Below is a list of what I pack in a carry-on bag to keep me entertained, hydrated, and feeling my best when I travel.
Cuyana Leather Zipper Tote: The Cuyana Tote is elegant and relatively affordable, costing less than $200 for a bag that’s made in America out of Italian leather. I also purchased the matching tote organization insert to keep my bag organized.I use Briggs and Riley exclusively for work trips due to the lifetime warranty. Airline crew are eligible for a discount. Email Briggs & Riley customer service to verify your airline employment for a discount code.
Cuyana Wallet: I purchased the Cuyana wallet to match my Cuyana tote. I also love the zipper wallet. I pack multiple credit cards and a debit card. I usually wait until I arrive to get local currency from the ATM. I also like the Zoppen Multi-Purpose RFID-Blocking Passport Holder Travel Wallet. The trifold design allows you to store your passport, boarding pass, vaccination card, ID, SIM card, cellphone, cash, a key, a pen, and more within its slim design. Plus, it’s got RFID-blocking material to keep your private details safe.
Apple Noise Cancellation AirPods: These are my favorite noise cancellation earbuds for travel.
Passport Case: If you are traveling out of the country or an airline employee traveling out of uniform, you will will likely need your passport along with your Global Entry Card. I can’t recommend this investment more highly and downloading the Mobile Pass if you’re flying from the U.S. Be sure to store your credit cards, passports and wallet in a RFID blocking pocket to keep your personal information safe.
Anker PowerCore+2100 Charger: I travel with multiple backup chargers. Anker is my go-to iPhone charger. If I’m out all day and don’t know when I’ll be able to access a wall outlet, I pack an Anker PowerCore portable charger. It can juice my iPhone to full capacity five times over before needing a charge itself. I also like Mophie chargers.
MacBook: I use a Macbook for writing, editing pictures, taking online courses, and watching programs away from home. Like iPods and iPhones, the MacBook can be charged from a portable battery pack, as long as you have a USB-C to USB-A cable. I use the Charmat Power Bank to charge my MacBook. I also like the Anker 537 Power Bank.
Twelve South AirFly Duo: The AirFly Pro is a tiny wireless transmitter that allows you to connect two wireless headphones to any headphone jack. You have to pair the AirFly Pro with your wireless headphones and then plug in the AirFly Pro to any headphone jack.
Friends Headphones: They fold up into a small pouch and rest over your ears so you can wear them throughout the entire trip.
iPhone: I read articles I saved on the Pocket app. I download podcasts ahead of time to listen to during a long flight. I use the Pocketcast app to listen to podcasts. If I am going on vacation, I download travel guides and maps. I use Spotify to listen to music. Depending on your data plan, you may be able to turn your phone into a mobile hotspot and supply Wi-Fi to other nearby devices. This can save money on hotel Wi-Fi charges, and chances are you’ll have a faster connection to boot. On iPhone, you’ll find Personal Hotspot under Settings > Cellular. On Android, you’ll find Hotspot and Tethering in the Networking and Internet section.
iPad: I prefer to read on my iPad or Kindle. I use the Texture app to read magazines. I also use the Inflight Reader app to download free magazines before a flight. My local library offers free books that can be downloaded using Overdrive and the Libby app. Don’t neglect entertainment, either. For video, both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video allow you to store videos for offline playback through their mobile apps. Look for the download button next to the video you want to save. You can also download music for offline use if you subscribe to Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Pandora, Amazon Prime, or Amazon Music Unlimited. For games on your smartphone or tablet, I’d suggest launching them in Airplane Mode before leaving to ensure they don’t require an internet connection.
Kindle: With an e-reader or tablet, you can enjoy endless entertainment in a slim package.
Silent Pocket Faraday Sleeve for iPhone: I use the silent pocket Faraday Sleeve for privacy protection. A Faraday Cage is simply an enclosure designed to block electronic signals and radiation. Silent Pocket’s Faraday line was inspired by creating privacy and security protection for our wireless devices. Once you drop your tablet or smartphone into one of our Faraday products, ALL signals to and from the device are cut off from the grid. It’s as though they are turned off with the battery taken out.
USB data blocker: USB data blockers let you charge your devices from other peoples’ USB ports (including charging kiosks) without the risk of their accessing your phone’s data or infecting it with malware.
Lightning-USB Charger: Most Apple chargers have lightning ports on both ends now, but many planes have USB chargers at each seat. Be sure to grab a lightning-USB charger if you have a newer Apple device you want to charge.
Travel Adapter: I pack an international travel adapter any time I go abroad. Mingtong’s universal adapter has four USB ports and four retractable plugs and works in more than 170 countries. I also like the Epicka Universal Travel Adapter.
Anker 32 Port Charger: When I’m in an airport, hotel, or coffee shop, I’ll plug my iPhone into the compact Anker 32W port, which goes from zero to 50 percent in 25 minutes. Even better, I can use the second port to simultaneously charge my MacBook.
Electronics Organizer: I use Peak Design’s Tech Pouch. It has plenty of storage pockets for all my tech. This one is similar for a lower price. I also like the Grid-It organizer and the Incase Nylon Tech Organizer.
Captivator Energy Mist: A quick spritz mid-flight instantly makes me feel like I’m in a spa.
Unibazl Vision Elite Pens: They’re the only pens I’ve ever tried that don’t explode on planes!
Cashmere Scarf Travel Blanket: I always pack a travel blanket. It keeps me from freezing on a plane.
Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars: The vanilla ones are my favorite. They taste like cookies and are full of healthy fats and collagen protein (read more about collagen here) and very low in sugar (2 grams).
Slip Sleep Mask: The Slip Sleep Mask is one of my carry-on bag essentials for red-eye flights. I love this brand of silk pillowcases and sleep masks. Slip pure silk sleep masks are 100% pure silk, inside and out. They’re made with pure silk filler, internal silk liner, and a silk-covered elastic band. Make sure your sleep mask and pillowcase are 100% silk.
Truffle Clarity Pouches: Truffle’s pouches provide a simple solution to staying organized. The clear plastic means you’ll never dig through multiple bags to find your lipstick or essential documents. All of the pouches keep products upright and intact. The Petite Clarity Purse is ideal for transferring from a carry-on to a handbag. The Large Clarity Pouch is for beach essentials (keeping their water and sand-free) or for more oversized items that you want to keep tidy in your suitcase. The Clarity Document Case is for toting travel documents, magazines, and even an iPad.
Osmosis Harmonized Water: I like to pack one of these osmosis harmonized water kits when I travel internationally. The kit includes four minis to boost your cells into action. These waters are frequency enhanced for health. They are non-toxic, effective for all ages and improve your health on a cellular level. There is no expiration date on any of the Harmonized Waters. The energy is in the form of scalar waves, which means the water molecule always contains that energy until used by the body. As long as you do not put anything into the bottle once opened the water is always viable. This kit is the perfect way to get started on Harmonized Water. Find out more about Osmosis Harmonized water here.
de Mamiel Altitude Oil: Altitude Oil is the perfect travel companion to support and protect the immune system. Altitude oil is a mixture of essential oils with antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties, including Lavender to ease tension, Eucalyptus to help clear your head, and Franconia to bolster immunity, and the antiseptic properties of Pine. Put a drop under each nostril or a few drops on a tissue and inhale deeply several times. This oil is not just for travel. Use it on any form of public transportation. Please keep it on your office desk when the room or your head needs cleaning. Sprinkle it onto your pillow when you have a cold or can’t sleep. Shake a few drops into the bottom of the shower when you wake with a stuffy head. Pop a few drops in a humidifier when feeling nasally or under the weather.
Jao Hand Sanitizer: Most sanitizers use a synthetic antibacterial agent called triclosan, which is controversial for its damaging effects on marine life and its peculiar tendency to spawn resistant bacteria. To prevent drying, the formula draws on a blend of essential oils, including Eucalyptus, geranium, Lavender, sage, and tea tree. Jao was tested against seven of the most likely hand contaminants. The “kill rate” was less than one minute in all cases. Unlike every other commercial antibacterial product I’ve used, this one didn’t make me want to rub my hands on a towel to get rid of a wet residue or an overpowering scent. I also like Osmosis Hand Sanitizer.
Compression Socks: I wear medical grade compression thigh high stockings when I am working. For personal travel, I usually wear compression socks. Sox Solution offers a great selection of compression socks for travel, work, medical and sports uses and has added more fashion-conscious designs. All their socks are made in Italy and have patented designs. I especially like the AB-X padding, which helps provide an additional cushion, which I like when I wear them as walking socks. I tried their new TSS6000 Soft Padding OTC and like the new softer fabric. They also include their Silver DryStat antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, which reduces foot odor and are quick-drying, minimizing blisters meaning you can wash them out in the sink and be ready to go the following day while traveling.
Travel Pillow: I like to pack an inflatable travel pillow for a red-eye flight. Go Sleep has released an upright sleep system. It includes an adjustable elastic cord with toggles that secure the seat or adjustable headrest, comfortably supporting the head in place.
Dr. Singha’s Travel Tonic: It’s a magic potion to help win the battle against jet lag. Travel often brings on various forms of stress caused by poor eating, disrupted sleep patterns, high speeds, and general apprehension. This great travel buddy can help you arrive calm and collected instead of tense and exhausted. Contains Organic extracts of Ginger Root, Eleuthero Root, Lemon Peel, Sheep Sorrel, and Wild Harvested Yohimbe Bark in a base of Organic Grain Alcohol and Distilled Water.
Airplane Seat Covers & Tray Covers: These are helpful if you are traveling with children.
Water Bottle: When you travel, bring a BPA-free water bottle with a built-in filter to fill it up at any water fountain once you’re through security. I like the Hidrate Spark PRO Smart Water Bottle Tritan plastic or stainless steel. This rechargeable bottle links to the HidrateSpark app via Bluetooth to track how much you drink and remind you when to drink, and it even features a locator, so you never misplace it.
Argentina 23: I never travel without colloidal silver. It’s the best way I know to heal cuts, scrapes, sores, and burns quickly. It can also treat a host of common illnesses such as colds, flu, and sore throats and kill nasty germs. Read more about the many uses of colloidal silver here.
Paris Nasal Ointment: It’s a must for anyone who travels due to the dry environment in airplanes. When your nasal passages get dehydrated, you get tiny tears or fissures in the skin. When that happens, viruses can get inside. If you keep your nasal passages moist, there’s a lesser chance of airplane viruses getting into your nose. I use a few drops of this in my nose when I fly. The astronauts use this product!
Goodwipes: These handy little items are a large, biodegradable, hypoallergenic body wipe you can take with you on the go.
Snacks: I always pack extra snacks in the event of delays, I like to make a hearty salad which I’ll pack in an old takeout container that I can toss at my destination.
Zumread In-Ear Earphones: These teeny and comfy earphones are powerful enough to tune out all peripheral plane noise.
Cord Taco: A cord taco is a genius tool for organizing charges, earbuds, and other wires. The premium leather significantly changes the look from messy to cool and organized.
Pure Essence Labs Ionic-Fizz Magnesium Plus Raspberry Lemonade Sachets: Magnesium is said to calm the nervous system and prevent leg cramping, so I like to dissolve some in a large bottle of water for drinking throughout the flight.
LivOn Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C Sachets: It’s no secret Vitamin C provides essential support to a healthy immune system. Downing a few packets of this potent, hyper-absorbent formula before takeoff boosts my immune system when needed most.
Athletic Greens Travel Packs: Athletic greens give you a full foundation of vitamins and minerals, and probiotics to support your health and well-being.
Restore Sinus Spray: Restore Sinus Spray is designed to help you cleanse, soothe, and hydrate the delicate membranes lining your nasal passages.
Self Defense Flashlight: I also carry this around in my bag in case of a power failure so I don’t waste my iPhone battery.
Stasher Reusable Food Storage Bags: I pack a lot of food to eat when I travel. The Stasher bags do not take up a lot of space and allow me to heat food on the road. Stasher bags are safe for use in the microwave, a standard oven, or a pot of boiling water up to 400F. Stasher can take the heat, the cold, and anything else your kitchen dishes out. Thanks to the patented airtight seal, your food’s nutrients, flavors, and juices stay locked in.
Nature’s Way Supplements: I keep this brand of cold and flu supplements on hand during cold and flu season.
Travel Containers: I use travel containers for my beauty products and toiletry items. I purchase my containers at the Muji store and the Container Store. I recently ordered a set of Cadence capsules to store my skincare products. The magnetic capsules are leak proof, air tight, and super cute too.
Ziploc bags: I always keep a few plastic bags in my carry on bag and luggage. The mini plastic bags are great for vitamins.
Camera: I shoot with a Nikon DSLR mirrorless camera and lenses.
Kleenex: I always pack a travel size pack of Kleenex. It also comes in handy if there isn’t any toilet tissue in the public restrooms.
First Aid Kit: I pack a small first aid kit that includes tweezers, nail clippers, small scissors, eye drops, cotton balls, cotton swaps, moleskin, blister Pads, itch reliever, adhesive bandages, gauze, waterproof bandage tape, thermometer, cough drops, lozenges, rubber band, Salvon Antiseptic Cream, Niflugel Niflumic Acid 2.5%, Ibuleve Maximum Strength Gel, Germolene Antiseptic Cream, CicaSedermyl Skin Repair and Disinfecting Cream, and Arnica Bruise Gel.
Medicine: Always pack prescription medication in a carry on bag.
Supplements: I use these pill boxes from the Container store to store my vitamins. I also like the Ellie Grid Smart Pill Box. Ellie organizes your pills in seconds, reminds you to take your pills, and uses sensors to track your progress over time.
Caddis Blue Light Blocking Glasses: I like this design of blue light-blocking glasses to protect my eyes from screen time. Caddis lenses block 45% of harmful blue light at and surrounding, the most harmful wavelength (455 nm). This is more than other brands. The lens is nearly clear, which is hard to do. The anti-reflective coating helps to mitigate reflections and glare. The coating is designed to prevent smudging.
Caddis Eyewear Readers: I wear the Caddis Miklos tortoise reading glasses. They fit great and include blue-light-blocking HEV-coated lenses. This protects against eye strain and potential issues like headaches, tension, and sleeplessness.
As you pack and prep, create a morning checklist on your phone for items you may leave, or that would be terrible to forget. Here’s what mine generally looks like:
- Passport, IDs, documents
- Water Bottle
- Headphones, Apple Watch, iPad, phone (fully charged the night before)
I started using an app which allows me to create a master list I can use for every trip and just add the special items I need for that specific trip. You can even create lists for different seasons so you can make sure to bring those winter boots and gloves in the winter and your sunscreen in the summer.
This article has several packing apps you can check out.
Here’s a selection of my top resources for packing.
- Save this illustrated guide for folding socks, underwear and tees.
- Travel Outfit Planner PDF.
- Printable International Destination Packing List
- Printable Vacation Packing List
- How to Pack Two Weeks in a Carry On.
- A fabulous Packing Guide Ebook
Here are my favorite totes and backpacks for travel.
- Briggs & Riley Tote: I use Briggs & Riley luggage for work. This tote has lots of compartments to keep me organized. It’s worth the investment for the lifetime warranty.
- Cuyana Zipper Tote: I use this carry on bag for day trips and weekend getaways. It’s a classic tote that is stylish and holds up well.
- Aer Travel Sling: The Aer Travel Sling is designed to keep your travel essentials close at hand. It features a padded laptop pocket, a quick access pocket for travel documents, and a versatile sling strap for multiple carry positions. This one is great for men.
- Briggs & Riley Extra Large Tote: The Briggs & Riley Large Tote has lots of extra room if you are traveling with young children. I also like this tote if I go away for longer than a week.
- Packsafe Ultimatesafe anti-theft Backpack: Pacsafe makes backpacks and bags loaded with simple and effective anti-theft features to help protect you from pickpockets and thieves.
- Longchamp Tote: This tote is ideal for a day trip or weekend getaway. I recommend using an insert to keep your items organized.
- Aer Travel Backpacks: This is my favorite backpack.
- Briggs & Riley Backpack: The Briggs & Riley Backpack is perfect for the business traveler.
What about you? Does this look like your packing routine? What packing tips do you have to suggest I haven’t mentioned here?
P.S. I write a weekly newsletter packed with obsessively-curated recommendations. Sign up if you like and get my newsletter delivered right to your Inbox via this link. Here’s a link to the travel planning edition of the newsletter.
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