Changes to TSA Security Rules Overseas – Power Up!

by Beth Whitman (July 14th, 2014)

TSA Airport ScreeningI’ve written quite a bit about TSA rules, the use of body scanners and the rights of airline passengers.

It’s difficult enough to keep up with all the changes implemented by governmental agencies and airlines. But it’s no wonder this one slipped by me (and most of the media, apparently) because it was quietly announced on July 2, when no one’s thinking about much more than fireworks and BBQ’s.

Here’s the lowdown.

The TSA changed their security measures once again by enhancing screening at some overseas airports. For direct flights to the U.S., you may be asked to power up electronics. No power? The electronic item gets left behind.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve boarded a flight with little-to-no juice left on my cell phone or laptop because I have used up most of the power in-flight during a long trip and couldn’t find a power plug at the airport during my layover.

According to the TSA website, “…officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening.”

The TSA added this new requirement based on information that terrorists may have a way to mask explosives so they aren’t detected by scanners or pat downs.

Unfortunately, they have not specified at which airports you can expect this new security measure. So at this point, you won’t know in advance whether your electronics may be checked.

Best thing to do is make sure you’re carrying power cords in your carry-on bag. Here’s one more thing to add to your bag subject to size and weight limits.

Not that I don’t appreciate the TSA looking out for the safety of all passengers, but the randomness and lack of consistency and information at this government agency is frustrating and does nothing toward making travel a better experience.

Add the TSA to the list of organizations/companies I wish Richard Branson would take over :-).

Travel Well,


Related links:
Customs May Seize Your Electronics
TSA Body Scanners

Photo credit:
Airport Security – Dan Paluska


PacSafe AT21 Wheeled Carry-on ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (July 9th, 2014)

Pacsafe AT21 carry-onPacSafe is truly one of my favorite travel gear companies. I’ve been using and recommending their products for probably 10 years or more. Why? Because safety is their number one priority.

PacSafe manufactures luggage, backpacks, locks, wallets, purses, camera bags and more. And all of these items have safety features meant to deter thieves from slashing, cutting and breaking into your bag(s).

A typical product might be slashproof, puncture-resistant and have zippers that lock in place so the bag can’t be opened.

It wasn’t until relatively recently that they introduced a line of luggage. My guess is that it took them some time to create a bag light enough that still has the safety features for which they are famous. But now along comes the AT21 Wheeled Carry-on.

This is a soft-sided, semi-collapsible bag that’s not only puncture-resistant but also includes their proprietary eXoMesh technology, an interior mesh that ensures items can’t be pulled out of your bag if the fabric is slashed.

The weight of the bag is under seven pounds – which makes it right in line with other carry-on bags I own.

Most of my carry-on bags are 22″ while the AT21 is, well, 21″. While the fact that it’s one inch shorter means it will be accepted by more airlines as an actual carry-on, for me, it’s a tad too small to bring on a longer trip since I can’t get quite as much into it. But I’m unique. I’ve been known to travel for five weeks with one carry-on bag and a backpack.

What I Love

  • Puncture-resistant fabric and eXoMesh technology means that the bag is going to last longer than other bags and prevent loss of items.
  • An external pocket is large enough for magazines and paperwork that I might want to access easily.
  • A large mesh internal pocket is also good for paperwork and magazines.
  • A long interior zipped pocket is good for pens, receipts and other items I want to keep separate from the main compartment.
  • The drawstring compression system allows me to pack down my items a bit tighter in the main compartment.

Not So Much

  • The handle system is internal (rather than sitting on the outside of the bag) and this means it  cuts into the space in the main compartment and creates a bump so that I can’t pack clothing items flat. It’s unavoidable for a bag with the internal handle system but I it still bugs me a bit as it cuts into my packing space.

If you’re looking for a 21″ bag, the PacSafe AT21 is an awesome option, particularly because of the safety features. As a bit of added protection, I might suggest having small luggage locks to lock the zippers together.

Available on Amazon for under $220.

Travel Well,


Related links:
Osprey Ozone Convertible Bag
Eagle Creek Morphus Carry-on

Disclosure: PacSafe sent this bag to me for review. Regardless, everything I have said in the post reflects my honest opinions.

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Cocoon Thermolite Radiator MummyLiner ~ WanderGear Wednesday

by Beth Whitman (July 2nd, 2014)

Cocoon Thermolite Radiator MummylinerIf you’re backpacker, you likely already know what a sleep sack is. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this very handy and very packable item, it’s a liner you sleep in that puts a bit of distance between you and the bedsheets.

When you’re staying in basic accommodations (think: youth hostel), this can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep or a fitful night where you’re worrying about what you’re sleep on (or in).

The sleep sacks I’ve used in the past have always been silk. This is probably because most of my backpacking days were spent in Southeast Asia where being covered in as little as possible was key considering hostels and cheap hotels rarely have air conditioning.

As I prep for the Snowman Trek in September, the trek where I’ll be spending 24 nights in a sleeping bag, in a tent, I decided I’ll need a bit of extra warmth while sleeping at, oh, 16,000 feet.

The Cocoon Thermolite Radiator MummyLiner is just the thing for that kind of environment. Slip this into a sleeping bag and it’ll raise the rating of the bag temperature by nine degrees celsius. (Sorry, only celsius is listed on the Cocoon website.)

I have tested this out and can say unequivocally that it works. I dunno about an increase of nine degrees celsius but when I slept it in, I woke up sweating on a spring evening. That doesn’t happen unless I eat two slices of chocolate cake right before bed. Success, I would say.

This lightweight sleep sack is made of Merino wool which not only keeps in the warmth but if it does get wet, it’ll dry quickly (50% faster than cotton). It’ll also keep you warm if it does get wet.

Definitely an item that’s getting packed away for that little hiking trip I’ll be taking. :-)

What I Love

  • Soft merino wool makes for comfortable sleeping
  • Warmth without weight

The Cocoon Thermolite Radiator MummyLiner is available in Red and you can get it on Amazon for about $60.

Travel Well,


Disclosure: Cocoon sent this mummy liner to me for review. Regardless, everything I have said in the post reflects my honest opinions.

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