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Why I Always Pack a Toothbrush on a Long

Feb 06, 2024

I've made plenty of packing mistakes in my life.

I've used a crumbled-up jacket as a makeshift pillow when I accidentally left my travel pillow behind. I've worked out in a silk top when I forgot to pack an athletic top for a trip. And I've borrowed phone chargers from countless strangers when I accidentally left mine plugged in at home.

But one of my biggest mistakes was leaving a toothbrush buried deep in my suitcase for a long-haul flight.

Luckily, I was flying business class, where each passenger received their own bag of toiletries — and tucked inside was a toothbrush and toothpaste.

Ever since that mistake, I've never forgotten a toothbrush in my personal item. That's because it's the one item that leaves me feeling the most refreshed on and after a long-haul flight.

Before my most recent long-haul flight from Denver to Tokyo, I double-checked the bag I was using as my personal item to make sure I had a few things: I had my passport, wallet, and charged AirPods. The last thing I made sure I had on me was my toiletry bag.

I wanted to make sure it was in my backpack — not my carry-on suitcase — so I could easily access it during the flight.

From previous mistakes I've made on long-haul flights, I've learned that toiletries can be a major strategy for surviving lengthy plane rides.

Makeup wipes or face spray can be a way to feel refreshed when waking up. And lotion and lip balm can help me feel hydrated in the dry plane cabin. But my favorite item in my toiletry bag is my toothbrush.

Brushing my teeth before bed is part of my daily routine, and I've discovered that incorporating little parts of my routine into my long-haul flight routine helps me fall asleep easier.

Plus, I know I'm bound to order a glass or two of red wine on a flight, and the last thing I want to be thinking about as I doze off is potentially stained teeth.

Or bad breath. Plane seats are close to one another, and the last thing I want is someone to smell my post-airline-dinner breath as I snooze.

Brushing my teeth also helps me feel refreshed post-flight. There's a good chance I'm heading straight to an event or activity after I land, so brushing my teeth helps keep me energized for the day ahead.

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The author brushes her teeth in the airplane bathroom on a long-haul flight to Auckland, New Zealand. Monica Humphries/Insider A toothbrush and toothpaste are always in my bag