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travel

A Little Travel Adventure

Family By November 17, 2016 Tags: , , 3 Comments

I had an interesting experience with the TSA last weekend, on my way home from a short vacation. First, I want to mention that I never get stopped in the security line at the airport.  I never have to go through scanning more than once.  My bags generally pass though on the belt with no problem.  Therefore, I gave little thought to going through airport security Sunday afternoon.

I was cleared to go through Pre-TSA but my husband was not, being the sweet, loving, supportive wife that I am, I hung out with him in the long security line instead of ducking out and taking the shorter, easier route.  This was a mistake.  When my turn finally came, my bags made it through fine but I did not. I obeyed the petite TSA agent working the body scanner, positioned myself on the painted feet and put my hands above my head. Then I walked out of the scanner and stood in front of the larger, more foreboding agent waiting for him to wave me on (daydreaming about finding an iced coffee somewhere).  As I stood there, the large, blond male agent was suddenly replaced with Olga, the ex-Russian wrestler, turned woman’s prison guard, now working for the TSA.  She completely blocked my exit and then motioned to a picture of my body scan (I am not sure she used words). The screen showed three large dots over my private parts (it looked like I was wearing matching yellow underwear) and one small yellow dot on my wrist.

I looked at her in disbelief and immediately held out my naked wrist for inspection.  She wasn’t impressed. I was speechless but she was not.  She immediately began telling me what was going to happen.  I listened to her, stunned and a bit embarrassed.  She went on and on and on in a low monotone voice explaining what she was going to do in order to “investigate” the yellow dots.   I am sure my mouth was hanging open and I was blinking.  YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME….this is a joke, right?  A test to see how people react?  Understand, I wasn’t wearing any jewelry (no hidden body piercing under the yellow dots), nothing in my jean pockets…I wasn’t even wearing makeup!  I was pretty calm up until she asked me if I understood and if I wanted to go behind a privacy screen. OMG!  I declined, but now I am worried I didn’t fully understand what she was going to do.  Why else would you need a privacy screen?!

Then it began.  The pat down, which included lifting my top (twice) so she could feel around the waist band of my pants and of course, touching the rest of my body. She did seem to be quick and respectful which I was grateful for.  Especially since I was providing a good distraction and entertainment for the other passengers waiting to get through the line. Honestly, I always look, wondering who they caught.  I will never do that again!  My body search concluded with a hand wipe and scan.  Of course, nothing came up.

When we were almost done, I felt semi brave and asked why I was flagged? Olga just shrugged and said sometimes its loose clothing.  I thanked her towards the end of our visit.  Why?  I don’t know.  Except, I appreciate their diligence to keeping the friendly skies safe.  I didn’t tell her that though, I didn’t want them to think I was trying to suck up or cause a distraction giving them any reason to detain me longer.  I did have on loose clothing, top and bottom.  I have lost weight and decided to wear my comfy loose jeans to travel in. However, I am now considering purchasing a pair of black leggings.  Then they wouldn’t have to pat me down, they could see everything!

My husband was moving our items off the belt when I was finished.  It felt like an hour but I guess it was only 5 minutes or so.  What was his comment once we cleared security?  With wide eyes he declares, “wow, that was intense!”  I have to agree. Next time I am leaving him in the dust and taking the Pre-TSA option.

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Confessions of a Travel Wimp

Family By May 1, 2016 Tags: , , , 25 Comments

I am cringing at the title of this post. I never considered myself a travel wimp but the experience I had over the last weekend has made me reconsider.

I traveled to Las Vegas from New England for a blogger conference (BAM – Bloggers at Midlife).  Las Vegas is on Pacific Time, I am on Eastern Time – which is 3 hours earlier. I didn’t think much of this until I actually had to live it.  Since I am paying for this conference myself, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on airfare.  The compromise was a reasonable fare with a four hour layover in Denver.  Denver has a beautiful airport, it could have been much worse but still, four hours is a long time.  I chose to take a soft sided carry-on bag (no wheels, I might add) that got heavier and heavier as we explored the airport, looking at the shops and trying to find things to do.  By the time we got on the connecting flight my hand hurt and my palms had red marks from the straps.

We finally landed in Las Vegas, got our rental car and headed to the hotel.  This hotel was beautiful and huge – a resort with golf course and spa facilities.  We managed to park and haul our luggage (I also brought a massive and heavy lap top bag) into the lobby to check in.  That was the easy part. treasure-map2 Once we checked-in the cheery, smiling desk person tells me the room number, hands me the keys and pulls out a map.  I really, honestly thought he was just going to circle the room and point to the elevators behind me but no, this was an actual map of the huge facility.  Then to my horror he started drawing lines to show me the path I had to take, in order to get to the next tower, where my room was located. Lots of long pen marks through multiple building. I looked at him with a blank stare – are you kidding me?  Now, I have to actually travel to my room?! AND, it’s going to take a map to get there!  By this time I was in charge of our entire luggage pile, my daughter-in-law had booked a hair appointment at the spa facility and she was late for it.  So no, he wasn’t kidding as he gleefully handed me the map.  I had been up since 5 am, it was now about 8 pm on the East Coast, I AM TIRED, I am low on coffee and food.  I forced a smile, took the treasure map and drug the luggage the 3 miles to my room.  Geez…now all I want is a nap.

I am an early riser, Las Vegas was made for night owls.  I woke up at 3:00 am PST ready for the day!  Of course, the Starbucks in the hotel won’t open until 6 am and its dark outside.  Oi!  However, I did finally rally and managed the rest of the weekend without any additional drama but then… I had to travel home.

airport-sign2For some reason, that I do not remember,  we decided to take the red-eye home to arrive early on Sunday morning. This overnight flight left at 11:30 pm – there is a reason it is called the ‘red-eye’!  If you do the math, that would be 2:30 in the morning ‘my time’. I am not a good late night person.  I couldn’t sleep very well on the plane, the seats had these monitors in the back of them that glowed all night (nobody was watching them) and then we had to literally run half way across the airport to catch our connecting flight!  We were almost the last ones to get on before they closed the hatch.  We were determined NOT to miss it.   I thought I was going to throw up (probably from sleep deprivation and running a sprint) – luckily I didn’t –that may have delayed us.

Here I am (a few days later) just starting to feel normal again.  However, since my husband and I want to travel more and we also would like to travel with our kids and grandkids, I have to analyze and deal with my issues over the past weekend.

Here are my ideas.  Purchase a reasonable WHEELED carry-on, get a lighter laptop or just don’t bring it and use my smart phone (I will just have to manage the much smaller screen), NEVER, EVER fly a red-eye flight again and always make sure there is a reasonable layover time between flights. Oh…and drink more water.  I got dehydrated because I didn’t want to drink anything on the plane and have to crawl over people to use the bathroom. Sigh…

 

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Over the Moon Link Party
Grand Social
Wordless Wednesday
Nanahood
Creative Muster
Welcome Home Wednesday
No Rules Weekend Blog Party
This is How We Roll
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10 Tips for a Happier Family Trip to D.C.

Family By September 14, 2015 Tags: , , , , , No Comments

This year, as a collective Christmas present, our family decided to take a vacation together.  We called it the “gift of time” because what we really like to do and don’t get to do as much, is spend time together.

The destination we chose was Washington D.C., over Labor Day weekend.  We decided to add an extra day, extending the already long weekend.  Off we went, celebrating Christmas in September, the grandparents, three grown children, a two-year old and an infant. It turns out we chose well, except for the heat, which hovered around 90 degrees, the summer crowds had thinned and the hotel prices were great.

Here are a few suggestions that helped us:

  1. Let each member pick something they would like to see.  We put together an itinerary so that everyone got to see or do at least one thing on their list. Nobody left disappointed.
  2. Book a hotel close to a metro stop and eating establishments.  At the end of a long day visiting the sites, you just want to get back to the hotel and find somewhere close by to eat dinner.
  3. Get connecting hotel rooms, if possible.  This made it nice for the parents to hand off the grands in the morning, so they could get a few minutes of peace and quiet before breakfast.  My granddaughter loved going back and forth through the “secret door”.
  4. Download the DC Metro Map app onto your phone.  You can get it for both Apple and Android phones.  We downloaded it onto several phones, so more than one person had the map. This proved to be very helpful.
  5. If you are planning to use the metro a lot, consider purchasing an all-day metro pass.  It pays for itself after three or four trips, depending if you travel off-peak or not.  Children 4 and under ride free.
  6. Keep the little kids in the stroller while you are in the metro station.  It is easier and safer to get on and off the train quickly if they are contained in the stroller.
  7. Bring an easily fold-able stroller and one that reclines for nap time on the go.  If you plan on using a double stroller, don’t bring one that sits side by side.  Because they are wide, it is difficult to get them on and off the metro train and they don’t easily fit through a lot of the museum doors or museum security areas.
  8. Find out ahead of time which attractions allow strollers and which ones don’t.  You can usually find this information on their websites.  For example, the Butterfly Exhibit at the Natural History Museum did not allow strollers, but had a place to store it while we were in the exhibit.
  9. Bring water and snacks for the kids (and possibly adults). Food is a bit pricey at the Smithsonian cafeterias.  Have a little something on hand to hold them over until you can find a reasonable restaurant.  The small individual bags of cookies and crackers work well.
  10. Less is more. Don’t try to cram too much into one day.  It is better to see a few things and have time left over to relax, instead of being harried, harassed and exhausted because you had to get it all in.

We had a great time and are now looking forward to our second family Christmas vacation.

Does your multi-generation family travel together?

 

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