I’ve been spending a lot of time travelling lately, so I thought this would be a good time to share my suggestions for airplane essentials and in-flight tips and tricks. As many of you already know, I only ever travel with hand luggage (which at the moment consists of my small Lipault spinner carry-on collapsible suitcase and a small backpack).
Into my suitcase I pack my capsule wardrobe and any miscellaneous items that I won’t need to access during a short/medium haul flight.
Into my backpack go my in-flight essentials (though most of these are the same for train, boat, or any other form of public transport).
Here are 10 things I never fly without:
1. Wool socks. Always, always. On longer flights I like to take off my shoes, but my toes are always cold and the blankets rarely reach to cover them. I never travel without wool socks.
2. Wetwipes. I’m not normally a fan of disposable products (I’ve even replaced all paper towels with linen napkins and microfibre cloths in my house) but after hours of travelling with limited access to running water, these are invaluable . Great for cleaning up spills, a quick face/body refresh, and daubing stains. I only use these when I travel, because at home I can just use a cloth and water. Would love to find a good reusable, but until then . . .
3. Headphones. My earbuds for short flights and my Boss noise cancelling over-ears for long haul trips. I always decline single use handout headphones from cabin crew.
4. Water bottle. Fill it up after security, and before boarding. Most airports have water fountains for refilling bottles. You can always ask the cabin crew to refill your bottle instead of accepting a plastic cup when the refreshments trolly arrives.
5. Savoury and sweet snack. At least one of each – some crackers and a piece of fruit, a sandwich and a piece of chocolate – whatever. When you’re hit with a craving or start covering your neighbour’s lunch you won’t have to resort to overpriced, substandard airplane snacks.
6. Lip balm and moisturizer. That recycled air gets dry. You might even benefit from eyedrops.
7. Eye mask, earplugs, inflatable pillow set. These are tiny items take up almost no space but can mean the difference between a good(ish) night’s rest and a red eye flight.
8. Pen. You’ll get a head start on your landing card, and might even get in a few games of hangman.
9. Reading material or hobby. I usually take my Kindle/book/audiobook and sometimes my knitting. Needles are fine passing through security, but if you take scissors, check that the length of the blade didn’t exceed airline regulation. If I have work to do, I’ll also take my iPad or laptop.
10. Details of where you’re headed. You’ll often need to provide a customs officer with a contact address (even if it’s just the hotel you’ve booked for your first night’s stay). Keep these details on hand to help reduce stress at the border.
In-flight Tips and Tricks
- Dress in loose, breathable layers. Try pairing a really light linen tank/tee with a heavier wool coat or sweater so you’re prepared for dips and swells in temperature.
- Request a special meal before you go. Most airlines will happily accommodate particular diets (veggie, vegan, kosher, even low calorie) if you specify in advance. Plus, you’ll get to eat first!
- Before you fly, update your e-reader, podcasts, playlists.
- Drink lots. I try to drink 250ml of water for every hour in the air.
- Get up, stand up – stand up for your flight! Move around and stay active on long haul flights to reduce the risk of DVT.
- Don’t forget to sign up for frequent flyer programs if you fly with the same airline(s) regularly. There are perks!
- Many flights will no longer accept cash, so if you do plan to make purchases onboard, you’ll need a credit card.
- My favorite app for finding cheap flights is Skyscanner – it has a great feature which allows you to search for “cheapest dates” or “cheapest destination” from your home airport. It’s my starting point for every journey.