Q: What should you do if you have something that’s a really tricky shape and you want to put it in the overhead compartment on a plane? I bought some artwork in Europe and really had a hard time making it fit, and then I was nervous it was going to be damaged.
A: Overhead compartments are not a good place for anything fragile. Even if you arrange everything perfectly, someone could remove their carry-on mid-flight and put it back on top of your artwork… then bye-bye, flea-market Picasso. Some people try to put one item in an overhead bin, then shut the door in hopes no one else will put a bag in there, but that’s greedy. (And plus, if your item has a whole bin to itself, it’s going to get thrown all over the place in turbulence—not good if it’s breakable.)
I’d strongly recommend shipping artwork back home directly from the dealer. It’ll cost more, but you can insure it against damage. Better yet, shop for small souvenirs when you’re on vacation. They can go in a bag under the seat in front of you—it’s much easier to keep an eye on them there.
Q: If you’re staying in a hotel that has checkout at noon, but you’re not scheduled to leave that city until the evening, is it okay to work in the lobby for several hours?
A: Yes, with a few caveats. If you have to make a phone call, step outside. (Hey, fresh air’s good for you!) Don’t spread your stuff out all over the place, especially if it’s crowded. If there’s food or beverage service, you should order something out of courtesy to the wait staff. And if other people are waiting for seats—particularly if there’s food or beverage service—you shouldn’t occupy one chair for several hours straight. Finish your drink or your snack, pack up your laptop, and let someone else sit for a while. You can always take a new chair if one opens up.
Q: What do you do if you go out to dinner with a group and split the check, but somebody underpays? Someone I’m going on vacation with always does this, and I want to nip it in the bud.
A: You need to grab the check and take responsibility for telling everyone what they owe. If you just pass it around, and people take a peek and throw some bills in the folder, it’s easy for someone to be anonymously cheap. But if you say, “Okay, Bob, you owe $15,” it’s hard for him to stiff you. I’d do the same thing for hotels, rental cars, etc., lest you get stuck with a very big bill.
by Lesley Carlin
© 2010, originally published by Scripps Howard News Service