It's time to take a look at your driver's license and see if it is compliant for travel within the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on December 20, 2013 a phased enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act (the Act), as passed by Congress back in 2005. This means, if you are a US citizen over the age of 18 and are flying domestically (within the US) then you will need to present a compliant, valid ID. If that is your driver's license, then it must comply. You'll know because it, generally speaking, will have a star at the top of the license.
You can read the official release from the Department of Homeland Security here.
The deadline to comply is October 1, 2020 so check with your state's DMV to acquire a new ID. You will not be able to pass through security checkpoints at airports without this enhanced driver's license or other acceptable forms of ID.
The TSA has a little helpful "Real ID" information which can be found here.
You can use a valid US passport for domestic travel but why risk losing it for quick trip to Chicago? I say, do a little home-state sleuthing and get yourself down to the DMV.
So, you have the travel bug and your significant other doesn’t? Or, maybe it’s you that simply just doesn’t see the value? In either case, I can help. Travel is aspirational, it’s a “want” and not a “need” in the eyes of most. It’s often hard to clearly define the benefits of travel because, well, travel is personal. And what I mean is, travel means different things to different people, therefore the pros and cons are all over the map, so to speak. Nevertheless, I will do my best to shed a little light on the subject.
Let’s start with the facts. According to Forbes, the travel industry worldwide is a $7.6 trillion industry. It directly and indirectly employs millions of people. It’s a true economic force not to be reckoned with. Think about, the airlines, travel agents, hotels, car rental agencies, cruise lines, local shops, restaurants, bars, theme parks, and national parks- they are just a cross section of industries whom all rely on a financial transaction that has something to do with travel. Let’s not forget about the auto industry, apparel, luggage, and tech companies- if you look around, you’ll start to see, travel isn’t a BIG it’s a HUGE business. So, by participating, you are fueling economies, paying for goods and services, or maybe helping to make someone else’s life just a little bit easier. Think of the housekeeper you tipped $5 for taking care of your room for two nights, or the server who went out of their way to serve you an excellent meal- so you throw them $20 as opposed to the standard 20 percent.
How about time off? According to the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off initiative, the average American leaves eight paid vacation days on the tabe each year. Unacceptable. Really? It’s a benefit of your employment. Because employers figured out long ago they want happy, motivated workers. They are literally paying you to be away from the office and, for the most part, were opting to stay at our desks working ourselves to death.
Speaking of health, more and more research emerges consistently about the health benefits of travel. Sure it might be a little counterintuitive because travel can be stressful, but the the big picture is, travel is usually good for the mind, body and dare I say soul. Have a look at the latest research conducted by Timo Strandberg of University of Helsinki, and learn all about lowering your blood pressure while away. More benefits include getting a little more Vitamin D from the sun, getting a little more exercise by exploring or swimming in the ocean, or even having better sex! It’s not my opinion, it’s science, folks.
Not getting along with your mate as well as you’d like to? Well, travel is an excellent way to share an experience with the one you love. Laughing a lot, trying new thing, and falling asleep in each other's arms again can all be part of the travel fun!
The New Year celebrations have long since ended and perhaps you made a resolution to learn something new. Or learn a new language or become more culturally well-rounded? Hello? TRAVEL!
Okay, now comes the uncomfortable part. How do you pay for this life-changing vacation? That’s up to you. But the word TRAVEL begs a little personal definition. I used to define “vacation” as a far off place, that's expensive, and that requires a tremendous amount of planning and financial resources. Those trips do exist. But after traveling for a living for more than a decade, I now completely understand the true meaning of the word. Travel is defined by YOU! An extended weekend away without the kids? Travel. A short cruise to the Caribbean? Travel. Getting in the car and rediscovering your neighboring town? Travel. Camping by the river or in your own backyard? Travel. Forget about keeping up with others. Don’t just do what everybody else does, do what YOU want to do. Go where you want to go and be with the people you want to be with. Nobody really cares and if you have people in your life that you feel are judging you based on your travel plans….get rid of them! You see, you DEFINE what travel travel means to you and yours. Travel doesn't have to be expensive. How about missionary work? Voluntouring? The possibilities are seemingly endless because travel’s such a huge business.
Hopefully, I’ve peeled back the onion layers here to help you get a clearer picture of the big world out there just waiting for you to explore. Now, all you have to do is... do it. Good luck and keep me posted on your plans- before, during, or after you return from your next great adventure.
With the recent and sudden demise of "Wow Air", I thought I drop a quick note about flying with low cost airlines.
Low cost carriers can be found all over the globe. Are they cheap airlines? Yes and no. Recently, the industry has gotten even more specific with the moniker of "ultra low cost" carriers. But for purposes of this article, I am focusing on American low cost carriers. So please read on if you are considering booking a ticket on any low cost carrier worldwide. Like every other purchase, there are pros and cons to flying with any airline and flying with one of these carriers is no different.
Defining a low cost carrier is not exactly easy. But for now, I'll use the Wikipedia definition. "A low-cost carrier or low-cost airline (occasionally referred to as no-frills, budget or discount carrier, and abbreviated as LCC) is an airline that is operated with an especially high emphasis on minimizing operating costs and without some of the traditional services and amenities provided in the fare, resulting in lower fares and fewer comforts. To make up for revenue lost in decreased ticket prices, the airline may charge extra fees – such as for carry-on baggage. As of July 2014, the world's largest low-cost carrier is Southwest Airlines, which operates in the United States and some surrounding areas".
Okay, let's start with a general consensus of low cost airlines operating in and around the US. Low cost airlines list:Perhaps by the time this article is published, a new low-cost carrier will pop up, but I think you are starting to get the picture.
I have flown on every single one of these carriers. Offering a critique might be as useful as an expensive orange peeler. I say this because every single one of these airlines I've flown has taken off and landed in the place I was going. Simple as that.
Low cost carriers are capitalizing on consumers desires to go from point A to point B with no frills. But low cost carriers are competing for your business, not just with the legacy carriers (AA, United, Delta), they're also competing with other low cost carriers. Therefore, each low cost carrier is just a little different and the devil is in the details. Some charge for snacks and drinks others do not. Some have different seating configurations, boarding priority schemes while others do not. The key here is to think about what's important to you. All of these low-cost carriers have mobile apps and direct booking sites. Some have better customer service than others. But it’s important to note; if you select one of these carriers, then you are accepting the risk of flying with them. Not usually a safety risk. Low-cost carriers don't crash or have more mechanical problems than others just because they are low cost. The same, basic functionality of a low cost carrier is the same as the big carriers. They are governed by the same government agencies as well.
The risk I'm talking about has everything to do with the number of aircraft the low cost carrier owns and the number of flights they offer per day in their departure and arrival cities or towns.
I fly on low cost airlines about 30% of the time because 70% of my travel these days is work-related. Often time, low cost carriers have limited schedules. Not always, but when I travel for work, I need a lot of options. So this is my cautionary warning, when flying on a low cost carrier, lower your expectations. I don't mean to sound persnickety or elitist, I'm simply reminding you, the business model is different on a low cost carrier. Once again, read the fine print and know what the cost of your ticket includes (and what it doesn't).
On a related note, I suggest you familiarize yourself with the low cost carriers that fly (seasonally and/or year round) to and from your home airport. Deals can be found if you have some advanced warning and regardless of your airline of choice, respect your travel days and treat as such!
PS. For quick tips on airport car parking and airport arrival time and check out these videos:
Do you need a short refresher course on who and what Travelocity Is? This is the blog post for you. Before you get travelling, you’re going to make some arrangements and Travelocity is one of the resources available to you.
Travelocity is an online travel agency. Which means they sell travel products and services online as opposed to a brick and mortar storefront (like a traditional travel agency). Essentially, they (Travelocity) buys travel products and services in bulk and sometimes at a discount (think hotel rooms, cruise tickets, car rentals, attraction tickets and tours) and sells them to consumers.
Travelocity is owned by Expedia Inc. Travelocity’s competitors include direct booking sites, travel agents and Booking Holdings (including Booking.com and Priceline).
So why buy from them and not directly from the airline or hotel company? It has to do with the “published rates” each of the suppliers can advertise. Personally, I like booking directly with the supplier, but Traveocity has built a big business packaging vacations so consumers save money! They also are competing for your loyalty with promotions, price alerts and interactive apps making it super easy to book when your ready.
Great travel deals for deals for hotels can be found on Travelocity but remember to read the fine print before you book. Also, look for customer service options including emergency contacts and 24-hour live customer support should things go a little sideways on your travels.
The bottom line is to shop around when searching for inspiration or pricing for a particular vacation. I usually start with Kayak (an aggregator), breeze through the OTAs such as Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity and Orbitz and then compare buying directly with the hotel, airline or resort.
Hope this helps! And, happy booking, people! Have you booked with Expedia or Travelocity? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
PS. Here’s a little explainer video about the definition of an OTA. and helpful tip about what you bring with you on your vacation.
Erik The Travel Guy is a respected travel industry expert and host of the nationally syndicated PBS travel television series Beyond Your Backyard. He spends, on average, 25 weeks traveling around the world, hosting his show(s), making short-form travel videos and speaking at events and conferences. He lives in New York City and most enjoys spending time with his two daughters.
In my opinion, the best way to get "travel inspired" or get to traveling is by watching really decent travel videos. Of course, that's what we make but we're not the only ones who make them! But since you're here, these are some recent videos we've produced to help you get your creative juices flowing.
Think of this as your personal Travel Channel of inspiration!
We update this post from time-to-time and if you find a video you like, leave it in the comments below.
More Travel Video Fun
Erik the Travel Guy is a respected travel industry expert and host of the nationally syndicated PBS travel television series Beyond Your Backyard. He spends, on average, 25 weeks traveling around the world, hosting his show(s), making short-form travel videos and speaking at events and conferences. He lives in New York City and most enjoys spending time with his two daughters. Read Erik's Bio here.
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!