10 Essential Items to Pack for the Plane

See recent posts by Annie Kingston

Jason Pratt/Flickr

Jason Pratt/Flickr

Packing for a flight is always stressful, considering you have a very limited amount of baggage space, even if you pay up for some extra. Then there's the eternal struggle about what to have readily accessible in the cabin with you for your flight, whether that's something to entertain you, snacks, or other items. After spending four years working as a flight attendant, thirty years traveling as a passenger, and having a seat on more than 500 hundred flights, I like to think I've learned a thing or two about valuable items that you should bring onboard. Here are my recommendations for 10 essential items that you should always pack for the plane. 

1. Pashmina Scarf

There’s nothing worse than flying home from a hot destination, the sun still burning your skin, and realizing just after take off, that you’re going to be cold and uncomfortable for the duration of the flight. Chances are, you’re wearing something that was appropriate for where you’re coming from, not where you’re going, and you’ve unwittingly chosen the coldest seat onboard: the window seat. This is exactly when having a big, comfy scarf comes in handy. If need be, it can double as a blanket, act as a substitute sweater, and provide some added comfort between you and your seat. I recommend a nice, silky pashmina shawl by Achilea to keep you warm and stylish onboard. It comes in over forty bright colors and rolls up easily to fit into your carry-on bag or purse. Or better yet — save room and wear it instead. 

2. Sleep Master Sleep Mask

I’ve been told that my hidden superpower is the ability to fall asleep almost instantly on planes. Perhaps my secret weapon is my trusty Sleep Master eye mask. I’ve tried dozens of different ones over the years, and the Sleep Master is easily the most comfortable and effective mask on the market thanks to its thoughtful design. This life-changing mask not only covers your eyes, but wraps entirely around your head to cover your ears too, leaving virtually no gaps for the light to leak in. Other added features include being made out of soft, lightweight satin for lasting comfort, adjustable straps so that it’ll fit your head perfectly, and even built-in sound muffling capabilities to help lull you to sleep.

3. Bose SoundTrue In-Ear Headphones

If you’re not the type of audiophile who can tell the difference between the true notes of a deep bass and the pure ring of a high note, then I’d like to introduce you to the Bose SoundTrue In-Ear Headphones. I’ve carried around my own pair of Bose for the past three years and eagerly recommend them to anyone searching for a new set of headphones. Because unlike the bulky over-the-ear kind, these little ear-pods can be easily tossed into your pocket and whipped out when you’re ready to listen to Spotify or an audiobook. Significantly cheaper than the noise-cancelling variety, the Bose SoundTrue in-ear headphones still provide a deep, clear sound thanks to snug buds that conform to the inner shape of your ear.

4. Nature’s Bounty Melatonin – 3mg

Step up your sleep game and switch from Tylenol PM to Nature’s Bounty melatonin, and your body will be grateful that you did. Unlike taking doctor prescribed sleeping pills or Tylenol PM, Melatonin helps to release the chemical that your brain naturally releases when it’s tired and taking them won’t leave you feeling groggy and lethargic hours later. Just pop a couple of these quick-dissolve all natural supplements upon boarding (I recommend taking about six mg when on the tarmac, before take off) and you’re good to go. The key part of buying three mg pills instead of 10 mg is that you can dose yourself accordingly, depending on the length of your flight. 

5. MIRA Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottle

We’ve certainly come a long way since Nalgene dominated the water bottle industry. Unlike its predecessor, the MIRA stainless steel vacuum insulated water bottle works like magic when it comes to keeping your hot drinks hot (for up to 12 hours) and your cold drinks cold (for up to 24!). Thanks to its specially designed double walled vacuum-sealed exterior, these trendy bottles are travel-friendly, spill-proof, and stay free from condensation. Keep in mind that you aren’t allowed to bring a water bottle filled with liquid through airport security, but having an empty reusable water bottle handy is still a valuable asset on the other side. Simply fill it up after security and bring it on board. That way, you don’t have to depend on the flight attendants and their elusive drink carts to stay hydrated.  

6. Kindle Paperwhite E-reader by Amazon

As a ferocious reader and constant traveler, I think my favorite device of all time is Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite E-reader. No, not the newer, seemingly advanced Kindle Fire — which has a color screen instead of the Paperwhite’s black-and-white e-ink display. I’ve tried to gift the Kindle Fire many times, and each time it ends up a glorified paperweight rather than an integral device on one’s bedside table. Really, the thing that sets the Kindle Paperwhite E-reader apart is its singular focus on doing one thing and one thing well — being a digital display for your entire library. Some of its most valuable features include an adjustable, built-in backlight so that you can read both in broad daylight or at night, and its impressive battery life. In a world when we’re so used to our phones running out of battery by the end of the day, the Kindle reliably provides up to three weeks of use on a single charge. Just charge it once before your trip, download the next book on your list and you’ll be ready to read for the entire flight.

7. RavPower Portable Battery Pack

Sure, on the surface, a battery pack can feel unnecessary and look unsexy. But just wait until you touch down at your destination, go to double check the address of your hotel, and realize that your phone is almost dead from listening to podcasts the entire flight. That’s when you’ll come to appreciate just how much of a life saver an extra battery pack is, especially since they tend to charge your devices much faster than the in-seat USB portal, not to mention you can take them off the plane with you. The newest version of the RavPower portable battery pack provides lots of power packed into a small device. It has the capacity to charge an iPhone 7 Plus up to 2.1 times, a Galaxy S8 up to two times, and an iPad mini 4 about 1.2 times. It also has dual USB ports, in case you need to help out a friend. The charger pack also comes with two Micro USB Charging Cables, a carry pouch, and a complimentary 18-month warranty.

8. Papermate InkJoy Ball Point Pen

On almost every international flight, it’s safe to say that the flight attendant will come through the cabin handing out customs forms, and more often than not, passengers don’t have anything to fill them out with. Instead of waiting patiently for your seat buddy (who, really, was just the stranger beside you until you realized that you needed to borrow his/her pen) to finish their forms, come prepared and bring your own. It’s really as easy as taking the pen off the desk of the you hotel you just stayed at, but if given time to choose, we suggest the Papermate InkJoy Ball Point Pen. Plus, a ball point pen won’t leak and explode all over your fingertips at 35,000 feet!

9. The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream

Frequent flyers know that traveling can be very hard on your body. If you don’t stay hydrated inside and out, flying can really take a toll on your system. That’s why the tried, tested, and true The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream is my go-to in-flight beauty product. It’s lightweight, silky-smooth, and diligently keeps your skin feeling protected from the pressurized cabin air. Affordable, effective, and cherished by consumers for over forty years, it’s no wonder why this cream is one of the Body Shop’s best-selling products worldwide. 

10. Kind Healthy Grain Granola Bars

Part of the problem that most people have with flying, is that from the time the doors close to the time they open again, very little of the experience is within your control. You don’t get to choose who sits beside you, if the plane departs on time, what the cabin temperature is, or when you’re served your in-flight meal. That’s why packing just a few essential snacks with you will make you feel more at ease and much less hangry. We recommend packing Kind’s Healthy Grain Granola Bars. They’re jam packed with heart-healthy whole grains and feature surprisingly tasty flavors like maple pumpkin seeds with sea salt or double dark chocolate chunk. 

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