Manon van de Ment
Manon van de Meent

Boeing 787


How to pack like a... pilot

In our new series, we take a peek inside the bags of the world’s most well-travelled folk and find out what they can’t leave behind. To kick us off, Boeing 787 pilot Manon van de Meent opens up her summer suitcase…

Being a pilot means I never really unpack my suitcases. I say cases, as there are two on my spare bed right now – one large (for trips of four days or more) one small (four days or fewer). My biggest (irrational!) fear is not having enough underwear or socks, so they live in my case with jeans, a few tops, a basic gym kit, trainers and flip flops.

And while my flying may have changed (I’ve been flying long haul on the Dreamliner for just under three years now – before that, I flew domestic and European trips for five years on the Embraer 170/190 jets with BA CityFlyer out of London City Airport), my packing habits certainly haven’t.

Persol sunnies

Immediately makes you feel like you’re on holiday, even if you’re only stepping out of the house. As a pilot, I always carry two when on duty: a pair of non-polarised Persols for the flight deck, so I’m able to see the instruments in front of me, and a pair of polarised sunglasses for when I’m out and about.


Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine day cream

On my days off, you’ll find me cycling to Huntington Beach, California, walking around the temples in Kyoto, Japan, or even skiing in Calgary or Denver. It can be a lot of time in the sun (a great perk of the job), so I never leave the hotel without putting suntan lotion on, or at least taking it with me in my bag. I always wear Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine day cream with SPF30, and my bareMinerals powder foundation has SPF15 in it. When on holiday or somewhere sunny down route, I use an old favourite (my mum even used it back in the 80s/90s), Lancaster Silky Milk SPF15 or the Velvet SPF30. For full water protection, I use my husband’s (who’s a professional sailor) recommendation of La Roche-Posay Anthelios or the budget option of Garnier Ambre Solaire Clear Protect SPF30, as I find they last all day, even after a dip in the sea or pool!

sun cream

Seafolly swimwear

To me, swimwear isn’t just for the beach or pool. I need it under my wetsuit while white water rafting on the Maipo River in Santiago, or when a hotel has a great spa (one of my favourite things to do on a rainy day or before a long flight home!). My favourite swimwear is Australian brand Seafolly. Its bikinis and bathing suits are super stylish, very well made and last. I was first introduced to them in Sydney, Australia, where my sister lives, but you can buy their stock (and collect Avios at the same) online at ASOS (8 Avios per £1). 

shorts / swimwear

Ear plugs and eye mask

Unexpected noisy hotel neighbours? Want to guarantee a lie in? (Who wouldn’t?) Then stock up on ear plugs and a good, comfy eye mask. If you find eye masks annoy you, try buying slightly raised masks. Absolute game changer.

earplugs and eyemask

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Books are an unmissable part of my carry-on. I love reading, especially thrillers and books about current affairs – currently it’s The Chain by Adrian McKinty. I’m looking to get around to Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, too. Most books I end up reading are recommended by fellow crew members or friends. My iPad (which I’ll also take) is loaded with e-magazines. PressReader is my go-to magazine app. It refreshes automatically, so is great for poolside or jetlagged hotel room reading!


Reusable bags

Packing a few reusable bags is a small effort, but it ends up saving having to use plastic ones when abroad. When my work takes me to great wine destinations like Argentina or South Africa, I like to bring back local wines (they make great presents!). To stop these from breaking and leaking in my suitcase, I’ll bring along reusable ‘air bags’ for the bottles. What a great invention!


Illustrations for The Club by Eduardo Fuentes 

This article has been tagged Adventure, Travel Tips