Air travelers may need to undertake a physical and emotional spring cleaning.
An impending season of thunderstorms, hailstorms and tornadoes will follow a winter filled with snowstorms, sleet and ice, and the chaos often clutters the mind and luggage of avid travelers with all sorts of detritus.
Take a few minutes to empty the metaphorical travel junk drawers. Here are some tips from business travel columnist Joe Brancatelli:
Carrying on about carry-ons
United Airlines has embarked on a clampdown of carry-on luggage with the placement of “bag sizers” at many gates, and to accompany them, an crew member to intimidate passengers into paying a fee to check their bags. But, the airline hasn’t really changed the rules at all, but rather is rattling the sizer cages to remind travelers of size restrictions.
Despite United Airlines’ nit-picky agenda, it may serve as a good reminder to check the weight and size of your carry-on before you leave the house, or invest in something smaller, lighter and more versatile, like the scores of travelers who’ve switched to light weight, hard-sided bags.
Size-restriction specifications vary by carrier, but regulations allow passengers a total of 45 inches (combination of length plus width plus depth), and you may be harassed over bulging outer pockets and big, fat wheels.
Brancatelli’s pick: the Glazer Designs bag he purchased years ago. Other brands cost less and come in an array of colors and designs, but don’t rely on a bag maker’s claim that any particular piece meets “all: carry-on restrictions. Bring a tape measure with you, just in case.
Trim the technology
Sure, we love our gadgets. But taking every piece of technology we own with us when we travel is clogging our carry-ons and slowing us down.
Is it really necessary to schlep a phone, book reader, tablet, laptop, music player and who knows what else with us on the road? It’s essentially counterproductive, especially considering that at least one of the devices can do the tasks of all.
The smart-travel solution is to limit yourself to two devices: a smartphone and either a tablet or laptop. This will cut down on clutter, cables and the constant search for Wi-Fi and power outlets.
Render to Caesar…
Here’s why you may still want to enroll in PreCheck: when it’s working right, it’s lightning fast and doesn’t require you to take off or take out a laundry list of items at the security checkpoint.
Even if you’re selected randomly by an agent or your elite frequent flier status gives you PreCheck for free, you’re not getting selected as frequently as flyers who pay the TSA or are members of Global Entry.
Having a “known traveler” number (through $100 Global Entry membership or $85 TSA fee for PreCheck) offers the best chance of getting chosen for expedited security. TSA insiders even claim that travelers who have their paperwork in order and have “known traveler” credentials get selected for the security bypass line “ almost 100 percent of the time.”
So, you may have objections to rending to Caesar, but if you want to travel much better this spring, it may be worth it (your sanity will thank you).
Bonus: some credit cards will even rebate your fee.
Leave some stuff behind
The simplest method may be the hardest task for some, especially those with an aversion to packing light.
Travel experts know that good hotels almost always offer same-day laundry and dry cleaning, there’s almost always a Walmart, Target or other convenience store nearby for forgotten essentials, and there’s probably an app for finding a quick, cheap substitute for anything left behind.
And they don’t call hotel room’s “accommodations” for nothing. The Hyatt Has It program focuses on personal amenities and things like power adapters and phone cords. Candlewood Suites, an extended-stay brand from the InterContinental Hotels chain, has a Lending Locker that allows guests to borrow everything from board games to a crockpot. Westin Hotels’ WestinWorkout rents out fitness equipment and workout clothes. Kimpton Hotels’ has a plan called Forgot It? We’ve Got It! That stocks night lights, super glue, stain removers and an a plethora more of personal-care products.