Welcome to the "The Smart Traveler". Your August 2006 newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling smoother.


10 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 rewarding.

1.      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.

2.      What to Leave Behind: Leave the following at home with a friend or relative or relative at home:

o        Your detailed itinerary. Include names, addresses and telephone numbers of every place you will be staying.

o        Photocopies of your passport identification page

o        Your flight and ticket information

3.      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.

4.      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 insurance.

5.      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 bottles.

6.      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.

7.      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.

8.      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 children.

9.      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.

10.  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.

  
New flight restrictions were issued following an alleged terror plot.

 
The new rules include:

• No liquids or gels of any kind in carry-on baggage. The items must be in checked luggage. They include all beverages, shampoo, sun tan lotion, creams, toothpaste, and hair gel.

• Baby formula and medicines are exempt from the ban, but must be presented for inspection.

• All flights from the United Kingdom must send passenger information for intensive screening before departure. Passengers on international flights will be subject to heightened inspection upon arrival in the U.S

 In addition, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United advised passengers to arrive three hours early for flights.

The TSA has not banned U.S. passengers from carrying laptops, cell phones, MP3 players or BlackBerrys onto planes

 
Travel Tips for Business Travelers on Airplanes

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 frequently.

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.

Boarding:

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 bag.

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 space.

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.

Settling In:

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.

In Flight:

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 compulsively.

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 get up.

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 listening.

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 spatter easily.

If you do spill something on someone, apologize and offer to pay for dry-cleaning.

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 passengers.

Heading Out:

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 depart.

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.


Tips 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.

 

Allow 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.

 

Consider 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.

 

Check out your flight's on-time performance history. Some flights almost always arrive late, and airlines are required to provide statistics on late arrivals.

 

Understand 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.

 

Avoid 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 your own


 

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