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If you have ever Googled, “What to pack in your carry-on bag,” your search will spill out pages of suggestions and even some with convenient packing lists for download. We’ve found that sometimes the items on these lists seem great but aren’t really necessary. For example, we’ve seen things like the carry-on cocktail kit or heavy tour guide books, which seem great, but with airlines getting picky with carry-on size and even it’s weight these days, it’s a good idea to only pack items that are practical and not a novelty.
We both pack quite a bit of similar items in our carry-on bag, but we also pack items that the other doesn’t. We thought we’d break down our items with our first list containing the essentials we both pack and then we’ll go into items that are unique to us individually.
Before we get into that, we want to start off by showing you the backpack we use for our travels. We both carry the Pacsafe Anti-theft Citysafe CX Backpack as it has a ton of amazing specs. There are two features we especially love: the the trolley sleeve and the exterior pockets. You can read more about this awesome anti-theft backpack HERE or watch our YouTube VIDEO where we go over all the features this bag has to offer.
Now, on to the carry-on essentials.
ITEMS WE BOTH PACK
Our little sister in Japan introduced us to the gentle steam eye mask several years ago and we were immediately hooked. It’s an innovative single-use mask that heats up (approximately 104 degrees Fahrenheit) once the packaging is opened. It lasts for about 10-15 minutes, which is enough time to put you to sleep. It’s compact and not only perfect for traveling, but also ideal if you’ve had a long day in front of a computer screen. You can purchase them scented or unscented and we personally like the lavender scented one. We used to buy these at the drug store every time we visited Japan, but recently discovered that you can buy them from Amazon.
Water is provided in-flight, but we like to have our own bottle of water on hand. We both like to keep our tray table free of any possible liquid spills and also like to have one just in case we can’t seem to get a flight attendant’s attention. It’s also good to hydrate as much as you can on your long haul flights.
Most long haul flights offer entertainment, but more often than not, there just isn’t enough for us. We usually can find a movie or two that we like, but having our own entertainment downloaded (ahead of time) helps pass the time. We also like to get some work done on our flights like editing photos or videos. We both carry a 15” laptop and luckily our Pacsafe backpack can fit our 15” devices.
Unless you are in first or business class, your headphones will be those cheap annoying ones that keep falling out of your ear. They usually don’t fit in your ear quite right and if you happen to nod your head a bit they have a tendency to fall right out. Since they don’t fit so great, you have to crank up the volume to mask out the cabin noise. If you want a hassle-free listening experience, it’s best to bring your own pair of headphones. Crystal usually has her AirPods in a cute case that is attached to her Bandolier cellphone case. Candy usually brings her Bose head phones. The Bose headphones do take up quite a bit of space, so she only brings them when she has extra room for it.
We don’t like seeing our phone battery hit the red zone, so having a portable charger is a must for us. Our phones tend to run low on battery especially when we are traveling since we are constantly on google maps or uploading clips to our Instagram stories. If you have an Away suitcase, you can remove the portable battery from the suitcase and toss it into your book bag or purse.
It’s always a good idea to stash some snacks just in case your flight gets delayed or if the inflight food wasn’t to your liking. We usually make our own trail mix, but sometimes we like to buy individually packed snack packs. Our favorite granola bar is the Chocolate Almond Sea Salt from Kashi.
When you need your meds, the last thing you want to do is search for a place that sells them. Also, it’s a good idea to research what type of medications are readily available at your destination. We were surprised to find out, on our recent trip to London, that Melatonin was not an over-the-counter medication and a prescription was required. That was a a bit of a shock to us.
Miscellaneous Items: Breath Mints, Chapstick, Hand Cream, Tissue
We don’t have a preference on the brands we use for these items, but they are essentials on all our trips. Especially the hand cream and chapstick as the cabin air is typically dry.
CRYSTAL’S CARRY-ON ESSENTIALS
When traveling to different countries, we find ourselves with a bunch of coins (especially in Japan and parts of Europe). In the States, we are so accustomed to using our credit cards everywhere, but not every country is like this. Having a coin purse keeps your money organized and you won’t end up being that person at the register digging through your pockets and sorting out the different currencies.
I used to carry a backpack that was especially designed for cameras, but made the switch to the Pacsafe Anti-theft Backpack a couple of years ago. I still needed something to give my cameras and lenses some extra protection and found these awesome protective wraps on Amazon. They work great and have kept my camera equipment safe.
I always hear that the cabin trays and arm rests are infested with germs so I always wipe down my area before I nestle into my seat. I also purchase the single-use wipes as the normal packages tend to dry out if I don’t use them shortly after opening the package. It’s such a disappointment when I go to grab a wipe that is completely dry and useless.
I take a ton of photos and video when I travel, so having a portable hard drive is necessary for me. I have to back up all of my files and don’t have nearly enough room to store them directly to my laptop. The Samsung portable SSD is super tiny and doesn’t take up a ton of space in my luggage. Plus it’s lightweight and transfers files at lightning fast speed. I also store my hard drive in a case for extra protection.
My cameras are my number one priority when I am traveling so they always accompany me on my carry-on. I am too afraid to pack them in my larger check-in luggage because I’ve heard one too many stories of stolen gear. The GoPro conveniently fits in the side pocket so it doesn’t take up extra room in the bag.
Unless you are sitting in First or Business Class, you won’t be handed an eye mask when the cabin lights go out. If you are the type that needs complete darkness to get some rest, it’s best to bring an eye mask.
If you own an Apple watch, then you are probably aware that they don’t have a long battery life. I found this portable Apple watch charger on Amazon and I can charge my watch conveniently without any cables.
I like to download shows from NetFlix or Amazon Prime to my iPad to catch up on all my shows and documentaries. Most international flights provide some movies but there’s usually only one or two movies I’m interested in so downloading TV shows I’m addicted to makes the time in-flight pass by much faster.
Miscellaneous Items: Deodorant, BB Cream, Roll-on Perfume
I always like to stay fresh and bring some deodorant, perfume and light makeup.
CANDY’S CARRY-ON ESSENTIALS
In the past, I used a ziplock bag, but after one of my ziplock bags ripped from getting caught in a zipper I decided it was time to invest in an actual clear plastic bag. I read several Amazon reviews and decided on getting this one. It’s actually pretty big and holds a lot more than the ziplock bag I was using. The zipper is durable and I like that the bag clearly states it’s TSA approved.
I like to freshen up when I touch down to my destination and I usually just do that at my seat. This way I don’t take up the lavatory for people who really need it. The ring light comes in handy when the cabin lights are dimmed. I got my mirror directly from the brand’s website, but you can also purchase this travel size mirror on Amazon.
Knock on wood that I’ve never had lost or delayed luggage while traveling internationally…but if it ever happens I’m prepared. I make sure to pack an extra pair of clothes with me on my carry-on. I always pack my Anatomie leggings as they are lightweight, stylish, and wrinkle free. Anatomie specializes in designing stylish and practical travel clothes so that you can wander the world in comfort.
If I don’t keep my skin moisturized during my flights, I break out. I used to put nothing on my face before my long-haul flights, but always ended up with a pimple or two when I touched down to my destination. I later discovered that my skin was trying to produce its own oils from the dry cabin air thus causing me to break out. Once I was aware of this I made sure to always stay moisturized during my flights and sure enough the breakouts ceased.
I roll on this peppermint-infused cooling cream when I arrive at my destination. The smell is refreshing and it also helps me stay focused, which I usually need as my Dramamine slowly wears off.
I wear contacts so I always carry my glasses and contact lens solution with me. I usually take off my contacts inflight right before I go to sleep.
We hope our list helps you when you are packing your carry-on bag. If you are looking for some tips on what to wear or how to prepare for a long haul flight, check out some of our posts below: