The semester is officially over, which means I have two months before the start of my study abroad trip in Oxford, England. How exciting is that? What I’m not so excited about, however, is the long flight. The flight to London is about eight hours, so I’ll be spending a decent amount of time on airplanes this summer. Long flights can be difficult, to say the least, but through my previous travel experiences, I’ve discovered some in-flight essentials that make those long flights just a little more bearable.
When you fly, you’re allowed to take two non-checked bags onto the plane: a carry-on bag and a personal bag. In my carry-on bag, I like to pack the things that I might need during the flight or in the airport (changes of clothes) and the things that are too valuable or fragile to pack in a checked bag that may or may not get lost (camera, laptop, etc.). This is the bag I put in the overhead compartment during the flight. In my personal bag, I pack everything that I know I’ll need during the flight and want easy access to.
For this bag, I like to use either a backpack or a large tote bag. This one from Forever 21 is great because it snaps closed, and the sides unzip to create more space.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of in-flight essentials is entertainment. I have to have things to occupy me for those hours, because I have a hard time sleeping on planes. If the flight is long and the plane is big, there will probably be screens on the backs of the chairs so you can watch movies. I also like to bring several magazines and books to read and a journal to write in. Travel journaling is a great way to document memories from your trip. Finally, I prefer to have an iPad in my personal bag, rather than a laptop. iPads are much less cumbersome and are great for downloading books, magazines, movies, or television episodes.
In my experience, airplanes tend to be cold, so I always bring a cozy sweater or cardigan (mine is from Urban Outfitters). This can be worn onto the plane to maximize bag space. Next, I’ll bring my bag of liquids. TSA has very specific rules of how to pack liquids, which you can check out on their website. In this bag, I pack my contact solution, moisturizer, chapstick, makeup, etc. I also take face wipes just in case my skin starts to feel gross. Depending on the airline, you may be able to take prepackaged snacks, so I usually pack a couple granola bars. Additionally, I bring both earbuds and over-the-ear headphones. I prefer over-the-ear headphones, but after a few hours, they begin to hurt my head, and they’re also not very conducive for sleeping. That’s where the earbuds come in.
Obviously, a wallet and a passport are necessities. In my wallet, I’ll have some cash (just in case I need to pay a cab driver), my insurance card, and my debit cards. It’s also good to make copies of your insurance card and your passport just in case you lose them, and put the copies in a different bag. Lastly, I like to have sunglasses in my bag for when I get off of the plane.
Not pictured: chargers, neck pillow, tea
Electronics chargers are pretty self-explanatory. No one wants to run out of things to do on the flight. Neck pillows are a must. Space is limited on planes, and the chairs don’t recline very far, so neck pillows do wonders for naps. My last airplane essential is tea. Airport food is expensive. If you bring your own tea bags, you can get a free cup of hot water during a layover and make your own tea instead of buying coffee. Then you can use the money you would have spent on that for your actual trip.