Packing 101

Since September 11, 2001, things have changed drastically with domestic and foreign travel. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a component of the Department of Homeland Security, has authority over all public transportation: planes, trains, automobiles, and ferries. We often only think of them as being a presence at our airports, but their mission is to oversee the safety of all travelers, so pack for public bus trips or ferries the same way you would pack for planes.

When packing, above all, use common sense. Go to TSA’s website at and read the rules for yourself. Try to follow their suggestions as literally as you can. Not only will you be less likely to have something valuable taken from you, your passage through security can be much faster. Print out the checklists that pertain to you and carry a copy with your travel documents for reference.

Be prepared for individual airports to have their own interpretations of the rules — what may be allowed by TSA may not fly in a particular terminal. Drills, drill bits, and other small portable tools are allowed by TSA in checked luggage. Other tools — those shorter than seven inches — are allowed in carry-on. Scissors with pointed tips and blades less than four inches are allowed as carry on, per TSA. However, when planning your trip, call the airports and depots you’ll travel through and ask specific questions about your tools and equipment. Write down the name and title of the person you spoke with and the date and time. If there’s a doubt about something, having this documentation might help you, especially if this person is available to consult with.

Acetone, polish, cuticle creams, and even liquid and powders or gels are considered cosmetics and small quantities can theoretically be packed in your checked luggage with the rest of your cosmetics. Pack the smallest quantity you can work with, if you must. However, leakage is a real possibility with the changes of pressure. Double- or triple-bagging with sealed closures is a good idea. Be aware that the tiniest bottle of polish may be labeled “flammable” and therefore may be denied.

Make arrangements to purchase products at your destination. If you are teaching a class, perhaps the host of the class can assist you. If not, use a search engine to find nearby beauty suppliers. If you’re attending a show, you can usually purchase products from booths if you tell them it’s for a class or competition, even if the show floor is not open for business.

Boxes clearly marked “educational materials” may be checked. Be sure you meet the size and weight limitations. The best source of information on this is the individual airlines, bus lines, or ferries that you are using. They will all have their own requirements. Just because one airline will allow one carry-on and two checked bags, does not mean any other conveyance in your itinerary will be the same.

Ship It Instead

Nail kits are chock full of product, tools, and equipment that are never allowed. Your other option is shipping.
> Ship your implements, electric equipment, and products to your destination. Use a service that allows insurance and tracing.
> Use several smaller boxes, rather than one large one and the odds are you’ll receive your entire shipment. Shippers make note of multi-box shipments and tend to keep them together, especially if the “1 of 6,” “2 of 6,” etc., is marked clearly and large enough to read at a glance.
> Make a list of every item in every box. Add the label’s tracing number to your lists.
> Pack a box cutter and a small roll of shipping tape in one of the boxes to make shipping things back easier.
> Make up return shipping labels and include one in every box.
> Require a signature for delivery.
> Make arrangements for someone at the other end to call you when the shipment arrives.

Luggage Dos and Don’ts

> Use standard sized and shaped luggage. Why give hard working handlers a reason to drop your bags?
> Make them easily recognizable by adding something distinctive to the outside. (Use a sticker or something attached flat to the sides.)
> Wheels are always better than no wheels.
> Place heavy items like power boxes and lamps near the bottom, with lighter items closer to the top.
> Place small groups of items in sealed baggies. Double- or triple-bag liquid items individually.
> Label small bottles as “polish remover” and “nail cleanser” so it’s clear these are toiletries.
> Make sure everything is in good repair. A small split can be disastrous under the stress of loading and unloading.
> Check the weight before you get to the airport. Many grocery stores have large scales you can use for free.

> Over-pack. Bulging bags may split zippers wide open.
> Attach anything that hangs or is more than a couple of inches long to the outside.
>Ribbons tied to the handles to personalize the luggage often get caught in the conveyor equipment.
> Pack breakables in soft-sided luggage. Consider one of the new high-impact plastic cases.
> Skimp on padding materials. Large cell bubble wrap is a great idea.

Miscellaneous Tips and Tricks

> Clean out your purse or briefcase of all unnecessary items.
> Take one credit card, your ID card, and traveler’s checks. It’s unlikely you would need your entire array of credit cards or a large amount of cash on a business trip.
> Photocopy your credit card, front and back, along with your ID and keep the copies with your travel documents.
> Travel with clothing that does not have metal embellishments.
> Keep your ID card in easy access, along with your ticket. You will be asked to present them, possibly multiple times.
> Wear slip-on shoes — faux loafers or mules are a good idea. Wear socks.
> As you approach security lines, begin anticipating all you will need to do to speed your way through: Take off your coat, get separate bins for your carry-on, your laptop, your purse/shoes/coat. As you wait, put your cell phone in your purse or briefcase and empty your pockets.
> Put everything on the conveyor except your ID and your ticket.
> The more prepared you seem, the less likely you will attract the attention of security officers who are trained to look for nervous individuals.
> Remember: Off-hand remarks or jokes about weapons will get you a special booth search!

Useful Websites

> — Rules and regulations, tips, news bulletins
> — Live status reports on searchable airports-delays, construction, terminal maps, services and amenities
> — covers O’Hare, Midway, and Gary-Chicago airports
> —Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, airports, tunnels, PATH Rail, ferry, and bridges
> — Flight delay information on any airport shown on the map
> — JFK, New York
> — Las Vegas
> — Los Angeles
> — Dallas/Fort Worth
> — Atlanta
> — Orlando, Fla.

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