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Home » 8 things you need to pack in your carry-on bag

8 things you need to pack in your carry-on bag

Are you heading on a trip and unsure of what to pack? Here are 8 things you need to pack in your carry-on bag. Bringing the essentials in your carry-on bag can be the making or the breaking of the start of an amazing trip for so many reasons!

Apart from the obvious being your passport and money, I’ve put together this post which includes all of the essentials that you must not forget!

8 things you need to pack in your carry-on bag,

8 things you need to pack in your carry-on bag

*Some links in this post contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you use the links at no extra cost to you! Enjoy my post :)*

Let’s begin by clarifying that packing is stressful, well for 90% of us. However, I do believe that it can be made a lot simpler and easier by using a few different tricks. If you pack correctly and efficiently for the airport and the journey itself, packing is half the battle.

Am I an expert? Definitely not. Every day is a school day when it comes to planning, organizing, and going on a trip itself. I do, however, know that I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way when it comes to packing efficiently. I have picked up so many tips and tricks that could save you a lot of bother!

In the past few years, I’ve managed to do a lot of my traveling with a small carry-on bag alone. Yep, that means not checking in a check-in bag at all. In this post, I will be going off if I did also have a check-in bag. This means I’ll purely focus on what you might need directly on the flight itself. If you’re looking for essential items to pack in your check-in bag too, I gotcha. Here are my top 10 items that must go into my backpack for a bigger trip!

1. Medication

The first essential item that I must have every single time that I travel is medication. Having a medication bag is so important for me. For me, it is so important because I have asthma and also suffer from allergies.

  • Have you ever eaten something dodgy at the airport and needed something to settle your stomach?
  • Have you ever been so busy in the run-up to a trip that you forget to drink water? You’ve forgotten to drink water and now you have a banging headache?
  • Have you ever needed an unexpected dose of immodium or Motilium on a flight?

I always carry my medications on me for the reasons above. I’ve been left stuck too many times.

I’ve put together a full detailed medication checklist below on what you should consider bringing on your next trip.

2. Power bank & charger

A power bank is an absolute must, especially if you’re taking a long-haul flight. Airports and traveling can result in a lot of free time. More often than not, traveling can result in endless hours of scrolling through your phone. Endless hours of scrolling can result in a drained battery and can leave you stuck when you most need your phone.

Here is the power bank that I used which has saved me on many occasions. Some aircraft and public transport do have charging ports but they’re often being used when you need them.

The reasons I love the power banks above are;

  • It is so easy to use.
  • It is long-lasting and can be used more than once when fully charged up.
  • This power bank is lightweight and doesn’t take up too much room in your bag.
  • It has multiple charging ports so that you can charge multiple devices at once.

3. Spare clothes

Spare clothes are next on the listen and let me explain why. This is something that I’ve forgotten to do in the past which I have definitely learned the hard way!

Having extra clothes in your bag covers you in the event of your luggage getting lost in transit! This happened to me in Uganda, luckily I was with friends and could borrow clothes but from now on I always make sure I have one outfit in my carry-on!

I use one of my small packing cubes and pack an outfit or two so that I’d be covered if my bag got lost. I know that I’ve mentioned these packing cubes before but they really are so handy and have changed the way I pack completely.

Here is a list of an example of what I would put in my ‘spare clothes packing cube’;

  • Clean underwear & socks.
  • The outfit that I would pack would vary greatly on the weather of the country that I’m traveling to. If the climate was warm I usually bring a light playsuit/shorts and a T-shirt. If the weather was cooler, I would usually bring leggings and a sweater.
  • I always bring comfortable clothes as my spare ones.
  • Make sure to always pack toiletries, especially deodorant, and a toothbrush and toothpaste (I’ll get to this point).

4. Pen

This essential for your carry-on bag is quite a random one and I’ll accept that. I know that the dreaded Covid Pandemic is more or less a thing of the past. However, ever since there are still some countries that require you to fill out forms on arrival or at border crossings.

Trust me when I say, there are never enough pens! If you’re in a rush at a connecting flight or a border, having your pen will save you so much time! When I traveled through eight countries in Africa, there were never pens at the border crossings. Naturally, this meant waiting in line for a pen for some extra time.

When we traveled to Morocco last year, we had a similar issue. We ended up waiting 20 minutes for a pen when we landed and it was at midnight, so not ideal.

It may be one to roll your eyes about but if you’ve ever had only 20 minutes to spare between a connecting flight, you’ll know that every second of that time counts!

Also, you might want a pen to journal on the plane or play a game of x’s and o’s. 🤣

5. Toiletries (8 things you need to pack in your carry-on bag)

Toiletries are a must on any flight but they are especially important for a long-haul flight! If you’re just bringing a small personal bag and/or a 10kg cabin bag, you’ll have your toiletries with you. However, even if I’m checking in a 20kg+ bag, I’ll always have some toiletries on me.

Why do I bring toiletries with me?

  • Flights get delayed.
  • Flights get canceled and you can be left without your check-in bag.
  • Your check-in bags can get lost in transit.
  • Airports and flights are busy so it’s nice to feel refreshed when you can.
  • I just really like to feel fresh all the time.

The absolute must-have toiletries that I always bring with me are;

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Deodorant
  • Face wipes
  • Face moisturizer
  • Hairbrush

6. Snacks

This is definitely not necessary, I’m very aware of that. However, if you’re like me and food is always on your mind, it is necessary! I always like to bring little cereal or protein bars with me on a flight. If you also ever get ‘hangry’, this one is a must. It’s a must for you and everyone around you. I also bring snacks in my carry-on bag because I don’t like paying ridiculous prices for food and snacks on an airplane or on board a flight.

Some snack options (anything that won’t go off really 🤣)

  • Cereal bars
  • Protein bars
  • Popcorn
  • Crisps

7. Water Bottle

Before I begin, I know this point makes me sound like a Mom. However, it’s never fun being dehydrated when traveling. Similar to going ‘hangry’, it won’t be fun for you or anyone who is around you.

I will always make sure to bring my water bottle on long-haul flights. I bring my reusable bottle and fill it up at the airport. Most airports lately have a water station to fill your bottle up before flights. Dublin Airport definitely has these and I always make sure to top up before hopping on a flight.

This is the water bottle that I brought to Africa and Central and South America with me (before I lost it). It has a filter at the top so it cleans the water that filters down into the bottle to drink. You can buy re-usable filters too which is very handy!

I since lost this bottle so I’ve just been traveling with a regular water bottle since, but I will go back and purchase another once of these!

8 things you need to pack in carry-onbag
The water bottle that I travel with

8. Sentimental Items

To start, I rarely travel with sentimental items. I’m honestly too afraid of losing them or them being stolen. I guess the most common sentimental item would be jewelry. I don’t own an awful lot of expensive jewelry and the bits I do own, I just don’t bring away with me. If you are someone who likes to bring your jewelry with you, I highly recommend keeping it in your carry-on bag. That means you’ll have it with you at all times and know exactly where it is!

9. Sunglasses (I know I said 8 things, but this one is important)

I’m not being dramatic when I say that I take my sunglasses everywhere! I’ve been wearing these ‘Crann’ sunglasses for the last year and I’m obsessed with them. Crann is an Irish-owned brand that uses 100% recyclable materials in each of its products. I love them so much that they’ve given me a discount code so that you can get 15% off using the code ‘ALIMCMEEL’.

I always make sure to have my sunglasses in my carry-on bag so that they’re ready to go when I step off the plane and the sun is shining! I find the box of these sunglasses very durable and easy to fit into my bag too!

8 things you need to pack in your carry-on bag (extras)

So that’s your carry-on bag essentials packed. Now, it’s time to make sure you’ve everything that you need in your backpack. Here are the essentials that I will always pack with me. Packing your backpack is a little bit more complicated, so I’ve made the post above to break it down for you!

Let me know your top tips for packing your carry-on bag and what you must always bring with you!


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