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These are more than just wants for your carry-on—at this point they’re needs. First and foremost for your health, then for your safety, and then, of course, your comfort.

Mask(s), Wipes, and Hand Sanitizer

Post-pandemic, airlines have made a big to-do about how they’re cleaning their planes (what did they do before?!!), but it can’t hurt to go above and beyond. Masks are a must—you won’t be able to board without one and, as of press time, they’re mandatory at airports—so we suggest taking several. KN95 or N95 masks for the flights, and ASTM-certified masks for when you’re at your destination.

The airport and airplane are giant Petri dishes of whatever’s going around—and we all know there’s plenty of that. Hand sanitizer is a must before you eat anything with your hands, which is very common on a flight, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wiping down your immediate area when you sit down for your flight. That includes the seatbelt buckle, armrests, window, and tray table (all of it). Offer a wipe to your seatmates; they’ll probably thank you!

Proper Documentation

All adults ages 18 and over need to have a property government-issued ID—this might seem like a given, but you’d be surprised how many teens don’t think about it. Nowadays with even more security concerns, it’s not a bad idea for kids to carry their school ID badges with them as well. Of course, international travel always requires a passport, no matter what the age.

Also, note that for domestic travel purposes, a driver’s license is not enough: you will need to use either a passport or a REAL ID driver’s license. Please check your state government websites for information on how to obtain yours, usually at your local DOT office.

Essential Meds and Toiletries

You and your prescription medications need to travel together. Lost luggage is not as common as people thing, but it’s also not a rare occurrence, meaning you need to have those important pills (in their original packaging) with you on the plane. For the same reason, you’ll want to take a small stash of toiletries like a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant.

Change of Clothes

This is a corollary to the “Essential Meds and Toiletries” paragraph. If you can’t fit an entire change into your carry-on, at the very least pop in a change of underclothes, socks, and a shirt.


Who wants to be at the mercy of airplane-issued earbuds and seatback pocket magazines? If you poke around the Internet you’ll realize those “packaged” earbuds don’t necessarily mean they’re brand new, and never mind what goes on inside that seat pocket in front of you. Depend instead on your own earbuds and your own reading material—we recommend an e-reader or tablet, which you can load up with favorite magazines and books without the need for Wi-Fi.

Snacks and Water

Those über salty snacks you get onboard cause nothing but bloat—and who needs that? Better to pack your own at home so you don’t have to bother with the overpriced offerings at the airport and bring your own water collapsible water bottle to fill up at the fountain after you pass security. Barring that, spring for that over-priced bottle at the sundry store, because anything is better than drinking that “free” cup of water they offer you on a plane. Why? Consider the water used for drinking on commercial flights comes from tanks that aren’t always properly sterilized. We won’t elaborate.

Emergency Evacuation Membership

The maxim is: it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. No one wants to think about accidents or medical emergencies when they’re off on vacation, but unfortunately, things do happen. Whether you’re traveling near or far, it’s best to be prepared.


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