The Essential Carry-On Luggage Packing List

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We will often book a city break over a long weekend and won’t bother including hold luggage in our allowance, mainly because it’s quicker. Once you arrive at the airport it’s easier to jump off the plane and start exploring rather than waste valuable time waiting at baggage reclaim.

However, that in turn leaves you with a lot less space to pack.

So with limited packing space, wherever we go, we make sure to pack these essential items for our trip.

Tote Bag/Lightweight Backpack

Having a bag to carry around the day to day items is a must.

Now this can be as simple as a canvas tote bag or a lightweight backpack.

We love a tote bag as takes up little to no space inside your carry on luggage but is one of the handiest items to have when going sightseeing.

Especially useful as some budget airlines don’t allow the luxury of taking on a handbag along with hand luggage.



Although many phones have fantastic quality cameras on them, I much rather taking a dedicated camera on my trip with me.

We have recently picked up the Sony A7ii which is a mirrorless camera and slightly smaller than our previous full sized DSLR and in truth, it weighed us down more than we had wanted.

We’re always looking for ways to save on space and weight when it comes to our carry on luggage allowance, so reducing our camera body size was a no brainer.


Lip Balm

It may seem a silly one but after flying and having to deal with the lack of moisture on the flight, my lips always end up cracked and sore, so I quickly learned that having a lip balm is a must.

Keeping your lips and yourself hydrated will help stop this from happening and I think it’s maybe one of the most important things that I pack now.


Hand Sanitiser

I’m no Niles Crane but with so many people in such a confined place for extended periods, it’s no wonder that planes are a hot bed for bacteria and virus’ to spread.

Taking hand sanitiser helps to keep your hands clean after touching the surfaces on the plane and gives you that extra level of cleanliness after using the toilet facilities.

Nobody wants a trip abroad ruined by catching a cold or worse.



Hand luggage restrictions on liquids can be a proper pain in the backside, especially when trying to make sure that you’re not over the 100ml allowance on each container. That’s why a quick trip to your local drugstore is a must to top up on the travel sized toiletries.

You could chance it and give them a miss in the hope that your hotel will offer complimentary kits, but it’s always worth just taking your own.

Although this is not a necessity as you can probably pick up the stuff that you would need in any local supermarkets in the destination that you’re visiting.



One thing I really cannot live without when travelling is headphones. I recently picked up a pair of the apple airpods and absolutely love them.

Listening to music or audiobooks keeps me entertained during the flight and helps the time pass.

Obviously if you’re travelling in a pair, then it’s worth making sure that the other person is ok with you popping in your headphones and shutting them out for a few hours. Lauren prefers to take a book.



Now this may be quite specific to bloggers but I like to take a notepad with me whenever I’m travelling.

Mainly to jot down notes or reminders about places that we’ve visited that we want to write about in future blog posts.

Little things that photos may not pick up, the atmosphere, sounds, smells, etc.

It’s something that I have only recently started to do, but it’s something that I wish I had always packed with me.


Portable Power Bank

Another major must have for any trip abroad these days, is a portable power bank.

I bought mine during my Pokemon Go phase to keep my phone charged up during the day. Now that my Pokemon master days are behind me, this is still a very welcome addition to our travel kit.

Battery life on mobile phones can be pretty poor and having this portable charger with me allows me to use my phone for directions, photos or even travel tips without the fear of running out of power.

Just make sure that you’ve fully charged the portable charger before heading out.

I’m currently using the Anker Astro which gives me plenty of charge to keep me going through my day.


Emergency Cash

I’m very against carrying cash these days. Almost everything I buy I pay for by card and when going abroad it’s usually the same.

Although, I do like to take a small amount of emergency currency for any situations where card machines are broken or they only accept cash.

Usually about £100 worth of currency will do us with the rest loaded on to our travel card.


Travel Card

Since I don’t carry cash too often, I load up our prepaid Monzo card which lets me keep track of all our spending when abroad.

The great thing about this card is that it will let you pay for things in your currency and then automatically convert it to the local currency when paying for something.

This lets you avoid paying extortionate exchange fees and the Monzo card also lets you withdraw a maximum of £200 from a foreign ATM every 30 days without charging you bank fees. We would never need to withdraw anything more than that, but if you did, Monzo would then add a 3% charge on any money that you take out.

You also get realtime alerts whenever you’ve spent any money on your card, so can quickly see how much you paid without having to work out the conversions yourself.



Don’t forget to pack your passport.

Probably the most important of all the travel documents we pack in our carry on. Without it, you won’t get too far. It seems obvious, but I know incredibly organised people who have made this mistake.

Double check you’ve grabbed it before leaving to save any heartbreak and keep it in a safe place when you arrive at your destination.


Spare Copies Of Documents

I’m a bit of an OTT prepper in the way that I’ll pack six pairs of underwear for a three day trip, ‘just in case’.

So I always keep spare copies of all our travel documents for the trip. From flight bookings, hotel reservations and any transfers to and from the airport.

I will usually print out at least two spare copies and keep them in separate places should anything happen to one copy.

It’s always better to be safe and not completely rely on your phone for all your travel documents. Physical copies are still my go to.


That just about covers everything that we would recommend including in your carry on luggage, beyond your clothing of course.

Did you pick up any tips from this, or are there things that you would include that we’ve missed or should be taking? Let us know in the comments below.

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