What I Pack In An International Carry-On

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Packing can be incredibly stressful. There is always that lingering fear of whether or not you packed too much or too little. I had no idea what I was doing the first couple of times, but through lots of trial and error, I have compiled a list of what I pack in my international carry-on!

To start with, it is good to check out what the regulations are on what you can carry on with you. Most airlines I have traveled with will allow you one personal item that can go underneath your seat, like a purse or a laptop bag, and one bag that you stow in the overhead compartments. I can not stress the importance of checking out sizing and allowances before your trip to ensure you are not stuck with luggage that you cannot get on the plane with or that you have to pay additional fees on. It is also important to check what you can and cannot take through security. Time is important for everyone in a busy airport, so do not be that guy who tried to bring a full water bottle through security. Just fill up a water bottle after security.

This list will be broken down into what I pack in my personal bag and my carry-on bag for an international flight

Personal Bag

As I said above, a personal bag can fit under the seat in front of you and is usually a purse or laptop bag. I do not suggest bringing a bag big enough to take up the whole area because it is extra legroom that you are losing. I usually stick with a medium-sized purse that I use every day. Since the bag is with you at all times and is easily accessible, it is smart to put all the important and most used items in your personal bag.

  • Passport/personal identification cards
  • Wallet with any currency you may need
  • Headphones (I bring headphones that are compatible with my phone and the airline TVs)
  • A book
  • Chargers for your electronics
  • Tablet or laptop if you are using a laptop bag
  • Important documents
  • An extra mask if you are traveling during pandemic times

Stowaway luggage

Stowaway luggage can be anything from a backpack, a small suitcase, or a duffle bag. I like to keep in mind what kind of traveling I am doing when choosing what I will pack in the bag. Small suitcases are great if you are only packing a carry-on, but I find that it can be a lot to try to handle when you have checked luggage. That is why I usually opt for a backpack so that I at least have one hand free, especially when I am traveling internationally. The greatest risk of carrying a backpack is pick pocketers, so keep your important and expensive items closer to your body and not easily accessible. My husband found it a little awkward carrying a duffle bag but managed, and it made a great pillow while at the airport. You could choose to bring a blanket and pillow, but overnight flights usually offer you a small pillow and blanket. We usually do not bring a blanket because of this but will bring neck pillows as they offer a little more support. The key to flying is to dress in comfy layers. This will ensure you stay warm on your flight, save space, and weight in your suitcase. Wear pants, socks, closed-toe shoes, a long sleeve or t-shirt, and a hoodie or comfy jacket. Flying is not a fashion show; you will be thanking me when you are on a long fight and comfortable.

  • Extra pairs of clothes in a small storage cube to maximize space (You never know when an airline will lose your luggage, so include some socks and underwear)
  • Any fluids under 100 mls in a clear zip-lock bag. Keep all of your liquids together. I usually have contact solution, a roll-on of peppermint halo to help with tension, eye drops, hand sanitizer, a small bottle of lotion, travel size toothpaste
  • Glasses/contact case
  • Extra medication (think Gravol, Tylenol, and Advil)
  • Baby wipes to freshen up
  • Snacks (airport food is costly, and it can be a long time between when they serve meals, or you might not have time to grab a bite before your next connection. I once paid $5.00 for a small can of pringles)
  • Chewing gum
  • Neck pillow
  • Any other activities you may want
  • Deodorant
  • Brush and ponytail holders
  • Notepad and pen
  • Toothbrush
  • Sleeping mask
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Converters
  • Feminine Hygiene Products

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