I’ve been to my fair share of foreign countries, and the packing never (ever) gets easier. Having traveled to Australia, Thailand, England, Canada and countless trips to Mexico, I’d like to think that I have the international travel down to a tee, but I don’t. I don’t know if it’s the long flights, the anticipation of being home sick, or the fear of forgetting something, but venturing overseas always tends to be a little more stressful than a standard domestic vacation.
What will you wear? Will you be able to sleep on the plane? If not, do you have enough material to keep yourself entertained for 10+ hours? What snacks should you bring, if any? Will you be able to stretch and get comfortable?
While I’m not an expert, and I’m almost certain I’ll forget something on my upcoming Euro-trip, these are my international travel essentials. My carry-on ride-or-dies, if you will.
Travel pillow — I have the hardest time sleeping, and getting comfortable, on planes regardless of the distance. My girlfriend suggested taking Benadryl on the flight to help knock myself out, but I try to avoid medicine(s) if I can, so I’m hoping a travel pillow does the trick. I’ll keep you posted.
Layers — I always like to dress in comfortable layers when traveling. I typically wear leggings, a plain tee, a pullover, a denim or leather jacket and one of my bulkier coats to free up some suitcase space (when applicable). I feel like planes are always really unpredictable. I normally run fairly hot, especially when I’m running around an airport and crammed in next to strangers, but there have been times where I wish I had worn a sweatshirt (or two). Dressing in layers solves that issue.
Glasses — Because I’m visually challenged, I always bring my glasses with me on the plane. Especially for longer flights, where I might want to take my contacts out to sleep, having glasses near by is a must. Luckily, for this trip I have a spare pair, thanks to Phonetic Eyewear. Don’t forget your favorite sunnies, too!
Socks — Compression and comfy socks are game changers. When we flew to Thailand, my legs got pretty swollen, and it wasn’t cute (or fun). I like to pack a pair of comfortable socks for when my feet are cold, and compression socks to reduce swelling and help with circulation, to throw on mid-flight.
Hats — I wear a lot of hats (pun intended). Most of my hats are worth well over $100, and I’m not willing to squish them in my suitcase. When I’m traveling for an extended period of time, I stack all of my hats on top of one another and wear them onto the plane. It looks weird, and people stare, but they’ll get over it.
That being said, I’m open to a hat case, if anyone has any recommendations?
Electronics — You forget your headphones once and I guarantee you’ll never do it again. I keep two pairs of headphones, my phone and watch chargers, my camera, portable charging bank, and in this case my international outlet converter, with me on the plane. You never know if your luggage will get lost along the way, so I always bring the essentials with me.
Shoes — As a rule of thumb, I always wear my bulkiest shoes on the plane (to allow for more clothes in my checked bag). Because of this, I’m almost always in tennis or boots inflight, which is miserable if you’re trying to get comfortable, or put your shoes on in a pinch to pee or stretch. To make my life easier, I’ll pack my Birkenstocks in my carry-on and slip those on once I’m on the plane.
Toiletries — These are major key. For longer flights, I pack the works. All the goods. You know— extra contacts, make-up removing wipes, a toothbrush and toothpaste, face wash, moisturizers, face sheet masks, my everyday makeup, a hair brush, a few hair ties, and most importantly, hand cream, Chapstick, and rose water spray. I will never, ever board a flight without rose water spray, Chapstick or hand cream (like, ever).
Pro tip: spritz the rose water on your face when you’re feeling dry, dehydrated, or if you’re just waking from a nap and need to refresh.
Reading material — On shorter flights, I try to knock out a couple of blog posts by writing them in the notes on my phone, or on my laptop. For this particular trip, since I’m not bringing my computer, I stocked up on plenty of reading material to keep me entertained— two books and a magazine.
Antibacterial & health products — I don’t know about you, but I always tend to get sick after a long leg of travel. I blame germ-infested planes, and the sick people who board them. To help prevent this, I bring Lysol wipes to wipe down the tray table, windows and armrests, plenty of hand-sanitizer, Kleenex and Advil (just incase) in my carry-on.
Snacks — On our way to Nashville, I dished out $20 for Cheez-its and candy at an airport concession stand. Huge mistake. For longer flights I like to make a grocery store run beforehand to squirrel away healthier snacking options. For this Euro-trip I bought dried mango, RX and Lara bars, nut medleys and plantain chips.
Money & identification— When I’m traveling abroad, local currency and my passport are with me at all times. While it may be cheaper to get Euros at the airport, I went to my hometown bank to get a couple hundred dollars so that I have it on hand from the moment I land.
Printed itineraries — Call me crazy, but I like to over-prepare. Anytime I leave the U.S., I print my flight, hotel and transportation confirmations and itineraries. While I know they’re on my phone, I like to have both a printed and digital copy for reference.
Pen & paper — I normally have a couple of pens in my carry-on, which are especially helpful when traveling abroad and having to fill out customs declaration forms on the plane. The notepad comes in handy for quickly jotting down noteworthy blog topics that come to mind or things you did and saw on the trip.
Am I missing anything? Tell me in the comments below!