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6 Post-Pandemic Travel Essentials for Your Carry-On Bag

6 Post-Pandemic Travel Essentials for Your Carry-On Bag

If you’re thinking about traveling internationally anytime soon, here are your post-pandemic must-haves for a long haul flight.

Booking my first international flight out of Australia in two years felt surreal. Part of me didn’t want to get too excited as I couldn’t believe it would go ahead—surely some new variant would emerge or our government would change its mind and close our borders again? As the trip approached and it looked like everything was going to go ahead, I started to prepare as if I’d never traveled long-haul before. And in some ways, it felt like I hadn’t. I’d completely forgotten how to pack a carry-on bag and nearly even forgot to pack my mask.

1. A comfortable mask

While some countries have relaxed mask rules for domestic flights, unfortunately it looks like masks will be compulsory on international flights for a while yet. I boarded my long-haul flight from Sydney to LAX wondering how strict the airline would be with the mask policy—surely they wouldn’t make us wear it for the entire 13 hours?! But alas, they did. We were required to keep our masks on the entire flight, except for when we were eating and drinking.

This means that when you’re choosing a mask to fly in, you need to choose one that you can comfortably sleep in. Here are some of my picks:

Lululemon Ear Loop Face Mask 3 Pack, $38
Underarmour Sportsmask Featherweight, $25

2. Something to keep your paperwork organised

Flying to the USA meant printing out a seven (!!) page form, on top of my travel testing results and vaccination certificate. Each country has its own travel requirements, but regardless of where you’re flying, you’ll probably find you have a ton of paperwork floating around in your carry-on bag.

A travel purse or document organiser can save you from being that person at the front of the queue, holding everyone up by rummaging through their bag to find that one missing piece of paper. Yes, that person was me.

The ReNew Transit Bag, Everlane, $40
Clear Flat Travel Pouch, Stoney Clover Lane, $189

3. In-flight skincare

Long-haul flights tend to wreak havoc on your skin at the best of times, and wearing a mask for extended periods can make this even worse. I usually have clear, easy-to-manage skin, but wearing a mask for 13 hours meant some little pimples erupted on my chin a few days after I landed.

Make sure you’re packing both hydrating skincare and barrier creams, to protect your skin from the dehydrating effects of flying, while also popping to the lavatory during your flight to cleanse your skin. If you’re wearing a disposable mask, you might want to consider switching to a fresh mask every few hours too.

Weleda Sheer Hydration Moisture Mist, $14.99
Weleda Skin Food, $12.49

4. Entertainment

While this is usually a no-brainer for long-haul travel, expect even longer delays than usual with various travel requirements and staff shortages. This means you might be on your feet, standing in queues for quite a while (I spent 2 hours in line for a travel test!). If you’re comfortable reading while standing, pack a good book or some fresh downloads on your Kindle.

My personal favourite? I love to switch on my Bose Quiet Comfort headphones and listen to a podcast or audiobook. The noise-canceling effect helped me to get over my flying anxiety, and when I’m in airport crowds, I love being able to escape into my own quiet cocoon.

(Psst! Want a good audiobook? Click here for a free trial of Audible and get an audiobook of your choice absolutely free).

5. Hand sanitiser and wipes

We’re more than two years into the pandemic, so hand sanitiser is probably ingrained into your daily routine more than you would like. While most airlines have some available if you ask for it, it’s easier to simply take your own.

Between dirty tray tables, airport transfer buses and seatback entertainment screens, you’ll be glad you packed sanitising wipes for your flight.

You might also like: How To Cure Jetlag: 8 Tips From a Travel Editor

6. Vitamins and supplements

I’m sceptical of anyone who spruiks immune-boosting supplements, but when my doctor recommended a few simple vitamins to ensure my body was in top shape for fighting off any kind of virus, I decided to pay attention. I packed vitamin D, quercetin, zinc and resveratrol supplements to keep my immune system happy—and I didn’t get so much as a simple cold the whole time I was away.

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