Written by Regina Bauman and Meg Delagrange
You might have already noticed that we both love to travel.
I (Regina) traveled a lot as a young adult and loved every minute of it. I spent time studying Spanish in Antigua and Guatemala, lived in Honduras for six months, visited Columbia, South America several times, and made one long trek to Indonesia on a group trip.
I still remember the mind-numbing weariness after spending 36 hours in the airline systems, and the deep thankfulness for a real bed. I also remember the fun of trying to go potty in Asia, the heat of the Central American sun, and the absolute beauty of the Colombian mountains.
There are so many beautiful places in the world, and if you have a chance, you should absolutely go and see them.
Although my gear then looked a lot different than my gear now (I was so proud to take the same ratty $20 canvas backpack to all those places). I learned a few things about what was worth taking and what wasn’t. I’ve also traveled a bit after having kids, and even though I subscribe to the minimalist traveling ideas, it’s worth my time to take a few more things to keep them comfortable (read: happy).
What’s in your carry-on?
The Market Tote is our favorite carry-on to keep under the seat in front of you. All your in-flight essentials are easily available, and it’s slim profile makes it easier to carry through those narrow airplane aisles. If you are taking a laptop, our Backpack Messenger (coming soon) or Franklin Office Tote is perfect for keeping it safe and secure.
8 Top Picks for In-Flight Essentials
01. Sleep Mask (Silk option) (Cotton option) This can make the difference between sleep or no sleep on a long flight.
02. Earbuds or Headphones. Make sure they are comfortable and/or noise-reducing.
03. Charger (But of course.) Can’t take Snapchat videos if your phone is dead.
04. Scarf. Use it as an extra layer or light blanket on board. I have a comfortable, knit scarf that is perfect for wearing or pulling over me while tucked into the seat for some coziness.
05. Book or Kindle. Reading helps you relax which in turn makes you sleepy.
06. Nuts or dried fruits. Protein and fruit keep your sugar levels up which helps you stay energized on your journey. I also drink ginger ale to keep my stomach settled while flying.
07. Charging brick for your phone. Keep your devices charged — some new security measures require you to turn your phone on and if it doesn’t turn on it won’t go with you.
08. Facial wipes and moisturizer. Keep your face clean + hydrated. Even a quick minute in the airplane bathroom can keep you feeling fresh for when you arrive.
Living and Traveling Abroad
My first international traveling experience was to pack up everything I owned and move straight to the heart of Japan for three years. While I lived there, I traveled to other parts of Asia. I learned to love raw fish and driving on the other side of the road became second nature to me.
During my years of traveling between Tokyo and the United States to go home and visit my family, I learned that my body adjusted easier and easier to the 16 hour time difference, spending days in the air and sleepless layovers in cold airports.
International Traveling with a Kid
My daughter has become a champ on long flights. On our first flight to Japan, she was only one year old, and she only slept for 20 minutes twice during a 12-hour flight. The rest of the time she cried. 12 hours have never felt longer!
Now my daughter is seven years old, and she loves traveling.
This summer she boarded a flight all by herself as an unaccompanied minor to fly all the way to Japan to spend the summer with her dad and stepmom. It was excruciating for my mama heart to watch her head disappear around the corner of that passenger boarding ramp with her little pink backpack. When she got to Japan, she gleefully Facetimed me to tell me that she watched movies the entire flight and didn’t sleep a wink.
Just back from Africa
In June, I traveled to Uganda, Africa with my sister and a group of friends. We had an eight-hour layover in London, so you can bet we went out to explore the city! After over 50 hours which included three flights, two layovers, and a four-hour bus ride, we finally arrived in Kiguru, Uganda.
During our days of traveling, I was able to feel refreshed by using baby wipes, dabbing on essential oils, brushing my teeth, and changing into a fresh change of clothes in airport bathrooms. I honestly didn’t feel as exhausted as I should have by the time I got to Uganda.
Each time I travel, I learn how to adjust to the changes and challenges more gracefully.
10 Additional Things to Pack Into Your Carry-On for International Travel
01. Baby wipes. These miracle workers work well for cleaning anything that needs a cleaning after long flights and dusty bus rides! If you are visiting a humid climate and have limited availability to showers, you’ll find that baby wipes are a lifesaver.
02. Deodorant. Need I say more? Between long nine hour flights, you’ll want to make sure you can smell better after your baby wipe bath.
03. A change of clothes. After you’ve had a baby wipe bath, it’s a good feeling to change into a fresh set of clothes. Being able to feel somewhat human between flights can do wonders for your mental state.
04. Travel toothpaste and a toothbrush. Just brushing my teeth between ten-hour flights helps me feel human again. You’re sitting so close to people on the plane and eating so many varieties of foods — you don’t want to blast that nasty breath on everyone! Every time I fly to Japan, I appreciate the way airlines in Asia provide you with warm face cloths and disposable toothbrushes and toothpaste. But let’s be real, most airlines in the world don’t offer these.
04. Outlet Adapter. An outlet adapter is a must when you are traveling internationally. Outlet adapters will look different for Europe, Africa, and Asia so make sure you have the correct type of adapter for where you are traveling. When I was in London, I needed a different type of adapter than when I was in Uganda. When I’m in Asia, I have needed a different kind of the adapter. Thankfully, I have a combination set of three different types of adapters that work no matter where I’m traveling.
06. Melatonin gummies. Pack these babies if you have trouble sleeping on flights. It’s imperative that you catch all the sleep you can when you’re traveling. I no longer have any issues sleeping on flights, but beginner travelers often struggle with being able to sleep well.
07. A sleeping mask. I use my sleeping mask a lot — both while on flights and sleeping when I’m at my destination. When I’m traveling with other people, sometimes someone will have the light on in a room we are sharing. If you travel in your 20s, you might board in hostels like I have, so this little item will be really useful.
Bonus tip: Ear plugs are also helpful when traveling with a group or boarding with multiple people. It may be hard for you to sleep because of all the new sounds around you.
08. Essential oils, particularly peppermint and lavender. These two oils are a godsend when I travel.
a. Peppermint. I use peppermint to ease my headaches and to give me energy/clarity through the long flights. Some airplane food can give me indigestion so I also rub it on my stomach a couple of times and it always eases any uncomfortable feelings.
b. Lavender. I use lavender to calm down, sleep, and to smell better. My favorite spot to rub in a bit of lavender oil is right behind my ears. I believe it also helps prevent ear pain when I’m traveling.
09. Downloaded music playlists and podcasts. Sometimes I get tired of movies, yet I want something to listen to. So I listen to my playlists or a podcast episode. When I’m having trouble sleeping with jet lag when I get to my destination, I often listen to music to help me sleep and settle my restless mind.
10. A journal and pen. Few experiences change my perspective as traveling does. I have a lot of time to think when I’m sitting for ten hours on a flight and there’s no better time than then to get out my journal and write my thoughts down. Months later I’ll go back and read what I wrote because I don’t want to lose the awareness I had at that time. I can go back and tap into raw moments of inspiration.
6 Tips for Traveling with Style
01. Keep it classy. (If you are one of those who likes to travel in PJs, well I have nothing more to say that you will find useful. Skip to the end.) Black and white are always great style choices, classic and chic. I often wear black on black, as I don’t have to worry about the juice my child spilled on me, and I look put together while still feeling comfortable.
02. Wear a hat — so you look like a celebrity — and don’t have to worry about your hair staying perfectly in place
03. Think cozy, soft, and wrinkle free. Leggings or soft dark jeans are great, so you can curl up in all those crazy ways to try and get comfortable without worrying about showing anything. Remember the scene in Last Holiday where Queen Latifah schools the stewardess on tight seats and greedy airlines? Some of us didn’t empty our whole bank accounts for this trip, and can’t manage the luxury of first class and must make do with coach. Don’t be that person that doesn’t stay in your own space.
04. Wear flats or closed toe shoes. No one wants to look at other people’s feet while traveling. I did not know this until reading a few travel articles recently, and I may have blushed as I remembered tripping with flippies more often than not as a teenager.
05. Bring layers for those cold airplanes, hot airports, or vice versa. A light sweater or jacket that you can wear or tuck in your bag is also perfect for chilly evenings if necessary.
06. Travel with a tote bag and small, crossbody bag. It’s great to easily be able to access boarding pass and passport, but also have a tote bag for all the other essentials. A light and small, crossbody bag is great for boarding pass, passport and a spot of cash. Make sure you also have a shoulder strap on the tote bag for when you need both hands-free.
How to Travel Happy – With Kids!
We’ve both traveled with our children, and we have learned what works well for us.
⟶Make it an adventure.
⟶Stay relaxed and (hopefully) they will too. Let’s be real, with kids nothing is a guarantee.
⟶Take plenty of snacks along to keep their energy up.
⟶Screen time is fine. Seriously, let them indulge, this is no time to limit movies if you value your sanity.
⟶Gum for them to chew or candy to nibble on, so their ears don’t hurt while flying and landing. Ear pain caused by changing air pressure is most easily relieved by swallowing frequently. (Source)
⟶Their own bag or backpack for toys, books, etc. The mini market tote is the perfect accompaniment for our daughters to match with our larger market totes. They feel so proud carrying their own carry on bag.
⟶Earbuds or Headphones for them to watch in-flight movies.
⟶Chewable vitamins and probiotics to boost their immune systems, especially if you are traveling internationally.
⟶Bonus Tip: Have fun! Remember to savor each moment of adventure, and come home with so many memories.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always —
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything.)