What I Carry On With Me

Photograph by Tala Parker

Photograph by Tala Parker

There are a few things that I always have with me in my backpack when traveling.

Passport! (if traveling internationally)

If there’s one thing you need to remember, it’s your passport. Almost everything else you can survive without or you can purchase it again later. I keep my passport in a leather passport case, along with a mini pen for filling out customs form, my debit card, and any cash that I have (US dollars and currency of the country I’m visiting).

Noise canceling headphones

Noise canceling headphones are a game changer when it comes to flights. A good pair will completely drone out the hum of the plane and the sounds of screaming children. Plus, I feel it’s a treat to listen to music how it was truly created to be heard––in quality surround sound. I love my new Bose Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones. They are wireless which makes moving around the plane a breeze. They also have buttons on the side that control volume and can pause, skip, or repeat songs. They’re rechargeable, and a full battery lasted me about 20 hours of travel.

Photograph by Tala Parker

Photograph by Tala Parker


When I first went to Antarctica to work on ship for six weeks I had a conundrum; how could I possibly bring enough books to read for the month and a half I was away without filling the precious space in my suitcase with them all? My answer came in a Christmas present my grandmother had gifted me a few years before but which I had never used; a Kindle. I love paper books––the smell, the tactile feel of thumbing through pages, the weight and the accomplishment of completing them. But a Kindle is smaller and considerably lighter than just one softcover book. Plus, through my local library, I can use Overdrive, an online resource that allows you to borrow a considerable number of books for 21 days for free. I now only use my Kindle, regardless of whether I’m traveling or not because it’s considerably cheaper than buying paper books and is usually much faster than waiting for library books to become available.

Water Bottle

A water bottle is a necessity on all travels. I use a large Hydro Flask that both keeps water hot or cold for a number of hours. Most flight attendants will be willing to fill up your bottle to eliminate your need for a small plastic cup. Plus, it’s great for me because they give you much more water than they would in just that little plastic cup and I need a lot of water, especially in the dry atmosphere of a plane.

Phone (music and downloaded Netflix)

I make sure my phone is fully charged and loaded with interesting media. I download music from Apple Music, shows and movies from Netflix and Prime Video, and podcasts.


Pretty self-explanatory; it’s important to have all of the chargers you need with you just in case one of your electronics die.

Photograph by Tala Parker

Photograph by Tala Parker

Sleep mask and melatonin

I often have trouble sleeping on planes, but it can be crucial to sleep on a red-eye. I find that a sleep mask and some melatonin helps a lot.


Just recently, I was on a descending flight when my ear wouldn’t adjust to the changing altitude. Luckily, I had some Advil with me which works as an anti-inflammatory and allowed my ear to climatize. Plus, you never really know when you’ll get a headache or have some body pain so it’s good to have some medicine just in case.

Wool blanket scarf

I recently discovered that traveling with a large wool scarf is revolutionary. Not only can they act as a scarf/shawl, but they can also double as a blanket. I would recommend investing in one that’s at least two feet wide and made from quality wool which will keep you much warmer than a synthetic material.

Puffer jacket

Planes can be cold, so it’s good to have an extra layer with you just in case. Plus, a puffer jacket makes for an excellent pillow.

Food & snacks

I feel gross after eating food provided on planes. Plus, it’s all packaged in plastic. I like to bring one “meal” (usually pasta, vegetable, and some meat or tofu) which must be eaten shortly after getting on the plane due to it needing refrigeration. In addition, I’ll bring various snacks with me to get me through my travels (apples and other fruit that isn’t easily crushed, almonds and cranberries, crackers, etc.). In addition to bringing food, I also bring my zero-waste to-go utensils which I bought from Etsy.

Hand lotion

I like to bring some hand lotion to keep moisturized throughout my travels. Plus, putting on some nice smelling lotion can make me feel fresh and ready to continue my travels. I use Lush’s Therapy massage bar ($13) and keep it in a metal tin ($4). I love it because it’s super moisturizing, smells great, and doesn’t explode like some liquid lotions do on planes.


If I need to bring my laptop with me during my travels I carry it on with me. It adds considerable weight, so if possible store it in a small carry-on suitcase to ease the burden.


As with the laptop, if I do bring a camera I carry it on with me to prevent it from being crushed and damaged in my suitcase. This also adds weight.