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I love to travel with just a carry on bag. It means I don’t have to wait in long lines to weigh and check in bags before a flight. And once I reach my destination, I don’t have to wait for my luggage at the baggage carousel.
Plus, if I can travel with just a carry on bag, I pay less money for luggage fees AND I never worry about whether or not any checked bags will actually make it to my destination with me.
I have gotten pretty good at minimalist packing. The past two times I have flown to Europe, I have packed for 2+ weeks in a single carry on bag, a Women’s Osprey backpack. I know, a little crazy when you think about it, but it can be done!
Every time I go on a “backpack only” trip, I get better at what to pack and what not to pack for next time. My idea of “essentials” gets more and more exclusive as I pare it down to what I actually end up using on my trips. No matter how many bags you are taking with you, your carry on is the most important.
Are you wondering what to pack in a carry on bag (especially for longer flights)? Here is a list of things I can’t live without on a long flight:
I save a lot of money by bringing my own snacks for the airplane. Plus, I can bring healthier choices like fruits, veggies, pretzels and granola bars. I feel better when I land if I haven’t been eating a constant stream of junk food.
I wear compression socks on long plane flights to fight the leg and foot swelling that naturally occurs when you are forced to sit for long periods on flights. Vim & VIGR Compression Socks are a game-changer for longer flights.
Once I’m on the ground, I wear my VIM & VIGR compression socks like I would everyday socks. VIM & VIGR compression socks help my feet feel less tired, even after a long day of walking and running around town.
VIM & VIGR compression socks are super cute socks! They come in a variety of stylish patterns and comfy fabrics (merino wool, cotton, nylon, and moisture-wick nylon). Unlike regular socks, compression socks are specifically designed to relieve achiness and fight fatigue. I love my VIM & VIGR socks, they come with me on all my long flights.
A collapsible water bottle is the best space-saving choice for carry on bags. Just remember not to fill your water bottle until after you go through TSA security check.
Lip Balm and Lotion
The dry air in an airplane cabin can wreak havoc on your lips and skin. It drives me nuts if my lips feel dry and I don’t have any lip balm with me. Lip balm and a TSA-approved travel size lotion are musts in my carry on bag to keep my skin hydrated.
Remember to download shows, music, podcasts, and any reading materials to keep yourself entertained on the flight. I like to put everything on my phone or tablet so I only have one lightweight item to worry about instead of carrying around actual books. Don’t forget to bring your earbuds (or headphones.) Speaking of electronics…the next thing on the list is quite important…
Chargers For Your Electronics
Bring your phone charger and any other chargers and cords you may need to keep your devices powered up.
Hand Sanitizer and Wet Wipes
I always carry on my wallet, passport (if I am traveling out of country), and flight tickets. If I have any physical tickets (for events such as a concert or game), I also bring those in my carry on bag. I definitely do not take any chances by putting them into checked luggage.
I would rather be safe than sorry with my valuables, so I always carry on expensive items like my camera, jewelry, phone, tablet, etc. Don’t pack them in your checked luggage.
Comfortable outer layer
I always get cold in the airplane cabin, so I bring a comfy sweater and/or sweatshirt to put on. If you don’t have room in your carry on bag for an extra outer layer, no worries! Simply wear it on to the plane.
I chew gum to help relieve the ear pain that happens during air pressure changes at take-offs and landings. It also helps freshen my mouth and breath.
Prescription and OTC Medications
If you need to take a prescription medication, be sure to carry it on with you. I like to bring over-the-counter headache medicine in case I get an in flight headache. If I am flying overnight, I bring a couple of Melatonin gummies in case I need help getting to sleep.
You may have noticed I did not say to carry on a travel pillow. I simply have not found a travel pillow that works for me. I usually end up rolling up my jacket or sweatshirt and using that as a pillow. But if you need a travel pillow to survive a long flight, by all means, you should bring it.