Tech expert Carley Knobloch is all about sparing herself as many hassles as she can when she travels. Get ready to take notes on her must-pack items for carry-on.
I spend a lot of time in airports and on airplanes. Not as much as George Clooney in that movie where he’s always traveling, but enough that I’ve developed the habits, routines, and the toolkit of a travel warrior.
Frequent cross-country trips have been the norm whole adult life. My husband and I raised our family on the opposite U.S. coast of our families, so we’re forever boarding planes to visit grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Also, much of the work that I do on TV and in magazines requires me to be in New York. And now that my son is in college on the east coast, I have yet another reason to hop on a plane with regularity.
Whether it’s for business or pleasure, however, there is much to be desired about air travel. Any product or service that can make the experience a little more palatable piques my interest, and believe me, I’ve tried them all.
Over the years, I’ve uncovered a small pile of things that have become invaluable in helping me find my way from A to B, stay stress-free, find comfort in strange places, and arrive home with everything I brought with me. Whether they’re high-tech or low-tech, leaving without them is a non-starter.
Given LAX’s recent announcement that they’re moving all lower-level vehicle pickups (taxis, Ubers) to a holding area that’s a shuttle ride away, having a professional chauffeur service like Blacklane to pick you up spares you all that hassle.
And I’m all about sparing myself as many hassles as I can when traveling. Which brings me back to the must-pack items in my carry-on. Get ready to take notes.
Tile – Bluetooth tracker
These Bluetooth trackers have saved me from lost and found disasters at the airport time and time again. Tile comes in three sizes – the Tile Mate (which you can slip into a backpack, suitcase, or thread around the neck of a beloved stuffie) the Tile Slim (a credit-card-size tracker that you can slide into your wallet or passport holder) and the Tile Sticker (which adheres to your laptop or headphones).
All you need to do is connect to an app on your phone and just tap it to start their ringing, or set them to ring if they’re separated from your phone.
Vago – vacuum bags
You know those storage bags where you vacuum out the air so they take up less space in your closet? Now picture a tiny, portable version designed to do it for your suitcase… that’s Vago.
Pack the included vacuum bag to the gills, then suck all the air out and toss it in your suitcase with room to spare. Now you can bring that extra pair (or three) of shoes.
Kindle – digital bookstore
Books are best but bulky when traveling and reading on an iPad for too long gives me a headache. When I want to conserve space and go easy on my eyes, I pack my Kindle. That’s where my Kindle comes in. I can read to my heart’s content and don’t have to worry about the blue light messing up my circadian rhythms for when I land.
BASU eAlarm+ – safety alarm
It’s always a little stressful when you’re staying in a strange place for the night. I’m a light sleeper to begin with, but when I’m in a hotel I usually feel like I’ve got one eye open the whole night… which is exhausting. The BASU eAlarm+ is a tiny tripwire, that will sound a VERY loud alarm if your hotel door is opened while you sleep.
The Stow Collection – travel pouch
The sleekest, chicest travel pouch I’ve ever found for corralling all my cords and cables when I’m on the move. With a matching laptop and iPad sleeve, all your tech will be outfitted to the nines.
The Stow Collection is waterproof too, which is especially good news for when your water bottle accidentally spills in your carry-on (of course, that’s never happened to me).
Belkin – universal cable
Inside my cord and cable pouch, you’ll find this Belkin Universal cable, which comes with many adaptors (micro-USB, USB-C, Lightning) so I can charge all my devices— Android, Apple, or otherwise— without a tangle of wires.
Vitruvi – roll-on essential oils
A roll-on essential oil blend is the answer to flight delays, bad airport food, crying babies, and the guy in your row eating a tuna fish sandwich (especially that one). I rub some on my wrists, then press them to my nose and deeply inhale.
Sturm – anti-pollution drops
Flying in an airplane wreaks havoc on your skin. Our skin is exposed to low-level radiation while we’re up in the air, not to mention particulate pollution, harmful UV rays, and blue light from the screens that keep me busy throughout the flight.
Active ingredients in Dr. Barbara Sturm’s anti-pollution drops help your skin protect itself from myriad flying hazards. Hard to know if this one “works,” but it sure feels nice to apply it a few times mid-flight.
Ponaris – nasal emollient
Sorry if it’s TMI, but I don’t go anywhere without Ponaris’ travel-sized solution to nasal woes— whether you’re dry or drippy, just one drop per nostril will help you breathe easier.
Crane – travel humidifier
On the topic of nasal moisture, dry air can make your nose dry, which can make you sick. This travel humidifier fits easily in your carry-on and runs for up to 10 hours in a single glass of water.
Touchland – hand sanitizer
This hand sanitizer from Touchland is the Holy Grail— it’s not sticky, it evaporates fast, it doesn’t smell weird, and it moisturizes. Of course, it also kills 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria on your hands which can make you sick (see a pattern here?).
Spruce – tech-cleaning wipes
These coconut oil-based wipes will clean your screens and leave them 100 percent smudge-free, while wiping away germs that can (say it with me!) make you sick while you travel. Gentle enough to use on your glasses too.
Snooz – white noise machine
The key to a good noise machine (and trust me, I’m a connoisseur), is one that blows real air at a range of volumes (vs. a digital loop that sounds like air).
Snooz is portable, beautifully designed, and does exactly that. Adjust the tone and volume as desired, and tune out street traffic, hallway chatterers, and other hotel noises that might keep you awake. Plus a companion app can help you turn it on from bed or set an automatic shut-off if you don’t want it to run all night long.