September 23, 2023


For splendid leisure

A flight attendant shares her top 10 items to always pack

6 min read

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Assorted travel items against a cloud background including a backpack, silk pillowcase, packing cubes, box of granola bars, and travel adapter

Every trip is better when you’ve packed the right stuff. (Photo: Amazon)

Travel is making its way back, after the setbacks of COVID. If you’re like us, you’re a bit out of practice on planning and packing. And maybe (like us, again) you never quite nailed that to begin with.

No problem. We tapped a true expert in the field — a former flight attendant with many miles under her belt — to help. Sakkara Barnwell has traveled to 14 countries across 4 different continents, and she has some serious experience when it comes to the goods that can make or break a trip.

Whether you’re visiting your mom in Florida, heading to a national park or taking the European vacay of your dreams, you’ll benefit from her wisdom and product picks below.

If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping, of course. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime still get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.)

So stow your carry-on, fasten your seatbelts and take in these trip-transforming tips!

Packing Pals

Totwo Travel Laptop Backpack

Grey backpack with many zippers and ipad, laptop, and phone connected

Sleek, efficient — and only $26! (Photo: Amazon)

With the limits on carry-on size, it can be hard to find the perfect personal bag for flights. But our expert might have nailed it here: Check out the Totwo Travel Laptop Backpack, Barnwell’s favorite travel bag. “It has a proper laptop storage area, a space designated for easy access to a portable charger and pockets, pockets, pockets!” she says. “This is the perfect way to pack a lot and keep it all organized.”

$26 with coupon $32 at Amazon

Amazon Basics 4-piece Packing Travel Organizer Cubes Set

4 grey zippered packing cubes of various sizes

A pro-traveler’s secret weapon against suitcase chaos. (Photo: Amazon)

Barnwell depends on packing cubes to keep the inside of her suitcase organized. Packing cubes offer a place for everything and keep everything in its place. The large cube here, just over 17 inches long, is sized right to hold (and consolidate) a stack of clothes. The smallest can corral randoms like charging cords. It’s a much better use of suitcase real estate. Plus, the cubes make unpacking so much easier! “Everything [stays] compact and organized and does so in a stylish way…no more [packing items in] Ziplocs for me!” says Barnwell.

$24 at Amazon

In-Flight Essentials

Lysol To Go Disinfectant Spray Travel Size 4-pack

4 travel size spray cans of Lysol disinfectant

Peace of mind in the form of portable spray disinfectant. (Photo: Amazon)

Using sanitizer is a simple way to reduce stress while traveling in 2022 (or anytime, actually). For ease and convenience, Barnwell recommends Lysol To Go. “I trust that airlines are maintaining optimum cleanliness, but what if they missed a spot?” says Barnwell. For every spot — even soft surfaces — there’s Lysol!

$13 at Amazon

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E Travel Size 3-pack

3 travel size white bottles of Palmer's Cocoa Butter lotion

Keep skin moisturized in flight (Photo: Amazon)

“I am completely obsessed with this lotion!” raves Barnwell. “Planes have the driest air in the cabin. Top that off with constant hand-washing and I am left with ashy, dry hands. Your skin is bound to suffer.” To combat this cycle, Barnwell trusts Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. “Palmer’s keeps my skin silky- smooth, moisturized all day and as an added bonus it smells absolutely amazing!” These travel-size cuties are perfect for your carry-on, purse or backpack.

$8 at Amazon

88 Acres Granola Bars 12-pack

A box of granola bars labeled

Pack a handful of these bars for quick hits of protein on the go. (Photo: Amazon)

Nourishing snacks are important for keeping stamina up through the rigors of airport navigation, layovers, rental car lines and whatever else your trip throws at you. Barnwell’s favorite option: 88 Acres Granola Bars. “They have simple ingredients, great flavors, 6 grams of protein in each, and are individually wrapped so I don’t have to touch them to eat them.” (You know, just in case you don’t get a chance to wash your hands in that moment.) “An added bonus is that they have no nuts or gluten so you don’t have to worry about triggering anyone’s allergies.” Smart when you’re sitting so close to fellow passengers.

$25 at Amazon

Kuulaa Power Bank Ultra-High Capacity Portable Battery

A lavender colored portable battery charger with multiple ports

Never get stuck on 1 percent battery again! (Photo: Amazon)

“There is nothing worse than getting to the airport and not having access to my perfectly curated Spotify playlist because my phone is dying…well, nothing except getting off of the plane and having to run around looking for outlets so you can charge up enough to order an Uber!” Barnwell says. We can relate. To stay angst-free before, during and after your flight, make sure you’re ready with a fully-juiced portable phone charger like this one.

“This model can fully charge any phone at least 4 times or an iPad 2.5 times!” It easily fits in your carry-on and can even charge two phones at once, so your travel companion can get a little boost, too.

$24 with coupon $27 at Amazon

Destination Necessities

Universal All in One Worldwide Travel Adapter

A black travel adapter plug with multiple slots

Keep it in your suitcase so you’re prepared to plug in, wherever you may land. (Photo: Amazon)

As you probably know, many countries have outlets that are different from those in the U.S. (much like how just about everyone else uses the metric system). Barnwell is always ready with her universal adapter. “Realizing you can’t plug in your blow dryer or cell phone when you arrive in another country is…not great. This universal adapter fits all the plugs in the world and keeps your phone from getting fried! I never leave the country without one.” This is arguably the most important item in this whole list!

$14 with coupon $15 at Amazon

Natural Silk Pillowcase for Hair and Skin

A grey silk pillowcase both loose and over a pillow

Sleep like a baby. Look like a goddess! (Photo: Amazon)

Keep your hair and skin happy for the duration of your stay with a natural silk pillow case, which Barnwell swears by. “Hotel bedding tends to be harsh and aggravating on my face. This lightweight silk pillowcase keeps my curls poppin’!” Since you’ll be spending a third of your trip (and your life) snoozing, we recommend you grab a couple of these to make every minute amazing.

$19 $22 at Amazon

Riiqiichy Women’s Pashmina

A blonde woman wearing a large, long beige scarf (pashmina)

Perfect for the plane, pretty enough for an evening out. (Photo: Amazon)

With limited space for packing — especially if you’re trying to pack light — items with multiple uses are treasures. The right pashmina can make or break a trip. “It’s large enough to be a mini blanket when the plane is cold. It’s a shawl when I’m in a more conservative country. It’s a scarf to keep me warm on cool nights. And in a pinch it can even serve as a sarong on the beach,” shares Barnwell. She loves this fringed option pashmina for its versatility and style.

$15 $21 at Amazon

Packable Travel Neck Pillow Alternative Down Puffer Jacket

A brunette man wearing a black puffer jacket with inset photo of him using the jacket as a neck pillow

Lightweight, packable and the ideal layering piece for cooler destinations. And ps it’s a pillow too. (Photo: Amazon)

Speaking of multi-use items, you’ll be the MacGyver of your destination with this Packable Travel Neck Pillow / Puffer Jacket. “This one was a definite game changer for me,” said Barnwell. “It conveniently becomes your neck pillow for the plane ride so it stays tidy.” And it’s just right for long walks or athletic hikes where temps are unpredictable.

$50 at Amazon

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