I like to think that I am great at packing my carry on. I seem to have everything I need and it has always worked well. I’ve also always been under the 7kg carry on luggage allowance. So I decided that I should write a post on packing the perfect carry on.
There’s actually no hard and fast rules about what constitutes the “perfect” carry on. What seems like a good idea to me may seem strange to you. Some people may also pack a lot less for their carry on. In fact my partner doesn’t even have a carry on bag – he simply has everything he thinks he needs kept in his pockets.
However, I hope to show you what is great for packing in your carry on, based on my own experiences. What you pack for your carry on will largely depend on where you are going, the length of your trip and how long your flight is. Hopefully this serves as a good guide on packing what you may need in your carry on luggage, and what you may not have thought about.
Clockwise from top | Inflateable Travel Pillow: Korjo | Blanket: Gift | Sleep Mask: Peter Alexander Sleepwear | Mints: Eclipse | Compression Socks: Korjo | Health Snack: Harvest Box | Pouch: Colette by Colette Hayman | Meal Replacement Bars: SlimTrim
Compression socks: I personally need these due to my bad circulation in my legs. They help with swelling and reduce the possibility of getting DVT (deep vein thrombosis).
Neck pillow: if you need to save on space, get a blow up pillow that you can keep deflated in your bag until you need it. Otherwise there’s some great bean filled ones that can easily clip onto the back of a backpack.
Small Travel Blanket: not a necessity but can often help in getting to sleep or dealing with the cool temperatures of a plane. A large scarf can also double up as a blanket if you take this on, which then saves room in your luggage by you wearing it on the plane!
Sleep mask: Like the blanket, not a necessity but it definitely does help when you are trying to sleep on long flights. Some airlines provide this (and the blanket) on long haul flights though so you may wish to check this wit the airline before flying.
Ear Plugs: (not pictured) Great for drowning out noise when you want to sleep. Plus they take up only a small space in your bag.
Snacks: a little bit of sustenance goes a long way! It is easy to pack some chips, cookies or muesli bars for travel, but there is something you need to keep in mind when bringing your own snacks: the smell of nuts can make some people go into anaphylactic shock. I would stick to snacks without nuts, such as plain muesli bars.
Water: I get super thirsty normally, and I hate constantly asking the stewardess to top up my cup of after. Keep in mind that many airlines sell bottled water, but it is often an exuberant price! I would buy a small bottle of filtered water to take with you on the plane. Just keep in mind that some airlines/countries don’t allow you to bring any liquids on the plane, including bottled water. It is best to buy this after you go through security.
Chewing Gum or Mints: Some people find it helpful to keep their breath fresh after food. I find chewing gum helps with pressure in the ears when on flights.
Clockwise from Top Left – FitBit Flex (in black) & Charger | Camera Case: Ted’s Cameras | Universal Adapter: Kmart | Earphones: Mac | iPhone charger & wall piece | iPhone 6 | iPhone cover: Forever New | Selfie Stick: Cotton On | iPad Air | iPad Cover: Forever New | Portable Power Bank Charger: Forever New | Camera Connection Kit: JB Hi Fi | Thumb Drive: Australia Post
Phone: always keep your phone with you (or in your carry on luggage) but make sure it is switched to airplane mode.
Laptop/tablet: If you ever want to see this again or want to use it again, never pack this in your checked in luggage!
Earphones: if you are on a flight that offers in flight entertainment, you might be lucky enough to get a set of headphones to wear for the duration of the flight. However, it is always nice to have your own set of headphones just in case, or if you have a preference. I like to have my earphones to listen to music in my iPhone or iPad.
Camera: I would always always always make sure I pack my camera in my carry on. The reason being is because it could get damaged in my checked luggage, my checked luggage could get lost, and I could miss out on a photo opportunity if I had to rummage through my luggage to find my camera.
Chargers: just like you would keep your electronics with you, you should keep your chargers with you as well. I like to keep them together in a small bag. You may wish to keep a small checklist as well so you can ensure no chargers are left behind.
Adapter: I keep these in a small ziplock bag with my chargers because it means they are easy to access. It also means if your checked luggage is lost, you do not have to worry about buying a new charger or adapter. I often keep a spare adapter in my checked in luggage because I have been known to leave my adapters behind.
TIP: check that your adapter actually fits your devices… I have been caught out when I realised that my adapter was not compatible with my charger plug!
Powerbank/Portable Charger: if you have all your chargers this may not be necessary, but I find it is helpful being able to charge your phone or tablet on the go.
Selfie Stick: if you love taking selfies like I do, then this will be a must for you as well! This is great for anyone travelling alone as you will always be able to capture photos of you at a magnificent destination!
Thumb drive or portable storage device: If you are working on a laptop, you may wish to save your work on a small thumb drive or storage device.
Camera Connection Kit: if you have an iPad or iPhone, you may want to transfer photos from your camera to your device, but often this is hard without going through a computer first. This little gadget makes it easy to ra safer photos from memory card to device. It also means you holiday snaps are backed.
Fitbit: I love this gadget for travel. Usually, I use the armband device it to track my daily steps, calorie intake and sleep, but it also has an alarm function which softly vibrates to wake you up. This is great for travel when you share a room in a hostel, or if you want a reminder to take certain medications. I recommend the Fitbit to everyone!
Other Gadgets: Some people do have a gadget that makes travel a lot easier for them. For me, it’s my USB Mini Fan, which is great if you are travelling to a humid destination. It easily plus into a USB socket and just powers away, keeping you cool. Definitely not a necessity but something I know I will be grateful for having in certain destinations!
Documents & Paper
Clockwise from top right | Guide Book: Lonely Planet | Mini Card Wallet: Blue Bird | Pen: Kikki K | Travel Wallet: Forever New
Passport and Visas: obviously you need your passport with you, but I have heard of some people either packing this in their checked in luggage or forgetting it all together. Always keep your passport in your carry on luggage in a spot that is easy to access. Also make sure you check if you need any visas before you leave the country!
Flight Details: Many airlines do web check in now to save you time at the airport. Even if you don’t do the online check in, print out your flight details to make the luggage drop off and check in a smooth process.
Accommodation Details: you may need to provide evidence of where you are staying during your trip, or of the address you will be staying at. Having this printed out before you leave is the best way to avoid any immigration issues when you land. If you are staying in multiple places over a long period of time, print out everything and place it in a small folder or in a travel wallet so you can easily keep track of everything and have all your relevant documents at hand.
Travel guide: you may pack this in place of a book to read, therefore saving on space! Plus it is really helpful with maps, ideas on sightseeing and helpful tips about your destination.
Local currency: you should have enough to get you through one or two days until you find an ATM. There should be enough for a taxi, food for one day and your accommodation (if you have not prepaid).
Travel wallet: this is the best place to store your passport, boarding tickets, print out of accommodation, local currency and credit cards or travel cards. It makes life a lot easier when this is all kept in the same place – you will be less likely to forget anything important
Pen: it’s amazing how often you will need a pen and can’t find one! Plus if you need to fill out any immigration cards you won’t be waiting around until there is a free one available.
Clockwise from top left | Facewipes: Colette by Colette Hayman | Hair ties and pins pack: Models Prefer | Mini Hair Brush: Lady Jayne | Comb: Unknown | Tissues: Sorbent | Paw Paw Cream: Lucas’ | Bronzer: Sephora | Compact Mirror: Gift | Small Pouch: Mimco | Eyeliner: Sephora | Lipstain: The Body Shop | Mascara: BOE
Face wipes/wet wipes: a great way to fresh up without having to take a ‘real’ shower. Also good to remove makeup when on the plane.
Tissues: Not just for when you sneeze! You can also use as a napkin or even toilet paper. A small pack will be enough.
Small brush and/or comb: it’s always helpful being able to freshen up and brush or comb your hair.
Hair ties and bobby pins: if you want to fix up your hair, these items can be life savers!
Lip balm: paw paw is my balm of choice to keep my lips moisterised and unchapped.
Essential makeup: this is just in case you are delayed or want to pretty yourself up when getting off the plane. Whilst everyone has a different version of what “essential makeup” is, you should really only have mascara, face powder/bronzer, eyebrow/eyeliner pencil, and a and cheek stain.
See my post on making a travel makeup kit
Compact Mirror: always good to have on hand to fix up makeup, remove makeup or to check whether there is food stuck in your teeth after a meal!
Face mist: (not pictured) This is great for keeping your skin hydrated during and after long flights. Whether you take it will probably depend on your own individual skin type and needs, so this may not be a necessity. Remember that this is a liquid and will need to go in the clear ziplock bag with other liquids under 100ml.
Clockwise from top right | Eyedrops: Mulrine | Probiotics: Faulding | Vitamin C Chewables: Cenovis | Electrolute Tablets: Hydralyte | Ibuprofen: Nurofen | Toothbrush & Mini Toothpaste: Colgate | Roll-On Deoderant: Dove | Facial Moisturiser: Clean & Clear | Hand Sanitiser: Dettol | Mini Facial Cleanser: The Body Shop | Mini Shower Gel: The Body Shop
Moisturiser: it gets very dry on planes so moisturiser is a must. As a minimum,pack your face moisturiser. You may also wish to pack a small body moisturiser, but remember that there are restrictions on how many liquids and gels you can take in your carry in luggage.
Toothbrush & mini toothpaste: it’s always nice to freshen up after a long flight. Plus if your flight is delayed or your luggage is lost, this will not only save you time but also money as you will often have to find and buy an expensive version of toothpaste.
Roll on deodorant: this will help you freshen up after a long flight. Due to the restrictions with aerosols, it is best to take the roll on variety.
Shower minis: face wash & body wash should definitely be put in your carry on as you never know when you might need these. Place them in your small clear ziplock bag to present when going through immigration.
Hand sanitiser: I’m a bit picky about restrooms and hate when there is no hand wash. This may not be everyone else necessity, but it certainly is a necessity for me! This will also need to go into your clear ziplock bag.
Eye drops: long plane travel can often leave your eyes dry, red and itchy. Eye drops can easily solve this problem!
Prescription medication: do not put in checked luggage as it could get lost and you will be without your essential medication. Make sure you bring along the script or something from your doctor that says it is prescription and that you need it.
Over the counter (OTC) medication & supplements: this does not have to be packed in carry in, so this is up to you. However if you have a headache, stomach ache, diarrhea, or some other ailment, you may have a loooong wait until you can address that issue. Keep all these medications and supplements together (like in a large pretty pouch!) and in their original packaging.
Keep the liquids in your clear ziplock bag and be ready to pull this out when going through security.
Whether or not you take this will largely depend on your destination and the weight luggage allowance that you have for your carry on. This is what I consider my essentials if my luggage got lost, but I do not pack this for every single international flights – only the long haul ones where there is a potential for lost luggage or delays on stopovers.
Spare underwear: pack at least one pair. There is nothing worse then waiting for your luggage for a few days and not having any fresh underwear.
Change of clothes: it’s always a good idea to have a spare change of clothes in case your flight is delayed or your luggage is lost. It is also good to have something to change into if you are going in between different climates, or just to stay fresh.
Flip Flops/thongs: once again they are just in case you have your flight delayed. You can also change into these on the plane if you need to. They don’t take up much room, are comfy and go with many outfits, so I would recommend packing them.
Sunglasses: it’s amazing how many people forget their shades and then have to settle for cheap, ugly and non protective sunglasses. You will most likely want sunglasses before and after the flight – plus you will look super stylish exiting the airport with your sunglasses ready to go! Make sure you keep them in a case so they don’t get scratched or crushed.
Travel umbrella: a small, lightweight umbrella often comes in handy when you are unexpectedly caught in a downpour. It has happened to me multiple times when I am dragging my luggage along the streets. If you don’t have space in your carry on, pack it in an easy to reach part of your checked in luggage.
Travel torch : (not pictured) Great for staying at backpackers, especially if you get in late at night and need to ensure you don’t disturb your roomies by turning on the light.
Luggage Locks: you can never be too safe protecting your belongings!
Adhesive Bandages: they take up minimal room and you never know when a blister or cut could ruin your day.
Feminine products: tampons, pads, panty liners, diva cup… Whatever you use, best to keep it nearby just in case you get an “unexpected visitor”… I keep mine in a pretty small pouch.
Book: if you prefer to read a book and save the battery on your devices, then pack a book to read.
Travel journal: This is not a necessity for all, but it is a great way to document your travels and keep you entertained when travelling.
Carry On Bag: Now that you have all of the essentials, you will need somewhere to put it all! Many airlines have size (as well as weight) restrictions on carry on luggage. It is best to choose a lightweight but sturdy bag as your carry on bag.
Remember: you should always pack your valuables in your carry on. If you can’t live without it, then either pack it in your carry on or don’t bring it on the trip.
Would you agree with my list of what to pack in your carry on? What do you put in your carry your thoughts in the comments!
Bye for now,
All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post
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