Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Pack the Perfect Carry-On for International Travel

In this picture... Kate Spade bag, scarf from Nordstrom, sunglasses from Bartell Drugs, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen, Burt's Bees Honey & Grapeseed Hand Cream, Visconti Wallet, Sony Alpha NEX-5T camera, Chocolate Mexicano's Cacao Puro, planner from Barnes  & Noble, journal from shop in China, Butter London lip gloss in Chuffed, compact mirror from Forever21, Betsey Johnson pen.  
Confession time: I have a thing about carry-ons. Fun (and slightly embarrassing) fact: I love looking at pictures of celebrities/models at the airport- you know, the ones who are dressed to the nines even though they're flying from LA to Japan and will be seated in the air for hours on end. But I love the fact that there are some people in the world who don't just throw on sweats and a tank top and huddle up with matted hair for the entire flight.

When air travel first became a possibility, it was far more expensive than it is today, so passengers were usually upper or upper-middle class. People dressed up because flying was a special occasion. And honestly, why shouldn't it be? I get excited however far I'm flying, because it means I get to travel somewhere. And usually the longer the flight, the more exotic the locale! I love this article about 6 reasons I dress up on planes, which just sort of brings the point home. And it's funny. But I digress. Fashionable flying- it's a thing. I've heard that it can even help you score a seat upgrade because people perceive you as more important when you're dressed well, but I've never tried this so I can't say for sure.

Anyways, part of looking stylish even though you'll be stuck on an airplane forever is finding the perfect carry-on. By the way, I'm talking strictly international travel here- you need more entertainment and "travel junk" (things like toothpaste or a compact mirror) on a 22 hour journey than on a simple flight from Seattle to New York. Your carry-on shouldn't just look good, but it should serve you well on your journey.

First, obviously, there's the matter of the bag. It needs to be something easy to carry and stow under your seat, but big enough to provide for your needs for the next however-many hours. And for the whole fashionable-flyer thing to work, it needs to be something that goes with a variety of outfits.

In high school I didn't have a really nice bag for travel, so I would use my school varsity bag. Although this wasn't super glamorous, it looked kinda impressive because it said VARSITY ATHLETE and fit all my crap inside it. Plus, I could swing it over my shoulder or carry it by the handles (really convenient when you're standing in line and just want to drag your bag along the floor to ease your sore shoulders, which I have definitely done very un-glamorously).

But I didn't have to use this bag for long because after my high school graduation my parents gifted me with this amazing Kate Spade Holly Street Jeanne tote in grey (which is the bag in the first picture in this post). The idea was that, as I was headed to a business school and hopefully going to start working or get some kind of internship (check!), I would need a bag for my adventures. This bag is the perfect size because it fits my laptop (a MacBook Air, literally the BEST computer ever. It's PRETTY, which I need in a computer- priorities, right?- as well as tiny and light). It has a shoulder strap and handles, and it fits everything I need inside.

But wait, what DO I need?

What to Pack for the Perfect Carry-On
(sorry boys but this mostly applies to women...)

- Sunglasses, for a few reasons. First of all, you might actually need them on the way to or from the airport, and if you pack them in your checked luggage they're more likely to get crushed on the way to your destination. Plus... they make you look like a bit like a celebrity. ;)

- A light scarf. It's versatile and can keep you warm if the airport or airplane has the AC cranked. I had a layover at Narita in Japan this past January, and though I don't know what the weather was like outside, inside it was FREEZING. I was soooo grateful for the scarf I'd brought, in addition to the sweater and jacket I'd already donned over my dress. Wear layers, people.

- WATER. Yes, you will have to get up to use the bathroom on the flight, but that's better than having your skin get all tight and dry because you've hardly had anything to drink for several hours, or arriving to your destination and being exhausted due to dehydration.

- Healthy snacks, like almonds, apple slices or carrots. Organic dark chocolate is critical if you want to stay sane, plus having something that tastes good will help you be less tempted to eat the weird things they try and pass off as food in-flight.

- Compact mirror. Because sometimes you need to put in contact lenses, apply lipstick or check your hair before you get off the plane.

- Chapstick or lip gloss, whichever you prefer, and concealer. It's generally not a good idea to wear makeup on the actual flight, just as you wouldn't wear it to bed, but it's nice if you're going to get off the plane and need to touch up quickly. A lot of people recommend bringing disposable face wipes, but in my opinion that's wasteful. Splashing your face with tap water is just as efficient and you're not creating any trash!

- Deodorant, because again, sometimes you need to touch up during a layover or before you get out into the airport at your destination. I actually use these salt crystal things instead, but my point is, you don't want your fellow passengers to wrinkle their noses every time you pass them.

- Toothpaste, floss and a travel toothbrush. Brushing your teeth during a layover can make you feel so much more awake and less nasty, I can't recommend this enough.

- Unscented lotion for your hands and face I wish I could say scented but in general no one will be happy with your if you pull out your Victoria's Secret perfumed lotion on a flight because the scent will NOT leave the aisle for the next several hours. Also, some people are allergic to the chemicals in commercial perfumes. Don't be responsible for someone else's allergic reaction! On this note, also don't bring peanuts on a plane.

- Some kind of e-reader, whether that be a Nook, Kindle, iPad or whatever else they have these days. Mine says Nexus on the back of it... I think it's just called a tablet? Yikes, me and technology. Anyways, I would prefer to bring a novel but realistically, you can fit more books on an e-reader. If you're a fast reader like me, this means you won't have to worry about finishing your novel and being bored afterwards.

- A magazine. This is for entertainment, but there are usually pretty good movies (and sometimes even newer ones) in-flight these days, so this is not a crucial item.

- Phone because obviously.

- iPod and noise-cancelling headphones. I got Beats for Christmas and they are by far and away the BEST headphones I've ever used. Screaming child next to you? Nosy woman who won't stop trying to piece together your life story...then wants to tell you hers? Nasally student who has never flown before and keeps chattering about all the plane crashes he's read about? Nothing is inherently wrong with these people, but sometimes you just want some peace and quiet. Or good music. Either way, good headphones are a MUST. Oh, and good travel music!

- Along that vein, an eye mask (sometimes referred to as a sleep mask) is really helpful if you just want to go to sleep, because it tricks your brain into thinking it's nighttime. Choose one in silk or satin so it's not as rough on your skin.

- Also make sure you have your plane ticket, ID, passport, and any other travel documents on hand AT ALL TIMES.

I guess that's about it... Have you got any other tips or tricks for finding the perfect carry-on? Let me know in the comments! :)

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