What’s In My Carry-On Bag?

July 13, 2019

Last Updated on July 20, 2019 by Candy Wafford

We’re all a little voyeuristic, aren’t we? I love seeing what other travelers pack. It’s fun to get a peek into another person’s world, but I also find lots of stuff I may not know I needed. I know I’m not alone in this, so here is what’s in my carry-on bag.

Really I’m sharing what is in my personal carry-on bag. A personal item is classified by the airlines as a laptop bag, backpack, tote bag or any other item that is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. You can find items that I carry in my larger carry-on, here and here.

My Carry-On / Personal Item Bag

I’ve detailed my love for Away’s The Everywhere Bag here.  It’s still doing everything I need it to do while looking sleek and stylish.  My daughter liked it too and received one for last birthday.  She has found that it works great for her as a personal bag for flights as well as an overnight bag for trips home. 

Always in My Carry-On Bag

The items below are my travel essentials and are always in my carry-on bag whether it’s a one-night or ten-night trip.


If you don’t click on anything else in this post, click on this. Trust me, you want these pouches!

I watched a YouTube video where a blogger shared these bags and I was intrigued, but ultimately chose not to buy them.  Then a friend told me about the same bags so I decided to go for it.  Now, I don’t know how I lived without them!

You received 3 bags in 3 different sizes.  They are lightweight and durable, a winning combination for any item in your carry-on bag.  I like that they are trimmed in different colors so I can easily see which one I want to grab.  The mesh on one side and almost transparent fabric on the other side also makes it easy to find what you need quickly. 

I use one for my must-have with me items, another for snacks, and the third for my adapters and other random electronic items I need for work.  I can pack more in these little bags than anything I was using previously which is a good and a bad thing. 

Love, love these and plan on picking some up for gifts!

Water Bottle

I always travel with an empty water bottle and fill it up as soon as I get through security.  We all know how dehydrating flying can be and I like to have water with me on the flight.  Carrying my own bottle reduces waste and saves money. 

My favorite water bottle by Grizzly is no longer available but I found a similar one on Amazon.  I’ve tried several water bottles and one that holds about 16 ounces/500 ml is the prefect size.  It’s not so tall that I have trouble standing it up upright and the hook on the top makes it easy to grab when I need to rehydrate. I also like the slightly squared-off top and find it fits better in my bag.  I’ve also learned that you need something sturdy for the frequent drops to the floor a water bottle often makes.

I have a metal bottle that is great in terms of shape and size, but I found when I was carrying it, my bag was getting pulled for extra inspection by security.

Power Bank

This is a new addition to my carry on bag.  Fortunately, I’ve never depleted my phone battery while traveling but after reading horror stories where others have I decided it was worth the investment to pick one up.


I’ve shared my desire for every passenger on a plane to carry earbuds and use them here and here.  My husband and I both have a pair of these noise-canceling headphones and they work well for the price.  They are also small and lightweight, unlike many other popular headphones.

Eye Mask

I’ve gotten out of the habit of using an eye mask unless I’m on an overnight flight.  Then it’s one of those little things that will make it so much easier to sleep.  I’ve shared other tips on getting more sleep while traveling here

Pill Boxes

You can’t ensure that your roller bag will stay with you during the flight as they can be pulled if a flight attendant thinks it is too large (this happened to me last year) or if the overhead bins fill up.  So you need to keep anything that you must-have during the flight or after landing with you at all times. This includes medications which I keep in a couple of sturdy little pillboxes.  I can easily pack a week’s worth of meds in these.


I get panicky if I don’t have snacks in my carry-on bag.  I don’t eat them on every flight, but have to have something in case I get hungry.  We’re seeing more and more stories where flights sit on runways for hours or are diverted and you can’t assume the airline is going to feed you. 

Also, buying food in airports is expensive, and often the selection is limited, and may not fit any dietary restrictions.  My favorite snacks to carry are nuts and protein bars.  I’ll also pack cheese, crackers, and fruit for my own little airplane picnic. If I am in the mood for something sweet, which is all the time, I like snacks that are bite-sized like peanut M&Ms or Junior Mints. 

Lip Gloss

I’ve used Rosebud Lip Salve for years and find it works great not only on keeping my lips soft but also works as a great hand moisturizer.  A tin literally lasts me for a couple of years.


My iPad is one of my favorite things.  I can’t imagine traveling without it and use it read books and magazines and occasionally watch a movie.  I love this case because it is unique and I get tons of compliments on it.  I have it in red but it’s also available in a lovely tobacco brown.  The link below is for the size that fits my iPad, but it comes in other sizes to fit different versions.

My Purse

I travel with a small cross-body bag that fits into my carry-on bag. It contains my ID, credit cards, money, glasses, and other stuff that’s always with me.

Overnight Flights & Longer Trips

Overnight flights require all of the above and then some.  Sleeping on a flight requires some additional planning and a few other items in my carry-on bag.

Compression Socks

Compression socks aren’t the sexiest thing but are a necessary evil when on a long-haul flight.  My feet and ankles tend to swell on any flight but especially when I’m sitting for more than a few hours.  I do try and walk around some and do exercises in my seat but compression socks give that extra little oomph to keep the swelling down.  Swollen feet and ankles can potentially result in DVT or deep vein thrombosis, a potentially serious situation.

TRTL Pillow

Unless you’re in first-class, you are going to be trying to sleep in a mostly upright position on an overnight flight.  And most travel pillows don’t give enough neck support so you end up with your head flopping back and forth and a crick in your neck the next morning.

Meet the trtl pillow  This weird little contraption is pretty damn awesome.  I’ve tried the traditional travel pillows and they are just too much trouble to carry.  Last time, I left mine in the hotel room rather than have to lug it around. I like the trtl pillow because it folds up fairly small so I can stick in my carry-on.  And it gives just enough support for your neck and head unlike the sad little pillows the airlines hand out. 

A trtl Plus pillow was recently introduced but I haven’t tried it yet.


I like to journal about my travels and used to carry a cute little journal for each big trip I took.  But then I started using a bullet journal and now just use it to capture my daily travel entries.  I like the Leuchtturm 1917 journals because they are sturdy, not too big or too small, and come in a bunch of pretty colors.

This is my current list of travel essentials in my carry-on bag. I’m always looking for new must-haves and am currently on the lookout for a lightweight, small pashmina or blanket as well as something to carry my travel documents. Please leave me a comment and let me know what’s in your carry-on bag!

More about Candy Wafford

Candy Wafford is a US-based travel blogger and while she travels frequently for her job, she is happiest when traveling for pleasure. Preferably strolling along a cobblestoned street with an ice cream cone in her hand.

    1. for pills I use: https://www.walgreens.com/store/c/walgreens-pill-pouches/ID=prod6328104-product?ext=gooKBM_PLA_-_Health_Care&pla&adtype=pla&kpid=sku6275328&sst=_k_EAIaIQobChMItLHt24-44wIVEtvACh11QwgiEAQYASABEgJHSfD_BwE_k_&gclid=EAIaIQobChMItLHt24-44wIVEtvACh11QwgiEAQYASABEgJHSfD_BwE

      for a sweet snack someone recommended the Trader Joe dried mango slices. I found them too hard. However, Aldi’s dried sliced mango slices are wonderful. Sweet, but not candy. Also, instead of a sandwich, try tortilla rollups instead. NO bread crumbs. I grab a six pack from the Kroger deli the night before we leave. Easy.

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