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In this issue:
1. New Airport Procedures and You
2. Site of the Month
3. Insider Travel Tip
4. Upcoming Travel Events
5. Parting Quote

Note From the Editor: Hi, I'm Michael McColl, author of "The Worldwide Guide to Cheap Airfares." Welcome to the first issue of's Inside Scoop. Thank you for subscribing. I look forward to sharing money-saving travel strategies that help you - and your travel dollar - go farther.

Michael McColl, Editor

P.S. In 2004, the new web site will launch. We plan to be THE site you turn to when trying to find good deals in travel. When the site goes live, you'll hear about it here first, in a special issue of this newsletter.

1. New Airport Procedures and You -- the latest on how to keep your luggage and film safe:

Theft of valuables from checked luggage has dogged travelers since the dawn of commercial flight. Common wisdom has been to lock your luggage, thus making your bag a less attractive target than someone else's. But now the airlines are pushing people to leave their checked bags unlocked, so that Transportation Security Agency (TSA) workers can search your bag.

What's a traveler to do? Leaving your bags unlocked is a bad idea, as the risk of theft is too great. Know that the TSA does not require that your bags be unlocked. In the rare case that they need to check a locked bag, they can (and do) easily cut it off. strongly recommends that you lock your bags. It is better to occasionally lose a lock than lose valuables from inside your bag. Alternately, you can buy a new TSA-approved lock. Security screeners have secret codes for opening these locks, so they don't even have to cut them off. One version sells for $20 a pair at Brookstone: . Or ask for a "Travel Sentry" lock at your local travel store or luggage shop.

More on luggage, courtesy of the TSA: "Carry your not check it. Equipment used for screening checked baggage will damage your undeveloped film. Therefore you should place all film in your carry-on baggage. You may ask for a hand inspection of all film and cameras with film at the passenger checkpoint." Film-carrying guidelines have changed in recent years. With new high-power equipment, you really do need to ask for hand inspections, it is the only way to keep your film safe these days.

2. Site of the Month:

While not busy researching travel deals, Editor Michael McColl has been helping build a new volunteer organization. Called Ethical Traveler, the group's mission is to unite travelers' voices and pocketbooks to push for a better world. During summer of 2003, Ethical Traveler led a short boycott of travel to Nepal. Combined with pressure from other groups, the boycott (now suspended) convinced the Nepalese government to stop illegally returning Tibetan refugees to China. Ethical Traveler's latest campaign aims to preserve marine life in the Galapagos and Cocos Islands. To band together with fellow concerned travelers, visit .

3. Insider Travel Tip:

Most savvy travelers know to use their credit card to pay for airfares, hotels, rental cars, etc. Under U.S. law, credit card users have substantial protections that you don't get if you pay by cash or check. If you do not receive what you were promised, you can contest the charge with your credit card issuer. Here's the catch: under the Fair Credit Billing Act, you can only dispute a charge if you *have not yet paid it.* So if you are disputing a charge, be sure to leave that dollar amount on your credit card bill unpaid.

4. Upcoming Travel Events:

International Travellers' World is back in London, February 20-22 of 2004. ITW is a consumer-oriented travel exhibition. Travelers can meet with tour operators, flight and accommodation providers, web services, guide book publishers, insurance companies, travel equipment providers, employment specialists, tourist commissions, travel agents and Inside Scoop Editor Michael McColl. More info at . If you will be at ITW, drop me an email.

5. Parting Quote:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream." -- Mark Twain

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