I have learnt that I am incapable of packing the right amount of clothing, probably because I start 10 minutes before I’m supposed to leave.

—Marcus Brigstocke


Anyone off to someplace exotic for New Year’s? I will be in Ann Arbor, Michigan harassing my 3-year old nieces (because that is what aunts do!!!). That said, I’m guessing many of our followers are jumping on a plane and I wanted to share my carry on must-haves when traveling solo or with mom. We all know that packing can be quite stressful and of course, you’re going to want to take all of your essentials with you for the trip. You might have a small bag that makes packing harder, but it could be as easy as finding the best carry on backpacks. This way, you won’t have to try squashing everything into a small bag.

  • Earplugs or headphones. (The latter are especially helpful if your parent wears hearing aids.)
  • Healthy snacks, such as almonds or fruit bars. (These come in handy if your parent has low blood sugar, if he or she needs to eat before taking medicines, or if you miss a connecting flight late at night and all the restaurants in the terminal are closed until the next day.)
  • Sanitary wipes, tissues and Afrin nose spray (to keep my sinuses open during take-off and landing).
  • Reading materials, games, and a fully charged iPad (or similar device) loaded with movies. (The more entertainment options, the merrier!)
  • A copy of the itinerary for your parent, so he or she won’t have to keep asking you, “When will we get there?” (Honestly, I think that Mom asks me that mostly to get revenge for all the times I pestered here with “Are we there yet?” when I was a kid!)
  • Socks and a light jacket or blanket. (Many older adults find airplane temperatures too cold—and Mom is no exception. Heck, I get cold on planes, too!)
  • Chocolate. (It’s amazing how the pain of a flight delay can be eased with a treat! My mom has a little chocolate every night, so bringing some along on a trip has the added bonus of enabling her to her maintain her daily ritual and therefore feel a bit more comfortable when we travel.

And of course my laptop and iPhone which I pretty much take with me on all trips (owning my own consulting company I find work never stops). Don’t forget the chargers!

What is on your “carry on must haves” list?

Meanwhile, for more tips on packing, check out my previous posts: Packing Prep (Part 1) – Medical Supplies and Packing Prep (Part 2) – Other Essentials. Or read my answer to Carla de La Tour’s question “How much luggage should I bring on a trip?”