12 things you should be carrying in your cabin luggage

It’s travel season and year after year travellers get caught out in security queues or at destination with long lines or missing luggage with essential belongings.

Save time, money and hassle this season by packing simple yet essential items to make your travel simpler and safer.

A pen or two 

I always carry a couple of pens in my cabin luggage to have at hand when I need to fill in landing cards for destinations that require it. I find it hassle-free and convenience, not to rely on the resourcefulness of other passengers or kindness of the flight attendants.

A medium size Ziplock bag

It’s all well and good flying out of a large international airport and expect a see-through plastic bag for your liquids as your birthright. However, many small airports, especially internationally, do not provide any. Some might even charge you for them (I am looking at you, Stansted!) Why hunt for coins or even have to pay when a simple freezer bag with a zip lock will do.

A bum bag

’90s called, they want your questionable fashion statement back. Whichever end of the love it or hate it spectrum you are with regards to bum bags, there is no denying they are still essential travel accessories. You can go hands free and still keep your valuables such as your passport, purse and phone with you throughout the flight.

A cloth tote 

With stringent aviation rules and most airlines now insisting on one piece of cabin luggage, you may find yourself caught out at boarding. I usually pop one into my cabin luggage. As soon as I am on board and my suitcase goes in the overhead bin, any essentials like bottled water, book and headache tablets go into the cloth tote and under the seat in front. That way I do not have to get up and get to my suitcase at all.

Copies of all important documents

In case of loss or theft, it is a sensible idea to make copies of all your important documents such as passport, visa and bookings. As a second security measure you should have them in your email or a cloud storage system you can access from a mobile device as and when you need.

Power bank 

Does anyone not have one of these these days? Whether it can provide you with one full charge or five, with the battery draining potential of our gadgets, it is essential to have a power bank in your cabin luggage. While we assume most planes these days have USB charging points, this may not always be the case. You will avoid running around to find a charging station at the airport or going without power by the time you arrive at your destination.

Headache tablets

If, like me, you are prone to headaches and migraines, grab a box of headache tablets. Whether your choice is Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, you can get them well in advance or just before you board your flight.

Wet wipes

Studies show that an aircraft food tray harbours more bacteria than a toilet seat. These are often the most used and yet the most overlooked parts of a plane when it comes to cleaning. Also in transit for most part of the day from the airport to the airplane, we touch so many surfaces and come into contact with so many people that it is wise to ensure we clean our hands as often as we can. Wet wipes are useful in that you can both wipe your hands clean but also wipe down any suspect surface.


Any seasoned traveller will tell you to pack your essentials like spare underwear, socks, deodorant, a toothbrush and toothpaste. This means, in the dreaded event of losing your check in luggage, you will still have some sanitary essentials and a change of underwear. I would even go as far as suggesting you pack an extra tshirt or two and a spare pair of trousers.

A Pashmina

A Pashmina has a multitude of functions. It can be used as a head wrap, a blanket on board, a shawl when you land if it is cold, a scarf to smarten up your travel outfit in a snap. Most seasoned travellers I’ve seen always travel with a Pashmina – the smart look and the smart way to travel.

An empty bottle

Tired of losing your bottled water at security check? Why not pack an almost empty bottle you can guzzle down before security, then fill back up before you board. Not only do you stay hydrated you also do not waste money on bottled water.

Snack bars

Airline food can be like playing the lottery. You are never sure what you are going to get and what it will taste like. Also if you’re landing at your destination at an ungodly hour when you know shops will be closed and hotel room service would have stopped, nothing like a snack bar to keep you going until your next meal.

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