Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Planning for the Airport

No two airports are alike, so these tips are meant to be generic enough to suit YOUR local airport.

Plan to check your luggage!  Put your ID information INSIDE each bag and use TSA-approved luggage locks.  Also, understand that in an effort to move your bag quickly through all the checkpoints, it may not be handled gently.  Buy luggage that is durable, then expect it to get damaged...hard-sided luggage is still best!

Carry-on baggage should be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you.  Yes, it's true that the airlines will *try* to allow you to bring a carry-on/roll-a-board AND a personal item (i.e. purse, briefcase), but sometimes that just doesn't happen and your baggage gets checked right as you're boarding the plane with limited time to pull anything out of it!  IF, however, your bag is small enough to fit under your seat, you get to take it on board while everyone else is checking their bags.

What should go in your carry-on?
- ID & Emergency Contact Info
- Itinerary & Confirmation Numbers
- Medication (more on that in another post)
- Emergency overnight supplies (more on that in another post)
- Dry snacks (more on that in another post)
- Cell Phone(s) & Chargers
- Laptop & Charger (if you're planning to take a laptop it should go WITH YOU onboard)
- Earbuds/Headphones for on-board entertainment
- Credit Card for on-board purchases (most airlines are paperless now and won't accept cash AT ALL)
- Entertainment (Sudoku, Reader's Digest, Word Search, Magazine, Catalog, junk mail, etc.)

My "Momsense" Carry-On Tip
- Pack a soft, nylon duffel bag with Snuggies & inflatable travel pillows!  The airlines only occasionally have blankets and never have pillows.  I pack ONE duffel with enough supplies for everyone.  It also comes in handy if you should happen to get stuck in an airport for many hours and someone's ready for a nap!

What's the easiest way to get through security?
- BEFORE going to the security line, find a monitor and learn your departure gate.
- AFTER security, gather ALL shoes and carry-ons then move AWAY from the line to put everyone back together again.
- Check out the TSA site that addresses best clothing, packing, etc..  It's a GREAT site!
- I disagree with TSA about the coats, though.  Here's the trick with the coats.  Have ONE roll-a-board packed with your coats.  IF you get to take it on-board you'll have your coats when you get to your destination (and may need to use them as pillows/blankets on the flight).
- ONE adult should be the "keeper of the boarding passes" and should distribute them to everyone else as you approach the TSA checkpoint, then collect them IMMEDIATELY and put them in a safe place.

Advanced Planning

There's more to making travel plans than just searching the best price on air fare.  Also check these sites to really be prepared...

Make Your Trip Better Using 3-1-1

How to Get Through the Line Faster

A Safe Trip (from the State Department and geared toward Int'l travel, but good info even for a domestic trip)

Traveling with Children (kid and parent friendly videos)