This Is the 1 Item You Need to Pack Every Time You Take a Flight

packed suitcase with women's clothing

Always make sure you have the essentials packed for your flight. | Janet Rhodes/iStock/Getty Images

Air travel is convenient and can be fun, but it’s also wildly unpredictable. You never know when you’ll be faced with a delay, lost luggage, or other minor or major mishaps. That’s why you should arrive at the airport prepared with essentials in your carry on to keep yourself comfortable.

Whether you’re a frequent business flyer or just an occasional vacationer, there are a few things you should plan to pack for every flight, and one of them will be a total game-changer.

 First, here’s what not to pack

By now, most people know the basics of what won’t make it through airport security, like large bottles of liquid or matches. But there’s one thing you should definitely leave out of your bag: Your sweatshirt or jacket. Airlines don’t count them as one of your allotted carry on bags, so by carrying or wearing them, you’ll save precious room for essentials.

Next: Make sure you’re prepared for minor emergencies. 

Always be prepared

toothbrush, toothpaste

You’ll be happy to have your toothbrush during a delay. | iStock/Getty Images

You never know when you’ll be stranded for a few hours or you’ll arrive at your destination only to realize your luggage didn’t make it. Keeping your toothbrush and toothpaste and a change of underwear in your carry on will make a minor snafu a much more comfortable experience.

Next: Pack this one essential in your carry on every single time.

What is the most important thing to pack?

woman drinking water

Hydration is key while flying. | iStock/Getty Images

Aside from all of your required travel documents and ID, the one item you should pack for every flight is a collapsible water bottle with a built-in filtering system. Not only will this save you time and money, it can help keep you from spending your entire trip dehydrated.

Next: Here’s why you need to invest in one of these water bottles before your next flight.

 Here’s why this is the best travel hack

water bottle

Don’t overpay for a plastic water bottle. | photopackpl/iStock/Getty Images

Since you can’t bring bottles of water through security, your only options for hydration are buying an overpriced plastic water bottle before you board, or waiting for the small servings of water you can get on the plane. A collapsible water bottle with a filter won’t take up space in your bag, and you can fill it with tap water from the drinking fountain worry-free.

Next: Staying hydrated while you fly is important. 

So why does it matter?

Couple on an airplane

Drinking water is vital to staying healthy while on an airplane. | iStock/Getty Images

Airplanes are dry, and travel dehydration is real. Spending a long period of time confined in a reduced oxygen environment with low humidity depletes your body of moisture. On a 10-hour flight, men will lose an average of two liters of water, while women lose 1.6 liters. Drinking water is vital.

Next: While you’re at it, pack a snack.

Keep snacks on hand, as well

Bowl of mixed nuts

Have snacks on hand, so you don’t have to overpay for airport food. | iStock.com/margouillatphotos

Staying hydrated is the most important thing you can do for your health on a flight, but you should always have a snack or two handy as well. If you don’t have any food with you, you’ll be at the mercy of overpriced airport shops or airline food. Having a couple of granola  or protein bars, dried fruit or trail mix in your bag will help stabilize your blood sugar should you get “hangry.”

Next: You’ve probably never even considered packing this in your carry on.

Last but not least, think of your skin

sunscreen

Airplanes leave you exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. | Bet_Noire/iStock/Getty Images

Have you ever put sunscreen on before a flight? Here’s why you should pack sunscreen in your carry-on. Despite being inside, sitting on an airplane leaves you more exposed to the sun’s harmful rays than you might think. Plane windows can block out UVB rays, but UVA rays can still get through. Protect your skin while you’re staying hydrated and well fed.

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