The Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide
Let it be a short trip or an extended vacation; the size of the carry-on bag for most airlines is fixed, and so is my list of essentials that I carry in my carry-on bag. The idea is to keep (1) important documents, (2) valuables, and (3) everything else you need to be comfortable or in case of emergency (lost/delayed luggage) to be within your reach.
Carry-on Bag, Clear Pouches & Travel-Sized Containers: It’s essential to get the right size carry-on bag. Read My must have travel gear guide.
While packing liquids, keep in mind the liquid allowances: You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Placing these items in the small bag and separating from your carry-on baggage facilitates the screening process. Pack items that are in containers larger than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters in checked baggage. Exemptions: Medications, Infant, and child nourishments.
I use these clear pouches for liquids that I carry on. They’re of high-quality and will last for years. Because of their clear design, they’re TSA approved so you can pack your liquids and small items inside.
Travel documents, credit cards, cash & any other valuables: You should always be in possession of your – Passport, IDs, Credit Cards, Cash, Proof of Travel Insurance, and any other valuables that you’re carrying with you.
Medications: Always keep your prescribed medication in your carry-on bag; do remember to carry supporting prescriptions. I also keep some generic medicines with me for headaches, nausea, sleep aids, and allergies. To be organized and to avoid carrying the entire bottle/box, I use a pill case. You will see it listed, below in the SHOP MY FAVORITE CARRY-ON ESSENTIALS section.
IPad and/or MacBook: If it’s a long flight and I want to get some work done, I will carry my MacBook else if it’s a short flight, I will just take the iPad for entertainment.
Headphones: It’s a good idea to invest in a good pair of wireless earbuds. I prefer the wireless earbuds over bulky headphones as they are more compact, easy to carry, and I love the freedom to move around.
Camera: I love taking photos and don’t feel like missing any opportunity, so I carry my DSLR and my go-pro with me in my carry on.
Charging cable & adaptors: I strongly suggest you buy an additional charger cable, best if you can find a multi-purpose cable (that charges your iPad, iPhone, AirPods, apple watch). Next in the list is adapters, there are still some hotels and public places where you won’t find USB ports, so it is a good idea to buy and carry some portable adapters with you.
Travel Pillow: An inflatable neck pillow is the best option, does the work, and also occupies less space.
Eye Mask: I use the 3D eye mask, but you can use any other brand you like, should be comfortable, and completely block the light.
Ear Plugs: I didn’t realize the importance until I used them, helps a lot to cut out the surrounding noise
Snacks: I try to avoid those sugar-loaded cookies and sodas offered in the cabin service and instead pack some nuts, cheese, and my favorite KIND Bars & Barnana organic banana chips for long-haul flights.
Water: It’s important to stay well hydrated, drinking water also helps with fatigue and jetlag. I carry a reusable and collapsible water bottle, this helps me save some money, and I can avoid bothering the flight attendants for a cup of water.
Lip Balm and Moisturizer: It’s a good idea to throw in a lip balm and a moisturizer in your carry-on bag.
Hand Sanitizer: Even though most flights are sanitized before every flight, I still prefer to keep a sanitizer in my carry-on bag. I love this plant-based sanitizer spray and these disinfectant hand wipes for keeping bacteria at bay.
Wipes: I prefer to wipe the armrest and the headrest with disinfectant wipes, I like these biodegradable, flushable wipes, perfect for an array of uses.
Clothing & Makeup: I always pack an extra pair of clothing in my carry-on bag just-in-case the luggage is delayed or lost. I keep a sweater/cardigan, a couple of compression socks, undergarments, and some makeup items.
Toothbrush: I always pack my toothbrush on a flight, but I also carry Colgate single-use Wisps for a quick brush up. I leave them in my purse no matter where I go to keep my breath fresh after a meal. I also love the Desert Essence tea tree oil toothpaste and always have them on me.
Entertainment for Kids: Those who travel with kids, it’s essential to keep them engaged, during the flight consider using the iPad for kids, and carry some portable toys to keep them busy at the destination.
Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I personally use these companies and products for my travels, and based on my experience, I recommend them. Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission that helps me run this website and keeping it free for everyone to use. There are several other resources to help you plan your travel, including My Travel Planning Checklist, Best Travel Reward Credit Cards, Must Have Travel Gear Guide, My Best Travel Resources, Best Places To Visit In USA By Month, Ultimate Collection of Inspirational Quotes & Sayings, and more.