Travel Tuesday: 5 summer air travel essentials & must haves


The news is filled with disgruntled travelers and airline mishaps. With these 5 summer air travel essentials, the next trip might seem like friendly skies.

Whether traveling for summer vacation, business or a romantic getaway, air travel has become a dreaded event. Previously, soaring above the clouds could be fun. Now it is filled with short tempered passengers, cramped spaces and long lines. While these 5 summer air travel essentials may not sure all the air travel dilemmas, these air travel essentials can make your next flight a little easier.

Putting aside the well-seasoned, business traveler, many people travel by air periodically. With the always changing regulations and airline conditions, the whole experience can be a stressful one. Putting aside the security lines, checked bag fees and unforeseen delays, a traveler can find a few items to make her trip a little better.

While these air travel essentials may not be big game changers, these five items can make a long, cramped flight less painful. No one wants to start a trip or ruin a great memory because the air travel was awful. With a little planning, even the worst flight can fly by with less turbulence.

Air travel essentials photo by Cristine Struble

Here are 5 summer air travel essentials.

Convertible pants

Everyone has heard of the leggings controversy. Pajamas are way too casual for real travel. No one wants to over pack. Convertible pants are casual, comfortable, and versatile for any trip. Often available in khaki, these pants easily convert to shorts. Simply unzip the bottom portion of the pants to have shorts. From cool nights to hot days, these pants have you packing fewer clothes.

I used these type of pants on a trip to South Africa. The lightweight material made them great for the plane. They were stretchy and comfortable. I never had to worry about being hot or cold because I could change easily (even without a trip to the bathroom).

Personally, I always have one pair of these pants while traveling. In some places, shorts (or even capris) aren’t appropriate. With a pair of convertible pants, I have options without over packing.
Convertible pants are widely available. Columbia makes some great styles for women. Check out Amazon for many options.

Portable charger

The unthinkable happens. Flight delay, dead phone battery, no outlet in the seat and the person next to you is a talker. It is the scenario that no one wants on a plane (unless you are the talker). Making sure that you have a portable charger in your bag is an air travel essential.

Portable chargers are everywhere. From vending machines at Disney to the checkout counter at Walgreens, power packs are sold just about anywhere. No one wants to run into a dead battery.

One great portable charger is the GoPuck. This portable charger is perfect for vacations because it has multiple ports and can even charge a GoPro. Plus, the GoPuck with its “wearable power” can be clipped to you while the device is charging. The GoPuck retails from $59.99 to $99.99 depending on the style.

Soft wrap or sweater

Comfort while traveling is key. Temperature changes can be brutal. A lightweight wrap or sweater can keep the chill away.

Personally, I have a small, lightweight cashmere wrap sweater that goes with me on every trip. The neutral sweater goes with any outfit. From jeans to a dress, it pairs nicely. Plus, it is small enough that it can fit in my purse.

In addition to warding off the chill, the lightweight sweater or wrap can be a great pillow or throw on a plane. Traveling can be tiring. But, I hate those airplane pillows (who knows where they have been). I often fold my sweater into a little pillow to support my head and hopefully get a few winks. No drooling though.

Hard-case carry-on bag

Luggage takes a beating while traveling. Although everyone is competing for the limited carry one space, a hard-case carry-on bag is essential. The durability that this type offers can keep everything together even if the bag has to be checked.

I prefer a hard-case carry-on because it is easy to place in the overhead compartment. It generally slides up and in without difficulty. Additionally, my carry on has two dividers to keep everything secure. From a zippered side for all the delicate items to a larger side for all the clothes, I can fit everything for a long weekend.

Many companies offer hard case carry-on bags. When choosing a bag, bag size is imperative. Review the airline requirements for sizes and limitations.

Air travel essentials photo by Cristine Struble


The biggest travel essential for any trip is patience. As travel costs decrease, more people travel. This scenario means that lines will be long, there will be more people; and, everything will generally take longer. Accept these scenarios as part of traveling and remember to be patient.
Becoming angry, belligerent or hostile to fellow passengers or airline staff doesn’t help anyone.

Maybe it is best to think about all the lessons learned in kindergarten. Helping a person with a broken arm could really make a difference in their day. Letting a mom with kids go in front of you in line could prevent a child meltdown. Even a smile or a thank you could turn a negative situation into a positive one.

Next: 5 theme park essentials

Whether you are traveling far away or close to home this summer, think about these summer air travel essentials before you leave for the airport. These travel tips might make the difference between an easy trip and a travel disaster.