The days of throwing stuff in a suitcase, rushing off to the airport, and jumping on an airplane are long behind us. Now we have to remove our shoes to get through security and limit the amount of shampoo and lotion packed in our carry-on. Deciding what we want to pack for our trip to wherever requires us to consider the question, can I take this on a plane?
The way you pack colored pencils to take them on a plane all depends on whether you are checking your bag versus carrying it on board with you. Baggage handlers are not always the gentle creatures we would like them to be, tossing our belongings haphazardly into cargo bays. How you pack them in your carry-on bag will be determined by whether or not you plan to use them on the plane, which creates a whole list of other things to consider.
Packing Colored Pencils for Travel
How you pack your colored pencils for traveling, whether by plane, train, or car, is about protecting the pencils from getting broken or otherwise damaged. Traveling by airplane means you have to decide if your precious cargo is riding in the belly of the plane or catching the flight in the cabin, making a big difference in how they’re packed.
Checked Bag Procedures and Precautions
Your checked luggage will be one of the 1.4 million bags screened that day by TSA agents in search of explosives or other dangerous items. All checked bags are sent through an automated system of scanners and screening devices with only 10% of bags getting flagged as suspicious and in need of being hand-searched by an agent. It is highly unlikely that a suitcase containing colored pencils will cause any alerts so chances are your bag will make it passed this point unscathed.
However, a checked bag passes through several sets of hands during its journey before returning to yours, provided it makes it to the final destination. Fortunately, there is only about a half percent chance a major airline will lose your bag according to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Transportation. That means the only real concern you have about packing your colored pencils in a checked bag is the chance of breakage due to the careless treatment of the suitcase by baggage handlers.
Opting to Pack Them in Your Carry-on
Choosing to put your colored pencils in your carry-on bag will certainly reduce the number of hands that come in contact with your bag. When opting for this mode of travel, the ease of accessing the colored pencils primarily depends on whether you plan to use them during any portion of your trip. You may have a long layover or perhaps an even longer flight where you’ll want something to do to pass the time.
If you are planning to color with your colored pencils while in the airport terminal and/or on the plane, it’s a good idea to keep your colored pencils neat and organized in a colored pencil case. This will help you keep track of all of your colored pencils and any tools like a pencil sharpener so that you don’t misplace anything. You will also need to take into consideration how to pack the paper or coloring book you will need for drawing or coloring.
Coloring on an Airplane
There are several factors to contemplate when it comes to choosing to use your colored pencils while on the airplane. Some may be completely out of your control while others may be planned for in advance. Additionally, you will need to consider how your desire to color during the flight will affect your seatmates sitting next to you.
The first thing you should think about when deciding whether or not you will be coloring on the airplane is the duration of the flight. If you are only flying a short distance where flight times are in minutes versus hours, there is no point in planning to do any coloring. So if you’ve hopped a flight from San Francisco to wine country in Santa Rosa, the 16 minutes you’ll be in the air is certainly not enough time to sharpen all your pencils let alone color.
If however, you find yourself booked on an unbearably long flight like the 18 hours it takes to get from Singapore to Newark, having your favorite colored pencils on hand will help pass the time nicely. Of course, being able to use your colored pencils on a long flight such as this may be grounded for any number of other reasons, the first of which is how much room you have around you while sitting in your seat.
Flight Factors to Consider
The amount of personal space you have on a flight varies from plane to plane and from airline to airline. In addition, being seated in first class on some planes often offers more room per passenger than flying in coach. However, some airlines have decided to trade in personal comfort for cramming more people onto the plane, thus reducing the amount of personal space one has on a flight.
There will, of course, be those lucky times when you happen to be on a flight with relatively few passengers and find the seats around you to be empty. This is the most ideal situation when flying, especially on extra-long flights. Not having anyone sitting next to you when you’re trying to color means they won’t accidentally bump you while you’re working nor will you be a bother to anyone else.
If however, you do find yourself seated next to one or more people but still have room to work, having a surface area on which to color becomes the next issue you will need to tackle. Trying to use the tiny tray table attached to the seat in front of you poses two potential problems, too small of a surface area with which to work and the potential for unexpected movement of the table when the passenger of that seat gets up or decides to recline back.
The final inflight factor to consider is another one where you have no control over the situation and that is how smooth the flight goes. You may find that your flight path is headed for stormy weather which may make for a bumpy ride. On that same note, a flight may be too rough for coloring due to those sneaky turbulence that can come out of nowhere. No one wants to be cautiously coloring a highly detailed portion of a picture only to have their colored pencil wildly fly across the page because the airplane suddenly shook like a midair earthquake.
What is Not Allowed on a Plane
Working with colored pencils on a plane is perfectly fine but there are some colored pencil tools you will need to leave at home. Sharpening your colored pencils while on a plane requires a bit of consideration regarding the type of sharpener you plan to bring. To be considerate of those passengers seated around you, using a pencil sharpener that keeps the pencil shavings collected is highly recommended. And bringing your trusty knife to sharpen your colored pencils is a big no-no on any airline.
The other colored pencil tool that won’t be traveling with you on any flights is solvents used for blending colors. The three most commonly used solvents when working with colored pencils are rubbing alcohol, odorless mineral spirits, and turpentine. Two of the three solvents pose a problem simply because of the noxious fumes they release into the air. All three of them are not going to be allowed on a plane because they are both a liquid and they are flammable, making them a danger to those on board the plane. An alternative to using solvents for blending is to use water or a blending pencil, but it may just be easier overall to save coloring projects that require blending for when you are back on the ground.
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