10 Carry-on Essentials in Case of Flight Cancellation or Delay

carry-on essentials

Having your flight delayed or cancelled is never fun. The winter holiday season of 2022 certainly taught us that. Anyone who had their travel plans interrupted or delayed can vouch for just how frustrating and stressful that can be; especially during the holiday season. It’s stressful enough for gifts to arrive after Christmas, but you being late for Christmas or cancelling your family’s long-awaited resort getaway is a next-level pain in the derriere.

Try as you might to avoid them, delays and cancellations can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone. All you can do is hope for the best while preparing for the worst. Get in the habit of keeping certain essentials readily available in your carry-on bag or personal item so that you can still have access to them if the worst should come to pass. Here are 10 carry-on essentials you should always have on hand in the event of a delay, cancellation or a misplaced bag. They might not stop the delay, but they’ll make a bad situation much more bearable.

1. A toothbrush

Travel Toothbrush Selection
Carry-on Essentials
A toothbrush

Whether you’ve beat your luggage to your final destination or you’re unexpectedly sleeping at a hotel (or airport), you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the bare necessities in your carry-on or personal item, rather than tucked away in a checked bag somewhere. You’ll be thankful you have a toothbrush handy—especially if you’ve been snacking on airport meals and plane food all day. While any standard toothbrush will be easy to pack away, this set of folding toothbrushes sold at Amazon is especially portable and a carry-on essential from only $8.99 for the set of 6.

2. An extra change of clothes

A change of clothes
Fresh Clothes! So Comfy.

Sitting in the same clothes (and, ahem, undergarments) for more than 12 hours doesn’t feel too comfortable. Don’t be stuck without any fresh clothes to change into because they’re all stowed in your checked bag. Make sure to bring a full change of clothes in your carry-on or personal item, including a clean shirt, pants, socks and underwear. It may seem silly, but if you’re stuck at the airport due to delays, you’ll be happy to have a change of clothes to feel refreshed. 

Depending on where you get stranded, there may be a shower available. While a shower after a long day of frustrating travelling can be amazing, nothing is less desirable than having to slip back into the same gross underwear you’ve been sweating in all day. Mother always said, “Make sure you have clean underwear.” Mother always knows best!

3. A portable charger

Portable Charger
INIU Portable Charger,

It may be safe to assume that all airports these days have power outlets. However, whether you’ll be able to actually use one is a gamble. We’ve all seen people strewn all over the airport huddled around poles, walls and anywhere else power runs.

When many other passengers are waiting around, these outlets become hot real estate. It’s best to travel with a fully charged portable battery pack—whether your flight is on time, delayed or cancelled until further notice, a portable charger is a carry-on essential. You can keep your phone, tablet and other electronics charged, allowing you to stay connected with others, modify your travel schedule and stay entertained. Just make sure you fully charge it before you begin your travels.

There are many of these power packs on the market these days. This INIU Portable Charger is rated best overall with 10 stars by BuyersGuide.org and is available at Amazon for $29.99.

4. All of your medication

Keep your meds with you!

A number one rule when travelling is to keep any medication you’ll need for the trip in your personal bag or carry-on. You never know when a sudden delay or cancellation could happen, leaving you separated from your checked bag for undetermined amounts of time. The CTSA says, Passengers with medical needs are allowed to bring prescription and essential non-prescription medications with them through the security checkpoint as well as any medically required items and mobility aids. medication can be stored in both carry-on and checked bags, but the agency highly recommends keeping it in your carry-on to be on the safe side.

5. A reusable water bottle

Hydro Flask
Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Reusable Water Bottle

It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day, whether you’re at 30,000 feet in the sky or you’re just sitting around in the airport. While you can buy an overpriced plastic bottle in your terminal, you can also bring in an empty reusable water bottle for free and fill it up once you’ve passed through security. Plus, it can keep your water cold for hours.

We’ve seen hundreds of water bottles on the market. My kids don’t leave home without their Hydro Flask Stainless Steel Reusable Water Bottle. It keeps water extra cold and its stainless steel construction ensures durability, pure taste and no flavour transfer.

6. Portable cleansing products

Pure Active Body Wipes
Stay Fresh with Body Wipes

If your flight is delayed for the entire day or you end up spending the night at the airport, you’ll want nothing more than a hot shower. In those situations, showering is probably not in the cards, but thankfully there are options for staying clean and refreshed without one.

While you can rely on regular-sized cleansing wipes to quickly sanitize the aircraft seat armrests and folding tray or a fast food court dining table, these Pure Active Shower Body Wipes are a must-have in your carry-on luggage They just might be the next best thing to an actual shower. These body wipes are hypoallergenic, paraben and alcohol-free, and contain Aloe Vera and vitamin E to nurture the skin. A pack of 40 wipes will cost you about $39.00 from Amazon.ca

7. Extra face masks

Make sure to travel with an extra face mask or two.
The KN95 face mask

According to USA Today COVID-19 cases are on the rise once more. It’s a good idea to bring a mask in your carry-on even though mask mandates have long been dropped. Packing multiple masks will be necessary if you’re delayed, as your mask is bound to become dirty or sweaty if you wear it for an extended period of time. Wet and dirty masks are less effective at filtering germs and should be disposed of immediately. As cloth masks are less effective at filtering germs, we recommend packing the Gold Standard of medical masks – the KN95 mask. These masks come in a convenient 10-pack in black or white for around $16.99.

Consider bringing some travel-friendly hand sanitizer while you’re at it to keep your area free of germs.

8. AirTags

Keep track of your luggage with an AirTag.
Apple Air Tag

Got an iPhone? Consider purchasing Apple AirTags ahead of your travels. While this might not be something to keep in your carry-on necessarily, you’ll be happy you did this. These electronic trackers can be attached to keys, wallets and more to help you keep track of your items if they get lost or left behind somewhere. You can do so through the Find My app or by playing a chime through your tag to help you locate an item.

Consider attaching one to your suitcase before you check it at the airport. During busy travel times with delays and cancellations, it can give you peace of mind in case your luggage gets misplaced along your journey. Make sure to properly tag your luggage with identification too.

9.  A cozy blanket or pillow

Cozy Blanket
Cozy Blanket

You’ll appreciate having cozy accessories on you when you’re waiting around for your flight. If you have room for it, a cozy blanket or pillow can make a world of a difference in the event of disrupted travel plans.

This lightweight fleece blanket has over 40,000 5-star reviewers for its plush feel at an affordable price that’ll keep you warm in the car, on the plane or in the terminal.

If you don’t want to carry a full-sized pillow, a travel pillow is your best bet for providing neck support and comfort while sitting up. These are the best-rated travel pillows. The Cabeau Evolution Classic Travel Pillow is incredibly supportive and features an adjustable clasp for maximum comfort. The doctor recommended memory foam and comes with a carry bag that allows the pillow to compress down to half its size.

10. A good pair of headphones or earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Bose Earbuds

A good pair of headphones or earbuds is key for any travel day making them an absolute carry-on essential item. When it comes to waiting around due to delays or cancellations, they become crucial for tuning out airport noise and providing entertainment while you’re waiting around for your flight. 

One of the best-rated pairs of wireless earbuds is the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, which feature outstanding noise-cancelling capabilities, a comfortable design and excellent audio quality.

For over-ear headphones, we love the Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones—they provide top-notch audio quality, feature a high-quality noise-cancelling effect and are comfortable to wear all day long. If you can afford to splurge and spend $498 from Amazon you’ll be investing in a lifetime of audio enjoyment during your travels and beyond. If you are kind enough to use our affiliate links to purchase this item, you will also really make us happy at Nova Travel!

So there you have our list of 10 Carry-on Essential items to ease your pain and suffering in the case of unexpected delays, cancellations, or misplaced luggage. We hope you never need to rely on them. Safe travels!

Click here to read our other helpful blog posts: The Nova Travel Blog Pages


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