Friday, July 09, 2010

Smart Travel

I have always loved to travel. Every since I was young I’d get excited planning for the trip, figuring out what sites to go and see, packing for the journey – especially my carry on – and boarding that plane.

Over the years, that excitement still remains, though a few things have become a bit more tedious. First of all, it took me ages to figure out how to pack ‘light.’ It’s something that my father always told me to do, but something I never quite managed. My suitcases (2 @ 32 kg each) were always packed to capacity, and my carry on that truly tested my muscle strength. Over the years, I got better. As I started to travel more frequently and as many of my journeys involved hopping on and off (in and out of) planes, trains, and automobiles, I had to cut down on my luggage in order to cope without utterly exhausting myself. I’ve definitely improved (though I know there are some people who think I still have a long way to go before traveling lightly)!

Even if my suitcase is still on the heavy side, the one thing I have managed to improve on is my carry on. I used to carry a complete change of clothes, enough material to entertain me – books, puzzles, music (and in those days it would be various CDs and a discman), and more – for an endless journey. Plus of course there are the cosmetics and toiletries, a notebook and pencil case, a case of toiletries, and of course my camera, wallet, and travel documents. You’re easily looking at a 12-15 kg bag right there! Now, things are much simpler. I’ve got my laptop, iPod, a notebook and pen, flash drive, plus my camera, wallet, and travel documents.

My iPod has truly been a lifesaver. Not only does it have all my music, but it’s also got a few audiobooks in case I want to ‘read’ instead of listen to music and games – Sudoku, Scrabble, Tetris – to entertain me. Now if I had an iPhone I could even leave my camera out … but until then, it stays with me.

I must say that lightening up my carry on has made traveling so much easier. Aside from providing my shoulder with some much needed relief, it also helps when going through airport security.

Airport security can truly be a pain, but it’s something we’ve all got to go through, whether we like it or not. I understand that because of heightened security, further, more intensive checks have been implemented, and while this can be irritating and time-consuming, it’s inescapable.

What I don’t understand is how there are passengers that refuse (whether knowingly or unknowingly) to abide by the rules. By now, you should know the drill. Wear shoes that are easy to slip off, take off your belt, and for goodness sake, empty your pockets! I get infuriated at men who leave their keys, coins, and wallet in their pocket as they pass security. Hello?! Morons! Empty your bloody pockets. Moreover, these are the people who get exasperated with the security guards when they are told to empty their pockets. They scowl, they moan, they complain … when in fact they are the ones to blame. They are the ones who are causing the delays!

I was traveling out of Heathrow airport a few days ago. I didn’t think passing through security would take too long since there were only 10 people in front of me. However, when I saw the family of 5, I knew I had made a mistake. It’s like they had a plan to do whatever they could to cause a delay. Their belts were on, one of the kids was still in the stroller, they had several bottles of liquids on them, they were still wearing their jackets, their laptop was still in the bag … I mean seriously, you’re standing in line. Even if you can’t read English, you can watch the animated screens and get an idea as to what you’re supposed to do! Plus, I have to ask – did these people not travel anywhere in the past 2 years? Or for some reason, did they think that today, at this airport, at this time, security would make an exception and let them just go through? I mean, the ban to take liquids onto the plane (no matter how ridiculous it may seem) has been in effect for over 2 years now. It should be obvious that you can’t take that 600mL bottle of water/Coke/juice through security.

I know that it’s frustrating and irritating and some of the rules seem ridiculous (like what type of damaging material can you really get into the thin, rubber sole of a sandal?). But this moment in time, just before you are about to travel, is not the time to ‘test the system’ or engage in a conversation about how ridiculous the rules are. These are the rules. Follow them. You’d be amazed at how easy travel becomes when you’ve got your allocated 10 bottles of no more than 100mL of liquid already in a transparent zip lock bag, your laptop is out of its case, you’ve taken off your belt, and your pockets are empty … You sail through security, put everything back in your bag, and you’re off … see, it’s not so difficult! Travel Safe!


Mel said...

Security checks can be such a pain, but like you said, if you plan or pack right, it'll be ok.

Traveling with screaming or annoying kids has to be my biggest nightmares! What's worse is when their parents don't even see/hear the ruckus they're causing! Just thinking about it makes me crazy!

Jade said...

It's all ok except for not being allowed to take water. I think they should at least allow that - especially if the bottle is sealed.

Don't even get me started on people traveling with kids. My large handbag is viewed with suspicion as to its size and weight by the security officers, but they completely ignore the enormous stroller, massive diaper bag, and all other child-related paraphernalia! It's unfair!

Traveling isn't fun anymore. Plus I'm not looking forward to the full body x-rays. I don't think it's a good idea and I don't think that it'll help increase security either.

Lola said...

I so agree with Jade about the unfairness in the amount of crap you can take on board if you have a kid in tow. All size and weight requirements go out the window, and yet I have to make my laptop fit into my purse??? AAAaaaaaaaaargh.

Are you seriously allowed ten 100 ml bottles?? How ridiculous... surely someone intending to smuggle on whatever fluids security is afraid of can figure out that they can distribute it across 10 bottles??? Some rules are so moronic. Remind me to tell you the excess baggage saga when I see you!

LMP said...

Travel like me.