Updates on Traveling with Devices, US Airports Rolling out New Scanning Proceedures


There are 10  US airports now following new enhanced testing proceedures for screening laptops and devices. You may have experienced the TSA rule in your airport that laptops must be in a separate scanning bin from your carry on. Most of us are used to this. But these are now being taking to another scanning platform away from you and your other scanned luggage possibly, it depends on their set up. Some are on the same conveyer belt. This isn’t new for many of us, but it is now being enforced at certain airports. This means anything larger than a cell phone must now go in the bin. Because of this, add a half hour more on to your pre flight check in, if not more. People having to physically adjust to this and fishing out devices will take up everyone’s time. If you have anything questions, call you airline or airport before you start packing.

If you are flying through these airports this summer, expect some more delays:

Boise Airport Idaho BOI

Colorado Springs COS

Detroit Metro DTW

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International FLL

Logan International Boston BOS

Los Angeles International LAX

Lubbock Preston Smith International LBB TEXAS

Luis Munoz Marin Intl San Juan, Puerto Rico

McCarran Intl LAS Las Vegas

Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl PHX



Keeping Track on Your Travels and Traveling Abroad


You have been living in America or Canada your whole life. You decide it’s time to adventure past your borders. You have mostly flown domestic or done a border hop to the US or Canada. Because the borders and cooperation between countries was fairly easy for years, you never took much notice of what it really requires to travel beyond. You’d be surprised at how many people forget they need a passport until about 6 weeks before travel, if not a few weeks. I have met people where I have asked how fun their passport pictures have turned out after they told me about their trip. I got the deer in headlights look. If you are lucky enough to live in a very large American or Canadian city with embassies from most countries available to you to stand and line and wait hours, you can wait physically in line for help with this. If not, you have to go to a passport center and wait some weeks, up to two months to get your passport. Then you need to figure out what visas are required for what countries. And if you will need to get shots for disease prevention. That cheap flight that attracted to you visit somewhere exotic suddenly becomes very complicated.

Americans have been traveling abroad more in the last few years. The economy is still not great, but many more people seem to be venturing out. But now we have countries, including our own, tightening borders and placing restrictions on travel. And face it, Americans tend to over do most things. Packing or not packing right is no exception. Then there comes the keeping track of how you travel.


I travel with a folder filled with many things. I may be an electronics nerd, and I use a lot of travel apps, but I know that things happen with electronics, that you will not have WiFi on the plane and sometimes having a hard copy to prove you paid in advance for a tour just feels a little more secure. It also helps organizing yourself if you have planned a crazy itinerary that isn’t all included in say a travel site like Booking.com.

I also have a digital folder in Google Docs and may do one in Dropbox as well just in case. I also have a folder with my professional CV and such. Yep, being a teacher means looking for the next year’s classroom while on vacation sometimes. Sigh.

The hard copy file though is my talisman. It shouldn’t be, maybe it’s better to think of it as a touchstone. I have printed copies of itineraries, booking confirmations, the list I started of gyms and other facilities. Oh, and the gym routine for the month copy so if I can get to a gym I can keep up with my plan. I know, you are on vacation, but I think of travel as a serious adventure and training and keeping fit helps you get through the marathon. Plus if the bathroom facilities in your accommodation are lacking, you have a backup shower. Also if you book in advance for theatre and comedy shows like I am doing for Galway’s Arts Festival and the Fringe Festival, having a hard copy of receipts may be a good idea. I do keep lists on my smartphone as well, but if the battery dies I am out of luck.

What to keep in this folder? Well, flight details are good. Yes, you should join the online website of your flight providers, not just rely on digital access when you need it. This way you can do things like make sure you have seats, because JustFly can only do so much with that on some participating airlines. It may say you have a reserved seat of choice, but when you get there it’s another story.

Any prepayments for tours. Yes, tours abound when you are traveling. You may book a tour or two from the city you are in. Many of them do not have cash facilities for when you get there and you will need to book online. Having a printout with a ticket is still the thing on many tours, they don’t all have online ticketing where you can download to your smartphone’s wallet app. And since many tour companies have very similar names in certain regions, it’s a good idea to have a hard copy with name print out and any tour meetup instructions. See, paper is really good for notes. Note that because tourist season is insane, it is best if you can book tours a month out, so retain your receipt. Many good tours get booked solid.

Notes on Your Smartphone
Yes, they all have a note app. You could also get Google Docs app to just play it safe. You should have a travel folder online as a backup and a document about your trip with notes, dates, etc. Travel can be overwhelming. I know for a fact that Fringe Festival is going to be massive and cramping 3 days of it is a marathon. Having a diary doc will work if you don’t have a travel journal. I have to do this since I blog. I will of course write bits in my hard copy journal while visiting sites and museums for notes. But constantly using your device in a heavy data city will rack up your minutes. Paper is cheaper.

Travel Checklist

Six or More Months Out
Shop for plane tickets. Great sales happen during end of year holidays. Shop even earlier and tickets will be less than half. Do research on visas.
Start booking rooms and reading reviews. You can change them later, but if you are going during high season, festival season in Europe and mean your fav city is already booked solid, you may have to stay in a neighboring town.

Two Months Out
Passport, Visas applied for 3 months out hopefully. Check embassy websites to see the requirements for the country you are coming from. Many countries are now revising their visa requirements.
Cases-Research luggage sizing allowed on all flights. European flights are restricted more than US flights and many of the newer small planes have very little overhead space.

Get laptops and electronics cases, sleeves suitable for travel. TSA is moving towards all electronics packed in the hold.

Week Of
Packing: Pack everything you would need for a mini vacation in the carryon in case luggage gets misplaced. Get trackable luggage tags. They have a online app that you can use to track luggage with and you can upload pictures of luggage and contents in case they get misplaced in travels. This supposedly helps if your tags get separated from bags. Take enough clothing and plan to wear some items several times. Baggage allowances are less than domestic US or Canadian flights allow.

Terrorism and Travel


On May 22, another act of senseless and cruel terrorism occurred in Manchester, England. The fact that it targeted children and young adults has shocked many in the world, however brought together a beautiful city of caring inhabitants. This is their city, and they will not allow this terrible atrocity to do further injury. The government’s response is to go into the UK Terror Level of the highest “Critical”. Troops are deployed to work with law enforcement.

I remember my first trip to London back in my university days. I arrived a few weeks after a terrorist attack. I was very young and had just come from the bubble of American life where we were mostly untouched by such acts. I read the local papers and went to where it happened and looked around. Londoners were determined to carry on. It was a truly humbling experience to talk with locals.

Many other cities in the UK are on high alert now because they have very public events going on. In Scotland, where I am going, concert venues are stepping up security and soldiers are being deployed to guard nuclear facilities and infrastructure that may be possible targets.

As a traveler the summer, you will be experiencing heightened security on planes due to the new laptop and devices restrictions. There will now be another layer of security in airports due to these recent events of terrorism in several cities around the globe. Prepare yourself for longer times in customs and be patient. Much of what is being done is for your security. Add an hour to your pre-flight time.

Show solidarity when you travel. If you are traveling to any of the cites recently affected by these events, show your support in your tourism by participating in the economy and talking to local people. Listen to what they are saying and experience their cities’ greatness. Let them start the conversation.

For more reading:


Galway, Bicycles (or other) — Sentence first


The photo below shows the western end of the prom in Salthill, a popular walking route near where I live in Galway. It’s local tradition to kick the wall on the right before turning around and retracing one’s steps; alternatively you can walk past the gate for further shore views across the bay to the […]

via Bicycles (or other) — Sentence first

Roam Where You Want To, International Travel Plans

15143063700_5a55e99829_oOne week into the last trip and my minutes and data I had purchased from my cellular provider had run out of time. Glasgow had sucked up a great deal of minutes. The constant use of apps and maps on the phone, even after turning off all apps running in the background, had blown through the mid level pricing plan plan I had purchased. It’s no wonder. The carriers I had to backbone on changed every five minutes it seemed in some locations, especially traveling on trains. Gotta use that WiFi more if it’s up on the trains.

Roam Around The World

When you go overseas or over the border, the carriers will change the minute you land. Your provider will charge you phenomenal fees if you roam. You contact your carrier before you go and purchase a travel plan. There are usually several tiers of service and most of us will pick the one up from the lowest priced plan. Don’t. I know it’s painful to look at, but just buy the plan that is unlimited, and read the fine print. No matter what you think, you will blow through the other plans in a matter of days. That is unless you are very careful, and turn the phone off most days.

Traveling with companions can cut down on many costs. One of these can be coordinating who has phone access live. That’s right, if you are a group traveling and have only two of you up and live at one time, and the others completely turn off the phone, you can keep costs and phone charging way down. If you are brave enough to coordinate so. Then fight that impulse.

Pricing and Decisions

So, to get through your trip without having to think too much about a $500.00 bill when you get back, you will probably have to go for a $300.00 unlimited plan. I would still turn off all background data for the apps as this will suck data power on your phones. You will probably need to recharge often, carry your power converter with you. I would still ask the rep what unlimited truly means, there may be some other charges that happen while say AT&T is using Vodaphone in the UK. Be prepared to get a surprise when you get back, regardless.


Got your iPad or other tablet with you and it’s got it’s own phone number as back up in the states? Guess what, while you are using it, this second phone is also racking up background data on your account. If you really don’t use the phone number as a phone, disconnect it before you leave. WiFi is in most hotel and accommodations, and there are apps to help you locate local free hotspots you can access.

Want to feel the international spy feel? You could try a pay as you go Euro phone. Would it be a good idea to buy a throw away phone and prepay minutes? If you really want to spend your time having to reload minutes while traveling, and you really are a stickler for budget, you could go this route. The cost on the prepay could be appealing, but the amount of minutes you would have to reload with and data would possibly mean more money if you count the time you spend on it.

Go Retro

Go offline. Eek. Yes, you are on holiday. Put it off and away when you are not using it for a walking tour. Get a physical map, you know the quaint old time things that you fold out? Or the free one that you get at your lodgings. It does scream tourist? Yes, but so does following a map app all through the city.

Do check in with your provider and see what plans they offer for overseas travel for the dates you will be planning. There are always new plans, and you need to really look at them to see if they are right for you. Make sure that the plan starts the day of travel before you leave since you will be on different carrier the minute you get off the plane. Good luck.

Further Readings