Hand Luggage Essentials

Whether I’m taking a three-hour train ride or an eight-hour long haul flight, there are a few things I always have by my side. Here are my carry-on essentials for travel.

  • Scarf.  I tend to get cold quite easily and particularly on air conditioned planes, so no matter the weather I always take a scarf. It’s a lightweight blanket, pillow, and fashion accessory all in one!
  • Toiletries.  It’s always nice to freshen up before landing, so I like to carry small toiletries like makeup wipes, a disposable toothbrush, small deodorant and body spray.
  • Hair accessories.  When my hair  has been messed up by headrests or from sleeping against a window pane, it’s an easy fix thanks to a small hair brush, hair ties, and bobby pins.

  • Makeup.  I feel that I look tired without a bit of mascara and lipgloss, and especially so after a long few hours travelling. I always have some makeup and a mirror in my handbag.
  • Trinkets from home.  My keys are attached to a little Miffy keychain that my Husband bought for me in Amsterdam. I like keeping it close not only because I like knowing where my keys are at all times, but because Miffy makes me smile! I also like to wear some piece of jewelry from a friend or family member, such as the bracelet from my parents pictured below.
  • Wallet.  Before going out of town, I remove anything from my wallet that I won’t be needing, such as loyalty cards or coins. If going abroad, I also rummage around the flat to see if I have any foreign currency from previous trips that might be useful. I also notify my banks online that I’ll be travelling, to ensure that my card isn’t frozen due to suspicious activity. I also find it helpful to familiarise myself with the exchange rate, just to get a feel for prices before arriving at the destination.
  • Water.  The humidity level of a plane cabin is far lower than that of your typical home or office. Plus, travellers (including myself!) tend to drink far less when in the air. To prevent dehydration, I need to carry water with me all of the time. Memobottle is a great alternative to traditional plastic bottles, thanks to its sleek design.
  • Snack(s).  I like to have some element of choice and control over what I’m eating. Especially when I’m rushing to get to the departure gate, I don’t want to fuss around with overpriced or limited food options at the airport. I find it helpful to take some sort of protein-rich snack with me, such as a bounce ball – I love their almond hits!
  • Reading materials.  I know that these days it’s quite popular to bring along a tablet or laptop with movies for flights, but for me, nothing beats a good paperback book or magazine. Air travel always feels like a protected zone: a few hours without email notifications or phone calls. I like the vibe of a screenless little “sky sanctuary,” so unless there’s an interesting drama offered by the airline (Hraunið on IcelandAir was really good!), I rarely watch in-flight shows.

carry-on
my travel essentials and the supernova bag by furla
  • Travel guide.  I love flipping through glossy guide books to get in the mood for my travels. I particularly like the ones with pull-out maps and in-depth narratives on history, cuisine, and architecture.
  • Travel documents.  While most Americans can travel anywhere without restriction, this wasn’t the case for my trips to Turkey and India, so before travelling abroad I always double-check the visa requirements. In addition to my passport, I must travel with my biometric residence permit to show border control when I return to the UK. I also make sure that my parents have my flight information, and up-to-date photocopies of my travel documents.
  • Eyewear.  I wear contact lenses, so I always take an extra pair of lenses with me in my handbag. As mentioned above, plane cabins can be very dry, so travel sized saline solution helps with scratchy eyes. For extra long flights, I wear my glasses. In all instances, I take an eyemask. Not only is it great for napping on the plane, but it can help with jetlag when you land – plus, if you’re going to Scandinavia in the summertime, eyemasks are a necessity!
  • Medicine.  I suffer from migraines occasionally, and therefore never travel without my favourite brand of pain killer. For ease of going through security, I travel with meds in their original bottle or packaging, as I always seem to be “randomly” selected for drugs testing at airports. In Istanbul, they even tested my toothpaste for drug contents!
  • Tech.  I don’t go anywhere without my wireless noise-cancelling headphones, the h.ear from Sony. Accordingly, I always travel with an extra charge pack and a usb cable or two. As one of my passions in life is photography, I usually travel with a professional camera and memory card, in addition to the admittedly very good camera on my Samsung phone. Finally, I always carry a travel power adapter for use at the airport departure lounge.

What are your carry-on essentials? Have you ever needed to buy anything last-minute at the airport?

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