Top 10 Essential Hand Luggage Items

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The last thing you want to be doing ten minutes before heading to the airport is panic packing your holiday essentials. Make sure you’ve got everything you need by following our guide to hand luggage essentials…


Have you ever seen the face of someone queuing at an airport check-in at the exact moment they realise they’ve forgotten their passport? It’s not pretty…take our word for it. Before you leave the house check a million times it’s in your bag and ensure you’ve any necessary tickets and your itinerary. It always helps to know when and where you’re going.

Moisturiser and lip balm

The recycled air on aeroplanes is a nightmare for skin, especially if you’re on a long-haul flight. For those with sensitive or dry skin, it’s a good idea to forego make-up and regularly apply lip balm and moisturiser so that you don’t look like a shriveled prune on arrival.

A book

Unless you’re on a business trip and have urgent work to do, there’s a good chance you’ll want to kick back and relax. Pack a book, or your Kindle if you don’t want to get caught brazenly enjoying Fifty Shades of Grey, and get a head start on your beach reading.

Boiled Sweets

If you’re one of those unfortunate souls whose ears react to air travel like popcorn responds to a microwave, then you’re going to need to equalize the pressure that builds up when you’re at altitude. Chewing gum and boiled sweets should help you swallow, while drinking lots of water is also advisable. Failing that you may want to try a dose of aspirin to help with any discomfort.

Travel pillow

Don’t pretend you’re not jealous of that guy (or girl) who smugly pulls an inflatable travel pillow from their bag, cushions their head and falls into a graceful slumber. Bite the bullet and make the purchase before travelling…you know it’s better than sleepily slobbering on the stranger next to you.

Another layer

Aeroplanes may be regulated to match room temperature, but for some reason it always feels a little chilly when you’re cruising at 30,000 feet. Don’t get caught out, throw an extra layer in your bag or carry a light scarf which you can drape over yourself.


If you’re going to binge, booze and then sleep on a plane, it’s only polite that you freshen up your breath. You could rely on a quick mouthwash gargle, a mint or some gum, but what would your dentist say. He’d say, ‘brush your teeth’. We agree, although we don’t suggest flossing in public.

Flight socks

In an ideal world you’ll be wearing flight socks before you get to the airport, but if you want to minimize the amount of time spent sporting hideously ugly elasticated cotton then carry them in your hand luggage and slip them on when aboard the plane. Despite our lighthearted tone it’s worth remembering Deep Vein Thrombosis is no laughing matter, so they’re a good idea.

Plug adaptor

You could pack this little gem in your suitcase, but let’s be honest it always gets lost in there. Keep it in your hand luggage and you’ll have it to hand the moment you reach your hotel. Who can think of anything better than a first night abroad appreciating the novelty of free foreign electricity? No? Just us then…


Whether you’re filling in one of those fiddly immigration questionnaires, undertaking a newspaper crossword or just eager to get the number of the luscious person sitting next to you, you’re going to need a pen. A smart phone will do a lot of things, but it doesn’t produce ink!

We teamed up with Andrew Allen from for this guest post.

Andrew Allen is the editor of Quidblog and a freelance journalist who spends his weekends live blogging sporting action for The Times.