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According to a USA Today survey, air travelers still commit a surprising number of faux pas at the airport. Courtesy photo
According to a USA Today survey, air travelers still commit a surprising number of faux pas at the airport. Courtesy photo
ColumnsHit the Road

Travel mistakes, cruise tips, tidepools and killer whales!

I took my first airplane flight at age 4. (Let’s just say it was sometime in the last millennium.) My parents and three siblings (later 11 siblings) were relocating from Florida to New York, and airplane travel to anywhere then was a big deal.

And a simple deal.

Prospective travelers had only to visit a travel agent who’d booked the flight. At the airport, passengers simply checked in, walked across the tarmac, climbed the stairway to the door of the airplane (no enclosed jetway), waved goodbye to whoever was left behind, and entered the belly of the plane.

Today? So much more complicated, so many more hoops, and so many mistakes to be made — all of which slow and aggravate the process of getting from here to there.

According to a survey conducted by USA Today, travelers from North Carolina, West Virginia and Arkansas commit the most faux pas and win the prize for the “least efficient” travelers in the country.

Their trespasses?

They forget to take off shoes and belts in the security line; attempt to go through scanners with phones, jewelry and keys, and forget to remove laptops and tablets from carry-on luggage.

Also, four in 10 travelers are guilty of overstuffing their luggage and sucking up time struggling to jam those carry-ons into overhead bins. (New Yorkers are the worst.)

Residents in Connecticut, Oklahoma or Oregon can stop patting themselves on the back for not doing any of the above because they are most likely to get stopped for carrying liquids greater than 3 ounces and/or having too many containers to fit into that quart bag.

Sick of airports and flying? Take a cruise. Check out some tips below. Photo by Yellow Boat
Sick of airports and flying? Take a cruise. Check out some tips below. Photo by Yellow Boat

The USA Today survey researched many more issues around air travel, but the one I found most distressing?

Nearly six out of 10 airline passengers now have TSA PreCheck, which lets passengers cruise through the security line. We early adopters aren’t so special anymore.

Perhaps 2024 will be the year of your first cruise. Need advice from a veteran? Check out Cruise Mummy, an award-winning blog on the industry and consumer advice. Here are a few Mummy tips:

  • When booking, use a travel agent who may have special offers, or if booking online, use a comparison tool to check prices.
  • The best deals are available when itineraries are first released for booking or 12 weeks before the cruise sets sail when prices drop to fill the remaining cabins.
  • Booking an inside cabin can save lots of money that can be used for onshore excursions.
  • The price of children’s tickets can vary greatly. Do your research. You could save hundreds.
  • Check policies regarding bringing alcohol on board. Buying alcoholic drinks can add up quickly.
  • Using a cell phone while aboard can be expensive. If you must, check out the ship’s Wi-Fi package, which allows calling and texting via WhatsApp and Skype. To avoid the high price of roaming, turn off your phone or place it in airplane mode.

If all of the above is too much to consider, here are a few close-to-home destinations and activities:

— Tide-pooling adventures resume Jan. 20 at Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. The 90-minute outing with an expert guide helps participants discover some of the animals that live in the rocky area along the coast that is exposed during low tide. Think snails, mussels, urchins, sea stars, small fish and octopus.

Starting Jan. 20, nature lovers will have the opportunity to explore local tide pools with naturalists from Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. During the 90-minute outing, guests will discover incredible animals that live in the rocky areas near the shore that are exposed during low tide. Courtesy photo
Starting Jan. 20, nature lovers will have the opportunity to explore local tide pools with naturalists from Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Courtesy photo

— In mid-December, passengers on Oceanside Adventures’ whale-watching expedition had the rare privilege of seeing a pod of orcas (killer whales) off the coast of Oceanside. Also known as ETPs (Eastern Tropical Pacifics), these orcas were traveling south, returning to the waters off the coast of Mexico. Even though sightings of orcas are an anomaly, there is plenty of other sea life to see on OA’s cruises. Between now and the end of March, it’s high season for migrating gray whales, and cruises nearly always come across dozens to hundreds of dolphins playing in the boat’s wake or racing alongside.

For more discussion and photos, visit www.facebook.com/elouise.ondash. To share an adventure, email [email protected].

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