ 7th Arrondissements.

With an abundant cellar of wines to choose from, tastings, and food to compliment, this is a spot to gather to taste some new and different wines, or to linger with friends as charcuterie becomes dinner.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Upper Lake...Eat, Drink, Relax

We all look for different things when we travel. Relaxation, unwinding, and some pampering? Cruising on a lake? 

Maybe tasting award-winning wines is on your list. Or, looking out the window at some olive trees while trying scrumptious oils made from the olives on those trees.

Maybe you don’t want to plan out too much…just get away and have a great time! If any of these seem like an ideal way to spend a week end or longer…head to Lake County in northern California.

First, think about where you want to stay. The Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake is definitely high on my list. Completely restored, its wide verandas and welcoming garden beckon you to take a deep breath, grab a glass of something refreshing, and relax. If that doesn’t do it, wait until you see your room. All 17 guest rooms have custom-designed furnishings and amenities to please. Some include fully restored period and antique bathroom plumbing fixtures, some have private patios with Japanese Ofuro soaking tubs, and some are spacious suites. We opted for a room with the soaking tub…and we were rejuvenated as we lounged in the tub. What a way to start or end your day!

If you’re into history, talk to the owners. Bernie and Lynne purchased the hotel, which was originally built in the 1870s. Not only had it sat vacant for over 40 years, but it survived at least one fire, different owners, and was in serious disrepair. It’s not that way now.

The charm of the Old West architecture combined with the comforts you’d find in many upscale hotels makes this hotel unique and a destination spot.  Want dinner or drinks? Head next door to the Blue Wing Saloon with its casual California fare, signature cocktails, craft beers, wine, and entertainment.

If you’re ready to explore the area, grab a map of the wineries and decide where to go first. Boatique Winery combines the owners’ two passions…high-quality wines and rare, antique boats.  Set at 2266 feet, amidst alpine and oak forests, and in the shadow of Mt. Konocti, you’ll gaze out over 47 acres of rolling vineyards. In this Red Hills Appellation, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Cab, Petite Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc thrive. Ahhh…great tastes.

Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill is another place you don’t want to miss. Family owned, they produce award-winning wines and olive oils. Listen to their story, taste the wines, learn about different olive oils, and soak up the sun on their property and you’ll never want to leave.

If spending a day on the lake is what you’re looking for, you can hire a guide or rent a boat. Our guide showed us around the lake, pointing out dozens of different birds as we neared the shore. Apparently, birders from all over the world come here at different times of the year just to see the birds. Since the lake is large in area, with plenty of shoreline and grassy areas to nest, it is on a flight path for many different types of birds.

The best part…you feel like you’ve entered a magical place and time. Put it on your list to visit. You’ll be glad you did. And, you’ll probably be making plans to return.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Cite du Vin

La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, France, proudly marks its first birthday having welcomed 425,000 visitors from 150 countries.

The official press release gives information here:

As well as the permanent tour, the rich cultural programme offered throughout the year by the Fondation pour la culture et les civilisations du vin (Fondation CCV) which operates La Cité du Vin has also enjoyed great success, in particular the first temporary exhibition Bistro! From Baudelaire to Picasso from 17 March to 21 June, which welcomed 31,500 paying visitors up to the end of May. La Cité du Vin has therefore established itself in the local and national cultural landscape to become a place where Bordeaux comes to life. With foreigners making up 27% of tourist visitors, La Cité du Vin has also demonstrated that it enjoys an international reputation. In addition, a quarterly barometer has shown that visitors have been extremely satisfied.

Recently I was one of those 27% tourist visitors.

Stepping foot inside, my first impression is that this could be overwhelming. With over 3,000 square feet of information, exhibits, and short films…that’s a definite possibility.

Vineyards around the world are highlighted and explored. Wine history through the ages, the metamorphoses of wine, terrior and what it is, Bacchus and Venus, food and drink, and the city of Bordeaux are all a part of this museum.

Then, there was my favorite part…The 5 Senses Buffet. Hundreds of glass jars, each containing a different scent, filled an entire room. Each jar had a bulb-like device you could squeeze, which delivered that scent through a tube. Smell it and try to figure out what it was. Your audio device or a small screen near each jar, gave you hints, questions, and finally the answer. How did I do? Remarkedly well. There were a few that I knew, but couldn’t quite place. Then, there were ones where I had no idea…old books, aged linen, old flowers.

It proves everyone can enjoy wine…from the first smell to the taste. Fun!

We spent several hours there and could have spent more time. This is not some boring museum…even if you aren’t a wine connoisseur.

But, really…you are in Bordeaux, France!     

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review...Travel Purse

For those of you who travel with a purse, what do you look for in the ideal purse?

Should it be roomy enough to carry guide books, a camera, or a small notebook? Or small enough for only the basics? Does RIFD protection (radio frequency identification) matter to you? Would you like it to be a cross-body bag?

How about anti-theft?

For me, I look for many of those features.

While it doesn’t need to carry my camera, I want it large enough to carry a small notebook, my wallet, phone, and other essentials. Even though my wallet is RFID protected, I think it’s still a good idea for my purse as well. Sure, I could add a piece of foil…but this way I don’t have to. And, the entire purse is protected.

At the same time, I don’t want to carry a large purse. I certainly don’t want one where everything falls to the bottom and I have to dig through it to find anything. I want organization when I travel.

I want to be able to wipe it off if something gets spilled on it, without it staining the fabric. Yet, I want it to look classy enough when I wander the streets of Paris by day and when I go out to eat in the evening. When I’m traveling…I take only one purse.

For me, it should have ‘feet’ or something on the bottom, so it doesn’t sit on the floor if I need to place it there. The shoulder strap should be comfortable, yet not easy for a would-be thief to cut it and grab it off my shoulder.
Recently, I found one that I thought had all of those features.

Arden Cove is a brand founded by two sisters born in San Francisco. They put their heads together to come up with a purse and other bags that are functional, durable, and stylish. Their anti-theft waterproof crossbody bag is the one I tried for a couple of recent trips.

This purse had almost all my requirements. I’ll use it on the next trip.

Check it out at

Monday, June 5, 2017

Gratuity Guide

Many travel books and websites offer gratuity guides. While they’re not all exactly the same, most don’t vary much.

These are recommendations some taken from a variety of sources.

Hotel Shuttle Driver: $1 to $2 per person or $5 per party

Valet: $1 to $5

Bellstaff or Porters: $1 to $5 per bag, especially if you have heavy bags

Concierge: Varies, depending how involved or how much you ask for

Housekeeping: $1 to $5 per day

Room Service: Check to see if it is already added. If not, add 15 to 20%

Waitstaff: Check to see if it is already added. If not, add 15 to 20%

What do you tip? Does it vary from trip to trip or do you try to keep it the same? Are there times when you don’t tip, based on poor service?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

How Much?

You're in Paris. The hotel service is spectacular. You want to leave a tip for your housekeeping, but you don't know just how much to leave.

Is there a guide? What's appropriate? When should you leave it? Where should you leave it?

I've read different guides and the amount varies. Emily Post suggests $2 to $5 per day and the American Hotel & Lodging Association suggests $1 to $5 per day. Based on those, it's up to you.

Here are some things to consider:

Be sure to leave a tip each day instead of one large amount the last day. Why? You probably have different housekeepers each day.

Leave extra if you’ve asked for special items or extra services
Put your tip on the desk or pillow, in an envelope if provided. If you just leave money on the desk, without a note or envelope, they may think you just forgot some money.

You could write a brief thank you note, especially if the housekeeper has done something special.

Check your purse or wallet in advance to make sure you have small bills with you. You won’t have to find someone at the front desk who can make change at the last minute.