Travel essential list: How to pack for flights during COVID-19

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Travel is slowly opening up for people all over the world. Unfortunately for some countries, including my hometown Singapore, there are still travel restrictions in place (e.g. mandatory 14-day quarantine in dedicated facilities, PCR tests upon arrival). However, for the lucky ones in Europe, where borders are mostly open for now, many vaccinated travellers are jetting off on their holidays before it gets too cold in the region. In preparation for that trip or any other trip for that matter for our friends worldwide, I have prepared a travel essential list – things to pack for your flight.

Travelling during the pandemic isn’t the same as what it was prior to early 2020. Regardless of your vaccination status, you need to take the necessary precautions when travelling on a plane and other modes of public transportation. Masks are to be worn on public transports and in enclosed spaces. In some countries, only medical-grade masks or FFP-2 masks are allowed to be worn – no pretty handmade cloth masks are allowed. In addition to the essentials, you must pack in your carry-on, what are some of the travel essentials you must have when travelling during COVID-19?

Masks

According to the WHO, COVID-19 is spread mostly through droplets and small particles that are expelled from our noses and mouths when we cough, sneeze, laugh, talk, or breathe. In the plane where people are sitting together in closed quarters for hours at a time, wearing a mask helps compensate for the lack of safe distancing.

Wearing the mask correctly not only protects you but others around you as well. Choose a face mask that fully covers your face and mask securely and has at least two layers of fabric. Effective non-medical grade masks usually have three layers. The layer that touches your face and the outer layer should be made of a tightly woven fabric (e.g. cotton, linen or satin). The middle layer should be filter fabric, ideally a waterproof one, that can further aid in blocking airborne particles that might creep through the fabric. Having an extra layer can offer some much-needed peace of mind during these uncertain times. The following masks are those I currently have and use.

Portable Hand Sanitisers

Unclean hands = germy hands = more likely for you to get sick. Even before COVID-19, hand sanitisers are popular among cabin crew as an added layer of protection after washing hands. Of course, washing hands with soap is the most effective way to keep them clean. But hand sanitisers are often a more convenient alternative while waiting for the long line to the bathroom to clear. They also fit nicely in your travel pouch and even pockets.

There are two kinds of hand sanitisers available on the market: gel or spray.

I personally prefer the spray mists because it is easier to handle. When it dries, it doesn’t leave the annoying, sticky feeling on your palms and in between your fingers. I also prefer a mildly scented one that doesn’t irritate the skin. Plus, does not reek as if you doused your hands in vodka. My personal favourite is the Handz hydrating hand cleaner. They not only disinfect, but they also moisturise and smells oh so good. Plus it’s vegan and made of natural ingredients too. And they come in 5 cute colours and scents. (Disclaimer: Not a sponsored post, just my humble, personal opinion).

The Purcell hand sanitiser is quite a hit with my fellow cabin crew friends. They are 100 ml each, quick-drying, doesn’t stick and are small enough to tuck into their purses and jacket aprons while at work.

Remember, liquids brought on board an aircraft are limited to quantities of 100 ml each.

Anti Bacterial Wipes

Next on the travel essential list are anti-bacterial wipes! If you’ve forgotten your hand sanitisers, anti-bacterial wipes are the next best alternatives. You can not only use them for your hands, but they are also useful to clean off dirty surfaces. (That tray table is a nasty petri dish of germs, I swear). They are light, fit into your purse and definitely are multi-purpose. I am Asian, so Dettol is a staple in my home in Singapore, and now in Germany, I actively look for it too. I can almost smell the signature Dettol scent – means your hands, surfaces and other things that need cleaning are squeaky clean and germ-free.

Storage Bags

Storage bags are most definitely useful when travelling in times of a pandemic. Packing cubes for travel help keep your things organised in your carry-on bag so that you can find things easily when you need them. When I travelled recently, I kept two small transparent pouches. One for my flight essentials such as lip balm, hand moisturiser and face mist. The second one to keep my extra masks, anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitiser. I like keeping my liquids in a transparent pouch because they’re more sustainable than Ziploc bags. And you don’t need to empty your pouch when going through security checks (PRO TIP!).

Destination-related travel documents

The items last on the travel essential list are your travel documents. Unlike pre-COVID times, your passport, visa and tickets aren’t the only essential documents you need to have with you when you travel. Some destinations may require you to produce a vaccination certificate. In Germany, when you’ve received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, they will issue you a printed and digital copy of your EU COVID-impfzertifikat. This vaccination certificate facilitates free movement and travels within the European Union for EU residents. While the digital copy is readily available on your phone through an app, I prefer to bring along my physical copy of the certificate just in case.

UK and EU countries will also require you to fill an online Passenger Locator form prior to entering the country. Each traveller regardless of vaccination status will need to fill the form even when you’re just transiting through. This is to facilitate contact tracing should you be exposed to infectious diseases during your travel. A digital copy should be provided after the completion of the form, but again, me being rather old-school, have them printed out just in case.

Hope you enjoy this travel essential list for when you travel during COVID-19. Is your list different from mine? Do share with me what’s in your bag in the comments below! And do check out my other packing list, this time for emergencies.

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18 thoughts on “Travel essential list: How to pack for flights during COVID-19”

  1. Such a good list. I don’t travel without packing cubs or anything to organise my bags. Wet wipes are a recent addition to my packing as well. We mostly travel to Southern Africa so they are great if you’re covered in dust or don’t have much water

    1. yes! the cubes help protect your items whenever you need to take them out and put it on any surfaces! just remember to give them a good wipe down at the end of the day 🙂

  2. I really missed travel and I hope to go somewhere next year. The items on this list will surely get me prepared for a safe flight. Thank you for sharing this! Also, it’s so sad that it’s the reality that we live in now…

    1. Aww, I hope that you’ll get to travel soon! And till then, we’ll let the world heal and pray that travel will resume as normal as it possibly could!

  3. This is going to help a lot of people. Our health is a priority during covid. And masks are important. Don’t need to buy and waste money when arriving. Can stack up for the whole trip.

    1. Yep! It’s best to always keep some masks in your bag.. even when exploring during your trips. You never know when it’ll get dirty, or ruined.

  4. This is useful and well researched. I learned more about the types of masks that are important. I’ve been recently traveling by plane in this time of Covid and so I really appreciate some of these tips.

    1. Thank you! Yes, some masks are more effective than others… but regardless on mask quality and costs, having a mask is better than none I believe.

  5. This is such a great list! did you know they’re selling packages of “travel safety essentials” now too? It’s great that people are actually following the rules.

  6. Covid sure has changed the travel landscape. To be honest, I think I will always keep hand sanitiser and a mask on hand – I haven’t had a cold in 18 months! hehe

    1. Woohoo congrats on being super healthy! Hope you remain cold-free for a long, long time. I can’t say so for myself as I had to nurse a cold last month… but probably due to a change in weather. Heh.

  7. I’ve always travelled with just carry on and haven’t found that I’ve had to pack any differently for Covid, except for a mask. I guess that means I was packing the right things to begin with!

    The hospital grade HEPA filters that recycle the air on planes every 30 minutes actually make planes some of the safest places to be during a pandemic :o)

    1. I worked on a plane for six years and I don’t know what filters they use to recycle air on planes. Learnt something new today! Thanks for the tip! 🙂

  8. I travel with a lot of different hand sanitizers now – I think there’s some in every pocket of my backpack! You definitely need to be more prepared when travelling now.

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