Whether you are packing for an annual family trip or for the trip of a lifetime, traveling post 9-11 means putting more thought into what and how you pack. With the new checked baggage screening procedures in place, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has come up with some packing tips to help save you time and money.
· Keep all checked bags unlocked. If your bag is selected for random screening, agents will have to break the locks to get inside. And believe me they will. When this policy was first implemented I didn’t realize what happened after you left your bags with TSA agents. I figured they went through an X-ray machine and that was that. I was wrong. My bag has been “randomly selected” on many occasions and has suffered damage because I left my luggage lock on. Bottom line: Skip the locks to avoid any damage to your luggage and instead use plastic cable ties.
· Don’t over-pack your bag. Picture this: You come to the airport beaming with pride; pleased that you were able to squeeze all of your items into one piece of luggage. Never mind that it took the weight of your teenage son and husband to close it. You finally got it zippered, got it to the airport and now it is waiting to be screened by TSA agents. If your bag gets selected for a manual inspection clothing wrinkles will be the least of your worries. In all seriousness, if screeners have a difficult time closing your luggage the potential for lost articles skyrockets.
· Carry all film with you onboard, as some new screening equipment can damage undeveloped film.
· This final tip is one that I live and die by: Place any packed belongings you don’t feel comfortable with strangers handling in clear plastic bags. This goes for toiletries and other unmentionables. I have seen TSA agents unpack and stack clothes and other personal belongings on airport floors during inspections of bags that they felt contained “suspicious” items. I pack all of my toddler’s clothes in the new “giant” zippered plastic bags. The bags are so large that I don’t even need to fold her garments. I just slide them in as is and zip the bag up and stick it into my suitcase.