Convenient Forms Of Communication On Display From World War II

Today, we take for granted convenient forms of communication when traveling, like email, text messages, Skype and others. FourSquare, HipGeo, Instagram and other smart phone apps pinpoint our exact location anywhere on the planet. Those fighting overseas in World War II relied on hand-written letters that could take weeks to arrive at their destinations, as loved ones served thousands of miles away.

In the sixth and final installment of its 2012 Legends & Legacies Symposium Series, “Letters Home: Love, Courage & Survival,” Florida’s Fantasy of Flight, a vintage aircraft collection, will honor the art of letter writing and share the stories of wartime bonds preserved by pen and paper.In World War II, soldiers relied on correspondence from their sweethearts and families to keep up with news from home and boost their spirits. In turn, wives, girlfriends, parents and children relied on postal service delivery of letters from the war front to tell them that their soldier was still alive and well.

Fantasy of Flight is searching for people to share their letters with guests during this symposium coming up in October. Writers or recipients of letters including servicemen and women, family and friends are invited to share their wartime experiences through written correspondence. `

Copies of letters can be mailed to Fantasy of Flight at 1400 Broadway Blvd. SE, Polk City, FL 33868. Scanned copies can be emailed to with “Letters from Home” in the subject line.

During the Letters Home: Love, Courage & Survival symposium on Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13, veterans and guest speakers will interact with guests in open forum/question-and-answer sessions, followed by meet-and-greet/autograph signing sessions.

[Flickr photo by Gibson Claire McGuire Regester]

Use two-way radios – Cruise tip

Most cruise ships today are multi-deck mini-cities carrying as many as 5,000 passengers. And, unless you’re traveling alone, you may find yourself separated from your traveling party at some point during your cruise. How to reconnect… or stay connected in the first place?

Give each member of your group a two-way radio, all programmed to the same frequency to help keep you organized and in touch. These handy radio sets, priced from about $40, offer features like rechargeable batteries and programmable ring tones.

Remember: your cell phone may not work on a cruise ship, and even if it does, the roaming charges may be crushing.

Five types of words and phrases to learn in a foreign language

When traveling to many foreign countries, especially if you’ll be sticking to major cities, there’s no need to be completely fluent in the local language. But knowing a few key words and phrases can make your experience not only easier, but richer as well. While many people in the tourist industry speak English, they’ll still greatly appreciate your efforts in speaking their native tongue. Phrases like hello and goodbye are no-brainers, but a few other, less obvious phrases will be invaluable as well.

The Bare Minimum

Please/Thank you

There’s no excuse for not learning at least these words and phrases. Being able to say hello, goodbye, please, thank you, yes and no won’t get you far in a conversation, but the people you speak with may appreciate your minimal effort.

The Basics

Numbers 1-10 and the general rules for converting to tens, twenties, hundreds, thousands, and so on
Where is?
How much?
What time is it?
I would like. . .
The bill please.
Hotel, restaurant, train station, taxi, toilet, airport, bus
Police, hospital, help
In crowded bars and on the street, knowing your numbers, and being able to ask how much something is, what time it is, for a certain number of something, where something is (and the words for the things you might inquire the location of), or for the bill, will get you what you need with little fuss. You won’t be able to hold a conversation, but you’ll be able to get directions and order food or drinks easily. In many countries, restaurant servers won’t bring your bill until you ask so knowing how to do so will save you time waiting around for the check.
It’s also wise to know a few words for emergencies. You hope you won’t need to know how to ask for help or call for the police, but if you do, you’ll be glad to be able to communicate when it’s most important for your safety and well-being.

Food Phrases
Meat, cheese, bread

You can always sound out the pronunciation of your desired item from the menu, or just point to it at the bar, but you may not end up with what you want. Memorizing the translations for a few basic foods will help point you in the right culinary direction. The words and phrases you’ll use most often may change from country to country but it’s always wise to learn the words for water, beer, wine, coffee, bread, cheese, meat, and plate.

If you have any food allergies, you should also learn how to say “I cannot have. . .” in that language. Many people prefer to just write the phrase down and hand it to the server each time they order a meal.

Avoiding Embarrassment
I’m sorry, I don’t speak. . .
Do you speak English?
Every traveler tries not to stand out as a tourist. But sometimes the strategy of looking like a local can backfire – like when someone approaches you in Barcelona and starts speaking rapid-fire Spanish and all you can do is stare blankly back at him. Instead of staying mute or responding in English, this is the time to pull out the phrase “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Spanish” of whatever the local language is. Likewise, before launching into an English interrogation, you can politely inquire of another “Do you speak English?” in his or her native tongue.

Conversation Starters
What is your name? /My name is. . .
Where are you from? /I am from. . .
This is my husband/wife/child.
You’ll never be able to have an in-depth discussion with a person who doesn’t speak your language. But you can at least engage them with a few rudimentary phrases. Being able to ask people their names and then giving yours, sharing where you are from, or being able to inquire about family, can help them see you as a person like them, rather than a foreigner.
Though many of us would like to speak the local language anywhere we go, it’s often not a realistic option. Knowing these keys words and phrases won’t make you fluent, but they will help you get more out of your journey. If you can’t memorize them all, just make yourself a handy “cheat sheet” that you can pull out when needed.

Do you annoy people with your travel tales?

It’s not uncommon for people who live overseas to complain about people back home who don’t want to hear about their journeys. They recount the eye rolls and vacant looks. A woman I know once lamented that she just couldn’t get excited hearing about one of her relative’s new deck or window treatments whenever she returned to the U.S. After all, she’d just been on a run past cows in the streets of New Delhi. How could a new deck compete with that?

Maybe a new deck can’t compete with a cow, unless you’re the person thrilled with the deck. Or that those drafty windows are long gone. And, perhaps the idea of running past cows milling through garbage isn’t all that alluring. Isn’t there the idea that one person’s junk might be another person’s treasure?

In Brave New Traveler, there’s a food for thought article by Christine Gavin that looks at the communication pitfalls when it comes to talking about ones experiences–whether you’re talking with another world traveler, or to your relative who is serving you dinner on that brand new deck. She calls it a “holier than thou” attitude.

From what she says, and I concur, it’s not that people don’t want to hear travel tales, it’s just that they want you to be interested in what they have been up to as well. People aren’t fond of braggarts—particularly those who feel they are at the top of the pack of people worthy of attention. Then again, maybe they just aren’t that interested. In that case, it doesn’t hurt to say, “Nice deck.”

AT&T works on travel transparency

Have AT&T? Going somewhere out of the continental United States? Click here to find out exactly what it’ll cost you.

Phone companies have a filthy habit of not being terribly transparent with their mobile plans or landlines, i.e. you have all these fees and taxes you don’t expect on your bill, you aren’t sure what roaming costs and whether you’re doing it, and you never seem to know what you’re going to be charged for calling a random foreign country — or calling from a random foreign country.

I don’t have AT&T and sometimes I send text messages to Norway, and I swear it’s cost me something different every time. It bet costs my friend nothing to text back — it’s probably included in her insurance (darn Norwegians have it so good). (I’m just kidding.)

In any case, AT&T has taken some guesswork out of travel fees. You can visit their site and build yourself a whole itinerary of countries in which you’ll be using one of their phones and specify which phone, or even select the phone you are considering getting and the countries you’re going to. The site will immediately tell you whether or not they have coverage in that country for voice and/or data — they have voice coverage in over 215 countries and data in over 170, which is more than anybody else. They also have voice and data on over 130 cruise ships and 3G in 80 countries.

So, they tell you whether or not voice and data are available, and then you can click a little “details” button and they’ll tell you how much it’s gonna cost to communicate there. Straight up. That’s darn near enough to make me pay the $200 to get out of my current contract. You can also pay AT&T $5.99 per month for their World Traveler plan, which provides discounts on all those little premiums. If you travel a lot, that’ll save you bank.

Here are some additional tips for saving money when traveling abroad no matter who your carrier is:

  • Turn off your data roaming.
  • Use WiFi instead of 3G, GPRS, or EDGE when possible
  • Turn off the auto-check e-mail function
  • Reset your usage tracker to 0 when you get there so you’ll know what you’re spending
  • Don’t go downloading photos and watching YouTube, fool — it’s gonna cost you!

They’ve got international data plans if you need your YouTube fix. Seriously, AT&T wants you to travel. So: It’s totally worth your while — and that’s a hint to step it up, other mobile service providers!