Going on a flight overseas is especially different these days because of the flight restrictions since 9/11. Just know that you still have lots of options, even if you’re dealing with food restrictions. Here are things I would suggest to have on-hand:
- Meals and some snacks for any flight lasting more than 3 hours. You may not think you’ll eat that much, but better safe than sorry. Airplane food is gross and should not be eaten if you care about your health. Remember, you’ll have to be to your flight at least an hour early and depending on where you live, you may be traveling for quite a distance to get there. The typical options I might bring would be a sandwich, Jamaican beef patties, nuts and dried fruit, granola, cracklings, nitrate-free salami or ham (pre-sliced), slices of hard cheese (soft cheese or butter may be confiscated as a gel/cream!), a piece of fruit etc. Of course as many of these as possible should be homemade, but definitely choose items you’d feel comfortable bringing in a plastic bag (and at room temperature for many hours) for the inspectors to see. Bring enough for the whole family. I travel to Europe typically, so bringing food for dinner and again something for breakfast is crucial.
- A tiny bottle of lotion. No more than 3 oz. to comply with flight restrictions. Airplanes are dry and you’ll appreciate it come morning.
- A toothbrush. Even if you don’t think you’ll sleep on the plane, a toothbrush can be a welcome thing after several hours in the dry stagnant air of the plane.
- Warm clothing. I don’t care if it’s the middle of the summer and 110 degrees where you live. The plane will get cold at some point and those little blankets they give you don’t cover jack! A sweater or jacket is good and wear jeans or something long on your legs if possible.
- Games, books, computer, puzzles, or a craft. You’ll need something to do and often the movie screen in front of you will malfunction or someone has already done the crossword in the in-flight magazine, so be prepared for downtime and make the best use of that time with a project to keep you busy.
- Medications or necessary supplements. If you have a condition that requires medication or supplements, make sure you bring enough for the plane. You can pack it in a baggie. Even if you don’t, some people find a megadose of high quality vitamin C such as amalaki powder mixed into water (the flight attendant will have bottled water) is good for keeping any viruses circulating on the plane in check.
- If you’re traveling with small children, make sure they have all of the above. In addition, don’t forget to pack things such as diapers if they’re really young (ours sat on a chair near the front door at home the first time we traveled with our daughter — not fun trying to find diapers in rural France on a Sunday where everything was closed — luckily we found one Arabic store opened).
- If you are breastfeeding your child, nursing him or her during take-off is a good way to prevent their ears from clogging. As a last resort, if they are old enough, chewing a piece of gum during take off (and then promptly spitting it out after a few minutes)
What not to bring on your flight?
- Leave your knives at home. When I went to Jamaica, somehow I went there and came back with a small pocket knife in my purse (didn’t know it was there until I got home). If you need one when you get to the other side, pack it in your checked luggage.
- More than 3 oz. of liquids, creams or gels. Hotel-sized bottles are great for lotion and any other small amounts of liquid or cream you may need.
- When returning to the US, make sure that any food you purchase for the flight is consumed before landing on US soil. The American government does not want fresh food of any kind coming onto American soil. (And they can’t figure out why degenerative disease is so rampant!) You may laugh, but I once ended up on a “contaminated” line and had all my bags scanned when I declared a pear from France that I had forgotten to eat. Their high tech equipment for disposing of the offending fruit was a garbage can with a Hefty bag in it.
This should pretty much sum up what you can take on your flight. If I haven’t covered something, drop me a line. I’ll be glad to update the page with answers to your questions.