Over the past (almost) decade I’ve had to do a lot of traveling for PolitiChicks. When we first began filming our webTV show in Atlanta I was flying with up to four large suitcases at a time, and one of them was mostly filled with shoes!
But these days, especially with my Multiple Sclerosis problems getting worse, I’ve learned to be a much more efficient packer. In fact these days if it’s a short trip I usually only travel with one carry-on. For longer trips, I’ll check in one suitcase and a small carry on. But that’s it.
So here are my personal MUST HAVES I use when traveling and since almost exactly half of our readers are men, I’m throwing in #5 just for them.
Also for the record, this is not a sponsored post–I’m not being paid to promote any of the items on this list. Just letting y’all know what I like, that’s all. But hey, if anyone wants to send me some free airline tickets, I’m certainly open to that. just kidding (she said in lower case…)
1. A Really GREAT Carry-on Bag.
The following are my personal qualifications for GREAT:
a. Lightweight: My bag has to be light enough for someone like me, with MS, to hoist over my head and shove into a bin.
b. Soft cover: Many folks like a hard carry-on, but I like the soft kind. If you’d rather not hoist something large over your head (see above), even on a tiny plane if you have a soft bag you can shove it under the seat.
c. Attachment strap on back for larger suitcase: If I’m bringing a check-in bag, I need to be able to string my smaller bag onto the larger one. It eases the stress of trying to balance everything and fumble to find my boarding pass.
I’ve gone through several carry-ons over the years and what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how much you spend: A microfiber bag is going to show wear and tear. My latest bag is this one by Travelon Wheeled Underseat Carry-on Bag which I bought HERE on QVC for around $100.
It comes with an extra attachable shoulder/tote bag that I use instead of a purse at the airport. The reason I like this one more than others, too, is because it also has a place for your water bottle, something I need constantly when flying.
2. A Comfortable Travel Pillow
I can’t do those regular neck pillows. No matter how soft they are I always end up feeling like I’ve got a knot in the back of my neck. And yet as a germaphobe who likes window seats, on long flights I always find myself leaning my head against that yucky plastic window…
But then I found this beauty on Amazon–a side pillow. This one (from Amazon) is inflatable and if you put it on messenger bag-style it stays in place perfectly. Rolls up small after use. This is from Travelrest, $26.95.
3. Ear Planes: Ear Plugs to Block PAIN and NOISE
After years of suffering through flights where it felt like my head was going to explode, then landing without hearing for up to a month, someone told me about this beautiful miracle product called Ear Planes. They look like squirrley-twirly rubber things you insert into your ears. You hear almost nothing but mostly they somehow keep the pressure from building up in your head. The first time I used them it changed my life. At least my life on an airplane for sure. The box says they’re disposable but they’re made out of rubber and washable, so that’s what I do after every use. They also come with a very handy little plastic storage box (looks like a pill box) that I put in my pocket as I’m boarding. (They also come in children’s sizes.) Sold in stores everywhere but here’s a link to Walgreens.
4. Digital Luggage Scale
Yes, I bragged about going from 4 suitcases to 1. However that one suitcase sometimes teeters very close to the 50 pound limit, and a few times I’ve gone over. So after years of trying to balance my suitcase on my bathroom scale and having to almost lie down on the floor to see the numbers, I got one of these super handy things. You hook the digital scale to your suitcase handle, lift (that part isn’t easy) and voila, you know exactly how much everything weighs. Then you can open your suitcase and repack in the privacy of your home instead of in the airport for everyone to see your skivvies’. And yes, this has happened to me…I found my scale at Marshall’s while waiting in line, but here’s a Tarriss Jetsetter Digital Luggage Scale with 110 lb. Capacity on Amazon, $14.95.
5. BONUS For MEN: The Best Travel Wallet
A few years ago I heard about a Kickstarter that created a very new way to carry your keys. Look at this picture and you’ll see why KeySmart was “one of the most popular products ever launched” and why I couldn’t wait to give them my money to buy a few as gifts.
So actually I suppose you guys are getting two travel tips in one–first, if you have a set of keys that look like the “before” in the picture, go HERE to KeySmart.com.
Second, the folks at KeySmart have launched a new product for all you men and it’s perfect for travel. Because the last thing you need when flying is a bunch of cards and papers falling out of your wallets–and trust me, we’ve all seen that happen to you…
The new Urban Wallet by KeySmart is said to last 10x longer than leather and is sleek so it can fit in your front pocket. And it has ‘anti-theft 360 degrees RFID blocking’ (which apparently means it prevents electronic pickpocketing and identity theft).
And if you have more MUST HAVES for travel, please let us know in comments!