This week, we’re going to discuss a very important subject: carry-on bag necessities. Space is limited in carry-ons, so you need to make sure you bring all the necessities. Here are some of our top picks:
Phone charger – I always make certain that I have my electronics and the appropriate charging cords in my carry-on. This typically includes my phone and charging cord, iPad and charging cord, and if I’m bringing my laptop, its charging cord as well. If I’m traveling internationally, I make sure I have any needed power converters with me, too.
Jacket – Honestly, I’m pretty much always cold on flights. I make sure to bring a jacket/sweatshirt/sweater with me on the flight for when I get cold. Plus, if I check a bag with my clothes and it gets lost, I’ll probably want my jacket with me when I reach my destination. I also bring at least one change of clothes in my carry-on in case of such mishaps.
Smaller bag/purse – When I’m traveling, I usually pack my smaller bag away for airport security and the flight so I can make the most of my allowed number and size of bags. It’s the same on road trips – I’ll pack my smaller bag away to make it easier to organize everything for the car. Once I reach my destination, however, I’m going to want my smaller bag to carry around with me day to day.
Makeup – I know it might sound vain, but sometimes I like to freshen up my makeup before I get off a flight, especially if it’s a long one. Plus, if my checked luggage were to get lost, I wouldn’t want my makeup to be lost with it!
Travel journal – Confession: I have a slight obsession with buying cute travel journals… I just can’t resist them. But they come in very handy when I’m heading out on trips! I love writing down what I do, where I go, what I see, etc. A flight or drive is the perfect time to catch up on my writing.
Medication – Be sure to bring any prescription medications in your carry-on with you. If I’m going to be gone for just a few days, I bring only as many pills as I’ll need in that time period. I also bring some other various medications that might come in helpful, e.g. ibuprofen, antacid, etc., as well as any vitamins or supplements I’m taking.
Glasses and contact case – I’m a contact wearer, so it’s important for me to have my contact case and solutions with me in case of any mishaps.Pro-tip: they let you bring standard-size bottles of contact solution through security in your carry-on. I also make sure I have my glasses with me for those times when I don’t want to wear my contacts. Make sure you bring other essential toiletries in your carry-on as well, such as your toothbrush and toothpaste, face wash/makeup remover, mouth rinse, floss, shampoo and conditioner, soap/body wash, deodorant, etc.
Sunglasses – Sunglasses are a necessity for me pretty much anytime I’m going to be outside during the day (so that’s every time I travel). They’re especially essential if I’m traveling somewhere sunny…which is my favorite kind of destination!
Book – I love to read, so bringing books with me on a trip is a must. If it’s a longer trip and I’m planning to have enough reading time for multiple books, I make sure to bring at least one of the books in my carry-on to read during the flight and/or drive, or while waiting in the airport.
Jewelry – While traveling, I pack my jewelry in a little bag like the one pictured above, which is the standard bag they give you when you buy jewelry at J.Crew. This makes it easy for me to keep my jewelry organized during the trip, and I always put my jewelry in my carry-on rather than my checked baggage. I also try to carefully select my jewelry when it comes time to travel; I pack versatile pieces that will match multiple outfits so I don’t need to bring five different necklaces, six pairs of earrings, four watches, seven rings, etc.
iPad – I don’t bring my iPad on every trip, but it can be a great asset, especially if I’m not bringing my laptop. It’s perfect for reading digital-format books, watching movies during a flight, listening to music, and taking care of any needed emails.
Flavored drink mixes (with caffeine) – I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need a little pick-me-up during or after a flight. I love the Crystal Light drink mixes with caffeine, especially the Wild Strawberry and Peach Mango flavors. I also travel with a water bottle, which makes it easy for me to mix up a refreshing drink on the go to put a little more pep in my step. In addition, I like to bring some small snacks with me in case I get hungry on a flight, in the airport, etc. I try to pick snacks that are easy to pack and travel well, such as granola bars, small bags of Goldfish crackers, trail mix, etc. Mints and/or gum are also a standard for my bag.
Not pictured but essential:
Wallet – For me, this includes my ID, credit and debit cards, and cash. If you’re traveling internationally, I recommend going to the bank and getting some local currency before you leave so you’ll have some to use when you arrive. To avoid the hassle of changing money and international withdrawal fees, I often try to get enough cash in the local currency for the entire trip if I’ll be traveling for two weeks or less. Even if I’m traveling internationally, I include some US currency to use at the airport, etc.
Passport and other documents – Your passport is crucial for international travel; I think this is pretty self-explanatory. Make sure you stow it somewhere secure yet accessible during the air travel portion of your trip. I also bring copies of my passport and driver license, as well as print-outs of hotel and flight confirmations, any maps or directions I need, and other such documents.
Tissues – You just never know when you’re going to need a little pack of tissues. This is especially useful if you happen to go into a restroom that is out of toilet paper – that’s a nightmare if you don’t have a back-up! Tissues are also great for allergies, freshening up during a long flight, and more.
Computer – There are multiple reasons why I like having my computer in my carry-on. First, it is easy to get to if I want to use it. I use my computer for various things in-flight: movies, homework (:/), uploading and editing photos, blogging, etc. I also like to have access to my computer when I have a layover and am stuck in an airport for a few hours. Second, I am super paranoid of things being damaged, so I like keeping it with me so I can take extra care that it doesn’t get tossed around and broken.
Camera – Pictured is my new Polaroid camera (which my siblings gave to me for my birthday). I have only used it a little bit, but I am so excited to start taking Polaroids in all the cities I visit! I also bring my DSLR (I have a Canon Rebel t5 and LOVE it!) and have lots of storage space cleared on my phone for pictures. Another fun thing I like to bring is a disposable camera. They are pretty cheap and I love the anticipation of seeing how the pictures turn out after the trip. In addition to the previously mentioned equipment, I bring a few fun tools such as my selfie stick (when you are traveling solo or in a small group, these are a MUST) and my Joby phone tripod.
Headphones – I highly recommend over-ear headphones as opposed to earbuds. Noise-cancelling headphones are ideal. I listen to music almost 24/7, and I find that the sound quality is much better with over-ear headphones, not to mention that it drowns out all the noise from the flight.
Sleeping mask – If you are taking a red-eye or plan on sleeping during your flight, bring a sleeping mask. The airline will often provide one on longer flights. There is nothing worse than being woken up when the person in front of you decides to take a peek out the window! I sleep much better with a mask on; pair it with some headphones with soft music playing and I am out!
Book – I am a huge reader, so I basically always have something to read with me. Depending on the type of trip I am taking, I will bring anywhere from 1-3 books. When I went to Hawaii, I took 3 books because I knew I would spend a lot of time reading on the beach. For other trips, such as my trip to Europe last fall, I just read from my kindle app because I didn’t have the luggage space to cart around books with me.
Passport – Obviously if you are travelling internationally, you will need to keep this close by for easy access. I always bring copies of my passport, driver license, credit cards, and any hotel/flight/ticket confirmations I might need for the trip. I keep everything all in one folder so it is safe and easy to find. Another helpful tip is to print maps or directions to have with you in case you get lost!
Travel journal – I am fairly certain that I have enough travel journals to last a lifetime, but whenever I see one, I can’t resist buying it! I love writing down little things I do, and I keep tickets, receipts, and photos in my travel journal as well. I love reading back on trips and having notes of little things that I have forgotten about.
Lotion and hand sanitizer – My hands always get so dry when I fly, so I keep lotion in my bag. I also keep hand sanitizer with me to keep my hands clean. When traveling (especially air travel) there are a lot of public spaces, which means lots of germs. I am not a huge germaphobe, but I do take some extra precautions when I travel and keep my hands extra clean. Honolulu Sun from Bath & Body Works is my current favorite scent. It just smells like summer, and when they bring it out with the spring collection, I make sure to stock up!
Power bank – I tend to use a lot of phone battery when I am traveling. (I just have this uncontrollable need to Snapchat, photograph, and film every moment!) I always keep a power bank with me on vacation. A lot of flights have a built-in USB power source, but if you happen to be on a flight that doesn’t, this is an absolute must-have!
Phone – I must admit that I have a slight addiction to my phone. As I mentioned above, I use it for a lot of documenting when I travel. But I also use it for other things when I travel, such as maps, restaurant suggestions, etc. If I am traveling solo or with friends, I make sure to keep in touch with my family so they know I am safe and having fun!
Other notable mentions:
Toiletries – There are a few things I always have with me for long flights. I keep wet wipes and makeup with me to freshen up when I arrive at my destination (just the basics, like some tinted moisturizer and mascara). A great tip I read about almost a year ago was to put your moisturizers and liquid makeup in contact cases to make it easier to pack. I also like to have some dry shampoo, a toothbrush, and toothpaste.
Clothes – In addition to my fear of having things broken in my luggage, I also fear my luggage getting lost with all my stuff. I always keep one extra outfit in my bag so I have something to wear if that were to happen. (This is also nice if you fly somewhere overnight because you can change at the airport and be ready for a new day.) I also pack all of my underwear in my carry-on. In the case that all my luggage were to get lost, the number one thing I would want is clean underwear.
Water bottle – I always drink a lot of water leading up to air travel to prevent headaches, dry skin, and the dreaded cankles! I also drink a lot on the flight. Just remember to bring an empty water bottle and fill it up after you get through security.
Gum – Not only does gum keep your breath smelling fresh, but it helps your ears adjust to the change in altitude when taking off and landing. I always make sure to pop a piece of gum in a few minutes before take-off, and it really helps a lot!
Whew! That’s a lot of carry-on necessities. Did we leave out anything that you’ve found to be essential in your carry-on bag?
Written by Caroline Larson and Kaycie Jordan.
*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Caroline Larson and Kaycie Jordan.