Having recently returned from a conference in Baltimore I've decided that travel would make a good topic for this month. Now, I'm not a jet-setter by any means, nor am I nearly as well traveled as some of my friends, but I've been quite a few places and here are some of my travel tips for continental airline travel. (International will be saved for another day).
1) Print your boarding passes off before you leave for the airport. This will save you time at check in.
2)Wear sandals, flip-flops or other easy to remove shoes. Basically anything that slips on will work. Yes, this means you may have to walk ten feet or so in bare feet, but it saves you time and won't annoy the people in line behind you at the security check point.
3)For God's sake, go to the airport's website and get the list of what you can and cannot put in your carry-on bag.
4)Invest in travel sized items for toiletries. 1) they weigh less, 2)they take up less room in your bags, and 3)if they are under three ounces in size you can put them in your carry-on bag, provided they are all in a sealed quart sized zipper bag. You'd be surprised out how big 3 ounces actually is, and how much you can fit in that bag. I know I was.
5)Pack your phone charger in your purse or carry-on bag.
6)Small wheeled suitcases are a pain. They take up a ton of room in the overhead bins, even though they are allowed, and if you check a bag as well you have two rollies to mess with. If you are checking a bag use a backpack for your carry-on. They have lots of pockets for organization, they fit under the seat in front of you, and they keep your hands free. If all you are taking is your carry-on, by all means use the small rolling bags, just be prepared to get dirty looks from your fellow passengers when two bags take up the bin that's designed for four.
7)Pack your toiletries, something to sleep in, a second shirt, and at least one change of underwear in your carry-on, particularily if you are making a connecting flight. That way you, if they misplace your luggage, you can at least be comfortable that first night, clean yourself up and avoid having to go commando the next day. Oh, and pack your undies in a gallon sized zipper bag. This is in the event you get pulled for the random bag check. Clear bag means they can see everything but the guards won't be pawing your delicates.
8)Invest in a digital camera. Undeveloped film can be damaged by the security scanners. Plus, you won't have to worry about running out of film, and you can check to see if anyone closed their eyes and retake the pictures. Make sure you have either your charger or spare battery in, you guessed it, your carry-on.
9)A company called Flents makes ear plugs for airline travel that are designed to regulate the air pressure in your ears. You can still hear, but it muffles a lot of the sound from the plane itself as well as from your fellow passengers which is great. They really work too, and don't hurt, especially on short flights. I've used them on my trip to England last summer and my recent trip to Baltimore. I won't fly without them.
10)If you or anyone you are traveling with is a first time flyer, take Dramamine, especially if you have a tendancy to get motion sick. Trust me, from personal experience, you do not want to throw up on an airplane and the people sitting near you don't want you to either. Have you seen the size of the airsick bags? Impossible. Plus, it's not like you can roll down a window or take a walk to get fresh air.