Anna and I leave for Europe in two months, and whilst it may seem like we have plenty of time to pack, I have already started to think about what I will need to take – in both my carry-on and checked luggage. I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite extensively in my 21 years and as a result, have my carry-on essentials down pat. I usually over pack my hand luggage and have good intentions to be really productive on long-haul flights, but let’s be honest here, I usually just sleep, or watch movies on the entertainment systems (if they work). On the way to Hawaii in June, we were on a night time flight, so we slept and on the way home, even though it was day time, I was so sick and again, slept.
Hammamas Turkish Towel
When I was seven, we went on our first overseas holiday to the United States for three months. Mum organised all four of us children with our own hand luggage bags, pillows and blankets. I can hear you all saying “the airlines have their own pillows and blankets, why take your own?” but let me remind you how small both items are, and do we really know how clean they are? Also, isn’t it a luxury to sleep on your own pillow when you’re away for so long?! FYI, I always used a Barney the Dinosaur pillowcase. It was green and my absolute favourite! Since I have gotten older, and no longer want to carry a bright green pillow around with a pink animal blanket, I have found a new substitute: a Hammamas Turkish Towel. These 100% cotton towels are perfect! Not only are they a great alternative to a beach towel, they’re large enough to use as a blanket and also double as a scarf, tablecloth and picnic blanket; an absolute essential for travelling! Another plus is when you’re so sick at Honolulu airport and can’t move or stand up they act as a great barrier between you and the dirty carpet. Highly recommend!
I feel like this is an obvious essential (along with tickets etc.), with no explanation needed. However I will share a tip with you: if you don’t have a photographic memory like Mike Ross from Suits, it’s a good idea to put your passport number and expiry date in an easily accessible place. You need those numbers so often that it can become a pain to flick through to the second page of your passport EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. I print mine on a label and stick it on the inside of my passport cover.
When you arrive at your destination, unless you have a driver waiting for you (let’s be honest, hardly any of us have that luxury), you’re most likely going to have to catch some form of public transport (shuttles, trains, taxis, buses) to your hotel. Some businesses may only take cash (especially shuttles), so it’s a good idea to have various denominations of the local currency when you arrive. When you’re waiting for your transport, you may also like a sneaky chocolate bar and coffee and if the EFTPOS minimum is $10, you may be in a tricky situation.
Do I need to explain? I am loving Thankyou’s eucalyptus and mint hand sanitiser as it’s scent is much more pleasant than the standard Dettol.
Unlike some people who love plane food, I do not. I don’t know what it is (the foil tray, the smell, the mystery of what is being served?), but I will go 30 hours without eating if I have to. Consequently, half my carry-on luggage is full of snacks: muesli bars, almonds, lollies and chocolate.
Because I am an organiser, I always make sure I do my research before going on a holiday. Whilst I don’t have my days scheduled to the hour (you’ve got to experience some form of spontaneity!), I do like to have a list of things I would like to do when at the destination. They are usually categorised into eat, drink, shop and do, with specific information about each thing (e.g. opening hours and costs). For Hawaii, I used Kikki-K’s basics folder to organise the trip. Guys, for those of you who appreciate a heavy duty plastic sleeve, this folder is the best of the best and worth every single cent ($14.95). I’ve just purchased my one for London and Paris too, as I start collating all of our documents (e.g. tickets, accommodation information, restaurant reservations).
For any additional research and reading I want to do on the plane, I make sure to take any other travel guides I have. The pocket-sized Lonely Planet guides are fantastic as they house all the necessary information, but also include a great tear-out map.
I love reading on airplanes, so I usually stock up on mags at the airport. Generally I get one gossip mag and one fashion mag (my favourite is Elle Australia). The last couple of times I have been overseas, I purchase books to read on the plane and every time I don’t touch them. I still have Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch sitting on my bedside table from our Hawaii trip – still untouched.
This is an absolute definite! James and Prudence were paying me out on the flight to Hawaii about my eye mask but it makes going to sleep so much easier. At one point, they dangled a Starburst snake in front of my nose to see if I could register it was there. (I couldn’t because I am not a dog.) Queue fits of laughter from them.
Kikki-K’s Carry-On Pouches
Restrictions on the amount of liquids, aerosols and gels you can take onto an international flight mean that if you are taking any liquids on the flight, they need to be under 100mL and in a clear, sealable bag. Obviously, I abide by these rules (#rebel), however I would always just use zip-lock sandwich bags. Enter, Kikki-K’s carry-on pouches, which are stylish, practical and meet the requirements for travelling. Win, win.
Face Wash & Moisturiser
Moisturiser is an essential to substitute the lack of moisture in airplanes, and there’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination feeling gross and unclean. Pack travel sized (see above) moisterisers and face washes so you can freshen up before you land.
There’s nothing worse than uncomfortable earphones when you’re trying to watch re-runs of How I Met Your Mother. Take your own to save the discomfort. On another note, why is it ALWAYS How I Met Your Mother?!
When we flew to the US in 2012, my entertainment system wasn’t working, so I now preempt that (boring) situation by loading my iPad with television shows and movies before we go. Also avoids the HIMYM scenario.
So tell me, what are your essentials for your carry-on luggage when travelling? Have I missed anything?
Are you an organised traveller like me or the spontaneous type? I’d love to hear.
Images all my own.