Speeding through Security

No one likes airport security, but if it makes travel safer I’m happy to put up with some inconvenience.

Here are my travel hacks to make security as easy as possible.

  • Give yourself plenty of time so you don’t stress:
  • Wear a jacket or waistcoat with enough zipped pockets for, coins, mobile phones and anything else metal then you can just put the jacket in the tray for X-ray;
  • If they have body scanners, rather than a metal detector you will also need to put you wallet in your jacket pocket as well;
  • If you wear a belt get one with a plastic buckle;
  • Slip on shoes, or elastic sided footwear (in USA only);
  • Have liquids in a zip lock bag in an external pocket of your carry on;
  • Have your lap top/tablet in a easily accessed place;
  • Put your hat in the tray (many hats have steel stiffeners)

If you are travelling a lot around the USA it is worth getting TSA pre-clearance.

Remove Old Luggage Stickers

Unless you want to lose your checked luggage!

History

Forty years ago, and more it wasn’t unusual to see suitcases like this.

I suppose that people regarded it as a harmless status symbol; to show how well travelled they were.

As everything was handled manually at a much slower pace there was less chance of luggage getting redirected.

Now

When you check in a bar code sticker could be placed on your checked in bag.

Sometime there may even be a integrated circuit  chip inside the sticker.

These stickers allow the airports and airlines to run high speed baggage conveyors and sorting systems to get you luggage to its destination.

If you have got an old sticker on your bag then you could find your bag has been sent to your previous destination.

Often a check in agent will ask you to remove stickers, however they may not notice a sticker, or you might use self check in.

Travel Hacks

Before you leave for the Airport:

  • Check your luggage carefully and remove all stickers.
  • Put you own tag on the handle with your name, email address and destination airport. ( add a phone number if you know which phone number you will be using at your destination)
  • Add a sheet of paper to the inside with the above information.

Travel Vest

One thing I wear which helps me carry on more than the Airline’s 7kg is a Travel Vest.

There are several travel vests on the market but the one I use is a ScottEvest which has 24 pockets

Unlike a lot of photographer’s/fisherman’s vests the pockets aren’t really obvious.

The photo gives an indication of the pocket layout.

As well as carrying lots of extra weight it means that, if you put all your loose items in the vest, you can put the vest in the tray and walk through the scanner.

When I go through security, and get on the plane, the vest typically contains:

  • Tablet computer + charger
  • I -Phone + Charger
  • I pod + Cable
  • Power adapter for destination
  • Noise cancelling earbuds
  • Passport
  • Boarding pass
  • Keys
  • Coins
  • Folding umbrella
  • Wallet
  • Pen
  • Mints

It normally weighs 3-4kg!

Do you use a travel vest? . . . . which one?

Disclaimer

I haven’t been paid or received any other benefit from this post.

My ‘Go To’ Checked Bag

Although I always have a carry on, which will keep me going for a couple of weeks, I still take a checked bag for long trips.

This enables me to take a few more shirts, and possibly some formal wear if required.

The bag is a Samsonite S’Cure cabin sized spinner case.

It’s only cabin sized so its easy to lift, and a bigger bag just encourages you to take more stuff that’s not really needed

I chose blue, rather than black, so it looks a bit different on the airport carousel.

OK for Long Trips

With this bag and a carry on I recently did 5 weeks around Europe quite easily

That included buying a few shirts and bringing back equipment from a Rotary Conference.

With two smallish bags it was easy to use public transport

I even walked a km from the station to my apartment with the bags.

Overall it saved me a fair bit of money in avoiding taxis or hire cars.

Why Samsonite S’cure

30 years ago I bought 3 Samsonite Oyster cases that have been round the world many times.

Over that time a couple of handles and a wheel have broken but each time Samsonite have provided free replacement parts.

The S’Cure cases are basically an update of the Oyster but spinner cases rather than trolley cases.

There are no zips, just strong latches that won’t spring loose and a waterproof seal between the two halves.

No 2 Carry On

Although the S’cure is carry on size the empty bag at 2.9kg is more than 2kg heavier than my Go To Carry On.

That means to stay within the 7kg weight limit for cabin baggage I can only take around 4kg rather than 6.5kg of contents.

OK for a weekend away but not really enough for a week or more as carry on.

Disclaimer

I haven’t been paid or received any other benefit from this post.

Great Way To Get Your Bearings

One of the easiest way I have found to get an appreciation of the place you are visiting are the ‘Hop On Hop Off’ buses.

In some cities there are even ‘Hop On Hop Off’ boats.

The buses are probably a bit overkill for smaller places, but we have found them a boon for big city holidays.

The commentaries can also give you a lot of hints about what things are worth doing.

Picking a company

There are often several competing companies but the companies with the most buses are the most convenient, otherwise you can too long waiting at stops.

Travel Hack – Spend half an hour having a coffee near one of the main tourist venues and watch the buses arrive. . . . You will soon know which are the most common bus companies.

There is also an advantage using companies with an ‘app’ that gives you an idea how far the bus is.

How We Use Them

Generally we get on the bus on day 1 of our visit and stay on the bus for a complete lap of the circuit.

We will then get off and visit one of the sights and start to plan the next few days.

If most of the sights are close to each other we will use the bus to get to the more remote places only.

The closer sites we will save for days on foot, or use public transport.

When all the sites are well separated it can be worth booking a 2nd Day on the bus (Normally at a considerable discount compared with a one day fare)

Some Downsides

If the traffic is really bad it can be very frustrating. . . . . In Kuala Lumpur there were times when the bus took 20 minutes to move 100m.

Sitting on the top deck can mean:

  • With the breezes you don’t realise that you may be getting burned on sunny days.
  • You quickly get very cold on overcast spring and autumn days.

In the USA the guides will be dropping heavy hints about ‘Tips’ every time you get off the bus.

Another Thing

Ten years ago we booked a day on a ‘Hop On-Hop Off’ bus in New York.

A year later we received a cheque for $30 as a result of a court ruling on cartel behavior by the two main operators.

Folding Coat Hangers

I don’t buy a lot of ‘travel gadgets’ myself, as I feel that most of them add weight without any benefit.

Recently someone else bought me some of these folding coat hangers and I have found them really useful.

As I generally travel with carry on luggage only I tend to wash clothes every 3-4 days.

When it comes to shirts the best way to dry them is on a hanger but there are often two problems:

  • Not enough coat hangers; or
  • They have those hotel hangers that only hang from the special fittings in the wardrobe.

These hangers solve those problems and don’t add much weight to your luggage.

If you can’t find them locally I have seen them on E-bay at less than $10 for a pack of 10.