20 Carry-On Travel Essentials for Your Next Flight

Whenever I take a trip I always pack these 20 carry-on travel essentials with me. Having your bag packed with these essential items will keep you comfortable on a long flight and help you pack lighter and smarter.

These airplane carry-on essentials can all fit into a small tote, purse, or backpack.  Instead of trying to remember these essentials every time you pack, keep a travel bag or a travel shelf stocked with these items.

Without further ado, here is my list of must have carry-on travel essentials…

1. Identification, Documents, and Cash

Make sure you have an up-to-date passport with extra visa pages if you will be travelling internationally.  If you are travelling domestically, be sure that you have a valid and non-expired piece of identification. It’s always good to carry some cash in your wallet along with any credit cards you may need during your trip.

2. Travel Wallet

Keep your identification, documentation, and cash in a travel wallet. Keep your wallet in a safe place. It can be a good idea to keep one credit card and some money separate from your wallet in case it does get lost or stolen.

3. Smartphone

Most of us who have a smart phone bring it everywhere. It can be especially helpful, even invaluable, when traveling. You can connect to the airport wi-fi and check your emails, access reservations and confirmations, check the weather, find directions, and so much more. Let friends and family know when you’ve arrived, check the time, use your phone as a calculator. Download numerous helpful travel apps to help you with translation and currency conversion. Smartphones can be used to take pictures, to listen to music, and to play games. It’s by far one of the most useful and versatile tools you can have in your carry-on.

4. Headphones

Help pass the time by listening to music or watching movies. Headphones are a must have.

5. Chargers

Before leaving the house insure that your devices are fully charged. Bring back-up chargers or plug-ins in case your electronics start running low.

6. Small Toiletry Bag and Ziploc Bag

Keep a small toiletry bag with the essentials in your carry-on keep to yourself fresh while traveling. When putting liquids thought security at the airport they will have to be in a Ziploc bag so make sure you have one with you. As well, keep in mind that your bottles must be 100 ml or less.

7. Toothbrush, Toothpaste, and Gum

There’s nothing quite as unpleasant as that fuzzy feeling you get on your teeth when you have skipped a brushing. Or having to sit beside someone who is talking to you and has bad breath.

When you’re on a long flight, make sure you have the carry-on travel essentials you need to be able to keep your mouth fresh and clean. Bring a travel sized toothbrush and toothpaste so you can brush your teeth between flights or on the plane after a meal.

It’s always good to have a pack of gum as well for in-between brushes and to chew on when the plane is taking off.

8. Chap-Stick and Lotion

Traveling can dry up your skin so make sure you bring chap stick and a travel size bottle of moisturizer.

9. Eye Drops

Travelling can also dry out your eyes, especially if you are wearing contacts. Dry eyes can also make you feel more tired and uncomfortable.

10. Aspirin

There’s nothing worse than having a horrible headache and nothing and no medicine. Always keep a small bottle of aspirin (or whichever brand you prefer for headaches). Include any medicine you might need, these are carry-on travel essentials.

11. Tissues

No one likes to listen to someone suck up their snot. Don’t be that person. Make sure you have a pack of tissues in your carry-on.

12. Snacks

Sometimes a pathetic bag of airport peanuts just won’t cut it. Bring some of your favorite snacks with you. Just make sure, when travelling internationally, that you remember to declare any food items you have.

13. Pen and Paper

A pen and small pad of paper are a very practical carry-on travel essentials and almost always come in handy. If you are traveling internationally you will probably need to fill out a declaration page before landing. They can also be useful when you need to take notes or to write something down that you don’t want to forget.

14. Water Bottle

Not being properly hydrated can cause worse jet leg and headaches. While it’s tempting to just guzzle coffee during a long trip, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. By bringing a water bottle you can fill it up for free at the fountains instead of paying crazy airport prices for bottled water.

15. Extra Pair of Socks

Keep your feet warm by bringing an extra pair of socks to wear on the plane. Especially if you are not wearing socks to the airport (flats or heals).

16. Earplugs

If you need silence to sleep then earplugs are a must have. Especially if you have an overnight flight, you will probably be want to sleep thought some of it. Earplugs also help if you are sitting close to a screaming baby throughout a flight.

17. Eye Mask

Now that you’ve block out the noise, block out the light with an eye mask. This will help you sleep better and be better rested once you arrive to your destination.

18. Scarf

A scarf is a great and versatile tool to have in your bag. It can be used to keep you warm on a plane and in the airport (as a scarf or a blanket). It can also be used as a pillow if you have a window seat or a shoulder to rest your head on.

19. Sanitizing/Disinfecting Wipes

It’s not always easy to wash your hands regularly when travelling. You are going to be touching a lot of objects that thousands of other travelers have touched and that might not be properly disinfected. The last thing you want when your traveling is to get sick! Sanitizing wipes are great for wiping down surfaces before you touch them and for cleaning your hands. For more information on staying healthy while traveling check out Tips to Avoid Getting Sick While Travelling

20. A Great Book

Finally, a long flight can give you the time catch up on your reading. Bring a book (that’s preferably not too heave or bulky) that you can read while waiting in the airport or while up in the air.

20 Carry-on Travel Essentials for Your Next Flight

While your stuck in a plane try to use your time productively. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with watching a movie or listening to music. However, if you’ve been looking for time to read, write, or study a new language, a long flight can be the perfect opportunity.

Thinking of travelling with only a carry on? How to travel the world with only a carry on will help you downsize and travel with no checked-in luggage.

What are your carry-on travel essentials?

Happy travels,

Alannah McEwan


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