A man sitting in an airport terminal with his feet up on a suitcase, watching an airplane take off.

Packing for a Flight: 10 In-Flight Essentials You Should Never Travel Without

Air travel can be a stressful experience, but being prepared ahead of time can provide a bit of welcomed comfort. Some packable items are important for specific trips, while others are essentials that should always make the packing list no matter where you are going, how long your flight is, or how long you'll be gone. Here are the top ten travel essentials to bring on every flight.

A good night's rest promotes physical and mental health and is necessary in order to function properly throughout the day. Despite it being an important factor in health quality, studies show that 1 in 3 adults don't get enough sleep. Whether it be a busy work schedule, a sleep disorder, or stress, it can be difficult to get the sleep that is needed. Here are 7 tips on to help improve sleep for more high-quality rest.


1. Water Bottle

Airplane cabins circulate high altitude air that is pulled in from the outside. This air typically has lower humidity levels causing nose, throat, and skin dryness. Traveling can also induce stress as travelers worry about catching flights, managing luggage across the airport, or standing in long lines - making it difficult to remember to stop by a water fountain.

TSA restricts the amount of liquid that can be brought through security, and some airports have recently banned the sale of plastic water bottles, so it is best to bring an empty and reusable water bottle that can be filled after going through security. It is also a good idea to hydrate as much as possible before leaving for the airport.


2. Snacks

With the hustle and bustle of running to catch flights and waiting in line, it can be difficult to find the time to stop and eat. Though many airlines provide snacks, it is usually a minimal amount of food. Packing snacks to bring along ensures that you have access to food and can fuel up when needed, keeping your hunger in check. If you don't end up eating your snacks while traveling, you can always save them to eat at your destination.


3. Toiletries

Bringing along a set of toiletries to freshen up can make a world of difference, especially on a long flight, or when flights have to be rearranged. Make sure to bring a toothbrush and toothpaste in case of an overnight layover, as well as lip balm and moisturizer to help keep your skin and lips hydrated. Hand sanitizer can be especially nice in close and enclosed spaces. Finally, if you wear contacts it can be nice to switch to your favorite pair of glasses if your eyes begin to feel tired, irritated, or dry from the airplane air.


4. Entertainment

Traveling by flight includes a lot of time spent waiting. Bringing something to entertain yourself can improve your mood by keeping your attention away from stressors or boredom. Entertainment can range from a book or Kindle to a downloaded movie on a tablet, or maybe even the entire discography of your favorite musician. Some flights do provide seat-back entertainment systems, or free movies or to watch on a laptop, tablet, or phone, with the download of the airline's app. Wi-Fi can also be purchased from select airlines on some flights, though this can be an expensive option.


5. Sunglasses

The sunshine above the clouds can be bright, and UV rays can still penetrate the window. Sunglasses can help protect your eyes from being damaged if you wish to keep the window open and enjoy the view. While some might select sleeping masks for comfort, others may choose to use sunglasses to simulate dim light/darkness, making it easier to sleep on the plane.


6. Headphones

Headphones are an in-flight essential, especially for those that bring technology to accompany them and keep them occupied. Noise-canceling headphones can provide relief from the white noise of the plane if you are trying to sleep. One important thing to note with the changing of headphone technology is ensuring you bring the correct adaptors and chargers when needed.


7. Chargers

An important essential to pack for the entire traveling experience is a charger (or chargers) for electronic devices. Using devices at the airport or on the plane can drain batteries more quickly than you realize. Be sure to bring chargers in carry-on bags so you have access to them when needed. Many airports and a number of planes have charging stations and outlets for people to plug into. In addition to chargers, it may also be helpful to bring any adapters you may anticipate needing, including audio port adapters.


8. Medication

Checked bags can get lost in the hold-and-transfer process, sometimes taking a few days to be found and returned. Layovers and cancelations can also dramatically influence a traveling schedule, making it difficult to know exactly when you will have access to your luggage again. It is best to bring prescription medications in a carry-on to ensure that you have access to them at all times. It can also be helpful to bring along a few other basic medications such as Advil, Tums, or Dramamine. If you wear contact lenses, bringing your lens case, solution, and a spare pair of your prescription glasses could make a world of difference for tired eyes, especially if you end up with a long or overnight layover.


9. Sweatshirt or Jacket

Airports and planes are intentionally kept in cooler conditions to keep the environment pleasant. For planes specifically, the heat generated from the body temperature of passengers can raise the internal temperature of the plane significantly. The cabins are purposefully kept at lower temperatures to counteract the rise in temperature from the passengers. Bring along another layer of some kind; a sweatshirt, jacket, scarf, or blanket. If you don't need it, you can always use it as a pillow or cushion.


10. Pen and Paper

Even in the digital age, travel essentials still include pen and paper, as you never know when your electronics might die. You may need to write a note to yourself, or record a number to remember. Additionally, carrying a pen ensures that when you need to fill out luggage tags or customs forms, you aren't waiting to borrow or use one.