Carry On Essentials

I’m a serial over packer. It’s completely impossible for me to “pack light” or with just a carry on for a trip overseas. How people manage with just one 21″ suitcase for a two-week trip is beyond me. A girl has to have options, right? My luggage usually consists of at least one checked bag and a carry on tote bag with my carry on essentials. Depending on how long of a trip and what time of year, I add a rolling 21″ carry on bag for extra shoes, coats, and items I won’t need on the flight and I stash it in the overhead bin.

Long haul flights are not pleasant, no matter where you sit. My carry on essentials help me endure the pain and boredom, and I always include items I may need in case my luggage doesn’t arrive on the same flight. All of these items fit in my tote bag for the flight.

TIP: Never put anything valuable in your checked bags! Keep all electronics, jewelry, prescription meds, or anything you cannot replace in your carry on.

My Carry On Essentials List

Travel Documents and Money

Passport fits nicely in the outside zippered compartment of my tote bag, and is the most important item to bring (along with money and credit cards!). I take a picture of my passport with my phone and email that to myself in case I lose it. Obviously, my passport is an vital carry on essential for any international flight.

Wallet with a couple credit cards, ATM card, driver’s license and cash in US$ and currency of the country I’m traveling to. I have a small travel wallet which fits just enough, I never bring all of my credit cards with me.

Boarding Pass tucked into my passport in the outside compartment of my tote bag. I keep all of my travel confirmations on an app called TripIt, so I don’t need to travel with tons of paperwork! I also take pictures of my documents with my phone.


Noise Cancelling headphones block out that screaming baby or annoying seatmate with the gift of gab! I use over the ear headphones, those in ear ones hurt my ears and always fall out.

iPad & iPhone including plugs, cords and adapter plugs. As an avid reader, I keep the Kindle app on my iPad and always have several books and magazines downloaded for travel. Games, podcasts and videos also keep me entertained on long flights. My phone has all of my music and favorite playlists ready to go! Check out my Awesome Travel Apps for your next trip.

Battery Pack for long flights to recharge the phone and iPad.

Camera with memory cards, lenses, etc. I don’t always bring mine and usually use my iPhone camera.

Reading and Writing

Journal for keeping track of travels. Plus, I keep a diary of my thoughts, wishes, rants, etc.

Deck of cards because David and I will play a few games of gin, or I may play solitaire the old-fashioned way.

Notepad and Pen for writing my famous lists, filling out dreaded customs forms, keeping score of card games (even though I always win, of course!)

Reading Glasses because I have old eyes and need cheaters to read anything less than an 18 font…don’t judge!


Sunglasses and Sleep mask since there is always at least one inconsiderate person sitting close by who won’t close the window shade or keeps peeking. All you can see is ocean and clouds, for a long, long time…leave the damned thing closed already. Sunglasses are great for covering up my sleep deprived racoon eyes too!

Earplugs are essential, I use them every night because David snores!

Travel Pillow so my neck isn’t sore and I can try to get into a comfortable position to sleep without leaning on the person next to me (unless it’s David). To carry it, I attach it to my tote straps or rolling bag handle.

Pashmina/large scarf to cover myself up when I’m cold. Those airline blankets are disgusting, do they really clean them or just package them up again?

Fuzzy socks to keep my feet warm when I take my shoes off. I’ve never needed compression socks, but probably should start to avoid DVT. I keep my feet elevated and walk around several times during a long flight.

Staying Clean and Healthy

Antibacterial wipes to wipe down arm rests, tray table, etc. I also bring individually wrapped hand sanitizing wipes and personal wipes to stay clean and healthy.

Prescription Medications are always in my carry on, never in my checked luggage. I bring some Advil, Imodium and Tums in my carry on, because you never know! For more on what medications I bring check out my Ultimate Travel First Aid Kit

Snacks and an empty water bottle. I fill the bottle up after going through security, that way I don’t have to bother the flight attendant for water. I also bring granola bars, some fresh or dried fruit, crackers, cookies and always CHOCOLATE!

Extra clothes in case your luggage doesn’t make it! I bring a pair of undies and an extra top, or a whole outfit or two when I bring my rolling bag along.


Moisturizer & Chapstick, hand lotion, nose saline gel, eye drops. Airplanes air is dry so I use all of these throughout a long flight.

Small stick deodorant to feel fresh before landing. Don’t be that person who stinks, use it before you fly!

Tooth brush to freshen up during flight and before landing. I use the little Wisp brushes, so I don’t have to carry toothpaste along. I also carry a tin of mints to freshen my breath during the flight.

Makeup Wipes to wash my face and reapply some makeup before landing.

Makeup is essential. I include travel or sample sized CC cream, concealer, highlighter, blush, powder, lip gloss, eye liner and mascara. When I land, at least I don’t look like I’ve just been on the flight from Hell.

Hair brush and hairspray. I have a small collapsible travel brush about the size of a small compact. I also bring a travel sized can of dry shampoo, it adds body to my flat airplane hair!

Liquids Bag with any liquids like mascara, lip gloss, hairspray, dry shampoo, eyedrops, moisturizers, etc.

Jewelry such as a few pairs of earrings, necklaces, bangles, a watch, etc…always costume jewelry. I keep it all in a small rollup travel pouch.

TIP: use a small contact lens case to hold just the right amount of face moisturizer and foundation or CC cream for the flight. Saves room in your limited liquids bag!

David’s Carry On List

Reading glasses

Antibacterial wipes


Visine & Chapstick


Yes, that’s it! David usually carries a backpack with those items. Since I carry most of the other items, he doesn’t need much…typical man. He likes his “own” bag with wipes, Chapstick, and Visine for the flight even though we sit together and I have all of those items as well LOL. I usually end up stuffing the travel pillows and some food for the flight in his bag since there’s always extra room. And as an added bonus, he has room to carry some of the souvenirs I buy!

Be sure to read The Best Jetsetting Beauty Products for some beauty carry on essentials. What items do you bring in your carry on to survive a long flight? Leave me a comment, question or email me! And as always, keep traveling my friends.



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