By Joe Rector

It’s vacation time, and Amy and I’d saved for ours for a long time. My organized and savvy wife hit the Internet and booked our trip. It ended a couple of weeks ago, and we are back to the grind once again; however, the break refreshed us and gave us a chance to rest for a while. Based on what we experienced, I’ve decided to offer a few tips to those who are traveling over the summer.

First, make sure you understand booking flights online. Over the years, we’ve grown accustom to standing in line to check bags and receive boarding passes. Checking in electronically takes away that pass. I was more than a bit confused as to where I would sit. A hateful Delta worker met us at the gate and offered no help. We eventually understood that a seat would be assigned at the gate, but ours weren’t together.

If you travel often, buy a TSA Pre-check pass. It allows purchasers to go through shorter security lines where they can keep their shoes on. Most importantly, folks with passes don’t stand in lines for long times. In the Panama City Airport, we stood in a holding area for several minutes before we were allowed proceed to the security clearance lines. All of these points lead to the biggest piece of advice: arrive earlier than you think is necessary or take a chance of missing you flight.

Make sure to check the rating of the establishment where you stay. We booked place at a Wyndham spot through Resort Quest. It was 30 stories tall. The condo in which we stayed was nice. The amenities were also nice. Our view from the 23rd floor abode was magnificent.

The problems were multiple. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. because of our flight schedule. Yes, we knew that check-in time was 4:00 p.m. However, we hoped that the staff would be able to get us in our room before that time. We sat for a while and then decided to visit the beach. Chairs and an umbrella were included in the booking, but we encounter trouble with that because we had not been assigned a room. The attendant allowed us to use the facilities anyway. I checked at the front desk for our room number. Our paperwork lay at the same place that it had when we arrived; it was now about 1:00 p.m.

A storm hit and scattered folks on the beach. We had no place to go, so we sat in the lobby across from the front desk. At about 3:45, we received a text with our room number and key pad numbers. I had to then go to the second floor to get a cart to load our luggage. One wasn’t available. When I finally loaded our belongings and returned from the garage, Amy and I discovered the worst problem. The elevators were slow and too few were available for 500 units.

All of this is to say that I suggest that you don’t stay in large facilities. I won’t book again a place where I can’t walk the stairs if the elevators are too slow or busy. I also will make sure that early check-in is available when our flight causes us to arrive before time. I’ll also make sure the staff cares about customer service and takes steps to get vacationers in their rooms in a timely fashion. That means they might have to send someone from the cleaning staff to clean a room instead of one where no one has been waiting for hours.

I’m not a griping, old man who finds fault with everything. Amy and I had a wonderful time after we finally broke through to our room. We filled our days sitting on the beach and reading. When rain came, we sat on the deck and watched the clouds and rain blow in. I do, expect, however, better customer service from those who are making a living on the travels of others. Make sure you check every step of your trip, but still expect problems to arise. They must be a part of vacations.