The Ultimate Carry-On Checklist

It’s always a challenge with carry-on luggage. Where is the happy place between not enough and too much? I’m not someone who can travel with only a handbag. I need that perfect amount to make me comfortable on-board a long haul flight, but not too much to carry around the airport while in transit.

This is what I usually carry on a long haul flight:

In my handbag:

  • Passport and travel documents
  • Wallet including credit cards, cash currency card and cash for the country I am visiting
  • An empty drink bottle. Nothing irritates me more than paying a ridiculous price for a bottle of water in the departure lounge. Due to the liquid restrictions on International flights you are unable to take a bottle of water through security. You can always find free drinking water near the restrooms of an airport, which is handy to fill up your bottle before the flight. Depending on what trip I am taking will determine if I take a plastic bottle which I can recycle or a reusable bottle which I can use throughout the trip
  • Tissues – if you’re like me and get the sniffles on a long flight
  • Phone / iPad loaded with some new music and a couple of podcasts
  • A spare pen, since you can never seem to locate one to fill in your arrival card


I opt for a backpack to save my arms carrying around an overnight bag by its handles. When you have your main suitcase, it is easy enough to sit the backpack atop the suitcase and wheel them together. The usual backpack I take is 18L and has two main pockets.

  • Sandwich sized ziplock bag with liquids. Included is spray deodorant, small tub of face moisteriser, hand sanitizer and hand cream (all are mini sized and comply with airline policy of under 100ml each, and no more than 1L total) **This is always at the top of my bag for easy removal at security screening
  • Medications kept in a ziplock bag. I’ll keep headache tablets, travel calm tablets and my asthma inhaler as a minimum. Depending on the country I am visiting will determine if I take anything else such as prescribed medication (e.g. malaria tablets), water purification tablets or anti-diarrhea meds
  • A change of clothes rolled together into a mesh travel storage cell for easy storage. This will usually include a t-shirt, underwear and socks. The outer-layer is generally fine, but spare essentials can be very handy. Trust me – I once missed a connection in Dallas Fort Worth and was stranded in the airport for 20 hours with no access to my luggage. Being able to use the “Minute Hotel”; shower and change critical pieces of clothing before boarding a 17 hour flight was invaluable.
  • Camera and spare equipment in a padded storage cell
  • Another mesh storage cell that includes all electronic leads and adaptors. This will include cables, power adaptors, chargers; basically any electronic leads. I love how they are easy to organize and store in the cell.
  • Noise cancelling headphones are in a league of their own. With superior sound quality they make the inflight entertainment more enjoyable and will also assist with blocking out the crying of the small child two rows in front of you.
  • Emergency snacks just incase your luck runs out with the inflight service; which will usually include a chocolate bar, a half-size packet of Pringles and a bag of my favourite lollies… healthy huh? Buy these before you get to the airport to save you lots of $$$
  • A book, magazine or puzzle book.. I won’t usually take all three, but depending on my most recent interests will help me choose which to take. I always start off with the best intentions to read on my trips, but I usually just end up carrying around a new book (I’ll be lucky if I’ve read the first chapter), and the cover will slowly get bumped and bruised on the corners as it is transferred from my backpack to my suitcase and back again!


These are my essentials that I will always carry with me. What do you carry with you that you can’t fly without?


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