By Amy K. Andrews
I used to be the person who held up the line at airport security. I rifled through my bags, trying to locate my lip balm, which had inadvertently not made its way into the toiletries bag, and my pants would be falling down as I tried to remove my belt while removing my shoes. My snacks would always come rolling out of my purse and onto the conveyer belt, and by the time I was on the other side, I was exhausted before the trip even began. To put it mildly, I made the family of six, with four crying kids, two strollers and a whole slew of luggage, look good. The truth is, I simply had not travelled enough to know how to streamline the process.
But now, I have.
Whether you hop on a plane monthly, yearly, or only once in your life, I would like to make a few suggestions that will help get you to your final destination in style. (After all, you never know who may be sitting next to you on your flight. Perhaps even the person of your dreams.) Follow these simple steps below and say goodbye rag-a-muffin traveller, hello superstar of the skies.
1. Designate a travel outfit. I have referenced this trick before, when hosting a dinner party, and the same holds true for flying. When hitting cruising altitude, I like to be comfortable, cozy and clean. Therefore, I have chosen a pair of cotton leggings, a long shirt and a blazer as my go-to travel outfit of choice. The leggings allow me to curl up into the seat should I be delayed or traveling on a particularly long flight. They also allow me to stretch, in case I have a layover and need to move my muscles before sitting again, trapped in a middle seat for hours. The long shirt makes me feel comfortable as I bend over to pick up my luggage and hoist it into the overhead bin. Guest appearances by tummies or backsides are not welcome. The blazer makes me look polished, and keeps me warm. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one; in fact, I suggest you don’t wear your nicest duds as travel can beat your stuff to shreds. Also, wear shoes and socks. A clean, lightweight little slip-on sneaker or loafer over your socks will do the trick; you don’t want to walk through security in your bare feet, after all.
2. Ziploc your stuff. I do this with almost every item that goes into my carry-on. Shoes get a Ziploc, jeans get a Ziploc, all unmentionables, you guessed it, a Ziploc. This keeps all my clothing protected, should something spill or leak, and it keeps TSA happy if my luggage is chosen for an inspection or swab. The same goes for toiletries, of course, and those should always be kept in the outermost zipper pocket of your bag so you can easily pull it out for security and put it back in when finished. At the end of a trip when I unpack, I simply store all my Ziplocs inside my luggage so they are ready to go for the next venture. This keeps the environment happy.
3. Use a bag with a strap. Whether you prefer a messenger bag, or a purse with an extra-long strap, I suggest carrying your bag across your body. Just as a wheeled carry-on for your clothing is best, I have found a cross-over strap works great for your keeping all necessary documents safely close at hand. I first Ziploc some almonds or cheese and crackers, and put these in the bottom of my purse. This keeps them far away from the germs of the conveyer belt and helps keep me going should travel plans be disrupted for one reason or another. Next I Ziploc all my medicines and my night-guard (yes! I wear a night guard. It’s very sexy). You never want to put these essentials under the plane, just in case your luggage were lost; Always carry them on your person. After that goes my wallet, my phone, and my boarding pass with ID. In fact, I have even come to now carry both my ID and my boarding pass in the inside pocket of my blazer. It prevents me from having to pull out and open and re-open my wallet, saving valuable time when there is a long queue right behind you.
4. Extras. If traveling with a partner and checking luggage, always pack one outfit in their bag, and have them pack one in yours. That way, if one piece of luggage does not make it to your final destination on time, you still have a change of clothing. Also, I always pack an extra Ziploc bag or two, should I buy anything that I want to keep protected on the trip home. Most of the time, I simply stash hotel toiletries in this extra bag, which I then take to my local homeless shelter.
Perhaps our paths will cross in an airport somewhere, dear reader, and I will know you by the swiftness with which you pass through security.
PS-If you have any additional tips… please share them in the comment section below.
Amy is a woman of wellness, a writer, and the winner of Seattle’s Ultimate Housewife contest. As a liberated Texan, she has lived on both coasts, and on the high streets of London. Most days you can find her teaching Pilates to her beloved clients, editing her memoir, An Expat’s Wife, swiffering her home, or writing thank-you notes. At this very moment she is undoubtedly cuddling with her wife and cat.