I travel quite a bit for work. My job takes me all over the world. It’s quite exciting to say the least, to have an opportunity to travel the world with the military, supporting and equipping experts in their crafts to do good in the world. Often, I get to travel with them, it’s a perk of the job, at least to me. Getting to travel on “military iron” accompanying “my boys” (and gals obviously, for the emotionally challenged) to their places of duty. It makes things really simple. It is extremely rare that I’m given a weight or size restriction for my baggage, and I usually don’t have to worry about customs, or TSA (international travel can be tricky as I often have to plan for several different countries and overnight stays, but it’s usually abbreviated when accompanying military).
I write this having just endured possibly the most embarrassing, and stressful travel experience I’ve had since I was actually in the military myself. I travel to Las Vegas, NV often for work, home of the Thunderbirds, and Nellis AFB. I had my entire nearly three week trip planned out, I had reservations for a car and hotel, and had spoken to the unit representative about my work schedule. I purchased plane tickets and I was off! Valdosta, to Atlanta, to Los Angeles, to Las Vegas. Easy peasy. On the leg from Atlanta to Los Angeles, I pulled my wallet out to use a drink voucher I had, and COMPLETELY spaced putting it back into my pocket. I slid it into the seat back and continued to watch my movie while sipping on rum and coke. 4 hours later, I’m in LA and i grab my carry-ons and walk off the plane. Walk through LAX, and board my 1 hour flight to Las Vegas. I get my bags, i board the shuttle, and head to the McCarran rental car facility and settle into my red, drop top mustang, and lean over to grab for my license and credit card…..but nope! It’s not there! I instantly knew where it was. I still searched everything I had in Hope’s I was wrong. I gathered all my things, got back on the shuttle to the airport and talk to the ladies at the Delta counter. They said it’d be a while before they found anything, and to file a report. Which I did. I proceeded to uber to my hotel, where they proceeded to ask for my credit card, which dumbfounded me, because I’m rarely asked for it as it’s in file with my rewards member account. So now I have no car, and no place to stay. Thankfully I have a good friend here in Vegas who hooked me up with a couch and chow. It took Delta 4 days to find, and ship me my wallet via UPS. DESPITE what I think of Delta’s policy on returning ALL items to individuals via UPS, I am super thankful that my wallet was found, and was returned with everything in it, and nothing was compromised. So, this brings me to my original purpose, travel tips. I know a lot of people travel, and feel they have a good hand hold on the ins and outs of it all. It never hurts to get a reminder ever so often.
- Packing List- This gets overlooked ALL THE TIME. If anyone is like me, they put off packing till as close to leaving as possible, and often this is too late. I find myself in this situation far too often. I often wind up forgetting items that I needed while I’m away from home. A hygiene item, clothing items, or other things you may need such as access badges, paperwork, etc. I’d recommend starting your list as soon as you plan your trip, make it as detailed as possible, and remember to check things off as you put them in your baggage.
- Packing planning/organization- This can’t go unmentioned. It is critical for those of you who plan on flying. But even if you are driving, it is equally important. For those flying, you need to plan on complying at a minimum for TSA guidelines for liquids, batteries, electronics and the like. This often affects things like hygiene items, personal electronics, and the like. I always attempt to make my carry-ons as mobile, and security-friendly as possible. Its already bad enough I have to take my belt and shoes off, and empty my pockets. I try to consolidate all my pocketed items into my carry on bag before security, and rearrange while I wait to board. My checked bag contains EVERYTHING else. All I bring on with me is my computer, my phone, and a book. I vape, so I carry that on with me as well, per TSA guidelines. MOST vapor juice bottles are under the 4oz limit for TSA (100ML bottles are allowed through security). And your batteries MUST be carried on your person, and not in the overhead bin, or in checked baggage. For military flights, it’s not much different except you don’t have as many restrictions, and if you know your crewchiefs/loadmasters you don’t have to be concerned with much of anything packing-wise. Just make sure the items you need readily while flying are handy, and if you need a 3 or 4 day bag packed, make sure that you have EVERYTHING you need for that in there. Loadmasters DO NOT breakdown baggage pallets for passengers unless you’re dying. Trust me. FIREARMS. I own firearms, and I just flew with one for the first time. Super simple process. Make sure your firearm is unloaded, and in a hard sided case, or that your checked bag is hard sided. Make sure that when locked, the case remains closed enough that nothing can be removed if anyone attempts to open it. Ammo should be in the original containers, or in a suitable ammo container made of cardboard or wood. No more than 11 pounds of ammo. I just packed 6 boxes of .40 ammo, and it was fine, so at least 6 boxes of .40 180gr is less than 11 pounds.
- While travelling- keep everything of yours on your person, or in sight. I don’t let go of anything IN the airport. I keep my backpack on usually, and if I can close my pockets (zip, button, or what have you) I do. I have run into the issue of losing my boarding pass before walking through an airport from terminal to terminal. I also don’t get too terribly comfortable in the terminal waiting to board. I keep everything IN my backpack,. I usually only pull out my phone to keep busy, or my wallet if needed to buy something. While on the plane, per my previous experience I shared, I do not advocate using the seat back in front of you for ANYTHING. It was my wallet for me, for someone else it could be a cell phone, a small tablet computer, books, passport, etc. I would advise against even using your wallet for anything on the plane. I know this seems ridiculous on longer flights of multiple hours, but if you can’t manage a 5-9 hour flight across the country without a drop of alcohol, you have bigger problems than losing your wallet, and I’d seek help for that if I were you. The airline provides plenty of snacks and drinks that if you need anything they will bring to you free of charge, as many times as you ask and they have supply of.
- At your destination- Many people rent cars when they get to their destinations. I NEVER get too terribly comfortable in a rental car. There are WAY too many nooks, crannies, and crevices for things to get lost, or get left when you turn in your vehicle. I bring the things I will need while I’m out, on my person, or in a bag, and I keep them there. I leave the contract in the car, while you’re driving it, that is your registration. Better to leave that in the glove compartment or center console. In your hotel room, for shorter trips, I would recommend NOT getting too terribly comfortable. keep things centrally located that way you don’t have to scour the room when you’re checking out in order to make sure you have everything you checked in with. For longer stays, this isn’t viable or convenient. My best suggestion is to be as organized as possible. Put things in conspicuous places. Clothes in the dresser or closet, hygiene items in the bathroom, personal affects in drawers.
I hope that this wasn’t too much rambling. I just wanted to share my experience and a few pointers on the finer points of travelling that I’ve learned over the years. If there are any other interesting travel tips you all can think of, let me know in the comments, or look me up on social media and shoot me a DM, the icons at the bottom of the page will take you there.