Travel is an essential part of business, but changing regulations have made it less convenient than in previous years. Now that most airlines charge to check a bag, the ability to effectively pack for a trip in a carry-on has never been more valuable.
It's the carry-on that separates the true jet-setters from the rest of the crowd. But what should you have in your superstar carry-on? Here are a few items you'll want to include on your next trip.
1. Card or passport holder
With all the stress of traveling, the last thing you want is to be digging frantically through your wallet or purse to find your passport or other ID when you need it. An individual holder for cards and passports can help streamline your check-in and security process by providing you with easy access to all your important travel documents. As an added bonus, having everything you'll need for the airport on hand means that you won't have to uncomfortably sit on a bulky wallet.
2. Water bottle
Ideally you won't have to spend hours in an airport terminal, but traveling is nothing if not unpredictable. Packing a reusable water bottle means you'll always be able to stay hydrated without having to pay airport prices to get a soda or coffee. However, while water bottles are totally fine to bring through airport security, just remember to empty it first to comply with the TSA's restrictions on flying with liquids. Don't worry - you can fill it up as soon as you get to your gate.
3. Scarf or sweater
Regardless of what time of year it is, it seems like a universal rule that planes and airports are uncomfortable when it comes to climate control. You may not want to bring a bulky coat on board with you - especially if your destination is warm - but you also don't want to be shivering through your entire flight. A scarf or light sweater is a perfect addition to your carry-on. These items are small enough to be unobtrusive, but they will still keep you warm on a cold plane. Don't forget that a rolled-up sweater or scarf can also double as a pretty effective airplane pillow if you want to catch some sleep.
4. Hand sanitizer
There's no two ways about it: Airports are dirty places. Considering the thousands of people who pass through the terminals every day - not to mention the passengers on your plane and those on the flight before yours - it's best to try not to think about the sheer number of germs you're coming into contact with. Instead, just pack a bottle of hand sanitizer in your carry-on. It will help you stay germ-free in the terminal, and you can use it on the plane after you use the lavatory without having to wrestle awkward airplane sinks. You can buy 1.5-ounce bottles that are perfectly fine to carry through security.
"Airports are dirty places."
5. Something to do
Few things will tax your sanity like a long layover or a canceled flight. When you're facing down a three-hour wait until the next plane, you'll be glad to have some entertainment on hand. There's plenty to do on your smartphone, but keep in mind batteries don't last forever and outlets at airports can come at a premium. Bring your charge cables along with you, of course, but also consider a form of entertainment that isn't battery-powered, like a book. Losing yourself in a good novel can help make an hours-long layover breeze by.