Top 8 Carry-on Essentials for Flying Fit

I love to travel, but I don't like waiting for delayed planes or on 10+ hour flights. That's why I've compiled a list of my top 8 fitness essentials to keep me occupied, entertained, and maybe even enjoy my wait.

8. Chargers or battery packs

Always remember to keep your charger or battery pack in your carry-on. Most airports have outlets in their seats or dedicated charging stations with tables, so you can watch those fitness videos, organize your exercise calendar, or comfortably video chat with your squad. Remember to have your devices fully charged before boarding the plane. Some airlines do offer outlets on their aircrafts, but why chance it? Charged devices are also a good backup plan if the in-flight movie options are no good.

7. Entertainment

Speaking of bad in-flight movies, you can always bring your own entertainment. Remember your headphones, wellness book, or fitness magazine. This is also a good opportunity to go device-free to rest your eyes!

Pro-tip: There are also options if you would prefer not to wait for the next episode of your favorite show. If you have Amazon Prime, use their video app to download your video directly to your phone before the flight. Same goes with music from Amazon Music and Spotify Premium.

6. Massage ball

Super compact, but highly effective, TriggerPoint massage balls are perfect for those long waits at the gate. They are about the size of a golf ball, so they are easily stored. You can roll out your arms, hands, and lap without even getting up from your seat. For a deeper massage, place the ball between your back against a wall, knees bent. Roll your back up and down, or whatever feels good.

5. Empty Water Bottle

You can only fill enough liquid to fit as many 3.4 oz containers to fill a clear quart bag, so how do ya stay hydrated? Travel is the time we often forget to drink water. Bring an empty water bottle to fill up after going through security. Fill up at the water fountains located near the restrooms or a chain cafe (e.g. Starbucks).

4. Airborne or BCAA packets

Airborne was invented for a reason! It's very easy to get sick in crowded airports or planes, so these Vitamin C packets are a safeguard. They are also packed with electrolytes, which help retain the moisture in your body for hydration. If you have a friend who goes to the toilet a lot, blaming their small bladder, this might be their solution! You can buy packets or tablets at most grocery stores. For fitness nuts like me, I prefer packets of BCAAs, which will help with protein synthesis and hydration.

3. Protein snack and fruit

Why settle for over-salted peanuts and pretzels? Bring your own protein snack. Be weary of protein bars. I usually stay away from them because they are usually high in sugar and not very satisfying. The sugar tries to mask the taste of the protein, but it usually ends up chalky. I recommend bringing your own dried fruit, nuts (walnuts, cashews, and almonds), or protein cookies.

My favorite travel protein snacks are Lenny and Larry's chocolate chip cookie (available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's), Completeats chocolate chia cookie (available online), and Siren Snacks (also available online). If you are traveling domestically, you can bring a piece of fruit or cut-up veggies that are easy to carry, such as an apple, banana, carrots, and jicama.

Try to eat before arriving at the airport. Craving something substantial on those long flights? If you have to eat at the airport, avoid anything greasy like pizza or french fries. Your seat-mates will not love the grease sweat emanating from your body. Beware of large airport portions, too! Go for protein or veggies. Breads are okay in small amounts. Slow-releasing carbs are your friends. If you are traveling in the morning, Starbuck offers a healthy oatmeal.

2. Eyemask and neck pillow

Quality sleep is important for muscle recovery, especially on long flights. Since reading lights, mobile devices, or aircraft lights can keep you awake, bring your own eyemask and neck pillow to help you sleep.

The sound of the airplane engine always makes me sleepy. Fun fact, the sound is similar to that of a pregnant womb, so it has a primal calming effect!

1. Toiletries

This seems like a no-brainer. Bringing toiletries are essential to keep you refreshed and ready to take on your adventure. It'll motivate you to wake up and move around.

Remember to bring your travel toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, moist towelettes, lotion, dry shampoo (don't use this on the plane, wait until you land), hair brush, and fresh pair of undies. I like to wait until landing to clean up, but on particularly long overnight flights, I will refresh right after waking up.

Bonus #1: TSA Pre-check or Global Entry -- I'm a frequent flyer to my hometown of LA. Pre-check has gotten me out of some tough binds on my way to the airport--from delayed trains to standing traffic on the freeway. Since I've gotten it, I haven't had to wait more than 5 minutes to go through security. Pre-check is also good for international departure flights and travel partners. If one person in a party has TSA Pre-check in a shared flight purchase, it applies to all.

TSA Pre-check is only $85 and good for 5-years. The form is very easy to fill out, but you will need to visit your nearest airport or TSA pre-check-approved travel center to give your fingerprints. I was approved after a month, so plan accordingly.

The form for Global Entry is a more meticulous, and will take a little longer.

Bonus #2: Lounge Access -- It is a common rule to be 2-3 hours early for international flights. But with your handy TSA pre-check in hand, you'll probably zip through security. Crowded gates are no fun, so I like to hang out in airport lounges. Many airlines offer day passes. Lounge access is usually complimentary for first and business class.

Many credit cards offer sweet travel benefits, too! If you have a Chase Sapphire credit card, you receive complimentary Priority Pass membership, which gives you access to hundreds of lounges around the world. I have an American Express card, which allows me to pay only $29 for access to their lounges. Not all Amex cards are created equal, so remember to check the terms and conditions.

So that's it! All these items should be able to fit in a small backpack. Now you're ready to fly fit. Safe journey!

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