Last weekend, I had the unique pleasure of spending 11 hours trapped in a Houston airport, due to a series of unfortunate events that mostly had to do with cancelled and delayed flights.
I’m normally the kind of person who doesn’t hate flying (two hours of unimpeded reading time? Sign me up!), but this was enough to dampen even my typically bottomless Christmas spirit. I also pride myself on getting the most out of my carry-on bag, but this little adventure taught me that you can (and should!) always bring just a couple extra items more.
Today, you can learn from my misfortune. Below, I’ve listed the five things you should always pack for traveling (AKA the five things I would have literally sold my soul for during the 24 hours it took to get from Houston back home to Florida).
1. A Portable Battery Pack
Flux Portable Charger (Amazon)
A charger for your phone is a packing no-brainer, but what do you do when you can’t find an outlet? Or someone is hogging all of the outlets? Or there’s an outlet, but it’s too far away from the table where you’re inhaling price-inflated Wendy’s? Better to just bring your own source of power than rely on the notoriously unreliable airport outlets. Make sure you charge it completely the night before you go!
2. Fuzzy Socks
Penguin Socks (Etsy)
You don’t always think about how cold your feet can get at airports – whenever the thought, “hey, I might get chilly” occurs to me, the most I do is grab a cardigan. But you’d be surprised at what a huge difference having comfortable, warm socks can make – the basic ankle socks I wore during my 11-hour holding period in Houston did so little to protect me against the inexplicably intense air conditioning that I barely got to sleep at all.
When picking travel socks, the more it feels like you’re wearing the fur of your softest, most lovable stuffed animal on your feet, the better.
3. Ear Plugs/Noise-Canceling Headphones
Plantronics BackBeat Pro Headphones (Amazon)
Whenever I travel, I always make sure to bring earbuds (you know, the standard free ones that came with your most recent iPhone upgrade). But they’re NOT ENOUGH, GUYS. They’re not enough.
Take it from me: When you’re on a plane in a row that is comprised of four children who all take turns screaming, sometimes individually, sometimes in together, for the entire three hours of your flight, turning your music up to 11 isn’t going to do anything but damage your ears.
It’s better to just avoid having to deal with unwelcome noise at all by shutting it all out, either with noise-canceling headphones if you want to listen to music or the in-flight movie, or regular earplugs if you just want to sleep.
4. Snacks on Snacks on Snacks
Why must airport food be so expensive? We all know it costs you the same amount of money to reheat those chicken nuggets in the airport as it does elsewhere, McDonald’s. Why must you punish me financially for being trapped in an airport all day?
Last week, one of the airport food stands I passed in my hunt for sustenance contained a small container of cold pasta (maybe fifteen noodles, tops) that was being sold for nine dollars. NINE DOLLARS. Absolutely not.
So here’s my never fail combo for packing plane snacks. You need:
- Something salty (like chips or pretzels)
- Something savory (like jerky)
- Something healthy or healthy-ish (like dried fruit or nuts)
- Something sweet (like a candy bar)
Bam. Done. Take everything out of their original packages and put them in separate ziploc baggies to save space. It doesn’t take up that much room, and it will help save you all the money you’ll start throwing around once you get bored and see a food court sign. Don’t fall victim to the trap!
5. Trip Insurance
I know, this isn’t something that you put in your carry-on, but for the love of all that is holy, please, please, please I am begging you to always buy trip insurance. I actually did have that for this trip, and as miserable as I was, I would have been way more miserable if I hadn’t known that the minute my first flight was cancelled, everything I bought that day instantly became free.
Trip insurance is crazy cheap- usually only about $10-15, and is a bit like gambling, except with a very high potential payoff. If you lose, you’re only out $10. If you win (if you can call getting your trip canceled, delayed, or interrupted winning), you get reimbursed for any money you have to spend for the rest of your miserable day – including new airline tickets, which might otherwise cost you hundreds of dollars. Just do it. It’s worth it.
What are your travel tips?
Have you ever been stranded in an airport for an ungodly amount of time? How did you survive? Anything you always bring that I didn’t mention? Let’s talk in the comments!