Peter Greenberg recommends buying third-party medical evacuation and repatriation insurance when you travel. Watch his latest CBS This Morning report for a quick overview of types of travel insurance.

When Travelers Take Too Many Risks is a series of articles from the NYT inspired by the recent incidents in which “reckless” American travelers were detained after illegally entering North Korea and Iran. The articles present a range of thoughtful—and thought-provoking—opinions, including these:

  • While Americans are celebrating the return of journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling after four months of captivity in North Korea, there’s also been an inevitable backlash. Some commentators have suggested that their actions — and the pardons apparently negotiated in exchange for a visit by President Clinton — have jeopardized U.S. strategic interests….

    Whatever the particulars of these two cases, the argument misses the broader point. We as a society benefit enormously from the work of U.S. journalists who travel to remote and dangerous places and report back on what they see.

April 16, 2009
8:00 am

Thanks to April Orcutt for forwarding this message from the Sierra Club, plus links for more information.

General Info Speaking Guidelines

Dear Concerned Citizens,

Speak Up Now to Save Our Coasts!
Now is your chance to send a clear message that America needs clean energy, not more risky offshore oil drilling.

This Thursday, April 16, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will hold a public hearing in San Francisco to find out how Americans feel about the expanded offshore drilling the oil industry is pushing for. Secretary Salazar needs to see that what Americans really want is clean energy and the jobs that come with it — not more dirty offshore drilling. The most important thing you can do is show up at the hearing and make your voice heard.

Thanks to Kathy Ketman for this news from a friend in Glasgow:

“things are positive here in glasgow despite the scare at the airport (modern life). people are focusing on the qualities of mr smeaton (a glaswegian … who knocked one of the attackers to the ground) rather than thinking about the scary but fairly small risks. thanks for checking on us.”
Quotes re mr smeaton “A braveheart for a modern Scotland that treats terrorism with a stiff right hook rather than a stiff upper lip.”

Airplane ear pain?

December 11, 2006 | Leave a Comment

Anybody else suffer from “airplane ears”? I just discovered USA Today columnist David Grossman’s website, which includes an article on preventing ear pain on airplanes, as well as lots of other articles of interest to business travelers.

Diabetes Emergency Cards

June 18, 2006 | Comments Off on Diabetes Emergency Cards

“In response to growing demand from customers with serious food allergies and other medical problems, SelectWisely now offers travel translation cards for medical emergencies and, in particular, diabetes emergencies. The new Diabetes Emergency card is used to communicate a serious diabetes condition, ask for a doctor or to be taken to a hospital. The card is a simple-to-use, easy-to-carry tool that travelers can keep in their pocket or wallet and use in the event of a medical emergency.


Emergency Preparedness

June 11, 2006 | Comments Off on Emergency Preparedness

I recently heard an American Red Cross presentation about emergency preparedness. It was the usual stuff we all know and mostly haven’t taken care of, like keeping a pair of sturdy shoes and a flashlight tied to your bedpost, and not sleeping underneath mirrors, but it got me to thinking about emergency preparedness for travelers.

In the Bay Area we tend to think of an emergency as something like the Loma Preita quake but bigger, or the Oakland fire. Preparedness is all about clearing brush away from your house, having canned goods and other appropriate supplies at hand, knowing how to shut off your gas supply, and trying to remember whether the “pyramid of life” technique does or does not reflect the current thinking about what to do during an earthquake.

Travel Warnings

May 29, 2006 | Comments Off on Travel Warnings

Here’s the link for the U.S. Department of State’s current travel warnings.

May 29, 2006 | Comments Off on

“Welcome to, the Internet’s foremost travel insurance comparison site. With our diverse selection of more than 100 travel insurance plans from 19 leading companies, no other site matches our product depth, comparison features, or customer service.

“At, you can compare each policy and get the information you need to purchase travel insurance with confidence.”

Travel emergencies

May 29, 2006 | Comments Off on Travel emergencies

Thanks to Karen Misuraca for sending the link to this article by Tiffany Sharples from about What to Do When There’s a Travel Emergency. Very basic, but it covers everything from losing your wallet, passport, or traveling companion to getting into trouble with the local law.

The short story: “Make a photocopy of your passport, … [and write] down contact info for your health insurer, credit card companies, and bank.”


March 31, 2006 | Comments Off on Minimus

Minimus “for all your travel size item needs” offers travel-sized packages of food, snacks, condiments, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, laundry supplies, and interesting specialty items like the “bug button” (pin-on insect repellant that lasts up to 60 hours), no-rinse shampoo, “pre-contact” poison ivy protection, a military field kit, hand warmer packets, and (don’t leave home without it) got2b Spiked Up hair gel. On sale when I checked: Smuckers Diet Concord Grape Spread and Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce Green.

Central Home Automation Director (CHAD)

June 4, 2005 | Comments Off on Central Home Automation Director (CHAD)

CHAD looks like a very useful geek-device, especially for travelers. It works with your existing windows XP system, high-speed web access, and home wiring. If you decide to try it, please let me know!

“Web-enabled, affordable [starts at $129; free upgrades], and user-friendly, CHAD allows your computer to automatically control and monitor your lamps, appliances, thermostat, sprinklers, audio/video system, and almost anything in your home or apartment while at home, or away.

Lactose Intolerant?

December 19, 2004 | Comments Off on Lactose Intolerant?

SelectWisely has just introduced its Lactose Intolerance multi-language card to help international travelers with food allergies.

“Our personalized food translation cards are now available in 12 languages, 40 foods and 7 cards. We service travelers with food allergies, food restrictions or food sensitivities who are traveling in foreign speaking countries where they don’t speak the language.

Home Page

Lactose card

Traveling with food allergies?

September 18, 2004 | Comments Off on Traveling with food allergies? offers wallet-sized, laminated translation cards for individuals with food allergies traveling in countries where they don’t speak the language. The website lets travelers create personalized cards specific to their needs. Travel writers: this would make an excellent topic for an article on travel resources, international dining or traveling with food allergies. offers cards:
– in 12 different languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Greek, German, Russian, Polish, 2 forms of Chinese and 2 forms of Portuguese, English)
– including 37 different foods (all common allergy foods such as nuts, milk, shellfish, wheat and eggs and as well as less common foods such as pine nuts, mushrooms and peas)
– in 6 different card types (single languages and multiple languages/foods per card).

Mosquito repellants

June 11, 2004 | Comments Off on Mosquito repellants

I just received one of those “junk” emails with suggestions for mosquito repellants, and it got me thinking…travel writers, of all people, should know how to keep mosquitoes away. Do any of you recommend these or other products/techniques:

Avon Skin-So-Soft bath oil mixed about half and half with alcohol
Bounce Fabric Softener Sheets
Vanilla that is sold in Mexico (natural, pure)
Vitimin B-1 (Thiamine Hydrochloride) 100 mg./day
Vick’s Vaporub

Also, avoid eating bananas.

Travel Health and Medicine

May 17, 2004 | Comments Off on Travel Health and Medicine

Travel Medicine offers an excellent downloadable Travel Health Guide (e.g., more comprehensive information about prevention and treatment of malaria than I found on the CDC site), a worldwide travel clinic directory, a disease risk advisory guide by country, and travelers information such as maps, weather, currencies, exchange rates, voltage, embassies and consulates, tourism offices, and postal codes.

They also sell travel health products such as Ultrathon high-powered insect repellant (developed for military, nearly 100% effective), jellyfish sting protection, medical kits and first-aid supplies, water purification products, electrical adaptors, and a variety of travel accessories.

Adventure Medical Kits

May 17, 2004 | Comments Off on Adventure Medical Kits

The goal at Adventure Medical Kits is “to provide outdoor adventurers and travelers with the most comprehensive and innovative first aid kits and information resources possible.” Kits are customized depending on the number of people, length of trip, and whether travel is to a developed or developing country. Special kits are available for wilderness travel, cycling, climbing, camping, marine travel, and others. An herbal medicine kit and gear repair kits (e.g., tent repair, backpack repair) are also available. Prices start at $7.

This site is where I discovered Lonely Planet’s Healthy Travel Guide series. There are guides to Africa; Asian and India; Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific; and Central and South Aamerica. Each book contains:

Herbal Drug Is Embraced in Treating Malaria

May 10, 2004 | Comments Off on Herbal Drug Is Embraced in Treating Malaria

A “new” antimalarial drug based on the plant wormwood may soon be widely available. The New York Times article I read says the drug has “no significant side effects,” which is good news, since Larium (a widely-used antimalarial) has been known to cause psychotic episodes (that’s one side-effect I definitely do not want to experience). It’s also ironic, since wormwood is used to make absinthe.

Nope to NOP (Nalgene Outdoor Products)?

April 25, 2004 | Comments Off on Nope to NOP (Nalgene Outdoor Products)?

What traveler hasn’t used a plastic water bottle to stay hydrated? Recent articles suggest that Nalgene, and even single-use plastic water bottles, may be harmful to our health. Learn more in this article by Brenna Doheny of the Oregon State Daily Barometer. Thanks to Karla Jacobs for forwarding the information.

World Travel Watch

February 19, 2004 | Comments Off on World Travel Watch

World Travel Watch
: Updated weekly. Larry Habegger and James O’Reilly reporting on security and safety issues to help you make informed judgments about travel. (Because conditions can change overnight, always make your own inquiries before you leave home.)

Practical Nomad

February 19, 2004 | Comments Off on Practical Nomad

Edward Hasbrouck’s Practical Nomad offers travel planning resources and advice, includes info about traveling in this time of war, airline bankruptcies.


February 19, 2004 | Comments Off on DangerFinder

Robert Young Pelton’s Come Back Alive includes the DangerFinder guide to the world’s most dangerous places. (You decide what to do with the information.)

Center for Disease Control

February 19, 2004 | Comments Off on Center for Disease Control

The Center for Disease Control, so you can be sure to get the right shots (no, not photos) before you travel.

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