What's in My Carry-On for a 48-Hour Trip

All my essentials for quick trips.
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All my essentials for quick trips.
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Travel can be stressful. Between dealing with changing flight information and making sure you didn't leave your belt at the security checkpoint, taking care of yourself usually is the last thing you consider. I often board planes feeling a little rushed, frazzled, and in serious need of either food, sleep, or both. That's why having a thoughtfully-prepared carry-on is so important. A well-packed bag helps alleviate the stress of flying and keeps you well-fed, hydrated, and entertained–whether you're flying two or 12 hours. Since I have some upcoming travel plans, I thought I'd share exactly what I bring in my carry-on:

Tote and cross-body bag: While I use the tote as my main bag, I pack a smaller, cross-body bag inside of it. It keeps my essentials (wallet, passport, ticket) separated from larger tote items and makes it easy to grab if I'm heading to an event shortly after arriving.

iPad: All of my in-flight entertainment and books in one place, without added weight. Plus, I can get some work done if the plane has wifi.

Noise-canceling headphones: I usually ask Geoffrey to make me a playlist before long flights. His favorite music combined with good headphones make me feel like I'm in a cocoon (rather than 30,000 feet above the ground). I tend to feel pretty anxious on flights, and these help me tune out the sounds around me and make me feel safe. 

Eye mask: I use an eye mask for daytime naps, so I can hardly get by without one on a plane. It's especially handy for flying across time zones. This cheerful floral one makes me happy to look at. 

Poncho: I purchased this poncho from Rag & Bone years ago, and reserve it exclusively for traveling. It was well-worth the investment as it's the perfect layering piece and feels almost like I'm wrapped in a blanket. I pack it for every flight I take. It's reversible so I can wear the camel or the black shade depending on my outfit. It's one of those pieces where every time I reach for it, I'm glad I bought it. 

Pen: This is especially useful for filling out custom forms on international flights—you'd be surprised at how few people bring a pen on board. But to avoid using communal pens in general (and all the germs that come with it), I bring my own.

Gum: I'm not a huge gum-chewer normally (unless I have onion in my salad), but I definitely rely on it for flights. It helps not only with fresh breath but also with keeping my ears clear during takeoff and landing. I bring Dentyne Ice in 'Peppermint' since I find other flavors can be too cloying.

Sunglasses: I used to forget these, but they're so valuable in a carry-on. On early flights, I rarely put makeup on (like not even a smidge of mascara), so sunglasses hide that fact. It can also be blindingly bright on some flights, so they're helpful, practically speaking. Lastly, many of my flights land when it's broad daylight, so it's nice to be able to walk right off the plane and continue to conceal my makeup-free face.

Thick, fuzzy socks: I usually travel in flats, so that I can slide them off easily at security (unless I'm flying somewhere particularly cold like New York, in which case I'll wear booties). Since the air conditioning is usually on full-blast on flights, I keep socks in my carry on so that I can slide into them after take-off. But please note that's not an excuse to pad around the entire airplane (bathroom included) in socks only. 

Snack bar: I almost always buy a salad at the airport, but I also keep an "emergency" snack bar in my bag in case I'm running late and can't buy food, or for those times when my plane is held on the tarmac for an extra few hours. There's nothing worse than being hungry with no access to food. While I prefer something like trail mix for snacking, it's worth it to me to have something I don't have to put my fingers into to eat, since who knows what all I've touched at the airport.

Cosmetics pouch: While I keep most of my cosmetics in my checked bag, I like to keep a few things for touch-ups on hand in my carry-on. I keep them in this bright red bag from Cuyana, which I love because it's easy to spot in my bottomless tote, and the monogram makes it feel that much more special. Below is a breakdown of everything I keep inside.

Hand sanitizer: I'm not as much of a germaphobe as some people on our team (hi, Alina), but it's almost impossible not to get grossed-out when traveling. I use hand sanitizer after security and using the bathroom since I'm not entirely convinced the foam soap in most planes actually works. 

Lavender wipes: As soon as I find my seat, the first thing I do is wipe down the arm rests and tray. It helps me feel like my space for the next however many hours is clean(ish).

Tissues: As a mom, I carry tissues and wipes with me pretty much everywhere I go now, but they're never so needed as on a plane. It's so easy to throw a cute little packet into my bag—and means I don't have to get a red nose from scratchy airline toilet paper. 

Face Mask: Few things are as dehydrating to the skin as a flight, so I always make sure to have one of these on hand to put on first thing post-flight (or while in the air depending on how much I want to creep out fellow passengers).

Caudalie Beauty Elixir: I keep this refreshing mist in my bag for combating recycled airplane air. It comes in a one-ounce travel size that I spritz throughout the flight to reduce dullness and keep my skin relatively hydrated. 

Roller Ball Perfume: I never want to smell like I've just gotten off an airplane, so having a small scent in my bag is a great option once we land. Whenever I find a perfume I love, I buy a roller ball version so that I have a variety to choose from for flights. 

W3ll People Bio Brightening Stick: I wrote about this product months ago in a Find of the Week (it had a slightly different look then, but produces the same beautiful, bright result). Even when I'm not wearing zero makeup on a flight, I'll apply it before landing for an instant sun-kissed glow.

Concealer: I also make sure to have a tube of concealer with me for touch-ups, since travel can make me feel (and look), well, dead.

Labello lip balm in 'Soft Rose': I like bringing lip balm on the plane that doesn't require having to dunk my finger into it. Labello, which is made by a German brand but available on Amazon, is currently my favorite option because it nourishes while providing the prettiest flushed-rose tint. 

Advil and Emergen-C: Unless I'm sick, I rarely travel with any medication aside from Advil and Emergen-C. As soon as I get through security, I buy a bottle of water and mix a packet of Emergen-C into it. I'm not sure if it actually works, but it makes me feel better.

Hair Clip: I almost always travel with a hair tie around my wrist, but I've also recently started making an effort to bring a cute hair clip as well. It's a sweet, feminine detail that can elevate any ratty post-airplane hair. 

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