Tips for a smart carry-on and a comfy flight

 In Travel Tips

With countless flights under my belt, I’ve learned the one thing that can turn a flight for better or worse is the carry-on bag, or rather, its contents.

There’s nothing like facing down six hours in the middle seat with dry eyes, a growling stomach or a little one who has maxed out interest in her toys.

Here are a few my Top 5 Must Haves no matter how short or long the flight:

  1. Ziploc or resealable plastic bags
  2. Pashmina or other large scarf
  3. Granola bars
  4. Multicolored click pen, paper and string
  5. Moisturizing things (eye drops/lip balm/hand lotion)

Ziploc bags: They are indispensable. Great for organizing small bits in a larger carry-on, you can easily grab the snack bag, the entertainment bag, the clean-up bag. If you travel with diaper-bound children, or those prone to spilling glasses of red wine on white sweaters, (anyone?) they’re great for stuffing away soiled clothes you can’t bear to throw away on the plane. The plastic also provides a perfect stink barrier.

Pashmina: This is more like my miracle blanket. It can be a weather toss up. Swinging from toasty to freezing and back again in an hour. And not all flights offer blankets. Wrap the Pashmina around your neck and shoulders to keep you or your littles warm. Unwrap once or twice and you’ve got a discreet breastfeeding cover. These scarves have loads of material and can spread out like a blanket for you or the kids. These scarves also dangle perfectly over food and baby spillage.

Color click pen: My toddler loves to draw, or rather, loves to dictate to her parents what to draw. But pens drop on the floor and caps get lost. So I tie a color click pen with some string to a small spiral notebook. It provides almost endless entertainment for as long as your patience holds. And the colors keep things interesting without having to carry multiple pens, pencils or crayons.

Granola bars: This is really just my preference, but any single-serving, prepackaged snack is what you need. It’s always a good idea to keep something munchable on hand. You never know a) how long it will take for the snack or meal cart to reach you b) if your in-flight meal will be edible 3) whether you’ll be too delayed on layovers to stop for a sandwich.

Moisture: I can’t stand dry eyes, lips and hands. It’s just my thing, and the airplane air is notoriously harsh. I always carry preservative-free eye drops, which come in single serving packs. Also within easy reach is my lip balm and hand lotion. Not only does it make the hours more comfy, but it can help you feel refreshed as you step off the plane to your destination.

Pack smart and have a great flight.

Tara E. M. Giroud
I'm a stay-at-home expat mother of two. I left the United States for Switzerland in 2011 and love exploring my new backyard. I've had a travel bug since my first plane trip as a high school freshman when I enrolled in Space Camp. Since then I've jumped at any chance to see new places across the globe. Having children has given me a new lens through which I see travel and I hope to share some of those observations with other parents who continue Walking On, kids in tow, to new destinations.
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Showing 5 comments
  • Charu

    Moisturizing things! I always take my La Mer skin mask

  • wanderingeducators

    Love these – me, too! and ear plugs…

  • Jenna

    I hadn’t thought of the pen, string, notebook idea. Good one.

  • Allison

    Amen to the moisturizers. Having them and not needing them isn’t a big deal, but needing them and not having them can be miserable.

  • Laurel- Capturing la Vita

    Great tip, I love the click pen idea. Snacks are essential!