What I Pack In My Carry-On When I Travel + Best Way To Stay Organized

what to pack in your carry on, carry on essentials, travel essentials

 Hi there, lovelies!

Over the past couple of years, as I’ve traveled more and more, I’ve received quite a bit of insight on best travel practices. Every time I pack up to go somewhere, I get quite a few questions and interest in me sharing what I packed in my carry-on. I’ve attempted to share the list and tips on my IG stories a few times but I’m always just making it to my flight gate as they’re boarding so I haven’t been able to. However, I thought it would make the perfect post leading up to the Spring and Summer travel season.

My list is pretty comprehensive and I have quite a few handy tips to share but keep in mind you can add to or take out whatever is on my list that is unnecessary for you! Due to my line of work, I always travel with my laptop, external hard drive and my camera cards but that might not be necessary for you!

So, here we go! As I pack for my trip across the pond today, here is what I’ll be packing. The first thing that is worth mentioning, and the first thing I grab to start the packing process, is ….

Tote bags are a travel girls’ best friend!

To be honest, the only reason why I haven’t sold the Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM Tote that I own is because of how useful it is for packing everything I need when I travel internationally.

Something that I do that has posed to be extremely helpful on return trips is to layer tote bags so that, if you do some shopping on your trip, you have a place to store them as most people don’t give themselves extra space in their checked bag. Or, if you get up to the flight counter and your checked bags are too heavy, you have this bag to use to transfer some of the weight to it. That will, of course, only be helpful if you do not have a small rolling carry-on in addition to the tote bag.

Personally, I like for the tote that will be located inside the Neverfull GM to have a zipper on it as maintain a sense of security for items that you absolutely do NOT want to have stolen like your passport, wallet, boarding passes, phone and / or any tech device.

rebecca minkoff, louis vuitton, travel bags, travel tips, what to pack in a carry on
Have you checked out my travel bag post? If not, head HERE!

I have been using this Rebecca Minkoff Nylon Tote on my last couple of trips and I’m extremely happy with it! It has a lot of pockets to hide valuables and allow for extra storage. This may sound weird or a bit menial but I also think the zipper is extremely easy to zip and unzip. I absolutely love it!

Invest in pouches and utilize interior zipper compartments for storage.

Before I start packing the bigger items into my tote, I grab the smaller pouches that can easily get lost among those bigger items and store them into the inside zip pocket. I mentioned in my travel bags post that pouches are the best way, that I have found, to stay organized! You can find a lot of pouch options in that post! Here’s what I store in the two I’m holding above:

This small white pouch carries two pairs of headphones and a travel size tampon. Hey, just being honest! It’s good to always have one on ya, ladies!

This little cloud pouch has currency for the location that I’m going to. So, for England and Italy, I have pounds and Euro’s. I don’t think you HAVE to have this or currency for your destination ahead of time but, since I have been quite a bit over the past few years, I always tend to come home with coins so I just store them in there so I have them while I’m there if I need them. They’re easier to store there, I’ve found.

I also always store my passport in a zipped pouch, whether it’s in the inside pocket of the tote or a large pouch. It’s much more secure when it’s not visible to the people around you! You HAVE to do what you can to keep this document as safe and secure as possible! The last thing you’re going to want to do on your trip is find the nearest U.S. embassy to get a temporary replacement.

Next up … all things tech!

After storing those smaller items, I pack my laptop case.

I absolutely love my laptop case. It’s so spacious and offers me a lot of compartments to store items in. It is old but here and here are a couple of similar ones.

In the laptop case, I store my laptop, power cord, external hard drive, portable phone charger, and protective case with my camera cards in it. I also always carry whatever world travel adaptor I need from this kit, which is compatible with my laptop. The box tells you what you need for each area of the world. At night, I typically hook up my laptop to the wall outlet with this adaptor then use a USB cord to plug my phone into and everything gets charged over night. Then, I have purchased a separate adaptor for the U.K. and Europe to plug my external charging battery into overnight. I actually got my U.K. one at the Apple Store in Covent Garden but the ones I linked for Europe are the ones I have and they work great!

The reason why I pack these in my carry on is because I’ve found that sometimes, especially if I fly Virgin Atlantic, they will have U.K. plugs and you have to ask them for an adaptor. This isn’t a big deal but I’d rather just have what I need and not bother the staff onboard.

One last thing I squeeze into my laptop case is my Power Trip pouch, which holds a couple of those adaptors, two USB cords and one camera cord that charges my camera as well as my external phone battery.

If I am traveling domestically, I bring a Wifi hotspot with me, powered by AT&T. It doesn’t work internationally so I leave it home for those trips abroad and just hope for the best!

Next up! Toiletry items …

Next, I pack some toiletry items in my main white pouch that I shared in my travel bags post. I feel like this pouch would be a similar size, plus it’s super cute!

I pack Wet Ones because … the airport and planes are really disgusting places … let’s be honest! I pack my contact case, an extra pair of contacts, a small bottle of contact solution, lip balm with SPF, makeup removing wipes, and my card case!

Like my passport, I also keep my card case somewhere secure. I also make sure I store them separately that way, if someone does happen to get in to my bag, they can’t easily find both of them.

In an effort to prevent packing one big bulky pouch, I use multiple for my toiletries. I also make it a point to keep what I bring to travel size items. If I don’t do my nighttime routine at the airport before boarding my flight, I will take my makeup off at my seat, then grab this black pouch to do the rest of my routine in the bathroom.

In the black cosmetic pouch, which is currently out of stock, I pack lavender scented hand cream, TULA face wash, TULA moisturizer, TULA eye cream, a second contact case [because I’m neurotic about forgetting one], lavender spray, a hair clip and hydrating eye gels. I also pack a travel sized tooth brush and toothpaste, which aren’t pictured because I pack them at the bottom of that pouch so those went in first when we were shooting.

You can get a duo of the TULA moisturizer and eye cream HERE.

You could use a pouch like this for these items, if you’re looking for an alternative option! Here is the most similar pouch to the one I use that I could find.

One thing I do to combat jet lag is to set my time clock to that of my destination when I leave Jacksonville. So, if I’m heading to London, and I’m not leaving New York or Atlanta until 9:00pm, it’s already 2:00AM in London. This means that when I get on that flight, I need to get changed and get comfortable as quickly as possible! Sometimes I even change before I get on the flight. I also try and eat dinner, as well, and I just tell the flight attendant to not worry about me eating dinner. Taking care of these two items ahead of your flight will allow you to get into the mindset of ‘bedtime’.

If you need to take something to fall asleep, I suggest waiting until you are about 30 minutes into your flight to ensure there is no need to head back to the airport in which you came for whatever reason! I use a lavender spray that I spray on my wrists and my pillowcase. I found this lavender spray that also acts as a hand sanitizer! I haven’t used it so I can’t vouch for it but I thought that was pretty handy and it’s gotten great reviews!

Last, but not least …

I always pack a pair of cozy socks to put on after I change for the night. There’s nothing worse than cold feet when you’re trying to get a couple of hours of sleep before you get to your destination, where you need to hit the ground running! Set yourself up for success by bringing socks in your carry on!

The last thing I bring that I haven’t mentioned, and that I actually could not find prior to shooting this post for you guys, is a sleep mask! This is the one I have and I’m really hoping I can find it today before I have to leave because it really does help me block out other travelers’ reading lights.

Okay, that about does it! Outside of totes, I do sometimes also pack a small rolling carry on. For that carry on, I pack my camera, charger, and my more expensive shoes or handbags. I also pack deodorant in there so that, if I feel like I need a little refresh, I have that in there! I like to have it as a just in case item!

What do you bring that I might have missed? I’d love to hear it! xo.

SHOP THE POST

Editor's Notes

Other tips I have for traveling internationally:

• Make sure you’re drinking a lot of water during your long flight as you are more likely to become dehydrated when you travel.

• You’ll be breathing in recycled air with less oxygen in the airplane cabin. When it’s safe to move about the cabin, make sure you walk around every other hour or so to keep your circulation going!

• Plug in ALL of your devices at least five hours before you leave for the airport to ensure all of your devices are charged and ready to go!

thoughts?

56 Comments

  1. Rach wrote:

    So helpful! Thank you for sharing!!

    https://www.rdsobsessions.com/spring-transition/

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
  2. La Bijoux Bella | by mia wrote:

    Love ♥️ the computer sleeves … very nice post!

    🌸🍃LA BIJOUX BELLA 🌸🍃| By Mia | A Creative Lifestyle Blog

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
  3. Cindy wrote:

    The first thing that comes to mind after seeing EVERYTHING you manage to get into this bag is, Mary Poppins. I love this post – I’ve added a few things to my list for upcoming travels. Thank you!!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hahah, that’s what I call this bag! My Mary Poppins bag! Ha, love that you thought the same! It’s crazy how much fits and that it STILL zips without stretching the material that’s attached to the zipper 🙂 #blessed

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  4. mrsstylechiq wrote:

    Wow, its amazing how much you can fit in that LV GM bag…it’s insane the amount of stuff as I am reading through this post how much you are putting lol.

    I enjoyed this post and it’s great to know what you can fit in there. or at least something similar.

    xoxo

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Yeah, it’s amazing what can fit in the Rebecca Minkoff tote, really. It’s definitely my Mary Poppins bag! xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  5. Alex wrote:

    I love how much thought you put into your travel posts for us! Thank you!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Thanks, Alex! Traveling, especially internationally, can be nerve-wrecking so I’m happy to help in whatever way I can! xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  6. Jennifer wrote:

    This was so helpful! I love being comfy for international travel. I’m currently looking for a new laptop case and I like yours. I also wish I could afford a Never Full bag. It would make traveling so much easier!

    Jennifer
    Effortlessly Sophisticated

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hey Jennifer! I will let you know if I ever see a super large tote like the Neverfull for you guys! xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  7. Janae wrote:

    Hi! Just curious, don’t liquids need to be in one clear bag? I have TSA pre-check so wasn’t sure if I could bypass that rule LOL

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hey Janae, I am just getting back to comments and had a couple other people ask the same so I’ll copy and paste my answer here for ya:

      At the Jacksonville International Airport, you can keep your liquids in whatever pouch you have them in, you just have to place the pouches in a separate bin. I usually go through TSA Precheck, though, so they don’t require me to do that. But, if somehow it doesn’t get put on my ticket, and I go through normal security, that’s what they have had me do in the past. However, when I fly out of London and go through security, I just take a moment before getting in a line to put them all in a baggy. Their airports are great because they give travelers a little area to get organize before getting in a security line so that you’re not rummaging through your bag in line trying to find all of your liquids. So, that’s the jist on that 😉

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  8. Noora wrote:

    So helpful! Love your site/content!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
  9. Jessixa wrote:

    What camera do you use for traveling?

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      I’m excited to cover this in an upcoming blog post! 🙂 xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  10. Jaclyn S. wrote:

    Love this! As a frequent international traveler, this is really helpful. How do you get away with packing all those liquid toiletries in your carry-on? Do you place them in clear plastic bags before putting them in pouches, so you can easily take them out for security? I’ve found that even make up wipes set off the liquid detectors. Thank you!!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hi Jaclyn! I just answered this for someone else so I’ll just copy and paste what I said 🙂

      At the Jacksonville International Airport, you can keep your liquids in whatever pouch you have them in, you just have to place the pouches in a separate bin. I usually go through TSA Precheck, though, so they don’t require me to do that. But, if somehow it doesn’t get put on my ticket, and I go through normal security, that’s what they have had me do in the past. However, when I fly out of London and go through security, I just take a moment before getting in a line to put them all in a baggy. Their airports are great because they give travelers a little area to get organize before getting in a security line so that you’re not rummaging through your bag in line trying to find all of your liquids. So, that’s the jist on that 😉

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  11. Nicole wrote:

    This is such a helpful post! I’ll be following some of your trips for my travel this weekend!
    Also, have an amazing time in London!!!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
  12. Lauren wrote:

    Very helpful! My husband and I are taking our first long distance international trip this fall and I’m excited but a little nervous. Thank you for sharing these handy little tips!!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      It is a little nerve-wrecking at first because you don’t know what to expect but, I promise, as long as you prepare ahead of time – as you are by reading my posts! 😉 – and try your best to know a little bit of language in the country you’re heading to … you’ll be just fine. Most big cities abroad have English in all of the signage below the native language! xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  13. Rachel W wrote:

    Yay! So thankful for this! I’m going to Italy in June and this post makes me want to start packing NOW! 😄

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
  14. Jennifer wrote:

    Thanks so much for sharing all that you do for your carry-on! I recently purchased the Power Trip pouch from my local Anthropologie because I saw it and remembered your post and I thought, I NEED this!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      It’s such a fun little find, isn’t it? I love it!

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  15. Lindsay P wrote:

    Thank you for sharing all of this with us! Quick question, the little cloud coin purse isn’t on sale any longer at Anthropologie. Is there something similar you’d suggest? Not urgent, just wondering. Hope you have a wonderful time and safe travels!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
  16. Polly wrote:

    You said when flying the red eye, internationally over night that you “get changed”- what do you usually change into?? Do you keep the change of clothes in a roll behind carry on, or in the never full as well?

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      To conserve a little bit of space in my luggage, I’ll wear a pair of jeans I wanted to bring on my trip with me TO the airport with a basic tee or something. Then, I’ll change into leggings or a pair of sweatpants, a sleep shirt [like an old college shirt or something that I was going to pack anyway] and a sweatshirt. I almost always travel in a sportsbra and I always bring an extra pair of underwear because … I mean, you just don’t know what your flight or travel experience is ever going to be like. There are always so many things out of your control. So, that’s what I typically do!

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  17. Jessica wrote:

    I am flying to Italy in two weeks and this post was super helpful. Thank you so much for all you do! Your website is so beautiful and you can tell how much effort you put into it.

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      You’re very welcome! Happy to help! xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  18. Bethany wrote:

    This is fantastic! I’m currently looking into my first international flight for next year!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Yayy! I’m so happy to hear you’re going to travel internationally! You’re going to love it! xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  19. Jessica wrote:

    How much does that all weigh? I love the organization, and if you have a rolling carry-on, you can always rest the tote on that, just wondering:)
    LOVE your posts!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hey Jessica! I’ve actually never weighed it but it probably weighs about 10 pounds with all the tech stuff. It’s definitely a load but it’s everything I need so I just have to make it work. Typically, I also bring a roller carry-on with me and, as long as that weighs about as much as the tote bag, it’s easy to just roll it all alongside me. 🙂 xo!

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  20. Jordin wrote:

    Love the tips! I notice you don’t use a clear bag for toiletries. Is that because you have pre-check or something where it isn’t necessary? That’s probably my biggest challenge is getting all my liquids in a tiny bag! Do you have any recommendations on that? Thank you!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      At the Jacksonville International Airport, you can keep your liquids in whatever pouch you have them in, you just have to place the pouches in a separate bin. I usually go through TSA Precheck, though, so they don’t require me to do that. But, if somehow it doesn’t get put on my ticket, and I go through normal security, that’s what they have had me do in the past. However, when I fly out of London and go through security, I just take a moment before getting in a line to put them all in a baggy. Their airports are great because they give travelers a little area to get organize before getting in a security line so that you’re not rummaging through your bag in line trying to find all of your liquids. So, that’s the jist on that 😉

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  21. Susan wrote:

    I hope you have a wonderful and safe trip!!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
  22. Lori wrote:

    So helpful! I’m leaving for London in June and would like to know what kind of adapter you use for curling irons? I k ow they have to be different from the one used for tech because of voltage but not sure of what to look for. Thanks!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Unfortunately, I’m completely not helpful in this department because I have a curling wand that I bought in London and in Italy during previous trips abroad so I just bring those with me. I’m sorry! Amazon has a really good selection and I’d base my decision on their reviews! xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  23. Amy wrote:

    Having traveled internationally a few times I completely agree with so many things you said! Totes are so great for packing things and with all of the little pouches inside easy to find what you need even if there is little light. I also love the idea of doubling up your totes! I love having my favorite bags with me when traveling and so this a great solution to bringing one more! Thanks for sharing!!!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Thanks, Amy! It’s definitely come in handy in the past! 🙂 xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  24. kim radke wrote:

    Always bring an empty bottle that you can fill once you’ve gone through security! I drink a lot of water when I fly and hate to have to keep asking for more and wasting cups!

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      That’s a great idea! xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  25. Rebecca wrote:

    This so helpful! Just so I make sure I understand, you put everything including the laptop case in the pink bag then put that in the Neverful to take with you?

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Yes! I honestly don’t store anything other than the RM bag in the Neverfull but I’ll use the Neverfull coming home if I need to then I’ll check the roller bag. I get two free bags checked when I purchase my flights through Delta / Virgin with my American Express so that’s just what works best for me! xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  26. Tara Brown wrote:

    Love this!! I do have a question though? I thought all toiletries are supposed to be in the clear quart size bag. How do you handle that when you have everything in separate pouches. I am in Atlanta and feel at Hartsfield they are crazy about that! Love to know! Thanks.

    Published 4.24.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Hey Tara! I’ve already answered this a couple of times in the comments above! If my airport didn’t operate the way I explain above, I would just store them all in a ziplock baggie then organize them into the pouches afterwards. xo.

      Published 4.24.18 ·
  27. chichi wrote:

    i so love how you break down everything! great tips!
    http://www.thestyletune.com

    Published 4.25.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      Thank you! xo.

      Published 4.25.18 ·
  28. This was so helpful as I’m traveling international for the first time in 10 years so I’m sure a lot has changed. I was wondering since you mentioned you sometimes take a rolling carry on if they let you bring 2 so the tote bag and a small rolling suitcase since being bloggers we have so much tech and I kind of need to take 2 but unsure if they would let me. I think I need to invest in a good tote bag like that to fit the world in it!

    Jackie | fashionxfairytale |

    Published 4.25.18 · Reply
  29. Sabiha wrote:

    This is so useful and it’s always handy to get some tips on what to take when you travel x

    http://www.franklyflawless.com

    Published 4.25.18 · Reply
  30. Claire P. wrote:

    Hi Haley,
    What a helpful post…buying that bag now! I’d love to know the details on your shirt; it’s so cute! Do you mind sharing?

    Published 4.25.18 · Reply
  31. alyson wrote:

    Absolutely amazing post — seriously, I full-on notes here and plan to utilize some of this intel. I’m also a huge fan of carrying little pouches; they make my daily life so much easier and I need to do more planning of this with travel.

    Thank you!!

    Alyson
    http://www.themodernsavvy.com

    Published 4.25.18 · Reply
  32. Yasmine wrote:

    Great post! Love the idea of the layered totes.

    Published 4.27.18 · Reply
  33. Christy wrote:

    How much does that bag weigh? Lol. I carry a backpack and complain about that weight.

    Published 4.28.18 · Reply
    • AlysonHaley wrote:

      I’m not sure I never weigh it. I mean, it’s heavy lol … but it’s everything I need so I just make it work! Most people don’t need their laptop or all the tech items, like I do, when they travel so it’ll likely be much more do-able for anyone using this to help them pack 🙂

      Published 4.29.18 ·
  34. Kasey wrote:

    This post is amazing, Haley! I’m thinking of getting the RM bag for my next trip. So cute!!!

    Published 4.29.18 · Reply
  35. April wrote:

    My husband and I have traveled the world and lived abroad. My question is do you worry about carrying luxury brand items on your trips? I leave my engagement and anniversary bands at home and only wear a plain wedding band. I leave my nice purses home and carry a Baggalini travel purse. I don’t take anything that someone would want to steal. I take some stud earrings and a few costume necklaces, but leave my good jewelry at home. I dress well, but nothing with logos on it. I don’t want to make myself more of a target.

    Do you worry about carrying things like the LV Neverfull? The nicest thing I carry is my Longchamp limited edition Le Pliage tote. It’s not as big or as durable as the Neverfull, but I wouldn’t be devastated if it were taken, and it doesn’t seem expensive enough to target.

    I wear leggings, a tunic, cardigan and scarf on the airplane to double as pajamas/outfit so I don’t have to change clothes in the nasty bathrooms. I never check a bag bc the airlines always lose my bags, but if I did, I would take an extra change of clothes/underwear bc one flight this guy spilled his whole orange juice in my lap, we got stranded bc of a big snow storm, and I wore sticky, wet, orange juice clothes for 24 hours. Sitting on that plane for HOURS it never dried because I was sitting in it. It was so gross.

    Published 4.29.18 · Reply

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