If you are traveling abroad this Christmas, or just catching a flight up north or down south, armed with an iPod filled with holiday tunes, a digital camera with pictures of your kids, or even your PDA and laptop in case – ugh – work duty calls, PC World's tips for traveling with electronic items could be indispensable.
According to the magazine, with careful planning, you can reduce the hassles of traveling with your wired toys.
The magazine recommends: Each air traveller is allowed up to two carry-on items, and you should make sure one of them is a bag filled with all your tech gear. Remember that electronic devices and accessories tend to make security checkers nervous. If your power cords and rechargers are interspersed with your lunch, spare PJs, and racy novel, you're setting yourself up to having all of it pawed through by harassed security checkers. (Unfortunately for travellers in the UK only business class passengers are allowed two pieces of hand luggage.)
Make sure that your electronics bag is not stored inside any other carry-on luggage as you go through security. Association of Retail Travel Agents president John Hawks recommends putting cables, chargers, and smaller devices into clear plastic bags to keep things organized when going through security.
Good news on camera front
One piece of good news on traveling with technology gear this season comes from the TSA. The agency says that it is okay to send your digital camera memory cards through the checkpoint X-ray machine. The agency recently conducted tests with the International Imaging Industry Association (I3A) and found no evidence of X-ray scanner damage to digital camera media cards or to the images they hold.
And though camera phones were not explicitly tested, it is likely that their images will be safe as well. However, watch out for your film-based cameras. X-ray scanners for both checked and carry-on luggage can fog both developed and undeveloped film.
I3A President Lisa Walker said: "Our tests should put travelers' fears to rest, that their digitally captured holiday memories won't be damaged in transit. Digital cameras and media can safely go in carry-ons without the need for hand-inspection, which will simplify security checks and make those long lines move a little faster."
On another camera note, if you plan to leave some photos on your parents' PC, be sure to pack the digital camera cord that lets you download photos from the camera to the computer. If not that, bring along a memory card reader or even extra memory cards. That way, you'll retain the ability to snap another 62 shots of the baby eating the candy cane.
Brrrrrr is bad
It's common sense that transporting delicate technology equipment in checked baggage is just too dangerous. And, according to Mike Goguen, a sales manager with British Airways PLC, airlines have a relatively low legal responsibility for damaged items. Goguen says the compensation "won't even be close" to the cost of a new PDA or laptop that doesn't arrive at your destination the same way you last saw it. "I would never, ever check a laptop," he says.
Keeping techno-gear with you also protects against the chance that it will get chilled during a long flight, which can damage some devices. The same goes for driving during the holidays -- don't leave your laptop, PDA, or camera in the trunk of your car if you're driving to, say, Michigan to see the family.
If you don't have a bag to comfortably transport your tech gear, you might want to invest in one. Targus, for example, makes backpacks and rolling bags for notebooks, so you can avoid lugging around a bulky shoulder bag.
The things we've left behind
According to American Airlines spokesperson Jacquie Young, one of the biggest problems holiday travelers experience is leaving a cable or adapter behind after going through security. After all, there's no point in taking the notebook if you run out of juice midholiday because your power cord is still sitting at LaGuardia. Young suggests labeling your items with your name and address, even if just with masking tape, so you can easily reclaim your cords at an airport lost and found, if necessary.