Boarding Pass

By David Tykol

Dear Globetrotter:
Welcome to the 354th issue of your monthly overseas travel magazine.

In the June issue I mentioned that police in Malaysia had arrested criminals who possessed a machine that, using info gathered tapping into banks’ phone lines, could forge credit cards. I added that four credit card companies did not reply to ITN when we asked how travelers might avoid becoming victims and what to do if they did fall prey.

Seeing that, ITN subscriber Janet Nelson of Ashland, Oregon, passed along some advice from her daughter, Carol Benson, who works for a payment consultant firm.

Carol points out that if you look at your statements each month and report any fraudulent charges, those charges are the bank’s problem, not yours. So if you’re going to be traveling for a long time, have your credit card statements and bank statements forwarded to you so you can keep watch.

Carol adds that you can carry just one credit card, but always have a second one available which you don’t use, just in case the first card is compromised.

Janet says she’s traveled in 75 countries in 20 years using these tips and has never had a problem.

It isn’t just credit card fraud that travelers need to watch out for these days, of course. ITN heard from former Chief of Security for the United Nations Michael McCann, who was responsible for protecting delegates, staff and visiting dignitaries on trips overseas. Emphasizing foremost that “Personal security cannot be delegated to others; it is a responsibility of each one of us,” he has compiled a number of safety tips for travelers, including the following.

• Review your passport to ensure that you have at least six months remaining on its validity. Make copies of the page containing your photo and leave one with your family or a close friend and place another copy in your carry-on bag and in your luggage. Any documents carried are subject to search and seizure, so be sure to have other copies or master files at home on your computer.

• Before departing, inform your family or close friends of your complete itinerary. While traveling, discretion is the better part of valor; there’s no security benefit to publicizing your itinerary and travel plans except on a need-to-know basis.

• Know your blood type.

• Always identify your luggage with your business (not home) address and telephone number.

• Flashy and expensive jewelry and watches are best left at home.

• While it’s an American tradition to “help thy neighbor,” go in the opposite direction of any disturbance you encounter during your travels overseas. Remain vigilant about where you are in relation to exits so that you’re able to quickly depart.

• Ignorance isn’t bliss when traveling overseas. Read up on the current political profile of the country you’re visiting. For country-specific travel warnings and security reports, visit the U.S. Department of State website or call the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202/647-5225. Automatic fax instructions for country reports can be obtained by dialing 202/647-3000.

• The State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council offers a brochure, “Personal Security for the American Business Traveler Overseas.” It is available online at, or you can obtain a free copy by calling 202/663-0869.

Michael McCann now heads McCann Protective Services in New York. His company delivers customized security services for the diplomatic community, corporate executives and celebrities. He can be reached by e-mail at mmccann4@

ITN has been reporting on the seesawing regulations regarding lighters on planes (March ’05, pg. 2 & May ’05, pg. 22). Here’s the latest.

The Transportation Security Administration ruled that, as of May 16, new, never-filled, liquid-fuel lighters can be placed in checked luggage on board commercial airliners.

Soon after that announcement, Zippo Manufacturing Company received an exemption for its customers. As of June 22 (and, for now, until Oct. 31), up to two filled Zippo lighters — and only Zippo lighters — are allowed in checked luggage if each lighter is packed in its own air-tight Zippo Cargo Case by OtterBox, as specified by the Department of Transportation (TSA). The TSA will be issuing revised screening procedures to accommodate the exempted packaging.

The OtterBox costs $12.95 and can be ordered at the website www. Zippo can be reached in Bradford, Pennsylvania, at 814/368-2700.

Kiti Laisure of Cathedral City, California, e-mailed, “I read in ITN about the GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) phone from (March ’05, pg. 83). I ordered one for myself and one for a friend. This is the greatest thing since sliced bread!

• Nancy Bubel of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, proposes a topic on which she’d like to see readers write: Most Incongruous Sight Seen in My Travels.

To get the ball rolling, she offers, “For us, it would be the two Ecuadorian musicians in July 2003 playing pan pipes in Rynek Square in pleasant Myslenice, a lovely town in Poland that is not frequented by tourists. And they were surprised when we greeted them in Spanish.”

Camille Williamson of Burbank, California, wrote, “Enclosed is my list of trips and dates plus a check for an ITN Seven Continents Award certificate that has taken me 87 years to earn!

“I would never have made Antarctica without ITN and the wonderful articles re the White Continent and contacting all the tour companies advertising trips there in ITN. I chose Elegant Cruises & Tours and it proved to be an excellent choice. The m.s. Andrea was a charming, intimate and most comfortable way to experience this remote continent. Thanks for your informative and interesting publication.”

Taking us out this month is Bill O’Connell of Castro Valley, California, who submitted the following with the simple note, “My aunt in Missouri sent me this joke”:

A woman went into a beauty solon to get her hair cut. She said to the hairdresser, “I’m so excited. I’m leaving tomorrow on a trip to Rome.”

The beautician said, “That’s one place I don’t want to go. I hear the city is dirty, the people are rude and the ruins aren’t so great. How are you flying?”

“We’re going Continental.”

“I’ve heard that’s an unpleasant trip. The seats are uncomfortable and the food and service are bad. What hotel are you staying at?”

“The Monte Carlo.”

“They say that’s the worst hotel in town. I suppose you’ll try to see the Pope?”

“Yes, we have an audience with the Pope.”

“Well, he will be too far away to recognize, but have a good trip.”

Two weeks later the lady returned to the salon and the hairdresser asked, “How was your trip?”

“It was all wonderful.”

“Did you see the Pope?”

“Yes, I was at the end of the line and he bent over and spoke to me personally.”

“Well, what did he say?”

“He said, ‘Who on Earth gave you that horrible haircut?”

Remember to send in your ITN Report Cards (see opposite page). Have a good trip!— D.T.