Ten Things That Are Always In My Carry On


Editor’s Note: I received lots of comments about our recently published story on packing essentials for women – everyone has their must haves and it was great to hear all the wonderful ideas on what to pack for travel. Billie Frank from the Sante Fe Traveler website contacted me shortly after our story was published and sent us her list of most valuable items in her carry on. It was such a great list I had to publish it on our website!

What to Pack in Your Carry On – Notes from a Professional Traveler

One of the great truths of life is, people are different. It’s what makes life interesting. I’ll wager that everyone has a top-ten list of essentials to take on the plane with them and that there are some items common to all and some that reflect our individuality. In these days of too frequently lost luggage, there are some must-haves I always include in my carry-on. They are the things I could not live without should my checked-bag go astray. In truth, I have way more than ten- but I have cheated and created groups. And anyway, who’s counting?

  1. Health items I can’t live without

    These include prescriptions and over-the-counter meds, herbal remedies, essential oils and homeopathic remedies. If these got lost, I’d be up the proverbial creek.

  2. Moisturizers for the plane and beyond

    Airplane air is very drying and it is easy for the body and the skin to dehydrate. I bring as much water as I can carry for drinking (the flight attendants look askance when I request my own bottle- the little cup will only do for a trice); a small spray bottle with water and lavender essential oil to spray my face during transit and some lip balm to keep the old kisser feeling good.

  3. Personal air purifier

    Speaking about the air on the plane, do you really want to breathe other people’s recycled germs? I have this neat little thing called a Fresh Air Buddy that I wear around my neck. It purifies the cabin air. It can also be used in any indoor space where you have concerns about the air.

  4. Tooth care stuff: brush, floss and tooth powder

    Can’t be without these if you want your smile to be clean and fresh! I brush my teeth the old-fashioned way, powder. Mostly baking soda, with some natural additions, it’s chemical free. Check the ingredients in your toothpaste- you’d be surprised what’s in it and it goes in your mouth, so you’re ingesting it. If it has a warning on it of any kind, I don’t want it in my mouth. And since it is neither liquid nor gel, I have had no issues with airport security.

  5. Deodorant

    No girl should leave home without it! I use crystal deodorant. If you have not yet discovered this natural wonder, check it out. It doesn’t contain aluminum or chemicals and it does the job (at least for me). Again, because it is not a liquid or get, it sails through airport security.

  6. Body, skin and hair-care products

    Soap, skin cream, shampoo, conditioner and gel can be your body’s best friends.

    What would any of us do without the products we love? I bring my own because I have allergies and sensitive skin. Some women just don’t care, but they are not me. If you are on my end of the spectrum, bring your own, you never know what you’ll find at your destination.

  7. Sunscreen

    Something no woman (man or child) should be without. I have fair skin and burn in a nanosecond. Even if you have skin that tans easily- with all we know about sun damage sunscreen is ESSENTIAL!

  8. Hair and head stuff

    We don’t always have good hair days so we want our bag of tricks with us. Hair elastics, scrunchies and/or barrettes are great to have unless you have a really short do. I always have mine long enough to put in a ponytail so these are must-haves. Then there is my hairbrush so I can tame my unruly tresses. And I take a hat for bad hair days, and seasonally warmth or sun protection.

  9. The electronic stuff

    If traveling abroad, a plug set and converter if necessary are really essential. Many products are now made to work on AC or DC, so check your gear to see if the converter is necessary. Also essential, my cell phone charger.

  10. Books

    A good read and a crossword puzzle book are important to me. I am constitutionally unable to sleep on a plane even with a pill and I never met an in-flight movie I loved- I am not sure how they pick them. So I either read or fiddle with the New York Times Sunday Crossword puzzles. Unlike my husband, I can never fully solve them, but they keep me busy.

And don’t forget to pack a change of underwear and a clean shirt in case you and your luggage have different arrival dates. Of course, that’s always a welcome excuse to shop, but you want to look your best when you hit the shops.

In reality, there are more things that fill my Mary Poppins bag when I travel and that I couldn’t do with out, but I have to stop somewhere.

Your list will probably coincide with mine in some places, and will reflect your personality and needs in others. I would love to hear what goes in your bag of tricks.