by Joel Saltzman
These days, travel is nowhere near as easy as it used to be. We have compiled several helpful tips that may make it slightly less painful the next time you travel.
1) Liquid 3-1-1 Rules
Everyone knows that if you try to bring your own water, it will get confiscated by security forcing you to pay $5 for a bottle once you clear security. Here is the TSA rules on liquids. There is a very easy solution that that they don't seem to mention anywhere but I've been doing it successfully for years. I take a large bottle of Smartwater and freeze it the night before. I also put a note on my front door reminding me not to forget it. As long as the water is frozen, you can bring as much as you desire. This way you have ice water all the way to your destination.
2) FREE Surfboard travel
I personally fly Alaska Airlines quite a bit and found that the $75 per year for their credit card was well worth it. They not only let you fly free once you get the miles, you get lots of other benefits. One of my favorites is their "Buddy Pass". You get one a year. It used to be $100 plus tax but I believe it may be $110 plus tax for a second person to join you. The other really cool thing is Alaska allows one free bag per person on your reservation. That means if I book reservations for my friends, their boards travel free as well as mine. I've also heard that United recently launched a California program that anyone traveling to or from California with a surfboard would not be charged for it. I have not done this first hand and recommend verifying it.
3) TSA PreCheck , Clear, and Global Entry
If you travel globally often, it might be wise to consider one of the above programs. For $85, you are covered for 5 years and get whisked through security without having to remove your shoes or laptops. I personally have not yet done this because for some reason, about 60% of the time, they give me PreCheck anyway. TSA FAQ's
How does it work?
4) Food on the Plane
These days, you're lucky to get FREE coffee and soft drinks on flights. Possibly a bag of peanuts or a Biscotti too. Most of the food available is pretty heinous and overpriced. The only exception for me was the Angus burger that Alaska Airlines served for many years on the way back from Mexico. Unfortunately, that went away early this year so I will only bring my own food now. Of course, you could always buy something in the airport but it's going to cost far more than if purchased elsewhere. I personally buy a sandwich from my local sub shop with the dressing on the side. You will never have any problem bringing your own food. The only exception was once when the TSA agent thought my oil and vinegar may have been Nitroglycerin or something. I poured it on my sandwich and they let me pass that time. This has not been an issue since, except if I don't finish it, they seem to want to confiscate it going through customs in Mexico. They say it's because of the lettuce or something but who knows?
Of course, my favorite surf trip these days is Corky Carroll's Surf Adventure. As it's all inclusive and includes the usage of his surfboards and SUPs, who needs to drag boards around, FREE or not. Nothing is worse than getting home early on an international flight, having your bags come off the carousel first, and then having to wait a half hour at the oversized luggage area for your board bag.