As a seasoned traveler, I have, through trial and error, figured out the essential elements I must bring with me whenever I take a trip, especially a long one (5+ hours). I’m posting from the Hong Kong airport, so I don’t have pictures of my items, but I’ll do my best to describe them for you. Beyond the obvious travel items one may take on a trip, I like to bring:
- A large scarf or pashmina– This versatile piece of clothing serves as a traditional scarf, a blanket when you get cold on the airplane, or a wrap, which is essential in some cultures where women have to have their shoulders covered in public. I usually bring my black one because it goes with everything.
- My neck pillow– As someone who has trouble sleeping on airplanes, I used to lug around my full-sized pillow, but the more you travel, the more you realize how annoying and ridiculous that is. I’ve tried several neck pillows, but the one that works for me is my one made of memory foam. It holds its shape no matter what you do to it. Not only is the neck pillow great for sleeping on the airplane (or bus or train or…), I’ve used it to sleep in the airport, stretched out on the benches, as a pillow in hostels that didn’t pass my cleanliness test, and in my lap as a book rest when I’m reading on the airplane. I highly recommend it!
- A sleep mask– First of all, don’t laugh…I realize how ridiculous I look wearing this, but it really helps me get a snooze in when the lights are on. My friend Melissa likes to call me a ‘princess’ when I wear it. She can call me whatever she likes, but I’m a happy ‘princess’ when I get my sleep! The one I have is black, not too tight, and made of silky material. I bought it in the LA airport when I left my other one at home, and I have been a happy sleeper ever since!
- A comfy travel outfit– I like fashion as much as the next girl, but when I travel, I prefer comfort over fashion! My go-to travel outfit consists of comfy stretchy pants such as leggings or yoga pants, a tank top, t-shirt, and hoodie or track jacket on top (layers are key to account for varying temperatures), my scarf, socks, and slip-on Nike tennis shoes for breezing through security. I don’t wear jewelry when I travel either. More of a hassle than it’s worth, especially at security checkpoints.
- My iPad mini, a book, and/or laptop– I like to have plenty of stuff to do when I’m on those long-haul flights. My iPad mini is great for storing books, magazines, videos, and apps that I can play or use to research my next travel destination. I also like to have it in case I need to snap a quick photo or jot down a note I don’t want to forget! I like to have at least one paperback book with me, especially for takeoff and landing when all electronic devices need to be switched off. My laptop comes with me if I will be at my destination for a while (such as home for the holidays), I need to do some work while on vacation, or I would like to blog.
- Small toiletry bag– This one is so important. I have a small 3x2x1 inch bag I bought at the fake market. It fits nicely into my carry on and houses lots of important odds and ends that I may need on the flight. I have my pill box with Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Pepto Bismol, Melatonin (essential for helping me sleep), and Tums. While I may not need any of those medicines, it sure is great to have when I do! In it I also keep a travel hairbrush, travel ready-to-use toothbrushes, a few mints, hair ties and barrettes, chapstick, hand sanitizer, face lotion, wet wipes (so important), Kleenex, and hand lotion. All of these items are travel sized and fit nicely into my bag that takes up less room than a paperback book.
- Noise-cancelling earbuds– These are great for blocking out the sounds of the screaming baby in aisle 12, the snoring man next to you, and the constant interruptions of the PA system. They also prevent you from having to use the airline-provided headphones, which make me think of germs. Yuck!
- Reusable water bottle– If you’ve ever traveled by plane, you know how dehydrating it can be. There’s nothing worse than being thirsty on the plane! I hate when I forget my water bottle because the flight attendants will only give you a small cup of water at a time. Since there’s no lid, you can’t save the water for later or it’ll spill. I bring my own, and ask the flight attendant to fill it up on the first drink run. As a bonus, you can use it when you are traveling so you aren’t constantly having to buy and throw away water bottles.
- An empty recycled grocery bag– You never know when you might need more space in your luggage. You don’t want to forgo that really cool souvenir because you don’t have room in your bag. Bringing an extra bag takes up no room or weight, but it gives you the flexibility to bring something back home that you may not have been able to otherwise. Sometimes I use it, other times it comes back empty. It’s just good to have. I’ve also used it as a day bag when in a pinch.
What items are essential when you travel?