13 Carry-On Essentials for Frequent Flyers

Monday, January 23, 2017

As illustrious as it may seem to be jet setting across the world, dining in happening spots, discovering cultures and schmoozing with clients while your bed is all made with room service, business travelers and frequent flyers will often differ. We are still an advocate of short term travel: read 5 reasons why. However, the logistics are often overlooked: bookings, security checks, paper trails, rentals, and probably most importantly, living out of a suitcase.

Speaking of which, possibly one of the most important things is how to pack your hand luggage on those long trips. Bearing in mind the need to be productive (check out our tips of what to do with your phone without wifi) as well as factoring in the 'just in case' syndrome. 

Here are 12 things to always pack in your carry-on, with a 13th item as the actual carry-on!



Laptop and phone cables
Sure, the may be wirey and bulky, but smartly rolled up and they can save you the hassle of a phone dying, or worse yet, your checked in bag getting lost - with your laptop wires in it.

Portable wifi
Forget paying for wifi wherever you go. While many cafes will have free wifi and Facebook now offers a service to actually find free wifi signals in the area, its always a good idea to carry your own. Case in point: Verizon's Jetpack 4G LTE Mifi.

Reusable filtration bottles
Everyone knows water bottles not only add up in cost, but also in waste. While it is a notch better to have your own bottle, what's even better is to invest in a water bottle with a filter. There are tons out there that vary in price from $19.99 to the low $100s depending on sophistication. Pick one that works; most remove 99% of tap water contaminants and save both waste and money in the long run.

Only essential toiletries and grooming products
Every hotel will have shampoo, soap, conditioner and lotion, and even hair dryers - so skip on those. Most will also be able to provide you with feminine hygiene, stain removers, tooth brushes and razors. So really only pack your essentials that you cannot live without: cologne, night cream, eye cream, or whatever else. And keeping them under 3.4 liquid ounces (100 mL). 

Essential personal care items
Airports hike the prices of simple Tylenols and Advils, so make a small ziploc bag or cute medicine kit of your trusted pain relievers, vitamins, cough drops, and while you're at it, band aids (and for those who are single and saving time for fun, condoms). 

Freshness essentials
With the last two points, the one thing you should always carry is pocket sized mouthwash, if not along with a handy toothbrush and paste. Nothing smells worse than a sleepy mouth, or a caffeinated one. And it works wonders for your mood to have fresh breadth too. Throw in some gum too (which again is alarmingly overpriced at airports). 



Caffeine for free
Everyone seems addicted to caffeine, to the point that most don't wince as much as security lines when the line for coffee at every store or airport is virtually twice as long. Save time and money by buying instant coffee packets beforehand (even Starbucks has them), converting any cup of (free) hot water into an instant-java coffee. Easy.

Snacks on the go
Especially for those with dietary restrictions, keep small and sensibly sized portions of nuts, energy bars, dry fruits, and if needed, a fresh fruit or two. For more prepared types, fill up on small sandwiches and trail mixes. All these can be prepared from home to avoid the plain plane tasting ones. Just remember to keep your snacks odor-free and zipped tightly!

High quality audio
It really is a brand game when it comes to headphones or earbuds for music to wind down, listening to podcasts, or even taking a call. Pick your favorite and most reliable, and stick to it. Don't forget back up batteries or chargers if they are required.

Extra pair of work and comfy clothing
Both are required: the work clothing for a flight delay where you have to go to work right off the plane, and comfy clothing for the opposite - in case you are stuck. Don't forget, extra underwear is always essential. Insider's tip: rolling these makes them take up less room.

One extra pair of shoes
This is more preparatory or precautionary, but if you aren't traveling in your best shoes, pack them neatly; if you are, then pack a pair of comfy multi-purpose ones. Nothing is as annoying as not having a comfy pair of shoes to wander in or to use in case of a flight delay or luggage loss; or on the contrary, nothing is as loathsome as having to walk to dinner in the rain with your work shoes.

Sleepytime swag
Everyone loves their sleep. If you are gifted with sleeping anywhere easily, terrific! If not, bring your sleep time essential with you - a small blanket, a pillow, or whatever you need to snooze better. And as candid advice, train yourself over time to operate operation shut-eye without it!

Smart and light luggage
Now how are you going to fit all that into a bag without going overweight? Check out the Travel Channel's list of business traveler friendly bags. And probably most importantly invest in a bag that looks sharp and acts ever smarter (i.e. fits a lot without bulging or weighing it down).


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