3 PACK ESSENTIALS IN YOUR CARRY-ON. I always feel a moment of anxiety when I check in at Denver International Airport and watch my bag disappear down the luggage conveyor belt. Will I ever see it again? Is it really possible it will arrive in Florence, Italy, in a day and half when I get there?
One comforting thought is even if I never see my luggage again, I have everything I need for my trip, minus picking up a few extra clothes. I always pack my essentials in my carry-on. These include camera gear, battery chargers, prescription meds and an extra change of clothes.
I once went to Mongolia on a photo trip, and my luggage didn't arrive with me. Korean Air swore they'd find my bag and deliver it to me. The next day, I took a small plane to the Gobi Desert and traveled many miles by jeep to my final destination.
My mistake was not packing some extra clothes in my carry-on, so I was getting a little ripe in my only outfit, but sure enough, on day three I saw a trail of dust coming across the desert, and watched in disbelief as a Korean Air employee jumped out and delivered my bag. Unbelievable!
4 DON'T BRING EVERYTHING IN YOUR WALLET. In addition to having my passport in a pouch around my neck, I also carry my wallet for day-to-day expenses, but I take out all the various cards I won't need and leave them at home, just in case I lose my wallet or it gets stolen. Parking pass? I don't need that in Italy. Sears card? I can leave that one at home, too. I only keep my driver's license, insurance cards and bank cards with me.
Make sure you can get cash at an ATM with your credit card (you'll need a PIN), and know what your daily limit is. If you can't get cash easily, this can cause a lot of headaches on the road. I split up my cash when traveling. I'll leave some with my passport in the hotel safe, and carry some with me in my wallet during the day. Keep your wallet tucked tightly in a zippered pocket, or consider using a money belt if you're worried about pickpockets.
5 LOSE THE ATTITUDE. Airport security varies around the world, but the bottom line is they're there to make sure flights are safe.
I recently was traveling in the U.S. and waiting in line at airport security. I'll admit I often scope out the security lines and try to guess which one will be the fastest. I got in line behind a guy who looked like a seasoned business traveler. Boy, was I wrong.