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42 Carry-on Essentials T+L Editors Can’t Travel Without in 2024

We put together this list of travel products our team of globe-trotting editors love to pack for journeys of all types.

international travel carry on necessities

In This Article

  • Why Trust T+L

Travel + Leisure / Alli Waataja

Travel + Leisure editors are always on the go so we asked our team of globetrotters to share their favorite carry-on essentials. Along with a slew of product recommendations, they delivered helpful tips and recommendations to consider for your next trip, too.

From handy tech gadgets you didn't know existed to travel-size skin care products for in-flight facials, our team knows a thing or two about getting the most out of a flight with the help of these 42 travel products that are travel-editor approved. Plus, all the items are TSA-approved and small enough to fit in your cabin bag.

White+Warren Cashmere Travel Wrap


“Regulating the air temperature on board a plane is always a bit of a challenge — I find it’s best to layer, that way if you get too hot you can take off a sweater or jacket (and vice versa). One ‘layer’ that proves to be useful, time and again, is a cashmere travel wrap from White and Warren. You can use it as a shawl to keep warm; a blanket while you sleep; even as a pillow, folded delicately into a tight little square. It also looks great when you step off the plane, wearing a chic accessory!” — Jacqui Gifford, Editor in Chief

Rhode Peptide Lip Treatment


"My lips can get extremely dry while traveling so I'm a big fan of the Rhode Peptide Lip Treatment. The formula is glossy and hydrating, which means it soothes my cracked lips while adding a stunning sheen to finish the job. I love the vanilla scented one but the unscented option is nice as well, since it truly doesn't have a scent." — Anna Popp, Commerce Writer

Cadence The Originals Set

“I love beauty products almost as much as I love organization. Cadence combines the two as I can fit a shocking amount in these little 0.56-ounce capsules — about a week’s worth of cleanser and even more for serums and toner. My favorite part is that you can customize the magnetic label ’tiles’ with whatever names or icons you want (and get different hues to color code your products and order additional tiles separately to swap). They take up very little space and are great for skin care, or even jewelry and medicine, too. The tops screw on securely and it’s so easy to get every last drop out — with or without spoons — before cleaning (especially compared to standard reusable bottles). If I just add makeup and these larger 3-ounce pouches for my hair care, my entire at-home routine is sorted on the go.” — Morgan Ashley Parker, Associate Editorial Director

Bioderma Makeup Remover Wipes

“I like to have makeup wipes (like these Bioderma wipes ) in my carry-on bag so I can take my makeup off during a long-haul flight and freshen up before I reach my destination. I always have a good moisturizer on hand, too, like this one from Drunk Elephant , to combat that dry plane air and keep my skin hydrated and happy.” — Elizabeth Rhodes, Special Projects Editor

Vlando Small Travel Jewelry Box

“When most people think of travel organizers, they picture large packing cubes meant to be stuffed in checked luggage. But when your checked bags end up lost for hours (or even days) at a time, you’ll wish you’d stowed a few extra items in your carry-on. At 4 x 4 x 2 inches, Vlando’s Small Travel Jewelry Box is compact enough to easily store in any carry-on bag, yet it’s spacious enough to hold nearly a dozen pieces of jewelry and other small items like makeup and medicine bottles. It even comes in 28 colors and with removable dividers, so you can customize it to fit your specific travel needs.” — Hillary Maglin, Associate Commerce Editor

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

“I'm a firm believer these are the best earbuds Apple has released. I fly between coasts every few months, which means I'm sitting on long flights frequently and I always keep my AirPods in since they block out the pesky airplane engine hum. They easily fit in my pocket, purse, or carry-on and the different-sized rubber ear tips make it easy to find the most comfortable fit to wear the buds for hours on end without ear pain.” — Anna Popp, Commerce Writer

Ekrist Portable Charger Power Bank

“I basically never leave the house without my portable charger power bank, especially when I’m traveling. When you use your phone for so many essential functions, from texts, calls, and social media to maps, photos, and your calendar, it’s bound to run out of battery at the most inconvenient time. This fast-charging power bank can charge your phone up to eight times and can even charge multiple devices at once. It’s totally worth it for long travel days and everything in between.” — Sophie Mendel, Commerce Editor

Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask

“Dry airplane cabins can really do a number on your lips, so just any travel ChapStick won't do. This mask is packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. It's meant to repair dry lips overnight, but I use it day and night — and always, always in flight.”  — Nina Ruggiero, Digital Editorial Director

Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet

“I find that I get my best reading done on vacation, but I hate taking up the precious space in my suitcase with books. The Kindle Fire has been a mainstay in my carry-on since I got it for my birthday years ago, and I even recently learned that you can connect it to your local library to check out books throughout your trip. It's super compact, and also holds a charge all day long which is essential for longer flights.” — Merrell Readman, Commerce Writer

Bevledge Airplane Window Organization Station

"This nifty little cup holder has made enjoying in-flight refreshments so much easier. There’s no more juggling multiple beverages (hey, I always need a couple) while trying to fit my laptop or meal on a tiny tray. It also has a slot that’s great for keeping track of my phone, and a space to hang up my glasses for naps. I’ve used it on four different airlines and several different planes so far, and it has fit neatly on the window frame every time." — Lydia Price, Senior Commerce Editor

Travalo Milano Perfume Atomizer

“I've always been a big fragrance and perfume lover who likes to change them up daily depending on my mood. Traveling with perfumes can be a hassle, especially in a carry-on when you have to worry about delicacy and bottle size. With the Travalo Milano, you fill them up directly from any and every one of your favorite fragrances. They're shatterproof, leakproof, pressure-tested, and TSA-approved. Plus, their fun-colored vegan leather casing keeps them looking chic and sophisticated. With an affordable price point you can even get a few of their trio set to bring as many fragrances away with you as desired.” — Alessandra Amodio, Associate Photo Editor

USAMS Multi-Charging Cable

“I always toss this handy multi-charging cable in my carry-on since it never fails to come in handy at some point during my journey – even if it's just while I'm sitting on the plane. Use it to charge your Kindle, phone, Airpods, external battery, and more, all at the same time. It's such a time saver, especially if there are limited outlets in your hotel room.” — Sophie Mendel, Commerce Editor

Care.e.on En Route Essentials 5-piece Kit

“This cute little set has everything I need for a mid-air spa day. I can sanitize my hands before using the other three goodies — hydrating pads, a skin mist, and a creamy mask — to treat my face. I've used it both during the flight and in the airport arrivals lounge before heading out for the day off a red-eye.” Morgan Ashley Parker, Associate Editorial Director

Owala FreeSip Water Bottle

“Ever since I read a T+L article about why you shouldn't drink water from the plane during your flight, I've become insistent on packing an empty water bottle in my carry-on that I can fill up in the terminal before I board. This Owala water bottle is perfect because it has a built-in straw as well as a locking cap so I never have to worry about spilling all over myself (or my belongings) during the flight. Plus, it has a slim design that easily fits into the pocket of my favorite backpack.” — Merrell Readman, Commerce Writer

Hill House Home The Ellie Nap Dress

Hill House Home

“I’m always nervous that my checked luggage will get lost, so I always stick a packing cube filled with the essentials in my carry-on bag (even if I’m just bringing a personal item on board). For me, that means underwear, socks (I love these Bombas socks when I travel), a hairbrush, deodorant, a light sweater or jacket, and an easy dress I can throw on after getting off the plane. For my last few flights, I’ve packed a Hill House Nap Dress in my carry-on so I can change out of my ’plane clothes’ as soon as possible when I arrive.” — Elizabeth Rhodes, Special Projects Editor

Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack

Dagne Dover

"As someone who still struggles to pack light (working on it) having something like a sling bag or a small purse really helps me keep my most important travel items within close reach. I love this one from Dagne Dover because it's the perfect way to keep my passport, chapstick, credit cards, and other valuables closeby. I'm also a fan of the lightweight and cozy neoprene material." — Jasmine Grant, Senior Commerce Editor

Quip Adult Electric Toothbrush with Metal Handle

“I always pack my toothbrush in my carry-on because you don't want to get stuck without a toothbrush if your luggage gets lost or your flight gets delayed overnight. This one comes with a cap so it's easy to throw in your bag.” — Jackie Cucco, Commerce Testing Editor

Away The Insider Packing Cubes

"I can’t believe there was ever a time that I traveled without packing cubes, but now I won’t pack my carry-on without the Insider Packing Cubes from Away. The various sizes ensure that everything that I need for my trip has a place and together, they help me save space and stay organized. For short trips, I’ve used the smaller cubes as bag organizers and toiletry bags — they’re so versatile." — Emily Belfiore, Commerce Editor

Rare Beauty Blot & Glow Touch-Up Kit

“My dry skin tends to over-produce oil to compensate, so after a few hours on a plane or in a car, my face looks pretty shiny. An easy way to combat this (and arrive at my destination looking somewhat made up without busting out my foundation and concealer) is to mattify my skin with Rare Beauty’s Blot & Glow Touch Up Kit. It comes with a pre-powdered makeup sponge as well as oil-absorbing sheets, which I usually alternate between a few times during my flight and throughout the day. The products are neatly packed into a mirrored compact which easily fits into a purse or carry-on.” — Hillary Maglin, Associate Commerce Editor

Pacsafe Women's Citysafe CX 17L

“I’ve owned this backpack for years, and it’s my go-to bag for travel. Its professional style and padded laptop sleeve make it perfect for work trips , but I also love it for general travel — it has locking zippers to keep my belongings safe, a trolley sleeve for easy carrying with a suitcase, and two outside water bottle pockets.” — Jamie Hergenrader, Commerce Director

Garnett Hill Cashmere Socks

Garnett Hill

“I’m a firm believer that you can look cute while traveling without sacrificing comfort so I turn to quiet luxury travel accessories like these cashmere socks. It’s basically like a soft and cozy cashmere sweater for your feet and the socks look nice while on, too. Best of all, they aren’t even the slightest bit itchy or too hot.” Anna Popp, Commerce Writer

Veriphy Core Trio Gift Set

“This skincare set is the perfect addition to your in-flight toiletries. I love a skincare routine that's easy to follow and keeps my skin clear and glowing, and Veriphy absolutely does it all in four easy steps. Plus, the bottles are absolutely beautiful so you'll love leaving them on your counter whether at home or at your hotel.” — Taylor Fox, Commerce Updates Writer

Carhartt Knitted Cuff Beanie

“Trains and planes always have the AC on blast, which is why I always pack a knit cap like this one. On long-haul flights in particular, it's toasty — and also doubles as an eye shade that never gets lost.” — Paul Brady, News Director

Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones


One of our picks for the best noise-canceling headphones on the market, this pair impressed us with superior noise-canceling abilities that could block out sounds like a screaming baby, an ambulance siren, and car honking.

“[They are] equally adept at blocking out the chaos and noise of a busy airport, as well as flight noise, and light enough to wear for the entire trip.” — Mark Prigg, VP Commerce

Twelve South AirFly Pro

“I'm not a fan of airline-supplied headphones, so this genius Bluetooth wireless audio transmitter always has a spot in my carry-on. By plugging it into the headphone jack, it connects with my AirPods to allow me to listen to the airplane seatback TV and even lets me share audio with another set of AirPods. I love this because my fiancé and I can enjoy the same in-flight movie at the same time without having to split a pair of headphones. “ — Kayla Becker, Senior Commerce Editor

Tom Beckbe Field Hat

“I'm all about a durable hat these days, since they help me to keep cool and protected on any adventure-focused trip. This field hat from Alabama-based Tom Beckbe is easy to pack since the crown can be crushed--not every hat has that capability. It is also made from wax shelter cloth, ideal for rainy days or time spent fly fishing.” — Jacqui Gifford, Editor in Chief

Pear Compression Crew Compression Socks

“While I love the anti-swelling benefits of compression socks, I don’t want to struggle to put them on (or take them off) after I’ve left home, especially if I’m wearing leggings. The typical knee-highs look like something I’d definitely want to cover up (and remove ASAP), but these short compression socks are so cute that I find myself wanting to keep them on — and even display them on top of my pants. Personally, I’m a fan of the 'Be Kind’ style if you can find them in your size but the Sporty Crew’s cute, too.” — Morgan Ashley Parker, Associate Editorial Director

Ouai Hair Oil

“It can be hard to justify splurging on travel-sized toiletries, but a little goes a long way with this Ouai hair oil that I've been using for months now (at home and on trips) to help keep my hair frizz-free in even the most humid environments.” — Alexandra Domrongchai, Commerce Writer

Mark & Graham Hanging Packing Cube

Mark & Graham

“I am a very strategic packer but once I get to my destination, it can turn into a tornado of clothes and shoes very quickly. I love using this hanging packing cube since it’s basically a portable dresser with shelves to keep things off the floor and organized. It fits into a carry-on perfectly and all I have to do is hang it up in a closet for effortless organization.” — Anna Popp, Commerce Writer

Rothy’s Mary Jane Flats

"I recently hopped onto the Mary Jane trends with no other than the pair that ignited the revival in the first place. These Rothy's Mary Jane's are a best-seller for a reason, and consider myself influenced. They hardly take up any room in my suitcase and are my secret weapon to elevate any look. Even better, they're also incredibly comfortable, and feel like I'm walking around town in slippers." — Alexandra Domrongchai, Commerce Writer

Dieux Skin Forever Eye Mask

"I'm all about optimizing my time on the plane whether it's doing work, catching up on e-mails, or indulging in a skincare ritual. These reusable eye masks are easy to travel with and I slap them on in flights to multi-task. (I was admittedly self-conscious the first few times but fellow travelers always end up paying a compliment and/or asking where it's from.)" — Susmita Baral, Travel Edito r

Marshall Marshall Monitor II ANC

Courtesy of Best Buy

I love over-the-ear headphones (due to a totally realistic fear of losing an earbud in my seat) but the cases for most models take up way too much room in my personal item. These headphones not only sound great, they fold up to a compact size fitting in an included canvas sack that slips inside my purse or can be attached to the outside of my bag with a carabiner. — Morgan Ashley Parker, Associate Editorial Director

Vapur Flexible Water Bottle

"I haven't flown without a refillable water bottle in years but recently swapped out my longtime favorite aluminum bottle for this ultra-lightweight collapsible one from Vapur. It holds the same amount of water as my bulkier, heavier bottle, folds up compactly, is nice to drink from (vibe: drinking a Capri Sun pouch full of water, but without the annoying straw), and it makes my carry-on noticeably lighter." — Skye Senterfeit, Deputy Photo Editor

Coach Lowline Low Top Sneaker

“The cool sneaker revolution continues! I love packing a fun, comfortable, statement pair of trainers in my carry-on to get me through anything: a business meetings, a long day of touring a city, even an impromptu workout.” — Jacqui Gifford, Editor in Chief

Topicals Faded Under Eye Brightening & Clearing Eye Masks

"As an editor, I stay on the go, which means a lot of flights. The airport hustle may be exhausting, but I ever look like it when I land because of these eye masks from Topicals. The cooling hydrogel cools, hydrates, de-puffs, and fades dark circles so I always look ready for business. Plus, they make for cool selfies on social." — Danielle Pointdujour, Senior Travel Editor

Satechi USB Type-A to Type-C Adapter

“These days it seems like every smartphone and tablet uses a USB-C power connector. And that's a problem when you realize that most planes only offer in-seat power by way of a USB-A connector. The fix is this super-affordable adapter that lives full time in my go-to carry-on bag.” — Paul Brady, News Director

Dagne Dover Mila Toiletry Organizer

"There are some toiletries I always keep in my carry-on, like a toothbrush and deodorant, in case my flight gets delayed or my luggage gets lost. This toiletry organizer doesn't take up much space but helps me stay organized with adjustable compartments to keep bottles upright. It also comes in a larger size if you want something bigger for your full-size bottles." — Jackie Cucco, Commerce Testing Editor

Ekster Tech Case

“Between my phone, iPad, laptop, headphones, and camera my charging cords become an absolute mess when I travel unless I assign each item their own space. This tech case makes that organization simple (and beautiful) so I avoid tangles or forgetting any charges behind as I travel from place to place. It even fits some of my smaller items like earbuds and portable chargers to keep everything I need together.” — Taylor Fox, Commerce Updates Writer

Nuebiome Hand Cream

“I’m a nervous flier with dry skin, so I always end up picking at my nails and cuticles. One way I curb this is by traveling with a hydrating hand cream, and my current favorite is the Amaretto and Biotic Hand Remedy from Nuebiome. It’s intensely moisturizing and silky while still being lightweight and fast-absorbing, which means no uncomfortable greasiness, stickiness, and general unpleasantness. It also has a lovely scent that instantly relaxes me.” — Emily Belfiore, Commerce Editor

Lush The All Rounder Bodycare Discovery Kit

“Curating the perfect toiletry kit can be tough, and after years of subjecting my skin to whatever travel-sized toiletries were the cheapest at the drugstore, I've discovered my new go-to kit from Lush. This particular kit stays ready-to-go in my travel bag that keeps me moisturized, clean, and overall feeling good. I also have always loved everything from Lush, and admired their clean ingredients and products that genuinely work.” — Alexandra Domrongchai, Commerce Writer

Hobo Fern Belt Bag

“I've never in my life been a fanny pack person, but this small and sleek leather belt bag from Hobo converted me. I like to keep it in my carry-on so I can throw it on crossbody-style as soon as I land and be ready to shop, eat, and see the sights. It's the perfect hands-free option, too, which is convenient when I'm also carrying my luggage around. I've worn it all over the world and it always looks stylish, no matter my outfit or the time of year.” — Hillary Maglin, Associate Commerce Editor

Dr. Scholl's Time-off Sneaker

“I actually bought my first pair of Dr. Scholl's sneakers from an old T+L article from 2019. I had no idea that this pair would go on to accompany me to over 100,000-plus steps, multiple international trips, sprints through TSA, and everything in between. They're always the first thing on my packing list and I can't recommend them enough.” — Alexandra Domrongchai, Commerce Writer

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Commerce writer Anna Popp writes various researched and tested roundups. She has been travel writing since 2018 and product testing since 2021. Anna collaborated with T+L editors to create a list of carry-on essentials our editors can’t travel without.

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international travel carry on necessities

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What to Pack in a Carry-on Bag

international travel carry on necessities

Packing your carry-on bag for a flight is exciting – but it can also be overwhelming. With a little planning and a concise list of airport and in-flight essentials, you can maximize space and be prepared for your journey.

To help you decide what to pack in your carry-on bag, our team compiled this list of must-have items. Download the packing list here to use while you prep for your next trip, then read on to learn more about what to pack.

Carry-on packing list

Travel wallet, passport holder, toiletry bag, tsa-approved liquids bag and compliant containers, prescription medications, glasses case, travel pillow, packing cubes, tech organizer, luggage tracker, zippered pouches and reusable silicone bags, mini clip bag, hand sanitizer, bluetooth wireless adapter, wired earbuds or headphones, e-reader or a great book, travel adapter/converter, travel first-aid kit, reusable water bottle, activities or games, light jacket, change of clothing.

Protect your credit cards and cash with an RFID wallet like the Travelon RFID Blocking Single Zip Wallet , which prevents scammers from wirelessly stealing your personal information. This travel wallet is especially useful since it can also hold most smartphones.

If you're traveling internationally, an option like the TIGARI Passport Holder can protect your travel document and make it easy to locate in your carry-on bag. You'll need access to your passport at airport security, when you board the plane and when you're filling out entry forms, so keep the passport holder as well as a pen within reach. Once you arrive at your destination, put the passport wallet somewhere safe at your lodging or – if you feel inclined to keep it with you – stow it in your travel purse, belt bag or backpack to ensure it's safe while you explore.

Young woman showing cosmetics permitted in carry-on baggage. Close up of hands.

Getty Images

Pack your toiletry bag in your carry-on so you can easily freshen up and so that you'll have essentials like toothpaste and deodorant in the event your checked luggage is lost in transit. Also consider packing toiletries that are useful for travel (particularly the dry air on planes), even if they're not part of your daily routine at home.

U.S. News senior travel editor Marisa Méndez recommends including a facial moisturizer and a body lotion in your toiletry bag. "My skin always dries out on flights and it's nice to have something to soothe my skin," she says.

"I always love having facial spray to freshen up after the flight," says Elizabeth Von Tersch , also a senior travel editor at U.S. News. She always keeps one in her purse. " Mario Badescu and Evian are great." These facial sprays help to moisturize your skin after the drying environment on a plane or give you a little midday pick-me-up.

When packing your carry-on bag for a flight, you'll want to have a clear quart-sized bag that meets Transportation Security Administration guidelines for liquids and gels. Some Dopp kits or toiletry bags include a removable bag for travel-size liquids, or you can buy this reusable TSA-approved clear bag on Amazon . Put any liquids or gels you're traveling with in this bag, including shampoo, lotion, liquid makeup items and hand sanitizer.

Keep in mind that all liquids and gels must be in travel-size bottles or containers measuring 3.4 ounces or less. Remember: You'll need to remove this clear quart-sized bag from your carry-on bag at security, so consider packing it in an external pocket or an easy-to-find spot in your carry-on suitcase. To learn more about TSA regulations, consult our article about what is allowed in a carry-on .

Never stow prescription medications in checked baggage : If luggage is lost or delayed, replacing these medications while traveling can be extremely challenging or even impossible. If you take multiple medications, consider a travel pill sorter like the EZY Dose Pill Organizer , available for about $5 on Amazon.

Whether you wear glasses for vision correction or you're packing your favorite pair of sunglasses, keeping them protected while stowed in your carry-on is essential. If you're bringing multiple pairs, a case like the foldable Dagne Dover Remi Glasses Case can hold up to three pairs, or the Lug Eyeglass Holder & Mini Pill Case works well for eyeglasses and contacts.

Woman using red Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow in window seat of plane.

Courtesy of Cabeau

Resting throughout your journey can help you feel refreshed when you reach your destination and make the time pass a little quicker. But nothing can (literally) cramp your style like a stiff neck from sleeping wrong. Choose a comfortable neck pillow for travel like the top-rated Cabeau Evolution S3 or the MLVOC Travel Pillow (less than $30 on Amazon). For a travel pillow that doubles as a packing cube, consider the Tube pillow , which holds up to three days' worth of clothing.

Packing cubes aren't just for organizing clothing and shoes. Maximize space in your carry-on bag with these handy travel compartments . While Eagle Creek's PACK-IT line features the top-rated compression packing cubes on the market, many travelers also swear by the Veken Packing Cubes , which are usually available for $20 or less on Amazon. To maximize space even more, consider Lug's compression packing cubes .

If you're planning to travel with jewelry, watches or items that would be difficult to replace, be sure to put these in your carry-on bag, as checked items run the risk of being misplaced. For jewelry, a compact case that is easy to spot like the Lug Mini Swizzle is ideal for rings, cufflinks or earrings.

It's easy to let your charging cords get lost at the bottom of your bag or get your headphones tangled somewhere in your tote. A handy tech organizer such as the CALPAK Tech Organizer or the BAGSMART Tech Organizer , with zippered compartments and sections for specific cords, can help reduce tangled messes (and the need for you to search for your essentials in a tight airplane cabin).

Even though you'll have your carry-on bag with you, it's still a good idea to have a luggage tracker like an Apple AirTag or a Tile Pro securely attached to your bag. In the event you and your bag get separated, you'll be able to track down where you parted ways (because when you're jet-lagged it's easy to be a bit absent-minded).

Smaller than packing cubes, zippered pouches and silicone bags like the Stasher Silicone Reusable Storage Bags are perfect for storing everything from snacks to scrunchies. If traveling with family, consider different colored pouches for each traveler's items so you can easily tell them apart without removing everything from the bag.

Get a handy little bag with a carabiner clip, such as the CALPAK Luka Key Pouch , to securely attach to the outside of your bag for quick-grab items like gum, hand sanitizer or individual travel wipes . Once you're at your destination, you can clip it on a belt loop or use the elastic band to slide it on your wrist for your room key, lip gloss and other small essentials.

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Woman using hand sanitizer on plane.

Let's face it – traveling can introduce your body to a host of unwanted germs. Carrying a bottle of travel hand sanitizer will keep your hands clean on the go, even if there's not a bathroom nearby. To disinfect surfaces like airplane tray tables, arm rests or tables, consider having a pack of disinfecting wipes at your disposal as well.

During a flight, the low humidity and high altitude can have a drying effect on your skin and lips. To combat the dry air, consider packing a hydrating lip balm like this new stick option by Aquaphor . What's more, if you choose a balm over a liquid moisturizer, you won't need to store this product in your clear TSA-approved liquids bag.

In-flight entertainment can help your travel day go faster, but being tethered to the seatback with wired headphones can feel a bit constricting. Plus, you may have to unplug to let your seat mates in or out. Avoid those troubles and connect your wireless headphones to the in-flight system with Twelve South's AirFly ($35 or less on Amazon), which wirelessly transmits audio via Bluetooth.

If you'd prefer to connect directly to the in-flight entertainment to watch a movie (or maybe just tune out your seatmates), buy some inexpensive wired earbuds like this well-rated set by Jogteg . You can keep them in your carry-on so you're always ready, even on flights where they don't pass out complimentary headsets.

Having a book or magazine in your carry-on bag is always a good idea. Whether you encounter a delayed flight, a long layover or a plane with less than stellar in-flight entertainment, a good book will help pass the time.

On everything from red-eye flights to international jaunts, a good eye mask can block out light from overhead, the seatback screens and plane windows. The Nodpod Sleep Mask is especially relaxing since it's weighted.

"Even if you plan to grab a bite at the airport or on the plane (if that's an option), pack some snacks," says Amanda Norcross , content and SEO strategist for travel at U.S. News. "Flying is unpredictable and stressful for many travelers, and 'hanger' only makes things worse." Trail mix, granola bars, crackers, pretzels, dried fruit and popcorn are some good snack options you may want to throw in your carry-on. Also put chewing gum in your carry-on to freshen breath and help with ear popping.

It's not always easy to find a charging station at the airport, and there are restrictions when it comes to packing batteries in your carry-on baggage for any flight. One option that meets Federal Aviation Administration guidelines is the Anker 537 Power Bank (PowerCore 26K for Laptop) . This device can charge a laptop, smartphone or tablet quickly, to keep your devices running even on a long flight.

A hand holding a travel adapter.

For international travel – since different countries use different plug shapes – packing a universal adapter or converter will enable you to charge your devices and other electronics. Before purchasing, consider what your needs will be, especially regarding the shape of the wall outlet plugs and the voltage of the countries you'll be visiting.

A travel adapter such as the EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter on Amazon makes plugs from the U.S. fit into electrical outlets around the world, whereas a travel converter like the ALLWEI International Travel Adapter converts the electricity voltage. If you're traveling overseas from the U.S., you'll need both of these devices to use electronics like laptops, curling irons and hair straighteners (unless your device is dual voltage, like the BaBylissPRO Nano Mini Straightening Iron ).

For minor injuries like blisters from new shoes or unexpected cuts and scrapes, pack a first-aid kit with Band-Aids and triple antibiotic ointment like Neosporin in your bag.

Woman opening a reusable water bottle on a plane.

Staying hydrated while traveling is a must. Pack a reusable water bottle like the Corkcicle Canteen Triple Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle to fill up at the airport before your flight and refill throughout your travels. Even better – an insulated bottle will stay cold for hours.

Whether it's a long flight or layover (or maybe you just need a good distraction), having some activities like a miniature coloring book and mini colored pencils or small packable games can be really useful.

"I took a small coloring book and a small set of pencils on a flight once and it was life-changing," Méndez says. U.S. News senior digital producer for travel Leilani Osmundson says she and her husband love to bring a deck of cards and portable two-player games to pass the time.

"I typically wear a lightweight jacket on the plane to free up space in my carry-on," says Norcross. "If the plane is too warm, I can easily stuff it under the seat in front of me with my backpack." If you're in need of a simple yet effective packable jacket , check out the Amazon Essentials Puffer Jacket .

Whether your coffee spills off your tray table or you lose your checked baggage, an extra outfit is handy to have. Pack a versatile outfit (including socks and underwear) into your carry-on bag so you have a backup option, or perhaps have your swimwear and flip-flops ready to head directly to the beach the moment you arrive. For tired or swollen feet, having a pair of compression socks and a change of walking shoes can make your travel day much more comfortable.

What not to pack in a carry-on bag

When packing a carry-on bag or suitcase, it's important to note that some items are prohibited on all flights, due to Federal Aviation Administration regulations. The prohibited list includes aerosol products (such as anti-static spray or pepper spray), lithium or lithium-ion batteries, firearms and ammunition, flammables, and explosives. For more details on what you can and can't pack in your carry-on, visit the TSA's What Can I Bring? and the FAA's Pack Safe websites.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Rachael Hood loves to see how much she can fit in her carry-on bag. She always brings a few snacks, a good read and little luxuries to make the journey comfortable. Hood used her personal travel experience, along with her retail background and research expertise, to curate this list.

You might also be interested in:

  • Can I Use My Own Airplane Seat Belt Extender?
  • The Top Luggage Brands
  • Carry-on Luggage Sizes by Airline
  • What to Do If Your Flight Is Canceled
  • The Best Travel Insurance Companies

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international travel carry on necessities

  • 2 Compression Socks
  • 3 Sunglasses
  • 4 Passport Holder
  • 6 Water Bottle
  • 8 Cheek and Lip Stain
  • 9 Mini Purse
  • 10 Neck Pillow
  • 11 Under-Eye Mask
  • 12 Headphones
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  • 16 Travel Wrap
  • 17 Dry Shampoo
  • 18 Jet Lag Remedy
  • 19 E-reader

19 Items to Pack in Your Carry-On for Every Flight

From cute passport holders to iPhone power banks to no-mess makeup remover, we've rounded up a packing list of 19 must-have essentials to stow in your personal item carry-on—no matter what destination you're bound for next. Don't get on the plane without them!

Style + Travel Editor | Instagram @jackiehoman | jackiehoman.com

See recent posts by Jackie Homan & Siobhan Reid

State backpack

First thing’s first: the personal item-sized bag that will fit the essentials below. We’re all for maxing out our carry-on allowance, and that’s where a spacious, durable backpack proves invaluable. Our go-to: this simple, streamlined pick from STATE Bags . It’s roomy enough to fit everything you’ll need by your side on the plane, and it comes with three pockets and a 17″ laptop sleeve.

Compression Socks

Compression Socks

If you’ve ever walked barefoot through airport security, you know the importance of having a backup pair of socks in your carry-on. On long flights, experts recommend compression socks , which boost circulation and help prevent swelling and blood clots—plus keep your toes nice and toasty in chilly airplane cabins.


Sometimes, a great concealer and cooling eye gel just won’t hide the effects of a long-haul flight. In those cases, we like to hide behind a pair of dark, oversized sunglasses like these ones from Warby Parker.

RELATED: 18 Essentials You Should NEVER Forget to Pack for a Trip

Style + Design pink bag petal rectangle pattern heart textile

Passport Holder

There’s no hard evidence to suggest that a bright, colorful passport holder will reduce your chances of leaving behind your passport on a plane. But given just how fetching this flamingo print is, we’re willing to hedge our bets.

international travel carry on necessities

We might travel constantly, but falling soundly asleep on a plane remains a talent that has somehow eluded us. Still, an eye mask can go a long way by canceling out harsh light and other distractions. This adorable option from Slip is made from 100% silk and provides complete eye coverage without pinching behind the ears.

Water Bottle

Water Bottle

One easy way to invest in your health and the environment when you travel: use a stainless steel water bottle. There are plenty of great options out there, but our personal fave is this Aurora-inspired pick from S’well. It’ll keep your beverage cold for 24 hours and hot for 12, and it’s non-toxic and non-leaching.

RELATED: What to Pack for a Beach Vacation


Of course there’s always Instagram, but when it comes to documenting a trip in all of its small, wondrous details, nothing compares to an old-fashioned notebook. This design from Promptly Journals includes meaningful prompts to guide you along the way.

Cheek and Lip Stain

Cheek and Lip Stain

The cold, recycled air of airplanes is a major complexion-killer. Get your glow back by reaching for a multitasking stain like the Aura from Vapour. Its blendable, pigmented formula adds a pop of color to your lips and cheeks, making you look instantly refreshed on the go.

international travel carry on necessities

Don’t be the person holding everyone else up as you search for your boarding pass in the bottomless pit of your purse. Instead, sling a small, chic number across your shoulders so that you’ll have all the necessities—passport, wallet, ID—ready at a moment’s notice. We’re crushing on this mini crossbody from Italian brand Furla—it comes in tons of fun colors.

RELATED: The 15 Best Designer Beach Bags to Buy Now

Neck Pillow

Neck Pillow

The revolutionary Trtl travel pillow keeps your head in an upright position while you snooze against its hidden internal support system. Half the size of an ordinary U-shaped pillow, it’ll fit right into your under-seat carry-on bag.

RELATED: The Travel Pillow You Need for Your Next Flight

Style + Design text brand picture frame

Under-Eye Mask

We’ve all seen those pics of celebrities donning sheet masks while traveling. But the reality is, economy class and a sopping wet face mask don’t exactly mix. We like to reap the benefits of the in-flight beauty phenomenon by opting for a foolproof under-eye mask instead. Our tried-and-trusted favorite is Tatcha’s Luminous Deep Hydration Revitalizing Eye Mask . It contains Okinawa red algae, honeysuckle, and peony extracts to combat puffiness and dark circles.

international travel carry on necessities

Between engine noise and crying babies, there’s no question that a powerful pair of headphones is a travel must. This chic beige Pampas pair from Urbanears blends style and sound like nothing we’ve ever seen (or heard!) before. The over-ear model was designed for comfort during extra-long listening sessions, and the battery life is set to match—you can listen wirelessly for over 30 hours on a single charge.

RELATED: You Won’t Believe These Noise-Canceling Headphones Are Under $100

Portable Phone Charger

Portable Phone Charger

The deficit of electrical outlets in airports is a major problem, one that is not likely to be solved in the immediate future. For the time being, make do with this lipstick-sized portable charger from Anker . The design is compact as can be, and the power bank has a 3350 mAh battery to provide one full charge for most iPhones.

Makeup Removing Wipes

Makeup Removing Wipes

If sleeping in your makeup is the ultimate beauty no-no, sleeping in your makeup on an airplane is practically sinful. Not only can it cause acne, plugged follicles, and a lackluster complexion, it can also lead to eye infections and premature aging. To avoid these unwanted side effects, cleanse your skin before your flight with these travel-friendly wipes from Skinfood , available at Soko Glam . They’re packed with nourishing rice bran water that brightens and refreshes skin.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

To put in mildly, planes are icky. Keep the germs at bay with Elyptol , a hand sanitizer gel that uses natural ingredients—eucalyptus oil and naturally-sourced pure ethanol—to kill up to 99.99% of bacteria and fungi.

RELATED: 20 Things You’re Going to Want to Buy on Amazon This Month

Travel Wrap

Travel Wrap

Even in summer months (or on warm-weather destination routes), planes can feel freezing—and there’s nothing worse than shivering for 10 hours on a long-haul trip. Pack one of White + Warren’s cult-favorite travel wraps in your carry-on so that it’s by your side in case the temps drop.

Dry Shampoo

Dry Shampoo

For an instant refresher once you land, spritz on some of Amika’s Perk Up dry shampoo . It absorbs oil with zero chalky residue and leaves strands shiny, soft, and ready to take on the day.

Jet Lag Remedy

Jet Lag Remedy

Call it placebo effect if you want, but over 1,000 Amazon reviewers say that these homeopathic jet lag prevention tablets really work. Made with just five all-natural ingredients, the supplement is designed to combat fatigue, disorientation, dehydration, lack of concentration, and other side effects of long-haul travel.

RELATED: 5 Super Affordable Jet Lag Remedies on Amazon


We love hardcover books as much as the next guy, but when it comes to travel, an e-reader just makes more sense. Lightweight and waterproof, the new Kindle Paperwhite keeps you ready to read wherever you are. Need a book rec? Right now, we’re loving  Educated by Tara Westover and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Outfits to Pack for Your Next Trip

Women’s leggings and cardigan outfit, shop the look.

international travel carry on necessities

Crewneck Tee

international travel carry on necessities

Chuck Taylor® All Star®

Men’s spring pants outfit for a vacation.

international travel carry on necessities

Want more? 

  • The BEST Travel Neck Pillows of 2020
  • 11 Amazon-Approved Items That’ll Make Packing SO Much Easier
  • 26 Wardrobe Essentials Every Woman Needs in 2020

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Here’s what to pack in a carry-on bag every time you travel

Caroline Tanner

If you're new here, you should know I am firmly team carry-on and rarely check a bag, while some of my colleagues prefer to always check a bag .

Even if you insist on checking a bag, certain items should always go in your carry-on.

Here are 18 items to never check.

Identification documents

international travel carry on necessities

This one should go without — your identifying documents, such as a passport or valid driver's license, are among the most important items to keep close when traveling, especially abroad.

If you're traveling domestically and don't need a passport, those 18 and older still need a driver's license or other state photo identification card from their state's Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent) to pass through security at U.S. airports.

A full list of Transportation Security Administration-accepted forms of identification is available here .

Once you've reached your destination, you'll likely need to show some form of ID to check into a hotel or rent a car. When traveling internationally, the U.S. government recommends carrying a picture of your passport while keeping your passport (and other valuables) securely locked in your room (in a hotel safe, if available).

Additionally, the State Department advises travelers to print travel itineraries and other important documents in case something happens to their phone or accessing Wi-Fi is difficult.

international travel carry on necessities

A phone is helpful when traveling, especially if you have a plan with international data.

From finding your way around cities you've never visited before to being able to book rideshare services or make reservations, your phone is essential when traveling.

Related: The best credit cards to use for rideshare apps

Phone charger with a travel adapter

Traveling with your phone also means having to charge it more frequently, which is only possible if you've brought the right charger and any necessary adapters (if applicable).

Keep your electronics and chargers in a carry-on for easy access on the plane, where you can also use the in-seat charging power outlets on many airlines.

Charging inflight ensures your phone is fully charged before exiting the plane, minimizing the chance of a dead battery en route to your hotel or other accommodations since your room may not be available for check-in when you arrive.

This is also helpful if you have a lengthy layover between flights since airport charging stations can be hard to find.

As a female traveler who sometimes travels solo, a working phone is crucial. All travelers, solo or not, should pack a portable charger in their carry-on and always bring that with them when they go out and about.

Headphones (wireless and wired)

international travel carry on necessities

If you're like me, you'll never travel without two sets of headphones (one wireless and one not) since wireless ones may run out of battery — and in many cases, won't be able to connect to the In-Flight Entertainment screen on your plane.

Keep your headphones and AirPods within easy reach at all times.

If you travel with a suitcase that houses a battery pack for charging, such as those from Away , remember that it must fall within TSA guidelines .

Multi-Charging device

In addition to your phone, other Apple products, such as an iPad and Apple Watch , require separate chargers. To lessen the load, consider purchasing a charging device that allows you to charge multiple Apple devices at once .

I'd also recommend keeping all of your chargers contained in their own specific bag or pocket within your smaller carry-on item, preferably the one that sits under the seat for easy access.

A change of clothes

international travel carry on necessities

Per my earlier comment, the last time I checked a bag, it was a huge mistake.

I missed my connecting flight due to inclement weather, and my luggage was sent without me to my final destination. I had to spend the night in an airport hotel in Miami with just my backpack and the clothing I had been wearing for almost an entire day. I'm not the only traveler to go through something like this.

"I always keep at least one change of clothes for myself and each of my kids in my carry-on, even if I am checking a bag," said TPG senior reporter Tarah Chieffi. "If our checked luggage is delayed or lost, or inflight accidents occur, we always have a fresh change of clothes."

This is the kind of scenario that always seems like it won't happen to you, until it does.

Tarah also recommends throwing in a grocery bag or large zip-close bag for dirty clothes in your suitcase or using a suitcase that provides a reusable laundry bag .

You'll appreciate having easy access to a fresh change of clothes , especially on long-haul flights or ones with long layovers, especially when you can freshen up in an airport lounge or an aircraft with showers .

Even if your flight is short and direct, it's still helpful to pack a change of clothes in your carry-on in case your baggage gets delayed.

Reusable water bottle

international travel carry on necessities

Another item we recommend traveling with is a reusable water bottle . Just make sure the bottle is empty before you pass through airport security since most airports limit the number of liquids you can take through security.

Once you head to your gate in the post-security area, you'll usually find free water refill stations, including some with filtered water.

During your flight, request water and pour that water into your bottle so it's full at all times. Just remember to take your water bottle (along with your other items) off the plane when you disembark. I've lost two Hydro Flasks this way.

Keep in mind that flying can dehydrate you, especially if you're drinking alcohol. It's important to pay attention to your water consumption on travel days and make sure you are getting enough.

Considering how much airport stores charge for water and other items, bringing your own water bottle saves money — and eliminates single-use plastic.

Like the water, don't rely on the airport or inflight snacks. Sometimes, when traveling, food outlets may not be available or open when you need them. As someone with dietary restrictions, I always bring snacks. Some of my favorite travel snacks are Go Macro bars ( mini version for traveling ) and Chomps mini sticks , both high in protein.

Prescriptions and other medications

international travel carry on necessities

If you take medication daily, it's important to first check that your particular medication won't get you into trouble in the country you're visiting. If at this point you're in the clear, pack any prescriptions in your carry-on along with any over-the-counter medications you take frequently or might need, such as pain relievers or allergy medicine, in a travel pill organizer .

I always bring several days' worth of Tylenol, Benadryl, vitamins, probiotics and a few extra daily medicine supplements in case I stay longer than anticipated.

I also pack a few extra pairs of contact lenses. I wear dailies and prefer them over wearing my glasses, though I bring my glasses as a backup. I also bring bandages and a first-aid antibiotic ointment, just in case.

Assistance items

For senior travelers or those who require assistance, do not keep any assistive/medical device item, such as a walking stick or handicapped placard, out of reach.

A good rule of thumb — if it's anything you can't live without for half a day or more, put it in your carry-on, says Erica.

Hand sanitizer, wipes, paper towels and tissues

international travel carry on necessities

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many travelers carry hand sanitizer (linking my favorite here ) and sanitary wipes to wipe off seats, tray tables, seat belts, etc., upon boarding.

These items are small and can easily fit in your carry-on item. Ensure your hand sanitizer does not exceed the 3.4 ounces or 100-milliliter size requirement .

Other items to consider bringing in your carry-on are paper towels and a washcloth in case of spills or other situations where you need to dry your hands ( or wipe your sweat) .

You might be able to find tissues and band-aids at airports and on planes, though they're likely not going to be great quality. Tissues are small enough to pack a few in your carry-on in case of unforeseen circumstances, from the sniffles to a paper cut.

Beyond your phone and important travel documents such as your passport, keep your most important items close to you while traveling, including jewelry.

Depending on how sentimental they are to you, these items would fall under the "hard to replace if not irreplaceable" category.

Even if you don't routinely carry cash on you day-to-day, we recommend bringing some when you travel for items like cabs, hotel/restaurant tips, smaller souvenir items, tickets and other unforeseen costs.

Cash and credit cards should remain in your carry-on at all times, specifically in a wallet or purse within your luggage, for extra security while also being easier to find. And remember, it's always the cheapest to pay in the local currency versus U.S. dollars when using a credit card. For cash purchases, it depends on the purchase price and conversion rate .

Kindle or a good book

international travel carry on necessities

Even if your aircraft is equipped with hundreds of hours of entertainment like Emirates boasts , there may be times when it is unavailable, such as when you land at your destination or arrive at the gate. There's also plenty of downtime while flying, such as queueing to board or check-in and waiting at the gate.

If you're someone who doesn't jump up the second the seat belt sign is turned off to stand awkwardly in the aisle for several minutes, that's some spare time, too.

Depending on where you are, you may not have a cellular signal or stable Wi-Fi to pass the time.

A trusty Kindle , or if you prefer, a hardcover book, is a great way to pass the time in these situations.

Something warm to wear

Even if you are flying somewhere warm, aircraft fly at such a high altitude that you may find yourself a little chilly on the flight. This can be especially true when sitting near an exit row door or window. On short-haul flights, most airlines don't provide a blanket.

While filling your carry-on with a huge winter coat just in case you need it isn't always a practical solution, something small that you can fold into a small pile is great to include when packing.

This includes a throw, shawl, pashmina, or light windbreaker-style jacket .

Bottom line

Once you've decided on the items most essential for your carry-on, be sure to decide what carry-on luggage makes the most sense for them to go in.

For example, if you have two carry-on bags, one smaller one that fits underneath the seat in front of you or one suitable for the overhead bin, think about what items you might need most often throughout the flight and position those in your smaller bag.

For everything else, you can always retrieve items from your larger bag from the overhead bin.

Related reading:

  • Keep calm and carry on: The best carry-on luggage for every kind of trip
  • Airline carry-on luggage size: Everything you need to know
  • 4 things the TSA really doesn't want you to bring on an airplane
  • 7 cruise ship packing mistakes you want to avoid at all costs
  • 5 things you should never pack in a checked bag — even though the airlines allow them
  • 9 travel packing tips to save space in your luggage
  • I always check a bag – and I'm proud to admit it

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Carry-on Travel Essentials for Short and Long Flights (His & Hers)

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Erin Miller

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Carry-on Travel Essentials for Short and Long Flights (His & Hers)

Table of Contents

Carry-on travel essentials for him.

Carry-on Travel Essentials (For Her)

Final Thoughts

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At Upgraded Points, we believe a well-packed carry-on bag is key to flying in (relative) comfort. Whether you’re on a quick 45-minute hop or a daunting 9-hour long haul, your essentials are what keep you covered.

That’s why we’ve compiled a “His & Hers” list of some great products we simply can’t do without. From personal comfort items to snacks and hydration, read on to find out what tops our lists!

P.S. If you want a complete travel packing checklist for your trip, or you’re interested in tips and tricks for packing your suitcase, we’ve published a post on that too!

Carry on Travel Essentials Him

1. Alex can’t go anywhere without his Sleep Master Sleep Mask . Silky smooth, cool, and DARK with velcro closure … just sit back, relax, and you’ll be snoozing before you know it.

2. Engine noise? Crying babies? Obnoxious neighbor? These Bose QuietComfort 45 Noise Canceling Headphones won’t let you down. The rest of the world literally just fades away so you can enjoy your movie or music in peace.

3. The Sfee Insulated Water Bottle  is double-walled, stainless steel, leak-proof, and sleek as heck. We all know it’s important to stay hydrated while flying, and this bottle will keep your drink cold for hours.

4. Why pay for onboard snacks when you can bring your own? Oberto Turkey Jerky has your back! The flavor is great, there are no artificial ingredients, and it packs a punch at 11g of protein per serving.

5. Of course, no carry-on list would be complete without a Kindle . Don’t forget to pre-load it with your favorite books before you fly!

6.  Shout Wipes are a must. No one wants to travel with a great big stain down the front of their shirt! (We won’t mention which UP staff member wins the award for most spills …)

7. The Evolution Neck Pillow  might just be the best out there. It’s made of plush memory foam, has a snap in front with drawstrings to provide just the right support, holds your phone, and rolls up into a small handheld pouch to save space. Of all the travel pillows Alex has tried, he’s had the best sleep with this one. We both really love this thing!

8. Tired of looking tired when you hop off a flight? This GinZing Eye Cream from Origins combines coffee beans, ginseng, and magnolia extract to reduce dark circles, banish bags, and curb puffiness. It’s seriously refreshing – we’re amazed every time.

9. It’s easy to get dehydrated on a flight. Keep your lips from getting chapped with this soothing Lip Balm from Jack Black . It’s the more subtle stick form of Jack Black’s minty gloss, so you don’t have to worry about it adding a shine.

10. Speaking of minty, these Colgate Wisp mini brushes will freshen your mouth right up after those onboard peanuts.

11. A mess of cords at the bottom of your bag is so unhelpful. This cord/travel organizer by BUMB  will help you keep everything tidy and in good working order.

12. An extra pair of socks is never a bad idea, especially when they’re these Merino Wool Bombas . With a honeycomb support system, stay-up technology, warm/cool temp variation, and an invisible toe seam, these are the best! Plus, you can feel good about buying them: Bombas donates one pair of socks for every pair sold.

13. There’s nothing we hate more than waiting behind someone who can’t get their mobile ticket to scan at security/the gate, so we travel old-school: we always print our boarding passes. That’s where this Royce Leather Ticket & Passport Holder comes in. Plus, it’s made of top-grain genuine leather … so, there’s that.

14. The second snack we can’t do without is a  Power Crunch protein bar . Most protein bars are like a brick: thick and tough to chew. But this light, crunchy treat is pretty much the healthy, protein-filled equivalent of a Little Debbie Nutty Bar. They’re just so good!

Carry-on Travel Essentials for Her

1. How sassy is this Sleepy Cottage Eye Mask ? You certainly don’t have to sacrifice style to grab some much-needed shut-eye on your next flight. If you’d rather snooze a bit more low-key, try the Sleep Master Sleep Mask . It’s silky smooth, cool, and keeps things dark.

2. The Evolution Neck Pillow  is a definite must-have. Its plush outer covering surrounds a memory-foam core, and the snap closure at the front (with drawstrings) allows for adjustable support. Plus, there’s also a side pocket to hold your phone. What you can’t see here is that the pillow rolls up and fits in a small travel pouch to save space (a total win!). Like Alex, this has been my favorite pillow for getting some sleep during long flights.

3. We all know staying hydrated is a must on flights. Good thing S’well makes a line of  swoon-worthy water bottles with all sorts of great qualities. Think triple-walled, eco-friendly, and stainless steel. Not only do they come in an array of great colors and patterns, but they’re built to keep your drink cold for 24 hours (or hot for 12).

4. When you’re pressed for space, e-books come in so very handy. That’s why the Amazon Kindle makes it onto almost every travel blogger’s packing list. Just don’t forget to load your books before you fly!

5. Flying can leave your face feeling so “blah.” We love these Simple Face Wipes because there are no harsh chemicals, no artificial perfumes or dyes, and they’re enriched with lots of good vitamins to keep your skin hydrated. Plus, they even make a 7-count pack just for traveling.

6. Speaking of hydration, lip balm is a MUST for our carry-on bags. We’re loving this EOS balm in Sweet Mint with shea butter and jojoba oil. It’s 100% natural, 95% organic, and packed with tons of vitamins to keep your lips quenched for the long haul.

7. Need to freshen up after a long overnight flight? Use these Colgate Wisp mini brushes when gum or mints just won’t do. The freshening bead dissolves in your mouth, so there’s technically no water or rinsing needed.

8. We love having a separate wallet for travel since we’re often carrying different cards or other items during our trips. MochiThings’ Pop Clutch is a great little travel wallet to keep your ID, passport, tickets, and funds all in one place. Snaps allow for a pop-open functionality and it comes in a number of nice colors.

9. Let’s face it, lots of noisy things can make a flight especially awful … or maybe you just can’t hear your movie over the engine. No matter the reason you need some peace, these Bose QuietComfort Acoustic Earbuds will do the trick with their noise-canceling capability. Plus, they’re low profile vs. larger headphones, which helps save space in your bag.

10. When flying, it’s always smart to bring an extra layer in case things get chilly. This gorgeous wool and cashmere pashmina from Norstrom is a fantastic choice for a number of reasons. It can be worn as a scarf or shawl, or (at 75 x 29 inches) can even masquerade as a small blanket. Alternatively, its tissue-weight design makes it easy to fold right up and place in your carry-on like it’s nothing.

11. Every traveler needs a good journal on hand to document their worldly adventures!  We suggest the gorgeous line from Rifle Paper Co . With their soft linen covers and Smyth-sewn binding for durability, the quality is just right (and the size fits nicely too!).

12. No carry-on list is complete without a cozy pair of socks.   Your new favorite? Bombas. Made from extra-long staple cotton with a honeycomb support system, stay-up technology, and an invisible toe seam, these socks are super soft and perfect for your next flight. Plus, Bombas donates one pair of socks for every pair sold – we think that’s pretty great.

13. Flights don’t just leave you feeling tired, they can leave you looking tired too. Well, not anymore! Origins GinZing Eye Cream  is made with coffee beans, ginseng, magnolia extract, and natural brighteners to perk up those peepers. Whether it’s dark circles, puffiness, or bags – this eye cream is up for the battle and you’re coming out on top.

14. Why pay for overpriced food on your flight when you can bring your own? Power Crunch protein bars are our #1 must-have snack. Forget heavy, chewy bars and opt for this light, flakey, triple chocolate goodness instead. At 13g protein, 10g carbs, and 4g of sugar, you really can’t beat it!

Why suffer through your flight chilly, hungry, thirsty, bored, etc. when your carry-on could pack solutions? Picking a few favorite products that you consistently travel with can definitely upgrade your flight experience – they’ve certainly made ours more tolerable!

Do you have a favorite travel essential we missed out on? Let us know in the comments below.

Have you checked out our piece on the best gifts for travelers ? If not, head on over and let us know what you think!

Lastly, if you’re looking to add more “best of the best” travel products to your inventory, we’ve got some great recommendations for you: All Our Best Travel Product Reviews – In One Place .

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the must have carry-on essentials.

We recommend a great neck pillow and eye shade, a pair of noise-canceling headphones, a great water bottle, compression socks, and a kindle!

What should you not forget in a carry-on?

If you’re flying overnight, you’ll definitely want to remember your eye shade and noise-cancelling headphones or ear plugs to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re traveling through the day, you’ll want to prioritize snacks and entertainment.

How do I carry essentials on a plane?

Most airlines allow you to bring at least 1 personal item into the cabin, with some allowing a separate carry-on. You can pack essentials such as electronics, ear plugs, an eye shade, neck pillow, and toiletries in your personal item or carry-on. Just make sure any liquids are less than 3.4 ounces and fit into single, 1-quart clear plastic bag.

What are 5 carry-on essentials for travelers who love to pack light?

Our 5 carry-on essentials would be noise-canceling headphones, a snack, a tooth brush, an eye mask, and a Kindle.

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An experienced points hacker, Erin is Alex’s partner-in-crime and contributes to Upgraded Points with in-depth guides and relationship management. Erin’s work has been cited in multiple major publications.


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International Travel Packing Checklist: What Gear to Bring

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Packing for international travel can be overwhelming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the destination’s climate and culture. Even if you manage to bring everything you need, you could end up overpacking and lugging around a heavy suitcase.

To help make your packing experience easier, we’ve put together a comprehensive international travel packing checklist. Just remember to adjust the items on this list based on any specific requirements for your destination and the length of your stay.

The 9 Essentials That Should Always Be On Your International Travel Packing List

  • Identification documents: passport, ID card, driver’s license, documents for your children, etc.
  • Country-specific documents: visa, vaccination certificate, health forms
  • Travel documents: boarding pass, booking confirmations, travel insurance
  • Cash: local currency
  • Medication: essential over-the-counter and prescription
  • Clothing : enough to cover your whole stay
  • Extreme weather gear : sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, rain jacket, cold-weather boots, etc.
  • A bag of essential toiletries : shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant
  • Electronics gear: country-specific adapters and chargers for your phone, tablet, laptop, etc.

Our Ultimate International Travel Packing Checklist for Men and Women

To download a condensed, free PDF version of our ultimate international travel packing list, click here .

Passport Icon black and white

  • Electronics

Sunglasses Icon black and white


Chips snacks icon black and white


Some other items that you might need when traveling with toddlers and young children.

When traveling alone or as an adult couple, it’s generally possible to get by with the essentials. However, if you’re traveling with toddlers or young children, there are a few additional items that you should consider bringing.

  • Baby food & formula
  • Baby monitor
  • Diapers and disposable diaper bags
  • Toys & books
  • Travel crib

Toiletries in Your Hand Luggage Must Follow the 3-1-1 Rule

If you’re bringing your own toiletries in your hand luggage, be sure to follow the 3-1-1 rule . This means your toiletry bag must contain no more than 3.4oz (100ml) containers, must be sealed in a 1-quart (1L) clear, plastic, zip-top bag, and each passenger can only bring one bag. This rule applies to liquids, gels, pastes, creams, and aerosols.

The Rules for Traveling With Electronics

The rules for traveling with electronics depend on the airline, country, and airport that you’re flying to and from.

When traveling to or from the U.S ., for example, you should be aware of the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) rules for electronics. These rules require that all electronics larger than a smartphone must be taken out of your carry-on bag and placed in a separate bin for X-ray screening . This includes laptops, tablets, and e-readers.

It’s also important to note that some countries have restrictions on the type of electronics that you can bring into the country. For example, many countries, including China and Brazil, prohibit the import of certain electronics, like iPhones and iPads, and require you to declare these upon arrival.

Certain countries have restrictions around lithium batteries as well . This means you won ‘t be able to bring batteries with more than 100 watt – hours in your carry – on or checked luggage . To check the watt – hours of your batteries , check the label on the battery or the device itself .

Finally , you should be aware that some countries, such as South Africa and India, require you to register your laptop and other electronic devices with customs when you arrive . This is due to the increasing number of laptop thefts and other electronics – related crimes in those countries .

Unfortunately , there is no one – size – fits – all answer when it comes to traveling with electronics , so make sure to do your research before you go .

Don’t Forget the Size and Weight Restrictions for Your Baggage

Underseat bags.

  • Must not be larger than 17 x 10 x 9 inches (43 x 25 x 23 cm)
  • Cannot exceed 17 lbs (8kg) when combined with the weight of your carry-on

Carry-on bags

  • Must not be larger than 22 x 14 x 9 inches (55 x 35 x 23 cm)
  • Cannot exceed 22 lbs (10kg)

Checked bags

  • Must not be larger than 62 linear inches (157 cm)
  • Cannot exceed 50 lbs (23kg)

No matter what size or weight restrictions you have, it’s important to make sure you pack smartly and efficiently . To do this, try to use packing cubes and consider rolling your clothes instead of folding them. This will help you maximize the amount of space in your luggage, so you can bring all the essentials without having to worry about the size or weight limits.

Which Items You’ll Need to Remove When Going Through Security

When you’re getting ready to go through security, there are a few items that you’ll need to remove from your carry-on bag and person. These include:

  • Laptops and tablets
  • All electronics larger than a smartphone
  • Metal jewelry
  • All liquids, gels, and aerosols
  • Belts and other accessories

If you have any food items in your carry-on, you may also be asked to remove them for inspection.

It’s also important to note that some countries, such as the U.S., require you to remove your laptop, tablet, and other electronics from your bag even if you’re not checking them through security.

Which Items You Should Pack In Your Personal Item, Carry-On, and Checked Luggage

When traveling, it’s important to know which items you should pack in each type of luggage, as this will help you stay organized and minimize the amount of time you spend at the security checkpoint . Here is a quick breakdown of what should go in your personal item, carry-on, and checked luggage:

Personal Item

  • Travel documents

Checked Luggage

As a general rule, it’s best to keep all valuables, medications, and important documents with you in your personal item and carry-on. This will ensure that you always have access to these items and that they remain safe.

Which Items You’re Allowed to Take for Free in Addition to Hand Luggage

When traveling, you’re usually allowed to take a few items for free in addition to your hand luggage. This typically includes a personal item, such as a laptop bag, a purse, or a briefcase, as well as a jacket or coat.

However, some airlines may limit the number of items you can bring for free, so it’s best to check your airline’s policy before you travel.

Tips on How to Save Space When Packing for an International Vacation

Packing for an international trip can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to end up overpacking or lugging around a heavy suitcase. To make your packing experience easier, here are a few tips on how to save space when packing for an international vacation:

1. Roll Your Clothes

Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can help you save a lot of space in your suitcase.

2. Pack Lightweight, Versatile Clothes

Bringing lightweight and versatile clothes will help you save space and minimize the amount of clothes you need to pack.

3. Use Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a great way to keep your suitcase organized and maximize the amount of space in your luggage.

4. Wear Your Bulkiest Clothes

If you’re traveling to a cold destination, wear your bulkiest clothes, such as your winter coat, on the plane. This will help you save space in your suitcase.

5. Leave Some Space for Souvenirs

Make sure to leave some extra space in your suitcase for souvenirs, as this will help you avoid having to buy an additional bag to bring them home.

6. Pack Multi-Purpose Items

Bringing items that serve multiple purposes, such as a scarf that can also be used as a blanket, will help you save space and avoid having to bring multiple items for the same purpose.

7. Invest in a Lightweight Suitcase

Investing in a lightweight suitcase can help you save space and make it easier to carry your luggage.

Don’t Bring These Prohibited Items

When traveling internationally, you should be aware of the items that are prohibited on planes and in certain countries. These items include:

  • Flammable and combustible liquids
  • Sharp objects
  • Electronic cigarettes
  • Hoverboards

Make sure to check your destination’s customs regulations and the airline’s policy before you pack, as some countries and airlines may have additional restrictions.

Don’t Forget These Long-Haul Essentials for a Comfortable Flight

Taking a long-haul flight can be tiring and uncomfortable, so it’s important to make sure you bring the essentials to ensure a comfortable flight. Here are a few items you should bring on a long-haul flight:

  • Neck pillow
  • Water bottle
  • Travel blanket
  • Compression socks
  • Entertainment (books, movies, music, etc.)
  • Disinfecting wipes

Many of these will be provided by the airline, but they may not be up to your standards, so it’s always best to bring your own.

What to Look Out for When Shopping for New, Sturdy Luggage

When shopping for new luggage, you should look for a few key features to ensure you get a sturdy and reliable suitcase. Here are a few tips on what to look out for:

While hardside luggage made from ABS is likely to be the cheapest on the market, it’s also the most prone to damage. If you’re looking for a suitcase that will last, opt for a polycarbonate or aluminum piece. If you prefer softside luggage, go for a high-denier nylon or polyester piece.

Read more:  The Ultimate Guide to Luggage Materials

Most hardside luggage is fitted with spinner wheels, which are great for maneuverability. However, take a look at the wheels to make sure they’re durable and have quality bearings. For softside luggage, in-line wheels provide excellent stability and can be rolled along almost any surface.

Make sure the handle is adjustable and sturdy. Ergonomically designed handles place the least strain on your wrists as you wheel your suitcase. You should also ensure that your suitcase has carry handles so it can be lifted with ease when needed.

Zippers & Locks

Opt for a piece with good-quality zippers and an integrated TSA lock. YKK zippers are considered the best on the market.

Many manufacturers offer a limited warranty that covers any defects in the material and workmanship. Make sure you read the warranty carefully and check the length of the coverage before you make your purchase.

The weight of a suitcase is largely dependent on the materials used to make the piece, and generally speaking, hardside suitcases usually weigh more than softside suitcases. If you’re considering a hardside suitcase, opt for one made from polycarbonate or ABS, as these are the lightest materials on the market. For softside luggage, nylon and polyester are the lightest materials.

Read More:  How Much Does an Empty Suitcase Weigh on Average?

Final Words

Packing for an international trip can be daunting, but it’s important to remember that anything you forget will likely be available wherever you’re traveling.

By following this international travel packing checklist and the tips provided, you can make sure you have everything you need for your trip without having to lug around a heavy suitcase.

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30 Ultimate Must Have Carry-On Essentials (2024 Edition)

30 Ultimate Must Have Carry-On Essentials (2024 Edition) 1

Wondering what to pack in your carry-on luggage?

With budget airlines constantly clamping down on carry-on weight and changing size limits, do you ever wonder what important things are a priority in your carry on travel bag, and what needs to be left out?

These days, budget travelers and backpackers alike have to make important decisions on what’s top priority in the valuable, real-estate of our tiny carry-on bag space – unless you’re paying extra for checked luggage, of course. 

And sure enough, your little overhead backpack / suitcase is bursting to the brim meeting these ridiculous airline requirements, and you’ve only just packed your toiletries and makeup so far, and a few other things.

Having traveled all over the world over the past decade, I’ve done a lot of trial and error with packing my carry-on. I’ve bought stuff that didn’t work or was unnecessary, and I’ve also bought stuff that has served me extremely well over the years, so I can attest to the products in the guide below.

So worry not – this is a complete carry-on essentials list guide for a comfortable plane journey. And if you’re fretting about space in your bag, check out the amazing hack on #11 that shows you how to bypass the cabin restrictions!

👉 And here’s another tip: instead of folding your clothes in your bag, roll them, for more space.

Planning your trip? Use my favorite resources!

🏨 Accommodation: I recommend Booking.com ✈️ Flights: for the cheapest flights, I use Skyscanner 🚗 Rental Car: I recommend Discover Cars 🛡️ Travel Insurance: for the best deals I rely on SafetyWing

So, what should I put in my carry on bag?

In this post, I’ve compiled the ultimate air travel carry-on essential checklist – including the must-have items for both short and long-haul flights, whilst keeping the packing as light and minimalist as possible.

Suitable for travelers of all types, this list has been fine-tuned through seven years of traveling to 40+ countries (many of them more than once), through trial and error – eliminating useless items whilst also being sustainable and eco-friendly where possible.

30 Ultimate Must Have Carry-On Essentials in 2024

A complete guide to all the important carry on essentials for long flights, travel essentials for men and women, my top travel tips, and more.

The Perfect Carry on Essentials Bag


First and foremost, you need a strong and reliable carry on essentials bag that will accommodate everything you need. You’ll want to make sure this bag can fit as much as possible – without compromising on protection, and just as importantly – it needs to be comfortable to carry around .

#1: Choosing the Best Carry-On Bags

The foundation of hassle-free carry-on travel is picking the right bag for your needs and style. Look for durable fabrics like nylon or polycarbonate that withstand getting crammed and tossed around. Trendy hard-shells suit occasional fliers while lightweight backpacks allow backpackers to hit budget airlines’ strict weight limits.

Savvy travelers choose carry-ons with TSA-compliant features like lockable zippers, removable shoulder/back straps, and dedicated laptop sleeves for going through security quicker. Rolling bags excel on concrete but frustrate on cobblestones. Test different portable styles loaded on inclines to determine your best fit.

My top carry on bag recommendations

For those trips where a backpack is more convenient than a suitcase – where it’s a month-long adventure or a day trip, or city-hopping even.

I used to travel with a top-loading backpack for years, and found them inconvenient due to fumbling around trying to get stuff out, without having to take everything out first.

These days, I always use a clamshell design backpack – which means I can lay the bag down and unzip it all the way open for complete access to everything packed inside – SO much more convenient!

The Osprey Farpoint 40L Travel & Trekking Rucksack is a favorite among backpackers worldwide and is considered one of the best rucksacks on the market. Coming in at £80 for the 40L, for a reputable brand this is excellent value for money, as it will last many years.

The Cabin Max Backpack Flight Approved Carry On Bag is an excellent choice for budget travelers, this was my first backpack before I upgraded to the Osprey Farpoint. It’s a super reliable backpack that’s served me well over the years.

The Bare Essentials

Here are the absolute must-have, must-pack items for any carry on essentials list.

Carry On Essentials - 3

#2. Passport, visas, ID and travel documents

The most important things on a carry-on bag essentials list. Take a photo of the photo page (2nd page) of your passport and save it on your camera roll. Get a photocopy made and bring it with you. Store this and all your important travel documents in one secure place, such as this travel wallet for women | men which will hold your passport and all your documents.

#3. Cash and bank / top-up travel cards

You can’t leave home without these either. I usually have my money split 50/50 between cash and in prepaid travel cards. Bring at least a couple of travel-friendly debit or credit cards so that you always have access to cash. I always bring 2 cards just to be safe, they are:

  • Wise (formerly Transferwise)

The above come with super useful banking apps that are very user-friendly and easy to use, as well as packed with features, as well as being extremely secure.

#4. Travel Insurance 

For added security and peace of mind, don’t leave home without good travel insurance by SafetyWing . Take it from me – what’s the worst that could happen?

Well, on my first trip to Mexico I got electrocuted in a hostel (yes, seriously). I flicked a light switch in a dark bathroom and felt a sharp burn travel from my finger all the way up my arm, as if it caught fire (you can read about that in this post ).

arm blew up

Think I just had a freak accident? What happens if you’re out in Mexico and your appendix suddenly bursts? I cannot stress enough how important travel insurance is.

#5. Travel documents and itineraries

I used to print out all my travel documents and itineraries and store them in a plastic folder for backup incase I should ever need them. 

These days though, while some documents are required in printed form, the rest I simply store on my phone – I have email copies and I use the TripIt and Rome2Rio vacation organiser apps for my itineraries and I keep screenshots of my passport, ID, visas etc. in my camera roll for copies. And remember to bring your driver licence if you’re planning to rent a car abroad. It also doubles as a valid ID, so you can leave your passport at your hotel/Airbnb.

#6. Water-to-Go Filter Bottle

I invested in one of these due to my frustration at plastic waste, and those tiny airplane cups certainly add to this global issue.

The Water-to-Go filter water bottle is perfect for refilling and reusing while out on your travels, eliminating the need to buy small plastic water bottles – which saves you money on your trips whilst being very environmentally friendly. And not only that – you can go through security with the bottle empty, then fill up while you’re waiting for boarding. A win-win situation!


PS: Get 15% off your order at the checkout with code GIVEME15

#7. Hand Lotion (that doesn’t count as a liquid)

Sometimes it’s handy to have some lotion for when your skin dries and cracks in extreme climates.

The best lotions are the organic, natural ones with ZERO toxic chemicals in them. And Shea butter is one of the healthiest and best things you could put on your skin. That’s why I use Organic Raw Shea Butter by Dr. Shea .

This little tub is the perfect companion for either your toiletries or flight bag and since shea butter is a solid mass of butter (yes, even in a hot environment), it doesn’t count as a liquid at airport security. Bonus!

#8. Tissues & Hand Sanitizer

Tissues in case of runny noses and wiping up messes, and a decent 99.99% anti-bacterial Carex hand sanitizer to clean your hands regularly, of course.

It goes without saying the importance of carrying one of these in the post-pandemic era. And just as importantly, you’ll need to use them both when you board the plane and arrive at your seat, and I’ll tell you why:

The fold down table is one of the filthiest parts of a plane!

So yep – squirt your hand sanitizer all over the table, leave it a minute or so, and wipe it up with a Travel Tissue. (Make sure you have plenty of tissues and hand sanitizer for your trip). Buy Travel Size Hand Sanitizer on Amazon  

Be sure to get a pouch for your sanitizer too . For convenience, get a sanitizer pouch that clips onto the outside of your purse or day bag, so it’s within easy reach. Sanitizer Bottle Keychain Holder

#9. Sustainable Wet Wipes

The Biodegradable Baby Wipes are a really useful carry on addition, especially for long haul flights.

Many travelers including myself, have oily skin when sitting on a plane for several hours. A bit like waking up in the morning before a shower. So these baby wipes really help my face feel more fresh and clean. And what could be better than biodegradable wet wipes made from natural bamboo?

#10. Snacks and Water

Make sure you bring a snack or two, to avoid going hungry. Many short haul flights don’t provide food, and the snacks on long haul flights tend to be expensive.

And always bring water . Snacks that work well on flights include whole fruits and nuts     (but avoid salted nuts which will make you thirsty). Protein Bars also work well. Other suitable snacks are whole grain salads  and dark chocolate.

Important Travel Gadgets & Electronics

Below are the most important gadgets and tech that I always bring in my carry on essentials wherever I go.

30 Ultimate Must Have Carry-On Essentials (2024 Edition) 2

#11. Your phone

I use an Apple iPhone 13 which not only keeps me connected to the internet while abroad, I also store my itineraries, payment cards (in Apple Wallet) and my travel documents and QR codes as screenshots on the camera roll, so they can be scanned, with no need to print them. 

👉 Tip: Prepare your phone before you go: download apps, music, movies, books, games, navigation, and any language translator apps you may need.

#12. A universal SIM Card

A relatively new concept, DrimSim is a  universal SIM card that allows you to connect to data almost anywhere in the world. What’s more, it isn’t attached to a singe operator, and you can choose either a regular SIM card or an e-SIM card.

👉 Travel tip: be sure to keep your original SIM card in a secure place such as the Passport Travel Wallet (it has a SIM card pocket designed specifically for this purpose).

#13. A Universal Travel Plug

The All-In-One Universal Travel Plug is super useful for visitors from anywhere in the world going to virtually any country. It features several USB ports to charge all your travel gadgets simultaneously.

#14. A Powerbank / Travel Charger

What’s worse than a dead phone battery when traveling?

The power bank/travel charger is a vital carry on essentials travel item. With newer iPhone models coming with ever shorter battery lifespans, I don’t need to explain its importance.

The Anker PowerCore 20100 – Ultra High Capacity Power Bank quite simply ticks all my most important boxes when it comes to choosing the best power bank. It has a huge (20,100mAh) capacity, which means you can charge everything a few times during one full charge.

And don’t forget: bring at least two charger cables – a short (1m) cable for your carry-on, like this one (iPhone) or this one (Android), that’s more convenient for charging from your power bank on the plane, and an extra-long (3m) cable packed in checked luggage – like this one for iPhone , or this one for Android .

👉 Travel hack: You can charge your electronics through a hotel room TV – there’s a USB port at the back of TVs in hotel rooms, so make use of these where possible.

#15. VPN (Virtual Private Network) 

A Virtual Private Network (aka VPN) is quickly becoming an important travel essential these days. What are they? VPNs allow you to establish a secure connection over a shared connection. So when you’re using free WiFi (eg. in a coffee shop), you’re connected to all the other people in that cafe, on that same network.

The problem with being on the same open network as others is that you’re exposed to potential hackers who have easy access to your information – such as your login credentials, bank card info, and other private things on the device you connect from – whether that’s your phone, tablet or laptop. Enter the NordVPN – it disguises your connection, so your precious information is invisible to anyone looking to hack an unsuspecting user’s device.

Comfort & Entertainment

Your ultimate carry on essentials comfort guide, plus entertainment to keep you preoccupied on those long flights.

30 Ultimate Must Have Carry-On Essentials (2024 Edition) 3

#16. Hardside Wheel Luggage

Sometimes a four-wheeled suitcase is just more convenient than a backpack, depending on the trip.

For a city break or a business trip – if you’re leaving the suitcase in the hotel for the duration of the trip, then this is perfect.

I use my Amazon Basics Hardside Expandable Suitcase , which not only has a hard protective, scratch-resistance shell, but can also expand with up to 15% extra space, not bad.

🧳 Got Checked Luggage? Be sure to request the ‘Fragile’ sticker at the check in desk. This will ensure your luggage is among the first to appear on the carousel on arrival at your destination. (You can also tie a bright-colored ribbon to your bag to make it easy to spot too)

#17. A Super Comfy Travel Pillow

I always find I can never get any sleep on flights, especially on long haul ones.

At best, I can just about manage 20 minutes of uninterrupted sleep towards the end of a 9-hour flight, and even then, my neck is aching afterwards.

Enter the Scientifically proven Super Soft Trtl Neck Support Travel Pillow . If you’re buying a neck pillow for those long haul flights, be sure to get the Turtl – a unique and innovative pillow that’s so comfy it really lets you get a decent sleep on the plane!

#18. Multi-Purpose Infinity Scarf

Wherever I go abroad, I always bring a multi purpose scarf – even if I’m going on a summer vacation somewhere hot, the plane journey will still be cold.

Thats why I wear the unisex lightweight infinity scarf , and this one even has a concealed zipper compartment where you can store your valuables.

If I’m going somewhere cold, like my trips to north India, I opt for the bigger cashmere blanket that really keeps me warm.

#19. A reliable pair of Headphones or Earphones

A must-have for listening to your music, podcasts, audiobooks, and movies on those long flights.

From my experience of trying various types of earphones, I like to find a balance between high quality and affordability. Strong bass is important for me personally (due to my hearing loss), and wireless bluetooth is much less hassle than cable earphones.

My personal preference are the Beats Flex Wireless Earbuds  – packed with top quality sound, heavy bass, and very importantly they don’t leak any noise, which is perfect for me so I can turn the volume right up without annoying the passengers seated next to me.


Headphones look super fashionable to wear (both on your head and around your neck). If you’re looking to buy a really nice pair of high quality wireless headphones with superb sound, the Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones  is one of the best options out there.

#20. A decent Camera

My camera of choice is a high quality compact mirrorless camera that’s perfect for vacations.

I used to bring a bulky and heavy Canon DSLR on my trips in the past, but it was too much hassle for someone who wants to take quick and easy snaps without having to change lens.

Thats why I now use my Ricoh GRIII 24MP Compact Camera with 28mm F2.8 GR Lens – the ultimate camera for all types of photography – be it landscape scenery, portraits, action, street snaps, and even night photography. It’s perfect for those who want to take super high-quality, pro shots, but aren’t necessarily professional photographers.

#21. Bendy Tripod Phone Holder


No doubt you’ll be planning to take some fantastic photos on your travels, and this bendable tripod phone holder is the easiest way to capture stunning and insta-worthy snaps. It’s small and compact, lightweight enough to carry around all day, and fits into your daypack neatly with minimal space.

#22. iPad/Tablet and Protective Case

I rely on my iPad Pro for watching the occasional Netflix show, but mostly for working on my travel blog. Apple iPad Pro on Amazon

For peace of mind, I invest in a strong and durable protective iPad Pro case that I keep my iPad stored in at all times. I have the for my MacBook and the for my iPad.

Health, Beauty, Care & Medicines

Everything you need to pack when it comes to important meds, health and beauty products, and every day hygiene products.

30 Ultimate Must Have Carry-On Essentials (2024 Edition) 4

#23. Lip Balm

If you get dry, chapped lips like I do, then you’ll know of all dry places, plane cabins are no different.

In trying to be more sustainable and eco-friendly, I use a natural, organic lip balm, that isn’t full of chemicals that are harmful to myself or to the environment when I chuck it out.

My favorite brand is Burt’s Bees, and I swear by their 100% Natural Moisturising Lip Balm with Shea Butter and Cocoa Butter .

#24. Roll-on Deodorant

Again, I prefer to use natural and organic products especially when it comes to roll-on deodorants.

I used to buy popular brands but became conscious of the carcinogenic chemicals being absorbed into my body.

That’s why I now use Bali Secrets Organic and Vegan Roll On for Men & Women . While I’m on my holiday, I tend to use organic coconut oil, which I pack in my checked luggage.

#25. Toothbrush & Toothpaste

Another essential item for long haul flights, I always bring my plastic-free, bamboo toothbrush along with organic natural toothpaste.

My preferred choice for eco-friendly toothpaste is the Georganics | Natural Mineral-Rich Whitening Toothpaste . Not only is it also vegan and fluoride-free, it comes in a glass jar with no plastic packaging whatsoever.

#26. Facial Oil Blotting Rice Paper 

Not only are these super useful in tropical climates, they are an essential item for long haul flights since your face will likely become oily on the plane. These sustainable Face Blotting Sheets with Natural Rice Powder are a quick and convenient way to dry sweat and oil, whilst making you feel instantly refreshed and looking shine-free.

#27. General Medications

You can easily get hold of medicine in most countries so don’t feel you have to pack the whole medicine cabinet. However its well worth bringing meds for headaches , cramps, allergies , as well as upset stomach meds like anti-diarrheal , Tums , and Pepto .

Organization & Security

For the utmost peace of mind – my top recommendations for safety and security.

30 Ultimate Must Have Carry-On Essentials (2024 Edition) 5

#28. Fanny Pack/Bumbag or Flight Bag

I used to wear my Mini Travel Bag a few years ago and it’s quite fashionable. These days though, I prefer to wear a fanny pack/bumbag.

Mini Flight Bag or Fanny Pack/Bumbag?

If I’m going somewhere where I’ll be walking around the city or tourist traps, and there’s a high risk of theft, I wear my bumbag – because it’s virtually impossible to steal. Not even thieves on bikes can steal your bumbag, but there is a chance they can snatch your mini flight bag – and this does happen.

My favorite bumbag is the Eastpak Doggy Bag Money Belt – this one is simple, durable, looks good with anything, and has all the compartments needed to store all my valuables. There’s plenty of storage space, and it fits perfectly around your waist like a money belt as well as across your chest.

If you opt for the The Mini Flight Bag, I like to use my Eastpak The One Messenger Bag .

Another great thing about these mini bags/bumbelts is that they are allowed as an extra carry-on bag because they are on your person .

Not only does this free up much-needed space in my carry on luggage, it also allows me to keep my most valuable items and documents on my person, giving me security and peace of mind.

#29. A Hidden Money Belt

If you’re looking for something more discreet than the fanny pack/bumbag, the Hidden Money Belt lets you stash your money away in a secret compartment thats safely tucked within an innocent looking belt.

Ideal for those who want to avoid drawing attention in certain parts of the world, for travelers who are security conscious, or for those who just fancy traveling super light, the Zero Grid Travel Security Belt is the ultimate theft-proof travel wallet belt.

💧 Taking liquids in the cabin? Be sure to get yourself a decent TSA-compliant pouch bag to store your liquids in (and you can reuse this bag each time you travel, saving on plastic waste).

#30. An Organiser Tech Bag

If you’re like me, cables and small items get muddled up in your carry on bag and cause a fuss when you’re trying to separate them, and its just too much hassle fumbling around the bag looking for a battery or a cable.

Enter the BUBM Travel Accessories Carry Case – the solution to storing all your cables, tech gear and accessories neatly in one place!

It consists of two compartments and plenty of mesh pockets, zip compartments and elastic loops, can hold an iPad Mini and mirrorless cameras as well as various other gadgets, and stores all your cables, batteries, memory sticks and portables etc. neatly in place.

If you’re on a budget and looking for something that does the job just as well but at a more affordable price, the Amazon Basics Universal Travel Case is for you: it has a simple, no-nonsense design and is surprisingly spacious inside.

Carry-on bag over the weight limit? Worry not!

Enter the Bagket Multi Pocket Vest (the answer to airlines’ excess baggage charges and no hand-luggage policy!)

bagket travel vest

Sick of budget airlines constantly changing their carry on allowance policy every 5 minutes? Determined to bring all your stuff on your trip without being charged a hefty fee by those sly airlines?

As someone once said: Don’t get mad, get even.

This multi pocket vest was designed specifically to outsmart crafty budget airlines that are constantly trying to squeeze money out of unsuspecting budget travellers, forcing them to pay ridiculous non-budget prices on their fares.

Since airline policies don’t include weight and items on a customer’s body, this made me wonder how I could carry additional stuff on my person, if my carry on was over the limit.

I stumbled across the perfect jacket – equipped with huge pockets and components that you can stuff with iPads, laptops, cameras, heck even extra footwear – you name it, it will fit in this jacket that doubles as a bag!

How To Use The Bagket Vest:

  • Fill up with 15kg of baggage, and carry over your shoulder
  • Put the jacket through the scanner at security
  • At the departure gate, wear the jacket to board the plane
  • On board the plane, put the jacket under your seat.

Top Travel Tips: Advice for Short & Long Haul Flights

Below are some of my best travel tips for surviving long-haul flights and ensuring you have a comfortable and enjoyable journey:

✅ Stay hydrated

This is one of the most important pieces of advice for traveling on a plane, especially on long haul flights. Always bring your bottle of water on board.

✅ Important documents

Keep these on your person at all times , and that means while you’re seated too (don’t stash them in the overhead compartment.) If you can, keep your documents in a separate compartment from your money, gadgets, and other essentials. Consider the Travel Wallet and the Eastpak Bum Bag for ideal organization. 

✅ Keep your most important belongings on you at all times

Again, don’t stash things like your travel money, mobile, jewelry, camera, and other valuable items in the overhead compartment. Keep them in your flight bag if possible. If you have large expensive gear in the overhead – make sure you can directly keep an eye on it whenever someone opens the compartment.

✅ Keep yourself busy

Make use of entertainment options available. As well as your earphones for music, read books, play games or watch movies from your tablet. I tend to watch no more than 2 movies on long haul flights, and in between – I take naps, listen to music, take regular strolls down the aisle, and frequently stand up to stretch my legs and back.

✅ Bring a snack or two

Make sure you have snacks to avoid going hungry. Many short haul flights don’t provide food, and the snacks on long haul flights tend to be expensive.

Here are some snacks that work well on flights:

  • Nuts – Especially almonds. Avoid salted nuts which will make you thirsty.
  • Fruit – whole fruits (bananas, apples etc) or dried fruit with no added sugar work well and won’t cause a mess.
  • Protein Bars  – Clif Bars work well as do fruit and nut bars. Just check the nutritional information because many bars are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients.
  • Whole Grain Salads  – d’Arabian recommends quinoa-based salads with olive oil. Unlike leafy green salads, they won’t wilt.
  • Dark Chocolate – For enduring a 12-hour flight, you could do with a treat.

✅ Dress appropriately

As well as dressing appropriately when visiting certain countries that require you to cover up, make sure you bring a lightweight jacket or hoodie and always wear pants and socks on the plane as it gets chilly.

👉 Tip: bring a pair of slippers (or disposable slippers even) to wear on the plane when walking down the aisle or going to the restroom, as the floor will be quite dirty.

Carry on Essentials FAQs:

Here are some of the most commonly-asked questions about travel carry on essentials for international travel:

What are the essentials for carry-on?

Plan ahead with this list of must-have carry-on essentials for long flights: Valuables – Passport, ID, travel documents, cash and bank cards Travel wallet and passport holder Hand sanitiser and tissues Snacks and water Collapsible water bottle Power bank / phone charger and cables Sustainable wet wipes Noise-cancelling earphones A super comfy travel pillow iPad / tablet / Kindle for reading and watching movies Lip balm Toothbrush, toothpaste and facial wipes A bumbag or flight bag Organiser tech bag

What is not allowed in a carry-on?

The following is a list of items that are completely banned from aircraft and should not be brought to the airport: Explosive and incendiary materials Party poppers Acids Flammable liquids Tear gas devices or gas cylinders Non-safety matches Wet-cell car batteries Oxidisers and organic peroxides Poisons Instruments containing magnets Toy/replica guns Infectious materials Firelighters, lighter fuel, paints or thinners Corrosives

What items can I bring on my carry-on?

According to current TSA and international airport rules you are allowed to bring 1 quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, creams, gels and pastes, in travel containers that are 100ml (3.4 ounces) or less per item. Certain duty-free liquids are also allowed through security in your carry-on bag, provided they are packaged in a security tamper-evident bag.

What should I bring on a short flight?

Here’s a list of 10 must-have essential things to pack for travelling on short flights: Hand sanitiser and tissues Some snacks and water Travel wallet and passport holder Collapsible water bottle Sustainable wet wipes Lip balm Power bank / phone charger and cables Noise-cancelling earphones High quality compact camera iPad / tablet / Kindle for reading and watching movies

Can you bring hand sanitizer on a plane?

According to the TSA you may bring one liquid hand sanitizer container, up to 12 ounces per passenger, in carry-on bags until further notice. Since these containers exceed the standard allowance normally permitted through checkpoints, they must be screened separately.

Does toothpaste count as a liquid?

Yes, toothpaste is typically considered a liquid for travel purposes. According to TSA guidelines, toothpaste falls under the category of liquids, gels, creams, and pastes and must comply with the 3-1-1 rule, meaning it should be in a container of 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less and stored in a quart-sized, transparent bag.

Download your FREE 20-page Travel Planner Guide

And get access to all my best budget travel tips, checklists, additional freebies, and more.

Printable Travel Planner Guide

And there you have it – the ultimate carry on essentials packing guide fit for every traveler.

Now that you know what to pack in carry-on for international flight – you can expect stress-free journeys, neatly organized trips and enjoy smooth travel experiences with pure convenience, all while being eco-friendly, healthy and happy!

  • Going abroad soon? Check out my post: How To Plan For A Vacation (and download my FREE printable travel checklist)
  • Read up on my Top 10 Ways To Save Money For Travel to learn how I saved over $1000 in one month

Did I miss anything out? I hope you find this post useful!

If you enjoyed this post, share it on Pinterest so your followers can enjoy it too!

pinterest pin 1

Billy Read is the owner and author of BRB Gone Somewhere Epic, a travel blog that helps travelers discover unique destinations and travel experiences on a budget. With more than 10 years of global travel filled with accidents, Billy aims to help readers avoid making the same mistakes as he did, and make the most of their epic trips.

Asher & Lyric Travel & Family Journalism

32 Top International Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

Santorini during international travel

International travel opens up doors to entirely new worlds. The ideal packing list for travel abroad will obviously depend on factors like where you’re going, what season you’re traveling in, what you plan to do, how you prefer to get around, and how long you’ll be away.

That said, there are lots of things I rarely go abroad without regardless of the destination! So I put together this international packing checklist to encompass the world. Below, you’ll find a list of things NOT to bring, as well as tips about what to wear and common FAQs to make your trip a success.

Of course, any trip will be better with a healthy dose of patience, humility, and adventure – so consider them part of the ultimate packing list!


International Packing List – 32 Essentials

1. packing cubes.

Packing cubes are high on my list of what to pack for even exploring domestically because they really help with staying organized on the road. Instead of constantly digging to the bottom of your bag in search of that missing sock or the one clean shirt you have left, you can just pull out the appropriate cube since they’re all labeled and color-coordinated for each family member.

packing cubes

View on Amazon.com ➜

2. Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

Especially in warmer climates, staying hydrated can be a challenge for travelers. While bottled water is available almost everywhere, relying on it gets pricey and creates a ton of plastic waste. Instead, bring a water bottle to refill with tap water. Pro tip: since airplanes are also extremely dehydrating, take the bottle in your carry-on and fill it up after passing through security.

Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

You’re bound to connect to a hotel or restaurant’s wifi when traveling overseas, so keep your digital information safe with a VPN like NordVPN . Most people don’t know that you should always be using a virtual private network (VPN) to keep all of your digital information secure while using public wifi networks. It keeps your private info safe and encrypted from hackers so you don’t have to worry about your credit cards, passwords, or other confidential information getting stolen. After being hacked at our Airbnb in Paris, I’ll never travel abroad without it.

how a vpn works

View options at NordVPN ➜

4. Universal Power Adapter

Especially if you’re coming from North America, you’ll need a power adapter almost anywhere in the world. You should still check the exact type of outlets used in the places you’ll be visiting, but this one covers 100+ popular countries and the quality can be relied upon since it has a lifetime replacement guarantee.

Power Adaptor

5. Jet Lag Relief

Any drawn-out flights or layovers can leave your circadian rhythm out of whack! Jet lag reliefs are a brilliant supplement that I discovered a few years back and now can’t live without. Using chamomile and other botanicals, it’s a much more natural method for regulating your exhaustion than with caffeine or other stimulants.

jet lag relief

6. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

In some parts of the world – hostels and guesthouses don’t necessarily provide towels free of charge, so you’ll want to bring your own. Plus, regular bath towels are super bulky and take forever to dry, so leave them at home and bring this travel towel that dries 10x faster than cotton. It’s light as a feather and can double as a sweat rag, packing cushion, seat cover, and much more.

HERO Travel Towel - Blue

7. Travel Insurance For International Travel

Omitting insurance is one of the biggest mistakes I see travelers make. Since your at-home provider generally covers you domestically, you are typically not covered once you travel overseas. This means that a medical bill or simple fee could become exponentially more expensive when paying out-of-pocket (doing six-figure damage in some cases, which would be difficult to recover from).

It covers you for common travel issues like theft, lost baggage, flight delays, pet care, rentals, and even the ability to “cancel for any reason.” We use Faye because they are setting a new standard for the industry with same-day claims and reimbursements through their mobile app (instead of jumping through hoops or dealing with piles of daunting paperwork like you would with most providers!) Faye has blown us away and insurance is too affordable to forgo.

Faye Travel Insurance

Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

8. Comfortable Walking Shoes

Most travel plans include lots of walking and international towns can range from gravel to cement to cobblestone. Wearing that pair of cute-but-less-than-practical shoes will inevitably leave you miserable by the end of the day. So bring a pair of shoes that are decent-looking but comfortable for walking, and your feet will thank you.

Tennis Shoes

9. Neck Wallet

You’ll obviously need your passport no matter where you’re going, and it’s one thing you really don’t want to lose. A neck wallet like this one will protect it, and keep other valuables organized, too. They’re much less likely to get stolen than a regular wallet, and you can also carry cash, credit cards, and a cell phone in one place. I wear mine under my shirt when we’re going through crowded areas so pickpockets have zero chance getting my valuables, plus it has RFID-blocking material to stop e-thieves from scanning your credit card numbers.

neck wallet

10. Activated Charcoal

You might be surprised to see charcoal on a packing list for vacation, but it’s great to have on hand in case you get sick (especially since anything from fine dining to tap water can give you food poisoning). Taking the tablets when you start to feel an upset stomach will absorb the toxins in your system and help stop the dreaded diarrhea. This way you can spend more time enjoying your vacation rather than dealing with distress in the bathroom.

Activated Charcoal

11. Waterproof Phone Case

If you’re staying along the coast or plan to do any boating excursions, jungle hikes, pool days, or anything near water – bring along this universal waterproof phone case. It’s not worth it to gamble with your lifeline when this one is so affordable and compatible with most smartphones. It protects your device from moisture, sand, and scratches while also allowing you to film underwater videos (with sound!)

waterproof phone pouch

12. Flotation Strap

Don’t forget to attach a flotation strap to your phone, keys, or devices. It is durable and vivid so you won’t risk losing your items or being unable to spot them. I once was photographing a flower on a lake and dropped my phone right in! If it were the Caribbean, I might’ve been able to find it… But the water was foggy and my waterproof case didn’t matter because it sunk right to the bottom. Learn from my mistake and know that buoyant is best!

Flotation Strap

13. Hanging Toiletries Bag

Many parts of the world will not come with tons of storage space or large countertops. If you have nowhere to put your stuff, like in European water closets, on a cruise ship, or at a camping site – I recommend using this hanging toiletry bag.

With 4 giant pockets that unfold to give you an instant shelf, it hangs from any door, hook, or branch to give you storage galore. Don’t forget the TSA-approved-sized bottles so you don’t have to throw out your favorite self-care products at the security check.

hanging toiletry bag

14. International eSIM Data Service (Avoid Roaming Fees!)

Most international travelers know that you can rack up huge bills by using your standard mobile plan when heading abroad. Instead of purchasing a plastic SIM card from sketchy vendors (that can get lost, damaged, or might not even work!) we recommend you convert to a 100% digital option for a flawless connection.

eSIMs are the future of mobile data and work beautifully internationally. Saily has become our new go-to for so many reasons: They are far more affordable than a domestic plan that delights in sticking you with outrageous roaming rates. In fact, you only pay for the data you need and can take advantage of the local pricing for mobile use. The cybersecurity is second-to-none because you won’t be joining obscure public networks that are prone to hackers, AND you avoid the hassle of buying physical cards for every location you visit since they offer plans in 150 countries.

Activate it before you go and you’ll be able to use eSIM straight away – saving money, time, and stress!


Pick a data plan at Saily.com ➜

15. Windproof Travel Umbrella

No international packing list is complete without a travel umbrella. You want to be prepared for all types of weather and if it happens to rain you still want to be able to get out and explore while staying dry. A good travel umbrella is compact, sturdy, and keeps you dry. This one checks all the boxes and is replaceable in case of damage.

Windproof Travel Umbrella

16. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

Once youve been lost without a charged phone, you’ll understand the value of a backup power bank. Whether you need GPS or to call for a backup car ride, this charger is lipstick-sized and can fully charge a dead phone. It has two USB ports so you can re-up your camera, phones, and other electronics on the go .

Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

17. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

After having items stolen out of our checked luggage, we can say first-hand that you can never be too safe. Luggage locks are very multi-purposeful and we use them on suitcases, backpacks for crowded areas, city lockers, and more. This set is TSA-approved so you won’t have any trouble with security or have to watch them get cut off.

luggage locks

18. Discounted Activities on Worldwide Attractions

We use Get Your Guide to book our global excursions because they have flexible cancelation and the reservations actually support the local tourism industry, which means you get more authentic experiences that really magnify your visit.

See the Pyramids of Egypt , the romantic Eiffel Tower of France , the famous Machu Picchu of Peru and other iconic landmarks. From the tropical cenotes of Mexico to the frigid light shows of Iceland – there is adventure in almost every nook of this planet – you just have to know where to look!

Discounted Activities on Worldwide Attractions

See all attractions at GetYourGuide.com ➜

19. Gorgeous Outfit

Even if most of your nights end up casual, it’s nice to have a few gorgeous looks in your suitcase. This jumper is a power look and my wife has it in multiple colors. It’s very flattering on many body types and will suit a variety of occasions around the world.

Gorgeous Outfit

20. Cooling Towels

A cooling towel can be a lifesaver on trips where you’re spending a lot of time in the heat and exposed to the sun. They’re small and easy to fit into any bag and can cool you down instantly. All you do is wet the towel, wring it out, and it becomes 20-30 degrees cooler than the outside air temperature for up to an hour. A scientific anomaly, but you won’t want to travel anywhere warm without it!

towel pink

21. Mosquito-Repellent Wristbands

Mosquitos and sand gnats can be a huge problem in destinations with water. Especially in rainforests, tropical areas, or places with still fresh water, you will find these little vampires coming out in packs at dusk and dawn! Mosquito-borne illnesses still exist, so it’s advised to protect yourself with mosquito repellent. This brand is natural and we love that it can be worn as a bracelet so we don’t have to respray toxic fumes all day. They are safe for kids but you can double up with a spray if you prefer, just ensure it’s deet-free .

Mosquito-Repellent Wristbands

22. Lightweight Backpack

It’s nice to have a backpack with you that’s made of a duffle-like material that can fold down compactly. This travel backpack is super lightweight and takes up virtually no space when empty, but can hold your essentials during day-to-day excursions. A tote or a purse may not cut it, so you’ll appreciate the extra storage.

Lightweight Backpack

23. Reef-Safe Sunscreen

In some parts of the world, sunscreen is notoriously hard to come by and extremely expensive when it’s available. But it’s really not something you want to skimp on, so make sure to bring some with you, regardless of where you’re going. This brand is octinoxate & oxybenzone-free, meaning it’s safer for both you and marine life. In some countries, it’s actually mandated to use reef-safe sunscreen, so making the switch is worthwhile.

Reef-Safe Sunscreen

24. Hangover Prevention

With all the Italian Chianti or South-of-the-boarder Margaritas – your international travel could lead to a headache the next morning. Even if you only have one or two drinks, hot areas can increase dehydration and you don’t want to find yourself dragging on a day meant for exploring. These supplements use vitamins and liver-detoxing herbs like milk thistle to remove alcohol from the body more quickly. Lyric and I aren’t big drinkers but we’ve heard they really work, making pub tours and vineyard stops a whole lot easier!

Hangover Prevention

A sarong might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about what to pack on a trip, but they’re actually a great travel item. Sarongs are lightweight, dry quickly, and can be used for tons of things: a scarf, sheet, towel, curtain, picnic blanket, swimsuit cover-up, the list goes on!


26. Motion Sickness Patches

If you’re prone to motion sickness or seasickness, I recommend using these motion sickness relief patches. My wife field-tested a variety of brands and this was by far the most effective product! Stick one or two behind your ear and you’ll keep nausea and dizziness at bay.

Motion Sickness Patches

27. First-Aid Kit

Bringing a first-aid kit when you travel is a good way to be prepared for minor problems. If you’re planning on hiking or spending time in the water, it’s especially important to be able to care for things like cuts, scrapes, and blisters to prevent infection. This kit is small and lightweight but will keep you more than covered with gauze pads, adhesive tape, various bandages, and other basics.

First-Aid Kit

28. Stylish Rain Jacket

Most areas of the world receive rain fairly frequently. A stylish raincoat is nice to have in locations like Paris, London, NYC, Canada, etc. where the fashion styles might be more sophisticated. This look gives off major elegance but still feels casual. It serves as a hooded windbreaker and trench coat, overall combining practicality with quality.

Stylish Rain Jacket

29. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

In French, the word ‘souvenirs’ literally translates to ‘memories.’ And you’ll want to bring home plenty of souvenirs from your global travels! This “just in case” bag is for those treats, liquors, handcrafted goods, spices, and authentic items you may pick up along the way. It’s super lightweight and will count as your personal item on the flight home!

Packable “Just in Case” Bag

30. Deodorant Wipes

Jetsetting, island hopping, and wanderlusting your way through the world can get tiring… and lead to sweat! You don’t want to feel stinky on long plane days or while sightseeing in new places. I carry these deodorant wipes for the family because they come in single packets that fit in a wallet or pocket. They’re all-natural, refreshing, and simply delightful on a hot day! This brand uses prebiotics to mitigate odor and calm the skin.

Deodorant Wipes

31. Electrolytes

If you get sick while traveling, you’ll lose a lot of liquids and could end up at risk of dehydration, so mix these tablets with (clean!) water to replenish your electrolytes. In tropical environments, it can be hard to stay hydrated even if you’re not sick, so using them on a regular basis can really supercharge your water. Electrolyte tablets are available in many places, but unless you enjoy the flavor of chalk, this brand tastes much better than most and will be cheaper.


32. Compression Flight Socks

International flights can mean 10+ hours in the sky. Between the cabin pressure, high altitudes, and lack of physical movement – compression socks are a wise choice. They will increase your circulation and prevent blood clots while in the sky (which is much more likely on flights longer than 4 hours). This is why flight attendants wear stockings or tights. You’ll be happy to have them and they’re very surprisingly comfy!

compression flight socks

Other Packing List Items for International Travel

  • Luggage lock
  • Insect repellent
  • Mini hairbrush
  • Solid shampoo
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Contact solution
  • Feminine products
  • Loofah glove
  • Facial cleansing wipes
  • Travel journal
  • Reusable cloth bag
  • Packable backpack
  • Shoulder bag
  • Toiletry bag
  • Travel sheet
  • Travel pillow
  • Light jacket
  • Swimsuit cover-up
  • Lightweight scarf
  • Rain jacket
  • Stain remover wipes
  • Kindle cover
  • Noise- Canceling Headphones
  • Memory card
  • Headphone splitter
  • Passport photos

What Should I Wear When Traveling Internationally?


For any tropical climate, you’ll definitely be more comfortable in lightweight fabrics but might need a light sweater or jacket for evenings and chilly A/C. In environments that are dusty or muddy, avoid wearing white since it’s next to impossible to keep clean.

If you’re visiting conservative countries – especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia – it’s important to dress modestly. Appropriate dress for women usually means covering the shoulders, cleavage, thighs, and knees. In the most conservative areas, women should also avoid tight-fitting fabrics and choose tops that fall below the hips. Foreign women are really only expected to wear a headscarf in a few countries, although wearing one may help you feel more comfortable.


What NOT to Bring on Your International Trip

1. don’t take unnecessary electronics:.

Beyond the things you know you’ll be using, like a camera or Kindle, it’s a good idea to leave expensive electronics at home. Things can get lost or stolen on the road, and there’s no reason to risk it.

2. DON’T BRING lots of cash:

You’ll find ATMs almost everywhere, so there’s no need to bring a ton of cash with you. You don’t want to have to carry it around all the time, and you’ll likely get a better exchange rate by using an ATM anyway.

3. DON’T PACK heavy books:

Books are one of the heaviest things you could pack, and even just one or two will take up significant space in your bag. Instead of bringing physical books, invest in a Kindle – your back will thank you.

4. DON’T BRING too many clothes:

Most people tend to overestimate the amount of clothes they need for a trip (and end up with heavy bags to lug around). Try to limit yourself to a few outfits, and know that you can always do laundry if you need to.

5. DON’T TAKE a sleeping bag:

Sleeping bags are huge and heavy, and there’s rarely a real need for them. Unless you’re planning on doing extensive camping and know that you’ll need your own gear, a travel sheet is probably a better option.

6. DON’T PACK a mosquito net:

Some travel packing lists for developing countries include mosquito nets, but it’s really not worth bringing one. Most accommodations provide nets if they’re needed, and it’s generally not feasible to hang up your own anyway.

7. DON’T BRING expensive jewelry:

Wearing flashy jewelry, especially in places where you stick out as a foreigner, can make you a target for thievery. If you have jewelry that’s expensive or sentimental, it’s not worth the risk of it getting stolen or lost on the road.

8. DON’T TAKE a bath towel:

Regular towels are bulky and slow to dry, which makes them less than ideal for travel. Leave them at home, and bring a quick-dry towel on your trip instead.

FAQs About International Travel

1. is it safe for women to travel alone.


Yes! The idea that “women shouldn’t travel alone” is nothing but an old myth. Plenty of women travel solo all over the world with no problems – and many even say it’s the best thing they’ve ever done. Of course, both men and women inevitably encounter risks on the road (and at home, for that matter), and you should always use common sense and be aware of your surroundings. Research travel warnings while planning your trip and heed the advice of travelers who’ve been to your destination recently.

2. How can I contact friends and family at home while I’m abroad?

In most places, Wi-Fi is increasingly available in hotels and cafes, giving travelers regular access to email, social media, and Skype. Travelers can often purchase a local SIM card and pre-paid phone credit upon arrival, allowing for phone calls, texting, and smartphone apps as well. Friends and family who want to call your local phone number should use Skype or purchase an international calling card for your destination.

3. Can I travel abroad if I only speak English?


Absolutely. Many people who travel abroad only speak English; in fact, except in countries that use romance languages, very few people speak the local language in places they visit. In most countries, at least some people working in the tourism and hospitality industry speak English, and gesturing will get you further than you might think otherwise. That said, learning at least a few basic phrases in the language will earn you favor with local people in most places.

4. How can I avoid getting sick while traveling?

Make sure you get any vaccines that are needed for the countries you’ll be visiting and pick up malaria prophylaxis if it’s recommended. If you’re traveling in places where mosquito-borne illnesses are prevalent, you’ll want to use insect repellent and sleep under a mosquito net whenever possible. You’ll also need to check to see if the tap water in your destination is potable; if not, be careful to drink only treated water and avoid other drinks made with tap water (or ice made from tap water), as well as raw fruits and vegetables that can’t be peeled.

5. What are the cheapest places to travel?


The cost of different countries depends on your travel style and what kinds of activities you plan to do while traveling. For the most part, though, developing countries are cheaper than developed ones, andSouth and Southeast Asia are generally the cheapest regions, followed by Central America and Eastern Europe.

6. How can I save money when traveling?

In addition to frequenting budget-friendly destinations, a good way to save money on the road is to live at the typical local standard – use public transportation instead of taxis or car rentals, stay in guesthouses instead of resorts or international hotels, and eat at local restaurants instead of touristy ones. To save more on accommodations, you can also look into alternative options, like CouchSurfing, Airbnb, homestays, hostels, and camping. And to further cut down on food expenses, one option is to purchase groceries for some of your meals instead of eating out three times a day. If you’re going to be traveling extensively, it’s also worth opening an account at a bank that doesn’t charge ATM or currency conversion fees, like Charles Schwab or Capital One.

7. What should I tell my parents who are worried about me traveling?

World traveler

What aspiring traveler hasn’t dealt with a worried parent, convinced their child will be afflicted by disease, terrorism, or murder if they dare to cross the border? It’s true that some parents will grasp onto this belief no matter what, but others may be consoled by some facts and precautions. For example, over 70 million Americans travel abroad every year –about a quarter of the country’s population. Announcing your travel plans is also a good time to remind your parents that most places are very different in reality than they appear in the media. It might help to direct them to first-hand accounts of travel in the countries you’re planning to visit, especially if they do not have a great reputation at home. Taking precautions like purchasing travel insurance, sharing a copy of your itinerary, and showing that you’ve done some research on your destination might allay their concerns as well.

8. How can I meet people on the road?

Nepal temple

Fortunately, in most cases, it’s not nearly as hard to meet people while traveling as you might think. One of the easiest ways to meet people is to stay at a hostel, which are social by nature. Even if a bunk in a shared dorm doesn’t appeal to you, most hostels also have private rooms, which still allow you to take advantage of the common spaces where people hang out. Participating in activities – like hikes, walking tours, day trips, classes, or pub crawls – is another very easy way to meet fellow travelers. There is also an increasing number of apps that exist to connect travelers with each other and with locals: MeetUp, Couchsurfing, WithLocals, EatWith, TravBuddy, and Bumble BFF, just to name a few. And don’t forget the power of social media. Joining travel-focused Facebook groups, asking your own network if they have friends in the places you’re visiting, and searching hashtags on Twitter and Instagram can all lead to new connections on the road.

9. Will my cell phone work abroad?

Depending on your company and plan, as well as where you’re from, your cell phone from home may work in other countries, but will likely charge huge fees for calls, texts, and data use. A better option is to put a local SIM card in your phone when you arrive, or keep your smartphone on airplane mode and only use it on Wi-Fi.

10. How can I find cheap flights?

Paris travel

One of the most common pieces of advice is to set your browser to private or incognito mode before searching for tickets. If you repeatedly search the same route in your browser’s regular mode, you’ll likely see the price go up. It’s also a good idea to check multiple search engines and compare their prices; Skyscanner, Google Flights, Kayak, Momondo, and CheapOair are good places to start. If your travel dates aren’t set in stone, use the “flexible dates” feature to compare prices for a week’s worth of flights. Many search engines don’t include budget carriers, though, so if they’re not showing up, check their websites separately. Low-cost airlines to keep in mind include JetBlue, Frontier, and Spirit in the U.S.; Ryanair, EasyJet, and Wizz Air in Europe; and Air Asia, Tiger Air, and Spice Jet in Asia.

For long-haul trips, check before you book to see if it’s cheaper to buy separate legs of the trip individually (but do be aware that you’re unlikely to receive assistance from the airline in the event of a missed connection). Similarly, always check to see if buying two one-way tickets is cheaper than a round trip. Finally, if you’re not pressed to book right away, set up a fare alert on Skyscanner or Airfare Watchdog to keep you up-to-date on the price of flights you’re interested in.

What to Pack in a Carry On Bag: The Ultimate Carry On Bag Essentials List

I have a list of carry on essentials that I always pack in my carry on bag.  When I check luggage (which I rarely do), these are the items that go in my carry on bag rather than my checked bag.  Even when traveling with carry on luggage only, these in flight essentials are usually in my small personal item that is under the seat rather than my larger checked bag in the overhead.

My carry on bag essentials list includes all items I would need to be comfortable on a long international or overnight flight.  (For shorter flights, I skip some of these items as I do not need them.)  Also included on my list of what to pack in my carry on bag, are valuable and hard to replace belongings as well as those items which I can’t live without in the event my checked luggage is lost or delayed.

long flight carry on bag essentials list

Carry On Essentials List

Not sure what to pack in your carry on bag? Here is a comprehensive packing list of carry on essentials:

Passport/other ID

These are essential documents for boarding your next flight and should always be in your carry on luggage.

Many airlines (including all U.S. airlines) require passengers to wear face masks when boarding and on the plane. The airlines might have extra masks for passengers but better to bring your own mask to be on the safe side.

Cash, credit cards, ATM cards

Cash, credit cards or ATM cards should never be put in checked luggage in the event your checked luggage is delayed, lost or stolen.

Printed itinerary/ hotel and flight confirmations

I like to print my hotel and flight e-mail confirmations.  I don’t want to rely on having wi-fi or my data plan working.

Glasses/ Contacts/Sunglasses

These items are hard to replace while traveling and should always be in your carry on bags. I also like to pack my sunglasses with me.

Essential medication and prescriptions

You don’t want to worry about not having any medication you need if your checked luggage is delayed.

Electronics (cell phone, camera, computer, adaptors), jewelry and other valuables

Don’t put anything in your checked luggage that you cannot afford to lose.  This includes electronics, jewelry and other expensive or sentimental belongings. If you plan to use your electronics in flight, you might want to bring an  external battery  so you can charge your electronics.

Change of clothing (including underwear)

It is a good idea to have a spare change of clothes and underwear in case your luggage is delayed. You do not want to have to live in the clothes you traveled with.  Yes, you can buy new clothes but stores are not open 24-7. I also bring a pair of flip flops  that double as my shower shoes.

Push Pin Travel Maps

Reading material/entertainment

Long flights (especially in economy) can be awful unless you have something to entertain you like a book, movie etc. Make sure to pick a good movie or book that you can get absorbed in so that time flies.  While long flights have movies as in flight entertainment, sometimes the movie selection is not a movie that I would enjoy. Personally I find books more relaxing than movies. If you would rather not bring actual books, consider bringing a Kindle .

Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss

On a long flight you might want to brush your teeth.  I find it easier to sleep after I brush.

Lip balm, lotion and other toiletries

The air in the flight is very dry.  Lip balm and lotion are at the top of my in flight essentials list . Also bring any toiletries you would need on a flight including face wipes, contact lens solution and makeup.

Antibacterial wipes or sanitizing lotion

Airplane surfaces can be very dirty.  I use antibacterial wipes to wipe down my tray table, arm rests etc. These wipes are my favorite because they are individually wrapped.

Eye mask, ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones, sleeping pill or melatonin

If you have trouble sleeping with lights on bring an eye mask. Ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones are also useful to block out noise and help you sleep. Melatonin has been proven to help with sleep.

I’ve heard that the blankets are not washed between flights.  You might want to bring your own blanket.

You might find it more comfortable to travel with a neck travel pillow or your own pillow.

Compression socks

If you are traveling on a long economy flight, you might want to wear compression socks to prevent DVT . While everyone is at risk for blood clots on long cramped flights, compression socks are a must if you are pregnant, older or have a history of blog clots. I like these socks  that can be worn by both men and women and come in variety of colors and patterns.

Scarf and extra sweater or fleece

Planes can be chilly.  A scarf can be handy for keeping you warm.  In the event you do not have an eye mask, you can also use your scarf to cover your face.  Even if traveling in the summer, you might want to bring an extra layer (like a sweater or fleece) in your carry on.

In case you don’t like airplane food or would like healthier choices, snacks are a good idea.  Nuts and granola bars are good options.

Bottle of water

Because the air is so dry on flight, dehydration happens quicker when flying than it would at home.  I bring a bottle of water with me on the flight.  While the flight attendants do bring water it is good to bring extra water for times when they are seated such as takeoff and landing.

Bring at least one pen for filling out customs forms when traveling internationally, taking notes, doing crossword puzzles etc.

Click to download a pdf of my  Carry On Bag Essentials List .

Here are some tips to survive a long flight in economy .

What to Pack in a Carry On Bag

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Great suggestions. I agree with the blanket and neck rest or pillow. On my last trip I took the airline pillow out of the plastic bag and there was hair on the pillow. That was it for me!

I always pack only carryon baggage and wondered how other travelers approach this tactic. Fun stuff.

This is a great list! Neck pillows seem to be the one item that a lot of folks regretting not packing.

Indeed, keeping your glasses and contacts in your carry on luggage is a good idea. This way you are able to use them whenever you need them. And, if your other bags get lost then you can still be able to see.

Agree! I am always worried about my bag getting lost that is why I make sure I have everything essential in my carry on.

I always like reading about what others pack – always great to hear another perspective. Great tips!

These are great. I usually bring a shawl or pashmina scarf with me to double as a blanket.

my eye mask is my most essential carry on piece of luggage!

Great list! I never think about the change of clothes but it is a great idea. A lost or delayed suitcase can happen. It happened to family members on our last trip to Lisbon and they didn’t have anything so we had to buy some stuff.

Compression socks for the long trips…. Can’t live without them! Of course, I have finally had to admit, though only in the privacy of our own home, that I must be getting older.

  • Pingback: The Ultimate Guide on How to Survive a Long Flight in Economy

Great list! I also try to remember to bring a hair tie or something like that to keep my hair out of my face.

This is a very useful compilation. You never know the importance any even the most insignificant item on this list until your find yourself in the middle of nowhere without something you really need. I have had a messed up camp experience when I forgot my lip balm at the hotel.

Good stuff!

Yes, a bag of mixed nuts and a granola bar are always must-haves in my carry on. It’s saved me on more than on occasion when there’s been a delay on the tarmac and my tummy was growling.

Lots of good suggestions here! I usually just use a carry-on for my entire trip so in addition to all of these plane essentials, I have all of my clothing, toiletries, etc. I also like to print out my hotel and plane confirmations. And it’s super handy to have a copy of your passport as well in case it gets lost.

wow! Great list! I never think about the change of clothes but it is a great idea. A lost or delayed suitcase can happen. It happened to family members on our last trip to Lisbon and they didn’t have anything so we had to buy some stuff.

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11 Best Luggage Pieces for International Travel, Tested by Experts

These are the top-tested soft and hardside carry-ons, checked bags, duffels and more to take on your next adventure abroad.

best luggage pieces for international travel

We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.

Freeform Hardside Expandable Spinner

Best Overall

Samsonite freeform hardside expandable spinner.

20-Inch Hardside Spinner

Amazon Basics 20-Inch Hardside Spinner

The Carry-On

Best Carry-On

Away the carry-on.

31-inch Baseline Extra Large Expandable Spinner

Best Checked

Briggs & riley 31-inch baseline extra large expandable spinner.

Checked Luggage

July Checked Luggage

Platinum Elite Softside Expandable Checked Luggage

Best for Frequent Travelers

Travelpro platinum elite softside expandable checked luggage.

Helium DLX Softside Expandable Luggage

Best Budget

Delsey paris helium dlx softside expandable luggage.

Adventure Rolling Duffle Bag, 135L

Best Rolling Duffel

L.l.bean adventure rolling duffle bag, 135l.

Allpa 35L Travel Pack

Best Backpack

Cotopaxi allpa 35l travel pack.

Luka Duffel

Best Weekender

Calpak luka duffel.

As you start planning your next trip abroad, looking into hotels, flights and tourist attractions, don't forget that the key to a smooth travel experience is a great piece of luggage. When you're traveling internationally, it's especially important to bring a suitcase that complies with airline restrictions, is comfortable to carry or roll throughout your journey and has plenty of room for all of your belongings and your souvenirs for the trip home.

This top-performing suitcase from our best overall luggage brand Samsonite has repeatedly stood out in the Textiles Lab's and our consumers' tests and is priced under $200 — an incredible value. The hardside carry-on is made of polypropylene and weighs in at just 6.5 pounds, which is one of the lightest bags we've tested, so it won't eat too much into the lower weight restrictions set by many international airlines.

I was impressed by how easy it was to lift and roll the bag around, even when filled with our standard packing load. Despite the lightweight design, this carry-on is spacious with a butterfly-opening, unfolding into two primary compartments for easy packing, and there's an additional one inch of expandable storage with the pull of a zipper.

During our Lab evaluations, we liked how easy it was to pull the bag through our luggage obstacle course. While some testers said the telescopic handle felt a bit loose, the suitcase earned high scores for maneuverability, with testers sharing feedback including "very smooth rolling" and "the wheels moved really well." The material was more prone to scratching than some others we evaluated, but the suitcase proved to be durable overall in our drop tests, resisting major damage.

Listed dimensions: 21.25" x 15.25" x 10" | Weight: 6.5 lbs | Material: Hardside polypropylene | Expandable: Yes | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

samsonite suitcases in a hallway

With more than 34,000 five-star ratings, t his best-selling suitcase from Amazon Basics is loved by both real users and our consumer testers who say it's worth every penny. Made of lightweight ABS plastic, the hardside suitcase isn't quite as durable as those made of polycarbonate, but the material helps to keep the cost low — under $100 — so I recommend it for someone shopping on a budget.

During our Textiles Lab evaluations for durability, there were some noticeable markings in our scratch tests, but we were impressed by how well the bag maintained its shape after being released repeatedly from our drop tester. Amazon reviewers who regularly use the suitcases say they hold up over time, as well.

When our consumer testers rolled the suitcase through our obstacle course, they were wowed by how smooth the wheels were, with one describing the bag as "very easy to move." We gave the carry-on high scores for packability, as we were able to pack our standard load of belongings (clothing, accessories and toiletries) for a short trip inside with room to spare. Plus, there are interior zippered mesh pockets for easy organization, and the bag expands up to one extra inch for additional packing space.

Listed dimensions: 22" x 14.9" x 10" | Weight: 7.3 lbs | Material: Hardside ABS plastic | Expandable: Yes | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

a suitcase from amazon basics closed and open in a hallway

One of the most popular suitcases on the market, Away's standard carry-on is definitely worth the hype . The bag is available in 11 colors, including on-trend options like green and red, along with neutral hues like gray and black.

Not only is the suitcase simple and stylish from the outside, it's also full of functional features inside to make packing for your next international trip a breeze. The bag unfolds into two separate primary compartments to fit all of your things: one fully zippered side and one with adjustable compression straps, and there are mesh pockets to stash smaller items.

Consumer testers and GH analysts alike love to travel with the Away carry-on, including one who shared, "It fit all of the clothes I needed for a long weekend. It rolled really easily and was light enough to pop in and out of the overhead bin." Testers said the telescopic handle felt flimsier than others they tried, but they were impressed with the bag overall, saying that it was easy to maneuver and roll over different types of flooring, including wood, carpet and tile. And it looked great after our drop and scratch tests, showing no major signs of damage or dents.

Listed dimensions: 9" x 13.7" x 21.7" | Weight: 8.1 lbs | Material: Hardside polycarbonate | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 100 days, unused

suitcases from away open and closed

Briggs & Riley 31-inch Baseline Extra Large Expandable Spinner

The innovative design details of this softside checked bag from Briggs & Riley help to simplify packing for extended trips abroad. The bag features a unique push-button expansion system unlike any other we've evaluated , which allows you to easily expand the bag, fill it with everything you'll need and then compress it back down to its standard size.

One tester who was impressed with the amount of space in the carry-on version of the bag shared, "It fit clothing and accessories for two people for a seven-day summer vacation." And this checked bag offers more than double the packing capacity. Other innovative features include a built-in trifold garment folder for formal attire and reinforced corners for added protection.

At 15.6 pounds, the suitcase does weigh more than other models we've evaluated, but it is made with a nylon material that resisted wear and tear when I tested it in our abrasion machine. It also earned top marks in our latest round of drop testing. Along with performing well for durability, the suitcase received high scores for maneuverability, with smooth wheels and a sturdy telescopic handle.

Listed dimensions: 31" x 22" x 13.8" | Weight: 15.6 lbs | Material: Softside nylon | Expandable: Yes | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

a briggs and riley suitcase opened and closed in a hallway

Rolling a bag through the airport has never been easier than it is with July's classic luggage , including this spacious checked suitcase and its popular carry-on bags . One GH analyst who took the checked bag on a vacation abroad said, "I've never used a suitcase with wheels this smooth." I've personally traveled with luggage from the brand and was blown away by how effortless it was to roll the suitcases, even over carpet and concrete sidewalks.

The telescopic handle technically locks at 20 different heights to prevent it from falling down on its own, and most testers appreciated the slanted grip on the handle, sharing that it was comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver with.

Made with a polycarbonate shell, the suitcase is lightweight and durable, and the corners are reinforced with aluminum bumpers for an added level of protection. The bag held up well after being released repeatedly from our drop tester, but testers noted marks and scuffs on the surface after taking the bag on just one trip.

It boasts 80 liters of packing space and features one fully zippered compartment and one open compartment with a compression panel and Y-strap for security. Even more, it weighs just 8.3 pounds, which is similar to many of the carry-on sized bags we evaluate.

Listed dimensions: 26" x 18.75" x 11" | Weight: 8.3 lbs | Material: Hardside polycarbonate with aluminum corners | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 100 days, unused

a july suitcase opened and closed against carpeting

Travelpro luggage was created by a pilot who wanted to make bags specifically for other pilots and airline crewmembers who were always on the go. The result is a collection of highly durable, quality suitcases including the popular Platinum Elite medium checked suitcase.

Built to last, the luggage is made of heavyweight nylon material that performed well when I tested it for abrasion resistance. When I released the bag repeatedly from our drop tester, it showed no signs of damage or dents. Our testers also gave the suitcase high scores for ease of use and appreciated the sturdy feel of the telescopic handle. The suitcase does have a more traditional look, though, which some testers described as "old-fashioned," sharing that they wished it were sleeker.

Full of thoughtful and functional features, the suitcase makes packing and traveling a breeze. The bag can be unzipped to reveal one large packing compartment with compression panels that secure your belongings in place, a removable wet bag for toiletries, a large mesh zippered pocket in the lid for breathable storage and a built-in suiter to help keep more formal clothes in tip-top shape. To prevent the suitcase from tipping over when it's full, it's also designed with a unique tapered expansion system, so the bag is narrower at the top and broader at the bottom.

Listed dimensions: 25" x 18" x 11.25" | Weight: 9.8 lbs | Material: Softside nylon | Expandable: Yes | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

two travelpro suitcases open and closed

While some softside luggage is bulky and pricey, this Helium DLX carry-on from Delsey is lightweight, as the name implies, and it's available for a great value. The polyester material isn't quite as durable or substantial as nylon styles we've tested, but the brand's polyester fabric has performed well overall in our abrasion tests without major wear.

Two external zippered pockets allow for easy access to travel essentials like your phone and ID, so you won't have to hold up the TSA line while scouring through your bag. While the bag unzips to expose only one main compartment for packing, it's equipped with a removable bi-fold organizer and expands by two inches for additional room. One tester said, "I love the pockets." Plus, the inner lining can be fully unzipped and removed for easy cleaning.

I personally carry luggage from Delsey and love the smooth wheels and sturdy telescopic handle, and our testers who tried Delsey's luggage found the handle to be comfortable to grip and use. However, they said the bags were more difficult to maneuver through our obstacle course than others they tested.

Listed dimensions: 12" x 17.75" x 28" | Weight: 8.4 lbs | Material: Softside polyester | Expandable: Yes | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

a delsey suitcase open and closed in a hallway

A rolling duffel like this one from L.L.Bean is ideal for longer adventures abroad or for overpackers like me. The duffel isn't as structured as standard suitcases, meaning you can compress it and slide it under your bed or in a closet if you're pressed for storage space — and on the other hand, you can really fill it to the brim when you're packing. Just be careful that you're not stuffing it too much because it can be easy to exceed an airline's weight restrictions.

One GH analyst who loves to travel with this bag said that it's one of her go-to picks for family vacations. With just two wheels, our analyst said it's a little more cumbersome to maneuver than a spinner suitcase, but you also have the option to carry the bag with the padded strap.

The bag has a wide opening for easy access to everything you need inside, and outer compression straps keep everything in place. Made of durable polyester material with a reinforced base, the duffel lasts for years and years without signs of wear, according to our analyst. Plus, it's water-resistant inside and out — perfect for inevitable leaks or wet weather. If you're looking for something smaller, the brand carries a variety of sizes to meet your travel needs.

Listed dimensions: 14" x 17.25" x 32.5" | Weight: 8.8 lbs | Material: Softside polyester | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 1 year

When we evaluated this bag in the Textiles Lab, we were amazed by just how much we could fit inside during our packing tests. Not only did it beat out other travel backpacks we tested, it also outperformed some of our carry-ons because of its spacious interior .

The backpack has a suitcase-style opening and fully unzips to expose a highly organized interior jam-packed with zippered mesh pockets for all of your belongings. It also features a padded laptop sleeve that fits up to a 17-inch computer.

Made of recycled nylon and polyester, the bag is durable and water-resistant. When I tested it for abrasion resistance in the Lab, there were no visible signs of wear. Details like a sternum strap, waist belt and padded mesh provide comfort and support. With backpack straps that tuck neatly inside the back of the bag and carrying straps on all sides, you can easily grab it to lift into an overhead bin.

Some online reviewers wished it was equipped with a water bottle holder and said the zippers can be finicky, but we didn't have issues with them in the Lab.

Listed dimensions: 22" x 12" x 10" | Weight: 3.5 lbs | Material: Softside polyester and nylon | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

a backpack from cotopaxi unzipped and opened

Able to hold everything you need for a weekend getaway, this weekender from Calpak was the top performer in our Textiles Lab tests. Not only is the bag totally on-trend, thanks to the puffy padded design and fashionable color options, it's also full of functional features . One tester who used it as her personal item on a long trip said, "This bag fits everything I need and more!"

A GH analyst who used the bag added, "I appreciate the well-organized interior," which includes several zippered pockets and elastic storage. Outside, there's a separate shoe compartment, additional zippered pockets and a water bottle holder. Altogether, there are nine pockets, and the spacious bag aced our packing tests.

If you're pairing it with Calpak's popular luggage , this bag has a trolley sleeve that slides right over the telescopic handle of your suitcase. One tester noted that the stitching that secured the sleeve in place started unraveling a bit after just one use. The bag is made of a smooth polyester material that's comfortable to carry and water-resistant. A tester said, "It poured while I was traveling and everything inside this bag stayed perfectly dry."

Listed dimensions: 12" x 16" x 7" | Weight: 2 lbs | Material: Softside polyester | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

a gh staffer carrying the calpak luka duffel

Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler 40L Duffel Bag

Cargo Hauler 40L Duffel Bag

This convertible duffel from Eagle Creek is the perfect adventure travel companion. The bag is durable, combining polyester and nylon for a water-resistant material that also held up well when tested for abrasion resistance . One GH analyst who travels with this duffel said that it still looks great after years of regular rough and tough use.

It's structured and maintains its shape for easy packing, but the duffel can be compressed to bring inside of your suitcase as an extra bag or for compact storage at home. According to our testers and GH analyst, the zippers have large pull tabs that are easy to use, and, according to the brand, they're covered in water-resistant strips for the ultimate protection in wet weather.

The duffel features a reinforced top handle and grab handles along the sides for carrying, and there are adjustable backpack straps for hands-free use that can be connected for an additional carrying strap or tucked inside the bag. Some online reviewers said the backpack straps are on the thinner side and weren't as comfortable as other traditional travel backpacks, but they appreciated the convenient option.

Listed dimensions: 11.5" x 23.25" x 11" | Weight: 2.5 lbs | Material: Softside polyester and nylon | Expandable: No | Returns: Within 30 days, unused

Headshot of Amanda Constantine

Amanda (she/her) researches and reports on products in the Good Housekeeping Institute 's Textiles, Paper & Apparel Lab, ranging from clothing and accessories to home furnishings. She holds undergraduate degrees in apparel merchandising and product development and advertising and marketing communications, as well as a master of science degree in consumer sciences from The Ohio State University. Prior to joining Good Housekeeping in 2022, Amanda was a lecturer for the fashion and retail studies program at Ohio State, where she taught fashion and textiles courses.

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The Ultimate Checklist for Traveling Abroad

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Shannon McMahon

Editor Shannon McMahon is always planning her next trip and often writing in her travel journal. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_ and on Instagram @shanmcmahon .

Shannon joined SmarterTravel in 2015. A former news reporter, she's lived in the south of Spain, spotted elephants in Sri Lanka, gone spelunking in the Caribbean, hiked Jordan's Petra Basin, interviewed Sao Paulo's Michelin-Star chefs, and explored China via bullet train. Travel trends, news oddities, and her visits to up-and-coming destinations are some of her favorite things to write about.

Her stories have also appeared online on USA Today, The Sun, Huffington Post, Business Insider, blog.TripAdvisor.com, Boston.com, and more. Her educational background is in journalism, art history, gender studies, Spanish, and film. She's been quoted as an expert travel source by CNBC, People.com, MarketWatch, The Washington Post, USA Today, and more.

The Handy Item I Always Pack : "Plenty of extra thick hair elastics. They tame my frizzy curls and come in handy in a surprising number of packing and hotel dilemmas."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience : "Climbing (yes, climbing, it's steep!) the Great Wall of China before it's gone."

Travel Motto : "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness." - Mark Twain

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat : "Window, of course."

Email Shannon at [email protected] .

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Traveling internationally is an adventure best planned ahead of time, and not just when it comes to booking flights and packing. Sure, showing up at your gate sans passport or forgetting melatonin for your red-eye flight can put a damper on your long-awaited escape, but most of your preparation should be dedicated to ensuring health, safety, and financial necessities are covered. To save you some prep time, we’ve compiled this international travel checklist for your next long-distance journey.

Focus on Safety First

Two boarding passes, a model plane, a travel insurance document, and a pen on a white table

One of the easiest and most important items on an overseas travel checklist is also arguably the most ignored. Travel insurance and State Department alerts can be incredibly important in emergencies abroad, but many tourists bet they won’t become part of the small percentage of travelers who require evacuation assistance or protection from hotel or flight cancellations.

Subscribing to the State Department’s STEP alerts for your destination can help you stay up to date on upcoming and current travel restrictions, strikes, and areas of political unrest. Any alerts you receive will let you know whether or not to plan for some unexpected obstacles in advance.

Travel insurance can cost as little as a few dollars per travel day and cover anything from replacing a broken camera to emergency medical attention, potentially saving you hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars.

Get Your Travel Documents and Credit Cards in Order

Make sure your passport and any necessary travel visas are up to date. Some countries require a passport to be valid for at least six months after your scheduled return, so make sure you won’t be turned away or delayed at customs because of an old passport. Not sure if you need a visa? See this list of every country that requires a visa for Americans .

Keep physical and digital copies of your passport and all your paperwork in case anything is lost, and give copies as well as your itinerary and contact numbers to family and friends whom you can contact in case of an emergency.

Notify your bank and credit card companies about your travel dates so they don’t deny your purchases, and ask about international ATM fees so you can find out which ones won’t charge you. It’s always a good idea to bring multiple cards in case one stops working.

Don’t underestimate how helpful a cell phone photo of your passport can be. Whether you have to go to the consulate and report it lost, or are just filling out a customs card and need your passport number, it will likely come in handy. Email the image to yourself to have an extra digital copy in case your phone runs out of batteries or goes missing. You may also want to bring a spare copy of your passport photo on your trip; having it handy will speed the processing of a new document.

Your Questions About Online Passport Renewal, Answered

Get Vaccinated

It’s best to get the necessary vaccinations out of the way as soon as possible since it can take a few weeks to build full immunity. Some also require multiple doses, which may need to be administered over days, weeks, or even months. Talk to your doctor about getting the CDC-recommended shots , as the protocol for vaccines varies by country. For example, dozens of countries require proof of a yellow fever vaccination if you’ve been to at-risk areas. A travel clinic can help you sort out which vaccinations and medications you might need.

Keep your vaccination certificate in your carry-on in case customs requires you to present it when entering the country.

Study Up on Your Destination

Woman studying a map in a square in Spain

Whether you’re a travel app connoisseur or more of a paperback guidebook person, having some source of knowledge about your destination is invaluable. Read about the region you’re traveling to in advance to gain insight into important information such as currency exchange rates, useful phrases, tipping norms , appropriate clothing, and cultural/legal customs. It’s best to be prepared so you don’t land yourself in a compromising situation.

8 English Words You Should Never Use Abroad

Make Sure Your Home Is Cared For

There’s nothing worse than realizing once you’re six time zones away that you forgot to stop your mail delivery or ask someone to water your expertly cultivated house plants. Make sure your daily tasks are covered before you leave, or appoint a trusty friend to do them for you.

You can find a house or pet sitter to do your chores if you’re willing to list your home on TrustedHouseSitters.com . Plus, you could find lodging through the site for your trip abroad if you’re willing to spend some time with someone else’s furry friends.

Stay Connected

Want to stay in touch while traveling abroad? If you haven’t taken your phone overseas before, call your mobile provider to make sure it will work in the country you’re visiting and to ask about international phone plans that might be available. If your carrier’s plans are expensive, a mobile hotspot can be a cost-effective alternative.

Download the Necessities

Woman sitting in window seat on airplane listening to media on her phone using noise cancelling headphones

Sometimes the most important thing you’ll pack is in your smartphone rather than your suitcase. Offline maps are your best friend when it comes to traveling with limited data or battery. You can find Wi-Fi in many places, but downloading offline maps through Google Maps or CityMaps2Go will allow you to follow your GPS without using up battery life and roaming data.

Downloading in-flight entertainment could also save you if your TV malfunctions on the long-haul flight. Streaming won’t be available without consistent in-flight Wi-Fi (which you shouldn’t ever depend on) but you can pre-download movies and TV shows through Amazon Prime , and music streaming service Spotify allows paying users to download tracks for offline use with the press of a button.

Don’t forget a portable backup charger . Watching hours of your favorite TV show is sure to drain your battery life, and there’s nothing worse than finally finding a Wi-Fi spot only to have your phone die.

The 10 Best Travel Podcasts

Check Your Destination’s COVID Policies

Make sure you’re aware of your destination’s most up-to-date policies regarding COVID and vaccination status. Check with the State Department website well before your trip to make sure you meet the requirements, and check in periodically to monitor for potentially changes. Similarly to the US, mask-wearing policies may be left up to the discretion of an event or venue, so its a good idea to have a few masks on hand when out and about.

Pack These Essentials

While the contents of your checked bag will largely depend on the climate you’re visiting, you’ll want most of your trip’s essentials on hand in your carry-on. Start with this international travel checklist of items to pack:

  • Passport and visa
  • Medications
  • Insurance and ID cards
  • Cash, debit cards, and credit cards
  • Pen to fill out customs forms
  • Portable charger
  • Earplugs , eye mask , and sleeping pills
  • Electrical converters and adapters specific to your destination
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Sweater / scarf in case the plane is chilly
  • Cell phone and charger

For more ideas, check out our ultimate packing list .

Consider taking photos of your packed suitcase (both inside and out) in case it gets lost. That way, airline employees will know what to look for, and you’ll know what was inside in case you don’t get it back and need to file a claim.

Book Your Stay With SmarterTravel Hotels

An important item to check off the list: make sure you have a place to stay when you reach your destination! Book your hotel for a great rate with SmarterTravel Hotels .

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Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Twitter @shanmcmahon_ .

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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International travel essentials you should never travel without – checklist.

Heading on an international trip and not sure what to pack? Obviously your packing list will vary by your destination, but there are several travel essentials that you’ll want to bring with you on EVERY international trip, no matter the destination. Here’s my international travel essentials checklist of items to bring — see printable checklist at the end of the post:

14 Essential Things to Bring on EVERY International Trip - International Travel Checklist

1. passport + travel documents.

Make sure you have your passport and all travel documents, including:

  • Your boarding pass
  • Confirmation of where you’ll be staying (customs forms often ask for the address)
  • Visa, if needed (check which countries require a Visa for Americans here )
  • Insurance (both regular health and travel insurance )

2. Copy of ALL DOCUMENTS - International Travel Essentials

I ALWAYS make a copy or two of my passport, Driver’s License, and Visa before going on any trip, and take photos of everything on my phone. It’s a good idea to keep one in your carry-on and another in your luggage just in case anything ever got lost. I also always make sure to have my Known Traveler Number (KTN) written down somewhere in case I need it – I wrote it in my passport book.

You May Also Like: 11 Thing to Know Before Traveling Internationally

3. Cash + Credit Cards

It’s always a good idea to travel with some cash and at least two credit or debit cards just in case one gets lost of stolen. I keep one card in my purse and the other back in the room or in a separate bag.

International Travel Essentials - cash and cards

TRAVEL TIP: Make sure you alert your bank that you will be traveling BEFORE you go. It’s a nightmare having your card frozen because your bank sees “suspicious” charges from another county.

4. Copy of Emergency Contact Info

Make copies of your emergency contact’s info and keep it in your luggage and carry-on. It is also a good idea to give copies of your itinerary to your emergency contact, just so they know where you’re supposed to be and when.

5. Phone + Portable Charger

Obviously you’ll want to bring your phone whenever traveling internationally (or literally any other time you leave the house, let’s be honest)! I also bring an extra battery pack too, you’d hate to end up with a dead phone in a foreign place.

International Travel Essentials - phone

TRAVEL TIP: Check out these 24 apps every traveler should have on their phone .

6. Universal Plug Adapter - International Travel Essentials

Save yourself some money in the long run and buy a universal plug adapter that will work in any country. This one is well-reviewed and under $20 on Amazon.

7. Hand Sanitizer/Wipes

I think now more than ever people are aware of germs. To help prevent you from getting sick and spreading germs, always keep a bottle of hand sanitizer or wipes with you when traveling. 

You Might Also Like:  How to Stay Healthy While Traveling

8. Medications + Basic First Aid

Whenever I travel, In addition to my prescribed medications, I like to bring a small supply of basic medications just in case you need them or they are not readily available wherever you are traveling to (try finding Benadryl in the middle of Croatia ). I personally bring:

  • something to help me sleep like  Benadryl ,  ZzzQuil , or  melatonin
  • Emergen-C  or  Airborne
  • Tums ,  Pepto ,   Immodium , etc
  • dry eye relief eye drops
  • a couple of  bandaids

International Travel Essentials - medicine case

TRAVEL TIP: Instead of bringing full bottles, use a travel pill organizer to save room in your luggage by bringing only what you need! You can use a sharpie to label what everything is on the cover.

9. TSA Approved Lock

Having a TSA Approved lock not only keeps your stuff safe, it may come in handy more than you realize. It can be used to secure a purse or bag to a chair at a restaurant to prevent theft. If you want to be extra cautious, lock up your suitcase and secure it to something sturdy anytime you leave your hotel room.

international travel carry on necessities

10. Lightweight Sweater or Jacket or Blanket

I always have a lightweight sweater or blanket in my carry-on no matter where I’m flying to (even a  tropical beach vacation ) in case it gets cold on the plane or in the airport!

You May Also Like: List of the Best Travel Pillows

11. Noise Canceling Headphones - Must-Have International Travel Essentials

I have said this in so many post, and I’ll say it again… Noise Canceling Headphones are SO WORTH IT. Yes, they are expensive, but I swear they make a huge difference and are worth the cost if you travel often.

International Travel Essentials - noice canceling headphones

12. Water Bottle

Water is obviously important! Stay hydrated on your trip and save money by bringing your own water bottle.  Vacuum insulated water bottles   are great because they doesn’t “sweat” and keep water cold for a long time!

13. Pen + Paper

You may not use a pen often, but you still have to fill out most customs paperwork by hand, so stick a pen or two in your carry-on. I like to bring a small journal with me as well.

14. Ziplock Bags

You’d be surprised how often Ziplock bags come in handy! They don’t take up any space, so pack a couple in your suitcase.

Here is a link to the International Travel Essentials Checklist in a Google Doc (seen below). You can “Create a Copy” and customize the list for yourself and print it!

International Travel Essentials Checklist

What do you always bring when traveling internationally? Share by commenting below or sending me a DM on Instagram .  Happy travels! 

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2 thoughts on “ international travel essentials you should never travel without – checklist ”.

I had only few problems with travelling. I think it is very important to stay safe while traveling, during my last travel in Europe I had a problem with my date while using Wi-Fi a lot of my data from my Phone and Laptop where stolen. I think you should use VPN while traveling. Some VPN are free and worth using! https://howtogetavpn.com

There are rough spots, like bumps and steep roads, that you have to compensate for when making turns. Some platforms are also more narrow and require precise time synchronization to align properly. Drift Boss

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Long Flight Essentials: 20 Carry On Essentials For Long Flights

Posted on Last updated: March 14, 2023

Looking for all the carry-on essentials you will need on your next long flight? You’ve come to the right place!

As a full time travel blogger and part time tour leader I fly a lot. It’s part of my job description.

After countless 12+ hours cramped in a tiny airplane seat wishing I’d either downloaded a new book on my Kindle, or wishing I’d charged my laptop, or that I hadn’t forgotten my travel pillow, you can say I’ve learnt from experience and am kind of an expert on what carry on essentials you should always bring on long flights.

In this guide I’ve listed all the top long flight essentials you should always remember to pack in your carry on.

So learn from my mistakes, and read on to discover the carry on essentials for long flights that you always need!

  • 1.1 Travel pillow
  • 1.2 Sleeping mask
  • 1.3 Ear-plugs
  • 1.4 A pair of socks
  • 2.1 Noise cancelling headphones
  • 2.3 Laptop & camera
  • 3.1 Hand sanitiser
  • 3.2 Lip balm & moisturiser
  • 3.3 Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • 3.4 Clear cosmetics case for toiletries
  • 3.5 Chewing gum
  • 3.6 First aid kit / essential medicines
  • 4.1 Scarf or shawl
  • 4.2 Collapsible water bottle
  • 4.3 Portable power bank
  • 4.4 Outfit change

Long flight essentials

Carry on essentials for sleeping on long flights

Travel pillow.

For years I refused to use a travel pillow. I would walk past them in airport shops and think they looked bulky, uncomfortable to carry around and they made you look ridiculous when you wear them.

After all I’ve always been able to sleep on planes without one so why bother.

However age catches up with all of us and when I started waking up from sleeping on planes with neck pains I figured it was time to give it a go. I have a Trtl travel pillow and love it.

It’s fairly small so it’s not too inconvenient to carry around, I usually strap it on the outside of my backpack so it doesn’t take up any space at all. It doesn’t look too ridiculous as far as travel pillows go and it’s super comfy, a win all round!

Now whether it’s a long flight, bus, train or car journey I always take it with me, a real carry on essential!

Purchase your Trtl travel pillow here!

Trtl travel pillow - a long flight essential for me

Me using a Trtl pillow and loving it during a long flight

Sleeping mask

If you’re trying to sleep on a plane and it’s not an overnight flight you might struggle with the lights turned on, it’s a good idea to pack a sleeping mask so you can cover your eyes.

Even if it’s an overnight flight and your number insists on having the light turned on you can still be in the dark and get some rest.

Click here to purchase your sleeping mask!

Similarly to the sleeping mask, whether it’s a night or day flight it’s always good to pack ear-plugs to help you sleep. You don’t want to find yourself next to a crying baby that will keep you awake for the whole flight.

Click here to purchase your ear-plugs!

Long flight essentials for your carry on bag

A pair of socks

If you’re anything like me one of the first things you do when you get on a plane is removing your shoes. After all if I’m going to be sat there for hours, I want to be comfortable.

Especially if the seats next to me are free and I’m going to lie down to sleep, I don’t want to put my shoes on the seat.

However it’s also very inconvenient trying to shuffle your shoes back on in the dark whenever you want to go for a walk or to the toilet.

I always pack a pair of thick socks to wear on the plane so I can be comfortable while sat down and can walk easily around.

Find the perfect travel socks for you here!

Carry on essentials for long flights

Long flight essentials for entertainment

Noise cancelling headphones.

I like bringing my own headphones because let’s be real, the ones they give you on planes are always a bit rubbish.

I’ve also been on long flights where they didn’t provide headphones and my Kindle was out of battery so I found myself having to watch Kong with subtitles.

Let me tell you, despite the best efforts of whoever write subtitles, those explosions and fight scenes are not quite the same without audio.

Bring your own noise cancelling headphones and you’re sure to have your share of movies and music for your next long flight without disturbances!

Purchase your noise cancelling headphones here!

Long flight essentials to pack in your carry on bag

I love reading. I also love really long descriptive fantasy sagas like Lord of the Rings, which can be fairly inconvenient to take with you travelling if you have the “real book” paper copy.

Hard core book fans will tell you it’s not the same thing, you don’t have the pleasure of flicking the pages, the smell of a new book etcetera etcetera. As someone who can easily get through a book a day, I call bullshit.

Especially if you’re going on a long flight or on a long trip, you don’t want to be taking multiple heavy books with you. I made the switch to Kindle years ago and would never turn back.

The new ones also have an inbuilt light so you don’t even have to turn on the big overhead light during a flight and disturb all your neighbours (top that paper books!) Just remember to download enough books for your flight!

I also found that over the years it has saved me loads of money because there are lots of free books for Kindle, and the Kindle version is always cheaper than its paper equivalent.

Purchase your Kindle here!

Carry on essentials for long flights

Laptop & camera

I always pack my laptop and camera in my carry on, not necessarily because I will use them but more because I don’t want to risk them getting ruined or lost in the hold.

Plus if it’s the end of the trip you can entertain yourself looking back on your photos on your camera or you can do some work on your laptop.

You can also download movies on your laptop if you’re not sure you will like any of the movies in the inflight entertainment.

Click here to purchase your perfect travel camera!

Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Italy

Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Italy

Health & beauty travel essentials for long flights

Hand sanitiser.

Moving on from essentials to help you sleep and fun essentials, it’s time to look at health and beauty essentials that will ensure you are feeling fabulous when you land at destination.

Number one long flight essential is a good hand sanitiser . With so many people coughing, sneezing, and even just breathing in a contained space for an extended period of time, planes are the perfect gathering location for germs.

Especially if you’re flying with children, you will want to add this to your family flying essentials . If you’re flying with a baby, you will also need an airplane bassinet , but don’t worry, as airlines will usually provide this (just remember to request it beforehand!)

Purchase your hand sanitiser for long flights here!

What to pack in your carry-on for long flights

Lip balm & moisturiser

Planes are not only packed with germs, they’re also incredibly dry. All that aircon might feel nice when you board in a hot country but it will dehydrate you really quickly.

Especially if you’re on a long flight make sure to pack some moisturiser and lip balm to keep your skin and lips hydrated.

Purchase your lip balm and moisturiser for your carry-on here!

Toothbrush & toothpaste

If you’re flying overnight or planning on sleeping on the plane, you should bring a small travel toothbrush and toothpaste with you. You will feel so much better after using it and you will land a fresh and new person.


Long flight essentials

Clear cosmetics case for toiletries

You will want to pack all these toiletry essential in a transparent case, so that when you pass through security at the airport you don’t have to unpack it every time and put the liquids in the transparent plastic bags.

You can get a TSA approved cosmetics case so they don’t have to stop you at security to go through your bag. You can also get tiny 100ml travel bottles to pour your liquids instead of having to buy new ones every time.

Purchase your TSA approved clear cosmetics case here!

Cala Corsara on the island of Spargi in Sardinia, Italy

Cala Corsara on the island of Spargi in Sardinia in August (a bit too many boats!)

Chewing gum

Chewing gum has a double use on flights; it makes your breath smell nicer if you can’t be bothered to get up and brush your teeth after sleeping on a plane, and it also helps with equalizing the pressure and avoids annoying pain in your ears.

First aid kit / essential medicines

Similarly to the laptop and camera, I always pack these in my carry-on not because I think I will need them (I really hope not!) but to avoid the off chance of them getting lost in the hold.

If you are taking any essential medicines you should always keep them in your carry-on, imagine if your luggage is lost and arrives a couple days later, you wouldn’t want to be without your medicines for that long!

Given that the incubation period of some diseases is quite long, you might board a plane feeling fine but suddenly feel unwell during the flight, you’ll be glad to have paracetamol and other basics available immediately.

Travel essentials to pack in your carry on bag for long flights

Other airplane essentials for long flights

Scarf or shawl.

Like I said before, planes always have strong air conditioning turned on. I always take a scarf, shawl or sarong with me to wear around my shoulders or as an additional blanket when I’m cold.

Collapsible water bottle

I know they serve water on planes and you can ask for it whenever you want, but I often find it easier to have my own bottle on me on top of that so I don’t have to disturb anyone during the flight if I’m thirsty.

I like the collapsible ones because once you’re done with it you can fold it over and it doesn’t take up as much space in your carry-on.

Purchase a collapsible water bottle here!

Long flight essentials

Portable power bank

I’ve been on a couple fancy new planes that have a USB port to charge your phone, but most airlines sadly don’t have this feature yet.

After running out of battery on my phone or Kindle at the most inconvenient times I now always take a portable power bank with me on flights.

It doesn’t take up much space and ensures my electronics are always charged when I need them to.

Click here to buy your power bank for long flights!


Long flight essentials

Outfit change

Especially if you’re going to a country with a very different climate from the one you set off from, you might want to keep an outfit change in your carry-on so that you can change into more appropriate clothes even before you land.

If you’re on a long flight chances are you’re going somewhere where you’ll have to fill in a landing card. I like to always carry a pen so I don’t have to ask other people or waiting around at passport control to fill in my details.

Best travel items for long flights

Last but not least, don’t forget to bring some food with you!

Yes airlines will give you food on a plane but it’s usually limited at meal times (eg. on a long overnight flight you usually get dinner and breakfast) but let’s be real, the food is never great or particularly abundant.

Plus even if you do eat everything you might still get hungry in between meals. I always pack some nut or cereal bars with me to keep me going.


Carry on essentials for long flights

Final thoughts on carry-on essentials for long flights

What about you? What essentials do you pack in your carry on for long flights? Let me know in the comments below!

These are the essential items I make sure to always have in my carry on bag before any long flight, I hope you find this guide useful in packing your own long flight carry on essentials bag!

Enjoyed reading about the long flight essentials you should be packing in your carry-on? Pin it!

Photo of a plane in the sky with text overlay saying

I've spent 175 hours on long-haul flights. These are the most essential items to keep in your carry-on.

  • Knowing exactly what to pack in your carry-on for a long-haul flight can be tricky.
  • Bag space is limited, but without your carry-on essentials, your flight may feel even longer.
  • Make sure to pack entertainment, extra layers, and deodorant for a more comfortable experience.

Insider Today

From NYC to Germany, Switzerland, and the Pacific Islands, I've spent 175 hours on 26 long-haul flights around the world. When it comes to packing a carry-on for flights longer than six hours , I've certainly made some mistakes. I've forgotten important items and longed for essentials that I didn't even think of.

But now that I've done it more than two dozen times, I think I've mastered the art of packing a carry-on for a long-haul flight. Here are the things I'll always bring with me, no matter the destination.

A refillable water bottle is a must to save money — and plastic — on disposable bottles.

international travel carry on necessities

The  air on flights is very dehydrating , as Business Insider previously reported, and I feel that acutely on longer flights.

I also bring lip balm to keep my lips from getting dry.

international travel carry on necessities

Since lip balm is so small, I typically bring two or three in case I lose one.

To keep your skin hydrated, I recommend slipping some lotion in your carry-on, too.

international travel carry on necessities

Some long-haul flights I've taken have had lotion and face mist in the cabin bathrooms, but I wouldn't count on it.

You should also bring Advil.

international travel carry on necessities

Dry air on planes could cause migraines , BI previously reported.

A toothbrush is a must.

international travel carry on necessities

Some of my trips have been so far away that I had to take three long flights over a 24-hour period . I don't normally go 24 hours without brushing my teeth, and if you don't either, I'd suggest bringing a toothbrush.

Though it won't satisfy a craving for clean teeth, a pack of gum is always helpful for fresh breath.

international travel carry on necessities

Gum also helps combat ear-popping during changes in air pressure.

I recommend bringing a change of clothes — especially if your trip has layovers.

international travel carry on necessities

You may get sweaty, depending on your flight's temperature.

In the same vein, deodorant is essential for these long trips.

international travel carry on necessities

I typically reapply deodorant in airport bathrooms during layovers.

Long flights can be the perfect time to sleep, if you bring some comfort. Thankfully, my step-grandma gifted me this neck pillow for Christmas two years ago.

international travel carry on necessities

It's not your average neck pillow — it wraps around your neck 1.5 times. This makes it much easier to find a comfortable position to sleep in a tiny plane seat.

If a pillow doesn't do the trick, a sleep mask is a total game-changer.

international travel carry on necessities

This is especially helpful for flights during the day. But even on red-eye flights , sleep masks help me block out the lights coming from passenger seat-back screens.

If you're unable to nap, bring entertainment, as some flights don't have tablets on the back of each seat.

international travel carry on necessities

I suggest downloading movies and shows onto your phone or tablet.

If you wouldn't be satisfied with just TV as entertainment for several hours, I also recommend downloading books and podcasts to pass the time.

international travel carry on necessities

I typically download travel guides for the destinations I'm visiting. 

With all this power being used, be sure to pack an external battery charger.

international travel carry on necessities

Most long-haul flights I've been on have had outlets at each seat, but I always back a battery just in case.

Long-haul flights are typically the most grueling and boring aspect of my trips, but I think having these items make them a little more bearable.

international travel carry on necessities

In my experience, long-haul drives can be as grueling as flights. So check out these tips on what to pack for a road trip to make your journey run smoothly.

international travel carry on necessities

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8 Best Carry-On Luggage Bags for Any Type of Trip

Posted: March 12, 2024 | Last updated: March 13, 2024

<h3>July Carry-On Pro</h3> <p>You can't go wrong with the <a href="https://july.com/us/luggage/carry-on-pro/" rel="noopener">July Carry-On Pro</a>, which is considered among the absolute best carry-on luggage bags. This <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/smart-bags-airplanes/" rel="noopener noreferrer">smart luggage</a> is equipped with a handful of noteworthy features. Among them include a detachable padded sleeve (perfect for storing your laptop and other trusty tech and <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/travel-checklist-essentials/">travel essentials</a>), a built-in hidden laundry bag (to keep clean and dirty clothes separated), a TSA-approved lock (for added security) and an ejectable battery (perfect for on-the-go charging). The exterior features a durable polycarbonate shell while the interior is equipped with a water- and stain-resistant nylon lining.</p> <p>"Worth every penny," writes verified buyer Shon B. "Best carry-on I’ve ever owned. Rolls smoothly, has plenty of room and the detachable computer case is next level. The charging station is so convenient! Bought a second for my husband."</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong></p> <ul> <li>Bonus features like a detachable padded sleeve, TSA lock, ejectable battery and hidden laundry bag</li> <li>Sleek and sturdy hardshell construction</li> <li>Lifetime warranty</li> <li>100-day free trial</li> </ul> <p><strong>Cons</strong></p> <ul> <li>Pricey</li> <li>Does not expand</li> </ul> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://july.com/us/luggage/carry-on-pro/">Shop Now</a></p>

Best overall

July carry-on pro.

You can't go wrong with the July Carry-On Pro , which is considered among the absolute best carry-on luggage bags. This smart luggage is equipped with a handful of noteworthy features. Among them include a detachable padded sleeve (perfect for storing your laptop and other trusty tech and travel essentials ), a built-in hidden laundry bag (to keep clean and dirty clothes separated), a TSA-approved lock (for added security) and an ejectable battery (perfect for on-the-go charging). The exterior features a durable polycarbonate shell while the interior is equipped with a water- and stain-resistant nylon lining.

"Worth every penny," writes verified buyer Shon B. "Best carry-on I’ve ever owned. Rolls smoothly, has plenty of room and the detachable computer case is next level. The charging station is so convenient! Bought a second for my husband."

  • Bonus features like a detachable padded sleeve, TSA lock, ejectable battery and hidden laundry bag
  • Sleek and sturdy hardshell construction
  • Lifetime warranty
  • 100-day free trial
  • Does not expand

<h3>Canway 65L Travel Duffel Bag</h3> <p>This durable, do-it-all <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Foldable-Weekender-Compartment-Water-proof-Resistant/dp/B07GVK5VQ1" rel="noopener">duffle bag from Canway</a> is chock-full of functional features at a superb cost. In addition to its foldable and extendable design, the duffel also boasts several pockets (including ones solely designed for shoes) to stay organized. Its water- and tear-resistant material will last for years to come. Customers can choose from 10-plus color options—each for less than $40—so you can <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/shouldnt-wear-on-airplane/">travel in style</a>.</p> <p>"This duffel bag has been on four or five trips with me since I bought it. EVERYTHING fits inside," writes <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3AG4WQP8ZE9R/" rel="noopener">Gillian</a>, one of the 13,000+ five-star reviewers. "There are so many pockets that I've considered a necklace or two 'gone for good' until the bag made a reappearance for another trip. For air travel and quick weekend trips, the duffel bag holds up and things inside stay safe."</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong></p> <ul> <li>Affordable</li> <li>Extendable and foldable design</li> <li>Padded straps provide added comfort</li> <li>Multiple pockets for optimal organization</li> <li>Durable water- and tear-resistant material</li> </ul> <p><strong>Cons</strong></p> <ul> <li>No wheels, so it can get heavy if you tend to overpack</li> </ul> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.amazon.com/Foldable-Weekender-Compartment-Water-proof-Resistant/dp/B07GVK5VQ1">Shop Now</a></p>

Best budget

Canway 65l travel duffel bag.

This durable, do-it-all duffle bag from Canway is chock-full of functional features at a superb cost. In addition to its foldable and extendable design, the duffel also boasts several pockets (including ones solely designed for shoes) to stay organized. Its water- and tear-resistant material will last for years to come. Customers can choose from 10-plus color options—each for less than $40—so you can travel in style .

"This duffel bag has been on four or five trips with me since I bought it. EVERYTHING fits inside," writes Gillian , one of the 13,000+ five-star reviewers. "There are so many pockets that I've considered a necklace or two 'gone for good' until the bag made a reappearance for another trip. For air travel and quick weekend trips, the duffel bag holds up and things inside stay safe."

  • Extendable and foldable design
  • Padded straps provide added comfort
  • Multiple pockets for optimal organization
  • Durable water- and tear-resistant material
  • No wheels, so it can get heavy if you tend to overpack

<h3>Briggs & Riley International Carry-on Expandable Spinner</h3> <p>This <a href="https://www.briggs-riley.com/collections/sympatico/products/international-carry-on-expandable-spinner-su221cxsp" rel="noopener">Briggs & Riley luggage carry-on</a> is expandable, providing up to 22 percent more packing space—making it a solid choice for longer <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/things-never-to-forget-when-traveling-overseas/" rel="noopener noreferrer">international flights</a>. It's also equipped with a built-in power bank and lock, both of which are TSA-approved. Its lightweight polycarbonate exterior offers resilience, too. Plus, the protective drawstring fabric bag helps keep your suitcase in top shape between travels.</p> <p>Verified buyer Mari L. writes, "This is my second Briggs & Riley luggage. I wanted a carry-on and with no hesitation, I knew I wanted Briggs & Riley. This carry-on luggage expands to add more clothing and compress to its original size. I LOVE it!! I also love that you can place your portable charger and your phone outside of the luggage for easy access."</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong></p> <ul> <li>Designed for international travel</li> <li>Expansion-compression system increases packing capacity</li> <li>Mesh and zip pockets for optimal storage</li> <li>Lifetime warranty</li> <li>Monogramming available</li> </ul> <p><strong>Cons</strong></p> <ul> <li>At nearly $600, this suitcase is a splurge</li> <li>Limited color options</li> </ul> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.briggs-riley.com/collections/sympatico/products/international-carry-on-expandable-spinner-su221cxsp">Shop Now</a></p>

Best for international trips

Briggs & riley international carry-on expandable spinner.

This Briggs & Riley luggage carry-on is expandable, providing up to 22 percent more packing space—making it a solid choice for longer international flights . It's also equipped with a built-in power bank and lock, both of which are TSA-approved. Its lightweight polycarbonate exterior offers resilience, too. Plus, the protective drawstring fabric bag helps keep your suitcase in top shape between travels.

Verified buyer Mari L. writes, "This is my second Briggs & Riley luggage. I wanted a carry-on and with no hesitation, I knew I wanted Briggs & Riley. This carry-on luggage expands to add more clothing and compress to its original size. I LOVE it!! I also love that you can place your portable charger and your phone outside of the luggage for easy access."

  • Designed for international travel
  • Expansion-compression system increases packing capacity
  • Mesh and zip pockets for optimal storage
  • Monogramming available
  • At nearly $600, this suitcase is a splurge
  • Limited color options

<h3>Monos Carry-On Plus</h3> <p>The <a href="https://monos.com/products/carry-on-plus" rel="noopener">Monos Carry-On Plus</a> suitcase is the epitome of the best carry-on luggage. Weighing just 7.38 pounds, this lightweight travel companion provides ample room for both <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/how-to-pack-with-only-carry-on-bags/">lengthy journeys</a> and quick getaways. It's equipped with exceptional details like a built-in TSA-approved lock, a sturdy telescopic handle, stylish vegan leather accents and whisper-quiet spinner wheels. Plus, the brand calls its polycarbonate shell "unbreakable," and its lifetime warranty ensures it'll last forever.</p> <p>"Really love how sleek this suitcase is, both with the aesthetics and function," writes Gina R. in her five-star review. "Moving from an old-style suitcase, the maneuverability of this is a dream—quiet, smooth and balanced wheeling both upright and pulling at a tilt."</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong></p> <ul> <li>Lightweight (just 7.38 pounds)</li> <li>100-day trial</li> <li>Lifetime warranty</li> <li>Adjustable telescopic handle with four height settings</li> <li>Ten colors and patterns</li> <li>Aerospace-grade and water-resistant hard shell</li> </ul> <p><strong>Cons</strong></p> <ul> <li>No built-in battery</li> </ul> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://monos.com/products/carry-on-plus">Shop Now</a></p>

Best lightweight option

Monos carry-on plus.

The Monos Carry-On Plus suitcase is the epitome of the best carry-on luggage. Weighing just 7.38 pounds, this lightweight travel companion provides ample room for both lengthy journeys and quick getaways. It's equipped with exceptional details like a built-in TSA-approved lock, a sturdy telescopic handle, stylish vegan leather accents and whisper-quiet spinner wheels. Plus, the brand calls its polycarbonate shell "unbreakable," and its lifetime warranty ensures it'll last forever.

"Really love how sleek this suitcase is, both with the aesthetics and function," writes Gina R. in her five-star review. "Moving from an old-style suitcase, the maneuverability of this is a dream—quiet, smooth and balanced wheeling both upright and pulling at a tilt." (Speaking of, you can also check out our Monos luggage review .)

  • Lightweight (just 7.38 pounds)
  • 100-day trial
  • Adjustable telescopic handle with four height settings
  • Ten colors and patterns
  • Aerospace-grade and water-resistant hard shell
  • No built-in battery

<h3>Beis The Carry-On Roller</h3> <p>The <a href="https://beistravel.com/products/the-carry-on-roller-in-beige" rel="noopener">Beis Carry-On Roller</a> effortlessly combines style and functionality with its expandable design and built-in scale, making it an ideal choice for those who tend to <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/10-ways-to-pack-lighter-when-you-travel/">over-pack</a>. The scale allows you to weigh your luggage in advance, ensuring you avoid any hefty <a href="https://www.rd.com/article/why-more-airlines-are-starting-to-charge-for-carry-on-bags/" rel="noopener noreferrer">baggage fees</a>. Meanwhile, the expandable design adds an additional two inches of packing space, allowing you to fit in more essentials. This best carry-on luggage pick also includes various pouches, perfect for organizing shoes, laundry and personal items.</p> <p>"I bought this specifically for a 10-day trip to Japan that I wanted to do with just carry-ons and this was absolutely perfect!" writes verified buyer Grace C. "The expander was great for extra storage as I stocked up on souvenirs. I got a ton of compliments and looks at the airport and it was really nice to be easy to spot by my travel mates."</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong></p> <ul> <li>Built-in scale helps you avoid overweight fees</li> <li>Expandable design lets you pack more</li> <li>Lifetime warranty</li> <li>TSA-approved lock</li> <li>Water-resistant zipper tape</li> <li>Nine fun color options</li> </ul> <p><strong>Cons</strong></p> <ul> <li>No power bank/battery</li> </ul> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://beistravel.com/products/the-carry-on-roller-in-beige">Shop Now</a></p>

Best for over-packers

Beis the carry-on roller.

The Beis Carry-On Roller effortlessly combines style and functionality with its expandable design and built-in scale, making it an ideal choice for those who tend to over-pack . The scale allows you to weigh your luggage in advance, ensuring you avoid any hefty baggage fees . Meanwhile, the expandable design adds an additional two inches of packing space, allowing you to fit in more essentials. This best carry-on luggage pick also includes various pouches, perfect for organizing shoes, laundry and personal items.

"I bought this specifically for a 10-day trip to Japan that I wanted to do with just carry-ons and this was absolutely perfect!" writes verified buyer Grace C. "The expander was great for extra storage as I stocked up on souvenirs. I got a ton of compliments and looks at the airport and it was really nice to be easy to spot by my travel mates." To learn more, you can also check out our review . Pair it with the Beis Mini Weekender , and you'll be good to go.

  • Built-in scale helps you avoid overweight fees
  • Expandable design lets you pack more
  • TSA-approved lock
  • Water-resistant zipper tape
  • Nine fun color options
  • No power bank/battery

<h3>Away The Bigger Carry-On</h3> <p>Designed to <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/what-to-pack-in-carry-on/">maximize space</a>, this <a href="https://www.awaytravel.com/suitcases/bigger-carry-on" rel="noopener">Away suitcase</a> is an excellent choice for longer trips. Its durable polycarbonate shell ensures the utmost protection for your belongings, while the interior compression system, multiple compartments and built-in laundry bag help you stay organized. With the added convenience of a TSA-approved lock, your items remain secure throughout your journey. Furthermore, this suitcase offers a range of beautiful color options, from charming baby blue to neon green and timeless basic black, allowing for a touch of personal style.</p> <p>Verified buyer Beth P. writes, "The bigger carry-on was perfect for this overseas journey to Tuscany, including Rome and Florence. The bigger carry-on held five dresses, a ball skirt, six pairs of shoes, spare jeans, multiple tees, pool and loungewear plus all the foundational garments I needed!"</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong></p> <ul> <li>Spacious size is ideal for longer trips, but still fits in overhead bins</li> <li>Built-in lock and laundry bag are added bonuses</li> <li>Beautiful color options</li> <li>Lifetime warranty</li> <li>100-day trial</li> </ul> <p><strong>Cons</strong></p> <ul> <li>USB charger costs extra</li> </ul> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.awaytravel.com/suitcases/bigger-carry-on">Shop Now</a></p>

Best for long trips

Away the bigger carry-on.

Designed to maximize space , this Away suitcase is an excellent choice for longer trips. Its durable polycarbonate shell ensures the utmost protection for your belongings, while the interior compression system, multiple compartments and built-in laundry bag help you stay organized. With the added convenience of a TSA-approved lock, your items remain secure throughout your journey. Furthermore, this suitcase offers a range of beautiful color options, from charming baby blue to neon green and timeless basic black, allowing for a touch of personal style.

Verified buyer Beth P. writes, "The bigger carry-on was perfect for this overseas journey to Tuscany, including Rome and Florence. The bigger carry-on held five dresses, a ball skirt, six pairs of shoes, spare jeans, multiple tees, pool and loungewear plus all the foundational garments I needed!"

  • Spacious size is ideal for longer trips, but still fits in overhead bins
  • Built-in lock and laundry bag are added bonuses
  • Beautiful color options
  • USB charger costs extra

<h3>Kenneth Cole Reaction Chelsea Luggage Collection</h3> <p>This <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-Cole-Reaction-Expandable-Suitcase/dp/B07T4DYXPG" rel="noopener">Kenneth Cole luggage set</a> includes a soft-sided carry-on and a matching backpack. Crafted with a stylish chevron-patterned fabric, both pieces are lightweight and fashion-forward. The tear-resistant interior provides an added layer of security for your belongings. The rolling <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/amazon-carry-on-luggage/">Amazon luggage</a> is expandable, allowing for an extra 1.5 inches of storage capacity. On the other hand, the backpack not only features a padded laptop compartment but also numerous pockets, offering hands-free convenience for storing personal items and in-flight essentials.</p> <p>"Wife brought it to her office and her workmates were fawning over the design," writes <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R2S4MHC5MGVUCS/" rel="noopener">Ken C.</a> in his five-star review of this <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/best-luggage-sets/">luggage set</a>. "She loves how light it is, how the spinner wheels tackle terrains with ease and how it carries her heavy laptop and other stuff like a champ."</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong></p> <ul> <li>Two-piece set includes one soft-sided suitcase and a matching backpack</li> <li>Stylish chevron design</li> <li>Wet-garment pocket</li> <li>Elastic clothing compression straps</li> <li>Backpack loops over the telescoping carry-on handle</li> </ul> <p><strong>Cons</strong></p> <ul> <li>The suitcase's small size isn't best suited for longer trips or over-packers</li> </ul> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-Cole-Reaction-Expandable-Suitcase/dp/B07T4DYXPG">Shop Now</a></p>

Best carry-on luggage set

Kenneth cole reaction chelsea luggage collection.

This Kenneth Cole luggage set includes a soft-sided carry-on and a matching backpack. Crafted with a stylish chevron-patterned fabric, both pieces are lightweight and fashion-forward. The tear-resistant interior provides an added layer of security for your belongings. The rolling Amazon luggage is expandable, allowing for an extra 1.5 inches of storage capacity. On the other hand, the backpack not only features a padded laptop compartment but also numerous pockets, offering hands-free convenience for storing personal items and in-flight essentials.

"Wife brought it to her office and her workmates were fawning over the design," writes Ken C. in his five-star review of this luggage set . "She loves how light it is, how the spinner wheels tackle terrains with ease and how it carries her heavy laptop and other stuff like a champ."

  • Two-piece set includes one soft-sided suitcase and a matching backpack
  • Stylish chevron design
  • Wet-garment pocket
  • Elastic clothing compression straps
  • Backpack loops over the telescoping carry-on handle
  • The suitcase's small size isn't best suited for longer trips or over-packers

<h3>Samsonite Underseat Carry-On Spinner</h3> <p>As its name suggests, this <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Samsonite-Underseat-Spinner-Port-Purple/dp/B07H8SWKPC/" rel="noopener">soft-sided luggage from Samsonite</a> easily slides under your <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/best-airplane-seats/" rel="noopener noreferrer">airplane seat</a>. Its best feature, however, is the built-in USB port, which allows for seamless on-the-go charging. The exterior pockets—located on the front and side—are perfect for storing smaller items (i.e., your wallet, ID, credit cards and keys). Meanwhile, the main compartment boasts a padded compartment for your laptop or other tech devices.</p> <p>There are nearly 4,000 five-star Amazon reviews that rave about this<a href="https://www.rd.com/list/underseat-luggage/"> underseat luggage</a>. "I was skeptical that this rolling carry-on would actually fit under the seat in front of me in first class and was much pleased that it did even when three-quarters full," writes verified purchaser <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3UHSMNCHFS9I5/" rel="noopener">David P. Cole</a>. "The key is to place it with rollers pointing toward you."</p> <p><strong>Pros</strong></p> <ul> <li>Compact size easily fits under the airplane seat</li> <li>Built-in USB port</li> <li>360-degree spinner wheels</li> <li>Ergonomic push-button locking handle</li> <li>Smart sleeve on back fits over most luggage pieces</li> </ul> <p><strong>Cons</strong></p> <ul> <li>Not as big as traditional carry-on bags</li> </ul> <p class="listicle-page__cta-button-shop"><a class="shop-btn" href="https://www.amazon.com/Samsonite-Underseat-Spinner-Port-Purple/dp/B07H8SWKPC/">Shop Now</a></p>  <h2>How we found the best carry-on luggage</h2> <p><span><span>As shopping experts, our</span> <span>only</span><span> job</span><span> is to help you find a winning product. We start with the</span> <span>research and reporting </span><span>basics—what products are made </span><span>of,</span><span> what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that </span><span>we’re</span><span> only recommending the buys that are worth your time</span> <span>and money</span><span>.</span><span> Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a </span><span>smart</span> <span>value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.</span> </span> </p> <h2>FAQ</h2> <h3>What kind of carry-on luggage is best?</h3> <p>When it comes to the best carry-on luggage, the options are plentiful. Consumers can choose from <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/hard-shell-luggage/">hard shell luggage</a>, <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/best-soft-sided-luggage/">soft-sided suitcases</a>, underseat bags (which—you guessed it—are small enough to fit under the airplane seat), duffel bags (some with wheels, some handheld) and <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/best-travel-backpack/">travel backpacks</a> (which offer hands-free convenience). Ultimately, the choice is yours—though you should consider if you're <a href="https://www.rd.com/list/what-to-pack-for-a-cruise/">packing for a cruise</a>, long trip or short excursion.</p> <h3>What is a good carry-on luggage size?</h3> <p>Before choosing the best luggage carry-on size for you, there are a few things to consider. For example, if you're an over-packer (no judgment!) or have a longer trip coming up on the horizon, you may opt for an expandable bag. However, if you tend to pack fewer belongings—or have a shorter trip planned—then an underseat bag or duffle may work best. Also, keep in mind that each airline has different <a href="https://www.rd.com/article/size-of-carry-on-luggage/">carry-on size restrictions</a>.</p> <p><strong>Stop hunting for the best products and deals—get our expert scoop on secret sales and discounts, gift ideas for everyone and can’t-miss products. Sign up for the </strong><a href="https://www.rd.com/newsletter/?" rel="noopener"><strong>Stuff We Love newsletter</strong></a><strong>.</strong></p>

Best underseat option

Samsonite underseat carry-on spinner.

As its name suggests, this soft-sided luggage from Samsonite easily slides under your airplane seat . Its best feature, however, is the built-in USB port, which allows for seamless on-the-go charging. The exterior pockets—located on the front and side—are perfect for storing smaller items (i.e., your wallet, ID, credit cards and keys). Meanwhile, the main compartment boasts a padded compartment for your laptop or other tech devices.

There are nearly 4,000 five-star Amazon reviews that rave about this underseat luggage . "I was skeptical that this rolling carry-on would actually fit under the seat in front of me in first class and was much pleased that it did even when three-quarters full," writes verified purchaser David P. Cole . "The key is to place it with rollers pointing toward you."

  • Compact size easily fits under the airplane seat
  • Built-in USB port
  • 360-degree spinner wheels
  • Ergonomic push-button locking handle
  • Smart sleeve on back fits over most luggage pieces
  • Not as big as traditional carry-on bags

Why you should trust us

Our editors are frequent travelers of all types, from road trippers to frequent flyers. We're parents and pet owners, solo adventurers and weekend group trippers, and have used bags, backpacks and suitcases of all types to get us there. Through our travels, we've tested all of the top luggage brands in real-world conditions and ranked the best carry-ons, underseat bags, weekenders, luggage sets and affordable suitcases. We also regularly try out travel accessories like neck pillows, toiletry bags, packing cubes and luggage racks. In addition to our first-hand experience, we consult with experts in the travel industry to get their insider perspective and comb through countless customer reviews to gather even more intel. 

What kind of carry-on luggage is best?

When it comes to the best carry-on luggage, the options are plentiful. Consumers can choose from hard shell luggage , soft-sided suitcases , underseat bags (which—you guessed it—are small enough to fit under the airplane seat), duffel bags (some with wheels, some handheld) and travel backpacks (which offer hands-free convenience). Ultimately, the choice is yours—though you should consider if you're packing for a cruise , long trip or short excursion.

What is a good carry-on luggage size?

Before choosing the best luggage carry-on size for you, there are a few things to consider. For example, if you're an over-packer (no judgment!) or have a longer trip coming up on the horizon, you may opt for an expandable bag. However, if you tend to pack fewer belongings—or have a shorter trip planned—then an underseat bag or duffle may work best. Also, keep in mind that each airline has different carry-on size restrictions .

About the expert

  • Iyanifa Shondra Cheris, Owner/Lead Explorer, BlackWillTravel.com

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“This will be the busiest summer travel season we have on record,” David Pekoske, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, said at a news conference last week.

The agency expects to screen more than 18 million people at airports between Thursday and May 29; Pekoske said he anticipates days later this summer on which security checkpoints will see a record 3.1 million or 3.2 million people.

“We haven’t seen Memorial Day weekend travel numbers like these in almost 20 years,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a news release forecasting nearly 44 million travelers between Thursday and Monday. “We’re projecting an additional one million travelers this holiday weekend compared to 2019, which not only means we’re exceeding pre-pandemic levels but also signals a very busy summer travel season ahead.”

Travel advisers say the numbers are bearing out the enthusiasm they’ve seen from clients. John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Group , said families have been planning for this summer since last year — and already are booking trips for spring break and the summer of 2025. He said people realized early in the pandemic how much travel brought to their lives and have since made it a priority.

“What we’re hearing every single day is that people are just so joyful to get out into the world again,” said Mel Burton, coordinator at CruCon Cruise Outlet .

For the millions of people traveling over the upcoming weekend or months, there are some key tips to remember.

Airfare is giving us a break

It should cost less to fly over the holiday weekend (or throughout the summer) this year compared with last — and even compared with pre-covid times.

According to flight-booking app Hopper, the cost of domestic flights for Memorial Day weekend was averaging $260 as of last week, a decrease of 9.5 percent year over year.

“It’s a trend that’s going to continue through the summer,” said Hayley Berg, Hopper’s lead economist.

For June, July and August, domestic airfare is averaging $305 a ticket, a 6 percent drop, Hopper said in its summer outlook . Even flights to Europe are trending cheaper after last summer’s sticker shock. Berg said the average airfare for Europe flights of $950 for June through August was down 8 percent.

Still, that’s about 15 percent higher than the cost of flights in 2019.

More seats are available

Part of the reason behind the higher travel numbers and lower airfare is simple: There are more seats to fill.

According to Hopper, there are about a million more seats flying domestic routes over the Memorial Day weekend from Thursday until the following Tuesday — more than a 6 percent increase in capacity.

“We fully expect airlines are ready for it,” Berg said. “They’ve added back only capacity that they can maintain because of the disaster of cancellations and delays in 2022 coming out of the pandemic. We’re not expecting any major meltdowns barring any unexpected weather.”

Cirium , an aviation analytics company, said that there are over 15 million more seats flying domestically between June and August this year compared with last, an increase of 5.6 percent.

That all amounts to a little bit of potential relief for travelers, said Scott Keyes, founder of the cheap-flight alert service Going .

“Airlines just have more capacity and more flights on the schedule, which results in cheaper fares and more elbow room,” he said.

New refund rules won’t help you yet

Maybe this summer will be free of airline meltdowns, but it’s better to prepare for the worst. Passengers should be aware that they are entitled to their money back if their flight is canceled or significantly delayed and they end up not traveling.

By the winter holidays, new rules will be in place requiring airlines to automatically refund passengers in those cases. But that rule — which also covers refunds for significantly delayed bags and extra services that aren’t provided — won’t be in place for summer travelers.

To get a refund before the rules kick in, travelers will need to request it from their airline and be prepared to push for money back instead of vouchers or flight credits.

To find out what else they might be entitled to in case of delays or cancellations that are caused by airlines, travelers can turn to a Department of Transportation customer service dashboard . That will reveal which airlines will, for example, book passengers on an alternate carrier, provide meal vouchers, offer ground transportation or pay for a hotel if a traveler is stranded.

Bag fees are up

Alaska Airlines started a pricing trend in January when it raised its fee for a checked bag from $30 to $35. American Airlines did the same the next month, followed by price hikes from United, Delta and JetBlue . It was the first time some airlines had raised checked-bag prices in years.

Keyes, who predicted that multiple airlines would raise bag fees at the beginning of the year, said it will be interesting to see whether any bag pricing will change after the new DOT rule on fees goes into effect.

For now, he warned, “don’t be shocked when each bag costs $5 more than the last time you traveled.”

Deals in Florida, Mexico and Canada

Travel experts rounded up some of the most budget-friendly summer flights for The Washington Post: look to Colorado, the Caribbean, rural Europe and beach regions in Mexico.

In its summer forecast , booking site Kayak also has suggestions for the cheapest average airfare for the summer. Florida, Mexico and Canada are all at the top of the list.

The top cheap flights domestically include Minneapolis, Orlando and a handful of locations in Florida (Tampa, Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale). Canada (Toronto, Montreal, Calgary) and Mexico (Guadalajara, Mexico City) top the list internationally.

Guns are not carry-ons

Pekoske reminded travelers that firearms aren’t allowed at security screening areas, in secure parts of an airport or in airplane cabins. Passengers who want to travel with a gun have to follow a list of rules that include keeping them unloaded, locked and stored in checked bags. People who bring a gun through security could be arrested or cited by local authorities and could be subject to a TSA fine and loss of PreCheck eligibility.

“As you can imagine, whenever there’s a firearm at a checkpoint, it slows down the process certainly for that individual, but for everybody else in that checkpoint,” he said.

So far this year, there have been 2,300 firearms detected at security checkpoints, Pekoske said; last year, the number was more than 6,700 .

“We’re not seeing that go down like we’d like to see it,” he said.

The U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas has also warned travelers heading to the Turks and Caicos Islands to carefully check bags for weapons or ammunition. Five Americans have been arrested on ammunition charges while traveling in the Caribbean destination and face a sentence of 12 years in custody.

“If you bring a firearm or ammunition into TCI, even inadvertently, we will not be able to secure your release from custody,” the embassy said.

More travel tips

Vacation planning: Start with a strategy to maximize days off by taking PTO around holidays. Experts recommend taking multiple short trips for peak happiness . Want to take an ambitious trip? Here are 12 destinations to try this year — without crowds.

Cheap flights: Follow our best advice for scoring low airfare , including setting flight price alerts and subscribing to deal newsletters. If you’re set on an expensive getaway, here’s a plan to save up without straining your credit limit.

Airport chaos: We’ve got advice for every scenario , from canceled flights to lost luggage . Stuck at the rental car counter? These tips can speed up the process. And following these 52 rules of flying should make the experience better for everyone.

Expert advice: Our By The Way Concierge solves readers’ dilemmas , including whether it’s okay to ditch a partner at security, or what happens if you get caught flying with weed . Submit your question here . Or you could look to the gurus: Lonely Planet and Rick Steves .

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