February 12th, 2018
A Wonderful Day at CreativeLive in San Francisco with Joyce Maynard
It was a treat to spend the day in San Francisco with the beloved author Joyce Maynard.
I was so honored to be the luncheon speaker for the wonderful fundraising organization, Town and Gown. I spoke at their beautiful building at USC, and I could not have had a warmer reception. We had a great time, lots of laughs, and I loved talking about "the way we were," but also why we still have to keep traveling.
Traveling is the best route to self-fulfulliment and understanding... and most of all discovery! Lucky to have sister Kathy, and my dear friends and former Pan Am cohorts, Elle Feldman and the talented Philip Keene (of Major Crimes fame) in attendance. Thank you, ladies, for a truly memorable day!
December 01st, 2017
Spending Time With Mom: Memories for a Lifetime
So proud to have this article about my beautiful mom, Ellie, in Next Avenue..... I am forever grateful to have had such a wonderful role model.
Wendy Knecht and her mother Ellie at her mom’s 70th surprise party at the Hollywood Park Race Track
Boomers share many common issues. If we are lucky enough to reach our 50s, 60s and beyond with one or both parents alive, caring for aging parents is likely to become one of those issues.
Aging parents can be both a blessing and a heartbreak; as the children of them, we sometimes feel as if we are waiting for the other shoe to drop, even when our parents are healthy. And when the tables turn and you are the one taking care of your mom or dad, it can be a profoundly sad experience knowing that your parent is simply not going to get better. It is the rare instance that a broken hip or cancer doesn’t signal the beginning of a downward spiral.
The Sadness of DeclineIn my case, it was a terribly difficult time when my mother got older. It was demoralizing to see her, a once vibrant woman who loved life, succumb to illness and confined to a wheelchair. She was truly a remarkable woman and loved life so much that she refused to take anything but the red-eye across country — up until the age of 87! She just didn’t want to “waste the day” traveling.
Even with the sadness, I have to say it was truly an honor to be able to be there for my mother, and I consider it a blessing that we had time to say goodbye. I didn’t have the good fortune to have that experience with my dad, who died suddenly of a heart attack on my 17th birthday.
Thinking back to this period of my mother’s decline, I realize it was the most stressful time of my life; the sleepless nights, the anxiety and jumping up when the phone rang.
Recalling a Wonderful LifeBut one thing stands out as a time of joy and gratitude for both of us in those last few months: Tthe time we shared going through my many photo albums, both the physical ones and the ones on my laptop.
I would bring them over to her nursing home, put on her favorite Frank Sinatra music in the background and watch her eyes light up as the music played and her sheer delight as we would go through the pages. We were able to relive the highlights of our lives together; it was a very special time.
Having been a Pan Am flight attendant and single until my late 40s, I was lucky to have had some great travel time with my mother. We took full advantage of my travel benefits, which took us to many places around the world — Europe, Asia and South America among them. We reveled in reminiscing about these special times while looking at the travel photos.
There were also pictures of family holidays, visits with her well-loved grandson and events and places that touched her life. Looking at all of these led to lively conversation and took us far from the nursing home walls.
Even with the bit of dementia she had developed, the pictures and music brought us both to a level of happiness and a place of gratitude.
We said a lot of “I love you so much” and “Didn’t we have fun?” To hear her say “I’ve had a wonderful life” was everything to me.
Bringing out all those good memories was truly a celebration of her life.
Grateful for Beautiful MemoriesIn sadness, there can be great beauty. I miss my mother like crazy, and I believe I always will. But I am forever grateful for these beautiful memories.
When it comes right down to it, all we have is memories. You don’t have to travel or go far away to make memories. It doesn’t have to be a cruise or an exotic locale; it can be as simple as a Saturday matinee or a Sunday brunch. But make those memories, and take the time to reflect, laugh and document them. You’ll be so glad you did.
By Wendy Sue Knecht
Travel expert Wendy Knecht is a former flight attendant, a designer of travel bags and author of Life, Love, and a Hijacking: My Pan Am Memoir. She blogs at WendySueKnecht.com/blog.
September 5th marks the 30th anniversary of the hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan. Twenty people lost their lives that day when four armed terrorists from the Abu Nidal Organization stormed the plane and held passengers hostage for 17 hours, before letting off all of their ammunition in a hail of bullets and hand grenades.
I disembarked from Flight 72 in Bombay, India, in the early morning hours of September 5th. As I exited the jetway I greeted the Indian crew, who were waiting eagerly to board Flight 73, on their way back to Karachi, and then scheduled on to Frankfurt.
As a Pan Am flight attendant working on Special Assignment, I had been sent to Bombay in February of 1986 to train our new Indian foreign national flight attendants, a bright and beautiful group of individuals. Little did I ever anticipate they would be in harm's way a mere six months later, and would be responsible for the safety and security of 379 passengers during this incredibly frightening event.
On this day, I was on my way back to India for a personal visit, and was so proud to see these wonderful new flight attendants brilliantly groomed and happy, and I gave them each a heartfelt hug before they boarded Flight 73.
The hijacking ensued after the plane landed in Karachi, as it sat on the ground waiting to make final preparations to take off. The boarding door was still open, when terrorists, dressed as security guards, stormed the plane. After being tipped off by the Purser, Neerja Bhanot, the pilots fled the cockpit, in a sanctioned security move to effectively ground the aircraft. Though this action probably saved many lives, it left the newbie flight attendants, who had just completed their six months of probationary service, to defend the passenger’s safety. Their heroic acts saved many lives.
Neerja Bhanot, chief Purser on Flight 73, lost her life that day, as she sheltered unaccompanied minors from harm. Neerja became a national hero, immortalized by her valiant deeds, and a Bollywood movie called "Neerja" released earlier this year. The movie reenacted the events that occurred on that day, and Neerja's heroism. She and her crew saved many passenger's lives by hiding American passports. When the shooting started and the hijacking came to a bloody end, the whole crew bravely protected the lives of others before their own, though Neerja sacrificed her own life in the process.
I wrote a book called Life, Love, and a Hijacking: My Pan Am Memoir, which details my involvement with the events that day and what ensued in the aftermath of Flight 73 while I was in India.
Although it was a sad day when Pan Am filed for bankruptcy on January 9, 1991, Pan Am still exists in the zeitgeist today more than ever. It is relevant as an iconic symbol of what travel was at its apex of glamor, and as the unofficial flag carrier of its day. Pan Am was truly a special airline, and its former employees around the world still very much consider one another “family.”
Today, people reminisce with awe about Pan Am, the carrier that literally launched international flights and was the trailblazer of the jet age. Those too young to have flown on Pan Am are intrigued by the prospect of what air travel on Pan Am used to be. Pan Am wearables, bags, flight trinkets and souvenirs are cherished, and are sought after items for young and old alike.
Here in Los Angeles, we will commemorate the 30th anniversary of Pan Am Flight 73 with a private Indian dinner attended by ex- Pan Amers, friends, and family. We will be honored to have a passenger from the flight in attendance with her family. A fifteen-year-old unaccompanied minor at the time, she will give a presentation on her experiences and insights on that fateful day.
We will honor Neerja Bhanot, the entire crew of Pan Am Flight 73, the passengers who lost their lives and those who forever have the terror of this event emblazoned on their heart. Terrorism may still exist today, but the heros of these monumental events of our nation’s history shall never be forgotten, and neither will Pan Am.
I Prefer to Move Forward, Not Retire....8 Ways to Get More Out of the Second Half of Life
July 27, 2016
Credit: Getty Images
There are many advantages to being an older worker or an older business owner. You’re smarter (“been there done that”) and can problem-solve a lot more quickly than your younger, more inexperienced self. So if your work gives you purpose and enjoyment, why “retire?”
And if you’re less than pleased with your current work, being older might give you the perfect out to leave and become involved with something that might be your genuine passion.
Personally, instead of the word “retire,” I prefer the phrase “moving forward.”
The Joys of Moving Forward
Moving forward, I think, is a better description of the opportunity we have as older adults to capitalize on our experience, to contribute to the world and to live a vital life — hopefully a long and healthy one.
You don't have to “retire” in the literal sense. As C. S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
You don’t have to “retire” in the literal sense. You can reframe, re-energize and reboot! Remember, as C. S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
In fact, starting something new may just keep you young.
One of the great assets of getting older and launching a new venture is that your life doesn’t depend on it. Although the experience can be stressful, you know you’ll be OK, no matter what happens.
The most important thing, which becomes increasingly apparent as we age, is to make the best use of your time.
As someone who always has had a lot going on, with simultaneous family, career and volunteer endeavors, I’ve learned to make the most of every minute. Having the perspective of years has given me a good handle on keeping my priorities straight and making the most of my time.
8 Ways to Move Forward
Whether you’re considering pursuing a new business or hobby or just don’t want to retire, here are eight ways to move forward with ease and passion:
1. Do things that excite you. Somehow you always make time for them. And they’ll give you energy. You’ll always get more out of life and work when you’re energized.
2. Set new goals. This will keep you invigorated. Sometimes the most challenging goal ultimately becomes the most exciting one.
Have you ever gone out for a hike or a workout and felt you were so tired you didn’t think you could make it? But once you did it, even if you had to push yourself, you found you had much more energy than when you started? And you were so happy that you pushed yourself.
Enjoy the journey — and the satisfaction that comes with reaching a new goal.
3. Don’t set limitations for your life or your business. There’s no reason to succumb to some preconceived notion or someone telling you it’s time to slow down. Ignore any judgmental remarks or the idea that you have to “settle.”
Personally, I abhor being around people with this type of mindset. Setting limitations is just that… limiting.
Whenever anyone tries to tell me why I shouldn’t do something, my favorite response is: “That’s your limitation.” I learned that great retort from Diana Nyad, who, on her fifth attempt and at age 64, swam 110 miles from Cuba to the shores of Miami.
4. Let go of what (and who) is dragging you down. I am talking about so-called friendships with people who interfere with your moving forward. If you have any of these, it’s time to gently remove the emotionally draining relationships from your life. By doing so, you’ll create space for more important and rewarding relationships.
5. Just say “no.” One advantage of having lived a bit: knowing what you want and what you don’t. Saying “no” is a confidence builder and can be very liberating.
6. Exercise regularly. Getting your blood flowing will make you more creative and imaginative, aside from the obvious health benefits. And health truly is wealth; any other advice is moot if you don’t have it.
7. Travel frequently. Visiting new places gives you an appreciation for life and broadens your worldview (literally and figuratively), even if you’re only traveling to a nearby city. Traveling also opens up your imagination. The insights you gain will seep into all aspects of your life. One thing is for sure: you will be a more interesting person.
8. Take time to be alone. By taking one-on-one time for yourself, you’ll be able to filter out distractions and be more productive. Meditation is an excellent way to achieve this, but an hour walking alone can produce the same results. Taking time to “center” will help make sense of the chatter around you, allowing you to grab the greatest benefits out of life.
Here’s hoping you keep moving forward.
Keys to Maintaining a Healthy MarriageBy Wendy Knecht
"How can I miss you if you don’t ever leave?” I am not sure what country western song these lyrics came from, but the ring of truth is universal. Let’s face it. A little bit of absence certainly does make the heart grow fonder, or at least one would hope that is the case.
As an international flight attendant, my life was all about coming and going — sometimes for a week or ten days at a time. It was hard to find that special someone, and I always thought it was my crazy lifestyle. But after meeting my husband at the innocent age of 45, I realize now that all of that coming and going, which was second nature to me, is also what is helping to keep our now 11-year marriage alive and exciting.
At the beginning of our marriage, before I hung up my wings, I was on a leave of absence from the airlines, but working a lot at QVC, in Philadelphia, hawking my designs and other company’s products as well. Meanwhile, my new husband was back in Los Angeles, going into his office daily, doing his doctor stuff, as he always did. Whenever I would ask him on the phone “What are you doing?” his snarky response was always, “Waiting for you to come home.” Yes, this did invoke guilt, even if he meant it jokingly. I knew he wasn’t exactly pining away for me, but I knew he wasn’t putting out much energy to make plans with his friends, as I would have been doing had I been the one at home.
Any absence seems like too much when a relationship is new, and the reunion is always full of sparks. When I went back to flying for a while before I quit, the away time seemed to be too much to bear for both of us. One of the reasons I quit is that I would just rather have been doing my traveling when I chose to, and I had too many other entrepreneurial interests that I wanted to spend my time on.
After I quit flying, we had tons of together time, which was fabulous. As time went by, as in any relationship, the newness and excitement wore away a bit, which is completely normal. So much can be said for just feeling comfortable and secure. It’s a wonderful feeling of knowing that your significant other is always there for you, and the comfort level makes you feel pretty smug. For me, it also made me a little nervous…
As much as I loved (and still love) spending time with my husband, I did realize that too much togetherness may not be the best thing for our marriage. For me, my many years of singledom had blessed me with many friends from many walks of life. My husband had friends too, lots of them. But men seem to be a little different, and it seems that unless a man is a real “guy’s guy,” they just don’t seem to put the energy out to cultivate friendships and get together like women do. I realized that it would be important for him to have significant friendships, and I encouraged him to develop these friendships. I used to laugh when someone would invite him to a baseball or hockey game, and he would call me to see ask permission. So sweet, but seriously? “Go and enjoy, of course, you don’t have to ask,” I always replied.
Finally, he’s seen the light, too. He has his hiking group on Saturday mornings, his poker group every other Tuesday, and loves his fishing and skiing expeditions out of town with the boys. I totally enjoy having my girl’s weekends away, traveling for business, or just taking a few days off and going to New York, alone. It’s good for our marriage and serves to make us both more interesting to each other. And when you go away, they really do miss you.
Yes, we take plenty of long weekends and incredible vacations together. But cultivating separate interests and having our time apart is what keeps our relationship fresh and exciting. Personally, I love the yin and the yang of having time apart coupled with intense time together. The time apart keeps the spark and mystery alive in our marriage, and a little longing adds a lot of appreciation.
The Joy of World-Class Cuisine
By Wendy Knecht
As I pack my travel bag, my mind recollects all the good times that have included plenty of fine dining and tasting of new cuisines for the very first time. In my many years of traveling, both as a flight attendant and a passenger, I have found that eating my way around the world is not only a learning experience but also one of the major highlights of traveling.
Nothing beats eating foods where they originate and learning about the specialties of any locale. Food is an integral part of the local heritage, and experiencing the regional foods and drinks has enriched my travel experience immensely, and I’m certain it will yours.
People are proud of their culture, and food is culture, so trying the local fare is mandatory. I really can’t think of any place on earth that I have been where people aren’t proud of their local food heritage. Cincinnatian’s pride themselves on their Chili; 3-way, 4-way or 5-way… and I have even had it 7-ways! A trip to Texas without eating barbecue? Unthinkable! Kobe beef in Japan, New Zealand mussels, Hungarian goulash, the list goes on.
Sharing a meal is what makes life pleasurable. What could be more fun than sharing a Caprese salad in Capri or paella in Spain? You might discover your favorite food along the way. I discovered Pavlova working my way to Sydney as a Pan Am flight attendant, where it was our premier First Class dessert. Pavlova is a creamy, marshmallowy, crunchy-crusted, fruit-laden delight—and I still dream about and crave it to this day.
You may be surprised at how we’ve made our own version of certain dishes. Our take can be a lot different than the way it was originally intended. You may be happy or disappointed to discover that pizza and pasta in Italy are not sauce-laden like their American counterparts. Though I must say that I have never eaten anything in Italy that was a disappointment.
In all honesty, new foodie experiences may not end up to be entirely pleasant, but they are always an adventure. I have had some scary dining experiences, such as choking on a fish bone at an upscale karaoke bar in Seoul, eating grease-laden potato pancakes at a long-lost relative’s home in Prague, and trying to consume an entirely unidentifiable plate of “something” in Bhutan (they swore it was vegetarian).
Speaking of “vegetarian”; when the thought of blood sausage makes your stomach turn, this can be the best tack to take. If you’re truly adamant about not trying something new, professing strict vegetarianism can get you out of some hot water. I once had to employ this in the hinterlands of Vietnam. Adventure is one thing, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of what could be in that mystery meat. You might want to be a little careful in food stalls in places like India or China, but others can be a delicious delight. Check out any French fry or waffle stall in Belgium and you’ll soon be going back for more.
Don’t forget the local drinks. You must have the original Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Café at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco and the original Singapore Sling at the Raffle’s Hotel bar in Singapore. These places might be touristy, but they are institutions and you’ve got to go. Brazil’s national cocktail is the Caipirinha, and you wouldn’t want to miss drinking one there.
As an international flight attendant, I would sometimes pick my flights for the onboard food, which Pan Am always matched with the country traveled to. The best gravlax ever was on the Oslo flight and the creamiest, best cheeses were served in First Class from Paris. To this day, I can’t resist cambozola cheese, the most mouth-watering mix of gorgonzola and camembert you ever tasted. I loved to work first class to ensure there would be enough caviar left over for the crew. Oh, the joys of world class food.
Gourmet food browsing in local markets can not only be the best entertainment, but you could stumble upon the best meal or treat of your life. I have always considered a visit to a local grocery store a mandatory destination on any trip. Checking out the aisles is an education in and of itself and a most interesting one at that.
So, eat your way around the world. You don’t want to miss out on any culinary pleasure. As for me, I’ll be unpacking this time in Savannah, Georgia and I just can’t wait to try those fried green tomatoes and grits.
Wendy Knecht is a former Pan Am Flight Attendant, world traveler, entrepreneur, and author of Life, Love and a Hijacking: My Pan Am Memoir. Her website is wendysueknecht.com
The Life-Changing Magic of Travel
by Wendy Knecht on July 12, 2016
25If you are suffering from acute boredom, having a mid-life crisis, dealing with a divorce, or feeling “unsettled,” you may be thinking you need a few sessions with a shrink. Before you lay out a substantial amount of cash for what may or may not be a worthwhile endeavor, consider this: Take a trip. Alone.
Going away could prove to be extremely valuable, whether you have only a spare weekend or the luxury of a yearlong journey. Simply removing yourself from the daily grind of life can work wonders.
I am not suggesting running away from your problems. But waking up in a fresh environment, away from constant reminders of discontent, can help you to look at your issues in a completely different light. When you’re alone, you have to be your own best friend. That can go a long way to help you to clarify what you truly need to do to move forward.
Getting out there in nature can also serve to soothe your soul. When my mother passed away, I was devastated. A dear friend kindly offered her condo in Tucson and encouraged a change of scenery. It was an effort to get there from Los Angeles, but once I did, I felt better. Hiking the beautiful trails and taking treks through nature gave me time to reflect on my wonderful relationship with my mother, and gave me solace and meaning to my sadness.
It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, a trip to the city can be as valuable as a trip to the country. Losing yourself in a museum or window shopping can be as be as therapeutic as fly-fishing in a stream. You may not get an immediate epiphany (though it is entirely possible), but it has been my experience that insight happens in the spaces. It’s ironic, but getting away from a problem can bring you closer to the solution.
In any case, time away in new surroundings can be enlightening. It can reduce anxiety, stress, and be a calming experience. You many come home with renewed hope, a fresh attitude and an abundance of energy to take on your life.
I believe that to truly gain perspective on life; one must travel. Traveling gives you a unique point of view on the world that you cannot get otherwise, and helps you not only to learn about others but to learn about yourself.
There are so many reasons why expanding your own horizons, can also have ripple effects on others. Traveling can “wake you up” to what life is all about and give you the gift of compassion for others.
If you’ve ever met a narrow-minded person (who hasn’t!?), you know what I mean. These are people that only feel comfortable only within their own surroundings and are intolerant of other cultures, customs, religions, etc. I will be forever thankful for my job as a Pan Am flight attendant, and the incredible travel experiences I was privy to. My travels opened up my mind and gave me perspective on the world. It made me a forever grateful” person.
I will never forget taking the tour bus into East Berlin when the wall was still up. The macabre feeling in the air, the downtrodden look of the people, and the gray mist that seemed to permeate the air just screamed out “oppression.” Going through Checkpoint Charlie was enough to make my heart fly out of my chest, especially when I saw the long mirrored stick they used to search under the bus, searching to catch anyone that might have been trying to escape. A profound feeling of gratitude for the freedom I had taken for granted my whole life came over me as soon as we crossed into West Berlin.
Traveling made me realize the meaning of “there but for the grace of God go I”…, and I mean that in a very spiritual way. There is that profound feeling of just plain luck — any of us could have been born into any culture, any country, and any circumstance in life. But here I am, and how fortunate. Traveling to unknown territories made me realize that the freedom I take for granted is a gift, and not a given.
Traveling also makes history come alive. And gaining historical knowledge gives you a strong feeling of compassion. Visiting the Jewish Quarter in Prague, where the Pinkas Synagogue has over 77,000 names of Nazi victims inscribed on its walls, and touring Gory Island in Dakar, Senegal, where the historic slave trade site showcases the almost unbelievable conditions that people endured, were life-changing experiences. These are just a couple of examples of how travel can open up your heart and soul.
There’s just no substitute for being there. If you make an effort in your life to seek out unfamiliar places and cultures, you will not only increase your knowledge, but there is a great likelihood that you will open up your mind, your heart, and your soul as well. I’ve had many epiphanies and life-changing experiences while traveling, which began with my travels as a Pan Am flight attendant, back in “the day,” and continues to this day.
Sometimes just the planning of a trip can give you the lift you need to forge ahead and deal with the problem at hand. I’m reminded of the first time I enlisted the help of trained professional to deal with a few of life’s problems that were piling up: a breakup, a move, and a general feeling of hopelessness. I was doing some part-time private jet flying at the time, working as a “private flight attendant,” while building my new business designing travel bags.
I was sitting at my new psychologist’s office, baring my soul when my beeper went off (ah, the days of beepers!). I excused myself and came back in a much better mood when I received an assignment for a week-long trip to Paris for the following day.
“Wow, that sounds fabulous! I wish I could go! My job is so f-ing boring!” my therapist exclaimed.
Admittedly, that’s not what the patient wants to hear. But it does illustrate the fact that just the thought of getting away can certainly lift one’s spirits. So save your shrink money, and try a little travel. Sometimes a change of scenery might just be what the doctor ordered.
The opportunity to travel is one of the great benefits of having financial security and more free time as we age. Traveling is one the most life-enriching activities, and traveling to exotic lands is a learning experience like no other. But potential dangers are lurking everywhere, as recent world events have made us keenly aware. Stop traveling? Never!
As we all know, random incidents can happen anywhere, even at home. Whether you are traveling alone or with a partner or a group, staying aware of your surroundings is important at all times. Practicing “safe travel” will minimize your risk of becoming a victim of a crime, abroad or even at home. Here are 11 simple tips to keep you safe:
1. AssimilateThis is a lesson I learned way back from my years as a Pan Am flight attendant. Don’t travel in uniforms or with logos on your bags. It is best to make an effort to dress like the locals and blend in. That said, it’s not necessary to go to extremes, like wearing a hijab or jilbab in a Muslim country. Western clothing is acceptable everywhere; just use your common sense. No “Texas Ranger” jackets to the Russian ballet, as I once appallingly saw in Kiev.
Don’t chew gum in Singapore. Don't drink alcohol outside in Canada. And don't eat while you are walking on the streets in France.
2. Keep Important Information With You At All TimesMake multiple copies of your passport, and keep a copy in your pocket, not a wallet. This way, if your wallet gets stolen, you still have your identification. Leave the other copy hidden in your luggage. Keep a list of medications in your wallet, and indicate on it if you have any medical conditions, such as diabetes.
3. Take a Minimum Number of Credit Cards and Safeguard Them. Leave unimportant credit cards at home. This will make things much easier if you become a victim of theft. And don’t ever put a wallet in your back pocket — use a front pocket or hide money elsewhere, such as around your neck. For those carrying handbags, cross-body bags are safest.
4. Don’t Speak Too Loudly. A foreign accent stands out and draws attention. Loud talkers draw attention, too, and this is something you want to avoid at all costs. “Blending in” is high on the list of staying safe, so talking loud is a no-no.
5. Keep It Private. When in public, don’t discuss personal travel plans or details, such as which hotel you are staying in or where you plan to go next. If you need to ask directions, be discreet. The safest place to get directions is from a hotel concierge or a shop owner.
6. Don’t Go Anywhere With Strangers. Everything you’ve told your kids all these years holds true for you. Never go with a gypsy cab or take a random tour guide. Book a licensed tour with a registered agent. At tourist sites, guides will have official identification if they are legit. Follow this rule, and at the very least you won’t be commandeered to visit a rug showroom for hours!
7. Observe Local Customs at All Times. For example, don’t chew gum or spit on the sidewalk in Singapore, don’t drink alcohol outside in Canada and don’t eat while you are walking on the streets in France. Women: When in a Muslim country, dress appropriately and never call attention to yourself with revealing clothing. Also, avoid tight clothing, short skirts, and anything that screams “sexy.”
8. Buddy Up. If you are feeling unsure about a situation, sit next to other people and pretend you are with them, especially if you are traveling alone. Sitting near aisles and doors can also make you feel less vulnerable in a crowded space, such as a subway or train.
9. Trust your Instincts. If you don’t feel good about a situation or sense anything irregular at all, get yourself out of there! It’s OK to get off the elevator or leave the restroom. Don’t worry about offending anyone. And report anything suspicious to local police. The familiar adage, “If you see something, say something” applies everywhere.
10. Stay Alert. Wherever you are traveling, make sure you stay aware. Don’t walk while you are talking on your cell phone or texting, and don’t let yourself get distracted in public. Thieves prey on people that aren’t paying attention. Walk with a purpose.
11. Register for STEP. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (or STEP), a free service from the U.S. State Department, will let the U.S. Embassy keep you informed in case of an emergency or a natural disaster and can help if your passport is lost or stolen. When you sign up, you will get the latest safety information about where you are traveling and any alerts and warnings pertinent to your locale. The STEP service will track you in case of an emergency and make it easier to ensure your safety, as well as contact loved ones and keep them informed. You can find more information and enroll online at the STEP website.
Practicing these simple but important safety measures will go a long way in helping you to enjoy your trip. Here’s to a bon voyage!
A mixture of what's old and what's new in the world of Pan Am, travel, general adventure and of course, Life and Love... And also, very importantly -- the importance of transparency in medicine.