11 Useful Things to Put on the Ultimate Carry-on Packing List

When traveling, it’s good to keep the essentials handy. We’ve all found ourselves on a plane, bus, or train wishing we hadn’t packed certain items in our stowed bag. Our ultimate carry-on packing list will ensure that doesn’t happen again!

Ultimate Carry On Packing List

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Why use our ultimate carry-on packing list?

It’s good to pack light. Although, if you’re traveling by car, it’s totally ok to break that rule. Ha! Learning to pack in only carry on luggage is a feat in itself. After all, who wants to pay to check their bag? No one!

There are certain items that are essential to always place in your hand luggage. Consequently, that’s true no matter where you’re going and for how long. Having a carry on only packing list can be really helpful!

You may be gathering travel essentials for long haul flights or merely have a short jaunt. Either way, it’s a good idea to pack necessary items that stay with you during your travels.

There is always a chance that checked baggage may get lost. Plus, you and your sweetie will enjoy having a few comfort items within reach.

Carry-on Packing List What to Include Luggage

Make sure to know the airline regulations for carry-on luggage size before you pack.

Tip: Check your carry on luggage size.

This is so important! Many have been in line to get on a flight, only to see someone get stopped because their bag is too large. TSA does NOT check this for you when you check-in, so you need to accept responsibility for your carry on luggage size being compliant as you board the plane.

The bags need to fit in the overhead compartment or under your seat. Airline regulations vary slightly, and there is a handy list here of the various sizes. Having a smaller bag ensures that you won’t stress if there isn’t room in the bins above the seats.

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Don’ts for what to pack in carry-on bag for flights.

This is truly important, and—of course—you can’t take guns and explosives. We aren’t going to cover the obvious stuff. However, there are a lot of things that people simply don’t know about. Take a peek at the list below of things that won’t pass through a TSA check.

  • Liquid-filled bottles. This includes water bottles, soda, coffee…etc. Once you pass through TSA, you can purchase and carry these things.
  • More than a quart-sized bag of liquids. This is taken directly from the TSA website. “You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.”
  • Sharp objects. That includes scissors, knives, loose razor blades. You CAN take nail clippers, tweezers, and knitting needles.

For a full, complete list of what you can and can not bring in your carry-on luggage, just click here. The list also tells you what items are not allowed in checked luggage. It’s really handy and answers all the questions!

Carry-on Luggage Hand What to Pack Only

Breeze through your TSA check by knowing what you can and can not pack in your carry-on luggage.

9 Things: Our Ultimate Carry-on Packing List

1. Refillable Water Bottle

Water bottles need to be empty as you pass through TSA. However, feel free to fill it up once you go through it. A collapsable, reusable water bottle is an eco-friendly thing to have on any trip beyond just your carry on luggage!

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2. Prescribed Medicine

Any necessary medication should always be with you. If it gets lost in checked luggage – yikes! Prescription medicine is one of the most important things for your health, so keep it with you at all times. It’s a must for any carry-on only packing list.

3. Change of Clothes

This includes undies, an outfit, and possibly PJs if they will fit in the bag. In case your checked bags don’t make it through, you will want to have an opportunity to freshen up.

4. Electronics (& Chargers!)

This includes your camera, phone, and laptop. You don’t want these items getting lost, broken, or stolen. Therefore, take them in your hand luggage. Don’t forget their corresponding chargers! If you want to do a bit of work at the airport, having your laptop close is important.

What to Pack in Hand Luggage Only

Don’t forget to take your chargers along, too!

5. Toiletries

These are essential to take on the plane, as is your toothbrush and toothpaste. You need to be 100% sure to have toiletries with you in case your suitcase isn’t at my final destination. This also includes makeup, depending on what your itinerary is upon arrival.

6. Skin Hydration

Take a lip moisturizer and face cream along. Flights can be very dehydrating, so set yourself up for success and look refreshed when you land. Drinking water in route will help, too.

7. Something to Do

Yes, there are lots of movies on flights. Therefore, take headphones (although many flights offer disposable ones, and the new iPhone plug won’t work). Have a book for really lengthy flights.

Consider taking a notebook and pen if you want to jot a few things down or journal. Some hobbies are great for on the go like knitting or drawing. Consequently, it’s all in what you like to do.

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Woman Looking Out Plane Window Carry-on Packing

Create a comfortable space for yourself while you are traveling by plane.

8. Comfy Essentials

No ultimate carry-on packing list would be complete without a few creature comforts. That could be a travel pillow, neck roll, sleeping mask, and a blanket or large scarf to keep warm. You may look a bit crazy, but you’ll arrive well-rested and ready to go.

9. ID, Wallet, and Passport

Anything that you need for identification and normally carry in a purse, is essential to take along. You will need to show your ID, and a credit card is also handy. If you have cash, store it safely, and also keep your ID close and secure.

10. PPE

Yes, if you are traveling nowadays, it’s essential to think about the health of yourself and others. That means taking a mask and taking hand sanitizer (TSA approved size in your toiletry bag).

11. Snacks

Airport food can be expensive, and you’ll probably be satisfied with just a snack bar or trail mix. Keep treats close at hand so that you can easily grab them when hunger strikes.

What’s on your ultimate carry-on packing list?

What is on your carry-on packing list for long flights or short trips? Are you always tweaking your list and wondering what to pack in your carry-on bag for flights? We’d love to hear any ideas you may have in the comments below!

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What to Include on the Ultimate Carry On Packing List

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Photos: Holly Ann Photography, Nappy, Gabrielle Henderson, Gustavo Fring, Ethan Sykes

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Jennifer Thumbnail 2021


I'm Jennifer!

I started HCB to

inspire VA brides.

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