14 things our expert flight attendant always has in their hand luggage


Over two decades as a flight attendant for American Airlines have taught me a thing or two about packaging. What I put in my hand luggage varies depending on whether I am traveling within the country or abroad. If my domestic flight is delayed or canceled, I can usually buy everything I need, so my carry-on is a bit lighter than when I travel overseas.

I have said “if only I had” too many times. From entertainment to necessities, this is what I always pack in my carry-on for domestic travel. Hope my suggestions will help you on your next adventure!

1. Portable charger power bank

A multifunctional charger will help save your computer, cell phone, tablet and other electronic devices from death. I personally like the Kanex – it has a space for your Apple Watch to charge wirelessly.

2. Charger cables for all your electronic devices

Buy a extra set of charger cables for all your electronic devices that you can simply leave in your travel bag. Also be sure to include a USB wall charger because most airports will have an A / C outlet to plug in.

3. Something to read

I generally don’t pack heavy books or magazines. Instead, I still have my iPad Where Light up To entertain me. I can also watch movies or shows that I downloaded on my iPad.

4. Headphones

Listeners are essential on flights if you want to watch a movie or listen to music, a podcast or a audio book. Don’t leave the house without them!

5. Games

I also like to bring a game to play, like a deck of cards or a travel size cribbage board game. It’s a great way to make friends on the plane or at the gate, and you can still play with your seat mates if you get stuck on the tarmac.

6. TP travel

From time to time, we are known to run out of toilet paper on the plane, as we sometimes find in the terminal. That’s why I always wear travel toilet paper. The pocket bag doesn’t take up a lot of space in your bag and can literally save your behind.

7. Soap and disinfectant

Sometimes the toilet on the plane also runs out of soap. That’s why I always wear soap sheets. They dissolve in water and foam like regular soap. Soap sheets can keep you cool for long periods of time. I also take a washcloth, just in case. Wet wipes and hand sanitizer always useful too.

8. First aid kit

How many times have you needed ibuprofen or a bandage when traveling? Travel first aid kits can come to the rescue in several ways. Make your own from the things you have around the house, or order one online.

Pro tip: Always have prescription medication in your carry-on baggage in case the airline loses your checked baggage.

9. Ziploc bags

I always carry at least a liter and a gallon size Ziploc bag. They’re great for everything from trash to storing leftover food. I have distributed more Ziploc bags to passengers over the years than I can count! They were also helpful to me during my trip. Hotels don’t stock them and vacation rentals rarely do.

10. Zipped fasteners

Zip-up ties are the MacGyver of travel essentials. Use one if a zipper breaks on your bag. Use them to organize cords and wires. You can also use them to hang your tablet on the back of the seat in front of you.

11. Snacks

Another thing I always have in my carry-on are snacks. Liquids can be a safety concern, so try to keep items dry. Some airports require you to place all of your food in security, so dry items would work better.

I make a bag of crackers, hard candies, chocolates, or other small snacks that travel well. Personally, I like to wear peanut butter powder. Just add water and it makes a spread that I can put on my crackers. I prefer PB2, which comes in small packages and is found at Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Amazon, and Target. But if you don’t want to bother with the mixing, the stores also sell small ones. peanut butter compresses. At 1.15 ounces each, they fall under TSA’s 3.4-ounce limit.

12. Bottle of water

I also bring a S’well water bottle refuel after passing through security. My friend who worked there got me one and I love it because it keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. I even have one S’well wine tumbler with a resealable lid. I put my drink in there so I don’t have to worry about my drink spilling.

13. Mixing drinks

Airport drinks are not cheap. Pack your choice of powdered drink mix – Kool-Aid, tea, protein mix, etc., – for an inexpensive alternative to simple water.

14. Plastic utensils and placemat

To eat and on the go, I pack a set of disposable jets or reusable cutlery and a straw. I also use a silicone placemat cover my tablet while I eat. This helps prevent items from slipping.

Bonus: what type of bag I use for my hand luggage

My favorite bag is the Travelpro backpack. This bag is affordable, has a great warranty and is extra large on the inside. Samsonite Also offers great styles of laptop backpack. Mammoth backpacks pull double if you need a cooler on your trip. The Tourist backpack is a more affordable version.

Have a good trip!

The journey awaits you has a host of other tips for travelers, for example:

About Theresa Burton

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