Essential Items to Pack in Your Carry-On Bag
Updated: Jan 18
When traveling, what goes into your carry-on bag is as important as your overall trip packing list. These suggestions take the guesswork out of planning your carry-on bag.
Any time you will be separated from your main luggage, you need to have a “day bag” carry-on luggage plan. Consider this bag as both your backup plan and your convenience plan.
14 Items that should always be in your carry-on bag
Whenever traveling, these are the things that should be in your carry-on bag whether that’s a tote bag, duffle bag, backpack, or small suitcase. Your carry-on packing list should include:
1) Passport or other proof of citizenship – These should always be secured and easily reachable.
2) Travel documents – If you have printed documents, they need to be easily reachable.
3) Medications – All prescriptions should be in your possession, not in a suitcase that could be lost or stolen. Also, take your over-the-counter meds you may need for a day. In my case, I make sure Ibuprofen and (if flying) decongestant in my carry-on.
4) Electronics- phone, charger, battery pack, laptop, tablet
5) Reading materials or other items to do- Put me on a plane and I suddenly have ‘flying ADD" (a term I may have just coined). I take multiple things to read (all or some may be in my Kindle app), listen to (podcasts or Audible books), paper books (yes, some of us still read those), magazines, notepad (never know when I’ll be inspired to journal or work on a blog). Take your knitting, finger puzzles, or whatever keeps you occupied.
6) Jewelry - Any valuable jewelry (why are you bringing it?) or other valued item needs to be on your person physically or in your carry-on.
7) Anything fragile – If it’s breakable, it needs to be WELL-toward the inside of your luggage or in your carry-on.
8) Toiletries – Toiletries for at least your first 24 hours (in case luggage gets waylaid) or that you may need while traveling should be in your carry-on. But remember the “3-1-1” TSA rule. Containers can’t hold more than 3.1 ounces and must all be in one quart-size bag, one bag per flyer.
9) Glasses or spare contacts – If you are dependent on glasses or contacts, it’s wise to travel with a second set. Even better is to have them in your carry-on.
10) Change of clothes – Luggage can get lost or stolen. Always travel with a change of clothing to get you through the first 24 hours in case of delays or to cover you while buying new items.
11) Pen – All I can say is that I’ve regretted when I’ve not had one. It takes up virtually no space so just toss one in.
12) Hand sanitizer – If you’re traveling, you’re likely touching things everyone else has touched and there may not be access to soap and water each time you’d like there to be.
13) Tissues – Whether you’re blowing your nose or regretting there’s no available toilet paper, having some tissues conveniently accessible is worth that minute space in your bag.
14) Luggage tag or card inside with your name and contact information – You could forgetfully leave your bag in an airport restaurant or overhead on your plane. Or, like what happened to me, someone getting off the plane sooner than I did, grabbed my small black tote bag from the overhead instead of theirs.
In my case with the erroneously taken black duffle? As I was spending time reporting the bag, the person was fortunately turning it in elsewhere and the airline announced my name since my ID was on it.
What About Variations Specific to Circumstances?
Add These in Your Carry-On When Flying
Disinfectant wipes – It’s a good idea to clean your seat, seatbelt, and tray table.
Light jacket or similar- I don’t fly anywhere without a pashmina (pash MEE nuh) shawl. I consider it an essential item. It’s light and takes very little, but is a very versatile item and, on a plane, can be the perfect replacement for a blanket when I’m chilly.
Add These in Your Carry-On When Cruising
When cruising, it can take an hour or until dinner time for your luggage to get to your cabin. You want to be properly prepared.
Bathing suit – If you feel you’ll want to jump into the pool or sunbathe that afternoon, pack a bathing suit in your carry-on bag.
Anything you may need for the first few hours on the ship – It gives you the ability to start having fun even if you don’t have your other bags already.
Space for your PJs and last-minute items you’re tossing in before disembarking your cruise – You’ll need to put out your suitcases the night before you get off the ship. Be sure to keep an outfit and toiletries you’ll need and know you’ll have to fit the toiletries, jammies, and other items from overnight into that carry-on.
Add These in Your Carry-On When Going to a Resort
Bathing suit – In case your luggage gets lost on the way to your destination, you may want your bathing suit to hit the pool or beach while the airline sorts out how to reconnect your luggage with you.
To get these and other tips when traveling, we hope you will book your cruise or escorted tour with us. Let’s get planning!