The Airlines Best Kept Seat Secret

pexels-photo-358319

Hate being squashed in economy seats ? Why not try Premium Economy? For those in the know it’s like an airline’s best kept secret.

Premium Economy is a small cabin in front of economy – these are the people already relaxing in their seats, drink in hand while everyone else is struggling past with their luggage.  You are on a flight from New York to London, approximately 6 hours, plus all that time sitting on the plane before you take off and the extra time taxiing around the destination airport when you land.  If your Premium Economy seat costs round trip an additional $500.00, here’s how you justify the cost: You work out how many hours you are on the plane, say 7 to London and 8 coming back, so 15 hours . Take the cost and divide it by the number of hours on the plane and at approximately $33.00 an hour it is money well spent. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have had these cabins for years. And they always sell out.

Here’s what you get:

  • Advance seating, as soon as you book, at no additional cost on most airlines;
  • First on the plane;
  • Only five or six rows in your cabin;
  • Lots of overhead luggage space as there are fewer seats. The configuration is usually 2,3,2;
  • Wider seat, much more recline, often a lumbar support and a footrest;
  • Blanket, pillow and nicer headphones;
  • A drink as soon as you settle into your seat;
  • Complimentary newspapers;
  • On night flights, they include an amenity kit, with socks, eye mask, toothbrush toothpaste and a pen; and
  • Hungry during the flight? A tray of snacks and goodies in the galley , just for your cabin.

It’s a win-win situation, especially if you get delayed waiting to take off , so that is even more time watching your movie. You arrive relaxed and refreshed, having had a comfortable flight, and are already enjoying your vacation!

 

Global, Mobile & REAL ID

pexels-photo-47481

REAL I.D.

Beginning January 22, 2018, you will need to have identification for domestic travel that meets the security standards as set forth in the REAL ID Act.  This Act prohibits Federal agencies from accepting driver’s licenses from states that do not meet the Act’s minimum requirements.  Therefore, you need to visit the TSA.gov website for the map of states that are in compliance. Certain states have filed extensions to so they can get things in order to be compliant  and New Jersey is one of those states.  The TSA WILL accept driver’s licenses from these states. However, New York is not compliant and has not filed for extension, so those residents will need to provide other forms of accepted ID, such as:

  • U.S. passport;
  • U.S. passport card;
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST);
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents;
  • Permanent resident card;
  • Border crossing card;
  • DHS-designated enhanced driver’s license;
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID;
  • HSPD-12 PIV card;
  • Foreign government-issued passport;
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card;
  • Transportation worker identification credential;
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766); or
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential

All U.S. citizens over the age of 18 must provide one of those forms of identification at airports in order to travel domestically. Please go to http://www.travel.state.gov for more information.

PASSPORTS:

For interntational travel, all U.S. citizens over the age of 18 must have a valid passport in order to re-enter the United States. Here are a few helpful tips:

  • make sure your passport is valid for at least six (6) months AFTER the date of your travel.   Certain countries will deny you entry if
  • it isn’t.
  • An adult passport is valid for ten (10) years. A child’s passport is only valid for five (5) years, so be sure to check your children’s passports when you are planning travel out of the country.
  • A Passport Book is always better than a a Passport Card!  While the card may be cheaper, it stops you from traveling via air and/or most cruises that go to foreign countries.
  • when traveling in another country, keep your passport locked up in your hotel’s safe when you’re out and about.  However, it’s a good idea to make a copy of the passport information pages to keep with you in case there’s ever an issue.

Global Entry and TSA Precheck

TSA Precheck will provide you expedited security screening for flights departing U.S. cities.  Global Entry provides TSA Precheck as well as expedited U.S. Customs screening for international air travelers.  TSA Precheck costs $85 and Global Entry costs $100 for a five year membership.  For the $15 difference, if you travel out of the country even just once a year, the value is in Global Entry.  For more information on each program and how to apply, please visit the TSA website.

There is also an app called Mobile Passport, which helps expedite you through U.S. Customs.  Download the app and when you are within four hours of arriving back into the U.S., you enter your trip and the information required, which is the same as the paper Customs form the airline gives you before you land.  Once in the airport, you go on the Global Entry line, not the other LONG, LONG line, and scan your passport and the QR Code that Mobile Passport gives you.  Wa La!!  You are through Customs in no time!

If you travel to Aruba frequently:  Go to the Aruba.com website and at the very bottom you will see “Aruba ED Card”.  If you fill this out before going through Arubian Customs, this will expedite you through without having to fill out the paper form at the airport. 

And lastly, if you are an American Express Platinum Card member, you can receive one Global Entry ($100) or TSA Precheck ($85) statement credit every four years for the application fee if you’re charging it to your Platinum Card.  Please go to http://www.americanexpress.com and search Platinum Card benefits for a full disclosure on all the benefits of Platinum Card membership.

 

 

 

 

Kangaroos, Koalas or Opera?

sidney opera house at night

What does Australia mean to you? Kangaroos, koalas, Sydney Opera House? It’s all that and so much more. It’s a vast continent with 24 million people and a truly diverse landscape, with aboriginal history and culture in everything you see and do. Australians are warm, friendly people with a great  sense of humor.  It’s a bucket list item for many people and much easier to get to then you would imagine. The seasons are opposite to the USA,  so Australians are having barbecues on the beach in January. On a first visit the main three are usually a must see-  Sydney, Great Barrier Reef and Uluru (Ayers Rock).  All three are great for families, couples and groups.

A typical itinerary would have 3 or 4 nights in Sydney, 3 nights in Cairns and 2 or 3 at Uluru, with flights in between each city.

In Sydney you can climb or walk the Harbour Bridge, visit the Opera House for a tour or a performance, walk through the Botanical gardens, take ferries across the harbor, watch the surfers at Bondi Beach and even take your own surf lesson. Take a day excursion to the Blue Mountains, go to Hunter Valley for wine tasting and watch movies under the stars.

Queensland is the home of the Great Barrier Reef – a great place to stay is Port Douglas – a charming walkable village full of great restaurants and boutique stores. An inexpensive shuttle runs to all the hotels from the main street, so you  never have to worry about driving. Day trips to the reef go from this point and you can snorkel, scuba, do a semi-submersible or sit and enjoy the view of the spectacular coral.

Another great day out is the Kuranda scenic rail, Skyrail and Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park. Stunning scenery from an original steam train – time in Kuranda to visit Kuranda Koala Gardens (who doesn’t want their picture taken holding a cuddly koala?) and then the return journey is on the Skytrain Gondola across the rainforest. At Tjapukai you can learn about the culture of the Aborigines, try your hand at spear and boomerang throwing – not as easy as it looks, and of course, spend time in the gift shop.

Uluru – previously named  Ayers Rock, is the huge red rock you see in all the pictures of Australia, and is a sacred site to an indigenous Aboriginal tribe. Rising up from the desert floor in the Northern Territory, it is millions of years old, over 2,800 feet high, and is part of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to view this sandstone monolith and nothing can beat a ballooning experience over the area. The field of light experience under the stars, is a wonderful pattern of glass globes lighting up the night sky, and this is currently extended until March 2018.

Australia is almost the same size as the USA so it is worth two or three trips to uncover this vast and diverse country. Each region has its own climate so there is no right or wrong time of year to visit.

I am a Certified Australia Specialist and would be happy to assist you with planning your dream vacation DownUnder.  Please either email me directly at Pauline@skylandworldtravel.com or fill in the comment form below.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have Coffee, Will Travel

 

Join us on December 5th at The Coffee Potter on Schooleys Mountain Road in Long Valley at 3:00 p.m. for a brief presentation by our tour operator, Maria DiRocco, on our upsoming tour to Sicily next spring.  Come in, grab a seat to hear about this fabulous tour and have a cup of coffee on us! Please contact me if you’d like to reserve a seat!

Jill@skylandworldtravel.com

 

 

Buon Giorno, Sicily!

 

 

On my first visit to Italy, I tried to drink in all the sights, the smells, the sounds of this amazing country.  There is so much to see and do and get lost in that you would need many trips there and even then, not engage in all of it. From the best pizza I ever had right at the foot of the Spanish Steps to picking beautiful lace tablecloths in Venice, it was an experience I’d do over and over again.

My mother-in-laws’ family is from Sicily and so, it is with great pleasure that I am hosting an eight-night trip to Sicily in May of 2018. We are working with a fabulous team to ensure that our clients enjoy the essence of what the Sicilian Coast offers.  We will be enjoying lunch at an organic farmhouse with an olive oil tasting to follow.   A visit to a chocolate boutique in Modica to sample these fine chocolates.  Explore the Valley of Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Agrigento. Enjoying the island of Syracuse on our way to gorgeous Taormina, where we will have a cooking class at our hotel and prepare our own dinner, as well as explore the slopes of Mt. Etna.    This is an all-inclusive vacation, including airport transfers, round trip air, land and travel insurance.

La Dolce Vita!!!

We will be having an informational gathering about the tour locally in Hackettstown on December 5th.  Please fill out the comment card below to reserve your seat in advance.  Or you may contact me directly at jill@skylandworldtravel.com.  We hope you can join us and experience the true Italian way of life!

 

 

 

 

Travel Tips for Families with Children on the Autism Spectrum

 

As a grandmother of a child with autism, I thought I knew a lot about traveling with children on the Spectrum. But it wasn’t until I completed my certification training to become a Certified Autism Travel Planner through IBCCES, that I saw for the first time what my grandson experienced during his everyday activities. It was truly inspiring and eye-opening. That said, I’d like to now share with you tips to make your family vacation plans much less stressful and help you make those beautiful and special vacation memories a reality!

Some general travel tips:

– Make and stick to (as much as possible) a schedule for your travel plans.  This way the child knows what to expect and will find comfort in being on a routine.  Go over the schedule ahead of time so everyone is on the same page.

– Make time out for sensory friendly activity.  Inquire with the airlines or the airport about a sensory friendly place that the child can go to calm down should the need arise.

– Make a go bag with sensory friendly activities with items such as an IPAD or IPhone, noise-cancelling earmuffs, headphones with music, sunglasses, hat, chewing gum, weighted blanket, lap pad, fidget toys, silly putty, worry stone, bottled water and healthy snacks.

– Have an exit strategy.  Sometimes, no matter how well you plan, things just become too overwhelming for your child.  Establish a signal, something simple so as not to cause a scene and let the staff know about it in the event that they can assist if you need help.

– Your resort should have 24 hour closed captioned security cameras to insure the safety of your child.

As for airport travel, the TSA will allow a person with autism to be screened without separation from their group.  You should ask for a consultation with a TSA official before hand to advise of any concerns you may have and to let them know of any medications, sensitivities or required accommodations.  The TSA also offers Wings of Autism, which allows a practice run of the required security screening process so the person with Autism will know what to expect.  This practice run includes security screening, obtaining your boarding pass, boarding the plane, deplaning, leaving the airport. You can also request “silent boarding”at the gate, giving you priority boarding and the ability to get the family settled before everyone else boards, avoiding any sensory overload.

Taking a cruise can be exciting and yet overwhelming for people with sensory processing issues.  Consider taking a shorter cruise first to ease everyone into cruising, and be sure to discuss with your travel agent about proper sensory activities and excursions, as well as any dietary restrictions or sensitivities. This way a safe menu can be worked out, as well as them approving food brought from home.  Request express boarding to avoid long wait lines. Also, speak to the maitre’ d regarding being placed in a quieter area of the restaurant. Pack a go bag similar to the previous one suggested but add water shoes, sunblock, Dramamine or bracelets and sunglasses. And for your peace of mind, request (in advance) a phone to carry while on board so you can have contact with the dining room and the Kid’s Club at all times. You should keep your confirmation of your advance request to show when embarking the ship.

There are many resorts and cruiselines with staff specifically trained to make your child with autism feel comfortable, safe and happy while on vacation   All Beaches (family inclusive resorts owned by Sandals) resorts are Certified Autism Centers and their Kid’s Clubs are autism friendly.  You may also request a Beaches’ Buddy for your child for the entire trip or just for a few hours.  Karisma Nickelodeon Resort in Punta Cana is also Autism friendly with specially trained staff.  They offer (with advance notice of arrival time) having your child’s favorite Nick character waiting in the lobby to welcome them, as well as a private meet and greet with a Nick character for your child with autism free of charge.  They have a beautiful sensory-friendly aqua park and can accommodate any dietary needs.

Please contact our office to discuss any questions or concerns you may have and to allow us to help you get to that fabulous family vacation with as little stress as possible. Or you can contact me directly at jill@skylandworldtravel.com.