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10 Must-Have Carry-On Items

  • By Holly Bennett
  • Published Apr 4, 2013

One of the perks of my job as a journalist is having the opportunity to travel a fair amount. At the moment, for example, I’m beginning to pack for a four-week adventure in Asia, a trip that will include coverage of two new races, the Laguna Lang Co Triathlon in Vietnam and Challenge Taiwan. The packing process is always a daunting one for me–I mean how is a girl supposed to choose between so many potential cute outfits and pairs of shoes? But the one thing I have down to a science is packing my carry-on bag. There are a handful of essential items I wouldn’t dream of leaving home without–especially for a long-haul flight like the one I’ll soon take to Asia–nor would I let them out of my immediate control. I’ll share my top-10 list with you, in case a journey abroad figures into your future plans.

1. RACE KIT. A triathlon race kit is actually a pretty handy piece of apparel. After all, you can swim in it, ride in it and run it in–and if it’s as cute as mine from SOAS, you can hang out in it should your checked luggage go missing.

2. COMPRESSION SOCKS. You won’t catch me racing in compression socks, but I wouldn’t be caught dead without them on a flight. Any good pair of compression socks–like my favorites here from Pro Compression–will help keep your legs cankle-free and feeling good as you cruise around the terminal or settle into your airplane seat.

3. SUNGLASSES. I don’t go anywhere without my Rudy Project sunglasses, and the airport is no exception. Aside from the obvious need for fashionable sun-blocking shades upon arrival at my tropical destination, the dark lenses also help me catch extra Z’s (or simply incognito quiet time) when I’m stuck in a brightly lit terminal on a long layover.

4. REFILLABLE BOTTLE. I’m a heavy drinker–of water and electrolyte replenishment, that is–and a refillable bottle is a must on any flight. And while one can always buy beverages at the airport, many flights returning to the U.S. require a secondary security screening right at the gate where passengers are forced to discard presumably approved in-airport liquid purchases. Having learned this the hard way I now travel with a bottle every time, and The Slice from Fuel Belt is a perfect solution. Not only does it serve as an 18oz. water bottle in-flight, it’s also an invaluable (and insulated) source of handheld hydration to carry on runs in the hot and humid climate in Asia.

5. JET LAG PREVENTION. Long haul flights are physically taxing, especially for folks like me that struggle to sleep on board. JetZone is my go-to exhaustion buster–a homeopathic remedy that doesn’t have the full knockout quality or lasting side effects of a sleeping pill but that certainly helps to smooth the rough edges of jet lag.

6. INFINITY SCARF. Although I’ll pack my scarf away the minute I touch down in Asia, it’s a must-have comfort item for the journey. An infinity scarf (my favorite is from Athleta) serves as an extra snuggly bit of warmth on the overnight flight or can be bundled up to form a makeshift pillow. Heck, I imagine it could even be twisted around my hips or torso in Survivor-buff-style to form a skirt or tube top once I do touch down!

7. HAND LOTION. Nothing–I mean nothing–makes me feel more refreshed in the midst of 24-hours of travel than a whiff of Stress Relief Hand Cream from Bath and Body Works. The eucalyptus spearmint scent erases all memory of the nastiness that can be associated with travel and too much time spent in tight quarters, instead transporting you into a state of utter tranquility. And in a TSA-friendly 2.5 oz. size, what’s not to love?

8. ELECTROLYTE DRINK. As I’ve mentioned I hydrate like mad, especially when flying, and there’s no better (or tastier) way to take electrolytes on the go than with GU Electrolyte Brew Tablets. Each tube contains 12 effervescent tablets, perfect for infusing water with sodium and potassium all throughout my adventure overseas.

9. HEADPHONES. Sport headphones–like this awesome aqua blue pair from the yurbuds Inspire for Women line–are not only for working out. They also help while away the traveling hours when tuning into music or podcasts on an iPod. Plus they craft a “cone of silence” if your airplane seatmate is a bit too conversant–just pop in the ear buds (whether you’re listening to anything or not) and you’ll have immediate peace and quiet in your personal space.

10. BIKINI. Similar to a race kit, you can swim in a bikini. Plus you can sunbathe on the beach or by the pool in it, a versatility a race kit fails to provide. And a bikini will also double as a spare set of bra and panties in a pinch. For all these reasons, my carry-on bag is always stocked with a cute top and bottom, like this one from TYR.

Bon Voyage!

RELATED – Triathlon Tour Guide: Taiwan

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