If you don’t travel a whole lot, you may be kind of behind the 8 ball when it comes to preparing for travel. You may not be sure of things to bring (or not bring) with you, how to find out what the weather is going to be, how to get around those pesky pre-programmed digital thermostats in hotels, etc.
Probably the most important thing is to make sure you get through the security checkpoint without a hitch. Hitches make for delays and delays put you at risk for, if not missing your flight, almost missing it, and undoubtedly some anxiousness about it. Here are some things to take into consideration:
Watch your stuff
Unfortunately, theft happens everywhere, including the security checkpoint. If your stuff is stolen, you’re going to be delayed due to talking to airport security and possibly the police, filling out forms etc. Click here to learn various ways to stop your belongings from being stolen while you’re on line to go through the X-ray machine.
Wrapping your carry-on bags in plastic wrap
In recent years, especially with your not being allowed to use locks (except TSA approved ones) on your luggage, some airports offer plastic wrap that you can wrap around your luggage to help keep it more secure. That’s fine for checked luggage, but don’t use it for your carry-on bags. Security agents may need to get into your bags and it could take an inordinate amount of time for them to cut through the multiple layers of plastic.
Flying abroad with kids
The U.S. Embassy has several recommendations for people traveling with children, specifically if the kids are not their own, or if it’s one parent with the child. Not having the proper paperwork could cause delays
Careful about liquids
Most people, even if they don’t fly often, know about the 3-1-1 rule for liquids (You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint. These are limited to 3.4 ounces [100 milliliters] or less per item).
Heads up that unless it’s very small and fits into your quart-sized bag, snow globes are not allowed in your carry-on bag. However the time it takes for the TSA security person to find the snow globe and unwrap it (especially if it’s wrapped well) could cut into the time until you can get to your plane.
Also, don’t do what I did with a liquid in my bag that I forgot about (the search took way longer than was comfortable).
Know how long your wait at the security checkpoint will be
Your wait on the security checkpoint queue could be 5 minutes or it could be an hour and 5 minutes, depending on circumstances. If you’re flying out of a U.S. airport, the MyTSA app is said to give accurate wait times so you know how long you’re going to be stuck in line.
Keep in mind that there might be a slowdown at the checkpoint right now, due to a new TSA policy.
Of course, if you have Pre-Check or Global Entry (which includes Pre-Check), your wait will be significantly shorter. This post discusses which might be best for you, and this post goes into which credit cards will pay for your Global Entry or PreCheck. And did you know, you don’t even need to be a U.S. citizen to get Global Entry!
You could get pulled for secondary screening
If you have this on your boarding pass, it’s going to delay you. You’re also going to experience a delay if you are chosen to be swabbed. Here’s why they swab people, and this post explains how to avoid getting a false positive on a swab test, which will delay you even longer.
Give yourself more than enough time
This should be a given, but make sure to give yourself more than enough time. Arriving at the airport 30 minutes before your plane starts loading may give you extra time to pack (or sleep), but when there are so many circumstances that could potentially delay you (hello, even traffic at the airport!), it’s probably better to plan ahead and give yourself more than enough time.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary