Welcome to the March 2008 issue of "Smart Traveler". The
newsletter with tips and information to help make your traveling
Lighter - Or Pay the Price!
Are you packing for airplane travel? If so, you need an update on
airline checked baggage allowances. Recently, the airlines began
diligently enforcing regulations that have been in existence for
some time. They are now charging fees for overweight bags, oversized
bags, and for checking more than 1 bag.
Rules may differ slightly from one airline to another so it is
always smart to check with your travel agent or the airline.
Northwest Airlines says it will begin charging $25 for a second
piece of luggage for flights within North America.
The charge goes into effect May 5 and applies each-way on a two-way
Northwest Airlines Corp. is joining several other carriers
with the baggage charge, including US Airways and United Airlines.
Northwest's high-end frequent fliers and full-fare passengers can
still check two bags without paying extra. First-class passengers
get three bags for free.
Northwest is also going to start charging $50 for bags over 50
pounds. The old fee was $25.
Taking Less Helps
Let's talk about packing lighter—the best solution to the problem.
If many travelers can pack for two weeks in a small, 22" carry-on
bag and feel well dressed, you can pare down a little. Here are some
easy ways to pack less and pack lighter.
Take versatile clothes you can wear several times. A blazer worn on
the plane that can also be worn casually with jeans or dressed up
for dinner is a good example. Another practical piece is a denim
shirt that can be worn as a shirt or light jacket, or over sleepwear
as a robe. A different outfit for every day is a travel luxury; it's
best to mix and match a few versatile pieces.
Pack around laundry stops. Seven changes of underwear will work for
two weeks with a stop at a coin-operated laundry halfway through the
trip. Or invest in high-tech underwear made of comfortable wicking
fibers that can be washed in your hotel room; it will dry overnight.
Pack only three pair (one to wear, one to wash, and a spare) and
plan to do hand laundry.
Choose thin items over thick. A turtleneck plus a cardigan sweater
is warmer, more versatile, and packs smaller than a sweatshirt or
Pack only the cosmetics needed. Buy sample size cosmetics or
transfer the amount needed to a small container. Cosmetics often
represent half of the weight of a fully packed suitcase.
Take only three pairs of shoes—wear one pair and pack two. Shoes are
a very bulky item.
Who ever goes anywhere wishing they had packed more?
U.S. citizens won’t need a passport to cross over land
into Canada or Mexico until the middle of next year, the Department
of Homeland Security announced Thursday. According to MSNBC News
services, new identification document requirements will take effect
June 1, 2009. By then, U.S. travelers will need to prove both
identification and citizenship when crossing the border. “We are on
course to implement and enforce the Western Hemisphere Travel
Initiative which is an important step forward in securing the
homeland,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said.
“Limiting and standardizing the types of documents presented will
result in a more secure and efficient border. We will continue to
encourage cross-border travel and trade while at the same time
decreasing identity theft and fraud.”
Effective June 1, 2009, the following rules take effect for
U.S. citizens on cruise voyages that begin and end at the same U.S.
port (closed-loop itineraries) must show proof of citizenship* and
government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license). A passport
will not be required for passengers that fall into this category.
*Documents include: Original or certified copy of birth certificate;
Naturalization papers; Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by
Department of State
All other passengers and/or itineraries (such as cruises which begin
in one U.S. port and return to a different U.S. port or any cruise
that begins or ends in a foreign port) will require a passport or
other recognized document. For a list of accepted documents, see
The good news for a majority of cruise passengers – American
citizens that leave and return on their cruise from the same U.S.
port – is that the travel document requirements will remain largely
unchanged from how the industry is operating today.
loose batteries allowed in checked baggage
The new hazardous materials safety rule limits only two spare
lithium ion (rechargeable) batteries in the range of 100-300 watt
hour capacity and 8-25 equivalent grams of lithium content in
carry-on baggage. These are mostly very large capacity batteries
used in professional/commercial photography and for other specific
individual or industry purposes.
The smaller lithium metal and rechargeable batteries that you find
used in personal cell phones, I-pods, PDAs and other small consumer
use items fall well below this threshold limit and passengers and
crew are allowed UNLIMITED numbers of these batteries in carry-on
baggage, as long as they are safely packed to preclude battery
terminal contact and possibility of a short circuit.
The new rule that took effect January 1, 2008, now prohibits loose
batteries of all kinds in checked baggage, unless those batteries
are installed in the devices they are rated for.
What a steal!
With all the other worries associated with air
travel — terrorism, airline bankruptcy, long lines at security — few
people worry about theft. No, I don’t mean the ticket price or the
price of coffee at the airport. No, the thief I mean is the one
sitting next to you on the airplane.
Here’s what you can do
to minimize the risk of theft when you fly.
1. Hang it up
carefully. If you are in the habit of hanging your jacket
or coat in the closet, take all your valuables — especially your
wallet — out of the pockets. That’s the first place a thief will
2. Mark your
bags. More and more bags look alike these days, so put
something on your luggage that makes it stand out from the rest: a
sticker or ribbon – anything that makes a mix-up less likely. This
will prevent the intentional — and unintentional — misappropriation
of your property.
3. Dummy up.
Carry a “dummy” wallet or purse that contains only one credit card,
$20 in cash and one form of identification. Put the rest of the
usual contents in your carry-on bag. That way, you’ll have less to
lose if the dummy is lifted or lost.
4. Walk it
through. If there is a long security line, your bags may
clear the X-ray scanner before you make it through the metal
detector. Wait until you are ready to walk through the machine
before releasing your purse, wallet or laptop. Sure, there is camera
surveillance at security, but your thief will be long gone before
any review takes place. Fact: More items go missing in the
security line than from any other place.
5. Stow it
nearby. Once you’re on the airplane, keep your carry-on bag
nearby. Some back-of-the-plane passengers think it’s smart to stow
their bag in an overhead bin up front, for an easy grab during
deplaning. Believe me, a watchful thief can grab that bag a lot
faster than you can push and shove your way to the front of the
6. Bury the
treasure. If you put your billfold or any other valuables
in your bag, don’t put them in the outermost compartments. That’s
pretty much telling a thief, “Help yourself.”
7. Watch your
seat. Be careful when storing your bag under the seat in
front of you; don’t face any pockets forward, or the passenger in
front of you may walk off with your goods. Also, never leave
anything of value on your seat when you leave it to go to the
lavatory or to take a stroll.
8. Do not pass
go. Take special care of your passport and know where it is
at all times. Losing your passport will ruin your entire
trip; trust me on this one.
common sense. Carry your purse with the opening facing
toward you, and keep your wallet out of your back pocket. I know
this sounds obvious, but when people go flying, common sense often
gets checked with the baggage.
10. Speak up.
Don’t overreact if you catch someone handling your bag (innocent
mistakes do happen), but be firm none the less. Similarly, if you
witness a theft, tell someone immediately — a flight attendant, gate
agent, security guard — anyone. I‘m sure you would want their help
if you were the victim.
Remember: Without a travel agent you're on
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