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6 Things I Always Pack in My Carry On

It’s the simple things that make a difference. Here are the 6 things I always carry on when flying:


I slip these into my ears and though it doesn’t block out the noise completely (you still need to hear things) it does create a more placid existence while in the hurly burly world of an airport terminal.

6 Things I Always Carry On a Plane

My Own Tea

I like a good strong cup of tea in the morning and I don’t trust my ability to form complete sentences to just any tea they give out.

6 Things I Always Carry On a Plane

Hydrating Spray

A must for any flight over three hours.  A light mist of rose water spray does wonders in re-hydrating your dry, tired airplane face.  You’ll feel and look fresher for the rest of the flight.  Remember to get a small size (under three ounces) so you can pack it in your carry-on bag.

6 Things I Always Carry On a Plane

Eye Mask

I always catch-up on sleep on planes.  An eye mask makes that possible.  Don’t get one too tight or you’ll wake up with those embarrassing lines across your nose and under your eyes.

6 Things I Always Carry On a Plane


I honestly don’t know what I’d do without my “Tony.”  Melatonin is really for long-haul flights only, but what I love about it is that it occurs naturally in your body so you’re not taking a drug, and it doesn’t completely knock you out like a sleeping pill.  It just relaxes you, like you had a nice hot bath.

6 Things I Always Carry On a Plane

Fuzzy Socks

As soon as I get on the plane my shoes and socks come off (discretely as I really hate to subject my seatmate to my tired feet) and then on goes the fuzzy wuzzies!  Your feet really do swell on a flight and it’s good to give them some breathing room.  However, when using restroom never walk in with just your socks because that bathroom floor is pretty gross.  Some men have a tough time with their aim if you know what I mean.

6 Things I Always Carry On a Plane

What are your favorite things to take on a plane when you travel?

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This Post Has 80 Comments

      1. Folding foot rest is from Magellan’s travel catalog. My wife has had the same one for over 20 years and carries it everywhere – movies, airplanes, car passenger, church, etc.

  1. Ear plugs are a must. For me, also reading material and my iPod. I have to be able to distract myself even on short flights or it just takes FOREVER! 🙂

  2. I carry a toothbrush when flying … Flights to Europe/Asia are so long…. Brushing is so refreshing.

    I’ve also carried magazine articles that I didn’t have time to read at home… just tear them out, take them along and toss them when finished!

    Congrats Samantha on your website!

  3. After going through security, I buy a bottle of water at a convenience stand before I get on the plane. And I always ask for water for beverage service. Airplane air is so dry, I get headaches if I don’t have enough water.

  4. Love the website, Sam! It’s fun but oh, so helpful to travelers. Great job, as always…

    1. I buy those small travel sprayers at Target, or where ever, put a few of drops of Rosewater, Lavender or Rosemary essence, and it’s great.

  5. My top six things on a flight: iPhone for music, Sudoku puzzles to do, Vicks Inhaler for them stuffy noses on flights, novels to read, face powder (cause after long hours of nothing my face tends to get oily again,, gross) and minty chewing gum.

  6. I always travel with a Palmer’s Cocoa Butter stick. I can use it as a moisturizer as my skin dries out and can also use it as a lip balm, and because it’s not a liquid I never have to worry about loosing it at security.

  7. I always have a good book to read during a flight. And kleenexes in my purse. I find blowing my nose works better to clear out my ears during landing than chewing a piece of gum.

  8. I carry a pashmina, sarong or large muslin scarf (depending on type of travel and season.) It gets used on the plane as a light blanket or wrap, a draped head scarf upon arrival and as a cover when visiting mosques, churches and other delicate situations. Note: I pack everything in my carry on by category in “zip lock” type bags. At a glance I can find my wallet and credit cards, or iPod and charger, or snacks: the bonus is the plastic bags have many uses during my travels.
    Love the hydrating spray idea…it will be with me next time.

  9. I bring my Brita water bottle. It has a filter inside, which means I can empty it out, take it with me through security, refill it from a water fountain, and have filtered water with me during the entire trip without buying bottles. I also bring Advil, chapstick, and a travel blanket and pillow. The blankets and pillows on the planes are not the cleanest things out there.

    1. I share the same ideas as many of the others who posted here. I emphasize safety more and more including some new types of interior wallets and cross the body purses. I often fill a sleeveless vest’s pockets with thingies for flights… easy to fold it when not needed. a fishing vest works fine for this. I use coils to boil water and filters to kill germs..even “safe water” in Scandinavia can have mineral deposits that are unwanted. I suggest that travelers know if a holiday is scheduled at a destination city… can affect eating, shopping and travel. I take a train schedule book when using a train a lot. take a small size fleece throw and a small size sheet plus a neck pillow. disposable cups and protein bars are great to have. I started, in 1975, using backpacks and Frommer’s books for travel on trains and moving around a lot…I now use apt rentals with kitchenettes for a “home hub” base with public transportation. I print, in foreign languages, basic travel phrases on small cards… helps me get directions and buy tickets. I have some of Samantha’s bags but always keep the sizes down to acceptable dimensions and carry half of luggage I used to take.

  10. 1. Soft & cozy ruana/cape to use as cover on plane and when travelling as a light outerwear.
    2. circle word book
    3. ipad (downloaded with tons of magazines, books, games, movies, and mostly music)
    4. small tin of vaseline-use it on my cuticles, lips, dry skin and fits in my ziplock
    5.first aid kit ziplock w/bandaids, advil, sinus med, anti-diarrhea med, antacid, and blister block stick, moleskin (i ALWAYS get blisters on the backs of my heels, so I like to be prepared)
    6. my BOSE noise cancelling headphones & extra batteries. they are the best to block out surrounding noise, babies crying, annoying chatterbox seat mates.

    1. My ipad and my Bose noise cancelling headphones are a must too! If the plane has wifi, I just watch netflix the whole trip. Last two flights the tv on jetblue has had either sound or picture problems so netflix was perfect. So etimes I rent a movie before hand to watch on it too! Amazing headphones. I also keep an extra battery with me for the headphones.

  11. You can pry my Xanax from my cold, dead hands. Admittedly, it’s terrible for short hops when I am still barely lucid and my husband has to carry me off the plane BUT it’s a lifesaver (for fellow passengers as well, trust me) on longer cross-country flights or international flights.

  12. I love sticking some cozy, warm socks in my purse to wear on the flight too! It makes you instantly feel more at home on an airplane.

    I also can’t fly without my ipod touch, loaded with music and games, a good book, and some chewing gum for irritated ears. (:

    That face spray you mentioned sounds amazing. Where can you get that stuff?!

  13. I travel a lot and would not be comfortable without…

    1) Cashmere wrap…comfy for chilly flights…rolls up small
    2) soft warm socks
    3) iPad downloaded full of magazines…music…movies
    4) lotion and chap stick
    5) my own healthy snacks
    6) and most importantly my neck pillow…

    Where do you find a folding footrest? There are a few air carriers in Europe who have fold down foot rests and it really makes a squishy coach seat more comfortable~!

  14. I’ve only flown once (MI to NYC) and the number one thing I needed was my Marshmallow Peep beanie bunny… he is soft and I held him when I was nervous. I also needed my iPod for music, a good book, and lots and lots of chewing gum. With this first flight under my belt, I am sure I will think of other things to bring with me on longer flights 🙂

  15. Honestly, we are so very happy for you,..On all our vacations we wonder where Samantha is. Seems like my husband and I have been to the same places it’s our joke.. For names for your daughter. Sydney or Siobhan your son Sean or Michael congrats again

  16. Your goofy, approachable style make you such a beloved travel host and I’m so happy to have found your website. Extremely happy for you and your husband.

    I travel to Australia at least twice a year (just returned this week) and take all the things you list, in addition to:
    1. No Jet Lag instead of Melatonin, a homeopathic tablet that regulates circadian rhythms. It really does help overcome jet lag. I lilke the idea of Melatonin to be able to sleep.
    2. I am occasionally upgraded to Business for free, but I don’t take that for granted and always pack pjs or comfy pants and top, so that I can change before landing and arrive in fresh looking clothes.
    3. Deodorant, along with facial products and makeup in its own pouch.
    4. A “memory foam” neck pillow. I think it conforms to and supports your neck much better than inflated or husk filled ones.
    5. Just an emphasis on eye mask and ear plugs – they can make all the difference when people around you have their reading lights on or you are near the bathroom and have other passengers coming and going around you.

    I always drink plenty of water and get up frequently to stretch and avoid any chance of DVT. Love the suggestions above from others too!

  17. my sockie-sockies after the take off my feet get super cold and is NOT pleasant at all so I have to keep them warm, ear bugs to listen any kind of music, magazines and a window seat so I can sleep 🙂

  18. Great tips, thanks for sharing! My favorite new thing to do is put my fuzzy wuzzies on when I take my shoes off at security. I put them over my regular socks or bare feet. Just wish I would have thought of this years (and many shoeless gross airport floors) ago!

  19. I take these “must haves” ( especially for a long trip):
    1) iPad/ iPhone ….loaded with reading material, games, names and addresses ( phone book if needed for post cards sending, emergencies etching), and note pad ( app) . I make notes on things I want to see and do, phone numbers needed for tours or contact info, copy of reservation confirmation info etc. there).
    2) squeeze tune of Blistek. Great for dried out lips and nasal passages, and the smell is refreshing and soothing to me, also a lip gloss.
    3) Total Pillow. A round, bendable pillow great as a neck pillow, to sit on, as an arm rest, or for support of lower back ; and, when folded, on lap, makes perfect height and support for iPad.
    4). Journal – I like to document by summary, each day’s happenings. Great to refer back to when doing albums later. ( this could be done on note pad app).
    5). Once past security- a large bottle of water, two if I have room.
    6) Nuts, protein or granola bar, cheese sticks, grapes…my “go to ” nutritional , easy travel foods.
    7). Pashmina- works as a light blanket, on plane, wrap while visiting sites, or to cover one’s head at Cathedrals .
    8) ALL meds. Never want to chance them not making it to my destination .
    9) Simple change of clothes- usually meaning, a top, and underwear.
    10) Camera

  20. I always bring a couple of individually wrapped sanitizer wipes and wipe off the tray and seat handles to reduce transmission of colds and flu.

  21. Sure, mags, snax, lip balm, earbuds, but I recently started carrying those dispoable towelettes with hand sanitizer on them to wipe off those gross drop down tables. Also, I carry 1 or 2 Kleenex travel packs. I’ve had enough UTIs after flights to ever trust airplane TP again! No, not a germaphobe, just learned from over 500 flights. Love everyone’s ideas!

  22. Couple of squirts of Afrin an hour before a flight helps prevent stuffy ears, which I can get and it stays with me a couple of days after a flight, my ENT told me about it, it’s great!

  23. add the U.S. State Dept and CDC or WHO as websites to review before going to other countries. It makes me so sad that I won’t return to Egypt or similar countries because of Arab Spring happenings. I have traveled internationally to many countries and continents and now realize that it now is not time to return to many of these places. At least I have memories of past global travels and won’t miss out on future trips. One factor that is obvious now is that some places like Russia, Ukraine and China have changed dramatically since I was there in 1986 – 87. And, of course, in 1975, East Berlin and the “Wall” were experienced then with no similar changes now that will occur.

  24. In addition to what I’ve read here, I bring a plastic camping wineglass which I refill whenever on the ground, tea bags to soak in cold water (to place on my eyes to relieve puffiness), facial towelettes, dried fruit (since long flights can cause constipation) and, my favorite, the heat packs that stick on the outside of your underwear and give you natural pain relief for backache (and, by increasing blood flow, reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis).

  25. I always request a window seat and stow my knapsack underneath the seat in front of me. In it goes a little bit of everything …

    * earplugs … a must to block out noise when trying to catch some Zzzs
    * eye mask, travel pillow… always bring but have never used, ever
    * medications (Advil, Benadryl, Imodium)
    * travel-size toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss
    * snacks … dried fruits, nuts, granola bars, cheese peanut butter crackers, herbal tea, Splenda, lrg bottle of water (after clearing security)
    * soft, warm socks
    * scrunchie, ponytail holder
    * folding travel brush w/mirror
    * ipad mini to listen to music, play games, read Kindle books
    * puzzle books (word search or Sudoku)
    * phrasebook … to learn some basic phrases
    * camera and accessories

  26. 1) magazines and guidebooks of wherever I am going
    2) generic Clorox wipes because my 5 year old touches everything from the window, tray, knobs, airplane guide inside seat pocket
    3) hand wipes for my 5 year old who again touches everything
    4) oil blotting papers for my greasy face
    5) kindle, which I never end up reading
    6) generic tablet for child to play games
    7) tissue packs for kid who has allergies
    8) crayolas and pens for kid

  27. 1. Travel compression socks! Started wearing them last year, will forever more… Really helps prevent swelling feet.
    2. Eye mask, earplugs, pillow.
    3. I always wear comfortable clothes, flats, no jewellery, and dress in layers. My jacket/coat most times function as a blanket. If I’m sleeping on board I go without makeup and apply moisture on my skin night and morning and put on some makeup in the morning. Fresh!
    4. My own food and drinks. I am often hungry outside of meal serving times and don’t always appreciate what is served.
    5. Music, games, and a book. If I’m going somewhere new, I bring info about the place I’m going to. Makes me excited and ready for the adventure ahead. 🙂

  28. My list:
    -window seat a must for sleeping and privacy.
    -tie on shoes or boots for emergency landings
    -coat doubles as blanket
    -tiny pillow
    -medications so they get there with me
    -books to read and DVD (no Ipad) for movie
    bottle of water and granola crunch bars
    -tiny purse inside of big purse so I can take money, credit cards etc with me to bathroom
    -money belt to hold passports, money, etc. when traveling abroad
    -everything black for sparse packing, i do not check bags, just wear what I bring even if a month!
    -saniwipes in individual packets; all purpose use
    -I think earplugs are a new idea I am going to incorporate

  29. BOSE noise cancelling headphone……really cuts out engine noise and makes music and books on tape very enjoyable…..1 AAA battery lasts 30 hours or more and helps with sleep esp if there is a crying baby……Scottvest fleece hoodie..all the
    pockets to hold everything safely…reading glasses with built in LED lights very helpful to look in carryon in a darken plane or under seats if dropped something!

  30. empty 4 oz spray bottle to spray face every so often…very refreshing on long dry flights…or bring empty baggie and clean wash cloth ..add water to the bag and wipe face every so often….bring your own pillow and blanket …got one at TARGET were blanket fits inside travel pillow

  31. I have a 16oz Tervis with a travel lid that I always take with me when I travel. Once I get through security, I fill it up at a water fountain instead of paying $3 for a water bottle. I can refill any time there’s a drinking fountain. Then, when I get to the hotel, I can have a good-sized cup of coffee in the morning instead of using the tiny little styrofoam cups they have.

  32. For long haul flights to S. America/Europe/Asia and even cross-country I always bring antibacterial towelettes. I give my seat area a good wipe-down upon boarding. Who knows how well the plane is “cleaned” while between flights. I feel like I have noticed a decrease in my getting sick during long trips or upon my return home. They also make a nice way to “freshen up” on when a shower was long past due.

    I also like to carry a reusable water bottle. I fill up as soon as I get through security so that I can stay well hydrated.

    Happy Travels!

  33. I deff bring some lip balm with me as the dry air easily causes my lips to crack in air. My top 6 list:

    1) Eye masks – get the velcro ones so you can adjust how tight it should hold against your face
    2) Ear plus
    3) Foot rest/ pillow. I have the inflatable one. This makes such a difference for shorter people (5’3) and those travelling long distance (>4 hours)
    4) Lip balm – to make sure my drink doesnt come with a side taste of blood
    5) Pashmina/ scarf as I tend to get cold even in jeans on the plane and the travel blanket can only stretch so far
    6) USB charger. This is becoming more and more common for new planes/ planes in Asia. You can charge your phone throughout the entire flight for free if you bring your charger with you. So make sure to keep that close by and handy!

  34. My kindle and eye drops go in first. Of course, eye mask. I don’t need ear plugs. I take out my hearing aids for quiet.I do wear compression stockings. Toiletries that I absolutely need and meds. A change of clothes. Sweater. Why are planes always so cold?

  35. Folding, over-the-ear noise canceling headphones. And an iPhone with books, magazines, podcasts, and music.

  36. Swear by the ear plugs or ear buds with music turned up, eye shades, fuzzy socks. I’m good to go… and yeah, breath mints are a good idea too!

  37. I take healthy nuts and dark chocolate mix, a good book, travel pillow, Advil, Pycnogenol (addresses swelling in legs and feet) and a nail file (in addition to the usual essentials of powder, lipstick, mascara, and moisturizer). Oh and hand sanitizer!

  38. I have switched my folding foot rest (heavy, cumbersome) for an inflatable one made by Samsonite (light weight and packs into practically nothing) and an inflatable neck pillow from Magellan’s that fastens in the front with a velcro strap-much like the cumbersome ones you get from orthopedic doctor. I find it keeps my head/neck securely in place while resting on long flights. Finally, I have acquired eyemasks that are cotton lined; no more sweaty eyelids or under-eye area 🙂

  39. I never travel (fly) without a zippered hoodie sweatshirt. Easily adjustable to the temp in the airplane. Can serve as a blanket, rolled into a pillow. And, if someone is coughing or sneezing nearby or the headrest looks gross, just toss the hood over your head for a comforting sense of security.

  40. Before you read this, please know I’m not a germaphobia! 🙂 I take the fuzzy socks that have traction on the bottom so when I go to the bathroom I don’t have to switch into shoes. HOWEVER, I store them in a zip lock bag. When I get home, I washed them separated. Store them in a new bag for the next trip. Also, I don’t get people that that the travel pillows and see them drop them on the airport floors, etc. ugh! Who wants to sleep on a pillow that’s been on who knows what? I get a bag with a clip (from the Container Store) to clip on my travel bag if I don’t have room inside. So much more sanitary!

  41. Instead of buying a footrest or folding stool for your feet, try using your under seat luggage or backpack. I take my shoes off and pull out my carry-on bag from under the seat and rest my feet on it. Very comfortable and on less thing I have to pack and carry.

  42. I take saline nasal spray. A few squirts in your nostrils every few hours helps prevent headaches and nasal congestion. Sanitary wipes because planes are disgustingly nasty (especially the discount airlines with quick turnovers). iPhone, Bose headset, back-up battery, charger and extra long (9-10ft) charge cord.

  43. I bring little things called ear planes. They are little ear plugs that people like me who are sensitive to pressure changes that come with flying can wear during take off & landing that slowly adjust you ears to the pressure. No more plane ear aches.

    I also bring the fluffiest throw blanket I can find. It makes life wonderful to snuggle into a fluffy blanket when its chaos around you.

  44. I always where a nice big and soft scarf. It helps double as a light blanket, or easy to remove if I get too warm. Also good to pull over nose to escape any bad odors! Also have to use compression socks, but they make a world of difference. Any one considering melatonin, might want to try it at home first. A side effect can be very vivid dreams! I experienced that once, and no desire to repeat that experience!

    1. Your advice to try melatonin pre-travel is spot on. Melatonin results in my having a horrible headache which is not a good traveling partner.

  45. I always wear a nice big and soft scarf. It helps double as a light blanket, or easy to remove if I get too warm. Also good to pull over nose to escape any bad odors! Also have to use compression socks, but they make a world of difference. Any one considering melatonin, might want to try it at home first. A side effect can be very vivid dreams! I experienced that once, and no desire to repeat that experience!

  46. I pack in a no larger than 30L backpack (carry on), always wear on of my Macabi travel skirts, have tons of music, books and movies loaded to my iPad and have a lightweight blow up seat pad to cushion the crummy economy seats.

  47. Also, carry a written list of all medications, health conditions being treated, and health insurance information.

  48. Yes to all of those plus Chapstick, Tylenol, Cough Drops, Oil absorbing face sheets and Young Living Thieves spray

  49. You all are amazing! Thank you for all the great advice! I will be traveling to Europe for the first time innSeptember. I am having a hard time deciding if I should take white pants for evening dinners. What is the normal wear for touring around Italy? Thank you in advance to any one who can help.

    1. I wouldn’t wear white pants – black is the order of the day. They won’t show dirt, and everyone in Europe seems to wear dark colors.

  50. I wear compression socks and only loosen my shoes never remove. I take Ocean nose spray and my mouthguard on long flights. Drink plenty of water. I also wipe down tray, arms and the head rest. Then I take what I call my “fly pill” and sleep.

  51. On long flights, I sneak off to the lav right after boarding and change into comfy (but decent looking) sweats and like you, Samantha, add a pair of cozy socks. I trade my shoes or sandals for my crocs, for when I need to go back to the lav. I also bring my own pair of earphones, because I know they work better and are much more comfortable than anything handed out! I always carry a scarf, sweater, or pullover, too!

  52. I only take my Samantha Brown carryon luggage even when going to Europe or Australia for 2 weeks.
    I wear a wonderful black travel blazer that has pockets for tickets, passport, ID, etc., and is like a blanket when chilly.
    While I may be the only person in the world to be so gauche, I wear a fanny pack over my tummy. It has 4+ zippered compartments so I always have my money, credit cards, phone, glasses, and everything I need and I never worry about losing anything.
    My other must-haves are new zippered compression stockings because I have had a blood clot in my leg from traveling and the zippers make them SO MUCH EASIER to get on and off. I always take an aspirin or two before the flight.
    And my memory foam neck rest cuddles my neck and makes sleeping so much more comfortable. Can’t descend without chewing gum. Moisturizer, snacks, and antibacterial wipes and I’ll be adding Samantha’s spray for future trips. ❤️Happy Trails to You!

  53. A scarf as per your advise! Just last week it saved me. I was in San Diego on business and I had one appointment cancel so I decided to run to La Jolla Cove. It is so gorgeous. However it smelled like there were a few dead animals in the area. Really strong and offensive. I stepped out of the car and immediately jumped back in the car to grab my scarf. A few people commented on what a great idea. Thank you!!!

  54. My Kindle! When home, I’m a big advocate of using my great Johnson County Library. You can’t beat free! But for traveling, my Kindle is the way to go. I load it up with books I want to read. It’s light weight, oh so handy and great for passing time in the airport, on flights, or nights in a hotel. I’ve discovered some really great reads by trying some of the Daily Deals!

  55. For me, if the flight is over 2 hours, I wear compression socks.

    Noise cancelling headphones with Y connector for my wife’s headphones
    IPad with movie, kindle app, music
    Large lithium battery to recharge iPad
    Travel power strip – so valuable

    And, since 9/2001, 2 blank CD’s, a Kensington lock for my laptop, and several long tie wraps.

  56. My boyfriend will be renting a plane when we go to Manhattan to treat me for my birthday. He knows that I have never ridden an airplane before, so he wants it to be extra special by renting a private plane. I don’t know what to bring during the flight, so thanks for the tips. I never knew that it is important to bring a hydrating spray since the skin gets dry during the flight.

  57. My last 5 trips have been international and I have finally figured out what to carry on. A soft shawl, hand lotion, travel toothbrush, hand sanitizer, lip balm. Eight hours isn’t very long; it’s like a day at work. Does one really need noise canceling headphones, eye masks, face spray, fuzzy socks?

  58. I put all of my papers in a small notebook (8 1/2 x 5 1/2) because I constantly lose papers. Everything from hotel reservations, tour vouchers, airline information, passport copy, etc. will go in that notebook. When done, I take all the papers out, clip them together with the cute cover I made for the outside of the notebook and I have my trip diary.

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6 Things I Always Carry On a Plane
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