Whenever I book a solo trip, I pack these 20 carry-on travel essentials. I know that these items will keep me comfortable on a long flight and help me pack lighter. They can all fit into a small tote, purse, or backpack. Instead of trying to remember these essentials every time you pack, keep a travel bag or a travel shelf stocked with these items.
Without further ado, here is my list of must-have carry-on travel essentials…
Identification, Documents, and Cash
Make sure you have a valid passport with extra visa pages if you are travelling internationally. If you are travelling domestically, be sure that you have a valid and non-expired piece of identification. It’s a great idea to have some cash in your wallet and any credit cards you may need during your trip.
Keep your identification, documentation, and cash in a travel wallet. Keep your wallet in a safe place. It is wise to keep one credit card and some money separate from your purse in case it gets lost or stolen.
Most of us who have a smartphone bring it everywhere. It can be especially helpful, even invaluable when travelling. You can connect to the airport wi-fi and check your emails, access reservations and confirmations, check the weather, find directions, etc. Let friends and family know when you’ve arrived, check the time, and use your phone as a calculator. Download helpful travel apps to use for translation and currency conversion. With smartphones, you can take pictures, listen to music, or play games. It’s one of the most useful tools to carry with you.
Help pass the time by listening to music or watching movies. Headphones are a must-have. Especially if you don’t want to spend your flight chatting with the passenger next to you 😉
Before leaving the house, ensure that your devices are fully charged. Bring back-up chargers or plug-ins in case your electronics start running low.
Small Toiletry Bag and Ziploc Bag
Keep a small toiletry bag with the essentials in your carry-on and keep it fresh while travelling. When putting liquids through security at the airport, they will have to be in a Ziploc bag, so make sure you have one. Note: your bottles must be 100 ml or less.
Toothbrush, Toothpaste, and Gum
There’s nothing unpleasant as that fuzzy feeling you get on your teeth when you have skipped a brushing—or sitting beside someone talking to you and has bad breath.
When you’re on a long flight, make sure you have the carry-on travel essentials you need to keep your mouth fresh and clean. Bring a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste to brush your teeth between flights or on the plane after a meal.
It’s a great idea to have a pack of gums for in-between brushes and chew on when the plane takes off.
Chap-Stick and Lotion
Travelling can dry up your skin, so make sure you bring chapstick and a travel-size bottle of moisturiser.
Travelling can also dry out your eyes, especially if wearing contacts. Dry eyes can also make you feel more tired and uncomfortable.
Pen and Paper
A pen and a small notepad are convenient carry-on travel essentials and almost always come in handy. They can also be useful when you need to take notes or write something down that you don’t want to forget.
Sometimes a pathetic bag of airport peanuts just won’t cut it, so bring some of your favourite snacks. Just make sure, when travelling internationally, that you remember to declare any food items you have.
There’s nothing worse than having a horrible headache and nothing and no medicine. Always keep a small bottle of OTC medication (whichever brand you prefer for headaches). Include any medication you might need; these are carry-on travel essentials.
No one likes to listen to someone suck up their snot. Don’t be that person. Make sure you have a pack of tissues in your carry-on.
It’s not always easy to wash your hands regularly when travelling. You will be touching many objects that thousands of other travellers have felt and might not be properly disinfected. Sanitising wipes are great for wiping down surfaces before touching them and cleaning your hands.
Extra Pair of Socks
Keep your feet warm by packing an extra pair of socks to wear on the plane, especially if you are not wearing socks to the airport (flats or heels).
If you need silence to sleep, then earplugs are a must-have. Especially if you have an overnight flight, you will probably want to sleep through some of it. Earplugs also help if you sit close to a screaming baby throughout a flight.
Now that you’ve blocked the noise block out the light with an eye mask. This will help you sleep better and be rested once you arrive.
A Great Book
A long flight can give you the time to catch up on your reading. Bring a book (preferably not too heavy or bulky) that you can read while waiting in the airport or while up in the air.
A scarf is a great and versatile tool to have in your bag. It can keep you warm during the flight and at the airport (as a scarf or a blanket). It can also be used as a pillow if you have a window seat or a shoulder to rest your head-on.
Not being adequately hydrated can cause worse jet lag and headaches. While it’s tempting to guzzle coffee during a long trip, staying hydrated by drinking lots of water is essential. You can fill it up for free at the fountains by bringing a water bottle instead of paying crazy airport prices for bottled water.
While you are stuck on a plane, try to use your time productively. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with watching a movie or listening to music. However, suppose you’ve been looking for time to read, write, or study a new language. In that case, a long flight can be the perfect opportunity.
So… What are your carry-on travel essentials?