Welcome to my guide to packing like a professional traveler. It’s the Ultimate Carry On Packing List which will teach you how to pack a TSA approved sized bag which will get you to where you are going with everything you’ll need. With more and more airlines charging you to stow a bag in the hold, it has never been more important to learn how to pack the perfect carry on bag – and in doing so it not only saves you a little extra cash, but it also helps get you on your way at your destination as you step off the plane as you don’t need stand at the carousel to collect your bag. Winning! Scroll down for the perfect carry on packing list and we’ll have you packing like a pro in no time!
Disclaimer: This very helpful post contains affiliate links, which means that should you click any of the links and make a purchase I may get a small commission at absolutely no cost to you. If you are thinking about buying some in flight essentials – which if you are here I presume you are – please consider using the links below. And you can read the legal stuff about it all in my Disclosure.
The Ultimate Carry on Packing List & In-Flight Essentials
In Flight Essential | Carry On Packing List | What to pack in your carry on
I’m not going to lie to you – I am super sneaky when it comes to how much I physically take on the plane and I exploit the whole ‘one main bag and a handbag’ rule to the absolute maximum!
**My top tip – keep your Longchamp folded and in the wheelie case when you’re checking in. Thus complying with the 1+1 bag rule. Once you are through security, unfold the Longchamp and re-arrage your bag. Take out the stuff you’re going to need on the actual flight – think laptop, headphones, kindle, compression socks, powerbank etc – and place them into the Longchamp. This means when you get on the plane, the wheelie case can go straight up top, and you’ve got everything you need at your feet. As you get to the gate, you can also pop your ‘handbag’ into the longchamp/or the case – whichever is easier – and it means you still comply with 1+1 rule. Genius!**
ROCKLAND WHEELIE CASE
Yep, I know – everyone seems to have one of these – and being someone who doesn’t like to follow the crowd – I waited a very long time to get my own. But I LOVE it, and wish I had got one sooner. Its versatile, stylish, strong and packs down to nothing. It really is the perfect bag for any traveler!
PADDED LEATHER HANDBAG/DSLR BAG
I always like to have my Lumix FZ70 attached to my person at all times, but carrying it around my neck isn’t always practical. I love this bag because it doesn’t look like a camera bag, but has a layer of padding to protect my camera and is big enough (but not too big!) to also carry my phone, passport and purse.
Pretty self-explanatory right?!
I adore my MacBook Air and I can’t/don’t/won’t leave home without it. Even before I needed it for work, I always traveled with it. We use it as a TV while we are traveling – and carry an external hard drive full of movies/tv shows for those times were we just need a little downtime. It’s also great for long haul flights on budget airlines that don’t offer in-flight entertainment (which is becoming more and more the norm!)
KINDLE – or a Good Book
I’m always torn between the Kindle and a real book. I mean, from an environmental perspective, less paper is better and the Kindle is a great space saver. But you know, sometimes, I just like how a book feels. It’s also something you can swap with other travelers along the way. This one is an entirely personal preference.
NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
When space is at a premium, in-ear bud style headphones are a must! But if you do prefer over ear headphones – I recommend the Sennheiser PXC 550 – read my full review here.
If you’re flying on one of the premium airlines, in seat power is usually a given – however, budget airline are well, budget. Having your own little power bank means you’ll never run out of power (so you can keep playing candy crush for hours – or is that just something I do?!)
LUMIX FZ70 – with Spare Memory Card(s)
I reckon I’ve mentioned this a few times, but I LOVE this camera – click to find out why it’s the Best Bridge Camera for Travel
TECH TACO CABLE KEEPERS
Keeping your wires and cables organized has never been so easy!
Travel Document Wallet
Despite all the apps that are out there to keep your itineraries & tickets on your phone – I always travel with a paper copy too. Phones can break/get lost – having a back up copy for emergencies is a no-brainer for me. I also carry copies of our passports and insurance docs. Just to be on the safe side.
‘Cause it’s cute. And the RFID blocking lining is pretty cool.
FOLDABLE WATER BOTTLE
These are such an awesome accessory to have. Water is always expensive in airports – and sometimes not free on the plane(!) – this little beauty lets you through security with an empty bottle that can then be filled up at the water fountains which are airside. An empty water bottle does the same job – but the genius of this is the ability to fold it and save even more space in your bag. Perfect! Check out the best water bottles for travel and find your perfect drinking buddy!
Never be caught short without a pen when traveling – filling in arrival and departure forms, customs declarations, you don’t have to be the person scrabbling around the desk or waiting your turn for the one pen that is tethered to the desk! Any pen with a lid or that is retractable (because you don’t want pen all over your stuff) will do.
The Comfort & Wellness
This section is all about the little things that we can do to minimize the effects of flying on our bodies. Airplane air is very dry, staying hydrated is key, but these little things can make a world of difference. From mosturisers, to lip balms and refresher wipes – these things cost a small amount each – you’d be silly not to have them with you on every flight. And the best bit – the cosmetic items all fit in the airline regulation translucent bag listed below!
Look after your legs – especially on long haul flights.
TOOTHBRUSH + TOOTHBRUSH HEAD COVER
RELATED: In need of a little travel inspo? Check out the 100+ Best Travel Quotes of all time to get you feeling all wanderlust-y!
TRLT NECK PILLOW
If you haven’t heard of the TRLT Travel Pillow, you are seriously missing out. I always struggle with traditional neck pillows as they don’t provide enough support for my giraffe like neck. Soft and Strong it is scientifically proven to provide incredible neck support and possibly be the best thing to ever happen to naps! Better still, if folds down to nothing and will take up way less space in your bag than the traditional neck wrap.
TRAVEL SIZE MOISTURIZERs
The. Best. Hairbrush. Ever. I bought one of these almost 3 years ago now (mine’s leopard print but there you go!) and it goes everywhere with me. Compact and in its own protective case, it glides through my long hair with ease – and get rid of knots without ripping the hair from my head. I don’t know how I ever lived without one before.
Taking a full bottle of perfume on a trip is often unnecessary – and the glass bottles that most fragrances come in add way too much weight to be justifyable. The perfect option is to grab an atomizer and decant a small amount of perfume into it. This way you have a spritz of your favorite scent on hand whenever you need it. And this is not just limited to travel either – throw this in your work bag for day to day use.
MINIMAL MAKE UP – Mascara, Eyeliner,Foundation/Concealer & Bronzer
TSA Approved Clear Travel Toiletry Bag
I mentioned all the cosmetics listed above fit into this, right?!
HIDDEN POCKET INFINITY SCARF
I’m a big scarf fan in real life, so having one on the plane is a given for me. This infinity scarf is fleecy and great to snuggle up to. And the hidden pocket is great for keeping valuable on your person.
Layers are great on flights – and wearing it on the plane means it’s one less bulky item to pack!
I have 3 rules for my sunglasses – Oversized with Dark Lenses and Polarized. I’ve always thought people wearing this huge style sunglasses looks so glamorous – and I like to think I do too when I wear them!
Compression Packing Cubes
A bit of a tough one – I can’t really tell you what to pack when I don’t know where you’re headed, how long you are going for, or what you plan on doing when you get there! (However, these travel pants should be on every packing list!)
But, regardless of what you pack- compression packing cubes are a great way to compress your clothes to get the most into your bag. (And we LOVE packing cubes – so much so we wrote a whole post about the best one’s to choose!)
And that’s a wrap folks! I hope this post has helped you to Pack The Perfect Carry On Bag – and that we’ll have you packing like a pro in no time! And if you liked this, please pin, tweet and share – I’d really appreciate it.
Click the P on the sidebar for full size images :-)
RELATED: If you liked this packing list, but need a little more info for longer trips or road trips check outL
- The Ultimate Travel Packing List – Everything you need for every trip!
- The Ultimate Road Trip Packing List – Keeping you – and your car – happy, healthy and on the road!
Hi There! Thanks for reading our guide to How To Pack The Perfect Carry On For Every Trip. I just wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something after clicking a link, I may get a small commission – which is at absolutely no cost to you. If you enjoyed this article and are going to be searching for some of the things I mention anyway, I would love it if you could click through from the links above & thank you in advance! Read my full Disclosure here.
Friday 9th of April 2021
That's a lot of stuff for carry on.
Monday 12th of April 2021
That's true - I have always tried to maximize my carry-on wherever possible, and found it was the safest way to transport cameras/laptops etc. It will be interesting to see if the airlines change the rules about weight allowances and size dimensions in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Tuesday 2nd of June 2020
This is taking me more time to find the list I need to print than to probably have already packed.
Tuesday 2nd of June 2020
Hi Donna If you have signed up to the newsletter AND confirmed your subscription, the email containing the downloads is sent within seconds. Please check your spam folder if you have subscribed and confirmed.
Friday 30th of March 2018
I didn't see a link for the cute little leather cord holders. Where did you get those?
Friday 30th of March 2018
Hi Mara The link is in the name of the products and in the images, but here it is again for your convenience: http://amzn.to/2F3XmCr :-)
Thursday 1st of March 2018
Great point about the Longchamp roll-up tote! Guess I need to finally get one myself then.
Thursday 1st of March 2018
You won't regret it Jessica - It's still one of my favorite bags!
Friday 23rd of June 2017
This was such a great post!! Probably one of the most in-depth packing lists i’ve found!! ? Definitely going to have to come back to this when I am going traveling again!