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IETF meeting attendees' Frequently Asked (travel) Questions

The information below is for an old version of the document.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 6640.
Author Wesley George
Last updated 2012-03-06 (Latest revision 2012-02-23)
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd (None)
IESG IESG state Waiting for AD Go-Ahead
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Responsible AD Russ Housley
Send notices to
Internet Engineering Task Force                                W. George
Internet-Draft                                         Time Warner Cable
Intended status: Informational                         February 23, 2012
Expires: August 26, 2012

      IETF meeting attendees' Frequently Asked (travel) Questions


   This document attempts to provide a list of the common Frequently
   Asked Questions (FAQs) that IETF meeting attendees often ask
   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, merely as a guideline.

Status of this Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on August 26, 2012.

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
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect

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   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 and primary hotels . . . .  5  Taxi information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6  Mass Transit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
       3.1.2.  Getting around near the conference venue . . . . . . .  7
     3.2.  Food . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
       3.2.1.  Restaurants  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
       3.2.2.  Other Food items . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     3.3.  Regional/International considerations  . . . . . . . . . .  8
       3.3.1.  Health and Safety  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9  Water availability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
       3.3.2.  Money  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     3.4.  Communications and electronics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     3.5.  Weather  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     3.6.  Fitness  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
     3.7.  Tourism and Souvenirs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   4.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
   5.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   6.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   7.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
   Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

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1.  Introduction

   IETF attendees come from all over the world.  The typical IETF
   meeting has representatives from in excess of 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 the country or region itself.  As a result, they are going to
   have questions regarding their own personal travel needs and
   logistics that may only be answerable by someone who has either been
   to the area before, someone who lives there, and/or someone who
   speaks the local language.

   The IETF, its 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 the questions and answers can be handled more
   efficiently than waiting until someone sends an email to the meeting
   attendees email 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?"  And the answer is that yes, we can
   sometimes find what we're looking for with search engines, but that
   results in hundreds of people spending their 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 info from
   someone who has been there.  Also, no matter how much online
   translation has improved, some of the most useful local travel
   information 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 which
   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 something that can

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   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
   Frequently Asked Questions, 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 multiple past meeting attendees
   mailing lists and the feedback of many individuals, and are believed
   to be reasonably static from one meeting to the next.  This document
   is not necessarily all-inclusive, but should serve as a reasonable
   baseline such that a static format like an RFC is appropriate.  It is
   likely that the 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 surface on the attendees list and start becoming frequently
   asked questions.

   The answers to this document's questions are expected to be stored in
   a location which is more 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 the location-specific living document.
   For some past IETF meetings, the hosting organization or an
   individual has set up a special website, e.g. [STOCKHOLM], [PHILLY], or [HIROSHIMA], etc.
   This 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 sorts 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] which 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, and is therefore not completely reliant on the
   host.  In the case where the IETF-hosted Wiki is to be used, this
   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.

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3.  Helpful information

   There are a number of general categories of information listed below.
   Some of it, such as sections 3.1 and 3.3, is necessary for travel,
   the rest can be considered nice-to-have.  All of it has come from
   actual frequently asked questions 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 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, and
   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
      - include the appropriate IATA Airport code(s) whenever possible
      to avoid confusion.

   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 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 locale from the airport)

   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 there will be significant differences
      in travel time due to rush hour traffic

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   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 (yes/no and which ones, if yes)

   o  Foreign currency accepted?

   o  Estimated costs for Taxis, as well as any rules/recommendations
      about metered fares vs. fixed-rate or prenegotiated 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 the locals may not be as obvious to out-
   of-town travelers.

   o  English map

   o  How and where to purchase farecards/tokens

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

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

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

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   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)

3.1.2.  Getting around near the conference venue

   The same info 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 hotel.

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

3.2.1.  Restaurants

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

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   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

      *  Vegan/Vegetarian

      *  Halal/Kosheroi

      *  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

3.2.2.  Other Food items

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

   o  Coffee shops and Tea Houses nearby - specifically, where can we
      find the best espresso/cup of tea?

   o  Bars/pubs nearby

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

3.3.  Regional/International considerations

   o  Plug type/voltage - this can simply be a reference to [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 which may impact travel or business hours during the week
      of IETF

3.3.1.  Health and Safety

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

   o  Closest health clinic/hospital facilities

   o  Areas of high crime to avoid

   o  Common local 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 especially those with
      health or respiratory problems may need to be able to locate local
      air quality monitoring information to determine how best to
      prepare themselves.

   o  Smoking rules

      *  Are most bars/restaurants smoking or non-smoking?  Separate
         smoking section?

      *  Rules on smoking in public places?

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

      *  Rules on 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 watter bottle refill taps commonly
      available in public places?

3.3.2.  Money

   o  General credit card acceptance in common locations, including any
      restrictions (requires a PIN or chip, no AMEX, etc)

   o  ATM locations near the venue, at the airport - note whether these
      accept foreign cards, which systems they participate in, 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 that one believes 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

3.4.  Communications and electronics

   o  Places to purchase local SIMs, and types of mobile voice/data
      service supported, (e.g.  GSM, LTE, UMTS, CDMA, etc)

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

   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 info on temperature and humidity norms for
      the time of year when the meeting will be held, e.g Weather
      Underground [WEATHER]

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   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.  If you know of a field appropriate for
      soccer in proximity to the venue, this is useful information to

   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, and 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.

   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 are looking for
   items that are locally crafted, local specialties, or otherwise
   significant to the local area and culture.  This is another area
   where the local area can be highlighted in the information provided
   to attendees.

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

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5.  IANA Considerations

   This memo includes no request to IANA.

6.  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.

7.  Informative References

              Yahoo!, "Yahoo! Currency Converter", 2011,

              Jacobsen, "Ole Jacobsen's Hiroshima info site", 2009,

              Barnes, M., "Healthy Food and Special Dietary Requirements
              for IETF meetings", draft-barnes-healthy-food-04 (work in
              progress), October 2011.

   [PHILLY]   Comcast, "IETF 71 Philadelphia microsite", 2008,

   [PLUGS], "Reference site for plug types by
              location", 2011, <>.

              .se, "Internet Wayback Machine version of",
              2009, <

   [WEATHER]  Weather Underground, "Weather Underground", 2011,

   [WIKI]     IETF, "IETF hosted meeting-specific Wiki pages", 2011, <ht

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Author's Address

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

   Phone: +1 703-561-2540

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