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For Travelers

The Essentials Carry On Bag Packing list

Packing can be so overwhelming, no matter if you’re a frequent flyer or a novice traveller. Even us flight attendants spend years perfecting our packing system. In this post I’ll break down how you can pack all the travel essentials you’ll need in your carry on bag for your flight, plus a bonus free packing list printout that you can find at the bottom of this post!

For my post about packing the perfect luggage click here (coming soon!). For my top 10 travel tips click here.

First Things First – The Perfect Bag!

Baggalini’s Anyday Tote is my favorite bag for traveling! Here’s why:

  • It’s easy to clean! Since I use mine every day this is important!
  • It has so many pockets so I can stay organized.
  • Their bags come in plenty of colors – sadly as a flight attendant I have to stick with black but you go on and get that pretty pattern I know you want to!
  • Most of them have the sleeve in the back to slide over your suitcase handle – yay for hands free!
  • Their bags come in plenty of different sizes based on your needs & most of them have an RFID pocket or wristlet so you can keep your credit cards secure.

Okay now for the contents of your carry on!


  • Your wallet with an extra credit or debit card in case of emergency, your ID, and some cash.
  • Passport, this is even helpful to have if you're not going international so you can use it as a second form of ID. Note: if you're traveling internationally makes sure to make copies and place one in each bag you bring.
  • Sunglasses or if you're blind like me it's nice to bring an extra pair of glasses in case yours break or get damaged or you just wanna have options.
  • An ID tag for your bag in case it gets lost or stolen.
carry on bag packing list

For Comfort

  • One major mistake that I see too many people doing is dressing for their destination. I personally dress in layers on the plane. I also pack a pair of socks and a scarf or small travel blanket in my carry on.
  • For long hauls you will need a good neck pillow. I spent a long time trying to find a neck pillow that I loved that was also compact. This is my favorite so far: TRTL Travel Pillow. It folds up so it doesn't take up much space in your bag and it really supports your neck to let you sleep as comfortably as possible even if you're in a middle seat.
  • Refillable Water Bottle. Almost all airports now have refill stations so you can avoid paying $5 for a bottle of water and you won't have to die of thirst waiting on the beverage service to start. My favorite is always the Hydro Flask because they're good quality and keep your drinks cold for hours, even days!
carry on bag packing list

For Entertainment

I truly don't understand people who come on the plane with nothing to do. It makes no sense to me. Why would you want to sit on an airplane for hours with nothing to do? Maybe they expect the flight attendants to put on a sketch comedy act or whip out a deck of cards mid flight I don't know! Anyway, here's what I suggest you pack to keep yourself entertained in-flight:

  • Headphones! Bring your fancy bluetooth ones, the special iPhone ones (thanks Apple for making our lives more complicated) and a regular old-school pair. This ensures that no matter what device you have access to that you will be able to drift off into your favorite playlist, audiobook, podcast or whatever else people are listening to these days. The regular ones are in case your aircraft has video screens. I buy everything Apple so my go to are obviously AirPods but for a backup I just have some cheap ones from Target.
  • Your phone - duh, and an iPad or other tablet. Make sure that you have downloaded content to watch & listen to. Most airlines charge for wifi or the wifi is too slow to play Netflix.
  • Chargers and a charging brick. A lot of airports are getting very tech savvy and there are way more outlets available now. However, sometimes it's just nice to not have to search for an outlet or rely on them being available. One like this is best because you don't have to connect your chord to it.
  • A book or Kindle. I really didn't want to give in and buy a Kindle because I love real books. However, when you're traveling it just makes more sense.
  • Optional: I always carry a small notebook with a couple pens and a pair of kids scissors (they won't take them away from you in security since they aren't serrated or sharp).
carry on packing list

For Hygiene & Personal Care

  • Hand sanitizer - this is especially important now since the whole Coronavirus has disrupted the world and the travel industry.
  • Tissues - most lavatories should be stocked with them but it's such a pain for you and everyone else to get up inflight.
  • Deodorant Wipes - these are a fairly new thing & I'm obsessed. They're perfect to freshen up after sitting in an airplane for several hours, especially if you have to head to a meeting right away.
  • I also pack: Facial oil blotting sheets, extra hair ties & Bobbi pins, chapstick, a small nail kit and a good travel lint roller.
  • Any medication you may need. I always have my allergy medicine and some ibuprofen.
  • For the ladies: Travel cleansing cloths, liners, and I highly suggest using either a period cup or disc. They take up way less space and are more convenient for traveling. Disposable ones can be found here, or my favorite reusable brand is Nixit.
carry on bag essentials packing list

I hope there were some tips in here you haven't already heard before! I also hope your next trip you'll have all the essentials you need for your carry on bag without a hitch (don't forget to snag the packing check list below!) You're going to be the most prepared person on your next flight and your flight attendants will be super impressed you have everything you need.

carry on bag essentials packing list

Till next time,

The Hoppy Flight Attendant

Save this carry on packing list to Pinterest:


Be even more prepared with my Inflight Essentials Kits:

inflight essentials kit
CLEAR Airport Security

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