I used to stress out so much when it came to packing for a trip. I would constantly pack, then un-pack, then re-pack again. Never knowing what I should put in my checked back and what I should keep in my hand luggage. On my first solo trip to Canada back in 2013 I brought with me an 18kg checked suitcase, a backpack and a ridiculously oversized ‘handbag’. I cannot for the life of me remember what I needed that much luggage for, but I think it’s safe to say I overpacked! Since then, I have definitely toned down the stress and developed a trusty list of carry on essentials, which work wonders for long haul or shorter flights.

The Important Stuff:
                carry on essentials

  1. Passport – This is obviously the big one. For years I was so scared about losing my passport I would carry it with me everyday in my handbag. I have since learned that is not necessary and I use a cute little Travel Wallet to keep it in.
  2. Documents – I print out any boarding passes, VISA documentation, Hotel confirmations and store them in a plastic folder. That way I know everything is in the once place and I don’t need to worry about finding WiFi  to access my e-mails.
  3. Currency/Bank Cards – I am that person that always leaves getting my currency until the very last minute. I have started using the Multi Currency Cash Passport which means I don’t have to carry too much physical cash on me. I also always bring my bank card just incase I have underestimated how much currency I will need. It’s always good to have a backup.
  4. Phone (and Portable Charger) – I have a Samsung S6, which I love, but I find it runs out of batter quite quickly if you are constantly using it, i.e. during long lay-overs or listening to music during a flight, so I finally invested in a portable charger. The Anker PowerCore 20100 is a game changer for me. It holds 5 full chargers for a Samsung S6!

                       carry on essentials

The type of trip I go on will determine what kind of carry on I will use. For shorter trips/flights I will normally only bring a carry on luggage instead of a checked bag. In this instance I use my trusty Tripp 4 Wheel Cabin Suitcase. Once I started using hard-shell luggage I vowed to never go back! I love that it splits into two compartments that you can secure with straps and clips. Minimal creasing involved

If the trip will involve a lot of moving around, i.e multiple destinations or hostel hopping, I use my Osprey Farpoint 40 . It’s one of the most popular travel backpacks right now, and the fact that it is carry on approved is a major bonus! It’s so comfortable to wear and doesn’t absolutely destroy your shoulders like other backpacks I’ve used in the past.

For long haul flights I take advantage of having a checked back and only bring a small backpack as carry on. For this I use the Pacsafe 15L DayPack. This foldaway day pack is so surprisingly comfortable and is the perfect size to fit all my essentials.


Headphones – These are ESSENTIAL to me! For one, I’m not a fan of using the airline issued earphones, hygenie reasons aside they are just uncomfortable. I use the Sony ZX310 Foldable Headphones and they are amazing! Honestly the best hedphones I’ve ever owned and they were only £15!

Tablet – When I plan enough ahead and I remember to download my favourite films and TV shows I will bring my Samsung Galaxy Tablet. The in-flight entertainment is all well and good but twice in the past year I have been on a 9 hour flight with only communal screens in the middle of the cabin where everyone needs to watch the same film. Trying to decide whether to watch the LEGO movie or gouge your eyes out is a choice no one should be faced with.

Books – I have tried and failed to become a Kindle person. I just can’t do it. I get migraines sometimes so looking at a screen for too long, trying to focus on reading the words just doesn’t help. For each trip I usually bring more than one book, but will only pack one in my carry on. Right now I’m reading The Circle by Dave Eggers and The Power by Naomi Alderman


Lip Balm – I have a nasty habit of picking my lips. Disgusting, I know. Combine that with the drying air conditioning on planes and it;’s not pretty. I normally bring a few different lip balms with me: my two favourites are Vaseline Lip Therapy Aloe Vera and  Maybelline Baby Lips – Cherry Me 

Face Wipes – Like I mentioned before, the air conditioning on a flight can be very drying, so I bring a pack of NIVEA Visage Refreshing Facial Cleansing Wipes just to freshen up a bit

Roll On Deodorant – This one kind of goes without saying. If you are on a plane for a long time, you are going to start to smell. A few month ago I found one called Sure Women Maximum Protection Stress Control that works better and lasts longer than any I’ve tried before. I swear by it now!

Other Bits and Bobs

Scarf – Planes can get cold, so I always bring a scarf with me, the bigger the better! This way you can also use it a cover, eye mask, neck pillow. The possibilities are endless with a good scarf!

Comfy Clothes – I say no to dresses, skirts, button down shirts. Anything that has the slightest potential to be uncomfy. Loose fitting trousers, a baggy t-shirt and a big jumper is my staple plane attire. I also always wear comfy shoes like Nike trainers.

Painkillers – You never know if this flight will be the one that wreaks havoc on your ear drums, or if you’ll get hit with a killer headache, or cramps, or anything that would be incredibly annoy to endure for 8+ hours. I seem to always get headaches on flights, most likely due to the pressure. I take a couple of paracetamol before take off now and I’m good to go.

Empty Water Bottle – It took me longer than I care to admit to realise that most airports have drinking fountains. Why was I paying the ridiculous airport prices for a bottle of water at every airport I went to because ‘you can’t bring liquids through’. The obvious answer is to bring and empty water bottle and just fill it up on the other side! Oh, the money you will save!

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Well there you have it, my list of carry on essentials. Have I missed anything out? What are your carry on essentials?

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Deciding what to pack in your carry on is tough. I have collated a list on my carry on essentials to hopefully help you pack just enough and nothing more.

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5 thoughts on “What To Pack: Carry On Essentials”

  1. I agree with all of these suggestions, I use the same portable charger and can also recommend it- it is great 🙂 The only thing I would perhaps add is a packet of tissues, you don’t want to get caught short when you need to go!

  2. I always bring hand wipes with me on planes. After traveling with kids for the last four years and having someone almost always get sick after a flight, I’ve become one of those germophobes and wipe down everything as soon as we sit down. #flyawayfriday

  3. This is basically the exact same as my carry-on packing list. I like to just bring the basics. I still use real books too. I keep thinking about switching to an e-reader, but I focus better with an actual book in hand. #FlyAwayFriday

  4. Yeees! Such a great post about packing! I don’t think you’re missing anything! I love bringing a neck pillow for long flights! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday – see you this weekend! xo

  5. This is so true. I agree with all of this! I always add clothes in the event my luggage goes missing. The beauty products too are key especially on a long haul flight. Hope to see you at Fly Away Friday this week!

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