A Look Inside My Carry-On... Travel Tips for a Smooth Flight

Before I write this post, let’s get one thing straight. I’m not “that girl” who has her carry-on kit packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice, containing all of the perfect things for a perfect flight. Nope, I’m the girl who has every good intention, but scrambles at the 11th hour with questions like, “Awe, *^@#. Where the hell is my European converter? Is that what you call that thing?” Then I end up not finding said item, and run out to get it, effectively making myself crazy in the process. This happens with a lot of items in my packing, not just my carry-on.

But today, we’re focusing on packing a great carry-on. The list below are items I’ve learned I need (yes, need) by trial and error. Sometimes I have all of these things, sometimes not. But that’s okay. Hopefully my forgetting can be a lesson for both you and me in the future.

  1. Top of the list… hand sanitizer and wipes. Bacteria, it seems, gets a lot of frequent flier miles. Ugh - I just read about a study reporting that airplane germs can live up to a week, and are basically found all over the plane. Contact with this nasty bacteria can lead to even nastier sicknesses like E-Coli or worse. So, while you may look like a major freak if you come on strong Haz-Mat team-style, it doesn’t hurt to bring some sanitizing wipes for your tray and arm rest, and always (always!) pack a good hand sanitizer that you use often. I like this one by Grove Collaborative (try Grove here)- it’s sized right for travel, is all natural, smells great, AND moisturizes thanks to the coconut oil in its impressive list of ingredients.

  2. Food & Water. There is nothing, nothing worse than being on a flight (which always has the possibility to be delayed either on the ground or in the air) and not having water or snacks close by. Because of this, I always carry my HydroFlask (OMG you can customize yours here) or if I forget mine, I cave and buy a giant water (for like ten bucks) near the gate. I’m also sure to carry my favorite snacks - cashews, Lara Bars, Enjoy Life protein balls - that I order online from Thrive Market. And, I’ll be honest, while I have yet to purchase a salad or other healthy meal in the airport to eat in lieu of airplane food, it’s something I always #regret when the dinner cart rolls by. Turns out there are a lot of options for a gluten free “pretty much vegan” gal like me at most airports.

  3. Got misophonia? I do, and in case you’re wondering, it’s “a strong dislike or hatred of certain everyday sounds” and nothing to mess around with in small spaces like airplanes. For me, I’m annoyed with things like whistling, children screaming, people whispering (I know, I know), and other random sounds that don’t bother most, but make me insane. That said, I always pack my headphones. I wish I had a pair of these Bose headphones or these Apple air-buds, but for now my standard Apple issued buds do the job. As soon as possible, I plug in to listen to my podcasts or watch airplane TV, and I’m in my own distraction-free world.

  4. I like to be productive, and I don’t want to risk my luggage being lost along with my most important items… my day planner, journal, and laptop. Therefore, these three items are non negotiables for plane packing. In addition, we know there’s nothing worse than technology running out of steam, so I also have a handy zipper pouch that contains all of my chargers and tech stuff. I thought my denim pouch was cool, but these pouches are legit.

  5. Something to read is also a must, because the airline magazine and duty free shopping only last so long. Plus, without access to WiFi, I need something to do to occupy the time I normally spend online. Therefore, I like to pack some reads. On my last trip I packed Oprah, Yoga Journal, and a great book, The Beautiful No. This autobiography by Sheri Salata (former executive producer for the Oprah Winfrey Show) chronicles her life, showing how a disappointing “no” can actually be a blessing and lead to an amazing life. Great read!

  6. Finally, I like to be prepared in case my suitcase doesn’t make it to my destination at the same time I do. That said, I always include a change of clothes (maybe a simple dress- any of these, thanks) and my running shoes and a running outfit. Yes, the shoes make my bag heavier, but I’ll gladly carry the extra weight so I can always get in my runs wherever I’m traveling. In addition, my makeup bag is stocked with the necessities - toothbrush/paste, these body wipes for freshening up on the plane, makeup, contact stuff, and glasses.

  7. The extras. After organizing all of the above items, note that TSA will also find the random things I’ve stashed inside my pack in classic last-minute style. I hate to be without gum, mints, Spark vitamin water packs for reenergizing at my destination, Kleenex, pens, and…. ten other things I can’t think of now and either include or wish I had!

Did I miss anything? What’s in your carry-on? Please reply in comments with other items that make a long flight more bearable. Until next time… be safe and travel safely (and comfortably) friends!