When you think about all the things you use and wear every day, packing can seem pretty intimidating. Packing actually helps me feel very in control and get even more excited for where I’m going! But some people, like my little sister, are not good packers. For them it is an anxiety-riddled task, always over or under-packing and worrying that you’ve forgotten something crucial. I can’t count the number of times when I’ve had to lend my sister clothes because she wasn’t adequately prepared. Two years ago on a trip to Hilton Head Island, I swear all she brought was a bathing suit, pair of sweatpants, snow jacket and underwear. So of course she raided my suitcase for two weeks. Luckily, it gives me an excuse to pack less lightly than I should!
I think it is so important to learn how to be a good packer and traveler. And one of the most crucial skills to master is packing your carryon item. This is the bag that is with you all the time, holds the most important items, and needs to be comfortable, spacious, and ideally, stylish. That’s a pretty tall order! Since I have become somewhat of a seasoned traveler after years of going back and forth to Israel, I thought I would share my musts for in-flight luggage…
- Passport – Your passport is the most important thing in your bag, but it is pretty small. I received this monogrammed passport holder from Leatherology before my semester abroad in Tel Aviv, and it is a beautiful way to protect my passport/boarding pass and make it easier to find.
- Wallet – The second most important thing in your bag!
- Change of Clothes – Guys, this is so important. One time, the airline lost my entire family’s luggage on the flight to Israel and then on the returning flight as well! There is nothing worse than getting off a twelve-hour flight, taking a shower, and having to put the same smelly, stale airplane clothes back on. I always bring at least a clean tshirt and underwear in my bag. Pray for me that this doesn’t happen again!
- Portable Charger – I always have either my Mophie or a little charging bank with me so that my phone stays juiced up. I get very anxious when my phone battery drops below 70%!
- Headphones – Use for music or just to plug your ears from the general airplane noise. My dad bought himself fancy noise-cancelling headphones a few years ago before they were even a thing, and he loves how they let him totally ignore us!
- Valuables – My mother, who is probably the wisest human I know, taught me that anything you would be heartbroken to lose goes in your carryon. This means possessions that possess sentimental or monetary value.
- Beauty/Skincare Products – I am going to do a few separate posts on this subject, so here I’ll just say that I always bring my makeup bag in my carryon for two reasons. The first is that I’m always nervous that my luggage will get lost or damaged, resulting in me being stranded without makeup, and the second is that I never wear makeup on planes, but I always put on a little before landing so that I step off the plane looking better than I feel.
- Immune booster – If you think about it, flying is unbelievably unhealthy. You’re up thousands of miles in the air in a giant metal capsule sharing a limited amount of oxygen with at least one hundred other people for a prolonged period of time. It is a cold or flu waiting to happen. Bring Airborne, Zicam Pre-Cold Cold Remedy, or my personal favorite, Sambucol Black Elderberry Pastilles, which taste yummy while boosting your immune system.
- Pills – I always bring my prescriptions on the plane, as well as Advil PM and JetZone Homeopathic Jet Lag Prevention Tablets. Jetzone pills are herbal chewable tablets that taste like candy. You take them at takeoff, once every two hours, and when you land, and they really help with jetlag. I also learned about the magic that is Advil PM on my last flight home from Israel. A colleague recommended it after I complained about not sleeping for the entire twelve hours of the previous flight. I took one Advil PM and was asleep before takeoff for ten straight hours! Usually I am not one to advise pill-popping, but all bets are off when it comes to flying. This stuff saved me from going out of my mind.
- Your own water bottle – Staying hydrated and healthy is the most important thing when you travel. Flying is extremely dehydrating but flight attendants only come around with drinks once in a while, and the amount of water you get is not nearly enough to keep you hydrated during a flight. Plus, a cup of water open to the germy air is just asking for it. Bring an empty bottle – just don’t fill it until after you go through security!
- A treat! – Flying is a great time to relax and do something you don’t normally have time for, so bring that book that you’ve been wanting to read forever or a sketch pad and pencils. I always load up my iPad with books before a flight. I prefer to hold a real book, but this way I can bring hundreds of books, including my Harry Potter’s, which weigh a ton in real life!
- A neck pillow – Yes, I know they give you pillows on airplanes, but nope. First of all, you never know where that pillow has been. Second, they usually have the flatness of pancakes, and don’t really make a difference. My plush velour neck pillow cradles my head; approximately $25 is a small price to pay for comfort.
- Something comforting – Like I said before, valuables don’t have to cost anything to be important to you. For me, that means that whenever I travel, my Winnie the Pooh teddy bear goes with me. He’s soft, huggable, doubles as a great pillow, and my sister has a matching one. I’m not ashamed to say that I still hug him whenever I’m feeling sad or scared. Having something familiar and soothing is really great.
I’m having so much fun writing these travel guides for you guys. I hope they inspire you to plan a trip, or at least to hone your organizational craft. For more travel tips, this illustrated piece is pretty helpful, too!