You Can't Get on a Plane Without These Hand Luggage Essentials

Hand luggage can be difficult to perfect. If you forget something during a long-haul, it can be pretty devastating. There's no pulling the car over and rummaging through your other luggage – you're stuck without it. And if you overpack, well, that can just be a mess.

I'm a pretty casual flyer. I don't really get changed, I just rock up with comfy pants, a loose top, a warm knit and a scarf – sometimes a coat too. I don't usually bring spare undies. Honestly, I've bought them time-and-time again and never changed into them until I've arrived at my destination. The thing is, I avoid plane toilets as much as I can (I have this thing with germs) and quite often my layovers aren't even long enough to get to my connecting flight, let alone get changed. So it feels pointless to bring a change of clothes in my already full luggage. And hey, if my luggage goes missing, well, I'll figure it out.

There's only so much you can carry on your back. But after a few years of being in the air, I've come to find my rhythm for packing my hand luggage.

My hand luggage essentials

Scarf | This can double as a blanket or a pillow.

Big comfy socks | I like to take my shoes off as soon as I get on the plane. I'm not one that likes to get up much during the flight, I'm weird and like to nest. So big comfy socks help with that and keeps my feet from getting cold.

iPhone and charger cord | Most new planes have USB input's so you can charge your phone during the flight, which is always very handy for all the podcasts you have lined up for the flight ahead.

Headphones and airplane jack | I dunno about you, but I've never had a good experience with airplane headphones. Other than when I was a kid and my grandma stole them for us to use as a stethoscope(?). So I like to use my own (somewhat) noise cancelling headphones. But to do so, you need a handy airplane jack.

Gum | I'm one of those annoying people who get excruciatingly painful ear aches when the plane takes off and lands. It's hell on earth having a rager of a party in my ears. I've found chewing gum helps.

Water bottle | Oh and if chewing doesn't help my ears pop, drinking water does. I also like to stay very hydrated on the plane, and those tiny cups just don't quite do it for me! So having my own water bottle and asking the stewards to fill it up when it's empty is a lifesaver.

Toiletries | I will always bring a facial moisturiser, hand sanitiser, pain killers, deodorant, lip balm and perfume with me. On long haul's I'll add my toothbrush and paste. I like to put them all into a nice compact (transparent) bag, like this one from Muji.

A novel or magazine | I'm old school, I haven't moved my life over to a kindle. I probably should considering how heavy my hand luggage already is, but I've got this thing with the smell of books, the feeling of turning pages and being able to hug it when it's done.

Snacks – I don't know about you but I never feel like eating on a plane. I seem to be constantly hungry, but once the food gets to me, I take one bite and I feel really sick. So I've come accustom to taking my own snacks. I particularly like bringing chocolate covered nuts, dried apricots and granola bars.

Glasses and sunglasses – probably one of the most annoying things about needing glasses, is needing them on planes. But contacts are out of the question. I like to have sunglasses for landing and hiding from the light of day.

Pen – to fill out those pesky arrival cards.

Passport and wallet – no explanation needed here.

Other things I take with me that aren't totally necessary

Laptop and charger | Often when I travel, I have to work every now and then – it's just part of freelancing (and blogging!). So my laptop just about always comes with me now. It's a pain, but it's also very handy if I need to book anything or do some research while abroad, or for a sneaky movie night. This goes in my carry on because I'd be absolutely devastated if something happened to it.

Camera and charger | Again, I bring my camera with me in my carry on to avoid any breakage. I've got two cameras, my Olympus OMD EM-5 and my Canon 5d, but I never take both. They're both quite different cameras, so it really depends on the trip to decide which to take. Generally my Olympus is my lightweight option, my Canon is my professional option. 

What do I carry it all in?

I currently use a Fjallraven Kanken backpack

My Kanken backpack is my true travel companion. She's sturdy, super stylish, has a slot for my laptop and carry's plenty. I wouldn't leave for a trip without her. Once I've landed and settled in, I unpack my Kanken and use her day-to-day.

I've recently added a camera insert into the bottom on my Kanken which comfortably holds my Canon 5d with space for two lenses – although I usually only travel with one. I've recently upgraded my camera gear for work and am blown away by the results! (But that's a story for another time). With the insert, I know my camera is nice and safe and also fits comfortably in my bag with various other daily must-have items. I think inserts are a genius (and affordable!) way to personalise a bag to fit your travel needs.

Between you and me, I would love to invest in a travel bag from Lo and Sons – like the O.M.G or the Catalina Deluxe. But unfortunately (or thankfully?) they don't ship to Australia yet and I reaaaally can't justify yet another travel bag...


What could you never get on a flight without?