Are you trying to make the perfect air travel packing list? Wearing comfy walking shoes and selecting a carry-on that meets your airline’s size requirements are a good start. But if you want to prepare yourself for any possible bumps in the air, consider bringing these 10 airport essentials along with you to make your trip less stressful.
Leave space in your bag for your favorite food and snacks—especially ones that are nutrient-dense. Not only will your stomach feel satisfied longer, your energy levels will remain elevated as well. Packing your own snacks also comes in handy if you have a short layover or you’re traveling with small children. You may not have time to get food at an in-terminal restaurant or a premium airport lounge.
Also consider bringing an empty, refillable water bottle with you to fill once you pass the TSA security checkpoint. Not only will this help you stay hydrated, you’re also being a friend to the environment by avoiding the need to purchase a single-use plastic bottle.
Navigating an airport probably isn’t as difficult as, say, exploring the winding streets of an old European city. But, you don’t want to go on a wild goose chase throughout terminals and airport buildings either, especially when you’ve got a plane to catch. Thankfully, the TripIt app gives you interactive airport maps that help you find your gate and other airport amenities, such as restaurants, bars, lounges, restrooms, and more.
Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or CLEAR Membership
This airport essential isn’t exactly something you pack in your carry-on, though you’ll certainly be glad to have it when you arrive at the airport. Expedited airport security clearances let you skip long airport security lines. TSA PreCheck and CLEAR let you avoid the lines at domestic airports.
World travelers should consider getting Global Entry. This credential lets you pass through customs faster when you re-enter the United States. You also receive TSA PreCheck to expedite the wait at TSA airport security lines for domestic travel.
TSA PreCheck costs $85 every five years and Global Entry costs $100 every five years. Better yet, several travel credit cards reimburse your application fee. CLEAR costs up to $179 a year. TripIt Pro members, however, receive a 4-month free trial plus a discount on membership.
Nobody wants to be “that person” who struggles to find his or her boarding pass or passport at the front of the line. Whether it’s in the TSA airport security line, boarding the plane, or generally at an airport, have your vital travel documents in one place.
You can store many of your items, like an electronic boarding pass, right on your phone. Keeping a paper copy of your itinerary along with your photo ID and credit cards in an easy-to-reach spot is also a good idea.
Noise-canceling headphones can be a wise investment for the airport and in the air. They can help you find the concentration you need to finish work or enjoy movies and audiobooks.
The newest wireless headphones can sync with your phone and other electronics, as well as integrate with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa to quickly access your digital media. They can also make travel more luxurious.
Although most airports have free charging stations you can use for your phone and laptop, there’s always a chance that those stations are occupied. Or, the station isn’t near your next gate. In these instances, a portable power bank can be your best friend.
Fully charging your power bank before leaving home usually means you can get up to two full charges on your phone. Some of the best power banks will even charge a laptop. These devices are small and affordable. On those long travel days, you’ll have the peace of mind that your phone has plenty of battery. This way, you can stay in contact with family or adjust your travel plans if unexpected delays happen.
If you do any amount of international travel, you should keep a power adapter in your carry-on. This can be valuable when you need to plug in at a foreign airport. Power adapters are much smaller and more advanced than in the recent past. You can get one that expands so you can plug in multiple devices.
Even though many parts of the world are moving towards becoming a cashless society, carrying some paper money makes it easy to tip curbside check-in attendants and drivers. Carrying cash is also a smart back-up plan for when a credit card reader doesn’t work.
Another benefit of cash on foreign trips is that you can exchange it into local currency. Making an ATM withdrawal is usually the best option to get the best exchange rate. In some countries, cash can mean the difference between taking a taxi to your hotel and feeling stranded.
Movies and Books
Movies, books, and games are essential items to help you endure layovers or minimize flight anxiety. They can also be a welcome change to the in-flight entertainment options. Parents know how priceless these items can be in the effort to engage their children on long flights. These items also reduce the likelihood of distracting nearby passengers.
Tip: Make sure your items are available offline so you don’t have to rely on in-airport or in-flight WiFi to access your content.
A small travel pillow can also be useful if you have space in your carry-on. By bringing your own, you don’t have to rely on the airline providing a pillow for the flight—nor worry about who used that pillow on the previous flight. Having your own pillow in the terminal can make that lobby seat feel more comfortable. This can be especially true when you have been traveling all day and are physically exhausted.
It’s easy to only pack the items you need once you reach your final destination. But long travel days and unexpected delays are often inevitable if you travel a long distance. Having these 10 airport essentials let you travel like a pro and be prepared for almost any travel surprise.