Edit: Apparetly laptops are often stolen from suitcases. Yikes! So, scratch what I just said, and take your laptop anyway. 😦 So much extra weight, but…
I have flown hither and yon in the past couple of years, and I feel as though I could make a guidebook about it. This is what I would say:
First of all, pack your carry-on as lightly as possible. Trucking lots of stuff around the airport is pure torture. The following is a list of items that are essential.
1. A comfortable lightweight backpack. Not a rolling one. Those poke into your back dreadfully if you try to carry them for a long time. Not a bag or a purse. Those tend to hurt the shoulder you carry them on.
2. A small paperback book. You need something to do while you’re sitting, but you will NOT get a lot of work done if you bring work to do. Why? There are always people sitting three inches away from you staring over your shoulder. The more you bring, the more heavy stuff you’ll have to lug around. A small paperback book suffices.
3. A jacket or coat, depending on how cold it is. This should be able to fit into your backpack and also double as a pillow.
4. A very small notebook and pen, just in case.
5. Your cell phone, credit card, drivers license, and boarding pass. These should be placed in a very accessable front pocket. Just for the record, a credit or debit card is so much less hassle than cash.
6. Food. Granola bars especially. Airport food is expensive, and you WILL get hungry.
7. An empty water bottle. Fill it up after you get through security, and keep yourself hydrated.
8. Tea bags. Tea always calms me. I especially like black tea to wake me up, and St. John’s wort tea to make me happy. Flying can be stressful, and tea helps this.
9. A small ziplock bag with ibuprofen in it. You never know when you will need it.
8. Headphones. You will always, no matter where you go, be better off it you take your own headphones with you.
9. Your ipod. Granted, I don’t have an ipod, but if I did I think it would be essential to take it along.
You do NOT need your laptop. Nor do you need five notebooks (yes, I struggle with this), five different books so you’ll have several to choose from, your camera, crossword puzzle books, whatever. There is so much you can bring that does nothing but wear out your shoulders. All you really need to occupy yourself is one small lightweight paperback book.
Depending on how long your flight is you may want to take a change of clothes. Also, sometimes it’s nice to have chapstick, a toothbrush, and deodorant, just so you can freshen up if need be. Remember, LIGHTWEIGHT ALL THE WAY.
Your shoes should be comfortable and ones that you can slip on and off. This makes going through security go so much smoother.
Yes, I’ve done this many times. Yes, I think that is the end of my advice rant. Yes, I haven’t posted in a long long time. I have been writing a novel.