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  • Writer's pictureDonna Zabel

Tips to Help You Navigate Airport Security

Tips to Help You Navigate TSA Security

You know that feeling at TSA security checkpoints—frustration with the person holding up the line, or embarrassment being the one chastised. It happens to all of us. So how to know what will pass carryon inspection?

First, the liquids. Of course, you know the three-ounce rule. Sample bottle of everything from shampoo to mouthwash. But be careful about the bag. Leave your pretty zippered holder at home—you must use a generic quart-size zip-lock baggie, or you may be repacking everything while the plane is boarding. And remember to trash that water bottle from your previous flight if your transfer involves a security check.

Second, metal. Anything metal will show up on the scanners, and the examiners can be creative deciding which are suspicious items that must be confiscated. So far, I’ve lost a small nail file, a partly plastic corkscrew, and one of those tiny sewing kits the hotels used to provide—the ones with a plastic scissors that wouldn’t even cut the included thread. If you need scissors, look for one with rounded tips. They will be examined but returned.

Third, jewelry. Pack what you want but be careful what you wear. Gold and plastic aren’t a problem, but lots of silver or metal alloys dangling on around your neck or arms will have you lighting up the flashing lights.

Even your travel wardrobe can make the difference between breezing through security and disrobing in public. There are belts made complete of plastic—no more worries your pants will fall down in the screening booth. Wear rubber soled shoes—leave the fashionable boots with metal buckles at home or in your checked luggage. Check pockets. I love clothes with lots of pockets, but metal zippers are a problem, and it is easy to forget that Kleenex or car key that will have you going back though security.

Do remember to bring a patient attitude, and if possible, a sense of humor. I know it’s difficult, but then I think of the visibly terrified young woman in Amsterdam gingerly opening the case holding my electric toothbrush, or the fellow in Prague mystified by my four-inch oval black Travis translator until I gave him a demonstration, I remember they are trying to keep us safe. Because we all just want to travel safely.



Donna Zabel, owner of DreamMaker Destinations

Donna Zabel, owner of DreamMaker Destinations, has been helping travelers turn their travel dreams into travel reality for over 20 years. Having explored all seven continents and over 135 countries, she enjoys sharing her travel tales and encourages everyone to find their own story to tell.

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