Guest Author - Cathy Brownfield
My daughter and I spent 10 days at Daytona Beach, Florida. Yes, the beach is delightful but it was a working trip. We went to some of my favorite places to eat, took in a few of the sights. The greatest challenge of all was airport security.
A friend owns a beach condo. Where else could she “eliminate” all of her in-law problems but in a work of fiction? In her novel, how many bodies floated under the pier? She opted to lease the condo for a year. We went with her to put her things in storage and prepare for the new tenants. We walked on the beach as much as we could. We sighted dolphins beyond the breakers, starfish and sand dollars, jellyfish on the beach…Don’t jellyfish have a serious sting? Why would parents watch their kids collect thirty jellyfish from the sand…in their hands?
TIP #1: When you visit region different than where you live, the bugs, spiders and other creatures will be different. If you don’t know what you are touching, your well-being could be at risk. Don’t touch what you don’t know. If you are at the beach, ask the beach patrol or a lifeguard what it is safe to touch.
TIP #2: Know the dangers of the seashore. Riptides were a problem and we were advised to hire a lifeguard. You can be swept away in an instant. If you do get caught in one, swim parallel to the shore to get out. Don’t swim against the current.
We visited Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. As much as I would have loved to see the view from “up there,” I couldn’t bring myself to make the climb. Lilo, though, took the challenge and climbed every one of the 213 steps to the top of the lighthouse. It was windy, and dark clouds moved in rapidly. When lightning strikes were spotted everyone was banned from the structure for safety reasons.
TIP #3: Use common sense for a safe trip. Be aware of your surroundings. Storms move rapidly across Florida. Where will you go for shelter if you are caught in one of those thunderstorms?
My daughter recently colored her hair black. She got a nice tan at the beach. So when she walked through the metal detector at the airport and it beeped, I guess they thought she must be of Middle Eastern descent. She took off her jacket, threw it on the conveyor. Another beep. She took off her belt. Another beep. She took out her ear piercings (5). At last she made it through. We did not understand how the girl ahead of her with twenty ear piercings in one ear got through. All I can think is that my daughter of English-Irish-Welsh-German origins had a great tan and black hair, and she was not mistaken for a Native American, probably because of her blue-green eyes.
TIP #4: Expect to remove your shoes—even sandals and flip-flops—when you go through airport security. You will be limited to what liquids you are permitted to take on the plane. And your luggage will be weighed. Limit? Fifty pounds. When you leave home travel as light as possible. It’s pretty likely you will return home with more than you packed when you left.
I decided not to take my laptop this trip because it seems like such a hassle to get it through airport security. When I arrived home I read a Washington Post news report on the Internet that U.S. federal agents are authorized to seize travelers’ laptops and other electronic devices like iPods and MP3 players at the border and hold them for unspecified period. They can do this without suspicion of wrong-doing. Of course, I wasn’t traveling over international borders.
TIP #5: When you are traveling with your laptop, keep it in view as you go through security. If you have to sit it down, lean it against your leg so you will be aware of it. Published reports advise that laptop theft at airports is increasing, whether for the documents that may be stored in it or simply for the value of the laptop itself.
When traveling, use common sense so you will have a safe and enjoyable trip.