Throughout my years of traveling I’ve been testing and curating travel essentials. Once I became a flight attendant, I really invested time and money into a good set of essentials.
Are you going on your first trip or feeling like you’ve missed something on your last flight? Find my best travel essentials right here!
Luggage: Travel backpack or suitcase?
Before investing in a new piece of luggage, I always wonder whether it should be a backpack or a suitcase. This comes down to personal preference and the type of traveling you do. A carry-on suitcase works for most of my travel, but I always keep a backpack on hand for shorter trips.
My Travel bags
My most used bags for travel are a small Tumi spinner, a North Face backpack and a tote bag. I’ll usually use the spinner or one of the bags alone but occasionally I need to use a combination of two or three bags.
Since I prefer to travel light, I never take checked luggage on trips that are shorter than a month. When I did longer trips and especially when I moved abroad – with only two suitcases and a carry-on, I used this big suitcase a lot. I will always prefer 4 wheeled suitcases for any of my travels. The carry-on I currently use is a lot less affordable than the ones I used before I became a flight attendant. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, check out this 4 wheeler carry-on. Any expendable 4 wheeled carry-on will do it for me.
When I travel to beach destinations, I tend to take my tote bag with my carry-on spinner. I just find it easier to carry snorkel or beach essentials in a tote than a backpack. It is not the safest bag for traveling, so I usually leave it at home when I’m not confident taking it to certain destinations or I’ll use a small pouch for my valuables.
These are the basic travel items that I will take on every trip. You should take these items on your next trip to make traveling more convenient and to stay organized and comfortable.
Rather than keeping your personal items in your rollerboard, keep your travel necessities on you in a personal item bag – a handbag, tote or backpack that fits under the seat in front of you – before takeoff so it’s easily accessible while you’re in the air. Few things are less convenient than having to get up constantly to get your charger, book, laptop, and headphones from your carry-on that’s been stowed in the overhead bin.
Long flights dehydrate you. I know you can’t bring liquids past security, but its a good idea to bring your own water bottle and fill it up using water fountains in the airport before your flight.
I recommend: Any Contigo bottle, but their travel mug is my favorite!
Have you ever been seated near a crying baby or a loud family? Be prepared and take a set of comfortable earplugs with you.
I recommend: Any set of earplugs with noise reduction rating of 30 or up.
Hanging toiletry bag
A hanging toiletry bag is an absolute must if you’re staying in different types of accommodations. A hotel will always have space for you to lay down your toiletry bag, but hostels or Airbnb may not. Anticipate with a toiletry bag you can hang off the bathroom door or towel rack.
I recommend: a bag with a clear “wet bag” you can easily take out at the checkpoint in the airport. I’ve been using this one for the past 6 months and love it.
You can’t bring liquids past security, but you’re allowed to take as many snacks with you as you need. Take enough snacks to get you through the flight, in case the snacks provided by the airline are not your favorite.
If you’re the type to fall asleep the moment you sit down, you will have a hard time staying asleep with the lights that will stay on until the end of service. Take an eye mask with you to keep on dreaming.
I like to take a small pouch that I mostly use for valuables. It’s also easy to clip to the inside of your bag or backpack, so you can easily find this little bag among your stuff.
I recommend: a wristlet, so you can easily carry the pouch. I got mine with one of my totes, but it’s similar to this one.
Airplanes are always on the cold side because it can make people sick if it gets too warm. It is always a good idea to bring a big but light scarf so you can be comfortable during your whole flight.
I recommend: a large, soft, pashmina wrap.
These are my favorite items to travel with. They have been the most durable and light items in their category for me.
Always bring your own entertainment! Download some music to your phone, bring your favorite books or kindle, download movies to your iPad. Always download things before the flight – even if the airplane is supposed to have wifi, because the connection might be bad or it might not be working! TVs on airplanes don’t always work either so come prepared just incase you get seated in an unlucky seat without any working inflight entertainment. Also, download a relaxation / white noise app to your phone to help you fall asleep
Why travel carry-on only?
Working for an airline, I see the people every day that work extremely hard to get every checked bag where it’s supposed to go. I am aware this doesn’t always happen at the right time, but most bags get to their destination in the first few days if they don’t appear at luggage claim straightaway. I have no problem with checking in my carry-on to relieve the cabin from being overfilled with bags.
Still, I prefer to not take an actual checked luggage sized suitcase with me on travels. Even though I don’t wear most items twice on my trips, I’ve found that any trip under two weeks worked out perfectly with just a carry-on and a personal bag – and I shop a lot when traveling!
Don’t forget to bring your most important travel assets: kindness, curiosity and patience!
What are your travel essentials? Anything that’s not on this list? Let us know in the comments!