September 3, 2002
• Carry backups.
Most X-ray equipment is low-powered enough not to be an imminent threat to laptop hard drives, but even so, a security-screening area is not an electronically benign environment: The X-ray gear, metal detectors, chemical-sniffing apparatuses, and less-than-gentle screening personnel all pose risks to the survival of your laptop of other devices--if not on a given trip, then cumulatively. It's smart to carry backups with you. As a belt-and-suspenders kind of guy, I carry two sets of backup CDs with me--one in my carry-on and one in my checked luggage. That way, if my laptop's data gets hosed, I can use the CDs to restore things. Or, even if my laptop and carry-on bag are lost or stolen, I'll still have my live data in checked baggage and can use that on a rented or borrowed PC at my destination to keep my business moving along.
• Stay up to date.
As events unfold, new information and procedures may come to the fore. There are many sites you can visit for current travel info. For example:
Civil Aviation Security Passenger FAQ:
FAA Guide To Safer Air Travel:
FAA Public Affairs:
Flight Safety Information:
National Aviation Safety Data Analysis Center:
Office Of Airline Information:
• Stay cool.
Expect to be searched; expect some level of hassle and delay, especially now, around the 9/11 anniversary. Arrive at the airport early to allow plenty of time to make it through security, and try to remember that all this hassle isn't the screener's fault. Any ire you feel should be directed at the murderers and morons who planned and executed the Sept. 11 attacks, not at the folks who are trying to prevent future attacks.
Your turn. What tips can you share for traveling with electronic gear? Have you had notable experiences, good or bad, that you can share with us? Have you ever suffered loss or damage to a laptop of similar device in a security screening? Have you changed how you travel since 9/11? Let's pool our experiences and knowledge: Join in the discussion!
About the Author(s)
You May Also Like