So I’ve been keeping a big secret but now I’m going to dish…I’m headed back to Paris in October!! I already have a long list of things I want to see and do, and it’s going to be a very full and fun week! It’s been years since I’ve been there at the height of autumn, and I’m so excited.
As I get closer to departure, I’ll share my travel wardrobe. Usually I travel carry-on, but in a couple of instances have had to gate check my wheeled bag because of full flights and lack of overhead bin space. (Most recently on my way home from Seattle.) So I’ve been thinking more about what will get packed in my suitcase vs. my “personal item,” and what I need to be sure to keep handy for a long flight.
In addition to medications and key toiletries (moisturizer, eye drops, hand lotion, toothbrush/toothpaste…all part of my TSA liquids bag) here are 5 things I’ll be sure are packed in my hand baggage:
5 In-Flight Amenities
- A cashmere wrap. No matter what time of year I’m traveling, I find that airplane cabins can be freezing. And if I’m traveling during cooler months, it can double as a scarf once I arrive.
- Compression socks. In addition to helping minimize the risk of blood clots during long flights, I find they also keep my feet and ankles from swelling. I usually put these on right before takeoff.
- Phone charger. (And chargers for any other electronic devices I’ve brought.) Many airlines now have electrical outlets or USB plugs at each seat. I like to download books to my phone and read during the flight, and want to be sure my battery is fully charged upon arrival.
- A change of clothes. I usually travel in a comfortable pair of jeans, a top and sweater, and pack a pair of Eileen Fisher stretch crepe pants, an extra silk tank and tee. They are lightweight and take up a minimal amount of room in the bag. I may not need them, but in case of spills I can at least de-plane in clean and dry clothing.
- A sleep mask. I used to scoff at these, but after finally trying one I’m sold. I find one of the best things I can do in flight to minimize jet lag (aside from drinking lots of water) is to get a few hours of sleep. I fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer when I can block any ambient light.
What items do you always keep handy for in-flight comfort?
You can see all of my prior travel wardrobes HERE.
We also take a complete change of clothes in our carry on/personal item, in case of spills or delayed luggage. I take my swimming costume too, as it’s all but impossible to replace en route. If we’re arriving in the evening we also carry our pjs, so I can get the kid to bed quickly.
So jealous of your Paris trip; although we’ll be there in late December that seems an age away now. Enjoy the autumn colours.
I’m looking forward to see your “personal item” and how you pack it. I’ve had the gate check issue as well and am still looking for a nice bag that holds my necessities without being to big and bulky.
I just flew a redeye on Norwegian, and the personal item could not be larger than a medium purse. My must haves are for a red eye (or any flight in which I gain hours) are: sleep mask, comfortable ear buds, neck pillow, wrap, melatonin. Even if I don’t play any music (usually binaural beats for sleep), my ear buds function as ear plugs. I sometimes bring a book if there’s a chance that I won’t want to sleep.
Autumn is my favorite time to visit Paris! There’s something about the fall smell in the air, and the crunchy chestnut leaves in the Tuileries gardens. I carry nearly identical items in my personal item — even if there’s room for my carry-on bag on the plane it feels more streamlined when I have everything I need in a simple bag.
One thing that’s made travel even easier is a small organizer for chargers, ear plugs (the earplanes brand), mask, camera, passport, lipstick, pen, etc. so I don’t have to rummage around in the larger bag to find what I need.
I also have an empty water bottle, to be filled after passing security and fresh fruit and vegetables (carrot sticks, pepper slices–stuff that’s fairly sturdy and not messy) for healthy snacking.
As Rhonda points out, airlines are getting stricter about the size of the personal item. So I put my wrap, toiletries, electronics, etc. in one of those thin nylon shopping bags (the kind that fold down to the size of a packet of tissues, or even smaller). If the wheeled bag gets stopped at the gate, I can whip out my essentials without slowing the line, and they aren’t bulging in my handbag either. Husband, who doesn’t carry a handbag, puts his electronics, meds, etc. in a little plastic pouch in his carryon, and removes the pouch if the carryon is sent away for gate-check.
So agree re. empty water bottle! An absolute must have.
Roasted chestnuts on the Champs Elysees! Enjoy!
I always carry on my Bose noise cancelling earphones. I know, I know….they are bulky! But they are wonderful for sound (obviously) but also perfect at cancelling out all noise. I even used them in bed in hotel in London when regular foam ear plugs didn’t work at all! Awkward, yes, but they got me right to sleep and somehow just calmed me down.
I use the Bose over the ear noise cancellation headphones too. Yes, bulky but a necessity for me, on any flight.
carefull : autumn is going to be hot in Paris, not because of weather but social rights….
think about very confortable shooses in case you’ll have to run
My husband and I got caught up in the global shutdown of British Airlines coming home from Italy in May – We had checked our luggage through and all I had for our night in London was my small toiletries bag and my large cashmere wrap…we had to buy UK power adapters and do the whole rinsing of the underpinnings in the hotel sink. I felt a little rough to get on my long leg of the flight…but the cashmere wrap elevated my “look”…I will now start packing a 2nd top and more “essentials” so I feel better when I don’t have all my stuff. Great advice – thanks!!
I’d also like to know what you use as your “personal item”. I’m just starting to look around for a new bag to carry on as my personal item and would love your suggestions.
Hi Janet, I’ve test driven a couple different ones, and will do a post next week.
I’m also imterested in what you use as a personal item. I’m flying to South Africa in a few months and really am interested in your travel tips.
This post is so timely. I am leaving for Paris, London, and Liverpool in two weeks. These tips are great. Looking forward to seeing your travel wardrobe. You have changed the way I pack, Susan!
Hi Susan – I’m so excited for you with your upcoming trip and am really curious about what you’ll be packing when it comes to outfits. There are lots of great tips here from you and your readers. I especially like the nod to the Eileen Fisher stretch crepe pants – they’re super comfy and super stylish. Great idea!
I use a traditional rolling tote bag IF I am checking a bag. If not, I use a Lipault carry on and haven’t encountered a problem. I always pack a change of underwear, earplugs, iPad and cords and earbuds, sleep mask, gum, one outfit, a wrap, medications and toiletry bag (EMME…the best). I confess to one Ambien so I can lie down and get some sleep. I also bring a tube of electrolyte tablets that decrease jet lag for me and boost hydration.
I also take my Lipault tote when I travel, handles fit nicely over the handle of my rolling suitcase. Roomy and holds everything.
Glad to hear you’ll be going to Paris in October! Should be beautiful. Thanks for the carry on tips. I pack all the same stuff: eye mask, phone charger, warm wrap, etc and I actually thought to pack my silk nightie, undies and silk top in there but didn’t think of the 2 layers. Good tips! I also like the toiletries like eye drops and tooth paste. For long haul flights I put on moisturizer, carry a rose hydrosol and skip the makeup. I’ll also take my slipper in my carry on so I can take my booties off while I sleep.
I’m trying the Lo and Sons crossbody bag you recommended a while back and also am trying a new RID money belt that I found on amazon–it got high ratings. Normally I find these things uncomfortable but this seemed pretty comfortable and maybe not too bulky. We’ll see…..
Flying in 6 days!
Have a wonderful time. What a great season to be in Paris. Love reading about everyones essentials great ideas.
I love your blog! I am going to France in a week and picked up so many great suggestions from your blog! Definitely packing the Eileen Fisher black crepe pants. Also picked up 2 French Kande necklaces that I intend to bring to jazz up my mostly black and white wardrobe. My carry on will contain a change of clothes, makeup, toiletries and meds, sleep mask, Bose noise cancelling headphones and a cashmere shawl. Also slipper sox. We are trying Norwegian Air’s premium class nonstop from LAX to Paris so hopefully it will go well. Can’t wait! Also looking forward to your upcoming posts on your Paris trip.
I agree it’s all your suggestions Susan. The only one I haven’t used is the sleep mask and I will definitely give it a try. I’m leaving soon for a trip to London and I usually don’t sleep much on that long flight. Another suggestion, which I always take along is Wet Ones wipes, or any kind of antiseptic wipes. Wipe down the tray table, seat belt buckle, armrests and even the video screen. They never get cleaned by the flight crew and are real germ carriers.
I agree with Roni. I always carry Wet Ones. I keep some in my handbag, even if I’m not traveling.
Susan I have a question: I’ll be in Sicily for 10 days around October 1-11. Is it appropriate to take white linen cropped pants to wear in lieu of shorts (both EF) –I’m thinking they could be used as beach cover up and also more versatile than shorts in terms of going in and out of churches. I also have a loose cream colored tunic (silk) that I could wear with them. Too white??
One thing my daughter drove home to us after her semester in Firenze and a class on fashion, is that Italians tend to “dress the calendar”, that is they follow what should be worn according to the season, regardless of temperature. So based on that tip, I’d say that white linen is “too summer”.
Thank you! I concluded the same so I’ve got gray crepe pants, jeans and black ponte pants. My color palette is autumnal: blue, black, persimmon and olive. Thanks for your input, I appreciate it.
Susan…Love all your ideas and would add a small flashlight and earplugs. I agree with the sleep mask- it makes a huge difference. Feel the same about ear plugs. I like a flashlight with me “just in case” – emergency on the plane and then I keep it on my night stand in the hotel so I can have it in case I need it. Thanks for your great post…and I am so jealous you are going to Paris in October. That is my dream – to be there in the Fall. I have been blessed enough to visit Paris several times in the summer, once in the Spring ( it was glorious) and on my birthday in early March when it was cold and snowy. Having just moved into a new retirement community our travel this year is to this new wonderful apartment…but we will get our Paris fix. A local artist has a gallery near here and does many paintings featuring Paris…one of the steps in Montmartre….and there is an empty wall in our new space……
Looking forward to your next post!
Ann, there are easy-peasy flashlight apps you can download to your cell phone. And bingo! One less thing to pack. Also useful in dark restaurants. 🙂
I am in Paris now. It’s much chillier then I anticipated-mid 60s. It’s very quiet here for some reason-the department stores were not crowded, even CityPharma wasn’t busy. We took a page from your playbook and brought 2 carry ones for 4 weeks, but now we haven’t any room for purchases
I know you’ll have a great time. Paris never disappoints!
Hi Sandra, you might want to pick up a packable duffel at BHV to make room to get your purchases home. We usually check bags on the way home to accommodate bottles of wine, fragrance, etc. that we may have purchased. We’ll check the sturdier bags that we’ve packed with the liquids, and use the duffel as a carry-on. Then the duffel gets packed in our luggage for the next trip. This one is similar to what we have.
Great advice. We have done something similar, with a very inexpensive folding sport duffel from TJ Maxx. However, this might be a good opportunity to treat oneself to a Longchamp expandable tote……..
When I traveled in the U.S. for work with laptop and work files, I was able to use a rolling backpack as my personal item. It holds a lot yet still goes under the seat. I always tucked in a small toiletry kit with toothbrush and paste, soap, deodorant, and wet wipes. I usually had a change of underwear and top which came in handy the night I had to sleep on the airport floor. Regrettably, I did not have fresh clothes the night a missed connection stranded me in a hotel without my checked bag. Nothing like drying damp undies before dawn to catch a flight home.
I just returned from Paris and you MUST see the Dior exhibit at the Decorative Arts Museum.
That’s one of the things on my list! Have tickets.
Will it still be going on Oct. 17-19 when I’m there? So excited to be going yoOsrusfirtge first time!
Oh, Susan! I’m so glad “we” are going to travel to Paris in the autumn. (I feel like I get to go on all your trips with you.) This will be such fun. 🙂
All of the above, plus a few extra undies etc. in case the suitcase gets delayed. Makeup wipes, sanitizer, ear plugs, ear buds with several different connector types, and my “No Jetlag” supplement. It works!
My must have is now a grey merino & cashmere buttoned poncho from Woolovers. Works a treat especially when travelling between low/high temperature zones. Saves taking a coat just for arrival or departure.
I always have with me in my handbag ( which is shaped like a small tote) a change of clothing, three extra undies, Kindle Fire,phone, chargers, adapter, behind-the-neck lightweight headphones, my medicines, my jewelry, several scarves, small hand creme, lip balm, gum, a small package of hard candies, sinus tablets, a few facecloths, individual Wet Wipes, and my SAS loafers. Everything is in a Ziplock bag. (Each shoe in its own and tucked along either short side of the bag, sole facing out, with various items mentioned above wrapped in smaller baggies and tucked inside) And of course, passport, wallet, toiletries!
I was returning home to the US from Europe on Sept 11th, 2001, and learned from that experience what I most needed when stranded.
One thing that you mentioned on your return from Italy was the state of your nails and cuticles. I found that one can find a small OPI cuticle conditioner with brush attached in the airport quick spas. Also picked up a small hand lotion also OPI. This really helped on our recent 10 day Europe trip. Nails came home healthy and strong. Also take a thermaloft “down” vest that packs down to nothing or I just wear it on board. Comfy, washes and dries quickly as it is not down.
How exciting!! Your carry on list looks exactly like mine. I hate when they make me check my bag. Have a wonderful time.
Love this post! I always have an LV Neverfull (medium size) with Bose noise-cancelling earbuds (Not headphones. These are tiny), Wet Ones, Eileen Fisher black crepe pants (rolled), one nice navy T-shirt (rolled), 1 pair underwear, cashmere wrap, tiny size of Vaseline (use for cuticles, lips, under eye makeup cleanup (I look like a crazed raccoon after an 8hr flight), Kindle and my makeup essentials in a ziplock (Mac pink lipliner, Estee Lauder Doublewear Foundation, black eye pencil, Cleaning De Peau concealer, one lipstick). We will be in London at about the same time. I am trying to be very disciplined about my packing. Bon voyage!
I started carrying extra undies in my carryon bag after missing a connecting flight home from Rome, and having to spend the night in Chicago. My clothes actually looked ok the next day, but I was super unhappy about the undies (after rinsing in the sink, then trying to blow dry!)
Last trip to Europe, I stupidly spilled a glass of red wine on my lap, on the way over. So I didn’t look too good when I arrived! I do have to say, my “magic pants” not only dried almost immediately, but didn’t even look stained; of course I still washed them out in the hotel sink when I got to Dusseldorf, and they dried quickly. The so-called magic pants, which I now own in black AND navy, are the Aspire ankle pants from Athleta. Comfy, flattering, and apparently wine-resistant!
I do have to say I have both the crepe knit and ponte knit pants from EF. I like both, but find the knees stretch out a bit, especially the ponte. The Magic Pants do not do that! You can sleep in them on the plane, and they still look fine when you arrive.
Thank you, Jill, for that information about Athleta Aspire pants. I have ordered a pair to try them out. I absolutely hate bagged out knees and will be excited to have pants that don’t bag.
I use a backpack. I travel for work, so it’s packed for work trips always. A few add ons for vacation travel and I’m set. One or two laptops, an iPad. Then everything is in pouches. Comfort pouch has solid lotion, face spritz, nose spritz, lip balm, gum, calming lozenges, wipes I can use on face and for any oops and one or two essential oils. Beverage pouch w tea bags, herbal coffee bags, stevia, collagen peptide packets, and maybe a few other add ons depending on what I’m using, how I’m feeling. Medicine pouch that has Advil cold and sinus, pain killers and something for stomach issues, probiotics. Electronic pouches that have chargers for everything plus plug-ins and an extranal battery and a set of noise canceling earbuds. My liquids bag carries all of my face care. And for vacations or longer flights a big scarf, an eye mask, compression socks and a complete change of clothes. I try to have fresh fruits or vegetables with me but I also carry a protein shake in packets and protein bars as they don’t spoil. Oh and always a 24 ounce travel mug. I always have a scarf and a collapsible bag in my backpack as well. I’ve been able to get by with the extra liquids in my additional pouches as I am global entry which includes TSA pre-check. If I get upgraded I just grab my iPad and my comfort pouch and earbuds and sit on the bulkhead w ease. It’s a lot but I’ve learned over 8 years what I need and use often. Yes, the backpack is heavy.
I use a back pack too, and I always travel with my own teas in my backpack. I have to be caffeine free and most airlines only have black tea.
I used to use a Vera Bradley Miller bag as my carry on, but once full with my essentials I found that as I age the full bag was too heavy for me to lug thru airports, so I switched to a backpack and am very happy with it. I need all of my “essentials” and would rather give up the bag than change what’s in it.
Goodness! Don’t know how you carry all that weight on your back – or how you get through airport check-in and especially through the gate staff when you’re carrying so much in your hand luggage!
I used to travel for work too and always carried crucial documents in my hand luggage. But could never have lugged such weight around. Much prefer neat bags on spinners with the long handles that make life so much easier and take the load off your back. They also look very professional when you’re travelling. In my job, personal presentation was very important – it was essential to dress in comfortable but smart clothes as I was often met on arrival by Embassy officials – and would run into international colleagues at airports. I always had a check-in bag as well – and it was never lost. Perhaps because I always checked in early and allowed sufficient time between connecting flights. And because the baggage was clearly labelled and easily identifiable (use mostly red hard shell suitcases with an extra black strap around each bag and with a patterned ribbon on handles). If you’re travelling long haul (over 12 hours – for me, it was usually 25 plus hours) another 15-20 minutes waiting for my bag to appear on the carousel was inconsequential. Best wishes, Pamela
You had me at Hello with the Eiffel Tower photo. I enjoyed reading your carry-on list and think it is wonderful you will see Paris in autumn.
So agree about one’s own sleep mask. Airline masks in the welcome packs can be very tight and uncomfortable – I prefer my own silk mask. Also my own ear plugs. Don’t like those noise cancelling headphones and they mess with your hair.
I always carry an extra set(s) of clothes in a v slimline carry-on bag (latest size Samsonite that airlines accept for overhead lockers) as well as extra underwear and a light nightgown for first night of arrival. Always carry phone charger in hand bag – also all essential medication and travel documents. I pack my laptop in check-in bag so I don’t have to pull it out at security. I take a cashmere pashmina, so light and fine and warm. But almost never use it on board as I prefer to use the sealed up airline blanket that comes with a flat bed seat in BA Business Class cabins. I also use it as a kind of overall bib to protect my clothes in case of spills if flight gets a little bumpy while enjoying a drink or dinner. We always travel Business Class long haul at our age as it’s such a really long haul from Oz to Europe. Since it’s a flat bed – and also great with elevated feet in partial recliner position I no longer wear the pressure stockings. I find I don’t need them with this seating as my feet don’t swell.
Before settling down for the night on the longest leg (around 12 hours) I cleanse my face with gentle cloth cleaner and then apply a Sephora relaxing and moisturising facemask and lie back with this. It really is relaxing and really helps prevent the skin dehydrating. I take it off before it puts me to sleep. Yes, it probably looks dreadful – but no-one is interested. They’re all so busy with their entertainment systems, kindles, books, laptops or already have the sleep masks on. Best wishes for your Paris trip next month, Pamela
Besides the items mentioned above, I take a small yellow foam roller that I use to prop up my feet on the plane. I use it to roll out my back and legs in my hotel room as well, of course. I’ve tried every conceivable inflatable footrest on the market but finally settled on the foam roller. It’s so important to hand-carry a change of clothes (underwear at the very least). Friends of mine lost their luggage en route to Capri, and were without extra clothes for 3 days! The husband is very tall and couldn’t find anything that fit, and the wife is full-figured and couldn’t find a single suitable swimsuit! A nightmare situation.
Paris in the autumn – that sounds heavenly. And I like the idea of a cashmere wrap. They look fantastic too. I look forward to hearing more about this trip.
Great post, Susan, and very helpful! I am ordering compression socks for me and my husband now as we are also headed to France (as you know!). After having my luggage rerouted and subsequently lost – likely stolen off the baggage claim carousel – I learned a few things including never pack things you really, really love and can’t replace in your check-on luggage and bring a change of clothes and extra undergarments with you on the plane.
Hi Susan! Haven’t commented since we were both headed to Amsterdam- but our timing is the same again! We love October trips- better weather, few crowds, fall colors! Austria first then Alsace region & Paris- can’t wait!! Using charcoal & oatmeal to perk up the black. Reading the comments has me putting change of clothes in personal- always carry on both pieces no problem but yikes, what if??! Have a great trip!!!!
I’ve travelled internationally quite a bit. One thing I started doing after nearly dropping a whole bottle of prescription meds is transferring any meds I’ll be taking on board to a separate one dose bottle. You don’t want to be picking any crucial meds off the floor! Bon Voyage ladies!
I carry most of the same, but also stuff small packages of Trader Joe’s Just a Handful of Almonds in, too. When a 2:30 flight from Portland to San Diego turned into a 13 hour ordeal, it was nice to have something to share with the poor Marines trying to get home from Okinawa! (Alaska Air flew us from ONT to LAX just often enough to keep from having to provide meals.)
My husband and I are going to London in November for our 30th anniversary, and I just realized why my packing is down to a science–I’ve had the same carry-on bag for 31 years! Can’t wait to see your travel wardrobe for Paris.
Having just arrived in Paris I was particularly interested in this subject and comments. I have always traveled using carry on luggage, keeping only those in-flight necessities in my “flight bag” under the seat. But yesterday we were faced with the distinct possibility of a divergent landing in Scotland or England due to an engine problem. I have no idea how they would have handled the luggage, so perhaps I will now add a few items to my personal carry on. 🙂 By the way, the narrow profile of the L&S cross body makes it a great insert for my carry on tote.
Susan, I hope you don’t think this is crass but I use sanitary pads for occasional leakage(I’m 63) and have found they expand the freshness/longevity of my underwear. In a tight spot much easier to change a thin pad than wash undies!
How exciting! I’ll be in Paris in October, too. The one thing I bring, in addition to most of the things you mentioned, is “No Jet-Lag” tablets. I swear by them. They are all natural and definitely help with the time difference once I get there. I’m in Seattle, so have the same adjustment to make as you do. Have fun. Maybe we will cross paths in Les Arts Decoratifs!
Susan…..I am really enjoying your blog and rarely make comments but feel I have some interesting things to offer. Everyone should check out MZ Wallace handbags, they make the most incredible, lightweight cross body bags with a zillion pockets, very well made and fashionable. I always check baggage but my carry on is very important because I LOVE to have all my ‘things’ with me, so I use a Victorinex spinner bag that is easily accessible from you seat. I find most carry ons are too difficult to access once it is store, but this has a million pockets and the front opens out so you can see everything.My exact model is no longer available but this is the one that is very similar and it fits under the seat. https://www.ebags.com/product/victorinox/lexicon-20-dual-caster-boarding-tote/328620?productid=10495831. Also while I am an avid Eileen Fisher fan I am also traveling these days with a lot of Athleta clothing. So easy to wash quickly, they usually don’t wrinkle and easy to pack. Thank you so much for sharing all your tips!
Dear Husband thinks I’m crazy to pack a change of clothes, but it has saved me more than once lately! I actually packed a nightgown on July’s flight to France and was glad to have it – spent 2 nights without luggage! I even find that it makes the first day easier – I’m too tired to unpack so just use what I put in the carry-on.
Can I put a shout out here for Crazy Larry pants? They are super – comfortable, washable, decent looking, absolutely don’t bag, and less expensive than EF, although I depend on EF for most things. Crazy Larry makes other pieces of clothing that are less interesting – read tacky – but the pants are wonderful.
I never liked sleep masks because of the way they touch my eyes. Last year I got a BUCKY sleep mask (ordered from amazon of $15), and I am a convert. Unbelivable light blocking and eye area is cupped/convex, so even with makeup your eyes/eyelashes are fine. They are my new go to present for anyone. Check them out.
Heehee, we love ours, found a few years back at TJ Maxx. We call them our eye bras!
Ditto on the noise cancelling headset. Since using them I no longer get bad “airplane” headaches.
I sometimes will bring a cereal (cheerios, special k) in a cup. Usually not a cereal eater but it tastes so much better than the breakfast that the airline provides. Just add milk.
A little late to the party but I can’t help myself. Essentials also include, noise cancelling headphones (the new small compact Bose ones), fruit (it tastes SO good before arrival on a long haul flight, esp. an orange), dark chocolate and nuts. I also have individual wrapped Shout wet tissue to get stains out. I don’t usually take an entirely new outfit, but I’ve learned the hard way that undergarments, toothbrush/toothpaste, and a hair brush can go a long way when luggage does not arrive.