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10 Travel Essentials for Your Carry On

10 Travel Essentials for Your Carry On

I have a kit that I always carry with me when I fly.  I typically get it out of my carry on before boarding so that I can settle in and have these 10 travel essentials at reach at all times.

Purell/Hand Wipes – Airplanes are a breeding ground for germs, bacteria and viruses.  When traveling you are also most likely sleep deprived and dehydrated which means a lowered immune system.  I always bring a small bottle of Purell hand sanitzer for use after the bathroom — yes, I still wash my hands but that water isn’t necessarily that pure — and before eating anything.  The hand wipes can be used in the same way but also to wipe down the tray table, armrests, IFE, seat recline button and seat belt when you first sit down.  I have it part of my boarding ritual.  I like these individually wrapped hand wipes as they are small and I only need a couple each flight.

Hand Lotion – The air in the cabin of airplanes is extremely dry.  The low humidity (around 12%) is due to the altitude and moisture cannot be added as it would cause corrosion to the metal body of the plane.  The Boeing 787 is made of a composite material, this it is able to have higher humidity.  Hand lotion (I like L’Occitane even though it is expensive) can help keep your hands, arms, legs and feet moisturized especially on long flights.  I carry a travel size container of lotion whenever I fly.

Lip Balm – Like hand lotion, lip balm can be a lifesaver for chapped lips from the dry air.  I like a natural option like Burt’s Bees but you know what works for you.

Face Mask – I used to make fun of people that wear face masks when flying.  It looks insane and really, how much can they do?  A lot.  I have terrible sinuses and had to have surgery a few years back.  According to my doctor, the number one thing I can do to keep my sinuses healthy: wear a mask when on an airplane.  Surprisingly, it is not about germs (I don’t think masks do much to keep you from getting sick; they more keep you from spreading your own germs to others).  Instead, it is about keeping your sinuses moist.  Airplanes are DRY.  You have membranes in your sinuses that need to stay moist so they don’t dry out and crack.  A good way to keep the moisture in is with a clean face mask.  I use a washable mask that is comfortable and doesn’t look too crazy.  Besides, what is more important: a fashion statement or your health?  I’m also a mouth breather; I hate the idea of my wide mouth gaping open when I am asleep on a plane.

Breathable Jacket – Planes are notoriously hot or cold; and sometimes both on the same flight.  I have a breathable Northface jacket that is warm but not stuffy.  I suggest black because you will get dirty when traveling.  It is also waterproof so if something spills on you mid-flight you won’t have to worry about sitting in damp clothing.  I also have breathable pants that you can read about here.

Pen – It seems like every time I fly I need a pen for some reason.  Traveling internationally or to Hawaii there are forms to fill out.  Even in this age of smartphones and computers I seem to always need an old fashioned pen.

Ear Plugs – I find that one of the biggest reasons I am exhausted after a flight is because of the constant noise in the cabin of an airplane.  Mostly this comes from the engines.  Next time you are on a plane, bring a pair of earplugs.  Put them in before take off and then an hour in to the flight take them out.  You will be shocked just how loud an airplane is.  Noise wears you down.  Having a set of disposible earplugs makes flying more comfortable and the best $0.30 you’ll invest.

Eye Mask – I use a pair of eye shades that I was given on Cathay Pacific.  They are made of cotton and are super comfortable (plus free).  Find a pair that are comfortable and breathable (I find the ones at the drugstore are not either).  It will help you sleep and you’ll arrive more rested.  Even if you don’t sleep, sometimes it is nice to just zone out.

Noise Canceling Headphones – If you are planning on listening to music or watching a movie, a good pair of noise canceling headphones is necessary.  Like ear plugs, a good set of headphones can also keep the engine noise out of your ears and cut down on travel exhaustion.  This is likely going to be the most expensive item on your travel “necessities”.  I like the Bose Quiet Comfort line, I was able to get mine for about $160 through Price Rewind.

Mints – Especially for flights where you sleep, mints can be a quick way to freshen up and your seat mates will thank you.

I typically put my 10 travel essentials (except the jacket) in a small bag and keep it with me at my seat while I put the rest of my carry on in the overhead bin.  I use a leather amenity bag from Emirates First Class as it is a good size and durable.

Bonus: Lumbar Pillow – A bonus addition to my 10 Travel Essentials!  I have a bad back and airplane seats are not the most ergonomic.  I find that traveling with a small inflatable lumbar pillow helps me to be more comfortable.  If it is a short flight I usually just ball up a jacket and stick it behind my lower back.  But for longer flights it is nice to have a pillow that saves my back.

What do you consider your 10 Travel Essentials?  What do you have handy when heading to the airport?

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