DALLAS — One of my favorite things my mom has ever told me is, "When you come back from vacation, one of the best ways to carry on through real life is to start planning your next vacation."
I'm sure many of us are in that mindset now. We're fresh out of Thanksgiving break and already counting down the weeks and days until we're free again for Christmas, New Year's, etc. You might have big plans out of town that could require some extra packing, or you're thinking about something from your vacation spot that you want to bring back home.
If you're planning to fly though, you've got to be careful with what you bring to the airport. As someone whose had quite a few things thrown away in the TSA line, I can tell you it's a PAIN.
Here's a refresher on what you can and can't put in your carry-on and checked-in luggage, according to the TSA:
Can I bring alcohol to the airport?
If you're planning to bring a bottle of something special from and/or back home, you've got to look at the bottle size and the alcohol by volume (ABV).
If it's under 12 proof (less than 24% ABV) and no more than 3.4 ounces (100 ml), then you can bring it in a carry-on bag. If it's higher than either of those requirements, put it in a bag that you'll check in before crossing TSA.
If you have to put your drink in a checked bag, make sure it's unopened, no more than 5 liters (1.3 gallons), and has no more than 70% ABV (140 proof or less). Any alcoholic beverage over 140 proof is not allowed in your bags at all.
So unless you're okay with watching that bottle go down the drain (or in the trash), keep it on the shelf at home. But good news: You're allowed to bring a bottle opener in whatever bag you want!
What foods are allowed through TSA?
There are plenty of food rules, so I'll break this down as best as I can:
If it's dry and mainly a solid (eggs, pies and cakes included), you can put it in any bag you want. Based on the TSA list, there's not even a size limit, as long as your bag is still organized enough to see though on the X-ray machines.
If it's closer to a liquid (dips, jam, peanut butter, etc.), the size of it will affect whether you can put it in a carry-on or checked bag. Just like with alcohol, you can't carry it on if it's more than 3.4 ounces (100 ml).
If it's a canned food, you can put it in your carry-on, but you might get stopped after the X-ray. Officials may want to make sure it's not something that's prohibited like gels or aerosols. You could put it in a checked bad to avoid that hassle.
If you're carrying food that needs to be kept cool, your ice and ice packs must be completely frozen when crossing through TSA. If they're partially melted or have liquid at the bottom, they won't be allowed through. So it's probably best to have that in a checked bag.
Cooked foods (meat, seafood and vegetables) with no liquid are allowed in either a carry-on or checked bag. Keep in mind that TSA may stop to check your carry-on if the X-ray image looks cluttered. Also, make sure that carry-on will be able to fit in your plane's overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.
Baby products (breast milk, formula, drinks, etc.) are allowed in carry-on bags no matter the size since they're considered medically necessary. If they're bigger than 3.4 ounces, let a TSA officer know in advance and remove them from your carry-on bag to be screened separately.
That also applies to anything you're using to keep those baby products cool. Also, your baby doesn't have to be present for you to carry on with your products.
Can I bring a drink through TSA?
If it's small enough, yes. Remember the 3.4 oz. rule? Here's an idea of what those bottles look like.
(Basically, leave the drinks at home and get another one after crossing TSA, if you want.)
What electronics can I pack?
Thinking about getting a new video game console for a loved one from out of town? If they're flying home with it, they can put it in whatever bag it fits in. If it's going in a carry-on bag, they should be ready to take it out at the TSA checkpoint and put it in a separate bin for screening.
Same rules go for other large electronics like laptops and iPads .
What are the rules for packing a gun?
Before you pack your firearm, check the rules for where you're traveling to and from as well as any limitations or fees that your airline may apply.
Firearms have to be unloaded, packed in a hard-sided container, and placed in a bag that you're checking in. You also have to let someone know that you're checking in a firearm.
Firearm parts (magazines, clips, frames, etc.) also have to be in a checked bag.
For more information, click here.