I don’t know about you, but the more I travel, the more I get extra scrutiny coming through security check points at the airport. It’s mostly when flying back into the US. I know for a fact that I am being profiled…lone woman traveler. I’m sure they think I’m a drug mule or something.
I used to look quite fabulous while traveling. I had on my cutest outfit, designer high heels and not a hair was out of place. However, after 9/11 and shoe bombers, taking off shoes, body scans, and removing all metal, my dress attire has hit an all time low. I inevitably wind up with my boarding pass highlighted by the ticketing agent or I just happen to be the random pick for extra screening…again. I now get hands swabbed, shoe swiped, and patted down on every trip. Don’t let there be a connection where you have to go to another terminal and another security check…sometimes I have been felt up at least 3 times in one trip.
Now, I dress like I’m in a marathon. More like a triathlon of running through airports, squeezing in airplane seats, heaving overstuffed carry-ons into overhead bins, and nearly getting butt-naked in order to get through security without setting off a sensor.
My go-to travel outfit is also easy to wash and dry once I get to my destination, so I can put it right back on when I leave. My ultimate travel outfit consists of:
- running pants
- loose/slouch t-shirt
- athletic footies
- lightweight tennis shoes
- headscarf or scrunchy
- lightweight hoodie
- no bra
- no dangling jewelry
Running pants are excellent for travel for more than just whizzing by security checkpoints. I find that if I wear full length compression type running pants, my legs are not tired when I land. This worked especially well for my long haul trips to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. I have several pair, but my favorites are my Nike running pants. They have just the right amount of compression without stopping blood flow. I also like the wide elastic band so it does pitch while I am in my seat. The main advantage is that the security screeners can CLEARLY see that you do not have anything in your pockets.
“No ma’am, I don’t have any pockets”
I have a couple off-the-shoulder t-shirts that I use for travel. Not quite like “Flash Dance”, but comfortable enough that you could sleep in. The arms are less restrictive than regular t-shirts and they still have a feminine look without being body hugging. Remember, unless you are flying first/business class, you are going to be pretty cramped as it is. You don’t what to feel like you are in a straight jacket while be squooshed into main cabin.
Now, I have global entry with TSA pre-check, so I usually do not have to remove my shoes. But, that only works when I come into the US. It does not work for other countries, so I have to take off my shoes. I’m sorry, but walking through security checkpoints barefoot is just plain nasty. I don’t know what’s going on with other people’s toes and I don’t want to get what they got. Footsies come in handy even if you opted to wear flip fops. They are great for keeping cooties off your feet whether going through security and even if you like to take your shoes off on the plane.
Tennis shoes (lightweight)
I emphasize lightweight here. It is quite tiring walking though airports and standing in lines with tennis shoes on that weigh as much as hiking boots. I like my Nike flyknit tennis. They are almost like socks with a sole. Because they are made of lightweight mesh, they dry pretty quickly if they get wet. The bonus is that I can dance salsa in them too. ¿Quiere bailar?
Headscarf or Scrunchy
Lets face it, with this outfit, being well-coiffed is futile. So, why not save it until you arrive at your destination. I like the headscarf because it protects my hair from rubbing again the headrest on the plane. Also, again, I have this cootie-phobia, so it helps relieve my anxiety when the plane does not have those headrest protectors (that I know they don’t change). The scarf is also a fashion statement itself if you tie it right and have it in a coordinating color with your outfit. Throw on some big hoop earrings and oo-la-la. Just remember the remove those hoops before security.
Sometimes airports and airplanes can be quite frigid. Bring a hoodie or a jacket to dress in layers. I recommend lightweight because anything heavier is usually too hot and too heavy to drag around. A lightweight hoodie can tie around your waist or shoulders instead of taking up bag space. Make sure it has pockets so you can stick small candies or gum in your pockets. I opt for my vintage Nike hoodie so I don’t have to pull it over my head. Remember that your running pants don’t have pockets.
This little versatile item goes without saying. Its a shawl, its a scarf, its a hood, its a blanket, its a skirt, its a shrug…need I go on. Depending on the weight, it is a must-have go-to item. I have a thick winter pashmina, that my sister-in-law brought me from Yemen. I use it as a blanket on all my long haul overseas flights. Normally, I always travel with a thin silk one to knock the chill off, but also to dress up a casual outfit.
I know, I know, this is a no-go for some of you more endowed ladies. But, if you are bordering flat-chested like me, this has got to be the most comfortable thing I’ve done. No pitching, no digging, no pushing and best of all…NO METAL to set off the security sensors. The girls are free to move about the cabin! Now, if this is absolutely NOT AN OPTION for you, I would recommend going with a sports bra. They typically do not have metal or maybe just on the strap. If you are a little self-conscience, this is where the lightweight hoodie or pashmina comes in handy too.
No dangling jewelry
We love our Alex and Ani bangles, but ladies are going to have to stick those in your bag if you want an uneventful security check experience. I often were my “soap and water” bangles, you know, the ones you need soap and water to put on and take off. One occasion, I forgot to remove them before the security check. Since I knew they were not coming off without removing a finger, we tried hands above your head. We tried hands against your chest. I finally just succumbed to the full body scan. Now I make a special trip to the ladies room if I forget to take them off.
Now that I dress down…way down, I am more energized when I arrive at my final destination.