Vacation, Unplugged
By Carmen Shirkey (Collins)
Originally posted April 23, 2010

I am addicted to the Internet. I work on the Internet. I play on the Internet. If it weren’t for Twitter and Facebook I would probably have to *gasp* pick up the phone to talk to someone. I’m always on, I’m jacked in, and usually it’s good.

However, I have absolutely no problem – well, almost no problem – giving it all up for the sake of a vacation. No one needs to reach me that bad that I should have to pay for international cell phone minutes. There is no rational need that I can think of that would require anyone to have a laptop on the beach. And enough with the Facebook “place dropping.” We know you’re on vacation, stop spending time rubbing it in our faces on Facebook and get out there and enjoy yourself.

Have we become so reliant on constant connection that we can’t disconnect? Isn’t that what a vacation is supposed to be about?

Now, there’s a place for technology on a vacation. Downloading a map, for example, or checking to see if your flight is on time, read an e-book or maybe even get a guidebook application.

However, I get annoyed quickly when someone in my tour absolutely must take a call. Or check an email over dinner. Not only are they interrupting their own vacation, but mine as well.

I’ve got some sobering news for us, people. We are not as important as our technology makes it seem that we are.

There are numerous studies and statistics that espouse the benefits of letting the mind and body recharge, so I won’t bore you with them here. But what I am saying here is that we all need to let our technology recharge while we let our bodies recharge. Or our battery life is going to catch up to us before we’ve had a chance to do all that we wanted to do.

Life is short. Travel hard.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When Things Go Wrong

When Things Go Wrong
By Carmen Shirkey (Collins)
Verizon Central Newsroom Travel Editor
Originally published March 27, 2008

When you’ve traveled as much as I have, you’re bound to run into some sticky situations. It’s the law of averages. However, it can happen to anyone at anytime. So what do you do?


I have now been on two trips where my luggage didn’t arrive with me. The first time, I was traveling to Italy, yet my bag was still sitting on the runway in DC. It took two full days for my bag to join me on vacation. The second time, I was in Egypt, my bag was somewhere in the Midwest (I flew out of DC.) The benefit of the Italy bag debacle was that I was more prepared for the Egypt mishap.

Try to Carry On
1. Try, if you can, to pack just a carry-on bag. This is hard for most, so. . .
2. Take two or three extra outfits in your carry-on bag. If you’re going to a beach, pack your swimsuit in the carry-on. Space bags are your friends.
3. If you’re traveling with someone, pack one of your outfits in their bag and vice versa. That way, if one of you loses your bag, the other one can save you.
4. Shoes are good hiding places for essentials like underwear and socks. Pack as many as you can in your carry-on.
5. If you need medicine, make sure it’s in the one personal item you’re allowed with you on the plane in addition to your carry-on bag.
6. If your bags are lost, after you go into the bathroom to scream (because you don’t want to take it out on them), report it at the lost baggage counter. They’ll get started to get it back to you.
7. Pester the lost baggage counter. Call them every so often (but let’s remember that you get more flies with honey, so be nice.) Or, ask the front desk or the concierge at the hotel to keep checking on your behalf, so you can try and go enjoy your trip.


The best offense is a good defense. It pays to pay attention. Last year, I was traveling to Hawaii, with a stop in Dallas. The day before departure, the weather in Dallas changed from a forecast of rain to heavy ice. As soon as I heard, I called the airline to get on a different flight that went through another city. Airlines have inclement weather policies, and once they’ve declared a weather issue they will reroute passengers at no charge. Obviously, that means that there will be a lot of people trying to get on a new flight, so the sooner you take action, the better.

The same applies when you’re already at your destination. When I was in Aruba, we saw on the news that there was a hurricane approaching the Gulf of Mexico, and would hit Florida around the time we were supposed to fly home – through Miami. While there was no affect on our location, I went to the front desk a few days in advance to see if they could help me change flights. The woman at the front desk was surprised that I was trying to change flights several days in advance, but she told me later that I was lucky I did, because she had several families now in jeopardy of not getting home.

Have you been in a sticky travel situation? How’d you get out of it? Talk about travel mishaps in the Verizon message boards.