My first rule to traveling, expect the unexpected meaning if you're lucky, your flight leaves on time and you arrive at your destination after a good night's rest on the ride over. Most of the time though, we experience delays, long layovers, and arriving ill rested and hungry. While we can't prevent things out of our control like delays and long layovers, we can make it slightly more pleasant.
- copy of passport and ID: you never know, I had a friend who had her personal belongings stolen including her passport while overseas and it was quite painful getting a temporary one, so having a copy for emergencies might not be a bad idea. Keep it close but not the same spot as your actual passport.
- e-tickets, other travel documents, emergency contact #s, etc
- money: not all of it, just maybe a credit card and some cash to get by if needed
- snack bars/instant oatmeal: never be hungry no matter where you are, that's half the battle. There was one time I ended up in a 5 hour delay + 5 more hrs of flying and no food until we got onto the plane where they were charging $8 for a cup of noodles, what!??! Luckily I had a packet of instant oatmeal and asked for a cup of hot water for free instead.
- cell phone/laptop/camera: anything that can break, probably best to lug these with you. Unfortunately these will be the heavy items
- chargers/international converters: if you're going to bring your electronics, then you're going to need these
- first aid kit: a mini one with some aspirin/Tylenol, cough drops, other medication if you need it, like motion sickness pills
- refillable water bottle/bag: stay hydrated
- travel pillow: they don't look like much but wow they do the job
- packet of tissues/wet naps
- lotion/chapstick: it's extremely dry up in the air
- sleep mask: Seats are tight, the person next to you might not want to turn their lights off so you can sleep.
- headphones: they can double as ear plugs, true story.
- pen (and small notepad)
- a light sweater/jacket or scarf: airplanes can get cold
- a book/magazine: (more of a suggestion) something to pass the time because life is boring if you can't get wifi
Generally I like to take a backpack (one that's light or this one) and a small travel purse for the essential items. When choosing the right bag, every compartment should have a zipper. Snap closure, buckle, magnet, etc are terrible options. If things can fall out when you turn the bag upside down, leave it at home. Nothing worst than losing your travel documents or other items when you're traveling or the potential of having them stolen. Always have your most important belongings closest to you.
Make sure to double check what is allow on your carry-on before taking it with you, unfortunately if its not allow, its not allowed and they will make you get rid of it...
Dress comfy. I read on one of those travel sites/blogs where they suggest wearing your bulkiest items with you so you have more room in your luggage... while that makes sense, I still say wear the most comfy clothes and shoes because airplanes are tiny and you don't need to lose even more space by sharing it with your bulky clothes. Plus they make you take off a bunch of stuff at security, you'll be there forever if you wear everything. Trick is to be quick and easy.