Packing Tips

What Is Your Best Holiday Travel Tip?

Posted in Family Travel, Packing Tips, Travel, Travel Tips on April 18th, 2021 by – Be the first to comment

How do you manage all the details throughout the holiday and travel?  Share your best ideas.  Here are some helpful tips to get you through this busy month.

Managing the Gifts

Because you cannot bring wrapped presents on a plane (and they’d get wrinkled or torn anyway), I pack cloth bags to put gifts in, such as velvet bags from fabric stores or a fun purse I may find on sale. It’s easy to “wrap” the presents once I arrive, and the bag is a bonus gift. It also helps the environment a little by eliminating discarded wrapping paper.

Carrie Cihasky
St. Francis, Wisconsin

To travel light and save money when visiting my family in Germany for the holidays, I purchase gifts through the German branch of Amazon.com and have them sent to the home where we celebrate, thus saving international shipping charges.

Katharina Wilkins
Weston, Massachusetts

Traveling With Children

A few tips for traveling with young children on a long flight: (1) Check in early and request front-row seats. You’ll be less frazzled because Junior isn’t kicking the seat in front of him for 10 hours, and the nearby crew seat is needed only for takeoff and landing, so you can get some extra space. (2) Bring along little gifts: mini coloring books and crayons, to make your kids happy and relieve boredom; chewable candies to prevent earache and tears on landing; and a spare set of clothes for each child, plus a fresh T-shirt for yourself. (3) If you have a baby or a toddler, take your umbrella stroller with you on the plane. The crew will store it during the flight, and customs and luggage checks are much less stressful when your hands are free.

Emma Fashokun
Houston, Texas

When I traveled overseas with my 16-month-old daughter, I was inundated with equipment (car seat, stroller, diaper bag). To thank fellow travelers who helped me through the customs and immigration lines, I gave them gourmet chocolate bars―a great way to see smiles on your travels rather than scowls.
Holly Driggers
Austin, Texas

My husband and I make his-and-hers travel CDs with copies of our favorite holiday tunes. As we take turns playing them throughout the long road trip, it’s fun to see which songs the other has come up with.

Deanna Holt
Springfield, Illinois

For long drives, I bring holiday and thank-you cards, stamps, and my address book. During the drive, I write cards for those I am on my way to see. On the way home, I write thank-yous for gifts, dinners, or parties for the people we just left. That way, no one is forgotten and the details are fresh in my mind. Finally I stamp them, and they are in the car, ready to be taken to the post office.

Annesia Bixler
Dayton, Ohio

Getting Organized

Always take notes when making travel plans over the telephone: whom you spoke with, what was said (promises, rates, etc.). Should something go wrong, you will have the details in writing.

Lori Frank
Bethlehem, New Hampshire

I order fresh flowers or fruit to be delivered to the home I’m visiting on the day I arrive. It’s always a welcome hostess gift, and I don’t have to carry it.
Deb Fecher
Acton, Massachusetts

Packing Strategies

Pack your bags for your trip and then carry them around the block. It will inspire you to rethink what you packed and simplify.
Tracy Gillin
The Woodlands, Texas

When I travel, I keep my jewelry in a small fly-fishing box (with storage compartments) in my makeup bag. This keeps necklaces and earrings from getting tangled.
Shery Rogers
Grenada, Mississippi

I store a cosmetics bag with travel-size versions of everything I use every day in my suitcase. When I take a trip, I never have to worry about leaving the essentials behind.
Sandra Boemler
Atlanta, Georgia

When packing for a trip where I’ll be on the go a lot, I put together as many outfits as I need (including underwear and socks). I then place each outfit in a plastic grocery bag and put it in my suitcase. While on holiday, I take out a bag each morning and my outfit is ready to go―no fussing about what to wear or digging to the bottom of the bag to find something. At the end of the day, I turn the bag inside out and put the worn clothes in so I know which outfits are dirty.
Jessica Baldasaro
Stratford, Ontario

More Good Ideas

Be sure to get plenty of sleep during the holidays, especially in the days prior to traveling. It’s stressful packing up the family, battling the parking at the airport, and dealing with other travelers, and sleep is one way to keep your immune system healthy so you can thoroughly enjoy the holidays.
Heidi Heikkala
Everett, Washington

Traveling with toddlers is easier if you don’t have to rely on restaurants for three meals a day. When possible, book a room with a fridge, a microwave, and a coffeemaker, then stock the fridge with breakfast and lunch basics.
Jennifer Meacher
Almonte, Ontario

During hectic holiday travel, I make it a point to smile at my fellow travelers and help them with luggage and doors or dropped items. I also thank and extend a sincere “Happy Holidays” to the service workers who are away from their families and festivities while they help me get to where I want to be.
Susan van Allen
Orono, Maine

RealSimple readers share favorite tricks and strategies to make traveling easier.

Article by RealSimple

Should I Check My Bags or Ship Them?

Posted in Packing Tips, Travel, Travel Tips on April 17th, 2021 by – Be the first to comment

You probably assume that checking your luggage is the cheaper option, even though you’re stuck paying the airline about $25 for the first bag (each way) and $35 for the second, not to mention additional fees for heavy or large items. And sometimes it is. But not always, says Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today’s Traveler (Smart Travel Press, $20, amazon.com). So before you jet off, it’s worth doing the math. If your baggage is unusually heavy or bulky, shipping may be a better deal—provided that you don’t send your Samsonite overnight or by two-day mail, says Jami Counter, a senior director of Seatguru.com, a travel-resource site. Case in point: UPS can ship a 75-pound box from New York City to Orlando, Florida, for $57. Checking an item that heavy would probably cost between $100 and $175—one way. Get quotes from the two options that you have for shipping: a standard delivery or courier service, such as FedEx or DHL, or a specialty luggage handler—particularly useful for bulky items, like skis—such as Sports Express (sportsexpress.com).

You should also consider shipping your baggage if you want to hit the ground running at your destination (which means skipping the luggage carousel), or if you want to be assured that those bags will be waiting for you when you arrive, says Peter Greenberg, a travel editor for CBS News. “Shipping is an especially good idea if you have a connecting flight, which increases the risk that your bags will be misplaced,” says Greenberg. And delivery services offer far more bells and whistles than air carriers, says Counter, such as superior insurance, better tracking, and, best of all, picking up your luggage at your home. No schlepping!

Article by Vera Gibbons, Real Simple

How to Pack Anything

Posted in Packing Liquids, Packing Tips, Travel, Travel Tips, Uncategorized on June 25th, 2012 by – Be the first to comment

Smart strategies for stowing your belongings, from accessories to sleepwear.

Accessories (Earrings, Necklaces, Scarves)

  • Keep necklaces protected and kink-free “by threading them through drinking straws, then putting the filled straws in toothbrush holders,” says Anne McAlpin, author of Pack It Up.
  • Store earrings in a day-of-the-week pill container, or cut out a small cardboard square and punch them through.
  • Put all the jewelry you intend to wear with a certain outfit in a sandwich bag and pin it to one of the clothing items.
  • Toss silk scarves near the top of your bag to prevent them from getting crushed.

Belts

  • For narrow belts: Wind them into coils and place each one in a zipper-sealed bag. Put every bag in a shoe.
  • For larger versions: Fit them around the edges of your bag. Their size and width make them less likely to snake about.

Blouses, Shirts, Tees

  • Layer tissue paper or plastic dry-cleaning bags between garments to keep them smooth. (Clothes wrinkle when they rub against one another.)
  • Put nice items on top to keep weight off them.
  • Shirts and blouses will lose their shape if they’re rolled up, but rolling works well for T-shirts, which should go near the bottom of the bag.

Books

  • Because of their weight, books tend to shift to the bottom of a suitcase, near the wheels. To prevent them from dragging other items down, start by placing them there.

Bras

  • To help preserve their shape, stuff rolled underwear and socks in the cups and seal in a plastic bag. Tuck into the corners of the suitcase.

Dresses

  • If a dress is long enough, you can place it directly on top of your pants and “interfold” it (see Pants). Otherwise, keep it near the top―above heavier shirts and sweaters―and fold it as few times as possible.
  • Either way, slip it into a dry-cleaning or garment bag to prevent it from wrinkling.

Jeans

  • Because these are heavy, position them near the wheels, well below any delicate clothing.
  • Fold them at the waist, then in half, lengthwise. Or roll them, folding at the waist, then rolling upward from the bottom, stopping just below the belt line (because of the zipper and the pockets at the top, rolling jeans all the way adds unnecessary volume).

Medicines

  • Put all daily medications, as well as things like contact lenses and glasses, in your hand luggage. Keep prescription drugs in the original containers; the Transportation Security Administration requires you to have proof that they’re yours.

Liquids

  • Traveling with your favorite bottle of vino.  Pack safely with the BottleWise Rollup.  Its compact and take up little space in your luggage.  Best of all it protects from breaking or leaking.
  • You never leave home without your favorite lotion or makeup.  Be sure to protect your liquids with a Pitotube cosmetic case.

Pants

  • Pack at the very bottom of the suitcase, just above the layer that fills the three indentations made by the suitcase pulley (that layer can consist of underwear, workout clothes, and pajamas).
  • For the first pair, place the waistband against a narrow end of the suitcase and drape the legs over the opposite edge. Position the next pair’s waistband so that it touches the opposite short end of the suitcase. Continue alternating with all the pants, then put all the other items on top. Fold the pant legs over the pile of clothing. This “interfolding,” as packing experts call it, helps prevent trouser creases.

Outerwear

  • In the winter, carry on an oversize jacket or parka and bulk up with long-sleeved T-shirts, sweaters, and scarves. Packing a light jacket and several layers is more space-efficient than packing a heavy coat.
  • Place your jacket toward the bottom of the bag. Store gloves in your coat pockets.

Sleepwear

  • Chances are your pajamas are among the things you’ll need first, so put a set in the top layer.
  • Keep the rest at the bottom, filling in the indentations caused by the suitcase handle.

Article by Sara Reistad-Long, Real Simple

Incoming search terms:

Holiday travel: Airport survival guide

Posted in 3-1-1 Liquids Bans, Airline Fees, Airline Service Charges, Packing Tips, Travel, Travel Tips, TSA Regulations, TSA Restricted Items on August 12th, 2011 by – Be the first to comment

The crowds. The lines. The security and scanning. The sprint to the gate. All of it can overwhelm air travelers — especially during the holiday rush — but it doesn’t have to be that way.

And as security measures continue to ramp up, with pat-downs and new scans, navigating overbooked, overflowing airports just got a bit more dicey. We asked travel experts to provide tips to make the airport experience a smooth one, especially if you haven’t flown since last holiday season. But first, be aware that you’ll have lots of company in your quest to share a turkey dinner with relatives.

It’s estimated that 42.2 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving, according to AAA and IHS Global Insight. That’s an 11 percent increase from last year, when 37.9 million people traveled during the holiday. And about 24 million people will be crammed into airplanes, a 3.5 percent increase over last year, according to the Air Transport Association of America, which represents somHoliday Travele of the nation’s biggest airlines.

The busiest travel day is expected to be the Sunday after Thanksgiving, followed by the Monday after the holiday, the ATA said. The Friday before Thanksgiving week and the Wednesday before the holiday will be the other peak travel days.

The least busy travel day? The holiday itself: Thursday, November 25.

No matter what day you fly, here are five tips to survive the airport this holiday season.

1. Hit the web before you head for the airport

Let modern technology save you some hassles and maybe even some money. Check in online up to 24 hours before your flight is scheduled to leave, and print your boarding pass at home.

“This allows you to secure your seat assignment, double-check for any schedule changes … and decrease your chances of getting bumped if your flight is oversold,” said Genevieve Shaw Brown, senior editor at Travelocity.

New since the holidays last year: More carriers now allow you to check in from your smartphone and use a digital bar code on the screen to pass through the airport. If you’re using this option, save the bar code as a photo on your device, which will make it much easier to retrieve at security and at the gate, advised Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of TripAdvisor Flights.

If you’re checking bags, many airlines have raised their fees this year, but some offer discounts if you prepay during the online check-in. Delta, Continental and US Airways, for example, take $2 off the first bag and $3 off the second if you pay online when you check in for your flight on the carrier’s website.

“Know before you go,” Saltzburg said. “There are fees, and it’s important to educate yourself and be prepared and handle as much of the check-in process before you actually get to the airport.” He recommended the ultimate airline fee guide on SmarterTravel.com to get a clear picture of any extra charges you might pay.

2. Pack light

Avoid checked-bag fees altogether by bringing carry-on luggage only. (Be sure to check with your carrier on the maximum size of bags allowed in the overhead bins.) You can head straight for the security line when you arrive at the airport and skip the baggage carousel after your flight lands at your destination.

New since the holidays last year: Spirit Airlines now charges a fee for carry-ons that passengers place in the overhead bins. (Each traveler can still bring one personal item that fits under a seat for free, such as a purse or briefcase.) Every other airline allows one piece of luggage and one personal item to be carried on for free by every ticketed passenger, Brown said.

3. Give yourself plenty of time

TripAdvisor recommends getting to the airport at least two hours before your scheduled departure for a domestic flight and three hours before an international trip, Saltzburg said. It’s especially important to get to the airport early during the Thanksgiving and Christmas travel rush, because the many inexperienced fliers and families with children who are venturing out during the holidays will probably slow down the security process.

New since the holidays last year: Beefed-up screening means that lines may be moving more sluggishly. “Body scanners and additional pat-downs are the norm these days, leave extra time to get through security,” Brown said.

4. Prepare for the security line

There’s no avoiding your encounter with Transportation Security Administration agents, and there’s tension in the air as hundreds of travelers grab bins and shuffle through with their belongings.

“The one place you’ll tend to have to queue is going to be at airport security, and it’s probably your most stressful part of the trip,” Saltzburg said. You can’t speed up the line, but you can do your part to prevent slowing it down. Here are some basic tips:

  • Have your boarding pass and ID easily available.
  • Remove your shoes. (“Slip-on shoes should make going through security much faster,” Saltzburg advised.)
  • Make sure all of your liquids are in a zip-top plastic bag that’s kept separate from your carry-on bag and adheres to the 3-1-1 rule: Fliers are limited to 3-ounce or smaller containers of liquids or gels, that can fit in a one-quart-size clear plastic zip-top bag; one bag per passenger.
  • Send coats and jackets through the X-ray machine.
  • Take any items that might set off the metal detector — like keys, loose change and heavy jewelry — out of your pockets.
  • Don’t wrap any gifts. If security officers need to inspect a package, they may have to unwrap it. If traveling with food, check the TSA’s list of items that should be checked or shipped ahead.

5. Plan for flight delays

Don’t expect all of your Thanksgiving travel plans to happen without a hitch, Orbitz.com advised. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and if you have connecting flights, build buffers into your itinerary so that one disruption won’t jeopardize your entire trip. “Keep any medication you need and something to keep you busy in your carry-on bags,” Brown said.

Saltzburg, who flies several times a week, said he depends on noise-canceling headphones to provide him with moments of Zen. “I put my headset on, and it tunes out the world around me,” he said.

Safe Travels.

This article was written by A. Pawlowski, CNN

Incoming search terms:

How to Survive 10 Travel Emergencies

Posted in Family Travel, Packing Tips, Travel Tips, TSA Regulations, TSA Restricted Items on December 28th, 2010 by – Be the first to comment

Crashed your rental car? Missed a flight? Lost a passport? Don’t panic: When the you-know-what hits the fan, we have the strategies to salvage your vacation.

What Should I Do When…

…I MISS MY FLIGHT?
Get to the airport right away and ask to be put on the next flight. If an agent gives you grief, explain why you missed the flight—particularly, why it wasn’t your fault (snarled traffic, for instance). Airlines are more likely to ask for additional payment if an agent thinks you missed the flight simply because you wanted to change your ticket without paying a change fee. With a little luck (and a sympathetic agent), you’ll be on a flight later that day at no extra charge.
Worst case: Paying the difference between your new ticket and the original fare, plus a ticket-changing fee of about $150 for domestic flights.
When all else fails: Realize that no matter what the official policy is, agents can cut you some slack. Mentioning that you belong to the airline’s frequent-flier program can’t hurt. May we also suggest crying as a tactic?

…THE AIRLINE LOSES MY LUGGAGE?
Take the obvious first step and contact the airport’s lost-and-found. File a bag-claim form and ask about the airline’s policy for reimbursing you for toiletries and other essentials. Most bags are recovered and will be shipped to you (at home, a hotel, wherever—and at the airline’s expense), so stay polite.
Worst case: About 2 percent of delayed luggage disappears forever. If your bag vanishes for good, file a form that itemizes what was inside it. Most airlines won’t pay for precious items, including cash, artwork, electronics, and jewelry. So don’t pack them in luggage. For covered items, you’ll be paid for the depreciated value, not what it would cost to buy brand-new gear (including the bag itself). Sometimes you’ll even have to produce receipts. On domestic flights, a carrier’s liability maxes out at $3,300 per passenger. Weirdly, liability on most international flights is even less—about $1,700 per passenger.
When all else fails: Instead of looking for receipts for items purchased years ago, bring in printouts of the current value of comparable items for sale as “used” on Amazon. Overall, the moral is: Never pack anything of value in your checked luggage.

…I CRASH MY RENTAL CAR?
After the accident (here or abroad), insist on calling the police (even if it’s a minor fender bender), and make copies of the report. If you declined collision damage waiver insurance coverage, your auto-insurance policy should cover damages. If you declined rental coverage and don’t have auto insurance, the credit card you used to pay for the rental should pay for damage to the vehicle.
Worst case: You didn’t check for loopholes in your policy’s fine print, and now you’re stuck with a huge bill. Coverage provided by your credit card or auto insurer often doesn’t apply to vans and luxury vehicles. Rentals in some countries, such as Ireland and Jamaica, may not be covered either. That’s why you need to call your credit card company and check the fine print before you depart.
When all else fails: Never agree to pay anything to the rental company on the spot. If you’ve looked into all the other options and it looks like you’re on the hook for thousands of dollars, call a lawyer.

…MY TOUR OPERATOR GOES OUT OF BUSINESS?
Hopefully, you paid with a credit card, which you should always do because it offers the most protection. If so, call your card company and explain what happened. Your money can be refunded if you contest the charges within 60 or 90 days of when your statement is mailed to you.
Worst case: You paid with a check and didn’t buy travel insurance that specifically covers the financial default of a tour operator. In which case, you’re not getting your money back.
When all else fails: Contact the United States Tour Operators Association (ustoa.com) to see if the tour operator was a member of their group—and as such, would have been required to keep $1 million in reserves to refund to customers.

…MY PASSPORT IS STOLENAND I’M THE VICTIM OF A CRIME?
For most crimes except minor pickpocketing, call the police. If you’ve been hurt or robbed, or your travel plans must be changed, the police report will help you file claims with health and travel insurers. Cancel any stolen debit and credit cards, too.
Worst case: Your passport was stolen, and without it you won’t be allowed back into the country. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate ASAP. With luck, you normally either travel with a photocopy of your passport, which will help speed up the process of getting a new one, or you’ve e-mailed a scan of your passport to yourself at a Web-based account you can access.
When all else fails: Bust out your emergency stash of traveler’s checks, which you brought along for just such an occasion—and which should hold you over until you get your hands on new cards and a new passport.

…MY CHECKED LUGGAGE IS ROBBED?
You’ll probably never get your stuff back, but you should file reports anyway. Why? They increase the chances that the thieves will eventually be caught. If there’s a slip in your bag stating that the TSA inspected it, file a claim at the TSA website (www.tsa.gov).
Worst case: There’s no slip of paper from the TSA noting that your bag has been inspected. So file a claim for reimbursement for lost and stolen items with the airline directly—and quickly, because claims often must be submitted within as little as 24 hours of an incident. Ironically, airlines won’t pay for the most-likely-to-be-stolen items, such as jewelry and electronics, and they impose caps on their total liability per passenger.
When all else fails: File claims with the airline, the airport(s), and the TSA. To be safer next time, put a TSA-recognized lock on your bag to prevent the half dozen, non-TSA workers who handle it from being able to pry it open.

…I GET SICK WITH A BUNCH OF OTHER PASSENGERS ON A CRUISE?
If your cruise is interrupted or postponed because of an outbreak, you should expect to be given the option to cancel for a full refund or to reschedule at a discount of up to half off.
Worst case: Cruise ships are not required to compensate passengers for illnesses. If you and a small number of passengers get sick on an otherwise uneventful sailing, don’t expect a refund.
When all else fails: Call the cruise line’s customer-service department and request a discount on a future sailing, explaining that your vacation was ruined and that you’d like to give the experience another shot at a discounted rate, or with credit for on board purchases.

…I NEED EMERGENCY MEDICAL HELP AT MY DESTINATION?
Most U.S.-based health-insurance plans offer some coverage overseas, but only for emergencies, such as broken bones or heart attacks—anything that would send a reasonable person to the ER. Chances are you’ll have to pay the hospital or doctor directly and get reimbursed later, so keep all receipts. In some rare cases, health plans work with doctors and clinics overseas, and if your treatment occurs in-network, your insurer may be able to pay the bill directly, saving you the trouble of paying out of pocket.
Worst case: You have no insurance and rely on Medicare or Medicaid. Neither program will protect you outside the U.S. Be sure to buy supplementary travel insurance in advance of your trip. To scout out the policies of multiple established, well-regarded providers, use insuremytrip.com.
When all else fails: Get to a doctor or hospital and worry about payment later. In many parts of the world, medical treatments cost far less than in the U.S. And in countries with socialized health plans, medical bills have a way of disappearing, even for foreigners.

…I’VE BEEN ARRESTED OVERSEAS?
Drugs are involved in roughly one-third of the arrests of Americans abroad, so it goes without saying to just say no. Legal systems vary widely around the globe, however, and to avoid getting in trouble because of an unusual foreign law—in Singapore, for instance, you can be fined for not flushing the toilet—study up on your destination’s peculiar regulations in guidebooks and at travel.state.gov.
Worst case: You’re facing serious jail time, or worse. When speaking to the police, be respectful and apologetic without necessarily admitting wrongdoing.
When all else fails: Tell everyone who will listen that you demand to speak with a U.S. embassy officer, who can help you navigate that country’s legal system, find a local attorney, and send messages to your family.

…I’M CAUGHT IN A NATURAL OR MAN-MADE DISASTER? Serious emergencies can happen anywhere (see: London, Haiti, Chile, Mumbai, New Orleans), so it’s a good idea to e-mail your itinerary, including flight and hotel info, to a friend back home. Register your trip with the State Department for free at travel.state.gov, so that the government will know where you are and will be able to help get you to safety in a crisis.
Worst case: If you’re fortunate enough to have life and limb intact, money shouldn’t be a concern: When true emergencies occur, hotels and airlines are generally very sympathetic to travelers and waive cancellation and change restrictions.
When all else fails: Figure out a way to get yourself to a U.S. embassy or consulate, which can provide safety and coordinate evacuations. Getting home may take time, so be patient, and try to console the travelers around you, who may become your new best friends.

Note: This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
By Brad Tuttle, Budget Travel

Incoming search terms:

Why Is the TSA Questioning Me?

Posted in 3-1-1 Liquids Bans, Packing Tips, Travel Tips, TSA Regulations, TSA Restricted Items on December 20th, 2010 by – Be the first to comment

Did you know that something as simple as a headband can trigger airport alarms? Here, seven ways you may unknowingly set off security measures—and what to do about it.

Ever wonder why the TSA singled you out to rifle through your bag? Or what exactly made the metal detector beep? By now, we all know to ditch our liquids before reaching security. But did you know that something as harmless as a headband can prompt a time-consuming cross-examination?

On an average day, transportation security officers scan more than 2 million travelers—and all of their luggage—and that number will only continue to increase. We spoke to TSA spokeswoman Lauren Gaches for the lowdown on seven items that can put officers on alert in spite of the fact that, for the most part, they’re perfectly acceptable for air travel.

THE OFFENDER: ALUMINUM FOIL WRAPPERS

Why they catch attention: Nothing escapes the metal-detecting prowess of airport security systems—not even something as minuscule as a foil wrapper. Many manufacturers of chewing gum, candy, and cigarettes have caught on and made the transition from metallic wrap to paper, but the hold-outs can put a kink in your smooth passage through airport checkpoints. What to do: Empty your pockets of any and all offending foil before passing through a metal detector.

THE OFFENDER: HEADBANDS

Why they catch attention: Even though headbands (like bulky clothing and hats) are not prohibited, sporting them may lead to additional screening. The reason is simple: Metal constitutes the frame of many headbands and, consequently, triggers the detector. What to do: Avoid being pulled aside by sending your hair accessory through security ahead of you on the X-ray belt.

THE OFFENDER: SMALL ALCOHOL BOTTLES

Why they catch attention: The TSA is naturally more focused on detecting potential explosives than in analyzing the contents of your personal minibar, but when it comes to liquors, the rules are based on size and packaging: Respectively, alcohol must be less than 3.4 ounces, bottled in original container, and contained in a one-quart sized, zip-top bag. What to do: As long as you follow the 3-1-1 requirements for liquids, you should be ok.

THE OFFENDER: SNOW GLOBES

Why they catch attention: Don’t expect to get onto a plane with a snow globe. Believe it or not, the liquid contents of most crystal balls surpass the 3.4-ounce limit and, consequently, aren’t allowed in carry-ons. In fact, back in October an abandoned package containing a snow globe appeared so suspicious that it caused the evacuation of Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. What to do: There’s no way around it—snow globes need to be checked.

THE OFFENDER: INHALERS

Why they catch attention: As an aerosol product, some inhalers are a cause for concern because at first glance they may seem to violate the “3-1-1″ rule for liquids, gels, and aerosols (limit of 3.4 ounces, packed in one quart-size, see-through, zip-top bag). Of course, given that these objects are a medical must for some travelers, they are exempt from restriction. What to do: To avoid unwanted questioning, Gaches advises travelers to inform officers in advance if they’re carrying an inhaler. It helps speed things up if your medications are properly labeled.

THE OFFENDER: UNDER-WIRE BRAS

Why they catch attention: The TSA swears this shouldn’t be an issue, but we’ve heard plenty of tales from women (and at least one cross-dresser) who insist that the metal in an under-wire bra has triggered a secondary “wanding” after passing through the metal detector. In some cases, a rogue under-wire has even led to a closer inspection by a female agent in a private room. What to do: The answer, then, may be to pack the metallic lingerie in your checked bags and sport a more comfortable model while in flight.

THE OFFENDER: JARS OF PEANUT BUTTER

Why they catch attention: Everything on earth can be categorized as a liquid, gas, or solid—except maybe lava and peanut butter. It’s doubtful you’ll be packing lava in your purse, but what about peanut butter? It’s certainly not a liquid—you could hold it upside down for a decade and it would never drop. But anything that can “conform to the shape of its container,” such as cold cream, toothpaste, or, yes, peanut butter, can upset the swift flow of the security line. What to do: Plan ahead and pack “conformable” liquids in the bags you’ll be checking. Peanut butter sandwiches, on the other hand, are perfectly fine.

Unsure about an item that’s not on our list? Check out the TSA’s online “Can I Bring?” application to see what is (and is not) acceptable.

By Gary McKechnie, Budget Travel

Incoming search terms: