One of my worst memories is of travelling back from New York in a hurry, landing early (feeling relieved that I was about to make the meeting) then having to wait for almost 2 hours by the luggage belts because they couldnít open the cargo doors and we couldnít retrieve our luggage.
Since then I have made a special effort to travel with nothing more than hand luggage as much as possible. There are several tricks that I have learnt over the years that may be useful to others. In summary they include:
Finally donít forget passport, tickets and credit cards Ė you can survive without most of the rest.
- Obey the new security restrictions.
After 11 September 2001, airlines restrict the kind of things you can carry onto the plane. If you donít want to lose them at the first airport that you get to, leave behind the Swiss army knife, corkscrew, nail scissors etc.
- Have the correct size baggage.
As planes get smaller and more crowded, the restrictions of size and weight of carry-on baggage are imposed more often. If you donít want to have to put your luggage in the hold then make sure it is within the size limitations.
- Buy luggage that is easy to carry.
Luggage now comes in a large range of types, materials and shapes. These include duffel bags, shoulder bags, garment bags, rolling uprights and travel back-packs as well as luggage with combinations of any of the features of other bags. The choice is yours but remember the weight of the bag and that you have to be able to lift it into those overhead lockers on the plane.
- Pack small size toiletries.
We are all becoming more dependent on our own brands of toiletries and a large range of products. All liquids need to be in containers which hold less than 100ml and the whole lot need to fit into a clear plastic bag which is approximately 20cm square. So you need to buy smaller size containers and be prepared to reduce the range of toiletries that you use when travelling.
- Donít forget first aid.
Remember the security restrictions but pack small sizes of the things you may need to cover the minor emergencies encountered in travelling.
The basic rule is to lay out everything you need then put at least half of it back in the closet. Make sure that everything co-ordinates and can be used as part of a number of different outfits. Wear the heaviest things on the flight. I leave suits and shirts on the wire hangers and plastic covers provided by the cleaners and fold underwear in the middle - this eliminates creases as much as possible.
- Electrical appliances.
One of the difficulties of worldwide travel is the different voltages and power plugs required. The simple solution is to minimise or eliminate the need to carry electrical devices as much as possible and use battery power if necessary
Mobiles phones are very useful but will not work everywhere and do require charging so transformers and adapters may be required. A local phone card may be an easier solution.
Internet cafes and telephone cards can reduce the need to carry telephones, portable computers and the various adapters required, but they will not eliminate the need completely. If, like me, the computer is absolutely essential then buy one of the smallest laptops you can find and carry a power pack and universal adapter. Never ever let it out of your sight - but then if you only have hand luggage this applies to everything!
- Other essentials.
There are a number of other essentials that I wouldnít be without but also things I donít need which colleagues consider indispensable. Things that fit into this category include; an alarm clock; a radio, ipod, DVD or CD player; laundry kit; writing materials; waterproof bags; cameras and associated equipment; a sewing kit; ear plugs and eye mask; books and maps; a day bag; a water bottle; rubber door wedge; duct tape and copies of all relevant documents.