Between long layovers, cancelled flights, and noisy neighbors, flying can be less than pleasant. Make your next flight as smooth as possible with these carry-on essentials!
1. Prescriptions and Over-the-Counter Medications
One thing you don’t want to worry about if you are one of the unlucky who winds up with missing checked baggage is lost medications. Keep your prescriptions on hand and make sure you throw in extra over-the-counter medications like allergy pills, pain relievers, upset stomach soothers, cough drops and tissues. Definitely at the top of the carry-on essentials list!
2. Ear Plugs and an Eye Mask
Even if you don’t rest well while flying, you can rest a little better with these two. Plus if you don’t feel like chatting, ear plugs are a good way to keep a chatty seatmate at bay!
3. Snacks & Water
Depending on the length of your flight, meals might be included (or available for purchase) but don’t depend on the airline to keep you satisfied. Throw an empty water bottle in your carry-on to fill up from a water fountain or purchase a beverage before you board. Snacks like nuts, chips, granola bars (and chewing gum for popping ears) will keep you full and save you from the expensive in-flight menu.
4. Earbuds or headphones
Flights go by much faster with some in-flight entertainment! Some airlines provide complimentary earbuds while others have them available for purchase. Throw your own in your bag before you go and you won’t have to worry.
5. Makeup and Toiletries
Just in case your bag doesn’t make the destination or you need a little refreshing before you land, having your makeup and toiletries on hand (especially toothpaste and a toothbrush) is a great idea!
6. A change of clothing
Roll up an extra shirt and change of underwear. You can still freshen up while you wait for your luggage to be found!
7. Chargers and Cords
A recent flight I was on had USB ports for charging electronics. Fortunately I had thought to keep all my cords in my carry on! These are great to have on hand too at the airport while waiting to board or on a layover.
8. Copies of documents
Your flight itinerary and copy of your passport in your checked bag won’t be helpful if it’s lost. Keep an additional copy of all helpful documents in your carry-on just in case. A few things to take:
- Travel Itinerary, including hotel name and address, helpful phone numbers, contacts, etc.
- Prescriptions, including eye glasses (better to be prepared!)
9. Scarf or cardigan
It can get a little chilly on board and a lightweight scarf or cardigan can be used as a blanket or jacket should you need a little more warmth.
10. Sunglasses and a poncho
You never know what the weather will be like once you land! A sudden storm can make for a wet cab ride so it’s better to have a small (and cheap) poncho on hand just in case!
Sunglasses should be stored in a hard case (so as not to be crushed) and the carrying case can serve a dual purpose and hold some jewelry as well.
11. Plastic Bags and an Envelope
You’ve got your carry-on liquids in a plastic bag already, but toss in a couple of extras for items like a toothbrush you use on a plane, a damp article of clothing, etc. Keeping an envelope in your bag for travel receipts is essential too for keeping track of business-related travel expenses.
12. Antibacterial Wipes and Hand Gel
If you can’t crawl over the sleeping guy in the aisle seat to get to the restroom to wash your hands before dinner you can at least keep a few travel germs away with a a drop or two of hand gel or a quick wipe of your tray table.
Have your own list of carry-on essentials? Share!
Originally published June 10, 2016