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An ex-flight attendant’s essential hacks and tricks of packing.

I have travelled the world both professionally and passionately. Having been a flight attendant, it has affected my travelling experience forever, in a good way.

I have gained travelling skills and learnt tricks and hacks that if not for flying would have gone by the waste side and never been learnt. Packing was one of those skills. The skills required for packing a suitcase in under 10 mins have been honed over years of experience. However I will impart this knowledge gained in the lessons below.

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Taking a shower, getting dressed, and wearing makeup. Packing my bag, checking flying whether I am flying to cold or tropical climate, driving … etc. all in an hour.

The idea of carry-on bag or “the cabin bag”, is carrying your in-flight essentials. For example, another set of uniform, a set of civilian clothes, a mini toiletry bag, makeup kit, cabin shoes… etc.

And that stuck with me ever since. My list of essentials kept evolving and changing as well. Yet, some elements remained the same.

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Why do you need a carry-on bag?

I have had bad travelling experiences from the beginning of my travelling adventures. Things like airline losing my bag. Forgetting to pack important things. Long transits and in-flight shortage of an element taught me lessons for a lifetime.

I love those packing details. The excitement of packing my bag every time I’m travelling alone or with my family is still the same.

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What type of a Packer are you?

I’m an over packer, I must admit. I was never one of those folks who would pack a pair of shorts and couple of t-shirts and off I go. I always wanted to look nice, feel comfortable, and wear what I have shopped from around the world. Because even if I do say so myself, I feel I have a great taste in fashion, and when I like an outfit I want to document it with lots of clicks.

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over packing for vacations/pic from pixabay

Who does NOT do that?!


My husband makes fun of me while watching me packing. Sometimes he would wonder why I packed a specific item like a pair of slippers for example if we are going to a hotel.

What to pack in your carry-on bag?

me at the airport
Me at LHR airport

16 essential things to carry for your comfort.

1- Speaking of slippers. For me it is a no go item. Because no matter how comfortable your shoes are, I don’t think you would like to be stuck in them for 7 or 8 hours. Our feet expand as well as other organs. As well it’s recommended to wear comfortable clothes. We have to wear comfortable shoes.

Pack a pair of disposable slippers or a pair of socks to move around onboard. You don’t want to walk barefoot to the lavatory, neither have you wanted to wear your shoes every time you need to do so.

Some airlines give complimentary socks if it’s a long haul, night flight, and some of them just don’t. Therefore don’t forget to pack your own pair of disposable socks. Moreover, don’t forget to dispose them and wear your own prior descending. You don’t want to take home all the international germs, bacteria, microbes from around the world.

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bare baby feet/pic from pixabay

P.S. Our feet sweat, having worn our shoes for long periods of time. Make sure you give your feet some air, and change your socks every now and then. You don’t want to suffocate the person behind or next to you. And believe me cabin crew tell each other which seat smells the most in the most discreet manner possible. Some airlines force passengers to wear their shoes if the smell is unbearable and this is not a joke.

2- A small refreshing bottle of rose water. Given the fact that the oxygen onboard is pressurized from engines, the air tends to be dryer. The air is so dry and it affects your skin. Look at your hands 2 minutes after applying your hand cream, they still feel dry. Well, imagine that on your face. So, pack a small 75 ml of rose water to spray your face every couple of hours. I make my own active water and I love it.

Bottle-face refreshing spray
Home made refreshing face spray/recipe below

Here is the recipe: 50 ml of organic rose water, and one big spoon of Ole Vera pure gel. Shake, shake, shake, and here you go you have a world class refresher, with no chemicals whatsoever. You don’t need to buy any commercial water from the Alpes as they advertise to you.

3- A neck pillow: Yeah, I didn’t add new here. It’s a reminder. We all fall asleep on our books and strain our necks in a funny way after we wake up from a nice snooze. So, don’t forget it. There are some new and inventive solutions such as the turtle pillow. Also, it’s a myth that the traditional neck pillow is worn as people tend to wear them with the buckle at the front. This is not the way they were originally designed. They should be the other way around. This way it provides greater neck support.

4- Your favorite snacks. Not all airlines provide decent variety of good food. Moreover, in some airlines, and in some destinations the food is really disappointing.

Also, bear in mind if you have specific eating habits and you forgot to request a special meal it is ideal if you can look after yourself. Or if there was any catering mistakes- and that often happens- then at least you have PACKED an option. So, pack what you like to eat. Plus, most airlines have their timing of service, so you might get hungry if the meal service is 2 hours away. Hence, packing a nice snack will be a good idea till the meal service commences.

eating habits and airline meals

5- An empty large bottle of water or a collapsible bottle. I prefer carrying my ketone shaker. Any of these options is a great idea to keep yourself hydrated throughout the flight. I know you can always ask for water. But, disturbing the crew every time you need a glass of water is not convenient. The flight attendants can fill your bottle every 2 hours. They will never say no if you asked for filling your own.

6- A set of underwear and an extra T-shirt. Learnt that from losing my suitcase in Athens and getting it 24 hours later. So for scenarios like that, why go shopping for something you already have. Throw a couple of sets of each in your carry-on bag, they won’t take space anyway.

7- Dental kit and a small mouthwash. Some airlines provide them and most do not. Especially if you’re flying low cost or chartered airline. Not everything is available and you will end up paying for everything.

8- Clear plastic bags for toiletries and grab few more in the airport. They are efficient and you still can recycle and use them again. Always be ready before you queue for the check point.

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Clear bag reused for my on the go snacks

9- Small makeup kit/ first-aid kit and a nail file is a must. Obsessing over a broken nail is very irritating. You can always ask for a band aide if you need one, but having a small emergency kit with you is very important. You can have your motion sickness tablets, or even sanitizer for scratches.

10- Your book! That is your entertainment system. Often times, the collection of movies are old, or the plane is not equipped with TVs. I always pack a new book for my trip. And it always feels like I’m going on a date with my new good read.

11- Personal large bag. Ah, this is a good one. Most airlines allow 2 or 3 pieces of carry-on bags onboard within weight limitations. Your personal bag, your cabin bag and your laptop bag. Your laptop can go in your cabin bag or your personal bag so you can reduce the pieces, if you want. But I like to have my three pieces. My personal bag is either a back bag or a large purse.

12- Laptop bag. I stopped dragging my laptop bag everywhere I go and I regret buying many of them. Now I pack my laptop inside my weekend bag which compliments my carry-on bag.

13- Your laptop. As a blogger, inspiration hits me when I least expect it. In the gym, onboard or even in the bathroom. I wrote the draft of this blog post an hour before top of decent on the plane and the ideas were flowing.

travelling documentation essentials/pic by pixabay

14- Notebook: who does not love those? Because I do, so much. I take my notebook everywhere I go. My most work is on my laptop but most of my one million dollar ideas are all in my notebook. It’s faster to write an idea sometimes than logging into your laptop.

15- Travel adaptor and a power bank. Whether you are travelling east to west or the opposite, you don’t have to panic what kind of adaptor to take. Onboard usually it’s the 3 pin plug under your seat. But when you have more than one device then a power bank would be essential for low battery emergencies. Moreover, charging your devices in the airport charging stations are not always possible, as those stations are always hogged.

16- Huge cardigan. That is my favorite one. Because I do love my comfort blankets. It allows me to snuggle. I also like to use the blankets distributed onboard to cover my feet.

P.S. your jacket is not considered an extra piece of luggage. So, you can fold and carry it inside your weekend bag, or throw it on your shoulders.

Airline blankets are usually very small. To cover your feet, the blanket is too small to rise to your shoulder and vice versa. So, I always pack my large cardigan, which is almost the size of a blanket. And the moment I use it is always a happy moment for me.

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map-flight-luggage-destination-vacation/pic by pixabay

These are my 16 essential carry-on packing ideas. If you have something more, please drop it in the comments below. I really do LOVE reading your comments and learning from you.

Do not forget to subscribe to the newsletter, that make me very happy and it encourages me to share more with you.

Until our next trip, ciao for now.

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7 Responses

  1. You’re definitely an expert! Love your packing list, I’ll totally try it on my next trip, it seems like such the complete list! I’ve seen so many of my friends having to buy clothes at a premium because their luggage got delayed, having extras is always a must!

    1. Thank you so much. Yes I learnt through out 15 years of travelling /and flying .It is not ideal to go buy the same things you have.

  2. This is a great list! All of these are so important and smart. Literally each one is key to long haul flights. I try to remember most of these every time I’m traveling to be the most comfy and relaxed I can be. Even necessary on short ones, too! Thanks for writing such a thoughtful post! ☺️

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