If you've ever had to manage lost luggage during an important business trip, I feel your pain. One of my first experiences with lost luggage also happened to be while I was traveling for my first week-long training and networking event. I didn't bring much in my carry-on and the only clothes I had were the jeans and T-shirt on my back. It was stressful, to say the least.
Luckily, my luggage came in the next day, but I vowed to never travel unprepared again. Over the years, I've learned to carry a few essentials, including my laptop, noise-canceling headphones, and a change of clothes. I save money and travel with confidence.
Along with my favorite travel credit cards that earn me more reward points and miles, here are a few other items that are always in my carry-on.
1. Collapsible water bottle.
Your flight will dehydrate you. While you can't change the low humidity in the cabin, you can change how it affects you. Besides that, who wants to pay each time they get thirsty?
I carry a BPA-free collapsible water bottle with me so that I can stay hydrated and still have enough room in my carry-on for all my other necessities. Fill it up once you pass security and enjoy while up in the air.
2. Heavy-duty moisturizer.
As mentioned previously, flying and traveling can dehydrate and wreak havoc on the skin. That's why I bring moisturizer and face wash to keep my skin in good shape. Washing my face and applying moisturizer before traveling on a long-haul flight helps keep my skin balanced.
3. Snacks and gum.
I've had a few instances where I planned to eat during a layover but got delayed and missed a meal. Now I carry snacks to keep me going, especially if I have to get straight to a meeting from the airport. I also pack gum to help with the air pressure during takeoff and landing. Plus, it also comes in handy when I'm on a short flight and need to stay awake and freshen up before landing.
In addition to non-drowsy pain medication, I like to have medication for an upset stomach as well as a few vitamins. I keep Vitamin C tablets on hand as well as a mint nasal inhaler for a stuffy nose and a lavender nasal inhaler to help me relax.
5. Disinfectant wipes.
From the bins used while passing through security to the armrest and tray tables on your flight, it's no surprise that germs are everywhere. To ease my need for clean and help keep myself healthy, I carry individual packs of antibacterial wipes. I like to wipe down any surfaces that I'll be touching. Plus, it's a conversation starter with my seatmates and/or the flight attendants.
6. Toiletry bag.
Besides items like my toothbrush and toothpaste, I also carry a comb, deodorant, body lotion, sunscreen, and lip balm. My face wash and face moisturizer are also in this bag. Since business meetings often require dress shoes that can cause blisters, I also always carry blister bandages.
7. Eye mask and earplugs.
Because sleeping on a plane can be difficult, I use an eye mask and earplugs to help me forget my environment. If you are new to either item, I recommend sleeping with them while at home to help get used to it. By the time you travel, you'll have conditioned yourself to relax and sleep once you put them on.
8. Compression socks.
Deep vein thrombosis is a serious concern for frequent travelers, but even people who are taking a long-haul flight need to be aware and prepared. That's why I get up every hour, stay hydrated, and wear compression socks so that I can reduce any ankle, leg, or foot swelling from sitting in a confined space for hours at a time.
9. Pen and journal.
When I first started flying and I was afraid of it, I used to write down my destination, seat number, type of plane, the date, the predicted and actual flight departure time, and miles. Doing this calmed my nerves because I could see how far I'd come. Now I do it because it helps me tell my story. I also write the weather, what I did, who I met, and what I ate, to name a few. It's a nice habit to build so that one day you can go back and look at all the trips you've gone on, whether they were personal or for business.
10. Portable charger.
Most newer model planes have USB chargers available so you can charge your phone. Unfortunately, not all airplanes have these yet. In case your airplane doesn't have one, bring your portable charger with you.