There’s so much to worry about traveling into Labor Day this year. Zika, terrorism, global warming — and avoiding news posts about Ryan Lochte and his public urination/vandalism scandal at a Rio gas station during the Olympics this year.
Travel is still fun as ever when it goes according to plan and no serious problems are encountered. However, traveling circa 2016 has presented some concerns and things have certainly changed when it comes to all the help that technology can now offer us in terms of cost and time savings.
Here are some tips to help you have a more stress free Labor Day travel excursion this year, no matter where you may find yourself traveling to.
Leave nothing to chance while traveling this Labor day.
With all the concerns over social unrest and outright terrorism to worry about when traveling abroad, consider registering with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Let them know your destination before your departure and they’ll keep you updated on the goings-on in the area you’ll be traveling to. They’ll also keep you updated about concerns during your trip, so you can make alternate arrangements and/or a quick exit before trouble erupts.
Ensure your passport is valid for your destination.
Experts, particularly those who work in customs worldwide, say that passports that don’t meet their country’s stay requirements are still the biggest reason for turning away citizens and not allowing them entry. Specifically, each country has different expiry requirements before they’ll even let you in for even a 5 day visit. Some will require at minimum that your visa needs to be good for at least 3 month. Others will want your passport to be valid, without need for renewal for 6 months to a year. Make sure you know in advance by doing a complete search of your destination on the U.S. Passports and International Travel site.
PreCheck helps avoid 3+ hour wait times courtesy of the TSA.
I personally just think this is a money grab, but hey… For $85 and a 10-minute appointment with a TSA agent, you get 5 years of missing the huge lineups at TSA checkpoints in the United States. After 9/11, things got pretty hairy in the U.S. due to terror concerns. Apparently, submitting to a Federal background check and submitting your fingerprints in advance is enough to justify letting you scream through the lines. See PreCheck page here.
Check your bags to help keep things moving.
Carry-on baggage does nothing to keep the lines moving at the airport, or get the plane off the ground any faster. Then there’s the aggravation of moving about getting to your seat through everyone clogging the aisles jamming their bags into the overhead. Sure, it will cost you more, but even if half the people who normally try to pack their carry-ons to the airline’s limit did this, the lines could conceivably move at least twice as fast. Big time savings.
Don’t get all trumped up about Zika.
Bundle up on hats, clothing and mosquito repellent. Just kidding! Well, sort of. For most of you, even if you’re traveling to Zika zones like Florida, you have to ask yourself how likely you really are to come in contact with mosquitoes during your trip. If you’re planning a bayou or rainforest excursion, Zika is a big concern. If not, you shouldn’t let it completely destroy your plans.
Off the beaten path is best for those looking for relaxation or adventure come Labor Day.
Coastal towns all over the United States and Europe get tons of traffic at the tail end of the summer. Everywhere it snows in winter and some places it doesn’t will have their rates jacked up sky high, as will the airlines and train services that take you there (heck, even gas will go up several cents a gallon). Don’t worry, a little research goes a long way. Check out USN Travel’s list of affordable Labor Day destinations.
Patience makes for a perfect Labor Day weekend.
Don’t forget to “pack” your patience when Labor Day finally arrives. It’s been a challenging year for travelers. People are going to be nervous, mean, pushy — insert the appropriate verb here. Be patient on this most busy day and try to do at least one good deed for your fellow man or woman!
Main Image Credit: CAW Media/Flickr