Packing for a recent flight, a friend stuck their head around my door and found me lining up the contents of my cabin bag. Like a surgeon laying out their instruments, or more aptly, like a crazy person laying out the contents of their neighbour's trash, I had placed my belongings in neat rows and categories. I was so engrossed in my careful curation; I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw her. She backed away slowly, and I kept arranging, only stopping to howl at the full moon.
Okay, the full moon part isn’t true, but the rest happened. As a travel blogger and digital nomad, I’ve learnt a thing or two about packing a cabin bag for a long-haul flight, and I do harbour a deep appreciation of a well-packed bag. That said, here are my must-haves for my cabin bag.
Forgetting lip balm on a long-haul flight is a mistake you only make once. Like babies and fireworks, lips don’t fly well. If you’re four hours into a ten-hour flight and you’ve forgotten a nice moisturising lip balm, you will feel its absence. Forget your balm and four hours in, your lips will feel like two slugs that have crawled onto your chin and died. Forget about a cute red lipstick at your destination because what comes next is a chapped, flaky horror show. Girls, pack your chapstick and do it now.
A good rule of thumb: When you’re at the whim of someone else choosing what temperature you’re going to sit in for hours then take a pullover. This is especially true when flying between two summer destinations. You might think wearing a summer dress is perfect for hitting the beach as soon as you clear customs. Your pilot, however, is trying to relive a recent vacation to the Arctic Circle and has adjusted the temperature as such. My tip? Pack a light scarf or throw, and use it as a blanket. If you want to be a bit snooty about it, make it Cashmere.
There is a time and a place for fiddly little headphones. Long-haul flights are not it. A good pair of headphones, whether they are sound cancelling or over-ear are an absolute must for your cabin baggage. Screaming babies turn into soothing melodies. The guy snoring next to you turns into a private dance party, and if you’re a nervous flier, pop on your headphones and you’re on a beach somewhere sunny.
There are two types of people in the world: those who carry around a truckload of ‘just in case’ things and those who fly fancy-free with a cabin bag that doesn’t weigh as much as a small child. I am firmly in the first category and carry around a selection of emergency things. What’s in the bag? Mini deodorant, painkillers, a hair tie, comb, lady products, throat lozenges and a spare pair of underwear. If you’re ever surprised with an unplanned layover or a night in the airport, that little bag will be your life saver.
Imagine being trapped in a metal tube high above the earth with not a single snack in sight. Your tummy is rumbling. The man next to you is stuffing himself with M&M’s and doesn’t offer you a single one. Sounds like a nightmare, right? (#nosnacksonaplane) There’s a reason you’re allowed to take seven kilos of cabin luggage - It’s for snacks. I like to take a bag of Maltesers, eat them all, and then feel sick for the remainder of the flight.
With a bit of forethought and an empty bottle, you can avoid being the person on the plane ringing for the flight attendant every 30 minutes asking for a glass of water. Most international flights have strict rules on liquids, but an empty bottle (even a big one!) is perfectly fine. When you’ve cleared security, fill that baby up at a tap and say hello to a nice hydrated flight.
If all this makes you think: ‘I need a bigger bag’. You’re welcome. I’ve just given you an excellent excuse to go bag shopping. Whatever you do, don’t forget your passport - You’re going to need that.
Described as ‘chronically dissatisfied with the mundane’ by all who know her, Jo Fraser is a travel writer and digital nomad. When at home in Brisbane, you will find her trying to make cats love her or throwing back black coffees in a bid to stay perky. Follow her blog here.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the PDS available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.