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Packing Luggage


Luggage and Packing

Packing in the post 9/11 era means being prepared for security checks.  We provide several recommendations to help mitigate the inconvenience of these searches.


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Travel Advice - Packing with security checks in mind


Checked luggage will be subject to inspections for the foreseeable future.  Follow our guidelines to eliminate some of the inconvenience of luggage searches.

  • The TSA suggests that you secure your baggage with plastic cable or “zip” ties.
    • The ties are of use if your luggage features lockable zippers: instead of using a lock, secure them with a "zip tie".
    • These will be broken off if your bag is inspected, so bring several sets, in case you need to replace broken ties.
    • See our article on TSA  Approved Locks, for information on lock types that can be opened without damage during the TSA inspection process.
  • We suggest that you pack your toothbrush, toothpaste and other personals in a clear plastic bag so inspectors can see what is inside but do not have a need to handle items of personal hygiene, if your luggage is opened and checked.

  • Requirements announced in August 2006 prohibited boarding planes with any liquid items.  All liquid items must now be packed in checked luggage. If you must take liquid items, (e.g. liquid prescription drugs) be sure to pack them in sealed plastic bags to prevent damage should these liquids leak.


  • Food and beverages should not be packed in checked luggage as they may set off scanner sensors used during the inspection process.
    • In addition, these products may leak or ooze during the inspection process, damaging other contents of the luggage.
  • If you still use a film camera, a rarity, note that  scanners now being used will seriously damage film (exposed on unexposed) carried in luggage.  With the increased adoption of digital media for cameras, film exposure is no longer a significant problem for most travelers.  
  • Finally, travelers are urged to pack shoes on top of your clothes to speed the search of checked luggage tagged for inspection.
    • In other words, shoes are an inspection target and if they are in the bottom of the luggage, all other clothes will be removed to examine them. 
      • Removing the clothes is not the problem: we can guarantee that your clothes will not be repacked with the same care they were packed.

Find up-to-date information on this topic and lists of what you can and cannot pack in carry-on or checked luggage at

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