Travel Essentials

What to Pack in Carry-on for International Flight

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Hello, fellow Wanderluster! Have you ever found yourself tens of thousands of feet in the air and realized you forgot something essential at home? It’s a common predicament, and we’ve all been there.

To help you avoid this travel misstep, We’ve compiled a handy guide containing all the travel essentials you’ll need for your next international flight. This list is your ticket to a smooth and stress-free journey, ensuring you’re prepared for almost anything coming your way.

So buckle up, and let’s pack your carry-on with all the essentials! Let’s make your next international adventure the best one yet.

Carry-on Packing List

  • Passport and Visa
  • Boarding Pass and Travel Itinerary
  • Money and Cards
  • Comfort Items
  • Snacks and Water Bottle
  • Entertainment
  • Toiletries
  • Medications
  • Extra Clothes
  • Electronic Devices and Chargers

Passport and Visa

Your passport is the single most important item you need when traveling internationally, as it’s your ticket to enter a foreign country. Check if you need any visas or permits in advance and ensure all your passport information is up-to-date.

Protecting your passport with a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) holder is also good. This will prevent any unauthorized access to the information stored inside it.

Why Use an RFID Holder?

You might wonder why an RFID holder is recommended for your passport. Well, it’s all about security. RFID chips are embedded in many modern passports and credit cards. They store your personal information digitally, which, while convenient, also makes them a target for digital thieves. These tech-savvy criminals use RFID readers to steal data without even touching your belongings.

An RFID holder, also known as an RFID-blocking wallet or case, shields your passport and cards from these readers. It’s made from a material that blocks the electromagnetic fields that RFID readers use to access information.

Money and Cards

Carrying a blend of local currency and cards is a savvy way to manage your finances while traveling. Having some local currency on hand can be useful for small-scale transactions like tipping or paying for public transport, especially in places where card usage isn’t as common.

However, there will likely be situations where you’ll need to use a card. Consider carrying a credit card that offers travel rewards and doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for larger purchases and for the added protection against theft and fraud that credit cards provide.

Always remember to inform your bank of your travel plans to avoid any unexpected card blocks.

Additionally, it’s ideal to have a debit card handy. This allows you to withdraw cash from ATMs in your destination country, typically offering a better exchange rate than currency exchange counters. Some banks have partnerships with banks in other countries, allowing you to withdraw money without incurring fees. Check with your bank before departure to see if they have any international partner banks in your destination.

Remember, no matter how you choose to carry your money, always keep it secure and well-dispersed. We recommend carrying small bills in your pocket to avoid pickpocketers.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card is a top-notch option for frequent travelers, providing high value for a reasonable $95 annual fee. Designed with the Wanderlust in mind, the card has many travel-centric features and benefits.

One of the standout perks is the sizable 60,000 bonus points you’ll earn when you sign up today and spend $4,000 within the first three months. These points can be redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards for an impressive $750 toward travel.

This means you could cover a significant portion of your next adventure using just your bonus points! When you factor in the other advantages of the card — like no foreign transaction fees and 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide — it’s clear that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card is an exceptional choice for anyone looking to maximize their travel rewards.

Boarding Pass and Travel Itinerary

Today, paper boarding passes are fast becoming a thing of the past. Many airlines now offer mobile boarding passes, allowing you to check in and navigate security and boarding procedures all from your mobile device. Services like the Apple iPhone Wallet app make storing and accessing your mobile boarding pass easy, with no paper required.

But while going digital may be convenient, having a backup plan is always wise. Internet connectivity can sometimes be unreliable or unavailable, especially when you’re on the move in unfamiliar places. That’s why we recommend printing out your travel itinerary and organizing it in a folder. This way, you have a tangible reference point for all your travel plans, including your flight details, accommodation bookings, and any tours or activities you’ve planned.

An organized folder with your printed travel itinerary is also helpful in the unlikely event of a discrepancy or misunderstanding with your bookings. Having a hard copy of your booking confirmations can expedite the resolution process and ensure your travel plans remain on track.

Comfort Items

Long-haul flights can be a challenge, but with the right comfort items on hand, you can make your journey a lot more relaxing and enjoyable. Here’s our list of comfort essentials that should definitely have a spot in your carry-on:

  • Eye Mask: An absolute must-have for quality sleep. An eye mask will help block out the light, ensuring you can catch some rest even when cabin lights are on or windows are open.
  • Travel Pillow: Maintain good neck support while sleeping with a comfortable travel pillow. There are various types on the market, from inflatable options for easy packing to memory foam ones for extra comfort.
  • Comfortable Socks and Clothes: Choose loose, breathable clothing for your flight. Consider wearing layers that can be added or removed to adjust to temperature changes. Don’t forget cozy socks or even compression socks, which can help to prevent swelling and discomfort in your feet and legs.
  • Travel Blanket: While airlines often provide blankets, having your own travel blanket ensures you’re comfortable and warm. Opt for a lightweight, compact version that won’t take up too much space in your carry-on.
  • Lightweight Jacket: Airplane cabins can get chilly. A lightweight jacket can be easily rolled up and stowed away when not in use but will be a lifesaver when you need to stay warm.
  • Ear Plugs: Block out distracting noises with a pair of ear plugs. These are also great if you’re seated next to a particularly noisy passenger.

Remember, comfort is key when traveling, especially during long flights. Ensuring you have these comfort items in your carry-on can significantly improve your long-haul flight.

Snacks and Reusable Water Bottle

It’s no secret that hunger can strike anytime while traveling, especially on long-haul flights. This is where packing your own snacks comes in handy. It can save you a substantial amount in airport and in-flight prices and ensure that you have a stash of your favorites within reach.

Opt for nutrient-dense, non-perishable snacks like trail mix, energy bars, or dried fruit. Make sure the snacks you choose won’t cause any potential discomfort during the flight – for instance, avoid foods that cause bloating or are high in sodium.

Alongside snacks, hydration is another essential aspect of travel wellness. The airplane cabin air is notoriously dry, which can lead to dehydration. Most airlines provide water, but the small plastic cups often are not enough to keep you hydrated throughout the flight.

Enter the reusable thermal bottle. Brands like Hydro Flask, Klean Kanteen, and YETI Rambler offer high-quality products designed to keep your beverages at the desired temperature for extended periods. These bottles are also environmentally friendly, significantly reducing the amount of single-use plastic you would use otherwise.

Just remember to keep it empty until you pass the security checkpoint, and you can fill it up at a water refilling station before you board the plane. With your thermal bottle in hand, you can stay adequately hydrated throughout your journey, making your travel experience more comfortable and enjoyable.


Long-haul flights can feel endless without the right entertainment. Luckily, there are plenty of offline entertainment options to keep you entertained throughout your journey. Here are some suggestions:

  • Download Music: Music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music allow you to download your favorite tunes for offline listening. Create a travel playlist packed with your favorite songs or new albums you’ve been meaning to check out.
  • Download Shows and Movies: Platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ offer an option to download shows and movies to watch offline. Take this opportunity to catch up on a series or finally watch that movie everyone’s talking about.
  • Download Books and Audiobooks: Kindle or iBooks users can download ebooks or audiobooks for the journey. If you’re an Audible subscriber, consider downloading a few audiobooks to enjoy during the flight.
  • Offline Games: Numerous offline games are available on the App Store or Google Play Store. There’s something for everyone, from puzzle games to strategy or simulation games.
  • Noise-Canceling Headphones or Earbuds: A good set of over-ear noise-canceling headphones or a pair of Apple AirPod Pro 2 can make a world of difference in your flight experience, letting you immerse yourself in your entertainment without the distraction of cabin noise. (Edgar loves traveling with the WYZE Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones during long flights and the AirPod Pro 2 during short flights. Both are great at noise cancellation, but the Wyze headphones do take more space and weight, so keep that in mind.)
  • Digital Art and Drawing: If you own an iPad and an Apple Pencil, consider downloading a drawing app like Procreate and express your creativity while flying.
  • Language Learning Apps: Use this time to learn a few phrases in the language of your destination. Apps like Duolingo allow for offline use.


Don’t forget to bring the necessary toiletries in your carry-on. Here’s a quick list of items you should consider packing:

  • Hand Sanitizer & Wipes: Airplanes are breeding grounds for germs. Packing your own travel-size hand sanitizer and wipes can help keep you safe from bacteria and viruses on board. (We recommend Lysol Disinfecting Wipes to-Go to wipe down the seats, armrest, and any high-touch hard plastics. We also use it to wipe down our hotel room or Airbnb.)
  • Lip Balm: Airplane air is exceptionally dry, so make sure to keep those lips hydrated with a good lip balm. (Edgar’s must-have is the Carmex Classic Lip Balm. He can’t leave the house without it in his pocket.)
  • Tissues: You never know when you might need an extra tissue. Pack a few travel packs in your carry-on in case of any emergencies. (We like to keep a pack or two of Puffs Plus Lotion Travel-Size Pocket Facial Tissues in our carry-on if we need to wipe our fingers, mouth, or nose.)
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste: If you have an overnight flight, bringing a travel toothbrush and toothpaste to freshen up before you land is ideal. (Edgar keeps his PHILIPS Sonicare toothbrush and travel-size toothpaste in his backpack to freshen up before landing.)
  • Face Mist: A spritz of face mist can help refresh your skin during the flight and keep it hydrated.

These items should easily fit in any carry-on size and will make all the difference when traveling for long distances.


It is absolutely crucial not to forget any necessary medications when packing for a long-haul flight. Remember, it’s always best to keep your medications in your carry-on bag to ensure they are readily available when needed.

Pack enough of your prescription medicines to last the entire trip, and bringing a few extra doses in case of unexpected delays can be a good idea. Always keep medicines in their original packaging to avoid any issues with security.

Also, consider packing a travel first-aid kit with over-the-counter medications for common travel ailments like motion sickness, pain and fever, allergies, and upset stomach.

Keeping a written note of your specific medical condition and the medication you’re on can be helpful in emergencies, especially if you’re traveling to a country where English isn’t commonly spoken.

Here’s a list of vitamins we take on a regular basis (this is not medical advice; please consult with your doctor):

  • Seed Daily Synbiotic: A unique blend of prebiotics and probiotics designed to support gut health and promote overall well-being, making it an excellent addition to your travel essentials.
  • FlavCity C-Ya later! Vitamin C: An immune-supporting supplement that can help boost your body’s defenses, especially during long-haul flights where exposure to various germs is inevitable, making it a valuable addition to your travel essentials.
  • Solgar Zinc Citrate: Aids in supporting a healthy immune system, an essential asset for travelers exposed to various pathogens, and thus, it makes a vital addition to your travel essentials.
  • Sports Research Triple Strength Omega 3 Fish Oil: High-quality supplement rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health, brain function, and overall wellness, making it a worthwhile inclusion in your travel essentials.
  • NatureMade Iron: This potent supplement provides essential iron, a vital nutrient that helps transport oxygen in the body, supports energy metabolism, and aids in the normal functioning of cells – an excellent choice for maintaining energy levels during long travel days.
  • NatureMade D3: A crucial supplement that provides your body with Vitamin D3, known for its role in maintaining healthy bones and teeth, supporting immune health, and aiding in mood regulation — an indispensable addition to your travel essentials, especially when long flights might limit your exposure to natural sunlight.

Changing Clothes

Having a second set of clothes readily accessible in your carry-on bag can be a game-changer on long-haul flights. Whether it’s being able to change into a fresh outfit upon landing, having a backup in the event of accidental spills during the flight, or preparing for the unlikely scenario of delayed or lost checked luggage, a spare set of clothes can provide invaluable peace of mind during your journey.

Lightweight clothing is a smart choice as it aids in maintaining your carry-on’s weight at a manageable level, and it’s generally easier to pack and carry. Consider packing items like a light cotton T-shirt, breathable underwear, and quick-dry socks in your carry-on. Remember, the goal is to optimize comfort and convenience without adding unnecessary bulk to your travel essentials.

Electronic Devices and Chargers

Last but not least, electronic devices and chargers are probably the most important items to pack in your carry-on bag. This includes items like laptops, tablets, phones, earbuds, cameras, and Kindle, along with their corresponding power banks or chargers.

We recommend packing a power bank, such as the Anker 337 Power Bank, for any device you think might run out of juice during the flight – this can be especially useful if no outlets are available on the plane. It can also be a good idea to bring a splitter to charge multiple devices at once or even share the outlet with your fellow passengers.

We also recommend a Universal Travel Adapter to plug your devices into different outlets, as most international airports have various outlet types.

Finally, don’t forget to back up all important documents before you leave home – this can save a lot of headaches and stress in the event of device failure or loss.

Final Thoughts

Traveling with a carry-on bag can be a great way to reduce the hassle of baggage claim, the risk of lost luggage, and the extra costs often associated with checked baggage. It also provides you with all your essential items within easy reach during your flight.

However, the key to successful carry-on packing lies in thoughtful selection and efficient organization of your travel essentials. You can ensure a comfortable, stress-free journey by prioritizing necessities, adopting a minimalist approach, and utilizing space-saving packing techniques.

Remember, every item you pack should serve a purpose and add value to your travel experience. From important medications to comfortable change of clothes to electronic devices that keep you entertained and connected, everything that goes into your carry-on should enhance, not encumber, your travel experience. With this in mind, pack smart, travel light, and enjoy your flight to your destination!

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