Ar­riv­ing in Amer­ica Tips to Know Be­fore You Go

Part of the essence of travel is to ex­pe­ri­ence people and places and to en­joy the fruits of your hard earned hol­i­day with­out any has­sles or mishaps. Yet, not sur­pris­ingly, ev­ery year many people run in to trou­ble and make some ba­sic er­rors when trav­el­ling

Let's Travel - - U.S.A.| GETTING THERE - By Shane Boocock

In­sur­ance: We all say, “Never go any­where with­out in­sur­ance”. But if there is one place you re­ally need that lit­tle bit of se­cu­rity, it is in the USA. True story - A good friend of mine took his chil­dren and wife to Lake Ta­hoe for Christ­mas and New Year to es­cape the heat of a long Aus­tralian sum­mer and they had a great 3 weeks in Ne­vada’s In­cline Vil­lage and the Di­a­mond Head ski re­sort. On the last day be­fore they were due to re­turn home their 17-year old son had a face-to-face, body-to-body en­counter at high speed with a much big­ger skier. With a lac­er­ated spleen, bro­ken ribs and bruised left kid­ney the lad spent 10 days in ICU and an­other 10 days in a hospi­tal ward. How­ever, the in­sur­ance paid for his fa­ther to stay in a lo­cal mo­tel and took care of all the res­cue costs, med­i­cal bills and flight reschedul­ing… all US$33,000 worth of it.

Lost Bag­gage: Be­sides hav­ing in­sur­ance it is worth read­ing the small print to fig­ure out be­fore you fly how much the air­line you are fly­ing with will re­im­burse you if your bags are lost, stolen or dam­aged en­route. It takes a bit of time but it is worth find­ing out what the air­line poli­cies are and how quickly you will get cash to buy toi­letries, cloth­ing and emer­gency re­quire­ments. I al­ways carry my lap­top and cam­eras in my hand lug­gage so the ex­pen­sive items are close at hand. On a longer flight I pack a change of cloth­ing and a small busi­ness class size toi­letry bag to tide me over in the event my bag goes miss­ing. An­other good idea is to al­ways dou­ble-check the seat pock­ets (just like the crew tell you to) as dig­i­tal cam­eras, phones and lap­tops are eas­ily left be­hind. It hap­pens on vir­tu­ally ev­ery flight. I know first hand, as I left a mini lap­top on a plane once.

Missed Flights: Through no fault of my own I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced a missed flight. My itin­er­ary had in­di­cated I needed to leave for the air­port in Hawaii at about 6pm for my evening flight from Kauai to Hawaii and on to Los Angeles. My ar­range­ments showed I had the whole day to drive and hike a beau­ti­ful canyon. As it hap­pens, at 12.25pm, when I was eight miles into my hike was the time I re­ally should have been sip­ping cock­tails on my flight. I have to say the lovely United Air­lines check-in staff in Kauai sorted out the un­fold­ing mess by not only get­ting me on a dif­fer­ent route and flight but they also up­graded me to first class. In that in­stance I made my con­nect­ing flight to Denver and on to Or­lando. Re­mem­ber to stay calm and not get frus­trated with air­line per­son­nel. It will also do you no good to shout, scream or cry. Smile and use your ac­cent and add a lit­tle hu­mil­ity and

they will al­ways take care of you.

Ex­cess bag­gage: It can cost you a tidy sum in ex­cess bag­gage charges in the USA, es­pe­cially for un­sus­pect­ing Down Un­der trav­ellers with e-tick­ets. Ar­riv­ing off an in­ter­na­tional flight is prob­a­bly easy enough but then once you come to the au­to­mated do­mes­tic tick­et­ing ma­chines you’re li­able to get hit with a US $25 ex­cess bag­gage charge. Al­ways check-in the old-fash­ioned way and ex­plain you came off an in­ter­na­tional flight as you then have up to 30 days to keep the ex­cess bag­gage charge fees from be­ing swiped off your credit card!

Gels liq­uids, wa­ter and fruit: We have prob­a­bly all done it, but get­ting caught and pay­ing a huge fine for bring­ing in fruit or, as I saw re­cently, two well-heeled Aussies hav­ing their spe­cial bot­tles of 20-year old rare whiskey con­fis­cated is not a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence. It is all part of trav­el­ling in to­day’s en­vi­ron­ment. The se­cret is to pre-pack your hand lug­gage and main suit­case in plenty of time so that sim­ple mis­takes don’t creep into your travel sched­ule. Web­sites are great ways to do some re­search on what you can and can­not carry through cus­toms and im­mi­gra­tion. Make the mis­take once and you’ll cer­tainly learn for the fu­ture.

Mo­bile Phone and Email Costs: Global roam­ing is a term I would rather re­fer to as “global rob­bery”. Just re­cently I needed to change my air­line ticket to a dif­fer­ent date. Us­ing the USA 1-800 free tele­phone ser­vice to call an air­line stripped $85 off my ac­count in less than 10 min­utes. A trick many savvy trav­ellers are now cot­ton­ing on to is to buy a cheap phone and new SIM card on a one-month plan for about US$60 with un­lim­ited calls in the USA and to mo­biles. Email is an­other way that ho­tels cap­i­talise on trav­ellers needs. Some ho­tels charge be­tween US$12 and $20 for 24 hours on the In­ter­net, so do some home­work be­fore you go and check on­line if the ho­tel chains you’re stay­ing at charge for the ser­vice and it will save you hun­dreds of dol­lars over an aver­age three-week hol­i­day.

For to­day’s trav­ellers use com­mon sense, stay calm, smile and don’t get flus­tered. There is lit­tle you can do to al­ter the cir­cum­stances once fate has grabbed you by the… scruff of the neck. How­ever, the job to rec­tify the prob­lem is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the people you are fac­ing. Air­lines and ho­tels are ser­vice in­dus­try providers, it is their job to sort out your prob­lems and make things good again. You’re on hol­i­day re­mem­ber, so try to re­lax… and en­joy it.

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