I took my first airplane ride when I was three months old. My mom says I was very good, which probably means she was traumatized and her mind is blocking the painful memory of traveling with an infant. Since then I’ve done loads of traveling, from cross-country road trips to international adventures, and I’ve picked up some packing wisdom along the way.
My first trick is an oldie but goodie: I like to make my packing list a few days in advance. I mentally go through my daily routine and jot down the products I use – toothbrush, deodorant, etc. – and then I refer to my list the next morning when I’m getting ready to make sure nothing important was overlooked.
One item I always like to pack is a plastic bag – or four. They’re great for sticking your shoes in so they don’t get your clothes dirty, or packing wet things for the return trip like bathing suits or that loofah that feels dry until you open your suitcase at home and everything smells like mold.
When it comes to air travel, I hate checking bags. There are times when it’s unavoidable, depending on where you’re going and for how long, but whenever I can I take two carry-on items: a duffel bag and a backpack. The duffel bag goes in the overhead bin because unlike a rigid suitcase, a duffel bag has a better chance of actually being crammed into a small space. My backpack goes under my seat and contains my laptop and my liquids. When going through airport security, it’s faster and easier to wrestle items in and out of one bag than two.
I’m not afraid of flying because I have done it a lot, but if you are, there’s a great trick that works for calming anxiety in general and it also works on planes and other modes of transportation. Identify five things you can see, five things you can smell, five things you can hear, and five things you can taste. Some of the senses are easy, but some are more difficult. You may need to stretch to five things you could taste on a plane: peanuts, ginger ale, the purple crayon the kid next to you is coloring with – you get the idea. Happy travels!