Birder's Guide

AUG 2013

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 57 of 67

Packing 411 for Birders " Are you thinking about foreign travel? What should you pack? Are you wondering whether you can walk onto a plane with a feld scope, binoculars, or a tripod? " P acking for a trip is always challenging, especially in this age of increased security and frequent baggage fees. Over many years of world travel, I've done a lot of packing. The purpose of this article is to share some of my insights so that you, too, can pack light, get through security lines safely and successfully, and enjoy your trip. Although the focus is on air travel, many of the concepts also translate well to car travel. Less is Best Most travel gurus tell you to make a list of essentials, gather them up, put them in a pile, and then get rid of half of the pile. Only then should you make a permanent list of just those items left. When you return from the trip, tweak the list again. Check out my packing list on p. XX, especially the essential items—marked with (E)—that shouldn't be left behind. Ideally, all essentials should either be worn or packed in your carry-on luggage. You can pack some items in a checked bag, but never put valuable items, such as your binoculars, feld scope, cell phone, laptop, or camera, in your checked baggage (a tripod can be placed in a checked bag). The essentials list is fexible. You can pick and choose which items aren't necessary for a particular trip. For instance, if you are traveling to The Bahamas, you probably won't need a knit hat or gloves. This list omits items that many travelers consider essential, including a feld scope and tripod, camera, laptop or tablet, water flter, snacks, altimeter, mosquito net, hostel sheet, travel pillow, rain poncho, travel guides, and reading materials. Each person's essentials list is unique, based on personal needs, comfort, interests, the destination, and whether the trip is part of an organized tour. The important thing is to make a list, so you'll never forget an essential on your trip. You can fnd travel tips, rules, and restrictions at the following websites: • Transportation Security Administration (TSA) • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) • Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) Your Carry-on Luggage Airline carry-on size restrictions have been in place for many years, and at the time of this writing, all airlines allowed (and often did not charge for) one piece of carry-on luggage plus one "personal item", usually defned as a as laptop, purse, or briefcase. A small backpack counts as a personal item so long as it is placed under the seat in front of you. Although TSA and CATSA allow a camera bag to be carried through airport security in addition to your other allowable carry-ons, check with the airline to see if this extra piece of baggage is permitted. In the past, airline staff rarely checked the size of a carry-on bag, but it is becoming more common that they tag larger items to be checked at the gate. The maximum size for a carry-on bag for most airlines within the U.S. and Canada is 45 linear inches (118 linear centimeters), that is, the height, width, All photos © Jeffrey A. Gordon 56 Birder's Guide to Travel | August 2013

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