Sunday, July 9, 2017

Travel Tips: Fact vs. Fiction

It’s been a long time since I last updated this blog.  Over the past three years there have been a lot of changes in my life that have kept me quite busy. I have been blessed with a third grandchild, started a new day job and gone back to school. I also took some time to write and publish my second novel, Uncle Imblay’s Fortune.

Now, however, the baby has become a toddler, I have settled quite happily into my job, I have graduated from school and the book is on the market. I once again have the time to do regular blog posts.

I have been reading travel stories on the web in stolen moments here and there, and I am bothered by the amount of bad information that some of these stories contain. Some seem to be written by people who write but apparently who do not actually travel. Some of the information they post is inaccurate and some of it is just plain wrong. Their ideas get picked up and reused by other writers who likely don’t travel either but have decided to write travel stories anyway.

So, in my return to blogging, I am going to expose some of these erroneous tidbits and speak the truth as I have learned it from my own travel experiences.

MYTH ONE
If you freeze your bottle of water, you can get it through security because it is now a solid and not a liquid.
THE TRUTH
No, no, no. Even though it sounds logical, it does not work. I have seen that trick attempted at least four times and each time it has failed.
WHAT WORKS
Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it after you pass through security. I bought this one from Amazon:  Water Bottle.
It rolls up quite neatly and clips onto a purse or luggage strap. Many U.S. terminals have water bottle filling stations available and if the terminal you are in does not provide them, many of the terminal restaurants/bars will gladly fill your bottle for you.

MYTH TWO
Dressing up improves you chances of a getting an upgrade to a better seat.
THE TRUTH
Dressing up has absolutely zero effect on the chance of getting an upgrade.
WHAT WORKS
Check the availability of upgrades 24 hours prior to departure when you check in online. If your flight isn’t completely booked, you might be able to fork over a little bit of cash and move to a better seat. In fact, sometimes if you check back just a few hours before your departure, you might find that your airline offers last minute upgrades at a steep discount.

MYTH THREE
Bring the flight attendants a box of candy and you might score free drinks or other preferential treatment.
THE TRUTH
Flight attendants must abide by strict rules regarding the services that they can provide. They cannot provide first class amenities to economy passengers. Asking for or expecting amenities that you have not paid for puts them in the uncomfortable position of having to refuse your request for special treatment.
WHAT WORKS
When you board, look your attendant in the eye and return their friendly greeting with a friendly greeting of your own. Treat each one with as much respect and consideration as you would like to be treated with and they will treat you in the same manner.

MYTH FOUR
Reserving the middle seat in a row of three may get you the entire row because people traveling together won’t book the other seats on either side, leaving you an entire row to yourself.
THE TRUTH
I almost fell over laughing when I read that one. For one thing, a great many people travel solo these days. Reserving the middle seat will only guarantee that you get the worst seat imaginable.
WHAT WORKS
Book the seat that you truly want. I prefer the aisle because I can sometimes stretch my legs out in the aisle briefly and because I find that it makes getting in and out of my seat a bit easier. My boyfriend prefers the window seat because he likes to lean against the wall when he sleeps and he enjoys looking out the window.

MYTH FIVE
Take a picture of your passport with your phone because if it is lost or stolen, you might be allowed to board the plane with the screenshot.
THE TRUTH
Nope. That is not going to work. Ever.
WHAT WORKS
Do take that picture but don’t expect to use it as a substitute for a lost/stolen passport. If your passport goes missing, take that picture to the nearest U.S. embassy to apply for an emergency replacement. They can process your request using just your vital information, but having a picture of your current passport will help expedite the process.

MYTH SIX
Save money by taking your own liquor aboard in toiletry sized bottles.
THE TRUTH
You can take it aboard but you cannot drink it during your flight. It is against regulations. Some flight attendants may look the other way if you drink your own hooch but others may not. Why risk it?
WHAT WORKS
If you really can’t endure a four or five hour flight without an alcoholic beverage, just fork over the $9.00 or $10.00 for the cocktail of your choice. If you’re flying internationally, many airlines, such as Delta, provide a free cocktail with the main meal.

MYTH SEVEN
It is cheaper to fill small bottles with the toiletries you need rather than buying expensive travel sizes.
THE TRUTH
It can be cheaper to fill small bottles from your shampoo stash at home but travel sizes aren’t expensive.
WHAT WORKS
Visit the travel aisle in Target or Walmart. Travel sizes of shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, cleanser, etc., cost about $1.00 each. Your local dollar store can also be a good source for affordable travel toiletries. For the low cost of $5.00, you should be able to get most of the lotions and potions that you need for your trip.

Reading travel tip articles can be fun, just don’t believe everything that you read. Before you go on any trip, take just a few minutes to review the TSA Travel Guidelines as well as the travel tip section of the site for the airline(s) you are flying with.

Happy travels!  

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