Packing The Perfect Carry-On

This week I’m headed home to visit my family and attend a christening, so though it would be a great time to share some of my travel tips! I’ve travelled quite a lot in my relatively short twenty-three years. My first flight was when I was only three months old, and traveling abroad with my family growing up has made me unusually comfortable in an airport. Recently my trips have been to my family in the northeast and back, but in just a few months Cameron and I will be moving to London for grad school.

To clarify, this post will not be about packing a carry on suitcase, but rather your extra personal item. I’m a terrible over-packer, and almost always end up checking my actual suitcase (if you have any tips to avoid this, I’d love to hear them below!), but when it comes to what I will be lugging with me through the airport, I like to pare down to just the essentials.

For my carry on bag I use my large purse, which I dump out out re-pack pre-travel so I have only the essentials, and don’t risk a forgotten item delaying me at security. I definitely recommend a tote bag because it makes accessing your items much easier; that being said, it can also make it easier for others to access your items, so try to find one with some sort of closure at the top whether a snap or zip.


This one is from Gigi New York, and I love it!

Once you have your bag its time to decide what you actually need versus what you think you need. The list of what you actually need is always significantly shorter than the latter, at least it is for me. I’ve found that its easiest to break down your items into three categories: work/entertainment, toiletries, and essentials. The key here is to be decisive, adding only what you are positive you will use, with one or two exceptions.


When I traveling I always bring my iPad or computer so I can do work, or watch a movie if I get stuck in the airport. The key here is to make sure your electronics are fully charged so you can carry as little as possible. Besides this I bring a book, always paperback, a notebook (I’m a constant list-maker, and have to write everything down), and some headphones.



Even though the TSA allows you a gallon-sized ziplock bag I like to use a 20oz instead. I’ve found that if I have extra space I’m much more temped to fill it with things I think I may need, rather than what I know I will.  In mine is a toothbrush and dental floss, my contact lenses (for after I land), extra solution and eyedrops, hand lotion, a really good lip balm, and my go-to color of lipstick (to perk up lips or cheeks). If you think you don’t need a toothbrush pack it anyway- I was once had a short flight get cancelled last minute and had to sleep in JFK. The toothbrush made me feel more like myself in the morning.



This category is definitely the most fluid. In fact, your idea of essentials may be completely different from mine, which is fine. This items are the things I always have/need in my bag. They include my wallet (obviously), a pair of sunglasses, and an ’emergency’ kit with bandaids, eyewash, bobby pins, feminine products, a few safety pins, and a small mirror. If you have room, definitely add a mobile charger! It may be a lifesaver if your flight is delayed.


That’s it. The only things I add are a small snack, and a bottle of water. Bringing your own snack is great because it will not only save you money, but will help you steer clear of junk food. Water is absolutely essential. For every hour I’m in the air I try to drink at least 16oz. Yes, this seems like a lot, but your skin, and your immune system will thank you when you land!

Is there anything I forgot? What are you go-to travel items? Let me know in the comments!


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