Traveling this Summer?

Black Public Media
4 min readMay 29, 2024

by Leslie Fields-Cruz

I hope you had an enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend. I spent it on the West Coast visiting my parents. I’m someone who has long loved traveling. Lately, however, the process of getting from one place to another and staying healthy and safe while you’re away has become a lot more complicated. Are you traveling this summer? If so, read on.

LPB Executive Director Sandie Pedlow speaking at the PBS Annual Meeting (Credit: Cheryl D. Fields)

I attended the PBS Annual Meeting this month and somewhere along the way caught Covid-19. Though I had packed a mask, I never actually used it. Foolish me! My symptoms didn’t appear until the conference was over, but I ended up having to cancel several meetings and miss social gatherings in the days afterwards so that I could recuperate and avoid spreading the virus. If you travel this summer, be aware that Covid is still around and act accordingly.

In just the last week, I learned of two acquaintances who experienced regrettable travel incidents, despite being seasoned globetrotters. One was robbed on the streets of Rio de Janeiro during a site visit for a media project he is working on. The thief took his phone then proceeded to purge his bank account.

The second person suffered a head and neck injury on her way home from the Cannes Film Festival. That injury occurred when a fellow airline passenger lost control of their heavy carry-on luggage while retrieving it from the overhead bin. The bag hit my friend in the head and she ended up in the emergency room undergoing a CT scan. Now, she’s waiting to find out if she has a concussion.

Pro Tips for Travelers

Are you traveling abroad for a production shoot or just plain old summer vacation? Well the likelihood of you or someone you know experiencing travel drama has increased. Below are a few precautions to help reduce your risks.

Tip 1 — Get travel insurance

I don’t have to tell a BPM producer how important this is, but if you’re not the producer, make sure the production you’re working on has travel insurance. It is sometimes tempting for cost-conscious production companies to skip this step, but that can be a costly mistake. For solo travelers, get insurance not just for yourself, but for any equipment you take on your journey. And read the fine print to make sure what you need covered is indeed covered.

Tip 2 — Enroll in STEP

We’re living in volatile times. If you’re traveling abroad, I highly recommend registering with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, STEP. The free service not only provides travel advisories before you go, you’ll also be alerted by the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate office should a conflict or other emergency erupt while you’re there. STEP enrollees are also sent instructions on how to stay safe, access help and/or evacuate, if necessary.

Tip 3 — Keep your meds close and know the drug laws

Traveling with pharmaceuticals can get tricky. First, be sure you have enough to last the duration of your trip. Airlines advise passengers to keep their meds either on their body or in their carry-on baggage. I can think of a thousand better things to do than trying to fill a prescription that gets lost with a missing piece of luggage. And as Brittney Griner and Nicki Minaj have discovered, if you’re used to moving around with what you consider “harmless drugs” among your belongings, check their legal status in the places you’re visiting. The rules about what is and isn’t allowed are different from country to country, state to state, and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. You’re better safe than sorry.

Tip 4 — Pack a snack

With delays and cancellations more common these days, every flight is subject to the unexpected. I find it helpful to pack a snack and a refillable water vessel. You’re still not allowed to carry drinks through TSA, but many U.S. airports have water filling stations situated throughout their terminals. So you can fill up once you clear inspection. Knowing that you can nibble and hydrate yourself without swiping your debit card or standing in a fast food queue can be a comfort.

Tip 5 — Share your itinerary

Make sure someone in your network has a copy of your travel itinerary. When you get where you’re going, check in with that person. Heaven forbid something serious should happen during your voyage, but life is unpredictable. If something does go wrong, you’ll want someone you trust to know where you were going, by what means of conveyance and when you expected to arrive.

I wish you all a glorious summer. I also hope you are able to come and go without incident.

IDA Open Call

Finally, we want you to know that IDA’s Enterprise Documentary Fund and the Pare Lorentz Fund have joined forces to accept submissions for both programs through one Open Call portal. Go here for details about these opportunities and how to submit.

— Fields-Cruz is the executive director of Black Public Media

--

--

Black Public Media

Black Public Media (BPM) develops, produces, funds, and distributes media content about the African American and global Black experience.