Packing for any trip can be a hassle. Deciding what to bring and how to pack your luggage is a battle in itself, and you can’t forget about your carry-on bag. You don’t want to have an over packed bag, but you also don’t want to forget any of the essentials. So here are some guidelines of what to pack in your carry-on bag that will hopefully give you one less thing to worry about next time you go on a trip or vacation.


First of all I always recommend using a real backpack rather than a purse or an over the shoulder bag. Even if you are not traveling very far it can get tiring lugging around an uncomfortable bag all day. Using a nice sturdy backpack will make it easier to carry and it will make it easier to stay organized.

Full Change of Clothes

If you are traveling a long distance or just a few hours it is still key to pack an extra set of clothing in your carry-on. You never know if your bag is going to get lost and being prepared is the best bet. Most of the time your bag will show up at your destination within 24 hours but having a change of clothes always feels better than sitting in your travel clothes until your bag arrives. This is also useful if you are traveling overnight or if you want to have a quick outfit on hand when you get to your destination.


We all need something to pass the time for long flights and layovers. Packing a laptop is always good for watching movies, and surfing the web during layovers. I like to bring something smaller also like an iPod to listen to music, or a kindle to read. I always pack some form of headphones to block out surrounding sounds. I am also a bit of a traditionalist so I like bringing a puzzle book to kill some time playing Sudoku or doing crossword puzzles.

Important Items

Things like your boarding pass, wallet/ID, passport, phone, prescription medication and keys are always a must have in your carry-on bag. You need all of these things in order to get to your flight and onto the plane. I like to keep these items all together and in the very front (most accessible) part of the bag. That way when you stop for some food, or need to grab your boarding pass you can find it quickly and be on your way, rather than digging through every pocket of your carry-on.


You don’t need to pack all of your toiletries but it can be useful to include the essentials such as face wipes, a toothbrush/toothpaste, deodorant, chapstick, and contact solution, if needed. It is best to get the small portable toiletries so you don’t use very much space in your bag but you are able to stay fresh and comfortable throughout your trip.

Food and Water

Traveling makes the day go by very slowly, so it is good to have some snacks and water in your bag. Make sure you use a real water bottle (rather than a plastic one) so that you can empty it before you go through security and fill it up after. For snacks I recommend easy food like granola bars, chips, or fruit.


I cannot go anywhere without my pillow. It may be another thing to carry but I always think it is worth it to bring a pillow especially if it is a long trip or if it is a night flight.

Hopefully these suggestion will help next time you are planning a trip or vacation. Packing a carry-on may seem like an easy task but by using these travel packing tips you can be sure you are comfortable, prepared, and ready for your flight.

About the Author:

McKinley is a 22 year old freelance journalist who enjoys hanging out with her cat Meeko. She spends her time snowboarding, blogging and playing Mario Kart. You can usually find McKinley out with friends or on the couch watching 300 (her favorite movie).