Carry-on Travel Essentials

So what do you need to have in your carry-on or hand luggage, and what is essential? What’s going to make that long haul flight, next to a screaming baby,  with two stop-offs delays, and travelling thousands of miles across the world, bearable or even actually enjoyable?

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I really enjoy flying, I love zoning out, watching a bunch of films and seeing what my in-flight meal has to offer but sometimes it can get a little uncomfortable, a bit draining and those little creature comforts can make all the difference.

It’s also essential for some items to be included in your carry-on, things like your passport, phone, purse, money credits cards, as well as other delicate expensive tech items like cameras, laptops, kindles, that you wouldn’t want to chance being tossed around the airport or potentially getting lost!

A Cabin Sized bag

Ok so first off, the cabin bag! There’ll be different options and rules for each airline so make sure you check and double check the requirements as you don’t want to be stung with additional luggage fees. Sometimes I’ve got away with a cabin suitcase and a handbag for city breaks. Other times I’ve had to hide my handbag under my coat and look like I’ve gained 10 pounds or suddenly experienced a divine miracle conception, or stuffing it into my suitcase until it’s fit to burst! Even if you want to try your hand and see if you can get away with it, it’s a good idea to be aware of any airline restrictions beforehand, so you can rustle up a plan B.

Depending on how long your flight is, will dictate what you pack – generally with short-haul flights I don’t bother so much in going the whole hog, but if I’m going to spend the best part of a day on an aeroplane then I want to be comfortable, especially if I’m changing time zones and at risk of jet lag! For long haul flights where the majority of my luggage is in the hold, I like to pack lots of different things into my carry-on bag, although not too much. There isn’t always space in the overhead lockers, so sometimes you may have to squeeze belongings under your chair! We had to do this on our recent trip to New York (having little legs, my bag luckily doubled as a footrest).


Unless you’re fortunate enough to afford first or business class or even one of those luxurious little pods on some airlines you’re probably going to be in some kind of standard seating like me, A.K.A economy.  Even if you are blessed with long legs, and request extra leg room seats chances are you’re still going to feel a little uncomfortable sitting in a chair for an extended amount of time. There are four items which make hunkering down in an aeroplane seat that much more bearable, a neck pillow, eye mask, earplugs and a scarf!

Neck Pillow

Do&B Travel Pillow Inflatable Black Luxury Cushion for Head, Chin, Neck Support.This neck pillow was gifted to me by some friends, it’s inflatable which means I can squish it back down and pop it into my bag when it’s not in use and it inflates surprisingly quickly and easily! It has a removal plush black cover, which can be washed, and unusual design, enabling you to use it in a variety of different ways to get comfy.

Eye mask

Rosenice sleeping mask with cooling pad adjustable sleep eye mask blindfold (starry sky). This cotton eye mask has a simple fastening at the back which can be adjusted, and it also has the novelty of a gel insert. So not only can it block out the light when you’re trying to catch some zzz’s, chuck it in the fridge, and then use it as a cooling eye mask to tackle puffy eyes when you arrive at your destination.

Ear plugs
Reusable Silicone Ear Plugs – 3 Pairs – SNR 31, Waterproof, Soft, Hypoallergenic – Comfortable Noise Cancelling Reduction Earplugs for Swimming for Sleeping and Airplanes with Travel Pouch. A really simple affordable item which can come in handy to try and reduce any unwelcome noise on a plane, they come in a sturdy little carry case so you won’t lose them either!


I always like to have a scarf or a big comfy jumper with me as planes can get rather chilly, especially when flying at 40,000 feet, where temperatures hover around – 70 degrees Fahrenheit! It can be tricky though if you’re going to a hot climate or travelling super light. For my upcoming trip I’m bringing with me a not-too-thick but very large scarf which will double up as a sarong, so I know I’ll still get lots of use out of it when I’m on the beach or island hopping.


I always pack my delicate tech items in with my hand luggage as I don’t want them to be tossed around by luggage handlers and potentially get damaged. I also pack some other handy items too like chargers, as often there are USB ports to take advantage of and top up on your battery juice on the back of the cabin chairs. Headphones are also a must if you don’t like using the re-purposed ones given by the airline on long haul flights. You can also hook them up to your phone or laptop and watch your own movies or listen to your own music.

I don’t ordinarily take my laptop as hand luggage because it’s usually thousands of miles away and left at home. This time though I’ll be working on the road, and I will definitely be keeping it close to me, because I don’t want it to get lost or damaged.



Because sometimes the inflight entertainment just doesn’t cut it, and it’s better to get lost in a book. The last book I took on holiday with me was The Tattooist of Auschwitz: the heart-breaking and unforgettable international bestseller. This was such a compelling read, I could not put it down, it was very touching and emotional at times, but I just had to keep reading. Highly recommend it!

This time I’m going to take a book I bought for my sister, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine: Debut Sunday Times Bestseller and Costa First Novel Book Award winnerwho has now read it and passed it on to me! I’m travelling very light so I’m hoping to read it on the way out and then just leave it with the hostel for someone else to read when I first arrive in Sri Lanka!

Kindle Book

I’m going to be taking my kindle with me as I think it’ll be far more practical to download lots of books and store them on there without having to physically pack a book which can be quite bulky and heavy. My kindle can also double up as a tablet to access the internet, movies, games or work on.

Audio Book/Music

I haven’t actually tried an audiobook yet but have listened to podcasts in the past and found them very interesting and relaxing. I particularly enjoyed Fearne Cotton’s “Happy Place” series. Or why not create a dedicated playlist of in-flight music to keep you feeling relaxed and help you unwind throughout your journey!


I’m also going to be taking with me a small notebook, which I intend to use to make travel notes, jot down ideas for my blog, or creative projects and use for doodles and drawings!

Important Documents

Travel Organiser – I use my trusty vegan leather travel organiser to help me stay on top of things from Lorton and Horn,  it has a section to hold my passport, I Phone, tickets, headphone and pen!

Passport – because obviously, you need your passport to travel to foreign lands.

Visa – hopefully you’ve already researched and got any visa’s necessary for your trip.

Boarding Pass – so you can board the plane you intend to (obvs).

Accommodation/transfer info – I always like to keep a copy of my onward journey plans after stepping off a plane so I can stay organised and get to where I need to be.

Pen – this is always handy to have as you may need to complete departure cards, or entry forms when you arrive at your destination. I was very unorganised on one trip and didn’t have one with me, when I arrived at the airport I’m almost positive there were just 3 elusive pens between 800 people! Needless to say it was a long journey even just getting through the airport!

Emergency details – I’m actually guilty of not filling out my emergency details on my passport as yet, but I fully intend to before I go travelling. It is actually really important, especially if you’re travelling alone. Make sure you have some emergency contact information somewhere on your person in case there is an emergency.


100ml limit

It’s important to remember the 100ml limit for liquids is still in place, following its implementation in the UK in 2006, in reaction to a foiled terrorist plot to construct explosive devices on board several aeroplanes. It’s easy enough to follow though, just ensure any large liquid items are placed in your hold luggage, or if you are only flying with hand luggage take bottles smaller than 100ml, or buy the required items once you have passed through security and find yourself in the departures lounge.

Travel Toothbrush and Toothpaste

When you’ve been in a plane for hours on end with stale air just getting circulated round and round, with different food, alcohol, coffee and drinks it can feel really nice to be able to thoroughly brush your teeth, leaving you feeling refreshed ready for when you land.

Lip balm

As well as the stale air, onboard flights are notoriously dry places with little humidity, which means our skin and lips can become especially parched! My lip balm of choice is Dr Paw Paw, which is vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, chemical-free, non-toxic, jam-packed with responsibly and ethically sourced ingredients and made from plastic that is recyclable and biodegradable!Hand cream

Again, because dry skin isn’t fun, my favourite hand cream is the Wild Argan Oil Hand Cream, by The Body Shop. It’s vegan-friendly, cruelty-free formula is light, non-great and has a beautiful scent!

Hand sanitiser

Not to over exaggerate, but there are germs e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e, and you can’t escape them on a plane! Seriously though, planes are breeding ground for germs and bacteria with the frequent movement of passengers from all over the world, food, drink and quick turn arounds of journeys it is mayhem! So, it’s a good idea to ensure you regularly wash your hands and use hand sanitiser when flying to keep those germs at bay, so they don’t spoil your holiday!

Travel size deodorant

Going back to the freshness – it’s just nice to feel fresh isn’t it, so it’s handy to pop a travel sized deodorant in with your toiletries too!


Please don’t spray perfume when you’re seated though, spray away when you’re using the toilet facilities on board by all means! I like to use these travel atomisers so I can decant my favourite perfume into a smaller, lighter bottle to take on with my hand luggage.


Prescription medication that you regularly need to take

Hopefully, this won’t happen to you, but it does happen, luggage is lost or sent on to different countries than its intended destination. If you rely on medication on a daily basis then you should definitely take this with you in your hand luggage, you would not want to arrive in a different country without your prescription medication and no easy way of getting a replacement.


Water Bottle (refillable)

It’s really important to stay hydrated during a flight, to keep headaches at bay, and keep you feeling tip-top. Fortunately, a lot of airports now have free drinking water fountains available around the airport for the public to access, and you can also ask your helpful cabin crew to fill up your water bottle during a flight. This is a really great way to minimise plastic usage, by avoiding buying bottles or using throwaway placates cups. It not only saves the environment. but can save you some pennies too!

Silicone Collapsible Water Bottles Victanz Sports Camping Canteen Best Drinking Bottle 26 Oz/750ml Medical Grade BPA Free (Violet Red).

Some sweets or mints 

During take off the change in air pressure can cause people’s ears to ‘pop’, and the act of sucking on some sweets or mints, and swallowing helps to equalise the pressure in the middle ear with the outside pressure, by letting air enter along the Eustachian tubes, (yes that’s really the science of it).

Sugar Free Mint Polos 33.4 G Roll (Pack of 48)

I personally enjoy in-flight meals, however I know plenty of people who simply despise in-flight meals with a passion, so if you are one of those or you’re not quite sure where you sit on this fence then bring some snacks with you! One of my favourites are Nakd Bars, they’re small enough to slip into any bag and they come in so many different flavours! They’re also made of 100% natural ingredients, with no added sugar, or sticky syrups.

Nakd Bars Mix 18 pcs 18 Flavours 30g/35g Assorted

Please do be careful though when bringing products that contain nuts on board a flight, for someone with a severe nut allergy this could be very dangerous.

So that’s my round up of must-have carry-on items! Is there anything else that’s on your go-to list, or some things which you think are better left at home? How do you like to travel? I’d love to hear from you in the comment sections below!


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Carry-on Travel Essentials


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