Top Five Travel Necessities: Airplane Edition

A recent conversation with a traveling friend got me thinking. What are the things I just can’t live without while on a trip? Are those things different when I’m traveling for business vs. fun? What do I need for the plane vs. the hotel, or clothes vs. toiletries? So after much deliberation and consideration, I narrowed it down to five. Here are my necessities for when I’m on a plane:

  1. Kindle. Without a doubt, this is the one thing I need on every trip, regardless of work or play. Reading keeps me sane through delays, overly full flights, turbulence, screaming kids, smelly neighbors, and every other travel headache.
  2. iPhone. Music helps me feel like I’m alone on a plane of 200. White noise apps help me sleep. Email and internet are fun and entertaining before we take off. I need my phone!!
  3. Pashmina. The most useful of all clothing items. Use it as a pillow, a blanket, a napkin, an eye-mask…. It takes up so little room in a bag yet makes your flight so much better.
  4. Water/snacks. Getting dehydrated can affect me in so many ways, so I always carry water with me on flights. And being hungry makes me grumpy and sometimes nauseous, so I always carry snacks as well.
  5. Notepad. Sometimes I will be struck by inspiration–blog topic ideas, stuff I need to do at home, a grocery list, house decoration ideas…. If things come into my head, I have to write them down immediately or I might forget.
  6. Honorable mention: lip balm. My lips get so dry while flying, which is very uncomfortable. Lip balm makes it all better, and the mint kind smells really good (which helps when you have a smelly neighbor).

So Readers, what are your top five travel necessities for a plane? I’m so curious!! Please share.



  1. My list would look a lot like yours. I’ve swapped my iPad for my Kindle, though. I love having plenty to read with me. Now, if we just didn’t have to turn them off during takeoff and landing…. That’s when I work the Sudoku puzzles in the American magazine. And with my wireless keyboard, I can make do with the iPad and dispense with a laptop on most trips.

  2. 1. NY Times crossword puzzle – I try to save the Sunday magazine for travel
    2. knitting – small and simple project
    3. hand cream – my hands seem to get so dry while traveling
    4. pashmina – YES!
    5. travel “pencil case.” OK, this is technically more than one item, but I have a small leather pouch that I use for travel. In it I have a few index cards, sticky notes, pencil, pen, highlighter, binder clips and paper clips, good eraser, and even a tiny “scotch” tape dispenser. It is amazing how often I use that -pouch on planes, trains, and in the hotel.

  3. My list is pretty much yours, but an honorable mention to gum! Last week I was sitting next to a woman eating the most horrible smelling lunch – my gum helped mask the smell so I didn’t gag through her meal.

  4. 1. My Singapore Air/Star Alliance Gold membership card. Having elite status has made killing time at the airport a far more civil experience and it’s always nice to have access to free snacks, water, electrical outlet & Wi-Fi.
    2. Water. Staying hydrated is crucial on long haul flights and for those countries where they won’t allow you to bring water on board (or you’re doing a transit stop) I will bring an empty water bottle & have the flight attendant fill it for me.
    3. Cashmere “Cardiwrap” it’s a cardigan & a shawl rolled into one & looks incredibly elegant while also being incredibly soft & warm at the same time.
    4. iPad. So much entertainment & productivity rolled into one device that I have stopped bringing the laptop.
    5. iPhone. For obvious reasons.
    6. Honorable Mention: Caudalie Moisturizing Cream Eye/Face Mask. This stuff works great and it ensures that I’m not looking like a raisin when I exit the aircraft. (It also comes in a small enough size so that it’s not an issue getting it through security.)

  5. noise cancelling headphones and a pen are essentials! An iphone and/or a sudoku puzzle for entertainment are nice, and if you are traveling on a partner airline, i’ve found it’s always helpful to have your airline’s elite membership card to prove your way out of baggage fees, to be able to cut the line and sometimes even score a free upgrade.

  6. Your list plus:

    7. Bose headphones

    8. Hand lotion

    9. Gum

    10. I always pick up a fun magazine for light reading (People, InStyle, Marie Claire, or something like that). Usually I’ll hide it if I’m traveling with people I know from work, but it helps me relax and not take life too seriously (especially when we have delays, invasive screenings, etc.).

    11. MAC blot film – helps me look fresher for arrival.

  7. Business version (1 laptop bag and 1 laptop backpack)
    – Laptop (only 3 lbs)
    – (i)Phone with headphones
    – Chargers
    – Meds and Toileties (including earplugs)
    – Travel Documens
    – Flashlight with extra batteries

    Personal version (laptop backpack and duffel bag)
    – mp3 player
    – meds and toileties
    – flashlight with extra batteries
    – (i)phone
    – Travel Documents
    – Laptop
    – Chargers and extra cell batteries

  8. Just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoy your blog!! My list would look a lot like yours – probably the only other things that I would add would be lemon scented wipes, “wisps” – the little disposable toothbrushes and noise cancelling headphones.
    For long haul flights, I add a pair of yoga pants to change into so I can sleep.

  9. I have been reading your blog for the past few months and love your insight and tips. I just got back from a big international vacaction and was SOOO glad I threw in my pashmina. I had seen it on your blog a few times and was so glad to have it on the several long flights to/from Africa. Keep up all your great tips!

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