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Tips to Make Your Traveling Easier

Going my way
Kevin McCollum, New York-based theater producer (shows include Rent and De La Guarda's Villa Villa); president and CEO of Ordway Music Theatre in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Bonus points: I always stay in nice hotels -- Ritz-Carlton or the Four Seasons in Chicago, 2 Bond Street in Sydney, the Peninsula or Mondrian in L.A., Covent Garden Hotel in London. If you don't think it's worth it to reward yourself, you won't perform as well in your work. And I use car services, the same one in each city I visit regularly, to develop a relationship. The best travel experience is one with no surprises.
Flexibility factor: I carry on a briefcase and a small bag with a change of clothes. I never check luggage, so I'm always ready to switch to an earlier or later flight at the last minute. I call ahead for a report on the weather, and if it's getting bad, I try to fly out a night early. I take evening flights so I can put in a full day in each place.
Seat-savvy: If business class is packed and coach is not, I'll stay in back and spread out to work.
In-flight sleep secret: Valerian root.
Cold defense: Saline nasal spray. If your mucus membranes dry out, they can't fight infection.
Pet peeve: Poor service at the gate. And long lines -- airlines offer so many time-savers, like E-tickets and club cards, so why don't people use them?
Don't leave home without: A good mood. Airline employees get so abused. Ultimately it's everyone's responsibility to make things go pleasantly. We're all up in that piece of metal together.
-- Interviewed by Elizabeth Garnsey

So you're being sent to...DETROIT
Best business hotels: Ritz-Carlton Dearborn (300 Town Center Dr., Dearborn; 313/441-2000); the Townsend (100 Townsend St., Birmingham; 248/642-7900).
Expense-account restaurants: Beverly Hills Grill for breakfast and lunch (31471 Southfield Rd., Beverly Hills; 248/642-2355); for dinner, try Duet (3663 Woodward St.; 313/831-3838) or the Lark (6430 Farmington Rd., West Bloomfield; 248/661-4466).
Car company of choice: Continental Limousine (248/626-8282).
If you have a free afternoon: Detroit Institute of Arts (5200 Woodward Ave.; 313/833-7900); Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (315 E. Warren Ave.; 313/494-5800).
If you forgot to pack a tie or scarf: Neiman Marcus (2705 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248/643-3300).
Web resource: www.metrotimes.com.

Still mourning Princess Di?
Althorp, home of her island burial site, will release its 1999 schedule this month. (Last year it drew more than 150,000 visitors in the 61 days it was open.) For information on "invitations," call 44-1604/592-020 or go to www.althorp.com.

Let's vent
• How come alcoholic drinks are free on international flights but not on domestic ones?
• There's nothing worse than a hotel room with windows you can't open. It's like being in a white-collar prison.
• Has anyone noticed how filthy some U.S. airports are?(Especially the restrooms.) What must first-time visitors to this country think?
• How dare hotels charge extra to use the room safe, squeezing out another $1.50 a day from guests?

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