Sunday, December 4, 2011

Travel Must-Haves!

I've been flying all my life, navigating airports and transfers all on my own since I was about 10 years old.  I know my favorite airports, where their best food stops are, and what to bring onto the plane with you.  I've got this down to science, and I'm a fast packer!  Here are my tips for your 'personal item' bag to tuck under the airplane seat.

1.  Check all your other stuff at the counter.  I love to check a bag; you don't have to fight for overhead bin space, which has become a battle since the airlines started charging baggage fees. People shove their way through boarding just to make sure their bag gets on board.  You also don't have to drag it through your connections.  If you don't want to pay a fee, ask at the gate if they will accept planeside checking of your carryon before you even board; if you have time at your next connection, this can help you out immensely.

Oh, and my pet peeve?  People who can't lift their carryon into the overhead compartment unassisted.  Okay, if you're elderly, or you're holding a baby and have to haul their stuff too, I understand.  But my personal rule is, if you can't carry it, don't pack it.  Maybe it's the military part of me talking, but I cringe when I see people overpack.  Pack your bag, then go back and remove a few things that are less important; I guarantee you don't need them.

2.  Carry a good, solid bag.  I always carry a large tote, something I can slip my laptop into if I choose to bring it.  I bought a black leather Coach tote years ago, which I think was from the Men's section; it's my workhorse bag.  (It's much like the leather Coach Bleecker Legacy Weekend Tote they sell now.)

3.  Stay organized.  I keep all of my travel documents in a cute, small tri-fold that I bought at a museum in Montreal years ago.  (A similar one is here; simple but functional!)  It holds my frequent flyer information, parking/shuttle receipts, itinerary, and tickets.  I can grab it out of my bag without having to fumble through a billion things.  I also keep track of my flight on my iPhone; I typically fly Delta, and their app is great; I can figure out what my connection is before the plane even reaches the gate.  It even lets me load my flights into my calendar.

4.  Bring along some entertainment.  Travel is a hurry-up-and-wait game.  I usually travel with my MacBook Pro and Kindle.  (I supplement my Kindle with the purchase of a trashy magazine or two at the airport bookstore, so I can read during takeoff/landing.)  I also bring my headphones to listen to music on my iPhone, which also has plenty of games!

5.  Stay hydrated!  I try to drink a lot of water when I travel (it helps to prevent jet lag), so I usually buy a small bottled water once I am through security, then refill at water fountains along the way.

Bottom line?  Keep it simple.  You're going to be hauling this bag for the day.  Sometimes I pack a snack or two, but other than that, my bag is pretty much limited to these items!  Maybe I'll have a pair of sunglasses, definitely my wallet, and any valuable jewelry I might bring along.  But you don't need to haul anything else.


  1. I personally like a backpack as a carry-on because it allows both hands to be free (which I need when traveling with a toddler). One with a ton of pockets to keep things organized since I always travel with more since I have kids (diapers, wipes, change of clothes, changing pad, kid snacks, drinks, and toys). Sometimes I miss the days of traveling by myself when I could get by with just my purse. We haven't flown since Olivia was born so I have no idea how should would do but Grace is a better world traveler than Dustin ;)

    Have fun in Hawaii!!!!!!

  2. Heather, spending a long weekend with my friend's 9-month-old was an eye opener! Babies don't travel light. But I am sure that there is a science to packing for them, which I hope to learn someday!!!


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