November 01, 1998
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio November 1998 Current Issue
November 1998 On TravelPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

On Travel


Holiday Trips...Sanctuaries...ADA Onboard

How to survive travel during the festive season

Heading home? Avoid the crowds. With Thanksgiving and the December holidays just around the corner, many of us are making travel plans with a mix of excitement and trepidation. It's hard to look forward to the trip knowing that, this time of year, record crowds are as traditional as roasted turkey. Here are some tips for retaining your sanity.

  • Travel at off-peak hours, like Thanksgiving or Christmas morning, and don't travel the day after the holiday. Return the day after or day before you think everyone else will be on their way home, like the Monday after Thanksgiving or the middle of the week after Christmas.
  • Don't leave anything to the last minute. This includes booking the flight, packing and arriving at the airport. Give yourself some breathing space to keep stress to a minimum. Consider splurging for car service to and from the airport or taking mass transit so you don't have to worry about parking.
  • Have your photo ID (and all your traveling companions') handy for quick check-ins.
  • Mark your bags inside and out, and keep an eye on them at all times. Bill Cahill, a spokesperson for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - which oversees Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports - says luggage theft, pickpocketing and car break-ins are the most common crimes at the three airports. He notes that a study showed no jump in incidences when the airports are at their busiest, but if you're carrying gifts, you might want to be extra diligent.
  • Expect and welcome tighter security. You may be asked to turn on electronic devices to prove they're not bombs or clever drug containers. Your carry-ons may be pawed through. Be patient and smile; it'll go easier.
  • Some peace and quiet. Want to get away from the bustle when you've got a little time to kill waiting for a flight? Many airports around the world have chapels where travelers can meditate, with chaplains on duty or on call. To see if an airport has set aside a spiritual area or has a chaplain available, visit the Web site of the International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains ( holloway/index.html). For example, the chapel at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport is in the main atrium, and at Newark International it's in Terminal C; both are always open.

    Wheels in the air. Thai Airways now has a special wheelchair on its 747-300s and 747-400s for disabled passengers to use in flight. The onboard wheelchair is made using Federal Aviation Administration standards and is constructed with a light metal strong enough to hold 300 pounds. It can take passengers to their assigned seats from the aircraft door and can be used for bathroom breaks. A seat belt and adjustable armrests and brakes ensure the rider's safety while in the chair in the air.

    Office away from office. In August the Hewlett-Packard Company and American Airlines opened HP business centers at American's Admirals Clubs, allowing members to fax, print, e-mail or access the Internet in comfort. Also, technology kiosks offering club members the chance to test-drive the latest HP products have been installed in the clubs at Chicago O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami (in the domestic and international terminals), JFK's international building, LaGuardia, and San Jose, Calif.

    Rewired. On Command Corporation is using digital hardware made by Mitsubishi Electronics to test new in-room technology for hotels. The platform - installed in 15 Marriott, Hilton and Sheraton hotels - provides information services for the business traveler, including broader video selections, access to high-speed, TV-based Internet and e-mail services and zippy laptop connectivity.

    Book bag. New for seasoned flyers is The Unofficial Business Traveler's Pocket Guide: 165 Tips Even the Best Business Travelers May Not Know by Christopher J. McGinnis, CNN's business travel consultant (McGraw-Hill, New York City, $10.95). While hardly a true pocket guide at more than 200 pages (the fact that the book's shape is long and narrow must be the "pocket guide" criteria), McGinnis' work is filled with excellent advice. Chapters are broken down into such headings as "What to Bring and How to Bring It," "Using the Telephone" and "Your Heart, Your Mind, and Your Body."

    Also new on the scene are the colorful Knopf City Guides to New York, Lisbon, Milan, Madrid, Berlin and Paris (Knopf, New York City, $14.95 each). The books group information in nine sections: Things to Know, Where to Stay, Where to Eat, After Dark, What to See, Further Afield, Where to Shop, Strictly Business and Maps.

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