Top 11 Carry-On Essentials

What you pack in your carry-on bag for a long haul flight can make a big difference between an enjoyable flight vs. an uncomfortable flight.  Below are my must-haves to survive a long flight along with items you should always pack in your carry-on.

First lets talk about your outfit (from a female perspective).  If I am on a flight 5+ hours, especially an overnight flight, I want to be comfortable.  I’m not saying wear your pajama pants and an oversized sweatshirt, but a nice pair of black leggings with layered tops (think tank top, long sleeved shirt, and fitted or stylish jacket) and a pair of nice sneakers is my go-to outfit.  The sneakers I wear will usually be a pair that I will work out in, and the jacket is something that I will wear around on the trip as well.  I try to have my carry-on bag serve a dual purpose such as a beach bag or a tote to carry my stuff around in during the day while out being a tourist πŸ™‚ .


My Carry-On Bag

  1. Change of clothes – Always pack a change of clothes in your carry-on!  You never know what may happen with your checked luggage!  I have been separated from my luggage for various reasons before and the times I didn’t have a change of clothes were not pleasant. Also if you are on an overnight flight you will want to feel refreshed once you get to your destination.  I’ll usually change in the plane bathroom after breakfast or in the airport. If you are going to a beach destination put a bathing suit and a pair of flip flops in your bag.
  2. Scarf  – A scarf can dress up your outfit a bit and work double duty as an extra layer for when it gets cold on the plane.  I am always cold!
  3. Your favorite electronic devices –  Phone, tablet, e-reader etc.  I love having a Nook so that I can have various books on one device for reading. Don’t forget to download any movies/podcasts/music before you leave home.
  4. Chargers –  What good are those electronic devices if they are dead. Depending on the plane and/or cabin you are sitting in you may have outlets in front of your seat to charge your devices.  If traveling internationally don’t forget your converters!
  5. Noise cancelling head phones –  There is nothing worse than trying to watch a movie on the highest volume and all you hear is the sound of the engines.  Trust me, invest in a set of noise cancelling headphones and it will change your in-flight movie experience forever. My favorite are the Bose QuietComfort.
  6. Snacks – Don’t ever depend on the plane service having enough for you to eat, unless you are flying Business/First Class.   I always pack something like trail mix, protein bars, chips, etc. in my carry-on.  Something that will not go bad and can fill you up a bit.
  7. Water bottle – Just like the food, I don’t want to be dependent on a little glass of water when the flight attendants are able to get to me with their drink cart.  I usually either pack a water bottle that I can fill up at the airport, or purchase a big bottle of water at one of the airport vendors. Brita Hydration stations (or something similar) are becoming more popular throughout airports.
  8. Toiletries –  Especially useful on an overnight flight: toothpaste/toothbrush, deodorant, face wipes, and touch-up makeup.
  9. Neck pillow – Nothing is more uncomfortable than trying to sleep upright for hours.  Grab a neck pillow so you at least have somewhere to rest your head besides your neighbors shoulder!
  10. Plane socks – What are plane socks?  They are the socks that I don’t care about that I take on the plane to put over my bare feet or “nice socks”.  If you have ever traveled business class you usually get a pair of these in your amenity kit. After sitting on the plane for a long period of time your feet tend to swell and having your shoes on is just uncomfortable.  I’ll take off my shoes and put on these “plane socks”.  But please put your shoes on when going to the bathroom!
  11. Valuables – This category covers so much and may be the most important!  Anything that you do not want stolen/lost should be put in your carry-on bag.  Money, travel docs, camera, electronics, jewelry, nice handbags/shoes, medicine.  Always put these items in your carry-on bag, no question!


What are your essential carry-on items?  Comment on this post to share your essential carry-on items with everyone!



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