Packing hand luggage like a pro


I’m lucky enough to travel pretty regularly with work and over the years I’ve got my hand luggage packing down pat. I love flying but it kind of blows for comfort and glamour, unless you’re going business. Packing well can mean the difference between crawling off a plane with shit hair and pasty bad skin and emerging like VB in a pap shot at Heathrow. Who cares? You may ask. Well, when you’re flying with work and trying to impress people or schmooze clients, looking presentable becomes vaguely more important.

So, here’s what I pack. All the other essentials are in my handbag because, of course, I do not travel with just one bag. As if I could manage that.

1. Kindle – I was a Kindle naysayer for a long time. I like buying books, I have loads of books, I like their smell, their feel… just like vinyl purists bemoaned the Generic MP3 Player, I avoided the Kindle. Then I got one for travelling and everything changed. As well as reading lots (this is the trash I’ve downloaded for my current trip), I think the apps are great. Spotify is was nicer on here than on the iPhone and Twitter and Facebook also function really well. I need to get some games on it too, but I have no idea about that sort of thing. Any ideas?

2. Headphones – forget about crappy aeroplane headphones. Your music is interrupted every time they make a safety announcement! Just kidding, you should obviously try and listen to them. I like bringing my own headphones because I have an enormous head and always find that plane headphones don’t fit comfortably – or if they’re in-ear ones, the sound is crap. These also operate as a ‘please leave me alone’ prop pretty nicely.

3. Bag – a big squidgy bag is great because you can bung all your airport buys in it but still squidge it under the street in front of you rather than putting it overhead. I.e. far away. I know one shouldn’t be too concerned about such things, but a tasteful bag always makes you look presentable too – even if you’re dressed in your comfy sloppy gear.

4. Pillow – I don’t know if this is a bit princessy, but these things make sleeping in cramped spaces about a million times easier. Also good for hiding your face if you happen to be seated next to one of your colleagues/the PR but want to feign sleep. Not that I’d ever be so antisocial.

5. Cashmere jumper – this one definitely is a bit princessy, but IDGAF. Plane temperatures are notoriously all over the place and you can’t rely on a crappy blanket to keep you warm now can you? This is vintage and cost me about £5 so it’s not really *that* princessy but it looks good and, being grey, goes with everything. This has joined me on every flight I’ve been on in the last six years. I know I exaggerate about everything but that’s a legit fact. It has holes in the elbows now, so sad.

6. Marimekko bag of fun – this little pouch was a present many moons ago and while we were travelling I adopted it as my travel plug/cable/wires container. You’ve always got to carry that crap around with you when you travel, so you might as well keep it somewhere cute eh? Also, it minimises the risk of losing all those things which are generally pretty important.


Stella McCartney Lily – the bottle is supposed to represent English cut vases, but let’s be real it represents a pineapple. Perfume is always good – emotional comfort as well as masking stinking seat neighbours.

Eve Lom Kiss Mix – I hate having dry lips and planes are the worst for it. If you take one beauty product on a plane with you, make it a good rich balm like this which you can also multi-task with on dry skin and eyebrows.

Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Moisture Mist – this is a proper celebrity-on-a-plane thing to say, but I bloody love this stuff. Staying hydrated on planes is night on impossible – sure, the advice says to avoid alcohol and drink twice the water you’re supposed to, but who does that? Water or free gin at 6am? No brainer really. I keep this on my desk, in my hand luggage and in my bag when I’m travelling somewhere hot. It’s designed for your hair but it’s great on skin too – just spray on your face and you instantly feel less tight and gross.

A grotty hair elastic – in a dream world, there would be power points in the cabin and you could carry your tongs/straighteners/Big Hair with you. Until that day, a grotty hair elastic it is. I like to go with a plait or top knot while I’m flying; something that will make your hair look good instantly when you take it down. If you *really* wanted to look good, you should try Gemma’s headband curls which are THE BEST and which I do at least once a week in bed.

Barefoot Botanicals Rosa Fina – once again, I must apologise for wankery. But trust when I say a good face oil will make you look a million times better when you step off the plane. Also again with the scent/emotional ties – a nice whiff of rose always make you feel good, doesn’t it? I would in theory advise putting this on before you go to sleep, but who wants to sleep when there’s six episodes of The Big Bang Theory to motor through?

Benefit Benetint – I have a bunch of Benefit minis from when InStyle did them as a freebie I while ago and I keep them solely for the purpose of travel. I believe the full-sized Benetint is less than 100ml anyway, but these weeny things are very handy. Y’all know the benefits of this product already but it’s a quick and easy way to make you look healthy and alive rather than pasty and dead from jetlag.

Pixi Eye Beauty Kit Magic Eyeshadow Palette – I am such a huge fan of an eyeshadow palette. I mean I know that goes without saying but when we went travelling I discovered just how deep my love ran. This one in particular is amazing; it’s about 5mm wide and the array of beige shades are SO good for neutralising red eyelids. Ya know when they go a bit greasy and pink looking? This just makes you look awake and fresh-faced and mattified. This one was a work freebie an age ago and I’m not sure it still exists in store, but it’s certainly knocking around online.

Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain – I think I’ve raved about these on here before. I just love them – especially in Lovesick which is an extremely bright pink. The colour lasts forever, they moisturise your lips and they don’t bleed (am I getting old? Cus lipstick bleeds now). The reason I like Lovesick for travel is because the pink is just so instantly cheering and makes you look healthy and awake. God bless pink.

Passport – you need that. God bless cab drivers who make you check it before you drive away from the house.

Mirror and pouch – Las Vegas is the spiritual home of Marc Jacobs cheap goods. I keep my MJ mirror in my MJ pouch at all times to remember Vegas at all times. If you need me to tell you why a mirror is a useful thing to take on a plane with you after listing all that makeup I rely on, then you’re probably beyond help.


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