by Alexis Flippin, Frommer’s Travel

Keep these items within reach no matter the length of your flight

Remember when plump packets of peanuts rained down on hungry air travelers and every seat had its own fleecy blanket? These days, airlines are stingy with the snacks, and full meals and blankets or pillows often cost extra. With delays common, you need to come prepared, whether you’re flying short haul or long. Here are five air travel tips involving carry-on items that will make your flight comfortable.

Essential medications and toiletries

The last thing you need is to be separated from your medicine if delays are long or, worse, your checked bag is lost. Things to keep in your carry-on include prescription medications (in original packaging), nasal sprays, moisturizers and lip balm. Follow the Transportation Security Administration’s 3-1-1 rule for carry-on liquids and gels: Containers must be 3.4 ounces or smaller and fit inside a clear, 1-quart, zip-top bag (one bag per passenger). Visit the TSA website for guidelines, including those for liquid prescription medications.

Entertainment

A flight is forced personal time; for some that means a nap, for others, enlightening diversions. Bring earphones if you don’t want to pony up a buck or two for an airline pair. Charge electronic devices before leaving so you can read, watch movies, play games or listen to music. As you know, all such devices must be shut off during takeoff and landing, so it’s good to have books and magazines or newspapers on hand, especially since most airlines no longer offer much in the way of free reading material.

Food

Snacks might not be offered for free anymore, and meals rarely are, so bring something to eat. As a courtesy to fellow passengers, leave smelly foods at home, and, if traveling abroad, be mindful of items like produce and meats that won’t be allowed into your destination. Also pack gum or lozenges to head off ear popping during takeoff and landing. Beverages won’t make it through security but are often allowed on the plane if purchased in departure areas. Again, check the TSA website for current guidelines and other air travel tips.

Creature comforts

In-flight temperatures drop, and the cabin gets chilly, particularly if you’ve boarded the plane in tropical-island garb. Pack a sweater, jacket or wrap, and even socks in your carryon to keep warm. Air-travel neck pillows are a nice to have for longer flights.

Your credit card

So what if you’d like to have a drink during the flight or you just have to see how that dumb movie turns out? Alas, cold, hard cash is no longer the coin of the 35,000-foot realm. Many airlines now take only credit cards as payment for food, alcohol, entertainment and even Wi-Fi, so get ready to flash your plastic if you want any of these in-flight comforts.