I live by the saying, “better safe than sorry” especially when it comes to traveling. However, when it comes to carry-ons there is only so much one can bring before it becomes too much. Before I get into what to bring and what not to bring, I want to advise the type of bag one should bring all these items in.
There are pros and cons to any bag that one would bring on a flight. The way I determine what bag I should use is not the amount of things I bring or the length of the flight, but the size or type of luggage I am using. I suggest pairing a duffel bag or overnight bag with a backpack, but if I have a rolling suitcase, I always bring a large purse. Here’s why: purses, in my opinion, are easier to find things in and look cute. I almost always over pack my backpacks because there is more room, so therefore, I can bring a lot of unnecessary items that weigh me down. Even though I like traveling with purses more, a purse and a non-rolling suitcase is just a nightmare. But one thing to keep in mind if one does decide to use a purse: make sure it has zippers! No zippers means everything going everywhere after take off. I suggest a purse similar to a Longchamp tote.
Now that we have what you should carry everything in, here is a list of the top 10 things I always have in my backpack or purse when it comes to long-haul flights:
Snacks, in my opinion, are the most important thing to never forget for any flight. International flights usually offer a meal, but it is never guaranteed that it will be something you like or something you aren’t allergic to. I am also very against buying snack in the airport, because they are so much more expensive than the snack you can buy in a grocery store. When it comes to what snacks I bring, I usually back one or two snacks: one salty and one sweet. Pretzels are my go-to snack, but I usually also back something like a protein bar and possible some candy. I highly recommend condensing to one snack by getting trail mix! That way you have protein, salty snack food and sweet snack food, as well as some sugar from things like raisins or chocolate.
Neck Pillows make or break an international flight. Without one, I can almost promise you that you will be uncomfortable. I know some airlines provide small little pillows, but I use those to either sit on or put behind my back. It makes the entire trip extremely more comfortable. It also help you avoid accidentally falling asleep on the stranger next to you. There is a big debate between which type of pillow to get. Inflatable pillows take up less space, but I feel they are uncomfortable. The bead-filled pillows don’t tend to give me as much support as I would like and take up a lot of room. My personal favorite is the memory foam pillow. This pillow does take up more space in your bag, but it is worth it. The memory foam allows you to squish and shove the pillow into the most compact form it can be, but it never looses its shape. They also seem the most comfortable to me and support my head just right. I use this pillow. I have had it for years and it still works just as well as it did the first time I used it.
I always book overnight flights, because I want to spend as much time in the country I am traveling to as possible (It also helps with jet-lag). Therefore, I always sleep on planes. Eye masks are essential for me to be able to fall asleep, without them I am constantly opening my eyes to see the people moving around me. When it comes to the type of eye mask I would recommend, it honestly depends on the type of person you are. Someone who is wearing makeup might appreciate a contoured mask, so mascara and eyeliner don’t get smudged. Someone who is sensitive to light might want a mask that is built to block out all light. Whatever you prefer, suggest getting one that is funny or has a cute design because that makes the eye masks thousands of times better. I love this brand for their eye masks, they do the job and they have really cute ones.
Sweatshirt or Blanket
I get cold on almost every flight I go on, so sweatshirts are a must. I have been known to bring both a sweatshirt and a blanket because I get so cold. I have also heard that scarf blankets work really well too, but I am not a huge fan of scarves. I suggest a baggier sweatshirt, just because I find tight or snug ones get uncomfortable after about the fourth hour. Blankets are also very nice because they make me feel a little more at home and comfortable, so that I can sleep easier. I love the Flight 001 Blanket, especially because it comes with a little bag.
I was always taught to chew gum when a plane was taking off or landing to avoid the painful ear popping that occurs with the changing altitude. However, I always find myself stuck with a gross piece of gum in my mouth long after it has done its job. I recently change from gum to Mentos Mints because they have the same effect as gum, but they are mints so they don’t stay in gum form for more than five minutes. I highly recommend making the switch from gum to mints because it makes the take off and landing much easier.
Long-haul flights always leave a bad taste in my mouth, either from the snacks or food I have eaten or because I was sleeping. Having disposable toothbrushes makes the landing so much easier. I love the wisp toothbrushes because all you need is a little water. The toothpaste is built-in and you can simply throw it away when your done. I never go on a flight without these little things.
I always take my shoes off if a flight is longer than three hours, because shoes get uncomfortable. Having a pair of fuzzy socks or just really comfortable socks makes long flights so much easier. As I have mentioned, I sleep on most flights, so having socks makes me feel just a little bit more comfortable. I usually find a pair at the dollar store and just bring those. It isn’t necessary to find super nice socks that will lost forever, because there is a good chance they will get lost, forgotten or messed up on your trip.
This might sound odd considering we live in such a digital world, but when your phone dies or you run out of downloaded Netflix shows, you will wish you had a book with you. I find planes such a relaxing place to read because no one really is bothering you for hours (unless your on the aisle and the person sitting next to you has a small bladder). I find myself getting through the most books while in-flight. Bring a book that you’ve always wanted to read, but never had time to. Because you have the time while flying for hours!
This might seem like an odd addition, especially so high on the list. But tissues can be a lifesaver on a flight. High altitudes and dry air are a recipe for a bloody nose! There is also a chance your might need a tissue for ordinary tissue problems, but it is also useful as a napkin to spread snacks on or create a protective layer between food and a nasty tray table. They prove to be much more handy than one would expect when it comes to flights. And you will totally regret not having one when disaster strikes.
My hands always get dry when I’m on a long flight, so you will always find me with my travel size sleep lotion. This lotion is great because it is a very light scent, but is also very relaxing. It also helps me fall asleep on longer flights.
I hope you found this list helpful for all your carry on packing endeavors. Please comment what other essentials you think should be brought on international flights!