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Air travel | 7 essential carry-on items you should always have with you

Every traveler wants his or her flight to go smoothly. However, it often happens that something goes wrong. Maybe you forgot to pack your medication, or the airline sent your bags to the wrong destination. That's life. So make sure you are prepared for unforeseen circumstances! In this article we give a number of useful tips what you should take with you in your hand luggage, whether you are planning a normal flight or a complete world trip makes – these are the must-have items in your hand luggage no matter what.

Also read: These 6 tips will make your next flight more comfortable.
Also read: Five expert tips for eating well sleeping on the plane

1. Second form of ID

Most of us cling to our passports frantically when we travel the world. This passport feels like a kind of sacred document, because in your eyes this document really means all or nothing. However, a number of things can happen to your passport while traveling, such as accidentally losing it at the airport, leaving it in a hotel, theft or just a corrupt police officer who takes it. Whatever the reason for loss - it's always good to have a backup with you. An identity card, a driving license or even an international driving license from the ANWB. It is also wise to never keep your passport and your 2nd form of identity together - if you lose you will still lose both. Do you keep your passport in your hand luggage? Then you have your extra ID in your pocket or wallet. Not together!

If you travel internationally, you will of course need a passport as your most important proof of identity. A handy tip for world travelers is to make a copy of your passport in case you lose your passport. You can also take a picture of it and save it in the cloud, so that you can always access it with a password, anywhere in the world. Make sure you have good online security!

It is easier to get a new passport from the local embassy if you can show a photocopy of an ID. This five-second trick can save you hours or even days of unnecessary stress, especially if there's a language barrier.

2. Empty water bottle

I went to South Africa just before the corona crisis and while I was waiting in line for security, I saw a familiar face: travelers who try to knock down a bottle of drink at the last minute because they have to leave it at Customs. Three minutes later, the same people buy bottles of water for 4 euros at expensive airport shops as soon as they are through the gates. Duh!

To avoid the bloated feeling of a liter of booze in the stomach and the expense of that experience, I travel with my empty refillable water bottle (only €9,95 in our webshop) which I fill with water as soon as I get through the gates. There are water fountains or taps all over the airports to fill your water bottle. That water is almost always free, and it tastes just as good as the expensive bottles from the airport store.

3. Medication

I personally don't need much to get on a plane. But many people with a fear of flying provide some appropriate medication before departure. If you are that person, it is good to always have some extra medication with you for long flights. Many people also suffer from headaches due to the change in air pressure and dry air. Painkillers in your hand luggage is certainly not a bad idea.

Also read: Travel and Malaria | Everything you need to know about malaria pills

If you have other conditions, make sure you have enough medication for at least a day or three. You know, in case the flight is delayed and/or your bags don't arrive at your destination at the same time as you. Also be pressure regulating travel earplugs (only €4,95 in our webshop) a must for long flights.

4. Device Chargers

Often I travel by train to the nearest airport and my battery is half empty by the time I get there 90 minutes later. Since I almost have a stroke if my battery drops below 10 percent, I always have my chargers and a small power bank in my carry-on. Nowadays you can find plugs and USB sockets everywhere at airport terminals, on airplanes, trains and even in taxis. You will also most likely need your phone in the event of an emergency, which is great if you still have some battery capacity left.

5. Toothbrush

If you can't shower for an extended period of time – maybe you're on a particularly long flight or you have some unexpected changes in your travel plans – a fresh toothbrush and toothpaste will leave you feeling clean so you can get on with it for a while. A few refreshing wipes are also a godsend – you can at least wash your face or other parts of your body with them, if you need to.

6. Cash

I rarely use cash because I love the compactness and convenience of my debit and credit cards† Still, I always carry cash, both euros and dollars. I have been on more than one trip where for security reasons they suddenly blocked the account due to suspicious activity after a single pin movement. That generally means my banking institutions are trying to protect me from fraud situations, but it's really annoying when I have to pay for something, and downright annoying when I can't access a working phone to make a call and fix the error right away. Now I always travel with about 100 euros in cash in my wallet when I travel so that I can afford at least essential things like food or a taxi ride to the hotel.

7. Multifunctional jacket or coat

Do you know why most forms of public transport keep their cars and cabs in cold temperatures? Me neither ? But I always travel, always, with a light jacket or hoodie – even if it's 35 degrees where I'm leaving or where I'm going. If I don't have to wear it, at least I now have something to lay my head on when the cocktails kick in.

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