Monday, July 30, 2018

Carry On Essentials & Travel Tips for Long Flights

I can't believe the trip we've been planning for 10+ months is finally here!  In just two short days, my husband and I will be on a flight to Italy!  We fly into Venice and are taking the train to Florence, Rome, and down to the Amalfi Coast to stay in Positano for a few days.  Bring on ALL the espresso, wine, pasta, and gelato...oh and limoncello!  I have never been more excited for a trip in my life, but one thing I am slightly dreading is the 9.5 hour flight there.  I don't get anxiety about flying or anything, but I am really horrible at sitting still {and when I do sit still, I am constantly shaking my foot - which drives my friends/co-workers CRAZY}

Luckily, I've been on several long, international flights, and have perfected the art of the carry-on bag.  I've also picked up a lot of travel tips and tricks along the way to share with you.  Keep reading for a checklist of items that I'll bring with me on my flight to Italy and my tried and true international travel tips.

I know people who can pack for a 10-day European vacation in a carry-on bag....I am NOT one of those people.  Hello my name is Brooke and I am an avid over-packer {the first step is admission, right?}.  I will be checking my favorite Delsey luggage for all of my clothes, shoes, etc. and bring a backpack and tote onto the plane with me.  Below is my list of carry-on essentials and travel tips for long flights:


  • Carry-On Bag(s)
  • Travel Wallet
  • Laptop Sleeve

Travel Tips:  First and foremast, you need a good carry on bag.  I typically carry a backpack for my larger items like laptop, camera, toiletries, and valuables {never pack any valuables in checked luggage!} that I'll put in the overhead bin then a tote to carry the necessities like phone, wallet, headphones, snacks, etc. I use the KNOMO London Beauchamp Backpack every day for work and also use it when traveling.  I've had it for several years now and I'm still in love with it.  It has tons of pockets, is great quality {reminds me of Tumi but a fraction of the price}, and has a classic / feminine design.

My go-to travel tote is the Longchamp Large Le Pliage Tote.  It comes in many colors, is super durable / water resistant, and folds up for easy packing.  I also found a great Longchamp dupe for under $15! Another travel staple is this travel wallet because it is large enough to hold all the important stuff like passport, ID, boarding passes, cash, credit cards, and a pen.  It comes in a TON of colors and is also under $15!

Travel Documents

  • Passport
  • ID
  • Boarding Pass
  • Cash/Credit Cards
  • Travel Info (hotel/transfer/tour confirmations)
  • Pen (for filling out customs documentation)

Travel Tips: Print a hard copy of your passport AND save a picture of it on Google Drive.  If your passport were to get lost or stolen while overseas, you would need a copy to take to the US embassy to prove your identity.  I recommend saving it to Google Drive {or any cloud based storage app} so that it can be accessed from devices other than your phone in the event that your phone is lost/stolen, as well.  It's no secret that foreign countries are known for pickpocketers, so it's always better to be safe than sorry!  I also like to print and save a copy of all travel confirmations to a single Google Drive folder - like hotel, transfers, and tour confirmations - so that I have all of my travel information in one spot. 



  • Oversized scarf
  • Eye Mask
  • Ear Plugs
  • Fuzzy Socks
  • Travel Pillow
  • Lavender Essential Oil

Travel Tips: Since our flight leaves at 6 PM from Atlanta and arrives at 9 AM in Venice, getting some sleep is extremely important so that we can hit the ground running when we land.  The noise from the plane and the passengers can make it VERY hard to sleep, so bringing ear plugs and an eye mask are a must!  I found the cutest eye mask that comes with a set of ear plugs for under $8! Another tip - sprinkle a couple of drops of lavender essential oil on your eye mask.  That combined with your ear plugs and neck pillow will have you feeling like you're at a spa, not crammed on an airplane.  I also find it helpful to take melatonin, an all-natural sleep supplement, about an hour before I want to fall asleep.  It helps me fall and stay asleep and I don't feel groggy when I wake up.  

Airplanes always tend to be cold and I definitely can't fall asleep if I'm shivering.  So I like to bring an oversized scarf that doubles as a blanket and fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm {because no one wants to wear shoes while trying to sleep}.


  • Phone/Laptop/Tablet
  • Portable Charger
  • Charging Cables
  • Headphones (both with a cable and wireless)
  • Book
  • Camera

Travel Tips:  It's very important to bring all of your valuables on the plane with you - like your laptop, camera, sunglasses, and nice jewelry {although I don't recommend traveling with nice jewelry}.  You never know who's handling your luggage after it's checked.

While I love my wireless bluetooth headphones as much as the next gal, don't forget that if you want to use the in-flight entertainment to watch movies and play games, you'll need headphones with a cord.

As you know, all the electronic devices that you carry each come with a different charging cord.  There's nothing worse than having a tangled mess of cords in your bag.  I love using the Cord Management Snap Locks to keep all my cords organized and untangled.

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer reading actual books vs reading on a tablet.  While a tablet or e-reader may be more practical for flights, I still plan to bring at least one book with me.  Emily Griffin's new book, All We Ever Wanted, was recommended to me by a friend.  I'll report back on what I think!


  • Makeup bag
  • Makeup
  • Toothbrush/Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Brush
  • Chapstick
  • Lotion
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Wipes
  • Tissues
  • Hair Ties
  • Eye Drops
  • Contact case/solution
  • Glasses
  • Meds - Airborne, Melatonin, Ibuprofen, Pepto, prescription meds

Travel Tips:  My husband is a major germophobe and planes are basically breeding grounds for germs circulating in a metal tube thousands of feet in the air so....airborne, wipes, and hand sanitizer are a must.  Before getting on the plane, we both take airborne to help strengthen our immune systems.  Once we get on the plane, I wipe down the arm rests, head rests, and tray table with disinfectant wipes.  Then I have hand sanitizer easily accessible to use throughout the flight.  This may seem a little extreme but there would be nothing worse than showing up in Italy sick! 

Also, the air on airplanes is extremely dry, so sitting on a flight for 9+ hours {in addition to using hand sanitizer every five minutes lol} can lead to super dry skin.  I like to bring a good moisturizer for my hands/face {I love EOS hand lotion and Cetaphil face moisturizer} and chapstick to prevent my skin from becoming dehydrated.  The air can also cause your eyes to dry out, particularly if you wear contacts.  I prefer to take my contacts out before flying for this reason and keep eye drops on hand in case they start feeling dry.

Since we'll be arriving in Venice early in the morning, we won't have the opportunity to check into our hotel room before we start exploring the area.  That's why I like to bring all the necessities to freshen-up on the airplane about an hour before we land {before the fasten seat belt sign comes back on}.  I usually brush my teeth, wash my face, put on basic makeup, freshen up my hair with dry shampoo, and spritz my face with Mario Badescu Rose Spray to help me feel refreshed!


  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Mints/Gum

Travel Tips:  As I mentioned earlier, the air is really dry on airplanes, so I do my best to drink as much water as possible to remain hydrated.  That's why I like to bring my own water bottle on the plane that I'll also take with me when traveling around Italy {bc it's going to be extremely hot in Italy in August}.

If you've ever flown internationally, you know the food kinda tastes like eating cardboard.  I highly recommend bringing your own snacks.  I typically bring pre-packaged food like granola bars or trail mix.  If you bring fresh food - like fruits, veggies, cheese, etc.  - ensure you eat it on the plane.  Those types of foods will be confiscated from you in customs when you arrive in a different country.

I hope this list of carry on essentials and travel tips helps you prepare for your next vacation!  Don't forget to follow along on Instagram {@smilesandstripes} to stay updated on our trip.  Ciao!

Do you have any tried and true travel tips? Share them in the comments below!


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