18 Essential Items to Pack in your Carry-On Bag


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There is nothing worse than a rough flight.  Often, the most fantastical journeys have straight up disastrous beginnings. 

But sometimes…. just sometimes… that doesn't happen.  Everything (miraculously) goes right, and your flight is actually relaxing.

If you're properly prepared, an airplane can transform into a spa, or cubical (or both). It's a place to kick up your feet, disconnect from the internet, and finally catch up on that book (or spend 8 hours watching last year's blockbusters). 

The difference between a good flight and a bad flight? Being prepared!

Below, I've laid out all of my essential/must-bring items for my carry-on bag.  No, moisturizing your face won’t fix the screaming baby behind you... but will somehow make it more bearable?

Looking for the perfect bag? Read my post on travel daypacks

Essential items to pack in your carry-on airplane bag:

1. Tiger Balm

Tiger Balm White Ointment
I became obsessed with Tiger Balm while backpacking in Southeast Asia. For everything from headaches to bug bites and sore muscles, Tiger Balm does it all.

2. External Hard Drive

1 TB Portable External Hard Drive
I take a lot of pictures/videos while traveling. It is nice to be able to immeditaly back them up.

3. Lubricating Eye Drops

Lubricant Eye Drops For Dry Eyes
I have debilitatingly dry eyes, especially if I don't get enough sleep. I usually have to apply these drops multiple times throughout they day, but they are great relief for itchy eyes.

4. High-Powered Portable Charger

Portable Charger High Capacity External Battery
These are great for charging not only your phone, but your camera, headphones (my noise cancelling headphones-see below- charge with a USB), ect. Trust me, you'll be at the summit of Machu Picchu when you realize your camera is out of battery.

5. Sony Camera

Sony Digital Camera DSCWX500/B
I love this camera becasue it's no-fuss. In my opinon, the iPhone is a great point and shoot camera, but it does not have the 30x zoom of the Sony DSCwx500. This model has a front screen for vlogging/selfies, which I promise is more useful than you think!

6. Flexible Notebooks With Lines

Rifle Paper Company Notebooks
Always (ALWAYS) bring a notebook!

7. Moisturizing Facial Spray

Mario Badescu Facial Spray
I used to make fun of people who spritzed themselves with fancy water... and then I realized how great it actually is. Mariso Badescu spray is calming, and contains natural oils that moisture on your skin.

8. Facial Sunscreen with Helioplex

Neutrogena Sunscreen with Helioplex
Always wear sunscreen! I like to wear something stronger on your face, and this Neutrogena variety with Helioplex is the best.

9. Junk Drive

64 GB Flash Drive
It takes up NO ROOM and you never know when you'll need it.

10. SD Card to Lightning Cable (for iPhones)

Apple Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader
Transfer photos from your camera to your iPhone with ease. This cord is very smart, and even remembers which photos you have already transferred.

11. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones
From noisy planes to 12-person dorm rooms at hostels, these have saved me from many sleepless nights. They are not as effective as the over-the-ear varity, but they take up a heck of a lot less room in your bag.

12. Clear TSA-Approved Pouch for Liquids

TSA Approved Clear Toiletry Bag
Even if I am checking a bag with all of my large toiletrees, I still bring a fair amount of liquids in my carryon bag (face wash, moisturizer, sunscreen, ect). I always keep my liquids in a TSA approved bag to make security a breeze... it also makes it MUCH easier to find something vs. digging through my bag for it.

13. Daily Planner

Rifle Paper Hardcover Agenda 2018
This planner changed my life and I love it very much. I take it everywhere with me.

14. Incase Laptop Holder

Incase Laptop Sleeve
I not only keep my laptop in here, but I also use it to store my iPad, headphones, important pieces of paper... It's a great place to keep anything that needs an extra layer of protection.

15. Post-it Notes

Post-it Notes
For everything from directions to reminders on the mirror and to-do lists, there are a million uses for post-it notes when you travel. These take up very little room in your bag.

16. Hand Cream

Trader Joe's Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream
My current favorite hand cream is from Trader Joes. It's a good value, works well, and lasts forever. At 3oz it's still TSA approved!

Items in my liquids bag:

Face wash
Hand sanitizer

Items in my pencil case:

Washi Tape
Clicky pencils
Calligraphy markers

17. Clicky Pencils

Bic Mechanical Pencils
I try to write in pencil whenever I can. These are my favorite.

18. Washi Tape

Colorful Washi Tape Set
You won't believe how useful this is when you're traveling!

Click to read: 14 Items You Don't Want to Forget to Pack

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