Phone, wallet, keys, mask: Check. Sunglasses, ticket, Catholic guilt, nausea: Check. That’s everything, right? Wrong—you forgot socks! And, you know, literally everything else. If you haven’t been on a plane in a while (a looong while), you’re not alone. Long-distance traveling wasn’t high on a lot of peoples’ lists during quarantine, if they could avoid it. Now, as the world begins to open up to vaccinated travelers, many people are itching to break out the ol’ neck pillow and start obsessing over ticket prices. (A one-way to Iceland, perhaps?)
If that sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. We’re dusting off the lockdown cobwebs from our travel brains, and remembering not only what we used to bring on planes, but what we used to wish we brought on planes more often. Y’know, the kind stuff that wouldn’t have taken up much space, but might’ve made a difference in the maturation of that mid-flight stress zit, kept our passport (and now our vaccine card) from getting crunched, and helped prevent landing with a phone that’s out of juice. So, wise traveler, stock up on those can’t-forget items—we put them all together in this nifty list, just for you. They’re back-burner essentials, because they don’t feel necessary until they do. But when they do, oh boy. They really do. [Condom confetti toss.]
An external charger
The charger by your seat might work, or it might not. Maybe yours is busted, but your seat-neighbor’s isn't—only, they took an Ambien back at 7,000 feet, and you’re not thrilled about the idea of lifting up one of their arms to reach the plug. Instead, bring a portable charger (in your carry-on) and podcast your way to touchdown.
Portable Charger Power Bank, $25.95 at Amazon
How to sneak a third(ish) bag onto your flight
Think of a fanny pack as a pocketed bib—a secret, third bb-bag to bring on board when you’re normally just allowed a purse and a carry-on bag. Slide it the front of your chest, and keep all the stuff that’s annoying to dig out of your backpack (ChapStick, charger, journal, AirPods, passport, pliers, raw potatoes, nunchucks) even closer at hand.
The Sling Bag, $125 at Away
Get your shit together, get it all together, and put it in a backpack
This bag’s breathable mesh back panel will help with the inevitable airport back sweats you’ll get from standing in long security lines. It’s also massive, and—you may have guessed this from the name—features a big ol’ front pocket, as well as a laptop sleeve, mesh water bottle pouch, organizers, and more. (This one isn’t doing it for you? We’ve got options.)
The Front Pocket Backpack, $195 at Away
The “It Bag” of the summer
… Isn’t a bag at all—it’s this handy dandy passport wallet that also holds your vaccine card. The duct tape you’ll need in order to firmly and safely secure this to your forehead when you’re out on the town is sold separately.
Passport Wallet, $90.98 at Huckberry
The essence of fashion
Does it get any cooler than being an adult wearing sandals in public? Yes, actually—you can wear them with socks. This ultimate low-effort pairing screams “I’m more comfortable than you” while subtly suggesting that you might own an independent bookstore. (In the best way.) Birks are easy to kick off, so you can make yourself at home and let your tie-dye compression socks take over from there.
Arizona Birkibuc, $99.95 at Birkenstock
See bee dee?
We're fans of Alive & Kicking smokeable CBD, but the brand also makes this “plant-based wellness” drink mix with CBD that helps your days go “from good to awesome real fast,” so they say. This form of hemp also absorbs eight times faster than conventional hemp oil, so you should be chilled out by takeoff. Enough said!
Nano Hemp Liquid Drink Mix, $19 at Alive & Kicking
Hurl your AirPods into the ocean
That, or just mail them to us—with receipts, please. This vastly more affordable pair of earbuds rolls in at just under 100 bones and packs a ton of noise-cancelling power, so if you're the “losing-your-stuff-all-the-time” type (we get it) this is the low-risk option you’re looking for.
1MORE Active Noise-Cancelling Wireless Earbuds, $94.99 at Amazon
Have a drink and stay a while
Go ahead, put your feet up. Simply hang the footrest on the bracket of the tray table, then rest your puppies atop their new throne. After all, it’s going to be a long flight, and once you wake up from the initial in-flight nap, a bag of pretzels will magically appear somewhere on your chest.
Portable Airplane Footrest, 2-Pack, $16.95 at Amazon
That’s how long you’re supposed to brush for, folks. (Or so says Big Dental.) This sweet travel set comes with a toothbrush, a tube of fancy Italian mint-flavored Marvis toothpaste, and a go-bag. AKA, everything you need to take care of your teeth on the move.
Marvis Toiletries Kit, $22 at ASOS
Stunt the hell out of that zit
You know what’s the perfect breeding ground for adult acne? Not drinking enough water, pounding salty in-flight snacks, and exposing your skin to hours of low humidity in the plane. We dig patch spot treatments when we’re at home, but if we’re mid-travel we’d rather dab on a less-noticeable gel treatment to dry out the impending pimple. This gel by Origins is recommended for normal, dry, and oily skin, because the blend of saw palmetto and salicylic acid fights excess oil without drying out your skin too much (which can lead to more breakouts), while also working to improve any discoloration from the zit. You’re basically chilling out the offending spot, and encouraging faster healing.
Origins Super Spot Remover Acne Treatment Gel, $19 at Sephora
You might need condoms
Lelo is one of those vibrator slingers that doesn’t call its products “sex toys,” but rather “sex tech,” because the brand’s goods are so thoughtfully engineered. (Have you seen the ultra-quiet penis masturbator or the new, Tesla-level clitoral and G-spot vibrator?). Lelo designed its latex condoms to be extra strong and thin, and invented a unique hexagonal structure to give you an extra comfortable, versatile fit. Toss ‘em in the carry-on, so you’re ready to go on that overdue boning sesh.
Lelo Hex Condoms (Pack of 12),
$19.90 $15.92 at Lelo
Yes, neck pillows are that great
Did you know that every inch the head moves out of vertical alignment adds 10 pounds of pressure on the neck? Back when we had the necks of a youthful spring chicken, it didn’t matter if we slept out in a weird position on the plane and drooled all over our shoulder. Now that we’re well-marinated adults, we finally appreciate what a neck pillow offers: the ability to pass TF out anywhere, anytime, without waking up as a human crumb. Cabeau created one that’s lightweight, roll-up-able, and won’t make your neck sweat or lean forward with all that weight.
Evolution Cool Neck Pillow, $59.99 at Cabeau
Wipes, like masks, are a welcome social norm now
Once upon a time, it might have felt excessive to carry around wipes unless you have a small human to take care of/are Niles Crane. The pandemic is still here, and being prepared with some lightly scented sani wipes (lavender = hella calming) is a great reflex. Also, what if you just need to wipe your hands? Or seat? Who knows what went down on that tray table before you squeezed into 16C? The peace of mind is worth it.
Sanitizing Lavender Wipes, 30-Count,
$4 $3 at Public Goods
Silky butterfly kisses on your lids
Like its brawnier cousin the neck pillow, a silk sleep mask is a time-worn favorite because it just works. Mentally, having your eyes cradled in plushy silk can bring you peace before and during lift-off; Lunya's washable silk mask is lightweight, non-irritable, breathable, and everyone will leave you alone. We’re only lifting this one off to watch The Devil Wears Prada during the in-flight meal.
Washable Silk Sleep Mask, $48 at Luyna
A mini, discreet vibrator
In our experience, no one at TSA will care if this is in your carry-on. This little vibrator fits in the palm of your hand, is USB-rechargeable and waterproof, so you can bring it in the shower for even more privacy while travelling.
Zee Bullet Vibrator, $30 at Dame
In case you shit your pants
You know what? It happens. No worries. It may happen to some of us more than others, but the bottom line is you never know what you’re going to eat, sit on, or get splooshed with by a baby at the Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk. Keep a pair of retro track shorts, or some day-to-night pants in your carry-on like this pair from [AIRHORN] the big, up to 45% off Memorial Day sale at Huckberry.
Flint and Tinder Stretch Utility Chino,
$98 $63.98 at Huckberry
A book to make you the coolest person at the gate
So what if you end up re-reading the same paragraph? You’re here to be the Main Character of Terminal 2 (in addition to catching a plane) so look the part, goddamnit. You might catch the eye of a cutie in Barney’s Beanery at LAX. And you just might end up reading that new book from your esoteric library if the plane taxis forever.
Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America, $17.29 at Amazon
Oh, and this is just for the plane. Don’t forget the rest of your travel gear. Bon voyage!
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