Helping you pack
1. Soft-sided Bag
I see so many travelers wheeling their hard-sided bags through the airport only to get stopped at the gate to see if it’s the proper size for a carry-on. Often the wheels cause the bag to be outside the carry-on parameters. Hard-sided bag that are allowed on the plane are the ones most passengers struggle to fit in overhead compartments. Save yourself the hassle and get large, soft-sided weekender that is easy to pack, carry, and will fit anywhere! My favorite: Longchamp Le Pliage XL Nylon Tote.
2. Travel Luggage Scale
We in the United States are lucky that the weight of our carry-on luggage is not regulated. In the rest of the world it is. You will often be asked to put your bag on a scale before checking-in. Avoid surprises and extra fees at the airport as you move from city to city by bringing a luggage scale with you. Weighing only two ounces the Etekcity Digital Luggage Scale scale is a necessity for multi-city trips.
On the go
3. Memory Foam Travel Pillow
Even if you already have a cheap, bean-filled or inflatable travel pillow, you need to get this memory foam one. I never had trouble sleeping on planes, but when I was in the airport getting ready for my first super-long haul flight from Boston to Beijing, I invested in a memory foam pillow. It was one of the smartest decisions of my life. I have never fallen asleep faster or slept better while traveling than when using this pillow. I have lent it to many friends for their travels, and they all agree! You can’t go wrong with the Cabeau Evolution Memory Foam Travel Pillow.
4. Noise-cancelling headphones
Headphones are a must while on-the-go for listening to music, audio books, television shows, and movies. Noise-cancelling headphones will make your experience even more enjoyable by blocking out any extraneous engine or passenger noise. You can escape into your own world while you await your arrival at your destination. My go-to headphones are the BeatsX Wireless In-Ear Headphones.
5. Sleep Mask
Along with a travel pillow and noise-cancelling headphones or ear plugs, a sleep mask is essential for good sleep while traveling. Most airlines hand out their own cheap version on long-haul flights – the Japan Air one is actually rather nice! – but in case your airline does not, or you want to get some sleep on a shorter flight, this is a worthwhile investment. No need to buy something high-tech when you just need it to block out the light; try the Copebri Natural Silk Sleep Mask.
You would think most airplanes would have back-of-seat entertainment systems at this point. Many new planes do. But what if you get stuck on a small McDonnell Douglas or an old Boeing for a 3+ hour flight? Bring your own entertainment on a tablet just in case. You can download a book to the Kindle app or a few movies to pass time on your way to your destination. There are many great options on the market, but I am especially a fan of the Amazon Fire Tablet.
7. Coloring book and pencils
An odd addition, I’m sure many of you are thinking. Believe it or not, despite the hundreds of flights I have taken, I still have a fear of flying. A remedy I recently discovered is putting on some music or a movie for background noise and pulling out an adult coloring book. It helps your mind focus on something other than the plane, and helps the time pass until you reach your destination. My first adult coloring book was the Harry Potter Coloring Book.
No matter what you are wearing on the plane, or what weather is concurring in the city you are leaving or your destination, pack a pair of sandals for the plane. Your feet will swell while in the air, making you want to remove your shoes. Plane etiquette dictates that you do not go barefoot. Oddly, no one seems to mind if their fellow passengers are wearing sandals. I try to wear sandals to the airport, but if you don’t have room in your bag for another pair of shoes, or are in a cold climate, change into sandals as soon as you board your flight and stuff your other shoes under the seat in front of you. For a cute, sturdy, light-weight pair, check out Havaianas.
In the Hotel
9. Solid Shampoo and Conditioner
Not only are these products eco-friendly, as they don’t have disposable packaging, but they are perfect for travel. Solid shampoos and conditioners (or combo bars) effectively wash and condition hair while not adding to your tiny liquid or bag weight allotment. They last for hundreds of washes, so you don’t have to worry about running out like you would with travel-sized containers. Pick up a bar (or two) on Amazon or at Lush Cosmetics!
10. Dry Shampoo
The current theory on hair care is that you shouldn’t wash your hair every day. I don’t know about you, but while I prescribe to this regime, I still need to do something for my hair on off-days. Enter dry shampoo. In either aerosol or powder form, dry shampoo will pick up your hair on in-between days. It is especially helpful on days when you have to get out the door quickly for a travel excursion and don’t have time for a full wash and dry! I love Batiste aerosols, which also come in travel sizes.
11. Laundry Bag
When all your travel clothes go in the same bag, you need something to separate clean or reusable clothes from the dirty ones. Limited space requires an efficient solution. Pack a lightweight laundry bag in your travel bag to re-pack dirty clothes and keep them away from the rest of your wardrobe.
Out and about
12. Portable Phone Charger
How many times have you tried to take a video or send a picture and realized that you’d be using the last of your phone battery to do so? What about all those times you’ve run low or out of power on a flight on a plane that doesn’t have outlets when you’re watching a movie or listening to music? If you pack your portable phone charger on your vacations you’ll never have to experience that again!
13. Warm, Lightweight Jacket
If you’re traveling from one climate to another (like when this New Englander heads to the Caribbean in the winter) or visiting multiple destinations in one trip, it can be difficult to decide what type of outerwear to pack. Most jackets and sweaters take up a lot of room. Pick up a warm-yet-lightweight jacket like the Northface Thermoball to solve this issue. I am comfortable wearing this jacket unzipped in temperatures up to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also warm enough to comfortably bundle up in visiting climates that drop below freezing.
14. Cross-Body Bag
Small, spacious shoulder bags are great no matter where you travel, but a cross-body bag is essential when visiting developing nations. Mine has traveled across the world with me from Greece and Ireland to China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. If you invest in one of these bags, make sure you always wear it across your body to deter thieves from an easy snatch. Pick up a super cute bag from Kate Spade to complement your travel wardrobe!
15. Multi-purpose Black Leggings
This is mainly a suggestion for the women, though these would make a great gift for any well-traveled women in the lives of the men reading this! A simple pair of black leggings is the most versatile piece of travel clothing options I can think of. Depending on how active my travel schedule is, I always pack a pair of either cotton or lyrca capri leggings. This one pair will get me through any sudden physical activities and then transition for a casual afternoon or nice night out by pairing them with a sweater and boots or flats. Any plain pair would do, but I always bring my black Lululemon Wunder Unders for this purpose.
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