So you’re about to take your next adventure, fly somewhere and enjoy a new destination? Congrats! In addition to packing whatever it is you need for your destination, you will also need to pack your carry-on with some serious essentials from anything between entertainment, keeping yourself fed, looking your best and sleeping your best. This carry-on packing list should help you make sure that you have put all that you need in one pace!

Carry-on Packing List for Clothing

  • Sweater or cardigan
  • Scarf (not my choice but several recommendations call for using a scarf as an extra blanket and fashion choice)
  • Change of Clothes– underwear or new leggings, yoga pants or socks. Sometimes it just feels good to switch something out if you’ve been wearing it for 8 hours of travel and have 5 hours left until your home (or more).
  • Face Masks– your face gets gross whether or not you wear a mask throughout the day. Save yourself some trouble with acne by bringing a couple with you for the trip. Swap them out with a clean one or use disposable masks.

Airport Outfit- there are so many articles written about this topic. From wearing your bulkiest clothes on the plane, to dressing like you might as well be in bed. I prefer to pair black yoga pants, comfortable flats or TOMS slip on, a sweater or cardigan, and a short sleeve shirt. Obviously your undergarments and pack a change of clothes if you have a long day of airports. If you land somewhere hot (like we typically do), pack a change of clothes like a shirt with shorter sleeves, shorts or even a dress that quickly rolls up into your bag. I don’t want to be wearing yoga pants in a place that is 90 degrees when we land.

Items for Comfort

  • Headphones– I own noise canceling Sony headphones. Kids were so very loud on the stretch to Hawaii, and I get that 5+ hour flights can be hard on kids…. but regular headphones did not tune them out. Now I have noise cancelling ones and lets hope that works next time.
  • Gum
  • Eye Mask– people keep their electronics on even during an overnight flight, sometimes it is bright enough to keep you awake and other times it is too awkward to accidentally see what they are watching. My eye mask helped me get to sleep. It felt weird at first to sleep with something on my face but it was better than other people’s lights.
  • Compression socks– Prevents DVTs and makes your feet feel good after traveling all day. It keeps your feet from swelling from sitting or walking around a bunch and changing altitudes.
  • Neck Pillow – for sleeping or extra support in the uncomfortable chairs.
  • SI Belt– I wear an SI belt just from sitting all day at my desk! Wearing one for the plane or even long car rides has saved me a lot of pain.

Carry-on Packing List for Entertainment

  • Electronics & Chargers
    • iPad/Tablet
    • Phone
    • laptop?
    • Video game- Kyler has a Nintendo switch and we played Monopoly on the way to Hawaii.


  • Healthy Food/Snacks– think about choosing more proteins and fats than a bag of crackers. Energy from protein and fats goes a lot farther than energy from carbs. Besides, why use up valuable space in your carry-on for crackers and chips, when you can get that from the flight attendants? I pack turkey jerky, my Healthy Trail Mix Recipe, and Larabars (carbs yes, but okay), cheese sticks and some sort of snack with peanut butter.
  • Kyler eats airport foods- he eats whatever he wants. But if we choose to buy something, I try to stick to my low carb diet by focusing on items that have a lot of protein or fat. Which can be a challenge when you’re staring at a menu with a lot of sandwiches. A safe choice for me has been buying chicken salads – Cesar or Spinach and Strawberries with vinaigrette. Then you have protein, vegetables to fill you up and something a little extra to make things not boring. Although they tend to have fewer calories, vegetables fill your stomach up more than foods loaded with carbs (like sandwiches).

Carry-on Packing List for Hygiene

  • Face Masks (because of COVID)
    • Bring more than one and keep them in a plastic bag. Purses are known to be one of the dirtiest things ever!
  • Hand Sanitizer and/or Wipes– I always have hand sanitizer in my purses, so this just transfers into my travel bag.
  • Burt’s Bees Face Wipes– when we landed in Seattle after our overnight flight from Hawaii, it was good to wipe my face, brush my hair, make myself feel a little more human with a swipe of some blush… Some people kept mouth wash and took care of that in the airport bathroom. Kyler and I went right to getting food lol
  • Meds! You should always keep your prescription medications in a bag closest to you! We check out suitcases so it always go into my carryon so that I don’t look my anti-seizure medications. Other meds include Advil, daily vitamins if you do an over-night flight, and melatonin. Ginger for an upset stomach…

Official and Required Documents/Items

  • Wallet– I use a smaller one than I do at home. It carries my ID, a few cards and can be a key-chain
  • Government Issued ID: Driver’s License, State License, passport, etc.
  • Keys
  • Passport or Passport Card– I am only getting a passport card for the time being because I can travel to and from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and Caribbean for only $40-45. More cost effective for me and Kyler right now.
  • Reservation Info
    • Plane tickets (or keep it on your phone digital wallet)
    • Hotel/VRBO
    • Car Rental and insurance

Carry-on Packing List for Long Flights

Because I live out in Montana, almost all my flights will technically be long-haul flights which are defined as flights that are 4 hours or longer. Starting flights from Kalispell go to Seattle or Denver, and then off to wherever we are headed or more stopes. Even our trip to Las Vegas was long. Hawaii was a 12 hour day of traveling (1 hr 34 min to Seattle + layover + 5- 5 1/2 hour flight to Hawaii).

So, your carry-on packing list expands a little more in this section for items such as a change of clothes, toiletries to refresh you after the flight, more snacks, melatonin, maybe even a travel blanket- that was nice to have. Our flight back from Hawaii was an overnight flight (which was actually harder than I though it would be) but a change of underwear and shirt, eye mask, big sweater, face wipes and a hairbrush made it a little easier.