Carry-On Essentials

Your carry-on good to go checklist

Deciding what to pack in your carry-on for a long flight when you are confined for hours can cause anxiety in the most savvy of travelers. But, being organized and packing for comfort can alleviate travel stress before you take off. When selecting items to take in my carry-on, three categories come to mind: entertainment, comfort, and hydration. (And, as my family loves to remind me, it has to be lightweight enough to carry!) If I pack items that check the boxes for these three categories, I will feel my best when hopping time zones, and step off the plane looking refreshed, and hopefully not like I aged overnight! With long journeys to Europe and the United Kingdom on my summer calendar, I wanted to share a few of my carry-on essentials...

1) Once I figure out which carry-on bag I’m bringing, the next step of what to put in it comes easy. For me, it’s always a battle between my two go-to’s: backpack vs. tote. Typically backpack wins, but for some trips, especially longer journeys, I prefer a larger tote bag. (Yes, my growing collection of cameras and accessories are requiring their own space, maybe even their own blog post!) It was love at first sight with Away’s new Everywhere Bag, in the LA Denim color (think durable but soft black denim jeans) Away ($225). I discovered this lightweight modern-looking bag in the San Francisco Away store, and thanks to a very hip and helpful sales guy named Dane (Australian accent) who showed me the carry-all’s features such as the sleeve that slips over the handles for a secure ride, and interior laptop pocket and waterproof umbrella pocket; this new bag just might become my favorite travel companion (Sorry, honey!)

2) Planes, trains and subways - traveling can be noisy! And on a long flight, sometimes I just need some quiet time to retreat into my own music or entertainment. Recently, I made the rookie mistake of forgetting my headphones on a flight and used the airline’s “complimentary” set. After working hard to keep the wonky, flimsy cord plugged in, I listened to sub-par audio that may have sounded better had I been fully immersed under water! I gave up and reached for my book. My latest splurge are the BOSE Quietcomfort noise cancelling headphones an essential for any frequent traveler. Lesson learned - I will never board a plane without them! Starting at ($349.95) Bose.

3) I have a love/hate relationship with sleeping eye masks because they can be too tight and uncomfortable. However, a mask is so necessary to grab much needed shut-eye on a long plane ride. While shopping in charming Laguna Beach, California, a few months ago, I finally found the sleeping eye mask of my dreams at the shop lala, the Kerry Cassill Sleep Mask ($24). This pretty mask is made of light as air hand block printed voile fabric so your eyes can rest easy!

4) On long flights having a variety of entertainment - reading materials and shows - helps to pass the time. Be sure to have your electronics charged, Netflix shows downloaded, and a book and a few magazines to enjoy when and if your technology fails you. I pack a few New Yorkers from the stack at home I’ve been wanting to tackle, a current glossy magazine, and a new novel, The Ensemble by Aja Gabel, which seems like the perfect summer read, and now I finally have time to become totally absorbed in it!

5) My three teens are so sick of my obsession with hand sanitizer and me nagging them to use it! But as a frequent flyer, I know airplanes are dirty and staying healthy while you travel is a priority. Hand sanitizer is an easy way to ward off unwanted germs. One of my faves is Dr. Bronner’s organic antibacterial hand sanitizer (2 oz.) perfect for use on the go ($4.99)!

6)  After you doze off and awaken to bright lights and flight attendants asking passengers to prepare for landing; one quick way to wake-up and feel refreshed is grabbing a face wipe. My current favorite is the Ursa Major face wipes, in single packets. These wipes smell subtly of orange, fir, and lavender and are fresh and invigorating, making my skin feel clean and hydrated. Good for all skin types, ($24) for pack of 20 face wipes.

7) Toothbrush No more leaving home without your electric toothbrush! The sleek, light Quip Travel Toothbrush is an electric toothbrush that runs for 3 months without charging. Definitely something to smile about ($25).

8) These days, it seems like it’s all about the oils in beauty care. And for good reason! Long plane rides can wreak havoc on your hair, nails and skin depleting them of moisture. This multi-tasking luxe La mer Renewal Oil soothes and revives dull skin leaving it smooth and supple. And while it is an indulgence, a little goes a long way and can be applied to your skin, your cuticles and to smooth those unruly pieces of fly-away hair! (Who doesn’t want to step off the plane with a bit of a dewy look?) ($194.99, 1 oz.)

9) Our hands take a beating during travel. I am constantly washing my hands to stay healthy, yet soap can dehydrate skin. A rich hand cream is a must! This anti-oxidant, anti-ageing moisturizing CAUDALÍE hand cream protects and nourishes my hands leaving them silky smooth. And I love the scent - made from orange pulp with notes of orange blossom and rose water softened by almond powder. It leaves no greasy film. ($15)

10) This hot brand is all about small-batch, handmade skin care that's tested on French girls and I wanted in! I say, “Oui, oui!” to this light, smooth and super hydrating French Girl lip balm that I am obsessed with! ($16)

11) Recently, when talking to some beauty experts on a panel I participated on, eye and face masks to wear in-flight were all the buzz. It makes sense. Who doesn’t want to look fresh and revived when they got off the plane?! And now masks are so much easier to do on-the-go. To that end, I am a fan of Patchology FlashPatch™ Rejuvenating Eye GelsNordstrom ($15). (I also love Patchology Hydrate face mask and lip treatment.)

12) Ugh, in-flight hair! We all need something to tame our tresses during travel. Thank goodness for the itty bitty Sephora Luxe Combo Travel Brush! A cute, stylish and effective travel brush that works great on detangling and smoothing wet or dry hair, ($15)

13) Ok, my biggest fear is being cold on an airplane! When cruising high at 35,000 feet, it gets chilly and if I’m not cozy, I get real crabby (just ask my husband!) I never travel without a scarf, and as many travel pros can attest, a really good scarf or wrap can be versatile on the plane and at your destination - used as a blanket, rolled up as a pillow, used as a head cover, or a stylish pop of color to any outfit. White + Warren cashmere travel wrap/scarf is the perfect travel companion, $298; or a lighter option is Caslon Heathered Cashmere Gauze scarf ($149) at Nordstrom.

Traveler’s Notes:

  • I couldn’t make this list without mentioning the importance of healthy snacks and water for hydrating on long trips! Some flights provide small snacks, but not always and when you have allergies, finding something healthy and safe to eat can become a burden. So remember to grab a snack or two before you reach the airport, or prior to boarding. Fresh fruit, nuts, a Kind bar and my Swell bottle to refill with water over and over again are travel must-haves!)
  • All liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in 3.4 ounce or smaller containers that fit in one sealed zip-top plastic bag, according to the TSA.
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