What’s in My Carry-On Travel Bag

Last updated April 16, 2024

Travel times have changed, and so have my carry-on travel bag items. However, what worked before takes a bit of an adjustment and a change in overall habits. Changing a habit, in turn, takes a bit of strategic planning and effort. 

I’m opening up my carry-on travel bag that I’ve perfected over the past year traveling through the pandemic as a wellness leader and frequent traveler.

Ten Items Always in My Carry-On Travel Bag

Here are my top picks for gear to pack when flying in today’s travel times. 

1. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Tune out to tune in. Do I even need to go into much detail here? Between a talking neighbor, barking puppy, unhappy child or chatter of a wannabe singer (I do a lot of Miami to Los Angeles flights, for reference), I cannot live without noise cancellation in my headphones or air pods. 

Pro tip: if you want to plug your headphones into the back of the headrest display for inflight entertainment—if your flight has it—you’ll want to ensure you have the male adapter or plug to insert into the device. No Bluetooth on those (yet).

2. Playlist Downloaded

Music moves the heart and changes emotions. Create a playlist that puts you into your best, unstoppable mood, and download it to your phone prior to take-off. I usually do this with a full “swagger” playlist that I loop whenever I need a mental boost to be productive, energized or focused. 

Just be sure to download it first; even if you do snag the Wi-Fi in-flight, it will take you the entire flight just to download a few songs. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but it’s SLOW!

3. External Battery Pack

Literally a battery and in-flight work savior. I would guesstimate that 90% of the time, the charger or outlet on the plane with American Airlines doesn’t work or properly charge my laptop or iPad. Or, any device with a USB-C or thunderbolt. Fair enough, both devices pull far more power than a phone or other smaller device. 

A beefy battery pack may be extra weight to carry; but it allows me to keep working or streaming without interruption of a dead battery during the flight. 

4. Pen

Weird? Maybe. A game-changer? Definitely. When you need a pen for any forms or customs papers, spare yourself the germs (no matter what’s in season), forgo borrowing and BYOP.

5. Something to Read Digitally

I’m a big reader and don’t always have time to read PDFs that I find online about cryptocurrency, purchased eBooks on building a digital business, the latest travel trends or scripts that I’m studying.

A flight where I can be limited to work, emails or other notifications that I would typically get being at home is the perfect place to zone in and get some black and white text time. 

I’m suggesting digital so that you can keep it all in one place, have options and lose the weight of books or multiple magazines. 

6. Water Bottle (Filled) Post TSA

Yes, yes, yes, bring a water bottle with you and save a plastic tree. True. But, how many times have you lugged the thing with you and then forgot to fill it after TSA? Yep, I’m guilty of that, too. 

Make it a habit by setting a reminder on your phone to go off to fill the bottle prior to boarding. Many airports now will have refillable water bottle stations that you can access throughout the airports so it is ensured to be clean and costs zero.

7. Skincare

Your skin gets destroyed in airplane travel. At best, the air humidity on a plane is around 10%, compared to the norm of where you’re living. In Miami, that’s almost 70% less than its typical 80’ish percentile. Yikes!

One of my new favorite must-haves is the Refresh and Revive Mist from the travel-specific skincare line, 35Thousand. Sprays on with ease, no hands involved, smells fresh and absorbs in seconds onto your skin. 

8. Extra Masks & Sanitizing Wipes

Extra, extra, read all about it! Pack extra masks and wipes. You can’t go wrong by having extra. But, you can go wrong if you don’t have one on. Most airlines now require you to have a real mask (not bandana or cloth), and it can be easy for one of those to get soiled or fly off. 

Wipes are always good to have on hand (ha, no pun intended). I’ve experienced 50/50 that the airlines will give these out when boarding, so I’ll have a few extra in both my carry-on suitcase and my personal bag.

9. Layer/Blanket/Scarf

Style meets function when you find yourself a heavy-duty or chunky scarf that you can cover your face with while others are boarding (germ prevention tip) and cover your body up in-flight when they crank the A.C. and prevent catching a chill. Just, do yourself a favor and wash between flights. 

10. Snacks (Nuts, Seeds, Bar, Fruit)

From flights, to set, to events: there’s no place I go without snacks. Wellness options have been merging into mainstream adoption over the past few years. Finding real “health” choices are still sparse and rare, though. 

Raw or sprouted nuts and seeds, pre-cut fruit, or peel-able fruit, are my favorites. Nutrition bars or almond butter packs are a good long-haul protein boost as well. 

Most recommended by travel experts, myself included? Fast. Your digestion is actually much different in the airplane pressure than when you’re on land. 

That’s what’s in my carry-on travel bag. Now, what’s in yours? What’s something you cannot travel without that you always pack in your carry-on?

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