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Thursday, November 17, 2011

A peek inside my carry-on bag

Though I've always been a particular packer, in the last year I've perfected my version of a well edited suitcase. Since I’m usually traveling alone it’s up to me to lug the bags so I like to be a light as possible. One of the things that always blows my mind is the amount of stuff people bring onto airplanes as carry on items. When I’m checking a bag and don’t have to worry about liquids or large items (and assuming my daily items - wallet, phone, iPod, sunglasses, etc. - are in my handbag) here are my absolute carry-on essentials.

Domestic flights:
  • Documents – Flight itinerary/hotel confirmation/directions/transportation info
  • Makeup – if my luggage gets lost and I have to wear the same shirt for 3 days in a row, at least my face will look decent. (Purchasing single items of clothes in a pinch is much cheaper than temporarily replacing an entire makeup collection.)
  • Camera
  • Laptop – fully charged
  • Cell phone charger
  • Travel liquids – only the necessities, usually just hand sanitizer/lotion
  • Light jacket – I favor this military one. It’s light enough to crinkle into my bag or use as a pillow, yet warm enough to knock off the chill. Pashmina’s are another popular option. In fall/spring, I pack my heavy coat in my checked luggage and retrieve at baggage claim.
  • Peppermint – in gum or candy form can help ward off nausea.
  • Reading material – book and/or magazine’s
  • Recycled napkins – grab a couple from Starbucks on your way to the gate and stash for a pre-landing facial oil blot. (Facial mists are popular for dry skin.)
  • Bag of almonds & cranberries. Peanuts aren’t free anymore folks.
  • Bobby pins – make an in-flight bun and remove upon landing for extra volume. (Don’t bother pre-bunning, some pins can set off the metal detector.)
  • Jewelry case – keep the good stuff nearby at all times.
  • Business cards – because locals have the best scoop!

 International flights:

 All of the above plus:
  • Passport
  • Cozy socks – an absolute must have, even in the summer. Not just socks, but the fluffy, furry kind. You’ll thank me. Airplane floors are freezing, especially in the middle of the night.
  • Travel liquids – as above plus makeup removers/creams
  • Toothbrush/Paste – you'll want this after 14 hours.
  • DVD’s for in flight laptop movie viewing – don’t forget the headphones.
  • Laptop charger
  • Optional – Non electronic projects: this is an excellent time to write cards/letters/thank you notes or birthday greetings for the month. They’re lightweight and can be mailed from the hotel.

Sometimes I like to consolidate to a small over the shoulder bag so my i.d. and boarding pass are easily accessible, packing my larger empty handbag in my checked luggage. Additionally, you may feel the need to carry-on other electronic chargers, you never know when your flight will be delayed, cancelled or worse, lost luggage!

I hope these come in handy for you, at least now I have a list standard list that I can refer to in the future, until now, it’s been in an excel format.

Happy travels!  


  1. Such a brilliant post and fantastic tips:) I also always wear cozy socks in an airplane. Have a fanatstic day, sweetie. xo

  2. This is wonderful advice! I love anyone with Excel spreadsheets for packing. Good call on the fuzzy socks - I will be sure to pack those on our red eye to Thailand this spring!

  3. I love that you have it in an excel format. Too would get along famously with my hubs.

  4. Any thoughts on carryon bags that also will hold a laptop (not necessarily the small ones. Ex: I have a MacBook Pro for work). I have been searching for one for a while. Lately I've just borrowed the hubby's nice solid black backpack. Can't do that forever, though!

  5. You might be able to hear, all the way from Seattle, the sounds of me and my fellow flight attendants commending you on your wonderful carry on skills and your attempt to share that with others! All wonderful suggestions. May I add 2 things?
    1. Bring a pen or pencil. I am always surprised when people, especially ladies, don't have one, even on an international flight.
    2. A recent trick I learn was to use a contact lens case for your liquids and creams. Now all my day/night cream, eye cream, spot cream, foundation, ect fits so nice into 3 cases that take up no more space than a deck of cards. Depending on the length of your trip this my be all you need to bring at all!
    Thanks again for the great packing tips!

  6. Cozy Socks!! How true!


  7. I am SO WITH YOU on the makeup!! I would much rather have to replace a few clothing items than my makeup!

  8. You're a travel guru! John and I once lost ALL our checked luggage between Munich and Madrid, but I was happy to have packed a few extra pairs of panties and my makeup!

  9. Oh goodness I think you may need to come pack for me for future endeavors :) You sure are fabulous at it!

  10. I'm so nosy, I LOVE seeing what other people pack. I'm trying to get better at taking only the essentials nowadays.

    I'll never forget the time I went to visit my parents and got stuck in the airport for sixteen hours cause my flight was delayed and I had luggage on the plane so they wouldn't let me take another.

    Now it's just what I can carry if I can get away with it!

    Sorcha x
    Bonfire Brunette

  11. love this post and also your blog! It's so nice!!! I follow you!
    Pass to my blog and if it likes you follow me too, I will be so glad :D

  12. You definitely have perfected the system! I need to get some adapters for the walls for charging my phone before we leave. EEEEE!

  13. Thanks for sharing, it seems you've got packing down pat!


  14. You're so organized! I could learn a thing or two from you!

  15. Amazing list of things to bring on a domestic and international trip by air. Thanks for reminding the documents. I will always remember how I left the most important papers I needed and stuffed my carry-on with too many clothes. I only realized what I lost when it was too late. The airplane had set off and all I can do was look down and regret, wait for the plane to land, and get a hold of a nearest fax machine. I really appreciate these tips. They are more of a reminder to me. Great post!


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