When I read about the new ban on laptops, tablets and other electronics being carried in hand luggage on many US airlines, and now in the UK too due to security concerns, I was horrified. How would I get any work done on long haul flights? How would parents keep their kids amused (ahem... 'quiet') if they can't plug them into something? What if the inflight entertainment is poor and I want to watch a movie to pass the time?
I travel often, both in connection with my work as a Psychologist, Business Consultant and Life & Career Coach, but also for leisure. In fact, I love travelling so much that I recently started a new hobby as a travel blogger and set up an online travel magazine called The Wanderlust Post. It started as a secret passion project, somewhere for me to share my travel tales with friends and family, and then I realised I could build a friendly community of other travel bloggers who could share their travel stories and blogs in the same space. It's nice to have friends after all, even online, who are interested in the same things as you.
The trouble is, having a busy career and a hobby I'm passionate about, doesn't leave me with much time. In fact, it's usually when I'm on board a flight that I get some good one-on-one time with my trusty laptop, so for someone like me, and I'm sure many others, this electronics ban could be a real inconvenience.
Then the psychologist in me started to think about this from a different perspective. If we can't take our laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras and other chunky electronic equipment into the cabin with us, what will do instead?
We'll Have to Carry Real Books Again
The first thing that occurred to me was that if I can't take my tablet or e-reader, I'll have to carry a paperback book again. I can't remember the last time I read from a real life book, and that's really saying something considering I'm also a University Lecturer. Would it be such a bad thing to have to carry an actual novel? To flick through some real pages again? For those wanting to travel light you could always drop them off at a book exchange point, or simply give it away to someone at your destination when you've finished with it.
We'll Improve Our Handwriting
Then there's being able to be productive in some way. Long haul flights are by their very nature, long, and many people travelling on business, or keen to write up their adventures for a blog, need to be productive during that time. I don't know about you but I'm so unused to holding a pen these days that after writing by hand for a while I feel the strain. Since the art of handwriting is declining, would it be such a bad thing if we have to carry a notebook and practice putting pen to paper while on board? Maybe we could even take the time to pen a love letter to someone? I still have all the love letters I received from boyfriends from over twenty years ago. Emails, no matter how romantic, just don't stand the test of time. So maybe use your flight to write that letter you know someone would love to receive?
We'll Have to Talk To Our Children
What about keeping children entertained on board? I remember back when portable DVD players were introduced. My children were young at the time and I thought these devices were sent from heaven. However, now that they're grown and have flown the nest, I do wonder how much time I actually lost with them. Time when we could have been chatting, or I could have been watching them colour something in. Maybe spending a flight playing a card game, drawing, or just chatting wouldn't be such a bad thing?
Maybe We'll Make Friends?
Finally, if we are not all looking down at our laptops or tablets, maybe we'll look up more, and perhaps we'll even talk to each other? I've taken several trips in my life when, for whatever reason, I didn't have access to my various devices. It's those trips on which I invariably made friends, and I mean real-life friends, not online ones. Several years ago I took a bus tour through Jordan and I got chatting to a lovely couple, we're still really good friends today. I also travelled in the US and made several friends who I have been back to stay with. I would never have met them if I'd been plugged into my laptop that's for sure.
My point is, whilst there is undoubtedly going to be some inconvenience having to fly without access to our laptops and other devices due to these new security restrictions, there could also be many hidden advantages. Those few hours spent inflight could lead you to come home with more than just another souvenir that'll be thrown in the back of a cupboard. By looking up, you might actually come home with a new friend.
Honey Langcaster-James is a Psychologist, Life & Career Coach, Lecturer, Media Commentator and 'secret' Travel Blogger. She makes regular appearances on radio and TV and is best known for her role as resident psychologist on Big Brother and Love Island. She is one of the top 100 most followed psychologists on Twitter Honey writes about travel on The Wanderlust Post and also has a positive psychology and lifestyle blog at www.LifeAndHowToLoveIt.com