15 Carry On Essentials

As I’m gearing up for my trip to Cape Town, I thought I’d share with you some of my carry on essentials. Most of these items, if not all, are for trips of any duration, but I hope this inspires folks to book some amazing international getaways!

Carry On Essentials for Travel

1) Big Bag.  You want your carry-on bag to be large enough to fit everything you need, yet, in accordance with airline protocol. I love this Canvas Weekender Bag from Cuyana. It’s the perfect carry on – easy enough to toss in the overhead compartment, yet malleable enough to fit under the seat in front of you, to avoid gate-checking your bag, which I absolutely hate!

2) Small Bag. Toiletry bag for all your, well, toiletries! I purchased this Large Leather Carry-All Pouch from American Apparel and have used it for nearly every vacation and weekend getaway I’ve been on since. It’s large enough to hold all your travel toiletries and makeup but also stylish enough to use as a clutch. 

3) Phone AccessoriesWith flight protocol now allowing phones in airplane mode to be used for entertainment, it means it’s very possible to run out of battery before ever landing! I usually charge my phone at the gate prior to boarding and then, if necessary, after landing. Headphones are also a must for me while travel. Like many travelers, I get a little anxious while taking off and landing. Listening to music or watching TV during these times helps ease my nerves. 

4) Pen and Notebook. For making notes and jotting down thoughts, I like keeping a pen and notebook like these Pocket Notebooks from Rifle Paper Co. in my carry on. Who knows if I’ll think of the next great invention, while strapped into my tiny seat in a tin can, right? Not likely…but I do like watching cooking shows on flights so having a notebook and pen to scribble down recipes comes in handy! 

5) Hand Cream & Sanitizer. My favorite travel size hand care items these days are the Lavender Hand Cream from L’occitane and Lavender Hand Sanitizer Spray from Eo. Along with keeping your hands clean and soft, the lavender scent in both of these products provides a calming effect, potentially alleviating anxiousness or restlessness. 

6) Powder and Concealer. I’m not too fussy with my make-up, however, after a red-eye or a painfully long flight, I am usually due for a touch-up. Don’t want to scare anyone or anything! My favorite staples are the Studio Finish SPF35 Concealer from MAC and the Pressed Powder from Nars. 

7) Lip Balm. Keeping hydrated and moisturized is very important while flying. Humidity levels in planes are low, making the air extremely dry. Adequately hydrating yourself is key. Most times I still feel dry, so along with applying hand cream, I always make sure I have some lip balm. My favorite moisturizing, no color, lip balm right now is the Smooth Sphere Lip Balm from Evolution of Smooth. It is easy to apply and keeps my lips soft. Another great lip balm with a hint of color, is the Dior Addict Lip Glow from Dior. I’ve written about this fantastic lip balm before – it uses “Color Reviver” technology to create a lip balm that changes shade based on the heat of your lips. Infused with mango and luffa cylindrica it also keeps your lips soft and radiant.  

8) Magazines & Books. Always good to have more to entertain you than might be necessary. I might not make a real dent into Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, but I like having options while counting down the minutes till I reach my destination. 

9) Wool. Avoid the bacterial-riddled blankets provided on some flights and bring an oversized blanket scarf! You’ll be warm while at the gate (it’s always so cold in the airport!) as well as on the plane. Just make sure to wash it once you get home. Socks are a must on my carry on list. One of the most important ways to keep your body warm is to keep your feet warm. My mom is an adoring fan of SmartWool and has passed her love for them onto me. Living in New England, they kept me warm during the cold winters. Now living in California, they keep me warm on flights and in my wellies.

10) Snacks. Avoid the expensive and unhealthy snacks available for purchase on flights and bring your own snacks. Opt for a snack high in fiber to keep you full longer. 

Not Pictured

11) Medicine. Tossing a packet of head ache relief medicine can be life-saving. Also, on long or over-night flights I like to carry some Melatonin to help me sleep. 

12) Deodorant. Keep fresh for yourself and others! 

13) Face cream. Face cream is always a great thing to have on hand. I usually bring a light, moisturizing cream, bought from the travel section at the drug store. If you like your everyday face cream, I recommend picking up some travel size containers (available at most drug stores or your local beauty supply store) and fill one up with your choice of face cream. 

14) Toothbrush and Toothpaste. When sitting on a plane for long periods of time, your body system starts to slow down. One by-product of this is your saliva production. When that slows down, bacteria have a field day in your mouth, causing not-so-nice breath. Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste on hand to give your pearly whites a nice cleaning. 

15) Gum. I usually pop some gum right before take off and landing to avoid getting “airplane ear” when the pressure changes suddenly while ascending and descending. 

Of course this list could go on forever, but these are definitely my “must have” items while on board. Now…off to pack for Cape Town!

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