Welcome to the July 2008 issue of "Smart Traveler". The newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling smoother.
For The First Time Cruiser Part 2
planned and booked your first cruise or considering a cruise? Life
on board a ship is like nothing else and can be intimidating for a
first-timer. Here are some tips on what to expect.
are like floating cities. They are large and complex with several
levels and many public spaces. They include many facilities such as
gyms, swimming pools, bowling alleys, restaurants and shopping
facilities. Like visiting a new city, it can be easy to get lost.
To get your
orientation, first study the map of the ship. Figure out where your
cabin is located and mark it on the map. Make a mental note of large
structures that will help you get your orientation if you get lost
such as pools and restaurants. Wonder around the ship and discover
the facilities that are available to the guests. This may encourage
you to participate in activities that you wouldn’t normally get
involved. Check out the various restaurants; there is usually a 24
hour buffet so you can fill your craving for food no matter what
time of day. Locate the pubic restrooms and convenience stores.
several information desks so don’t worry if you get lost. In fact,
crew members are very familiar with the ship so don’t be afraid to
ask if you get lost. They’ll be happy to suggest activities and tell
you how to find them.
Take a look at
the cruise ship’s newsletter. It will be full of suggestions for
activities while you’re on the ship. There are suggestions for
activities for children and things to keep the adults occupied while
the kids are at the pool.
Make a list of
the things you’d like to see and do while you’re on the ship. If you
like to see shows then make sure you plan for them. Arrive in plenty
of time to get a good seat.
There will be a
mandatory lifeboat drill. With all of the advanced technology on
ships, the chances of abandoning ship are almost zero. Even though
boat travel is very safe, make sure you pay attention.
everything on the ship is included in the price of the cruise but a
few things are not. One of the biggest expenses on the cruise is the
alcohol. Make sure you know how much something costs before you
order it to it.
cruise will no doubt be an experience that you won’t forget.
Orientate yourself with the ships facilities and activities and
you’re sure to have an enjoyable holiday.
The Lowdown On U S
The new passport card (Courtesy The Department of State)
This month the government began to produce
U.S. passport cards—a cheaper,
easier-to-carry alternative to traditional passports. Each passport
card fits in a wallet and typically costs only $45, versus $100 for
a passport. (Both are valid for a decade; prices and rules vary for
citizens under 16 years old.)
Whoa, back up a sec! I've forgotten the rules for traveling in
and out of the country. Give me a quick update.
Until recently, your needed a driver's license and birth certificate
to return home after sea and land travel. Now you have an additional
option, called a passport card. Starting
Starting June 1, 2009, you'll be
required to carry a passport or passport card to return home after
sea and land travel (with some exceptions).
Do passport cards work the same way as traditional passports?
No. Cheaper passport cards can only be used for land and sea travel
between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean. For
any air travel outside of the U.S., you need a traditional passport.
Plus only traditional passports can be marked with cool stamps from
around the world.
I'm confused. Why would I bother with a passport card when a
traditional passport covers both land/sea travel and air travel?
Think of passport cards as similar to—though not exactly like—the EZ
Pass electronic toll collection system that's popular on Northeast
toll roads. Border officers can access photographs and biographical
information on your passport card from 20 feet away because each
card contains a radio frequency identification chip. Officers pull
up your info on their electronic devices before you reach them,
speeding up the process. Your traditional passport can't do that.
Hmm.... Can anyone read my passport card and learn my private
For people who may have concerns about privacy, "there's no danger
of any personal information being transmitted from the chip on the
card, because there is no information on the card," says Steve
Royster, spokesman for the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State
Department. "Instead, all the chip has is an ID number that will be
used to link the card to a secure government database that's
accessed as someone drives toward the border." And for added
security, each card comes with a protective sleeve that acts as a
shield to prevent any kind of transmission.
So which should I get: a passport or a passport card?
Do you frequently cross
either the Mexican or Canadian border by car? Get a passport
card. It will speed your processing at the border.
Plan to fly outside of the
U.S.? You need a traditional passport.
Taking a cruise? Ask
your Travel Agent what identification you will need. Some cruise
lines have identification requirements that are tighter than the
What's the best option for a
child? If you don't expect that your child will take an
international flight in the next five years—a passport card is best.
It costs $35 for kids under age 16, versus $85 for a traditional
Is there any reason why someone might want to get a traditional
passport and a passport card?
Says the spokesman, Royster, "Some people like the convenience
of having a reliable ID they can walk around with in their pocket or
purse." When applying for a new job, a driver's license, a marriage
certificate, or conducting financial transactions, you may need to
show copies of your birth certificate. Now, instead, you can carry a
passport card, which is valid in all states as a way to confirm your
identity and citizenship. A tip: If you apply for both at the same
time or if you already have a valid passport, you can get a passport
card for an additional $20.
How do I get a passport card and/or a passport?
If you don't already have a passport, you must apply in-person at a
passport acceptance facility (such as a post office, library, or
courthouse). To find one, search by zip code at
To learn how to apply, visit
As a general rule, bring proof of identity and of U.S.
citizenship along with two passport-ready photos.
If you already have a passport, you can apply by mail—the same way
you would renew your passport. Note: Like a normal passport renewal,
you'll have to send in two passport photos with the application,
plus your current passport, which will be returned to you within
about four weeks, regardless of when your passport card arrives.
Is it easier to get a passport card than a traditional passport?
Alas, no. The application process for the cards is the same as it is
for traditional passports. With both, if you're eligible to mail in
the application, you'll save the potential hassle of waiting in line
at the post office or courthouse. Royster says that the cards will
eventually have the same turnaround time as traditional passports
(currently, about four weeks).
But don't expect a four-week turnaround this summer: The State
Department began accepting applications, first come, first served,
for the cards in February and received more than 350,000 requests.
It has mailed out 7,600 cards and expects to have the rest of the
preorders sent out by the end of September.
Expedited service ($60 more plus delivery fees, for a two-week
turnaround), like what’s currently offered for passports, will also
eventually be available for the cards, but not until production
Anything else I should know?
Travel from U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico and the U.S.
Virgin Islands, doesn't require either a passport or a passport
Tips For Savvy Business Travelers
It only takes a few
extra minutes and a little forethought to make your business trip
more productive and comfortable. But unless you travel a lot, you
probably haven't discovered some of the ways to improve your trips.
These ten tips will turn you into a seasoned business traveler.
* Consider alternative airports. Fly into an airport that's just
outside of your destination city. Typically, you'll experience fewer
delays and overbooked flights if you avoid a city's main hub.
* Charge your equipment. In airport waiting areas, check the wall
space directly under the windows overlooking the tarmac and near
support beams: It's often equipped with electrical outlets. You can
recharge your laptop and cell phone batteries while you're waiting
for your flight.
* Become a frequent flyer. Concentrate your air mileage with one
carrier to earn elite status and enjoy the perks that come with it:
early boarding, seat upgrades and prime positions on standby lists.
* Know where you're going. Before your trip, go on line and search for maps and driving instructions. Tuck them in your
briefcase for a fast getaway.
* Choose an aisle or window seat. On an airplane, don't sit in the
seat in middle of the row if you want to use your laptop — you
have enough elbow room.
* Bring a cell phone headset. Driving in an unfamiliar city can be
complicated. A cell phone headset will keep your hands free while
you check in with the office.
* Test your dialup connection. Dial into your corporate network
before you leave to make sure you'll be able to remotely access
email and network files.
* Stay at hotels that cater to business travelers. Hotels that have
fax service and rooms with Internet access make it easier to work
when you're on the road.
* Make copies of your passport. For international travel, always
bring two photo copies of your passport and three extra passport
photos. It prevents you from turning over your passport to customs
officials for photocopying and simplifies visa application.
* Carry an international driver's license. Police officers who don't
speak English are far more likely to recognize this document than a
state driver's license.
started it all back in March, announcing that it would charge $15
for a second checked bag on domestic flights. From there, the trend
escalated — airlines’ way of managing jet fuel prices. Now some
carriers charge passengers for all checked luggage, and many have
raised their overweight and oversize fees. Even bags that are
allowed free of charge must, in most cases, weigh 50 pounds or less,
and the sum of a bag’s length, width and height must be 62 inches or
less. To prevent passengers from dragging big bags into the cabin,
some airlines are becoming more vigilant about carry-ons as well.
Most major airlines have a "one bag and one 'personal item' " rule.
Below are the
fees that several major carriers charge for oversize and overweight
baggage, as well as new checked-bag fees and size limits for carry-ons.
Note that a bag may be subject to a triple whammy of charges if it’s
too large, too heavy and one too many. Maybe you don't need all
NOTE: Check with your airline before arriving at the
airport. These fees can change overnight. For your convenience there
is a link to each airline listed.
Second: $10 online,
$20 at airport.
71-100 lb.: $69.
71-80 in.: $69.
Third to fifth:
71-100 lb.: $100.
and 40 lb.
and 40 lb
Third to 10th:
International: First and
second: free. Third to 10th:
71-100 lb.: $150.
and 40 lb.
71-99 lb.: $100.
190 planes, 56 in.
for Airbus A320s.
63-80 in.: $100.
Fourth and additional:
71-100 lb.: $50.
Third and additional:
Third and additional:
71-100 lb.: $100-
$200 (based on
number of bags)
Remember: Without a travel agent you're on
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