I have lived in New York City for 15 years now, and I believe I’ve taken as many long haul trips– mostly to home (the Philippines). I have around 4 other international trips involving other destinations, and the others were a smattering of trips I’m too lazy to try and count right now. But through the years, I’ve refined and narrowed down the things to bring and do while spending long hours between destinations, and have defined a routine as well as my “must pack essentials” for my carry on.
I’ve seen similar lists and don’t mean to knock anyone’s down, but I’ve found some suggestions helpful and hope that mine would be helpful for someone as well. Remember that these are just suggestions and not commercial endorsements. I actually use and buy the products mentioned.
Here are the things I always travel with, more so for the long haul flights home. It’s a pretty basic list which I have gathered simply out of habit and not necessity. As long as I leave the house armed with the following in my carry on luggage, I’ll survive the trip, come what may.
1. My go-to medication plus a bandaid or two. I don’t travel with a full first aid kit.. not even a mini one. Allergy meds and my pain reliever of choice are a lifesaver, more so since I usually end up with very little, if not no sleep at all, the night before a trip home. (Which means a major headache during the trip.) Not all international airports like Seoul Incheon International will have a pharmacy in site– and that is such a relief when you forget your painkiller of choice. I have also had at least one bad experience of being trapped inside an airplane with an allergen (lady next to me was sniffing and sneezing, too) and the handy allergy meds in my purse helped alleviate the discomfort. Allergy meds are also essential if you are traveling with a younger child who reacts to food occasionally like my 11-year-old. That is the reason I always have one tablet in my wallet and we always have the same in the car. (The Pinay New Yorker takes Claritin and Aleve.)
2. My face cleaning and moisturizing regimen in travel size portions in one ziploc bag or vanity case. I don’t travel fully made up but I hate leaving my face with any layer of make up overnight, even if my evening is virtual as its spent on the plane. I usually take everything off before I hit la-la land and then reapply an hour before landing. This will allow your skin to breathe and rest. Travel is not an excuse to torture it with extended wear! If I come on board with just powder and no foundation, I would usually put on a layer of moisturizer before I sleep to refresh my skin. No, I don’t do facial sprays. My routine has always been to cleanse and then moisturize. Whether your moisturizer is Oil of Olay, baby oil or a more complicated concoction, I find that it helps me to sleep better and arrive well rested at my destination. (The Pinay New Yorker uses a medley of products from The Body Shop.)
3. Travel size your toiletries. No. 2 would require you to grab those travel set containers. Most dollar stores, pharmacies and superstores carry them, and you can even customize your kits from specialty stores like Muji and Beabi. I got this nice set from one of the pharmacies here which has proved to be very versatile because of the choices that the varied sized containers give you. Try not to keep buying travel size toiletries every time you travel. If you do, buy the brands and products you use so you can refill them from your regular sized supplies at home when they run out. I find though that most travel size items are still a tad too much for overnights or trip size portions. They can be bulky and difficult to fit in your purse even if they comply with the 3 ounce requirement.
Do make sure to fill them up or refill them a day or so before your trip because they can be time-consuming and messy if done in a rush. Fill them to the lid, and wrap the containers containing thinner liquids like your toner in plastic wrap if you have experienced spillage caused by cabin pressure before.
4. Always carry wipes and tissues and a pocket sized sanitizer to clean up messes or when you just have to sanitize. Accidents do happen on board, during or after meals. While the cabin crew will assist, you would want to be ready.
5. Accessories to keep you comfy and warm. Don’t shoot me but I don’t travel with a neck pillow. For some reason, I haven’t been able to find one I’m comfy with so I dispense with lugging one on board. During flights, “comfy” to me means keeping warm. So instead, I make sure I travel with a scarf big enough to cover my head and face with for sleeping (yes, I’m one of those who sometimes ends up sleeping with my mouth open when I sleep seated.). In addition, I bring a larger handkerchief like my precious tubao to tie around my neck. Even in the winter months, I sleep with a kerchief because I just get cold that way very quickly otherwise.
Because I choose to travel with comfy shoes and I don’t need socks during the summer, I bring a pair of leg warmers just to keep my legs what else– warm. A pair of socks is a good alternative, but that only takes care of my feet and not my legs. (I’m old, there!)
When I can, I travel in a sweater or jacket with a hoodie, but that is out of the question when I travel during the summer like today. I would bring a season-appropriate jacket which I may or may not wear to the airport. I have also found that bringing an extra layering shirt in my tote has been wise given how they keep the plane cabins cold. (Read; freezing.). Bring something light enough not to crowd your purse — just in case you choose not to use it. Sometimes a simple second shirt can actually make the difference even when you’re wearing a jacket or sweater.
6. Snacks of your choice. I have been traumatized by my initial trip to New York 15 years ago when the plane ran out of breakfast as the last meal between my connecting from Tokyo to Michigan before hitting New York. Be it s powerbar, a small bag of nuts or a candy bar, bring some. Don’t bring a whole basketful as if you were going on a picnic, though, and be mindful of flight restrictions on the kind of food allowed past the security check. I am also mindful of not bringing anything pungent or offensive smelling, so as not to be nuisance to others around me.
7. A book, magazine in hard copy or on an electronic device — and something to write on and with if you write a lot like I do. This trip, I have brought a scratch notebook of sorts to scribble anything and everything on. In addition, I packed a blank notebook to scribble on. I always make sure I have at least 2 pens, but make sure all my pens are together in either a Ziploc bag or a pencilcase. Some pens tend to bleed when the cabin is pressurized so be careful when you set the pen down on your writing medium of choice.
Travel is something that I have found enjoyable for the simple fact that it takes me — literally — from one place to the next. And moving from the familiar to something different every once in a while is always worth the trouble it may entail. Here’s to my next trip, wherever that may be.