Archive for the ‘Travel Warning’ Category

Service of Traveling Companions: Spoiled Trips or Saved Voyages

Monday, June 14th, 2021

Many think traveling with someone will ensure a great trip. Obviously you should know the person you’re planning to travel with–or think about what kind of companion they would be abroad or far from home 24/7, for a period of time.

These true stories show that even the smartest and well-meaning of us can be tripped up. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Drastically Uneven Budgets Ensure Disappointment

We’ll call the first twosome–dear childhood friends–Mary and Agnes. They lived thousands of miles apart and thought a trip, just the two of them, would be just the ticket.

Mary was on a modest budget and Agnes, it turned out, had barely a cent to spend. Before the trip Mary didn’t realize Agnes’s financial constraints were so dire. On their return Mary confided that she was disappointed at not being able to visit a single restaurant as Agnes wouldn’t let her pay yet she couldn’t afford such a meal.

Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Then there was Tricia and Polly–also made up names. Tricia said her trip was one of the worst experiences of her life.

Polly invited Tricia to Europe. Tricia grabbed the chance of a free trip.

She’d get up early to fit in as much sightseeing in a day as possible and Polly slept late and didn’t want Tricia to leave their hotel room without her. For dietary reasons Tricia needed to eat three meals a day. Polly would eat a candy bar at 11:00 a.m. and say she wasn’t hungry for lunch and wouldn’t stop for Tricia to grab something.

Tricia told Polly that an office friend had asked her to bring back a few bars of chocolate naming an ordinary brand not yet available in the States. Polly had never heard of it. Tricia would duck into store after store and come out empty handed because they didn’t have the milk with nuts favorite.

Their relationship was so frayed by the time they arrived at a picturesque village that they finally agreed to explore it separately. Tricia found a newspaper store and asked about the elusive chocolate bar. “A woman just left with the last five,” said the shop owner.  Guess who showed up with a little bag and the chocolate? And she wouldn’t give even one to Tricia for the office friend.

This Gift Horse Who’d Had It

Another pair–let’s say Gail and Francesca–were cousins. Gail invited Francesca on a Viking River Cruise. [I love their tempting commercials on PBS.] The women hadn’t seen each other in years. Turns out Francesca had gained so much weight she could hardly walk and wasn’t up to taking side trips or moving much at all, putting a damper on the experience for Gail.

She changed partners for her next Viking Cruise. This time her friend/guest Marilyn made troublesome disappearing acts. In one port she took off in mid land tour. Gail waited for her at one stop and missed most of the side trip. In addition to that frustration she feared something had happened to Marilyn. As great as the cruise was otherwise, Marilyn’s childish games spoiled Gail’s time.

My Guidelines for Traveling with a Friend

With the exception of business trips, my travels have been mostly with a parent, significant other or spouse. A trip alone eons ago to an intimate island resort turned out to be one of my best vacations–but I digress.

Before the first trip with anyone, even the love of your life, an adult would be well served to explore their traveling companion’s expectations and to spell out theirs so as to agree on a few guidelines before taking a step.

Given the experiences noted above, my druthers would be:

  • We each get up when we want [unless we are catching a flight or train].  No resentment if one wants to veg out in the room and the other is raring to explore.
  • In cities, if we want to visit different things, we can meet back in the room at a predetermined time.
  • Especially if a shared bedroom is small, keep it neat as possible.
  • Address budgets–level of restaurant expense and timing of meals. Figure out how to make it work–or at least know about it beforehand–when one eats no breakfast and the other, no dinner.
  • ID each person’s “must see” attractions before departure and make sure each departs the vacation happy.
  • No problem if one or the other doesn’t care to go on a tour.

Have you had–or heard of–a ruined vacation because of a mismatched travel partner? Would you discuss guidelines/druthers before a first trip? Are there rules-of-the-road you insist on? Have you been happily surprised by the experience of traveling with a pal? Would you rather travel alone?

Service of Armchair Travel

Monday, February 1st, 2021

Rochelle Walensky, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that this isn’t the time for air travel, vaccine or no. She was on a CNN Global Town Hall on January 27 with Dr. Anthony Fauci hosted by Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Right after she’d said this we saw a videotaped question from a grandmother who was about to get her second vaccine. She wanted to know when she’d be safe to fly to see her grandchildren. Even though the benefit of the vaccine would kick in seven to 10 days after the injection, Dr. Walensky stuck to her guns: Unless an emergency she didn’t recommend air travel.

The Viking cruise commercials always intrigued me and I like Rick Steves’ travel tidbits on PBS. Some of the Netflix series I enjoy–The Crown, Call My Agent, Lupin, Broadchurch, Marcella, Bloodline–take me to favorite or unknown places here and abroad. Traveling the Internet are extraordinary photographs of places I love or will never see.

Tourism and business travel are lifelines to survival of so many countries and cities. Businesses are crushed as a result of the stoppage from restaurants, hotels, boutiques and tourist sites to souvenir vendors.

The CDC orders travelers to wear masks. In future will they need to show proof of vaccination before being allowed on board planes trains and buses?  Hospitals and businesses can ask employees to get a flu shot but they cannot be forced to do so. Given the seriousness of the pandemic, will the Supreme Court make covid-19 vaccination a passport to public venues from theaters, sports stadiums and concert venues to cruises?

How are you satisfying your wanderlust? Are you planning to take a plane once you have been vaccinated or are you waiting for the all-clear?

Service of I Never Thought It Would Happen Here: Warnings about Travel to the U.S.

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Most American tourists who plan to visit countries that are in the news due to unrest read the State Department’s website to evaluate the danger before booking the trip. International travelers no doubt check in with the keeper of their country’s travel warnings as well.

It breaks my heart that we’re now the subject of warnings by other countries. The potential impact goes well beyond the slap at my national pride and obvious financial repercussions.

Our state department assigns each country with one of four numbers to reflect the safety of travel: 1=exercise normal precautions; 2= increased caution 3= reconsider travel and 4= do not travel. Businessinsider.com recently focused on South American countries reporting1’s such as French Guiana, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Suriname and 2’s Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Guyana and Columbia to 4: Venezuela.

The reasons for Venezuela’s last level: “The State Department warns of crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, kidnapping, and the arbitrary arrest and detention of US citizens. The agency ordered government employees and their families to leave the country in January 2019. There are also shortages of food, electricity, water, and medicine. The agency warns against travelling between Simón Bolívar International Airport and Caracas at night and not to take unregulated taxis from Simón Bolívar International Airport.”

Claire Parker’s Washington Post article “Gun violence in America prompts Amnesty International and a growing list of countries to issue travel warnings” raised my eyebrows and made me sad: How can this be happening in MY country?

Parker wrote: “A travel advisory the organization issued Wednesday ‘calls on people worldwide to exercise caution and have an emergency contingency plan when traveling throughout the USA. This Travel Advisory is being issued in light of ongoing high levels of gun violence in the country.’ ”

Parker added that Uruguay and Venezuela “have also discouraged their citizens from traveling to the United States, citing this weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, as indicators of danger and a rise in hate crimes. The Japanese Consulate in Detroit, meanwhile, released a statement Sunday calling the United States a ‘gun society’ and urging Japanese nationals to stay alert after the Dayton shooting.”

She continued: “These are just the latest countries and international groups to label gun violence in America a safety concern. In recent years, Germany, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand have issued similar warnings about travel to the United States.”

Shouldn’t Washington pay attention to this dramatic shift in image that points to the United States as an unsafe place to visit–and by extension, doubts about the security of this country as a safe place in which to park money? You’d think that this would be a wakeup call to immediately revise gun sale regulations and enact measures to ensure reasonable private gun ownership for an administration that honors the almighty dollar above all else.

In addition to lives, which seem to be last in a line of priorities for Congress, and the shame of the well-deserved reprimand by the international community, much more is at stake than hotel, restaurant, and airline bottom lines. Real estate and American-owned businesses should be prepared to suffer losses as international investors seek safer havens for their treasure.

And it’s not just violence-by-guns turning tourists away. A Crains New York news alert on Wednesday August 14, 2019 warned: “Chinese tourists sidestep NYC as trade war rolls on.” To end on a fittingly mercenary note, who, in DC, is watching the store?

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