Plan Ahead to Ease Travel Headaches

January 28, 2015

Waiting in a winding airport security checkpoint line is just one of many potential headaches today's travelers experience. Worrying about what to pack, what kind of identification is required, and how much cash to bring are yet others. In order to help ease the stress level before and during your next trip, it might help to review some guidance from the officials who oversee our nation's travel rules and regulations.

What Do the Experts Recommend?
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) keeps up-to-date information on all rules and regulations concerning travel by air, rail, and sea. At the organization's Web site, vacationers and business travelers alike can review rules and get tips to help make their trips as hassle-free as possible. For example, they can review the "3-1-1" rule, which states that passengers boarding an aircraft are allowed to carry bottles containing up to 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) of liquid or gels in a single, one quart-size clear plastic zip-top bag. Note that this rule does not apply to prescription or over-the-counters medications, and baby food, baby formula, or breast milk as long as an infant is present. Such liquids, however, are subject to physical inspection.

Other recommendations from the TSA and the U.S. State Department include:
• Don't carry large amounts of cash.
• Consider using credit cards instead of cash, but leave unnecessary cards at home.
• Try not to look like a tourist and minimize the appearance of affluence. Dress conservatively and avoid wearing expensive-looking jewelry.
• Consider carrying cash and valuables in several places on your person rather than in one purse or wallet.
• Keep your bank's telephone number with you -- in case of a financial emergency, you may be able to have money transferred to a local financial institution or travel agency.
• Make sure your name, address, and telephone number are on the outside and inside of all your luggage.
• Don't pack wrapped gifts in checked baggage -- they may be opened by security personnel during the screening process.
• Leave a copy of your itinerary with friends or family members back home.
• Check your credit cards, and homeowners' and health insurance policies to see what's covered while traveling.

Tips for International Travel
Americans now need passports to travel to and from all foreign countries, including Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. This may surprise some vacationers accustomed to showing a picture identification and a birth certificate.
Generally it takes six to eight weeks to receive a passport, but the State Department recommends applying several months in advance. Expedited service is available for additional fees.

Finally, those traveling to exotic locales will want to get any required immunizations and vaccinations at least six weeks prior to departure.
Traveling -- especially for vacation -- shouldn't create more stress in an already hectic life. Knowing what to expect before your pack your bags will help ease your troubles while you travel.

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