Note: This article is a guide to enjoying the journey to your destination. For tips on preparing for travel abroad, check out our Guide for Savvy Travelers.
You may be the super-organized genius who’s already packed her suitcase for the holidays, but what about your carry-on? So little space and so much that you think you need to shove in it… Especially if you’re braving a long trip. Whether you’re going by plane, train or bus, Sapna put together some essential items that’ll make the voyage bearable.
|1 The right bag. One of the best ways to make sure you pack light is to choose a small travel bag. My favorite right now is the Belkin Slim Backpack ($49.99, www.belkin.com). It’s compact and practical, with lots of tiny internal pockets and a separate compartment for your laptop. The Slim Backpack has two straps, which I love because it’s better for your back. If you’re looking for something a little more trendy, try their popular Sling Bag or their sleek-looking Messenger. If you know you’ll need an actual carry-on, choose something with wheels that rotate 360Â°. (It’ll keep you calm while you’re rolling smoothly from place to place.)|
|2 Salvation for your sanity. Wherever there’s a holiday rush, you can count on there being screaming babies, obnoxious chatterboxes, and a cheerful smorgasbord of other noisemakers. Translation: If you want to keep your cool, you’ll want to bring earplugs and some aspirin. Also bring gumâ€”not only to cure plugged ears, but to save your pick-up crew from stale traveler’s breath. To fight the irritation of chapped winter lips, slip some chapstick into your bagâ€”a stick as opposed to a pot, so you won’t be dipping your fingers into the stuff amidst the holiday frenzy of germs. Try best-selling Burt’s Bees Nourishing Lip Balm with Mango Butter ($3, www.burtsbees.com).|
|3 Back-up power. If you’ll be listening to your fav tunes on the way, make sure to charge your phone or iPod. When it comes to laptops, cell phones and video cameras, make sure those batteries are also fully charged before leaving home. If you’re flying and you want to be really prepared, you can buy an airline adapter for your laptop ($49, Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter for MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, store.apple.com). Bring all of your chargers. If you’re using anything battery-operated, bring extra batteries too. You’ll be grateful for your extras if your batteries accidentally fall out and roll down the seat aisle to God-knows-where.|
|4 Layers, layers, layers. You never know what the thermostat setting will be, so dress in warm layers that you can peel off if need be. This means that instead of slipping a lacy camisole under your sweater, opt for a t-shirt that won’t make you blush if you need to strip. If you’re in for an overnight trip, pack a thin (but warm) throw blanket just in case one isn’t available from the staff. Your journey will be worlds merrier if you’re not constantly shivering or sweating. Try the Woolrich Travel Blanket ($40, www.rei.com), which features plush fleece lining and nylon straps for folding.|
|5 Provisions for the road. Energy bars and drinks work wonders for your appetite and mood. High-carbohydrate bars average about 26 grams of carbohydrate and 2.5 grams of fat, providing an almost instant improvement in your energy level. Drinks are always available onboard an aircraft or train, but you may want to bring along an empty thermos that keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. Try the Vacuum Insulated Travel Tumbler by Thermos ($25.99, www.thermos.com). According to Thermos, the tumbler keeps hot drinks hot for 5 hours, or cold drinks cold for up to 9 hours.|
|6 Something to keep you busy. In the chaotic flurry of packing and arriving at your departure terminal, you may overlook what you’ll be doing when the plane, train or bus finally gets going. Take time to download a new movie and/ or some new tunes to your phone or iPod to make the journey interesting. If you’re using your phone, remember to enable flight mode before boarding. You can also pack a book, journal, sketchpad, or at least a crossword puzzle in your carry-on. (Might we suggest the infamous New York Times crossword?) If you’re occupied during your journey, time will pass much more quickly and you’ll arrive in a more cheerful mood.|
|7 A relaxation kit. When you’re in the same seat for what seems like an eternity, you begin to think you’d give anything for a personal masseuse. Pack a portable massager in your carry-on, along with a calming vial of massage oil. (Make sure the vial is plastic and not glass, so there’s no chance of it breaking.) No, you’re not going to break out the vibrating massager in the middle of the plane, but you may want to use it when you reach your destination. Even if you don’t use it until before bedtime, you’ll appreciate not having to paw through your suitcase. Try the small Pin Point Personal Massager from Brookstone ($20, www.brookstone.com) along with versatile Pure Grape Seed Oil by The Grapeseed Company ($5, www.thegrapeseedcompany.com). You can also whip out this tiny bottle for facial care, scars or scrapes, make-up remover, or moisturizer for extremely sensitive skin.|
|8 Posterity protection. You’ll need a camera to capture both the journey itself and the heart-melting moments of reunion at its end. If it gets packed into your suitcase, your cam often gets overlooked at these crucial photo-ops. Besides, if the camera’s not tucked into your carry-on, how are you going to snap that blackmail shot of your sleeping sib en route? Try the Sony TX9 Cyber-shot Digital Camera ($349.99, www.sonystyle.com), which is both compact and functional.|