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Langa Letter: Traveling With Laptops In The Post-9/11 World

Fred Langa offers 10 tips for speeding your electronic gear safely through even the most rigorous security searches.
There are other options, too, such as www.trackitcorp.com. In fact, you can find tons of laptop security ideas online.

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:

Travel tips:
Free Travel Tips.com
AirSafe.com

Civil Aviation Security Passenger FAQ:
cas.faa.gov/faq.html

FAA Guide To Safer Air Travel:
Fly Smart

FAA Public Affairs:
www.faa.gov/apa/index.cfm

Flight Safety Information:
www.fsinfo.org/

National Aviation Safety Data Analysis Center:
nasdac.faa.gov/

Office Of Airline Information:
www.bts.gov/programs/oai/

Carry-ons allowed and disallowed
AirSafe.com
Department of Transportation
cas.faa.gov/these.html

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!


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Fred Langa's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Fred Langa, please visit his page on the Listening Post.