Welcome to the "The Smart Traveler". Your August 2006 newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling smoother.
Tips for Women Traveling Alone
These basic tips will improve safety
for women travelers
Each year, more and more Americans travel
abroad, but according to the U.S. State Department the sharpest
increase is among women traveling alone. Whether they are on a
business trip or a vacation, women traveling alone are more likely
than men to encounter problems in certain cultures.
When in Rome...
Every country and culture has its own views of what is appropriate
behavior for women, and the reaction to violations of those
standards can range from quiet disapproval to criminal charges and
punishment. For example, in Laos it is illegal to invite a Lao
citizen of the opposite sex to your hotel room, and in Saudi Arabia
foreign travelers have been arrested for “improper dress.”
While few Americans
would agree with these views or the double standard for women, it is
obviously in the best interest of women traveling alone to become
familiar with the laws and customs of countries you plan to visit,
and to abide by them once you arrive.
Tips for Solo Travel
Following a few simple tips can help make your trip safe and
Passports and Visas: Make sure your passport is still valid,
and if it’s not apply for a new one 3-4 months before you plan to
travel. Make sure you have any other necessary travel documents or
visas for the countries you plan to visit.
What to Leave Behind: Leave the following at home with a
friend or relative or relative at home:
Your detailed itinerary. Include names, addresses and
telephone numbers of every place you will be staying.
Photocopies of your passport identification page
Your flight and ticket information
Don’t Carry Valuables: Leave all valuables, such as extra
credit cards and jewelry, at home. Even costume jewelry poses an
unnecessary risk to your safety, because thieves are not likely to
know it’s not the real thing until after they steal it.
Health Insurance: Make sure you have adequate health
insurance coverage for your trip abroad and that your coverage
includes medical evacuations. If your policy does not cover you
overseas, you may need to purchase supplemental traveler's
Medications: If you take prescription drugs, make sure you
have enough to last the length of your trip, including enough extra
medication to keep you supplied in case of delays, and bring along
your prescription information and the names of the generic
equivalents in case you need them.
Always carry your prescriptions in their
labeled containers, because many countries have strict laws against
drug trafficking and may be suspicious of pills in unlabeled
Safety and Security: Stay alert, use common sense, and be
aware of your surroundings. If you think you are being followed,
step into a store or another safe place and wait to see whether the
person passes by. Don’t be embarrassed to ask someone to make sure
everything is safe before you venture out again. If you are still
unsure, call your hotel for assistance.
Be Confident: Look, act and move as though you know where
you're going and what you’re doing. This will prevent you from
looking like an easy target and may help you avoid potential danger.
Ask for Directions: Before you set out from your hotel, ask
the concierge or other hotel staff for directions to the places you
plan to visit each day. This will help you avoid unsafe areas and
also prevent you from looking confused and potentially vulnerable.
If you get lost, ask directions from a family or a woman with
Hotel Safety: Choose a hotel where security is good and
public transportation or taxis are readily available and close by.
Once in your room, check to make sure that all of the doors and
windows have working locks. If you feel uncomfortable, ask hotel
security to escort you to and from parking lots or your room at
night. Always use your peephole before opening your door.
Clothing: It’s always best to dress conservatively and
inconspicuously when traveling. Whenever possible, take your fashion
cues from local women. In some cultures, what you consider
attractive casual clothing may be seen as provocative or
inappropriate, even offensive, which could spark harassment. In
addition, your style of dress, or the amount of makeup and jewelry
you wear, could make you a more likely target for thieves.
Frequent flyers always complain that families traveling with
children ruin flights. They have tantrums, kick seats, splash food
and generally misbehave. However, some of the most obnoxious
in-flight behavior is often perpetrated by business travelers who
feel they are entitled to special treatment just because they fly so
Most problems occur in the cramped, overcrowded coach sections of
airplanes. Airline etiquette missteps usually center around luggage,
personal space and talking. Follow these simple steps and your
flight will be easier for everyone, including yourself.
Don't carry-on excessive luggage or oversize bags. Most airlines are
cracking down and space is limited.
Board quickly. Don't linger at the entryway -- it backs up traffic
in the jetway.
Carry your bag in front of you as you walk down the aisle.
Over-the-shoulder luggage can hit passengers that are already
seated. It's not a good way to make friends.
Store your bag under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin
adjacent to your seat. Don't put your bag in a bin near the front of
the plane for a quick exit -- it means someone else will have to
wait until the entire plane has emptied to walk back to get their
Don't store your bags in another's space. Wait until the door
closes. If there is empty space, then you can use it.
If you need to move another's belongings while placing items in
overhead bins, ask them.
Place your coat and jacket on top of your luggage in the overhead
bins. Don't place them next to your luggage -- it takes up too much
Sit in your assigned seat until everyone has boarded. You can switch
seats when you determine the empty spots.
If you are traveling alone and someone asks to switch seats to join
a family member or colleague - be a sport. You might need the same
favor some day.
If you're listening to music with a Walkman, don't crank up the
sound too much -- it is irritating to listen to.
Don't recline your seat all the way. Airlines may be expanding the
legroom in coach, but it is still cramped.
Don't invade your neighbor's "personal space". Be considerate, the
Golden Rule applies in the air.
Feet often swell on long flights and many passengers remove their
shoes for comfort. Feet often smell on long flights also. If you do
take off your shoes, please wear slipper sox to contain the wafting
aroma. Believe me, people notice.
Don't be a bore. There is nothing worse than being held captive be a
talkative seat mate. Don't force your conversation on the person
next to you.
If someone is driving you crazy with their (dull) life story -- it
is permissible to tell them you're too busy, tired, sick or whatever
to talk. But don't be rude. Some people are nervous fliers and talk
Don't grab the seat in front of you when you are getting up -- it is
very disruptive to the person sitting there. Use your armrests to
Don't kick the seat in front of you.
Don't stand in front of the in-flight movie. You may not like the
feature, but don't spoil it for everyone.
Don't hold business meetings in the aisle. It is very annoying to
fellow passengers. Also, you never know when a competitor is
Don't clog up the aisles while the flight attendants are using the
food and beverage carts. Let them do their jobs.
Be careful with food trays and hot liquids. Take care when you open
the plastic salad dressing, condiment and beverage containers. They
If you do spill something on someone, apologize and offer to pay for
The bathroom is not a make-up table or dressing room. Be quick and
clean up after yourself.
Alcohol's impact is magnified at high altitudes. Don't get drunk.
This is not your office -- don't spread out your work papers
everywhere. Be neat.
Don't try to read your seatmates work documents or laptop screen. It
is really obnoxious.
Don't sleep on your seatmate’s shoulder, unless they want you to.
This is not your bedroom -- be considerate of your fellow
Don't jump up and try to be the first one off - unless you're in Row
1. Wait your turn. It is only a matter of minutes and it makes it
easier for everyone. The flight attendants are right -- items can
shift during flight in the overhead compartments. Be very careful
opening the bins. I've seen some nasty accidents onboard.
If someone is having trouble getting their bag out of the overhead
compartment, offer to help. It's a nice thing to do and can also
prevent those nasty accidents.
If you do need to make a tight connection, let the flight attendant
know. They can sometimes move you up to the front before you reach
the gate. Remember to carry your luggage in front of you as you
Don't linger in the jetway waiting for your colleagues. Wait up at
the gate -- away from the entrance so everyone can exit quickly.
Although most of these etiquette tips are common sense, it's amazing
how "uncommon" sense can be.
for planning smooth connections
Planning is even more
important these days, when fuller planes make it harder for airlines
to put passengers who miss their connections onto later flights.
Airlines are not required to hold planes for incoming passengers on
delayed flights, although they do so on occasion.
adequate time between flights. One hour is generally the minimum
necessary to allow for the possibility of a delayed arrival, to make
your way from one gate to the other, and to have your checked
luggage transferred between planes. Some airports require greater
margins even for domestic flights, and more if the journey involves
an international connection. Be wary of signing up for routings that
involve tighter connections.
the size of the airport when accepting minimal connection times. At
big hubs, airlines do not necessarily assign arrival and departure
gates based on the convenience of connecting passengers.
out your flight's on-time performance history. Some flights almost
always arrive late, and airlines are required to provide statistics
on late arrivals.
the difference between "direct" and "nonstop." Flights listed as
"direct" will make stops en route but will continue with the same
flight number. During severe travel disruptions, even direct flights
can have a portion of the route canceled.
flights during peak travel hours, and seek out those that depart
early in the day. Flight delays tend to get worse as the day goes
on. Flights that start the day at an airport are listed as
"originators" and are less likely to be delayed since they don't
depend on a plane to arrive from another location.
Remember: Without a travel agent you're on