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The Making And Life Of A World Traveler: Well Almost–Chapter Seventeen–Travel by Plane

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Passengers and crew onboard a Qantas Boeing 737-800, flight number QF735 from Sydney to Adelaide at Sydney Airport on September 24, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. Flights from Sydney to Adelaide have resumed after the South Australian government's decision to lift COVID-19 travel restrictions for NSW residents. From Thursday 24 September, travellers from New South Wales are able to enter South Australia without having to go into a mandatory 14-day quarantine. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

I have taken countless plane trips both in the US and internationally. I have traveled with just carry on luggage and I have traveled like a maharaja with too damn many to count. And you know what I hated every minute of the time I spent in those planes. The only time I really enjoyed my flight time was when I flew first class. So my point is that if you can afford to travel first class do it, it will certainly make your trip less fatiguing and more enjoyable. If you are a mere mortal like me you are stuck flying coach and that is ok, I guess. Let’s face it, the plane portion of the trip is just to get us where we want to go as quickly as possible.

To start with, if you have anything that you can’t absolutely do without, pack it in your carry-on suitcase. This goes for medications, cameras, tablets and so on. Also bring at the very least a fresh pair of underwear and socks or stockings or anything else you would need to make yourself comfortable if your luggage got lost. Trust me, it happens and it does so all too frequently.

On one occasion I flew to Florida for my father’s funeral. All I had was one carryon and a garment bag that contained my suit for the funeral that I chose to check in. Well guess what, they lost my garment bag. I finally did get it in time for the funeral. You already know about my lost luggage in my Alaska trip. I know that there was a few more times that my luggage was misplaced, unfortunately, I don’t remember the particular details.

When I pack my luggage with check-in planned, I use large heavy duty canvas duffel bags. These bags weigh less than 2lbs and are great for clothes and other unbreakable items. If I have breakable items to pack, I put them in padded cubes and surround them with clothes and my books. I got in the habit of using duffel bags when I would go on my diving trips because I would rather utilize the allowed weight for my stuff rather than for an overweight suitcase. Since I have done a lot of travel for a lot of varied purposes, I have way too many different suitcases, camera bags and cases. I am sure that if your an avid traveler you are in the same boat. Remember there is not right or wrong way to pack as long as your stuff gets to the destination safely and unbroken. There are countless websites and blogs devoted to packing your suitcases, so I won’t spend any real time discussing them.

I will, however, bring up one example of my packing. I had planned on a trip to Thailand, of course, my flight got all screwed up and I had to go on a plane much smaller than planned. Even though my carry on suit case was supposed to be small enough for even the smaller planes, somebody lied. This plane’s overhead compartments would barely hold a shoe box, let alone an overnight bag. Luckily, I had everything packed in individual cubes so I was able to take out a few cubes from my carryon duffel bag. With the contents being less I was able to compress the bag enough so that it fit into the overhead compartment. The extra cubes fit under my seat, so the flight attendant was happy. In this case, my extremely conservative packing came in handy.

While doing a little internet surfing I came across this nice posting on airplane essentials located in the following web site,, The article was entitled “25 Airplane Essentials You Should Never Travel Without.” I thought a few of them were not useful, so I did not include the whole 25 below, you, of course, are welcome to check the site out. Even though I devoted a chapter to packing already, I wanted to include a few items that are for airplane trips in particular.

Flying unprepared can be a disaster. Maybe you forgot to charge your phone, haven’t eaten in hours, and keep nodding off onto the shoulder of the stranger next to you. Or maybe you’re just bored, freezing, and annoyed with the loud child a few rows back.

We’ve all endured flights like this, but they’re (mostly) avoidable if you pack the right things to keep you cozy and entertained.

If you’re going to go through the trouble of finding the cheapest airfare or using points to fly for cheap, take the extra step to pack items that will ensure you’ll have a comfortable flight. Taking it a step further, earn some rewards on your purchases with the right credit cards. Here are the top travel accessories that you’ll want readily available in your carry-on bag.

Things to add to your plane packing list

1. Antibacterial wipes

An airplane is a great place to pick up other people’s germs, and a vacation or business trip is probably the worst time to get sick. Wipe down your tray table with some antibacterial wipes as soon as you board, and give your hands a swab before you pull out the snacks. We prefer the fresh lavender scent and the natural ingredients in these EO Hand Sanitizer Wipes to other brands.

2. A reusable water bottle

You can’t bring a full water bottle through security, and the ones sold at airport vendors are always overpriced. Enter the reusable water bottle.

3. Vitamin C

Since it’s easy to pick up a bug while traveling, giving your immune system an extra boost is a good idea. Grab some Emergen-C and add it to your water bottle during your flight to keep illness at bay.

4. Compression socks

When you’re forced to sit for a prolonged period, such as on an international flight, your risk of developing a blood clot increases. Since this can be life-threatening, you should do everything you can to minimize the risk, especially if you have conditions like being diabetic or overweight, which can make you more susceptible. One possible solution is wearing compression socks.

5. Travel blanket

Cozy up to something soft and warm, and you’re more likely to get that much-needed shut-eye. It’s almost always too cold on airplanes, but you don’t need to risk using the aircraft’s questionable blankets

6. Travel pillow

Without something to support your neck, it’s nearly impossible to sleep sitting up for more than 10 seconds at a time. There are plenty of travel pillows out there — and many are inflatable if you need to preserve space.

7. Eye mask

If you need complete darkness to sleep, an eye mask is a necessary travel essential. The quality of the materials and comfort of the design are important in an eye mask.

8. A warm sweater or hoodie

There’s no need to dress up for your flight. Wear comfortable clothing that keeps you warm and cozy. You can find a comfy sweater at almost any apparel retailer.

9. An Amazon Fire tablet

An Amazon Prime membership is an easy way to get plenty of streaming content available to watch offline, but you’ll need to use an Amazon device or smartphone to access it.

10. A power bank

You’ll need to keep those devices charged while you’re traveling, so pick up an external battery pack.

11. Noise-cancelling headphones

Bose has long been considered the go-to brand for noise-canceling headphones, and you can even find Bose kiosks in some airports.

12. Toothbrush

If you’re taking a long trip, you’ll probably want to brush your teeth on the plane.

13. Medication

Flying on a plane is uncomfortable enough without adding minor aches or queasiness to the mix. Carry some basic meds such as ibuprofen, melatonin, dramamine, and Neosporin with you on the plane, along with any other medications you take regularly.

14. TSA-friendly snacks

Buying food at the airport can be pricey, and peanuts and pretzels likely aren’t enough to tide you over on a long flight. Come prepared with your own snacks, but be careful not to include large portions of liquids.

15. Cable Organizer

Speaking of cords and charging, there’s nothing more frustrating than having to untangle your many cables after stuffing them in your carry-on. Avoid that hot mess by packing a cable organizer to keep everything in order while you’re not using (or charging) your gadgets.

16. KN95 5-Ply Breathable Filter Disposable Masks

Since we are in the age of Covid-19, you just don’t know who might require you to wear a mask. No matter your destination, these best-selling, disposable KN95 masks are a travel essential. They’re filtered yet breathable, and the black makes them a touch more elevated than standard surgical masks. Keep them germ-free on the go with a mask storage case.

17. CDC Vaccination Card Protector (10-Pack)

One thing that’ll likely become a travel necessity alongside your passport is that nifty little COVID-19 vaccine record card you received after your first dose.

Because of this, keeping it safe and protected (I mean, it’s only paper) is a must. These protector cases and lanyards are a convenient and inexpensive way to do just that.

18. Leather Passport Case

Your passport is the most precious item you travel with when going abroad — protecting it with a case should be one of the first things you do. Plus, you can store other essentials in the case, like your vaccine card.

19. Luggage Scale

Portable luggage scales are great for making sure that your luggage doesn’t weigh too much. Better to check at home or in a hotel then in a busy airport.

Whether you’re flying basic economy or first class, don’t get caught unprepared on your next flight. You can’t avoid the dry cabin air or rowdy travelers sitting beside you, but you can pack items that will make the entire experience more pleasant. You can even earn some extra points by using one of the best travel credit cards for your purchases. So put on your headphones, pull down your eye mask, and wrap up in your cozy sweater, then sit back and enjoy your flight!

Unless you are traveling to a familiar location or destination bring along redundant maps and guides because you never know when you will lose service or juice on your electronics. For more information on packing refer to Chapter 7.

Even if you are wearing compression stockings, get up every couple of hours and walk around. This is especially important if you are on a long international flight. You don’t need your trip to be ruined by a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). I am an ICU nurse and I have taken care of many patients with blood clots. Not only can the clots get lodged in your legs as DVTs, they can also float up into your lungs and cause pulmonary emboli (PE) or go even further and cause an ischemic stroke. These maladies are pretty high price to pay for a little sightseeing. So, just get off your duff and walk around.

Now that you have done everything that you possibly can to be prepared for your flight and you have all your goodies with you to make your flight more enjoyable, just do it and have a great time.

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