TSA Travel Tip: Holiday travel tips

We’ve spent a decent amount of time on Coast Guard All Hands sharing the benefits of TSA Pre✓™ for military families. With the increase in travel (and travelers) over the holiday season, we wanted to share some tips from the Transportation Security Administration to ensure you a smooth holiday travel experience.

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We’ve spent a decent amount of time on Coast Guard All Hands sharing the benefits of TSA Pre✓™ for military families. With the increase in travel (and travelers) over the holiday season, we wanted to share some tips from the Transportation Security Administration to ensure you a smooth holiday travel experience.


TSA travel checklist graphic. Click on the image to download a printable checklist to assist in holiday travel. Graphic courtesy of Transportation Security Administration.
Click on the image to download a printable checklist to assist in holiday travel. Graphic courtesy of Transportation Security Administration.


Written by Bob Burns, Transportation Security Administration Blog Team.

I’m sure many of our readers have been in and out of stores and online catalog shopping this Christmas season. Well, consider this post your one-stop shopping page for travel information if you’re traveling over the holidays. However, if you don’t find what you need, be sure to see the contact info at the bottom of this post and reach out to our contact center.

MyTSA app: Would you like TSA information anywhere, anytime? Use the MyTSA app. Among the great features, there’s a “Can I Bring My…” tool. Do you want to know if you can pack a certain item? This is the tool for you. Type in the name of the item you’re curious about and it tells you if the item is permitted or not, along with packing tips. A wait time feature is also available. It relies on crowd sourcing, which means the more people who use it, the better.

Some snow globes are permitted: TSA now allows small snow globes in carry-on luggage when packed in a passenger’s plastic 3.4 oz bag. Snow globes that appear to contain less than 3.4 ounces (approximately tennis-ball size) will be permitted if the entire snow globe, including the base, is able to fit in the same one clear, plastic, quart-sized, re-sealable bag as a passenger’s other liquids.

Wrapped gifts are allowed, but not encouraged: Wrapped gifts are allowed, but we recommend waiting until you land to wrap them. If there’s something in the gift that needs to be inspected, we may have to open it.

Christmas crackers: Not the kind you eat with a delicious cheese-ball, but the kind that “cracks” when you pull it apart. They’re a part of a lot of people’s Christmas traditions, but they’re prohibited on aircraft.

Homemade soda machines and other gifts with compressed gas (CO2) cartridges: If you’re planning to take a homemade soda making machine on an airplane, be advised that they include CO2 carbinators, which contain compressed gas to add the fizz to the soda. Compressed gas cylinders are prohibited in both carry-on and checked bags unless the regulator valve is completely disconnected from the cylinder and the cylinder is no longer sealed (i.e. the cylinder has an open end). The type of carbinator in commercial soda making machines does not have this feature. We recommend shipping this item to be safe.

Traveling With children: Did you know that children 12 and under can keep their shoes on? If you’re going on a family trip, be sure to check out our “Traveling with children” website for more tips.

Batteries: You can’t go anywhere without some kind of battery these days. Read our June blog post to learn about what types of batteries you can travel with.

Promotional graphic for TSA precheck for active duty military.

Military travel: If you’re traveling for the holidays as a member of the U.S. Armed forces, be sure to read our travel tips for military travelers.

Knives: Knives of all sizes are prohibited in carry-on bags. However, you can pack them in your checked luggage.

Dry ice: Did you know that you can take dry ice in your carry-on or in checked baggage? Read our tips on traveling with dry ice to find out how to keep your favorite holiday treats preserved while traveling.

Forgotten or lost IDs: If you have lost or forgotten your ID, you will still be permitted to fly as long as you help us verify you are who you say you are by answering a few questions. We have an entire blog post with more information for you.

Liquids, gels & aerosols: If you’re checking a bag, make your life simpler by packing liquids in your checked luggage. That way, you don’t have to worry about the liquids rules. (If you’re concerned about them leaking, do what I do and put them in a zip-top bag.) But I know that doesn’t work for everyone if you’re only bringing a carry-on bag. If you have to take liquids in your carry-on, please continue reading … You can check out our carry-on items website for more details. The gist is that each passenger is allowed to take as many 3.4 ounce or less sized containers that will fit in one sealed clear quart-sized zip-top bag – one bag per person. Make sure you take the zip-top bag out of your carry-on prior to sending it through the X-ray.

Here is some information on frequently asked liquid, aerosol and gel items:

  • Beverages: Wine, liquor, beer and all of your favorite beverages are permitted in your checked baggage only.
  • Makeup: Any liquid makeup cosmetics such as eyeliner, nail polish, liquid foundation, etc., should be placed in the baggie. That goes for perfume as well. Powder makeup is fine.
  • Deodorant : Stick deodorant is not limited to 3.4 oz or less, but gel or spray deodorant is.
  • Gel Inserts for shoes are now permitted.

Foods: Cakes, pies, bread, donuts, turkeys, etc., are all permitted. We’ve posted a list of items that should be placed in your checked bags or shipped: cranberry sauce, creamy dips and spreads (cheeses, peanut butter, etc.), gift baskets with liquid or gel food items (salsa, jams and salad dressings), gravy, jams, jellies, maple syrup, oils and vinegars, sauces, soups, wine, liquor and beer.

TSA Pre✓™ and other risk-based expedited screening: TSA continues to expand TSAPre✓™, a prescreening initiative designed to expedite checkpoint screening primarily for known travelers and active duty service members, with similar benefits for passengers 12 and under and 75 and older. Through this program, TSA is able to reduce, although not eliminate, the need for a pat-down. TSA Pre✓™ is currently available at more than 100 airports. To date, more than 30 million passengers have been screened through TSA Pre✓™ lanes! Remember, entering incorrect information can lead to not being selected for TSA Pre✓™.

Shaving razors: You can get more info from our blog post on this subject where the pictures will answer all of your questions.

Double check your bag for guns: Seriously!!! If you read our Week in Review posts, you’ll see that our officers find guns every day at checkpoints across the U.S. A good percentage of those are loaded. Save yourself a bag check, a police interview and a potential arrest by making sure you leave your firearm at home.

Medication: One of the more popular questions we get from travelers is, “Can I travel with my medication.” The answer is yes, with some qualifiers. Our blog has a few tips that you might find helpful.

Traveling with a pet: TSA does not prohibit travel with pets. However, it is very important that you contact your airline first so they can let you know about any requirements, fees or restrictions they might have. We covered this topic extensively in a previous Travel Tips Tuesday blog post.

How to avoid additional screening: The most important tip to help you avoid additional screening is to take everything out of your pockets before screening and put items in your carry-on bag. Don’t wear clothes with a high metal content and put heavy jewelry on after you go through security. If you have a hidden medical device (insulin pump, ostomy bag, brace, etc.), please let the officer know.

Jewelry: Should you remove jewelry or keep it on to go through security? The answer, in most cases is that you can keep it on, but there are a few different choices that you can make based on what kind of jewelry it is. You can check out a previous Travel Tips Tuesday post for more information.

TSA Contact Center: The Contact Center hours are Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 11 p.m., Eastern Time; weekends and federal holidays, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Eastern Time. The TCC can be reached at 866-289-9673. Passengers can also reach out to the TSA Contact Center online with questions about TSA procedures, upcoming travel or to provide feedback or voice concerns.

TSA Cares Helpline: Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and medical conditions can call the TSA Cares Helpline (855-787-2227) toll free, 72 hours prior to traveling, with any questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint. A TSA Cares Helpline representative is available during all TSA Contact Center hours.

Follow us on Twitter for travel tips, blog post announcements, and other useful information. You can find a list of our national and regional Twitter accounts on our website.

We hope these tips help improve your travel over the full Winter Holiday Travel period.

Bob Burns
TSA Blog Team

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