Before the pandemic happened in March of last year you heard a lot about the REAL ID that was supposed to become in affect on October 1st 2020. If your not as familiar with the Real ID it was was initially designed to keep U.S. citizens from holding multiple licenses, social security numbers and to allow government officials to check immigration standing. Federal agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be unable to accept any ID that does not meet the federal standard. That’s why it’s important because it will eventually impact your domestic travel. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was on track to implement the last phase of REAL ID enforcement that will require Americans to present REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or another acceptable form of ID to go through airport security. Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security has extended the deadline for Americans to acquire a Real ID, which will be a new type of identification card required to fly domestically. The new date was October 1, 2021 but that date has changed to May 3, 2023.Starting on May 3, 2023, people who want to fly from state to state will be required to show the new “Real ID” driver’s license, aka Compliant Card, or another federally-approved form of identification such as a passport. The new Real ID driver’s license can be obtained when you renew your driver’s license.You must show extra documents proving their identity, date of birth, legal presence in the country, Social Security number and one’s street address. Everyone is not in agreement about the use of these REAL ID’s. The U.S. Travel Association, which is a national, non-profit organization representing and advocating for all components of the travel industry will continue working with its industry partners and the administration to educate the public, and will advocate for policy changes that allow for other forms of identification to be used in place of a REAL ID at airport security checkpoints, including biometric screening and Trusted Traveler Programs.
Gary if you would poll your listeners I would venture to say most of them will not have the Real ID yet because over 80 million people still don’t have them. Next time you go to renew your license make sure you get your REAL ID so you won’t have any problems come May 3, 2023 when you want to jump on a plane to take a domestic flight. If you want to learn more about travel and how to save money when you travel go to www.bolcctravel.com and sign up for our newsletter to learn tips and strategies about the travel industry.
The Caribbean Islands has always been a popular destination for travel but the pandemic obviously slowed tourism down significantly. Now Most Caribbean islands have reopened to international tourism, and several islands have begun adopting two-track entry regulations for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. Gary, we just recently got back from Aruba and I will tell you that travel has changed significantly due to Covid-19. Travelers need to prepare themselves to travel especially internationally. We share with our travel clients to Plan, Research, Execute before they travel. When traveling to a Caribbean Island and places throughout the world you need to have a negative PCR Covid-19 test within 72 hours of your travel. If you don’t have your PCR Covid-19 test you will have to take the test at the airport of the country your flying in in which they will charge you from $75 to $110 per test and risk having to go into Quarantine so it’s best to get your test before you leave the states. Matter of fact most of the Caribbean Islands you do not have to be vaccinated but you must have a negative PCR COVID-19 test. It’s really important to do your research on the specific country your going to opposed to making a generalization about all Caribbean Islands. For example we had to purchase government issued insurance which cost $30 person. Most other countries do not have this insurance stipulation in place however almost all countries require you to download your Covid-19 test results to their respective portals. Before you return back to the United States all air passengers including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the United States. The United States will allow a negative COVID-19 antigen test upon your return. Gary, to accommodate travelers these Caribbean’s countries have set up Fit to Fly locations all across their countries. A lot of countries have set up these Fit to Fly testing centers right in the resorts and hotels. We received our results back within 4 hours which is pretty standard throughout the Caribbean’s Unfortunately these test are not free. They may range from $35 to $110 which could get pretty expensive if you have a large family you are traveling with on vacation. I recommend going to CVS or Walgreens for your PCR test before you leave. They provide you with a test kit and instructions while your in the drive through. You get to administer your own test which I liked much better. These test are usually free but they may ask for your insurance company information. Gary, I also want to make sure your listeners know that mask are mandatory in the airports and on the planes at all times which has been a point of contention for a lot of travelers. Lastly Gary, allot at least three hours for your return flight. Coming back from Aruba we literally went through the check in process twice due to having to go through customs. In addition, the CDC recommends that travelers get tested again three to five days after arrival and stay home for seven days after travel, unless they have been fully vaccinated. As you get ready to travel make sure you Prepare, Plan, Research and Execute. If you do that you will have a fantastic vacation. If you want to know more about how we save money for travel or some tips and strategies go to www.bolcctravel.com for more information.
I read an interesting article on Travel weekly about Travel optimism being way up from the beginning of 2021. Six months after conducting a survey of Americans on travel sentiment, IPX 1031 revisited the topic to see how attitudes have changed now that Covid-19 vaccines have been rolled out and many restrictions have been lifted.Not surprisingly, the company found that Americans are feeling more optimistic about traveling now. In January, 48% said they were optimistic about traveling in 2021. In June, that percentage rose to 85%.Along with an increase in travel optimism, IPX 1031's recent survey also shows an increase in Americans making travel plans this year. According to respondents, 75% plan to travel this year, up from 58% in January.Not only are respondents planning on taking a vacation this year, but 55% have already booked their trips. Thirty-six percent plan to take a trip this summer while 39% say they will vacation either this fall or during the winter. Twelve percent say they aren't sure when their next vacation will be.Of those who plan to travel, 71% say they'll stay within the U.S., 17% plan to travel abroad and 12% say they'll travel both domestically and internationally.Forty-eight percent say they feel safe flying this year, and 80% say they will feel safe taking to the skies in 2022. Most (72%) say they will feel safer flying after being vaccinated.Respondents have an average of 2.5 trips planned for 2021 with the average trip length lasting four days. Gary, these numbers are higher than they usually are but the pandemic has restored the value of travel around the world. Based on this information when we lose something we start to appreciate it more. Travel certainly fell into that category. Personally as a travel educator and travel coach I am very glad that people are traveling again because traveling has so many wonderful benefits. If you want to learn more about these travel benefits you can go to www.bolcctravel.com and signup for our newsletter. We also offer an online course that is geared at helping you create a travel for free lifestyle.
Now that most of the pandemic restrictions has been lifted the Airline travel industry is struggling to keep up with the demand of travel. This summer's spike in airline cancellations and delays is drawing scrutiny from Congress of the way carriers have managed staffing levels during the pandemic since they received 58 billion dollars to keep their workforce. Airlines continued to have high levels of flight delays and cancellations in the first half of July, following similar operational challenges in June. In other words, the airlines have not handled post pandemic travel very well at all. Let me give you an idea of how many flights have been canceled. Some airlines have cancelled up to 3% of their flights between July 1 and July 16, which represents thousands of cancelled flights. The primary reason for the cancelations is due to the lack of staffing. They are having to retrain pilots who have been off for an extended period and are having to hire new flight attendants and other important roles dealing with airline travel. We experienced this ourselves. We were scheduled to fly out to Aruba and was not notified that our flight had been cancelled. If that happens to you ask the airlines to provide you a letter just in case, you need it to be reimbursed for the night or nights you already paid for prior to your trip. I advise all your listeners to check with the airline first before you leave for the airport to make sure your flight has not been cancelled or postponed. If you want to know more about how we save money for travel, or some tips and strategies go to www.bolcctravel.com for more information. We even have an online travel course to teach you how to travel for free or for less.
I am a travel educator (bolcctravel.com) with experience using airline and travel points for a variety of things amid the pandemic. For the past six years I have been I provided advice to my students and clients regarding maximizing award points. In reference to your query I have accumulated 300K award points that I started using to purchase items for my school aged child based on their needs at home. I also teach these strategies to others. Two of the credit card companies I have used is American Express and Capitol One to make useful of the miles/points that I have accumulated that are meeting some of our personal needs since we are not using them for traveling at this time. With American Express you can enjoy the convenience of covering your eligible purchases with Membership Rewards® points. You will be able to receive a statement credit when you use points for your recent card charges. I purchased a portable rolling desk stand for my son so he would not be confined to one location while doing his schoolwork. I purchased the item from Walmart through the American Express portal and was able to use my points to receive a statement credit for the purchase. This is how it works. 1. View your list of eligible charges from your current online statement 2. Select the charges you want to cover. A check will appear when you have selected the eligible charges 3. That's It! Click "Redeem Now" and a credit will appear on your statement in 48 hours or less! There are a couple of fine print details a consumer needs to be aware of concerning this process. Additional Card Members are not eligible to use this feature and you must have a minimum of 1,000 Membership Rewards points in your program account to take advantage of this opportunity to use your points. You can also redeem your points for gift cards at stores like Home Depot, Best Buy, the Gap, Old Navy, Sam’s club, Stables or Target to help you with family household needs. The other opportunity is with Capitol One. You have two great options to use your credit card rewards with Capitol One using Paypal and Amazon for your family needs purchases. You can make purchases at millions of online stores when you check out with PayPal. Here is the link if you have a Capitol One card. Link Your Capital One Card You can also shop with Amazon by simply applying your rewards points at checkout. Here are the instructions to take advantage of this opportunity. 1. Link your eligible Capital One card to your Amazon.com account. Paying with rewards will be an option every time you shop. 2. Use as many or as few rewards as you want. You can use Capital One rewards for part of your order and pay for the rest with the associated Capital One card or any other debit or credit card that you may use for purchases. 3. Once you’ve linked your eligible card, you will see and be able to use your available Capital One rewards at checkout.
I am a travel educator/coach (bolcctravel.com) with experience teaching students and clients about travel. In reference to your query I have thought about this a lot. The pandemic changed everything for me related to travel. I remember early March receiving the first email in my box that one of my Airbnb guest had just cancelled their reservation. Being a new host to AirBNB I was excited about people from all over the country booking our place in a small town of Virginia. We were booked through June 2020. The first cancellation was only the beginning. That cancellation was followed by nine more cancellations that totaled over $5000 of revenue. Unfortunately that was the good part. Our travel business Bolcctravel.com had just transitioned from an in person travel education business to an online travel business where we provide travel coaching and travel courses. We spent thousands of dollars for this transition and then the travel industry came to an halt in March. We personally had travelled to Israel and Europe in 2019 and was planning our next great vacation. The summer of 2020 we were scheduled to spend our family vacation in San Diego. This trip was especially important to us because some of our best friends had just moved to San Diego and we were very excited to be able to visit them in their new home. COVID-19 not only changed the way we traveled but also changed the way we educated people around Travel. We no longer felt safe. There was a lot of inconsistencies in how different people and industries were approaching protocols around the pandemic. We have the same trip booked for this summer to San Diego but I don’t feel confident that we will go again this year. We have secured where we would stay but have not purchased the plane tickets yet which is an indicator for me that we are not confident about traveling during the pandemic. I am big on research before we travel. Now I will have to spend even more time researching the places we want to travel. How is that particular country or state handling their COVID protocols? Our company started creating a series of travel videos called “No Place Like Home” travel series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxZvHH9mNVA encouraging people to explore the wonders of travel domestically. That was a major shift. In the videos we explore the top 10 places to go within that state that may be driving distance from someone’s home. I know we will be different travelers now. We may continue to wear mask post pandemic and bring our own cleaning supplies to make sure we clean and sanitize any areas that we come in contact with on planes, trains, boats, etc. We were free travelers before COVID and now I feel a lot more cautious. I not only have to think about myself but possibly exposing my entire family to COVID-19 on a vacation. Is it worth the risk is the question that I continue to ponder? As a travel expert/educator the Pandemic set the travel industry back for years. So many places domestically and abroad depend on tourism for their livelihood. There has been a surge of travel recently especially in places that have less restrictions which is an indicator that people desire to travel is still very strong. Traveling provides so many benefits that it’s hard to ignore it’s overall value to our lives. Every sector of the travel industry has been impacted but none greater than the hotel industry. Their well documented loses have been dramatic to say the least. As an Airbnb host our guest consistently say they feel safer in an Airbnb than a hotel because it’s someone’s home opposed to being a huge corporation that may not pay attention to as many details as a individual or a small company. I believe some of the changes that have taken place in traveling as a result of the pandemic can be positive. Planes and other forms of Transportation has been known for years to be a cesspool for germs which is why many travelers often times get sick when they travel. Hopefully the pandemic has heightened the awareness around the importance of making sure that the various modes of transportation for travelers are clean and safe. I believe my perspective is unique due to me running an Airbnb business which has had its own set of challenges but has rebounded quicker than the hotel industry. Also we have a travel business that educates others on all things travel was significantly impacted because people didn’t want to learn or invest in travel education when they knew they would not be traveling any time soon. We have recently seen an uptick in engagement around our social media concerning traveling. People are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel due to the potential of success of the vaccination program. I believe travel has changed and how we think about travel has also changed but not necessarily for the worst. Being more educated and cautious is not a bad thing. The travel and Tourism industry accounts for 10.3 percent for the global GDP and 2.8 percent of the GDP in the United States. Over the past five years, one in four new jobs were created by the sector, making Travel & Tourism the best partner for governments to generate employment. Travel will rebound but it will be a slow but steady rebound. I believe the progress and success of the vaccination program will be an indicator of how quickly the sector will rebound. I believe there is a direct correlation between travelers confidence and the success of vaccinations. When people feel protected they feel safer. When people feel safer they are willing to do the things that they are used to doing and one of those things are traveling again whether it’s domestically or abroad.
I am an avid traveler, travel educator and certified professional coach (bolcctravel.com) with experience helping students and clients with all things travel. Traveling can always come with some level of anxiety especially when your traveling to a new location. The interesting thing about traveling is the same things that may possibly bring you anxiety could also exhilarate you when you travel. The pandemic has brought on an entire new level of anxiety for travelers like me. One of my main areas of anxiety happens during hotel stays. Every hotel is different and their cleaning protocols will also be different. Good cleaning requires an investment of time and energy. The realities of COVID-19 makes us move beyond being satisfied with the appearance of clean but having an assurance that the place where we are staying has taken the necessary precautions to ensure each person enjoys a safe and clean place to stay. In addition to having clean rooms I also want to have time in between my stay and others who have stayed in the room that I booked. I believe that is very important. I make sure I call the hotel and request a room that no one has stayed in for at least a 48 hour period. Even if the room is not as clean as least we know that no one has been in that room. Usually hotels can accommodate that request. If they are not willing to accommodate your request you should consider staying at another hotel. That helps me relieve some anxiety around that issue and allows me to enjoy my stay even more. Another area of anxiety is around too many people in a hotel and having to interact with people upon check in and check out. We all have waited in long lines waiting to check in into hotels. I started looking for smaller hotels or boutique hotels when we travel. We recently stayed in a boutique hotel in Hendersonville, NC that only had 12 rooms with no front desk area. They provided us with the check in instructions and we went straight to our room. For us those are the things that help us relieve some of the anxiety around traveling during the pandemic. As a travel educator and professional certified coach here are a few tips that I share with people who may have anxiety about traveling. 1. Go somewhere you can drive. 2. Call and make sure no one as been in the room your staying in for at least 48 hours. 3. Research the place and cleaning protocols ahead of time. Stay in small boutique hotels (ours had only 12 rooms) You check directly into your room with no interaction from people. 4. Bring your own disinfectant wipes 5. Wear mask, social distance, and wash and sanitize your hands often. I noticed these tips that I started implementing myself became my own coping strategies. It makes me less anxious and provides a level of comfort for my family as well. Another important coping strategy for me when I travel is my practice of meditation and prayer. I have been practicing meditation for four years now coupled with prayer is a powerful way to relieve stress, and overcome anxiety in any areas of your life including traveling
I am an avid traveler. Last year we were planning a trip to San Diego for our summer vacation. As much as we love going to San Diego this was more than just a summer vacation it was a trip to visit some of our best friends who moved to California a couple of months prior to the pandemic. We would have been their first guest at their new home. Our friend had just been commissioned in the Military and was sent to the San Diego area. Our sons who have known each other since they were two years old in pre school are like brothers. There bond goes far beyond a typical friendship. One child African American and the other child Asian American embodies the best thing about genuine relationships. Our families in all of our cultural differences make our friendship special. This summer we are planning that same trip again with anticipation of reuniting with some of our best friends. Traveling, something so natural before the pandemic now makes us question and pause if it’s a good idea or not or is it too much of a risk for us to take just to travel. Now we have to take every precaution to try and stay safe. That means for me and my family at one point not embracing taking the vaccine to now considering it so we can feel safe to travel again. In 2019 we took incredible trips to Israel and Europe and was excited to plan our next wonderful adventure when the pandemic struck. For us traveling to California this summer would be restorative in so many ways. Not just the fact that we haven’t traveled in a year and dealing with all of the stresses that the pandemic has brought on all of us especially with those of us who have children in college. Taking this trip would indicate a resemblance of normalcy although people will still be wearing mask and shields to protect themselves and others. Will we be too nervous and anxious to really enjoy our time away? Will we let our guard down once we get back into the familiar? These are just a couple of questions that I ponder on a regular basis. Taking this summer vacation for our family would mean so much more than a vacation. It would mean a sign that we are moving forward and knowing that we will be spending time with friends who are like family to us. Knowing that these two brothers will have an opportunity to reunite makes my heart happy. They have kept in contact with each other virtually throughout the year as they share a love for gaming but to be in the same space again even if it’s just for a few days will be special. Beautiful beaches and ideal weather will also make that trip a one to remember for many years to come.
I have been a AAA customer for 20 years on and off with my primary reason for using the AAA services was to have access to Roadside Assistance. AAA has several benefits which I see as pros. In my opinion my favorite Pro is that AAA covers a large geographical footprint with a well-known and established brand. You can literally be anywhere in the country and access AAA services which does vary depending on your geographical location which could also be considered a con. AAA is cost effective and quite easy to sign up for at any given point. Another thing I like about AAA is multiple people in your household can be on the account with each person receiving their own identification card. When our daughter took her car to college one of the first things, we did was to make sure she had a AAA card at her disposal. I have always found AAA roadside assistance customer service to be particularly good and efficient which is an important pro. One of the latest pros that has evolved over the years have been the use of contracting with people and companies that are more accessible that may not use a tow truck to provide services. Last year I was serviced by a AAA contractor who came to my home in his car. My daughter’s car would not crank at all but it wasn’t due to a dead battery. The contractor used this very sophisticated piece of equipment to diagnose the issue which ordinarily would have been diagnosed at a service center. He was able to fix the car, reset the codes and even recharge the battery. In the past the contractors using the tow truck would have automatically taken the car to a service center to get fixed after failing to jumpstart the car. Another pro would be you can use it as a supplement to your insurance roadside assistance policy. Sometimes comparing services who could offer the quickest service based on where your located and the type of service you may need could be a wonderful benefit. There are a few cons with the AAA Roadside Assistance service as well. I was once towed to the wrong location and had to end up paying extra money to have my car towed again to my shop. Some of the drivers do not provide the best customer service and at times have been unethical. Another con is sometimes they do not have enough contractors in a particular location and the service takes entirely too long especially when you may be stranded and need service quickly. Another con is the person using the service name must be on the card. Years ago, when I used the service, I could let a friend use my service if they were in need without me being there or them having a card in their name. I believe many people could benefit from the roadside assistance service. As in our situation parents should purchase a membership for their college student. Also people who want to supplement their existing insurance company should explore purchasing a roadside assistance service plan. People who may want to use the other services attached to the AAA membership to save money or services when they travel. As a travel educator (www.bolcctravel.com) I do recommend AAA to our clients and students who are looking to save money when they travel and on travel insurance. I am also a travel educator and certified professional travel coach (bolcctravel.com) with experience helping students and clients with all things travel.
We have been hosting an Airbnb since 2019 right outside of a college town in Virginia. Two days after we went live we had our first booking. Fast forward six months later the Pandemic started and we lost ten bookings that spanned over a three month period. In two days we lost $5000. Where our Airbnb is located there is a regional swim center where they have swim competitions. Many of our customers were coming from all over the country to compete at these regional swim meets. We lost all of those customers as well as the families who were supposed to be coming in for the football games during football season. The neighborhood in which our Airbnb is located is interesting because we are the only AirBNB and the average age is probably around 62+ which made a lot of our neighbors feel uncomfortable with a AirBNB there and us managing it from a different state. During this time we have had several issues with neighbors concerning parking, full trash cans and town officials who have called us about complaints from neighbors and town ordinances that have been violated. We even had to put one of our guest out due to a very hidden town ordinance which cost us four thousand dollars with the lost of that guest. It is important to get to know your neighbors and neighborhood if possible before you create your Airbnb which most of them were not familiar with the concept at all. Through conversations and leaving thank you cards with neighbors and establishing some good of our own we are now in a better place with our home owners association and neighbors. Our Airbnb was also registered with Corporate Homes By Owner (CHBO) which is a corporate housing company that promote monthly rentals which has a certification process which we went through when we created our Airbnb. That was extremely helpful for us not knowing that there would be a pandemic a few months later. As a component of that certification process you have to have pretty much everything you have in your house at your corporate property. That made our Airbnb much more appealing to guest because people are looking for places where they don’t have to bring everything with them. Our guest often say our home feels like a home away from home. This helped us even during the pandemic maintain our Airbnb business even after we lost those initial customers. Instead of the swim customers, college parents, and football enthusiasts we sustained our business with contractors working in the construction industry, medical workers, and people using our house as a central location during their travels. CHBO has an extensive marketing arm and advertise your listings on multiple sites. That helped secure a few guest that was looking for longer short term stays. As a travel educator, AirBNB host and course creator we educate people on how to create profitable AirBNB with no experience. As a Superhost of a 5 star AirBNB we know one of the keys to Airbnb is your willingness to serve others in a way that makes them feel at home. It’s not just the nice accommodations, the clean space, the new appliances, or the plentiful streaming options, it’s the water bottles we leave the for them, the note with their name on it and the snack baskets. It’s the name on our chalk board that welcomes them and paying attention to the details that separate us from other AirBNB’s. Those are just a few things that made us Pandemic proof. As we are slowing moving past the most difficult part of the pandemic our Airbnb has picked up even more. Now we have so many repeat guest that book with us over and over again. There is a quote that says people may not always remember what you said but they will always remember how you made them feel. At our Airbnb we make them feel at home.