Schlepping Diaries: What's in my Carry On

It is strangely important to me to have a well-edited carry on. It's way up there next to not forgetting my passport. I think it's my way of coping with the stress of flying. Whenever I have a trip coming up, I would start planning weeks in advance - visiting travel forums, checking out blogs, trawling Muji for newfangled travel-related stuff. In contrast, I wouldn't even know who would pick me up at the airport until the day before my flight.

I do feel that after years of overzealous packing I have finally hit the Goldilocks of carry on bags - not overpacked, not underpacked, just right - when I made a quick trip home over the weekend. Everything I brought, I needed, and I did not forget anything that would've been useful. Well, except hair ties. Stupid me forgot her hair ties.

First, food.

Flying frazzles me a lot (working on it, though; it's getting better each time), so I bring "stress-eating" food. If I'm travelling with le boyfriend, all of this would go in his bag, because I cannot be trusted with candy. Like, seriously, we'll be out of mints before we land depart get to the airport leave the house. And yes, I eat gummy vitamins for kids. Yummy and a tad bit healthier than normal gummy candies (and approved by my college roomie turned pediatrician Dr. Pau for adult consumption yay).

Next, survival gear.

Travel pillow.
I've tried several travel pillows (including the Jpillow which I quite like but people keep telling me how phallic it looks), but this one from Muji is the best I've found. It's very comfy, and also more versatile because you can unclip it into one long pillow. Plus, the cover is removeable and washable. If I took myself a little less seriously (and I really should) I might consider getting an ostrich pillow (look how comfy!!!). We'll see.

We all hate crying babies on a plane, but let's face it, there's no getting rid of them without looking like a giant baby-hating douche. So the next best thing is to get a good pair of headphones and crank up that playlist. Mine are from Bose; I think they're called Sound True and I got the "around ear" kind in the loveliest shade of mint.
To be perfectly honest they do sound a bit 'meh', but being migraine-prone my top priority is comfort. I actually tried on  the audiophile favorites (not that I am one, by any stretch of the imagination) - Audio Technica, AKG, Sennheiser - but after a minute or two my head feels like it's being gripped by a UFO catcher claw. And then I saw these, put them on, and my goodness. They're like a giant hug to the head. Hopefully the sound will improve once I burn them in some more. Fun Fact: did you know that pink noise is often used to burn in headphones? No, not this blog. Actual pink noise. Yes, it's a thing.


Fully-charged Powerbank (and a multitude of charging cables).
Also self-explanatory.

Travel wallet.
I prefer travel wallets to passport holders. It just works better for me to have everything together, because I tend to misplace things as I go about the airport which results in massive panic when I have to present them (one time I left my boarding pass at the Longchamp store in Changi and did not realize it until I was on the other side of the terminal and had to present it to purchase pork jerky for pasalubong). I got this travel wallet two years ago in Germany (where Samsonite is the cheapest option), and it's a bit scruffy looking now but I have yet to find a replacement that would fit my Overseas Employment Certificates without having to fold them. It holds my passport, boarding pass, itineraries, the aforementioned hard-to-fit OECs, and my Be a Changi Millionaire receipts (

Tiny notebook and several pens.
For when I need to scribble things.

This travel bag is from Jetstar, and it came with an inflatable travel pillow, a blanket, socks, sleeping mask, ear plugs, toothbrush, and a Bloom lip balm. And only fifteen dollars, so it's quite a steal! 
Fluffy socks.
Did you know that keeping your feet warm can help you sleep better? I usually get mine from Daiso or Uniqlo or H&M.

I never go anywhere without ibuprofen. And to quote Anthony Bourdain: "The need for Imodium will probably present itself, and you don't want to be caught without it." I keep my meds in these cute ziplock bags from Daiso, with a couple of bandaids thrown in for good measure. Also, very important: Vicks inhaler, because there is no escaping odors in an aircraft, and if they happen to be bad, you'd be glad to have a scented stick to shove up your nostrils.

So yeah, I don't know why I brought tea bags. These are good, though.

Kikay kit.
Only the bare essentials - blotting paper, lip balm, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and hand cream - because eventually I realized there is no pressing need to deplane with contoured cheeks and a cat eye. My one concession is the tiny eyebrow kit from Kate, because brows need to be on point. Always.

Last but not least: Reading materials.
I never travel without pre-loading my Kindle with a couple of new books. Light reading only, because flying is stressful enough as it is without the complexity of powering through 100 Years of Solitude amidst aircraft turbulence. So it's mostly Anthony Bourdain and Chelsea Handler and David Sedaris (if his books had digital versions; last I checked they weren't available in Amazon boo).
I also try to pick up a magazine or two from the airport kiosks, so I have something to flip through during takeoff and landing; with nothing to distract me every little bump drives me a little bit closer to being batshit crazy. Seriously. One time I didn't have anything with me so I fixated on the in-flight magazines instead, and that is how I know that Cebu Pacific is the first carrier in the Philippines to have A320s equipped with sharklets, which reduce fuel consumption by up to 4% (It was a particularly turbulent flight and to keep my mind from going berserk I kept telling myself to focus on the damn sharklets).

I also found out that this guy is adopted; I hope he knows that too.

And that's it! I try and keep my carry on light and roomy (because Changi Airport Duty Free). For longer trips I might bring along my Macbook, and expand my kikay kit to include facial wipes and a moisturizer, and maybe a cheek tint and face powder. And maybe a change of clothes in case someting happens to my checked baggage. At any rate, I always try to ensure that my bag can fit under the seat so I don't have to deal with people who bring too many carry on bags and occupy the entire overhead compartment.

Up next: the search for the perfect schlepping bag (because my mother has sequestered mine and it has now been discontinued and I do not fancy what they have replaced it with). Stay tuned ;)

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