During our 12 trips in 12 months, hubby and I have gotten pretty good at knowing what we love to pack. Just between our first four trips alone, we've been on THIRTEEN flights together. We've really acquired quite the list of our travel must-haves - below you'll find our running list of the top favorites.
- Power bank - Remember that time we watched eight back-to-back episodes of Game of Thrones on an iPad during our flight home from Athens and that time we took a twelve-hour tour of the country of Iceland, taking photos almost the entire time? Anytime we've completely drained our batteries, we reach for our teeny-tiny power bank to charge our electronics back up. It's only right to start our list of must-haves off with this literal powerhouse.
- TSA Precheck - Oh my gosh. I cannot say enough about this. My mom and I each made an appointment to get our TSA Precheck and it was the most painless process ever. Less than $100 and lasts five years, I think this is worth every penny - considering the only thing I hate about airports are long, stressful- and often grumpy - security lines. (If Brett and I keep traveling internationally, I'm definitely going to consider getting the Global Entry as well.) And, for some reason, because I'm TSA Prechecked, Brett automatically gets TSA Precheck as well when we check in together for our flights. I don't know how, but it's a lovely perk. Being in the TSA Prechecked line also helps when I'm trying to bring a cooler full of food with me...but more on that later.
- iPad - duh. Mine's full of borrowed library titles, Kindle books (I scour Reese Witherspoon's book club for recommendations), my Spotify rain station (seriously the best for tuning out airplane noise), and Sex and the City. Brett's is full of basketball games, Game of Thrones, and science reads. Like I said before, a flight home from Greece once flew by because we were so engrossed in eight back-to-back episodes of Game of Thrones. Brett keeps his iPad in his super nifty man-case with all of his other plane essentials (like earphones and headphone splitter); mine lives in my go-to purse.
- TSA-compliant toiletry bag - in high school, my mom pretty much bought each of us three girls the entire Jon Hart collection. I didn't really appreciate it too much at the time, but now that I'm an adult and traveling, all of my precious duffels and carry-ons are the equivalent of GOLD. Easily my favorite piece would be my Airport Chico - instead of using a gross, disposable quart-sized bag for each trip, I reuse my monogrammed, clear pouch. Like, Brett is totally getting one for Christmas. But, if really pushed, I'd have to also mention that I love my go-to carry-on bag (this one stays under my seat and my cooler goes up top), my first aid kit, and my undies bag. (Side note: if I'm not bringing a cooler, I use this bag as my overhead compartment bag. But if I'm road tripping, I use my duffel.)
- Massage ball - I can't find a direct link but years ago I purchased a small, spiky massage ball at a yoga studio and it is one of my favorite things to keep in my carry-on. About the size of a tennis ball, it takes up very little room, but I use it for stretching after a long flight, relieving any back/shoulder tension, and for working out any restless leg issues while in the air. (Similarly, a tennis ball has worked well for me in the past as well - here's why.) I keep it in my favorite little bag that holds my earphones, tea bags, power bank, chapstick, moisturizer, pens, socks, phone, and passport/ID.
- Socks - hi, my feet get cold. So along with the rest of the traveling Memaws, I need socks. My favorites are this pair, which my sisters and I all got for Christmas. Pricey, but so worth it. I will never be on a plane without them.
- White noise machine - Brett and I are essentially babies and unable to sleep without white noise, so this baby is a high priority for us to pack. And I know, I know - "But Haley! They have an APP for this!" Yes, I'm aware. But the app doesn't fill up the room, and we're snobs who need that. If Brett has a cold room with loud white noise, he can sleep well. It's fairly lightweight and tiny, so in our suitcases it goes.
Eye mask - We only bring this sucker in case of emergencies. Brett is unable to sleep if there's even a shred of light in the room - the guy even has our printer blacked out...and it's in a separate room. Assuming the place we're staying is suitable for Brett's sleeping needs is just dangerous, so I bring along this magical mask. I had read somewhere that it was highly recommended (the reviews are pretty incredible) for lighter sleepers that need blackened rooms. With this baby, Brett is out like a light.
- Travel hair straightener - my hair is pretty naturally straight, but for times on trips I want my thick, thick hair to be a bit more sleek, this guy is the best. It's tiny, light, and powerful. Plus, it's so inexpensive. Totally worth to keep in your toiletry bag. Just saying.
- First aid kit - Yes, I know. You're like, "Of course." But Brett and I essentially bring a small pharmacy packed in one of my favorite toiletry bags. It lives under our sink so that we can easily grab-and-go. Between his, ahem, adventurous eating, my accident-prone self, and the fact we walk all over kingdom come on our trips (no time for naps, y'all), we need quite the spread. Tummy meds, ibuprofen, bandages of all sizes, itchy eye drops, sore throat lozenges, etc. This thing is jam packed. And don't forget the Benedryl - I've been known to shamelessly pop one of these bad boys before a transatlantic flight. I SAID NO SHAME.
- Travel books - Again, you're probably like, "NO SHOCKER HERE, SHERLOCK." But Brett and I get travel books used on Amazon for our upcoming trips. I use them to plan, Brett reads them on the plane ride over there, and we'll reference them while we're there. We do this for every trip, so now we have quite the lovely collection of places we've been together. The bookshelf of travel books is definitely one of our favorite nooks in our home as it is a curation of all our adventures.
- Skincare samples - I have the worst luck with toiletries getting goopy and messy on trips. And my skin royally freaks out during plane travel. Thankfully my favorite skincare line Paula's Choice sells samples for essentially every single one of her products. Before a trip, I'll buy a sample packet of every item I need for every day we're there.
- Insulated water bottle - you know, the kind that keeps things hot/cold for a ridiculous amount of time. Once through security, I fill it up with cold water, or go on the hunt for some hot water (because my carryon totally as at least a dozen tea bags at this point). That way during my flight, I can keep it full of iced water or hot tea (and I particularly love this Kitchn article about in-flight tea). While on our trip, I usually keep it full of water and in my favorite purse (with my iPad, powerbank, camera...this guy fits it ALL). My favorite water bottle is a hot pink bottle that my precious friend gave me for my tea...but I must admit I'm also quite smitten with the insulated tumbler my sister got us for our Punta Cana trip and always pack that as well. Something about having the cup and bottle both with me keeps my water intake pretty high.
- Snacks - I've said it before, and I'll say it again. We bring a lot of food. Between my picky eating and our preference of not blowing our budget on airport food (because HI we're trying to go on twelve trips here!), we pack my carryon cooler full. If we have a morning flight, I'll have several cereal cups and clementines in there for Brett so that he just has to grab some milk once we're through security. I'll bring muffins and grapes for myself. If it's a longer day of traveling, we'll also bring bagged salad (read the article here about how you cant totally bring this through security), turkey sandwich stuff (with my TSA-approved mayo packets), jerky, sliced cheese, crackers, nuts, dried fruit, white cheddar popcorn, and Pringles. One time we brought leftover pizza and it was just DELIGHTFUL. I've been known to bring bean and cheese tacos, veggies + hummus, apples + caramel, peanut butter - really I've tried it all. TSA loves me - I've even received a marriage proposal from a TSA guy, once he saw my cooler full of TSA-approved food. Like, good food. That particular flight we had a full spread of cheeses, crackers, strawberry preserve packets, apples, and salami. Now that was a true gem - and so was the proposal.
- Travel Tea Kettle - Hi, I love tea. Specifically hot tea. This collapsible tea kettle takes up the smallest amount of space and once we reach our destination, I can enjoy a steaming cup in my previously-mentioned insulated cup or water bottle. Brett is also a coffee snob (serious perks of marrying a chemistry major, y'all) and enjoys using it for his pour-over-whatever. Or, in the rare instances we land at a really strange hour (like, our midnight arrival in Iceland), we can make oatmeal, mac and cheese, or rice if we happen to have some of those cups with us and if finding food outside of our accommodations just seems too daunting/exhausting/impossible.
Take the items listed above, throw in Brett's favorite carryon, my favorite neck pillow, a dozen hot tea packets, and some all-black Lululemon, you will have a pretty good summary of what's with us on an airplane. Now I just need to figure out how to incorporate some margaritas into our packing game - I'd be pretty set after that.