Quick travel tip: Don’t hold too much

We’ve all been there. You think you have more time than you do, and you end up boarding the plane holding a latte, breakfast, your boarding pass, your phone, a magazine, and maybe your laptop—plus carrying your rollabord and briefcase. It’s a recipe for awkward maneuvers and accidental spills. Or for some, they plan it this way—they figure they would rather have everything out and ready to go, instead of fumbling around in their bag once they reach their seat.

It’s a fine balance—how to keep your items accessible and ready so that you don’t hold up the boarding line, but not be holding so many things that you can’t function. I’ve certainly erred on the side of too many things, getting to my seat just to stare at it and wonder how the heck I’m going to sit down without dropping everything. And remember the guy from a few weeks ago who got up three or four times in a five minute span to get stuff out of his bag? Don’t be that guy!

Here are a few strategies I try to keep in mind to avoid this problem.

Plan ahead. When packing, put the items you think you’ll need in an easily accessible part of your laptop bag. This can also be done (if you have time) at the gate while you wait for your flight.

Utilize pockets. Smaller stuff, like your boarding pass, phone, and book or eReader, can often go into the pockets on your pants (if you have them) or a convenient pocket on your laptop bag. It may not look that awesome, but it looks better than spilling your coffee on your shirt.

Use the tray table. If there is no one sitting in the seat next to me when I board, I will quickly open the tray table and use it to set my coffee on.

Get out of the way. If you’re sitting in an aisle seat, it’s relatively easy to set your briefcase and other items down on your seat, throw your rollaboard into the overhead bins, and move into your row to finish getting organized. If you’re in the window seat or middle seat, it’s quite a bit harder.

It’s pretty easy to figure out if you don’t have a beverage, but getting into a window or aisle seat can be tricky when you’re holding coffee. Even if you only have your suitcase, personal item, and coffee, it seems hard. Honestly, I’m just not sure what the most graceful way to handle the situation is. I know that if I were sitting in the aisle, I would be happy to hold someone’s beverage while they put their bag in the bins. But I’m not sure I would feel comfortable asking someone to hold mine. Hmmmmm. I’ll have to think more on this.

Readers, any suggestions?

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  1. I am a complete coffee addict but I always toss it before boarding. I have a small carry on and a purse to stow and that is enough to handle. More than that and I feel like I’m taking too much time boarding (a HUGE pet peeve of mine). Drink it down and get on the plane.

  2. We’re not allowed to board in Australia with coffee in hand! So I use my Starbucks travel mug & keep it in my carry-on until I’m in the seat.

  3. If you have to take coffee aboard then put it into a leakproof travel mug like this onehttp://www.lifeventure.co.uk/products/cookware/thermal-mugs.html. You can throw it in your bag until you reach your seat.

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