Flying Survival: The Art of Packing Your Carry-on Baggage
Has it happened to you? A short 3-hour flight has turned into a marathon; your mouth feels as inviting as your cat’s litter box, or the trunk of your car, while your toothbrush is safely stowed in your checked baggage; the security line-up is a mile long, and as slow-moving as sludge. And you desperately need to pee?
Here are some tips to help you survive the various aspects of your next airline adventure.
But first, be certain your carry-on bag fits the overhead bin or under-the-seat dimensions. Or you’ll be asked to check this like you checked the rest of your larger luggage. At the last minute. Not a pleasant experience. When buying new carry-on luggage, check for those bags sanctioned by the airlines – it will say so on the tag.
Now for those tips:
1. Pack an emergency survival kit in a CLEAR plastic zippered bag. Keep this in a handy area of your carry-on bag, for easy retrieval when passing through security. At security, simply toss the bag and its contents into one of the plastic bins. Quick and easy. And nothing will go astray.
Here’s an A-Z list of items you might find useful to pack in your handy survival kit:
- Kleenex pocket pack
- Travel pack of flushable wet wipes
- Travel size toothpaste (under 100 ml or 3 oz)
- Or try Oral-B “Brush-Ups” (these “teeth wipes” are flat and very effective)
- Travel size mouthwash
- Dental floss
- Lip moisturizer
- Small washcloth (in its own small clear baggie)
- Travel soap bar (nab one from your hotel room)
- Travel size moisturizer (also usually available from your hotel room)
- Travel hand sanitizer (you’ll want this after visiting an airplane washroom after several hours in the sky – I’ve used this stuff to even wipe down the gross toilet seat)
- Cuticle clippers and/or nail file
- Puzzle book and pen and/or Nintendo DS
- Dry eye relief drops (tiny bottle)
- Your medications (in their original bottles)
- Pair of clean underwear (wrap these in tissue if you don’t want them seen)
- Candy bar, granola bar, or any other packaged and labeled snack food (these will pass through any airport security check)
- Small bills and coins in clear plastic bags (in the currency of the countries you are visiting, or even just passing through. I keep several different country currencies. I just grab the bag with the cash that matches the country I am in. Very convenient for buying a soda pop, water, snack, or a sandwich before re-boarding. And you won’t get held up in security because you forgot the change in your pockets.)
- Reading glasses (I carry a cheap spare pair)
- A folded larger zippered plastic bag (as you approach security, drop all your electronics into this bag – no worries about something getting left behind)
- Photocopies of your passport and travel documents
- Your suitcase keys
- And…most importantly, an extra dose of patience (just wait till you stand in the security line in Toronto, or Denver, or Vancouver, or well, anywhere actually)
For detailed information on what can normally be taken onboard a plane, visit the TSA site. It’s quite comprehensive and applicable for nearly all flights.
- When boarding USA flights, as you get closer to the security conveyor belt, untie or unstrap your shoes (yes, unlike officials in Canada Customs, Americans want to x-ray your shoes). That way there’s no fumbling at the belt; just step out of your shoes and throw them into a plastic bin.
- Here’s one of my best tips for speed and efficiency when travelling. After having forgotten those wonderful squishy neck pillows in security, and after having my jackets dirtied on the conveyor belt, I now put both my neck pillows and my hoodies, sweaters, and jackets into a giant Ziploc “Big” Bag. These 2 foot extra large bags are very durable, and so handy. They zipper up just like their smaller cousins, and security officials can see everything inside, at a glance. (The bonus? I have never had this bag counted as one of my carry-on pieces.)
- Carry a small cooler (I use one made by Igloo). Airport security accepts this as your “lunch” much the same as carrying on a box or bag from a fast food restaurant. Besides being a great place to store snacks and your Nintendo DS Lite, a hard-walled cooler makes the perfect footrest for us short-legged folks. It eases the pressure on the underside of your thighs, and the subsequent swelling of your ankles.
- And finally, the peeing part. When making a connecting flight, especially if you must go through the local Customs, remember to relieve yourself before the pilot heads into landing mode, and turns on the seatbelt sign. You have no idea how far you’ll be walking, or how little time you’ll have to make that flight, once you’ve landed.You might be collecting luggage, re-checking luggage, and then passing through security. While there are washrooms available, you may not have the time to take a quick break. So, do your business on the plane (no matter how gross the bathrooms have become in transit)
This may not be comprehensive coverage for making your flying experiences easier, but employing just some of these tips will make your experience a lot more efficient and a lot less frustrating, especially in light of canceled or delayed flights.