July 16, 2014

What's in my carry-on?

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Traveling is rough on anybody. Long flights, layovers, crying babies (don't even get me started), and all around discomfort... it's really not as glamorous as people make it out to be. Now I'll be the first to say that I'm no veteran traveler by any means, but I've been across the Atlantic a couple times, and I've learned a lot about what I need to bring in my carry-on in those few flights. So here I am to share with you what I bring in my carry-on, and maybe it will help you when you're packing for your next long-haul flight.

While packing for London I realized there are three different categories to think about when packing a carry-on to make sure I'm as comfortable as I can be when I'm in the air: sleeping & comfort, entertainment, freshening up.

Sleeping & Comfort:

  • Neck pillow
  • Blanket
  • Sweatshirt
  • Pair of socks
  • Eye mask and ear plugs
  • Back brace
  • Eye glass case
On a long, overnight flight (or just a long flight in general), you're going to want to sleep, if anything, to simply pass time. And sleeping in an upright position isn't exactly ideal. These items tend to make it a little easier though.
- A neck pillow is necessary. Period. A blanket? Maybe not so much. I didn't use mine and ended up packing it in my checked luggage on the way home. The blankets on the plane really aren't that bad unlike the provided pillows.
- A sweatshirt and a pair of socks are super important for me. I get cold easily, and these items help to keep me warm and snuggly.
- An eye mask and ear plugs - I never realized how awesome these are to have until I had them. I'm an awful sleeper, even when I'm in my own bed. The eye mask helps to block out light (obviously), which helps you to sleep (it seriously does). And the ear plugs block out noise (obviously), which is great when there's an annoying crying baby in the row in front of you (again, don't get me started).
- The back brace and eye glass case are strictly personal for me. I have an awful back from cheerleading, so I like to have my brace in case it starts to ache really bad. I also like to wear glasses instead of contacts because I have terrible dry eyes, and airplane air doesn't help, so I like to have my eye glass case to protect my glasses when I'm ready to snooze.

Entertainment:

  • A book to read
  • A journal
  • Pen/pencil
  • Headphones
Having something to keep you occupied while flying is a MUST. It's entirely up to you what you bring to keep you entertained, but I strongly suggest you bring something.
- I brought a book and my journal thinking I'd use both while flying, but I ended up not opening either. These are still things I'd consider packing in my carry-on on future flights, but I realize now that they aren't a total necessity like I thought they'd be. But if you love to read or write, these might be your best option.
- A pen or pencil is always good to have on hand but seems to always be forgotten when in the midst of packing. Keep one on your packing list so you don't forget. Even if you don't write in your journal, it's still good to have so you can fill out your customs paperwork.
- Headphones are my ultimate carry-on must have. They saved my life basically. Watch movies, TV shows, or listen to music. Your on-flight screen has so many options to help you pass time. I watched multiple movies and TV shows on both flights. The airline provides headphones, but they don't fit well. Having your own set just helps to make you feel more comfortable.

Freshening Up:

  • Chapstick and lotion
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Face wipes
  • Wet wipes
  • Hairbrush
  • Make up 
Again, what you bring to freshen up is entirely up to you and depends solely on what you find important, but having a way to freshen up before you land really helps that groggy feeling and makes you feel more energized. Just make sure that you bring travel-sized toiletries to save space and weight that you'll be carrying.
- Chapstick and lotion are pretty important to me. Airplane air is super dry, so having these items helps to keep your skin moisturized.
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant is up to you. I used them on the way to London, but packed them all in my checked luggage on the way back. They're nice to have to freshen up on the plane, but if you can wait till you get to your final destination, these items aren't absolutely necessary during the flight.
- Face wipes and wet wipes were great for me. You can use face wipes to remove your makeup at the beginning of the flight, which is good for your skin. And you can use before landing, which helps to wake you up. Again, they aren't necessary, but I enjoyed having them with me. Wet wipes are also very important to me. I got incredibly sick on my flight home from Germany after studying abroad, so having wet wipes to keep my hands, tray table, and arm rests germ-free is at the top of my must have list.
- Hairbrush is, again, take it or leave it. If you travel with your hair down, it's nice to have. But if you just throw your hair up in a bun or ponytail like me, this can probably wait until your final destination.
- Make up is totally personal preference. Make up can wake you up and make you feel nicer when getting off your flight, and if you're not going straight to your hotel or rental property after the flight, this might be an absolute must have. But if you can wait, feel free to pack make up in your checked luggage. It just depends on the kind of woman you are.

I also like to bring my electronics in my carry-on, too. I don't use them while flying; it's mainly to make sure my most expensive items make it to my final destination safe and sound. I brought my laptop, camera, cell phone, external hard drive, and all corresponding chargers in my carry-on. It's kind of a hassle and adds a lot of weight to my carry-on, but it gives me a lot of peace of mind knowing my expensive items will make it to my final destination in tact.

If you have any other items you love packing in your carry-on, please leave them in the comments below. I'm always open to other ideas and options. I hope this helps guide you when packing for your next long-haul flight!

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