Have you packed your flight bag yet? Most travellers spend time packing their luggage, with everything they need for their holiday (and a little bit extra, just to be sure!). Flight bags are often left until last, but with strict rules on the size and contents of your carry-on luggage, packing your flight bag can be a challenge.
Even the most seasoned travellers have made flight bag faux-pas. Here’s how you can avoid them, with our top tips on packing your flight bag.
Choosing the right bag
The fact is, for the duration of your trip, your flight bag is your best friend. Choose the bag that works well for you. It should be comfortable for you to carry, the right size according to your airline’s regulations (check their website if you are unsure), and have enough pockets that you can organise its contents well, but not so many that you can’t find anything! Rucksacks make particularly good flight bags as you can carry them hands-free as you negotiate trolleys, duty-free or children, and they tend to have plenty of separate compartments.
The checklist for travel
Most items on the checklist are obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people left their passport, money or drivers’ licence at home because it wasn’t on the list! Here are the basics:
Documents and essentials:
- Boarding pass.
- Passport (check it is valid for your destination country!).
- Visa documents and additional photos (if required).
- Travel itinerary.
- Address of the hotel/hostel/apartment that you’ll be staying at (this is often needed for in- immigration forms).
- Money – you may not want to carry all your money with you, but bring at least half in your flight bag, just in case. (you can split it between your wallet and your document holder for safety).
- Car hire details (if applicable).
- Drivers’ licence.
- List of relevant phone numbers for hotel/transport.
- Valuables: camera, wallet etc.
- A copy of your insurance details.
Top Tip: Store your documentation in a document wallet for convenience and security.
- A good moisturiser.
- Lip balm.
- Face and body wipes.
- Makeup (if necessary!).
- Toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Eye drops.
- Hand sanitizer.
- Nasal spray.
Top Tip: Whether you’re travelling long-haul, or just a few hours, the plane’s environment can take its toll on your skin and body, which can lead to illness and contribute to jet-lag. Keeping your skin hydrated is important, while freshening up before you land can make you feel better and prepare you for the adventures ahead.
Comfort and entertainment:
The best way to dress for your flight is comfort; loose linen or cotton clothing layered with cardigans, jumpers or scarves allow you to layer up or down, depending on the temperature in the cabin.
- Blanket – a light fleece blanket can be tightly rolled to fit into your flight bag and offers comfort on a long-haul flight.
- Neck cushion or travel pillow – choose inflatable, microfibre or bean-filled: neck cushions are a good sleeping aid.
- Ear plugs.
- Head phones- if you prefer to use your own instead of the standard-issue airline ones.
- Headphone splitters – have you ever tried to synchronised a plane film with someone else? It’s tough! Headphone splitters allow you to watch together.
- Eye mask – most long-haul airlines provide eye masks, but you may prefer your own.
- Warm socks.
- A book or e-reader.
- Tablet, iPod or phone (on flight mode).
- Portable charger – for phone, tablet, e-reader.
- Spare shoes – if you are going from cooler temperatures to hot, or vice versa, footwear can be an issue. Wear a lightweight pair of trainers or shoes, but bring a pair of flip flops to change into on the plane (flip flops are great if your feet tend to swell too).
Top Tip: Sometimes, time really does fly when you’re flying – at others, it can be a bit of a drag. Have your tablet, e-reader or other electronic device loaded with plenty of entertainment, in case the in-flight choices aren’t to your taste.
Food and Drink
Most airlines have restrictions on what you can carry. Although many airports have relaxed over the past five years, it is still important to check with your airline before you go to avoid hold-ups or the embarrassment of being stopped at customs (as you pass through customs, don’t forget to check out the random selection of goods confiscated from the day’s previous travellers!).
- Clear plastic zip-lock bag to put ALL liquids in when you go through customs (take 3, just in case).
- Fruit – there is usually plenty to eat and drink on a plane, but fruit can be hard to come by. Pack a few items that travel relatively well, such as apples or a tub of berries.
- Snacks – if you are travelling short-haul or with children, snacks can be costly. Bring a few favourites to prevent having to buy them on the plane.
- It is important that you have plenty to drink so buy a bottle of water in duty-free.
Top Tip: Try to put all your liquid items (including makeup and prescription medication) in the clear bag when you pack, so that you can pass through customs seamlessly.
Just in case
Around 26million suitcases go missing each year. In the grand scheme of things, it is unlikely that your case will go missing, but just in case, pack the essentials in your flight bag. You know what you will need most, but here are a few tips:
- Travel towel – lightweight microfibre towels fold small and can be used to fill a neck cushion too.
- Two spare sets of underwear.
- Swimming costume (if needed).
- At least one spare outfit.
- The item in your case that you just couldn’t bear to lose.
Top Tip: Your “just in case” list may be different: consider where you are going, what will be available to buy when you get there, and what you will find hardest to replace.
This may seem like a huge list, but with a bit of clever rolling and stuffing, it will all get into your flight bag – trust us, we’ve tested it!