There are a lot of ways to pack your carry-on bag, but sometimes the “what” is more important than the “how.” To be blunt, travelling on an aeroplane can be both gross and boring. When I’m flying the friendly skies, I have a personal checklist of items that are “must-haves” for my carry-on bag, in my attempt to feel a little fresher and be a little more entertained. Many of these small items deserve a permanent spot in your carry-on bag, too.
A clean T-shirt. I used to never bring a fresh T-shirt in my carry-on bag — that is, until the flight I spilled an entire can of Ginger Ale on myself, and sat in a damp, sticky shirt all the way to sunny Orlando. Now I always pack a spare.
A pen. If you’re like me, you can only spend so much time staring at your device before your eyes glaze over. A pen comes in handy if you want to do the in-flight magazine’s crossword puzzle, fill out customs forms, or simply doodle.
A pack of gum. According to Hearing Healthy, chewing gum or (sucking on a hard candy) will stimulate frequent swallowing, which helps equalise air pressure.
Portable phone charger. It’s a humbling moment when you get that low battery notification on your phone and you know there’s nothing you can do about it. Don’t get caught unprepared; invest in a portable charger to give yourself a fighting chance to stave off boredom on your cross-country flight.
Sunglasses/sleep mask. The jury is still out on who has the right to the window shade on a flight, but you can make that a nonissue. Slipping a mask on is much easier than getting into an etiquette debate with a stranger.
A stick of deodorant. You’re going to experience varying temperatures as you travel from the outdoors through the airport and on the plane. Given the close quarters you’re going to be in, it doesn’t hurt to be able to reapply (discreetly in the bathroom, of course) as needed.
Tissues. Tissues are one of those things that you want to have on hand before you need them.
Snacks. As airlines continue to find areas to cut back to keep their overhead down, you can no longer count on them to provide you with sufficient snacks for the duration of your flight. Just consider buying from Trader Joe’s instead of Hudson News.
A magazine. The reason I opt for a magazine is because I can thrust it in my bag without caring about keeping it in good condition the way I would for a book. Plus, is a nice excuse to indulge myself by reading something trashy.
Headphones. Perhaps the most important item you can have, headphones are going to come in clutch the second you’re looking for something to drown out those plane engines or crying babies. Just make sure your charging case is fully juiced before take off.