Over the years, I’ve had more than a few run-ins at border crossings and airport security. I get it — my “look” hasn’t always been the most clean-cut, especially when traveling. But a surprising advantage I have, is being a Canadian citizen with a Canadian passport. The best example that I can share is when I was in Tunisia in Northern Africa, boarding my plane back to Malta in Southern Europe.
Traveling with a Canadian passport
On this particular trip, I was very bearded – two weeks growth for a guy that can grow a beard in two days. And my only luggage was a raggedy-old backpack. Within just a couple of minutes of lining up at security, I saw soldiers starting to position themselves around the line-up. Oddly enough, they seemed to be staring at me.
After getting into position, the soldiers closed in around me and told me to step away from the line-up. While surrounding me with their military fatigues and machine guns, they didn’t look particularly happy and began asking questions. Feeling a tad uncomfortable amidst the aggression and language barrier, I pulled out my Canadian passport, and the mood changed. Angry faces immediately turned to smiles and laughter, and apologies followed. The soldiers dispersed, and I was even placed at the front of the line for boarding! It’s certainly something that I have always remembered.
Even though I’ve experienced hiccups similar to this a few other times, I still always come to airport security lines prepared (though not always presentable). Below are a few essential pointers to smoothly get through international security lines, even with an unkempt beard.
Tips to breeze through international security lines:
- Have your ID and travel documents easily accessible.
- Ensure that you’re not carrying any items that can be deemed unacceptable in either your country of origin, or the countries that you are traveling through.
- Be conscious of the culture of the country that you are in and those around you, and be respectful.
- Be positive and responsive if questioned, as negativity and defensiveness can work against you.
- Dress is a presentable and non-threatening fashion, so that you don’t become a visual target for inspection.