This summer I had the privilege of traveling to Uganda with a small group from my church. We were able to help put on a kids camp at the church and just get to know the community a bit. It was my first time out of the country, and my first time making a long distance flight! (The farthest I had been previously was a six hour flight to Hawaii.) This trip was (from Portland, Oregon), about 7 hours to JFK, about 15 hours to Dubai, and about another 7 to Uganda. Most with hours of layovers in between. So, needless to say, I dove headfirst into travel experience! Haha.
Fortunately, I had asked instagram for advice on things I absolutely must have before I went on the trip. Thank god, I really wouldn’t have known what I need on a flight like that! I figured there must be some other newbie travelers out there who are needing some tips on what they should bring on their trips. Either that or people who are just curious about what’s in my bag. (Does anyone else remember reading those celebrity “What’s in my purse” articles? Lol. I LIVED for those.) So here we go! Things I brought, things I wish I would have brought, and things I could have lived without.
So GLAD I brought:
(1) Neck pillow – I never knew how essential this was and I would have been miserable without.
(2) Headphones – You’re going to want to watch movies, listen to music, or just tune things out. I also brought an extra pair, just to be safe. On the long flights they gave out headphones but they were crappy quality, over the ear ones. So I definitely recommend bringing your own!
(3) A small blanket – Those flights get FREEZING sometimes! Even with the small blankets they handed out, I was using my own and still a bit chilly at times. It also doubles as a pillow or just something nicer to sit on haha.
(4) Toothpaste and Toothbrush – 42 hours till I got where I needed to be… It would have been real rough at the end without these. I brushed me teeth between every layover!
(5) Rose water face spray – Your skin tends to get dry when traveling (you are at a high elevation and not able to drink much water). I bought a little travel size Rose Water Spray that I used in the flight to freshen up dull feeling skin and also during the layovers. I thought it seemed a little extra, but ended up feeling so glad I brought it!
(5) Makeup remover wipes – I wore a little makeup on the flight, so during layovers I would take off old makeup and spray my rose face spray on. My skin needed it. I’d usually reapply a little before the next flight. (Partially because it helped me not feel so bummy in my sweatpants and messy bun, and partially because it gave me something to do during the layovers lol.)
(6) Regular travel size wipes & travel size deodorant – If you’re going to be traveling for a while I HIGHLY recommend. You’re literally just sitting for hours on end, maybe with strangers napping on your shoulder, definitely brushing up against lots of people in crowded airports. By the time it’s time to get on the next flight you’re covered in smells. I was so glad I brought and wished a lot of other people I encountered had brought as well. (LOL)
(7) Extra underwear, extra socks, extra leggings, extra tee – If you’re going to be on a long flight, it feels amazing to change during a layover. I was so glad I brought an extra pair of underwear, socks, and leggings and t-shirt. I brought a little plastic bag to put the dirty clothes in. If you’re not going to be traveling as long as 42 hours, maybe at least an extra pair of underwear and socks is enough.
(8) Tampons/Pads – I head that the elevation/stress of traveling can make you start your period at weird times. I didn’t listen, but thank god someone else on my team did, because I needed her supplies about 2 weeks sooner than I should have. IT’S NOT A MYTH.
(9) Sleep pills – I used a basic Kirkland brand and it worked fine for me. Maybe if you have a hard time sleeping already ask your doctor for a prescription grade. SO glad I brought this. (I pulled an all nighter before I left, forced myself to stay awake on the first 7 hour flight, then took a sleeping pill and knocked out for about 8 hours on the 14 hour flight.) PRO STATUS.
(10) Pain pills – Glad I brought my travel size ibuprofin. Ended up needing it for dehydration headaches and cramps on the flight. You never know what’s going to happen!
(11) Chapstick – Maybe this should have been first on the list. I already have one for my purse, my nightstand, my car, at work…Of course I needed one. I would have LITERALLY DIEEEED. (Not dramatic)
(12) Phone charger – Because obviously. I also brought my adapter for Africa, which was a pretty bulky item to carry with me all that time, but once I got to Dubai, most of the chargers were not meant for American phone chargers, and in Uganda none of them were.
(13) Beef jerky/snacks – Because when is beef jerky not a good idea? (Probably when you’re vegan.) Either way, get ya some nice filling snacks so you don’t have to pay too much for, most likely, unhealthy, overpriced airport food.
(14) Travel fanny pack – I bought one of those discrete, under clothes traveler bag for my passport, money and plane tickets. It was kind of an extra pain to take off at TSA, but I never got stolen from or lost anything, so I guess I’d call it’s a success.
(15) I should probably include what I wore! I wore sweatpants, slides, a tee and a sweatshirt. Comfort > everything. Wouldn’t have changed a thing about the outfit.
I WISH I had brought:
(1) Gum – I don’t know how I forgot. The amount of times I wished I had a piece… The amount of times I went looking for it in airports only to turn away because I couldn’t bear how overpriced it was… Rookie mistake.
(2) A better neck pillow – Like I said, SO glad I had one. It was so important that I wished I had a better one! Mine was a very standard one, but before my next big trip I’m going to invest in a better one with more cushion and neck support!
(3) A more comfy backpack – I just used my old Nike backpack that I normally use as my gym bag. I spent so long walking around the airport with the uncomfortable straps that I had never realized were uncomfortable before. I was really happy with the size, and that it was a backpack instead of an over the shoulder bag. But for how much time I spent walking around airports, a good supportive backpack would have been great.
(4) Face lotion – I forgot this too. I had that great face spray, but my skin was still dry even after that. A travel sized face lotion would have been ideal.
(5) Tea Bags – My travel mate had some and I thought it was such a good idea! They usually just serve black tea or coffee when they come around with drinks on the flight. My stomach was often upset, so next time I fly I plan on bringing some peppermint tea so I can just go ask an attendant for hot water. (Which I also didn’t know was OK to do!)
(6) Ginger mints – That flight food and elevation, man. These would have come in handy. (I got this weird flash sickness on the way to Dubai on the return flight. I suddenly got cold sweats, nauseous and dizzy and barely made it to the bathroom, where I passed out on the toilet. FUN TIMES! Thank god I woke up on my own and the flight attendants didn’t have to pull my half naked body off the airplane toilet LOL. I made it back to my seat still nauseous just in time before passing out again. Then, about 20 minutes later, I was fine.) Moral of the story: Whatever happened, ginger mints would have been nice.
(7) Emergen-C – There’s so many germs circulating in the air up there. I bought like a $10 immune booster smoothie at one of the airports when we landed because I just felt gross, but it would have been cool if I just had a packet of Emergen-C and didn’t spend $10 on a smoothie, ya know?
I DIDN’T need:
(1) My heavy study Bible – I’m so glad I brought it, because we ended up not having wifi at the house for the first week, and I used my footnotes to make a sermon from! That being said, I definitely didn’t pick it up ONCE on the way there. I definitely wished my backpack was a little lighter A LOT of times. Haha. I definitely read from the Bible app on my phone, which was definitely all I needed on the flight there. Lesson learned.
(2) Jeans – I don’t really know why I brought jeans. I guess I thought at some point along the trip I’d like to stop looking like a potato, but turns out I don’t really have issues with potatoes. I do, however, have issues with wearing anything constraining on planes when I’m trying to sleep.
And that about sums it up! All things considered, I guess I did pretty good for my first time really traveling. I hope this list was helpful if you’re thinking about traveling and need some good packing advice. If you’re a travel pro, what are some of your GO TO carry on items?