My Carry-On Essentials for Travel

Packing a carry-on, especially while prepping to depart for a long-term trip, is something like an art form. In an ideal world, our checked bags make it to our destination when we do. But that’s not always the case. As such, the contents of your carry-on bag should have nearly everything you’d need if you found yourself stranded for a few days without your checked bag. In addition, you’ll also need to pack a few ‘flight survival’ necessities. This is the last list of ‘what to pack in your carryon’ you might ever need!

In Flight Necessities:

I’m a firm believer that proper prior planning prevents poor performance and if you prepare your carry on properly – you can seriously increase your chances of having a good flight. There are two types of items you need to pack in your carry-on, items to make your flight a little easier and items you’ll need upon landing. Packing the below items in your carry on will help you sail (or fly) smoothly into your destination.


This should go without saying, but alas, here I am…saying. Flying at 35,000 feet can very easily dehydrate you. I try to consume at least 8oz of water for every hour that I’m on a plane. Save some cash and the earth and invest in one of these cool reusable metal water bottles. They come in a bunch of different sizes and have a color for every personality. Bonus: not having to pay $5 for a plastic water bottle that may end up in the ocean.


This one is an external follow up on water. Where there is a lack of hydration – there will be an abundance of dry skin. Some of my favorite in-flight moisturizers, such as the Clinique Moisture Surge can actually be found right at duty-free! I also love to use a good serum before applying my moisturizer as an added layer of hydration. My favorite serum not only provides all-day hydration but also revitalizes to assist skin looking radiant and youthful (perfect for after a long flight!).

Face Mask:

We’re taking this whole hydration thing to another level because before I apply my serum and moisturizer – I’m the person on the plane in a facial sheet mask. I don’t care how crazy I look on the plane because after the flight? My skin will be flourishing. These snail jelly sheet masks (don’t knock it till you try it!) are amazing for deep moisture and the packet is small enough to bring a few along with you without causing any space issues.

Lip Chap:

Let’s just round out this moisturizing session with some lip moisture, because who wants to land in a new place with chapped lips? My favorite moisturizing lip balm is literally life changing but is also a bit of an investment. A less expensive option would be this awesome conditioning lip serum.

Hand Sanitizer:

Do I really need to explain this one? Planes are essentially germ incubators that fly. Have you ever taken a clean napkin with some sanitizer on it and cleaned the tray table? If you haven’t – you’re gross. If you have, you know how gross the tray table can be. I sanitize my entire space when I get on a plane, from the seat to the armrests and especially the tray table and seat pocket. I suggest going for a spray hand sanitizer to make it easier to clean up your in-flight space.  

Ginger Candy:

I have ginger candy listed on my “items you need for travel” list because it has so many benefits for travelers! From anti-inflammatory properties to immune boosting properties – a few pieces of ginger candy are the perfect bite before, during or after a flight.

up4 Probiotics:

Probiotics are known to help balance the ‘good bacteria’ in your digestive system and nothing can throw your tummy off the way a flight can. I like to take up4®️ Women’s Probiotic daily, to promote a healthy and happy digestive system, and I find that it’s the perfect addition to your travel routine.* up4®️ Women’s Probiotic is non-GMO, soy-, gluten- and preservative-free as well as vegan and kosher! They also make probiotics for adults and kids.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. up4®️ is a trademark of DSM.

Granola Bars/Snacks:

I love ALL THE SNACKS. On a plane, at home, while traveling, when not traveling. No matter the day, I’m a snack person. In addition, apart from the sporadic business class flight, I don’t like any of the plane food. As such I love to bring a few of my own snacks on the plane. I love GoMacro bars because they’re not only organic, gluten free, R.A.W, Kosher, and vegan they’re also a great substitute for a meal. Some of my other favorite plane snacks are organic, unsalted mixed nuts, and organic dark chocolate.

Eye Mask:

I used to think people who wore eye masks were crazy. Until I tried one. Now, I can’t sleep on a plane without an eye mask and in a few instances, it came in handy when my accommodations didn’t have blackout curtains. This silk eye mask is super comfortable to sleep with or you can check out these eye masks that come with fun prints.

Neck Pillow:

I can’t travel without a good neck pillow. It not only helps me sleep in flight but my favorite neck pillow comes with a snap closure so your head won’t fall out of the pillow if your position shifts in your sleep and you can even unsnap it to use it for lumbar support on your back. The snap closure makes it easy to hook onto the exterior of a bag for easy transport and there’s even a zipper on the exterior to take the cover off for easy washing.

Blanket Scarf:

This is another item on my “items you need for travel” list because flights get cold! I love that a good blanket scarf can easily be a fashion accessory around your neck in the airport and easily turn your space on the plane into a cozy little nook. Everything is better with a blanket! If I’m traveling in the summer or to a warmer climate I like to use a lightweight blanket scarf but if traveling in the winter I opt for a heavier blanket scarf in a wool-cashmere blend.

Big Sweater:

A good chunky cardigan is the perfect plane accessory and this one is aptly named the coziest ever cardi (because it really is). What I love about a quality chunky knit is that you can pair it over jeans and dress it up – even if it feels as cozy as being in PJ’s. A long, duster sweater is also a good option for in-flight coziness that can also be dressed up a bit.


Who wants funky breath when they land? I always bring my toothbrush and toothpaste in my carry-on handbag for easy in-flight access to fresh breath. Don’t forget to pack a travel sized toothpaste so it doesn’t get snagged by TSA!

Heat Pads:

I like to travel with disposable heat pads to assist with any lower back pain I might incur during a flight. They’re also great to loosen up tight neck muscles!

Phone Charger:

Sometimes flights offer a charging port and other times they offer a USB charger. Sometimes, you’re offered nothing. In that case, you want to be prepared with your own portable charger. I like to travel with one that has multiple USB ports just in case one stops working! I also love the new sleek charging options that have the charging cord built right in.


I can’t travel without my iPad Air and I especially love it for in-flight entertainment. While most airlines offer TV – I love to use my flight time to download and catch up on my favorite Netflix shows. I also bring my Kindle Paperwhite on flights so I can catch up on any good reads (and by that, I mean continue the Game of Thrones book series).

For When You Arrive:

If you’ve been a reader here for a while, you’re probably already familiar with my article describing how to look ‘Photoshoot Fresh – Straight off of an Airplane”. If not, you’ll soon know that I have this whole carry-on/flight thing down to a simple science. There are a few things you’ll need after you arrive if you want to look and feel presentable after your flight.

Change of Clothes:

What’s the only thing worse than a 14-hour flight? Getting off the 14-hour flight in the same underwear that you boarded the flight in. (Insert laughing emoji.) But seriously, a change of clothes can drastically change your life when you arrive in a new destination and if your checked bag doesn’t make it to your destination with you – you’ll be happy you properly prepared!

Makeup Bag:

I always pack my makeup bag in my carry-on (mostly because the thought of landing and there being a chance of not having my eyebrow pencil gives me anxiety). Wash your face, brush your teeth, and put a little makeup on after your flight to have you looking and feeling great after stepping off the plane.

Eye drops:

Do planes make anyone else get dry eyes? I know it can’t be just me. I LOVE THESE EYEDROPS so much that they make me capitalize. But, they also help me to feel a bit more awake because shaking that dry eye feeling just feels good and if your eyes feel good – you’ll feel good.

Printout of Itinerary:

I feel like this should go without explanation but alas, I’m explaining. I, personally, use my Verizon phone service abroad (as I explained in my article, “How to Use Your Phone Abroadso when I land, I’ll be able to turn my phone on and connect to local cell towers. However, sometimes it takes a while to pick up the signal and other times the Wi-Fi at the airport is non-existent! Having a print out of your hotel address can assist in case you can’t get connected and use your cell phone when you arrive.

Electronics + Valuables

In addition, to everything listed above – I also implore you to pack your electronics and valuables (jewelry, designer handbags, etc.) in your carry-on. I know people who check their camera equipment and electronics under the plane but with lithium battery issues and typically only $800 of airline insurance coverage if that checked bag were to be lost – I don’t suggest it! My computer, my drone, my cameras, my computer, my tablet, my portable Wi-Fi device all find themselves with me on my trip.

From a blanket scarf to probiotics and everything in between – I’m positive my list of carry-on necessities can assist even the most seasoned of travelers’ in-flight experience and post-flight ease.

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