a passport and water bottle with headphones

Everyone has their own special pre-airport routine. For most, it usually goes something like phone-keys-wallet-passport and just hope you didn’t forget anything essential. That’s part of mine, but it’s less than half.

While that may sound stressful, it’s also why I find that I’m rarely stressed when in transit.

As someone who often spends more time in airports than at home, there are things I’ve learned that I just cannot be comfortable travelling without, for more reasons than can be counted, like ketchup stains. Here’s what they are, and why they may be game changers for your travels too.

a passport and water bottle with headphonesQuality Face Moisturizer

Continuing with the dehydration theme, planes are one of the worst places for your skin. Having a quality daytime moisturizer under 100ml allows you to combat the effects of dry airplane air and arrive looking like less of a train wreck than others.

Your skin will thank you, as will loved ones or potential suitors! My pick: the Hydration Vaccine.

Bluetooth Adapter For The Plane

Even the newest airplanes haven’t really caught up with the times, which means that if you want to watch something on an airline screen – you need to plug your headphones in. That’s okay if your headphones have a plug – not so much if they don’t.

This year I finally learned about wireless bluetooth adapters you can plug into the headphone jack, which then beam the signal to your personal favorite wireless earbuds. I’ll never leave home without them again.

Wireless USB Power Bank

Airports, hotels, cars and airplanes are getting better about offering power ports, but they’re hardly standard.

One of the greatest travel FOMO’s comes from that moment your phone hits the “red” and there are people you want to talk to. A good portable, rechargeable USB charger will run about $20 and is worth every cent.

a black device with a plug inT2 Tea/Water Bottle

When it comes to caffeination or hydration, don’t play on other peoples terms. Flying is one of the most dehydrating activities in the world, so bringing your own water bottle, which you can refill at will is huge.

Drink your tea or coffee on the way to the airport, empty it for security and then refill at any bar, coffee shop or restaurant in the terminal. Side note: the T2 can keep things hot or cold for more than 4 hours, so a cup of tea will last an entire flight!

Offline Media Content

Don’t trust airplane wifi. Don’t trust airplane entertainment. Occasionally you may hit a home run, but quite often what’s put in front of you isn’t quite what you’re looking for. There’s only one way to solve that.

Get Netflix, Hulu, Prime, or your favourite podcast and download it offline. If you do, it doesn’t matter what happens with the wifi, or what someone in an office decided to show you on the seat in front of you.

Spare Socks, T Shirt, Undies

Three things you’ll always find in my carry on are a spare set of every essential from socks to undies to t-shirts.

You never know when you’ll be stuck overnight without your main bag, so having a back up to keep you feeling fresh is essential. Plus, I spill ketchup on myself all the time. So there’s that…

a hand holding a box with a picture of a dripperV60 Coffee Setup

A V60 coffee setup may sound like a part on NASA rocket, but it’s incredibly basic. It’s just a nice way of creating filtered coffee, and takes up virtually no room. All you need? Boiled water, ideally just about 30 seconds after it’s boiled. Get some fresh beans and stay well caffeinated wherever you are. Getting setup is like $12 bucks…

A Simple Dark Blazer Or Bomber Jacket

I swear this is one of the best unisex items to pack. I’m a jeans and t-shirt type person, but a blazer instantly changes that from laid back slouch to modern business casual, opening the door to bars or restaurants with strict dress policies.

It’s easier than packing a separate suit, or “going out” outfit but usually gets the job done just as well. Basically, it saves space. Bluffworks makes wrinkle free options.

Mobile Fitness App

From FIIT to 7 Minute Workout, there are so many cool apps which get you a sweat without the need for equipment or even a trip to the hotel gym. These apps are effective enough, but simple enough to work out in your room.

Downloading these apps in advance allows you to rest assured that you can stimulate the body in even the tightest of settings, without needing to seek out classes, trainers or anything. Not that that’s a bad thing…

a man standing in an airplaneUniversal Power Adapter

Some things just don’t plug in to a USB. When you’re traveling, especially throughout Europe, outlets can change by the country. For comfort sake, it’s just great to have a simple universal adapter.

These adapters come in smaller sizes than ever, and at under $40, they’re a real gem. Few things suck like not being able to watch Netflix because your computer died.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

It’s no secret that I have strong opinions about babies on planes. For anyone that doesn’t know: that opinion is that they have equal right to be there.

Babies can’t buy noise cancelling headphones for themselves – but you can. I love Bose QC35 II for over ear, Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus or RHA wireless for in ear but lots of people love Bang & Olufsen.

Essential Number Backup

I’m one of the weirdos who has their passport, credit card and frequent flyer numbers memorized. Yet even with that, I’m never comfortable with the idea of being stuck without access to funds, or help if my passport is stolen.

I keep a secure backup of any details which might be handy, should my wallet, passport or anything else go missing. It’s also good to photocopy your passport and keep it with you.

Bonus: A Swimsuit

Travel is about fun and pools are fun. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been somewhere and heard “I wish I brought a swimsuit” when a jaw dropping pool, or just “a” pool unveils itself.

Bring a swimsuit, because swimming is fun, and if you run out of underwear… no judgement.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I realize you are a man and are writing this from that perspective but it would have been fantastic to include an option of a recommended wrinkle free woman’s blazer.

    I also like to include a mini med kit in my carry on so I don’t have to hunt down Advil, or decongestant in a foreign airport. Just a little ziploc with band aids, some meds, antacid.

  2. You’re a bit behind the times when it comes to nose cancelling headphones, the new king on the hill are the Sony WH1000XM3. B&O are way behind in terms of noise cancelling, although quite comfortable even after extended wear.

  3. Awesome list! I’ve had airplane ear issues in the past so I always bring a decongestant or nasal spray with me whenever I travel.

  4. I have had a copy of my passport, driving licence and essential numbers saved on my Gmail account in a draft email. This you can access From anywhere with internet connection.

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