Travel Tips from L. A. Adventure Travel Show

Linda Ballou

“The ability to speed through immigration and customs after landing from an international flight, without wasting time waiting in line, is perhaps one of the greatest modern improvements to travel.” –AFAR Magazine 

The latest and most efficient aids to travel were on display at the L.A. Adventure Travel show. Author and Messenger Mountain News travel reporter Linda Ballou reports on this year’s travel advances. 

Global Entry, long touted as the fastest way to skirt custom lines, requires you to check in on a kiosk and charges an annual fee. The mobile passport app allows you to go directly to the exit door security officer, and it is free. No more standing in a customs conga line for an hour after an exhausting flight. You should set up the app before leaving home to speed up the process when you re-enter the U.S.: available on Google Play and in the Apple Store.

Jared Kamrowski, owner of, says that Google Flights is the best source for tracking down the cheapest airfares. Google is intent on making their app better than other third-party sites like Expedia and Enter your desired dates of travel and destination and you will receive alerts as to the best fares for your itinerary. When you decide to purchase, the site will deliver you directly to the airline. You should always make your flight reservations directly with the airline without third-party commissions and the most complete inventory of flight offerings. Download the app for the airline you use so that you get up-to-date notifications about flight or gate changes. Sign up on this site for more $$ saving tips.

Note: Southwest Airlines does not participate in Google Flights. Their fares are always low and they don’t charge baggage fees.

Once you have your airline and flight number, go to and see a chart that highlights the best seats in green and the worst ones in red. For a long flight it is worth a little extra effort to be as comfortable as possible. Request your seat selection and ask about upgrades to Economy Plus with your awards miles. There are numerous awards programs through credit cards. The best card for chocking up mileage awards at the moment is Capital One Venture Card.

I am not one of the lucky few who can sleep on a plane, so I welcomed the opportunity to test and review the Dream Sling. This travel pillow is the answer to a corkscrew back and crick in your neck after a long flight, train, or bus ride. It straps onto you like a beauty contest winner’s sash. You rest your head on the microbead pillow that is counter-balanced by the weight of your arms resting in the sling. No more fights over the arm rest or the window seat. I couldn’t see a place to hook it onto my rolling bag, so you must wear the Dream Sling making you look like a puffy bandito but, if it works, I’m game.

If you are short on cash you can work your way around the world by applying at If there is a will, there is a way. The silver lining to the Corona-Virus is that 130 million Chinese tourists have been grounded. This means that savvy travelers can take advantage of the competitive rates hotels and airlines will be offering in 2020 to make up the deficit. I am sorry the virus has caused so much unhappiness for so many, but now is the time to travel.

Lastly, I would like to give a shout out to, the best answer to the LAX-it shuttle-to-parking-lot debacle. My 14-hour flight from Australia landed at 6 a.m. Randy was not only on time, he waited for me for 45 minutes while I went through customs and collected my baggage. He navigated surface streets, avoiding the 405 rush hour, and delivered me to my home in half an hour. Thank goodness we have that choice available to us in Topanga.

Happy Travels in 2020.


Linda Ballou

Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, shares a host of articles and information about her travel books on her site You will find information about her novels and media offerings at

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