THE WALL STREET JOURNAL GUIDE TO POWER TRAVEL by Scott McCartney, the
paper's Middle Seat columnist, is packed with useful suggestions
that will make trips easier for both novice and veteran travelers.
For example, when it comes to improving your bags' chances
for arriving at your destination, the author recommends:
* Always mark your bags distinctly, but not with long ribbons
that could get caught in machinery. Use tape, or tightly tied
package ribbon, directly on the bag. And don't rely on big luggage
tags-they can get torn off. Baggage has become uniformly
boring black these days, and there's nothing worse than seeing fifty
similar black bags on a carousel. Colorful identifying marks not
only make it easier for you to spot your bag, but also keep other
people from picking up the wrong bag-unless, of course, eight
people on your flight all had black bags with yellow ribbons.
Yet when it comes to what luggage you should actually
buy, even McCartney is confused:
* Even the size limits vary among airlines. At American, United,
and Delta, the maximum size of carry-on baggage is forty-five linear
inches-the length, width, and height dimensions added together.
At US Airways and Continental, the maximum is fifty-one inches-
13 percent more. I have a Travelpro roll-abroad bag that I've taken
all over the world, and every time I've raised it to slide it into an
overhead bin, it has fit (sometimes snugly in older bins). The bag is
twenty-three inches tall, fifteen inches wide, and twelve inches deep,
when I don't unzip the expanders. At its standard size, its
measurements total fifty inches-exceeding the rules at the three biggest
airlines in the United States, while legal on Continental and US Airways.
And airlines wonder why their rules confound travelers?
So what's a traveler to do? Assuming you get on the flight, there's
always this option:
* Another jet lag strategy is melatonin to "reset" your body clock when
you arrive in a new time zone. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by
the pineal gland in the brain that helps control the body's internal
clock. It's released by our bodies based on sunlight-nighttime
yields the release of more melatonin. If you cheat yourself out of
a night, you lose melatonin and your circadian rhythm is disrupted.
Taking a small supplemental dose-doctors usually recommend
0.5 mg-about an hour before you go to sleep after arrival, and
perhaps a day or two into your trip, helps some people recover
quickly. Medical studies on melatonin supplements for jet leg have
been inconclusive. It's worth a try, but your mileage may vary,
as they say.
POWER TRAVEL does its best job in covering plane
trips . . . in addition, there are some good tips for booking
both hotel stays and cruises . . . my only disappointment
was that there's not coverage on car rentals.