The organisation level of your carry-on can make the difference between a joyous ride through the clouds and a horrif(l)ying experience. It can even change the whole course of your trip, as an annoying post-travel day cold can potentially be averted with the right preparation! Let's take a look at which items you should bring on your next trip to take your packing game to the next level.

1. Nasal spray

Due to the low cabin humidity at high elevations, it's always just a matter of time until your nose dries up, turning into the perfect breeding environment for cold and flu germs.

So to protect you from starting your trip off with a good old cold, treat yourself to a shot of nasal spray every couple of hours. Just make sure to buy a saline nasal spray, as they do a really good job of moisturising your nostrils without causing any side effects or addictions (in case you haven't heard: yes, that's a thing!).

2. Wool socks (in a ziploc bag!)

When on a plane, I like to make myself as comfy as possible. And taking my shoes off and exchanging them with some warm socks or travel slippers almost makes me feel at home in the narrow seat with limited legroom that I strap myself into. I said almost, okay?

The only problem is: since reading about the airplane floor being a wonderful breeding ground for bacteria, mould, mildew and more, I always have the urge to throw my socks right into the airport trash after landing. This is where having a ziploc bag with you comes in handy. You can put the socks back into your carry-on luggage without them contaminating any other items until you get to wash them at a germ-killing temperature.

3. A jute bag (or packable bag)

The question is: who doesn't have a jute bag in their suitcase, anyways? It's a great accessory to have as a laundry bag, shopping bag, beach bag... I think you get the point.

Stored in your hand luggage you can get it out after entering the plane, where can easily use it to store all the things you want at hand for your flight, which you can store under the seat in front of you. Β With this little trick, you will neither have any compliance issues with your airline for carrying two pieces of hand luggage with you, nor the trouble of having multiple bags hanging off of you while rushing through the airport.

4. An empty water bottle (ideally filtering)

Ever came out of a plane and felt like you had half a litre of vodka last night before banging your head against a wall a couple of times? In order not to have this happen to you, HYDRATION IS KEY. Not drinking half a litre of vodka the night before also helps, so you might consider that as well.

Jokes aside, to avoid majorly overpaying for a bottle of water at the airport, just pack an empty bottle in your bag. One option is to take a used or reusable bottle and quickly check beforehand, if your destination and/or transit airport offers free drinking water. The website provides you with a list of airports that have water dispensers and also gives you information on how to find them.

The other option that is especially practical if you travel to destinations where clean drinking water is harder to get, is to buy a reusable water bottle with a filtering system. These bottles, like the Lifestraw Go, filter 99,999999% of bacteria, 99,999% of parasites and 99,999% of microplastic, so you can drink filtered water straight from the tap on airports anywhere you travel to!

5. A pen

Simple, but easy to forget! In that moment when the cabin crew is handing out disembarkation forms you don't want to be the person awkwardly looking to your left and right, waiting for an opportunity to borrow a pen from the stranger next to you. You also don't want to be last in line at the immigration counter of your arrival airport, because you had to wait for 9 other passengers before you at the station with the pen on a little chain.

Pro Tip: Speaking about forms – if you're planning to travel longer periods of time, it's seriously worth it to learn your passport number by heart. Study now & thank me later.

6. A phone holder

Whether your flight has an onboard system or not - having additional entertainment options on flights is always a good idea! And in order to prevent your arm from falling off after holding your phone for 120 long minutes, a phone holder is the way to go for watching downloaded Netflix movies on your flight.

My personal favourite is this kind of pocket-sized phone stand, which is the size of a credit card without making compromises when it comes to stability.

7. A neck-warmer

For some reason, I ALWAYS used to feel a cold coming up on the first days after a long flight. I got quite used to landing in a new city with a stuffy nose, not being able to talk and always keeping an eye out for a place to buy throat drops. Must have been some awesome days for Simon, too.

I'm not a doctor, but I suspect the reason for this to be a combination of the blasting air condition and the low humidity on the flight that I mentioned above. I've found for myself, that keeping my throat nice and warm really helps with this problem.

Now the cool thing about a neck-warmer is that it's A) way more compact than a scarf so it doesn't take up much room in your bag when not needed and B) most of them are multi-purpose and can also serve as a face mask (hello, travel in pandemic times) and C) they can even be slightly modified to be turned into a hat. The last point might make you look a bit like an idiot, but I'll take that over a cold any day.