Saturday, March 13, 2010

Travel Light(er)

Traveling and being environmentally conscious aren't two things that readily go together.  When planning for my recent trip to LA, I started to "freak-out."  It's been a couple of years since I've flown... and this trip was a short one, so the plan was to pack light and not check a bag.  (I've never not checked a bag!)  Now with all of the rules about what can and can't be brought through a TSA checkpoint, I felt that I was going to have to bend a little and "give-up" some of my ways... I proved to myself that with a little planning and thinking outside the usual... that I didn't have to change my ways ;)

The 3 oz Rule

I, seriously, was not going out to buy little individual 3 oz (crap... I mean paraben-laden) products.  So my mind immediately thought about they seriously have everything.  About as quickly as I thought it... I went to their site and searched "shampoo".  Up popped GoToobs.  "I knew it!!!"  I hesitated for a moment about whether or not to buy them... they are a bit pricey... but then I thought to myself... I'll have these for years to come... and in the long run... it's better for my wallet and the environment.  So I, obviously, bought them.  AND they are quite handy... because they're made from silicone the product (in my case shampoo and conditioner) doesn't stick to the inside of the tube toob.  (On a side note, I didn't want to put my facial cleanser in one of the Toobs... the shortness of the trip didn't warrant it... SO... I packed a bar of my favorite Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.)  

The Zip-Lock Bag (Suggestion)

Another thing that I didn't want to buy into was a zip-lock bag.  Online it's stated that all liquids should be placed in a quart sized zip-lock bag.  Sure I have some saved from whenever my kids bring them home from school... but I really didn't want to support the practice of using a disposable product.  Years ago, I received a lotion set that came in a small clear bag complete with a zipper.  Knowing that I didn't have much room, I packed only what I 2 GoTubes, contact solution, mascara, toothpaste, and shay butter (btw... it can be used for everything!).  Put it in my carry-on bag... and sailed through the TSA screening without a zip-lock bag :)

NO Bottles of Water (or soda, vitamin water, gatorade... pick your favorite)

Not that I buy bottled water, of course!  But, with all these rules...I feared I would be without a reusable water bottle for my whole trip.  Having made the commitment to not buy bottled water... I was a little panicked  about the thought of not having my Sigg to refill.  I searched all over USAirways' website... where I read that waterbottles were prohibited... WHAT???  I then went to the TSA website... where I couldn't find anything about reusable waterbottles... HMMM.  So, I picked up the phone and called TSA.... AND... YES!!  Reusable waterbottles are permitted!!  Woohoo... can't tell you how excited I was to learn that!  So I packed my small (empty) Sigg in my carry-on bag.  I refilled it countless times... water fountains in Wilmington, Charlotte and LA... and then again with water from a soda fountain in Charlotte.... not to mention all of the times I refilled it during my stay in LA.

Did I mention that water fountains are free??  (Free of charge AND Free of plastic) 

Also, I'll admit that as I saw people watch me refilling my Sigg...  I wondered if they thought, "Hey!  That's a good idea!  Why didn't I think of that??"  :)

MY Rule

Before my flight boarded in Wilmington, I made a quick trip to the restroom... no in-flight bathroom breaks for me.  Even with only 8 minutes to spare before I got on the Charlotte flight to LAX, I headed to the restroom.  During the 5 hour (?) flight to LA, the girls next to me kept saying "Are you sure you don't have to go??"  Nope.  Here's why:  Using the in-flight restroom requires energy for powering the toilet.  AND... every flush on an airplane requires about the same energy as is required to propel a vehicle about 6 miles!!  Ahh... another commitment.  The tight spaces of the airplane restrooms are-- in my opinion-- for emergency (and little kids) only ;)

SO... going through the TSA checkpoint was a breeze.  My bag wasn't searched... I wasn't questioned about anything.  I made it through 4 flights not once using the in-flight lavatory ;)  I did, however, make a decision about something that I can be prepared for next time.  I brought snacks to eat on the plane, but... I hadn't thought about buying food at the airport (or on the plane).  The packaging and price is absolutely ridiculous.  So next time I will pack my own** waste-free lunch (or dinner) to eat on the plane.  **This idea was made possible because I saw someone do it.  Thanks to the "Navy Boy" who sat next to me for 4 1/2 hours.... who made and brought his own lunch :)

My advice: Don't know what you can and can't take through a TSA checkpoint??  Don't make assumptions... find out for yourself.  Go to their website... research...and if you can't find what you're looking for??  Pick up the phone and call them.  They were super nice and in my case very helpful!