I've flown at least once a month for the last year -- here are 17 things I never travel without

Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • Flights require a particular set of items if you want to remain comfortable and relaxed.
  • The more you travel, the more you learn what to pack – and what to leave behind.
  • Author Natalia Lusinski has taken 15 flights in the past year, and these are the items she never travels without.

As someone who has taken 15 flights in the last year, there are several items that are must-haves when travelling. Of course, it’s a learn-by-doing process, but I’ve finally distilled my carry-on bag to a compact assortment of essentials.

Each time I step foot on an aeroplane, I bring with me what I like to call my “plane kit.” The kit is an assortment of smaller items grouped together in a makeup bag that I take from flight to flight. This way, I don’t have to keep repacking my flight essentials and am sure that everything I need is in one, easily accessible place.

Here are 17 items I’d never travel without.


1. A comfortable hoodie

migrean/ShutterstockA hoodie can keep you warm if your aeroplane is uncomfortably cool.

Planes often seem to be too hot or too cold. A hoodie can keep you warm if your aeroplane is uncomfortably cool, and if not, you can use the hoodie as a cushion to sit on, a germ barrier between you and the headrest, or a pillow.


2. Earplugs

Thermchai/ShutterstockNothing’s worse than wanting to take a nap on a flight, only to realise there’s a crying baby behind you.

Nothing’s worse than wanting to take a nap on a flight, only to realise there’s a crying baby behind you. Maybe you want to catch up on work and need to drown out ambient noise. Whatever the case may be, travelling with earplugs is a must.


3. An eye mask

Natalia LusinskiWhether you want to get some sleep or just want to relax without being disturbed, an eye mask’s got you covered.

Whether you want to get some sleep or just want to relax without being disturbed, an eye mask’s got you covered – literally. When I flew Etihad Airways to Australia last year, they gave out eye masks with messages that said “Do not disturb” on one side and “Wake me up to eat” on the other. Genius.


4. Book

pio3/ShutterstockIt’s a good idea to have some reading material with you when you travel.

Whether you bring a physical book or read one on an e-reader, it’s a good idea to have some reading material with you when you travel. After all, you may read through the in-flight magazine before takeoff, or the movies on offer may not appeal to you (if in-flight entertainment is even an option). Plus, research has found that reading a three-dimensional book will help reduce stress and may combat insomnia, so it’s good nap prep.


5. Portable charger

hurricanehank/ShutterstockWhile more and more aeroplanes have electrical sockets these days, it’s always best to bring a portable charger just in case.

While more and more aeroplanes have electrical sockets these days, it’s always best to bring a portable charger just in case. The last thing you want to do is arrive at your destination and realise that your phone’s about to die, forcing you to wait and charge your phone so you can call a car.


6. Notebook and pen

iChzigo/ShutterstockWhether you’re a writer or not, a notebook is great for everything from making to-do lists for your destination to keeping a journal of your trip.

Whether you’re a writer or not, a notebook is great for everything from making to-do lists for your destination to keeping a journal of your trip (it’s never too late to start!). Plus, a notebook and pen doesn’t need recharging.


7. A laptop

TravnikovStudio/ShutterstockAs a full-time traveller, planes make for perfect temporary office.

As a digital nomad who travels the world full-time, my laptop is my lifeline. Since there’s always a work or travel blog deadline I have to meet, planes make for perfect temporary offices.


8. Downloaded media

Gena Melendrez/ShutterstockIt’s best to make sure you’ve downloaded everything onto your phone, tablet, or laptop while you’re on WiFi before boarding the plane.

Whether you want to listen to your favourite podcast, music, or meditation, or if you just need some good old-fashioned white noise, it’s best to make sure you’ve downloaded everything onto your phone, tablet, or laptop while you’re on WiFi before boarding the plane.


9. Earbuds or noise-cancelling headphones

Atstock Productions/ShutterstockAlthough some airlines provide or sell headphones, they may not always be available, so it’s best to bring your own.

Personally, I prefer bringing earbuds on flights, since they take up less space than over-ear noise-cancelling headphones. Although some airlines provide or sell headphones, they may not always be available, so it’s best to bring your own.


10. Snacks

First Class Photography/ShutterstockAeroplane food isn’t exactly gourmet — it helps to bring snacks.

Aeroplane food isn’t exactly gourmet, and it’s not always free like it used to be, either. Even if you will be eating a meal on the plane, it helps to bring some protein-heavy snacks, like nuts, to hold you over until mealtime. No one wants a hangry seatmate!


11. Pain relievers and decongestants

Wikimedia CommonsI bring ibuprofen with me on all flights.

I bring a little pill box with me for flights with ibuprofen,acetaminophen, and a decongestant (in case I need to alleviate blocked ears from allergies or having been sick). Being stuck on a plane for hours with a headache is not fun, so it’s best to be prepared.


12. Gum and/or hard candy

Outlook 24 Hr/ShutterstockTo stop your ears from popping on a plane, bring chewing gum.

If you want to stop your ears from popping on an aeroplane, it’s good to chew gum or suck on hard candy, since they will induce swallowing.


13. Hand sanitizer

Elizaveta Galitckaia/ShutterstockYou never know when you’ll need to clean off your hands on a flight.

You never know when you’ll need to clean off your hands on a flight, whether it’s before you eat or if you happen to touch the tray table that’s sticky from someone else’s mess – I’ve even seen people use wet wipes to clean off their tray table before using it.

Because planes tend to be full of germsand you want to avoid getting sick on your flight, it’s smart to carry a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer.


14. Tissues

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesA travel-sized pack of tissues is another must-have on an aeroplane.

A travel-sized pack of tissues is another must-have on an aeroplane, as you never know when you’ll need a tissue (i.e., to wipe off the aforementioned tray table).


15. Plastic baggies

Whytock/ShutterstockNeed a temporary garbage can or something to store your passport in? Baggies are problem-solvers.

Speaking of plastic baggies, whether you use them for the snacks you’re bringing on board or to hold some of your other plane travel must-haves, like ibuprofen, they come in handy more often than you think. Need a temporary garbage can? Need something to store your passport in? Need a way to separate your foreign currency? Baggies are problem-solvers.


16. Compression socks

Black Salmon/ShutterstockCompression socks help maintain blood flow, as well as decrease swelling.

Compression socksare another must-have when flying, especially long distance. According to the National Health Service in the UK, compression socks help maintain blood flow, as well as decrease swelling. So, while you’re sitting for hours, the socks will help do your blood-circulation work for you.


17. A change of clothes

XMike/ShutterstockIt’s good to have a backup change of clothes in your carry-on in case your luggage is misplaced.

These days, you never know if your checked bag will arrive at your destination at the same time or day that you do, so it’s good to have a backup change of clothes in your carry-on. Yes, you can always buy a touristy shirt to wear, but if your luggage is lost for more than a day, you may get tired of wearing “I <3 Madrid” (or similar) t-shirts.

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