Luggage, Layovers, and Long Flights Oh MY!

Dear readers,

This will be my first post not made in my home state of Kansas, and if you read the first post then you know it is by far not going to be the last because I am going to Scotland!

Me waiting in line for security


I began my day at 3:30 am where my mom and I did a last minute edit of what I was carrying onto the plane. Packing for a year is difficult when you have only one checked bag and two carry-ons. There is so much that I want to be prepared for and have on hand, but I simply do not have the space or weight limit to accommodate it all.

My flight from Kansas left at 6am which meant I had to be at the airport by 5:20am to get myself through security. From the KCI airport I landed in Newark, New Jersey where I have the odious layover of 9 hours. Yes I had to get up super early and yes I have to wait an insanely long time for my flight to Edinburgh, but it is always better to be super early for international flights rather than cutting it close. For domestic flights it is recommended that you arrive at least an hour before boarding, but international is a whole new ball game. For an international flight you want to be 3-4 hours early. The process for international travel generally takes longer and the line for security could be anywhere from a 5 minute to a 1 hour + wait.

Right now I am relaxing in the Newark airport, where I have hours to kill, but at least I am through security and my luggage is checked. Unfortunately I won’t be able to write anything from Scotland for one more day. I have traveled internationally multiple times so I thought I would cover tips on traveling now.

With international flights out of the USA you will generally get 1 free checked bag that you can fill as much as you want as long as it is less than 50 lbs., if it is just one ounce over something will have to come out or you are paying. You are also allowed your one carry-on and one personal item. Here are a few tricks to get more things onto a plane and just flying in general:

  • Have your carry-on be a duffle. Duffle bags can squish and form around other shapes so they won’t usually check to see if they meet the size requirements at the gate.
  • If you don’t have a duffel bag and your suitcase is a little bit over the size requirements it is okay. You can gate check your bag, which is free for most airlines.
Checking my luggage at KCI airport


If you want to bring a bulky coat, large pillow, or blanket do not pack them. Leave them out of the luggage and just carry them on. They will not count these items are your personal item or carryon. For instance, I am wearing a jacket but I am also carrying a trench coat and a pillow pet.

  • Wear your bulkiest items on the plane. This will free up space in your luggage and keep you warm because when in the air; airplanes are notoriously chilly.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You cannot bring a filled water bottle through security, so bring an empty one to fill up at the airport or buy one there. A day traveling on planes is not one where you want to be stuffing your face, but one where you want to be drinking a boat load of water. Think about it, you are sitting on a plane for 6+ hours with little to no movement, you will feel bloated and gross if you over eat or only eat carbs; so drink water and eat your fruits and veggies. Then you will feel fresh when you step off the plane.
  • International flights will have bigger planes and be more comfortable than the general domestic flight. So even though the flight will have movies, music, and games to entertain you try to use the comfort for your benefit and sleep. Wherever you are going is most likely going to have a huge time change so during the flight adjust your sleeping to that schedule so the jet lag won’t hit you as hard.
  • Finally bring Purell or hand wipes. Planes are full of germs and it is easy to pick up viruses while traveling, so use common sense and don’t touch your face and try to keep your area as clean as possible.

I hope these tips can help all you travelers out there. Be safe, pack carefully, and happy travels!


Helpful Hint: With layovers you will want at least an hour between flights. This is because if there are delays you do not want to be sprinting to your next fight or worse missing it.