Take a Hike: Traveling Light, Hawaii Part 2

Personal item carry-on

I just returned from my 9 day stay in Hawaii. It was the usual beautiful trip home + the threat of Hurricane Lane, which by the way left Oahu totally unscathed. There was barely even a drop of rain, and if you know that Hawaii is the RAINBOW State, it normally rains pretty much everyday in Hawaii. That typhoon went and sucked all of the fluffy rain clouds away and left us with overcast skies for 3 days. Those cloudy days meant that the lighting was nothing that a novice photography enthusiast like myself could handle. I got a handful of sad looking photos and it almost prevented me from making this post. Even as I type this out I am feeling some serious insecurity about not having beautiful photos to share with you. Like why would you look at this post otherwise? Hopefully I can provide some value with my packing list and sharing my whoopsie.

My mistake, throwing everything into my suitcase the night before (4 hours before) heading to the airport at 4:30AM. Life happens, things need to be done before leaving work for an extended period. Do instead, take the time to make your personal checklist and pack a majority of your clothes at least two days ahead, but don't fret if you don't! You are going on vacation and remember, Hawaii is a part of the US you can get anything you might need (and more). That said, if you want to focus on your activities that do not include shopping, packing ahead will let you relax, hit the beach, hike, eat the local grinds, etc. without hitting the mall/shopping centers.

Silly me forgot the two main things one needs in a tropical location, my slippers and bikini. The other thing I forgot...shorts. WTF was my problem? Those three things are pretty much all anyone going to Hawaii might need and I left them behind. That's what laundry and life will do. I sort of meant to leave the slippers behind because I wanted to get a new pair that are from a brand that makes them in Hawaii. I did not consider that the day after arriving 90% of the island would close due to the imminent storm. I still got a pair of slippers and in hind sight they are probably better than what I was originally after.

I did however manage to pack everything that goes into my Personal Item Carry-on. What goes into my “Personal Item” bag? As you might know you get to carry two items, one of them is your smaller bag that fits under the sear in front of you. That bag is the bag you want to put anything you might want to use during the flight. As in, please, please do not open your carry-on luggage during the flight to rummage around for your headphones. In the list the items with an * are my long-haul items. These are the things I want when I am traveling for 6+ hours/on a red-eye. Did you know that you do not need your picture ID to catch a flight? I didn’t know that, and once several years ago hubs had to drive me back home to get my wallet that I just so happened to leave on the kitchen table. Somehow I managed to get back to the airport, through security, back to the gate as they called my name in the terminal and on to the plane while they closed the main cabin door behind me, where I was met by a plane full of passengers on a 5AM flight staring at me with bloodshot eyes…don’t do that. Do, go to security and let them know you do not have your ID. I have been told by 2 people that have done this that they will ask you lots of questions about your personal identification and get you through security in less time than it takes to run home and back.

So what’s up with my list? Didn’t I say that I travel light? Yet I always bring a bunch of stuff that some probably think is frivolous. These are the items I have found imperative to landing comfortably in Hawaii after flying from the East Coast. I pack my luggage lightly and it more than makes up for the slightly stuffed backpack.

Well, the cash is because many of my favorite eateries in Hawaii are cash only, and I don’t know when I will be able to get to an ATM, the small bills are for tipping the drivers on the shuttles. Please tip friendly help generously, it will always be appreciated.

Sanitizing wipes are for wiping down the airplane seat area and headrest. They do NOT clean those things unless they are visibly disgusting, I am not kidding. A stewardess told me so. And no, I am not one of those people that carries hand sanitizer everywhere they go, but if you ever bother to wipe down your seat and tray you will be amazed at just how grimy it is.

I usually bring whatever is my favorite rich facial lotion at the time and use it on my hands too. I figure even if it is expensive it’s just a few uses during a flight.

Socks are for sitting shoe-less at my seat.

Headphones, preferably in ear workout style or noise cancelling make a trip so much more bearable. I like to listen to meditative or binaural music during the first half of the trip (Hawaii is 5-6 hours behind, making a 5AM flight basically midnight) to help me sleep and get on schedule. The last 3-4 hours of travel I might listen to an audio book, watch movies or write.

The face mask is not the beauty treatment type of face mask, but the Japanese tourist-hypochondriac type of face mask. I got some cute ones from Amazon and have never looked back. They keep my nose from drying out and make me feel better about breathing next to any sneezy-hacky neighbors.

I pack my toiletry bag in my personal item carry-on so that I can easily put some sunscreen and makeup on as we are landing.

Buy the biggest bottle of water you can find as soon as you get through security, and then drink the entire thing before walking toward your gate. Refill that bottle at least twice on your flight over. Your entire body will thank you for hydrating. Airplanes are like giant desiccant packets for your body, which can cause crusty noses, making you more susceptible to colds; constipation, headaches, etc. Just be sure to get an aisle seat or tell your row mate to drink up with you, because you are going to be headed to the loo quite a bit.

Next…in depth tips on surviving a long flight.

Carry-on Personal Item Checklist

  • driver's license or passport

  • phone charger + phone

  • cash ($200 + $40 in small bills)

  • sanitizing wipes

  • facial/body lotion

  • soft thick socks

  • headphones

  • face mask

  • toiletry/makeup bag

  • bottle of water (purchased after security)

  • *eye mask

  • *neck pillow

  • *facial wipes


HikeAmber KatadaTravel, minimalism