My Carry-On Bag for Short Flights

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I’m heading out to Halifax next week, a flight that I take fairly regularly, and was thinking how the entire process of packing feels automatic now. It just takes a few minutes to pull everything together now, and I thought I’d share with all of you what I drag along with me — on short haul flights, at least.

I consider a short-haul flight anything less than six hours. I’ll do another post sometime about long-hauls, but this will do for now. I’m a big sleeper on airplanes, and I think my carry-on items represent that.

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1. The Bag
I’ve got a backpack that I could use to carry everything, which would probably be more comfortable were I going on foot from the airport. However, when I have a ride to my destination or am taking a taxi I’m more than happy to use my faux leather duffle bag. It’s really straight forward, one big open space, and I can use it for a few things (as I do here) or throw enough clothes in it for a week. It’s surprisingly capacious. When looking for a bag like this online, try searching for ‘weekender bag’ or sift through ‘duffle bag’ while avoiding anything that might look in place at a gym.

2. Phone and Headphones
This is obvious but I figured for the sake of being thorough I would include it. Don’t forget your headphones or you’ll be the saddest traveller. I like earbuds instead of big headphones because I always fall asleep and earbuds don’t bother me between my head and pillow. But perhaps you can find some really comfortable big headphones!

3. Lip Balm
I wither like a raisin when flying so I love to bring lip balm and also a travel sized hand cream if I have one. Don’t bring anything too scented since you’re in a closed space with strangers who may have sensitivities. I love Eos lip balms (who doesn’t?) but also anything from Burt’s Bees. I’ve gotten some great ones at organic food stores before too, I’m happiest using locally made ones.

4. Sunglasses
Even if it’s an overcast day on the ground, once you’re above the clouds the sun is bright and strong. I never close my window as I love looking outside when flying so I throw on my sunglasses every time. Also makes sleeping a bit more pleasant if you’re shy about sleeping where others can see you.

5. Gravol
I always bring Gravol to knock me out for flights that I want to sleep through. If there’s going to be rough weather and turbulence I definitely want to sleep through it, and Gravol makes me calm. Definitely take it on an empty stomach if you want fast effects. I’ve done that at the gate and been fast asleep before the plane even takes off. Helps if you’re going to be adjusting to a different time zone and you want to force yourself into a new sleep pattern! (I’m not sponsored by this company, by the way.)

6. Watch
I make sure to wear my actual watch when flying through different time zones. Not only does my phone not adjust until we land but I like to set the local time for my destination when we leave. This gives a head start on adjusting to time differences, and it helps keep track of how long you’ve been flying for.

7. Water Bottle
Because I am constantly protesting against places that force you to buy expensive beverages I usually travel with an EMPTY reusable water bottle. Make sure there’s nothing in it pre-security. I just fill it up wherever I can find a tap after getting through to the gate (make sure you’re in a place where it’s okay to drink the tap water, of course). I would also recommend one of those bottles that fold up when they are empty. That would save space.

8. Passport and Holder
Obviously you’re bringing your passport, unless you’re going somewhere domestic that you don’t need it. I always use it as ID just in case. I look cute in the photo, anyways. I have a Roots leather passport case that I love because it makes it so much easier to find the damn thing in my bag. Passports are small and dark and easily lost. Keep it in a holder.

9. Scarf
I always bring a big scarf because airplanes are cold and I use it as a blanket when napping. Pretty self explanatory. Don’t bring anything itchy.

10. Neck Pillow
They are the absolute lamest thing to tote around but I love them. I have a grey one and even use it at home sometimes. I’m pretty uncool. But nothing makes for a more comfortable flight that a place to lay your weary head. If space is an issue get one that is inflatable but with a cloth case. I’ve borrowed one of those before and it was fantastically convenient and comfortable.

11. Entertainment
Not pictured above, but of course you’re going to need to be entertained. Not everyone wants to sleep the flight away like I do. If you’re an important business person or maybe a writer you can bust out your laptop, but that’s rarely comfortable for the people sitting beside you and is cumbersome to fit on the tray tables. I’ll load movies onto my iPad and carry a book (paperback usually), or bring a notebook for writing. I’ve seen some people bring knitting onto flights and I think that is awesome. Just don’t bring anything sharp and I would even recommend plastic needles, but that’s probably not mandatory.

12. Snacks
Also not pictured above, snacks are imperative to my happiness on airplanes. I will occasionally cave and buy the overpriced airport snacks but more often that not I’ll pack a lunchbox and take it with me. Liquids are the only problem going through security so I’ll pack a sandwich and some veggie sticks and bag of almonds. Again try to be considerate of allergens and avoid peanuts especially. There may be food import laws if you’re travelling internationally so just check and see that you’re in the clear to bring snacks. You usually will be.

Okay, well I think I’ve procrastinated packing long enough! Happy travels everyone, and if you have anything to add to this list, let me know in the comments! xo


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