Tips for Going From Point A to Point B

I have been on the move a lot since coming to London. That can mean riding across the city to look at something new or flying across an ocean to attend a convention.

On these jaunts, I am sometimes a traveler and sometimes a tourist. In the first case, I am moving from point A to point B. And in the latter mode, I am taking the measure of things around me, for cultural enrichment, for amusement or whatever.

I have a few observations to make about each, beginning, in this column, with the role of traveler:

* Given the choice, I prefer daytime flights when heading east to the U.K., for a speedier recovery from jet lag, but I have discovered the rewards of early-morning flights going west and sometimes will change my day of travel to get one.

I relish the fact that I can be on the ground in New York by noon or 1 p.m. and have time for nearly a day's worth of errands and an early dinner.

* I learned this one by listening to a disgruntled American tourist as she prepared to board her homebound flight. In order to recover value-added taxes paid on significant purchases in the U.K., clients should insist on being provided with VAT tax refund forms. No matter what the Harrods clerks say, receipts are not sufficient.

* When on the move and far away from your own kitchen, eat every chance you get. I am inclined to amend that to urge some discrimination to avoid dire consequences, but the principle is valid.

Also, use any decent bathroom when you can because you never know what your next option might be or, more to the point, when it might be.

* Some years ago, I typed a list of every possible thing I might ever need to take on a trip. Then, when I pack, I read the list, ignoring what obviously is unnecessary but finding important reminders of things that I could all too easily forget.

* Too many airports and train stations require travelers to pay to use luggage carts, and now I rate facilities based on this feature. Bangkok, Istanbul and London's Heathrow airports have free luggage carts readily available. The same is true of London's Waterloo station (one end of the Eurostar ride), but the carts are not free at the Paris terminal, Gare du Nord.

New York's Kennedy Airport offers carts that require arriving foreigners to have or to get U.S. currency if they want to use the devices. Kennedy rates one sour grape for that.

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