Overcoming obstacles while traveling with people who have autism spectrum disorder

For many people, an out-of-town trip can be refreshing and invigorating. Experiencing a new place together as a family offers the chance to make lasting memories outside your normal routine. But for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), traveling brings a host of unique challenges. New sights and sounds paired with the disruption of their usual daily routine can make it difficult to navigate the unpredictable nature of a trip.

But that does not mean families with a member who has autism need to avoid travel altogether. Whether you’re considering air travel or are opting for a road trip, planning ahead can make things much easier for everyone.

In this article

Benefits of Travel for Someone with Autism

While traveling with a child with autism may seem like a challenge, there are several benefits that a trip may bring to all members of the family. For the family member with autism, experiencing a new environment can gently push their comfort zone and build confidence. Traveling is also an effective way to build social skills and interact in new situations, like going to a restaurant, using public transportation or waiting in line.

A new environment may also help with sensory desensitization. Rather than completely avoiding loud or crowded areas, travel offers the opportunity to learn new coping mechanisms to minimize anxiety as much as possible. Traveling with a person who has autism requires some preparation from everyone. “Graded exposure” practices, like practicing new experiences in advance, can be helpful. Additionally, you may opt for a shorter trip if it’s your first time traveling with your child with autism.

The shared experiences of a family vacation offer a unique bonding opportunity. Additionally, parents need their own time to relax and take a break from the challenges of everyday life.

10 Common Obstacles and Solutions for Traveling with Someone who has Autism

Autism Problem: Leaving home and a familiar environment
Solution: Create a countdown calendar, so your child is not surprised when it is time to depart. Discuss the plans for your trip with your child in detail, so they know what to expect. Share pictures and other information with them about where you are going, where you are staying and how you are getting there. It is important for someone with autism to have a sense of familiarity.

Autism Problem: Change in routine
Solution: Identify parts of your child’s regular routine that you can continue, like eating the same breakfast foods or staying on the same nighttime schedule. Discuss some new parts of the routine that might be introduced while traveling so your child is prepared and can participate in planning the new routine.

Autism Problem: Overstimulation
Solution: Avoid an overpacked vacation schedule. Include time for breaks, especially if you are in an area with high sensory stimulation that may be difficult for some with autism. Don’t try to introduce too many new things in one day to a child with a developmental disability, as it may cause sensory overload. Give them a chance to appreciate one or two activities per day without feeling like they are bombarded with new things. Try to avoid activities or places that are very crowded or loud if possible.

Autism Problem: Unexpected plan changes
Solution: Sticking to the plan is important when managing your child’s expectations. Make reservations in advance to help prepare those expectations as much as possible. Try to avoid too many activities that depend on things like the weather. Again, avoid packing your schedule with too many activities as this can be overwhelming for someone with autism.

Autism Problem: Disappointment
Solution: Make backup plans for your scheduled activities and discuss those with your child in advance. Use language like “might” or “hope to” so that there has been some preparation if bad weather causes a change.

Autism Problem: Keeping track of your child
Solution: Consider placing an ID tag on your child’s bag or shoelace that includes information about autism. In case you get separated, they will have your contact information on them. Discuss in advance what to do if you get separated, so your child knows what to do to get back to you.

Autism Problem: Emergency situations
Solution: In case you encounter an emergency while on your trip, bring a physician’s letter and any other medical documents that may help a new care provider understand your child’s needs. Research the areas you will be traveling to and see what care facilities are nearby if something should happen.

Autism Problem: Behavior perceptions
Solution: Be open and honest about your child’s needs when traveling, which can make employees and other travelers much more accommodating.

Autism Problem: Noisy lodging or restaurants
Solution: Rent a vacation house instead of a hotel room to help control noise and cook your own food. If you are at a hotel, call the hotel in advance to explain your child’s needs and ask for a room at the end of the hall and away from elevators.

Autism Problem: Considering a future trip
Solution: Help your family prepare for future vacations by logging what went well and what could be changed to work better next time. Ask your child what they enjoyed about past trips and what presented challenges for them.

Pre-Trip

Planning ahead can remove a lot of travel stress for everyone.

Packing

Taking the right items with you can make a world of difference. Here are some travel essentials that could help your child manage sensory issues while traveling

  • Familiar snacks and foods: If your child has sensory issues when it comes to food textures, bring your own snacks and foods to make sure they have something they can comfortably eat.
  • Weighted blanket: Talk to your child’s care provider or occupational therapist to see if a weighted blanket could lessen anxiety, especially on an airplane.
  • Noise reduction headphones: Traveling can be loud. Noise reduction headphones could help lessen a child’s sensory overload, especially on a crowded airplane or a loud car trip.
  • Entertainment: Choose items that match your child’s needs, such as play dough, fidget toys and coloring books.
  • Change of clothes: Ensure your child remains comfortable with clean clothes in case of an accident or lost luggage.
  • Familiar toys or portable activities: Be sure to bring along your child’s favorite toys or activities that are portable so they have something familiar to engage with during the trip, which can help lessen anxiety.

Planning

Give your child ample time to prepare for the trip by frequently talking about what will happen. Preparation can help them better adjust to a change in routine, which is often a challenge for individuals with autism.

Use social stories to help people with autism visualize what will change when you go on a trip. Also, give your child the opportunity to ask questions about the trip. Get them to repeat back the plan to ensure they truly understand what to expect.

For instance, you may create a social story about standing in line at the airport. You can also talk about the timeline of events, so they know what to expect and when. With autism, it can be difficult to be flexible, so it is important to provide positive reinforcement when they exhibit flexibility in a situation. Parents need to regularly have these conversations with their autistic child in the days and weeks leading up to the trip. Frequent conversations about the trip will give you the chance to address any anxieties they may have so you can work together to create a plan to lessen their stress.

Car safety is also critical. During this pre-trip stage, make sure to check that your auto insurance policy is up to date. Finding the best car insurance can significantly reduce stress on a road trip, especially if your child has autism. Reviewing your auto policy before a trip may also give you a chance to explore other options and get the cheapest car insurance to fit your coverage needs.

Dealing with new people and places

Whether you’re visiting family or friends you have not seen in a while or are concerned about large crowds, it is essential to prepare your child for these new experiences and people.

Introduce your child to the new destination with photos and videos to give them the chance to visualize where they will be. If possible, consider taking a field trip to practice in advance. Perhaps you can visit the airport ahead of time or use a public rest stop before your trip.

Also, talk about any friends or family you will visit to help your child feel more comfortable, especially if you are staying in someone else’s house. Explain your relationship with the people you are visiting and even consider scheduling a video conference for your child to meet them ahead of time.

Car

Here are some specific strategies you can execute to make a car ride easier for your child with autism.

Establishing Boundaries

Start by identifying potential triggers in the car that could make the person with autism uncomfortable. Many sensory overload issues may be magnified in such a small space. Figure out the maximum volume for music and even genres that may soothe or agitate your child. Let your child help create a playlist before you head out. Scents can also disrupt their comfort level, whether it’s an air freshener or fragrant food in the car, so make sure you plan for foods and snacks that aren’t too smelly.

It is also helpful to provide a timetable for the person with autism so they know what to expect. Create a schedule for food and restroom stops, as well as your estimated arrival time. Give verbal and visual cues, like a map with stops marked or a timer counting down to the next rest area. If you need to break up the trip, make a reservation at a hotel along the way, so you don’t have to search for available rooms on the go.

Also, remember to help them prepare for schedule changes that are out of your control. If you hit heavy traffic that will slow you down, communicate those changes to your child and adjust your timer and map.

Stops

Stopping at restaurants and bathrooms is an integral part of the trip for anyone, especially for individuals with autism. Taking a few minutes of quiet time offers a mental break, especially on a road trip where the chance of overstimulation is high. Make each stop as relaxing as possible by going to familiar places, such as a fast-food chain that looks similar no matter where you are. Offer everyone in the car a chance to walk around and stretch. Research rest stops or areas where you might like to stop before you head out to find more peaceful places, and share photos of those places with your child in advance.

Also, remember that nutrition is an important component of a successful trip. Research shows that nutrition issues can amplify problematic behaviors. So you must plan to ensure your child receives the proper nutrition through food and potentially supplements if recommended by your medical professional.

Ride Entertainment

Bringing familiar entertainment can help make the car ride easier for a child with autism, as well as the arrival to a new environment. Here are some ideas for a smooth road trip.

  • Use a car organizer: This helps keep all of the child’s items within arm’s reach.
  • Make activity bags: Fill a bag with ball mazes, lap books or small puzzles to keep your child busy. If taking a long car ride, split up the items into multiple bags to spread out over the trip.
  • Bring headphones: Relaxing music or stories can soothe a child and reduce noise triggers in the car.
  • Preload a tablet: Download your child’s favorite games (and some new ones) to keep them occupied without WiFi on the road.
  • Brainstorm family games: Every road trip needs some type of group game, such as I Spy, bingo or the license plate game. Practice with your child ahead of time if you plan to play a new game.

Plane

Experiencing a plane ride for the first time can be overwhelming. Here are some tips for managing each part of the process.

Airport

The airport can be a noisy, crowded and confusing place, and you are often not in control of where you will sit or how long you must wait in line. Use social stories ahead of your trip to help your child prepare. You can even practice together what it will be like to go through TSA. Show videos and practice together.

According to the TSA, travelers with autism can be screened with a companion. Arrive early and talk to the TSA officer in advance to figure out the best way to get your child through security. Expedite the process by filling out a TSA notification card, which quickly communicates your child’s condition.

Also, take advantage of any available resources your airport offers. For example, Pittsburgh International Airport has a sensory room called Presley’s Place. It has a recreation of an airplane cabin to help prepare your child, soundproof spaces with privacy, and calming activities.

Plane

Start by making sure you can choose seats together. Some budget airlines require an extra fee for this service. If financially possible, pay the fee so you can sit with your child. Also, be prepared to help your child with new sensory experiences. Your doctor can recommend over-the-counter medications or other remedies for motion sickness. Bring candy or gum for your child to chew to avoid ear popping during take-off and landing.

In-flight entertainment is also important. Choose things to keep them busy and will fit in your carry-on bag. Coloring books, calming music with headphones and downloaded games or shows can keep your kid busy and as calm as possible. A favorite blanket can also help, especially since airplanes can be chilly. Remember to pack snacks, so you don’t have to deal with sensory issues with whatever airline provides. Try to chat with the flight attendants when you get on the plane to let them know about any special needs and introduce them to your children before taking off.

Additional Tips for People with Autism

Here are a few extra tips to help make your family’s airplane experience as smooth as possible.

  • Avoid traveling on the busiest days of the week: Weekdays and early morning flights are typically the quietest, but you can also call the airline to book your flight and ask them the best days and times to fly.
  • Visit the airport in advance: Check if your airport has a tour program or create your own (at least up to the TSA checkpoint).
  • Simplify security screening: Help your child with autism breeze through the TSA checkpoint by wearing slip-on shoes and layers that do not have complicated zippers or buttons. Consider applying for TSA Precheck if you are eligible to minimize the wait time and make security a bit easier.
  • Create trip rules: Explain rules in advance, like keeping their seatbelt on or wearing a face mask. Offer appropriate rewards for positive behavior.
  • Schedule breaks: Let your child know when to expect snack and bathroom breaks.

The bottom line

Travel may look different when a family member has autism, but that does not mean it is off the table. Think about your child’s specific needs and tailor solutions to help them as much as possible. It is important to talk to your child in advance and encourage questions and communication.

Create a checklist ahead of time to ensure you have everything your family needs, including medications, the right snacks and other items to make your child more comfortable. It takes extra time and effort, but your entire family can benefit from a new experience with lasting memories together.

Written by Lauren Ward, Insurance Contributor

Edited by Maggie Kempken, Insurance Editor

Hoyt’s Safety Measures and Coronavirus Cleaning Tips

As more cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) are reported in the U.S., Hoyt Livery is providing measures to help protect our clients and employees from the spread of this and other illnesses. Plus, coronavirus cleaning tips from the CDC.

Here’s what Hoyt is doing:

  • We thoroughly clean all interior surfaces of our vehicles with disinfectant wipes after each ride, as well as clean all employee work surfaces daily.
  • Our employees know not to report to work if they are feeling unwell and are instructed to seek medical attention.
  • We have also decided to temporarily remove all printed reading materials, beverages and snacks from our vehicles to prevent cross contact.

Thank you for understanding these precautionary measures and know that we are committed to keeping our vehicles as germ-free as possible and in pristine condition, inside and out.

Your health and safety are of utmost importance to us, and we thank you for your business!

Advice on cleaning for coronavirus

What can you do to help reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus and other illnesses? Here are general recommendations for routine cleaning and disinfection of households.

  • Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc. with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface, following label instructions.
  • Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
  • Wash your clothes and towels more frequently using the hot water setting when possible. Use your dishwasher on the sanitize setting to wash not just your dishes, flatware and cups, but other household items like sponges and hairbrushes.

  • Household members should follow home care guidance when interacting with persons with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 and their isolation rooms/bathrooms.
  • In the bedroom/bathroom dedicated for an ill person, consider reducing cleaning frequency to as-needed (e.g., soiled items and surfaces) to avoid unnecessary contact with the ill person.
  • An ill person should stay in a specific room and away from other people in their home, as much as possible, following home care guidance. The caregiver can provide personal cleaning supplies for an ill person’s room and bathroom, unless the room is occupied by a child or another person for whom such supplies would not be appropriate.
  • These supplies include tissues, paper towels, cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants. If a separate bathroom is not available, the bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected after each use by an ill person. If this is not possible, the caregiver should wait as long as practical after use by an ill person to clean and disinfect the high-touch surfaces.

Coronavirus Concerns: Should You Still Travel?

The COVID-19 illness caused by a new coronavirus has millions of Americans questioning whether it’s wise, or even safe, to travel, especially by air. To help you make an informed decision, an infectious disease expert has created a checklist to help you decide whether to go ahead with your trip or cancel it.

Information courtesy of Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter for U.S. News & World Report.

Know your risk

Regarding risk assessment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on their website (as of March 11) that, “For most people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. There is not widespread circulation in most communities in the United States.”

So, for most people with healthy immune systems, infection appears to result in mild symptoms—similar to a cold or flu. However, infection appears to be most severe, and occasionally fatal, for the frail elderly or those with chronic health issues or compromised immune systems.

Should you travel Q&A

Dr. Susan Wootton, an infectious disease pediatrician at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, has developed this nine-point checklist to help you decide whether your trip is a go or a no.

If your answer matches the response in parentheses to each question, move on to the next question. If not, you may need to rethink your travel plans.

  • Are the travelers healthy? (Yes.)
  • Have the travelers received flu shots? (Yes.)
  • Do any of the travelers or anyone the travelers have had contact with have any underlying high-risk conditions for the virus, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease? (No.)
  • Are any travel restrictions for your destination listed on the CDC or U.S. Department of State websites? (No.)
  • Is the trip a cruise (which Wootton advises against)? (No.)
  • Are there any major events after the trip that would cause problems if you and your fellow travelers were quarantined for a period of time? (No.)
  • Would anxiety during travel ruin the trip for you? (No.)
  • Are you reasonably able to take common preventative measures — such as washing hands and keeping hands away from the face — during travel? (Yes.)
  • Would your regret be manageable if you or a family member caught COVID-19? (Yes.)

If you’ve gone through and answered this checklist, your trip may still be a go. If this is the case, Dr. Luis Ostrosky, professor of infectious diseases at UT Health, offers these tips to help keep yourself healthy while traveling:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds—wash to the “Happy Birthday” song twice to ensure germs are washed away.
  • Carry and use a hand sanitizing gel with at least 60% alcohol as a backup when hand-washing isn’t available.
  • If you fly on a plane or take public transit, wipe down your seat, armrests, tray table, air vents, etc. with Clorox disinfecting wipes or similar.
  • Don’t touch your face. This is a tough one, because people do this without realizing it many times an hour, around 90 times a day. Try to be aware and avoid this habit.
  • If you don’t have to touch that doorknob, railing or countertop, don’t, or use your arm or other body part instead. Like the cold and flu virus, coronavirus can be coughed or sneezed onto surfaces.
  • Don’t bother wearing a face mask in public unless you have symptoms and want to help reduce spreading something yourself. According to the CDC, in everyday scenarios, face masks aren’t effective in cutting down your risk of infection, and might even raise the odds as people touch their face to readjust the mask. Also, buying up face masks reduces the supply available for medical professionals, possibly putting them at risk. So, only wear a mask if you are already sick, to prevent spread to others.
  • Keep yourself informed, preferably by reputable sources such as the CDC’s travel notices, the U.S. Department of State’s travel advisories, and the World Health Organization’s situation reports.
  • In addition to wiping down your airline or train seat, it is recommended that upon checking into your hotel room, wipe down the doorknobs, light switches, handles, coffee pot, tv remote, desk, toilet, faucet, sink, etc.  with disinfectant wipes. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently.

For more information, see the CDC’s coronavirus website.

Source: U.S. News & World Report

A Q&A on CLEAR Identity Verification

If you fly and have been in an airport recently, you’ve probably heard about the CLEAR ID verification service.

Learn what CLEAR is and does, so you can determine if it’s right for you, courtesy of clark.com.

What exactly is CLEAR?

CLEAR, a New York-based startup, is a service to help you get through security lines at airports and stadiums faster and more efficiently by verifying your identity ahead of time and linking it to biometric data-like scans of your iris and fingertips.

CLEAR uses biometrics — namely your fingerprint and the iris in your eye — to confirm your identity, rather than old-school forms of ID like driver’s licenses and passports.

CLEAR transforms those biometrics into an encrypted code that is unique to each individual. Every time you check in at a CLEAR location, the system matches your fingerprint and iris scans to your unique code to ensure that it’s really you.

As a result, you’re able to bypass the general security lines at dozens of major airports and some other big sports and concert venues across the country, saving you valuable time in the process.

How does CLEAR work?

There are two stages to the security check at every U.S. airport: Identity verification and a security screening. When you sign up with CLEAR, you use it to bypass the wait in line to present your ID to a TSA agent. Instead, you go to a CLEAR kiosk and scan your eye or fingertip.

Once the system confirms your identity, a CLEAR employee will escort you directly to the security screening, which is usually much faster than standing in the line waiting for the TSA agent.

Although lines can and do form at CLEAR kiosks, they generally move at a much quicker pace than the other lines waiting to get through security.

How much does CLEAR cost?

A CLEAR Plus membership is $179 a year. If you join CLEAR Plus, you can add up to three adult family members to your account for $50 each per year. Children under 18 don’t need an account. They can accompany family members in the CLEAR line for free.

CLEAR has also partnered with two airlines — Delta and United — to offer their frequent flyers discounted memberships.

Delta Diamond Medallion members get free CLEAR membership. Platinum, Gold and Silver Medallion members can enroll for $109 a year and any non-Medallion SkyMiles member pays just $119. That means that if you are thinking about joining CLEAR, you can save yourself $60 a year simply by becoming a SkyMiles member at no charge.

As for United, MileagePlus Premier 1K members can enroll in CLEAR for free. Premier, Platinum, Gold, and Silver level flyers pay $109 a year, while it will cost Non-Premier flyers $119.

Both airlines also have branded credit cards that could allow you to get a discounted CLEAR membership. If you have one of those cards, check with the issuer to see if you qualify for a discount.

The American Express Green Card also now offers a $100 statement credit if you purchase your membership with the card, which could make your total $79 or less per year.

CLEAR + TSA PreCheck = Even Faster

If you have TSA PreCheck, you can get through security even faster. Where CLEAR expedites your trips through the documents-clearing portion of the process, PreCheck gets you through the physical screening quicker. If you have PreCheck, a CLEAR agent will escort you to the expedited PreCheck lanes once your identity is verified.

It’s important to note, though, that signing up for CLEAR does not automatically get you PreCheck status — they are separate programs.

Where Can You Use CLEAR?

You can use CLEAR at all participating airports and other CLEAR locations, such as stadiums. Check www.clearme.com for participating airports. While a CLEAR Plus membership gives you access to all of them, you can enroll in CLEAR Sports for free to get access to the non-airport venues. Just remember that you will not get the airport benefits with that plan.

Should I Be Worried About Giving My Biometric Data to CLEAR?

To enroll with CLEAR, you have to physically appear at one of their locations, although you can start the process online. CLEAR takes your iris and fingerprint scans. You’ll also have to present a valid driver’s license, U.S. passport, permanent resident card, or U.S. military card. Then you’ll be given a unique personalized quiz based on publicly available information to verify your identity.

So should you be worried about CLEAR knowing this much about you?

According to the company itself, “Privacy is at the center of everything we do at CLEAR and we are fully committed to protecting our members’ information. We never sell or rent personal information. Personal information is only used to deliver a frictionless and secure experience with CLEAR.”

Is CLEAR worth the money?

Obviously, there could be a lot of benefits to being a CLEAR member. But is a membership a good investment for every traveler? As it is fairly expensive, it may only be worth it if you travel more than 10 or 15 times a year. The other thing to consider is if there are CLEAR lanes at the airport or airports you fly in and out of most frequently. If there are not, it may not be worth it.

CLEAR may be a wonderful addition to your toolbox to help you move quicker in your travels. To help you with your ground transportation when you’re traveling, make sure to download our free app, Hoyt-to-Go. You can quickly book, change, check and manage all your car service needs on your phone. To download the app, go to your app store or visit https://www.hoytlivery.com/services/app/.

Source: Clark.com

What to Know If You’re Traveling During the Coronavirus Outbreak

As of February 7, more than 31,500 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed around the world.

Starting in Wuhan, China, the virus has rampantly spread to other parts of Asia, Europe and the U.S leading to more than 600 deaths.

As a result, flights and cruises have cancelled their routes and cities are under quarantine. Here is everything you need to know about traveling while coronavirus spreads, courtesy of Travelandleisure.com.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a specific strain of coronavirus called 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. It was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others that circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats,” according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). And 2019-nCoV is the most recent “novel” version found.

Both Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are caused by a coronavirus, but not the strain that’s currently circulating.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The first symptoms of coronavirus feel a lot like the flu. “You’ll get a fever, cough — it’s primarily a lower respiratory virus — general malaise, there may be some gastrointestinal distress,” Dr. Rebecca Katz, a professor and the director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University, recently told Travel + Leisure. When complications of the virus occur, patients could develop pneumonia or kidney-related issues, which could lead to death.

What should you do to prevent coronavirus?

You can protect yourself from catching coronavirus the same way you’d protect yourself from catching any other virus. Wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and be sure to thoroughly cook all meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with people you may see coughing or sneezing.

Which countries are impacted by coronavirus?

As the virus has affected the world, professors from Johns Hopkins University have developed a real-time map to track confirmed cases of coronavirus as it spreads.

Conditions in Wuhan, where the virus was first detected were likened to a wartime scenario this week. The city has been completely quarantined from the rest of China, with transportation links cut. Streets and shelves are empty as residents are urged to go outside only for essential supplies. There have also been two makeshift hospitals put in place to accommodate all patients.

While museums are closed until further notice, China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration has put much of its collection online for visitors to peruse.

The region of Macau has completely shut down for two weeks and none of its famous casinos will be open.

The doctor who first discovered this straint of coronavirus and alerted authorities, Li Wenliang, has died at age 34 of the disease. China has launched an investigation into his death and as to why according to a statement released by the official Xinhua news agency.

Taiwan announced Thursday it would no longer process online or landing visas for citizens of Hong Kong or Macau. The suspension will continue indefinitely.

In Japan, a total of 25 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed. It is the most affected country outside of China; however, no deaths have been reported. Japan’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has been laxer than other countries. Tokyo has only imposed an entry ban for travelers who have been to the Hubei Province within the last 14 days or those who have a passport issued from Hubei. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was adamant that the outbreak will not affect the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this summer.

The other most affected Asian countries are, in order, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea.

Australia closed its borders to foreign arrivals who have been in China within the past 14 days. Australians who are arriving home from China are being met with additional health screenings. There have been 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia.

Australia flew out 243 citizens who wished to leave Wuhan and transferred them to quarantine on Christmas Island in an immigration detention center, according to the New York Times.

The U.S. has confirmed a total of 12 coronavirus cases since the outbreak The borders have been closed to anyone who has been in China within the last 14 days. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now requires airlines to ask passengers on inbound flights if they have visited mainland China in the past 14 days.

If they have, they are rerouted to screening centers at one of several airports around the country, including New York JFK and Los Angeles International. If passengers show no symptoms during their enhanced screening, they are rebooked to their final destination — although they are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

How are airlines responding?

Airlines around the world have halted service to mainland China amid warnings from the World Health Organization.

In a statement, Lufthansa Group (including Austrian Airlines and SWISS) said they will not accept new bookings to China through the end of February, however the airlines will continue to operate flights to Hong Kong. British Airways announced an “immediate” suspension of flights to mainland China. Reuters reported that there are no flights available to China with the airline through the end of February. Air Canada has also temporarily suspended flights to Beijing and Shanghai.

United, American and Delta have all suspended their service to China, citing low demand. The longest of these cancellations is with Delta, who have suspended mainland China service until April 30.

All airlines will continue to monitor the situation and could change their schedules should there be any change in the situation in China. Many airlines are still operating flights to Hong Kong. Travelers should contact their airline directly for more information.

Airlines are also looking out for their employees as flight attendants on Cathay Pacific were first told to wear masks while working and have now been asked to take three weeks of unpaid leave between March 1 and the end of June, due to a “significant” drop in demand for flights.

Thai Airways is practicing extreme precautions as they are spraying down cabins with a disinfectant after each flight.

How are cruises responding?

While cruise lines have released their own safety in how they’re handling the outbreak, isolated incidents have occurred on various ships.

At the time of this writing, at least 61 passengers on a Japanese cruise ship have been diagnosed with coronavirus. The ship was initially quarantined when an 80-year-old passenger boarded in the Japanese port of Yokohama after having been diagnosed. Sickened passengers have been transported to a hospital on the mainland for treatment.

A ship in Italy couldn’t offload passengers last week for fear that two of them had contracted the virus.

On Friday, February 7, a Royal Caribbean cruise docked in Bayonne, N.J. — 20 miles away New York City — with passengers that will be assessed for coronavirus as they deboard. Four passengers have been sent to the hospital, according to NorthJersey.com.

Should I cancel my trip because of the coronavirus outbreak?

Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department issued a Level 4 — its highest level — warning, notifying Americans not to travel to China. The CDC also issued a warning against all nonessential travel to China. However, this does not include Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan.

The State Department hasn’t issued any health-related travel advisories against any other Asian countries.

To ensure any upcoming travel plans, calling your hotel and airline directly as well as monitoring updates and alerts will give you the current information.

Source: https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-tips/travel-warnings/coronavirus-china-travel-alerts-what-to-know

Top Travel Apps for 2020

If you plan on traveling in 2020, you can make the process easier and safer by using a good travel app on your smartphone.

Travel apps have become an essential part of helping travelers do everything from booking accommodations to managing their itineraries. But there are thousands of apps for travel on the market and it can be confusing deciding which ones to download.

Here’s a shortlist of the best for 2020, according to planetd.com. Most can be found on the Apple and Google Play App Stores.

TripWise by Allianz

Travel safety is an utmost priority today, so Allianz Global Assistance has taken the guesswork out of travel safety and developed the TripWise App to complement your travel insurance. The app will help you navigate emergencies when traveling.

Features include:

  • Country information – Real-time updates regarding travel alerts, security information, and emergency service numbers (i.e.: 911) of the country you’re visiting.
  • Hospital search – Uses GPS to find an Allianz accredited hospital at your destination.
  • Flight search – Tracks flights within three days for delays and cancelations.
  • Rx and first aid terms – Easy to use medical dictionary to help with deciphering internationally recognized prescription medications. It also translates first aid terms to more than 15 languages.

TripIt Free and Pro

TripIt is a free travel organizer to help with all your upcoming travel itineraries. It keeps all your travel details including flights, hotels and rental car bookings in one place which truly makes life easier when traveling through airports.

When you link your email address to TripIt, it automatically imports all travel plans from your inbox. TripIt stores all your confirmation numbers, contact information, and reservations in one handy itinerary. You’ll even get email alerts about upcoming travel plans.

The Pro version of TripIt offers:

  • Real time updates for flight delays and gate changes.
  • Seat Tracker: Lets you know if a better seat becomes available.
  • Point Tracker: Keeps track of your reward programs for you.
  • International travel tools such as what language, currency exchange and even electricity sockets and plugs to use at your destination.

You can also set an alert for what time to leave your home or hotel for the airport. TripIt lets you know how early you should be at the airport and how long you’ll need to get there. It even gives you your baggage claim details. Cost for the Pro version is $49/year.

Priority Pass

If you fly a lot, you know how important a break from the noise and chaos at the airport can be. When flying business class or when travelers have status with an airline, lounge access is one of the perks.

Priority Pass gives you access to 1300 airport lounges around the world and the app helps you find where they are and what terminal to find them in. Some users have noticed that Priority Pass lounges are often better than the regular airline lounges.

The cost for Priority Pass varies: Standard packages start at $99, but you’ll have to pay $32 per visit. For $299, you get 10 free visits and $429 unlimited free visits. Side note: American Express Platinum Card members get Priority Pass included with their fee.

LoungeBuddy

If you don’t want to pay the annual fee for Priority Pass or the cost of an American Express Platinum Card membership, the Lounge Buddy app is a great option. LoungeBuddy lets you know what lounges you can access and for how much if you do not have a membership to a lounge. It gives the rates and you can even book up to two months in advance. LoungeBuddy lets you know about Priority Pass and Star Alliance too. The LoungeBuddy app is free and you can buy access to a lounge for as low as $25, depending on the location.

Hopper

Hopper is a free app that keeps an eye on air fares and hotel rates and gives price predictions for upcoming bookings. That way, you can determine if you should buy now or wait for better deals.

HotelTonight

For last-minute hotel stays, the free HotelTonight app finds empty rooms and offers discounts to travelers needing to book immediately. Hotels would rather sell a night at a discounted rate than leave a room empty. So if you are flexible and willing to take a chance, this may be a great option.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

What is STEP?

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Doing so allows you to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, so you can make informed decisions about your travel plans.

It also helps the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency and will enable family and friends to get in touch with you in an emergency.

Sign up at https://step.state.gov/step/

Source: theplanetd.com

How to Be Winter Road-Trip-Ready

With winter here, it’s time to review what to do to make sure your vehicle can handle the cold temperatures and icy and slushy roads, and how to keep you and your family safe during the winter months.

Check the tire pressure and consider snow tires.
Tire pressure is especially important during the winter, as a properly inflated tire will help guarantee better traction in wet, snowy conditions. Make sure to read your owner’s manual to find the correct tire pressure. In addition, you may want to consider buying a set of snow tires, especially if you live in an area that sees a lot of snow. They’ll do a much better job than the all-weather tires fitted to most cars.

Did you add cold-weather oil?
When the outside temperature changes, it will influence the internal temperature of your engine, so make sure you’re using the proper oil for the conditions. Since we live where temperatures get below freezing, you will want to switch over to thinner, less viscous oil. For instance, if you run 10W-40 grade oil in the summer, you may want to move to 5W-30 when changing your oil for the winter. Make sure to refer to your owner’s manual for vehicle-specific information.

Have your battery tested again.
A car battery can die without any notice. The late-season extreme cold temperatures can reduce a car’s battery life by up to 50 percent. Even if you had your battery tested earlier this winter, have your battery tested again by your local mechanic — especially if you have an older car. Also, make sure your battery connections are free of corrosion.

Inspect your windshield wiper blades and fluid.
Visibility while driving during winter months can be a great frustration. Precipitation and salt buildup on the windshield can play havoc while driving in winter weather. So, make sure to not only check the condition of your windshield wiper blades, but also consider changing your existing blades to versions that are made for the harsh winter weather. Also check and fill your wiper fluid reservoir. A harsh winter storm is the worst possible time to run out of wiper fluid.

Make sure the engine coolant has a cold-weather mixture.
A car’s coolant system is not only designed to keep your engine from overheating, but it’s also responsible for protecting it against corrosion. Before the weather gets too cold, make sure you are using coolant that has the proper mix of antifreeze and water. You can do this by purchasing a tester at your local auto parts store.

Keep an emergency kit in your car.
If you don’t already have an emergency kit in your car, consider putting together a few basics and stowing them in the trunk. Naturally, you’ll want to be sure your spare tire is in good shape with all the tools to change it out. If you find yourself stuck or stranded in your car during the winter months, be sure to have the following emergency items on hand:

  • A flashlight, flares and first aid kit
  • A blanket, warm clothes and gloves
  • A radio
  • A bag of abrasive material like sand or kitty litter for when your tires get stuck in snow or ice
  • Extra windshield washer fluid
  • A brush or ice scraper
  • Extra coolant

When you take the time to plan ahead, you can make winterizing your vehicle an easy, annual ritual that will help keep you and your family safe on the road.

A warning about warming up your car!

Next time you have to shovel your vehicle out from the snow, make sure your vehicle’s tailpipe is completely clear of snow before turning it on. If an exhaust pipe is blocked by snow while a car idles, it can produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide inside the car that could lead to death. Every year, tragedy strikes as a result of exposure to this odorless, colorless gas. People can pass out within minutes and can suffer brain damage, or even death from CO inhalation.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include confusion with shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, light headedness or headaches. So again, make sure the exhaust pipe of a vehicle is completely clear of snow and ice before turning it on, and that there are no occupants in the car until the snow is cleared off.

Also, a recent Good Morning America segment revealed an increase in vehicle thefts across the country of unlocked cars warming up without their owners in it. Police call these vehicles “puffers,” and car thieves call them easy pickings. So, think twice before you leave your vehicle unlocked, unattended and running — it might not be there when you go back outside!

When the weather is especially treacherous but you need to get to your destination, remember Hoyt Livery has the answer. With a fleet that includes sturdy 4-wheel luxury vehicles, Hoyt Livery will get you there safely and in style.

Sources: DMV.org, About.com, Edmunds.com

Laguardia Terminal Upgrades Continue

Delta Air Lines new Terminal C is opening at LaGuardia Airport (LGA), part of an $8 billion renovation that’s pushing the entire airport closer to Grand Central Parkway.

“We had to do it—we are better than what LaGuardia is,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the recent opening celebration, referencing former US Vice President Joe Biden’s 2015 description of LGA as a third-world country.

As a result of both Biden’s brutal honesty and Cuomo’s vision, LGA—known for its threadbare atmosphere, constant delays, never-ending construction and all-round inefficiency—is undergoing a $8 billion overhaul.

First phase of Delta overhaul

The Delta concourse, more than two years in the making, is the first phase of the airline’s new $3.9 billion terminal at the airport. What began in August 2017 is slated to be finished by 2026, according to Ryan Marzullo, the airline’s managing director of corporate real estate in New York. In all, says Marzullo, the project includes four concourses connected to a headhouse, the central part of the terminal where passengers check in and go through security.

Delta is spending around $3.3 billion for the redesign, while the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is contributing a large amount as well—about $600 million.

Remake of Terminals C and D

The terminal is only one part of a massive renovation that’s pushing the entire airport closer to Grand Central Parkway. Delta is just one phase of the renovation, and not the first one either. That designation belongs to United’s new concourse B, which opened in December 2018.

The seven-gate concourse sits on the water on the eastern side of LaGuardia and boasts dramatic views of Citi Field, home of the Mets. But the new concourse has more amenities than pretty panoramas, including a nursing room and a relief room for dogs, who are increasingly popular travel companions.

In addition, all of the seats at the spacious gate areas are equipped with electrical outlets, an essential item for the modern traveler. A given at most major airports around the world, for LGA, it’s a noteworthy advancement.

Also, there’s dining.

To up LaGuardia’s dining offerings, Delta has teamed with the airport hospitality group OTG, its current partner in Terminal C and D, on five concepts including beloved New York cult brands Birch Coffee, H&H Bagels and Juice Press.

Chef Mark Iacano of Brooklyn’s legendary pizza joint Lucali, consulted on Rossi Pizzeria, a Neopolitan-style pizza spot. New Yorkers not keen on waiting hours to get a table at Lucali can queue up at Rossi for a similar taste and decidedly less hassle.

Chefs Jess Shadbolt and Clare de Boer of Soho’s King Restaurant consulted on Flatiron Tavern & Provisions’ menu of burgers, fish and chops.

“I’m encouraged to see the old terminals finally being replaced,” says Larry Studdiford, the founder of Studdiford Technical Solutions, an airport security and baggage systems consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia. “It’s time to upgrade the facilities with amenities and operational technologies that meet the demands of record growth in passenger numbers.”

LaGuardia’s upgrades continue to cause delays at any time of the day because Port Authority can decide to setup blockades to prevent vehicles from entering the arrival area. If you’re traveling from LaGuardia with Hoyt Livery, to help alleviate this situation, please communicate with your driver upon receiving a message and if you don’t hear anything to please reach out to dispatch. Learn more.

Source: cnn.com

Important Notice About LaGuardia Airport

We are asking our customers to remain patient when flying in and out of LaGuardia Airport.

You may not be aware that the Port Authority, at any time of the day, can decide to set up blockades to prevent vehicles from entering the arrival area. 

To help alleviate this situation, we are suggesting that customers communicate with their driver upon receiving a message and if they don’t hear anything to please reach out to dispatch.

We ask for your patience and understanding while we all cope with this inconvenience. 

Feel free to contact us at (203) 966-5466 with any questions and or concerns. You are important to us and we truly value your business.

Holiday Travel Survey 2019

With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, how are your fellow air travelers finding the best deals? Learn this and other travel insights from a new Offers.com survey.

Holiday travel increasing

According to AAA, in 2018 more than 50 million planned to travel more than 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving, an increase of about 5 percent year over year. And more than 100 million planned to travel for Christmas and New Year’s, an increase of about 4 percent over the year prior.

To find out more about air travelers in 2019, Offers.com surveyed more than 5,000 U.S. adults who are planning to travel between November 1, 2019, and March 30, 2020 via Google surveys. They asked respondents when they plan to travel, whether they’ve booked yet and how they prefer to shop for travel deals.

Among their findings

  • November is the biggest travel month for those who have already booked travel, but December is the biggest month for those who haven’t booked yet.
  • Half of holiday travelers booked their travel by October 1.
  • Most holiday and early 2020 travelers don’t plan to take advantage of Cyber Week travel deals.
  • 80 percent of holiday travelers plan to stay in the U.S.
  • 29 percent of Americans plan to travel from November to March.
  • Of those, 54 percent have already booked by October 1.

When travelers are traveling

Thanks to Thanksgiving, one-third—and the biggest contingent—of holiday travelers will hit the road or the skies in November. December is close behind:

November – 33%

December – 26%

January – 12%

February – 13%

March – 17%

Looking for deals?

There are some great travel deals to be had on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, most of those traveling for the holidays and early in the new year won’t be taking advantage of them.

Yes – 11%

No – 69%

I’m not sure – 20%

Among those who will shop travel deals during Cyber Week, they’re booking winter and early-spring getaways. Among those who might/will shop deals during Cyber Week, these are the months they are looking to book:

November – 14%

December – 24%

January – 18%

February – 20%

March – 25%

A note to Cyber Week travel shoppers: Travel deals on these days tend to be very date- and destination-specific. That can make it hard for those traveling during specific dates, but good for those who want a spontaneous getaway.

Online booking/comparison sites are top sources

Those looking for travel deals gravitate toward sites where they can easily see and compare all their options. The survey results show:

Booking sites (Hotwire, Trivago, Expedia) – 30%

Flight search sites (Google, Skyscanner) – 26%

Price-comparison engines (Kayak, Priceline) – 17%

Review sites or forums (e.g. TripAdvisor) – 13%

Airline websites – 4%

Travel agent – 1%

Other – 9%

All three of the top options are aggregators in some form. And travelers’ preferences for these types of sites are clear from the results. In fact, today it’s extremely rare that travelers turn to travel agents or specific airlines’ sites for deals.

Even though consumers’ deal-hunting behavior suggests they’re not loyal to any single airline or hotel, most of them do have travel loyalty accounts (either frequent flier accounts or hotel rewards accounts).

Friends suggest travel destinations

When it comes to choosing a destination, more than half of travelers say they turn to people they know for advice.

Recommendations from friends or relatives – 54%

Price comparison sites (e.g. Kayak) – 18%

Social media feeds (Pinterest, Instagram) – 11%

Travel lifestyle magazines or blogs – 10%

Travel/lifestyle influencers and bloggers – 9%

Travel agent – 8%

Most plan to travel domestically — and with family

For many, “home for the holidays” means staying stateside. The vast majority (80 percent) of U.S. travelers will travel within the U.S. over the holiday season, through spring break.

Because the holidays are such a family-oriented time, it’s no surprise that more than 70 percent of travelers will be traveling with family members.

Who traveling with?

With adult family members – 50%

With children – 21%

With friends – 20%

I’ll be traveling alone – 19%

With my pets – 6%

Hotels and motels are top accommodations choice

Whether because staying with family is just a bit to close for comfort, or because holiday travelers are visiting new places (instead of relatives), hotels, motels and inns are the top choice for holiday accommodations, by far:

Hotels, motels or inns – 45%

Staying with a relative or friend – 25%

House rentals (e.g. Airbnb) – 14%

Cruise or train – 7%

Camping or recreational vehicle (RV) – 4%

Other 5%

Food is the top expense for holiday travelers

Besides transportation and accommodations, food is the biggest line item in travelers’ budgets over the holidays. Still, more than one-fourth say they’ll spend money on entertainment, car rentals and souvenirs during their travels.

When you’re booking your holiday travel, let Hoyt Livery help you with all of your ground transportation at home and at your destination. We’ll get you to and from home, and all around more than 450 destinations in the U.S. and Canada. Contact us today.

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