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Travel Q& A

Mind Your Manners and Feet

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By Scott Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 25, 2008

Q What's with people thinking that an airplane is their family room? After takeoff recently, the disgusting person next to me removed his shoes and leaned his feet up on the bulkhead, forcing me to see and, um, smell his feet. What should I have done?

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Dan Wasser

Gaithersburg

A You should have immediately created a scene, preferably something loud and escalating, all in hopes that an air marshal would out himself, handcuff the guy and drag him to the back of the plane. But we know what you're thinking: What if this was a plane without air marshals?

"We are in a moment in our civilization when we are often conscious only of our rights, without respecting decisions made for the greater good for society," said legendary etiquette expert Letitia Baldrige, who, despite a busy social calendar that recently included tea at the White House with Laura Bush, still found time to state the obvious to Travel Q&A.

Which is not to say you should stand for such behavior. Baldrige -- or Tish, as she's known in the trade -- has a foolproof way for dealing with podiatric rudeness, her technique honed over a lifetime of business travel.

"I've always found that muttering something under my breath, while deeply engrossed in official papers being worked upon on my lap, is very effective in upending my seatmate, and he soon puts his feet down on the floor," Baldrige told us. "I will say sarcastically, in a low, soft voice, 'Great socks. Are they by Armani?'

"That usually upsets and embarrasses them, because they had purchased them, of course, on sale at Wal-Mart."

All right, Tish!

We would love to take our family (the kids will be 12, 6 and 5) to a New England resort in the summertime. The children would like horseback riding, swimming and a kids' club. We would like beautiful scenery, hiking and antiquing. Any ideas?

Anne Lewis Arlington

On the theory that no one knows New England like someone from England (?), we asked Sue Norrington-Davies, a Brit who runs Discover New England, a Web site funded by the region's six member states ( http://www.discovernewengland.org, 802-253-2500).

"All of the places I'm telling you about have great kids' programs and more," Norrington-Davies said from Vermont when we gave her your specs. Starting with her adopted state, she recommended Smugglers' Notch ( http://www.smuggs.com, 800-419-4615), which offers everything from llama treks to geocaching (treasure hunting using a GPS) in the summertime, as well as antiquing in nearby Stowe. (Two-bedroom condos for a family of five start at $425 a night in June.)

In New Hampshire's White Mountains, the Indian Head Resort in Lincoln ( http://www.indianheadresort.com, 800-343-8000; rooms start at $89 plus a one-time $10 cot fee) is convenient to the superbly scenic Kancamagus Highway, which offers "35 miles of just fantastic scenery with fabulous views of Mount Washington and wonderful swimming holes along the way," Norrington-Davies said.

How about Massachusetts? "Brewster is on the bay side of Cape Cod, so there are nice, warm waters," she said, endorsing the Ocean Edge Resort & Club ( http://www.oceanedge.com, 800-343-6074), which has two-bedroom villas for $600 a night in June plus resort fees.

The Point Sebago Resort in southern Maine ( http://www.pointsebago.com, 800-530-1555) boasts a lakefront setting and rooms that start at $138 a night in June. "It's also a short drive to North Conway [in New Hampshire], where there's great outlet shopping and no sales tax," Norrington-Davies said.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.


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