Iowa State University Alumni Association

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From the August edition of “Cy’s Suitcase,” the travel newsletter for Cyclones everywhere, ISU Alumni Association travel director Shellie Andersen (L)(’88 marketing) offers up her tips and tricks to help you make sure your summer travel season goes as smoothly as possible.

Ask for the digits.
If you are like me and have no sense of direction (a great trait for a travel director, huh?) I put my hotel name and address in my phone in case I go out on my own. And because I travel a lot, I also put my hotel room number in my phone. On a recent trip, we stayed at three hotels in six days. Not hard to get confused!

Ask the locals.
If you find some free time on your trip, ask a local where he or she would want to eat. You will find some spots that you might not have normally chosen.

Alert your bank and credit card company.
Let them know you will be traveling out of the country so they don’t put a hold on your credit card when they see you trying to use it out of the States.

Let someone at home know your plans.
This is extremely important when traveling solo, but it’s still a good idea no matter how many people are in your travel group.

Separate your personal items.
If you are traveling with a companion, it is a good idea to mix your personal items into each checked bag (if you have more than one.) That way if one of the bags gets lost, you still have some clothing and personal items.

Separate your sources of money.
Don’t keep all your cash and cards in one spot. I usually hide some cash and a backup credit card in a separate bag -- not the same bag that my wallet is in.

Make a travel first aid kit.
I now travel with Tylenol, Ibuprofen, band aids, Benadryl, Tums, Neosporin, etc. I have had way too many bug bites, scrapes, tummy aches, etc., while traveling that I now know it’s best to be prepared. I also carry extra thread and buttons -- something I have carried with me for years. A year ago, while in Cuba, my button on my dress fell off and that sewing kit came in handy!


From the latest edition of “Cy’s Suitcase,” the travel newsletter for Cyclones everywhere, ISU Alumni Association travel director Shellie Andersen (L)(’88 marketing) offers up her tips and tricks to help you make sure your summer travel season goes as smoothly as possible.

Be flexible
When traveling there are always delays and things that inevitably go wrong. Patience is extremely important when traveling. This is something I have had to work on myself. Since I can’t control the weather or the flight crew, I might as well just get a coffee and relax.

Make a list
About a week before each trip, I make a list of items I don’t want to forget. I now use my phone for this, but grabbing a notepad and writing things down as you think of them will work just as well. I know I have to write it down when I think of it, or I will forget it!

Pre-plan your outfits
It’s easy to just throw your favorite clothes in, but unless you figure out what you are wearing with what, you may end up with all black outfits. Remember, you will be wearing these outfits in photos that you will be keeping forever.

Learn common phrases in the local language
A simple “please” or “thank you” and “I’m sorry” in the local language goes a long way.

Make photocopies of important documents
Keep an extra copy of your passport with you. I have pictures of mine on my phone as well. I know of people who have lost theirs while traveling, so always be prepared.

Bring portable chargers and extra batteries
Nothing is worse than being out and about to take pictures and your camera dies, which for many is now your phone or iPad. Batteries drain quickly while on trips, so be prepared and have an extra with you. And on that note, make sure you have enough memory on your phone for pictures. I have had those instances where you are ready to take the best breathtaking photo and you get that annoying message that you don’t have enough storage. There are solutions to that. Ask your kids – or grandkids. They will know how.

Carry on essentials
I learned the hard way last summer why it’s important to have a well-packed carry-on. My luggage was lost for almost a week, so I hosted a cruise with one pair of underwear (yes, I washed them every night) and the same outfits. Keep underwear, a comfy pair of shoes (if you aren’t wearing them already) an extra shirt (I always wear a cardigan when traveling so I have a few items to interchange with if my luggage is lost), toothbrush, medications, and my laptop. I also bring lotion and lip balm, as plane cabins are very dry.


When you think of the Traveling Cyclones program, sporting events aren't always the first thing that come to mind -- but thanks to our partnership with Sports Entertainment Travel Iowa Staters have enjoyed such sporting events as The Masters, Wimbledon, and the Kentucky Derby over the years. Katie Lickteig (L)('05 marketing), the Association's director of constituent engagement, recently hosted the Traveling Cyclones' journey to the 2017 Kentucky Derby, and although the weather was less than cooperative at times, the Cyclones who participated in the trip had a blast.

"Being at the Kentucky Derby was a great experience," Katie says. "It is definitely the most exciting two minutes in sports. I found myself getting nervous in the minutes leading up to the Derby, and I literally didn't even have a horse in the race! The energy as those horses are being loaded into the starting gate is palpable. One of the coolest moments was singing 'My Old Kentucky Home.' I had never been to Kentucky before but had seen this on TV in previous years. This moment really doesn't translate at all through the television. After spending a few days in Kentucky, touring race tracks and farms and hearing from engaging tour guides and staff at the horse farms, I felt like a Kentuckian for the duration of that song. The entire tour experience leading up to the Derby really made it that much more of a special experience -- and what made it even better was sharing it with a GREAT group of Iowa Staters."

Highlights of the trip for the Iowa State group included breakfast on Millionaire's Row at Churchill Downs; visiting the amazing Kentucky Derby museum; a visit to the Buffalo Trace Distillery; touring Keeneland in Lexington, which is one of the most beautiful race tracks in the country; and visiting two horse farms where past Derby winners reside to learn about racing and the horse industry.

View Katie's photos from this once-in-a-lifetime adventure online


Vanessa Sánchez has traveled the world: China, Vietnam, Europe, South America, and beyond, often traveling with her husband and frequently hiring a private tour guide. In May 2015, she and her sister, Maria Sánchez, traveled on the ISU Alumni Association-sponsored GoNext tour “Isles & Empires of the Adriatic” aboard Oceania Cruises’ Riviera.

“This is the first time I’ve gone with a group,” she said. “For safety reasons and comfort, I didn’t want to embark on such an adventure on my own. And I didn’t have to do my own research. That’s so time consuming. This trip was just like a menu; I could choose whatever I wanted to do. If you wanted, you could see churches and museums. I wanted to eat and drink. I ate and drank my way through this cruise!"

Vanessa loved her experience with the Traveling Cyclones. “It was so organized! They take care of everything, even happy hours! The length of the tours was perfect; the guides were marvelous. I can’t say enough. Everything was perfect. And the people were super nice.

“At this stage in my life, I’d rather pay a little bit more and work a little bit less. I’m convincing my husband that we need to travel with the Alumni Association.”


We’ve all been around people who are coughing and sneezing on a plane, and you just want to get out your Lysol and start spraying! Here are some tips we found to help escape without getting sick:

  • Scientists have found that the armrests, plastic tray tables, restroom doors, and the seat pockets in front of you carry more germs that are likely to get you sick than someone sitting near you will. Bringing sanitizing wipes and doing a bit of preflight cleaning may look silly, but it's probably worth it. The majority of infectious diseases are transmitted by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Bring hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Before you eat or drink, sanitize your hands. And don’t forget to use the sanitizer after you wash your hands in the bathroom. Old reports show that water in airplanes isn’t 100% bacteria free. If you brush your teeth on a long flight, use bottled water.
  • Take advantage of the vent above your head. Set your ventilation at low or medium and position it so you can draw an imaginary line of air current right in front of your head. Put your hands on your lap so you can feel the current to make sure it is properly positioned. If something is floating in your personal space, the air vent will create enough current to knock it away and you’ll be more likely to go home healthy!
  • Drink lots of water. The air in a plane has less humidity, making everything seem more dry.
  • Avoid sugar-laden food and drink. Sugar creates dampness and phlegm, which can lead to an environment where viruses and bacteria thrive. It is a sort of petri dish in your sinuses and the back of your throat.


Kari (’82 leisure studies) and Colin (’82 ag mechanization) Dirks (L) had always wanted to go to Alaska. So when they saw the ISU Alumni Association brochure for a small-group experience to Alaska in 2012, they jumped at the chance.

“Everything was great about that trip,” Kari said. “We were on a 36-passenger ship, and it was first class. We were treated like royalty. We were so spoiled!”

The couple kayaked among glaciers, hiked in Glacier Bay, relaxed in quiet coves, and spotted moose, whales, and dolphins. It was, they said, one of the best trips they’d ever taken. So when it came time to splurge on travel again, they immediately thought of the Alumni Association. Their 2014 trip was to the Canadian Rockies. And the next year? They were signed up to travel with the Traveling Cyclones to Australia and New Zealand. When a health problem forced them to cancel at the last minute, they were disappointed but said they were very glad they’d taken out travel insurance.

“We have a friend who told us that we could probably do that trip cheaper if we went through someone else, but I don’t want to go with anyone else,” Colin said. “Iowa State has taken care of us. And you get what you pay for.”


If you are one of those people who loves the window seat, then you have probably noticed the tiny hole at the bottom of the airplane window.

The hole—tiny as it may be—helps keep passengers safe. It all comes down to pressure: the higher the altitude, the lower the oxygen, which can leave people feeling ill and short of breath. At a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, the air pressure is so low that anyone would pass out if he or she was exposed to it, so a plane's cabin must be pressurized to be much greater than the outside air. Good for passengers, yes -- but not so great for the plane, which needs a way to release some of the strain this puts on the aircraft. Enter the tiny "bleed" or "breather" holes, which do just that.

Look closely at your window, and you'll see that it's not just made up of one durable pane, but three. According to Mark Vanhoenacker, a British Airways pilot who writes for Slate, the innermost pane is mostly to protect the second and third panes, which are "designed to contain this difference in pressure between the cabin and the sky." The bleed hole, then, allows pressure to be balanced out between the cabin and gap between panes. Another function of the airplane window hole? To release moisture and minimize the frost or condensation blocking your view. And that's good news for any pictures you may take, because, let’s face it: We have all snapped a shot through that little window a time or two.

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