With the summer travel season about to hit full force — although why anyone leaves Minnesota this time of year is a mystery — it’s time for some expert advice.
I ran into the founder & CEO of ThriftyTraveler.com, Jared Kamrowski, at Fox 9 recently. “We have 80,000 followers on Facebook,” said Kamrowski, who shared a letter code that, when written on your boarding pass, could be translated: Get ready for a TSA style colonoscopy.
Q: How do you avoid overpacking?
A: I wrote an article about this last week. Always do carry-on only. I always bring one to two pairs of shoes. I always bring sandals. Let’s say you are in an Airbnb and you are going to be walking around but you don’t want to be wearing shoes. For a long trip, try to find an Airbnb that has laundry. You can pack super light.
Q: What has to be in your luggage?
A: My laptop comes with me everywhere. I don’t pack any different than anyone else other than a laptop and a drone everywhere I go.
Q: How much do you get hassled by TSA agents?
A: For sure, you need TSA PreCheck. To get through the line you don’t have to take your shoes off, don’t have to take your laptop or drone out. If you are an international traveler, for sure get Global Entry, which includes TSA PreCheck. It’s expedited customs re-entry so you don’t have to stand in line or talk to anybody. You go to a kiosk and get through in usually less than five minutes.
Q: I always freak out a little when somebody tries to help me with my luggage because TSA tests my hands and luggage to see if I have handled explosive materials. Suppose somebody touches my luggage who’s got gunpowder residue or explosives on their hands. Don’t I get flagged?
A: Sure. Well, you’d have a reasonable explanation, but I think you’d have to have a lot of residue on your hands. I don’t know. It’s probably better off safe.
Q: And black women have been involved so many terrorist attacks.
A: [Big laugh]. Yes. Definitely the primary source of terrorism in the U.S. No, no. Sometimes you get on your boarding pass triple S, which means you have to be screened several times.
Q: Have you ever been searched so thoroughly that you thought they should buy you a drink?
A: [Big laugh] In Hong Kong one time, they took apart everything in my bag. Yeah. They got a little handsy on me. I didn’t enjoy it that time.
Q: When was the last time you saw somebody being rude to a flight attendant?
A: I haven’t seen anybody being exceptionally rude to a flight attendant. But last year I was at MSP when Delta had their IT meltdown and all the flights were grounded, and there was some guy screaming at one of the gate agents. She’s like Sir if you don’t stop I’m going to have to call the police and he was like Call the police! He was arrested. We need to just bring things down. This gate agent can’t help that Delta’s IT melted.
Q: Is your wife able to be as minimalist a packer as you are?
A: She is. I think she taught me a little about that.
Q: Where are the cheap countries?
A: Bogota, Columbia, all of South America, once you get there, is pretty cheap. But flights to South America, there is not very much competition so it is a little bit more expensive. Easy to get to places, for sure Mexico. Obviously, there are some issues with violence.
Q: You don’t worry about your personal safety when you go to these countries?
A: I never have. I’ll be honest walking around the streets to Minneapolis, Chicago is probably just as dangerous as going to Mexico. There is not [much]violence against tourists in Mexico. It might happen outside the cities, which is a scary thought but for the most part the violence against Americans is almost is nonexistent, if you look at the statistics.
Q: Where haven’t you been in the USA that is on your list?
A: The sad thing is that I have traveled more internationally. There are so many places in the U.S. I haven’t been.
C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.