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Tips for Great Summer Vacation

By Patricia Yevics
Director, Law Office Management
Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.

On the Road Again:  Tips for Great Travel this Summer

In this month’s article we are going to take a break from office management, technology, blawgs etc.  We are not going to talk about the value and importance of taking time off.  We are assuming that you understand the importance of taking time off to rejuvenate (Please see loma.typepad.com for information on the importance of time off)

            Flying has become quite a hassle but there are some tips that you should follow to make the process easier.
            **  Although you can get some really great deals at the last minute, unless you have the luxury of just dropping everything to take a great deal, it is best to book early.  You should also have tentative hotel/lodging reservations before making airline tickets. 
            Most tickets are now electronic.  Save your confirmation.  You can also sign up for email/voice mail messages regarding any changes to your flight.  Most airlines will allow you to pick your seat (except Southwest) in advance and print your boarding pass. 
**  If possible travel during off peak hours.  It really does make the process smoother.  If you can avoid the typical Saturday – Saturday, you can save a lot of aggravation and often get some better prices.
            **  Vacations are meant to be as hassle free as possible so try to get to the airport as early as possible. There is a site, http://waittime.tsa.dhs.gov/index.html, that will actually give you average wait times for airlines at most airports.  
**  Dress so that getting through security is not a problem or hassle .  Do not wear clothing or jewelry that will set off the metal detectors.  Wear shoes that can be removed easily.  This is also true for children. 
            **  Pack correctly.  Do not include any prohibited items in your carry on luggage.  Don’t assume that an item is not prohibited.  For a list of all permitted and prohibited items, go to the www.TSATravelTips.us
            Put all film in your carry on luggage.  Scanning machines for checked luggage will destroy film. 
            Put your name both inside and outside your luggage.  Do NOT lock your luggage.  If necessary TSA agents will cut open your luggage if there in any suspicion there may be a problem.  Do NOT assume there will not be a problem.  The TSA (Transportation Security Agency) recommends two types of locks that all TSA screeners can open if necessary rather than cutting the luggage.  The two companies are www.travelsentry.org and safeskieslocks.com.
            Do not put anything valuable in the front zippered sections of your luggage.  (Just trust me.)
            Carry all medications in your carry on luggage.  If necessary, take an extra prescription or note from your doctor if there is any concern you may need to refill.
            **  A great site to get information from other travelers is at www.tripadvisor.com.  There are forums for locations all over the world and people review lodgings and restaurants.  Some of the forums are very helpful.  We are going to Cape Cod for 10 days and this site has helped me decide which town to stay in and which hotel to consider. 
            **  Another good site for reviews of restaurants is www.zagat.com.  It does require a fee to subscribe but if you travel it is worth the price.  It is $24.95 a year for a full listing of hotels, entertainment and restaurants and $19.95 a year for restaurants only.
            ** Traveling with your Pet: If you are considering traveling with your pet, there are some good tips at http://tinyurl.com/a742t
            ** Auto Travel:  If you are traveling by car, more tips are available at http://www.edmunds.com/reviews/list/top10/105722/article.html.
            An excellent new service by Google is its maps.  Go to www.maps.google.com.  It will pinpoint exact addresses.  It is a great tool.  There is also the reliable www.mapquest.com.
            ** Another concern when you travel especially for extended periods is your own home.  If you travel in the summer, it is important that someone take care of any plants you may have on your porch or deck.  Dying plants could be a sign that no one is home.  Since we have had pets, we always have someone come to the house to walk and take care of the dogs.  In addition, they take in the mail, newspapers etc.  Even if you are gone for just a few days, it is important not to have a few days of newspapers on the lawn. 
            ** If you are interested in some of the new adventure travels, a good place to start is www.specialtytravel.com.  If you are traveling to Europe or beyond, you can get information on security issues all over the world from the US State Department at http://travel.state.gov.
            ** Staying Connected:  It is possible to find Internet Cafes throughout the world by going to http://www.world66.com/netcafeguide.  If you are planning to take your laptop and it is set up for wireless connection, you can find hot spots by going to either www.wifi411.com, www.wifimaps.com or www.wi-fihotspotlist.com.  Many hotels also offer free wi-fi.  Keep in mind that your laptop must have protection against viruses before using these sites which can be breeding grounds for viruses.  A good article to read before considering using these hot spots is at About.com at http://mobileoffice.about.com/cs/findinghotspots/bb/byusehotspot.htm
            And Finally: Many years ago, I said that one of the tests that all couple should take before they should be allowed to marry is to spend three weeks together in a car with a map.  If you can do that, your marriage has a better chance than most.  An amusing if not serious article on couples traveling together, can be found at a site Third Age,  http://tinyurl.com/7qzo9.  Worth reading even for long time couples.  It always helps to be reminded. 

            Have a great summer and see you at the 7th Annual Solo and Small Firm Conference on Friday and Saturday, November 4 & 5, 2005 at the BWI Marriott.


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