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Be ready to go on a moment's notice

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  • Have separate bags on hand for carry-on and stowaway toiletries
  • Get to know the secrets of your home airport
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By Larry Smith
CNN
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Editor's note: Larry Smith is a sports anchor for CNN Headline News. He frequently travels to cover major sporting events around the United States and the world.

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Save hassles at the airport by parking your car in a short-term lot as you check your bags, Smith says.

(CNN) -- My 2008 calendar could put me on the road for 90 days.

From the BCS Championship in New Orleans, Louisiana, to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China; from the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, to the U.S. Open in San Diego, California, travel is a part of my everyday life. Add in those unexpected trips -- like a day on Capitol Hill for the Roger Clemens hearings -- and you'll understand if I forget whether I'm coming or going!

But I wouldn't trade my job for anything, so I've found ways to make the travel process easier, regardless of where I'm going, how soon I need to leave, or what I have to do to get there.

Prepack toiletry bags
Spend a few extra bucks to put together separate sets of toiletries. It's a major time-saver. I keep two of these on hand: One is compliant with Transportation Security Administration carry-on standards so I can bring it for quick overnight trips. The second, which is for longer trips, is larger and goes in my checked baggage.

Keep a technology toolkit
A universal power adapter is a must-have for the frequent traveler. I store that with my iPod speakers in a lined golf shoe bag, which lays flat, fits in most luggage, and keeps me from scrambling at the last minute to find my cell phone charger. A small umbrella usually fits in the bag, too.

Stay simple with style
Whether I'm covering a golf match, a basketball game, or a court hearing, my casual clothes stay the same. I keep jeans and a couple of shirts off to the side, as well as a suit and tie. I'll pick colors to go with only two pairs of shoes -- one work and one casual. Why pack a pair of shoes to wear only once? Efficiency is key.

Get to know your home airport
I'm at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport so often that many of the airline crew and TSA agents know me by name. Some delays are unavoidable, but even at the world's busiest airport, I've learned a couple of timesaving secrets.

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For example, Delta's two enclosed lower-level check-in counters at Hartsfield-Jackson have very little traffic, making for one of the quickest places to check in at the airport.

Upon arriving, I park my car in a short-term lot and quickly check my bags before moving my car to a long-term lot. My luggage is ready early to be taken to the plane while I'm parking, and I can go straight to security without any further delays.

Store a travel account file on your mobile device
I have every airline, car rental, and hotel club account number and phone number in a single file on my PDA. This eliminates the need to search through my wallet or shoulder bag at the ticket or rental counter.

Have cash handy
I keep a few dollars in my carry-on bag, just in case I can't get to an ATM until sometime later. I'm covered if I need to buy food or drinks, or tip a cab driver or bellman.

I got caught without cash when arriving in Detroit, Michigan, for the Ryder Cup in 2004. The driver -- who didn't accept credit cards -- had to wait at the hotel for his tip while I hunted down an ATM. I vowed to never let that happen again.

All About Air TravelBusiness TravelTravel and TourismTransportation Security Administration

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