Merry Christmas,

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


Contact LensTravel Tips for Contact Lens Wearers

You are allowed to carry small amounts of eye drops and other liquids with you on an airplane. However, volumes greater than a few ounces may only be permitted in your checked baggage. Always check with your airline or www.tsa.gov before you fly.

 

  • Bring along two extra pairs of your lenses in case you lose or damage your current pair.
  • Aircraft cabins are often very dry, and the lack of humidity may cause your lenses to feel less comfortable than usual. If permitted, carry a small bottle of rewetting drops just in case.
  • For a truly comfortable trip, consider applying a fresh pair of lenses when you reach your destination.
  • Most contact lens solutions come in travel sizes. Rather than packing a heavy full size bottle, opt for a travel bottle. Use a one-step solution (ask your Eye Care Professional for a recommendation if you’re not already using one) to save space and weight.
  • When traveling by air, try to keep your lenses, case, and solution in your carry-on luggage. DON’T pack your lenses in checked baggage – unless you want to risk your lenses landing in Cincinnati while you fly to Honolulu!
  • The pressurized environment in aircraft cabins can cause some bottles and lens cases to leak slightly. To avoid a puddle in your bag, place your lens case and solution(s) in a zip-lock bag before packing.
  • While it’s unlikely, your eyes may become irritated while you’re away. Because you should never apply your lenses if your eyes are red or inflamed, bring along your eyeglasses for emergencies.
  • Please call your Eye Care Professional immediately if you experience any discomfort with your eyes while traveling.

  
PassportIt's Official Now-Again
The Dept. of Homeland Security has set Jan. 23 as the new starting date for a regulation requiring airline passengers entering the U.S. by air within the Western Hemisphere to possess a valid passport.
 The new date for the regulation, referred to as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, was the result of a delay in the rulemaking process that pushed back the original Jan. 8 start date by two weeks. However, the passport requirement does not apply to U.S. citizens visiting Puerto Rico and/or the U.S. Virgin Islands as they are U.S. territories.
 For cruise and land passengers, the passport requirement takes effect in June 2009, although that date could be moved up to as early as January 2008.

Rental Car
Car Rental Basics

Even the most savvy traveler has to suffer through car rental realities: delayed airport shuttles, long lines at the counter and lost reservations. Most business travelers don't have the luxury of a car service picking them up at the airport and dropping them off stress-free downtown. Here are ten tips to ensure that your next car rental experience goes smoothly.

Gentlemen ...and Ladies ... start your engines.

10 Tips Before You Leave the Lot

1. Do you have to rent a car? The best way to avoid rent-a-car hassles is to avoid renting a car in the first place. Do you absolutely need your own wheels or can you use public transportation, shuttles and taxis to get where you want to go? Conference resorts cater to the non-driver. In Orlando, Florida for example, a variety of transport services are available to take you to conference destinations -- at a fraction of a car rental cost. If your final destination is an urban center, weigh the taxi fares against parking garage costs, possible parking tickets and the trouble you may have negotiating unfamiliar streets.

2. Membership has its privileges. No doubt about it -- if you are going to rent cars, you should join car rental frequent traveler programs. While upgrades and frequency points are terrific, one of the best benefits you receive with some is the ability to bypass lines. With National Car Rental's Emerald Club membership, you can go from baggage claim to car without stopping at the counter. Alamo's Quicksilver program lets you arrange for your car at a kiosk. Car rental companies want the frequent flyer's business. Once you pick the one that suits your needs -- try to stick with it.

3. Review your company's travel policy. Does your company restrict the type of car you can rent? Will the expense for the SUV or convertible be turned back by the accounting department? Before you rent, make sure what is and isn't approved. Some companies may cover a car rental expense over the weekend if that mean a lower airfare for the business trip. Does your corporate card cover additional insurance and additional drivers?  Check it out -- before you rent.

4. Reserve ahead of time and try to arrive early in the day. Again, it helps if you are a preferred customer -- but always try to make your reservation as soon as possible. Write down the confirmation number and verify the class of car and guaranteed rate. If possible try to get the information from the company in writing, through your corporate travel department. One day -- or even hours prior to your trip, verify the reservation again. Even with a confirmed reservation, you may be out of luck if you arrive late in the day when cars have just turned over.

5. It's always a dilemma for travelers -- do you really need the optional loss or collision damage waiver (LDW/CDW). Understand your company travel policy about CDW. If you use a personal credit card for business expenses, check to see if it covers collision and liability for rentals. It may, but some cards don't cover certain vehicle types, long-term rentals or rentals in some countries. Extra insurance fees can really add up, but so can the cost of an accident.

6. Gas up now or later? Should you prepay for gas? It depends. Understand your company policy and the price implications. If you think you will be running late, trying to catch the last flight home, check off the fuel prepayment option. Review all of the rates before you sign the contract.

7. Sign up additional drivers on the spot. If you're sharing driving duty with a business colleague, make sure they are listed as an additional driver before leaving the parking lot. You'll find that most car rental companies have a policy where co-workers can sign on for free. Don't skip this step - only authorized drivers should be behind the wheel in rental cars - or you'll be liable if there's a problem.

8. Study your car on the outside. Take a few minutes looking over the car before pulling out. Check for scratches and dents. If you find anything, be sure to get this documented. If there is a line at the counter inside, have this documented at the gate leaving the lot. You will be held liable for car damage, unless it is written down. Don't get stuck paying for a stranger's damage. Look at the tires, check out the brakes and lights. If the car is unsafe - switch it - no matter how late you're running for your next meeting.

9. Familiarize yourself with the car's interior and control panel. Get the air just right and find your kind of music on the radio. You don't want to be searching for the windshield wipers while you're doing 65 in a sudden downpour. If the car has anti-lock brakes - and more than 50% of today's rental fleets do - practice braking before heading out on the highway.

10. Know where you are going. Many overconfident business travelers leave the lot without a clue how to get where they are going. If you haven't been to the location before, get directions and a map. Some car rental companies offer in-car navigation systems, such as Hertz's Neverlost.


What Is Norovirus?Doctor

The recent news stories regarding illness aboard cruise ships may cause some of our clients to be concerned about vacationing at sea. So, we wanted to know, what is this illness, how do people get it, and why do we only hear about this illness on cruise ships?

According to the most recent information, the facts are as follows:

Norovirus sounds exotic, but it’s well known as the “24-hour stomach bug” and is the second most prevalent illness in the U.S., after the common cold. Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps that typically last one to two days.

There are numerous incidents of norovirus across the country, but the reason you hear about it with regard to cruise ships is because they are the only ones required to report gastrointestinal illness to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Hotels don’t have to report it – neither do airlines, universities or hospitals!

On cruise ships, the illness is typically spread through person-to-person contact by touching surfaces that someone with the virus previously had contact with, not from the food or water. So, you should heed you're mother’s advice and wash your hands! The best way to prevent illness is to wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and warm water.

What are the chances of getting norovirus?

The CDC estimates that 23 million people in the U.S. – or eight percent of the population – contract norovirus each year; that’s 1 in 12 people. In contrast, far less than one percent of all U.S. cruise guests are affected by norovirus annually; that’s 1 in 3,600 people. The few cruise guests who experience symptoms should follow the guidance of the ship’s medical staff to prevent the spread of the illness to fellow passengers.

Cruise lines are vigilant in keeping a clean ship. Rigorous cleaning procedures are in place to disinfect and sanitize public areas including all door handles, railings, elevator buttons and slot machine levers, to name just a few. In fact, according to the CDC, cruise lines have the highest sanitation standards in the world!

The safety and well-being of our guests is the cruise industry’s highest priority.

If you want additional information, including more information on norovirus, tips for staying healthy on a cruise and proper hand-washing techniques, please visit the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program Web site at www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp or www.cdc.gov.


Remember: Without a travel agent you're on your own


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