Airport Security Travel Tips

Ask any group of travelers for their tips on packing, and you will discover that there is little agreement on the "best way to pack a bag". In fact there are as many packing techniques as there are types of bags. We have found, however, that we can divide travelers into two basic camps:
  • the lay 'em flat packers and
  • the roll 'em and stash 'em packers.

Each technique has its devotees, and both techniques work well with most travel bags. We will describe each technique and leave it to you to develop a variation that works best for you.

Most people start with this technique for packing their clothes. It's fairly intuitive, and they pack this way without giving it a second thought. Their clothes are already folded flat and stacked on shelves on in their dresser, and they just move the stacks to their travel bag. Anything on hangers is also folded and packed. Pack your clothes in neat stacks in your suitcase. Fill in around the stacks with underwear, socks, and other soft items. What could be easier? It is particularly well-suited for foot-lockers, trunks, and flat hard-sided suitcases.

With the advent of soft-sided luggage, travel packs, and rolling bags, travelers discovered that the flat stack didn't work as well. The growing popularity of synthetic fabrics, especially fabrics like tencel, gave travelers a new packing option: the roll. It's a simple process. Instead of folding your clothes, you roll them. For T-shirts and knit shirts, lay them face down on a flat surface, fold in the sleeves, and roll up from the bottom hem - the collar will end up on the on the outside of the roll. Smooth out the wrinkles as you roll. For slacks, fold them in half lengthwise, placing the cuffs together, and roll them up from the cuffs to the waistband. You can even roll knit skirts and dresses in the same manner. For more delicate dresses and jackets, you should "pad" each item with plastic dry-cleaning bags to avoid creases, fold them in half lengthwise, and roll them from the collar to the hem. With practice, you will be able to roll anything.

A popular hybrid is to fold dress clothes and to roll everything else. Place the folded clothing in first, and fill in with the rolls.


  • Pack items snugly so they won't move around in transit.
  • To the extent that it's practical, pack items so that the clothes you need first are on top.
  • Pack light! Plan a wardrobe that you can mix and match, that is comfortable, and that is easy to clean.
  • Bring a sweater or jacket for cooler nights and excessively air conditioned dining rooms.
  • Carry a small, but sufficient quantity of toiletries in disposable plastic containers, and pack all toiletries in sealable plastic bags.
  • Don't pack your shoes empty; stuff them with fragile items, underwear, socks, or toiletries. Each shoe should be packed in its own plastic or cloth shoe bag.
  • Pack all medications (in their original packaging) and an extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses in your carry-on bag, and bring a copy of each prescription with its generic name.
  • Don't pack any valuables in your checked luggage; in fact consider leaving irreplaceable items at home.
  • Pack with the expectation that security personnel will inspect your luggage. Many travelers now pack some of their clothing in clear plastic bags so it can be seen by inspectors, but not necessarily handled.
  • Attach a bright ribbon to each of your bags; it will be easier for you to spot them on a baggage carousel.