Q: Is it possible to get a partial-day or hourly rate at a hotel without looking like one is there for unsavory purposes? I have a couple of hours between when my flight lands and when I have to give a speech at a meeting, and I'd love to have someplace to change and freshen up. It doesn't seem to make sense to get the room for a full night because I'm going from the meeting straight back to the airport. Also, I would arrive between checkout and check-in time, if that makes a difference.
A: It doesn't hurt to call the hotel and ask. If you explain your situation the exact way you did in your question, it won't seem sleazy at all. If the hotel is not full, they might be happy to work out something with you. I've actually done this once myself for a medical reason. We were driving home from a weekend trip when my husband got a bad migraine. There was no way he could sit in the car until his medication kicked in, which usually took a couple of hours. So we stopped at a random chain hotel, I explained what was going on and they were happy to give us a half-day rate. Also, check at hotels near (or in) your airport. Many of them offer day rates as a matter of course. The Hyatt in the Orlando, Fla., airport, for example, has a fairly well-publicized day rate.
Q: What do I do if the person sitting next to me on a plane has horrible foot odor? This guy last week kept his shoes on (thank heavens), but I could still smell the unmistakable aroma of sweaty feet. It was really, really gross.
A: Well, it's not like he's going to be able to do much about it during the flight, unfortunately, so it's best to be prepared for this sort of situation by packing something that smells good to you and sniffing it occasionally during the flight. I have a lip balm that smells like freshly squeezed lemons. That's been a lifesaver on past flights when I've been stuck next to rather ripe seatmates. Little tins of solid perfume work well for this, too. It's the old medieval pomander principle: If you can't do anything about the bad smell, you carry something that smells better.
Q: What do you think of kids in a club lounge in a nice hotel?
A: I think it's fine, as long as they're well-behaved kids and their family actually has club access. Sneaking in because you want free soda isn't OK. But if, say, they serve a continental breakfast in the club lounge, I don't see why the kids can't come with their parents to eat it.
They shouldn't run around, change the TV channel from CNN to "SpongeBob SquarePants" or be too noisy, but basically, if your kids know how to behave in a restaurant, I wouldn't hesitate to bring them in the club lounge. At night, though, you might want to stick your head in and see what kind of crowd is in there first. If there's a crowd of people in there and the booze is flowing, it might not be the best place for your kids even if it's technically OK to bring them.
Q: Could you please tell people that it's not OK to whistle along with the background music being played in, say, a rental-car shuttle? This guy sitting next to me took it upon himself to treat the bus to a rendition of a Billy Joel song as we drove from the terminal to the rental-car place, and it was really annoying.
A: You've just told them yourself. And yes, whistling to music, like singing along, is not cool in public. But, dear reader, there are these wonderful inventions called headphones that you can use to drown out folks like this so they won't bother you.
Q: Is it rude to ask for the entire can of soda during beverage service on a flight? Once they fill that little cup up with ice cubes, there's room for just a couple of sips' worth of soda.
A: It's not rude to ask (as long as you say, "Could I please have the full can of Diet Coke?," instead of "Gimme the whole can!"), but I can't predict whether you'll get it or not. Some people tell me this always works for them; others have had the flight attendant say no. I can, however, offer an alternative suggestion: ask for your soda with no ice. Or buy a 20-ounce bottle in the airport and bring it on board with you.
Q: Is it OK to ask other patrons of a restaurant what they're eating? I like Indian and Thai food, but I have no idea what half of the dishes are on the menu. I always see people getting delicious-looking meals and want to ask what they ordered, but I've never actually done so.
A: I think it's fine as long as you're not interrupting someone's business meeting or romantic dinner, and they're sitting close enough to you that you don't need to get up or raise your voice. "Excuse me, that looks absolutely fantastic -- what is it?" seems like a perfectly innocuous thing to say to a stranger. Alternately, you could simply ask your server what the gentleman at the next table is having.
Q: What should you do if the people in the hotel room next to you are talking well into the wee hours? They weren't yelling or anything, but I think they were in bed and their headboard was right on the other side of the wall from my own, and the walls were thin. I was tempted to say, "Excuse me, but I can hear you," but I didn't. Should I have called the manager and asked him to tell them to pipe down?
A: I don't think they were doing anything wrong. Unfortunately, you just picked a hotel with extremely thin walls and bad room layout. Shouting, loud music, something bouncing off the walls -- those are reasons to call the manager and ask him to step in and handle it. In this case, where it's just a normal conversation, the only reason to call the manager would be to request a room change. If it was bothering you that much, perhaps it would've been worth it, even in the middle of the night. Also, it's always a smart idea to bring earplugs.
Email travel-etiquette questions to Lesley Carlin at deartripadvisortripadvisor.com.