Air travel is quite different than when I was a child. I remember going into the pilot area and watching them fly. Or family members waiting at the gate as we got off the plane to greet us. Or getting full meals during the flight! Times are sure different!

These days we must get to the airport at least 2 hours early, navigate through security, make sure we have nothing in our pockets, no water bottles tucked in our bags, shoes, and socks off…and on and on. It can be stressful. However, with a little knowledge and preparation, it can be a MUCH smoother and less stressful event.

As you well know the TSA is designed to keep us safe on flights. In order to do that they have put in place certain requirements that will do that. Some of the requirements are obvious. No, ma’am, you may not bring that Samurai Sword on the plane. Excuse me, sir, that defunct hand grenade may not be brought on either. (Seriously! These are some of the items that people try to bring on board. For more amazing items check out the official TSA Instagram account. They have a great sense of humor and I am always amazed at how odd people can be!)

Other requirements can get you pulled over and become subjected to additional screenings. Let’s go over a few of them!


The item that I think most people stumble on is liquids. TSA has a 3-1-1 liquid rule. You may carry containers no larger than 3.4 oz (100ml) that all fit into a 1-quart bag, 1 bag per person. 3-1-1. Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, creams, gels, etc. all fall under the 3-1-1 rule. These must be taken out of your carry-on luggage and put into the bins (in your quart bag) by themselves to be x-rayed.

What this also means is that you may not bring that Starbucks Latte you just purchased through security nor that bottle of water that you brought from home, so you wouldn’t have to pay $5 for a tiny bottle. Sorry! (Yes, we even get pulled over occasionally for forgetting that coffee in the to-go mug in our backpack.)

Items that can be excluded from this would be mediations and infant/child nutrients. Think formula or baby food. Mediations must be in original packaging and they will all be subject to further inspections.

Over the years I have found quite a few neat tricks for following this 3-1-1 liquid rule. Whenever I travel I keep the mini toothpaste, shampoos, conditioners and such that the hotels offer. I will pack them in my checked luggage on the way home. When I travel again I have just the right size for my next vacation. I always keep my eye open for any sample sizes of items I might use like sunscreen, makeup or even contact solution. They are ideal for my travel quart bag. Sometimes I find items such as bar shampoo that I don’t need to consider as a liquid!

X-ray Screening of Carry On Bags

The next item that gets the most stress is having your carry-on luggage x-rayed. Currently, any electronic item that is bigger than a cell phone – laptops, kindles, iPads, etc. – must be taken out of your carry on and placed in its own bin to go through security.

When packing your carry on, the more organized you can make it the better. Having a wild mess of cords in your bag is a good way to get pulled over.

If you are bringing presents on your trip, avoid wrapping them as they might get pulled out for extra inspections and then unwrapped.

A new rule is that any powder-like substances (baby powder, makeup, GoldBond, etc.) over 12 oz. / 350 mL be placed in your checked bags. Powders in carry-on baggage may require secondary screening, and powders that cannot be resolved by security officials will be prohibited from the cabin of the aircraft.

People Screening

When you are required to go through security – unless you have TSA Pre-Check- you will be required to remove your phone, shoes, jacket, belt and as I have often found out all 13 of your silver bangles! If you are going through the newer machines you will be required to remove all things from your pockets, including tissues, boarding passes or keys. If you do forget something and there is an alert they will help you figure out what it is or scan you with a wand. I like to prepare before I get into the security line and make sure all my things are off and put away. I try not to wear big belts and make sure my bangles are tucked away before I enter the line.

Children and TSA

Going through security with children can be a little stressful. What I have found was with a little preparation it can be super easy!

Children who can walk will be required to go through the screening by themselves. I try to have an adult go first and then another one after so there is an adult on each side. I make sure that the child has as little metal on their clothing as possible. They have shoes that are easy to get on and off. I make sure to tell them that going through the scanner is not painful and they won’t feel anything. I let them know that there might be a beep. If there is, there is a little wand that the people might take out and wave over them to see if they have any metal. I make sure to let them know everything will be fine and keep my attitude easy and calm.

I always do an extra check of their carry-on luggage to make sure there are no issues when their bag is scanned. It isn’t perfect, sometimes we have been pulled aside when an apple and a big metal Disney button looked like a snow globe on the x-ray machine.

Helping my children know what the rules are and what to expect makes it generally go smoothly.

If you travel several times a year all the hassle of removing shoes, jackets, computers and such is too much for you I would highly recommend sighing up for TSA Precheck.
My family signed up last year and it has been fantastic!

Rules for TSA are constantly changing. I always recommend checking before you fly to become aware of any changes.

If you’re ready to plan your next great adventure, I’d love to help you get there. You can contact me today by clicking here.

Happy Travels!
~ Carol