The Savvy Traveler: What’s in my wallet?

The savvy traveler empties her purse of all unnecessary credit and department store cards but DOESN’T lose her drivers license before going through security.

On a recent trip from Denver to Boston, *I* was THAT savvy traveler. I travel a lot. With people who are also savvy travelers. I carefully packed everything I could possibly need(1). I carefully moved only the most essential items to my “travel purse(2).” The thinking is why take that Costco card when I’m not GOING to Costco on this business trip. Or any other card when I really don’t want to lose it and have to try and figure out how to replace it.

For a domestic trip, all you need for a picture ID is your driver’s license, so that is all I had. When traveling internationally I bring my passport, plus many copies of my passport strewn throughout my purse, luggage and laptop bag–just in case. I also bring my driver’s license because I need it to, well, DRIVE to the airport. But for domestic travel, having efficiently unpacked my travel purse, just the driver’s license.

I got to the airport in plenty of time, making sure I had no pressure that might tempt me to speed(3), and cleverly took out my preprinted (at home) boarding pass and my drivers license in preparation for a quick trip through security via the premier passenger line (told you I traveled a lot). But then…I saw the travel gadget store I’ve always been interested in but never taken the time to stop into…just before security. Since I was so early, I popped over there and browsed and found some awesome cool travel gadgets I felt I must buy and so I did. But when I picked up my boarding pass from the counter…there was NO DRIVERS LICENSE to be seen.

I immediately searched my person, my purse, my surroundings…repeatedly..zip zero nada zilch. Then to the airport information counter where they could call lost and found…ditto. Panic and sweat. They wont let you through security without a picture ID and my home and passport were a 140 mile roundtrip away and my flight in less than two hours. But I was advised to go through security line anyway and ask the nice TSA people if anyone had turned it in there. Amazingly the line monitor let me in so I could talk to TSA. The nice TSA lady called over a nice TSA guy. No, no one had turned in the license but if I could just step over here…. At a nice little desk they asked me repeatedly if I had ANY other picture ID with me…a Costco card, a student ID, a work ID…nope nothing says I–little Miss Efficiency. So they had me fill out an affidavit swearing who I was and where I lived. They called someone–who? I don’t know–the FBI, Homeland Security? They answered a lot of questions about how no, I really didn’t have any other form of picture ID (they weren’t impressed with my credit cards, insurance cards, or business cards. They asked for the last four digits of….my home phone number. That surprised me. They asked if I’d lived at any other addresses in my current neighborhood. I had! And I remembered the address, amazingly. And…eventually they stamped my boarding pass and let me in. I did not know they could do that.

Although they explained that I could get on the plane coming back the same way, luckily Mr. savvy traveler was joining me later in the week and I called home sheepishly to ask if he would bring my passport. I wonder if I had had my photocopy of my passport if it would have worked as an alternate picture ID? Repeated called to the airport lost and found yielded no joy, but midway through my trip, my husband called me to tell me the airport had called and they had found my license. I never learned where but…HOORAY! I was told I could pick it on my return trip. The return flight arrived after the normal business hours of the lost and found department but I arranged to call the people on duty and have them come down and hand it to me after a small wait. Thanks much to whoever found it and turned it in and to the lost and found folks and other airport personnel who rescued me.

Of course this did put a bite into my model of efficiency, carry-on bag only, everything arranged in advance savvy travelerness. But then that stuff never seems to be without its Murphy’s Law moments. About which, more later.

1) The myth of packing perfectly is one that falls apart easily. I can, and may, chronicle things I forgot to pack and things I packed but did not use.  But a savvy traveler’s grasp should exceed their reach, or that’s what check-in is for.

2) Travel purse is a black vertical microfiber security purse kind of like this one at Magellan’s. Slings over body under a jacket and masquerades as NOT a third item besides my rolling luggage and laptop backpack.

3) Thanks police guys for ticketing me for speeding because the speed limit drops abruptly from 65 to 35 just before parking and yes, I was a bit rushed to make my flight. This has made my life hell since my travel schedule has prevented me from appearing in court….argh!

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