Oh the carry-on! If you’re like us, you may have a love hate relationship with it that goes a little bit like this: l ve that it can carry all of the things you need for a flight / hate that it seems to get completely disorganized within the first 5 seconds of the trip / l ve that it can avoid baggage fees when using it / hate that it can be so heavy when walking around the airport. In this post we hope to give you a detailed outline of all the things we pack in our carry-on/personal item when flying to make your trip just that much smoother. We bring these essentials on pretty much all of our flights, from 1 hour commuters to 6+ hour transatlantic flights! Trust us, when your flying economy it’s the little things that make a difference.
**IMPORTANT** Before leaving your house always make sure to have your passport, documents, credit cards and medications with you!
This will depend on the trip you are going on. For example, if you’re going somewhere for just the weekend, you may only need your purse and a small suitcase. Here is a list of all the carry-on sized bags I own and use on various trips:
- Carry-on Sized Suitcase – For trips where I don’t check a suitcase.
- Carry-on Sized Backpack – For backpacking trips where I don’t check a suitcase.
- Folding Backpack – As my personal item when I am using a carry-on sized backpack as my main luggage, so convenient because they fold up into the size of a wallet!
- Tote Bag – As my personal item on most trips or when I am using a carry-on sized suitcase as my main luggage.
- Clear Liquids Pouch – To prevent my liquids from leaking inside my bag. When in a pinch I also use less stylish Ziploc bags 😉
Airplane food is really not the best in taste or for your health. Yes I eat it when on long-haul cause where else are you gonna get a meal at 30, 000 feet? But, I do like to supplement it with healthier foods so that my stomach doesn’t go completely out of whack:
- Gum – This helps with my ears when the plane is descending.
- Empty Collapsible Water Bottle– This thing is da bomb! I bring it through security when it’s empty and it folds into a small roll.
- Healthy Snacks (e.g. KIND Bars, Clif Bars, dried fruits, nuts)
- Tea – I’m not really a fan of black tea so I usually bring a few bags of mint tea. I especially love having a cup just as I’m about to take a nap.
- Emergen-C– This little packet of magic helps me get all the vitamins I need which is great when your immune system is down around so many germs.
For Staying Healthy
Airplanes are so nasty. It’s best not to think about how many people sit there farting in their seats for hours on end every single day. You’re thinking about it now aren’t you? My bad. Well these two things should help with that:
- Anti-bacterial wipes – Usually when I get on planes I immediately wipe down everything I’ll be touching with antibacterial wipes. Not sure if this really does anything but it makes me feel better about touching stuff.
- Mini bottle of hand sanitizer
Luckily I am one of those people that can sleep anywhere. That said, I do have a few things that help even the most active minds find a few Zzz’s on plane rides – a must if you want to arrive at your destination looking impossibly fresh faced:
- Eye mask/Earplugs/Inflatable Neck Pillow – I call this my ‘sleeping kit’. It’s the size of a wallet and pretty much ensures that I will be a least somewhat comfortable no matter where I am.
- Silk Sak – This thing is sooo amazing. It’s like your own personal cocoon that takes almost no space in your bag. I also use it once I get to my destination if the sheets at my hotel are questionable.
After you’ve taken your in-flight nap you may be feeling less than fresh. I like to use these items to freshen up about mid-flight and once I am at my destination:
The main thing I want my clothes to do for me when I’m on an airplane is be warm and comfortable. I tend to wear leggings, sneaker and a tank + sweater so that I can look (somewhat) stylish and be able to take layers off if it gets too warm:
- Compression Socks – I wear these to avoid deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which causes blot clots when travelling for long periods of time in cramped conditions.
- Running Shoes/Sneakers – I am always surprised by the amount of walking I do when travelling through airports so having comfortable shoes that easy to take on and off is a must for me.
- Sweater – Airplanes can get so cold! When you’re trying to get cozy for the ride, an extra layer will be your saving grace. My top choice is this awesome cardi that can change into 8+ items of clothing!
- Spare Undies – To keep things, umm, fresh. Down there.
I mean, this section is pretty self-explanatory but my main tip here is to make sure you bring all your chargers so that your precious gadgets don’t die on you:
- E-reader/Tablet – I used to hate these but once I realized that travelling with paper books just isn’t feasible, this thing became my best friend.
- Iphone – I have all of my music on mine but if you don’t then I suggest bringing an MP3 of some sort.
- Noise Cancelling Earphones – A must when there’s a crying baby or creepy guy that won’t stop talking (yea that happened) sitting beside you.
- Portable Power Bank – Just in case there isn’t a USB port on the plane and your E-reader dies.
- Chargers for All Devices
- Camera (if applicable) – Though I don’t use it on the plane, I like to keep it with me at all times for safe keeping.
- Laptop (if applicable) – Again, for safe keeping.
- Travel Adapter – This is for trips where you’ll be going somewhere with different outlets. I find it useful to have an adapter on hand so that I don’t have to look through my entire suitcase once I get to my hotel.
As with most trips, the type and amount of bags you need can vary. Unlike Katherine, I tend to have a little less in terms of number of bags, simply because of the lack of purses. Here is what I usually roll with:
- Carry-on Sized Suitcase – Sometimes a full checked suitcase isn’t necessary
- Carry-on Sized Backpack – Ideal for trips not requiring a suitcase at all
- Foldable Backpack – Very handy as a personal item that can unfold into a large useful bag
Since Katherine and I travel so often together, I try to make use of sharing the food we bring in order to reduce the space it takes up and the bills it takes out of my wallet. You can find in her list the things we like to share but I also bring a few other things to help:
- Granola bars – I’m a big fan of Nature Valley in particular since I feel they sustain me enough as a snack and taste great
- Water bottle – I don’t have a collapsible one as you will see in her list below but a 100% necessary item nonetheless.
- Chocolate – Not gonna to hide it, we can’t go a day without a little chocolate. This also helps me with a little kick of energy when I need.
For Keeping Fresh
No matter how manly you are, you’re bound to feel a little grungy after a long flight / exciting day exploring a new country’s hillside or downtown core. There are a couple of things I like to have on hand or back in my bag to help stay fresh:
- Toothbrush + Paste
- Deodorant – Dove’s Men+ Care is my personal favourite.
- Travel-sized cologne – I have a daily scent I use for back home but this can be a very nice touch for a fancy evening during your trip. Plus most trial sizes are perfect for travelling.
Comfort, breathability and warmth are what you’re looking for in airplane clothes. You might look great in those sweet boot cut, faded jeans but sitting in them at 30,000 feet for 10+ hours is not a good idea. Some of my personal tips:
- Running shoes – Get a comfortable pair that provide ample support. Your feet will be stuck in them for a while.
- Sweater – I usually try to bring my zip-up so that I have the flexibility of unzipping if I feel too hot. A simple linen or cotton tee is perfect for underneath. If you’re a guy that sweats a little bit easier, opt for a sports shirt instead (under-armour etc.) or if you need an extra layer to keep a warm, a light cardigan or long sleeve should do the trick.
- Sweat pants – We don’t have the flexibility of slapping on yoga pants like our girls do but sweat pants or light cotton pants work just as well. My trusty pair of Roots or J.Crew comfort pants are typically my pick for the plane.
When you’re not busy chatting excitedly about your new adventures that await or catching ZZZ’s mid-flight, some good entertainment can go a long way. I find it helps me take my mind of things and ease the mind the body. Some of the things I tend to bring along are:
- Headphones – I have all my music on my phone since it comes built-in with Beats technology. I’m someone who loves to listen to music so these are a must!
- E-reader/book – A good book is another one of my crutches. E-readers help with reducing size and weight in your bag and can double as music/video player as well.
- Portable power bank – Very useful for when a USB slot or plug are nowhere to be found. Just remember to charge it back up again when you get to your room.
A number of things I also bring fall into the same list as Katherine so they may not be mentioned in my section. If you want to make sure you have a comprehensive list, be sure to read over both of our sections for the subtle differences or sign up to our mailing list below to receive a free printable checklist so you don’t miss a thing!
What are your carry-on essentials?
Share them with us in the comments below!
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