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World Series 2001
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10/30/2001 12:48 PM ET
The unwritten rules of travel etiquette
By Troy E. Renck
Left Field NEW YORK -- Growing up, I knew more about Madonna than Magellan.

Lewis and Clark never inspired me, partly because I thought it was a comedic duo that appealed only to the French.

When my head hit the pillow, I saw visions of the St. Louis Cardinals not The Spirit of St. Louis.

I never aspired to be an astronaut, unless you count the two days I spent impersonating Elroy Jetson. Sure, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" was funny, but it wasn't my favorite movie. And call me crazy, but when I see Kathie Lee Gifford I think of a football Giants running back, not throwing down coin for a Carnival boat trip.

What can I say, travel is just a necessity for me, not a luxury. At last count, I have been in 41 states -- added one today as matter of fact -- though an embarrassing number remain rumors since I was sleeping when the family truckster cruised through the borders.

This isn't to say that cross-country treks aren't interesting. I have been on some trips lately that challenge "Cops" and WWF wrestlers for their raw humor. Of course, Wednesday's was no different. Any itinerary that includes the following combination -- airline, 6 a.m. -- is generally ripe for laughs.

And the adventure got off to an excellent start when I was selected for the "random" search for the ninth time in a row -- 47 more and I'll tie Joe DiMaggio's streak. Not that I am complaining, but I have spent as much quality time with that frisk wand as my wife over the past three weeks.

Anyway, you can't cross the map frequently without learning a few things. Which brings us to today's topic -- those of you who had the eighth paragraph in the office pool get a Krispy Kreme donut -- travel etiquette.

Like baseball -- in case you were out finding that perfect Ford F-150 for your wife's birthday, the Diamondbacks lead the Yankees 2-love in the World Series -- there are unwritten rules.

Since I spent my afternoon stuck in Queens traffic, this is the perfect time to discuss a few of the more obvious in hopes of making your voyage more painless.

Don't run through the airport: For starters it's a little unnatural, if not completely unbecoming for some folks who have spent their adult lives raising their cholesterol. There's disheveled hair, puffy red faces and the general perception of those around you that you've just fled the scene of a crime. Listen to Aerosmith for godsake and "Walk This Way."

Avoid eye contact with loud talkers: We've all been there. You squish into your assigned seat, lean your head back and suddenly Phyllis from Athens is telling you about her sister's cousin's German Shephard who just loves Danish pastries crushed in his Alpo. Don't be friendly. It only encourages them. These people have a disease. They were born without defibulators -- the valve that stops every thought from going straight from their head to their lips.

Never let a cabbie know that you're not in a hurry: Seems simple enough. Why emit a sense of urgency if it's not necessary. Here's why? I made that mistake and the next thing I know I am taking a scenic tour of mountains -- in Phoenix. Also, just smile during the mindless small talk. It's easier than trying to figure out the point of the driver's story. In explaining why he couldn't switch lanes, a cabbie told me today that it was because others "were going for the gold." He said that or "do you think the members of the Backstreet Boys are too old." I couldn't make out a damn thing.

Enhance the experience by eating a local favorite: I certainly took this advice upon settling into my midtown Manhattan digs. My first stop was a place called -- how you say it? Piizzzaa Huuttt. Ummm. Wow. So good. Then I washed it down with some authentic dessert from some local gem named Dunkin' Donuts.

Bring your own towels: Trust me, there's a discernible difference between the cloth from home and the one in a hotel bathroom. Mainly that the hotel towel is a polyester/sandpaper blend.

Never forget where you came from: It's popular to stay loyal to your peeps. But it also helps so you can tell your travel agent where you need to go to get back home.

Troy E. Renck is a reporter for