Travel With Dignity

I‘ve been putting the packing activity off forever until the last minute. I have piled everything I know I am taking home in the bedroom corner for days, but every time I wanted to start, I just couldn’t be bothered. Plus I’ve got zillion things to do in the last minute, as usual. This comes from someone who claims that she’s organized. D’oh.

But finally I’ve done it. I finished it a couple of hours a go, and I’m ready for flying back home at tomorrow’s first flight. Since this time is special because I’m having a do in August, I come back with so many things I buy from here. I pray that Indonesian custom wouldn’t check my luggage, because along 6 pieces of paper napkins with tartan motif and the fabric from curtain leftover which I plan to make tiebacks out of it, I have too many things they would consider strange. Like two handbags but almost non-existent clothes. Yeah, yeah, I’m weird.

Since the airport and airline security are tightened more than ever, I reluctantly went to check on each airline’s regulation and Aberdeen airport regulation, just to make sure that my suitcase is according to the airline regulation, and check how many hand bags I can carry to cabin. Early this month my friend Tamara, who is traveling to Rome, NY, Las Vegas, San Fransisco and God knows where else, told me a disturbing news that she, a first class passenger, is only allowed to carry 23 kg luggage! So I have to check whether my allowance is shrunk to be probably 5kg, but thank God, it’s still the same, otherwise I have to say goodbye to Tunnock’s Teacake

I‘ve learned from my previous experience that airport prefers us to pass the security check naked if they could apply such regulation, so they try to strip us off as much as they can. And after so many embarrassing incidents, I know better, if not all, tricks to keep my dignity intact in the airport and during the journey. I don’t dream to get off the plane looking fantastic like Angeline Jolie, but at least I hope my hair is still in place and my face isn’t swollen and I don’t look like a bag lady.

And here’s what I’ve found so far:

  • Don’t wear boots. They would ask you to take them off. Unlike American airports which always ask people to take their shoes off, Amsterdam, for example doesn’t apply such rule, unless you are seen wearing boots. Imagine the scene of a tiny Indonesian girl with two hands full of a bright green suitcase and an oversize handbag trying to take her knee high boots and finding a balance at the same time. With impatient people waiting behind. Not pretty. Plus, your boots might look excellent in winter countries but once you land in a tropical country like Singapore, you’d look like a lost hooker. Believe me. I’ve been there.
  • As there’s always a chance that they’d ask you to take your shoes off, you might want to wear socks rather than going commando – I mean, bare feet – if you’re hygiene freak and consider the airport floor yucky. If you decide to wear socks, wear a nice pair. Nothing more embarrassing than having the security guard asked you to take your shoes off and everybody could see your toes peeping from your sad socks.
  • Better to wear slip-on shoes. Easy to take them off, as you wouldn’t let the people behind you waiting for you taking your shoelace or buckle off.
  • Beware of smelly feet. Make sure when you take your shoes off, the sniffer dog wouldn’t think it finds illegal herbs.
  • Forget accessories. Unless you wear gemstones (see, there’s a reason why women love diamonds), or something non-metal, leave your bangles and necklace in your jewel bag in the luggage. The will ask to take your belt off too, so you might want to consider wearing something that can hang still on your hips without your belt on.
  • Forget beauty tip of taking your water bottle everywhere so you can achieve 8-glasses-a-day target. They wouldn’t let you, and sometimes you’re lucky to find a vending machine in the boarding room. If you can’t, it means you’re at the flight attendant’s mercy. Singapore Airlines is good as they distribute drink every few hours. KLM will leave you dry no matter how polite or how rude you ask. Good luck.
  • Women, forget the urge to compete with flight attendants in beauty department. They can carry full make-up bags. You are only allowed to take your beauty secret liquids in 20×20 cm bag. Just carry the essential, and hope you don’t bump into Brad Pitt or your ex-boyfriend along the way.
  • If you travel alone, never, and I repeat, never, carry a suitcase which you couldn’t lift up to your overhead cabin. For years I have had always someone helped me. With a little bit of smile and a helpless look, there’s always some guy who likes to be my saviour and lift my baggage up to the overhead cabin. But my last trip back home from Amsterdam, this damn Spanish couple just looked at me whilst I was struggling to lift my green suitcase up, and the guy only asked, “do you need a hand?” while he was sitting on the window side without even move. Bastard. Or maybe his girlfriend’s fingernails were deeply dug in his arms because he stared too hard at my, ahem, chest. Forget the flight attendants too. They’re not porters. Their manicured hands aren’t trained for dirty jobs.
  • It’s a good thing to bring at least some underwear and other essentials in your hand carry baggage. There’s a chance your luggage gets lost somewhere in the air, and you are left without anything unless clothes that stick on your body at the moment. So anything in your hand baggage can come to the rescue. It has happened to me several times especially if I used two airlines on my journey and the counter assistant was not too brilliant, and I was left with no clothes for a day or two.

My time is up now, I have to get up at 3.30 AM alarm, darn!, so I will have to stop. You might want to check out Andie Summerkiss and Toni Wahid for more travel experience.

Happy holiday everybody. And see you in Indonesia – let me know if you’re in Eastern Promise and Cazbar because those are my favorite spots.





  1. Life of a modern woman is tough.

    It seems sailing from here to Indonesia in the seventeenth century was more comfortable than going there by plane is now. No customs, no airport security in those days. Only water, fresh air,the company of sturdy sailors, breezy winds and scurvy.

    Anyhow, I hope, well I’m sure, you will survive the journey and have a great time in Jakarta and surroundings. And please don’t forget to come back to cold and damp NW Europe.

  2. Colson is right, travel without hectic formalitis would be enjoyable compare to nowadays. Great tips Anita and I can’t stop smiling with smelly feet. Have a safe trip and welcome back again to Indonesia and enjoy.

  3. Andie Summerkiss says:

    I love this post!

    I am still waiting on your tips. How to take off shoes gracefully at the security check point, Anita?

    Please please share …

  4. Finally Woken says:

    @Colson: I know! I love the sturdy sailors part, hmm.. :)

    @Toni: thank you. At the moment I’m at the boarding room in Singapore, heading to Jakarta. I haven’t slept for 33 hours. No, I’m not cranky – just broke, since there’s a great sale season here.

    @Andi: my dear, that’s why you should invest on a good pair of slip-on shoes. Tod’s loafers for example *wink

  5. the writer says:

    Last January when I was in Amsterdam to catch a plane home, I didn’t need to take my boots off. Maybe the regulation is changed?

    About the water, there’s water tap by the toilet’s outside wall (assuming if you’re taking KLM) You can just ask for an empty plastic glass and fill it yourself or you can always sneak in to the pantry to “steal” some peanuts, chocolates and orange juice, the stewardess, unfortunately, won’t mind if you turn up in the pantry at 2am :)

  6. Kampret Nyasar says:

    I remember those days when traveling to and from NY, gosh! the security has been a great hurdles.

    Travel light, that’s what saves me from all of those.

  7. Finally Woken says:

    @The Writer: ah, but how about people who travel to Europe? My mother went to UK with KLM and didn’t get water even though she had been asking for hours. A friend traveled from Israel back to Singapore and had to argue that she, already provided an empty bottle, was entitled to have some water filled up, and the flight attendant only had to fill it up with water.But the flight attendant kept saying she had to throw the bottle (why??), and after looong argument and long face, finally did what my friend asked. I, on the other hand, always stick with SQ.

    @Kampret nyasar: I imagine if you travel with your uniform, must be real hassle to take everything off and put them back on again. But again, you’re a guy, you don’t feel the need to bring eye cream, night cream, face mask and everything else…

  8. the writer says:

    Bener mbak, KLM dari Indonesia ke Eropa emang agak rese. Pengalaman terakhir akhir bulan Januari kemarin, bikin aku mau nabok salah satu staff lokalnya yang bercokol di airport saking nggak sopannya sama customer. Ah sudahlah, mungkin aku juga harus pindah ke SQ (sayang sih, miles nya udah banyak :(

  9. bonnie2405 says:

    the writer:
    time to use your miles then with KLM. Never really got bad experience with KLM flying from JKT to NL. But not really a top service one should add. SQ still the best…Malaysia Airlines also good one.

    Don’t forget not to wear flip flop when you fly back to Aberdeen :) I did that twice..I totally forgot to actually wear warm shoes..and when I arrived in Schiphol (May here in NL not always sunny and pleasant most of the time wet and cold), had to immediately open my luggage there to change shoes (hehehe) stupid me..

  10. Love, love, love this! Will add this to my linky love post 😉
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  1. […] write tips and tricks, I don’t have many candidates for this category. I could only think of Travel With Dignity post, which lists several things we could prepare so we wouldn’t be embarrassed for having […]

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