1. Don't dawdle at any airport, including Grand Rapids.
Longer lines at all airports happen during the holidays. Just because you've printed your boarding pass, and have only carry-on luggage, doesn't mean you won't have to wait in the security line. Printing a boarding pass at home will save you time at check-in, but not in the security line.
* add at least 30 minutes to the suggested check-in time to allow for long security lines
* Grand Rapids airport now offers special "Pre-Check" lanes, which don't require passengers to take off shoes, coat, or removing laptop out of a bag
* Grand Rapids airport also has special "hydration stations" beyond the security checkpoints where you can fill water bottles
* Grand Rapids airport also has the "Gentle Fur in Action" program (courtesy of West Michigan Therapy Dogs) which provides "Pet Me" dogs in the terminal area to help reduce stress
2. Packing 101.
Zip lock baggies are great travel companions. Use large ones to pack shoes. Pack your liquids (sun tan lotion, fragrances, makeup) in one so you won't have to worry about anything leaking. Pack your unmentionables in one and you won't be bothered when you learn your luggage has been inspected by hand (you'll find a form in your luggage notifying you when your luggage is searched). Add extra baggies for wet swim suits.
* call me for many additional packing suggestions
3. Whose luggage is that and where is it going?
Have you ever stood at a luggage carousel and noticed that 8 out of 10 bags are black? When your luggage needs to be replaced, think about replacing it with a brightly colored bag, or dress up your black one with colored stickers or noticeable luggage tags. I don't recommend luggage straps, as they can become caught in the moving conveyer belts and cause your luggage to be delayed.
* ask your travel agent for an extra copy of your itinerary and place that inside your checked luggage (if your name tags are torn off at least the airline can send it to your destination)
* consider using two luggage tags; one on each handle; it will make spotting your bag easier and if one tag is torn off then you have a back up
* put your luggage on a diet; it will save you money; most airlines charge additional luggage fees for bags over 50 lbs.
* are you bringing presents? Don't wrap and pack; TSA has the right to unwrap to inspect those packages. Bring gift bags instead and do your "wrapping" when you arrive at your destination.
4. Put some thought into your carry-on bag.
An unstructured carry-on can fit into almost any space. If you are flying on a regional jet, the overhead bins can be very small and might not be able to accommodate a rollerboard, nor a backpack. With almost all airlines charging for checked baggage, more travelers are bringing bags onboard and space is very limited. If you have a carry-on that won't fit in the overhead compartment, the airline can "gate check" the bag; however, you will have to wait to retrieve it at the jetway and that can cause you to miss your connection.
What should you bring in your carry-on?
* your medications (never pack those in checked luggage)
* anything of value (jewelry, cameras, IPods)
* entertainment (books, IPods)
* munchies (airlines don't always offer food, and there is almost always a charge for it)
* remember the TSA 311 rules!
* any liquids that are in your carry-on must be in containers no larger than 3 oz (this is the "3" rule)
* all of these containers must fit into a 1 quart zip lock baggie (this is the "1" rule)
* each traveler is allowed only one zip lock baggie (this is the other "1" rule)
5. Keep you and your home safe!
Let's not advertise that you and your family are away for the holidays.
* don't list your home address on your luggage tags; use your business address (thieves have been known to watch passengers checking luggage to find people whose homes will be vacant)
* don't tweet or post on social networking sites that you are gone (you can do that when you return home)
* and the old standards: stop newspaper delivery, hold mail, use light timers
Would you like to make traveling more fun and less of a hassle? Call your local professional ASTA agent who can provide you with knowledge and experience. The American Society of Travel Agents is the oldest and largest association of travel professionals in the world and is dedicated to providing travelers with honesty and integrity in travel planning.
And the best advice is to call your local ASTA travel agent for professional advice on traveling!
President, ASTA Great Lakes Chapter
President, Travel By Gagnon
4545 Cascade Rd
Grand Rapids MI 49546
(616) 942-6630 Local
(800) 452-2547 Toll Free