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

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.

Source: https://www.offers.com/blog/post/holiday-travel-survey/

JFK Installs Facial Recognition for Boarding

In true sci-fi style, you’ll be able to use your face to board a plane. In other words, passengers will have access to ticketless boarding by using facial scanning.

In early October, a biometric self-boarding gate was installed at Lufthansa’s Terminal 1 gate at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport’s (JFK). Here are the details, courtesy of the New York Post.

Lufthansa has deployed the paperless, high-tech boarding process, which uses facial recognition technology to verify travelers with a photo capture, at its largest U.S. gateway at the Queens airport. Air France, Japan Airlines and Norwegian Airlines are expected to follow suit at the terminal, officials said.

The technology firm Vision Box has partnered with Customs and Border Protection on facial screening or “biometric boarding” technology, which officials say is faster and more secure, but has privacy advocates expressing concerns.

How it works

The digital boarding process validates the eligibility of a traveler without having to present a passport or boarding pass. When a passenger approaches a self-boarding gate, a biometric-enabled camera integrated in the gate captures the passenger’s facial image. That image is then securely sent to US Customs’ Traveler Verification Service, which “conducts a matching process with the stored digital facial token captured at the initial immigration process or from the US passport,” according to Vision-Box.

Within seconds, the system reconciles the passenger identity and his or her eligibility to enter the flight. The positive match of both verifications triggers the eGate doors to open and the passenger can board the airplane.

It’s not the first time biometric boarding has been used at JFK Airport. Last year, JetBlue rolled out its first biometric self-boarding gate for customers flying to select international destinations at JFK Airport’s Terminal 5. A slew of US airports already offers biometric boarding.

“It’s become crucial for airports and airlines to adopt biometric capabilities along the processes which require interaction with the traveler, therefore enhancing and scaling operational capacity for growing quicker within their existing footprint,” said Miguel Leitmann, the CEO and founder of Vision-Box, which brought the new boarding method to Terminal 1 through a partnership with US Customs and Border Protection and Terminal One Group Association.

New technology raises questions

Experts from the American Civil Liberties Union say that despite the technology starting to roll out at more airports nationwide, many questions remain unanswered.

“How is this information going to be collected? How long will it be retained? Will it be used in other ways and shared with federal agencies like the FBI?” said Neema Singh Guliani, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU.

Customs and Border Protection officials say that the biometric data of U.S. travelers is not stored for long periods of time.

Connected aircraft coming soon

The new technology comes amidst the news that Airbus is experimenting with a new “connected” airplane that would track everything people do on a plane, including how often passengers use the bathroom. Executives think this is the cabin of the future, full of sensors that collect data on the on-board habits of its passengers.

In early September, Airbus commenced in-flight trials of IoT (Internet of Things) connected cabin technologies on board an A350-900 Flight Lab aircraft. In doing so, Airbus becomes the first aircraft manufacturer to undertake such flight-testing of actual connected cabin innovations. The platform, known as the Airspace Connected Experience, was unveiled at APEX Expo last year. While it has yet to be introduced to real passengers, the technology will usher in a new personalized experience for passengers, in particular this covers pre- and remote ordering of preferred meals, booking of private bin space, setting of individual seat positions as well as a tailor-made inflight entertainment (IFE) offer.

The goal is to gather data on passenger behavior and consumption on board, information that could save airlines money and relieve pain points on board for passengers such as the mad scramble for overhead bin space and lavatory queues.

Source: New York Post

Connecticut Halloween Events Calendar

Looking for some spooky Halloween fun this October? Check out our list of Fairfield County activities from haunted attractions and hayrides to graveyard tours and family Halloween events. Events are in chronological order, courtesy of damnedct.com.

Be sure to call ahead and check on any event you plan on attending as sometimes events will be canceled at the last minute, especially outdoor events that depend on good weather.

Legends of Fear
September 28 – November 2 (weekends); 7-10 pm
Fairview Tree Farm, 2 Saw Mill City Rd., Shelton
203.944.9090
Admission: The Hallow $25; haunted hayride $26; combo ticket $48
legendsoffear.com
More info: Try your luck at The Hallow, which includes four attractions: the Melonhead Revenge Trail (a one-mile haunted trek), Pine Hills Parish, The Dark Harvest, or the all-new Hemlock Manor Mortuary. Or visit the haunted hayride, which offers 1.5 miles in the dark with fifty creatures of the night waiting for you! Plus, a full concession with hot dogs, hot popcorn, candy, soda, hot chocolate and more.

Fright Haven
September 27 – November 3; Thursdays-Sundays (and October 31), 7-10 pm
411 Barnum Cutoff, Stratford Square, Stratford
203.799.3327
Admission: $20 in advance; VIP fast pass $39 in advance
frighthaven.com
More info: One of the state’s largest and scariest indoor haunted attractions is “back from the dead” with 20,000 square feet of scares, chills and thrills.

Virtual Reality Halloween Experiences
October 1-31; Tuesday-Sundays, times vary
Xperiment Virtual Reality, Hawley Lane Mall, Trumbull
203.502.8005
Admission: Prices start at $25 and vary by package and times
xperimentvr.com
More info: A unique haunted experience, available any evening in October. Walk through The Haunted Graveyard, Walk the plank, or enter The Manor if you dare! The Halloween themed games vary in scare level from mildly spooky to extreme scares.

Sherlock Holmes and the Haunted Cabaret
October 5 – November 3; Saturdays & Sundays, time vary by date
Downtown Cabaret Theater, 263 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport
203.576.1636
Admission: $19.75-$25
dtcab.com
More info: It’s a choose-your-own children’s mystery! Sherlock Holmes and his faithful sidekick, Watson, need your help to solve the mystery of the haunted cabaret. Put on your detective hats because this fun and innovative new whodunit asks the audience to decide what Sherlock and company need to do to crack the case.

Spooktober
October 5 – 26; events throughout the month
Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place, Westport
203.222.1424
Admission: Prices vary by event
westporthistory.org/spooktober
More info: Spooktober offers multiple Halloween-themed event throughout the month, including: Oct. 5—Family Creep Fest!; Oct. 9—Mr. Washington Irving’s reading of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Oct. 12—10th annual “Illuminating the Past” lantern tour; Oct. 20—Westport Sanitarium walking tour; and Oct. 26—Night at the Haunted Historical Society.

A Haunting at Mill Hill
October 18 & 19, 25 & 26; tours at 6, 7:30 & 9 pm
Mill Hill Historic Park, 2 East Wall St., Norwalk
203.846.0525
Admission: $15 – $20 (reservations recommended)
norwalkhistoricalsociety.org
More info: Among the crooked gravestones of Mill Hill, ghostly entities are waiting to share their true stories of death, murder, insanity and destruction.  A murderous train conductor, a heroic soldier from the Battle of Norwalk, and a young girl who perished on the trolley tracks at Mill Hill are some of the ghosts you will encounter along the way!

Haunted Victorian Ghost Stories at the Mansion
October 18-27; Friday-Sunday nights, 5:30-8 pm
Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, 295 West Ave., Norwalk
203.838.9799
Admission: $10
lockwoodmathewsmansion.com
More info: In keeping with the Victorian fascination with unexplained phenomena, the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum’s Halloween tours will focus on ghost sightings as they relate to the house during the 19th century as well as its more recent history, and the compelling ghost stories that are part of Connecticut’s legends. Visitors may run into the Mansion’s ghosts, who are haunted by the darker memories that are part of the rarely told history of the Lockwood and Mathews families.

Great Pumpkin Festival
October 19; 1 -5 pm
Boothe Memorial Park, 5774 Main St. Putney, Stratford
203.377.2119
Admission: Free
boothememorialpark.org
More info: Events include a children’s costume parade (3:00 sharp) with prizes, DJ music, games, crafts, face painting, refreshments, pie baking contest, scarecrow judging contest, 4 Moonbounces, horse-drawn hayrides, roaming railroad, and the opening of the various historic buildings at the park, plus tours of the Model Train Museum and Observatory.

An Evening with Annabelle
October 26
Location TBA
Admission: $169
warrens.net
More info: Dig into the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren with their son-in-law Tony Spera. The evening includes a lecture, a peek into the case files, a buffet dinner and getting to the actual Annabelle doll that inspired the movies.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
October 25; 8 pm
Palace Theatre, 165 Main St., Danbury
203.794.9944
Admission: $15; props package $5
thepalacedanbury.com
More info: Get ready to do the Time Warp again when The Rocky Horror Picture Show returns to Danbury’s historic Palace Theatre. Audience members are encouraged to dress as their favorite character, throw props during the film, and be ready to yell back lines of dialogue as part of the audience partici-(SAY IT!)-pation. To make participation easier, prop packages which include everything you need to join in the fun can be pre-ordered when ordering tickets.

Legends and Hauntings Tour
October 25 & 26; 4 & 6 pm
Fairfield Museum and History Center, 370 Beach Rd., Fairfield
203.259.1598
Admission: $10 – $15
fairfieldhistory.org
More info: Get chilled to the bone listening to haunting legends, superstitions, and local folklore as night descends. Did body snatching happen in the cemetery? Are there ghosts in Sun Tavern? Did witches really live here? Find out tonight! Attendees are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes! Please register early, as this popular event does fill up quickly. Please bring a flashlight!

 Halloween on the Green
October 27; Noon – 4 pm
Fairfield Museum and History Center, 370 Beach Rd., Fairfield
203.259.1598
Admission: Free
fairfieldhistory.org
More info: This family event will feature trick-or-treating, giveaways, displays in the historic buildings, a Food Truck Alley, a bounce house and other kid-friendly games. A Costume Parade presented by the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce will take place at 1 pm.

Source: damnedct.com

Air Travelers: Get Ready for Real ID October 2020

Newsflash: If you travel by air, beginning October 1, 2020, you will need a Real ID-compliant license or another acceptable form of ID, such as a valid passport or U.S. military ID, to fly within the U.S.

Here’s what you need to know, courtesy of TSA and Travel Weekly.

What is Real ID?

Real ID is the new federal requirement for state-issued driver licenses and non-driver IDs to help prevent fraudulent identification. You are not required to get a REAL ID. However, starting October 1, 2020, if you typically use your driver license or non-driver ID (instead of a passport or other form of ID) to fly within the U.S. you probably want a REAL ID. Otherwise you will need to use a valid U.S. passport or another federally approved form of identification. A standard state driver’s license can still be used for driving.

The Real ID Act passed in 2005 (in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks) that set new and higher minimum-security standards for the driver’s licenses and identification cards that will be accepted at airports, other federally regulated facilities and nuclear power plants.

State-issued Real ID driver’s licenses and identification cards meet increased security standards established by the Real ID Act of 2005. The law establishes what data states must have before issuing a license. It also lays out what technology must be encoded in the IDs and what data must be printed on the IDs.

There has been some debate and pushback from some states over the impact of Real ID, which has created confusion and delayed the official rollout of the act’s enforcement, but October 1, 2020, is now considered the firm date for enforcement at commercial airports.

Starting October 1, 2020, travelers who don’t have Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses or a state-issued enhanced driver’s license can use other acceptable forms of identification such as a passport or U.S. military identification to fly within the United States.

What to do now

Take a look at your driver’s license. If your driver’s license doesn’t have a star in the upper corner of the card, then your license is not Real ID compliant. And if you’re planning to take a domestic commercial flight any time after October 1, 2020, you’ll need to take action, make some decisions or wait for your state to get its act together.

You can decide if you are comfortable flying domestically with your passport (if you have one; only about 40 percent of Americans do) or with one of the other forms of approved identification on the TSA’s list.

“The main pushback on REAL ID is that it’s too Big Brother,” said Jeff Price, an aviation security expert with Leading Edge Strategies. “It’s a move to make everyone in the U.S. have identification, which tends to upset those who enjoy life off the grid or don’t like any more government intrusion into their lives than what is necessary.”

However, nearly every state has come into compliance. “And there haven’t been the big brother/illegal shakedown issues that some people predicted,” he said.

How to get a Real ID

The Department of Homeland Security has been phasing in enforcement of the Real ID Act in an effort to give states time to become compliant with the rules and to begin issuing enhanced driver’s licenses and ID cards in time for the October 1, 2020 deadline.

Most states are currently in compliance — including Connecticut and New York — with the Real ID Act and are able to issue upgraded licenses and IDs. The DHS website has a map with the status of all the states.

Three states (Oregon, Oklahoma, and New Jersey), plus American Samoa have been granted extensions with varying deadlines for meeting the rules. (Some had until August 1, 2019, while others have until October 10, 2019).

What this means

If your current driver’s license or ID card is from a compliant state, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will accept it at airports until September 30, 2020. Starting October 1, 2020, though, licenses and IDs from these states will need to bear a star or special symbol that shows it has been upgraded to conform to the new minimum-security standards.

If your current license is from one of the three states that has been given an extension, then it’s good until the date the extension expires. After that, if the state isn’t given another extension, is it possible the TSA will require an additional or alternate form of ID (i.e., a passport) between the extension expiration date and September 30, 2020.

Come Oct. 1, 2020, though, licenses from these extension states will also need to have the star or symbol that shows it has been upgraded to meet the new minimum-security standards.

The TSA has begun verbally advising travelers who use identification that’s not Real ID-compliant that they’ll not be able to use it to fly beginning October 1, 2020.

“Real ID implementation is a little more than a year away — now is the time to prepare,” said TSA acting deputy administrator Patricia Cogswell in a statement. Since April, TSA has displayed signs at airports to remind travelers about the Real ID requirements.

Source: Travel Weekly

JFK Airport Number One in Amenities, Recent Survey

Best-in-the-nation amenities helped New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport achieve a better-than-average ranking in a new study of the nation’s 50 busiest airports.

Here are the interesting results of the study, courtesy of airportnews.com.

John F. Kennedy International Airport earned the surprising score in a new study by The Points Guy, a resource for travel news. JFK’s No. 1 ranking in amenities helped place it No. 22 overall among the nation’s 50 busiest airports. Other studies have routinely judged JFK among the worst among major U.S. airports, with nearby LaGuardia Airport typically ranked lower if not last.

The study took 34 factors into account, including commute time, flight delays and cancellations, ride-hailing prices, restaurants, lounges and security wait times.

Offsetting JFK’s high finish in amenities was its long commute time (No. 49) and third-worst record for on-time flights. The three local airports accounted for the bottom three rankings in both commute time and flight delays, largely because of congested airspace and roadways and no one-seat train ride to Manhattan.

Newark Liberty International Airport had the nation’s worst commute time and on-time flight record, though it did finish fourth in amenities, pushing its overall ranking to 34th out of 50.

LaGuardia’s ranking (No. 45) was dragged down by its third-worst commute time and second-worst on-time flight record. It was No. 12 in amenities. Major construction is underway at the Flushing airport, and an AirTrain link to Willets Point is in the works, although that multibillion-dollar project is not expected to shorten the trip to Manhattan much.

A spokesman for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operates JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports, said in a statement, “With an unprecedented $30 billion committed to transform our region’s airports into true 21st-century gateways—and a relentless focus on improving the customer experience—we’re committed to taking the region’s airports from the back of the pack to world-class.”

Among the 50 U.S. airports with the highest passenger volume, San Diego International Airport was ranked best overall, followed by airports in Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), Atlanta and Sacramento.

Chicago-Midway was judged the worst overall, followed by airports in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Detroit.

Source: AirportNews.com

Glamorous Camping: New York State’s Best Glamping

You may have heard of “glamping,” which takes one of life’s simple pleasures—sleeping in the great outdoors—and elevates it with creature comforts and modern conveniences.

There’s no tent to set up, no hard rocks underneath your sleeping bag, and no outhouses.

Here are some of New York State’s best glamping locations and experiences, courtesy of iloveny.com.

Get off the grid at Gatherwild Ranch (Hudson Valley)

Sometimes you want to go where you can’t hear car horns and shouting, where you leave your phone off and feel like a human again. The Gatherwild Ranch outside the city of Hudson is just the balm for busy citygoers. Just like the resident free-range chickens, guests are invited to roam freely around the 15 acres of land. Gatherwild Ranch even offers facials and full-body massages to deepen your state of relaxation. As for where you’ll lay your head, choose between four unique yurts and one tepee. All are cozy and chic and enjoy a fair amount of private space on the grounds. When you’re ready to venture out again, explore the nearby town of Hudson’s charming antique shops, delicious farm-to-table restaurants, and adorable boutiques.

Culture and camping at Saratoga Escape Glamping (Capital-Saratoga)

Just five miles away from Saratoga Springs, the Saratoga Escape Glamping experience offers comfortable camping combined with the charm of a culture-rich city. The resort has cabins, RV hookups, and tent campsites but in 2017 added glamping options: They now offer 300-square-foot tents with roll-up mesh screens providing ventilation through all four walls. Sleep in queen-size beds with fresh linens and bedding, and enjoy access to your own private grill, mini-fridge, chairs, firepit, and picnic table. Take a dip in the swimming pool, canoe or paddleboard on the lake, and take the little ones on a pony ride. You’re a quick drive from Saratoga Springs attractions, so you can catch a show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center or experience horse racing at the Saratoga Race Track!

The best of both worlds with Posh Primitive (Adirondacks)

Stretch your legs in one of Posh Primitive’s spacious canvas cabins built with massive log rafters. Each cabin has a queen-size bed on a timber wood platform, a covered porch, and a wood-burning stove for added coziness, though you can easily build a campfire outside, too. All meals are included and if you catch a fish in one of the nearby rivers and streams, they’ll even cook it up for you! Explore a number of nearby hiking trails and take advantage of Posh’s in-house guided nature tours, courtesy of Johnny Old School Guide Service. You’ll also be just a 40-minute drive from the Barton Garnet Mines, where you can take a fascinating tour through one of the world’s largest garnet deposits.

Nature and entertainment Darien Lake (Greater Niagara)

The Glamping at Darien Lake campground belongs to Six Flags Darien Lake Theme Park, New York State’s largest theme park and water park. This means you can wake up in a beautiful, rustic canvas cabin by the lake, then walk just five minutes to the theme park with more than 100 rides, water slides, splash pools, and more. They offer special “Stay & Play” packages to sweeten the deal. The park is also dog-friendly, but just a quick note to bring your own bedding and air mattresses if needed.

Cabin camping at Harmony Hill Retreat Center (Catskills)

The glamping at Harmony Hill in the Catskills is a cross between camping and a cabin stay. Here, your lodging is an adorable, elevated yurt, replete with electricity, flushable toilets, lockable doors, a king-size bed, reading chairs, lamps, and a fully equipped kitchen. You can also cook on the charcoal grill outdoors and in either case, enjoy your food out on your personal deck. Basically, want for nothing while still enjoying the peaceful calm of sleeping deep in the woods. Adding to your comfort and enjoyment, each yurt has a domed skylight and a ceiling fan, though the density of the trees keeps things pretty cool even in summer. Your yurt even comes with its own designated parking spot.

Goat yoga at Gilbertsville Farmhouse (Central)

This husband-and-wife-run establishment is a popular wedding destination thanks to the picturesque beauty of its rolling farmlands. The canvas cabins are spacious and luxuriously decorated, with rustic chandeliers, dressers, sofas, and more. There’s a communal bathhouse that feels more like a spa than a farm shower, and an outdoor firepit. And then, there’s goat yoga. Yes, goat yoga. In a beautiful sun-lit barn you’ll settle into downward dogs and child’s poses, all while adorable baby goats clamber all over you. It’s pure magic. Plus, you’ll be less than an hour’s drive from the amazing Brewery Ommegang, where you can take tours of their famous brewery and sip a flight of delicious craft beer to cool off after a warm summer’s day.

1000 Islands Campground (Thousand Islands-Seaway)

You can stay just a stone’s throw from the beautiful St. Lawrence River in one of two glamping tents—formerly used for Civil War reenactment! The tents are elevated on a wooden platform, and you can relax on your own porch. You’ll need to bring your typical camping gear, like sleeping bags and s’mores ingredients, but you’ll find a fire pit, a picnic table, water, and electricity ready and waiting for you. Plus, this one is a great spot to bring the kiddos because the campground includes several play areas, including a large wooden boat and a wooden castle. A fantasy camping trip for all.

Mountain Horse Farm B&B and Wellness Retreat (Finger Lakes)

One of the main goals of glamping is to reconnect with nature. The Mountain Horse Farm B&B and Wellness Retreat in the Finger Lakes takes this concept to the next level by offering therapeutic interactions with cows and mini-horses along with the opportunity to sleep comfortably outdoors. Their horse & cow experiences do not involve riding the animals, but peacefully petting them, cuddling them, and enjoying their calm energy. Come nighttime you’ll sleep in traditional Sioux Indian Tipis, handcrafted by artisans. Enjoy your privacy while being just a short walk to the lodge, where you can use the full bathroom, lounge room, TV room, wrap-around porch, and fridge. You’re also welcome to use the large outdoor fire pit and grill.

The Woods at Bear Creek (Chautauqua-Allegheny)

A bit of a departure from the canvas tents, the Woods at Bear Creek offer something a bit sturdier by way of their glamping cabins. Tucked amongst the forests and meadows on 750 acres of land, you’ll feel the joy of a kid at summer camp—but with all the comforts you’d want as an adult. Your cabin comes with its own campfire area and covered pavilion, two separate bedrooms, and full bath facilities. There’s even AC, internet, and Direct TV. Swing by the full-service restaurant for dinner, or cook something up over an open flame. Cool off in the Olympic-sized pool, hit up the basketball courts, or take a canoe, kayak, or paddle boat out onto the water. We think you’d agree, this is way better than summer camp.

Terra Glamping (Long Island)

The Hamptons are often associated with glamour, and the glamping here is no exception. Terra Glamping offers 30 canvas tents on the beach, just a ten-minute drive from the buzzing streets with restaurants and boutiques. You’ll wake up on your queen-size memory-foam mattress and pull back the flaps to gaze out over Sag Harbor and Shelter Island (all tents have water views!). Enjoy access to hot showers and flushing toilets, nightly campfires, a dining and grilling area, continental breakfast, and the complimentary use of kayaks and paddle boards. Owners Rebecca Martin and David Levine know that people seek out glamping in order to unplug, so the absence of wifi is an intentional decision. There is cell service, however, and they do provide flashlights, lanterns, and cell phone chargers.

Collective Retreats (New York City)

You can now revel in the joy of glamping in one of the most unexpected and delightful places—Governors Island, NYC! You’ll depart from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan on ferry and land on the lush green shores of the island. There are three types of accommodations to choose from. The Summit Tent and the Outlook Shelter are both more private, with their own bathrooms with hot running water, a luxury spa soaking tub(!), and a king bed. The Journey Tents are part of a more communal experience. They’re spaced slightly closer together and share a bathroom, but are still elegant and comfortable. No matter where you sleep, enjoy fresh continental breakfast at the Three Peaks Restaurant and a one-of-a-kind view of Lady Liberty across the harbor.

If you’re thinking of taking the family or group of friends on a glamping trip this fall, start out and end your experience right and let us do the driving! With Hoyt Livery’s luxury group vehicles, you’ll have room enough for everyone, plus all your gear!

Source: iloveny.com

How will hotel rates change in 2020?

Modest Hotel Rate Increases in 2020: American Express Global Business Travel

Business travelers won’t see a big jump in hotel rate increases globally in 2020, according to a Hotel Monitor 2020 report, published by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT). Here are the key findings, courtesy of writer Janeen Christoff and travelpulse.com.

The recent study found that a global boom in hotel construction has led to an increase in supply of hotels, at the same time that international trade tensions are dampening demand from travelers, restricting the ability for hotels to raise their rates.

“Despite signs that the global economy is facing challenges, the number of people traveling for business and leisure continues to grow,” says Joakim Johansson, Vice President, Global Business Consulting at GBT. “But, in most cities, a full hotel development pipeline means this sustained level of demand will not feed into big rate rises.”

Other emerging hotel trends—more tech, less formal

The Hotel Monitor 2020 also identified several key trends with hotels. Most importantly, technology’s ability to drive change within the hotel experience.

Johansson said: “For several years, GBT has been charting the rise of the modern business traveler, who wants a more informal, flexible and digitally smart environment to work and rest. Hotel providers, both big global groups and more local chains, are responding to this need with new hotel formats or serviced apartments. Hotels need to be ready to accommodate this emerging traveler preference.

In addition to tech advancements, shared working spaces and a less formal environment are driving the transformation of traditional business hotels with a focus on lifestyle enhancements.

U.S. hotel rates will remain flat while Canada predicted to rise

Flat occupancy rates and a full pipeline of room construction is driving competition and limiting the ability to raise rates.

Canada’s relatively strong economic performance and slowing capacity growth could lead to rate increases. Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto will see the biggest increase in room rates (5 percent, 4 percent, 4 percent respectively), according to the Hotel Monitor 2020 while guest room rates in New York are expected to decrease by 3 percent.

Hotels in Europe, Middle East and Africa

The Hotel Monitor found that, in Europe, there will be a small increase in price. Uncertainties about Brexit and low growth in Europe’s main business centers as well as the global economic outlook will likely take a toll on demand.

Hotel development in the region is also at a record high with Germany leading the way and the U.K. following closely behind. London will see a further 10,000 new rooms open in 2019 and 2020.

Concerns about political and economic uncertainty have negatively impacted business travel in Central and Latin America, says the Hotel Monitor 2020. However, prices are expected to rise as demand continues to outpace growth. Hotel construction has decreased 25 percent year over year.

In the Middle East and Africa, a hotel construction boom across the Middle East, but largely focused on the United Arab Emirates, means supply will outstrip demand and lead to forecasted falls of as much as 10 percent in Doha and 8 percent in Riyadh.

The hospitality industry is growing rapidly across the Asia Pacific, with thousands of additional beds in key cities every year. Despite a capacity increase, rates are still expected to rise between 4 and 5 percent.

If you’re seeking to lower your travel costs, join Hoyt Livery’s Marquis Rewards. You’ll receive a free ride to the airport with every 10 rides, and you don’t have to keep track. Start saving and join today!

Source: TravelPulse.com