Travel Tip: The Airline Bag

Most of the time I fly internationally, I try to fly at least business class, but that is not always an option. On occasion, I must fly economy and I know that the vast majority of people who travel overseas are stuck in the same situation. Between cramped seats, minuscule leg room, chairs that don’t recline and bad food, flying economy on any flight over 6 hours is really, truly a nightmare.

However, there are some tricks which make it easier and one of my favorites is what I call “the airline bag”. Now, if you’ve ever flown business class (or above) on any major international flight, you’ll know that each traveler gets a small toiletry bag that contains stuff like a pair of socks with tread on the bottom, chap stick, a pen, a sleeping mask, and other such niceties. While these bags are never distributed to economy passengers, that doesn’t have to stop you from making one of your own in the unfortunate event you end up flying economy!

Airline Bag, by Suz

Airline Bag, by Suz

The best way to start your airline bag is to find and purchase a small zippered pouch to house of your necessary travel items. Michael Kors sells very handy, perfectly sized cosmetic bags, which run around 80 USD. If this is too expensive, other designers and stores sell similar zippered pouches for much cheaper prices (Victoria’s Secret comes to mind). All you need to do is take some time to hunt around and find a cute zippered pouch that’s in your price range. Bonus points if it has interior pockets and compartments, which you can fill later with items you will want to keep handy while aboard your flight. And men, don’t worry–there are many masculine travel kits for you to choose from as well! Just be sure that the bag has a zipper as you don’t want your small items spilling onto the floor or into the airline seat pouch. Oftentimes snaps and other closures accidentally come undone when you’re jamming your bag into and out of either your purse, carry-on, or the seat pocket in front of you.

Once you’ve picked a good zippered bag to turn into your “airline bag”–now fill it up with goodies! Think about the items you commonly need while aboard a plane, the type of items you either fill your purse up with or that you end up digging around for in your carry-on. Also think about any situations that may arise that you would normally be unprepared for–say a coughing fit, or perhaps a runny nose, or maybe dry eyes or, for women, getting your period unexpectedly. Make a list of things you think you would benefit from having handy on a long airplane ride. Once you’ve done this, go to your local Target (Target tends to have a better “travel sized” section than other stores like WalMart or Rite Aid) and try to find small, travel sized portions of the items on your list.

The interior of my airline bag.

The interior of my airline bag.

To give you an idea of what to include in your”airline bag” and to help you determine what you may need, here’s a list of the things I keep in mine:

–Mini deodorant (if you have long layovers or flights, after awhile you start to smell, and if your connections are short, you’ll run a lot and sweat profusely between gates and having deodorant is a lifesaver!)

–Small container of Midol and a tampon (yes ladies, do yourself a favor and add this)

–Ear plugs (for sleeping)

–Eye mask (for sleeping)

–A pen (to fill out customs forms)

–A spare contact lens case + a small bottle of contact solution (because flying dries out your eyes and sometimes those contacts just need to come OUT)

–Eye drops (for dry eyes)

–A mini set of my favorite skin care products (moisturizer, eye cream, and serum–I like Ole Henriksen’s “3 Little Wonders Mini Box“)


–Hand moisturizer

–Mini toothbrush + paste (you really will enjoy being able to brush your teeth after eating those terrible airline meals!)

–Large, comfy socks (to put over your support hose, which you SHOULD wear)

–Mints/gum (for popping your ears when the air pressure changes AND in case the guy sitting next to you is hot!)

–A few business cards (because you never know who you’re gonna end up sitting next to and airplanes can be a very unique and fruitful place to network)

–Headache/pain tablets (Advil, Midol, etc, in case of a headache or fever)

–A few packets of Emergen-C or Airborne Tablets (these help to dramatically decrease the likelihood of picking up a disease onboard)

–Travel size packet of wet wipes (for your face and hands, because it’s easier than getting up to wash your hands after every meal)

–Nose spray (for allergies on board)

–EpiPen (if you have serious allergies this is a MUST)


–A lightweight cap (to keep your head warm on cold flights; I prefer a lightweight wool cap)

–Back up copies of customs forms for the countries you will be visiting + your arrival slip for return to your home country (so you can have them pre-filled out and not waste time trying to get a copy and filling it out each and every time you fly somewhere).

If you fly First, don't even read this post, lol.

If you fly First , don’t even read this post, lol.

These are just a few items from my “airline bag”, but I hope they give you a good idea of what you can include in yours! Even if you’re not in business or first class, it doesn’t mean you must fly in pain. If you pack an “airline bag” in the outside pocket of your carry-on bag, you can simply grab it, toss it in your seat and be good to go for the flight, instead of having to constantly get up and down throughout the flight, or to dig through your bag for items you may not even have. If you have an “airline bag” along with a pillow and small blanket to put over your legs for those cold, long international flights, you’ve done all you can do to turn your economy seat into an economy plus oasis. Some international airlines do give you complimentary blankets and pillows, but unless you’re familiar with the airline and know for sure what they do and do not provide, it’s infinitely better to be stuck with an extra blanket and pillow than without one at all.

Lastly, don’t forget a good book, your passport, your tickets and your wanderlust! See you in economy (but only if I have to….) 😉

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