I'm A Former Flight Attendant & Always Have These 9 Travel Essentials In My Suitcase

I never left the house without these!

Madeline in Paris. Right: View from a plane window.
Associate Editor

Madeline in Paris. Right: View from a plane window.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Packing for a trip can be a hectic and stressful ordeal and it's something I'm all too familiar with. I worked as a flight attendant for over a year, which meant that I was constantly packing and unpacking.

I wasn't just living out of any suitcase — I was living out of a carry-on. For someone like me, who has always been an over-packer, this was quite the learning experience.

After flying around the world with just a carry-on, I can proudly say I'm one of the lightest packers among my friends and am always prepared with the travel essentials.

There were a few items I just couldn't live without during my layovers, and whether I was exploring Paris or wandering through Glasgow, these eight items were constantly with me and made my travels a little more convenient.


Slippers are a must-have in my luggage and I have a designated pair for travelling that I keep in my suitcase at all times, even when it's stowed away.

While I wouldn't say I'm a germaphobe, something about wandering around on those hotel floors and carpets barefoot makes me cringe. As a flight attendant, I was staying in at least two hotels a week, and that means a lot of new and unfamiliar floors.

It made me feel a little comfier and at home to step into a pair of slippers, especially after a long day of being on my feet on a plane.

It turns out my worries about hotel carpets are justified. Reader's Digest listed the carpets as one of the "12 Dirtiest Spots in Every Hotel Room." According to the publication, Logic Products founder Jill Taft said that "carpets are breeding grounds for bacteria and germs" and that you should "never let your kids sit, lay down, or play on the carpet and always wear socks or slippers."

Toothpaste tabs

These are a lifesaver! Flight attendants almost always travel with a carry-on instead of checked luggage, which means that there is a limited amount of liquids they can bring along.

Face lotion, sunscreen, hairspray, and more can quickly add up and I tried to save space where I could.

Enter these toothpaste tabs from Lush. Since they're not liquid, I could easily pack them in my carry-on without worrying about TSA regulations.

There are a few different kinds to choose from and I went with the "Boom!" charcoal tabs. They worked surprisingly well and left my mouth feeling as minty-fresh as if I'd just used toothpaste.

Dryer sheets

If you've ever packed shoes in your luggage, you'll be all too familiar with the unpleasant smell that greets you as soon as you open it up.

Flight attendants usually have two different pairs of work shoes — heels for boarding and comfier shoes for working the flight. A hack I learned that kept the shoe stench at bay was to put drier sheets inside the shoes.

This works surprisingly well and leaves your bag smelling like a fresh load of laundry.

Bar exfoliators

Another workaround for the liquids bag: exfoliators in bar form.

I love using an exfoliator in the shower but I've never seen any provided by a hotel. I didn't want to pack my own since this would mean taking up precious space in my liquids bag.

One day while browsing at Lush, I came across the "Scrubee" body butter — a moisturizing shower bar with ground almonds that leaves your skin silky-smooth.

A little self-care goes a long way, especially after a long flight, and I always felt so rejuvenated after using this scrub. Another bonus — the bar doubles as a body butter so there's no need to use lotion after. Plus, the smell is heavenly.

Hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer is a travelling staple and I never left the house without it. Being in airports, on planes, and in multiple countries, I was exposed to a lot of germs.

Hand sanitizer became my trusty sidekick, helping me stay clean and fresh amidst the chaos of travel.

An adapter

One of the most important things in my bag was my adapter. Travelling to countries in Europe and the U.K. meant that my electronic devices weren't compatible with the outlets there.

I purchased a universal adapter with multiple plugs so I could charge my phone, plug in my curling iron, and more no matter where I was in the world.

Resistance bands

It's really difficult to have a consistent workout routine when flight attending since your schedule is always changing. Since I would sometimes be gone for six days at a time, I had to figure out how to do my workouts while abroad.

Many hotels have gyms or pools, but I also found a way to get some exercise in my room.

I purchased a pack of resistance bands that were light and small so they didn't take up much space in my bag. This made it easy to get some strength training done in my room while on a layover.


Since I burn at even the slightest hint of sun, sunscreen is a must-have in my luggage. From the sunny streets of Porto to the bright corridors of Rome, I was constantly outside during my layovers, so having some sun protection was vital.

Wrinkle spray

All that travel can wreak havoc on your clothing, especially if it's been stuffed into a suitcase for hours. My uniform would often get very wrinkled in my suitcase no matter how nicely I folded it, so I always brought a travel-sized bottle of Downy wrinkle release with me.

It worked pretty well as a touch-up between ironing and also gave my clothes a clean, refreshed smell. And as someone who's not so great with an iron, it was a lifesaver.

From slippers to toothpaste tablets and workout bands, these items were my secret weapons for an enjoyable trip. Next time you're embarking on an adventure you might want to keep some of these travel gems in mind.

Madeline Forsyth
Associate Editor
Madeline Forsyth is an Associate Travel Editor for Narcity Media focused on Canadian and global travel and is based in Toronto, Ontario.