There are times when you have the right and times when you must sit down and wait. According to the US Department of Transportation, there are rules in place that US airlines must abide by. If you are on a domestic flight the airline can hold you for no more then three hours and international flights for hours unless there is a safety issue. If you have been waiting in your seat with the same view of the tarmac for two hours the airline must provide food, water, and a lavatory. In the United States if you have been waiting for three hours you must be given the option to get off. You may not see your checked bag for a while and may find it hard to book another flight, but you will be free of the same seat you have been waiting in for hours. Passengers who choose to leave a plane that has been delayed may not be allowed back on and is then responsible for finding another flight. If you are outside the USA there is still hope to escape a flight stuck on the tarmac, but you must wait four hours to be given the option to deplane and the same issues arise only on an international setting. Trying to track down baggage and book a new flight in a foreign land and losing the money on the flight you just walked off of are just a few headaches involved. These lengthy tarmac delays aren’t the norm, but it is always good to know what options and rights as a passenger you have.
Austria is a German-speaking country with a charm of its own. Vienna is tucked away in the northeastern section and has all the old world charm. The capital city of Austria was home to famous residents such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Sigmund Freud. The museums Quarters District has a lot going on within a short walking distance. If you need a break there are shops, bars, and restaurants around every turn. Enjoy a local beer and watch the people wander through the square. Vienna is a beautiful destination for solo travelers, families, and lovers.
Coming into Vienna by plane or train you will most likely start your journey in the city center. Public transportation is clean and well organized with local trains, subways, trams and buses running in a timely manner. Tickets are cheap and are on an honor system. There are no booths to check tickets. if you get asked by an agent to see proof and you do not have any, there are strict fines. Believe me, the officials have heard every excuse. I was on a train and thought my ticket could go on to the next city, but it turned out the first time I saw an agent, my ticket wasn’t good. The only reason I was let go with a warning is that I had just added money to my travel card. Let that be a lesson to anyone who is thinking about skipping buying a ticket and taking their chances. There is a large fee for not having a ticket plus the cost of the ticket you didn’t buy. There are also Vienna city cards for 24, 48, or 72 hours pass for public transportation and hop on hop off bus service which is available at the airport and transit centers.
- When to visit
Summer is the busiest month with beautiful mild weather and all the bells and whistles for visitors. Followed very closely by the holiday seasons at the end of the year. Everything in the region is decorated to perfection in old world charm.
Offseason is Spring and Fall months where you will find discounted flights and dinners to the most popular tourist locations.
Vienna is a four-season city. In the winter months of December, January, and some of February it can be dry cold and snowing. As long as you know how to dress for the weather and make stops to catch a break from harsh weather conditions then Vienna is still a wonderful and walkable city year-round Summers are usually in the 70s but occasionally can get up to the 90s.
- What to see
The main city draw to this cultured city is the museum district and the many palaces. The most popular is Schonbrunn Palace which is an easy fifteen minutes away on public transportation. All around the city, there are open-air markets filled with fresh flowers, bread, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. There are multiple restaurants to sit and dine on local favorites. There are many parks with perfect lawns and fountains taking up blocks to get lost in or have a peaceful lunch.
Vienna is a great and walkable city. The locals are friendly and often English speaking for those not willing to test their German. I felt safe walking the busy areas around the city and quiet backstreets where I stayed. Like any good traveler, you should be aware of your surroundings and be careful after dark.
By Heidi Vastag
Using the restroom in public is never relaxing but at times a necessary adventure. There is always the standby of McDonald’s or Starbucks with free public bathrooms. When stepping off the train in Europe make sure you have some loose change to pay for a potty trip. Each region has different challenges that you may not be aware of. Asia uses a squatty potty. If you are not used to relieving yourself hanging over a hole in the floor, then you may end up with wet feet. Backpackers have more of a solitary advantage but also have to dig a hole first. This isn’t in public, but it’s not on the privacy of your own home seat advantage.
Walk into a hotel lobby as if you belong there to avoid the front desk.
You may even be able to wander around to find snacks and cookies just don’t look too out of place.
On the unpredictable road of travel, food can be a friend and then seemingly turn on you. That is why it’s important to keep different toilet locations in the back of your mind as a safe bet.
There are a few tips for any country you find yourself in where you are crossing your legs and asking with big hand gestures trying to make yourself understand. I recommend having some small change on you to pay for the maintenance “tip” basket sitting next to the strick looking bathroom attendant. Having your own paper is safer than hoping for the best after the door shuts. In some places in Asia, you must grab paper before you enter the stall. The best tip I can pass along is to wash your hands and stay regular!
“You are going to get killed over there” Wherever there maybe, was just the place everyone was so sure to be unsafe. Usually, this fear comes from the unknown. Traveling as a solo female in countries I have never been before always exciting. When you see land as the plane banks for the final approach and your new adventure waits just outside of immigration. Everything seems safe and controlled in the airport until the outside door slide open and the wilds of a foreign land await.
When I choose a country, there are always a few well know spots that I like to see along with every other tourist and traveler. Hot touristy spots have different kind of safety risks to look out for. When there are large crowds of people milling about, keep your personal items close to your body and to be aware of is the best and most basic advice. Pickpocketers have mastered how to barely touch a person and walk away with a wallet or camera in hand. These tricks are played out in busy, sought-after sites that may feel comfortable but are targeted for lazy travel habits. Just being aware that people may be watching for a bag to be left unattended is a good habit to form. There are big city scams that can steal your information at ATM machines and taxi drivers who scam you into a higher fare by driving all over the town first.
Although money is very devastating to lose, physical safety is above all, the most important. Here are a few basic rules I try to follow.
- Don’t trust people too easily
- Don’t look like a tourist, look at the map before you go and leave the guidebook in your bag.
- Don’t have large wads of money, stash cash in a different spot on you and hidden in your bags. Flashing large amounts of money could make you a target.
- Don’t drink too much and watch your drinks around others.
- Don’t dress too flashy, blend in
with what locals wear.
Picking a place to stay
Read, read, read! The times I walked away from a hostel or hotel were always the times I didn’t read the reviews. Angry people like to write reviews which is good if you see a pattern of bugs or staff issues. After reading enough reviews you can almost see the same words the owners and managers use to boost their own businesses. You must feel safe when you close your eyes for the night. Never let anyone hear your room number at the front desk of a hotel and always make sure there is a working deadbolt lock and a secondary lock. Bringing a wedged door stopped is a light and easy way to add protection. Hostels often have private rooms for a higher price if the group of people in the assigned room worry you. Spend the extra money to be and feel safe.
Things like where are the nearest medical center is located and getting there in a time of need is a bigger challenge less populated area. Other health issues come into play with less developed countries such as clean water and proper cooking techniques.
Another tool I found is a solo woman safety app that gives you a number of how safe an area is on a 1-100 scale. It’s called Geo Sure Global and will tell you the safety rating for an area you are in or planning to go. There is also a feature to compare different cities next to each other. Geo Sure Global uses a six-point system to determine what the score will be. The number for each area can change depending on the six categories. Being a gay woman traveling can feel like walking into the unknown. Having an app that can tell you a general safety level in different areas can protect you physically and give you peace of mind mentally. There is a wide enough spread of internet across the globe I think an app like this, especially in a time of unrest will help with global safety. Download for Apple or Android