How to Pack the Perfect Carry-On Bag

Carry On Packing Guide


Every seasoned traveler knows a well packed carry-on bag can mean the difference between a comfortable or miserable flight. Luckily for you, I’ve done the leg work! No matter how short or long your flight is, here’s everything you need to ensure a seamless travel experience.

Bag:

My go-to carry on bag is the Lo & Sons OG Bag, AKA the most incredible carry-on bag in the world. I’m not exaggerating when I say this bag has a place for everything. There are so many little compartments for your laptop, tablet, pens, chapsticks, keys… Heck, there’s even a hidden compartment for an extra pair of shoes! My favorite feature is the slit in the back, which allows you to slide the bag onto your carry-on luggage handle. No more achey shoulders! If you don’t need the extra compartments or if you want something more versatile that you can use on a daily basis, consider a Longchamp Le Pilage Tote.

Sleep:

If my flight is in the early morning/late evening, or if I’m flying to Europe, I pretty much always plan on sleeping to pass the time. Pro tip: To avoid jet lag, consider the time zone in your destination. If you’re flying to Italy at 2pm from NYC, it’s already 8pm in your destination. Take an over-the-counter sleep aid and catch some ZZZs!

Neck pillow
These don’t have to be bulky! I use this Memory Foam Travel Pillow that rolls up into a little ball and fits into a drawstring pouch. It also has a little clip in the front so you can drop your head forward on it. There are even inflatable options like this one. If you’re still contemplating if you’ll need a neck pillow, please just trust me when I say it makes a world of difference.

Eye mask
You’ll thank me when your neighbor wants to look out the window the entire time, or when the flight attendant turns on the cabin lights while you’re snoozing. I’m obsessed with the ultra-soft and ultra-cute masks from Wildfox like this one and this one.

Ear plugs
What crying baby? I can’t here a thing when I have Macks Ear Plugs in.

Over-the-coutner sleep aid
Only take one if you plan on sleeping for at least 4 hours! I take Unisom Sleep Gels.

Hydrate:

Water bottle
I usually pack my own empty bottle and fill it up once I’m through security at a refill station or water fountain to avoid paying high prices at the airport.

Evian Facial Spray
This stuff is like a drink of water for your skin! It’s the best way to refresh during a dehydrating flight, and it’s perfect for setting your makeup and making it last throughout your long travel day. I’m obsessed with it because it comes in a TSA approved 1.7oz size, and unlike other facial sprays, it’s mineral based and fragrance free, so it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin. Learn more about Evian Facial Spray here.

Moisturizer
In addition to Evian Facial Spray, I always use a good moisturizer before a long flight. For shorter flights, I use Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer. It offers light coverage and SPF protection (yes, you still need it on travel days!). For long haul flights, I nix the makeup altogether and go for a traditional moisturizer like Clinique’s Moisture Surge.

Eye Cream
To avoid dark circles, I always use a good eye cream before boarding. Clinque’s All About Eyes Rich is one of my favorites.

Lip balm
My lips are always the first thing to dry out on a long flight. I swear by Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment!

Read next: My Travel Skin Care Advice // How to Avoid Jet Lag.

Rejuvenate:

Wipes
Never underestimate the power of a wipe! Not only are these Yes to Cucumbers Wipes great for cleansing your face on-the-go, but they’re also perfect for refreshing your body. Pro tip: I always have wipes and/or tissues on me during travel. You never know when you’re going to use a public restroom that doesn’t have toilet paper! (This is a common occurrence in Europe).

Mascara
Mascara is the one makeup item I can’t live without. It just instantly makes me look awake and refreshed after a long flight.

Wisps
There’s nothing worse than traveling for hours on end without having a chance to brush your teeth. Wisps are convenient and easy, and you’d be surprised at how effective they are! Gum and mints are a good supplement.

Healthy snack
Although most flights offer a snack at the very least, it’s not always the healthiest option. I like to bring some type of nutritious comfort food like a granola bar or banana.

Disinfect:

With all of the germs you come in contact with at the airport, on planes, and on public transportation, you definitely don’t want to leave home without these:

Hand sanitizer
No explanation needed.

Well-Kept Electronic Wipes
I’m obsessed with these Electronic Wipes from Well-Kept because they safely and effectively remove bacteria and makeup build-up from your phone and laptop, which prevents you from getting sick or having a breakout.

Emergen-C
Before I reach my destination, I like to give my immune system a little boost. Airborne is another great option.

Gadgets:

Phone
I know, I know. It’s usually glued to my hand at all times. But it doesn’t hurt to make sure you have it!

Tablet
While most international flights offer free movies, I like to bring my iPad for shorter flights or for trips with long train or bus rides. For blogging purposes, I sometimes opt for my laptop, but my tablet is much lighter. I see a Macbook Air in my near future…

Headphones
This is one item you definitely do not want to forget! The over-the-ear kind make a huge difference because they cancel out all of that airplane noise.

Chargers
I typically pack the chargers to all of my electronics in my carry-on, but at the very least, I throw in my phone charger and laptop charger.

Back-up battery
Soooo, I’m kind of awful about draining my phone battery. My back-up battery has saved me on many occasions. The only catch is you have to remember to charge it. But if you can handle that, I promise it will change your life! This one from Ban-do is adorable.

Necessities:

Passport

Boarding pass

Wallet
Pro tip: Be sure to call your credit card companies to make them aware of your travels. Also, ensure that your credit card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and that it has a microchip.

Sweater
Flights can be extremely chilly! Plus, your sweater can double as a pillow when balled up.

Pen
A pen is invaluable when you need to fill out immigration documents!

Carry On Bag Guide

If you’re checking luggage, don’t forget to add anything you wouldn’t want to lose should your bag get lost. I typically pack my Nikon DSLR, GoPro, jewelry, sunglasses, and all of my toiletries and makeup (don’t forget to keep them under 3 ounces!). Throwing in an extra outfit or two never hurts either! Of course, carrying on your luggage is the way to go.

Extras:

Electronics

Jewelry

Sunglasses

Toiletries

Medications

Makeup

Read next: My Toiletry Packing Guide // How to Pack for a Month in a Carry-On.

My last tip is to double, and then triple check that you have everything you need! There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport and realizing you forgot important documents or the charger to something.

How do you pack the perfect carry-on bag?

Thank you Evian Facial Spray for sponsoring this post! As always, all opinions are my own.

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11 Comments

    • Jenna Jenna October 27, 2015 / 8:38 pm

      I totally agree! Can’t live without it now :)

    • Melissa July 3, 2016 / 3:41 am

      I love my Tumi travel kit !!

  1. GiGi Eats October 26, 2015 / 5:19 pm

    Sleep aids & neck pillow… YES! Also, toothbrush and tooth paste! I cannot handle a dirty mouth when I am trying to sleep – ha ha!

    • Jenna Jenna October 27, 2015 / 8:40 pm

      Hahaha I totally know the feeling! I always pack my toothbrush for long haul flights too. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  2. Sara @ SaraLou · Yoga October 26, 2015 / 5:30 pm

    Love these! I am always at odds with either packing too little or packing too much…thanks for the tips!

    • Jenna Jenna October 27, 2015 / 8:40 pm

      Haha it happens to the best of us! I hope this guide helps. :)

  3. Katie February 20, 2016 / 8:18 pm

    Great list! Where do you keep your DSLR in your carry on? Going to Europe (Paris and then a 7 day cruise starting in Monte Carlo through the Mediterranean at the end of April) and WON’T leave home without my camera. Was wondering the best way to pack this for both airline travel in my carry on bag AND for when walking around at our destinations.

    • Jenna Jenna February 25, 2016 / 4:14 am

      I honestly just toss it in my bag near the top so nothing crushes it! I keep the bag super organized, so it’s not really a problem. Have a blast on your trip! Never been to Monte Carlo, but Paris is obviously dreamy. :)

      • Caroline April 26, 2016 / 7:40 am

        I was so confused about what to buy, but this makes it unbdlstandaere.

  4. Re February 10, 2017 / 11:17 am

    Totally agree with this list! Super love ❤

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