Over the years, I’ve traveled the crowded skies quite a bit for work, and have picked up a few lessons and tips which have made business travel a lot simpler.
1. I highly recommend getting a Global Entry (international + domestic flights) or TSA Pre-Check (domestic flights) membership. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows pre-screened travelers at major US and many international airports to pass through security via a vastly expedited process. Members enter an exclusive, and much shorter, security line (Pre-Check line), and are allowed to go through the screening process with their jacket and shoes on, and are not required to remove their laptop or liquid bags, with the express purpose of moving them through security as efficiently as possible. Global Entry members also enjoy the benefit of skipping the customs line when re-entering the US on international flights, instead they use a Global Entry kiosk, where they simply scan their passport and complete a customs declaration. The application fee for Global Entry is $100 and includes a TSA Pre-Check membership; TSA Pre-Check membership by itself is $85. Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check memberships are both valid for 5 years once approved. If you travel often as a family, I would suggest getting a membership for each family member, including children, as privileges are non-transferable. The application process is relatively painless and the price over five years is negligible. And the reality is that after skipping the security line for the first time, you will already be ahead.
2. Pre-made technology bag – Have you ever gone on a trip and realized that you forgot your charging cable, just as your phone goes dead? To prevent this, I always keep a “tech bag” pre-packed for my next trip, which includes a charging cable, headphones and a power station. When I’m packing for my trip, I just drop the tech bag in my carry-on, and never have to worry.
2a. Bonus Tip – Same idea works with toiletries. Have your toothpaste, toothbrush, Q-tips and other standard personal items pre-packed in a toiletry bag and store that in your carry-on too. No need to leave it to chance.
3. Don’t check your bags – With the allowance of a “personal item bag” to accompany your carry-on luggage, you should rarely, if ever, need to check a bag. By keeping your bags with you, the risk of losing something important in transit is eliminated, not to mention the time savings of skipping baggage claim.
4. Use the airline app – All major airlines now have an app you can use to check-in to your flight, produce a digital boarding pass on your smartphone, and provide updated status reports on your flight. There is no longer a need to take the time to print out your pass (and risk losing it) or log into your desktop at home to check in.
Hopefully the next time you travel, you can use some of these tips to help you have a simplified, and less stressful trip.