Shanghaista Travel Essentials

Chinese New Year is around the corner, and that means it’s time to pack our bags and head south for some much needed beach and sun! I love traveling, and I actually still enjoy the ritual of packing, the anticipation of getting on a flight, and the moment to relax in the air. Sure, air travel is far from glamorous these days, and everything doesn’t always go as planned, but I still get excited about it, at least most of the time. Here are some of my travel essentials to make sure my travel experiences are nice and smooth.

Travel light

When possible, I prefer to travel with carry-on luggage only, as this saves time and minimizes the risk of a bunch of my favorite things getting lost. I also like the challenge of it since I’m a hopeless over-packer by nature, so packing the right things and surviving with a small suitcase brings me some strange sense of satisfaction, haha… Anyhow, to make the most of it, I use one of the lightest cabin-size luggages available, the Rimowa Salsa Air. I love Rimowa’s design and the fact that most of their suitcases are extremely light, but for the price tag, turns out that the quality is more than disappointing. I haven’t had too many problems with my cabin-size Rimowa, but my two bigger Salsa Airs that I check-in on longer trips are just not durable. The exterior has cracked on both suitcases, and nearly all wheels have fallen off one by one. Granted, that these bags have been on the road a lot, but Robert and I bought Rimowas in order to have quality suitcases that wouldn’t break… Very frustrating!

In addition to the cabin-size luggage (and a normal purse), I bring a super-light, foldable Boston Bag from Muji, as there’s usually risk of unexpected shopping that might not fit in your carry-on suitcase. When tucked away, this bag barely takes up any space, but still being durable and very spacious when folded out for use.

Invest in smart travel accessories

Speaking of Muji, they have an amazing selection of travel accessories. I pretty much get all my travel related tings there, as their products are functional, high quality, reasonable price and simple, clean design. Some products that I love are:

  • The slim passport case: It’s functional and very light, so it doesn’t take up too much space or add extra weight in my purse. It still has plenty of room for all your frequent flyer cards, boarding passes, currency, and, of course, your passport.
  • Clear cosmetics case: Perfect for carrying liquids in your carry-on. The volume of the bag is approximately according to international flight regulations, so there’s no need for hassling with ziplock bags when you have this one.
  • Travel bottles: Muji has dozens of different types and sizes of travel bottles, jars and pots. To save weight and space, I use these for face creams, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, medicine etc. I also use samples of my favorite products (especially the ones that are sensitive to air and light exposure) that I usually ask for when buying products at Sephora or in department stores. 
  • Garment cases: Muji’s foldable garment bags in different sizes are brilliant for keeping clothes and things neatly organized while you’re on the road. I use one for underwear, another for tops, and a third one for bottoms. They also work perfectly as laundry wash bags for delicates.

A few other (non-Muji) items always in my travel bag:

  • Airplane headphone jack adapter, so that I can use my own headphones with the in-flight entertainment system. Additionally, I bring a headphone jack splitter, so that Robert and I can both watch (and listen to) movies on a tablet, laptop or smartphone. These things are tiny, inexpensive and SO worth buying if you travel a lot. Get them at the electronics store at the airport.
  • Following the previous, I obviously bring my own headphones as well, as I know they’re comfortable and have good sound. Very important on long-haul flights!
  • Power bank and travel power adapter to ensure I can power up electronics and avoid panik.
  • Water. Lots of water. And an emergency snack, usually fresh or dried fruit, mixed nuts or a granola bar.
  • Disinfectant hand wipes, hand cream and redness relief eye drops.

Shanghaista Travel Essentials

Arrive looking fresh

Flying isn’t known for its beautifying effects. When flying long-haul, I usually take off my make-up, and do a moisturizing face mask to fight off the extremely dry cabin air and keep my skin somewhat balanced. Sure, sounds like a bit of a hassle, but this makes an enormous difference in how your skin looks and feels during and after the flight. I use Bioderma Sensibio Micellar Water to easily remove make-up, and follow with Dermalogica’s Skin Hydrating Mask, which is pretty much unnoticeable and can be left on for several hours. Wipe off the face mask and pop in some eye drops before landing, and you’ll look like you slept like a baby. (For more in-flight beauty inspiration, check out Lisa Eldridge’s vlog here!)

When in China…

Now, when it comes to air travel in China, there’s a couple of things you need to know. Some additional rules and regulations apply, so being aware and prepared can make a big difference to your trip:

First off, smartphones and tablets must be turned off during the flight, so having them in flight mode is also a no-go. If your plane doesn’t have an entertainment system, make sure to bring a book or magazine to keep yourself busy. (I heard rumors that this might be changing soon, fingers crossed!) However, laptops and mp3 players seem to be fine to use. Luckily, I still have my old iPod that I now bring with me when I fly. It’s also a nice little throwback to my favorite music from 5-10 years back.

When it comes to personal care products, any type of aerosol in your carry-on luggage will most likely be confiscated. This means no hairspray, mousse, spray-deodorant etc. For me, the problem is hairspray, as no hairspray equals bad hair days. Solution? Find a non-aerosol liquid that works as a hairspray, and pour it into a pump-spray bottle that’s less than 100ml (find them at – you guessed it – Muji). However, hairspray or any other aerosol toiletries have never been a problem in checked-in luggage.

Also, never travel with nail polish – it will be confiscated. It doesn’t matter if it’s in your carry-on or check-in luggage: the sensors will pick it up and you will be asked to dig it out and hand it over to the inspector. I’ve learned this the hard way, and haven’t dared to try my luck in the past year. Please let me know in the comments if this regulation has changed!

Find more info on China-specific regulations on Travel China Guide’s website here.

Shanghaista Travel Essentials

What are your travel essentials? Any good tips for air travel in China? Please share in the comments below!

Happy Monday folks! Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @shanghaistablog for more pics! x

2 replies on “My Travel Essentials – China Edition

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