Whenever I travel, I always try to pack just a carry-on bag and avoid checking in a larger suitcase. However, sometimes your travels require more than just a carry-on and you need to check in a larger bag. So what should you pack in your carry-on bag to have on the plane with you? No matter how much I pack when I travel, I have few important things that I always pack in my carry-on bag to take with me onto the plane.
Call it what you will: emergency kit, a survival kit, etc. I personally refer to my carry-on bag as my “8 hour flight survival kit” or my “things I need if the airline loses my luggage” (Luckily that hasn’t happened yet. Knock on wood.).
Since size and space are limited, choosing what to pack in your carry-on bag is extremely important. Mind you, I’m referring to the things to pack in a backpack or purse. If you want to learn how I manage to travel with only a carry-on suitcase, I’ll be posting my guide to that soon. For now, here are what I consider the most important things to pack in your carry-on bag.
- Boarding pass
- Copy of flight itinerary
- Copy of accommodation info. Immigration in some countries wants proof of accommodation before letting you enter and having a printed copy of the information serves as proof.
- Directions to your hotel/hostel/apartment/etc. I always carry notes on how to get from the airport/train station/wherever to the place where I’m staying to avoid getting lost.
I always keep any documentation together in a folder so I know exactly where to look for it. I also always carry a pen because it’s just a good idea to have one on hand at all times.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste (because no one wants nasty breath the entire morning after an overnight flight)
- Lip balm/Chapstick
- Lotion for hands
- Facial wipes or washcloth to rinse off before trying to get some sleep
- Extra T-shirt (1-2)
- Long haul: I bring a pair of yoga or gym pants to sleep in because they’re far more comfortable to sleep in than jeans or other pants
- Laptop and/or tablet
- Cellphone/iPod/other MP3 player
- Kindle or another e-book. I used to swear I’d never go electronic for my reading, but with all the traveling I do it’s much easier than lugging around physical copies.
- Movies, music, books, etc. uploaded to your fully-charged devices
- Eye mask
- Long haul: your own pillow and blanket, oral sleep aids
- Wallet (with ID and cash)
- Camera equipment
- Phone and keys
Other Items to Consider
- Water bottle: I recommend bringing a reusable bottle from home. As long as it’s empty, you can bring it through security and fill it up after. It saves money and the environment versus buying a new one at the airport.
- Pen and paper
- Medicine: Anything from simple pain or stomach meds to your very important prescriptions
Of course, each person has their own travel needs and your carry-on bag packing list might look a little different from this one. You may need to pack differently depending on the length of your flight or destination. Some of you may pack more and some of you less. Did I miss anything you consider to be essential when planning what to pack in your carry-on? Let me know in the comments below, what do you consider to be your carry-on packing essentials?