Be sure to pack an eye mask the next time you travel.
Be sure to pack an eye mask the next time you travel. Alamy

There's the usual: laptop, smartphone, deodorant, toothbrush — the stuff that goes with me no matter where I go. Most of those familiar things probably are on your packing list as well. But there are a few other items I always include that might not be the things you always pack.

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The next time you get ready to take off, consider adding these useful objects to your list — although I warn you, it might mean a trip to the toy store.

1. Earplugs

I loved my fancy $250 noise-canceling earphones, but after they were stolen, I switched to those foamy plugs that cost about 20 cents and are preferred by construction workers around the world. They certainly don't block out all the noise (you still need to hear things), but they do take the edge off when I'm in range of screaming children, barking CFOs and the 37 announcements in the terminal that don't concern me.

2. Eye Mask

Sunlight, the enemy of sleep, can be blocked with a simple eye mask, which also places a relaxing, gentle pressure on your eyelids. An eye mask allows me to catch sleep in some of the most difficult situations: well-lit planes, noisy trains and hotel rooms that don't have black-out shades. Just be sure to get one that's not too tight or you'll wake up with those embarrassing lines across your face.  

3. Melatonin

An eye mask isn't the only sleep aid I travel with. A bottle of over-the-counter melatonin has always had a place in my luggage, and I honestly don't know what I'd do without my "Tony." Melatonin, a hormone that occurs naturally in your body, doesn't completely knock you out like a sleeping pill. It just relaxes you, as though you've just had a nice hot bath.