The PERFECT Carry on Packing List (+FREE Printable PDF)

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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!

Entertainment

Flights or long drives (when you are not in charge of the stereo) are not the same without 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. All WINS in my book!

Kindle Paperwhite

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.

Continue reading The PERFECT Carry on Packing List or PIN this post for later!

Packing Bags

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?

Hair Accessories

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 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!

Beauty

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 face serum, some kind of face moisturizer, and a moisturizing sunscreen whenever I travel. Linked below are some of my favorite items I’ve been using since 2019.

Honest Beauty Face Serum– I apply day and night when I travel

Honest Beauty Face Oil I don’t necessarily always use it on my face; legs, arms and feet love it too.

Neutrogena SPF30 Daily Face Moisturizer– I use sunscreen everyday!

My favorite low key makeup day products

I’m not big on wearing makeup-maybe because I don’t know how to put it on? I’ve never met a foundation I look forward to using, so I usually stick with a minimalistic beauty routine. I recently ordered makeup products from Honest Beauty and am very happy with everything I tried.

Bobby Brown Serum Concealer– I love this product. It glides on soo smooth and feels so lite. One purchase lasts me years.

Honest Beauty Bronzer + Brush. If I could only do one makeup thing – I’d put on bronzer.

Honest Beauty Cream Blush– It’s so simple to use and triples as lip color and eye shadow. I use shade Peony Pink.

Toiletries

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!

Eco-Friendly Solid Shampoo & Conditioner Combo Pack

Charcoal, Kaolin and Oatmeal Exfoliating Body Wash

Eco-Friendly Solid Body Butter Block

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!

Health

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.

Raw Almonds are always a good idea!

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.

Luggage

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!

If you are wondering what I take with me (in addition to all of these travel essentials) on longer trips or overseas flights, this post has it all, Long haul flight essentials for your carry on.

Hi, I'm Sam

I just left the corporate world to travel around the world. Sharing all my bucket list experiences to help spark your wanderlust and inspire your next adventure!

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