Top tips for stress-free Independence Day travel

The Fourth of July long weekend is peak summertime travel season and airports nationwide estimate that nearly 18 million people will pass through security checkpoints between Friday and Wednesday.

The Transportation Security Administration advises travelers arrive at the airport early and expect heavy delays to get through security checkpoints quickly.

Beyond that advice, TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein said there are a few more suggestions to remember this holiday weekend.

A smooth trip from the security checkpoint to the gate begins with the way passengers pack their bags.

“Start with an empty bag because we see so many people who tend to have prohibited items among their other items in the carry-on bag,” Farbstein said. “Take everything out of those little zippers and then pack. It’s good to start with an empty bag so you know for certain that there’s nothing prohibited in your bag.”

Next, throw away or finish all beverages before heading to the security checkpoint. However, passengers traveling with infants or small children are allowed to carry a few bottles of liquids like formula, breastmilk or baby food through the checkpoints.

And once passengers get through the line, double-check the bins, she said.

“People leave laptops, cellphones, keys and IDs in the bins,” Farbstein said. “Turn around and take that extra look behind you to make sure you’re not leaving anything behind.”

Farbstein said something that will hamper the flow from security checkpoint to gate is packing fireworks. They are banned on flights.

“Fireworks and sparklers cannot go in a checked bag or a carry-on bag,” she said. “These items are highly flammable. If you’re a fan of fireworks, just leave them at home.”

Gigi Barnett

Gigi Barnett is an anchor at WTOP. She has worked in the media for more than 20 years. Before joining WTOP, she was an anchor at WJZ-TV in Baltimore, KXAN-TV in Austin, Texas, and a staff reporter at The Miami Herald. She’s a Navy wife and mom of three.

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