The Consummate Traveler – What’s In My Bag? The Carry-On Essentials

June 21, 2014 Updated: June 21, 2014

In this article, I am going to share the contents of what I keep in my “airplane pouch.” This is a bag that stays with me at my side during my flight, and what I consider to be my essentials. I hope it inspires you to create or update your own.

1. Healthy Snacks: I have shared in many articles the importance of always having some food with you, in case of long delays and unexpected circumstances that do not allow you easy access to food. My particular favorites are raw unsalted nuts and the Larabar, which is made of nuts and fruit and is rather low in sugar.

2. Eye Mask and Earplugs: After food, I would say earplugs and an eye mask are useful. They shut out light and noise, especially in coach, and help you to rest and relax.

3. Wardrobe Malfunction Aids: You need to be prepared, with a few strong safety pins and a small travel sewing kit, in case of any unexpected in-flight or airport-related wardrobe malfunctions. I learned this the hard way after my pants zipper broke mid-flight once. Thank goodness I had on a long shirt that covered the area.

4. Travel Pouch: You need a good-size bag to hold all of your in-flight essentials. However, it should be small enough to comfortably store at your seat. This one pictured is from a business-class travel kit that I was given on a flight last year.

5. Hygiene Tools: Being in such close quarters on a plane, I like to make sure that my oral hygiene is well taken care of. My favorite products are Listerine breath strips, a travel toothbrush and paste, and a dental floss pick.

In this category, I also have cough drops (because I or someone else next to me always seems to have a dry cough on the plane) and a travel pack of hand sanitizer. The hand gel is great for coach, where you can clean your hands properly before eating a meal or returning from the restroom. It can also be used if you cut yourself and need to clean the area.

6. Treatment for Cuts and Sneezes: I consider having Band-Aids important to keep on hand to address any unexpected scrapes and cuts. Tissues are not only great for sneezes and colds, but also can double as napkins if you are in a pinch. As for the ear-cleaning cotton swabs, I use them to refresh during a long flight.

7. Beverages: Many airlines do not have much of a selection of different tea flavors. This is why I always make sure to bring my own teabags. Airplane coffee quality is sometimes undrinkable. When I want a coffee fix, my instant coffee packs do the trick. A ginger and honey drink is a wonderful product that I rely on when I feel cold symptoms coming on. It is very strong and usually makes me feel better. Ginger is also good for an upset stomach.

8. Golf Ball: I use a golf ball to give myself a foot and back massage during a flight. Put it on the floor and roll your foot on top. It is a nice blood-stimulating treat. Place it behind your back in the chair and move your body gently to wake up a tired back and shoulder area.

9. Beauty Products: I keep my airplane beauty essentials to a minimum. I do not really use any makeup on my travel days. The most important things for me are lip balm and face mist. Your lips are sure to get dry during a long flight, and keeping them moist is important so they don’t crack and bleed. As for my face, I like to spray it with Evian water mist every hour to keep my skin and nasal passages moist and hydrated.

Elastic bands for the hair are great to keep my locks out of my face while I am sleeping. Having a good hand cream is something I like as well. I usually moisturize before we land so my hands are rehydrated.

10. Nail File and Mirror: A nail file is handy to fix a broken nail, which always seems to happen when you are lugging around heavy suitcases. Equally essential is a travel-size mirror, which you can use for a variety of purposes.

11. Electronics Charger: Whatever electronics you bring on board the aircraft with you, remember to always pack the charger in your carry-on. Many airplanes now have outlets at the seat, which can help your battery recharge on a long flight.

12. iPhone: If push came to shove and I could only bring one thing on the plane with me, I think this item would be it. Running it in Airplane Mode, I have all of my favorite music, movies, and books on it. All of my entertainment comes from this gizmo, and I don’t have to rely on any airplane entertainment system (which sometimes is broken or simply out-of-date).

As always I wish you all the happiest of travels!