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Sunday November 28, 2004, 16:46

Rule #1 - Whenever possible, when traveling by land, in the United States (or other countries in which the driving happens on the right as opposed to countries like England, where the driving happens on the other side) make the effort to sit on the right side of the vehicle. As the driving will be happening on the right, the seats on the right side tend to remain unobstructed by other traffic, offering more views of scenery. This does not work if you are, say, driving up the side of a mountain. In those instances, you should make every effort to sit on the side of the vehicle unobstructed by the mountain, because, let's face it, once you've seen one rock, you've seen them all.

Rule #2 - When you find yourself traveling by airplane, revel in the glory that is modern air travel. That, despite the security inconveniences and travails of actually arriving at your airport a full hour before your flight, it should remain a modern-day miracle that you can leave New York in the morning and arrive in London in time for dinner (or New York in the afternoon, and arrive in Los Angeles in time for dinner, or New York at any point, and arrive in Tokyo in one piece, because, when you think about it, at that point you've gone around the entire world!). As you walk through the airport, think how lucky you and your fellow travelers are to be able to so nonchalantly board a small metal tube and get shuttled around the world as easily as boarding the crosstown bus.

Rule #3 - Also, on the subject of air travel, bring a sweater, and possibly a scarf. Airplanes recycle their air, and it can get quite cold, and some airlines, in an attempt to stay solvent in a world increasingly hostile to the entire industry, have started to remove the blankets from their planes. This follows a series of cutbacks that the airlines have made over the years including the pillows (unsanitary) and the peanuts (too many allergies) and the razors in the toiletry kits (too sharp) and the playing cards (too quaint). And if you do bring your own blanket on board, please remember to buckle your seat belt OVER the blanket, lest you are woken mid-flight by a flight attendant "just checking" to make sure that, in light of the "fasten seat belt" sign that the pilot has turned on, you are, in fact, securely fastened. I mean, who wants that hassle?

Rule #4 - Bring a camera no matter where you are going. The world is an amazing place, and there is always something to see, and always something you will want to remember. Anyone who says differently is no friend of yours.

Rule #5 - Shower and brush your teeth in the morning. Even if you don't mind traveling dirty (and I can assure you, you are only fooling yourself, because people who like to wallow in their own filth hate themselves but just won't admit it), the person sitting next to you (and unless you are taking the private jet, there will be someone next to you) will mind, and there is something nice about realizing that you are taking into consideration how someone else will feel, rather than just thinking about yourself all the time, buddy. Seriously, shower in the morning, and if there is no way that is possible, at least brush your teeth at some point, even if it's at the train station or in the airplane. You will feel that much better, you will disembark with a smile on your face, and when you direct your driver to your hotel, you can be confident that he is not thinking "my God, what a barbarian!" And that, my friend, is a good place to be.

Rule #6 - Send your mother a postcard. I know she'll want to hear from you.

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