My Ultimate in-Flight Starter Pack

Photo by Marissa Grootes

After 6 years of traveling almost full-time, I can confidently say that I now master the In-Flight Essentials – what to pack in your carry-on or accessory for a plane ride.

If you’re like me, then you have a tendency to be an over-packer. I learned the hard way that packing too many things result in overweight luggage that is really hard to carry around, having to restrain myself from buying souvenirs because they won’t fit on the way back, and the guilt of not wearing half of the outfits that I packed. 

I always figured “better safe than sorry” when it came to packing. Better have too much than finding I need something in the middle of my trip and not having it. 

Well, turns out, that we – human beings – were born with the faculty to THINK. We actually have the inner ability to pack only what we need. 

Believe it or not, now I don’t overpack anymore. The only things I bring “in case” are a couple of medicines, bandaids, and an umbrella – depends on where I’m going – 

I personally LOVE flying and having everything I need to make a flight more enjoyable is a chance I will never miss. Why would I only rely on a plane screen for my entertainment? In the past, I was on a 12-hour flight from Paris to San Francisco and my screen was broken. It sucked. Big time. And if I had my in-flight starter pack figured out then, my experience would have been much better.

So let me break it down for you, we’ve got:

• The Administrative Essentials
• The Sleeping Essentials
• The Entertainment Essentials
• The Eco-Friendly Essentials
• The Hygiene Essentials
• The Emergency Essentials
• The Electronics Essentials

Stay tuned at the end of this post for a FREE downloadable checklist. Let’s get into it!

The Administrative Essentials

I consider the Administrative Essentials everything passport and legal documents:

Passport – duh!

Another form of ID – I usually also bring my driver’s license or French national ID to prove that I’m French in case I lose my passport.

Visa – if applicable: technically, visas are electronic and/or in your passport but I always like to have a physical copy with me.

Copies – speaking of copies, I print copies of all of these important documents and I also have an email folder in my inbox with scans. That way, I can access them wherever I’m at.

A pen – depending on where you’re going, you will likely have to fill out forms on the plane. Having your own pen makes all the difference, especially in times of pandemics.

Wallet – that goes without saying!

The Sleeping Essentials

My sleeping essentials are the most important things for me to have on a flight. Being able to have a good few hours of sleep is super important, and trust me – DOABLE. If you follow my instructions, you will definitely get a few hours of sleep in.

Sleeping mask – sleep free of distractions and force yourself to keep your eyes closed. Being in the dark always helps me sleep. If you wear a sleeping mask, you’re in control! You can shop them from my small sewing business.

Earplugs – I personally always sleep with a white sound machine at home, but the aircraft’s machinery is way too loud. With earplugs, they will be strongly softened and will help you fall asleep.

Travel pillow – keep in mind that the goal isn’t to replicate the feeling of sleeping in your own bed with your own pillow, but avoid your head from dropping, support your neck and prevent a sore neck when you wake up: get a memory foam travel pillow and wear it sideways. 

Warm socks – if your feet are cold, your whole body will be too. Keeping your feet warm will warm up your whole body and help you fall asleep faster.

Melatonin – obviously, this one depends on a lot of things: where you are traveling from and to, how you handle melatonin, etc. I personally take 1 or 2 melatonin pills when I’m on a long-haul flight, right after the meal.

The Entertainment Essentials

Do yourself a favor, don’t let your in-flight entertainment solely rely on the seat’s screen. It gets old quickly, and what if you don’t like the movie selection? Here are the Entertainment Essentials that you should bring with you on board:

Music playlists, Netflix episodes, Podcasts, Audiobooks – pick your poison! I always take time to make playlists and download a few episodes of my favorite shows on Netflix, podcasts, and an audiobook. The movie selection on flights isn’t always to my taste. 

A book or an e-reader – I literally swear by my e-reader because it’s so lightweight and easy to carry around when traveling. I can choose what book I want at any time and read even with no lights on.

A couple of snacks – Don’t bring too many. You probably won’t eat them all. I like to bring a little apple sauce along with some M&Ms, a granola bar, or a PB sandwich. Something to keep me full and energized. 

The Eco-Friendly Essentials

Traveling by plane has a serious impact on our ecosystem, therefore it’s all the more important to find ways to compensate the best we can. If I can afford it, I usually pay for compensating for my CO2 emission, but there are other ways to do so. Some of them are:

Reusable coffee cup – I like to carry a reusable coffee cup because I drink a lot of coffee in airports. Once, I had a layover by myself for 14 hours and drank 7 coffees… I was super happy with myself for using my reusable cup. 

Reusable water bottle – more than 75% of plastic water bottles end up in the water instead of the recycle bin. They are also a thousand times more expensive than filling up your own. Don’t forget to empty it before TSA, most airports have fresh water fountains past security. 

Check out my Favorite Sustainable Travel Products!

The Hygiene Essentials

Having my Hygiene Essentials while flying is exactly that – essential. I may be traveling but I don’t want to feel sticky and sweaty. I usually go to the restroom to freshen up a couple of hours before landing or at the airport if I have a layover. I find the travel experience much more enjoyable if I’m clean and fresh!

Here are my favorite products that I all carry in travel-size in a pouch:

Wet wipes – to freshen up parts of my body that need it: basically a dry shower – lol

Deodorant – to use after using wet wipes.

Hand sanitizer – because I hate the smell of airport ones.

Pads or period protection – we never know…

Travel toothbrush & toothpaste – my absolute essentials. It’s the best feeling!

Hand cream – if you’re like me and you have dry skin, it gets worst when flying. 

Lip balm – same as hand cream: my lips get super dry while in the air.

2 reusable cotton pads – to clean up my face while being eco-friendly.

Travel size cleanser – because my skin doesn’t deserve to feel sticky.

Moisturizer – the answer to my all-time dry skin problem – lol

You can also take a look at my post on how to make the most of your beauty products when traveling for more resources on traveling more consciously and efficiently. 

The Emergency Essentials

I don’t wish an emergency upon anyone, but your flight could be canceled, your luggage could be delayed or lost, and it’s better to come at least a little bit prepared, don’t you think? 

At least 1 backup outfit – if somehow your checked suitcase is delayed or lost, having at least one outfit to change into after the well-deserved post-flight shower will go a long way. Trust my experience!

Photos of luggage – not enough people do this! But if the airline loses your luggage, it’s important to have proof of what’s in it for insurance purposes.  

The Electronics Essentials

Let’s be honest, what would we do without electronics? I hate it as much as you do, but I would be lying to you and myself if I told you I’m not addicted to my phone and my laptop. Also, as a content creator and a former student, I’m used to having a lot on my plate. Using my time wisely when traveling made me so productive. Once, I even wrote an entire essay in Spanish on a flight from Stockholm to Los Angeles!

Laptop – when you travel, you never really know what’s gonna happen, especially if you’re flying. Your flight could be delayed, canceled, rerouted, etc. Having your laptop will allow you to get some work done, and watch videos, which basically will be a productive pastime. Plus, it’s actually pretty risky to put your laptop in your checked luggage. Don’t forget to use a VPN!

AirPods – this is seriously one of the best inventions, not only for working out but also for traveling. Trust my broke 18-year-old past on this. How many times have I dropped my phone because I need to get up on a flight, struggled to show my boarding pass because the wires are in the way…

Chargers – we all know how cool electronics are. But why haven’t they made phones and laptops that don’t need to be charged yet? – lol – don’t forget your chargers!

Wired earphones – trust me, I have traveled with many airlines, and not all of them offer complimentary earphones for you to use on your seat’s screen. In the era of AirPods, I hope you kept your old smartphones’ wired earphones. If you did, bring them on your next flight!


And to make sure you are fully ready for your flight, especially if it’s a long-haul, make sure to check out my blog post on How to Survive a Long-Haul Flight

Once again, I can’t thank you enough for reading me and giving me the energy to show up every single week. I truly love what I do and it means so much to know that my readers do too. So thank you!

Let’s connect on Instagram and be friends!

Published by Romane Drake

French 24 year-old living abroad in Las Vegas, Nevada. I teach others to take the leap of faith and live their most extraordinary life. My mission is to guide you and inspire you to travel, get out there and explore.

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