I've been a travel writer and blogger for a combined 17 years so I've learned a trick or two when it comes to what are the essentials for packing your carry-on luggage!
I hate wishing I had something in my hand luggage which is packed in the back of the plane and even worse, wishing I had packed that essential item when my luggage goes missing and I have nothing to wear for a couple days, so here is my checklist for what I take in my cabin bag:
Thermos water bottle which you must take through security empty and fill airside. I like the slimline shape for fitting into the seat pocket and also in a day pack when I'm out and about. It's an eco friendly way of drinking too without all those plastic bottles filling up landfills or ending up in the sea!
Neck pillow – a must if you plan to get some sleep. I have tried a few types and have now graduated to the award-winning Cabeau pillow with memory foam. But micro bead pillows are also very cosy – and cheaper. I like a fastener in front so I can spin it around and sleep resting my chin on it. I also carry it fastened around the handle of my cabin bag which takes up no valuable space. (I sell 3 types of neck pillows in the store).
Eye mask and ear plugs – ditto above for sleeping. I like the squishy silicon earplugs that are like white putty and mouldable and can be pushed into the ear for excellent noise elimination. (I have cute silk eye masks coming to the store soon).
Slippers – I take my shoes off when I settle into my seat for a long flight and put thin slippers on which is essential for bathroom use so if the floor is, ahem, wet your feet won’t be.
Ear bud headphones – I know most people would say noise-cancelling headphones but I find them too bulky and not comfortable to sleep in. Simple cell phone ear buds allow you to keep them in while resting on your neck pillow and offer great sound. (I have some coming for the store).
Gadgets and toys – as well my chargers and my laptop in an outer pocket for easy access during a flight, I pack my camera to keep it safe from going missing if my luggage doesn’t make it (my last experience was a three-day missing bag). An e-reader or a book is also necessary and I’ve even taken knitting (yes, knitting needles are allowed on flights from New Zealand, across the US and Australia. There may be more countries, but I haven’t taken my knitting anywhere else!)
I have learned from experience that packing a spare set of underwear and some basic toiletries are a good idea in your cabin bag. Just make sure any lotions are under 100mls. I also carry my makeup bag on board as if I lost this it’d be hundreds of dollars to replace everything!
Make sure your medications are also packed in your cabin bag, as you do not want to risk them going missing and you may also need to show them to customs officials which is a lot easier if they are within easy reach.
If I’m leaving one climate and arriving in another I pack an under layer like a long sleeved top, or conversely a tank top, which I can change into or out of upon arrival. There’s nothing more exhausting than arriving in Asia, for example, in your winter woollies and not being able to shed a layer because your singlet is in your luggage!
I hope my cabin bag check list helps!
Jump through and browse my site for my selected range of cabin bags and travel accessories. I am constantly updating my stock and finding new things, so check back from time to time and I hope you'll find what you're looking for!