Travel Tips | Packing a Carry On Bag

I love to travel, but packing is my least favorite part.

I’m a chronic over-packer, and always end up saying a prayer when I place my suitcase onto the scale at the airport. What if I forget something crucial? What if I have a spur of the moment need for these wedges? It’s not logical, I know, but I’m fearful of being unprepared.

So, I’m still learning my own tips and tricks for packing a suitcase. However, one thing I have built a perfect system for is packing a carry on bag. If you’re checking a suitcase, you’ll likely be bringing a “personal item” with you on board that most airlines still let you bring for free. This is typically a purse, backpack, or other bag that can fit under the seat in front of you. Through my travel experiences, I’ve fine tuned what to use for my bag, and what goes in it.

how to pack a carry on

Choosing a Bag

With your carry on bag, you have to make the most of your space. Don’t be that person trying stuff a huge gym bag under the seat in front of you. The airline may even make you check it at the gate, which can be expensive! When choosing a bag,  pick something that you know is durable and won’t get scuffed. You’ll also want something that fits your essentials and is easy to carry with you before and after your flight.

I like using my favorite Michael Kors bag as my carry on. Kevin got me this as a Christmas gift last year, and I adore it! The bag is pretreated so it’s water proof and can take minor bumps without leaving a mark.

michael kors bag

It also has a ton of pocket space that helps with organizing when I travel. It fits a good amount of items, and is comfortable to carry. The bag never feels too heavy, even when it’s fully packed!

michael kors purse

Packing Smart

There are two categories of items that go in your carry on – items to keep you comfortable and happy, and items that you would be devastated to lose. If an item needs to come on vacation with you, and you can’t afford to lose it, it goes in the carry on. If you’re bringing a DSLR camera with you, you might consider using your camera bag as your carry on if possible.

carry on bag

My carry on essentials for making the trip easy and in-line with my beauty routine:

  • Sunglasses
  • Headphones
  • A small hairbrush (Minnie Mouse is always a stylish option 🙂 )
  • Lip scrub & chapstick (the air on planes is super drying)
  • A pen
  • Sea Bands – these are a new addition for me, and have really helped make take off and landing easier!
  • A pocket mirror
  • Case for smaller items

travel tips 3

I use a sunglasses case that I bought from Thirty-One as a corral for some of my smaller items. This includes any jewelery I’m bringing, as well as my liquids baggie. When flying, you can have a plastic bag (up to a quart in size) filled with bottles containing liquid up to 3 ounces. I always have hand sanitizer, eye drops (a must for me post-LASIK, but helpful to anyone!), and a small hand lotion (missing in the above photo – I was out on my recent trip to Las Vegas). I also have a small bottle containing a mix of Ibuprofen and Excedrin Migraine, which has saved me more than once. I also pack any current prescription medications in the case.

travel tips 2

My bag also includes some entertainment and comfort options:

  • My favorite sweatshirt- great for a chilly plane, or a pillow
  • My wallet for easy access
  • My journal (from an awesome Etsy shop called inblue)
  • My iPad, so I can keep up with work while at the gate
  • A few good books

travel tips 1

I like to slip my boarding pass into one of my books to keep track of it. The pockets hold the smaller items, and everything else fits in easily! Simple, easy to carry, and ready for adventure.

What are your carry on essentials?


2 thoughts on “Travel Tips | Packing a Carry On Bag

    • Natalie says:

      They’re these really neat little wristbands that help with motion sickness. They’re soft like sweatbands, but they have a plastic button on them that you position between the tendons of your wrist. It’s a pressure point that relieves nausea and headaches if you’re in a car, plane, boat, etc. 🙂



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