10 Things You Must Pack

If you think packing for a trip is a chore, this is for you: A list of essentials plus two useful how-to videos that will turn you into a packing pro.

A list of what not to pack.

LISTEN: What does Rick Seaney pack? Find out.

10 Things to Pack

  1. Hydration kit: Think of your plane as a dehydration chamber. The solution is to drink lots of water so bring an empty bottle from home to fill up past security (many airports have refill stations). Toss a ChapStick plus a cap for sunny days at your destination.
  2. Electronic devices, chargers, entertainment: We love books but they take up a lot of space so add your favorites to your phone or tablet, along with movies and games for the kids. And charger cords, because devices have a sneaky way of dying on you at the most inconvenient times (which is why we say print out boarding passes even if they’re already on your phone). Keep charger cords on your person and consider a portable charger, too.
  3. Cash and cards: If you want to buy a snack or meal on a plane, you’ll need a card. Cash is undeniably handy, too though it’s easy to forget in the frenzy of last-minute packing. Tip: If you’ll be heading to another country, go to the bank and get a couple of hundred dollars’ worth of local currency so you can hit the ground running.
  4. Documents and photos: Again, print your boarding pass and save it along with any luggage tags just in case there’s a problem with your flight or bags. If traveling internationally, photocopy your passport, carry a couple of extra passport photos and keep them separate from the original; it will be useful if you have to go to an embassy or consulate for an emergency replacement.
  5. Snacks: You may not get hungry on that hour-and-a-half long flight from Dallas to Denver but short hops have been known to drag on for hours due to weather or mechanical problems so always carry granola or power bars or similar portable snack. Better to be prepared than starve.
  6. Zip bags for packing: We like the sit & zip method of packing and think you will, too. See how easy it is in the :30 video below.
  7. Clothes you’ll really wear: The key word is comfort. Only pack clothes you love, that fit, and that look good on you; if one of those three ingredients is lacking, it’ll just be a waste of space. Follow a similar color scheme so the top from one outfit goes with the pants from another. As for shoes, try to limit yourself to two pairs you know are comfy; pack one, wear the other.
  8. Bathing suit: Even if you’re not heading to the beach, toss a suit in your bag; there may be a pool at the hotel or a trip to a lake. A suit takes up almost no room and weighs next to nothing.
  9. Eye wear: Sunglasses are not just a fashion accessory. Do you wear regular glasses? Pack an extra pair. Contacts? Don’t forget the solution.
  10. Health essentials: Pack vitamins, daily medications, maybe some aspirin and upset stomach remedies plus a few Band-Aids. Complete the mini-first aid kit with hand-sanitizer wipes and use them on seatback tray table, widely regarded as the most germ-ridden part of any plane.

5 Things You Might Want to Pack

  1. Gadgets and selfie sticks: If you’re not sure about bringing a GoPro camera, check out the videos here. As for selfie sticks, collapsible models are easiest to pack but remember, they’re not welcome everywhere (like Disney properties).
  2. GoPro camera: Amateur Spielbergs use these put-them-anywhere cameras to good use (see some excellent videos on the GoPro site). Pack carefully!
  3. Noise-canceling headphones: I don’t get on a plane without mine and not just for the music; it shuts out screaming babies so I can get some sleep.
  4. Disposable poncho: Perfect for the great outdoors. A plastic poncho-in-a-pouch is perfect for packing since it won’t take up much room (you can stick it in a shoe and still have room for socks). Find them at most big box drugstores for $5 or less.
  5. Favorite apps: We suggest Eventurist. Sit on the plane and plan your next dream trip.

Above all, pack a little patience. You never know when a flight can be delayed or canceled.

Packing Videos

 VIDEO #1: Packing with the Sit &  Zip method.

VIDEO #2: Pack all the essentials.

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Updated: March 11, 2016