Monday, June 30, 2008

Light Weight Traveler

Pack It! Pack It All, and Let the TSA Sort it Out
© 2008 Leighann Lord

With ever tightening airport security rules and airline price increases for extra baggage it pays to travel light; this clashes quite a bit with the Girl Scout motto: Be Prepared. When deciding what to pack, my rule is I'd rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it; consequently my carry-on is jammed. My travel size essentials include:

Matches (Lighters are verboten on flights.)
Iron (Not all hotels have one.)
Hair Dryer (See iron.)
First-Aid Kit (Accidents happen.)
Ben Gay (See first aid kit.)
Toilet Paper (It’s not cute to be caught wanting at a vulnerable moment.)
Paper Towels (See toilet paper.)
Lysol (Germs like to travel, too.)
Hand Sanitizer (See Lysol.)
Teddy Bear (My parents never broke me out of the habit and he's the one furry thing in my life that doesn't snore.)
Duct Tape (See below.)
I perform on cruise ships and even on the lowest setting the air conditioning gives my cabin that breezy meat locker feeling. I prefer my room to be only slightly cooler than the equator. So to cut down on the draft I break out the duct tape and tape up the ducts. Add in the clothes, shoes and accessories, and I've got a densely packed carry-on suitcase that my Husband affectionately calls The Hernia Maker.

I avoid checking a bag whenever I can. I don't want to pay extra money and I certainly don't want to spend time waiting at the carousel while the baggage handlers riffle through my belongings. I'm not disparaging all baggage handlers, just the guy who stole jewelry from my checked bag on a flight from Miami to New York. To his credit he had a very discerning eye. He took the real stuff and left the junk.

I also don't want to run the risk of an airline losing my luggage, again. USAirways lost my bag on a connecting flight through Pittsburgh. The airline representative told me -- with a straight face -- that my bag “could have ended up in any city that starts with a 'P.'” Pasadena? Portland? Paris? Perfect.

American Airlines lost my luggage on a direct flight from Miami to Nassau. How is that possible? They removed my bag from the plane because of weight restrictions. (I've got to put my Teddy Bear on a diet.) They promised to send my bag on the very next flight. It got to me six days later. My Teddy Bear was in that bag. I was distraught and he was pissed. After that he refused to travel in anything but my carry-on.

Traveling without checking a bag means mastering the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) 3-1-1 Rule:

Travel size containers 3 ounces or less
In a one quart zip-top bag
One per person
I have this rule down to a science, or so I thought. On a recent trip I forgot to switch my hand lotion from my handbag to my baggie. I realized this while watching my bag go through the x-ray machine. I mentally prepared myself for the indignity of a second screening, which can include: a probing security wand, a criminal-style pat down and a thorough bag search; but nothing happened.

I should have been grateful that I flew under the radar losing neither time being search nor product being confiscated, but shouldn’t my Bath & Body Works Moonlit Path hand lotion have set off a code red airport lock down? What kind of security is this? Is it a setup? Will I be on the list for a “random” cavity search before my next flight? I might have a hard time explaining the teddy bear and duct tape.

Thank you for reading The Urban Erma.

Please feel free to subscribe or visit again soon to find out about news, Leighann's TV appearances, live stand-up comedy shows or to join the mailing list.

No comments: