Carry-On Packing List

I am a nester at heart. It must seem shocking given that I'm often participating in some heart-racing outdoors adrenaline activity, but, being somewhat of a Martha Stewart savant, I truly do enjoy being comfortable at home. And if there are two skills I picked up from my gypsy childhood, it's:

1) how to be prepared for anything, and

2) how to make myself comfortable on the go

The carry-on is an art perfected uniquely for each individual, and I have found mine continuously morphing throughout the years, save several items that have always remained on my general packing list.

Regardless of how long or where you'll be traveling, I've compiled an all-encompassing packing guide for the ultimate carry-on!


What to Wear

  • Comfortable Shoes

Having comfortable footwear can make a big difference, especially in the face of unforeseen circumstances. I usually wear my Doc Marten's or Forsake boots as they are comfortable, versatile, and wearing my bulkier shoes saves a good chunk of space in my bags. If you get hot easily or your destination is warm, consider packing a simple pair of flip flops to change in and out of while on the go.

  • Compression Socks

Compression socks are snug, stretchy stockings that improve blood flow. They can lessen pain and swelling in your legs as well as chances of getting deep vein thrombosis (DVT), varicose veins, and other circulation or skin issues.

  • Sweater or Jacket for Layering

When traveling, layering is king. It can help provide extra warmth and help deal with changing temperatures throughout the day. Layers give your travel outfits a more polished look and expand outfit options by adding colors, textures, and patterns to neutral wardrobe. The right sweater or jacket can help you pack light even if you are traveling in multiple climates.

  • Whatever the hell makes you happy!

The best outfit to travel in is whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident. Remember to aim for items that are adaptable.


What to Carry

  • Backpack

Every traveler has or has had that backpack, the one that acts as your sidekick for your adventures around the globe. Whether you put an emphasis on protecting your camera gear or having enough space for all your priorities, the choices are endless.

  • Tote

Totes can make for the perfect carry-on bag. They make everything readily available, and if you’re a stickler for organization like me, opt for one for lots of separated sections and pockets.

  • Bathroom Bag

In the terms of travel survival techniques, a decent bathroom bag can serve multiple purposes, e.g. being able to quickly pack liquids in and out at TSA, keeping hygiene tools clean, catching spills and busted bottles, etc.



  • Neck Pillow

A good neck pillow can make a huge therapeutic difference by maintaining proper neck and head alignment so you do not have to wake up feeling stiff. There are memory foam and space saving options!

  • Eye Mask

When your brain senses darkness, it kicks in the production of melatonin. A sleep mask is one of the simplest, most effective way to get this going.

  • Ear Plugs

Ear plugs can greatly increase your quality of sleep, which, in turn, affects your travel and overall day.

  • Lavender

Lavender essential oil has been shown to increase slow-wave sleep, instrumental for slowing heartbeat and relaxing muscles and lowering your stress levels as well.



  • Hand Sanitizer

The idea of bringing a germ-killing sanitizer for airports and other crowded and dirty places is a no-brainer. This is one of the simplest ways to stay proactive towards getting sick!

  • Wet Wipes

Wet wipes and antibacterial wipes are a multifaceted tool for travelers! They can be used for washing hands in a pinch, cleaning your seating area, cleaning self and gear.

  • Toothbrush

I always get a new burst of energy after waking up post long flight or suffering through delays and being able to brush my teeth. Travel-ready bamboo options are my favorite!

  • Change of Underwear

Some girls use pantyliners, some babes always rock a clean pair in their carry-ons. Either way, feeling fresh can give you that extra boost.

  • Change of clothes

If you want to take being prepared a step further, packing an extra set of clothes takes it to the next level. This is usually easy to do if you’ve dressed in layers for your travel.


Nourish your Body

  • Water bottle

A trusty water bottle is a given. Stay hydrated. If you want something fun and space-saving, collapsible water bottles are here to stay.

  • Coconut Oil

Moisturizer is not just for looking good. It is important for keeping our skin hydrated and happy. The best all-around moisturizer is without a doubt coconut oil. You can use it directly on your skin, as lip balm, etc.

  • Eye Cream or Eye Gels

These are a bit more luxurious if you’re already hydrating and using moisturizer, but using an eye cream or eye gels are a great way to make us feel and look more alert, reduce dark circles and wrinkles.

  • Sheet Mask

A sheet mask covered in serums filled with vitamins and minerals can have several purposes: hydrate skin, remove excess oils, exfoliant, and help improve the appearance of your pores.

  • Vitamin C

Bring vitamin C tablets or drink powder to take before, during, or after a flight as one of the easiest ways to naturally boost your immune system.

  • Snack

Packing snacks is one of my most beloved travel tips. Having some of your favorite foods can be calming, comforting, and can certainly save money on all those over-priced airport or tourist store snacks available.


Freshen Up

  • Eye Drops

Depending on whether or not you are prone to dry eyes, eye drops can be a life-saver when traveling, especially if irritation comes from flying or napping on the go.

  • Deodorant

For you. For them. Smelling good and sweating less is always nice. Naturally deodorants without aluminum are favorite so far.

  • Hat

A beanie or baseball cap can help adjust temperature, block out light for naps, or brighten our look by helping us cover travel-out hair.

  • Essential Oils

Although we only briefly mentioned lavender earlier, there are so many more ways in which we can incorporate essential oils into our daily routines. Do research, level up.

  • Gum or Mints

For post meals, close contact, or when you don’t have the time to brush your teeth, mints or sugarless gum for the win.

  • Light Make-Up

I’m not a fan of wearing make-up while traveling, but looking fresh when you land can nice. You’re already gorgeous, and you want to keep your pores happy! Simple, light choices like mascara, tinted moisturizer, and a lip balm are all you really need.



  • Hobbies

Home is a mindset, and including your favorite travel-appropriate hobbies to your packing list is the way to bring home on the road. Sudoku, audio books, knitting, cards, coloring, you name it!

  • External Battery

Don’t panic when your phone battery drops to red and you can’t find an outlet! External batteries are a serious way to step up your game.

  • Headphones

Whether you prefer wireless earbuds, simply cannot travel without your noise-cancelling headphones, or rock it old-school, everyone agrees you need a pair.

  • Self Care Kit

Above anything, self care is a practiced skill, and if you are traveling with a health condition or mental illness, it can make a huge difference. Having a self care kit is an excellent way to actively remind ourselves and make it all too easy.

This kit should be completely tailed around what makes you tick, but some ideas include: a note to yourself or a list of positive affirmations, journal, photos or a mood board, fuzzy socks or a sweater, fidget toys or grounding objects, acupressure rings, and your favorite book.


Rapid Fire 'Don't Forget's

  • Research Your Destination (i.e. cultural customs, restrictions, etc.)

  • Electronics and Chargers

  • Medications

  • Copies of Important Documents

  • Glasses and Spare Contacts