• Fly Like a Pro

    by Angele Garcia

    A jet wing in flight with the blue sky above and city lights below on the ground.

    Traveling by airplane to any destination is a stressful process for most individuals. Hectic lines, confusing signs, and constant announcements are enough to distract even the “regular” flyers. When traveling alone, many individuals have a hard time navigating the confusing world that is an airport. I have been flying to visit family and friends since I was a youngster, so I have learned a few tricks and strategies I now utilize as I find myself flying alone with greater consistency. The major things I have learned, which all individuals flying need to pay attention to are punctuality, organization, security.

    Plan ahead and arrive early

    “Hurry up to wait, don’t wait to hurry up” is a motto that fits well with the airport environment. Ideally, there is never an exact correct time for when to get to the airport. This is because of the differences in international and local airports. Knowing which type of airport you are going to and what time of day can help you determine when you should arrive. Typically arriving one hour ahead of boarding time will allow for plenty of time to check bags in and get through security. Special tip: typically, security gets backed up during earlier flights and this is an area where people will find themselves cutting it close to their flight. In the airport early is on time and on time is late — you don’t want to be late.

    Be consistent with where you store travel docs

    Keeping track of your belongings in any situation is a given; however, in an airport different precautions must be taken. Years of flying has taught me to always complete these two steps involving organization. The first is to designate a specific spot to consistently keep my passport when it is not in use, like a zippered pocket in a purse or carry-on bag. The reason for this is there are multiple moments throughout international travel where passports need to be presented. By creating a consistent area to keep your passport you significantly decrease the chances of misplacing it in the airport, as well as allowing yourself to move more efficiently through the airport.

    The second step goes hand-in-hand with step one; as soon as you’re done with the checkpoint that required your passport, immediately put it away. Do this directly after the authorities finish doing what they needed with it, specifically before walking away. Both steps could be applied to all types of items (forms of ID; boarding passes, etc); I chose to specifically highlight the passport because it is vital for your international travel.

    Keep your valuables secured

    Precautions are always important when taking on the new experience of flying alone. In terms of international travels there are always a few tricks that can help save possible troubles in the future. Traveling to a foreign country that is less developed than the US requires a bit more thought when packing. One additional measure I recommend is using locks on checked bags. If you don’t own luggage locks, you’ll need to keep any expensive jewelry and electronics or shoes in your carry-on and place everything else in your checked bag. You may not need to buy locks for every piece of luggage, but it’s important to strategize what you’ll place in each piece of luggage you take.

    Imagine being in a building with 250,000 other travelers and 2,500 different flights. This is on average how many people and flights are circulating through an airport each day. For a first timer everything is new and can be petrifying. I now know the ins and outs of airports to the point that I feel more than confident traveling alone. Keeping the key ideas of timeliness, management, and security of belongings in mind is all a person needs to focus on when traveling.

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  • Read before you go: Must-read publications and paperbacks for every traveler

    by Delaney Henson

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    I never go anywhere without reading about it first. When it comes to traveling, I read extensively about the places I intend to visit. Why? Reading up on my dream destinations allows me to be a more excited, inspired, and practical traveler than I would be without the help of numerous paperbacks and publications. With such an abundance of information available at our fingertips, it can be difficult to know where to start when researching new spots to vacation or planning your next big trip abroad. While most of us are stuck at home during this pandemic, we can only dream of being able to travel for pleasure again. But that time will come again and once your flight is booked, there’s nothing better than sitting down with a great novel, set in the idyllic spot you’ll soon be exploring. Literature, guidebooks, and travel magazines are the three types of paperbacks and publications you should read before setting off on your next adventure.

    Literature: Bringing the Excitement & Awe to Travel

    Whether you’re jetting off for a European summer or packing the car for a road trip through the mountains, you can’t forget your literature. Reading a novel set in the spot you’ll soon be visiting allows you to familiarize yourself with the destination. There is nothing better than visiting a landmark or driving down a road you read about in your latest book. It’s incredibly exciting to be present in the setting of a great novel and see with your own eyes what you could once only imagine as you read. If you’re heading to Rome anytime soon, I recommend Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. After finishing the novel, I traveled to Rome for the first time and stood in awe of the small country set inside the city that connected with the book. The same can be said for reading Brown’s The Da Vinci Code if travel to Paris is in your future.

    If you’re a less experienced traveler or are just looking to stick a bit closer to home, Elin Hilderbrand writes novels that will have you finding the next flight out to the Massachusetts Islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Having visited Martha’s Vineyard myself, I love nothing more than to read all about the tumultuous relationships that she creates within the five small towns on the vineyard. I can’t think of a better way to get excited about an upcoming trip than to read a powerful story about it.

    Guidebooks: The Practical Info You NEED to Know

    Guidebooks may not sound like the most exciting thing you’ve ever read, but they can’t be beat in terms of practicality. Rick Steve’s guidebooks single handedly saved me numerous times on my travels through northern Italy. Rick writes guidebooks intended for Americans traveling abroad in Europe and his tips on getting around, hotel and restaurant recommendations, and careful analysis of all the best spots are a must-have, especially for first-time travelers. I didn’t carry much as I walked the Italian streets, but I always had Rick Steve’s Italy in my backpack. Don’t overlook guidebooks when you travel; these books provide some of the best information about amazing spots you don’t know exist and that you’d likely miss.

    Travel Magazines: The Best Inspiration

    If your idea of preparing for travel is looking at pictures of your idyllic destination on Instagram, travel magazines are perfect for you. Magazines like AFAR and BudgetTravel snap the best shots and offer great advice on how to spend your time, whether that be in one of the hottest cities or a quaint, coastal town. There is no better way to gain inspiration for your travels than to browse a travel magazine. Setting your eyes on a coastline or skyscraper that you’ve seen in a hundred different photographs is a gratifying feeling. You’ll be elated after experiencing firsthand what you’d previously only ever seen on a glossy page.

    I firmly believe that there is more than one way to transport yourself to a new place. Whether you’re planning for an actual trip or simply dreaming of a future trip, literature, guidebooks, and travel magazines allow you to visualize, prepare, and dream about a destination before you arrive, enhancing your experience as a traveler. This is a short list of paperbacks and publications that inspire me as a traveler, and it’s by no means exhaustive. I am always looking for the next great story that will have me dying to visit a new place. If you do one thing before you travel, let it be to read.

     

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  • Spring break on a budget

    by Abby Williams

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    It’s coming soon, the week you’ve been waiting for – Spring Break. If there’s any big lesson you’ve learned so far in college, it’s that money doesn’t grow on trees. Fortunately, most of your friends are probably in the same boat and you all want to plan a cheap, safe, and fun trip for this coming March. Traveling together and sharing lodging can reduce some of your costs. Here are some ideas for a cost-effective spring break trip, whether you’re looking to ski in the mountains, bum it on the beach, or anything in between. For each activity or destination, you will find cost estimates for housing and things to do in the area. 

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