I recently had the opportunity to travel for work. I do this a lot, but it is rarely as complicated as my latest adventure. The first leg alone was a 15 hour direct flight to South Africa. Yes, you read that correctly, 15 hours – one way! It was brutal! It also reinforced the need to have a well packed (but not overpacked) carry-on bag to help you pass the time while you are confined and hurtling through the air. I shared with you my carry-on items for a short flight, but now lets talk about those that are a bit longer.
The photos below are what was in my carry-on bag for this long haul flight when I got to South Africa and unpacked. First and foremost, you need your passport and enough currency to get a cab and a bottle of water when you land. Bear with me here, I know I sound like your mother, but it’s true. What you may not realize is that if you arrive late in the (which is possible with that many time zone changes), at an odd time like a holiday or during a strike, you may be without a way to get cash when you land. No one needs that! I like to take enough cash on me to get myself a cab from the airport to the hotel I will be using, a light meal or snack and a couple of well timed small gratuities for anyone that may assist me while I am getting from point A to B. You don’t want to come across as the cheap American in a host country.
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Once you have those items in place, you can start thinking about comfort. Technology is on the top of my list. For this flight, I packed my travel lap top (a small Dell 2 in 1 that I have fallen in LOVE with for travel). This 11 inch laptop has enough heft to help me do some word processing, light web surfing, and other non-intensive applications that facilitate checking in at the office or doing a little blogging on the fly. That’s what I do, blog on the fly. 😊 It isn’t great for streaming video, gaming, or graphics intensive applications, but that is why I have the big boy at home. This one was less than $200, and helps me back up my research and photos on the go, but I don’t rely on it as my sole computer. Of course, the cable is a given (though this flight only had a USB port at each coach seat – the humanity!!!) because the battery life for this particular computer is an active 4 hours – 15 or so with intermittent use and sleep mode. Not bad considering the overall use of the device.
Not pictured, I forgot to take it out – is my travel mouse. This little guy is so very handy. I love to have a mouse rather than a touch pad when I work in a hotel room, and this little fella is portable, compact and wireless. If you have larger hands, consider the full size wireless – they aren’t really that big either. My hands are borderline for operating a small mouse with comfort. Other items I don’t want to be without are my portable charger (I don’t want to get caught without service in an emergency) and USB-C adapter. I can’t stress the importance of having the proper adapters before you leave the country. I almost had an issue in South Africa because I brought every travel adapter under the sun BUT the M adapter that is used there! Luckily, I was able to find a European (UK) to M converter and had a few of those plug adapters on hand. Phew! That could have been an issue until I got to Europe a week later – Papa Bear would NOT have been happy with radio silence – let me tell you! I’m kind of plump and juicy, and doing research in Kruger National Forrest (Lions, etc.) has his mind spinning as is. Either way, with all of the plugs and adapters I have, I am likely the most well adapted women in South Africa right now. I slay me! Finally, the aforementioned plug converter is a must. I love these cubes that allow you to push a leaver and pop out the prongs you need, and then convert to another type if you are traveling between regions. They are compact and very easy to handle. I keep my phone charger, battery pack and USB-C adapter in the little sun glass case to the right, in the second photo. The top pinches open and keeps my chords tangle free and from acting like kudzu in my bag.
Now for the non electronic needs. I ALWAYS have copies of my travel documents on hand. ALWAYS. You never know when you will arrive and the hotel has lost a reservation, put you in the wrong room type (think shared bathroom rather than en suite – I’m not a high maintenance traveler, but I really do like a private shower – call me old fashioned). I have a book or magazine, and usually have at least one – sometimes two audio books downloaded to my phone via Audible. If you haven’t tried it, you can get your first book free here. I am addicted, and so are the tinies. Audible is one of our go to apps in the car. I love letting the kids walk the streets of Avonlea with Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables, or fight monsters in The Adventurer’s Guild. I’m currently listening to Trevor Noah’s “Born A Crime.” Check them out here (links to individual books in titles)! Oddly, I also like to travel with a paper clip. Why? So many reasons – it can serve as an impromptu hook to dry unmentionables, the end fits perfectly into that tiny hole in your cell phone to pop out your memory card if you want to transfer files, keep everything from papers to traditional keys together. So many handy little hacks for one ordinary object. I also like to keep myself occupied on the plane when I get tired of movies. Honestly, this is the only time I get to watch movies that are not animated, so I take advantage of it! I love my Samsung earbuds, a great set of ear buds is critical. They are wrapped around my bendy man ear bud keeper – they are cute and portable and keep your ear buds from getting crushed, pulled and destroyed in the push and pull of a bag. No tangles, no shorts in the wires. When I am not watching the movie, I like to listen to my Audible audio book and crochet. I have lighted crochet hooks so that I don’t disturb anyone on the plane when it is late, and like to use the time to work on Christmas projects. There are TSA approved thread snips (blunt tip) if you need those, but a nail clipper also works well. I found this out the hard way after getting my normal thread snips confiscated at security in Belize. Oh well, I would rather be safe than sorry on a flight, so I can’t fuss to much.
The other paper based item you will see when you look under my book is a small notebook. I travel for work and academic research, so notes are a requirement of the trade. You will also note the colored pen set to the left of the books. I color code everything – especially research. These little guys were cheap and help me stay organized on the road. I have used them so much that I keep the pack in my purse now rather than leaving it in my office bag. They have come in handy so many times over.
My comfort items change depending on my location, but some are consistent. I love L’Occitane lotions. LOVE them. The scents are divine and linger, creating a little scented heaven when you moisturize – and you have to do that a lot on a plane. My favorite scents are Roses et Riennes and Peony. They aren’t cheap, but they are the best hand creams I have found. I do love French cosmetics! Also a requirement is lip balm. I love the tinted varieties by Burt’s Bees. They are long lasting, provide a lot of moisture and comfort and give me a little bit of color long after the rest of my makeup has worn off. I usually have a pack of Wet Ones in the car, in my bag, in every conceivable location because of Teeny. He is a messy little bugger. That being said, so am I! I like the classic Wet Ones pack because the plastic seal stays put and last through the last wipe in the pack without rolling up, losing its grip, or letting the wipes dry out. Since they have a mild soap in them, you can use baby wipes and wet ones as a stain remover wipe in a pinch. I prefer Tide Pens (those are always in my car, my purse, and make up bag) but the wipes help get most stains out if you use them immediately and at least act as a pre treater if you can’t get all of the stain out. For on the go rinsing, while we are on the subject of stain removers, I also carry Tide Sink Packs. These are perfectly portioned to be enough soap for a sink full of water without overdoing it on the soap. Tide makes some really handy products these days for travel (hit me up, Tide!). My last comfort item is an inflatable neck pillow. I love this accessory because it deflates to almost nothing!
When I travel to hot or beachy locations, I usually have a hand fan and small sun screen in my bag – I’m a pale tale that doesn’t want to be a lobster! Since it is currently winter in South Africa, those items are stowed in my luggage until the second portion of the trip. Finally, snacks. You know I am not going to leave the house and risk Hangry Mommy emerging, right? I love to pack Kind bars. Not only are they good for you, they travel really well. I generally opt for the ones that are not coated in chocolate, but to each his own. My absolute favorites are the blueberry and pecan or the blueberry and cashew. They are sweet, a little salty and have a lot of protein without a lot of refined sugar. I have also recently found sunglasses that slip over my glasses without looking like I just had cataract surgery! I haven’t had a good pair of sunglasses in years. These were about $25.00 and worth every penny – and they have sparkles! I’m a sucker for sparkles. The hard case was about $7.00 at a local eye wear center, and fits them pretty well. I usually select more traditionally colored and textured items, but this one made me think of Tiny, and on the cusp of a two week trip, I was feeling a little sentimental. So, shiny purple animal print it is. That child loves all things purple and shiny – wonder where she gets that from?