After having planned your itinerary, made your reservations and packed your luggage, make sure you leave a copy of your plans with an emergency contact person just in case. Because air travel is constantly changing and delays are sometimes inevitable, it is important to consider the elements of travel that don't necessarily mean more items placed in a suitcase, or charged to a credit card. Travel tips that cover what not to pack, how to stay in contact, and protect yourself in airports, etc. are considerations that don't immediately make it into a travel schedule. The following is a list of concerns that you may wish to address when planning your next trip.
- Confirm flight times, hotels, car rentals, train schedules, cruise departure times and dates for all portions of your trip within 24 hours of departure to make sure that they match up with your information.
- Make copies of your air travel itinerary and passport. Leave a copy with your workplace and family members or friends in case you lose your copy (they can fax it or email to you) or they need to contact you. Also, make additional copies for yourself and keep them in one of your suitcases in case you lose one.
- Provide your travel agent, cruise line or airline with your cell phone or phone numbers at the hotels/homes where you can be reached during your travels as well as an emergency contact back home, in addition to giving these phone numbers to your workplace and family or friends. Stay in contact with someone back home in case of a natural disaster - they can provide information on where you were at last contact.
- Allow yourself plenty of time to check in for flights given the enhanced security precautions at all international airports causing delays. We recommend you check out the CBP website or you can use the CBP app for estimated wait times at all U.S. air, land and sea border before making travel plans or heading out.
- Make sure you have a valid U.S. federal or state-issued photo ID to go through the checkpoint and onto your flight. Also, check to see that it is not expired. Not having this item or it being expired can subject you to additional screening which could cause you to miss a flight or be denied boarding all together.
- Do not lock your luggage as the TSA will have to open it as part of the security screening process. If you need to secure it, you could use cable ties. They can be easily cut and the TSA will provide seals at the airport to secure your luggage as an alternative to locking your bags.
- Carry any prescription medications (in the prescription bottles), itinerary, valuables, passport, visa and a change of clothes in your carry-on bag. But, keep a copy of your itinerary and passport in another piece of luggage in case you lose one.
- TSA requires putting the following items in clear plastic bags. Liquids, aerosol and gels, in limited quantities (3.6 oz bottles) are safe to bring aboard an aircraft. Each traveler is allowed one (1 quart) zip-lock bag in order to limit the total volume of liquids, aerosols and gels. Consolidating products into one bag and x-raying them separately from the carry-on bag enables security officers to quickly clear all items.
- Check for any additional fees (baggage or seating) and/or taxes to avoid aggravation and unexpected budget busters.
- If traveling with special items such as firearms, camera equipment, musical instruments, cultural and religious items that can be considered weapons, hunting and fishing equipment, check with the TSA special items requirements for bringing these items on board. There are many items that are not permitted as carry-ons but are okay if checked in.
- The TSA has created a free mobile app for iPhones and mobile web devices to help travelers get all the information they need about security at the tip of their fingers.
- Did you know that if you are Active Duty Military, you get expedited screening benefit? Eligible citizens include U.S. Armed Forces service members including reservist and National Guard members, who possess a valid Common Access Card (CAC).
There are additional considerations when embarking on international travel including:
- Make sure that your passport or passport card is valid for at least six months beyond your return dates of travel. Some countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months or you may be refused entry.
- When traveling internationally make sure that you have any visas that may be required. Verify if there are business or tourist visas and which one best suits the purpose of your travel.
- Do make photocopies of your passport, visas and any other pertinent travel documents. Pack copies in your luggage as well as leaving copies with your workplace, family and/or friends.
- Bring a copy of your medical history with you. This could simply involve listing any medical conditions, blood type, etc. If you are allergic to any medications, include this information. When traveling internationally try to have these items listed in the local language (if possible).
- If you are traveling internationally try to have key phrases written in the local language such as "help", "I need to see a doctor/the police" or "how do I get to...".
- Find the address and phone number of the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the area you are traveling to in the event of a natural disaster, loss of your passport or a circumstance requiring legal assistance.
Preventing theft is always a concern at airports, but also on flights. A few tips to make sure that your belongings aren't compromised:
- Constantly be aware of your surroundings. Theft is common at airports and even on board flights. I recently witnessed a scheme where a number of coins were dropped in front of a traveler in an effort to distract him. Luckily, the traveler was wise to the situation and held on to his luggage, yelling so loudly that the would-be-thieves fled.
- What you wear (fancy clothes, jewelry and even your shoes) can catch the eye of a would-be thief. Keep it simple. Also, keep in mind to dress conservatively (especially in Islamic countries) to blend in with the locals.
- Be aware that unwanted and/or illegal items may be placed in unattended luggage. Always keep your luggage within eyesight and check it to ensure nothing's been added to your belongings that you don't want to have to explain to a customs official.