Feature

The Check-In: There's no real hurry for the Real ID, holiday travel tips for pet owners, and more

You can put off that trip to the DMV again

Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focusing on all things travel.

So, about that Real ID deadline...

In November, after years of delays, the federal government finally set May 3, 2023, as the day U.S. travelers flying domestically would have to start showing Transportation Security Administration agents at the airport a Real ID instead of a standard driver's license. Don't worry about running down to the DMV, though — on Monday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it is extending the deadline to May 7, 2025. DHS said because of backlogs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, state motor vehicle departments need more time to process applications.

The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, setting minimum security standards for driver's licenses and ID cards, and initially, Real IDs were supposed to go into effect in 2008. There is a way to get around Real IDs at airports, once this is finally enforced — passports or Enhanced Driver's Licenses are both valid alternatives.

A TSA security line.

Lindsey Nicholson/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Are passengers on U.S. flights closer to making phone calls mid-air?

It's looking like airplane mode will soon be a thing of the past in Europe — but the United States isn't quite there yet. The European Commission ruled in November that airlines can provide 5G wireless technology on their planes, meaning passengers flying in Europe will likely be able to make phone calls, stream music and videos, and use apps before the end of 2023. While U.S. carriers are making retrofits to their planes because of 5G, it's not so passengers can use it right away — instead, it's to protect against 5G altering the readings of an aircraft's radio altimeter, which measures altitude and is used by pilots during bad weather landings. Learn more about 5G and the European Commission's decision here.

A person uses their smartphone at an airport.

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

How to make holiday traveling safer for your pets

Whether you're flying to your parents' house for Christmas or driving to the mountains for a winter ski trip, if you're traveling with pets, they are part of your most precious cargo. Dr. Sarah Nold, staff veterinarian for Trupanion, shared with The Week some tips on how to ensure your road dog (or cat) stays safe on the journey:

Do your research. Before booking a hotel room or vacation rental, check out the photos and see if it looks like a space where your pet will be comfortable. "Most places that advertise as pet-friendly want to protect their rooms, and the typical hazards are usually addressed," Nold said. You know your pet better than anyone, so if they have a quirk, like a penchant for chewing on plants, ask to have greenery removed before you arrive. If you're flying, call the airline and ask if there are maximum weight and minimum age requirements for animal passengers, as well as what size carrier can go on the plane. "Don't assume anything," Nold said. "Plan in advance and ask questions ahead of time."

Bring all of the essentials. Pack your pet's usual food — enough to last the entire trip, and a little extra to be safe — and any medications. If you're driving, it's good to have extra towels packed in the car, in case of any accidents, and be sure to pack any favorite toys and a bed, if it will fit. If your pet has a chronic health condition, think about bringing their medical records and copies of recent lab work, should you need to make an unscheduled vet visit at a new facility; it can be difficult to get in touch with your regular vet during the holidays, and having the information on hand saves valuable time.

A dog rides in a car.

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Practice, practice, practice. Before you leave for your trip, spend time getting your dog or cat acclimated to being in a carrier. It's safest for them to be in a carrier or kennel in the car, and you won't have to worry about them jumping out when you open the door. Also, check that their harness and collar fit properly, and keep in mind that both can slip off, along with tags — if they aren't already, think about getting your pet microchipped so it's easier to find them should they get loose.

Consider keeping your pets at home. Some animals just don't do well in unfamiliar places or situations and will feel less anxiety and stress if they stay at home with a trusted pet sitter or at a local, well-regarded boarding facility. You can check in on them regularly, and set up video chats to make the separation a little easier.

5-star gift ideas: laēlap Daisy vest and Bearaby Pupper Pod

It's important to ensure every member of the family is comfortable during holiday travel, pets included. The delightful Daisy fleece vest from laēlap, a small batch dog apparel brand, is proof your pup can be super cozy and stylish all at the same time. The ultra-soft sherpa fleece exterior and imitation fur interior will keep your dog nice and warm, and the summery daisy pattern will make you smile. The vest is inclusive, coming in sizes XXS to XL.

A dog wears the laēlap Daisy vest.

Courtesy of laēlap

Sweet dreams are made of this. Bearaby's Pupper Pod is a bed designed to calm your dog, molding to your pet's shape so they feel cradled and secure. The bed — now available in small and medium sizes and three different colors — is made of material that is breathable and durable, and it comes with a bag so it's easy to take along on trips. Your pet will get a good night's sleep, and so will you, knowing they're comfortable.

A Pupper Pod.

Courtesy of Bearaby

Plan accordingly: Upcoming events to add to your calendar

Start 2023 off with a bang at Edinburgh's Hogmanay. This is a celebration that spans three days, from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1, featuring Midnight Moment, a firework and light spectacular visible across Edinburgh; a candlelit concert at St. Giles' Cathedral; a performance by the Pet Shop Boys at the West Princes Street Gardens; a torchlit procession; and a massive street party. Hogmanay is what Scots call New Year's Eve, and the festivities date back to Viking celebrations of the winter solstice.

Edinburgh's Hogmanay.

Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images

For more travel news and features, sign up for The Week U.K.'s Travel newsletter, delivered to your inbox every two weeks.

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