Airport security, US customs and general travel thoughts
My new husband and I had some travel adventures with our honeymoon. We were on planes, in taxis, on a Jamaican shuttle, in a Mexican rental car, boats and of course my least favorite escalators! Travel overall excites me, but sometimes there are hassles on top of general weirdness.
We left out of good old CAK, the small airport close to home where security takes about 5 minutes to get through. When I walked barefoot in simple shorts and a t-shirt through the metal detector, it beeped and the TSA agent pulled me aside. Did I really set this off? I thought, then this conversation occurred:
Agent: You’ve been picked for additional screening (then she pages: Female additional screening!)
Me: What does that mean?
Agent: You’ll receive additional screening
Me: What is that? (I am now fully convinced that I’ll be strip-searched or something equally creepy)
Agent: Additional screening
Another female TSA agent takes me into a glass box, wipes my hands and scans it in a machine. Seriously security? You’re going to not answer my question, allow me to panic, then see what type of hand lotion I’m wearing? I get that security is necessary, but avoiding my question is poor communication and is part of why people don’t like TSA. I got randomly picked for a palm residue scan. Just tell me that, I obviously can’t go wash something off my hands when standing in front of you.
Then at airports, there is a choice: Have a creepy full body scan or a creepy extensive pat-down. When leaving from FLL the husband and I were debating this choice in the security line. I hate being touched by strangers (including being bumped in a crowd) so the pat down option was enough to make me want to crawl in a hole. But the mass of radiation that those scanners subject you to, also freaks me out. The equivalent of 10 normal X-rays or something like that with no lead vest protecting my organs. We were seriously considering both options when we noticed a clog in the lines. They had 1 scanner for every 2 lines and it was a busy day at FLL. We were briskly rushed through a traditional metal detector and rushed to pick up our things. The mental anguish wasn’t necessary and I still ultimately don’t know what I would have selected when forced to make the choice.
Customs and immigration officials scare the crap out of travelers returning to the U.S. My three encounters with customs and immigration when returning to the U.S. have been totally easy and not at all scary. The skies are much less friendly than the border.
From my own experience, so long as you are prepared, customs is a breeze. The worst part is the line. Fill out the form, have your passport in your hand and the agent will say, “thank you, welcome back.”
Things are probably more complicated if you buy a bunch of stuff outside of the country or don’t have a U.S. passport.
It’s everywhere! We were driving in Mexico and they were working on the roads. Luckily for us, roadsigns are pretty standard across the board. Driving in Mexico was pretty easy and even though the signs are the same shapes and colors, it is helpful to know some of the language. Brad and I were shocked that the Spanish construction signs processed for us just as quickly as English ones do.