Travel News

Everything is Delayed

Everything is Delayed 1920 1245 Greg Ellifritz

Although I haven’t been out of the country since my Ecuador adventure a couple months ago, I have been traveling quite a bit within the USA.

 

In the last two months I attempted to drive to a music festival in New York (until my car broke down).  I also flew to Dallas, Texas to teach a couple classes.  After my Dallas classes, I drove to Austin to spend a few days finding a new place to live.  I was home for two days and then drove to Nashville for a training class.  I drove straight from Nashville to southern Ohio for a hiking/camping getaway.

 

Every one of my trips was negatively affected by massive staff shortages.

 

When my car broke down on the way to New York, I had it towed to a garage I regularly use.  It was a Friday.  The manager told me that half of their techs had either quit or were out with Covid.  He couldn’t get me in until the following Wednesday.

 

I ended up fixing the car myself in the garage’s parking lot, but it took so long I missed the concert I was going to attend.

 

When I got to the airport for my flight to Dallas, the bag check line was massive.  You guessed it.  The airline was short staffed.

 

The TSA screening line was hundreds of meters long (Pre-check saved me).  When I got to the metal detector I asked the screener about the line.  The TSA is short staffed too.

 

All the airport restaurants had huge lines.  There weren’t enough servers to allow full seating in the restaurants.

 

As I was teaching a gun class, I flew with firearms.  They don’t come out on the baggage conveyor belt, but instead are delivered by a person to the baggage office.  That process normally takes 10-15 minutes.  I waited nearly an hour.  When the guy came with my checked guns he explained that the airports was extremely short staffed and while he normally only serviced three luggage belts, he was doing all the work for the entire terminal.

 

I got my guns and went to wait for the bus to the rental car building.  It was another 40 minute wait (normally less than 10 minutes).  The airport was short bus drivers.

 

The rental car lines were massive.  Some had more than 50 people waiting.  It took an hour to get a pre-booked rental car.  The car rental staff complained that they were running with approximately half of their normal employees.

 

I visited eight different apartment complexes in Texas looking for a new place to live.  Staff missed my appointments.  Some leasing offices were completely without workers and closed down.  I spoke to two employees who couldn’t answer my questions because they were temporary workers  who had only been hired the day before.

 

In Nashville, several of the restaurants I went to visit were temporarily closed due to lack of staff.  The service was exceptionally slow in the restaurants that were open because they only had 20% of their normal wait staff working.

 

Even Uber in Nashville took far longer than usual.  When a friend had to leave the class to go to the airport, it took the Uber app almost 15 minutes just to match him with an available driver.

 

Some of the roadside rests between Ohio and Tennessee had sections that were closed down.  Entire wings in the restroom facilities were closed.  The state couldn’t find the staff to keep the entire building cleaned.

 

Despite all of the closures and delays, there is some good news for travelers.  In two of the three hotels where I stayed (including my favorite quirky Ruby Hotel in Round Rock) daily room cleaning had resumed.  Hopefully, uncleaned rooms as remnant of Covid-19 will rapidly disappear.

 

The point of this article is to illustrate the fact that almost everything in the travel industry is pretty screwed up right now.  Don’t expect any semblance of smooth sailing for your next adventure.  Plan for everything to take significantly longer than you expect.  Be flexible, because some of your destinations will likely be crowded, closed, or operating with limited services.

 

I think travelers will have a rocky road for quite some time to come.

What do psychics say about the future of travel?

What do psychics say about the future of travel? 541 402 Greg Ellifritz

Here’s an entertaining article the likes of which I’ve never seen before.  In it, five different psychics report their predictions for the future of travel.

 

Here’s What Travel Will Look Like in 2021, According to Psychics

 

If you don’t trust the psychics, you can see what a lot of travel experts are predicting in the article below.

 

No return to ‘normal’: Travel industry leaders weigh in on the future

 

I don’t think either group can possibly predict what will happen in the years to come.  I find it best not to get my hopes up.  I’ll just wait and see what happens, adjusting my travel plans as necessary.

 

 

European Train Travel

European Train Travel 719 677 Greg Ellifritz

I’ve done overnight trains in South America and South East Asia.  I think it’s actually a pretty fun way to travel (if you bring your own food and alcohol).

I would certainly do some of these new European routes.  Check out the article below to see how sleeper train service is being improved in Europe.

 

New Sleeper Train Services Announced Across Europe

Best US Hiking Trails?

Best US Hiking Trails? 1000 667 Greg Ellifritz

I’ve long enjoyed hiking.  I’m getting reacquainted with longer hikes now that I’m retired and have more time.  I’ve been averaging hiking about 25 miles a week so long as the weather cooperates.

 

I regularly use the AllTrails app on my phone to suggest good nearby trails.

 

The App owners tallied the ratings on all of the trails in their system and listed the favorite trails by each state.  Check out the article below.

Best hiking trails in every US state

 

All of the listed trails in my home state (Ohio) are more than a two-hour drive away from me.  I haven’t hiked any of them.  I wonder if there is a location bias.  All of the Ohio trails are near a large population center (Cleveland/Akron).  More people probably means more ratings.

I would guess that some of the remote trails in SE Ohio that get less traffic may even be better experiences than the listed trails.

 

 

 

Travel in the Old Days

Travel in the Old Days 1152 550 Greg Ellifritz

I first started traveling internationally around the turn of the last century.  At that time, I had a cell phone that charged me $9 a minute for international calls.  There were no smart phones and Google Maps was only available on a computer.

It was a different world then, but it was nothing like what travel was like in the 1960s-1980s.

 

The article below shares the adventures of several women who traveled internationally 40+ years ago.  We really don’t appreciate how easy we have it today.

 

What Solo Travel Was Like Before Smartphones and Google Maps

Coming Back to the USA Just Got Easier

Coming Back to the USA Just Got Easier 704 492 Greg Ellifritz

For the last six months, all US citizens flying back to the USA  from Europe, Brazil, and China have been funneled through one of only 15 American airports.  Those airports were equipped for the “advanced Covid-19 screening” the government deemed necessary for travelers coming from high risk countries.

 

As of today, this rule is no longer in effect.  The government has essentially stopped screening incoming passengers for illness.  Of course, this new ruling was leaked.  The government seems to want to limit this information to avoid public outcry.  The news broke on the websites below.  Read more about the change there.

New COVID Screening Policies for International Passengers Flying Into U.S.

 

White House orders end to COVID-19 airport screenings for international travelers

 

 

Quarantined From Work?

Quarantined From Work? 299 168 Greg Ellifritz

Many businesses are requiring employees to use sick leave to quarantine from work after traveling internationally.  Those business state they are just following CDC guidelines, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they are attempting to penalize employees who have the temerity to take a vacation during the pandemic.

 

If you are one of those unfortunate employees, please be aware that the rules just changed.  The CDC no longer recommends a two-week quarantine period for returning travelers.  Of course, the CDC made the changes with little public fanfare last week.  You likely haven’t heard the details.

Check out the link below for all the information you need.

 

What to Know About Changes to the CDC’s 14-Day Quarantine Travel Policy

 

How Covid-19 is Affecting Air Travel

How Covid-19 is Affecting Air Travel 1340 500 Greg Ellifritz

This post is just a quick note to highlight some of the travel changes in the wake of Covid-19.  I flew domestically last month.  There were not many changes other than the fact that the airlines required masks and that there was no meal/drink service on board.

I’m flying internationally this week.  I’ll update you with more information after my trip.  Until then, here are some references to help you navigate travel in the pandemic age.

U.S. Airlines Are Now Banning This Kind of Face Mask

Don’t plan on flying if you are wearing a mask with an exterior vent valve.  Open chin bandanna face coverings are also prohibited.

 

The Odds of Catching Covid on a Flight Are Slim

“What Barnett came up with was that we have about a 1/4300 chance of getting Covid-19 on a full 2-hour flight — that is, about 1 in 4300 passengers will pick up the virus, on average. The odds of getting the virus are about half that, 1/7700, if airlines leave the middle seat empty. He’s posted his results as a not-yet-peer-reviewed preprint.

The odds of dying of a case contracted in flight, he found, are even lower — between 1 in 400,000 and 1 in 600,000 — depending on your age and other risk factors. To put that in perspective, those odds are comparable to the average risk of getting a fatal case in a typical two hours on the ground.”

 

Flying in 2020 and 2021: How Airlines Are Adapting and How Passengers Can Stay Safe

Some interesting predictions about upcoming changes in the airline industry.

 

This CEO has flown 33 times and spent 160 nights away this year. Here’s his safety routine

These practices seem a bit extreme to me, but if you are truly paranoid about catching the Coronavirus while traveling, here are some ideas that may help.

 

 

 

RYP Talks Travel Gear

RYP Talks Travel Gear 150 150 Greg Ellifritz

Robert Young Pelton is my travel hero.  I chose the subtitle of my book “Safe Travel in Dangerous Places” as a way of paying homage to Pelton’s epic tome The World’s Most Dangerous Places.  It may be the most thorough travel book ever written.

 

In the article below, Mr. Pelton shares some thoughts about travel luggage and equipment.  There is a lot of years of distilled wisdom in that piece.

 

Robert Young Pelton’s Travel Gear And Equipment Tips

 

If you haven’t read Pelton’s book The World’s Most Dangerous Places, your travel education is incomplete.

 

 

 

 

Some of the above links (from Amazon.com) are affiliate links.   As an Amazon associate I earn a small percentage of the sale price from qualifying purchases.

Do You Travel With Your Dog?

Do You Travel With Your Dog? 611 600 Greg Ellifritz

If any of you regularly travel with your furry family members, this article may be useful for you.

 

Apps For Dogs When You Travel

 

The author links to three very useful travel apps for dog owners.  If you have a K-9 companion, check them out.