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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
For Healthy Travel
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
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
If you have any health questions, or if you suffer from a chronic
ailment, motion sickness, or fear of flying, ask for advice from
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.
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
lightly during your flight.
hydrated while you fly.
room under the seat in front of you so you can stretch out your
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.
sun block and sunglasses in the tropics and at high altitudes.
a lot of water to minimize altitude sickness.
Helpful Web sites
These sites offer comprehensive information about healthy travel
for Disease Control
Department of State
Remember: Without a travel agent you're on