When people think about traveling, they often glaze over all the technicalities and jump right to the fun stuff like sightseeing, eating, and shopping. While these things are the reason we travel in the first place, a great trip is largely defined by the planning that takes place before hand. I’ve already shared with you my tips and tricks to planning in my blog post Failure to Prepare is Preparing to Fail, but now I want to talk about surviving a long flight.

There’s nothing worst than taking your seat on the aircraft, which is often cramped and uncomfortable to begin with, and forgetting something. Are you that person that ends up frantically searching through your carry-on for a charger, your headphones or your reading material? Don’t be that person!

After all, we’re in vacation mode and we don’t need any last minute stress. Here are some of my holy-grail items that I’m sure to pack so I can keep calm with my carry-on:


Medicine/Emergency Medical Card

If you have any prescription medication, be sure to pack it in your carry-on in case you need to take it during the flight, and also because luggage can get lost or stolen and you wouldn’t want to be abroad without your medication. It’s also a nice idea to have one of those cards that list your emergency contact information, address, doctor’s information, medications and medical conditions in your wallet or travel lanyard. I also carry ibuprofen, Dramamine and Pepto-Bismol in case I get a headache, motion sickness, heartburn or an upset stomach. The trial/travel section in just about any drug store carries these items.

Disinfectant Wipes/Sanitizer

As a general rule, I tend to carry sanitizer and wipes with me any time I’m traveling, but especially on the aircraft. These planes travel all over the world, carrying thousands of passengers from all walks of life, so as a safety precaution I tend to wipe down my area when I first get there. I’ve cleaned commercial aircraft for years, and while the cleaning crews do wipe the tray tables and video monitors, it doesn’t hurt to be extra cautious. No one wants to get sick before the trip even starts!

Bottled Water/Flask

If you’re going to spend money in the terminal for anything, I’d suggest it be a bottle of water. I have been on flights that are 6 hours long where the flight crew only comes around once or twice for beverages.  It’s nice to just have a bottle of water with you in case you get thirsty, and it’s always important to stay hydrated while traveling. Most airports have filtered water stations or coffee shops that are happy to fill up a flask with ice and water if you decide to pack an empty one in your carry-on. The only thing better than being hydrated is being hydrated for free!


Snacks are something that you don’t necessarily have to pick up at the airport, so if at all possible, pick some up for the flight on the way to the airport to save yourself some money. I’m not one to pack FOOD food for a flight because I don’t want to risk an upset stomach or have to use the bathroom during the flight. I do, however pack at least a couple of light snacks. Because I’m all about options, I usually have something sweet and something salty. My go-to snacks are Sour Cream and Onion Pringles and a Snickers bar.

Neck Pillow

Whether I’m on a quick 60-minute flight or a 12-hour flight, I always have my neck pillow with me. When traveling abroad, I’ve found myself flying on unfamiliar airlines with different seats, configurations and amenities and more often than not, the seat is uncomfortable and there is no pillow provided . Especially when I find myself without a window or friend to lean on, my pillow gives my neck and head support and allows me to relax.

Light Jacket

A light jacket is easy to fit into your carry-on, and comes in clutch on flights that don’t offer a blanket. Most airlines keep the cabin really cool for everyone’s comfort, so if you’re someone who gets cold easily, a light jacket is an easy fix.

Reading Material

Nowadays, a plane is the only place I find myself reading and I find that it’s the perfect place for it. There aren’t many outside distractions, it tends to be pretty quiet, there’s usually a reading light, you have the time to read and the desire to find something to take your mind off of the flight tracking information reminding you that you’re nowhere near your final destination. While the stores in the airport terminals are sure to have a wide collection of books, they’re also sure to charge you more than you’d pay at a bookstore or at your local Target. Happy reading!

Headphones/Ear Plugs:

Pick your poison; music or silence? Whichever tickles your fancy, I’m pretty sure it’ll trump the baby crying in the row behind you, the person snoring next to you or the mind-numbing sound of the jet engines. I never leave the house without my headphones on any given day anyway, but when you’re strapped to a chair for hours, being able to listen to music, watch a movie or just sit in complete silence is priceless. Some airlines will have earphones available for purchase in-flight, but they’re often over-priced and low in quality. BONUS TIP: Instead of people-watching at the gate, make a playlist of songs to listen to on the plane, or download a movie to your device to save yourself from having to purchase in-flight entertainment.

Charger/Charging Cable

Because my phone is my number one lifeline when I travel, I always pack my charger, a portable charger and charging cable. Whenever I can, I make sure to charge my phone and other devices because I always hit the ground running. When it comes to portable chargers, I implore you to invest in something of quality because you really get what you pay for. Don’t resort to picking one up from a gas station or at some gift shop. The one I have is by Mophie and I got it from my local Best Buy. It was almost $100 but it’s durable, has multiple USB ports, and can charge my phone from 0-100 at least two times!

So let’s see…we’re not cold, we aren’t going to have a sore back or a stiff neck, we aren’t hungry or thirsty, we won’t be bored, sick or nursing a dead phone. We have our essentials to survive this flight and all that is left for us to do is enjoy our trip!

Bon Voyage!