The Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide

/The Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide

The Ultimate Carry-On Packing Guide

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Travelling isn’t just for the long-run. You may just want a weekend abroad to relax and rejuvenate, therefore you won’t need to check-in baggage, instead you can use carry-on luggage. In addition, the prices of checking in baggage these days on some airlines will cost more than the ticket itself!

Taking only carry-on luggage is great if you don’t want to wait in long queues. Because not only do you not have to check you bag in, when you get off the plane you don’t have to wait for your baggage to arrive on the carousel too. So taking carry-on luggage can save both time and money when travelling abroad.

Our Favourite Carry-On Suitcase


IT Luggage

Buy the worlds lightest carry-on case through

We use the IT carry-on suitcase whenever we travel for a long-weekend or need a large carry-on bag as well as a suitcase when we are travelling, if we are not taking a backpack. We love this carry-on due to several reasons:

  • It comes with a 10 year warranty – If it breaks or gets damaged within that time they will replace it for free!
  • It is the worlds lightest carry-on baggage – who wouldn’t want that?!
  • Its dimensions are the maximum carry-on limit for all airlines – 55cm x 40cm x 20cm including handle and wheels.
  • It has a 39 litre capacity – this is the most space you’ll be avaliable to get for carry-on baggage.
  • It has a wide handle – easy to stow around the airport with a comfy handle.
  • 3 external pockets – great for keeping your passport, phone and other devices you want to use regularly.
  • Made of high density polyester – which is strong and durable

Carry-On Only Packing List

If you’re only taking a carry-on for your travels, most likely this will be for a long weekend or a maximum of a week. If you’re taking a backpack read: Emma’s Packing List and Yannick’s Packing List for more information. Here is a list of the things we would recommend packing if you’re going to a fairly warm destination:

  • 3/4 light tops.
  • 2 pairs of shorts.
  • 1 pair of jeans (although you can wear these on the plane to save up space).
  • 1 pair of lightweight trousers.
  • 1 jacket (can wear this on the plane).
  • 1 dress (girls only, unless you like that kind of thing 😉 ).
  • 1 pair of flip flops.
  • 1 pair of trainers/walking shoes (you can wear these on the plane).
  • 2-6 pair of underwear depending on the duration.
  • 2-4 pairs of socks depending on the duration.
  • 2 bras (you will be wearing one if you’re a girl).
  • 1 bikini/trunks.
  • 1 pair of PJs.
  • Sunglasses (you can wear on your head).
  • Liquid Toiletaries maximum 100ml, make sure to keep them together in a see-through plastic bag. (click here for an in-depth toiletaries list).
  • Electronics – Phone, iPad, Kindle, headphones, camera etc. can be placed in a small purse or in the pockets of your carry-on bag.
  • Passport/Identification
  • Credit cards/cash
  • Travel Insurance
  • Medications.

Having said this, it does sound like a lot. But with the help of packing cubes it will free up a whole lot more space in your bag, you’ll be surprised. If you roll everything and stack it side-by-side in a packing cube, it will create space and keep everything organised. Including different cubes for dirty and clean clothes.

Carry-On Packing List with a check-in bag included

Depending on your trip, you may require a carry-on suitcase or you may only need a large purse. Here are our recommendations on what to pack for carry-on bags:

  • Jacket/Sweater – even if you are travelling to a hot country, it’s always good to have a jacket on the plane, as during the flight it can get really cold. They are also fairly good pillows too if you want to get some shut eye.
  • Compression socks – If you’re on a long-haul flight having these will prevent deep vein thrombosis (DVT). It is a condition dubbed “economy-class syndrome” which causes blog clots following long-haul air travel in cramped conditions.
  • Shoes – most likely you will wear your heaviest/bulkiest shows on the plane therefore its good to have a spare foldable pair of shoes to put on whilst mid-flight.
  • Ear plugs – they take up zero space and are useful during your travels too. Especially in noisy dorms, trains and planes.
  • Moisturiser – At 38,000 feet, the air inside the plane is very dry which can make you’re lips and skin very dry, so make sure to pack some in your carry-on but make sure it’s under 100ml.
  • Hand Sanitiser – Planes are not exactly the cleanest of places. They are known to be full of bacteria. You don’t want to be getting ill just before your travels.
  • Deodorant – If you’re travelling for long period of time, please do everyone a favour and reapply during the flight 🙂 love everyone.
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste – No one wants smelly breath, so it’s a good idea to pack when flying.
  • Spare pair – It never hurts to pack a spare pair of underwear and an extra top on long-travel days.
  • iPad or similar – long haul flights are LONG…so passing the time by watching a movie or listening to music can really pass the time.
  • Phone – If you are traveling out of the country, be sure to turn off your cellular data to avoid roaming fees. Smartphones also offer the same features of a tablet with plenty of games, books and apps to make time go by faster.
  • Headphones – an investment in good headphones is a wise idea for frequent travellers.
  • Electronic chargers – quite a few airlines these days have USB ports and plugs on the plane so you can charge your devices.
  • Passport/Identification
  • Credit cards/cash
  • Travel insurance
  • Valuables – Never pack expensive items in your checked baggage or you may never see them again.
  • Medication

Secret Travel Hack:

To avoid buying an expensive alcoholic drink onboard (if your airline doesn’t offer it for free),  it’s perfectly okay to pack mini alcohol bottles in your carry-on (make sure they are under 100ml). It will still need to fit in your liquids plastic bag, so make sure you have enough space for your other important liquids before adding this additional luxury.

We hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any further questions feel free to comment below, and we will be happy to help you!

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Ultimate Carry-on packing guide

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By | 2017-01-11T09:19:25+00:00 November 12th, 2016|What should you pack?|36 Comments

About the Author:

Hey there I'm Emma! A luxury and adventure travel blogger. I've currently travelled to 53 countries with no plans to stop! I hope I can inspire you to travel the world with my travel guides, travel and blogging tips, as I believe travel is for everyone. So come and travel well for less with me!


  1. Mike 11/18/2016 at 2:52 pm - Reply

    This is a great list! I always wear my heaviest shoes & pants to save weight/space just like you said.I really should take your advice and get travel insurance next time though. Great tip on the alcohol bottles!

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Mike!

      Thanks so much! It really helps lighten up your luggage when you wear bulky clothes and shoes instead of packing! Travel insurance is so important! So yes we would highly advise you to get it too! 🙂

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  2. Davide 11/18/2016 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Helpful and important post about packing light before taking a flight… It will be important for me in a couple of months when I will have 3 weeks free to travel somewhere, I just miss it.. :-p
    ???????? Thanks for sharing it, follow me around the world on

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:46 pm - Reply

      Hi Davide!

      Thanks for your kind comment! That’s great, I hope we have helped you decide what to pack in your carry-on luggage! Love your blog too!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  3. Nika - 11/18/2016 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    great tips, Emma! I also always carry a scarf with me on-board and I use it as a pillow or cover when I am freezing 🙂

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      Hey Nika!

      Thanks! That is great advice, it is small and great if you are visiting cold countries anyway!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  4. Gareth 11/18/2016 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    Some really important tips here Emma as, I must admit, I’m more a cram as much as possible in type travelers. The carry-on luggage advice in particular was really useful and will definitely come in handy when I take my next weekender. Haven never heard of the IT carry-on suitcase but it certainly looks worth considering. Really great advice

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:42 pm - Reply

      Hey Gareth!

      Thanks for your kind comment. Yes, our guide is perfect for those wanting to escape for a weekend somewhere, so glad it has helped you. 🙂 We LOVE the IT carry-on it’s reliable, lightweight and easy to carry!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  5. Punita 11/18/2016 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    I’m scratching my head to think of something, anything to add.. but drawing a blank. Great list. I’m guessing you never leave anything behind.

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Punita!

      Thanks! Over experience we have comprised this list, if you think of anything we would love to know! Haha rarely now, however before we made this list it was a common occurrence that we would leave chargers behind!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  6. Luca 11/19/2016 at 2:25 am - Reply

    I’ve never thought about bringing compression socks while on the plane, but on long flights usually bring with my hand baggage some slippers, so I can wear off the shoes and be more comfortable with them. And I can avoid going to the toilet with socks only, as I saw some people doing! Gross!! 😀

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      Hi Luca!

      Compression socks are essential if you suffer from DVT, like me (Emma!). That is a great tip, slippers would be so comfy!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  7. Wanderlust Vegans 11/19/2016 at 2:31 am - Reply

    Great list! Its all about being light weight. We use our backpacks from school and tend to wear clothes twice or three times. We’ve been able to do 17 days in a backpack. We haven’t tried longer with just a carry on yet!

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Wanderlust Vegans!

      Exactly, if you are on the move a lot you will be so thankful for packing light! That is great, I love that tip thanks for sharing!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  8. Christina 11/19/2016 at 10:18 am - Reply

    WHAT?!?!?! You can pack your own mini alcohol bottles?!?!? My mind is blown. Great post, but your secret of alcohol is the best tip ever!

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Christina!

      Haha yes you can! How awesome is that! Shhh our little secret tip 😉 Thanks!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  9. Ticking the Bucketlist 11/19/2016 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Such a useful post! I am off on a long flight to Brazil later this month and this is going to come in handy… will remember the moisturiser !

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:31 pm - Reply

      Hey Ticking the Bucketlist!

      That’s great, so pleased we could help! Have a safe flight to Brazil!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  10. Gypsycouple 11/19/2016 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Great list. We always like to collect these lists because every once in a while we come across a great article which makes us go aah! We never thought of including this in our packing list. Thanks for sharing, the moisturizer will surely be helpful 🙂

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Gypsycouple!

      Thanks! Really glad we have helped you in deciding what to pack on your next adventure!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  11. Vyjay 11/19/2016 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    Really useful and practical tips all. For us usually, the dilemma is what to take on and what to leave behind. We always seem to try to balance between necessity and luxury.

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:25 pm - Reply

      Hi Vyjay!

      Thanks! Yes it is really hard to choose, as you always say to yourself ‘what if’ but you have to be bold and realistic when packing, as over packing can cause a nightmare if you are moving around a lot.

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  12. Lara Dunning 11/20/2016 at 10:06 am - Reply

    I really like that the suitcase has outside pockets! So useful! Great packing list. I used to be a good packer, but it seems like the older I get the more I want to pack for “just in case.” I need to print off your list and tape it to the inside of my suitcase so I don’t go overboard.

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:23 pm - Reply

      Hey Lara!

      It’s such a handy carry-on suitcase, we would highly recommend it! That’s a really great idea!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  13. Olena Kagui 11/20/2016 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Great list 🙂 I especially approve of “Deodorant – If you’re travelling for long period of time, please do everyone a favour and reapply during the flight ???? love everyone.” I always do this but other people aren’t as nice 😛 Is it weird to offer other people on the plane spray-on deodorant? xD Thanks for the suitcase tip. I still need to find an ideal carry-on and this one looks perfet!

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:18 pm - Reply

      Hey Olena!

      Thanks! Yes Deodorant is a must especially on long haul flights! Haha if they really smell, why not?!? 😛
      No worries, it really is a great carry-on suitcase, still going strong after a good 5 years of on going travel!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  14. Sudipto 11/20/2016 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    That’s a really comprehensive list. Thank you for the alcohol tip. Can we have a small backpack instead of a stroller??

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:15 pm - Reply

      Hey Sudipto!

      Thanks! No worries we think it’s an awesome trick to have. Of course, we prefer carry-on suitcases when we are only going for a short trip abroad and staying in hotels. However we always use backpacks when we are travelling for an extended period of time or staying in hostels. We would recommend the Osprey Farpoint for a great carry-on backpack!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  15. Sarah - Exploring Kiwis 11/21/2016 at 11:07 pm - Reply

    We are avid carry-on travellers too – there’s nothing like getting off the other end and not having to worry about waiting on your bags. We tend to carry packs rather than a suitcase though – what do you find the advantage of the traditional case to be?

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 7:12 pm - Reply

      Hey Sarah!

      Exactly, it really does put your mind at rest knowing you won’t loose or damage your bag as it is with you at all times! Backpacks are great, we love the carry on Osprey Farpoint as a backpack when we actually do go backpacking, but for when we are only doing a short trip abroad or staying in hotels we prefer to taking a suitcase that is light, easy to tow and won’t break easily! Hope this helps 🙂

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  16. Jitaditya 11/23/2016 at 6:54 am - Reply

    I generally take the camera and whatever I can see just before leaving. But I apprecate the knd of sorted approach. Probably I should do it too. Last time I forgot my nailcutter and that caused problems.

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      Hey Jitaditya!

      It is always great to have a guide, as it’s so common to forget the most important things! We would suggest making a packing list for when you go travelling it really saves times too!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  17. Jure 11/23/2016 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    I have to say that during my first travels I ever made, I was extremely organized – putting together a list and all that. Nowadays I never do that anymore and always end up forgeting something.

    However usually it’s not exactly a big deal.

    Great post for all those that are embarking on their first trips!

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 6:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Jure!

      Yes that is so common, we used to do that too, but sticking to our guide we now make sure that we don’t forget any of the important items 🙂

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

  18. Kristina 11/24/2016 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    This is a really great list for carry-ons. I’m surprised at how many people don’t remember to pack deodorant or a toothbrush, especially for long haul travel. They’re two simple little things, but make a WORLD of difference after being cooped up for hours on end.

    • Luxurybackpacking 11/28/2016 at 3:48 pm - Reply

      Hey Kristina!

      Thanks for your comment, I know you think of them both as such simple necessities to take, but you will be surprised how many people forget to pack them in their carry-on!

      Happy Travels!
      Emma & Yannick

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