Trip Coach: May 9, 2006
Peter Laufer and Sheila Swan, authors of Safety and Security for Women Who Travel, answered your questions on Travel Safety
Peter Laufer and Sheila Swan: Welcome! Let's get to your questions on travel safety.
Fountain Valley, CA: I have a daughter that I need a passport for. Her father isn't around, nor can be found. I have 100% custody because he never contested, but there is no paperwork stating such, it just is. Therefore, how can I get her a passport if he can't/won't sign and there is no court order? -Trudy
Peter Laufer and Sheila Swan: Dear Trudy, We're quite sure your signature will be enough, but all the rules and regulations are available at most local post offices, just check with your postmaster for the one closest to you. Best, Sheila and Peter.
Hong Kong, China: Hi, I have a planned trip to Hong Kong for May 18-28, 2006. It will be myself and another girl both 27 years old. We are concerned with safety. We'd like to include a side trip to Malaysia or Philippines. Our interest is getting both beach and city and exploring culture for Hong Kong and Malaysia. Any suggestion would be helpful like cheap airfare, best scuba local, hiking, city life, etc. Thank you!
Peter Laufer and Sheila Swan: Boy, you really are waiting until the last minute to plan this jaunt! Seek bargain airfares via the Internet at sites such as expedia and travelocity, but know that many such tickets mandate NO changes. Guidebooks from Rough Guides and Lonely Planet offer specific destinations suggestions. Use common urban sense in Hong Kong, and you'll be as safe as you can be, in the countryside of Malaysia and the Phillippines you MUST do some homework first and learn aboout those regions where it is possible to encounter potentially dangerous circumstances. Check with the State Department (which you can do on line at State.gov). Best, Sheila and Peter
Lewiston, ID: I am going to Venice in October. Is there a safe place to stay that is reasonably priced? I will be in Venice for 4 days.
Peter Laufer and Sheila Swan: Venice is realtively safe, but reasonably priced? Not by Lewiston standards. Best advice for you if money is a key concern: find a package tour before you leave. Best, Sheila and Peter
Raleigh, NC: My husband and I are in our 30's, and have 2-3 weeks to take a dream trip to India this August or September. We're definitely interested in seeing the Taj Mahal - what are the other "must-sees" you would recommend? We're very interested in natural beauty as well as cultural immersion. Also, we're not sure if independent travel would be either unsafe or too chaotic - what are some good budget-friendly but reliable tour operators? Thanks very much!
Peter Laufer and Sheila Swan: Perhaps divide your trip between an organzied tour group for the must-see destinations followed by a second honeymoon-type period of the two of you meandering around the countryside. By doing the group tour first you'll have a good sense of your safety needs. To choose a good tour operator, pick a few you think are appealing and ask them for references from past customers. Best, Sheila and Peter
Honolulu, HI: How safe is the water in China and Hong Kong? Many guides indicate not to use hotel water even for brushing teeth. However, during our pre-departure briefing, our tour leader indicated this practice is safe, along with using ice cubes -- this is in 4- and 5-star hotels, if that makes a difference. We are confused by the conflicting guidance. What is safe, and what isn't?
Peter Laufer and Sheila Swan: Hong Kong is First World. Don't worry about their water. But no matter what anyone says, as soon as you cross into what we used to call Red China, it should be bottled water only no matter what, including teeth brushing. Sure, that fancy hotel may have a purifier -- and maybe it's out of order the day you stay. Best, Sheila and Peter
Mesa, AZ: Going to the Czech Republic July 19th through August 3rd alone. Have never travelled outside the U.S. before but in this case I have a basic Czech vocabulary. What precautions should a women take in this country and what is the best way to bankroll this vacation besides cash? - Holly
Peter Laufer and Sheila Swan: Take the same precautions you'd take in Chicago or New York, and that includes carrying no more cash than you can afford to loose. Your ATM will not only provide you money when you need it, but at a good exchange rate. Best, Sheila and Peter
Clearwater, FL: I would love to travel to Egypt in Jan. 07 but fear of safety is stopping me and my husband from making our plans. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks, Pat