November 01, 1999
Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio November 1999 Current Issue
November 1999 On TravelPLANNER'S PORTFOLIO:

On Travel

By Sarah J.F.Braley


Precautionary steps for holiday trips that span New Year's Eve

The DOT speaks. Depending on a traveler's comfort with the coming of Y2K, the year-end holidays either will be a time to hunker down at home or to fly to the ends of the earth to see the dawning of 2000. For those planning to travel, the Department of Transportation has issued a list of tips in case there are problems on Jan. 1.

When traveling by car:

  • A few days before the trip, change the oil and have the car checked out. Make sure the tires and spare are fully inflated. Pack an emergency kit with antifreeze, a working flashlight with extra batteries, blankets and hazard markers. While driving, always keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • If traffic lights fail, follow state law; most states require four-way stops at intersections when signals are not working.
  • Stop, look and listen at all rail crossings. Always expect a train.
  • Carry cash or traveler's checks in case automatic payment systems at self-service gas pumps, electronic tolls and parking lots are not working.
  • Stay tuned to the news for updates, and plan alternate routes so you have options.
    When flying:
  • Call to confirm the flight departure and arrival times before leaving home.
  • Allow extra time for parking, ticketing, security procedures and baggage claim.
  • Check your parking lot ticket and receipt to make sure the dates are accurate.
  • Consider taking public transportation to the airport.
    The DOT has put up new Web pages with country-by-country reviews of the reported Y2K status of airports around the world, foreign-based international carriers, the U.S. National Airspace System and U.S.-based international carriers.
  • Paying ransom. Protection from kidnapping is not just for CEOs and celebrity speakers who travel overseas. When traveling to a dangerous area, it might be prudent to cover yourself with kidnap and ransom insurance.

    Plenty of name companies now offer the coverage. On the Web, the Insurance Company ( offers a worksheet to get a quick response on the coverage you might need. Even if you prefer to use another insurer, the worksheet shows the questions you will need to answer to get covered.

    Roam overseas. The latest innovation in cell phone service enables travelers to be accessible by one phone number whether they are working at home or on the way to a meeting in London. International roaming service from Omnipoint ( is available in about 60 countries, covering agreements with more than 100 carriers, including four phone companies in England and five in Thailand.

    Those who already use Omnipoint just have to ask for the international roaming capability and go through a second credit check; they do not pay any more per month.

    Charges per minute overseas depend on the carrier the caller chooses. In areas with a choice of service, callers can let the phone pick one or investigate costs and choose the carrier themselves.

    Another service from Omnipoint is the Omnirate International calling plan, which allows callers to phone from the United States to 42 countries. For an extra $9.99 a month, outgoing international calls cost 29 or 59 cents per minute, depending on the country. When users travel overseas and receive calls, the cost on the plan is still 29 or 59 cents per minute, compared with the usual 99 cents.

    Sun protection. Want to leave your airplane window shade open and still work on your laptop? Keep glare and prying eyes off your screen with the Adjustable Notebook Visor from a2z Mobile Office Solutions ( The $27.95 item clips on easily and stores flat.

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