Trip Coach: September 11, 2007

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Peter E. Tarlow, a travel safety expert and president of the Tourism & More consulting company, answered your questions on airport security and general travel safety.

Peter E. Tarlow: Hello, this is Dr. Peter Tarlow speaking to you from the XVI Las Vegas International Conference on Tourism Safety and Security.

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Vancouver, Wash.: I am 24-year-old female and love to travel to new places solo. Keeping safety in mind, which countries should I be the most careful to avoid? Thanks.

Peter E. Tarlow: Try to stay in countries with good tourism police. Often the developing world has a less than positive attitude toward single women. No matter what, trust no one and never allow a male to place you in a position where you cannot call for help

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Charlotte, N.C.: How safe is it to travel in Peru and Ecuador? Are the buses safe? Are the planes safe from Quito to Piura?

Peter E. Tarlow: Buses in the day are safe. Ecuador has had a problem of rapes and crime against visitors. Police are not always honest. Travel with care. Peru is planning on developing next year a tourism security unit.

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Richmond, Va.: My brother is visiting Chile, Argentina and Uraguay. Any problems that I should point out to him? He will be going on a cruise.

Thanks,
Cheryl

Peter E. Tarlow: Just take normal U.S. precautions. Their problems are no worse than in the U.S. Have fun!

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Jenison, Mich.: I plan on taking an empty water bottle through security and then filling it. Where would be the best place? A drinking fountain or the bathroom sink?

Peter E. Tarlow: Bathroom sink...you have no idea whose mouth has touched the drinking fountain.

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Houston, Tex.: Do you see anytime soon the liquid and gel rules changing? The fact that people do still get through security with more than allowed shows that the rule may not really be doing anything to curb dangerous acts.

Peter E. Tarlow: This is being discussed at the Las Vegas tourism security conference being held right now. Unfortunately, airline security is reactive and not proactive. Do not expect a change in the near future.

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Dyer, Ind.: We were hoping to make it to Greece next year in May. Should we wait another year or two because of all the fire damage to the countryside? Photography is one of the reasons we love to travel.

Peter E. Tarlow: Athens and the islands are fine. The people of Greece will appreciate your support and going there now is an act of showing that you care. Most tourism areas should not be impacted by the fires.

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Spring Valley, Calif.: Bali, Indonesia--do you think Americans should try to avoid this region? What is your take on this region?

Peter E. Tarlow: Go, but be very careful. Bali's website--at least the last time we checked--does not even mention security and often its tourism people are in denial.

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Minneapolis, Minn.: Is there a definitive way of finding out beforehand what purchases from duty free shops overseas are and are not allowed to be brought on board an aircraft? On a return trip from Portugal last year, I was not allowed to bring on board candy that I wished to purchase at the duty free in Lisbon. Luckily, when the cashier saw from my boarding pass that I was traveling on Continental, he told me it wouldn't be allowed. Same for perfumes, wine, and other products. When I asked the Continental agent at check in if there were any restrictions, she said there weren't. I seem to have the same dilemma with trying to figure out what can and cannot go through security in terms of makeup items. Thanks.

Peter E. Tarlow: We are chatting about this at the Las Vegas tourism security conference. If it is a direct flight, you should not have any problems. The issue becomes if after you arrive in the U.S., you have a connecting flight, then the liquid rules apply. Always declare all items to U.S. Customs; they are much nicer to people who tell the truth.

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Staunton, Va.: Going to Cabo San Lucas on October 13th. I take about 7 prescriptions that come in a 90-day supply bottle. Is it ok to take them in a weekly pill box or do I have to bring tnem in the large bottles? Thank you, Two Seniors

Peter E. Tarlow: Go to your pharmacist and get perscriptions in smaller bottles or carry a note from your doctor on his medical stationary explaining what you are taking with you. Use the Latin or technical name for the medication.

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Philadelphia, Pa.: Hi, Peter. I wanted to plan walking the trail system in France with a female friend (I'm also a woman.) We were looking at the easier hikes in the Loire or Burgundy areas. But, we were discouraged by others who said that it wasn't safe. Our husbands, who don't speak French and have no interest in a walking trip, aren't dying to go. What's you opinion about the safety issue for two women alone? Do you think it's real or just others imposing their own insecurities on the situation? Thank you for considering this question.

Peter E. Tarlow: In the end we are in God's hands, but I would oppose my wife making this trip. I cannot guarantee that you will be safe and better safe than sorry.

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Macon, Miss.: We are two ladies traveling to Port of Spain, Trinidad, for carnival. Leaving Feb 2nd, 2008; returning Feb. 11, 2008. Flying Atlanta to Trinidad, non-stop. What should be our greatest concern for safety? Thanks, Patricia

Peter E. Tarlow: Sexual assault, robbery, and kidnapping.

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Charlotte, N.C.: Hi. I have been living in the U.S. as a green card holder--so besides Puerto Rico and Canada, which other countries can I visit without applying for a visa? Or can I get a visa at that specific country's airport? Thanks.

Peter E. Tarlow: It depends on the passport that you hold. Check with the country who issued your passport and they can tell you where you need a visa for or not. Your green card has nothing to do with a need for visas.

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San Diego, Calif.: Other than registering with the local embassies and keeping copies of passports with you and back at home, are there other precautionary actions that should be taken in case of civil unrest, accidents, or emergencies while traveling abroad?

Peter E. Tarlow: Make sure that you have the name of a doctor you can call upon and if your health insurance is valid for the part of the world in which you are traveling. Check with state department for additional updates and make sure someone at home also has a copy of your passport. If possible, get it notorized.

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St Louis, Mo.: We all know there are TSA-approved locks for our luggage. A debate is ongoing among my friends about whether it's best to lock up your bags when checking them. Some say that TSA is most likely to open/inspect just the locked bags, and never bother the unlocked bags. I still prefer to TSA-lock my checked baggage to minimize "snoopers" getting into my luggage. What's your opinion on the locked vs. non-locked issue?

Peter E. Tarlow: I never lock my bags. If you cannot afford to loose it, do not take it.

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Washington, D.C.: Do all airlines that fly to the U.S. comply with regulatory safety procedures imposed by the U.S.? If so, who oversees these airlines, and are headquarters in a different country?

Peter E. Tarlow: Airlines are checked in the U.S. If they fail, they do not come back. Most First world/developed countries have very similiar rules and security is standardized. Be more careful of airlines from developing nations.

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Abilene, Tex.: We will be in St. Lucia October 25-30, 2007. Other than "don't drink the water", what are the 2-3 top concerns/safety tips for any destination outside the U.S.?

Thanks,
Lorne

Peter E. Tarlow: Often the water may be safe. Check with the local authorities regarding crime. Use common sense, travel as if you would in any new place and always remember if you cannot afford to loose it, do not take it. Travel with less and never leave unprotected articles in your room.

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Carson, Tex.: Theft on flights...Does this happen?

Peter E. Tarlow: Yes, often. Especially when people go to the bathroom. Place articles on the rack opposite to where you are seated rather than over your head.

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Lemon Grove, Calif.: Are there any countries now that Americans should be VERY cautious about traveling to that has not been publicized through our media?

Peter E. Tarlow: Haiti, the Caribbean, much of Central America and parts of Mexico and South America. Please be careful when traveling. That is why we hold a annual tourism security conference in Las Vegas.

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San Francisco, Calif.: Has London's tourism industry suffered as of late because of the attacks & attempts recently? Any advice or precautions that should be taken while visiting now since they seem to be targeting touristy areas?

Peter E. Tarlow: Not much. London suffers from crime and high prices, but has a very good and efficient police force.

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Hampton, Va.: What airlines do you all feel are rated highly on security checks and thoroughness of the safety of its passengers?

Peter E. Tarlow: El Al is the best. U.S. carriers are adquate and all follow the same regulations.

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Los Angeles, CA: I'm looking into volunteer abroad programs where you work with local NGOS on community development. I'm thinking about going to Morocco or India. Is it unsafe for an Americanized Asian female to live there for a period of 2-3 months?

Peter E. Tarlow: Be careful. It is a question of luck and how well you comport yourself while you are abroad. Higher probability of being robbed than kidnapped. Never let your guard down, especially in the developing world.

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Palestine, Tex.: When traveling to crime-infested big cities overseas, any recommendations on where to store or hide purchases, tickets, etc., in hotel rooms that do not provide safe deposit boxes?

Peter E. Tarlow: If the hotel does not provide a safe deposit box, it is probaly not safe. Pick another hotel. Saving a few dollars is not worth an assault or the hassle of losing your passport.

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Milwaukee, Wis.: I'll be traveling throughout the Hawaiian Islands in March with my young granddaughter. I'm 65 with totally white hair, born and raised in the U.S., but I keep being pulled out of line for additional security. My concern now is losing my granddaughter in the crowds through security if I'm again pulled out of line. I can't imagine what I'm doing wrong in going through security. I don't set off any alarms, I try to arrange my purse and carry on for easy x-ray and generally they never open them. Only once did they examine my DVD player with their special wipes--otherwise everything goes through without a problem. Please help keep my from losing my granddaughter.

Peter E. Tarlow: Ask security if your granddaughter can be with you should you be pulled out of line, then check to make sure that your name is not accidently on a terrorist list.

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Pomona, Calif.: I see a breakdown in security enforcement at the airports. What's going on?

Peter E. Tarlow: Some airports are excellent and some are not. You cannot control TSA so try to use airports with good security. Unfortunately, airport security is not standardized around the U.S. In the end there is always risk in travel.

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Arroyo Grande, Calif.: I paint in oils and need turpentine to clean brushes and palette. When planning a trip via air, can I pack turpentine, or turp substitute in my packed bag, or is that a fire hazard? Is there a proper container to use if I can bring this item? Thank you.

Peter E. Tarlow: Check with your local TSA airport representative and show him/her the container to get the best information.

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Los Gatos, CA: Going to Costa Rica in December. Are there any safety tips you have for traveling in that country that we should be aware of?

Peter E. Tarlow: Yes, be careful of sexual assaults, what is called, sequestro expres, or short term kidnappings, and general robberies. Costa Rica's crime rate has risen recently so be very careful.

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Peter E. Tarlow: Thank you for your wonderful questions. The Las Vegas tourism security and safety conference is going on right now to try to promote travel safety. Please remember to ask before you travel and always use good common sense. --Peter Tarlow

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