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Marilyn's Travel Tips

Airport Security: Make It Easy

Shuffling through airport security lines is a tedious process, and it can be a lot worse than merely tedious. You could lose valuable possessions by leaving them behind in your haste to get to the gate, or be stopped for hand inspection and possibly miss your flight. A few tips to get you through faster and more smoothly:

Liquids: All your carry-on liquids (lotion, cream, shampoo) must be in bottles no bigger than 3.4 ounces, and they all must fit in one quart-size clear zip-top bag. (Some airports give away plastic ziplocks, others charge for them; but you, the smart traveler, will think ahead and pack your own in advance.) You can buy tiny travel-size bottles, but it is cheaper and more eco-friendly to transfer liquids from large bottles into smaller, reusable ones than to buy new every time. Even toothpaste must be in a small tube, not a rolled-up large one. Exceptions are medications, baby formula, and breast milk.

Duty-free Liquids: If you have to go through security lines twice, as you sometimes do when flying internationally, pack any oversize liquids (such as those lovely bottles of rum you bought in the duty-free shop) in your checked baggage. Otherwise they will likely be confiscated.

Definite no-nos: Some forbidden items are obvious: guns, gasoline, explosives, swords. Others are less so: scissors with blades longer than 4 inches are not allowed, but less than 4-inch blades are okay. So are screwdrivers and wrenches 7 inches or under. No bats, ski poles, or golf clubs. No snow globes. Find more particulars at

Wearables and Valuables: Wear loafers or other shoes that are easy to slip off and on. (Socks advised.) Put them directly on the conveyor belt, not in a bin. Don’t wear a metal-buckle belt if you can avoid it. Do not place your watch, jewelry, cell phone, or coins loose in a bin, making them easy objects for someone else to grab. Instead, put them in a pocket of your carry-on bag or purse while they go through the screening and then retrieve them.

Laptops: Avoid having to remove your laptop computer from its case by using one that can go through the line intact. These are the requirements:
The case must have a laptop-only section that can lie flat on the x-ray belt
No metal snaps, zippers or buckles in the laptop-only section
No pockets in the laptop-only section
Nothing but the laptop in its own compartment
The case can be unfolded and lie flat on the x-ray belt
Consumer Reports recommends these as checkpoint-friendly: Aerovation Checkpoint-Friendly, BuiltNY Sleeve, Skooba Skins, and Targus Zip-Thru Corporate Traveler. They range from $20 to $130.
Memory alert! Laptops are easy to lose or leave behind. Be sure to ID yours with a pasted label, tag, or whatever works.

Sharp Objects: If you are carrying an item that is permitted but sharp and your bag is hand-inspected, warn the inspectors. It’s best not to start a trip by injuring a security inspector with a sharp object.

Wrapped Gifts: Don’t bother with all the pretty wrapping. You may well be told to unwrap the gifts for inspection. Save the paper and bows for later.

Find the Fast Line. When you get to the security lines, you might see signs for Expert, Casual, and Family. Many U.S. airports now have these options, and if you know the drill and don’t need extra time, you qualify as an Expert. Another way to spot a faster, shorter line is to turn toward the left. Most people tend to turn right.

Teamwork: If you are traveling with another adult, agree to have one person wait while the first goes through the detector and gets to your belongings. This helps protect your stuff from theft or someone else accidentally taking it.

Look Around: Finally, after you have quickly stepped into your shoes and grabbed your bag, take a last check before you dash to the gate. It is all too easy to leave an item in a bin. Pick up all your things, take a deep breath, and enjoy the flight.

Copyright Marilyn McFarlane


Jet lag (travel disrhythmia) makes you tired and cranky and lowers your immune system. Try these ideas and you'll be less bothered.

- Get a good rest before your flight.
- The day before flying, eat a high-protein meal at your destination's breakfast time, and a high-carb meal at dinner time. Do the same on the plane.
- Set your watch to the time at your destination as soon as you get on the plane.
- Do stretching exercises and walk around the cabin during the flight.
- Drink water, at least a cup an hour. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Sleep, or keep your eyes closed, during the flight as much as you can.
- Melatonin pills help some people; check with your doctor.
- With your doctor's permission, try No-Jet-Lag, homeopathic tablets to be chewed every two hours.
- When you arrive at your destination, soak in a bath to help rehydrate your body.
- Focus on where you are and don't think about what time it is back home.

Happy, Healthy Travels!