For Newbies: Going Through X-Ray or TSA Pre✓® As Easily As Possible

We all know the process of getting through X-ray has become something of a time consuming organized chaos in the past several years. In fact, I’d put it up towards the top X-rayof the more stressful parts of air travel, up there with delays and the actual flight. Getting approved for TSA Pre® (which is currently available in more than 180 airports, with 37 participating airlines nationwide) or Global Entry does help tremendously, but even then, there are people who are not super familiar with the modern-day process of going through X-ray, with or without TSA Pre✓®, simply because they don’t fly very often, and sometimes that unfamiliarity can cause the line to snag even more. Here’s a list that might help:

Continue reading “For Newbies: Going Through X-Ray or TSA Pre✓® As Easily As Possible”

For Newbies: When An Airline Breaks Something In Your Luggage

I went to New York with a friend not long ago, just for a couple of days, to see a bunch of Broadway shows. We were only going to be out of town from Tuesday to Friday morning, for about 70 hours total, so we were able to get away with just using carry-on luggage, thereby saving us the time of having to pick up our luggage from baggage claim, as well as the worry of them losing our bags or breaking something in them.

Since I grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island, whenever I’m in Manhattan, the times when we’re not in shows are generally dedicated to food – either the yummy things, like Continue reading “For Newbies: When An Airline Breaks Something In Your Luggage”

For Newbies: Going Out of Town? What to Bring, What Not to Bring, & Tricks of the Trade

suitcaseHi everyone! While Joe is in NYC, I’m taking over the blog for the day. For those of you who may not know me yet, I’m Sharon, a.k.a. Mrs. Joe. Joe is definitely the points and miles person in our family. Me, I enjoy the benefits of his hobby but really don’t care about which plane is newer, bigger and better, how many cents a point is worth at any given moment, or what hotel gives you feather pillows and a personal concierge. As long as we get from Point A to Point B in a reasonable amount of time, and as long as our room is clean and relatively quiet, I’m good.

However if there’s one thing I’ve gotten really good at for all these trips to all these different places, it’s how and what to pack. For those of you who travel a lot, you probably already know all the ins and outs of this stuff. But for those of you who only go out of town here and there, here are some things to consider:

What Not To Bring With You

  • hairdryerHairdryer. I’ve been to 2-star hotels and I’ve been to fancy shmancy ones. I’ve been to places around the world. Nowadays just about every hotel has a hair dryer in the room (if you want to double check, you can always call or email the hotel before you go). Hair dryers can take up a lot of space and weight in your luggage – why bring one if you don’t have to?
  • Workout clothes. I’ll be perfectly honest…I’ve brought ‘em with me many times and I have yet to ever use ‘em on vacation. Now granted, your mileage may vary, but I bet you won’t use ‘em either, so just don’t bring ‘em ;-).

What To Bring In Your Carry On

  • All of your prescription medication (and if you’re going out of the country, all of your over-the-counter stuff, too, cuz they may not carry your Advil or Imodium where you’re going, or the box may be written in a language you don’t understand). This goes for any medical devices you use, as well. The last thing you want is to not have your meds or CPAP machine because they’re in your checked luggage that mistakenly got sent to the Congo (EWO) while you and your carry on arrived as scheduled at Newark (EWR).
  • A full day’s worth of clothing & supplies. Again, if your luggage gets lost, you want to have everything you’ll need for the next 24 hours. Your mileage may vary but for me that means PJs, a full set of clothes (including a coat or jacket if I’m going to  different climate), a bathing suit if I’m planning to go in the pool or to the beach the next day, my toiletries, chargers for my phone, iPad (with current converters if I’m going out of the country), etc. And yep, I’m saying this from personal experience.

Tricks of The Trade (things to consider bringing that you may not think of)

My travel night light, which allows me to choose green or blue light, has an on/off switch so I don’t have to rely on available light.
  • Night light for the bathroom (I have a small LED one so I don’t have to worry about a glass lightbulb breaking).
  • Chip clip to keep the window curtains together so morning light doesn’t peek through.
  • Portable scale so you can ensure your suitcase weight doesn’t go over (and if you’re going overseas, make sure you know what the limitations are – it’s not always 50 pounds).
  • Use an electric toothbrush? Pack it well, so something doesn’t hit it in your suitcase and turn it on. Happened in my carry-on once; I was rearranging my bags at the hotel’s check in desk, when all of a sudden there was this BUZZZZZZZZ sound coming from one of my bags. You could tell what the guy thought it was just by looking at his face, so I actually TOOK IT OUT OF MY SUITCASE so he could see that it really was just an electric toothbrush and not…something else. True story!
  • Small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer (or as my friend’s 3-year-old calls it, “hanitizer”). When you get to the room, wipe off the telephone and the remote control for the TV. Housekeeping rarely does and they’re excellent places for germs to hang out.
  • powerqubePower strip (some hotels are awesome at giving you enough plugs. Some not so much. Bring a power strip and you should have as many outlets as you need from only 1 plug. Bonus points if you use one that has both plug and USB inputs). The one in the pic has 6 outlets and 3 USB inputs in a cube that’s about 4″ x 4″ x 1″. Wouldn’t hurt to bring a short extension cord, as well.
  • Stuff rolled socks into your packed shoes to save space and stop your shoes from getting squished
  • Tide pen or other portable stain fighter (it’s your first day and you got tomato sauce on your white shirt. It will set in BADLY by the time you get home. Pre-treat it and it might help get the stain out).
  • Small flashlight (you’re in a room that’s unfamiliar to you. If there is a power outage or any sort of emergency where you need to evacuate, a small flashlight on your nightstand can turn into your best friend).
  • Washcloth (if you use one). It could be that housekeeping ran out of them. Or maybe you’re in a place where social norms suggest they just don’t use them. But if you’re used to using a washcloth and suddenly don’t have access to one, well, better to bring you own because using a face towel as a washcloth is a pretty big substitute (and yep, I’ve done it). I bring a bright pink washcloth so housekeeping knows it’s not theirs and so I don’t forget it when I’m packing to leave. Bring its own quart-sized ziplock bag so it doesn’t get other stuff damp if it hasn’t dried yet when you’re ready to go back on the road.
  • Going somewhere where you may bring home a lot of souvenirs? Either intentionally leave room in your suitcase, bring a small, closable, collapsable bag as a piece of secondary luggage on your way home (stuff it with your dirty clothes so there’s more room for the souvenirs in your suitcase, which will be sturdier) or go to the nearest post office and ship stuff home (NOTE: Shipping can become expensive. Look at 4th class mail, UPS Ground, etc).
  • Laundry. If you’re just going away for a weekend, you won’t have to do laundry. But if you’re out of town for a week or more, consider either giving up half a day to do laundry (see if your hotel has a washer/dryer, or look up where/email ahead of time to see where there’s a self-service laundry place nearby – that’s the cheapest way to do it) or have it done for you (it costs more but it saves you time to have a laundromat just wash/dry everything for you. Or you can use the hotel’s service…expect to pay an arm and a leg for that one) so you can re-wear stuff during your trip and save room/weight in your suitcase.

Your turn. What did I miss? What works best for you? Reply here and let me know!