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Traveling Light: What To Pack In Your Carry-On

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

Antoine de St. Exupery, author of the classic children’s tale The Little Prince once said: “He who would travel happily must travel light.”

It’s been nearly 60 years since St. Exupery left us with this piece of advice and it remains as accurate today as it did in the 19thcentury--if not more so.

It’s no secret that traveling light saves you time, energy, and a load of hassle. But even the most experienced travelers may struggle to stick to the minimum number of things, especially when it comes to carry-on luggage.

When it comes to flying (especially internationally), the contents of the carry-on reach a new level of importance. If the airline loses your checked luggage, your carry-on goes from just another piece of baggage to an all-important lifeline that holds all of your necessities.

So, how do you travel light but still take into consideration everything you need in case of an emergency?

To help you with that question, we’ve come up with a list of necessities for what to pack in your carry-on.

Spare clothing

  • Shorts, leggings, or your pants of choice

  • Underwear and socks

  • Pajamas

  • Swimming suit (Just in case!)

  • Shoes or sandals


  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss

  • Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and face wash

  • Deodorant

  • Dry shampoo

  • Makeup removal wipes

  • Baby wipes (These are great to freshen up in the bathroom.)

  • Body and face lotion (Airplanes are notorious for sucking the moisture out of your skin.)

  • Makeup (Though keep it to a minimum. Think concealer, tinted moisturizer, mascara, and a tinted lip balm.)

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Tampons/pads

  • Hair brush or comb

  • Hair ties and bobby pins

  • Note: Don’t forget to pack your liquids in the appropriate 3-ounce containers at the top of your bag for quick and easy inspection.


  • Prescriptions

  • Pain killers

  • Sleep aids

  • Allergy medicine

Important personal items

While it may be tempting to leave your laptop or files in your checked bag (especially if you won’t need them while you travel), you don’t want to run the risk of something happening to them. Similarly, if your luggage is lost, you’ll be glad you have everything on your person and in one place.

  • Passport or other ID (Depending on if you fly domestic or international.)

  • Important paperwork and files

  • Jewelry or other valuables

  • Travel pillow, eye mask, and earplugs

Food and drink

  • Reusable water bottle (Fight dehydration and avoid paying for overpriced water bottles in the airport by bringing one of your own.)

  • Snacks (Keep it light and healthy: nuts and dried fruit are filling, can easily be condensed, and don’t make a mess.)


  • Laptop

  • Tablet

  • Chargers for all electronics

  • Power brick

  • Ear buds or headphones

  • Magazines or books

  • Download any music, podcasts, or videos the days leading up to your flight so you don’t needlessly use up data or have to deal with expensive, spotty WiFi once you are in the air.

The next time you travel, don’t forget this handy checklist for what to pack in your carry-on. Hopefully, it will make your preparations that much easier, so you can focus more on the adventure that lies ahead of you.

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