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Lost at (Baggage Claim) C

It can happen to anyone. You may be vigilant about checking in online, careful to arrive at the airport early, and insistent on flying direct, but even the most well-honed travel savvy is sometimes no match for simple math and Murphy’s Law. Just 2% of bags are declared irretrievably lost by airlines each year, seemingly innocuous odds that become more dangerous the more frequently you travel. Sooner or later, it will happen to you.

Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member dinkime

NEWS FLASH: Passport Deadline for Land and Sea Travelers Extended

The passport requirements for land and sea travelers returning to the United States from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean have been extended to a yet-to-be-determined date. USA Today reports that land and sea travelers must have their passports by sometime in 2009. The new restrictions were expected to take effect in the summer of 2008.

As of January 31, 2007, an oral declaration of citizenship will no longer be enough to re-enter the country. U.S. and Canadian citizens will need to present either a WHTI-compliant document, or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, plus proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. Examples of WHTI-compliant documents are a U.S. passport, passport card, or the SENTRI, NEXUS, FAST and U.S. Coast Guard Mariner Document.

For more information, visit the State Department Web site.

New Year’s Travel Resolutions

Five things you can do to make your travels easier, cheaper, and more fulfilling in ‘08

Be sure to chime in with your own New Year’s travel resolutions!

I will book my airline tickets far in advance.
With domestic carriers cutting back capacity this year, there’s going to be more competition than ever for the cheap seats. Combined with the already high load factors common in 2007, we can safely say waiting until the last minute is not likely to score you a deal. At Travelocity, we’ve seen a pattern of travelers booking further and further in advance to score the best-priced seats – and you should do that too. Look at least three months and even further in advance whenever possible.

I will fly early in the morning and direct whenever possible.
Not only are you more likely to find deals on those early-morning flights, booking yourself on one gives you the best chance of being on time. Why? Delays pile up throughout the day and cause a ripple effect through the aviation system and if you get out early, you won’t be at the mercy of an incoming flight. Avoiding connecting flights means you limit the number possible delays; in addition, if you miss a connecting flight because your first flight was delayed, you may have trouble finding a seat on another flight to get you to your destination.

St. John beach chair photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Jose Kevo.

Do You Zoo?

It’s an unfortunate truth that the average American isn’t going to get to the African savannah to watch a wildebeest, the Mongolian Steppe to see ibex, or the Antarctic shelf to ooh-ahh at penguins. That’s why so many cities proudly flaunt their zoos as a way to showcase and preserve exotic and endangered creatures.

Years ago, while staying with a host family in Uruapan, Mexico, I had the opportunity to visit the zoo in the nearby Michoacan state capital of Morelia. This was not the cushy Smithsonian Institution Zoo that I’d grown up with in D.C. Amid a frenzy of balloons and lime-chili-chip vendors, I stood in front of a tiger cage that stank of raw meat and watched a magnificent cat pace back and forth in an intensely dense cloud of flies. Echoing my thoughts exactly, the father of my host family lamented aloud, “pobrecito, el tigre” (poor little tiger).

National Zoo tiger photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Reiflame.

News Flash: New Rules for Lithium Batteries from DOT

Effective January 1, 2008, passengers carrying lithium batteries on airplanes — in both checked on carry-on luggage — must adhere to new regulations, according to Travel Weekly.

Loose lithium batteries can no longer be placed in checked baggage. Passengers may have up to two loose lithium batteries in their carry-on baggage, but the batteries must be in their original packaging OR in two separate, resalable plastic bags.

Items that commonly use lithium batteries, such as cell phones and cameras, can still be carried on or checked as long as the lithium battery is inside them.

Loose lithium batteries are considered hazardous because they can overheat and ignite, causing fires. Read the news release in its entirety from the Department of Transportation here.