This post contains affiliate links to products that I love and trust. This means I may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase through any of the provided links.
April of 2020 (a.k.a the Covid-19 era) was the first time I forced myself to unpack my carry-on suitcase. Trip after trip, it usually sits contently in a corner full of my carry-on travel essentials eagerly awaiting our next departure date.
As a self-proclaimed carry-on lover, I always try my best to pack lite and take items I know I will use. After years of traveling, I’ve narrowed down my carry-on packing list and included all my must-have travel essentials in this easy-to-shop post. No matter the destination or duration of the trip, I never leave home without all of these carry-on must-haves!
Long flights (or any flights) are sooo much better with these. I used to only use the apple headphones that came with my iPhone until I tried a pair of Bose. They really do a great job with noise cancellation, are very comfortable to wear and so easy to use when paired with Bluetooth- they also come in rose gold.
I used to lug my mom’s old bulky and heavy kindle around until the battery refused to hold a charge. During COVID quarantine, I purchased the Kindle paperwhite E-reader, and now I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner! It is so compact (about as big as my iPhone), has kick-ass battery life, and a lot of useful reading tools such as chapter pages left, read time, and word-wise.
Another one of my must-have carry-on items is a portable battery charger. These always save my life. If you are not dealing with cameras, lab tops, and phones, you might not need 20,000 mAh. This one is a little bit heavier because of its power but does it all. I used to travel with 8,000 mAh, but now I’d rather be prepared!
After weeks of deliberation, I purchased this Sony mirrorless camera with no buyer’s remorse. First off, it is mirrorless, so it is lite weight, and the camera’s body is compact enough to conceal in a small day bag. I am becoming more and more hooked on photography, so the iPhone only method had to go. It also has a VERY convenient 180-degree touch screen that makes selfies and vlogging a breeze.
This extendable trip-pod is THE BEST! I have yet to use it as a proper selfie stick, but it works so well as a tripod for my iPhone. The best part about this particular one is its swivel head. It allows you to take portrait or landscape view photos with the touch of a Bluetooth button without repositioning the camera. It is compatible with GoPro too.
Compression cubes and packing cubes are two things I started hearing a lot about a few years ago but never thought they would be useful. My mom let me borrow some Eagle Creek compression cubes when trying to (again) cram too much into a carry on before my trip to India last year. I realized then they are the best way to keep similar items together and as tight as possible. The Amazon basic packing cubes are not compression cubes but are so useful when organizing a suitcase. During my last road trip, I used them to easily pack what I needed for the night to avoid lugging my suitcase in and out of the car.
Another must-have item to add to your carry on packing list has got to be some good shoe bags. I’m just going to say it; I don’t get people who don’t use shoe bags. The thought of mixing clean, fresh clothes in with dirty, smelly shoes is a packing woe I always avoid. These shoe packing bags linked above are waterproof so double as a dry bag for wet clothes when in a bind.
These Aloha bags are soo cute, easy to get into, created in fun prints, and vibrant colors, and are water-resistant. My collection is growing! I recently replaced all my old toiletry and makeup bags with these. They are great for keeping loose objects in one place and pack down nicely. Did I mention I love saving valuable packing space?
Whether it be a hat, hairband, or scarf, I never leave home without some kind of head covering. Why? For just one simple reason, I wash my hair much less while traveling -no shame in that game. I have long hair, and it is just something I prefer not to waste my time doing if I can help it. Hats, scarves, and headbands are the easiest way to conceal my unwashed hair, all the while adding some pizzazz in my travel photos!
Unless I’m heading to a wedding or a lavish party, I usually let my hair go au natural to avoid wasting valuable carry on space with bulky hair tools. With this compact curler, it is easy to add some movement to my auburn locks and still save space.
Make sure to add this one to your carry-on packing list. Nothing fancy about it, I just love this Comb and never leave home without it!
My favorite everyday skincare products
I may swap between brands to try new products when I run out but I always bring face wash, a moisturizer and sunscreen on every trip. If it’s a cold-weather trip I bring a hydrating cream as well. These are the current products in my travel bag.
My favorite low key makeup day products
I stick with a minimalistic beauty routine usually bronzer, brow pencil, and some cream blush. I recently ordered makeup products from Honest Beauty and am very happy with everything I tried.
Honest Beauty Tinted SPF moisturizer– I never wear a lot of makeup so this is a great 1st step for those low maintenance days.
Honest Beauty Bronzer- The one makeup step I don’t skip.
Thrive Mascara– This is the best mascara I have ever used for length and it comes off with water.
I never used to travel with shampoo, conditioner, soaps, or lotions, thinking I was saving space, avoiding spills, and could easily get what I wanted where I was going. Turns out I usually regretted not bringing my own toiletries. I have now been traveling with Ethique’s “Conscious & Concentrated” solid beauty bars for a few years. Their line of sustainable beauty products ranges from lotions and deodorants to shampoos and conditioners formulated for many different hair types. You won’t have to worry about toiletries leaking or polluting the earth with more plastic when choosing Ethique!
Have you used this Venus Mini razor? I love the compact size and convenient case for traveling.
Another carry-on must, an Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush. I always brush with an electric toothbrush even when I travel because my dentist told me manual brushing isn’t enough. I’ve never had a cavity so I guess I’m doing something right!
Stay hydrated, the #1 travel must-do! I LOVE collapsible water bottles because of the space they save. This one was designed by a fellow traveler and digital nomad with a leak-proof design.
Don’t forget a pair of socks in your carry- on luggage (even if it is just for walking through security). On shorter trips, I’m usually wearing sandals and love a warm pair of socks to keep me comfortable. For longer flights, compression socks are best to improve blood flow!
Wet Ones Antibacterial Wipes -Travel Pack (with the wet lock seal) are gold! They are sold out on Amazon right now, and may still be challenging to purchase elsewhere. Even before the Covid-19 virus exposed its dirty little head, I was buying these in bulk and wiping down airplane seats, armrests, and even my car seat after a visit to the gym. A resealable pack is always with me!
Airborne tablets are another must-have travel item I never leave home without. These immune support tablets have saved me from going from run down to miserable on numerous occasions. The secret is drinking them just as you start to feel sick if not right before.
I started traveling with these Collagen Peptides Packs when I wasn’t able to eat as healthy as I wanted to while traveling for work. Initially, I just wanted some protein without the taste of protein throughout the day. They dissolve easily in water, come in a few flavors, have 8-10g of protein per serving, and support healthy joints, bones, hair, skin and nails. The blue-colored unflavored version is my favorite!
If you asked me snacks are a must on any carry on packing list! You can find me munching on almonds, raisins, ginger snap cookies, and some of my favorite snack bars on every trip I take.
Clif Bars – I love the way these taste, but I know that is because of added sugar, so I eat these sparingly
RX Nut Butter- I love how clean and natural their products are. these are a great tasting snack on fruit or crackers.
Sometimes I choose to drink my veggies and add the Amazing Grass superfood tablets to my daily water. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous to try them at first, but they really are tasteless and provide a full serving of greens in one dissolvable tablet.
Here is how I carry everything on board. Along with my Samsonite Spinner carry-on luggage below are my go-to “personal bags.” I rotate them depending on destination, length of trip, the purpose of the trip, style of trip ect. They all fit under the seat- as long as you don’t overpack!
I think that covers it! There were times when I tried to pack less but I realized especially on long haul flights it’s always better to have some home comforts to make the trip more comfortable. What are your go-tos when packing your carry-on? Let me know in the comments below!
TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CHECKLIST