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11 Things You Should Always Pack in Your Carry-On

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With all the stress of traveling, and trying to pack and prepare for everything along the way, it can be so easy to forget something.

Whether you’re going on a quick weekend escape or a big Europe trip, there are 12 things you should always pack in your carry-on. Make sure you don’t forget anything important, or leave one of these essentials in a checked bag that could potentially not arrive at your destination – it happens!

Pack these 12 necessities in your carry-on so you can travel stress-free and start your trip off on the right foot.

You May Also Like: 10 Amazing Travel Essentials For Long Haul Flights

See this power bank here.

1. Phone Power Bank

This is my #1 must have in your carry-on when you’re going on any length of trip! You would be amazed at how fast your phone battery drains as you’re checking flight information on your phone, checking emails, or using maps to help you navigate wherever you’re going. When we were in Rome, we foolishly forgot our phone power bank at home and almost had a really bad situation – we were out across the city, using our maps to navigate and taking pictures of all the cool things we were seeing. 

Suddenly, we realized both of our phones were at 10% and we had no idea how to get back to the Airbnb! I frantically used my maps app to get across town so we could charge our phones, arriving with one at 1% and the other completely dead. I didn’t even know the Airbnb address off the top of my head, it was on my phone! It was almost a compete disaster. Avoid it entirely by packing a phone power bank!

2. Phone Charger

On a similar note, make sure you bring your phone charger. If you luck out and your plane has outlets, this is a great time to make sure your phone is fully charged. Odds are when you land you’ll need to contact whoever is picking you up, call an Uber or make other arrangements requiring a cell phone.

3. Small Plastic Baggies

These are so helpful during your travels, but especially if you’re traveling with only a carry-on and have hygiene and beauty products with you! Even if you have your little travel-sized products ready to go, you never know when you might need another. Some airports even require you put each item in a separate plastic bag – we ran into this in Europe. They were mad that my hand sanitizer wasn’t in its own bag, and my sister had this happen with deodorant (a solid stick of deodorant!) as well.

You never know when you’re going to get into a bind and be dealing with a fickle TSA agent. Just bring a stash of bags in case you need them, that way you won’t have to part ways with any of your products.

I also bring a couple extra with me in my carry-on just because I’ve been on trips where one I’m using tears or I have a product that leaks and I want to put it separately. You never know when you’ll need one!

See this water bottle here.

4. Empty Water Bottle

Most airports these days have filtered water bottle filling stations. It’s essential you stay hydrated while traveling, so bring an empty water bottle so you can fill up at the airport! I usually just buy a bottle of water at the airport after I get through security, but this is a much more economical way to do it, and then you’ll have a water bottle at your destination too.

5. Valuables

It happens to most of us that our checked bag gets lost at some point. It’s always so stressful, and hopefully it gets recovered eventually. 

Regardless if this has happened to you, make sure you keep all of your valuables in your carry-on bag. That means jewelry, electronics, money, and anything else of value. You always want to keep your valuables on your person so you don’t have to worry about it going missing or being stolen when out of your sight.

6. Prescriptions & Any Other Medication

Similarly to keeping your valuables on your person, always keep your prescriptions with you as well. You never know when your bag might not show up, especially if your flight gets delayed or cancelled. You don’t want to be caught without something you really need.

See this organizer case here.

7. Electronics & Accessories Organizer

Stay organized with a little travel case that keeps your electronics, cords, and accessories all neat and in order. I loved this travel case for our Europe trip, I was able to keep my phone charger, AirPods, charging cord for my other, big noise cancelling head phones, Kindle charger, and keys for when I returned all organized and easy to reach instead of in a random tangled mess in my bag.

8. Sanitizing Wipes

I always keep a stash of sanitizing wipes in my carry-on, usually to wipe down my phone when I get to my destination but sometimes I’ll wipe off the arm rests and seatbelt on the plane if I’m feeling really germaphobic. I’m convinced they never actually clean anything on a plane, let alone the high-touch items at your seat. 

Don’t even get me started on those seat-back trays! Do you think they’ve ever been cleaned?! Not a chance.

Sometimes I don’t end up using them, but I appreciate having the option to keep my immediate area clean. It’s a great way to help prevent sickness on your travels as you don’t realize how much you touch, then touch your eyes, nose and mouth. 

9. Emergency Clothes

My husband started doing this on our long-haul flight to Europe and our flights while we were over there. Being on such a long trip, so far from home, we didn’t want to take any chances not having at least one or two changes of clothes just in case.

Now, we always throw a couple changes of clothes (especially a couple pairs of fresh undies and socks!) in a compression travel cube, zip it up and throw one in the bottom of each of our carry-on’s. Hopefully you don’t end up needing them, but if your bags get lost, I’m sure you’ll be glad to have a fresh change of clothes!

See these headphones here.

10. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

I almost always wear my AirPods but they’re not the most noise cancelling option. You can still hear pretty much everything going on around you – which makes them great for running, not so great for being crammed on a plane with a bunch of potentially annoying strangers.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve skipped out on bringing my noise-cancelling headphones just because they’re big and bulky and I don’t like dealing with them. But I usually regret it!

Whether it’s a crying baby a row or two back, loud talkers next to me, or someone that feels the need to watch a video on full volume, or let their kid watch a movie on their iPad without headphones… I almost always regret it. 

You can’t control what’s going to be around you when you’re stuffed in a plane with a bunch of wildcards! But you can give yourself a little peace and quiet through the discomfort

11. Snacks

Lastly, pack some snacks! There’s nothing worse than being thousands of feet up in the sky and you feel that rumble in your belly. In my opinion, the little bag of plane snacks just doesn’t cut it – whether it’s nuts or pretzels, it’s just never what I want or filling enough to be worth eating. I always bring a couple individually wrapped bags of trail mix, Belvitas, or my new favorite, Chomp beef sticks to keep me full and avoid any travel hanger.