What can I bring on an airplane – travel essentials you should never forget
Wherever you are travelling to and however long you are staying, there are always certain items you should never forget to include on your travel essentials checklist. If you are fairly new to travelling or are perhaps travelling abroad for the first time, you may be wondering ‘what can I bring on an airplane?’ or ‘what can I pack in my suitcase for air travel?’.
These are smart questions to ask, as what you include on your international travel packing list will depend on your luggage allowance. If your trip is fairly short – a week or under – you may wish to travel with hand luggage only to avoid having to pay for extra luggage. If however you know you can’t pack light, you like to have outfit options, your trip is slightly longer (over a week) or you are travelling in winter (with larger, bulkier clothes), you will likely want to check in your luggage at the airport.
In this article we’ve listed out the essentials to include for both of these scenarios, plus what to pack in the handbag or backpack that you will be travelling with. We hope you find them useful!
Travel essentials to include in your backpack or handbag
When asking ‘what can I bring on an airplane?’, of course you are going to want to keep your most valuable and personal possessions as close to you, and as safe as possible. To save on space, the backpack or handbag you choose to take on the plane should also be the one you will be using as your day bag throughout your trip, so it should be fairly roomy and comfortable to carry.
If you are planning on travelling with hand luggage only, it is important to check the luggage policy of the airline you are travelling with as some are fairly strict about bringing only one piece of hand luggage. To get around this, you can simply pop your backpack or handbag into your hand luggage suitcase before boarding your flight – just make sure you don’t overpack your hand luggage suitcase to allow room for this!
These are the essentials we recommend including in your backpack or handbag:
- Your travel documents – your passport, boarding passes (if these are not on your phone), insurance policy (this will have been emailed to you but you may find it reassuring to bring a printed copy), and any necessary visa documents you may require.
- Money – While these days it is very easy to withdraw money abroad, it is always advisable to convert and bring some local currency with you ahead of your trip, as it can be expensive to withdraw money at the airport when you arrive in destination.
- Sunglasses and spare pair of glasses, if you are a spectacles wearer.
- An e-reader or book – To enjoy while on the plane and throughout your trip.
- Headphones – To listen to music, audiobook or podcast. If you are travelling long haul and want to be super prepared with your travel essential checklist, you may wish to also bring a converter that allows you to plug your headphones into the plane’s audio system, as the headphones provided usually tend to be fairly poor quality.
- Any Medication you may require throughout the course of the flight.
- A reusable water bottle – Pondering ‘what can I bring on an airplane?’. Don’t forget your reusable water bottle! Most airports will have water fountains you can fill up your bottle with once you are past security (most airports will not allow you through security with a full bottle of water).
- Snacks – Buying snacks on the plane can be quite expensive, it is far more cost effective to bring your own.
- A spare jumper and scarf or pashmina – Planes can get quite chilly. Especially if you are travelling long haul and asking ‘what can I bring on an airplane?’, a scarf is an absolute international travel packing list essential.
- E-cigarette – If are an e-cigarette smoker or vaper, it is important to remember that these items cannot be packed in your checked luggage and can be carried as hand luggage only.
Travel essentials if you are travelling with hand luggage only
Wondering ‘what can I pack in my suitcase for air travel?’ but want to travel light? You can fit a deceivingly large amount of stuff in a hang luggage suitcase if you pack smart. To save space, many people opt to fold instead of roll their clothes, whilst investing in packing cubes could also help you maximise space in your hand luggage.
When planning your travel essentials checklist for a hand luggage suitcase, what you bring will depend on the temperature of the destination you are visiting, and what you plan to do there. If for example you are going on a hiking holiday or planning on doing lots of physical outdoor activities, we would recommend wearing your walking boots or bulkier shoes to travel in, so as to save space in your bag. If you are visiting a cold destination, you will also want to travel in your heavy coat as otherwise this will take up valuable space in your hand luggage.
The below is a guide to the essentials you should include:
- 1-2 pairs of shoes – Try and keep shoes to a minimum as they take up space. You can also maximise space by stuffing your socks or underwear into your shoes.
- 1 pair of pyjamas or sleeping clothes
- Enough underwear for each day of your trip
- A towel – If you are going on a beach holiday in particular, you will want to bring a towel. Opt for a lightweight option like a Turkish towel, as these fold up very small and dry very quickly.
- 2 pairs of trousers – you could go for a more casual option, and a smarter option.
- 2 dresses or skirts – Try and go for versatile designs that can be dressed up or down.
- 3 tops / shirts
- A spare jumper
- A lightweight raincoat – Only if it is likely to rain in the destination you are visiting.
- Chargers – For your mobile phone, e-reader, camera, iPad or laptop.
- Adapters – Make sure you check the correct adapters required for the destination you are visiting.
- Spare camera batteries – Due to containing lithium ion, it is usually policy that spare camera batteries (or batteries for portable electronic devices, e-cigarettes etc) can be carried as hand luggage only.
- Travel size toiletries – Before a flight may people find themselves asking ‘can I bring travel size toiletries on a plane?’. If you are travelling with hand luggage only, you are only permitted to bring travel size toiletries, i.e. liquids that are under 100ml. You can buy these in the airport once you have passed through security, but it is easier (and cheaper) to prep these in advance. Our advice? Buy travel size reusable bottles online and then simply fill these up with your favourite products.
Travel essentials if you have checked luggage
If you are planning on checking in your luggage at the airport, you have a lot more freedom when it comes to your international travel packing list. However, the best advice is not to overpack. Many people find that the best way to avoid over packing, is to pack a few days in advance of your trip. Then take another good hard look at what you have packed, and pull out any items you packed simply for packing sake. If you don’t wear it in everyday life or if you’ve packed something ‘just in case’, chances are it is not necessary.
When it comes to asking ‘what can I bring on an airplane?’ for your checked luggage, opt for the less is more approach. After all, you’ll want to leave plenty of space in your suitcase for all the incredible souvenirs you are likely to pick up on your travels. As such, we recommend using the above carry on travel essentials checklist as a guide, adding to the number of items required depending on the length of your stay, the climate you are visiting, and what you plan on doing in destination. In addition to this list, you may also want to consider packing:
- A travel medical kit or hygiene kit – It is always useful to come prepared with a medical or hygiene kit containing plasters, antihistamine, blister plasters, antiseptic cream, spare antibacterial hand gel, pain relief medication and the like.
- A power board – If you are travelling with a lot of tech, you may wish to bring a power board along with you to ensure everything can be charged at the same time.
- Normal size toiletries – If you are checking in your luggage, the answer to the question ‘can I bring travel size toiletries on a plane?’ is, these are not necessary. You can simply bring along your normal size toiletries, but again try to consider what you actually need and use on a daily basis.
Have we missed anything off our travel essentials checklists? Or what essentials would you include if someone asked you ‘what can I bring on an airplane?’. Let us know in the comments below!