Luggage, Travel, Vacation

Simple Tips for a Smoother Trip

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Pack essentials in your carry-on.

Recent stats indicate that, on average, at least one bag on every flight is lost or delayed. If there’s anything you can’t live without, pack it in your carry-on. This is especially true of items that are not easily or inexpensively replaced, such as running shoes or a lightweight raincoat.

And you’ll get through airport security faster if you pack your carry-on more efficiently. For example, have your quart-size plastic bag with liquids and gels packed in an outside pouch or right near the top of your bag so that you can easily pull it out for screening.

Know your hotel information.

If a) your baggage is lost or delayed; b) you miss your connection and will be late checking in; or c) you are going to a destination you’ve never visited before, you’ll want to have complete contact information for your hotel on your person. Before you leave home, print out the hotel’s name, address and phone number, and program the latter into your cell phone. It’s also a good idea to print out a map of the hotel’s neighborhood, whether for your own use or to show to a confused cab driver.

Save your boarding pass.

Do you usually toss your boarding pass as soon as you step off the plane? You might want to reconsider. Your boarding pass can serve as proof of travel if your airline fails to give you the proper credit for frequent flier miles; this type of problem is particularly common if you’re flying on a codeshare partner of the airline in question. Your boarding pass can also be useful as a receipt for tax purposes, particularly if you’re self-employed.

Get your seat assignments ASAP.

As I mention above, every minute you pass without a seat assignment is another minute that your aisle or window seat is given to someone else. Your best bet is to check in online, which can typically be done up to 24 hours before your flight. But note that not all flights, airlines or classes of travel permit advance check-in (or seating assignments).

Mark your bags with an easily recognizable item.

The days of flower-pattern steamer trunks are long gone; now we all buy our bags at the same stores from the same manufacturers.

The result: an endless stream of nearly identical bags on the baggage carousel. The solution: mark your bags by tying a colorful ribbon, stitching a unique patch or putting a large sticker on your bags. You won’t see other passengers pulling your bags off the carousel to check for their tiny name tags, and you’ll be able to see your suitcases come out the door from miles away.

Remember your flight number.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but knowing your flight number can make your life easier in small or foreign airports that do not list the full names of destination airports, or list by flight number alone.

Do not lock your checked bags except with TSA-approved locks; otherwise, if your bag is selected for random screening, agents will have to break the lock to get inside.

Do not overpack your bag. Screeners will have a difficult time closing your luggage if selected for inspection, which will only lead to wrinkles and the potential for lost articles.

Place any packed belongings you don’t feel comfortable with strangers handling in clear plastic bags.

Do not stack books and other documents on top of each other; instead, spread them out throughout your bag.