By the end of January, I will have covered four different countries in three weeks. One of the things that I love most about travel is the packing. I like plugging my iPod into the speakers and blasting music while I tick items off my travel list. Pretty soon, I’ll be posting What To Pack (the general version) and then What To Pack (beach version). Having traveled many times every year on both short and long flights, I pretty much have packing down.
The only parts I hate about traveling are the inevitable plane rides. I hate the coffee/stuffy/flu smell of the airplanes, the dirty feeling of the plane seats, and that person who always leans his seat back, leaving two inches between your face and the back of his seat. I’m always seated within the vicinity of some screaming baby or have someone extremely interesting sitting behind me- but I can’t turn around to stare. The flights are always delayed, and if they aren’t, I know I’ll have to take a bus once I get off the plane because the airline is too cheap to rent a terminal.
What I pack in my airplane bag is what keeps me from going crazy on every one of these flights. I used to carry a laptop bag on my flights because I thought that I had to personally carry my laptop to keep it from getting damaged. A while ago, I realized that I could just keep it in my carry-on bag, relieving me of what felt like ten pounds of extra weight. Now, I use roomy (preferably light weight) bags to hold all of my many essentials. I hate the smell of planes and have to wash my clothes right after a plane ride and shower, so I tend to take bags I don’t plan on using other than on plane rides. After a bag gets home from a trip, it sits on the floor until I can stand to store it (and its forever tainted self) back in my closet. One bag has been sitting on my closet floor for about four years.
- Book: Unless my plane has personal TVs, I spend my entire flight reading. Depending on the length of the flight, I always bring paperback books that vary in length. What you have to be careful of is reading too much. I once read five books on a twelve hour flight without sleeping and had to throw up upon arrival.
- Electronics: I carry all electronics (except my laptop) with me, including my iPod, Kindle, and camera. I’m afraid of damaging these, but they can also be handy in passing the time. Be sure to bring a book too, even if the electronics are your main source of entertainment, because electronics have to be switched off at the beginning and end of the flights, and if the plane if delayed, you are going to be sitting extremely bored on the runway.
- Earplugs: On those sleeping flights, aside from the bright reading lights, it’s always hard to sleep with the noise of the jet, people walking up and down aisles, and little kids yelling. My ears hurt if I wear headphones too long, so I recently bought a 30 pair pack of earplugs by Mack’s in a pretty turquoise color. It wasn’t until I was packing when I realized that I needed an earplug case. No way was I bringing 30 pairs or throwing a pair straight into my bag. Luckily, I found an earplug case at the Taiwanese equivalent of a dollar store.
- Colgate Wisps/ toothbrush: For those who wear braces especially, and even those who don’t, on those twelve hour flights with two meals and snacks in between, it’s a good idea to brush your teeth.
- Snack(s): Somehow the flights I take always manage to end up during either lunch or dinner. Although most flights serve meals, the meals are given at irregular times and I always regret not having brought food. An energy bar, candy, or sandwich can solve this problem.
- Small water bottle: It’s really convenient to pour your drink/water from the flight into your own water bottle. This means that you prevent spillage in cases of turbulence and you can put your tray back up and maximize seat space. It will also guarantee that you’ll never go thirsty if you fill up your bottle after security check and before you get on the plane.
- Hand sanitizer: I find planes really dirty, so I always have to sanitize/use the moist towlette before a meal. Or just throughout the flight periodically.
- Hand lotion/ lip balm: My skin and lips get really dry on the airplane, so it’s always good to have a moisturizing option
- Gum: chewing gum helps with the popping in the ears from changes in air pressure. Gums also quenches thirst so you’re less likely to have to drink and then use the restroom.
- Perfume: I like getting perfume samples from the duty free stores before a flight. This means that I can relieve myself from the smell of airplanes.
I pack some other stuff on the plane, but those are items more personal to me than to other people in general. I’ll take a picture of the contents of my bag before a trip, but for now, these are the items everyone can use.