I like to think that I’ve got my packing down to a bit of an art these days. I packed a rather compact, capsule wardrobe for my travel this time around, and still managed to have clothes I didn’t wear in my luggage. Next time, I’ll compact it even further! I’m not a fashionable traveller, nor a fashion blogger, so it’s easier for me to have comfortable clothes in a compact suitcase. I don’t have to think about doing a fashion shoot every day!
But, clothes aside, there are some travel essentials that I always make sure I have with me, regardless of where I travel or for what purpose.
Naturally, your passport, cash and credit cards are essentials. Those go without saying! But beauty and comfort-wise, here are 9 things I always, ALWAYS travel with. If you have a trip lined up, this might be a good place for you to start :)
I always travel with ear plugs in-flight, to block out noises and crying babies if I plan to have some shut-eye. Otherwise, I’m usually watching the in-flight entertainment so I’d have the headphones on. Ear plugs are also essential for me at my destination, to block out noises when I sleep. It helps me sleep better, and helps me adapt to a new environment better. No unfamiliar noises to keep me awake. For me, this is important, for I have trouble sleeping, and I don’t want to over-tire myself out by having a poor night’s sleep to boot.
I buy mine from iherb – the Hearos brand is very good. Soft, pliable, comes with a handy case and inexpensive. Some people travel with noise-cancelling headphones. Those work too, if you don’t need to block sound when you sleep :)
Face Mask and Sheet Masks
I am usually more diligent with my masking when I travel. This is to make up for a more pared down skincare routine, and to ensure my skin is well hydrated. I usually pack a few sheet masks for use at my destination. But in-flight, I usually go with a sleeping mask.
Incidentally, Laneige sells single-use travel pods of their sleeping masks or wash-off masks. I find these very useful because you don’t have to carry your whole tub with you. You can buy them from the Laneige store (Pavilion KL) and each pod can last up to 3-4 uses. So, you can share it with your travel partner, as I did, or you can scoop out half, seal it back, and use the remainder on your return flight.
I find a sleeping mask more useful in-flight, as it is transparent, and seems to seal in moisture better than a sheet mask. No risk of drips or of scaring anyone who may still be unused to the idea of people using sheet masks :P
Pre-moistened cotton pads for cleansing
Ever tried washing your face in the tiny airplane bathroom? Don’t try it. Seriously. I used to be very diligent about washing my face. I always do a cleanse about an hour into the flight, once in-flight service begins, and time was, I’d actually wash my face in the bathroom. It is messy, and I spend half as much time cleaning up after me.
This trip, I did something different. I moistened some cotton pads with Bioderma micellar water, and sealed them into a zip-lock bag. In-flight, I could use it to cleanse my skin in my seat itself, which was useful. You do have to get the cotton pads very wet, but it is a good way to not only cleanse your skin, but to refresh yourself part-way through the flight, or even to use it to remove your sleeping mask.
If you don’t want to use a micellar water, you can also just moisten your cotton pads with plain water, to use as a cleanse. It functions like a wet wipe, without the chemicals associated with it, and hardly costs you anything, as you are using your normal products anyway! This way, you don’t have to use your in-flight liquids quota on a bottle of micellar water, or a tube of cleanser. Win-win! :D
A Facial Mist
After cleansing, I refresh my skin with a facial mist. Not only does it refresh your skin, it will help add moisture and hydration as well. I sandwich all layers of my skincare with a mist, and it helps my skin remain more hydrated. This is helpful both in cool and warm climates, as it stops your skin from becoming dehydrated.
With a facial mist in hand, I actually pare my skincare routine down to almost the bare minimum. My focus when I travel, is always on hydration. All other treatments take a backseat. To my surprise, this time around, my skin not only remained soft, supple and hydrated, it did not break out at all, and even better, did not break out when I returned home either.
A good moisturiser and face oil
Whenever I travel, I usually pack a good, heavy moisturiser. In flight, where the air is dry, a heavier moisturiser helps lock in the moisture and keeps my skin soft and moisturised. At my destination, this same moisturiser usually serves the same function, as the air might be dry or the rooms might be heated. Either way, I find my skin tends to feel drier when I travel, so a good moisturiser and a facial oil helps me balance out my skincare accordingly.
A good lip treatment
I don’t use lip balms when I’m back home in Malaysia, but when I travel, there are 2 lip treatments that go with me everywhere – the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, and the La Mer Lip Balm. I always apply a thick layer of the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask before bed, and it helps me wake up to chap-free lips. I also apply a layer on my lips in the morning, before I go out. This helps my lips stay smooth, comfortable and chap-free in cold or windy conditions. I use the La Mer Lip Balm while I’m out and about because it is more portable. In flight, slap on a thick layer of the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. It really does protect your lips from the dry cabin air. And for goodness sake, DO NOT LICK YOUR LIPS! Saliva dries out your lips further.
A while ago, I shared my in-flight beauty essentials, and I’ve realised that since then, I carry a different configuration. A hand cream is less essential for me now, as I find that the scent bothers me. I try to fly with products that don’t have too strong a scent, as it can be oppressive in an enclosed space. This is why perfume is a no-no for me when I fly!
A Convertible Neck Pillow
I’m not sure what to call this, but this isn’t your normal U-shaped neck pillow. I bought mine from Muji – the Muji Neck Cushion. It goes around your neck, and clips in front of you to stay in place. I find the beanbag type filling of the cushion supports my neck better, and it is very comfortable without being too warm.
But what I like better, is the fact that you can unclip it, so it becomes a long pillow. You can then use it to support your back if you’re sitting on a long journey, or to support your legs when you sleep. After a long day of walking, raising your legs help them feel less tired the next day. If the pillow at your destination isn’t to your satisfaction, you can use this cushion as your pillow. Or you can just hug it to sleep :D Either way, I find this pillow to be the best neck cushion I’ve ever travelled with! I’m sure you can find similar ones out there. Get the ones that buckle because you can usually do more with them, as opposed to the ones that come in and stay in a U-shape.
A First Aid Kit
You might think this an odd travel essential, but trust me, you should put one together for your next trip. You never know when misfortune might strike, or when you may have a headache or the sniffles, and need some relief. Having medication that you are familiar with is useful, and convenient, especially when in a foreign land where you may not speak the language.
In my travel first aid kit, I always have these on hand:-
- Panadol (paracetamol) – for headaches and minor fever or discomfort
- Plasters – for minor cuts
- An antiseptic – for minor cuts or scrapes
- Vitamin C – I carry soluble Vitamin C
- Carbon pills – for tummy upsets
- Cold medication – You never know when a cold might strike
I top them up before I travel, and pare off any expired medication. I stick to medication I am familiar with, and it goes a long way towards helping you have a more comfortable trip when you have medication on hand, instead of having to navigate a foreign pharmacy, that may not have medication you usually take.
A large but lightweight scarf/shawl
Always, ALWAYS have a scarf or shawl on you. It will help you through cold airports, and serve to protect you from the cold and wind when you’re out. Aside from keeping you warm, it will also serve as a cover-up if you are visiting places of worship. I tied my scarf around my waist as a sarong, when I visited the Vatican, and the Swiss Guards deemed my (not very short) skirt too short :P It can also serve to cover bare shoulders or a bare head where necessary.
In warm countries, where air-conditioning indoors is usually on full blast, it helps you stay comfortable so you don’t catch a chill from the sudden changes in temperature. There are lots of uses for a scarf, so always have one on you. You never know when it will come in useful!
Do you have travel essentials that always go with you on every trip? Do you carry a first aid kit?
I cannot remember when I started packing a first aid kit, but it’s been one of my most useful items to date. I bought my pouch from a travel store many years ago, and you can really use any pouch you have. Better to be safe than sorry, I always say!