Travel Tips for the Savvy Traveler
(Travel within the United States)
By Sherri Ferris, President and CEO
Protocol Professionals, Inc.

Travel tips to help minimize the challenges of traveling within the United States:

  • Getting Online and Plugged In
  • Be Airport "Security Check" Ready
  • Hand Luggage
  • Checked Luggage
  • Catching Bugs
  • Packing and Unpacking
  • Courtesy to your Fellow Travelers

Getting Online and Plugged In:

  • Some U.S. hotels do not yet have broadband or wireless ("Wi-Fi") so we recommend bringing various cords for different access requirements.

  • Bring long telephone and cable cords as well as an electrical extension cord. These will provide you more options if the room's data ports, electrical outlets, and desk are not positioned conveniently.

  • A plug-in adapter that gives you more electrical outlets can also be handy since many hotel rooms have only enough outlets for their own lamps, radio, etc.

Be Airport "Security Check" Ready

  • Wear your photo ID in a holder around your neck. It's easier than fishing through your bags to find it and it can also be used to carry additional cards or travel documents you might need, such as airport-lounge membership card or $$ tips for airport transport or baggage carriers.
  • Make sure that the name on your airline ticket exactly matches your ID. Any slight variation (e.g., a nickname on your ticket) will cause delay and inconvenience and you could miss the plane. Don't lock your luggage unless you have a special lock recommended by the TSA (US
  • Transportation and Safety Administration). Checked luggage must be available for inspection.
  • Wear slip-on/off shoes, rather than those requiring lacing because they are easier to take on and off when going through airport security.
  • Traveling with scissors and corkscrews are a great convenience, but remember to pack them in your checked baggage.
  • Remember that the more "stuff" you have to hang onto, the easier it is to leave behind so consolidate - put items inside other items. You'll need to remove jackets and shoes; take computers out of cases and some airports require placing PDA's and cell phones in a separate plastic bag before passing through security.

Hand Luggage

  • Call the airline first (or check on their website) to ascertain the limits on size and number of pieces you can carry onto the plane. Often it is one piece of hand luggage, e.g. computer and one personal item. I like to pack my purse inside a separate small piece of luggage. This counts as one personal item and this meets the limit of two carry-on bags but gives you more room to pack what is needed. It also gives you a spare piece of luggage to check if need be on the return home. Two smaller pieces fit in the overhead compartments and under the seat more easily than one large piece of luggage.
  • Pack your important papers, medications, valuables, a change of underwear, and items you "can't do without" in your hand carried luggage, just in case the airline misplaces your checked luggage

Checked Luggage

  • Since most suitcases these days are black and many look alike, you might make yours immediately recognizable by making a loop of a bright, colorful sailing cord (using sturdy electrical tape to attach the ends) and twisting it through the handle. There are also distinguishable luggage tags, which can help you to recognize your bags.
  • A flat pack of "duck" or "duct" tape is an indispensable travel item. It comes in bright colors and can be used for multiple emergencies such as: luggage marking or repair, ripped hosiery or hems, broken eye glasses or cell phones.
  • Pack a folding duffel bag in your luggage because inevitably you will see something wonderful to take home and won't have enough room in your suitcase. This works perfectly for soiled laundry. Pack an extra luggage tag for this additional piece.
  • Place a business card inside your luggage just in case your luggage tag falls off and the bag is lost. It's a good idea to use luggage tags on all bags including your carry-ons.
  • On your outside tag, don't use your business card with your title, which potential thieves might use to determine the value of your possessions. For example, if you have a gold embossed tag, or your card indicates that you're the president of General Electric, a potential thief might well deduce that the contents are valuable. Simply write your name and office address on the outside tag; don't reveal your home address, lest this suggest an unoccupied home ripe for burglary.

Catching Bugs

  • There is nothing worse than being sick away from home. Pack a mini-pharmacy of antacids for tummy upsets; Band-Aids, Neosporin to heal cuts and scrapes; aspirin and/or other anti-inflammatory meds for that unexpected toothache, headache or ankle sprain, and a sleeping medication. Often high altitudes and the stress of travel, as well as jet lag can cause insomnia. Ambien or Lunesta seem to be the medication of choice these days but consult your doctor for his/her best advice.
  • The quickest way to pick up an unwanted germ or virus is through hands -- shaking hands or touching surfaces that many others have touched. Carry either liquid disinfectant or the pre-moistened disinfecting towelettes such as Purell. Use them frequently, including in your hotel room on items such as the TV remote control and the telephone. Maids don't usually disinfect these.
  • Get plenty of rest before you leave so that your immune system is stronger.
  • Drink lots of water and keep well hydrated on the plane. Getting up to stretch periodically and moving your arms and legs helps to prevent blood clots from forming.

Packing and Unpacking

  • Laying out what you intend to take before packing it, will help you to coordinate and accessorize.
  • Pack light. You can always send out your laundry. If the elevator or escalators shut down or are nonexistent, you may need to carry your roller bag up and down stairways.
  • Pack a small plastic spray bottle because when you unpack, many items will be wrinkled. If you fill the bottle with warm water and lightly spray your clothing, while smoothing out wrinkles with your hands, it will often look ironed when dry. Alternatively, put hangers with wrinkled items on the shower curtain bar and turn the shower on to the hottest position for a few minutes, letting the bathroom fill with steam.
  • Pack a few one-gallon and sandwich-size plastic zip lock bags. The larger ones will come in handy for leaky bottles or opened foods, etc., and the smaller ones are good for holding foreign currency or receipts.
  • If you don't have your address book in your PDA, print out needed contact phone numbers from your data base that you may need while you are away, e.g. airport transport company, hotel number etc. and keep the list in your carry-on, where it is handy as soon as you land.
  • Choose clothing that allows you to mix and match pieces so that you can pack less. In business, more conservative attire is usually appropriate.
  • Stuff your shoes with socks and other small items and use shoe bags to prevent soiling of other items in the suitcase.
  • It will only take a few minutes to list what you have packed in your suitcase. Keep this list in your hand luggage. If your checked luggage is lost or stolen, it will help you to remember what you packed and what you need to claim.
  • Don't wear nylon hosiery or polyester on the airplane. In a fire, these items could be deadly because they are so flammable. Wear comfortable cotton clothing with elastic waists if possible. Travel Smith and other companies make some marvelous wrinkle resistant travel clothing.
  • In an age of potential terrorism, it is probably prudent to pack in your purse or carry-on, a small LED flashlight that comes with a yellow smoke lens as well as a small light slip-on mask. The latter can be obtained at any hardware store where carpentry or fiberglass masks are sold -- the finer the mesh the better. These items take up very little room and in a fire, they could possibly save your life!
  • Take only your essential credit cards and leave the rest behind. I use a smaller wallet for traveling. Lay out your credit cards on a photocopy machine so that you will have a picture of your credit cards in case they are lost or stolen. Keep this in a separate compartment from your wallet. Some people carry credit cards in a separate holder than their cash, just in case a thief removes just one of them. Money belts worn under clothing are the safest. When distracted by taking photos, talking on cell phones, or with two hands on a camera, a tourist is often most vulnerable to theft.
  • Pack your own ear phones to attach to your computer and/or the airplane. The fidelity will be much better and the new versions actively filter out unwanted ambient sound, such as engine noise.
  • Count the rows from your seat to the nearest exit because if the plane has a problem, you will likely need to feel your way in the dark. It could save your life.

Courtesy to your Fellow Travelers

  • Don't talk on your cell phone in the waiting areas, in transport busses or enclosed areas. Other people don't really appreciate listening to your private chatter.
  • Apologize if you inadvertently hit someone with your luggage, such as passing down the aisles. Shoulder bags and backpacks are big offenders and most passengers who carry them are unaware as they whack people's heads as though they were bowling pins.
  • If other passengers are sleeping, don't talk loudly.
  • •  Stow your luggage as quickly as possible so that others don't have to wait to find their seats.
  • Men: Lift the seat in the restroom. There's nothing worse than sitting on a wet seat. It's polite to close the lid when finished, not only on airplanes but in all bathrooms.
  • Use a paper towel to wipe the sink after use. Leave it the way you'd like to find it.
  • If someone is struggling to lift their luggage into the overhead compartment, offer to help them! It takes very little effort to be civil and most of us learned these basic rules in kindergarten!

Bon Voyage! Please share some of your travel tips with us and we'll be delighted to post them anonymously. If you'd like to reprint this or any other article on our web site, please contact us for authorization. Future articles will explore tips for international travel.

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