How to Breeze Through Airport Security When Traveling with Only a Carry-On

Air travel can often cause undue stress, especially when it comes to shuffling through security. Everything seems so rushed and hectic – shoes must come off, laptops out, and you’ve got to get scanned, too. If you forgo the checked luggage, however, you at least don’t have to worry about losing the things you need. Here are some key travel tips to make the airport less anxiety-inducing.

seniors at the airport

1. Pack light and leave some room.

It sounds totally obvious to pack light, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. If you’re going to a chilly destination, for instance, packing light becomes more challenging. Try to seriously limit how many outfits you need, and plan to do laundry wherever you’re staying.

Not only will you want some space for bringing back souvenirs, you also want packing to be simple. If everything is crammed as tight as possible, packing and unpacking can be a serious chore. If you get chosen for a random bag search, the last thing you’ll want is a bag that’s overflowing.

2. Wear shoes that are easy to put on and take off.

Most of the time, you’re going to have to remove your shoes to go through security – unless you’re over 75. Seniors over 75 can often go through an expedited screening process that does not require removal of shoes. However, it’s best to be prepared regardless.

3. Don’t bring anything sharp.

Even safety scissors may be confiscated, as will all knives and multi-tools. Even some toiletry kit mainstays may very well be too sharp to pass.

4. Avoid packing liquids.

You likely already know the liquid limits, but it’s worth repeating. Bring an empty refillable water bottle that you can fill up once you’re past security. Also, don’t bring liquid gifts like wine or liquor. (You can buy these in the duty free shops once you’re past security though.)

You won’t be allowed any liquids over 100 ml, and they all have to fit in a quart-sized plastic bag. (The last thing you want is to have your favorite perfume confiscated. If you have a favorite fragrance, see if you can get a sample vial of it.) It’s best to simply pack just travel and sample-size products.

5. Don’t wear metals.

Shoes and belts with metal clasps and buckles are such a pain to travel with. Avoid wearing these (and heavy metal jewelry) so you can get through security faster.

6. Don’t take your laptop if you don’t need it.

If you can get by with just a smartphone, try to leave your laptop at home. This way, you won’t have to take it out for your security screening.

7. Choose the right luggage.

When traveling without checked luggage, you’re likely going to want one rolling bag and one travel purse or bag. The rolling bag will have to fit airline standards and fit in the overhead bin. Your travel purse merely has to fit underneath the seat in front of you. Use this space wisely and keep the most important things in your purse or shoulder bag.