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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Things Not To Pack In Your Carry-On

I talk a lot about what you should pack and how to pack it, but some things you don't think are weird may get you stopped at security and your bag flagged. Not that they won't check it and let you go, which has always been my experience, but there was a thread in a Facebook group I'm in about those things you may pack that will look wonky on the x-ray and may get you stopped.

On my last trip, I was stopped and my bag searched because I had a bag of laundry detergent that had to be tested. That makes sense, though I've traveled with that bag for quite a few trips (because buying detergent at my destination is sometimes inconvenient, especially if they don't sell it in the laundry room). I had to let the TSA agent know that I had a very fluffy pillow in my bag that I had to sit on to get my bag zipped, so it might jump out at her. She appreciated that. 

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A ziploc bag of cough drops

I'm not sure why this is a problem, but we usually keep them in the original bag or Eric puts a handful in his jacket pocket with no issues.

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A lot of snacks

So, apparently this is only a problem if you don't keep them all together. Don't just shove snacks willy-nilly into the free space in your bag, or it looks suspicious for some reason. Also, put them in clear plastic bags. This has happened to several of my friends.

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Cheese or other brick-like food

I assume this must look like a bomb. It's not actually an issue to take on the plane with you.


You might have gone to the beach and inadvertently tracked sand into your carry-on, but if you do, not only will you end up with sand on the floor when  you get home, but you may be stopped to have it tested

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A slab of meat

This may or may not look like "organic remains" to TSA. 

Quartz, rocks and gemstones

I have no idea why these get flagged, but they do.

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Bath bombs

I routinely bring these back home for my mom, but they can look like actual bombs in your bag. 

Poker chips

And things that are like poker chips. When they are stacked or piled together, they look weird in the scanner.
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Cards, games and soap in metal containers

Since the x-ray can't see through metal, they need to know what's inside. This shouldn't be surprising, but I always forget when I bring one of my favorite travel games with me.

Perfumes and colognes

Sometimes just wearing your favorite scent can get you flagged and your hands, belt or shoes swabbed. I'd advise against wearing fragrances when you fly, not only because this is annoying, but because as someone with terrible allergies, it makes being trapped in a metal tube extremely miserable.

Other things that have gotten me stopped: homemade food in food containers, chocolates, fried chicken I bought at an originating airport, a selfie stick, a little bendy tripod, and a stash of quarters for laundry. As long as it's not on the list of "definitely not" items from TSA, I wouldn't not pack any of these things if I needed to bring the back with me, because unless items don't fit in my bag and I can easily ship them, I won't waste money on checking a bag.

What weird thing have you gotten stopped at airport security for?

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