Holiday Travel Essentials Checklist

Beth Whitman, author of Wanderlust and Lipstick: The Essential Guide for Women Traveling Solo, offers her sanity-maintaining must-haves for holiday travelers.

For Fliers

  1. Check An efficient carry-on bag.

    Look for one that’s roomy enough for essentials but small enough to fit in the overhead bin, like the Timbuk2 Copilot bag ($225,

  2. Check A bulky outfit for the plane.

    Save space in your suitcase by wearing your heaviest clothes and shoes en route. Bundling up will also keep you warm on a chilly flight and help you avoid exceeding the baggage weight limit for checked pieces.

  3. Check Noise-canceling headphones.

    When you want to sleep, drown out crying babies and other distractions with these earphones. If you travel a lot, they’re especially worth their cost.

  4. Check A window seat.

    At the very least, you’ll always have a place to lean your head if you want to take a nap.

  5. Check Airline-travel websites.

    If you know your holiday travel dates early, set up an alert on, an airfare-tracking website, for when the price drops. Want to get details on an assigned airplane seat? Check to find out whether it reclines, has ample legroom, or features a power port.

  6. Check The entrance to the ticketing gate.

    When you land, have your ride pick you up at the ticketing or check-in area, where there are fewer people and cars, rather than at arrivals, where crowds loiter with their bags.

  7. Check A two-alarm wake-up.

    Statistics show flights before noon usually have fewer delays than afternoon ones, so book flights as early in the day as possible. To be sure you wake up on time, set backup alarms five minutes apart: on your phone and travel clock, for instance. Or, at a hotel, set the bedside clock radio and ask for a wake-up call.

For Road Trippers

  1. Check Goldfish crackers.

    Pack a bag of the cheese crackers to snack on during road trips, along with fruit that won’t bruise easily (such as apples).

  2. Check Audiobooks.

    Try “Holy Cow!: An Indian Adventure,” by Sarah McDonald ($15,, the story of a woman’s reluctant return to India and her adventures as an expat: entertaining on a long drive.

For All

  1. Check Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes.

    These organizers allow you to pack like items together to keep your suitcase neat (from $8.50 each, Use the padded cases for bulky electronics to keep power cords with their devices.

  2. Check An e-book.

    Stock up one of these eminently portable devices with multiple titles. If you’re traveling to a place for the first time, download a travel book or a novel set in that location.

  3. Check Nano UV Disinfection Scanner.

    This cell phone–size device disinfects airline seats, hotel beds, and anything else that’s questionable ($80,

  4. Check Callpod Chargepod.

    Use the multidevice charger to juice up all your gadgets while plugged into just one outlet. You buy adapters individually, so you get exactly what you need (base, $40; adapters, $10 each;

  5. Check Soothing music.

    Because everyone can use a little airport or taffic-jam Zen.