1. Identify yourself
Getting on a plane? Not without an ID, you aren’t. Leaving the country? Certainly not without a passport. Do yourself a favor and double, even triple check that you have your ID and/or passport on you before you leave the house. Make it even easier on yourself by having said ID in a pocket or wallet that is easily reachable and not buried in your bag. There is nothing worse than the mild panic attack that sets in when you’re approaching security and can’t find your pass to leave.
2. Get your boarding pass at home
Dodge the check-in line at the airport by checking in online to get your boarding pass at home! Nowadays, most airlines have the option to send a mobile pass to your phone, meaning you don’t even need to find one of those ancient things called a printer. But, you do gotta make sure your phone is full of juice! You don’t want to let it die while you’re in the middle of the line.
Just a note, this is not true for most international flights. Usually they want to check your passport and such. You know, to make sure you didn’t have your friend’s older brother’s neighbor create a fake one for you.
3. Pick shoes without laces
Unless you’ve paid for TSA pre-check, or you’re really old, you’re going to have to take your shoes off to go through security – so, save those lace up kicks for another day and opt for something easier to slip in to. For all the germophobes out there: unless you’re cool with walking through the metal detector barefoot, you might want to wear shoes that don’t have laces but still accommodate socks.
4. Wear clothes without belt loops
Or just don’t wear a belt. Sweats, dresses, maybe pants that actually fit, whatever. You’ll also be asked to take it off when you reach the metal detector so nix some of the hassle and put on some garb sans the belt. Besides, they’re uncomfortable while sitting on a plane, anyway.
5. Carry it on
There are certain restrictions when flying budget airlines but, for most part, each ticketed passenger is allowed one carry-on (think, small suitcase or duffle bag) and one personal item (purse, backpack, or briefcase) on any regular flight. You may need to work on your packing skills, but if you can manage to fit everything you need in to your carry-on allowance you get to skip bag drop at your departure airport and baggage claim at the arrival one. Which, my friends, could take ages!
6. Bring a reusable water bottle
If you buy a water bottle before security, you might find yourself holding up the line while you try to chug what’s left of it. Or, they’ll just make you throw it away (excuse me, you paid for that water!) and buy another one on the other side. To avoid pissing off the people behind you and to save yourself a buck, bring your own reusable water bottle. Just make sure it’s empty! You can find a place to refill once you’re through.
7. Know your liquids
Que the bitch fit that will undoubtedly occur when the nice TSA lady says your body lotion is too big or you have too many mini vodka bottles in your bag. Yes, whatever it may be, will be confiscated if it’s too large and no, they do not care if it was christened by the Pope. If it’s more than 3 ounces or can’t all fit into a 1 quart baggie, don’t try to stuff it in the hidden pocket of your carry-on – put it in your checked bag or leave it at home.
8. Check your tech
If you are going to check a bag, you might want to put your large tech items in there. Tablets, laptops, DVD players, etc. all need to come out of your bags and in their own plastic tub when going through security. If you’re traveling light with just a carry-on, or need your beloved iPad to get through the flight alive, just make sure it’s on top so you don’t have to dig to the bottom of your bag when you finally reach the front of the line.
If you’re going to ignore (or selectively forget) the points above, make sure you use the time while standing in the security line to ready yourself. After all your huffing and puffing, you best be ready when it’s finally your turn! Take off your belt, untie your shoes, pull out your lap top, suck down your water… yada, yada, yada. Put all of these items in your carry on, instead of loose in the bin, so that you can grab it and go as soon as you’re through rather than fumbling around trying to get everything back together and holding up the line!
Dear Future Self, you’ll be glad you did
Sharing travel tips, tricks, and bucket list ticks
20 countries and counting