When traveling by plane on your vacation or business trip, one of the most important pieces of luggage that you will pack is your carry-on bag. This will be your only available supplies before and during your flight, so it’s important to make sure you pack all the essentials to make your flight most comfortable. It’s always good to have a checklist, especially when it comes from someone who flies for a living.
Flight attendants are on hundreds, maybe thousands of flights and they know how to pack… so we asked them!
Here are the top items flight attendants recommend bringing on the plane with you.
1.) Passport Holder
Traveling can be stressful. The last thing you want is to lose your passport and ticket! That is why a passport holder would be beneficial for you to invest in. It will be able to protect your passport from normal wear and tear from frequent travel. It will also add extra organization by keeping your passport, money, and ticket all in one area.
Flight attendants recommend passport holders because you can easily identify a brightly colored holder rather than a dark blue cover in a dark bag.
2.) Noise Canceling Headphones
Many airlines include mini-entertainment systems on their flights, and you can usually purchase earphones for a fee. But why do that when you can bring your own? And what’s more – noise canceling headphones will change your life when you’re on a plane. Switch on the noise cancel button and the engine noise, along with baby cries and chatter on the plane nearly completely go away if you’re trying to sleep. You have to try it to believe it.
Most jacks will accommodate headphones you bring from home. They’re also essential if you plan on using any electronics you’ve brought yourself. You can also download a white noise app on your phone for a relaxing ambiance.
3.) Water Bottle
Even though you can’t bring fluids in through security, there are many areas in the terminals you will be able to fill up your water bottle before embarking on your flight. Don’t keep buying water at the airport anymore and wasting money!
While flight attendants are often more than happy to accommodate those who need water, it will often interrupt their scheduled routine unless requested during beverage service. So whether you will need water for your medication or you’re just thirsty, it is best to have your source of water with you so you will not have to flag down the attendant or end up waiting a long time for your drink.
4.) Compression Packing Cubes
Traveling packing cubes are the ultimate luggage organizers. They are able to maximize your space so you can fit all your belongings in an organized using minimal space. If you have only a carry on luggage, this is a great way to pack a lot of your items.
The added bonus of compression you will see right away. Just when you think you don’t have enough room, you zip around the cube and it compresses the cube further.
5.) Travel Pillow
All flights offer some form of pillow or blanket for passengers who want some extra comfort to get a little shut-eye. But let’s be real here, what they provide is mediocre at best. If you have particular comfort items that help you sleep such as a soft pillow, be sure to pack it in your carry-on.
You can often find extremely comfortable travel pillows that will give you neck support and comfort all in a small easy to travel with size.
6.) Travel Backpack
Companies are finally starting to design backpacks specifically for travel!
The idea behind a travel backpack is simple: the backpack zips open like a normal suitcase — none of that top loading nonsense. This way you can easily access whatever you need without much hassle.
Travel backpacks are not just for those traveling around Europe for months, you can use them comfortably for a short week trip as your carry-on. Here’s the backpack flight attendants recommend:
7.) Hard Shell Rolling Luggage
If you’re not into using a travel backpack for your next trip, a hard shell rolling luggage is the next best thing. Hard shell suitcases provide more space and added protection for valuables.
Travelers who prefer the hard shell for their carry-on bag have a variety of options that come with TSA approved locks, unique designs and spacious interiors. Flight attendants say they love this hard shell rolling luggage:
Taking a laptop with you on a plane may be important if you are traveling for business or you are going on a vacation. A laptop may be an effective way to pass time when you are in the air. You should visit your airline’s website to learn more about what their policies are, but most airlines have loosened their rules over the years.
Once you are in the air, you can connect to the airline’s wifi (if available, sometimes for a small charge). You will be able to accomplish any tasks for your business, an assignment for school, or binge your favorite Netflix show!
9.) Flip Flops
Sometimes having your feet in sweaty socks and shoes for 12+ hours at a time can make be annoying. You want to air out your toes and relax. Having flip flops in at your ready will make your travel day a bit more relaxing.
10.) Travel Makeup
When you are traveling for business, you want to make sure you look beautiful after sitting on a plane for hours. Many stores sell travel-sized beauty products that will help you on the go. Or, ask for samples of your favorite products that are the perfect mini version.
11.) Rain Jacket
When you’re trying to save room in your carry-on, but need to keep warm on the flight bring a lightweight rain jacket!
Rain jackets are better in colder climates for the added bonus of keeping you warm and for recreational activities where you need both hands or will be moving around a lot. They are lightweight and packable, adds extra warmth, and protects against the wind.
12.) Eye Drops
The dry environment of a temperature and pressure-controlled airplane cabin can take its toll on your eyes. Your eyes may dislike you afterward because they are too dry and itchy!
If you feel your eyes becoming dry during the flight, you can grab the drops to relieve them from any pain.
13.) Dry Sack
We all know what a dry bag is for, right? It’s for keeping your gear dry in wet conditions. When you’re heading to the beach, going on a boat, or just walking around in the rain, simply drop whatever needs to be kept dry into the bag, roll the top a couple of times, clip it together, and you’re done.
You can also throw it in your carry-on with your liquids in so they don’t spill in your bag.
14.) Tide to Go
There will always be turbulence on a plane. What if you are eating that yummy chocolate bar or you are drinking a glass of red wine? Oh no! You might have ruined your new shirt. If you have a Tide to Go pen, not anymore! You will be able to quickly erase any stains before your shirt becomes blemished. I mean, you don’t want to look like a COMPLETE mess after traveling.
15.) Medication You Might Need
It might be a no-brainer to pack time-sensitive medication in your carry-on, but it’s also smart to bring any over-the-counter meds you might need during a flight. Such things as antacids, Tylenol, Advil, anti-nausea, and sleeping medications, may not be readily available from flight attendants. For the medication they do have it may take a little while to get as flight attendants are often occupied with their routine duties during flight. Also remember, lots of these come in travel size!
16.) Face Wipes
Going through TSA can be frustrating because of the limited amount of products you can pack on your carry-on. Fortunately, face wipes are TSA-friendly. Having face wipes handy can help prevent the mess of having your regular face wash spill. After a flight, your face may feel gross from the crowded plane. Using a wipe can make you feel refreshed before a possible business meeting or going to meet loved ones that you have not seen in a long time.
17.) Dry Shampoo
You just got off the plane and you and you haven’t showered in days. Dry shampoo is pretty much the best thing you can bring with you traveling. It’s right up there with your passport in terms of importance, transforming your look in a matter of seconds.
18.) Crossword Puzzles and Sudoku
Sitting on a long flight with a bad movie can make your trip unbearable. Bringing a crossword puzzle or sudoku book can be helpful to pass the time when you are feeling antsy in your seat. The advantages of bringing this form of entertainment are that you will not be constantly checking the time.
19.) Money Belt
A money belt is a small, zippered fabric pouch that fastens around the waist under your pants or skirt. You wear it completely hidden from sight, tucked in like a shirttail — over your undies and shirt, under your pants. Most people wear the pouch over their stomach, but if you find it more comfortable, slide it around to the small of your back.
20.) Fully Charged Power Bank
If you count the check-in, the security check, the boarding, the delays, the flight itself, and the check-out, you’re in it for a long time. Even if your phone is fully charged, it might not last very long, especially if you read or play on it to kill time.
To make sure you can use your phone to call an Uber or check Google Maps once you land, plug your phone into a fully charged battery as soon as the flight attendant asks you to switch your phone to airplane mode, this way you won’t forget about it.
Sunglasses provide protection from ultraviolet rays in sunlight. Ultraviolet (UV) light damages the cornea and the retina. This is especially important if you are in a window seat on the airplane. Also, they provide protection from glare. Certain surfaces, such as water, can reflect a great deal of light, and the bright spots can be distracting or can hide objects. Also, intense glare over a long flight can lead to headaches.
More for off the plant, this item can be used to help you complete an outfit or block the sun from your face! A hat is a small item to pack on your carry-on, so it can’t hurt! After hours on a plane, you might need something to cover up your silly plane hair too.
If you’re tired of listening to music or watching movies and simply want to relax, earplugs should do the job! Earplugs will also help you shut yourself from the engines sounds, the general rick-rack on the plane, and even allow you to read without interruption. Plus, you never know if you’re going to sit next to that baby!
Having even a little bit of quality sleep in a flight seems for many of us highly improbable. Besides the anxiety of being 20,000 feet in the air, the lights, TV glare, and frequent movements of the passengers make the task even harder.
If you want to actually get a little shut-eye when you (and not the flight attendants) decide to, then you should absolutely pack an eye-mask. Be careful to choose one that doesn’t apply too much pressure around your head.
25.) Mini Toiletry Bag
During a flight, many elements don’t play in our favor: the atmospheric pressure, the time spent confined in the economy class seat, the other passengers’ whims and behavior, etc.
To stay fresh during and after your flight, make sure to pack a mini toiletry bag that will contain all the necessities for a pleasant flight.
26.) Hand Sanitizer and Sanitizing Wipes
Always keep hand sanitizers and sanitizing wipes nearby, we assure you, you will need them. Cleaning your hands before eating or after coming into contact with a dusty seat, wiping your tray table clean before touching it, those are only a few situations you might find yourself in where hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes will come in handy.
Even if airplanes are carefully cleaned after every flight, we don’t want to take any risks with international germs!
27.) Lip Balm
Anyone who had a taken a plane before knows that (very) uncomfortable drying sensation that one feels in their whole body. The lips are particularly sensitive to those changes if it’s a long-haul flight. To land without dry and chapped lips, make sure to pack a lip balm that you reapply frequently during the flight.
28.) Mini Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Whether you plan on eating during the flight or not, a toothbrush and a toothpaste are a must for any traveler. It’s a no-brainer if you just had a meal, you don’t want to reek of ham-and-cheese sandwich your whole flight, but even if you don’t have anything, you will need to refresh your breath once in a while, especially if it’s a long flight. A nice breath is always pleasant for your neighbors and the flight attendants.
A spray here and there would be like a breath of fresh air! After the sprint to reach the gates before it’s too late and the effort of the boarding and carrying all the luggage, you might feel flustered, tired, and a bit sweaty. A quick ‘pshit’ of deodorant would then be very much welcome! It will also ensure that once you land, you will be able to greet anyone waiting for you with a tight hug or a firm handshake without feeling the need to step 6 feet back!
30.) Compression or Warm Socks
It gets cold up there, even in the summer. I remember that once during a night flight it was freezing to the point that I had to cover my feet with a sweater! Believe me, after that one I always made sure I packed one pair of thick and warm socks in my carry-on!
We’re particularly fond of the Smartwool Socks. They live up to their name: they’re comfy and don’t get smelly or soggy! Although, always make sure your feet don’t smell before wearing them, and if you’re not sure, run a sanitized wipe over them in the bathroom before wearing the socks.
31.) Mini Emergency Kit
In addition to your medication and vitamins, try to fit in your carry-on a small pouch with some “just in case” emergency essentials. Organize your mini emergency kit with these simple items:
- Butterfly Closures
- Moleskin patches
- Bacitracin ointment
- Sterile gauze pads
- Alcohol prep wipes
- Safety pin
Bonus: you can use this mini emergency kit in your daily life. Frequently check if all items are in the kit, and slip it in your bag wherever you go!
32.) Feminine Hygiene Products
One thing that female travelers must think about that our male counterparts never do is dealing with “that time of the month” when traveling. It’s certainly annoying to have to consider our periods when planning a trip, but it shouldn’t keep you from traveling.
33.) Comfy Slip-on Shoes
Those cramped economy seats don’t leave anyone enough space to stretch, let alone when we’re stuck with some platform shoes or high heels! You get the idea, you will need flat and relatively stretchy shoes that won’t compress your feet so that they don’t swell, easy enough to take off and put on quickly during security checks, and to remove once you’re seated (in order to put some warm socks!)
On the same note, always avoid tight clothes when traveling, wearing a pair of leather slim jeans can be a nightmare!
34.) Thick Shawl and Cozy Sweater
Now, some airlines do hand out blankets, but most of the time, they’re thin and not warm enough for the altitude. Remember to bring with you a cozy thick shawl that will double as a blanket once you’re in the air. Also, having a thick shawl and a cozy sweater might be helpful for when you arrive at your destination. If it’s chilly or if it’s night time, you wouldn’t want to fumble through your neatly packed luggage to find something warm to wear.
Pro-tip: Don’t put your shawl and sweater in your carry-on, wear them instead. This way, you will save some precious space and kilos in your bag.
35.) Spare/Disposable Underwear
Once you’re inside the airport, there is little chance you would find a shop nearby to buy pads or underwear in case an unfortunate event happens. And even if you do, you already know how pricey their items are! Better make sure to keep a pair of pads and a spare underwear in your toiletry bag. It will also prevent you from stressing over if your luggage is late/lost or if you want to freshen up after your flight.
36.) Snacks and Chocolate
This one is a bit controversial. It mostly depends on the company you’re flying with and the country you’re visiting, so better check ahead of time with your airline if it’s possible to bring snacks on your flight. More often than not, you will be able to bring store-bought closed-in snacks. Here are the ones we always pack when traveling:
- Bars (protein-bars, fruit and nut bars)
- Healthy crackers
- Dried fruit
- Dark chocolate
- Greek yogurt (can be considered a liquid by the TSA)
Keep it light and avoid any smelly food, you don’t want to be that guy.
Even travelers who don’t typically have complications with their ears can develop ear pressure issues on flights. This build-up of pressure can result in hearing difficulties as well as pain. One of the best ways to reduce pressure problems and get your ears to pop so that they equalize the pressure is by chewing gum during takeoff and landing. If you are traveling with children who are old enough to chew gum, it is recommended to bring them some as well as ear pressure can be quite startling and painful to a child with more immature ear canals. Carrying gum with you on the flight will also provide you with a quick breath freshener if you plan on sleeping during the trip.
Sometimes carrying a travel purse or bag can been too bulky. A wristlet is a perfect size for phones and cards, but you may not notice you are wearing it. Make sure though it closes tight, whether it’s a zipper or a good clasp on it since you don’t want to lose your belongings traveling!
39.) Notepad and Pen
If you are more traditional and don’t want to bring any fancy electronics on the plane, buying a notepad and pen can be a great idea! If you enjoy creating lists or love to draw, then having this readily available to you will be beneficial. You may find yourself brainstorming or playing hangman with your seat-mate!
40.) Travel Speakers
As technology changes and evolves over the years, it impacts what is small and light enough to pack for every trip. We’re at the point now where you might as well throw in a portable Bluetooth speaker for your trip.
41.) Coloring Books
Can’t fall asleep no matter what you try? Well, adult coloring books are becoming more popular because of the humor. Coloring can be fun, but it will force you to put down your electronics so you can relax! Also, they can be a great stress reliever!
42.) Electric Converters and Adapters
When traveling to a different country, you will notice the outlets are all different! If you plan to explore it with your must-have gadgets like a cellphone, tablet, action cam and more, you need to figure out how to plug each of them into the local power grid. Because so many countries—and even regions within countries—developed their own electricity standards, it’s safe to say that diversity reigns out there.
43.) Lotion with SPF
Yes, you heard us right: lotion with SPF. Many of us don’t pay attention to this since we feel protected inside the place, but the sunlight is actually quite strong when the person is flying by day. The windows don’t block UV rays, so take the same precautions you would take at any normal day on the ground: protect your skin with an SPF lotion (that will also double as a moisturizer for a more hydrated skin!)
P.S: Lotions, alongside with perfumes, shampoos and other liquid or cream cosmetics, are considered liquids under the 3-1-1 rule of the TSA. They are stating in their official blog that: “to be taken in a carry-on bag, all liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce or smaller containers that fit in 1 sealed zip-top plastic bag, with only 1 bag per passenger.” So pack accordingly.
44.) Contact Cases
Sometimes, the dry air on planes can make wearing contacts uncomfortable. it’s good to have the option to remove your contacts if they start to itch! You will thank yourself later having a case with you!
45.) Travel Towel
Hate carrying bulky and space consuming towels? With a compacted and lightweight microfiber travel towel, there will be no more straining your hands or back. The towel would be ideal for traveling and camping.
46.) Flash Drive
Instead of trying to carry papers in your carry-on and your luggage, a flash drive can be useful to put all your important files on there so you don’t crumple any important papers. Store this in a safe place so you don’t lose your entire life.
It could be hard to decide which book to choose when going on a trip. With a Kindle, this can be easily solved. Instead of shoving four heavy books into your carry-on, you can have a lightweight device where you can get lost in a murder mystery or a love story about two teens falling in love. Whatever your cup of tea is, a Kindle can provide sanity to your plane ride. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the read!