Traveling Thursday – That’s a liquid?!

When writing last week’s post about the new guidelines for carry-on items, I thought about those “surprise liquids” that can throw off even the most careful traveler.

What do I mean? Did you know a snow globe is governed by the 3-1-1 rules? If you want to carry on a snow globe, the globe part must be no bigger than a tennis ball (about 3.4 ounces of water) and the whole thing, base included, has to fit in a quart-sized baggie.

Peanut butter and yogurt are also governed by the 3-1-1 rule. Grapes, which actually seem more watery than peanut butter, are not.

When there’s any question, consult the TSA’s prohibited items database for guidance.

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Traveling Thursday – What can I carry on?

Earlier this month, the TSA announced changes to the list of prohibited carry-on items. Starting April 25, passengers can carry on small knives with non-locking blades no longer than 2.36″ and less than 1/2″ in width. Ski poles, toy bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs (two per passenger), ski poles, and pool cues are also allowed as carry-on items.

There is already a good deal of confusion about what is allowed on the cabin of a plane and this change will surely create additional questions and longer security lines, at least temporarily. If you have questions about what you can take in your hand luggage, please check out the TSA prohibited items page. There is a handy tool where you can type in the questionable item and get a specific response.

It will be interesting to see how these rule changes are implemented and what kind of delays this might cause. I see a lot of time spent measuring blades in security. I can assume (hope) that the screeners and passengers will get better as time goes on.

Traveling Thursday – Riding the Bus or It’s OK to be Afraid

A few weeks ago, I took Greyhound from Greenville to Atlanta to help my employer save a little money while I was attending a conference. This was my first experience with Greyhound and the bus station.

As I sat down to wait, I immediately went on full alert. My senses were heightened and every noise or sudden movement made me jumpy.  I am normally a mellow traveler but I was not in my normal travel environment. I was in a situation where it made sense for me to be weary. It was new and I was alone. I hate to admit to being afraid but I was.

By time I boarded the bus, I had begun to talk with other passengers who were waiting and gradually became more comfortable. The bus ride itself was a treat. I had a row of seats to myself and enjoyed the free wifi while I stretched out. Really, it was the most relaxing drive to Atlanta that I’ve ever had.

When I left Atlanta to come home, I was a little better prepared for the bus station but still felt a bit uncomfortable. There is a stark contrast between the order of an airport and the chaos of the bus station.

The point of this post isn’t about the bus but it is about the fear we experience in an unfamiliar setting. It’s OK to be scared. Sometimes our fear keeps us safe by prompting us to be smarter and more vigilant. So don’t avoid new experiences, whether on a trip or in your daily life, but give yourself a break if you give in to fear now and again.

Traveling Thursday – A little homework

The anticipation of a big trip is almost as good as the journey itself. I enjoy the planning and preparation. I also enjoy studying about the places that I am going to visit. Whether traveling in the U.S. or abroad, I like to pick a book, either fiction or non-fiction, that features my destination. This is different from reading a guidebook; the purpose here is to get a feel for the spirit of the place, not just memorize a list of sites that must be seen.

I find that many tour companies will provide a list of suggested readings for travelers. If you are not taking a group tour, I recommend Longitude as a source for books about your destination. If your time or budget is limited, the best bet is a book of short stories or essays. These compilations provide short sketches of the life, history, or culture of your destination. It’s a great way to build excitement for the trip and get a feel for the adventure you’re about to have.