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When it comes to international travel the most stressful part—at least to us—is trying to locate a stupid pen to fill out the arrival paperwork. Usually a fellow passenger or flight attendant has pity on us and loans us a Bic; however, the need for pen and paper might soon be a thing of the past.
Uncle Sam—through the United State Border Control—is rolling out some new technology in hopes of speeding up the border control process. Kiosks will soon be available to welcome passengers to—and back to—the United States, as paper forms are filed away forever. The first airports testing out the new procedures will be Vancouver International Airport and Chicago-O’Hare, so things won’t change overnight.
Travel Bans / Airport Security / Customs / US Travel / Passports / Lists / Airports / Travel Safety / Dangerous Travel / → All Tags
If you’re not happy with the souvenir options from the airport, there’s always thinking outside the box. Just be sure to watch where you shop, because some stuff that’s cool abroad isn’t as cool once you arrive at US Customs and Border Patrol. Here’s a list of some of the best stuff you just have to leave behind. Oh, and skip the bootleg purse or watch—those are banned too.
A couple from Seattle learned this the hard way recently, as they were detained at the border over their chocolate contraband. Kinder Eggs—popular pretty much everywhere but the US—aren’t allowed to be brought into the nifty fifty. Basically the issue is that the little toys inside the chocolate eggs are a choking hazard, and the FDA isn’t too cool with them because food with non-nutritive objects in it is a big fat nope. So for now keep your candy separate from your toys, and you’ll be okay.
Wander through an overseas liquor store and you might come across the green fairy, but just be sure that you consume what you need aboard—the real good stuff isn't looked kindly upon in the United States. Even though most absinthe isn’t the stuff of literary legend, anything with just the word "absinthe" on the label is questionable. According to Uncle Sam it’s also against the law to import any absinthe beverage especially if the label shows artwork or pictures hinting at hallucinogenic or mind-altering effects—bummer.
In the spring of 1941, the Union Pacific Railroad issued another of their full schedule booklets. The country was not yet at war, families were still heading off to vacation at National Parks and taking the train to reach them, and metal was for railroad tracks, not battleships. In the summer of 2012, the Union Pacific Railroad schedule booklet for spring 1941 fell into our hands, and we'd like to share a little bit of it with you now.
We've skipped past the timetables to focus directly on the ads that made up the final few pages, the ones advertising special services and upgrades.
You know what’s cool about flying to Canada—besides Tim Horton’s of course? It’s that you can take care of your customs clearance and border patrol shenanigans right up in Canada, so that when you land back at home in the nifty fifty you’re free to just depart the airport without any additional screenings or security checks. Well, it looks like the additional airport fun is expanding elsewhere sooner rather than later, so you just might need to arrive at the airport a little bit earlier on your next departure back to the USA.
Apparently the foreign screening is all part of Homeland Security’s plane to keep us safe, as the thinking is that American Customs and Border Protection will have a head start if they're checking stuff out before the bad guys even get here. Sure, that might be somewhat helpful on some level, but what we’re most interested in is simply the convenience.
Passports / Travel News / iPad / iPad 2 / Apple / Travel Tech / Canada Travel / US Travel / → All Tags
Whoa whoa whoa. We're not even a week into the new year and already stories of stupid travel happenings are hitting the news. The latest? Oh, just that some guy from Montreal managed to cross over the US border by producing not his physical passport, but a scan of his passport displayed on his iPad.
Look, we love iPads as much as (maybe more so?) the next tech-happy traveler, but we draw the line at two things: using the iPad as your main camera and using it as your primary form of ID. Martin Reisch violated the latter when he and his friends drove into Vermont and the border patrol okay-ed him.
Here's what went down, according to the CBC:
As if you didn't get enough of staying up past your bedtime during the New Year celebrations this past weekend, another event tonight may get you up and out in the dark. It's the Quadrantid Meteor Shower!
This celestial light show is the first of 2012, and best viewed from rural areas along the Eastern seaboard of the United States down to Georgia, starting from around 3am until dawn. That means no show for city folk, since you'll need to be somewhere without lights (even street lights, preferably) to view the sky dark enough. In other words, it's the perfect evening for some cold weather camping, if you can handle it.
What you're in for, however, will be awesome, according to ABC News:
The USA is pretty tech-advanced, right? We've got Apple, Silicon Valley, domestic airlines with fleetwide WiFi; it all sounds like America has it great...until you get to Europe and try to pay for anything with a credit card. Rejected! Why? Because Europe has fancier cards embedded with a computer chip, connected to a pin, which then don't get swiped, but inserted into machines to pay for things. These cardsappropriately named "chip-and-pin"are making things very difficult for US travelers.
While it's true that Europe suffers from more credit card fraud than the US, hence the extra security measures of the chip-and-pin, that doesn't mean that we should be left out of the fun and technology. Actually, we're left out of far more than that.
Paris' Velib bike rental kiosks famously don't accept any of the "old swipey" cards; they're chip-and-pin only. Corner stores have taped over the swipe portion of their card machines. We spent 15 minutes teaching a cash register girl at the Isle of Man airport what a swipey card was and how to properly charge us for our stupid postcards and pop. Then, just this past weekend, while attempting to buy a train ticket from Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam Centraal, we were alarmed to find that neither the machines nor the human-staffed ticket counters accepted swipey cards. Stuck without Euros, we considered bartering with travelers who did have chip-and-pin cards.
We're officially half-way through the summer, but that by no means puts a stop to summer travels. For anyone still staring at vacation dates in the upcoming warmer months, heat and crowds aren't a deterrent. To help you get around and make the most of any upcoming city trips, we've compiled a multitude of Neighborhood Guides.
It's our fun little series "Neighborhoods to Know and Go," and in it we walk you through our personal favorite places to eat, drink and plain chill out in areas we know very well, around the world.
Check 'em out:
· Jægersborggade in Copenhagen, Denmark
· The Old District of Bruges, Belgium
· Exmouth Market in London, UK
· Streeterville in Chicago, IL, USA
· Chinatown in Chicago, IL, USA
· Lincoln Square in Chicago, IL, USA
· Encinitas in California, USA
· Silverlake's Sunset Junction in California, USA
· San Diego's North Park in California, USA
· Downtown Los Angeles in California, USA
· Coronado's Orange Avenue in California, USA
· Brooklyn's DUMBO in New York, USA
· NYC's Astoria in New York, USA