Perfect Carry-On Packing Guide

No matter where in the world I travel to, my carry-on packing routine is nearly always the same. I ensure I have all the essentials and whatever I need to stay comfortable.

Whether you’re taking a 1-hour commuter flight or a 10-hour transatlantic flight… 

Don’t miss my ultimate carry-on packing guide for a smooth trip!

  • Carry

Depending on your trip, you may require a carry-on suitcase or you may only need a large purse. Here are my recommendations for carry-on bags:

  • Backpack

Because of my camera equipment (and blog gear) my go-to carry-on for every trip is my Case Logic Camera & Laptop Backpack. It protects my laptop and camera, holds my tripod and still has plenty of compartments and space for all of my other carry-on essentials.

  • Tote

Regardless of my carry-on bag, I always pack a Longchamp Le Pliage nylon tote. These things are a traveler’s dream! They fold up to about the size of a wide wallet and open to a large tote so you can keep it handy as an extra travel bag or use it as your carry-on.

I also recently discovered Lo & Sons’ Overnight & Gym Bag and it’s now my go-to carry-on bag. It’s lightweight, has normal purse style handles, plus a larger cross-body strap which is great if you’re lugging around a lot of stuff.

  • Liquid’s Pouch

I use a TRUFFLE clarity pouch for liquids that I carry on. They’re absolutely beautiful and made from high-quality materials so they’ll last for years to come. Because of their clear design, they’re also TSA approved so you can pack your liquids and small items inside.

  • Sleep

Nowadays, many airlines no longer offer pillows and blankets to economy passengers. It’s always best to be prepared!

  • Travel Pillow

I’ve tried EVERY type of travel pillow and this adjustable neck pillow is by far the best of the lot. It inflates in a couple of breaths, has an easy air release button so you can customize the firmness and comes with a small pouch for storage.

  • Eye Mask

The most important features in a good eye mask are that it blocks out all light and isn’t too tight around your head. This Sweet Dreams eye mask is comfortable and has handy little ear plug holsters so you have everything you need in one place.

  • Ear Plugs

Never underestimate the joy of having a good set of ear plugs. They will not only make your flight more enjoyable, but could save your sanity along your travels.

As a light sleeper and someone who lies awake at night if anyone is snoring, I recommend Hearos Xtreme ear plugs. They’re soft, comfortable and offer the highest noise reduction available.

  • Wear

My flight outfits change depending on my destination, but I always make sure I have the essentials. These items will keep you comfy and looking your best:

  • Shoes

Whether I wear them onto the plane or have them packed in my carry-on, I always bring a pair of Tieks on every flight. They’re foldable, comfortable and are easy to slip on and off.

  • Sweater

Finding the perfect travel sweater is like finding the perfect partner. I’m not kidding. Once you find “the one” you’ll never leave home without it.

I’ve found that a long cardigan is perfect for flights. You can wear it as a sweater, lay it over you like a blanket, or bundle it up around your neck like a scarf.

  • Headwear

An easy way to look your best after a long flight is having a stylish piece of headwear on hand, whether it’s a baseball cap or even a beanie.

Kinsey Scarves are perfect for tying into your hair and I love Janessa Leone brimmed hats. They’re both chic and perfect for any destination.

  • Compression Socks

On a a more serious note, you should always, always travel with compression socks.

Long flights can wreck havoc on leg health. Travel-related deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition dubbed “economy-class syndrome” which causes blog clots following long-haul air travel in cramped conditions.

Studies have concluded that airline passengers who wear compression stockings during flights of four hours or more can significantly reduce their risk of DVT as well as leg swelling.

I always pack a pair of RejuvaHealth knee-highs to stay safe and comfortable on long flights.

  • Eat

Most airlines serve up a couple options for meals onboard. I like to think of them as cardboard and indigestion. Always pack some snacks, especially on long-haul flights.

  • Snacks
I’ll typically bring a piece of fruit and some raw almonds to snack on during the flight. I also love Perfect Bars. They’re organic, satiating and packed with delicious & healthy ingredients so you’ll feel good about what you’re eating!

  • Hydrate

Commercial airplanes have very low humidity, so keeping your skin and body hydrated is really important.

  • Water Bottle

I highly recommend getting a Vapur water bottle for your travels. It rolls up small enough to fit in your pocket when empty and it holds an entire liter of water.

While it may mean extra trips to the lavatory, drinking lots of water before and during your flight can help with jet lag and fatigue.

  • Eye Cream

For me, one of the worst effects of travel is tired eyes. I apply Benefit’s it’s potent! Brightening Eye Cream under my eyes before and during my flight to help with dark circles.

  • Lip Balm

My favorite in-flight lip balm is Sugar Lip Treament by Fresh. Available is a variety of colors and treatments, Sugar keeps your lips soft and moisturized.

  • Tinted Moisturizer

A good tinted moisturizer has the coverage benefits of a foundation and the moisturizing qualities of a face lotion. My favorite is oil-free Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20 by Tarte.

  • Coconut Oil

I always pack a small container with coconut oil. It solidifies in cooler temperatures and liquifies when it’s heated. It serves a variety of uses, but is great to use as a hand moisturizer on flights.

It’s fragrance is also nice should you need refuge from any unsavory smells onboard.

Want more travel beauty tips?

Check out: Travel Beauty Hacks for Every Budget!

  • Cleanse

Long travel days can leave you feeling unclean and uncomfortable. These items will keep you feeling fresh:

  • Hand Sanitizer

It’s not new news that airplanes are blanketed in bacteria. Do your best to keep clear of germs and do your part to not spread them. I love The Honest Co.’s all-natural hand sanitizer for keeping bacteria at bay.

  • Wipes

La Fresh makes biodegradable Travel Wipes for an array of uses such as shoe-shine wipes, bug-repellant wipes and SPF 30 wipes. They’re perfectly travel friendly and come individually wrapped for convenient single-use.

I typically pack the facial cleansing wipes, oil-free makeup remover wipes and hygiene wipes on every flight.

It may sound like a whole lotta wipes, but you’ll thank me on that 24-hour travel day with no shower!

  • Brighten

With limited carry-on space and limitations on liquids, it’s best to bring less makeup onboard. Here are my fav products to bring that moneymaker back to life!

  • Mascara

A little mascara can go a long way and can help brighten your eyes after a flight. I’ve never found a better travel-sized mascara than they’re real! by Benefit.

  • Under Eye Concealer

A good under-eye concealer should be hydrating and shouldn’t dry out and crease. Benefit’s fakeup concealer is perfect for covering dark circles and nourishing skin.

Want more makeup packing tips?

Check out: “Fresh Off The Plane” Travel Makeup!

  • Refresh

A little freshness is a life-saver on a travel day. These items will keep you feeling refreshed both on and off your flight:

  • Panty Liners

Long travel days usually means no shower. So, I always pack a few panty liners and change throughout my trip. Always Xtra Protection Regular Dailies absorb wetness and odor and keep you feeling fresh!

  • Mints

Try to avoid chewing gum while you’re flying. Swallowing the extra air can sometimes cause tummy aches. Instead, opt for something like YumEarth’s Organic Wild Peppermint Drops.

  • Deodorant

Do everyone a favor a reapply during your flight. I love Lavanilla The Healthy Deodorant. It’s, travel-sized, all-natural and it actually works!

  • Eye Drops

Sometimes a couple of eyedrops are all you need to feel refreshed after a long flight. Don’t forget to pack a bottle!

  • Toothbrush

I typically always pack my toothbrush on a flight, but I love Colgate single-use Wisps for a quick brush up. I leave them in my purse no matter where I go so I can keep my breath and smile fresh after a meal.

  • Spare Pair

It never hurts to pack a spare pair of undies and an extra top on long-travel days.

  • Entertain

A long-haul flight can seem daunting, so be prepared with plenty of things to entertain yourself. Here are some ideas to keep clear of boredom:

  • Tablet

I love the feel of a physical book more than anything but they can be bulky, which is why I travel with a tablet. They keep all of your apps, music, games and eBooks stored in one compact device.

Make sure your apps and software are updated and downloaded before you board. Look into the hundreds of travel apps before your flight to help you plan your trip and keep you busy on the flight.

  • Phone

If you are traveling out of the country, be sure to turn off your cellular data to avoid roaming fees. Smartphones also offer the same features of a tablet with plenty of games, books and apps to make time go by faster.

  • Headphones

A good pair of headphones is a wise investment for frequent travelers. I find bulky noise-canceling headsets to be more of a fashion statement than a practicality, so I opt for powerful, yet compact, earbuds.

  • Electronic Chargers

Don’t forget to pack any chargers for devices that you bring in your carry-on!

  • Don’t Forget

Everything I’ve mentioned so far is replaceable and can be purchased in most places around the world. So, don’t sweat about forgetting the small stuff.

These are the most important things to remember:

  • Passport and/or Identification
  • Credit Cards and/or Cash
  • Valuables

Never pack expensive items in your checked baggage or you may never see them again. I always carry-on my camera equipment and nice jewelry.

  • Travel Insurance

I always recommend travel insurance for every trip. I prefer World Nomads Travel Insurance because it’s completely affordable and gives me piece of mind. It covers not only my flights and baggage, but also medical emergencies and trip cancellation.

Want to know more about travel insurance?

Check out: Do I need Travel Insurance?

  • Copies of Important Documents

It’s always wise to bring physical copies of your passport and any other travel documents in the case of loss or theft.

  • Medications

Of course, you should always bring any medication you require in your carry-on. Keep in mind that you may be required to show proof of prescription for some medications.

I usually bring a small pill case for general ailments such as headache, nausea and allergies.

  • Liquid Allowances

Don’t forget the 3-1-1 rule when packing your liquids. Liquids must be under 3.4 ounces, fit in 1 quart-sized plastic bag and you are allowed 1 bag per passenger.

liquid carry on

Rest assured, all of the liquids in this packing guide will fit inside a single quart-sized plastic bag.

Helpful Travel Hack:

To avoid paying that hefty price for an onboard cocktail, it’s perfectly acceptable to pack mini liquor bottles in your carry-on for a mile-high DIY cocktail. It still needs to fit in your liquids plastic bag, so make sure you have enough space.

READ NEXT: The Ultimate Travel Gear Packing Guide

Shop Carry-On Essentials

Pin It!

Carry-On-Packing-Guide
Carry On Packing Guide

Carry On Packing Guide

Perfect Carry On Packing Guide

Kiersten Rich on sabyoutubeKiersten Rich on sabtwitterKiersten Rich on sabpinterestKiersten Rich on sabinstagramKiersten Rich on sabfacebook
Kiersten Rich
Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.