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Apart from pilots, there’s no one who knows how to travel better than flight attendants. And because I happen to have a mom who is a flight attendant, I’ve learned many important travel lessons over the years.
Sure, traveling on standby had its challenges (including far too many nights of sleeping on the ground in airports), but being a flight attendant and being the daughter of a flight attendant teaches you how to travel well, how to travel light and how to travel with all of the necessary gear.
Throughout my mom’s 38 years of serving millions of passengers in the air (yes, it’s in the millions), she’s finally found some of the best travel bags, suitcases and accessories that she now can’t travel without. She’s learned a thing or two about what makes a suitcase great and which insulated bottles actually keep her coffee warm for the whole flight.
Because there are so many travel brands out there these days, shopping for the right products can be overwhelming. Luckily, I’m here today to share nine flight attendant-approved travel products that you’re going to want to test out for yourself ASAP.
With domestic and some international travel finally opening back up, it’s safe to say you already have a trip on the books for this summer, so don’t take off without these must-haves.
1. A suitcase you can customize down to the color of the zipper
My mom and I are both huge fans of ROAM Luggage. Founded by the former CEO of Tumi, ROAM set out to bring more color to the typical black suitcase, and that’s exactly what the company did. You can choose the color of almost everything, including the front and back shells, wheels, handles, zipper, zipper pulls and more. Not only can you get creative with the design of your suitcase, but it’s also super roomy inside the four available sizes, which all come with two removable zippered inserts.
2. Packing cubes that keep you organized on the go
Because this packing cube set comes with four different sizes, you can seamlessly pack socks, underwear or full outfits. Keeping everything contained helps you easily find items in your suitcase without having to do any digging. For a flight attendant, everything has to be easily accessible.
3. A toiletry bag that barely takes up any space
Toiletry kits typically can be bulky, but my mom particularly loves this option from eBags because, even after packing everything she needs, it lies completely flat on the top of her suitcase without adding any extra bulk. And thanks to its many pockets, there’s room for every item you need to bring.
4. “Earplugs” that play soothing sounds to help you sleep anywhere, including on noisy planes and in hotels
Bose Sleepbuds II, $249
Hands down, this might be the best travel investment my mom has made. While on layovers, she uses these noise-making Bose Sleepbuds to help get her sleep cycle back on track. Through the corresponding smartphone app, you can use them to play several different sleep sounds (from rain to white noise) and even set an alarm that plays through the buds.
5. A cooler bag to keep meals and snacks cool all day
While you might not be traveling with a cooler bag on the plane like my mom does to bring her lunch, this bag is great to carry for an office lunch or even on picnics. It’s compact yet includes a large, insulated section for hot or cold items and several side pockets for other snacks or utensils.
6. A genius salad container that won’t make your lettuce wilt
OXO Good Grips Salad Container, $15.99 (Orig. $17.99)
If you enjoy salads while on the go but don’t have the proper container for lugging all the ingredients, OXO’s salad bowl includes separate leakproof compartments and a small dressing container.
7. This water bottle that completely collapses
Que Collapsible Bottle, $24.95
If you’re tight on space in the personal item that you’re carrying onto the plane, this water bottle can collapse while it’s not in use. It’s a must-have if you like using a reusable water bottle on your trips but don’t want it to take up space in your bag.
8. A container that keeps food hot or cold for more than 5 hours
S’well Eats, $50
If you happen to be packing any snacks that you want to keep hot or cold, these genius containers by S’well are a two-in-one food bowl. It features a triple-layered, vacuum-insulated exterior bowl and a durable inner prep bowl that keeps food cold for 11 hours and hot for seven.
9. And one more insulated bottle to take your favorite coffee to-go
Yes, you can carry the que collapsible water bottle instead of a larger bottle, but my mom uses both because she takes her coffee in this Hydro Flask, which keeps liquid warm for up to 12 hours. And trust us, you don’t want to drink airplane coffee.
If you liked this story, read about where to buy the colorful travel bags you’re seeing all over Instagram.
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