If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Rolling Stone may receive an affiliate commission.
Getting to the airport a little late and rushing to catch your flight can be a stressful start to your vacation or business trip. Your wait time on the check in and security lines will vary based on your airline, the day of the week, time of the year, weather conditions, and other uncontrollable circumstances, but having the right gear can help you make up some lost time.
To set yourself up for success, we recommend following the travel guidelines set by the DHS (Department of Homeland Security), which includes tips like downloading the MyTSA App so you can get up-to-date information on the current security line wait times. The DHS also has a list of items you can and cannot take onto a plane (either in your checked or carry-on luggage), which is a helpful, official reference.
If possible, check into your flight online (most airlines allow you to do so 24 hours before your flight), so you can print out your boarding pass and head straight through to security. This works best if you’re traveling with a carry-on; if you need a new one, we have recommendations. If you’re planning your first post-Covid trip, and want to get through airport security as quickly as possible, here’s everything you’ll need to make that happen.
1. A Clear Account
If you travel often enough, we highly recommend signing up for a Clear account before you fly. The service, which costs $180 per year allows you to check into your flight using bio-metric data, like a fingerprint, facial scan, or retinal scan. These scans take place at one of Clear’s kiosks, which are available in over 50 airports, stadiums, and other large spaces.
The benefit to Clear is huge if you’re a frequent traveler: Clear members are able to get their boarding pass more quickly. All of your data is encrypted each time you use one of Clear’s kiosks, so your personal data will be protected.
2. Troubadour Aero Backpack
Troubadour’s Aero Backpack has quickly become one of our travel essentials, and has made going through security less stressful. Its streamlined design, which includes a top zippered pocket that makes grabbing important documents extremely fast.
Its outer pocket is padded, and can hold a 16-inch laptop with ease. The ability to remove and reinsert a laptop into a backpack without opening the main pocket was a huge time saver. Our favorite little touch was this laptop’s side handle, which allows you to carry it like a duffel back when necessary.
If the Aero Backpack is packed efficiently, you should have no trouble walking through security without requiring multiple bins.
3. Travelpro Platinum Elite Carry-On
Running through an airport with luggage that won’t cooperate is a nightmare, and it be the difference between just making your flight and missing it. After trying it for ourselves, Travelpro’s Platinum Elite is our new go-to carry-on luggage. Its 360-degree wheels were super smooth, which made navigating tight spaces easier. Its zippers lock into place to prevent the luggage from opening, and the three-digit combination lock is easy to set. As a bonus, it was small and light enough that we didn’t struggle with putting it in the overhead container.
4. Vida Vaccine Card Holder
If you’re travelling to a place that requires a COVID-19 vaccine to enter, Vida’s Vaccine Card Holder is a must-have travel accessory. By clipping it onto your travel bag (we recommend a purse or backpack zipper, it’ll always be within arm’s reach. Using a vaccine card holder will also prevent your card from getting creased, or damaged by water.
5. Bellroy Dopp Kit
The TSA requires you to keep all of your travel-sized liquids in one place, which is why we recommend keeping a Dopp Kit handy. It’s more durable than a plain plastic bag, and can hold lotions, balms, and other toiletries in one convenient spot. Not only will this save you time in the airport, but you’ll have less to unpack once you get to your destination.
6. Twelve South BookBook CaddySack
Twelve South’s BookBook CaddySack takes the concept of a dopp kit and applies it to cables and other tech accessories. The CaddySack has a series of straps designed to keep dongles, chargers, and cords organized. When you get to airport security, you can simply set this entire holder into a scanning bin instead of pulling out a tangled mess. As a bonus, the CaddySack also makes grabbing a charging cable mid-flight a breeze.
7. Apaldi Travel Document Organizer
Our final organizational tool recommendation is Apaldi’s Travel Document Organizer, which keeps your passport, cash, credit cards, boarding passes, and ID in one convenient place. We like that the organizer has space for two passports in case you’re traveling with a child or partner, and ample room for several credit cards. It even has an outer phone pocket. Having all of your key documents in a single place (stashed in the Aero Backpack, hopefully) makes them easy to access when you need them.
8. Toms Alpargata Slip-On Shoes
Footwear may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you consider your travel checklist, but slip-on shoes can also expedite your experience at security. We like Toms because they’re comfortable to wear on long-haul flights, and easy to slip on and off. Untying shoelaces with a bunch of people behind you can be anxiety inducing, but you can skip the stress with Toms Alpargata shoes.
9. Groove Life Belt
Groove Life’s belt is another piece of airport-friendly clothing that can save you some time on the security line. It expands to fit your waistline comfortably and uses a tab system similar to an airplane’s seat belt. You can take the belt off easily, and it’s flexible enough to be folded over several times, which makes it easier to place into a security bin. This is another small time saving tool that makes a big difference in how much stress you feel while heading through security.
10. Pilot G2 Pen
This may seem silly, but the number of times we’ve had to ask someone for a pen during our experience traveling is frankly embarrassing. You never know when you’ll be asked to fill out a form before boarding a flight, or make note of a gate change on your ticket. A pen can come in handy at the airport, but it’s especially important to have with you on the plane. You shouldn’t have to ask the stranger next to you for a writing instrument when the flight attendant hands you a customs form.