Carry-On Travel Essentials

This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Currently I am on a flight from Oakland to Maui for what I can only assume will be the trip of a lifetime! My inability to pass up cheap flight tickets is what landed me here, and I am not upset about it one bit. $250 round trip, y’all. How could I say no?!

Over the past couple years flying has become a regular thing for me, but I totally remember when it was still a foreign concept. I didn’t know how to go through security efficiently, how to navigate the airport, or what I needed to pack!

In this post, I am sharing all of my carry-on essentials. When I say carry-on, I am referring to my backpack that I stow underneath the seat in front of me for the duration of the flight. Flying can be overwhelming if you aren’t used to it. So my hope is that this helps you prepare for your next trip!

Now onto the essentials…


Let’s face it… flying is not the most entertaining thing in the world. Even short flights can feel impossibly long if you have nothing to do! I never head to the airport without a few essential things packed to help pass the time in the air.


Something you for sure want in your carry on bag is a good set of headphones. I usually bring 2 pairs juuust in case. If you are a fellow Southwest lover, most of their flights have free TV and movies, so you don’t want to get caught without headphones.

All my techy friends say my Beats Solo 3 headphones aren’t actually cool, but I love them. 😉 I asked them for their tech geek approved recommendations, and this is what they told me: Sony WH-CH500 wireless headphones and Sennheiser HD 4.50 wireless headphones.

Tablet / Computer / Phone

Obviously headphones are pretty useless without a device to plug them into. Grab your phone, tablet, or computer to keep in your carry-on bag. Make sure they are fully charged and that you have a few good shows/playlists/podcasts downloaded so you can access them offline!

Portable Charging Dock

If you have a long travel day (aka layovers), you’ll want to have a charging dock for your phone. It will be a lifesaver both on your travel days and during your trip!

A good book

Screen time can get old, especially on long flights! I never fly without a good book in tow. Recent favorites: Moneyball by Michael Lewis, Onward by Howard Schultz, Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres, and anything by C.S. Lewis.


Okay so technically this doesn’t go in your carry on, but everyone knows a good outfit is an airport essential!


I swear once you start wearing a watch you will never go back; they are just so convenient! They are especially useful while navigating the airport and flying. Usually your phone is in your backpack while going through security, making a watch a necessity. Once you board, if you are flying out of your current time zone, your phone clock is inaccurate. Set your watch before you takeoff and you will always have the correct time.

Comfy Clothes

My goal for airport outfits is to perfectly strike the balance of socially acceptable and comfortable. 😉 I have a couple go-to outfits for flying.

My current fave is this Lululemon dress with a flannel around the waist and sandals or Converse. Dress sold out? Any easy t-shirt dress will work, as long as it’s comfy!

When it’s colder out I usually fly in leggings, a flannel, my favorite Patagonia tee, and a pair of comfy tennis shoes or boots.

In the summer I usually wear a tennis skirt with a v neck t-shirt and some sandals!


By far the easiest way to tote around all your carry on essentials is in a backpack! I never ever fly without one. Not only are they easier in the airport, they are so handy to have during your trip! You will use it more than you think. I’ve cycled through a lot of backpacks in my years, but am currently using a good ole fashion black Jansport. Less than $30, never goes out of style, has a lifetime warranty… You can’t beat it!

If you are the type that likes more pockets, I recommend the North Face Borealis backpack. For the photographers, if you are wanting a gear bag, I totally recommend this one. It holds nearly all my gear and still fits under the seat!

Other Essentials

Water bottle

If you’ve been hanging out here for a minute, you already know how much I love my Hydroflask water bottle. I’ve used them for years and have always been a fan. I use the 40oz bottle with the straw lid. If that’s not your thing, no worries. Just bring some sort of water bottle. It’s impossible to stay hydrated with those tiny little airplane cups!

All your docs, duh!

This is an obvious one, but while you are flying you will definitely need your ID (or passport) and your boarding pass! I’m a paper boarding pass girl, but most airlines have an app where you can get all your flight info + passes.

Snacks + Gum

This is something I nearly always forget, but am so thankful for when I remember! Airplane snacks aren’t always the tastiest, nor are they filling. Toss some snacks and a pack of gum in your carry-on bag! My faves are wheat thins, anything chocolate, and some fruit (in the name of health).

That’s all I have for you today y’all! Thanks for reading + happy travels! If you are headed somewhere fun soon, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear all about it! 🙂

Pin it for Later

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *