From the June 1999 issue of Entrepreneur

Missing a flight. Ignoring local customs. Forgetting your passport. Chances are you've made at least one of these mistakes while traveling overseas.

Put an end to the mishaps. Several travel organizations recently compiled a list of common slip-ups, along with ways to prevent them from happening:

1. Not showing up far enough in advance for your flight. An airline can deny you boarding access if you arrive less than 10 minutes before a domestic flight or less than half an hour before an international flight is scheduled to depart. "Arrive at least one hour before your domestic flight, and two hours before for international, and plan for delays such as traffic jams," advises Bridget Kimmel of Philadelphia-based corporate travel management company Rosenbluth International.

2. Not learning local customs. Declining a cup of Turkish coffee in the Middle East or missing a business meeting by a few minutes in Central Europe can offend your host and ruin a po-
tential deal. "Travelers shouldn't tell jokes in business situations," says Jennifer Demmert, a sales and marketing representative for Kroll Information Services. "It might not translate well, and the guest could end up offending [his or her host]."

3. Not getting your papers in order. Leaving your passport at home or failing to obtain the right visa or permit can stop a trip cold. And going home might be difficult if your passport expires while you're on a business trip. "It can cause anything from a slight inconvenience to a major disaster," notes Vincent Vitti, president of VTS Travel, a New York City-based business travel agency. Another common problem: recently married women whose IDs still carry their maiden name.


Christopher Elliott is a writer in Annapolis, Maryland, and a columnist for ABC News Online. Contact him at http://www.elliott.org

Tune It Out

Gonna block that noise right out of your head

Ever wanted to shut out engine noise on a flight? Earplugs are helpful, but the most damaging sound waves go through the foam, raising your blood pressure and increasing your stress level.

The latest noise-canceling devices block harmful sounds, allowing you to reach your destination rested and ready for business. They send "antinoise" signals through the headsets; when you turn one on, the cabin appears to go quiet, as if someone cut the engines.

Two of the most popular models are the $200 Koss Quiet Zone 2000 from Koss Corp. and NCT Group Inc.'s $69 NoiseBuster. Each cuts harmful sounds and features adaptors that tap into the plane's in-flight entertainment system. In other words: free movies--although there have been reports of flight attendants demanding the $5 rental fee all the same.

The downsides are the price and required batteries, as well as the gadgets' impractical nature. Sleeping on the plane is impossible; you can't roll over if you're wearing one. And it's hard to remember to turn the device off after use because there's nothing audible coming out of the headphones.

Road Notes

  • Electric Fuel Corp. has introduced five disposable batteries for the Nokia 5100 and 6100 mobile phone series; the Ericsson 300, 600 and 800 series; the Motorola MicroTAC; and two for the Motorola StarTAC series. The batteries will cost approximately $19.95 to $29.95 per unit.
  • Southwest Airlines has added new daily nonstop service from Nashville, Tennessee to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as well as nonstop service from Chicago Midway to Houston and Phoenix.
  • This summer, Hertz will install 50,000 next-generation navigational technology systems in its auto fleet. The deployment of the new NeverLost system means more rental cars will offer user-friendly route guidance and detailed turn-by-turn driving directions.

Contact Sources

Electric Fuel Corp.,http://www.electric-fuel.com

Hertz, (800) 654-3131, http://www.hertz.com

Koss Corp., (800) USA-KOSS, http://www.koss.com

Kroll Information Services, (703) 319-8050, http://kins.kroll-ogara.com

NCT Group Inc., (800) 278-3526

Rosenbluth International, fax: (215) 977-4026, bkimmel@rosenbluth.com

Southwest Airlines, (800) I-FLY-SWA, http://www.southwest.com

VTS Travel,http://www.vtstravel.com