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Travel Planning Tips


05 Jun Flying During the Pandemic

What You Need to Know Before Flying During the Pandemic

Travelers are returning to the airways. TSA reported it screened nearly twice as many passengers over the last weekend in May versus the first weekend of the same month. Some airlines are planning to increase capacity for their June schedule. That’s the good news according to a recent analysis of the airline industry.

If you’re planning to travel by air then it’s time to double-check your awareness of, and preparation for, the latest air travel changes and challenges implemented to minimize exposure to coronavirus.

My colleagues and I travel hundreds of thousands of air miles every year. It’s an essential part of our work in the travel risk management and crisis response industry. The following are a few tips and tricks you should know before you lift off on your next flight.

Air: Some travelers wonder if the air on a jet makes it easier, or harder, for COVID-19 to spread. The CDC reports most viruses are not easily spread on flights because of how airplanes circulate and filter the air. Air is circulated up to 6 times per hour and processed through HEPA filters which remove 99.97 percent of particles passing through them.

Jet Hygiene: Airlines are increasing their hygiene protocols to ensure onboard transmissions remain low. Some airlines are using UVC lights to clean surfaces. As an added precaution, you’ll want to bring your own supply of disinfecting wipes to wipe down tray tables, seat arms, windows and walls.

Queues: The greater risk of COVID-19 exposure comes from passing time in ticket lines, security queues, departure gates, jetways, and passenger seats—each of which potentially put you in close proximity with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Streamline your queue time by having all the necessary documents and information at the ready.

Onboard Seating: Physical distancing is tough in a confined space like an airplane. Most airlines have made the middle seat unavailable to help maintain social distancing.

Mask On: Keeping your face properly masked and covered at all times, except when TSA agents need to confirm you identify, is the safest option. Most major U.S. airlines require passengers to wear a face mask or face covering during their flight. It is strictly enforced at boarding and passengers are reminded and encouraged to wear them during the flight.

Double Check: Travelers need to call ahead to get the most up-to-date information, and check for updates regularly. Changes in flight schedules, travel restrictions, airline recommendations and rules—and how they are being enforced—can occur frequently. Your entire trip could be ruined by relying on old and incorrect details, and you may not be allowed to board the plane if you aren’t able to comply with the rules.

Testing: Currently, Dubai-based airline Emirates is conducting on-site rapid tests of passengers for the virus and Austria’s Vienna International Airport has started offering the tests for arriving passengers as well as other customers who want one. Experts suggest this could be the new normal for airlines going forward.

Track and Trace: You may be asked a few questions while making a reservation or during check-in, including: Have you traveled out of the country in the last 14 days? Have you been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus? Have you had any of the following symptoms: fever, dry cough, or difficulty breathing?

Signage: Most airports have placed markers in areas where line-ups occur to reinforce physical distancing as travelers wait in line. Passengers are also scanning their boarding passes—both paper and electronic—rather than exchanging them with TSA officers.

Wash Your Hands: Travelers should wash their hands regularly or use a minimum 60 percent alcohol-based (70 percent isopropyl alcohol) disinfectant before and after using the check-in kiosk, completing the security screening process, and showing your ticket at the gate.

Now, more than ever travelers need to plan for, and be prepared for, contingencies that affect travel. It is important to consider medical and security evacuation services and really understand what they will, and will not, provide. Make sure your health insurance is valid where you will be traveling. It is essential to have timely travel intelligence updates from a professional service. All of this preparation and forethought will enhance your awareness making it easier to avoid inconveniences or pitfalls. You’ll enjoy a better trip.

Courtesy of Harding Bush

Custom Travel Experiences

04 Jun Facts About Federal REAL ID

Facts About Federal REAL ID Driver Licenses and Identification Cards

What is the REAL ID Act?
Beginning October 1, 2021, the federal government will require your driver license or identification card to be REAL ID compliant if you wish to use it as identification to board a domestic fight or enter secure federal facilities that require identification.

Do I Need a REAL ID Driver License or Identification Card?
Starting October 1, 2021, you will need to show a REAL ID driver license or identification card or other federally approved identification (passport, military ID) at TSA airport checkpoints nationwide or to visit secure federal facilities.
NOTE: Check the TSA website for a complete list of approved identification.

You do not need a REAL ID card if:

  • You know you will not be boarding a domestic fight or visiting a secure federal facility, such as a military base.


  • will use other approved documents as identification.

If you don’t choose a REAL ID card, you will receive a federal non-compliant card with the phrase “Federal Limits Apply.” Those under 18 are not required to have a REAL ID card to fly.

What Does a REAL ID Card Look Like?
REAL ID driver license and identification cards have a star in the top right corner.

Check for the star.

REAL ID-compliant cards are marked with a star at the top of the card. If you’re not sure, contact your state driver’s license agency on how to obtain a REAL ID compliant card.

If I Don’t apply for a REAL ID, Which Card Will I Receive?
You will receive a federal non-compliant driver license or identification card with the phrase “Federal Limits Apply.” Again, Federal requirements go into effect 10/1/2021.

Who is Eligible for a REAL ID Driver License or Identification Card?
U.S. citizens and all legal residents of the United States can apply for a REAL ID driver license or identification card.

If I do not have a REAL ID, can I use a passport for domestic travel?
You’ll need a REAL ID at minimum for domestic travel come October 2021, and your passport can work in place of a REAL ID for domestic travel—but a valid passport will still be required for international travel.

For information by state, including where to obtain a REAL ID, visit the DHS REAL ID website and click your state on the map.



23 Jan Novel Coronavirus in China

There is an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness first identified in Wuhan, China, caused by a novel (new) coronavirus.  Person-to-person spread is occurring, although it’s unclear how easily the virus spreads between people. Other parts of China have had cases among people who traveled to Wuhan.

What is the current situation?

A novel (new) coronavirus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This outbreak began in early December 2019 and continues to expand in scope and magnitude. Chinese health officials have reported hundreds of cases in the city of Wuhan and severe illness has been reported, including deaths. CDC recommends that travelers avoid non-essential travel to Wuhan. Cases have also been identified in travelers from Wuhan to other parts of China and the world, including the United States. Person-to-person spread is occurring though it’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people at this time. Signs and symptoms of this illness include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. There are several known coronaviruses that infect people and usually only cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. However, at least two previously identified coronaviruses have caused severe disease — severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus.
What can travelers do to protect themselves and others?

CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to Wuhan, China. Chinese officials have closed transport within and out of Wuhan, including buses, subways, trains, and the airport. Remain alert if traveling to other parts of China by practicing the precautions below.

Travelers to China should:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

If you traveled to China in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should:

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

Clinician Information:

Healthcare providers should obtain a detailed travel history for patients with fever and respiratory symptoms. For patients with these symptoms who were in Wuhan on or after December 1, 2019 and had onset of illness within 2 weeks of leaving, consider the 2019 novel coronavirus and notify infection control personnel and your local health department immediately.

Although routes of transmission have yet to be definitively determined, CDC recommends a cautious approach to interacting with patients under investigation. Ask such patients to wear a surgical mask as soon as they are identified. Conduct their evaluation in a private room with the door closed, ideally an airborne infection isolation room, if available. Personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, and airborne precautions, and use eye protection (goggles or a face shield). For additional infection control guidance, visit CDC’s Infection Control webpage.


04 Mar Top 5 Travel Tips for Spain & Portugal

With rich and vastly diverse cultures, impressive architecture, delicious foods and distinctive regions, Spain is truly one of the most amazing countries in Europe. Mix this with the beautiful cities, charming villages and friendly people of Portugal and you will have a truly special travel experience. Here are our top 5 travel tips for your vacation to Spain and Portugal…


1. Know When to Dine
The Spanish take their mealtimes very seriously. Lunch is often the largest meal of the day and dinner is often eaten after 9:00PM! Of course, you’re welcome to observe your own dining customs while traveling, however you’d be better off to “do as the Roman’s do,” as it were, and choose a large lunch that will last you until the later part of the evening; this way you can truly experience the Spanish evening tapas bar culture!

2. Order the Right Coffee
Is there a worse way to start the day or end a good meal than with the wrong cup of coffee? Be aware when you order a “café” in Portugal because you’re probably ordering an espresso. For a simple cup of coffee, you’ll want to order the meia de leite, or half-coffee and half-milk. No matter what you order, however, you can be sure it will be robust in flavor and smooth to drink!

3. Be Prepared to Climb
Lisbon is a notoriously hilly city – seven of them, to be exact. No matter which direction you’re going, you never seem to find a way downhill. In fact, an elevator exists in the Baixa district, the Elevador de Santa Justa, built in the 19th century. The wrought iron lift transports pedestrians up and down the steep hill leading to the Largo do Carmo and the ruins of the Carmo church. Long story short – wear comfortable shoes, be prepared to climb, and visit the Elevador de Santa Justa!

4. Take the Scenic Route
The drive from Madrid to Lisbon is a relatively easy way to visit both Spain and Portugal as it allows for the freedom to stop where you want, when you want, without the worry of a schedule to stick to. If you do plan to make this journey, we recommend sticking to the smaller, more scenic country roads where you’ll find many UNESCO Heritage sites, walled cities, national parks and the most authentic in dining. Pull over and admire the beautiful scenery, stop for photographs and enjoy the journey as much as the destination!

5. Beware the Siesta
Most of us would welcome the opportunity to shut down for an hour or two after lunch, once your morning coffee has worn off and the rest of the day looms before you. However, when visiting Spain, one must remember that this is a heavily observed practice in the form of the afternoon siesta. Outside of Barcelona and Madrid, visitors will be hard pressed to find a business open between the hours of 2 and 4 p.m. Our suggestion? Siesta! This time is not just for napping, but a moment to reflect and recharge for the rest of the day, so take a stroll in a park or people watch in a busy square; whatever you choose to do, do it in the spirit of siesta!


28 Feb TSA Travel Tips

TSA screens more than 2 million passengers every day at nearly 440 airports nationwide. TSA is committed to helping passengers understand the security screening process in order to improve their travel experience. Prior to airport arrival, here is what travelers need to know:

Prohibited Items

For the safety and security of the traveling public, TSA, FAA and airlines prohibit certain items from being brought onto airplanes in carry-on and checked baggage. A prohibited items list and the “Can I Bring My…?” tool can be found on tsa.gov. Even if an item is generally permitted, it may be subject to additional screening or not allowed through the checkpoint if it triggers an alarm during the screening process, appears to have been tampered with or poses other security concerns.

3-1-1 Liquids Rule

Liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes, in limited quantities, are safe to bring in carry-on baggage and must comply with the following rules:

  • 3.4 ounces or less for liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes.
  • 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag to hold the liquids.
  • 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin.

Acceptable IDs

Adult travelers (18 and over) are required to show a valid U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID in order to be allowed to go through the security checkpoint and onto their flight. Travelers who do not have an ID may still be allowed to travel by providing additional information about themselves. Passengers who are cleared through this process may be subject to additional screening. Passengers whose identity cannot be verified by TSA may not be allowed to enter the screening checkpoint or onto an airplane.


Medications in pill, liquid or other solid form are allowed but must undergo security screening. Passengers may bring medically necessary liquids, medications and creams in excess of 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in their carry-on bag. These items should be removed from the carry-on bag to be screened separately. Liquid medication is not required to be in a plastic zip-top bag. Ice packs, frozen gel packs, and other accessories required to cool medically necessary liquids must be completely solid at the security checkpoint. If these accessories are partially frozen or slushy, they are subject to the same screening as other medically necessary liquids.

TSA Cares and Wounded Warriors

The TSA Cares helpline assists travelers with disabilities and medical conditions. Travelers may call to ask questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint prior to traveling. TSA Cares facilitates the screening process for wounded service members and veterans including individuals associated with a wounded warrior program. Travelers may also request a passenger support specialist at the airport.

TSA Cares Contact Information:
Weekdays: 8:00AM – 11:00PM ET
Weekends/Holidays:9:00AM – 8:00PM ET
Phone: 1-855-787-2227
Email: TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov

Screening Technology

Most travelers have the option to request a pat-down as an alternative. However, some passengers will not be able to opt out of AIT screening if their boarding pass indicates that they have been selected for enhanced screening. Whenever possible, the pat-down will be performed by a same-gender office.

Additional Travel Tips

  • Travelers are encouraged to check carry-on baggage before leaving home to remove prohibited items, such as firearms and knives.
  • When packing, de-clutter and organize carry-on baggage to facilitate screening.
  • Travelers are encouraged to arrive two hours before scheduled departure time.
  • Travelers are recommended to wear slip-on shoes to remove and replace their shoes quickly.
  • Pets must be removed from their carrying cases. The case must be screened through the X-ray machine. A leash will help maintain control of the pet but should be removed when carrying the pet through the metal detector.

28 Feb Travel Requirements & Tips for Overseas Travel

Travel Overseas

Traveling abroad doesn’t have to be confusing if you know the right things before you go. This section provides answers to many common questions from international travelers about planning for your trip, returning home and navigating passenger processing.

Preparing for your Trip

Get a passport for overseas travel. We also recommend you make a copy of your passport and put it in a separate place. Carry your passport – do not pack it in your checked luggage. You must present it to the Customs and Border Protection officer upon arrival in the United States.

Planning travel in the Western Hemisphere? Learn about what types of identification is required for travel in the Western Hemisphere (Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Central and South America). There are six types of acceptable documents for crossing US borders. These include:

  • Passport
  • Passport Card
  • Enhanced Drivers License
  • NEXUS is another “trusted traveler” program that is designed to speed your drive across either the U.S. or Canadian border.
  • Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved travelers when you arrive in the United States. This program differs from NEXUS in two ways: it applies to travelers from countries other than Canada, and it allows expedited entry into the U.S. only – it cannot be used for entry into Canada or any other country.
  • Visas are not required for American or Canadian tourists visiting either country for stays of up to 180 days. Visitors from other countries should review our links for Canadian Visa information or United States Visa information.

Find out if you need to get a visa. United States citizens don’t need a U.S. visa for travel, but when planning travel abroad may need a visa issued by the embassy of the country they wish to visit. If you have a visa, we recommend you make a copy and put it in a separate place. Carry your visa with you — do not pack it in your checked luggage.

All children, including infants, must have their own passport or Trusted Traveler Program document for U.S. entry. Carry documents for traveling with minor children.

If you are escorting a minor child without the parents, have a letter from both parents indicating that you have permission to travel with the minor.

If the child is accompanied by only one parent, the parent should have a note from the child’s other parent. For example, “I acknowledge that my wife/ husband is traveling out of the country with my son/ daughter. He/She/ has my permission to do so.”

If a single parent has sole custody, a copy of the court custody document can replace a letter from the other parent.

If bringing a dog, have a health certificate and proof of rabies vaccinations from a veterinarian in your country of residence. Prior to your trip, check with your airline for its rules on transporting animals – many airlines require a health certificate.

Returning Home

Find out what is prohibited or restricted before you pack for your return trip. Products that would injure community health, public safety and domestic plant and animal life are restricted from entering the United States and are subject to seizure by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency .

Other considerations for packing:

  • Carry only medication needed for the trip in its original container. Do not pack it.
  • Carry only the jewelry needed for the trip. Do not pack it.

Find out what you can bring on an airplane. Plan ahead and avoid the potential of additional screening, be sure to check out the prohibited items list below and pack accordingly.

11 Dec 25 Of The World’s Most Disability-Friendly Cities

Cities for All
Thes 25 towns are generally considered the most disability-friendly cities in the world. The list was compiled based on research from such respected disability publications as 101 Mobility, New Mobility, Access2Mobility and more.

Washington, D.C.
Surprised? Don’t be. With all of the amazing monuments and attractions, D.C. has done an outstanding job over the years of creating wide sidewalks and pathways for wheelchair users. Not to mention that the Metro is generally considered one of the best transit systems for the handicapped.

Berlin, Germany
Just know this – in 2013, Berlin won the European Union City Access Award for its efforts to create one of the most accessible cities in all of Europe.

Seattle, Washington
The home of the Space Needle has been widely praised for its implementation of a universal city design, allowing for more disability friendly restaurants, public spaces, transportation and more.

Milan, Italy
Like Berlin, Milan is a winner of the European Union Access City Awards, in 2016, for turning this classic city from virtually inaccessible to one of the best on the continent for the handicapped.

Albuquerque, New Mexico
The tremendous weather is an obvious advantage, but the city also has a bus system that is entirely accessible as well as a complementary Sun Van Paratransit Service.

Oslo, Norway
Not only is the transportation system handicapped-accessible, but numerous ferry options that explore the country’s fjords are also wheelchair-friendly.

Reno, Nevada
The Biggest Little City In The World is more than just a gaming destination. Reno has been noted for its plethora of accessible housing, rehabilitation centers and a strong public transportation system – with discounts for the disabled – that also includes a door-to-door paratransit service.

Vienna, Austria
As Billy Joel once sang, Vienna waits for you. This is another of the most accessible cities in the world, with drop-curbs, a handicapped-friendly public transportation system, and an added emphasis of making sure the historical sites are also accessible.

Portland, Oregon
The city has drawn kudos for addressing shortcomings with some of its most popular attractions, particularly trails and parks that can be difficult for manual wheelchair users. A task force has been assembled to assess the city for ADA compliance.

Dublin, Ireland
In addition to the many accessible areas of this great city, as well as its plethora of accessible hotel rooms, there’s this – the Guinness Brewery tour is handicapped accessible.

Chicago, Illinois
One of the best cities in the world known for its tight-knit disabled community, highlighted by the annual Disability Pride Parade. Taking it a step further, the city has commissioned the University of Illinois to identify the accessibility of buildings, facilities, sidewalks and stores to make its renowned shopping and attractions even more disabled-friendly.

Bridgetown, Barbados
Normally, wheelchairs and beaches don’t mix. But this Caribbean paradise recently instituted its ‘Fully Accessible Barbados’ program, with a goal of making sure its tourist attractions are for all – and hotels followed suit by making their accommodations fully accessible, including beach wheelchairs that allow customers to enjoy the ocean.

Denver, Colorado
Arguably the best handicapped-accessible transportation system in the country, with its priority seating on the Metro and a paratransit system that offers rides seven days a week, 23 hours a day.

Sydney, Australia
High on the list of any handicapped person with a travel bug should be Sydney, one of the most accessible cities in the world. Many restaurants and stores have flat entries and even such iconic sites as the Sydney Opera House not only are accessible, but have special tours for the handicapped.

San Francisco, California
Another place that’s a bit of a surprise, especially given the city’s hilly reputation. But aside from the famed cable cars, which are not handicapped accessible, the city’s main hubs of transportation – BART, Caltrain and MUNI – most certainly are. And all the major attractions, including Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf, are as well.

Frankfurt, Germany
Better known for being a financial hub and not generally considered a huge tourist draw among German cities, Frankfurt nonetheless has an impressive ‘Museum Row’ on the banks of the Main River, all of which are handicapped accessible.

Las Vegas, Nevada
One thing you can count on in Sin City – arguably the world’s best collection of handicapped-accessible hotel rooms, featuring transfer showers, built-in seats in the tubs, and wide swaths of room to maneuver.

Jerusalem, Israel
Don’t necessarily be put off by the fact that this is one of the oldest cities in the world, with miles and miles of cobblestone streets. Its holiest sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Wailing Wall, are handicapped accessible.

Orlando, Florida
Now this is no surprise at all. With Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, this is one of the most handicapped-friendly cities in the world.

Warsaw and Krakow, Poland
It’s hard to talk about one without the other. Only two hours apart, the two cities are connected by an accessible train ride. Warsaw, especially, has many hotels with accessible rooms and roll-in showers, and even its historical areas have undergone improvements to be wheelchair-friendly.

Berkeley, California
It’s not a stretch to imagine that such a great college town would be part of this list. The city does a tremendous job, not only with transportation services but also offers emergency help for fixing wheelchairs.

Ljubljana, Slovenia
Pedestrian-only tourist areas, dropped curbs, wheelchair ramps, accessible museums and attractions …. What’s not to like about this capital city?

Baltimore, Maryland
From its bus system to its attractions, Baltimore is one of the more disability friendly cities in the U.S. The National Aquarium is widely acclaimed as one of best venues for those in a wheelchair.

Scottsdale, Arizona
The city has taken progressive steps to develop its own code of practice for everything from tourist attractions to buildings and sidewalks.

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