An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Travelling with your beading – a packing list, do’s, don’ts and never say never

Over the past 10 years I have done lots of beading on long haul flights between Australia and the rest of the world. Post 9/11 I have had to change my beading packing list a little to ensure it meets airline and airport security requirements – I still can cut thread but have a ‘daisy-wheel’ cutter that comes with me. I wrote myself a beading packing list after forgetting to take thread with me on a flight between Melbourne and London. This left me bereft of beading for the 21 hour plus flight and it made me determined to never do that again. So, here’s my packing list:
  • Needles - lots of spares (at least 10) that go in a very light wooden needle case.
  • Thread – to match whatever I am beading but only the small spools to keep the pack light.
  • Clover thread cutter and a spare (see photo). I put a cutter on a lanyard that I can hang around my neck during the flight. It saves fiddling around in the dark for the cutter. If you just Google 'Clover thread cutter' you'll find places to buy one if you don't own one already.
  • A small tray for putting the beads in and a plastic bag for locking it away. My favorite tray was given to me by a flight attendant some years ago.
  • My beads (more than I think I need) and always now placed in a plastic zip bag inside a second zip bag for security.
  • My beading case which contains all of the above. It is essential that it has a lid that can be snapped closed in the blink of an eye and that it can fit easily into the seat pocket.
  • A strong elastic band (and a spare) that can secure the beading case, just in case the closure breaks or lets you down.
  • A small magnet that can be used to pick up a needle if you drop it – it can help you to find a needle at a distance and in poor light.
  • A headlamp with small coin batteries (the one’s camper’s and caver’s use) for extra light. Booklights can work but they are harder to control and can fall into your beads.
  • Spare batteries for the headlamp.
  • Spare plastic zip bags.
Beading on flights not only passes the time but it often generates some interesting conversations. From flight attendants to Extreme Metal rock stars (see an earlier blog) I’ve found people curious to know about what I am doing, intrigued by what can be created using tiny glass seed beads and pensive (and sometimes apprehensive) about what might happen if I drop the beads. I have always confidently reassured them that I have sound strategies to avoid beads flying through the air or peppering the walkways. Through experience I have built a list of beading rules for flights that have served me well.
  • Do put beads in small light containers that can be kept in a second container for extra security. Beads in plastic bags have a habit of breaking open or splitting just at the wrong moment. So, I always put them in inside a second ‘security’ bag. The same for small light plastic containers.
  • Do only put a small number of beads on your working surface at any one time – then if you do drop them it’s not such a disaster.
  • Don’t ever bead during take off or landing, unless you are feeling adventurous.
  • Do have a quick way to cover your beadwork in case your neighbour suddenly has to dash to the toilet – I have my beads in a small case whose lid comes down at moment’s movement from the nearby passengers.
  • Do be alert to flight attendants about to serve meals and drinks – they can pounce a meal tray or packet of peanuts on your beadwork without even noticing that it’s there.
  • Do be turbulence vigilant and ready to secure your beads speedily and do believe the captain when they warn of turbulence. The captain is often right.
  • Don’t bother with peyote patterns – the light will never be good enough, there’s never enough room to spread them out and you’ll probably sit next to someone who will talk to you every time you try to follow the pattern.
  • Do take some additional lighting with you– the lighting always dims the moment you start beading and if there is a broken light on the flight it will be above your seat. I have had a broken light above my seat more than once on long haul flights between Australia and Europe. It's a long time to squint at beading.
  • Do remember your glasses if like me you can't even see the beads without them. Sometimes in an emergency you can buy a spare pair of 'travel glasses' from the airlines in-flight shop magazine but it's an expensive way to bead!
  • Do watch for small children who are bored and wandering around the aisles. Your beadwork is bound to be a beacon for them.
  • Do establish early in the flight if the person in front of you is a sudden seat lurcher - wait for take off and the moment when everyone puts their seat back to find that out. Then you can be prepared for them.
These strategies had served me well until a flight across the Tasman yesterday from Australia to New Zealand. I had confidently told cabin staff I had never dropped by beads only moments before I realised why people say ‘never say never’. You see it became clear that I had never dropped my beads before because I had never sat next to an eight-year old person before. She proved to be far more unpredictable than any turbulence I had experienced and much quicker than any cabin staff serving meals. So, I have a new rule to add to my list – Do avoid all beading when eight-year old people are sitting next to you!

Do you have any beading rules for travelling? What do you pack when you bead and travel? Would love to hear.


Sophie Bonnee said...

Thank you for a fantastic post! I've always wondered if it would be possible to bead on a plane, especially with tighter regulations on hand-luggage. Have you ever had any difficulty taking beading needles onboard before? I once spent hours with Google (other search engines are available....) and the carry-on luggage regulations of virtually every airline but I could find nothing about sewing needles. SO very frustrating!

Foxan said...

This was actually very educating!
And fun to read, as always!

I have not travelled with my beading yet, but perhaps I should give it a try! If I ever get to travel without children that is ;)

Marsha Wiest-Hines said...

Great post Glenda and food for thought. Those of us who suffer from motion sickness can only rarely bead... I think your kit should include dramamine!

Rose Works Jewelry said...

Thats a very impressive list! Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom with us!

Glenda of Dax Designs said...

Sophie - I have never had any trouble taking needles on board but I think it's at the discretion of the staff on board around these things. I have flown several different airlines without difficulties and certainly managed to bead flying in the USA... but I should remember to say 'never say never!' Good luck with the beading if you try.

Glenda of Dax Designs said...

Marsha - will definitely add motion sickness pills to the list for the future. Thanks for the suggestion. That must be hard for you.

The Beading Gem said...

Great list! I just twittered it.

Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op