Airport Tchotchkes


Airports are amazing places to enter.  It is as if you step into a little city bustling with people scurrying in every direction or just leisurely strolling from store to store. A diversified selection of store types line the halls from end to end, intermittently punctuated by seating areas and departure gates. Browsing the shops is an activity for people engage in to pass the time during unexpected delays, and for those who either arrive with ample time to spare before departure, in between flights, or on long layovers.  Passengers are seen browsing brand-named stores, souvenir shops, gift shops, magazine/book stores and, if so inclined, may even receive services like shoe-shines, massages, spa treatments, etc.  It is also the place where diners may enjoy cuisines of their choice at the many restaurants and familiar fast-food eateries nearby.

I love to wander in and out the stores too, admiring the goods, but with no real intention to purchase anything.  Hardly would my travel budget allow for the extravagance of airport spending.  Some stores carry high-end products with a price tag the cost of a round-trip ticket to a different destination ūüėÄ.  Seriously, the costs of the items even with the duty-free conditions still can be outrageously pricey, and then there’s the tchotchkes.

The displays are succinctly arranged to catch the eye of the late shopper, and travelers who wander up and down the hallways.  The offerings at the wide range of stores appeal to shoppers for various reasons. Some may be last-minute decisions, or the ‚ÄúI had no time to shop‚ÄĚ reason.  So then, whom do you think would be more likely to shop at the airport? I pose the well-to-do, the business traveler, or the wanna-be big spender who buys irrespective of price tag.

Honestly, I don‚Äôt think the majority of those who make purchases at the airport go there with the intention to do so.  Granted, duty free discounts on items may sweeten the deal, which the retailer hopes will help to draw prospective consumers in.  The price markup of most goods is usually two to three times higher than those in regular stores.  The reasons for the high prices may be debatable, but one can only guess a factor may be because of the prime real estate.  Whatever the reasons, I am often amazed at the offerings, and the brisk sales that occur in the stores.

Though I am not a big spender, don’t have deep pockets, or a last minute shopper, (I purchase my souvenirs/gifts before coming to the airport) I do confess to airport spending a few times.  Not because I saw an irresistible item and couldn‚Äôt live without it, but mostly to get rid of spare change, especially if most of the leftover currency is coin and maybe a few bills.  The balance of cash usually affords nothing more than a few ‚Äėsweet‚Äô treats from the confectioner‚Äôs aisles.

Community Peeps, are you an impulsive airport shopper? Is purchasing airport tchotchkes before boarding your flight a favorite pastime?  Share your experiences on airport shopping in the comment box below. If you‚Äôve bought something on vacation you simply could not resist, but which you regret now, talk of it too in the comment section.

Readers, as usual, I invite you to click follow to receive timely updates, select like to show your love and support.  Share this post on your social media site.  Write your comments in the box below.  Your interest, time and attention are always appreciated.  Thank you for reading.

More times,

Itinerary Planner

Differently-able Loves to Travel


For the most part, travel for the majority of able-bodied persons is not a problem.¬† Standing on long lines, dragging bags through airport, train or bus terminals and running from one gate to the next, is not a hassle (well sometimes it is).¬† The same cannot be said for the differently-able.¬† Considerations and adjustments have to be made to accommodate their need.¬† As a versatile itinerary planner, my goal is to consider every aspect of a traveler’s profile when planning their dream vacation, including their disability.¬† Creating an exciting itinerary for the differently-able person can be a challenge, which I like, but not an impossibility.¬† To capture the travel experience of what it is like traveling with a disability, I interviewed a personal friend.¬† This is what she had to say:

Q.  How are you differently-able?

A.  I am physically differently-able; therefore, I must use a walker or a wheelchair

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Differently-able and caregiver – Traveltinerary

depending on the distance I have to travel.

Q.  Do you like to travel, and if so, where?

A.  Yes.  I love to travel.  I have traveled by airplane, cruise ship, and of course, every day by car.  I have been to places like:  Belize, Cayman Island, Honduras, Margarita Island, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States of America.

Q.  Tell me about your experiences at the airports and seaports.

A.  In 2010 I became differently-able when I lost my first toe.  Travelling at that point was not too difficult even though it had some challenges.  During that trip I was about five months post-amputation, so I did not ask for any special assistance. I was traveling with relatives. I found traveling throughout the various airports was a bit challenging as I tried to keep up with the crowd and not get left behind. I recall one of my struggles back then as I was leaving Barbados was climbing the stairs to the plane with my carry-on luggage.  I had no problems on the aircraft.  In contrast to my experience on boarding in Barbados, when I disembarked in the USA I was introduced to a nice gentleman with a wheelchair who assisted me through immigration and customs without any problems.

On the cruise ship, my only problem was walking the ramp with the bumps to get on or off the ship. For the wheelchair-bound differently-able person it would have been uncomfortable.  At some ports-of-call, the distance to exit or to pick up the tours were too far away, and I did not see any services provided for those like me who had a physical impediment.  It was a mad scramble to board a bus or taxi and to complete our tour in the allotted time we were at our destination.  Inside the ship was wonderful.  Elevators were available on every floor making it easy to move around the ship, so I did not have to use the stairs.  The bathroom facilities were spacious and easy to use.

Q.  How were you treated at the airport, in the aircraft and at your destination?

A.  In 2014 I travelled to the USA.  By now I had lost more toes Рtwo on my left foot and two on my right.  This meant I needed assistance.  From the moment I arrived at the airport in Barbados, a wheelchair was secured for me and I was taken from the airline check-in counter, through immigration and to the passenger waiting lounge.  My daughter accompanied me on this trip.  When it was time to board we were loaded onto a vehicle which elevated us to the door of the plane.

We were the first to board the plane, and from there I walked to my seat.  We did not pay for special seats or extra leg room space. The only challenge on the aircraft was manoeuvrability in the bathroom.  The space is tight and uncomfortable.  When we arrived in the USA we were the last persons to disembark, but our wheelchair assistant took us through immigration and customs without having to wait on the long lines.

On this particular trip moving around our destination was more accessible.   Some places posed a challenge where there was a ramp to go inside the building, but to access the lower levels like the basement where some of the activities were held, for example, in the churches I visited, there was no ramp.

Q.  What changes would you recommend especially to help those who are differently-able concerning travel?

A.  My answer to this question is not a one size fit all and may not apply to many places.  However, I would like to see much larger spaces in the bathroom and dressing rooms specifically for the wheelchair-bound person and their care-giver.  Another change would be the soap and the hand towel dispensers.  Lower these bathroom services so persons in wheelchairs can reach them.  My observation of the paved streets/sidewalks in modern cities should be built with more level sidewalks and less bricked tiles.  Some of these things may look attractive but are uncomfortable for the differently-able person and they caregiver to navigate.

Q.  Do you see a difference in North America than anywhere else?

A.  The only places I have travelled to are: the Caribbean, Central America and North America. I must admit that North America is more developed than the other two regions. However, In the other two regions where tourism is one of their main sources of income, there has been some measure of progress to reach international standards.  More consideration is given to the differently-able, more public awareness, and more laws are enacted to prevent able-bodied persons from using services strictly designated for the differently-able.

Q.  Do you have a specific safety plan or an appeal for help if in difficulty?

A.  To be truthful I never thought of what I would do if I am in trouble, because I always travel with someone.  I remember once in New York City gun shots were being fired across the street from the store that I was in.  I hid behind the counter until it was over.  I guess if I am alone and need any help I would shout for help or ask a nearby stranger kindly for assistance.

Q.  Do you like to travel alone or with a chaperone?

A.  Since I am more ambulatory with the use of a stroller or a wheelchair depending on the distance, I do not mind going through the airport alone. I know the airport staff would assist me.  However, right now I would not take a trip to a strange place by myself.  Maybe I would do it in the future.

Q.  Do you believe that your disability has limited you from travelling to places you would like to visit?

A.  Certainly.  I like to travel, sight-see and experience the cultures of other people. I cannot travel solo yet, and I do not like the idea to travel if I am a great burden to someone else.  I would like my travel companion to enjoy the trip as well, and not have to worry about my every move.

Differently Able2

Wheelchair – Traveltinerary

Check out these other posts which highlight the pros and cons of using  wheelchairs in hotel rooms, or learn first hand the experience of this deaf traveler.   Their experiences showcase challenges, as well as, gives encouragement to those who are hesitant to travel just because of their disability.

I hope this post sheds some light from the differently-able person’s perspective regarding travel issues and challenges.¬† I would love to hear of other experiences or even share a best-practice with fellow itinerary planners who arrange travel for such a special group of people.¬† So what are you waiting for?¬† You have four choices:¬† comment in the box below, like, follow or share.¬† I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

More times,

Itinerary Planner

P.S.  If you receive this post twice, my apologies.

Ecuador and Peru Pre-travel Checklist


The countdown is on!

On my projected vacation page ‘coming to a place near you’,¬†I have selected Ecuador and Peru as the destinations to close out my travels for 2017.¬† I am now 43 days away from fulfilling that plan.¬† I have chosen Ecuador specifically to visit the Gal√°pagos Islands, and Peru to visit Machu Pichu and the Sacred Valley.¬† ¬†I can barely wait to see nature’s wonders in this part of the hemisphere.

I can feel the pressure building as I start to compile a checklist and gather all my must-haves¬†to take with me.¬† So, to help me manage my anxiety and excitement I will follow a simple plan.¬† I’ll prioritize what I need to focus on each week as the departure date draws nearer. ¬†Here is my checklist of all that I must complete prior to leaving.

Week 1

  1. Purchase round-trip airline tickets
  2. Plan budget for travel expenses, namely:  food, tours, entrance fees, etc.
  3. Research mandatory medical requirements, if any i.e immunizations
  4. Pre-purchase entry tickets for Gal√°pagos Islands and Machu Pichu

Week 2

  1. Plan detailed daily itineraries for each country
  2. Research local transportation – bus, train, plane, donkey (Lol)
  3. Choose tour operators in both cities
  4. Book lodging (AirBnB/hotel)

Week 3

  1. Arrange for a house sitter
  2. Pay all bills coming due in my absence
  3. Shop for items (raincoat, bug spray, hat, light jacket/sweater, etc.)
  4. Gather maps, guide/reference books

Week 4

  1. Pack travel bag
  2. Confirm flights
  3. Check weather conditions
  4. Give copies of itineraries to family members
  5. Print boarding passes

Did I leave anything out that may be important to this trip?¬† Tell me if I did in the comment section, and I’ll let you know if it has been added to the list.

 

 

 

Travel Blogging – A Dream Deferred


Freelance travel blogging for companies or just blogging about my personal travels is something I’ve always dreamed about. One day I went to my former manager for advice on becoming a blogger. I thought I had potential and maybe a little talent too ūüėÄ. So, I got my courage up and went to his office. I knew I was placing myself in a vulnerable position as I outlined my personal interests and reasons why I wanted to become a blogger.

My boss was an accomplished writer and communicator. His work was respected and his opinion valued. The meeting was scheduled on his calendar for more than a week. As the date drew nearer, my anticipation rose to levels of excitement that I could barely contain myself. I sooooooo looked forward to that meeting. I thought for sure I would get some rock solid guidance and a firm nod of approval. After all, we both worked in the communications field.

His secretary offered me a seat in his conference room. We exchanged pleasantries until I felt it was time to introduce the main reason for my being there, which in my opinion, was to seek his expert counsel. In retrospect, it took some courage for me to express to him my interest in pursuing a different type of communication.
Blogging 8
What if he didn’t think it was a good idea. What if he fired me on the spot. I had not considered these scenarios and I’m glad I didn’t. Ignorance is truly bliss. I had placed complete faith and trust that my manager would be encouraging, would catch my vision, would possibly be my mentor or recommend one, and would give a tip or two on how to get started as a blogger. Instead, what he said to me caused my excitement to sink like lead in a hot air balloon.

“Blogging has become nothing but a lot of noise, he said. It is hard to hear anything worthwhile with so much noise.” I’m sure much more reasons were given that I can’t recall now, but after those fateful words I began to have second thoughts. Usually, I am not easily dissuaded. However, I was thrown into a capability funk which I could not shake for a few months. I was completely disappointed to say the least. You see, in actuality, I was questioning my skills and talent as a writer and needed some validation. Bad mistake. Since he was a seasoned communicator, and I believed, a visionary, I did not anticipate such lousy advice coming from him.

Suffice it to say, I have gotten over that inept counsel and have since become a blogger, a travel blogger at that, and loving it. Yes, my dream was deferred because of second guessing myself after that meeting. I do not share his views on equating blogging to noise, but he is entitled to his opinion. My blog is a way for me to express myself, share my opinion, and offer my expertise as an itinerary planner. Therefore, just so you know, I’m going to be making a whole lot of noise using my blogger’s voice.

Here are a few lessons learned from this experience:
1). Be careful whom you share your dreams and aspirations with, they may turn out to be nothing but dream-dashers.
2). Believe in yourself and your God-given skills and talent
3). It is okay to defer your dream but never give it up
4). Pursue your dreams and ignore the naysayers
Blogging 7
I have many travel stories to tell so blogging is the perfect forum for me. This month I will begin a blog series where I will highlight a country I visited, back in the day, before all this technology was available to me. I may be dating myself here, but that’s alright. Thank you for reading my blog and listening to my brand of ‘noise.’

Hurricane Harvey and the Unprepared Visitor


As I write, the longhorn state of Texas has been undergoing adverse weather conditions for a few days now, and which has already claimed the lives of two persons.

What should you do if you are a visitor with a young family and caught in the throes of such a natural disaster?  It may not be possible to pick up your bags and head home immediately.  You may have to hunker down and wait it out until all immediate dangers are passed.  So how should you respond in these circumstances and how would you pass the time with your family?

Constantly watching the local channels to keep informed may become overwhelming or alarming for everyone.  Therefore a responsible person, possibly Mom or Dad, should listen to news updates and report to the family the latest forecasts, alerts and evacuation notices.

Engage the younger children in the preparation activities. ¬†Organize your personal effects like change of clothing, food items that can easily be carried and does not need reheating, flashlights, batteries, etc. into your backpacks.¬† Secure everyone’s identification documents and important papers which may be needed later on.¬† Find a shelter and cooperate with local authorities.

Allow everyone to participate in the planning process which will help to keep them calm and focussed on the family’s safety plan. Information should be disseminated to younger members on a need-to-know basis to avoid distress or panic.¬† Throughout the entire process, the adult’s goal should be to reassure their children that their security is their number one priority.¬† A well executed plan will ensure that the entire family remains safe.

Everything is big in Texas, and no doubt at a time like this, it is seen in the genuine way Texans show their generosity, kindness and helpfulness to strangers who may need a helping hand.

I am praying for everyone’s safety there.¬† This too shall pass.

 

Must-haves


I like to read all the must-haves, travel essentials, top tips, do’s and don’ts related to making travel life easier. ¬†I believe that everyone out there when planning a vacation would love to have all these travel tips in one convenient place, right at their fingertips.

When I travel to the tropics, among the many items I carry in my suitcase are 10 of my favorite must-haves.  Considering that the weight limit for carryon luggage is approximately 20 pounds, what I choose to carry is very important.  The selections must meet my three standard packing requirements: be lightweight, be compact and be trendy.

So here goes.  I must have:

    1. Sneakers that are durable, lightweight, and made from materials which keep my feet cool and fit comfortably.  They are perfect for walking distances, gives adequate support for rough terrain, are stylishly designed and colorful too.
    2. A Hat with a wide brim which provides the right amount of shade on a sunny day.  This trendy head gear protects my face and the exposed portion of skin on the back of my neck.
    3. Clothing such as silks and linens are perfect to wear to keep cool day or night.  A Beach and Linen Dress are an integral part of my wardrobe that does not require much manipulation.
    4. Believe it or not, in the tropics the¬† Umbrella has a dual purpose.¬† It provides shade from the sun’s rays and protects from the driving rain.¬† This necessary item fits in small spaces and is a daily staple in my handbag.¬† Whether the day’s forecast predicts rain or sunshine, I will certainly be prepared for either occasion.
    5. A Water Bottle for my daily exercise routine. I may also use it to carry a cold beverage such as freshly squeezed lemon in chilled water or a drink of hot cocoa as I view the sunrise or watch the sunset on the horizon.
    6. Besides making me look cool at the beach, Sunglasses help to protect my eyes¬† from the sun’s glare as I relax on the sand while watching the tide’s ebb and flow near the water’s edge.
    7. A decent Shawl to wrap around my shoulders to keep me warm in the cool evening breezes. Also, I may use it to accessorize my dress for a more semi-formal look at dinner time.
    8. Lightweight carry-all Tote Bags are handy items to take to the beach, supermarket and almost everywhere I go.  I can fold and tuck them neatly into a clutch purse when not in use.
    9. You wouldn’t be in the tropics if you didn’t encounter mosquitoes and sandflies or as the locals call them no-see-ums.¬† I use Bug Guard towelettes to wipe the exposed areas of my skin for protection against these pesky insects.¬† The repellent properties saves me from much unnecessary itch and pain, not to mention ugly skin discolorations.
    10. A Portable Power Bank that will keep all my electronic devices fully charged.  It helps to keep me connected when I am unable to access ordinary charging outlets.

The mentioned 10 items are not the only items in my suitcase, but without them I would be miserable.¬† Obviously, other items like my binoculars, camera, cosmetics, laptop, etc.,¬† are very important to me too.¬† By following my three packing requirements whenever I travel, I have always managed to carry what’s needed and never had to use any of my spending money on items I would have otherwise left at home.