Deciding what to use as a carry on and what to pack in it, is probably one of life’s greater challenges (#FirstWorldProblems). However, having travelled a great deal with my family I like to think I have carry on packing down to a science. Here are my carry on essentials, and some bagspiration if you’re still searching for “the one”.
As for my own carry on: last fall I got (thank you mom and dad) a beautiful Roots leather backpack, and since then, it’s been my go to travel bag (check it out HERE)! While the bag is a major investment, the quality and timeless shape will serve you for years and years (school bag to diaper bag?) and it honestly looks good with everything.
A Good Book – A good book will keep boredom at bay if your flight is annoyingly long. I always bring a few so I can read on the plane, during my vacation, and on the way home! Currently Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, and How The Mind Works by Steven Pinker are my carry on reads!
Laptop – In this day and age, bringing laptops on vacation is a no brainer. Whether you use it to get some work done in-between sight seeing, or for movies too and from your destination, it’s a useful extra. If you’re going on a shorter trip, consider excluding this from your packing list, but if not, make sure you put it in a case to stay protected.
Camera – A camera is an obvious companion for any trip and keeping it in your carry on ensures safety and easy access for those moments of inspiration.
Water – While airports don’t let you bring your own water in, be sure to buy a water bottle near your gate, or bring one to fill up! Staying hydrated is so important on long flights which often leave your skin dry and irritated.
Personal Hygiene Stuff & Hair Ties – This stuff is all a no brainer. Hair ties keep your hair up and away from your face, and lip balms, mascara, deoderant, etc. are great for applying post 8 hour flight so you can start your trip with a fresh face and confidence!
Wallet & Passport – These are important for obvious reasons and if you forget one or the other, well my friend, you’ve made a serious boo-boo.
Phone & Headphones – Whether or not I’m actually using my phone on vacation, I like to bring it along to listen to music and to connect to free wifi whenever it’s available!
Journal & Pencil Case – Journaling is another great pastime for a long flight, and is something I’ve begun doing more often this year. Documenting your journey by writing is a great way to stay creative, and is something you can look back on years later!
Thick Socks – Trust me on this one. It gets cold up there in the sky and I do not like having cold feet. A pair of fuzzy socks are the perfect thing to pull on while cruising to your destination, so you can catch some shut eye instead of focusing on how cold your little toes are!
Sunglasses – These babies are mandatory. Not only will they be useful for the rest of your trip, but after an 8 hour night flight, sunnies are my best friend. They hide the gigantic circles under my eyes until I can wash my face, and make me look more chic and put together, and less tired.
Neck Support or Stuffies – Yes I am an adult, and yes I do still travel with my stuffed animals. Honestly, it’s more of a comfort thing than anything else, but it’s always nice to bring a piece of my home with me. They also make for pretty good pillows if necessary.
Something Comfy – I always make sure to bring an extra sweater or big blanket scarf (no matter the temperature of our destination) because, as I said before, it gets chilly up there in the sky!
Gum – It’s good for keeping bad breath at bay and for stopping that annoying ear popping feeling during landing, so make sure to bring a pack (or two) with you.
If you noticed, I didn’t add snacks simply because airports are weird about letting outside food in (better to be safe than sorry) and while things past the security section can be expensive, it’s a great idea to eat something before heading to the airport at all. Whether it’s a light snack or a full meal, you’ll feel ready to take on all the annoying things airports can throw at you!
If you’re still looking for the perfect carry on for all your adventures, here are some great bags that fit the bill!
- Longchamp (these bags are amazing and black is the perfect neutral)
- Bando’s Everything Tote (pink and metallic. Need I say more?)
- Band0’s Getaway Duffle (love the adorable floral print on this one)
- Kate Spade Tote (perfect if you’re travelling for business)
- Madewell Transport Tote (this bag is absolute perfection)
- Madewell Transport Crossbody (perfection with an extendable strap)
There you have it, everything you’ll need to rock that long plane ride and arrive in your destination ready to go!