What to Pack in a Carry-On: 9 Must-Haves

Never Go on a Trip Without These Essentials

Deciding what to pack in your carry-on can be tricky, but planning can save you time and stress on busy travel days. If you haven’t done much travel or struggle with packing a bag, this list is for you! We will go over how to pack carry-on luggage to set you up for a smooth, comfortable travel experience. This carry-on packing list will cover nine must-have items that you should include in your bag whether you are going away for the weekend or on a months-long trip!

1. Medication and Prescription Eyeglasses

When you pack carry-on luggage, bring any prescription medication and/or eyeglasses with you. Whether or not you need them on the plane, these items are difficult to replace if your checked baggage is lost. Avoid the headache by keeping these items with you on the plane; this also goes for any medical devices you may bring.

2. Credit Cards, Cash, and Other Valuables

Your bag packing list should include any valuables you are taking with you. Bringing these items with you on the plane prevents you from losing them in case your checked luggage gets lost or stolen. Make sure to pack any credit cards and/or cash, expensive jewelry, electronic devices, gifts, and other irreplaceable items like gifts, antiques, or heirlooms.

3. Passport, Tickets, and Other Important Travel Documents

Make sure to keep any essential travel documents with you in your carry-on in case your luggage gets lost. Your passport should always be with you, and any other documents, like tickets or travel itineraries, should be on your carry-on packing list. Many tickets and information are available online nowadays, but it is never a bad idea to have a paper copy in case of technological difficulties. In addition, always carry a pen and notepad with you.

4. At Least One Change of Clothing

You’ll want to have something comfortable to change into if your flight gets delayed, you’re on a long flight or layover, or your baggage gets lost or delayed. Some useful items to include are:

  • A sweater to keep you warm on a cold flight.
  • Leggings or joggers are great multi-use items to wear on the plane or pack in your carry bag.
  • Socks and underwear.
  • Comfortable walking shoes.
  • A swimsuit if you are traveling to a warm location.
  • Any clothing you may need for an event, business meeting, fancy dinner, etc.
  • A face mask.

Tip: There are many tutorials online that can teach you the best techniques to fold your clothing and pack carry-on luggage strategically to optimize space.

Here’s a great video on How To Pack A Carry-On Suitcase For A Two-Week Trip.

5. Toiletries

You’ll likely want to pack some personal care items in your carry bag to help you freshen up on your travel journey. You can bring liquids that are under 100ml (3.4 fluid ounces) with you in your carry-on. Some items you may want to pack include:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Deodorant.
  • Moisturizer and face wipes.
  • Period products, tissues.
  • Hairbrush, hair ties.
  • Lip balm.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Laundry detergent (if needed).

6. Tech and Entertainment

You’ll want to include devices such as cell phones, laptops/tablets, cameras, etc., on your carry-on packing list; this is so that they don’t get lost, stolen, or damaged in your checked luggage. Having a source of entertainment can also be a lifesaver on long travel days. Don’t forget to pack any charging cords, converters, battery packs, and portable chargers.

Noise-canceling headphones can help you to block out external noises while you listen to your music or show. You may also want to bring a book or magazine to read.

7. Snacks

Traveling is stressful, and nothing is worse than being “hangry.” Plus, airport food is notoriously expensive. Carry-on packing wouldn’t be complete without some easy, low-mess snacks; this is especially important if you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, as it can be tricky to find safe foods in the airport or on the plane. Plan by bringing snacks you know that you can eat.

8. Reusable Water Bottle

When thinking about what to pack in your carry-on, don’t forget the importance of staying hydrated! While you can’t bring liquids over 100ml through security, you can bring an empty reusable water bottle to fill up once you have passed through security. Staying hydrated on your flight will also help with airsickness and jetlag.

If you can find a collapsible or foldable water bottle, this can be helpful as it saves space. As a bonus, carrying a water bottle with you can help you save money on expensive bottled water while out and about!

9. Comfort Items

Traveling can be fun but also stressful at times. When deciding what to pack in your carry-on, don’t forget to include some comfort items like a sleep mask, neck pillow, earplugs, or even a curated playlist – all of which can help you feel more comfortable on your journey. If you are traveling with a small child, they may like to bring a stuffed animal with them for comfort, especially if they are nervous to fly.

Tip: You may also want to invest in a couple of foldable, reusable bags like these. They fold up small and can be used for groceries, shopping, laundry, or as a beach bag.

Packing a Carry-On Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful

Preparing for a trip can be stressful – but carry-on packing doesn’t have to be! This packing list covers everything you may need so that you can focus on enjoying your trip instead of stressing about what to pack. Ensuring that you have the essentials in your carry bag can make all the difference when navigating busy airports and spending several hours on a plane. Happy travels, and don’t forget your water bottle!