After 5 years of frequent business traveling and much trial and error, I narrowed down my in flight goals to not getting sick, catching up on reading and writing, and avoiding the airplane bathroom at all costs. I’ve never been able to sleep on a plane, in five years I can count on one hand the amount of naps taken while flying so my tips lean toward avoiding boredom, staying healthy, and being comfortable.
You may be surprised to see I don’t recommend an inflight skincare routine or sheet mask selfie while flying. This is because it’s not necessary and the inside of an airplane is one of the dirtiest, most unsanitary places to be touching your face. (Unless you have a 20+ hour flight and then only after completely sanitizing your seat area with antibacterial wipes.) Lip balm is the only skincare item I reapply during a flight.
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- Use as many layers of skincare as possible and the heaviest moisturizer that you have before you head for the airport. If you have a window seat and you like to enjoy the view, you definitely need to wear sunscreen.
- If you are eating at the airport and you have the ability to move between terminals, the International terminals and/or the largest terminal for which an airline has its hub typically have the best food options. I don’t recommend eating Mexican food or anything adventurous before a flight to avoid tummy trouble. But make sure you are full before boarding, airplane food is still horrible.
- Use the bathroom right before getting in line to board. You don’t want to be the annoying passenger that causes an aisle traffic jam because they need to go against the flow to use the bathroom before take off.
- If your flight is several hours or more I highly recommend walking the airport instead of sitting and waiting. Wear shoes that will allow strolling and/or rushing to a last minute gate change. Unless you have PreCheck, do not wear flip flops through security. It’s unsanitary to walk barefoot through the airport.
- Bring a refillable water bottle and save on bottled water. Many airports now have a filtered water station for this. S’well makes some of the prettiest bottles in many sizes, I always have mine with me. If you travel often, keep an empty one in your bag so you never forget it.
- Usually you get one checked bag and one personal item to bring. I don’t like to bring my purse or a cutesy little backpack as they will be shoved under the seat with my shoes on them and they don’t have enough space for what I want to have with me at all times. This is a case of function over form. Use the largest backpack you can safely carry around. I have one that has way too many compartments so I’ll be streamlining to something like this: Professional Slim Laptop Backpack.
- Since I pack an empty purse in my luggage, I carry a wristlet wallet in my backpack. I like the wrist strap so I can “wear it” from the check in counter to security without continuously removing it and putting it back.
Essential Items In Your Backpack
- You never know what the temperature will be like on the flight. I’ve been cold more than anything but you need to plan for any situation. I never travel without my sweater wrap, it can be rolled up like a pillow or used like a blanket and it’s easy to pack or wear to the airport. I’ve had mine for years, it’s no longer available but these are similar. Cardigan Poncho Cape, Lightweight Cashmere Scarf, or Vince Camuto Poncho.
- One of the most important items to bring is antibacterial wipes. I wipe down everything that I will come in contact with: window shade, seat belt, tray, arm rest, bathroom door handle, etc. Never touch anything that is in the seatback pocket, it’s one of the dirtiest areas on the plane.
- I’ve been delayed enough to know the importance of always having healthy snacks with me. Airport food has come a long way but still has room for improvement. My favorite portable snacks are nuts, RXBARS especially chocolate-sea salt, and nut butters in packets. Bringing your own is much cheaper than at the airport shops. Please be mindful of bringing pungent items, a lady once peeled a hardboiled egg next to me and that is a scent that should not be shared in close quarters.
- Have a small medicine bag with essential items like pain reliever, breath mints, disposable tooth brushes, allergy meds, zinc cough drops, Vitamin C or Emergen-C packets, Kleenex (trust me they don’t give out tissue and the drink napkins are rough), lip balm, tea bag, feminine products, and any other medication you typically need. These can all go in a ziplock bag or a makeup bag.
- An item that needs to go in your medicine bag but is so important it warrants it’s own paragraph is EarPlanes ear plugs. If you’ve ever flown with a head cold or inner ear problems and know the pain of pressure while descending, these are a life saver. You never know when sinus issues can flare up so it’s best to be prepared and always have these. I learned this trick after almost losing my hearing while flying with a sinus infection.
- I keep a small makeup bag with lip products, concealer, and ponytail holders in case I need to refresh my makeup once I’ve landed. You can also pack these in your medicine bag.
- A device pre–loaded with a free Kindle app, a music playlist, podcasts, and any movies or tv shows you’ve been wanting to watch. Most people know how to do this but on occasion I’ll see a novice trying to download in the airport or on the plane. You just won’t be able to with the wifi available so do this well in advance at home. Some suggestions are Spotify for music and besides purchasing from iTunes you can download from Netflix and Amazon Prime.
- You’ll be amazed at how much productive work you can get done on a flight. I always bring my journal and a pen for brain dumping if I’m feeling creative. I also take advantage of editing photos during this time.
- My hubby loves his Bose headphones for travel, truth be told they are expensive but so worth it for drowning out a screaming baby behind you and hearing music as it was meant to be heard. Unless hubby is with me and will store them in his bag, I don’t have room for bulky headphones…and I’m not an audio snob so regular headphones are fine with me.
- If you have a premium seat you might have a way to charge your devices inflight. If not, bring a backup portable charger or a backpack with this feature built in. Don’t forget to put your phone in low battery mode.
These are all the items I stuff in my backpack. I’ll show you what to bring in your carry on next time. If there is the possibility of your carry on being stowed in cargo, you’ll want to add one change of clothes into your backpack….you never know!