The busiest travel season of the year is upon us. Are you ready? In the rush of the season, don’t forget the basics of fabulous travel. Here are my top-five tips to keep you happy and safe during your holiday travels.
- Double-check all of your confirmation and reservation numbers. From airlines and trains to hotels and car rentals, it is important to make sure everything is correct.
- Plan for Plan B. With weather delays, cancellations and other travel mishaps, consider planning an alternative route in advance so you know what your options are in case Plan A doesn’t work out.
- Always use the hotel safe. During your hotel stay, many people may have access to your room. Keep all your valuables locked up in the room’s safe.
- Tip. The holidays are expensive for everyone — especially those working in the hospitality industry. Don’t forget to tip your bellman, your maid, your taxi driver and those who are serving you. Good tipping is good holiday karma.
- Be kind. Don’t forget travel is supposed to be fun! You are going to be bumped. The last space in the overhead bin will be taken by some person with an oversized bag. Someone is going to have a hissy fit. Don’t be that person! Have fun, be kind!
Key West for the holidays
Despite Hurricane Irma, Key West is ready for you. Fantasy Fest 2017 went on as planned with an amazing 10 days of events. Despite thinner palm trees, roofs in the midst of repair and a noticeably smaller crowd for the Bud Light Fantasy Fest Parade, the island’s spirit is alive and well — albeit clearly weary and recovering.
The guesthouses and hotels fared well during the storm. Most of your favorites, from the Equator Resort to Alexander’s Guest House, are in topnotch condition. The Key West Airport has minor damage to the outdoor-smoking area. The storm may have changed regularly scheduled tours and activities. To help you plan your trip while you are in Key West, make a stop at the new Key West Business Guild’s LGBT Visitor Center at a larger location at 808 Duval St. The new location is within Key West’s “Pink Triangle,” which includes a cluster of LGBT bars, entertainment clubs and stores around the 700 and 800 blocks of the iconic Duval Street. Nightly entertainment is back and the Blue Q Adventures is taking us on sunset sails (check out the all-male sails too!).
Island House, the world’s best all-male, clothing-optional luxury resort is in perfect shape — sans one giant tree that is being replaced with bamboo. The staff at Island House lost 18 days of work during Hurricane Irma but they are back, bringing guests the same level of luxury and attention as before the hurricane. Island House was hopping during Fantasy Fest with two big parties and has become the epicenter of the island’s LGBT daytime and nighttime fun. With a free nightly happy hour with open bar, pool, free Internet, a gym, on-site massage and a 24-hour restaurant (plus, some late-night skinny dipping in the pool),Island House is still the island’s best gay value.
For the holidays, Island House will host some official events like “Bone Island: Bare It All” weekend, Nov. 30-Dec. 3. It’s an all-boys weekend with dance parties, naked pool parties, boat trips and more. Don’t pack much! Less is more, and that is good to avoid airline fees too!
The island is promising to recover, to rebuild and to stay “Keys Strong” in 2018. Sushi, the island’s iconic drag queen, will take her annual midnight high-heel drop (think a drag version of Times Square ball drop). At the stroke of midnight to the roars of the crowd gathered, Sushi is lowered in a red high heel to bring in New Year 2018. Bourbon Street Pub on Duval Street serves as headquarters. Insider’s tip: The $200 VIP balcony is definitely worth the view and the perks.
Jeff Guaracino is the author of “The Handbook of LGBT Tourism and Hospitality: A Guide for Business Practice.”