Packing for a trip is so stressful, I sometimes think it would be nice to have a crystal ball. After all, in just one afternoon you’re expected to conceptualize an entire week’s worth of outfits while trying to take into account your mood, the weather, and any unexpected plans. But even beyond having the perfect outfit (and shoes…and accessories), there are plenty of travel essentials that completely slip your mind come packing time. Suddenly you find yourself buckled in for an eight-hour flight in a dried-out cabin, searching feverishly for your lip balm.
We have all been there. And it is truly the worst. So to make sure you never find yourself in an ohh, I wish I had that moment again, we’ve rounded up the best travel essentials for your toiletry kit and beyond. Though these things might not have been at the top of your list before, this will surely become your go-to travel essentials checklist.
Travel Essentials for Health
Flying isn’t always a smooth experience. Rough air can lead to anxiety and sometimes even nausea and sickness. Insomnia is also a major villain when it comes to air travel. Fortunately, our experts have holistic tools at the ready to help.
“I take a multivitamin and lots of vitamin C, like Emergen-C or Airborne, to boost my immune system while traveling,” says Tiffany Dowd, a global hotel expert and founder of Luxe Social Media and Luxe Tiffany. “In addition, I take magnesium supplements to help regulate my sleep, and I find it also helps my jet lag.”
Exercise post-flight is also crucial to fighting jet lag. Dowd travels with resistance bands to get a quick workout in her hotel room.
Your Fave Tea
“If I’m feeling run down after traveling, I have the hotel make me a cup of fresh-brewed ginger tea,” Dowd shares. “It’s soothing and has anti-inflammatory properties.”
Travel Essentials for Nourishment
There’s nothing worse than an inevitable airplane hangry moment. Sadly, airplane food isn’t the tastiest, and it’s never the healthiest option.
“I never leave home without an empty water bottle. It saves money so you’re not constantly buying water in the airport and during the trip,” says Debbie Arcangeles, host of the podcast The Offbeat Life, a series committed to highlighting those who live location-independent lives. “I also fill the water bottle before I board the plane, so I don’t have to keep asking for water during the flight.”
“I always pack high-protein granola bars and raw almonds, which I portion into snack-size bags,” says Dowd. “These are quick energy snacks that are easy to pack.”
Tech Travel Essentials
Air travel is a perfect excuse to catch up on anything you ordinarily don’t have time for. Because you won’t have cell service and might not want to pay for wifi, you’ve got the perfect excuse to pause work to enjoy a little you time with the help of these high-tech touches.
Your Gadgets…and Noise-Canceling Headphones to Go With Them
“I need my iPhone, of course,” says Greaves-Gabbadon. “I’m currently looking for a pair of noise-canceling headphones to block out other people’s noise when I work in public spaces.”
Greaves-Gabbadon, Dowd, and Arcangeles all recommend a portable charger for cell phones, as well.
“I always have my e-reader with backlight,” says Arcangeles. “It’s a space saver, and I can even read when the lights are out so I don’t disturb the other passengers. It’s also great to have when your flight is delayed or when you have a long layover.”
Travel Essentials for Beauty
Dry, cold air, a change in pressure, and lots of sitting can wreak havoc on a beauty regimen. Still, there are ways to maintain healthy skin while traveling with a few simple must-have beauty travel essentials for your toiletry kit.
“I love having face wipes with me on the plane, especially during long flights. I can feel refreshed and clean right away,” says Arcangeles.
“I always wear sunscreen when flying. You are actually exposed more to the sun’s harmful rays up in the air,” says Dowd. She recommends EltaMD UV Daily broad-spectrum sunscreen ($26) because it’s light and blends well under makeup.
“I splurge on La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Eye Cream ($460), which is so soothing under your eyes and prevents dryness,” Dowd says. She also recommends the Malin + Goetz Replenishing Face Serum ($70) for facial hydration on a flight.
“I keep travel makeup to a minimum,” Dowd says. “I love wearing a dab of NARS Illuminator ($30). It gives you an instantly refreshed and beautiful look.” She also recommends powder bronzer by Bobbi Brown ($44) and a lengthening mascara like Lancôme Définicils ($27.50).
“I discovered Lanolips 101 Ointment Superbalm ($17) and it’s since become my go-to for my chronically dry lips and cuticles,” says Greaves-Gabbadon.
Travel Essentials for Comfort
Airplanes are incredibly cold—and dry. The air at 30,000 feet can’t hold much moisture, and adding it to the airstream in an airplane is very difficult. Flying with 300 passengers also means the flight attendants aren’t going to change the temperature just for your frozen toes.
“I must have an eye mask because I take a lot of early morning flights to the Caribbean, and there is always someone in my row who just has to have the window shade open,” says Greaves-Gabbadon.
“On long-haul flights I always bring a foot hammock,” Greaves-Gabbadon says. “I’m only 4’9” so my feet don’t touch the ground on many aircraft. The straps fit over the tray table and then I just slip my feet in. It’s way more comfy than having my feet just dangle (and swell) for hours.”
“I always pack rewetting eye drops, as the air is so dry on airplanes,” says Dowd.
“I was recently on a 16-hour flight from Hong Kong to Boston, and on a long-haul flight like this I always wear compression socks to prevent deep vein thrombosis,” Dowd says. “I find my legs are more relaxed and less swollen when I land.”
Don’t forget your passport!
We asked our experts for anything else they like to bring with them on their trips that makes the journey a little more personal. Interestingly enough, all of their answers had to do with their passports.
“I never leave home without my passport,” says Dowd. “Whether it’s domestic or international, I’m ready to go anywhere at any time. I also always keep an extra copy of it somewhere in my bags as well as a digital copy on my phone.”
“I just got the most stylish red leather passport case from Anya Hindmarch,” says Greaves-Gabbadon. “It zips around so nothing falls out, has plenty of pockets for cards, and it’s personalized with “JetSetSarah” on the front. I won’t leave home without it.”
What to Wear on the Plane
We all want to feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible on an airplane. Still, there are some travelers who take this a little too far and show up for a flight as if they are turning in for the night. Pajamas on an airplane is not the most pulled-together look. But today’s trends tend to favor comfort and function, so it’s not difficult to throw together a stylish plane outfit that you don’t mind sitting in for hours.
“I’m usually in dark pants, ballet flats like Chanel or Paul Mayer, which are easy to get off in security, and a comfortable top, such as a ¾-sleeve top or tee from Michael Stars or Three Dots,” says Dowd. She also always brings her Hermès pashmina, which doubles as a stylish scarf and also keeps her warm during the flight. Tip: When wearing ballet flats, don’t forget to wear your no-show socks—no one wants to walk barefoot through security.
“I bring a light, long jacket to wear over my outfit,” she adds. “I’ve just discovered this new brand called Anatomie, which is super stylish and comfortable travel wear.”
“I am a big believer in wearing anything that is a one piece, like maxi dresses and jumpsuits,” says Arcangeles. “It’s a lot less stressful to figure out how to put together an outfit, and they are super comfortable to wear while still looking stylish.”
“Most often I wear boyfriend jeans, a T-shirt, and an adidas track jacket,” says Greaves-Gabbadon. “On longer-haul flights I might swap the jeans for something softer, like harem pants or track pants. And nine times out of ten, wherever I’m flying, I’m in adidas sneakers. I’m quite the sneaker head. I customize them with Hickies so they’re easy to remove at security.”