Packing a carry-on is so important for me because it helps make the journey comfortable and productive. Otherwise, I’m starting the trip off on a bad note and that’s never good. This is the packing list I use on all my trips to make sure I have everything I need. It also ensures I don’t overpack, because lugging too much stuff around can cause such a headache!
Oh, and it’s probably worth noting that there are no kids items on this list — that’s because I like to pack our luggage separately to stay better organized. Plus, I get in a better routine for when I’m traveling solo.
First things first: dress for comfort and versatility. It’s such a bummer to get up in the air and realize you forgot to bring something warm. The closer you can get your in-flight experience to seem like a bedtime experience, the better, so try to include some relaxing items on your packing list!
Sweater or wrap: A good sweater can be such a game changer on a flight. You can use it as a sweater or as a blanket while you’re in the air, which makes such a huge difference, especially if you’re trying to sleep. I just got a new one and it’s been so amazing — I wear it everywhere! You can find it on Amazon here: Dokotoo Womens Ladies Long Chunky Sweater.
Hat: Like a good mascara, a hat can be a life-saver when you’re coming off a long flight. I like to keep a baseball cap in my bag and pop it on when I want to go incognito for a bit. I have a few, but I always end up bringing my Star Wars Rebel Flex Cap Baseball Hat.
Compression socks: Compression socks are important to have on long-haul flights to keep your blood flowing and prevent blood clots (or just swollen ankles). Grab a pair and keep them handy if you’re traveling far. You can get a pair on Amazon here: Women’s Compression Socks.
Travel pillow: Travel pillows are interesting to me, because they just are not comfortable, in my opinion. Instead, I opt for something else that is useful and can also serve as a pillow when I need one. I really like the down jackets from Uniqlo that come with their own pouch. Find it here: Uniqlo Down Jacket.
Carry everything easily
Investing in the right luggage is one of the most important things a traveler can do and it’s the first step in a solid packing list. When you’re rushing to a connection two terminals over, you’ll be so happy you did.
A durable carryon suitcase: My favorite is one of Tumi’s hard-sided luggage options. They no longer carry the model I have, but all of the new models are fantastic. Find a similar version here.
A more affordable, yet still very reliable (and trendy) option is one from Away’s line. They make carryon luggage that includes a garment bag and a charging port so you can stay connected on the go. Plus, they come in a wide range of colors. Purchase one here.
For more of my thoughts on luggage, you can check out all of my favorite suitcases here.
Large purse / backpack: Carryalls and backpacks are great because they’ll fit under the seat in front of you, giving you access to everything you need in the air. Lo & Sons makes a great bag that fits everything and hooks onto your luggage handle, meaning you won’t have to carry it through the airport. Purchase one here.
Another popular option is the Large Le Pliage Tote from Longchamp. You can find them online at Nordstrom here.
I try to go make-up-free on flights and then do a few touch-ups when I land. Airplanes are terrible for your skin so the less make-up you pile on, the better. I prefer to carry a few staples and only use them at my destination, especially if I’m headed straight to dinner.
Mascara: Grab something travel-sized and keep it somewhere easy-to-access. If anything can make you look like you didn’t just get off a 10-hour flight… I’m kidding, nothing can do that, but mascara can help! Get one here: Clinique High Impact Mascara Mini-size.
Chapstick, lipstick, and gloss: I’m always losing these, but I also always need one! I try to carry at least one Chapstick and one lipgloss. My newest favorite lipgloss is the Dior’s Lip Maximizer — I wear it all the time! Find it here: Christian Dior Dior Addict Lip Maximizer.
Concealer: If I’m being honest, my skin is terrible and I go to great lengths to keep it clean and clear. But I still get plenty of blemishes and always carry a concealer to cover them up. Find one of my favorites here.
Eye mask: Keep an eye mask on hand in case you’re ready for a nap while it’s light out. Or, if the lights inside an airplane bother you. Get one that is made of silk so it’s also good for your skin! You can find one on Amazon here: ALASKA BEAR® Natural silk sleep mask.
Stay hydrated and nourished
Hydration is so so so important while you’re traveling — and that really shows in my packing list. It’s bad for your skin and it’ll wear you out so make sure to bring everything you need to combat the dehydrating factors of an airplane.
Sheet mask: There is nothing I love more than a good sheet mask on a long flight. I’m always reading about how crazy it is to wear a sheet mask on a plane because… “public”, but I think that’s so silly. Plenty of people do it. It’s not weird. Just buy one and thank me later. My favorite is the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask, which you can get here.
Hydrating mist: Hydrating mist is great to have on hand because it’ll give you a nice refresh when you’re feeling gross. Plus, it keeps your skin hydrated! My favorite is from Kate Somerville. I also love the facial mist from evian. You can find it here: evian Natural Mineral Water Facial Spray Duo, 1.7 oz. Travel Size (2 pack).
Water bottle: Water is so expensive at airports, plus it’s better for the environment to skip the plastic bottles when you can. I prefer bottles that I can hook onto the outside of a backpack or purse so I can access it whenever I’m thirsty. You can find my favorite Klean Kanteen here: Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel.
Eye drops: If you sleep on the plane, at all, eye drops are a great refresher when you wake up. They’re great even if you don’t sleep on the plane! Find some on Amazon here: Visine Tears Dry Eye Relief.
Granola bars: Even though I hate anything that comes in bar form, I always have one hidden somewhere in the bottom of my purse for emergencies. These KIND bars are my favorite: KIND Bars, Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt.
For the travel toiletries on my packing list, I recommend investing in travel sizes. The costs are minimal and it will save you a ton of space. Plus, you can keep them in a separate travel pouch so you’re always ready to go.
Deodorant: I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to step off an airplane smelling good. And to save space, I travel with deodorant wipes, just in case I need one. Usually I skip it, but it’s also been invaluable other times. You can get them on Amazon here: Deodorant Wipes Lavender EO.
Disposable toothbrush and flossers: These are great for the same reason as the deodorant wipes: you can use them if you need them and save them if you don’t. Find them on Amazon here: Colgate Wisp Max Fresh Portable Mini-Brush.
Face wash: I always wash my face during or after a long-haul flight. Plus, if my checked baggage gets delayed, I’ll always have face wash. I swear by Kate Somerville’s ExfoliKate Cleanser, which also comes in travel sizes.
Extra pair of undies: Because flights are long and you might just need them.
Travel essentials and electronics
These are all your essentials for any packing list that you’ll need just to get on the flight. Double check you’ve got them for every trip you take! I also always have a book on hand. Travel time is some of the best time for me to read because there are so few distractions so that’s really valuable to me.
- Books / notepad
- iPad / laptop
- Chargers, batteries, memory sticks
- Passport (for international trips)
- Visa (if required)
- Drivers license
- Travel insurance (for international trips)
- Printed itinerary (if you won’t have cell service at your destination)
- Credit cards (get one with no foreign transaction fees)
- Cash — just in case!
Let me know in the comments if there’s anything in your packing list that you didn’t see here! And happy travels!