Welcome to the May 2009 issue of "Smart Traveler". The newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling smoother.
Smart Travel Tips for Families
A very busy summer air travel season is forecast, as
rising gas prices send many families to their destinations by plane
this year. Full flights are anticipated, making planning ahead
1. Make plane reservations as soon as possible to lock in current
inexpensive fares. As fuel prices increase, airfares will also.
2. Select seats when you make the reservation - this is the only way
to ensure that you will be seated together. Waiting until you arrive
at the airport will scatter each of your family members throughout
the plane, or will require asking other passengers to accommodate
you by moving seats when they are trying to get settled themselves.
3. Print boarding passes before leaving for the airport. If you have
booked online, this option is generally available 24 hours in
advance of the flight and will save standing in a check-in line at
4. Pack light. Many airlines are charging $25 each way for a second
checked bag (most still allow one checked bag at no additional
charge). Plus they also charge big fees that vary between airlines
for checked bags weighing 50 pounds or more. Weigh each bag at home
on a bathroom scale before leaving for the airport so you can
lighten the load. Also measure each bag before packing as no bag may
be over 62” based on linear measurement of length + width + depth.
Larger bags may incur a large fee.
5. Take less. Organize what each family member wants to pack far in
advance to allow time to wash favorite things and to encourage
participation by each person. This minimizes complaints upon
arrival, as each was part of the packing decisions. Plan to find a
coin-operated laundry half way through the trip so you can pack half
as much clothing. Tucking in a self-sealing plastic bag of laundry
detergent saves money and hassles.
6. Self-sealing bags of several sizes are the travelers' best
friend! Organize clothing by grouping adult’s items: socks in one
container, underwear in another. Children’s clothing is easily
organized by folding or rolling an entire days outfit together —
pants, tee-shirt, underwear and socks — and tucking into a bag. Pop
the dirty items back into the bag at the end of the day to isolate
soiled clothing from clean.
7. Pack into as few suitcases as possible - the more bags the
greater the chance that one will be misplaced or forgotten. Plus, a
hefty fee may be charged for additional checked bags. Some airlines
now allow only one checked bag plus one carry-on per ticketed
passenger (young children who ride on a parent’s lap are NOT
considered “ticketed”). Many families pack into community bags of
one adult with one child per bag, for a family of four this means
two checked bags plus carry-on.
8. Travel with your child’s safety seats and strollers whenever
possible. Each airline has a slightly different ruling on traveling
with this gear, so call or visit your airline website to check in
advance so you won’t have any surprises at the airport.
9. Pack a backpack for each person. Parents can manage children
better if they are hands-free, so purses and in-flight necessities
are best carried in an adult backpack. Kids fly quieter when
entertained, so allow them to choose their toys and to carry them.
Smaller children manage better passing through airports, airport
security, and aircraft aisles with small backpacks; bigger children
can manage small rolling bags that will fit under the seat.
10. Savvy frequent flyer parents advise bringing on the following in
your child’s carry-on:
• Gameboys, games and extra batteries and travel-sized games • Books
(thin paperbacks are best!) and/or coloring/activity books and
crayons • Portable DVD player (however battery length is usually
only about 3 hours) • Pajamas and slippers for a long flight (if
comfortable, children are more likely to sleep) • Hard candies to
suck on, water or juice to combat pressure changes during take off
and landing • Anything your child must have such as a favorite
blanket or bunny.
Packing light will spare your back and your budget and minimize
baggage hassles. Plan ahead, take less, and have a great vacation!
Mexico, Canada to U.S.
Passport Now Required
Stricter Passport Rules Go Into Effect at Border
Crossings for Travel by Land June 1. If you're planning to travel to
Mexico or Canada next week, be prepared to show the proper
Starting Monday, the last implementation stage of
the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will go into
effect,requiring travelers to present a passport or other valid
travel document when entering the U.S. by land or sea.
The requirements were put into place in the aftermath of the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks. While parallel provisions for air
travel went into effect in January 2007, this stage of
implementation for land and sea travel was delayed because the
government feared Americans were not adequately prepared.
Previously, Americans returning from Canada by land had to present a
driver's license and birth certificate to prove identification and
citizenship. But as of June 1, Americans will need to present a
valid travel document to enter the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the
Caribbean islands and Bermuda.
What's a valid travel document? A regular passport, a new passport
card, a "trusted traveler" card or an "enhanced driver's license,"
which states the person's nationality. Children under the age of 16
will not be required to have the travel documentation.
Currently, only a handful of states -- Vermont, New York, Washington
and Michigan -- offer the new enhanced documentation.
Enhanced driver's licenses are wallet-size and are less expensive
than the average $100 fee for a standard passport.
Officials hope the provisions, which invalidate birth certificates
and drivers' licenses as forms of identification, will help set a
more uniform standard for border travel, creating a safer and more
efficient travel experience.
With summer ahead, the new regulations have potential to thwart many
to Safeguard Your Data as You Travel
combination of replacement cost,
detection, forensics, data
breach, lost intellectual
property costs, lost
productivity, and legal,
consulting and regulatory
expenses sets a company back an
average of $49,246 per lost
laptop, according to a study
released in April by the Ponemon
Institute and sponsored by the
lost laptops with encryption
saved companies nearly $20,000,
compared with those that did not
have encryption, according to
the Ponemon study. Encrypted
disks safeguard data by
scrambling information on them.
They unlock that information
only when the user enters the
know how many times we've heard
about laptops being stolen and
they have no encryption on them.
And it pretty much means that
the bad guys can get to your
data. Immediately. They don't
have to know your password or
anything, they can just get to
it," said Patrik Runald, chief
security adviser for F-Secure,
an Internet security company.
businesses do not yet require
their employees to use passwords
on their smart phones, leaving
lost devices "woefully
unprotected," said Pat Clawson,
CEO and chairman of Lumension
potential for security breaches,
there are simple steps you can
take to keep yourself armed as
you connect wirelessly on your
• Use an
encrypted disk to safeguard the
information on your laptop or
smart phone, Linder said, and
make sure you log off of your
computer when you're not using
cases, when you hibernate your
computer, its memory is recorded
unencrypted. "You cannot for
convenience close your lid, let
your computer go to sleep and
believe that if someone steals
your computer, your data is
protected, because it's not,"
recommended free software called
TrueCrypt (truecrypt.org) that
you can use to encrypt the
content on your local drive and
on USB flash drives.
• Turn off
your wireless and Bluetooth
connections if you're not using
them, said Clawson. "Those are
electronic doorways into your
devices. On my BlackBerry, I can
sit there and scan for open
Wi-Fi peer-to-peer connections.
I [can] then gain access to
what's in your files you may
have stored in there, your
• Use an
anti-glare shield on your
computer to prevent others from
spying, Linder suggested. With
such shields, you must be
face-to-face with the screen to
be able to read it.
back up the data on your laptop
or smart phone, Runald said.
Several companies offer backup
services, but you can also save
information on other computers
Even if your
data is encrypted -- eliminating
your fear of sensitive
information getting stolen --
backing up the data will make it
easy to transfer to a new phone
or laptop, Runald said.
• If you
lose your smart phone and don't
want others to access your
information, call your provider
and request that the device be
wiped of information, Runald
said. He also suggested
considering software that allows
you to send a text message to
your phone that will remotely
wipe it and block others from
accessing its content.
• To ensure
that you're visiting an
authentic Web site and not
getting duped by a phishing
scheme, some experts suggest
logging onto those sites through
your company's VPN connection.
But technology company CTO
Fitzpatrick says he hesitates to
use VPN from a public Wi-Fi
hotspot: "Even though all the
traffic is encrypted," he said,
"if your machine got compromised
in some way, it is sort of a
gateway into your network."
Staying in Touch While on the Road
With these handy tools, you can
update the folks back home without ever having to slow down.
Although it's ostensibly designed for travel journaling, this
clickable atlas can also help with planning by letting you
create custom maps of your travels. Adding a waypoint or
something of interest—a hotel, a landmark, a train station—is as
easy as double clicking. Mapness will automatically plot routes
between your various stops, and store your map online so that
you can pull it up on the go. Even better, you can share your
map with others via an e-mailed link, or export them to Google
Earth so that everyone in your party can find their way to the
chalet. Finally, once you've arrived, you can also add photos
and videos to document your trip for posterity.
Everyone loves to get postcards, but actually messing with the
mail while on vacation can make you go, well, postal. (And in
any case, do you really want a cheesy image from the hotel gift
shop to stand as the definitive shot of your journey?) Roll your
own postcards instead. At HazelMail, named for its founder's
mom, you can upload your photographs and then enter a message
and an address. The website takes care of the rest, printing out
and mailing a freshly minted postcard (and saving you from
having to track down stamps). The flat fee of $1.50 includes
postage to anywhere.
Explore There's no reason to wait until you get home to upload
your photos from your trip, thanks to this camera memory card
that gives your camera Wi-Fi connectivity. When it's paired with
a free online account at a photo-sharing service such as Picasa
or Flickr, you can set the card to upload on the fly, letting
your friends tag along on your journeys with every snap you
take. The Eye-Fi works with open wireless networks, and you can
set it to automatically join them once you come into range. The
purchase of the card also gives you the ability to use any
Wayport hotspot for a year (there are more than 10,000 of such
spots nationwide). If you're not near a free open source and
you're in the U.S., chances are still good that you'll be able
to find a Wayport spot to upload your photos. Also fun: The Eye-Fi
uses Wi-Fi signals to store location data with every photos
that's taken. When you upload shots to geo-enabled photo-sharing
services (including Flickr and Picasa), the photos can be
automatically added to a map that notes where they were
taken—and which also has links to photos that other
photographers have taken nearby.
Even if you're not using the micro-blogging site Twitter to
update the world with your own comings and goings, you can still
use it to bring the wisdom of a savvy, global crowd to the palm
of your hand. Use your free acount to ask those following you a
question ("Where can I find the best grits in Atlanta?") to tap
into a trove of native knowledge in real time. For better luck
use a "hashtag" (a keyword preceded by the pound symbol, such as
#Atlanta) that will help people find your query. Or perhaps your
question has already been answered: Try Twitter's
dedicated search page. If you have an iPhone, you may also
want to give the applications Tweetie and Twinkle a try. These
can filter Twitter's tweets by location to help you listen in on
Have trouble keeping track of your travel plans? Help is here.
Once you are registered with TripIt, you can forward to the site
all of your confirmation e-mails for flights, hotels, and rental
cars. TripIt takes those pesky details and automatically
organizes them into a sorted itinerary you can access from any
computer. Thanks to its stripped-down website design, you can
pull up your confirmation codes at the ticket counter on your
phone, rather than printing everything up in advance. Social
features help you create a network of friends and share
itineraries, and also add badges to your website to show where
you are and what you're doing. In addition, you can export your
trips to a calendar program such as Google Calendar or iCal.
With this phone manager, you can keep the calls coming through
while you roam. Open at the moment only to existing users of a
Google-owned service called GrandCentral but soon to be
available for everyone, Google Voice gives you a phone number
which you can set to ring any phone in the United States (Google
plans to expand this ability worldwide). Even more usefully, it
can be set to let only some numbers through—for instance, maybe
you want your friends but not your boss to be able to call you
on that beach in Miami. Because you can set it to ring more than
one number, Google Voice can direct the same call to your cell
phone as well as the line in your vacation home. You can also
use it to check your voice mail from any computer.
story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to
confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in
question before planning your trip.
Remember: Without a travel agent you're on
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