As a former California girl who’s now living in our nation’s capital, I’m definitely no stranger to cross-country flights and the key airplane travel essentials that can help ensure a smooth trip. Getting ready to brave the sometimes not-so-friendly skies yourself? From basics like water and snacks to beauty helpers like your favorite moisturizer, here are seven airplane travel essentials you won’t want to be caught without.
1. Water and Snacks
Yes, it’s expensive to purchase a bottle of water at the airport once you’ve already passed through the security line, but even so, this is by far one of my most important airplane travel essentials. Along with keeping you hydrated both prior to and during your flight, carrying on a water bottle means you won’t be left at the mercy of tiny plastic cups that hardly hold more than a gulp or two. Snacks are another key item you won’t want to forget, since you never know how long an unexpected delay could leave you stuck on the tarmac or whether the oftentimes overpriced meal and snack options sold onboard will be to your liking.
2. Magazines and Books
While I used to dread long flights, I now actually look forward to them as the perfect opportunity to catch up on my reading. Rather than just bringing along one magazine or book, I’m always sure to pack a couple extras to help prevent boredom in the event of a missed connection or an onboard entertainment system that is malfunctioning. Just avoid buying them at the airport if you can, since these items can be rather pricey. Also, while I do love my Kindle, I honestly prefer to travel with paperbacks, which feel light enough in my carry-on bag and don’t need to be put away during takeoffs or landings.
3. A Travel Pillow
Whether you’ve booked an overnight flight or just want to avoid arriving at your destination with a sore neck, you definitely can’t go wrong by packing a compact travel pillow. My favorite, Total Pillow, doesn’t take up much space and can also be twisted and turned every which way to help support your neck or back. Throw one into your carry-on for sweet dreams even in a tight, cramped seat.
4. Your Favorite Moisturizer
There’s nothing like a little recycled plane air to dry out your skin and leave it looking and feeling parched upon arrival. For this reason, I never fly without a travel-sized container of my favorite moisturizer, currently Mary Kay’s TimeWise Day Solution, which comes in a 1-oz. bottle and never leaves me feeling greasy. Two other things you’ll always find in my bag? Hand cream and lip balm.
5. A Cozy Cardigan
Since airplane temperatures can be incredibly unpredictable, I always dress in layers when I fly. One thing I’m never without? A cozy cotton cardigan that isn’t the least bit bulky and can also double as a small blanket.
6. A Lightweight Laptop
As much as I prefer to enjoy work-free flights, there are times when this simply isn’t possible. In these instances, I always pack my travel laptop, a smaller netbook that is easy to get in and out of my bag at the security checkpoint and which also weighs less than many typical models. While not nearly as powerful as my home computer, the netbook is still handy enough to get the job done, at least until I can afford to shell out for a coveted MacBook Air.
7. Extra Medication and Toiletries
You hope it won’t happen, but in the event that your checked luggage is lost, you certainly won’t want to be left without the essential medications and toiletries that are vital to your own personal health and comfort. For this reason, I never check any medications and always include travel-sized toiletry items in my carry-on bags.
Are you a frequent flyer? What are a few of your own favorite airplane travel essentials?