I live my life by one hard and fast rule: If I don’t have to get up for anything in particular, I’m sleeping in as late as possible. To my mother’s dismay, I never grew out of the “this girl sleeps forever” teenage phase, and to this day, I tend to hit snooze as long as I possibly can. But as with all rules, there is one exception. On mornings that I’m scheduled to travel, I’m up and at ’em before the sun rises without a singular complaint. What can I say? There’s something about packing my personal item, getting my silly little airport coffee, and gliding effortlessly along the airport’s moving walks that makes me excited to get out of bed.
Lucky for me, I’ve traveled quite a bit this summer, and I have my personal item packing down to a science. Grab your boarding pass and get ready—here are 10 personal item essentials I always travel with.
1. Travel mug
My first order of business when I get through security? Filling up my travel mug with water. Between the dry airplane cabin and being out of my typical routine, I have a tendency to get dehydrated if I’m not actively striving to stay on top of it. I’ve been loving this Rambler Tumbler from Yeti because it’s big enough to fit a decent amount of water but compact enough that I can fit it into my personal item. It keeps my drinks cold (or hot if I’m using it for coffee) longer than all of my other tumblers and the leak-proof lid allows me to grab and go without the mess. 10/10 recommend.
Sure, sure, there’s a traditional use for headphones at the airport (listening to an audiobook, catching up on your favorite podcasts, jamming out to your favorite Beyoncé album, to name a few). I use my headphones for all of those reasons and more, but most of the time when I’m wearing my over-ear headphones, I’m not listening to anything at all. Hear me out: Headphones are the universal “don’t talk to me” accessory and for that, it earns a must-pack spot in my bag.
3. Travel document organizer
One thing about me? I’m the most careless person I know. It’s not intentional and, if you ask me, it’s ingrained in my DNA. And because I’ve been struggling with being forgetful for the majority of my life, I have plenty of systems in place to keep me in check, like a travel document organizer for instance. I love that this one keeps my boarding pass, ID, and passport accessible and in one place so I don’t have to rifle through my whole personal item multiple times before boarding.
4. TSA-friendly travel capsules
I always keep a few must-have toiletries at my fingertips while traveling. But instead of having a bunch of travel-sized products floating around in my bag, these capsules from Cadence are the perfect alternative. From hand sanitizer to moisturizer to toothpaste and beyond, this is a great solution for keeping fresh, especially on long flights.
Bringing your necessary medications when you travel is a no-brainer, but I’ve been separated from my luggage enough times in life to know that they belong as close to my person as possible. I always keep a pill container of my probiotics, pain relievers, Benadryl, daily antidepressant, and birth control near me so that I know it won’t get lost, and I won’t have to make panicked calls to my doctor if the airline loses my luggage.
I am the queen of bringing five books on vacation and only getting through five singular pages of one novel. Ever since I invested in a Kindle, however, my affinity for stuffing my personal item with one too many books is a thing of the past. I love that I can download hundreds of books as long as I have Wi-Fi and that I don’t need Wi-Fi to enjoy my book on the plane once my book of choice is downloaded.
7. Portable charger
There’s nothing worse than hopping on a plane and settling into your assigned seat, only to find that there is no USB outlet in sight. For long days of travel and plenty of refreshes of your airline app and Google Maps, you’ll need a full battery and a portable charger. I love this iWalk one because you don’t need an additional USB cord to charge your phone. Plus, it’s super tiny, so it packs easily.
8. Tech organizer
Between my phone, laptop, Kindle, portable speaker, portable charger, and Apple Watch, ya girl has accumulated a charger or two. And to avoid a braided web of terror, I have a tech organizer that keeps things neat, tidy, and accessible when I’m looking to charge one of my tech items. I love this one from Calpak because it has elastic loops for cords, plenty of pockets, and a handle (and it’s easy on the eyes).
9. Lightweight jacket or button-down
Planes are either hot, swampy, and muggy or arctic-level cold, and there is no in-between. You’re on your own when it’s balmy, but for times when the hairs on my arms are standing up and my teeth are near-chattering, I always pack a button-down or a lightweight sweatshirt that folds and rolls easily. Even if I don’t use it for that purpose, I’ll end up using it as a makeshift travel pillow.
10. Sleep mask
My ability to nap as soon as I sit down on a plane seat is absolutely comical. I’ll pop on my sleep mask, pass out before takeoff, sleep through the snacks, and wake up as the plane’s wheels touch back down on land. What can I say? I have a gift. I love this silk sleep mask for helping me to block out fluorescent lighting and above-the-clouds sunlight. It’s become a tried and true travel staple over the course of the last few years, and I never travel without it.