(BPT) - Traveling, especially during peak times, can come with lots of hassles. Booking a flight, traversing through a packed airport and getting to the gate on time are just a few things that can cause stress. Then there's using those tiny on-board bathrooms, and hoping you get your luggage back in one piece.
Travel is difficult for the average person, but now imagine doing all this in a wheelchair.
“Problems for travelers with disabilities are extremely common,” says Shaun Castle, a service-disabled U.S. Army veteran and deputy executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). “By far, the number one complaint that we receive from our members about any issue, is about the problems with air travel.”
Castle has experienced the difficulties firsthand. He has had his wheelchair bent, cracked and even lost in separate incidents.
“These are more than minor inconveniences,” Castle says. “If my wheelchair is damaged, it may mean I am stranded until I can get it repaired.”
But things could be getting better soon for Castle and tens of thousands of travelers with disabilities with the signing of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 302) by President Donald Trump.
The passage of H.R. 302 provides a “bill of rights” and an advisory panel for passengers with disabilities, as well as revised training and procedures for TSA screenings for people with disabilities.
PVA calls it a matter of basic civil rights and has been a vocal advocate for safer trips for all travelers with disabilities. The congressionally chartered veteran’s service organization even challenged the Department of Transportation in court to move forward with requirements for accessible bathrooms on single-aisle planes.
There are some things travelers with disabilities can do to reduce risks, especially during the busy peak travel times.
Write it down. The group recommends attaching written instructions for folding and stowing directly to wheelchairs and scooters. Many airlines have forms online for passengers to complete.
Plan ahead. Call the airline a week in advance of the flight to confirm special arrangements and call the TSA Cares helpline 72 hours in advance (855-787-2227) for assistance with security.
"This new bill recognizing the rights of travelers with disabilities is a huge move forward, but there's more work to do," says Castle. "Paralyzed Veterans of America will continue to work toward accessibility for all Americans with disabilities."
Check pva.org/travel for more tips, resources and to share your travel story.
Ask nearly any person about his or her dream trip and watch a smile appear as the perfect personal excursion is described. Now, ask why the trip has yet to happen, and time and money will be the likely culprits. Carving out time and saving funds to make travel possible, even during the busiest travel seasons, can be a challenge, but these tips can help you travel the world in style.
Pursue Your Travel Passions
(Family Features) Ask nearly any person about his or her dream trip and watch a smile appear as the perfect personal excursion is described. Now, ask why the trip has yet to happen, and time and money will be the likely culprits.
The misconceived notions that may be holding you back from traveling can feel especially exacerbated during busy seasons when travel costs rise and coordinating vacation schedules with coworkers becomes a challenge.
Carving out time and saving funds to make travel possible, even during the busiest travel seasons, can be a challenge. Lee Abbamonte, the youngest person to travel to every country in the world plus the North and South Poles, and Bank of America recommend these tips to travel the world in style.
Book Based on Your Interests
One of the easiest ways to make time for travel is to book based on your likes and hobbies. When you plan a trip around your passions, it helps you prioritize the experience over the cost.
"When I worked in finance, I noticed a lot of my colleagues made excuses about why they couldn't travel," Abbamonte said. "I've found that booking travel based on your personal interests can help you stay motivated to follow through actually taking the trip. For example, I love watching and playing sports, so I often use that as a reason to travel to various countries."
One area you might be passionate about is food. In fact, 23 percent of Americans say they have planned a trip around a culinary experience, according to a Bank of America survey. Local cuisine also offers a unique glimpse into a culture.
"I love attending local food festivals and cultural celebrations," Abbamonte said. "Just one day at a food or wine festival can give you a great understanding of an area's culture and people, which is quite literally great 'food for thought.'"
Have a Credit Card Rewards Strategy
Earning points through travel spending is especially popular today. In fact, 65 percent of Americans have a rewards credit card, according to the same Bank of America survey. Yet when it comes time to reap a card's rewards, 55 percent admit they don't have a strategy to maximize points.
Abbamonte recommends using a credit card that rewards all your purchases and offers extra points where you spend most.
"Since traveling and eating out are easily my top two expenses, the Premium Rewards credit card from Bank of America works perfectly for my lifestyle," Abbamonte said. "I earn two points for every dollar I spend on travel and dining - which works out great to maximize my rewards earnings, plus I earn 1 1/2 points on all of my other purchases."
For example, think of it this way: Every time you use your card, you are earning points for your next trip. Even your morning coffee can help you earn points toward a plane ticket.
Have a Plan but Be Flexible
To get the most out of your travel experience, make a general plan for what you want to do. However, be sure to leave time for exploring charming side streets and unexpected surprises. You never know what will catch your eye once you arrive.
"I often visit multiple countries in one trip," Abbamonte said. "While I usually know where I want to travel, I don't always buy my flights between countries beforehand. You may want to adjust how you planned to allocate your time once you're on a trip. Maybe you fall in love with a bed and breakfast, and just can't part ways to catch your flight out of town. Travel shouldn't be a mad dash from destination to destination. It's a time to truly live your best life in a new place."
Maximize Financial Rewards
"If you qualify for a banking rewards program, you can really max out on your credit card rewards," Abbamonte said. "For example, Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients receive up to a 75 percent bonus on their credit card rewards - which means you could earn up to 3 1/2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases with the Premium Rewards credit card."
To maximize rewards, consider layering your airline, hotel, banking and credit card rewards programs together. Abbamonte, for example, includes his frequent flier and hotel loyalty program membership information while booking airline travel and hotels, allowing him to earn benefits from other loyalty programs on top of the points he receives with his card.
Find more ways to save for travel at bankofamerica.com/getmorerewards.
Maximize Your Rewards
An analysis of Bank of America's over 50 million debit and credit cards during 2017 showed travel and restaurants to be top areas for spending. Using a credit card that rewards you for where you spend the most can help pay for upcoming travel.
On average, consumers spent in 2017:
Photos courtesy of Getty ImageSOURCE:
Bank of America
(BPT) - Whether it's business travel, family road tripping or a romantic getaway, exploring new places is exciting. You may be counting down the days until you leave, but if there's one thing you dread, it's packing. Deciding what earns a spot in your suitcase is hard enough, let alone figuring out how you can fit it all in.
Do you look with envy at savvy jet-setters who seem to navigate airports with ease while only toting a small carry-on? It's because years of travel experience has taught them some packing tricks that make the process simple. Now you can use these same strategies to pack with ease no matter how near or far you plan to travel.
Select double-duty clothing items.
Check the weather for your destination so you pack only items appropriate for the forecast. You won't need that big sunhat if rain is coming. Want to take it one step further? Choose items that multitask. For example, a large scarf can be a stylish accessory and also be used as a blanket on the plane or at the beach.
Pack toiletries strategically.
If possible, only bring samples and travel sizes of items to save space. Then leave them behind at the end of the trip to open up luggage space to bring home mementos. To avoid luggage spills and explosions, place toiletries in plastic bags or add plastic wrap to the tops before screwing on the cap.
Choose time-saving tools.
Air drying hair takes forever and hotel hair dyers are often slow and unreliable, so pack a lightweight, folding dryer like the Panasonic EH-NA27-K Nanoe Compact Hair Dryer to streamline your beauty routine. The nanoe technology draws moisture from the air to create moisture-rich ions that penetrate each hair shaft ad enhance hair's smoothness and shine. Need more incentive? The unique Quick-Dry Nozzle is designed to dry hair faster, so you can spend less time getting ready and more time enjoying your vacation.
Fold to prevent wrinkling.
To prevent wrinkles on delicate items, try wrapping them around soft, bulky items. For example, wrap a silk blouse or cotton trousers around a sweater. Avoid folding clothing any more than necessary. In fact, many people use a rolling method for packing clothes to save space and prevent wrinkles.
Utilize odd-shaped items.
Shoes take up a ton of luggage space, so strive to select no more than three pairs, and wear the heaviest or bulkiest pair while traveling. Place shoes along the sides or bottom to strengthen the bag and then stash items inside to maximize space (like socks, nylons and deodorant).
Eliminate makeup mayhem.
Only bring makeup essentials on a vacation and pack multi-use items such as a lipstick that can also be used as a blush. To prevent shadows and pressed powders from cracking, place a pressed cotton pad between the powder and the lid.
Grab a few plastic bags.
One of the most versatile things you can bring on a trip is also one many people forget: resealable plastic bags. Whether you need a bag for bringing toys down to the pool, a place to put dirty clothes throughout your trip, or something to place that soggy swimsuit in before you check out of the hotel, plastic bags are your secret weapon.
(BPT) - Whether it's a quick weekend away or a weeklong adventure, family travel is a great way to bond and create lifelong memories. However, if you have an infant, you may be hesitant to pack all those bags and venture to the unknown.
"With their love of a set schedule and the familiar, plus loads of gear, babies are natural homebodies," says Sandra Gordon, baby safety expert and blogger at www.babyproductsmom.com. "Still, they can be surprisingly adaptable and getting out and about can be loads of fun for everyone. The trick is to be prepared so you can enjoy the journey and the destination."
Gordon offers eight tips and tricks that make infant travel easy so everyone can have an enjoyable vacation:
Prepare the diaper bag
The diaper bag is your go-to throughout your trip. Pack everything your baby might need including diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, snacks, toys, a pacifier, feeding supplies, infant formula and lots of Ziploc bags for dirty bottles, clothes, etc. An extra shirt for yourself is a smart addition as well, just in case.
Pack pre-measured, dry powder baby formula
Whether on the plane or out for the day, pack two to four bottles with pre-measured, dry baby formula that you can mix with bottled water at feeding time. To save up to 50 percent, buy store brand infant formula. All infant formula sold in the United States is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so store brand formula must meet the same FDA standards as the big advertised brands. It's available wherever infant formula is sold, such as Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Target.
Bring a prepared bottle
Bring a prepared bottle for the airport; it can help keep your baby content during the lengthy check-in process. It's also a must during takeoff to relieve ear pressure. You can take more than 3.4 ounces of infant formula or breast milk through airport security. Tell the transportation security officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the beginning of the checkpoint screening process. Visit the TSA for more info on flying with children.
Split up your stuff
When packing bags you plan to check at the airport, split up the contents so that each suitcase has everyone's clothes in it, including your baby's. That way if a bag gets lost, everyone will have something to wear for the next few days until your bag is found. Essentials such as formula, medicine, etc. should be packed in your carry-on.
Stick to baby's schedule
Babies rely on a schedule so there's no need to disrupt it when on vacation. Try travelling around nap time for domestic flights or at bedtime for international flights. Be sure to bring along her favorite stuffed animal or blanket that she normally sleeps with so there's something familiar to sooth her. Baby can sleep and you can relax.
Avoid popular travel times
Avoid crowds and save money by travelling on slower days. The day prior to holidays will always be hectic, so opt to fly two to three days before or after to enjoy a slower airport plus cheaper ticket prices. For non-holiday travel, avoid early-morning flights on weekdays so you and your baby don't have to compete with harried business travelers.
If you can't bring all your gear when travelling, consider renting. Ask your hotel about rental options in the area so you can have everything you need to make baby feel comfortable without having to lug items across the country. It is an extra cost, but it also saves you the cost of having to check bulky items on the plane.
Eat in or eat out early
Book a hotel with a kitchen so you can make baby-friendly foods in a comfortable space. When you do want to eat out, remember that prime time for eating out with infants, toddlers and preschoolers is Sunday through Wednesday before standard lunch or dinner times (11:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m.). Restaurants are less crowded and you'll get faster service.
Travelling with a baby gets easier every time you do it. With these tips you'll satisfy your wanderlust without worry, plus your little one will have a great time.
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