Friday, August 17, 2012

Six Travel Tips That Save Time, Money, and Headaches

Traveling today, more than ever, can be a real nightmare. Baggage fees, delayed flights, and lines longer than the Nile can contribute to a day that can't be saved... even with the usual two martinis. However, as with anything painful, you can always do SOME things to make the best of an unpleasant situation.

Pre-packing

That's right! Traveling means starting before you even get out the door. My biggest challenge is keeping my weight under control. Er, that is to say, the weight of my LUGGAGE. 50 pounds is only going to cost me a "normal" charge, whereas 70 pounds is an "overweight" (extra charge) bag. They won't even take anything heavier than that anymore at the check-in.

Get There Early

According to the U.S. Transportation Authority, arrive 2 hours before your domestic flight departs, three for an international one. By not running as late as a little White Rabbit, you won't be edgy, you'll have some time to get fueled up, and oh yeah... you'll make it onto the plane!

Eat Right for Flight

Sure, eating a bellyful of bacon and biscuits seems like a good idea when you first wake up, but you'll regret it 2 hours into your flight. Carbs expand in your stomach, due to the low air pressure in an airplane cabin. Also, throughout your travel day, be sure to drink plenty of water. The air you breathe at altitude lacks the usual moisture, so your body loses more fluids than normal.

Where Did I Put That Passport?

One of the most valuable lessons, especially for someone as absent-minded as I can be sometimes, is to have a designated spot for each of your items. For instance, I keep my passport, boarding passes,  and my itinerary in a little pocket that is easily accessible (but that has a zipper) in my rolling carry-on.  Having a pocket or place for each item will prevent you from losing time, and possibly avoid hair-pulling, looking for that item.

Fly Comfortably

Comfortable clothing is essential on travel day. Most people can't pull off the "pajamas and slippers" look, but if personal appearance doesn't matter to you, I say go for it! To everyone else, I'd suggest loose-fitting garments, made of cotton.
I also always pack an extra pair of socks (sometimes TWO pair) so I can change them when I get onto my connecting flight. If it's an especially long flight, I bring along an extra pair of boxers as well.
As for footwear, slip-on/off shoes or sandals are great, and they are great for going through the security screening process. That brings us to...

TSA

Yeah, these rules have been around forever, but I gonna put 'em here anyways:
If you have liquids, make sure that they fit in a Quart-sized bag with individual containers no bigger than 3 oz.
Power cords should be neatly wrapped with velcro or a rubber band.
Take your laptops out of briefcases/backpacks. (They can remain in neoprene sleeves though.)
Whew... now that's over with!
Seriously, though, if you remember only one thing about going through TSA screening, it's this:
Whatever you do, don't give anyone in this area a hard time... not even a little bit. Let them pat you down (but no grabbing!), swab your carry-on, or whatever it takes to move along... then it's off to your destination!

Hopefully this will help the next time you have a day spent entirely on-the-move. May it be as painless as possible!

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