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

How to Prevent or Survive Lost Luggage

The number of bags lost or delayed by airlines is rising thanks to new carry-on rules that are forcing more passengers to check their bags

August 2006 was the worst month for baggage losses since the one-time meltdown in December 2004. In August, the daily average of lost bags reached 14,089, or 8.08 bags for every 1,000 passengers, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported.

But there are steps you can take to help prevent your luggage from getting lost–or at least enable you to survive the ordeal with less difficulty.

Use a sturdy identification tag with a durable strap on each bag. The best tags have a cover hiding your name to protect your privacy; use your business address and phone whenever possible.

Include your identification information inside the bag, in case the outer tag is lost. Place a travel itinerary in an outside pocket or inside your bag on the top so airlines can easily track you down.

Tie a colored ribbon to your bag or mark your initials in big letters so no one else will take it from the luggage carousel. Take a digital photo of the bag to show to the baggage agent should it be misplaced.

Remove old baggage tags to avoid confusion among baggage-handlers.

Check your bags early. Airlines suggest 90 minutes in advance (two hours for international travel) but at daily high-traffic times, you should add 30 minutes. Last-minute checked bags may not make it onto your plane.

Make sure your bags are ticketed correctly before you leave the luggage check-in area.

Complete the lost-luggage reports at the airport and don't leave without a claim number and contact information so you can check the status of your missing bags.

Create a packing list that includes every item in each bag and leave a copy at home in case you need to claim compensation.

If you can, carry with you on board whatever personal items you'll need to survive 24 hours in your destination without your suitcase. If you're heading to a beach, tuck a bathing suit in your carry-on; if you're headed to a meeting, carry with you a copy of that important speech or presentation, or better yet, fax it, FedEx it or email it ahead so that it's there when you arrive.

New Passport Rules

The Caribbean Is Reeling from the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, passed by Congress on Sept. 29, which granted a reprieve to cruise passengers but not to air travelers.

The amendment delays the implementation of the new passport requirements until June 1, 2009 for land crossings at the Mexico and Canada borders and for cruise passengers coming to the U.S. from the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada or Bermuda.

Congress remained silent on the air portion of the WHTI, so the implementation date of Jan. 8, 2007 remains in place meaning any U.S. citizen entering or returning by air to the U.S. on or after that date needs a valid passport.

In simplest terms, travelers to the U.S. by land and sea will need a valid passport by June 2009, 20 months away. Those traveling by air will need a passport by Jan. 8, 2007, two months from now.

A Checklist for Frequent Fliers to Insure a Safe, Clean and Secure Hotel Room

It's a scenario familiar to any business traveler. Your airline flight was delayed, the cab line at the airport was endless and check-in was a mess. Jet lag has struck. It's very late, you're tired and you have a breakfast meeting with a key client at 6:30 AM. You grab your key, avoid the bellman and head to your room to collapse into bed. Stop. Take the next 5 minutes to perform these safety, security and cleanliness checks and prepare for the next day. These "how to's" will save you time the next morning, they could even save your life some day.

1. When you enter your room prop the door open, turn on the lights, check the closets, bathroom, under the bed and behind the drapes. Mistakes do happen and sometimes someone else has been assigned to your room. This happens more frequently in suites with adjoining bedrooms that can be sold as separate rooms. Or there could be a thief. In any case, don't close the door until you are sure the room is empty.

2. Check that the connecting doors, windows and sliding doors are locked. In general, avoid first floor rooms with sliding doors.

3. Once you lock the door and attach the safety chain, check the diagram on the back to review the nearest exits and mentally plan your escape route. Look out the door to check that the exit signs are illuminated. If the lights are out, be helpful and contact the front desk to let them know. The few seconds that it takes to review the exit information can save your life in the event of a fire, earthquake or other emergency. Just do it. FYI, most fire engine ladders can only reach up to the 6th floor.

4. Be sure that the heat or air-conditioner, lights, phone, radio and television are working. Turn on the shower and sink to check the water pressure and temperature. If they aren't working, switch rooms now. It's not worth waiting for someone to fix the problem, especially late at night.

5. Turn back the bed and lift up the pillows. Are the sheets clean and fresh?

6. Is the bathroom clean? Are the towels fresh? Is there soap? Is there toilet paper? You'll need them tomorrow morning so be sure they are there now.

7. Check the hair dryer, if they have one; or yours, if you brought one. Plug it in and turn it on. You don't want to be stuck with wet hair 15 minutes before a big presentation. If this does happen and you are driving (or cabbing) to your meeting -- roll the windows down and turn the fan up. Your hair may be tousled, but it least it won't drip on the client.

8. Check any other appliances that you use; iron, electric razor, etc.; to be sure they are working. If you are a true frequent traveler, you probably avoid clothes that need to be ironed or fussed over. Hang up whatever you need to be ready for the next morning. Except for linen, wrinkles are not fashionable.

9. Travel across time zones can disrupt anyone's internal body clock and cause jet lag. Set your wind-up or battery-operated alarm clock -- and be sure it is set to the correct local time. Use the wake-up call and hotel alarm as back-up since chintzy radio/alarm clocks are a staple of even 5-star hotels.

10. Before you fall asleep, place your wallet or purse, room key and glasses on the night table; put some shoes and a robe or other cover-up near the night table. In the unlikely event of an emergency, you'll need to get out of your room quickly. In case it is a false alarm, you'll want to get back to your room and get back to sleep. You'll need your key, or you'll spend a lot of time wandering around the lobby in your underwear waiting to get a new one. I also travel with a small plastic flashlight attached to my key chain. It has come in handy on several occasions.

No matter how exhausted you are, take the time to perform these checks. Even the best hotels have housekeeping errors and front desk mistakes. Business travel is stressful enough - take control of the things that can help you get a good night's sleep.

Tips For Healthy Travel

Wherever you're headed, you'll want to feel healthy and strong. Here are some helpful tips for not being under the weather when you're going above the clouds.

Before Your Trip 

Here are just a few precautions you can take ahead of time

      Make sure your immunizations are current.

      If possible, delay your trip if you're not feeling well.

      If you're prone to air sickness, ask for a window seat over the wing.

      If you have any health questions, or if you suffer from a chronic ailment, motion sickness, or fear of flying, ask for advice from your physician.

          Stress is bad for you. Reduce stress by allowing plenty of time to check in and reach your departure gate.

          Always carry your medication with you—never pack it in baggage you're planning to check.

         Wear loose, comfortable clothing and shoes for your flight.


During Your Trip

Here are a few things you can do to feel good while you're flying

        Eat lightly during your flight.

        Stay hydrated while you fly.

         Leave room under the seat in front of you so you can stretch out your legs.

          If conditions permit, try to stand up and walk around the cabin every once in a while.


At Your Destination

Here are a couple of things to remember once you arrive

         Never purchase local medications unless you're familiar with them.

         Wear sun block and sunglasses in the tropics and at high altitudes.

          Drink a lot of water to minimize altitude sickness.


Helpful Web sites

These sites offer comprehensive information about healthy travel

        Centers for Disease Control

        Travel Medicine

        U.S. Department of State

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