Does your next travel plan include taking to the friendly skies via air travel? Whether you check luggage, or travel only by carry-on bags, there are specific items that can enhance your in-flight comfort and well-being, and help you arrive refreshed and ready to hit the road.
In addition to my security-qualified identification and flight boarding passes, I don’t leave home without these 15 travel essentials. Some will enhance my on-board comfort and sanity, while others are intended to help me arrive fresh and ready to take on that next adventure!
15 Must-Have Items For Your Carry On Bag
Though long in list, these items are small in size, and easy to pack. When you are high in the sky, with hours to go before arrival, you’ll be happy several of these items are right by your side. And when that flight arrives, you’ll be equally as happy you packed the others!
1. Ear Plugs and Eye Shades
Ear plugs and eye shades aren’t just for red-eye flights! Ear plugs can knock down the decibels of a nearby baby in distress or a neighbor’s overly loud gaming device. Combine ear plugs with eye shades for mid-flight rest and relaxation, whether it’s morning, noon, or night!
2. Noise Cancelling Headphones
Much like ear plugs, noise cancelling headphones can serve to block outside noise, as well as enhance the sounds of your own music or video.
3. Eye Drops & Eyewear
The air inside an airplane cabin is dry. It’s so dry, it can dry out practically everything, including your eyes. If you are a contact lens wearer, eye drops in your carry-on are a must! Don’t forget to include essential eyewear or an extra pair of contacts in your bag.
4. Lip Balm and Hand Moisturizer
As mentioned above, airplane cabins are dry! A small tube of lip balm and travel-size bottle of hand moisturizer will go a long way to enhance your comfort level through out the flight.
5. Cleansing Wipes
Don’t trust the cleaning crew to ensure your seating area has been thoroughly cleaned! Who knows what may have occurred atop that on-board tray, who’s germy hands might have been all over that armrest, or who may have coughed on that head rest. A 30 second preventative wipe down can go a long way in cleaning unexpected messes and keeping germs at bay.
6. Basic Hygiene Essentials
Travel sized basics like tissues, toothbrush and toothpaste, face or bath wipes, and dry shampoo can have you arriving refreshed and ready to roll. No excuses for bad breath or bed head hair from that overnight flight!
7. Basic First Aid Kit & Prescription Medications
A few basic medical and first aid essentials can save the day! A couple of bandaids, travel sized antiseptic, blister bandaids, and a small bottle of your preferred pain reliever won’t take up much space, and if the need hits, you’ll be happy you have them. Don’t forget to also pack prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
8. Water Bottle And Snacks
Keeping hydrated in-flight is essential. What better way to accomplish this than with your own water bottle? Either purchase one after clearing security, or bring an empty bottle from home. Once past security, fill it up with refreshing, rehydrating water.
Also pack a few favorite snacks for the ride. Many airlines are quite stingy when it comes to the amount of snacks handed out during the flight. Don’t depend on the flight crew to keep you hydrated and well fed.
9. Extra Layer For Warmth
Not only are airplanes dry, they can be down right cold! Pack a scarf, light jacket or travel blanket to enhance your comfort level when the cabin temperature drops.
10. Fresh Clothing Essentials
Did you check your luggage? You still may want to pack a change of clothing essentials such as underwear, socks, and shirt, in your carry-on bag. If there is a lapse in your checked bag’s arrival, you have at least one change of clothes to get you through the first day.
11. Small Sewing/Repair Kit
A few simple sewing tools are all that’s needed for a quick en-route clothing or equipment malfunction repair. A needle and thread along with several safety pins and a small roll of duct tape will be able to fix many in-flight repair needs.
12. Travel Size Battery Charger & Charge Cable
Can your electronic device maintain it’s charge throughout your travels? Even if there are flight delays? Don’t risk it! Sometimes your airline seat will have a USB connection to recharge your electronics. And sometimes it won’t. Don’t let fate decide if your electronic devices arrive at your destination with a charge.
13. Travel Sized Make-Up Essentials
This one is for the ladies! Whether your flight is two hours, or twenty hours, having on hand a few key make-up essentials can help you arrive more refreshed and ready to hit the road.
14. A Pen
Pens are such an essential component. Think about it. How many times have you been in need of a pen when traveling? Probably more than you realize. From baggage tags at check-in, to customs forms upon arrival, having a pen on hand is indispensable.
15. A Copy of Essential Travel Plans
Include a paper copy of your essential travel plans in your carry on. Yes, you might have those plans safely stored electronically, or stashed in your checked bags. But what if that device runs out of battery before you arrive? Or that checked bag is delayed? One simple sheet of paper with essential travel information like car rental and hotel reservation number, as well as key contact information, will get you out the door in a pinch.
Packing It All Up
Yes, it may sound like a lot of extra items to stash in your carry-on bag. However, by sticking with travel sized items and minimalist packing, all of these items can be easily compacted down for inclusion in your carry-on bag. This photo depicts how practically every item listed above can fit into two small pack-it cubes, with room to spare within each cube.
The smaller red pack-it cube contains the following essentials:
- Ear Plugs, EyeMask and Eye Drops
- Basic Hygiene Supplies (except Dry Shampoo)
- Travel Sized Make Up Essentials
- Lip Balm & Hand Moisturizer
- Small Sewing/Repair Kit
- Basic First Aid Kit
The larger blue pack-it cube contains these essentials:
- Cleansing Wipes
- Noise Cancelling Headphones
- Dry Shampoo
- Back up Battery Charger
The remaining items are easily packed in and around the two packing cubes, making a small, efficient collection of essential travel items that can easily be stashed within most carry-on bags. Tip: Use zip-lock baggies to keep each kit within the packing cubes well organized.
Traveler’s Note: TSA Liquids Rule apply. Place TSA compliant carry-on liquids into a TSA appropriate clear bag (I use a quart-sized ziplock baggie) in preparation for the security screening process.
What Are Your Carry-On Essentials?
Be prepared the next time you fly! Tighter seat configurations, long flights, and noisy neighbors can contribute to a less than ideal flight. Though you may not be able to control your neighbors, you can control your comfort and well-being to some degree!
These 15 items are my key travel essentials I pack every time I take to the skies. How about you? Do you have a travel essential that you must have in your carry-on bag? Is it something I have not listed? Do share!
Dog in Bag Image by MisterG.C. via Flickr. Other images by C.Biederman.