Category Archives: Travel Tips
A gay couple is accused United Continental of “extreme and outrageous” conduct over an alleged incident involving a sex toy taped to their luggage, which the men say caused them severe emotional trauma. Back in 2011.
Christopher Bridgeman and Martin Borger of Norfolk, Va., are seeking damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy and negligence in a lawsuit filed in 2012.
The incident allegedly happened on May 21, 2011, as Bridgeman and Borger were returning from a vacation in Costa Rica. The men — who have been together for almost nine years — were flying back to Norfolk on Continental with a 90-minute layover at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. (Continental merged with United in 2010.)
Once they landed in Houston, the men collected their checked bags, went through customs, rechecked their luggage and boarded their flight to Virginia without incident.
But when they arrived in Norfolk and went to the baggage claim area, the couple discovered a sex toy had been taken from one of their bags, covered in a “greasy foul-smelling substance” and “taped prominently” to the top of the bag, according to the lawsuit.
United countered that it has conducted a thorough investigation and determined that there is no support for the allegations, spokeswoman Christen David said in a statement.
A district judge initially dismissed the case, but it was reinstated by an appeals court. Continental’s new parent company — United Continental Holdings — has continued to unsuccessfully attempt to get it thrown out. So now it goes to trial!
Make copies of your passport and leave one with friends and another tucked into your bag. Or, better yet, scan your passport and email a copy to yourself. (I make copies of my credit cards also).
Always put a second luggage label on. A suitcase is easily parted from its luggage label. I always use a second one complete with details of your flight and destination clearly listed.
The second you think of packing something, PACK IT. If you wait, you may forget. Packing for a trip is infinitely easier when you’ve just done laundry.
Try not to pack everything you own, EDIT. Pack for the best-case scenario. Think in terms of what you can do without. When in doubt, leave it out. Minimize by bringing less. Experienced travelers try to bring only things that will be worn repeatedly, complement other items, and have multiple. Pack with color coordination in mind. Neutral colors (black, navy, khaki) dress up easily and can be extremely versatile. The website www.butlerbureau.com has video instructions on how to fold a T-shirt and pack a suitcase. Go to YouTube to see Mr. Bean demonstrating how NOT to do it.
Pack more underwear than you could ever conceivably go through. They don’t take up much room, and after a few days on the road, you will feel super sexy when you put on a fresh pair in the morning and again in the afternoon and another in the evening.
Rolling items before shoving them into your suitcase really does save space. Backpackers swear by this method. Rolling works well with pants and sports shirts. Lay the item face down, fold back the sleeves and then roll from the bottom up.
Ironing. Try not to pack anything that requires ironing. Choose fabrics that resist wrinkling or look good wrinkled.
Shoes. Don’t take 5 pairs of shoes. I always try to wear a pair and take a pair. Think universal.
Never check any of the following: expensive jewelry, your toothbrush, your prescription medications, contact solutions, or your deodorant. Airlines mislaid 42.4 million suitcases last year, reason enough never to put anything you would hate to lose in your checked luggage.
Snacks. Wherever you are, wherever you are going, bring snacks.
You will inevitably forget something, either at home or while on your trip. Accept this reality, and pray it is not your passport. Or your partner!
For US Travelers, Europe is a great DEAL! For the last 10 years, I avoided countries that are on the Euro. Instead, I would go to Prague, Budapest and Croatia – it was always a better deal. But now with the Euro dropping…..
A few years ago 1 Euro = $1.50. This week, 1 Euro = $1.08
Analysts say, The euro is going down because several of the key economies of Europe are heading into deflation, which is always a greater fear than average inflation. European leaders are planning to apply quantitative easing strategies in March that will probably work to reverse the deflation but will likely not strengthen the euro relative to the dollar as QE increases the supply of euros. The fact is that a weak euro will hurt the USA more than it will hurt Europe as it impacts tourism from Europe and lowers the cost of imported products and services from Europe.
It’s a “Catch 22” I guess; Americans are expected to pour millions of dollars into the Old World as the value of goods and services decreases overseas. But there is only so much money to go around…U.S. could see a shortfall of tourists, which could wreak havoc on cities that depend on income from their vacations. Among those metropolises is New York City, which could experience a drop off of up to $30 billion in tourism dollars in the next year, or 50 percent of the current total, according to the New York Post.
It is important to be prepared and to expect the unexpected wherever in the world you may be. By preparing carefully you can prevent serious and costly problems for you and your family or loved ones.
Country travel advice and advisories – Get country-specific information on safety and security, local laws and customs, entry requirements, health conditions and other important travel issues. No matter where in the world you intend to travel, make sure you check http://travel.state.gov/ for valuable information.
Travel documents – Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport. Carry a photo copy of your Passport and Visa as well. It does not hurt to leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visas with friends or family, so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
Always pack a small First-Aid Kit – While we live in 2014, not 1914, and you can find modern medicine anywhere in the world, I always pack a small first aid kit with some basic essentials just to be safe. Why waste time searching a strange city for eye drops, Pepto Bismol or Imodium? I take Tylenol, stomach illness medicine, eye drops, Band-Aids, scissors, hydrocortisone cream, anti-bacterial ointment, and a small supply of doctor-approved antibiotics. I can usually find a pharmacy when I need one, but if they do not understand your needs, it can be a difficult situation. So in case of an emergency it’s good to have these items handy.
Cash and Cards – I always keep one back-up credit card and bank card with me in case of emergencies. You never know when one bank might decide to lock your account for suspicious activity without telling you (yes, that has happened to me), or when you might get robbed. I recently had my bank account information stolen while I was traveling in Europe. My bank had to deactivate my card and if I had not had a second one with me, I would not have had access to any money.
With the advent of the chip credit card, many countries do not take the American-style credit card anymore (cards with just a magnetic strip). While you should be able to use a credit card pretty much everywhere, you never know when you might not. One of my cards was rejected in Denmark because it lacked a chip, and I had to run to a bank to get money. We get used to using credit cards, but it is always good to have a little cash. I myself prefer cash. You usually get the best exchange rate on cash and avoid credit card foreign transaction fees.
One of the most important things I ever learned as a Boy Scout (they did not know I was gay way back then!) is their motto to always “be prepared” and as I’ve grown up and traveled the world, I’ve found this to also be a travel truism.
*Southern Decadence is an annual six-day event held in New Orleans by the gay and lesbian community during Labor Day Weekend, climaxing with a parade through the French Quarter on the Sunday before Labor Day.
When ever you go to a country for the first time, it helps to be aware of local customs and practices, so you don’t look like a total fool!
THRILLIST put together a great list of tips this week, for the international traveler coming to the US.
Everything from tipping to ice to how to handle police! It’s very cute – check it out!
There was a great article recently in Conde Nast Traveler which revealed how TWITTER can be your best friend when traveling. Take for instance American Airlines. A consumers luggage was lost. The traveler was in Quito Ecuador and she could not get assistance from the airport – allegedly they had no lost luggage system. The traveler tweeted AA and her luggage was located quickly.
Airlines and Hotels DO NOT want bad publicity. And they have discovered that an angry tweet can be very damaging. They want to fix it fast.
Want to switch flights? Don’t try to call by phone and don’t stand in lines – TWEET the airlines with your request. Most airlines are happy to put you on standby.
Have a dirty hotel room and the front desk says, “Sorry, we are sold out.” TWEET photos of the dirty room, and just see how fast they react to make things right!
LOVE THIS! TSA PreCheck!
With the TSA PreCheck program, you’ll get to use a special screening lane with fewer people in it. Plus, you’ll get to keep on your shoes, light outerwear, and belt, and also leave your liquids and laptop in your carry-on. You pay $85 for these privileges, though (good for a five-year membership in the program).
The TSA Pre✓™ application program is a DHS Trusted Traveler program. TSA began accepting taking TSA Pre✓™ applications on Dec. 4, 2013. TSA Pre✓™ allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers the opportunity to apply for expedited screening at participating U.S. airports.
FIRST CLASS is nice, I have to admit! I have been very very fortunate over the years, because I am a writer, I have been gifted first class several times – and on international flights, its quite amazing to have the space and luxury.
But is it worth it? to pay all the extra money – for most people no. However sometimes you can scoop a first class seat for pennies. Someone recently tweeted that their economy class fare of $124 originally and they were able to get first class for just a $90 upgrade! That is rare, but it can happen.
For me it has nothing to do with status. I enjoy the space, the seats, the comfort, the food, the drinks – it is special. Airfare Watchdog did a great article about it recently. Check it out!