Welcome to the August 2008 issue of "Smart Traveler". The newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling smoother.
“In The Know” When The Wind Blows!
With the arrival of hurricane season, some of our clients are expressing concern about cruising during
severe weather. We want to provide you with most current
information to help allay your concerns.
• Cruise Lines make the safety of its guests, crew and vessels their
• Unlike other vacation settings, by virtue of being a completely
mobile vacation, cruising allows passengers to continue their
vacations by altering itineraries should Mother Nature intervene.
• Modern cruise ships feature technologically-advanced weather
forecasting systems that enable them to reposition a ship well in
advance of significant weather-related disturbances.
• In the event that ports of embarkation and debarkation are closed
due to severe weather conditions, cruise lines can use a nearby
alternative port. In these cases, cruise lines coordinate the
logistics of loading food and supplies and getting passengers to and
from the original port.
• Be mindful that cruise lines can change an itinerary in order to
keep out of
harm’s way. Safety always remains the first priority. Travelers
should monitor cruise line Web sites and contact their travel agent
for modifications to itineraries prior to finalizing travel.
• The purchase of travel insurance, always an important element of
any vacation, assumes additional significance in instances of severe
New Pillow, Blanket
In-flight napping will cost you. JetBlue announces a
new $7 charge for pillows and blankets.
JetBlue Airways Corp. said Monday it is now charging customers for
pillows and blankets.
The carrier has done away with the recycled blankets and pillows
used on its flights and has started offering an "eco-friendly"
travel blanket and pillow that can be purchased for $7 on flights
longer than two hours. The pair come in a kit with a $5 coupon to
home furnishings retailer Bed Bath & Beyond.
The carrier claims the pillow and blanket feature a fabric
technology, developed by CleanBrands LLC, that blocks pesky critters
like dust mites, mold spores, pollen and pet dander.
JetBlue already offers free "Snooze Kits" on overnight flights from
the West that include an eyeshade and ear plugs.
But the blanket and pillow kit is the latest in a string of a la
carte items the company says are providing a revenue boost to help
offset the soaring price of jet fuel.
A JetBlue spokeswoman declined to predict how much the sale of these
kits will bring in, saying that the company only provides revenue
details for specific items in its quarterly earnings conference
The carrier said last month it expects to collect about $40 million
from customers buying seats with extra leg room this year. Its $15
fee for a second checked bag is expected to translate into about $20
million in additional revenue. A ticket change fee, which doubled to
$100 in the second quarter, is part of a "basket of fee changes"
expected to produce about $50 million in extra revenue in 2008.
shrinkage to make seats scarce this fall
The major airlines are
considering a plan that would cut 60 million seats from flights by
Where do we go
Although the airlines always pull down
service in the fall, the current situation is, in the
words of industry observers, “extreme,” “unprecedented,”
and a sign of a fundamental shift in the industry. Often
considered the unofficial end of the summer travel season,
September 2 may also signal the start of a new era. Among
options, more inconvenience: In addition to
fewer flights overall, many travelers will find that
non-stop service is either prohibitively expensive or
non-existent. Instead, the prognosis is for more
connecting flights — and the long layovers and lost
luggage that come with them.
Fewer flights mean fewer employees — and
the job cuts go beyond pilots and flight attendants.
According to ATA, the U.S. airline industry will shed
36,000 jobs this year, a drop of between 12 and 15
percent, and second only to the cuts made after
September 11. Most of this year’s cuts will take place
post-Labor Day, which means even less service in the
terminals, on the phone and in flight.
Maybe it’s irrationally exuberant, but with fewer planes
in the sky, on-time performance will likely improve (at
least until winter weather kicks in). Unfortunately,
there’s a flip side: when things do go bad, and flights
get canceled, there will be fewer options for rebooking.
from à la carte fees: Despite continuing
concerns, there are indications that the airline
industry is actually reaching an equilibrium vis-à-vis
oil prices and profitability. Lower oil prices ($115
this week), previous fare increases and the
proliferation of add-on fees for every service and
amenity are all helping staunch the flow of red ink.
Even so, and regardless of where oil prices end up, the
airlines aren’t about to give up the billions they
expect to bank from à la carte pricing.
Whether all of
the above constitutes a new era or merely another turn in
a highly cyclical industry is ultimately a matter of
degree. On the one hand, the idea of frequent flights to
diverse destinations at mass-market prices will probably
go the way of free meals in coach. On the other, and
despite the increased cost and inconvenience, millions of
people will continue to fly, wincing as they pay more to
fly in a smaller, potentially more stable industry.
Drinking Water Safety
Nothing ruins a good trip like getting sick --
and we're not talking about a few extra bathroom stops. Contaminated
drinking water is one of the leading sources of health problems for
travelers, and can cause anything from mild gastrointestinal
distress to serious bacterial diseases.
The most common cause of water-borne illness is bacteria, such as E.
coli, cholera and salmonella, but illness can also be caused by
protozoa (including giardia and cryptosporidium), viruses (like
hepatitis A, polio and rotavirus) and chemical pollutants.
The best way to protect yourself is to avoid local tap water and
instead seek out bottled water; when that's not available, boiling
tap water generally kills most micro-organisms, and there are a
number of good water filters and purification tablets that can
easily be stowed in your carry-on. Read on for tips on how to keep
yourself safe, healthy and well-hydrated on your next trip.
Know the Risks
Mexico is well known for its contaminated water (Montezuma's
revenge, anyone?), but according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), travelers also face high risk in Central
America, most of Africa and Asia, and the Middle East. You'll find
moderate levels of risk in Eastern Europe, Russia, South Africa,
Argentina, Chile and some parts of the Caribbean (including Haiti
and the Dominican Republic). Drinking water is generally safest in
developed areas of the world like the U.S., Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, Northern and Western Europe, many parts of the Caribbean,
Keep in mind that water quality may vary depending on where you are
in a particular country. For example, in Costa Rica you'll probably
find safe tap water at a major city hotel, but you may have to boil
water before drinking it if you're staying in a small rural village.
If you're not sure, consult a reliable guidebook or ask your Travel
Agent before you leave.
So-called developed countries aren't necessarily risk-free;
cryptosporidium outbreaks have appeared in the U.S. Midwest and
Northwest, as well as in highly populated cities in Australia.
Giardia has been found in the water supply in St. Petersburg,
Russia. Check the
CDC's Web site to see region-specific health info.
Some cities may advertise their drinking water as being chlorinated,
but this doesn't necessarily mean that the water is
contaminant-free. Your best approach when faced with potentially
unsafe drinking water is avoidance.
What to Drink and Not Drink
· Bottled water is
generally safe, but only in sealed, tamper-proof containers. Ask
someone at your hotel to recommend a reliable local brand.
· In addition to bottled
water, you'll usually be safe drinking tea, coffee, canned soda and
juice, beer, wine, and other alcoholic drinks.
· Prolonged exposure to
higher temperatures will kill many parasites. Drinking from a hot
water bottle is slightly safer than drinking untreated cold water.
· You don't need to drink
contaminated water to be exposed; always consider alternate sources
of exposure, like the water you use to brush your teeth, or to wash
your contact lenses or dentures. Be sure to use bottled, boiled or
purified water for these purposes as well.
· Freezing water does not
kill bacteria. A margarita on the rocks may sound appealing, but ice
cubes present the same problem that tap water does. You can make
your own ice if you boil the water first.
Avoid food that may have been rinsed in contaminated water, such as
salad and fresh fruit
Water Purification Tactics
Boiling water is generally the most effective way to remove parasite
contamination. Maintain a rolling boil for at least one minute
(longer at higher altitudes, where the boiling point may be lower).
Let the water cool itself slowly without adding ice. Allow any
sediments and particles to settle before drinking, and then decant
the water from the top into another container.
available iodine or chlorine tablets kill bacteria and viruses, but
are ineffective against some protozoa (like cryptosporidium). Iodine
is the more effective of the two solutions, but is not recommended
for long-term use, especially by pregnant women or travelers with a
history of thyroid problems.
Potable Aqua, composed of the iodine compound tetraglycine
hydroperiodide, is the most popular brand of water purification
tablet. Read directions on all tablets systems for tablet-water
ratios and dissolving times; 20 minutes or more may be required for
the tablets to dissolve completely, especially in colder water. ·
If you do not have tablets, two drops of common chlorine bleach in a
quart of water will help as a last resort.
SteriPEN uses ultraviolet light to kill bacteria, viruses and
protozoa. It's portable, effective and powered by AA batteries,
making it convenient to bring just about anywhere. Its relatively
hefty price tag is worth it if you frequently visit areas with
questionable water quality, particularly if you plan an extended
Cabela's carry water filters and purification systems. It is
essential that the filter system you choose is suited to your needs.
A filter with an insufficiently small pore size, or one that is not
designed to filter viruses, may permit some contaminants to get
through. The most effective strategy is to buy a system that
combines filtering with chemical purification -- or make one
yourself by using both a filter and an iodine treatment.
· For more tips
on making water safe to drink, visit the
CDC's Web site.
What to Do If You Get Sick
Symptoms of water-borne illness generally include diarrhea,
vomiting, nausea, fever, aches and/or chills, according to the World
Health Organization (WHO). These symptoms will usually clear up on
their own after a few days; if they worsen or are very severe, seek
medical attention. Otherwise, try to stay hydrated with sports
drinks, boiled or bottled water, or other safe fluids (steer clear
of alcohol and caffeinated beverages, both of which can make
dehydration worse). Oral rehydration salts and anti-diarrheal
medications may also be helpful.
When to Damn the Torpedoes
If the locals are drinking the tap water without ill effect, there
is no known occurrence of giardiasis, and you are going to be
staying in one location for four weeks or more, you may want to
drink the water to allow your body time to acquire some of the local
microbes. Start slowly and allow your body time to adapt.
Remember: Without a travel agent you're on
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