Traveling for work sound exciting and exotic, but it can also be stressful and exhausting.
I have been working as a food and travel writer for well over a decade, and that means flying a few times a month. These trips are often early mornings and late nights, with each hour tightly scheduled and dozens of emails waiting to be answered when I get back to my hotel room at the end of the night.
Those early morning flights and tight layovers, all while trying to get writing done while in air, can take a toll but the right tools have often made all the difference. That's why I'm selective about what I pack in my carry-on.
Here are some favorites that come in handy whether you're traveling for work or for pleasure.
- 1. Cariloha Bamboo Neck Pillow, $40, Cariloha
Ever try to sleep on a plane for a few hours and wake up everything hurting? Those seats are just not made for comfort, but this neck pillow made of bamboo charcoal memory foam has really been helpful. Plus, since it's made of bamboo it'll keep you cool throughout your flight (or road trip). The removable cover is machine washable too.
- 2. Hari Mari Lakes Flip Flops, $75, Amazon
Ever try to go through TSA with those skinny tall boots? It's a nightmare. Whether just starting your journey or at the end of a long day of meetings, a comfortable pair of flip flops are the ultimate in easy relaxation.
- 3. Peak Design Packing Cubes, $40, Amazon
Whether avoiding airline baggage fees or just trying to travel light, an important aspect of frequent travel is learning to be a smarter packer. Packing cubes are compressible, easy to access and instantly dividable. These cubes even have tear-away zippers and an internal divider to separate clean and dirty clothes, with each compartment able to expand or contract based on its contents.
- 4. YETI Rambler 18 oz, $30, Amazon
Buying bottles of water at the airport is expensive. Same goes for amusement parks and hotels. Taking your own bottle along that you can refill along the way will save tons of cash, and also keep you away from all that unnecessary plastic waste. This bottle is made of double-wall vacuum insulated stainless steel and it's built to last with a leakproof cap. It keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot — meaning it'll be great for keeping coffee hot on those long road trips, too!
- 5. Donell Lip Saver, $8, Dermstore
Air travel can be very drying, and to keep lips hydrated at all altitudes, this Donell Lip Saver restores chapped and dehydrated lips while protecting your skin against damaging free radicals. It also contains SPF 15 and Vitamin E.
- 6. Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes, $24, Amazon
Makeup cleansing wipes are essential for refreshing after a long flight or an endless day of appointments. These 4-in-1 Essential Face Tonic Wipes are individually wrapped face wipes that remove excess oil and impurities without creating an imbalance in the skin's pH level or stripping moisture. They are also great for exfoliating dead skin cells and unclogging pores (3% natural AHA/BHA complex).
- 7. Calm app subscription, $60/year, Calm
Traveling is very stressful, and it's important to take the relaxation and calm from anywhere possible. This contains daily meditations, sleep stories, soothing music tracks, master classes and more to help you center yourself during the day or fall asleep at night. It's an easy way to calm down, right from your pocket.
- 8. Decibullz Custom Molded Ear Phones, $26, Decibullz
Ear phones are not all created equal and the right shape and size can have a big impact on comfort level during wear. Decibullz makes a DIY moldable pair of earphones. Basically, it’s like molding a mouth guard — you place the earbuds in warm water and then mold them perfectly to the shape of your ear. The result: An extremely comfortable, perfect fitting, low-profile earplug that will never hurt, never fall out and provide superior noise isolation.
- 8. Clorox Disinfecting Wipes On the Go, $3, Walmart
Germs are everywhere and it's very easy to get sick when traveling. I use these wipes when I first get on a plane, in an Uber, even in hotel rooms (those remote controls are filthy!). This is especially important during flu season, which peaks between December and February (and is still likely to continue for several weeks).
- 10. CHI Escape Cordless Styling Iron, $100, Amazon
A cordless styling iron is great to travel with, or even throw in your gym bag. You can charge it just like a cell phone and do your hair literally anywhere, even in an airplane bathroom!
- 11. Drybar Mini Detox Dry Shampoo, $13, Sephora
No one wants to have to wash and dry their hair at the end of a long day, in a cramped hotel bathroom. Dry shampoo is always in my bag when I travel. It's super helpful to freshen up a blowout via a super-absorbent formula that eliminates oils and impurities, and adds some volume for those all-important travel selfies.
- 12. Goal Zero's Sherpa 100AC, $300, Amazon
When travel is a part of your job, being able to work from anywhere becomes essential. But even the most diligent of us are at the mercy of a power source. This portable power bank is designed to power items like laptops, tablets, DSLR cameras and phone while working on-the-go or traveling. It's great because it is super lightweight (only weighs two pounds), is airline approved and can even wirelessly charge smartphones. It is also easily rechargeable via wall outlet or solar panel.
- 13. Skyroam Solis Mobile Wifi Hotspot, $150, Amazon
The most stressful aspect of travel for me is not being connected, and hotel Wi-Fi can be expensive and unreliable. This super fast global hotspot has saved my day many times over, with an embedded power bank, 16+ hours of battery life, and the ability to connect multiple gadgets at once so I can stay on top of email as I go (but also, of course, Instagram!).
- 14. Sensacalm Weighted Eye Mask, $30, SensaCalm
Sleeping while traveling isn't very easy for me, no matter how many years I've been at it. Whether it's a transatlantic red-eye, or catching some shut eye on a long train or bus ride between cities, sometimes the best path toward sleep is blocking out your surroundings. Made with soothing satin and comfortable cuddle fleece, this lightly weighted sleep mask is cozy and breathable, making it a lot easier to get some rest even in the least conducive settings.
For more travel recommendations, check out:
- 40 great places to take your kids before they're grown
- The 19 best beaches for families and kids
- 14 spring break ideas for families on a budget