10 Items You Should Always Have in Your Travel Carryon

If you’re planning to travel soon—whether it’s for a personal or professional affair—you’ll need to pack the right essentials. These not only include the things in your suitcase or check-in bag but also the things in your carryon. Regardless of the nature and duration of your flight, the contents of your carry-on are vital in ensuring that you have a comfortable and hassle-free trip.

Even with the airport and airline security measures, checked-in baggage can still get lost, stolen, or mishandled. This is why a well-packed carry-on can be a great fail-safe in these situations. Plus, even if you don’t have trouble with your suitcase, it’s always good to have your necessities within arm’s reach during a flight.

To help you with your packing, below are ten carry-on essentials that you definitely shouldn’t skip out on.

A Fresh Change of Clothes

You’ll want to make sure that you’re all freshened up before arriving at your destination. Being seated for long periods can cause your clothes to become wrinkled and make you look dishevelled. Additionally, in the event that your luggage gets lost, you’ll want to have a clean set of clothes with you so that you don’t feel pressured to buy new ones as soon as you get off your flight. Hence, it’s best to pack extra garments and underwear in your carry-on.

Stick with simple yet stylish clothing pieces that are comfortable and location-appropriate. For example, if you’ll be heading to a place with cooler weather, be sure to bring clothes with thicker fabrics or more coverage. Leggings are generally great for travel, as they’re lightweight, comfortable, and stretchable.

Plus, they can easily be rolled up and placed inside your carry-on without consuming too much space. Scarves are also ideal—unlike sweaters or hoodies, they can keep you warm without being bulky or heavy.

Basic Toiletries

Photo by Timur Weber

Clothes aren’t the only thing you’ll need to freshen up. Having a few basic toiletries on hand can be a lifesaver, especially during lengthier flights. Pack a toothbrush and toothpaste so you can brush your teeth between meals and before you sleep. Since the air inside planes can get quite dry, it’s also good to pack some facial wipes, lip balm, and lotion so you can stay moisturized.

If you’re bringing liquids, be sure that they meet the exact specifications of your airport and airline. Generally, liquids are required to be kept in 100 ml containers, which should all fit inside a 1-litre zip bag. Of course, it’s always best to check with your airline before packing, just to be safe.

Keeping a pack of antibacterial wipes is also a must when travelling. Various surfaces on an airplane can be dirty, so it’s recommended to give them a good wipe down. Some spots that tend to carry a lot of germs include arm rests and tray tables.


It’s best to place daily medications inside your carryon. This keeps them safe and secure in case something happens to your checked-in luggage. Buying new medications can prove to be particularly difficult when you’re in a foreign country, as they may be pricey or unavailable. Be sure to pack enough medication for the whole trip and not just for your flight.

If you need to take liquid medication or bring a needle with you, do ask your doctor for a travel letter. This way, you can notify airline or airport security of your needs, which will help you avoid inconveniences caused by travel restrictions.

IDs and Other Important Documents

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok

Always keep your important travel documents inside your carryon. These include items like your passport, IDs, tickets, itineraries, and hotel reservations. After all, the last thing you want is to lose these documents during your travels. While it’s good to have digital copies of these documents, it’s also wise to print them out. This way, you won’t have to rely on Wi-Fi or phone signals to access them. In addition, you’ll need physical backups in case your phone gets lost or broken.

Fragile Items and Valuables

Fragile items and valuables should also be kept in your carryon at all times. Check-in luggage tends to get tossed around quite a lot, which could break delicate belongings. Expensive items like jewellery and electronics should be secured in your carryon to prevent them from getting lost or stolen. Cash, credit cards, and ATM cards should also be stashed in your carryon for safekeeping.

Chargers for Your Electronic Devices

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok

If you’re travelling with any form of electronic devices—such as a tablet, phone, or laptop—always be sure to keep its respective charger in your carryon. Even if your device has a particularly long battery life, you never know when you’ll need the extra juice.

In fact, many airlines and airports come with special charging stations for this reason. Packing your phone charger is particularly crucial, especially if you’re using your mobile device to communicate, navigate, and store digital travel documents. It may also help to bring a portable battery—just make sure that it meets the maximum watt-hours required by your airline.

Portable Entertainment

Flights can get boring if you don’t have something to keep you occupied. That’s why it’s always good to pack some entertainment inside your carryon. You can load great movies onto your tablet, laptop, or phone. You can also listen to podcasts, audiobooks, or music.

Reading is another great way to pass the time. If physical books or magazines are a little too heavy to keep inside your carryon, consider taking an e-reader with you. This way, you can have hundreds of titles at your fingertips without having to carry so much.

Empty Water Bottle

Photo by Tofros.com

Keeping hydrated is crucial, especially when you’re flying. Since planes have drier air, it’s easier to get dehydrated. While you can purchase bottled water after getting through airport security, it’s more economical and sustainable to bring your own empty water bottle.

A collapsible water bottle works great, as its compact form won’t take up much space in your carryon. A bottle with its own filtering system is also ideal. This way, you can fill it with regular tap water once you pass security checks.


There are a number of reasons why packing snacks inside your carryon are a good idea. You might not like airplane food, you may have a dietary restriction, or you might want to save money. Whatever the reason is, it’s always good to have something to eat on a long journey.

Keeping this in mind, it’s best to bring solid or wrapped food that is easy to eat on the go. For example, sliced fruits, nuts, granola bars, and sandwiches are some tasty and nutritious options to consider.

Neck Pillow and Blanket

Planning to catch up on sleep during your journey? Whether you’re going on an overnight flight or a fairly short one, it helps to bring a foldable neck pillow and a blanket. Though some airlines do provide blankets to their passengers, it’s more hygienic to use your own.

Meanwhile, a neck pillow can prevent your neck from getting sore and your head from lolling to the side while you sleep. If you’re particularly sensitive to light and sound, it may also help to pack an eye mask and earplugs in your carryon.

Travel opens you to a lot of new experiences, including some that may be unpleasant or inconvenient. This is why it’s important to prepare a carryon that can supply you with everything you need to stay comfortable, even during tough circumstances. By packing the essentials listed above, you can ensure that your trip is smooth and comfortable one.

Simone Ribeiro
Hi! I'm Simone, a citizen of Britain, where I live for over a decade, and of Brazil, where I was born. Midlands Traveller is where I combine my passion for travelling, business and an Eco-friendly lifestyle.

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