A good carry on can literally make or break your trip especially if the airline loses your luggage. I created this checklist from my own travel experiences and literally use it EVERY time I fly.
Everyone’s packing list will slightly vary, but this should get you started.
Here’s the philosophy behind it all. When most of us think carry on, we instantly picture a small hardshell rolling bag. Technically, that is the carry on of choice for most. My personal preference is to check a large suitcase and take only a small soft duffel or backpack aboard. I also like a small carry on because it fits under the seat keeping my personal items within reach during the flight. If you do attempt to board with a rolling bag, chances are it will be flagged and valeted at the time of boarding (meaning that it will essentially be going under the plane along with the checked bags). Another benefit to the soft carry on bag is it can double as an extra pillow during an unexpected delay or long layover.
I suggest a small duffel or backpack, I like the Rains bags for travel. It’s something not everyone has and they’re unisex, durable, fairly inexpensive and fit easily under the seat. Basically anything that will fit under your seat is perfect. Rains Duffle Bag on Amazon | Rains Backpack on Amazon | MONKI Travel Tag
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT
I always like to have credit cards and cash on hand during a flight. Most airlines only accept one or the other for inflight purchases such as beverages, snacks and, most importantly, wi-fi. MONKI Wallet | MONKI Passport Case | MONKI Zip Case
I always carry portable chargers with me even on a short flight as you never know when unexpected delays will occur. In addition, I also like to carry my wall chargers and universal adapters because some planes are equipped with wall only or USB only outlets for charging. Portable External Charger on Amazon
If you’re packing a laptop, it’s not allowed to be packed in a checked bag, so be sure to leave room for it in your carry on.
Even if you don’t plan on listening to music or watching a movie, these will be your saving grace when a screaming baby is on board. I like Earbuds because they’re compact and easy to pack. However, if space isn’t an issue, I always prefer to pack headphones because they’re more comfortable. Another trick I use is to insert earplugs with earphones playing soft music while you sleep to drown out intercom announcements. Beats Solo 3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones on Amazon
Try to download reading material to your phone or tablet the night before your flight rather than lugging around an actual book.
You may also need a pen to fill out a Customs/Immigration forms on the flight.
On intercontinental flights, I always take a sleeping pill prescribed by a doctor such as Ambien which is an absolute necessity for me. I pack a neck pillow that can be hooked to the side of my travel bag to save space. I also like to use a breathe right strip in conjunction with the sleeping pill to prevent any deep sleep snoring, because no-one wants to be that guy. Neck Pillow on Amazon | MONKI Blindfold
WELL & GOOD
Always, always, always wipe down your personal space on an airplane. This simple precaution could be the difference between staying healthy or getting sick. I also take Emergen-C daily leading up to and after a flight to promote immune health. Emergen-C Chewables on Amazon
Ever notice that the airport only sells processed salty/sugary snacks loaded with preservatives? Whatever you do…bring your own healthy natural snacks. Onboard, the cabin is pressurized and you are breathing in less oxygen than you do on the ground which affects us in several ways. Less oxygen actually makes your tastebuds less sensitive causing you to overeat and crave salty foods like Pringles, salted cashews and tomato juice. This does two things to your body: first, it dehydrates you and second, it bloats you. I always buy a large bottle of water after going through security to take on the plane with me. I prefer to carry a bottle on because the mini cups of water infrequently dispersed won’t cut it. I also always carry gum to alleviate pressure in the ears during takeoff and landing. Justin’s Maple Almond Butter on Amazon
ALL DRESSED UP
I usually wear all black on a flight consisting of a relaxed shirt, an oversized cardigan, leggings and slides. In addition, I’ll wear an oversized scarf which can double as a light blanket. It should be soft and about 210 x 120 cm. in size. ZARA Chunky Scarf
Take an extra outfit, something that coordinates with what you’re wearing so you can easily mix and match. I usually put on fresh clothes toward the end of a long flight. It’s also nice in case you spill something or if, heaven forbid, your luggage is lost. If I don’t wear slides on the flight I’ll bring a pair along. ZARA Slides for Him | MONKI Baseball Hat for Her
Not only will many items in your tolietry bag come in handy on a long flight, this will be a lifesaver if the airline loses your checked bag. Toiletry Bag on Amazon | Clear Plastic Bag TSA Approved on Amazon | GoToob on Amazon
In flight, your skin builds up a tremendous amount of sebum from the recycled air which causes breakouts. I recommend wiping your face every 3-4 hours with this to eliminate excess sebum. Bioderma Sebium H2O Water on Amazon
Skin can get extremely dry after a flight. I swear by this moisturizer for travel and suggest applying it liberally on the flight and for several days after you fly until your skin returns to normal. Glamglow Thirstymud Hydrating Treatment on Amazon
Laundry detergent has come in handy on many trips. You will be so happy to have it when you need it. Tide Travel Sink Packets on Amazon
Don’t forget to pack any pills that you take daily along with a few others in case of emergency such as vitamins, birth control, Emergen-C, Ibuprofen, DayQuill, medications for allergies and indigestion, etc. GoTubb on Amazon
This doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you do wear makeup I can’t stress enough the importance of having your cosmetic bag on hand. On a long flight, I typically wear a heavy moisturizer only and wash my face several times throughout the flight to lessen the sebum buildup (gunk which builds up on the skin). If you want to arrive in makeup, simply apply it the last hour of the flight and arrive looking impossibly fresh. It’s also a great idea to have makeup with you if the airline loses your luggage. A lost makeup bag isn’t quick or easy to replace. Cosmetic Bag on Amazon
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