Flying with Flowers

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

There’s a thing I do sometimes when traveling that might seem a little silly. It started a few years ago on a trip to Seattle. I was walking through Pike Place market ogling all the gorgeous flowers. It was March so there were a lot of tulips with beautiful greens in big bunches lined up along the arcade. I love visiting farmer’s markets when I travel to see what kinds of fruits and flowers are native to a place, but I never used to buy them  when on the road because it seemed like such a waste. I have a real frugal streak and I hated the idea of paying for something that might not even last 24 hours.

It was particularly stupid to spend money on flowers that day in March. I knew I was taking a redeye back to New York that night, and that the flowers would have to sit in the car through a long day of interviews even before that. But maybe because it had been a rough month for me, maybe because they just were so bright and effusive, I plunked down my $15 and walked out with a giant armful of blooms.

It was a mild hassle to travel with them. The flight was full and so was the overhead, so I ended up sitting with them on my lap the whole way home. That sounds miserable, but actually, every time my eyes opened as I shifted positions in that cramped seat, I looked down and thought, “Well, at least I have flowers.” And surprisingly, they survived looking not much the worse for wear, and they brightened my apartment for a week.

I was reminded of that first trip as I navigated the airport a couple of weeks with a huge bunch of dahlias. Yet again, I was in Pike Place, and yet again I couldn’t resist. Plus, it felt nice to support the farmers that grow all that beauty and truck it down into the city at dawn every day. The thing about flying with flowers is, despite the hassle, it makes up for it in joy. People smile at you when they see a bright bunch of flowers in an ugly airport. The TSA agents and flight attendants crack lame jokes like, “For me? You shouldn’t have!” It lightens the mood all around, and it lightened my mood too. A walk through the airport is no leisurely stroll home from the market in Provence, but the flowers give it like 1% of that vibe. And sometimes that 1% is enough.

Do you have any tricks for making air travel more joyful? I’d be so curious to hear them!

September 25th, 2016


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    Discussion (3 Comments)

  1. JuliA on October 1, 2016

    Such a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Ingrid Fetell Lee on October 1, 2016

      Thanks so much, Julia! Glad you liked it!

  2. Anne Ferguson on December 18, 2018

    My traveling in style and ease tips: My sister and I hiked England during the 80’s and we discovered the chapel in the midst of international chaos in the airport. It was so quiet and peaceful featuring a great many objects honoring various religions which gave it such relaxing energy that we were nearly rejuvenated from our jet lag.

    The chapel in Washington state had a giant photo of the ocean with rows of metal
    chairs, The room was darkened and it too was restful.

    Two of my top favorites were: San Francisco’s glass room within a room, It had wall
    to wall carpet inviting kids to run around and roll around,,,Yoga’s to go thru their routines as well as meditators and despite my age and gender, I had my legs up the
    wall with my eyes closed in bliss. The outer room has an almost 360 view of the far hills.
    Hawaii has been my other favorite. Probably because it is an outside Asian garden with a teahouse and curved bridges over a stream.Benches on which to sit and enjoy the birdsong and flowers.

    Hard not to mention Albany, NY as it has an art gallery upstairs,,,where you can watch planes and/or view paintings between flights.

    If it hasn’t been done since, I think a book with photos of the chapels would be a great
    gift to those who must travel when there are so many delays due to weather.

    The other feel good thing to do when traveling is to see who you can help. There are
    always those who don’t speak English looking wildly anxious about where
    to go next. It’s my payback for having been helped in so many foreign countries.

    You would have brightened my trip just seeing you with the flowers!!I wore a lei
    of marijuana leaves (innocently)coming back from Kauai,and wondered why I
    had so many people beaming at me. (including airport security guys)


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