You’ve booked the perfect vacation, packed your favorite outfits and know each and every Instagram-worthy bakery and can’t-miss restaurant you’re going to visit when you arrive at your destination. You have just one hurdle before vacation bliss can officially set in: the flight. No matter how long or short the flight, air travel these days can be inconvenient, uncomfortable and sometimes downright miserable. However, there are a few small things you can do to prepare that will greatly improve your experience in the friendly skies.
To be perfectly honest, I used to abhor flying. I had a streak of bad luck from 1999-2010 that resulted in 80% of my flights being canceled or delayed, more often than not resulting in sleeping in a certain midwestern airport (I’m looking at you O’Hare!). Somewhere along the way I learned to always expect delays, to roll with the punches and to pack the perfect carry-on.
First, you need the perfect carry-on vessel. Here are a few options:
A great carry-on bag must meet the following requirements: lightweight, sturdy fabric, zippered closure (no open totes!), roomy enough to hold the essentials and stylish enough that you actually want to carry it around all day long. You can find the Flight 001 duffle at Nordstrom Rack for only $24.97. It may not be the most versatile color, but this bag is very affordable for the quality and functionality! The Longchamp La Pliage bag is a bit of a splurge at $255, but it’s endlessly adaptable and expands to a pretty large size if you’re prone to over-packing (as I am). The polka dot Baggu canvas weekender will fit more than you think and is cute yet still neutral enough to wear with any outfit.
Essentials for short and medium flights (1-4 hours)
There are a few basics you need on any flight, regardless of the length. (Note: These lists assume you have essentials like your wallet, phone and ID covered already.)
- Reading material (If you’re a Kindle reader, bring a light paperback for backup in case your Kindle dies or malfunctions.)
- Headphones (With an 18-hour battery, these stylish wireless headphones are worth the price at less than $100)
- Portable chargers for phone, iPad, laptop, etc. (This travel charger is highly rated and some colors are on sale for less than $20.)
- Large scarf — keep it medium weight and oversized so it can double as a light blanket (This scarf is under $35!)
- Snacks (nuts, apple, granola — anything to keep you from eating 10 bags of stale pretzels)
- Refillable water bottle (This one collapses to save space.)
- All required daily medicines and supplies (contacts, glasses, etc.)
- Sunscreen (Plane windows block UVB rays, but damaging UVA rays can still penetrate glass. This set will have you covered.)
Interminable length flight (4+ hours)
Here is where you really need to take my advice. I once sat through an overnight international flight with very little access to any form of entertainment. What can I say? Sometimes the universe conspires against you so that instead of watching the mediocre in-flight movie, you have to sit in silence and contemplate your life choices for 10 hours straight. Don’t be like me — be prepared!
- In addition to the items for the short and medium flights, pack the following:
- Flight001 Aero Pak. For only $32, this kit includes an eye mask, an inflatable pillow, earplugs, padded socks, a dental kit and a pen. Go ahead and throw your own notebook in there, too.
- Packable shoes. These Samara foldable ballet flats are great to wear on the plane and also just to have on your trip in case of blisters while sight-seeing (or clubbing — no judgement)
- Vitamins to strengthen immunity and ward off viruses
- These refreshing toiletries are nice to have on hand:
- Dry shampoo (DryBar TripleSec 3-in-1 Texturizer is a reliable multi-use option.)
- Deodorant swipes (Whish deoderant swipes are non-toxic and highly portable.)
- Face wipes (Ursa Major Essential Wipes can be used for your hands or to remove makeup and refresh your face.)
- Hydrating serum (Just a few dabs of this fast-absorbing Mario Badescu serum will bring dry, dull skin back to life.)
In related news, I was actually on a flight while writing this article, so I asked the flight attendants for their best travel tips. In no particular order, here they are:
- Use TWO luggage tags per checked bag. Put one tag on the outside and one on the inside, just in case the one on the outside is pulled off.
- Download movies and podcasts the night BEFORE you leave. You cannot rely on airport or plane Wi-Fi.
- Roll your clothing for the best space efficiency.
- Wear at least three layers of clothing while on the plane so that you can be prepared for any and all temperature variances.