Unexpected Essential Items For Your Carry-On Luggage, Per Samantha Brown

Packing for a plane trip can be stressful. Maybe you want to skip bag check and pack everything in a carry-on for the sake of avoiding never-ending airline baggage fees. Perhaps you just want to be prepared for a long flight stuck in a small seat for hours on end. We all know that you're supposed to pack medications, travel documents, and perhaps a change of clothes in a carry-on, just in case your luggage gets lost, but what about other essentials? Travel pro Samantha Brown always has great packing advice, but she has a few tips for carry-ons that go above and beyond.


There are essentials for the trip itself, but let's start with the plane. Brown suggests packing soft earplugs and melatonin to create a relaxed environment for sleeping in that uncomfortable seat. (Always check with your doctor before taking any supplements, of course.) If you tend to get chilly, throw in a scarf, which Brown calls the Swiss army knife of accessories. You can use it as a blanket, as a barrier if your seat is less than clean, to cover your hands when you open the bathroom door on the plane, as a pillow, or even a makeshift eye mask if you forget one.

Avoid getting hangry by bringing peanut butter and dining essentials

Feeling hungry can ruin the best mood, and Samantha Brown says on her website that she gets "hangry" like everyone else when traveling. She explains, "When I'm hungry, I get angry. The best thing you can do in this situation is to find food immediately." That isn't always easy, both on the plane where choices are limited and while sightseeing when you don't know what's open. 


Brown has a solution: She always travels with peanut butter. She even says it can help meet locals. "What makes peanut butter an especially fab travel companion is its American-ness (is that a word?)," Brown highlights. "Hardly any other countries sell it, and people are curious about this American treat. Share some of this 'strange' snack, and I guarantee you'll make new friends."

Note that the TSA classifies peanut butter as a liquid. Brown says she brings peanut butter packets if she's taking a carry-on. That means you can put them in the bag with your liquids. (That goes for other types of dips as well.) She also recommends a spork for all your cutlery needs and a water bottle with a metal straw to reduce plastic use and save money on single-use bottles. To wash your water bottle on the road, Brown suggests getting a clean sponge soapy, letting it dry, cutting it into small pieces, and placing them in a Ziploc bag (every traveler's best friend) to activate later with water.


Packing the comforts of home in your carry-on

One surprising item Samantha Brown often packs in her carry-on is a teacup, as it's something she's comfortable with and makes her feel like herself when she drinks coffee in the morning. It's worth it to think about what makes you feel at home in a new place. Is it a favorite book? A necklace you love? Maybe you can't wake up without a specific type of protein bar, or you adore a particular lip balm. Of course, you're trying to save space, but sometimes a tiny bit of home can be soothing.


Another item to bring is the dry detergent that comes in sheet form. Brown says on her website, "Consider doing a little sink washing! You can use soap from your hotel or pack a few detergent sheets." They're the perfect thing to throw in a carry-on, even for unexpected spills and stains. One really useful item that Brown recommends putting in your bag is a 6-foot charging cord for your electronics. If you've ever tried to shut off an alarm on a phone tucked behind a hotel side table because your cord wasn't long enough, you'll thank her.