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Packing Your Bags for the Airport

How to Pack Your Bags for the Airport

What I learned from my first flight, so that you don’t have to make these mistakes.

Recently, I took a trip to Chicago, and I flew for the first time since I was a little kid. It was also my first time flying by myself.

I was a nervous wreck. Doing things by myself has always scared me, and flying solo was no different. But the reason I was afraid? It wasn’t plummeting and crashing to my death via plane. It was the airport.

Navigating gates and terminals, getting through security, finding my seat on the plane, missing my flight . . . that’s what had me terrified. I wasn’t worried about the plane ride or even the Chicago airport (which was much bigger than the one I flew out of). Silly, I know. But I got so worked up about it.

Thankfully, I had no issues at either airport. The one I flew out of only had one terminal. Overall, my experience was easy and possibly a little bit fun. I even learned a few things along the way. So to the girl with anxieties of flying for the first time, this is for you.

What to avoid bring in your carry on at the airport.

Keep Liquids near the Top of Your Bag

I didn’t check any bags because it was too expensive. I was allowed a carry-on and a personal item, and that was good enough for me. For carry-ons, any liquids you pack must be in containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or smaller. They also have to fit into a clear, sealable, quart-sized bag.

All of that is well and good. What I didn’t realize was that you’ll need to pull that bag out of your carry-on when you go through security. To keep things moving quickly, you’ll want this near the top of your bag. Who wants to be the person holding up lines?

Keep Electronics Easily Reachable

Packing any electronics that are larger than a cellphone? You’ll also need to pull those out of your bag during security. I was (apparently) warned of this previous to packing, but I forgot. I’d packed my laptop for writing and my camera for a day spent in the city. Since my backpack has a sleeve for my laptop, that was easy to get out. My camera, however, was near the bottom of my bag. Getting that out without holding up the line was rough. But I managed.

What to wear at the airport.

Watch What You Wear

There are a lot of things you’d think would be fine at the airport but aren’t. Thankfully I did my research beforehand.

  • Wear shoes that are easy to slip off. You’ll most likely have to take them off while going through security. I wore boots and just left them loose and untied. It worked fine.

  • Don’t wear bulky clothing if you don’t want to get patted down. (I wore an open button down shirt and got patted down. Thankfully it was done very courteously.)

  • Your coat will have to come off. This is obvious when you take into account the previous point. There were signs all over my airport saying to take your coat off.

  • Large and metallic jewelry might set of a metal detector, so you’re best off leaving your flashy jewelry in your bag. Same goes for a lot of bobby pins.

  • I’ve also heard that dresses can get you a pat down since it’s easy to hide things in the skirt.

Some Deodorants Count as Liquids

Just to be sure, I researched a lot of items in context to packing them into carry-ons. (Pens are usually okay, btw.) One thing I discovered is that gel deodorants are considered a liquid. If you’re packing it into your carry-on, it has to follow the same 3.4 ounces rule (and be in a bag). Spray deodorant also follows the liquids rule.

What have you learned through your adventures at the airport? Let me know in the comments!