Shopping tips for Aldi newbies

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) – August 24 in Ocean Springs, Aldi will open its first store on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and shoppers are excited.

In an effort to keep costs low, Aldi operates a little differently than most other grocery stores. And it’s that slight mystery that’s adding to the anticipation. Here are a few things you should know before your first shopping trip to Aldi.

1. Bring a quarter for a shopping buggy

Don’t worry, you’ll get your quarter back. But in order to use a buggy, you must first put in a quarter to unlock it from the others. When you bring it back, you get the quarter back. Remember, they’re cutting costs and that means they’re not paying an employee to go wrangle all the stray buggies people leave in the parking lot.

If you’re going to be a regular, you may want to pick up the Aldi Quarter Keychain. It attaches to your keyring so you’ll always have a quarter with you. The store is always coming out with new designs, so you’ll be able to find one that suits your style.

The Aldi Quarter Keychain attaches to your keyring so you’ll always have a quarter with you for...
The Aldi Quarter Keychain attaches to your keyring so you’ll always have a quarter with you for a shopping buggy.(WLOX)

2. Bring your own bags

If you ever shop at Sam’s Club, you should be used to this one. Just bring your own reusable bags, or snag an empty box off a shelf to help you carry everything out. The no free bag policy helps cut costs, and you can feel good about using less plastic. If you don’t have any bags to bring, you can buy reusable grocery bags at the store. You’ll find them for sale at the checkout.

3. Bag your own groceries

This one should be obvious, since you have to bring your own bags. The cashier will scan your items and load them back into your buggy. Typically, you will then bag up your items after you pay. The good news is however you prefer for your groceries to be bagged is exactly how they will be bagged at Aldi. (Because you’re doing the bagging. Get it?)

4. No coupons allowed

If you love clipping coupons and pairing them with the weekly sales, you’re going to have to save that hobby for another store. More than 90% of everything sold in Aldi stores is packaged under the Aldi brand. And for the few national brands in the store, they don’t accept coupons. There is one exception. Occasionally, Aldi will print and distribute coupons for a special, regional promotion, like a grand opening. So if you go to the grand opening of the Ocean Springs store, you may get one of the elusive Aldi coupons. But they won’t be online. They’re always handed out at the stores or mailed to you personally.

5. There’s an Aisle of Shame

The Aisle of Shame is an affectionate nickname for the center aisle of Aldi that features seasonal items which change every week. But it’s even more than that. There’s also a blog and newsletter for Aldi fans, which you can find at And there’s an Aisle of Shame Facebook page and Facebook Group with 1.3 million members. This is part of what makes Aldi different than other grocery stores. It kind of has a cult, I mean, community following.

6. Aldi’s return policy is 🔥

They call it their Twice as Nice Guarantee. If for any reason you are not 100% satisfied with the quality of any Aldi brand food item, Aldi will replace the product AND refund your money. You must have your receipt if you want the refund in the same way you paid. But even if you don’t, they’ll give you an Aldi Merchandise Credit gift card equal to the current retail price of the returned item. Computers and electronics are the only items that have a time limit on returns. They must be returned with a receipt within 90 days of purchase.

7. Aldi offers grocery delivery and pickup

Aldi’s delivery is operated by Instacart. So if you already have an Instacart account or the mobile app, just log in with your email address and password. You can also visit and enter your zip code to determine if your local store offers delivery and/or pickup. Learn more at

ALDI is opening 150 new stores this year with 20 of those in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida. By the end of 2022, ALDI is on track to be the third largest grocer in the country.

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Prisma Health’s tips for summer first-aid travel kits

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Prisma Health's tips for summer first-aid travel kits

Red Cross

The summer travel season kicks off with Memorial Day weekend, and Prisma Health encourages everyone to create travel first-aid kits before heading out since even small injuries, if left untreated, can derail a vacation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 44% of Americans do not have first-aid kits even though having a well-stocked and maintained kit is essential in being prepared for accidents. 

“We all like to think that nothing bad is going to happen to us, but injuries can happen anywhere at any time and to anybody,” said Dr. Nathaniel Mann, a Prisma Health emergency medicine physician who is also fellowship-trained in wilderness medicine. “Being adequately prepared by having all vital medical products in one accessible location may reduce the severity of an injury, save your vacation or even help save a life.”

He suggested that people create their own kits instead of buying pre-packaged ones. Augment your kit with items specific to you and your family’s needs.

Mann recommended starting with these essentials:

  • Stop-the-Bleed kit, to include compression dressings or a tourniquet you’ve been trained to use
  • Even if you don’t have severe allergies to bees or wasps, consider carrying an EpiPen. Familiarize yourself with its use ahead of time.  
  • Include something sugary like gluose tablets or even gummy candies to treat episodes of low blood sugar
  • Adhesive bandages of assorted sizes to cover minor cuts and scrapes
  • Sterile gauze pads of various sizes
  • Medical adhesive tape to attach gauze pads to skin around wounds
  • Antiseptic wipes to disinfect wounds
  • Non-latex gloves
  • Pain relievers: ibuprofen (Advil), acetaminophen (Tylenol) and aspirin
  • Antihistamines to relieve allergies or itching
  • Dramamine or an anti-nausea medicine for motion sickness
  • Consider an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection in open wounds
  • Calamine lotion/hydrocortisone cream for bug bites or poison ivy
  • A list of emergency phone numbers and allergies of family members

“The more remote you plan on going, the more prepared you should be to handle minor injuries by yourself. Remember that some of these medications can do double duty – for example, you may not be prone to motion sickness in a car, but Dramamine could mitigate vertigo or dizziness from an unexpected sinus infection,” said Mann.

Not every sickness or injury can or should be treated at home, said Mann. “Get as much training as you can, but trust your gut and know when to seek help.”

Prisma Health offers On Demand Video Visits for around-the-clock urgent care for everything from suspected strains, minor burns and cuts, dizziness, fever and minor head injuries. Learn more at

For a complete list of first-aid kit supplies recommended by the American Red Cross, visit




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Will airport chaos continue into the summer? Top tips from industry insiders

We’re all hungry for a holiday. With entry rules coming to an end in many countries and anxieties around travelling easing, a lot of people are hoping to get away this summer.

But the excitement of going abroad has been marred by airport chaos, cancelled flights and hours-long queues. Though travel restrictions may be easing, the recent problems at airports are leaving many uncertain if they should book at all.

So with airlines saying it is very difficult to predict what will happen in the next 12 months, we went to Routes aviation conference to find out their thoughts on travel in the next year.

Will airport chaos continue this summer?

The bad news is that the chaos seen in airports across Europe in recent months looks like it is set to continue.

Airlines are working hard to reshuffle their teams to have enough staff on-hand but as passenger numbers increase over the summer, the problem may get worse. And they say it is mainly to do with staff shortages at the airports where they operate.

Managing director of Airlines For Europe Thomas Raynaert says there is no short term solution. People left the industry during the pandemic for other sectors with better pay, more satisfying work and better conditions. There’s little chance that they will come back.

Because it takes time to train staff in roles like security and baggage handling that are currently lacking people, the problem won’t be fixed quickly.

Rafael Schvartzman, the International Air Transport Association’s regional vice president for Europe, said the situation must be addressed urgently “to avoid frustrating customers.”

He added that it was “unprecedented” to see an airport asking airlines to cancel bookings and reservations into the future – as happened at some airports during the chaos earlier this year.

Why is there so much disruption at Europe’s airports?

Passenger numbers in March were up to 75 per cent of what they were pre-pandemic, IATA says, showing the aviation industry is recovering. Schvartzman explained that this could mean a return to 2019 numbers as early as 2023.

“This is a sign of what is to come this summer,” he said, with projections for a very strong season. But it doesn’t seem like some airports are ready for this increase in traffic.

Many industry experts pointed to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam as an example of this under-preparedness. The airport authority here has warned that it will be very busy there every day up to and including summer due to staff shortages.

Staff are threatening strikes due to the working conditions, queues have led to outbreaks of violence and Dutch flag carrier KLM has had to temporarily suspend ticket sales due to the chaos.

“People have waited two, sometimes three years for a holiday and that should not be ruined by a lack of preparedness,” Schvartzman added.

Why is airport chaos a big problem for tour operators?

For those who have booked their flights directly with airlines, delays and cancellations are often fixed by taking another flight. But for people booking packages with tour operators, the situation can be a bit more tricky.

Rex Nikkels, airport procurement specialist for TUI, says that because hotels, transfers and other parts of the trip are booked together, it makes it hard to reschedule. It means that tour operators like them – and the people that book through them – have been some of the hardest hit by chaos at airports.

“We also had to get rid of people,” he says, explaining that they lost workers during the pandemic just like airports. “We are also short of staff for now, but we can manage.”

Nikkels says it means tour companies have taken a hit to their reputation because people are quick to blame them when all of the moving parts of a package holiday can’t be changed.

“This summer, we will face the same problems,” he adds.

Should you plan to arrive early when you fly?

It’s easy to think that arriving super early for your flight is the solution when queues are ridiculously long.

But according to Nikkels, arriving too early can cause as many problems as arriving too late. People shouldn’t show up more than three hours before their flight as those turning up five hours or more before departure are simply adding to the queues, he says.

Most airlines are advising passengers not to arrive before the earliest time their check-in allows. It’s also worth making sure your passports are still valid – especially if you are travelling from the UK where post-Brexit rules are adding to the confusion and there have been delays on renewals.

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How to avoid constipation and bloating while travelling; expert offers tips | Health

With travel restrictions easing and schools closing for summer vacation, it’s time to plan that much-deserved holiday with your family. While exploring new places and sighseeing is fun, bloating or constipation while travelling could spoil all the fun and can be extremely uncomfortable. There are many reasons why travelling can take a toll on your digestive system. From longer hours of sitting, change in your normal routine, timing of your meals, not drinking enough water to changes in the types of food you eat can all lead to digestive troubles. (Also read: Travel tips to stay safe with testing for a stress-free summer holiday)

If you too feel bloated, constipated or face any kind of digestive discomfort during travelling, then you must remember some important tips. Sipping water from time to time, eating light and doing some breathing exercises can help you deal with these issues.

“Often I see people complain of constipation during travelling due to lack of enough movement, change in food-water-sleep timings and place,” says Ayurveda expert Dr Dixa Bhavsar in her recent Instagram post.

Dr Bhavsar also gives tips for relief in constipation and bloating during travelling.

1. Stay hydrated

You don’t have to drink plenty of water, just have enough. Make sure you drink at least 5 glasses of water if you’re travelling in a cold place and 7-8 glasses if you are in a hot place.

2. Keep moving

Practice Sukshma vyayama or Yoga and pranayamas every morning for at least 30 minutes will help. If possible, walk for 5000 steps per day.

3. Sip on warm water or green tea

Sipping on a glass of warm water either first thing in the morning or/and bedtime helps pass bowels easily daily. Begin your morning with green tea instead of bread or anything deep fried.

4. Choose healthier food options

Have laxative fruits like banana, papaya and local fruits available at the place. Have light breakfast. Make sure you do not eat maida (white flour) for breakfast. Have moderate or heavy food for lunch (roti/parantha, curry, salad). Have buttermilk with lunch if it is available. Have super light and early dinner. Rice based food or different soups are best for dinners.

5. Carry digestive pills

Pudina Vati, Amla Candy, Hajmola and Hing Vati are the best ayurvedic digestives. Suck on it whenever you feel bloated or heavy.

6. Carry cow ghee

Take 1 tsp of ghee with warm water in morning or at night. It works wonderfully.

7. Ayurvedic herbs

Inspite of following all of the above, if you still feel constipated or bloated, then carry triphala churna or tablet with you for mild constipation and haritaki/harde tab or churna for severe constipation.

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BBB shares travel scams, tips ahead of Memorial Day

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – Summer is rapidly approaching and many people are planning to take a vacation, but beware – scammers are making plans too.

The Better Business Bureau wants you to be wary of false promises and a sense of urgency that can fool you into paying for something that doesn’t exist.

There are five common scams to avoid, the BBB says.

1. Vacation Rental Con:

Watch out for listings for properties that either aren’t for rent, don’t exist, or are significantly different than pictured. These con artists lure in vacationers with the promise of low fees and great amenities. The “owner” creates a false sense of urgency – such as telling potential clients that another vacationer is interested in the rental – to get payment up before doing sufficient research or questioning the legitimacy of the ad. The BBB warns you to talk with the owner by phone and check public records before paying for any type of rental property.

2. “Free” Vacation Scams:

When a cruise or travel company advertises a vacation as “free,” it does not necessarily mean the trip is entirely without cost or restrictions. Watch out for add-on fees for air transportation to the port, port charges, taxes, tips, and other undisclosed fees.

3. Hotel Scams:

When staying in a hotel, beware of techniques used to get ahold of credit card information, such as fake calls from the front desk, free wi-fi skimming, and fake food delivery. Scammers count on travelers – tourists and business people alike — being tired or in a hurry. Pay close attention and watch out for these tricks:

4. Third Party Booking Site Scams:

If you book your airfare, hotel or other travel through a third-party website, be sure to use caution. In the most common scam, the BBB says travelers pay with a credit card. Shortly after making the payment, receive a call from the company asking to verify the name, address, banking information, or other personal details – something a legitimate company would never do. 

5. Timeshare Reselling Cons:

Scammers may claim to specialize in timeshare resales and promise they have buyers ready to purchase. To secure this service, the scammer pressures the target into paying an upfront fee. The timeshare owner pays up, but the reselling agent never delivers.

Here are four tips for avoiding scams:

  • Look for reviews and ask for references. While vetting hotels, travel companies, vacation rentals, and more, check for reviews and complaints. Look for photos and a variety of reviews. If the property or company doesn’t have any online reviews, ask for references and call them.
  • Avoid wiring money or using a prepaid debit card. These payments are the same as sending cash. Once the money is sent, there is no way to get it back. Paying with a credit card the charges can be disputed and dramatically limit liability from a fraudulent purchase.
  • A great deal probably isn’t the truth. Scammers lure in targets by guaranteeing an amazing trip at a very low price. Research it first. If the hotel, travel, or tour is much cheaper than similar options, be suspicious.
  • Do some snooping. Check the website for links to the company’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. If they do have social media accounts, check their activity and see if any other users have left reviews or voiced complaints. Also, look for typos and pixelated images. These mistakes are signs of a scammer, not a company that cares about its online presence.

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Phoenix Sky Harbor offers eight travel tips to help you travel

This summer, the travel season rebounds as industry experts predict more Americans will travel this summer than at any time since the start of the pandemic.

Passenger counts continue to increase across the nation as people begin leisurely traveling again. And with the Memorial Day weekend approaching, Phoenix Sky Harbor is expecting to see an increase in passengers, nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.

Travelers can expect continued safety protocols. Though masks are no longer mandated for travel, the CDC recommends mask-wearing while traveling. Phoenix Sky Harbor will have face coverings and other PPE items are available for purchase at airport shops and PPE vending machines. Hand-sanitizing stations are still available and other contactless processes will still be followed.

Here are a few tips from America’s Friendliest Airport® to help ease the stress of passengers returning to the sky.

  1. Pack a face covering and other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hand sanitizer. The Federal Mask Mandate has been lifted; however, the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks while flying to ensure the safety and well-being of the traveling public, and to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Some airlines may still require travelers to wear a mask. Check with your airline for specific requirements.
  2. Traveling internationally? Check your destination’s entry requirements. Some destinations may require a negative COVID-19 test for entry. COVID-19 testing is offered pre-security in Terminal 4 at Treat. The U.S. still also requires a negative test when returning on an international flight. Be sure to check with your airline and destination for specific information.
  3. Reserve your parking in advance. Enjoy the convenience of Sky Harbor Discount Parking and save money while reserving your spot at any of our parking facilities.
  4. Double-check what’s in your bags. Make sure to look through your bags and review the TSA Prohibited Items List the night before your flight.
  5. Check the flight status with the airline before coming to the airport to catch a flight or to pick-up/drop-off loved ones. Flight status can be checked on the airline’s website or at
  6.  Give yourself extra time. Arrive early and check security wait times online. If you are traveling domestically, arrive two hours before your flight, three hours if you are traveling internationally. Travelers can also check current TSA security checkpoint wait times on the homepage of and on the flight information screens in the Airport once they arrive. Traveling in Terminal 4? You can use any security checkpoint to access your gate.
  7. Reduce your time in the security checkpoint line. Our PHX RESERVE program allows you to save your space and reduce the wait. Make a reservation up to three days before your flight departs. You’ll be provided with a time to enter a designated checkpoint lane where you’ll begin the standard security process. This program is open to travelers of any airline, though if you have TSA PreCheck, it’s recommended you use the TSA PreCheck Program. Learn more.
  8. Reserve your rental car in advance. No matter where you are traveling, it’s always a good idea to reserve your rental car in advance as vehicles may be limited for walk-up customers.

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Beyond the Tips, Why Travel Matters : It’s Been a Minute : NPR


You’re listening to IT’S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I’m Elise Hu. Well, it’s Memorial Day weekend already, the unofficial kickoff to summer, and I don’t know about y’all, but I have vacation on my mind. Whether you’re planning your first trip since the pandemic, or you’ve already been on planes and trains and automobiles for a while now, the packed airports, high gas prices and the hassle of travel also bring up bigger questions, like what is it about getting away and leaving home that’s so compelling? What is travel really for? So I wanted to share an episode I reported for NPR’s Life Kit. It’s about the art of travel, why we leave home and how we can make travel more meaningful. Here’s my conversation from 2019 with travel writer Torre DeRoche and artist Jenny Odell.


HU: You can find so much on the internet about traveling better. Whether it’s trying to get more upgrades on your flights or minimizing your wait time for trains or packing hacks – guilty – travel guides often focus on the practical stuff. But traveling well isn’t just about getting from point A to point B. So this episode is about the art of travel, why we do it and how we can make it most meaningful.

TORRE DEROCHE: Meaningful experiences aren’t a good time or a bad time. You can go away and spend 30 days crying, and that can be meaningful to you. It can be meaningful to your life.

HU: Torre DeRoche is an Australian travel writer who began her life as an adventurer when she left her job as a graphic designer and set sail on a rinky-dink boat for more than two years with the man she was dating.

DEROCHE: It was a 1979 sailboat that was covered in these blisters ’cause it wasn’t – it was – it had an aesthetic problem that made it half price (laughter). My ex, he had been saving for years and years to do this dream of his. And it’s not terribly costly. And it leaked, and it had all kinds of issues. So it was anything but luxury.

HU: Before this point, DeRoche never went on vacations longer than a few weeks, and she was terrified of deep water. But she faced her fears.

DEROCHE: We spent two years, and we sailed from Los Angeles down to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. And that was hell (laughter). It was a hellish journey.

HU: Our high hopes for a great time can easily be dashed by the hassles or hellish experiences. But DeRoche says even those can be transformative because they force you to stretch yourself, as she did.

DEROCHE: So since then, I’ve kind of almost sought out adventures that seem challenging and beyond my reach to some degree. And I’ve done walking pilgrimages through Italy and through India, and I’ve climbed Mount Kinabalu in Borneo and yeah, done all – I’ve been all over the world doing all kinds of strange things since then.

HU: Her takeaway on meaningful travel is our first tip for you. Meaning is what you make it. A meaningful time isn’t necessarily a good time or a bad time. You bring the context and meaning to your experiences, even if it’s not the postcard version of a place.

DEROCHE: Don’t fight it. There’s – it’s a perfectly valid experience to cry in Italy (laughter) while eating gelato. So yeah, giving up this idea that travel has to look like something that – you know, that maybe you’re seeing on Instagram, that it has to be beautiful, that it has to be joyful, that it has to be social. It doesn’t have to be anything apart from what you make it.

HU: Go ahead, cry in Italy. You don’t have to perform your trip for anyone else. Tip No. 2 to find fulfilment and adventure – make yourself uncomfortable. Confront what scares you.

DEROCHE: For starters, because as every new country you go in, every new culture presents its own challenges. So I’m always kind of loosening up my fears every time I go somewhere.

HU: Torre did it by setting sail for years, something she never thought she would do. Traveling to new places is a way for us to stretch beyond our comfort zones. So engineer your travel so you’re doing things that scare you a little bit.

DEROCHE: It brings me closer to other cultures. It brings me closer to other countries and to the planet itself. Every time I go away, I feel strongly connected to the world and to other people in the world. And that in itself is empowering. When we live in a city, I think it – you can easily slip into this feeling of individualism where it’s us and them. We get surrounded by terrible media telling us to be afraid of other people. And when you travel, it breaks all of that down. You realize the world isn’t as scary as maybe you come to believe. And that just enriches my life and my experience of life.


HU: A note here – while all this enrichment is uplifting, we have to remember that getting to travel at all is a pretty privileged situation. A lot of us can’t afford to get away.

DEROCHE: Marcel Proust has a really great quote, which is, the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. So even if you’re in a state of grief and you’re struggling with your life, go somewhere new and try to see it with new eyes. Try to be there in that moment with that experience right there, and see what you find.


HU: Coming up, artist Jenny Odell on balancing structure and spontaneity in travel. Stick with us.


HU: This whole idea of going away without going very far at all is why I called up Jenny Odell. Odell is an artist and author. She lives in Oakland and loves nature. She wrote a book called “How To Do Nothing.” And we caught her in her favorite rose garden.

JENNY ODELL: I’m usually here at least a couple of times a week. I live in an apartment building, so I don’t have a yard. So I kind of consider this my backyard.

HU: She’s going to help us dig into the why of travel because understanding the purpose and being true to that can bring us more satisfaction. That’s takeaway number three – remember the why.

Why? Why should we go? Why should we get away?

ODELL: Yeah. Oh, are you asking me that?

HU: Yeah. Yeah. It might be different for you, but try on this framing. We travel for perspective and surprise.

ODELL: You know, if you live with a pretty solid schedule or routine, there’s certain things that you can start to take for granted. And just simply removing yourself from those circumstances, wherever you might end up removing yourself to is really helpful for getting some kind of new perspective on yourself and your life.

HU: You said perspective but also surprise.

ODELL: Yeah. I mean, I think the other thing that comes with routine is that you kind of expect things or you kind of maybe don’t perceive things outside of what you’re expecting. And I think, you know, the experience of traveling is, for a lot of people, opening yourself up to being surprised. Like, you’re willing to be surprised. You’re expecting to be surprised. I think that’s a very different mentality than you have in your everyday life.


HU: For Odell, her approach is to strike a balance between a little structure and a lot of room for surprises.

ODELL: Like, I’m sitting in the middle of a garden right now. It’s a perfect example also of, like, there’s a lot of work that goes into this garden. It’s designed in a way to let you spend time here, and that’s not arbitrary. Like, if this were just a random field, you know, there wouldn’t be all these places to sit. You have to strike this balance between sort of designing something and researching something but also just understanding that the actual life of it is going to come from the place, not from the design. The design is just there to make that accessible to you.

HU: So strike a balance between structure and nature.

ODELL: Yeah. And by nature, I just mean like kind of what is already there, like preexisting processes and things and beings.

HU: For example, you can see the volcano at sunrise but spend another few hours exploring the natural world of the national park. Be open to a sign that could take you down a new path. Remember that why. Travel is meaningful if it helps us expand our perspective and if we can be surprised.

And why do you think these two values or objectives are important?

ODELL: I equate them with feeling alive. If you take routine to its logical extreme, you’re just sort of an automaton, right? Like, you’re going through the motions. Like, you’re doing the things that you’re supposed to be doing for the reasons you’re supposed to be doing them, maybe without a lot of room for questioning or thinking about something else you might rather be doing. And so being surprised and getting a perspective, I think, are two different ways of kind of, like, shaking free of that framework and continuing to change as a person.


HU: Takeaway number four is about really going somewhere when you leave home. Is your travel about exploring a place, or is it about checking off a box? To get somewhere and be open, treat travel as an experience and not as a product.

ODELL: It’s almost like people go to the Grand Canyon expecting to, like, consume a postcard or something, that it’s not an actual physical space with physical characteristics. There was one Tripadvisor review of the Grand Canyon where he said – it was, like, a three-star review. And he said, once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it, which is just, like, a really interesting description of the Grand Canyon, which was, like, formed over so long. And it’s such an amazing – I mean, like, it just goes to show – right? – this kind of image-based idea of travel where it’s like, I saw a photo. I want to go possibly take that photo myself or be in it, and then I will leave.


HU: You can do more than just see it. To go somewhere, really go somewhere, treat yourself to travel that is an experience, not a product to be consumed.

ODELL: Even in those kind of, you know, difficult or, like, logistically annoying moments, just recognizing that you’re somewhere new, and it’s something you haven’t experienced before.

HU: Which gets us to the next tip – takeaway five, for finding fulfillment and getting away – seek out what makes the place you’re in truly different from the last place you were in. Focus on what makes the place unique.

ODELL: Just kind of doing enough research ahead of time to find things that are specific to a place that you can’t just experience somewhere else.

HU: Volunteer while on a trip, so you’re not spending time in tourist traps. Give back to the local communities while learning about them at the same time. Forge friendships in a foreign place. Odell grounds herself in a sense of place by seeking out nature.

ODELL: I think you have a vague sense – right? – like, if you go somewhere new. Oh, like, these are new trees. Or I don’t know what kind of bird that is that I’m hearing or something like that.

HU: She keeps an app called iNaturalist on her phone. It helps identify the creatures and plants wherever she goes. Each place you travel has its own unique ecology, so you can take it in.

ODELL: This kind of gives me, like, some traction. Like, I can start to, like, learn, you know, the names of things or just get, like, a little more detail about the ecological communities that live somewhere, that are native to a place. And personally, I’ve started to feel like if – before I’ve done that, I haven’t truly arrived in a place. Especially if you’re, you know, spending a lot of time in kind of sterilized, commercial spaces that look the same as everywhere else. Like, I like to kind of try to find things to latch on to that are truly different about a place.


HU: Part of the reason I went to the artist who wrote “How To Do Nothing” about finding meaning in travel is because she went on a year-and-a-half-long road trip across America without even leaving her home.

ODELL: I did this project that honestly started out as kind of a gimmick.

HU: She called it Travel by Approximation.

ODELL: It was a virtual road trip across the U.S. via Google Street View that I took. And it basically – the fictional travel narrative is two months, but it took me a year and a half to do because I used Street View to navigate and find stuff. And then once I found things that way, I would look them up on Tripadvisor, Yelp, YouTube. I’d just kind of try to get the overall picture of, you know, how this thing shows up online and all the experiences people had had of it. It’s called Travel by Approximation because I tried to really approximate real travel.

HU: She would pick actual restaurants where she would eat if she went and calculate the drive time to them and how much gas it would take.

ODELL: I would order off the menu if possible. I was really trying to ask this question of, when do you actually know a place? Or like, when – how – like, what does it mean to actually have been to a place and to know it?

HU: In doing the project, she was also making a statement – overplanning your vacations means, in some ways, you’ve already gone on them in your head. The trip itself then becomes just executing it and not being transformed by new surroundings.

How do you do more than just see a place? Like, how do you go somewhere and actually go there and be there?

ODELL: I think that it – you know, it has to do – some of it has to do with just observation.

HU: Don’t just snap a photo. Observe. Take in the space and your surroundings. You can do that by talking to locals, the people who live there.

ODELL: It takes humility. And also, if you’re a person who loves to plan everything in advance, it probably sounds a little bit scary.

HU: The locals can guide you to good places that you didn’t plan for.

ODELL: For me, like, talking to strangers is a really big part of it. Asking people – you know, asking strangers for recommendations is so different than having things recommended to you algorithmically because people have personal reasons for enjoying things. They have context around that. Leaving enough unplanned space to acknowledge that the meaning is going to come from the place, not from you ahead of time planning your trip. Like, that’s impossible.

HU: Coming up – travel writer Torre DeRoche on going away without going too far. Stick around.

Both our experts, Torre DeRoche and Jenny Odell emphasize shifting our mindset to experience the newness and surprise you can get from travel.

ODELL: We are sort of, like, culturally used to applying one type of mindset in one situation, and then we kind of have a different mindset that we apply at home. And I think, like, very quickly, you will be humbled by the things that you don’t know about that are sort of right in your backyard.

HU: What is it about our mindset that changes when we go very, very far away? And how would you recommend we take that mindset from far away and apply it in our own rose gardens or in our own backyards?

ODELL: I think it has just a lot to do with what you’re looking for. And what you’re looking for has to do with what you think you’re doing.

HU: Jenny reminds us that you don’t have to pack a bag at all to see a place with new eyes. And that’s our last tip – take that fresh-eyes mindset home. You can take a different way to work. Find a new jogging route. Or just take a moment to appreciate the view from your own porch a little longer.

ODELL: If you think you’re on vacation, then you are basically setting out to experience leisure time, right? Like that’s your goal. I mean, people travel in different ways. It depends on your job. But you’re probably working. Like, you have a routine where you get up at a certain time, and you maybe take the same train, and you go to the same place.

It’s like, you know, maybe you haven’t had a day in a long time where you were in your own neighborhood, but you weren’t trying to work, and so you didn’t have that kind of framework. So I just think I – I mean, I’ve just been surprised in my own experience where if you take what you you’re trying to do on vacation, which is to not work and experience new things, and you just do that at home, it will completely change the things that you notice and that you perceive.


HU: Just go outside and walk around. Walk aimlessly, like Jenny Odell does.

ODELL: You go outside, and you’re like, I don’t even know what I’m looking for. I’m looking for anything. Then you will see anything. Like, you’ll see all of these things outside of the categories of what you’re usually looking for.

HU: What kind of value have you derived from just observing your surroundings, whether you’re far away or close to home?

ODELL: I think that it’s just enlarged my capacity to be surprised. I think that’s almost like a faculty that you exercise. And it can be narrow, or it can be wide, and I think you can widen it on purpose.

HU: Curiosity can open up new worlds to us.

ODELL: It just becomes very quickly evident that I will never really get to the bottom of things that I’m observing. And that is such a delightful feeling, and it’s so different from consuming a product. It’s also different from looking things up online where the answer is yes or no. It’s kind of the opposite of that. It’s like a seemingly simple point that opens onto a kind of infinity as long as you’re willing to go down that path. I’m sort of addicted to the feeling of curiosity, and so it’s been really wonderful for me to find out that I can have that anywhere.

HU: This was a heady episode packed with meaning. So let’s review the takeaways from Torre, who sailed around the world for a few years, and Jenny, who gets the soul-boosting benefits of travel without leaving home. Takeaway one – meaning is what you make it. A meaningful time isn’t necessarily a good time or a bad time. You bring the context to your experiences, and that might not be the postcard version of a place.

DEROCHE: It doesn’t have to be anything apart from what you make it.

HU: Tip number two to finding fulfillment – never stop being slightly afraid.

DEROCHE: You realize the world isn’t as scary as maybe you come to believe. And that just enriches my life and my experience of life.

HU: So engineer your travel so that you’re doing things that scare you a little. Three, remember the why. Being open to perspective and surprise is a good frame. Takeaway four is treat your travel as an experience, not as a product to simply snap some pictures of.

ODELL: Leaving enough unplanned space to acknowledge that the meaning is going to come from the place, not from you ahead of time planning your trip.

HU: Takeaway five – seek out what makes the place you’re in truly different from the last place you were in.

ODELL: Some of it has to do with just observation.

HU: Do more than just see a place. Be there. And finally, you don’t have to leave home to be transformed. Bring the open perspective you have on a trip to your daily experiences.


HU: Thanks so much to travel writer Torre DeRoche and artist Jenny Odell for speaking with me. And that was back in 2019.

Before I go, we have to say goodbye to our beloved news assistant, Aja Drain. Aja is a ray of sunshine. She’s been such a ray of sunshine consistently on this team since she started as an intern in January. She is persistent. She is kind. Her enthusiasm is infectious. I love her ideas. We share an appreciation for all things fast food – like the return of the Mexican pizza that we were able to celebrate together recently. The good news about Aja is she’s staying in the public radio family, so we’re not really losing her completely. She’s just going to become a cousin over at member station WAMU in Washington, D.C. But we are going to miss her so much on this team. Good luck, Aja.

This episode was produced by Janet Woojeong Lee and edited by Tamar Charney. Our director of programming is Yolanda Sangweni. And our big boss is NPR’s senior VP of programming, Anya Grundmann. So until next time, take care, y’all. I’m Elise Hu. We’ll talk soon.

Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Travel expert reveals tips for a faster passport application

The last thing you want is to be worried about your new passport arriving in time (Picture: Getty)

With two years of no foreign travel, we might have forgotten how to do it – you might have also realised your passport has nearly expired.

There is nothing more stressful than planning the trip of a lifetime only to realise that out of date documents could put a spanner in the works. And getting a new one isn’t as simple as you might thing.

At the moment, travelers are waiting weeks for their renewed passports, and the chaos is only set to continue this summer. Searches for ‘TNT passport tracking have already soared by 4,250%, but is there a way to make sure you get your passport on time?

Thankfully, the travel experts at Next Vacay have revealed exactly what you need to check on your passport, and application tips and tricks to speed up the process as much as possible.

Check your passport to see when it was issued

‘After travel took a pause for many holidaymakers during the pandemic, plenty of passports need to be renewed,’ says Naveen Dittakavi, founder and CEO of Next Vacay.

To beat any disappointments for your summer vacations, Naveen says you should make sure that it has been no more than ten years since your passport was issued.

‘You also need the minimum of three or six months to gain entry into many destinations, including popular travel spots such as Eygpt, Thailand, and Dubai,’ he adds.

‘It may be worth seeing if you can push your vacation back to a later date if either of these issues applies to your passport, otherwise you may end up losing out on your vacation.’

Ensure your details are correct

‘I would recommend thoroughly checking your application before you send it off,’ says Naveen.

Check, check and check again.

He adds: ‘Many delays are made through typical errors – such as incorrect photos or typos – which can worsen your chances of receiving a passport in time for a summer trip.’

Go for digital rather than paper

Naveen says there are many variables that affect how long it will take to get your passport renewed – whether it’s a first-time passport or a child’s renewal. But choosing the best application format can make a difference.

‘When it comes to the method of how you apply, digital applications generally take a shorter amount of time as parts of the application are less likely to get lost, plus the online process will be more efficient,’ says Naveen.

‘Keep this in mind if you don’t want to end up stuck in the backlog.’

Make an appointment in person or over the phone

With the current demand for travel in recent months, Naveen says that even the fast-track services for passport renewal are becoming overwhelmed – so there is no quick fix to receiving your passport on time.

‘However, if you are traveling for urgent family matters – such as a funeral –  you may be able to expedite the process,’ he says.

‘Alternatively, look to book an appointment to one of the various passport centers across the country – that way you can speed up the process in person and have someone on hand should there be any errors.’

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