Traveling Abroad: What to Pack in Your Carry On

I recently took a trip to Italy with my friend Jenny, you may have seen some of the photos I posted on Instagram or Facebook.  One-way of travel included an unexpected 7+ hour layover and over 12 hours of flying total! So it was a long trip indeed!  I made sure to take mental note of what sort of items became crucial to have in my carry on during these long travel days…I hope you find the list below to be helpful for your next upcoming trip abroad!

Travel Toothbrush & Toothpaste OR Prepasted Toothbrush
There is a good good reason this is the first thing on the list of things you should bring in your carry on. I brought with me these really handy little prepasted toothbrushes that make for a great toothbrush replacement if you don’t want to bring toothpaste and a toothbrush (saves room in the bag). These were the perfect thing to get the fuzz off your teeth and freshen your breath up!

Spare Pair of Undies
I don’t need to go in to much detail on this, but when you are flying to another country, another time zone…having the necessities in case of a layover that ends up being longer than you imagined…having a spare pair is handy!

Flying and cabin pressure can sometimes give me headaches, having some tylenol reading to take was a real life saver!

Unisom or Melatonin
If you find it hard to sleep when your excited/anxious like I am when flying…I popped a Unisom when I was ready to fall asleep on the plane and it was wonderful! It helped me to relax and I was able to sleep for about 3-4 hours which made for a little more energy once we landed. I also used it after getting to Italy…because it helped me relax and go to bed when my body felt like it was only supposed to be late afternoon.

Large Scarf
Having a large scarf with me was probably the biggest lifesaver when it came to flying. The air on the plane can be really cool sometimes, so having a large scarf to wrap around your shoulders is a great idea! If you aren’t cold, you can roll it up and use it to help provide neck support for a pillow.

If you are planning on wearing sandals or open toed shoes on the plan, be sure to bring a pair of socks to use! Again, chilly air on the plane makes for cold tootsies…and can be uncomfortable if you are like me and have terrible circulation.

Most flights give you earbuds to use to watch videos etc…however, I find that the one size fits all earbuds are painful on my ears. I have small ear holes (what the hell else would they be called?) and therefore having something more comfortable is nice.

Small Deodorant
After a long long longgg flight. This small deodorant will be needed.

Travel Size Face Wash/Lotion
After a long flight washing my face and putting on lotion helped me to feel more awake despite the awfulness of jet lag.

Hand Lotion
My hands are super dry when I travel because I am always washing them!

Hand Sanitizer 
Travel + airports = germs germs germs. I prefer a spray hand sanitizer like this one from the Honest Company.

Ear Plugs and/or Eye Mask
If you are a bit high maintenance when it comes to getting shut eye…I would opt for ear plugs or an eye mask…I personally could go without and did for this trip…but if you know you are a light sleeper I would recommend these two items if you know you’ll be desperate.

Body Oil/Spray
A little spritz or roll on of body spray is equally as important as deodorant. I take with me a little roll on oil scent that I add to my wrists and neck to just help provide me with a little more “freshness”. I never want to be that person that loads on perfume right before getting on the plane…so a little scent just helps keep me smelling fresh.

Make up
I don’t bring a lot of make up in my carry on. Just a little concealer, bronzer and maybe my mascara if I feel it is necessary. Concealer for the under eye circles, bronzer for the dull skin and mascara for a little more of an “awake look”.

Extra Zip-Lock Bags
I don’t know how many times I’ve had a contact solution or hand lotion explosion in a zip lock bag when traveling due to the change in altitude and air pressure…having a back up zip lock bag was a life saver on many occasions!

Cash (both currencies)
I found it super helpful to have cash ready and available. I made sure to take out Euros before I left for my trip and then had some USD as well – just in case! Not too much, but just enough to get me through a two day period. This is super helpful if your going to need to catch a cab or find transportation when you land.

Phone Charter & Pocket Charger
Since there is a good chance you’ll end up having to wait during a layover, make sure to bring your phone charger and/or a pocket charger (I opted for both). Having the pocket charger was super helpful to charge my phone when an outlet wasn’t readily accessible.

Outlet Converter
This my friend is just as much of a necessity as deodorant! I am so happy I looked this up before leaving on the trip. Knowing that outlets overseas do not match with our adapters makes this converter very handy!

A Good Book or Magazine(s)
I normally choose a book over a magazine, but this particular trip I didn’t have a particular book I was reading and wanting to drag along with me so I opted to snag some magazines at the airport…these were a great distraction during the flight.

Small Lint Roller
I wore black leggings on the plane to help with comfort for sleeping and travel…what I am happy I thought of beforehand was to pack a small lint roller in my carry on to get the lint off of my black leggings when I got off the plane.

If the concealer won’t help the under eye circles and your feeling desperate. Sunglasses are always a good choice!

Contact Solution/Glasses
I wear contacts so having contact solution/eye drops, a contact case and my glasses was helpful. I have a hard time sleeping with my contacts in so being prepared with the arsenal for eye care was wonderful.

I used tic tacs more than gum. There isn’t always an immediate place to spit gum out…so having tic tacs on hand was great! The last impression I want to make on a poor person is the “bad breath” impression. Probably the worst! Make sure to stock up on tic tacs.

Pen & Paper
I had a small notebook and a pen handy to jot down anything I needed to remember or think of while traveling. It also was a great place to journal and keep thoughts about the trip to then share with my husband when I got home.

We were traveling during a time of year when the weather can be hit or miss. I made sure to have a very small travel sized umbrella handy should we get stuck in a down pour.

Wet wipes
Because they are handy as can be…! Get the disinfectant kind and use them to wipe down your tray table on the plane if your a semi-germaphobe like me 🙂

Tide-to-Go Marker
I had one of these on hand because when in Italy…one might drink wine…red wine at that…which means stain removal is probably going to take place.

Granola bars
I don’t always love the airport food, or the plane food. Having some of my favorite granola bars on hand came in super handy and tasty.

When you travel you eat differently than you do at home. Because of this crazy change in diet having tums was a great way to ensure that if I needed…I would be able to calm down an unsettled tummy.

Fingernail Clippers
Super strange I know…but I always end up with a hangnail when traveling or I need to cut a string off of something…which makes finger nail clippers harmless and wonderful when traveling!

Extra Hair Ties & Bobby Pins
I brought with me a little bag of hair ties and bobby pins which helped to update my hair after traveling for so long.

Dry Shampoo
If you can get a little can of dry shampoo – do it! If you tend to get greasy hair/roots easily this will help to liven up your roots when you land.

Just another necessity!

Extra Special Document Copies
I always make copies of my passport, drivers license, insurance card and any credit cards. I keep these folded up and in a safe zippered pocket inside my carry on. Separate from my wallet…doing this ensures that if my wallet goes missing I have back ups of my documents to use as proof of ownership and personal identity!

What would you add to this list? What am I missing? 


Leave a Comment


  1. Sara wrote:

    Such a great list! There are a few on there I never would have thought of – such as the dry shampoo. Genius!

    Posted 4.27.15 Reply
  2. Logan Can wrote:

    This is a really great list! It sounds like you covered everything. I always have trouble packing my carry-on.

    Posted 4.27.15 Reply
  3. Natalie wrote:

    Great list! For the last few trips that I’ve taken overseas, I’ve only packed a carry-on so I didn’t have to wait for any checked luggage (and I only had to haul around one bag!). I usually take a small backpack as my “purse” item and then pack a carry-on sized bag with my clothes. It’s minimalistic, but it works! I love the list that you’ve got here–I’d never thought about adding in extra hair pins and ties. I’m ALWAYS digging through my luggage for those! 🙂

    Posted 4.27.15 Reply
  4. Great list. I will have to remember this when I start my traveling someday!

    Posted 4.27.15 Reply
  5. These are great tips! I’ve yet to travel internationally (via plane) so I can’t add anything to the list., but being able to freshen up seems like it would be SO helpful if there were an unexpected delay. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted 4.27.15 Reply
  6. Jasmine wrote:

    such a great list and tips. I haven’t traveled since I was 4 but I’m hoping in the near future to be going somewhere tropical.

    Posted 4.27.15 Reply
  7. Ashleigh wrote:

    Wonderful list! I pack most of these items when traveling abroad! Awesome, thank you for sharing! xx

    Posted 4.27.15 Reply
  8. kristen wrote:

    such a cute post! extra zip locks are such a good idea!! thanks for sharing this! xx

    Posted 4.27.15 Reply
  9. Great list of carry on must-haves when traveling abroad! So many of those items are a must for me when heading anywhere near or far. Thanks for sharing!
    xo, Laura

    Posted 4.28.15 Reply
  10. ashley wrote:

    Great tips! We just returned back from a trip to Punta Cana and there is some of this that I wish I would have packed in my carry-on!

    Posted 4.28.15 Reply
  11. I don’t know what I would add to this list—there are so many great suggestions that I wouldn’t have thought of! I’m pinning this, thank you!

    Posted 4.28.15 Reply