10 Things Every Savvy Traveler Should Have In Their Carry On


Packing is an art form.

Bring too much and you’re weighed down for your entire trip. Don’t bring enough, and you’re left stressed and scrambling to find what you need along the way. It’s that happy medium we’re all aiming for. The packing sweet-spot.

How well you pack a carry on in particular can really set the tone for the rest of your trip. Having a well-packed bag ensures that you can get through the airport smoothly and that you have a comfortable flight. Heck, it may even mean you’ll enjoy that middle seat you snagged at the last minute! (Or at least enjoy it more than you normally would)

Read on for our top 10 items that every savvy Go Girl should have in her carry on.  

1. A reusable water bottle

Convenient and eco-friendly, a reusable water bottle is a must-have for air travel. The air in airplanes has a humidity level that’s less than half of what you’re used to on the ground. So making sure you stay hydrated before and during your flight can ensure that you avoid a whole host of issues from dry skin and itchy eyes to getting a respiratory infection.

We’re in love with S’well water bottles. They’re absolutely beautiful and can keep your water cold for up to 41 hours! And with 9 oz, 17 oz, and 25 oz options — you’re sure to find something that works for you. Or, if you’re really short on space, check out this super cool collapsible bottle from Nomader. It collapses down to just a few inches tall, so you can roll it up and toss it in your bag until you need it.

2. Battery Pack

These days, not having your phone while traveling isn’t an option. You use it to hold your boarding passes, to see if your flight is on time, to listen to music or podcasts on the plane, to let mom know you landed safely… we could go on and on. So making sure you always have a way to charge your phone is key. And as much fun as it is to battle people for an outlet at the airport, we much prefer to carry our own battery pack.

This sleek little option from Anker is an absolute powerhouse (pun intended) and it’s certain to get you through your longest travel days. You can fully charge your phone at least two times before you need to charge the pack again and it has high-speed universal charging. Plus, it’s small enough to easily slip into whatever size carry on you decide to bring with you. Perfect for those really long travel days when your phone is going to get a workout.

3. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Whether you’re listening to music, watching a movie, or just trying to catch a little shut-eye — a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones can be a lifesaver. And trust us, if you’ve never used a pair before, you have no idea how loud an airplane actually is until you pop a pair of these bad boys on. You’ll never go back.

This set from Cowin is a fantastic option if you’re looking to treat yourself to a little peace and quiet on your next flight. They’re super comfortable, wireless, have a 30-hour play time, and come in a ton of really fun colors. Plus, at a cool $60, the price just can’t be beat. If you’re gonna #treatyourself, you can’t go wrong here. 

4. A Book

How many times have you told yourself, “I wish I had more time to read?” Well, that flight you have coming up might just be your chance. A book is one of the best travel accessories any girl can have in our opinion. A tried and true classic. If you need a few recommendations on what to read, we have those as well

While we know there’s nothing quite like the feel of a real book, sometimes having an e-reader is a great option when you’re trying to pack light. And you just can’t go wrong with a Kindle. The Paperwhite model is honestly the next best thing to having a real book and lets you carry not just one book with you, but a whole library! Definitely a great investment if you’re a bookworm on the go!

5. Toiletries

If you’ve ever lost your bag before, you know how much it helps to know that you at least have your favorite products and important medications with you. Being able to take a nice hot shower after the stress of losing your bags can really help improve your mood. And if you’re someone who has daily prescriptions to take — this is especially important. The possibility of not having those meds on hand when you need them just isn’t an option.

Whether you just want a cute bag, like this Herschel toiletry kit, to put your travel size faves into or you’re looking for something you can refill over and over again like this kit from Morfone, having at least a couple of days worth of toiletries is an essential for any carry on. 

6. Sanitizer

A good hand sanitizer and pack of disinfecting wipes have been a carry on must-have for quite some time already. But in the wake of a global pandemic, these two items are more important than ever. Most travel hubs (airports, bus stations, train stations, etc.) see thousands if not millions of people each day — making them a prime location for the spread of germs and disease. Having a way to keep your hands (and everything else) clean and sanitary is just good practice and can prevent you from getting sick during your travels.

Lysol, a tried and true name in the world of disinfectants, makes a perfect little travel-size pack of their best-selling wipes. They’re the ideal size for any carry on and a sure-fire way to make sure all the surfaces you touch or eat off of are sanitary.

When it comes to your hands though, make sure you use something purpose made. Surface disinfectants definitely get the job done, but they can wreak havoc on your skin. Yoobi makes a hand sanitizer that smells great and leaves your hands feeling soft. And whether you want a wipe or you prefer gel, they’ve got you covered!

7. Compression Socks

Fashion forward these are not. But we’re willing to sing the praises of compression socks after many years of first-hand experience. After getting yourself a pair, you can say goodbye to the days of post-flight cankles and help protect yourself from blood clots. Typically, people go for a moderate compression sock (15-20 mmHg) when they travel. But we recommend trying a few different levels of pressure to see what feels right for you!

If you’re looking for a good place to start, SocksLane makes some super cute designs that are a great option for travel — we’re in love with the nude stripe pair! Or, if you really want to do it with gusto, Charmking has some of the most fun designs we’ve seen in a while. Go nuts!

8. Travel Scarf

A scarf? Yep. But not just any scarf. If you find the right one, you’re getting so much more than that. It can be a scarf, a shawl, a poncho, a blanket, a pillow, a head wrap, a skirt, a makeshift bag, and sometimes even a wallet. Trust us — once you’ve found the perfect travel scarf, you’ll never go without one.

This super soft, oversized scarf from Coolibar is a great option if you’re looking for versatility. It comes in a ton of fun colors, as well as your favorite neutrals, and has a UPF 50+ rating — which means it blocks 98% of UV radiation. Perfect for protecting that beautiful skin of yours during a day at the beach.

Or, if you’re looking for a little something extra, Waypoint Goods Infinity Travel Scarf is hands down one of the best. Still super versatile, comes in a ton of colors and patterns, and it has a pocket. What’s not to love here?

9. In-seat pouch

It’s always irritating to get settled into your seat, especially on an airplane, just to discover that the one thing you need is actually still in your carry on bag. Doesn’t matter if it’s under a seat or overhead, it feels like you have to move heaven and earth just to get it out. There has to be a better way! Enter: the seat pouch.

It’s a simple, but effective, idea. It’s just a small pouch that fits into your seat pocket where you can stash all the stuff you know you’re going to need during your flight. You can have it ready before you even get on the plane so all you have to do is grab it before you sit down and then pop it into your seat pocket. And it can be as basic or feature-filled as you want. Whether you prefer a cute little canvas pouch like this one, or a super organized option that’s custom-made for flying — it’s a great way to take a little stress out of getting seated.

10. A travel pillow

Last, but not least, the trusty travel pillow! We’ll admit, some folks can take it or leave it when it comes to travel pillows, but we think it’s a worthwhile investment if you’re going to be traveling a lot. Because try as they might, those airplane pillows just don’t cut it and you never know where you might end up needing one.

This option from MLVOC is an upgrade on the standard travel pillow you’d see hanging outside a bookstore at JFK. It’s the typical wrap around style, but that’s about where typical ends. It has an ergonomic design, a washable cover, and it’s made of memory foam. 

Or, if you like to stay on the cutting edge, the trtl Pillow Plus is a complete redesign of the travel pillow as we know it. It wraps around your neck like a scarf and is fully adjustable, depending on your height, to give you superior neck support. This may just be the option for you if a regular travel pillow isn’t your jam.

Did we miss something? Let us know! What’s your carry-on must have?


About Author

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Mallory is now an expat living on the West Coast of Ireland. She's spent most of her life on the move and continues to explore her new home, as well as the rest of the world, as much as she can!

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