Ever since I can remember I’ve yearned to travel.
The first chance I could I hopped a plane to India to work in slum re-development for 5 months in college. I was itching to explore the world. Anxious to learn from anyone and any experience.
My hunger to experience other cultures only grew from there.
There’s always a new place to see, new people to meet, new food to devour. The more I’ve travelled the more I’ve wanted to travel.
I find my curiosity about other cultures is — thus far — inexhaustible… and, for that matter, insatiable.
SHOP THE LOOK:
Coat – Vintage via Etsy || Sweater – Old || Leggings – Koral (they’re waterproof!) || Boots – Hush Puppies || Bag – Gucci (mini) || Carry-On – Away (the same one Meghan Markle gave away at her baby shower last week! $250 version HERE)
And somehow I’ve managed to create a job that allows me to travel for work AND for pleasure.
I’ve gotten to see and experience so many things in my short 31 years… and better still, I’ve been able to experience them through my lens so you can experience them with me.
But traveling has also taught me some very important lessons about what I should pack and what I shouldn’t. And since you all know I ONLY travel with a carry-on (I haven’t checked a bag in almost 9 years), the struggle to ensure I have everything I need without unnecessary baggage can be… well, a struggle.
Today’s post is the result of years of trial and error. Years of packing dozens of wrong things, years of experimentation and mistakes. All culminating into one VERY important list:
10 Surprising Things To Pack For Your Next Flight
1. Extra Large Battery Pack
Everyone needs extra power when they travel — you never know when a delay or issue might prevent you from plugging into an outlet. Eliminate the issue entirely (and ensure you have a full battery on your entire trip) with a large external battery pack.
They are heavy but SO worth it.
I carry one with me every day in fact and can’t tell you how many times it’s not only saved me from a dead phone, but so many of my friends and even strangers I meet while traveling.
I store mine in one of my Delfonics pouches with a few extra charging cords too in case I end up losing one on the road.
2. Collapsible Water Bottle
I’m always the girl with the gigantic (we’re talking the 16″) bottle of water before a flight. Airplane air is notoriously drying on our bodies and skin so staying hydrated is key.
But I’m also the girl who almost always leaves her way-too-expensive 16″ bottle of water behind accidentally in the airport before my flight.
It’s so frustrating when I do that! And inevitably every time I do, my flight has major delays on the tarmac…
So to save myself from… well, myself, I’ve started in the last year carrying a back-up collapsible water bottle with me as well. As soon as I’m through security I fill it up, clip it to my bag (most collapsible bottles are camping equipment after all), and forget about it.
I generally only drink this water 50% of the time because I still go straight for my Hulk-sized water in the airport but I love knowing it’s there and that no matter what happens, I’ll have some water to get me through!
3. Wet Ones Wipes
They MUST be specifically Wet Ones wipes!
I used to carry around Lysol wipes to wipe down my seat on planes (yes, I was that weirdo) but I’ve since learned that Wet Wipes are my best travel option.
Not only do wet wipes sanitize your hands and your seat, but having a small travel pack in your bag means you have one of the best stain removers at the tip of your fingers too. I learned this trick from this book and it really works.
Once I was flying to NYC and split coffee all over my white shirt. And not a little coffee, mind you… A LOT of coffee.
I wanted to run straight to the bathroom to soak it but, of course, the fasten seatbelt signs were on and we were about to take off. So I pulled out my wet wipes and started furiously dabbing and blotting.
Within an hour my shirt was completely dry and almost entirely stain free! I couldn’t believe it. And I immediately stocked up on more Wet Wipes the moment I got home.
4. THIS Lip Balm
Does anyone else deal with extremely dry skin on flights? I have eczema and very dry skin to begin with so staying moisturized on a plane is a real challenge.
Especially for my lips.
I’ve tried pretty much everything under the sun but this is the lip balm I restock on time and time again (Hubby loves it as much as I do!). It’s a thick, salve-like consistency that blankets your lips in moisture. It feels like you’re wearing a soft lip shield and I cannot recommend giving it a try enough!
5. Extra Underwear
I learned this trick from my father who spent much of my childhood commuting back and forth between Germany, Asia, and home.
Always pack a few extra pairs of underwear. I can think of dozens of stressful travel scenarios where a pair of extra underwear would literally save the day. And while I’ve been lucky enough to never have to use my “emergency pairs” while traveling, I always travel more soundly knowing they’re there.
6. Hot Sauce Packets
I learned to carry hot sauce packets after my trip to the Arctic Circle in Finland. While 90% of the food was absolutely delicious, breakfast was especially bland and unvaried. One dab of hot sauce could have woken up the entire meal!
So — if you often find food to be a little bland when you travel, keep a hot sauce packet handy in your bag for a quick condiment! Just be sure to be discreet when you’re using it: there’s no need to be insulting if the food is a little bland for your taste. The world would be a very boring place if we all had the same taste, right?
NOTE — Hot sauce is my go-to but this works with any condiment really: ketchup, mustard, wasabi… I even saw a girl once bring a small container of Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning with her! So clever.
7. Golf Balls
No, not to hit!
Packing a golf ball in your travel bag is the best way to relieve tension on the road. You can roll a golf ball under your foot for a mini foot massage or behind your back to break-up any knots you have from being cramped into a plane.
The best part is you can usually find golf balls around for free so packing one is a no-brainer. Though I have to admit I did splurge on these pretty gold ones for my travel bag…
When I flew home from Italy I had — TRULY — the worst flight of my life. Chicago had been undergoing massive flooding, rains, tornado-esque winds, and lighting for almost 20 hours before our plane tried to land.
And land it did not. After having the scariest drop I’ve ever taken in a plane as we approached Chicago, we had to pull out last minute and spin around to land in Detroit. Where we sat for a few hours until we were again able to try to land in Chicago.
By the point we touched down in Detroit I’d been awake for almost 30 hours. I had foolishly stayed up my entire last night in Cremona with friends, left at 5 am for a 2.5 hour drive to the Milan Airport, then a delay in my flight to NYC, then a 6-hour delay once I landed in NYC, and then the flight that was rerouted to Detroit at midnight, almost 30 hours later.
To say I was physically and mentally exhausted would be an understatement. While we were sitting at the Detroit Airport I started to shake from lack of food.
And I must have been shaking so much that the sweet gentleman next to me asked if I’d eaten anything. When I nodded “no”, he reached into his bag and pulled out a small bag of almonds. You know, the ones they often hand out with your drinks after takeoff.
As he handed them to me I almost wanted to kiss him, I was that pathetic. Five minutes later, empty almond bag in hand, he told me that once he’d been stuck on a plane for almost 11 hours due to some very bizarre circumstances and because he’d saved his almond snack from his previous flight, he managed to keep his blood sugar up enough to make it home.
I’ll never forget that man or those almonds. And you better believe I never forget to pack my almonds before a flight now…
Okay, okay this one isn’t “surprising” but it frequently grosses me out how few people travel with kleenex. Especially considering how amply available the small travel packets are.
Don’t be THAT person. Keep your germs to yourself! And (BONUS!) kleenex can act as a temporary breathing filter if you get stuck sitting next to someone who is sick.
10. Safety Pins & Rubber Bands
My wise Nana taught me this trick and it’s the oldest one in my book. You would not BELIEVE the number of times a safety pin or rubber band comes in handy when you’re traveling!
From wardrobe malfunctions to anchoring items together, this combination will save you from so many travel disasters… trust me.
Generally I take about 4 – 6 safety pins of different sizes (you’ll need at least one 2″ or larger one) and 3 rubber bands. I take the largest safety pin and slide on all the smaller safety pins and the rubber bands to keep them all together. Then I clip it into the side lining of my carry-on and I’m done!
What surprising items do you carry on flights?
Needing a little help picking your next trip destination? Here are a few of my recent favorites: