NEW YORK (MainStreet) —Traveling can be stressful under the best of circumstances, but it certainly doesn’t help that airports are overloaded with a large number of infrequent fliers around the peak holiday travel dates.

We asked the Transportation Security Administration for a few tips on how consumers can make their holiday travel experience easier on themselves and their fellow passengers.

Familiarize yourself with current boarding procedures.

The TSA is moving towards screenings during the past year, including eliminating pat downs and shoe screenings for children 12 and under, but there are still checkpoints you’ll have to cross through. If you haven’t flown in a while you may want to re-acquaint yourself with the current procedures. For instance, adults will still need to remove overcoats and shoes when passing through security, carry-on liquids are limited to 3-oz. bottles and you must also place one bag per person in either of the screening bins before you head through the body scanners.

“Passengers who are prepared for security screening at the checkpoint will help streamline the process,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein says.

Do your wrapping after you get to Grandma’s house.

Gifts will have to go through X-ray scanners, whether in a checked bag or carry-on, and any flagged presents will need to be unwrapped and inspected. As such, passengers might as well hold off on the trimmings.

“What I do is I carry gift bags and tissue paper,” Farbstein says. “When I get to my destination, I can pull out the flat bag and paper and insert the gift. No tape or scissors necessary, and it really doesn’t take up any significant luggage space.”

Put your pies (and other foodstuffs) in checked baggage.

Trying to bring a pie onto your plane could lead to someone else having a hand in your food.

“Food items such as pies and cakes are permitted, but may require further inspection,” Farbstein says. “If you are not sure if a food item is considered a liquid or gel, it is best to pack the item in your checked bag or ship it to your destination in advance.”

Check to see what other items are permitted before heading to the airport.

If you’re unsure about bringing along the toy gun you bought for a little cousin or the knitting needles you were going to give to an aunt, you might want to download the TSA’s free mobile app. It tells you (among other things) what items are permitted in a carry-on, checked bag, both or neither.
For instance, you might be surprised to learn that you can’t carry on snow globes. “There is no way for our officers to accurately determine the volume of liquid,” Farbstein explains.

Passengers can download the app from the iTunes store or access from any mobile device.

Consumers can find additional travel tips and learn more about updates to security policies by visiting the TSA website. You can also find more information about what can and cannot be placed in a carry-on in this MainStreet roundup.

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