Body language basics
Five ways to say no around the globe—without uttering a word.
See the slide show.
Bulgaria • Greece • Malta
Slowly move your head up and back (like half of a nod).
Afghanistan • Iran
Move your head up and back (as above) and click your tongue once.
Brazil • Ecuador • Italy • Mexico
Extend your index finger and move it side to side.
Lebanon • Turkey
Raise your eyebrows one to three times* while clicking your tongue. * Challenging for the Botoxed
Hold your hand in front of you, palm facing out, and wave it from side to side.
Follow up: Using your cell phone in Europe
While reporting the recent story "Using Your Cell Phone in Europe", I was amazed by the intricacies of data plans and hidden charges. I suggested buying a "disposable" phone at a cell phone store or touristy area (between $40 and $75) to avoid fees from your U.S. carrier. But I should have known that savvy readers would chime in with lots of other workarounds when using a cell phone in Europe! There have been some very helpful and thoughtful comments—thanks to you all. Here are a few highlights: Flightdirector says to rent your phone beforehand from a third-party company: "I've rented a phone for both England and Europe (Italy & Greece) from a company called PlanetFone. If you are an AAA member, you are eligible for a discount. One of the nice things about the phone rental program is the availability of an 800 number. People trying to reach you from the US dial the 800 number without having to deal with international exchanges. The phone is sent to you with charger via FedEx and includes a return FedEx envelope. The cost for the phone rental for an upcoming three week vacation in France will cost me about $50." And both Motorcycle Pete and kyvoyageur suggest a similar service called Mobal: "I only pay for it (via my Credit Card) when I use it, and the rates are competitive. The reliable and efficient Siemens phone I purchased was VERY cheap (perhaps $30?) and it hold a charge, un-used, forever," says Motorcycle Pete. And two readers mentioned Skype, a service that uses the internet to make video and voice calls. "If you have a laptop, iPhone, or iPad you can use Skype, but you will be limited on where you can use it. You would need to use it at your hotel or a cafe with WiFi, but it's a lot cheaper than your cell phone provider," says Suzl4. JL75011 also recommended Skype as an app on your smart phone, but also makes this great point: "Keep in mind, some service providers will only allow you to activate international roaming/data plans on the first day of your billing cycle. Don't wait until a few days before you leave. Also, you can deactivate the plan when you return home, so you don't have to keep paying the additional charge every month." MORE "Using Your Cell Phone in Europe"
Last chance for summer!
You've got 55 days to go before autumn officially sets in, and a lot less than that before school starts. So we're wondering how many of you will you make the last days of summer count. Share your plans below.
What is the strangest travel fee that you've encountered?
The single biggest news story in 2010 has been about all of the extra fees that airlines are charging as a way to supplement flagging revenues. In the second quarter alone, the airline industry picked up $2.1 billion in extra fees and charges. In our October Readers' Choice issue, on stands now, we reported the somewhat unsurprising news that among all the many clever new fees, your absolute least favorite charge was the dreaded baggage fee. (Fortunately, with some planning and the right bag it is possible to get by with a carry-on and avoid the checked-bag fee.) Consumers and travel industry professionals are starting to rally together. A collective of groups submitted a petition with thousands of signatures yesterday via the web site, MadAsHellAboutHiddenFees.com, to the Department of Transportation. The goal? To force the airline industry to create greater transparency about fees during the booking process. (Look for the final ruling in Spring 2011.) While baggage fees (and airlines in general) are getting most of our attention, I'm curious to hear about other weirdo charges you've noticed on a bill recently, whether on a cruise, at a hotel, or at the rental car checkout counter. What are some new and bizarre—and perhaps patently unfair—fees you've been stuck with in your travels?
Would you pay extra for an allergy-free room?
Have you ever had trouble getting a good night's sleep in a hotel room because your allergies were acting up? Well, you may be able to breath a little more easily, now that Hyatt Hotels & Resorts has announced it will be outfitting all 125 of its full-service U.S., Canadian, and Caribbean properties with hypoallergenic Respire rooms. The rooms are geared toward travelers with asthma, allergies, and other respiratory sensitivities (more than half the U.S. population has tested positive for one or more allergens, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology), but they'll work just as well for anyone who just wants a better breathing environment. In the past few years, other hotel chains have introduced similar rooms (Wyndham and NYLO, among others) but none to the extent that Hyatt is planning. Respire rooms are currently available to book in 65 Hyatt properties; by year's end it should have a total of 2,000 of the allergy-friendly rooms spread across its Hyatt Resorts, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt, and Andaz brands. How do they work? Each room undergoes a comprehensive, multistep process, implemented by New York–based company Pure Solutions, that involves sanitizing the air unit, treating all surfaces and fabrics to minimize allergens and irritants, installing a medical-grade air purifier, and covering mattresses and pillows with encasings designed to keep allergens out. Huh? Pure Solutions explains the process and science on its website behind it much better than I can here. The result is a room designed to eliminate up to 98 percent of airborne viruses and bacteria, along with pollen and other irritants. I know what you're thinking: Will you feel like you're staying in a hotel, or in a sterilized hospital? It's a valid question; steps other hotels have taken to reduce allergens have included removing carpeting and soft surfaces and replacing them with wood flooring and leather- and vinyl-clad furniture. But the Pure Solutions process is so thorough that those actions aren't needed at Hyatt properties. Your Respire room will feel just as cozy in decor and atmosphere as any other room in that particular hotel. In fact, the only visible difference will be the presence of the air purifier. The rooms, of course, don't come without a price; expect to pay $20 to $30 more for a Respire room. Would you pay a little extra to get a good night's sleep? More from Budget Travel 4 ways to get a free hotel room this fall Nothing to sneeze at: Allergy-free hotel rooms Have a Green Stay America's favorite hotel chains London hotels: Want that towel? You have to pay $2.40