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I love traveling, visiting friends, and exploring new places. But the world can be dangerous as well as fun. Are you prepared for an attack in the airport? Are you prepared for a car accident in the taxi in the new city? What would you have with you if the plane crashed and you survived?
These cases may seem extreme but little emergencies will happen more often. What if the person next to you is coughing? What if you get a cut and need a band aide just after you board? Every time I plan to fly, I pack this kit in my carry-on.
This small kit was designed to be in a cosmetic bag and I like it for the clear plastic see through panels. I have never been stopped by TSA about it, but they could quickly see the contents without going through it. I also can see what I want and retrieve it quickly. When you finger is bleeding, you don’t want to be rummaging around getting blood over everything.
All packaged, it weighs 1 lb and 5 oz, and fits in the bottom of my carry-on backpack that I stuff under the seat in front of me. Don’t put it in the overhead bin, it’s too hard to access mid-flight.
So what’s in my kit?
- ICE: Basic information, important telephone numbers in case my phone dies. Insurance information, passport numbers, etc.
- Earplugs: For annoying passengers and attempting sleep on the plane.
- Small First Aid Kit: Band aides, Antibacterial ointment, wet wipes, etc
- Mouthwash: This alcohol based liquid can be used in a pinch to clean out wound or for fresh breath.
- Alcoholic hand cleaner: Could for cleaning hands and surfaces when water is scare. Also for removing germs from plane armrests.
- Lighter: TSA allows the cheap BIC lighters, so pack one. If you need fire for any reason, a lighter is always the easiest method.
- Scissors: You cannot carry knives and you can’t carry serrated blades but TSA approves small scissors with a blade less than 4” long. Of course, each TSA agent has the right to refuse anything, but I have flown many times with these scissors.
- Dust mask: Dust can be dangerous if you breathe it in from airport construction or an attack. A dust mask such as a N95 mask will also protect from airborne illness. (Example N95 mask) Not a bad thing to have packed if the passenger next you is coughing too much!
- Water bottle: I carry a this fold-up water bottle that fits nicely in this pack. It can be used to carry water. Of course it must be empty to go through security but you could fill it with tap water on the other side. I generally also have my big Nalgene bottle too as it's easier to drink from mid-flight.
- Whistle: If you are lost or injured, it takes much less energy to blow a whistle than it does to scream. This could mean faster help. It also can alert security faster if you see an incident occurring.
- Plastic trash bag: Always handy to contain spills, waterproof, or collect items.
- Flashlight: I like the J5 Tactical V1-Pro 300 Lumen Ultra Bright Flashlight, seen here. It is a compact and powerful light.
- Cash: It is always good to have cash on hand while traveling.
- Rain poncho: Poncho are great for many purposes not just keeping dry. They can be used for a makeshift tent or collecting water. As they don’t take up too much room, I find them handy to pack.
- Sun screen: This is more so I never forget to pack it. Winter ski trip and the sun is shining bright. Sunscreen may be handy in this case, and you may have forgotten to pack it with your snow gear.
- Chapstick: The air in planes can get very dry, as they filter and recycle the cabin air. The dry air also prevents the spread of disease, but chapstick helps to re-hydrate and protect your lips.
- Safety pins: You never know if you need to hold something together, an arm sling, a broken strap or a diaper.
Other Carry-On Items
There are a few things that one could pack that would be handy but take up more space in your carry-on.
- Paracord: Rope for making shelters, carrying things, makeshift backpack strap, etc. (This kind.)
- Water purification tablets / Water filter: Clean water in an emergency is essential, and having a water bottle may not be enough if you don’t have clean water to put in it. For example there is the small Sawyer filter that you can squeeze filter water into a bottle and take with you. Or I also recommend the LifeStraw, which allow you to drink directly from streams. (Neither let you drink salt water).
- Ferro rod: Another way to light a fire that can’t fail like a Bic lighter could. I can one similar to this one in my purse everyday, so it's already with me when I travel.
- Mylar blanket: This reflective blanket is good for keeping warm but also can be made into a shelter or tent. It is very reflective and will also signal your location if you are lost. Seen here on Amazon, they are less than a dollar a piece.
In Conclusion: General tips
- Assume your checked bag will be late! What do you need for the next day? Medication, spare clothes, tooth brush, extra socks should all be in your carry-on bag. These ideas can go in the overhead bin, as you likely won’t need them mid-flight.
- Wear sensible footwear! I hate to see people wearing high heels or flip flops in the airport. If you need to evacuate quickly through a blast or construction zone you want protective footwear. If you gate changes last minute and you must run across the terminals, you need shoes you can comfortably hustle in. I wear hiking boots, yes they are a pain to take off and re-lace while going through security but for a few minutes extra effort I get to wear comfortable shoes I enjoy and could wear for days straight without a problem.
- Pack snacks. Pack a few Cliff bars (my favorite bars) or granola bars for the trip so you don’t have to buy overpriced terminal food if you get stuck because of a delay.
- Bring an empty water bottle through security and fill on the inside. This is more of a cost saving tip than preparedness tip. Drinking water prevent dehydration and prevents plane sickness. Filling up a bottle at a water fountain can save you from buying an overpriced plastic water bottle. (Good for the environment, good for your wallet.)
What do you bring along with you while traveling? What items are a must-have on the plane? We would love to hear from you.
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