Friday, September 05, 2003

Jenn's USA Today Road Warrior - Article #1

7 deadly TRAVEL sins ; It can be easy to be naughty -- and unknown; [FINAL Edition]
by Kitty Bean Yancey. USA TODAY. McLean, Va.: Sep 5, 2003. pg. D.01

Copyright USA Today Information Network Sep 5, 2003

Destinations & Diversions; Strip clubs, Overdrinking, Overeating, Inflating expenses, Infidelity, In-room porn, Theft

The eightysomething couple from Iowa, celebrating their 62nd wedding anniversary with a Las Vegas getaway, hankered to do something they'd never done before.

So they showed up at Sapphire Gentlemen's Club. Before they left, the elderly wife bought her husband a lap dance. And even had one herself. "She said she had the best time," Sapphire co-owner Dolores Eliades reports.

No doubt about it: People of all stripes do things on the road that they'd never do at home.

"Flirting, strip clubs, getting a colleague to hula hoop at Hooters after getting him drunk," says Jim Stefancin of North Ridgeville, Ohio, who has witnessed such behavior by fellow business travelers.

Who among us hasn't indulged in at least one of what might be dubbed the Seven Deadly Travel Sins?



Stealing hotel supplies.

Watching in-room porn movies.

Visiting strip clubs.

Abusing expense accounts.

And the biggie: infidelity.

(Not to mention over-shopping, gambling, mistreating a rental car, leaving wet towels on the floor of hotel rooms.)

Even the most upright admit to downright naughty behavior in another area code.

Take retired teacher Ruth Kittell of East Greenbush, N.Y. In her town, where everyone knows most everyone, she and two female friends -- all in their mid- to late 70s -- stick to coffee or soft drinks at fast-food restaurants.

But on vacation, "we take our flasks and use them wherever pre- dinner drinks are not served," says Kittell. "We just mix our bourbon with the water and drink up. Who would ever dare confront all those gray-haired ladies?"

Serving herself a snort is Kittell's vacation vice. Most every traveler has one.

Bet actor Ben Affleck wishes he'd stayed alone in his hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, recently instead of venturing out to the VIP room of a strip joint and making National Enquirer headlines when strippers didn't keep their lips zipped.

In his case, what transpired on the road didn't stay on the road. But it often does.

Away from home, who'll tell?

When people are away -- whether with a mate on holiday or solo on a business trip -- "they are someplace where no one knows them, so they don't have to worry about being exposed to family and friends," observes Judy Yarbor of Haubstadt, Ind. Her on-the-road indulgence is of the tamer sort: filling the hotel bathtub almost to the top and soaking for a blissful hour. "I don't do that at home."

A recent survey of about 300 readers of Frequent Flyer magazine turned up many "guilty pleasures." The top one: eating at pricey restaurants on expense accounts, mentioned by two-thirds of respondents. As for things done on a business trip that they wouldn't tell the boss, only 54 responded, with seven admitting to an affair, two citing a visit to a strip club and one mentioning a bill from a male escort service.

Ahem, say those who know that hotel porn is an estimated $500 million-a-year business in the USA and that thousands of strip clubs rely on travelers to keep dancers' G-strings stuffed with dollars.

Greg Adamson, a sales manager from Phoenix, cheerfully confesses to lounging on his hotel bed and "devouring an entire pizza while flipping endlessly through the cable TV channels. Yeah, I admit an occasional adult channel gets visited. My guess is I have a lot of company."

As for wild behavior, conventions are "the worst," adds road warrior Jenny De La Cruz. "People don't remember they have rings on their fingers." One married friend "had an extremely guilty face when I saw him leaning close to a co-worker while waiting for the elevator."

Hotel bars also set the stage for indiscretion. They're "notorious for business-traveler hookups," says Anne Seymour of Washington, D.C., who takes the precaution of wearing her grandmother's wedding band in such locales to "keep folks at bay." Members of USA TODAY's Road Warriors and Vacationers Panels know of friends or colleagues who've been unfaithful out of town.

Frank King of Grass Valley, Calif., recalls sharing road digs with philandering fellow comedians and fielding late-night calls from their irate mates. "I got so tired of making excuses for the comedy cads that I bought, and traveled with, an answering machine and started screening calls."

In this tough economy, however, some travel veterans say there are fewer pickups or illicit trysts on the road. Folks are worried about losing their jobs and are working harder -- staying in their rooms tapping on their laptops -- and keeping expense accounts down, they say.

There's "little left in a lot of budgets for drinking in hotel bars or trips to nightclubs," observes businessman Len Boscarine of Burien, Wash.

Leisure travelers, meanwhile, have their own temptations. It's easy to succumb to that "I'm on vacation!" mind-set.

"I have seen that excuse used to defend everything from the most minor offenses to major ones -- from overeating or overdrinking to dancing on bars or cheating on significant others," says Christina Orlovsky of San Diego.

"I think vacations completely excuse overindulgence," asserts Theresa Korpi of St. George, Utah. When she and her husband jet away to somewhere warm and sunny, "we start with Baileys (Irish Cream liqueur) and coffee in the morning, pack beer in a cooler for the beach and have been known to start at 10 a.m. and finish the evening with dinner and wine or beer. After we return, you don't want to look a beer or wine in the eye!"

Bill Kalmar of Lake Orion, Mich., thinks some travelers morph into sloths. In unmade-up hotel rooms, he's seen toenail clippings and half-consumed snacks strewn on the floor.

Also, "things do have a tendency to disappear from hotel rooms . . . anything that will fit in a suitcase," says hotel consultant John Fareed of the YPB&R firm. He also has seen guests sneak toiletries from housekeepers' carts or disavow mini-bar purchases and adult-movie charges that appear on their bills the morning after.

Other travelers break out of their at-home personas and take a walk on the wild side.

The clientele at The Loving Chair, an upscale "erotic theater" in Paris, includes usually strait-laced tourist couples. What they see is truly oh-la-la: nude dancers who present themselves for fondling by audience members and a man and woman in flagrante delicto.

Hedonism runs rampant in Jamaica

And while other Caribbean resorts are still struggling to woo travelers during lean economic times, Jamaica's swinging clothing- optional Hedonism II and III have been booked solid this summer, says Zein Issa, director of marketing for SuperClubs Resorts, which runs Hedonism. Guests come to "escape from the world" and indulge "whatever fantasy they might have," Issa says. "It's a non- judgmental atmosphere. If you're overweight, you can go nude, and no one cares."

At Hedonism, guests shuck inhibitions, too. Some couples exchange room keys or indulge in activities not fit to print in a family newspaper.

But indulgence doesn't have to be X-rated.

The Kretsinger family of Emporia, Kansas, uses vacations to indulge their sweet tooths. "We hunt for ice cream" -- such as Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, which they can't get at home, says Mary Kretsinger. When they arrive in a new town, "we head straight to the grocery stores. We will go from store to store if we have to."

Orlovsky uses time way as an excuse to lie in cushy hotel beds watching Real World marathons on MTV or ordering hearty helpings at airport McDonald's. And she has a personal road rule to expiate those dietary indiscretions.

"I have convinced myself that McDonald's Quarter-Pounder with cheese Value Meals, super-sized, are non-caloric if eaten in an airport food court."


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