But what do you put in them? And how to avoid embarassment as you stroll down the ever-so-narrow aisle with your toiletries on full view for your fellow zombies to gawk at?
Here are my top tips:
- As Patsy once said on Ab Fab, "Moist is my word de jour". The air on the plane is ridiculously dry, and it will dry out all of you - eyes, nose, skin, lips, and well, all of you. That's why the top four items on my list are eye drops (the single-use vials take up stacks less room - I take four or five vials), moisturiser, saline nasal spray (in Oz, the brand I get is Fess Frequent Flyer, it's rad, but it doesn't look like you can get it in other places), moisturiser, of both the face and body varieties, and really good lipbalm - Blistex is my preferred variety, but whatever works for you.I also chuck in a mini pump spray bottle of rosewater. It's excellent for skin, and spraying some on before you moisturise helps lock in moisture.
- Don't even think about wearing contact lenses, unless you want to be in serious pain, or makeup, unless you want to get off the plane looking like a shrunken head that someone's tried to paint.
- Smells. There are two basic types of smells: your own, and other people's. Other people's can be horrendous. Ever been stuck on a flight next to someone with some serious wind? Yeech. I always carry a small bottle of lavender essential oil. Couple of drops on my travel pillow, put my nose in it - masks everything. Added bonus is that lavender is relaxing, safe for everyone including pregnant women and babies, and can help you sleep. Actually, I carry a small bottle of lavender oil everywhere when I travel, and let me tell you, it saved my life when I had to use the toilet on a Thai train in third class.
- Your own smell - baby wipes and deoderant. You can't shower on a plane (unless you're in first class on Emirates, my spiritual home) but you can have a decent wipe down and reapply your deoderant. It makes a world of difference. The people around you will thank you.
- Toothpaste. Small sized toothpaste, obviously, I like to grab as many as possible from hotel rooms when I travel for work because they're the handiest size. The tiny size you get with travel toothbrushes (which I refuse to use in any case, because they're crap) is too small - you get a couple of brushes out of them at best, and you really want to be able to brush more than that if it's long haul.
- Cortisone cream. Because I'm someone who has sudden unexplained reactions to things I previously had no reaction to (including recently a kiwi fruit, which I've had no problems eating before, causing weird and instantaneous blistering. Fun times) cortisone cream can be a life saver. Or at least can stop me being in mid air, stuck on a plane and unbearably itchy.
- And finally, my secret weapon for getting off the plane and not looking like I've been dead for several weeks - eye gel. I use rosewater gel from Perfect Potion (I love their products, and I love rosewater - in fact I also buy my organic rosewater from them - so it's a perfect combo) but I've also used Body Shop Elderflower eye gel. As long as it's gel, it will tighten up the inevitable saggy bags under your eyes and, more importantly, make you feel approximately a zillion times more like a human, less like a zombie.
In this bag, as well as my Ziploc, I have:
- A Mason Pearson travel size hairbrush (they're expensive, but honestly, they're worth it. I have a Mason Pearson large sized brush for at home, and I loooove brushing my hair with it. I've had both since I was about ten - so they're still going strong *cough*almosttwentyfiveyears*cough* later. Bristles = no static. And they just feel good, you know - both on your head, and in your hand.
- Battery operated electric toothbrush. Since I started using an electric toothbrush at home, my teeth just don't feel clean no matter how long I brush with a manual brush for. And a sample/travel size dental floss. Imagine sitting there for 12 hours with something stuck between your teeth...
- Medications - whatever pills etc you need.
- If you're female, pads or tampons. You just don't know (and we won't discuss the time I realised I had none at the airport in Paris, had just got my period, and they only seem to sell the old-skool sort of pads with no wings, and definitely no tampons. And I had to ask for them in French - something my high-school French teacher had sadly neglected to teach us). And although I never use them usually, I find pantyliners do help with the whole freshness sitch on a long flight (although I'm all for taking a spare set of undies as well).
- And the other thing you may have spotted in the picture with your eagle eyes is a face washer (also called flannel or cloth for you overseas types) in its own Ziplock. That thing they do with the hot towels towards the end of the flight is great - and this way you can DIY whenever you're feeling like you need refreshment. I have replaced this since the picture was taken though, with a small cellulose sponge, which I also use at the swimming pool - feels great, and is much smaller (and lighter). You can buy these at Perfect Potion as well, but they're not on the website.