How to fly

Edit: Apparetly laptops are often stolen from suitcases. Yikes! So, scratch what I just said, and take your laptop anyway. 😦 So much extra weight, but…

I have flown hither and yon in the past couple of years, and I feel as though I could make a guidebook about it. This is what I would say:

First of all, pack your carry-on as lightly as possible. Trucking lots of stuff around the airport is pure torture. The following is a list of items that are essential.

1. A comfortable lightweight backpack. Not a rolling one. Those poke into your back dreadfully if you try to carry them for a long time. Not a bag or a purse. Those tend to hurt the shoulder you carry them on.

2. A small paperback book. You need something to do while you’re sitting, but you will NOT get a lot of work done if you bring work to do. Why? There are always people sitting three inches away from you staring over your shoulder. The more you bring, the more heavy stuff  you’ll have to lug around. A small paperback book suffices.

3. A jacket or coat, depending on how cold it is. This should be able to fit into your backpack and also double as a pillow.

4. A very small notebook and pen, just in case.

5. Your cell phone, credit card, drivers license, and boarding pass. These should be placed in a very accessable front pocket. Just for the record, a credit or debit card is so much less hassle than cash.

6. Food. Granola bars especially. Airport food is expensive, and you WILL get hungry.

7. An empty water bottle. Fill it up after you get through security, and keep yourself hydrated.

8. Tea bags. Tea always calms me. I especially like black tea to wake me up, and St. John’s wort tea to make me happy. Flying can be stressful, and tea helps this.

9. A small ziplock bag with ibuprofen in it. You never know when you will need it.

8. Headphones. You will always, no matter where you go, be better off it you take your own headphones with you.

9. Your ipod. Granted, I don’t have an ipod, but if I did I think it would be essential to take it along.


You do NOT need your laptop. Nor do you need five notebooks (yes, I struggle with this), five different books so you’ll have several to choose from, your camera, crossword puzzle books, whatever. There is so much you can bring that does nothing but wear out your  shoulders. All you really need to occupy yourself is one small lightweight paperback book.

Depending on how long your flight is you may want to take a change of clothes. Also, sometimes it’s nice to have chapstick, a toothbrush,  and deodorant, just so you can freshen up if need be. Remember, LIGHTWEIGHT ALL THE WAY.

Your shoes should be comfortable and ones that you can slip on and off. This makes going through security go so much smoother.

Yes, I’ve done this many times. Yes, I think that is the end of my advice rant. Yes, I haven’t posted in a long long time. I have been writing a novel.

8 responses to “How to fly

  1. How do you get hot water for the tea?

    Make sure any freshening toiletries you take in carry-on (including deodorant) are under 3.3 oz.

    Did I ever send you that list of SMBI stories?


    • Emily Smucker

      No, I never got the SMBI stories. 🙂 Getting hot water is VERY easy. The flight attendent or any resturant will give it to you for free.


  2. Wise advice! I’ve missed seeing your posts, but I’m glad you’ve been working on your novel. The more you work on it the sooner we all get to read it!


  3. Hmmm…I agree with most of what you say…but not all of it.

    One small paperback book is never going to be enough to entertain me. I’ll finish it in 2 hours, and then what am I gonna do for the next 3 hours of the flight? I read faster than you do, I realize…but any flight longer than 3 hours I would definitely recommend having something else along to occupy yourself with.

    A portable dvd player adds some weight but I would recommend bringing one. It makes long flights seem so much shorter, and was a total lifesaver when I was stuck in San Francisco overnight.

    Take your camera, especially if you have a window seat. Every time I didn’t bring my camera I wished that I had.

    Personally, I would say, unless you’ve got an awesome pair of slip-ons with amazing arch support, stick with your lace-up tennis shoes…I wore slip-on shoes once and hardly noticed any difference in security bother (they always have chairs there for you to sit on to put your shoes back on anyway) and they weren’t nearly as comfortable as my tennis shoes.

    Anyway…not to be all contradictory, but I believe I’ve flown even more than you have, and since I didn’t agree with everything you said, and since I’m your sister and a Smucker, I had to throw my opinions out there. 🙂


  4. Good points, Emz, altho as your mother I have to add a few things:
    I prefer to take a small fleece blanket rather than a coat. Although it’s not so nice when you’re stuck in Minneapolis overnight and stand on the curb with a Hello Kitty-type blanket around your shoulders, waiting for the shuttle.
    Gotta take a good pen so you can do the sudoku in Spirit magazine.
    And if your ears hurt with takeoff and landing you have to take Flents which are the best and coolest little earplugs ever and can be washed and reused.
    I think you and I and Amy all think we have flown the most, but we all know I have.
    [but I have yet to find the solution to Men in the Next Seat With Subtly Aggressive Elbows]


  5. tisagifttoreceive

    My life saver has been a big fleece scarf. It can be worn instead of a jacket, and used as a blanket, or pillow. I LOVE it.
    Good advice about bringing one book only. I’m one of those who brings several books just in case, and often they’re hard-covers for some reason, and then I wonder why the carry-on weighs 40 lbs.
    I wouldn’t check in my laptop, just because I’ve seen how those cases get abused.
    Flying trans-Atlantic, as I usually do, is a little different from domestic US flights, but wherever it is, I always think my pilot and his crew deserve my prayers on their behalf. And that’s the only solution I have for your poor mom beside the Man with Subtle Elbows–to ask God to arrange nice seatmates for me! He always has…


  6. Hey Emily. Read your book, it was fantastic. If I travel by plane anytime soon, I will definetly come back to this post. Have you ever read the Hunger Games series? A little bit of sappy romance, but it’s not too bad. Lots of action. If you have read them, that was kind of a waste, huh? well, ttyl, i hope.


  7. The iPod is DEFINITELY essential! And no, I never check my laptop, ever. Good stuff to keep in mind, though, thanks!!



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