Carry-On Bag Packing List For Your Flight

Are you going places? We’re all guilty of over stuffing our checked-in luggage and then shoving all the extras into our free carry-on baggage.

Nobody needs a hefty excess baggage charge after months of preparing for our travels.

Some airlines are considering scrapping free carry-on baggage altogether, so figure out how to pack wisely now before you learn the hard way.

You can start by reading our ultimate carry on packing list of everything you really need by your side while in flight. 

Light Travels

Before you start working on your carry on checklist, find out exactly what your airline allows you to board with. Most of them are pretty generous when it comes to carry-ons.

The average restriction is one bag of 15 lbs measuring 22 inches x 16 inches x 8 inches.

Experienced frequent flyers have mastered the art of packing a year’s worth of gear into their carry-on baggage. We have restricted our carry on checklist to include just the essentials (and a few extras) for a long flight.

It’s in the bag

Effective packing begins with a good bag. Choose something lightweight and durable with enough pockets to keep key items separate. 

A 40 liters pack weighing in at under 3 lbs is a good choice. You may want to choose one with a separate section for a laptop or lose the extra compartments and go for the lightest weight.

You can fit more into a square bag than one with rounded corners. Compression straps will reduce the amount of cabin space you take up.

Carry-On Bag Checklist

In-Flight Entertainment

It’s going to be a long, possibly bumpy ride. If you battle to sleep on an airplane, we recommend slipping a mild sleeping pill into your pocket in case you need it.

There are times when sleep is out of the question and books are the answer here. If you don’t have a Kindle or can’t take one on the flight, a small stash of magazines is just the trick.

You can always donate them to someone else afterward. Several airlines are starting to offer in-flight Wi-Fi nowadays.

If yours does, a tablet or iPad could save you hours of boredom. You could also stock up on movies before you leave and watch them during the flight.

Don’t forget a pair of lightweight headphones to avoid alienating your traveling companions.


The amount of electronic firepower you should pack is a matter of preference and need.

All electronics should be transported in your carry on bag for safety’s sake.


If you want to update your social media profiles and stay in touch with family and friends at home, a smart phone should be sufficient.

Make sure you have it all set up for international roaming and sim cards in advance to avoid stress on arrival.


Unless you really want high-end photographs, your smart phone will do a great job of recording all your memories.

Other options are a GoPro, compact waterproof camera or Mirrorless.

Pack a tiny tripod into your camera bag and don’t forget the selfie stick.

Laptop, Tablet or Notebook

Those who need to work online while abroad or perform more complex technological tasks will need a lightweight laptop or notebook.

A laptop sleeve is an added bonus if you are traveling with one of these devices. You don’t want to lug your carry-on bag with you wherever your laptop goes.

Slip a compact USB with high storage capacity into a side pocket for storing photos and backing up your work.


Do not forget a compatible charger, there is no guarantee that you will find one at your destination. You can purchase a suitable adapter on arrival to save space now.

A USB battery pack is an optional nice-to-have device. If you are traveling with a friend, discuss which items you could share to save space.

A laptop is a likely contender for this.

Comfort Items

You don’t want to be miserable during a 12-hour flight. Small items like lotion, earplugs, an inflatable neck pillow and a few of your favorite hard candies can do much to alleviate the discomfort of air travel.

Any essential medications should already be on your carry on checklist so that they are nearby when needed. Make sure you have enough medication for your entire trip and get permission in advance for any liquid medications.

A change of clothing can be a great source of comfort in the event of a long layover or delay. Roll the items instead of folding them to save on space.

Wear a warm lightweight jacket onto the plane to avoid packing it anywhere and so that it is close at hand. If they are allowed in your carry-on luggage, a couple of snack bars are a must, especially if you don’t like airline food.


Keep your credit card with you, some airlines don’t accept cash for in-flight purchases.  Your passport and other important travel documents are also essential carry on checklist items. Staying Safe When Traveling

Anything irreplaceable should be kept with you at all times. Lost luggage happens.

I always use a front pocket travel wallet.


Good quality Ziploc bags are great for keeping your toiletries from spilling all over your bag and keeping small items separately.

Always carry only the most essential toiletry items in your carry on. The airlines have strict policies when it comes to liquids and you will be able to buy most of your requirements on arrival.

A small tube of toothpaste (under 100 ml), some face wash (50 ml) and a disposable toothbrush also come in handy. Pack a comb instead of a hairbrush.

Other essentials include sanitizing hand wipes, a small medical kit containing painkillers, plasters and burn medication, and a compact sewing kit.

Get Packing

You’ll be surprised how much space you save by following our carry on checklist. Now all you have to worry about is how to beat the jet lag.

Bon Voyage!

(photo credit: 1 – 2 – 3)

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