Executive Travel : Ideas for the Busy Traveler

The following are among the ideas outlined in Christopher J. McGinnis' book "202 Tips Even the Best Business Travelers May Not Know." McGinnis is an Atlanta-based travel consultant and writer

On the plane: Once on a plane, don't place your bag in an overhead bin behind you. When the plane unloads, you'll have to go "upstream" to retrieve it. Put it in a bin ahead of you.

Creative hotel room: If you are desperate for a hotel room and stuck in a strange city with no reservation, ask the desk clerk or manager about the possibility of placing a roll-away bed in a meeting room for the night. If available, use the hotel health club shower.

Calling card crooks: Watch out for "shoulder surfers," people who have learned to steal your long-distance calling card number by spying on you at airports or train and bus stations, and then sell the number on the street. Shoulder surfers are more prevalent in cities with large immigrant populations--perfect markets for stolen calling card numbers. Insert your calling card in phones that allow it, or shield the phone with your body when entering your number. Speak quietly if you must dictate your number to an operator.

Prevention: Condoms purchased overseas aren't as reliable as those in the United States. Heat, light and time will eventually render latex condoms useless. Always have a fresh supply on hand.

Carry-ons: If you bring more than two carry-ons, the official limit, and the gate agent is being strict, you can always ask a less burdened and friendly-looking person near you in line to carry on one bag--or put a bag inside a bag. Gate agents usually scrutinize the number of bags more often than the bag dimensions. FAA regulations: one no larger than 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches (must fit under seat) and another 10 inches by 14 inches by 36 inches (must fit in overhead bin) or a 4-by-23-by-45-inch garment bag (must fit in closet.) Note: A briefcase is considered a piece of carry-on luggage but a woman's purse may not be.

On-time data: The on-time performance for individual flights is tracked monthly on all reservations systems. When making your reservation, ask the agent and you will be given a score on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 meaning the flight was on time between 1% and 10% of the time and 9 meaning the flight was on time 90% to 100% of the time.

Morning arrival: Before leaving on an international flight that arrives in the morning, determine if your hotel will let you check in early. There is nothing worse than the jet-lagged, sleep-starved purgatory of sitting in a crowded hotel lobby waiting for maids to clean your room.

Pickpocket scams: Beware of people causing distractions. Scams used by pickpockets: an offer to brush lint off your suit; accidentally spilling or spewing ketchup or mustard; a little old lady dropping her suitcase so you will help her. Before you know it, you've been had. Also, crafty pickpockets will stand next to signs that say "Beware of Pickpockets" so they can watch where people feel for theirs wallets. Then they know exactly where to "pick."

For more information about the book, call (800) 634-3966. Copyright 1994, Richard D. Irwin Inc.

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