Pack like a pro: What to bring on board your flight

(Pack like a pro is a follow-up to Less is more: How to pack like a minimalist.)

Whether or not you prefer to travel like a minimalist, with hand luggage only, there are some things you should always bring on board your flight. Airlines allow you to bring a ‘personal item’ (i.e. a small bag), and very few have restrictions as to how big it can be. (RyanAir is an exception, though – here’s a handy list from Skyscanner on what most popular airlines will allow as cabin luggage.) Let me show you how to pack like a pro – starting with what to pack it in.

I recommend choosing a zip-up tote bag as your personal item. If you’re travelling without hold luggage, you have to bring your toiletries on board. A tote bag allows you to place them the right way up, ensuring a minimal risk of leakage. For the same reason, I suggest choosing a tote that can be washed or wiped down (the same goes for your washbag).

My favourite travel bag is my black Michael Kors Jet Set tote. It is neither too big nor too small (I am the Goldilocks of tote bags). The bag can be zipped up and has several practical internal pockets, including a zipped one for your passport. It is easy to wipe off (one of the umpteen uses for the wet wipes I always bring) and fits neatly under the seat in front you. This tote is also great as a shopper when you’re out buying gifts and souvenirs!

Pack like a pro 1

So what should you have in your personal item to pack like a pro?
Here is what I bring on board a flight:

Passport in an RFID-proof sleeve from pacsafe
Book (I should’ve brought my Kindle as well, I finished the book in 3 days)
Wet wipes (a travel must)
Mini umbrella (similar here)
Michael Kors sunglasses (discontinued – similar here)
Parker pen & pencil set (discontinued – similar here)
Charger for my iPhone
Charger for my Fitbit Surge (not pictured as it rarely leaves my wrist)
Apple headphones
Design Go flight socks
Desigual Audrey wallet (a memory from Mallorca)
Bobble water filter
40 blinks sleep mask
Quiet Zone ear plugs
Cath Kidston washbag (discontinued – similar here)
Cath Kidston clasp purse (discontinued – similar here)

I always keep my passport in a RFID-proof sleeve from pacsafe. (If you haven’t heard of RFID theft, aka wireless/contactless identity theft, check out the Wikipedia entry.) Airports and other tourist hotspots are high-risk areas when it comes to RFID theft, and it isn’t just your passport people can steal information from. Make sure you keep your bank cards in a similar sleeve or small metal case. Some banks offer these to their customers for free.

I keep water-based products in a clear plastic bag, ready for the security check at the airport.

This frees up my washbag for non-liquid items like the sleep mask and ear plugs. (I never travel without them, as I can’t sleep unless it’s dark and quiet.) I also always bring a pair of flight socks that I change into at the airport – it is probably unnecessary, but better safe than sorry, right? (You may be wondering how I manage to fit all my toiletries into a 1-litre, flight-approved plastic bag – I will show you how I do this in a future post!)

The little clasp purse is for foreign currency; two currencies in one wallet is just confusing and also I don’t want to be one of those tourists that spend ages trying to find the right money – I feel like that makes me an obvious target for pick-pockets. It also means I can leave my wallet safe and sound in the safe in the hotel room.

The Bobble lives in my bag permanently.

Having grown up in Norway, I am spoilt when it comes to water. I can’t bear the taste of tap water in England, much less farther afield. Bringing a Bobble also means I don’t have to buy water at extortionate prices after the security check, I can just refill it from a tap or water fountain (unless I’m at Gatwick, where they have removed such things).

You may have noticed that the wet wipes I have linked to don’t look like the ones in the photos – this is because I couldn’t find the Kinder by Nature wet wipes (available at Waitrose), which are 100% biodegradable and compostable. Tesco has stopped stocking the brand, but the Tesco Loves Toddler wipes are also biodegradable. Sainsbury’s don’t seem to stock any biodegradable wet wipes, but please feel free to correct me – I would love to be wrong about that!

Another top tip if you want to pack like a pro is to always wear a warm scarf when you’re flying (you’ll find a photo of my travelling outfit here) – I tend to get cold after a few hours, and not all airlines keep blankets on board. I also always bring a pair of thermal socks (oops, forgot to include them in the photos) that I use on top of my flight socks – they’re also great for keeping my temperature up in the evenings after I have spent a long day out in the sun!

Always bring a book.

I like to bring paperbacks on holiday as they are great for reserving sun loungers. It also means I won’t worry about someone nicking my Kindle while I’m in the pool or the sea. However, I really ought to have packed both, because I read a lot when I’m indoors too, before bed and in the early mornings, and I could’ve left my Kindle in the safe in my hotel room when I was out and about. So that’s one thing I will do differently on my next trip! (Fellow book worms might like to have a peak at my Goodreads profile.)

If you have checked in your luggage, I also recommend bringing an extra pair of underwear & socks, as sometimes your luggage takes longer getting to your destination than you do (or gets lost entirely). While you will usually be allowed to buy a change of clothes, you may not be near the shops, or the shops may not be open when you need them.

And now for the big question… will it fit?
Pack like a pro 2
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All zipped up and ready to go!
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And that’s it! Bon voyage!

Now you know how to pack like a pro! Enjoy your flight!

Love, Neens xx

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