Traveler with carry-on

10 Things to Bring on Every Flight

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After the excitement of booking a trip wears off comes the hard part: packing. And while deciding what to take on your Hawaiian getaway or Appalachian trail hike is probably top of mind, prepping for the actual flight is just as important.

This carry-on packing list will get you well on your way to a stress-free flight.

1. Entertainment

Unless you’re flying on one of these airlines that offer top-notch in-flight entertainment, you’ll want to prepare in advance. If you’re a reader, carry a book or an e-reader. If you love movies, use your flight as an opportunity to watch some flicks you’ve been dying to see. Need to catch up on TV? Download some episodes to your tablet or computer and enjoy a guilt-free binge session.

Be sure to check what the options are for the airline you’re flying. For example, Alaska Airlines offers free movies and TV shows through the Gogo Entertainment App, but if you’re flying over the ocean, you’ll need to download the app before your flight.

2. Noise-canceling headphones

Noise-canceling headphones serve two essential purposes: they let you jam out in peace and they drown out annoying sounds from throughout the cabin. Given their versatility, noise-canceling headphones are an obvious must-have for any flight, no matter the length. Not sure which ones to buy? Check out Consumer Reports for guidance.

3. Snack

Let’s face it — sometimes a miniature bag of pretzels isn’t enough to keep you from entering full “hangry” mode. Bring a snack to curb your appetite until you get to your destination or full meals are served. Plane-friendly foods include trail mix, fruit, and protein bars. If you’re not sure what will make it through security, look at TSA’s “What Can I Bring” page.

Pro tip: Don’t bring anything stinky!

4. Another layer

Even if you’re on your nonstop flight from DIA to Cancun for Spring Break, remember to bring a sweater or another light layer. You’ll be sitting for awhile, and inactivity makes it easier to get chilly. If you’re not against taking off your shoes, an extra pair of warm socks will keep your toes from freezing.

5. Medications

Always pack all medications in your carry-on. Even though the chances of your luggage not making it are slim (according to SITA’s 2017 baggage report, airport employees mishandled fewer than six bags per 1,000 passengers), it’s possible for it to get lost in the shuffle or delayed, especially during connections. So don’t take your chances — take your critical medications with you. It doesn’t hurt to have some OTC cold and pain medications with you, either.  

Here are TSA’s guidelines for flying with medicine.   

6. Change of clothes

Again, having your checked baggage show up in the right place (and on time) isn’t ever a guarantee. If you want to be extra prepared, pack a change of clothes in your carry-on.

Worse case scenario, your extra duds will get you through a day of being luggage-less. Best case scenario, the extra shirt you packed will save you from an embarrassing ketchup catastrophe.

7. Important documents

Any and all documentation you have for your trip should be in your carry-on. It’s not very efficient to dig around in your checked bag for a hotel reservation number or passport. And speaking of important documents, make sure you carry your identification and credit cards too.

8. Phone charger

There is nothing worse than the 10% panic setting in before you even board your flight, so don’t get stuck without your phone charger! Even if you come prepared, you can find yourself in another pickle: no outlet. So, consider investing in a battery pack that will recharge your phone or other devices in a pinch.

9. Water bottle

The 3-1-1 rule (how much liquid you can bring through security) applies to drinking water too. To make sure you’re never parched during your travels, bring an empty water bottle on your flight. Pick something that will travel well and is relatively light. Many airports have water bottle filling stations near the drinking faucets. You can even ask the flight attendants if they will fill it up for you — just remember to say “please!”

10. Valuables

Jewelry, cash, expensive devices, and other valuables are all best brought on board to avoid having them get lost or stolen. CNN reported the TSA had 30,621 claims of missing valuables between 2010 and 2014, mostly from checked luggage. The total property loss claimed was $2.5 million. Be proactive about protecting your belongings and either pack them in your carry-on or leave them at home.

If you lose something in at DIA, check out their lost and found page.

All packed and ready to hit the road? Don’t forget to reserve the closest, fastest, and least expensive parking at DIA!