Tsa Survival Guide

Top TSA survival tips to keep your travel stress free.

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• Travel: Flying • Travel: Tips & Tricks

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Traveling can be an exciting experience, but most people become filled with dread once they start thinking about going through airport security. The thought of virtual strip searches or pat downs triggered by unintentional violations of complex and constantly changing rules is enough to make even seasoned travelers worry. While you can't be 100% certain you'll avoid secondary screening, you can prepare ahead to avoid drawing extra attention to yourself and making the process as hassle free as possible.

Stick With 3.4 Ounces Of Liquid


Liquids over 3.4 ounces cannot be in carry-on bags. The TSA's definition of liquids is incredibly broad, and it includes sauces and similar food items, hair gels, toothpaste, and perfumes. All of your carry-on liquids must be in individual containers of the appropriate size -- the package size is used even if the container is almost empty -- and all must fit into a single one quart, clear ziplock bag. To avoid problems at security, take care of this when you are packing. You can even purchase travel-sized toiletries at most convenience stores to help make sure nothing in your bags violates the rules. Or, considering purchasing your liquid items once you arrive at your destination.

Pick the Right Clothing


Before you head to the airport, make sure your clothing makes it easy to get through security. Avoid clothing with metal on it. Belt buckles, studded materials, and even zippers can trigger the metal detector and cause a headache at the security checkpoint. Make sure your shoes can easily be slipped on and off. Most airport security policies require all passengers to take their shoes off for inspection, so easily removed shoes will get you through the gate faster. Before you hit the road, clean out your pockets as well to avoid any holdups for change and miscellaneous junk.

Leave Gifts Unwrapped


While it might seem like a time saver to wrap holiday gifts or birthday presents before stepping in the airport, it can cause a serious delay at the security gate. TSA agents will often ask to inspect such packages, which means unwrapping the gift anyway. You can carry on packages, but they should be unwrapped and easily opened for inspection.

Use Approved Bags


If you must carry a laptop or other electronics, consider using a TSA-approved laptop bag. Butterfly style bags (bags that unzip and fold flat) and sleeve style bags allow you to keep your electronics in the bag as they are easiest for TSA agents to inspect. Tripod style bags are also on the approved list. Using one of these styles will get you and your electronics through security much faster.

Travel During A Lull


If you are looking to get through security quickly, sometimes the best thing you can do is fly at a non-peak time. Tuesday and Wednesdays, except if it is the day before a major holiday, are generally quiet at most airports. If you have to fly on a peak day, like the day before a holiday or the weekend, be patient, and get to the airport extra early. Getting aggravated will likely end up getting you flagged by TSA agents.

While traveling can be stressful, if you follow these basic TSA rules, you'll be able to get in and out of the airport and through security without a problem. Do take note that TSA rules are constantly changing for the safety of all travelers, so always check with the TSA website directly before you depart for your trip.
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