How *Not* to Travel: Plane Edition

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© Andrew Barnaby
© Andrew Barnaby

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling for the last few years, obviously. And while I’d love to say I’d reached airport ninja status, the sad truth is that I still screw up at least once per trip, at least when flying is involved. I was waiting in security for secondary inspection today when it hit me—rather than giving some of my best advice, I wanted to tell you guys about some of the blunders I’ve made in the past year.

Not Bagging Powders and Liquids

After an unfortunate shampoo ooze wrecked my toiletries bag last year, I vowed to always put my liquids—even the ones getting checks—in a separate baggie so they don’t leak everywhere if they open or break. But this trip, I realized that I shouldn’t have limited that plan to just liquids. A glass container of spirulina in my carry-on managed to pop open, and if you’ve ever had to a) explain greens powder to security guards who don’t speak a lot of English, b) clean spirulina (a really dark green, fine powder) off of stuff or c) deal with a bag that was now filled with a dark powdery substance… well, you see where this is going. Had I tossed it in a baggie before we left, the problem would have been avoided entirely.

Leaky Water Bottles

A super-pro move is bringing empty water bottles and travel coffee mugs with you to the airport so you can fill them for your flight. But this only works when you have totally leak- and spill-proof options. Somehow, I haven’t nailed this yet, and my cheap water bottle this flight left my seat wet before I even sat down, while a coffee mug that couldn’t be tipped over made for a really unpleasant ‘getting seated’ experience while boarding. Next time, I’m trading up and getting spillproof/leakproof versions, for sure. (This means opting out of my cycling water bottle that I bring in case I can ride or run with it, but to be honest, a regular disposable water bottle would work for that in a pinch.)

Doubling Up on Carry-Ons

I *need* to pack lighter, and I’m making a vow that next trip, I’m actually going to photograph what I bring with me so you guys can make fun of me as needed. Checking a bag is fine, but this trip, I had some overflow (on the way out, it was stuff for the racers, and on the way back, it was gifts). That meant I checked a bag, but also had two backpacks to carry on—one to be stowed and one for under my seat. This isn’t exactly a travesty or anything, but it did make for more stressful airport interactions (and I would have avoided the spirulina crisis altogether, had it been in my checked bag). Basically, the more economy-style you’re traveling, the less you can bring, the better.

“You’re Not Going to Use It”

My best self does a sheet mask weekly. My actual self hasn’t done one since July (and that was only because I had a wedding coming up!). Yet I still carry sheet masks in my toiletries bag. My excuse is that my travel toiletries bag is also my at-home toiletries bag, but what I’m realizing is that I need to split mine into two parts: one that has fun extras like my already-bought sheet masks (that I should just stop buying!), and one that has just the essentials for travel. That way, the extras can live in the van (or house, once we have a specific home base) while the small one flies with me. The same attention should be paid to shoes, clothes, etc.

Not Taking Notes

After each trip to Belgium in the past year, I’ve managed to immediately forget what I actually used and what never came out. I did fairly well this trip, but there were definite holes in my clothing choices (i.e a lack of warmer pants for really chilly races, but an overage of sleeveless tops), and some generally bad decisions (i.e bringing more pajama-y choices to wear around the house when everyone else persisted in wearing normal clothes all day). So, when I get home, the first thing I’m doing is going through and pulling what didn’t get worn.

Let me know in the comments: what are some of your hard-learned lessons when flying?

 


 

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