How to Fly Stress Free: 13 Carryon Essentials

Lifestyle, Travel / Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017


So, you’re just a day or so away from embarking on your dream trip and now you actually have to pack. Nothing sucks the fun out of traveling like packing. At least, that’s how I’ve always felt. But packing is a lot like perfecting a talent – practice makes perfect. Over the years I’ve learned that making a list works best for me. Then I save that list to a Google doc so I can retrieve it quickly. I’ve also learned from many transatlantic flights what to bring and what not to waste space in my bag with. Everyone has their own unique needs, so what I’m going to suggest might not work for you. And this list is designed for a woman. My husband has a few slightly different items in his bag.


My 13 carryon essentials include:

  • Inflatable neck pillow – I like to stow it away rather than hang it from my bag like I see a lot of other travelers do. And for neat freaks like me, the pillow stays cleaner this way. I can also adjust the firmness of an inflatable pillow.
  • Eyemask – I went for so long without one of these but now that I have one I can’t believe I didn’t use one sooner. Who cares what you look like when you can shut out the in-cabin lighting or the glare from a fellow passenger’s window. Your rest is important.
  • Headphones – I always load up a travel playlist before leaving home. I have a list that helps me sleep and it helps to drown out the airplane and passenger noise.
  • Reading material – I love to read, so I’ll bring a book on most trips. But on transatlantic flights I prefer some shut eye, so a quick magazine or two is plenty for me.
  • iPad – Great for watching movies while on the plane (especially if the onboard selection isn’t your taste), but I also bring mine to quickly transfer photos from my DSLR as a backup and it’s smaller than my laptop.
  • Blanket scarf or pashmina – I probably have 50 of these things I’ve collected from all the countries we’ve been to. They are a great alternative to the flimsy blue airline blanket, plus you can transition them to stylish and warm neckwear when you land. Pictured: Old Navy Oversized Flannel Scarf
  • S’well bottle – I’ve stopped purchasing so many plastic bottles when we travel. If the water is potable where you are, you can refill your S’well from the tap. Or opt for a large bottled water from a nearby store and refill your S’well daily. It’s more economical to buy in bulk and the S’well can take a beating better than other plastic brands I’ve tried.
  • Make-up remover wipes – I’m the type of person who never leaves the house without at least a little bit of make-up on. But prior to landing I’ll give my face a quick clean up. I usually feel pretty gunky (is that a word?) from flying and these help me feel refreshed. I throw on some big sunglasses until we get to the hotel where I can re-apply.
  • Moisturizer – There are a lot of great brands out there but I fell in love with Lindesa Skin Cream with beeswax while in Germany. It does a great job on cuticles. It’s in a TSA approved size, too.
  • Lip-balm – I like Burt’s Bees, but any kind of lip moisturizer will do. The air on the plane is so drying. A tinted lip-balm is even better!
  • Dry shampoo – Even though the atmosphere in a plane is so dry, my hair will still get a little oily on a long flight. Dry shampoo to the rescue! (just don’t spray in your seat!)
  • Hair ties – I like to keep my hair away from my face as much as possible, so I always keep a hair tie in my bag. I also like a headband wrap to tame flyaways.
  • Compact mirror – I don’t want to have to go all the way to the lavatory just to make sure I don’t look scary.

Other items not pictured that are good to consider are any medications you need (including sleep aides), sunglasses, a hat (depending on your destination), and of course your passport.


Once you have all your items, what kind of bag do you use? For short trips a simple tote works for me because then it doubles as my handbag. But for longer trips I prefer to be hands-free. The KENT backpack from STATE is perfect. It’s super roomy in the main compartment with a padded laptop sleeve, but it also has all these little interior pockets that are great for storing you phone, wallet, keys, passport, etc. I also love the durable straps and simplistic and compact design – it fits under the seat in front of you easily. They come in a variety of colors but I prefer black because it goes with everything. Also, STATE is known as the #GIVEBACKPACK. “For every STATE bag purchased, STATE hand-delivers a backpack – packed with essential tools for success – to an American child in need…” – I just love their mission, don’t you? 🙂





And if all else fails, you can almost always buy anything you forget to pack when you get there. Or just say to heck with it and have a funny story to tell your friends. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t let packing overwhelm you. It’s the journey and the experience that really matter.

This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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How to Fly Stress Free: 13 Carryon Essentials first appeared on Cathedrals & Cafes.

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