by Yan Hong Ng,
Most people prefer a comfortable, fuss-free flight when they travel. For some, this means choosing to pack their check-in baggage to the brim and bring virtually nothing on board, in order to avoid the hassle of handling overhead storage or stuffing bags under the seat. However, there are a few things that you should keep handy in case you need them. Simply prepare a small travel bag, preferably a sling or a tote bag for easy carry, and dump these items in.
Essential #1: A Pen
Certain countries require passengers to fill up customs cards whether they are leaving or departing, so it is always a good idea to have one in your bag. You would be surprised at how many people could forget about packing something as basic as a pen. Instead of troubling the flight attendants, or borrowing from the person seated next to you, why not just pack your own? It is small and barely takes up any space in your bag.
Essential #2: Tissue Packets
These are readily available on the plane and they are provided for after the in-flight meal but beware – you will never know when sinus hits or when you will get a sudden bout of flu. The temperature outside is a whooping -50°C on average and remember, pressure can fluctuate as well and your body may react differently on a different flight. As a precaution, just bring with you a pack or two.
Essential #3: Compact Mirror
This is especially for the ladies: as you may have noticed, toilets on airplanes are very limited and you have definitely found on more than one occasion that the time when you needed it the most was also the time when every single one of it was occupied. It is completely understandable that long flights can get unbearable and a short walk to the toilet counts as a little bit of exercise. But if all you need is a mirror to check your reflection and freshen up a little, use your own mirror. Even though this small gesture of consideration will go unnoticed, it definitely saves you the trouble of climbing over your flight-mate awkwardly when you are seated on the inside.
Essential #4: Entertainment (e.g. iPod, handheld gaming device, books)
Just in case the in-flight radio programmes and movies are not your cup of tea, you will be thankful that you brought your own. Be sure to follow specified instructions and switch off your electronics before take off and landing for safety reasons; even celebrity Josh Duhamel was requested to leave the plane because he refused to stop texting on his iPhone before departure. Other than that, just be sure that you have charged your devices fully before leaving your home or hotel.
Essential #5: Mints
Spearmint, peppermint, lemon, orange, honeydew … tons of flavors; take your pick. If you are not the kind to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, then it is going to be hours and hours of keeping your mouth closed. Imagine how bad your breath might be by the time the plane lands. Candy also helps to curb your hunger a little in case the plane food does not appeal to you. And really, it’s also having something to do, popping a minty into your mouth once in a while.
Essential #6: Eye Mask and Eye Drops
An eye mask may be provided on a long-haul flight if you ask for one, but if you bring your own, you will have it as soon as you want it. Sleeping in an upright seat can be a difficult task, so make sure to bring your own favorite eye mask to block out irritating lights and shadows. Also, long flights tend to irritate your eyes since it gets very dry high up in the air, so pack a bottle of eye drops. They are essential in keeping your eyes clear and hydrated, easing you into sleep. This is especially important for people who have had eye surgery (for example, Lasik) and those with sensitive eyes.
Remember: be logical, keep it light and simple, and you’ll be all set for the ride ahead.