A Connoisseur’s Note on Wanderlust Travel

Netherland Antilles

Grown tired of spending the first 12 hours of your vacation stuck in airport terminals and airplanes? Traditional bloggers would argue the time spent crossing the Atlantic is worth seeing Paris. Personally, I’ve grown tired of trying to enjoy my morning baguette without being trampled by a herd of drunken American collegiate students. With more young Americans having the confidence to visit the Rhone, or Greece, or spots once believed to be secret gems, I’ve investigated alternatives to visiting the tourist flooded cities of Western Europe. Is there no solution?! It’s a shame there are not more places of wonder and paradise near the continental United States. Would you believe me if I told you it was possible to visit London, Barcelona and Amsterdam by taking a non-stop 3 and a half to 5 hour flight? In our own backyard there is a chain of islands that not only brings you the sandy beaches and the crystal clear water, but the culture, food and architecture of Western and Southern Europe.

Welcome to the Caribbean Lesser Antilles! O.k. so I admit you may have been expecting something a little more exiting than your typical Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas. But who said cruise, and who said Bahamas? I’m talking about real culture in the lesser smaller islands of the Caribbean. YOU are the savvy tasteful traveler so I have found you something more fulfilling than over-priced beach resorts serving burgers shipped from the U.S. My time chasing music and exotic foods in the Caribbean brought me farther and farther away from Miami, to places so far down the chain, I could see Venezuela from my beach towel. I found the Bahamas to be too full of crowded beaches and once again, drunken college students. I tried Jamaica, but giving you a crash course on how to not get robbed away from your hostile didn’t seem too exiting either. As I headed south, I found cultures and people that made me feel welcomed as a connoisseur and not a tourist.

St. Croix Heritage

We’ll start with the closest and tamest for you skeptics. The U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix. Now here do we not only have sandy beaches, great weather, but everyone speaks English. It’s the first of the Lesser Antilles just 50 miles east of Puerto Rico. After going to St. Croix I felt the Jamaican Reggae music was a poor mans version of what the good people of St. Croix had going on. Here in this small paradise are fewer tourists than the larger island, good food, music, and resorts for the pampered all the way to the rugged. It is truly the best of both worlds, where English customs and currency are valid, but French cuisine, art, architecture and leisure make you feel a million miles from the red white and blue. Because it was once a French colony the culture is very rich, and the taste of Paris can be seen at every town on the island. Not only is it convenient in terms of how close it is from Atlanta, New York or Los Angles airports, but it’s a U.S. Territory. What does this mean? No passport, no problem! If you’ve been worrying about taking your friend or even your children abroad but the hassles of obtaining your passports have killed your drive, no worries. If you have a driver’s license, you can fly to the Caribbean and enjoy yourself with no hassle and no currency exchange needed.

This wonderful island was a blast, I found myself forgetting what time it was and not caring what kind of cuisine it was. Truly a personal release and retreat full of rich food music and culture. Check in frequently to follow me down the island chain to the Dutch territories full of the free spirit of Amsterdam and the French Territories where royalty used to vacation. And after we’ve covered all the islands you get to choose from in the Lesser Antilles, I’ll show you how to survive and have a good time in the enigma of Cuba that will soon be letting connoisseurs like you in! Safe Travels

How to Fly Without ID!

So disaster has struck and you are at the airport with no ID and the flight departs in 20. You miss this flight and its game over, your girlfriend will drop you for that Law grad student she keeps bringing up, you will prove to the fam that you are incapable of being on time or handling even the smallest of responsibilities and basically be an all around schmuck.

Well don’t worry! Your relationship is saved and your family will be none the wiser because you; my dear disillusioned friend can fly without an ID.

Step 1. Don’t be frightened. When you present your dilemma to the ticketing agent the responses will vary. If you are not so lucky you will get the “freak out” and they will demand you produce some form of government issued picture ID. They may even get snippy and insist that it is a federal law! Well, fear not because this is far from the truth. Actually to the contrary the law mandates that it is illegal to barre you from flight based on the absence of ID alone. So take solace in this fact, take a deep breath and prepare for step 2.

Step 2. Have you found your center? Smile politely and request to be a “selectee.” This term comes straight from federal mandate security directive 26-05 that states:

1. IDENTIFY THE PASSENGER –

A. ALL PASSENGERS WHO APPEAR TO BE 18 YEARS OF AGE WILL PRESENT A GOVERNMENT ISSUED PICTURE ID, OR TWO OTHER FORMS OF ID, AT LEAST ONE OF WHICH MUST BE ISSUED BY A GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY.

B. THE AGENT MUST RECONCILE THE NAME ON THE ID AND THE NAME ON THE TICKET – EXCEPT AS NOTED BELOW.

C. IF THE PASSENGER CANNOT PRODUCE IDENTIFICATION, OR IT CANNOT BE RECONCILED TO MATCH THE TICKET, THE PASSENGER BECOMES A “SELECTEE.” CLEAR ALL OF THEIR LUGGAGE AS NOTED IN SECTION 6, BELOW.

6. CLEAR SELECTEE’S CHECKED AND CARRY-ON LUGGAGE, AND SUSPICIOUS ARTICLES DISCOVERED BY THE QUESTIONS ASKED;

A. IF THE SELECTEE IS ON A FLIGHT WITHIN THE 48 CONTINENTAL US STATES, OR TO MEXICO, OR TO CANADA, ITEMS CAN BE CLEARED BY EITHER OF THE FOLLOWING METHODS:

1. EMPTY THE LUGGAGE OR ITEM AND PHYSICALLY SEARCH ITS CONTENTS BY A QUALIFIED SCREENER, OR;

2. BAG-MATCH – ENSURE THE BAG IS NOT TRANSPORTED ON THE AIRCRAFT IF THE PASSENGER DOES NOT BOARD.

B. IF THE SELECTEE IS ON AN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT – CHECKED LUGGAGE, CARRY-ON LUGGAGE, AND SUSPECT ITEMS CAN BE CLEARED ONLY BY THE FOLLOWING METHOD; EMPTY THE LUGGAGE OR ITEM AND PHYSICALLY SEARCH ITS CONTENTS BY QUALIFIED SCREENERS.

This continues on but I think you get the point.

Step 3. You should then be given some type of marking along the lines of an orange sticker both on your luggage and your ticket. This serves to inform personnel that you are a Selectee and will require additional security screening. Not scary stuff, but if you’re going to forget your ID then you’ll have to deal with the additional & thorough security measures. You may also be provided with a form to fill out and carry with you.

Step 4. Fly happy…