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Carry On Packing Guide

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Carry On Packing Guide (long haul or short flights)

I’m not a professional traveler, though I would love to be and I think I could be good at it. However, I do have a good deal of traveling experience. I have grown up making packing guides for anyone and everyone who would let me! I have always loved packing, airports, traveling, picking things out for travels, but not the unpacking. That bit usually ends up taking forever.

Enough of my travel rambling (I get a little excited and very chatty when it comes to all things travel)!

If you aren’t much of a reader you may watch a video here

And the free packing checklist here!

Picking your carry on bag

There are so many options. It can vary depending on where you are headed and personal preference! My general go to is a roller carry on (if you are planning to buy then get 4-wheels trust me and never learn how frustrating 2-wheels can be and just go for 4), and a backpack that has enough room for me to stick my purse into if they ask me to.

Popular Options:

  • roller bag
  • gym bag/duffle bag
  • backpack
  • tote bag
  • oversized purse
  • briefcase

It really comes down to what is best for you and what you are comfortable carrying around/stowing on the plane, etc. Example: When I traveled to Hawaii, to backpack for a month, I didn’t want anything extra to lug around so I checked my backpack, that had everything in it, and I only carried on a wallet with a wrist strap that held my money, identification, and passport.

Deciding what do bring?

Sometimes it can be a little bit daunting to decide what you should carry-on. You don’t want to bring too much, or too little, or forget your important documents, or be miserable trying to carry the bag you have chosen, and so on. So I have a free PDF downloadable packing guide to help you. Obviously, this is not set in stone and not the only way to go about packing. Adjust it as you travel and learn what best suits you! This is just what I go by most of the time when I travel (backpacking trips or similar are excluded because packing is different when you can only bring the bare minimum).

Suggested Must-Brings

Passport! Identification! Money! Without these items, you won’t get very far in your travels. If you forget everything else but have these three items, you will be okay, uncomfortable and probably really grumpy but okay.

If you want to make sure you have more than that, then here are the rest of the things I would say are most important. Phone, phone charger, some medicines/your medications, gum, and germ-x. Another item you may or may not want to add to that list is printed out information on accommodation, rental cars, tour tickets, etc. This isn’t completely necessary because nowadays you can access all of that and save all of that to your phone but I know some people prefer have paper back-ups in case something happens to their phone.

You may be asking, Why these musts?

Passport/Identification, Money, and Phone

  • fairly obvious and straightforward (if you want me to go into detail on those then ask in the comments and I will).

Phone Charger

  • In your carry on, rather than putting it in your checked bag because flights can end up canceled, storms can happen, you may have to take a different flight, you might forget something. Basically, there are so many things that could cause you to need your phone before you arrive at your final destination and get your charger out of your bag and have a chance to charge and your phone will eventually die. Also, you do not want to have to buy a charger in the airport because their prices are marked up.

Medications (Prescription, Allergy, Pain Reliever, Vitamin C)

  • If you take medications and your bag gets lost and you need them then you may or may not be able to get more in a timely manner. If it is a long haul flight then it is likely you will be on the plane when it comes time to take them. I also suggest bringing vitamin C (or Airbornne, immune booster, etc), allergy medicine (some people may not need this but if you have pet or smoke allergies you will want them in case you get sat next to someone who smokes or has pets on the plane or in the airport and if you have grass/pollen/outdoor allergies you may want them for your final destination, in case it messes with you), pain reliever (I am prone to migraines and must bring Excidrine Migraine with me everywhere I go) the pressure from flying can cause headaches and the cramed seating can cause knee or hip aches and you never know when you may need it.


  • This one probably seems a little odd but I find it is the best helper to the dreaded ear popping pressures! And if you forget your toothbrush on a long haul flight then gum is nice to have to freshen up.


  • This seems obvious to me, but I’m a little bit germ crazy. You are traveling through airports, touch so many things that so many people touch (never touch the handrails on escalators) and then you are in close quarters with lots of people on the plane. Some of which are sick, and again touching so many things that so many people touch. And then you are given finger-food snacks (or meals on long flights) and just do yourself a favour and bring a little germ-x!

Entertainment Items to Pack

*Long-haul flights have music, movies, tv shows, and games on the flight available for your entertainment.*

  • computer & computer charger or tablet/iPad if you prefer those (but you probably don’t need all of those unless you think you do but I wouldn’t want to carry all of that)
  • headphones (with the traditional headphone jack end because that is all the planes have)
  • book or audiobook
  • music (on an iPhone, iPod, computer, tablet, walkman, etc)
  • journal/notebook
  • pen/pencil (nice to have even if you don’t bring a journal or notebook)

Toiletries Items to Pack

*I would say most of these are for long-haul flights only.*

  • toothbrush & toothpaste (this must be travel size)
  • face wipes and/or body wipes to freshen up or get ready to sleep on long-haul flights (I like to remove my makeup before sleeping)
  • moisturiser (I usually bring a little one for my face but some people also really like to have a hand lotion because flying is drying)
  • deodorant (so you can freshen up when you get off the plane or during flying if you are prone to sweating)
  • undereye patches (not something I have ever used or brought with me but I would like to – I think this would be nice to help wake up/freshen up in the last hour of your flight)

Miscellaneous Items to Pack

  • snacks!
    • hot tamales are my must-have
    • things that travel easily
    • apples are a good healthy options
    • not tuna! that stuff stinks and annoys everyone around you when you eat it on the plane
  • extra gum (needed for all flights landing and take off, to and from, and then it can be nice while traveling as well)
  • water bottle (either a refillable one from home – fill it in the airport after security – or buy one and continue to refill it after security)
  • jacket (even if you are going somewhere warm) planes are sometimes freezing and airports are always freezing – come prepared or you will be buying a sweatshirt on a stop on your way to Hawaii because you are so cold you can’t function
  • change of clothes this I have learned the hard way because my suitcase ends up lost more than most peoples, come prepared
  • swimsuit – now if you know you will not be doing any swimming skip this (my mom would tell you never to travel anywhere without a swimsuit), but if you are headed to a beach or somewhere with swimming then carry on one swimsuit just in case

Make It Your Own & Enjoy Your Trip!

This is my guide. How I pack, how I was taught to pack (with some adjustments), and how my husband packs (with his own adjustments). It is a good guide for first-time travelers but remember to make it your own! Everyone is different and will have different needs to make themselves comfortable. So look at this and adjust as needed or adjust it as you travel more and find that you prefer things a little different!

Download a FREE Carry On Packing PDF Carry On Checklist!


Happy Travels, Happy Life, Happy Go Londons!


PSA: *Something I wish everyone would remember* Migraines are horrible. Flying with them is miserable. Please, please remember that as much as you love your perfume, it may not be the best thing to douse yourself in before flying and may not be the best thing to refresh on the plane (same goes for using your most fragrant hand lotion on the flight). I love things that smell good (candles, perfume, lotion) but I get migraines often and easily and it is horrible to have someone walk by after spraying down in the bathroom and then getting a migraine and being out of commision for two-three days. The same goes for not showering…please fly freshly showered!