Tips, tricks from travel experts
The Washington Post’s Travel section writers and editors recently discussed stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts:
Q: We are about a month and a half from a long trip to the other side of the world (relocating for work). From the first flight to touchdown, we are looking at 24 hours before all is said and done (two long flights, and a long layover). Our kids have done short flights (a couple hours here and there) but nothing this long. They are young (2.5 and 1.5) and rambunctious. We are already planning breaking every rule about screen time known to parents, but are there any resources or tips so that not everyone on our flights hates us so much?
Christopher Elliott: Lifting the screen time rules is probably a good idea, although I would recommend selecting the entertainment carefully. Don’t load up a movie that could get your kids too excited (for my firstborn, that was “Finding Nemo”). Interactive, nonelectronic games are also a great distraction on long flights. But the most overlooked item is food. They will not feed you or your kids enough on the plane. Bring plenty of healthy snacks for the children. On a 24-hour flight, they can eat several times their body weight.
Q: What time of year is best for a visit to Panama City? Anything we can’t miss?
Christopher Elliott: The best time to visit is during the dry season, from mid-December to mid-April. If you must travel during wet season, don’t worry too much: The rain comes and goes in short spurts.
Be sure to wander around Casco Antiguo, the old quarter filled with plazas, churches, museums, cafes and shops selling Pintao hats. For nature, check out a national park, such as Soberanía or Chagres, or the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center. The city is also home to Panama Viejo, a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as – but of course – the Panama Canal. Several companies offer partial and full transit tours of the canal.
Q: There was another recent report about a dispute over a “service” dog that became a physical fight. (No information on what service the dog performed.) When people bring service animals onto the plane, do the passengers pay a fee? Or is the dog like a free carry-on item? Would some of these issues be reduced if passengers had to buy a seat for their animal? Maybe there could be an exemption for actual, certified seeing-eye dogs etc., but “Muffy makes be feel better” wouldn’t cut it.
Andrea Sachs: I’m so glad you asked me about this. Recently the U.S. Department of Transportation asked for public comments on amending its regulations about service animals on flights. I think something needs to change. I’m just not sure what.