Tag Archives: plane travel

7 Must-Have Affordable Travel Accessories

26 Feb

If you’re like me, you always see articles proclaiming the things every traveler MUST have. And then you click on the link and find that it contains a $300 carry-on, a $70 neck pillow, $250 noise-canceling headphones, and probably an $800 portable white noise machine (“for silencing the obnoxious noises of warmed nut bowls clanking against the porcelain china when you’re sitting in first class!”).

But never fear – you can find affordable travel accessories that will make your life infinitely easier, whether on the ground or in the air. These are some of my favorites:

1. eBags Packing Cubes: $23-36

packing-cubes

These things are amazing. A former boss and excellent friend of mine got them for me when I was packing to spend six months in Israel and expounded on their virtues to an unbelieving Past Allie, just like Current Allie is doing to a likely unbelieving Current Reader. But seriously, they make my life so much easier when I’m traveling. I have the set of three large cubes, but you can buy them in any size combination or color choice.

The brightly-colored part is super durable and super thin nylon, and the darker part on top is mesh – so you’ll never have to force your underwear into a 2-gallon Ziploc bag and squeeze all the air out as hard as you can before zipping it ever again. These squish down when there’s room to squish down, but stay intact when you want them to stay intact. Since two of these fit comfortably in your average suitcase, my brilliant strategy is that I fill one with shirts and the other with socks, bras, and underwear. Then, when I’m going home at the end of the trip, I reorganize to fill one with clean laundry and the other with dirty. It makes my life so stupidly simple, both while traveling and when I get home.

2. A good water bottle: $13-18

water-bottle

You know what they say: a good water bottle is hard to find. Or something along those lines, anyway. I always bring an empty reusable water bottle with me to the airport, because once I’m through security I can fill it for free, potentially saving myself several dollars per year! …And it helps the environment. At O’Hare, they have those automatic water bottle refill stations that count how many plastic bottles have been saved by using them, so I always feel good about myself.

Anyway, a good water bottle for air travel has to fulfill several requirements. It has to be leak-proof or spill-proof (why, oh why, do airlines not provide cupholders?). It can’t be the kind with a straw that you bite to access (because, as I discovered once, the change in pressure will send water shooting into your mouth as soon as you bite and thus drown you or drench your face and shirt). It probably shouldn’t be one without a cap (considering the number of things your water bottle will be rubbing against in various bags and seat pockets, you really don’t want to put your mouth directly on something unprotected). I’ve had excellent luck so far with the Camelbak Chute, but you can play around with whatever fits your needs best.

3. Travel jewelry wallet: $8-35

jewelry-wallet

I once read that to pack necklaces and prevent them from tangling, you should wrap them around a pencil. After attempting this several times, I concluded that the suggester has never experienced gravity, as necklaces would just slide right off. Taping them seemed silly (and bad for the necklace), and then they usually fell off anyway (what? I tried it!).

So many, many moons ago, my mom got me a jewelry wallet, at the time from The Container Store. After I lost it due to intense flea-related cleaning (a lot of our stuff accidentally ended up in the garbage that week), we searched high and low for a new one, but it always evaded capture. Somehow, my mom found it again a few years ago – but I am unable to track down a good link to provide you with myself. But if you search “travel jewelry wallet”, you can find many excellent options.

Anyway, this is a must-have if you’re bringing multiple necklaces and/or earrings. Individual slots let you clasp necklaces through them so that they can’t tangle in transit, and a strip of leather with holes poked through makes for a perfect earring holder. Mine also has a zip pouch in the middle, which is great for bracelets and other items that are too big for the other sections. Plus, when you close it, it looks like a large wallet (hence the name) and slides easily into a backpack for travel.

4. Drawstring bag: $5-20

drawstring-bag

I love traveling with these for lots of reasons. They fit the entire contents of my purse as well as a water bottle, travel guide, and any other required accessories. They’re much more thief-proof than a backpack, as the bag’s own weight keeps it closed when it’s slung over your shoulders. And, the best part – I can make my boyfriend take turns carrying it, instead of just me carrying everything in my purse for everyone.

To be honest, I’ve never paid for one of these in my entire life – I always get them as swag, thanks to college, a job, and a sporting team. But you can find an entire category of them on Amazon with every logo and color and price you can imagine.

5. Organizer: $12-25

organizer

These are a requirement for any traveler who has basic hygiene needs. I use one of these for my toothbrush, toothpaste, contacts, glasses, medicines, deodorant, comb, etc. I highly recommend getting one that is squishable (so it doesn’t take up unnecessary room in your carry-on), has a flat bottom and a zip around the top (this is personal preference, but I like having the top stay open when needed), and is made of a material that can get wet and not be destroyed (since it’s probably going to hang out next to the sink a lot). You can find these at any drugstore or beauty store. The one pictured above is from Ulta.

I love having all of the necessities in one small bag with a handle, so I can just yank it out as needed. Easy to find and easy to use!

6. Earplugs and sleep mask: $5-20

Plane travel. Screaming children. Loud passengers. Drink carts. Need I say more?

7. Seat back pocket protector: $20-30

seat-back-pocket.png

Full disclosure: I haven’t actually used one of these, but my boyfriend got one as a present for my aunt and uncle and it seems awesome. This thing goes in the seat back pocket in front of you on the plane, and you can put all your stuff in it instead of in the pocket itself. Not only does this seem more hygienic (I always feel gross holding my phone up to my face after it’s spent a few hours in that pocket), but it seems like you’re less likely to forget your stuff. If you’re like my mom who left a portable charger, or my boyfriend who left a water bottle, or my dad who left an iPad and a book, or my grandma who left a Kindle, you might want to invest in one of these.

We found this one at Macy’s for $28, but I’m sure you can shop around and find other options as well. Think bright colors so you won’t forget the entire thing!


If you have other suggestions, let me know in the comments!

V for Very Little Legroom

24 Oct

I consider myself an easygoing and friendly person. I enjoy making small talk with cashiers, I hold the door open for strangers, and I like hearing about the days of my friends and family.

But for some reason, I have a specific situation that turns me into a passive-aggressive monster.

I’m a relative expert on how I conduct myself in air travel. When I’m in my seat on the plane, I have my things arranged in a space-saving and legroom-friendly way. The plane takes off and I lean as close as I can toward the window, chewing gum (the package conveniently being in the seat pocket, the wrapper waiting in my pocket so I can spit it out before the drink cart comes). I read my book for a bit and flex my toes.

And then.

The seatbelt light is turned off; they announce we can move about the plane freely. And inevitably, the person sitting in front of me leans their seat all the way back.

I want to give them an impassioned speech. “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but notice that you decided to lean your seat back all the way, as it is now currently crushing my knees. Look, you have a really tiny amount of space here. I get it, because I have literally the exact same amount of space. It’s hard to be comfortable. But can we find a middle ground? A way to make your seat comfortable without ruining mine? Please, let us build a community of friendly passengers! We’re all on this plane together! We support each other and love our neighbors! Don’t you want to support the common good? Then for the love of America, or whatever country we’re flying to, please… don’t… shrink… my… space!” (Followed by what I can only assume will be cheering and applause, as well as flags waving in the background Les Mis-style.)

But since I can’t do that, mainly because there are no guaranteed flags/patriotic music, I turn to the only option I have left: WAR.

…in an incredibly non-confrontational way. (I can’t just lean my seat back in response – not only would that crush the person behind me in the same way I’m being crushed, it also doesn’t help my knees.)

I won’t go into detail as to my combat techniques, as I don’t want my modern warfare to spread across the skies. Although I will say that a personal favorite was leaving my reading light on while I went to the bathroom. If she didn’t want it shining in her face for no reason, SHE SHOULD HAVE SAT UP.

Instead, I want to know – what’s that one situation that turns you into an unrecognizable demon with a vendetta for justice? Is it getting cut off in traffic? Dealing with the cable company? Seeing another table who came in after you getting their food first? Being a test subject for a disease that leads to the overthrow of the British government and the rise of an oppressive dictatorship?

Oops, that last one might be fictional.

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“Passengers should not be afraid of their seats. Seats should be afraid of their passengers.”

Anyway, leave a comment and let me know!