Travel Carry-on Essentials and Top Travel Tips

What to Pack in your Carry-On

In planning my upcoming trip to NYC with the husband, I have been excitedly making my packing list and prepping everything that I’ll be taking with me (including a lot of cold weather kit!)

Since your comfort on a flight is almost entirely down to what you put in your carry-on, I thought I would put together a post for you detailing my hand luggage essentials –


What to Pack in your Carry-On

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Cabin Suitcase | Clear Clutch Bag | Eye Masks | Sleeping Aid | Dry Oil | Facial Spritz | Water Bottle | Kind Bars | Perfect Bars | Nikon J1 Camera | Tech Travel Wallet | Portable Charger | Headphones | Kindle | Passport Cover | Trainers | Cardigan | Blanket Scarf | Silk Mask | Converse | Compression Packing Cubes

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:: My roomy carry-on tote by Stella & Dot:

For a weekend or short trip away I prefer to use a tote or duffel carry-on and then use my small hard case as checked luggage, if I need to (ideally I like to take both as hand luggage – see more about how I travel everywhere with carry-on here). My Getaway bag from Stella & Dot is ideal with the zip around extendable section, for when I shop a little more than I intended. It has comfortable tote straps and a detachable shoulder strap so it’s easy to carry or hook over my wheelie luggage for hands-free convenience. I have it in Red Ikat and Indigo Ikat (neither of which are currently available, but it comes in a host of different prints.) I also love this one, because: palms…

:: My Satechi rose gold wireless (or wired) headphones:

It can’t only be me that finds earbud headphones (especially the cheap ones distributed on airlines) incredibly uncomfortable after only a few minutes… (are my ears the wrong shape??) Anyway, bringing my own headphones allows me to listen to music, podcasts or the in-flight entertainment in peaceful (and, more importantly, stylish) comfort.

:: My Nuxe dry oil:

Airplane travel is a nightmare for your skin and the air-conditioning is incredibly drying. I like to remove my make-up (especially flying long-haul, since I’ll likely want to sleep) once I’m comfortably seated and smooth on a few drops of my Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, made up of six plant oils, which helps keep my skin hydrated (also great for your hands). Then I just apply a light make-up look (read: tinted sunscreen and a slick of mascara) right before we land.

:: My Face Spritz:

Along the same vein as the face oil – I really love a refreshing facial mist or spritz when I am traveling long-haul as I find that it can do wonders to wake up my tired and parched skin after a few hours in the air-conditioning. I have been loving the aloe, cucumber and green tea spritz by Mario Badescu and I finally tracked down a travel size!

:: My Sleep mask

Lights on, lights off, reading lights – there’s all sorts going on during a night flight. Help block out some of that irritating light pollution with this light-weight and comfortable silk sleeping mask – which comes with a bonus set of ear plugs. I also thought of slipping a couple of these on under my silk mask – no one would need to know!

:: My Vinyl zippered make-up case:

Is it as chic as my usual leather make-up case? No, but every now and then practicality must win out. By packing my make-up in here I’m not left fumbling for a ziplock bag at security for my liquids. I also love these chic clear clutches and want to collect the whole set.

:: My Tech/Travel organizer from

I like to be organized when I travel and for everything to have a place. This gorgeous (monogrammed) leather wallet keeps all my essentials close to hand, passport, pen (for those pesky customs forms), boarding pass, foreign currency or emergency cash, hotel confirmation, itinerary, portable charger (more on that later), USB charging cables and even my kindle – speaking of…

:: My Kindle:

I love a proper book (you remember, those ones made of paper) as much as the next girl. I love the smell of the print and those delightfully smooth pages, full of promise, just waiting to be read. But not when I travel. They’re too heavy and I have to resist the lure of the airport stores brimming with best sellers. Instead I stock up my Kindle with new titles in the days before I travel and then I have a plethora of reading options at my fingertips all weighing only 7.2 oz.

(I might make an exception for a couple of magazines – especially a travel magazine to help get me excited for the adventure ahead)

You Might Also Enjoy Reading: 10 Tips for Affording Luxury Travel on a Budget

Your ultimate carry-on packing guide - all your in flight essentials and my top travel tips!

:: My Camera:

Not because I think I’ll find anything massively inspiring on the plane to shoot, but because I ain’t leaving that shiz in my checked luggage… sorry people, but keep your valuables where you can see them! Latest model here.

:: My Blanket Scarf:

Flights can get chilly, I like to snuggle and it’s especially comforting when it’s your cozy scarf and not a synthetic, questionably clean, airline blanket. Pack a nice, big blanket scarf and spritz it quickly with your favourite perfume at duty-free so that it smells like home – then snuggle up and enjoy the in-flight movies. An open-front soft cardigan is also great to layer up and wrap yourself in.

Bonus – you can also fold it up and use it as a pillow.

:: My Emergency Change of Clothes:

Travelling to and from the Caribbean is a nightmare when it comes to lost luggage (Luggage in Another Terminal is a well-used synonym for our local airline LIAT) and, as such, it is essential that you pack at least one light change of clothes and some spare underwear in your carry-on (consider a bikini too if traveling to a hot destination). Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

:: My Prescription meds:

Following on from the point above, please remember to take any prescription medications in your carry-on, in case your luggage is lost. Add an Emergency-C sachet to help fend off the plane germs and some headache tablets to ensure comfortable travel. A couple of sleep gels would also be a great addition, if that’s your thing. (I’ve never needed them but have some friends that swear by them for long-haul travel).

Note: Do not forget to check the regulations for prescription medication and over-the-counter medication in the country you are traveling to, before traveling internationally. Be sure to take the prescription details with you and carry the medication in their original clearly marked containers. Make sure the name on the prescription, the medicine container and your passport all match. 

:: My Portable Charger:

There’s few things worse than running out of battery with several hours of travel still ahead of you. Trying to get a seat next to the charging stations at the gate is a challenge and then you’re stuck there, camping out, defending your spot and keeping an eye on your valuables. Instead, I invested in a large portable charger. Day-to-day I use it on the ferry and when you have to travel further afield it’s a lifesaver. Mine is a 6000mAh charger (I have it in white and rose gold) and I can get two or three full charges out of it (iPhone and/or Kindle) before I need to power up. There are definitely more powerful chargers on the market – but they can get heavy. I prefer having a lighter charger and it does the job.

:: My Water Bottle:

I bought this one for myself at Christmas and I love it. Keeps my tea hot or my water cold. Especially useful when traveling, I take it through security empty and then fill up at a water station the other side.

:: My Snacks:

I like to pack some nuts and cereal bars in my carry-on to help stop me making nutritiously poor (and overpriced) panicked food decisions at the airport when hanger (it’s a real-life, actual thing – just ask my long-suffering husband!) strikes. My favourites are Kind Bars and Perfect Bars – since they both have just the right amount of chocolate.

You Might Also Enjoy Reading: How to travel with only your carry-on
Top Travel Tips:


  • Make a list – being super prepared before you go will help ensure that you don’t overpack, and at the same time reduce the risk of you forgetting something essential.
  • Consider using gallon zip lock bags or packing cubes when packing your smaller/lighter items of clothing (cami tops, skirts, shirts, gym clothes) roll tightly and then put them into the ziplock bag (you can usually fit around 5 items per bag) squeeze the air out before sealing the bag and it compresses everything down. (This tip enabled me to take only hand luggage on my 3-week honeymoon)
  • Wear layers – oftentimes when I travel I’ll be going from hot to cold climates and vice versa – I like to plan my travel outfit with lots of layers so that I can build up and strip down accordingly. (This also helps on the plane where the temps can fluctuate)
  • Wear your bulkiest clothing on the flight to save space in your luggage – comfy shoes or trainers are also a must!
  • Inform your bank and credit card company before you travel (and take an emergency stash of cash just in case) – even if you don’t remember have time to stop into your branch before you travel, almost all cards will have a number you can call on the back of the card. Give them the details of your travel and avoid your card getting declined at an inopportune moment.
  • Carry photocopies of important documents – always ensure that you have a photocopy of the picture page of your passport, any visas and your health insurance. (Which brings me neatly to…)
  • It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance in place – a medical emergency while traveling will already cause all sorts of stress and hassle, don’t add additional expenses into the equation. As expats we have always used World Nomads and love their coverage. Check the policy details carefully to ensure that the coverage is right for you!


Any top travel tips for me before we go? We leave tomorrow, I’m so excited!! Expect some NYC blog posts on my return…



  1. February 8, 2017 / 4:06 pm

    Have a wonderful trip! It is always so exciting getting ready to leave! Love the Tech travel organizer. I might have to get myself one of those!

    • February 8, 2017 / 4:09 pm

      Thank you Diane – we’re so excited, we’ve never been so we’re complete NYC novices! You should definitely get the tech wallet – it was a bit of a splurge but I now carry it everyday! 🙂

      • February 8, 2017 / 5:31 pm

        I grew up right outside of NYC, and then lived on the other side of NYC, in New Jersey for 17 years. Love, love, LOVE that city! How long will your visit be? Do you need any suggestions? We went in to “THE city” very often.

        • February 8, 2017 / 6:29 pm

          Oh my goodness – we would love any suggestions. We’re spending two nights in Mid-town and two nights in Brooklyn.

          • February 8, 2017 / 7:32 pm

            well aren’t you a couple of hipsters, staying out in Brooklyn! haha! I actually haven’t been over there much at all. LOTS of time in midtown, though. What sort of things do you like to do? Also, are you flying over tomorrow? BIG snow storm coming in. You might want to check for delays… and bring your boots!

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