No way around it — the new rules of travel are enough to try anyone's patience. As if the check-in lines weren't already enough of a hassle, now they're even longer, with 90 percent of passengers checking bags on some flights. Sure, you could carry on, especially now that those overhead bins are going empty these days, but as anyone who's flown since August 10 can attest, the sweeping new bans on liquid products in carry-on luggage requires some serious planning or some serious sacrifices (who wants to travel without toothpaste?). The rules are here for the foreseeable future, but there are ways to make traveling less of a hassle. Here are a few:
• Buy your way into an airport club lounge.
These are the closed doors you've probably walked by on your way to the gate, first-class clubs reserved for elite frequent fliers or members who pay hundreds of dollars a year for access. But many airlines have started selling day passes to regular travelers. For $40 or $50, you can spend your time between flights in a cushy oasis complete with comfy sofas, workstations with high-speed Internet access, refreshments and sometimes even fitness facilities and showers. Some Delta clubs even have putting greens!
• Consider shipping your luggage.
It sounds like a big hassle, but so is checking your bags along with everyone else, or the alternative, planning a toiletry-free trip. A cottage industry of baggage-delivery services has arisen to help, firms with names like Luggage Concierge, Luggage Forward, Luggage Free and Virtual Bellhop, that will pick up your bags at your home or office and deliver them to your hotel. You'll pay for the service overnight service runs a few hundred dollars — but ship a few days ahead and you can cut that almost in half.
• Learn to love the hotel shampoo.
Many lodging chains, including Hilton, Marriott, Holiday Inn and Wyndham, have stepped up to provide guests with all the things they cant bring on the plane, offering free toiletry bags with shampoo, toothpaste, hair spray and shaving gels. Others provide maps to nearby pharmacies. And perhaps it's not surprising that at least one enterprising new company has emerged to serve this niche need specifically: Mywetstuff.com, which officially opened for business last week as the first entrant in the personalized water-based travel amenities market, sells trial-sized toiletries and delivers them to the hotel of your choosing ahead of your arrival.
Leigh Gallagher is a senior writer for SmartMoney magazine and a regular contributor to "Cavuto on Business."