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Know the TSA Holiday Travel Rules

The Transportation Security Administration controls our ability to get on a plane. Plain and simple. There is no creative way "around" a security screening, and honestly, you should not be trying to find one. If you follow their lowest common denominator rules, air travel this holiday season does not have to be difficult or stressful.

1. Liquids of ALL varieties must fit in a one quart Ziploc bag, no exceptions.

If your aunt is a chocolate sauce nut and you HAVE to get her the three best, new sauce mixes from that cute little dessert shop down the street, ship them to her or pack them in your checked bags, because the TSA will not allow them through security. If it fits in your one quart bag and does not exceed three ounces, it can go. If it doesn't, it will end up in the trash. Same goes for salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cheese sauce, and champagne: if it drips, ship or pack it. Do not attempt to get it through the TSA checkpoint. And important to note - DO NOT WRAP GIFTS! If the TSA wants to check them out, they will open them for you.

2. Your shoes will come off.

If your favorite pair of shoes require five minutes of lacing, unlacing, buckling, stooping or stomping to get on, find yourself a nice pair of loafers to get through security and change your shoes before or after your flights. There is nothing more ridiculous than the person in the lace ups that take 10 minutes to tie. If you cannot stand the thought of your pristine socks getting marred by the "what's on this floor?" feeling, wear two pairs of socks and immediately take the outer pair off once you're through security and back in your controllable world. Take your shoes off, place them in a bin with your coat, and put the whole shebang on the belt. If your shoes are sturdier, they can go on the belt by themselves. There are some airports that tell you to put your shoes directly on the belt, but they are not prevalent. Look up the line at what the passengers before you are doing and copy it.

3. Your scarves, coats and other outerwear go in a bin.

Do not wear layer upon layer of cute sweatshirts. All of it comes off. Don't expect that just because you spent hours figuring out exactly which layer goes where and which collar layers nicely over the outside of your vest that you'll get to keep any of it on. Dress simply. Leave all your layers of jewelry in your carry-on and dress up AFTER security.

4. Empty your pockets of EVERYTHING

If you're the type of person to stash random things in your pockets, give them a once-over before the lines and put anything extraneous in your carry-on. And if you're asked to go through a body scanner, know that things in your pockets will basically become visible.

5. Be courteous.

If you refuse to walk through the screening device provided to you, you are choosing to receive a personal TSA experience. If you do not remove everything from your pockets, have items that exceed the three ounce rule or don't fit into your ziploc bag, you are choosing to receive personal scrutiny. The agent standing in front of you with the gloves on and the wand is no more thrilled at the prospect of having to pat you down than you are at the thought of receiving a pat down. They have a job to do. As the TSA.gov site itself says, "Our security officers are working to keep bombs off of airplanes. Please follow their directions."

Safe Travels.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Christine Wilcox. All rights reserved.
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