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Travel Tip: Eight In-Flight Essentials to Bring On Your Next Trip

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After traveling over a million miles, I’ve learned a few things about what to bring on a flight.

The list below are my essentials — the few items that I always pack in my bag.

Admittedly it’s taken a long time to understand what I actually use versus what I think I’ll use on the flight. Hopefully these suggestions save you time, space and a potential headache.


Optimize Your Personal Item + Carry On Luggage Space

Most airlines allow you to bring a personal item and carry on onboard if you’re on an economy or higher ticket.

Use your personal item as an in-flight travel kit, where your items are beneath your feet or in your seat back pocket for the duration of the flight.

For your carry on item, we’ll cover what goes inside in a more comprehensive post, later.

What Should I Put in My Personal Item?

  1. Wet wipes – You’re 113 times more likely to catch the common cold during air travel than on the ground. Ward off the germs by wiping down your tray table, seat back, screen and arm rests when you get onboard.
  2. Pen – Save time by filling out any forms the flight crew hands out during the flight rather than at the airport. Don’t waste your previous travel time getting stuck behind an entire plane’s worth of people because you didn’t have a pen on hand.
  3. Compression socks – Even if you don’t have a family history of deep vein thrombosis, emerging studies show that up to 30% of passengers present with signs of DVT. For those unfamiliar, DVT is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg, and blocks blood flow. This blockage can lead to embolism and death. Fear mongering aside, it’s worth putting those tight socks on every flight over three hours.
  4. Blanket – Flights get chilly and there never seem to be enough blankets onboard. Make sure the blanket is long enough to wrap over your feet and shoulders so it can double as a pillow.
  5. Earphones – The freebie earbuds that airlines provide are not only highly uncomfortable (said politely), but wasteful. Now that in-flight entertainment has gotten pretty good, enhance your experience with the right sound.
  6. Eye mask – The eye mask helps filter out all the blue light from the screens around you so you can get some proper shut eye.
  7. Pantyliner – You’re not going to change your underwear in an airplane bathroom, so throw on a pantyliner and switch it out mid-way through the flight to keep you feeling fresh down there. 
  8. Snacks and food specific to meet your dietary requirements – We will create a longer, separate post about this. In summary, don’t rely on the airline to properly nourish, especially if you have a combination of food sensitivities or allergies. For example, any person who is vegan + gluten free should always carry enough food on them in case the airline forces them into selection either “gluten free” or “vegan” on the meal preferences made ahead of the flight.

Skin Care — Do It Prior to Departure

“Typically, skin is comfortable when the humidity is between 40 to 70 percent,” says Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, a clinical instructor in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “Most airplane cabins are at about 20 percent. That’s less than half of what we are used to,” she says.

While you may be tempted to slather on your face creams, lotions and serums while in-flight, think twice.

As your skin dehydrates, it begins to draw in additional moisture from your skin. If you’ve just applied skincare on a germ-filled flight, your skin will absorb the skincare & the air’s moisture. Chances are you’re going to break out.

Use the hour before your flight to apply your normal skincare routine so it has some time to soak in and do its thing. Save the hydrogel mask for when you get to the hotel and instead drink extra water.

On Brushing Your Teeth in the Airplane — Don’t.

A 2015 study on aircraft water quality published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that the water tanks are “conducive for microbial growth.” Airlines still have not consistently shown they have a consistent standard for potable water. Unless you’ve brought a water bottle aboard, I’d wait until after the flight.


What are your in-flight essentials?

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Pingback: Packing: In-Flight Snacks – Engaged Abroad on January 15, 2020

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