RFC6640: IETF Meeting Attendees' Frequently Asked (Travel) Questions

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Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                         W. George
Request for Comments: 6640                             Time Warner Cable
Category: Informational                                        June 2012
ISSN: 2070-1721

      IETF Meeting Attendees' Frequently Asked (Travel) Questions


   This document attempts to provide a list of the frequently asked
   questions (FAQs) posed by IETF meeting attendees regarding travel
   logistics and local information.  It is intended to assist those who
   are willing to provide local information, so that if they wish to
   pre-populate answers to some or all of these questions either in the
   IETF wiki or a meeting-specific site, they have a reasonably complete
   list of ideas to draw from.  It is not meant as a list of required
   information that the host or Secretariat needs to provide; it merely
   serves as a guideline.

Status of This Memo

   This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is
   published for informational purposes.

   This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
   (IETF).  It represents the consensus of the IETF community.  It has
   received public review and has been approved for publication by the
   Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).  Not all documents
   approved by the IESG are a candidate for any level of Internet
   Standard; see Section 2 of RFC 5741.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2012 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1. Introduction ....................................................3
   2. Why is this document necessary? .................................3
   3. Helpful Information .............................................5
      3.1. Travel .....................................................5
           3.1.1. Transit between the Airport or Train Station
                  and Primary Hotels ..................................5
         Taxi Information ...........................6
         Mass Transit ...............................6
           3.1.2. Getting Around near the Conference Venue ............7
      3.2. Regional/International Considerations ......................7
           3.2.1. Health and Safety ...................................8
         Water Availability .........................8
           3.2.2. Money ...............................................9
      3.3. Food .......................................................9
           3.3.1. Restaurants ........................................10
           3.3.2. Other Food Items ...................................10
      3.4. Communications and Electronics ............................10
      3.5. Weather ...................................................11
      3.6. Fitness ...................................................11
      3.7. Tourism and Souvenirs .....................................11
   4. Acknowledgements ...............................................12
   5. Security Considerations ........................................12
   6. Informative References .........................................12

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1.  Introduction

   IETF attendees come from all over the world.  The typical IETF
   meeting has representatives from over 50 countries.  It is quite
   likely that a large portion of the participants in any given IETF are
   newcomers to the specific location where it is being held or even to
   the country or region itself.  As a result, they are going to have
   questions regarding their personal travel needs and logistics that
   may only be answerable by someone who has been to the area before,
   someone who lives there, and/or someone who speaks the local

   The IETF, the Secretariat, and any local host organizations
   responsible for the logistics of making IETF meetings happen are not
   travel agencies, but they often can and do assist with identifying
   and hosting the common information that most attendees wish to have
   while they are planning their trip.  This document attempts to cover
   the most commonly asked questions and categories for information.
   This document is not intended to provide answers to these questions
   for every possible location in which IETF meetings may be held.
   Rather, it is intended to provide a set of FAQs for use by the hosts
   and others who have experience with the area where the event is being
   held, so that questions and answers can be handled efficiently,
   rather than waiting until someone sends an email to the meeting
   attendees mailing list in the days leading up to the meeting.

2.  Why is this document necessary?

   In reading this document, one may ask, "Isn't that why search engines
   and travel sites exist?"  Although we can sometimes find what we're
   looking for with search engines, that results in hundreds of people
   spending time searching, which is not very efficient.  In addition,
   despite the widely held belief that if it is published on the
   Internet, it must be true, sometimes the information that is
   available is either inaccurate, incomplete, or out of date, so it may
   be less reliable than firsthand information from someone who has been
   there.  Also, no matter how much online translation has improved,
   some of the most useful local travel sites may be difficult for non-
   native speakers to navigate and find information, because navigation
   buttons, graphics, and other active content are typically not
   machine-translatable, and non-native speakers may not realize when
   machine translation is inaccurate in a critical way.  Lastly, while
   the companies that serve as hosts for IETF meetings often have
   participants attending IETF, the folks who are responsible for
   handling the details of hosting an IETF may not be regular attendees.
   Therefore, this document, especially Section 3, is intended to be

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   something that can be provided to host event organizers that may not
   have much familiarity with the IETF, so that they have a better sense
   of the information that attendees will find helpful.

   The format of this document was chosen so that it captures the FAQs,
   but usually not their answers.  This is because IETF RFCs are
   typically static and infrequently updated, which does not make them a
   particularly suitable format to contain location-specific
   information.  The questions found in this document are a result of
   informal review of the attendees mailing lists from past meetings and
   feedback from many individuals; they are believed to be reasonably
   static from one meeting to the next.  This document is not
   necessarily all-inclusive, but it should serve as a reasonable
   baseline such that a static format like an RFC is appropriate.  It is
   likely that this RFC will need to be revised periodically -- a clue
   that this is necessary will be when, over the course of multiple
   meetings, multiple additional questions that are not covered by this
   document repeatedly surface on the attendees mailing list and thus
   become FAQs.

   The answers to this document's questions are expected to be stored in
   a location that is easily updated by multiple parties, so that site-
   specific information can be refined and updated as often as
   necessary, thereby creating a living document.  There are several
   options as to where to store this location-specific living document.
   For some past IETF meetings, the hosting organization or an
   individual [HIROSHIMA] has set up a special website.  The best recent
   examples of these, in terms of the information provided, are
   www.ietf75.se and ietf71.comcast.net.  Unfortunately, these types of
   sites are not maintained indefinitely once the IETF meeting for which
   they were set up has concluded, so the only way to review them as
   examples is to use the Internet Wayback Machine [WEBARCHIVE].  Such a
   website has been a source of much additional information about the
   location and is always quite helpful.  If the host decides to set up
   a site like this, the hope is that this document will provide
   guidance as to the type of information with which to populate such a
   site.  However, it is by no means a requirement that the host set up
   an external website.  Further, not every IETF meeting has a local
   host, or even a host at all.  In these cases, the need for the same
   set of information is not lessened, but the IETF will be more reliant
   on the willingness of those with experience in the area where the
   meeting will be held to share the benefit of that experience with
   others.  The IETF has provided a hosted wiki [WIKI] that can simply
   be populated with the same sorts of information.  This has the added
   benefit of having a single location where additional information can
   be provided by experienced travelers, locals, and host
   representatives alike; it is therefore not completely reliant on the
   host.  In the case where the IETF-hosted wiki is to be used, this

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   document may serve as a framework of categories that could be pre-
   built when the site-specific page is set up, so that others can begin
   populating the information.

3.  Helpful Information

   There are a number of general categories of information listed below.
   Some sections, such as Sections 3.1 and 3.2, contain information
   necessary for travel; the rest can be considered nice to have.  All
   of it comes from actual FAQs from the attendees mailing lists.

   Much of the needed information may already be available in another
   form online.  There is no need to reproduce information that can be
   found on external websites, so simply providing pointers to
   information already available in other locations is quite
   appropriate.  However, it is very helpful if some validation and
   vetting of the provided information is performed in order to avoid
   outdated or inaccurate information.  Additionally, because this is a
   static and location-agnostic document, it's quite likely that some
   questions are either irrelevant or confusing for some locations.
   Therefore, "not really relevant here" and "we don't know" may be
   valid answers to some of these questions.  In those cases, it's
   better to say this explicitly rather than to simply omit the section,
   as this will confirm that the information was not simply omitted.
   The main thing to remember when providing information in these
   categories is that those traveling to the event have not been there
   before, so one should not assume a high level of background knowledge
   about the area, its customs, etc.

3.1.  Travel

   o  Recommended airport(s) for domestic and international connections.
      To avoid confusion, include the appropriate International Air
      Transport Association (IATA) airport code(s) whenever possible.

   o  Non-flight options to get to the city where the meeting is being
      held (e.g., if there are convenient rail travel options).

3.1.1.  Transit between the Airport or Train Station and Primary Hotels

   Information in this section is especially critical if the airport is
   significantly distant from the venue or use of a taxi is otherwise
   impractical or not recommended (e.g., if attendees must use a train
   or long-distance bus to get to the venue from the airport).  If train
   travel options are provided as an alternative to flying, it is
   recommended that the list below be provided for those options as well
   (e.g., transit between the train station and primary hotel).

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   o  Estimated travel time.  This is also important for return travel
      from the venue to the airport.  It is worth noting any
      recommendations about leaving extra time if airport security and
      check-in is always busy or if there will be significant
      differences in travel time due to rush hour traffic.

   o  Shuttles (if applicable).

   o  Arranging transit directly with the hotel (if applicable).  Hotels
      sometimes provide car service or are willing to pay taxi bills
      upon your arrival so that the charges can be added to the hotel
      bill instead of requiring local currency.  It is helpful to know
      in advance if this is common or uncommon in the local area.  Taxi Information

   o  Credit cards accepted?  Which ones?

   o  Foreign currency accepted?

   o  Estimated costs for taxis, as well as any rules/recommendations
      about metered fares versus fixed-rate or pre-negotiated fares

   o  Description of "official" taxis if appropriate

   o  Links to websites or phone numbers for remote/pre-booking taxis

   o  How to find the taxi stand at the airport/train station

   o  Printable local-language address card to show taxi driver in case
      of language barrier

   o  Ride sharing (the IETF wiki usually has a section where attendees
      can post arrival times and work out taxi sharing)  Mass Transit

   Navigating an unfamiliar mass transit system can be challenging.
   Things that seem obvious to locals may not be obvious to visitors.

   o  English map

   o  How and where to purchase farecards/tokens

   o  How to use tickets/tokens (where to insert them, how to get them
      stamped, how to transfer, etc.)

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   o  How trains/buses are labeled and how to identify the destination
      of a particular train/bus

   o  The general frequency of service -- in particular, whether one
      should just go to the station or consult a schedule first

   o  Which transit system to use for which destination (when there are
      multiple transit systems in the area)

   o  Nearby stations and how to identify a station entrance (common
      logo, color, etc.)

   o  It may be helpful to advise when things are not commonly labeled
      in a western character set (e.g., place signs) and provide
      pictures or unicode text representations of the signage as it will

3.1.2.  Getting Around near the Conference Venue

   The same information relevant for airport transit will likely be
   relevant here, including taxi and mass transit information.  If
   possible, walking directions between the conference venue and the
   hotel(s) should be provided if the venue is not co-located with the

   Additionally, it is helpful to note if having a vehicle available
   (rental or personal car) is a help or a hindrance in getting around
   in the local area.  For example, it may not be recommended to try to
   drive in the area near the conference venue due to:

   o  Parking availability and costs

   o  Congestion charges and other restrictions on when and where one
      can drive

   o  Traffic

3.2.  Regional/International Considerations

   o  Plug type/voltage.  This can simply be a reference to
      electricaloutlet.org [PLUGS] unless there are specific exceptions
      or details that need to be highlighted.

   o  Visa requirements, pointers regarding travel documents.  IETF
      typically provides information about visas via a pointer to an
      embassy or similar page that has general information about common
      types of visas, when they are required, waived, etc.  It also
      includes information about how to obtain a letter of invitation

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      should one be required.  It is helpful to provide information that
      goes beyond that, especially if there are known issues where it
      may be difficult for entrants from certain countries to get a visa
      processed in the time between when the meeting is announced and
      when travel must commence.  If there are expedite processes, this
      is a good place to discuss them.

   o  Languages commonly spoken

   o  National/regional holidays, work stoppages/strikes, or other
      issues that may impact travel or business hours during the week of

3.2.1.  Health and Safety

   o  Phone numbers to access local emergency services (e.g., 911, 112,
      999, etc.)

   o  Closest health clinic/hospital facilities

   o  Areas of high crime to avoid

   o  Common local scams, including taxi scams

   o  Hostile flora and fauna and how to identify/avoid

   o  Local air-quality considerations.  Everyone has different
      thresholds for "unhealthy" air quality, and those with health or
      respiratory problems may need to be able to locate local air-
      quality monitoring information to determine how to best prepare

   o  Smoking rules

      *  Are most bars and restaurants smoking or non-smoking?  Are
         separate smoking sections available?

      *  Rules about smoking in public places

      *  Availability of dedicated smoking/non-smoking rooms in hotels

      *  Rules about smoking outdoors  Water Availability

   o  Is local tap water potable/drinkable?  If not, is it truly unsafe
      because of impurities or contamination or does it simply taste bad
      by local standards?

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   o  How does one differentiate between tap water and bottled in a
      restaurant when ordering?

   o  Are water fountains/bubblers or water bottle refill taps commonly
      available in public places?

3.2.2.  Money

   o  General credit card acceptance in common locations, including any
      restrictions (e.g., requires a 'Chip and PIN' card, no American
      Express, etc.)

   o  ATM locations near the venue and at the airport.  Note whether
      these accept foreign cards, which systems they participate in, and
      whether they have an English language option.

   o  Tipping customs, particularly for taxis, restaurants, and hotel

   o  Currency conversion rate -- a reference to a currency converter
      site, e.g., Yahoo!  [CURRENCY] will suffice unless there are
      specific conversion details believed to be relevant

   o  In establishments where foreign currency is accepted either for
      purchase or for exchange, note whether this is recommended or not
      due to favorable or unfavorable exchange rates, etc.

   o  For what types of purchases (if any) bargaining/haggling on the
      price is expected or customary, and if so, customary methods for
      successful bargaining

3.3.  Food

   The nature of IETF's schedule means that food and drink provide both
   a welcome break as well as a venue to continue discussions with
   colleagues, either related to IETF work, other shop talk, or anything
   *but* shop talk.  During IETF's lunch break, approximately 1000
   people are simultaneously looking for reasonably priced lunch
   options, with time frames ranging from "grab and go" for a working
   lunch to 75 minutes for a sit-down meal.  When meetings have
   concluded for the day, the wide variety of attendees means that
   people are looking for all types of food, all price ranges, and
   atmospheres ranging from a place suitable for an in-depth
   conversation to a table at the bar.  The more information that is
   available about the food and drink options nearby, the better.  This
   information is especially helpful during the first few days of the

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   conference, because the number of folks looking for assistance from
   the hotel concierge or other information desk staff at one time tends
   to overwhelm the personnel available.

3.3.1.  Restaurants

   It's generally helpful to note whether restaurants require/recommend
   reservations, if they have busy/rush times that should be avoided or
   planned for, etc.

   It's helpful for restaurants to be categorized by:

   o  Price

   o  Proximity to venue (it's useful to highlight quick options for
      lunch breaks)

   o  Type of cuisine (this is a great place to highlight local
      specialties and favorites)

   o  Special dietary needs such as vegan, vegetarian, halal, and
      kosher.  It's also extremely helpful to discuss methods for
      communicating these needs to restaurant staff when ordering.  A
      more in-depth discussion of dietary concerns can be found in

3.3.2.  Other Food Items

   o  Local grocery/convenience stores -- for attendees who cannot find
      restaurant options that meet their dietary needs

   o  Coffee shops and tea houses nearby -- specifically, where can we
      find the best espresso or cup of tea?

   o  Bars and pubs nearby

   o  Restaurants or pubs with private rooms or large seating areas for
      big groups

3.4.  Communications and Electronics

   o  Places to purchase local SIMs and types of mobile voice/data
      service supported, (e.g., Global System for Mobile Communications
      (GSM), Long-Term Evolution (LTE), Universal Mobile
      Telecommunications System (UMTS), CDMA, etc.)

   o  Places to get replacement electronics and accessories (e.g., power
      cords, adapters, batteries, etc.)

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   o  Public Wi-Fi access (outside of hotel and venue) including Wi-Fi
      availability in the recommended airports, mass transit, etc.

3.5.  Weather

   o  Link to a site or brief information on temperature and humidity
      norms for the time of year when the meeting will be held, e.g.,
      Weather Underground [WEATHER]

   o  If this is an area known for extreme weather, note any amenities
      to make travel easier, such as enclosed walkways or indoor
      passages between buildings.

   o  This also refers to indoor weather: what is the common indoor

3.6.  Fitness

   o  Soccer: If the weather cooperates, it is common for some IETFers
      to try to hold a "soccer BoF" -- a pick-up soccer game sometime
      during the week of IETF.  Thus, a field appropriate for soccer in
      close proximity to the venue is useful information to have.

   o  Running/walking paths or routes.  Some folks prefer this method
      for exercise over using a treadmill.

3.7.  Tourism and Souvenirs

   While this is certainly not necessary information for the primary
   goal of an IETF attendee, many attendees earmark a day or two on
   either side of the conference for sightseeing, so this is an
   opportunity to highlight local attractions.  Links to sites
   containing information about walking tours, local tourist attractions
   and the like are certainly appreciated.  If there are events
   scheduled adjacent to IETF such as music or food festivals, cultural
   events, etc., attendees are happy to hear about these events as well.

   Additionally, many attendees choose to purchase souvenirs as gifts or
   for personal use.  In addition to the standard "tourist-trap" items
   such as t-shirts and knick-knacks, many attendees look for items that
   are locally crafted, local specialties, or otherwise significant to
   the local area and culture.  This is another topic that can be
   highlighted in the information provided to attendees.

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4.  Acknowledgements

   Thanks to the following folks (and probably others the author has
   unintentionally forgotten) for their valuable feedback: Dave Crocker,
   Simon Perreault, Joe Touch, Lee Howard, Jonathan Lennox, Tony Hansen,
   Vishnu Ram, Paul Kyzivat, Karen Seo, Randy Bush, Mary Barnes, John
   Klensin, Brian Carpenter, Adrian Farrel, Stephen Farrell, Yaacov
   Weingarten, L. David Baron, Samuel Weiler, SM, Ole Jacobsen, David
   Black, Stewart Bryant, Benoit Claise, and Lawrence Conroy.

5.  Security Considerations

   This document is not a protocol specification and therefore contains
   no protocol security considerations.  However, some of the above
   items refer to the physical security of IETF participants and their
   property.  This document is not intended to be a comprehensive
   discussion of physical security matters for IETF attendees.

6.  Informative References

   [CURRENCY]      Yahoo!, "Yahoo! Currency Converter",

   [HEALTHY-FOOD]  Barnes, M., "Healthy Food and Special Dietary
                   Requirements for IETF meetings", Work in Progress,
                   March 2012.

   [HIROSHIMA]     Jacobsen, O., "A Visitor's Guide to Hiroshima", 2009,

   [PLUGS]         electricaloutlet.org, "Worldwide Electrical Outlet
                   List", <http://electricaloutlet.org/>.

   [WEATHER]       "Weather Underground",

   [WEBARCHIVE]    "Internet Archive: Wayback Machine",

   [WIKI]          IETF, "IETF Meeting Wiki", 2011,

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Author's Address

   Wesley George
   Time Warner Cable
   13820 Sunrise Valley Drive
   Herndon, VA  20171

   Phone: +1 703-561-2540
   EMail: wesley.george@twcable.com

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