7 Items Always in My Bag

I spent a good amount of time this past summer traveling with a colleague who is not a frequent traveler.  I found myself often providing him some tips for a more enjoyable journey.  If you search the internet you'll find various articles, blogs and travel experts telling you what they like to pack when they travel.  I thought I'd take just a few minutes to recommend seven items I always carry and why.

1. Noise Canceling Headphones

After years of traveling with my iPod and iPhone earbuds I decided it was time to spring for a good set of noise canceling headphones.  After some research and testing I settlings on the Bose QueitComfort 15 headphones.  In short, I love them.  They are comfortable to wear on long flights.  (Including my trip to South Korea)  The sound quality is good and the noise canceling is effective.  One thing I always point out to people unfamiliar with noise canceling headphones is that they will not entirely eliminate outside noises.  Voices and aircraft PA systems are examples of sounds you will usually hear.  With that said, after wearing these headphones for a two hours flight when I remove them before landing there is a noticeable difference in the noise level.  It doesn't matter which brand you choose, but a good pair of noise canceling headphones are a must if you fly often.

2. iPad

I try to leave my laptop at home when I go on short trips.  My iPad allows me to stay connected and keep up with my office.  I have an LTE enabled iPad so even when there isn't WiFi I can stay connected.  At my office we use Google Drive and the app for the iPad is a huge help when I'm on the road.

3. Small On-Board Toiletry Bag

I always carry a small, on-board toiletry bag.  This always has ibuprofen, spare contacts, hand sanitizer, lip balm and sometimes a tooth brush.  These little items come in handy on long travel days.  

4. A Book

I'm on airplanes often.  If you add up the time on the ground when you can't use your handheld electronic devices you'd be surprised how much "free" time you have.  This is usually the time I get a chance to escape form e-mail and enjoy a good book.  This summer I've been trying to catch up on Game of Thrones and finish the Steve Jobs book.

5. Snacks

I should preface by saying I try to pack healthy snacks.  These are snacks that are small portions, but filling and easy to eat.  I normally always have a couple of Cliff bars, granola bars, small bags of mixed nuts and gum in my bag.  I stock up at my grocery store so I'm not stuck paying high airport prices.

6. Chargers

This may seem like a simple item, but I can't tell you how many people I see asking to borrow chargers at the airport.  I carry my iPhone 5 charger and iPad charger with me everywhere.  I keep these items in my carry on.  

7. North Face Hot Shot Backpack

This isn't in my bag, it is my bag.  This year I bought a North Face Hot Shot backpack and I love it.  It has a padded slot for my 15" MacBook Pro laptop.  The same slot can also hold my iPad.  The bag fits my noise canceling headphones and everything else I've put on this list.  I really like the two mesh pockets on either side that hold water bottles and my small bottle of hand sanitizer.  The only downside of this backpack is when I go through normal airport security (not PreCheck) I have to remove my laptop.

What I Don't Carry

I don't carry a travel pillow or neck pillow.  I find them bulky and I don't really use them.  If you like to sleep on airplanes bring one along, but for me I just don't need it.  I also don't carry beverages to the airport.  You can't get through security with more than 3 ounces.  I've also grown accustomed to the little bottles of water Delta hands out in first class.  I often grab one to throw in my bag.  If you do want to carry a bottle of water pick it up at the airport once through security.  I also don't overpack.  I try to only carry the simple things.