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Travelers' Aid

Losing Your Stuff and Holiday Travel
November 17, 2000

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Last week we received a postcard from a woman who literally lost it in a Bangkok market. She reached into her purse and found her money, her credit cards, her passport, gone! Always, take at least one copy of all crucial documents. I keep two or three sets tucked away in a number of different places. Those first two pages of your passport are essential. Also copy any visas you need for your trip and your doctor's prescriptions, should you lose important medicine. These days, color copies are definitely preferred. If you lose your wallet, or your passport is stolen, and you can't get a replacement, American embassies will sometimes give your copies the official stamp, making them as good as the genuine article.

What's far more traumatic is when your luggage doesn't turn up AT ALL. When this happens, be prepared to write lots of letters to the airline. Include with each one a list of contents, the date each item was purchased, and how much everything cost. Now, maximum liability for a bag usually taps out at 1,250 dollars, so it goes without saying never to check any really valuable items. Meantime, think about splitting your suitcase: if you're traveling with someone, especially this Thanksgiving, put half your stuff in their bag, and half of theirs in yours. Also check your credit cards because sometimes they give you protection you don't even know you have.

Now, if you plan on traveling this week, you might also want to find a way to protect your sanity! Some travel experts predict this Thanksgiving weekend will be one for the record books. Twenty million people will be flying. Now, you know the obvious: allow plenty of time, paper tickets are better than electronic should problems arise - tired and cranky kids are better than sugared-out and screaming, yada, yada.

But if you think it's tough on you, have pity on those Brits in America. More than Independence Day, Thanksgiving is a holiday of rejection-"take that Queen Mother, Mother England. We can do it without you. Just fine, thank you very much."

And, no matter if you're traveling this Thanksgiving or not it's a big week ahead. Holiday stress can either wreck a vacation or, in that rare case, conspire to make every perfect. One of my most memorable holidays was a Thanksgiving I spent in Cairo, Egypt. It was just my girlfriend and me, eating Indian food, right next to the pyramids. Not quite traditional, but since when is enjoying the holidays a tradition?

If you'd like us to address your travel questions or concerns, send us an email. Or, you can snail-mail them in. The address is The Savvy Traveler, in care of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90007. Or call me at 888-SAV-TRAV.


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