100% Must-Haves in Your Carry-On Personal Bag

Getting on a plane is stressful enough right? You’ve got luggage, you’ve got people, you may even have animals (looking at you emotional support pig). Having the right things in your carry-on personal item will help. For our sakes, I won’t mention jackets, pants or medication as those are pretty personal choices.

For our purposes here, we’re going to play a game of “What will I need” and keep in mind that all you have is a backpack/duffle or big purse. No reaching into the overhead compartment for spare stuff and you can’t go down into the cargo hold because well, that’s cheating. Now let’s see whose the most comfortable on our flight to the Island of Nowhere.

In Situation #1, you’ve gotten to your seat and realize A, your child or travel companion has forgotten their Noise-Cancelling Headphones and B, you only have yours to lend. What do you do in this case? Especially if your companion is making a fuss? Why you’d be nice and lend them yours! So with a smile, you lend them your lovely Sony or Bang & Olufsen (sorry Bose, not a fan) headphones. In this case, what do you need?

So in Situation #1, it pays to not only have Noise-Cancelling earphones or headphones but spare earplugs as well. The earplugs can also be used if/and when your headphones may die, or if your travel companion happens to snore like a freight train. It may also help you block out the noise of that screaming toddler someone brought onto the flight. Not the toddlers’ fault, air pressure sucks up there, isn’t that why you have those special headphones in the first place?

Here for Situation #2, we have something of personal preference. I, generally, do not drink water from the flight attendants cart unless it comes from a bottle. The water that comes onto the plane to use for coffee or tea, isn’t always safely stored. They can come from giant tanks miles away, stored in all manner of conditions, and aren’t always checked. You’re likely safer at a larger international airport but why take the risk? So What do you want in your bag in this case?

For Situation #2, I use a collapsible bottle or hydration bladder and fill that all the way up after security. Yes, buying water at the airport can be expensive, but you do have the option of the water fountain water too. That bloated feeling most of us get on the plane? Too much salt in the food, not enough water, too much sitting.

In Situation #3, we have a dietary restriction. Increasingly, people have food allergies or food preferences (looking at you vegan folks). If the airline doesn’t have a meal option to your preference, you’ve got to be prepared. What if the airline changed their menu or they’ve not posted one at all. What can you do?

Much of Situation #3, we’re talking about smart prepping. If you suspect that the meal on the plane isn’t going to go your way, get a meal to go at the airport. Buy a sandwich and save it for the plane. Bring it in a flexible cooler bag and store it with 2 of those ice cold bottles of water I hope you bought so it stays cold. Can’t do that? Vegan Snack Bars. Those are a real thing. DO NOT bring a to go bag from a restaurant and ask the flight attendant to reheat it, it will not go well.

In Situation #4, you’re planning to head right off the plane and go attend a meeting, a wedding, a child’s musical performance, and you know those photos will last a lifetime. After all, the internet is forever. How do you think celebrities look so great getting off a plane(Besides, you know, personal make up artists, trainers, a ton of staff on that private jet)?

Situation #4, is actually pretty similar to situation 2 in that you need to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. No, your water intake does not do it all. I’m talking about skin moisturizer, even for the men in the room, yes you too. They make travel size packaging from most major skin care brands. They cater to the idea of looking good all the time, including getting off planes. So go get that chap stick, that eye cream, that face cream. You’ll feel 10x better getting off that long haul flight.

For Situation #5, you’ve got this long flight and have a ton of plans upon landing. You’ll want to look your best, get the most out of your day and do amazing things on this trip right? You’re done with the in flight entertainment, they’re turning the lights down and you’ve got a solid 8 hours with nothing to do. So what do you need?

If you guessed Sleep for Situation #5, you’d be right! So bring on the eye masks, the fuzzy pillows, the compression socks, and the extra pack-able jacket. I personally don’t need an eye mask, pillow or socks but a jacket with a deep hood will work wonders to keep warm air in and bright light out. Remember that moisturizer? Apply selected routine upon waking up.

In Situation# 6, you’ve landed, you’re exhausted but hopefully well fed and watered. You’re in a foreign country going through customs. What do you need? Take 3 guesses and the first 2 don’t count.

So for Situation #6, you need a Passport! There have been stories over the years, of happy go lucky passengers shoving their entire personal bag into their Check-In bag so they don’t carry anything until baggage claim. This is great except that they’ve now lost sight of their Passport, a dangerous thing to begin with, and won’t have access to it when they go through customs. It usually dawns on people’s minds when they have to fill out a customs declaration form that they need to know their Passport number, which is now unfortunately locked below them and out of reach. Cue the ensuing panicked call for the flight attendant.

Bonus Situation #1 for all of us germaphobes.

Germs are often an afterthought for some people on the plane. No, I don’t mean just the air you breathe but the surfaces you touch. It’s been reported that remotes, tray tables, and touch screens have some of the most germs on them in the plane so I’d suggest wiping down all of these surfaces before you’ve buckled in for the flight. Even if the crew has already done this beforehand, doing it yourself might give you great peace of mind too. I do wear a mask, even if it draws looks. It has a filter too!

Bonus Situation #2, pack a gift for the flight attendants.

I’d say a small gift like sealed candy or chocolate goes a long way. If you’re spending 3 plus hours on a flight, I’d generally suggest giving more than just a polite smile when you board the plane. If you’re feeling generous or on a long haul flight, a Starbucks gift card would not be out of the question either. The objective is to keep the people helping you during your flight as happy as possible. Any left over gift cards can be used on yourself too!

Sincerely,

The PNH

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