Yellow Van Travels

Packing Your Personal Carry-On

After flying and traveling across the world for 3 weeks, I came to discover what I actually, really, really needed in my backpack/purse. While traveling, I tend to overpack. I like to be prepared and ready for any situation. But after traveling a lot in the last year, especially on quite a few flights, I think I have come up with the perfect list of things to pack in your personal carry-on item. I’ve found a good balance of things that I need as well as a few things that are nice to have that don’t weigh down my bag. There’s nothing worse than hauling too many pounds of stuff that you don’t actually need through the airport.


  1. Phone and Charger: This one is pretty obvious right? Make sure to load up your phone with an audiobook or two or some podcasts.
  2. Power Bank: This is a great way to give your phone a boost, or even to totally charge it, when you can’t get to an outlet.
  3. Headphones: These are key to getting some peace and quiet while flying. I always use Skullcandy ear buds because they are comfy on my ears and they are super good at blocking out outside noise. I also keep my ear buds in a little pouch to keep them from getting too tangled.
  4.  iPad: Load it up with games, coloring apps and books.
  5. Kindle: I absolutely love my Kindle, especially when we are traveling. While some people might not need this and an iPad to read on, it is much easier on my eyes to read on an e-ink screen than it is to read on a backlit screen. Plus, if you’re planning on reading outside, a Kindle is much easier to see. And it has a good battery life. I read on it a lot while we were in Europe for 3 weeks and I only had to charge it once. BONUS TIP: Instead of buying new books for your Kindle, check out your local library. Most libraries  nowadays have digital collections where you can download ebooks and audiobooks for free!
  6. Zipper Pouch: To keep my things organized, I put all of these electronic items in a zipper pouch. Then when I sit down at my seat on the plane, I just pull this guy out and stick it in the seat pouch in front of me. This way I don’t have to keep getting in and out of my bag throughout the flight. The one I have is from RuMe and I really like it.
  7. Journal and Pen: I am a journaler. I write in my journal every night. I like to bring my journal on my flight with me because sometimes I like to write while we fly or I will use the paper and make lists, plan out our music videos, or simply doodle.
  8. Camera: While I don’t use this on my flight, I definitely carry my camera with me instead of checking it or putting it in my carry-on suitcase.
  9. Passport: Definitely needed if flying internationally.
  10. Wallet: I love having this wallet with a wrist strap. (Similar wallets here and here.) It is big enough to hold my cards, gift cards, coupons, a change purse with cash, and even my phone! It fits nicely into my various purses in different sizes and makes transitioning easy from bag to bag. It also is easy to find when it is in a large tote bag or backpack while traveling.
  11. First Aid Kit: Inside of another small zipper pouch I keep a mini first aid kit that holds medicine, bandaids and any other personal medication I’m taking.
  12. Snacks and Gum: I need to eat something every 3-4 hours or else I can get super cranky and start to feel sick so it is super important that I carry snacks with me wherever I go. I almost always have a granola bar of some kind with me. Ben and I also NEED gum on our flights. During take of and landing chewing gum helps our ears to pop and not hurt.
  13. Chapstick: Airplanes always dry out my lips so I always bring my chapstick. This brand is my favorite.
  14. Sunglasses: I almost always take my sunglasses with me, that way I know they have a smaller chance of  breaking.
  15. Sarong: My parents got me this sarong while they were in Hawaii and I absolutely LOVE it while I’m traveling. In addition to using it as a swimsuit cover-up, I use it as a blanket on the airplane. On our long-haul flight to Europe, the plane got so cold! And I liked having my own, light-weight blanket with me to use. Sarongs are nice because they can be big enough to cover you (I’m 5′ 10″ and my sarong fit me perfectly) but they can still fold up to be pretty small. Here is one from Amazon that comes in lots of fun colors.
  16. Water Bottle: Read here about my favorite water bottle
  17. Neck Pillow: Definitely a must if you are planning on sleeping on your flight. Even if you’re not, I liked to have mine around my neck when I was watching movies or reading. This is the same brand as mine and I really liked having it.  If you don’t like light while you sleep, you also might want to pack a sleeping mask.
  18. Compression Socks: These I would recommend if you are flying for more than 2 or 3 hours. I have bad circulation and was worried about sitting for so long on some of my flights, but these compression socks helped a lot with my circulation. They also helped with keeping my feet and legs warm while flying. Here are some similar to mine on Amazon.
Other Things:
  • I also will wear a cardigan while I travel. I like them because they are lightweight but keep me warm. I also can fold (or wad) it up and throw it in my bag without it taking up as much space as a jacket or being as heavy. Only if I’m traveling in winter do I take a coat with me.
  • I also always wear a scarf while I travel, again this helps with keeping me warm but if I get too hot I can always take it off and throw it into my bag. This is my favorite scarf for traveling!
  • My destination determines the type of bag that I use for my personal item. If we are just going to visit my family in Minnesota, I take a large purse or a tote bag. If we are going some where for a longer vacation or are going on a more adventurous trip, I will take a backpack.
**This post contains some affiliate links**