Question: The key to thriving on any flight?

Answer: A well-packed carry-on bag.

Whether you've never been on an airplane before and have no idea what to pack or you're a seasoned flyer looking to revamp your must-haves, here are my carry-on essentials to help you thrive on your next ride in the sky. Come along for the ride!



Maybe it's because I'm always hungry, but food is my one of my absolute essentials when flying. I am sensitive to gluten and diary, so bringing my own snacks helps ensure that I get to enjoy a bite to eat with everyone else. Some great food choices for your next flight include fruit (raw or dried), salads, sandwiches, roasted chick peas, veggies with hummus, pretzels (also great with hummus), and dark chocolate covered fruit pieces. The healthier the snack, the better, especially on long flights. Make sure that whatever food you end up bringing on the plane doesn't give off a strong odor (think: hardboiled eggs, seafood, garlic, onions... you get the idea).

Best in-flight meal EVER. I will definitely be writing a blog post about this flight!


Staying hydrated is crucial when flying. The air inside the plane is d-r-y. Make sure you bring either a reusable water bottle to fill before you hop on the plane or buy bottled water duty-free before you board. Pro tip: if you're bringing a reusable water bottle to be environmentally conscious (yay!), remember to keep the change in air pressure in mind as you go to take that first, glorious sip... you'll thank me later when you avoid the in-cabin log flume ride.


My favorite thing to do when I have the window seat is to listen to music, look out the window at the beautiful clouds, and JUST. THINK. There's something about being thousands of feet above the ground that brings me clarity... is that just me? Anyways, I always make sure to update my music library on my phone before a trip, as well as download any playlists off Spotify that I'm loving. I’m always looking for song recommendations, so if there’s a song you want to share, post it in the comments below!

Would you want to take a peak at my Spotify playlist for flights in a future blog post? Let me know if you would come along for the ride!


I am a sucker for a good book. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in English, so it’s no surprise that I enjoy getting lost between pages. My reading material changes depending on how long my flight is, but as of late, I’ve enjoyed taking the magical world of Harry Potter with me wherever I go. Thriftbooks is the first place I look when I need new reading material, as well as my local Dollar Store. Both have great deals on books!

Would you want some book recommendations for flights in a future blog post? Let me know if you would come along for the ride!

Why yes, this is the Bloomsbury 20th Anniversary Hufflepuff Edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. ;)

C O N T A C T S / G L A S S E S

I am a contact lens wearer and prefer them over my glasses. However, I always wear my glasses to fly to give myself the freedom to fall asleep without having to worry about my contacts. Before the plane lands, I then put my contacts in so that I am more comfortable getting off of the plane. It’s a lifesaver! 10 out of 10 would recommend doing this.

M E D I C A T I O N / P A I N K I L L E R

I have a chronic illness that causes me a lot of pain. To ensure I’m comfortable during the duration of my flight, I take naproxen before I board the plane and bring some with me in my carry-on, along with Advil, just in case.

P E N / P E N C I L

I can’t tell you how often this has come in handy. Especially on international flights, having a writing utensil handy is a necessity for me. It gives you your own writing utensil to use when filling out Customs paperwork, as well as the opportunity to annotate your books to your heart’s content! (Bonus points if you bring a highlighter, too. 😌)


I don't care what season it is or how warm my destination will be when I land, I always pack a sweatshirt in my carry-on. If I'm going somewhere warm, I pack a thin one. If I'm going somewhere cold, I'll bring a thicker one. The reason? To me, it is always cold on an airplane at some point during the flight. I hate being cold and bring a sweatshirt with me so I can avoid it. The sweatshirt can also double as a blanket for your legs or even a makeshift pillow if you're taking an overnight flight and anticipate some sleeping to occur.

Quarter zips > all other sweatshirts. (I don't make the rules.)


I'm not mentioning this because of COVID-19 (although I'm sure a lot more people will bring hand sanitizer on a plane because of it) as it is always a necessity for me. Before I get on or off of a plane, I sanitize my hands. I don't want to bring outside germs in and I certainly don't want to bring the plane germs out. My Bath and Body Works hand sanitizer obsession from middle school really comes in handy on flights!


If you're flying domestically, you'll need to bring an acceptable form of identification to use to fly. Most states' driver's licenses fulfill the requirements of such identification. If you're flying internationally, you absolutely need a passport. Make sure you have the proper identification with you for your flight! I may or may not have lost my passport once and it may or may not have been one of the most stressful times of my life. Double, triple, QUADRUPLE check that you HAVE. YOUR. IDENTIFICATION.

E L E C T R O N I C S / A C C E S S O R I E S

Phone? Check. Earbuds? Check. Laptop? Check. Camera? Check. Chargers for everything? Check. Outlet adapter (for international trips)? Check. I keep everything of the sort in my carry-on. I keep all of my chargers in one bag to make my time through TSA that much smoother.


W H A T K I N D O F B A G D O I U S E ?

My favorite bag to use as a carry-on is my FILA backpack. It is affordable, fits my laptop, and has comfortable, adjustable straps that make getting on and off the plane a breeze. It's big enough to fit everything I need and easily fits underneath the seat in front of me. There are mesh pockets on the sides that can fit water bottles, as well. With the plethora of pockets, there's a place for everything and everything has its place. (Good news: it's currently on sale for $35 and is eligible for cash back with Rakuten!)

If you're not a backpack person, a weekender bag could be a great option for you. This type of bag might not fit under the seat in front of you, but it can fit so much stuff!

Pro tip: only traveling for a weekend? You can avoid luggage fees and bring everything you need by packing your belongings in weekender bags! This was how I avoided paying for luggage when I took weekend trips around Europe. I was even able to pack for a week in Portugal in a weekender bag! Just make sure the liquids you pack are 3 oz or less to adhere to TSA requirements. Make sure you check out my last blog post for more money-saving travel hacks!


I hope my carry-on essentials list helps you pack your carry-on for your next trip! Thanks for coming along for the ride. x

FTC: This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. However, signing up for Rakuten through my referral link will provide both of us with $30 just for having you join (hello, travel funds). I've personally been using Rakuten for years and it is well worth it to join! It is great to have during the holiday shopping season especially. I've used it when purchasing plane tickets, as well, and it has helped me save $127.69 as of 7 July, 2020.

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