32 Carry-on Must-haves T+L Editors Always Bring With Them. Every Time. No Matter Where.

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packing list for carry-on travel
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The proper packing of a carry-on bag is a skill that takes time to perfect. Unless, of course, you've got access to a comprehensive list from a group of frequent fliers — say, Travel + Leisure's editors?

Regardless of whether you're packing a tote bag, backpack, or wheeled bag, it's what's inside that counts, so we put together a list of absolute must-have travel items and some personal recommendations for the best in each category.

When packing your carry-on, you'll first want to focus on creating a seamless airport experience and things like a travel wallet and an easily accessible toiletry pouch will help you stay organized and breeze through security. Then, make sure your in-flight experience is as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. This is where travel essentials like headphones, snacks, and a travel pillow will come in.

And finally, while it's only the worst-case scenario, there's always a possibility your checked luggage may not make it to your destination when you do. So you'll also want to board with anything that would make it less of a headache to spend a day or two waiting to be reunited with your belongings, like your power converter and all of your chargers.

With these 32 travel must-haves, you'll be prepared for anything your trip throws at you, be it lost luggage, noisy plane neighbors, less-than-ideal weather, and so much more.

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Travel Pillow

travel pillows
Courtesy of Amazon

Conventional, U-shaped travel pillows work for some people, but if you can't see the appeal, we recommend trying out the Trtl pillow — essentially a fleece scarf with a support system built in — or the Infinity pillow, which applies the infinity scarf concept to your comforter for grade-A cozy results.

Price at time of publish: (left) $30, (right) $39

To buy: (left) amazon.com, $45; (right) infinitypillow.co, $39


notebook carry-on essentials
Courtesy of Amazon

Jot down all your travel-inspired ideas with a simple let luxurious Moleskine notebook that's sleek enough to slip into any carry-on.

Price at time of publish: $20

To buy: amazon.com, $23

Eye Mask

Courtesy of Amazon and Nordstrom

The light-blocking Mzoo eye mask is a frill-free favorite for catching up on sleep while traveling, while Slip's silk sleep mask is a luxurious pick that will ensure that you travel in style.

Price at time of publish: (left) $14, (right) $50

To buy: (left) amazon.com, $14; (right) nordstrom.com, $50

Compression Socks or Tights

compression socks or leggings
Courtesy of Amazon

If you're going to be sitting in an airplane seat for longer than four hours, you may want to change into a pair of compression tights or socks to aid circulation in your legs. This will keep your feet from falling asleep and help to prevent more serious symptoms of sitting for too long, like blood clots.

Price at time of publish: (left) from $50, (right) $17

To buy: (left) amazon.com, from $50; (right) amazon.com, $9-$20


ear plugs for flying
Courtesy of Amazon

For any scenario where you don't necessarily want to be wearing your headphones — say, sleeping — but would still like to drown out the ambient annoyance around you, a set of earplugs is key. The staff agrees you can never go wrong with Mack's.

Price at time of publish: $9

To buy: amazon.com, $9

In-flight Entertainment

iPad mini and Kindle paperwhite
Courtesy of Amazon

Long flights can be grueling without something to pass the time. Our staff loves the iPad Mini for movies, games, and more. We also think Amazon's waterproof Kindle Paperwhite is one of the most travel-friendly e-readers yet.

Price at time of publish: (left) $519, (right) $130

To buy: (left) amazon.com, $519; (right) amazon.com, $130

Portable Charger and All Charging Cords

portable charger carry-on essentials
Courtesy of Amazon, Nordstrom

Only a few airlines provide USB slots for charging your devices in-flight, so if you want to watch a feature-length film on your flight without having to spend the first 30 minutes in Arrivals getting your battery back into double digits, make sure to pack a portable battery.

Price at time of publish: $25

To buy: amazon.com, $25

In-seat Pouch

in-flight pouch carry-on essentials
Courtesy of Etsy

Fill a small pouch with everything you'll need to easily access mid-flight and tuck it into the seatback pocket when you board so you don't have to keep retrieving your bag from the overhead storage bin. Etsy seller Pamela Barksy's quirky designs are a favorite.

Price at time of publish: $17

To buy: etsy.com, $17

Disinfecting Wipes

Package of alcohol disinfecting wipes
Courtesy of The Honest Company

Catching some sort of sickness on the flight is the fast track to ruining a would-have-been-restorative vacation. Don't take the risk. Instead, use these alcohol wipes while traveling to kill germs while you're on-the-go.

Price at time of publish: $7 for a pack of 50

To buy: honest.com, $7 for pack of 50


Thinksport and Supergoop! sunscreens
Courtesy of Amazon and Nordstrom

It's a given to pack sunscreen to wear on your vacation, but you should also be applying it in-flight, especially if you're in the window seat. The altitude can expose you to harmful UVA rays. We like Thinksport's for its skin-softening texture and chemical-free ingredient list, but Supergoop's Unseen Sunscreen is an excellent alternative if you want something lightweight, matte, and scentless.

Price at time of publish: (left) $9, (right) $17

To buy: (left) amazon.com, $9; (right) nordstrom.com, from $36

Emergency Breakout Fix

breakout fix carry-on essentials
Courtesy of Dermstore

Traveling for a special event? Make sure to pack iS Clinical Active Serum if you're prone to travel breakouts. One T+L editor has even called this serum a miracle cure.

Price at time of publish: $138

To buy: dermstore.com, $142

A Day or Two of Toiletries

Humangear GoToob 3-pack
Courtesy of Amazon

The lost luggage struggle is real — and the last thing you'll want to do in response is spend $40 on all the tiny toiletries you'd need to have generally OK hygiene until you're reunited with your belongings. Alongside the usual toothpaste, toothbrush, and floss, use these GoToob toiletry bottles to bring along your hair and skincare favorites in TSA-friendly silicone tubes.

Price at time of publish: from $18

To buy: amazon.com, from $24

Travel Adapter

travel converter adapter
Courtesy of Amazon

It may be tempting to pack your travel adapter in your checked bag, but it's another essential you wouldn't want to be caught without in a lost luggage snafu. This Conair adapter works in more than 150 countries and gives you three outlets and a USB slot to plug into so you can keep all of your tech charged and ready to go. Just be sure to use it with dual-voltage devices only, as it doesn't convert electrical voltage.

Price at time of publish: $27

To buy: amazon.com, $26

Travel Wallet

Two black leather travel wallets
Courtesy of Amazon and Dagne Dover

Because you'll likely be bringing along more than your everyday wallet can hold — multiple kinds of currencies, tickets, hotel key cards, et cetera — it's extra important to stay organized. If nothing else, you'll at least want a passport cover to keep your most important travel document safe from harm.

Price at time of publish: (left) $15, (right) $79

To buy: (left) amazon.com, $14; (right) dagnedover.com, from $79

Rain Gear

rain jacket umbrella
Courtesy of Eddie Bauer, Amazon

If you don't mind the rain, skip this one. But if it will ruin your trip and possibly melt you, some sort of precipitation-repelling device is necessary. We like Eddie Baeur's packable rain jackets and this compact travel umbrella, which you can get on Amazon.

Price at time of publish: (left, men's) $50; (left, women's) $50; (right) $13

To buy: (left, men's) eddiebauer.com, $74 (originally $99); (left, women's) eddiebauer.com, $74 (originally $99); (right) amazon.com, $21

A Copy of Your Passport and an Extra Photo

passport photo
Courtesy of Amazon

Your passport is, of course, the most important item to remember for an international trip. But you should also bring along at least one passport photo and a color photocopy of the pages with your information on the off-chance you lose it abroad. The U.S. State Department's website has more information about what to do when your passport is lost or stolen.


Adidas slide sandals
Courtesy of Zappos

Slides are must-have for any trip, whether you're on a longhaul flight or staying in an airbnb that doesn't allow shoes. Keep them in your carry-on so you always have a pair of comfy shoes to slip on, no matter where you are.

Price at time of publish: $45

To buy: zappos.com, $35

Hand Cream

hand cream carry-on essentials
Courtesy of Amazon

While Weleda's Skin Food is a bit of a cult-favorite in the T+L office, Curel's Ultra Healing Lotion is another great option, since it's impressively moisturizing yet non-greasy, and it's more affordable.

Price at time of publish: (left) $6, (right) $13

To buy: (left) amazon.com, $6; (right) amazon.com, $18

Noise Cancelling Headphones


It's crucial when traveling to have a way to tune out unnecessary noise of other passengers. And while Bluetooth headphones are usually the most convenient pick, wired headphones allow you to take advantage of in-flight seat back entertainment, making them a solid choice for long flights.

Price at time of publish: $50

To buy: amazon.com, $60

Moisturizing Products

Carry-on Essentials
Courtesy of Sephora and Amazon

If your skin gets downright parched on planes, these are some of our editors' favorite skincare picks. From an anti-aging moisturizer to a brightening face oil, these products will help keep your skin in tip-top shape when you fly. And don't forget eye drops and a bottle of water to stay comfortable and hydrated.

Price at time of publish: (from left to right) $21, $14, $72, $14, from $22

To buy: (from left to right) amazon.com, $23; sephora.com, $14; sephora.com, $72; amazon.com, $14; amazon.com, from $20

Emergen-C Drink Mix

Emergen-C Fizzy Drink Mix
Courtesy of Amazon

Want to avoid getting sick while traveling? Some T+L editors swear by Emergen-C. Bring a few packets in your carry-on and you'll never run low on antioxidants, vitamins, or electrolytes.

Price at time of publish: $10

To buy: amazon.com, $11


Falke Family Ankle Socks
Courtesy of Bergdorf Goodman

Even if you're traveling to a warm destination, cozy socks always come in handy during air travel. Keep a pair of your favorite socks in your carry-on for warm, comfy feet while you're flying.

Price at time of publish: $19

To buy: bergdorfgoodman.com, $4

A Spare Change of Clothes


In the event your airline loses your luggage, make sure you keep a change of clothes in your carry-on. Comfy basics like cardigans, leggings, and maxi dresses are versatile enough to get you through a day or two before your luggage is returned (or you shop for a new wardrobe).

Price at time of publish: $68

To buy: nordstrom.com, $68

Gear Ties

Gear Tie Twist Ties
Courtesy of Amazon

Disorganized tech can be a nightmare while traveling. These flexible rubber twist ties allow you to keep your chargers and cables neat and tidy.

Price at time of publish: $8

To buy: amazon.com, $7

Shearling Slippers


For long flights, always pack a good, warm pair of slippers. These shearling-lined slippers from Olukai look like shoes, but are comfortable and cozy enough to nap in.

Price at time of publish: $120

To buy: zappos.com, $130

Immune Support Gummies

Zarbees Naturals Immune Support Gummies
Courtesy of Amazon

One T+L editor loves immune support gummies to help her stay healthy while traveling. Start taking them a few days before your flight and you can have a bit more peace of mind that you'll be in great shape when you take to the skies.

Price at time of publish: $17

To buy: amazon.com, $16

Indie Lee I-Recover Mind & Body Gel

Tube of body pain relief gel
Courtesy of Nordstrom

Air travel can be a nightmare if you have chronic neck and shoulder pain. This gel from Indie Lee is like a luxe version of Icy Hot, since it's silky soft, fast-absorbing, and powerful, all with a subtle scent.

Price at time of publish: $48

To buy: nordstrom.com, $48

Kinto Travel Tumbler

Kinto Travel Tumbler
Courtesy of Kinto

Enjoying your coffee on-the-go is easier than ever, thanks to this stylish editor-recommended tumbler that will keep your drinks at the perfect temperature.

Price at time of publish: $24

To buy: amazon.com, from $32-$35

CBD Gummies


It's no secret that flying can be a huge source of anxiety. One T+L editor swears by these CBD gummies to calm her travel nerves. They're a must-have if you're looking for something to calm your nerves.

Price at time of publish: from $35

To buy: highlinewellness.com, from $29

Protective Face Mask

Courtesy of Nxt Stop

Since we'll all be wearing protective face coverings in public for the foreseeable future, you'll want to make sure yours is comfortable to wear for long periods of time. This mask was specifically designed to be worn during travel, and it's breathable, anti-wrinkle, and odor-resistant.

Price at time of publish: $16

To buy: amazon.com, $16

Lip Balm

Carry-on Essentials
Courtesy of Nordstrom and Amazon

Lip balms are another essential T+L editors swear by. For example, LanisohHPA Lanolin is a must-pack, since it's both comfortably creamy and powerfully hydrating. If you're looking for an option with a little color (and SPF), opt for Fresh's Sugar Lip Treatment.

Price at time of publish: (left) $24; (right) $8

To buy: (left) nordstrom.com, $24; (right) amazon.com, $8

Blanket Scarf

Madewell blanket scarf in white
Courtesy of Nordstrom

Cozy up on a long flight with your very own blanket scarf. You can use it as a wrap or blanket while in the air, but you can still wear it once you land if you're headed to a chilly destination.

Price at time of publish: $45

To buy: nordstrom.com, $45

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