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With flights back to full capacity, travel restrictions lifted and summer vacations on the way, you may already be dreaming about your next travel destination. But before you can touch down in paradise, there’s a list as long as a CVS receipt of things to pack and do before you jet off. We talked to the people who have literally made flying their job—flight attendants—to get their expert recommendations.
With 10 years of experience as a private flight attendant, Cindy Kowalewski has traveled to 100 countries including Seychelles, Myanmar, Maldives, Slovenia and many more.
Valerie Fraser is an in-flight crew member, photographer and foodie who catalogs the best dishes for every layover and leisure trip on her secondary Instagram account @flightattendantfoodie.
Now let’s get ready for takeoff with their tried-and-true must-haves.
“My must pack items are an inflatable neck pillow, Mack’s Dreamgirl earplugs, a big warm scarf that can double up as a blanket, and a sleeping mask. I love Bucky 40 Blinks Eye Masks, because they have molded cups, cute colors and patterns, and are so comfortable,” says Kowalewski.
“Flying can dehydrate your skin like no other, so I have to have a good lotion on hand,” says Fraser. “One of my favorites is from La Roche Posay.”
“I always bring a hydrating lip balm when I fly. A flight attendant friend just gifted me the Laneige lip sleeping mask and I really like,” Kowalewski says.
Both of our veteran travelers mentioned keeping a TSA-approved stocked medicine and first aid kit packed in your carryon. “I always bring Pepto Bismol, Advil, Gas-X and disinfecting wipes,” Fraser says. “Being in the air often does crazy things to your body and you gotta be prepared.”
“I always pack: extra underwear in case of delays, a swimsuit for sunny destinations, and a pair of leggings, so I can run downstairs at a hotel without putting on a full outfit. I also make sure to pack a comfortable pair of sneakers for walking,” says Fraser.
“I keep a mini steamer in my bag when I travel, because hotel irons aren’t the best,” Kowalewski says.
“When you’re really on the go, Panama style hats can hide a lot of things—especially that unwashed, messy hair—and will still make your outfit look fab! Rag & Bone has an exceptional one,” says Kowalewski. For a more affordable option, try Nordstrom’s $39 version (It comes in three colors!).
“I really love my Herschel packing cubes. The set I have comes with a wet bag too, which is perfect for when I have a bathing suit that didn’t dry completely,” Fraser says.
“For an everyday travel bag, I cannot live without my Longchamp. It’s water proof — and with travel something always explodes in my purse — so it’s easy to clean up,” Kowalewski says. “Be sure to pack your carry-on with possible delays or detours in mind. Bring a snack, refillable water bottle, change of clothes and a great book.”
“I love all the colors of Away luggage,” says Kowalewski. “I have pink and it’s easy to spot when it comes through the baggage carousal because it’s unique. The lie-flat design and two compartments easily separate my clothes to stay organized.”
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