What to Carry On – A Shortlist on What to Pack on the Plane

Keep Calm and Carry OnFlying can be pretty miserable as far as experiences go. Remember the days when happy hostesses would dish out delicious sweets prior to takeoff? Or when you received a hot towel to keep you refreshed? What about when snacks and meals were free and plentiful and the kids received games kits?

Today, cramped seating, strict security and tough rules on what you can and cannot carry on leaves travelers to fend for themselves. But it’s not all bad. There are various items you can bring along on a flight to make the entire experience far more comfortable.

Here’s a list of what to carry on and what to pack for your flight:

What to Carry On – for Adults

Water

Of course you cannot take a bottle of water through the airport security, but you are allowed to take a water bottle. It’s generally a good idea to take an empty bottle with you to fill up once you’ve gone through the security check-point, but before you board the plane. The little cups of water you get on-board are never enough. Especially when we’re told how important it is to stay hydrated when flying! It’s also awkward having to ask for water every 30 minutes, so an empty bottle filled before boarding canb come in very handy!

Keeping Warm

Even if you’re coming from a warm country and traveling to a warm destination, airplanes can get annoyingly cold. This makes it difficult to get to sleep or get comfortable. Whilst airlines typically provide blankets, they can be scratchy or there may not be enough for every passenger. Bring along a light and comfy sweater (preferably one with a zip  – have you ever tried getting a top over your head in an airplane seat?), a long-sleeved t-shirt and even a stylish scarf or pashmina (for the ladies) that can double up as a comfortable and warm wrap-around.

What to Wear – Clothes

Dress comfortably for your flight. Choose loose-fitting, preferably natural, fibers or clothes with a bit of stretch in them such as leggings or a comfy sweat suite. But please, don’t wear your pajamas! Whilst these may be comfortable, you can look pretty silly walking around an airport in your PJ’s! If you must, please just take them with you in your carry on so you can change into them on the flight.

What to Wear – Shoes

As for shoes, opt for something quick and adjustable like sandals or slip-ons. Feet tend to swell during flights, particularly during long hauls so if you take off your shoes during a flight you may just have trouble getting them back on before you disembark. Besides being easy to adjust and comfortably stretchy, sandals or slip-ons are also convenient if you have to take off your shoes at security check-points. They’re also great for slipping back on when you need to go to the bathroom during the flight. (Tip: don’t try walking barefoot or in socks – imagine how bad someone’s aim might be during a touch of turbulence!)

Headphones

Some airlines require you to shell out money for headphones. Instead, bring along your own pair to enjoy the in-flight movies and music for free. Whilst most planes tend to take a single jack-style plug, (perfect for your iPhone headphones), it may also make sense to bring an airplane converter. I personally don’t travel anywhere without my Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones. They are absolutely fantastic for drowning out the white noise of the flight.

Skin Products

Cabin air can dry the skin out terribly, so travel prepared. In order to keep your skin hydrated, carry on a moisturizer, soothing lip balm and even a small water spritzer (if you have the space). Baby wipes are great for cleaning your hands or freshening up during the flight too. When you’re packing your products, make sure you use leak-proof packaging. If you’re packing the product as is, make sure you use a small portion before packing to remove the pressure. If you are using travel containers make sure you do not fill them all the way to the top. Liquids tend to expand during flights so you need to allow them room. Just to be safe, I recommend double bagging any liquids that might leak during the flight.

Snacks

On some domestic flights, free food seems to be a thing of the past and on some international flights it can be a bit of a wait between meals. Bring along easy to carry snacks like nuts; granola bars and trail mix that will see you through the flight. Just remember to declare the items at customs if you’re travelling internationally or simply purchase them once you have cleared security.

Reading Material

Make sure you bring some reading material to help you through the flight. Whilst a Kindle or iPad are fantastic to travel with, a paperback book or a magazine will help you through take-off and landing when you have to turn off all electronics.

If You Plan on Sleeping

If you hope to catch some shut-eye during the flight, pack an eye mask along with earplugs and an inflatable neck pillow to help keep your space calm, quiet and comfy.

A Pen!

If you’re travelling abroad, keep a pen handy for filling out any immigration or customs forms. Also, make sure that you have your hotel’s full address to include on entry forms. A notebook may also come in handy here and I like to buy a small pocket sized notebook to jot down any numbers or addresses during my travels.

Phone

If you decide to bring a phone with you on your travels, make sure that you have enabled global roaming. Alternatively, you can switch the phone to wifi-only mode so you don’t rank up an unsightly bill! I find this very useful for emails, skype, social media or just browsing the internet whilst in airports. Angry birds is also pretty fantastic for long boring flights! Click here to read on why the iPhone is a perfect travelling partner.

Ipad or Computer

The iPad (and the iPad mini in particular) is a perfect travelling partner. Click here to read why. A slim computer will also do, but my preference is for a tablet rather than a chunky laptop. That being said, if you have a Macbook Air or something of similar size, you may find that suitable to fit into your carry on luggage.

Duty Free Shopping

Given you will be spending some time in the airport, it is likely that you will have time to indulge in some Duty Free Shopping (click for our guide on making the most of duty free shopping).  So make sure you leave some room in your bag to fit in that last-minute bargain whether it be your favourite perfume or that bottle of scotch for your father-in-laws birthday. For a guide on what to buy in duty free, check out Duty Free Addict.

For the Kids

If you’re travelling with children, your priority is to keep them amused and entertained during the flight. Here are a couple of ideas to keep them occupied:

Babies and Toddlers

This is the easy age group to cater for! Sometimes the simplest and least expensive things can keep them happy for a while. Bring along a couple of pieces of mega-blocks for them to piece together or some magnetic stick-together blocks and puzzles.

Pre-Schoolers

Again an easy age-group to keep occupied! This age group loves picture books, activity books, stickers and things to color. Bring along paper and crayons for them to draw with too. Story books to read to them also help with passing time.

Kindergartners

This age group loves activity sets. Carry on craft sets, booklets of stickers, crayons or modeling clay to keep them busy during the flight.

For the Older Kids

Bring along the headphones for this age group so that they can enjoy the in-flight movies and games. Audio books are also great for amusement as are magazines and books. Card-based games, puzzle games and small board games are great ideas too.

Carry on Rules

And then there are the things we’re restricted to carrying on.

Passport

This one goes without saying more…

Liquids

There are strict rules around what liquids can be bought carry on. That includes items like gels, creams, honey, jams… you get the picture. If you are bringing toiletries with you, make sure you restrict them to 3-oz. (100ml) bottles and make sure you pack them in a clear Zip-lock bag (usually provided at the airport) or see-through toiletry bag. You’re only allowed one of these bags per passenger and you need to remember to remove it from your carry-on bag to place in the bin at the security screening machine.

You can bring along alcohol, sauces, syrups, honeys, soaps, lotions etc. provided that you have purchased them beyond the security check point in the local airport duty free stores.

Exceptions

If you’re travelling with infants, there are exceptions: you’re allowed to bring along baby formula and milk in quantities larger than three ounces and you’re not required to pack them in a zip-lock or see-through bag. Do be sure to declare the items for inspection at the security checkpoint, though.

Mothers are also permitted to carry on breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as you declare it. You can also stock your carry-on bag with baby food stored in cans or jars as well as liquid-filled teethers for the little ones. The TSA has also made allowances for baby items such as creams, medicines and other essentials.

Medications

There is a wide range of over-the-counter as well as prescription medications (be they in liquid, gel or aerosol forms) that are permitted as carry-on items without a limit to the size. There are other items for medical purposes (for example walking sticks or crutches) that are allowed on the airplane too. The rule of thumb is if an item is larger and not placed in a see-through bag, you need to declare it for inspection at the security checkpoints.

Changes

A new security incident can occur at any time and this can lead to changes in the regulations about what you can and cannot carry on the plane with you. Be sure to check out the TSA’s site (http://www.tsa.gov/) before you travel to find out if any of the regulations have changed before you fly.

Duty Free Purchases and Receipts

If you have utilised a countries duty free tourist refund scheme, you may be required to present the paper receipts and the products you have purchased to customs at the airport prior to departure. We recommend you research where the customs area is and whether you can do this pre or post checking your baggage. For more information on tax regimes check out our tax page.

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