Read some travel articles giving advice on packing, carry-ons, and purses, and you will end up with so much stuff you feel like a pack horse. Let’s simplify things – what do you REALLY need?
1 A Large Tote
Probably the most important of your inflight essentials will be a large tote that will fit under your seat. Here you can keep things that you will want to access from your seat without trying to get anything from the overhead area. The tote should have a number of compartments or pockets so that you can quickly and easily organize and access the contents. One of those pockets should be solely dedicated to your passport and other important papers and have a zippered closure. Plus, it should have a large middle section to hold books, magazines, or other larger items.
2 Speaking of Books…
Kindle or other book readers have helped eliminate the bulk of books, and often you just need an app on your Smartphone and you’re on your way to good reading. Smart phones can be great for playing games as well. However, you may have to turn the phone off during landings and departures depending on the airline’s rules. Just in case, pack a couple of fun magazines or light reading, because on long flights you’re bound to get bored!
3 Gadget Accessories
Things like earphones allow you to listen to music or watch videos without bothering anyone else, particularly if you’re on a flight that doesn’t have any entertainment options available. Earphones are also handy for canceling out noise in the cabin and may help you get a restful sleep if your flight is long. Be sure you have chargers for all your devices or your communication and entertainment options may be short lived.
4 Comfortable Clothes
Don’t try to dress to impress when you’re on a flight. In fact, it’s much more pleasant if you can dress down as much as possible. Wear non-binding clothing like sweat pants or a sweater, especially if you’re on a long flight. Wear soft socks or flip flops, never high heels or shoes you have to lace up. Wear only the simplest of jewelry if any at all. No need to worry about how you look; most of the others on the flight will probably wish they were as comfy as you.
5 Prepare for Sleep Times
You will likely want to take a nap on longer flights. Be sure to have something that can cancel the noise of the cabin, like earphones or earplugs. Have something you can lean your head on, like a small pillow or folded up scarf. Eye masks can completely block out light if light interrupts your sleeping. Or, use the scarf to drape loosely over your face so you can block out light and not feel self-conscious when trying to catch a few zzzs.
6 The JIC’s (Just in Case)
Think of some of the things you would be completely lost without should your luggage get lost. Those are the things you pack in your carry-on. One change of clothing, a little shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, a change of undies, and maybe a washcloth. Anything that will help you survive in case something happens. Some people carry a list of phone numbers in case they lose their phone and have to call someone, and some people even carry a little of the local currency to get by until they have access to money.
You may get a bag with 5 peanuts in it on a flight, if you’re lucky. You may even get a meal. Whether you get something to eat or not, you will probably want to carry a few healthy snacks with you that can be filling but still good for you. Forget the chips, crackers, and sweets (although hard candy can sometimes help with dry mouths). Instead bring carrot or celery sticks for the first part of the flight, then foods that travel well for the last part of the flights, such as nuts, dried fruits, granola, or jerky.
I think it’s easier to travel in comfort, without piles of “stuff,” and still have everything you need than many people make it out to be. What are your personal inflight essentials?
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