Top 10 Must-Haves in a Carry-On

The Expeditions Staff has spent some time over the years traveling to and fro, so we decided to compile some pointers when it comes to packing your personal carry-on bag! We understand that we all have very different tastes in bags so we’re not going to recommend a bag BUT we do advise you to make sure to clean it out before you begin packing and that you intentionally pack things that you need for this trip you are embarking on. So, take out your library card, the keys to your office, and the padlock for your bike — do you really need those on your trip?! We didn’t think so…

1. Snacks

We feel as though calories shouldn’t count while 30,000 feet above the planet… but best we can tell, they sadly still do. With that said, we prefer to bring healthy whole food kind of snacks!

Staff Favorites: Kind Bars, Lara Bars, Justin’s Almond Butter Squeeze Packs, bags of raw almonds, and one not so healthy favorite… Starburst

2. Travel Pillow

People are kind of picky about the type of pillow they like to travel with. We suggest considering whether your travel pillow will have double usage during your trip, so used not only on the flight but also once you get to your final destination. Memory foam neck pillows are pretty great, but a few of us over here are pretty partial to the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow and might admit that they have cuddled with it every night for the last ten years since they took this job… don’t worry, it’s washable.

3. Oversized Scarf

We believe that the oversized scarf can save the day on so many occasions. It keeps you warm if you get cold air blasted on you in-flight, it can cover your head or arms if entering a holy site, it adds some flair to an outfit in a pinch, and some even make it work as a very hip head scarf as to ignore post flight hair drama.

4. Passport Where for Art Thou?

How many times do you have a mini panic attack wondering where in the world you put your passport? Our insider’s tip: always keep your passport in the same spot so you never forget where it is. You’ll need to pull it out approximately 67 times in a single day of travel, so keep it in a place where you can easily grab it and don’t have to drop your bag on the floor dumping everything out in order to remember that you put it in your pocket… we’ve all been there.

5. Ear Plugs -or- Noise Cancelling Headphones

This is a must for both flights and for your local accommodations, so when the local carnival comes to town right outside of your window you can still get some shut-eye! ( Thank you very much little village in Cebu, Philippines! )

6. Change of Clothes

It’s always best to be overly prepared for situations in which the airline goblins have stolen your checked luggage. You didn’t go on this trip to spend your first couple of hours off of the plane buying all that was in your lost luggage so that you can simply survive a week or so!

7. Toothbrush and Travel Sized Toothpaste

Keep your travel companions happy and brush your tusks after long flights, they will be mentally thanking you!

8. Personal Medicine

It’s important to keep all of your health related medications with you as you travel and not in your checked baggage. What if you have to take them on your journey over? Or what about the airline goblins that we mentioned earlier? Medication is a little more difficult to replace than a t-shirt…

9. Water Bottle

Oh how we love our S’well’s, Nalgene’s, and Hydro Flask’s!

Bonus Tip: Ask your flight attendant to fill up your water bottle and/or if you’re lucky the airline might even  have self-serve water stations to go along with some good snacks during those longer flights.

10. Something To Do

Your Fidget Spinner, a deck of cards, Travel Boggle, a Yo-Yo, a book of questions, a paperback book, a journal — you’ve gotta have some fun and brain stimulation during the ‘hurry up and wait’ times of traveling! And we suggest to never rely on in-flight entertainment; it’s happened on more than one occasion where the seat back screen hasn’t worked and my friend was forced to stare ahead into nothingness like David Puddy in this classic Seinfeld episode —


Written by Michele Sbrana


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