What’s In The Bag?

I gotta catch a flight. The alarm sounds at 5am and I’m up and moving. I showered the night before, so it’s a quick job of getting dressed, throwing on a ball cap, and grabbing my bag before I’m out the door. But what’s in the bag? (Can you hear Brad Pitt from Se7en?).

I don’t fly for work as much as I used to, but I still have a tight routine down. Don’t we all? As my Dad said, keep in mind the 6 P’s – Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

Here’s a checklist for my bag when I fly:

The Bag – DUH!

The “man bag” has taken many forms in past decades, but we’ve landed back on the trusty backpack. It has plenty of room, and frees up your hands. Millennials properly use both shoulder straps, which this Gen X’er is getting the hang of.

A Good Book

Let’s face it, even if your traveling for business, you want to take as many things to keep you entertained as possible. For me, it’s my Kindle Paperwhite, charged and stocked with plenty of books and samples to try. Saves a hell of a lot of room and doesn’t require the overhead reading light.


Headphones or earbuds. With my iPhone safely on airplane mode, I’ll fire up the playlists I’ve created and downloaded on Spotify to my phone. No streaming necessary. Some people like gigantic Beats headphones or noise cancelling headsets, but you need some room in your bag.

Last week, I flew to Georgia, and I forgot my earbuds. I chose to buy some at the airport… for $30. Yes, they hand out free earbuds on most flights now, but they’re really sh*tty and sound like someone’s screaming in a plastic bag. There is nothing good about listening to Bono do his thing when it sounds like he’s doing it via the drive-thru speaker at McDonalds. So now I’ve got an extra pair of buds I can leave in my travel bag. Score!


Right, see the above paragraph regarding earbuds and headphones. A must these days with TVs built into the backs of seats. Some airlines, like Delta, give you all the movies and TV shows you want for free on a tiny touch screen. There are always movies that can be saved for that long plane ride. Some people like to load up iPads and devices with movies, which works, too. I’d resort to that only if the back of the seat in front of me ran out of good ones.


Laptop and phone chargers. Check. If the earbuds are $30, I don’t want to know what the charging cables go for in the airport. While on the subject, why the hell does the laptop have to go in its own tray at security, but the iPad can stay in the bag? Who knows – just do it or they’ll get some dogs to bark at you.


It was dark when I got up. Good thing I threw those in the bag the night before. Stylish AND functional. Besides, if you wear sunglasses at an airport in Los Angeles, chances are someone will think you’re famous.

Hangry Snack

Like my brother says, you gotta have some. Can’t forget to throw a granola bar with some chocolate in there to ward of the Incredible Hulk between meals.


Bought some after the security line, otherwise they’d make me throw it out. Or chug it. Paid through the nose for it, but they got you. Of course, you can do the Earth-friendly thing and bring an empty bottle and look for a water fountain or water bottle filling station in the terminal – which I did see at Reagan National in DC.


Picks and Strings

This is the same bag I bring to gigs and keep on stage with me, so there’s always extra guitar strings and picks in here.  It’s the musician’s version of being a boy scout.  And it properly adheres to the 6 P’s above as well.


Old Fashioned Kinda Guy

This is an air travel hack I found recently.  I’d consider myself old fashioned in more ways than one – that’s a positive in my book.  And my favorite cocktail is, aptly, a whiskey Old Fashioned.  Here’s a Carry On Cocktail Kit that can turn any flight into a good time!  If only the flight attendant could bring me one of them there huge ice cubes, though.



I can always take a nap on the plane. Be it the white noise, the pressurized cabin, or the gentle motion, it’s not hard to go out for a 20 to 30 minute snoozer. Got a noisy baby or talkative neighbor? Pop in some earplugs and it’s off to dreamland.

That’s my Modern Man flight survival bag. Might be different from yours, but it helps me get through the gruel of modern air travel without too much hassle. It won’t protect me from being punched in the mouth and dragged off the plane, but between the unpredictable weather, maintenance delays, long lines, connecting flights, middle seats and crappy airline food, it’s like bringing a little piece of reliability on the road.

What do you make sure to always have in your carry on? Share your tips in the comments down below!


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