Ten things I bring in every carry-on

In two weeks, I’ll be headed to Munich for the very first time! While I’ve done the majority of my planning, including booking flights and hostels, already, one thing I almost always leave until the last minute is packing! And I usually only pack my carry on bag on the morning of my flight. Otherwise I always feel like I’m forgetting something. But even though I always pack last minute, there are some things that I know will be in every single carry on I pack, regardless of flight duration or destination.

  1. A water bottle – Many people don’t realize that you’re actually allowed to bring empty water bottles through security. I always try and bring one with me, because it saves money in the airport (no $4 bottle for me, thanks). A lot of US airports now offer water bottle refilling stations… and even if not, many will at least have old fashioned water fountains to top up! Just make sure you drink it before the security line (or bring an empty one to start) so you don’t have to throw it out. Bring at least one water bottle on the flight to stay hydrated… and always ask for that free cup of water when you can!
  2. Hand sanitizer – So. many. germs. on. planes. I use this any time I’m eating (before and after) and, of course, after I’ve failed to wash my hands in the tiny sink within the 2 seconds the faucet stays on.
  3. Headphones – This is a bit of a no-brainer, but always bring your own headphones. My colleagues like to use noise-cancelling ones, but even just regular ear buds will do. This way you can listen to music, watch movies, or just put them in your ears to avoid awkward conversations with the overly friendly person in the seat next to you.
  4. A pen – Less important traveling domestically within the United States, but anytime I travel internationally I bring a pen with me. This comes in handy when you’re filling out the customs forms for each country you’re visiting. Or you can just use it to play the Sudoku games in the back of the in flight magazine.
  5. Sudafed or another nasal decongestant – I love traveling, but my sinuses hate it. I always take some Sudafed before my flight so that I don’t have to deal with unwanted sinus pressure.
  6. A scarf – Even if it’s 90 degrees out, I always bring a scarf with me to add a little extra control over the temperature. Bonus points for the scarf because it can also double as a blanket (or pillow) if you want to take a nap on your flight.
  7. A portable phone charger – While a lot of newer flights have USB ports built in, I’ve flown on enough to know that this is certainly not a guarantee. And with last minute plane changes a fairly common thing (in my experience), it doesn’t hurt to keep one of these handy!
  8. A regular phone charger – But, just in case there are power outlets on your flight, you should also make sure to bring a regular phone charger! This will also come in handy if you’re stuck in the airport for any length of time… or if you end up draining your battery watching Netflix downloads.
  9. Napkins – Versatile and so so handy, I never fly without napkins and/or tissues in my bag. Not only are they useful for those in-flight snacks, they’re also good for the inevitable runny nose. And the one time I forgot to bring some? My seat neighbor got a bloody nose while the plane was taxiing. Yikes!
  10. A book, magazine, or both! – I once was stuck on a flight from Dublin to New Jersey with nothing but a copy of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell to sustain me. (The in-flight entertainment was one screen that played portions of American Ninja Warrior.) Ever since then, no matter the flight distance, I always bring at least one book to read. The longer the flight = the more reading material.
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If you’re looking for an interesting travel magazine to take with you, I highly recommend airbnbmag!

What are your go-to carry on items? Let me know in the comments… I’m currently accepting recommendations before my very long overnight flight + layover to (and from) Munich!

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