Make Your Next TSA Experience A Piece Of Cake With These 28 Travel Essentials

You'll be the best-prepared passenger in the security line.
A TSA-friendly toiletry bag, a packing checklist and a rolling suitcase designed to fit underneath your seat.
A TSA-friendly toiletry bag, a packing checklist and a rolling suitcase designed to fit underneath your seat.

Popular items from this list include:

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Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed
A five-year Global Entry membership (which includes TSA PreCheck!)
It'll help shorten your security line times and end up being a great value if you get out of the country at least once a year and fly domestically a few times annually. I put off getting TSA PreCheck and even Global Entry for YEARS despite flying 10 times a year because I'm a person who likes to get to the airport early and I have getting through security down to an efficient routine. However, my breaking point was July 2021 when I had to wait soooo long at the airport when coming back to the country from Croatia. I went to Italy about a month later after signing up for Global Entry and coming back into the country was a breeze. I just had to let a machine take my picture, print out a receipt with said picture, and then place it in a nearby TSA agent's open palm. Then onto baggage claim! I've since used the Global Entry portion six times and the TSA PreCheck about a dozen times since getting it, so I feel as if I've already gotten my money's worth in less than two years.

You can apply with the Department of Homeland Security for $100. Once you're approved, you have to do an in-person interview and if approved on the spot, you can have your TSA PreCheck and Global Entry privileges available immediately. I just so happened to find a date for my interview the day before I flew to Italy and was able to update my boarding passes and flight reservations with my info to reap the benefits ASAP.
A packing list pad
This way you can rest assure that you did bring everything you intended.

Promising review:
"I hate packing — I mean, I really hate packing! I am always afraid I am going to forget something, and the entire ordeal is a stressful one for me. Since I have to travel a lot, this is a game changer. No more guessing if I forgot my underwear — everything I need is on this list. I am thinking of just keeping one bag totally packed, filled with the items on the list, and just add my suit in when I am ready to travel. :)" — Dr. Oceanfront
A Carhartt backpack with a pocket that fits up to a 17-inch laptop
Now, if you've got to pull your computer out at airport security, you can do it in one quick move instead of taking it out of your backpack and then a zippered holder. It's available in two colors.

Promising review: "I’m transitioning to using this bag as my daily. I already really preferred it over my last bag. It feels great and looks great and I’m looking forward to use it more. I got a 13-inch HP computer and a 2017 Macbook Pro to fit nicely in the dedicated laptop sleeve. I currently have two notebooks in the bag and plenty of room for more." — henry
A reversible vegan-leather travel tote if you'd rather travel with a shoulder bag
It'll hold basically everything you'd need on board your flight. Simply reach in and pull out that laptop or toiletries bag when you're going through security. It's available in three sizes and 14 colors.

Promising review: "I bought this bag for a trip I recently took and am extremely pleased with it. The versatility of being reversible (dark to light) was a plus, getting two for the price of one. It is soft and supple, and holds a ton of stuff! My 13" laptop/tablet fit perfectly and there was still room for a lot of other travel stuff. The magnet that holds the flaps together was strong, too. I would definitely purchase this product again and will use it on future trips!" — LadyThor
A handbag organizer insert with lots of pockets
It'll help you easily track down your ID and just about anything else you'll need to take out and put in a tray. It's available in sizes S–L and in 26 colors.

Promising review:
"I have always purchased handbags with lots of pockets and sections because I hate having to dig around trying to find something in the gaping hole of purses with no sections. But I have passed up so many cute bags because of this, and I was frustrated with having to do so. I purchased this medium size organizer, and I couldn't be happier!! It is very well-made, and it has so many great pockets to organize everything I need. THE BEST PART is, I can easily lift it out of one purse and put it into another one, and I always know where everything can be found. I wish I had gotten one of these years ago. When I first ordered this organizer, I didn't realize it had two zipper compartments on each side, and I was tickled to discover even MORE storage!!! With all the fun colors and patterns, it was hard to select one, but I've always been partial to polka dots. I love it and can't imagine anyone not being has pleased with this as I am!" — Ronna
A wheeled carry-on bag small enough to qualify as a personal item
It's designed to fit underneath an airplane seat, so you won't even have to pull your suitcase out of the overhead. It's available in three colors.

Promising review: "This is the perfect bag that will fit Spirit's 'strict' personal item policy. I was able to fit it under my seat on Spirit and had no problems from any flight attendants about its size (no one even checked to begin with). Very lightweight and easy to maneuver around. All the zippers and wheels work perfectly. I recommend investing in this bag if you're a college student and/or travel a lot for short breaks." — Haegi Oh
A weekender bag that'll slide over the handle of your wheeled suitcase
Reviewers say it'll also fit under an airplane seat. It's available in 15 colors and patterns.

Promising review: "I’m so happy I purchased this bag! I’ve been using a backpack as my carry-on for years but saw this and thought I’d give it a shot. I was able to pack a small backpack (approx. 12"x14" but the top was folded), a purse (approx. 10"x6"), Beats headphones (in their bubble case), a pair of Birkenstocks, and a travel blanket with plenty of room to spare. The side zipper/compartment is SO convenient to hold your cellphone/wallet/passport for easy access. I love that it sets nicely on top of a carry-on size bag without toppling over. The bag also has a shoulder strap which was nice to use when actually boarding the plane." — Jen
A simple luggage strap
It's designed to hold essentials like a travel pillow, jacket, personal item and more as you move along through the airport and once you land. It's available in six colors and a two-pack option.

Promising review:
"I love this little gadget. I used it to attach my jacket and computer bag to my luggage on an extended business trip. It made my airport walks so much easier. Now that I'm back home, I've been using it daily to attach my jacket or cardigan to my work bag or purse." — Michele
Cincha Travel
A travel belt to help you secure your personal item to the top of your rolling bag
The travel belt is adjustable to 38 inches to fit most bags. The belt itself is vegan leather with elastic accents and a quick-release buckle. It's available in 16 colors and can be monogrammed for an additional $20.

Cincha Travel is a small business in California that develops adjustable travel belts made out of vegan leather. The brand donates 100 airline miles for each purchase, which are used to reconnect separated migrant families.

Promising review: "Love this! I am constantly struggling between holding my jacket and two carry-ons. This is the perfect solution! I can’t wait to start using it when I’m back to regular business travel." — Allison
A trifold travel wallet so all your important documents are in one place
Now you won't hold up the line when it comes time to show the TSA agent your passport and boarding pass. It's available in 38 colors and has a passport pocket, boarding pass compartment, three credit card slots, an ID slot, a slim card pouch, slim pocket, a ticket slot, a cellphone pouch, a coin zippered pocket, key holder and pen holder.

Promising review: "Guys, I'm beyond happy with this. I've been looking for a passport and ticket holder for a while but had never found the right size until I decided to try out this one. Besides, the material feels high quality and long-lasting, the red color is even better in person and it's wildly pretty." — BazantSol
Some no-tie elastic shoelaces so you can easily slip your shoes on and off at security
They're available in 35 colors.

Promising review: "At first I was skeptical that these laces wouldn't hold my shoes on tightly enough, but I decided to give them a try in my Converse Chucks. They're fantastic! I like the way the 'hidden' fasteners sit inside the shoes below the eyelets, but on top of the tongue, and I can't feel the fastener at all with my foot in the shoe. I've had them in for around eight months, and they're still just as elastic as ever. They haven't stretched at all and show no signs of wearing out. I loved them so much that I bought five more sets to put in all of my shoes! No more triple knotting my shoes so they don't become untied. I tie knots pretty slowly so these laces have honestly saved me tons of time. I couldn't be happier with them." — lucidity
Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed
A collapsible silicone water bottle
It'll help you stay hydrated without taking up space in your bag, and is available in 14 colors and styles.

I bought this water bottle before a 2.5-week trip to Vietnam (where you don't drink tap water) and Malaysia (where you do). I didn't want to bring one of my ride-or-die S'well bottles because it would take up extra room in my bag when I wouldn't be able to use it during the majority of the trip. This handy silicone bottle did just the trick! It's very easy to roll up and stays rolled up thanks to the just-stretchy-enough loop. Said loop was also very handy while walking through airports and sightseeing. The bottle is easy to clean and doesn't make my water taste weird. I'm now using it as my daily water bottle and feel confident it'll serve me well for a long time. Plus, with a collapsible water bottle, it's easier to remember if you left water in it before you go through security.
A 24-count of Pedialyte powder packets
Sometimes on a trip you indulge a little too much or haven't been hydrating properly and could use some electrolytes. I always pack these for trips and have never regretted it. And they're much tastier than electrolyte tablets you dilute in water. Go through security FULLY hungover knowing you can fill up your water bottle with this right after. They REALLY came in handy when I went to the Greek islands for 10 days with an apparent mission to eat every piece of seafood and cheese within sight while washing it down with jugs of wine. These are powder in small individual packets, so they're so easy to pack! And you won't have to lug around a bottle of Gatorade to feel better.
Elizabeth Lilly / BuzzFeed
A solid hair conditioner bar
You won't have to put it in your toiletries bag for TSA, plus you won't be stuck with the subpar hotel conditioner. The bar is basically foolproof. You rub it directly on your wet hair after rinsing out your shampoo. Each bar is supposed to last 200 washes and it might do a little less for me, but I know this'll be good for many future trips! I've used it on about five trips now and it doesn't look any smaller than it did when I used it the first time.
A pack of insect-repellent wipes
It'll be easier to keep on you at all times than a bottle of liquid. Plus, it can be tucked in your luggage anywhere because it's not a liquid that has to fit in with your toiletries. I keep mine in a side packet on my backpack. It comes in three packs of 12 wipes. I've used these wipes on several park days, but I really found success with them on a recent hot weekend trip to Savannah, Georgia. I don't notice any smell when using them and have found one wipe to have enough repellent for my arms and legs. Plus, I have extremely sensitive skin but haven't had any irritation from these seemingly powerful wipes!
A makeup-removing cloth to gently help erase the day instead of dirtying hotel washcloths
The plush microfiber gently lifts away dirt, oil and makeup. Use it wet with water or your favorite liquid makeup remover. It's available in seven colors.

Promising review: "This product...I have no clue how this works, but it does! Let me start by saying I was wearing a full face of makeup. I mean foundation, contour highlight, eyeliner, seriously the whole nine yards. All I did was wet it and wiped my face, my jaw literally dropped. This is hands-down my favorite makeup remover. The best part is that they are reusable so you don't have to keep buying those expensive disposables that leave your face feeling greasy." — Heather and Ryne Griffith
A sturdy TSA-friendly toiletries set you can fill with your regular go-to products
Yep, I also own and love this set! it includes the zippered bag, four soft silicone bottles with leakproof caps, three compact jars and two toothbrush caps. I've used this set on more than five trips and and for trips when I don't require body wash or shampoo (like to visit my parents). I use the extra room in the bag to shove in all my beauty products and daily contacts. Plus, it comes with labels that stay on the containers really well despite my thoroughly washing these containers between trips. I bought this set in spring 2019 and have, admittedly, lost a container or two. But the ones that I've held onto over dozens of trips have all held up well!
A clear TSA-approved toiletry bag for all your liquids and creams
It's available in 11 colors.

Promising review: "Everything I needed fit perfectly, and I had no issues in TSA/China security. So far I have been through MSP, IAD, NKG, and PEK airports using this pack already, and it's a life-changer! I will never again have to worry about having to scramble to buy baggies just for liquids, and it is much more durable." — Courtney Swanson
A set of seven Cadence containers
These containers are magnetized, so they'll stick together in your toiletries bag. They're designed to be sturdy and leak-proof, and also work for a few days' worth of vitamins or holding small jewelry. They've quickly become one of my packing go-tos. Cadence is an AAPI woman-owned small business that was founded by Steph Hon as a way to eliminate single-use travel-sized plastics. The containers are made from recycled ocean-bound plastic.

My co-worker Abby Kass has these and loves them, too! "I recently got a set of four of these, and, wow, I love them so much," she said. "I used them on a six-day trip recently, and they were perfect. I customized the label so I knew which one was my shampoo vs. conditioner and did a general label for any other things I wanted to bring along. They do hold a surprising amount. According to the brand, they hold approximately one to two weeks' of skincare products, more than two weeks' worth of serum, two to three days' worth of haircare, and more than 15 tablets (for medicine and such). And while two to three days worth of haircare might not seem like enough, I found it held more than that for me, but I also don't wash my hair every single day. They were small enough to slip right into my toiletries bag and go through TSA with no problem. The container was easy to open in the shower (even with wet hands), and I had no leakage from them. These are an incredibly useful tool anyone who travels will want."
A set of six silicone travel bottles
It'll help you decant your go-to shampoo that you can't find in a travel size. I've used containers like these to carry shampoo, conditioner, hair masks, body wash, clothes detergent and more.

Promising review: "This product delivered on the description. Traveled abroad, no leaks, easy to fill and dispense, and easy to clean. Don’t be fooled by other products that will become brittle and crack. Buy these, you will not be disappointed." — Gary Rebok
A set of three leak-proof refillable pouches you can decant your toiletries into
Then when your trip is over, you can easily empty them (I can't be the only one who does this!) and shove them in your suitcase because sometimes fitting all your toiletries back INTO your toiletries bag can be a major pain. These lie almost completely flat when empty, so they'll take up minimal suitcase room.

Promising review:
"Love these! I needed them in a pinch and was so happy to find them on Amazon. The pouches are great because you can squeeze every last drop out of them, unlike most hard plastic travel bottles." — LD
Tide detergent packets so you can wash your clothes in the sink
Each pack comes with three packets. And, because they're liquid, they'll easily slide into the side of your toiletries bag. I've packed these on international trips to much success! They're available in multiple pack sizes.

Promising review: "Taking these out of the country to wash under things is exactly the right size." — Laura Wilson
A solid Neutrogena SPF 50 sunscreen
Because it's a solid, it's carry-on–friendly. I first bought this for a weeklong Croatian vacation last year, and as long as you are thoroughly reapplying, this stuff stays on pretty well. Since then, I've packed this for any trip I've been on, including a two-day Disneyland trip where I toted this around in my bag and shared with friends. I sometimes carry it with me in my purse on my everyday adventures because I know it's so easy to apply.

And if you're a bit hesitant about jumping on the solid sunscreen bandwagon, you can pack a stick of this, knowing you have enough sun protection to get you through to finding some spray-on or lotion SPF at your destination.
A handmade leather cord organizer
It'll help keep your wired earphones from getting tangled up in your pocket, making it easier to empty said pockets for the security line. It's available in multiple colors and in sets of two and three.

Promising review: "No more tangled headphone cables! I bought a pair for my desk at home, and I'm purchasing another pair for my office. I love how neat and untangled my earbud cords are when using this organizer. It's leather, which I'm sure will last many, many years for such a great price." — Jane M
An electronics organizer
It has a place for just about every one of your and your family's devices, and has corresponding cable pockets so you don't get everything tangled up while placing items in the security line trays. It's available in two sizes and four colors.

Promising review: "Used this to keep cords and chargers organized for a family of 4 on a long trip. Kept everything super organized and is well made. I kept the cords organized by type in the same area. I will never go back to throwing all cords and power adapters in a backpack and then having to find them and untangle a birds nest of cords." — CU
A 30-pack of waterproof zippered pouches to help you organize a variety of things
Because these are transparent, you can easily dig around in your carry-on to track down what you need to put in a security bin and push aside what can stay in your bag. They're available in seven color combinations.

Promising review:
"I bought these for a trip for my family of five. I like to plan in advance to make sure no one forgets anything! These were a life saver packing for three kids! I was able to create a carry-on, toiletries, wires/chargers, and snacks pouch for everyone! I used clear sticker paper to create name labels, and it all worked perfectly! Would definitely recommend if you need to travel with family and need to set things out and pack." — mommyandbri
A set of five compression bags if you tend to overpack
They come with a hand pump for travel. They're available in packs of 10 and 15, as well as in four bag sizes.

Promising review: "This is a great product. I have a memory foam pillow that I try to take on trips, due to neck issues, so I purchased this product and put it to the test to see if it could flatten the pillow so I can also carry my clothes and the pillow in the same bag, carry-on size travel bag. The pillow's been sitting in the vacuum pack for the last three days now and hasn't let any air into the package at all. The pump removed so much air that the foam is as solid as a rock with less that an 1/8 of an inch of give when I press on it firmly with my thumb." — EE
A pack of four compression packing cubes you can use over and over again
These packing cubes don't require a pump for sucking out the air. They're available in multiple size and color combinations and also in sets of eight.

Promising review: "Easy to clean, lightweight material. All of the compression bags have a mesh front which makes it easy to see what’s inside, plus there is a small clear vinyl pocket on the front for a label. I tested one of the medium bags with four sweaters (one long and bulky, plus three medium-thickness pullovers). They fit in the bag nicely with the bag zipped closed (not compressed yet). It was not difficult to zip the compression closure, although I did take special care to push down and 'help' the zipper along. No signs of strain or damage to the zippers once fully closed. These bags seem very sturdy. As seen in the pictures, there is a significant size reduction! Will definitely use in my travels and would highly recommend." — Clarissa Sheats

Before You Go

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