How to Pack Your Carryon with the Perfect Carryon Packing List

February 15, 2017

Before We Get to the Carryon Packing List, What is the best Carryon Bag?

For the perfect carryon packing list to work at all, you first need to pick out the best carry on bag ever, for you and your personal needs. Today is your lucky day though because I have auditioned almost every bag out there as a potential carry on companion. For me, a shoulder bag with a zipper, that can easily be placed in front of my body, is the best choice (no more sticky fingers Larry stealing my stuff).

However recently, I have also been using a backpack and really enjoy the convenience of this type of bag. The only downside of a backpack are pickpockets which can duh, pick the pockets of your bag. That’s why one of my favorite tips on how to avoid pickpockets is to affix locks to your backpack while you’re traveling and poof, problem solved.

But regardless of the type of bag you use, always make sure that the bag is big enough to hold all your things (so you may have to leave that extra jug of hand sanitizer at home). Yet not so big that you look like a sherpa from Nepal; in fact, you are not a sherpa and your back will start to ache and eventually you’ll feel like you need a wheelchair (No one likes feeling like an old lady on vacation. That and the hunchback look is not en vogue).

I emphasize what bag to choose because I feel like the type of bag you use is just as important as what

to pack in your carry on. This stems from the fact that you will carry this bag with you throughout your entire trip. And it will hold some of the most valuable things you have, like your wallet, passport, cell phone, etc.

So choose wisely when considering a carry on because above all, you want to make sure that you can keep your valuables safe from theft. I learned this lesson the hard way, when I had my wallet stolen out of my bright pink backpack, while touring Barcelona.

I have since learned that carry on bags should be kept in front of you at all times, or a lock should be placed on the bag so that you don’t have to start playing an impromptu street performance career on your vacation (Say no to beggar chic). Your bag should also be a more neutral color so that you avoid unwanted attention from not so nice people (My bight pink backpack basically screamed, “Pillage me, pillage me”).

The Perfect Carryon Packing List and What to Pack in Your Carry On

Some of the items on this list, are kind of like, “Duh Kelly, how obvious can you be? So lame.” But the reason I put the no brainer stuff on here is because this list wouldn’t be very “perfect” if I didn’t put the entire travel packing list in this post . Plus, if I list everything then you can print out a check list to use while you’re packing, so that you don’t forget anything.

And while yes, some of these items are pretty obvious, I hope that there are some surprises here that will make your long haul flight a bit more comfortable and maybe even a little fun.

1. Passport – This one is kind of like, “Umm, how obvious! How else would I get on my flight?” Yeah, I know. But it’s here to remind you to keep your passport in a safe or with you at all times. Also have a photocopy handy in case the unthinkable happens and you lose it (even better, save a scanned copy in your email so that you can print it out if you lose all your belongings).

2. Reading Material/Travel Journal/Pens/Pencils – The worst is when you get on a long haul flight and all the movies suck (thank God for Netflix downloads and make this part of your pre-trip prep routine. Am I right), or you have seen them all and just don’t want to endure, I mean watch them again. To ensure that you don’t literally become bored to tears as you watch the couple next to you give one another smoochie faces, bring a book that you can pull out to occupy your time with. You could also pack a journal and write down your thoughts or any additional travel research that you need to do. I’m that chick researching at the last moment because I am the procrastination queen (pens are also helpful when filling out customs forms or for writing in general).

3. Guide Book – I always buy the most recent edition of the Lonely Planet guidebook for the destination I am visiting. And I always find that your flight is a great time to research your trip, create a list of what you want to see and do, and basically just get insanely excited for all the cool places that you are about to explore (Note: I typically use bloggers now since they tend to be more accurate but the choice is yours so choose wisely).

4. Water/Drinks – Gotta stay hydrated, especially at 50,000 feet where the air like Sahara level dry. Now, please don’t hate me but I am not that healthy and don’t drink THAT much water. My drink of choice is Diet Coke. No for real, I am a Diet Coke monger. I know it’s bad but I just love it and find water to be as dull as dish water (haha), but the premise is the same. Drink a lot so that you don’t feel like you

have the worst hangover since the first caveman got drunk way back when. That and if you have your own supply, you don’t have to pay extra or wait for flight attendants to make the long, arduous journey down the aisle with that unforgiving cart that squishes feet and makes my ever hungry stomach grumble in delight (This journey feels ten times longer when you are dying of thirst).

***Worried about getting sick? Put a little Neosporin underneath your nostrils and it will kill germs before they fly up your nose and make you sick. Also make sure that you don’t forget your prescription medication!

5. Wallet – Pretty obvious, I know. But you gotta make sure you have enough dollar dollar bills y’all to buy all that water in the airport, or in my case, a CASE of Diet Coke (these lame puns crack me up, like a nut).

6. SNACKS!!! – I LOVE food!! It makes me so happy as it swirls through my tummy and makes me fat. Sadly though, most airplane food does not make me happy since it tastes like tar. That or you end up waiting half the flight for a bag of peanuts that turns out to be $19.95, plus tax. To avoid paying too much or participating in an impromptu episode of the Hunger Games,  bring some protein bars or whatever snack you absolutely adore. For me, my go to is a pack of protein bars because they’re yummy, mildly healthy, and keep me from feeling ravenous since I am always hungry, no matter how much I eat ( I am a huge protein bar connoisseur and Oh Snap/Grenade Carb Killa protein bars are my all time fave. Legit, they taste like candy).

7. Sleeping Pills, Eye Mask, Neck Pillow, and Ear Plugs – Sometimes, I feel like the worst sleeper in the world. And it sucks when you’re on a flight and you have to endure the arduous plane journey while everyone else is drifting off to la la land. Or how about when you get seated next to a crying baby or the snorer heard round the world? Awful stuff for sure. To help you get the rest you need, pack all of these things, they seriously make sleep a lot easier. And for sleeping pills, pack 5 mg Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve Tablets, Strawberry flavor, 10mg, 100 Count or Nature Made High Potency Magnesium 400 Mg, 60-Count. I know everyone is different, but Melatonin is natural and doesn’t leave me feeling

groggy when I wake up. But just a word of caution. If you’re not sure how this vitamin will affect you then get the lowest dose possible because you don’t want to accidentally sleep your way onto a return flight (kidding but if it could happen to anyone, it’d be me).

8. Sweatshirt/Extra Set of Clothes – This is essential!!! Not only can the flight be sub-Arctic level freezing, but those thin ass blankets aren’t washed between flights (gross) and don’t keep you warm anyway (they just delay the onset of hypothermia). Therefore, pack a sweatshirt for the flight, even if you’re going to a tropical paradise. While you’re at it, pack an extra pair of clothes just in case they lose your luggage or you get bumped off your flight and are left with nothing to change into (And if you forget clothes, it’s a good excuse to go shopping at the airport. Yup, I knew going on shopping spree like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman would totally devastate you. Minus the whole hooker thing of course).

9. Cell Phone/iPad/Kindle and Headphones – I like having my own headphones (I feel like they’re better quality and cleaner anyway. I go for the splurge and get the noise cancelling headphones. Some of the best money I’ve ever spent) and my cellphone (or iPad or Kindle or whatever electronic devices you use) so that I can drown out all ambient noise and avoid any kind of human interaction. This way, I can just crank up the tunes and fade away from the insanity exploding all around me. It’s also handy when someone is super chatty and you’re chronically anti-social like me and need a mildly polite way of shutting them up that doesn’t involve your middle finger (The universal sign for don’t talk to me).

10. Cell Phone Charger/Battery Pack/Universal Voltage Converter – I love those portable, cell phone battery blocks because it’s so nice to pull them out and recharge your cellphone when its low. I am so dependent on my cellphone that i almost get anxiety when the battery runs low. LOL. So to keep me at ease, I always carry the portable battery and charge it fully before I ever leave my house. That way I don’t have to troll for a wall outlet in the airport or rely on sometimes faulty airplane outlets.

***As the above title clearly states, I also bring my wall charger as well as a currency converter so that I can charge my phone (or any electronic device really) in any and all outlets both here and abroad.

11. Glasses and Contacts Case and Contact Lens Solution – I always bring my contacts because I hate being mistaken for a librarian in my glasses. But sadly, I have to bring my glasses too,  just in case my eyes get dry and yucky and start protest as I “feel the burn”. Nothing worse than contacts that hurt your eyes. Bleh.

12. Important Travel Documents – I always keep all my important travel documents
on me so that I don’t lose any of them. I also don’t want to dig through  my luggage to try and find my hotel address after a long flight. I know a ton of people store all this stuff on their phone, but some places only accept paper copies. Plus, I just have terrible luck in general and always like to have a paper copy in case my phone spontaneously combusts or something.

13. Toothbrush, Floss, Toothpaste, Face Wash, Brush, Deodorant, and Tampons (or whatever
feminine hygiene products you use)
– I always bring travel size, personal hygiene items so that I don’t feel funky and gross when I step off the plane (especially after a long overnight flight). I mean you can’t take a shower on the plane so these items will help you feel fresh and rejuvenated when you arrive.

14. Locks – I use TSA approved locks just in case the po po needs to hack into my bag but any kind of lock that you can use to attach the zippers on your backpack together will help you protect your belongings from bad boys, bad boys, what ya gonna do… Sorry, I had a moment. Okay, I’ll stop. Back to my locks which are combination locks that are super easy to use and super strong, but whatever works for you is fine. I know if I had a lock with a key, I’d totally lose the key and that would be the end of that “brilliant” plan.

15. International Sim Card – My phone carrier doesn’t provide me with international service (that’s why it;’s so cheap), so I typically replace my sim card (Hold on to your original sim card because you’ll need it when you get back home. If you lose it, you’ll have to buy a new one and register it with your cell phone carrier after your trip. You can easily get a new one at Best Buy) before I travel abroad. For $50, I can get a sim card with 30 days of unlimited talk, text, and data that I can use while I’m away. So say hello to international wifi and goodbye to $800 cell phones bills from data overage fees.

Just do yourself a favor and buy a sim card from a person. I bought mine from a vending machine, because I hate human interaction, and the machine ate my sim card. Therefore, learn from my mistakes and don’t do that!

So there you have it, a mildly perfect carryon packing list. But let’s be real, even if you feel like this list is way less than perfect and maybe even subpar at best, it’s cool because you now have a really good excuse to go on Amazon and buy some “essential travel items” for your trip. And if anyone questions you about it, just blame me and i’ll back you up. So stay classy my friend and travel better with your, hopefully, new favorite packing list.

Doing some carry on packing for your carry on luggage? Then check out this list of carry on bag essentials  and find out which  type of carry on luggage is best for you.
Doing some carry on packing for your carry on luggage? Then check out this list of carry on bag essentials  and find out which  type of carry on luggage is best for you.

*** HELP ME, I’M POOR! Please note this Disclaimer: On my blog, I sometimes use affiliate links. I will always tell you and these links are only for items that I use and approve of. If you click an affiliate link and purchase that product or service, I will be paid a small commission but your cost will still; remain the same or less. I will always disclose this at the bottom of the post. This money goes towards keeping this site online. Note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. If you found this website helpful, please support it!



Nanny by day and travel blogger any other time.

I love writing and traveling and bearing my soul on the page.
I want to inspire others to face their fears and join me on an adventure.


  • Becky Angell 1 year ago

    Awesome thanks Kelly, I think I am pretty good at packing hand luggage although I wish I had a change of clothes in my bag instead of gifts for my family when I got stranded in the snow in Istanbul for 2 days ????????????

    • Kelly Ann Duhigg 1 year ago

      Oh god. That sounds dreadful for sure. I hate when that happens and you are basically stranded with only the clothes on your back. No FUN!

  • Rob Taylor 7 months ago

    I’m so glad you pack a guide book. I do that too and totally have to reference it randomly, and if nothing else, it’s great motivation and build up to visiting a new place.

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