Essential Carry-On Luggage Packing List #travel #travelblog #travelstyle #traveltips

Your Carry-On Luggage List Sorted!

Carry-on luggage stresses me out.

Have you ever been flying somewhere and thought “ah crap, I forgot this super important useful thing”? I have. I do it a lot. But over the years I’ve developed a bit of a system when I pack my carry on luggage.

Long-haul flights have their own special set of annoyances to deal with. Low cabin humidity, packed and uncomfortable seating, cold air conditioning. Borne out of my experiences with less-than-desirable flying problems, I’ve developed a bit of a list. There are certain things I make sure I never forget because they make the journey so much nicer. Here’s what I make sure I always have in my carry-on luggage.


I’m not your mother. This list doesn’t contain things like your passport, money, documents etc. I shouldn’t have to remind you to pack those things. Seriously, sort your shit out (jokes, I actually did leave my purse behind once when I went to Dubai. Yeah. Whoops.)

Okay, on with the list!

Toiletries: essentials only!

Face wipes

These are a godsend. Obviously, you might want to remove your makeup or freshen up your face while in the air, especially if you plan on sleeping. But the think about face wipes is that, because they’re meant to be used on your face, they’re nice and gentle. So, if you’re flying long-haul and you’re not in First Class with access to a shower, using face wipes to freshen up the rest of your body is a quick alternative to feeling gross for 24-hours.


I feel (I hope?) this one’s pretty self-explanatory. It’ll make you feel better, and it’ll annoy you if you forget it.

Hand sanitiser

I take hand sanitiser everywhere. I’m definitely not a germophobe, but travelling brings about all kinds of situations and it’s nice to be prepared. From handrails to public toilets to street food, you don’t know what you’ll be touching. Especially in Asia: street food is life in Asia which means snacking with your hands. So having it with you is a must. When it comes to flying, you’re in really close contact with a lot of people, plus you’ll be handling money in the airport, touching public seating and, again, handrails (those are the worst!) and you can’t guarantee the condition or amenities in the bathrooms.

Fragrance roll-on

Keep the perfume bottles in your checked in luggage, where you don’t have to worry about liquid limits. Instead, take a tiny roll-on (or one of those little sample tubes works well). I actually like to take a roll on of essential oils. I find these more calming than traditional perfume fragrances. Something with peppermint works well if you’d like to stay alert, or vanilla and ylang-ylang are soft and calming for evening voyages.

Toothbrush and toothpaste

Cattle class is called that because people are packed in so tight. Don’t be that person with the bad breath. A quick brush when you’re freshening up will make you feel better and keep the people next to you happy too.

BB cream

Less is more when you’re flying. A good BB cream is essential to feel like you’re looking your best but without having to apply a full face of makeup. Of course, if you don’t rock the makeup, amazing. I love the natural look. But for me, I have pretty bad rosacea that makes me self-conscious sometimes, so I like to cover it up. A BB cream does the job well enough to look alive and decent (especially after a long flight!) without stressing the skin out even more.


I like to add a touch of mascara to the BB cream to look like I made a bit of an effort. Mascara is great because it makes your eyes look bolder and brighter, and less like you haven’t slept in two days.

Lip balm

This one’s important. But it has to be a really good one, not a lip gloss. Because the humidity is so low in the cabin, dry, cracked lips are almost guaranteed. A high-quality lip balm will help – meaning you can rock your usual lipstick or gloss on the ground without cracks.

A really good moisturiser and/or refresher spray

Another helping hand against the awfulness that is 5% humidity. Bring your best moisturiser, because you’ll need it. Slather it on until you feel greasy. Repeat as necessary. It might even feel weird at the time but trust me it’ll be worth it when your skin isn’t freaking the hell out for the rest of your trip. I also like refresher sprays – they give you a bit of pep in your step. I particularly love natural ones; Jurlique does an amazing range (see the ‘shop the page’ bit below).


Spare underwear (two pairs at least)

If your flight is long-haul, it’s nice to have a quick freshen up. But also, what if your luggage goes missing? I guarantee the one thing you’ll want in that situation is clean underwear.

Spare clothes

A tee-shirt and thick pair of leggings will suffice in a jam, but if you have room maybe a pair of jeans and a sweater. I’m telling you, LUGGAGE GETS LOST ALL THE TIME! On that note… If there’s an item of clothing you love that you must take with you but couldn’t bear to lose, put it in your carry-on.



Whatever it is you’re into (iPad, laptop etc) bring it with you. You’ll likely want it on the plane when re-runs of Will and Grace get too much or the airline has edited out all the sexy (read: best) parts of the movies. Admit it, you care. Pack your charger too so you can recharge onboard if the plane has USB ports, or in the airport during layovers.

Noise-cancelling headphones

Most of the time in Business Class these days, noise-cancelling headphones are supplied. But if you’re slumming it in economy, not so my friend. So if you have them (or feel like splurging) take them along. Not only are they great for the plane, but for any long journey where you want to listen to music or movies and drown out the world. Long bus journey? Perfect! 12-hour train ride? You betcha.

Neck pillow

I do hear some debate about these. Some people don’t think they really work. I am not one of those people. They’re small and easy to carry around and you can just tuck them into the straps of your luggage. Put it this way: I’d rather take one and not use it than suffer when I’m exhausted and just need to sleeeeep, but can’t get comfy.

Notebook and pen

I know I know, how old-fashioned. There’s an app for everything these days. But sometimes you just feel the urge to jot something down and a journal is no nice to have. In terms of the pen, some countries still require you to fill in disembarking passenger cards to clear customs and immigration. You’ll need a pen and cabin crew aren’t allowed to give theirs out. So bring a pen. (Also, what if the guy sitting next to you is cute and you want to swap details?!)

Side-note and #shamelessplug: this is how I remember details to be able to write destination wrap-ups, such as these ones about Kuala Lumpur and Penang… or hotel reviews such as this one about The Andaman.


Okay, so those are my own essentials that I think everyone should carry. Have I missed anything? I’ve also got a slider below that recommends some of my fave products 🙂


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The Essential Carry-On Packing List #travel #travelblog #travelstyle #traveltips



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    1. Thanks Jill! Unfortunately I a chronic nail-biter so I’d never have thought of doing my nails. Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong!

  1. I was in the neck pillow disbelief camp until I flew to South Africa in May. I borrowed a pillow off my Mam and wow what a difference it makes. Will never travel long haul without one again.

    I totally agree with your whole list except I would add snacks – the food isn’t always great so take a few bits to munch on.

    1. Right?! Makes all the difference. Snacks are good if you’re allowed to take them; leaving out of Australia I’ve never been able to do that so I haven’t tried elsewhere. The more you know!

  2. Well done! I am a frequent traveler and almost all you have mentioned are in my carry on luggage already. Well, this is the first time I heard about a noise canceling headphones. Thanks for the heads up. I would love to have these headphones. Thank you very much.

    1. Thanks Thelma! Yep, they’re pretty amazing. Now I have some I use them all the time, not just when travelling.

  3. Thank GOD I haven’t had to deal with lost luggage (knock on wood**) but keeping some spare clothes is a great idea just in case I do! thanks girl 🙂

  4. Bringing a moisturizer is something I tend to forget! I’ve also heard that bringing sheet face masks can help, since a lot of them are designed to be moisturizing and refreshing. Great post though! x

    1. Ooooh! You know I’ve got a bunch of sheet masks in my cupboard and have been meaning to try them for ages! Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Great list. I keep a lot of things in a zip-lock bag in the front pouch of carry-one for easy access plus getting through security. No rooting wham on belt.

  6. Thank you for a realistic packing list-I hate lists that consist of “passport, boarding passes, itinerary”. If you dont have those, you should go be travelling…

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