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Tips for hassle-free summer travel

SmarterTravel

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the busy summer travel season, when temperatures are higher and lines are longer. To keep you from overheating over unexpected annoyances, we’ve compiled a few tips that will help you breeze through the airport and into your seat.

Packing your bags

It’s good to be prepared for any contingency during your vacation, but don’t pack everything but the kitchen sink. Airlines have tightened their luggage rules, and are now charging more for heavy baggage. Also, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun scanning every checked bag, which might result in your luggage being delayed if it’s overstuffed or contains items that aren’t allowed.

The TSA has also released summer travel tips to help you avoid baggage trouble at the airport:

  • Don’t carry sporting goods on board: Summer is the season when travelers fly with everything from golf clubs to fishing poles. Plan to put your sporting gear into your checked bags.
  • Stow your camping gear: Don’t expect to be able to slip a pocketknife into your carry-on; for a list of currently prohibited items, check the TSA’s list.
  • Leave the explosives at home: No matter how patriotic you are, don’t try to bring Independence Day fireworks on the plane.
  • Put film in your carry-on only: The screening equipment used for checked luggage can damage or destroy your undeveloped film; scanning won’t harm it if it’s in a carry-on bag.

Other security tips

  • With the U.S. back at the “code orange” terror level, expect security measures to be high. At many airports, you’ll see additional car inspections, parking restrictions, police and canine patrols, and additional screening of passengers and bags. It’s more important than ever to arrive at the airport with enough time for any delays you may encounter.
  • Many airports have eliminated gate check-in, and require that you have your boarding pass before you go through security. To avoid standing in a long line at the check-in counter, take advantage of alternative check-in methods, some of which can earn you frequent flyer miles.

Finally, read our suggestions for avoiding flight delays. If worst comes to worst and you get delayed or bumped from a flight, learn how to get the airline to buy your seat back.

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