Travel

What’s Your Must-Pack Travel Item?

What's Your Must-Pack Travel Item

My last airplane trip was not without drama…

I arrived at the airport nice and early. I always leave time — like, way too much time — to grab water, find a snack, and peruse the duty-free shops for shades of lipstick not available elsewhere, before strolling to the gate.

On this particular day, I was traveling with my dog in tow, whose carrier fits comfortably under the seat in front of me. Normally, this process goes seamlessly. But this time, the person at the check-in counter seemed like she had never checked in a pet before, and possibly never checked in any people, either. After an hour (!) of computer-related confusion, we made it through security and raced to the gate in the nick of time. No snacks, no perusal, no fun. My stomach grumbled in protest.

The guy seated in front of me had a very different airport experience. He proceeded to unpack the ENTIRE Chick-Fil-A menu over the course of the next few hours. There was a sandwich… there were waffle fries… there were nuggets… The food kept on coming, while he watched movie after movie, laughing with glee.

We all have our must-pack travel item — for him, it was a fragrant buffet.

Nuggets or otherwise, there is usually that one specific snack or beauty product or good-luck talisman we don’t leave home without.

For me, it’s what I like to call bite-sized reading. Whether it’s a book of essays or short stories, I always travel with a book that accommodates the occasional snooze or cookie break or round of digital backgammon. Examples include Lorrie Moore’s short story book Self-Help (which happens to be my favorite book, ever) and Jessi Klein’s hilarious book of essays You’ll Grow Out of It.

Contributing writer Kelsey never travels without the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask. Before she found it, the extreme dryness of airplane air would inevitably cause her to break out. “You know how you see photos of celebrities at the airport and you’re like, ‘How do they not look like jet-lagged garbage?’ That’s what I thought looking at myself in the mirror after using this mask.” She pops into the bathroom as soon as she’s through security, rinses her face, and puts it on. “It dries really quickly, and it’s so light that it feels (and looks) like nothing’s there, but trust me, IT IS.”

Marketing manager Maureen never packs anything “smelly or squishy” except for one thing — dried apricots. “They’re an excellent source of fiber, which helps you feel full for longer periods of time,” she explains. “Plus, apricots help keep things moving and are way more appetizing than Metamucil packets!” Sold.

What’s your must-pack travel item? Would love to hear!

P.S. One thing NOT to wear on planes and why I never wash my hands in an airplane bathroom.

(Photo by William Eggleston.)

  1. Marnie says...

    I’d love to hear tips of anyone who has flown with their dog overseas?

  2. Refillable water bottle to cut down on single-use plastic and to stay hydrated throughout the flight.
    Hand sanitizer because germs.
    A giant scarf that can double as pillow or blanket as needed.
    Earphones to listen to podcasts or to plug into the in-flight entertainment.
    Kindle Paperwhite because reading is sexy.

  3. Nathalie says...

    Lotion, my Kindle and a scarf the size of a picnic blanket (I’m always cold). Depending on the airline (and length of the flight), I’ll also buy a tiny bottle of gin in duty free for a makeshift G&T — you’ll thank me later.

  4. Emily says...

    1. What I affectionately call my travel blankie. It’s just a Turkish bath towel, but it serves so many purposes. It’s a blanket on the plane, or if you’re warm, you can roll it up for a lumbar pillow! It’s a picnic blanket! A shawl around the hotel/Airbnb! A scarf! A beach towel! It’s pretty thin so it barely takes up any room in your luggage, but it definitely provides a lot of comfort.

    2. Dr. Scholls moleskin. It comes in a big roll, so you need to precut tabs, but it is SO SO much better than a bandaid when it comes to blisters. I have a few pieces in all of my purses so I pretty much never leave home without it, but I make sure to restock prior to any trip. It has been a lifesaver on countless occasions. Seriously life changing.

  5. Natalie R says...

    Ear plugs!! Always a life saver for the plane and the trip

  6. Jean Jones says...

    My pillow. It’s not a fancy one or anything, I just like that it lets me rest my head on a piece of home & familiarity when I’m staying in a hotel or air B&B. (When I travel internationally, I just take the pillowcase, but that works too!)

    For kids- the best airplane packing item is a new, little stuffed friend- that arrives just as we take-off. (Those TY minis have been great!) It’s an awesome distraction and small enough to stick in mom’s purse.

  7. Jessie says...

    For my 3 kids – If the flight is longer than 2 hours, Their iPads, re-usable water bottles that they fill at the terminal, LOTS of snacks for them, Uno or 5 crowns, Crayons, and a sketchbook. I also buy them at the snack area a pack of gum (For take off and landing) and those Mr. Invisible activity books from the 80’s that they still sell. My two older ones also bring a book. For me, a book, water, and oh, more snacks/food for my girls. Sometimes a crossword puzzle. This is the one time I can take a nap if they are watching a movie, but most of the time I’m taking them all back and forth to and from the bathroom. Good to know about the hot water for tea.

    • A generous application of animal crackers and novel snacks helped get our kids (5 and 15 months) through a 9 hour flight (and a 17 hour travel day) this week.

  8. Audrey says...

    Cucumber slices! So cheap for some much needed freshness.
    I used to bring a whole cucumber (if I’m going to eat it all in one sitting, why bother?), but then it kept setting off the alarm bells at TSA. They’d pull me over for a bag search, pull it out and give it a once over before eyeing me and giving it back. It felt like they thought I was trying to transport a vegetable dildo. So, now I slice.

    • Nikita says...

      I actually spit out my tea reading this! How funny!

    • EW says...

      I once packed a large zucchini I’d grown to give to the friend I was staying with. The TSA agent saw it on the scanner and said “Aha, you forgot your water bottle!” He was surprised when it was a vegetable :)

  9. e.claire says...

    Here’s mine! Besides the usual suspects (water, reading material, chapstick, pashmina etc:)
    1. Smooth Move Tea by Traditional Medicinals
    Flying tends to slow things down for me and this is a safe, mellow way to get me back on schedule.

    2. Pizza
    The night before a trip (whether going or coming) I order a pizza. My son and I enjoy an easy, celebratory dinner and the leftovers go in a handy tupperware container ( so many other uses!). Neither of us mind it cold and no matter what adventures or mishaps travelling throw at us, I know we have the perfect, not smelly snack.

    • Anne St.Jean says...

      here’s a weird question, but do you usually use Smooth Move Tea as a preventative measure or once you’re already constipated? My interactions with it have been anything BUT mellow, so I’m wondering if maybe I should start using it before the fact.

  10. Holly Warren says...

    MAGAZINES!

    I always scoop up a handful once I arrive at the airport + a decent sized book.

    And as always a clean, makeup free face.
    I apply Indie Lee’s toner & face oil mid flight to keep the moister and hydration locked in. They’re the best!

  11. Hilary says...

    Oh man, I can’t wait to read all of these. As a 100k+ miles a year flier, I take my flight prep very seriously! I always have:
    – CBD lip balm
    – Socks
    – Noise cancelling headphones
    – Dongle to charge and be plugged into headphones at the same time
    – Fully charged kindle with a few new books on it
    – Podcasts that don’t require me to follow an in-depth story in case of napping (Armchair Expert is a fave)
    – Some downloaded episodes of something on Netflix
    – the Trtl! Game changer!

    • Hilary says...

      I also forgot…miso soup packets from Trader Joe’s! The perfect light, savory, warm, hydrating airplane snack. Beats the pants off the stale pretzels.

    • RT says...

      I’m a frequent flyer and it’s time to retire my traditional neck pillow. What do you like about trtl?

  12. Emily says...

    Travel hacks are my favorite CoJ posts!! I’ve gotten so many good tips from savvy CoJ readers!

  13. Nori says...

    Eye or face masks! Sephora has great ones that you can pick up and keep in your bag for a super quick pick-me-up. For long flights I’ll sleep with the cucumber eye masks on and by the time I wake up, the flight attendants are serving breakfast and I can peel them off and pat in any excess. A really nice treat and something I actually look forward to on a plane.

  14. I never eat airplane food, it’s full of additives! I try to eat before and just bring a banana or two if I feel like eating something. Bananas are easily digestible, come in their own organic container if you will, are full of potassium and keep your blood sugar in check!

  15. allison says...

    I have two small pouches that are always at the ready for travel. One goes in my seat pocket for easy access and includes hand sanitizer, earbuds, a charger, gum, eyedrops, dramamine, two ibuprofen, hair ties, and a pen. The other stays in my under-seat bag and has tampons/liners, even more hair ties, thermacare heat wraps in case of tension headache, and a small first aid kit with neosporin, anti itch cream, more ibuprofen, benedryl, nyquil, and big bandaids.

    Finally, after trying every single travel pillow out there, I found the perfect pillow for me at Target of all places. It folds up into whatever position you need and magically stays there. I’m always in the middle seat because I am an airplane martyr for my family, and this is the ONLY pillow I’ve used that lets me sleep upright. Plus it’s relatively compact for packing. https://www.target.com/p/positionable-lumbar-travel-pillow-made-by-design-8482/-/A-54098884

  16. Allyson says...

    My one travel item is my Slinky Dog neck pillow. I used to put the pillow “ring” behind my head but have since learned that it’s way more comfortable to put the “ring” bit under my chin — that way I can rest my head on Slinky’s head and bam, no more lolling head and resultant neck cricks.

    I also make sure to carry a canvas carry on bag so that it can fit under the seat in front of me as opposed to stashing it in the overhead compartment. It makes for easier access to my toiletries on long haul flights and also more peace of mind — there have been too many cases of theft from baggage stowed in overhead compartments. Thieves have been known to just openly and brazenly take bags under the guise of removing their own bags and cutting them open to get at any valuables inside, then putting them back while the owners are asleep or otherwise none the wiser. And yes I am talking about other passengers! There’s no way to tell for sure that they’re not just taking their own bags unless u spot someone taking your bag, so I never travel with expensive jewellery and I make sure anything valuable is in my bag at my feet, or in my purse.

    • Kate the Great says...

      Why take anything valuable when you travel, period? It’s liable to get lost in the many places you go while traveling. My valuables stay home. If I lose it, it’s at the one place I went or at home.

    • Heather says...

      iPads, computers, and cameras would count as valuables that I’d also want on a trip – so it could be items along those lines.

  17. Lauren E. says...

    Not necessarily a plane item, but I always pack a pair of sweats no matter where I go. For some reason I always overlook the down time I spend in the hotel or AirBnb and there’s something super relaxing about slipping into sweats vs PJs.

    • Kelly says...

      Yes! Totally agree! And I recently packed slippers for a trip for the first time and lovvvved being able to walk around the hotel in them.

  18. Lizzy says...

    I purchased a toblerone bar before my first international flight when I was 16. Now, 16 years later, it’s become a tradition (and good luck charm?) for me to always have a toblerone before boarding an international flight. Nothing makes 24 hours of travel more bearable than a really good chocolate bar.

    • Nina Nattiv says...

      this was our family tradition growing up!
      We lived in Canada with family in LA so we traveled between a few times a year and my parents bought a Toblerone every single time!

  19. Hannah says...

    As a longtime business traveler, I’ve been through my fair share of travel pillows but NOTHING compares to the Trtl. It’s essentially half of a fuzzy neck brace that has revolutionized plane sleeping for me. If you can get past looking a little silly, I promise you that you’ll never have a sore neck after a flight again. Just pop on an eye mask and you’re golden.

    • Sarah says...

      I also use the Trtl, and my eye mask! With my noise cancelling headphones, I am usually able to rest :)

    • Denise says...

      Hannah I could not agree more! I love my Trtl and tell everyone about it! I bought it two years ago for a super long international flight, and have used it ever since. It’s so cozy and comfortable.

    • Another vote for trtl! As a tall person that could never get comfortable in short, cramped airplane seats, trtl is the only thing I’ve found that I actually fall asleep using.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love trtl, too! i used it flying overnight to england and it helped so much.

  20. WELEDA SKIN FOOD!

    And I have a small travel bag that I always travel with and it includes: cleansing water, toner, some Yonka serum for hydration, Weleda, Xanax (I’m NOT a fan of flying), compression socks, hand sanitizer, gum and a variety of non-perishable snacks. Sounds simple, but this bag has saved me more times than I can count.

    I also bought a Vapur foldable water bottle as I refuse to use the single-use water bottles. I traveled for 3 weeks in Europe and used this everyday. I will get some kind of charcoal filter / bottle situation so I can drink from any tap without concern.

    I’m in Europe for work so the long flights from Portland can be verrrry long.

    I also have an iPad that’s full with David Whyte, Peter Mayle, Matt Kahn and British smut mags.

    • Laura says...

      What are these smut mags you speak of??!

    • Claire says...

      Also seconding this- what British smut mags??

    • Agnes says...

      As a former UK resident I’m guessing the trashy gossip magazines that the Brits do so well, lol!! Grazia is my personal fave.

    • SKIN FOOD ALL THE THINGS! I did this before AND DURING my recent international flights and my skin was soooo much happier than during previous travel.

  21. Megan Lec says...

    I’ve never been great at sleeping on planes so for long hauls I try to be realistic and have plenty of odds and ends to keep me busy. You will always find in my personal item earplugs, eye mask, notebook for doodling and making lists, reusable fold-able bag, two sets of headphones (don’t forget that iPhone headphones won’t work on the plane!), thick long socks, a scarf that can double duty as a blanket, and an empty Tupperware! The empty Tupperware essential started years ago on an international flight. Vegetarian meals on flight can be disappointing, to say the least. I started meal prepping something simple for flights and then use my Tupperware throughout the trip. Leftovers don’t go to waste, apples don’t get bruised and beaten in the bottom of my bag, croissants keep their lustrous flakiness. It’s a simple trick but that Tupperware is usually my most used item.

  22. For long overnight flights, I always pack instant oatmeal and a teabag. Then I ask for two cups of hot water and I have a meal much better than some airline food!

    • So smart! I’m going to try this on my next flight!

    • Sarah says...

      I’d avoid the hot water on airplanes like the plague (no pun intended) – my brother works in the aviation industry and he always encourages bottle water versus the coffee/hot water provided – those containers aren’t washed regularly and can carry bacteria — pilots and flight attendants always avoid drinking out of them!

    • Oh nooo. Thanks for the tip, Sarah!

  23. Anne says...

    Carmex, and most importantly my uniqlo puffer vest, because I usually fall asleep warm and wake up cold when I sleep on flights and I find just keeping my core warm helps regulate body temperature, plus these can also double as a pillow when its in its pouch for shorter flights.

    • Lulu says...

      Hi Anne, I LOVE my Uniqlo puffer vest too!!! Regardless of where I’m travelling to, it always gets a spot in my carry-on bag. I love that it can be stored in its own pouch and packs down to the size of a water bottle (this also makes it very easy to take along in your handbag every day of your trip).
      Happy travels from Lulu.

  24. Sera says...

    A positive attitude. (Currently traveling with a 6 month old.)

    • kelly says...

      haha. so needed!

      i just traveled solo with my 9 year old and my 3.5 year old and thought (fingers crossed that i am not jinxing myself)…my worst travel days are behind me! My 9yo handled her own rollerboard and backpack, my 3yo has a general understanding of following the rules and the attention span to get absorbed in screen time…of course she did have a potty emergency after a long wait in security that resulted in her rolling on the floor as we were about to go through the scanners whimpering “peepee, peepee”. but she made it! it’s a long haul but even the worst flights weren’t that bad (6 months is far far better than the 1-2 yo years, i’m sorry to tell you!)…it’s all a phase ultimately, good luck!

  25. Claudia says...

    For me it’s a simple blouse, don’t know why. I’ve had this blouse for some years and whenever I travel by plane that’s always, always the blouse I wear. It’s flare, not too warm or too light, it’s perfect for travel. :) And lately I’ve been downloading movies and docs from Netflix.

  26. Lindsey says...

    Self Help is my favorite too!

  27. A couple of years ago, my friend changed my life with two words: plane pizza. I am very much on board with your front seat neighbour but pizza sounds lower maintenance ha I head to wherever will sell me a large slice or small pan pizza in the airport and eagerly await when I am up in the air and can eat my pizza. If my flight gets delayed, then I won’t get hungry while I wait and I am less annoyed because pizza.

    • That’s so smart! I’ll have to try that next time haha. Will definitely help with delayed flights!

    • Face mask. No, not like a moisturizing treatment, but like a surgeon’s mouth/nose cover. It’s not glamorous but it’s worth it when you’re breathing recirculated air, especially during flu season.

  28. jen says...

    For long trips travel pillow, blanket, footrest and a water bottle. iPad, headphones and a book. Wipes and large ziploc bags. For my son, I always bring motrin, dramamine, claritin and lots of tissues. Airports and airplanes bring out all his worst symptoms.

  29. Elliesee says...

    For the 4 kids: a Trunki of snacks, a Trunki of activities, mostly for the airport, and then the snacks and activities last for the whole summer. The 2 oldest carry their own backpack. I carry the youngest change of clothes in my backpack. For myself, I have a pair of socks, a fresh T-shirt, a small toiletry bag, and sunglasses for the Roman sun. I used to carry so much more for me before kids!

  30. Sarah Jane says...

    Having made quite a few long haul flights in recent years, here’s my must-haves:
    – compression socks
    – hoodie with zippered pockets (so the phone and passport have a place to go but won’t fall out
    – Vanity Fair (lots of articles, but you can pick it up and put it down again)
    – insulated bottle with hot water, with cup and tea bags (to counteract the dry plane air)
    – noise cancelling earphones
    – eye mask

    I’ve also learned that there’s great benefit to packing a Dopp kit of essentials (chapstick, snacks, wet wipes, ibuprofen, etc.). I hang it from the seat back pocket with a carabiner so I don’t have to reach under the seat to get something. When you’re tall and flying coach, that can be a hard ask. I also pack a very light-weight bag/backpack and stuff all of my outerwear into it as a pillow for the plane.

    • Katie says...

      LOVE the dopp kit idea and hanging it from the seat back pocket. THANK YOU! You mentioned everything (chapstick, wet wipes, a snack) I’m constantly bending down for to grab and if I’m not in an aisle seat, it can be difficult.

      I also hadn’t heard of the hoodie with zippered pockets. I love that idea and now want to invest in the appropriate zippered pocket jacket for work travel (where I have to be on the plane in business attire) and a hoodie for casual travel.

    • Annie says...

      YES COMPRESSION SOCKS/CALF SLEEVES

    • Heather says...

      Oh this is brilliant. Why didn’t I ever think of this? I’m 5’10” and on a recent flight I got stuck for a terrifying 10 seconds trying to reach down to get something out of my bag when my coat snagged on something… Never again!

  31. Meghan says...

    Have you thought about linking less to Amazon for products you’re promoting? I know Amazon is convenient for many, but especially for things like the books mentioned here, you can often pick them up at a local shop or library. Maybe it would be possible to link to the publisher or author’s website directly, or even an independent bookstore that offers shipping!

    • Christa says...

      I totally agree with this!

    • Christa says...

      I don’t think they will stop linking to Amazon since they earn a commission if you make a purchase through the affiliate links! Is how they make a living!

    • JC says...

      Yes please! IndieBound and Powell’s are great alternatives for books if you want to offer folks the convenience of online shipping.

    • Claire says...

      I totally agree too!
      I haven’t bought from Amazon for a year now and try to save jobs close to my home. I buy my books from a real library, for the same prices!

    • Elizabeth Brown says...

      So do I!

    • Jessica says...

      CoJ most likely gets money for the Amazon affiliate links. Please let them make a living for providing great content to us!

    • Sarah says...

      Yes! Let’s support businesses that have more positive business practices. I notice and appreciate it when blogs don’t link to Amazon!

    • briana says...

      I appreciate the link to Amazon; it is a quick way to read a good description of the book or product, usually see plenty of pages from the book, offers good photos of any product, and several reviews. I agree that supporting smaller businesses is better, but there is no reason you can’t take the product suggestion and perform a quick search to purchase from your retailer of choice. And as some others have mentioned, Cup of Jo is free to us; Joanna and her team work hard to put together engaging content for us all to enjoy, please take that into consideration, and allow them to procure revenue how/where they are able.

    • Aine says...

      1,000% yes. I understand how affiliate links work but also that commissions can be generated from links outside of Amazon. I would really appreciate seeing links outside of Amazon and be more likely to actually purchase from the links if they included smaller retailers.

    • eb says...

      Agreed! I know affiliate links are how you get income, but I would love it if you didn’t have to partner with companies like Amazon and could keep to the more socially responsible shops. I also appreciate and notice all the small business you do partner with!

    • Sarah says...

      100% support this! In the laundry list of reasons it’s important to shop from other retailers vs. Amazon, Amazon subcontracts with ICE, so purchasing from them is indirectly lending support to ICE & their in humane policies.

  32. Forever airplane standbys:

    – neck pillow & eye mask
    – single serving almond butter packets (Justins)
    – sliced apples
    – bag of tea & a treat (preferably something that travels well, like a cookie!)
    – water bottle
    – a shawl or pashmina
    – The New Yorker
    – Aesop Immediate Moisture Facial Hydrosol
    – a toothbrush & toothpaste, especially after overnight flights :)

    • Rachel E says...

      Saline nasal spray! A weird one, I know, but I read somewhere that the reason you get sick on planes is bc the dry air dries out your nasal passages. Sure enough, a few (discreet!) spritzes of this before and over the course of a flight, and I haven’t gotten sick from a trip in years!

  33. Anna says...

    XANAX!! no seriously :) When I was travelling overseas years ago I called my Dr. and asked for a prescription (of like, 5 pills) so I could sleep on the red-eye flight and recover from jetlag. It worked perfectly and now I take them with me every time I fly, even short flights, even within the US. I don’t always use them, but having them with me is like a security blanket. Flying doesn’t make me anxious but I do get bored and fidgety and so this way I can just nap if that happens. On my last flight, we had a very scary 2-hour series of attempted and aborted landings with everyone barfing and even the flight attendants getting scared by the end. We ended up having to land at another airport to refuel and I took a Xanax st help me just chill and not freak out about getting back on the plane (to get to the correct destination) where I had just been trapped and surrounded by sick people. Hand to heart, without that Xanax I would still be at that airport right now, refusing to board a plane ;)

    • Nicola says...

      I AGREE!

    • Amelia Szasz says...

      Correct!

  34. Olivia M says...

    A PB&J. I never board a flight without a PB&J. It’s good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack. That sandwich has saved me on flights with no food, bad food, and through airport delays. Sometimes I don’t end up eating it, but at least I know it’s there. Haha.

    • Lola says...

      Please remember that many people out there have life-threatening peanut allergies! I would just double check with the people around you before diving in :)

    • MB says...

      I do the same thing! A pb&j is the perfect emergency food.

    • Neela says...

      Lola, don’t intend to be combative, am genuinely intrigued- how can one person eating a peanut butter sandwich be threatening to the person next to them? Can the allergic reaction extend to simple contact? Scary!

    • RS says...

      PB&J is the best flight food. I do the same, for my kids too. And, as for the allergy comment, I agree that it’s good to check with those immediately next to you. But I have a child who is highly allergic to pets and Caroline said she brought her dog on the plane.

    • Maureen says...

      As a huge peanut butter fan, but also of a mom of a baby girl with life threatening peanut allergies, please do not do this. Of course there are other allergens, but peanuts/nuts are very common these days and are often air-borne making flying extremely difficult for those of us trying our best to protect our children. It’s not only the people on your flight, either. If you happen to accidentally smudge peanut butter on your chair and my child then touches that chair on the next flight, we are now in an emergency situation without access to care.

    • RS says...

      My child actually has both airborne and contact pet allergies, so I understand the concern. If a dog sits on a plane seat and my son sits there, he will have a reaction. I have another friend whose son has a life threatening dairy contact allergy, he can’t touch anything dairy. Flying with any sort of allergy is pretty terrifying.

    • Lauren says...

      @Neela, a lot of people with peanut/nut allergies become incredibly nauseated simply from the smell of peanuts and can become ill. It is also possible for them to breakout in a rash should they come in contact with nuts or nut-based products. As a peanut lover myself I understand wanting to bring your favorite snack on a flight but ultimately being in close quarters it is not worth it to potentially expose someone with a life-threatening allergy. If you’re someone who doesn’t have an allergy yourself or doesn’t know someone with an allergy it is so easy to overlook this! But with travel become significantly more common it’s important to think of these factors.

    • RS says...

      @Lauren, I substituted every PEANUT in your comment with PET. Can someone please explain why no one defends people with severe pet allergies like they do people with severe peanut allergies? I’m not singling you out, Lauren–your comment was just the perfect comment to substitute in the allergen that my child (and so many others) suffers from. It is suddenly so common to see pets in the cabin of aircraft, and it’s truly alarming when you have a child who suffers from dog/cat allergies.

      A lot of people with PET allergies become sick simply from breathing in the dander of PETS and can become ill. It is also possible for them to breakout in a rash should they come in contact with PETS. As a PET lover myself I understand wanting to bring your PET on a flight but ultimately being in close quarters it is not worth it to potentially expose someone with a life-threatening allergy. If you’re someone who doesn’t have an allergy yourself or doesn’t know someone with an allergy it is so easy to overlook this! But with travel become significantly more common it’s important to think of these factors.

    • eb says...

      @RS I’ve also wondered how animals are allowed on planes with so many people having bad allergies. I have to assume it’s because unlike peanut allergies which can cause anaphylactic shock and death, anaphylaxis is not a symptom normally attributed to animal allergies. Still, I think it’s wrong that both animals and nuts are allowed on flights without insuring that no one is allergic first and prioritising those health risks.

    • Neela says...

      @ Lauren, oh my gosh, I had no idea. Thanks for enlightening me. That’s crazy, when I think back to the 80s and 90s, when I used to travel from Australia to the States and Sri Lanka with my family, how *the* standard snack offered was peanuts.

    • Katie says...

      Regarding pets vs. peanuts on planes: It’s pretty easy to avoid peanuts for a few hours by not bringing them on a plane. But if you’re moving across the country or overseas, you can’t (or shouldn’t!) abandon your pet to avoid bringing them on the plane. I know plenty of people travel with their pets just for fun or abuse the service animal rules, and that’s a different story, but as a military family there is a good chance we will have to take a plane trip at some point with our pets in tow. And I will do everything I can to be accommodating to those with allergies if we find ourselves in that scenario, but our pets are our family and not bringing them is not an option in my mind.

  35. Jana says...

    I travel 4-6 times per year for 2-3 week trips in some really rough locations. The flights are looooong. I always bring:
    – COMPRESSION SOCKS, not just for clot prevention but also to keep you from feeling like a walrus
    – Neck pillow, I’ve tried the gimmicks and the memory foam kind with clip in front cannot be beat
    – Noise canceling headphones – for babies and also so you can hear the dialogue on that intense drama you’re watching
    – A toiletry bag and an “oh shit” bag – pain killers, stomach solvers, etc.
    – Snacks and refillable water bottle
    – A small bottle of lavender pillow spray. Gentle scent for planes that works nicely on an eye mask, and makes hotels feel less hotel-y.
    – A book in my carry on and one in my suitcase for the way home!
    – Prunes. Travel is tough on the stomach.

    • Nikki says...

      I appreciated this response. I travel a lot for work and have really pared down my must-haves for the plane. What you have listed are the essentials for feeling human in a sometimes dehumanizing situation. I read other people’s elaborate list of food and beauty essentials, and I was like what’s wrong with me? In short, good list. I am going to travel with lavender now too!

  36. Meghan Topjian says...

    Gravol (Dramamine in the USA) because it knocks me out and I sleep the whole way!

    The first trip I took alone after having kids was to fly from Calgary, Alberta to Lviv, Ukraine for my brother’s wedding. On the Toronto to Vienna leg I took Gravol and went to sleep – I slept the WHOLE flight, through drink services, 2 meals, everything (maybe it was also due to the exhaustion of having 2 small boys). The best was before I took it I chatted briefly with a very nice gentleman on his way to Egypt – and when I woke up he had save me a muffin from breakfast saying he knew I’d be hungry! Seriously, he was the best.

    When with my kids – I just make sure to have a lot of water and snacks!

  37. Sarah says...

    I once read in a travel magazine that the best airplane snack is a clementine– they come in their own compact packaging, they’re sweet and hydrating, and the oils that are released while peeling smell fantastic, like a delicate natural perfume. If they’re in season, I always bring one with me!

    • Abby says...

      Agree! Austrian Airlines always gives them out to the passengers when they are in season and it makes for the greatest smell in the whole airplane!

  38. meg says...

    i love that I can tell it’s a Caroline story from the very first sentence. it’s like the game show “name that tune” for readers. xxx -m.

    • Lizzie Cogan says...

      Agreed. Such a fresh, distinctive writer’s voice.

  39. Courtney says...

    I travel for a total of about 4 months of the year, usually in stints around two weeks. Must haves vary depending on length of trip, but I would say:

    – Always New Yorkers (or, as Caroline says, any bite sized reading like short stories).
    – Full water bottle
    – Notebooks to write in!
    – Longer trips: A variety of tea bags and a face mask.

  40. Dee says...

    Noise cancelling headphones (for my sanity), Eucerin lip repair, plenty of flat water and Eurcerin hyalluron CC cream and matching serum to seal moisture in. The Eucerin products are recent discoveries, my skin used to get so dry on flights – really recommend also just in general, super affordable and really effective. And a good book ready to go on my Kindle – I flew to London this week and read 10% of Annie Proulx, Barkskins! Happy flying :-)

  41. Astrid says...

    1)?Refillable water bottle, 2) a multi-use scarf 3) earphones 4) hand-gel

  42. Joaquina says...

    Can anyone recommend noise-cancelling head phones that won’t break the bank? I saw a pair for $500, that’s way out of my price range but I’d be willing too splurge no more than $200 on really effective, durable ones.

    • Z says...

      check out the reviews on wirecutter! I got my last pair of exercise headphones off their reviews and really like them! I’ve been eyeing noise-cancelling headphones and was going to check out their reviews soon.

    • Sarah says...

      Love my beats studio 3!

    • Sarah Jane says...

      I have “Cowin” noise cancelling headphones, which are $50 on Amazon. They are good enough that I wonder what the other $450 gets you on the $500 pair. They block an enormous amount of noise on the noise-cancelling setting and they hold about an 8-10 hour charge. I always pack them on long-haul flights.

    • S says...

      I got an old version of the Bose noise cancelling headphones. The newest ones are always pricey but my oldish ones were less than 200 and work great!

    • Sally says...

      I have the Bose ones that are like $350 but have been on sale for Black Friday lately. 100% worth it for my sanity on flights. My bf likes the Sony ones which I saw at Costco the other day

    • Sophie M. says...

      I have had the Bose noise canceling earbuds for the last few years (generous surprise xmas gift from my brother!), and I use them daily for commuting on the bus etc. without the noise cancelling turned on, but that noise cancelling is a life saver on flights (I travel every other week for work, so needless to say I use them constantly). At $250 they are a little above your cap, not sure if they ever go on sale, but I HIGHLY recommend them, well worth the splurge. Comfort of earbuds is so important to me, especially when I’m wearing them throughout long travel days, and these have earbuds attachments in multiple sizes that I find very comfortable. My added recommendation would be to stick with the normal earphone jack version – not bluetooth, not the apple plug kind (the adapters work fine!) – because then you know your headphones will work no matter what device you’re plugging into (be it iphone, android tablet, or the plane’s built in entertainment, which won’t give you a blue tooth option!). As you can tell, this is a topic near and dear to my heart!

    • Sarah says...

      I also have the Cowin ones that Jana linked – won’t break the bank and they work great!

    • Katherine L Diaz says...

      The Bose Quiet Comfort 35 are top of the line – and since they’ve released a second version, you can get refurbished ones straight off the Bose site, under warranty, for $200. It’s exactly the same as the newer version, just without a dedicated action button for Alexa – which I didn’t want anyway. Bose was the first one to make headphones for pilots and are usually the best at noise-cancelling tech (the latest Sony model supposedly beats them by a hair, but are also $350.) I never realized how noisy a plane was, and how much the ambient engine/kid/beeping/talking background affected my sanity, until I got these.

      https://www.bose.com/en_us/products/headphones_outlet/quietcomfort-35-wireless-fr.html

    • Alicia says...

      I’m really cheap so I just use my regular iPhone headphones and I wear noise canceling earmuffs from Home Depot on top. Works like a charm and CHEAP

  43. Sarah says...

    My can’t-leave-home without travel items:
    Reusable water bottle
    iPad+ Netflix+ headphones
    A book
    A healthy snack from home (generally this is the last piece of fruit that is about to go bad, to save my conscience from food waste, my wallet from a $3 banana, and my waistline from the airport fast food that we all know is going to happen at some point)
    A massive scarf (because planes are always freezing and also I have discovered that I am an adult who basically needs to swaddle my upper body in order to sleep on planes)

    And the one thing I forget every time but always wish I brought: a tea bag!! My favorite thing on evening flights is to have herbal tea with whatever sweet snack they give you, and it seems like most airlines only have black tea these days (which only spikes my anxiety and worsens my jet lag). When the stars align, drinking chamomile tea with a biscoff cookie is my relaxing little in-flight ritual.

  44. Dot Taylor says...

    When you link to skin care products, you shouldn’t link to amazon. They are often third party sellers, selling expired or counterfeit product. Amazon doesn’t ensure that their third party sellers are authorized to sell from that particular line and sellers are often unloading old product for a discount, or worse, putting other product in real packaging. Just look at the amazon reviews for that sleep mask — great at the sephora, different product from amazon.

  45. Lynn says...

    I travel 3 out of 4 weeks a month, usually for 1-2 days and then long haul (7+) flights about 4-6 times a year.

    At my seat I’ll have a little toiletry size bag that includes sleep mask (even if its a short flight, at 5am it helps!), little tub of vaseline, headphones, a few cough drops, paracetemol (Tylenol) and then a refillable water bottle.

    Long haul flights I’ll add to that an iPad, travel shaw/blanket, snacks (typically nuts, biltong/jerky, M&Ms)

  46. Shannon says...

    I would second (or third or fourth?) the idea of travel tips and toys with toddlers/kids under 4 or 5… like babies, that’s one thing… but for the kiddos who can walk and who are loathe to sit still and have an attention span of less than 5 minutes… makes any flight over an hour THE WORST EVER. I have been there and will be there again next week. (I’m shaking to think about it). But like, they are too young for Paw Patrol or whatever these magic screens can help us do… I FEEL LOST. I used to really love to fly…:*(

    • Faith says...

      I JUST got off a cross-country flight with a two and a four year-old and yes it is so hard. A couple thoughts: Are you sure they are too young for screens? We brought tablets and those were helpful — all screen time restrictions suspended.

      Secondly – huge tip – play-doh is OK with TSA. I wish tho I would have packed a three-ounce canister of slime. My kids can play with that for hours.

      Third, sugar can be a little much on long flights but I discovered that the toddler LOVED unwrapping Starbursts I bought in a moment of layover desperation. She didn’t even want to eat them but unwrapping was so fun. Bandaids can work for this too.

      One other thing I have found is great are window clings — my daughter used to love playing with those on long flights. GOOD LUCK – don’t mind other passengers if they are grumpy with your kids too — we are all humans!

    • Lindsay says...

      I found that even 1 yo was not too young to entertain with the ipad, but fast forward two years, we had a big screen time weaning/detox. It worked though, and got us through those two years! Other than that, food. Lots of fun and exciting food treats.

      I taught my son that everyone sleeps on planes and we always lug the car seat on so he sleeps. Like one time, my husband read him 3 books quietly and then they closed the shade and he fell asleep for the cross country flight before liftoff!

    • Caroline says...

      We’re had good luck with the “Poke-a-Dot” book series where they pop these bubbles, flip the page then do it again – it seems loud, but so is the plane once you take off. Magna doodles, stacking cups, crayons + coloring pages and slowwwwly handing out snacks the entire flight also help. Good luck!

    • Anita says...

      Hi Shannon! I’ve been through continental flights with babies / toddlers many times and it is draining… but I thought I could share some tips that have helped me, maybe they will help you too!
      – I take the least possible things with me, try to make it all fit in one backpack (especially if my husband is not flying with us)
      – That means no toys, especially no big toys or toys that would be catastrophic to loose
      – I carry lots of stickers (you can play with them with your toddler by sticking them to the tray and they have to rearrange them, or stick them on your face or t-shirt)
      – I bought them their own set of headphones for children, and they only use them for flying so it’s a treat
      – I buy a little activity pad (like the water &coloring sets from Melissa and Doug) that I gift them before going to the airport and tell them they can play with it through the boring parts if they sit down quietly (like at check in, customs, waiting for everyone to board the plane…)
      – I carry their favorite snacks and milk
      – We talk about what to expect at the airport and on the plane, there are many children’s books on that topic
      – I bought a jetkids carryon luggage and they feel it’s the coolest riding it through the airport, which makes transfers much easier (for me transfers are the worse part about traveling with children)
      I hope that helps, and would love to hear other ideas!

    • Katie says...

      I used to wrap everything in gift wrap and ribbons, even snacks. My kids were so excited to have “presents”

    • Maria says...

      I got this tip from this blog a few years ago, a roll of painters tape! My kids, 18 minths and 5, stuck and removed from the seat back for over an hour and clean up is easy! We passed the roll onto an inconsolable toddler in the next seat and it worked for them too. Cheap and small for the carry on.

    • Anna says...

      I have a 3 year old, and ever since she was one I have brought snacks (so many!), her own water bottle so she can have watered down apple juice from the flight attendant (she doesn’t get juice at home, so that’s a treat), stickers, a Melissa and Doug Water Wow book. The water wows are great because they aren’t messy but are mesmerizing. I will also say, we do our best to do minimal screen time with her (though we are not as great now), so the opportunity to use the iPad is SO EXCITING to her! While I still feel like it’s best practice to minimize screens at other times, my attitude on the plane is that if my toddler is happy, we are all happy.

      It’s also worth remembering: if your child isn’t perfect on the airplane, it will be fine. Most people appreciate you doing your best, and it’s for a fixed period of time (even if it feels like forever!). Reminding myself of this always reduces my stress level, which in turn makes me better equipped to deal with any difficulties she may have. I’m sure you’ll do great!

    • Rachel says...

      I was coming to say blue tape also. It’s really the best. In addition to all the sticking and unsticking it once saved me during a very long delay when we raced two rolls (like wheels) on the gross airport floor. Highly recommend!

    • Hilary says...

      I have found little gel window clings to be a lifesaver, too! You can get them in the dollar bins at Target or in teacher supply stores.

      For older kids, a few colors of sticky notes. We play tic tac toe, pass secret messages, try to make a design on the tray table back or window. Hours of fun. And by hours I mean, at least 20 minutes :)

  47. Tanya says...

    Dried apricots would we the worst snack for me…🙈😩 unless they are organic (the ones that actually look dried and brown), they make me really gassy…. reaction to whatever preservative is used to keep them nice and soft and apricoty colour 🤷‍♀️😂

  48. Carrie Jones says...

    Good timing, we are going to New Zealand on Monday! The thing I’m most excited to have on my trip is my new book The Midwife by Jennifer Worth!

    • DC says...

      Have fun! Last time I flew to NZ I wished I’d packed my PJs and a swimsuit I’m my carryon since after having to stay in San Francisco overnight and leaving a day later my luggage took an additional 5 days to arrive.

  49. I agree with the bite-size reading! I just read Lorrie Moore’s Terrific Mother on the plane yesterday. Funny coincidence. I also bring an eye mask and facemask (I’m half Japanese) so that I don’t creep people out with my open mouth when I inevitably fall asleep. I highly recommend crossword books too, I save them for planes only 😊

  50. LJG says...

    I travel multiple times a year to Asia from the east coast for work. My must-haves for actual use on the plane: compression socks, Rothys (not affiliated, but they are great for travel because they’re basically slippers), lightweight shawl (I have a thin cotton one that provides a bit of extra warmth and also doubles as a cover-up if needed), sheet mask for at some point while everyone else is asleep, Kindle, noise-canceling headphones, unscented wet wipes, refillable water bottle (I just bought a collapsible one from Nomader – so much lighter weight than my previous stainless steel, rolls up to fit in bags more easily, definitely recommend) . My must-haves for in my carry-on: full extra set of clothes, full travel-size toiletry set.

  51. Katie says...

    First, drinking lots of water the day BEFORE so I enter travel day as hydrated as possible. Aquaphor lip repair for dry lips and First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream for my hands, because it works great but also is fragrance free! I try to be careful to not bring or use anything that might hurt anyone with allergies.

  52. Carol Hinz says...

    My must-have is a knitting project! It calms my anxiety and is great for the portions of the trip when I don’t have the concentration to focus on a book.

    Based on all the recommendations here, I’m going to look into some compression socks and a face mask before my next flight!

  53. Tyler says...

    Compression socks. Something I can use for lumbar support. And on long overseas flights, a packable foot rest (game changer for short folks) and Xanax :)

  54. Nina says...

    I second the suggestions to bring extra socks and a scarf to keep warm! Does anyone have any backpack recommendations? Looking for something that will fit a laptop, water bottle, book, scarf, etc. but not too big/heavy. Thank you!

    • Lauren says...

      Okay, this is a pricey backpack but I love it!! The Atlas Supply Minimalist backpack is amazing. I’ve used it as a weekend bag and on a few international flights. It is so user friendly! The pockets are designed so you can access them without taking it off. The shelf in it lets me pack a book, my wallet, glasses, etc in a place that’s easy to access without having to unpack everything. Using it as a weekender, I just don’t use the shelf and fill it up with all of my things! It looks very classic and has been such a great addition to my travels. I love it! (Not affiliated, just a fan). For a cheaper option, I like my everlane backpack.

    • I bought an Anello backpack when I was in Japan a few years ago and love it! I use it as a carry-on whenever I fly and it easily fits by 15″ laptop, changer cords, book, snacks, wallet etc. It has a rectangular frame when it opens so it’s got a nice wide top to back everything in but then the zipper closes it to be like a normal backpack that doesn’t feel too bulky. It has top handles and backpack straps so that I can carry it like a handbag or a backpack. Also has a zipper on the back so that I can access things easily without having to open the entire thing up. Comes in a lot of fun colours, too!

    • Susie says...

      Yes Lynn! I have the same Fjallraven and I love it!! I always have to carry my work laptop and this makes it feel like a breeze. It’s also awesome for travelling, hiking and being outdoors. The investment was 100% worth it.

    • Abigail says...

      Tom Bihn bags have completely transformed how I travel. I can pack for a week with a combination of the Western Flyer backpack and Daylight briefcase. The brand carries several smaller, everyday backpacks that are just as thoughtfully designed as the bags I’ve purchased and love. Can’t recommend the brand highly enough.

  55. Suman says...

    So many interesting responses! I like to keep it simple:
    1) big scarf
    2) socks
    3) lip balm
    4) charged phone + airpods + downloaded content
    I never carry food or water – always find it to be a hassle, and try to minimize bathroom usage on planes! The only exception is when my mom forces me to bring snacks and other goodies she has made back from NY to SF!

  56. Nikki says...

    I will forever and always pack eye drops for long flights! If I can’t manage to rest during a long trip, my eyes are always so dry, especially after reading and watching movies for hours. I even gift a bottle to new flyers along with some hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes as well.

  57. Katie says...

    PACKING.CUBES.

  58. Merritt Read says...

    My mother’s advice was: always travel with something to read, something to keep you warm and enough money to get home. These days, that means a Kindle, a pashmina and a credit card. Useful advice for any travel from a short bus ride to a long plane flight.

  59. jules says...

    I always bring slipper socks on real long flights. And then I wonder am I one of the people that other people always get mad at about their shoes? Because the socks I am changing into are brand new and don’t smell. and I put my shoes in my backpack so they definitely won’t either.

  60. Milou says...

    A someone who traveled weekly for years: noise canceling earphones, a new book that is not too “heavy”, but well-written and sure to be engrossing (I just read The Dutch House by Ann Patchett on a flight to Santa Fe and it was perfect); a snack of some sort (nuts, cheese stick) just in case; and a sudoku pencil and sharpener from CW Pencil Enterprise.

    • Allegra LaViola says...

      yessss CW Pencil enterprise <3

    • Natalie says...

      Yes! CW Pencil Enterprise! A lovely and unique pencil store in Manhattan. A must visit if in New York!

      COJ – You should do a feature on Caroline Weaver – the owner of this amazing boutique store! She is so cool and I think your readers would love to hear her story!

    • Wendy D says...

      Oh yeah! CW made my Secret Santa very happy this year!

  61. jules says...

    I always bring slipper socks on real long flights too! And then I always wonder am I one of the people that other people always get mad at about their shoes? Because the socks I am changing into are brand new and don’t smell. and I put my shoes in my backpack.

  62. Meg says...

    In the last few years I’ve started flying more than I used to. One thing that makes a big difference for me is not fully unpacking. I have a toiletry bag which I keep stocked with all of my travel-sized toiletries, and it lives in my suitcase between trips. I also have a travel pouch of “in-air needs” (chapstick, gum, headphones, hair tie, tylenol, eye mask) that stays packed and I just toss in my underseat bag while packing. This way, all I need to add to my suitcase is clothing, and while packing I’m not trying to track down 25 little items I’ll want once I’m in-air.

    • Mouse says...

      Oh yes. That is a total game-changer. I used to fly often for work and did the same thing. After I got over myself buying multiples of things, I was SO happy.

    • allison says...

      I have a similar pouch of in-air needs: gum, headphones, phone charger, hair ties, hand sanitizer, ibuprofen, and a pen. I have other “wants” on a flight, but this little bag always has my needs.

  63. riye says...

    I always bring a granola bar type snack and one or two paperbacks–because I can’t bear the idea of being stuck anywhere with nothing to read. :-D My eyes tend to get tired when I try to read off the phone or tablet for long periods. I also splurge and get a small pack of “fancy” hand wipes or hand sanitizer.

  64. Adreanna says...

    Nasal spray! My entire life I’m suffered with terrible ear/ sinus pain while the plane descends. I’ve tried meds, special earplugs… everything. I use this right before I get on the plane (and once more through the flight if I’m congested) It works like a dream.

    I also never travel without Weleda Skin Food, you can use it for everything.

    Nasal spray-
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HG5JMBR?aaxitk=HvaHLvAFPesf9zSVZ1pBmw&pd_rd_i=B07HG5JMBR&pf_rd_p=44fc3e0f-4b9e-4ed8-b33b-363a7257163d&hsa_cr_id=6260463800401&sb-ci-n=asinImage&sb-ci-v=https%3A%2F%2Fm.media-amazon.com%2Fimages%2FI%2F81JuOe7R9pL.jpg&sb-ci-a=B07HG5JMBR

    • Linds says...

      This is amazing! More than once I’ve actually had my ears totally plug for a few days after a flight making it so hard to hear. I just thought it would always have to be that way. This is a game-changer!

  65. Elyse says...

    Huzi Infinity Pillow! It’s a true game changer for sleeping on planes.

    • AN says...

      Ordered, thank you for this perfect gift for my travelin’-fool wife who loves sleep and coziness above all!

  66. Lesley says...

    Sadly, it’s a prescription of Cipro, ever since the Christmas eve flight where I developed a UTI right there at 10,000 feet! If you think a UTI is no fun, just imagine one on a plane where you have to wait on line for the bathroom, and then are completely restricted from the bathroom on the landing. That was a hairy one.

    • jules says...

      Omg, that’s so terrible. My friend who gets them frequently gets a script for antibiotics before a long trip just in case anything should come up and she’s away from her doc. I always thought this was such a good idea.

    • Megan says...

      Also the AZO dye pills. . .even though I don’t get UTIs frequently, my first one was so awful and came so suddenly (and not long after I had taken a 17-hr flight) that I now always travel with them on long flights just. in. case.

    • Claire says...

      Ugh, that sounds so awful! I used to get UTIs all the time, both when traveling and in general, until my (fabulous) ob-gyn recommended taking vitamin C and/ or Theracran as a preventative measure. Now, I take them both when I think I might be at risk of developing a UTI, including before long flights. I haven’t had a UTI since (knock on wood). I still carry a Cipro prescription with me when I travel, but find that I much prefer not having to use it! I hate to be the person dispensing unsolicited medical advice on the internet (disclaimer: I am not a doctor and am just speaking from personal experience), but this hack has changed my life and I thought I’d share here in case it is helpful to anyone else!

    • Camila says...

      I travel about a week a month, last year after a series of recurring UTIs my doctor (in France) recommended that I try Femannose D-Mannose sachets pre, during and after flying. Haven’t had a UTI since and my SOS Cipro prescription remains happily unused :)

    • Lauren says...

      Yes, D-Mannose really works! I take it in powder form when I feel one coming on.

    • Jenn says...

      This and LOTS of water. I used to get UTIs all the time. Now I try to drink at least 3 refills of my 32oz water bottle/day when travelling. I’m peeing all the time–but I’m going on 5 UTI-free years!

  67. ANYTIME I fly I bring:

    1) Noise-cancelling headphones. I truly do not understand how people can hear the movies they’re watching without them.

    2) Water bottle for endless hydration.

    3) Anti-anxiety meds. I used to be a super-fearful flyer and after months of EMDR and trial and error with everything from Xanax to Benadryl to CBD, I will never ever ever again travel without propranolol. It’s actually a blood-pressure medication that helps slow your heartrate. People often use it for social anxiety and public speaking, but it’s worked WONDERS for my in-flight panic attacks. I had no idea this was a thing, so I wanted to pass it along to anyone reading this!

    • Juliet says...

      Thanks for the tip Marian! I have terrible panic attacks, especially on any flight over 6 hours. Xanax never did anything for me – I’ll ask my doctor about this!

    • Julie says...

      Second vote for Propranolol. In college, when Ativan and Xanax wouldn’t touch my anxiety, it slowed my heart rate and truly is probably the reason I graduated. Lifesaver.

    • Mara says...

      Curious what all your dosage is for propranolol! At 0.25mg it does nothing for me :-/ but so glad it works for you!

    • Mara, I take 10mg!!! And I take it every 3 hours during long flights. I’m super sensitive to drugs too, and .25 seems really low to me!

      My psychiatrist said that people who take it for its intended use (blood pressure) take up to 40mg at a time, so I would definitely talk to your doctor about upping your dose.

    • Mara says...

      Oh my gosh, Marian, no wonder it wasn’t working for me!!! My fear of flying is crippling, and I was so frustrated when 0.25mg wasn’t working for me when I’d heard of the drug helping so many people.

  68. Amanda says...

    This post is so timely! My husband and I are flying out to Tahiti next week and I’ve been formulating a packing list for things I’ll need in-flight! So far I’m bringing:

    My Trtl travel pillow – this thing is revolutionary! No cricked neck!! The only issue I have with it is the fleece around the neck can be a bit too sweaty…
    Headphones – I usually always have a plug-in pair, but I recently bought myself a pair of big noise-cancelling ones and I’m excited to test them out!
    An extra battery pack pack for the inevitable low phone battery thanks to games/podcasts/in-flight tv.
    A Nalgene so I don’t have to buy plastic one-use water bottles. Most airports now have specific water bottle filling stations, which is awesome!!
    A good book – preferably fluffy chick lit :)
    A cardigan

    • Joaquina says...

      Thank you for using and the shout-out for a reuseable water bottle!
      I love seeing so many airports with re fillable water stations. Every little bit helps :)

    • Kelly says...

      I have wondered so much about that travel pillow! Can you actually manage to sleep with it? It’s supportive enough?

    • Amanda says...

      Kelly – I find that if I wrap it snugly, it is very supportive! And helps me sleep better than any other travel pillow I’ve ever used, because a) my head isn’t flopping around and b)my mouth isn’t falling open (you can achieve that by wrapping under your jaw, but you can also just wrap it over your mouth if you fear breathing on your neighbor like i do :) But apparently, per my googling of reviews, there are two models of it, and one model’s support insert is NOT as supportive. And per reviews, both models appear to come from the same company when ordering online! So maybe it is a toss up which one you get? I ordered the brand name product through their page on Amazon and got the supportive kind, and I love it. The one thing I do hate is that it is a very awkward size/shape for attaching to a bag while in transit, and you have to be careful not to warp or crush it!!

  69. Kate says...

    I read somewhere that the water the flight attendants provide is not bottled water but water they refilled from the plane. I always bring or buy my own water at the airport and wet wipes to wipe down the tray and screen and also for the bathroom.

  70. Sarah says...

    My wonderful mom always packs me a little lunch of veggies, dips, crackers and cheese before I fly back to New York after the holidays. I’m usually rushing around in the morning packing and she slips the Tupperware in my bag as I’m running out the door. I’m 36 now with a daughter of my own and I want to weep with gratitude at the loving way she still packs a tiny container of ranch dressing to go with some celery and perfectly bite sized cheese slices to have with club crackers. It tastes so life giving to have a healthy lunch made with love on that exhausting flight back ‘home’. (And I usually order a white wine to go with it– perfection.)

    • Kelly says...

      After several colleagues and friends got sick from airplane food, I started bringing my own food on flights. What a game changer! I bring treats I buy in the airport that I wouldn’t normally have at home, I can choose items that are fresher than the average plane meal (e.g. big salads), and I don’t have to wait for meal service to eat.

  71. My newest airplane fave is Big Mood from Dram Apothecary, a higher concentration, super high quality CBD oil. Flying over the ocean especially makes me super anxious, even though I’m always doing Cognitive Behavior Therapy exercises and all the deep breathing. I found that after taking Big Mood, the positive visualization I was doing actually “stuck” and I didn’t get interrupted by so many intrusive thoughts.

    • Also, CBD is legal, but Shae from Dram Apothecary recommends removing the label on your oil just in case you get a crabby TSA agent.

    • Kate says...

      Thank you for this rec! I have been having some seriously intrusive thoughts lately and can’t figure out how to get them to give me a break. Might have to check out Dram Apothecary!

  72. Dee says...

    I fly from NY to Asia twice + a year. Only recently have I started to wear compression socks and noticed a HUGE difference when I land and afterwards. Definitely a must have for me for any flight over 6+ hrs.

    • Sonja says...

      Yes. compression socks for me too! I wore them the first time when pregnant and it was a crazy wonderful difference. Additionally, no makeup. I either don’t wear any (the norm) or take it off at the airport. I then slather myself in True Botanicals face oil. I deplane, puff free, with skin that looks like my baby’s ass.

  73. Maggie says...

    Oh boy does this post hit home for me. I’m soooo allergic to dogs/cats/anything cute and furry. And so are my kids. I’ve noticed over the past several years that flying with pets in the cabin has become much more common (including, on my last flight, a very cute but very large Golden in the seat in front of me who was super adorable but the resultant asthma attack made me feel like I was going to die.) So my absolute must-have item for the plane is allergy meds and a quick release inhaler. I’m a huge animal lover but when choosing to fly with your furry friend in the cabin please remember those of us with pet allergies in a small recycled-air space. My lungs thank you!

    • Jeanne says...

      Same here!! Love pets. Just not on planes. I break out in scary hives all over my body and can’t breathe. It’s the Chik-fil-a buffet but with an added fun, danger factor.

    • Rae says...

      Yep, thanks for breaking the ice on this. I love animals and understand the importance of pets but I have had some scary flights due to asthma and pets in the cabin. No easy answer I know…

    • April says...

      Same here!! Lately, every domestic flight I’ve taken has had multiple pets onboard. Due to this, my carry-on musts now include:
      – Benadryl (or similar antihistamine) in case I am seated near/next to a pet
      – Rescue inhaler in case my throat closes
      – Face mask that covers my nose and mouth to keep pet dander out of my airways

      Also, another tip: I always approach the agent at the gate to inquire if I am seated next to a pet. They are often willing to move you further away if you ask nicely :)

    • Marney says...

      Yes, yes, yes. I think most of us with pet allergies are also animal lovers.

      However, it can be downright dangerous for some to have to fly with furry friends. I wish the airlines would at least reserve a special section for those flying with pets, so those of us who are allergic could avoid those seats when making our reservations.

    • RS says...

      My son is also highly allergic (but loves animals) and we’ve noticed a lot more pets out in the cabin that a decade or so ago. It’s scary to get on a flight, knowing that you are allergic, and seeing your allergy just sitting there. So, I now always travel with Zyrtec. It’s hard because some airlines have banned peanuts due to allergies, but it seems like more and more pets are taking to the skies. We have the same issue when booking hotel rooms as well.

    • Annie says...

      Yes! I think it’s incredibly dangerous and horrifying that people are allowed to bring pets on passenger airplanes (exceptions for trained, certified, service animals of course). The onus is on the allergy sufferer to move, and that is not always an option. I was recently on an LA to NY flight with four pet dogs in the cabin, and the airline wasn’t willing to consolidate them in one section of the plane (within coach) – there was literally nowhere for me to move on the flight that wasn’t within an aisle or two proximity to an animal.
      Allergy meds have real side effects and “hangovers,” and while they’re necessary and life saving, it’s a real burden to have to use them and suffer the side effects because of a fellow passenger’s selfishness in bringing a pet into the cabin. As a frequent business traveler (4-8 international flights a month) this issue really boils my blood.

  74. Marney says...

    Unfortunately my must pack item is Benadryl. If there is a dog or cat on the plane I have a horrible time.

    • janice says...

      A personal ionizer will change your life.

  75. Meghan says...

    My mom works for the airlines, and so I have been lucky enough to have grown up traveling. The flip side to flying stand-by is the extra stress and drama of getting anywhere. The time we flew back from Germany in Ikea folding chairs in the back, beside the bathroom (I’m sure the other passengers assumed we were stowaways), the time I flew to New York in the jumpseats in the cockpit (pre-9/11, obviously), the time we were stranded for days in the Honolulu airport, the time we were stranded for days in the Syndey airport, the time we were stranded for days in the Hong Kong airport…

    When you fly stand-by, you have to dress up because you’re representing the airline. It’s serious business, because the agents can choose not to let you on if you look to frumpy. No runners, no open-toed shoes, no jeans, no sweatshirts, etc. Clothes must be ironed, hair must be brushed. My supremely practical mother would pack an extra outfit in our carry-on for us to change into on the plane, plus pj’s (when you fly stand-by, you’re often the very last person on the flight and your checked luggage doesn’t always make it on the same flight you do). So even though I buy my tickets now, like a regular person, I still bring a change of clothes with me on every flight. There’s something very comforting knowing that even though there’s a hurricane in Florida, which has somehow delayed my flight departing from London, it will be ok because I have clean pair of underwear.

    • Meredith says...

      This is excellent advice for life at large. Expect the unexpected, and pack a spare pair.

    • Katie says...

      I call it the Lake Rule. As in, I should be able to have someone push me into a lake and have enough to do a full change and be comfortable!

    • Donnia says...

      My mom also worked for an airline and I had the SAME experiences growing up !! Except that we either weren’t allowed to change or my parents never thought of it. The first time I bought a plane ticket full price as an adult and didn’t fly stand-by, I wore jeans and a hoodie, didn’t put on make up but instead extra-moisturizing cream and I was like W.O.W.

  76. Awads says...

    I have a question about flying with a dog! How do you get your dog outside for a potty break once you are in the airport? do you carry a roll of paper towels, just in case? i always think it’s odd when i see people with their leashed pets roaming the airport terminal and hope they have a quick flight.

    • Julie says...

      The airports I’ve been in have pet relief areas inside the terminals.

    • Marika says...

      I have TSA pre-check. My dog refuses to go on the astroturf in the pet relief areas inside. So, we always run outside – there is usually a grassy dog area near baggage claim. She does her business and thanks to pre-check, we are back through security super quickly. If it is a long layover, we might do this multiple times because she has a nervous bladder… (If anyone has tips to train a dog to go inside on astroturf, I am all ears)

  77. Lindsay says...

    Just don’t eat too many apricots! I did that on a flight before I knew that they have…effects.

    • Kelly says...

      I was going to say! My digestive system could not handle dried apricots on a flight.

    • Jessica says...

      Little fiber bombs. I made this mistake with my mum’s delicious, heavy-on-the-oatmeal oatmeal-and-chocolate-chip cookies!

  78. Nearly everything I pack has changed since having kids, but the one thing that hasn’t is my own water bottle. Pack it empty to get through security, and fill it up as soon as you’re on the other side. Saves on having to buy water, plus I always find having it forces me to drink more water, thus keeping me hydrated. And bonus! Toddlers love to play with grownup water bottles.

    • Leanne says...

      I bring my own coffee mug for the same reason. It’s so much easier to balance a mug with a seal than paper cups of coffee with demanding toddlers. I use it for both water and water.

  79. Elizabeth R says...

    I could never pack apricots. Trying to not go to the bathroom on a plane is my single goal. As long as I have some books, headphones, and a snack, I am good to go. I also like Witch Hazel spray to keep my face refreshed and rash free.
    Incidentally, Caroline, you should read Samantha Irby’s two books and Jenny Slate’s book if you haven’t yet.

  80. Aquaphor ointment to slather on hands and lips. The air is so drying! I also carry a Korean face mask, but that’s for the hotel after I land. Don’t want to scare anyone on the plane.

    • Emily says...

      It’s also smart to dab a smidge of aquaphor in each nostril-prevents your nose from drying out and also acts as an additional germ barrier.

  81. Jessica says...

    Am I the only one who almost always travels with my kid?

    My must-brings are Melissa & Doug “Water Wows” because ‘painting’ those little pages brings me the only 20 minutes of peace I’m likely to have on the flight, without resorting to screens (which, frankly, I can’t figure out how to preload anyhow). That and a plethora of snacks (like a whole charcuterie board in small bags plus fruit) because there’s never enough time to buy decent food at an airport and any flight will inevitably coincide with some meal time.

    • Hannah says...

      Nope, I do, too! She’s a toddler, and I always pack snacks that we wouldn’t normally eat at home. We love those water wow books, too.

  82. Laura says...

    I have tiny Eustachian tubes (they regulate pressure in your inner ear) and therefore have HORRIBLE ear pain on both ascent and descent. I have to have sudafed, zyrtec and ibuprofen, my ear planes, and a lot of water- the swallowing is more helpful than chewing.
    I also always take a hydrating facial spray, which feels more refreshing than applying creams, and make sure I have tv and movies downloaded from Netflix that have subtitles or closed captions (since my ears are useless anyway!)

    • April says...

      Ear planes!!! Yes!! My eustachian tubes always gave me problems until I found these. I also have found great success with Eustachi!

  83. Emily says...

    I travel about twice monthly for work. My must pack item is anti-bacterial wet wipes. I board the plane usually in the first five people and wipe down-arm wrests, seat tray, seat belt, seat, seat pocket, back of seat in front of me. Then I sit down and wipe down my hands.

    On my last trip of this year the person in front of me was very ill through much of the flight. I was happy to have in my possession my must pack item PLUS my second must pack item-a scarf that can double as a face mask if needed.

    My third item is a great pair of headphones because something about air travel brings out the worst in many of us. My sense of humor also comes in handy but I pack that wherever I go!

    • Joaquina says...

      Have you seen the video of Naomi Campbell wiping down her (first class)
      airplane seat, tray, surrounding areas? I so aspire to do that (as well as to afford first class one day). You’re reminding me to bring anti-bacterial wipes for my next trip, thank you!

  84. Um… Hello People….no-one has mentioned the ultimate anxiety reducer:
    DARK CHOCOLATE:) A good bar even as dark as 85% feels like a security blanket in my bag!
    I too recently experienced the compression sock delight.
    A book and an audio book and great headphones .

    I love the idea of a scarf/pashmina lightly sprayed with essential oil. I will employ said strategy on my next flight.

    • lulu marie says...

      no wonder I don’t have anxiety! I eat dark chocolate squares daily after each meal! I even like 90% by Lindt!

  85. Ari says...

    Pre-kid: Gum
    Post-kid: … what DON’T I pack?!?

    • Ashley says...

      Same. :)

    • A says...

      HAHAHHAHAHAHAH. I can so relate.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha dead on

    • Lesley says...

      This! Would love to see plane suggestions for kids based on age groups. I am looking for a recommendation for a foot rest/ chair extender so that toddlers can lay down. Any specific recommendations from readers for that?

    • DEAD

    • Carrington says...

      I took my first flight without my toddler (who has been on at least 15) earlier this year and I just tried to remember my wallet and my phone because I forgot how easy it is just to take care of myself.

  86. Amber J says...

    I absolutely have to get a Vogue at the airport before flying. Do I read it all? No, no, of course not. But I must have it.

    • Same! Vogue and Toblerone! I never get them at any other time. Weird flight ritual.

  87. Jenny says...

    I traveled so much for medical school interviews and had to be on a strict budget. This stuff is always in my go-bag:
    Reusable insulated cup with lid with one serving of dry oatmeal and fixins. Just add hot water for a free meal and reuse the mug for water and coffee.
    RXbars
    Backup phone battery
    Credit card and the mantra “pack light and carry a heavy credit card”
    Face wipes and night cream for the flight
    Unscented lotion and slipper socks for long flights
    Download podcasts and spotify playlists ahead of time in case there’s no wifi
    Cash, which is never useable in Palo Alto but you need everywhere else

    • Jeanne says...

      I love your sense of humor. I need you as my doctor!!

  88. Nicole says...

    A water bottle so I don’t end up buying a plastic one or getting my hydration from several small plastic cups served in-flight.
    My inflatable neck pillow – it inflates using a built in push pump- so you don’t need to blow into it.
    A small package of clorox wipes. I wipe everything- the tray table, arm rests etc as soon as I sit down.
    I carry a UPF scarf as my blanket/sun protection and I pack a pair of clean comfy slipper socks to change into unless it is a short flight.

    • Colleen S says...

      Do you have to have a see-through bottle? I use stainless steel water bottles, I know you can’t have water in the bottle, but does it matter if it isn’t see-through?

    • Kathleen says...

      Colleen, No, you don’t need a see-through water bottle. A stainless steel bottle should be fine as long as it’s empty when you go through security. I’ve carried one on a plane many, many times.

    • Anneka says...

      Nope doesn’t matter. I carry my stainless steel water bottle on every flight. It is definitely my go to!

    • Colleen S says...

      Okay, thanks!

    • Joaquina says...

      Nicole, you are awesome for bringing a refillable water bottle to avoid
      multiple, throw away plastic water bottles. I love reading/seeing/hearing about how more of us are taking these measures.

    • Denise says...

      Your neck pillow pump comment made me remember a hilarious incident with my girlfriend. She bought one of those inflatable triangle shaped pillows that you put on your tray table and lean into. You inflate it with the overhead fan. I wasn’t paying attention when she started and whoomp! all of a sudden this thing just blows up like an air bag! It was hilarious!! Plus, she slept really well with that thing, so I’m going to try one.

  89. Danna says...

    Ativan! I’m a freakishly fearful flyer despite having flown hundreds of thousands of miles all over the world. No matter how many times I do it, it just never gets any easier. If it’s a smooth flight I can deal, but it’s still nervewracking. But if there’s even the slightest bit of turbulence I totally. lose. my. shit. Seriously, I know that when I die if I go to heaven it will be a chocolate and dog filled delight. Hell will be eternity spent flying on a plane that never runs out of fuel and never lands.

    I used to bring along my own tiny bottles of vodka and down 2 of them after I’d board, then another after take off. Sometimes add a coffee with Bailey’s during beverage service. But I don’t normally drink so I’d just end up drunk *and* afraid. I asked my Dr. to prescribe Ativan for me (only for when I fly) and it’s made a world of difference. It don’t feel zoned out or sleepy, I just feel like OK, I can do this.

    • Mara says...

      This is me to a T! Traveling is my favorite thing in the world to do and people are often puzzled how I get by. Indeed, hell for me would be an endless, turbulent flight with no [for me] Xanax. From what I understand, these drugs are getting harder and harder to justify (I’ve had two doctors in the last year try to talk me out of Xanax for flying), so I’m really afraid that one day, this opportunity for a calmer flight will go away.

    • Dienesa says...

      The latest Martha Stewart Living magazine and Smuckers’ PB&J Uncrustables hehe

    • Fiona says...

      this is me as well, and funnily enough once I got prescribed the xanax after several mid-air panic attacks, i realized that *having* the medicine meant I didn’t often need to *take* the medicine, because I had my coping mechanism available should I need it! Still pop one the minute I hear its going to be bumpy (or I know we’re flying over a mountain range) and its a life saver! I travel a load for work and probably only take it 2-3 times a year, but I don’t know what I would do if i *couldn’t*

    • Yes yes yes!!! I just left this very comment below. Xanax didn’t work for me, but my doctor recently prescribed me propranolol which has been GODSEND. People apparently use it for public speaking and social anxiety, but it’s all by cured my fear of flying because my heart rate doesn’t spike during turbulence so I just feel chill and in control. Drugs are MAGIC!!!!

  90. janice says...

    Ear plugs/eye mask/wrap are must haves, but I’ve got an entire list of must haves beyond these, lol.
    I always take fancy snacks and a delicious meal to treat myself, as well as a couple chamomile tea bags which I find soothing as travel is low-key stressful.
    I’ve just ordered a personal ionizer to minimize air-sharing about which the less said the better. But also because I want to see how it helps with pollen allergies this spring.

  91. Gabby T says...

    Xanax and either an SKii or a Joanna Vargas mask. I put it on when they announce we are getting ready to descend and take if off right before wheels down. Zero makeup after an overseas redeye and my husband even remarks how great my skin looks! Also hospital-grade wipes to wipe down EVERY SURFACE near my seat. EVERY. SURFACE. So I guess I have three things I can’t fly without.

  92. Amanda says...

    Not a travel packing tip, but on a tangent! Did anyone else read Chrissy Teigen’s tweet about how there is a separate terminal at airports (maybe just LAX?) for celebrities flying commercial flights? You pay a yearly membership fee and get a separate security check and driven directly to the plane so you don’t have to deal with us normal folks gawking at you in the terminal. So interesting to me that this is a thing. And I’m also offended that it’s a thing I’ll never be able to use, :)

    • Alex says...

      Yes! It sounds so glorious right?? There is one in London too. And probably Asia/Middle East has them…
      The closest I’ll ever get is the one time I flew Business Class from NYC to Hong Kong for work and got access to the Cathay Pacific Lounge. My life backup plan is now to sell everything I own and buy a one-way business class ticket to Hong Kong and then just try to live inside the CP Lounge for as long as possible.

    • Rachel says...

      Can confirm that this terminal at LAX is real! I had the pleasure of experiencing it once, about 15 years ago. There’s no wait, no TSA line, and minimal screening. The bathrooms are spacious and smell lovely. Perhaps money doesn’t buy you happiness, but it sure buys you a pleasant airport experience.

    • Hayley says...

      reply to Alex – the Cathay Pacific lounge in HK is the dream. The food..!!!!!!

  93. Erin says...

    My pillow. I’m sure that plenty of someones will find it gross, but I CANNOT sleep without my own pillow.

  94. Katie says...

    Carbon offsets. Not to be too debbie downer, but it’s true.

    • Katie says...

      High Five! Also a Katie, also a Carbon Offsetter!

    • janice says...

      What do you do? I’d like to know much more about this, thank you.

    • E says...

      Where do you buy yours? I’m interested in this but have concerns that some of the options may not be reputable.

    • Emma Brett says...

      Thanks for your comment, the only one I’ve read that mentions the environment. I’ve researched this a lot because I want to avoid air travel but I have an elderly father living in another continent. When I feel I really have to fly I use atmosfair (https://www.atmosfair.de/en/) they are a good option I think but the pros and cons are summed up pretty well here https://www.responsibletravel.com/copy/carbon-offsets

      We won’t fly next year (barring any family emergencies), but my family is looking forward to travelling by train. I’d love to read more posts about more climate-friendly travel, how to travel by train in style perhaps :)

  95. Mara says...

    For the flight, it’s the best neck pillow ever, Cabeau Evolution, and noise-cancelling headphones are a must. Everything about flying makes me extremely anxious so not having to hear dreaded airplane noises and babies crying really helps calm me down.

    My all-time must-have for any travel, especially abroad, is a small, digital luggage weight. Invaluable!! I had a nightmarish trip home from Florence several years ago, after doing some fun shopping for a week and the check-in agent was going to charge my husband and me 100 Euros each for being a few pounds over the limit. We had our bags splayed open off to the side as people looked on, my husband throwing away old undershirts and underwear while I layered on all my heaviest clothing. I looked like a clown. We had to go back and forth to the desk several times until we were each at 50lbs. From that point on, every time we travel, we thank our light-weight digital scale for keeping us in check!

    • Mara says...

      Correction — luggage *SCALE* I meant! The best!

    • Absolutely my luggage scale!
      And as others have said, wipes for your entire seat area, and the scarf my sister gave me that can be used as a blanket or shawl.

  96. Emily says...

    Big water bottle and various snacks. Also Dramamine and those sea bands for your wrists. I’ve always struggled with motion sickness in cars, and now I feel sick on planes. It’s awesome. The plane sickness is a new development, so I just started making sure I take my anti-sickness supplies.

  97. Heidi says...

    I love the Lululemon Vinyasa wrap scarf for travel. (In the air or for road trips!) You can use it as a wrap, a scarf, a throw blanket, crumple it up and use as a pillow, and for summer road trips you can drape across yourself when the car A/C is a little too chilly but not enough to turn off. They are so soft, and they come in so many pretty colors. Watch the video on their site for all of the different ways to wear it. Great gift, too!

    • Mika says...

      Yes to this! I have a jersey knit circle scarf that I bought from Wilfred (Canadian brand) about 5 years ago that can act as a scarf, pillow, and jacket all in one. I never fly without it, esp since it’s so easy to wash and incredibly soft.

    • Kelly says...

      I love this scarf! I recently wore it like a hood over my face and slept in the car on a road trip. Plus it’s cute!

  98. Ae says...

    I had NO idea what that water mask was for and had been applying it my lips (!!) after exchange points for it at Sephora last week. You saved me! Lol.

    • Lindsey says...

      They also make a lip mask, so maybe you’re fine! The lip mask is pink, and the face mask is blue. :)

    • Dana says...

      Laneige does have a cult lip sleeping mask too, so you weren’t far off!

  99. Ll says...

    If it’s a long flight I always wear compression socks. I also pack/wear a big scarf, headphones, a book, wet wipes and hand lotion! The longer the flight, the more water I drink, and I usually try to go to the toilets while there is a queue so I have a reason to stand up for longer. It it’s a holiday I’m traveling for, I make sure to pack candles (small tea lights) to use on the hotel balcony in the evenings.
    Oh and no matter where I’m flying to, I make sure to be there hours ahead of time to avoid feeling stressed. I’d rather walk around, people watch or smell a million perfumes at the tax free shop for hours. Foreign (but in English) magazines and sweets usually ends up being purchased too..

  100. Daniela says...

    My must pack item when flying with my husband is a headphone splitter. He loves podcasts so usually we listen to those, but on our last flight he played music the whole time because he knows I prefer it :)

  101. Amanda says...

    ALWAYS one or two folded up grocery bags and a few clothes pins. I feel there is always a need to put things in grocery bags, separate dirty laundry from clean or put snacks in, etc… The clothes pins are for closing snack bags! Not sure if that is just a Pennsylvania thing or not, but it works great! :)

    • Hannah says...

      Also from Pennsylvania, also exclusively use clothes pins to close snack bags!

      I’m curious if you call(ed) your grandmother “Grammy”? Another thing I suspect is regional!

    • Erin G says...

      Commenting on the “Grammy” comment. I lived in PA (between Reading and Allentown) until 6th grade and called my Grandma “Grammy.” Have never heard anyone else use it. Didn’t realize it’s a regional thing. No, I don’t use clothespins. :-)

    • Amanda says...

      @ Hannah: I called her Gram <3

    • Hannah says...

      @Amanda – Thank you for sharing about your Gram <3

      @Erin G – I was in the Lehigh Valley and lots of my friends also said "Grammy"! Thank you for letting me know about your Grammy :)

    • Cherie says...

      I’m replying to the Grammy convo, I’m from generations of Mainers and both my grandmothers were Grammys. Not just for Pennsylvania anymore.

  102. Rue says...

    noise cancelling earbuds, reusable water bottle, scarf, reading and/or writing, and a specific combo of snacks that I always crave, which will surely be different for you than it is for me.

    I hit upon my snacks formula when I was finishing my PhD. My last few months were a sprint to the finish line, and my office was across the street from a grocery store. In the time I carved out for keeping myself fed, I started picking up “no cooking” foods that kept me going and feeling good. Now I mostly pick up this combo of foods for travel, where that same scenario also comes up.

    If you’re really curious, this is my snack list: salty (goldfish crackers or popcorn), baguette, cheese, yogurt, fruit, veggie (carrots or snap peas), sweet (fruit gummies!).

  103. Eli says...

    I don’t take any major international flights but JetLag mask by Summer Fridays is my go-to when traveling. Can’t tell its on, keeps me from breaking out, my skin looks great! Definitely water bc the dry recycled air in the plane seems to dehydrate you even faster. Pretzels to ease nausea; didn’t develop the motion/air sickness until my mid-20’s. Downloads of either Top Chef reruns or Great British Bake Off! I used to get in a good book but the development of the air sickness has caused me to not be able to read on planes. (Any tips on that would be great bc I hate that I look like a typical millennial vegging out on Netflix).

    I do have a ritual before I travel to clear/calm my mind – be that praying, meditating, having a quiet moment with tea. Helps to ease the tension of travel and also have a bit more patience for those around me who would otherwise aggravate my every last nerve. Purposefully practicing grace and understanding of others.

    • Bex says...

      I also developed air sickness in my 20s! The only thing that actually helps is if I avoid anything sugary the couple days preceding a flight- no added sugars, honey, syrup, erythritol, nothing. Not easy, but absolutely worth doing if it means I don’t have to close my eyes with my head between my knees on a 6 hour flight.

      Also, Great British Bake Off is even better in-flight! It doesn’t hurt to have a familiar friend to keep your mind off the nausea :)

    • michaela says...

      If you miss reading on the plane you could always try an audiobook. I check mine out from the library. They’re great and free. Also those funny wrist bands help me feel better.

  104. Gossip magazines are my travel indulgence!

    • AN says...

      Ditto! Only when traveling! I call them “mind Cheetos”.

    • Vanessa says...

      Mind cheetos! Stealing the name, for I do this too :)

  105. THB says...

    Borrowing from my favourite gals at The Home Edit: a footstool for the “under tall” folks of the world.

  106. valentina says...

    I lovelovelove to bring a candle with me when I travel — Having that little extra bit of coziness in the hotel/airbnb makes me that much happier and helps create a “scent memory” for my trip! Definitely recommend :)

    • Em says...

      Ooo, I love this idea! Definitely stealing, thank you :-)

  107. Julie says...

    I always pack noise-cancelling headphones, my Kindle, multiple lip balms, and Ludens cough drops. I also make sure to download the most recent episodes of my podcasts.

  108. Samantha says...

    I don’t have a must-pack item but I have a short do-not-pack or do-not-get-caught-with story: On a work trip, I packed vodka nips for a coworker and I, not knowing that it was illegal to consume your own on the flight… The flight attendant told my coworker that he could have her arrested! In the meantime, I was sitting across the aisle watching wide eyed and stealthily hiding my bottle. I felt very bad for her but after the fact, we had a good laugh! And nobody got arrested!

    • Christina H. says...

      I find this really surprising–I am a frequent flier, and as far as I know, as long as what you are carrying on is 3.4 ounces or less, you are definitely allowed to imbibe your own alcohol on a flight!

    • AE says...

      Just looked this up. Article 121.575 says it’s illegal to drink your own alcohol (aka only the certificate holder of the aircraft my serve alcohol). Who knew!

    • A. N. says...

      my husband and i have packed those tiny liquor bottles on every trip we’ve taken for the 12 years we’ve known each other and never had any issue! we’ve taken 20+ trips and no one has ever said anything?! we don’t hide them, either. strange!

    • Lindsay says...

      Samantha, was this on a Canadian flight? I never knew about this rule but they announced it on my flight from Toronto last night!

    • Andrea says...

      Every single time I have flown in the past several years it is part of the flight attendant speech before the flight that it is illegal to consume your own alcohol. Granted I pretty much only fly Alaska Airlines so maybe other airlines don’t do this? I’m always maxed out on my baggies of 3 oz or less liquids so couldn’t bring any booze anyways!

  109. EliseB says...

    Mostly I would like to se The Dog! Please, a photo.

    • Grace says...

      Agree…how can someone mention a dog and not post a photo?!

    • Christina says...

      If you click the link, “my dog,” it brings you to Caroline’s beautiful Open Letter to Dogs, with her cutie Mia in the main photo. Be prepared to cry!
      Linking here again:
      https://cupofjo.com/2018/09/why-i-love-dogs/
      xo

  110. Cait says...

    Noise cancelling headphones. Even when I’m not actually listening to anything, they help drown out background noise and deter over-friendly seatmates from making small talk (I am not a small talk person.)

    Also, a refillable water bottle to help reduce plastic and save from being price-gauged on bottled water at the snack shops ;)

  111. Abbey says...

    My must-pack snack is mini/Persian cucumbers. They are crisp and refreshing, super hydrating (so handy when you can only bring so much water onto the plane), and perfectly snack-sized so there’s no waste. Also, they smell fresh and reminiscent of a spa (if your imagination is along for the ride) so they’re minimally offensive to other passengers.

    And my tech must-pack are my noise cancelling headphones, and silicone ear plugs (these are the best: https://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Canals-Upgraded-Reduction-Airplane-Gardening/dp/B07SP96B6M/ref=sr_1_18?keywords=noise+reduction+silicone+ear+plugs+for+sleeping&qid=1575996635&sr=8-18) . You don’t realize how exhausting 12 hours of airplane noise is until you block it out.

    • elise says...

      i love cucumbers and never thought of this! do you peel them? eat them with the skin on? i need to know!

  112. Jen says...

    If you’re going to pack dried apricots, FYI California Blenheim dried apricots taste way better than Turkish dried apricots that you get in the grocery store. You can order them online. We give them to apricot loving family members for Xmas.

    • Heidi says...

      Yes! I get the unsulfered Blenheims at Trader Joe’s… they are far superior than Turkish Apricots!

    • Wendela says...

      Earbuds (my running ones work better than standard ones for planes), scarf, extra sweater or jacket for either warmth if needed or to scrunch up like a pillow for back support or as an actual pillow if I’m in the window seat and up for a nap; podcasts and/or audiobooks; eye mask for red eye flights to block light, water bottle, almonds (in case you aren’t able to buy something more substantial to eat from airport shops or on the plane!), dark chocolate (delicious, comforting, and a small jolt of caffeine), tin of mints, crossword puzzle, and I sometimes remember to carry a tiny spray bottle to fill with water after security to spritz the air in front of my face a few times during a long flight to combat the dry airplane air effects (I’ve heard the dry air can make you more susceptible to cold viruses, among other issues, though I’m not sure if that’s really true, but it is definitely refreshing to spritz yourself!). Hand sanitizer (always). Laptop if I need to work. And now I want to try compression socks!

  113. Lindsay says...

    New Yorker magazines. They fold. Can get dirty. And most importantly – are light!

  114. Christina says...

    A tiny tin candle (with lid). Something like this, although I’ve also found great inexpensive alternatives at Target. https://www.anthropologie.com/shop/voluspa-maison-mini-candle-set2?category=SEARCHRESULTS&color=010

    Hotel rooms always smell a little musty and not-like-home, and then there’s the inevitable poop – if you’re lucky and/or packed your apricots. A tiny candle does just the trick! Bonus points if it’s a smell you haven’t used before, as it’ll create a new scent memory associated with the trip.

    You can get free matches at the hotel front desk or bar, but I almost always pack them in my carryon and have never had an issue with TSA (shhh).

    • Lindsay says...

      Interesting! I’d thought about doing that before, but it seemed kind of dangerous, and potentially against some rules, like it was at my college. Do we have anyone here who can confirm it’s totally ok?

    • Christina says...

      Lindsay, it’s definitely against TSA rules to bring matches. Like I said, I’ve never gotten questioned about it, and most hotels have matches on hand, if you prefer to do that.

      It’s totally fine to bring a candle though, and I think it’s fine in a hotel room as long as you don’t leave it lit while you’re asleep or away. I like having the lid for packing as well as for closing it up when I sleep or leave. Up to you!

    • Caitlin B says...

      Matches are actually fine to carry on – I try to bring one book home with me as a souvenir. TSA states: “One book of safety (non-strike anywhere) matches are permitted as carry-on items, but all matches are prohibited in checked baggage.”

  115. Lili says...

    Doubling down on holiday cheer/ bite-sized reading, I read David Sedaris’s ‘Holidays on Ice’ every year around this time. Hilarious short stories and essays by the master himself. 10/10 would recommend.

  116. Heather says...

    I’m smiling at Kelsey’s sleeping mask as her must-have. You’ve got a baby now, Kelsey! Your new must-have is spare outfits for everyone and WIPES. (but also, still the laneige, b/c as the flight attendant will instruct, when traveling with someone who needs your assistance, always put on your own mask first).

    • Rachel says...

      Ha! The most perfect comment :)

  117. Noelle says...

    My must-pack in my carry-on is my glasses and contacts lens case/solution. I always have a fear that I’ll be stuck mid-air with terribly painful dry eyes and no glasses or that my bag will get lost and I won’t have my glasses. It’s like a survival situation sort of thing.

    Not sure if anyone follows Sara Blakely (SPANX founder) on Instagram. She has the most hilarious pre-flight ritual with her ipod original and she has to play the exact same song during take-off (not even sure of the song… maybe some 90’s tune. I looked it up once but had never heard of it or the artist). One time she left her bag in the airport with her flight rituals inside and she panicked (spoiler alert: she got it back).

    • sheed says...

      Mark Knopffler, “What It Is”!

    • Abbiemirand says...

      I used to fly internationally for work, and my two main must pack items were a pair of wool socks ( to stay warm and comfy on overnight flights) and pantyliners! It’s a small thing, but I felt a tiny bit more fresh and clean after wearing the same pair of undies for a long flight.

  118. Rae says...

    I bring a very big & cozy scarf because I am ALWAY cold on an airplane. Bonus that I keep my scarfs in a cedar chest with lavender sachets so they always smell good. Planes are cold and smelly. Oh, and Aesop hand sanitizer. Planes are cold, smelly, and germy.
    Now I just sound neurotic…

    • Christina says...

      Yes to this, Rae! I bring a scarf with a spritz of essential oils – not enough to annoy my seatmates, but enough to filter the airplane smells and germs. Last time I flew, I forgot a scarf and sorely regretted it.

  119. Maggie says...

    Bottle of water, pack of gum, wet wipes and a Vanity Fair or Dwell (bite-size reading!).

    On an unrelated note but because the CoJ community is the best: I’m traveling to the US soon and am curious to try some SuperGoop products. Any recommendations?

    • Noelle says...

      Unseen sunscreen is the BEST!

    • Jenny says...

      Concur! Unsunscreen sunscreen!

  120. Eloise says...

    Pepperidge Farm Goldfish – original (saltine, not cheddar) flavor. Always. And now I’m going to reread Self Help.

  121. Tyler says...

    Compression socks for the long flights! They make all the difference for a quick rebound from time zone adjustment– less swelling, less tiredness– I won’t fly without them!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’ve always been so curious about these! my good friend kendra swears by them, too!

    • Calla says...

      I second compression socks! I never really realized how swollen and uncomfortable my feet used to be until I tried them

    • Rue says...

      seconded. I used compression socks for the first time on a flight from DC to Beijing and they WORKED. who knew something small/simple could make such a difference.

    • Abbey says...

      Yes to compression socks! Game-changer. I like the brand Comrad cuz they’re cute.

    • sheed says...

      YES! They keep me so much warmer on flights, too!

    • RG says...

      Yes yes yes!! As a vein doctor – these are essential. Not just to avoid swelling but also to ward off evil spider veins!! You can buy cute ones online on Amazon these days. You want to find 20-30mm Hg knee highs. I like the cute patterns by Vim & Vigr and ATN. Make sure to measure so you purchase the right size.

    • Wendy says...

      I never fly (or shop!) without my compression socks and love the Smartwool ones the best. They’re more than 50% wool, so no odor and can be worn for days without washing. Three week European trip, wore them every day and I only needed to pack three pair. Just sink wash every few days. Lots more room in my suitcase for new purchases!

    • JoyL says...

      My husband and I have a long plane trip coming up and I’d like to get both of us some compression socks for stocking stuffers. His were easy to buy but I’m short 5′ and have short calves and those I’ve tried were too tall for me and go over my knees. Folding them down was painful. Anyone have a source for petite compression socks in cute patterns?

    • Claire says...

      This takes a few days of planning ahead, but I always try to pack an avocado sandwich! Just bread, mashed avocado, salt and pepper. It’s healthy enough not to give me a stomachache on the plane, but also salty/ satisfying. I also bring a change of socks and underwear, an extra sweater, contacts, a water bottle, and my Kindle. I love the idea of bringing a candle for when you arrive at your destination!

    • Katie says...

      YESSS. I started using them when pregnant, and they make such a difference. I don’t feel nearly so groggy or out of it when I fly with them.